Sunday, January 31, 2010

Monday Micro: My cousins, arrested in Haiti

I'm posting my Monday post a bit early because it is urgent.

You may have heard of the Americans who were arrested in Haiti on Saturday, accused of child trafficking. Three of them are my cousins (my late aunt's son, son-in-law, and grandson.)

These are men of integrity. I'd trust them with my children. I trust that their sole intention was to bring practical and spiritual help and love to needy children.

My dad has written an excellent blog post explaining the situation more fully; it is here.

I'm not sure exactly what caused such a tremendous misunderstanding. I don't know whose fault it is. But, wherever the confusion lie, I can tell you one thing. This is not a group of people trying to smuggle children.

If you pray, please pray that they are released. They are scheduled to see a judge Monday.

We believe that God has them safe in his hands. We look forward to them being safe with their families again.

Two ridiculously easy food yummifiers

Ready for some simple food yummifiers? (I thought about writing "flavor enhancers" but to me that means MSG, and these tips are far more natural than that!)

1. Soup yummifier
When you're making broth-based soups (like the chicken-barley I made yesterday), before it finishes cooking, add a bit of balsamic vinegar. Just enough to add flavor, but not not enough to make it too sour ("to taste.") (In a big pot, a few tablespoons or less should do it.) I saw this on a couple of recipes over at A Year of Slow Cooking, and it makes a huge difference in the flavor of homemade soup! Chickie loves it, too. (Zoodle's not a big soup fan these days.)

2. Pancake yummifier
Heat up some applesauce (we use unsweetened), and put it on top of pancakes to add to their flavor and healthiness. I admit when I did this yesterday, I also put butter and maple syrup on the pancakes, but you could certainly leave off either or both of those. Zoodle, who weighs about 1/4 of what I weigh, ate more pancakes than I did.

Do you have any super-simple ways to yummify your food?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Six Word Saturday!

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's catty (in a good way) blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

Hey, Joss--We liked Dollhouse. Thanks.

Friday, January 29, 2010


My brain's a bit "fuzzified" due to a head cold. (Apparently the "coining silly words" part of my brain turns on when my sinuses are full.)

So here's how I'm dealing with the cold:

1. DayQuil (well, CVS Pharmacy's cheap-o generic equivalent.) Dudes, I'd forgotten how great this stuff is. I mean, for 4 1/2 years straight I was pregnant and/or nursing, and now, for the last few months, the entire world of legal pharmaceuticals has opened up anew for me. No more reading labels and Googling as I worry about meds hurting the baby in me or getting into breast milk. I spent the morning today (yesterday by the time you are reading this) just dealing with the icky cold while I did exciting things like Twittering and cleaning my bathrooms. It wasn't fun. Once I got out there and got some meds, I felt halfway human again.

2. Comfort food. I've got a chicken barley soup of my own devising, sitting in the CrockPot. Let's hope it does its job nicely tonight.

3. Brownies. When the kids go down for their nap, I'm going to make some brownies. I've been assured by my friends on Twitter that brownies are vital elements of the healing process. I admit, I did ask them to tell me that, and openly invited them to lie. And I'm choosing to believe them.

4. Whining. A well-placed phone call to the hubby and a well-timed blog post should not be discounted in one's cold-fighting repertoire.

Hope your body is handling the cold and flu season better than mine is!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Success and perfection

I came across this quote in the February 2010 issue of the magazine Guideposts.

"Every time you practice or attempt something, you are succeeding at getting better--not failing at being perfect."
-Cary E. Krix


What a great thing for us perfectionists to remember!

Are you a blogger? Even a "dud" post keeps you in the habit of writing, and helps you gradually hone your skills.

Are you a runner? An unmotivated day that results in a crummy run still helps you stay in shape, and may help you improve your performance over time.

Are you a mom? Trying to be patient won't result in perfect parenting, but it will grow you as a person, and as you learn to be more patient, your kids will learn from your experience.

And does your daughter want a kitty cat cake for her birthday? If you try to make it yourself, it won't look professional, but you'll learn something that might help when the next big day rolls around!

Of course in all four of those examples, by "you" I mean"I"!

I think I'll keep trying things--new things and old--so that I can "succeed at getting better." That's a lot more realistic than trying to stop "failing at being perfect."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A gift for Anna's family

When I took my very brief hiatus (well, five days of no blogging is a long time for me!), I mentioned I was working on a project for Anna's family. It was a big project--but it was gratifying, and I dearly hope her family will be touched by it.

Anna and I originally knew each other from the message boards on, and as I was reading the words of moms who were shocked and saddened by her death, one mom's comment stood out. She said Anna's family would enjoy reading her blog to remember her. And I thought, Wouldn't it be nice to put her blog into a book?

Within a day, I found out that Winkflash was having that fantastic sale on photo books (which has been extended to February 3!), and I realized that could be an affordable way to print a book of Anna's blog posts. The girls from our board on BabyCenter were fully behind the project, and so I started it.

Anna had been blogging for almost two years, so I wasn't able to fit all her posts into the 100-page book. But I probably got well over half of them in there, enough for her family to remember in full-color detail these last 22 months.

Her much-loved husband Davide can read what Anna wrote about him on their 11th anniversary (and he can recreate one of her recipes if he wants to!)

Her gorgeous boys will have pictures to help them remember the fun they had with their mom and dad every year at the pumpkin/apple orchard.

And while three-month-old Baby Bella won't remember her mother, she can read Anna's words and know that she held a place of incredible love in her mommy's heart.

The other girls on our BabyCenter message board have been so generous, and because of all the donations from them, we were able to order seven books--one for Davide, one for each child, and one for each of Anna's parents.

Reading the blog posts was a special experience for me. I occasionally read Anna's blog while she was alive, but not regularly, and I got to know her better as I did this project. Some posts brought me laughter; others comforted me; others brought tears again--but even that was an important part of my grieving.

Nothing will take away the fact that this was a terrible tragedy for a beautiful young family. But as time passes, I hope and pray Anna's loved ones will find real solace in their memories of her deep love and vibrant wit--qualities that shine from her writing at My Goofy Life.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

$20 Amazon gift card giveaway from Cate!

$20! That would support my Amazon habit for at least 30 minutes!

Yep, Cate has an Amazon Gift Card giveaway over at Seven Days Seven Answers. Enter, and let her know I sent you!

All right, I'm back.... Here's a freakin' blog post for ya.

"Mommy," Chickie told me yesterday, "I want an apple cut in slices."

"Okay," I replied. "You want me to cut it up?"

"Yeah," she said. "I want it in slices because I don't want to eat the freakin' core. I don't want to eat the freakin' core. Freakin' core. I like saying freakin' core. Freakin' core...."

It was at about this time that I escaped into the laundry room to let out my laughter, Chickie's "freakin' core" repetitions following me the whole way. I called The Engineer to giggle a little...and to suggest that we be a little more careful what we say around our kids.

I returned to the kitchen and had a friendly discussion with my four-year-old. "'Freakin'' just isn't a very nice word for kids to say," I told her, "and I'm sorry Mommy and Daddy have said it." I gave her "darn" as an alternative. She complied, calling it a "darn it core."

I posted the little exchange on Facebook, and it caused an interesting discussion, which I've pasted here:

Jeff (a theatre friend):
When did "freakin'" go from euphamism to "not nice word"? Perhaps not having kids I don't get these memos.

Mellodee (a friend who also happens to be a great blogger):
Nrth and Jeff: I think that what tips the scales on what words are or are not acceptable for kids is the age factor of the kid and the severity (offensiveness??) of the word NOT being said.

Many of the substitutes have become part of the common lexicon, i.e., absolutely nothing offensive about darn or gosh (originally substitutes for d*mn and God). They have become common on their own merit. Freakin', however, hasn't reached that status. It is still a substitute for the "F-word" and everybody knows it! A four year old should have absolutely no idea what that word means, connotates, or describes! That's what makes it a word you don't want to hear from kids....

Mellodee (again):

That's supposed to say Beth and Jeff! My 'freakin' fingers were on the wrong "freakin' keys!!! :)

Linda--Your explanation is freakin' brilliant. :)

And I think Nrth is acceptable as a euphemism for Beth.

So where's the line on what our kids should or shouldn't say? Well, that line needs to be drawn by parents, depending on their sensitivities, convictions, culture, the child's age, etc. For us, the line falls between "darn" and "freakin'," at least while our kids are young.

I must admit though, whatever its level of inappropriateness, Chickie's resolute statements about an apple core today were hilarious. Freakin' hilarious.

(Guess I'll have to be more careful what I type when Chickie learns to read....)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Short break, and a deal on photo books

I may not be around for a few days. I'm working on a project for Anna's family--more on that when it's complete!

The project will be printed at Winkflash--they have a fantastic deal on photo books right now. They're offering some really great prices for photo books of any size up to 100 pages! If you want to make a long photo book, this is an incredible deal. Click here for more info, and be sure to use the code "ITSBACK" when checking out, to get your discount.

See you in a few days or so....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The plastic cabinet

Like a lot of other small-child-inhabited households, we have a kitchen cabinet full of "safe" items (primarily plastic storage containers) where Zoodle and Chickie can play. It's the only low cabinet in the kitchen without a childproof lock on it.

It's messy, though--I get tired of cleaning it up over and over! I've considered putting a lock on it. But they like to get inside and play in it. Zoodle even likes to go in there by himself, opening and closing the door.

So tell in the world can I lock these doors when there is such a cute face behind them?!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In memory of Anna

Online friends can be real friends.

Anna was one of those friends. I "met" her through, where we were both active on a message board for parents of kids Chickie's age. Her son was born the same month as Chickie. We got to know each other better through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and email. She wasn't one of my closest online friends, but we definitely knew, respected, and liked each other.

Anna had three boys--Anthony (11), Matthew (7), and Christopher (4)--and loved them to pieces. When she got pregnant again a year ago and found out it was a girl, she was overjoyed! Her daughter Isabella is three months old.

Anna was a passionate person. She was passionately committed to her family--she loved those kids! She was passionate recently about the Twilight series of books. I haven't even read the books or seen the movies, but I know she was on "Team Edward!"

Anna passed away yesterday. She'd had what should have been a routine surgery, tubal ligation. It was the last thing she posted about on her blog. What she didn't know when she posted that, was that she was going to get an infection that would very quickly take her life.

I sent her a sugar cookie recipe recently. Isn't it odd how we grasp onto those tiny connections when we lose someone? When we did an art pen pal project on this blog some time ago, Anna was the one who sent her artwork to me. I am so glad I still have it.

Anna's husband Davide and her four young children are in my prayers, and if you're the praying sort, please add them to yours too.

Goodbye, Anna.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday Micro: Downside of having a kitty cat cake

Kids are always vocal about which cake pieces they want. "I want a corner!" "I want the one with a flower on it!" "I want one with lots of icing!" (Actually, the "lots of icing" thing is what most of the requests come down to, isn't it?)

But it's just weird when the cake is in the shape of a kitty cat. "I want the eyes!" "I want the back paws!" "I want the rear end!" "I want the tail!"

Thankfully, the oddness of eating various parts of a kitty cat didn't seem to be weird enough to keep any of the kids from chowing down.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

First 5K!

Well, I did it!

I was planning to run a local 5K race Saturday, but with Chickie's party at 11 a.m. I just didn't have time to drive 40 minutes one way to run. Instead I used the mapping software at Daily Mile to create my own 5K route in and around my neighborhood.

I ran the whole way! I did 3.2 miles (a touch longer than 5 km, which is 3.1 miles) in 34 minutes 28 seconds (average 10:45 per mile.) I realized at the beginning I was actually scared, but I feel great getting past that big milestone of running over three miles. Much of the first half of the run was uphill, which was really not fun. But then the downhill part definitely made it worthwhile!

The Couch-to-5K program is awesome, people. Running 5 km is a big deal to someone like me, who always hated running. I highly recommend the program!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Six Word Saturday!

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's catty (in a good way) blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

Why, yes, I do eat cats.


We are having a very small birthday party for Chickie today--just a few of her closest buddies from church and their families. She specifically requested a "kitty cat cake" and stipulated that it should be pink with sprinkles. The cake above is what I came up with. It's amateur, but I had fun making it (and I'm sure the kids will have fun eating it!)

Friday, January 15, 2010

10 years...4 homes...2 kids...1 great life

On January 15, 2000, the world was still functioning normally (despite the Y2K scare a couple of weeks earlier.) And we'd counted on that being the case for our big day.

It was 80 degrees in Phoenix that day, 20 degrees warmer than normal--a lovely day to get married. It was a beautiful, meaningful ceremony, and The Engineer and I started our life together.

How in the world have ten years passed? We are in our fourth home (2 apartments, 2 houses, one BIG move to a different state.) Our family size has doubled (tripled if you count Hammer the dog and Joshua the fish.) Life is so sweet and so good.

I'm smiling as I write this. I absolutely love the fact that I am enjoying being married to my husband now more than I ever have before. Time has changed us and our relationship. In some ways we're more different than we used to be. (We have some intense political discussions!) But our life together is somehow both more comfortable and more passionate than it used to be.

I don't mean to give the impression that our relationship is perfect. We can both be hotheaded and stubborn, and we have plenty of room for growth. Hopefully we'll have at least four more decades together so that we can continue to grow our way, and fight our way, and love our way into more and more closeness.

I'm blessed to have him. And you know what? He's blessed to have me too.

Fairy tales with happy endings are nice.

But real-life tales with happy middles are even better.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy birthday, Chickie!

Chickie is four years old today!

January 14, 2006

January 14, 2007

January 14, 2008

January 15, 2009

January 13, 2010

I love you, my wonderful Chickie!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Merry Christmas to ME!

I got my Christmas gift yesterday!

In November I wrote about the Cuisinart stand mixer I'd decided I wanted for Christmas.

Cuisinart stand mixer

At the time, I'd decided on the Cuisinart instead of what I'd originally planned to get, a KitchenAid.

Kitchen Aid Artisan mixer

When we were ready to purchase the Cuisinart, though, Amazon was out of stock. I could have bought it from a third-party seller on Amazon for about the same price, but I wasn't happy with the third-party sellers' reviews. And everywhere else was charging more.

So I decided to wait. And in the meantime, I remembered seeing that Kenmore Elite (by Sears) had come out with a heavy-duty stand mixer. I decided to look into it--and I liked what I saw. I waited for it to go on sale, and yesterday I picked it up for almost $50 off the normal price. Isn't is pretty?

Kenmore Elite stand mixer

Kenmore Elite stand mixer

Kenmore Elite stand mixer

I haven't used it yet (except testing to make sure it works, without anything in the bowl.) When I've had a chance to use it for various recipes, I'll post a review. But for now, I'll let you know why I chose it. This will be pretty in-depth, in the hopes of helping others who may now or in the future be considering these mixers. (In other words, if you're not in the market for a mixer...this may bore you to tears!)

Several features were important and/or interesting to me as I was comparing three brands of mixers: KitchenAid, Cuisinart, and Kenmore Elite.

  • KitchenAid: 1 year warranty. This is what put KitchenAid out of the running for me. As I read reviews on Amazon, I found that many people feel KitchenAid mixers aren't as sturdy as they used to be. I read multiple stories of people who had KitchenAid mixers for a relatively short time--but unfortunately over a year--and then had issues serious enough to make repairs impractical. Chances are the mixer would last for years, but I didn't want to risk getting a "lemon" that broke after 13 months.
  • Cuisinart: 3 year warranty, 5 years on the motor. Nice!
  • Kenmore Elite: 5 year warranty (does not cover beaters and bowls), in-store service. If something happens, I don't have to mail this heavy mixer to a service center; I just have to bring it to the nearest Sears where it will be repaired or replaced. Very nice.
My previous mixer (a Sunbeam, which has lasted me ten years) has a large and a small bowl, and I have loved that convenience.
  • KitchenAid: Tilt-head mixers come with a large bowl. (Size varies.) A smaller (3-quart) bowl can be purchased for a little under $30. Small bowls cannot be used with the lift-bowl mixers.
  • Cuisinart: Comes with a 5.5-quart bowl. No smaller bowls available. If a smaller bowl had been available, I would have stuck with the Cuisinart.
  • Kenmore Elite: Comes with a 5-quart bowl and a 3-quart bowl.
  • KitchenAid: Various attachments are readily available, since KitchenAid is such a popular brand.
  • Cuisinart: Various attachments (including some cool ones like a blender) are readily available online, though probably not sold by as many stores as KitchenAid.
  • Kenmore Elite: Uses KitchenAid brand attachments. That's convenient!
Wattage varies on the different brands/models, but I have read that wattage is not a true measure of how powerful a mixer is. From the reviews I read, I felt that any of the three brands would be powerful enough for me. (I would have purchased at least a mid-grade KitchenAid model.)

  • KitchenAid: Not a feature.
  • Cuisinart: Built-in timer that will shut off the mixer after a certain length of time. I'm not sure how often I would use this, but I find it to be a very cool feature.
  • Kenmore Elite: Not a feature.
Pouring shield/splash guard:
This is to make it easy to add ingredients while the mixer is running. (Please see the second comment in the Comments section below--some users don't find this feature helpful. I have seen one or two reviews online that express a similar opinion.)
  • KitchenAid: The Artisan (5-quart) stand mixer is currently $242.99 on Amazon, with a $30 mail-in rebate bringing the price down to $212.99. No tax.
  • Cuisinart: The 5.5-quart model is currently $260.08 on Amazon. However, in the past I have seen it for just under $250 with a free food processor attachment by mail. No tax.
  • Kenmore Elite: Normally $249.99. It is currently on sale for $224.99 (through 1/16/10.) Online it is an extra 10% off, bringing the price to $202.49. You can order it online for in-store pick-up at that price. The black mixers are not online; only white and red are available. My local store matched the online price on the black mixer (even though the Sears website said that price was not eligible for price matching.) Sales tax added brought the total up to $219.20. These go on sale frequently. A manager at Sears told me most things go on sale about once a month, but I know this mixer has been on sale two out of the last three weeks. If you decide to buy one, wait for the sale.
In a few weeks or so I'll be back to report how my new mixer is performing!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Monday Micro (a day late): Mac vs. PC

Warning: Geek humor ahead.

There are two guys who go to our church who hadn't met each other until a Men's Breakfast last weekend, when they were seated across from each other.

"I don't think we've actually met," J said to C. They introduced themselves, and shook hands.

"Actually," one of the other men pointed out, "C works for Apple, and J works for Microsoft."

"Oh...." C said. He smiled as he took the hand he'd just used in the handshake, and pointedly wiped it off on his shirt, as if to wipe off the germs.

"Oh, don't worry, C!" The Engineer assured him. "You can't possibly catch any virus J would have."

Monday, January 11, 2010

Giveaway: Brush Dance Stationery

This giveaway, for $25 of awesome product from Brush Dance Staionery, has been moved to my giveaway/review blog. Click here to enter!

If you already entered, please be assured your entry DOES still count; I have printed it out. No need to enter again.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Growing our family (no, I'm not pregnant)

I've blogged quite a bit about Freecycle, an online group that allows people to give away things they don't need anymore. The other day someone posted that they had a betta fish to give away. On a whim, I said, "Chickie, would you like a fish?"

"What for?" she asked.

"For a pet," I said.

"And then we would eat it?" she asked.

I had to explain that no, we wouldn't eat it, we'd keep it in a bowl. She agreed that would be a good idea. I emailed the person offering the fish, and a couple of hours later I picked it up.

His name was Fred, but I didn't have any qualms about changing it (unlike my hesitation to change Hammer's name.) I mean, really, it's not like he's going to be obeying my commands. ("Sit, Fred! No, sit!!) So I let Chickie name him, and she decided to call him Joshua, after a friend of hers.

I didn't check with The Engineer before requesting the fish, figuring he wouldn't mind such a low-maintenance pet. When he got home, I told him I needed to go pick up a fish, and explained the situation to him. "Then are we going to fry him up and eat him?" he asked. Like father, like daughter.

The thing is, I don't have any experience with fish (except the same type Chickie and The Engineer have--dietary experience.) Joshua is a dark red color, so his features kind of blend in, and the curvature of the bowl makes it hard to see him clearly at times. The morning after I brought him home, I checked on him...and he was perfectly still at the edge of the bowl, at the top of the water. As I looked at him, I thought he was even upside down.

I frantically Tweeted, "Our new fish is DEAD!! I followed the instructions when I changed the water yesterday! How did I kill him so quickly?!" I explained to Chickie that he was dead--I'd already told her the day before that he would eventually die since these fish don't live a long time like we do. She didn't seem too upset.

I picked up the bowl so that I could send him to fish heaven (conveniently located through a porcelain gate instead of pearly gates.) And when the water in the bowl sloshed a bit, little Joshua suddenly started swimming! I realized he was not upside down and obviously was not dead.

Oh..." I Tweeted, "he was just sleeping. But honestly he seems pretty...lethargic."

I was promptly informed by wonderful Twitter friends that betta fish don't really do much of anything and barely even breathe. All right, glad to know it.

So we've now managed to keep this fish alive for four days. Never having been a fish owner, I'm going to be thankful for every morning that he's not floating upside down (really upside down, that is.). Let's hope I do better with fish than I do with plants.

red betta fish

P.S. I wrote this post a couple of days ago. I'm happy to report that Joshua is nicely adjusting. Yesterday he was so much more active, and there were bubbles at the top of the bowl--I'm told this means a betta is happy. He seems to be really relaxing and I'm surprised how much I'm enjoying watching him swim around his little home!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Six Word Saturday!

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's booyahtiful blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

Freezing temperatures PLUS high pollen? Unfair!

Friday, January 8, 2010

I did it!

Well...I did it!

I finished the Couch-to-5K program yesterday (in freezing weather, no less.) Yesterday was Week 9 Day 3. Just like Week 9 Days 1 & 2, it was a 30-minute run (preceded, as always, by a five-minute walk.)

Because I have been using the programs time goals instead of distance goals, I'm not yet running three miles. I'm up to 2.69 miles, at a pace of 11:06 a mile. I plan to keep running three times a week for 30 minutes, and I hope in a few more weeks I'll be down to 10 minutes a mile.

I have found two 5K races to enter soon; the first is a week from tomorrow. So even though I haven't run a true 5K (3.2 miles) yet, that will change soon!

This is really the coolest fitness goal I've ever achieved. I hated running, and now I love it.

I did it!! (And the coolest part is... I'm excited to keep doing it!)

Thursday, January 7, 2010


On Twitter yesterday, Call Me Cate said, "I think if I ever have a kid or get a new pet, I'm gonna let you name him/her/it. You come up w cool names. #HammerChickieZoodle."

Well, I had to admit that I didn't come up with the name Hammer. In fact, while Chickie and Zoodle are, of course, not my kids' real names, Hammer is my dog's real name.

Before we had kids, our first dog had to be put to sleep, and we quickly wanted to get another. We contacted a Schnauzer rescue organization, and they put us in touch with a military family that needed to get rid of their (freakishly large) Miniature Schnauzer, since they were planning to move and couldn't keep him at their new location.

We got in touch with them. They told us the dog's name was Hammer. We didn't really care for the name, but figured if we took him, we'd let him keep it; he was over a year old, and we didn't want to change his name.

So we went to meet him, and asked this Marine family why they'd named him Hammer.

"Well," they replied, "his full name is Hammer of Justice." Wow. We decided to lose the last 2/3 of his name and stick with the short version.

So here he is--Hammer, formerly Hammer of Justice. Our crazy, hyper, currently shaggy dog.

shaggy dog Schnauzer

dog named Hammer

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Are my teeth WHITE enough?

I've got teeth on the brain.

Oh, wait, that sounds kind of weird. My teeth are, thankfully, in my gums, right where they're supposed to be, not on my brain. Let's start this over.

I've got teeth on my mind. (Much better.) Chickie and I went to the dentist yesterday, and it was a good visit. I'm lucky to have healthy teeth; so much of that is just based on genetics. I have bad eyes and good teeth. I don't have a mouthful of fillings, but I do have eyes full of contact lenses.

Anyway, with teeth on my mind, I found myself wondering, Are my teeth white enough?

Look at pictures of modern celebrities. Their teeth are usually amazingly white, just short of blindingly white. Clearly when it's someone's business to be beautiful in 2010, part of their job includes getting their teeth whitened.

I tried an over-the-counter tooth whitening gel several years ago, but I didn't stick with it, and I don't know how much difference it made. These days, my teeth are their natural color. They aren't perfectly white, but don't have terrible staining either.

non whitened teeth

They're pretty white, right? Ah, but they could look like this, for a nominal fee:

digital tooth whitening

I have to admit, it bugs me that we're getting to the point that the natural color of teeth just isn't white enough in our culture. Hardly anyone has teeth that are naturally as white as bleached teeth are.

But then I think about my straight teeth. I'd be very snaggletoothed if it hadn't been for a good orthodontist. I've never regretted getting braces; our culture values straight teeth, and I enjoy having them. So what's the difference between getting braces and whitening your teeth? Between brow waxing and breast enhancement? Between lipstick and collagen injections?

We all make judgment calls about how much we'll artificially alter our appearances--about what's reasonable and what's just too much. When it comes down to it, there's nothing inherently evil about any of these things. If you bleach your teeth, that's fine! (I might do it someday!) I simply wish we lived in a culture that didn't give us so many messages saying, "Who you are isn't quite enough. But we can sell you the solution."

For now I think I'll stick with my somewhat white teeth. But looking at the photos above, my brows are begging me to find the tweezers....

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Rediscovering chai

I was at Starbucks recently and heard someone order a soy chai latte. Mmm, I thought to myself, I haven't had one of those in a long time.

When I was introduced to chai several years ago, I loved it. Those spices--cinnamon, nutmeg, whatever it is they use--are comforting and delicious. With sweet vanilla soy milk...mmm. I was in love.

Then I just drank too much of it, and got tired of it. So it had been a few years since I'd had one. Until today. I gave the Starbucks barista my cup (remember, you get a discount for bringing your own!) and ordered a grande soy chai latte.

It was good. The flavor was what I'd remembered, but it was also fresh and delicious again. I've rediscovered chai.

What have you enjoyed in the past that you'd like to rediscover now? It may be a drink or it may be a hobby or it may be a friend. It's worth thinking about, isn't it?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday Micro: Aaaargh!

This morning was supposed to be the last official day of my Couch-to-5K program. I was supposed to do a 30-minute run (not 5K yet for me, but I'm getting there.) After 21 minutes, I suddenly caught my foot on my dog (who runs with me, his leash tied to my waist), and I went down. My hands and knees hit first, then my hip, and lastly my head. (And judging from how my shoulder feels, I either hit it, or it took the brunt of the force when my hands broke my fall.)

I don't think I have any real injuries, but we'll see how I feel tomorrow. I expect I'll be somewhat sore. I certainly didn't feel (physically or emotionally) like continuing to run, so I walked straight home.

I've been working so hard on this program, and to be stopped with a fall, 2/3 of the way through my last run, is so disheartening! I know I can finish it on my next running day (Thursday), but for now I'm having just a bit of a pity party. (And pity parties don't burn nearly as many calories as running does.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Extra cake

After The Engineer's birthday party last week, I looked in dismay at my kitchen table--there was a lot of cake left over. I'd made two, thinking one might not be enough. But one would have been just right, so after the guests had their fill, I was left with a whole lot of delicious chocolate cake.

I knew there was no way we'd eat all of it. I contemplated throwing most of it away. But first, I decided to try something else. I sat down on my computer and drafted an email to the local Freecycle group, of which I'm an active member.

In the subject line, I typed,

OFFER: Cake.

I began the email,

Okay, I'll start out by saying this is certainly the strangest thing I've ever tried to Freecycle, but it's worth a shot!

I explained the excess of cake filling up my house, and added,

My kids might be willing to eat cake for breakfast, lunch, & dinner for the next few days, but we've decided that might not be the wisest thing to allow. So it's either give it away or throw it away.

Anybody want some CAKE?

I went on to describe the cake, including links to the cake and frosting recipes. And then I clicked "Send," and waited.

Now, I knew that many people who saw the offer might think, "No way I'd take a half-eaten cake from some stranger." But I also knew the alluring power of cake. Chocolate cake.

And sure enough, a couple of hours later, the cake had found an enthusiastic new owner (minus a few pieces we reserved for the birthday boy.)

Freecycle is just the best. Or is chocolate cake the best? Either way, it ended up being a perfect combination.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Six Word Saturday!

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's wordilicious blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

Brand new year. Same great life.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A limerick letter for 2010

I'm still loving the blog Seven Days Seven Answers, with its daily writing cues. Yesterday's cue was, "Write a letter giving yourself instructions for the new year."

Here is my response. I hope I can remember it throughout 2010!