Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring Cleaning

Remember reading about spring cleaning in all the Little House books? You know, drag everything out of the house, scrub the floors, black the stove, wash everything, wash and starch and iron the curtains, unpack the strawticks and wash them, restuff the straw ticks, tighten the bed ropes, etc., etc., etc.?? Seemed like backbreaking work (and probably was), but I'm not sure that those Ingalls girls had it any worse off than we do.

For one thing, they traveled a lot lighter and had way fewer possessions than we did. No computers. No stacks of paperwork. No Happy Meal toys or sports equipment or CDs and DVDs all over everywhere. There's something to that simpler life, even if killer blizzards and clouds of grasshoppers aren't on my list of "things to experience during my lifetime."

Instead, I have 11 rooms and a hallway to tackle, not including the garage and screen porch, which are hemorrhaging junk right now. Thank goodness the church rummage sale is coming up in three weeks. I could use a break. For now, I'm starting small. Just finished the laundry room floor. It could use some cosmetics (I can smell the Honey-Do list expanding), but nothing drastic. Then we move forward, one room at a time. The kids' clothes and toys need winnowing. My clothes and toys need winnowing. Hell, I need winnowing (it's ridiculous how little my wardrobe has become).

So, baby steps. And maybe some new straw in my tick.

Friday, March 28, 2008

That Figures.

Spring Break's starting.
It's gorgeous outside.
I have a temperature of 102 and have to go to the doctor.

Is it just me, or do the karma gods save up this stuff and laugh their metaphysical asses off at us?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ten Places You'd Take a Tourist to See in Your Hometown

Love this topic, since I live in Tourist Mecca. Try these on for size when you get sick of Mickey.
  1. Maitland Art Center - The coolest little place you've never been. Andre Smith founded this artists' colony in the 20s, and now it's home to studios, a gallery, and some very cool Mayan fantastic gardens. My kids love going here.
  2. Wekiwa Springs State Park - Florida looks like this, people.
  3. Park Avenue, Winter Park - Old World shopping across from the hallmark park. My first jobs were st shops and restaurants on Park Ave. Come by before the mall stores and conglomerates buy up all the unique shops.
  4. Dinky Dock - Just down the street from Rollins College, this is where Fleet Peeples taught nearly everyone in the Maitland/Winter Park area to swim. Also a good place to go necking with your boyfriend.
  5. Lil 500 - Kitschy and loud. Three go-kart tracks. You're probably big enough for the fast track. Too bad the giant slide got dismantled.
  6. Morse Museum of American Art - Largest collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany art in the country. Beautiful stuff, especially the chapel Tiffany created for Laurelton Hall.
  7. Enzo's - Favorite restaurant in town. You'd never believe it was as good as it is, given the neighbors (kinda-skeevy-looking businesses), but behind that white wall is amazing Italian food in a beautiful setting on Lake Fairy.
  8. Cassadaga - Okay, this isn't technically in my hometown, but it's worth the short drive up I-4. The place to go if you want to talk to a medium.
  9. Blue Spring State Park - Florida looks like this, too. Come in the winter months to see the manatees.
  10. Leu Gardens - Gorgeous camellias in the winter, and georgeous everything else year round. This one's special because I had my wedding reception here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

Don't you think they should make these in chocolate? Enjoy your day!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Black Is the Color of My Own True Hair

Well, not black, actually, but very, very dark brown. With white. Lots of white. I am my father's daughter, after all.

I finally made the decision to let my hair go natural. Natural, for me, will be lots of grey (white) mixed in with this incredibly dark brown that my mom says came straight off my Charleston great-grandmother's head. Or maybe my Portuguese great-grandmother from her side of the family. Either way, it's very unlike the medium golden brown I'd been coloring it.

Since color had finally been decided, I worked up the nerve to get it cut, too. Now it's shorter, curlier (trés bouncy), and whiter. My students call that blaze a wisdom streak. Let's hope they're right. What the cut really shows is the huge difference between natural me and Clairol me. Did you know that haircolor oxidizes on your head? Oxidizes, as in rusts. Which is why "golden" haircolor starts to look red after a while.

All this goes to show that I'll never end up on a makeover show. The first two things they do are 1) color grey hair and 2) straighten curly hair. Since I've made my peace with both, guess you won't be catching me on How Do I Look? anytime soon!

So what do you I crazy, or just comfortable?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Classy Dame: Meryl Streep


Ah, Meryl; woman of a thousand accents. She can make you believe she came from anywhere: Denmark, Australia, Poland. She can make you believe she's anyone: a prisoner, a divorcée, a whitewater rafting enthusiast, a powerful magazine editor. She can do just about anything. She's probably America's greatest living actress. She's also managed to raise four normal kids and stay married for thirty years to another artist (you have no idea how weird a house with two artistic temperaments can get). She's professional, giving, and graceful. I want to be her when I grow up.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Banks Suck

One of my stock classroom jokes is "God put me on this earth for a reason, but it was not to teach math." I tend to screw up simple math, even though I can write out geometry proofs. Go figure. I got the vocabulary, but my sister got my grandmother's steel-trap mind for numbers.

That steel-trap mind would have come in handy tonight. I just spent the last hour on the phone arguing with my credit card company. Apparently they sent some boneheaded credit information letter back in September--which I never got, BTW--that basically said that unless I wanted to opt out of this new policy and keep my fixed rate, the next time I charged anything to card, they'd jack up my interest rate into the stratosphere.

Okay, two flaws. One, no one in their right mind, including someone who has number issues, will agree to tripling their credit card interest rate. Normal people like to slash their rates, not hike them. Second, what's with the Columbia Record and Tape Club "send the card back or else" threat marketing? CR&TC (now BMG Music Service) doesn't even do that anymore because it's such a colossal headache, and it pisses people off, to boot. Apparently, though, now credit card companies do it.

Long story short: I haven't charged anything on this card for well over a year because I'm being a good Do-Bee and paying off the balance. I had to write a cash advance check for like NEW GLASSES FOR MY KIDS, and suddenly my interest rate bounces from a manageable 7.9% up to 19.98%. I'm on automatic payment. I had no idea my interest rate would nearly triple. Now my automatic payment isn't covering the new bogus minimum, and I get whacked with a late charge on top of that.

So I call the customer service number. I get a guy, I explain as calmly as possible that I'm a bit pissed (hard work considering the multicolored steam pouring from my ears). He tells me about the CR&TC opt-out letter. I tell him that I never got it and would never have agreed to it because it's absurd, he puts me on hold for about a zillion hours, then comes back on saying that I'm past due and there's nothing he can do, sorry. He's a real butthead about it. I hang up. I fume. I very nearly throw things. I call the number back and get a different guy. Him I can work with. He quickly determines that a) I'm not a loon and b) the rate bounce is, indeed, completely whack and not my fault. The computer still won't let him fix things. So he picks and tweaks and gets the "past due" amount adjusted and gives me the number for the nice people who will have to deal with the rate adjustment, but I have to call tomorrow since they're not in right now.

No wonder the economy is so screwed. I sure hope the rate guys eat their Wheaties in the morning, or it is going to get very, very ugly in the banking world.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

These Words of Mine

I'm not actually channeling Natasha Bedingfield this morning--although DD is obsessively listening to this song and "Unwritten" over and over and over--my sister sent me an internet game yesterday that's reaping some interesting results. Basically, you reply to that person with one word that you think describes her/him, then forward along to a bunch of your friends to see what emerges. Here's what I've received so far:

incisive onmiscient talkative peppy optimistic passionate unwavering effusive freak dedicated spastic beautiful

Interesting, what my friends and relations think of me (take a wild guess which word came from my sister, haha). Wonder what others would add, or what they all mean?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tagged! Weird and Random

Dara Edmondson tagged me to list 10 weird, random facts or habits about myself. Then choose 10 people to tag. So, if you're reading this and you haven't been tagged yet, consider yourself tagged!
  1. I'm a stacker. My desk looks like the Himalayas, but I can find anything on it within ten seconds.
  2. I hate to fold laundry, but I don't mind ironing.
  3. I can tie a cherry stem into a knot with my tongue.
  4. I used to be an Open-class (aka professional) Scottish Highland dancer.
  5. I never grew out of my Misty of Chincoteague phase. If I ever hit the lottery or the NYT list, I'm buying a horse.
  6. I'm a member of Mensa.
  7. I chew fairly. One bite on the right side, then a bite on the left. I can take the Libra tendency for balance a bit too far. To wit: I separate M&Ms (or Reese's Pieces, Skittles, etc.) by color and eat them in pairs.
  8. I can't stand holiday displays in stores that have been installed way too early, like Halloween stuff in July or Christmas in September. I have been known to embarrass the family and half the staff of the store in question by voicing my displeasure at the top of my lungs.
  9. I love fountain pens and have seven of them currently in use, each inked with a different color (smoke grey, royal blue, turquoise, green, orange, hot pink, and purple).
  10. I quote movies. Lots of movies. Need some comic relief for your cocktail party? I'm your gal. I can probably do Monty Python and the Holy Grail from start to finish, along with Raising Arizona, The Princess Bride, etc., etc...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rode Hard, Put Up Wet

Ever have one of those days where you've worked pretty much the whole time, but then you turn around to see what you've accomplished, and realize you can't really tell? Yep. I've had a day like that.

Evil FCAT testing is upon us in the Sunshine State, so that means room changes, strange schedules, missing kids, stress, bureaucracy, you name it. Grades go in in about two weeks, so there's that. And the regular gig at church. And DS's baseball schedule. And DD's soccer schedule, which couldn't conflict more with baseball if it were designed to do so. And Easter's in two weeks, so that means wall to wall music, and I barely have the strength to drag myself to choir practice, much less make a joyful noise.


And the house is a wreck, and the laundry needs doing or it'll take over. Shouldn't really matter, since I can only fit into about four outfits anyway. But frankly, the idea of adding time at the gym is about the last mental straw. I know, if I just exercise I'll feel so much better and have so much more energy. Right now, the thought of exercise is about as enticing as chewing sand.

I'm whipped. Anybody got any sure-fire suggestions?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

10 Things You're Looking Forward to in the Spring

  1. Baseball. Spring training in Grapefruit League territory is a must.
  2. Orange blossoms. These are blooming all over already, and the scent is so wonderful.
  3. Kite week at the elementary school.
  4. Open windows. Spring in Central Florida lasts about 3.2 nanoseconds, so you have to grab those sunny, lower-humidity days whenever you can.
  5. Bare feet. Oh, who am I kidding. I go barefoot all the time!
  6. Slurpees. The best on sunny afternoons.
  7. Spring break! A week away from my school darlings is precious, precious time--especially since they can't wait to see the back end of me at that point!
  8. Soccer games. DD is back in the shin guards. Not so jazzed at the idea of having to drive from the diamond on one end of town to the field on the other, but them's the breaks when you have two kids playing different sports.
  9. Easter baskets. SweeTart chicks and ducklings, Starburst jelly beans, Butterfinger eggs, and the one Cadbury Egg I permit myself each year--chocolate creme, of course. No Peeps allowed.
  10. Memorial Day. Because Baby Bro will be home--finally--from Afghanistan.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Chili Princess Redux

w00t! Won third place in the church youth group's annual chili cookoff again! Last year's recipe, Not-So-Dumb Blonde Chili, was an outgrowth of a family-favorite white chicken chili I've been making for awhile. This year's entry was a totally new thing. As in, I made it up as I went along this morning and prayed. Looks like everything turned out okay, considering one of the judges was Heather McPherson, the Food Editor of The Orlando Sentinel!

If it's cold up your way, you're welcome to mix up a batch for yourself and warm yourself up, Florida style. Here's the recipe:

mimi's Black Magic Chili

1-1/2 lbs. chorizo
1 onion, diced
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, divided
1 T garlic (2-3 cloves, minced)
1 can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chiles
5 cans black beans, drained (leave some liquid)
4 T sofrito
2 T oregano
1 T Everglades Heat
1-1/2 T cumin
2 T key lime juice
olive oil

In a large frying pan, simmer the chorizo in a cup or so of water until cooked through. While chorizo is simmering, dice onion and four of the chipotle peppers (with their sauce). Store remaining peppers for another recipe. Remove chorizo from pan and cut into bite-sized slices. Drain pan, drizzle with olive oil, and return to heat. Sauté onion, pepper, and garlic until onion is transparent; add Ro-Tel and chorizo; cook until well-blended and chorizo is starting to crumble. In 5-qt. Crock Pot. combine beans, sofrito, spices, and lime juice. Add chorizo mixture and stir to combine. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours. Yummy with shredded cheese, sour cream, and blue corn tortilla chips.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Gutsy Broad: Dolly Parton


For such a tiny thing, Dolly Parton has a way oversized personality. The wigs. The nails. The sequins, The wisecracks. And, of course, the bazooms. She's the ultimate American success story, rising from poverty in the mountains of Tennessee into an Oscar-nominated, Grammy-winning, songwriting force of nature. From the lovely "Coat of Many Colors" to the classic "Jolene" to the ulimate power ballad "I Will Always Love You" (Whitney can't hold a candle to the Vince Gill/Dolly duet, BTW), Miss Dolly has enriched our common landscape.

Plus, she's hilarious. About those bazooms: "
People always ask me if they're mine. Yes, they are...all bought and paid for." And "I have little feet because nothing grows in the shade." About her fashion sense: "It takes a lot of money to make a person look this cheap!" About life: "If you don't like the road you're walking, start paving another one." And about understanding yourself: "There's a heart beneath the boobs and a brain beneath the wig." And my absolute favorite: "I'm not offended by dumb blonde jokes because I know that I'm not dumb. I also know I'm not blonde."

Now that's a woman to emulate.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

10 Favorite Drinks

  1. Iced tea. Real Southern belles can drink iced tea during a blizzard. I proved this last week in New York, drinking iced tea like it was going out of style while it was snowing sideways.
  2. Dr Pepper. The preferred carbonated vice.
  3. Cheerwine. The other preferred carbonated vice, especially when I'm in North Carolina.
  4. Freshly-squeezed orange juice. Nice bonus of having a Valencia tree in my backyard.
  5. Moroccan mint tea. Hot and sweet. Great on cold mornings or when you're feeling pitiful.
  6. Whisky sour. I can do the cherry stem thing afterward, which makes them more fun. Plus, they're retro. I'm all about the retro.
  7. Scarlett O'Hara. We invented these in college. Gin, Wink, and maraschino cherry juice. Trouble in a cup.
  8. Bourbon or Canadian and Seven.
  9. Skim milk. Every morning. DH once brought me a special glass for my morning milk, complete with a cow on the side.
  10. Water. As my tenth grade biology teacher Mr. Cook used to say, "That's the best drink for your body--good ol'H2O. Good ol' water." Lots and lots of ice required.

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