Friday, May 30, 2008

Things I'll Miss #4 Good Tap Water

New York has great tap water - no weird flavors or funny aftertaste. It's piped in from reservoirs more than 100 miles away upstate. I have a Brita pitcher in my fridge but the filter is truly unnecessary, which is good because I often forget to refill it so I drink straight tap water most of the time.

Virginia has horrendously chlorinated nastiness coming out of the tap. Not to mention traces of medicines, lead, and who knows what else. It tastes like a swimming pool. Carbon filters do help with this, but now (or in 4 weeks) may be a good time to look into that home water cooler I've always wanted.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Scrapbooking Survey

I got this forwarded by email from a friend. I'm not a scrapbooker myself, and I honestly don't know which of my friends/readers are but thought I'd throw it on here in case there are any takers.

"Do you know anyone who is into scrapbooking that I can get to take a survey? I'm helping a guy at work who made an investment in a company called Scrapblog. They have an online application for laying out scrapbook pages. Would you be willing to take this 10 question survey and pass on the link to anyone else you know who might be willing to take the survey. You can check out Scrapblog at if you are interested."

Here's the survey.

This post was worth it just for the awesome scrapbook image I found.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Good Stuff - May

Such good stuff this month!

Grown-up Good Stuff


Summer Concert Tickets
- Namely, my secret lover George Michael at the Verizon Center in DC on July 29 - his first American concert tour in 17 years. Don't have a place to live, don't have our stuff packed, but don't worry - we have GM tix! I'd also LOVE to catch Lyle Lovett at Wolf Trap on July 2 but that very well might be move-in day so I'm afraid it's pushing it. I've seen Lyle in several outdoor venues and there's nothing like him - the man is all class and magic on stage. He transcends genre and description....(but George takes a better picture.)

TitleTrader.com - So I was taking care of a few ebay snipes when I saw an add for Titletrader and decided to check it out. Read the info and signed up, though too bad I just gave a huge box of cd's to Salvation Army. I still have some to get rid of. Here's how it works: you set up a free account and post the stuff you have. People request them, you mail them, you get trade points. Once you get positive feedback you can spend your trade points to get other cd's, books, movies and stuff you want that other people are getting rid of. I started posting my cd's and within minutes I had requests. And I've used a few of my earned points to get books I want to read but don't want to buy new or earn late library fees on. My kind of used bookstore.

Zojirushi Rice Cooker - I like rice. Unfortunately I can't cook it, at least not like regular people on the stove. Is it my stove? My pans? My rice? No, it's me, and I'm OK with that because it means I got this awesome rice cooker last year after 5 years on my Amazon wishlist. Truly perfect rice every time. And I made sure to get the one with a brown rice setting because I do go through healthy phases. We've been eating a lot of rice lately, and I love, love, love this cooker!

Flor Modular Carpet - Shortened backstory: Ginger, and Hazel for that matter, makes a disgusting mess under and around her chair during meals. Not a problem now because we have an eat-in kitchen. It occurred to me we have to find a new place with an eat-in kitchen or hardwood dining room because they will ruin a carpet. Solution: area rug. Even cooler solution: Flor carpet tiles.

Checkstand $5 cookbook magazines - A few months ago I bought Everyday Food (Martha Stewart) at the checkstand because the dish on the cover looked delicious and simple enough for me to make. That month I made three recipes from it and they were all awesome. Mentioned it to Tona on the phone - she had bought the same one and tried several other recipes with thumbs up. Then last week at Rite Aid I bought Prevention Magazine's Slow Cooker Recipe Book because I am always looking for new good crockpot recipes. I love my slow cooker but honestly 2 out of 3 recipes turn out mediocre at best. This morning I thumbed through it with my post-its and marked TEN recipes I want to try. Also I'm into purging, not expanding, my cookbook collection. I'm all for these magazine-style cookbooks, both for taking up less space, costing less money, and also being seasonal and disposable if I don't like them.

New York Book Festival - Unfortunately I just heard about this and will be gone by June 27, but it sounds cool and the kind of thing I might make an effort to attend, so it's good stuff.

Ken's Light Accents Salad Dressing Sprays - We've been upping our salad intake around here lately, and that means testing out light salad dressings until we find something we can swallow without gagging. On our fourth try we found Ken's Light Accents. Ken makes good regular dressing so we had high hopes and have not been disappointed. So far Honey Mustard and Raspberry Walnut get the stamp of approval.

Kid Good Stuff


Puzzle Dinner Tray - I can hardly stand how cute this is! Where do I order, where do I sign? Oh, wait, it's $55?! As much as it pains me, I will be waiting for IKEA to put this out in the $12-20 range. But isn't it cute?

Munchkin Snack Catchers - Another winner from Munchkin! Their stylish and more voluminous improvement on the Snack Trap keeps the Goldfish debris on the carseats, stroller, and bottom of my bag to a minimum.

Recycled Leather Piggy Bank - I still keep my eyes out for good piggy banks to someday get the girls. I think this is the current front runner. Funky modern design, non-breakable, and hey, made from reconstituted leather!

Lights and Sounds Phone - This is one of our toys with staying power. It has been a favorite of one or both girls since Hazel was 6 months old. All kids love toy phones, right, or is it just mine? This seems to be just the right size, colors, noises or something because they love it more than any others. Yes, it's battery-operated but each button, when pushed, plays a little tune like Old McDonald or Oh Susanna at just the right volume to be heard when held to your ear, but barely audible across the room. Plus the flashing lights and stuff. It is a rare day when you don't find a kiddo walking around our house holding this to her ear, doing a little jig. We got ours (and our second and third one, since all the best toys get lost) at Target.

This month's favorite non-toy toys:

The Salad Spinner
And...

a Cardboard Tube!!!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Which Austen Heroine Are You?

I am Marianne Dashwood!


Take the Quiz here!



(nabbed from Brother David - and I didn't cheat!-, who heard it from Cousine Marie, who got it from Chelsea's blog, whose second cousin's husband's aunt heard from her sister in London...)

Petey Q

Welcome!


Peter Quinn Mecham
May 20, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Snapshot (another gender lesson from Hazel)

This afternoon, 4:43 pm. Walking home from the park, we pause at a grassy area so the girls can pick dandelions and clovers. Hazel approaches, holding a bouquet.

"Mama, we are getting married." Hugs my leg.

"Who is getting married?"

"I am getting married. Mama, I am getting married because I am a girl."

Wanders off to pick more flowers.

Isn't that why we all get married?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I am so TOTALLY Disco Mom

In case there was any doubt.

For Mother's Day Ed gave me a card that said we're going out Saturday night, dress nice. I gathered we were going to a Broadway show but didn't know which one. I do love a surprise. We went to dinner first and he asked me if I wanted to know, or just be surprised when we got there. I wanted the surprise because I didn't even care what we were seeing and would like anything.

So as we walked down 44th Street the marquis began to come into view.
"Phantom?" I asked, looked sideways at him.
"Nope." We kept walking.
"Spamalot?"
"Uh-uh."
We passed under a construction scaffolding over the sidewalk and watched our step around some cars entering a lot. Then I looked up and just knew. There, up ahead, the rainbow bright beacon called to me:


That's right, I know, it's OK to start singing the song out loud. I'd heard it was fabulous, and had a hard time believing it, knowing how terrifically awful the movie is. But anyway what could be more fun than a night of roller skates and disco balls?

As soon as we entered the theater I felt the energy level rise. There was a guy selling glow sticks for $1 that we could use to participate in the final number. I ignored Ed's cringe as I bought two. I knew he was having fun watching me be excited.

The theater was pretty small and we had awesome seats. It's true the play has the same basic storyline as the movie - ancient Greek muse Kira comes out of a sidewalk chalk drawing to inspire frustrated 1980's artist Sonny Malone to create the ultimate artistic achievement, a roller disco, and along the way she falls into forbidden love with him.

Luckily it breaks from the movie early on by infusing the story with more threads, and thus substance. Having excellently talented singers/actors helps as well. But the real charm comes from what can only happen on live stage, and especially live stage spoofing a horrible movie - the comedic interaction between the audience and performers, and the private joke we were all in on together: that the whole thing is ridiculous, so let's have fun with it. I loved Kira's purposely bad Australian accent, the conniving evil muse sisters' unexpected improv comments that had the audience roaring, and of course the finale, complete with glow sticks, lots of metallic spandex and over 50 disco balls ranging in size from an apple to my double stroller. It was funny, it was sweet, it was rockin' 80's disco. It was the ultimate night out.

After all, as we learn at the end, the ultimate gift of XANADU is just what I had: artistic creation and someone to love.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Taxi, Taxi

There's a first time for everything. Today it's me uploading a video from the Sony Handycam I bought six months ago and still barely know how to use, editing it, then posting it on my blog. Here is Hazel singing the song "Taxi, Taxi." Words are below for those who don't speak Hazel.

video

Taxi, taxi, riding in the back seat
Roll the window up, roll the window down

Put the money in the slot

See ya later, thanks a lot

Sure beats walking cross town!

Aren't they cute? I think we can all look forward to more videos on here in the future.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Things I'll Miss #3: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

I've only gone a handful of times in our three years here, but the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a peaceful haven in the middle of chaotic downtown Brooklyn (and I always seem to park on the scary side.) Cherry blossoms start the warm season off with fluffy pink euphoria, followed by tulips, roses, lilacs and more. Plus it has a little kids garden area to play in. I know DC has cherry blossoms and a garden, but I will miss this special spot in Brooklyn.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New Record

Beating out the old record of 1.5 hours waiting time in the doctor's office when we have an appointment, the girls and I reached a new record today:

2.5 hours

Ah, these are the good days.

An Inspired Giveaway

Last weekend I taught a jewelry-making workshop thanks to a $15 class I took at Michael's a few years ago and an enormous bin of beading supplies I needed to pare down before the move. Creative juices flowed and we all ended up with some nice pieces, admiring them on each other at church the next day. Lindsay made 3 lovely pairs of earrings and, with virgin lobes herself, is hosting an earring giveaway on her blog, so get over there before Friday and join the fun!

It's true, blog giveaways are oh-too-fun, so it's gotten me thinking...we'll see what I come up with.

Things I Won't Miss #1: Parking Hassles

We've been over the parking issues here but that doesn't mean they've gone away. Parking continues to dictate where we go and when and I'm looking forward to a little freedom from that. It will be nice to at least have the option to drive somewhere after 4pm, or to go to the post office, library, or doctor's office and not drive around for 30 minutes looking for a parking spot. Not to mention the state our bumper is in after 3 years of parallel parking (though we've gotten good at it). Or the panic when we wake up and think, "What day is it? Where's the car?" Or the letdown of finally finding a meter spot only to discover you're out of quarters. No, the parking hassles are something I won't miss.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Snapshot

Tonight, 6:26 pm.

"Mama, what's your favorite color?"

"Green."

"No, green is Daddy's favorite color."

"Blue."

"No, blue is my favorite color."

Wait for further instructions.

"Your favorite color can be pink or red."

"Red."

"Yes, your favorite color is red."

I guess my favorite color is red.

Things We'll Miss #2: The UPS Man

Parking issues in NY plus having two kids of which at least one is usually napping during any given daylight hour has led me to do much of our household shopping online (diapers, clothes, paper and cleaning supplies, etc.) Therefore we see the UPS man, or as Hazel calls him, "The Package Man" often, sometimes several times a week. Sometimes it's a different guy but usually it's a friendly, ultra-Brooklyn, short & stocky Italian, named - you guessed it - JOE. Sometimes we chat briefly, he tells me what's up in the neighborhood since he does business deliveries on 3rd & 4th Avenue in the morning and residential in the afternoon & evening. He knows I'm always home so sometimes he even buzzes me when he doesn't have something for me but needs to get in the building. Hazel loves him, or maybe just getting packages, but when he buzzes up she runs to the door yelling, "The Package Man!" And when we open it up, he gives her a high 5 and exclaims, "Hey, how's my guhlfriend?!" I considered, then felt it would be crossing some kind of boundary, to take his picture, but anyway, we'll miss our UPS man.

DM Takes on Moving: Status Update

It just makes me feel better to write it down, and why not here? These lists are not exhaustive.

Done:
  • getting moving estimates
  • cleaned out girls' closet
  • sorted through toys, girls' clothes, my clothes, kitchen stuff, craft/office supplies
  • sold/selling stuff on ebay & craigslist
  • made home inventory for movers
  • packed away winter clothes
  • working through food in cupboards
  • downloading cd's then giving away or selling
  • wrote letter to building manager announcing move

Need to do:
  • clean out sewing bin
  • choose a mover and lock in date (June 20?)
  • take pictures of and list valuables for insurance purposes (these are not many)
  • clean out storage unit and sort that stuff
  • clean out Ed's clothes, coat closet, linen closet
  • find a place to live in VA (minor detail), then do change of address stuff
  • get broker to list our apartment as soon as building manager approves; hope to get new tenants in July 1
  • finish a few planned good-bye gifts for friends
  • back up computer on external hard drive and guard it with my life

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Me and my Mom


Me and my girls

First of all on this Mother's Day, I'd like to give kudos to my ward, who handled it in one of the most tasteful ways I've ever seen. The sacrament meeting talks were not sappy - 2 out of 3 did apply to families and mothers but were based on General Conference talks and very appropriate and enjoyable (good job, Lindsay!) In addition, women over 18 were NOT asked to stand at the end of the meeting to receive some "token of appreciation" like a flower or plant. I think it was due mostly to lack of organization, but I'm not complaining. No woman I know likes this tradition, though it seems fairly common among Mormon congregations. I would consider chocolate a better token, but even so. From my experience, it embarrasses women who do not have children, and women who do have children need appreciation from them and their husbands, not the ward. During Primary sharing time, a woman from the Relief Society presidency snuck in the back and discreetly pinned a simple silk flower corsage on each of us. I thought it was nice of them to remember us. The only other better thing I've heard of wards doing on Mother's Day is rallying the Young Men or other men's group to take over Primary and nursery for the third hour so all the women can go to Relief Society. That would have been nice, but our ward is not quite that organized.

Continuing on the Mother's Day topic, my favorite GPT site is having a Mother's Day contest. They gave 10 questions to answer and will pick a winner for each question. Winners receive $150 Spa Finder gift certificates. I found some of the questions hard to answer, some easy. Here are my answers, and while I'm not asking all of you to answer all 10 questions - it takes a long time and I thought I was done with writing essays! - I'd love to hear from you on any of them that strike you.

1. What is the most embarrassing thing your child has ever done? When I was pregnant with my #2, my toddler often came with me to my OB check-up appointments, where they checked my blood pressure, the baby’s hearbeat, etc. Throughout the pregnancy I tried to explain to her the process of how the baby was growing and when she was ready, we would go to the hospital and the doctor would help the baby come out. She obviously made some extensions by toddler logic to this information and told everybody for months, including my husband, the doctor, the grocery clerk, etc., “The doctor put the baby in Mommy’s tummy.”

2. What is the best gift you have ever received from your child?

(I just copied this blog entry.)

3. What was your favorite moment with your child(ren)? Every hug and every I love you, I can’t pick just one.

4. What was the most important life lesson your own mother taught you? My mother fostered great emotional health in me and my sisters by teaching us to avoid unnecessary guilt. Not that guilt doesn’t have a place - sometimes it is necessary to right wrongs, learn lessons, and strengthen yourself – but to avoid the prohibitive guilt we as women sometimes lay on ourselves and each other.

5. What is the biggest sacrifice you have ever made for your children? Literally years of sleepless nights, starting from ½ way through the first pregnancy until my 2nd child was about 10 months old. That’s a lot of missed sleep.

2nd biggest sacrifice – The prep, experience, and recovery of two C-section births.

6. Of all the meals you have ever made, what was the least accepted meal by your family? Hamburgers and oven French fries, can you believe it? I was stoked making such a kid-friendly meal, “Wow, I’m such an awesome Mom.” But all I got were whines and whimpers, and a bunch of cold food.

7. When is the one time your child made you laugh the hardest? Her very first true laugh, when she was about 3 months old – we were in the car and I did some goofy face or sound that made her laugh, and when I heard that first ACTUAL, REAL laugh come from deep in her belly, a combination of pride, glee, amazement and love brimmed up and I couldn’t stop laughing with her the whole way home.

8. Of all the important lessons you've taught your children, what is the most important lesson you hope they carry on through life? That they are smart and strong and deeply loved by their parents and God.

9. At what moment in your life did it dawn on you that you are no longer living for yourself, but living for your kids? The first desperately sleep-deprived night home with a new baby, and every day since then. But there are times when something happens to make me re-realize it, like when a group of people are talking about movies in the theater and I’ve never heard of any of them, or when I look at my faded, stained wardrobe and can’t remember the last time I bought clothes for myself…and realize I don’t mind.

But lately I’m taking a new approach to motherhood, which is “When Mom is Taken Care of, Everyone Else is Better Taken Care of.” I’m not giving all the good blueberries to the kids anymore, but keeping a share for myself, too. I get a pampering haircut once in awhile, and sometimes we get together with my friends, and not just my kids’ friends. I’m still living for the kids 100%, but keeping in mind that part of that is treating their Mom right.

10. Name a time when you found yourself guilty of doing something that always bothered you when your own Mother did it. “Just a minute” followed by many, many minutes and sometimes never coming or forgetting what the kid wanted. Granted, I do it while I’m on the computer and my mom did it while doing something else, but the wrong is still the same.


HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Things I'll Miss About New York #1: Three Guys

The bittersweetness is really setting in. Luckily the blog is an excellent coping mechanism for things like this, so watch this space over the next few weeks for a couple of things I will really miss, and probably a few I won't, about living in New York City.

One thing I will miss FOR SURE is Three Guys from Brooklyn, the most amazing place to buy produce I've ever seen. When we first moved here, like the first week, we went to the Brooklyn library main branch and in the lobby they had an exhibit called something like "My Town" - there had been a photo and essay contest about Brooklyn and the winners in different categories were displayed. It was an awesome introduction to Brooklyn for me, learning about the city through current personal experiences of my neighbors. One essay really struck me - that of an 11-year-old boy writing about the weekly afterschool shopping trip he takes with his mom to Three Guys from Brooklyn. He told of asking the owner, who he had come to know well, the story behind the name of the store. Basically he and two of his buddies had decided to start a store selling top quality produce and rock bottom prices - "The Original Poor Man's Friend" is their subtitle. They worked so hard and took so much pride in their work that the other two died of overwork but he believes in what they do and loves his life. That is a poor recounting of the boy's essay. There was a picture of the owner and boy with mounds of fresh produce behind.

When I got home I looked it up, intending to go visit just for the essay's sake. But when I discovered it was close to where we lived, I made a habit of it. It's set up like a produce stand so there's not a lot of room, and you can't even think of going on Fridays when every Jew in Brooklyn is shopping for Shabbat, but if you hit it early on a week morning you can do OK and even find street parking.

Of course the beautiful thing about Three Guys is - it's SO CHEAP and it's SO GOOD! It's always fresh because they move their stuff so fast, and I don't know how their stuff is always more delicious and less expensive than the grocery stores, but I'm not complaining...until I move. For example, I went this week and spent $61.80. I got everything you see in the picture PLUS two gallons and one quart of milk, a dozen eggs, a bottle of salad dressing, and a 4-pack of the most amazing applesauce for $0.99 (they have a few grocery items.)

Produce: 4 ears of corn, 1 broccoli crown, 1 pineapple, 2 romaine lettuces, 3 lbs bananas, 1/2 watermelon, 1 cauliflower crown, 1.5 lbs mediterranean cukes, 0.8 lbs green beans, 3.5 lbs grapes, 2 lbs strawberries, 2 bags baby carrots, 1 yellow pepper, 1 bag clementines, 1.16 lbs asparagus, 1 lb black plums, 2.8 lbs gala apples, 2 grapefruits

How can we eat all that produce before it goes bad? Well it does take some effort (especially since Ed is only home for breakfast) but we've been working to change some of our eating habits - that's for another post. Bring on the fruits and vegetables! It also helps that so many things are coming into season now.

Three Guys is a Brooklyn establishment, a friend to the Poor Man, and a place I will very sadly miss when we leave.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Ratings??

What the...? Why are there suddenly "Rate It" stars at the end of my blog posts? I feel violated and confused.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Make a Wish


This afternoon we went to the park and on the way is a small field full of dandelions. Hazel learned early on to make a wish and blow and it's one of her favorite outdoor pastimes, so we stopped there for a long time. Ginger watched Hazel blow and tried her own version, which resulted in a mouth full of fluff, a yucky face and wiping her tongue with her hands. Hazel took turns bringing me one to blow and blowing herself, each time asking me for my wish or stating her own.

What did I wish for? Daddy coming home early, a week of great weather, and everyone eating their dinner and being happy the rest of the day even though it's bath night and neither one took a decent nap. So far I'm 0-2, waiting to see about the weather one.

What did Hazel wish for? A beautiful castle, a beautiful castle and a beautiful castle. Oh, to be three again.

What do you wish for?

Got Gas?

Last weekend we went up to Massachusetts for my niece's baptism. We filled up twice and passed lots of stations in different states. I heard on the radio this morning that the national average, currently $3.62, has gone up $.15 in the last two weeks and $.30 in the last month. Here's what I saw:

5/2 New Jersey $3.79
5/4 Worcester, MA $3.57
5/4 Connecticut $3.85
5/4 CT - NY border $3.97 ouch!
5/5 Brooklyn, NY $3.79

I'm not one for political-economic commentary on my blog, but I see that this is bad. It's also complicated. My dad looks at it this way - he remembers when he could fill up for $5. Now it's 12 times that but he makes much more than 12 times what he made back then, so he's ok with it. I guess any way you can find to be ok with it will save you some stress, but not everyone has the luxury. It makes me sweat to fill up but we can't complain too much because we drive so little relative to the nation at large - Ed commutes on public transportation and I walk almost everywhere. I also heard on the radio some people expect it to climb another $.30 before it peaks. I remember just before we left Colorado 3 years ago it was just breaking $2/gallon - an outrage! It helps to talk to Ed - my financial tutor - about things like this because he can put it in a broader, even historical, perspective. Even so, it's bad. Depression and inflation at the same time spell trouble. Boo for air travel going through the roof just as Dave moved to England! Hip-hip-hooray for food storage, paying tithing, public transportation and stockpiling rice and gas if that summer tax cut happens, which I am against, by the way. Even I can see it's pointless to solve a problem by causing ten more.

What's the damage where you live - how much are you paying for gas right now?
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