Thursday, July 31, 2008

PR Dish - The Worst Review is No Review

The Challenge: Create a night-out look inspired by New York City.

The Winner: Kenley
The Loser: Emily
The Dish:
  • Stella is an idiot and so is Blayne (aka Tango)
  • Kieth with his no-no bandana and toilet paper shift should have been auf'd decades before Emily's Carmen Miranda or anybody else's anything
  • Emily's downfall - Nina had "no comment"
  • I probably liked Leanne's best but can hardly argue with any of the judges' top 3
  • Terri is emerging as a force to be reckoned with
  • Sandra B was surprisingly tame in her judgments
  • Is is just me or are a lot of the models kind of ugly this season?
  • I am waiting for Michael Kors to show up in a hot pink t-shirt one of these days, waiting patiently
  • Lessons to be learned from this episode: 1) the judges like to be (pleasantly) surprised (Kenley), 2) the judges notice and like it when you take their advice (Leanne), 3) it's a fine, fine line between simple and boring (Emily & Jennifer)
  • Kari's highlight moment: When Blayne bonked his head on a low-hanging light - gave me a good chuckle
  • Kari's lament: Why oh why must we be tormented with so many annoying phrases? Leave Tim and his own charming language alone!
What did everyone else think?

Next Week: Something about the Olympics?

And for those of you more obsessed than me, see blogginprojectrunway.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

He's Still Got It

I'd been Waiting for That Day for a long time, as you well know. Tuesday was a Hard Day to get through but in the evening my Mother's Pride and Father Figure came over to watch the girls, and we had the Freedom to go to the George Michael concert!

After we'd been Waiting 45 minutes, the dark stadium lit with sparks floating dreamily down the digital screen. A soaring rendition of Waiting (reprise), being sung from back stage, froze me in my seat until at the end and climax, when a door opened in the middle of the screen, and George himself walked through just in time for the final line: "HERE I AM!" (If you are unfamiliar with this song, listen on the sidebar to get a feel for what it was like.)

Screams, applause, lit cell phone screens being waved in lieu of lighters (it's been a loooong time since I went to a concert.) The slightly aged and much gay audience gave the sexy superstar a resounding welcome, letting him know, "You Have Been Loved," for 25 years. He asked To Be Forgiven for taking 20 years to return to Washington, but promised that by the end of Tonight he'd make it up to us. I'd say he did.

An eclectic set of disco, soul, pop and ballads filled the evening. I was up and dancing Freestyle as much As I was comfortable doing until about song 5 or 6 when he broke into a seriously booty-shaking Everything She Wants, complete with diamond-studded disco balls on the big screens and lots of audience singing - "SOMEBODY TELL ME, WHY I WORK SO HARD FOR YOU!" (To give you money, woo, to give you money...) That's when I, and much of the rest of the crowd save Ed and the other husband/boyfriend I was sitting by that had obviously been drug there by his female, let loose in a serious way.

George, his 6 black-clad back-up singers, and huge band stacked vertically on platforms, played for an hour, took a 20-minute break, during which Ed was so hot in his work clothes he had to go Outside, then played another hour. Our seats were decent, though not close enough for a good camera phone picture. However, we'd dug out and brought Ed's elk hunting nocs so I was able to sit on George's lap for some of the songs. A couple of his dance songs were a little Too Funky (and a little too gay) for my taste but I love his voice so much I'm not complaining. Perhaps the highlight of the evening for me was a gorgeous version of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, sung simply from a stool on stage in purple and white spotlights.

I knew it could hardly get any better when he came out dancing in a police uniform, complete with aviator shades and fingerless leather gloves, so I was hardly surprised when he bid us goodnight after that number. More screaming, more lit cell phone screens being waved for an encore, just One More Try. He came out and sang Careless Whisper for us. More screaming, more cell phones. Waiting. Waiting. Finally he returned to grant us A Last Request. He asked, "If you could have your pick of any song you want to hear, what would it be?" Thousands of voices answered in unison: FREEDOM! Obviously every American crowd had said the same thing and he was well-prepared. What an Amazing song to round out the concert! Most of our row had left so I had 10 seats to make my moves in, with Ed conservatively clapping the beat nearby. Animated rainbows dancing all over the screens. Happy, energized, beer-buzzed people dancing like crazy. It was a night to remember. He Healed the Pain, he Knew I Was Waiting for Him, and I was glad he spent A Moment with Me.

After the final finale we had to hustle home, Praying for Time to get our car out of the garage in Rosslyn before it closed at midnight. The night can be summed up by a comment I overheard a twenty-something tell her friend as we walked out of the stadium: "He is so hot...and he's old."

Ladies and gents, he's still got it. And so have I.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Good Stuff - July

Holy crap, it's already the end of July? Ginger had croup last week so I was out of commission all week and suddenly the month is over! (And I'm off to see George Michael tonight!) This month's good stuff is admittedly unbalanced; I guess I haven't been shopping for the kids much. But here are a couple of fun things for your perusal. Sit back and have a Good Stuff moment.

Grown-up Good Stuff

World Wide Fred - I don't even know how to describe or sum up this ultra funky quirky Rhode Island home products company. Neither do they. It all started when I saw Chopstick Kids in the Old Forge Hardware Store; I didn't buy any then but made a note of the company to look up later; it looked like stuff I could get into. And sure enough it's like Pandora's Box of cool stuff I don't need but want to buy for other people as awesome gifts. I don't even know what to highlight, there are so many interesting things. Some are kind of gross and immature like Stuck Up wad-of-gum-looking magnets while others are just fun and useful like the Equal Measure measuring cup. I also like the How Tie, the Tooth, Borrow My Pen, Batterfinger, and the To-Do Tattoo, just to name a few. Let me know what you like on here. This is definitely the place to go next time you don't know what to get someone! - You go to the website, type in your zip code, and it tells you where the cheapest gas is near you. Must be working, too, because I typed in my zip code and found that the two cheapest stations nearby ($3.83 and $3.93) sold out of regular last night.

Woman's Day Month of Menus - At our family reunion in June Tona's cabin had a stack of old magazines on an end table that I found myself flipping through a couple of times. Two of the magazines - a Woman's Day and a Good Housekeeping - had so many good recipes I wanted to try that I brought them home for further inspection. Nothing against them, but I've never spent much time going through magazines like that before, though of course I find that I am now the target audience. There were some great articles and tips (I skipped Dr. Phil's secrets of a great marriage on principle, though it was probably good too), but the recipes really hooked me. I especially loved that Woman's Day had a calendar page with literally a month of menus - a quick meal description on each day that could be whipped up without a long recipe. For example, "Chicken drumsticks brushed with orange marmalade and sprinkled with chili powder, baked until done. Serve with steamed broccoli and squeezed lemon." Easy but I might not have thought of it on my own. Every Sunday meal is big with the intention of using leftovers later in the week, and every Monday is meatless. They do it every month, factor in seasonal ingredients and the best part is you can get them online without buying the magazine. As always I'm trying to expand my cooking repertoire but it's too tiring to try long new recipes every night. I am printing off and checking these Months of Menus for quick and easy family-friendly ideas to mix in with our regulars.

Jungle Speed - Dave brought this to the reunion. I was hesitant because my reflexes are shot in general and even worse late at night when we play games. But one night all 4 siblings and 4 spouses found ourselves around Maren's kitchen table ready to play a game. Dave whipped it out and I admit it was awesome fun, especially with so many players. An abbreviated game description: Jungle Speed requires a steady hand - which can be hard to maintain during the many fits of maniacal laughter. The wooden Totem sits in the middle of the table, waiting for the player with the fastest reflexes to snatch it up and win the game. Each turn, all of the players reveal one of their cards. If two cards are identical, those players must make a grab for the Totem. The faster player then gives their cards to their unfortunate adversary. To add to the difficulty, certain cards are almost identical, which can trick a hapless player into grabbing the Totem by mistake - a grave error. Other cards force all players to make a grab at once, change the method of play, or otherwise add to the difficulty.

Archer Farms Multigrain Cereal - Archer Farms strikes again! This time they drew me in with their sleek new packaging. I used to buy their Blueberry & Flaxseed Granola all the time - it's delicious - but this time I was checking for something lower in fat and high in fiber. Simply named Multigrain Cereal has 190 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 10 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber per 1 cup serving (none of this 1/2-cup serving size you find on some cereals). That's only 3 Weight Watchers points for those of you wondering. Plus it's totally yummy - puffed wheat, kamut, millet, brown rice & oats so it's kind of granola-ish but lightly sweetened with honey and molasses and lacking the weight and fat of typical granola.

Kid Good Stuff

Grandpa's Dollhouse - In the late 1970's my Grandpa Younce built this gorgeous, solid dollhouse for me and my sisters, then loaded it into his car and drove it from Oregon to Virginia. For years and years we played with it, then as we got older my parents carefully stored it. About 6 or 7 years ago they moved it up to Tona's house in Massachusetts for my niece Halle. And now it has been passed to us. Mom and Dad brought it over last week, with a bag full of furniture, and one or both girls sit and play with it at least once a day. Of course Ginger likes to climb on it but also watches Hazel arrange furniture and interact the dolls, and is beginning to imitate her. There seems nothing more natural for children to do than play with a doll house, practicing and playing out the things they are experiencing in their own lives. It warms my heart to see my girls playing with the same one that captured my imagination 30 years ago.

Fine Art for Kids from Oopsy Daisy - Parent conceived and owned, this collection of over 60o pieces by more than 50 artists is full of creative, whimsical, modern and unusual art for children. I have been totally focused on home decor and design this month, trying to set ourselves up, and carefully considering options for the blank walls in Hazel's room and other places around the house. Naturally the art is not cheap but it's ok because as I save up I need the time to decide what to get. Hazel is interested in maps and they have several to choose from. Plus a portion of profits go to charities that assist children. Here are a few, but not all, of my favorites:

Pop Garden by Andrea Cobb

Exploring the World from A to Z by Jenny Kostecki

Oh Say Can You See by Jill McDonald

Kite Day by Libby Ellis

For the girls this month it's been all about the new back yard! Favorites are:

Stone Temples...
...and planting flowers!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fish Pedicure

Read all about it here. I'm totally doing it! It's the only salon in the country that does it and it's only 18 miles from my house, how can I not? I'll definitely write a report about it. Who's with me?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

PR Dish - Weak

It was a weak challenge. Use eco-friendly materials that you don't even get to pick out, your models do the shopping for you. I guess Mood only had a few "green" materials since so many people got the same stuff - they should have at least gone to some kind of specialty store to really sample the eco-friendly wares out there.
  • I don't question the skill that went into Suede's concoction but I still didn't like it. I would have gone with Kenley for the win. Guess I'm not so in touch with young Hollywood.
  • Good heavens, yes, Wesley was the right call for getting kicked off. It was hideous.
  • Most of the dresses were entirely too short but I did like Blayne's pretty well and Daniel's might have been my favorite, tied with Kenley.
  • Did anyone else notice Tim Gunn dropped the phrase "hot mess" when advising one of the contestants? It was subtle but I found it funny how Christian had gotten to the silver fox.
  • Also has anyone else noticed Blayne is trying to be the new Christian by coining - and constantly repeating - an obnoxious adjective - LICIOUS! Sorry, Blayne, you've got all the annoying and none of the charm.
  • Need we even mention Suede's self-reference in the third person? Stop trying so hard to stand out, people! Let your work speak for itself.
  • I was wondering if, though I know it's all pre-recorded, there was any way we could vote to have Stella leave the show based on principle? She admits all she wants to do is leather - if you don't want to be there doing real fashion let someone else do it! For example, bring Jerry back!
  • I appreciate that Bravo is advertising the new X-Files movie during Project Runway - they certainly know their audience.
Next week the challenge has something to do with NYC and Sandra Bernhardt guest judges - should be awesome and brutal.

Watercress is Spicy

Having not experimented much in the world of produce, and desperately trying to increase and expand our family's vegetable intake, I've been lately focusing culinary efforts on vegetable side dishes. Last night we had watercress and cucumber salad, from Martha's Everyday Food, alongside homemade pizza. It had a simple homemade dijon vinaigrette. It was very pretty. But I don't think I'd ever had watercress before, and certainly never as the main leafy green in a salad that I would largely be eating myself.


Ouch. I don't think W&C salad will be in the rotation.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Disco Honors to Matt

I liked this very, very much. (Thanks to Elizabeth for passing it on.)

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

The outtakes video is almost as good.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

PR Dish - Poor Jerry

Poor Jerry. Not that I defend his ensemble but how can you possibly, POSSIBLY, get any worse than Stella's trash bag nightmare? Besides, based on the designers' portfolios, I think they've got enough rock n' roll urban whatever and not enough class in the group; Jerry showed much promise in tipping the scales, having some of my favorite designs. Stella shows no such promise and would not have been missed. I would have loved to see more from Jerry. And besides that on a personal level Jerry promised to bring some normalcy to the group, balancing characters like Suede and Blayne. I bet that's why he was auf'd, darn producers.

On the upside, I agreed wholeheartedly with the judges top three - Daniel, Korto and Kelli, and would have agreed with whomever they chose as the winner. Kelli nabbed the immunity, but Korto's dress was awesome and Daniel's ingenuity showed some skill. Looking forward to more from all of them.

Here's another good review of the episode.

Next week they go green and Natalie Portman judges. You can see here what the challenges and who the guest judges will be for each episode.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Good Excuses

Good Excuse #1

We got cable last week and I've been wondering if it's worth it. I haven't sat down to watch a minute, being too busy or tired, and the girls have only watched minimal Noggin, there being so many other things to do like play in the yard or with the new dollhouse. Ed does love his ESPN so I've been waffling.

But then Corey emailed to ask if I watched Project Runway this week, and I TOTALLY FORGOT that Season 5 was starting in July! (And it's on Bravo, not Lifetime...not sure what happened there.) Luckily there's no need to fret because it's Bravo's favorite thing to repeat episodes 100 time each week so I can catch it tonight at 8pm. Will dish thereafter. So that's my good excuse for keeping cable, at least through October.

Good Excuse #2
My favorite recipe magazine, Cook's Country, has a regular feature called "Recipe Makeover", in which they take a favorite classic recipe and revamp it to be more healthy. The latest is peanut butter cookies, a worthy challenge considering they're all sugar and fat. The secret ingredient? Cap'n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch cereal. You pulse it in the food processor and use it with the flour. And you and your children and spouse eat it by the handful throughout the cookie making process. And then you realize that you forgot how delicious it is and thank the powers that be that you had a good excuse to buy it and have plenty leftover after you make the cookies, which also happen to be good.

Low-Fat Peanut Butter Cookies
(Makes 24)

1 1/2 cups Cap'n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch cereal
1/3 plus 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened; plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 tablespoons reduced fat crunchy peanut butter
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment. Pulse cereal and 1/3 cup flour in food processor until finely ground. Add remaining flour, baking soda and salt and pulse to combine. With electric mixer on medium, beat softened butter, peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in melted butter, egg whites, and vanilla until combined. Add flour mixture and mix on low until incorporated. Add water and mix until absorbed.
2. Roll 1 1/2 tablespoons dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and space 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Press and crosshatch dough with fork. Bake until edges are lightly browned but centers still soft, 10-12 minutes. Cool 5 minutes then transfer to cooling rack.
Calories: 130
Fat: 4g

Update - The Move

The movers finally decided to mosey on over with our stuff around July 5. It's ok because it took almost that whole week to get the right darn green paint color chosen and twice coated in Ginger's room - finally settled on Tart Apple. We also did a lot of planning and pre-shopping for things like rugs and furniture. (While sometimes unavoidable, a 4-hour trip to IKEA with 2 stir-crazy kids is not highly recommended.) Once our stuff was in we spent a day and then a week in an unpacking frenzy. Ed was a workhorse but I burned out by the end of the week. Also returned to IKEA for a buying trip to get a few things, still need one more trip there. I'm desperate to have some kind of modern, cohesive look to our home but I'm a design amateur. I have a vague vision I'm working towards, and Ed and I both feel a strong desire to graduate from the grad-school apartment look to a clean and peaceful home that feels great to be in. We're not there yet.

By the beginning of this week, when Ed started work, we were about 85% unpacked, and remain so. That last stubborn bit of boxes and - oh, the horror - miscellaneous - I'm coming to hate that word - stuff is still sitting around and unfortunately we are starting to live with it like that. You know, step around the boxes as if they're part of the landscape. We'll do another unpack push this weekend and see if we can remedy some trouble spots. But on the whole it's great to be here. The girls love the house and so do we. Soon we'll be open for business (visitors.)

I'm working on another post about the new ward (church) and an update on the girls in general. Unfortunately the computer is now off in a remote corner of the house, not in the middle of everything like before, so I don't get to it as often, but believe me, I'm working my way back.

Camping in the Brooklyn apartment:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Today, 10:11 am. Ginger is napping. I am lying in euphoric paralysis on our brand new Tempur-pedic mattress that has just been delivered. Hazel wanders in.

"Mommy, what do I smell?"

"That's polyurethane. It's coming from my new mattress. I know it smells yucky but it will go away in a few days."

"No, it's not yucky."

"Oh. You like that smell?"

"Yep. It smells! Yum, yum!"

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Update - The Reunion

OK. We've been in the house a week now. Ed started his job this week. We are just beginning to pull ourselves back to normal - new normal - life. Time for a short series of updates.

The Reunion
Our first week out of NYC we had a Younce family reunion in Old Forge, NY. We stayed at Kenmore Cottages, an adorable lake front cabin community. Each family had their own cabin around a central quad with playground, fire pit, gazebo, lake beach, volleyball, basketball and dock. The weather was cool, downright chilly in the mornings, for which we did not pack appropriately but made up for in hot cocoa consumption. The two best things about this reunion were 1) everyone came for the whole week, even busy doctors, professors, mothers of newborns, unemployed businessmen (Ed), and people from England; and 2) everyone had a great time, meaning there was something for everyone - no small feat for a family with such diverse interests and vacation styles. Don, who's training for an Iron Man in August, got in all the hiking, running, biking, swimming, and kayaking he could. The kids all got lots of sand, Grandma and cousin time. Mom and various family members got several trips to the Old Forge Hardware Store, a surprisingly fabulous shopping destination. We each took a night cooking dinner for the clan, and after the kids went to bed we played games or ate dessert together. We even took turns sneaking out to the movies. It was amazing and I wish we could do it every year. See also Maren's write-up and Dave's less-is-more commentary.

The Clan
The Granddaughters with their Dolls

Friday, July 11, 2008


A few nights ago, bath time. Hazel is draping a wet washcloth on herself, telling me it's her beautiful wedding dress.

"Mommy, who can I marry?"

"How about a boy? Do you know a good boy to marry?"


"You could marry Pierson."

"No, I can't marry Pierson. He's too younger."

Hmm, true. He is a whopping 10 months younger than her. Think.

"How about Bruce? You could marry Bruce." Got her! Bruce is 9 days older than her!

"No, Bruce is too younger too."

"No he's not. Bruce is your same age."

"He is? He's my same age? Yay!"

And immediately she's on to playing with the toy boats. Maybe this is the 3-year-old equivalent of writing your name with a boy's last name to see how it looks.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Happy Birthday, Anne with an E

Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies' eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place...
And so begins, and continues for 13 more meticulously punctuated lines, the first sentence of L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables. The book turned 100 last month so in honor I am re-reading the girlish treasure, thrilled to rediscover my old friend and co-conspirator. I began last night, and through the first chapter realized it must have been much longer than I thought since I last read it. While the story line was of course familiar, the descriptions read as if for the first time.

I do remember the time Anne accidentally got Diana drunk, and when she bought black hair dye from a peddler that turned her tresses green. Also the precious slate shattered over Gilbert's head in school. But what other delectable details await my rediscovery? What an indulgent treat this is going to be.

Since everything written or said in the book is purely and perfectly Anne, and therefore worth quoting, I'm going to keep a quote box on the sidebar, updated as often as I read. There's nothing better for quotes than a romantic orphan girl-who-was-supposed-to-be-a-boy that can't stop talking.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Don't Play Golf with Vadar

This week we've been watching the Star Wars movies on SPIKE, only tolerating the sickening repetition of Captain Morgan, Joe Dirt and KFC commercials because I heart Luke Skywalker and Ed wants to be captain of the Millennium Falcon. It became all worth it when, during The Empire Strikes Back tonight, we caught this commercial.
(Thanks, YouTube.)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Moving Lessons

We are still in limbo, staying at my parents' house until our stuff comes, supposedly Saturday. Painting the girls' rooms at the new house, window shopping at IKEA, taking care of other little stuff, but mostly sick of being homeless. Painting walls and sitting in traffic between Fairfax and Arlington have given me plenty of thinking time. Here are a few notes to self on the moving process:
  • You have to stop living in the place several days before the movers come if you expect to be ready. It's impossible to be ready if you're still trying to live there, especially with kids.
  • Movers are scumbags, a necessary evil, considering the alternative. When you work hard to choose the right mover, checking reviews, fine print, Better Business Bureau, and obtaining several estimates, and the one you choose still underestimates your costs by almost half, the moving team foreman turns hostile regarding the tip for his guys, and they bring your stuff almost a week later than promised, it is a reminder that moving is a gigantic hassle, no matter how you do it.
  • Choosing the right shade of green paint is very tricky business. Totally, totally worth it to buy samples of all shades you're considering, paint them on the wall in question and check at different times of day before buying the gallons. Green is not to be trifled with.
  • Now is the time to double up on patience with the kiddos - their life is turned completely upside down and their understanding is limited. Their stress is manifested in really obnoxious ways but try to see it for what it is. While nearly impossible, also try to get them enough good sleep and healthy food.
  • Start packing even earlier than too early. Pack, pack, pack. It takes four times longer than you think. And don't avoid the awkward stuff, just pack it all. Don't keep things out because you think you might use it in the months before your move - you won't because you'll be too busy packing! Tape is your friend.
  • If you're moving to a new location where you'll need to register your car and get new drivers' licenses, check the websites ahead of time and make sure to pull all needed documents so you can take care of business while you're waiting the extra week for your stuff to come, instead of sadly realizing some of the information is packed in a box somewhere and in the hands of the dregs of society.
  • Be nice to Ed. Not only is he working hard to get things done and help with the girls, he's putting up with you.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...