B is for Brett

This is our friend, Brett. He is the ultimate man's man. Tough, tall in stature, burley, etc. That's what makes it even more awesome that he is a collector of Department 56 village collectibles. I am pretty certain he is one of their best collectors. I had not seen many of these until I met Brett and his darling wife, Cindy. The little towns he sets up each represent a different era and it makes me want to jump in and be part of it. Walking along next to the display is sort of like walking around inside of a snowglobe. Maybe next year for his open house displaying them he can rig glitter and snow to drift from the ceiling. He is a local star, last year a newspaper featured a story on him and his houses!
I am pretty sure Aubrey's fudge will be available in heaven, it's perfect. [Thanks!]

I am quite sure hell will involve sweeping round sprinkles from the floor for hours, which really becomes a unintentional game of croquet because the balls just keep rolling around. And then you graduate to sweeping scrables eggs, which ultimately keep scrambling the more you try to sweep them. I am pretty sure the song Cheeseburger in Paradise plays on repeat at a high volume. And you have to wear socks with crumbs in them.


the sad thing is i am not kidding

The very first time I had money to shop for gifts I was in 4th grade. I helped collect cans, crush them, took them to the recycling center, and ended up with about $35 to spend on my sister and parents.

We went to Target and I got to roam around by myself with a shopping cart for about 20 minutes or so to get the gifts. I had never shopped for someone else before, so naturally I picked what I thought I would want for a gift [which I still have a bad habit of doing as an adult].

My mom got a 3 pound box of assorted cream chocolates. My sister got a 3 lb box of assorted nut chocolates (because I loved those and could steal them from her when she was at school), and my step-dad got a 3 pound box of Clusters (because I didn't like him, he didn't like chocolate, and I knew I could eat them all and he would never know).

My step-dad saw me put them in the cart and told me chocolate isn't a gift! My mom corrected him and said I can give any gift I selected. I never ate any of her chocolates.


I remember the first Christmas with Mike right before we got engaged. We were seated in front of his family's Christmas tree with all of his 400 siblings, I was still getting to know the family. I secretly hoped I would be getting my diamond ring, but knew it wasn't the time when he handed me a long, rectangular box. I opened it to find a long rose wrapped in gold.

"A chocolate rose! Awesome!!" Just as I began to take it out of the packaging to eat it, he corrected me.

"No, it's a real rose dipped in 24 karat gold!.......[awkard pause for reaction]......So you will always have a rose from me".

I kept blinking at it and said the most inappropriate comment possible when receiving a gift.

"What am I supposed to do with it?"

To understand how adorable of a gift that was one would have to read this post I wrote about giving a lady flowers. His gift was smooth, unique, clever, and timeless.

I just have a sick obsession with chocolate. And making bad impressions.


If I picked my own name for Christmas and had a budget of over $100 to shop for myself I would be slightly torn between using it for either a gift card to Amoeba and this awesome sure-fire heart attack gift tower from Fannie May. We both know the tower would win by a long shot.

It's a good thing I didn't pick myself.

But seriously, how awesome would that be sitting on your front porch waiting for you?

Someday when my husband passes away before I do and I am sitting around waiting to join him I am going to go the way of pleasure and indulgence. I will spend all of my social security money sending myself gift towers like this bad boy every month.


December Challenge

A while back I gave a challenge to do a thoughtful package each month. I actually did one in November, but forgot to take a photo of it.

A friend of mine had a rough week, a friend who could probably lead and win a war she is so capable and organized! That said, a rough week for someone like that must mean a lot. On top of that there was a death in her family. I couldn't think of a single thing I could do to help her as I drove to the grocery store that evening.

While junk food can't chase away stress and it's not a super healthy offering, it made a bright impact to me when she had given me a junk food care package before I went to have my baby. I packed it into my suitcase several days before. I will never forget eating those delicious sugared almonds at 3am after going so long without food. The clear lip gloss turned out to be rather bright PINK! and I couldn't get it off. We had a good laugh about it early on in the delivery process.

So I remembered her awesome package for me while I shopped. I got a bright colored bag and a funny card and picked out all my favorite comfort junk food that would fit into the bag. She would be getting on a flight the next day so I thought it would be great traveling grub. Twizzlers, circus animal cookies, orange gatorade, chocolate covered almonds, etc.


With the craziness of the following weeks, I imagine it will be too easy of a challenge for the month of December to give someone a thoughtful package. SO I have a different challenge for this month:


1) Think of the person/ family
2) Determine the ages of the people you are feeding (spaghetti? or chicken curry?)
3) Put a date on the calendar you know won't be too crazy, a day you can cook early and double a recipe.
4) Don't tell the person until the day of and while it's in the oven (4pm-ish). I planned tonight, but the day took a turn for the bad at 4 so it was good I had not called her yet so I wasn't officially committed. Another day next week will for sure work better.
5) Don't complicate things by trying to make it a 5 course meal. Keep it simple- it's service!
6) Tell me who you are going to serve this month.


junk in my trunk

not my photo

One of my friends brought me a box of Trader Joe's Candy Cane cookies! They are like oreos. I read about them somewhere last week, I think, and wondered if the candy cane pieces were chunky.

After eating one I decided they are hit- the candy cane pieces are obliterated into a fine powder and smoothly blended with the cream in the middle. Literally no cane crunching, this was important for me to investigate before proceeding to cookie number two.

Before I finished eating number two, I left a message with my junk food partner in crime, Lindsey, to let her know they are so yummy- almost like mint girlscout cookies. I believe I ate 3 more before my message was completed.

After eating a whole row, I took a deep breathe and felt a nordic blast of peppermint carbon dioxide turn my nose hair into frost. Ew. I hate that feeling, the same feeling when chewing that winterfresh flavor of gum. It always gives me the burning sneezes/ eye twitches. Winterfresh gum flavor is the only kind of sugar I will turn down (along with circus peanuts).

Eating more than 5 at a time=winterfresh=nose drips. After that it's essential to unscrew the cookies and eat the non-frosted side. I just thought you might like to know.


dressed in yellow she says hello

As far back as I can remember, I was always excited to start a new school year. Never nervous. The first day of each year I would find my desk and then scan the room for the cutest boy I would decide to have a crush on. I remember all of them, even in elementary school.

I was never good about keeping it a secret and it never donned on me, in most occasions, that perhaps they didn't like me back. Even if I followed them around the playground while they ignored me. I hate to admit I held this bad habit all the way through college!

1) Tommy Eaton was the first I remember. He was the Ken Doll of what my memory tells me might have been first or second grade. Blonde, feathered hair and blue eyes. Back when boys had cooties and girls never admitted a boy was cute. Well, I was different. While they sat in a circle with their pretty dresses playing jacks, I followed Tommy all over the monkey bars, through the swings, and passed the tetherball courts. I finally caught up to him one day and asked what he was doing. He told me he was making Jason (the kid who ate paste) do an initiation (how did he know this word?) for his club. He told me I couldn't join because I was a girl. I told him I could still do whatever Jason had to do, but better.

He laughed and shifted his attention to Jason and told him to run all the way around the soccer field. I trailed behind and eventually passed him. Jason gave up and never finished. I returned to Tommy and found him speechless, honestly admitting he didn't think I would be able to do it. That was the first time I realized I had talent as a runner. I felt more excited to have done something better than a boy, that I let go of my interest in following Tommy. I think I started hanging out by the kids in the soccer field from then on trying to play sports with the boys.

2) Tony Montoya was the next one. My sister will have to help me with this one, but I think it was second or third grade? This boy had a girlfriend, Meredith, but that didn't keep me from following him around and hoping for his attention. She was my first experience of having true jealousy. I am embarrassed to say I reveled inside the day she hit her head flipping over on the monkey bars. I honestly thought she wouldn't come back to school and then maybe Tony would like me. But.....she got stitches and was back at school, I remember being disappointed to see her (what an evil little girl I was!).

I had a birthday party and he was the only boy I invited. We had a break-dancing contest and he won. I ran crying to my room because I didn't win and hid for the rest of the party. I don't think he brought me a present. My adoration for him ended the moment I closed my bedroom door.

3) B.J. (I SWEAR that was his name!) was a trouble-maker. He always had a crew cut, I think this might have been third or fourth grade. Somehow I remember him wearing Vision Skateboarding t-shirts, but I have a hard time believing I was thrilled by skater clothes that young. He had a birthmark on his forearm. He wasn't very good with his schoolwork and that concerned me, since I was certain we were going to be married someday.

A girl named Sissle gave me a candy heart that said "Hot Shot" in my Valentine's Day card. It hurt my feelings. I knew she was right. Then I opened B.J.'s card and the hearts inside said "I Like You" and "U R CUTE". It could have been chance; his mom could have put them randomly into envelopes. But my heart skipped beats as I looked across the room and smiled at my crush who might have secretly liked me back!

4) Jason (not the paste-eating kid) left school every other Friday for skateboarding contests. His dad came to pick him up on a motorcycle and had hair to his waist; always tied in rubber bands. Jason definitely wore Vision and G&S clothing and his shoes were always ripped up. I thought it was because he was poor, but now I realize that's just what happens when you skate. I think this was fourth grade. I remember things really started to pick up between us one day after school. We went down the tunnel slide at the same time!

Then all of a sudden he wasn't at school the following week. I heard a rumor he missed too many days of school and was going to be expelled and that is why they moved. I was sad, but always wondered what he would do for work to support our family if he ever got seriously injured (weird that was important to me so young!).

5) A.J. Rutherford was for sure fifth grade. He had perfect teeth and brown eyes and hair. We sat out front on my lawn with our boom boxes listening to MC Hammer, Run DMC, The Beastie Boys, and Young MC tapes together. This boy actually liked me back and 'asked me out'. Which meant he thought we should hang out during recess. But since I wasn't used to this attention actually being given back it freaked me out. I broke up with him quickly and then felt a bit betrayed when he had a new girlfriend in sixth grade. Abby, she was the only girl in school who actually needed a bra. I heard they kissed under water at golfland and it made me glad it was her and not me. Kissing seemed so gross to me back then.

6) This was by far my most pathetic crush in the history of crushery: Mike Lynch. He reminded me of Fred Savage from The Wonder Years. I put all my boy focus on him from the end of 5th grade to 7th grade. If a boy told me he liked me or wanted to eat lunch with me I would say "sorry, I like Mike Lynch". We had class together in 5th or 6th grade and the desks were set up in a U shape. I was so thrilled when we sat directly across from each other so I could stare at him all day like a psychotic FREAK. One day I wrote on the bottom of my pro-wing high-tops with Magic Marker:




When I kicked my feet up onto the desk for him to see during reading time he laughed out loud!

Although there were many times I was proud to have made him laugh, he never liked me. I didn't accept that truth until I asked him to dance at a school dance and later someone told me he was looking for another girl during that song and wanted to dance with her. I was crushed and finally gave up. Only to see him in 8th grade and realize he was way too short for me anyway. He stopped growing and I didn't.



For some reason I bought paper with a holiday border thinking it would be a good idea to write a letter to send with Christmas cards this year. I cannot write creatively under pressure, much less anything interesting that most of the people don't already know from reading here or there or that other site. Sure, the great-grandparents are not on-line so they might like to read a little something instead of the usual cold photo with nothing personalized or signed. But all I can think of writing about are lists of favorite moments this year. In which case the best Zane quote would be the time my mom was visiting and assisting with the dreaded potty training. We were all sitting at the kitchen table wondering how he was doing on his own in the restroom. All of a sudden we heard him giggle from the other room, then his feet came stomping through the kitchen and he shouted:

"Everybody! Take out your peenus!" with his business pulled through the leg hole of his underpants.


here with you it's perfect

top eighteen songs by the cure. because i couldn't stop at ten.

Pictures of you
Strange Attraction
Letter To Elise
Mint Car
Jupiter Crash
The Walk
How Beautiful You Are
Boys Don’t Cry
Hot! Hot! Hot!
Shiver and Shake
In Between days


1) Almond Snickers

This product would be slightly better if the almonds were sliced (at least in half). For some reason it's way better in the dark chocolate variety, even though I normally prefer milk chocolate.

2) Wendy's Vanilla Frosty with the Oreo add-in (think cookies n' cream ice cream).

Who knew The Frosty could improve? This is worth a trip just to get this and nothing else. But since they have the best fries on the greasy market, you might as well get some of those, too.

3) That's all for now.
4) Then again....what if they made a vanilla frosty with the almond snickers in it? Then I think my tongue woud burst in delight.


where disappointment and regret collide


If I were an animal I think that would be the sound I would make right now.
Just Gah. Over and over.

One sure way to have a flop of a weekend is to make a To Do list 2 pages long. With nothing fun on it. And no scheduled breaks or room for reality related to the actual hours available in each given day. And then get super pissy at self and family because every little thing will feel like an interruption from the list. GAH.


I had a friend tell me once he felt like another piece of the furniture in the house when it came to his wife (assuming he meant attention). Ouch. I didn't know what to say. Until I realized sometimes the people in my house become furniture to me. People to care for or be near instead of enjoying. That's what happens when my expectations on my task list are more demanding than they should be.

I know we do this because our work is never done. There is never (seemingly to me) a moment when every inch is vaccuumed, every dish clean, and every article of clothing washed and put away, every belly filled, every cheek wiped, every project completed, every call returned, every email answered, every teaching moment seized, every object dusted, every paper filed. Spinning in the back of our heads are all the frivilous thing that would be nice to do, enjoyable outlets we would love to 'get to next' or dates to plan or trips to make out of town. We hardly feel we can get to a place when all is done so we can rest our minds from thinking about what is undone. Or letting the world slow down because who else is going to think of all! the! things! that! need! to! be! done! It's like living in a spreadsheet where all the numbers are the square root of an irrational number. But we are all waiting for it to be a perfect square, like 25.

So gah. Furniture Family. Or what I call roommate syndrom. It doesn't work for me, it's got to be different. I've got to take the irrational number and round up the way we learned to in grade school.