Not Forgotten, Not Here

I’m unsure what to do with this blog. Delete it? Archive it somewhere into dusty corner of things we did in the 2000s-2010s? I still write, create art, just not here. My kids are grown, living on their own now...this is no longer the platform it was for me. So, here’s a placeholder of my regal cat, Toonces, doing her favorite indoor activity: waiting for me to open the door so she can drape herself onto the porch in the summer sun. It’s a pretty sweet life—hers, mine. 

Forgotten Spaces

There's dust here, my doing. Yes.

In March I'll have been coming here to this place for eight years, I suppose. Dates and numbers are and aren't my thing. They remember themselves before I remember them; remind my body before my brain.

When I started here—this place—it had no shape. That was its beauty and its innocence; my innocence, too.

People still come here looking for answers to questions about Tourette's and discrimination. And that's a story I wouldn't have told here without my husband's insistence that I not silence my voice in fear.

This became an unintentional blog about cancer, loss, and grief. Three times.

It became an unintentional blog about a lot of things—depression, rape, autism, stalking, marriage, dating, love, blended families, politics, photography, travel, homeschooling, cooking.

It became an unintentional source of support for others, but also for me during the most difficult times.

The world held my hand as I buried my husband. And held me up in the months that followed. My children and I know the love and generosity of a family borne from this place in addition to family borne from blood.

As my place here has bent and shifted to my life, it's form pushed and pulled to accommodate my story, its innocence has been replaced—mine, too.

What started as a hidden corner, once mostly my own, has become a marketplace—small, but frequented by regulars and occasional passersby. And I love that it's grown into its own, while at the same time I long for that hidden corner.

I find myself writing more and more in other spaces with varying degrees of public exposure. And I'm writing more pieces that I'm not publishing at all, which feels okay for now.

I've not been one to write for others. The few times I've toyed with it, it felt unnatural. The words and inspiration need to be mine. The story, mine.

Dust may gather here, but the stories and pictures will be mine.

The To Done List: It Will Change Your Life, Probably

I don't do To Do lists. They depress me. They loom large. I make them endless. I make them long. I make them unwieldy. 

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But crossing things off feels good. That sense of accomplishment? It's delicious—a beacon of hope.

Whether you like your lists handwritten, on your iPhone, or in your head, a list of accomplished tasks does something to your brain like nothing else. I GOT THAT STUFF DONE.

IMG 0529

Enter the To Done List.

Or: SHIT I ACTUALLY DID DO TODAY.

The next time you get to the end of your day feeling defeated try this: sit down and make a list of everything you did accomplish during the day. Everything. When you are someone with chronic illness or young children or just your average person trying to keep it all together, this is an important exercise in remembering you didn't do nothing today. Hell, try it right now. I don't care if you are still lying in bed. You read this, didn't you? Let's do this. 

Life as a passenger.

Here's my list so far:

  • washed dog bedding
  • put on dog's coat
  • moved son's laundry to dryer
  • reorganized cat food and litter box
  • ordered laundry soap
  • ordered halloween costume accessories
  • emailed one doctor, booked appointment with another
  • work-related research project
  • photographed items for future blog posts
  • put new blanket in dog crate
  • chatted with friends for a bit
  • talked with my son about weekend plans
  • ate breakfast & lunch
  • did a load of our laundry
  • got dressed, brushed my hair and teeth, and left the house
  • picked kids up from school
  • took kids to extracurricular activities
  • helped kids with homework
  • unpacked boxes
  • went on a nature walk with one of the kids
  • took more photos for family stuff
  • moved portable heater/fireplace
  • put away china in kitchen
  • straightened up in kitchen/dining room
  • helped kids with laundry
  • ate dinner
  • edited photos
  • updated family calendar
  • dealt with some email stuff
  • worked on blog-related work for about an hour (writing, editing, photos, emails, ads, social media etc.)
  • repaired iTunes library issues on phone

Oh, and posted to my blog. That, too. Calling this day wrapped. Catch y'all next time. Enjoy the fall colors. Damn trees are showing off like crazy around here.

Downtown was showing off yesterday. #latergram

 

 

 

It's Tuesday: Lazy Tacos And Getting Rid Of Paper

Mishing and mashing is what this is going to be, because I just don't have it in me to make a thematic post. I have three or four incredible well thought out and written posts, all of which are ¾'s of the way completed, which means they'll never see the light of day. In lieu of writing yet another one of those, I'm doing this post. Enjoy.

I made the tastiest whole chicken the other day, and I don't think I told anybody about it except one friend and it was just too easy and yummy not to share here. 

Whole Chicken in Crock Pot

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons paprika (I used a blend of chili powder instead of paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon thyme (I was out of thyme, I have no idea how, but I was, so I used some oregano, I think)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne (red) pepper (I used a blend of chili powder instead of cayenne)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large chicken

Directions

  1. Combine the dried spices in a small bowl.
  2. Loosely chop the onion and place it in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  3. Remove any giblets from the chicken and then rub the spice mixture all over. You can even put some of the spices inside the cavity and under the skin covering the breasts.
  4. Put prepared chicken on top of the onions in the slow cooker, cover it, and turn it on to high. There is no need to add any liquid.
  5. Cook for 4 – 5 hours (for a 3 or 4 pound chicken) or until the chicken is falling off the bone. Don’t forget to make your homemade stock with the leftover bones ! (I fucked up this part, because, well, I did. Shh…don't tell. I'll get it right next time.)

I used this recipe, with some modifications, because rules are hard. Anyway, once the chicken was done, it fell right off the bones as promised. I served it with spanish rice, beans, and tortillas. It was so moist and delicious. To die for yummy. The kids loved it, too. So easy.

I have been playing with some new apps you might enjoy. One is called Typic. It allows you to add typography to photos. It includes a few in-app filters, as well, and exports photos to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email, or your phone's camera. Here are samples of a couple of shots I've created. 

Drive

Autumn #typic

Kind of fun, right?

The next apps are actually my secret to a paper-reduced world. I've used them for a while, but they keep improving, and I don't know what I'd do without them. I am severely paper-averse. I hate filing. I hate managing paper. I hate trying to search through the mountains of paper produced by a large family. Our answer is making sure as much of our paper as possible is converted to searchable PDFs and, unless we absolutely need to keep a hard copy, it's shredded/tossed. Better yet, it never becomes a piece of paper. How do we do it? 

First, we use an app called SignEasy (available for iPhone and Android). This allows us to sign and fill out any forms or paper we receive without having to print them out. I know, crazy. SignEasy is my BFF. Once I have signed the forms, I convert them to a PDF or JPG, save them to DropBox or another service of my choice, email them, "fax" them, or print them wirelessly to my Epson printer (God forbid). If it's a document that doesn't arrive in an online format (like something the kids bring home from school or a something received via snail mail, I simply take a photo to "scan" it using an app called TurboScan. TurboScan and SignEasy work well together, and both communicate with DropBox and email. I can literally fill out contracts, sign them, and return them without touching a pen, paper, fax, or envelope. Plus, they're legible. Bonus!

Alrighty, that's all the wisdom and beauty I have to impart on you today, kids. Go stick some words on your pictures and sign some stuff with your phone. Maybe toss a chicken in the crockpot. Until we meet again.

 

 

Deliciousness Of Rain

The pain creeps up from my toes, and I don't know why. Flu? Fibro flare? Whatever, it's unwelcome and ill-timed. 

I grab for my solutions, the things I expect will make it better, and they mask it for brief moments, and then I'm forced to admit The Ick is winning for today. 

Between its wins, I fit mine. 

Children parented, conversations of importance, boxes unpacked, and clothing sorted. Counters are wiped, and towels are folded.

Small wins. Big wins.

Date nights and gardens tended.

Love.

Dreams.

The scent of the first rain sneaks in through our window. I grab it as it passes over my tea.

A little win. 

I put these wins together into a box I keep to show to myself when I forget. I say, See! You are a winner! Look! 

I pour them out into a pile and feel them tangle between my fingers. All of the wins. The big ones fall to the bottom of the heap. The little ones are plentiful and the easiest to see. 

I vow to add more, even if I have to squeeze them in between the losses. 

More On That School Thing

I can't let it go, apparently. Inefficiency is a thorn in my side, paper is my arch nemesis, and websites with information that hasn't been updated in years make me twitchy. 

I get that schools are short on funds, but when you're asking for volunteers, and money (a lot of money), passing around STACKS of clipboards for volunteer signups, and having me register my child online three (yes THREE) times, before the TWO in-person registrations, separate orientations in the spring AND fall, and annual in-person residency verification process that lasts for a week prior to school starting, all staffed by school personnel and volunteers, I have to question the logic. 

Not one of those volunteer requests was for someone to update the school or classroom websites.

Not one of those volunteer requests was for someone to get rid of the paper that's sent home every Wednesday that is also duplicated online, a process easily done away with by asking parents if they prefer online vs. hard copy versions.

Instead, we were asked to donate two reams of paper per student.

And volunteer to staff the multiple days of registration.

For one student, in the spring, we spent 3+ hours attending registration activities, orientations, counseling appointments, and completing online registration for fall classes. In the fall, for the same student, we spent another 5 hours attending to orientations, registrations (in person and online), and verifying our residency. And this was considered efficiently run—a marked improvement over past years. 

I haven't even factored in the hours spent acquiring school supplies which were purchased both prior to and after the start of the school year. I'm not even sure we're done on that front as the teachers still seem to be adding to the list.

Oh, and the calendars. What. The. Hell.

Why create a school calendar for export if you can't be bothered to have it contain accurate times? Noting that it's a shortened school day, but having the times noted as 12am-12am? Not real helpful. Failing to even include the daily bell schedule on the calendar? Or your website? Worse still, having last year's bell schedule on the site when this year's schedule is different? Total fail. Or, ya know, just not having an exportable calendar at all. That stinks, too.

While I'm listing peeves:

Don't ask me to follow your school on Facebook or Twitter if you don't actively maintain either of those social media channels. It's just downright annoying. I don't want to know what was going on in 2010. Take the link down.

Likewise with your links to teacher's classroom info. If the teacher info isn't up-to-date or in use, don't post it. It's frustrating as a parent to try to find out what's going on in your child's class and have the site be wrong. We live in the Bay Area, people. I shouldn't have to read Lorem ipsum under the class description for two years running.

Okay, taking off my cranky pants now and getting ready for date night. Enjoy your weekend, folks.

 

 

 

 

Middish Week Review: I'm Making It A Thing

POLITICS

Rape. Yeah. The news is chock full of rape, but guess what, so is the world. Get your heads out of the sand if you think this is just about Akin, folks. And keep in mind that since this is my personal blog, I'm expressing my personal opinions. If you don't know by now that I have some opinions, we probably haven't met. Here are some of the articles that really spoke to me over the past couple of days:

An Appeal to Rep. Todd Akin by Maureen Herman, former bassist of Babes in Toyland, founder Project Noise, and a mother of a daughter born as a result of rape. 

Using the Right Words About Rape by Kelly Wickman, an educator, mother of four, and all-around amazing person who has very important things to say on this subject, with perspective that speaks to me and might speak to you.

The Official Guide to Legitimate Rape by Katie J. M. Baker, Editor at Jezebel. This article is one of the most comprehensive I read on the concept of what is defined as rape and how legislators continue to undermine the good that would come from a zero-tolerance approach to rape by playing the game of trying to define "types of rape as if they were different flavors in an ice cream shop."

DEATH

If you're more comfortable with your head in the sand, we can talk about death. Phyllis Diller died this week. I loved her. I spent part of today listening to this tribute on NPR, which included an interview she did with Terry Gross in 1986. It was every bit of the awesome I expected, with a slice of gold on top. 

SCHOOL

We're also sending a big kid off to high school this week and a little one off to kindergarten. A time for transitions. And questions about why school districts can't seem to get their calendars to actually reflect meaningful information like start and end times to the day or truly import to the apps we all use with some sort of ease-of-use. Or maybe updated websites with links that aren't broken, less paper—hell no paper—especially when you're asking us to donate paper, which will presumably be used to produce copies of things to be sent home, just as easily made available online or also available online already—redundancy you are my nemesis. Silly things, I suppose, but they irk me every year and seem to be an issue across the country, so I don't feel alone. And who are these parents who can take off from work for hours, day after day, to attend registrations, open houses during the workday, and orientations, for varying grade-levels all held on different days and times, AFTER we've registered online multiple times in the spring and again in the fall? What an assumption of privilege, I think, to require parents to do these things, and make them feel less-than if they don't. It is wholly unnecessary that inefficiency or poor planning should result in longer hours for staff, volunteers, and parents. It doesn't show that anybody cares more or is more important. It is a waste of time and resources. It doesn't build community. It builds burnout and resentment.

And now, I'll be stepping off my little soapbox so I can get my house in order for back-to-school and daily life.

Enjoy the rest of your week, folks.

Drink something cool and fruity if you're able.

 

Things What Peeve Me: Also A List

I did not want my list of likes to get lonely, as lists are wont to do, so I came up with this complementary list of things that peeve me. 

  • Unflushed toilets—just, TMI. I don't need to know that about you. If you're old enough to skip the diaper, you're old enough to master the flush. Say, "Bye! Bye! to Mr. Brown, and flush him down!"
  • Closed windows on cool days—I am so very cranky when I don't get fresh air.
  • When a question is asked that has already been answered—ask once, listen for the answer.
  • Likewise, repeating myself—did you listen?
  • Flies indoors—this is why we have doors and screens, thank you very much. Close what you open.
  • People who can't merge—EVERY. OTHER. CAR. It's not rocket science, people. You're not racing NASCAR nor is this a parking lot. Keep it moving in an orderly fashion and nobody gets hurt.
  • The mistaken use of "yea" when people mean "yeah"—are you voting in a bill on the House floor or casually saying yes? Know the difference.
  • Captioning photos as "So-and-so and I" when it should be "So-and-so and Me"—you wouldn't say here's a picture of "I." You'd say here's a picture of "Me." Simple rule to help you remember. So the next time you post a picture of yourself with some sexy beast, you'll know how to caption it. Right?Wine tasting

My boyfriend and me, wine tasting.

Birthday Door

I'm not sure what typical people ask for on their birthdays. I asked for a door.

Last year I asked for a hot tub delivery. Yes, the delivery. Not the hot tub itself. I already had that. I just wanted it delivered to our new digs and didn't want to have to deal with the headache of coordinating having it craned out of my old house and trucked to the new one.

This year, I wanted a door.

I'd say I'm easy to please, but that's probably a lie.

I don't mind paying for my gifts, helping install them, and I can't recall ever returning one. 

However, the chances you're going to find something for me at the mall are slim. I buy my own clothes. If there's a book I want to read, I get it. I don't want more crap. I'd rather have antiques from my family than something from Restoration Hardware. And I already have plenty. I don't need more knick knacks to dust. I don't like decorations that lack stories. I like history, humor, functionality, and beauty in the things around me. 

So, a door.

A birthday door.

Door

 

 

New York Times Best Boob Is Too A Thing

I know some Jennys. One lives near me, and we amuse each other greatly. Occasionally we amuse other people. 

Last week we made the trek to Corte Madera to see our other friend, also a Jenny, at her book signing because, HOLY FUCK WE HAVE A FRIEND WHO WROTE A REAL LIVE READABLE BOOK. Also, we love her. And it's rare to see this particular Jenny outside of a bathroom.

Waiting to get my book signed by Jenny.

Seriously. It is. That's where I first met her. In a bathroom. It's less abnormal the longer you know her. I've now spent more time with her in a bathroom than out, I think, and this seems completely normal to me.

Private Party with The Bloggess

Hanging with @TheBloggess and my girl. #awesome

Anyway, when Jenny and I got back from seeing Jenny at the book signing, we sat down to make a video homage to our friend, her book (Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir), and our road trip, but this happened instead. 

 

I think Jenny will understand. Also, you should totally buy Jenny's book because The Bloggess is a seriously funny person, and it turns out that we aren't the only two people on the planet who think this. (You need to understand that this totally makes my autographed boob incredibly important by association, like New York Times Book List important. That's really important. That's more important than that stupid Who's Who crap they try to get you to pay for in high school, which it turns out is just a giant scam that anyone can do, so I'm glad I didn't do it.)

Taking my @TheBloggess boob to the pool. As you do.

Oh, and Jenny is one of the few people who spells my name correctly. I think that's important in a friendship.

Finally, somebody spelled my name correctly. Figures it'd be @TheBloggess

 

Lorax—Snorlax

We took the kids to see the Lorax in 3-D today. We were seriously disappointed. It felt far longer than an hour and twenty-five minutes. They lost the Seuss of it all, if that makes sense. And there was very little offered to keep the adults or, hell, anyone engaged after the first twenty minutes.

I am the choir this story preaches to, and I felt preached to in a college-lecture-hall kind of way. Had I not ingested half of an over-sized, -priced iced-tea, I surely would have nodded off. That said, the kids in tow (preschool-elementary age) enjoyed it, but I should qualify this is only the third movie they've seen in a theater—the novelty of moviegoing still holds their attention almost as much as the movie.

It seems to be the way when Hollywood tries to get a feature-length film out of a children's storybook. Sometimes it's best left on the pages of the book for us to enjoy at bedtime or in the classroom. Dr. Seuss has so much to offer early readers, and his messages don't need to be forced onto the big screen to make them enjoyable.

Gremlins

There are gremlins in my tires. And my washing machine. Possibly the kids. It's really the only explanation. Or maybe science. Could be science.

I prefer gremlins.

The low-air pressure light came on in my car that let's me know the tires need air, or are flat, or maybe the weather has cooled off and my car hates me, or there are gremlins.

I prefer gremlins.

DSC 0314 2

This is not a gremlin. This is Abe wearing a Santa hat.

Abe makes me feel better. He's festive, he likes to party, but he never gets out of hand because, well,

he's only a bust; his lack of legs really limits his ability to tear shit up.

Everybody needs an "Abe."

Once, when Bob was still alive, we were on our way to a chemo appointment and the A/C in my car stopped working. We looked at each other and simultaneously said, "Shit, guess this means we're going to have to buy a new car." It's not that we didn't know how to get it fixed, it was just that kind of thing. That kind of stress. That kind of moment in time. I never did get the A/C fixed. It mostly fixed itself. Or something.

I prefer gremlins.

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These are also not gremlins, but I do question whether or not gremlins were

involved in their current placement because WTF? Is there a frat house near the manger?

My washing machine started singing a song tonight that is different from the song it normally sings. Something about Korean appliances—they sing the loveliest songs when they want you to know things, even things like, "Hey, there's a potential water leak happening somewhere inside your washing machine, and you need to call a repair person during the holidays to get our here and fix it even though you have a houseful of guests." The boyfriend and I looked at it. We restarted it. It seems to be working. I don't know why.

Probably gremlins.

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This? This is a 15-year-old trying to imitate the people on the Xbox 360

Box because he will still do things to make his mother laugh.

Our ice maker stopped working for a couple months. It started working again about a week ago.

Gremlins.

The requisite 1.75 children are currently sick in our household because 1.75 children are always sick in a children-possessing household prior to a holiday. It is written, therefore it shall be law.

Gremlins.

Clearly. Or, perhaps, the common cold.

I prefer gremlins.

DSC_0389-2

There is a VERY strong possibility this is a gremlin.

 

My Office: Let Me Show You It

I don't do desks. It's not that I haven't tried. I have had desks. I have sat at desks. I have tried fancy chairs. I have tried fancy desks. I have tried fancy computers at fancy desks.

I always end up sitting on my bed.

I did my homework on my bed from the time I started having homework. I had a desk. I used my bed. I would sit with my very long legs dangling over the sides of my very narrow twin bed doing my homework. Sometimes my dog would join me. She sucked at math. I didn't. We were a good team.

I realize that using my bed as my desk and office is a colossal faux pas for somebody with chronic insomnia. I don't care. I didn't sleep any better when I sat elsewhere. I probably slept worse because of the pain I had from sitting at a desk. The ergonomics of desk life don't work for me.

So, a bed it is. This can lead to some confusion amongst people who reside outside my home. They think I spend ALL DAY IN BED OH MY GOD.

Mah Desk

Me at "My Desk"

Well, I sort of do. I spend a number of hours sleeping and a greater number of hours working and getting shit done online. I process photos, I respond to the colossal cesspool of email I receive, I manage my ad networks, I do the social network thing, I dick around a bit, and I MOSTLY do the other stuff that is my private business that I don't talk about here because, well, it's my private business not your private business. It's what ultimately pays the bills. This gig buys the lattes and the shoes, for the most part. Math is hard or that's what the dog said, anyway.

Pretty fucking exciting, eh?

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Sometimes I use a fancy-ass pillow for my neck!

This is the fancy neck pillow I like to use when I have to spend a rather long bit of time on the Interwebs. It makes my neck feel so very loved. Desks do not offer this option. Let's be honest, desks are assholes.

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Just like a desk-dweller, I can enjoy a cup of coffee in my office space. Look at me go! (Duck face optional for those of you attempting this advanced move at home.)

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My office has some sweet art. It has deep meaning in my life. I like that about my office and my art. It inspires me.

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Phone

I can talk on the phone in my office—can, but don't. I don't do phone. We've already reviewed this.

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Phone is icky. It is only good for the texting and the porn.

Thank you for joining me for this tour of my office. Tune in next time for a tour of my "other office" where I read the Twitter and think fondly of you all. It has the loveliest porcelain accouterments and softest two-ply. You're going to LOVE it; I just know you are!


Advice To The Newly Widowed: My .02

As I look back on the past nineteen months, I feel like I owe it to the newly widowed out there to share what I have learned. In no particular order, please know this:

  • Make friends with your shower floor and the car. You will cry there often. Or I did. You'll find a place. We all seem to. I still cry. I will always cry. I cry a little less now.
  • Get a lot of copies of that death certificate. Carry at least one with you everywhere you go in the first few months.
  • Learn to say no when you need a break.
  • Learn to say yes when you need help.
  • Get out of the house. I don't care if it's to go to the mailbox in your filthy sweatpants that you've been wearing for a week straight.
  • It's not too soon.
  • It's not too late.
  • You will be okay. Really.
  • The only person who knows how you should be grieving is YOU.
  • Cry when you cry.
  • Laugh when you laugh.
  • It is okay to date.
  • It is okay to not date.
  • It is okay to continue to wear your wedding band. Or not.
  • You can go through his/her things when YOU are ready.
  • People love you.
  • Some of your friends and family understand what you are going through.
  • Some of your friends and family do not understand.
  • Lean on the people who understand.
  • Grief doesn't have a timeline.
  • The holidays can be however you need them to be, look however you want them to look.
  • The holidays will be hard no matter how you change them up. They just will. Plan for this suckage.
  • You do not have to visit the cemetery. You can if you want.
  • You have permission to grieve in the way that works best for you.
  • Grief can be physically painful. I'm not sure why this gets left out of so much information. It can hurt like a mother fucker.
  • Grief can be sneaky. I have been struck down to my knees in the most inopportune places and the worst possible times. You can't prepare for it. Roll with it if you can. Know that you are not alone. Pack tissues or handkerchiefs. You will need them. Often.

For more advice on what to do in those early days, practical advice, check out this post by fellow widow, White Elephant In The Room, called A Widow's Primer. It is an excellent source of what you need to know and do in those first days, hours, months. She speaks the truth.

Telling My Secrets

Tonight, I made a couple of big turkey pot pies out of our Thanksgiving leftovers. I already had some pie dough, so it only took a few extra minutes to chop some carrots and an onion and simmer things before pouring them into the casserole dishes and pop them into the oven.

The thing that really made them taste great, in my opinion, was the crust. You can't beat a homemade crust, yet so many people get scared off by the idea.

I talked in a prior post about the importance of ice-cold ingredients when making pie dough. Super important. Keep everything chilled and chill the dough overnight, at least, until you're ready to roll it out.

Don't be afraid to flour your surface for rolling out the dough. And flour that rolling pin, too. The less you handle the dough, the better. If you can remember, flatten it into a pancake shape before chilling it. I do this in a gallon-sized Ziploc freezer bag.

Now, my recipe. This is a variation of my family's "Never Fail Pie Crust" recipe:

3 c flour (I prefer King Arthur's)
1 1/4 c butter (cold, cut into 1/2" cubes)
1 t salt
1 egg well-beaten
4 T ice-cold water
1 T white vinegar

Cut butter into flour and salt until butter is size of peas. Combine egg, water, and vinegar in separate bowl. Pour liquid into flour at once. [I make a volcano shape in the flour mixture and pour the liquid into the center.] Blend with a spoon and then work with your hands until all of the flour is moistened and dough can be formed into a ball. DO NOT OVER-HANDLE. Keeps in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. Can also be frozen. Handles best when refrigerated overnight.

I use an inexpensive pastry cutter to mix my dough, but you can do it with a fork by pressing the tines through the butter and flour. If you have a food processor, that's another option, but again, be careful not to overmix it and break down your nice, cold butter.

Now, go get baked! Wait, that's not what I meant.

Favorite Reads: Cocktails, Photography, Shopping, And Laughs

Alright kids, it's time to stop reading the drivel I post and get your eyes over to some other sites for a bit. Here are a few of my favorites:

When I want to learn about booze, and I mean learn not just tip up the glass, I head over to American Drink. Some people will blog about a cocktail they've whipped up in their makeshift kitchen bar, but these folks have dialed it in. Posts are provided by some of my friends, acquaintances, and occasionally inspired by some random folks I like to laugh at on stage when I get the chance. If you want to impress your friends during the holidays or maybe host a whisky tasting, check out this blog. If you want to learn why tequila isn't the evil shit that made you puke your guts out in college, take a gander at American Drink. Learn about the agave plant and why you don't need to do shots with lime and salt like a frat boy on spring break. Grow up with American Drink.

When I need to get inspired and find ideas for photography, I hit Photojojo. Not always, but frequently enough that I want to share. They have the best gadgets. Like this little doohicky right here: a lens cap holder for your camera strap. How fucking genius is that? They also have a feature called Time Capsule that sends you an email twice a month with photos from a year ago—also, genius. It links to Flickr; poof, done! I love that.

Now, on to my favorite shopping site. I am well and truly addicted to Hautelook. It's a downright embarrassment how often their packages show up on our doorstep, but I have scored some seriously good deals. Want a teaser? If you're into True Religion or Seven jeans, they have them right now for $56. I've found cashmere yoga pants, bamboo kitchen cutting boards, children's books, makeup, and a host of other treats. It's all name brand stuff. It's all deeply discounted. Shoes, furniture, clothing, housewares, toys, Hautelook has it all. The site updates daily and closes out items as they sell out. If Hautelook isn't your thing, head over to my other favorite shopping site, Etsy.

Need to wrap your day up with some shits and giggles? The Bloggess will deliver. My girl can make a chronic disease funny. She can make a sex tour in Japan funny. She can make a dead animal funny. If you have trouble finding your funny, let Jenny help you. She's a professional. I should warn you that you should not attempt her brand of humor at home unless you are wearing safety equipment and a Depends. Plus, sometimes she lets me take her picture in precarious locations, for which I am eternally grateful.

The Bloggess Holding Court in the Pisser

Other times, she wears my shoes and lets me pose WITH her in precarious locations. Again, grateful. (Precarious locations is code for bathrooms, by the way.)

Loubis

(Photo by the lovely Missdisgrace)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mixed Bags: Grieving And Giving Thanks

This Thanksgiving was filled with so much for which I am thankful. I have an incredible family, love an amazing man, and live in a beautiful part of the world. We are healthy and our needs are few.

Yet, as with every milestone, this holiday was marked with that grey cloud of grief and what is missing. Bug excused himself to his room for bit before the pie was served because he was missing his dad. Peanut needed extra hugs and love tonight after we'd gone to bed. I had a long cry when we finally made it to bed.

I'm resolved to think that there will always be a sense that part of us isn't here. Part of our whole is missing. As much as most of my days feel normal, on these kinds of days, the hole feels marked. There is somebody missing at the table. I hate that gaping hole. I don't feel very thankful for that hole.

I do feel thankful for the children left behind who remind me how wonderful our time together was. It is an honor to be their mother and watch them become young adults.

I do feel thankful for the man who loves me now, that he cares deeply about supporting me and my children through our grief. He is a blessing I cannot even begin to explain, and I tell him every chance I get how glad I am that I found him. (I had to weed through a LOT of kayakers and campers to find him, people!)

This life of walking with one foot on each path continues. I just wish Mr. Louboutin would make the appropriate pair of shoes for the journey. One grief stiletto. One new-love stiletto. Or maybe boots. Something over-the-knee would be nice, with a zipper up the back like he used to do. Mmmm...dreams.