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Location: Upstate, South Carolina, United States

I think that the Meredith Brooks' song, "Bitch," summarizes me rather nicely. Or, if you prefer, X. dell says I'm a life-smart literary scholar with a low BS tolerance...that also works!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Food, Or What I Buy

I love saving money with coupons and sales. I cook at home a lot, and I know that saves money (we eat out maybe twice a month, period). But the fact of the matter is, I'll never ever be one of those women who consistently every week buys $200 worth of groceries for $20. Let me tell you why.

1) I won't buy stuff like Hamburger Helper or any other pre-made, convenience stuff. Have you seen the chemicals list in that crap???? No. Just...no.

2) I like to use fresh, local ingredients. So, this means I actually buy produce, often from a farmer's market or whatnot.

3) In addition to number 2, we also in this family get in our daily requirement of fruits and veggies, and only some of them come from frozen packs/boxes.

4) Milk isn't free. I can get really cheap other dairy products, but milk is at best on sale. There are four of us. I also cook with milk.

5) Part of how I don't get bored with cooking is by trying new recipes, and I am not limited to one or two ethnic cuisines. So, this means I have to buy spices sometimes that I do not have on hand. Thank goodness for World Market.

6) Meat can be on sale--and I only buy meat when it's on sale--but it's rarely free with coupons, too.

But when I look at how much I buy compared to what I spend, I know I am saving a buttload of money. We eat like kings in this house. We stay within our budget. And, additionally, the meals I prepare are typically totally from scratch. So, we have this "minimal crap in our food" effect that makes me happy. I'm quite content with the results, and I leave the true coupon ladies with their tables full of "LOOK what I BOUGHT for this amount of money!!!" to themselves. When I stare at what they've brought home, I often realize...ew. I wouldn't eat that Hamburger Helper for all the money in the world. Yup, very happy with where we're at right now!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

What Makes Me Laugh

I had a woman ask me while I was at work, "Can you recommend to me a nice White Zinfandel?"

That's the sort of thing that makes a wine professional try very, very hard not to laugh when she hears it.

Now please don't get me wrong--I am content that White Zin exists. I'm more of a wine geek rather than a wine snob; I don't feel the need to bash people's tastes. If they like it, good on them. When you have folks intimidated by wine or who first try a very dry red wine, they would likely never return to sipping on wine without the sweet, easy-drinking qualities of a White Zin. That's its purpose. Great.

But a nice White Zin? Here's a cherry Kool-Aid. I threw in some vodka for ya. There you go! White Zin was an accident, a trauma accomplished by a stuck fermentation of a Red Zin. It's not going to be the top recommendation I would give to anybody at any time. The wine wasn't built to be a fine, long-finish, well-balanced, complex glass of beauty to savor. It's to swill, laugh, and enjoy. A bottle of White Zin you'd enjoy, ma'am? Yes, I can recommend that. But a NICE bottle of White Zin? Well, only if I redefine the word.

Now, if she had just asked me for a nice sweet wine, my list would have been endless....

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I never saw the point of the texting function on a phone. But, see, I hate the phone so very much...it wasn't hard for my daughter to get me to see the wisdom of being able to type out a quick message instead of call. It's like instant email! Anywhere! All the time! So, now we dish out extra money for a family unlimited texting plan.

I will admit that it's a lot of fun. And it somehow pleases me that my daughter loves to message me no matter where I am. My daughter is in middle school, and she still loves her mother! YUSSS!

This is an example of a typical exchange:

Kira: Before I forget, Jared and I have a dentist's apointment at 3p tomorrow. We might not be home when you get here.

Ari: Will you leave the key under the mat?

K: No. You will have to access your D&D rogue's skill and pick the lock. Don't forget your thieves' tools.

A: Ok.

K: or there could be a key. Dunno. It'll be a surprise!

K: (Ari sends me a "vote for chic fil a cows" picture) Vote for them for what?

A: Vote them for presidential candidates!!!!

K:Why not meeeeee? I am clearly more awesome.

A: Because I don't want you to be shot and you have no political experience.

K: ...it seems to me that having political experience does not make a candidate more competent. And the cows don't have political experience, either. But I can go for not being shot.

A: Yeah, there are always more cows that can run chic fil a, so if they get shot it doesn't matter.

K: Exactly. Plus, we can at least eat the cows! :)

A: I love you mom!!!

K: You love me...when I make you beef, not turkey tacos :) (SIDE NOTE: this is a reference to my mom making her turkey tacos instead of beef while we were in Mexico. She was not happy with that artistic choice)

A: Yes definitely!!! But I also love you when you give me cookies.

So, this is what I can now do with my daughter even when she's at a friend's house or riding home on the bus. We amuse each other. And I will have you note that she uses proper grammar and spelling whenever she texts. I have taught her well. Haha!

Yeah, I guess this unlimited texting thing is ok in my book.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Baby Ducklings

We have a pool here at the apt. complex. It's a rather nice one with a little teeny circle-shaped island in the middle. We all love to swim in it...including the ducks.

A duck came into the pool about a month or so ago. She thought the pool looked awesome, and while our backs were turned, she built up a nest. Then she laid her eggs, and boom! We had a duck in the pool. Thankfully, federal regulations have them as protected, so nobody was allowed to do anything to that duck. I had no problem swimming in the pool knowing a duck had also taken a dive because I had been raised on a lake. I've swum with frogs, ducks, fish, snakes, and alligators. A) I'm alive and B) I never got sick from that. This time, I'm swimming with a duck with some chlorine in the water. Nope. I didn't care.

What astounded me, though, was the day the ducklings hatched.

On any given day, my leasing agents concentrated on difficult renters. Or broken dumpsters. Or rent that was due. Or the fact that the doggie poo station had no bags. Or bigger issues, of course, like their salaries...the state of the US economy...our troops in Afganistan...huge stuff, right?

But the day the ducklings hatched, the leasing agents (and me, and several other tenants) became focused only on the ducklings. Yes, small children were starving to death all over the world. Troops were dying far away from American soil. The oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico was killing wildlife and fishing. Children were being abused. Animals were being maltreated. But nothing else mattered...there were ducklings.

New life.

Small, fuzzy, peeping cute balls of fluff.

Calls were made to wildlife to get them to a safe place. The staff hung out near the pool all day, coaxing them with bread along a ramp of wood back to their nest that they could not reach without assistance. After all, momma duck wasn't bright and picked out a place that she could get to with a hop, but tiny dark balls of duckling could never access. The maintenence men, the leasing agents, even their boss...I watched as this became their total obsession until they were safely placed in a new location.

The world stood still for those ducklings. They taught us that new life comes when we don't expect it, and they showed us that if we focus on tiny aspects of our existence--and take joy from them--we will always ebb and flow through life with happiness in our hearts.

Thank you, ducklings. I hope you grow big and fat and old, too.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Moving, Moving, Moving

Well, I know that Grant felt that my last post was an April Fool's joke. That's understandable since, well, um, Grant really knows me and knows how adverse I am to being less than a hedonistic slug. The fact is, though, that the strangeness continues.

I love doing my swords class.

I love biking.

I now am dancing around to whatever song I hear, and leap up to do whatever I want to do around the house.

I love swimming.

So there you go. The other day, I flexed my muscles to the kids as a joke, and they screeched, "MOM! You have REAL MUSCLES!" Wow. Yeah, I do, and I never have. Interesting. My energy has increased, and my mood (which is typically pretty good) has improved even more.

Can I keep this up? I have no idea. But I DO know that right now, as it goes, I love reclaiming my body one pound at a time. I've stopped at 10 lbs lost for two weeks, but this is one of those moments when I realize that it's still weight lost...but it's weight converted from fat to muscle. I can kick your ass and your uncle's, too ;) I am having so much fun practicing my sword! What happened? My body is tighter, more skilled, more precise. I'm thrilled.

On another strange note, I realized this last week that I'm a great cook. Yeah, yeah, those of you who have eaten my food have likely never doubted this ;) It's a long story. It invoves my sister's input on my mom's cooking, others who have craved this or that which I've fixed or asked for my recipes. But the end result is, when my sister tossed at me a pile of asparagus and said, "Do something with this," I was able to instantly look at her refrigerator/pantry and throw together something off the cuff without any recipe that everybody loved. I can look at my own refrigerator/pantry and decide what I'm going to do, recipe or not. I guess I CAN cook. That is awesome.

And I've been writing again.

And Alex plus the kids are still totally awesome. YUSSSS!

The only downside lately is that my cat chewed through the wire for our keyboard, and we had to use a backup keyboard for this computer. Ok, that seriously sucked. But 20 bucks is the cost of that keyboard, and pets cost you money. Oh well. It happens. Do pets chew through wires??? I have never had a pet who liked to do that, nor petsitted for somebody who did. Wires? WHY?

Yup, other than that, life is good. Sure, we don't have enough money to jet off to France to see Alex's family, but how many familes would like to have the only problem being, "We can't just fly off to France this year!" Yeah. So, I'm ok with life right now. I'm better than ok. Life is excellent!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The World Is Coming to an End

For the last four decades on this planet, I have been well-known as a hedonist. I love good food. I love good wine. I love reading and video games. All of these activities can be done from a seat, and that was fine by me. My hyper metabolism overcame all, and I still fit into whatever clothes I wanted. It's not like I'm lazy nor have anything against moving, though. I used to hike regularly before the kids were born, and when it's summer, I love to swim and splash in the water. But exercising? You have to be kidding me. That's crazy talk.

However, after abusing my really good metabolism for many years, it started to complain. IT complained. Not me. I would never complain that an excellent metabolism that let me eat a good 1000 calories over what I should eat without gaining weight cut it back to only 500 calories of overeating. That is still very lucky. I have too many friends who can eat right and exercise to no avail. If I had their metabolism, I'd be in competition for the largest woman in the world with how I eat and don't move. Note to naturally skinny people: you're naturally skinny, so don't go around pointing fingers at folks and telling them they just need to eat less and move around more. It doesn't work for everybody. But for me, I just slowly became aware that I was gaining weight. This shocked me because two years ago, all I did was cut out sodas, eat more fruits and veggies, and drink more water to lose about 20 lbs in total. I lost that over the course of one year. I felt good. I was able to wear the same dress that I had on when Alex met me. But then in the last year, I gained it all back...just as slowly. I can't pinpoint any changes in habits that caused it. I guess I'm just getting old :P

Anyway, when I arrived back on my doorstep from a visit to Grant in January, the scale told me that I weighed the most I've ever weighed without being pregnant. Shocked, I had to think about this one for a while. It took me a full month to have it really set in. One thing I contemplated was...at what point do I say, I don't care if I'm gaining weight? At what point does somebody start gaining weight (at least those of us who have control over these things) and just say, screw it, I'll continue to gain weight? If I continued to ignore this, would I then be a 300 lb woman that would travel to France with her family only to have French people point at me and giggle, "AMERICAN!" and run off? Would I get diabetes like my dad? The only reason why my dad got diabetes at 65 rather than 45, said the doctors, was that he had eaten heathily and exercised for decades (yes, Grant, I know these sorts of general rules don't apply to you, but they do to my family :P). It runs in my family. Do I want to get diabetes in 5 years? I needed to look back at my life and figure out what I was deciding I wanted for it based on what I was doing. This was very, very difficult for me because...well, see the earlier part about being a hedonist.

So, by the end of February, I decided to embark upon heathier eating and trying to find a way to exercise. I started out by adjusting to the concept of DAILY exercise. I ride a bike every day, and if the weather is bad, I do Wii Fit Plus instead. I took several of my son's TaeKwon-Do classes and last night, I took my first swords class. I began doing curls with 10 lb weights. As far as my diet goes, I cut back on sweets and started to make sure that the carbs I consumed were largely whole-grain (100% whole wheat bread and brown rice, but I admit to keeping my pasta not whole grain). I cut back on wine intake. I've already lost 7 lbs. Things jiggle less. I put on a pair of jeans I haven't been able to wear since last year (being a midget means that 7 lbs loss is like 14 lbs for a taller person :P). My energy level is up. And most shockingly, I rather like feeling like I could kick twice as much ass as usual.

I like what this moving around thing is doing to my body.

I never thought I'd say that. Ever. And in all my years on this planet, other than really enjoying swimming for a long time, I never have mentioned anything even close to this concept before now. But there we go. The world is coming to an end. I not only exercise to move my body but exercise because it's enjoyable.

There. I said it.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Old and the New

When I was young, I thought romance consisted of sweet words, flowers, chocolates, bubble baths, and massages. Anything that involved quiet time with my loved one wherein he doted upon me or showed that he thought of me all day was exactly what I wanted and expected. Ironically, even though my viewpoint on what is romantic has changed, I still DO get all of those things, constantly, from Alex. He has no idea that after being married for three and a half years, we're no longer newlyweds and he should start to slack off, scratch his ass, and drink beer while playing a video game (he isn't into sports), ignoring the rest of the family as we go about our business. If anything, he's even more involved. So, I get the best of what I thought was romance when I was young...and currently.

What romance becomes:

Vacuuming the house, then mopping it

Taking the kids to school because it's below freezing outside, and my circulation disorder makes it so that I get dangerously cold easily

Cleaning up cat barf, dog barf, and child barf cheerfully and without complaint...or even being asked

Cleaning up the kitchen right after dinner, every dinner, every night

Spending all his free time playing a game with Jared...then playing with Ari...then finding time for me before he falls into bed, too

Hunting up books I've never heard of but he just knows I'd like...then buying them for me

Making me tea and toast when I feel like crap, then turning around and taking care of the kids so that I can stay in bed

Listening to me...intently, with interest...about my babbles on wine, food, the world I created that is the beginnings of my newest story, the amount I saved with super double coupons, how the cat turned the most hilarious things into toys today, or how adorable Jared was in his martial arts class...anything, everything

Willingly waking up at 4a when I can't sleep, even though I'm trying not to wake him up, and rubbing my head while talking softly to me so I can fall back asleep

Always remembering to scrape the ice off my car's windshield because he leaves the house first and he wants me to not have to do it

Practicing martial arts with Jared

Reading a book Ari's reading just because she wants him to read it, too

Remembering to turn on the heating pad under Jared's sheets before he goes to bed so he's not too cold on the coldest nights

Patiently filming Ari and her best friend's antics for a science project for school


Oh, I could go on and on. But the truth is, romance when we are older is a much more practical, yet still magical, concept. Every day I am romanced by this man, showed to be special, made to feel loved...and it's not just the flowers/chocolates/backrubs/bubble baths/lit candles and petals strewn on my sheets. I'm obnoxiously lucky and get that, too, but it's the every day little things that he does that shows me what real romance has become.