Friday, December 24, 2010

May the Force be with you. And also, bacon.

Hubby got a Christmas present last weekend that he used for the first time when making breakfast this morning.

Star Wars pancake molds.

This led to many bad Yoda impressions during breakfast. "Eat my face, you will!" "No more ears I have!" "Pass the syrup, please you will?"

There was a tiny bit of batter left over at the end, so Hubby made one regular, round pancake.  Oh wait, I mean, "the Death Star" - it's all in the marketing, of course.

It was a delightful Christmas Eve Day breakfast.  Especially the bacon - erm, "light sabers" (as the kid called them).  Of course bacon doesn't need the Force to be delicious......

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How to age with dignity...

I believe that the older one gets, the more dignified one must be.  I mean, clearly one should aspire to be more like this:

than this (You really need to only watch the first 24 seconds of the following clip to get what I'm talking about...):

Now as it just so happens, we are currently wrapping up Heather's Birthdayweek*.  Yes, last Tuesday, I officially entered the End of My Late Thirties by turning 39.  Clearly, I needed to muster up all the dignity I could, now that my age has inexorably advanced another year.  Fortunately, my family was ready and willing to pitch in and aid me in my quest to age with dignity.

First, I received a lovely, talking/musical birthday card specially selected for me by my darling daughter.......

(It talks - in Wookiee - and then plays the Star Wars theme. Très raffiné, non?)

Then, when opening my birthday present from Kiddo and Hubby with suitable decorum, I sliced a small chunk out of my thumb on the corner of the box.  (Us elderly folk have thinner skin, you know.  We're quite delicate.  It wasn't that I was shrieking with glee as I tore into the packaging of my present, I swear.  That would not have been dignified in the least.)  Kiddo came to my rescue by providing this first aid:

(Confession: The above photo was a Dramatic Reenactment, as I've since recovered from my injury and am no longer in need of a stylish and dignified bandage for my thumb.)

I'm fairly certain I saw a similar bandage on the Queen of England's thumb in a photo a few months back...

Oh, and the present I got for my birthday?  Rock Band 3 - with keytar.
(Hubby, while taking the above picture: "You're not really going to take a picture to post on the internet of you in your jammies, are you?"  Me: "Of course I am!"  Cinéma vérité - doesn't get any more dignified than that!  Okay, maybe I should've opted for some soft focus vaseline-on-the-lens....  Also?  That was my attempt to look both dignified and rock-n-roll! simultaneously.)

Now, I've been playing the piano since I was four years old.  Four years old.  That means that as of last Tuesday, when I hit my late thirties (okay, fine, my late-late thirties), I've been playing the piano for thirty-five years.  I can read music.  I can sightread music, even.  I was sure I'd have the keytar locked down, is what I'm saying.  Turns out? Not so much.  I was only slightly more accurate playing the keytar parts than my cat would be.  (Speaking of the cat........

.....she enjoys Cheesy Eddie's carrot birthday cake with cream cheese frosting as much as the rest of the family.  But I digress...)

So, I tried to maintain my dignity whilst playing my new Rock Band 3 keytar, but I may have slipped with a colorful phrase or twelve while failing repeatedly to play the dang notes.  That is neither here nor there, however.

For dinner, I chose to go to a local Japanese restaurant for some teppanyaki deliciousness.  

True, the restaurant now occupies a building that was formerly a Hooters, then a Cheerleaders USA establishment, but it has been completely redone and reeks of classiness and elegance.  They don't even serve any drinks inside giant Buddha statues, for Pete's sake.  Being a teppanyaki style restaurant, the chef comes out and cooks the food right in front of you.  This enables the patrons to take part in the preparation of the meal, mainly by means of catching rice balls in their mouths which are flung at them by the chef.

Now some people

may not look terribly dignified while doing this...

(see how Hubby is gloating?  He was the only one at our table to succeed in actually catching the rice ball, rather than getting plonked in the face with a rice ball.)

Whereas I?

Dignified all the way, baby.  Jackie O couldn't have done it better.

Once we got home from our dinner (we were the only diners in the teppanyaki section, what with the major snow event occurring outside ((that I preferred to think of as "Mother Nature throwing confetti in honor of my big day")) and all), Hubby and Kiddo presented me with my Cheesy Eddie's carrot birthday cake, politely lit with just 4 candles instead of ablaze with 39.  (We more senior types can be lacking in proper lung capacity to blow out such a blaze, after all.)

This is how you blow out birthday candles with dignity:

I hope that you have learned a little something about growing old with grace and aging with dignity.  You're welcome.

* I long ago decided that an event as momentous as my birthday couldn't truly be contained in just one day.  Hence, Heather's BirthWEEK.  I celebrate it as often and heartily as possible.  In the past seven days, I have had three birthday lunches, one birthday brunch, one birthday coffee and two birthday dinners (well, one was a combo birthday-Christmas dinner, but such is the lot of the mid-late December baby).  Also, my Facebook wall was flooded with birthday wishes, which I adored receiving.  Seriously, I felt all Sally Field - "You like me! Right now, you like me!"   It just added to the awesomeness of my day.  Then even more messages came in over the course of the rest of my birthweek, which I'd gladly stretch out right up until Christmas, but remaining dignified really doesn't permit me to do.  Until next year...  My sincerest, most heartfelt thanks to all my family and friends who helped me celebrate this year.  You're all fantabulous!!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Awesome List

December is the time of year when folks compile Top Ten lists and Years in Review and Most Fascinating People and the like.  Well, I have decided to do my very own such compilation, entitled The Awesome List.  I am breaking it down into subcategories, because it's my blog and that's how I want to do it.  Here goes......

People who are Awesome:

~ My friend J.  A few weeks ago, I mentioned to J that I love December for its mail.  Not just because December brings my birthday around which means the occasional birthday card, but mostly for the holiday card mail.  I love holiday cards.  Photos, letters, the whole nine yards.  LOVE them.  I do a happy dance at the mailbox when I open it to find those sorts of envelopes therein.  (Seriously, pop by my street around 5pm any given day of the week that there's postal service and you will see me out there at the curb, shaking my groove thang.  Assuming, that is, that said groove thang isn't frozen due to our lovely weather - record snowfall, anyone? - in which case the groove thang doesn't get shaken until it is ensconced, once again, indoors, in which case you'll have to peek through the front windows.)  Well, J came up with a Most Awesome Plan, unbeknownst to me at the time.  She filed away this little tidbit of info and when December 1st rolled around, a Christmas card showed up in the mail from J and her family.  It was one of the first cards we received this year, in fact.  Then, December 2nd brought another card from her.  And the 3rd, and the 4th.  A cryptic note on my Facebook wall on Sunday the 5th led me to trek out through the snow to the mailbox where indeed, another card from her was waiting.  She's that good - able to get mail delivered even on the day that the Post Office doesn't do it!  And so it has continued each day of December.  Each card comes with a note in rhyme inside, no less - variations on the Twelve Days of Christmas.  It. Is. AWESOME and so is she!

 ~ I am fortunate enough to regularly rub internet elbows with some very classy blogging type dames.  Two in particular that I'd like to bring to your attention at the moment are Margaret from Nanny Goats in Panties and Anna from Life Just Keeps Getting Weirder.  The reason I'd like to bring these fantabulous broads to your attention isn't because they're sidesplittingly hilarious (which they are) or because they're foxy as all get out (which, obviously - have you seen Anna's moustache?) but because these two are giving away animals on their blogs right now.  For real - they've each partnered with Oxfam America to give away livestock (in Margaret's case, a goat, naturally, and in Anna's case, a sheep) to people who need it most.  Since I'm not nearly as cool, hilarious or foxy as Margaret or Anna, I'm not doing any such giveaway myself here on my little corner o' the blogosphere, but please, please, please stop by their blogs and participate in their giveaways (linked above) and support an organization as awesome as Oxfam America.  Charitable giving, especially of the sheep or goat sort, is AWESOME.

~ Another blogopshere goddess I adore is Aunt Becky of Mommy Wants Vodka fame.  The reason I am listing Aunt Becky now isn't for her full-of-the-awesome MWV blog, but for another blog she founded and runs that is super-duper-full-of-the-awesome.  This blog is called Band Back Together, and in Aunt Becky's words,
"Sometimes, you’re alone in the dark. You stumble around, breaking things, smashing your legs and arms into furniture and walls and crying because just minutes before you could see perfectly dammit! But there you are, alone in the dark.

Soon, though, your eyes adjust, and you begin to see vague outlines. Shapes emerge in the darkness, looming up around you. Everything is closing in around you. The walls have teeth. The darkness is omnipresent and it is terrifying.

Just then, as you feel the darkness overtaking you, a light is flipped on and you are bathed in it. You can feel the light all around you and it is warm and it is good. Your skin warms as you feel the darkness slipping away, inch by inch. Yes, there will always be a piece of that darkness inside you. You cannot go through hell without absorbing some darkness.

But the light will sustain you and carry you through."
Band Back Together is a place to be that light, give that light, soak up that light.  It is open for anyone to share their story or to lend an ear, shoulder or words of support to someone else.  I strongly urge you to check it out, because it is AWESOME.

Food that is Awesome:

~ December is the time of year when Perry's Ice Cream puts out their limited edition flavor, Peppermint Stick.  Peppermint Stick ice cream, drizzled with a generous amount of chocolate syrup, is heaven in a bowl.  I've tried other peppermint ice creams and none can compare to Perry's.  I even have been known to pay full price for a carton of Perry's Peppermint Stick, and full price Perry's is ridonkulously expensive. That is how awesome it is.  (And the fact that, per their website, Perry's Ice Cream is supporting The Make-A-Wish® Season of Wishes™ campaign by donating a portion of the proceeds from each package sold of popular Limited Edition Peppermint Stick ice cream to fund a child’s wish just makes it that much more awesome and makes paying the ridonkulously pricey price a little easier to swallow.  Especially when drizzled with a generous amount of chocolate sauce....)

~ A month or two ago, a Boy Scout rang my doorbell with his popcorn sales materials in hand.  Now, I am a fool for popcorn and a sucker for kids, so I said I'd buy something and scanned the offerings.  Well, my eyebrows kept creeping higher and higher up my forehead as I perused the items for sale - I am used to the Girl Scout cookies at a (relatively) measly $3.50 a box, and MAN everything on the Boy Scouts' sheet was a LOT pricier!  I finally found the cheapest thing on there, ordered it and forked over the $10.  (Hey, don't judge - that'd be almost THREE boxes of Thin Mints, y'all.)  I then found myself the proud owner of one three pound bag of popcorn kernels.  I usually spend a dollar and change for a bag o' kernels.  This was more than three times that.

Now, I love popcorn.  I mean, love popcorn.  Popcorn is to snacks what December is to months for getting mail.  I bust out my air popper and make up a nice salty, buttery batch of freshly popped corn deliciousness several times a week.  So, I knew I'd use this popcorn eventually.  I will admit, though, that I was bitter.  Resentful of this popcorn.  "Gourmet popcorn?" I sneered to myself, the bag and to Hubby.  "How flipping gourmet can a bunch of corn kernels be, for Pete's sake?"  I refused to open up the new bag until I'd used up the bag I'd already had, and then the day came. Grudgingly, I got the bag out of the cabinet and opened it up, pouring the kernels into my popper.

I didn't want it to be good.  I wanted to be able to scoff at and mock the overpriced popcorn, even if it meant calling myself out for the sucker that I was for buying it in the first place.  I eyeballed my popper skeptically as it began to heat the kernels up.  They began to rise up through the chamber of the popper and tumble fragrantly out into the bowl.  They looked..... fluffy.  Large.  Fancy.  Still dubious, I buttered and salted the bowl as usual and took a bite.

It. Was.  AWESOME. Dagnabit.

Hubby asked me, a few days and bowls later, whether the fancy popcorn was in fact all that and a bag of chips (or whatever the hip-n-groovy youngsters are saying instead these days. The whippersnappers!  Also: Hubby did not actually use the phrase all that and a bag of chips.  That is merely my paraphrasing of his question.  Hubby would not want me putting such, ahem, hip-n-groovy words in his mouth).  I had to confess that YES, in fact this was the BEST popcorn I'd ever popped.

You can, therefore, imagine my great chagrin a few weeks later, when I wandered upstairs on a Saturday afternoon to take a little snooze while Hubby and Kiddo curled up on the couch to watch one of the Star Wars movies.  (Yes, Hubby has created a pint sized Star Wars buff in his own image - Kiddo loves Star Wars.  LOVES loves Star Wars.  Kiddo wants to be addressed only as Teebo the Ewok now.  The other day, she unironically quoted Yoda to me at the breakfast table.  But I digress...)  Well, I woke up a few hours later and came back downstairs to see the remnants of a popcorn snack in the sink.  Hubby passed through the kitchen moments later and broke the news: he and Kiddo had finished off the Boy Scout Popcorn.  That?  SO NOT AWESOME.  I was sad and resentful of my lot, stuck as I was now with the pitiful, lame, unfluffy, small, unfancy popcorn.  I figured I'd reacclimate eventually to my usual popcorn, but I didn't, not for weeks now.  

Fortunately, Kiddo's grandmother had the same exact situation at her house, as it turns out.  A neighborhood Boy Scout rang her bell and she, being an equal sucker for kids, bought the cheapest thing she could find on his sheet..... the popcorn kernels!  Better yet, Kiddo's grandparents don't eat popcorn!  They don't even own a popper!  So it was with great glee that I received their 3lb bag of awesome popcorn from them the other day and carried it home singing hosannas in four part harmony (no mean feat when there's just one of me, but I was that happy).  I was briefly tempted to parcel out the popcorn, to make it last, but I just can't do it.  No, I will enjoy bowlful after bowlful and then one day, a howl of misery shall ring out across the frozen, snowy tundra that is western, upstate New York for I will have finished off this second 3lb bag, too.

~ Cheesy Eddie's Carrot Cake.  Amazing morsels of delicious awesomeness that I hope to be cramming down my rapidly aging gullet come Tuesday, after blowing out enough candles to be visible from outer space.


Media Things That Are Awesome:

(I will confess in this section that I am in fact a day or three late and at least a dollar fifty short when it comes to the Latest and Greatest happenings on Ye Olde Interwebz.  Bear with me on that point, mmmkay?)

~ This one is in honor of my friend Andy, aka The Creative Junkie.  Andy shares a dream with me, you see.  No, not the Anderson Cooper covered in Nutella dream, that's hers alone as (a) I don't think Anderson plays for the correct team for this scenario and (b) I'm not really a Nutella fan.  No, she shares the dream with me of some day being involved in a flash mob.  She's blogged about it more than once, most recently right here.

Well, my dear Andy, this is for you: Improv Everywhere.  Check out their missions - the musical in the grocery store or at the mall food court.  The high fiving on the subway.  The dude who got "lost" at the Knicks game.  The Ghostbusters reenactment at the NY Public Library.  I have never wanted to live in NYC more than I do now, so that I could be an Agent in one of their missions.  A flash mob of one singing in the bulk foods aisle of Wegmans just doesn't have the same......... cachet.  Panache.  Verve.  Sense.

~ Speaking of flash mobs, didja see the one Mitchell participated in on Modern Family?  Because Modern Family is absolutely chock-full of AWESOME.  It is as hilarious as it is full of heart.  If you haven't watched Modern Family, or even if you have, take yourself over here to Hulu and watch the awesomeness.  Just make sure you have a comfy chair because you won't want to get up until you've watched every last minute of every episode! 

~ Since we can't spend our entire lives with our eyes glued to a screen, I'm also calling "AWESOME" on Pandora radio, specifically the holiday stations.  I made my own holiday station by plugging in my favorite artists and have thus been spared having to hear the utter dreck known as The Christmas Shoes or the insidious earworm of Feliz Navidad ever again.  Well, at least when my iPod is in range of the wifi.  It has made for a very happy aural holiday season this year.

Well, that concludes The Awesome List right now.  If I think of any more Things that are Awesome, I may do a Part Deux.  In the meantime, anyone care to chime in with something Awesome from your world?  How about holiday cards - love 'em, hate 'em, never send 'em, always send 'em?  Ever seen a flash mob live?  Ever been in one?