What I've Been Reading Instead of Cleaning My House

Monday, April 28, 2008

Butt seriously, folks...

So one day I'm out and about all day shopping and running errands and I finally get home, exhausted.

Nigel questions me, "What's that on your pants?"

"What do you mean? Where?" I ask.

"On your back pocket," answers Nigel.

Well, I must've gotten too close to the novelty singing stuffed animals at one of the stores because right there on my butt was a sticker that read:


Whoa on the W.O.W.

So I'm stinking at my W.O.W. diet.

I want meat! I need my protein! I'm starving to death! My kids are starving to death!

OK, so I'm using my children as an excuse. I stopped feeding them years ago. They hate EVERYTHING! These kids hate macaroni & cheese, spaghetti, peanut butter & jelly, chicken noodle soup, grilled cheese sandwiches -- all the kid favorites! They live off of popsicles and milk. I give up.

Nigel was doing really well, but I've thrown in the towel. I've started eating meat again.

I am still doing whole grains. It's great now that just about everything is available with whole grains (whole wheat means nothing, has to be whole grains) and my kids barely notice it. You can even get whole grain tortillas! We are getting tons more fiber in our diet and you really do get filled up a lot quicker with the whole grains.

I'm doing more fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy products. I'm considering frozen fruits and vegetables as "in season" since that's when they're picked and then flash frozen (plus they're a lot cheaper and last longer than fresh).

I did discover some things about those fake meat products. Soy sausage is nasty. It smells like sausage, but the texture is way off (too smooth). Veggie burgers are good and the "steak" strips and "chicken" strips are pretty tasty (Nigel even thought they were real meat, just super tender). The veggie "chicken" patties and veggie "BBQ ribs" taste EXACTLY like McDonald's Chicken McNuggets and McRib Sandwiches. Makes me wonder what's REALLY in their food!

So much for "run and not be weary and walk and not faint," but at least I'm trying.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Speaking of bacon...

So my coworker was mocking my "it's not real art unless there's bacon stapled to it" comment and she gave me a recipe from The Dallas Morning News for Bacon Chocolate-Chip Cookies with Maple-Cinnamon Glaze.

I showed her. I actually MADE them and brought them to work.

I know you're anxious to try these yourself, so here's the recipe:


3/4 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp hazelnut or 1/2 tsp almond extract (hazelnuts are of the devil and for some reason my almond extract bottle was empty -- what was I using almond extract in? I'm thinking Nigel's been drinking it -- so I just left this ingredient out)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white chocolate chips (white chocolate is totally nasty -- I think it's just powdered milk mixed with Crisco -- I omitted this and added more semisweet chocolate chips)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 lbs crumbled cooked bacon (yes, two pounds!!!)
1/2 lb cooked bacon strips

2 cups powdered sugar
1 TB maple extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 TB water (enough to make a thick glaze)

Beat butter, sugars, extracts and eggs until creamy. Sift dry ingredients together. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and stir. Should make a soft dough. Mix in chips and crumbled bacon. (This is the point where my kids, who were so excited I was actually making cookies, started freaking out. "Mom! What are you doing? Don't put bacon in it! Mom!!!") Stir. Wrap dough in waxed paper and refrigerate for one hour. (You know, so the bacon flavor can permeate every bit of dough)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pinch off 1 1/2 inch pieces of dough and roll into balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. (Because the bacon will give you PLENTY of grease) Flatten balls slightly. Bake for 10 minutes. (I actually baked mine for about 13 minutes) Cool. Whisk glaze ingredients together and spread on top of cookies and then top with cooked bacon strip pieces. (I decided not to waste any more delicious bacon on this recipe, so I just topped them with the glaze and ate the extra bacon for breakfast)

Frances (who is my adventurous eater -- she loves squid and can't wait to try escargot) wouldn't go near these cookies. Jeffrey and Alice-Grace ate one, but only one. Nigel said he couldn't taste the bacon, but they had a weird texture.

The consensus at work is that they "taste like breakfast."

Monday, April 21, 2008

In the "Doesn't That Defeat the Purpose" Department...

So I've been trying to do my part to save the planet by using those compact fluorescent light bulbs. Sure they cost more and I'm constantly stumbling in the dark during that lag time between flipping the switch and the light actually turning on, but think of all the energy and money I'm saving in the long run!

Maybe in a perfect world, but not mine.

Turns out that my city has stinky electricity (frequent surges, random power outages, etc.) so those bulbs that are supposed to last me 7 years only last about 7 months (if I'm lucky).

Did you realize that the 100 watt CFL bulbs are a lot bigger than the 60 watt ones? I had no idea and now they won't fit in my light fixtures.

They also won't work if you have dimmer switches.

Did you also realize that they contain mercury? So if you accidentally break one, you have to evacuate the room for 15 minutes, close up your ventilation system, clean everything up and put it in a sealed glass jar and then take it to a hazardous waste dump.*

Yeah, you can't just throw these things away. You have to take them to either a recycling center or call your local Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste (oh, good thing I have them on speed dial).

I wish I would've known that. I've been tossing these things in the garbage right and left! The only warning on the package reads "dispose of properly." I thought that meant in a regular trash can (as opposed to feeding them to your children).

That's right. You can blame me for global warming. I'm writing my apology letter to Al Gore right now. Sorry.

*according to www.epa.gov

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Quasimodo's Revenge

If you happened to have been on BYU campus on Friday around noon, you would've heard some strange tunes coming from the carillon (yes, the infamous bell tower).

My nephew, Six, has been taking a carillon class this past semester (because he just has to take every weird class that's offered) and this was his big performance. We all met at the base of the tower (where his mother, Lorna, tried to take a picture of him with her tape recorder -- she gets crazier by the minute).

Those of us who didn't know better followed Six up the 105 steps up to the top (yes, we counted -- and we were very surprised that Jorge with his gimpy leg could make it up all 105!).

Six's first song was very pretty, but sounds vaguely familiar. Babs asks him the title. Six replies, "Tetris Theme A."

What? The theme music to a video game? Six is so weird. How can he possibly top that? Oh, just you wait.

Then he plays a few classical carillon tunes (for those of you who are bell tower groupies) and surprises us with a few modern favorites ("If I Were a Rich Man" from "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Moon River" from "Breakfast at Tiffany's").

Then he says, "This is for my brother, Fred."

And proceeds to play "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath.

Oh, he's going to the Standards Office for that one.

And then just to make sure he gets kicked out of the university, he finishes up with a rousing rendition of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly.

I'm telling you, I'll never be satisfied with "Come, Come, Ye Saints" again.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Nigel's Art Show

Nigel will be having an art opening (check out the new paintings) this weekend:

Atelier 180
328 West 200 South
Salt Lake City UT 84101
(801) 897-6644

Opening Reception:
Friday, April 18th, 6:00-9:00 PM

If you can't make it to the opening, see the show (it'll be up from April 18th to May 15th) during regular business hours:

Tuesday-Friday, 11:00 AM-6:00 PM
Saturday, 12:00 Noon-5:00 PM

Beer Poop

The other day we were at a little girl's birthday party up on the bench (local talk for up on the side of the mountain) and she was warning us to not step in the "beer poop" in the backyard.

Beer poop? What's that? We had visions of intoxicated vagrants stumbling into the area and taking a dump on their lawn.

We later found out she was saying "deer poop."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I Say Seagull, You Say Segullah...

A few of my blogging friends write for “Segullah” and one has been approaching me about submitting an essay to it. Recently we had this conversation:

FRIEND: “You should see the actual “Segullah” magazine. It’s so pretty.”

LOIS: “I don’t do pretty.”

FRIEND: “No, I meant the artwork was pretty.”

LOIS: “That's not helping your case. I hate pretty art. Art should be ugly and disturbing. In my opinion, it’s not real art unless there’s a strip of bacon stapled to it.”

For those who don’t know (which I figure is EVERYONE), “Segullah” is a literary magazine and also a blog.

First of all, that name bothers me. “Segullah”? For the longest time I misread it and thought it was “Seagull.” Now that makes sense. The seagull is the state bird of Utah and they saved the pioneers when their crops were being eaten by locusts. Besides, we all know that seagulls are pretty much flying rats and what’s more fun than winged vermin?

But no, “Segullah” is a Hebrew word meaning “peculiar treasure.” I get the “peculiar” part, but “treasure”?

What's with the whole wannabe-Jewish thing that most LDS people have? Why is everything in Hebrew? Why does BYU hold a Passover Sedar? Why do we refer to non-members as gentiles?

Oh, did I mention that this magazine/blog’s core audience is Latter-day Saint Women?

Few words make me cringe in fear like “Latter-day Saint Women.” If something is geared towards Mormon women, it usually involves either:

A) Mostly plastic big-blond-haired women who wear too much make-up and complain about how their new SUV doesn’t match their stucco-clad McMansion while sitting around scrapbooking for their equally blond children

or even worse…

B) Self-loathing pseudo-intellectual feminists who pray to Heavenly Mother and gripe all day about how they think God hates them because they were born with ovaries.

Either way, I'm not interested. It’s not that I don’t like them, but rather that I don’t want to BE like them.

What happened to the strong LDS women that I looked up to when I was a girl? The frumpy, no-nonsense, slightly overweight ladies who went to DUP meetings and looked like they could’ve carried a covered wagon on their backs, let alone crossed the plains. These women were lucky if they could remember the names of their eight or nine children, let alone find the time to make scrapbooks for them; and they raised these children all in a two-bedroom house and still had enough energy to make a mean plate of lime Jello with shredded carrots in it. Where have these great women gone?

Maybe you don’t see their essays in “Segullah” because they’re too busy finding new and creative ways to store their 10-year supply of hard red wheat.

Or better yet, growing corn on the roof of their house.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Yet another reason why I'm going to hell...

Did I ever tell you about the time I helped someone steal a car?

When Nigel and I were first married, we lived in a cottage/shack that shared a small parking lot with the duplex next door.

One night during Christmas time, I heard a car pull into our lot and a bunch of guys laughing. I didn’t think anything of it until the next morning when their car was still there -- and it remained there for over a month!

The car was a total junker with a handwritten Canadian license plate and the sunroof open. Since it was winter, the car was soon filling up with snow and feral cats.

My neighbor and I were getting sick of this abandoned/stolen car hogging up our precious few parking spaces. My neighbor called the police, but they wouldn’t do anything because I guess they were "confused" by the homemade foreign plates.

My neighbor came up with a clever plan of moving the car to the curb so that the city would tow it (since there’s no parking on the street). We started pushing the car when my neighbor says, “Hey, let’s see if there’s anything in the trunk.”

Maybe he was hoping for a dead body or something.

He pops open the trunk and there are some backpacks in there. One is filled with clothes and the other is filled with books, including a journal.

“Hey, what are you doing with my car?”

Not words I wanted to hear while I'm reading some guy’s diary and my neighbor is trying on his clothes.

“What are you doing leaving it in our parking space?” answered my brave neighbor.

Then the man proceeded to tell us how he bought the car from some college kids about a month ago, but he just left it in our lot and never got around to moving it.

My neighbor then strikes a deal, “Since it’s been in our lot for so long, we get to keep everything in the trunk.”

The man agreed and we emptied out the trunk and then helped him push it across the street to his house.

Now this is where the red flags should’ve gone up because he agreed to that ridiculous deal AND he didn’t have keys to the car.

About four months later, I get a knock at my door from a timid, young college student who shyly asks, “Do you know what happened to my car? I left it here at Christmas.”

I happily reply, “Yeah, the guy you sold it to came and got it.”

“What do you mean? I never sold my car.”

Oh, crap!!!

It turns out that he was heading home for the holidays, his car broke down and he got a ride from his friends. Then while home, his mother got sick and he couldn’t return to school the next semester. Of course by this time, the car and the guy across the street were both gone.

I did give him his books back – but feigned ignorance on the clothing.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Nigel puts the "Rum" in "Rumspringa"

I was snooping through Baron Wheezy von Kopf-Kopf's (Nigel's new nickname since collapsing his lung in a coughing fit) images again and I came across this one.

Did I mention that he grew up in an Amish farm house surrounded by Mennonites in south central Pennsylvania? This may explain the beard and his inability to program the VCR.

Open the door! -- notice I didn't say Richard?*

Growing up, we NEVER locked our door. This would kind of weird out my friends who had multiple locks on their doors and alarm systems. We figured that there was always somebody home and no one would want to steal anything from our house (especially since my father refused to buy a car that was made after 1965 and we had an old toilet thrown out in the middle of our lawn/dirt).

Since moving to our condo, we ALWAYS keep our door locked -- especially if we're home -- and that's all because of Chase.

Chase was a little three-year-old boy who ran wild around the complex. His mother would give him a walkie-talkie and she would have the other one and that's how she kept track of where he was. Since all the apartments look the same, he got used to just walking into any old unit in hopes of finding his home (or better yet, someone who would feed him).

One day my neighbor was almost given a heart attack by Chase pushing back the curtain while she was showering and asking, "Can I have a sandwich?"

Sometimes you wouldn't know he was even in your home until you heard that familiar crackle of a radio and his mother asking, "Chase? Where are you?" I would then pick up the radio (since Chase always just dropped it upon entering someone's home) and answer, "He's in here with us. He's eating an apple." Never mind that his mother didn't know who "us" was, she was just excited that he had something to eat.

You see, we thought it strange that Chase was always hungry. We would ask him if he had any food at his house and he would answer, "No." We soon found out that they owned a health food restaurant and ate there breakfast, lunch and dinner, so felt no need to carry food in their own home (and what three-year-old likes to eat granola and hummus?).

One day, my kids wanted to dip their toes in the swimming pool. Chase was out with us and he wanted to tag along. I told him he could, but that we were only looking at the water. Of course, Chase jumped in -- fully clothed. Soon his mother ran out and saw the soaking wet boy and she was ANGRY! Turns out they were just leaving to get a family portrait taken. Glug!

Although Chase and his family have long since moved away, his legacy lives on. We still keep our door locked at all times and I do NOT take anyone else's kid to the pool.

*You have to be over age 70 to get this joke -- or a big Bugs Bunny fan.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

It's a Dog's Life...

When I was younger, we had a daycare center in our home (because my mother obviously didn't think that 9 kids and 5 foster kids were enough -- she had to have about 14 daycare kids, too).

One day I was changing a toddler's diaper on the bathroom floor when our dog came tearing into there as fast as she could, claws skidding all over the linoleum. This was quite odd because the dogs are NEVER allowed in the house and even if they did somehow get in, they never went beyond the kitchen.

Anyway, our dog went racing into the bathroom and straight for the dirty diaper! That stupid dog gobbled up this huge pooh in two bites!

Being only 10 or 11 at the time, I wasn't sure what to do. My first instinct was to grab the dog by its hind legs (it was a small Pekingese/Maltese mix) and start shaking it over the toilet yelling, "Let go! Let go!"

The grossness of what was happening suddenly hit me and I had to get out of there quick. I ran into my parents' bedroom where Rena was reading a book. She said that I was this sickly green color and couldn't speak. She put a new diaper on the child and scooted the dog out of the house.

And people wonder why I don't have a pet dog OR babysit.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Guest Post from Nigel

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What I Learned Fom Evel Knievel

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket In 1975, I was ten years old. Like a lot of boys my age, I was obsessed with Evel Knievel. So, on the occasion of his death, I'd like to write about the effect Evel Knievel had on my life. Yep, like all my friends, my heroes were Mike Schmidt, Batman, Steve Austin (the bionic man, NOT the wrestler.), but most of all Evel Knievel. Mind you, most of our dads were active members of the local volunteer fire company. Fighting fires is pretty manly/heroic stuff. But oddly enough, we didn't think of our dads as heroes. Hey, I was ten…

I bought the bubblegum trading cards. I bought the comic books. I coveted my friend's Evel Knievel lunchbox. I watched the crappy TV movie. I definitely watched all the live coverage of all the jumps. I owned a gold metal flake Schwinn with a banana seat and ape hanger handlebars, but in my imagination, it was a red, white, and blue Harley-Davidson. Most of all, I spent hundreds of hours playing Evel Knievel. Along the way, I chalked up three visits to the emergency room and five sets of stitches.

My friends and I spent a lot of time doing "spinouts". One at a time, we'd ride as fast as we could down the dirt lane between our houses. At the end of the lane, we'd slam on the brakes, and the tail end of the bike would swing around a.k.a. spin out. Ideally, there was a big cloud of dust, a long tire mark dredged in the dirt, and I'd end up facing 180 degrees from the direction I'd been riding. Often, the rear wheel would slide out from under my butt, and I'd end up lying on the ground bruised and/or bleeding. Once I knocked myself out. I was out for some time. My friends ran to tell Grandma I'd hurt myself. She had arthritic knees, so it took her a while to hobble over to the scene of the crash. I was still unconscious when she arrived. For years, she claimed I was "never quite right again" after that incident.

Obviously, we jumped things. One friend had some old wooden doors stored behind the shed. We propped them on some cinder blocks and we had a take-off ramp and a landing ramp. Over the course of a typical afternoon, we'd gradually increase the distance between the ramps. Between the ramps we'd place things like: bicycles, tricycles, pedal cars, cats, dogs, and siblings. By the way, this was an improvement. Previously, we'd used a single ramp made of a piece of plywood propped up on a stack of scrap lumber. The landings were jarring. Sometimes, if we weren't careful, we'd slam hard into the side of Johnny Bixler's chicken house. Once, we propped the ramp up really high. Johnny came off the ramp and got amazing altitude. He hung in the sky for a moment, like a cartoon character. Then, again like a cartoon character, he dropped straight down and landed in a heap. We never used that ramp again, because Jack Bixler threatened to beat the hell out of all of us if we did. In those days, another kid's parents could discipline you, and your own parents might've thanked them for helping out.

Evel Knievel taught me a lesson that every man must learn. Once, I decided to jump my bike down the long flight of stairs that led to the basement door of the volunteer fire company. It was a supremely stupid plan. There was nowhere to land properly. At the bottom was a four feet square slab of concrete and a locked door. I was charging towards the stairs when it occurred to me I might actually smash into the wall on the far side of the stairwell. I tried to stop, but it was too late. I took off from the top stair, flew down (yes flew, I never touched the steps) and landed firmly in front of the door. I had not destroyed the bike. I had not killed myself. I had learned that localized trauma to the groin really hurts. It really hurts a lot.

If I Had a Hammer...

I'm trying to convince my sister, Rena, to create a blog. She is too funny and has the most ridiculous things happen to her (OK, tragic for her, but HILARIOUS for me!).

Did I mention that she once sliced her foot open on the phone? The PHONE! How do you cut your foot on a telephone?

One year she decided to teach herself how to juggle. She was in her room juggling some beanbags and whenever she juggles she throws the objects too far ahead of her so she has to walk forward as she juggles. She walked as far as she could in her room, but was soon stopped by her bed. She kept leaning farther and farther over her bed until she finally made a graceful leap onto the bed to catch the beanbag.

Or, should I say it would've been graceful if she hadn't been nailing pictures up in her bedroom earlier that day and she left her hammer on the bed -- claw end up.

The hammer got her right in the chin. Lucky for her, she didn't get seriously hurt. Lucky for me, she did get an awesome scrape on her chin so that everyone asked her about it and she had to relay this story over and over again!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Here's your Pulitzer

One of the perks of my job (monitoring broadcast news) is that sometimes we get a direct feed from the network and we can see what goes on before the program starts, during the commercials, while they're breaking away for the weather report, etc. It's quite humorous at times.

One day, I got to see the brand new anchor just minutes away from air time quickly turn away and hurl into a trash can. I don't know if she was nervous or pregnant or sick. But like a trooper, they just redid her makeup and she went on with the show.

I also get to hear them go over their scripts, which elicited this fabulous tidbit this morning:

"Oh, it's Charlton Heston? I always thought his name was CHARLESTON Heston."

One program was heavily hyping the reunion of a popular band that would soon perform on the show. The co-host blurted out, "Ooh, maybe it's The Beatles!"

Yeah, the zombie version of The Beatles, I guess.

My favorite was when the anchorwoman was reporting on a new medical study and she said "Anals" of Neurology instead of Annals of Neurology. During the commercial break she had to redo it for the West Coast feed (alas, the poor West Coast never gets anything live). She must have repeated that newscast about 20 times before she got it right because the co-hosts kept making her laugh.

Anals of Neurology, is that when you've got your head up your butt?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Tennis, Anyone?

I was looking through Nigel's files (yes, I'm snoopy) and I came across this image. Why does he have a picture of a four-legged woman playing tennis? I have no idea. It does remind me of a story, though.

When I was in high school, my friends loved to play tennis. I hate tennis. I hate everything about tennis. The stupid white outfits, the low net (though high enough to trip over whenever you try to jump over it), the furry yellow balls that come in wannabe Pringles cans, everything. The only team sport I played was volleyball (and I even hated that -- I was only on the team because I hated regular P.E. classes even more).

Since I was only trained in volleyball, every time I play tennis I try to get "in front of the ball" instead of to the side of the ball. Hence, every time I play tennis I get hit in the chest with the ball. Let the hilarity ensue!

So I'm playing tennis one day with my friend T.N. and she's just smacking ball after ball at me. I'm retrieving the balls (after they bounce off my chest) and trying to serve them back; but of course, I'm so spastic that nothing is getting over the net.

After a while, T.N. ran out of balls to swing at me and I had only one ball left. One last chance to really smack T.N. in the face and get revenge. My anger coursed through my body as I threw the ball up in the air. I swung the racket as hard as I could, put all my strength into it.

Too bad my form wasn't better because I didn't straighten my arm out all the way. Instead of swinging the racket with all my force into the ball and finally giving T.N. her much deserved bloody nose, I swung the racket with all of my force right into the back of my head.

When I finally regained consciousness, T.N. was leaning over me laughing so hard I thought she was going to bust a gut.

I never played tennis again.

Hyper Bunny

Yeah, I think that I should be wearing the gas mask after cleaning up all that poop every day.

I forgot to mention that our bunny's name is "Hyper."

Alice-Grace (with her speech impediment) calls it "Hopper."

That works, too.

He's sleeping in his litter box right now. I just call it "Hasenpfeffer."*

*German rabbit soup

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow?

So about two weeks ago we got a pet bunny.

Our neighbors thought they had two boy rabbits, until some baby bunnies magically appeared. We agreed to take one of the cute poof balls off their hands.

We got a cage from Freecycle, some food, a litter box, a water bottle, etc. Then we picked up the rabbit -- a cute little black bunny (I can't do the white ones because I think their pink eyes are Satanic -- yes, Stillwell, now you know the REAL reason why your pet bunny died while you were at scout camp. I'm sorry, but it looked like Rosemary's Baby!!!).

All the books said that rabbits are very clean and will only poop in one place, so it's very easy to litter box train them. Just figure out where they like to poop and put the litter box there.

Well, we are going to need a HUGE litter box because this bunny poops EVERYWHERE! He poops in his bed, he poops in his food, he poops all around his water bottle. I even caught him squishing his butt up to the side of the grate so he could launch his poohs out of the cage and onto the carpet!!!

When Nigel was in the hospital with his collapsed lung, I kept bringing up that maybe the coughing fit was caused by an allergic reaction to our new rabbit -- but none of the doctors would go along with my hypothesis.

I'm convinced the animal has brain damage. Nigel says that it's just a rabbit.

I'm sorry, but this is hard for me. Aren't rabbits supposed to be food? It's like having a ham sandwich for a pet.

But the kids love it (and so does Nigel). Maybe it'll grow on me. I do like its big furry feet (I'm sure they'd look great on a key chain).