Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Dish: Part II

You might be starting to get my drift on the whole meal assembly scenario. If not, allow me to bring you up to speed: I have yet to be 100% sold, but have not yet gotten food poisoning.

Not exactly the miraculous life-changing experience these places keep promising, but I maintain high expectations upon which I am unwilling to compromise. Sorry Chicken Ball People.


Meal Assembly Place #2: Deeelish

I got talked into trying Deeelish after talking incredibly loud smack at work about Super Suppers within earshot of a Deeelish devotee. Such a fan, in fact, that she walked over to my desk with her 8-month pregnant tummy to tell me all about it and how much I would love it and how we should all go there and assemble dinners together after work one night because it will be so fun and good.

Oh, I have heard this story before.

But, I was convinced of the potential deliciousness by this discerning foodie (pregnant women know food) and since I see her as a fellow picky consumer, I was willing to trust. If only once more. She was also convincing enough to rope in my brainchild friend (who I love) from the first round to join us in further debunking the Meal Assembly Myth.

Myth being: This activity will make your life good and you won't have to eat
popcorn, gin, Taco Bell, nothing and delivery pizza for dinner during the week.

Again, my personal interpretation.

Let me begin by complimenting Deeelish on their decor. Not that Super Suppers wasn't nice inside, but it felt a little like I was making my meals at the grocery store rather than in a fancy kitchen or something. And because I am shallow, appearances mean a lot to me. Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos at either place because I was busy not falling behind on my assembly responsibilities (MUST NOT BE THE LAST ONE) so I can't show you what I mean, but the lighting was more like what you'd find in a nice restaurant at dinner time, they had a bar (can it be real? Are those cases of wine I see?) up front and just a more sophisticated atmosphere.

That was Bonus #1: Pretty. And the appearance of booze.

Plus, the dude who gave us the "This is how you do this" schpeal talked at a more relaxed and normal pace (read: was not hyperventilating and starting to sweat) while wearing his yellow (cuter) apron and making repeated gestures in the direction of the snacks we were about to enjoy.

The pre-throwdown "snacks" weren't much more plentiful or fabulous than before, but they did have a nice beverage set up at the bar where you could serve up fresh coffee, tea, water, soda, etc. I looked my eyes to the bone for a way to put wine from the aforementioned cases into any drinking container, but alas, it was stored away under the counter in such a manner that I'd have to cross that invisible "Employees Only" line that exists behind a bar and I wasn't ready to be *that guy* just yet.

I did learn from my previous experience and wear comfy shoes this time (Real comfy, not "Cute" comfy) so when Mr. Intro stepped aside, I was ready to dash to the first station with my list.

Oh, the list, this was Strike #1, or so I thought: No clipboard. Just a half sheet of paper with your meals on them.

This actually turned out to be more efficient than the clipboard method since I could slide the sheet into a perfectly sized pocket on my (not yellow - boo) apron instead of having to find a place for the clipboard while I assembled, but it did remove my one weapon in the case of encountering an Advancing Stranger while moving toward my next station.

Either way - I made it work. Phew.

Weird Bonus #2: They had good soap.

I have no idea if this is something that's consistent chain-wide, but at this location (Menlo Park, CA) they had this fabulous foaming and moisturizing soap that left your hands really soft rather than tight and scratchy like normal soap. This might be a dumb thing to call out, but I wash my hands a lot (hello, meat touching) while I chef, so not having to deal with alligator skin is a nice change.

And now I will reveal The Big Disappointment: Disorganization.


Remember the glory of Super Suppers' "dash" measurement spoon? And how the meal ingredients were all lined up in order of how the recipe instructed you add them to your containers? And how there was never a moment of hesitation as to what IN THE WORLD turmeric looked like in dried form and how to discern it from the one hundred other spices lining your station shelf because everything had a nice clear glorious label right on the container that didn't leak?

Yeah, no more.

A full buffet of confusion awaited me at my first assembly station where I attempted to futilely assemble Asian Chicken Salad from unrecognizable ingredients (so sorry I've never seen a stalk of lemon grass before, gah!) in unlabeled containers lined up randomly and utterly devoid of proper measurement tools.

That was actually the worst part - trying to fulfill a recipe which had the audacity to call for measurements like 1/8 of a teaspoon, 1/3 of a cup and a *gasp* dash, while only having at my disposal a 1 teaspoon and 1 cup measure.


And, ew, am I expected to REUSE the same teaspoon with fish sauce as I did with sesame oil? They clearly didn't know who they were dealing with. I was accustomed to individual EXACT measures that were immediately gathered and replaced with CLEAN measures so as not to disturb my zen-like assembly experience.

Oh, and excuse me, but where are my luxurious plastic gloves?

WHAT? There aren't any? HOLD ME BACK! Oh, you have latex ones? Ok, phew. Sorry. Yes, I'll put the cleaver down. My apologies.

Anyway, back to the horror that is a roomful of snake-eyed assembly monsters suddenly aware of the lack of proper measurement tools.

I think we all managed to make due, but it did take a bit of the shine off the rosiness of the experience. Specifically, I'd forgotten how much cuter the yellow aprons were and that they'd secretly stowed wine behind the bar. I was too blind with rage after having to fake 1/8 tsp of cumin from my unwashed teaspoon. Gag.

If this is starting to sound a bit prissy, I was still at the point of finding value in the fact that I was not messing up my own kitchen to make food of questionable deliciousness when suddenly faced with a pile of sticky measures, gooey workspace and no helpers with dishtowels in sight. So, the bright side of my own clean kitchen was starting to dim with every inaccurate measure I made.

So as not to rip Deeelish a total new one, since I do consider them the better of the two places so far, I will now unveil BIG BONUS #3: The Vacuum Sealing.

At Super Suppers I was vaguely impressed by the organized food stowage system: foil containers, matching lids, Ziploc bags. Let me say now officially: Lame.

Not only were all the meals vacuum sucked down to a fraction of their original size - I didn't have to do any of it. Just slammed the meals together, put them on my tray at the vacuum station (see, I was a celebrity here, too. Fancy.) and they vacuum them into wee packages and put them into my own basket in the fridge.

It is all very posh and easy. Plus, I managed to fit all 12 (6 full meals halved) meals onto one shelf in my freezer (I have a side-by-side fridge with the annoying narrow freezer) and barely had to throw out any of our prized frostbitten leftovers to do so. Squweet.

So I felt good about the final execution of my meals, seeing as they all fit easily into my Super Suppers insulated bag (I was the big traitor prancing around with my branded bag) and I wasn't worried about tomato sauce getting everywhere from my overfull lasagna.

But this is where I must address the waste issue. I do not like the fact that I have to compromise either convenience or sustainability to have a normal meal that doesn't try to kill me in the process. And these assembly places are rife with unsustainable practices.

You end up with either a bunch of foil containers/lids or a collection of useless plastic vacuum bags to throw away/attempt to recycle. Not great. The only benefit of Super Suppers is that a lot of their meals are contained within the reusable sphere of a Ziploc bag, but when I have to throw the inedible food inside the bag away, the fact I'm saving the bag itself ceases to be relevant.

And now that I've gone totally away from the topic of Food That Is Good, let me retrace my steps and summarize by saying that I've had 3 of the 6 meals I "built" at Deeelish, and while I haven't spit out any mouthfuls, I also haven't gone back for seconds. But Bubba has. And that's saying something. We have three more to go, so I can keep you posted on my food-spitting if that helps anyone make the decision.

I'll also provide a little happy ending flair by telling you that wine was made available during the post-meal building moments. However, my pinching migraine from Super Suppers made a reappearance so I was loathe to enjoy any of it. I did choke down a chocolate chip cookie, but they were warm and gooey and I knew I'd regret it if I didn't have one. And I would have because they were good.

If I am to keep to the same system as before (and I will because that is what anal retentive people do), here is my summation in Star Format:

Out of 5 stars
Atmosphere: 4
Cleanliness: 4
Organization: 2
Quality of Ingredients: 4 (I know what canned tomatoes look like, guys.) Yes, here, too.
Deeeliciousness: 4
Environmental Sensitivity: 1 (Reminder: This is important.)
Price: 3 (Double the price of Super Suppers)

This extra-wicked long post will be followed by a third review in the event that I venture out to another Make-it and Take-it (another cutesy franchise term) place.

If anyone's out there hatching spin-off plans, I could be coaxed with the following:
  • Environmental friendliness
  • 100% locally grown ingredients
  • Free-flowing booze
  • Cute aprons

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Dish

In my previous post I didn't mean to sounds all devious or secretive, but was really just wondering if other people are at all curious about these meal assembly places like I was when I was calling people names and teasing them for being spokeswhores.

And then I went to two different places and I'm itchy to open my big fat mouth about what was good and sucky from the two.

I love to make lists. I love to trashtalk. I love to eat/cook. This is just a very saucy trifecta, really.

So, let's dish.

Meal Assembly Place #1: Super Suppers

My brainchild friend (who I love very much) booked us for a group night so that we wouldn't have to hang out with strangers while we put food in bags. This is why I love this friend - she knows how we roll, and it is not with weirdos who might spend the whole time trying to talk to you about their boring personal issues or push you out of the way so they can make their enchiladas first.

When we showed up to the surprisingly cute and not trashy shop in the strip mall, we were immediately romanced by their uber-organized facade. Specifically, we got our own clipboards with our names and ordered meals right on them. It was kind of like seeing my name on the biggest gift under the tree. Wee! It's all for me!

My life is very small, what can I say.

We were then given the tour/introduction and directed toward drinks (non-alc) and a few appetizers. Strike 1 & 2. We needed wine and other/more food. Period. Plus, some more comfortable shoes, but it's not their fault that I chose to wear 4 inch wedges to a meal assembly party told to take 2+ hours. Der.

We got our aprons (fun) and hand washing on before heading haphazardly for our stations to start making up the meals.

Bonus #1: Which I didn't realize was a bonus until my next assembly adventure, was the plastic gloves thing. While minorly wasteful, we had an ample supply of plastic gloves to guard us from the yuckiness of raw meat touching and other goo cast-off. I wouldn't keep plastic gloves at home, due to the wastefulness aspect but I did appreciate that in an environment where I could be potentially touching a lot of sticky things for two hours that I wouldn't have to actually *touch* anything. Some chef I am with my big "Ew it's icky" fears, but whatever.

So with our gloves and aprons strapped on we go off to the stations to assemble our fabulous meals. I imagined this part to be all social and fun with some drinking, some putting of food into bags, some snacking on appetizers, but I was misguided.

The "Let's see which meals we're both making and do them together" party mentality was quickly replaced with the "There's not enough room for us to make meals at the same time so we should instead throw body blocks to get to our stations first lest we be left with six meals left when everyone else is done" mentality.

To say it was an awkwardly competitive and ugly moment among normally very close friends would be an understatement.

So, sucky thing #1: The thing is, that these stations are set up for ONE person to make ONE meal, so the whole "bring your friends and have a social hour" pitch they put on goes right out the window when people realize that there is no "I" in team and also no "party" in Meal Assembly.

And, frankly, the pitch for hosting a baby or bridal shower at one of these places is downright retarded. There's no way I'd get in a confined space with either pregnant women or stressed brides where they have access to giant scoops and vats of tomato sauce. Just, no. Plus, there's no food for them to eat, which we know makes brides and moms-to-be very uncomfortable.

As we retreated to our private stations to prepare our meals while carefully eyeing our newfound competition (ie: formerly close friends), big Bonus #2 became rapidly apparent. This is the bonus that, for me, put Super Suppers above the other place. Specifically - their menu and assembly instructions are not only clear and easy to understand, but they also correlate so precisely with the ingredients laid out before you that there is NO way you can fuck it up. Seriously, my sock could have made the meals - it was that easy.

Let me paint you a picture - you are at your workstation, you look to the left and see the menu instructions in a neat little plastic frame, the menu instructs you to add 1/2 cup of X, 1/4 tsp of Y, a dash of Z. You look at the items laid out before you, they are all lined up in the order outlined on the menu AND the exact measurement tool is right there in the container for you to use. There are clearly labeled signs for all ingredients. All tools are clearly laid out, easily accessible and clean. There is actually a measurement spoon labeled, "Dash", in the kosher salt. The world is perfect. There is ZERO confusion.

Hot friggen damn.

I won't lie, I fell in love a little bit.

But then I made the drastic mistake of assuming that, "Hey, it's my first meal assembly experience, they must all be like this."

Not the case. But you can be sure, at Super Suppers, this is the case. In fact, in was so much the case that I was willing to, initially, look beyond somewhat bland and, at times, inedible meals because, well, the setup was so damn convenient and organized.

I know, faulty thinking, but that's what an anal retentive nerd I am. Sometimes an efficient process beats a palatable outcome. Not forever, but at first, yes.

I'll get to the real test in a minute (the food, people, the food), but first let me comment briefly on Not As much of a Bonus as I thought #3: The cute cooking instructions are right there when you're finished putting food in bags. Ready for you to stick right on the packaging once you're done putting food in oven-safe containers with snug fitting foil lids or plastic bags or whatever. Everything was readily available, organized as all get out (seriously, love) and well-stocked.

Drastic mistake #2: Me thinking, "Wow, this is really efficient and organized. How cool. Big timesaver."

Compared to the other place though, this actually looked lame. But, I'll get to that.

After going through the whole process of sore feet, two hours of shotgun meal assemblage, a pinching migraine, no food, minor dehydration and zero quality time with the girls, I can say that while Super Suppers is HIGHLY organized (I briefly entertained the idea of running away with the franchise mastermind out of pure animal attraction), the food, on the whole, was not good.

Sorry, but it has to be said. There are no special measurement tools or efficient methods for arranging spices that can outweigh the fact that I after taking one bite of "Olive Chicken" I had to immediately spit it out into my napkin. And I *never* spit out food.

Nastiness of the highest order, folks. Really.

Now, all the meals weren't bad. For the record, we had the Coconut Chicken which Bubba is still romanticizing about to this very day, but out of the six full meals I prepared (conveniently halved into 12 doubles) there were only two which I found to be "good" (Coconut Chicken, BBQ Ribs, ), two which I found to be "mostly just bland and in need of massive spicing up" (Meaty Lasagna, BBQ Meatloaf) and two which were "totally inedible" (Beef Fajitas, Olive Chicken).

I won't get into the grody details (unless you want me to, in which case, comment accordingly so that we can strike up a special bond over food peculiarities, k?) but it has come to my attention that the acceptable meat textures and preparation methods of others run alarmingly contrary to my own.

To wit one ball of chicken or beef. These places do not believe in tenderizing their meats. The quality of the meat itself was, I'm sure, just fine since I didn't get ill or anything, but it was all BIG. Like, Ball o' Chicken breast big. Yucky. Chicken is not supposed to come ball-shaped and neither are strips of fajita beef. And since you pre-assemble everything (as the concept would suggest) you can't be slamming your tenderizer away on the chicken breasts after the fact. That would be messy and make matters worse.

Anyway, to sum up my Super Suppers experience in an organized fashion (which is what I've been wanting to do all along, really), I'll break it down to a few important (as deemed by me, of course) measures:

Out of 5 stars
Atmosphere: 3
Cleanliness: 5
Organization: 10 (Yes, I realize there are only 5 stars. Good thing this is my game then.)
Quality of Ingredients: 3 (I know what canned tomatoes look like, guys.)
Superness of Suppers: 2
Environmental Sensitivity: 2 (Reminder: This is important.)
Price: 5

Since this post is already wicked long, I'll put the dish on Deeelish in another post.

Teaser: Booze and latex

For shame.

Allow me to disgrace myself in all your baking/cooking/gourmeting eyeballs by telling you that I've been going to those group meal assembly type places and putting together dinners for Bubba and I.

Oh yes. I'm one of *those* people.

I finally gave in after a week of dinners that looked like; popcorn, gin, Taco Bell, nothing and delivery pizza. Actually, that was Monday through Friday, respectively.

I used to wonder about people who went to these places and regard them in not nice ways. Like, come on, is it SO hard to organize one meal per day (assuming the only meal you eat together is dinner, like us. Because, in my mind, everyone is just like us.)?

And then I'd do something as unsavory as borrow the much-hated, "Must be nice" mentality from our sourpuss neighbors and write *those people* off as some such rich spoiled bastards who can actually afford such luxuries as pre-minced ginger and fancy condiments like pomegranate extract (Who knew this existed? Tell me.) which you'd never buy at the store because, like, when am I going to use a whole bottle of it anyway.

But, that was when I had the wherewithal to put together a weekly dinner menu, corresponding shopping list, evenings free of work obligations and Dog Needing Walk and the energy to go to the store after work in my pinchy heels.

Let's just say that time is not so free flowing these days and people started to not smile when presented with the same dinner options every night; "I don't know", "Let's go out" or "I'm going to eat popcorn while I work from the couch."

Not that everyone wasn't understanding, he was, but I was starting to feel guilty about sustaining our household on booze and takeout alone.

Then a brainchild who I endlessly adore from work suggested that all we busy girls go to one of these put-it-together-yourself-from-recipes-that-you-don't-have-to-cook-up-in-your-own-fried-brain places so that we could rest our weary selves at the end of the day while not having to compromise the health of our households to do so.



It appears there's some variety in the way these places are organized and the edibility of food you finally end up with. The experiences I've had so far have begun to add a dose of reality to the shiny perfect Stepford-esque candy shells which these places portray.

And I'm prepared to make side-by-side comparisons.

Including all the not-as-great details because, well, I'm not being paid to be anyone's Meal Assembly Spokesbitch, so I can tell you exactly what I think. And I can use bad words. HA!

Interested? Or have I just wandered off into "Hello, we're so sophisticated and we always make gourmet, local, organic, wheat and gluten free meals for our adoring household despite our full-time jobs and long-held posts with Junior League" land?

Your call.

Monday, June 25, 2007

You may not know this about me, but I have a small obsession with 80's coming of age movies.

An obsession best illustrated by the behavior that occurs when I'm scrolling the guide and see, say, Dirty Dancing on TBS:

I immediately and simultaneously click SELECT and RECORD on the honkin cable remote, slide into prone position on the couch and scream, "Break off the knob!" to anyone within earshot. (Thus tipping everyone off to my 80's childhood when one actually had a TV with knobs). I then throw down the remote, declare the next two hours a wash and proceed to reminisce my way through the motion picture moments as though I'm 11/15/9 again without a care in the world aside from my bra size and current aching boy crushes.

It's all very becoming, I assure you.

The best part is that Bubba, the kind pitying soul that he is, allows me these moments of teenhood reflection without incident. Meaning, he doesn't try to change the channel back to Maximum Exposure (lovely show - BTW) or offer some sort of unwelcome channel choosing advice, he just lets me sit right there on the couch and stew in my recalled teenage angst.

Perhaps he thought, back in the day when it first happened, that it was only Dirty Dancing that warranted this particular behavior and that he might just let it pass as a cute girlfriend quirk. Much like my need to restack the coasters and fluff the couch pillows before we go to bed - not a deal-breaker, just low-grade neurotic habits.


It's developed into, what I can only assume, is a wife-sized warning beacon of lurking emotional issues better dealt with through micro popcorn and cable movie watching than in-depth conversation or a dicey intervention.

He is such a nice man.

And so, I try to limit these outbursts to obvious 80s gems: Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Say Anything, Dirty Dancing, Footloose, Ferris Bueller's Day Off .

But sometimes the not-as-obvious choices surface and I just have to see: Back to the Future, Pump up the Volume,or Earth Girls are Easy.

And at rare moments, I'll come across a not-from-the-80s-but-still-warrants-a-remote-throwdown flick, like any of the Father of the Bride movies, Pretty Woman or High Fidelity.

I've said all that so that I can say this:

I had a total High Fidelity moment on Saturday.

Well, it was more like a High Fidelity hour and twenty minutes - but you know.

After coming home from a month's worth of runs complaining about the dry toast on my iPod, Bubba took it upon himself to sit down with his bulging iTunes collection and make me a modern-day mixtape of carefully chosen songs. Then he loaded them onto the iPod, charged it up and sent me off with 3+ hours of rockin, hysterical and just plain good music to get me through my mileage.


This may make me seem like a gooey awkward teenager in a grown-up shell, but it was rad. Really, it felt rad. I half wanted to crimp my hair and layer two pairs of socks to match my outfit after an experience like that.

I swear I spent a good portion of my hour+ replaying the final moments of High Fidelity when John Cusak puts on his big 80s headphones (yes, I know this movie was made in 2000) and tells the camera he knows what relationships are all about and he's going to make the best mixtape of his life for Laura. *Tear*Smile*Heartache* WOO!

Really, the best ever.

I wasn't sure how I'd return the favor since I didn't know how to recapture the joy and bliss of Red Dawn or Raising Arizona in quite the same way (nor did I want to spend more time with Red Dawn than necessary). But I do know how to make a mean lemon poppyseed cake, and I figure that's better than fleeing into the mountains and bringing a 'critter' into the world anyway.

So, I baked and reveled in the joy of my fancy made-just-for-me mixtape which I'm sure Bubba made while wearing big headphones, sitting in a cheesy leather chair and brooding in that typical tortured and misunderstood John Cusak way.

Thexy. And Rad.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Finny Training Schedule - it's very technical.

So I have this 1/2 marathon coming up, which I obviously have to train for, but I can't choose a training schedule since all the ones I've come across are really high maintenance and require math.

And we know I'm not doing any math. Running is hard enough.

Active and Runnersworld and all those authoritative-type running sites keep saying words like "tempo" and "speedwork" and "HMP" and I've finally come to the conclusion that they're making it too hard. Or, I'm just not hardcore enough to appreciate the intricate benefits of "carbo-loading".

And also, I don't know how far 400 or 600 or 800 yards is when I'm out at 6am in my stretchy pants. If these schedules could be more specific by using landmarks - like, say, from my house to Starbucks - that'd be much more convenient.

Then there's the whole "hill workout" business, which I just don't get. Does anyone have a hill by their house that they know is exactly 600 yards long and is followed by a "flat and fast" 400 yard track? Because I sure don't. And I'm not going out to any of the hills in my area with one of those walking/rolling/chalking mechanisms to pace one out either. Just forget it.

I just have to be realistic about this training thing. I know that even when the training schedule says,

" 20-minute jog. 8 x 400 (at pace specified) with a two-minute recovery jog in between each. Cool down with a 10-minute jog."

,that I'm just going to go out and run whatever distance that works out to be, at one steady (read: fairly slow) pace and then come home and do some abs in the backyard.

I'm not going to look at my watch every five seconds to see when I've hit the 20 minute mark and then try to do eight 400s at some pre-calculated pace while eyeballing my watch to make sure I'm doing exactly two minutes of recovery jogging in between. Not to mention the fact that I doubt I'd be able to keep track of how many of the 400s I'd done. I'm sure I'd lose count around sprint #3 and then end up doing, like four, when I'd get annoyed with the whole process and just go home and throw the ball with the dog.

Plus, I barely know how to use my watch. I would probably F up the buttons somehow and end up restarting the timer to zero thus negating the intricate workout anyway. I thought I bought a fairly basic watch, but it baffles me so regularly with it's flashing lights and tiny beeps and hundreds (four) of buttons that I'm sure there's a way to push the buttons together in a certain sequence to open wormhole to a parallel universe.

What I do understand is long runs. I know that there's supposed to be one long run per week, preferably followed by a day of rest and then some other shorter runs in between. And when you're tired, you should rest and if you're injured (say, with enormous crippling blisters on both feet) you should definitely not run in the rain through puddles no matter how good you feel otherwise.

What I also understand is this: on October 14, 2007 I will run 13.2 miles.

Whether this happens in 2 hours or half a day is of little interest to me, as long as I'm running. That's my only stipulation. I don't want to walk. I want to run the whole thing. Ok, so I might want to walk while drinking some water or trying to man down some Gu, but otherwise, I'm running this bitch.

So, that means that somehow, between now and then, I need to figure out a way to make my body run for 13.2 miles without falling completely apart.

And, I am pretty sure I can do it.

Last weekend I ran seven miles and my big concern was how I could get some new tunes on my iPod before next weekend so that I wouldn't have to keep clicking past The Fray because it is just too slow.

I wasn't in pain. I wasn't dreading looking at my watch to see how long I'd been running and HOW MUCH FARTHER do I have to go. No, I was trotting along (This is my official pace and I don't know how it compares to my HMP so don't ask), taking in the new scenery afforded to me by my newly elongated route, sorting out the week's bullshit and every so often checking in on my parts to see how everyone was faring.

Feet? Are you feeling blistery anywhere? No? Perf.

Legs? Are you feeling tired? Tingly in alarming places? Tight? No? Greeeeeeeeeeeat.

Fingers? Are you feeling hotdog-ish? Yes? Well, that's what happens.

About every mile or so we go through this convo. And, if we can get through it successfully for seven miles then I bet we can do so for 13.2.

So, after all that, I've decided that my training schedule will go as follows:

During the week, do runs of three or four miles at a time and only increase mileage on Saturday, Long Run Day. Like, for instance, I'll prolly run seven miles again this Saturday, just for consistencies sake, and then try to go for eight after that for a couple weeks. Then I'll up it a mile every couple weeks 'till I'm running for a couple hours on Saturdays and covering 13+ miles at a time.

I'm just worried I'm making this too simple and somehow I'm glossing over a crucial piece of training knowledge that would keep me from otherwise wounding myself for life.

Although Donk did tell me about the Gu + water thing (drink water when eating Gu so that kidneys don't shrivel) so I like to think I'm set. But if you see some glaring error in my tactics (comments on my stretchy pants are not welcome) please speak up before I land myself on a stretcher.

Meanwhile, I take solace in the fact that I have $1 in quarters taped to my iPod (so high-tech) in case I need to limp into a 7-Eleven and call Bubba to rescue me from blisters, exhaustion or unforeseen disaster.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

InStitches: June

Allow me to share with you one of my fancier quirks: The inability to do anything anything without a vision.

Not like a psychic vision, but a mental vision. As in, I need to be able to see whatever it is (running a race, shaving the cat, climbing a rock, peeling my lazy butt off the couch) in my mind before I can get started on step 1.

Good because: I don't go off half-cocked and waste a bunch of time doing stupid things (most of the time) that come out crappy and have to be thrown out/returned/apologized for.

Bad because: Sometimes there's no time for a vision and one must proceed forward unguided by pictures in one's head.

And this is where I get into trouble. Any shopping trip of mine that starts out without a clear vision inevitably turns into a day sucker where I wander from store to store, not looking for anything in particular, but spending endless moments asking myself if I need another purse or perhaps a hat - yes a hat! - for those sunny days in the garden, and oh couldn't I use a new pair of gardening gloves or what about some more tank tops to replace the ones I've destroyed with my lady sweating, oh and what about these jeans I could use some new jeans because my favorite ones are developing a hole in the hip so what about a...

You see what happens? My mind unravels.

So - I have to have The Vision to keep it all raveled up and working in a straight line.

Last Sunday was an example of me shopping without a vision.

And this is photo of what happens when my mind unravels, I lose focus, forget what I like and don't like, can't listen to one more minute of the Fabric Frau bitching at the register, make compromises and eventually give up just so I don't have to listen to another Doo-Wop song on the scratchy overhead sound system:

Allow me to identify the pieces of this photo that resulted directly from the personal crime known as Shopping Without a Vision.

Floral Fabric: I am really not a floral fabric person. At least not florals that come in pastelly colors with tiny hand painted looking flower buds and leaves in that paley green that reminds me of my mom's spare comforter in the hall closet. This napkin fabric is an exact replica of my mind's example of unFinny floral fabric. Yet, here it is on my table, folded up as part of this project.


Because I shopped without a vision, that's why. And by the time I'd finally chosen a fabric (the butterflies) that I liked, this was the only other fabric that would also match the striped fabric that I chose during a separate moment of bad judgement.

My justification for the floral print, and the overall scheme here, was my imagination hearkening back images of vintage whimsy from a recent shopping trip to Anthropologie, where, thanks to the supervision provided by my dear mum, I managed to buy a dress which was at once unFinny and totallyFinny - thus creating this erroneous idea in my mind that I had the ability to stray from my typical style into areas of blended patterns that include florals.


I'm not to be trusted when the job calls for matching up more than two fabrics. I get all attached to one fabric and then spend a ridiculous amount of time listlessly staring at novelty patterns after I realize that there isn't a single other fabric in the store that will achieve the Project Nirvana that I'm seeking so why not just give up, throw down everything and lose ourselves in Strawberry Shortcake nostalgia.

Striped Fabric: This is me giving up and going for the easy match. I don't like pink, so this is an obvious manifestation of me throwing in the towel and deciding that I'd rather have the fun hand-stamped looking butterflies and the boring pink stripes than no butterflies at all.

At the time I was also caught thinking, "Maybe there's a way I can maximize the amount of green that shows and minimize the pink".

Again, wrong. As you can see here - the pink is out there for all to behold.

Finally, The Butterflies: I won't lie here and tell you that they caught my eye the second I walked into the store. No, they were second choice after a long bout of hemming and hawing over some legitimately appealing Far East-type fabric which proved to be of a rust color that was impossible to match. You'll remember this "Color not found in nature" issue from the Surprise Cowboys incident. It seems to be a common theme with me and the fabric store. I manage to find the one pattern that speaks to me on a spiritual level and then am unable to find a single other fabric on the face of the earth (in the store) that can get within a mile of the Fabric of My Dreams without activating my gag reflex.

This may be a problem that even The Vision cannot solve.

Anyway, I'll sum the whole situation up and say this: the pattern itself was just fine - easy and straightforward with excellent results. And, really, the combination of stripes, florals and butterfly patterns isn't atrocious - in fact, it's kinda pretty - but it's not me.

However, it is perfect for the Mahjong Mistress of Sonoma County who happens to be celebrating an 84th birthday next month and who might enjoy some new linens for her weekly rounds with the tiles. That Mistress is my grandmother, who I affectionately call Fluffy, and I think these might go nicely on her table as she kicks the other ladies' butts at Mahjong.

Meanwhile, I'm still fantasizing about the FarEast fabric I originally picked up and am now determined to make myself a set of linens with it and some other mythical fabric that I'm certain exists somewhere.

And, in a moment of irony and actualization, I folded up the (large) remnant of the floral fabric only to find that the fabric's name was printed along the raw edge: Granny Floral.


Monday, June 18, 2007


Obviously I can't just abandon the Book Club if everyone loves it so much. Because that would mean I was popular and that people loved me and are paying attention to me and that is what I really want out of life. Just ask my mom.

So, let's call off the dogs and say that I was kidding about 'Book Club' being cancelled.

Ha ha?

Let's just say that, instead, Book Club is going to get a Finny make-over. And, so you know, I'm a less is more kind of girl.

So, Book Club will now have less structure (no due dates or polls), less flash (no running sidebar listing all the books on the shelf) and less 'club'. What I'm hoping is that this will mean more books. And that would be a lovely far cry from what I have going on right now which more resembles the less part of the equation.

What that will also mean is that book posts will be surprise occurrences (no due dates, member?), so, if you don't like having your endings spoiled by my haphazard ranting, you'll have to quietly look away on those days when I decide to pull my shit together and review a book. At least you'll be saved by the fact that it probably won't be a super frequent occurrence.

And if anyone gets all biggigity and *must* read my spotty, incoherent and otherwise mostly unhelpful book ramblings, the good old Finny Reads label is there for all to click.

So - in sum - Book Club is being MADE OVER, not cancelled.

Fear not, though, concerned fellow bookworms - Finny will not take the "un club-ness" to heart and turn into a gelatinous glob from staring slack-jawed at TV fishermen and their hot-in-a-looks-like-Bubba-in-10-years-way announcer while shoveling in armloads of popcorn. But if the globbiness is a result of added bookworminess, well, we can talk about revising the old cleanliness/godliness saying to reflect our new found knowledge.

See, I'm mildly incoherent and I am not even reviewing a book. Yeesh.

Anyway - disaster averted. Thanks for chiming in with your personal feelings about how much the untimely cancellation of Book Club would suck. If nothing else, it feeds my bottomless need for recognition and makes me feel like less of a book nerd.

Read on my friends, and we'll chat on a future un-defined date about a book I chose at random (Khalid's newest nugget) which I am sure I'll bang on about aimlessly without coming to an intelligible point.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

FINAL: [BOOK CLUB] The Stolen Child, by Keith Donohue

I won't lie, I'm not finished reading this book.

But it is altogether possible that I'll never finish it. Not because it's bad, but because I'm bored and not all that driven to find out what becomes of our little hobgoblin or his clan.

See, the story goes something like this: There are hobgoblins that kidnap children and switch places with them - creating families with a secret hobgoblin child and leaving a hobgoblin clan made up of former children that magically become hobgoblins. Just as the children morph into hobgoblins, so doth the hobgoblin into a real child. Meanwhile the changing is going on, there are bouts of forgetting about hobgoblin-ness and the existence of a secret population of fellow hobgobliners.

Aren't you kind of bored of the premise just from reading the word "hobgoblin" a hundred times just then?

Do it a hundred times more and you might be where I am now.

Don't get me wrong, the premise of secret kidnapping and switching and living amongst mysterious creatures in a hidden society does appeal to me on a "when I was 7 and had a wild imagination" level - but the book itself is not making me care all that much about the main character(s) enough to want to drag my eyes over it night in and night out when I could just as easily be staring down the newest episode of Deadliest Catch.

I realize that makes me a sad example of a bookworm, when I'm being seduced by the blue flicker of the tele, but in the special cases where a book sucks me in, TV is no match for the printed word. But, this is not one of those cases.

Granted, I'm not finished reading yet, so there could be some unexpected turn of events that draws me in to the point where the words "Opilio crab" bounce unnoticed off my noggin, but I'm not feeling it right now. In fact, I think I can kinda see where this is going and am sorta writing out the end of the book in my mind as I read along. This is really confusing when the facts don't match up perfectly because I'm always sure I'm right.

I do realize this is no way to enjoy a book.

Speaking of enjoying a book - I need to get back to this practice. And, as it turns out, having a blogging book club of sorts doesn't seem to lend itself well (at least in my case) to such a thing.

And, I suck at writing book reviews worthy of your eyeballs. It's ok, I've come to terms with it. There are a few factors that contribute to this lack of inspired writing. Not the least of which being the fact that I usually finish the book long before I ever post on it, so I just forget what it was that drew me in (or had me rolling my eyes) so that I can accurately report on it to y'all.

My experience with a magic eye poster in 1989
, I can remember in graphic detail, but a book I read a month ago is a total haze.

So, with this in mind, I'll be going on with my normal reading schedule, and if by some miracle a book actually sinks in, I'll post on it. No schedule, no voting, no tedious post where I try to remember what the title was and what inspired me to read it in the first place.

That way, if I get lured into the TV by Mike Rowe's face, and just start using my book as a resting place for my sweating palms, then so be it. And, just so you know, Mike Rowe is my TV boyfriend.

Don't worry, Bubba knows. And, as I've noticed, Bubba and Mike actually share some similar characteristics. Creepy.

Leave it to me, Queen of Efficiency, to have a TV crush on someone who looks like husband.

Anyway, that's the story of Book Club, ie. There is no Book Club. Like Fight Club without the dingy garages and open wounds. I will tell you, though, that I'm going to run out and get the new Khalid book because I loved Kite Runner long time and have heard good things about this latest book. I may not post on it, but I'll read it and probably love it, and probably just TiVo Mike and Sig and my other favorite fishermen so that I can watch them later with appropriate attention (drooling).

Sometimes I lie.

"Congratulations! I thought you might be pregnant - you have that glow!"

That, my friends, is an example of me lying. In fact, that is a lie I've said recently and frequently since about one hundred of my friends are at various stages of pregnancy and more are announcing it everyday.

And, of course, you have to say something nice (because shrieking for fear of what's going to happen to their hoo-hoos is frowned upon) and that is the only thing I can think of.

I'll just come right out and say it, I have never seen "the glow" on anyone. Don't get me wrong, I'm impressed when I know someone is pregnant and has been throwing up all morning and doesn't look how I'd expect a perpetual barfer to look, but there's no "glow" about it. Just a general lack of jaundiced skin, bags under eyes and barf crust in the corners of their mouths. But no "glow".

So, what is the story with this "glow" thing anyway? I was enduring a baby shower last weekend surrounded by women who were all five to six weeks on either side of baby-having. Some were full of baby, some were holding baby - all that mattered was that some of them *should* have been glowing and I wasn't seeing it.

But everyone else was.

Is this a common lie I should understand? Is this like telling someone they look really great when you know they've been working out/dieting/lying about working out or dieting because you want to them to feel good and not dive headfirst into the M&Ms?

Or is this something that everyone else EXCEPT ME can see? Like those friggen magic eye posters at the mall that everyone is ogling and awgoling over while saying irritating things like, "Oh my word, hunnie buns, look at the dragon poking it's nostril out of the porthole of that ship in a bottle!"

And then I try to squint and focus on it while I walk by *pretending* that I'm not looking because I don't want to be *that guy* at the mall paying attention to something that is clearly so retarded, but I want to see the damn dragon so badly if only to prove that I, myself, am not the retarded one who can't see the dragon so I end up ramming some pregnant woman pushing a stroller because I'm staring so intently at the friggen poster that I have stopped paying attention to the flow of traffic and I become a different *that guy* who I'm just as ashamed of.

Needless to say that if the pregnant woman had "that glow" I probably would be snapped out of my magic eye tunnel vision by her big fancy glow long before slamming into her and inevitably drawing the attention of every person within a five store radius to my obvious retardation.


Unfortunately my strict policy against mall-going has only helped me avoid the awkward magic eye poster moments but has done nothing for my ability to see "the glow".

Now I'm faced daily with newly sprouting pregnancies and no way to properly validate them without lying outright. I suppose I could just say, 'Congratulations', and leave it at that, but mention of "the glow" always springs from someones inspired lips and I feel obligated to chime in with my agreement.

"Oh yes, pregnancy really agrees with you!"

This is my other favorite comment. It's not an out and out lie, but it's definitely a comment derived from circumstantial evidence. I mean, considering that if I were in that situation I imagine I would be having one significant breakdown after another and be totally incapable of composing myself for the workplace, the fact that these incredible creatures are looking normal, dressing cute (I have complimented many of my friends on their cute new clothes only to find out they're maternity wear) and showing up for full days of work is nothing short of a miracle.

To make myself feel better, I will likely go on categorizing these comments as, "Things I say when I'm trying to be nice." instead of "Lies I tell when I have no idea what someone is going through."

Meanwhile, if anyone can point out this "glow" and provide some identifying traits - I'd be oh so grateful. Extricating one lie from my repertoire would be a start.

Then we can get to big fat lies like, "Wow! You're turning 40? I'd have guessed you were 30!" and "Your dog is so cute - you don't even notice the bald spot on his hiney!"

I'm realizing now that I should have prefaced this post with, "I'm also not nice."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

So sly

I have heard that, after a while, dogs and their owners start to look alike. Well, this is a case of dogs and owners starting to act alike.

Because, while Jada pranced proudly through her final session of her second string of obedience classes without missing a beat (or eating anyone elses meatball), her performance wasn't exactly the same as we see it at home.

I think she learned this "put on a good show at the office" behavior from yours truly. Because, as it turns out, you get hassled a lot less if you just do what you're s'posed to do when you're s'posed to do it and then go home and gripe about it while going back to your usual ways than if you come into work bitching about how that last squirrel just got away while giving your boss the finger.

Or something like that.

But, for the record, she did do everything she was s'posed to do, including showing off her fancy new tricks for the trainer, and we were very proud. Plus, she got a fancy certificate and we got to eat real potato chips (the trainer brought treats for the people - I love this), so everyone went home happy.

Now we're back at work and not flipping anyone off, which is frankly exhausting.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Check's in the mail

I'd like to say it was my carefully crafted threats of sandwich board punishment that coerced the handyman company into my way of thinking, but alas, they were just as horrified as I was.


So, apparently, they don't send out exhausted, grumpy, enormous men with pointy tools to maim helpless screen doors on purpose.

Who knew?

Either way, they're sending me my check back with a formal letter of apology. No sandwich board parade in the street, but I think we'll all manage without it. It'll be enough to look back a year after the door goes up and only have a vague memory of the giant pain in the ass this has been.

I imagine we'll be sitting in the living room on a rather hot day enjoying the magic that is a fully functional screen door when Bubba will turn to me and say, "Maybe we should put a screen door on the back door and really get the breeze movin' in this shack."

And then I will say, "NO"

Ok, too soon.

So maybe like how we now look back on the kitchen remodel and are able to laugh about the month we spent doing the work ourselves because we thought our contractor had vanished into thin air only to find out he'd been in the clink.

Oh, ha ha HA.

So we hold a grudge a little longer than normal people.

We are finally starting to relax our scalding hatred for the former neighbors who parked their NINE HUNDRED cars in front of our house ALL THE TIME EVEN THOUGH WE ASKED THEM NICELY TO KNOCK IT OFF. I mean, we barely ever speak of towing a flaming dumpster of cow shit into their driveway under the cover of darkness anymore.

See? Growth.

Speaking of growth:

Monday, June 11, 2007

So, you have a 1 year warranty, do you?

Let me say this first, the door is up.


In the sense that the hinges are attached to the door and the door can be hung from hand-hewn mortises courtesy of Bubba himself. At this very moment, however, the door is propped every so gently against our office wall awaiting one expert cut along it's bottom edge (to be performed under supervision by the very talented technicians at the lumber yard) and a lovely coat of shiny black paint.

But for all intents and purposes the door is "up" and that is no small feat.

It was a feat that literally took a village. A village of our neighbors congregating on our porch making sounds like, "Huhm..." and "From this angle it looks like..." and "What if you...". Thankfully these neighbors of ours are seasoned veterans when it comes to DIY and dealing with the aftermath of crappy "handymen". Since we all live in 100+ year old homes, there is a certain level of DIY-ness that comes with the territory, and let me just say THANK GOD.

It is thanks to our lovely neighbors that we:
  1. Have a screen door that is level and will swing quietly shut once it's permanently hung
  2. Are still speaking to one another
  3. Didn't go off our collective nut and slice the door in half trying to get it *just right*
They provided just the right combination of advice, absence (sometimes leaving someone alone on their porch to swear to themselves is the right thing to do), sympathy and beer to keep us going on the project so that we could go to bed last night at least knowing that Part 1 of the door nightmare was over.

Part 2 - Parts 100 will require additional services, and beer, to be sure.

Today's fun project was calling the "handyman" company to advise them of the unhandy nature of their men. Our one particular man anyway. Reminding them of their "1 year warranty on all services" seemed to get them moving in the right direction. And you know I didn't even hesitate when they asked me how I'd "like to resolve the situation."

Um, gimme my money back and remove me from your mailing list.

They are supposed to call me back this afternoon with their final answer, but if it's anything other than, "Yes ma'am, we're ripping up your check at this very moment *shred* and will be publicly apologizing to you and your husband and your neighbors personally as we walk nude through your neighborhood wearing sandwich boards which read 'We are not handy men and our wieners are very small.", then I will repeat my wishes and await the appropriate response.

Woe be the service person who does not respect my authorit-I.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Oh help me, Rhonda.

I'm not even sure I'm ready to talk about this yet, since my annoyance is still extra fresh, but perhaps you peeps know what I'm talking about and can offer a "Been there, Finny - he's an ass." or an "Oh yeah? Wait till I tell you what happened when we did our bathroom!" story to make me feel like less of a retard.

Story goes, Bubba buys us a very pretty screen door custom built to mimic the lines of our craftsman style front door. It arrives and it is very nice. He primes it and babies it and buffs it and makes me wish for a second that I am the screen door.

Then I call a "handyman" to come install it. He arrives (two hours late) and proceeds to be a complete ass until I finally cut him off at the five (FIVE!) hour mark and ask him to leave.

Yessir, please leave. So that I can cuddle the remains of my beautiful door which now has a screw broken off in one of it's pilot holes and scuffs all over the formerly bright white primer. Please leave so that I don't swipe your jigsaw off the workbench and slice you a new one. Please leave before I have to be carted off for beheading an enormous "handyman" on the front porch of my house with his own tape measure (this can be done, I'm sure of it.).

Yes, people, it is true. I hired an outside source, once again, to do a job that we didn't feel we were skilled enough to handle lest we destroy a perfectly beautiful piece of craftsmanship.

"No," we said, "let us hire a professional so that the job gets done right."

and furthermore, "just like the door's instructions explicitly recommend that we do."

Well, as it turns out, Bubba or I could probably put on a "handyman" polo shirt, slap a label on the Prius and go around town touting our "Craftsman for Hire" status just as much as the alleged "handymen" in our area, because it clearly takes ZERO competence to claim such a fact.

My summation of "handyman" requirements based on my recent experience with so-called handy men is as follows:
  • You must be large. Not just normal "large", but suspiciously "large" with the ability to sweat without doing more than shifting your body weight to your left foot.
  • You must be able to complain, at length, about all topics that are of no importance to your clients. These may include but are not limited to: your work hours, when you ate lunch, when you last slept, how many times you've done this before and *never* had this happen, the crappiness of the materials your client has provided for you to install.
  • You must act like you know everything when in fact you know nothing.
  • Take forever to complete the most simple of tasks. Ex: setting up a workbench should take no less than thirty full minutes.
  • Act surprised when clients ask you to turn off the saw and go home when it's 10pm, you've been there since five and the job still isn't close to done.
The cringe factor on this project has been intense. And because of this poignant reminder of how much I did not cringe when Bubba and I picked up after our last contractor did stupid things, we are now resuming Boss status around our house and doing this project ourselves.

So we don't have the tools to bore a 5/8 hole for the latch? There's an OSH close by and they're used to seeing us half a dozen times in one day, which should give us just enough time to figure out the tool we need, buy it and successfully destroy it.

So we don't know, exactly, how to mount and hang a door? We DO know how to log on to the Internet and that is where Bob Vila lives. And THAT is a man who can install a door.

Either way, I'd rather spend an entire Sunday staring at my sexy Bubba while he wrinkles his brow and goes, "I don't know baby, what do you think?" as we attempt to manhandle this door into place than ever bring another "handyman" into our house.

If this is successful, we'll be able to add, "door hanging" to our list of DIY skills. Thanks to our last two bouts with contractors, we can also claim; wiring outlets, installing can light fixtures, installing a gas oven, mounting an overhead microwave, piping water to a fridge, installing baseboards, wiring and installing under cabinet lights, wiring and installing ambient lights, wall texturing, painting of all varieties and wood sealing as "skills we possess."

Stay tuned...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Not totally pointless

I'm a sucker for free stuff.

There, I said it.

Granted, I've scaled back my acceptance of free stuff thanks to the hard lessons learned during the swag abundance of the tech boom (No one needs a toilet brush with a semiconductor company logo on it. And now I know that.), but there are some free things that can not be ignored.

Like free seeds for instance.

During the fourth of five trips Bubba and I made to OSH one Saturday (they think we drink), I got to play with the scratcher card we received at checkout for whatever hair-brained promotion they were running.

Voila! I (we) won a Free Packet of Wildflower Seeds. Squeee!

So, I proceeded to customer service, as instructed by said scratcher, and received not only my promised packet of seeds, but AN ADDITIONAL fortuitous packet of seeds. Extra squee! I didn't dare question the sanity of the employee behind the counter. I had extra seeds!

I don't have to tell you that my boisterous rejoicing went unaccompanied. Bubba seemed to be too wrapped up in the project at hand (rewiring the kitchen lights) to properly jump up and down with excitement. Sometimes I don't understand him.

Meanwhile I headed right home, two packets of wildflower seeds just burning a hole right through my palm, and quickly and unceremoniously forgot them on my potting bench for about six months.

Until the previous plantings in our pathetic sidewalk patch finally threw in the towel and died beneath a thick sheen of dog pee and neglect.

At that point, or rather at a point approximately two months later when I was sick and fucking tired of looking at a patch of skanky dirt in front of our house, I mustered up the patience to go to the nursery for plants that require shade, little water, thrive on neglect, compliment the front landscaping and don't cringe at the sight of a raised dog leg. Honestly, it's a tall order and not one I felt like tackling.

After a short time spent wandering the Shade-Loving aisles I decided to opt for the obvious and unglamourous choice of Sedge Somethingrother. I had some in the landscaping already, which hadn't died (woo!), so I figured it would work well enough. And, frankly, I really just wanted to go ogle the vegetables and fantasize about my pumpkin patch anyway, so Sedge fit the bill. I bought it in two colors just so I wouldn't be too boring.

Thankfully, it has seemed to stick in the sidewalk patch. Even with the frequent showers from our dog passersby, infrequent waterings and rampant neglect, it looks pretty fluffy and not brown - which was the main goal.

So, back to the seed part - basically, I was seeing success in the sidewalk patch and decided that since I'd conquered the "What the hell do I plant in this pee hole?" question, I decided it needed some spicing up.

Enter the wildflower seeds.

My thought was this: If wildflowers can exist in The Wild with all the animal pee and unstable conditions, they would probably stand half a chance in a location with some erratic care and hourly canine attention.

So, my big plan and I went out to the garage to find the long ignored wildflower seeds. After a little hunting I walked triumphantly back out to the sidewalk patch, tore open the packets and dumped them out on the soil around the Sedge.

Ok, done. Grow! It was all very scientific.

A few weeks later...

Queue the genius music, please!

Yes, those are poppies you see there. POPPIES! From seed! Who knew? Ok, I know where flowers come from, but COME ON. Right there growing in the pee hole?! Too good.

And some kind of pretty pink daisy thing.

And some kind of nice yellow daisy-type thing.

And some sort of blue bell-ish type flower.

And the crown jewel poppies! There are a couple now which will be adequately photographed so I can share and brag about my mastery of all pee-covered landscaping.

Oh the lushness of it all. So not brown and dead with only one sad dandelion posing as landscaping.

With this new information, it is possible that I may be able to keep our sidewalk patch from going totally to crap. In this housing market, it seems a shame to disavow any "land" even if it is dirty and covered in pee.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Fish guilt

I'm trying to decide if there's something wrong with me because I chose to stay home on Saturday to run/sew/clean instead of going fishing with Bubba.

Seeing this fact on paper is making me lean toward Yes.

I'm sure you've met those people in your life who, say, couldn't do their homework, read a book or paint their toenails if the house was a mess, the dog hadn't been walked or something in the kitchen was making a bad smell.

Well, I am one of those people.

Which means that when I have baby shower gifts to make, a house invaded by cat-sized hairballs (seriously, not exaggerating. It was alarming.), a half-marathon looming and uncut fabric folded next to a new pattern - it is virtually impossible for me to commit to a single act of leisure until everything has been crossed off the To-Do list.

I am a slave to this list. And it only exists in my own head, so it makes me seem extra crazy when no one else can even SEE the list to know how many things I need to do.

So when these other people ask me to do reasonably fun things like go fly fishing, I turn into this bug-eyed lunatic sputtering things like, "Can't go, must cut out bumblebees. Can't fish, must run six miles."

It's totally unbecoming and I know that. But there is nothing I can do about it. In fact, I've *tried* to do something about it before by just ignoring the nagging (HOLLERING) voice in my head and going ahead with whatever fun thing was presented to me, only to end up sitting at a baseball game renaming the players as things on my list.

And can't I just tell you that there is just nothing useful about "Go to the bank" turning a double play on "Change your oil " and "Make cupcakes for Kristie's birthday" .

I've lived the lesson and I've learned: When the Mental Mind List is full- stay home and do those things. THEN, and only then, go out and drink all the beers while watching the Giants lose. Or, in this case, THEN ask Bubba nicely if he'll go fishing with me soon and forgive me for being a boring lame house marm covered in bits of thread and hairball cast-off.

Thankfully Bubba is a very forgiving and, more importantly, adequately balanced human being who understands my impulses as well as my latent desire to wear my waders. Which means that he will, at once, not malign me for ditching him for the sewing machine AND plan another trip out to the river so that I can dust off my fly rod and pretend I still know how to cast.


Meanwhile, once I got past the paralyzing guilt and awareness that I was turning into a boring houseflea, I did manage to get everything on the Mental Mind List checked THE HELL OFF.

And then I photographed the evidence of my productivity so that I could show Bubba that I didn't spend the day in vein watching skinemax and drinking gin from the bottle.

Baby shower gifts:

My new Barcelona skirt:

With a properly installed invisible zipper (see how it's even at the top? That doesn't usually happen. Like, not ever) :

Lemon meringue pie for our neighbors. They keep giving us produce and eggs from their farmshare so I thought I'd work some of it into a delicious thank you somethingerother:

And to be extra productive (thus assuaging extra guilt), I harvested from the yard and wore out the dog by running her around with me.

In retrospect it would have been more relaxing to have gone fishing. Guilt is a tiring hobby.

Friday, June 01, 2007

InStitches: June

Dear Donk,

I know you're off saving the world, but running the InStitches~along without you sucks the bag. Thankfully there are enough G&Ts in my fridge to get me through until your return and I get to read your Posts from the Dark Continent so that I know that you are safe, improving the world around you and also bringing the wheel to Moz. That's a good lass.

Plus, there are plenty of projects on the cutting table to keep me busy. Not the least of which is our June InStitches project which I get to pick - muhuahahahahahaha!

My inspiration for this month's project comes from me mum. She was over for Mother's Day dindin after our tea and shopping bonanza when I let her loose to set the table.


Here's the thing - we have only one set of matching napkins and placemats. Otherwise we have one kazillion white napkins, half a kazillion solid autumn color napkins, half a dozen thisnthats from random gifts and some hot Hawaiian style napkins made by my mum herself. And to match? Why not a GDF thing.

So, the options when setting our table are: use the one set of matchy matchy napkins/placemats OR eat at the coffee table where you'll only need a napkin and a shovel.

Unless you're my mom. In which case you pair the Hawaiian style napkins with the purple placemats (I'm still not sure where these gems came from) and create the aforementioned FRIGHT.

Thus inspiring me to coin this month's project: Placemats and Napkins.

I'm not sure how you all feel about seeing your table awash in mismatched linens, but for me it is just short of stroke-inducing. This is because I am a low-grade control freak and slightly insane about stupid little things.

So we will fix all that this month by creating the most luscious aesthetically pleasing placemats and napkins to enhance our collective dining experiences. Then we will set our tables in the most drool-worthy, make Martha so jealous she pees her perfect pants kind of way and post our photos to prove it.

In case you didn't catch it, there went the theme: Dining Room Dress-Up.

It's a little like "Project in Action", except there needn't be anything going on in your photo but a sexy table set to stun. If all goes as planned, the Purple vs Hawaiian Floral grudge match emblazoned on my retina will be erased before June comes to a close and we'll all dine a little easier. For this I thank all of you.

And to close May on a high note, I'd also like to declare May's fancy winner: Thistledew! I mean, come on, she made a fabulous summery apron and then JUGGLED WATERMELONS. "In Action" is an understatement . Ms. Thistle - please shoot me an email to finnyknits AT gmail DOT com with your address and I'll send you a prize worthy of your skillfulness.

Ok, Donk - I hope I'm covering all my bases here while you're away. Sometimes I can't be left unsupervised. That's how we end up watching surveillance videos in the basement and charging admission to the neighborhood kids.

Continue traveling safely and sharing your smile and big heart with everyone you meet.

Love and misses,