Sunday, November 20, 2011

The following is a true story. Sigh.

The Bird

We live in the country in a 200 year old brick house; a brick house with a drafty attic. Birds are constantly getting into it. Occasionally, though, they manage to find their way into our duct system.

Under normal circumstances, it’s a daunting process to get them out. However, when you throw in three kids, two labs, one cat and a ferret (there have also been rabbits, chinchillas, pet mice, and frogs in the mix at different times), it becomes a three ring circus.

We’ve always managed to shoo the bird out an open window without more than a light bulb being broken in the process. The birds seem to be as anxious to escape as we are to free it.

Until last week.

We were alerted to the birds presence in our ceiling by the dogs and the cat. They were running around, jumping up and down and making all kinds of noises. Matt unscrewed the vent cover, and a bird peeked down, surveying the animal kingdom that was our living room.

To say that this bird was fearless is an understatement. In fact, if Sylvester Stallone ever wanted to make an animal sequel to his famous movie series, we had just the bird for him in our living room – Rambird.

He casually swooped down into the room, flying in circles just above the dogs’ heads, and then landed on their newly filled food dishes; and began to dine. At first, we were all stunned. The kids, Matt, me and the animals stood there watching this bird casually eat dog food.

He wasn’t just eating the dogs’ food; he was making eye contact, as if daring them to do something about it.

And that’s when the dogs remembered that they were bigger, and the cat realized that he should be hunting it. Mass chaos began to ensue.

Bubba, our big black lab is afraid of his own shadow. After his shock wore off, he couldn’t get out of the room fast enough. He rounded the corner and flew out the door with cartoon like speed.

Mae B (pronounced “maybe”) is the yellow lab and she wasn’t amused at the bird eating her food. Bandit, the cat, turned into his version of a wild jungle cat and began to stalk his prey. Rambird continued to eat, watching them with what seemed like amusement. Or maybe it was mocking them; either way, that was one confident bird.

Mae B went after it right as Bandit pounced. Rambird flew up just in time for the two of them to collide into one another. Bandit was dazed for a second, but he resumed the chase. As Mae was barking like a maniac, jumping on and off the couch, Bandit was leaping to shelves, the fireplace, and just about anything that the bird was near. While this was going on, we were trying to use newspaper to corral the bird and send him out the window.

So there we were; three kids and two adults running through the room wildly waving newspapers above our heads, the dog barking, the cat leaping, fur flying, furniture crashing, lamp tipping over and a picture dangling precariously on the wall; the only creature who seemed to be amused in the middle of the melee was Rambird.

He must have decided it was getting too weird, and he flew out the window. Bandit launched himself after it, and thankfully, he didn’t throw himself out of the second floor window. He did, however, smack into the wall; spread eagle style. Thankfully, he wasn’t hurt, but he disappeared for the rest of the day. We think he was embarrassed; probably due to our pointing and laughing.

We can be so evil.

Things finally died down, and I began the process of picking up the remains of the battle. We lost a lamp in the fight, but due to our condition (having three kids and a veritable menagerie of animals); I don’t buy anything that can’t be easily replaced at Sears. Or the thrift store.

It’s been over a week, and the animals are no worse for the wear. Bandit has returned to normal, but he’s taken to sitting on the window sill, glaring at the birds outside. We figure he’s plotting his revenge.

On the bright side, I may open my own business chasing birds out of people’s houses. I’ll call it exactly what it would be if I actually did it: “Birdbrained”.

You can write to Tamara Kells, The Brunette Lucy, on Facebook.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Price of Meat

Here's my latest! It made the top 5 most popular article in 3 of the cities that have run it so far! 

I’m famous for my grocery store follies; I can’t seem to go shopping without bringing home way more than I’d gone for. More than that, however, is that I keep bringing home the wrong things.

I should point out, however, that my eyesight plays a huge part in this ongoing problem. I need reading glasses – badly. I think I have at least twenty pair or more (I get them at the dollar store). The problem is that I can never find them while shopping. I could be searching for them for half an hour and still not find them. Then, when getting in the car, they fall out of my purse and into my lap; it never fails.

I’d gone to the store to stock up; we needed pretty much everything. Like everyone else these days, we have to be careful with our budget, so I’m always on the lookout for a deal. I was especially trying to find meats of any kind on sale.

I noticed a big sign announcing shank portions of ham for only $1.29 a pound. Since ham is normally expensive, I gravitated to the cooler and began to pick up and compare. I’d say I was like a pig rooting for truffles, but since I was rooting for a pig, that wouldn’t be in the best “taste”.

Another lady was perusing the hams as well, and I pointed out the deal. She, too, began to go through the ham. I’d picked mine, but thought that I’d look at the other hams. Then I spotted it; a HUGE spiral cut ham for only $10.59. I grabbed that bad boy, and threw it in my cart. To be nice, I alerted the other lady about the deal, and she, too, tossed another ham into her cart. We high fived each other, and off I went.

I came home, crowing about the steal I got on the ham. Matt picked it up and asked me how much I paid for it. Gloating, I told him. And that’s when he said, “That’s not the price of the ham; it’s the weight”.

I would have liked to be a fly on the wall when the woman who took my advice found out the same thing. But this wasn’t my only grocery store adventure this week.

Yesterday, my best friend, Michele, and I went out. I had to go to the Wal-Mart for a prescription, but when we got there, it wasn’t ready.

To kill time, Michele and I went over to the meat department. Before us was a sea of gold labels announcing reduced for quick sale cuts of meat. Unfortunately, since we were only going to get my medicine, we didn’t have a cart. We balanced our treasure in our arms, and went to see if my prescription was ready. It wasn’t; we had to wait.

So there I sat, sitting on the gray bench in front of the pharmacy with over fifteen pounds of roast in my lap. To say we got strange looks is putting it mildly.

I wonder what those folks would think if they knew that as I sat there with a stack of red meat, I was waiting for my high blood pressure medicine.

When I got home, I was putting my roasts in the freezer. And that’s when I noticed that on one or two of the packages, I’d only saved a dollar or less. Not quite the deal that I thought I was getting.

Later that night, Michele made a discovery of her own; she wanted me to know so I wouldn’t feel so bad. On one roast, we had made an exceptional deal. It originally cost $11.34, but the final price was $7.21. But how much did Wal-Mart math tell us we saved? $1.81.

Now I don’t feel so bad.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Age of (too much) Information!

Here's my latest for AOL's Patch! Still thinking about finishing the book; but it's more work and I'm lazy.

I love the show, “House Hunters” on HGTV.  I get a kick out of seeing the insides of homes, getting decorating ideas, etc.  But I just watched one that blew me away.  There was, & I’m REALLY not kidding here, folks, a telephone in the bathroom – by the toilet.

Now, I don’t know about you, but how disturbing would it be if during a conversation, you heard a flushing sound? I guess it would make an undeniable point; eww.

It got me thinking, though, about how we live in a (too much) information age. We have to be able to reach out & touch each other, no matter where we are. And, as evidenced by the toilet phone, no matter what we’re doing.

Everywhere you go, folks are carrying cell phones. I was in a deli once and saw a woman telling the clerk (who had other customers, including me, standing in line) to wait a second so she could take a call.

If she had been in the process of brokering peace in the Middle East, I could understand. Instead, she answered with, “I’m not doing anything; what are you doing?” Maybe it’s me, but that hardly seems like a reason to ignore a person who’s handling your food.

I’m willing to bet that the deli clerk agreed with me and probably had visions of launching some cold cuts at her.

I’m not saying that cell phones are bad; I have a Blackberry with a cute Barbie pink silicone housing. I spent more time coming up with a nickname for it than I did naming one of my kids. The fact of the matter is that they come in handy.

And as if I’m not already calling the kettle black, I have a land line, my cell, call waiting and an answering machine. Oh, and my car has Onstar, so it has its own phone and number. I can’t be incommunicado if I wanted to.

Having them and knowing how to manage my communication devices is another matter entirely.

I was on our land line talking to my best friend, Michele, when my cell phone rang; while trying to decide what to do, call waiting began to buzz in.

I’ve never been this popular in my life.

Of course, I was confused, and I’ve never gotten the knack of call waiting. I tried to put Michele on hold to answer the call; pushing random buttons in an attempt to figure out which one would put her on hold and let me talk to whoever was beeping in.

While I was frantically trying to figure out how to see who was beeping in on our conversation, the cell kept ringing. I told who I thought was the person on the call waiting that I’d be right there, as I reached for it. Unfortunately, I had only recently bought the Blackberry, and I didn’t have my reading glasses on so I couldn’t see which button I should push to answer the call.

I was pressing numbers faster than a frenzied accountant on a calculator at tax time.

All the while, the Blackberry was playing Def Leppard’s “Hysteria”; the ring tone that I thought was so cute when I downloaded it. At the time, however, it was an accurate description of me.

Finally, whoever was trying to call the cell gave up, or they went to voice mail. Since I have no idea how to retrieve my voice mail, that’s going to remain a mystery. I was just happy that Def Leppard had finally shut up.

I got back on the landline, thinking that I was going to be talking to whoever had beeped in on Michele and me, only to find Michele laughing. Seriously, what were the odds that I hadn’t managed to put her on hold? Turns out, I’d pushed almost every button on the phone, but managed to dance all around the one that I needed.

When Matt got home that night, I figured out who was beeping in. He wanted to know why I didn’t answer the land line; he’d let it ring twenty times. He thought I might have been in the bathroom.

I asked what he was calling for, and he said he just wanted to know what I was doing. Visions of the lady at the deli counter went running through my head.

Then he said, “Hey, I saw a program the other day.  Did you know they have phones you can put in the bathroom?”

Shoot me now.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

When Waterbeds Attack

I’ve always loved waterbeds and had one every since I moved out of my parents’ house; the old fashioned “full baffle”, hard sided waterbed. Fast forward to marrying Matt, and we found a new, soft side waterbed. To make it even cooler, the water was in tubes. This eliminated the full jiggle that the old style was famous for and you can use normal sheets.

Like all beds, however, soft side waterbeds need to be replaced every 5-10 years; it was time for a new bed. I had an idea -why not give the open baffle, full jiggle style a try, and Matt went along with it.

You know, you’d think he’d learn.

We bought our new bed, and I marked the occasion by purchasing satin sheets. The bed was set up, and I opened my new, silky sheets, and began to spread them across the bed; then attempted to tuck them in.

I hadn’t thought far enough ahead to realize that 750 pounds of quasi open water was going to be heavy. Lifting the corner was going to be a challenge.

I struggled to raise it, then jammed my right knee under the mattress. I was able to tuck the sheet under on my left side, but I was at an odd angle, and couldn’t quite tuck it in on my right. I figured that what I needed was more leverage and I didn’t want to lose what I had by removing my knee.

In a move that would make contortionists everywhere proud, I managed to bend down and use my left shoulder to hold up the mattress. In that precarious position (while mentally giving myself a pat on the back for managing such an acrobatic feat), I reached for the sheet with my right hand.

And here’s where the science of wave motion comes into play.

If you push a body of water one way, it’s bound to come back in the direction it came from; often with almost the same force. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw what might as well have been a tidal wave barreling towards me.

Just as it hit, my foot began to slide, sending my body careening backwards. My knee recoiled from under the mattress, slammed into my chest, and I began to slide under the bed (although I think it would more accurately be described as lurching).

My left hand was waving wildly, trying to grab the bed post in a desperate attempt to slow my descent, while I was still clutching the sheet in my right hand. There was no help to be had; I was going down.

I landed with the grace of an elephant on my back.

I was lying there, looking up at my ceiling, legs and arms akimbo, with half of my body underneath the bed, as the rest of the sheet slithered off the mattress and landed on my face.

The theme from “Deliverance” was playing in my head.

I’ve matched wits with children, adults and even animals, and lost. Losing to an inanimate object was a new low, even for me. If only that was the one time my waterbed mocked me, it would be enough. Sadly, it had just started.

I finally managed to get myself up off the floor and an hour later, my new waterbed was made. I beamed with pride.

Note to self: don’t ever beam with pride – it usually doesn’t end well.

When Matt got home, I was excited to show it off. I stood next to the bed and like a “Price is Right” model, I swept one arm over it as I patted it with the other.

He was only minimally impressed, as he didn’t know what I’d been through to get those sheets on that bed. But he was happy, and said that it was a good thing I liked the amount of water in it.

Wait; what?

He explained that after set up, you’re supposed to lie on the bed to see if you prefer more or less water; didn’t I know that?

Why, yes I did (I lied).

Knowing that I probably didn’t, he instructed me to lie down, which I did. Turns out, he was right about adjusting the level of water; my rear end hit the bottom of the bed, while water surrounded me on all sides. If you’ve ever seen someone in drifting down the river an inner tube with their rear ends almost completely immersed, you’ve got the visual.

Unfortunately, in order to add water, we’d have to unzip the pillow top; those sheets that I’d spent the better part of an afternoon putting on had to come off. Thankfully, however, when it was time to put them back on, Matt helped. I wouldn’t be adding another bruise to my posterior.

That night, as usual, Matt went to bed first (I’m a bit of a night owl). When I went in later, Matt’s 6’2” frame had displaced a good sized amount of water; it looked like a small hill on my side of the bed. But I figured that once I lay down, my weight would balance us out. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and I promptly rolled down the bubble of water, landing face first on Matt.

Taking it in stride, he squinted up at me and said, “Not now, dear, I have a headache.” We adjusted the water levels yet again.

A week later, I got up in the middle of the night to find that a cold front had come through. By the time I came back, I was so cold my teeth were chattering. I went running into the bedroom, trying to get to bed and under the covers as soon as humanly possible.

Now, when I say I “got into bed”, what I meant was I vaulted myself with the grace of a charging rhino. I thudded onto the mattress with such force that Matt was launched off the bed and onto the floor.

I stared at the empty space that he’d previously occupied, mouth agape and held my breath. The wheels in my brain were spinning to come up with an explanation as to why I’d suddenly turned into an Olympic worthy gymnast; and tried to formulate an Olympic sized apology.

After what seemed like an eternity, he got up, looked at me and said, “You know, you’d think I’d be surprised.” Then he got back into bed, pulled the covers up and went back to sleep. I sat there for a good 30 seconds, then breathed a sigh of relief.

It’s been a few months, and we’re both pretty used to the mattress. Although I admit, I’ll feel a lot better when Matt finally stops erecting a mountain of pillows on his side of the bed every night. Thankfully, I haven’t done any more vaulting, and going to bed has gone without incident.

But, in my world, there’s no such thing as “without incident”.  There’ll be plenty more opportunities for Matt to bellow, “Lucy, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do!”

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Here's my latest called "Puzzled".

My husband, Matt, is a puzzle fiend. Crossword, Sudoku, Jumbled Words, you name it, he loves them. I, on the other hand, hate them. Matt calls it a left brain/right brain issue. I call it a don’t care/too frustrating issue.

I do ok with jumbled word puzzles, but once I get stymied, I’m done. Matt tried to explain what Sudoku is, and how it’s played. All I heard was that it involved numbers. After that, I had zero interest. Numbers make my brain hurt.

In an effort to help with my puzzle impairment, he emailed an intelligence test to me. The average person is supposed to get it right within five tries; he got it in one. I, however, now have concrete evidence that I barely use one percent of my brain. I got 14% on my first try, and 0% on two others. I actually got worse!

At first, there was no way I was going to divulge this little tidbit of knowledge. I figured I could just walk away and forget about it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t.

All I could think about was that stupid test. I’m not a complete idiot, and this test didn’t seem that hard. I kept going back to the computer to retake the test, with the same result.

I half expected the test to ask me to verify that I wasn’t a chimp banging on the keyboard.

Instead, I was greeted by a cartoon wearing a dunce hat. I’ve been told I’m not the brightest bulb by some, but a computer is telling me I’m stupid? It was war.

I’d keep taking the test, failing, taking, failing. The more I tried, the worse I felt. Even in the shower, I was going over all the instructions, trying to figure out what I was missing. Then, I’d go back with renewed fervor, only to get laughed at by my computer – again.

That’s when I formed my conspiracy theory. Maybe it was a joke that Matt thought would be funny. And, what if he really DIDN’T get it in one try? What if he was trying to tell me he thinks I’m an idiot? Was he doing this on purpose to make me crazy?

Well, by the time he got home, I’d worked up a good ol’ case of mad. I hollered at him and told him exactly what was on my pea sized mind! He looked at me as though I’d lost it, and then, had the nerve to suggest that maybe I wasn’t reading the instructions correctly.

That’s when I told Mr. Man what he could do with his puzzle.

After trying, hard, to stifle his laughter, he showed me what I’d done wrong; and had spent the day going nuts about. I couldn’t believe how easy the mistake I’d made was. I promptly sat down and re-took the puzzle/test, and got 100%.

There should be a moral to this story, but, like a brain teaser, I’m having a hard time figuring it out. Matt suggested it’s to be nicer to your husband; nope, that wasn’t it.

Besides, I wasn’t falling for that again; look what happened the last time he “helped”.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Why aren't you following me? (sniff, sniff)

I have a Facebook page, Tamara Kells, The Brunette Lucy. Don't forget to go over there & "like" me. You'll be updated when my latest article gets posted as too often, it takes me a while to put it over here. 

As I was thinking about writing this, I remembered this post I wrote over a year ago. I thought it was worth re-posting as it's every bit as true now as it was then!


I started this blog, not really knowing why. I’m a complete moron when it comes to all things technical. But, my husband, Matt, said it’s the thing to do. So, I just do what I’m told.

Then, I got a “twitter” account on accident. I was trying to get in touch with the editor at the Inquirer. Since my article appeared there a while back, the head muckety mucks have changed. Well, he doesn’t post his email online. Instead, he has a link to his twitter thingy. I follow the link, & find out that I have to create an account to write to him. So, of course, I do what I’m told & did it.

THEN, & I really don’t know how this stuff happens, I get an email saying that Gavin Newsom is following me. Following me where?? Anywho, I look into who this guy is & it turns out, he’s the mayor of San Francisco. Ok, I personally didn’t have that little tidbit of information – Michele told me. Thank God for good friends!

Next thing I know, some guy named Dave Peck is following me. What am I; the Pied Piper?? I have no clue who that guy is, except that it appears he has some talk show on the radio. How in the world did these folks find me?

All this leads to a conversation our family had about blogs & twitters while on the way to eat (ooh, ask me about the Chinese buffet we went to! Holy cow, they had everything under the sun to eat & we went there because for some reason both the girls decided to give up meat for Lent which is making me crazy especially since right before they announced their plan, I bought a bunch of meat that was on sale & now I have a freezer full of beef I can’t cook. Um, probably another rant. I’ll stop).

Honestly, I can’t believe that this is where the English language is going. But I digress. I’m supposed to network through twitter to link to my blog, then get people to follow my blog, especially if they’re twitter people, because it’s supposedly the new “thing” to do, but “netiquette” requires me to then link to their blogs & twitters & follow them around. At this point, I got lost in the conversation. How do I link, why do I care, & why don’t people get paranoid when strangers are “following” them? Could I lead them off a cliff or something? It seems like a rather large responsibility to entrust to an idiot.

Matt then summed up, kind of, how folks link to bunches of people. Apparently, they can throw out a virtual net & get a bunch of people on their “followers” twitter home page. Don’t ask me for particulars – I zoned out during the explanation. I have no clue why people link, follow, twitter & blog. I’ll leave all that technical stuff up to Matt. I just do what I’m told. 

OK, it's time for you to head over to my Facebook page & start following me around. Go. No, really, shoo. Off with you; go let me know that you like me, you really like me!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Don't Think So, Tim

Here's my homage to men and home improvement. It ran this past weekend.

Do you remember a popular television show that ran in the nineties, “Home Improvement”? Tim Allen's character (Tim the Tool Man) was a home improvement television show host who was fond of grunting like a pig when he was in the presence of power tools. He also bumbled almost every project he laid his hands on. He'd often invite his sidekick, Al, to help him do something foolish, causing Al to say, “I don't think so, Tim” on a somewhat regular basis.

Many people watched the show and laughed, not realizing how accurate Tim's portrayal of a man (and possibly some women) can be when home improvement is involved. I was reminded of it when Matt wanted to take on tiling our kitchen floor.

Normally, going shopping with him is as enjoyable as having a root canal without pain medicine. But once he stepped inside the doors at Home Depot, he seemed to become a different person. His eyes glazed over, and he looked as if he'd just witnessed Moses parting the Red Sea.

I wish whatever it is they're pumping through the ventilation system at Home Depot could be shared with the grocery store and malls. I could actually enjoy shopping with Matt. Sadly, it seems to be non-transferable.

He gently coaxed a bright orange cart out of its corral, and walked reverently through the brightly lit store, occasionally stopping to pick up some gadget or another. As he held it in his hand, he grunted in obvious approval.

We finally managed to get to the tile area; of course, not without stopping to marvel at a variety of tools and gadgets whose use was lost on me. The happy grunting continued.

Little did I know that there would be so many tiles to choose from; nor did I know about the cornucopia of tools that would be required to do the job. I was actually able to decide which tile I liked well before Matt was finished shopping for the necessary equipment.

That was something that had never happened before in our married life; me picking anything out before he was ready to bolt for the door.

He picked up what looked like a bacon press to me, but I was wrong. It was a notched trowel, used to spread something called grout. Apparently, we also needed spacers, a float, sponges, nippers, sealers, and the list went on.

We also needed what looked like an over grown pumice stone to me, but it turned out to be a grit sanding and rubbing stone. I'm glad I found that out before I tried to use it on my fingernails.

When I finally managed to get him out of the store (which seemed to take hours), we came home and he set about tiling the kitchen floor. I could have sworn I heard him making more happy grunting noises. Unfortunately, hours later, we needed a few more tiles, and Matt asked if I'd like to come along to get them.

And that's when I said, “I don't think so, Tim”.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Don't forget; if you want to be cool like all your friends, "like" me on Facebook. Or start a trend & like me before your unenlightened friends do!

Furnishing your house through the years

When you're single and you get your first apartment, half the fun is decorating it. And if you're anything like me, money was tight so decorations and furnishings were often purchased at the thrift store, or you made do with hand-me-downs. You also get really creative, which translates to not being very picky.
For example, I needed a table to eat on that wasn't collapsible and meant for television viewing. I spied one of those huge electrical spools behind a factory and asked if I could buy it. Luckily, they took pity on me and gave it to me. With a table cloth that I purchased at the Salvation Army and some folding chairs, I had my first dining room set.
Bare walls were not a problem. I had a large collection of hand held fans and tacked them to the wall in between large posters of Def Leppard and Pat Benatar - attached by scotch tape.
Then when Matt and I first got married, we had to mingle our meager furnishings. Unfortunately, his art consisted of neon signs for various brands of beer and other such bar room décor. Since I wasn't particularly enamored by having maidens wearing low-cut blouses carrying mass quantities of beer on my wall, we had the talk.
I explained to him that while those were probably awesome in a bachelor pad, it was a little frowned upon in married couples' homes. I didn't, however, tell him that the folks who were frowning upon his collection were my friends and family. His friends still thought they were awesome, and his parents had, by all accounts, given up on his taste in most departments.
Being a good guy, he agreed to store the scantily clad maidens. However, he really, really liked those other neon beer signs. And I really, really hated them.
Noting that the majority of his bar room décor was in bright, primary colors, I promptly purchased pastel curtains and painted the walls in a warm cream color. That backfired on me, though, when Matt came home and thought the combination looked amazing. I was at my wit's end.
Then the weirdest thing happened, a poltergeist moved in. Neon beer signs kept falling off the wall and breaking into little pieces. Surprisingly, all the acceptable decorations were left intact.
Not wanting the rest of his beloved wall art to fall prey to the ghost, Matt reluctantly packed up the remaining neon signs, and carried them to the thrift store. The poltergeist must have moved on, as there were no further incidents.
After we'd been married for a little while, we were able to purchase much better furniture, but only because of Matt's generous uncle Warren. Uncle Warren owns a furniture store, and he gave things to us for his cost. He's awesome that way.
We got our first real dining table – complete with chairs that didn't fold up. We also purchased an overstuffed light beige couch with a matching La-Z-Boy recliner. Or should I say, Matt's La-Z-Boy recliner. I think I sat in it once, but I can't be sure it wasn't a dream or wishful thinking.
I sought better wall decorations, and instead of posters hanging from our walls, we had framed posters.
I carried over our new sophisticated tastes to the kitchen. I purchased new silverware, new stoneware dinner sets, glasses for every type of drink known to man, and even a few kitchen appliances. I was so happy.
When folks would come to our house, I'd offer them a drink in one of our brand-new glasses. I also wielded coasters quicker than a ninja - it would be under your glass as soon as it left your mouth. I took great pride in setting a beautiful table with our new stoneware and perfectly pressed tablecloth.
Then we had kids, a dog and a cat. Things were about to change.
That beautiful cream-colored couch was liberally doused with Kool-Aid stains, mingled with jelly, chocolate ice cream and a myriad of other stains. I tried to do damage control, and bought a throw cloth to cover it.
Which was promptly doused with Kool-Aid.
The carpet that I so lovingly vacuumed and shampooed was covered with dog and cat hair. It also shared the same fate as the couch; embellished with a dizzying array of splotches and embedded with graham cracker crumbs.
My coffee table had enough water stains to qualify as abstract art.
It's a good thing I knew where my refrigerator was. It was covered in crayon drawings and colorful, magnetic ABC letters. For that matter, most of my wall art was drawn by one of my kids. And if I'm being honest, some of the walls themselves sported murals drawn by them.
I began to notice that grown up things were disappearing. My kitchen cupboards were now filled with jelly jars and sippy cups, mingled in with my beautiful (and dwindling) stemware. Baby bottles occupied the cupboard that used to house the wine glasses and my silverware drawer now held more plastic spoons with cartoon figures on them than actual cutlery. If I needed a steak knife, or really any knife that had the ability to cut through more than bread, I had to go next door to borrow one from the neighbor.
Remember those pricey stoneware dishes? I think I have three left - sandwiched between warped, brightly colored plastic plates. To this day, I doubt I could put a complete dinnerware service for two together without some type of Disney character smiling back at me.
I'm so used to eating out of mismatched dishes that once, before I had my cup of coffee, I grabbed a bowl out of the sink. I rinsed it, and poured my Cheerios, sugar and milk. As I ate, I noticed a slightly off taste. I couldn't place what that somewhat meaty taste was.
That's when I realized I was eating out of a dog dish that had been put in the sink to be washed.
And when did we install those child safety locks? If I needed something in a hurry, I'd have to remember all the steps to bypass their intricate security system. Launching the space shuttle would be easier.
As the kids got older, I began to think I could once again buy stoneware that had an actual pattern instead of primary colors. I even entertained the idea of buying another cream-colored couch.
That was before the kids had parties and I learned that cheese curls stain worse than Kool-Aid.
Oh, well, in the future, my kids will be out and furnishing their own apartments with hand-me-downs and posters taped to the wall. I can always get my cream-colored couch and maybe a new set of dishes when that happens.
No more eating out of a "Sponge Bob Squarepants" bowl and drinking from a "Toy Story" cup for me! I can also throw away all those sippy cups with an adorable Simba, the "Lion King" grinning at me. And boy, will I miss it.
Bring on the grand-kids!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Just in case . . . .

In the event you'd be interested, you can “like” me on Facebook. You can leave messages there; but I'd REALLY like to know what you'd like me to write about next.  See you there!

As Seen on TV

As Seen on TV

I've said it before and I'll say it again – I'm a sucker when it comes to televised sales pitches. I can't help it; I really want to believe in new miracle products that claim to make our lives easier, cut the time we spend in the kitchen, or make us look younger. The thing of it is, most of the stuff being hocked is just a twist on an old idea.

For example, there are innovative furniture moving pads you place under the legs of furniture (only $19.99 for 16), making moving furniture a breeze! On TV, it looks as if they're gliding over ice. It made me want to buy them if only to join in the fun; they were swinging those chairs around like they were square dancing.

I wonder if folks knew about the moving pads that I used when I was younger. They were called cardboard, and you went to the grocery store to get it - for free. I will admit, there's a bit of labor involved; you have to cut it up. But, to be fair, they probably didn't work as well.

I was curious, however, about a new fashion break through called “Pajama Jeans”.

On TV, they look just like real jeans; and according to their maker, you can go out wearing them and no one will be the wiser. They're made of an exclusive and innovative fabric called “Dormisoft” that moves and stretches with you for a perfect fit. They had me hook, line and sinker; anything that makes me more comfortable is a must have to my way of thinking. Still, I wasn't sure about buying jeans from a commercial.

Enter the Walmart.

I went there last week on one of those dreary days we'd been having and noticed that there was a section called “As seen on TV”. Is it possible that it had been there all along and I hadn't noticed? No, it must have been new because I can smell a revolutionary, breakthrough gadget a mile away. I'd never miss a cluster of them.

I held my breath and hoped that Pajama Jeans would be there in all their splendor and comfy goodness. As if on queue, the clouds opened and the sun shone its golden rays through the skylight directly above the display. It really was a magical moment.

All I could think was please, please let there be Pajama Jeans.

And they were there; my heart was beating fast as I knew I'd just saved $6.99 in shipping and handling fees. A rush of happiness washed over me as I reveled in my good luck. Then I looked at the price tag and my moment of Zen came screeching to a halt. They were “only” $39.95. Um, what?

Now, I understand that they're made of a new and wondrous fabric called Dormisoft, but almost forty dollars for one pair of “jeans”? On the other hand, it was the most comfortable pair of jeans I was ever going to wear in my life, and I wouldn't know how I managed to live without them. Well, that's what the commercial said and we all know I believe just about everything that comes from the wise soothsayer that is the television. I threw them into my cart, when something else caught my eye.

Robostir; it stirs your pots for you.

Have we really gotten too lazy to stir a pot? Well, yeah, I kind of have. Wait, I should amend that – I've been lazy most of my life; so the thought of a robot stirring my pot was appealing. Besides, I've scorched my fair share of spaghetti sauce in my time so if Robostir saved just one batch, it was worth $10.99. And again, I'd saved on the shipping and handling; I'm so clever.

I continued to search this new display of “As Seen on TV” retail genius.

On the other side of the rack, I found a brand new product called “Easy Feet” - no more bending to clean your feet! You put them into a pair of what looks like slippers while over 1000 rejuvenating bristles clean and massage your feet. I pondered that one, but put it back on the shelf as I didn't think I could justify the purchase. I could just hear Matt asking me if I was really too lazy to bend down and rub soap on my feet (sadly, we've established that I kind of am).

I rifled through products that would grow an entire garden in one small space, found lids that were supposed to fit any pot in your house, and saw a pillow that fit the contours of your neck and cradled your head. It was a good thing we'd just bought new pillows or I probably would have been putting that claim to the test.

The next thing to catch my eye was something called “Spray On Foundation”. It's face makeup meant to even your skin tone and cover discolorations. I had to know what miracle I was holding in my hands; I was already imagining how it was going to magically transform the look of my middle aged skin.

According to the packaging, you shake the bottle, close your eyes, and spray a mist of color that will make me look like my face has been airbrushed. Now, really, there's nothing bad about that. If I didn't buy it, I'd never know the joy of going twelve hours looking fresh; like I'd just put my makeup on. It joined the Pajama Jeans and Robostir in my cart; I couldn't wait to try my amazing products.

When I got home, Matt took a look at my booty of wonder products, shook his head and said, “They see you coming. You know that, right?”

Well, I'll show him.

He'll eat those words as I prance around in jeans so comfortable I could sleep in them. Then, thanks to Robostir, I was going to make the best spaghetti sauce he's ever tasted; after I'd applied makeup that would make me look like a 25 year old.

Then reality blew in like a storm in Kansas.

I put on those jeans and boy were they soft. The thing is, they looked nothing like real jeans; at least not to my untrained eye. They looked like, well, pajamas. Worse, they were so form fitting, you could see my panty lines. Not willing to admit defeat, I decided that I probably just needed to break them in; I carried on.

Next I sat down at my mirror, opened up my spray on foundation, and sprayed my face. And my hair, the wall behind me, the shirt I was wearing and the chair I was sitting on.

I'm sure with practice, I'll be able to apply that makeup and look like a model. Until then, I'll use my hands to smooth the streaks running down my face.

It was time for dinner, and since one of the excuses, I mean, reasons, I'd bought Robostir was to avoid burning spaghetti, I assembled my ingredients. I put my AAA batteries in old Roby, positioned him in my pot, and just as Matt walked in, I turned it on.

Turns out, you're supposed to start on low, then graduate to high.

There was spaghetti sauce all over Matt, me, the stove, the ceiling, the floor, and the refrigerator. I seemed to be having a field day when it came to flinging products through the air. Revolutionary, breakthrough products, I should say.

So there I stood; makeup smeared on my face and in my hair, spaghetti sauce all over my shirt, and pajama jeans riding up my rear end, wondering what else in the world could possibly go wrong.

That's when Robostir almost launched himself across the room.

I could tell Matt was ready to laugh out loud; until he saw my face. I don't usually swear, but that day I yelled curse words I didn't even know I knew. They came tumbling out of my mouth like molten lava from a volcano, and were pretty much as unstoppable. Matt stood as still as a statue, probably in fear for his life.,

After my hissy fit, I put my chin up, marched right around Matt, went into the bathroom, and got in the shower – clothes and all. I stood under the warm spray for 20 minutes, peeling off my pajama jeans, and scrubbing makeup and sauce out of my hair. Then, I went into my room and watched my favorite show – TV infomercials and wondered if that foot scrubber would have come in handy after all.

I never learn.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Beep, Beep

Beep, beep!

We live in a world filled with noise. It seems that just about everything emits some type of beeping, chirping, whining, bleating, or buzzing.

Years ago, when our daughter Aubrie was little, we'd gone down to the shore. We got into our little room, put our suitcases down and went out to walk on the boards. When we got back, we were treated to a loud, high pitched ringing noise, reverberating throughout the room.
We searched everywhere, trying to locate the source to no avail. The hotel sent the maintenance man, but he couldn't figure it out either. Since there was no way we could stay in the room, and the hotel was booked solid, we were relocated. More accurately, we were upgraded to a luxury condominium. Later the next day, the sound began anew, but we finally located it. It was one of Aubrie's toys.

When it comes to noise, phones are one of the biggest offenders. If your battery is low, it beeps loudly and won't shut up until you've plugged it in or turned it off. It's kind of weird, though, when you think about it. If the battery is low, isn't the constant beeping even more draining on it? I understand that it's meant to call our attention to the fact that it's potentially dying, but one would hope that it would try to save its strength.

Then there's the beeping to alert me that I have a text message. My kids love to text, even though they know I hate it and have one heck of a time trying to respond. Call me old fashioned, but I always thought phones were for having a conversation. Now it houses your entire phone book, is the keeper of your “to do” list, gives you a wake up call, and can even give you directions. Add the ability to surf the web and type messages, and it's pretty much an all purpose miniature computer.

The problem I have is that even though I have a keyboard on my phone, it was obviously made for elves. The keys are tiny, making it next to impossible to compose sentences that don't have a myriad of typos. Thankfully, the kids are fairly able to decipher my typographically challenged messages; “bting yonr mu;j” means bring home milk. Or meat. If they don't bother to call and ask for the translation, it's a crap shoot to see what it is they've brought home.

Today's cars are also guilty of contributing to noise pollution. If I don't have my seat belt on as soon as I shut the door, my car begins making an obnoxious ringing noise until I either hit a button or fasten the belt. What I'd like to know is who figured how much time the average person needs between getting in the car and securing your safety belt. It's annoying to have your vehicle judge how long it takes.

Hardly any place has as many buzzers, whistles and alarms as the kitchen. And one morning, it became the scene of the perfect storm.

I'm not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, so I have the coffee machine completely ready so that all I have to do is press a button. Usually, I don't eat anything more than a piece of toast, either; big breakfasts are a weekend treat. I wear contact lenses, so in addition to being barely awake before coffee, I'm also fairly blind.

A few months ago, for some strange reason, I woke up famished; I wanted eggs and sausage gravy with biscuits. And, like every other day, I turned the coffee maker on.

Since the sausage was frozen, I grabbed it out of the freezer to put in the microwave to thaw. I pulled a roll of biscuits out of the fridge, and pre-heated the toaster oven. Fetched eggs and a skillet, and put them down on the counter as I assembled all the other sausage gravy fixins.

And then, the perfect storm hit.

The coffee maker buzzed, or so I thought. When I got close enough to see (translation – on top of it), I realized that it wasn't done, so it couldn't be buzzing. My next thought was that the refrigerator door wasn't closed. I opened it and closed it, several times. Still, the buzzing continued.

Next, I went over to the toaster oven, to see if maybe it was letting me know it had hit its chosen temperature. But that wasn't it either; the ringing was driving me crazy. Then, as if God wasn't amused enough, the coffee maker buzzer went off, right when the microwave began to ring that my sausage was defrosted.

Turns out, God wasn't laughing hard enough, because I was able to identify the next sound – the fire alarm.

I wheeled around to see that I'd turned the wrong burner on. My pot holders, which had been stacked on the stove top, were on fire. There was smoke billowing through the kitchen and down the hall. This sent my daughter, Elyse, running into the room. She helped me throw the fire ball that had, until now, been my pot holders, into the sink.

We poured water on the blazing heap of fabric, which only made the smoke worse. We needed to get the doors and windows open – and soon. Elyse pried open one of the 100-year-old kitchen windows and just as she thought she had it open all the way, it came down and smashed her finger.

I was trying to determine if her finger was broken, which thankfully it wasn't. I grabbed ice, put it in a towel and told her to sit down with her arm up. I have no idea why I instructed her to keep her arm up, but you always see that when you're watching first aid videos. I figured it couldn't hurt.

Matt smelled the fire, heard the shrill cacophony, and came running up the stairs to see what was going on. I gave him the Reader's Digest version as he ran around opening windows and doors with me.

Next, he tried to shut the alarm off, but the button wouldn't work, so he had to open the cover and take the battery out. All the while he was cursing, wanting to know what in the world had possessed me to make breakfast before I had my coffee and without at least my glasses on. What was Elyse doing holding her hand in the air wrapped in a towel full of ice? Why did I have pot holders on top of the stove, and what was that ringing?

By now, our son, Boy, and our other daughter, Aubrie, had come into the room to see what in the world was going on. They were treated to a screaming woman, angry man, wounded girl circus. I half expected Boy to go get the popcorn.

And that's when the toaster oven beeped to let me know it had reached 350 degrees.

Still, we hadn't located the source of the original ringing. With a grin a mile wide, Boy casually walked over to the freezer and closed it; which turned off the alarm.

It's been a few months, and we've all pretty much recovered. To Matt's delight, I've sworn off any type of creative cuisine in the a.m. Thankfully, Elyse's finger wasn't broken, but she did sport a good sized bruise for two weeks. To this day, I have no idea if holding your hand above your head makes any difference for a badly bruised finger.

The smell of smoke is long gone, and after a few days of heavy scrubbing, the stove top was usable again. Matt purchased a new fire alarm; one that didn't need the battery removed to get it to shut up. As for Boy and Aubrie? Well, let's just say that they had quite the story to tell their friends for weeks.

But when it gets down to it, buzzers that warn you of impending doom are truly a godsend. Just as long as it isn't a slow day - and He could use a laugh.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My latest

Here's a link to my latest article, "Clutter Be Gone!".

Don't judge me! (giggle)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Just roll with it

This ran in several Patches, including my home page, Hellertown/Lower Saucon. Did I mention what an awesome editor Josh Popichak is?

I have three fully capable children, not hampered by any type of physical impediment. So why can't they replace the toilet paper?

Instead, they take a roll from the nice little stand next to the toilet, and deposit it on the vanity, where it gets wet from the sink and ultimately, half the roll is of no use.

These are the same children who have taught themselves to play musical instruments, learn complex graphic arts programs, played complicated video games, researched in depth technical papers for school, and taught themselves to knit adorable hats and mittens. But apparently that little spring mechanism is rocket science to them.

And Heaven forbid that they run out of additional rolls on the handy little toilet paper caddy.

I've been amazed at what they do to avoid going into the hall closet, get out one, just one roll, return to the bathroom, and place it on the dispenser. It's as if the hall closet is some foreign land being guarded by the Marines; if they dare open it, death will come swiftly and surely. I've actually gone into their bathroom to find an empty toilet paper dispenser and an expensive box of Puffs Plus roosting precariously on the sink. And three rolls on the caddy.

You have to understand; in order to get to the expensive box of Puffs, you have to bypass the hall closet, where the regular toilet paper is stored, go into another room, walk back, again passing the closet that houses the proper paper, open the plastic shrink wrap and rip the cardboard off the top of the box, and move objects around on the vanity in order plop the Puff's container down.

One time, I decided to conduct a little test. I purposely didn't add the tissue to the handy little stand, which was well within reach, of the, um, "throne".

Next, I took the lone box of Puffs from the living room and put it into my bedroom on my make up table, behind my mirror, camouflaged by tubes of makeup and assorted creams. And waited.

Sure enough, days later, I went into the bathroom, and there sat the box of Puffs. I went into my room, thinking that perhaps they'd found another box somewhere in the house, but no, no; they found the box that I'd hidden. Again, they bypassed the hall closet at least twice in their efforts to avoid attaching a roll of toilet paper to the dispenser.

I've spoken to other moms who seem to have the same problem with their very own minions. One friend, Andrea, finally gave up, and purchased a pole style dispenser, and miracle of miracles, a new roll showed up on the peg. Needless to say, she's elated.

Moms rejoice for the littlest things.

There's also a lack of basic skills with other bath room tasks. It's like some unwritten law that all kid types abide by. I've had to replace a bar of soap that technically can no longer be called a bar. I think the more accurate description is a sliver, so thin that you can read the paper through it.

The pricey hand soap pump that was purchased to match the décor of the bathroom has called the shower stall home more times than I care to admit. So apparently, cardboard soap boxes vex them as well. What makes it worse is that it's made of porcelain and should it break, the result would be an even pricier trip to the emergency room.

What is it about common bathroom and household functions that turn our kids into cavemen, struggling to light a fire?

One time, one of the ferret's toys ended up in the middle of the stairs. I began to bend down to retrieve it, when I had a thought. Why not leave it there and see how long it takes before one of my kids picked it up. At the very least, Ferret would play with it and it wouldn't be there much longer.

The toy was smack dab in the middle of the stairs, in the middle of the tread. The kids would have to step to the side while clinging to the banister in order to avoid it. I was truly optimistic that one of them would move it.

A week later, I finally picked it up.

I was baffled. I could only imagine the Olympic worthy feats they probably employed; hurdling, pole vaulting, tight rope walking, and swan diving were tops on my list of imagined tactics they'd utilized. They'd had to have done something, accessed some kind of other worldly skills, just to keep from picking it up. I even pictured myself holding up score cards.

On the bright side, they really did teach themselves to play musical instruments, and do all that other stuff I told you about at the beginning of my little rant. And they're good kids, making sure that Mother's Day doesn't go unnoticed, for both me and their grandmother. They're quick with a hug, and for the most part, don't mind running to the store and doing other things around the house. Heck, I've even trained them to do the laundry!

I'm continuing to hope that at some point, they'll be able to figure out that befuddling little spring. If not, I can only imagine the phone call in the middle of the night after they've moved out. "Mom, can you come over and put toilet paper on the roll?" I'll laugh really hard.

And then I'd go.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Surviving Valentines' Day

Found out that the Upper Macungie editor on Patch forwarded this article.  It's now running in 5 different cities, with the possibility of a few more.  Yay, me!  (I'm old - I get excited easily)  You can read it online at my homepage on the Hellertown Patch, Nazareth Patch, Upper Macungie, and the Hatboro Patch. I'm pretty sure Lower Macungie will be running it as well - woo hoo!  (Again, sorry, I'm easily amused).  

Anyway, here's my latest installment of silliness.  Up next, teens & the toilet paper dispenser; it has them baffled.

Surviving Valentine's Day

Remember when Valentine's Day was romantic? There were candlelit dinners, the occasional roses, a few stuffed animals and several sparkly baubles in those good old days. Now, you're lucky if you get a burrito from the drive through at the Taco Bell. What happened?

One word – kids.

Once you have kids, going on a date is a huge deal, and you're usually too tired to make the effort. After you've made enough pink cupcakes to circle the globe and purchased boxes of Spiderman cards that say things like "swinging your way", getting dressed and going out is too tiring. Picking up the phone and ordering take out in your sweat pants and fluffy slippers is a little Utopia here on Earth.

Putting on a little black dress requires energy that we just don't have anymore. And small evening bags make us laugh really hard; we now carry suitcase sized purses stuffed to the brim with first aid supplies and enough food to feed a small army.

But men, just because you've been granted a reprieve from the fancy dinner doesn't mean women don't want gifts; the sparklier, the better. We don't let geography get in the way.

You see, for most moms, Valentine's Day has been elevated to a High Holy Day. Christmas is for the children and anniversaries are about the two of you. By now, what used to be a highly anticipated gift getting day, birthdays, are dreaded. We don't want to be reminded of our age. Therefore, by default, Valentine's is "The Day". However, we don't make it easy on you guys.

If you bought flowers, but no candy, you think we're fat. If you bought a silver necklace, why wasn't it gold? We keep forgetting that unlike us, you guys are pretty simple. You don't have ulterior motives, and sometimes a gift is a gift. Well, except when you buy us lingerie – then yeah, you've got ulterior motives.

There are things you should avoid, though. For example, think before you make a public declaration of love. If you take her to a hockey game and have "Marry me, Ashley" flashed on the jumbo screen, there's a pretty good chance that there is more than one Ashley there. Mass hysteria will ensue.

Never bestow upon us anything practical on this High Holy Day. Women have been known to launch vacuum cleaners with the precision of a stinger missile. That Diaper Genie that she's been ogling? Buy it as a Valentine gift, and you'll be wearing it with the sausage-like roll of dirty diapers dangling from your ears.

Handy tip, never give her a present that came from the Wal-Mart. Cutting the tags off and putting it in a Macy's box isn't clever, it's just plain dangerous. We can spot a Wal-Mart gift a mile away, and you'll be in the dog house for days.

Another tip; you may want to avoid is telling her that Valentine's Day is also for men. That's kind of like telling the Bride that it's the Groom's day, too. First she'll laugh; then she'll turn on you. Run. Run very, very fast.

The biggest, most unforgiveable sin, however, is forgetting The Day. The only acceptable excuse for missing it is death and/or imprisonment. You may also want to consider entering the Witness Protection Program. You'll probably spend more money making it up than you would had you just ordered flowers. Sandy beaches and expensive jewelry might be the only way to atone for your sin.

In all seriousness, Valentine's Day isn't about gifts. It's about the time and the thought and remembering that sometimes, two hearts need to take a moment for romance.

Whether you've spent the day explaining that putting on a cape doesn't mean you can fly, digging Lego's out of your feet, pointing out that despite the handy size, the washing machine isn't the best place to bathe the dog, or dealing with towering teens with attitude, it's all about the gesture.

Romance can be found every day in the little things. Take the time to look at your shared history through photographs, and you'll remember how you began your love story. Life goes by so fast and stopping for a minute to let the person you love most in the world know that you appreciate them is itself a precious gift.

Keeping connected, taking care of each other's needs, and saying I love you often are all woven into the fabric that makes up our lives. Those are the things we'll remember long after washing machines are once again being used solely to clean clothes, Lego's have been packed up and the teens are grown.

Of course, there's still nothing wrong with a sparkly, sparkly bauble. Or perhaps you can splurge for the Burrito "Grande".

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

You Say Tomato, I Say Jalapeno

This just ran in the Patch yesterday & today.  I think it's the number one article on Macungie again.  Woo Hoo!

My grocery store had a sale on canned tomatoes, so I'd purchased massive quantities; my family likes all things tomato based. Then when I was making spaghetti sauce, I threw in a can. When I tasted it, though, there were flavor notes that aren't normally found in spaghetti sauce. I don't remember my sauce leaving a hint of "Holy Cows, why is my mouth burning?"

I went looking for the can of tomatoes and realized that I'd dumped a can of "zesty Mexican style with green chilies and jalapenos" into my normally (and much preferred) mild spaghetti sauce. Typically, as one would presume, I prefer sauce that plays nicely with the pasta – instead of setting it on fire.

Opening my cupboard, I realized that I had can after can of the spicy Mexican style, in addition to "Italian style with basil, garlic and oregano" and "fire roasted garlic with sweet onions". There was one lone can of my targeted diced tomatoes. All those cans of Italian style, which would have happily been fortuitous, yet I managed to pick the can of Mexican tomatoes. Another proud Lucy moment for me!

I ended up trying to turn my simmering pot of whatever it was into something that was similar to chili. To this day, I have no clue if my kids were being kind because they felt sorry for me, or if they actually liked it. I'm a mom; I'm going with the latter.

Things like this have begun to happen to me more and more often, but my slow slide into senility has manifested itself most often in the grocery store. For example, my son, Boy, asked me if I was aware that we have two large labs. I joked, "Nope; I thought they were Cocker Spaniels and have been quite surprised by their size explosion."

He proceeded to hold up the tiniest dog bone I'd ever seen. The bones I'd bought were for small breeds – hence the picture of a beagle on the box. I figured it was a doggie close up; at least that's what I told him. He quipped, "Let's hope the bones, like the dogs, take a shocking turn of events and in time, get bigger on their own."

I've brought home bottles of diet soda that I couldn't drink because the artificial sweetener gives me a headache. I've made cakes that rose a foot above the pan (like a soufflé) because I made the recipe according to plan, including the rising ingredients. Unfortunately, I'd accidentally purchased self rising flour.

Here's a head's up, should you ever do that; don't be surprised when as the cake cools, it deflates and you end up with a cantaloupe sized crater in your cake. This has happened to me a few times, for varying reasons (too many to list here). Let's just say that I now make triple batches of icing to cover my myriad of cake-tastrophies. The real trick is to pretend that I meant to do it. I could win an Oscar.

The embarrassing thing is that I remember joining my kids in their good natured ribbing of their grand mother, Gretchen, for the exact same thing! I remember the time she bought a butter substitute that had roasted garlic and olive oil. Now, on toast, that might be really good. But, the combination of garlic and cinnamon bun is a taste treat never to be forgotten; and not in a good way. “Silly Gretchen, how do you not see the label?” we’d tease. Karma takes no prisoners.

Now, she's my only source of comfort as I suffer the volley of jokes lobbed my way after I bring home bottles, cans, and boxes of all manner of unintended items.

These days, my kids enjoy the "sport" of going to the grocery store with me – they're constantly amazed at how my mind works. At the very least, they congregate in the kitchen as I put groceries away – carefully examining and snickering. Let me tell you, I completely intend to have at least one trip back from the store sporting the actual list of items that I went there for in the first place! And I also plan to hit the lottery; they both have pretty much the same chance of happening.

For now, it's entertaining when Gretchen and I go grocery shopping together as it's always an adventure when it's time to put them away. And on the bright side, we've come up with some pretty interesting flavor combinations.

In the meantime, I'm making chili tonight, and I'm bound and determined to dump in the correct can of tomatoes. But who am I kidding? I'll probably dump a can of Italian style in the pot. South of the Italian border chili, anyone?

The Curious Case of the Brunette Lucy

The Curious Case of the Brunette Lucy
She was pretty dumb.