Category Archives: Mondays

We’re baaaaack

Well, we’re sort of back. Matilda and I are still around, it’s just that life has gotten more and more busy and complicated and our schedules are a little more out of sync (opposite side of the globe style) so the writing has taken a precipitous decline. In fact, it was only the ping I received from a friendly seeming chap with a seemingly strong penchant for all things nautical who found us by way of researching a note written by The Sister’s Twit, found inside an old tome on English Naval steam ships. What a beautiful world, right?And while I admire these original Sisters Twit for their show of gratitude and habits of drink and rich foods, I don’t know how I feel about their choice of book as a gift. I’m sure there is some inside joke to it that is forever lost to us. Just seems a bit dry. But the best humor always is, isn’t it? *Cue Oscar Wilde style giggling fit*

I thought I would take this minute, though, to pop into the site and greet all those that come this way. It’s funny how the things we put out into the world on the internet sit suspended like time capsules, waiting to be stumbled over by a wandering explorer. WARNING, WHAT FOLLOWS IS A RANDOM DIATRIBE ABOUT CURRENT DAY INTERNET CULTURE. FEEL FREE TO SKIP THE BELOW PARAGRAPH IF YOU HIGHLY VALUE YOUR TIME OR ARE HERE SOLELY FOR FACT BASED ANALYSIS. WAIT, HOW THE HELL DID YOU END UP HERE? NEVERMIND, YOU GOT NOTHING BETTER TO DO. ANYWAY, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED:

Ok, as a side note, we have got to chill out with the documenting and sharing of our lives online! For crying out loud, no one is that important! Are you really going to go back through your timeline and read all the inane and droning things you posted from when you were in your teens or 20’s? I bet you ARE so full you could die after that second apple fritter, Paula! Thanks for sharing! I get that people want to put ourselves out there and share with our friends but you realize someone is saving all of that, right? Like, everything. And I fear for what the future generations will make of us pioneers of the internet era. People from the early onset of photographic technology used to sit for photos with the most stern, solemn expression upon their faces, not because of the duration of time necessary for the image to process, as often incorrectly surmised, but instead because it was rare to be able to obtain a photographic self image, and it was thought best to use that opportunity to represent yourself in as dignified and poised a manner as possible.  It’s, perhaps inadvertently, created a visual sense of a generation of people who were either kind of sour and ill-tempered or chronically constipated, but also a generation that seemingly felt a sanctity in the capturing of their image for posterity. Obviously things change, and due to the ease and speed at which we can document and chronicle our existences, the act has become as ready and natural as breathing. But, jesus, have we forgotten the art of editing?! I’ll be surprised if people aren’t posting their colonoscopy images on their timelines by year’s end. “Girl, your duodenum is on point! Fleek! #foodtube” But what do I know? I am literally doing the same thing now. I don’t expect anyone to read this nonsense, but I still enjoy the process of creating the nonsense in a way I would not if I were just putting it in a diary or journal. Even if I am writing to no one in particular, putting my thoughts out there confirms they were real. And they may not be deep, and they may not be funny (constipated much?), but they are mine. It confirms that I am, and one day, that I was. I just think there are more prosocial ways to prove our existence than dumping out soap bottles and whispering on Youtube and sharing our every movement and meal. But you do you. Just keep in mind what goes on the internet, stays on the internet. FOREVER. OK, RANT END.

So, back to my original point…ah yes! That this site sits suspended online and in time, a capsule of interactions from a specific era in my and my sister’s respective lives. I was pregnant with my first child (I made another one, too!) she had three tiny knee-highs that are now brilliant, talented, amazing people-kids (that are closer to shoulder-highs, I’d say, but I’m tall). We are now even farther apart geographically, and sadly to say, with regards to how often we talk and especially see each other. It really is a damn shame. I never thought I would be so far from her, but I also have a rabid independence that has always been part of my psyche. It looks more like dependence now that I am linked with a partner whose work takes us flying around the globe like a ping pong ball in a dryer (which is a god awful analogy because we aren’t traveling inside the surface of the planet nor across the interior core of molten iron. *sigh*) But my willingness to uproot has been in part because I have not often sought the easier path, even when it has rich rewards and is in so many, many ways, well, easier. It is a tremendous regret that my travels have kept me physically distant from Matilda and her fam, the inevitable result being, that we are deprived so many countless opportunities to advance our groundbreaking joint research in perpetual motion as facilitated by our patented laughter-powered tickle machine. The next one will be the breakthrough, Mat! But in addition, we miss so many opportunities to share in the joys and victories and provide comfort in the disappointments as they arise. To see the growth that happens right before your eyes as children awaken each day to the unending wonders that inhabit the world. But, on the plus side, she and her whole posse will be visiting us soon, and it is this lady’s intention to make every minute count!

I will be sure to update after they come, and to start putting up more random blabberings of a woman left to her own frightful devices. Because, why not? It’s for the sake of posterity.

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Chopped: Judgment Day

I was inspired by Matilda’s “Next Food Network Star” post, so I decided to do my own review on the cooking show I happen to watch on an almost nightly basis. I blame my husband for getting me started, but by now we’ve both found ourselves sucked into the “love to hate it” vortex that is the Food Network’s “Chopped”. If you are not familiar with the show, the gist is as follows:

Ted Allen. This shit is serious.

Ted Allen, the food fashionista first made known by Queer Eye, hosts this hour long competition where four chefs vie to be the Chopped Champion and take home the glory and ten thousand smackaroos.  There are three rounds, appetizers, entrees, and desserts,  and one person is eliminated after every round. There is a panel of three judges, usually successful chefs (I guess) who I’ve never seen or heard of before Chopped (except for Aaron Sanchez, whom I’ve seen in commercials for queso fresco. I know it’s him because the way he says “QUE-so Frrrrrrrrrresco” is so unforgettable). They rate the dishes based on presentation, taste, and creativity.  The clincher in Chopped is the basket. The Chopped basket holds the secret ingredients which each contestant must use successfully each round, and will contain anything from gummy worms to goat brains.

So that’s it essentially. They give four chefs some absurd ingredients and 20 mins to dazzle them with flavors. The parts that are so comically delicious about “Chopped” to my husband and I are the editing and the stereotypes. The “Chopped” producers seem to want to get across each chef’s unique culinary vision as well, as long as it can be neatly expressed in one or two sentences and repeated ad nauseum throughout the episode and at completely random times. Whether it’s “I studied in France” or “I used to be a drug addict” or “I’m a lesbian whose cousin has breast cancer”, you will hear nothing from the contestant that does not relate directly to this their relevant feature or their dish. It will come up when they are running out of time. “I waited to cook my fish til the very last minute, but I’m a recovering gambling addict so I love to take risks.” Ok, I made that up, but you get the idea, right? The best is during the judging panel.

If you can’t take the heat…wear shorts like the guy on the end.

Inevitably one or more of the judges will find fault with a chef’s dish. Either the execution was lacking or they didn’t adequately incorporate the jawbreakers and squid ink into the appetizer. The scene will often play out as follows:

Judge: “I found your use of citrus to be very overwhelming in this dish.”

Chef: “Well, after my grandmother was bludgeoned to death by a baby, excessive sourness seemed somehow appropriate.”

Judges: “…..”

When it comes to reality shows, I tend to blame the producers for making the contestants seem totally unhinged and disassociated from what is going on around them. I imagine the heavy editing cut out the part where men in black suits encircled the contestant, shining maglites in her face and demanding to know why there’s sadness in her eyes. On the other hand, some of the chefs seem to embrace the “wear your life story like it’s going out of style” party line.  The chefs that irk us the most are probably those from New Orleans, excuse me, NAH LINS. AND DON’T EVER SAY IT OTHERWISE, YANKEE SCUM!

I get it, they are from a beautiful, diverse, and culturally vibrant city that has experienced a great deal of hardship and obscurity. There’s nothing wrong with taking pride in the place you are from and wanting to represent it. But it can make for shitty TV! It’s just so predictable. Stirring mascarpone into some almond butter? Please talk about how Katrina displaced your son’s family. It is sad, it was a terrible tragedy, but the way it is just hammered at you while the chefs are braising venison butt makes it feel more exploitative than poignant.”Chopped” would make for a sensational drinking game.  Determine each contestant’s “identity” during the introduction section then drink every time they make reference to it. Heavy drinkers, keep your eye on the lesbians and former drug addicts.

The final word.

And then there are the judges. Look, these folks obviously know what they are talking about. They know when meats are properly cooked, they know how to prepare all sorts of exotic fruits and grains, most of which I’ve never heard of, much less tasted. So, I must rely heavily on what the judges say about each meal to get a sense of what the chefs created. They usually seem pretty spot on, though they can differ wildly in their expectations and preferred treatments. One day, it’s a sign of the chef’s laziness to put an ingredient on the plate in its natural form. The next, it’s a sign of having confidence in the ingredient. If I were ever to compete on this show, I would be paralyzed by indecision, knowing too well it could go either direction. (Then again, I can barely make palatable food using mainstream ingredients, so who the hell would put me on “Chopped”?) Though, I would know to steer clear of lentils, because everybody fucks those up.

Overall, it’s a fun show that appeals both to the culinarily minded (my husband) and the not so much (me). He likes to watch to see what surprising food combinations will be concocted, and I like to watch to see what disgusting health violations contestants will make. (My favorite was the Israeli soldier who cut himself and was bleeding profusely but who continued to make tuna rolls without gloves.) We both like to watch to make fun of the absurd use of stereotypes.

Can’t contain this dish.


Are you a fan? Do you disagree with my assessment? Any other observations I left out? Leave a comment! PLEASE! LEAVE A COMMENT! I’M NOT DESPERATE!

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A Culinary Point of View™: My Next Food Network Star Application

We all want to be this “Guy”

Has anyone else been watching the Next Food Network Star and thought, “hell, I could do that”! Oh, everyone? Ok. Well that’s because the Next Food Network Star is a culinary competition in which culinary prowess, knowledge, or experience are not required. What do you need to win? A Culinary Point of View™ and some guidance from one of the Food Network’s top-notch mentors, Iron Chef and probable adulterer Bobby Flay, rumored nymphomaniac and real-life bobble-head Giada De Laurentiis , and my favorite crabapple, Alton Brown.

The esteemed culinary mentors

But as we’ve seen from season after season of the show, finding your own Culinary Point of View™ isn’t that easy. Because your Culinary Point of View™ has to simultaneously reflect your “true voice” and be “responsive to criticism” from Bob and the Sooze. And what Bob and the Sooze want depends on the week, the season, and possibly whatever chemicals are laced in their self-tanner.

For example, while Bob and the Sooze loved Ippy’s authentic Hawaiian style at the beginning of the season, now they’ve decided that he’s too “laid-back”. Isn’t that like accusing someone from Minnesota as being too nice? That’s what Hawaii is about, guys. That’s called Hawaiian style. Oh, you want him to be his authentic self, but in a more frenetic way? That’s helpful, thanks.

Ippy’s got too much Aloha

Or how about when they eliminated previous favorite Emily for having a mediocre week and kept Giada’s “fiery hot Latina” Martita? The same Martita who finished her promo 30 seconds early and instead of trying to fill the time smiled wide-eyed at the judges for 30 Seconds. Of. Dead. Air. Oh, you didn’t want them to even try to do the challenge this week, Bob and the Sooze? I’m sure if you had told Emily what you wanted she could stand in awkward and confused silence for even longer than 30 seconds!

Martita, pretending like nobody can see her. And it worked!

The rampant discrepancies and conspiracy-like eliminations are almost making me think that winners and losers are decided by a complicated calculus of Network need, focus groups, demographic pull, and the aforementioned toxic self-tanner, instead of the actual challenges themselves. There, I’ve said it. The Next Food Network Star may be rigged.

This isn’t going to stop me from applying for next season. As some of you already know, I like to cook. I make salad dressing from scratch! And bread! And I soak my own beans! In Food Network parlance, I’m not a occasionally better than average home cook- I’m self-taught with a unique Culinary Point of View™. And the fact that I can’t tell you the difference between a hollandaise and béarnaise doesn’t matter. Because my ignorance is relatable! Who wants to learn how to cook from someone who knows interesting information about food when I can add a pouch of powdered ranch dressing to a casserole and tell stories about my Nan? That’s right, nobody.

The following are real questions from the Next Food Network Star application. I can’t make this stuff up.

Complete this sentence: If I were an ingredient, I would be…….

How can I answer this without it becoming a sexual innuendo? Um, salt? Because it’s in everything? Damn it, that doesn’t work. Okay, how about tomatoes? Because of the way their taut skin bursts in your mouth? Never mind. Breadcrumbs? Because they are getting old? They make everything crunchy when submerged in hot oil? Ugh, I give up.

Is there a non-perverted way to answer this question? People aren’t food, after all.

Unless……if I were an ingredient I would be Soylent Green. Because Soylent Green IS PEOPLE! IT’S PEOPLE! And there’s nothing sexy about that.

What is your unique Culinary Point of View™?

I’m not sure what to put here. I’m guessing that my real Culinary Point of View™, food that your kids won’t want to eat isn’t going to fly with the Food Network. And shows about Healthy! Delicious! Organic! Foods! That your kids WILL eat! are often a joke. (Case in point, when Nikki served a “kid-friendly Kale smoothie” to a group of gagging 10 year olds.) Kids are crazy. Some things they like, some things they don’t. Sure they are often more picky than many adults, but their list of likes and dislikes are impossible to generalize. My son loves Kale chips and hates pizza. My daughter could eat Fettuccini Alfredo for every single meal of her life but will not drink a glass of chocolate milk. She likes cashews, he likes almonds. See what I mean? It’s a boring show idea, because there is no “kid food” and that’s why these contestants never win.

Bob and the Sooze: The Orange Masterminds

Okay, here’s another idea for a Culinary Point of View™. How about The Boozy Chef? I’ll focus exclusively on recipes requiring the hard stuff and drink the leftovers as I cook. How about Grand Marnier French Toast, or Hooch strawberry salad dressing? Or what about potatoes two ways? I’ll just put some potatoes in the oven to roast and drink some vodka. I have a feeling the Sooze is going to love this one.

Unfortunately, I drank so much prepping my recipes that I can’t pull it together to fill out all ELEVEN pages of the application. So nobody will ever know what kind of role I generally play in groups, what topics are off limits to me at a dinner party, or other highly relevant food-related information. Maybe I’ll work on finding my adaptable authentic voice in the meantime.

What’s your unique Culinary Point of View™?


Filed under Culinary, Humor, TV shows

How to (Not) Support Your Partner Upon His Vasectomy: A Step-by-Step Guide

So, he’s going to get the big V! You’ve debated about it for hours, days, or years and finally decided that his swimmers are getting kicked out of the pool for good. For my husband and I, it was less a rational discussion and more of a battle cry oft repeated through a complicated third pregnancy. L’Shana Haba’ah Vasectomy! Although our dedication to sterility waned a bit immediately after our beautiful baby was born, a few months later we looked again at our three children under five, our inability to save or find me a job to cover the cost of daycare, and our seemingly unending future of sleep deprivation torture, and decided to do the snip.

The Vasectomy: This time it’s HIS turn

Assuming that your partner has been like mine, a true mensch and a source of support and (most of the time) assistance through long pregnant days and sleepless newborn nights, you’ll want to extend the same courtesy to him for what is a psychologically daunting procedure. Men do seem to care a great deal about their balls. I don’t understand it, but I can be there for him. That’s why I’ve created this simple step-by-step guide- your partner will be so thankful.

1. Act Casual

It’s not a big deal, this whole thing, right? In fact, you should be like me and model such excellent nonchalance that he’ll think that you actually forgot about it. And that you didn’t schedule a babysitter or actively plan to be at his side. Okay, maybe you did do that, but you did make some last minute calls when he asked why you didn’t plan to come to his (minor!!!) surgical procedure. That counts!

2. Express Support and Concern

When he does seem like he wants to discuss the upcoming procedure, be there to hear his concerns. And voice your own, of course. About his health, and about the fact that you won’t be able to have any more babies any more ever, and doesn’t he think that the timing is a little crazy and that this decision is a little rash, after all? Why make it permanent? Sure, you don’t plan on having more children- but what’s wrong with condoms for the next 12-15 years that you remain fertile? They don’t bother you!

3. Document the Process

Even though he might be feeling apprehensive and a little irritable, make sure to take pictures of the process to document it for your blog. He’ll thank you later, I promise.

This is not annoying at all

4. Encourage Recovery

After the procedure, go ahead and leave him and the three kids at home while you rush to the pharmacy to pick up his Vicodin prescription. If there happens to be a long line, feel free to sit and wait in the lobby area. If there are a few new US Weekly magazines to peruse while you wait, no problem. He and the kids will be fine.

5. Maintain Comforting Routines

After a traumatic incident, it’s often best to keep up with your normal routines. If he regularly wakes up at dawn with the kids on Saturday while you sleep in, why change that now? That icepack he was up changing all night long was sure to keep down the swelling.

6. Help Transition Back to Normalcy

Although taking narcotics post-procedure is helpful, your partner might need you to suggest backing off of the heavy-duty stuff or transitioning to Ibuprofen instead. Even if he had what his urologist called “a bleeder,” for safety purposes he should ease off the Vicodin. Because he’s got to save some for you! (Note: I’m just kidding!)

Houston, we have a bleeder

7. Harness His Other Sources of Support

Make sure that others can also support him by letting all of them know. Is he walking a tad funny? Point it out in a loud and clear voice so that they don’t have to worry. Does his bulge seemingly protrude? Assure everyone that’s it is just an icepack from his recent vasectomy! No cause for alarm!

8. Be Authentic to Your Own Emotions

As carefully as you’ve handled his concerns and fears, you must find the space to share your own to preserve the balance in your relationship. So if he forwards you a birth announcement from an acquaintance four days after the procedure, feel free to let those tears flow. You’ll never have another newborn, after all. At least not with him.

Estimated Cost of Family Planning/Creation Procedures:
You- $78,000 (3 births)
Him- 35 bucks

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Holy Guacamole!!!!

Buenos dias a la cucina de Carlita!! Ok, my Spanish is severely limited and pitiful for a girl who grew up in California, but I still have a deep and pervasive love of Spanish, and especially Mexican, cuisine. At least once a week I have burrito night and it’s just about the most extensive I get when it comes to cooking. But I’m getting better!

Bout to mash these suckers!

Avocado means testicle. Just thought you’d like to know.

One thing I definitely love to make is delicious homemade guacamole. The recipe I use is hardly the most elaborate or unique, but it’s easy and delicious and I love it!

What You’ll Need:

The supplies.

  • 2 medium sized avocados
  • Quarter onion, all diced up nice like
  • A small tuft of cilantro, finely chopped
  • Hot sauce
  •  Fresh garlic clove (or garlic powder)
  • Tbsp. Lime juice
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Optional tomato

Split in two!



Step One: Take those avos and cut them in half. If you have never dealt with avocados before, you should note there is a giant, hard seed inside each one, so you have to cut around this and then pull the halves apart. To remove the seed, I thwack my knife into it and then holding the avocado skin, rotate the knife. The sucker will come right out. The hardest part is then getting the seed off the knife. Knock it against the table a few times. Don’t blame me if your dull your knife in the process, though!

Now, spoon the insides of those 4 avocado halves into a big bowl, like in figure 3. Mash them up with a fork.


Figure 3. Mashing the avos.

Step Two: Pour in tablespoon of lime juice. You can use fresh lime, which I normally use, but good old bottled lime juice will work, too. If you use fresh lime, cut it into quarters and squeeze that yumminess into the mix.

Step Three: Onion!! Chop that thing up like it’s nobody’s business. I like the pieces to be very small (finely diced might be the fancy schmancy term).

ON-YON! (Say it like that, it’s fun.)

Slide that into your avo mush.


Step Four: Cilantro. This is how much I used. It is not exact science here. Wash the cilantro thoroughly, then strip the leaves off the stems. This part is kind of annoying, but you get the hang of it. It should look like this.

Separated from the stems and ready to get chopped!

Now dice that greenery up! It’s fun. Dangerous, but fun.

Dice, dice, dice!


Step Five: Pour in a a good couple pinches garlic powder. You can chop up a fresh clove, which would be more delicious, but I forgot to do so and just used the powder. I still think it’s yummy. Notice I even have a clove of garlic out for the first picture. Pregnancy brain strikes again.

Shameless substitute. I’d go for the real stuff.

Step Six: Add 8-10 drops of hot sauce into the mix. This really depends on your taste. I love spicy, bold flavors, so I load that shit on. But, it’s fine to show some restraint.

Step Seven: Add salt and pepper to taste. BONUS TIP: Taste your guacamole at this point. Does it taste too acidic? If so, add a little bit of sugar. This will counter the acidity nicely. Normally, I don’t really measure the ingredients. I just pour them in willy-nilly and take numerous sample tastes throughout the cooking process. By the end, there’s only half what I started with and I’ve compensated and counter measured multiple times. WHAT?! I never claimed to be Julia Child!


Step Eight: Stir it up!!!! Here, you can also chop up that tomato, taking out the gushy seed parts and then putting it in. I really can’t stand tomato, so I skip this step. But it does add some nice color.

Step Nine: Make it look fancy!


The finished product! Delectable!!

I added paprika to give it some color.

Step Ten: ENJOY!! Can you believe how drawn out I was able to make this whole process?

Let me know what you think of this recipe, my presentation, my amazing photography, or whatever else is on your mind! Also, don’t forget to follow our blog so that you can keep up with each of our exciting installments!!




Filed under Culinary, Mondays

A Word or Two About Sisters….

This is how we roll.

I was going to write up a post I’ve been planning- A Critical Analysis of “Chopped” on the Food Network, but I want to take this moment instead to put into writing my thoughts of the day.

When I think about all the things I have going for me, I can’t help but feel pretty awesome. My life is not perfect, and I will be the first to tell you: I am not perfect. I have, like, 18 million flaws. (I’ve learned they become immediately less off-putting if you call them “quirks”). But, despite my many shortcomings, I still have an awesome husband who loves me bunches and has my back and makes me snort with laughter. Said husband and I are in the process of cooking a baby (as in I’m pregnant, not a cannibal), which is kinda gross and uncomfortable, but still pretty awesome.   Also, I have two wonderful puppy dogs that can bring me so much joy even with the slightest wiggle of their nubs (their breed is a nub one, not a tail one).

I am so grateful for all these things that have come to me during my years. You know what else I’m grateful for? The fact that my best friend, greatest confidante, and biggest role model in life is my big sis, Matilda.

A lot of people don’t like their families, and you can’t really blame them. Some families are absolute shit!  My sister isn’t my best friend because she’s my sister. She’s my best friend because she’s fucking awesome! The fact that she’s my sister is just a huge bonus.

Maybe we have a more special bond because we have similarities, or grew up with so many of the same experiences. But we are also very different. She has patience and self-control where I have impulsive irritability. She has a sensitive digestive system whereas I have the intestinal fortitude of a monster truck. She can be more reserved while I am jumping headfirst off the cliffs of uncertainty. The fact is, when I have lacked confidence in myself, my sister has always been there to make me feel genuinely good about myself. Not by coating over things with saccharine platitudes, but by giving me real perspective. She also calls me on my shit if I’m acting ridiculous. No one else (excepting my husband) does that.

Watching my sister with her children is probably when I feel most proud of her. She is such an attentive, engaged, loving, and fun mother to her kids. Those kids just have no idea how lucky they are (granted, the oldest is 5 so they’ll figure it out one day). She is cautious and thoughtful with her children and yet relaxed, not overbearing, not anxiety-ridden. All I can do is hope I will be half the mother she is.

my sister is brilliant. She has a thousand degrees. But she doesn’t make me feel inferior to her and never has, even when I had zero direction in my life and was, by all appearances and according to my mother, a total screw-up. Matty still believed in me. She protected me when we were kids, and she still does today.

As a side note, she and her husband and their children are the only ones in my family who have made my husband feel loved and respected by my family. The rest either never took the time to get to know him, or judged him (and me) based on his career choice. Not cool. Most of my marriage I’ve felt embarrassed by some of the bad behavior my husband has seen from my family. But I rub the awesomeness of my sister and her fam in his face! And he’s all, “I get it! They’re awesome!! Stop it now!” And I’m like, daaaaaamn straight.  Matilda is an exceptional person, and the fact that I get to be her sister makes me so happy.

Why all the sappy outpouring? Because, I think it’s important to let people know what they mean to you. And because the fact that we’re sisters can mean that we’re expected to be close or have a decent relationship. But I know that my sister means so much to me because of the person she is, not because we have the same parents.  I’m sure this isn’t interesting to anyone who doesn’t know us, but I don’t give a damn, this is for my sister! I’m so proud of you, Matilda, and I’m really happy and grateful that you are my sister. Thanks for everything you do and all you put up with. Can’t wait to see you live and in person again.  I love you!


Filed under Mondays

5 Free Ways to Entertain Imprisoned Children: Saving Lives, One Car Trip at a Time

Minivans are awesome!

Have you seen those Swag Wagon™ commercials? Oh wait, of course you have. For a while there they couldn’t be escaped, and they were indeed mildly amusing. I say “mildly”, because the premise that minivans can actually be cool is not a huge shocker for me. Minivans are awesome. They are functional, they are easy to drive, they won’t topple over when there are high winds on the freeway, and most importantly, your kids can safely be seated far away from you.

Unfortunately, even when they are all the way back in the third row, you are still going to hear them. Especially if your Swag Wagon™ is not Swagged out with DVD or video game players, like ours (the SwagishWagon™?).

Buying entertainment for them can quickly get expensive. This last weekend things got so desperate in the Swagish Wagon™ that I found myself running into a coffee shop with Wifi in order to download $30.00 of children’s audiobooks, while my husband ducked flying feces in the minivan. Just kidding! (The flying feces was from another time.) DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU.

But with a little preparation, there’s no need to spend any money in order to entertain your kids on your next car trip. And I’m not talking about the old tried and true methods of junky snacks and endless “I Spying”. The following options won’t fuel the obesity epidemic, and allow for moments of thoughtful conversation or mutually silent contemplation up in the front. Just make sure the speakers are on only in the back!

1. Molly and the Sugar Monster

This free podcast chronicles the adventures of the Sugar Monster and his adorable foil, Molly. Each episode is quite short, but they are funny enough that kids will want to listen to them over and over again.

2. Elmo’s Adventures in Spending, Saving, and Sharing

In this series of short podcasts, Elmo learns about financial responsibility through conversations with his father. (Note to Wall Street). Elmo is his charming self, and kids will learn about ATMs, debit cards, and most importantly, the concept of “value”.

3. Pinky Dinky Doo

Pinky’s got a story, she knows just what to do! If your kids have seen the PBS cartoon series, then you are as familiar as you ever wanted to be with Pinky, her little brother, and their rock star guinea pig. Although this series was originally designed as a video, it translates well to a podcast. Each episode is about 10 minutes long and introduces a new vocabulary word. Pinky Dinky Doo can be blamed for the following conversation between my husband and our three-year old:

Three-year old: Daddy, did you have ice cream for dessert?

Husband: Yes

Three-year old: I did too! Isn’t that a cacophony?

Husband: Do you mean coincidence?

Three-year old: Yeah, a cacophony is when it’s raining cats and dogs and they are making a lot of noise.

4. Keith M. Bower’s Free Stories for Children

This series of free fairy tales are well-narrated familiar stories such as Hansel and Gretel or Jack and the Beanstalk. The narrator has a nice, expressive voice, although they may have been recorded in a closet somewhere as the audio is not perfect. A note of warning, however. While the first 3 podcasts on this list are great for kids 8 and under, these are not sanitized or modernized versions of fairy tales. The o.g. versions contain some scary stuff, with parental abandonment, murder, starvation, etc…. Older kids will love how gruesome they are, but stick to Elmo or the Sugar Monster for the youngest kids.

5. Free Audiobooks from your Local Library

In addition to the audiobooks on CD that libraries have in their collections, many are now offering digital audiobooks that can be downloaded over the internet. My library has hundreds of available audiobooks- may sure to check yours for information!

What are your favorite free family podcasts?

Not me, or my husband

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Technical Difficulties….

Where’s Pippi Longstocking when you need her?

Well, I was gearing up to try and figure out how to throw together a delightfully entertaining food related post in keeping with our themes, when our dishwasher began spewing suds across the kitchen floor a la creature from the deep. Or perhaps the Blob. Instead of staging the perfect food photos in my apple dappled apron, I was stuck mopping and sopping up the endless suds eking out of the dish machine. Any clue as to what could cause this?

The event was reminiscent of a time when I was around 7 or 8. My grandparents were watching my sister and I while our parents were off globetrotting. The day began with us witnessing our dog get hit by a truck in front of the school bus. I grabbed her limp form and held her as she breathed her last. The bus driver was awkwardly perched at the edge of our drive, witnessing the tragic scene. Perhaps we should have waved her on. Instead, my grandparents shuffled us onto the bus, tears streaming down our reddened cheeks.  Later in the day, the dishwasher began spewing clouds of suds onto the wood floor and around the kitchen island. Grandma had used dish-washing fluid in the newfangled contraption instead of dish washer fluid, as is made specifically for the device. That was the last time I have seen such a comedic kitchen spectacle. I assure you, I did not confuse my fluids, and yet, the cause of this disturbing occurrence is a complete mystery to me.

When I had finally cleared the soap and water from the floor I set on my way to continue with creating my culinary content. Alas! I was thwarted. My camera battery is completely dead, no charger to be found, and my phone is going through it’s dramatic death throes and will no longer take pictures (its last image is the above, perhaps the sight of the soap emotionally overwhelmed my poor camera phone?). So, I figure there’s no use posting my delightful guacamole recipe with out showing you pictures of it. Fear not, brave reader, the time will soon come!

So for today, no recipe. Now, I’m off to don my scrubber shoes and slide across the parquet with Pippi!

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To compensate for my lack of posting: Cutest puppy ever!

ImageThis is Pen Pen and my husband. She now weighs nearly 70lbs. and just turned 2. She is my protector, confidante, and cuddle bug (at least when my husband isn’t around). Sorry we haven’t get up with the schedule, there is plenty more Sister’s twit coming! But for now, cuteness! She’s an Australian Shepherd, by the way.



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The Devastation of Prop 1

I know that today I’m supposed to put up a post regarding a newfangled product or fashion trend. For my part, I had planned on keeping this blog lighthearted and whimsical. There is so much hostility, criticism, and anger on the Internet already, it’s nice to find a sweet solace to escape the pettiness and aggression. But after the vote that took place yesterday in North Carolina, I cannot help but express the deep sadness I feel as a result of the passing of proposition 1. I feel this is such an immense injustice, a regressive backwards tactic that reeks of vitriol and hatred, all in the name of pseudo-righteous principles. Brace yourself, this could get long.

I live in Fayetteville, NC. This is the hometown of the Berean Baptist church pastor Sean Harris, the one who gained coverage a week or so ago because of a sermon in which he encourages parents to “punch” and otherwise physically punish children who seemed to be acting gay. Four-year-old son demonstrating a limp wrist? Crack that wrist, says Harris. It was hearing of this man’s encouragement to his congregation that made me start to question whether or not Prop 1 would pass. Previously, I couldn’t conceive of it. I know same-sex marriage has been banned in numerous other states, including my home state of California (thankfully, that was overturned by the courts). But Prop 1 goes an additional step. Prop 1 bans any sort of civil-union from being acknowledged. Prop 1 is not simply a matter of “defending the sanctity” of marriage, it is intended to deprive homosexuals as many rights as possible. It prevents those who have received same-sex marriage licenses in other states from receiving any acknowledgment or benefits in NC. How many people lost their partnership rights when this amendment passed? How many same-sex couples have now lost bedside rights? Insurance benefits? What is the parental status of same-sex partners who have adopted children?

When I saw that prop 1 had definitely passed, I could almost hear a collective wail from the thousands of people whom this bill will negatively effect. These are people who want what is one of the most comforting, loving things that exist for us as people: The ability to commit yourself for life to that one individual with whom you share a deep connection. They inspire you to be better, they support you during your lowest moments, they are the content of your heart’s sweetest memories. Having a spouse gives you an anchor in a fleeting, and often fickle world. How could anyone take that away from another and then call himself a Christian?

Banning same-sex marriage does not diminish the love that those couples share for each other. If anything, their endurance through this blatant hate-fueled deprivation only stands as testimony to the devotion and strength of their bonds. There are gay couples that have withstood decades of hardship and have never been acknowledged by their governments or even communities. Prop 1 has not diminished them. Prop 1 has diminished the rest of us.

When prop 8 passed in California, I was not yet married. The prospect disgusted me, particularly as the film “Milk” came out only weeks afterwards. I felt powerless and depressed. But as I’m moved around the country and built my life with my own partner, I put it out of my mind. It is so easy to do when you’re in a straight relationship. When my partner proposed to me right before he departed for bootcamp, I was overjoyed. It wasn’t something I was expecting, and hadn’t really played out the details in my mind, but with his burgeoning career and the complications the military brings, it made perfect sense. We’d been together a year, we loved each other deeply, and it just felt right. We opted for a tiny, quick ceremony between boot camp and OCS (officer candidate school). Matilda performed the ceremony for us. This was in 2010.

Yesterday, for the first time in two years, I felt disgusted by my marriage. Not because of my husband, he’s as wonderful as ever. I’m disgusted that I opted to participate in an institution that would deprive millions of others the same right, due to their sexual orientation. I found joy and solace in my hetero-normative privilege, without hesitation. We walked into an office, signed a couple forms, and were given a certificate with a gold seal. Now, my husband’s pay is higher because we are married. I have full medical benefits through the military. I was immediately given a military ID, which carries a number of benefits. I am welcomed into the social circles and gatherings, where I can meet other spouses for friendship and support. If something were to happen to my husband, I would receive his insurance benefits. I would be notified by the army. I would be permitted to see him at his hospital bedside. We’ve been married less than two years. A same-sex couple, together for decades, receives none of these benefits. What use is it to recall Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell when we still don’t acknowledge those soldiers’ partners?

I am so tired of hearing how “marriage is between a man and a woman, it says so in the bible”. Really? Do you mean marriage is between a man and a thousand women? Because that’s how many wives Solomon had. Does the bible condemn homosexuality? Yes, it does. In the same section as it condemns shellfish and wearing blended fabric. They are ALL abominations. It does not say shellfish is bad, but homosexuality is really really fucking bad. No. The language is the same.

The banning of same-sex marriage is not a religious issue. It’s one of bigotry and homophobia. It’s an act of hate, of intolerance, of pettiness. It strips legal standing from so many people without giving any material benefit to those who have voted it into place. The only benefit is the smug satisfaction that they have taken away something precious from those who they are disgusted by. Then they pat themselves on the back and call themselves holy. Why should a law be allowed to pass that judges a person’s loving, consensual adult relationship based on one biblical interpretation (many Christians are not prejudiced against homosexuals)? How does the existence of same-sex relationships harm or hinder the lives of those that do believe it is a sin? I had sex out of wedlock. I wear polyester blends. Oh, and I don’t believe in god or in Jesus. Those are sins far worse when it comes to the bible. And yet my marriage is recognized, and my status is unquestioned.

I wish I could hug every LGBTQ member in North Carolina. I wish I could smack everyone who voted for prop 1. Instead, I can only promise that I will raise my children (starting with this one incubating in my belly) to know what true tolerance is. They will know the constitution, and the founding values (which include the separation of church and state). I look forward to the day when I meet the same-sex spouses of my husband’s colleagues at military banquets. When I read of recent lesbian engagements in the Fayetteville Observer. I look forward to the day when hatred can be called hatred, whether based on religion or no, and love can be called marriage, with no regard to gender.

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