Even in 2012 I still know a few people who sit down and write an annual Christmas letter that they send out to all their friends and family with the Christmas card. And yes, they’re all old people who aren’t into properly TMI-ing people with their lives on a blog, facebook or twitter year-round like the rest of society. Normally the idea of having to read someone’s Christmas letter makes me want to keel over and start snoring, but Rayleen's mom Barbara is a master of some of the most unintentionally amusing and hilarious Christmas letters I've ever seen. I accidentally got one years ago, and after I read it I begged to make sure I'd continue get one every year.
This year’s letter from Barbara was once again packed with so much awesome I had to sit down to read it. She talked frankly about various family members’ medical problems (If they wanted to keep the information about them being on death’s door private, it’s too late now!). She ate some jerky made from a cougar one of her brothers shot, which in her words “…tasted like pork. Weird!” See, she lives out in the country (in Oregon) where she regularly has run-ins with cougars and bears on her ranch in addition to the usual elk and deer during hunting season and various other wild animals year round. In fact, she has a dedicated freezer in which she keeps the bodies of all the random animals she shoots so she can get them stuffed later, and yes it also still has her regular food in it.
However, my favorite part of her letter was when she was talking about her house issues, due in part to her dog’s failing health.
"I had to put Larry’s lap dog down [Larry was her husband. She is a widow now.] and that was hard. Because I work from 8 to 10 hours a day when I do work, there are times where he would be in the house for 10 to 12 hours and of course the one room where I had carpet that’s where he would pee, poop and throw up. I tried putting him in a dog kennel but he didn’t howl but screamed so I kept him in the house. I shampooed the carpet and got rid of the smell and stains or so I thought. In May I had a friend came to visit and she said "this house smells like dog pee". I was surprised and said "I don’t smell anything" and she responded with "obviously not, so what are you going to do about it?" This was and ‘is’ a true friend. I mean, I have had other people come to visit and not one said a thing but I am sure they did behind my back [emphasis mine, I mean is this not super hilarious??], so I decided I am going to remove the carpet and have laminate flooring put down because I don’t want my house to smell.”
After I finished the rest of her letter, I sat back and just let the gift of this crazy woman’s perspective on life wash over me. It also made me feel like I should start writing her Christmas letters of my own each year, but nothing in my life seems like it would top her adventures. She’s also inadvertently funny, which isn’t something that can be faked, trust me.
Final note: Want to read more stuff about the holidays that is hilarious? Samantha’s how to survive the holidays post (it even includes an awesome holiday letter template) over at her blog, bitches gotta eat. Actually, you should be reading her blog all the time because she is fantastically funny!
Last week I decided to try out a homemade deodorant recipe that I’d found on—where else—Pinteret. The problem is, for as long as I’ve been aware, I have known that I was stinkier than the average person. I can take a shower and if I don’t apply deodorant right away, I will pretty much start to have BO a few hours later. I love summer, but I’ve always dreaded it because wearing sleeveless shirts and dresses in the heat accelerates The Stink. I’ve tried all kinds of antiperspirants and deodorants, and when the clinical strength ones started coming out, I switched to those even though they were twice as expensive and not much more effective. Knowing my history of Stink, I had very low expectations that something made with all natural ingredients was going to be powerful enough to curb it. If harsh chemicals couldn’t fix it, what chance did mere baking soda, cornstarch and coconut oil have?
It’s been nearly a week, and oh my god, what a difference! I have put this stuff through all the usual scenarios and it’s passed with flying colors! I’ve even worn shirts and dresses made with rayon (which usually makes me extra stinky because the fabric is non-absorbent), and there’s still no smell! My shirts don’t even stink when I put them in the hamper! I don’t have to wash my dresses after only wearing them one time! I’ve even worked up a sweat, and there’s no odor afterwards! It doesn’t even leave the usual white/yellow stains on my clothes! I’ve been walking around this whole time sniffing myself in amazement and wishing that I could grab all my friends and make them smell my armpits to show off my new, non-stinky self, but I realize that would be a little weird. I’ve managed to contain myself, for now.
Now, this mixture isn’t an anti-perspirant, so if you sweat a lot, you will still sweat a lot. But if you’re like me (or even a normal person who’s not that smelly who’d like to have a cheap, natural alternative to the stuff in the store) and don’t sweat a lot but just have a lot of BO, this recipe is awesome and I highly recommend making it and using it. All it is is 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup cornstarch (you can sub with arrowroot powder if you like), and 6 tablespoons of coconut oil (Not melted. Use in its solid state). Mix together until well incorporated, and either shove it into an old deodorant container or a regular container with a lid and apply with your fingers. I hope that you will also become so impressed that you get the urge to start grabbing random people and forcing them to smell your armpits!
The decision to make 2012 the year I took my eating habits seriously* began at a snail’s pace. The first thing I did was take a month off from drinking alcohol. I also tried to cut down on bad carbs (I switched to whole wheat bread, pasta and brown rice) and ate breakfast at least 5 days a week, but that was about it. In February I discovered that I actually enjoyed Green Monster smoothies and now I have one for breakfast every week day. In March instead of just pinning super delicious fatty sugary carb heavy recipes on Pinterest, I told myself I needed to start usng it to find healthier recipes. Afterwards, I would actually follow through on making a lot of them. I was gettting a better handle on how to cook with more veggies and less fat and still be left with something delicious. In April my friend Andrea introduced me to CalorieCount.about.com, a free online site that helps people track their food and exercise.
Now, because of all these things combined, my grocery shopping has changed a lot. My bags are filled with mostly veggies instead of breads, cheeses, chips and sweet snacks. Sadly, my great love of cheese has had to be tamped down a bit, and while I still eat it, I just make sure I don’t douse everything I cook with it like I used to. I try to use it as an accent flavor instead of the main attraction.
The result of these efforts has become more obvious recently, too, much to my surprise. I have started losing weight. I feel great and have more energy. I crave vegetables and it’s become fun for me to see just how many I can cram into any given recipe I’m making before it becomes too ridiculous (Oh, it says to only use one cup of broccoli? Let’s see what happens with two! Why not some spinach, too?). My feeling better and losing weight has even been in spite of me not having an exercise routine (and stuffing my face on some weekends), which is the last part of the puzzle I need to put in place. There’s just so many things I don’t like about exercising that it’s hindering me and stifling my motivation. I want it to be free (because I am the 99%). I don’t want to wear a helmet or ride a bike anywhere near traffic. I don’t want to jog around town on sidewalks, I want to jog on a trail in the woods. I don’t want to have to drive to a place just to exercise. I don’t want to get up early. I want my exercise experience to be perfect**, etc. etc. All I know is, when the perfect set of circumstances all come together in the right way, in the past I have been very good about sticking with a routine. Honestly, what will probably wind up happening is that I won’t get around to doing something about exercise until 2013 so I can have at least a year of heatlhier eating under my belt. I want it to be second nature so I don’t have to think about it anymore, and then I’ll be able to move on and concentrate on the exercise part with my full attention.
But hey, so far this whole nutrition thing has been pretty awesome, and I never thought I’d be enthusiastic about healthy eating. People don’t want to hear it (hey, I didn’t want to hear it, etiher), but when you finally decide to make eating better a lifestyle change instead of a temporary diet, it actually works! The only thing I’m sad about is that I’m bitter that I have to do this because I’m old. I can no longer cram two Cinnabons into my face for lunch then eat two Big Macs for dinner and still be skinny, like I could when I was 18. I have become the boring old person who eats healthier because they don’t want to die earlier than they were supposed to die. But never fear, no matter how badly I want to hold onto my youth, I’m not going to get as crazy as Suzanne Summers—what with her 60 pills a day and daily vagina injections!
Just thought this infographic on how portions sizes have changed was really interesting.
*Because now I’m a year and a month away from turning 40 and I damn well don’t want to succumb to the trend of turning into a typical middle-aged dumpy woman. I ought to write a post about what my younger self thought about this, but that’s a different post (a very embarrassing one), and one where I need to give myself a serious punch in the face for being such a bitch about it in my head.
**Yes, I can be quite particular about things. Yes, it’s a total pain in the ass for people that have to deal with (or live with) me in real life. I KNOW.
Today is my one year anniversary of saying goodbye to fast food. When I first made my decision, I was worried that it would be really hard for me, especially because I loved Taco Bell so much. But it turned out to be a lot easier than I thought, and I have to say, I haven’t really missed it. The other fast food places weren’t hard to give up at all, especially because Carl’s Jr. was already on my list, and Burger King, Wendy’s and McDonald’s can’t hold a candle to the burgers that Ryan grills up at home. It was Taco Bell that really had a hold on me, and there were plenty of times when I would drive by one and be sad that I couldn’t try out their newest promotional menu item. I was also bummed out when I found out that Taco Bell was going to start serving breakfast items, but the worst part was the announcement that they were going to make taco shells out of Doritos (Cool Ranch is coming out next). I actually got a little sad that I wouldn’t be able to try that!
However, for the most part I’m really happy with my decision and I plan to continue my fast food boycott for the foreseeable future. However, I’m VERY curious to see if my taste buds have changed at all from not having fast food for this long. To find out, I am going to break my one year boycott and go to Taco Bell for lunch today. We’ll see if I will love it as much as I always did, or if it tastes like crap. I kind of hope it tastes like crap to me, because then I’ll feel even better and a little more smug about continuing my ban.
Whichever way it turns out, I promise to update this entry with the results!
UPDATE: TACO BELL PURCHASED AND EATEN
As soon as it was my lunch, I drove to the nearest Taco Bell and ordered what I used to order all the time. In addition to the new Dorito loco taco, I got a steak and a potato soft taco (I know, I said I didn’t like breakfast burritos, but for some reason I like the potato soft tacos), then drove back to my work to eat at my desk.
I opened up the Dorito taco first, and went to work. I couldn’t even really taste the cheesy part of the Dorito taco shell due to all the taco fillings kind of obscuring the flavor, but my fingers were orange right away. As I chomped away, I noticed that it tasted rather bland and the texture just didn’t feel right to me anymore. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t really all that good either. In fact, it felt pretty meh.
Next was the potato taco. I squeezed on some of the verde salsa, since that used to be my favorite of the sauces they make. It was the same sensation. Just meh. Last I tried the steak soft taco, and it was just more of the same. I wondered to myself if their flour tortillas had always been so gummy and I just hadn’t noticed it before. I wasn’t enjoying it like I used to, and the steak was actually pretty bland.
It wasn’t terrible, but really, it wasn’t all that great either. It was mediocre, and somehow that made it kind of worse. There’s so much mediocre crap available and everyone just settles and is okay with settling when great stuff is out there and just takes a little more work to find and make. My taste buds and my body deserve better than just average (I would say everyone deserves better, but what’s that Maya Angelou quote that people like to throw around? “When you know better you do better” A lot of people must not realize they can do better. Either that, or they just don’t care if they ever do better), and I have a choice! No more settling for me.
The steak soft taco. My stomach isn’t super happy with me right now, but I’ve got an iron stomach so I’ll be fine.
Today is my best friend’s birthday, so I thought it’d be a great idea to look through my yearbook and some old photo albums for some embarrassing pictures. The Internet: Not only can you find all kinds of porn for free, it’s fantastic for embarrassing your friends!
I’m not sure what happened to this photo, but this is the youngest picture I could find of Rayleen. We met back in the 6th grade, before this school picture was taken. I’m not sure what grade this picture was from, perhaps 8th or 9th grade.
Here’s Rayleen with one of our other friends, David. I think this might have been our Junior year in high school. You can see that David isn’t happy about having to be in a picture with her, but then again, he was never happy about having to be around us anyway. I think our hyperactive giddiness annoyed him. Dave was emo before emo was even a thing.
Senior photo! Would you just look at that hair! I have envied Rayleen’s hair from day one because it has always been so nice and thick and shiny and perfect. Although I think she has a perm in this picture.
I think our friend Emily took this picture so we could fill up some yearbook space. I’m surprised she could get us to hold still long enough to get a photo!
Rayleen’s off enjoying a long weekend at the Oregon coast, which sounds like loads of fun (even though it’s probably going to be windy AND rainy the entire time, typical of the Oregon coast), and I hear she’s actually even going to drink alcohol while at a bar! I don’t blame her, after all, this year’s birthday is one of those milestone numbers! That’s okay, in a year and a quarter, it’s going to be my turn. BRING IT!
That’s right, it’s the best day of the year—Today’s my birthday! I turn 35, and since I already got my presents early (the trip to Taiwan, all new kitchen appliances)all I really want today is some cake. Ryan’s going to be sweet and grill up some of his fabulous steak for my birthday dinner, and I couldn’t be happier.
Hopefully my birthday gift from Rayleen will be waiting for me when I get home from work, and then I can revel in some yarn, too!
Since I’m back from vacation and back to life with the Toad, I’ve got a lot of stuff to blog about and I’m afraid I’ll forget something if I don’t make a list. And there’s so much stuff there might start being 2 posts a day for a little while.
So—here’s what some of my future posts will be about—in order of importance:
1)I have a new poop story to tell. It took place in Taiwan, and it has more to do with the plumbing over there than my actual poop—and it doesn’t even have to do with a squat toilet! I plan to write this up tomorrow afternoon.
2) I need to do a summary kind of post with a map marked off with everywhere I went while in Taiwan.
3)Now that I have a Blackberry, I can have whatever I want for a ring tone. That’s right, WHATEVER I WANT! Which means I have so many choices, I am boggled. How does one pick the perfect ring tone from all the music in the world? My ring tone must reflect exactly what kind of person I am!
4) I did it again—I broke a second coffee carafe this morning. Ryan was less than pleased, to say the least, and I will be paying for this for quite a while. Ryan’s quite attached to the ‘Aroma’ button on our current coffee maker, and the new carafe is going to take at least a week to get here.
5) I’m back at work. That’s all I’m going to say about this right now.
6) The Queen sent me an email (I was so flattered that I think I’ll forget about taking pictures of the two stuffed squirrels I bought while at the Taipei Zoo and posting them on here) about Ryan and I’s status, and it made me realize I haven’t done an official status update post about us. I need to do that.
7)Ryan is upset that I don’t seem to understand just how much work he did on the house while I was gone (gas for the stove, a water line for the refrigerator, 4 days of work on the closet shelves), and feels that I do not appreciate his hard work and have not praised him enough. Might have to dedicate an entire post on the awesomeness of the Toad. Also forgot to mention one of the surprises was that he got my car a complete tune up, so now it doesn’t sound like the entire bottom is going to fall off anymore when I go over potholes. Amen to that!
8)Tea eggs. I ate one while in Taiwan and I am hooked. I plan to make them myself, and I’ll let everyone know how that goes, complete with pictures.
9)Maybe a short blurb on how in the modern age, instead of reaching for a flashlight when the power goes out, people now reach for their cell phones or laptops instead.
I can’t believe I’m going on vacation on Sunday! First I fly down to San Diego to visit with my best friend since sixth grade Rayleen for a few days, then I’m off to Taiwan with my friend Jenn (the one in California) for 2 weeks. Taiwan!
Anyway, so Ryan decided to be extra super sweet and told me that I should by some new luggage for my trip. All the luggage I have is borrowed from my family or cheap. He told me that we could go shopping for luggage after I came home from work today, and I was very excited about it, especially because he was willing to spend a decent amount of money to buy me something really nice.
The problem with Ryan and I shopping together however, is that we shop very differently. Ryan likes to know what he’s looking for and be in and out in a few minutes. I like to browse and see everything I can before making a decision, because I’m always looking for the perfect item and I think I’ll know it when I see it. This lead to us first going to Ross, because they were were having a luggage sale. While they had some cool stuff, none of it matched and I wanted a matching set, one that would also stand out from all the other suitcases on the luggage carousel. So we went to Burlington Coat Factory, where they had matching sets, but not exactly what I wanted. Then we went to the mall, where we looked in Kohls, Macy’s, JC Penny and Sears.
While we were picking through suitcases, another shopping difference struck me. I was just looking for cute, and Ryan was looking for logical things like durability and comfort. When I saw a set of suitcases that looked very much like this at JC Penny, I squealed and ran over to them and wanted them right away.But then Ryan pointed out they were made of cheap vinyl cloth and would probably get a tear in it really quickly. I had also in my mind flashed ahead in time and asked myself “When I’m 45, am I really going to want a suitcase that’s pink with polka dots to represent who I am?” and the answer was no. Taking that into account and since I knew he was right (plus the suitcase was too small anyway), I turned my attention to this:
Ryan pointed out that the canvas surface would get dirty, and indeed all 4 sets of the pink were all already scuffed up and they hadn’t even left the store. He said that after just one trip, they’d all look like crap. I sighed and walked away, and decided that we should go back to Burlington Coat Factory and buy the suitcase set we had seen there that was extra comfortable and actually stylish instead of cute. As we made our way out of the mall, I mourned the overriding of my ‘youthful’ spending habits, which meant that normally if it were just me, I’d be buying cute, disposable and cheap over quality, comfort and adult styling. As we were talking, we passed by one of those shoe stores that sells comfortable shoes for walking, and I commented that I knew I was getting old because not only was I actually bowing to logic and good sense, but lately I’d begun to want to start buying shoes that were actually comfortable to walk in that would last for years.
When we went back to Burlington Coat Factory, I was ready to buy a tan and brown set of suitcases with awesome wheels, but at the last minute I decided to go for it and went for the crazy burnt orange Tommy Hilfiger Spirit luggage that had pretty much the exact same wheels, only shinier. The burnt orange color would definitely stick out, and yet it wasn’t the kind of orange that would make people’s eyes bleed. The suitcase set itself was really well made, the handles were super soft and ergonomic. Hell, even the zippers were ergonomic! And as you can see below, it’s Jojo approved (the other smaller matching suitcase is inside it).
Also? The wheels? They’ve got rims! The fact that I own a set of suitcases with rims jut cracks me up!