Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tamsin eyeing the tree

Tamsin eyeing the tree, originally uploaded by authorwannabe.

Whenever we put up our artificial tree, our cat never misses a chance to climb it and sometimes curl up underneath. She has yet to topple it, so we let her have her fun.

What I Like about Christmas...

I like how all the stores are packed to the gills with Christmas and non-Christmas related items for sale - stuff that you don't often see the rest of the year. I like having more choices, even if some of those extra items are often a bit silly, if not a bit superfluous.

Christmas music
I like Christmas music, especially the classics, but you can OD on this, especially since the same songs are often played on a continuous loop. It’s not really Christmas unless Julie Andrews is singing “Ding Dong Merrily on High.” I also can’t get enough of the Pogues, “Christmas in New York.”

Television & Movies
I like Christmas themed movies and TV programs, but you have to be in the mood for them, and some are better than others (or rather, some are more saccharine than others). Among the new ones this year that I've particularly enjoyed is "Arthur Christmas." Though not a classic, it was still fun, and I delighted in hearing British accents for a couple hours (kind of made me homesick for my adopted country).

I also very much enjoyed the Christmas episode of "The Middle." I thought it was funny how Frankie was in such a good mood after attending a festive event (and had had a little wine), and decided she'd have a holiday open house for her neighbors on Christmas Eve. This sounds like just the sort of thing I would do (if I honestly thought any of my neighbors would be free to come over during the holidays, and would want to). I think my husband would take it with the same sense of humor as Frankie's husband, Mike, since they share many similarities as both men and husbands.

Favorite (newish) classic Christmas TV special - "Shrek the Halls." Being a Shrek fan anyway, I guess it's only natural I'd like the Christmas special, but I especially appreciate that it's not too sappy and sweet, and uses one of my favorite Spice Girls songs, "Christmas Wrapping," a song I certainly don't hear nearly enough during the holidays.

I like getting presents.
I know Christmas shouldn't be about the material things, but that certainly is a big part of the holiday. It's nice to get something new, and even better to get a lot of new somethings, especially when each item is a complete surprise. This is less and less common the older I get since my relatives would much rather rely on my Amazon Wish List instead of using what they know about me to get something original. I know it can be difficult because I am one of those people who, when they want something, usually go out and buy it, so I guess I can't really be too hard on my friends and relatives. After all, it's the thought that counts.

I like giving presents (but sometimes it's a lot of work choosing stuff!). Just so you don't think I'm a total scrooge, the older I get, the more I enjoy seeing the looks on everyone else's faces when they open the gifts I gave them. I pride myself on the thought I put into choosing everything, so it's nice to get that positive feedback when I hit the mark. Of course my relatives could all be really good fakers, but I hope that's not the case.

Visions of sugar plums danced in her head...
I like all the sweets that come out just around the holidays. Of course this is also my Achilles heel since I usually end up eating too much of everything, and then feel bloated and guilty until after the new year. Not sure if I'll do much better this year. I guess I'll just have to try and stay busy and out of the kitchen.

I love, love, love outdoor Christmas lights.
With the nights being long and dark until late spring, it's the one thing that never fails to cheer me up whenever I am out after dark. I especially enjoy those 'Clark Griswolds' who make the extra effort to go all out and create something festive for their neighborhood. Roman, I'm talking about you, and all your neighbors with whom you collaborate. I think it's also great that they accept donations for charity, so everyone benefits. Plus, I noticed one of your neighbors handing out candy canes, so that's a nice gesture as well. Also, a shout out to the residents of the Ridgewood estate. I’ve never seen the neighborhood looking so festive, so a big thanks to everyone for spreading a little holiday cheer.

The candlelight service at a local church
Last year I fancied a change from standing on my tippy-toes in the back corner of my church for the 10pm "midnight" mass, so decided to go to a different church and check out their service. My uncle, always up for an adventure, accompanied me. Although it wasn't quite an adventure, it was a truly wonderful experience. Unlike at my church where it's usually standing room only unless you arrive no less than about an hour early, we were able to sit (and sit quite comfortably I might add) and see everything going on. The homily, given by a pair of youthful ministers was interesting, informative and entertaining. However, the best part of the service was when the lights were turned out and we took turns lighting candles while singing "Silent Night." My sister's mother-in-law said they do that at their church too, and it always moves her to tears, so I'm glad I wasn't the only one misting up.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

me wearing my 'tux' hat

me wearing my 'tux' hat, originally uploaded by authorwannabe.

Thanks Dana!

White Elephant Gift Exchange

It's that time of year again – office Christmas party, tacky Christmas specials and white elephant gift exchange. A new co-worker came up with this idea since no one else seemed particularly enthused about doing a regular gift exchange (mostly because of there being so many new employees, not knowing their likes and dislikes). So it was agreed. After which, we discussed particularly memorable white elephant gifts we had received in the past. This is why I was so surprised when I saw the selection of gifts purchased for our exchange. It was almost as if they missed the whole point.

The first gift opened was a set of holiday-themed nesting bowls. The giftee was thrilled. Following that a set of cheap and cheerful picture frames was opened, as was a little OSU snow globe ornament and a set of coffee mugs with coffee. When I retold this story to my husband, he said it sounded more like a Secret Santa than a White Elephant gift exchange.

I, however, did receive an appropriate gift – one of those knitted animal hats that are so popular this year. It's both cute and warm. Not sure how much use it will get, but I may wear it from time to time. For my white elephant giveaway I bought Christmas-themed knee socks, Rudolph lip gloss and some candy lumps of coal.

My husband received a pair of boxer shorts with mistletoe where the crotch should be. His co-workers obviously get the idea [thanks for letting me borrow those – they were the hit of our office party!].


Here's a picture I found on the internet of that precious little girl in the driver's seat.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Great Adverts of 2011

Well, it's that time of year again - time to reflect back on the year that was. Even though I am one of the millions who has a DVR and faithfully record all my programs, I do occasionally stop fast forwarding through the commercials when one of these gems comes on.

The Subaru ad where the dad hands the keys to his little daughter who later morphs into a teenager before driving off. It's not so much the poignancy of the commercial (as I'm not a parent), but the fact that the little girl looks so much like my 7 year old niece Gwen that makes me pause each time. I also discovered this interesting bit of trivia when reading about the commercial, "(Interesting side note: the two girls who star in the ad are real-life sisters and the “dad” is the real-life father to both girls.)" How cool is that? A commercial with a touch of reality - something you rarely see these days.

a link to the article:

the Volkswagon Passat ad with the little boy trying to be Darth Vader. So much has been said about this commercial already, that I'm not entirely sure I have anything original to add, other than to say I think it's a classic, and I hope it's preserved in the Commercials Hall of Fame or whatever they have for memorable advertisements.

the Toyota Prius ad designed by Saatchi & Saatchi has got to be one of the most clever, eye-catching, detail-oriented commercials I've ever seen. I defy anyone to fast forward through it the first time they see it since they'd be depriving themself of a genuine work of cinematography. I'm not sure how they made this commercial, but I'm pretty sure a lot of humans had to work 'cheek to cheek' on this one. I am also a little partial to Toyota since our family currently owns two Priuses.

As far as CGI commercials go, I think the two best have got to be Target's commercial for Gwen Stefani's Harajuku line (I love Japanese looking products) and Ron Howard's commercial for Canon's Project Imagina8ion. Both are fun and cute and clever and all the other normal adjectives one applies to such a work of imagination.

Even though I live in Ohio, I've always had a soft spot for California (and had dreams of living there someday when I was a teenager), so I quite like the travelogue commercial currently airing. It's celebrity packed and shows a good cross section of culture and activities offered throughout the state. I especially like how Betty White (who has certainly made quite a comeback these last few years) worms her way into this one as well being shown on a golf cart.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Credit Card Purchases

I was just talking to some of my female co-workers/friends (who are rather close in age to myself) about what their first credit card purchase was, and how old they were when they made it.

One of them said she was 18 and bought a television, which she slowly paid off in monthly instalments. She's now encouraging her two college-age daughters to do the same (although TVs are so cheap today that a computer would be a better choice if you want to pay that off little by little).

My friend said she just now got her first credit card (always used her debit card previously) and bought a winter coat which she plans to pay off in full when the bill arrives.

My first purchase, back when I was between 18-24 yrs old, was either a black purse (from JC Penney I think) or a book (from Tower City in Cleveland). I think it was the book as I probably used a check to pay for the purse. I still have the book (and the purse), which cost $25 and is called, "He Was a Midwestern Boy on His Own" by Bob Greene.

When my husband moved to America with me back in 2004, he was advised to get a credit card in his name, charge something on it, and then pay it off in instalments(I think that's what we were told, but it was a awhile ago now, so can't quite remember), in order [for him] to establish credit. How funny that you have to accummulate a little debt in this country in order to establish credit.

I had a co-worker back in England who probably still doesn't have a credit card, though I'm quite sure she has a debit card. She told me she never trusted herself with a credit card. Judging from how much clothing she constantly returned, she might be right not to trust herself. In fact, I'm sure if I had to pay cash for all my purchases, I probably wouldn't buy even half the stuff I come home with. However, at least my husband and I can always afford to pay off our monthly bill.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Best Presents Ever Received

the pair of black leggings my mother bought me

I wear these under trousers every winter, and are the one thing that gets me through this dismal season. Maybe a boring, but certainly practical gift with a lot of longevity. BTW, I don't need any more leggings because I have gone out and bought a couple more pairs to wear between washings.

faux (?) black suede ankle boots

This wasn't a present as much as a Black Friday purchase by my mom for me while I was a college student in 1992. They may be a little scuffed and worn looking, but I still have them and love them as much as ever.

the general store cookie jar in our kitchen

This was a wedding present from my mom, and it's adorned our kitchen for the last 6 years. We haven't actually put any cookies in it, but instead have used it to store candy, and more recently clean container lids (that I will eventually take to Generation Green). It looks good next to the French border above it, and serves a practical purpose, so it's certainly earned its keep.

light green deep pocket Martha Stewart sheets

These were a house-warming gift from my mom, and were certainly needed as we didn't have a single item of bedding (except for a couple quilts) when we moved to the US from England (since we only had a double bed in England and bought a queen in the US). Deep pockets make them easy to put on our bed, which is certainly much appreciated. Plus I like the color.

my I-Pod Nano

This was a Christmas present from my husband after I dropped (and broke) my Creative Zen. I think he was anxious to initiate me into the world of Apple products anyway, but lacking an MP3 player finally gave him an excuse. It works wonderfully (except for enough advance warning when the battery is low) and fits perfectly into the pocket size speaker I bought for it. Although sometimes I wish I had the next generation model (with more internal memory and video capability), it wouldn't fit in the speaker case, so I guess I'm stuck with a Nano (3?) for life.

my Canon APS camera

That was a wedding present from my husband and I've probably used it dozens of times over the last 13 years. Actually, I still have every cartridge I've ever used, so I could count them up and know for sure, but suffice it to say it's been used plenty. I like it for taking panoramic photos, as some scenery just lends itself to that format. Since APS has kind of gone out of popularity in this digital age, I've had to stockpile fresh APS cartridges and still have at least a dozen in our refrigerator.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Recommended Reading for Black Friday

Unlike millions of other people, I didn't drop a bundle on Black Friday bargains yesterday. Since I've already finished all my Christmas shopping, there really wasn't anything I needed. Also, as I am in the middle of decluttering, it seems counterproductive to go out and bring back armfuls of stuff that I'll have to struggle to find a place for. That's not to say I didn't want to be out doing that, but I managed to resist the siren song of the mall and my other favorite stores. I'm proud that I had the will power, but it's always easier when my husband is home making it more difficult for me to sneak out (not that I'd ever do that : )

Hence, I thought it only appropriate that I recommend a few books to go along with the shopping season.

Confessions of a Shopaholic (and the entire Shopaholic series) by Sophie Kinsella

Like the rest of us, Bex likes a good bargain, but bargain or not, she definitely has expensive taste and little to no will power when it comes to resisting all that bling out there. Of course her spending habits catch up with her, and her roommate, Suze, helps her auction off some of her stash to help pay the bills. There's also another plot unrelated to the whole shopping debacle, which is really the whole point of reading the book. Some of the other book in the series focus a bit more on the shopping, but are still worth a read for the Sophie Kinsella fans out there.

Bringing Home the Birkin by Michael Tonello

For those with slightly less expensive taste, or who aren't in the know, a “Birkin” is “... a handmade purse by Hermès and named after actress and singer Jane Birkin. The bag is a symbol of wealth due to its high price and elusiveness to the public. Its prices range from $9,000 to $150,000. Costs escalate according to the type of materials. The bags are distributed to Hermès boutiques on unpredictable schedules and in limited quantities, creating scarcity and, intended or unintended, exclusivity.” *

* according to Wikipedia

Although I haven't read very far yet, the author takes the first few chapters to explain how he ended up moving to Barcelona (a beautiful city I was lucky enough to visit in 2002) and ended up lusting after the much coveted bag. I look forward to seeing how the story unfolds.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving 1998

Thanksgiving 1998, originally uploaded by authorwannabe.

Here's a picture of my husband carving his first turkey (not that Brits don't have turkey at Xmas, but not sure he had ever done the carving) at our first Thanksgiving in 1998 while living in Gloucester, England.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Memories

After 41 years of Thanksgivings, I feel I have much to be grateful for, including the many fond memories I have of family traditions.

However, as is sometimes the case, I can't claim to have spent all 41 of those Thanksgivings with my entire family.

My first Thanksgiving away from home was in 1994. I had graduated from college and was living in a small suburb of Boston called Sharon. I was the live-in nanny to a family of three where I was in charge of their 18 month old daughter, Elise.

The father's parents flew in from Chicago and turned out to be quite friendly and very down to earth. I remember thinking how nice it was that I wasn't the only one from the Midwest. Among other things, we discussed movies since they belonged to some sort of a film club.

The mother's parents drove in from Rhode Island, and I had met them previously when I stayed at their McMansion while we moved from our house in Brookline to Sharon. They were okay, but not as personable as the Midwesterners (but then maybe that's my personal bias speaking).

We had a fancy Thanksgiving dinner with appetizers I had never had before - like melted brie. Yummy! I also seem to recall having Matzo Ball soup since half the family was Jewish. That was also quite delightful. In spite of their economic wealth, they had cranberries out of the can just like the rest of us. I remember one of the younger brothers saying it wasn't authentic without the ridges!

Of course I was homesick and remember talking to my parents on the phone long distance that morning, but I made it through the day without too many tears. It probably helped that there were about 18 different kinds of desserts, many of which I ate for weeks afterwards until I was literally scraping off the mold (sad I know, but I really have a sweet tooth!).

Four years later I living in England and was serving up my first Thanksgiving dinner to my British in-laws whom we had invited over to help us celebrate. I don't remember any major mishaps, so I guess we did okay with not over or under cooking anything. Of course we didn't actually celebrate on the day since I had to work, so we postponed until the weekend. Like four years previous, I was a bit homesick and called home late in the day on Thursday. As there was now a grandchild in the family, she seemed to more than take my place since much fuss was made over her. I suppose this was inevitable, but it didn't exactly help my homesickness.

Living overseas I missed a few more Thanksgivings, but it got easier with time. My husband and I certainly got better at preparing an elaborate meal for his parents, a skill which has come in handy now that I host our annual Christmas eve dinner.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Book Review

How Did I Get to be 40 and Other Atrocities

by Judith Viorst

This is a book that's been sitting on my shelf for just over a year after turning 40 in 2010. It seemed an appropriate enough book to get at that point. After reading it, I wished I had gotten it sooner since I can long relate to so many of Viorst's poems.

The first poem entitled "The Truth" starts out,

"The truth is
If I had it all to do over
I still wouldn't study Swahili,
Learn to fly a plane,
Or take 92 lovers,
Some of them simultaneously."

It ends with,

"But the truth is
That the next time around,
I still wouldn't."

The less ambitious among us, myself included, can definitely relate to this sentiment!

My other favorite poem is called "Mid Life Crisis" and ends with this stanza,

"While I was thinking I was just a girl,
My future turned into my past.
The time for wild kisses goes fast and it's
Time for Sanka.

I really love the line, "My future turned into my past." It's so haunting and so true.

Those of us who struggle to stay thin can relate to "Eating my Heart Out."

"Misery knocks me off my feet,
But never off my feed.
And the lump in my throat is concealed
By my double chin.
Misery piques my appetite.
Such help I didn't need.
I only wish that happiness
Made me thin."

There are more wonderful examples in this treasury of poetry that I can't recommend highly enough to my sisters out there - both young and old.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Reviews of More New Fall TV Programs

Along with the programs mentioned previously, there are a few others worthy of mention that debuted this fall. The first one I saw is called “New Girl,” with the girl in question being played by Zoey Deschanel. Being a fan of Ms. Deschanel I had high hopes for this series, but was sadly disappointed in the first episode. First of all, it’s kind of hard to believe the character she plays is so socially inept based on her looks alone (someone that pretty you wouldn’t have to remind her to shave her legs and armpits before going out on a date). It just seems a terribly cliché situation her living with three guys, all of which would gladly jump her bones in a second if she wasn’t their roommate and friend (even then…) Hence, I haven’t given the series a second chance, but may see if I can catch an episode or two on Fox’s website or

In a moment of boredom at work recently, I had time to watch several episodes of “Two Broke Girls” on, and was pleasantly surprised, enough so to make a point to tune in again and set the DVR. The basic premise (as much as I can surmise from missing the first two episodes), is a new waitress is hired at a NYC dive. This new waitress, Caroline, is the wealthy daughter of an embezzler (father) who is currently in prison, no mom in the picture. Not sure if she left her fancy family apartment by her own free will or order of the court, but somehow she ends up living with the other waitress, Max.

Did I mention Caroline brought along her horse (Chestnut) who lives in the alley beside their apartment? In one scene Max is walking Chestnut carrying a shovel the same way people who walk their dogs carry pooper scoopers and plastic bags. The only difference being that Chestnut is just slightly larger than a dog, but no one seems to give them a second look. I like the way the two characters play off each other as Max is the streetwise Flo-like character while Caroline is definitely more of an Alice (but not as dim witted as Vera). The two also decide to save up their money and go into the cupcake making business together. At the end of each episode a total is given so we can follow their progress toward their goal.

This fall two new fairy-tale like programs premiered, “Once Upon a Time” and “Grimm.” Having not seen “Grimm,” I can’t tell you whether it’s any good, but “Once Upon a Time” is certainly something different (but in a good way!). It starts out kind of slow, but if you just stick with it and want to believe the premise, you won’t be disappointed. Jennifer Morrison plays Emma Swan, a sort of bounty hunter who is tough, has no family and lives alone. A little boy, Henry, comes to her and tells her he’s her son that she gave up for adoption ten years ago. Of course this throws her for a loop, but she agrees to drive him back home to Storybrooke, Maine, where he lives with the evil queen, his adoptive mother. Something about Storybrooke intrigues Ms. Swan and she decides to stay for a week, but only a week. The other fairytale characters are interesting as well and I look forward to seeing more of them each week as the story unfolds.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks (but you sure as heck can try!)

This year (starting this fall), the Catholic Church is instituting a few changes to the usual wording of mass. At our church (St. Brendan's) they're slowly trying to teach the parish by printing booklets with the new wording and going over the new songs and responses prior to some of the masses.

My dad said their (somewhat older) Parish priest, Father Paul, isn't exactly thrilled to have to relearn all the traditional wording. I suppose the older you are, the more you resist change since it's so difficult to break an old habit – which in this instance is having to stop yourself from muttering the same phrases you've been saying since you were a child.

I can totally understand peoples' reluctance to have to learn new wording since this is just another decision made by the Pope that we Catholics have to follow.

When I moved to England in 1998 and started attending mass over there, I noticed slightly different wording in the Profession of Faith and the Our Father. It didn't take me long to relearn those two prayers and took me only a little while to go back to the old way I was used to once I moved back to the U.S. I'm sure it will only be a matter of time before we learn the new wordings.

This week I've also been introduced to a new software package called Office 2010 which consists of Outlook (the e-mail program), Word, Excel and Power Point. I mostly use Outlook and Word, Excel only very occasionally and Power Point never. Although I like the way Word is laid out and it seems more intuitive to me, I have to admit to still hunting and searching for tools that I could grab with a single click of the mouse previously. I hope it doesn't take too long to get used to the new software!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review of New Fall TV Programs

It's that time of year again - (or at least it was last month) time for the new fall line-up of TV programs. Already a few have been cancelled after just a couple episodes ("The Playboy Club," "Charlie's Angels" - do I detect a common theme here?).

However, I don't want to talk about the duds. Instead I thought I'd mention a few of the brighter stars (or at least mediocre ones).

My favorite of the three new ones I've seen has got to be "Pan Am" because of the sense of nostalgia it invokes, even for those of us who are too young to remember Pan Am in its heyday. The set designers really did their research down to every last detail from era-appropriate clothing down to the tiniest of props (cameras, etc.). Although the plots aren't always the most riveting, the excellent casting makes the viewers want to know more about the Pan Am crew. Christina Ricci, a seasoned actor of all of 31 years, is particularly excellent as Maggie Ryan, the flight crew's purser. I look forward to getting to know the other three actresses as the season continues.

"Suburgatory" is a funny new comedy, but perhaps a little too ridiculous or over-the-top for me. It seems a little too much "Desperate Housewives" meets "Arrested Development." My one reason for watching this is because of how much Jane Levy (who plays Tessa, the teenage daughter) reminds me of a good friend of mine. In fact, I'd even go so far as to call her a doppelganger of my friend. I gave up on it after the first episode, but may watch it in reruns or on

I had high hopes for Tim Allen in "Last Man Standing," but as a viewer who remembers all eight seasons of "Home Improvement," it feels a little like a second marriage for Allen. It's like he traded in the boys for girls, and I think I liked the dynamic better between his sons than his new daughters. Also, there's the fact that one of his daughters has a child out of wedlock. I suppose this is indeed a modern blended family. All in all, the series just feels a bit cliche'.

I eagerly anticipate "Once Upon a Time" which premieres next week.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Funny Quotes from Television

“What castle did you grow up in?”
Sandra Rinomato on an episode of “Property Virgins”

Doctor Who quotes from “Closing Time”

The Doctor: No! He's your dad, you can't just call him "Not Mum."
Craig: Not mum?
The Doctor: That's you. "Also Not Mum". That's me. And everybody else is... "peasants". That's a bit unfortunate.

The Doctor: Stop crying. You've got a lot to look forward to, you know. A normal human life on Earth. Mortgage repayments. The nine-to-five. A persistent, nagging sense of spiritual emptiness. Save the tears for later, boy-o.

Quotes from “How I Met Your Mother”

Robin: I am Canadian. Remember? We celebrate Thanksgiving in October.
Ted: Oh right I forgot. You guys are weird and you pronounce the word 'out', 'oot'.
Robin: You guys are the world's leader in hand gun violence; your health care system is bankrupt and your country is deeply divided on almost every important issue.
Ted: [pause] Your cops are called 'mounties'.

Lily: We're not gonna date them, we're just gonna be friends with them.
Barney: That's the couple's version of dating.
Robin: And you've got the couples version of the hots for them. You wanna have brunch with them, you wanna go to Pottery Barn with them, you wanna go antiquing with them, don't you? Oh, yeah, you wanna antique the crap out of them.

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Favorite Year of High School

The writer of one of my favorite blogs, “Little Cakes” or “Saucy’s Sprinkles” by Sasha Libby, which is not only the prettiest blog I’ve ever read, it’s entertaining, informative and interesting, recently asked the question, “What was your favorite year of high school, or the best of the worst?”

I agree with Sasha Libby that junior year is the best because there’s not the same pressure as during your senior year. You can chill and relax and just enjoy being a teenager (if that’s possible) knowing you can put off real responsibilities for at least another year.

“Saucy remembers grade eleven as being her very favourite year of high school. She hit her stride, she knew her way around. She had nice friends and the pressure of senior year and graduation and all of the decisions that were on the horizon were so far off in the distance that her biggest concern was where exactly she should tie her bandana - upper arm or knee?”

I remember being involved in Drama Club (and was in “Guys & Dolls”) during my junior year, as well as being on the newspaper staff (of The Bluestreak). Although I definitely wasn’t popular, I rubbed elbows with many that were, and that was good enough for me.

While many of my friends were eager to gain their independence with a driver’s license, I was content to be a passenger for at least a few more years. As a result, I didn’t have to do the fast food thing until college since I didn’t need money for gasoline or car insurance. Instead, I babysat most weekends and always earned enough to have pocket money for whatever my heart desired (most of the time). I had simple tastes back then. Plus, as technology was at a slow creep in those days, once you had a walkman and a boom box, you had it all.

Of course, who can forget junior Prom at the end of the year? (actually, I wouldn't mind forgetting mine since it was a bit too much "Pretty in Pink" for me).

Ah, to be young again!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


This topic is at the forefront right now for a lot of people partly because of the movie, “The Help,” and for those, like me, who are enlisting the service of “temps” to help them out in the office. It isn't actually me that's enlisting the help of temps, but rather my supervisor. However, I have been the one partly in charge of training them because they will be taking over my job while I am away from my desk – either while at lunch, or on vacation. Since about the second week of August I have trained at least three different women, all three of which lasted anywhere from a day and a half to one week. Two out of three had to leave due to illness. The third one just didn't work out. I can't help but think of the old adage that “good help really is hard to find.”

Lest you think I'm not being sympathetic, I don't mean to be. I feel bad for these women who were all downsized from their previous jobs through no fault of their own. However, having to run through the same spiel three times is a bit redundant (unless you're a school teacher), and one does wonder if you're just wasting your breath after awhile. Also, I can't help be a bit annoyed by the temp who came in sick. Although I admire your courage to work through your illness, if you have the least tiny doubt whether or not you can work, stay home. Not only are you needlessly spreading your germs, you're also inconveniencing the employer by having to find a last minute replacement for you. Sure, it may mean getting passed up for a job, but wouldn't you rather present your best HEALTHY self rather than the “seen better days” self?

A long time ago there used to be a show on Sunday nights called “TV Bloopers and Practical Jokes” hosted by Dick Clark (I think) and Ed McMahon. This was long before outtakes and dvds, and “Punked” and all that reality TV crap, but I digress. One week my favorite celebrity (at the time), Stephanie Zimbalist was on. Her best friend, Robin, was allegedly trying to help her find a new assistant. By the end of the joke Stephanie had interviewed three different ladies – each worse than the last. I distinctly remember Stephanie's comment (mimicking one of the applicants), “Well, I can learn!” I kind of feel that way about the trio of applicants I've seen come through our office. However, I wish them all the best.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Things I didn't do this summer (or every summer)

Every summer it’s the same. I have high aspirations of spending plenty of time out in the sun either reading on the patio, playing summer sports (like Frisbee “disc” golf, corn hole, or maybe badminton), riding my bike around the neighborhood, grilling out at least every once a week, maybe go to the city pool (which is within walking distance), roast some marshmallows and make s’mores, etc.

Every summer it’s the same. I go to work. Maybe go the gym afterwards. Come home. Make dinner. Do some chores (like watering all the outdoor plants since we get very little rain in the summer). By this time it’s usually between 8-9pm. The hour between 9-10pm is reserved for mutual television viewing. After that we get ready for bed. Lights out between 10:30-10:45pm.

As far as summer sports go, I bought the special Frisbees to play disc golf, but have never actually been to the course, though driven past it many, many, many times. My husband, at least, is honest when he told me he has no plans to ever try the sport, lest he make a fool of himself. Not knowing many people in Columbus, and certainly not anyone else who plays the sport, I’m not too concerned about it, so I guess I’ll go alone. We don’t tend to play badminton in the backyard because it’s too much of a pain to set up the net and sometimes too windy to play. I don’t really care much for cornhole; probably because I suck at it. If I practiced and could actually play with some skill, it might be a different story. However, not sure if I care to be a part of that culture. Bike rides around the neighborhood have become few and far between. I figure if I go to the gym, that’s enough exercise.

Last year I bought a new bathing suit after noticing the faded and stretched elastic on some of my old suits. The closest I’ve gotten to going swimming is when we went to a pool party at a friend’s house. Since the kids were pretty much monopolizing the pool, we adults decided to just watch while drinking our “adult beverages” from a safe distance.

I sat outside once and read part of one of my e-books. Last weekend I had my first roasted marshmallow courtesy of the son of one of my sister’s neighbors. Apparently he doesn’t like them “well done” (black) like I do, so I ate it before his mother discarded it. We use our grill maybe three or four times during the summer; that’s about it. When it’s hot and humid outside, the last thing my husband wants to do is stand in front of a hot grill flipping burgers or turning kabobs.

Hence, I’ve decided to give up on trying to enjoy most summer activities. For those of us without kids who work a regular 9-5 (or 8-4 in my case) job, summer leisure is a thing of the past. My only summer pleasure is less traffic due to all the parents who take the summer off, and getting to wear less clothing (but always a sweater or blazer to shield my arms from over air conditioned offices/shopping malls/restaurants).

Monday, August 15, 2011

Happy Anniversary to me (us)!

Today is my 13th anniversary. As anniversaries go, it’s been okay so far. Being a Monday, both my husband and I have to go to work since neither of us has enough vacation days to warrant taking the day off.

Weather-wise it’s been okay too since it’s not a typical sweltering summer day. It’s been mostly cloudy and only about 75 degrees, so a bit unseasonal really.

Unfortunately we share an anniversary with the 1998 Northern Ireland Omagh bombing in which the splinter group, the Real Irish Republic Army, car-bombed a busy shopping area and killed 29 people. At least it didn’t put a damper on our wedding day since we only found out about it afterwards.

Another historical anniversary we share is the first day of Woodstock. Both of us being fans of the music and the musicians that played there, can certainly appreciate this milestone event.

As usual, we’ll probably just go out to dinner. We also have a special bottle of champagne in our fridge we received at a company post-Christmas party. My ideal would be to (go to bed early since I’m feeling a bit sleep-deprived) curl up on the couch with our glasses of champagne and watch a dvd we both enjoy and call it a day.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Over the last year or so I worked with a young female colleague who was fresh out of college and only 24 years old (young enough to be my daughter, and I definitely mothered her at times). On Friday I had to say goodbye to her as she recently got engaged, her lease was up, and she decided to part ways to set out for greener pastures so-to-speak. Before leaving for the day, I told her I was so happy for her and also envious of all the 'Firsts' she had yet to experience. Being 41 and married for almost 13 years now, my husband and I have already gotten most of our 'Firsts' out of the way, and am somewhat sad that our young, naïve, student years are now behind us.

Looking back on some of our 'Firsts,' there was the time we First traveled around the UK together. That was certainly a good test of our patience towards one another, and I'd say we passed with flying colors. However, at that point we would usually go dutch since we weren't yet married, so I was allowed as many souvenirs as I could carry (now I get a dirty look if I eye yet another book or t-shirt).

Then there was our First house together (in Gloucester). Although we only rented, it still felt like home, and I was quite happy in our first semi-detached (house). It had a nice little kitchen/dining room and adjoining living room. The bedrooms were a decent size and one even had a Beatrix Potter-style mural.

One of the other big 'Firsts' was the first time my family visited us in England. That was the first time I cooked dinner for them as a married woman, and the first time I showed them around my town, and demonstrated the British way of doing things. It is definitely one of my happiest memories.

After moving back to America there were more Firsts, like the first car we bought together and both drove – a Toyota Corolla. Then there was our First house purchased together. That was definitely a big one – which led to other Firsts, like first time we painted a room together, first time we argued about who should do the landscaping work, first time we called a repairman, etc.

I think we'll both cherish the memory of our First pet together, a precious (and precocious!) feline named Tamsin (after Tamsin Greig, one of my fav. British actresses). She's like our four-legged, fur-covered spoiled child, but we wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Rick Schroder & "Facts of Life" cast

Rick & FOL Cast, originally uploaded by authorwannabe.


Just the other day my husband and I were discussing the kinds of programs our nieces and nephews watch and how their choice of role models no doubt affects their behavior, and not necessarily in a good way. Unlike when we grew up in the 70's and 80's, cable television was still kind of new and there certainly weren't any channels dedicated solely to entertaining children. When we got home from school we usually had to settle for reruns of our favorite primetime shows, or maybe “The Brady Bunch” or “Little House on the Prairie” (though not sure they were my role models).

If I had to choose people similar in age to myself that I watched growing up, I guess I'd say Ricky Schroder for one. I liked his sweaters, and the way he wore his plastic bracelets intertwined any one of us kids could easily imitate his style (as these were the Madonna years, we definitely had plenty of plastic bracelets!).

I also very much looked up to the girls on “Facts of Life.” I thought they were cool because they got to go away to boarding school, and they had the fabulous Mrs. Garrett to look after them. Later on I identified more with Natalie, who was the writer of the group and even took a year off (college) to work a few deadend jobs just for the experience. I briefly entertained this notion until my dad talked me out of it (and I think he was right). Also, the girls got to visit exotic places like Paris and Australia, which I definitely watched with great interest.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Alternate Swear Words

In light of all the frustration I've been feeling lately (mainly because of having a million things to do and not having enough time to do them all), I thought it only appropriate I write about swear words in this week's blog topic – but not just any old swear words, but alternate (and sometimes funny) swear words.

For instance, I used to love how Sarah Chalke's character on “Scrubs” would say “Fric!” instead of, well, you know. On my favorite not-so-politically-correct British sitcom, “Father Ted,” they were quite fond of using the word “feck” or “feck off.”

Young Ralphie in “The Christmas Story” used the word “fudge,” only that's not what he really said (the narrator says), which earned his mouth a date with a bar of soap.

I used to know a lady who sometimes said, “that's just duckie!” Being a mother I guess she felt she ought to exercise some restraint, but if things ever got really bad, I'm sure she slipped up occasionally.

Having visited and lived in Britain for about 10 years, I managed to pick up quite a lot of the British slang, which of course included off-colour phrases like “sod off!” or “bullocks.”

Of course in other languages there is subtle body language that is as good as swearing like when you give somebody the middle finger in America. In Britain it's the two finger salute, so if someone looks like they're flashing you the peace sign and you only see the back of their hand, it's not a friendly gesture.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dad viewing scrapbook

Dad, originally uploaded by authorwannabe.

I made him an album filled with childhood photos for his 60th B-day.

What Have I Learned from my Dad?

(This is slightly belated and should have been posted on Sunday, but at any rate, here it is.)

Although I didn’t think about it until we bought our first house, I picked up my DIY skills from my dad. Watching my dad completely renovate the tiny out-dated bungalow into the sprawling ranch home they live in today, I picked up a few tips by simply watching what he did. He’s also given me advice when needed since then. I think I also get my perfectionist ways from him.

He always reminded me that we all have the same amount of time. It’s up to us how we prioritize. I also learned from him the fine art of ‘procrastination.’ Picture window dad? Being a homeowner our list of projects is starting to add up, so I can hardly cast the first stone. But once again, it’s nice to know where that bad habit comes from. : )

I learned how to appreciate the sweeter things in life – cookies, candy and all manner of desserts. Of course this has come back to bite me in the butt, or at least add pounds to it, but it’s nice to know I’m not alone in my appreciation for lovely confectionaries.

Although he’d deny it and say I get it from my great-grandfather, I think I inherited my gift for gab from my father. I’ve seen him at family functions and really the only time he shuts up is when he’s eating or drinking, or if everyone else has left the room. It’s okay dad. We all love your stories (even if we’ve heard them many times before). : )

Thursday, June 16, 2011

traffic lights for sale

traffic lights for sale, originally uploaded by authorwannabe.

garage sale in downtown Hilliard

Garage Sale Season

It’s that time of year again. Yes, it’s Garage Sale season. Time to check out the classified ads and plot your strategy to see how many you can possibly hit on a Saturday morning to beat the heat and score the good deals. I am willing to risk everything having been well picked-over by the time I get there in order to score a last minute bargain towards the end of the day (generally between 12-2pm). I have also learned to haggle with people in order to get a fair price (especially when I’m buying several things).

My sister is having her annual sale this weekend. I’ve been scrambling the last few days gathering items and slapping price stickers on everything. As usual it’s been exhausting and I always ask myself why I bother when I’m lucky to maybe make $50 ($80 being my record so far). I guess I do it because my sister is always willing to do it, and it does clear some clutter from our well-filled house. Also, it’s fun to see what she’s selling and meet with some of the customers.

Monday, May 23, 2011

movie poster

movie poster, originally uploaded by authorwannabe.

“Happy Thank You More Please”

After waiting nine months to see the film, the day finally arrived. I heard that it was playing when I turned on my radio right in the middle of an interview with the writer, director, producer and star (one of them anyway) of the film, Josh Radnor.

When last we met in September, Josh had just finished a one night fund raising screening of his movie and was on his way to promote the film at a festival in San Sebastian (Spain) while we were off to Venice, where yet another prestigious film festival was underway as well.

Suffice it to say, it was well worth the wait. The movie was everything I expected and more. There are so many memorable bits of dialogue it's hard to quote them all. Th e music, casting, cinematography, and just about everything was done expertly, and Josh and the crew definitely deserved the audience award at Sundance (Film Festival).

The movie reminded me a little of other generational films like “Singles” and “Reality Bites,” 'but less self-absorbed' my husband said. Both of those were about people in their 20's struggling to define themselves and make their way in the world. They were to the 90's what this movie is to whatever they're calling this decade.

During the Q & A session following the film I had a chance to ask Josh the following question, “What movies and filmmakers influenced and inspired you?” He replied that, as unusual as it might seem, he's not much of a movie buff and instead prefers to read. The reason being, he explained, is because “movies are such a commitment (of time), and often don't pay off in the end, whereas with a book you can just set it down and walk away.” Thinking about it, he said some of his favorite films were by Richard Linkletter like “Dazed and Confused,” or “Before Sunset” and “Before Sunrise.” “For some strange reason I could just watch both of those on a continuous loop” he said. He said “Tootsie” was the main reason for liking NYC and dressing like a woman (just kidding about that last part he said). He also mentioned “Broadcast News” and “Network” as films he's enjoyed as well.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

511 Things Only Women Understand

I recently purchased a funny book at a charity rummage sale called 511 Things Only Women Understand (by Lorraine Bodger). In this comprehensive guide, I came across the following that I feel particularly apply to me.

• That finding a pair of perfectly fitting jeans approaches having a religious experience.

• Buying that perfect t-shirt in 5 different colors.

• The thrill of a bra that fits perfectly.

• How you can have a closet stuffed to the walls and still not have anything to wear.

The first three are pretty self-explanatory, but I feel some elaboration is necessary on why having a full closet isn’t always a good thing. Every now and again a woman will have a function to attend that calls for just the right item whether it be a cute, sexy top or more formal business attire. She has a picture in her head of the perfect article of clothing, and sometimes that item can’t be found in her current wardrobe, calling for a trip to the mall (since most of the time you need it in a hurry and mail order simply won’t do!).

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Carefree Childhood Moment...

Last night I was walking to a local playground with my niece and two nephews. When I turned around to see what was delaying my younger nephew, I saw that he had stopped when he saw a patch of dandelions (now in the fluff stage). He picked one and said he was going to make a wish, and only blow away some of the fluff, because he wanted to make more than one wish. After he told me his wish he handed it to me and said, "Here Aunt Cindy, you make a wish," so I did, and blew away a little of the fluff before handing it back to him. He then proceeded to give it to his big brother to finish it off (not sure whether he made any wishes, but if he did, he didn't say them out loud).

I was too touched by this magical moment to even care about scattering seeds on random peoples' lawns.

In this age of gadgets and electronics where children rarely grow up as innocent and naive as we were when we were their age, it's nice to see that there's still a few childhood traditions that haven't completely died out yet.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cake Decorating 101 and Other Disasters…

A co-worker recently loaned me her non-stick (allegedly) cupcake cake pan which, for those who aren’t familiar with such culinary things, is divided into two halves. Anxious to try it out and having the perfect occasion (a birthday party at work), I eagerly accepted the challenge because, “How hard could it be?”

Famous last words.

I should know better by now, but somehow, history always repeats itself.

I think my first mistake was mixing two different cake styles – one regular and one mousse. For one thing, the mousse, which very much resembled a lava cake once in the oven, took twice as long to bake as the regular cake mix in the adjoining pan.

My second mistake was not allowing myself enough time to calmly and expertly cool and then frost the two halves of my cake. I initially started baking at 7pm, but quickly halted when I realized I didn’t have enough eggs. By the time I got back from the store, about an hour had lapsed.

Although behind schedule, I preheated the oven and then mixed the two different batches of cake mix taking turns pouring them into their respect halves. So far so good.

About a half hour later or so I checked the rapidly rising cakes. Although the vanilla cake seemed done, the chocolate (mousse) half still clung to the toothpick. I had a bit of a dilemma. How to let one cake cool while allowing the other to continue to bake? I scratched my head trying to figure out how to remove one cake without also tipping out the other. I ended up using a piece of wax paper and a plate. After much poking and prodding with a knife to loosen the vanilla cake, I was finally able to (mostly) pry it loose leaving only a small chunk behind.

Fast forward to about a half hour later when the chocolate mousse was finally solid enough and had been removed from the pan (with almost no trouble). I decided the time was right to finally join the two halves [I had previously frosted the middle]. Although there was a bit of space between the top and bottom, it looked okay – at least from the front.

Next order of business was to frost the top half and then decorate it. It started out smooth and easy enough, but the icing soon began dripping over the bottom half and onto the surrounding pan. After a few feeble attempts at triage, I finally gave up and surveyed the damage. It was bad. Real bad. My cupcake cake definitely showed my lack of expertise and was, quite frankly, laughable.

In my attempt to perhaps salvage the disaster, I had the idea to cut a piece off the back so the cake could lay flat displaying only its good side. However, once I did that, gravity had other plans and the situation went from bad to worse. In an effort to cut my losses, I decided to save the bottom (chocolate mousse) half for my husband and I and tossed out the rest. The bottom half, with white frosting half melted all over it, kind of resembled one of those cake candles you find at craft fairs. My husband said it actually tasted alright, but would be better with the mousse packet included in the cake mix box. That’s another project for another night…

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Do Something Different…

I don’t know about the rest of you, but every now and then I get bored with the old routine and try to deviate it, ever so slightly, to shake things up a bit.

Here are some examples of what I’ve done over the last week or so.

Thursday – Having never attended the Maundy Thursday mass at my church, I decided to go and check it out. At an hour and a half long, it was certainly shorter than I recall the Good Friday mass being. It was also a lot more crowded than I anticipated, but then it is a holy day of obligation and not as many people have to work in the evening.

Friday – It was more an accident than anything else that I ended up differing my routine. I usually try to abstain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent preferring instead to have fish or pasta or something. I accidentally had a piece of pepperoni pizza (momentarily forgetting that pepperoni is meat). Later I was trying to drive to a local gadget store and got hopelessly lost, so I guess you could say I went ‘exploring,’ even if it wasn’t on purpose.

Saturday – I shopped our local grocery store in the reverse order (starting out at the pharmacy side and finishing by the produce). I’ve done that before, but certainly not often.

Sunday – I attended a different church for the annual Easter Sunday service. I enjoyed it so much, I think I will go there on all the major holidays (especially as it’s less crowded and a lot more comfortable than my church). Also, I watched a pre-recorded program in the middle of the afternoon, which is something I almost never do (preferring to do chores all afternoon and enjoy TV in the evening).

Monday – I read a book while working out on my stationery bike. I’ve only ever done that once before.

Tuesday – I went to the gym, which is something I haven’t done since November. Also, when I got home I just sat down and watched TV for like an hour, instead of making dinner.

Wednesday – I went to the grocery store and had one of their employees make me a tray of pinwheels using some wraps they had in the back. I’ve never done that before.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Shopaholic (by Judy Waite, also by Sophie Kinsella)

I Love Old Things (by Harold Darling)

Books Do Furnish a Room (by Leslie Geddes Brown)

Charity Shopping: the Thrift Lifestyle (by Lettice Wilkinson)

The Anglophile (by Laurie Gwen Shapiro)

Life Would be Great if I Lived in that House (by Meghan Daum)

Hector and the Search for Happiness (by Francois Lelord)

Good to a Fault (by Marina Endicott)

I Know I’m Not Supposed to Say This…But I’ll Say It Anyway (by Dick Feagler)

The Lazy Environmentalist (by Josh Dorfman)

Friday, March 25, 2011

I Wish...

I wish more plastics were recyclable so I didn't feel guilty every time I threw away something plastic.

I wish I only worked four days a week (and had Fridays off).

I wish chocolate and other sweet delights weren’t so addictive or fattening!

I wish I lived somewhere more interesting (i.e. within walking distance of trendy shops and restaurants).

I wish we had better public transportation so I could leave the traffic and parking worries to someone else when going to places out of town.

I wish I had a staff to take care of me (hairdresser, gardener, house keeper, chef).

I wish there were more hours in the day or that I had more free time to get things done when I’m not at work.

I wish I was a published author (of a book).

I wish I had at least one famous friend (because I think that would be so cool!).

I wish I had the time and money to do lots of travelling (and shopping!).

Friday, March 18, 2011

blue purse

blue purse, originally uploaded by authorwannabe.

Just one of the many "weekend" purses in my collection, which I enhanced by attaching a faux Chinese coin as a faux clasp.

Big Purse or Little Purse?

Indulge me if you will, in discussing another passage from Lisa Scottoline’s book, My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space.

In one of my favorite chapters, entitled, “The Right to Choose,” Scottoline discusses the ‘decision that women have to make every morning: Big purse or little purse?’

She says, ‘I know it’s not life or death, but it makes you nuts if you choose the wrong one as consistently as I do. If you carry a big purse for the day, it’s guaranteed that you’ll end up never needing anything you’re lugging around like a pack animal. And if you carry a little purse for the day, you’ll invariably end up tucking things under your armpit or asking your husband to carry them.’

For day-to-day use, I am more in favor of carrying a big purse, though I am aware that makes me look disorganized since I insist on carrying so many items with me (at least according to an article I read on I prefer to think of myself as ‘prepared,’ which is why my purse is so full.

For instance, I carry a small umbrella which occasionally comes in handy. I also have a small cosmetic bag full of misc. little items like antacids, mints, a tape measure (both kinds), wet wipes, etc.

Otherwise, I pretty much carry normal items: my wallet, a cell phone, a small digital camera, my I-Pod & speaker, a small notepad and pen, a bag of coupons, and three fold-up reuseable shopping bags (I have more, but only carry three).

I once heard on the radio that the average woman’s handbag weighs 7lbs. I weighed mine once and it tipped the scales at only 6lbs. I suppose that is kind of heavy, but I actually use most of what I carry, so I don’t see how I could possibly downsize. Sometimes I’ll remove my cosmetic bag and put it in my book bag, but I’m not sure that eliminates much more than a pound.

I could perhaps get away with a smaller wallet if I didn’t have to carry so many reward cards for all the stores where I shop. They should all do what JC Penney does, and just give you points when you use your regular credit card (Visa or Mastercard) at their store. Of course I realize you don’t always have to have your card with you, but it usually speeds things up if you do.

About half my ‘bag collection’ consists of smaller bags to be used for weekend excursions to the mall, dinner and a movie, or wherever. Due to the amount of walking involved sometimes, it’s preferable not to weigh myself down too much, so I usually leave the umbrella and cosmetic bag at home. I also like how cute and stylish (at least to me) some of these smaller bags are compared to the larger more utilitarian ones I have.

I have to admit to envying those that can get away with carrying a smaller bag all the time. I’m just assuming they have their essentials stashed elsewhere, or don’t worry about being caught off-guard without something.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

“Miles to Go” & “A Second Home”

I recently read a couple things that so perfectly apply to me that I just had to share them with you. The first is a chapter out of Lisa Scottoline's book, My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space. In it she says, “I love having a Things To Do list, and over the years, I perfected a template for my Things To Do list. I write the list of Things To Do on the right, and on the left, next to each Thing, I draw a big circle. I get to check the circle only after each Thing is Done. Oh boy, I love checking those circles. I make a big check, like a schoolteacher at the top of your homework. Then I stand before my list and survey with satisfaction all the checked circles. And oddly, I admit that I've added to the list a Thing I've Already Done, just so I can check the circle. I know, right? It's kind of kooky.”

Speaking for myself, I, too, make lists, but I don't make circles. I'm content to just cross through each task. However, I have been known to add the occasional item, just for the satisfaction of crossing it off. To be honest, I much prefer making lists than actually doing the tasks on them, but I'm pretty sure that's normal, right?

The second excerpt, called “A Second Home” comes from David Owen's Around the House: Reflections on Life Under a Roof.

“Many people dream of owning a second home. They picture a gray-shingled saltbox with a view of the ocean, or a cozy chalet near a ski slope in the mountains, or an old white farmhouse surrounded by orchards and stone walls.

I dream of owning a second home too, but a different kind. Mine wouldn't be near the beach, or in the mountains, or at the end of a country road. It wouldn't be in a different state, or even a different town. It would be right up the street from my first home, maybe a couple of doors away.”

Owen goes on the describe how the second house would be for living, really living, without worrying about it looking like a showhouse (see “Our second home would be the place where we would go when we were tired of keeping up appearances. In our second home, we would live the way people would live if they didn't care what other people might think. And because our second home would be the home of all the messy parts of our lives, our first home would stay pretty nice.”

I think there's a certain logic to that. I love playing decorator and enjoy spending time admiring our furnishings, but get fed up with constant cleaning and maintenance. If a second house meant we didn't have to do any of that, I would be totally on board with that. We might even entertain more if we had a second house, because then we wouldn't have to worry about children wrecking it or adults judging our taste in décor.

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Tribute to Sofia Coppola

In Honor of the Oscars I thought I’d discuss one of my favorite directors – that being the young (actually only a year younger than me) Sofia Coppola. Being the daughter of the famous Francis Ford certainly didn’t hurt her chances in Hollywood, as she got her start in front of the camera before making her directorial debut in 1999 with “The Virgin Suicides.”

Having now seen all four of her films, “The Virgin Suicides,” “Lost in Translation,” “Marie Antoinette,” and “Somewhere,” a few things about Coppola’s style can be concluded. Her films are dark, or at least have a tragic edge to them; she likes to cast rising actresses like Kirsten Dunst (2 out of the 4 films), Scarlett Johansen, and Elle Fanning; she picks fabulous soundtracks and certainly has an eye for detail.

Being a fan of all things Japanese, I’d have to say “Lost in Translation” is probably my favorite of the four, but “Marie Antoinette” had the best ‘eye candy’ where costumes and scenery are concerned.

“The Virgin Suicides” and “Somewhere” are both equally tragic, but in different ways. Both will leave you feeling somewhat bereft, but also fulfilled with excellent stories that everyone can relate to in some way.

With an average of three to four years between pictures, I look forward to her next effort, as they’re always worth the wait.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Drew Carey et al

W.L.I.I.A?, originally uploaded by ● KarenciTz★.

TV Programs Set in Ohio

After enjoying the latest episodes of “Hot in Cleveland” and “Harry’s Law” I got to thinking about how many television programs have been set in Ohio. According to Wikipedia, that number is 23, which dates back to the 1950’s. It seems most are set in either Cleveland or Cincinnati, but a few are in Northwest Ohio – like “Melissa and Joey” (Toledo) and “Glee” (Lima).

There are others set in fictional towns like “3rd Rock from the Sun” set in Rutherford; “Ed” set in Stuckeyville; “Fernwood2Night” set in Fernwood; and Normal, Ohio” set in Normal. Other than “3rd Rock,” I haven’t seen these other programs.

My husband thinks the reason so many shows are set in Ohio is because our state is a fairly accurate representation of the traditional Midwest. True or not, it is fun to watch some of these programs keeping an eye out for familiar backdrops. Unlike in Ohio where we have snow in the winter, not all these programs accurately depict that season. Drew Carey’s show did it better than most as they wore winter coats and were often pictured outside playing with Drew’s pool table in his backyard.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ohio is an unhealthy state

News on today:

Top Ten List of States with the Deadliest Eating Habits

8. Ohio

Grocery Stores Per 1,000 Residents: 0.18 (45th)
Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $622 (20th least)
Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 70 (11th most)
Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 122 (10th most)
Because a large part of Ohio's poor population is located in major urban centers like Cleveland and Cincinnati, the state ranks well in regards to access to grocery stores among the poor. However, the state ranks third-worst in store availability across all income classes at 0.18 locations per 1,000 people, compared to 0.6 in first place North Dakota. Ohio's population has the 11th-greatest consumption of soft drinks, and top-10 highest consumption of both sweet snacks and solid fats. As a result of these poor diets, Ohio has an adult diabetes occurrence of over 10%, which is the 11th-worst rate in the country.

I’m not surprised by this. Having previously read that Ohio is one of the unhealthiest states when it comes to the amount of overweight people, this wasn’t news to me. Maybe it has something to do with sports. Clevelanders could be forgiven for wanting to drown their sorrows in a bowl of Ben and Jerry’s after pounding back a few Budweisers. Down here in Columbus, fans eat to celebrate when tailgating, during a game and after a game. Of course there are also the occasional disappointments (in which case, we keep right on eating).

Speaking for myself, I definitely don’t have the healthiest eating habits, but I’m not exactly pounding back the burgers either. I have a sweet tooth and a weakness for a small amount of chocolate after meals (lunch and dinner). I try to watch my cholesterol since it’s usually borderline, and I just try to eat bad things in moderation.

I go to the gym on and off and I have my own stationary bike in the basement, which I do try to use on days I don’t go to the gym (that or use my Wii Fit). As a result, I am usually able to keep my weight in check (with a low of 113 to a high of 118).

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

In my on-going effort to declutter, I decided to start going through an old shoebox of letters. I thought it would be quick and easy. I’m not sure why I was that naïve. It’s proven to be anything but.

For starters, even though everyone appreciates a hand-written note over something typed, the older you get (or rather, the older your eyes get), the harder it is to decipher handwriting. The few typed letters I came across were so much quicker and easier to read, but I digress. The childhood letters written in pencil were probably the worst since they were written lightly to start off with and have just faded into oblivion.

I find myself wanting to discard so many of these once touching notes that I am starting to feel guilty. Am I no longer a sentimental old fool? Am I trying to bury a part of my past by getting rid of these? (honestly, yes!) Will I be sorry later for tossing these? (doubtful since I haven’t bothered to read any of these letters in probably 20 years). If the person who wrote me these letters passed away would I suddenly want to reread their letters? (probably not, but the possibility exists, so I am weighing that in my decision).

So many of the letters and miscellaneous ephemera I found in the box I am really surprised I saved (like notes from a creepy guy who once liked me in college of whom I never returned the affections).

It was kind of funny rereading letters I received as a young teenager when the most popular topic of conversation seemed to be “boys” (not surprisingly) followed by what classes we were taking and our grades.

Among other things, I came across a letter I received from a boy who had sent a balloon from his home in Michigan (I think). We wrote to him to let him know it ended up in our yard, and he sent back a short handwritten letter with a photo. That, apparently, was the end of our correspondence since I couldn’t find any further letters. I also found a letter from a one-off pen pal who must have either changed her mind or discovered we didn’t have much in common since I only found one letter from her. Incidentally, these are items that will go into the recycling pile since I don’t see any reason to save these singular items.

While reading these letters the thought occurred to me that the generations following mine will probably never have such things to look back on since the majority of their correspondence will have been in e-mails. Even I have a long past of e-mails too and shudder to think how many I’ve written in the last 20 years or so.

Douglas Coupland, author of such best sellers as Generation X, J-Pod, and Hey Nostradamus, had this to say about letter writing:

“I sent one a while back, just because I was in another country and wanted to, and the person I sent it to was like, ‘Why did you write that? You scared the shit out of me!’ Now a letter is like a telegram saying your kid’s dead. She opened it expecting melodrama. It’s amazing that well within a decade e-mail has so completely changed all of that.”

I just typed a letter and sent it to my friend with the same thought, but decided to go ahead and send it anyway figuring maybe she won’t be as shocked as I think (as she isn’t reachable by e-mail these days).

Although I like the instant gratification of e-mail, there’s still nothing like sitting down with a drink while enjoying a long letter from an old friend or significant other who is far away.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ashley Turns 10!

Ashley on swing, originally uploaded by authorwannabe.

My third oldest niece turns 10 on Saturday leaving just my youngest niece to still hit the double digits. Felize Cumpleanos Ashley!

News of the Weird (by Chuck Shepherd)

This is a little blurb I just came across when reading one of my favorite columns in the free Columbus newspaper called The Other.

The Toronto Public Library began its "Human Library" project in November with about 200 users registering to "check out" interesting persons from the community who would sit and converse with patrons who might not otherwise have the opportunity to mingle with people like them. The first day's lend-outs, for a half-hour at a time, included a police officer, a comedian, a former sex worker, a model, and a person who had survived cancer, homelessness and poverty. The Human Library actually harkens back to olden times, said a TPL official, where "storytelling from person to person" "was the only way to learn."

It sounds kind of interesting to me. I wonder if the Columbus Metro. Library would ever consider doing something like this? Maybe I should forward this to them?

Monday, January 10, 2011

THXTHXTHX: a thank you note a day

As a tribute to one of my favorite blogs ( I thought I'd write a few of my own Thank You notes.

Dear package addressed to my co-worker’s cat,

Thanks for letting me sign for and deliver you to my co-worker. The fact that you were intended for a cat really made my day.

Dear basement,

Thanks for being there when I need to store some of my “junk.” I will try to spend more time with you in the future instead of only coming down to dump more stuff.

Dear NBC and CBS,

Thanks for showing new episodes of all my favorite shows last week. I missed them over the Christmas holiday and it was like seeing old friends again.

Dear Fridays,

Thanks for being there every week. I know everyone probably says this, but you really rock and you’re the reason I get up every Monday.

Dear candy-filled tin in the kitchen cupboard,

Thanks for always being at least half full and delivering so much chocolately goodness. You make these dark winter days at least somewhat tolerable.