Monday, December 31, 2012

Resolve This

This is not what I would call my favorite time of year. Christmas is over, the gifts have all been opened. the pretty decorations are all going away and we are also expected to stop eating decadent goodies and drinking cocktails with candy canes hanging off the rim and instead, makes lists of all our frailties and how we are going to overcome them in the next 365 days. No pressure there.

No matter who or where you are, the resolutions are always eerily similar: lose weight, work out, stop spending $1847 a year on coffee at Starbucks. This year I decided to think out of the box and come up with some real, dig-down-deep resolutions. Ones that will really implement some lasting change.

My list of New Year's resolutions for a new and improved me in 2013:

1. Drink fewer cocktails. Undoubtedly, this will mean making my drinks stronger. It will take commitment, but I believe that with diligence and hard work, it can be done.

2. Go for quality over quantity in cases involving friends, clothes...anything except food. I am what they call a volume eater and I would rather eat 20 rice cakes than one of those stupidly small two-bite desserts that belong on the buffet table in the Barbie dream house.

3. Finally figure out who let the dogs out. Seriously, we've been wondering since, what, 2000? That's a mystery that begs to be solved.

4. Build up my biceps by increasing my cupcake curls to at least one day a week. Decide. Commit. Succeed.

5. Love, honor, cherish and obey sparkly things. I did that in 2012 and most years before, too. It's just a good rule of thumb for awesomeness.

6. I also plan to use the words hussy, jezebel and tart more often. I don't have anyone specific in mind, but they're fine words that deserve more usage. I'm sure I can find some perfect instances for these timeless terms.

7. I will wear pants with an actual button and/or waistband at least a few times a week. What with leggings, jeggings and yoga pants, it's been a stretchy clothes December. But it needs to stop or I will wind up being one of those people who get so fat they are trapped in their home and have to be cut out with the jaws of life.

8. Conversely, I am also going to resolve to spend more time in my pajamas. It's when I get out of them that things start to go awry, and I usually wish I had just stayed home, comfy and cozy and not hot-rolled.

I've shown you mine, now it's your turn. Make your own list, you hussy, and resolve to have the a New Year so happy, it will drive your enemies nuts! Go get 'em!

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

You Really Shouldn't Have

What's the worst Christmas gift you've ever gotten? I'm not talking socks, underwear or a homemade sweater--I'm talking horrible, terrible, no good, very bad gifts. I've gotten a few doozies over the years, and I'll tell you what: if you can beat my worst, you win a prize.

But before I get to the ultimate worst, let's visit with the runners up. One year I opened a pair of what I would have sworn to be mens gray flannel pajamas. In a size large. Basically, it was a big flannel elephant costume. The only thing that convinced me these were womens is that they came from a popular lingerie store (and the Secret is that Victoria wouldn't be caught dead in them). Apparently, the giver thought I had a burning desire for something that resembled prison garb from the Shawshank Redemption. I took these lookers back to said store in an attempt at getting a refund, waited in a line about 20 bra and thong toting people deep, and was then told the retail value of my gift was...drum roll...$3.99. That's right: someone didn't even like me enough to spend a five-spot on a real Christmas present. I gave the clerk the pajamas and told her to keep the $3.99. That's the cost of a lesson learned.

Another year, my husband's family drew names. Everyone took turns opening their treasures, and when it was my turn, I saw everyone exchange glances in anticipation. My gift came from one of the cousins who lives in Alaska, and I know now that she is a notoriously bad gift giver. She wasn't there to see me open the gift, and it's probably a good thing. Chick bought me a poster of a brown bear running through a field. Seriously. It was like a National Geographic centerfold, all wrapped up with my name on it.

Now listen, Eskimo girl: I don't know how they roll up in Anchorage, but down South, that is not cool. I am thirty some-odd years old and that bear is not going up on my bedroom wall, a la something during my junior high years out of Tiger Beat. I am not a poster lover and I am surely not a nature lover, and I suspect that bear cost roughly the same price as the gray flannel jammies. Man, people have just got to stop spoiling me with these extravagant gifts. Next time, send whale blubber. At least it's novel.

But now let's get down to business. There is one gift that is so terrible, no one can beat it. A family member of mine gave me the ultimate crap gift. Before I even opened the box, she had already proclaimed, "you aren't going to like it." Oh, goodie, now I really can't wait. The year before she had gifted me a Dust Buster and I really thought that was our low point, but she proved my dust busting arse wrong. I pulled back the box lid with timid anticipation and found: two smoke detectors.

I swear to you that I looked around for someone to confirm it was a joke. No such luck. Who does that? Unless you are buying for Fire Marshall Bill, smoke detectors aren't on any sane person's wish list. It was like she cleaned out the garage and found my Christmas present on a shelf with some leftover paint and a can of Raid. They even spelled "guard" wrong on the box (although it does state that is has a hinged cover--only the luxury models have those). Not only that, she didn't even bother to put batteries in the things. So now I've got a crummy present that will also allow me to sleep peacefully while my house burns down around me.

I still have one of them, just as evidence that I was the recipient of the worst Christmas gift in the history of the world. Any time someone complains about a present, I go to my laundry room and pull out the trusty smoke alarm and trump that whining. And I'll take it one step further: if you got a Christmas gift that's worse than mine, I'll give you my smoke detector.

Here's hoping you had a fireproof, flannel pajama free, merry as a bear in a field Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dear Santa

Dearest, sweetest, most handsome Santa,

We both know how angelic perfect good I have been this year. Okay, maybe not totally flawless, but that would be annoying and not much fun at all. This girl believes she has been just the right mix of naughty and nice to earn some real finds under the tree Christmas morning.

There are some things money can't buy. Please don't bring me any of those things for Christmas. Your taste is usually impeccable, however, I wanted to make it easy on you by offering up some suggestions. I have come up with a short list of some items that I cannot find in stores and would especially thrill in getting. I have not doubt that the elves can make these wonders with minimal North Pole magic, no sweat. So, without further ado, I present my Christmas list:

1. This is what my little heart desires the most: one of those stick-your-head-inside hairdo machines that Jane and Judy Jetson had. It would give me hours, nay years, back to enjoy that I normally spend wielding a curling iron like a weapon and praying over my follicles. Do these two look like they are slaves to their hair? I think not.

2. Pajama Jeans. You see, they allegedly look like designer jeans but feel like you are wearing pajamas. Love that. Yes, I know that these are "as seen on TV" and technically are sold in stores, but they don't come in an extra small. Now Santa, don't get all big boy on me and begrudge me this fine gift just because I am petite and need a small size. I can practically picture Mrs. Claus rolling her eyes on this one, but hear me out. After all, they are Pajama Jeans and made to be roomy. If I were asking for skinny jeans, you bet your big black boots I wouldn't be requesting an extra small. While we're at it, Pajama Dress Pants and Pajama Cocktail Dresses would also be delightful.
3. A pair of cute shoes that don't make my feet feel like they have been clubbed with a sledgehammer while I am wearing them. Outside of the elves magical North Pole workshop, these do not exist in my world, but I would love for them to--oh the bliss! (Please, do not send me the curly toed wonders the elves always sport--not what I had in mind).
4. Some sort of low-voltage shock device to zap Clint when he's snoring/hogging the covers/invading my side of the bed. Nothing that will do any permanent damage, but something with enough kick to get his attention and give me a little satisfaction while using it. Since you see me when I'm sleeping and you know when I'm awake, you no doubt understand my need for this little ditty. Oh, and it should be shaped like a small pitchfork. Not for any functional reason, just for aesthetics. Zap, zap.
5. An apparel thermometer. Why these aren't sold in every store is beyond me. That's super great that it's 57 degrees out there, but what I really need to know is what the flip to wear in said climate. Sweater? Jacket? Gloves? Is wind chill involved? The apparel thermometer will just say t-shirt, or flip flops, or bundle up like Ralphie's brother in A Christmas Story so you can't put your arms by your sides. It can also include the actual temperature, you know, for anyone who might want to know that, too.
6. Number six on my list, no coincidence, is six-pack abs. Because you are all-seeing Santa, surely you know that I have been working on my "flabs" since about 1993 and alas, abs of steel have not yet materialized for me. So if you could just go ahead and bring me some washboard ones, I can finally enjoy crop tops come spring time.
Also, if you have time, please make the carrot cake pancakes at IHOP calorie-free and bring back the television shows 24 and Felicity. And although I do not have a pool, I could still use Ryan Reynolds as a cabana boy and put him to very good use. Oh yeah, and world peace and stuff, too.
Love you. Mean it.
P.S. I'm not leaving any cookies out for you this year because I burnt the first batch and gave all the rest away to my neighbors who, I'm sure, were overwhelmed with gratitude. I recommend you stop at Ben & Jerry's at the entrance to my neighborhood and make it a Cherry Garcia Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Cat's Away...

You know what they say: when the cat's away, the mouse will play. My adoring husband and I don't exactly have a cat-and-mouse relationship, but I do enjoy my free time when he is out of town. Last week found Clint away for the night on business, so I declared it a free day. And free days are awesome.

Free days are when you can do all the things you don't get to do when you're being supervised. I don't have to make up the bed, there are no meals to cook, and I don't have to be productive because there is not a soul around to notice. (Except Cotton and he can easily be bought. A walk and a chew treat, and his lips are sealed).

Last week was a particularly fantastic free day. I got caught up on some reading (InStyle, a couple of People magazines that had been piling up in the magazine rack and making me nervous...something about a royal baby). Then I systematically watched every guilty pleasure show that makes Clint whine/sigh/beg to change the channel. Cue marathon run of  Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team, Fashion Police, a Christmas movie, and then the capper: I rented Magic Mike (which, to clarify, is best viewed with no sound and a heavy hand on the fast forward button).

That's right. The cat is away, and the mouse is at home, ogling scantily clad beefcakes on the cat's new wide screen HD television. I just knew that purchase would make more sense to me if I gave it time. Magic Mike was just the right time.

Free days are also an awesome time to eat things that my other half hates. Pizza Hut is about 100 yards from my house, but carryout would have meant changing out of my fuzzy pink slippers and leaving the warm glow of my Christmas tree. Needless to say, I called for delivery. One Veggie Lover's pizza, all for me. I got to eat black olives on said pizza without anyone pointing out that they are disgusting and gross and making gagging noises. And another trick I've learned to really enjoy free day?

Can you spot the free day bonus in this picture?

Yep, I'll admit it. I hid a pint of Ben & Jerry's behind the frozen vegetables so I could eat the entire carton all by myself. Hey, if you are afraid of frozen broccoli you get what you deserve. It just tastes better when it's devious, believe me on that.

And there you have it: a do nothing day of magazines, chick shows and junk food. It's probably a good thing I didn't marry a traveling salesman, or I would weigh 300 pounds and regurgitate nothing but pop culture when I finally ventured out of the house for more Doritos and US Weeklys.

The cat, er, Clint came back the next night. There were clean sheets on the bed, two loads of laundry done, vacuum tracks on all the carpet in the house, and dinner cooking on the stove. The magazines and ice cream carton trash had been taken out and Magic Mike and all his dancing glory was promptly returned. Happy wife, happy life? Talk about a happy home.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Smoke Monster

It kills my inner domestic goddess to tell you this: I hate to bake. I don't mind cooking, but baking is so messy, time consuming, and unpredictable. After all the sweat, toil, and trouble, you have about equal odds of producing a masterpiece or turning out something that makes everyone who tastes it feel sorry for you.

My brother once dated a girl who would bake obsessively when she got nervous or stressed. Apparently, they had a fight one weekend and he woke up the next morning to a pile of pies, stacks of cakes, and mountains of cookies. It's probably good for everyone that she didn't last. I can just see our family trying to flip this girl's lid just to get our hungry hands on some fresh baked goods. Personally, I like to eat them, not create them. I have such an appreciation for anyone giving the gift of baked delicacies that it's right up there with gold, frankincense and myrrh in my book.

But it's Christmas and everyone is making freaking cookies and I will not be outdone (thank you, Pinterest, this is all your over achieving fault. Again.). They say you are only as good as the equipment that you use, which is probably why I am such an awesome baker. Meet the Smoke Monster:

He's a beaut, right? I inherited the Smoke Monster from my granny (yes, I am an heiress, don't hate) and although a Sunbeam never tells its age, we estimate it to be about as old as I am--in other words, a fine young thing. This machine is such a 70s time machine, I have a theory that if you attach a flux capacitor to the beaters, it will mix you right back into the disco era.

Smokey got his name because he doth protest too much whenever I get him out. The 'Monster makes a high pitched, angry screeching noise and crawls its way across the counter while mixing as if trying to escape the torture of hanging out with butter, eggs and sugar. He gets <literally> hot and bothered and will smoke if you don't get in, get out, and get it over with. The Smoke Monster clearly had other ambitions (blender? cement mixer?) and had to settle.

If you are wondering why I don't go out and buy a new mixer, perhaps you have never taken notice of the price of these things. You can stay a night at the Four Seasons for what a KitchenAid costs, and baby gets a new pair of shoes for less than one of the "lesser" brands fetching price. The Smoke Monster was, and is, free. We soldier on together. Get 'er done and all that.

A few days ago, the 'Monster and I decided to spread some yuletide cheer with some Christmas cookies for the neighbors. Break out the Crisco and pass the vanilla, here we come. I caught a glimpse of my reflection in my kitchen window about 15 minutes in and found an odd resemblance to Al Pacino from Scarface, when he is at his desk with that big pile of cocaine. No, I'm not making any nose candy cookies, I was doused in flour. It really goes against my neat freak code of conduct, but in the spirit of Christmas, I pressed on.

I need to add some of my own notations to the recipe I used. Note one: recipe suggests that you drop the dough by teaspoons to form the cookies. Um, perhaps if you are making batches of cookies for the Smurf village these would be an appropriate size. I have seen bigger cookies in a box of Cookie Crisp cereal. Two: Yields six dozen cookies. Are you talking about six dozen of those dime sized elf nibbles? I like my cookies the size of hubcaps, thankyouverymuch. Note three: the recipe says to bake these mini masterpieces for 10 minutes. Seven minutes in, I smell burning cookies. Dancing on the edge of incinerated. My cookies look like that Tanning Bed Mom who was all over the news a few months ago admitting she was addicted to tanning.

Luckily for me, I have a husband who takes joy in eating pretty much everything burnt cookies. So we kept the Bain de Soleil batch and passed the ones that I hope and pray were edible on to some of the friendly folks who live around us. Next year, I fully intend to give the gift of Chips Ahoy.

And so, Merry Christmas from the Smoke Monster and me. Let it be a lesson to you that it is perfectly productive to screech, squirm and get all hot and bothered!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Twelve Days of CarbFest

I have a love/hate relationship with food, in that I love to eat it and I hate when I can't. I think it's safe to say that by this point in the yuletide festivities, most of us have shoved the skinny jeans to the back of the closet, right behind the acid washed Jordache ones you're still hoping will come back in style. Since Turkey Day and all its gravy coated wonder, I've been opting for roomier options since I am afraid anything fitted might pop a button and potentially put out some unsuspecting bystander's eye. This time of year, it's even beyond hard to bend over and tie your shoes (Oh wait? Is that just me?). Whilst sitting here in my elastic waistband pants, I happen to feel that it was worth every bite.

Perusing a magazine in the grocery store checkout line, I read that the average American gains just one pound over the holidays. As usual, I am way above average. How awesome for me. I was telling a freau (pronounced "fro"--that's my term for an ex-beau who is now a friend) that this time of year is so hard on the diet. "Cut out the carbs," he said. "All they do is make you tired and puffy, anyway."

Let me assure you when he said "you," that boy was using a generalization. I never let freaus see me looking tired and/or puffy, so I know that comment was in no way directed at yours truly. I very quickly assured him that carbs make me feel warm, cozy, giddy, euphoric and full. They do not make me tired. And if I am dragging a bit, there is an easy explanation: cold, flu, insomnia, carbon monoxide poisoning, vitamin deficiency, boredom, stress, over caffeination, under caffeination, exhaustion, sleep apnea, tranquilizer dart...anything but carbs. My precious carbohydrates would not do that to me. Our love runs both ways, I can feel it.

And so, with my Cheetoh stained fingers, I have created a little ode to my beloveds to the tune of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Rather than being repetitive, I skipped right to the last day with all the marbled rye--oops--marbles. Now, twelve days is just a suggestion; it's the holidays so you go right on loving those goodies all month long, right into the New Year. Do not stop on my account. No carb left behind!

The Twelve Days of CarbFest
On the twelfth day of CarbFest, my true love Channing Tatum sent to me:
Twelve doughnuts glazing,
Eleven french fries frying,
Ten buttered biscuits,
Nine Belgian waffles,
Eight cakes a-baking,
Seven pints of ice cream,
Six chips a-dipping,
Five onion rings,
Four waffle cones,
Three french bread pizzas,
Two turtle brownies,
And a big bowl of spaghetti.
Ah, what a happy little tune. Feel free to sing with your mouth full. And I promise to practice what I preach, er, sing. One final note: I love them all, but the couch potato will always be my favorite. Viva la carb!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Lights and Champs (and Segways), Oh My!

I'm just going to come right out and say it: the North Carolina Department of Tourism would be in awe of the weekend we just had. After I post this and word gets around, I expect some sort of certificate of recognition or plaque to be presented.

We had friends visiting Charlotte for their very first time. They came in from San Diego and we had 54 hours (or so) to show them the town. Which basically meant a chance for me to do all the fun things I have been wanting to do around this joint but haven't had an excuse. First, the boys wanted barbecue, so we did that. Pulled pork sandwiches and cole slaw and the whole lot for lunch. But let's fast forward (which I rarely do where food is concerned, so that should tell you something). I have two words for you: Segway tour.

If you haven't ever ridden one of these things, they are so much fun. Super fun. Crazy fun. And we spent an hour and a half touring Uptown, Bank of America stadium, historic Fourth Ward, etc. on our new sets of wheels Friday afternoon. Did it rain? Yes. Was it cold? Indeed. Did I make the tragic decision to leave my coat and gloves in the car? You know it. And it was still one of those grin ear-to-ear experiences.

That would be me, geeking out on my Segway. If I ever go back to work, I am going to give tours. On Segways. The bad news is that you can never have a good hair day wearing a helmet. The good news is that you can never have a bad hair day in one either.

I told our tour guide that I wanted a Segway, and he informed me that you can buy them on Amazon (duh...I could have told him that) and they go for $6,000. Yeah, I wanted one but I didn't want to trade my car in for one. So if anyone is looking for Christmas gift ideas for me, I'm just floating it out there....
Friday evening our adorable neighbors joined us for dinner, and then we limoed it (that is probably not a word, but it should be, so use it in a sentence before the end of the day and let's get the ball rolling on it) to McAdenville, North Carolina a.k.a. Christmastown USA. McAdenville has a town population of about 650 people and more Christmas spirit than Whoville on Christmas morning. Every house, every tree is dripping in clear, red and green lights and the whole town is a soundtrack of church bells and carols. Richard and Amy (adorable neighbors) even had the genius to bring champs. I'd like to thank Heather from Real Housewives of Orange County for teaching us to call champagne "champs." It just classes it up even more.

I could stop there and you would be slightly impressed. Maybe even a little jealous. But I wasn't finished (although apparently I was finished with taking pictures, because I don't have any photographic evidence of what followed). Saturday we loaded up the sleigh and took our guests to Asheville for a candlelight Christmas tour of the Biltmore Estate and a stay at the Grove Park Inn.
If you like beautiful mansions, Christmas decorations, fireplaces, hot toddies, cozy spaces, the National Gingerbread Competition (it is held every year at the Grove Park and the only thing no one has done <yet> is make a working gingerbread space shuttle) and/or good times, you would love Biltmore and the Grove Park. If you don't like any of those things, well, you would probably forget yourself and wind up having a good time anyway.
After a brunch of goat cheese grits, fresh biscuits and fried egg BLTs (and a sweet potato pancake or two), it was time to send them back to the West Coast. I think we sent them back with a little more Christmas spirit and maybe even a little dose of Southern-ness in their back pockets.
Christmas lights and champs and Segways, oh my! Consider this town painted.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fine Feathered Foe

Despite the fact that we live in Charlotte proper, right off a major thoroughfare, our backyard is critter central. A few weekends ago, I walked out to find a doe as tall as me (not that that is saying much since I am a towering 5'4) grazing in our grass. Over the summer we had a black snake the size of a python (on this, I am not exaggerating) and two copperheads. We've had owls, bunnies, hawks, possums, and neighbors have mentioned that there are also raccoons in the neighborhood. While I'm no nature lover (wearing animal print is about as close to nature as I like to get), I can usually deal.

However, I am deathly, deathly afraid of birds. You all should be. They are just waiting for the opportune moment to pounce and peck all our eyes out. Horrible, terrible, gross creatures (H1N1 bird flu, anyone?). I have felt this way as long as I can remember and my family swears it is not due to some traumatic event during early childhood involving a toucan or something. And they never miss the chance to tell a good story, so there must not be any material there. If you have never seen the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds, watch and learn. A picture from that cautionary film to illustrate my point:

When I was fourteen or so, my parents got my younger brother a pet. Specifically, Pete the parakeet. You read that correctly. Knowing that I have a phobia of birds, my mom and dad brought one into our house. To live with us. Every time that bird fluttered in his cage, I lost years off my life. I was living in my own house of horrors. Luckily for me, on day two of his stay with us, Pete ate the little rubber ball in his cage and died. Although the only thing scarier than a bird is a dead bird. The thought sends shivers up my spine.

Fast forward to present. I really think they can smell fear. And then they come calling. Several weekends in a row, we have gone for our once-a-week dinner out. This usually consists of Jason's Deli and a trip to the bookstore--and I swear we are, in fact, under the age of 80. Anyway, upon returning home and going to unlock our back door, this winged creature of doom flies out of the porch over our door and scares the bejeezus out of me. Sometimes he is there, sometimes he is not. He enjoys the element of surprise. Allow me to introduce my nemesis:

There he is, all cozy and warm and waiting to inflict death upon us at any minute. And here I am, having heart palpitations just looking at the picture. We have tried various methods to scare this beast away and he is not bothered in the least by any of it--tack strips, sticky "bird away" goop, tape, nails, death threats....

Since he usually appears at night, I falsely assumed I was safe in the light of day. Last week, I walked up to the back door with plastic grocery bags stacked 47 deep on each arm--gotta get it all in one trip--and that terror swooped down from his perch and right past my head. I threw grocery bags like they were confetti and I was in Times Square on New Year's Eve and let out a blood-curdling scream that would wake the dead. Bird: 1, jar of olives: 0. Did I mention that I really love olives? I think he knew that.

The pathetic part is that I am such an animal lover, when Clint attempts to get rid of my fine feathered foe, I actually start worrying that he will hurt it. This creature is out to get me and I don't want anyone swatting it with a broom. My only hope is that it is steadily getting colder in North Carolina. Don't birds hate that? I hope our guest will leave his suite by the back door and head it on down to Florida to spend his winter sunning himself and learning backgammon at some fabulous retirement village.

Until then, unless I have a bodyguard in tow, I'm using the front door. Bye-bye, birdie.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Ten Commandments for the Fantastically Fabulous

Once upon a time, I wanted to start a blog but quickly discovered that I am technologically inept. After much frustration, heavy sighs, and eye rolling, a wonderful friend did a wonderful thing: she told me about Wendy at A Southern Accent.

You see, not only is Wendy cute and fun and Southern, she's also a computer whiz about this whole blogness. And she's creative. And she saved me from myself, so there are quite a few reasons I like this woman.

She asked me to write a guest post for her blog, which I was thrilled to do. I wanted to prove that I can actually do some things for myself and let her know I'm not totally useless. I wrote an additional ten commandments, a supplement to The Originals, as a guide for fabulosity.

Check out Wendy's blog, A Southern Accent here to see what I wrote. After all, you know when you think of a Southern accent, you think of me!

Friday, November 30, 2012

11 Years to Life

It's hard for me to believe, and I'm sure the husband will tell you the time has just flown by for him, but Saturday is our 11 year wedding anniversary. It's been 11 years since I broke all those boys' hearts and made Clint the luckiest man alive. I kid! Sort of. There's been better and worse, sickness and health, richer and poorer along the way.

Clint and I were married in the metropolitan city of Toccoa, Georgia on December 1, 2001 (who wants a ball and chain for Christmas?). I was a year out of college and he had just finished graduate school. We went on our honeymoon to a pre-Natalee Holloway Aruba and enjoyed basically having our own private island for the week. And then the real world came a-knocking. Two days after we got back from our honeymoon, we started packing for our move from Atlanta to Charlotte for Clint's first real, adult, career-beginning job. We slept on a mattress on the floor of my empty apartment while what pathetically little else we owned was packed into a U-Haul (in retrospect, Clint need not have packed the majority of his man stuff as it did not make the interior decorating cut), and Clint officially graduated from Georgia Tech the next day. Then we made the four hour drive to Charlotte and thus began all this marital bliss.

For better, for worse: mmm hmmm. We bought our first house, our first lawnmower, our first Christmas tree. There have been tailgates and beach trips, friends' weddings, some fabulous Halloween costumes and in general, lots of laughs. We've also lost family members, friends, jobs. We made new friends and got new jobs (I just never wanted to keep any of mine. Jobs, that is, not friends). There was one terrible trip to Mexico--the frozen drinks are made with the ice made from the water you aren't supposed to drink. Put that in your Cabo guide book next time.

For richer, for poorer: yowza. I don't really want to go into a lot of personal detail on this one, but there have been some penny pinching, coupon clipping, peanut butter sandwich and $1.99 frozen pizza days (yes, they are cheap and no, not particularly tasty). Lest I forget, one of us retired at the ripe old age of 29 and I will buy generic until the day I die in order to avoid ever participating in any more corporate team building exercises. But hey, there have also Christmas bonuses, tax refunds, raises and (very small) inheritances along the way. I could say something trite about being rich in love, but things like that make me TIMMAL (throw up in my mouth a little). That's just not my style.

In sickness and in health: check. In the last eleven years, one of us has lost an appendix (his, and I don't mean the book kind), had walking pneumonia (hers), stitches (all his), a zillion colds, stomach flus and a serious bout of food poisoning (again, hers...I have incredibly good luck). We've both gained and lost weight through the miracles of low fat, low carb, low cal, low sodium. Low on our list of favorite things, too.

We've also had some adventures that our vows didn't include and we probably never expected. For snoring and for coughing fits, for cover hogging and for nights on the couch, whether Clemson beats Georgia Tech or vice versa. During times of methodical and deliberate action (his), and fast and furious turn this mother out (hers). With all the ups, downs, ins, outs, things we've chased and things we've run from, you'd think we'd be in better shape by now.

Happy Anniversary to my kinder, gentler, much more patient other half. I will probably only be around for another 60 years or so, so enjoy every minute of it. Here's to many more years to come!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Evel Knievel and Eggnog Pancakes

Ah, Thanksgiving. A time for elastic waistbands, retail violence in the name of a good deal, and the beginning of that get-it-all-ready-for-Christmas ulcer I develop every year. We spent our long holiday weekend in the great state of Georgia with my family, enjoying all the sights (and tastes) of the season.

My mom always goes all out on holidays. When you compare the way she decorates and celebrates with my love of anything holiday related (especially sparkly things), it's a wonder I didn't have seizures as a child just from getting so worked up over it all. Mom's Thanksgiving weekend itinerary would make Martha Stewart want to slash her wrists with a dull butter knife. After which, Martha would use a soft cloth and some polish to gently remove any tarnish from said knife and return it to it's original, antiqued patina, but let me get back to my story.

This weekend was even louder and wilder than a usual visit to my parents' house since they have a new toy poodle puppy, Sam. He is four pounds of pure, wild energy. I don't know when I have ever seen anything move that fast. This puppy is like something shot straight out of a cannon. When he paused to take a breather, my brother managed to snap this picture--if we took one while he was moving, I'm pretty sure it would just be a streak of curly fur.

To Cotton, our blind dog, that little thing was like a fur covered ninja just waiting to pounce. Throw my parents' older deaf miniature poodle in the mix and you have got yourself some genuine canine chaos. In case you lost count, that's a blind dog, a deaf dog, and a devil-may-care six week old puppy. We celebrated Thanksgiving with See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Evel Knievel.

After some shopping Friday for Christmas decorations, we spent the afternoon at home with the three dogs driving us up the walls and literally chewing the shoes off our feet. The guys played golf and were happily oblivious to the zoo atmosphere of Mom's living room. As soon as they came in and dropped their golf clubs, we were off to Lake Lanier Island for Nights of Lights as is our family tradition. This prompted our annual conversation: "Are these lights new? I would have remembered those....No, those are old. I can't believe you don't remember that one, it's always been there...." Christmas lights, hot chocolate, roasting s'mores. In other words, all things that make Susie's heart go pitter patter. Holiday heaven.

On Saturday we decided to let the men folk watch football and dog sit those beasts while we braved the mall. A neighbor had, in true Southern hospitable style, brought over some real maple syrup for us to enjoy so we had to find something to pour flood drizzle it over. After reading The Haters Guide to the Williams Sonoma Catalog last week and laughing until we were breathless, I was pretty surprised to find us in said store, happily shelling out a week's grocery money for a canister of eggnog pancake batter. I pictured us gathered around the table, happily slicing up dollar bills and munching on them with a side of savings bonds to use as gravy.

As it turned out on Sunday morning, they were worth their weight in gold. Those were the fluffiest, most delicious pancakes ever made. WS eggnog pancakes make all others look like the slackers in the back row at pancake class, slumped down in their desks, reeking of cigarette smoke and doodling "school sux" on their notebooks.

Shopping, decorating, eating. Golf, football, eating. I'm thinking you can tell which activities were mine and Mom's and which were the guys. There was turkey, watching the parade, looking at Christmas lights, Mom's famous-to-our-family holiday tea, and plenty of downtime. Eggnog pancakes with a side of Evel Knievel. And that, my friends, is how Thanksgiving is done.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Don't Sweat(er) It

The holidays are upon us. It's almost time to untangle that 10 lb. ball of lights you threw in the attic last year, open those thoughtful gifts we will all be waiting in long lines the week after Christmas to return, spike the eggnog, and break into your best heartfelt rendition of Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer. I love all of it. One of my favorite things this time of year are the Christmas sweaters: the tackier, sparklier, more bedazzled the better. I people watch in anticipation, just waiting for some spectacular yuletide yarnage to walk by and set the holiday mood in motion.

Now it's confession time: I'm not just an admirer. There is a small section of a guest room closet with more beads, sequins and rhinestone embellishments than a Michael's craft store. I still own some tacky Christmas sweaters. I'm saving them for either one of those yuppie sweater parties, or in the unlikely event that they come back in style. Hey, I love holidays and I love sparkly things. These sweaters are right up my rhinestone encrusted alley.

Exhibit A: Sleigh (and sweater) Full of Santas:

I know what you're thinking: my God, that is a magnificent piece of wearable art. The owner of such an avant-gard item no doubt knows their way around a pair of shoulder pads and an Ogilvy home perm. Yes, it has a fur collar and detachable fur cuffs (which are not pictured, because I couldn't find them. I hope Clint hasn't squirreled them away for himself this holiday season). And it is a cardigan. And it ages the wearer by 30 years. Those Santas? Go all the way around. The photo doesn't even capture the fact that the beards are sparkly. It's a party coming and going. And I'm keeping it in deep storage, just in case. Kris Kringle is ready to mingle.

Exhibit B: The Sassy Spruce Sweater

Again, I seem unable to bypass a faux fur collar. The lure of marabou is too much to resist. I'm not sure why there are sequins radiating out of the trunk of the tree, but apparently, that is how evergreens roll in the world of high fashion. This sweater can take you from the freezer section at the grocery store, 'round the punch bowl at your office party and back home again in stunning style. Be the envy of the carpool line and make an entrance at the neighborhood cookie swap. Don't hate.

But the next one is really my sequin pride and joy. My family anticipates it coming out into the light of day each year, and it's become as much a tradition as the Thanksgiving Day Parade, cranberry sauce shaped like the can, or turkey and dressing. Get out your shades, because Thanksgiving future is about to get bright.

Exhibit C: The Glitzy Gobbler:

Oh yes, it's as glamorous as a turkey can get. Say what you will about the tacky Christmas ones, but I think we can all agree that this bedazzled beauty just rocks. What better way to give thanks and count your blessings than to razzle dazzle 'em? Fab-u-lous!

I will wear my beloved turkey sweater until every last sequin falls off  (and judging by the fact that there are approximately 13 billion of them, it may be a while). Even my in laws look better when bathed in the warm glow of multicolor sequins. They don't tell you in the history books that the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrim women totally rocked holiday sweaters.

So pass the potatoes and give me an extra helping of sparkle. I'm feeling festive and I've got the wardrobe to prove it.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Home Invasion

Today I heard the words that strike fear deep down in my heart. Stop me in my tracks. Fill me with an unshakable dread. The birds stopped singing, the sun hid behind the clouds and the band quit playing. The children ran inside, and even the dust rode out of town on the last sliver of a breeze it could find.

I overheard Clint on his phone telling someone from his office he is working from home again tomorrow. For the third day in a row. I had to resist the compelling urge to scream "Nooooooo!" and throw myself on him like a soldier on a grenade. If you and your spouse are able to work in close proximity together without one of you getting homicidal, I pity admire you. Please note I did not say that I envy you.

Having my other half work from home is especially trying because he is such a Company Joe. No--that doesn't do it justice. I'm sorry for this Joe fellow, but Clint is way more dedicated. He makes Joe look like a lazy fry cook at Burger King. He is a Company Clint. All work, all the time.

When the alarm goes off at ridiculous thirty every other wonderful, happy, normal workday, Clint gets up, I reset the clock, and blissfully get an hour and a half of snore-free slumber. This is my reward for not smothering that snoring giant during the night (continuous sleep deprivation will make you get cagey like that). However, when he works from home, I feel guilty about going back to sleep, so we're both up and at 'em. Which is great, because it makes this quality time filled day even longer.

To say I'm not a morning person is a giant understatement. I hate mornings like a fat kid hates carrot sticks. All I want to do is stumble through breakfast and sit comatose on the couch while the Today show rambles in the background until I absorb enough Diet Coke into my bloodstream to walk without falling down.  But there is no joy in Mudville when the company man is here, so instead of Today Show fluff, we watch the Golf channel. Or ESPN. There isn't enough Diet Coke in North America to help me overcome the tone that sets for the day. And there goes Days of Our Lives at lunch. Like sands through the hourglass be damned; the man has no appreciation for fine daytime drama.

Then there are the "You can" and "I am" statements. The "You can"s are basically verbal permission slips for me to abide by whilst being supervised. As in, "you can turn off the TV now," "you can go ahead and walk the dog," or "you can eat lunch when you're ready." How do I function on a daily basis without these helpful directives? It's a wonder. The "I am"s are a running monologue of his activities. All. Day. "I am going on a conference call in 10 minutes." "I am checking email for a while." "I am going to the bathroom." Now the first two were bad enough, but this is not Miss Susie's preschool and I need not be aware of everyone's bathroom business. Knock yourself out.

The phone, remote control, and ability to move freely throughout my home are all commandeered. I spend the entire day quietly tiptoeing around while Company Clint is on the phone, and making sure that at no time do I appear to be unbusy, not working, or enjoying myself. God forbid the dog bark because that is not allowed now that our house has been transformed into a ginormous cubicle. I find myself doing things to occupy time like staring at the washing machine and watching it go through the cycles. Refolding all the towels in the linen closet. Making lists of lists I need to make. Organizing the scissor drawer. Fantasizing about this ridiculous day being over.

So, to my micro manager for the day: I've got a "You can/I am" for you. You can go back to the office any time now. I am counting the minutes.

Because once he goes back to work, I go back to play.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Homecoming Spirit-less

Clemson homecoming was this weekend, and while so many of my friends (and friends of friends, and their friends) celebrated with tailgating and cold beverages, I found myself once again living on the corner of Glitz and Glamour (I'm getting address labels printed). Specifically, on the couch with a cough, cold, sore throat and general lack of will to live.

While Tiger fashionistas carefully planned their best orange game day attire, the only reason I got out of my pajamas all weekend was so I could look forward to putting them back on again. Clint was sick, too, and our couch logged about a billion frequent sitter miles while we put the TiVo through its paces. The two of us stumbled around like extras from the set of the Walking Dead.

Clemson had cookouts and kickoff, we had Kleenex and cough drops. We didn't make it to Tiger Town Tavern, but we did down some shots of Nyquil and some serious mugs of Theraflu. Campus was littered with stray pom poms and Solo cups, while the Stancil abode was a sea of McDonald's cups and takeout containers. And while the crowd roared with enthusiasm in Death Valley, my cough perfectly mimicked a barking seal and chorused through our house all weekend. We've got spirit, yes we do, we've got spirit, and the flu!

While I enjoyed looking at everyone's adorable, festive, Tiger paw filled photos, I will spare you any pictures from our weekend. Y'all were homecoming, we were home bound and quarantined. Clemson fans' enthusiasm is contagious, and so was whatever almost killed us the last four days.

So if you felt like something was missing on Saturday, that something was ME. Hopefully, we will make up for it next year. We'll be louder, more orange, with even more Tiger paws and Tiger pride. In the meantime, I'll be planning my tailgate. And my outfit.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Fire Drill

A couple of months ago, a frenemy of mine (that's an enemy you're fake friendly with, if you're feigning innocence) bragged that she tried a new workout program and raved about her results. She claimed to be the fittest she'd ever been. Enter my competitive streak, which is about a mile wide and my ultimate Achilles heel. What did I do? Went online and ordered the DVDs, and scheduled them for express delivery. Anything she can do, I can do better.

The program is Turbo Fire and is self-described as an "intense cardio conditioning program." The theme of the whole kit and caboodle is fire--the instructor constantly says things like "fire it up, torch those calories, feel that burn, add fuel to the fire...." And a million more of these catchy little ditties. I am about four weeks in at this point, so let me give you the lowdown.

First, I have renamed this regimen Torture Time. Turbo Fire doesn't even begin to do it justice. I have done P90X many times and survived and thrived. I'll admit I was a bit cocky going into this, because if I can workout with Tony Horton and BRING IT with P90X, I assumed (incorrectly) that I was a fitness rock star.

Oh, how quickly we are be humbled. Torture Time is an interval workout, which means you learn the moves, a fire alarm sounds (seriously) and for one minute, you go as hard as you can go. A few seconds of recovery and then the fire alarm sounds again. After two days of working out like that, I was walking the dog and a firetruck went by, sirens blaring. I immediately thought, "Oh God, I have to do that damn workout now!" Then I felt relieved when I realized it was probably just someone's house burning down. Torture Time will give you some serious post traumatic stress.

Please imagine punching, kicking and jumping as quickly as humanly possible. No, faster than that. These people are moving faster than ninjas hyped up on crack, and they are all rocking flat ironed ponytails and earrings the size of hula hoops. In the meantime, yours truly is wearing double sports bras, a headband to keep the sweat out of my eyes, and a knee brace. Looking good and feeling fine.

Several of the workouts are labeled "EZ Fire." I wrongly assumed this would mean less intensity; instead I have come to realize it must stand for extra zealous. Forty-five minutes into one of these EZ things, my arms were so tired they went numb. For real. I could not lift them over my head. Since the DVD titles are clearly bogus, I have come up with my own titles for the Torture Time workouts. These include: WTF, This Isn't Happening, She's Trying to Kill Me, and my personal least favorite B*tch Please. These provide a much more accurate description of what is happening in each workout.

During the cooldown, your fearless fitness fiend instructor Chalene says, "See? Don't you feel fantastic? This is why you workout--to feel this way!" Um, no, Chalene. I do not feel fantastic. I feel as if I have been run over by a Mack truck, and as soon as I scrape myself up off the floor, I am probably going to vomit. What a reward. Last week, I actually finished one of the longer workouts and thought I was making stellar progress. Getting the hang of it. Conquering that mountain. And then I was seized by a coughing fit so hard it made me gag. Twice. Maybe I'm not conquering just yet.

The DVDs came with a 90-day money back guarantee, but you know I'm too stubborn to send them back and admit defeat. The workout ninjas and I press on. Let's just hope the sirens I keep hearing are fire drills, not ambulances.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Amazon Woman

My friends and family have casually labeled me OCD. I prefer to say that I am highly organized, passionate, and dedicated to keeping things the way they ought to be. In any case, I have become "passionate" lately about my love of Why leave the comfort of home when you can buy anything--and I mean anything your little heart desires--on Amazon and have it brought right to your door?

In the past few months, I have bought books, jellybeans, an exercise jump mat, shoes, vacuum cleaner filters, and DVDs, to name a few. Amazon will even compare prices for you, so you're actually saving money by spending money (professional shoppers: you know what I mean).

Last week, Clint asked me if I would go to Sears and get lawn mower tires. Because that sounds like something that would be right up my alley. Clearly. Besides lawn mower tires, you know what they have at Sears that I like? Nothing.

So my answer was no, I will not drive 20 minutes to a  hardware store someone tried to disguise by placing it in a mall. I will log on to my old trusty friend and score the lawn mower tires at a frugal price without ever leaving my house. Then, in 5-7 business days, Rodney the UPS man (shout out to Rodney!) will deliver them directly into my hot little hands. Everyone is happy, and we are giving Rodney job security. It's impossible not to feel good about that purchase.

Whatever you have in mind, I'll bet they have it. Skeptical? Challenge accepted. Here are a few of the more unusual items (in addition to the usual batteries, sports bras, and lamp shades) you can find on this super site:

For $39.95, how about some uranium (back away, clearly states for educational purposes only. Duh.):

Let's say your neighbors are the ones ordering the uranium and you don't believe it is for a 5th grade book report. Trade in your minivan for this tank, available on Amazon for the bargain price of $19,995:
Note: at the time of publication, the tank was out of stock. However, it did receive an average of 4 out of 5 stars after being reviewed by 259 Amazon customers, so maybe keep checking back.
What about splurging and spending $9.99 on some canned unicorn meat? What a lovely stocking stuffer for the upcoming holidays:
It's a dismembered plush unicorn, stuffed in a can. You can't eat it, but imagine the delight on the face of the recipient of this gift. And again, you need not get out of your pajamas to make this happen.
One in ten Americans believe they have seen a UFO. Don't take a chance on missing out--at $74.95, this UFO detector will give you the priceless peace of mind in knowing that you will be instantly notified when a UFO may be in your area. You can tell by looking at this high tech piece of equipment that it is pure quality:
There you have it. Those are just a sampling of Amazon's awesome offerings. Go ahead, make a wish and let the Amazon genie grant it for you.
They say it's a jungle out there. I say, as long at it's the Amazon, it's a piece of cake.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pin It to Me

Before I collapse into an exhausted, frustrated heap on my sofa, I need to get this off my chest: Pinterest has to be a very elaborate trick, orchestrated at the expense of the ambitious and naive. I mean, seriously, who needs to make homemade Almond Joy bars? Can't you buy one of those at a gas station for 79 cents and be on your merry way? Why are we all so busy pinning ways to reinvent the wheel?

I am particularly susceptible to their seasonal tortures. It's just too much to resist. Candy Corn Bark was today's Pinterest punishment. Didn't it turn wonderfully?

Frick no, it did not turn out wonderfully. It is a crumbly, sticky mess of grainy candy corn that even I won't eat...and that is saying something. The only things I don't eat are beets, mincemeat, food on the bone, and now candy corn bark.

What are the ingredients? After an hour of work and a solid coating of white chocolate on my person, I will tell you it composed entirely of evil, cruelty and b.s. Sound tasty? You know where I got the recipe.

And as I marched the entire batch out to the trash can in our garage, I passed Clint doing yard work. He took a look at the white chocolate spatters, my red face, furrowed brow and paused to raise an eyebrow. I yelled "freaking Pinterest!" And he nodded and went right back to work. No further explanation necessary.

Now that I have fully vented my candy corn induced frustration, I'm off to find my yoga pants and a glass of wine. And then I need to pin some meditation techniques.

Tricky Situation

Let me begin by saying I love a holiday. I dye our food green for St. Patrick's Day, still hunt eggs at Easter, drink margaritas on Cinco de Mayo, and don't even get me started on my love of Christmas.

But I will confess: I have become a Halloween Scrooge. Or does that make me a witch? I digress.

When we bought our house seven years ago, I was thrilled at the prospect of trick-or-treaters. Finally! I was determined, as is my nature, to make our house the ultimate destination for treats. And so it began. In Halloweens past, we've given out tons of candy and even thrown in party favors like bubbles, spider rings, Chinese yo-yos...our house was the best trick-or-treat stop on the block. Let's not forget the year we had a witch with a "smoking" cauldron (fog machine) out on our front lawn.

But the last few years, I started to wonder if this was really the holiday fun I thought it would be. For starters, the candy is expensive. I'm talking dinner out or a spa pedicure kind of money, and I'm spending it on kids with confectionery entitlement issues in sub par costumes. If your costume costs less than I spent on candy, I reserve the right to eat the spoils myself. Boo-bye.

The little candy snatchers come early. And often. My sixteen pound fur-covered ball of canine chaos thinks the doorbell is his mortal enemy. The pattern becomes: doorbell rings, dog goes berserk, hand out candy, calm down dog, Wait two minutes. Repeat. After a few hours of all this supposed fun, this Halloween hoopla starts to wear thin.

And then: last year, I did it. I only bought candy for two. We turned off the porch lights, hid inside and ate chocolatey, sugary goodness while watching my favorite scary movies. The dog slept peacefully in the floor and all was right with the world.

I bought enough candy for the neighborhood this year, but I still haven't decided if we will treat or trick. We've already put a huge dent in the candy supply and I refuse to buy more. We've been trying to tell ourselves that we are not literally taking candy from babies by using the excuse "kids don't like this candy--no kids eat Kit Kats. Or Butterfinger. Or <insert awesome candy goodness name here>. " We are eating the stuff like it will never come our way again (I may or may not have gone so far as to add a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup to a protein shake this week. It may or may not have been delicious.). I'm dreading the invasion of the candy snatchers.
So if the lights are off, the doorbell goes unanswered, and you don't get candy at my house, now you know why. Go ahead, toilet paper our yard. As soon as I finish eating this fun size Snickers bar, I'll get right to cleaning it up.

To Blog or Not to Blog

I’ve been known to rant, rave and muse about pretty much everything, particularly my not-terribly-glamorous everyday life. Apparently, some of you enjoy these tales of mine and have asked for more. And with this girl, flattery will get you everywhere. You’ve all been saying I need to write something, and while I have batted my eyelashes and sighed, “Oh, stop! Who, me? I couldn’t possibly!” I’ve actually been giving it a little thought. A friend even went as far as to demand that I write a book, a sitcom, or a blog—do something, woman! So I decided to put this plan into action.

But which format is best for Southern sarcasm with a side of housewife and a dash of hot rollers? I am an old-fashioned girl, so the idea of authoring a book was appealing. Putting pen to paper is a favorite pastime for me, plus I have great penmanship. And I kicked some serious butt in high school typing class, so handwritten manuscript or typed, clearly I could do no wrong. New York Times bestseller list, here I come. Until the thought of Friday night book signings at your local bookstore under florescent lights ran through my head. As anyone who knew me during my miserable retail employment will tell you, this girl does not do nights or weekends. I spent years in a little gray cubicle working for a boring bank simply for the benefit of taking back my life Friday afternoon at 5:00 and not having to do a thing until mean old Monday rolled around. Clearly, books are SO 2000 and late.

A sitcom, perhaps. Everyone loves television these days, even those who aren’t smart enough to read. I had found myself an even bigger audience. Pass the popcorn and set the DVR to record. Until you consider the fact that I would clearly have to play myself. Who else would have the big hair and extreme Southern accent to accurately capture the essence of moi? The idea of a hair and makeup person always makes me giddy, so I thought it was a go. But, the camera adds 10 pounds. And I’m not vain, okay, well, I am vain and I do not need an extra 10 pounds. I can find those in one McDonald’s, nachos, Ben & Jerry’s weekend just fine without assistance. I wish instead of HD, televisions came with Spanx effects; there would be a natural choice.

Alas, there is no Spanx cable package, so blog it shall be. Be careful what you wish for, because now I’ll blog it. Because most of the true things that happen to me are way better than fiction. And since I am truly an ugly crier, I would much rather laugh about it all. Let the good times toll!

Fence Mending

About two years ago, I came home to find a Home Depot delivery truck unloading 1200 pounds of concrete onto a palette in my driveway. Since they don't sell concrete at Nordstrom or Anthropologie, I was pretty sure I did not make this purchase. Upon further investigation, it seems that my husband was the one who ordered this mess. My initial theory was that he was going to build some sort of bunker for apocalyptic times, and another friend suggested he might be getting ready to build a skate park. Awesome.

It turns out, he had more ambitious plans. The split-rail fence surrounding our backyard was in desperate need of repair. Personally, I wanted a new, prettier fence, but due to The Budget, my idea was vetoed. Clint decided he could repair the fence all by himself. Because we don't pay people to do things that we can do ourselves (unless "we" is me and I can get it done without Clint finding out).

The first weekend, a grand total of four fence posts went up. Real progress, considering there are approximately 40 something of them surrounding our yard. For anyone who hasn't heard my complaints, my husband moves at a pace somewhere between paint drying and an exhausted snail. He is the anti-ninja. Weekends went by, one or two posts more went up. Excuses started to mount as the novelty of the fence project wore off: too tired, too hot, too cold, too windy, too *whatever*. At the one year milestone, Clint was almost halfway home.

Let me also provide this background: I read our neighbors the riot act for tying their fence into ours (basically, "sharing" one side of the fence because they were too cheap to build their own). I demanded that they fix some shabby workmanship that was on my property line, followed up to make sure it got down on time, and commanded that project like it was my job.

My husband is a real life project manager. It literally IS his job to manage projects. And we have the world's slowest fence repair project in our very own backyard. If he was getting paid by the hour, he would be the Donald Trump of split-rail fencing. The irony escapes him.

The neighbors fixed their fence. And sold their house and moved. Renters moved in. Renters moved out. The house is for sale again. That fence looks fabulous and mine is still under freaking construction.

I've been told by the project manager that he is "closing in on it." I'm hopeful that by the end of 2013, we will have an entire fence enclosing our yard. And by the time he's done, the first posts will probably have already fallen due to old age. Return to start. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Or better yet: take the $200 and hire a contractor.

It looks like we should have about 300 or so pounds of concrete left. So maybe we'll get that skate park after all....

Friday, November 2, 2012

Craigslist Crazies

Several weeks ago, I decided to sell Clint's brown leather "man chair" recliner. We are redecorating our den and the poor chair has no place to go and no one ever sits in it. I thought Craigslist could help find the chair a good home, and pad my pockets with a little extra spending money. I created a listing with a couple of pictures of the recliner, measurements, and a description. Easy breezy.

What I didn't realize, since this was my initiation into the world of Craigslist, is that a post will bring out the absolute crazy in people. And it doesn't do much to enhance people's intelligence, either. I got a flood of emails, most of which only said "Is the chair still for sale?"

The email I got from "Kevin" took the cake, though. And I have to hand it to him, he inspired me to respond and get all my frustrations out. The initial email from potential chair buyer Kevin is below, followed by my response. This is completely true and unaltered; I have only edited Kevin's identifying details to protect the colossally insane.

From: Kevin
Subject: Leather chair for sale
Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2012 13:09:37
The chair looks nice. I have some questions.
Is it still available?

How old is it?

How often was it used? Every night in front of the TV?
Why are you selling it?

Would you consider taking less? This is a little bit out of my price range?
What town do you live in?

Best Regards,


Ph: 704-XXX-XXXX

Now you've met Kevin. A no doubt lovely individual with an inquisitive spirit. Now, my response to this fine fellow:

To: Kevin
Subject: Leather chair for sale
Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2012 14:39:47

Dear Kevin,

Wow. You certainly seem to be a very thorough, savvy buyer. Let me attempt to answer your questions regarding the chair:

1. As of now, the chair is still available, although I have received several wonderful emails from individuals such as yourself expressing interest.

2. A quality leather recliner such as this one is, like an inquisitively minded gentleman, timeless. Age is just a number, after all.

3. The chair has never been used in front of the TV, as I cannot afford one. Perhaps once I sell it....

4. I decided to sell the recliner for numerous reasons, all of which you deserve to know. First, the aforementioned need of a television set looms large. Second, for many years I thought that was my roommate's chair and she used it constantly. However, I was recently diagnosed with multiple personality disorder and it turns out that no one has been using the chair and it was all in my mind. Hopefully the right combination of medication can free up some more unnecessary furniture. And the biggest reason is that the last time my mother-in-law visited, she sat in the recliner and stated that it was so comfortable, she never wanted to leave it. I put it up for sale as soon as she stood up and got out of it.

5. I am sorry it is out of your price range. I can offer you a 0% interest lay-a-way plan if you can have it paid in full by Christmas. Asking price was $350, however, for you, the price is $400. I need to make a dime for my time and you have been quite time consuming for someone looking for a bargain.

6. My ad states that I live in South Charlotte. However, due to the responses the ad is generating I believe I must either be in the Twilight Zone or bordering on the suburbs of CrazyTown.

I certainly hope this helps you with your furniture buying process.
All the best,

P.S. Thank you for including your phone number. I will be sure to suggest that if anyone is looking for a good time, call.

Much to my surprise, I never heard back from Kevin. I was forced to sell the recliner to a far less curious buyer a few days later. My chair sold to the highest bidder, but don't you worry: my sarcasm is absolutely free.