Thursday, July 31, 2008


That's me. Tired. Wiped out. Finis.

It's been a heck of a week. DH has been traveling, which means that instead of plopping in front of the television after dinner, I've been doing stuff around the house. Which, if I do say so myself, looks darned nice. The basement is organized. My office is spotless. Shiny things are gleaming. Even the baseboards got a once-over with the Magic Eraser. 

I've also had the Demon Project with work this week. Holy cow. But it's over. I seriously need a no-brain day just to recoup.

God Camp ends tomorrow, with a family sing-along. Those are nice, but I always feel bad for the daycare/nanny kids, who end up being adopted by someone else's mom or dad, and then watching the door the whole time. Just in case. It's not their parents' fault. People gotta work. It just makes me a little sad, you know? I'm not sure there's an answer. I'm just throwing it out there.

We're doing well on our natural foods (at least, as few artificial sweeteners as possible) thing. DS is much, much more under control. His outbursts are all but gone as long as we stick with the good stuff. His attention span is better. He's generally much more pleasant to be around. I'm really happy about this. :) And it's good for the rest of us, too.

My neighbor up the block had to put her sweet old lab to sleep yesterday. A year ago, there were four retrievers on our block who were about the same age--three of them came from the same rescue. Today, the WDCL is the last one left. **sad sigh** I hope she gets to stick around awhile longer. I'm awfully used to having her here.

Sorry for the lack of spark in this one, gang. I'm just really tired. Back tomorrow, hopefully with something witty. :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Great Books

I stole this from Mary.

The Big Read estimates that the average person has only read 6 of the 100 greatest books ever printed.

Copy and paste to your blog and play along! Bold books you've read, and italics books you love.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling Just need to read the last one still
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible (I've read about three-quarters)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Phillip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 Joseph Heller.
14 The Complete works of Shakespeare I've read most of these--missing a few sonnets.
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler's Wife 
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini 
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden 
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding 
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune- Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon 
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker I know I started this, not sure if I finished it in high school
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 notes from a small island 
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton didn't read it can't remove it
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine de St. Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town like Alice- Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet- William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl 
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo read the abridged version

Score Mom!

My kids are in God Camp this week (Vacation Bible School, but it's easier to say God Camp), and today, I remembered to go to the bank and get 10 gold dollar coins.

I then did a mini-jig outside the bank.

I haven't been inside a bank in years. It's ATM all the way, baby. But DH and I started a Very Stupid Thing when DS lost his first tooth last December. We "helped" the tooth fairy leave him a shiny gold dollar coin under his pillow. And thus, a tradition was born.

Did I mention that teeth fall out in groups? And that we scrambled for two more gold dollar coins in very rapid succession right after that? Fun times, my friends.

Another tooth is loose. DS points it out to me on a regular basis. And I panic every time. Farts! I need to get another of those stinkin' dollar coins! Course, it's summer, and the kid is pretty much with me all the time, so I'd forget almost immediately, what with the errand being impossible and what-not. (ps-when I grow up, I'm going to work in a bank and go home at 2 p.m. Good lord, people!)

Yes, I could ask DH to do it.

I hear you laughing, other married women with kids. *snort* Ask DH to do something related to the tooth fairy! During the day! Bwaa haaaa haaaaa!! 


Anyway, today's big accomplishment was dropping the kids off at God Camp and going to the bank and plunking down 10 real dollars for 10 gold ones. For the tooth fairy. Goal accomplished. Mission achieved. Huzzah!

When I was in college, I was going to win a Pulitzer.

Today, I got dollar coins. For the tooth fairy.

The's been adjusted.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I forgot one. That's a great site.

(But don't ever subscribe to Cook's Illustrated. Holy lots-of-junk-mail and lots-of-solicitation-phone-calls!!)

Friday, July 25, 2008

OK, Julie...

Here you favorite cookbooks.

  1. Happy in the Kitchen, Michel Richard (mine's signed...*swoon*)
  2. Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook
  3. Barefoot Contessa Family Style, Ina Garten
  4. Chesapeake Bay Cooking, John Shields
  5. Tide & Thyme, Annapolis Junior League
  6. Barefoot Contessa Parties, Ina Garten
  7. Cooking Light Complete Cookbook
  8. The Congressional Club Cookbook
  9. Weight Watchers New Complete Recipes (seriously...yummy!)
  10. Honest Pretzels, Mollie Katzen
I want to get a copy of Home Cooking with a French Accent by Michel Richard, but it's out of print and kind of hard to find one that's not beaten to bits. And Roland Mesnier has a book out I'd love, called Dessert University. 

My favorite websites for recipes...
  • (but I hate hate HATE the new search engine)
I also subscribe to a few cooking magazines--Gourmet, Bon Appetit, and Cooking Light, along with Real Simple, which has some good stuff in it. I used to subscribe to Every Day with Rachael Ray, but I'm kind of over her. In fact, I'm sick of her. Go 'way, Perkyhead.

The thing is, I very rarely cook a recipe as it's written anymore. I'm starting to know what an ingredient will do to a recipe and what I can add in or leave out, and I tinker and play as I go. Which is way fun. :)

So there you have it.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fly By

Two things--I'm swamped with work.

First, I bought bath towels from Lands End maybe three or four years ago. Lately, I noticed they were fading. And last night, one tore across a seam as I hung it up. So I called Lands End this morning and told them I was disappointed in the towels and surprised they hadn't held up better over a relatively short period of time (our old towels were a good 7 years old when we replaced them, and had been washed and dried in ancient machines--we have the HE machines now that are much more gentle). The lady at LE was super nice, and I'll get all new towels and washcloths next week, with a postage-paid return label for the old ones. This despite not having an order number or receipt or any kind of record of the purchase. 

This is why I'll spend more for Lands End and LL Bean. How can you beat that? I could have gotten cheaper towels at the store, but I'd have had to buy new ones when they faded or ripped, costing me more in the long run. Customers for life, people. This is how you get them.

Second, the muffin recipe. I found the original recipe on and doctored it up a bit. 

Corn Muffins

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar (I think you could go down to 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup milk, divided

Combine dry ingredients. Add eggs, butter, and 1/2 cup of milk. Beat for 1 minute. Add remaining milk and beat until just blended. Fill paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

I combined the dry stuff the night before, beat it all with the wet stuff and popped them in the oven in the morning, and we had a really easy, warm breakfast. They were great as-is, too, with no butter spread on them.


Monday, July 21, 2008

More Randomness

We're on about day five of trying to eat more natural foods and less processed crap. I'm seeing a bid difference in DS already, which is encouraging. I'm also, however, starting to wonder if we're not also dealing with some mild sensory issues. And whether that's worth a call to the pediatrician or not, being that he's seven. He claps his hands over his ears whenever a car or truck goes by, saying it's too loud. He "flaps wings" when he gets excited about something--it's a behavior that vanished when he was about 2 and is now back. And he seems utterly incapable of controlling himself sometimes, physically (in a bouncing around kind of way) and with what's becoming constant yelling and loudness. I'm really not sure if this is nothing or something. Ugh.

I decided this morning that when I'm Supreme Ruler of the World, all U.S. presidential candidates will be required to have at least two years of active duty military service on their resumes. And from here on out, I'm not voting for anyone without it. Party notwithstanding. It seems like a basic prerequisite for the commander in chief. I mean when you think about it, handing off orders to our soldiers is one of the few powers a president really has.

Whichever cell service has the "please enjoy the music while your party is reached" is really irritating. Just FYI. 

I finally found both a corn muffin recipe and a pizza dough recipe that I really like. These make me happy. :) Now, if I could find an everyday bread recipe that worked well, I'd be a totally happy camper. At least in the carbs department.

True story: we had our sidewalk (street to the front door) torn out and replaced last week. This made the porch inaccessible for a few days. We have a mail slot thru the front door. Because the mail carrier couldn't get to it, I put a box in the lawn that had U.S. MAIL written on it in black Sharpie (in neat, large, all capital, letters on a white background), and then a sign on the storm door that said BOX FOR MAIL IN YARD in the same marker. Saturday, I walked into the yard at the same moment that the mail carrier--an older Asian man--jumped off my porch. Onto the damp concrete walk, that was ringed by yellow construction tape and orange cones. I stared at him, wide-eyed. He pointed to the box in the yard and with a heavy accent asked, "What does that say?" Which proves, once and for all, that my street really is some kind of remedial program for illiterate mail carriers. It also explains a lot about why I miss a lot of mail. Good lord, man, get yourself some Hooked on Phonics if this is your chosen career path!

Is anybody else nervous about these Chinese Olympics? I really have a bad feeling...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Make Me Happy

The house thing...I'm over it. I just needed a few days to be mad. What will be will be, yes? Let go and let God and all like that.

Despite the past week, I am a pretty even-keeled person. Most of the time. With lots that makes me happy: my kids, mint chip ice cream, a good book, my daily perusal of, the WDCL, baking something yummy and warm, and the article in tomorrow's Post magazine about the sommelier at a downtown restaurant who's a metalhead. Good stuff.

Today we took the kids to a big field and shot off our model rockets. Lots of screaming, lots of jumping up and down, lots of smoke and whistling and BOOMing. Fun stuff. I recommend it.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, July 17, 2008


DH thinks I'm having anger issues.

I'll admit, this house thing has me a teensy bit fired up. I'm an old house person, same way I'm a dog person, and the thought that Douchebag could sell his family home--the one they bought in the 1950s--to some developer to tear down is kind of pissing me off.

(I'm also having pottymouth issues. Apologies all around. But it wouldn't be much of a blog if I didn't talk like I talk, you know?)

This morning, I got up at 5:30 to walk. The walk turned into a run. People, I have not run voluntarily since college. There generally has to be a very large person with a very imposing weapon chasing me at a good clip to get me to run. But I got myself so fired up and so upset and so agitated that running, pounding on the pavement and sweating and gasping for breath, was a fantastic release. It felt really good, until my lungs threatened to collapse and my knees gave out. 

The iPod was blasting--Kiss, AC/DC, Poison, Scorpions, Aerosmith, Buckcherry, Billy Squier, Guns N Roses. That felt good too. Angry music. Angry, pounding music for my good and pissed off run. 

I kind of fell through my back door at the end, looking like something an animal'd been chewing on and smelling even worse, I'm sure. I gulped down a glass of water, kicked off my purty pink workout shoes, and soaked in the air conditioning.

At that moment, DH came in, ready to head out for a business trip.

"I've been thinking," he said.

"Uh huh," I snorted. It was, after all, 6 in the morning.

"Maybe he's not a typical developer. Maybe he'll renovate it and keep all the original features we liked, and maybe in a year he'll sell it and it'll look amazing."

I stared. "This is Montgomery County," I said. "Have the two of you met? 'Save old houses and big trees' ranks just below 'introduce resistant strain of Polio into the elementary schools' on the overall priority list."

He nodded.

"I know," he said. "But maybe, just maybe, this guy has an appreciation for old houses. We can hope, anyway."

"You keep hoping that," I said. "I'm going to hope he has a serious lack of appreciation for the term 'load-bearing' and the damn thing falls down on him."

Maybe I should drink more.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


So I spent the morning shopping around for a wi-fi signal booster. Our FIOS modem is in our basement, and my new office is in an addition to our house. That means the signal has to go upstairs, and through a wall with three layers--plaster atop cinder blocks atop brick--to get to my computer. And that doesn't work so well. But I found this site and made its cardboard-and-foil booster and plopped it onto my Actiontec router. And dayumn! Four bars! FOUR BARS! Anywhere in the house! And I was ready to spend $90! Rock on. *giggle*

I'm still waiting for Verizon to decide if I can upgrade my wireless account now or if I have to wait until September when my two-year contract is up. What an archaic, idiotic system we've created in cell phones. Stoopid.

It's been a food bonanza around here this week. Much stress. Much frustration. Many pounds. Somebody talk me off the ledge. Stop eating!

We've been practicing keeping our house clean and shiny. Just in case it has to go on the market soon. We're, um, not very good at it. LOL! But we're trying. At least, I'm trying. Not experiencing so much buy-in from the short people running around. If we ever do find a house and we actually ever do get a contract ratified, it's going to get ugly around here. Polly Pocket and her ilk may be evicted. 

I got a speeding ticket from one of those farking cameras the other day. What a rip that is. No points, tho, so I haven't decided if I'm telling DH or not. He has a long, proud record of camera-issued tickets. I'd hate to make him feel less talented.

We've been having issues with DS spazzing out, for lack of a better term, lately. I started tracking it and can pretty much say it's thanks to sugar and high-frutcose corn syrup (and no, I can't spell that. Sue me.). We've been watching his diet much more closely this week ("we" being "I", thanks) and I actually have noticed a difference. He's much more even-keeled when he eats more natural foods without all the fancy-schmancy sweeteners and with as little sugar as possible. My copy of "Sugar Busters for Kids" arrived today. We'll see how much we can do with it.

We lost a house this week. I cried a bunch when it happened, mostly because it went to a developer who's going to rip it down, and it's a beautiful 1930s masterpiece that just needs some TLC. And then I got really POd and emailed its owner to beg, one last time, to let us save it. He was a real douchebag about it (I'm into "douchebag" this week. Sorry. It'll pass.), which, oddly, made me feel better. Bad karma, I guess. Anyway, I then found out that two pairs of shoes I've loved for awhile were on sale at LL Bean, so I ordered both. And then I felt much better. Pathetic, really, but my feet are going to look sweet. Despite being crammed into the World's Smallest Closet. ;)

Anybody want to join me in a campaign to get Sandra Lee's skinny butt booted off Food Network? Good Lord, she is just horrible.

Until tomorrow, my sweets...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


And not just because I like the new Pilot.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

July 9

You woke up at 5:30 this morning. At least, that's when you came crashing into my room and bounding into bed with me, all smiles and shrieks. I can't really blame you, though. You don't turn five every day. That kind of excitement seems appropriate.

With your curly hair, blue eyes, and chalk-white perfectly square teeth, you have the classic beauty of the Gerber baby. Rare is the day we go out that someone, somewhere doesn't stop you to tell you how gorgeous you are. And you almost never fail to please, with that quasi-shy grin and those long, batting eyelashes you use to reward the bearer of the compliment.

You'll start kindergarten this fall, impossible as that is to believe. Petite enough to still clamor up into my arms, wrap yourself around my neck, and snuggle your face beneath my chin, you're nonetheless a spunky little elf. Your voice carries for miles--oh, Lord, my ears beg for mercy by the end of the day! And while the shy smile charms strangers at the grocery store, any hint of familiarity brings out the real you, and the real you is the polar opposite of shy. I knew you were above and beyond most preschool girls when your teacher told me she was going to call me in 20 years, to see if you "ever stop talking." We joke in whispers after your bedtime that your kindergarten teacher should go ahead and start drinking now, to take the edge off.

In the parking lot at big-kid school, they already call you "the mayor." You're a tiny woman in charge with your peers, and they inexplicably follow you around like so many lemmings. Show me a crowd of children your age, and I'll find you in the dead-smack center of it, guaranteed. 

You have a temper that rivals something from the Old Testament when something strikes you in just the wrong way. The salt pillars and massive floods have nothing on you when you're angry. "Don't make eye contact," we mutter to each other. "Just slowly back away. Don't show fear." 

Thankfully, those moments pass. And at night, when I check on you before I go to sleep, you epitomize the cliche. You're an angel in the soft glow of the nightlight, perfect and peaceful and serene. I love that. I love your curiosity (although the 10,000 "why" questions a week can stop anytime, just between you and me). I love your snuggliness and your open displays of affection, and I love your spunk.  When your teacher commented about calling me in two decades, I said "You won't have to. She'll be president by then and you can see for yourself." And then I laughed...but it wouldn't surprise me a bit to see you running the world. You've got that "it" about you, even now.

Thank you for five wonderful, challenging years. I can't wait to see the next five. I love you more than you can possibly understand.

Happy birthday.

You Shop Too!

I ordered the below way-cool bag here.  Happy shopping! :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

When Mama's Happy...

I will freely admit to being handbag obsessed. Twice or three times a year, I must have a new one. Must.

I just found my bag for fall. Thanks to Allison, I have a healthy (maybe) addition to, and I found a fantastic designer who's making me a great bag.

It's this bag:

In this fabric:

Don't even ask me why Blogger won't let me place the pictures where I want them. Dammit. But you get the idea...

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Chaos That Is My Life

Didja ever have one of those days where finding a place to even start talking about it was overwhelming?


We'll start with the good stuff: vacation rocked. Despite semi-crappy weather, we all had a blast at the lake. The kids learned to kayak and water tube (under strict need to get all custody-battle with me) and I had a great time tubing myself. DH enjoyed his new/old boat, we all got a little sun, and nobody came home in a box. Which is always a plus for a family vacation. 

When we got home, DS had a super surprise waiting for him in the mail. Earlier this spring, I wrote to several famous astronauts and asked them for autographs for DS's birthday. Silence ensued. But this week, a package arrived. From John Glenn. With a photograph of him in his orange NASA flightsuit, and "To Joseph. Best Regards, John Glenn" written on it in Sharpie. Coolest. Thing. Ever.  DS hasn't stopped smiling. We framed it this morning and it's on display in our living room for now. John Glenn, you ROCK. :)

So we're puttering along nicely post-vacation. Came home to a disaster-free house, which is a huge bonus--we normally come back to a mess of some sort. DH took the kids to his parents' yesterday and then to his sister's for a cookout while I stayed here and cleaned and shoveled crap out. Gotta get ready in case we decide to put the house on the market.

Mid-day, he calls. Upset. FIL, who is 77, was backing up his car, hit the gas instead of the brake, and smashed both his car and SIL's car to bits. Nobody got hurt, thank God, but this is the second time this has happened in about three months. MIL stormed in the house and refused to talk about it the rest of the day. FIL just sat there. 


It's been ugly around here, but the long and short of it is that he needs to stop driving, and it's going to be WWIII to get there. Ugly, ugly, ugly. I've spent the morning investigating senior resources where they live, and there's an emergency sibling meeting later this week to talk about it. I'm also, apparently, getting a BlackBerry so I can work and shuttle them around when necessary, being the closest thing to a SAH person this family has. Lucky me.

The other update is that my daughter, who was thrilled beyond words to get a SuperSoaker for her birthday, is now pissed because she gets wet playing with it.  And my daughter is not attractive when pissed. Her head spins around, she shoots flames from her eyes, speaks in's unpleasant.

Nine weeks to school.

Moving right along...