Utterly Brilliant Thoughts: 11.2006
Real Estate Update
The very first thing I am going to do if I ever win the lottery (which I don't play, but that's neither here nor there) is hire a maid. Well, after I quit my job, of course. And buy a Kennedy-esque compound by the ocean for my friends & family to stay in. And visit Tiffany. And Coach. But after that . . . definitely a maid. We spent six hours cleaning Tuesday night. Poor Chris returned home after five days out of town and was greeted with "take all of your crap right up to the attic" & then had a mop thrust into his hand. Kisses! Love you! So we cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. And cleaned. And then we cleaned some more. I swiffered and scrubbed and forbid the cats from using their litter boxes. I dusted the plants. I cleaned so hard, I somehow managed to twist my ankle while vacuuming. No, really.

And, according to the Realtor and prospective buyers, it was worth it. The house, they said, is gorgeous. They used words like "immaculate" and "well-kept" and "beautiful". I can't imagine why it hasn't sold, the Realtor said. We love it, the buyers said.

Except . . .

Why why WHY is there always an "except"? This time, the buyers are concerned about the roof, which, although it does not leak, will probably need replaced within 5 years or so. (Per a certified home inspector.) As any homeowner knows, ANY home you buy will need something major repaired or replaced within the first few years after purchase. And in our price range, the chance of finding a home that doesn't need some kind of work done to it is slim or none. Which will hopefully become apparent to these buyers as they continue to view homes.

So a bit of a disappointment, but we have another showing scheduled for tomorrow. This one is with people who have ACTUAL MONEY, or so I've been told. And, remarkably, I am still strangely optimistic. If you know me IRL (which would be all four of you that actually read this), you know that optimism is not a natural state of mind for me. To say the least. Maybe my subconcious or a higher power is trying to tell me something. Maybe poor St. Joseph, currently buried upside down in my back yard, wants to be dug up before the snow falls. Maybe it's the influence of the Christmas season or the Christmas wine. Maybe Chris has finally given up & is now lacing my Earl Grey with Zoloft. Either way, I am doing my best to just enjoy this newfound state of enlightenment. I am still enough of a pragmatist to know that this feeling cannot possibly last.


I Am Way Too Easily Amused
God bless the person who designed this site. It's even better than Lite Brite & penguin cams for non-blogging procrastinating-at-work holiday entertainment. Although I would advise that you giggle a bit less than I did. It is awfully hard to convince co-workers that you find real estate (or lesson plans or spreadsheets or whatever) tremendously amusing. Fortunately, my co-workers are sort of used to me and are generally happy if I am not threatening to chuck my stapler at them. Happy pimping!

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Hope Springs Eternal
That Alexander Pope sure knew what he was talking about.

I just scheduled a showing on our house for Wednesday. In case I haven't mentioned it before (you wish), it has been on the market for 333 days. We've had roughly 902 showings, approximately two of those to people with the ability & intention of actually purchasing a property. So you would think that I'd be rather jaded at this point, wouldn't you? That's apparently because you are a normal person. Unlike me. Because I am all excited about this damn showing & sure that this one will be The One, the showing that brings us a viable offer. Be assured that this feeling of optimism is in no way based on any kind of fact. The prospective buyers haven't even been preapproved and may need to sell their present home to buy ours. And the Realtor showing it is, well, questionable. (Which sounds so much better than shady-as-hell.) Of course you know that if he manages to sell our house, he will be my Most Favorite Person in the Whole Wide World.

Now I have to go so I can figure out where to put the colossal amount of Christmas-related paraphernalia (presents, boxes, wrapping paper, etc.) currently residing in our computer room. Think happy thoughts for us!


Greetings from The Thanksgiving Queen
Is it bad manners to wear your crown to the table?

Feast #119 (finally!)
Have you ever changed a flat tire by yourself?
No. I don't drive &, besides, isn't that why God made AAA?

Do you have an "innie" or an "outie" belly button?
Innie. Honestly, outies kind of gross me out.

Name a new paint color and describe it.
Glowing Garnet. A deep, rich, luminous red, like this:

I would love this color for my dining room.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Decorating the tree with my husband every year. He loves Christmas & his enthusiasm is contagious. And my mom & I try to bake Christmas cookies together every year. My kitchen ends up looking like a bag of flour exploded in it, but it's always fun. Oh, and have I mentioned the bourbon slush tradition? Glorious.

If you were a cookie, what kind of cookie would you be, and why?
I have absolutely no idea. I hate questions like this.

Join the Feast!


Guess what I have been doing for the better part of the afternoon. Go ahead, guess.

Did you guess "diligently working since you will not be in the office for the rest of the week"?

Or how about "starting the project that is due on Monday so that the looming deadline doesn't bite you in the ass next week"?

Or even just "something productive", how about that?

Did you guess any of these? Because, if so, you would be so wrong.

Instead, I have spent the past 3, whoops, I mean 4 (holy cow, it's 4 o'clock already?) hours watching the penguin & sea otter cams at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, playing Lite Brite & reading blogs. (A big thank you to Teacher Lady, who shared that some Target stores have Starbucks inside the store, Holy Mother of God, how did I not know about this before?? More importantly, why doesn't my Target have one?) Oh, & I put up the office Christmas tree, a 7' tall fiber-optic monstrosity that makes me think of the Linus line from A Charlie Brown Christmas: "This really brings Christmas close to a person." I also discovered a recipe for a pumpkin pie milkshake which I fully intend to make as soon as I get home, so as far as I am concerned, that was 4 hours well spent.

I may change my mind by Monday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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As Requested
Nana's Cream Puff Recipe

  • 1/2 cup room temperature butter (real butter, not margarine)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup WELL SIFTED flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. HAVE ALL INGREDIENTS READY. Bring butter & water to a boil. As it comes to a full boil, add sifted flour & salt. Gently stir until it forms a ball, then remove from heat. In a mixing bowl, add eggs ONE AT A TIME to dough. Blend well with hands (or, if it is too hot, use a spoon or other utensil) after each addition. The dough will be sticky; try not to handle it too much. Place in mounds on greased cookie sheet. The size is up to you, but I prefer the size of a golf ball or an egg. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the mounds are "puffed up" & golden brown. Let the puffs "dry" in the oven for a few minutes with the heat off. Remove them from the oven & cut a small vent in the side to allow steam to escape. Cool. Using the vent as a starting point, slice three-quarters around & fill. Then just drizzle chocolate or caramel on top & serve!*

*I think these are best served fresh (the same day), but the unfilled puffs can be stored in an airtight container & used for a few days. It's best not to fill them & store in the refrigerator because the puffs will become soggy.

Pudding can be used for a quick & easy filling. Make sure to use whole milk to prepare the pudding. Mix about a cup of Cool Whip in the pudding for a lighter filling. Or fill with custard, Bavarian cream or whipped cream; try searching online, I've found a bunch of variations. The puffs can also be filled with "savory" fillings like tuna, crab, lobster, shrimp or chicken salad. Great for luncheons like wedding & baby showers! My personal "sweet" favorite is this one:

Strawberries & Cream Filling

  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1 tablesppon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (amaretto works well too)
  • 1 cup heavy or whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered (confectioner's) sugar

Mash half of the strawberries in a small bowl. Add sugar, liqueur & remaining berries. Drain excess juice & set aside for later. In another bowl, beat cream with powdered sugar until stiff. Stir in excess juice. Fold in berry mixture. Spoon filling into puff. Sprinkle with powdered sugar & serve.



O - H!
I - O!

Go, Buckeyes!


Feast #118
Do you believe there is intelligent life on other planets?
Some days, I'm not even sure there's intelligent life on this planet. In any case, I think it would be fairly arrogant to assume that we are the only intelligent life forms in this vast universe. I am at least willing to concede that it is a possibility.

What is one thing you said you'd never do, but you eventually did?
Get divorced / get married again. Thank God I never listen to myself!

Who is the teacher that influenced you the most in school?
Mr. Moore, my junior high school history teacher. He challenged & engaged us & made history seem fresh & relevant. He was also the first teacher that really made me realize that teachers are people (what a concept!), with lives outside of the classroom. I've had several great teachers, but I learned the most from Mr. Moore.

If you could trade places with anyone for one day, who would it be and why?
Too hard to pick just one! I'm so curious about other people, I would love to experience how they really live. Ultimately, I think the experience would make me even more grateful for my life.

What is your favorite dish to prepare?
Cream puffs. It's the only thing I make that I've never had better anywhere else. Also, they appear complicated & everyone loves them. Except for Chris, but that might be because I forgot to put the filling in his the first time I made them for him. I guess they're not quite as exciting when they're just . . . puffs.


Is It Over Yet?
I know I say this, well, pretty much every week, but God, this week has just kicked. my. ass. It's pretty much been downhill since the Steelers beat the Saints on Sunday. (Thank God for that. If they would have lost, Cleveland would have had a better record and I simply cannot have that.) But anyway, this week.

Remember The Accident?

The one that happened on my wedding day?

The one where the insurance company (evil State Farm) won't pay for my medical treatment, not because they deny their client's culpability, but because I foolishly attended my own wedding and reception after said accident?

Yeah, that one.

Well, the deposition was scheduled for Monday morning. What a fiasco. I actually made it to the building early, which in & of itself is a minor miracle. However, the doors were locked. All of the doors. I can say this with complete certainty because we walked around the entire building (the length of a city block, in the rain) & through the attached parking garage. We finally made it into the building through the stockroom of the bar next door. I am still curious about why it was open at 9am, but who am I to judge? It's Happy Hour somewhere, right? At least we finally figured out a way into the building. Unfortunately, our excitement was short lived when we discovered that it was vacant. Say it with me, people. Vacant. No people. No elevators. No heat. Just us, a mint green propane tank & what may have been the world's largest rat trap. Oh, yes, I said rat trap. It should also be mentioned that I was with my mom (hi, Mom!), who has a pathological fear of rodents. She wouldn't even watch Stuart Little. (Okay, I know, no great loss, but still.) My attorney, who was driving in from Cleveland, eventually showed up & we figured out where we were supposed to be. (The court reporter's office was moved to a new location across the street, something that you think they would have mentioned to at least one of us when this was set up.) Then we waited for another hour for opposing counsel to show up, which was fun, but, you know, at least this building had heat and plumbing and no apparent rodent infestation. And the defendent was cranky, clueless and defensive, which would seem to be in my favor if we have to go to trial. Also, there's no way you can win if a jinglebell necklace and a sweatshirt with an enormous cardinal on it are your going-to-court clothes. Especially if the plaintiff is wearing Tiffany jewelry and heels and actually did her hair. Those are the rules.

My boss informed me that everyone is getting a raise. Oh, wait, did I say "everyone"? I meant, "everyone but me". But I was the lucky person that got to inform everyone about their raises, so . . . that's almost as good, right? And since I haven't had a raise since July 2005 (and that one was miniscule), the shock might have killed me anyway.

My boss attempted to convince me that the company is going to lose money now that everyone (else) will be making more. (And therefore cannot afford to give me a raise too. He does not attempt to explain to me why I should care.) When I point out that his budget information is flawed, that our commission income is more than double the amount shown & that I make $10,000 less (gross!) than is indicated, & that in fact the company is making a considerable profit, he refuses to discuss it further. He engages a colleague in an extremely non-PC conversation (sometimes I swear I'm working for Archie Bunker), then leaves to set up his brand-new plasma television. Probably responding to the negative energy in the office, my fax / printer refuses to work.

A homicidal maniac is on the loose. He is obviously enraged by my lingering Halloween decorations.

This is what greeted me when I came home from work today. Pumpkin seeds are strewn across my entire front porch. Stupid squirrels. But my mom was nice enough to bring me freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies, and I think we may have a solution to the Christmas Conundrum, so today wasn't entirely bad. Maybe there's hope for tomorrow. Or maybe I'll eat enough cookies that I won't care.

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Thanks to Teacher Lady for providing me with something to do that doesn't involve the towering pile of work on my desk. Note: you can only type one word, no explanations. You have no idea how difficult this was for me.

  • Yourself: evolving
  • Your partner: delightful
  • Your hair: curly
  • Your mother: amazing
  • Your father: deceased
  • Your favorite item: sleep
  • Your dream last night: elusive
  • Your favorite drink: champagne
  • Your dream car: Mercedes
  • Your dream home: beach
  • The room you are in: office
  • Your ex: worthless
  • Your fear: death
  • Where you want to be in ten years: content
  • Who you hung out with last night: Chris
  • What you're not: perky
  • Muffins: blueberry
  • One of your wish list items: house
  • Time: variable
  • The last thing you did: delegate
  • What you are wearing: black
  • Your favorite weather: summer
  • Your favorite book: countless
  • Last thing you ate: pear
  • Your life: better
  • Your mood: irritable
  • Your best friends: treasured
  • What are you thinking about right now: responsibilities
  • Your car: beast
  • What are you doing at the moment: procrastinating
  • Your summer: fleeting
  • Relationship status: sublime
  • What is on your tv: nothing
  • What is the weather like: gray
  • When is the last time you laughed: yesterday

Your turn!


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
If you've been in any kind of retail establishment in the past few weeks, you're aware that the holidays are right around the corner. I used to look forward to the holidays, especially Christmas. Hanging out with the people I love most in the world; eating my weight in chocolate, cookies & pie; giving & getting presents . . . what's not to like?

I'm sorry to say that those days are gone. Last year, we ate our first Thanksgiving dinner (lunch) at noon, our second at 5 & didn't get home until midnight. In between, we spent 4 hours driving back & forth. I'm not a math whiz, but by my calculations, that makes a third of the holiday spent in the car. Between the traveling & the tryptophan, we were so exhausted, Chris nearly drove off the road. That will wake you up pretty damn quick. For Christmas, we're basically trying to be at four different places in two different states in the space of 24 hours. Oh, & also find time to, you know, sleep & bathe & stuff. And, not to point out the obvious, but we don't have kids yet. Can you imagine the horror of spending a third of the holiday in the car with cranky kids? *shudder*

For the past few years, we've struggled to come up with a solution. Given our close relationships with both of our families, we wouldn't really be happy alternating holidays between them or celebrating alone. It's not practical or reasonable to expect Chris' entire family to drive two hours to come to us (especially when you factor in seven kids, two with strict nap- & bedtimes), or to expect both of our families (roughly 40 people) to be willing to gather in a "central" location, like a restaurant. And, it should be said, no one else is really motivated to deviate from the status quo anyway. They all have the luxury of sleeping in their own beds & traveling within a 20-mile-or-less radius, if at all.

The first Christmas Chris & I spent together, I consoled myself with the thought that we were lucky to have so many places to be when countless people are alone for the holidays. (Which, although true, doesn't make it any less exhausting.) And I would definitely rather have to deal with this little issue than not be with Chris at all, of course. But I also assumed that we would find a way to celebrate with both of our families without making ourselves crazy. In fact, I thought I had a fabulous solution: celebrating the holiday the week before or after. That way, anyone who has other places to be on the holiday can really enjoy that time & not have to rush off to the next place. Plus the added
benefit of making the holiday last longer instead of for just one or two days. It's the holiday equivalent of the Birthday Week! Isn't that a spectacular idea? Yes, well, since Chris & I are the only ones who seem to think so, I don't think that's going to happen.

Fortunately, holidays also mean bourbon slush, wine & even-more-than-usual opportunities to drink
champagne. Maybe that & the pie will get me through.


Remember how, a month or so ago, I was complaining about losing a diamond earring, a brush, dental floss & a pair of pants, all in the space of a week? And then I lost my favorite pair of boots? Well, now, I've lost my favorite pair of sunglasses. In my own house. I know I had them on when I came home Monday night. I know this because I went shopping after work & my hair was in my face & driving me crazy (crazier, more like), but I was too lazy to actually pull a clip or hair band out of my purse, so I just pushed my hair back with my sunglasses. My sunglasses spend the majority of their time on top of my head (see below) or lost, obviously. Anyway, I distinctly remember taking them off because I was going to wash my face & put on my pajamas. What I don't remember (again, obviously) is where the hell I put them. I have completely torn the entire house apart.

What is the matter with me?

Am I really this scatterbrained?

Are the cats stealing random objects & hiding them from me to get back at me for withholding the cat nip?

I'm not sure which thought is more disturbing.

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In Honor of the Election . . .


I Should've Ordered Pizza
Two fortune cookies came with my General Tso's today. They read:

Keep your plans secret for now.
Someone can read your mind.

Wait, what? Don't they seem to . . . cancel each other out somehow? And I didn't even know I had plans. Does that mean that someone knows about my plans before I do? Or that I should keep my plans secret even from myself? I'm so confused.

It was also quite possibly the worst Chinese food I have ever had.

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