Saturday, July 31, 2010

Does That Make Me Selfish?

Have you read the book Eat, Pray, Love?


I read this book for book club last year and, for the most part, enjoyed it. The Italy section was so much fun, India (all the meditating) bored me a little, and Bali was romantic. Overall it was a very nice book. While reading it however, I was told by a few people that they felt the author was selfish and a narcissist. Which surprised me because I so didn’t get that from the story.

Now that the movie is coming out, I’m hearing those critiques again. I don’t really get it.

If you are not familiar with the story here’s a quick synopsis. The author, a travel writer, is a woman in her 30s who divorced her husband after she concluding she wasn’t happy and didn’t want to have children with him. After falling for a much younger man, she realized she needed to live her life without a destructive relationship, but instead learn how to be happy. She decided to take a year to travel to Italy, India, and Bali; wanting to get something specific out of each country.

I guess wanting to take care of yourself is, by definition, selfish, but that word has such a negative connotation. How is wanting to make sure oneself is “ok” before taking care of anyone else negative. If you’re not happy you will be no good to anyone!

In addition, to me, what better way to make yourself happy than to travel. I tell ya what, if I could afford it, I’d go away for a year!

I don’t see what is so wrong with what she did, but maybe there’s something I’m missing???

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Problem With Baby Oil

In the spring of my senior year of high school my parents went out of town for the week, and since I was only 17 during my senior year they asked Kristen, one of my closest friends, to stay with me as my guardian since she is about 4 years older than I am. 

It was a pretty good decision by my parents because we were both rule followers and pretty good kids.  That week went well and we had fun hanging out without our parents around.  That Thursday night we went out to dinner with our friend Robyn, who was also a senior in high school and not yet 18.  We had so much fun that night together that we talked Kristen into calling us both in sick to the school office the next morning so we could continue the fun on Friday.

The next morning we got up at the regular school time and Robyn came over to my house instead of going to school.  Kristen called the school twice and pretended to be our moms.  Robyn and I jumped around in excitement because I don’t think we had ever ditched school before.

We decided to spend the day hanging out in the backyard swimming and “laying out”.  Now that was the early 90s and taking care of your skin wasn’t that much of a concern.  The three of us lathered up in baby oil and spent the day by the pool.  Every time we swam, we reapplied. 

Now friends, I’m not an olive skin gal like my two partners in crime.  I’m Irish and have the stereotypical fair, freckly skin.  Let’s just say my skin, baby oil, and spending all day in the sun didn’t mix.  By the end of the day, my backside was so sunburned I looked like a lobster. 

It was an awful night.  My skin hurt so bad and I couldn’t sleep on my back.  I never did blister, but it was red and sore for several days.  I think that was the worst I’d ever been burned.  Since that day, I’ve been so very careful in the sun, and never used baby oil again!

On a side note, my parents never found out that I ditched school until just a couple of years ago.  My mom was in town and a group of us got together for drinks at a wine bar.  Kristen and I told her the story that night.  We should have just kept it to ourselves because she didn’t find it quite as funny as we did. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tasty Tuesday


This week’s Tasty Tuesday is probably one of the simplest dishes I’ve ever made, and most of my recipes are pretty simple so that’s saying something. I love sandwiches, and this is a really great sandwich! Slainte!

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 bottle buffalo wing sauce (like Franks 12oz)
1/2 package dry ranch salad dressing mix
2 tablespoons butter
6 sandwich rolls

1. Place chicken (frozen or thawed), 3/4 bottle of buffalo sauce, and salad dressing into a crock pot.
2. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours.
3. When chicken is cooked through and tender, shred it using two forks (I do it right in the crock pot).
4. Stir in the butter to thicken the sauce up a bit. Cover and begin prepping the sandwich rolls.
5. Use the shredded chicken as the base of the sandwich. I add it to toasted sub rolls and then top with blue cheese crumbles and blue cheese dressing.

Picture 002 Add some farmer’s market white peaches and Kettle Chip salt and pepper potato chips and it makes a great (and EASY) summer meal!

Monday, July 26, 2010

A New Star

This afternoon I did something kind of unique; not something that I do everyday anyways…the unveiling of a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame!

My friend Marcie sent out an invite to attend the event on Hollywood and Vine for Louis Prima. She is a big fan and really wanted to attend. Louis Prima was a great jazz, big band, Vegas singer. My grandparents were big fans and used to go to Vegas to see him perform back in the 50s. I remember my grandma listening to his records when I visited her on weekend.

His name is not very well known, but his songs really are. He originally sang Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody, Angelina/Zooma Zooma, Jump, Jive, and Wail, Buona Sera and tons more. A lot of the mafia shows like Casino and the Sopranos used his music. Plus he was King Louis in Disney’s The Jungle Book.

Since my grandmother would have loved to have seen one of her favorite singers get his star in the same place she spent most of her life, and it was something different to do, I decided to join Marcie.

It was so much fun! In addition to the regular event, this is also the 50th year anniversary of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, so they had extra special events planned around the ceremony.

We took the Metro into Hollywood and walked to the Ricardo Mantalban Theatre, another name my grandma would have been thrilled with due to Fantasy Island fame.
Picture 051Since we were not VIPs, we didn’t get to sit right up close, but we got there early enough we had a pretty good view.
Picture 052

When we first arrived, the star was covered in order to be unveiled in dramatic fashion.

It was a very moving ceremony. His children and grandchildren were spoke and were so proud. On top of it, this year is his hundredth birthday.

After the ceremony, his son Louis Prima Jr., who is also a musician, performed many of Sr.’s well-known songs right there in front of the theatre.

Afterwards the party was moved to a margarita bar right around the corner and family, fans, and others drank margaritas, listened to music, and mingled.

Three margaritas later, we decided it was time to depart. We did head back over to the Montalban Theatre in order to take a look at the star up close without all the people around. It already looks like it needs some cleaning!

Picture 053Sometimes I want to kick myself for living so close to Hollywood and not taking advantage of these types of events more often for one reason or another. What a fun day!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shake, Rattle, Roll

I hate earthquakes! I’ve lived right on top of the San Andreas Fault in Southern California my whole life (with the exception of 8 years in and after college) so have experienced my fair share. They are very unsettling and make me quite nervous. However, the earthquakes I’ve felt have been fairly mild; mainly 4s and 5s. The largest earthquake in SoCal in my lifetime was the January 17, 1994 “Northridge Quake” which was a 6.7 and I was not in the state for that one.

On January 16, 1994 I returned to New Hampshire for the 2nd semester of my junior year. Due to the time difference, I got to my apartment pretty late that night and just crashed. The next morning, when I woke up, my roommate had the TV on, and she told me that the news was reporting an earthquake in the Los Angeles county. I kind of shrugged it off thinking, “Yah, we have them a lot.” But when I joined her on the couch, it was apparent that this wasn’t one of our 4-5 magnitude quakes.

Watching the damage in Northridge on the news I was shocked, but the closeness to home really didn’t sink in until I saw these…
earthquake2 earthquake

This is the 5 and 14 freeway interchange also known as the only way in and out of the town I live in. “Oh my god!” I blurted out, “I live there!” Complete and utter panic set in at that time. I, of course, picked up the phone and dialed home right away. Nothing but a busy signal. I tried everyone I knew. Nothing but a busy signal. In the meantime, the footage on the news was getting worse and worse. After a couple of hours I finally got a phone call from my cousin who lives in Ventura County. They felt the quake, but didn’t have any damage and their phone lines were still open. They had been in touch with my parents and they were ok, so that was a relief.

Over the next few days more and more information came in and my parents were able to contact me. Things were a mess, but everyone I knew was safe and sound.

Because of cost, my parents only brought me home from school for Christmas and for summer, but I really wanted to go home for spring break to see them. I used my credit card and got myself a ticket to fly home in March. Things had been cleaned up, but the property damage had not been repaired, waiting on the insurance. It was crazy! One of our chimneys had fallen off the house, one whole side of our brick wall had fallen onto our neighbor’s house, our fireplace facade had fallen over, and their were numerous cracks in the walls inside and outside the house. My parents had pictures of the house before things got cleaned up. Some things that really hit home happened in my bedroom. The small television that sat on the armoire across from my bed had been catapulted off the armoire onto the bed. There was also a cheap, plastic, and empty CD holder that sat on the floor against one of my walls. In the shaking, it impaled itself into the wall. Crazy!

Part of me is SO relieved that I was not there during that earthquake. Everyone said it was so scary. On the other hand, having not gone through it, I’m so dreading the next one we have because I don’t know what to expect.

There have been a lot of earthquakes recently; earthquakes in really weird places, places that aren’t known for them. Some say these quakes lessen the “pressure” on the faults, others say they are just a precursor to what’s to come, while others still say one doesn’t have anything to do with the other. Whatever they are, I don’t like it!

Have you been in an earthquake before?


Monday, July 19, 2010

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Junk Drawer

I’ve been meaning to do the junk drawer post for quite some time, but am just now getting to it. What really lit a fire under me was while I had people over for dinner one evening. A friend was helping me with dinner because I had had a few too many cocktails beforehand and I pulled out an oven glove from the drawer by the oven (aka the junk drawer) for him to use. When he reached his hand inside the glove it wouldn't go on correctly. Instead, he pulled his hand out of the glove holding onto my extra car key; the car key which was also kept in the junk drawer.

blog 004

Since I am on summer vacation I thought this was a good time to clean the junk drawer…
blog 002 The culprit is the top drawer.

blog 003 Here it is open, well kind of since this is as far as it would open before getting stuck on all the junk.

blog 006 This is everything that had been put inside that little, tiny drawer.

Some interesting highlights…
blog 007 These are pictures of my “nieces and nephews”. Emily, in the top picture, is going into 1st grade this year. I get pictures of the kids which are great, but I don’t ever really know what to do with them afterwards, so they end up in the junk drawer. These have been in the junk drawer for about 4 years.
blog 008 Here are some coupons and receipts. The most recent coupon had an expiration date of August 26, 2006!

blog 009 The 3 items here are so outdated it’s not even funny – a calculator that no longer works, a transmitter for my first ipod, and a cassette tape. Yes, a cassette tape! Can you even remember the last time you used a cassette tape? I can’t, but I had one in my junk drawer just…in case.

blog 010These are old calendars (go back as far as 2005) and check registers. Since I do all my banking online, and have for some time, I don’t even use check registers anymore. And why oh why would I need calendars from 2-3 years ago?

blog 011 Keys! There are maybe 3 in this pile that I know what they are used for. The others? I have no idea, but they might be needed someday.

blog 013I use a lot of chapstick and whenever I’m at Target I pick up a pack, just in case. Usually it’s because I don’t remember seeing any left over in the junk drawer. It was probably hidden under the old coupons and keys, but I’ve got enough to last me for a little while anyways.

After throwing out all of the things that were either expired or haven’t been used in over a year and finding better places for some other things, I have a very clean junk drawer now. It even opens all the way!

blog 016
What kind of junk are you holding on to?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Joke Gone Bad (Kind Of)

I’ve written about my principal “Barry” before.  He’s a difficult boss.  Sometimes he’s a good boss, other times he is not.  Over the past couple of years he’s spent a lot of time feeding his ego with the success of his teachers and because of that his actions have pit grade level teams against each other in this weird competition that has caused a lot of stress.  In addition, he has taken my team for granted because we are efficient, get “the job” done, and are pretty low maintenance.  Sometime he makes us so frustrated.

My team had the opportunity to write a grant for professional development money.  Since we played right into that competition thing, we decided not to tell anyone that we were writing the grant as we didn’t want anyone else to write one too and take our ideas or limit our chances in receiving it.  However we needed to have our principal’s signature on the paperwork before we could send it in. 

We waited until the last possible minute and set up a meeting with him.  Even then, we wouldn’t tell him what it was about because we didn’t want it to get around.  That made him a little nervous, and since we were tired of him not giving us enough credit for our successes, we decided to play a little joke on him. 

The four of us walked into our meeting with a piece of blue copy paper, in addition to our proposal.  Just a week or so before the “intent to transfer” requests were passed out and they had been run on blue copy paper.  We also walked in with very serious faces.  Jason, from The Jason Show, was chosen as our speaker because the rest of us were worried we’d break into a giggling fit.  When we sat down around the conference table, Jason told “Barry” that we’d been doing a lot of thinking, blah, blah, blah, and were therefore putting in for a transfer.  Jason kept a completely straight face while telling him, but the rest of us were covering our face with our blue paper and looking away, trying not to burst into laughter. 

The look on “Barry’s” face was priceless full of fear.  The fear was probably more for selfish reasons that he might lose 4 of his best teachers on staff.  He stumbled over his words a little before Jason stopped the joke and said, “Just kidding, we’re just here to get your signature on a grant we wrote.”  “Barry” was not happy with us.  It actually put him on the defensive and he ended up being kind of negative about our grant (see, not always the best boss). 

I rarely do practical jokes, not for any moral reason, but because I’m really bad at them.  I can’t get through them without giggling or laughing and giving myself away.  But the unsuccessful nature of this one might be enough for me to stop doing them period…just kidding!

Do you like practical jokes?


Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Death Brought Us Together

This weekend I attended a memorial for a very old friend who passed away suddenly a couple of months ago.  Since the funeral was out of state, many of us who live in California were not able to attend it and therefore this memorial was planned. 

I had not seen this person in at least 15 years.  So his death brought about odd emotions.  If it had happened 15 years ago, I would have been devastated as he was a huge part of my life at that time.  But with the amount of time that had passed, I was sad, but didn’t fall apart. 

The memorial was on Saturday and this crazy mix of people attended.  Even though it wasn’t meant as a party, it was fun to see all this people who I hadn’t seen in forever.  It was so interesting that even though we were all older, in some ways everything was the same.  The people who were fun back then were still fun.  The people who were annoying or know-it-alls back then, were still annoying or know-it-alls. 

We kept saying, “It’s such a shame that it took a death to bring us all together again.”  It’s so true.  There were about 5 people there that I am in contact with regularly, but I had lost touch with all the rest – some intentionally, some not.  So even though the reason for getting together was sad, it was nice to get together and reminisce about old times. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Picture, Picture On the Wall Who Is the Fairest of them All?

I love to travel.  I have been to some amazing places and will, hopefully, continue to do so.  When I travel, I take a gazillion pictures and use them to make photo books.  After that, the pictures are just saved on my computer or on discs, and I never really look at them again.

A couple of years ago, my mom gave me giclĂ©e print for Christmas.  She told me to pick my favorite travel picture at the time and she would have it printed on wrapped canvas.  I chose a picture of Venice.  It turned out beautiful.  Since I save my pictures in various places, I can’t find the one that I enlarged, but you can see it here on my dining room wall. 

Since then, I have made an “enlargements” file on my computer where I have put my favorite pictures from my travels.  My hope is to enlarge one or two more and put them on this wall of this staircase. 

The only problem is that, at press time, there are 84 pictures in that file.  Hence, the wall stays empty. 

I have big aspirations to choose two photos for this wall and the use the rest as smaller prints in collage frames around the rest of the house.  I’m dragging my feet though because I worry the next time I go abroad, I’ll take a picture I like even better and that will displace the whole arrangement.

Here are some of my favorites…what do you think?


Cape Town



Vagliagli (Tuscany)


Vernazza (Cinque Terre)

Victoria Falls (Zambia)

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park

Speyer (Germany)

Do you use your travel photos to decorate?  How do you take into account new photos that you might take?


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tasty Tuesday


This dessert is so easy, but so good. It’s always a hit. If at all possible, don’t look at the ingredients because NONE of it is good for you. The good news is that it is so rich only a small bite is needed. It makes a ton. Slainte!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars


1 box powdered sugar
2 sticks butter – melted
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 package chocolate chips


  1. Mix first 4 ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Spread into an ungreased 9x13 dish.
  3. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top.
  4. Put dish inside a hot oven (I usually preheat the oven to 350 while preparing the rest and then turn the oven off right before putting the dish inside) to soften/slightly melt chips.
  5. Use back of a spoon and smooth out the chocolate over the peanut butter mixture.
  6. Put in fridge to chill until chocolate is firm, but not hard (it will crack when cutting).
  7. Cut into squares as desired.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Name Game (Help Wanted)

Earlier this month I posted about my decision to get a new dog. Over the last week however, I’ve also adopted a second dog. (Ahhhh!)

This is “Gretel”…


(the baby)

This is “Ringo”
(the ladies’ man)

Gretel and Ringo were given their names by their rescuers. I think the names are kind of cute, but I don’t really have a connection with them. The dogs arrive next week so I have started stressing out thinking about names.

There are some unique people names that I like…
Girls – Tallulah, Jemma, Imogene, Flannery, D'Arby
Boys – Declan, Phineas, Flynn, Fergus, Finnegan

I’m adopting these dogs together, so it might be fun to have some cute “pair” names – girl/boy
Siena/Lucca (favorite cities in Italy)
Limerick/Dublin (Irish cities)
Harper/Atticus (To Kill a Mocking Bird author/character)
London/Strummer (The Clash)

I also really like the name Enzo for the boy, but having trouble coming up with a partner name for the girl...maybe Lola or Gemma?

Ugh! It’s so hard. I don’t know how new parents do it with their human babies. I need some help people! Which do you like best? Or any new ideas?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A (Or 10) Pick Me Up(s)

One of Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop prompts this week is…
Write a list of 10 things that are sure to put a smile on your face when you are not happy

Some of my list may seem a little obvious, some may not.

1. A icy cold Coke
2. Goofing around with friends
3. Holing up it my art room and working
4. Curling up with an incredible book
5. Cooking
6. Dancing
7. An old Law and Order episode (not really smiley, but feels a little bit like home)
8. My bed
9. A song from the 80s
10. Buttery, garlicky, cheesy pasta

How about you?  What is your list?