Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Caffeine-Free Dessert-Freak Party

What’s a party without snacks, we’ve got to have snacks. If you were hoping for dips and finger food, sorry, dessert is my favorite food. If I didn’t know for a fact how much better it feels to put veggies and whole grains into this body, it is all I would eat. Sadly what goes into the body does make a difference. I just love the way it feels to hop a fence, or try to do one of my lame pathetic cartwheels with my niece. Too much dessert wrecks those already questionable skills. So I mostly just dream about them, and wait. This is what I fantasize about – Black Tie Mousse Cake from Olive Garden. I’m not a big Olive Garden fan, but sometimes I go just for dessert. As a matter of fact that is something I like to do with my girls and their friends. We call it “Pubbing” and it doesn’t involve alcohol. We get all dolled up and hit several of our favorite restaurants in one night. At each stop we order a dessert and share it. By the end of the night we are sugared up and happy, and the girls are spitting water at each other through straws.
Since a good deal of the time I’m all about whole foods, I tend to find excuses to celebrate things that involve really spectacular cakes filled with raspberry mousse. That way I can justifiably cheat on my vegan meal plan. You find me a month and I will find you a dang good reason to celebrate, and I’ll bring the cake. I’ve gone so far as to have “Happy Cake” written on the cake. You have got to cram those celebrations in there when you can.
A group of friends used to hit a coffee house late at night to chat. One of those places with a guitar player in the corner that only sells coffee, not even tea. I’d never had coffee in my life when I started going, and it was there that I discovered cappuccino. It rocked!  We stayed until they closed, then stood in the parking lot until it emptied, then started dropping each other off and stood outside each house chatting. When I got home at about 3:00 a.m., I’d clean. It was probably the only time in my life that my house was orderly. The effect from a cup of caffeinated coffee lasted about 48 hours for me. I had to stop drinking the stuff. That neat freak stuff just wasn’t me. Then I discovered Starbuck’s frappuccinos. ß I just sang that last sentence, did you sense that? They are frozen concoctions of deliciousness and you can get them without caffeine. Are you a fan?  Have you tried one?  Tada, this is what they look like.

Now I hopefully have you in the mood for something topped in whipped cream. Since we’re right in the middle of The Glitter Globe’s 100th blog celebration, I have another giveaway. And since I suck at math so badly, and figured out that this blog is actually the 100th one and not yesterday’s – it has to be something extra good. How about a $10 gift card to Starbucks?  Yay!  I’ll be giving away three of them in the next forty-eight hours. Again, I’m asking you to join this site AND this is where it gets tricky – if you have a friend join (or two of three) – I’ll put your name and theirs into the hat (actually it is a 5" stiletto heel pump) that many times for the random drawing. Just make sure your friend/friends mention you in the post. And just to be fair, if you're like me and mostly only have the imaginary friends you write about, I've got you covered. I'll put you in twice if you leave me a comment and give me the scoop about your favorite dessert. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

You're Invited to a Party!

This is blog post #100 and that deserves a celebration. You know what that means?  Party in The Glitter Globe. I’ve been known to throw some decent parties. There will be snacks, sparkly stuff and music. In fact, let’s make today Music Monday and I’ll give away some iTunes gift cards, so you can listen to whatever you like. There is a small caveat, I’m going to ask you to sign up and follow my blog if you haven’t already, post a comment below and I’ll randomly pick three posts in the next twenty-four hours.

A one day party isn’t nearly enough either. This is going to be like a Glittery Woodstock. At least three days, and if enough people come, we’ll just hang around Spooky Hill and keep right on partying. Now let’s talk party. What was your favorite party?  I think my all time favorite was The Pony Party. It was my first taste of country life. I was living in Texas at the time, in the country with cattle and coyotes. Every now and then cattle would stray and I’d find them outside eating my grass. Being originally more of a city chick, I really didn’t know what to do about that. I mean, do they bite?  The kids enjoyed watching them though, and then I asked my daughter what she wanted to do for her 5th birthday. She said, “Ride a pony.” I thought, “Hey!  We can probably do that right here, if there are cows there are certainly ponies around somewhere.”  So instead of having a party with her friends over I spent the entire $75 party budget just to rent ponies.
Now I was pretty jazzed about this, two guys brought ponies to the house and walked them around by the lead. I mean, really?  Is that not a Princess party?  Apparently not, because my Princess would not willingly come out of the sandbox to look at those ponies during the hour and half they were there. We ended up applying just enough parental guilt to get the kids onto the beast’s backs for a picture, and then knocking on doors and getting neighbors to come over for a ride. What made it my favorite party?  When my Sweet Princess explained to me later, with her plastic My Little Pony toy clutched in her fist. “Mom, I wanted the pink or blue ones with the sparkly eyes.”  My bad. Turns out the big hairy, refuse dropping beasts weren’t Princess Party material.
After moving to Spooky Hill we hosted a Halloween party for kids. The adults dressed as Scooby-Doo characters, I got a purple dress and dyed my hair red and voila – Daphne!  My niece was Scooby, and Dear Hubby spent the night explaining that the orange ascot around his neck meant he was Fred. The kids played a game that involved eating whatever gross thing you pulled out of a paper bag. A neighbor guy showed up dressed like a genie, and it was rather spectacular. Hubby put hay in a wagon and used the lawnmower to haul kids around the backyard in the dark. There were dozens of kids running from back doors through front doors. At one point everyone started fussing about Moses. I went in search of someone dressed as Moses; it turned out to be some sort of giant dog that had arrived on the scene. It ran around the house, chased the hay wagon, and eventually was dragged back to wherever it came from. In short, the party rocked, and we had hay in the house for months afterward to remind us how much fun it was.
How about leaving a comment and telling me about your favorite party?  Have you ever hosted a party and when it came time to clean up after, debated moving instead?  (Remember to leave a comment below. I’m giving away three $10 iTunes gift cards in the next 24 hours. You can use them for any kind of music you like. Just, please, if you waste use them for country music, don’t even tell me.)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Man Versus Woodchuck

Woodchuck/Groundhog/Land beaver/Whistlepig/Marmot
One of the first signs of spring is groundhogs.  They dig their holes flush up against blacktop roads.  Needless to say they don’t all live long.  Once someone tucked a beer bottle into the crook of one poor fellow’s arm and propped him along the road near my house, a taxidermist wannabe perhaps?  I wonder how many potholes are from groundhogs digging.  It is a sad fact of life that those who cost taxpayer’s money don’t garner much sympathy.  Despite the fact that February 2nd is a day devoted entirely to groundhogs, the rest of the year they fall under the varmint label.  Life is so not fair.  City dwellers everywhere should rise up in outrage and adopt them all as pets and keep them safe in their apartments, maybe put sweaters on them in winter.  I picture that being like trying to stuff a limp hairy octopus into a little baggie, but I’m sure it can be done. 
It is mid-summer here in Iceland and the groundhogs have extended their territory to include Dear Hubby’s garden (they like zucchini, but just one bite out of each squash, so you really can’t complain) and Hubby’s barn. They dug the foundation out, built little tunnels beneath the sidewalk and occasionally build pits inside tall grass in the yard.  They’re trying to take down the tractor, like in that movie Tremors.  They haven’t launched anyone completely off the mower when it hits a hidden hole, yet.  Sometimes they watch from their holes and laugh though.  It’s only a matter of time before we look out there one day and the dudes will be riding the tractor around, drinking and listening to loud music.  I doubt my neighbors will mind, they’ll be so pleased to see someone mowing the grass.  It will really tick off Dear Hubby though, because it would mean they won.

Hubby put a waterproofed radio in the garden.  I objected when I heard country music coming from there.  He knows I’m allergic and it would just get the dudes line dancing anyway.  I helped and changed the channel.  Now it is pretty much static.  That seems to have worked, either that or like the rest of us the groundhogs are just sick of zucchini by now.  The tunnels moved from the entire backside of the barn to the front, so out came the traps.  Having learned nothing from the Canadian blue-tailed squirrel story (http://www.theglitterglobe.com/2012/07/campfires-canada-day-eh.html) my benevolent Hubby was going to capture them and take them for a ride.  They won’t go inside no matter what tempting groundhog bait he puts in there.  I think it is because the groundhogs are way fatter than the traps.
Earlier in the year, when the fellas first made their appearance my guys pondered shooting them.  Don’t tell hubby, but whenever I saw a woodchuck I’d knock on the window and he’d run off before the guys with the license to kill got up in the morning.  I didn’t know groundhogs had more relatives than my Bohemian family.  One of our neighbors AND the internet told us that gum can get rid of groundhogs.  Apparently it gets stuck in their intestines and it is not a nice way to go folks, the bullet would be far kinder.  Though there are now about six packs of Juicy Fruit sticks littering my backyard.  Dear Hubby swears he sees the gum chewed up and sitting on the edges of the groundhog’s holes.  He said they chew it until the flavor is gone and spit it out. 

One evening the biggest groundhog, obviously the Patriarch of the clan, sat in the middle of the backyard making obscene gestures.  A licensed hunter was here and he got a gun out of the safe, then the ammo out of that locked ammo box which was also in the safe, then he crept slowly outside to tackle the groundhog who by now was checking his watch and rolling his eyes.  The groundhog laughed and stood up against the barn, throwing his arms and legs out in an obvious “You’ve got me” gesture.  Problem was he was now flush up against the barn and his demise would have meant a nice big hole in the side of the barn too.  Then he slid down into a hole beneath it.  He popped his head out a few times to gloat and mock. 
Today I glanced out the back window and saw hubby’s camouflage hunting-blind in the woods.  These little tents are where hunters go to read their wife’s book during hunting season.  Hubby said he is airing it out.  I think you just can’t tease a hunter when you’re in season, words to live by, those.  Good thing I’m out of season. 
If you're aware of any merciful way to get woodchucks to move from my yard, to yours, or even your in-laws, please leave me a comment!  Or if you want to come catch one to live in your apartment, feel free. Also, I'd love to hear your groundhog stories!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Once I Found my Lost Keys in my Hand

Someone I love dearly is starting to have serious memory issues. Sometimes she uses one of my nieces as an external hard-drive of sorts. “Sweetie, remind me that I put my car keys in the side pocket of my purse,” This after first telling me to remind her, looking at my expression, then rolling her eyes and wisely resorting to the First Grader.
My own short term memory issues are nothing new. I have always been like this. Maybe it is a blonde thing, I don’t know. I think I use short term memory space for other purposes, perhaps long term memories, perhaps Pac-Man patterns. My BFF has excellent short term memory and oddly enough I have excellent long term. Between the two of us, we almost make up an entirely functional human being.
Someone was telling a story recently, about a time when we were little and had found a nest of baby rabbits. “Remember there was an old guy who used to yell out his window, ‘Leave those bunnies be!’?”  “Yes,” I said, “Mr. Imars.”  “Oh for pity’s sake, how can you remember that?  That was the only time that man ever spoke to us!  It’s been at least twenty years.”  Because I remember everything, the cost of banana popsicles, which librarian let me check out books that were too old for me, who stole my wicked cool bike (yeah, dude, thanks for the awesome name for the evil column).
Short-term memory is a whole other deal. I have none, but I have excellent coping skills. It has made me very empathetic to the elderly with similar issues and to my loved one who is losing her short-term memory. On top of that I have a list of useful tips to share.
·         Park in the same place, put your keys in the same place and write things down or put it into your telephone immediately.
·         If you need to get something done, do it right now. This is always a gold star in the working world where I receive kudos for my prompt response. They don’t realize there are only two choices in my repertoire. Now or never.
·         Eat the same breakfast, that way you never get tripped up by this question. I never have trouble with the other meals. The brain has just slept very soundly through breakfast my entire life.
·         Own it, don’t try to fake your way out when you forget. You just look ridiculous if you do. Doesn’t this sound so much better?  “I know you told me your name six times today, I do remember it was something complex. Beth Wilson?  Got it.”
·         Dig deep and keep a good attitude. There is always an adventure waiting every time you forget. If it doesn’t lead to the ER or the impound lot, it’s not a bad thing.
This morning I traipsed into the Dentist’s office and gave my name. The receptionist got very quiet as she looked through the day’s appointments. I go there all the time, they give free chapsticks and my dentist is super sweet and this isn’t the first time they got very quiet at check-in. I sighed and waited, knowing what the problem was and promising myself that for now on I will not be texting, checking Facebook and inputting appointments into my schedule all at the same time. I’m just not a good multi-tasker, I think it involves short-term memory. The receptionist said, “Your next appointment is in August.”  I double checked my phone and sure enough it was in there for August too. I wondered briefly where I was supposed to be today at 1:00. Well at least I’d kept up with the latest Zombie Apocalypse comments on Facebook, right?  Besides while I was in town I dropped by the post office and mailed my BFF her hair flattener. She forgot it at my house this weekend, despite her excellent short term memory. Perhaps this means we might need an external hard drive for our next road trip. Know any First Graders for hire?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Campfires & Canada Day, Eh

Once Upon a Time I drove into Canada on the Friday before Canada Day.  If you, like me, are unaware of the significance of the holiday, it is like the 4th of July; except with a fanaticism that most Americans haven’t had for the 4th since about 1776.  At the time all I knew for certain was that every vehicle in Canada was on the highway, Walmart was closed and it looked like Toronto was being evacuated.  Police cars were parked along highways and searching cars randomly, and they threatened to confiscate Dear Hubby’ s radar detector for the Queen.  This was fine by me. I have detested the thing for years and often fantasized about cutting its cord during long car trips.  At the time though, my first thought was, Canada has a Queen?  I didn’t know Canada had a Queen.  So let me help you out here, if you didn’t already know these things.
·         They use UK’s Queen and she wants your radar detector if you take it to Canada.
·         Canada Day is July 1st, travel at your own risk, and don’t say I didn’t warn you. 
There is much to be gleaned from slogging your way deep into the Canadian Wilderness.  Some people go to fish and boat and commune with the great outdoors.  Some people go to hide beneath their mosquito netting and write 5,000 words a day.  The latter people come out at night to feed the mosquitoes, and hang out at campfires with Canadians who spend about half the year living in the middle of nowhere.  These people are excellent fodder for The Glitter Globe. 
For almost a decade I have been skulking around these folks for inspiration and they have yet to fail me.  At first I observed from a distance.  Once I saw them chipmunk fishing, don’t worry, they didn’t use hooks.  It was very humane, a bag of peanuts and a fishing pole.  How did they get the chipmunks to stick?  Apparently those critters really want peanuts, they didn’t care if they were being reeled in, and if they lost their grip on said peanut they raced after it again. 
One of my personal favorite stories is the squirrels with the painted tails story, as told to me by Trey*.  Seems squirrels were invading a cabin and the owner couldn’t bear the thought of harming the creatures, so live traps were used and the squirrels were then taken off the island.  Now Trey had a sneaking suspicion about the effectiveness of this plan, and fetched a can of spray paint and painted one of the little fellow’s tails blue.  Then he took the guy “for a ride” as we like to say in the States.  After returning to camp, another squirrel had been captured, so he painted that guy’s tail too, and headed deeper into the wilderness to locate a new home for him.  Passing over a footbridge off the island, Trey passed a squirrel racing towards him.  You know it; the dude had a blue tail. 
These are the kind of stories shared during a Canada Day campfire and I’m not even going to get into the floor show.  Okay, I will say this much, when human beings spend inordinate amounts of time entertaining themselves, creativity takes a turn.  I came prepared with an American campfire tradition and they gave a passing nod to the brilliance of making ‘Smores with peanut butter cups instead of chocolate bars, eh.  Right on, American, not bad.  Then they tossed some old pine branches on the fire.  Whoosh, the flames shot up into the 50’ pine trees towards the starry-starry night sky, and I made a mental note to never have a live Christmas tree again as long as I may live.  Then they broke out the bacon.
That’s right.  These people who spend half the year living deep in the bush don’t have the lowly hotdog for their campfires.  They passed around large containers of bacon marinated in maple syrup.  It had been cooked ahead of time and they ate it cold.  *Insert macho grunt here* Then out came the homemade cookies.  Cut out sugar cookies shaped like a maple leaf – iced and with sparkly sprinkles.  I don’t even do cut-out cookies for Christmas.  The only similarity I saw in the Canadian campfires and the ones I’ve attended back in the USA is sweatshirts.  The day after a campfire you find a variety of sweatshirts that nobody will claim.  These unclaimed sweatshirts make up half my wardrobe, the other half being free T-Shirts I gather at engineering conferences.  Bet you didn’t know that, bet you thought I went to MIT, eh?
*Name changed to protect Clay from being identified by Blog reading blue-tailed squirrels.
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