Monday, August 31, 2009

The Close of ToBloPoMo

That's it, my friends. Today is the last day of ToBloPoMo, and I'm happy that I succeeded with my post-a-day goal. There were times that I posted late, put up something lame, or struggled for something to say, but I still made it through.

As I knew I would, I really liked posting regularly again. I wish I could promise to keep it up, but I don't realistically believe it will happen. I'm taking on a big new challenge at work this week, and fall classes begin next week. Together, those two challenges are going to be tough enough without the added pressure to post every day. Depending on how things are going, maybe I'll take on NaBloPoMo, but we'll have to wait and see on that one. Until then, I'll be here posting irregularly. :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bread Pudding Success

I tried out my super simple bread pudding recipe tonight, and it was a hit! It was so quick and easy to put together, and Todd and I both really liked it. Todd especially loved it, which is surprising given that there isn't a lick of chocolate in it.

Below is the recipe as it stands. I think it'd be an easy one to change up, and I can imagine a cheesy savory version making a good breakfast.


  • 6 slices day-old bread (I used potato bread)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Break bread into small pieces into an 8 inch square baking pan. Drizzle melted butter or margarine over bread. If desired, sprinkle with raisins.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Things I Love About Todd

  • That he makes me laugh even when I don't want to.
  • How he notices small things that I like and surprises me with them.
  • That he appreciates the efforts I make, even when they don't pan out.
  • That he just watched 5 episodes of Battlestar Galactica with me.
  • His geek chic-ness.
  • His love of hermit crabs.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bread Pudding

Any big bread pudding fans out there? I just read a recipe that sounded stupidly simple to make, and I’m thinking of trying it out this weekend. I really need to stop with the baking if I ever want to lose weight. The problem is that the baking and eating is so much more fun than trying to fit into skinny jeans.

I think that next week we'll find out what Dorrie has in store for us on Have the Cake, and I'm pretty sure it's not bread pudding. I could wait and get my baking fix with whatever she's planning, but there are no guarantees that I'll take that moderate approach.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

She Bangs

What do we all think of bangs? Sometimes when I get bored with my hair I think I should rethink my lifelong ambivalence toward bangs. If I got them, I could have a whole new look without losing the length of my hair. While I’m not at all opposed to short hair, I’m sort of enjoying having it long these days. I’m thinking something like a Kenley Collins look; yes, I know she’s a crazy girl who fights with Tim Gunn and uses her cat as a projectile weapon. But didn’t she have a cute look, too?

What do you all think? Do you vote yes or no on the bangs idea?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I think I ate a bug

How gross is that? Last night I was reading while Todd was getting ready for bed. I did what I often do and drifted off with the book next to me, waking up again when Todd came into the room. We were chatting about how he was feeling achy, when all of a sudden I made the whole night revolve around me. Nice right? He’s sore and uncomfortable and I talk about myself. :)

Seriously, though, my top lip was feeling all tingly and swelling up; I could feel it getting bigger and bigger as we were talking. I thought at first it could be a food allergy, but I hadn’t eaten anything in hours, and it was really isolated to just the left side of my top lip. I wouldn’t expect a food allergy to be that localized.

After some research, all signs pointed to an insect bite or sting. Which means that some creepy crawly was creeping and crawling across my face. Gross! And bit or stung my lip. GROSS! The swelling/tingling has pretty much gone away, but now I’m paranoid and itchy, thinking that any slight breeze is really another bug on me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fantasy Home Shopping

Todd and I continued our fantasy home search this past weekend in Vermont. Bryan and Jane told us their next door neighbor’s home was for sale, and since they were friendly with a realtor they set it up so we could see the house while we were visiting.

Let me tell you guys: this home had me seriously salivating. There were things that were imperfect about it, like a shortage of closets, but overall, it was wonderful. So quirky and unique: no two rooms were the same, and there were unexpected treats all throughout. And the space! It was the house that just kept on giving. I saw the main two levels and then was surprised by a finished basement that could easily serve as a TV room. Then I couldn’t believe the storage space the attached shed offered. Then, oh, how I was wowed by the tiny one room cabin in the woods! Maybe we could use it as a guest house for when our city friends come to visit, I thought to myself. Or, maybe we turn it into an art studio where Todd makes sculptures and I make pottery. The possibilities seemed truly limitless.

It would be a solid 5 or 6 hour drive from the city, though, and we don’t have a car. The flight up to Burlington isn’t that expensive but would break the bank if we tried to make this place into a weekend home, and our painfully delayed flight home on Sunday made me even less open to that crazy option. In the end, there isn’t a way to make this work, but if I could have, I would have.

Monday, August 24, 2009

New Friends

After Friday's focus on my old friends and neighbors, we spent the rest of the weekend with Todd's friend Bryan and his family. Todd and Bryan go back to fourth or fifth grade, so I was hoping for some embarrassing stories and photos. I got some stories, but Todd's hard to embarrass, and he never really did get rattled.

His friends were fabulous, though, and so welcoming in every way. We had a quintessential out-of-the-city experience with them. Saturday morning they took us hiking up Mount Filo for a little exertion and beautiful views. In the afternoon we went swimming at the Bolton potholes: a series of natural pools in rocks that run one from the next, connected by waterfalls. It looked like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. In the evening, Bryan and Todd built a fire outside so Jane and the girls could make smores while Bryan, Todd, and I went into Burlington to see the town and go out to dinner. Sunday was spent at a local farm that's open to the public where we got to milk a cow; chase and, in a few cases, catch chickens and pick them up; play name that poop, learn how to make felt, and so much more.

A couple photos of our adventures are below.

View from Mount Filo

Todd knows his shit

Me and my chicken

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Old Friends

Todd and I spent the weekend in Vermont, and it was the first time I'd been back in about a decade. Funny to think that I've been gone for longer than I was there.

Friday was all about my trip down memory lane. We stayed with a childhood friend of Todd's from who lives up near Burlington, about an hour from where I grew up. We drove down to my part of the state on Friday morning and met one of my high school friends for coffee. She and I have only recently reconnected, and what's been fun is how easily we've picked up our friendship. We've gone in pretty different directions — she's married to a military chaplain and is an active baptist now, for instance — but the foundation of our friendship is surprisingly solid after such a long break.

Lunch was with my dad and his wife. It was the first time that Todd has met my father, so it was nice to make those introductions and see them get to know each other a bit.

Then it was on to dinner with Roland (yes, all we did was eat on Friday), another high school friend who I hadn't seen since graduation. He brought his lovely wife and adorable three year old son, who charmed us all throughout the meal with his patience with all the boring adult talk. Todd's friends joined us, too, and it was great to bring both groups together.

It was a little odd to have a homecoming after so long away. For much of Friday, I didn't remember how to get from one place to another, and some landmarks had changed in my memory but not at all in reality. Others had changed in reality and threw me off.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

J & J

By request, my review of Julie & Julia:

Like so many others, I thought the Julia Child portions of this movie were winning and adorable in every way that a movie can be. Meryl Streep is as genius as she always is, and she infuses a joy into her portrayal of Julia Child that is absolutely infectious. Is there a role that woman can't knock out of the park? I loved Stanley Tucci as Paul Child, and I loved Jane Lynch as Julia's sister. Everything about these scenes were fabulous.

I wish I could say the same for the Julie parts of the movie. I've loved Amy Adams in many other movies, and she's played happy adorable people time and again, so I'm not sure what went wrong here. But Julie comes across as an annoyingly miserable person. She's unhappy, but the movie never tells us why. She has a sucky job, but otherwise it's unclear what makes her feel so lost. In contrast to Meryl Streep's scenes, which are like a party we all want to attend, Amy Adams' scenes are a downer each and every time.

The funny thing about this is that I loved Julie Powell in the book. I found her snarky, self-deprecating, and sarcastic, sure. She was never a pollyanna. But she wasn't a sourpuss, either. And I found the Julia Child scenes in the book somewhat shoe-horned in and unnecessary (I seem to be in the minority here, I'll admit).

Bottom line is that people should read the book and see the movie. The offer really different but equally wonderful things, and they'll make you appreciate the two protagonists in very different ways.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lazy Staycation: Reading American Wife

When I ended up with a bit of Barnes and Noble credit a few months ago, I veered for the first time (but not the last) from my buying-no-books-in-2009 plan. With that credit I bought the creepy, wonderful, impossible-to-forget We Need To Talk About Kevin and the far less disturbing American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.

Sittenfeld takes the broad outlines of Laura Bush's life, from the tragic car accident in her youth to her days as a librarian to her marriage to a well-to-do good ol' boy. From this foundation, Sittenfeld builds the fictional account of Alice Lindgren Blackwell. Hating George W. Bush and his administration, I wans't sure how sympathetic I'd find the characters in this novel, and it's to Sittenfeld's credit that she really creates a protagonist that I wanted to spend time with.

Alice is the heart and soul of American Wife and the fact that it's easy to like her allows us to see Charlie Blackwell (aka Dubya) more sympathetically because all of his antics are filtered through her eyes. That said, she also stacks the deck in Charlie's favor because the majority of the book is about Alice's early life and the first part of her relationship with Charlie. Campaigns and governorship are glossed over, and the couple's time in the White House is only a small portion of the novel. Alice's thoughts on abortion and the war are plot points, but many of the other controversial elements Sittenfeld could have drawn on barely make a blip.

This works because the novel is more about relationships and characters than it is about politics. The surprise coupling of a hard working, book loving librarian and a privileged party boy provide Sittenfeld with plenty to explore without getting bogged down in anything resembling policy. The book is a good one and definitely a page turner, but it's far more of a character study than it is a political novel.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Green Mountain Bound

Today Todd and I take off for our long weekend in New England. We're flying up to Burlington tonight and will drive down to the center part of the state to my old hood on Friday. We'll have lunch with my dad, who will be meeting Todd for the first time. They are both pretty easy going, so I don't imagine there is anything to worry about, but it'll still be good to get the first introductions done.

Tomorrow night we reunite with a friend of mine from high school who I haven't seen in over a decade. I had hoped for a bigger group, but the other friend I wanted to see isn't free. Keep your fingers crossed that we don't run out of things to talk about while we're still eating appetizers!

The rest of the weekend will be spent with a childhood friend of Todd's. I've never met him or his wife in person, so I'll need fingers crossed on that front, too. In a perfect world we'll all hit it off smashingly!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lazy Staycation: Watching Grey Gardens

Yesterday and today are the staycation part of my vacation, and I've done a grand total of almost nothing. I've motivated to do the Wii both mornings in an attempt to counter act at least a little of the weekend's peanut butter cookie consumption, but that's the most activity I've done.

This morning I watched the HBO version of Grey Gardens, which I liked. It's impossible to watch it with a totally fresh eye, having seen the documentary multiple times as well as the Broadway musical version. I thought Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange were strong, though, and did a lot more than turn in impersonations. And I liked that this movie hinted at a bit of what happened during the Beales' bizarre decline. The documentary famously chronicles their life in squalor, and the musical shows their life in society in act one and then the documentary portion of their life in act two. This movie connects those two incredibly different periods more than any other retelling I've seen. Edith and Little Edie are so fascinating and bizarre that I need a little help understanding how they went from debutante balls to eviction notices. These connecting threads are important: recreating scenes from the documentary alone wouldn't add anything new or insightful.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Home Sweet Home

I'm home again for a couple of days of lazy R&R. Yesterday's drive back was a lot better, traffic-wise, than our drive up to Massachusetts on Friday. Until the last hour of our trip, we sat in stop-and-go traffic the entire time on Friday. That made for a long day to say the least. Yesterday was smooth sailing right up until we hit NYC traffic. We added about an hour to the trip getting into the city to drop me off, and then my poor mom spent another three hours getting home from my place — and it should only take an hour and a half. I feel bad, but she's kindly not blaming me for the near impossibility of getting through the Lincoln Tunnel.

It was great to visit Veronica, and now it's great to be home. I missed Todd, and Camilla and I are having a nice time cozying up least as much as one can cozy in 90+ degree heat.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Winslow Farm

One of the more off-the-beaten path things that I did while visiting my sister was go to an animal sanctuary not far from her house. Winslow Farm takes in abused or abandoned animals and provides them with a safe haven in which to live the rest of their lives.

The place has about 100 cats roaming around, a couple of dogs, and sheep, pigs, goats, horses, and at least one emu. They probably have tons of other animals, too, that I didn't even see. Veronica and Mike are partial to Waterford the pig, who is one year old, the biggest pig I've ever seen in my life, and likely to double in size by the time he stops growing. Seriously, that pig will be as big as a horse!

For my money, I loved a goat named Mervin. He followed us around the farm like a dog would. We walked: Mervin walked. We stopped: Mervin stopped. If we stood around for too long, he'd gently head butt one of our hands, letting us know that now was a good time to pet him. He was awesome.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Paying It Forward

I came across the website for Volunteer Gear a short time ago and am intrigued. The premise, if it works, allows this company to make money by prompting individuals to volunteer their time and energy in whatever capacity appeals to them most.

You buy a t-shirt, thus paying them to volunteer, basically. But, with the purchase of a tee, you also get a pair of dog tags that have a unique serial number. You register the tags on their site and, after volunteering, pass one or both of the tags on to someone else. They volunteer, register their activity, and pass the tags on. Through the site, you can track the progress of your tags, where people are volunteering, and presumably feel a sense of joy that you played a part in it.

Things I love about this:

  • The first person invests the money to get the tags and fund the initiative, but after that there is no cost to anyone involved.
  • It would feel really satisfying to prompt so much volunteering and goodwill in the world.
  • It’s really flexible, allowing people to put their effort where they think it matters most.
Things I don’t love: it feels a little like a chain letter. I think I’d send these tags off and they’d disappear never to be seen or heard of again. I wonder if, for the most part, people would only volunteer if they were inclined to already. I don’t know if the dog tags are really enough of a motivation to overcome busy lives or inertia.

What do you guys think? Would getting a dog tag from me prompt you to volunteer?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Books and Bargains

Mom and I suffered through way too much traffic on our way up to Veronica's yesterday, but now that we've actually arrived we've had a lot of fun catching up with Veronica. Mike had an old friend in town last night, so we did a girls' night of pizza, What Not To Wear, and chit chat. Veronica tested my love of used books today by taking Mom and me to a cute used bookstore in her neighborhood. My resolve to not buy books until I make a dent in my to-be-read pile proved absolutely beyond weak. I walked out with The Sportswriter, Arthur & George, and Truth & Beauty: A Friendship. I've showed a lot less restraint in used bookstores in the past, so it wasn't too bad, right?

Then went to do a little clothes shopping and I found an adorably cute pink dress that has a '50s cocktail dress vibe. It had no tag whatsoever, so after I tried it on and fell in love, I still had no idea whether this was something I could actually buy. When the cashier told me it was on sale for $18 — down from $90! — I snatched it up and wished there were others in other colors. There weren't, but I still felt pretty lucky.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Peanut Buttery Goodness

In just a few hours mom will be picking me up and together we’ll make the drive to Veronica and Mike’s house in Massachusetts. Naturally, I didn’t want to arrive empty handed, so I used this as another baking excuse. Yes, I still remember the sugar overload that Sofia’s birthday cake brought on, and yes, I still have half a carrot cake in the fridge. None of that stopped me, though, and how could it when I found a recipe for peanut butter cup–engulfing peanut butter cookies? Seriously: yum.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More Pics

As promised, here are more photos documenting the fun Todd and I had at Rena's. She was such a good host, and I can't wait to go back again next time!

Plums! As soon as we arrived Rena whisked us to this orchard. Here we're standing amongst the blueberries holding up our supply of just-picked plums.

Adventures in pasta making begin! Todd did all the hard work, and I didn't envy him. We made him knead the pasta dough for ages.

Noodles! It was so satisfying to see these come together.

Loving life, about to enjoy our feast of fresh pasta, corn on the cob, and swiss chard.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

International Youth Day

According to the Chagall-themed calendar hanging in my cube, today is “International Youth Day.” I remember one spring when Mother’s Day and Father’s Day rolled around asking my parents why there was no “Daughter’s Day” or “Child’s Day.” The answer I got was that every day is child’s day. Good point, I now think.

International Youth Day reminded me of that conversation, but it also made me sincerely curious what it was all about. Turns out it’s a UN-prompted day that has more to do with sustainability and the concept of a global village than it does anything connected to being a young’un.

Surely the UN is right, and young people need to embrace the idea of sustainability, but shouldn’t a youth day have something to do with ice cream, running barefoot through grass, and playing with abandon?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Have the Cake: Carrot Cake

You've heard the story from Rena already, but I'm here to tell you that August's Have the Cake carrot cake was pretty easy to make and tasted great! The most challenging part from my perspective was mixing the date paste and melted butter. I thought I was going to smoosh and stir forever. It took ages before I even saw progress and had my doubts about the ability to get these two ingredients combined. Obviously in the end those, and all the other ingredients, came together.

The cake baked for a little longer than we originally put it in for. We weren't quite sure how long it would take, so we underestimated and then checked it every ten minutes or so. In the end, I think it was about 55 minutes before our toothpick came out clean.

It smelled so good when it came out that we teased that we'd have to put it up out of reach of Austin, otherwise she wouldn't be able to resist it while we were out getting lunch. In the end it was Todd, Rena, and me who couldn't resist. Even after a big burrito lunch, we each held out about five minutes before having a slice.

The first Have the Cake month was a roaring success!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Reasons to Celebrate

Reasons to celebrate are there, if we only look for them. Todd and I treated ourselves to a really wonderful, delicious, indulgent dinner at Morimoto on Friday night. We made the reservation several weeks ago when I had just finished my summer class and used it as an excuse for the date. When Friday came, I dressed up, spent the day looking forward to our evening together, and generally had a more giddy energy than I typically do.

Throughout the night we raised our glasses of sake and toasted many things: the successful completion of my summer course, Todd's new job, an achievement at work, anything and everything. The lesson for me is that there are reasons to celebrate if you're looking for them. It was so much fun to be so positive, spend the evening with Todd, and enjoy some really, really, really good food together.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Visiting & Eating...

... eating and visiting. That's what Todd and I did in the Berkshires this weekend. We arrived in Rena's neck of the woods around 10:00 a.m. on Saturday and instantly brought on the food by going for some anti-climactic berry picking. I had envisioned picking of epic proportions. Instead, we picked two bags of plums in about seven minutes, looked at the blueberries and decided they were over priced, and high-tailed it out of there. If we were at the orchard for half an hour, it was a lot. And thus began two days of non-stop cooking and consumption, including all of us popping our pasta-making cherries together, making blueberry pancakes, and baking the first Have the Cake cake. Photo documentation of much of this excitement will follow after I snag the photos from Todd's computer.

Generally speaking, Rena completely indulged my romanticized vision of life outside NYC. Great Barrington is a great town and has so many adorable shops and homes that Todd suggested I put a moratorium on the word "cute." We fell in love with the area so quickly and so completely that while Rena and I caught up over a scoop of SoCo Creamery dirty chocolate ice cream (side note: YUM), Todd took his cup across the street to a local real estate agent, made a connection, and found us a house to consider buying. Ultimately, the house wasn't for us for so many reasons, but we were so happy in the Berkshires that we were seriously day dreaming about a home there!

The best thing, which probably goes without saying, was getting two full days to catch up with Rena. And that's high praise given how good everything was!

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Todd and I went to the Vespa showroom the other night to see in person just what it was we were thinking about purchasing. We walked in thinking we wanted the biggest and fastest model: the one that is better for highway driving and would most comfortably seat us both. We walked out thinking the same thing, but kudos to the salesman who had us temporarily considering getting two of the smaller models. It would cost more, but not a whole lot more, and we’d have the flexibility of each going our separate ways when our schedules conflicted. In the end, it doesn’t really make sense, but he did have us going for a while.

The Vespa is still our leading transportation possibility right now, and we’re feeling pretty positively inclined toward it at the moment. One big consideration is whether we should get it right away and enjoy all the autumn riding we could be doing. On the other hand, it’s not particularly useful in the winter, so perhaps we should save up over the winter and buy it in the spring. Naturally, I’m eager for instant satisfaction, but I’m not sure whether that’s the best choice. Any thought?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Don't mess with the bull, young man. You'll get the horns.

I'm so sad about John Hughes! I love some of his movies more than I can say, and even though his recent work doesn't have the same place in my heart that his Brat Pack and other 80s movies do, it's really sad to know he's no longer around writing, producing, and directing.

My favorite is pretty obvious here: It's The Breakfast Club. Some others (Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller, Some Kind of Wonderful) are right up there, too, but nothing will ever beat the brain, the athlete, the basket case, the princess, and the criminal.

What's your favorite John Hughes movie?

Thursday, August 6, 2009


We're still not quite ready to give up our dream of personal transportation. The idea of buying a car is still alive and well, but the reality of paying for a car in the city — especially including parking — dims our prospects.

Also in the running is the option of either a motorcycle or a scooter. They aren't as useful: in the winter we'd basically have to retire it. We can pack a whole lot less in saddle bags than in a trunk. No back seat, meaning it's only ever just the two of us traveling. And we simply can't go as far on a Vespa than we could in a car.

Still, something about this idea is compelling. There is ideal scooter parking only a few blocks from us, so we'd be set on that difficult front. Many of the trips we want to take are spontaneous day or overnight trips in the northeast, so we wouldn't need to pack much or drive for excessively long stretches. We could scoot our way around the city, making farther-flung neighborhoods more accessible all while avoiding the subways which are more crowded than ever these days.

We'd need to get our motorcycle licenses for the highway-rated Vespa, so that's the first obstacle to overcome. Maybe we can do that this fall, save up all winter, and then be scooting by first thaw. What do you all think?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

(500) Days of Summer

The many great reviews I’d read for this movie may have over hyped it just a little, but overall, (500) Days of Summer lives up to all the great things you’ve probably heard about it. I loved the authenticity Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zoey Deschanel brought to their characters and their relationship: scenes where almost nothing is said—looks are exchanged, eyes are rolled, or hands are held—felt true and familiar.

Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel play Tom and Summer, respectively, and we know from the start that their relationship won’t last (hence the film’s name). Seen through Tom’s eyes, we experience the mystery and allure that is Summer Finn. Told out of chronological order, the movie bounces from one stage of their affair to another without a predictable rhyme or reason but always with purpose. Given the perspective of the movie, it’s no wonder I wound up appreciating and sympathizing with Tom more than Summer. He’s ultimately more likeable, if only because we see the world through his eyes. There were times when I’d had quite enough of Summer, thank you very much, but the strength of Gordon-Levitt’s performance allows us to stay with him even when it’s not quite clear why he’s so committed.

Some of the secondary characters, especially that of Tom’s little sister, felt far less authentic, which did detract from the movie but not enough to really hurt it. And there is a bit of cheese at the end that serves a purpose but is cheesy nonetheless. Still, it’s one of the better romantic movies I’ve seen in a while. It is more original, heartfelt, and believable that most of what passes for romance at the movies these days.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Domestic Goddess

I usually drink at least one cup of tea per day while I’m at work; often, it’s more. I have an Ithaca College mug that I use, proudly displaying my love for the academy and my alma mater. Unfortunately, the inside of the mug is white, and over time it had gotten rather tea stained. I washed it vigorously in our pantry sink, but the dish soap and sponge method just wasn’t cutting it. I had heard soaking it overnight in vinegar might help, but I’m a 21st century kind of girl and wanted instant satisfaction. A quick internet search turned up this tidbit: use Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. I already had these at home, so I brought my mug home last night and gave it a whirl. Seriously, those things aren’t called “magic” for nothing. I don’t ever want to hear it if they are bad for the environment or going to eventually give me cancer. I just wiped out the inside of my mug and the stains were gone. I know I sound like a Mr. Clean shill, but they’re not even compensating me for writing this. I’m just really happy that my coworkers won’t think I’m some gross-ass who never washes out her mug.

Anyone else have helpful hints to share? I hate cleaning, so shortcuts are very welcome. :)

Monday, August 3, 2009


Saturday night Todd and I attended the birthday party of one of his oldest friends. This guy really did it up: he rented a private space at Chelsea Piers where 80 or so friends gathered to celebrate the start of his fourth decade. We each paid $20 upon arrival, but after that there was an open wine and beer bar, appetizers, two cakes, and cookies. There was music, through which I learned that Todd and all his childhood friends have exactly the same moves. Before cake was served, a microphone was brought out, and the guest of honor thanked everyone for coming. His wife read a prepared speech. His mom and brother gave toasts. It was a really fun night, but much more lavish than anything I’ve ever done for my birthday. It also made me feel like I totally dropped the ball when Todd had his 40th birthday in December.

Which makes me wonder: how do you all celebrate? My speed has been dinner with a select group of friends and/or inviting a large group out to a bar for happy hour drinks after work one Friday night near my birthday. Do you do things like that or do you really make it a party? Who plans it? Is it each individual’s responsibility to get their own birthday bash going, or should significant others/friends do the heavy lifting?

My birthday is next month, and so far I have nothing planned. Maybe you’ll all inspire me to get cracking.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rockaway Beach

Todd's bound and determined to turn me into a beach person. Yesterday Todd, the kids, and I piled on to the A train for a long, long ride out to Rockaway Beach. There aren't that many nice beaches close to NYC, so we were pleasantly surprised to see that Rockaway was so easily accessible by subway and a pretty nice beach to boot.

Todd, knowing that a key element in turning me into a beach person is shade, quickly set up an umbrella for me to hide under. I braved the sun enough to try to convince Sofia that the water was fun and not traumatic; it wasn't a roaring success, but she dipped her toe in a bit.

I was lounging under the umbrella reading for a while, when Todd convinced me that I should take a turn on the boogie board, too. Dylan and I swam out together and took turn trying to catch some waves. I had a couple of good runs and lots of poorly-timed attempts. It was a blast, and I was grateful, as I usually am, that Todd pushed me to try something I'd have easily skip on my own.

Everyone had a great time and most of us napped on the long subway ride home, too. It's raining again today, but if the sun comes out any other weekend this summer we may well go back.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Or, Tori’s Blog Posting Month, for those of you not in the know.

That’s what August will be. I posted every single day — sometimes twice! — in 2008, so I know I can do it. It’s surprising how quickly not posting every day turned into not posting much at all, and having to really wrack my brain to think of what to post at all. When I did Blog 365, blogging just became part of my day. I miss sharing my life with all of you so regularly and thoughtfully, so I’m going to do a mini version of it all throughout August.

Who wants to join me in the sharing of minutiae?