Dec 8, 2013 Randomosity
I love Sundays. If I play my cards right, I don’t have to set an alarm, don’t have to shower, don’t have to leave the house. Today, I played my cards right.
Classic works of literature as Upworthy headlines. It’s been difficult for me to put my finger on why I dislike Upworthy, but I think this helps explain it. Thanks to my friend Sarah for this one.
Just when you thought all the different kinds of art had been invented, something amazing like this comes along. This is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Even though it involves a lot of dead animals.
This guy. I can’t even. It has me thinking about what I could do with Omer’s chest hair.
I made this last night. The recipe was in my gift bag from that decorating lesson I had with The Cake Boss. It’s gone. I’m making more. Just got permission to post the recipe (which is ridiculously easy) so look for that in the next day or two!
Dec 6, 2013 What's Going On
As much as I wanted to watch the live presentation of The Sound Of Music last night, I was busy picking Jake up from a late rehearsal and going to bed early. But I feel like I didn’t really need to watch it, because it was all anybody was talking about on Facebook and Twitter. And based on all of the comments, here’s what I learned.
1) Carrie Underwood has a pretty voice but can’t act. Well, duh. A nice voice does not a musical theater star make. If they really wanted to do this the right way, there are so many actual, seasoned musical theater actors whom they could have cast as Maria (one of them was already in the building and has played Maria before!!!). But they were going for audience numbers. And Carrie has a lot of fans.
2) People on the internet don’t seem to understand how hard it is to put something like this on TV live. There were so many comments along the lines of “Well I saw The Sound Of Music in [insert name of theater here], and that was LIVE, so I don’t see what the big deal is.”
3) A lot of people didn’t understand that this was the stage show and not the beloved movie, which made a lot of their complaints really dumb.
4) Audra MacDonald completely stole the show. Even if she was a black nun in Nazi Germany, which was weird.
5) Apparently there’s this vampire named Bill Compton, and nobody knew he could sing.
6) Carrie Underwood yodeled really well. Or terribly. Or too realistically. Or too southern. There was a lot of talk about the yodeling, but nobody could agree.
7) The hills were not actually alive, and several people wanted their money back.
8) An old dude kept hitting on Liesl, and it made a lot of the internet uncomfortable.
9) None of the accents were right. (But really, if you’re going to make that complaint, you have to make it about the movie too.)
Dec 5, 2013 Randomosity
I slept for ten hours straight last night. My husband had come home sick from work that morning, and by the evening I was feeling exhausted and run down. I was afraid I was coming down with whatever he’d had, so I put a very lazy dinner on the table (canned everything), said goodnight, and climbed into bed. I highly recommend it.
If left to my own devices, I think I’d probably sleep about 9.5 hours each night, either straight or combined with a nap. I’ve always needed a lot of sleep. I’ve functioned for long periods of my life without enough sleep, and the result is not pretty. Now that my life is less crazy and my kids are older, I’m trying not to do that anymore. It feels good.
In case you missed it, I posted many many pictures yesterday from my decorating lesson with The Cake Boss. So much fun!
Heading to an event today at GameStop, and I wanted to bring some old video games to trade in. Asked Omer and Jake about five times last night to gather a few before they went to bed. Of course they didn’t! So now I have to try to guess. This should be fun. It would be like them trying to guess which kitchen tools I’m ready to part with. (The answer is “None.”)
I’ve seen #31 & #33 many times, and they make me cry every single time. Thanks to my friend Sandra for posting this on Facebook and brightening up my morning!
This poor woman was live tweeting about a car accident while listening to her police scanner, when she gradually realized something awful about the fatal wreck.
This Christmas tree is a real Scream. (I want one.)
Two unicorns for sale on Craigslist. Serious inquiries only.
There’s a good reason why we tend to launch our rockets near the ocean. China hasn’t quite learned this yet.
And I leave you with possibly the best Christmas song ever cobbled together on the internet. "Shut up Wesley!"
Dec 4, 2013 What's Going On
On Monday I had a really fun morning: I got up even earlier than usual (5am! Ack!) and headed to Times Square to the M&M’s World Store. It was closed and quiet. The employees were getting ready for their day, which included a public appearance at the store by Buddy Valastro, of Carlo’s Bakery and Cake Boss fame.
I knew you could get customized M&M’s but I didn’t know you could get your FACE!
But before that, Buddy would be teaching me and a few other bloggers some of his decorating tips! We each had a station set up with some of the tools from the Cake Boss line of baking tools. I’ve used a lot of different brands of baking tools over the years, so I can say with some authority that these were really great, and I was thrilled to be able to take them home at the end of the event.
We started out with some cupcakes. The icing we were using was super fluffy and light, and very easy to make pretty. Buddy showed us the “Buddy System” for filling a piping bag – have a buddy hold it for you with both hands while you fill it. :-)
Thank you for this picture, Vera!
Using one hand to hold the piping bag and another to turn our cake decorating turntable, we made easy, pretty designs on our cupcakes.
Then, we added the magic of M&M’s to make our cupcakes festive! Buddy says that M&M’s are great for decorating because you don’t need a lot of skill to make things look pretty. Not confident enough with a piping bag to make a border around a cake? Make a border with M&M’s!
After the cupcakes we moved on to cookies. We spread some very liquidy chocolate icing on, like the kind they use to make Black & White Cookies, and I tried my hand at a clock cookie. While I’ve had some experience piping with royal icing, this was thicker and a little harder to work with – it didn’t really “flow” like I’m used to (my cookie guru Gail thinks that maybe it was buttercream). But not bad for my first try!
Buddy’s tip for writing with icing is to hold and squeeze the piping bag with one hand, and “give it the finger” with the other – hold the tip of your middle finger against the bottom of the piping bag to guide it.
We tried writing happy birthday on a cookie next, which Buddy of course made look easy.
Shh! Vera and I are concentrating! (Thank you to Diane Bondareff for this picture.)
Again, I think I did pretty well! Plus, I prettied mine up with M&M’s.
Buddy’s cookie on the left, mine on the right!
I totally took Buddy’s Happy Birthday cookie home. I asked permission first! The answer was, “As long as you don’t sell it on eBay.” As if. I totally ate it. It was Cake Bossalicious.
Buddy and me! (Thank you to Diane Bondareff for this picture.)
Buddy’s last words to us were that he hoped we’d go home and decorate some desserts with our families. I knew Fiona would want to. In fact, I didn’t even get a chance to ask her: when she got home from school and saw the supplies I’d brought home from the event, she begged to decorate some cookies!
When Omer got home, Fiona was waiting to give him the cookie she had designed especially for him.
And honestly, giving something I made to someone else feels almost as good as eating it myself. It’s a huge part of why I love to bake!
Dec 4, 2013 Randomosity
This morning started out with a dentist appointment for Fiona due to really painful gums, that were of course better by the time the actual appointment rolled around, but it was too late to cancel. Then my husband headed home from work with what sounds like the flu. Hoping the rest of the day goes as planned, because I need a nice, quiet, productive day.
This is just awesome: the true story of why NORAD tracks Santa on Christmas Eve. It involves a wrong number published in a newspaper in 1955.
If you have any issues with flying, you might not want to watch this video. But it’s really cool. You might remember a little while back when two planes collided in midair. One was carrying a bunch of skydivers getting ready to jump. Three of them were knocked unconscious in the collision, but their parachutes opened automatically and they survived. The rest jumped and landed safely. One pilot was able to eject, and the other landed his plane after getting it out of a wicked spin. In other words, everyone survived. Amazing.
But here’s the other amazing part: all of the jumpers were wearing helmet cams. Several of them captured the collision and explosion. It’s pretty amazing.
Alright. More putting together of furniture today. Because you can never have too many shelves. But stop by in a few hours, when I’ll be posting a bunch of pictures from an almost-private decorating lesson I had with the Cake Boss on Monday.
Dec 3, 2013 Randomosity
I think I have a case of the Mondays this morning. Except it’s Tuesday. I just have to be different.
Over the weekend I went to my friends Kris and Sarah’s annual Latkefest. There was, once again, a You Buy It We Fry It contest. Kris won her own contest with a stroke of genius: panko-encrusted, deep-fried deviled eggs. Trust me, they were amazing.
This is an amazing collection of pictures of 80s musicians as they look now. Frankly, most of them are still hot! The ones that didn’t age so gracefully are the ones that are trying too hard to still look like they did in the 80s. The only really OMG pic? Pete Burns of Dead or Alive. A botched cosmetic procedure turned him into Donatella Versace. Sad.
Thanks so my friend Ilena for sharing on Facebook!
This lip-syncing chatroulette guy is at it again, this time with Wrecking Ball. I could watch this 100 times.
This Russian commercial for tampons gets to the point in a way that American commercials rarely do.
Don’t want to get a flu shot? Fine. You’re in good company (my husband walks amongst you most years). But if you’re using any of these excuses, you should know the truth.
My friend Ciaran posted this amazingly simple holiday decorating idea. I’m totally doing this!
This Pizza Hut manager took a stand and refused to open his restaurant on Thanksgiving, and he got fired. While he’s since been offered his job back, I hope someone offers him a better one.
The video in this article is AMAZING. Divers were wearing cameras while searching a shipwreck, and found a man who had survived for three days in an air pocket. Really incredible.
And last, I thought this was a really interesting (if rambling) interview with Joe Jonas, former Disney Channel star, formerly of The Jonas Brothers. It’s a little look into what it’s like to be catapulted to stardom by the Disney star-making machine.
OK, I’m off to put together furniture. Because you can never have too many shelves. My husband would say I should just stop buying things, but buying the things and then buying more shelves works for me.
Nov 27, 2013 What's Going On
I have no hard-and-fast rule about giving money to pan handlers. Most of the time it’s a no, but catch me in the right mood and I might open my wallet. I remember one guy years ago who caught me as I was on my way to work and asked if I would like to donate to the United Negro Pizza Fund. Making me laugh at five in the morning? That’s worth five bucks.
One time I sat down with a guy who had funny signs every day. I talked with him for a few minutes and asked if I could pay him to be in a picture that would appear on my blog. I don’t really consider that one a donation, more like paying a royalty for his image.
And there was this one guy who used to hang out in the McDonald’s Drive-Thru. Every time I saw him I would buy him food. One freezing day, seeing that he had no gloves, I gave him my mittens. I figured he’d look silly in them, but that that was better than frostbite. Of course, when I drove back through the drive-thru a few minutes later because they’d forgotten my fries, his hands were bare again. I guess he knew he’d get more sympathy if he looked more pathetic. A few months later, off of his meds, he tried to attack someone in a car at that same McDonald’s, and I haven’t seen him since.
Sometimes I see someone who is obviously at rock bottom, and I think that maybe the liquor he’ll buy with my money will help him forget his situation for a while, even if it won’t help him out of it.
In general, though, it’s a no. My heart breaks, while my head reminds me that by giving someone on the street a few dollars I’m just promoting a system that obviously isn’t working. That my money would be better spent given to a group that would help shelter and feed homeless people and get them back on their feet.
Last night I was trying to fit in a few too many errands on my way to pick up my daughter from school. It was dark, and rainy, and really cold. I picked up the few remaining things I needed from the grocery store to complete tomorrow’s indulgent Thanksgiving dinner and went outside. As I was struggling with my umbrella I saw a wet man holding a hand-written note, trying to keep it dry as he showed it to another shopper. I hurried on to my next stop, glad that he hadn’t targeted me. I was in a hurry.
I stopped into my favorite little neighborhood gourmet store and chatted with the girl behind the counter as she rang up my $39/lb cheese. We both turned as the door opened and the same man came in, holding his note. He walked up to us and she looked at him suspiciously. No matter how much you try not to judge somebody by looks, it was clear that this guy wasn’t going to be buying anything in this store.
He grunted a few times and pointed at his ear, indicating that he was deaf, and he showed me his note. It covered the whole page, but I just skipped to the end where the note asked if I would give him a dollar.
I smiled a sad smile to try to show him that I was sorry, but shook my head no. He mouthed a thank you, and left.
The clerk and I went back to our business, without talking about what had just happened, and I paid for my little treats and went on to my last stop, a health food store.
I needed just one thing: a bottle of flax seed oil. And as I was paying, guess who walked in?
We made eye contact and he gave me a polite little nod, as if to say “It’s OK, we’ve done this dance before, I’m looking for other partners.” He showed his note to the other customers as I left and started walking fast, feeling like an asshole.
Expensive cheese. Good cream to make my own butter. Delicious bread. Expensive oil that I wasn’t even going to eat, but use to season pans. Ingredients for a humungous meal that could probably feed twenty but would instead stuff five people. A warm house. A healthy family. An easy life.
I turned around and walked back to the last store. He wasn’t there. But then I spotted him coming out of another store. I pulled out my wallet and handed him a ten. The look in his eyes was a mix of surprise and gratitude.
And I walked away still feeling like an asshole. Because that $10 wasn’t going to go far, and I really hadn’t done anything that could be considered a sacrifice by any stretch of the imagination.
I know so many people who do so much more. I could do more. I should do more. But doing something small is better than nothing, I guess. I can be a little nicer to people who aren’t living their lives the way I live mine. I can give them the benefit of the doubt that no, they couldn’t help themselves even if they really tried, that the deck is stacked against them in ways that can’t be overcome, and that if I decide to give them a few bucks, they get to spend it how they want.
‘Tis the season to not be so dismissive.
Nov 27, 2013 Randomosity
Me. Twelve years old (1984). I was spending the summer in Ireland with my grandmother, and apparently an Esprit store had thrown up on me. Not visible in the picture: jelly shoes.
On his way out the door this morning Jake reminded me that I don’t have to get up early for the next three days. I could cry.
My Fresh Direct order just came with all of my Thanksgiving food. But my fridge is already full. I could cry again.
JetBlue is on my nice list. They moved my mom’s flights a day later so that she won’t be traveling during the worst day of this storm, with no fees, even though these flights were significantly more expensive than the ones she’d originally booked. This is why we fly jetBlue as often as possible.
This is amazing. It scans your food and can tell you if it contains lactose or gluten or other ingredients some people have an issue with; it can tell you if your environment has mold in it; it can even count calories. I want one.
Also crowdfunding sites might be my favorite internet innovation ever. They’re making so many wonderful things possible!
Legos: is there nothing they can’t do? And the vets get an honorable mention as well. ;-)
A luxury hotel in South Africa includes a shanty town, so that you can experience living in a slum without the nuisance of poor people. WTF?
What happens when entitled kids grow up and get bad grades in college? They sue, of course.
I should probably feel guilty about sharing this video, but the subject of the video is the one who willingly shared it originally. And the music makes me laugh.
Granted, none of these places is right outside of my doorstep. But they are amazing, and they’re all in NYC.
OK, I’m off to cram a twelve-pound turkey into a lettuce crisper.