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74 Days of Positivity

October 19, 2016
74 Days of Positivity

It’s almost Halloween which means it’s almost winter here in Minnesota so I’ve decided to have 74 days of positivity. If you’re missing the obvious connection, that’s okay. I’ll explain. When the days start to get shorter I start to get this overwhelming urge to hibernate. I don’t necessarily want to sleep, I just don’t want to do anything. I tend to get down. I won’t use the word depressed, because I don’t think that’s what it is. I tend to get negative, especially around the holidays. It seems to set in earlier and earlier each year. By the time How the Grinch Stole Christmas is on TV (usually before Thanksgiving) I’m so sick of all the heart warming bullshit I could just puke.

The holidays tend to suck.

I’m overworked, I’m tired, I’m crabby, etc… Every year I tell myself I’m not going to get all worked up about the holidays, I’m going to delegate some of the work, I’m going to chill the hell out and just enjoy everyone. I tell myself that, right around this time of year, and then as soon as Halloween is over I fall down the rabbit hole and don’t emerge until after Valentine’s Day.

I become more snarky during the holidays, and I’m sick of it.

74 Days of Positivity

I want to enjoy the holidays and all that this beautiful time of year has to offer. I love winter, but I hate the snow. The truth is, I don’t even hate the snow, I hate shoveling the snow.

I can do something about that. I have a child who is able, I can certainly teach her to use the shovel or the snow blower. Sure, I’ll have to endure all kinds of eye rolling, but I’m getting the eye rolling now. May as well make it worth her while. Or mine, as the case may be.

Truth be told, I haven’t fully examined why I hate this time of year so much. It could be that my family is severely fractured. I don’t like it, but I don’t want to fix it either. And, while I think I have let that go, it’s still bothering me so clearly I haven’t. It could be that I’m used to being broke during the holidays. While this has been true in the past, and might be this year too, the reality is I’m doing ok.

I think there are a lot of ghosts of Christmas Pasts that I just assume will make a show even though I have complete control over who shows up and who doesn’t.

It could also be that since I turned 50 I’ve been making a lot of big changes in my life and this is one I need to make.

I’m generally a pretty happy person. Sure, I have my moments and I tend to worry about things that are generally outside of my control, but for the most part I can laugh through much of it. Even if there’s a fair amount of anger underlying my laughter.

I’m tired of being angry. It hasn’t served me very well.

So, for the next 74 days, until the end of the year, I’ll be practicing more positivity.

It could take the form of yoga, going out with the girls (after I meet some girls to hang out with or wrangle the ones I used to hang out with before I isolated myself), it could mean taking time to read instead of doing the same old thing each night of watching TV and hanging out on Facebook.

I’m not really sure how this is going to work, I just know that I’m open to anything that comes along in the next 74 days and plan to look at any and all opportunities as just that – opportunities.

I’m going to actively enjoy life, dammit, instead of just letting it pass me by.

I also expect to piss a few people off while I do this. I’m not sure why, but isn’t that how it always seems? You do something good for yourself and it upsets the applecart?

Blogging Books Dumb Shit I Do WTF?

What a Difference a Coat of Paint Makes!

October 17, 2016
What a difference a coat of paint makes

I painted my office this weekend and OMG — what a difference a coat of paint makes! I didn’t have plans to paint my office this weekend, but I’ve been listening to You Are a Badass this past week and it seemed like the thing to do.

Wondering how a coat of paint makes you a badass?

It doesn’t really, but when you hate your office, because you have slowly started hating what you do each day, you realize you need to make some changes to your day to day life.

My office was originally my bedroom, but when my daughter moved her bedroom upstairs (because she couldn’t move it downstairs – long story short, the contractor got paid and then never did the work, so the room isn’t up to code, so she can’t sleep down there), where my office had been, I moved my office into my bedroom and my bedroom into my daughter’s old bedroom.

Why musical rooms?

This house has like 5 grounded outlets. All the rest of the outlets are the two pronged type. Also, there was no outlet even remotely close to a window in my bedroom so I couldn’t use a window air conditioner. The daughter has a grounded outlet right by the window so it made more sense to make that my bedroom and my poorly outlet-ed bedroom my office.

Whew! Did you catch all that?

Old houses might be charming, but they suck when it comes to using modern day technology in them.

What a Difference a Coat of Paint Makes

When my daughter moved upstairs we painted that room and her old bedroom/my new bedroom, but after all that painting I didn’t want to paint anymore and just put all my office crap in the old bedroom.

I have a lot of crap.

Because I can shut the door, the room attracts even more crap.

Getting back to the book…

So I’m listening to You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero and she’s talking about being more positive and how to bring out the best in you and reaching your full potential all that other good stuff.

If you’ve read this blog for very long (or just look at the name of the blog) you can probably tell I don’t get into all that self help/feel good shit.

In fact, I bought the book a couple of years ago and it never quite made its way onto my cell phone to listen to on my walk.

And then it did and it was like the universe was trying to tell me something.

PAINT YOUR OFFICE

That’s what the book was saying, at that moment, to me.

So I did.

Actually, here’s how it went. I lost a couple of big gigs several months ago. This happens all the time and I can usually replace them pretty quickly. In fact I did, and then I lost that one too. Both times they wanted an in-house writer and I live a couple thousand miles from the office.

I dusted off my resume and started looking for a real job.

And it was cool because this time there is actually a real title for the job I do – social media manager – and I started applying like a mad woman.

I figured I’d have a completely new job in no time. Screw this freelancing stuff, I was going to have an actual job. I started day dreaming about it going into an office, decorating my cube and having real people to talk to during the day besides my dogs.

I even had a few interviews.

And then nothing happened. Oh, I got offered all kinds of jobs, just none of them had anything to do with social media management. I get offered a job at Farmer’s Insurance every other day. I also get offered a job to sell meat on the street.

Seriously —  Meat On The Street.

I hadn’t planned on getting depressed looking to replace one or two gigs, but here I was, the only jobs I could get was selling insurance (which I have already tried) and selling Meat On The Street.

I don’t even buy meat on the street because I am pretty sure that’s how you get e.coli, and I don’t want e.coli, and I certainly don’t want to be responsible for all the people who are willing to buy meat on the street for their e.coli.

So I started listening to self help books to at least make me think I was doing something productive.

Come to think about it, I don’t think it says anywhere in that book to paint your office. I might have just come up with that on my own. But it makes sense if you think about it – I hated my office because it was such a horrible shade of orange and it was so cluttered it was like working in a storage locker or something.

You Are A Badass talks about how you should have faith, be open to anything, and to go with the flow.

If you know me, I am not really a go with the flow kind of person. I like my routine, I like to know what to expect each day. And each day I was getting offered a job selling Meat On The Street.

Saturday morning I decided to go with the flow and paint my damn office. It took me two days, and pretty much all of seasons 1-3 of The Walking Dead, but I finished it last night and I am thrilled with the results.

Not only do I have a much nicer (and more calming) color of paint on my walls, but in the process was forced to get rid of a lot of the clutter.

Of course, most of the clutter is still on my dining room table, but that will give me something to do next weekend.

Which has got to be better then selling Meat On The Street.

 

 

 

Advice Dumb Shit I Do Minnesota Things I Really Like Winter

Storing Geraniums over the Winter

October 13, 2016
Storing Geraniums over the Winter

Did you know you’re supposed to be storing geraniums over the winter? Did you know that these incredibly hardy plants can last for decades if stored properly? That’s right, there is no need to purchase new geraniums each year. Geraniums are actually perennials even though they are grown as annuals in many parts of the country.

I love geraniums because their blooms are bursting with color that seem to last well into the fall. Geraniums have a lovely, delicate fragrance and it’s really challenging to kill them. They can handle being over-watered and under-watered. If you have a cabin up north, you don’t need to worry about hiring the neighbor kid to water them while you’re away for the weekend. They’ll endure under considerable neglect.

Storing Geraniums over the Winter

Overwintering geraniums is pretty easy. There are three ways to store your geraniums: keep them blooming and growing, letting them go dormant and making cuttings from them. I prefer letting my geraniums go dormant because it’s the easiest way.

Potted Geraniums – This method is generally for geraniums that have been planted in the ground during the growing season. Dig up the plant and place in a put with ample room for the rootball. Prune it back a bit and water thoroughly. Keep the plant in a cool and well lit area in your home. You’ll want as much sunlight as possible so a southern facing window works well. There still may not be enough light so the plant may get a little spindly or leggy. You can use a plant light if you prefer.

storing geraniums over the winter

Make them go Dormant – This is my preferred method of wintering my geraniums, mostly because it is the easiest and because I have a cat who eats houseplants. Many sites will tell you to water the plant during its dormancy, and that may work. I don’t bother. I pull the pots in before the first freeze and place them all in a dark area of the basement. I actually put them in an unused shower in the basement so I can shut the door and keep the cat out.

I don’t think about the plants until spring. Let me repeat that. I don’t water them, I don’t hang them upside down and I don’t let them have any light. They are out of sight and out of mind.

When spring comes I bring them outside into the shade at first, and soak them as they are moved into more and more light. After about a week I put them back into direct sunlight and pretty much forget about them until fall when it’s time to overwinter them again. Of course I prune them each season and clip any dead blooms off the plant. I’ve used this method for over 15 years and have beautiful geraniums.

Storing geraniums for the winter

Cuttings – I’ve made cuttings from many plants, but not geraniums. I’m sure it works wonderfully because the plant is so hardy, I just haven’t had a reason to do it yet. Basically cut 3 or 4 inch cuttings and remove any leaves from the bottom of the cutting. Place into a pot filled with vermiculite. Make sure the drainage is good. You can place the cutting into a plastic bag to keep the cutting humid. Rooting should happen in about 6 to 8 weeks. Once they have rooted repot them into potting soil. Keep them in a cool well lit place until it’s warm enough to put them outside.

Pretty simple. Geraniums are one of my all time favorite flowers because they are so easy to care for, and their stunning blooms last and last.

Advice Dumb Shit I Do People politics Things that piss me off WTF?

OMG Stop Unfriending Each Other!!

October 12, 2016
Stop Unfriending Each Other!!

For the love of Pete, stop unfriending each other!! Every five minutes someone is challenging their Facebook friends and followers to unfriend them if they hold a different opinion about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

If you support that lying, misogynistic, groping dumbass – well just unfriend me now“, or “If you think she actually supports women then you can just unfriend me right now, in fact, I’ll do it for you“, or “if you’re planning on voting for this douchebag, I want you to unfriend me” and on and on.

picard

Additionally, people keep posting how so much more qualified Hillary Clinton is compared to Donald Trump, as if that is even a consideration.

Let’s Break it Down

Let me first say — I don’t like either of them and I’m not supporting or defending either’s behavior — but here’s the thing:

It’s not about their qualifications or their experience.

You can argue it should be, and you would still be wrong.

It’s about their agenda and what path they want to lead this country on.

People aren’t supporting Donald Trump because they also want to grope women without permission, they are not supporting Trump because they are racists (though it is certain that some racists support Trump, just as some of them support Hillary Clinton), people support Trump because they don’t like the direction they think Hillary will take this country.

Conversely, Hillary’s supporters are not women haters and they are not necessarily liars (though, again, there are probably many people who support Hillary who lie), it isn’t that they are liars that make them want to support her. They support her because they like the campaign promises she is making and foolishly believe she might be able to keep them.

 

via SIZZLE

They’re Both Deplorable!

This is an interesting campaign because usually the candidate’s qualifications are pretty equal. At least they both, usually, have some experience in public office. Here that is not the case. Here we have a candidate who is probably more qualified than any candidate in history running against someone who has absolutely no political experience.

This is why many people can’t understand why anyone with a brain might vote for someone like Trump (among a whole bunch of other issues). It’s not even that they don’t like Hillary (even though so many people have some really intense negative feelings about her), it’s that they don’t like the policies she plans on putting forward.

It is precisely because they have different agendas (and different parties) that they can both be deplorable and people will still vote for them. Their actions don’t matter. It’s disgusting, but it’s the truth.

Here’s an excellent article about why people will vote for Trump.

Stop Unfriending Each Other!!

Telling someone to unfriend you because you don’t agree with them on one subject is incredibly arrogant. Do you really think you have that much clout that you can wave your Facebook friendship in front of them and believe it will motivate them to change their deeply held beliefs? Are you that self absorbed? Are we still in middle school?

God, it’s like Facebook has turned into Mean Girls. Do this or you are out of the club!

Unfriending someone because they don’t like Hillary or because they plan on voting for Trump is a waste of time, though it will cull your friends to a more homogenous list. And I suppose that’s always more fun – to have friends who think the exact same way that you do.

Dumb Shit I Do Minnesota Nice

I Made My Mother Cry… Again

September 9, 2016
I made my mother cry again

Today I visited my mother in the nursing home. I go every week and usually it’s an okay experience for both of us. Not today. Today I made my mother cry… again. I didn’t mean to do it, but I walked into it nonetheless.

I’ve always been the one who made my mother cry. My father made her cry quite a bit, too, but he didn’t do it on purpose, I did. My brother just frustrated my mother. He made her yell.

I resented my mother when I was a child because I had to take care of her while my dad went to the gay bar each night to “get away”, as he put it. I had to listen to my mother express all the anger she felt towards my father every single night. I wasn’t old enough to drive and didn’t have anyplace to go even if I could actually leave. Because my brother didn’t want to deal with her, and he could drive, he left. There was no one left to fetch her drinks except me.

My mom had a stroke when I was 4 years old. It left her brain damaged with poor reasoning skills, no short term memory and a lot of mobility issues. It subsequently caused all kinds of addiction issues but I didn’t understand any of that at the time. I was just pissed off that I had to sit with her and fetch her drinks while everyone else seemed to be having a good time.

My father died 10 years ago and she’s been in a nursing home pretty much ever since. The nursing home is located 40 minutes away so I only get out there once a week, which is still a helluva lot more often than anyone else goes out to see her.

Which is neither here nor there because she can’t remember if I was there or not. I can’t tell you how often people have suggested to me that I don’t go out as frequently as I do.

Sorry, I can’t. I’m a glutton for punishment.

Today was pretty normal. When I walked in she complained of feeling sick to her stomach. She complains of this only to me. To the staff she feels just fine. The staff (who are wonderfully caring) and I have determined that it is me that brings on the stomach ache.

Mom is captivated by the election which is good because without it to talk about we’d just sit and stare at each other. Usually she will ask how I am doing, I will reply “fine” and then we have nothing left to discuss. Instead we talk about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. And even that conversation only takes a few minutes because she thinks they are both horrible candidates, and so do I. What more is there to say?

She asked if I was still doing the same job. She isn’t really sure what I do even though I tell her just about every time I visit. She’s never used the internet and has no idea what a web page or blog is so that she can’t remember it is no big deal. She then asked what my brother was doing.

“The same thing, mom.”

And then she says this:

“What happened to you two?”

I’m not sure where this is going, I should, but I wasn’t expecting it and she’s often delusional. For the last several visits she’s been convinced my brother is in the CIA (he’s not, though I suppose if he was I might not know it) and that I have been writing all of Donald Trump’s speeches. If she still believes that, it’s a fair question.

“What do you mean?” I say.

“Why are you two such failures?” she asks, “you were given an excellent education, you have no excuse for not being successful.”

Now I have a choice. I can answer her question honestly or I can lie to her. I’m feeling like I was just sucker punched so I choose the honesty route, though I try to temper it as best I can without pointing fingers at anyone.

“Well, when you are a child in a chronic state of depression and no one addresses it, it can be difficult to get your shit together and become a success,” I say. “I can’t speak for (my brother) but I know for me it was just about surviving each day.”

And then she starts crying.

“That’s not fair,” she says, “you can’t blame it on me.”

And then I go and undo a nice chunk of what my therapist has tried to fix over the last year and a half.

“It’s not your fault mom, it was a crappy situation,” I say, thinking I should try to physically comfort her by hugging her, but I just can’t bring myself to do it so I stare at the wall behind her while she collects herself. “No one could have done anything.”

 

Dumb Shit I Do Food Pets

I’m Just Making a Sandwich

September 8, 2016
I'm just making a sandwich

I’m just a girl, I’m just making a sandwich. Isn’t that how it goes? Ugh. Lunchtime around these parts is pretty exciting if you’re of the 4 legged variety. Whatever it is that I am having is 1000% better than what is in their bowl. I know this because when I am late for lunch they will come and remind me that – Hey! It’s time to eat!!!!

For most of the summer I’ve been eating healthy. And by eating healthy I mean I’ve stopped eating carbs, at least the bad carbs and that included bread. Eating healthy, or at least healthier, is easy in the summer. Fruits and veggies are abundant and because it’s hot a chilled salad is always rather refreshing.

Unless you’re a dog or a cat in which case – blech!

But it was cold earlier this week. Colder, and not humid, so it felt downright cold even though it was probably about 70°.  Anyway, because it felt cold I wanted something a little more comforty feeling. I didn’t want to go all out and do something like soup, because that’s messy and I’ll spill on myself, but I did want something that made me feel warm inside. Even if only emotionally.

School started for the daughter several weeks ago but for most everyone else it started this week so I actually did the back to school thing and picked up some bread, even though my daughter gets the hot lunch at school. I like to be prepared. Really, I like the idea of being prepared if I took the time to actually do it. I also like the idea of being the kind of mom that packs the school lunch each day even though she won’t eat it if I do.

I’m Just Making a Sandwich

I picked up square cheese (what we call Kraft Singles) and some Oscar Mayer bologna (I’m totally singing the song… My bologna has a first name, it’s O S C A R….) and even some bread filled with all kinds of nuts and seeds and shit (this is why the daughter will not eat the sandwiches I make for her). It’s high in protein, low in carbs and sorta tastes like spongy cardboard. Because I was at Sam’s Club when I bought it I have two loaves of it.

As I am unpacking I am wondering why I got all this bread.

This is the actual conversation in my head:

Me: Why did I get so much bread?

Me: I don’t know, it was stupid thing to do, no one eats it.

Me: I wonder if Alex needs any bread?

Me: You should probably, at least freeze one of the loaves.

Me: Good plan, that way I can wait until it’s all freezer burnt and even I won’t eat it and I can throw it away when I need to make space in the freezer.

So, because I have so much bread, and no one will eat bread with seeds and nuts and shit all over it I decided to make a sandwich out of it.

Did I mention the daughter doesn’t like bologna either? She loves square cheese, however.

Professional Beggars (except they don’t get paid for it)

So I go about making my sandwich and before I get the mayonnaise out of the fridge I can feel the steely, half shut eyed gaze of Dini on me. Dini vomits everything she eats except for Fancy Feast classic. It sucks because Dini is a bitch and this time in the kitchen was the only time when she was nice. I’d give her a small piece of the meat and she wouldn’t glare at me for a little while. It worked out nicely.

dog and cat begging for food

Within seconds I hear the click, click, click of Stanley and then the rush of air as Ruby bursts through the door and pushes Stanley over. All are now in my tiny little kitchen waiting for me to give them a taste of whatever it is I’m making. Even if it does have seeds and nuts and shit all over it.

dogs and cat begging for food

Better Things To Do

Except Zelda. Zelda doesn’t beg. I don’t know if it’s just because she hasn’t figured out begging or if she doesn’t like what I’m having. Zelda isn’t all that picky, she just likes different things. She’s all over cabbage and potato chips. She loves Ritz Crackers and those little Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers, but for some reason, bologna and cheese doesn’t do it for her so she’s over by the back door staring at my shoes.

White fluffy cat staring at sandals

I make my sandwich, and I even give everyone – including Dini, but not Zelda – a small piece of bologna and hope Dini doesn’t vomit. The previous week had been a particularly bad week of vomiting so I don’t want to rock that boat, but so far this week she’s managed to keep everything but hairballs down.

animals begging for my lunch cute

Like most Americans I eat at my desk, so I carried my plate into the office, carefully stepping over Stanley who lies down in the doorways so I don’t forget about him. They were there before I was.

Except for Zelda, she was in the other room watching her stories.

white fluffy cat watching TV holding remote

The bread wasn’t bad, it was a little chewy and I had to pick a lot of the seeds and nuts and shit out of my teeth, but considering I have two loaves to eat it’s tolerable.

Yes, I gave them all some of the sandwich and Dini didn’t puke any of it up!

 

Dumb Shit I Do Pets Things that piss me off

No One Ever Said there Would Be this Much Cat Vomit!!

August 15, 2016
cat vomit

Lately I’ve been thinking about all the crap I’ve cleaned up in my lifetime, and it’s a lot. And while cat vomit is not technically crap, it falls into the same category of things I’d rather not touch with my bare hands, which puts it at the same level as doo-doo.

No one ever said there would be this much cat vomit.

Dini, our 13 year old cat, was stung by a wasp this past spring. I posted this update on Facebook after it all went down:

Last Sunday Maddie and I were having lunch when Dini the cat started to hock up a furball. Dini was on the porch at the time so I just shut the door and let her get it out of her system while we finished lunch without having to hear and see the whole thing.

Except it wasn’t a furball. When I opened the door a couple of minutes later Dini was lying on the ground, all flattened on her side and breathing rapidly. She was clearly in distress and unresponsive. 

Dini was in anaphylactic shock.

We scooped her up in a towel and got her down to the Animal Emergency Hospital where they immediately gave her some epinephrine. They weren’t sure if she was in shock or had thrown a clot because both presented similarly but the epi wouldn’t make the clot worse (and a clot had a really poor outcome) so they hedged their bets and were right.

Her breathing regulated and she was given some steroids which I was sent home with in pill form. 4 days later and a shredded arm from giving pills to her and today she finally ate some real food (instead of the baby food I was using to giver her crushed up pill in.)

The doc thinks she ate a bug on accident or got stung. It happened so fast and thankfully we were home and she was near us. If she had been in the basement we wouldn’t have known what was going on. She didn’t make any noise. 

Cats don’t present with a swollen face like dogs do, they just go down. If you see your cat suddenly vomit, lose their bowels and start panting rapidly get them to the animal hospital as fast as you can.

It was scary, and I wasn’t sure we’d be bringing the cat home. Dini is pretty much an outdoor cat. She has been going outside at night since we got her, at least during the warm months. In the winter she stays inside and just skulks around the house hating on everything. Dini isn’t a cuddly cat. She hates Zelda and tolerates the dogs. She does not like to be picked up and only wants to be pet in one place, though that place changes as she sees fit. Basically I feed her and stay out of her way.

At least that’s how it was until she got stung. Ever since that time she hasn’t been able to hold down most food. I had been feeding her dry food, but she couldn’t hold that down at all. I switched to wet food, but soon found that any texture to it would make her vomit. I started buying wet food, not really paying attention to the brand. I purchased Fancy Feast because it was in a smaller can than the other cat foods, but I also knew she liked the Friskies shreds so I picked up some of that, too. At first she could only keep it down if I pureed a mixtures of the two in my Nutri Bullet.

Pureeing cat food in the Nutri Bullet isn’t really pleasant. Cleaning it is even worse. So, I started pureeing several cans at a time and storing it in a container in the fridge. The problem was unless I planned it right I’d run out of pureed food in the middle of the night, not something I wanted to do half asleep. I gave some Fancy Feast because I had half a can opened in the fridge, leftover from Zelda who will and can eat any kind of cat food. Turns out Dini could keep it down!  She can only tolerate the Fancy Feast Classic recipes, not the grilled, chunky, roasted or other variations, just the classic. I started buying Fancy Feast in bulk when it came on sale at the pet store and at Sam’s Club.

If she just ate the Fancy Feast, all of our problems would be solved. Well, most of them anyway.

If she were to work with me and just eat the Fancy Feast, I wouldn’t be writing this post. She doesn’t do that. It doesn’t matter that now Zelda has to eat canned food, she doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter to her that now I have to feed the cats like 12 times a day because you can’t leave wet food out for too long and they only eat a tiny portion of their food at a time and then the dogs eat it.

The dogs, specifically Stanley the Bassador, actually eat more cat food than they do dog food.

Sigh.

I’m in a constant state of feeding someone, putting up gates and then enduring the dance that Stanley the Bassador does when he knows there’s food leftover on the floor with his name on it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Because you see, even though Dini can keep down the Fancy Feast (and I am grateful for Purina for making the one food she can keep down), she still tries to eat other things like the dog food and small rodents she kills outside.

This morning I woke up to a bloody mess of vomit in front of the back door. I only noticed it because I smeared it all over the floor when I went to let the dogs out.

I know I’m supposed to be empathetic to this cat. It has to suck that she can’t keep food down, but dammit she needs to work with me on this. I either need to get those pet food bowls that close when the wrong animal is using them or get everyone on a schedule of when they have to eat and take the food away when the time is up. No more put-everyone’s-food-out-and-let-them-sort-it-out, because Dini will crunch up the huge dog food kibbles (and then puke them up on my window ledges, on the couch, dining room chairs, in the laundry room where the light is really bad and have I mentioned if you are barefoot and you step on it you can literally glide across the floor and if planned properly do a triple lutz?). She could care less if I tell her not to, she’s going to do what she wants.

Because she’s a cat, dammit.

I’d be cool with the cat vomit, I actually said to a friend – “I’ve gotten used to the cat vomit, it’s just something I do before my morning coffee” the other day, but Stanley has been leaking a lot lately too and that’s just more than I can stand. Twice this week, I’ve had to take apart the couch and wash it because he got on it and must have sneezed or laughed too hard at something on TV (wait, that’s me). I don’t know why he leaks, he’s 13 or 91 in dog years. Either way, it’s a huge pain in the ass to clean up all of this crap. This afternoon, I noticed some dirt on the kitchen floor, it looked like the dirt that comes out of my sneakers – mud that gets caught in the tread and then dries and falls out onto the floor. There were some chewed up dog kibbles as well so I swept it up. Except it wasn’t dried and it wasn’t mud. Someone’s butt leaked poop. I don’t know who it was, and I don’t care, I’m just sick of cleaning it up.

If someone had told me there would be this much cat vomit I might have never had kids. You see my kids are the cat lovers, not me. I’m a dog person or a cat-who-thinks-she’s-a-dog-person. It’s been 10 years since my youngest kid was in diapers, and it’s also been 10 years since I had to change my mother’s diaper (thank goodness she’s in a wonderful care facility), I thought I was done with all this crap. I don’t think it ever stops. I have come to understand that life is just about cleaning up crap from those you love.

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Bad Moms Contest – What’s Your Bad Mom Moment?

July 14, 2016
Bad Moms Contest - What's Your Bad Mom Moment?

In honor of the upcoming movie Bad Moms, I’m hosting a #BabMomMoment contest! Share your Bad Mom Moment in the comments for a chance to win tickets to an advance screening of Bad Moms on Thursday, July 21st at AMC Southdale.

Sorry, the tickets are for MN Bad Moms only, unless you feel like making a road trip which could turn out to be another Bad Mom Moment in the making.

Dads, feel free to share your Bad Dad Moments too.

As for me, I have too many Bad Mom Moments to count but not enough of the bad mom moments like the ones in the movie. However, my son would tell you that one of my Bad Mom Moments was when my BFF Stella came to town several years ago and we all got to drinking and such and the next thing you know I’m in the basement with Stella play Garage Band. Nothing really bad happened, unless you count embarrassing the heck out of my son and daughter, and Stella’s kids. To this day he loves to share that story with anyone willing to listen.

Of course I tell my son that he had it easy. I grew up in the 70s, with a gay day who was in the closet until he had a few drinks. You’ve haven’t been embarrassed until your dad and his two friends do YMCA in their Speedo’s in front of you, your brother, his friend and of course Stella.

Bad Moms Contest – What’s Your Bad Mom Moment?

Share it in the comments below. The top five stories will win a pair of tickets to see Bad Moms at the AMC in Southdale on July 21st.

About Bad Moms

In this new comedy from the writers of The Hangover, Amy has a seemingly perfect life – a great marriage, over-achieving kids, beautiful home and a career. However she’s over-worked, over-committed and exhausted to the point that she’s about to snap. Fed up, she joins forces with two other over-stressed moms on a quest to liberate themselves from conventional responsibilities – going on a wild, un-mom-like binge of long overdue freedom, fun and self-indulgence – putting them on a collision course with PTA Queen Bee Gwendolyn and her clique of devoted perfect moms.

 

Dumb Shit I Do Food Minnesota

Authentic Minnesota Tater Tot Hot Dish

March 3, 2016
Tater Tot Hot Dish

Authentic Minnesota Tater Tot Hot Dish

A few weeks ago a Buzzfeed quiz was making the rounds. It was clickbait titled: This Food Test Will Determine If You’re Actually From Minnesota. Being a Minnesotan I clicked on it to see if I was actually from Minnesota.

I scored a 12 out of 12, but being Minnesotan I’m not going to toot my horn about it.

Minnesotans eat weird food

There was a lot of discussion amongst my Minnesotan friends on Facebook about this foods in the quiz. The one getting most of the attention was the Taco Salad. Apparently we’re freaks in Minnesota because we put Western dressing and Doritos on our taco salads. I vividly remember the Taco Salad with Western dressing and Doritos. My mother rarely cooked due to her stroke. Her repertoire of recipes she had the dexterity to prepare included putting the cloves in the ham and ripping up iceberg lettuce for a salad. Mostly these were physical therapy exercises she hated so the job of making the nightly salad fell to me.

I don’t know who found the recipe, but I was instructed to put all the ingredients together for said taco salad. I didn’t normally like salad as a youngster, but this one was pretty darn good. However, it was only good with Western dressing – which we always had on hand because my brother liked to smother my container of cottage cheese in it (it’s gross that way, don’t try it), taco salad with plain old French dressing is disgusting.

I’m so off course…

Anyway, the discussion on Facebook was about the taco salad even though the question underneath the taco salad question was about Tater Tot Hot Dish. I knew what Tater Tot Hot Dish was, but had never tried one let alone prepared one. I went out with a boy in high school who once mentioned he was looking forward to dinner because his mom made Tater Tot Hot Dish. I asked what it was and was immediately disgusted. At my house we didn’t eat such things. My dad, in all of his efforts to prevent my mother from becoming completely agoraphobic signed them up for a cooking class at Th’rice, now commonly known as Cooks of Crocus Hill or just Cooks. They were given red three ring binders with all kinds of recipes they attempted.

Cooking Class

I’m not really sure how much my mother tried, she complained about every week, but my dad seemed to enjoy it. He was a pretty good cook before they took the class and even better afterwards. In fact, he cooked so much after the fact much of what he prepared had to go in the freezer. The problem with that was that my father never labeled a damn thing and was pretty careless about dating things. They took the cooking class in the late 70s. When my brother got married in the late 80 there was an impromptu gathering of friends at my parent’s cabin, in a pinch dad pulled out a huge tray of Beef bourguignon that had been prepared back in the days of the cooking class. Most of the guests were polite enough, and I don’t recall anyone actually getting sick, but I do recall the toilet getting stopped up with many napkins full of the stuff.

So Tater Tot Hot Dish was something I’d never experienced.

Always on the lookout for something easy, tasty and that the kids would eat I vowed to give it a try.

And you know what? It’s not that bad with a few tweaks.

Authentic Minnesota Tater Tot Hot Dish

Here’s the original recipe I used from Food.com:

1 lb ground beef

1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup (staple of Minnesota pantries)

1 can vegetables (corn, peas, beans)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

While the oven is preheating, brown the ground beef (seasoning to taste as you cook) and drain off the grease.

Spread the beef in the bottom of a 2 to 2 1/2 quart baking dish.

Drain the liquid off the vegetables and spread them over the meat.

Using a rubber spatula, spread the cans of soup over the top of the vegetables and meat. Use the soup as is, straight from the can. Do NOT mix it with anything.

Arrange a layer of tater tots over the top of that.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Top with your favorite variety of shredded cheese as you serve.

Easy enough, but I really hate canned vegetables. The veggies are too soggy and there is too much salt in them. I prefer frozen veggies so that’s what I used. Using beans or corn seemed odd to me knowing they were going to smothered in Cream of Mushroom soup so I opted for peas.

Hamburger for Tater Tot Hot Dish

 

I browned the ground beef, drained it and added the peas and garlic to it in the casserole dish. If I learned anything from my parents cooking class it’s that garlic makes everything better.

Tater Tot Hot Dish mushroom soup

 

As a Minnesotan I’m used to putting Cream of Mushroom soup in just about everything I make but honestly, it didn’t seem that appealing in this recipe. I was also trying to clean out the fridge and had some leftover sour cream from taco night a month or so ago, so I mixed it in with 2 cans of soup (because one didn’t seem like enough) then spread it on top like the recipe instructed. Pretty gross, right? ** I know it says not to mix the soup with anything up in the recipe, but it’s okay if you do, it won’t ruin it and makes it much better**

Tater Tot Hot Dish

From there it was all about arranging the Tater Tots on the top. Turns out I don’t have OCD at all as half way through all I wanted to do was throw them on and spread them around, but I didn’t, I persevered.

After that I tossed it in the oven and waited 50 minutes. Except at 350° Tater Tots will never get crisp on the outside so after the 50 minutes I cooked it for another 15 at 425°. I sprinkled a little cheese on top, although I was a little hesitant about it, but then figured what the hell, it’s already an unhealthy mess.

Here’s the finished Tater Tot Hot Dish.

 

Tater Tot Hot Dish

As I stated before, I don’t like tooting my horn, but this Tater Tot hot dish was the bomb! Seriously, if you’re in need of comfort food, this is the definition of comfort food. It’s got everything going for it (and the sour cream and garlic really helped make it something worthwhile) from the creamy soup to the crunchy potato, it has it all and then some.

Full discloser, the daughter said it was “meh”, she ate it all, and got herself seconds so I’m assuming the “meh” is just the 13 year old talking. The dogs absolutely loved it, but I realize that doesn’t mean much.

Have you made Tater Tot hot dish before and if you have your own tweaks, what are they?

 

Tater Tot Hot Dish

Dumb Shit I Do Food Things I Really Like Things that piss me off

Giving Up Diet Coke …. Again

January 9, 2016

I’m on day three of giving up Diet Coke, again. I’ve given up Diet Coke at least 4 times for longer than a month and each time I go back to it. Giving up smoking was easier than kicking the Diet Coke addiction.

After three days without Diet Crack I am pretty sure I am dying.

I have joint pain, my eyes feel like they are fuzzy, I’m cold, have no appetite (that’s a good symptom of Diet Coke withdrawal), and I have such a massive headache I considered for a moment that maybe I was having an aneurysm.

Prior to giving up Diet Coke I was experiencing joint pain, cravings for sweets all the time, no energy, muscle weakness and weight gain which I attributed to giving up smoking, perimenopause, and just feeling much older that I am.

I know Diet Coke is bad for me but I go back to each time, and when I do I always marvel at how bad it tastes and yet my body wants it.

Three days off and I want to crawl under a rock or smack someone for breathing too loud. I work at home so don’t have exposure to people unless I venture out and thankfully I don’t have to do that right now because I’m pretty sure I’d do something stupid.

There was the famous Twinkie defense of 1979 used at the trial of Dan White who assassinated Harvey Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Mascone. White’s attorneys argued that he suffered diminished capacity due to depression from switching from a poor diet of sugary sweet foods including Twinkies to a more healthy diet. White was convicted of manslaughter.

That famous trial took place in 1979, three years before Diet Coke hit the market. Coincidence? I think not.

Yeah, that jump to conclusion makes no sense because I can’t think straight through the steady drumbeat of my brain begging me for Diet Coke.

I started drinking diet pop in the mid 70s. I had my first Tab when my brother and I went to my grandparents house during spring break. I was a bit “chunky” as my brother liked to remind me. My grandmother gave my brother Cokes while she gave me Tab. I was hooked then.

I knew the saccharin in Tab was bad for me but didn’t care. I was only able to kick Tab by replacing it with Diet Coke in 1982. I’ve been drinking it ever since.

Diet Coke is poison. I joke calling it Diet Crack, but it really is that addictive. Ok, I don’t know that because I’ve never done crack and don’t know what it’s like to be addicted to it. I haven’t even seen Breaking Bad, but I know people who do these highly addictive drugs have a hard time kicking the habit.

Symptoms of Diet Coke Withdrawal include:

  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood Swings
  • Lack of Concentration
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Panic Attacks
  • Food Cravings
  • Aches and Pains
  • Lightheadedness
  • Short Tempered
  • Basically Feeling Like Shit
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I Saw The Bloggess!!

November 5, 2015
The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson at U of MN bookstore

I saw the Bloggess!!

(an unintentional homage to Jenny Lawson)

I don’t mean to be a name dropper but I’ve seen my share of celebrities over the years. When I was 16 my parents sold our house to Garrison Keillor. I had no idea who he was but my grandfather sure thought he was the shit! I used to babysit Nick Swardson of Grandma’s Boy and Reno 911 and bunch of other movies. I ate lunch in the same restaurant as that woman who sang the song Downtown…. what’s her name*??? And, I stood behind Kevin Garnett or maybe it was Kevin McHale** at the Giant Slide at the MN State Fair once. So, I’ve rubbed shoulders with some pretty well known celebrities, I don’t get star struck very easily. At least I didn’t until I learned Jenny Lawson was coming to town to promote her new book Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things.

From Amazon:

In Furiously Happy, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jenny Lawson explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? 

I learned she was coming a couple of months ago and immediately put it on my calendar. She was going to be at the University of Mn Bookstore in Coffman Union – a place had I spent maybe less time in I might have actually graduated after 7 years. Maybe. Anyway, I know Coffman, I could do this.

And at the time it seemed so simple. How can attending a book signing be a challenge you ask?

Because, like The Bloggess, I also have a fair amount of anxiety. It isn’t crippling but it gets in the way of a lot of things and makes them much harder. It’s gotten much worse over the years as I’ve isolated myself more and more. At the end of the day, 7pm for this event, the last thing I want to do is go out, even if it’s for something I really want to do.

Does that even make sense?

So, by 7pm the idea of getting in the car, driving to campus, finding a place to park and then walking in late to the event (because I will be late, trust me) doesn’t sound like fun to me no matter who is there.

I even tried to justify not going by telling myself that of all people, The Bloggess will understand. She knows what it’s like to take to bed for a couple of days (I don’t, I’m a single mom and my kids still expect me to feed them and drive them to school and yell at them for not changing the toilet paper roll. If I were to take to bed I’d have to call one of their dads and there’s no way either of them would step in. In fact one of them would probably threaten to seek custody if I were to ask.) so she’d be totally ok with it if I didn’t show up.

No, she doesn’t know me (though she did wish me a Happy Birthday on Facebook last year because, you know, we’re FB friends), she had no idea that I was going to be there so why I felt bad for not going to her event I really don’t know. I’d already bought her book (and you should to, you can get it here)  so what more could she want from me?

Sheesh, she’s demanding!

I forced myself to go anyway. As I said before I’ve been isolating myself for a while now and it’s getting old. I know I should go out and spend time with people my own age so I’m really thinking about making an effort. This seemed like a great opportunity a few months ago. Now that it was here not so much. Besides, even though I know I should get out more it doesn’t change the fact that I still don’t really like people that much so I’m not really sure where the payoff is. Anyway, I forced myself out of the house, into the car, on to the freeway, and into the parking garage where I thought I got a really good spot because it was right by the entrance to the parking garage and I could see Coffman Union just across a short walking bridge. The trouble was the parking garage is on sea level, or down by the river, while Coffman is on top of the hill. I had to walk  up about 15 flights of stairs (okay, 4) to get to the main level entrance of Coffman. By the time I got to the top I was so winded I was sure I was going to pass out and even had to fake a phone call outside before I walked in.

When I got to the bookstore (in the basement so I’ve basically come full circle but thank God they had an escalator) the event had already begun and there was no place to sit or stand. I made a beeline for the only spot I could find that was not going to get me called out for being late. I stood between a rather large Norwegian man with red hair and some women who looked as though they majored in Women’s Studies. I immediately dug in my purse to find my phone so I could take pictures but got distracted wondering if I left my keys in the car knowing full well I locked the car because my son gets upset with me for leaving it unlocked.

Now I had to find my keys.

Except when I tried to open my purse I got my sweater caught on the zipper and now I couldn’t move without pulling the thread out even more which happened to be right under my arm and the last thing I wanted to do was lose the arm of my sweater while trying to quietly and politely listen to Jenny Lawson talk about passing out at the gynecologist office. She kept repeating the word vagina which I don’t mind but while I’m at this event I’m composing this blog post and I fear using the word ‘vagina’ is just going to get more strange traffic here because believe it or not 70% of my traffic comes from people searching for the word ‘vagina’ and usually something really strange like ‘with teeth’. So, I’m worried about her excessive use of the word vagina and I still haven’t managed to free myself from my purse.

Of course I’m sweating at this point.

Everyone is laughing, the room us beginning to spin a little and I’m wondering how long do I have to stay here before I can leave without being obvious.

The answer is I can’t so I try to make the best of it and search for my phone again so I can get some pictures. I pull out my phone but realize no one else is taking pictures. I figure I must have missed the announcement about not taking pictures because there is no way a room full of younger women can resist taking pictures of anything.

And then I see one of the Women’s Studies woman pull out here phone and start taking pictures.

I take half a dozen grainy pictures (actually only three, and they all pretty much suck but I didn’t want to get busted for taking pictures when I wasn’t supposed to — though, I’m not sure if that was a rule or if people were just really polite) before I see the sign in front of me that says “This line for people who have already purchased a book” or something similar. In my haste to go unnoticed I got into the priority line for people who purchased the book in advance and bought a ticket to get first in line for a signing. I have purchased a book but not through the U of M bookstore. I got mine at Barnes and Noble and it was currently sitting on my dining room table, probably with a cat on top of it.

I have to get out of here. I already know I’m not going to stand in line for three hours to get the book signed (obviously, because it’s at home with a cat on it). I could buy a book and get it signed but I’m going to be last in line because I’m Minnesotan and even though I have budged into the first part of the line I’ll feel too guilty if I stay here (even though there isn’t any other place for me to go at this point).

I’m freaking out and now my phone is vibrating in my purse. It’s my 12 year old daughter who wants to know where I am and can I pick up some food on the way home? I tell her yes but feel bad that I am leaving even though I wasn’t really here, and am looking for an excuse to leave.

Something as simple as a book reading/signing should not cause so much anxiety that I need to go home (after picking up something to eat for the daughter, of course), but it does. I feel bad about it, again. This is not the first time I’ve left something because I started to sweat or my stomach started doing flip flops and my chest got all tight. It probably won’t be the last time either.

I’m upset with myself for leaving (though on the way out I purchase another book) but am actually pretty proud I even came out because I nearly talked myself out leaving the house.

If you’ve made it this far and would like a chance to win an unsigned copy of Jenny Lawson’s new book, Furiously Happy please leave a comment below.

TL;DR

Apparently I have a fair amount of anxiety, and sometimes it wins. Also, book giveaway, leave a comment.

* Petula Clark

** It was Kevin McHale, though I had to google it to see which one he was.