Monthly Archives: October 2010

Hello, last minute

I’m 48 hours from my Halloween party which means it might be about time to do something about it.  This afternoon’s projects include making candy corn cake pops, luminaries, stringing fishing wire through 30 foam ghosts to hang from the trees, and googling “How to make a Pikachu costume”.

Thanks, Travis.

Tommy and JJ want to go as characters from Super Mario Brothers Smash Brawl and since our house rules state that any occupant over the age of 10 is responsible for making his own costume on a $10 budget, they put in their fabric requests at the very last minute over breakfast this morning (it’s genetic) and I went to JO-ANN’s to pick up red, blue, black, and silver cloth from which they will create capes and protective armor that they will wear for the approximately 26 minutes it takes to trick-or-treat on our street.

I chose pleather because it was on sale so that we could easily use staplers and duct tape to hold it all together and I was feeling all crafty and proud of myself until I stood in the checkout line behind the costume designer of the Carolina Ballet who was buying ridiculously sparkly things for the upcoming Nutcracker performances and I almost offered her the contents of my wallet just to whip something together for my boys but I’m sure that Mr. CPQ would have had a thing or three to say about them wearing tights, and the contents of my wallet were pretty picked over after buying four yards of fake cow hide.

So there you have a picture of my weekend: staplers, duct tape, garage cleaning, baking, cleaning, and costuming.

Something tells me that your weekend looks the same.

Have a nice day.


In which you meet my craziest friend

This is Heather (and me and Squishy Baby when I first met her).

Heather, and I say this in the most loving and positive way possible, is certifiable.

Heather says stuff like, “Hey, let’s drive out in the middle of the country and buy shrimp  in a plastic pond from a farmer we don’t know.”

And, “Hey, let’s rip shrimp heads off.”

Or, she’ll say “Hey, let’s drag our kids to the rodeo in July when it’s 107 degrees outside.”

Or to the beach in March when it’s still cold enough to wear sweatpants.

And then a month or so ago she said, “Hey, why don’t you train for a measly little 5K and I can make you feel completely inferior because I’m training for a marathon.  We can run together and have loads of fun!”

And then she had the nerve to hold me accountable and meet me once a week at the parking lot at Kohl’s and drag me along run with me and she SLAYS ME because she chit-chats so perkily while she glides effortlessly along the path in her cute little running skirt and I gasp for breath in my Umbro shorts from 1987, which is the last time I was truly athletic.

So yesterday while she was sitting across the table from me as I was eating a Chubby’s taco (the irony is not lost) she said, “Hey, why don’t we do a trail run tomorrow” and that sounded like something real athletes do and saying “No” is very hard for me so I agreed and today we went in the 90 degree heat with 99% humidity and ran UPHILL BOTH WAYS out on the trail and I honestly thought that 1) I was going to die and 2) we were going to achieve new levels in our friendship where one party is comfortable hurling in front of the other.

I was ready to quit eighteen times.

And I despaired.

Oh, I despaired.

And then she said “Hey, hold your head up and look around you!”

And I had to momentarily put aside my murderous thoughts to truly enjoy the beauty around me.  Because, people, it was gorgeous.  And peaceful, and save my gasping breath, quiet.

And then my reverie was broken when she confiscated my phone because I was obsessively checking the time to see how much further I had to run and I went to an ugly, ugly place but then she called time and the skies parted and the angels sang, “Hallelujah.”

And then we walked back to the car and I had to crawl through snake-infested kudzu because girlfriend CANNOT park.

And then she smiled and said, “Hey, you wanna’ do this again next week?

Shoot me now.

Have a nice day.




In which I go to the office

I’ve been asked by my boss to work from the main campus for the next few weeks on a special project which gives me the opportunity to waste precious hours standing in the closet every morning bemoaning the lack of appropriate work clothing.

I don’t think holey yoga pants and wrinkled t-shirts scream “professionally competent”.

More like “needs to be COMMITTED”.

Monday was my first day back at the cubicle farm where I spent most of my time looking at this:

and this.

Since I’m there sporadically, I don’t have a formal workspace.  For the next few weeks they’ve stuck me at the end of a passageway where they carved out an office by sticking a desk in front of the door leading outside to the parking garage, but I’m not complaining because it’s very close to the snack room and the mirrored window allows me to see if anyone’s sneaking up behind me while I’m playing working on my computer.

Everyone was really nice and I even had a couple of co-workers invite me to eat lunch with them  which was a lot of fun until I realized it was cash only in the lunch room and I NEVER carry cash but I managed to find a couple of dollars stuffed in the bottom of my purse and bought a delightfully plain turkey sandwich because I didn’t have the extra thirty-nine cents for cheese.


It was a good day otherwise; I didn’t get fired, I remembered how to use my big words, and my manager entrusted me with the top-secret code to the supply closet.

Sadly, there were no appropriate clothes in that closet either, but the unlimited access to new pens and paper products totally made up for it.

Have a nice day.

How not to bake

I meant to post Friday but couldn’t get to the keyboard because I had critically important things to do such as go to Heather’s house to pick up a French press because I still was coffee-potless and starting to come a little unhinged.

I didn’t want to show up empty-handed seeing as I was absconding with HER backup coffee vessel, so I busted open one of my four shortage-hording cans of pumpkin to make a dessert to take with me and in the process discovered a thing or six about what NOT to do when making a pumpkin roll.

1.  It might be important to use parchment paper to release the cake from the pan lest you find yourself with a patchwork mess of chunks of pumpkin cake strewn across your cabinet.

2.  It might be important to SIFT the powdered sugar onto the towel before you dump out your cake in chunks and attempt to roll it up lest you find yourself with rock hard sugar embedding and pockmarking your roll.

3.  It might be important not to violently flip the cake pan on top of the powdered sugared towels thus sending white powder flying in the direction of all your electronics that are charging nearby.

4.  Now that I think about it, it might be important just to skip the powdered sugar altogether.

5.  It might be important to roll the cake tighter than you think you should lest it unroll when you cut it, leaving gobs of un-adhered I know that’s not a word cream cheese.


6.  It might be important to have a decorative plate so you can disguise that all of the above happened.

Have a nice day.

Help Me, Rhonda

I enjoy having people over at the house and had been thinking about how I didn’t do it often enough when an email arrived in my in-box from the homeowner’s association looking for volunteers to plan a Halloween party for our block.

I volunteered our house since we have a fairly large, flat parking pad on which to set up tables, etc., but now I find myself a week and a half away from the big event with no ideas how to decorate the inside of the garage or plans for table decorations.

Because we WILL have table decorations.

For I am Southern.

I thought I’d post a few pics of the space in question to see if y’all had any ideas.  I don’t want to spend a fortune, but I do want to make it fun.  All of the kids will be under 11 years of age, so I’d rather go with a less scary theme, but still want to to do a bubbling cauldron of punch and cobwebs.

Think “Baptist Fall Festival with a Caspar the Friendly Ghost Twist”.

Maybe luminaries up the drive?  Should I hang something from the dogwoods on the way up?

Set up long folding tables on the parking pad?  Or at the edges, leaving space to  mingle?

Or set up tables inside the garage and leave the parking pad for games/play area?

I have rafters inside the garage that I can hang things from.  Should I hang cobwebs?  Giant spiders?  Fake ghosts? My third-grade boyfriend who broke my heart?

Any and all suggestions, links, or thoughts are welcome.

Have a nice day.


1.  Shockingly, I haven’t given up on my running program.  Yesterday I completed Week 3, Day 2 of my Couch to 5K program with a lovely little jaunt about the greenway with Heather who effortlessly chatted while she ran and I didn’t want her to think I was a wimp so I sucked it up and persevered even though I was sure I’d left my lungs somewhere on the sidewalk.

2.  I think my canning phase is over, at least until next summer.

My eating toast phase, however, continues; I have enough peach jam to last through nuclear winter.

3.  We tried Chubby’s Taco’s last night for the first time and I can guarantee that it won’t be the last.



The tacos were as delicious as the ones at my Mexican grocery except without the sketchy salsa bar and the questionable health ratings.  I may or may not have been so enraptured that I walked back to the kitchen to offer my compliments to the line cooks.

Go, Raleigh friends, GO.

And if you want me to go with you, my calendar is open 🙂

4.  I’m on the hunt for a new coffee pot.  Ours died last night which meant that I had to go digging through the cabinet for the espresso machine that we bought when we got back from our honeymoon in Spain and have used approximately five times in fourteen years yet I can’t get rid of it because it reminds me of sipping espresso on the Plaza Mayor in Madrid.

Of course, the directions were nowhere near the machine and I haven’t used it since the last coffee pot broke three years ago so I quite possibly overfilled it  and spent most of the morning being EXTREMELY zippy/overly peppy because I drank the whole carafe by myself forgetting that it was not single serve.

5.  I don’t think I’ve ever written so random a list.

Have a nice day.

In which I sprout another gray hair

I’ve got nothing to offer today because I’m still getting over the mortification of my child deciding that it would be funny to poke a hole in the top of his water bottle, hide it under the waistband of his shorts, and then pretend he was going to the bathroom while they were standing in line waiting to come in from recess yesterday at school.

Please tell me I’m not alone.

And where I can get volume pricing on Ms. Clairol.

Have a nice day.



Monday Musings

Oh, my heart is full this morning after having spent the last four days hanging out with my mom and dad.  On Friday morning we dropped the kids off at school and went to the fair and wandered the exhibit halls.

And because the bulls in the china shop boys weren’t with us, I finally got to go to the pottery exhibit and oohed and ahhed over all the things I could buy if only I had enough cabinet space in my kitchen for storage.

But the main reason we went was to eat so we hit the four “must have” categories of roasted corn, polish sausages with peppers and onions, caramel apples and funnel cake.

We saw the crowds lining up for the Krispy Kreme burger and I had to take a picture of it but I didn’t taste it.

Shockingly, I have my limits.

The rest of the weekend was spent decorating which meant that Mom and I had to go to HomeGoods and T.J. Maxx.  While we were on that side of town, we just happened to see the billboard that announced the grand opening of The Container Store so, of course, we joined 873857985693875 other people who wanted to be part of the excitement.

Sunday was church and three attempts to eat Mexican food before we found a restaurant that was open at 11:30 and then Dad and Mr. CPQ napped watched football while Mom and I set out pumpkins and mums by the mailbox and hung a fall wreath. We capped off our time together with a farewell feast of brisket and Mom’s  potato salad for dinner.

And the skies parted and the angels sang, “Hallelujah.”

They’re headed home this morning by way of the outlet malls in Eastern Tennessee.  A big part of me wishes that I could go with them (I miss them tremendously already) but I have only to look around my house and see the repairs that Dad made, the pretty touches Mom left and the small container of potato salad on the shelf in the fridge and the sadness is eased.

I am so blessed to be their daughter.

Have a nice day.

Three Things Thursday

1.   My mom and dad are coming today for a visit and I’ve been so excited to see them that I’ve been cooking some of my childhood favorite meals this week in anticipation of their arrival.

I went deep into the Vault of Forgotten Foods and pulled out Polynesian Chicken which was a company’s coming stand-by recipe my mother fixed in the 70s.  In my 40 years I’ve never met anyone else whose mother fixed it:  shredded chicken in a cream sauce ladled over rice and topped with crumbled bacon, chopped peanuts, and, wait for it, raisins.

Sounds  disturbing, I know, but there’s something about the combination of creamy and salty and sweet all mixed together that made it DIVINE.

And let’s face it, everything’s better with bacon.

2.  The North Carolina State Fair is open for business and I’m hoping to go twice while  it’s in town.  We’ll take the kids one evening, but I also sneak off by myself during the day while they’re in school because I enjoy wandering the exhibit halls and seeing the blue-ribbon pies and jams (an activity to which my people vociferously object), eating an ear or four of roasted corn and not sharing my funnel cake with anyone.

What does my tribe enjoy?

Listening to their mother scream in terror while they rock the cart at the top of the Ferris Wheel.

3.  Before and after shots of the new hair:

While attempting to take this picture on the deck, I was startled by my neighbor who happened to be working in her back yard.

She was startled by seeing me take pictures of myself.


They can really make your life awkward.

Have a nice day.

Sweet Sixteen

I’m slightly sentimental and before I had the blog to chronicle the daily happenings of life, I kept all my old calendars so that I could refer to them to see what we had done, who we had seen, who got married, had a birthday, etc.  Those old calendars have been helpful to remind me of important dates and note the time that has passed.

There is one date, though, that keeps getting transferred to every new family calendar  year after year because it’s very meaningful and never fails to bring laughter when it rolls around every year; the anniversary of Mr. CPQ’s and my very first date together.

I was very recently removed from a horrific breakup and not really ready to start dating anyone again when I met Mr. CPQ.  He, however, knew a good thing when he saw it and even though he knew I was being pursued by another guy, was determined to get me to go out with him.

He called me on a Sunday afternoon and in his ever-so-casual way suggested that we get together on Monday night to go out for pizza.  And do you know what I said?  In the most indifferent and horrid way possible?  I said, “I’ll go out with you but you need to understand we are not going to call it a ‘date’.  We are going to call it an ‘activity’.”  There was a slight pause while he thought long and hard about what he had just signed up for and then he told me I could call it whatever I wanted.  Shooting myself further in the foot, I then continued down the reckless path and informed him that I would not dress up for him.

My next book?

“How NOT to Get a Boyfriend”

And he said, “Fine.  I’ll wear a sweatshirt.  Is that casual enough for you, your Royal Highness?”

And I said, “Fine.  Pick me up at 7.”



And so I wore minimal make-up and my Notre Dame sweatshirt because I would eat bees for Lou Holtz and didn’t know he hated the Irish and he wore his CU sweatshirt which I still don’t know why he has it because none of us have people there but, whatever, and we went to Old Town Alexandria for pizza at Armand’s which is now tragically closed.

And because I was raised in a family of boys and clearly have no regard for appearances, I helped myself to plenty of pizza while we talked about our family and background and towards the conclusion of the meal he generously offered the last piece of pizza to me, fully expecting me to turn it down since I’d had three pieces already and I took it.

And he sat there in stunned silence.

And then said, “You’re not really a side salad kind of girl, are you?”

And I cackled out loud and then we went to Ben & Jerry’s for ice cream where he had the fudge brownie and I had the vanilla, and sixteen years later, we still have fudge brownie and vanilla ice cream in our freezer living in peaceful harmony.

And I still fight him for the last piece of pizza.

I love you, Babe.

Thanks for going out with me even though I was and continue to be psycho.

Have a nice day.