This photo of Ryan Reynolds' abs is designed to cheer Brandy up.
Okay, you drunks. I know you are thinking, "Yeah, I could use some MORE brandy." This was merely an attempt to lure you into my blog's clutches.
People have been asking you for a lot of things this year: money, food, donations of all sorts. I have a request that doesn't even require you to get up from your chair. It comes from my blogging bud Brandy.
She is a twenty-something from Canada who writes the brilliant blog "It's like I'm...mmmagic!" She's a great writer and an excellent schoolteacher and she and her boyfriend have received a shitty Christmas present. Quite possibly the shittiest present ever.
And while it's not certain, she's taking action. Just in case. And calling for prayers or positive vibes or thoughts or canned goods* or whatever the universe can send her way.
Actually, this is not funny at all. It's serious business. Here goes:
"My name is Brandy. And I have a blog.
And a plea.
I use my blog to showcase the crazy I meet everyday, share the stories of the kids I teach and document my love for tequila, dairy products and the abdominal muscles of Ryan Reynolds. Rarely do I talk about personal issues on my blog- as personal as the dude that I adore (who I actually met through my blog - single ladies, let that be a very good reason to blog, the possibility of meeting someone as wonderful as my man), but I need your help. And it involves my dude.
He's a guy who made math comics for my class, so they would love learning about addition. He's the kinda guy who sends my friends gift cards when they are having hard times, who remembers every story I ever told him, who was the first person I celebrated with when I got a teaching job. He's the guy who sent flowers to me at school- dozens of my favourite pink roses just because he loves me. He's a guy who has spent a year patiently explaining (and re-explaining) everything there is to know about football during the important games when silence is preferred. He's made me word puzzles and comics and stayed up late playing Scrabble with me (even though I beat him almost every time). He's listened to me cry about school and family and jobs. He is everything I never knew I needed and everything I always knew I wanted.
The holidays have hit us hard. He's recently been told he may have something called multiple myeloma - an incurable cancer that gives a person an average of five years of continued life. Though this news has came as a shock, he continues to be exactly who has always been- spending his time worrying about me rather than worrying about himself. He's the most selfless individual I know (he stayed late on Christmas Eve to work, so his co-workers could leave early) and a post like this would never be something that he would encourage but when I'm overwhelmed and feeling helpless, the blogging community has always given me tremendous support and comfort - two things I desperately need at this time.
As I write this, the future is uncertain and we aren't sure what's happening. He'll need to see an oncologist soon, to verify what's going on in his body. My hope is that everyone who reads this think positive thoughts and if you are a person who prays, could you add him to your list? (You can refer to him as 'brandy's hot awesome dude'). If you don't pray, please keep him in your heart. This cancer is only a possibility and I believe that the prayers and positive thoughts of people can make sure it never becomes a reality.
I want to give a big thank you to the blog owners who scrapped their original blog plans and graciously put this up. My goal is to get as many people as possible to see and read this post. If you are reading this and want to help, copy and paste my plea into your blog or send a link through twitter, so more people can keep him in their thoughts. I would be so very grateful (even more grateful than I am to my friend who first showed me the picture of Ryan Reynolds on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. If you haven't seen it, google it. You. Are. Welcome).
I realize this all sounds dramatic, a Lifetime movie in the making- but this is life. Right now. And I'm throwing away any hint of ego and am humbly asking for you to pray or think kind thoughts. If you are able to pass this on, thank you and if you know anything regarding MM- please email me (my email is on my blog). This isn't a call for sympathy or a plea for pity. It's just one girl hoping you can think positive thoughts for the person she adores. If my current heartache provides you with anything, let it be with the reminder that life is short, love is unbending and no one knows what could happen next. Maybe it is silly, but I really do believe that positive thoughts can make a huge difference. Thank you for reading this and if you haven't already? Please tell someone you love them today.
Now, if there's anything I hate worse than cancer, it's cancer in young people. Let's get some 70s good vibes going people, and help to send good things her way and Hot Awesome Dude**'s way.
This year, I'm trying to make it easy on myself, so I'm cooking a roast that you roast for 1 hour then turn off for 3 hours, then turn the oven on again for 45 minutes and you're done. I haven't made it before but 433 reviewers on Food Network can't be wrong, can they?
Now, technically, I won't be making the roasted sprouts because my oven will be full of lounging Rib Roast. So I will pan-roast them with olive oil and butter (cut the bottoms off of sprouts and cut in half) and minced garlic. Close the lid for 10 minutes or so over medium heat, stirring occasionally, then remove the lid until they are done to your liking (5-ish minutes) and you won't believe they are Brussels Sprouts - they are unbelievably good. Even if you make the recipe above, do yourself a favor and cut the sprouts in half. They cook differently and get all carmelly and scrumptious.
Likewise, since my oven will be otherwise occupied, I will be making parmesan-mashed potatoes. But I wouldn't steer you wrong. This gratin is outstanding. It will have you looking at fennel with a newfound love and respect. And use Gruyere, don't replace it with some lesser cheese. Your tastebuds will thank you.
Since I am pretty much the only one who eats dessert (can you even believe that?), I will probably just make something I like. My favorite is pecan pie but this pie from Country Living sounds really good. The recipe only gets one star but it was from one review that seemed to be a joke. I will make homemade crust but I will use some shortening instead of all butter for a flakier crust. Also add a pinch of baking powder - it was my great aunt Tressa's secret for flaky crust. I will also take out the chopped pecans and use only whole pecans. How can I pick them off to eat only the filling otherwise?
If I am feeling generous, I will make Yorkshire pudding. They are very tasty with the roast.
So, what's on the menu for your Christmas or holiday dinner?
I am constantly surrounded by people on the road trying desperately to maneuver their vehicles with one hand because their other hand is busy holding a cell phone. And occasionally the "free" hand is holding a cigarette or something as well as the steering wheel.
If you cannot afford the $20 (or $1.48 on Amazon) for a headset for your cell phone, there is an organization called freeheadset.org which will send you one for free. There is no excuse not to have one.
Maria Shriver is now the poster child for this offense. Her husband signed into California law in 2008 a bill that bans the use of handheld devices while driving (as many states have done) yet she has been photographed multiple times violating the law. That is wildly inexcusable.
So tell me: Do you use a headset or not? Do you text while driving?
This isn't really a laughing matter but this video illustrates the topic using humor (just in case you missed it). I think I drive by that guy twice a week.
Okay. So, a couple of weeks ago I came home from the beach (I know, don't cry too much for my Empty Nest Syndrome :-) to check on things and take care of the things that didn't get done while I was away and while I was changing the air conditioner filter in the basement I noticed what looked like an old banana peel on the floor. Of course, it occurred to me that there would not be an old banana peel on the basement floor and I realized it was a bat.
It seemed dead and I was upset because I like bats. They get a bad rap from widespread misinformation and vampire movies when really they're quite valuable for keeping insects under control as well as performing a vital ecological role by pollinating flowers. I carefully scooped it up in a large goldfish net and covered it with a paper plate and when I began to do this I realized it was alive.
I immediately took it outside and put it on the dew-covered ivy because I thought it was probably dehydrated. I came back out with a small eyedropper and tried to feed it some water and you know how a bat must love getting something shoved in its face when it's on its deathbed so that didn't work very well. It seemed to be a little more lively so I thought I'd just drip the water on the ivy and hope for the best. I came back out a little while later to check on it and it had made its way up three stairs!
By that time the bird rescue facility had opened and I called to see if they knew of anyone who would take a bat. They did. I called Hillary (not just BatWoman, but WildlifeWoman) and scooped up the bat (well, sort of) into a box and took it to her. It was not happy during my attempt to get it into the box and looked something like this:
Within minutes, she had the bat out of the box and into her own box with a little bat blankie and fed it an eyedropper of water (you could tell she had done this before) and then gave it a mealworm. Exhausted from all the activity, the bat took a batnap (oh, come on) and then ate the worm. It was so cute.
Alex the Big Brown Bat and Mandy the Mealworm*, Discovery Channel
There's a disorder affecting northeastern bat colonies called white-nose syndrome which has killed something like a million bats so far. So, first it must be tested for that, then introduced into a situation with other bats and then released back into the wild.
She had a couple dozen baby squirrels, a baby bunny, box turtles, skunks, snakes, rabbits, all manner of wildlife. I don't know how she ever does anything else.
Anyway, I'm grateful to her for taking care of this little guy. Oh, and since I wrote this post, the bat has been released back into the wild to terrorize other people in their basements.
You know, when my daughter left for college, I was going to buy a pool table for her bedroom and I thought there'd be a party every night. My husband and I have been married for only five years so we're practically newlyweds. So, I've actually been excited about this time because I thought we'd get to spend some time together, just us, like you did when you were first married, before children, before four teenagers :-).
But now that I've actually packed my girl off to college and she is settled in and happy (fingers crossed), I'm dealing with a serious case of Empty Nest Syndrome. So if you see me walking my puppy down the street in a stroller with a baby bonnet on, please call the authorities.
Anyway, I'm back but I'll likely be posting much less. I've missed y'all, though. Hope you had a great summer.
And look at that carpet, will you? *insert leopardy swoon here*
Okay, as you know, tonight is the Season 3 premiere of Mad Men. I've watched Seasons One and Two twice this summer in preparation. To tide you over for the next several hours, there's a great article on Mad Men in the September Vanity Fair. Click here to read it.
It's like a peek inside Matthew Weiner's perfectly obsessive little head...
I saw Julie & Julia yesterday and am happy to inform Meryl that she is off my shit-list from the whole Mamma Mia debacle. She was wonderful and really stole the movie (it should have been renamed Julia & Julie).
I was completely charmed by the love story between Paul and Julia Child and fell a little in love with Stanley Tucci, too, as Child's doting husband. Nora Ephron wrote the screenplay and cleaned it up tout de suite (the book and Julie's blog had the f-bomb every other word and offended many delicate readers).
The kitchens Julia Child cooked in were very small and tended to be unfitted because they lived in Europe in the late 40s and early 50s. Which is funny because the larger and fancier the American kitchen has become, the less cooking actually goes on in it. I love a kitchen with tiled walls and a big pine table in the middle of it, separated! (gasp!) from the family room so I can hide the mess I made from actually cooking! I've always been a renegade...
Speaking of kitchens, the new issue of House Beautiful is a must-buy (and not because it's practically THE ONLY SHELTER MAGAZINE LEFT!). Windsor Smith did this Polo Blue kitchen which I am head-over-heels in love with. There are also black rooms galore (so Black is the New Black, after all, or is Blue the New Black? whichever, I solemnly promise not to use that phrase anymore :-).
But I do find myself admiring blue in a way I never did before. So when I saw 500 Days of Summer starring my girl crush, Zooey Deschanel, I fell in love with her little apartment. Simple, blue toile, iron bed, white-tiled kitchen, quirky little touches like origami birds. Sweet. Sweet movie as well, although as it warns: it is not a love story.
The scenery in A Summer Place is just breathtaking (it's supposed to be set in Maine but was shot mostly around Carmel and Monterey, CA) and the beautiful old oceanfront Queen Anne inn really exists (although now it's private property). An equally gorgeous Frank Lloyd Wright beach house appears later in the film (and really exists on Scenic Drive in Carmel).
In addition to the beautiful properties, the storyline is really romantic. It's about a man who revisits (with his frigid bitch of a wife and lovely teenage daughter, played by Sandra Dee) the inn where he had a summer job as a lifeguard and a summer romance with a guest's daughter. He discovered that the guest's daughter married the innkeeper's son and they now run the place. There's lots of mad love and drama and sex - it was really quite racy for its time (1959).
You can probably rent it if your video store still exists (I bought it from the local record store).
AMC and Banana Republic are having an online casting call contest for a single episode walk-on role on Mad Men. How much fun is that? And Porter Hovey of Hovey Girls fame is desperate to win. Vote for her by clicking on her photo above. You can vote once per day - now, that's voting Chicago-style (you know: vote early, vote often).
You can also visit Hollister Hovey's site here to see one of her other photos. She looks like a cast member already, doesn't she?
Good luck, Porter! The new season starts August 16. Can't wait.
HOVEY UPDATE: Don't miss Porter and Hollister in today's New York Times. Click here for the article on those pith-helmet-wearing, taxidermy-lovin' sisters. Thanks to Pigtown*Design for the heads up.
This made me laugh out loud when I saw it at Kitchen & Co. last night (in my mad search for some good vanilla to ease my chocolate chip cookie craving) and then I saw that it has been pulled from Walgreen's because people think it's racist.
Of course I found a picture of it. The internets, they is magical.
Speaking of weird things that grow faux hair when you get them wet, did anyone else have Fuzzy Wuzzy soap when they were a kid? You know, it was shaped like a bear or something and you got it wet and it grew "fur"? And when you washed and washed, you were rewarded with a toy prize inside? God, we were easily entertained...
It took me years to love Campari and now I do (must be all those dead taste buds...).
You may remember my winter drink with Campari, the Negroni, from this post. But for summer it's Campari and soda on ice (equal parts for me) or fill a glass with ice, add about half Campari and fill with Pellegrino Aranciata.
All of these doors are in Old New Castle, Delaware, just a short drive from Wilmington. William Penn first landed in (old) New Castle in 1682 on the banks of the Delaware River. The former county seat and center of Colonial government (before Penn established Philadelphia) still has fewer than 5,000 residents.
There's a home and garden tour every May. And there's a great little pub called Jessop's if you're ever in the neighborhood.