Friday, November 22, 2013

The Corrected People Magazine Hot Guy List

Ah, People Magazine - moldering antique from a simpler time when we liked our celebrity gossip gentler and our crossword puzzles really, really unchallenging - and yet once a year it manages to make itself briefly relevant again by picking some divisive dude to be their Sexiest Man of Earth Planet For The Next 365 Days.

This year's pick: Cootie King Adam Levine!
It's nice to see that this one messed-up girl I used to know who ALWAYS dated serial cheaters with 6 kids from 5 different women is now in charge of the People Magazine Hot Man List. She's going places!

Next up: Idris Elba.
He's a fine-looking man! This is a solid choice. No complaints!

Next: Luke Bryan
He's a famous country singer, and precisely what I do not mean when I say that I like guys "artsy and complicated." When you want to think of My Type (and why would you want to do this?) picture the opposite of Luke Bryan.

Also, remember this episode of Friends?


And more: Jimmy Fallon.
I LIKE Jimmy Fallon. I find him reasonably funny and quite affable. These are nice things. I'm almost certain that he's a  nice man, which is a rare thing in funny men, but he also looks like a gentle turtle.

Next: spry, fedora-wearing leprechaun Bruno Mars:

If you like spry fedora-wearing leprechauns,  here you go. His new song promises that "we'll be making love like gorillas." Is this an image anyone wanted?

And more: HGTV guys Jonathan and Drew Scott.
I've never, ever watched their show. Maybe they're much sexier when they're moving and talking. Maybe.

Onward: Justin Timberlake.
Smug! Arrogant! Vainly attempting to have a mediocre acting career instead of BEING A POP SINGER LIKE GOD INTENDED AND YET CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO AT THE 3:44 MARK:

Fun fact: babies magically made by this song when it first came out are now nearly eight years old.

Surging Forwards: the genetically-blessed Chris Pine.
Sure. I mean, he's nothing I find attractive but his inclusion doesn't make me want to punch my monitor, either.

Next up: the phenomenally-talented Pharrell Williams:
He's FORTY! It is UNFAIR how men age and he is ASTONISHINGLY talented as well as having a picture of himself mysteriously aging in his attic.Go check out his Wikipedia page if you aren't sure who he is.  AND he has an interesting, individual face. A quirky, interesting choice.

And more: Ronan Farrow.
As in child of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen or possibly Frank Sinatra and we're all just so EAGER to have the children of famous people turn out hot and not disappointing. He certainly is clever, at least, and he's a handsome young man.

Almost there: Jennifer Aniston's boyfriend Justin Theroux
He's handsome and very talented in his own right. His inclusion on this list made me roll my eyes cruelly, but there's no reason for that.

Finally: David Beckham.
SOME people don't find David Beckham attractive. These people also probably don't like the laughter of babies, kittens and strings on fuzzy mittens. THESE PEOPLE ARE MONSTERS.

Proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

My grade for People Magazine: 5.5 out of 10.

NOW for MY Completely Arbitrary List Of Famous Men I Think Are Pretty Sexy While I'm Sitting Here This Morning:
I've been watching a lot of reruns of Being Human these days, so Aidan Turner!
He also plays a Hot Dwarf in the new Hobbit movies:

New to my list: Sleepy Hollow's Ichabod Crane:

As played by Tom Misson. "Why are we watching this show every week?" Bill grumbled at me. BECAUSE IT'S A VERY GOOD SHOW OR SOME EQUALLY VALID OTHER REASON.

Gael Garcia Bernal

He was on my list last year as well. This is because he is a dreamboat.

Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes

Stanley Tucci

Once Upon A Time's Captain Hook:
This is called "smart casting."

Tom Hiddleston

Shaun Evans

Aragorn in the Lord of  The Rings
A few years back now, which makes this a CLASSIC choice.

Allan Hawco
Canada SHOULD consider changing it's slogan to We Make Good-Looking Men.


Affable! Beautiful! Humble! VERY VERY FUNNY ON TWITTER! And also my future husband, come the Zombie Apocalypse.

Also this:

Who'd I leave out? 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It's Oprah Time Again!

This year's Favorite Things post really snuck up on me - silent and deadly, like a beautiful, festive, very, VERY expensive alligator. I'd kind of thought that given her television network's unsuccess, Oprah would have a quieter, less flashy list this year but I am a FOOL and this list is gung-ho and over-the-top and yet also strangely boring unless you REALLY LIKE TRUFFLES. Where are the hot pink trapper hats of yore? They are gone, gone forever and nothing, apparently, will bring them back. But we do start the list off on a cheerful cake-y note at least:

Present Cake

What is it? This is a luridly-green Grinch Who Stole Christmas-esque chocolate cake. It costs $79.
Do I want it? I DO like cake, even if it is green. But Christmas is already pretty dessert-y and there is a very high chance that I would view The Gift Of Cake as a personal challenge. JUST ME AND A CAKE AND A FORK.
What should you give me instead? Give me a cake. I will eat this cake.

Genevieve Boots
What is it? High shafted* Ugg boots with leather ribbons on them. They cost $300.
Do I want it? They're pretty FOR UGGS but one winter in the salty slushy crap I have to walk in and they'd look AWFUL.
*"High shafted" HEE HEE HEE!

Wave Pointed Canape and New Leaf Dessert Plates
What is it? Weirdly shaped white canape and dessert plates - $30 and and $52 for 4.
Do I want it? No. Plates are not presents.

T-fal ActiFry
What is it? A low-fat deep fryer. $250.
Do I want it? Nope. I normally make MY low-fat "fries" by slicing up whatever vegetable I'm using, drizzling them with a bit of olive oil and tossing them in the oven for some vague amount of time. GOOD ENOUGH and there's not another small appliance to put away. Also, who makes french fries enough at home that this is a going concern? That person eats TOO MANY FRENCH FRIES.

Kindle Paperwhite
What is it: It's an eReader. $119.
Do I want it? I was given an eReader two years or so ago and at first I was pretty pleased but I gradually lost all interest. Turns out I love reading BOOKS. But this one looks nice enough, if you want one, I guess, although I kind of feel like eReaders are from two years ago and everyone already has one.

Bigarade Shower Gel and Body Milk
Instead of hearing ME blather about it, let's listen to Jason Statham!
HEE. This is a SILLY list. This is a silly thing to write about. And the bodywash costs $75 and the body "MILK" costs $95. GOOD GRIEF! NINETY FIVE BUCKS!
Do I want it: No, but I've decided that I like Jason Statham. Helllo, handsome!

Diamond Quilted Barn Jacket
What is it: It is a $128 quilted barn jacket and there may be things in this world more unflattering (in hulk green!) but I can't think of them off the top of my head.
DO I want it: No thank you.

Oprah & Deepak Meditation CDs
Do I want it: WHAT DO YOU THINK?

PerfectTemp Cordless  Electric Kettle
What is it: it is a $100 cordless kettle. I sort of can't imagine giving one for a gift, although they're pleasant things to own.
Do I want it? I already have one much like it. We're good.

Washi Tea Tins and Chai Oolong
What is it: cute tins ($11)  to put nice tea ($13) in. Nothing to snark about here unless you HATE HAPPINESS, you monster.

Do I want it: sounds nice.

Beats Studio Headphones
What is it: $300 headphones that were on the list LAST YEAR. Apparently we live in dark times where there is but one gift-worthy headphone brand. Dark, pricey times.
Do I want it: Not really. I don't want headphones that are theoretically worth more than my head.

V-Neck Long Sleeve Tee and Double Layer Lounge Pants
What is it: Cotton pajamas. The top is $74 and the bottom is $148. That's pricey.
Do I want it: Pajamas are always nice but I like mine made out of something substantial and warmth-radiating, like the pelts of Muppets.

Enrico Products Spiral Salad Bowl and Servers
What is it: Sort of loopy looking orange salad servers and a matching bowl. $20 and $55
Do I want it: I'd say a grouchy "NOOO" except a few birthdays ago, my mom gave me a giant plastic bowl and told me, generously, that it was for when I was eating chips and drinking and I love it and have used my unbreakable giant chip bowl on many an occasion, so maybe I ALSO want a big orange salad bowl too, who KNOWS at this point? Maybe I just haven't told myself yet.

Qooq Touch Tablet
What is it? It's a $399 touch tablet loaded with 1000 recipes and searchable by ingredients and can I just silently point to my second hand copy of Joy of Cooking that I got for $5?
Do I want it? No, not really.

Gold Plated O Shaped Candlestick Holders
What is it: O-shaped candle holders that won't block your view of your dinnermates at swanky dinner parties and hang on a minute while I'm totally bitter about my fancy dinner party-free LIFE here for a bit.
Do I want it: No, I mostly just want to have some posh friends who throw fancy dinner parties and want me to come to them for some weird reason.

Beligian Linen Silkscreened Pet Picture Pillow
What is it: this is the one pet-themed gift this year. There is - a few items down - a pet GIFT, but this is the only suggestion for people who like their dogs waaaay too much and have a lot of expendable income. So this is a hand-drawn illustration of your pet, printed on a linen pillowcase and filled with a goosedown pillow and if you have $395 and think this is JUST the thing you want, here you go.
Do I want it: Nooo. I have cats - or A Cat, thanks to this year's Grim Cat Tragedy - and she's plenty decorative on her own without me me getting a pillow with her face on it (that she would then sleep on).

Amaryllis Gervase Bulb Kit
I keep skipping over writing this one for no reason that I can see. It's a nice looking flowerpot, Dutch Amaryllis bulb and "growing material," packaged very nicely  It's $43 and pretty - look!
Isn't that cute? And although I don't want it, I can easily imagine people who would.

Andre Walker Hair Set
What is it: A high end ($18-22) hair line and I don't think hair products make a great Christmas present but maybe you want to treat YOURSELF, in which case I'm sure it's nice.

Caddylicious Stationary Set
What is it: Merciful heavens, it's a clear plastic box filled with ugly stationary that costs - for mysterious Rich People Reasons - $300. If I was going to spend $300 on a STATIONARY SET, I would want it to be a beautiful hand-illuminated Book of Kells-type deal and not this so optical-illusion-y, but this is probably some sort of litmus test to see who deserves to stay poor.

Italian Leather/Cashmere Lined Gloves
What is it: The title says it all, but it also doesn't say that they're from $150 to $250 and also JUST the thing to slap your enemy in the face with before declaring a duel.

Butter London Nude Nail Polish Set
What is it: An $85 8 piece nail polish set in various skin-toned shades of brown. There's 2 horrible reasons why we don't tend to paint our nails beige or brown:
1. Painting your nails the same shade as your skin isn't very attractive.
2. Really? You can't think of a gross reason that people don't normally have dark brown nails?
Do I want this? I would like almost any OTHER of their nail polish sets, but not this one.

Ashton Kutcher co-designed tees
What: High-end t-shirts ($136 for 4) and while Ashton Kutcher having anything to do with them isn't a selling point in MY mind, some of the shirts are actually pretty cute for shirts that are priced waaaaay out of my price range.

Toulouse Jewelry Box
What is it: a truly hideous $295 jewelry box, like poor RED Fraggle with a terrible disfiguring skin condition.

Imagine her made into a jewelry box.

BUT while I was trying to find the box on the site, I ALSO found the world's cutest jewelry box. IT'S A SQUIRREL AND I NEED IT. 

Eco Friendly Dog Toys
What is it: A bin of dog toys. I'm really looking forward to that dark time in my life when I buy a $68 box of dog toys for my Fur Baby for Christmas because all my Human Babies are grown up and off skiing and having fun and so instead I have a little dog in a sweater, bewildered and a little freaked out by this big expensive box of dog stuff.
Do I want it? - NOT YET. Give me about ten years.

Samsung Galaxy Gear Watch and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Smartphone
Okay. So the watch is $300 and the phone starts at $700 and I don't know, maybe you're quite affluent and your husband wants a watch that tells him when he has a new message on his phone. Here you go.

Cashmere and Himalayan Wool Boyfriend On The Block Sweater
What is it: It's a... cashmere and Himalayan wool colour block sweater? For $225? The thing about living in the remote northern hinterland*, like me, is that whole fashion trends can rise and fall without me ever really being aware of them and so it was with colour blocking. But $225 is a LOT of money for something that's going to look dated in a little while or that MAY ALREADY LOOK DATED as far as I know, so if you're getting someone a cashmere and Himalayan wool sweater, possibly get them a more classic look.

* I don't actually live THAT far north. I'm exaggerating for comedic effect and also because I exaggerate A LOT.

Susan Hanover Earrings
What is this? They are coloured gem and oxidized silver drop earrings and "look much more expensive than they actually are." This is a problematic statement because they are $220 earrings and are thus an outrageous luxury item already for MOST PEOPLE.
Do I want this: I don't even have pierced EARS.

SeeHome Desk Magnifier
What is it? It's a set of reading glasses on a chain on a stand for the older people of your acquaintance who still describe themselves as "free-spirits" and who also lose their reading glasses a lot, from the looks of things. $49.

Burts Bees Baby Hand-Embroidered Organic Cotton Bibs
What are they: They are a basket of three hand-embroidered organic cotton bibs for $79 and you really, really don't need this. (OR are you buying a present for Prince George? This would do nicely.) The shop has lots of lovely little outfits at much more reasonable prices, I feel morally compelled to say.
Do I want it: No, I am out of babies.
What should you give me instead: Something that won't make me sob and sing "Sunrise, Sunset" as I put expensive, hand-embroidered, organic baby bibs on my cat all Christmas morning.

Coltellerie Berti for Match Convivio Nuovo Steak Knives
What is it: It's a way to spend $475 and still be really boring.

Baptism on Cane River Plate
What is it: A decorative plate ($168) with a print of one of Clementine Hunter's paintings on it. I don't like the plate because I feel like the raised edge distracts from the image BUT the store has lots of better versions:

Mophie Juice Pack Helium for iPhone 5
Huh, this is cool - it's a cute, bright cover for your iPhone that also CHARGES it, which is kind of neat. WE ARE LIVING IN THE FUTURE! $80.

Classic Coffee and Tea by Yedi
What is it: 6 sweater-print mugs for $50. I am shrugging indifferently, although I like mugs well enough. I recently broke my favorite mug, which was a free promotional item from a car lube shop. If I really like you, perhaps I'll give you six of those.

Raffia and Leather Bag
What is it: It's a bag made out of what looks like a straw hula skirt, some leather and some clear plastic-y bits. "Guess how much this costs?" I said as I shoved the magazine in poor M's face. She guessed $60 and then had to deal with the knowledge that it was actually $250 and adult life is a mystifying place where anything can cost anything because numbers are random and meaningless and we're all rich, ANYHOW.
Do I want it: Nooooo.

Ben & Lael Tomato Server and Small Gingko Leaf Flat Server
What is it: handmade copper servers that look like tomatoes and gingko leaves. Can you imagine what sort of crazy lottery win it is to be a small business craftsperson and to get your stuff on Oprah's list? THAT WOULD BE CRAZY. They're $225 and $175.

Personalized Enamel Purse Mirror
What is it: the title says it all. $30. It's cute, if you're in the $30 compact mirror market and need a nice stocking stuffer.
Do I want it: yes, but a cheaper version would ALSO be nice.

Rado True Thinline Jubile
What is it: It's... a collection of made-up-words? I tried slapping my computer and yelling "MAKE MORE SENSE!" but that didn't help.
No, wait! It's a white watch! And it costs $2700! I'm going to stare at it until it reveals the hidden mystery of why it costs as much as a used car, hang on.
Do I want it: No, expensive watches bring out my Inner Puritan.

Himalayan Salt Tequila Shot Glasses
What is it: Tequila shot glasses made out of... solid salt! Have you noticed that Oprah writes about tequila A LOT? Is everything okay, Oprah? $45 for six.
Do I want it? Not particularly, although they're nifty enough, I guess.

Optical Red Champagne Glasses
What is it: A bright red dishwasher-safe champagne glass for $20. I own a couple of champagne glasses and get to use them once in a while, which is nice, but mine are CLEAR because I don't normally drink champagne WITH SATAN.

Nest Fragrances Holiday Grand Four-Wick Candle
What is it: A giant Christmas-smelling candle for... whoo hoo! It's $225! HAHAHAHA. Once in a while, I buy one of those giant candles in a jar for $30 with a deep, satisfying sense of sin. I can't imagine spending that much on a candle. People are nuts.

Plum and Gold Headbands
There's no online link - HOW? - and I don't have much to say about headbands anyhow. Either you wear them or you wouldn't think of it, the end.

Maple Leaf At Home 18" Lazy Susan
What is it: a $195 monogrammed wooden Lazy Susan and I LOVE those. WHEE, my food is taking a fun ride! You can get me this one - it's quite nice.

Urban Muumuu
Do I want it: I've gone full circle on this - first there was horror and then there was my continued desire to have a full Luv Life and then there was "BUT THIS LOOKS SO COMFY!" and now I'm Mrs. Roper. SO YES.
Look at this thing! (I mean the muumuu. The model is lovely.)

What should you get me instead? If you're Bill: SOMETHING FOXIER THAN A MUUMUU. If you're anyone else, this will do JUST fine, thanks! (in black.) It's $122.

Green Malachite Boxes
What is it: Velvet lined boxes in a dark-green swirly print. $49 to $69 each. "I collect green malachite boxes," Oprah writes so now that is a thing we know. SO MANY GREEN MALACHITE BOXES ALL FULL OF SECRETS!
Do I want it? No. Oprah can have it.

Pie Corps Roast Turkey and Sweet Potato Pie
ANOTHER thing that comes from some magical store with no internet presence! This is a roast turkey and sweet potato pie and that sounds delicious, doesn't it? I'm so hungry. I think I need a snack. Anyhow, it's $45, which is kind of a lot.

The Cordial Cherry Edible Nativity
What is it: It is a cutesy Nativity set made out of chocolate-dipped cherries. "Sweet Jesus" is both the header and ALSO what I said when I saw it. $45.
Do I want it: Um, no.
What should you give me instead: A 300 page essay on "The Troubling Theological Implications of Edible Cartoony Nativities" with FOOTNOTES.

28 Green Single-Origin Dark Chocolate Ganache Truffles Set
What is it? A $75 fine chocolate set:

Fine chocolates are my weakness. Actually, I have many, many weaknesses, but fine chocolates are - horribly enough, considering that I'm not wealthy, one of them.

Organic Greek Fir Honey
What is it: It's a fancy jar of honey! It's such a fancy jar of honey that I kept looking at it and looking at it trying to make it be a jar of fancy face cream or something. $29
I'm a jar of honey! 

Do I want it: I do love honey. I'm going to encourage you now to support your LOCAL honey-dealers lavishly and support their efforts to keep the bee population going.
What to get me instead: several of those cute bear-shaped bottles of local honey for me, thank you.

Sprinkles Cookie Dough 
What is it: It's a tube of $12 cookie dough that makes six big cookies.
Do I want it: Noooo. I mean, it's fine. Maybe you have someone who is EXACTLY in the $12 tube of cookie dough gift category in your life and here you go, but cookies aren't exactly hard to make from scratch, either.
What to get me instead: Some cookies WOULD be pretty nice.

Nashville Loveless Cafe Season's Eatings Set
What is it: A $90 bucket of biscuit mix, waffle and pancake mixes, some bacon and some jams.
Do I want it: Do you know what's really easy to make from scratch? Biscuits. Know what ELSE is really easy to make? Waffles and pancakes. It's an attractive collection of food and people would probably like it fine BUT we need to stop making it seem like it's hard to do very, very easy things, like MAKING BISCUITS.

Bonnie's Jam Crate
What is it: A crate of six jams for $75. YOU GUYS. Jam - homemade jam - is a lovely thing. And I'm sure this is great jam. But I just can't wrap my brains around spending $75 on six jars of jam and a wooden crate.

Modern House Wines
What is it: der, attractive bottles of wine from Target.
Do I want it: What do YOU think? OF COURSE I DO.

Organic and Tartufo Salame Set
"Even Gayle - who claims not to like sausage..." Oprah writes, probably in complete innocence. Anyhow! Gayle, who normally does NOT like sausage, loved this sausage, and at $60 for 4, I'm certain that this sausage is delicious-enough to convert even the most dedicated non-sausage fan.

So my New Year's resolution this year is to be a nicer person, which I'm bringing up for no reason whatsoever. MOVING BRISKLY ON.

Sarabeth's Soups and Biscuits
This is three cream-of-tomato soups and six buttermilk biscuits for $42. Here is a recipe for cream-of-tomato soup. It is, I promise you, a very, very easy soup to make and costs maybe $3 to make from scratch.

Holiday Collection Tower
What is it: One of those boxes of fancy food that companies and what have you send each other, $54. Are you a corporation who is also, weirdly, a human? Here is a thing you can send your Corporation-Yet-Human friends.

Thomas Keller Black Truffle Risotto Gift Box
What is it: "If you are Rita Wilson, stop reading now." YOUR CHRISTMAS HAS BEEN RUINED, RITA WILSON! You're getting this for Christmas! Just a $500 box of stuff to make black truffle risotto and nothing else and poor Rita Wilson saying a hushed "thank you" on Christmas morning and then forlornly wondering why no one got her that copy of Just Dance 2014 she wanted.
Do I want it: I hate truffles. I hate rice. I hate risotto. I hate presents that suggest strongly that I should be doing something constructive with my time.

Fernando Pensato Pasta and Truffle-Infused Olive Oil set
YET MORE TRUFFLES. This is a $40 truffle pasta and truffle oil set. Just skip to the next item.

3 6-ounce Truffle-infused cheeses
What is it: Three 6-ounce truffle infused cheeses for $70 and here is the best line in the WHOLE GIFT GUIDE, so please brace yourself: "I'm going to slip some into the next Love Sandwich I make for Stedman."
Do I want it: LOVE SANDWICH!

This is me having my Christmas totally made. LOVE SANDWICH!

What should you get me instead? I'm fine, thank you. "Love Sandwich" was enough of a gift for me. I will now be happy until the day I die. Also I am SO proud of me for avoiding the obvious innuendo minefields of "Love Sandwich." GOOD FOR ME! Maturity, if you're curious, feels barren and cold.

Sabatino Pipcorn and Truffle Oil set
What is it: last year's "pipcorn" - agggh - and some truffle oil and truffle salt and I just so don't want any of this. $94 to disappoint me expensively.

5 Bottled Truffle Sauces
What is it: It is a set of five truffley sauces for various things - curry, barbecue. "When did I lose touch with the common people?" Oprah thinks sadly, eating a bowl of Premium Kraft Dinner with Truffle Ketchup. $55!

Adam Glassman's List
In past years, Adam Glassman's lists have been pleasant oasises of calm and loveliness, full of Things I Like but this year's list is pretty lurid and made me make the sort of dismayed face that leads STRAIGHT TO WRINKLES.

Edible Gingerbread House
What is it: A white-frosted gingerbread house kit that you can assemble and colour with food-safe markers that are, sadly, not included. $45
Do I want it: It's fine. But gingerbread house kits are only really THEORETICALLY edible - we tend to assemble on the first Sunday of Advent and by the time Christmas is over it's a dusty House Of Christmas Horror. While it's FINE, it's expensive for what it is. Most grocery stores sell versions that are completely adequate.

Incense Squares
What is it? Squares of incense for $58.
Do I want it: Nooooo
What Should You Get Me Instead:

Initial bracelet

The world is full of things I do not want, cheerfully enough.

Unisex Sneakers
What are they: I can't find them on the page but they are THESE $160 SHOES.

Do I want them: No. These are horrible shoes from some distopian future where we're all forced to dress like Caillou's parents and then made to RUN.

Oy! Mug
What is it:: There's no link on the page, but it's a cute $6 dreidel mug.
Do I want it: It's cute!

Agate Stone Clutches
What is it: Words fail me.
It is for, I guess, those special occasions when I want to say "alligator" but I ALSO want to say "slice of rock." $98.
Do I want it: No, I so rarely go to fancy faux-crocodile/agate-slice occasions.

Beer and BBQ Spatula
What is it: A $25 camo print spatula.
Do I want this: Nope. Horribly enough, many of my male relatives would LOVE this. It's camo print! It has a DEER ON THE METAL PART! You could use it to BBQ, the most MANLY WAY TO COOK!

Camo Towels
What is it: A $69 bath towel in a camo print. SURE. I would love a camo-themed bathroom. That sounds nice.
Do I want this: Not much.

Camp Tote

Old Navy Peacoat
What is it it is a coat I am tired of writing about this dumb list $60 on sale for $35 buy one for all your friends!

Camo Socks
Camo socks! $20 a pair and that's all I know about them! I don't want them. CAMO.

Woman's Watch
What is it: A lovely made in the U.S. watch! Which is, tragically, $575. But it's pretty nice, if you're in the $575 watch bracket. If you are: did I tell you that you're nice and my very good friend? (sits back, waits for watch.)

Scalmandre Plates
What is it: $32 dark red zebra plates AHH MY EYES! Sadly, they have sold out. So many human beings bought these that there are no more. Humanity!
Do I want these: Too bad for me if I did but happily they're hideous and I do not.

Portable iPhone Speaker
What is it: a $60 portable iPhone speaker. It's a handsome object, I GUESS. I don't have any real feelings on it. We're getting SOMEONE this portable speaker, which is both $15 and very, very funny.

Ogon Designs Card Case
What is it: it's a bright red $69 quilted-looking business card case and blaaaah, boring. Who gets these things for Christmas? What are they LIKE?

Jill Martin Shoe and Boot Bags
What is it: 6 ugly shoe bags for $61. Merciful heavens.

Wolfum Wall Hooks
What is it: colourful quilt-patterned elk wall hooks? $38 each and I think, sometimes, that decorators are just KIDDING about this sort of thing.

Do I want them? I kind of do, I guess, but I have wretchedly bad taste, really.

Slate and Coral Pillows
What is it? It's a $120 throw pillow, which is a thing that I just don't get. It's quite pretty and shiny, which I like, at least.

Handmade Journals
$60! For a homemade paper journal! And it's a lovely object but I promise you that all of my journals degenerate into pointless list keeping (mostly recipes I want to make, which says grim and terrible things about me and my all-consuming gluttony) and there's nothing worth being written in a cute $60 book, REALLY. But if you're planning on Eat, Pray, Love-ing*, this would be the perfect book to keep your notes in.
* Don't do this.

Robyn Glaser Home Linen Napkins
Napkins! $32! And in one of those terriying Fashion People prints that I just don't get. Maybe you do. Hello! Do we have anything in common?

Toms + Tabitha Simmons Shoes
What are these? These are $124 shoes, kind of ugly/comfy and NOT a Christmas present because people don't actually buy shoes for presents, do they? Do you get shoes for Christmas? Would you like these particular shoes? I can't imagine.

Beauty Gifts
I'm skipping the "Beauty Gifts" section because it was COMPLETELY made up of me going on about how much I want all the makeup. My restraint in this area is my Christmas gift to you. I will, instead, just make some random notes:
1. Nars - I do realize that the whole point of makeup is to enhance and extend one's sexual appeal but this is subtext and your product names (Voyeur, Orgasm, Sexual Healing) make this into eye-rolling text. Having said that, I would very much like Oprah's eyeliner set, even though it costs $49.
2. If my teenager liked makeup gifts, this little $10 e.l.f. palette would be a fine stocking stuffer.
3. :"For your med-student niece who washes up to a hundred times a day..." do many of you have nieces who are both in medical school and suffering from skin-searing OCD? Costco has some nice 3 packs of hand cream for her, although maybe the poor girl could REALLY use a day to relax. I try to never go into Costco for obvious, I-Don't-Need-A-Box-Of-300-Granola-Bars reasons, though.

And that's it! That's all I can possibly say about this year's Oprah list, and my Christmas Love Sandwich to all (or most) of you. I hope you've enjoyed it.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Backyard

Halloween 2013
"Kids in this neighbourhood actually play outside all the time," she said to her mother, unloading the dishwasher and balancing the phone with her shoulder. "There are so many kids his age, and they all play these complicated pretend games-"

"Like what?" said her mother, who had a healthy distrust of pretending.

"Oh, I don't know. The other day he said they were rounding up cattle. Then they were astronauts. One day they were cave people. You know, cute kid stuff."

There was a brief rustling sound and she looked up to see five children staring at her from the other side of the yard's sliding door.

"Oh my goodness, mom! They're all here and wanting snacks! I didn't even hear them come into the yard! Talk to you later!' and she hung up without regret on her mother and let the silent children into the kitchen for cheese and crackers.

"Everything all right, Austin?" she asked. Her child looked up at her, startled. "I thought I heard you guys singing down the street earlier. Was that you and your friends?"

Austin looked cautiously at his friends. The little girl in pink - the one she had decided was the bossy one - nodded her head slightly at him, an oddly adult gesture in a six year old girl.

"Yes mom," Austin said. "We were singing and playing a game. Everything is fine."

He had a screaming nightmare that night, clutching his mother with terrified hands when she ran into his room.

"Austin, baby," his mom said, smoothing back his damp hair. "What's going on? Why are you so scared?"

He pressed his face into her shoulder and then smiled up at her. "Nothing, mommy! Just a bad dream."

"Have you met the other parents?" her mother said, sharply, on the phone the next afternoon.

"Mom, come ON," she said. "This is a nice neighbourhood. I'm sure they're all fine. But something is definitely bothering him."

"Have you tried WATCHING what's going on?" her mother said. "Something is frightening him."

When she ended the phone call, she had a knot of tight worry in her stomach. "I will not be my mother," she said to herself, but found herself silently leaving the house anyhow and walking down the tree-lined quiet sidewalk of her new street where nothing bad could ever happen, following the sound of children's singing voices.

It was, as she got closer, not quite a song. Not quite English, she thought to herself, as she quietly walked across a stranger's yard to peer over the fence and saw her son and a group of other children dancing, she supposed, until the dancing took a new shape and strange lights flickered in the yard and one by one the children flickered and were gone.

Monday, March 18, 2013


My planned post (tentatively titled "No, I Am Totally Correct About Marriage") has been temporarily shelved because of my household's Current Cat Tragedy.

And if there's one thing I know, it's that this world is full of things MUCH MUCH sadder than my old cat's peaceful, kind death. I know this. But it's my own current little tragedy and it's all my fault, no matter how gently intended, so I'm going to wallow just for this post and then I'll get back to ranting about Bad Ideas In Marriages Today or What The Eff Is Gwyneth Paltrow Feeding Her Poor Kids or My Hair: Why Do I Still Not Know What To Do With It or whatever other pressing matters I feel need attending.

Frank was from my parents' farm, heavier-boned than most of their cats and with a shy sweetness that set him apart from the usual brazen, bad-tempered farm cats who either begged for attention or were aloofly disdainful. He was - and I say this in the usual way of spurned lovers - special and so I loved him and that is my excuse. And I've written about him already with what I find an embarrassing frequency because HE WAS A CAT and I HAVE BECOME SOMEONE WHO WRITES ABOUT THEIR CAT.

"You are such a nice, nice boy, Frank," the gentle-eyed farm vet said to him, petting him. "It will all be okay." And then Frank died. It was a kindness.

We will get his body from the vet next month and bury him when the ground thaws and he will become this fixed spot in the past, receding away from me. And so I guess this is my formal goodbye to him, the last words I will ever write about him. He was just a cat, but he was MY cat and I'm pretty blue about him. The end.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I Don't Get Marriage

Certainly by now you've heard about Ben Affleck's marriage-dooming Oscar acceptance speech, where he thanked Jennifer Garner thusly:

I want to thank you for working on marriage for 10 Christmases. It’s good, it is work, but it’s the best kind of work, and there’s no one I’d rather work with.

And marriage certainly MAY take work, but to refer to it as such is ungentlemanly - not as ungentlemanly as completely diminishing the Canadian role in the rescue of the American diplomats in Argo, certainly, but not great for a marriage's long-term prospects either.

A LOT of people disagree with me. Here is a post stating that people (like me) who found that reference off-putting "don't get marriage." And I am currently being disagreed with by EVERYONE ON TWITTER. But I stand by my position! And to agree with me, here's Mindy Kaling from her rather fantastic "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?":

I also became familiar with an entirely new category of person: the unhappily married person. They are everywhere, and they are ten thousand times more depressing than a divorced person. My friend Tim, whose name I've changed, obviously, has gotten more and more depressing since he married his girlfriend of seven years. Tim is the kind of guy who corners you at a party to tell you, vehemently, that marriage is work. And that you have to work on it constantly. And that going to couples' therapy is not only normal but something that everyone needs to do. Tim has a kind of maniac, cult-y look in his eyes from paying thousands of dollars to a marriage counselor. He is convinced that his daily work on his marriage, and his acknowledgement that it is basically a living hell, is modern. The result is that he has helped to relieve me of any romantic notions I had about marriage.

I am just guessing here, but I'm betting that it's harder being married to me than it is to be married to Jennifer Garner. I mean, I have my good points (I am funny and somewhat cute and can really bake, mainly), but I've also been hospitalized several times for various life-threatening medical problems over the past few years, gone through multiple bouts of soul-searing depression, lost my MIND each time I had a baby, weighed nearly TWICE what I did when we started dating (when I was an anorexic 18 year old, let's be fair here), been a panicky, unemployable agoraphobic (don't I sound like a treat?) AS WELL as the usual sort of marital things that happen when people are married for nearly FIFTEEN YEARS. 15 years! So being married to me is not only probably a full-time job - it's probably also a candidacy for the sainthood. But Bill has never implied anything of the sort.

And here is why: it would cruelly undermine my fragile sense that at least I have my marriage to rely on if Bill laid bare the secret mechanisms of our marriage. I know full well that being married to me MUST be hard work and really, really don't need confirming proof from Bill who lies like the good, good man he is whenever I press him on this topic. (My favorite statement from Bill: "Being married to you is nothing but pleasure." Oh sure it is.)

I am probably more emotionally fragile than Jennifer Garner, beautiful in a beautiful dress, but another secret is that we're all pretty fragile, at heart, and like Mindy Kaling, I don't find calling marriage "work" bracingly modern or what have you - I find it chilling, further proof of a cold, hard world where every good thing takes endless hellish effort to maintain and is probably not even worth it, in the end.

I think, actually, that a good marriage is built on a solid foundation of being a complete and total LIAR, of not only holding up the fiction that one's spouse is as youthfully irresistible as when you first got together but also the fact that at heart, we're all pretty unlovable and flawed and disappointing. We shelter each other from not only what time certainly does but also from the knowledge that each of us is a pretty big let down. And this - this sheltering - IS work, but it is the sort of underwater emotional work that I don't think needs a lot of exposure to air. It is the secret work of marriage and we make it too open at our peril.

There's an old Billy Bragg song that always springs to mind when I think of things like this:

The temptation
To take the precious things we have apart
To see how they work
Must be resisted for they never fit together again

(From "Must I Paint You A Picture)

Maybe I don't get how marriage works, but I do know that if Bill was winning an Oscar (and for what? Probably special effects.), he would thank me and say some pretty, inconsequential words about me, because he does know how marriage works, how the mechanisms of our fragile, precious marriage work.
He would know to shelter me (beautiful in a beautiful dress) from the cold chill of the word "work" next to my name. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pst! Over here!

Today's lunch post is me ranting about how unfair school pizza day is, so you're probably just wild to read that, eh?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Big Lunch News!

A few years ago - and I was SHOCKED to realize that this much time has gone by - right before I got sick, some friends and I started a collaborative blog about school lunches. It was such a fun project and I was really enthusiastic about it but waaah wah waaah, I got sick and the whole thing fell by the wayside.

Lately, though, I realized that it was something I'd like to start up again: I still found myself making 15 annoying lunches a week and the school lunches I saw online had very little in common with them - I don't know about you, but I don't really get my jollies packing elaborate Bento lunches for my kids. So I approached the original authors of the blog and we decided to not only start it up again, but to include more writers in our weekly line-up.

The hilarious Nicole from Girl in a Boy House is going to be writing on Mondays.
Janet - who is funny and astute and thoughtful - will be writing on Tuesdays.
I'll have the Wednesday posts.
And Hannah - the busy, busy mom from Hodgepodge and Strawberries - will be writing the Thursday posts.
Fridays will be saved for guest posts, recipes and links and who knows what else.

I hope that you'll find our posts helpful and fun and that you'll enjoy reading them. See you there!