Monday, November 14, 2005


Your Birthdate: October 27

You are a spiritual soul - a person who tries to find meaning in everything.

You spend a good amount of time meditating, trying to figure out life.

Helping others is also important to you. You enjoy social activities with that goal.

You are very generous and giving. Yet you expect very little in return.

Your strength: Getting along with anyone and everyone

Your weakness: Needing a good amount of downtime to recharge

Your power color: Cobalt blue

Your power symbol: Dove

Your power month: September

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Selling to the Lowest Common Denominator

Am I the only one that’s noticed that television commercials are getting incredibly stupid? I’ll admit that I watch a fair amount of television, usually while I’m knitting. I don’t know if my tolerance is getting low or if I’m suddenly more aware or if the commercials are actually that stupid. I suspect it’s the commercials.

I’ve seen this one a few times: it’s the Tampax Pearl tampon commercial where the couple is in a rowboat in the middle of a lake and all of a sudden! the boat springs a leak. Oh my! What to do? Well, if it was me, I think I’d notice a HOLE in the bottom of the boat that looks like someone shot a bullet through it, but hey, that’s just me. So now, Mister and Miss Adorable Couple are in quite a pickle. There is water coming into the boat. The man scrambles, looks for a solution. Girlfriend sits quietly for a moment, considering the problem and then reaches into her tote bag and pulls out an entire BOX of Tampax Pearl tampons. Ladies, back me up here – on a date, got your period, take a tampon or two or even three . . .but the whole BOX? In a tote bag? On a BOAT? A ROWBOAT??? Where in the hell does she think she’s going to have the opportunity to use an ENTIRE box of tampons? Even the boat only has one hole in its bottom. And the next question is – if that tampon can stop an entire LAKE from coming into the boat, why can that same tampon manage to leak while you’re wearing white pants?

Another commercial that’s been annoying me is the KFC commercial where the whole family is gathered around the table, looking at each other the way that you would look at a stranger who sits next to you on the bus when every other seat is empty. Who are these people? Why are they here? What could they want? Wait, Mom is going to explain. We are here for dinner. The family is confused. “Dinner? What’s that?” they wonder. And Mom produces a bucket of KFC. Yay, Mom. The tagline of the commercial is priceless and shows exactly where America is as a nation: “Time for a real dinner, bring home KFC.” So, let me get this straight – real dinner is now takeout chicken as opposed to takeout burgers or tacos or sub sandwiches. I’ll admit I don’t cook dinner every night. There are times when I can only cook once a week – but I don’t think I’ve ever tried to kid anyone that bringing home KFC was like Mom had been in the kitchen all afternoon creating a meal. This slogan replaced the “KFC is Kitchen Fresh Chicken”. Whose kitchen? Not mine. Not yours either, I’ll bet.

Weight loss commercials are interesting too. Every diet program out there, from Weight Watchers to L.A. Weight Loss (does that stand for Lard Ass?) to Jenny Craig all parade these women across the screen in a clingy little number spouting about how she’s lost 83 pounds or 112 pounds or some other wondrous number and in small print it says:
“Results not typical”
Then show me what IS typical. I don’t want to see your wonder girl in her wonder bra! I want to see the ordinary people with typical weight loss. I got the chance to meet a typical weight loss customer just this morning. She has been going to L.A. Weight Loss for about 7 months. She has lost around 35 pounds. She’s happy and I’m happy for her. I am not happy for Wonder Woman on the commercial.

The new Burger King commercial is just plain creepy. It’s the one for the “New Breakfast Whopper”. It’s a Whopper, all right at 730 calories. It has two of everything – two slices of egg, two sausage patties, two slices of cheese, two slices of bacon, two pieces of bun, and two paramedics to carry you to the emergency room once you’ve consumed one. The sandwich is creepy enough, but when you throw in a Burger King with a plastic head staring in the window at you while holding out his arms and all the birdies in the sky coming to roost on them – that shit is downright horrifying. I don’t want me no part of that. Uh uh. That’s Alfred Hitchcock food. And for breakfast.

Where are the Budweiser frogs when you need them?

Monday, April 04, 2005

Step Down Meals

Y’all, I have a question for you – if there is a step down system to quit smoking, why is there not a step down system for weight loss? Like the patch. Three different dosages errr. . . portion sizes. Do not confuse this with “stepping” or whatever that wacky exercise thing is where you hop up and down off a plastic platform. I mean step down. I’m talking gradual reduction of food intake. And don’t tell me that I can do this on my own at home. I could be making mattress ticking patio furniture covers too, but you don’t see that happening, now do you???

Today, for lunch, I had a Lean Cuisine meal. Glazed chicken to be precise. I like glazed chicken. I like the rice. I like the lil French cut green beans and mushrooms. What I do NOT like is the fact that there is approximately enough to feed an anorexic 4 year old.

People, do they not realize that we are hungry? That if there is not more food, we will devour candy and chips and popcorn to stave off the 2:00 hungries? That fat people NEED more food? Don't they realize that we've been gorging for years???

Here is what I propose – and remember, you heard it here first and if you see it in the supermarket and my name is not on it, someone (or some corporate entity) stole my idea.

There could be a 3 tiered system.

In tier 1 (for people just starting out) ~ a portion of food that would be considered “normal” by overweight standards. Now, I don’t mean a pound of chicken. I suggest adding more food by adding a ton more vegetables and rice. Give us something to EAT, for God’s sake! Something to make us feel full. Something with some bulk and fiber! And yes, I’d be willing to pay more for this. It’s still cheaper than Big Macs and fries and hopefully, better for me. Plus, I would have all that “eating my veggies” karma to float me through the afternoon. And water. Lots and lots of water.

In tier 2 (as we become accustomed to less food) ~ still more food than a standard frozen “diet” meal and still heavy on the vegetables and rice but less than in tier 1.

In tier 3 (because we’re on our way now!) ~ a regular diet frozen meal-sized portion – because we are adjusted to eating less and eating healthy.

I envy the people that get full on so little. I don’t understand it. I’m trying to re-train my body to think that way but my body is protesting. I know that portion size is really skewed in America and that we are not intended to consume 2 and 3 pound meals. I know that every bite after the first one tastes the same so a taste should be enough of some things. Why isn’t it? It’s like a friend of mine once said – I’m sorry that I’m full because I’m not done eating yet. Why don’t I feel that way about exercising?

Think about it.

Friday, March 25, 2005


I admit it. I want to live in Marthaland. To those of you that are unaware of what Marthaland is, let me explain. Marthaland is the land of Martha Stewart. It is the world that lies between the covers of her magazine, “Martha Stewart Living”. It is the place that dreams are made of for working women (and men) with too much to do and not enough time to do it.
A past issue of “Martha Stewart Living” is what prompted me to write my confession. I was flipping through it after coming in from a particularly harrowing Monday doing a job that I don’t really care for any longer. It came to me as I realized that not only would I not be getting a vacation this year; I probably wouldn’t even be able to take the day off on Friday as I had planned four months ago.
As I turned through the glossy pages, I came to an article about using clothes dye to transform mattress ticking into the summer home accessory this season. Apparently, in Marthaland, women have time to not only dream up these wacky projects, but to actually complete them. Never in a million years would it have occurred to me that I could buy mattress ticking (why would I want to? where would you find such a thing in this day and age?) but that I could transform it into wonderful items like braided trivets. If I were very industrious and had a few spare moments after doing my canning and polishing the silver and waxing the banisters, I could sew an entire comforter out of my freshly dyed ticking. In alternating stripe patterns. In a variety of colors. Accented with yarn at the corners of the squares.
The next article that caught my eye was about having a lakeside picnic. I don’t want you to think that I live in a little box somewhere and never get outside although it feels that way sometimes. I’ve been to picnics. Quite a few in fact. But I have never been to a Marthaland picnic, and sister, I want to go. At a Marthaland picnic, you do not sit in the sun at a splintery picnic table in a city park. At a Marthaland picnic, you lunch upon someone’s private dock that has been set with tables and umbrellas and chairs with cushions. There are rowboats for the guests’ amusement. There are lanterns and candles hung about and tiki torches to illuminate the edge of the dock and keep away those pesky mosquitoes that evidently do live in Marthaland. I could be wrong about the mosquitoes. The tiki torches could be for effect and atmosphere because I don’t think that insects are allowed in Marthaland. At a Marthaland picnic, you eat from real dishes with real utensils and drink from real glassware. At a Marthaland picnic, there are buckets of freshly cut flowers and rolled up pads to lounge upon, covered in, you guessed it, dyed ticking. And, at a Marthaland picnic, you do not eat soggy sandwiches, takeout chicken or charred burgers. You will dine upon steaks served with tomato salsa (homemade), crisp salad, and slices of grilled bread topped with chimichurrri, a traditional Argentine steak sauce made with garlic, oil, vinegar, and herbs. And individual fruit crisps. And homemade vanilla ice cream swirled with cinnamon. Where do I sign up? More importantly, why don’t I have friends like these?
I know that the magazine should be used as an idea book. I understand that no one can complete all the projects. I realize that you’re supposed to pick and choose among the riches that are offered each month. But, you see, I don’t want to pick and choose. I want it all. I want to step between the pages and soak up all that Marthy-ness. I want to be able to take a vacation to Paris and then come home and have time to create shadowboxes of my memorabilia. I want to have time to create stunning centerpieces from large shells and flowers I’ve grown in my garden. I want to be motivated to color copy the postcard blank from page 33 and laminate it onto fun photos and send them to friends. And I want to have the time to paint jazzy stripes on an aluminum tray and have the time and reason to use such a thing.
I recently took a hiatus from Marthaland. I had been a subscriber to the magazine from almost the first issue but became disillusioned as I slipped further and further from perfection.
At first, there were projects that I would attempt as time allowed. There was the Christmas I spent practicing gift-wrapping techniques that took a tremendous amount of time and were no more appreciated than the cheapo paper that comes from the dollar store. It was destroyed just as quickly. There were no appreciative oohs and ahhs of admiration.
I also made, with the help of my long-suffering father-in-law, a birdbath from an enamel dishpan, some copper wire, and a large rock. Three holes were drilled around the rim of the pan, the wire was threaded through it and tightened and the whole thing was then hung from a branch in a tree. The large rock was placed in the center of the pan so the smaller birds would have a place to stand while bathing. The effect was charming. It lasted one summer. The birds hated it and would not come near it. A sudden freeze in the fall cracked the enamel in the dishpan. The rim rusted and the whole thing started to look . . . trashy. Unworthy of Marthaland. I dumped it into the garbage.
Then, the much-anticipated Christmas issue arrived. The cover was adorned with the room dreams are made of – the walls stark and white – all the better to highlight the perfect (and I do mean perfect) Christmas tree decorated in red and white handmade paper ornaments. There were miniature trees lining the windowsills. In alternating sizes. With little red bases. Nearby was a very simple chair with clean lines upholstered in white with two perfect little red and white gifts placed upon the seat. This room does not exist in my house.
The true misery began once I started leafing through the pages. Here there is a lovely red and white dessert – Pistachio Dacquoise – with raspberry puree adorning the top. It’s beautiful. I am in awe. I can create this confection but by now I know better than to bother. I’m a pretty good cook and I can bake. I don’t mind the extra time it takes to make things from scratch and they actually do taste better. Let me share the experience with you.
For Thanksgiving Dinner this year, I was assigned dessert. I made a stunning, sugar-free pumpkin cheesecake for my dad who is diabetic. It was delicious and if you didn’t know it was sugar-free, well, you would never have known it was sugar-free. My dad chose that and he loved it. No one else was impressed. No matter. It was for my dad.
My other contribution to the festive day was a beautifully arranged plate of Lamingtons. For those of you who haven’t visited Marthaland, Lamingtons are a larger sort of petit four made of homemade sponge cake layered with a fruit jam (strawberry or raspberry usually, preferable homemade, but if you must use Smuckers, well, all right – and I admit it – I used Smuckers), then dipped in melted chocolate icing (homemade) and rolled in coconut (fortunately not grown at home). They were stunning and delicious. I know because I sampled one. I wasn’t about to take something that I wasn’t sure of. The few that were consumed were eaten in halves. They were only two inches square, for God’s sake. “Oh, I think I’ll just have a half.” Apparently true appreciation of Marthaland cuisine only comes from the initiates. My family is not among that group. I haven’t received my assignment for the Easter festivities yet but you can bet if it’s dessert, the name “Pepperidge Farms” will figure prominently upon my offering.
I’ll leave you with this closing thought. A flat openwork basket with handmade, red felt slippers in sizes to fit all your family and friends. Keep it by the door. You never know when Marthy may come to visit.