Donde pongo el ojo pongo la bala.

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Absence makes the pet peeves grow fonder

Back story: I have this horrible habit of taking off my shoes right before collapsing into bed at the end of the night. While this might not seem all that bad, it is when you take into consideration that I do it on George’s side of the bed (hey, his is closer to the door!) and then I crawl over to my side… and did I mention that if I just walked an additional 10 steps I could put the shoes away in the closet myself? Every so often, when George has to get up to pee in the middle of the night, I’ll hear a PG-rated expletive as he stumbles into/over a pair.

“Cleaning our room” usually consists of George picking shoes up from his side of the bed and under his side of the bed, none of which ever belong to him, and organizing them on the shoe rack… and then looking at me from over the top of his glasses, like a granny, and shaking his head a little, using only his eyes to ask, “Is this REALLY THAT DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO REMEMBER?”

Apparently, it is.

Anyway, short story long, he had to leave for Florida today a bit ahead of schedule to be at KSC for Endeavour’s final launch. We’re huge babies and kind of hate being apart, so I’ve been all sigh-y and pouty this evening. Before finally heading off to bed after studying tomorrow’s material a bit, I decided to check my email. I had a message from George’s cell phone sent before he fell asleep…

“I put two shoes on the floor next to my side of the bed just so I could trip over them in the middle of the night and think of you.”

That is what true love is all about, y’all.

May 16, 2011   5 Comments

The Picasso of Dance

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

Happy Birthday, Martha Graham.

May 11, 2011   4 Comments

We are family… I’ve got some of my sisters and hub-by!

Over the course of the next two weeks, I get to see a lot of this:

and this:

I’m kiiiiiiind of a happy camper.

There will also be plenty of this:

Mommy food!

And this, but hopefully less disdainful:

At least until he abandons me a few days before I go back (boo!).

I think that when I am not actually IN Cancun, I forget how much I miss it and how much it hurts to be away. Kind of like when you start getting used to a splinter under your skin, the pain is just there but dulled by familiarity and you don’t realize how uncomfortable it was until you pull it out and feel that total relief.

*Sigh* And here I thought I’d never consider Cancun “home”.

May 7, 2011   5 Comments

Me-owwww! (And I don’t mean the kitties.)

A couple of nights ago, some neighborhood hoodlum cats* attacked a couple of baby birds; baby birds so tiny that they hadn’t even learned to fly yet. I’m sorry, did I say “birds”? I meant “grackles”. Please, excuse me for living (more on that in a second). I felt so sick to my stomach when I found the first panicked bird with all of its feathers missing on its head and little kitty bites on its wing, that I had George help me make a little bed for it in a shoe box with some bird seed I had and a tiny jar lid for a water dish. We found the second one, made it a similar home, and decided to see how they fared (with rather low expectations, to be honest) overnight.

The next morning, little gracklies were chirping up a storm and trying to get the heeeeeeck out of those boxes. I made some phone calls, (correctly) assuming that our vet wouldn’t take them in and help them. I was finally told about the Florida Wildlife Refuge in Melbourne, looked up their address (since they don’t answer their phone) and decided to drive out there. May I just mention that it’s like a 40 minute drive one way? And that my car is in terrible shape? And that gas is kind of expensive right now? However, I love animals, figured this was their best shot at survival, and may or may not have felt a little responsible**.

After making it all the way out to the refuge, waiting for 20 minutes for someone to stop ignoring me once I filled out their drop off form, a lady finally saunters out. I had never really understood the word “saunter” until I saw her do it. It was like she was a self-assured sheriff in an old western town. I was kind of waiting for her to chew and aim for an imaginary spittoon.

“Ya filled out the form?”

I nod.

“Did your cats attack ’em?”

I shrug. “There’s lots of neighborhood cats.” Don’t interrogate me, lady, I brought ’em, didn’t I?!

“Yanno it’s ilegal for cats to roam, right? EE-LEEEEGAL!”

I nod again. I’m not going to argue with you, lady!

“Why’d you write ‘birds’?” She sighs, like I’m the most ignorant person she’s ever met. “Ugh. They’re grackles!” Well, OK, then. Grackles. Got it.

“You FED THEM?! WHAT DID YOU FEED THEM?” Panic in her voice.

“Um… bird seed?”

“Bird seed? What kind of bird seed? I thought you said it happened at night. Where’d you get bird seed?”

“I had it…”

“What on earth’d you have bird seed for?!” Demanding, suspicious.

Obviously, I had bird seed to lure poor unsuspecting birds to my yard so I could sic my cats on them and watch in entertainment and delight as they pounced on them and left them for dead, after which I would rescue them and bring them here, because that is the ONLY logical explanation! “Um… I like to grab pine cones, cover them in peanut butter and dip them in bird seeds for the birds?”

“Hm. Well. Cats roaming is ILLEGAL. You tell your neighbors. We’ll send someone out there to patrol. These here birds’ll be just fine.”

“OK… have a nice day.” You CRAZY person.

Why do the weirdest people live in Florida?!

* Identities concealed to protect the Princess innocent.
** For nothing, of course, since it was clearly not my kitty who attacked them… /shifty eyes

May 4, 2011   4 Comments

Pizza! Pizza!

One of the cuisines I miss most being GFCF (gluten-free, casein-free) is Italian. Pretty much everything has wheat or cheese (which, sidenote!, is rather ironic, seeing as how one in every 106 Italians suffer from celiac disease) and food substitutes are never as good as the real thing — actually, more often than not, they’re disgusting. Watching others eat pizza is particularly painful since gluten-free pizza dough is usually cake-y, thick, tough, and tasteless.

Until now! A few months ago, I bought Silvana Nardone’s Cooking for Isaiah. Ms. Nardone is the Editor in Chief of Every Day with Rachael Ray, and while I don’t really like RR, the idea of a cookbook created by a mother raising a GFCF child and having to find food he can actually enjoy appealed to me more than, say, someone like Gwenyth Paltrow publishing a cookbook to tell the world what an amazing cook she is (let me tell you how I reallllly feel).

I had been avoiding using recipes from her cookbook despite having read through most of them out of fear that they would be disgusting and I would be disappointed. Tonight for dinner, I decided to make her Pepperoni Pizza. IT WAS AMAZING. The crust had the perfect consistency: fluffy, soft on the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside and full of taste. I attribute it to how Ms. Nardone found the perfect combination of gluten-free flours — instead of using just gluten-free bread mix, or gluten-free rice flower, she mixed multiple flours. But I’ll spare you the endless gushing and I’ll just share the recipes. For full size pictures, click on the images!

Silvana’s all-purpose flour blend
MAKES about 4 pounds • PREP TIME 15 minutes

  • 6 cups white rice flour, preferably Bob’s Red Mill
  • 3 cups tapioca flour, preferably Shiloh Farms (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1½ cups potato starch, preferably Bob’s Red Mill
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons xanthum gum, preferably Bob’s Red Mill

    In a large bowl, whisk together the rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, salt and xanthum gum. Transfer to an airtight storage container and store in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator.

    Perfect Pizza Crusts
    MAKES Two 8½ inch (21cm) pizza crusts (1 pound/500g pizza dough) • PREP TIME 10 minutes (plus resting) • BAKE TIME 16 minutes

  • 2 cups Silvana’s All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 (¼ ounce/7.5g) package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • ¾ cup warm water

    1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Add the egg whites, olive oil and water. Using a wooden spoon, beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

    2. Divide the dough into two equal pieces; place each on a lightly floured, 12-inch (30cm)-long piece of parchment paper.

    Lightly flour the top and, using your fingertips or a rolling pin, press the dough out to make a round about ¼ inch (9.5cm) thick. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

    3. Position a rack in the bottom of the oven with a baking stone on the rack and preheat to 450ºF. Working with one piece of dough at a time, slide the dough with parchment paper onto the preheated baking stone and bake until puffy and crisp on the bottom, about 8 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining dough.

    Pepperoni Pizza
    MAKES 2 (8½ inch/21cm) pizzas • PREP TIME 5 minutes • COOK TIME 16 minutes

  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 (8½ inch/21cm) baked Perfect Pizza Crusts
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • slices of pepperoni (I used turkey pepperoni)

    1. In a small bowl, stir together the tomato puree, olive oil, salt and water (my experience was that you don’t really need the water).

    2. Position a rack in the bottom of the oven with a baking stone on the rack and preheat to 450ºF. Working with one pizza crust at a time, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and spoon on about ¼ cup tomato mixture, leaving a ½ inch (1cm) border of plain crust. Top with half of the pepperoni and bake until the crust is golden and the pepperoni is crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat with the remaining pizza crust and toppings. (I added vegetarian cheese over the sauce and green peppers under the pepperoni — delicious!)

    Although these pies are kind of small, I think you could definitely feed four people with them… unless you have HUGE appetites! This fed three of us, and the boys had extra slices!

  • April 26, 2011   9 Comments

    Men: I apologize in advance…

    Today a friend told me something that while amazingly flattering, was a bold-face lie: “I love your makeup… especially because it looks like you’re not even wearing any! What products do you use?” (The lie was the “looks like” part, because no one has naturally shimmery sage eyelids, unless they can make their eyelids do that… like Mystique.)

    Answering that question would take about 500 hours, because I own pretty much every single type of makeup and beauty product under the sun. However, I do have my favorites, and since I feel a little girlie today, I’ll share them (click image for full size)…

    • 1. Garnier Skin Renew Anti-Dark-Circle Roller: Years of poor sleep and months of not being tan give me semi-permanent dark circles under my eyes. Garnier’s roller is awesome because not only does the light color conceal the dark circles, the caffeine and lemon perk up your eyes and make them a little less puffy — especially awesome early in the morning!
    • 2. Clinique Perfectly Real Compact Makeup: I abhor wearing liquid foundation. I abhor having my face feel all pore-cloggedy. This pressed powder is excellent — gives you that foundation finish without leaving your skin feeling heavy or shiny.
    • 3. (a) Clinique True Bronze Pressed Powder Bronzer: I know I don’t use bronzers the way they’re intended and I don’t care. I use the true bronzer as a blush (smile big and apply to the puffy part of your cheeks for a sunkissed look instead of the classic rosy-under-cheekbones-fakeness) and as a base for my eyeshadow with the… (b) EcoTools Bamboo Powder Brush: EcoTools products are made from all natural and recycled materials. Their prices are also pretty friendly, so it’s a win for you and the planet!
    • 4. Clinique Brush On Cream Liner: It’s a little tricky to get the hang of the cream liner (unless you’re a makeup savant, you’ll end up lining your eyes waaay too thick the first few times, but practice makes perfect) but once you figure it out, it’s genius. I’ve gone swimming, spent all night out, and even cried with it on with nary a smudge or smear.
    • 5. Clinique Colour Surge Eye Shadow Super Shimmer: I am obsessed with the Sparkling Sage and I will wear it even if it does not go with my outfit at all. I do not care. You can’t stop a love like ours.
    • 6. Clinique High Impact Mascara: Doesn’t clump, doesn’t smudge after a long day.
    • 7. DiorKiss: Indulgence, thy name is Dior. I usually steer clear of the Dior counter at the mall (their prices are a little ridiculous for goo you rub on your face) but DiorKiss in Pineapple is my ruin.

    Those are the 7 items I would keep if I had to throw everything else away. But don’t get me started on skin care… that’s a horse of another color (I will not give up a single one of my products — EVER).

    How masculine are you feelin’ right about now, guys?

    April 21, 2011   8 Comments

    Who needs to get pretty for men? a.k.a. Wow, women are forward.

    I spent the entire day running errands in 90ºF. As one would imagine, by the time I got to my last stop, the grocery store, I was red-faced, my ponytail was coming loose, I was all sweaty, and my tongue was wagging. To give you a complete picture, I was wearing no makeup, George’s oversized Zero G polo shirt, pijama jeans (haters gonna hate, but they’re ridiculously comfortable), and Crocs. In my defense, they’re ballerina Crocs, so they look like shoes.

    So I’m cruising the produce section, a vision in sweat stains, singing to the grocery store 90s pop, and I bump grocery carts with a peppy girl about my age, singing to the music, too. We laugh, do the “you first no you first” thing, and that’s that. Except that’s not that. I keep seeing her pop up next to me everywhere in the store. I start wondering if I’m just paranoid and having persecution delirium, when I feel a hand on my arm.

    “Sorry, I didn’t mean to weird you out, you just look so full of life that it caught my attention.”

    What. Do you. Reply. To that?

    “Um… thanks!”

    She proceeds to ask me a couple questions about items in my cart (?!) and comments on how healthy I eat from what she can see (?!) and asks if I’m a good cook (?!).

    “I don’t know. My husband seems to think so!”

    She cocks her head to the side, half smiles, and says, “Lucky man. You know… you really should wear a ring. Have a nice day!” And then she walks off.

    I just stood there trying to process what had just happened and trying to not to start laughing. Biggest WTF moment of the year so far.

    You heard ‘er, George. Go buy me something sparkly!

    April 20, 2011   8 Comments

    A lesson [to myself] in detachment.

    Today I apologized to someone for something (or a lot of somethings) I didn’t even know I was sorry about. No, correction: I think, deep down, I knew I was sorry, I just didn’t feel like I had anything to apologize for, especially if (and isn’t this always the kicker?) I knew what that person had done to me and I knew they sure as hell weren’t ever going to apologize for it!

    What an interesting aspect of human psychology — or perhaps just my psychology? We’re willing to admit to ourselves when we’re in the wrong, but not aloud unless we know other party will feel remorseful, as well.

    And so, today’s lesson to myself was simply the reminder that I am not responsible for anyone’s actions but my own. I am only responsible for how I behave in any given situation, and how having behaved differently could have produced a more positive outcome, if not from the entire debacle, definitely in my life-education. Plus, any slight you may perceive is just your side of the coin, and as the saying goes, “It takes two to tango,” which means you probably’ve done as much harm as was done to you. Now flip it and think… if you could offer someone one little bit of healing or closure, why in the world not give it?

    I think I need constant reminders that anything I perceive as being done to me is simply being done by someone, and their behavior might have repercussions on my life, but ultimately doesn’t have to affect my soul (yeah, I busted out the s-word). How someone feels at the end of the day or at the end of their life for the compendium of their actions really has nothing at all to do with me, now does it?

    But in the interest of full disclosure, perhaps it’s a bit selfish to apologize, in a sense, as well: the ghosts of the past are much easier to let go of when your mind’s at peace — and the more of my past crimes I evaluate, analyze, come to terms with, feel remorseful for, and eventually apologize for, the easier each subsequent apology/healing gets. Kind of like a muscle, I guess. And so, here I flex again:

    I’m sorry.

    April 14, 2011   7 Comments

    Day 98 of being GFCF

    I’ve stopped calling it “gluten-free and dairy-free”, mostly because I’m a little tired of people telling me to just have Lactaid products. For me, it’s not lactose, it’s specifically casein, so it doesn’t really help, but good luck trying to explain that to… pretty much anyone without a food allergy. And so, GFCF (gluten-free, casein-free) it is!

    I’ve also given up on not exaggerating it at restaurants and saying I just have to “avoid” those things: waiters do not care. And really, if you’d been on your feet for seven hours already and were about to get home to cook for three kids, make sure they did their homework, and bathe them before attempting to put them to bed, all for less than minimum wage, would you care?! Now I just say I’m “really, really allergic and cannot have” wheat/dairy and they’re usually pretty careful. I guess they don’t want to be responsible for someone going into anaphylactic shock in front of them? Who’da thunk?

    But… I’ve slipped. I won’t intentionally have dairy, but if there’s a little butter on my steamed veggies or a tiny bit of cheese on my hardshell taco, I’m not really going to flip out, either; in fact, I’m going to enjoy the crap out of it.


    In general, my health is ridiculously better. I’m pretty much never sick (I should probably knock on wood right about now), I have more energy (it’s a work in process, I still need more than eight hours of sleep a night, for some reason), and I’m much happier. The downside is that while before, when my blood sugar got low, I turned into a cranky mess, I now turn into Snow White’s evil stepmother… and I WILL turn you into a freaking frog if you don’t feed me… and then I’ll roast your legs and eat them.

    Another really uncomfortable downside is the whole “body reboot”. I have to have pretty small portions at meals or I feel kind of disgusting. I have to eat about every two hours, or my stomach feels like it’s going to eat the rest of my organs. The more I read about people detoxing from gluten, the more common it turns out this is… which is pretty reassuring: it indicates I’m on the homestretch! Complete detox is just around the corner!

    Now if I could just keep from getting occasionally and randomly glutened, I would be more willing to eat at other people’s houses. *sigh*

    April 12, 2011   5 Comments

    I married a rocket scientist

    It is surprising how many of my friends have asked me, after meeting George, “What is it like being MARRIED to him?” He is all energy, happiness, hyperactivity, and scientific explanations for why raindrops have the precise shape they do. Well, folks, you now have your answer in the form of a joke email forward I got from the man himself a few minutes ago. Enjoy!

    A wife says to her engineer husband, “Could you please go to the store for me and buy a carton of milk? And if they have eggs, get six.”
    A short time later the husband comes back with six cartons of milk. The wife asks, “Why the heck did you buy six cartons of milk?”
    “They had eggs.”

    Welcome to my world.

    April 11, 2011   6 Comments