Monday, March 31, 2008

This is for you, Al Gore (no, not really)

Meet my new designer bag. It's made of durable nylon, has comfortable handles and was only 99 cents (hence my buying a few more) at Trader Joe's. I swear it was designed by Jimmy Buffet. Doesn't it look like a beer ad?

Now when I go into any store, I whip out my new shopping bag, which folds nicely and fits into my purse, and ask the cashiers to use it instead of "paper or plastic." I try to sound laid-back about it so they won't think I'm one of those environmental fanatics who go around burning new homes or checking people's floors for sustainably grown hardwoods.

Sometimes I feel a little self-conscious carrying a bright blue surfboard-motif Trader Joe's bag around Target or an upscale grocery store. But then I remember my ultimate goal of being an eccentric old lady who tells dirty jokes, and I realize I need to practice.

Who knew trying to be environmentally responsible could be so much fun?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Where's Smiling Bob when you need him?

I work as a substitute staffer for my kids' school district. Today I was subbing at a school and went into a staff restroom. There, next to the sink, was a bottle of liquid handsoap bearing the following label: "This antibacterial product brought to you courtesy of Cialis."

I wonder what they're trying to tell these teachers?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Random Acts ...

Yesterday, after I had loaded some groceries into the back of my Babemobile, a smiling elderly gentlemen approached me and offered to take my cart back to the store. That made my day.

No, he didn't turn cartwheels or compliment my haircut or sing showtunes (although that would have been cool, too). He smiled and did something nice. In my book, that's huge.

I read about a recent study in which test subjects who kept a daily journal and listed at least one positive thing that happened each day tested higher for emotional happiness than the subjects who recorded at least one negative thing each day. Well, no duh, but it's worth trying. I have been working to adopt a peaceful, Zen-like attitude towards others, and I really think it's reduced my stress levels.

Say a guy cuts me off in traffic. Instead of yelling something inappropriate or giving him a special finger, I try to walk in his shoes. Perhaps he is suffering from a financial disaster and is late to an interview for a job that could put food on the table and keep a roof over his family's head. Or maybe he's just an idiot and not a very good driver. Either way, I'm glad not to be him. I take a deep breath and feel my inner peace returning. Ohm.

I smile and say "thank you" to restaurant servers and salespeople. Having worked in the service industry, I know how hard it is to deal with jerks and rude people. It usually gets me good service, and even if it doesn't, it makes me feel better knowing that no one will be shoving pins into my voodoo doll at the end of a tough shift.

I think everyone should try at least a week of being kind to others. Perhaps we should call it Random Acts of Kindness Week. Or, if being kind is too hard for some people, they could start by just not acting like pricks. We could call that Don't Be A Prick Week. I'll start contacting my legislators.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dry hopping with the girls

Today about 13 of us gal-pals went to Redhook Brewery in Woodinville, WA, for a tasting tour and lunch. We did it to celebrate someone's birthday, we did it to enjoy each other's company and we did it for the beer.

I must admit that I'm not a beer person. I had my share in college although I couldn't tell you what kind of beer it was. It came out of a keg and it was tasty, especially if the music was loud and the guys were cute. (And they did get cuter with each additional beer.) I also had an obnoxious boyfriend, but he became more palatable as the party wore on.

Now that I've established myself as a beer lightweight, I have to tell you that this tour was a blast. We learned about hops and barley in their natural state and watched the beer being made in state-of-the-art facilities. We watched the bottling operation and I had to fight to urge to sing the "Laverne and Shirley" song out loud. Not that anyone would have heard me, because that room was LOUD. I assumed the workers were wearing earplugs, but then I realized they had Nirvana blasting in there, so now I'm not sure. We learned technical terms like "dry hop," which made us giggle like schoolgirls learning about our periods.

I also discovered that I DO like beer. Not just any beer but the darkest beer they served us, Blackhook Porter, which was rich, slightly toasty (as I was at that point) and had a light coffee flavor. As my friend Meri admiringly stated, "You could have this as a meal."

I wonder if they would make a caffeinated version for me, so I could have it for breakfast. Marketers, anyone?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Going loco for loco moco

I could really use a loco moco right now. For the uninitiated, a loco moco is a delectable combination of eggs (cooked however you like; I prefer fried) lovingly dumped over a hamburger patty that is smothered in hamburger gravy and delicately slapped over a large serving of white rice. Delicious, satisfying, and you don't even have to be hungover to enjoy it. I crave it when I'm sick, I crave it when I'm cold, I crave it just because.

Loco mocos are commonly served in Hawaii, even though it's not really "Hawaiian" food. Like much of the cuisine found in the islands, it's the result of the diverse ethnic melting pot found there. Early immigrants from all over the world (predominantly from Asia) found themselves together and eventually mixed the best and tastiest of their native foods to create a new "local" food. A lot of it is comfort food, full of fat and salt, enjoyed by the common folks, not be confused with the trendy "pan-Asian" menus so prevalent nowadays that drive me nuts.

The best part of living in the Northwest is that there are several Hawaiian-style eateries nearby so I can find loco mocos here! Here's how I eat a loco moco: First I take my fork or chopstick and pierce my fried egg so that the golden liquidy yolk oozes out over the entire concoction. Then I cut the hamburger patty into bite-size pieces. I make sure that each forkful contains some rice, some gravy, some burger and some egg. Sometimes I throw caution to the wind and eat the rice separately, but only when I'm feeling daring.

It's a lot of food. Do not wear tight jeans while eating a loco moco. After I polish off this delectable concoction, my stomach feels warm and happy and my spirits have lifted. I promise myself that I'll eat a salad later.
(Image by Christian Razukas. Mahalo!)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

They try to make me go to rehab and I say Peep, Peep, Peep.

Is there a twelve-step program for sugarholics? I feel as if I could use one right now as another Easter draws to a close. Let's see, there were several chocolate eggs, some Reese's peanut butter eggs, a rich dessert at a family gathering and too many jellybeans to count (Starburst-brand, in sour and tropical fruit flavors). This sugar hangover is enough to drive one to cauliflower.

One sugary delight I did not partake of this year was Peeps, simply because I didn't get the chance to buy any and no one gave them to my kids. What I enjoy even more than eating Peeps is admiring the Peeps creations that people submitted annually to various media groups. They demonstrate creativity, manual dexterity, effective use of glue guns and, in most cases, a sick sense of humor that I can only appreciate.

My favorite Peep Show this year (from which I stole the title of this post) comes from The Washington Post. Click here to catch your jollies. Which is your favorite?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Welcome, bienvenue, aloha, and all that stuff....

Welcome to Visitors' Day at the Institute! I am pleased you chose to visit and will try to keep your tour informative and interesting, with many stops along the way for snacks and humor.

There is no set agenda for our tours: Some days you may encounter an enthusiastic book, restaurant or movie review. Other days, perhaps a rant or two, hopefully offered in a non-whiny method. And since I am a mother of two, I may have to thrill or bore you with stories of my spawn and how amusing/brilliant/wonderful/annoying (usually all at once) they are. I apologize in advance for doing that, but you know how we moms can be.

So enjoy your tour! Feel free to take frequent bathroom breaks but do NOT use my master bathroom. That is sacred.