Bluebird Down

The pursuit of domestic bliss, one glorious debacle at a time.

Making Friends with the Garbage Guys July 29, 2010

Filed under: House Oddities — Teri @ 8:41 am

So this may be an exaggeration.

I hate waking up to the sound of the garbage truck. Inevitability, what follows is the sickening realization that it’s Thursday and, once again, I forgot to put out the bin. Three weeks in a row. The contents of the bin are truly too horrid to describe — especially after being exposed to 100 degree heat for nearly a month. The backyard is going to be like Disneyland for vermin if I don’t get that bin to that truck.

I flung open the front door and stepped out to assess the situation. Indeed, the garbage men were right there. So close, in fact, that one looked at me all cock-eyed because I’m sure I looked crazed. I spun around, bolted through the house and beat it out the backdoor. Backyard Kitty was there to block me. She had no food or water and, as far as she was concerned, I was not getting past her. She tried to take me out going down the deck steps, but I leaped over her. I cornered the decked, got to the gate, unlocked it (pull the pin, slide the bolt, puuusssssh the door), moved the recycling bin, grabbed the garbage bin and took off in pursuit of the garbage truck. I couldn’t go between my neighbor’s truck and my car, no room. I opted to squeeze between my car and half-dead magnolia bush. I ran over those cute yellow and pink flowers — sorry, little fellas. I jumped the curb and hit the blacktop running. I was in open air. I could really fly now.

The garbage men were already five houses down. They’re an efficient bunch. The Cock-Eyed Garbage Man spotted me first. Here was this pudgy chick with red curls sprung out wildly all over her head (even standing straight up, I’m proud to say), pulling a garbage bin that is practically as tall as she is. Seriously, it’s as tall as my shoulders. So I’m running down the street, trying to keep my pj bottoms up. I made the unfortunate choice to wear the roomy pj bottoms last night. The legs extend past my toes and, even as I walk around the house, I have to keep tugging at the waist to keep them up. And, now, here I am running past the neighbors in all my glory.

The garbage man couldn’t help but laugh. “I had to catch you,” I told him. “I keep forgetting to put the bin out,” I explained. “It smells awful!” we all agreed. (And you know it’s disgusting when the garbage men are impressed.) One garbage man caught the giggles so bad that he snorted. “Do you want us to start honking the horn when we come by your house,” he asked. “Can you do that?!?!,” I gasped. “No. It was a joke.” he deadpanned. “Besides, this was funny. We need to do it again.” he chuckled. And with that, they were off…

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How I survived the tour de france July 27, 2010

Filed under: Cooking,Exercise Follies,Food — Teri @ 4:05 pm

I'll trade the jersey for cake.

Spinning is my favorite thing to do at the gym and Justin is my favorite spin instructor. He’s a willowy guy that was born without the ability to form a fat cell. It does no good to bemoan your weight to Justin. He truly does not get it. Justin is more concerned with your intestinal fortitude. What I’ve learned from Justin’s spin class is that determination comes before ability. If you can’t talk yourself through to the end of the class, well, who cares how fast you go?

I’ve developed a number of techniques for talking myself through — pretend to race the person on the bike beside me… pretend to be an Olympic athlete in training… pretend to be a covert operative in training a la Jason Bourne… if I’ve had a bad day, I tell off every person who made me mad. The possibilities are endless, really. Sometimes it’s a simple as planning what to eat when I’m done.

Last Friday we completed Stage 18 of the Tour de France. Justin is a big fan and we spend every July recreating each stage of the Tour. Here is how I made it through:

Justin: Good morning! Stage 18 today. 123 miles. We’ll have some climbs, jumps, a sprint to the end in Bordeaux. Watch for attacks from the middle pack. [OK, so Justin has a good imagination too.]

Me: Bordeaux? Wine! Which type of wine comes out of Bordeaux? Is it literally called Bordeaux? I need to know more about wine. Wait… attacks from the pack. Aw man, he’s going to make us sprint on a hill!

Add gear! We’re coming to our first hill. Power up! [Which means to stand with your hands in position 3, leaning over the handle bars.]

I thought we weren’t in the mountains today. Are we in the foothills? I wonder how many hills we are talking about?

Jumps for six minutes! Maintain control. DO NOT plop in the seat.

I’m hungry. Oh, it’s 9:45. Almost time for my 10 o’clock feeding.

Touch gear. Seated climb. PUSH IT.

Hate seated climbs. Hey, by the time I get back home it will be time for lunch. Tomato sandwich with Baked Cheetos. No, carrots. No, Cheetos. Carrots, definitely. With ranch.

Do not lose your momentum. Seated sprints. Do not lose your position!

I’m seriously hungry. I wonder if spin really does burn 500 calories. Feels like it, but probably not. Probably more like 300 calories. But if it did burn 500 calories I could have cake afterward!

Standing climb! Last hill before maintaining until to the end.

The chocolate cake slices at Harris Teeter are good. The icing is good. All rich and creamy.

Set it down. Stay in your climb. This hill isn’t over yet.

I can’t eat cake — good Lord! What is wrong with me?!

Let’s pick it up. Up! Position 2!

Oh, but I could eat brownies. Instead of a slice of cake, I could buy brownie mix. Brownies made with apple sauce are less fat and calories, so not as bad.

Jumps. Four on/four off. Power up!

I could put icing on the brownies! Chewy, moist brownies with icing. Holy moly.

Have a seat. Bring it in strong and steady. You should be hitting the high end of 20 to 27! If you aren’t, move it!

Wait, if I’m going to do that, I might as well buy a piece of cake. Piece of cake… pan of brownies. This is like that fixed rate/variable rate deal. One seems better but is worse in the long run. I can never remember which is which.

We’re coming down the last stretch! Don’t lose focus. Keep your cadence!

Is there pizza in the freezer?!?!

THE PACK IS ATTACKING! SPRINT! SPRINT! SPRINT!

Ugh. Those bastards!

Coming into Bordeaux. Hydrate tonight. Tomorrow we have time trials.

Definitely tomato sandwich and carrots. Yup. Definitely.

 

Sorry for the delay, I was napping. July 22, 2010

Filed under: Family — Teri @ 8:03 pm

I totally understand, Coho.

I think physical energy should be worth more than gold. I, for one, would rather be energetic than wealthy.

I spend a lot of time being tired, y’all. There are days when I literally want to take a nap an hour after I get up. It’s a drag, to say the least. I would blame my age (39, thankyouverymuch), but I distinctly remember my mother referring to me as “low energy” when I was a teenager. I wasn’t, and I am not, lazy. I am always in the process of doing something. Lazy is a different scenario. Lazy is having the energy, but an unwillingness to do anything with it. I am, as my mother says, low energy.

Do I want to be more energetic? Of course! I want to be one of those boundlessly energetic people that gets things done. I admire and envy those people. My lack of energy digs at my self esteem far worse than my weight or social inadequacies. It sincerely is one of the main reasons I’ve never had children. I feel like I don’t have the energy to get myself through the day sometimes, how am I supposed to drag kids along with me? My lack of energy keeps me from enjoying social gatherings and forming new friendships. I’m too tired to go, much less put the energy into looking presentable for the event.

I’ve targeted a few of the reasons I think I currently lack energy. [I can’t speak for Teenager Teri. She was just a slacker.]

  1. My job. Absorbing the problems of other people is far more exhausting than I realized it would be. I thought I would be Teflon, but I really am more like the imitation Tupperware that still smells like the spaghetti from last week even though you washed it three days ago.
  2. Clutter. I purged the house of all unwanted clutter because the sight of the office practically sucked the life force out of me.
  3. Weight. I’m chunky, I admit it. I’m also woman enough to admit that the older you get, the harder it is to haul around extra weight.
  4. Marriage. Being responsible for another person is also far more exhausting than I imagined. I can see Z reading this and throwing his hands up in the air. I can see him scrunching his nose up in disgust. It’s not him — really. [Though it would help if you cleaned up more, Z. ;)] I do truly love my husband and love being married to him. I still contend that marriage is exhausting.
  5. Funky Sleep Patterns. When Z is deployed, I have trouble sleeping for a few weeks after he leaves. I leave the TV on because I’m spooked, but then the TV wakes me up during the night. When Z is home, I have trouble sleeping a few weeks after he arrives. [It could have something to do with the deep sleep bear hug he wraps around me that cuts off my oxygen.] The cat wakes me up. He thinks he owns the bed and he snores. The dog whimpers to go out at 2 am. You get the picture.

I decided it was time to tackle the energy issue. I had a physical and I’m fit as a fiddle. I’m a little low on Vitamin D, which could be contributing to my energy problem. That’s easily corrected with a vitamin and/or a little time in the sun each day. I’ve started exercising more. Studies show that people who exercise sleep more soundly than sedentary folks. You’ve already heard about the Great House Purge and it’s done wonders for my psyche. I’ve started going to bed at 10 pm and waking up at 6 am — yes, even though it is summer. The studies say our bodies dig routine. For the past two nights, I’ve turned off the TV. Oh my gracious, I have some freaky dreams, y’all. I didn’t realize the TV was holding them at bay. It also might help if my neighbors would chill with the construction projects at midnight. Seriously, I think they are building a rocket ship in their backyard. They better bring me back a moon rock.

So the core and success of the domesticity project lies in my ability to get a handle on my energy level. I think work, home, marriage and friendship would be much more enjoyable if I didn’t sleep through them.

 

Philosophy and the Sweet Potato July 19, 2010

Filed under: Cooking,Food,House Oddities — Teri @ 10:52 am

Pre-Clean Up

I needed to clean out the refrigerator, so I would have an idea of what was edible enough for dinner. It was looking a little woolly in there. A thought occurred to me as I stepped back surveying the job. It’s said that your bookshelf says a lot about you — your hopes, your fears, your talents, your challenges. I wonder what the content of your refrigerator says about you? If too much German philosophy on your bookshelf exposes your nihilistic tendencies, then what does a drawer full of rotten tomatoes say about you? [Surprisingly similar results?]

In an effort to leave no stone unturned in the continuing quest for peace, happiness and organization, I expose the heart of my kitchen for you:

Out of date eggs – 3 left in the carton

Loaf of wheat bread

Apple sauce

3 bottles of Pinot Grigio

Water pitcher

Tea pitcher

Out of date hummus

Out of date ranch dressing

More wheat bread

Out of date wheat english muffins

Whitewheat hamburger buns

Whitewheat hot dog buns (2 left from the 4th of July)

Out of date wheat hamburger buns

Some borderline looking cherries

1 pint of cherry tomatoes

2 pints of too-recently-purchased-to-be-moldy raspberries

2 pints of blackberries – make that 1 pint 🙂

Mircale Whip

Dill pickle relish

Half a bottle of Beasley’s Best BBQ Sauce

1 bottle of Blue Moon

1 bottle of Honey Moon

Half a pack of Sargento reduced fat swiss

Half pack of turkey

Trader Joe’s cheese sticks

Half pack of Sargento reduced fat pepper jack

Partial pack of Kraft Singles 2% American Cheese

7 packs of Starkist white tuna

Feta cheese that I will probably forget about

1 Hebrew National hot dog (note that are two hot dog buns left though)

7 bottles of Harris Teeter lime seltzer

5 bottles of lemon-lime G2

1 bunch of collards

1 bunch of kale

1 half rotten green pepper

Half a container of romaine lettuce

1 leek (just 1)

6 sad looking ears of corn

4 sweet potatoes

1 butternut squash

1 spaghetti squash

3 cucumbers (1 slightly suspect)

Half bunch of asparagus that needs to be eaten today or tossed

1 tiny zucchini

2 pack of carrots – 1 out of date

A gaggle of baby red potatoes

4 ripe red tomatoes

1 bag of baby spinach

2 fuzzy peaches – and not in a good way – whoops, make that 3 fuzzy peaches

2 lemons

1 container of Land O’ Lakes Light Butter

Almost empty bottle of 100% grapefruit juice

Blackberry jam

Black grape jam

Apple butter

Minced garlic

Homemade peanut butter (but not made in my home)

Almost empty bag of dried cranberries (last used at christmas, I think)

Newman’s Own ranch dressing

Kraft caesar vinaigrette

Balsamic vinegar (which i’ve never taken a liking to, but will give another shot)

Worcestershire sauce (great with grilled oysters!)

A1

Lemon juice

Skim milk

Ortega salsa that I think we’ve had for 3 years

Grated parmesan cheese

Lime juice

Ketchup

Out of date mustard

Grey Poupon

Mojito mixer

Champagne

Bisquick Heart Smart Pancake Mix

1/12 of a pack of Coke

Major lesson learned from this observation: I buy too much food, especially for a person that doesn’t cook. Second observation: I probably wouldn’t be struggling to zip up my jeans if I stuck to the vegetables. I love lists — they can tell you so much about yourself.

 

Unpacking kitchen appliances is not for the faint of heart July 17, 2010

Filed under: Cooking — Teri @ 7:50 pm

Oh yeah, I'm gonna lose a finger.

It took me four hours last Christmas to make a chocolate bundt cake from scratch. By the time I finished combining the ingredients, I needed rotator cuff surgery. I asked Z for a stand mixer for Christmas. It was, I like to remind him, the only thing on my list. He went in another direction. He did, however, give me the mixer for my birthday in April. And because I only cook one time a year and it’s usually desserts, I thought, “What am I supposed to do with this?” A fickle and capricious woman, as Virgil said. [In my defense, I have a personal rule that Christmas gifts may be practical, but birthday and anniversary gifts should be romantic and frivolous. Don’t know where the rule came from, but it stuck.] The mixer sat in the box until an hour ago. I moved over the toaster oven that’s never used and set the mixer up on the counter. I’m thinking inspiration is forthcoming.

The food processor was a recent purchase. I decided if I’m going to tackle this domestic existence, I should at least have cool toys. Plus I really don’t trust myself with a knife. The food and my digits will be safer now, I suspect.

 

Field Trip Friday: a USDA certified organic post July 16, 2010

Filed under: Cooking,Field Trips,Food — Teri @ 6:12 pm

Eat here. Seriously.

I needed inspiration for the kitchen, so I hopped in the truck and headed up to Durham this morning. My plan was to wander through Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, then stop in for lunch at Watts Grocery. After watching Food, Inc., I’ve been suspiciously eyeing my food, wondering where and how it was grown and how it got to my plate. I bought The Omnivore’s Dilemma; Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Vegan with a Vengeance — which I haven’t read yet, because they’ve just arrived from Amazon. Seeing that I’m not going to grow a garden in my backyard and start raising chickens (at least not this summer, Z!), I figured the health/organic food stores were my next best bet.

I was relatively disappointed in Trader Joe’s, though I do regret not buying the absolutely gorgeous cut flowers. What I did buy was the cheap wine! I got a red and a white and a six pack of Bohemian Lager. I rarely drink, but I love collecting alcohol.

My disappointment with Trader Joe’s turned into sheer, unadulterated joy when I arrived at Watts Grocery. First of all, I had to hide my surprise that it wasn’t an actual grocery store, it’s a restaurant. I found Watts Grocery on Facebook and added it to my Go Here list. I expected something like Whole Foods’ cafeteria, but instead got this cool little restaurant right past Duke’s East Campus. Super nice staff, good tea and a slap-your-momma awesome [!!!] chicken, brie and applewood bacon sandwich. Seriously the best sandwich I’ve had… ever. I got greedy and paired it with a side of hush puppies, in addition to the mixed green salad that came with it. I love hush puppies and these were no exception — they had cheese in ’em! Overall, I give Watts Grocery a 10+ rating. The plus is for not screwing up my half sweetened, half unsweetened tea with a lemon order.

Mouthwatering VOCCCs

I waddled over to Whole Foods before hitting 40 for the drive home. Let’s face it, people: the only reason I was there was for the Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. I’m a fan of cookies. I’m an excellent cookie maker. And I will leap tall buildings in a single bound for VOCCC at Whole Foods. But I’m not crass. I at least made a good show of looking around. [Including staring at a clearly emaciated woman as she stalked a Whole Foods worker because she was desperate for cellulite cream. True story. The Whole Foods lady looked a little frightened.] Certainly not one who is emaciated or worried about cellulite, I bought whole grain pancake mix and pure maple syrup… and two VOCCCs.

I arrived home to find my new food processor was delivered. Tomorrow we find out if I can use it without losing a finger.

 

Still life with cardboard July 15, 2010

Filed under: House Oddities — Teri @ 5:27 pm

The Evil Twins

Oh, how these boxes mock me!

At the beginning of summer, I decided my sanity could no longer tolerate the clutter that lurked in every corner of our home. The problem is that Z and I never properly purged our belongings when we moved in together. Mostly my things sat piled up in corners in the condo. I only unpacked my clothes and necessities. We lived like that for almost two years. And when we moved into the house, we made no attempt to pare down what we owned — so along came two irons, two brooms, two too many dressers. It was Noah’s Ark for the Organizationally Challenged.

I started by organizing the office/guest room/whatisthis?idon’tknow.putitinthere room. I put our financial files in order. I assembled the desk. I hooked up electronics. I dumped drawers and restocked. I put Z’s DVDs in alphabetical order. [Now, before you scoff, the man had three and four copies of his favorite movies all because he couldn’t remember if he owned them already.] It took three days and there was more than one “Oh cool, I forgot we had this!” moment.

The next dreaded task was the bathroom with it’s multitudes of half-empty conditioner bottles. Then it was the laundry room cupboards filled with wires and pipes and nails left from the previous owner, who I believe was gifted the items from the owner before him. I moved on to the bedroom, which wasn’t that bad actually. And now I’m back at the kitchen… and the two boxes. Those two boxes have been shoved to the side for more than a year. The contents are a mystery to me. In reality, it would probably take all of 15 minutes to empty both boxes, put away the items and break down the cardboard. Oh, but what if it isn’t that easy?! What if there is just more clutter in there? Or worse… a colony of creatures that have set up house — and shop. How I dread to open these boxes. But they are the last two. I just need to do it. Get it over with. Declare my house clutter free and move on with my life.