Thursday, January 15, 2015

FRA-GEE-LAY


Ray got a MAJOR award for Christmas. It looks Italian.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Miami Nice

The last photo I took before leaving Miami.

I had a final 20 minutes a few weeks ago to spend soaking up the last bit of warmth and sun in Miami before I had to get to the airport and return to the cold and perma-cloud of Cincinnati.

I was on my way to the patio by the pool when I was stopped by a hotel security guard who asked to see my room key. I showed him my baggage tag (I had already checked out) and he said, "Aww, you should have kept your key. You're about to leave and now you can't even get back in the gate to go see the beach... where are you from?"

I told him Cincinnati.

What followed was a true, genuine conversation. This is what I learned from Sandy, the security guard at the hotel.

Sandy has a coworker at the hotel who talks about Cincinnati all the time. Specifically, Over-the-Rhine. His coworker is actually from Cleveland - "the mistake by the lake, he calls it." But his coworker considers Cincinnati his real home and wants to go back there. But Sandy personally has never been to Cincinnati.

Sandy doesn't like Miami because no one is genuinely nice. "Miamian's don't do anything to be nice," he said. "Everything they do is because they want something from you."

When he first moved back to Miami after being in the Army some guy called him "Carlos." My name isn't Carlos, he told the guy. "All you Mexican's are Carlos or Juan or something," he told Sandy. Some people are very racist, Sandy said, so it left a bad taste in his mouth as soon as he got back.

When he was wearing his Army fatigues, people in other parts of the U.S. would come up to him and thank him for his service and hug him. Not in Miami, he said. Everyone just ignores you. No one cares.

He has a wife and a child now so he can't just pick and move like he wants to. Plus, Sandy worries that racism might be even worse if he lives outside of Miami. Even though he "looks white and has blue eyes," he says his accent gives him away. And at least in Miami he can get the type of food he likes. But he'd love to move away.

Sandy's favorite place he's ever been is Raleigh, North Carolina. And he's been all over because of the Army.

"The people are so nice. Genuinely nice. They say hello and ask how you are. They hold the door for you if you're coming in behind them. And I love the accent," he said.

He came from Cuba to the U.S. when he was 3 and grew up in a Spanish speaking household but his wife doesn't speak much Spanish and they are way behind on teaching Spanish to their daughter, even though he knows it would be good for her to learn.

He doesn't understand why people think he is not an American. He served four years in the Army, he grew up in the U.S. and he couldn't care less about Cuba.

"My dad and uncle constantly talk about Cuba. All I hear about from them is Castro and baseball, Castro and baseball. I don't care if I ever hear another word about Castro and baseball. I don't care about either of those things."

What Sandy does love is country music and car racing, so he thinks he'd fit in well in Raleigh.

For my part, I told Sandy I had never been Raleigh, but I felt he'd fit in well anywhere.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

In A Suprise to Absolutely No One



Well, technically, I didn't win the office bake-your-face-off bake-off.

And, technically, I didn't bake because I brought Rice Krispie treats. And, well, if you want to get really technical, I didn't even make them. Rachel did.

What's better than bake-off cheating? Double bake-off cheating. (It's like a double oven, only much cheaper.)

I would have made them myself (maybe), but I was dying. Or nearly dead. Or at least severely dehydrated. I woke up the Sunday before the bake-off throwing-up off the side of my bed in my childhood bedroom. (We were visiting my parents for Thanksgiving.)

Ray was so pumped to be sleeping in a full sized bed (read: nearly the smallest bed possible), next to someone barfing. That afternoon he drove us back to Cincinnati while I drank Gatorade and swore-off Thanksgiving leftovers forever.

So when Rachel texted me Sunday night asking how the treats were coming along, I told her my dreams of wowing everyone were dashed.

'Want me to make them for you?'
'You have Rice Krispies and marshmallows?'
'I had a feeling at the grocery something might happen.'
'You know me too well... I'll owe you forever.'
'It takes like five minutes, dude.'
'Ok, I'll owe you until at least Christmas.'

An hour later, the cat-shaped Rice Krispie winners of 2014 were at my home, and they were pure purrrfection. (Sorry, not sorry.)

I ushered them into the bake-off headquarters Monday morning (read: the office conference room), proudly stating the obvious: 'They're shaped like cats!'

I told everyone they were no ordinary Rice Krispie treats, they had a secret ingredient.

Cat hair, I said.

No, not really. I told the truth: It's love.

Ok, not that either. The secret ingredient is better than love, it's white chocolate chips. And they're the best you've ever tasted. The treats made the barfing totally worth it.

The cupcakes, lemon bars, mousse pie and brownies limped out of their fancy plastic storage cases and left the room. 

But being a good sport, a sampled a few other desserts and cast my ballot. Well, actually, I cast two ballots - one for the mousse pie (it was crazy delicious) and one for my Rachel's cat shaped Rice Krispie treats. (It's not voting for yourself if you didn't actually make them.)

When the ballots were counted I learned that "technically" I didn't win. But I did get three votes, which means two other people either a) recognized their greatness amid the wanna-bes or b) are crazy cat people.

That cat-shaped treats consider that a win.



Monday, December 08, 2014

The Hyde Park Griswolds




We spent the weekend being so festive that when it was over, a decorated tree and Christmas lights had spontaneously appeared at our house. I filmed the occurrence as our annual offering to Santa Claus in the hopes that he brings us everything on our list.

(Ray wants an impact driver. I want Ray to make me a desk from an old door and saw-horses. Unfortunately for Ray, my gift is dependent on him being Santa Claus.)

We put up more lights than we ever have this year and to be honest, when Ray flipped the switch I thought, "Holy crap, we're the Griswolds!"

Sorry neighbors, it wasn't our intention to sap the electric from your homes... Have you met my husband Clark?

Next year, I'm thinking a gigantic inflatable lawn snowman will really pull it all together.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Bring The Noise

Who needs Le Creuset bakeware and a convection oven and when you have these guys.


There is a bake-off coming up soon at my office, and I am going to win.

Granted, I don't actually bake unless it's that chocolate chip cookie dough from a tube, but I'm going to bring Rice Krispie treats to the bake-off, thereby assuring my victory.

Everyone loves Rice Krispie treats. People mistake them for being the humble underdog, but they win at everything, especially bake-offs.

My colleagues are already intimidated. I was explicitly and pointedly (firmly, even) told that I am not "allowed" to bring them because they are "not made from scratch" and because "they are not cookies and are not baked."

But I know that is really code for, "You cannot bring them because they are delicious and you will win."

As for them not being cookies, ridiculous. I will cut them into circles with a cookie cutter. Voila! Rice Krispie treat cookies.

Take that, American's Next Top Naked Cake Boss.

Rachel is an excellent baker and I considered asking her to whip me up a batch of her most prize-winning cookies and giving her the spoils of my winnings in return. (Which is probably a ribbon. Or maybe a trophy.) But that wouldn't be fair to everyone else to go up against Rachel like that. Their cookies would probably combust into a heap of flour and butter if pitted against her's, and I'm not trying to be mean at the holiday bake-off.

Ray suggested, "Just buy a bag of those Soft Batch cookies and put them on a plate. No one will know."

I told him that not only did people in my office look at me with pity and contempt when I said the exact same thing about tube cookies, but they all wholeheartedly disagreed. "Everyone can tell," they said. "They don't taste even remotely the same."

Ray scoffed. "What would they do if you brought in Oreos and put them on a plate? What, are you not going to advance to the medal round? Are they going to escort you from the building?"

"Maybe not for the Oreos," I told him. "But possibly for tube cookies, which they basically said are horrible and disgusting and shameful."

I felt shame for even bringing them up, I confessed to Ray. For about .257 seconds.

None of this matters though because I am going to win with the cookie-shaped Rice Krispie treats. Well, technically, I guess Ray is going to win since I asked him to make the treats. (The last time I made them they were terrible. They tasted like burning.) But with Ray at the stove, ain't nobody gonna have room for their salted-caramel bon-bons or red velvet cookie lumps or whatever.

Snap, crackle and pop, suckas.

P.S. Hey, does anybody have a cookie cutter I can borrow?

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

They Grow Up So Fast

Chuck Norris and Hunter S. Tomcat turned one year old this summer.

We threw them a big party with a pinata filled with Pounce. It was pretty amazing watching them hit it with tiny little bats.

Chuck Norris is a natural athlete, able to leap tall buildings - with style and grace - in a single bound. He eats shoes (awesome) and his favorite subjects in kindergarten are nap time and bird watching.

Hunter S. Tomcat is a true cat's-cat - meaning, he will prowl up on you, debate eviscerating you but then just head-butt you for affection. He favorite subject is entomology, specifically, eating stink bugs.

They've both joined a old time string band. They play at the Southgate House Revival if you ever want to see them.  

Needless to say, we adore them. And they've really grown into their ears and personalities.

Kittens, age 3 months.
 
One year old.

Turns out, it's much harder to hold two grown cats than it is kittens for a family portrait.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Like A Boss



Don't I look fantastic in this corner office?

I mean, just look at me. Talking on the phone, wearing glasses, drinking cappuccino.

LIKE A BOSS.

Some people who have corner offices think they are the boss, but they don't own it like I do. They can't just put on someone else's glasses and expect to get things done (because the glasses are so thick they can't see out of them), but I can. Because I don't need to see... I can send 40 emails in less than a minute, and I can write them while holding a phone and coffee.

I write them with my MIND.

I'm so busy one computer isn't enough for me, I need two. Two computers. Two computers to send emails, give orders, write content, edit copy, retouch photos... create beauty.

All that while reading children's books, shuffling papers and printing edicts.

And I do all this with my foot up.