Saturday, December 22, 2007

BloomingtonGirl Dons the Hat

Loyal Readers, in these photos, your BloomingtonGirl is sporting a hat she received for her birthday from a friend of hers. I have taken quite a shine to this hat, not only because it is lovely and festive and incredibly cozy, but also because it has fur that looks exactly like our dog Zoe's fur. I think it would be quite funny to tell someone that it is actually made of Zoe's fur and that I had her put down expressly for that purpose. I would say something like, "Well, she was getting older after all, and I did really want that hat. What difference does a few years make? I figured we could always buy another Sheltie." It would be worth it just to see someone's expression.

But, since that might be a bit too far out, I did the next best thing. I wore the faux Zoe hat to the "Y" on the day when I had to renew my locker for the year. I hoped, of course, that Annoya would be my customer service person.

What luck! She was. I walked to the front desk wearing the potentially offensive hat and after greeting our Annoya, I removed my hat slowly and lay it on the counter, almost immediately in front of her. I was careful to hide the label that would give away the faux nature of the pelt.

To my surprise, Annoya was quite accomodating and didn't once ask the origin of the pelt. I have no idea whether she was troubled by the fur on my hat and I'm sure that I shall never know. I tried my best to lean over the counter to spy a glimpse of her footwear to determine if they were leather but couldn't get a good look without looking quite contorted and strange. And, your BloomingtonGirl wants never to look contorted and strange in public. Not in private, either, for the record.

After all this, I have decided to begin a winter hat collection. Not just boring caps, of course, but hats of fun distinction. So far, I have two fur lined hats, a red and black plaid hunting hat with a pom-pom on top and flaps that pull down to cover my delicate little ears and a brown wool hat that has a jaunty little side slant and a rossette on the side. Perhaps if the spirit moves me, I shall post a little fashion show. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Little Rant from your BloomingtonGirl

Admit it. You've missed my little rants. Here goes.

This morning, in the lobby of the Y, I saw an acquaintance of mine, Irina, at the front desk, signing her kids up for a Y program. Irina is a gorgeous young mother - 32 at the most - and is Russian. Her English is heavily accented so it is apparent that she is not an American. She is as nice as nice could be. Gentle and sweet. Just a doll of a woman. And, I mentioned that she was a knockout, right? Ask my husband. He has confirmed it to me more than once. This woman is so genuinely good in her heart that even a middle-aged woman I know who has put on ten pounds since she moved from CT to IN and is feeling most unattractive isn't even a bit jealous of her. I won't mention her name to protect her identity.

Anyway, lovely and pleasant Irina was standing there wearing an absolute vision of a fur hat that made a fashion statement the likes of which aren't often seen in this slice of the heartland. (The picture posted here doesn't touch it, but you get the idea.)

I went over and petted the hat and literally purred, "Wow! This is absolutely gorgeous! I LOVE this hat. Did you bring it back from Russia?"

Irina said that she did. Then, the woman behind the Y desk (let's call her Annoya) said, "Is it an animal?" I braced myself for tension.

Yes," said Irina in a completely unaffected voice, "It's mink."

Then, Annoya said in a voice of disappointment tinged heavily with judgement, "Oh! It's an animal."

Eager to diffuse any tension (though why I always feel that it is my job to do this, I have yet to figure out), I exclaimed (yes, exclaimed), "But, it's from Russia!" I know I sounded like a complete bubble-headed moron, but I didn't care.

Annoya said, "But it is still an animal. I'm such an animal lover."

Before I venture into my commentary about this interaction, let me just give some background information about little Miss Annoya. She is a friend of a friend, and I happen to know that she has a weakness for expensive shoes. And based on my experience with fashionable shoes and boots - which as we all know is rather vast - I can reasonably assume this woman is not wearing synthetic leather on her well heeled tootsies. The shoe price range she's in is almost certainly filled with shoes made of leather from sweet, unassuming cows. Though perhaps not as cute as their little mink friends, they are still animals last time I checked. So, hey Annoya! Where's your animal love?

Which brings me to my commentary. How can anyone who wears any dead animal product, eats animal flesh or by-products (milk, cheese, eggs) even think about taking a position against wearing fur? It is, no matter how you look at it, all the same thing. You might argue that ingesting animal flesh or their products for nutrition is different than wearing fur as an ornament, but that is absolute crap. (Yes, you heard me right - crap.) In this day and age, one does not require meat - or any animal products for that matter - in one's diet to thrive. Similarly, one does not need to wear fur to stay warm. But, many people choose to eat meat and choose to wear fur.

I need to point out, Loyal Ones, your BloomingtonGirl isn't taking a stand for or against using animals for meat or clothing. What I am taking a stand against is people who get all weepy about animals being raised for fur who are not vegans. If one is a vegan, then one can take a stand about it. Otherwise, they should just shut up.

And, I'll even take this one step further. To protest against a beautiful piece of apparel made from furry animals and not protest against eating meat is missing a point that your BloomingtonGirl feels compelled to point out. I do understand the objection to the slaughter of innocent animals, really I do. But, at at least the minks (or chinchillas or whatever) have a chance of being transformed into an object of art and fashion. The meat animals have no such hope. They just get consumed and excreted. The only mark they make is on someone's cholesterol level or on their bathroom scale. How meaningful a sacrifice is that? (Your fitness and fashion minded BloomingtonGirl is happy to answer that question. Not very.)

This little riff of mine might well lead you to wonder where I stand on the issue of meat, animal products and fur. Well, since you asked, I'll have to tell you that I am actually not sure how I feel about any of it. I have a fur swing-style jacket in my closet and another cropped Persian lamb jacket with a mink collar. I plan to wear them both this winter. Both coats were hand-me-downs from my mother-law and mother, respectively. And the swing style jacket belonged to my mother-in-law's mother, so the animals responsible have been dead a good long time. Would I buy a fur? Probably not, especially living in Bloomington. But I have to say that I don't have terribly strong feelings about it.

As far as eating meat and animal products is concerned, I do feel that morally and ecologically, we might (Earth included) all be better off being vegans for so many reason. But, I can't bring myself to make that sacrifice and I am not sure how much difference it would make if I did. I'll tell you that The Ominvore's Dilemma has really opened my eyes to how our food in this country is produced and I am thinking much more about the food choices I make and what I and my family eat. (I haven't been disciplined enough to translate that into healthy and ethical choices yet, but I hope that is coming. But, at least I realize that I haven't yet earned a seat on the fur bashing high horse...) The book should be required reading for any person who eats in this country. It isn't a gross expose of the underbelly of slaughterhouses or anything of the kind. It is just incredibly interesting and eye opening.

Well, that's all from your self-absorbed, mean spirited BloomingtonGirl. More later this weekend. Time for bed.

Kisses to my Loyal Reader in Lille. How glamorous does that sound?

Friday, December 07, 2007

From Eeeewww! to I Love You! & Some Other Thoughts

Loyal Readers, these fine looking creatures are Phil, Skidoo and, of course, Jack. Phil is Katie's young man, whom she met at summer camp when she was about 13. This picture was taken last summer in Phil and Kate's Manhattan apartment. Jack broke out in hives about a half hour later because he is allergic to cats, but I digress.

When I was pregnant for Jack, we were trying to pick out a name for him on the drive up to drop the girls at camp that summer. Kate and Meg went to Forest Lake Camp every summer for years, first as campers and later as counsellors. Kate and Meg were in the back seat, Chris and a very pregnant BloomingtonGirl in the front. We made lists and voted on potential names for Jack, whose name, for some reason, while in utero, was "Spud". Each had the right to veto one name, no matter how popular it was with the rest of the family. Chris and I both liked the name Philip. I liked it quite a lot, actually. But Kate and Meg vetoed it because of the "Phil from camp". I don't remember specifically what their complaint about the camp Phil was, but I do remember the emphatic "Eeewww Phil Shipper!" A few years later, Phil Shipper would take the train up from Manhattan to attend Katie's high school graduation party and a romance woudl began. Funny how things work out...

In other news, I worked hard on the McGary Christmas card today and I am happy to report that I don't think it will sink me like last year's did. If you aren't on our mailing list and wish to be, email me with your address and I will add you.

Lately, when blogging, I start out with many ideas to write about. Then, after a few paragrahs, I just run out of steam and can't seem to find witty words for any of those ideas, which, when writing them, seem tired. But, I'll give it a whirl here and see where it takes us.

Yesterday, in the Kroger parking lot, I saw a bumper sticker that said, "My son is fighting for our freedom". My first thought was, "Yeah. Think what you like, Lady. Your son is fighting for oil, plain and simple." But, to be fair, if my kid were in Iraq or Afghanistan, I suppose that I would want to believe that he was there for some high minded purpose like Freedom, whatever that means these days.

Your BloomingtonGirl has become very sad about the situation in the world and our country's part in it, not to mention completely distrustful of and cynical about our government, its processes and elections. I write my congressmen somewhat often to express my views. (I don't always agree with him but Indiana Republican Senator Richard Lugar gives BY FAR the most thoughtful and intelligent responses, compared to our other Senator Evan Bayn and our district's Democrat Congressional Rep, that ninny Baron Hill.) I also try to conserve energy and make thoughtful purchases that won't promote the abuse of children in foreign countries and drain jobs out of this one (that is a recent and small but growing effort, sometimes hamstrung by fashion needs), but I have to say that my outlook for the future (when I really make myself think about it) is pretty grim. Add Global Warming to the mix and I can get pretty anxious and negative.

Since your BloomingtonGirl is not at all interested in being anxious and negative - especially about things completely out of her control, she has decided to live, for the most part, with her head in the sand. Figuratively, of course. I don't that having one's head in the sand would benefit one's actual complexion. And, we all know how concerned your BloomingtonGirl is with hers.

In other news, I had a pleasant surprise email the other day. A very long lost and lovely friend living in Lille looked me up on the internet and found my blog. Now, we are back in touch again! Isn't the internet grand?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Mama in Her Cap

Good Evening, Loyal Readers. This is a picture of me in bed, taken about five minutes ago. Pretty fetching, eh? I don't know how my husband is managing to keep his hands off of me. Will power, I guess.

It's cold in our bedroom. What can I say? I can't be a fashionista 24 - 7.

I was going to write a whole long piece on all sorts of fascinating observations I have been making in my recent Christmas shopping travels around town, but truth be told, I just got really tired. So, I am going to settle down for a little winter's nap. I promise to write more tomorrow.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Hello Again

Greetings Loyal Readers-in-Waiting. I apologize to those of you who have been checking in only to see nothing new posted on my little blog. I have been absent for a couple of reasons. One is that I've been busy with many other very little things not worth mentioning here and the other reason is that instead of writing in the evening, I have been indulging in the review of the entire six seasons of Sex & The City. (I think that there are six seasons... I am on season two so far.)

Before I wax not-so-poetically about S&TC, a few words about the picture of your BloomingtonGirl at left. I have my new arm warmers on - they go all the way up to my elbows (under the shirt) and they are as cozy as cozy can be. I absolutely love them. I can type and operate the mouse on my laptop and my hands stay warm. Yummy. And, as you can see, I have cut my hair off once again and I have to say that I feel like myself again. I did try to grow my little locks out, with a view toward having a different, perhaps more feminine look. But, one day, even as the growing was going quite well, I woke up and decided that it just wasn't worth the effort I had to put in to actually blow-dry my hair. Granted, it took less than five minutes to perform this little beauty task, but it just felt like a complete waste of time for me. And besides, I just looked so GENERIC with my little soccer mom "do". So, I called my hairdresser and I got a sign from above. She had a rare cancellation the very next day. In I went and out I came - myself again. It is a complete freedom to have short hair and I enjoy it every day. That said, I must mention here that when I told a few people that I was getting my hair all cut off again, their reaction was "Aw!", in a tone of disappointment as if to imply that they were sad that I was going to make myself homely again in their eyes. I didn't say anything but I sure did notice. The best thing was, though, that I didn't care at all. It is nice to be 45 and not care quite so much. Perhaps by 50 I won't care at all. Won't that be freedom?

Well, I am off to bed to watch my once-a-day episode of S&TC and then to read a chapter of The Omnivore's Dilemma aloud to my husband. (One might say (correctly) that he is very spoiled, but I must add (also correctly) that he deserves it.) But, back to the book itself. I think that it should be required reading for anyone who eats.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful...

that I can go to bed now.
More tomorrow on our wonderful Thanksgiving. For now, here are some pictures.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Oops! The Gravy Angst Fairy Makes Her Annual Visit

I hope that this is not an indication of how my cooking will turn out tomorrow. This is a photo of what were supposed to be roasted turkey giblets and vegetables for making turkey stock to be used in turkey gravy. Loyal Readers, I kid you not when I say that I followed the recipe to the letter, except that I removed the pan from the oven 20 minutes before the specified time. Granted, the recipe did mention that I would need a backbone and all I had was the neck and the gizzards and the (I think) liver. But, still, it shouldn't have turned out this TORCHED!

So, giblets ruined and no turkey stock on the near horizon, I needed a Plan B for my gravy. I am serving eleven tomorrow for Thanksgiving...six adults & five children.

As in all times of need, I went to my Oracle - in this case Cook's Illustrated online - and searched for "make ahead gravy". I recalled that earlier this week on Yahoo a recipe was highlighted for said "make ahead gravy" from Cook's Illustrated. The claim was that the gravy "had been taste tested over 40 times" - whatever the heck that means. (One person, 40 times? 40 people, one tasting? One person, 40 times making the gravy and tasting each batch...who knows?) But the bottom line was that this recipe was perfect for my situation. It did not require any turkey parts or turkey stock AT ALL.

Well, I made the gravy and am here to report that it is pretty damn good. It doesn't taste like turkey gravy, but good money says that if I slip it into the mix of freshly roasted turkey and all the trimmings, nobody will be the wiser. Well, except my husband who just tasted it and suggested that if we put some "good strong turkey drippings into it" it would be okay.

He has this gravy thing, this high standard of gravy that trips me up just about every year at Thanksgiving. When we lived in Fairfield, I just bought the gravy at Hay Day and thought it was pretty good. (I didn't realize how disappointed my husband was, suffering in silence, longing for gravy made with actual pan drippings...) I know that the admission that I purchased ready made gravy may shock some of my Loyal Readers, given that their BloomingtonGirl is such a From-Scratch Cook. But, for those of you not familiar, Hay Day (now Balducci's) wasn't just a run of the mill grocery store. It was, for lack of a better word, gourmet.

But still, you may wonder why BloomingtonGirl didn't just make her own gravy. To be completely honest, gravy has always intimidated me. I just am afraid of it. All the last minute de-glazing of the roasting pan and then (worst thing of all) having to use the tricky fat separating measuring cup thingy. I just don't want to bother with it. I don't want to get all sweaty, leaning over the pan right before we are to sit down for an elegant meal. Last year, my friend Jenny rescued me from my gravy anxiety by showing up and taking over the gravy duty. This year, she is selfishly spending the holiday with her father in Alabama of all places, leaving me without a gravy sous chef. (I might take her off my Christmas Card list for that.)

Well, would you look at the time? It is 10:40 PM! I've been cooking all day and all of the sudden, I am beat. I am off to bed to read a little and moisturize my tired and dry little paws.

More tomorrow on my cooking progress.

Keep your fingers crossed for my gravy adventures.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oprah Wisdom

While waiting in the check-out line at Kroger today, I had some time to check out the headlines on the latest tabloids (my guilty pleasure!) and some headlines on the not so tabloidy selections such as "O" Magazine, the bible for Oprahphiles everywhere. I am not one of the faithful and if anything, Oprah annoys me. I admire her fashion, of course, and I have to admit that some of the articles in "O" are actually intelligent. But that said, she does annoy me. I just don't get why an Oprah endorsement will lead millions of people to run out and buy whatever it is that she is (ostensibly) having. And, while we are on the topic...the photo shoot of her opening her school in Africa was extra annoying. She was dressed to the nines, all done up like she was going to high tea with Brooke Astor. (Well, when Mrs. Astor could go to tea, that is.) C'mon Oprah. Tell your stylist to dress you more appropriately for these events. But, as I used to say, I digress...

Back to the checkout line.

On her magazine this month was an interesting teaser:

"What to Eat So You are Never Hungry Again!"

I didn't have time to page through the magazine to find out what food indeed had this kind of miraculous appetite suppression power. Alas, the cashier roused me from my magazine cover reading stupor with "Do you have a Kroger Plus Card?"

But, though I didn't get to find out what the magic bullet for obesity was, I was able to come up with one of my own. The only thing I could think of was any kind of fatal poison. One shot and your appetite would be gone forever. There is no way any other substance can live up to that claim.

Off to watch our latest Netflix selection. Oh boy, Oh boy!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Art, Music & Beauty

Your BloomingtonGirl has found three new things to be completely excited about. The first is pictured at left. The photo does not at all do this amazing piece of art justice, but it will have to do for now. You are looking at a 4 foot square piece made entirely of 78 rpm records that have been (obviously) cut into squares. Brad Fugate created it. It is big and bold and looks - if I do say so myself - just amazingly great on our living room wall. I love it every time I walk by it and it makes me happy just to look at it.

Another new passion of mine is Amy Winehouse, a 23 year old Brit who is an incredibly talented vocalist and an incredibly tragic mess. Think Billie Holiday mixed with Janice Joplin and some Diana Ross thrown in. You Tube has lots of videos. Check her out. Her music inspires me to write a screenplay using it as the soundtrack. Of course, I probably never will do that, but it might get me to finish a short story I've been working on sporadically for the last two years. Who knows. Anyway, I am blown away at her talent and at how messed up someone can make his or her own life.

And my third new passion, though passion is actually a strong word for something so little, is Clinique's Perfectly Real Makeup Foundation. I got a sample of it when I ordered my (now former) favorite tinted moisturizer from Sephora and even though it did not seem to be my color, I tried it on. I became instantly beautiful and radiant. Tomorrow, I shall purchase a bottle of this magic lotion.

In other news, I have been busy making preparations for Thanksgiving Dinner. I am trying to get completely organized ahead of time and so far, so good. Jack is put out because the only other kids coming are girls, but I imagine he'll get over it and behave nicely. But if not, he just won't get any pie.

Bye for now.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Too Busy

...to properly respond to all the comments that my little "I Hate People" post evoked. But, I will. So, stay tuned.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I Hate People


Well, not all people of course, but it would be fair to say that on some days, I could send at least half of them into some kind of extra-planetary exile and not give it a second thought.

Today's lucky winner of the trip to the far reaches of the galaxy was the completely clueless mom who was seated behind Chris and me at Jack's piano recital today. Her husband had set up his tri-pod and video camera on the end of the second row and she had seated her big fat stupid butt on the last seat in said row, directly behind not only Chris and me but two quite elderly people who can ill afford to catch the upper respiratory disease the clueless mother was providing for anyone in proximity. How so, you ask? I'll tell you. The clueless mom had brought her toddler, who, though well dressed - always reason for your BloomingtonGirl to give a benefit of the doubt - coughed continuously as if she was trying to, well, you know, HACK UP A FREAKING LUNG! The mother sat there with the consumptive babe for the entire hour, no matter that her (completely lacking talent) son played fourth in a line up of approximately twenty kids. For some reason, she felt compelled to remain in order to spread more of her daughter's germs hither and yon while other kids, complete strangers to her, no doubt, played their little hearts out. Not only was this child spewing virus on every surface within ten feet of her wet infected mouth, she was making continual noise, which, was very distracting to anyone who was trying to at least feign interest in the musical pieces played by the sweet, albeit not so gifted, students.

And, to add insult to injury, this pour little kid made a rather odoriferous mess in her diaper about fifteen minutes before the conclusion of the recital. The mom either didn't know or didn't care and the result was that the many people right next to them were treated to the unpleasant eau de poop that resulted.

By the end of the recital, I had decided to speak to the clueless mother and point out the errors of her ways to her. Alas, however, my husband beat me to the punch, mumbling something to her (in medical-speak) about her daughter spewing micro-droplets all over and how it would be a miracle if we didn't all get sick.

Part of me felt a little bad about things getting unpleasant, but the larger part of me thought that this woman deserved more than that even. I wanted to shake her and tell her to get clue, that when attending a music recital of any kind (or an event at which people were in close proximity) she should dedicate herself to the greater public health and leave her consumptive child at home.

In other news, I have had several inquiries about what I have been up to since I have not been fulfilling my blogging duties over the past period of time. Well, Loyal Readers who asked where in the Sam Hill I have been, I thank you for noticing my absence. I want to reassure you that I am not going away forever. I have just been extremely busy with two things that take up most of my time when Jack's in school: Cardinal Stage and obsessing about the many many pounds that have found their way to my midsection.

I had planned to write more, but, to be completely honest, my eyelids are getting heavy and I think that it is time I hit the hay. We had a little bonfire on our patio this evening (we have a fabulous fire pit that we don't use nearly enough) and sipped wine and roasted marshmallows with another family. Between the wine and the delicious fresh cold air and the relaxing flames hopping around, I am, in a word...pooped.

So, I am off to read The Omnivore's Dilemma, the content of which is worth an entire post, believe me.

Good Night, Oh Loyal Ones. Thanks for not giving up on your BloomingtonGirl.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Southpaw for a Day

Hello Again, oh Loyal Ones. I am rather surprised to be typing again so soon, but my hand actually works fairly well even in this bandage. When I have to type top-row letters with my middle or ring fingers of my right hand, I do feel a slight discomfort. But, knowing how worried you must have been about your BloomingtonGirl upon reading that she was to have surgery, I rose above my excruciating(ly mild) discomfort to write you this post.

I have spent most of the day watching season six of Sex & The City. Unfortunately, I couldn't watch the entire season because I was unable to watch episodes five through eight. It appears that our older daughter (whose name I won't mention in order to protect her privacy) lost that particular disc out of the set that Santa so generously and thoughtfully gave her last Christmas. But, I'm not annoyed or anything.

To add to my not unexpected guilt of doing nothing constructive all day, I just finished eating two cookies. Admittedly, they were divine, but after having seen how much I actually do weigh (they weighed me before surgery...a complete invasion of my privacy and, more importantly, denial!) I need to have a little less delicious in my life to be sure.

Interestingly, getting weighed might have been the most unpleasant thing about the surgery, which was pretty quick and painless. I elected to have no drugs but to just have a nerve block, which makes the whole thing much easier. When I had surgery on my wrist almost seven years ago, I had a violent reaction to the sedation meds and decided that this time, I didn't want to spend my day throwing up. Though, when I take into consideration my official poundage on the medical scale, it might have well advised.

The actual procedure took about ten minutes, during which I bantered back and forth with my delightful surgeon - also a friend of ours. The weirdest part was not being completely awake, it was that during the actual surgery, a real tourniquet was applied and the sensation of having that on for ten minutes was a completely new one. My hand felt as if electrical current was being applied to it. It was a bit bizarre, too, because while there was no pain, there was a pushing and pulling sensation when he was cutting things open and cutting things out (I think that is what he did.) I said to him - quite honestly - that he had made me feel things that no man had ever made me feel before.

In other news, this paltry little procedure has made me realize what a pain in the ass sick person I would be. I make it so hard for anyone (Chris) to do anything for me and after a while (in his case, a pretty brief while) I am just plain annoying to be around. Having taken care of a few very sick people in my day, I should know better than to be like that. The best patient is one who tells you exactly what you need and lets you do it for them.

Well, I am off to rest. Might as well. Tomorrow, I am back in the saddle.

Monday, October 29, 2007

So Long Pesky Trigger Finger

Good Evening Loyal Readers. Here is your BloomingtonGirl in her PJs holding up her right hand. This is my before picture. Before surgery, that is. Tomorrow, my dainty little paw is going under the knife -- worry not, I think that it is a small knife -- for the removal of a pesky over sized tendon-tumor-thing-a-ma-bob that is causing me to have a rather uncomfortable and rather pronounced case of Trigger Finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis.

I plan to lie around for the entire day after my twenty minute so-called minor surgery and read my latest book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, watch old Sex & The City episodes, and perhaps even doze off from time to time. In short, I plan to milk the forced non-use of my dominant hand for all that it is worth.

As soon as I am able to type again, I will report back on how well I did at doing nothing.

(PS...I finished Middlemarch and was sad to see it end. What a treasure!!)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Spinster Weds"

...was what was printed on the little party favor tags at the wedding I attended on Saturday evening. It was in keeping with the humor that pervaded the elegant evening celebrating the marriage of my terrific cousin Melissa to her wonderful new husband, Tim. Melissa is a first time bride at age 47 and I think that is incredibly neat. She and the groom graduated high school together but their paths didn't cross in earnest until their 25th high school reunion a few years back. I've known Melissa since I was a wee little girl and I knew Tim in high school. We grew up in a town where everyone knew everyone else.

I think that they make a great couple. They are SO happy. Hooray for true love!!!

The wedding was near my hometown of Herkimer.

Chris was working all weekend, so Jack and I flew by ourselves to upstate NY. Jack was an unexpectedly angelic kid most of the time. (Unexpected because he pitched a fit over going on the trip the night before we left and prompted me to prepare for the worst.)

For the first two nights, we stayed in the sadly decaying Herkimer with my parents, where we ate copious amounts of spaghetti and meat balls and Yetty's pizza. I have written about the Herkimer dietary experience in past blogs, so I will just say here that I truly despair of having anything else that my mother might cook for the rest of my life. For some reason, she cooks only spaghetti and meat balls when we visit. The first night we arrive we have that and on subsequent nights, we eat at Yetty's (I don't mind, it is my favorite pizza in the whole entire world) or we eat variations on the spaghetti and meatball theme at my parent's house. The last two nights of this trip, we stayed in Springfield Center, NY with my beloved friend Cindy, and her equally beloved family and got to eat other kinds of food. Every time I visit Cindy, I implore Chris to consider buying a retirement place in that area. It is so incredibly beautiful there.

One fun thing about this trip was that I got to hang out with both of my sisters at the wedding. Stacie, my younger sister attended without her husband and my older sister Kim's husband ignored us for the most part, so we were on our own. For those of you who didn't grow up with us, my sisters and I have pretty much nothing at all in common and we are rarely - almost never - in touch. That said, it was really fun to be with them at this wedding. My little sister rode with me to the restaurant from my parent's house and other than almost being asphyxiated by her perfume and hairspray, we got along famously and had quite a few laughs.

She fascinates me because no matter how much weight she puts on - and lately, if I can be absolutely honest, there is a great deal of weight- she ALWAYS gussies herself up in a big bold way and believes that she looks fabulous. And, the result of that attitude is that she does look fabulous. There isn't a self-conscious bone in her body. It probably helps that no matter what she is wearing or what occasion she is dressing for, she displays a minimum of two inches of cleavage. At this wedding, there might have been more like four inches showing. I am awed by her complete body confidence. Well, more honestly, I am a bit envious of her cleavage. I'm not even envious in a greedy way. I'd settle for a mere half inch of my own cleavage. That's not so much for a girl my size, right?

Now, back to the Spinster thing. Your BloomingtonGirl was once legally classified as a Spinster. When I was in my early thirties and single, I bought a house. When I got to the closing, I was surprised to see myself described on the documents as "Joni L. Ruller, Spinster". For some reason, marital status seems to be incredibly important in an official description of a person, doesn't it?

Spinster, Married woman, Divorcee, Widow. That about covers the stages following "Maiden". My question is when does a female cross the threshold from "Maiden" to "Spinster"? Is the hymen involved? Does it have something to do with clothing or style? Or is it strictly an age thing? If age is involved in the never married classifications, might there be an "Old Maid" category? And if so, at one point does one go from "Spinster" to "Old Maid"?

For men, I guess the categories might be Young Buck (really, what is the male equivalent of maiden?), Eligible Bachelor, Married man, Divorced man, Widower. If a man doesn't marry, he becomes a regular old Bachelor, but at what age does this label kick in? And if he is gay, does he still get classified as a Bachelor, or is there some other legal label for him?

Ah, these are the topics swirling in your BloomingtonGirl's head when she is not thinking about cleaning grout or fashion trends or whether her lovely son will get sent to the "office" tomorrow like he did today. When I was pregnant, I swear I put in my order for a perfect kid. If only I could find that receipt, I might be able to get some sort of discount after the fact.

In other news, I am still enjoying Middlemarch immensely and I am nearing the last part of the book. What a masterpiece! And speaking of that, I am off to cozy up in bed and read away.

Good night my Loyal Ones!

Monday, October 15, 2007

BloomingtonGirl Gets Rid of Grout and Attempts to Accept her Gadangadang Butt

Let's deal with the first topic, shall we? The Master Bath Shower in our home has been a source of frustration for me since we moved in. In fact, I have whined about scrubbing the monstrously large shower right here in this very blog, now that I think of it. It wasn't so much the labor of scrubbing that got me down. We all know I like to clean. It was the lack luster result of all that scrubbing that got me depressed. No matter what technique I tried, or promise-laden product I used, I could NOT get rid of the black mildew stains in what I believed to be previously white grout around the edges of the floor of the shower. It just looked so bad, no matter how "clean" the shower seemed to be. To show for my many attempts to conquer this problem, I have a cupboard full of both environmentally safe cleaners (completely COMPLETELY useless on mildew or anything nearing mildew) and environmentally destructive cleaners (surprisingly almost as completely useless as their eco-safe cousins).

The other day, I hit a real low with this and the other topic of this posting, my Gadangadang butt. After cleaning the shower in vain one last time on Saturday, a particularly "fat" day, I actually sat down (on the toilet....how pathetic is THAT?) and cried real tears over the stubborn mildew stains in the shower and the stubborn and growing fat stores on my hips, butt and thighs. I suppose I should be ashamed to admit that I cried over these trivial things when for most people in the world, life is full of REAL suffering and REAL problems. But, your BloomingtonGirl must be truthful even if the result of that brave truth telling shows her to be the shallow girl that she is. I'll say it again. I really did cry (albeit for a brief time) about the mildew in the shower and the weight I have gained.

Pitiful but true, Loyal Ones.

But, fret not. Your BloomingtonGirl is not one to stay down for the count for too long. I went to my Oracle and typed in the words "cleaning mildew grout" and found a treasure trove of advice on how to rid myself and my grout of this pesky problem. (Nothing on weight loss popped up, but I had planned to tackle that problem separately anyway.)

I chose one site called something like "Ask the Contractor" and decided to follow his advice to the letter. Suddenly, I had a new hope ! I couldn't wait to get up the following morning to try his method, which boiled down is basically this: you scrub every surface of your sorry shower with a good cleanser and a nylon, stiff bristled brush to get rid of all the superficial crud. Then, you apply paper towels soaked in straight bleach (sorry Mother Nature!) to the mildewy areas and let them sit for a few hours. Proper ventilation is key. Very, very KEY. As are GLOVES.

Now, the best thing to do while the bleach is doing its work is to leave the house and run errands or go shopping for new clothes that fit your newly curvy bod. (more on that later)

After you are with your travels around town, you may return home and peel off the now almost disintegrated paper towels from the previously black mildew stains.

VOILA !!!!

Like magic, the black is gone and all you see is beautiful WHITE grout! Choking back the Chlorine fumes, you then rinse and rinse and rinse the shower and rejoice in the results. I wish I took a before picture so you could see how dramatic the results actually are. You will have to be content with the after photo, which I proudly display above.

Deep inside, I do feel guilty about using harsh chemicals. I try to avoid them for most household jobs. But, I am not going to lie. This is one area where I must turn a blind eye to my environmental concerns. The white grout is a seducer, Loyal Ones. It has me in its clutches now and there is no turning back. Should the dreaded black mildew pop up again, the bleach is coming right back out of its bottle. And, that's the end of it.

Now, on to the next topic. The acceptance of my booty come lately Gadangadang Butt. My commentary here will be brief for two reasons. One, it is getting very late and I want to go to bed and read Middlemarch and two, how much can one say on this topic that hasn't been said a million times before?

So, I have gained some weight, even while being completely physically fit. I can swim 2000 meters fairly easily, I do a spinning class two times weekly, and I take two Pilates classes a week. (Yes, I brag a bit but I want to make sure that my Loyal Ones don't get the idea that their BloomingtonGirl has completely let herself go.) My blood work is exemplary, though this is surely due to heredity rather than good eating habits. I favor tortilla chips over broccoli if you must know and I will never give up butter, milk, cheese or SALT, which though non-caloric causes some serious water retention.

Anyway, the situation has reached a crisis point as the season changes from summer (forgiving A-Line skirts, sundresses....you get the picture) to fall (not at all forgiving jeans and pants and tailored and slimmer skirts with demanding waistlines). I find myself with little to wear that doesn't make me appear as a Blivet. (also known as ten pounds of sh#! in a five pound bag)

I am ambivalent about this extra weight. Part of me is made crazy by it, as Loyal Readers might expect, knowing that their BloomingtonGirl is pretty obsessed with her weight (and facial pore size). To be fair, there is another part of me that isn't much bothered by it and is not phased by my new, shall we say, lushness. (or perhaps more accurately my new Tush-ness?) But, no matter how I feel about my flabby-come-lately, there remains the issue of covering it appropriately.

So it comes down to this. To shop or not to shop? For to shop would accommodate this new real estate and it might stick around for good or get the godawful idea that it can expand further. Do I really want that? But to not shop would be to look awful and be uncomfortable much of the time while I starve myself, which frankly, I am not in the mood to do right now.

Stay tuned for BloomingtonGirl's decision on this pressing question.

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's Going to be Really FUN!



















Loyal Readers, I urge you to check this out! Shoctoberfest! will soon open at the Waldron Art Center and my advice is that you get your tickets NOW so you don't miss out on the fun.

More information can be had at:

Cardinal Stage Company

More later on the adventures of your BloomingtonGirl.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Just Checking In

So that my Loyal Readers don't wonder if I have run off to join the circus, I thought I should check in and say hello.
I have been frightfully busy with all sorts of stuff, not the least of which was plannig Jack's birthday party and hosting my wonderful in-laws who are here visiting. I just have not had too much time to write.

Perhaps tomorrow I will renew my posting in earnest.

Until then, Loyal Ones.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Our Fourth Lotus

Another amazing Lotus begins.
I just cannot believe there are people in this town who have never been.
I keep hoping that our friends and family from out of town will see the light and join us for this unbelievable weekend of music and celebration.

Here are links to three bands we saw tonight.
More later.
It is late.

MC Rai
17 Hippies
Red Stick Ramblers

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Burger & Fries Anyone?

Good Afternoon, Loyal Ones. Seven years ago today, Jack was born. It seems like an entire lifetime ago. Besides reflecting on how completely different my life has become since becoming a mother, I have been baking. We are not having Jack's official birthday party today, but he has his two best friends over for a little pizza party followed by the "Happy Burgers" pictured here. Aren't they adorable? I would like to say that I thought up the design myself, but it came straight out of a book I borrowed from the library entitled Hello Cupcake. Jack is thrilled with them.

For Jack's official birthday party, I am going to make a spaghetti and meatball cupcake thing. It is chocolate cupcake "meatballs" on a mound of icing piped in the shape of "spaghetti". Red jelly serves as the sauce. It appeals to my taste not at all, but I am not the birthday boy, now am I?

This year, I made my own birthday cake because we had a series of little scheduling mishaps resulting in, well, me making my own cake. I made one that was fast and easy and wonderful. It also happens to be one of my husband's favorite. It is an Italian Yeast Raised Cake and you can find the recipe right here.

I hope you make that cake, Loyal Ones. You will thank me.

Well, I am off to clean up the kitchen and lament the fact that I ate a few too many cupcake middles that were left over from making the Happy Burgers.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bloomingtongirl Sizzles

So, Loyal Readers, what do you think of BloomingtonGirl's new look? I figured that there was no point in aging gracefully so I went under the knife and the air brusher. The new real estate on my chest is a bit hard to get used to - especially when I work out- but I am confident that I will soon get the hang of it. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to reveal that in this photo, I am wearing a wig. After all, my Loyal Readers know that BloomingtonGirl does not have long tresses.

One of my sisters-in-law was responsible for placing me on the cover of Hustler and presenting it to me for my 45th birthday. My first choice for my second magazine cover (I was once on the cover of Food Technology Magazine, if you must know) would not likely have been Hustler, though I am certain that it does indeed have very nice articles. (For example, consider one such piece of literature in the current edition entitled "Big Thrills at the Midget Rodeo".) I would probably opt to be on my beloved Vogue wearing something with a bit more coverage, but a cover is a cover and BloomingtonGirl must gracefully accept whatever fame comes her way after all.

I am now off to bed to continue my quest to finish Middlemarch. Even sex objects such as your BloomingtonGirl have to keep our minds developed.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

BloomingtonGirl Takes a Look at Herself

Greetings Loyal Readers on this fine Sunday evening. Fine, because it is close to Jack's bedtime and I have made it through the day in a relatively sane manner. Chris left for work at 11AM and will return later this evening, so I have been on point ALONE with my soon-to-be seven year-old ALL DAY. Now, I know that there are some of those Mighty Moms reading this who might think, Big Deal, Pansy Lady! What is so GD hard about spending a day with your kid?

In response, I say, if you really do have to ask, perhaps this isn't the blog for you.

Now that I am comfortably settled into being 45, I thought it would be a good time to take a hard look at myself. You know, take inventory. (The problem with taking a look at myself in the above picture is that I have to then look at myself in profile and see that I have the unsightly nasolabial fold thing going on - yes, that is really the technical term - and that I am a poster child for Restylane.) That, however, is a topic for another time. One which might be covered in concert with Botox, perhaps.

Anyway, I figure that if I live to 90, I am at my mid-point. Some might find this math optimistic, but why shouldn't I live to 90? I swim several miles a week, take a cycling class, do Pilates, eat a wide variety of foods, drink red wine and don't smoke. On the other hand, I cheat with the tension in the cycling class, eat far too much of this wide variety of foods and truth be told, my unchecked downfall is the entire salty snack category. Plus, while I do indeed drink red wine, I probably drink too much of it, and not wanting to be a wine bigot, I indulge in white wine as well. Then, of course, there are the way too many cups of coffee I drink per day, my poor sleep habits (late to bed, early to rise), and the incredible stress I heap upon myself for fairly trivial reasons. Hmm. Maybe I won't make it to 90.

No matter, I will just assume that I am somewhere at the middle aged point for the purpose of my little how-am-I-doing-at-midlife evaluation.

And, how am I doing? In complete seriousness, I have to say pretty well. I am far more sane than I had ever imagined I could be and not nearly as fat as I feared I would be in my forties. The quality, joy and stability of my marriage long ago surpassed what the single me could have conjured-up in her wildest imagination. And, periodic parenting despair aside, I am consistently grateful for and reasonably content with my lot in life. And content is saying a LOT. I used to think that content meant bored. I couldn't have been more wrong. Content is a luxury I relish.

Well, I am off to brush my fangs and attempt to read more than five pages of the sumptuous Middlemarch before I nod off. Before I go, however, I would like to recommend a movie that Chris and I rented recently. Zodiac. Long, but completely riveting. One of the best movies I have seen in years.

Bye for now, Oh Loyal Ones.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!!

This cake has nothing to do with me, Loyal Readers, but I found it in my search for birthday cake images and I thought it was hilarious.















Perhaps a more appropriate cake for yours truly is the one below. Isn't it just darling?
















I am planning to do a nice long swim today while Jack is at a friend's house for a play date. After my swim and before Chris and I go out for dinner tonight, I am going to go shopping and pick up a nice little birthday gift for myself, wrap it and give it to my husband to present to me at dinner. I daresay that a more thoughtful wife has not lived.


Besides world peace, small pores and being a size four, here are some items that have been on my birthday gift wish list, but I don't think that I will be so extravagant as to purchase any of these (except perhaps the Lucchese Cowboy boots which I might order from Zappos today). Of course, I adore the red boots but in my current life, I just won't get enough wears per $$ to make them even a remotely good value. Just looking at them make me feel like a million bucks. They just rock.



In other news, Jack brought me breakfast in bed today for my special day. This was a completely unsupervised effort because Chris is working this weekend. I heard him rummaging around in the kitchen and finally, he appeared with a plate in hand. He said, "Mommy, I made you bread and butter, but I used the soft butter from the pantry and it didn't taste right. Do you still want it?" I quickly realized that the "soft butter" was a stick of butter flavored Crisco, so I declined the bread and butter combo. No worry, though, more was on the way. Next on the menu was a bowl of Crispix. Jack proudly brought in the bowl and said, "Mommy, I put cottage cheese on it instead of milk, because I thought the milk might spill." Clearly, Jack gets his culinary talent from his father.

More later on my birthday report. I am off to swim.

Oh, and by the way, in case you are wondering, I am 45.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Shoe Lust

Loyal Readers! Aren't these gorgeous? I just gotta have 'em. They speak directly to my already crazy shoe-lust. They are a delicious combination of sweet and sexy and sophisticated. (I know, you are thinking, Wow! That's a description of YOU, BloomingtonGirl!) They are made of pink hair-calf! I never knew that Pink Baby Cows existed. I do hope they harvest this hair humanely and responsibly.

The real problem is, endangered pink baby cows or not, that the price tag on these little darlings is $550, and I would never in a million years spend that...not even close.

Still, a girl can dream, right?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bloomington Girl Gets Started Too Late

Oh, Loyal Readers! Your BloomingtonGirl is so very tired. It is almost midnight and I am waiting for my pear butter to be done. In an ill-advised manner, I started to make said butter at about 8:45 this evening. I didn't realize that one (among several) step in the process took a full 55 minutes until I was well underway peeling the pears and at that point, it was too late to stop. So, here I am, waiting with great anticipation for the timer to go off. I cannot wait to get myself into bed.

I am making Spiced Pear Butter from a recipe that I found on Epicurious.com. It came out well, but it is just slightly too sweet. This weekend there should still be Pears at the farmer's market so I shall try again, this time with more lemon juice and less sugar. But, still, it is rather tasty. The recipe includes wine, cloves and vanilla bean so how bad could it be? I used a variety of Pear called Honey Sweet and I purchased them from a wonderful fruit seller at the market. When I mentioned that I was going to make Pear Butter, he offered to sell some pears to me at a discount. These were pears that "had gotten a little riper than I would like" he said. So, I bought eight pounds and he charged me a mere five smackers.

Yippee! The timer just went off. I am signing off!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bloomington Girl Buys A Wine Cube

At Target, no less.

One of my new friends - a woman of great taste and wit - recently said to me that she drank Target Wine-in-a-Box on occasion. She said that it wasn't bad. So today, I decided to pick a box up at Target, though for wine buying purposes, I should call it Tarzhay. Either way, I purchased a "mini cube" of California Pinot Grigio. You can see it pictured at left, along side a tissue box for a size comparison. This little box contains the equivalent of TWO bottles of wine and costs a mere $9.99. I could have purchased a regular cube but that seemed quite excessive. The regular cube contains the equivalent of FOUR bottles of wine for about $16.

So, how is it? It is not bad. Not bad at all. It drinks WAY better than a $5.00 bottle would drink, not that I would ever admit to drinking one, of course. The drawback to the wine in a box concept, though, is that you cannot see how much is gone, and I think that is an important visual guide when drinking wine, don't you?

In other news, Chris cut Jack's hair tonight with scissors rather than with the clippers, with which he has at least some experience. Let's just say that the results confirm my belief that paying for someone to cut Jack's hair four times a year is more cost effective than what we are going to have to spend in therapy dollars helping him get over the emotional wounds he will suffer from having these homespun haircuts. I think that this time around, my husband saw the light. I just hope Jack doesn't take a good look in the mirror tonight before going to bed. I sort of rushed him into the shower after the damage was done, hoping to buy some time before he realizes how badly his hair has been butchered. Last time his father cut his hair, he wept - wept - about how short is was. He might long for his last haircut when he gets a look at this one...

It brings back memories of a similar torture suffered by your BloomingtonGirl at the hands of her well meaning mother. When I was about six, my mother decided that I had to have a pixie cut. Why my older gum chewing sister got to grow her hair and I did not, I have never understood. But, having covered the issue in painful detail in therapy, I don't feel the need to delve into it here. Anyway, I had to go to this hairdresser down our little street (formally called Bellinger Ave but widely known in town as Pig Tail Alley). The hairdresser's name was Olga Hair. Yes, you read that correctly. Olga had a little salon in her house, on the second floor. My mother took me there (many times, I might add) for my pixie cut. The worst part of it was that Olga would put powder down my back afterward for some reason and I just remember it smelled bad and made me itch. When my mother did allow my hair to grow beyond the pixie from time to time, she often made a little pony-tail on the top of my head. I don't know why she did this. Perhaps it was to satisfy some crazy notion she had. I just remember it gave me a headache.

But, enough about the childhood of your BloomingtonGirl. It is time for the adult BloomingtonGirl to wash her face, study the size of her pores, apply moisturizer, kiss Jack goodnight and settle down with Middlemarch.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Cranberry-Raspberry Preserves & Some Hot Peppers, Too

I have been canning up a storm again. In the past three days, I put up some pickled hot peppers and two double batches of Cranberry-Raspberry Preserves. I am posting some photos here for your viewing pleasure. Don't tell my dermatologist, okay?



Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Must Have

Loyal Readers, have you ever seen such a delightful bandage? Forget Shrek, Peanuts, Princess Bandages. Now you can have THE MAN watching over your boo-boo. Very healing, I think. I have to order them if only to find out what the "Free Toy Inside!" is.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Finest Man I Know

Is, of course, my husband, Chris. Now, don't get your agates in an uproar, (as my mother used to day) Loyal Male Readers. Each of you is no doubt, just as fine. But none of you, or anyone else for that matter, is finer. It just isn't possible. My husband is just a great guy with a good and loving heart, complete integrity, a fine character and a wonderful sense of humor. He is also one of the smartest people I know and always does the right thing. And he is handsome, completely unassuming and modest. How can you beat that?

I can honestly say that I am one of the most happily married people I know and I believe that I can speak for my husband and say that he is as well. Every day, I say to my husband at least once, sometimes twice "Honey, thanks for everything and I'm sorry for everything." We laugh and agree that that just about covers everything and anything.

If I had to say what makes a marriage a happy one, I would say it is at least 33.3% dumb luck that you meet a good person and remain compatible over time, 33.3% not taking yourself too seriously and 33.3% of a million other little things that pile up over time. My husband might say it simply takes a thick skin and a short memory. That happens to also be his formula for a happy life, which when you think about it, is completely true.

In my case, being happily married is made easier by having so luckily chosen such a fine mate to spend my life with. I feel fortunate every day to be married to Chris. He agrees with me. This morning, he said, "Happy Tenth Anniversary, Honey. You are a very lucky girl."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Scary Momster

Now, look at this photo, Loyal Readers, and tell me what kind of mother would ever think of running away, far away, where nobody would ever find her, from this gorgeous and sweet child?

I'll give you a hint...she writes this very blog.

Yep, it's true, Loyal Ones. I wanted to run away last weekend. It was the WORST weekend I can remember since, well, maybe the previous weekend or perhaps the weekend before that.

For most of the three-day weekend, Jack was overtired and chronically whiny and pissed because he didn't have a playmate for every minute of every day. It was a rotten combination of emotions, believe-you-me and I nearly had a nervous breakdown being around it. I finally understood what my mother used to say when I was growing up. She would say, "Sometimes, I just want to run away far in the woods where nobody can find me." To be fair, growing up hearing things like that from my mother did lead to years of therapy, but hey, at least she was honest. There are just some days when being a parent can be way more than I ever bargained for. For me, those days most often fall on weekends and holidays. When Jack's in school, I find that I am quite happy to be a mother.

It isn't that I don't love my kid. I love him beyond my own comprehension and the bottom line is that I wouldn't trade this experience for being without him. He is funny and smart and creative and so many many good things. It is just that he's about to turn seven and gives not a fig about doing ANYTHING his parents might want to do. He is not one of those kids who even thinks about pleasing his parents or getting their approval.

And besides, what sane adult wants to spend all waking hours playing games that a seven year-old makes up? (This is meant to be rhetorical, but just in case there is any doubt, I shall answer NOT ME. I am, of course, happily willing to spend some time, but all day? Can't do it. I'm just not wired that way.)

I have thought long and hard about this and I conclude that the solution to having a happy family is two-fold. First, I will make sure that I have an arsenal of babysitters so that my husband and I can occasionally do some things on weekend days together without a very vocal and unhappy Jack in tow to make things miserable. And, second, I vow to PLAN AHEAD for playmates to come over. There. Now, we can live happily ever after and maybe Jack won't need too much therapy from being around his Momster.

In other news, today I made Pomegranate Jelly which came out more like Pomegranate Syrup. I think that I shall rename it and be done with it. What's in a name? Sometimes everything.

In other other news, tomorrow is our ten year wedding anniversary. More on that tomorrow.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

BloomingtonGirl Gets Seedy

Sunday Greetings to my Loyal Ones. I am glad to report that I am indeed a tad happier today than I was yesterday, though not a bit thinner.

Yesterday at the wonderful Bloomington Farmer's Market, one of my favorite farmers had pints and pints of raspberries for sale. I saw them and immediately decided that I would make Raspberry Jam. I had in mind a recipe I'd seen in a great little canning book I just got but couldn't remember the specifics. I figured whatever I needed besides raspberries, I could just go out and get. I purchased my five pints of raspberries for a king's ransom and went home to make my jam.

Well, it turns out that was wrong about being able to just go out and get whatever else I might need. This particular recipe called for homemade pectin. The author wrote that raspberries were low enough in pectin to require added pectin to get the right consistency but that she didn't choose to use commercial pectin because commercial pectin requires more sugar than she wanted to use.

I looked up other raspberry jam recipes but they had much more added sugar than the one I had in mind, and I didn't want an overly sweet jam. So, I decided to go all the way and make my own pectin. It seemed so simple.

Because I know that my Loyal Readers will now be eager to make homemade pectin, I shall briefly describe the process.

First, you boil pounds and pounds of granny smith apples in some water.














Then, you put the boiled, squishy apples in cheesecloth sacks and let them hang over a pot all night so that the pectin stock drains out. (Your kitchen will now smell exactly like a fruit processing plant. For me, this was a good thing. It brought back old memories of working in the food industry.)

In the morning, you concentrate the pectin stock 2X by boiling it and then is ready to use.

Voila. Homemade pectin.

I made the jam today (as you will see in the picture above) using the homemade pectin. The jam tastes great, but it is, in a word, SEEDY. I suppose I could have made seedless jam but let's face it. Once you remove the seeds (by God knows what tedious method), you wouldn't have anything left to can.

And, of course, you are wondering...Did the homemade pectin provide superior results? Hard to say, because I don't have a control batch using commercial pectin.

In any event, I doubt I will go to the trouble (and expense) of making raspberry jam again, especially with homemade pectin. Peach preserves are easier and better.

But, like so many one time things, it was a good experience and made me feel as if I was channeling Laura Ingalls Wilder or someone like that.

In other news, there isn't much. I am continuing to enjoy Middlemarch, though I haven't had enough time to read lately. Tonight, though, I am getting into bed early with that wonderful book and am going to read 'till my heart's content, or until my eyes shut.

Tomorrow, I will put up some Pomegranate jam (I have been meaning to do that for weeks now) and perhaps some pickled peppers. Not a peck, though.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

A Long Day

Hello, Loyal Readers. Your BloomingtonGirl is out of sass today, low energy, a little blue. You get the idea. First let me say that I do realize that each one of my ridiculous problems are indeed luxury ones. I feel fortunate every single day to not be in a war zone where I live in fear, cannot feed my child or get him remotely adequate health care. (Remember, it is easy to write to your congressional reps and urge them to get the hell out of Iraq NOW.) Alas, I digress. Where was I? Oh, yes, my petty little problems.


First of all, as you can see in the photo at left, I am suddenly very very fat. As I was walking today, I was reflecting on how much time and energy I spend thinking about the size of my body, mostly the part of my body the bottom of my rib cage down to my knees. The rest of me doesn't bother me terribly much especially now that I am managing my pore size to my satisfaction, but the rib to knee expanse area takes up WAY too much of my mental space. And to be accurate, the actual physical space that the area takes up, while annoyingly larger than it used to be, isn't all that shocking or alarming for a woman my size. Still, I am really put out by the size of myself lately. But even as I ponder this and give in a bit to despair, I have to wonder what other worry would fill my mental space if I no longer obsessed about whether I am thin or fat?

There is never an in between, of course. It's an either / or question not to be confused with a real multiple choice test:

Circle the answer which best describes your figure:

a) Thin
b) Fat
c) Just Right
d) Depends on the time of month )

Second of all, I had to live with an overtired frustrated kid, who in turn had to deal with his overtired, frustrated and fat mother. It was just one of those days where no matter what we were doing, some kind of whining would erupt (I am ashamed to say it wasn't always Jack's) or an argument would ensue. I have to be honest. I spent most of the day looking forward to Jack's bedtime. Go ahead, call the Perfect Mommy Brigade. See if I care.

I am sure that there was a "third of all" but I am too tired to remember it.

More later when I am thinner and better rested.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Distracted by the Bird

The Cardinal, that is. As in the Stage Company. Your BloomingtonGirl has been working hard, raising money for this exciting theatre company.

(I haven't checked with our admin person to see if any checks with BloomingtonGirl in the memo line have arrived at our PO Box, but I am sure that my loyal readers won't let me down. For mailing information, see the post previous to this one.)

I am finding that this development work is the perfect combination of working with theatre (which I have always LOVED) and doing business development (which I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed). And, it is for an organization about which I am totally excited.

The downside is that I am not writing as much and am not keeping my correspondence up - either on the phone or in this blog. I hope that my friends will cut me some slack on my being a bit AWOL lately.

In other news, I have been following the dermatologist's orders and I have not been doing any canning. However, tomorrow if time allows, I am going to put up some Pomegranate jam and later in the week, I am going to make a large batch of Chow Chow. The jam requires no cutting or chopping so it shouldn't bother my hands at all. The Chow Chow is a different story altogether. It requires chopping 15 pounds of stuff. But, my loyal readers will be happy to know that I plan to take really good care of my hands in the process and pamper them in a big way afterward. If my hands suffer a bit, well, so be it. I am just crazy for this Chow Chow and MUST put up at least one more batch before the fall. Call me reckless and wild. Go ahead. It won't stop me, no siree.

In other other news, I had to dish out a very large consequence to my very spoiled little son today. Because I have not been getting the proper mothering job done, he is accustomed to making large messes, mostly of gazillions of small Lego pieces and not cleaning them up. This is the case in his bedroom especially.

This morning, I told him - quite nicely, I might add - to clean up the Legos and wooden blocks that were all over his bedroom floor in order that I could vacuum the floor later. I told him that I would help so that we could get to school on time. He pitched an absolute fit and if you had been listening outside the door to his carrying on about what he had been told to do, you would have surmised that he was having his eyelashes torn out one by one. Such torture!

Finally, I could take the carrying on no more and I kicked him out of his room and told him that I would clean it. He had wailed that he wanted things to be back to the way they were, meaning that I would clean up after him.

So, I agreed to just that, but with a catch. I told him (while on the drive to school) that I would clean up after him, but that he would be allowed to play with only the amount of toys I was willing to clean up.

While Jack was at school, I arranged his room to accomodate my new position.

When Jack went up to his room in the evening to get ready for bed, he saw a room empty of all of his toys except for the one toy (a truck) that I would be willing to clean up.

You can imagine how this went over. More tomorrow on that story.

I must go to bed now and read Middlemarch, a book I have started several times in the past but which had not previously held my interest. I am so interested now that I can't imagine what was wrong with me in the past.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Art on Ebay and Cardinal Stage

Don'tcha just love this woman? This painting was done by an artist who sells her work on Ebay. I was at the dermatologist office today when I spied a new painting there. It was resting on a chair, ready to be hung. I said - exclaimed more accurately- to my Esthetician (okay, Loyal Readers, I admit that I was there for cosmetic reasons, but more on that later...) that I LOVED the painting and Where DID she get that??!! And, she said, Ebay!

So, I looked up the artist and voila! there were several paintings up for auction. Unfortunately, NOT the one at left, which was posted on the artist's blog. I did ask whether it was sold in the hopes of getting my excemic little paws on it. Your BloomingtonGirl would have to have a representation of a redhead in stockings, after all.

I actually did bid on another painting and am waiting to see if I win it. I will post a picture of the lucky piece of art should it get the wonderful opportunity to hang in our oversized home.

In other news, I am completely engaged in doing development work (AKA fund raising) for Cardinal Stage Company. In fact, I think that each and every loyal reader should support their BloomingtonGirl by writing a (tax deductible) check RIGHT NOW to Cardinal Stage Company. Any amount is welcome...you decide. For fun, write BloomingtonGirl in the memo line, okay?

Send your checks to:

Cardinal Stage Company
PO Box 1253
Bloomington, IN 47402


I am completely serious about this, Loyal Readers. Think of it as your way of paying BloomingtonGirl for hours of fun entertainment every year. This theatre company is the real deal, people.

Well, I have to go and study my pore size. More later, I promise.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Katie Suggests a New Hobby

Apparently, my daughter Katelyn was reminded of a certain Phantom when she saw my last post, because she doctored the photo and sent it along with a note suggesting that I get a new hobby..."Piano?"

So, today, my wonderful husband and I went out and bought a new piano. Just because of this photo.

Well, not really. We actually did buy a piano today but it was because our lease on our junky rental piano was coming to a close.

Our new piano will arrive next Tuesday and I have to say that I am very excited to play my four or five songs on it. I only hope that my hands heal by then.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Doctor's Orders

Loyal Readers, your BloomingtonGirl's Canning Career has come to an abrupt and, may I say, tragic halt. I have developed a pretty severe case of eczema on my palms from over use! I saw the dermatologist this week and when she saw my little paws, she exclaimed, "Oh, Honey! You're a Mess!" and then, upon further examination, she added (to her assistant nurse) "Wow. She even has pustules!" Pustules! That is a word I had hoped would never be used in reference to me.

I would have shown you the actual view of the affected area, but it is BloomingtonGirl's goal to NEVER look like those dermatology case studies that I found on the web while researching the unfortunate condition visited upon me earlier this year, Scabies.

Anyway, to get this pesky condition under control, I have been ordered by my doctor to stop canning and to minimize putting my hands in water. Unfortunately, she didn't order me to stop cleaning our bathrooms or to stop cooking altogether. And, I have to apply medicated ointments and creams and wear these gloves whenever possible. It is a giant pain in the you know where.

What all this has made me realize is how much the smooth running of this household and family is based upon the health of my little hands! Perhaps I should have them insured much like some supermodels have their legs or other such parts insured. I had better go and look up Lloyd's of London and get that process started.