Thursday, December 13, 2012

I'm Melting!

This is a devotional-type piece I wrote several years ago - I came across it the other day and figured I would share.

 I like ice cream. Correction - I love ice cream. Something about the sweet, creamy goodness of the delightfully refreshing treat is just...heavenly.

My ice cream fetish and I currently reside in Gloucester, VA. It's a small town of less than 40,000 people, hidden neatly among a cluster of more commonly-known cities such as Richmond, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg. Due to Gloucester's small stature, its attractions are often left off the map, so to speak - that being the case, I would like at this time to call attention to one of the home-town treasures nestled right in the heart of our humble county. Next time you're passing through our quaint little village, be sure to indulge yourself in a little piece of (the ice cream lover's) heaven. Short Lane Ice Cream (located, of course, on Short Lane) is a family-owned business that offers home-made ice cream, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor atmosphere on the interior of its two-story building, additional seating outside, and a wide variety of flavors and styles in the ice cream family from which to choose. Ice cream, gelato, sorbet, oh my!

I was recently introduced to the wonder of Short Lane's "Blueberry" ice cream, which is now my newest favorite flavor. I'm telling you, that first bite changed my life. And I couldn't help but think that ice cream is a lot like the Christian walk.

Your first "taste" of Jesus will, on most occasions, completely change your life. You've never tasted anything so sweet, so refreshing, so...heavenly. But, if you just take one taste and don't progress on your journey with the Lord...if you merely ask Him to come into your heart but don't feed off of His Word, pray, seek to serve Him in your daily life, and give and receive encouragement from fellowshipping with other believers, you will begin to watch your Christian walk slowly just...melt away. The same is true of ice cream. If I simply took that first bite and didn't continue to indulge in the rest of my two (okay, three) scoops, then my ice cream would eventually just melt away; I would have missed out on the goodness and delight I could have derived from continuing to feed. Now, of course, if I were to continue eating, I would run the risk of getting a brain freeze or even a belly ache and, likewise, the Christian journey is not without its pain and times of discomfort...but the experience of eating the ice cream is worth it. Plus, the more you grow in the Lord, the more inspired you will be to share what you've found with others who have never tasted before or who have been exposed but, for whatever reason, have a bad taste in their mouth or a bad feeling on their insides in regards to it (we'll call those people "lactose intolerant").

The bottom line is that we don't order our favorite ice cream and let it sit in the cup and just melt away - and neither should we let our walk with the Lord go unnurtured and, likewise, melt away. It will still be there, yes, but it will be nothing more than a liquidy puddle of what could have been a solid and satisfying treat. And, of course, a growing relationship with Jesus is much more satisfying than even the most delicious-tasting frozen dessert (and way less fattening). Jesus was Bethlehem's own home-town treasure, and one that far surpasses anything anywhere else has to offer.

So, determine yourself to grow in your walk with the Lord. Go feast on the Word of God, say a little prayer, and encourage someone in the name of Christ. Treat yourself to as many scoops of Jesus as you want. And, while you're at it, go have a bowl of your favorite ice cream. (Although, you'll probably prefer the "growth" that ensues from Jesus as opposed to that which comes from the latter. I'm just saying.)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Top Ten Favs for November

My Top Ten Favorite Things For The Month of November are as follows:

Anthony and I went to Gloucester for Thanksgiving and I had lots of fun eating food, hanging out with family and friends, and Discussing Which Phrases A Pull-String Doll Version Of My Dad Would Say. Also, I would like to publicly apologize to my brother and sister-in-law for leaving the next day without saying goodbye - I had been told they were in their bedroom Being Married and I don’t like putting myself in potentially awkward situations unless I have a Twix in my back pocket. 

Anthony’s Birthday
My husband turned 25! Woohoo! Actually, 25 isn’t that all that sweet because you’ve pretty much already surpassed the Cool Milestone Birthdays – at least he can rent a vehicle now, and maybe our car insurance will go down or something. I am mighty glad that he was born though, and that he’s still alive - we even had a party to celebrate, for which I made these cute and incredibly delicious Starbucks Double Chip Frappuccino cupcakes. (Okay, this is the picture from the blog that I got the idea from, but these look more professional than mine, so.)

Breaking Dawn 2, or Kristen Stewart Still Can’t Act But I Can’t Help It If She Happens To Be Cast In Movies That I Find Enjoyable
Breaking Dawn 2 came out in November (I've heard I would find the writing style of the books completely odious if I were to read them but the movies are a guilty pleasure don’tjudgeme) and I went to see it opening weekend. It was really, really good, and it had a satisfying ending, which was nice. The fact that it was the last movie in the saga definitely added a bitter-sweet element to the whole thing (although I didn’t throw my arms around my girls and weep uncontrollably like the one chick with the glasses did).  Also, I hope Kristen enjoyed watching all her and Rob’s scenes together at the premier and thinking about how she’s a Cheater Cheater Punkin-Eater.

New Movie Theater
Which reminds me: we got a new movie theater in Charlottesville last month! It’s all newish and clean and ginormous and CLEAN and GINORMOUS. Plus, it’s literally right around the corner from our house. I can practically see our complex from the parking lot and we could easily walk there on a nice day. Not that we go to the movies often at all (and when we do we try to wait for things to come to the dollar theater), but if there’s something we really do want to see right away we now have a great theater option really close by. (All the more reason to see The Hobbit later this month.)

Christmas Preparations
On Thanksgiving weekend Anthony and I went Christmas shopping, which was tons of fun, and we put up our Christmas decorations. I’m honestly finding that I can only tolerate Christmas music in small doses this year (which is unusual for me), but I’m loving our lights and our tree and seeing all the wrapped gifts underneath. I love giving Christmas gifts and I love having Christmas lights to turn on as an alternative to Watching TV In The Pitch Black All Night which is what Anthony usually insists on unless I’m legitimately doing something that I need the lamps on for but now we can compromise by turning off the lamps and Watching TV In The Subtle Glow Of The Twinkle Lights which seems like a win to me.

We got to have a tasty lunch at Longhorn with Anthony’s parents and his Great Aunt Rebecca before they headed off on their Hawaii vacation! Thanks to my wonderful in-laws,Anthony and I have gotten to visit Hawaii twice, and I was really excited for Rebecca to be able to be able to experience it for the first time. Although if, as part of some Cruel And Undoubtedly Highly Uncalled For Joke,  that experience included L&L then, Rebecca, I am so, so sorry.  

This Chili
I was looking for a new chili recipe to try and stumbled upon this one. It’s now one of Anthony’s Top Two Favorite Chillis Of All Time, I believe. (Please note: If you decide to try the recipe, even if you never ever drink alcohol, please don’t leave the beer out. Please.)

 The Election Took Place And Now It Is Over.
Ding Dong The Political Propaganda Is Dead. That is all.

I got an iPhone 4, or I GOT AN IPHONE 4!!, or This Is Not Meant To Imply That There Is Anything Wrong With Smartphones That Are Not Also iPhones I Just Happen To Really Love My Phone And It Also Happens To Be An iPhone But I'm Sure Your Droid Is Awesome Too Unless It Is Old And Slow-ish Like Mine Was, So.
I got an iPhone and I love it LOVE IT. Conveniently, I dropped my old phone that wasn't working that well anyway into a dog bowl filled with water right after Anthony became eligible for an upgrade (winning) so, for a mere $30, I gained possession of my very own iPhone 4. I’ve never owned an iPhone prior to this but it is SOFREAKINGLEGIT and I’m pretty sure it can do everything except, like, the dishes. No, wait, I’m pretty sure there’s an app for that. There’s also an app for scooping the litter box, changing the oil in your car, breeding unicorns, ruling the world, and time travel. I even got a sweet pink and gray Otterbox case for it although, coincidentally, I haven’t dropped it one time, even though I used to drop my other phone, which was not in a case, at least once a day. The iPhone 4 – live it, love it, own it.

I Found Out Mumford & Sons Is Coming To Fairfax in February
I know.
And, just because they're cute and because I love them and because they are my most favorite things in any given month:
This has been my Top Ten (11?) Favorite Things For The Month Of November. Tune in next month for ten more examples of awesomeness.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Top Ten Favs for September/October

I’M BACK. I know, I know - I’m a slacker. I’ve been really distracted by some other projects recently, so.

But, I couldn’t let you get too far into November without telling you about my favorite things from the months of September and October (yes, I’m combining the two months into one list since, as previously mentioned, I’ve been a slacker and have neglected to update you on the goings-on of my life at all so far this fall). So, without further ado, My Top Ten Favorite Things For The First Half Of Fall 2012, (Possibly) In Order Of Their Occurence:

1. Fall Shopping
I'm sorry, did I mention FALL SHOPPING?

2. Teavana
Tea connoisseurs, rejoice! I am now the proud owner of my first-ever loose leaf tea steeper. I got a steeper, a warmer, and some nifty loose leaf teas from Teavana (the white tea I got comes in these little balls that BLOOM into a FLOWER when the tea is done steeping). The flavor quality of loose leaf tea is very good plus it just seems more legit to prepare it that way, kind of like how Anthony makes his coffee in the French press every morning except I wouldn’t know if that way is superior to other forms of coffee preparation because  I don’t actually drink coffee but I’ll take his word for it.

3. One Tree Hill and The Vampire Diaries
Did you know that One Tree Hill is one of the greatest shows ever? WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME? Anthony and I started watching it on Netflix in September and are already in season 8 (yes, we have a problem and, yes, I’m okay with it). I also watched all of the Vampire Diaries episodes that were on Netflix, just in time to get caught up for the new season. I tend to strongly enjoy (most) vampire-related shows/movies, particularlywhenthosevampiresareDamonSalvatoreYUM.  

4. Glee Season Premiere
The new Glee season premiered in September. I was afraid I might not like it anymore because the seniors graduated and people are scattered around now, but it’s actually been working for me so far. Except the last episode was so sad with everyone breaking up and crap - I cried. I should be ashamed to admit that but  I’ve cried at WAY sillier things than Glee, so. This Thursday will be the end of a month-long break (random?) so I’m looking forward to it starting back up again. Kurt and Rachel are two of my favorite characters so I'm glad they ended up in New York together. I don't why, but I just love Kurt to death.

5. Visit from Brian & Company
My baby brother, sister-in-law, and niece came to visit us at the end of September. It was tons of fun! We went to the orchard and Lexi and I made a cobbler with the yummy apples that we picked. Also, my brother told me that the combination of my burgundy skinny jeans and Most Comfiest Ever brown ankle boots from Express reminded him of both a hipster and that one episode of Full House where D.J. secretly procures a horse without her father’s permission. Thanks?

6. New iPod
My old ipod had a whopping 3G of memory on it - they don’t even sell them with storage space that small anymore; we actually got that one for free with a laptop. Granted it was free, and served its purpose, but it was somewhat disheartening having to pick and choose which downloaded music on the computer I wanted to upload to my device since, clearly, not even close to all of it was going to fit. My fantastical husband surprised me, however, and bought me a new one that has 160 gigs of memory – ONEHUNDREDANDSIXTY. I could pretty much put every album I ever even remotely liked on there, plus stuff of Anthony’s that I despise (except, why would I do that?) and still have room for more. I’ve really been enjoying it and enjoyed it even more about ten days after he gave it to me when I discovered that he had even gotten it engraved on the back (yes, I get the Most Observant Person Of The Year award, hands down).

7. Mumford & Sons/Taylor Swift
While we’re on the subject of music, Mumford & Sons and Taylor Swift released new albums in September and October, respectively, and since I had ROOM for them on my new ipod I made sure to procure them as soon as possible. Anthony and I have loved Mumford & Sons since back before it was trendy, AND I WAS SO EXCITED that they were finally putting out a new album – and even more excited that it was good. Taylor’s new album is definitely her most unique to date, mostly because she went way pop-y with it. I like that kind of music but I just adore Taylor and feared I might feel betrayed that she was straying from her country roots and jacking with the image of her music that I have so lovingly ingrained into my mind – I actually really enjoy the album, though. So thanks, Taylor, for not disappointing me and for making my husband like you more than he did when you only sang country music and for putting CHARLOTTESVILLE and DC on your 2013 tour schedule. Thank you.

8. We Decided To Go On Vacation
We decided to go on vacation! In January! At a super sweet cabin in the Smoky Mountains! I realize that you may be thinking, why are you mentioning this now? Shouldn’t you be doing that in January after you actually GO on vacation? Oh, I will. But the mere knowledge that we’re going is awesome enough to merit a spot in my list this time. I’m so excited.

9. Visit From Mom and Dad
Mom and Dad came to visit and it was fun. And I got to see Mom in this giant pair of waders with the overall straps and rubber boots attached and everything. So, that was a win.

10.   Hot Water In The Shower
Okay, I know you might be thinking, hot water? Doesn’t every first world individual have the opportunity experience this luxury every time they step inside the shower? Um, no. Up until last month my showers taken in our apartment were this Piss-Poor Lukewarm Or At The Most Technically Warm But Not Even Remotely Warm Enough Much Less Hot excuse for a proper bathing experience. I would actually dread having to take a shower because the experience was so Not Pleasant. Fun fact about me: I like my showers fricking hot. If my skin isn’t red when I get out, it wasn’t hot enough. So, you can imagine the disdain I felt towards showering in genral (I still did it, don't worry), up until last month when ALL OF A SUDDEN, FOR SOME UNKNOWN REASON, THE WATER STATRED COMING OUT HOT. Like, LEGITIMATELY HOT. Like, HOT BY MY STANDARS, hot. EVERY DAY. Granted, I can’t take a long shower if I want it to be hot the whole time, but I CAN LIVE WITH THAT. This has literally improved the quality of my existence by exponential proportions. You don’t even know.

So, that was my Top Ten Favorite Things From The First Half Of Fall 2012, (Possibly) In Order Of Their Occurence. Tune in next month (no, really) for ten more examples of awesomeness.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Top Ten Favs For August

My Top Ten Favorite Things For The Month Of August are, in no particular order, as follows:

Forrest Family Visit
Anthony's family came to Charlottesville for the weekend to visit and it was great to see everyone. My brother-in-law and his wife came up on Friday night and we had a lot of fun beating them in Taboo hanging out with them. His parents and our nephew arrived on Saturday - we went to Carter's Mountain Orchard to pick peaches, and had dinner at Peter Chang's where they served us Copious Amounts Of Chinese Food. After dinner we all took my nephew over to the playground in our complex to do Playgroundy Things, which my FIL thought included jumping off of a swing and ending up face down in the grass (no, Father-In-Law, you aren't actually supposed to play with the ground - silly rabbit). As much as Anthony and I enjoyed having them, I think Gabriel & Bella were relieved when everyone cleared out. Bella doesn't like People That Aren't Anthony And I, and Gabriel doesn't like People Taking Over His Space With All Of Their Dumb Stuff. Too bad they don't actually get a vote when we are deciding whether or not to invite someone to stay at our house.

$100 iTunes Gift Card
Anthony had to buy a new laptop in August because his finally crapped out and the one he ended up purchasing came with a $100 iTunes gift card which was pretty sweet. It's taking us a long time to decided which albums to purchase, as Anthony and I do not share a similar taste in music (aka: Gangsta Rap makes me want to stab Something Sharp in my ear and Many Other Kinds Of Music make him want to stab Something Sharp in his ear). We have managed to agree on the following, so far: Mumford and Sons' new album (that one was a given, although we had to pre-order it because it doesn't come out until the end of September), Queen (Greatest Hits album), and Jason Castro (the one with the Hallejuah cover on it). Most Random Trio Ever Award? Perhaps.

Girls Night
So, in August, I started getting together with my friends, Jenn & Dara, every Monday night to watch the Bachelor Pad. I had never seen it prior to these gatherings, but those two are very loyal fans of anything Bachelor/Bachelorette related and thought it would be sweet to make it a Thing. It'll be over in a couple of weeks, but we decided we should pick another show to watch after that because it's fun to get together and eat tasty snacks and watch Things That We Should Probably Be Embarrassed For Liking. It's like a car wreck or a Very Gross Woman who is completely falling out of her shirt - it's so bad, but you just can't tear your eyes away. If Nick wins, I will laugh for days.

(Speaking of guility pleasures) America's Next Top Model's 19th cycle premired in August and things are little different this time around. Fans actually have a voice in the judging process now, which has never happened before - I thought the change might annoy me but, so far, it hasn't. I have always been an ANTM fan; I don't know why I like it so much, I just do. The Most Interesting Contestant so far this season (it's only two episodes in, so I reserve the right to change my mind), is the girl from Liberty University, Victoria, who is Mind-Bogglingly Obsessed With Her Mother. On second thought, I probably won't change my mind. (No offense, Mom).

Ibuprofen, or Dear Flu Season: I Will PWN You.
Anthony got the flu last month (I know, in August, who does that?) and he was Utterly And Completely Miserable. He tried taking random meds that were specifically marketed for treating flu symptoms but they were barely touching them. I felt so bad for him, so I finally asked my boss (who's a doctor) what the best OTC med for the flu was. She asked me what his Most Bothersome Symptom was (it was a toss up between the headache and the sore throat) and then told me to have him take 800 mgs of Ibuprofen three times a day until he wasn't sick anymore. He tried it and, after just one or two doses, said it was the Most Effective Thing He Had Ever Done For Flu Symptoms In His Life. Even though it, obviously, didn't cure him, it did enable him to to function comfortably until the sickness went away - which was great, because I feel really bad for him when he doesn't feel well (plus, he's kind of a Very Irritable Sick Person which can get annoying pretty quickly). So we now know an easy OTC method for successfully treating flu symptoms and, thanks to this handy-dandy list, so do you. You're welcome.

We Didn't Have To Spend A Ton Of Money At The Vet For No Reason
Anthony and I have a bad taste in our mouth when it comes to going to the doctor because we are notorious for going to the doctor Just In Case and finding out that nothing serious was wrong with us, or for holding out on going to see if we will just get better on our own, only to finally to decide to go and then get better the very next day. We really don't go to the doctor very often, but most of the times we have gone have proved to be unnecessary - and, we have spent Countless Amounts Of Money on these Unnecessary Visits/Tests/Whatevs which is, understandably, very fustrating. We have also done this with our cats, once or twice. And, we almost did it again this month - luckily, though, the symptoms we were taking Bella to the vet for went away the day before her appointment (and haven't been back), so I was able to cancel it (rather than taking her in and then having her symptoms clear up later that night after I had just spent a bunch of money having her looked at, which is what happened the last time I took Gabriel). This may not seem like a Big Deal, but it is. It is.

Bella Boo

Chris & Kim
Chris & Kim spent the night a few weekends ago, and it's always fun to hang out with them. Anthony & Chris got up very early and went on a Five Or Six Hour Hike With Scary Rocks, Etc. Kim and I had fun Not Going On A Five Or Six Hour Hike With Scary Rocks, Etc. (aka: slept until after the sun came up, went out for bagels, and watched Supernatural). Apparently, this particular hike has some of the best views in central VA, but Chris was kind enough to take about bajillion pictures with his Sweet Camera and then he and Anthony showed us a slideshow of them on our big screen when they got back. Best of both worlds, right there.

Kimberly & Christopher

Potty Training Win
The three year-old I take care of finally decided she was ready to start using the potty and now she's completely potty-trained. Which means the amount of diapers in my life has been reduced by about fifty percent which I am Very Very Much Okay With. She had decided that she didn't want to start going on the potty (despite the stickers, candy, toys, and 137 kittens that had been promised to her) because going in her diaper was, simply, less trouble. We humored her for most of the summer, but fall was quickly approaching and she had to be potty-trained before she would be allowed to start her three year-old pre-school class at the end of the month. So, naturally, her parents and I told her that there was a Diaper Shortage in Charlottesville (just for her size, of course, not her younger brother's) and that, once she ran out of the diapers she currently had, she wouldn't be able to get anymore. Being the Genius-Child that she is, this made logical sense to her (much more so than the idea of taking the trouble to go on the potty when you have a perfectly good diaper taped around your butt), and, once she ran out of diapers, she started going on the potty. All the time. I am a big fan of Kids I Take Care Of Being Potty-Trained, and also of lying if they are too smart to be coersed into using the potty via any any respectable method.

Hunger Games Party
As some of you know, The Hunger Games came out on DVD in August and, since my friends and I embrace any excuse to have a party, a viewing party for the new DVD was held that very weekend. We had all kinds of themed snacks ("fire" cupcakes, "nightlock" berry short cake, "Peeta" bread with hummus, etc. - I know, we're hilarious, right?) and even made silly HG shirts to wear, (that we had seen on pinterest and thought were cute) except we sucked at them and they looked horrible and smelled like butt, but we had fun making them and laughing like crazy at how bad we screwed them up. I give you exhibit A:


Hotel Hell, or So That's What Blurred Out British Man Parts Look Like
Anthony and I were sad that our Master Chef and Hell's Kitchen shows were getting ready to end for the season but made a timely discovery on Hulu that will alleviate our pain for the time being by continuing to provide us with the Gordon Ramsey Fix that we have come to rely on so heavily. You can probably guess the premise - Gordon visits these horrible hotels and then tells the owners how much they suck in his Very British Accent and then gives the hotel a complete over-haul. You never know what kind of crazy establishments he'll encounter from week to week, but one thing is certain: he will always find some excuse to test out the bathtub in his room, on camera.

These were my Top Ten Favorite Things From The Month Of August. Tune in next month for ten more examples of awesomeness - I can already tell it's gonna be a great September.

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Happy Southern Hemisphere Hoodie Hoo Day

As I'm sure you ALL know, tomorrow is Southern Hemisphere Hoodie Hoo Day.

Long awaited by our Southern-half friends, August 22 is the day to go outdoors at high noon and yell "Hoodie Hoo!" to chase away winter and help usher in spring (no, really). And as silly as that sounds, I for one am so done with winter by the time January 1st rolls around that, if I thought it would help, I would be Hoodie-Hooing like a boss all day long until the Evil Cold had retreated back to wherever it goes during the Happy Warmer Months. I mean, once the holiday season is over is there really any point to winter? I think not. If you want to wear cute sweaters and boots and Curl Up With Your Boo Next To A Roaring Fire While Michael Buble Plays Softly In the Background, fall can successfully accomodate you in all of those areas. If you want to ice skate, you can do it indoors year-round. And if you want to make a snow man, simply do it between Thanksgiving and New Years.

While those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are not preparing to transition from winter into spring, we are getting ready to bid a Very Fond Farewell to summer. With this in mind, here are Five Ways You Can Shout "Hoodie Hoo!" (except please please also do it in the traditional way, because it's funny) And Prepare To Welcome Autumn Into Your Midst. But, please hold off your Hoodie-Hooing for a few weeks, as I am not ready for Maxi Dress Weather and 9PM Sunsets to go away yet. Thankyouverymuch.

Watch "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"


Light Fall-Scented Candles Which Includes But Is Not Limited To Anything With "Harvest", "Spiced", Or "That Smell When People Burn Leaves Outside" In The Name

Apple and Pumpkin and Cinnamon, OH MY!  Click the link below to check out the newest fall fragrances from Yankee Candle. And then lament over the current lack of pie in your house.

Make Fall-ish Type Food So That Your Noms May Know No Bounds

Like pie! As well as chili and stews, breads, spiced cakes and cookies, cider, and Pumpkin Anything. All leading up to the Blessed Climax Of The Fall Food Frenzy which is, of course, sweet potato casserole Thanksgiving Dinner. IHEARTTHANKSGIVINGDINNER.

Check out one of my most favorite fall chili recipes. If, like me, you only enjoy a Moderate Amount Of Spiciness in your food then you may want to half the chili powder. If, like my husband, you enjoy Very Spicy Things, then put in the whole amount. And, for the love of GOD, even if you Never Ever Drink Alcohol, please don't leave the beer out. Please.

Go Through Your Fall Wardrobe And Figure Out Who You Want To Keep And Who Is Getting Cut From The Team.

If you would like some guidance, here are a handful of things that will be Trendy this fall: Barouque-styled things, capes and cloaks, cozy sweaters, leather skirts, school-girl styles, colbalt blue and oxblood, tartan/plaid, peplums, colored jeans, knee high boots, hats, and hardcase handbages. If you provide me with a picture of yourself rocking all of these trends simultaneously I will be your best friend or at the very least send you some Lindor chocolate truffles. Actually, the truffles are probably the better of the two options. But, anyway.

Go Apple Picking (Even Though Its Easier And Slightly Cheaper To Get Them From The Store) Because They Are (Probably) Extra Tasty When Picked Straight From The Orchard And Its Fun To Show Off Your Amazing Apple Selecting Skills So Shut Up

I rather enjoy the Orchard Fruit Picking Experience, and highly recommend the Carters Mountain Orchard here in Cville if you too would like to pick your own fruit. Carters Mountain, in addition to having lots of Trees With Tasty Fruit On Them, has a great store, delicious refreshments, a wine shop, friendly staff, and a great view from the mountain top. I would suggest bringing a Not Heavy Person with you because, sometimes, the best-looking fruit is higher up on the trees and you need someone that is light enough for you to hoist. Make sure they're an Okay Climber.

Hoodie Hoo!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Guest Blogger: Gabriel the Cat

Greetings. Gabriel, here.

Something incredibly disconcerting has recently come to my attention and I felt it was imperative to hijack my mom’s blog for the purpose of addressing it. My sister, Bella, and I have been overhearing a disturbing amount of Humans ask my parents when they are going to Hurry Up And Have Children Already.

I beg your pardon?
What bestows upon you the right to ascend into MY abode and start uttering such preposterously offensive language? Are you under the impression that just because I’m a cat I don’t know what you’re saying?

Oh, I know. I know.
I hear you, every time you inquire as to when they are going to Start A Family. Every time you unwittingly imply that Cat Children Don’t Count. Every time I am indirectly equated with Chopped Liver (except, I never actually understood that expression, because I find liver rather delectable).  We ARE a family. Cat Children DO COUNT. And I AM NOT CHOPPED LIVER.

Okay. I apologize for my outburst. Believe it or not, my usual demeanor is rather agreeable and extremely pleasant in fact - I also actually quite fancy the vast majority of Humans who call on my parents.  But, I must ask you – no, implore you - to PLEASESTOP trying to get them to Have (Human) Children.

 Bella & I have discussed this, and we prefer for things to remain just as they are.  We have been previously exposed to Human Children (well, not Bella because most people scare the crap out of her, but she can hear the Human Children and their Noise from her Secret Hiding Spots when they are on the premises). They are vile, odious creatures - vermin best kept to those Humans who are not evolved enough to reside with cats.
In an effort to prove my point, I have compiled a list of Reasons Why Cat Children Are Better Than Human Children. I humbly request that you read it, and do so with an open mind, as I believe that the logic behind my reasoning will speak for itself. Let us begin.

Our Parents Already Have Someone To Nurture And Love And Post Obscene Amounts Of Pictures Of On Their Social Network Of Choice

Often times a couple will have a Human Child because they desire to have something to love and nurture and raise and discipline and populate the earth with. This is all well and good – but a cat can meet all of these needs for you. We need lots of love and nurturing. In fact, because we’re animals, we will always need you just as much (if not more) in the middle and end of our lives as we do in the beginning. We aren’t  ever going to learn how to get our own food and water, scoop our own feces, put on our own preposterous outfits, drive ourselves to doctor’s appointments, or what have you (and even if we did we sure as HEdoublehockeysticks wouldn’t tell you about it).  If you want to feel needed, HERE WE ARE. We won't outgrow your love either. True, some cats get crotchety as they get older, but the majority of us will still sleep in your bed, and cuddle up on your lap and purr, and let you kiss all over us well into our teen years. How many Human Children can you say that about.  It’s the same results as Attachment Parenting, but way less creepy.
And we certainly need discipline. Bella & I still jump onto the counters sometimes, even though we know those are in the Forbidden Zone, and Lord knows we still try to scratch on our parents’ nice leather couches even when they are sitting right there and even though we have a Very Sweet Cat Tree with scratching posts in our room. Why do you think we try to scratch the couches in front of them sometimes even though we know we’ll get into trouble?  It’s for them, not us. The opportunity to discipline and mold and shape us into becoming Good Cats Who Make Good Decisions is a rewarding experience that they derive a deep (though, granted, likely unacknowledged) satisfaction from – and, even if they aren’t keenly aware of this, it’s still quietly, subtly filling a void in that area of their life that they now do not have to seek to fill with a Human Child or (shudder) Children.

And, as far as the pictures go, I’m pretty sure my Mom has over a hundred in her Gabe & Bella album on Facebook, so.

Let’s Just Get This One Out Of The Way
No Human Child could ever be as Really, Really Ridiculously Good-Looking as I am. I’m just saying.

Human Children Are Loud. We Are Not 
Our parents are able to maintain a quiet existence with us in their lives. That’s not to say we NEVER meow or make noise, but the instances are infrequent and short-lived. Like, we’re pretty much quiet all the time. Human Children are loud most of the time. So are their toys.  And their god-awful television shows. And have you ever HEARD a Human Child throw a tantrum? That alone should be effective enough to make the rest of my list unnecessary.  But, I’ll continue.

Human Children Are Messy. We Are Only Somewhat Messy
Have you ever noticed how much CRAP comes with a kid?  Our home is relatively clutter free and only gets messy if my parents are sick or Currently Addicted To A TV Show That They Haven’t Seen Every Episode Of Yet and don’t clean it as much as they normally would. Admittedly, Bella and I do leave a toy or two on the floor from time to time, we aren’t the World’s Neatest Eaters, and we do sometimes get cat litter on Things That Are Not The Litter Box. However, our mess is manageable - utterly and completely manageable.  A Human Child’s mess, on the other hand, will kickyourass. Every hour of every minute of every day. There will always be Kid Furniture And/Or Supplies everywhere, toys scattered throughout every room, and every surface will have a Mysterious Stickiness on it. Your house is not your own anymore, it has been taken over by Human Child Crap. And, let me just say,  if I couldn’t stretch way out on the carpet because a pile of Hot Wheels Cars and a pink baby doll stroller was in my way, I would be slightly pissed.

 Have I Mentioned Diapers?
I realize that we cats use a litter box, a litter box that has to be scooped out and maintained...once every day or two.  And I can GUARANTEE you nobody has to wipe my derriere. A Human Child means changing diapers into the double digits, every single day, until they are old enough to use the bathroom by themselves. I came to my parents already potty trained. I win.

My Parents Still Know What Sleep Is
We never wake our parents up during the night. And, in fact, we let them sleep as long as they want to on the weekends, even though that may mean getting our breakfast several hours later than what we’re used to. We’re just awesome like that. Human Children will wake you up during the night often and don’t really give a crap if you want to sleep in on the weekends. Our parents get to sleep as much as they want. And, as a cat, I understand that sleep is a Very Beautiful Thing.

Baby-Sitters Need Not Apply
Our Mom & Dad can get up and go anytime the mood strikes them, without giving it a second thought. Whenever, wherever. Heck, they can even go away for MULTIPLE DAYS if they so desire, without having to worry about us. Since Human Children, however, are Pathetic Creatures That Require Constant Supervision, our parents would either have to bring them along or find a Baby-Sitter to come and sit on the children in their absence; they would also probably have to pay said Baby-Sitter for their services. Which brings me to my next point.

Human Children Are Expensive Little Boogers
My mom is currently the only one bringing home a pay check, because Dad is in school trying become a BAMF Fighter Pilot Dad. That being the case, they can only afford to accommodate the living expenses for the four of us – trust me.  And Bella & I do cost money. We go to a Nice Vet’s Office that only treats cats, we eat Good Food, we pee and poo in High-Quality Litter. We do not, however, eat three meals a day (plus snacks) or drink anything other than free water, wear clothes and shoes and diapers, get an ear infection once a month, own more toys than what could fit in a small warehouse, need an obscene amount of Supplies,  or have any plans to attend college.  Human Children are fricking expensive. We are only slightly expensive. Slightly > fricking.

We Do Not Require Our Parents To Watch Nauseating Kids Shows That Make Them Want to Stab Something Sharp In Their Eye And/Or Ear
Our parents have full control over the remote, 24/7. Sure, there are shows that are more interesting to us than others, but we are happy to watch whatever floats their boat. Lately, it’s been a lot of Supernatural. (Partly because it’s one of the greatest shows ever made, and partly because Mom has a crush on Dean.) But, the point is, they can watch their show as often as they want, for as long as they want. They don’t have to wait until Bella and I go to bed, and they don’t have to spend our waking hours watching Dora the Explorer and The Wiggles. And, as shallow as it sounds, I think there’s something to be said for that.

(Bella would like to add one)
People other than my Mom & Dad are Very Scary. Me no likey people. NO MORE PEOPLE NEED TO LIVE HERE EVER.  

Okay, I’m back. I hope that my list was enlightening. If you already have Human Children and are now like, “Blast, this sucks”, I apologize. I would never want anyone who has already been saddled with the little vermin to get rid of them or anything on my account. My only point is that my Mom & Dad (and Bella & I, for that matter) are still Free And Unaffected By The Things Discussed In The Above List. And I for one would like to keep it that way as long as possible.

So, stop telling them to Hurry Up And Have Children Already. Or I will find you and claw your eyes out with the nails that I’ve been sharpening on their leather couch. You have been warned.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

No Offense, But...

You know what bugs me? The phrase, "no offense".

When people preface a statement with "no offense, but...", all I hear is, "I'm about to insult you, but don't get mad at me" (aka: I'm trying to say something douchey without actually sounding like a douche).


I would much rather someone just say whatever it is they want to say, sans the aforementioned introduction, because then I could at least pretend that they honestly didn't realize that whatever came out of their mouth immediately following said introduction would most likely be interpreted as Mean, Insensitive, Hurtful, Rude, And/Or Highly Offensive. When someone says "no offense, but...", it's like they're saying "It definitely occurred to me that the following statement will most likely be interpreted as Mean, Insensitive, Hurtful, Rude And/Or Highly Offensive but, not only am I going to say it anyway, I'm going to be condescending enough to assume that me telling you not to get offended by it will magically make it less Highly Offensive".

This, of course, also applies to people concluding a Highly Offensive Statement with "no offense". When you were growing up, and you hit another kid with a stick or snatched their toy away or held them down and farted in their face, an adult would always make you say "I'm sorry". It got to the point where you felt like you could get away with anything as long as you followed up the Preposterously Vile Act with a flippant and barely recognizable "Sorry." You remember how it went.

"MOM, he punched me because I wouldn't jump off the roof to see if thinking a Happy Thought will really make you fly."

"But I said sorry!"

"Since you punched your sister, you get no dessert tonight.


Saying you were sorry was like a Magic Eraser, the "abracadabra" in the disappearing act that made whatever you had just said or done Cease To Exist. Except, it really didn't. Your sister's eye still turned black. The kid who inhaled flatus through all of his facial orifices still puked his guts out. And the kid who got their toy snatched still cried for two hours, even after it had been returned and they been given both a pony and an entire baseball team as consolation.

I'm not saying that kids, and adults, shouldn't apologize when they do something hideous to someone else. They should, especially if they mean it. The point is that you shouldn't do something that you know is mean just because you think you can justify it, or Magically Erase it, by saying you're sorry afterwards. Nor am I saying that it isn't, at times, appropriate and/or necessary to say something to someone that they might find Highly Offensive. I'm just saying that that adding a "no offense" to it does not make it any Less Offensive and, perhaps, makes it even More Offensive than it would have otherwise been, for the reasons previously mentioned.

"No offense, but you're One Of The Most Mind-Bogglingly Annoying People I Know."

"Your singing is so terrible that it actually hurts my feelings. No offense."

"No offense, but you smell like Dog Poo That's Been Sitting In The Sun For Twelve Days."

"You look like a Creepy Mentally Impaired Clown. No offense."

See? It doesn't really work.

I realize that, sometimes, when people preface or conclude a statement with "no offense" what they are trying to say is "despite the fact that I'm telling you something that will most likely be interpreted as Mean, Insensitive, Hurtful, Rude And/Or Highly Offensive, I want you to know that I'm not doing it with the intention of hurting your feelings." This is a nice thought but, let's face it, there is only one person in the entire world who can successfully pull off Saying "No Offense" And Having It Come Across As Not Douchey, and that is my brother, Billy, who happens to be the Sweetest Person In The United States Of America And Possibly The Universe. If you are not my brother, Billy, then you are not allowed to say "no offense" without causing me to experience Obscene Levels Of Annoyance. Just so we're clear.

No offense.

PS: This post is not Me Passive-Aggressively Telling Someone Who Recently Said "No Offense" In My Presence That I Think They're A Douche - I actually just heard the phrase "no offense" about seven different times on T.V. today, while watching Supernatural and Late Nineties Teen Movies, and it got me thinking. It got me thinking.

PPS: Don't worry, I also love my brother Brian - very much, in fact - but, honestly, if he ever made a statement to me that was prefaced or concluded with the phrase "no offense", he would most likely be saying it in a snarky tone with a Giant "I'm Laughing At You On The Inside" Smirk. Let's be real here.