Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Holiday Lull

Goodbye '08; I miss 'ya already! We loved you well, but are looking forward to the new year.

What's going on in the Girldom for 2009? Let's see...

Girly Stuff, my BBFF, ("B" for Blogging) is a soldier for home beautification...I think she dreams in projects and wakes up in the morning to realize them. She has some real life good stuff on the horizon that I'm sure she will be divulging soon. Her creative innards may implode with joy.

Did you already meet the Queen of Themed-Trees? Miss Priss has a collection of twelve amazing trees that she shared during the month of December. As a result, my tree-lust has me prowling for post-Christmas clearance sales. I want to bump up my collection for next year. And you gotta get up pretty early in the morning to get a head start on Miss Priss.

So if you find this set of trees at Target, grab it and buy it for me. You know who you are who have access to the less picked over Targets...

Thinking about my trees brings us back to Superstar, where we belong. I have a question that will require our collective genius. This is a real design dilemma, and I think I know the answer, but I am hoping someone can figure out a way for me to keep one pretty little prelit Christmas tree in my dining room year 'round.

Is there ANY scenario whereby this would be acceptable? I've already bought it and its so precious that I can't bear the thought of putting it in the attic and waiting a whole year to enjoy (or nine months since I'm on the professional schedule for Christmas 2009.) Still, that's a long time to wait.

What if I put little Valentine hearts on it come Jan 1st? And then I can put little Shamrocks on it for St. Patty's, and I have a string of Easter egg lights on deck...Yes? No? I've already retained a decorator, so I have to do what she says or she'll quit; she doesn't do it for the money. (She's asking "what money?" right now.) Help me convince her to say "yes" to a tree in the dining room.

We have one more little party to attend tonight. Our neighbor is hosting a New Year's Eve celebration and kids are invited to attend in their PJs. It will be fun, and I am looking forward to it. But then the festivities abruptly come to an end and I'll be crushed.

I like to hang on to the "holidays" by the last thread. I'm the kind of girl who feels a little sad every Sunday night as the weekend comes to a close. So, I hate when Christmas is over because I want to keep the good times rolling. I hate that people are already flying home and saying good-bye. I hate the depression that sets in January second, when it still feels like the holidays, but it's technically not the holidays anymore. (See, so I need a Prozac-tree.)

I do have some good things to look forward to. We are getting our upstairs bathrooms stripped of hideous wallpaper, textured and painted. Then we are replacing carpet and turning an extra bedroom into an upstairs game room. This requires knocking out walls and is something we've talked about since we bought the house five years ago. It will be great to contain Only Child's loot to a game room and reclaim my downstairs again.

Normally I never let visitors go upstairs because I'm so messy. My goal is to be less junky and purge the stuff that we don't need or use. I want to be 10 trash bags lighter by the end of January.

Additionally, we are adding whole foods to our menu and cutting out the boxed and processed junk. This is going to be a tough one because we love convenience foods. I still need to iron out the exact goals, but I am ready to feel less sluggish and eating better is the easiest way to fix that.

And, this is the year that I read every book! I missed it by half a book this year, which I may still read, but it won't happen by tonight. This year we are reading:

The Thirteenth Tale

The Shack

The Little Children

Merrick

A Line Between Friends

And if you want my reading selections, here are a few books that I truly enjoyed:

The Lovely Bones

The Kite Runner

Pillars of the Earth

(*Pillars is silly and long, but fun to read)

That is all! Happy New Year. Over and out for 2008!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Nuns do '80s & '90s

The Feisty Nuns have been at it again. We just observed our annual December fete which is when we exchange books for the coming year. (M&M and I are still lobbying to drop the "book" facade, but the ranks will hear none of that talk.)

In previous years we have had cookie exchanges or gone out for dinner and drinks. It's pure merriment, whatever we do. Since I happened to host this time, I called for a theme (because, who doesn't love a costume party?) specifically "High School Flashback Night!" Isn't Picky a lovely girl?


I've never had so much fun in the foyer. It was giddy amusement to greet each girl at the door and see their interpretation of the "look" back in those days. Picky was the only one able to unearth her clothing from the era (a sweatshirt puff-painted with her name and hearts all over.)



No problem for the rest of us, though, because with time, our old clothes have become new again. Which means pret-a-porter -Target, in case you want to recreate your own glory days. Too bad it's all cut for a 'tween body (and by tween, unfortunately, that does not mean between motherhood and 40!)

So jolly were we after a few strawberry wine slushies (tried to recreate the sustenance, too) that I didn't even mind that the time frame was blurry. Our high school years straddled the decades yet our outfits were a morph of 80s icons: Madonna meets the Heathers at the Breakfast Club. Tell me that these sweet little Guess shoes would not look hot with acid-washed jeans with a little zipper down the ankle! (Or tight-rolled.)



I donned absurd amounts of mousse and gel and gave my flat-iron the night off. I'm only now appreciating that fifteen years ago when everyone else was paying good money for spiral perms, I had one au-naturale. However, I didn't use nearly enough product back then and the result was a four-year blur of frizz. I only started figuring out my hair in college and then the Rachael-cut was taking off and I almost missed the boat. Just one of the many ways I could have been living large if I knew then what I know now...



And if only I had known that I would be lucky enough to hang on to friends like Girly Stuff, M&M, Red and Picky after all this time I could have saved myself so much angst, frustration, and hassle that comes with adolescent friendships that don't last and can be especially harsh amongst the girls. Why didn't I know then that no one is cool at seventeen because we're all too worried about what everyone thinks of us?! And how did I manage to keep with such a fine group of people? It can't be coincidence or luck. (I'm not just drawn to crazies.)

A word about the inspiration for my outfit.

I bumped into a lady at Chick fil A a few months ago. We were both with our kids and I noticed her familiar face, but it wasn't until later that I could place who she was: an acquaintance from high school.

She was then, and seemed to be now, the ever-perky, always made-up, Southern debutante-type. She was the quintessential high school social climber. Pretty, coy, perpetually campaigning, pragmatic. Looking back, she was already poised and on the hunt for a husband at an age when the rest of us were just leaving behind dolls. And she knew then what we're still learning about men, if you know what I mean.

So when I was planning my outfit, hair and makeup, this young lady, as she was then, became the alter-ego that I set out to recreate. My inspiration, if you will. So, I had to laugh when GS looked at a couple of us dancing and announced "y'all look like you're on birth control." I had embodied my mistress.

So it was a success. And I have to thank M&M and her husband for nailing the music of our youth. That was a huge contribution to the festivities! I chose the same snacks Picky and I used to sneak off campus to eat and I think Picky actually ate (which almost never happens.) And while it was fun to be that girl for one night, I have to say that it's way too much work for this lazy girl.



Don't get me wrong, I like to party; but not in pinchy shoes and lots of make up.

Can you imagine being a teenager again? What from your high school days are you most happy to leave behind? What do you like to relive?


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas, Friends

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. I hope the joy of salvation is celebrated in your heart!

We're in the middle of a couple of busy days. But good busy -- full of family visits, food and fun. How can you not love this time of year? The smells, the cookies, the music, the innocence of believing in magic.

It may be a while before I get to say "hi" again. So enjoy your Christmas and count your blessings. And say a little prayer for me that Santa and UPS make it here on time!




Friday, December 19, 2008

Stream of Consciousness

I'm going to let you in on nothing in particular, today.

I feel so uninspired to talk about food, and that's not like me. I haven't seen the inside of the gym since before Halloween, so that after-the-fireworks shock has set in sooner than usual, maybe? I won't bore you with woe about my mid-section, since we both know what I can do about it.

I think blogging is a microcosm for real-life relationships. I've got this whole circle of blogging friends, now. People that I don't know in real life, but we "talk" all the time via comments. I also have blogging acquaintances: we know of each other and if we happen to cross paths, we smile and say "hi," but we're not reading each other daily. I've also got blogging friend-of-a-friend situations like, Mother Hood who came over just to say "hi" on my birthday.

Angie at American Homemaker, who has some fab recipes, made me think of all this microcosm business. I have personally tried her Pumpkin Oreo Muffins and her Ham and Spinach Roll Ups. Loved 'em! The best thing about her recipes is that they are so accessible. "Accessible" is a thing wine snobs say to mean "even you screw-top drinkers will enjoy this one." Well, I mean to say that even you non-cooking types can manager Angie's recipes. Many of her ideas start with a box of cake mix and turn into something wonderful and new. She comes up with all sorts of semi-homemade goodies a la Sandra Lee.

Sandra is, in my opinion, the real man's Martha and much craftier. So is Angie. Check her out, she keeps it real.

Oh, so I was headed to the store to pick up a few things and I was thinking about trying one of Angie's recipes, but I couldn't recall all the ingredients. A thought suddenly popped into my head that I'd just call her cell and ask what to buy. Then I remembered (just as suddenly) that I don't really know this person. She's a blogging friend, not a friend in real life. (Don't worry, blogging friends, I'm not going to go cross country and One-Hour-Photo you. )

I forked over the money to buy Only Child a Lightening McQueen lamp that he spotted at Ross and asked so maturely if we could buy. Normally Id say something like, "let's wait and see if Santa gets it for you," but I felt guilty for dragging him in there for the third time this week. We had to find a pillow for The Micker, long story, but it was a successful hunt. I was feeling cheerfully generous, and let him have, it no strings attached. And as an added bonus he went right into his nap with no fussing. So these $7 finds are the reason we keep going back to that (spit) store.

Does anyone else have a Love/Hate relationship with Ross?

The thrill of the hunt is awesome. The wading through clothes on the floor or picking up one pillow and a dozen fall down...that's the price we pay. And I know that Ross ain't trying to be Nordstrom. But every Ross is trashy. Not so much at Marshalls and TJ Maxx. Is Big Lots more upscale in the world of close outs? Because if I was a manager at Big Lots I would not appreciate being compared to Ross.

Just like Walmart, Ross is the third world of shopping and they've got the pigeons in the parking lot to prove it. Do pigeons like a good deal, too? How do they know?

Yet I can't seem to love them or leave them. I know I'm not the only one.

Ross!

One memorable trip to Ross occurred around the time Only was being potty trained. He told me he had to go, number 2. The bathroom had a closed sign on it. I ask if the bathroom was working, because I've got a barely-three-year-old that has to poop, right now. Hourly employee tells me to do what I need to do and walks away.

I explained my predicament to a nice lady shopping outside the bathroom and she went to get a manager. The bathroom was not closed because of a malfunctioning toilet. It was closed because there was no toilet paper to be had in all the city and the shipment from corporate (where Ross gets all of its toilet paper) had not come in. I caused such a stink ( ha!) because, while a hole in the ground is sufficient facilities in many parts of the world, here in the first world it is not. I was willing to argue, threaten to write letters, and raise my voice, lest some paper product be produced to wipe my kid's butt.

I even suggested we use a shirt off the floor, since it had so many basket skids, it couldn't be sold.

Meanwhile, nice shopper lady asked around until she found someone willing to part with a few baby wipes. Just as we were washing our hands and leaving the bathroom, the security guard came running back with some toilet paper scored at the CVS next door. Seems they had TP all along.

Is there a moral to this story? I probably don't want to hear it, but if you read all my ranting you get to say it.

Heather, your request is coming soon. I'm too sluggish to find the camera just now.

Rachel, you'd better not leave town without calling me!

Monday, December 15, 2008

You're too kind

A big thanks to Girly Stuff for reminding me how silly and spirited I was as a kid and for showering me with the love and attention my star so requires. (Too bad I wasn't born with her common sense.)

We graduated from high school in the early 90's; those were days of big hair, red acrylic fingernails and all things gaudy. The gaudier the better.

Check us out in our over-the-top prom dresses. I think I can see Picky's reflection in those frocks. My sister made that dress for me so that I could have exactly what I wanted, but I am responsible for the design. And for that side up-do straight out of Napoleon Dynamite.

How was my birthday, you ask? Well, MMA and Only Child treated me like a queen all weekend. MMA brought honor to our family name by submitting his opponent at the jiu jitsu tournament on Saturday. I got to do a little guilt-free shopping for myself. And, we managed to sneak away for a dinner date on Sunday, thanks to Aunt 'Niesee. It was a great weekend and birthday.

Thanks for the calls and well wishes! I love you people! I love being thirty five. I still love that dress and I'd wear it for my high school flash back party if I could. Alas, it is history, along with the excuse "baby fat."

Psst, Dan, (my prom date) where ever you are...your old truck from high school has been found and he's done pretty well for himself. It landed the role as "Isabella's truck" in the new Twilight movie.



Oh, GS even arranged for my prom date...and we're still all over each other's business! (Me and Girly, not me and Dan.) Gotta love that.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Easy, Pleasy, Cheesy

I've missed my Friday dish lately, but I picked a great appetizer to share with you that can be thrown together in less time than it takes to get dressed.

My baked goat cheese is easy, pleasy, and cheesy -- in a good way.

I first had this dish more than ten years ago at a restaurant and was told it was retro, then. I knew immediately that I would be reprising it at home. Their version was a soup bowl filled with red sauce and thick scoop of goat cheese was floating on top, baked-up, browned around the edges. This was served with day-old french bread, toasted in the broiler. The warm cheese was soft and spreadable and slightly tart. The marinara mellows it all out and the bread allows for dipping and licking the bowl clean. Not that I would ever do that when I'm home alone.

I made the Muir Glen version of this dish several times (its on the label.) Until one day, I went to throw it together, but no Muir Glen tomatoes were to be found. But what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a jar of Vodka Sauce...oh, holiday cheer!

Ingredients:
2 small logs of goat cheese (about 4 oz each)
1 jar of vodka cream sauce such as Newman's Own

I like to pour the sauce in an 8X8 baking dish (or one that's pretty enough to serve from) and then arrange slices of the goat cheese all over the sauce (and if you figure out how to slice goat cheese let me know.) Usually I end up with little broken balls of goat cheese placed on top of the sauce. Rustic, if you will. Then you bake it in the oven at 350 until everything is hot and bubbly. You can broil it for a minute to make the cheese golden brown, but only if it needs to be fancy. And while you're at it, sprinkle it with something green.

Serve it with toasted baguette slices, pita chips or a hearty cracker. It's too heavy for a wimpy cracker.

I believe goat cheese is probably served in Heaven. Anyone could fall in love with it if exposed to that salad from Ruggles with the goat cheese and apples...know what I'm talkin' about? In case some of you want to make the plain white bread version of this, whipped cream cheese could potentially be substituted.

But that would be like putting cottage cheese in your lasagna or drinking wine from a box -- we've all been there, but look how far we've come. Just make it with goat cheese. It's scrumptious, I promise!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

When it Snows in Houston!

When it snows in Houston, its BIG NEWS.

Hey everybody, it's snowing in Houston! This is our reward for the nasty cold drizzle we endured all day. We were playing outside with the neighborhood kids making little snowballs and snow angels and running around with our tongues sticking out. Too bad it was already dark when it started snowing.

Only Child kept picking up snow and tasting it; even off the ground!

I know that snow is no big deal for anyone north of Dallas, but for us, (being this close to the coast) it's a rarity. Only Child is one of four snow babies on our street; they were in utero the last time we saw snow 'round these parts. This evening they were running a muck, giggling and having the time of their little lives.

I made my neighbors take pictures for me because I was too excited to go in and hunt down the camera. I'll see if I can freeload one to post.

Stay Toasty!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Slow down Superstar!

No good deed goes unpunished, or so my dad used to say--ruefully. When I was young I thought he was so jaded. And look at me now; I'm twice the cynic he was.


Yesterday was a bad day for me. I am constantly racing around trying to do all the right things. Generally, I like to do the right thing, especially when it involves taking care of people that I love. But, moderation in all things, right?


Yesterday was one of those days...I attempted to get eight different things done, but I really only had time for three (and I knew it! Dammit.) I gutted out six 6 and a half things and didn't do one of them right.


You know those kind of days? I was so angry with myself. Moderation... moderation... why am I such a slow learner? Why do I think that spreading myself painfully thin will make me feel whole? Why do I insist on squeezing blood out of a rock? It doesn't work and it never will.


Deep breath...OK. Yesterday. I got pulled over and I ended up getting five tickets. Yes, five. WTF?!? I didn't think that was possible either, but it is. And I do need a referral for an attorney who handles traffic tickets.

Back to poor, poor, pitiful me. The only way this injustice seems possible (in my mind) is explained by the following theory and true story.


On Sunday, a police officer in Houston was killed when he tried to pull some gang-banger over. The driver ran from the car, hid in some bushes and gunned the officer down.


Maybe this tragedy was going through my police officer's mind when I was getting pulled over. He came upon me so fast and furious that I thought there was an emergency that he desperately needed to get to and I needed to get out of his way. I changed lanes three times trying to get out of his way before I realized I was the emergency.


Stupid of me, I realize. I should get pulled over more often, if only for the practice. But since the guy came flying behind my like a maniac, I thought there was something more serious than nice lady driving too fast.


The officer was spitting fire that I didn't immediately pull over, but took an extra ten seconds to comply. He was probably expecting to find someone more in-your-face than me. But all he got was a petite and polite lady with a car seat in the back...didn't matter, he was so angry he couldn't see straight.


If there was any way he could have arrested me, I am sure he would have. Too bad for him that its not a crime to have enough Capri Sun in the trunk to warrant an "attempt to distribute." So he had to settle for weak citations like "not signaling my lane changes" and "unsafe lane changes" (these are the lane changes I made while he was pulling me over!)

Today is another day and I will have my day in court and I believe in our justice system...OJ finally got his, right?

Let me just say, I'm not a cop-hater and I don't have a problem with authority, but Mr. C E G of HPD, you are a real load!

Yesterday's incident sent me over the edge. I was flustered, angry, overwhelmed. Pissed. Upset. Beside myself.

And why was I rushing around? Just trying to help a little old lady that I love get to the doctor. Like I said, no good deed...

Does anyone remember that I had a premonition in the form of a dream a while back?

We think my dad was possibly clairvoyant. Maybe I've got the shining, too. That and significant stage presence.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Double Knock-Out!

I love it when good works and good fun come together, especially at this time of the year!

Here's a charity event that I am really excited to tell you about. Let me say that again. I'm pumped about an upcoming mma tournament, [correction, Brazilian jui jitsu tournament] right here in Houston! I'm hoping my own
MMA will throw his hat in the ring so I can watch him fight.

Elite Martial Arts, which is the only real game in town for serious students of mixed martial arts, is having a charity event to help one of their own. An Elite student, Mike DeAses, a father to four young boys, is the beneficiary of this tournament. The money raised will help with medical bills related to his pancreatic tumor. That's the good works part of the deal.

The fun part is getting to watch some fiery amateurs like my MMA grapple, scrap and throw down -- so close you can smell the sweat! Kids and women are also encouraged to participate! There will be a "bookie" on site taking wagers and winnings will go to the medical fund.

I don't know about you, but I haven't seen a good "girl" fight...I mean a REALLY good girl fight since high school. Maybe college. In any case, its been a while.

All the action happens Sat. December 13th beginning at 3:30 pm. The location is 10640 Westheimer Houston , TX 77042.

Tickets are just three bucks!!! You can't touch a diet coke at any kind of sporting event these days for $3.

There will be a Karaoke competition with some local champions in that sport. Also there will be a raffle for an X box and other cool stuff, followed by a potluck meal after all the fights.

Doesn't that sound like exceptional family entertainment?

Now I know that some people are against fighting, but this is a sporting and clean-cut way to do it. And as I am learning, men have all this extra pent up fizz that they have to get rid of some kind of way, lest they boil over. Or is that just in this house? Even the three year old needs serious exertion, although here's where my double-standard kicks in: no fighting for Only Child.

I'm not suiting up to fight either. One of these days I'll let MMA recount my attempted-suicidal girl fight back when we were in college. He probably saved me from getting double black eyes, as my opponent had a significant size advantage. If "less drunk" is an advantage, then that's what I had. And I had my Bonfire boots going for me. Does anyone else remember Hurricane Harry's as fondly as I do? Good times, I tell ya...

Ohh, I can't wait for this tournament; I hope to see you there! I'm semi-retired, but could possibly be provoked...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Free Meat...(at Arby's)

Mmmmm....beef....Homer-want-meat...


Hey, here's one for my male readership; that's you MMA, and I know you want some of this!


Go here for a free Roast Beef Sandwich at Arbys; it says you can print and use it as many times as you like until my birthday, December 14th. Happy Birthday, from me!

'Love myself today!

To give due props, this came from Money Saving Mom's blog.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Waxing and other forms of Female Torture

Does it make me masochistic that I like getting my eyebrows waxed?
I go to this place called Li's Nails that was recommended to me by a teacher friend. This particular friend used to be in the pageant circuit (yes, we're in Texas) and her nails, eyebrows and everything else about her is always perfectly poised for competition. (Those rambunctious middle-schoolers weren't going to make her look haggard.)

So Teacher-Friend let me in on this one beauty secret. Let me just get it out in the open, Li's is not one of your finer day spas. It is what it is. And what it is, is the kind of place where they ask if you want to do your "moustache, too." (The ambiance is about on par with the tact at this place.) But I keep going back for more.

I like to sit back in their ordinary black office chair and feel the slight burn of the wax before they rip it off my face. Li is usually speaking incomprehensibly to one of her co-workers. It might as well be Vietnamese; I can't understand a word of it, but I find it soothing. If the procedure lasted more than 2 minutes I'm sure I could fall asleep.

I know, I'm sharing all sorts of personal things and I feel so naked. But who doesn't love getting their eyebrows cleaned up? Maybe I should say, I don't find it very painful and overall it is a pleasant thing to do for myself. Is that weird?

My friend's mom had an Epi-lady when we were kids. Remember those machines of female misery? They had a coil of wire that simply ripped the hair out of root off your legs; the logic being that it would grow back softer and less noticeable. We screamed like Banshees! Oh the pain! We were about eleven when we experimented with that thing and I decided right then and there that I'd rather have furry legs than participate in such self-loathing, ever again.

Here I am twenty years later, still torturing myself! I had a baby, afterall. He's three and I haven't gotten rid of him yet...some days that defies logic. The last two days he's been sent to time-out within a minute of getting out of bed. This is no exaggeration. Three can be torture.

I also tend to burn myself almost everytime I turn on the oven. If the scars on my hands could talk, they would say "either: chain smoker, or really, really clumsy in the kitchen." MMA is convinced its psycho-logically motivated, because burning one's self so frequently can't be accidental. (Even a monkey can learn not to burn its self if repeatedly exposed to a hot oven, right? My words, not his.)

Quick mention about my drug of choice: the flat-iron. When you take a shower, then sweat down your back to fix your hair, it can't be for pleasure...maybe with some therapy, I could get on board Team Naturally Curly Hair. Maybe.

Here's my favorite torture of them all. Some of you may be able to identify. You could tell me honestly and without hesitation to just stop the madness and in the next breath, torture yourself in the same way...get your bags packed, ladies, we're going on a GUILT TRIP! Is this a female universal, or am I especially gifted with the ability to burden myself with ridiculous, totally avoidable, and unnecessary guilt?

I'm guilty right now, because my little one is parked in front of the TV while I enjoy some "me" time...he's going through a difficult stage, after all, and needs my every fiber, every minute of the day. (TV watching = Bad mom)

....I'm back. Only Child went to the bathroom and my service was needed there. I would only share this tidbit with good, non judgemental people who would understand. I found myself saying "Anthony, don't flush the toilet, mommy needs to see your poo poo." I can't be the only one, er uh, the only mom who needs to see it...(ChaCha, your day will come.)

Be assured this is not another variation of mommy cutting herself...who else is going to stay on top of the stomach situation in this house?
How do you torture yourself? Misery loves company.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Hostile book report

I wrote this a while back for the Nuns as this was one of our books this year. Since it was a busy weekend, I thought I'd pull from the archives. This is my screenplay book report. It's a one scene jobby; Superstar carries the whole thing.

If I'm not available, I guess Reece Witherspoon could stand in. (Remember how brilliant she was in Election?)

A Hostile Book Report

by Woman Interrupted


[Read aloofly by know-it-all 11th grader, lisping slightly through braces. Catholic-school-girl get up; knee socks.]


So I read Love in the Time of Cholera, set in turn of the century South America...not the century that just turned, the one before it...and you know what??? It was stu-pid as love stories go. This guy is a Nobel winning author? Whatever!

So, as a teen, the main character, Florentino, sees a girl of fourteen from a distance and starts writing her secret letters, which she, Fermina, answers in secret. This is their only form of communication for years because of her over-protective father, yet they think they are in love [roll eyes]...until she wakes up and realizes how stupid it is to be in love with someone you've never even had a face-to-face conversation with.

So Fermina kicks Florentino to the curb, breaking off their engagement, and goes on with her life. She eventually marries up, snagging a rich-young doctor and they are the "Brangelina" of the So-Carib, if you know what I mean. Dad obviously approves.

But Florentino is a whiny baby who spends the next 50 years pining for her from afar. Or from as close as he can get. Hhut! He follows her life and pines so persistently that he can make himself sick just thinking about her. Maybe he is confusing the symptoms of IBS with being love-stricken. In any case, he hoodwinks many, many women over the years, but never considers marriage, because he's waiting to win back Fermina.

Then, (and tune out if I'm going to spoil it for you) Florentino grows into a dirty old man of the most vile variety. One word: pedophile! But as a testament to his love-letter-writing, we're talkin' mad skills, he manages to win Fermina over again at a ripe old 70-something after the good doctor falls off a ladder to his death...chasing a talking parrot...of all the ways to go.

Have you ever read love scenes that describe the heroine as "smelling like an old lady"? If you don't mind detailed depictions of old people hooking up or reading about deviant sexual behaviors, then you might learn something from this book.

Or, you could just google "death by cholera."

A friend described this book as "plotless." [smacking gum] There is a plot, it just takes forever and a day to materialize. By the time the relationship finally comes to fruition, the fruit is ready for the compost-heap.

And why am I hostile about reading this book?

I kept pushing forward, waiting for the book to live up to the reputation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but it kept getting stranger and more perverse. I think the author has a few loose screws.

I was forced to admit by the time I finished three quarters of the book and nary a kiss had transpired in this "epic" love story that "spanned more than a half century" that the book was not about the relationship of Florentino and Fermina. No, this was a lesson in how even a creepy stalker, through persistence and patience, can get what he wants if he never gives up. And sometimes, after you work hard to get what you want, its not what you thought it would be.

[Smugly] If I'm not mistaken, there is a child's fable somewhere that teaches that same lesson in about 8 paragraphs.

[Did I mention that the Nun's dropped this book like yesterday's trash]

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What He's About

Today is my last birthday shout out. I couldn't let the 37th birthday of my sweetheart go down without a holla. And I don't mean that Jewish bread, either.

MMA is out in the garage doing one of those grueling boxing workouts I told you about. I can hear the banging and beeping of his various apparatus clocking time and telling me that I have about 30 minutes to scribble.

We made last minute plans not to go out for dinner; no babysitter tonight. All he wanted was for me to make a batch of his mom's lasagna and invite a few friends over, with kids.

And as luck would have it, they can come.

He made it too easy on me. If given more time, (he knows) I would have managed to add 10 people to the guest list and I would have loved it, but crowds and parties are not what he's about.

He's about spending Saturday mornings watching cartoons in bed with little guy and then making us breakfast. I'll have to share the recipe for his House-Special eggs sometime.

He's about Community Coffee with half and half, no sugar, because "good coffee needs no sugar."

MMA's about taking his son to the museum or the zoo and patiently reading all the signs and explaining things to Only Child that I assume he's too young to comprehend.

MMA is about Whataburger, our own wonderful Texas-based-fast-food-for-the-gods: double meat, if you please.

MMA is about pizza, fried rice and sushi -- his three favorite foods. And Blue Bell ice cream. Vanilla or Butter Pecan, but only Blue Bell will do.

MMA is about regular jeans, straight let, slightly faded with age. You won't find him in trendy, dark washed, expensive jeans. He rejects anything stretchy or with contrived bleached out spots. And paying $50 for jeans is really pushing it.

MMA is about keeping things simple, but enjoying nice things. He and his Ipod are never far apart. He enjoys a glass of red wine or a cigar on occasion. When he found a pair of dress shoes that he loved, he bought one in black and one in brown. Now he's got all the dress shoes he's going to need for 5 years or more. He'll pay extra for Sony. He's a Sony guy if at all possible.

MMA is about taking charge when we travel. If we have a plane to catch, he's going to get us there on time, without exception. He can be counted on to keep track of passports and reservation numbers and cash...freeing me up to handle the fun stuff.

MMA is a about taking care of business. Although he's never been my boss, I imagine he's the uncool kind that won't shut down early on the day before Thanksgiving. He's the guy who will make sure the last customer is taken care of across town before coming home for the night.


MMA is all about setting a good example for Only Child. If I raise my voice or say a naughty word or lose my temper, he's there calm and steady, reminding me that little eyes are watching.

MMA is about keeping things good and real and down-to-earth around here. We've really grown up together over the years and I keep finding new reasons to love and admire him. If I get the chance to grow old with this man, it will be one of my life's greatest blessings.

Happy Birthday, my MMA. I love you with all my heart!



Sunday, November 23, 2008

Doncha Wish Your Garland was Hot Like Me!

"Doncha wish your garland was a freak like me?


Doncha!?"


Those are the only two lines I know so I just kept singing them over and and over for the two hours it took me to put this lovely mess together. That one red leaf is bugging me, too. I'm going to pluck it out.


I was peer-pressured into getting a jump start on Christmas this year by my decorating friends. And the Nester was kind enough to put up a tutorial on how to turn 4 strands of that wimpy $1.99 garland and other stuff I already had into this garland. My only expense ($5) was all the grassy, feathery stuff which I picked up at 90% off at Hobby Lobby.


That picture will come down and be replaced by a big wreath. And I plan to put some bows on each end of the garland.

Two questions:

Those are my year 'round urns and I am aware that they are starting to look tired. I'll get to that after Christmas. In the meantime, should I leave them on the mantle or is it too much with the garland?

Any ideas about what I can use to camouflage the fishing wire that's holding the middle up? You can see it in the first picture.

UPDATE:

The Pussycat Dolls are trashy! You already knew that, huh? Imagine my surprise when my sweet little nine-year-old niece rambled off the names of the PD songs that she likes. They failed the chaste test when we tried to watch one of their videos on You Tube and we had to turn it off because those innocent eyes were entrusted to me for the afternoon. Apparently I've been under a rock for the last five years.

This here garland, though, it's family friendly! Thanks for the comments and compliments! I took the advice and made some changes.

I'll be putting the wreath and the pictures of Only Child up after Thanksgiving. But the garland is finished! (I raided all the arrangements in the house to find more stuff to stick in to there.) I can't promise I'll stop messing with it, but here it is.

Let me come over and help with yours?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Meet the Nuns

What do you get when you put 5 thirty-something women in a jam-packed theater with an average audience age of 14, to see the year's hottest teen-flick??

The Feisty Nuns: Twilight Edition!

It was like being at fun, silly, rock concert with girls cheering, screaming and going wild throughout the movie. We bought in to their excitement. Everyone there seemed to be with a group of friends, just out having the best time. And by the end of the movie, despite having not read the book, I picked my side: Go Team Jacob!

The movie itself was so bad we had to laugh to keep from crying. No wait, we laughed so hard we WERE crying. We were also sweating because it was like a sauna in the theater. But how can you have a bad time with these people?

Let me introduce you.

Picky-my longest running friendship
Picky and I go back to first grade and she is, as the name implies, very selective. I guess we share enough of the same taste to make it work. She's a single mom with 2 great boys and manages to do more for them with less time than anyone I know. She's funny, silly, sarcastic...alot like me, just pickier. Picky doesn't realize how strong she is and how far she's come and how much we love her. (She's in stripes.)

Red - so named for her long red locks
Red and Picky have been BFFs since birth. Before book club, Red was the friend of a friend. Since book club, we've become friends in our own right and I am convinced it was meant to be: we grew up around the corner from each other, went to the same college, both worked in the non-profit world...but book club and having babies just weeks apart sealed the deal. Red is the girl who always does things right (Picky pointed this out to me.) She organizes great parties, always looks cute, and has excellent taste in books...no one complains about Red's books. (Sarcastic and witty is a prerequisite for this group.)

M&M - the chocolate connoisseur

M&M is the woman who seems to have it all. (Only after having kids do we realize that's not possible, but...) she juggles it well. M&M is our ambitious and successful, go-getter -- and normally you want to hate someone like that, but you can't because she's so genuinely fun to be around. Her self-deprecating humor makes it work. We go back to high school and M&M has always had game. I don't try to keep up, I just bask in her pretty-popular-girlyness. (That's her with the big purse.)

Girly Stuff - I believe you've met
This is Girly Stuff's book club and she calls the shots. One wrong word and I could be on the outs. So I'll just say this; I am constantly learning how to be a better person by her example. And she's got me reading again. I thought I'd lost the ability, but no, I can still read!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Betty Crocker, I am Not

And I have another tried and true recipe to share.

I don't bake very often because MMA is not in to sweets. I'm also impatient about following directions exactly, which baking tends to require. I'm also burn-prone.

So, I reserve the B-word for the holiday season. Something about the weather and holiday cheer gets me in the mood to do the most home-makerly thing I can muster.

I remember my mom complaining that "its too hot to turn on the oven." Back in the day, we had a small house and an old oven that really did heat up the place. In our modern kitchens, I doubt it matters much. But I recently heard my brother say that he "wouldn't think of turning the oven on in this heat." It made me smile to think of the old days and the hundreds of sheets of cookies, loafs of banana bread and all those birthday cakes that the old war-machine turned out (the oven, not mom.)

She was a fine baker and I'm not yet. But I'm trying and learning little by little. So for all you non-bakers out there, this one's for you.


Whole Wheat Banana Muffins
(Also from allrecipes.com and I adapted it over the years)

I only make these babies a couple times a year and when they first comes out of the oven, I always think, "ehh, just OK." But oh, the next day...they get more dense and moist and you'll know you're on to something.

Don't let the ingredients scare you.* I said its tried and true and I meant it.

1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (yes, you can use all white if you must)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
2 medium bananas mashed (approx 1 generous cup)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine flours, soda, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl and stir. In a large bowl, cream sugar and banana. Mix in mayonnaise and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in small batches while mixing on low. Scrape down the sides as you go. Use hand whisk or fork, if needed, to break up any lumps.
Makes about 12 muffins and they take 20-25 minutes to bake.

Optional: stir in or sprinkle on top oatmeal, coconut or nuts.

When I was on a health kick I would add ground flax seed to the batter and I experimented with substituting Splenda for some of the sugar. I never threw a batch away, so I guess you could say this recipe is forgiving.

*I don't know anyone like this, but if you have a special someone who thinks he doesn't like mayo, make him these muffins. It's just oil and eggs afterall and he'll love them!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Girls Night Out!

I get a night out with four of my favorite peeps tomorrow. We decided a few years ago to create an excuse to get together four or five times a year. Now-a-days we have at least as many kid parties between us, but this is our time, just for us girls.

So the Feisty Nuns' book club was born. (And we were without a name until just now.)

A boy from our high school once commented (with a note of disgust) that the girls in my circle acted like "nuns." I'm sure he was just frustrated by hormones and spurned advances. We are all, in fact, nice girls...but, c'mon, "nuns" was a taking it a bit far. I thought that was a funny thing to say, and playing along, I dressed up as a nun that year for Halloween (the habit, the collar and all.) Was that weird of me?

Well, look at my circle, now. And may I say that for a few pious women who get together to discuss books, we manage to have a little fun, too.

We were suppose to discuss Love in the Time of Cholera, but because Queen Bee (Girly Stuff) didn't like the book, we got "told" we would see Twilight instead. I'm really only in this thing for the get-togethers, so I won't be too upset if we drop the books and just become club.

Well, I seem to have broken the first rule of book club...

I'll report back if I think this movie is a must-see.

MMA has already punched in his two cents...according to him all vampire movies are gay allegories and to be avoided at all cost.

By, the way, we took Only Child to see Madagascar 2 over the weekend and we all LOVED IT!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nonsensical Ramblings on Music

I don't stay up on pop music unless its from (at least) 5 years ago. So, like I said, I don't stay up on music.


MMA, who is into music, introduces me to much of the new stuff that comes into our house. He is DJ extraordinaire for those famous happy hours and to say he does a brilliant job...that's like saying the sun is cool. Huh? Yeah.


Only Child loves to dance! So it has finally come to pass that I have the dance partner I always wanted. MMA's contribution is the music and the music always seems to compliment the feeling of the night. He even does last call music, which tells me when its time to start wrapping it up and putting a sleepy child to bed.


What happened to the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens? (Now known as Yusuf Islam.) How did such a beautiful voice get attached to such a weird guy? I just love that wind song of his.


I am also a Gordon Lightfoot fan. What is this stuff called? Folk music? It's so mellow and easy. It's easy like Sunday morning. If I had an easy listening folder on my MP3, it would definitely include these guys and the Indigo Girls and Wings. Maybe some Kenny Rogers.


I'm also a sucker for cheesy sounds of the 70s and 80s like the music from the Big Chill, Bee Gees, Donna Summer, Air Supply...Blondie reminds me of riding home on the school bus in elementary. And here's a little family nugget for you, my SIL and I both ended up mysteriously pregnant a few weeks after having a dance-off to ABBA. The resulting little cousins are 3 weeks apart. (Mine's the goof ball.)

Hmm, time for another dance off?





Speaking of music, if my husband doesn't pick up Josh Groban's Christmas CD for my birthday that I asked for last year he will have thrice dissed me. Putting it on my MP3 is an acceptable option...


There's a song in my heart and the words are usually a little off. I get this from my mom and now I'm passing it on to my son. I heard the little guy singing American Boy to himself yesterday when he was playing with his trains (which I've been kind of humming and singing.) I was listening hard because there's this part I don't know the words to, so I wanted to see what he was putting in. It was all cute, nonsensical gibberish until the words kicked back in. His grandmother, watching us from Heaven, and I take full credit.


And, oh man, you should see his/our dance moves...


**Coming up in December, I am going to introduce you to the original Superstar of the family whom I just learned has been cast in a school play! We are so excited!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Binkie update

On Friday we went to HEB and Only Child picked out the most expensive Lightning McQueen ever. This is the new one that walks, dances, shimmies and shakes.

Totally out of character for me to readily part with plenty-a-bucks, but I couldn't refuse him this indulgence. This bribe, I figure, is a whole lot cheaper than braces will be. Even with M&M's friends and family discount (that we've never discussed but I'm sure exists.)

M&M, by the way, is my old friend from high school and you'll be meeting her soon along with some other special girls.


So Only Child's last binkie was bartered out of his sweet little hands with a present that he would later rue wholeheartedly.

For our last hurrah, we decided on a picnic of kolaches and donuts the next morning at the lake to finish what we started. He went right to sleep after Happy Hour. (No we didn't spike his drinks.) He only asked for the binkie once and didn't argue when I tucked-in the new car instead.

In hindsight, we should have had the exorcism before opening the toy. Because...

The power went out at about 1:30 am. This is a major deal in our house because the kid only sleeps to the white noise of a box fan and requires a night light. We should have learned our lesson during Ike and acquired battery-operated whatnots. What can I say? We are slow learners.

And on the very night he gave up his precious!

I spent what seemed like forever trying to comfort him in our bed. He was lobbying hard for it by then and the new car was trash. Finally, fatigued and having exhausted every argument he could manage, he announced, "I'm so sad because I want my binkie!" and broke down in full-body sobs.

Then he begged and pleaded because he knew it was still in the house.

God gave me strength for two, because the fight was long over for MMA. If Only Child had sensed a hint of the discord that was in our bed, the jig would have been up. I think I saw dad's emotion overflowing on to the pillow. I'm not sure, it was dark.

The nasty cold front winds finally blew through and the electricity eventually came back on. We made it through our first night, barely. And now we've made it through a second night. It really was like losing a dear friend for him and that was sad to watch.

Is anyone hearing me who has older kids? Is it easier to tell a teenager "no"?

Because the road is long and I've but little gas left in the tank.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Butt Burners -- Eating them is only HALF the fun!

Ready to try my Butt Burners? I'm not sayin' they're great for you. But they are great!



Fair disclosure -- my SIL, an amateur triathlon jock, laid the foundation for this idea when she served up homemade jalapeno poppers at her house one family get-together. Her fabulous version is wrapped in a big honkin' piece of bacon and dripping with cheese. They were decadent and I ate more than my fair share as the wheels were turning in my head.

My recipe resembles hers, with the added bonus that you don't have to mess with raw bacon. In fact, (and don't you love taking advertising at face value...) the package of bacon bits claims that eating "bits" cuts the fat of bacon in half. Money!

And did you know that jalapenos have more vitamin C than oranges? Or so I was told last Friday. Eat a dozen of these babies and you've got yourself a balanced meal, Houston-style, which at last check was a contender for "Fattest City" again.

Ingredients:
Jalapenos
Cream Cheese
Shredded Cheddar Cheese (preferably sharp)
Real Bacon Bits

Instructions:
Cut the jalapenos in half. Scoop out the seeds and most of the veins (this is where most of the heat comes from.) If you're a bad-ass, leave some veins in. If you're from up north, drop the jalapeno shells in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds and continue from there.

Spoon Cream cheese to the top of the jalapeno shells.

Get out two small bowls. Pour bacon bits in one and cheddar in the other.

One by one, turn the jalapenos face down into the bacon bits making sure a generous amount sticks to the cream cheese. Then turn the jalapenos over into the cheddar or sprinkle the cheddar on top of each jalapeno. Squish the cheese on by hand a little so it doesn't fall off before it melts on.


Bake them at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Medium-sized jalapenos are ready at 12 minutes.


Come back and tell me what a rock star I am for posting this recipe.

Helpful Hints: don't bother to make less than 12 jalapenos because they are really good cold the next day. If you wear contacts, wear a plastic bag over your hand. Ask me how I know?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"It's Friday! Field Trip Day! Its Fun People, Fun Time!"

If you have kids, you've seen the blithe and spirited Madagascar and you know what I'm talkin' about. When we start quoting scenes from that one, its closing in on the weekend and Fridays at our place are infamously merry.

I've always loved the idea of happy hour. I'm all about finger foods, festive cocktails, and a smidge of debauchery. So, to me, HH is an excuse for a weekly-party!

After we moved to Pearland, where the HH scene is flousy, we started a tradition -- Friday night cocktails at home. MMA occasionally took in a cigar, the drinks flowed, munchies maybe...By the time we made it to dinner, the nice families were clearing out and it was perfect for us.

That was our thing for a couple of years. We modified it to mock-tails while I was pregnant and then started up again after the baby was finally sleeping through the night. But as a baby gets older, you may know, dining out becomes a chore; therein, we evolved again.

Now we break out the beverages no later than 6. Even kids get to have a pretty drink with a cherry or an umbrella. Dinner is melange of finger foods like Buffalo Chicken tenders, chips and salsa, stuffed mushrooms, mini corn dogs, egg rolls, and my signature "Butt Burners."

Some of it's frozen and some is home made. But it's 100% magically-delicious. We don't worry about eating at the table or getting our veggies in because "Its Fun People Fun Time!"

If you drive by my cul-de-sac on a Friday night, you will see a whole mess-a-kids running around playing and the adults enjoying a cold one, because Superstar's Cocktail Hour has caught on! (I called it, so I'm taking credit.)

I can't wait to share my Butt Burner recipe with you tomorrow. This is the frat-house-lil'-sis of appetizers: they are cheap and easy and everyone loves 'em!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

All about me, again, today. And why didn't I start blogging sooner?

I'm so humbled to be given a nod by Chacha who is a full member of a circle of bloggers that I admire. She is the author of the funny and sarcastic Chasing Imperfection. If you want to lose yourself in someone else's remodeling headaches, head on over!

This means I'm at least a fringe to real bloggers. Just two short months ago, I was nothing in the blogging world, and look at me now! Here's the award:






The rules:

1. List 5 things I love

2. Tag 5 other bloggers

3.Link back to me

Here goes:

I love my boys and my family. I love my girlfriends who are all so different and beautiful. I love the holidays and can't wait to have some festive pretties around the house. I love our great country. I love food and wine. I love God. That's more than five and I could go on and on.

My blogosphere is pretty limited, but here are a few I like to read:

1. Kellie at La Vida Dulce who is on a self-imposed time out.

2. Megan at Saving Our Cents is the real deal when it comes to frugal tricks.

3. Christie at These are a Few of my Favorite Things has a great outlook on life and loves to make fun of herself for our enjoyment.

It would be fun to meet these people. I bet I would like them just as much in real life...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Who's up for Simple-Living?

For everyone out there who loves to design and
snazzy-up the home, check out Queen of My Trailer. Its proof-positive that with a little elbow grease and imagination, you can make anything pretty and comfortable.


Who'd a thunk it?

So I want to ask, would you trade your current digs for debt-free living in a cute trailer like this?

What if you could park that trailer on the edge of Lake Travis or in Vail, Colorado and work part-time as a park ranger -- or something else fun and impractical that pays in lifestyle-benefits?


I've been reading my brother's blog in earnest. He and his wife are in the Peace Corp stationed in Kyrgyzstan (which is roughly between Afghanistan and China.) The living conditions are "deadening", the cold is brutal, there is no hot water for showers, in fact, he's worried about having enough water to drink. The outhouse at home is on unstable ground and could collapse, he fears.

They were gifted a free night at the Hyatt in the nearest big city last weekend. Well, it recharged them body and soul to keep up the important work they were sent to do.

I think this cozy, humble little trailer would look like a 4 star palace to them. Wait, I am thinkin' it looks pretty sweet to me, here in suburbia.

Who's with me?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rite of Passage

Only Child is on a three-step program to lose the binkie.

Now that he can articulate all the reasons why he needs and loves it, he's probably old enough to understand that it's bad for his teeth. Right?

This has been a source of disagreement between MMA & Superstar for, ohhhhh, about 18 months now. MMA thinks he'll drop the binkie when he's good and ready and "what does it hurt to allow him a simple pleasure." He's also mentioned that Only Child looks so darn cute in his jammies with his blanket and binkie...clearly daddy's got a soft spot.

Until now, my efforts have been half-hearted. But I was given friendly, professional permission to get rid of it by any means necessary. Only Child is ready. He is happy and well-adjusted. Its not like we're getting rid of Lightening McQueen, by God. The real question is, am I ready?

So today, despite the nasty drizzle and dropping temperatures we went to the park near our house to throw the binkies in the lake. We made up a cute story about how he didn't need them anymore because he's getting so big, but the baby alligators in the water did need them.

We kept just one binkie, and later, with encouragement, he will give that one to the alligators, too. Then we're going straight to HEB, his favorite store, to get some homemade tortillas and pick out a big boy surprise from the toy department.

Only Child was hesitant when we got to the lake. He asked me more than once if his binkies could stay in the car while we played.

"No, sweetie, if we get out of the car, we're throwing the binkies in the lake."

"But, if you'd rather wait (it was so ugly and I just flat-ironed my hair) we can come back tomorrow." I'll admit to sentimental second thoughts.

I made sure he understood what is a hard lesson for anyone, especially a three year old. That is, if you throw "it" in the lake, you can't get it back. But maybe you'll get something even better because you were brave.

So in the end, he made the decision to go for it. He gave them each a little kiss, said good-bye and tossed them in. He was not dispirited at all. We watched them float for a little bit and then he ran around in the rain with furious energy. If there was a heavy heart, it was mine.

By the time we got home he was shivering and asked me to make him feel better. So I wrapped my baby boy in blankets and gave him hot chocolate with marshmallows and we called daddy to tell him the good news.

Dreary-almost-winter days are a perfect excuse to put the house work on hold and cuddle over hot chocolate with your best little guy who still needs you.

So the rite of passage I wanted to tell you about is not "baby loses binkie." It's "mom accepts another bittersweet milestone of watching baby grow into a man."

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Recipe...for getting to know me

I'm taking a break from politics to discuss a subject I'm even more passionate about: FOOD! Maybe I'll start a tradition of talking about FOOD on FRIDAYS.

I love food and food loves me back! I've come to terms with the fact that I'll never have a taut stomach because I like food, wine and Skittles way too much. I'm a girl who eats beef at least 3 times a week. I love ball park nachos, Philly cheese steaks, and I dream about Frito pies.

Am I sounding double-wide to you?

If I wanted to get all fancy, I could tell you about my killer ceviche, but that's for another day.

Today I'm going to share, exclusively for my readers, the award-winning Chicken Chili that made me famous on Halloween. Everyone keeps congratulating me and telling me how much they enjoyed the chili (except my own MMA who refuses to acknowledge what a big deal I am.) And I am loving the spotlight!

...Not bashful about selling this chili; it's so good, it has its own motto:

Superstar's Chicken Chili*
"Share the spotlight!"

2 T olive Oil
1.5 lb chicken breast cut into large cubes
1 med onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 can chicken broth
1 16oz jar Salsa Verde (I used La Sabroza brand)
2 cans Rotel tomatoes with Chili seasoning
1 sm zucchini peeled and diced
1 sm squash peeled and diced
pinch of oregano
pinch of ground coriander seed
pinch of cumin
1 can navy beans drained and rinsed
1.5 cups frozen corn
2 corn tortillas (processed into tortilla-meal)
1 T cilantro minced
optional vegetables to flavor broth

(This was my process, but it could be done the same day, cooking the chicken in the crock pot.) The night before: boil the cubed chicken in the broth and add optional vegetables to flavor (such as celery, onion, garlic and cilantro.) After the chicken is cooked, scoop out the vegetables and discard. Shred the chicken and return to the broth.

The next day: saute the onion and garlic until slightly browned. Put the chicken and broth in a crock pot on low 6-7 hours before it is needed. Add onion & garlic, Rotel tomatoes, salsa verde, cumin, oregano and coriander. 3-4 hours before serving time, add the squash, zucchini and cilantro and one cup of water if needed. One hour before serving time, add tortilla-meal and mix well. Then add the beans & corn (adding them after all the mixing keeps them from breaking up.) Turn up to high and allow the mixture to slightly boil...this will thicken the chili.

Garnish with sour cream, pico de gallo and tortilla chips. Serves 6-8.

(I didn't add any additional salt or spice and it was pretty spicy. I might try substituting one can of mild Rotel next time to make it more family -friendly. I also thought about adding some diced bell pepper for color but didn't have any.)

*I gleaned heavily from White Bean Chicken Chili found at Allrecipes.com. I would appreciate any comments or suggestions, especially if you try it out!