Sunday, February 28, 2010

celebrating moms

If you've spent any time watching the Olympics the past two weeks, you've probably seen one of these commercials.  Pup #4, who has become as avid sports (and I mean any sport) fan has cajoled me into watching some of the events with him.  I remember being a kid and thinking the Olympics were just so special.  It seemed like you had to wait... like... forever for them to come around and of course not watching was just un-American. But these were also the days when a space shuttle launch almost shut down a nation with wonder and anticipation and sweet, innocent children couldn't wait until Sunday night to watch "The Wonderful World of Disney" (and if you begged hard enough were really good, you got to watch "Wild Kingdom" too). It's been fun spending time with the pup and having conversations with him that I feel like I can contribute to (as opposed to anything with BioShock or Madden 10 as a lead-in). 

These commercials are part of a series done by Proctor & Gamble.  I am not sure who the clever marketing person is, but he earned his pay with these.  They push all the right buttons and for me an unexpected one... They have made me miss my mother.  My mom wasn't the hockey mom type (or any other type) and it took me a long time to be okay with that.  But the truth is, she was my mom and that's the person she knew who to be. Lately, there's been a few times I've really missed her and it makes me wonder if that feeling will ever go away. It also makes me cherish my own pups a little more.

So, in celebration of moms everywhere, enjoy these videos. (Thanks P&G.)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

i want

It's Friday night.  The gateway to the weekend.  It holds all the promise in the world.  On this end of things it is so promising... come Sunday, it will be a memory and hopefully not a disappointment. So this weekend...

I want...

  • to have the energy to do all the laundry
  • to have all the right words to say to the people I love
  • to spend just a little time concentrating on me
  • sleep in past 7:00am
  • make Countrymouse laugh
  • re-establish an old friendship
  • get those damn Christmas ornaments put away (yeah, right)
  • enjoy the fellowship of like-minded people
  • make a menu for the upcoming week
  • update my iPod
  • do my floors (the chore I hate the most)
  • look over my genealogy
  • send a few e-mails to people I've let slip off the radar
  • catch-up on all the posts in my Google Reader
  • call my sister and wish her the happiest of birthdays (oh, the 30s are the good years)
  • remember a few good memories

What are you hoping to do this weekend??

Friday, February 26, 2010

world market

I know I've had a lot of music and/or video posts here lately.  I can't help myself sometimes.  I really do love music. I realize, however, you may not love my love of music. So I will try to give you a break (I said try)... but after this post. Okay?

I was on You Tube (yes, again!) and watched some videos of an artist I like, Anggun.  She is an Indonesian singer/songwriter, who sings in both English and French.  I mentioned her in my Snow Playlist post. You can read more about her here. The song I included in the playlist, Snow on the Sahara, is probably her most popular song.

I watched the video for Snow on the Sahara.  It was good.  Visually interesting, beautiful woman, pretty song...

I generally enjoy what's known loosely as World Music, so when I saw the video for the same song in French, I was thrilled.  This version's video was obviously produced for a non-American market.

What do you think?  I think at some point, I just stopped listening to the song and started to try to figure out the video (which I didn't). What kind of message was that anyway?  I need to show it to Countrymouse next time he pisses me off doesn't see eye-to-eye with me. Another reason to be glad to be an American.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

ten little bits of randomness

I feel like being random tonight, so here we go...

  • I pretty much eat the same breakfast every day.  This is kinda surprising coming from someone who thrives on the vices spice life has to offer. Well, it's not every day... just on the days I go to work (which feels like every day). (On the weekends, it's probably way too much coffee, some scrapple and, if I'm living right, some champagne.) I have a pouch of instant oatmeal (either SF Maple Brown Sugar or plain with dried cherries), a cup of yogurt and a piece of fruit. You're probably thinking, "How boring!" but I really do like it. 
  • I'm hooked on Chobani Greek yogurt.  (See above.) It is so wonderfully thick and creamy, I feel like it should be dessert. 
  • I have fallen off the Lost wagon.  Yeah, like I didn't see that coming.  I made it through the second episode.  At this point, I'm thinking I might as well bite the bullet and start with Season 1. (This will make my niece very happy, since she thinks party crashing at the end is just sacrilegious.)
  • I still haven't put away my Christmas ornaments.  They are sitting on cookie sheets in a corner of my bedroom.  I am mortified (but not motivated).
  • I have given up soda.  I really don't care for it and I know it's not good for me.  (That's not to say, I'll never drink it... just reserving my options here). 
  • I am the kind of consumer big companies frown upon... I have very little brand loyalty.  Truth is, I am always looking for a bargain.  Countrymouse has been doing more of the shopping lately. He loves a bargain even more than I do. Unfortunately, his attempts at saving money have not always resulted in the best outcomes.  (This is not a complaint... I am happy not to be schlepping to the market every afternoon.) So, I do get that it is a balance between cost and quality.  Some things I am brand loyal to: Cottonelle bathroom tissue, Ponds Cold Cream and Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing.
  • I have my motorcycle license, but haven't driven a bike in about 5 years.
  • We tend to always order plain cheese pizza around the Mouse House.  I don't care for all the meat toppings and everyone else loves them. It's the only one we agree upon.
  • I've been hankering for a cheesesteak sub with raw onions and mushrooms (and gobs of hots) for two weeks now.
  • I am secretly hoping to wake up tomorrow to a blizzard.  Well, not really a blizzard, but enough snow that I can call in to work and say I am working from home without looking like a wussy-girl.

And because it wouldn't be right not to have at least something to look at... a video. (Full disclosure time:  Countrymouse has been teasing me about all the "country" music I've been including on my posts.  He keeps saying the country is taking over the city. Ha! I laugh in your face Countrymouse!)

I've Been Thinking by Handsome Boy Modeling School featuring Cat Power.  Awesomeness!  You should also check out their song The World's Gone Mad.  I couldn't embed the video, but you can see it here.  (It's worth the trip.) Oh and sorry about the Winamp-esque visuals on this video. (I am a slave to You Tube.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

audra mae

I've been listening to Audra Mae for a few months.  The first time I heard her, I was frantic to find something to write her name on so I wouldn't forget. If you've got a heart in that chest of yours, her voice is bound to shake your soul. Her hauntingly beautiful voice could probably handle any genre of music she chose to sing, but she seems most at home in Americana/country noir with the likes of Neko Case, Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welsh.  I've read plenty of reviews that compare her to the awesome Ms. Case and I have to say, I agree. Her voice, much like Case's, is strong and pure. 

Mae released her EP, Haunt, back in October, and has had some exposure along the way... most notably, her a cappella cover of Bob Dylan's "Forever Young" featured on the FX series Sons of Anarchy and penning "Who I Was Born to Be" for Britain's Got Talent runner-up, Susan Boyle's, debut album.

I recommend you have a listen now, before the powerhouse that is Audra Mae goes supernova.  (And if you ignore my advice... I'll be sure to say "I told you so, nanny nanny boo boo.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

good happens

Countrymouse and I had a somewhat lazy afternoon, something we don't usually do.  Don't get me wrong... we goof off plenty and have lots of unproductive days, but we usually delude ourselves that we really are doing something more worthy.  On Saturday, we watched a movie and a half (ish).  The half movie was Adventureland.  It was so bad, we turned it off after about 30 minutes. (Although, my 16-year old son liked it.)  Luckily, we had another, New In Town. (Thank God for Netflix).  This is a romantic comedy starring Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick, Jr.  A nice way to spend the afternoon.

I really did like the movie, but I loved the soundtrack.  (For a list of the tracks and a sampling, click here.)  Probably my favorite track is "Another Country" by Tift Merritt (but I always like her stuff) followed by an offering by Elizabeth and the Catapult (love them too) entitled "Race You" and you can never go wrong with T. Rex ("20th Century Boy"). Another song, "Life is Good" by Brittini Black caught my attention.  I had never heard of her before, so I checked her out. She wrote the songs for her album Good Happens, on which you'll find "Life is Good", because...
"With all the global issues we're dealing with and the negativity in the news everyday, I wanted to put out an upbeat record so that I could get out there and help people focus on the good that happens all around us everyday...its there, but sometimes we just don't see it. I want my music to help make people smile, even if it's only for the few minutes that they're listening to my songs".
If you've read some of my other posts, you know I firmly believe we are responsible for what we think and that each of us has the ability to change our thinking when it gets off course.  This lines right up with that philosophy. I admire Brittini's motivation and the fact that she was ready to put her money where her mouth is.

Life really is good... even in the dark times.

Hope you find something good to smile about today.

Monday, February 22, 2010

by george, it's your birthday!

Today is George Washington's birthday.  Once upon a time (aka when I was a young girl) he got his own special day.  We had off from work and school, there were parades.  Nowadays, we have overlooked poor George, opting to (incorrectly) recognize all our presidents instead... the ubiquitous President's Day.  On the surface this sounds like a positive way to honor these men, however, I am not so sure that some of our presidents deserve that recognition.  Harsh, I know... but true. However, there have been some men who have served our country as President and truly do deserve the recognition and heartfelt thanks from us as a nation. George Washington leads the way.

I think George Washington may well have been our greatest President. He played key roles in both the American Revolution and the Constitutional Convention. He saw the importance of establishing a strong central government and the responsibility of the Federal Government to "insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, [and] promote the general Welfare."

Washington showed extreme insight and judgement when he limited his time in office to just two terms and rejected attempts to make him king, making him the first figure in history to voluntarily relinquish power at that level. He was deeply cognizant of how his example would set a precedent for future generations.  Washington was a man of principle, courage and devotion.

Perhaps, the truest barometer of character is what others say about us.  Some thoughts about our country's Founding Father....

First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in humble and enduring scenes of private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform, dignified, and commanding; his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting.... Correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand. The purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues.... Such was the man for whom our nation mourns.

Official eulogy of Washington, written by John Marshall
and delivered by Representative Richard Henry Lee, December 26, 1799

Perhaps the strongest feature in his character was prudence, never acting until every circumstance, every consideration, was maturely weighed; refraining if he saw a doubt, but when once decided, going through with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed. His integrity was pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision. He was, indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good, and a great man.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Walter Jones, January 2, 1814

Wherever men love liberty, wherever they believe in patriotism, wherever they exalt high character, by universal consent they turn to the name of George Washington. No occasion could be conceived more worthy, more truly and comprehensively American, than that which is chosen to commemorate this divinely appointed captain.

Calvin Coolidge, address marking the 150th anniversary

of Washington's taking command of the Continental Army, July 3, 1925

So, Mr. Washington... happy birthday and thank you from a grateful nation.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

blacking out what isn't necessary

Today I stumbled upon Austin Kleon. I don't even know where to begin to describe this guy. He would tell you he's a "writer that draws".  That's like saying that Tabasco is a sauce that's spicy. Kleon is the author of Newspaper Blackout.  His is a clever approach. He takes a newspaper page and a Sharpie and eliminates the words he doesn't need to create his poems.

I think this is pretty ingenious.

When looking around his blog on his website, I also read about his logbook.  This is his own innovative approach to keeping track of his days. He admits that he is too lazy to keep a traditional diary (I hear ya, brother) and instead prefers to keep a book of lists. However, he puts his own crafty spin on these lists...

What a great concept!  Now, I can't draw and I am not sure my middle-aged, middle-America lifestyle makes for interesting lists, but it is a thought...

What do you do to chronicle your days?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

and they call it puppy love

(Okay... I couldn't help myself.  I wouldn't normally subject you to this, but how could I not??  Here is Donny Osmond in all his 15-year old glory back in 1972.  Can anyone say Jonas Brothers, minus the white Elvis-esque jumpsuits, of course ?)

Have you ever noticed how there are pets and then there are pets?  When my little brother's family moved from California back to Maryland last August, they brought their pet cats and they brought their pet dog, Macho. Señor Macho is a chihuahua and little as he is, he is Mr. Personality. 

J Ro didn't know she wanted (or needed) a dog until Little Brother brought him home one night after a trip south of the Border. (As Countrymouse is fond of saying, Macho really is an illegal.) You can read about that here. The truth is, she couldn't imagine her life without him now. And strangely enough, I'm not sure we could either.

Countrymouse will tell you he's not a pet person.  He grew up in the country and there were always animals around but none of them made the cut to be pets. The truth is, Countrymouse has a little chihuahua-sized spot in his heart for a certain dog. On the roadtrip from California to Maryland, guess who kept Countrymouse company?

(Oh, and my nephew too.)

Macho actually is a frequent guest over here at the mouse house. He and our kitten Kiki are buds. (Our My other cats, won't socialize with her and, in fact, would like to whack her.  (We don't call them the Italians for nothing!) More about them another time.) Countrymouse has even been known to arrange play dates for Macho and Kiki.

Part of Macho's appeal is that he acts like a cat but still has a canine pack mentality.  Happily, he sees all of us as his pack (even Kiki).  

I am not sure how a 5-pound dog can wiggle his way into your family, but Macho surely has.  Ahora sé por qué lo llaman amor cachorro.

Friday, February 19, 2010

awards night

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive.  ~Anäis Nin

During the past week or so, I have received two blogger awards from some new bloggy friends.  I am both tickled and touched.  

The first award comes from Kelly at Kellyansapansa, who writes about her sweet, crazy life in South Australia.  (I love that Kelly reads my blog overnight (because of the time difference) and I get to start off my day reading her comments.)

Kelly has bestowed upon me the Happy Award.

Part of the responsibility of receiving this award is to list 10 things that make me happy.  So here goes:
1. My family
2. Waking up and finding out I still have another hour (or more) to sleep
3. Gyros
4. Stumbling upon a real find at Goodwill
5. Hearing Countrymouse laugh
6. Having my feet rubbed
7. Comments on my blogs
8. When my cats let me pet them
9. Having all the laundry done
10. Champagne

The second award is from GregoryJ at living my life, whatever. Greg has lived a colorful life and shares a lot of it on his blog.  He very graciously has given me The Beautiful Blogger Award.

This award asks that you list 7 things about yourself.  So, without further ado, here is my list:
1. I have really big feet (size 11).
2. My favorite colors are orange, yellow and red.
3. I wear black tights all winter long. (They go with everything.)
4. I live in a 102 year old house.
5. My eyes are blue and probably my best feature.
6. If it were possible, I'd move to Venice tomorrow.
7. I'm originally from The Bronx.

The final requirement for both of these awards is that  you share the love and pass them on.  If you are like me, you enjoy discovering new blogs.  Think of this as a bloggy meet and greet. I seriously hope you stop by and visit these folks... I wouldn't steer you wrong. (Lord knows, I spend a lot of time there.)  Since I am handing out two awards, I am limiting each one to five recipients. (And my apologies if you've already recently received these from another adoring fan.)

The Happy Award goes to:
1. Sarah at E-man Adventures (and other Bucior fun) because she always makes me smile, IRL and here
2. Jess at yes to jess/a random day in the life of a first time mom because she keeps me young and connected
3. Christy at Confessions of a Misplaced Southern Belle because she exemplifies true friendship 
4. Shauna Glenn at because this woman is hilarious
5. Jenny at Somewhere, Knitting because she deserves to be happy

The Beautiful Blogger Award goes to: 
1. Poppy Buxom at The Beauty Boomer because this lady has style
2. Beth at Anti-Supermom because in spite of her blog title, she really does have it all together
3. Jenny Mac at Let's Have a Cocktail because I love her snarkiness
4. Lori at what's after 29? because her take on things is pretty spot on
5. Anything Fits a Naked Man at Anything Fits a Naked Man because her blog title makes me laugh and she is super sweet

I think I really could have doubled both of these lists! Take a trip on over and meet these peeps.  Tell 'em Citymouse sent you.  And while you're here, please comment with the name of a blogger you think deserves props and you'd like to promote. There's a whole lotta love to go around.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

un centesimo

In the words of the great Fred Wesley..."Gonna have a house party... Everyone say PARTY."

This is officially my 100th blog post. Woot! woot! I know this is much more exciting to me than the rest of you all (that's the plural form of "you", for you non-Marylanders).  It's a milestone for me. As someone who enjoys life in the low-key lane, celebrating any kind of milestone, in and of itself is a big deal.  When I turned 40, I declined a party, enjoying a nice dinner with a few friends and family at a favorite restaurant instead. (This was in sharp contrast to Countrymouse's all out 40th birthday bash for 60 people.) So when I sent the following to my peeps, it got their attention...

Click to play this Smilebox invite: 100th

In all fairness, I need little reason to pop open some champagne and this seemed like a good midweek occasion. (Besides the fact that I'm pretty tickled with myself.)  I considered saving the celebration for my blog birthday blogiversary (I'm learning, I'm learning) in March but I thought just having a blog isn't the same as blogging.  Yeah, I've had some dry spells but that's just life and life is what I write about, so there ya have it. (Never mind that we'll probably open some champagne for that too!)

Some photographic highlights (shot with my new camera, but don't get your hopes up... I have a looong way to go).

It was a fun night.  If you're like me, you're quicker to dwell on your negatives than focus on an accomplishment. It's nice to shine a little around the people you love (and love you).  I probably need to do more of it and celebrate my family's milestones too, big and small. (And drink more champagne!)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

do the na'vi bend air ?

The women who write many of the blogs I read are mothers, just like me. However, they are mothers of "littles" and I am not.  Been there, done that. My pups currently range from 14 to 22... nothin' little about them anymore. So when these ladies write about breastfeeding or baking cookies together, I do know what they are talking about, but they are sweet memories at this point. Sometimes I feel out of the loop. I have the same problem with my Baby Sister.  Her "littles" are ages 1 and 2.  Her Facebook posts talk about things like Yo Gabba Gabba (apparently a hip, musical kids show) and Robeez (cute, little footwear for your tots, so I am told). I chalk all this up to life. I can only hope that once I have grandmice to tend to, I'll be in the know again.

Having said that, my youngest pups aren't that old, so when I heard there was this new movie coming out called "The Avatar", I thought I knew just what it was about.  

This fella:

                                                                                     Not these:
Nope.  Seems that "The Avatar" has nothing to do with Japanese anime or bending air or elements.

Considering the movie grossed $2,243,499,113, I'd say a lot of people didn't mind.  (Frankly, I haven't seen it.  I think I'll probably leave my memories of the Alpha Centauri star system with Will Robinson and the cast of Lost in Space.)

Imagine my surprise this week when I saw this trailer for "The Last Airbender":

I'll just take this as proof that I am truly not out of the loop and over the hill.  Yay!  (Hush your mouth.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

replacing my soul with coffee

This strip popped up on Countrymouse's page-a-day calendar the other day. I had originally come across this Dilbert cartoon a few years ago.  The middle panel is actually on my fridge.  My unequivocal love of coffee is the stuff of family lore.  It's okay, I proudly own it.  My mother was a tea drinker and my father has always been a coffee drinker.  That made perfect sense to me as a little girl.  My mother's tea was always sweet and creamy and my father's coffee strong and black.  It just kinda summed up who they were.  As kids, we'd share a little of my mother's tea but never Dad's coffee.  Even now when I am feeling the need for comfort, I'll have a mug of tea with honey and cream.

I started drinking coffee in college.  At first, I drank it like my tea... half cream and a ton of sweetener.  It gives me the heebie jeebies to think about that now.  I soon ditched the sweetener and eventually the cream. I cannot tell you how thankful I am that I like my coffee black... which means it's pretty much calorie-free.  (Although, calories never seem to stop me when it comes to wine.)  My one weakness is Caramel Macchiatos .  At a whopping 340 calories for a whole milk Venti Caramel Macchiato, they are truly a treat and I savour every sip.

I don't have time this morning to work on a coffee playlist to share with you (although, I'm definitely adding it to projects list).  However, I will share just one song by the wonderful Sarah Vaughn.  Enjoy!

Monday, February 15, 2010

outdoing himself

How's this for the mack daddy of all Valentine's Day gifts?

I don't even know what to say except I love my husband! 
(And of course, Thank You!)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

just when is valentine's day?

The day that strikes terror in the hearts of most blue-blooded American males is upon us... Valentine's Day.  Countrymouse, being the all around good guy that he is, usually tries to rise to the occasion. Some years he out-does himself and others, well, not so much.  The problem Countrymouse usually has is that he forgets which date is Valentine's Day.  (Hellooo... how old do you have to be before you realize that February 14th comes around every year? Especially since this is the man that still remembers that Windows 95 was released on August 24, 1995.)

The truth is, Countrymouse is my Valentine every single day.  It's not his style to be mushy (which quite frankly, a girl just plain ol' wants sometimes) but he is always loving.  And I am a smart enough mouse to know that almost 3 decades of sure and steady love is more romantic than flowers any day.

Having said all that, I have to admit that I have dropped the proverbial Valentine's Day ball this year.  Valentine's Day is tomorrow, and Countrymouse has been chomping at the bit to give me my gift for days. (And, I don't think he's referring to the big box of Russell Stover dark chocolates I saw on his desk.) Knowing what I got him, this makes me anxious. In my defense, we've had two blizzards in a week and my Jeep is still stuck in a bank of snow in the driveway. (Countrymouse has been chauffeuring me around because he doesn't want me to drive in this mess... that is, on the days we could even get out.) So... I did my shopping for him yesterday at the hospital gift shop.  Can I get a big LAME-O?? Yeah.  This is the best I could do...

(There were plenty of pink and blue teddy bears and pretty flowers to choose from... but Countrymouse is not exactly the bear hugging, flower sniffing type.)

If the shoe were on the other foot, I'd probably have my feelings hurt that he hadn't planned better. (I didn't say that was fair, now.)  I know he won't care that I just got him some candy bars (they are his favorites, at least).  I love that about him.  

There's a lot of things I love about him. It goes without saying that he's a good father and husband. (He is.)  I thought in honor of Valentine's Day (and to try to make amends for my feeble gift giving skills this year), I'd list some of the less obvious ones...

* He makes me coffee every morning. (Even on the mornings I forget to set it up.)
* He doesn't complain (too much) about my cats.
* He lets me drive the Suburban on hot days so I can use the AC. (I drive a Wrangler without air.)
* He actually bought me the Wrangler when I turned 40 'cause I felt like I was getting old and losing my edge. (I'd kill to be 40 again.)
* He lets me travel all around the world (literally) and never complains about staying home with the pups.
* He misses my mom.
* He let me take him on a quest all around Venice to find a little shop I had seen the year before and bought me my very favorite piece of jewelry. (Now my signature piece.)
* When I've had a long day, he has a glass of wine ready for me when I walk in the door.
* He makes all the phone calls in the family. (Because I have phone phobia.)
* He never complains about all my trips to Goodwill.
* He reads my blog.
* He still thinks I'm sexy.

I could go on forever.  My life is good and without a doubt, all the good in my life is tied to Countrymouse.  I am one blessed mouse.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

lemonade and sushi

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

But what about when life gives you a whole effing grove of lemons?  

It's no secret that lately my life has been more in the grove category than the lonely lemon one. I have moments when I need a hand to help pull me out of the mire and I am very thankful for Countrymouse and my other peeps for doing that. Even though, I know ultimately I am responsible for my own state of mind.

So what do you do with a whole grove of lemons? You make enough lemonade for a party (and hope someone brings the vodka).

Thursday would have been my little brother's 45th birthday. It could have been a day overshadowed with sadness. I was determined not to let that happen.

Phil had a blog way before I ever did. His last entry was from 06/30/2008. In it he was looking forward to coming home from Afghanistan and having crabs and sushi.  (This is Maryland after all, the home of blue crabs and Old Bay.) Sushi meant going to General Tanuki's. Little brother loved sushi and we had shared many an adult beverage there. I couldn't think of a better place to be that night.

So Countrymouse, J Ro and I trekked through the snow to have some sushi and a few cocktails and remember Phil. Yeah, there were a few tears, but there were more laughs. That's the important part.

So here's to Phil... and never forgetting his love for life. Cheers. Cin cin. Salute. Proust.