Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Coffee Talk


My preferred coffee drinking conditions are the leisurely mornings. When I think of coffee, I think of those, even though we all know that the majority of mornings throughout our lives are not leisurely. Coffee is often associated with getting us going and moving towards a fruitful day.
Most mornings I am out of the house within 25 minutes of waking up. I shoot out of bed, shower, swipe on mascara, throw on a dress, put lunch in my bag, make up a bottle of ice water for the way in, slosh iced coffee into a tumbler during the summer, yell goodbye to my husband and the dogs, hurry out to my car and careen off through the neighborhood towards the train station. When I don't bring iced coffee from home, I don't even drink coffee until over an hour and a half after I wake up.

But who wants to think about those days? I'd rather think of the days when there's time for coffee to be savored and enjoyed, not those coffee on the go days. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I am constantly photographing coffee like it is Ian Somerhalder. 
I like the days I can sit out back while the dogs sniff around the yard, the days sitting on the front stoop watching the neighborhood wake up and inspecting my flower beds, the days I've been at the beach and can see the ocean over the rim of my cup,
the weeks I've been on a cruise ship and have enjoyed my coffee surrounded by nothing but water, mornings at Lori & Jack's where I sip and listen to the creek rushing by behind the house, times I've looked out the window and seen snow or rain and known I've had nowhere to go and nothing to do except to drink coffee, leisurely, all morning.
Is it Saturday yet? I'd like to be sipping my coffee leisurely in my quiet, clean living room. What are your ideal coffee drinking conditions?
Did I seriously just write a love letter to coffee? Have a good one.











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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Predictable MFD


Last Tuesday I shared some things MFD finds predictable about me. I said I would return the favor, but this was harder than I thought! To most people who know him, MFD is predictable in that he is unpredictable. You never know what he's going to do or say. Life with him is an adventure. At home, he's a little more predictable, but not much.
  • At restaurants, he will hem and haw over what to order and four out of five times will regret his decision when everyone's food arrives. 
  • He falls asleep with the TV on every night. 
  • He will say the word turd every single day. Multiple times a day. Usually in combination with another word. Like butt. Turdbutt. Or nerd. Nerdturd. 
  • When I ask what he wants or needs from the store, he will say one or more of the following: Ellios, Oreos, Kraft Mac & cheese, cranberry grape juice, milk, Life cereal, watermelon, razors
  • He always takes at least 40 minutes to get ready but thinks he can get showered and out the door in 15. 
  • If Star Wars or the Matrix is on, he's watching it. 
  • He will get a ticket from the Philadelphia Parking Authority at least once a month, which will be followed by me totally losing my shit.
  • He will want to hoard everything and never throw anything out.  
  • He is a wanderer. At large gatherings, on outings, everywhere. He will always wander off, and according to his parents, he's always been a wanderer from the time he was a little tow headed boy on the beach. People always ask, "Where's Doyle?" and think I should know because I'm his wife. I frequently have no idea. He'll turn up eventually, usually with a story of what he saw or did. Wait for it. 
  • He will always be a night owl. 
  • He will always want to be out later than I want to be out. 
  • He will want to do deep cleaning 20 minutes before guests arrive for a party. 
  • He will go to Wawa to get an ice cream cone at 8 p.m. or later at least once a week. 
  • He is king of the iron. He even irons undershirts. After all these years he is still horrified that I don't iron at all.
  • He will know somewhere every where we go. He's like the Mayor. 
  • He is not a cook who cleans as he goes. 
  • He rarely knows the words to songs, but he always knows the tune. 
  • He is a constant whistler.
  • He will always ask me where something is before he looks for it (said every woman about every man, ever). 
How is your partner predictable to you?

p.s. Suck it, Tuesday.

Monday, July 29, 2013

the last weekend in July that was

I'll be short and sweet here. I'm writing this Sunday night with the Sunday night blues and a lingering hangover. Not the best combination.
1 - Broken tile problems. WTF, right? And since the tile is so hideous and 1970s, it eventually has to be redone but not right now.
2 - Ghetto tile patch solution.  I'll add some grout and try not to ever look at it until it's time to redo it. It's ugly but it's better than a hole.
3 - Friday dinner was simple and awesome: grilled chicken, baked beans, cucumber salad
4 - Farmer's Market goods
5 - Canele
6 - What I'm reading and a little Essie Madison Ave-hue
Saturday afternoon we went to see Lauren & Kevin get married, went home to chill out, then off to the reception. Congratulations Dormans! It was a fun night. After the reception we went to a bar, which I did not need to do. I'm not even sure I was speaking English at that point.
Sunday I took the day off. No food prep, no chores, no blog until late. I dozed off and on and watched movies and House Hunters. It was excellent. My dad stopped by with (1) my new Dunkin mug from Carol, and I enjoyed not one but (2) two heirloom tomato sandwiches. They were so good I could cry.

Another Monday. Guess who I'm meeting for lunch today? Mrs. Axler, my fourth grade teacher who I wrote about last week.

I want to send Frank a huge happy birthday wish! Today is the day! Thanks again for posting the Friday Five Frank, it was a big hit.

Have a great one!










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Friday, July 26, 2013

The Friday Five - Frank's Rock Star Deluxe Edition

TGIF mofos! Today my long-time friend Frank Sannelli is taking over to bring you not one but TWO Friday Fives, like a rock star! We've been friends since high school, he was in our wedding and MFD was in his. Him and his wife Amanda are framily. He's a musician (guitar, vocals, entertainer), a mummer in the Uptown String Band (banjo, sequins, feathers), a salesman (windows), a husband (Amanda), a dog dad (Jackson), a Pearl Jam aficionado (fan club gold star member, son), a master griller (apron and all!) and a great friend. Take it away Fronk!
*****************************************************************************
I am so honored to be a guest on Life According to Steph.  Brian Compton, who used to edit my papers in college and wondered how I ever passed high school English, will be very proud of how far I have come.  When Steph sent me suggestions for Friday Five categories to write about I was really torn between two of them.  So I figured since it is technically the start of my birthday weekend (and we all know that Steph is an advocate for extended birthday festivities) that I would do two Friday Five lists.  So here goes.

Five Songs I Love to Perform Live
1.  Penny Lane - The Beatles
This song generally does not get the best crowd response but because of the difficulty involved, it is a song that makes me feel like a true musician.  Plus Paul is god.

2. I Want You Back - The Jackson Five
This song always gets people dancing and it is by far the most fun song to play.  I mean c'mon its the J5.

3. Mary Jane's Last Dance - Tom Petty
I love the funky groove of the verse and I can really nail the chorus vocally every night no matter what shape my voice is in.  Plus AJ usually ends up singing the back up vocals from the crowd which makes me laugh.

4. Two of Us - The Beatles
I usually don't get to sing harmonies because I primarily play solo so if I am performing this song it means that I am performing with Doyle and once we figure out who is Paul and John we usually hit the harmonies in a way that only we can.

5. Take it Easy - The Eagles
I often open with this song because it's easy and fun and helps me shake off any nerves I may have.  If you come see me play and I open with it, I am nervous. That is why it is the first song I ever performed at my first gig at Scruffy's/Diego's/Benchwarmers.

Ok on to my next Five.  I look back to my high school self all the time and think, "what a Jackass" so here are the

Five Things I Would Tell My High School Jackass Self
1. You will see more of the world and devote more of your heart to music than you will do anything related to football so get out of the weight room and into the concert choir room.

2. The people who tell you that this is the best time of your life really mean that it is the easiest.  Thank god it is not the best.

3. Open up your mind to people who you think you have nothing in common with, some of them will be groomsmen at your wedding.

4.  You have absolutely nothing figured out......Jackass.

5.  To quote the great Eddie Vedder, "Those who can be trusted can change their minds." Be careful who you give your heart to and see #3.

Hope you enjoyed my birthday Friday Fives.  Thank you so much Steph this is a true honor.  Cheap Plug....if you guys are looking for a fun night come see me play at Dolan's Irish Pub tomorrow night (Saturday 7/27), starting at 8 p.m.! Dolan's is in Burlington, NJ: 603 US 130 South.
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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Misc Thoughts on Thursday, aka Thursday Thoughts

1. I have spent too much time thinking about Downton Abbey and Homeland this week, as if they are real friends and things instead of shows on television. Come back soon, fake friends. Can't wait to see you.

2. Walking up or down a stationary escalator has to be one of the weirdest fucking things. I feel like I'm new at walking. Or that I'm going to fall on my face or to my death at any moment. I can't ever think, hear, or say escalator without thinking of Mallrats.
3. Sometimes on weekday mornings I get behind some sunglasses, swipe my lipstick on in the car on the way to the train station, and forget that I can't actually wear my sunglasses at work all day. So mascara at the least would've been a good idea. And by "sometimes" I mean every day.

4. Why do people who don't give a fuck about the royal baby care if other people give a fuck?  We don't care that you don't care, so you shouldn't care that we care. Care cuh care care CARE. So there. Is it news? No. A lot of things in the news aren't news. They're space fillers. I love that Kate was wearing polka dots like Diana wore polka dots when she brought William out to those steps. That was touching. Kudos to Kate's staff for making her hair and makeup look fabulous. Wouldn't it be lovely to have a staff sometimes?
5. We've lived in our house for four years. Just last week I found out there's a drop-in Zumba class two blocks from my house for $5 a pop. What the hell! My neighbor and I checked it out on Tuesday and left there dripping sweat after an hour. Heading back tonight! I'm happy to be getting back into my fitness groove. I was way off track for a very long time.

6. Who would like to buy me this bag? It's $125. Don't all chime in at once. Any color besides bone, really. Thanks in advance!
7. I got our electric bill for June, which resulted in much gnashing of teeth, hand wringing, and clucking. There's a new law of higher daily temperatures in our house. Sorry MFD. No more 66 degrees. I can at last cast off my winter parka inside my own home. Can you fucking believe it was 100 degrees outside and 66 degrees on the main level of my house? THERMOSTAT WARS, commence. Of course Wednesday night the air went off, the windows opened, the breeze was heavenly...and MFD shut the front door because it was cold. What?

8. Do you follow my college friend Jana's blog? Formerly blogging at her personal finance blog The Daily Money Shot, Jana is now over at Jana Says and branching out from personal finance to all things Jana. If you're not reading her, you should, and if you are, you should update your blog rolls. And follow her on the twits, the pinterest, the IG, etc. Check her out!

9. Happiness is coming home to a surprise BOX of free polarized sunglasses. Life is good when one of your BFFs is a sunglass designer maven. Thanks KVS!
10. This week in John Bender wisdom:
11. Ecard of the week. Halfway bitches are my type of people:

Happy little Friday, y'all.

Tomorrow I've got a special treat. My friend Frank is coming to you live like a rock star with his version of the Friday Five. Stay tuned.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tell me a story


My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Axler, told me I should never stop writing because I enjoyed it and it was a good outlet. Twenty-seven years later, I'm still in touch with her, and still heeding her advice.

I was an english lit major in college, very busy writing papers on Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, hating on Henry James in my senior seminar, doing power hours on random Tuesdays, riding around campus in grocery carts and acting foolish with my roommates at every opportunity. While I enjoyed writing, my arduous extracurricular bar tour schedule did not lend itself to creative writing in my spare time.

When I graduated, I'd get out special little writing notebooks to scrawl stories in on the weekend. I felt like I was watching myself play a girl trying to be a writer in a movie. I could only start in the middle or write vignettes. When I read the pages the next day, it was like an alien or an alter ego wrote them.

Professionally, I am concise in my writing, reigning queen of the bullet point, often swooping in and slashing the shit out of something with my editor's pen. Since I think in list format, this suits me: let's get to the point, shall we? Thinking in lists doesn't lend itself well to fiction writing if one does not expand on those lists and create paragraphs, characters, conversations, plots, themes, interest: all things that are vital to fiction. I don't make the transition from the bullet point to the story. Maybe I'm too busy, too undisciplined, too self conscious, too far gone into the world of business writing. Truthfully, I haven't written fiction in many moons and I have no desire to. Maybe a fiction novel isn't the story I'm meant to write. I don't think it's in my nature. After all, truth is stranger than fiction.

In the meantime, I still want and need that outlet of which the wise Mrs. Axler spoke, only now instead of creative writing, I'm writing to chronicle life: things I observe, where I go, what I do on the weekends, how I feel, what I think. I jot down lists, write bullshit silly stuff or something serious when the spirit moves me. I tell my stories and the stories I see. I have the freedom to write about whatever I want, and I find joy in the breadth of possibilities.

I am that person who notices the little things: the glint in an eye, the curve of a smile, the way a hand moves, what falls out of a purse, the moment someone is moved to act on a whim. Usually one thought or sentence spun off of an observation is all I need to get going. I like lobbing thoughts out like softballs for you to catch and I hope that my ability to connect with you is better than my actual ability to throw a real softball. Which totally blows in case you didn't get the context clues.
Thanks for reading what I put out on a whim. I'm grateful that you do.











Helene in Between
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Predictable Me by MFD


This extremely attractive photo was taken during a hurricane in Wildwood in September 2008. It always makes me laugh. 
This weekend, Dirty Dancing was on twice. Naturally, I watched it both times even though I a) own it and can see it without commercials whenever I want, and b) have seen it eleventy billion times. If it's on, I'm watching it, and you can take that to the bank. When it comes to certain things, we're all creatures of habit. To myself, I am a very predictable person because hello I live this shit, I know what I do all the time.

On our way to dinner Sunday night, I said to MFD, "Can you think of some ways I'm predictable?"

He burst out laughing and said, "You are so predictable in every way." We've been together for 11 years this September. I certainly hope I'm predictable to him in some ways, otherwise he'd be caught asleep at the wheel, you know what I'm saying? Of course, he's predictable to me in a lot of ways too. Cohabitation breeds familiarity.
I was curious what he'd come up with at a moment's notice since he doesn't like to be put on the spot about anything. Here is his minute and a half list of ways in which I'm predictable:
  • You are going to write a blog every day or every other day.
  • You want me to do chores right away, and you yell at me because I never do them right away.
  • You will prepare food for the week on Sunday. 
  • You will wake up at the last possible minute you can and still get to work on time.
  • You love water with lemon and a lot of ice. You use three glasses in one day and never finish any of them.
  • You leave those glasses in bizarre spots where glasses don't go, like on the entertainment center or on the front table by the door.
  • You go to Target and get the same things there all the time. You go to Redner's for certain things as opposed to Giant, which you never go to.
  • At bars you ask for ice in a glass for your beer.
  • When you're going somewhere, you will pack four days in advance at least.
  • You will have a very long and lengthy reading list for every vacation and you will finish all the books. 
  • You will look for shells on the beach.
  • You will always ask me to put lotion on your back and say, "Make sure you get under the straps" like I don't know to do that. 
  • Your birthday will be celebrated in grand fashion for a month. 
All of those things are true. The glasses thing cracked me up. I never noticed that I did that, but now that I think about it...

Here's something else predictable: Tuesday sucks. 

The End.

In what ways are you predictable?


Monday, July 22, 2013

the weekend that was

I went to my second job Friday night: hausfrau. I cleaned the kitchen, ran and emptied the dishwasher, made iced tea, cut up pineapple, put a load of laundry away, did two more loads of laundry, dusted the top and main floors, and picked up around the house. We were supposed to go see a friend's band but MFD wasn't feeling well so we stayed home, much to the dogs' delight.

1984 We came to the conclusion while watching Footloose that 1984 produced an abundance of awesome movies: Footloose, The Karate Kid, Sixteen Candles, Ghostbusters, Red Dawn, Police Academy,Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Beverly Hills Cop, Splash, Revenge of the Nerds, Romancing the Stone, Bachelor Party, The Muppets Take Manhattan, Johnny Dangerously...pretty impressive for one year, at least in my sophomoric loving movie mind. For the full list, click here.

Saturday morning I met Carly, the blogger behind The Pinot Project, for breakfast at the Great American Diner Pub. It was awesome to see her and linger over breakfast for a few hours shooting the shit. She went one way to run an errand for her husband, and I took off for the hellish Produce Junction. I actually got a parking space IN the lot, which is something to write about. After that I made two more stops to pick up a gift card and dog food.
After a relaxing brow wax and pedicure courtesy of a gift card,  I came out to see two girls running away from the secret message of love they scrawled on the car next to me. Go ahead, girls. Shake your love.
I made restaurant quality bread using Mimi's recipe. It was fucking amazing, and I ate it for dinner like a carb monster. Otherwise, I laid around with the dogs and watched SATC and Lifetime's Dirty Teacher. No, perverts, it was not dirty like that.
I started off the morning with Teen Witch, Dirty Dancing (take two for the weekend), and homemade cold brewed iced coffee.
I quickly moved on to weekly food prep, beginning with SkinnyTaste's cheeseburger casserole. I used red onions and let me tell you, it's a nice taste with the dijon mustard in there.
Ham and cheese egg muffins for this week's breakfasts: a few cubes of ham, green onion, and squares of pepperjack cheese in each little muffin pan + eleven eggs beaten with a dash of milk, some S&P, garlic powder and ground mustard baked at 350 for 30 minutes. You get 12 shallow square muffins, and likely 12 regular muffins out of this also. I take two per day and have a few extra.

Salmon quinoa salad for this week's lunches: Mix a packet of salmon + 1C cooked quinoa + chopped black olives, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers + capers + green onions + a bit of crumbled gorgonzola cheese + the juice of one lemon + olive oil + S&P, mixed well and portioned out for lunches. I got four 1.5 cup portions out of this. The amount you get will depend on how many veggies you add.
This week's other dinner is baked or grilled chicken with light spinach mac and cheese cups a la Emily Bites and steamed broccoli. For the mac and cheese cups, I used 2 oz muenster cheese and 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese and Barilla Plus elbows. These needed more salt than I initially added but they're quite tasty.
Sunday night found us at Vecchia Osteria for an early birthday dinner for Carol's 50th. I love BYOBs. And the vitello di limone was excellent.
We ended the evening at the hybrid Baskin Robbins/Dunkin Donuts for celebratory birthday ice cream. It also happened to be National Ice Cream Day, so it was fitting. Perfect ending to a day.

Did anyone else in the Philadelphia area stay up late to see Rob Jennings' last broadcast on Action News at 11 or am I the only news nerd?

This is my first full week of work in three weeks. I hope it's merciful to me.










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