Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"Days Gone By" and "Happy New Years"

From my friends at Wikipedia:
“Auld Lang Syne" is a Scottish poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song (Roud # 6294). It is well-known in many English-speaking countries, and it is often sung to celebrate the start of the new year at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day. The song's title may be translated into English literally as "old long since", or more idiomatically, "long, long ago"or "days gone by".

To all my friends and family and anyone else who might be reading “The Sweet Life”, I thank you for hanging out with me these past three months. I look forward to more sharing in 2009. Until then:

Should old acquaintance be forgot,and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old times since?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup! And surely I’ll buy mine! And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes, and picked the daisies fine; But we’ve wandered many a weary foot, since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream, from morning sun till dine; But seas between us broad have roaredsince auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend! And give us a hand o’ thine! And we’ll take a right good-will draught, for auld lang syne.


Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

2008 Lists - Part II

On this, the day after Christmas, I want to now, take a moment to celebrate the good things that happened in 2008. On Tuesday we covered the year’s “eye-rollers”. Today, let’s review some of the “Sweet Spots” from 2008. Again, I also invite you to contribute your own comments below. I am certain I have missed some good ones…..but these are my favorites:

  1. A toast! Red wine is good for you!

  2. Shiba Inu Puppy Cam – in a year of hardship and crisis, leave it to puppies to make us smile! All the cuteness of fuzzy puppies - no housetraining required! I have been watching this website for a couple of months and now the puppies, Autumn, Ayumi, Amaya, Aki, Akoni, and Ando are just about ready to go to their new homes! Tooooo cute!

  3. Heartwarming story of “Annie” the Golden Retriever in Minnesota

  4. Great news for frugal fashionistas: Michelle Obama shops at J Crew!!

  5. Oprah decides to “be healthy”amen! Maybe this will take some pressure off the rest of American women. Happiness and health is not necessarily tied to a certain body size or shape!

  6. Saturday Night Live’s lighthearted stabs at the 2008 election

  7. Lin Hao, the nine year old “class leader” who saved many of his classmates from the rubble of his fallen school building following the Chinese earthquake. He was honored by the Chinese government with a place of honor next to Yao Ming,a Chinese basektball player, during the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics

  8. Michael Phelps historic Olympic medal wins – notice this is #8??

  9. Heroes in uniform – this includes U.S. Armed Forces, police, firemen and women, doctors, nurses, and even Boy Scouts, especially those who endured the Little Sioux tornado

  10. Singularly the most moving event for me in 2008: Barack Obama Speaks to 80,000 in Chicago's Grant Park on Election Night– Part 1 and Part 2 . I am especially moved at how the crowd silently listens and a nation is inspired.

I hope you enjoyed my lists of "Dips" and "Sweet Spots" for 2008. I hope you all are enjoying a wonderful holiday season! Talk to you on Tuesday!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2008 Lists - Part I

2008 has come and nearly gone. It is that time of year for the media to begin reviewing the year’s highs and lows, bests and worsts, and of course, the big music countdowns. Not to be outdone by the media and in keeping with the “ice cream-y” perspective of my blog, I have decided to compile my own lists: the “Top 10 Dips” list: a list of “eye-rollers” – people and happenings that have just completely frustrated me in 2008, and the “Sweet Spots” list which is my Top 10 list of people and happenings that have made me smile.

I invite you to comment or contribute your own “Dips” and “Sweet Spots” over the next coming days. I would love to hear how my “Dips” compare to your “Dips”! This could be fun…

Keep checking back this week to see if we have any comments and on Friday, tune in for the “Sweet Spots” list!

My “Top 10 Dips” for 2008 are:

  1. The Pregnant Man – do we really care about this? Not me! Our economy is collapsing around us and this is “big” news??

  2. Ellen DeGeneres Shelter Dog story…c’mon, people! Do we really have to waste our time reading about this? Give her a break!

  3. “Joe the Plumber” – ‘nuff said

  4. The stock market – stop the ride…I’m getting queasy!

  5. Salmonella-tainted tomatoes – OMG!! Have you ever tried to order a decent sandwich at Subway without being able to put tomatoes OR spinach on it??? Whew! Glad all that craziness is settled!

  6. The size of my food packaging is getting smaller but the price stays the same – Thank you to Blue Bunny….the ice cream remains at 56 ounces and not going to the 48 ounces like all the other ice creams!!

  7. The financial bail out – OK, I have made some poor financial decisions….can someone bail me out, too??

  8. Overexposure to campaign ads, debates, and political smack-talk

  9. Gas prices – puh-leeeze!

  10. “Caribou Barbie?” (a.k.a. Sarah Palin) – what is that all about??

You are invited to submit a comment and tell us some other Dips who have ruined your day, your week....or your wole year! C'mon...let's vent 'em out...then on Friday, we'll finish on high note with our "Sweet Spots"!

Friday, December 19, 2008

All I Want For Christmas...

To quote one of my favorite Christmas movies, “A Christmas Story”, it is that time of year when I begin to anticipate Christmas – “Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas, upon which the entire kid year revolved.”

As a kid, the countdown to Christmas began the day the tree came down. Many of my memories of Christmas involve the family traditions we kept year after year. One of those traditions is so odd that I cannot believe it stood the test of time: each year, when the artificial Christmas tree box was drug up from the basement, we all signed the box. It is so fascinating to see the progression of my and my siblings’ handwriting from year to year. There were even years, to my recollection, that I wrote things like, “I love Scott” – a boyfriend of mine in my late teens. I understand that my sister still keeps this tradition by signing the box when my parents set up their tree – even though none of us still live at home anymore.

I also remember the “Ralph Parker” method of campaigning for Christmas presents was protocol for each of us kids. One year, I might have been 13 or 14 years old, I was set on getting a pair of brown leather boots – you know, the kind that Blaire wore on “The Facts Of Life”? I was relentless. The very last present I opened (Mom always dictated the order in which we could open presents, usually a graduated process from boring and predictable to most desirable – i.e.: underwear was first) was a large box containing my gorgeous boots. I think I wore them until the soles became too thin.

Christmas morning was always eagerly anticipated by myself and my brother and sister. So much so, that my parents, after years of early morning frustration, finally placed a “baby gate” at the end of the hallway which separated our bedrooms from the living room. We were not allowed to cross the gate barrier until the living room clock chimed 6 a.m. This was a very strict policy in our home…and I recall a few Christmas mornings where my brother and I sat at the gate for a half an hour waiting for that clock to chime.

I also remember our annual church Sunday School Christmas program – a big deal for me, spending Christmas Eve at the Fergusons, singing “Silent Night” at the conclusion of the 10:30 Christmas Eve service while they rang the church bell, and always getting a new pair of pajamas. This was what made Christmas so magical for me as a kid.

As an adult, I am now part of the Christmas planning process. The season brings with it the stress of planning a holiday that meets or exceeds the expectations of family and friends while maintaining a festive and calm exterior as we maneuver our way through it without forgetting anyone or any activity. Balance schedules. Balance checkbooks. Balance sanity.

But, every year, it has become very important to me that I incorporate a few holiday traditions of my own so that my kids can grow up remembering some magic of their own. Each Christmas Eve is spent at one of the earlier church services, followed by a hearty dinner at the local Chinese food restaurant, playing a “Rob Your Neighbor” game with my family, and orange rolls on Christmas morning.

But there are two traditions I give myself. I always try to give myself a few moments of peace on Christmas Eve. When everything is done and the kids are asleep, no matter how late, I always like to sit in a quiet place, listen to some Christmas music and reflect on all the joys I have been blessed with during the past year. It is Christmas in stillness. It is probably the only moment when I can clearly experience the magic – as an adult – of the holiday. Myself. My faith. The peace.

And new pajamas.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Santa Claus Is My Grandfather!"

Art by Anne Marit Bergstrom, Dakota Drawings

Peanut, my 9 year old, believes in Santa Claus. And why wouldn’t he? His Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather, William John “Jock” Ferguson, was rumored to have deposited candy in the shoes left out by children in his neighborhood of Dumfries, Scotland, on Saint Nicholas’ Day.

His son, John Ferguson, was born on Christmas Day in 1838, and has a very interesting story.

At the age of 14, John embarked on a journey to America with his father, “Jock”, his mother and sister, both named Elizabeth. Sadly, Jock did not ever see American shores. He died during the journey, was sewn up into a gunny sack and was given a proper sea burial.

John, the same age as my oldest son, Bud, then took on the overwhelming responsibility of taking care of his mother (who was expecting another baby) and his sister. They landed in New Orleans and took a steamer to St. Louis. John found work on a Mississippi River steamer as a deck hand. At the outbreak of the Civil War, John served as a night watchman on the steamer, New Falls City, which operated between St. Louis and New Orleans. From there, he went to live in his grandfather’s home in south central Missouri.

John enlisted in the Missouri Militia in 1862 and served with them until he volunteered for the army. He joined the 3rd Missouri Cavalry at Rolla, Missouri, and was honorably discharged in 1865.

Following the war, John served as justice of the peace in a town in south central Missouri. He retired in 1938, just shy of his 100th birthday. “Squire” John, as he was affectionately known in his hometown, served as state commander of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR).

John Ferguson died January, 1940, at the age of 101.

It is very interesting to know that “Squire” John was small in stature and had a long, flowing beard, and twinkling blue eyes that complemented his happy smile. He was known to have a very generous heart – just like his father, the man who delivered candy to children in his native Scotland home.

Perhaps Peanut’s interpretation of his Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather being Santa Claus isn’t too far off. His son carried on in his tradition. Now, whenever Peanut is asked if he believes in Santa Claus, he responds enthusiastically, “Yes, I do! He was my Grandfather!”

I am thrilled to know that Santa Claus will live forever as long as Peanut continues to tell this story.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Enjoy the Ice Cream While It Is On Your Plate!

I read this really great quote the other day that someone in my office uses as part of his signature on all of his emails and it totally hit me in the head with the intensity of one of those ice cream headaches…..only less painful.

I am, as I am sure most of my readers are, a bit of a worrier. What if I buy the blue sweater and decide that nothing goes with it? What if I can’t afford groceries at the end of this month? What if I lose my job next year? What if….what if??.....what if???

There are days where it consumes me. But this quote really seemed to put a new perspective on, not only my love of ice cream but, my love of life.

This quote:

“My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy the ice cream while it’s on your plate.” -Thornton Wilder

…is so great on so many levels. Here is my interpretation. The obvious message Mr. Wilder, (American writer and playwright, best known for the Pulitzer Prize awarded play OUR TOWN (1938)) is telling us is that we need not worry about why things happen to you in life and when they are going to happen to you but, rather, enjoy the present. Live in the moment and enjoy it. Forget the things that are beyond your control.

Here is something else to consider that I will bet Mr. Wilder did not. The flavor of ice cream is at its fullest when the temperature of the ice cream is 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It is neither too hot, nor too cold for the product, but it has tempered, like a good wine that has been allowed to “open up” in order for you to experience the fullest aromas and flavors of every ingredient in its recipe.

So enjoy what you have. It will always be a balance of good and bad. Life is sometimes served cooler than the optimal level of enjoyment, sometimes hotter. But life is best enjoyed when it is tempered so that you can get the fullest taste of all the tastes it has to offer. Flavors and textures, chunky or smooth, sweet or salty. No matter how it tastes, enjoy it. While it is on you plate.

What better reason than to scoop yourself a bowl of the sweet stuff of life – and the bigger the serving…the better!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How Martha Stewart Taught Me A Lesson

I am writing this blog for a couple of reasons: one, to reinforce to my loved ones that I DO cook but prefer not to and, two, to remind myself to recognize my strengths and weaknesses and to remember my limitations this holiday.

I have been known to succumb to the hypnotic presentations of the happy home-maker and reformed tax evader, Martha Stewart. She may have fallen for some bad advice from her accountant but that woman makes holiday preparation look like mere child’s play.

A few years back, I had called in sick to work. In my weakened state, I lay on the couch, surrounded by half-drank mugs of tea, dry toast and Kleenex boxes but managed to find the strength to channel-surf my way to an Oprah episode. Martha Stewart, her guest, was preparing to make “home-made white hot chocolate and marshmallows”. Now….to me, “home-made” hot chocolate comes from an envelope pouch and why-on-Earth-anyone would-want-to-make-marshmallows-instead-of-picking-up-the-99-cents-per-bag-kind is completely beyond me.

“You actually make marshmallows?” asked Oprah. “Don’t they just grow in the wild or something?”

But it was Martha Stewart…and I have been known to be a bit of an over-achiever.

The beautifully hand-made white hot chocolate (white, as in the kind of chocolate, not the temperature at which it is served) was garnished with a beautiful hand cut marshmallow in the shape of a star. The presentation was lovely. This became my new holiday mission: to prepare the best-ever hot chocolate and home-made marshmallows and serve it to my amazed family at the big Christmas dinner and serve it up like Martha Stewart would….like it was no effort at all. They would gasp and leap out of their chairs to pat me on the back and laud my culinary masterpiece.

A few days later, I obtained the recipe from Oprah’s website and planned my grocery store excursion. My odd assortment of ingredients that I purchased must have cost me somewhere in the area of $10 - $12, only slightly more than what I would have paid for a 10.5 oz. bag of “Campfire®” Marshmallows. But the impression these delights would make would be worth the effort!

December 23…two days before the big Christmas “festivus” and I set to work on making the marshmallows. Did you know that when you make candy and boil it, you must use a candy thermometer (another item I needed to purchase for this recipe) and you have to be VERY careful at what temperature your concoction reaches? This recipe called for 244 - 248 degrees. Not 243 degrees…not 249 degrees. Do you know what that is called? The “firm ball” stage. There is also a “hard ball stage” and a “hard crack” stage. Okay, that makes me laugh a little.

Anyway…the procedure was quite complicated but in the end, the mixture slightly resembled the appearance of actual marshmallows….but a little more grey (that should have been my first sign!). I poured the mix into the pan and dusted it with powdered sugar and waited for it to set overnight.

The next day, Christmas Eve, I took my new star-shaped cookie cutters (also newly purchased, along with the candy thermometer, now bringing my marshmallow escapade to somewhere close to $15-$20) and pressed it into the, now hardened, marshmallow mixture. And by hardened…I mean one rock-solid mass of marshmallow-resembling putty. It was as if Martha Stewart was mocking me. She was laughing and pointing from the bottom of the pan, crying out to me: “What EVER made you think you could match my skills in the kitchen! You fool! You FOOL!!!!” (cue the Martha Stewart evil laugh).

No matter how hard I pressed that cookie cutter into the pan of marshmallows…or, rather…tile grout….it wouldn’t budge. It would not cut the mixture. Not to be outsmarted by marshmallows, I unleashed the steak knives on ‘em.

Christmas Day arrived and the family was gathered around my table. After finishing the perfectly prepared holiday meal, I presented the family with mugs of the Hot White Chocolate (this recipe was much easier to execute and reached a higher level of success). On a separate platter, as a condiment to the hot chocolate, were grey pieces of “art” more closely resembling white landscaping rock than star-shaped marshmallows.

The family was stunned. They were all silent for a moment before they burst into laughter. Confused as to what to do with the landscaping rock, I performed a visual demonstration: “First,” I said, “You take the mug of White Hot Chocolate – a recipe I got from Oprah and Martha Stewart – and then you top it with a couple of my HOME MADE MARSHMALLOWS!” I dropped them into the mug and stirred it around. I drank it and made an “Mmmmmm!” sound just to reinforce to them that it was safe to consume.

“You make marshmallows??” someone asked. “Don’t they just grow in the wild or something?” Hmmm….seems I have heard this line before…..

They looked awful….but they tasted like marshmallows, just extra firm. An expensive and time consuming lesson to learn from my buddy, Martha. Next time I want marshmallows in my hot chocolate, I will buy a bag of ‘em from the neighborhood grocery.

So the moral of the story?

Know your limitations. If you can cook…cook. If you can’t…cook with cash. And if you try and fail, laugh at yourself and drink hot chocolate anyway.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Blue Bunny Perfectly Peppermint Ice Cream Sundae Makes Everything All Better!

I am sitting here in front of my computer, composing my blog, and suddenly it hits me. Gripped in fear, I stare at the calendar and realize that I have three weeks to complete my holiday activities.

It always amazes me that in my family’s attempt to simplify the hustle and bustle, it always seems that we end up making it slightly more complicated. We end up drawing names, patronizing the local Chinese food restaurant following 4 p.m. Christmas Eve service (a tradition that I established several years ago in tribute to my favorite holiday movie: “A Christmas Story”), and reducing the Christmas Day gathering to finger foods. My OWN contributions to simplification are that I have removed the dreaded “Christmas Letter” from my holiday cards (even though I “hear about it” from family members who inform me that this is the only way they know what the boys and I are up to year after year), and simplified my in-home holiday décor to a decorated tree, a singular strand of “fat” bulbs along the roofline of my home, and evergreen-scented candles scattered around my living room and kitchen areas. Less is more. Right?

So then why do I still feel like the next 21 days will be lived in a scurry of frenzy-fied shopping, card-signing and envelope addressing, adopt-a-family coordination, Sunday School Christmas program planning and band/choir holiday program monitoring. Throw in piano-practicing-getting-ready-for-the-Christmas-recital, work holiday party and food-bringing preparation, cookie-baking, and meal planning and you have a recipe for "The Holiday Crazies".

I always remain hopeful that I might find a moment or two to myself. Wishful thinking.

But, I did read on the website, icecream.net (of which, your's truly's blog is featured!), some fun facts about candy canes that – despite my terror as to how I will navigate these next few weeks – really kind of got me in the mood for the holidays AND reminded me of a really yummy ice cream sundae that I only make this time of year. If you want to read the Candy Cane Fun Facts, visit the site….if you want to read about how to make the most yummy holiday sundae ever….read on. It is so easy and is really festive if you place it in red or green plastic cups. All I do is take a couple of scoops of Blue Bunny Perfectly Peppermint ice cream (this is a seasonal flavor and supplies are limited in stores so you will want to get three or four cartons of it – trust me!!) then drizzle some chocolate sauce or hot fudge topping and marshmallow crème topping over the scoops. Top with whipped cream and garnish with a candy cane. I am telling you that this is the sweetest and easiest ice cream dish…perfect for little holiday get-togethers or when (and if!!) you find that singular moment to yourself.

Let’s all pledge to each other that we will take a moment to sit calmly and listen to the holiday music on the radio and enjoy a little Blue Bunny Perfectly Peppermint ice cream sundae. It is the sweetest anecdote to the Holiday Crazies. Good luck…..

Stay tuned….Next Tuesday's blog will be about how Martha Stewart taught me a valuable lesson one holiday.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holy Cow! My Planets Are Aligned!

At the risk of sounding a little melodramatic, I have to tell you that I feel like something great is about to happen! For most of my close friends and family, they will tell you that one of my top favorite reasons to watch TV (and, believe me…there aren’t many of ‘em!) is the show, “Deal or No Deal”. It usually airs on Monday nights (and has been peppering NBC primetime a few extra nights during the week) and I gather the boys around the ol’ tube and we watch people jumping up and down, screaming like goofballs…all in an attempt to win one (or on some occasions) multiple millions of dollars.

A confession: I actually sent in an audition tape this summer featuring my boys, Max The Wonderdog, and myself in an attempt to be considered as one of those maniacal contestants. Sigh! No invitations from that good lookin’ bald guy or his miserly banker.

Yet, I wait.

However….I happened to be scrolling through the website for NBC to find out what the holiday programming would be this week (OK – so I am a sucker for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Peanuts Christmas Special) and I noticed that “Deal or No Deal” is not airing tonight. WHAT’S THE ‘DEAL’?? or…more appropriately….WHERE’S THE ‘DEAL’??? Hey, Howie….how can I get through my Monday without arm-chair quarterbacking your screaming constant??

To make matters worse – and to confirm my conspiracy theory that Howie and The Banker are in cahoots to keep me from consulting with the contestants telepathically from my living room - I found out that the show is airing in other markets (for my family and friends who watch this show in OTHER markets – check your local programming…it airs this week, just not in my area….I am sure YOU will find it in your area). Anyway…..I digress.

But, wait…what’s this?? An ad for my favorite ice cream on the planet?? A Blue Bunny ad that, when you click on it, takes you to the Blue Bunny webpage which features a holiday message and FREE song download for one of my favorite a cappella singing groups, Tonic Sol-fa??? Do my eyes deceive me or is Howie trying to make up for the fact that his show will NOT air this week on NBC in Sioux City, Iowa? I nearly gasped when I realized that my worlds have collided and so many things I adore (Deal or No Deal, Blue Bunny ice cream, and Tonic Sol-fa) are all connected in one cyber-riffic circle of relevance!!

My planets are aligned! Something good is going to happen…I can just feel it. Maybe Howie will call me with that personal invitation to appear on his show and be the first contestant to win a record-breaking, bank-busting amount of cash! Or maybe I will simply be able to download a fab Christmas song for…..uh-huh! Oh-yeah!!...FREE…..AND see Blue Bunny’s name splashed all over a popular reality TV show website!

How sweet is that??

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"The Conclusion!" - The Bahamas Experience, Part VII

Saturday morning presented itself as a calmer and sunnier version of Friday. Following breakfast, P.O.D., fully suffering from the effects of his head cold, and I packed our beach gear – sunscreen, books, sunglasses – the usual accoutrement - and headed to breakfast and then to our “secret spot” at the Sheraton pool. It was wonderful. Warm sun and not as much wind. We read and sunned ourselves until lunchtime.

After lunch we had plotted our course to the Queen’s Staircase (we were told a “must see” for anyone staying in Nassau) and Fort Charlotte. Dinner was to be at Café Matisse, a very well-to-do restaurant. P.O.D. has an obsession with gnocchi and we were informed that the best gnocchi this side of Italy could be found here. Tonight was to be our final night and we wanted to share a romantic meal and cap this adventure off on a good note.

However, P.O.D. was miserable. He was wiped out from his virus and really just wanted to nap. I was restless and really just wanted to get out of the hotel. So, a mutual decision was made that he would sleep it off in the hotel room for the afternoon and I would find my own fun.

After tucking him in and heading downstairs. With $40 in my pocket, I headed to the two straw markets across the street and picked up a few locally handcrafted items and took a leisurely stroll through the area just across the road from our hotel. Glancing at my watch, I realized that I still had about 2 hours before I would return to the room. I was cautious about getting too far away from the safety of our hotel’s neighborhood, so I decided to head back to the hotel and try my luck with the “one-arm bandits”. Not one to gamble too much (I figured I had already done enough gambling on this trip, already)…I took and additional $40 out of my checking account via an ATM and determined that when it was gone….it was gone.

Now, you have to understand how I am about selecting a slot machine on which I play. I stalk the casino floor and wait until I feel a vibe coming from one of them that drags me in. This has only proven successful to me once or twice in my life, but I certainly had the time and I really didn’t want to lose $40 of my hard-earned cash. So I stalked. I had decided that a quarter machine was about as “rich” as I would go because I needed to make my 40 bucks last at least an hour or better. I preyed upon what seemed to be the weakest member of the slot machine pack and planted myself in front of my “victim”, a “Lucky 7’s” machine who “felt” like it was ready to hit.

I fed it a $20 bill. 80 credits and I was ready to begin. I learned some time ago that you always select “MAX BET”, which means you bet 3 quarters, or 75 cents. This way, if you hit a “pay line”, you get three times, or maximum, the payout.

I pushed “MAX BET”. I got a two credit pay out. Again. Another two credit pay out. Over and over, I pressed the “MAX BET” button. Sometimes it would pay a few credits, sometimes not. But I had a good feeling about this machine.

When my credit level was at 60, I hit. 1,000 credits - $250! I had only invested $5. I couldn’t believe it! I sat with a “cat who ate the canary” grin on my face while my credits added up, dinging steadily for the next couple of minutes. I looked around thinking to myself that I couldn’t believe I “hit”. I rarely ever win. And now I was watching my credit total adding up before my eyes.

I pressed “MAX BET” again. A few flirts with pay outs. I was not going to let my total get below 1,000. Then, at 1,020….I hit again. Another 1,000 credits! Then another 100 credits.

My total waxed and waned until I decided that at 2,144 credits (or $536), I was going to call it quits. My machine had given it up for me and I was grateful. I printed out my winnings receipt and took it to the pay out machine (like an ATM but the cash is "free" - what a brilliant idea!), a silly grin spread across my face the whole time. I had to count my cash two or three times so that it felt real. Five one-hundred dollar bills, a twenty, a ten, a five, and a one dollar bill. Take the original $20 investment out of the winnings and I had a total booty of $516 of winnings. My biggest “take” ever.

I took a walk, still dazed and confused but smiling like a complete "goob".

One hour and a half left before I wanted to return to the room. I enjoyed some time at the beach, reflecting on the past few days and years of my life, the sun warming my shoulders. Then I gathered myself up and took a slow, yet celebratory walk back to my hotel room, stopping for an ice cream at the hotel cafeteria. Rum Raisin….and it was so good.

Upon my return to the hotel room, P.O.D. and I celebrated my good fortune – a bit of my own legal piracy in the Bahamas. I handed over the winnings and told him to apply it toward our travel expenses – we had accrued a few more expenses than originally anticipated – and we readied ourselves for what would be a wonderful meal and a wonderful end to our “Bahamas Experience”.

Our trips home proved to be relatively uneventful and we were grateful for an experience which would not only test our mettle as a couple but it taught us that even though things did not go as planned, we were able to improvise and enjoy a few small joys along the way.

There is beauty and wonder in everything that happens to us – both the good and bad. Life doesn’t always go as planned but it is how you deal with the curve balls that prove who you are as a person. And it is often the little things like an unexpected dance, a good bottle of wine, a little windfall, gnocchi, or a dish of Rum Raisin ice cream that lets you know that…well….everything is going to be okay after all.

If you are willing to look long enough, a silver lining to each cloud will always present itself. Or maybe…..no matter how bad it gets…..you can always find a little ice cream.

Friday, November 21, 2008

"Yo-Ho-Ho!" - The Bahamas Experience - Part VI

Friday morning, I awoke at 5 a.m. and could not get back to sleep. But we had left the curtains open so that we could wake up to our ocean view. From where I lay, when I opened my eyes, I was able to, over the course of the next hour, watch the sunrise over the ocean and observe a large cruise ship make its way across the horizon to the port at Nassau. At first, in the purple-y light of dawn, the ship looked like an island with everyone’s lights turned on. Then, I realized that it was moving. I have never seen an actual cruise ship, outside of those commercials where people are climbing rock walls and dancing with the captain.

Another cruise ship (in the daylight), bound for the port of Nassau...

This morning was all about “beach time”. Now, you have already learned that P.O.D. does not care for sunbathing, casinos, and wrist-band-wearing…all of which had found their way into our itinerary.

Sunbathing (for us) is tricky. I, against my skin’s better judgment, am a sun worshipper. He, is a self-described “pasty white guy who prefers shade and a good book” while on the beach.

Since P.O.D. had naughtily removed his wrist band (read about P.O.D.’s distaste for wrist bands in my 11/14/08 blog entry), I had to pick up two towels from the towel cabana, just adjacent to the pool construction zone – if you thought it was loud from 5 stories up…! We negotiated the beach front (preferring the beach atmosphere to that of a pool at the Sheraton) and surveyed the chaise lounge situation. We found a perfect spot: one chaise lounge chair in the sun and one, resting in the shade of a palm-frond-roofed permanent umbrella.

I think a weatherman would describe the beach climate as “Mostly cloudy with moments of sun and a gale-force wind blowing in from the ocean.” He would have been mostly accurate. The term, ‘gale force” is kind. As I lay in my chair, the sun darting in and out, I go from warm to cool, depending upon the relationship of clouds to sun. But, the continual battering of wind – begins to burn the inside of my nose and I can’t hardly stand it.

“Okay,” I announce to P.O.D. “We are going to find a windbreak!” He finally admits that he, too, is cold. We relent and venture over to the Sheraton. I am prepared to drop him like a hot potato if the wrist band police discover that he is sunning himself at the Sheraton pool without his Wyndham jewelry. We find the perfect cove behind a sculpted rock formation next to the pool. It is secluded and we rejoice that no one had the wherewithal to think to look for a spot to sun themselves away from the beach. There is no wind. There is a lounge chair in the sun and one in the shade of the rock. A single palm tree planted atop the rock formation floats above us and it is the only reminder that it is windy “up above”. Now, each time the clouds pass between me and the sun, it is a cool break from its sizzle upon my skin. Ahhhh.

My view from the chaise lounge in our "new" spot from The Sheraton Pool:

We decide that we will come back here tomorrow.

When the blue skies submit to more and more clouds, we head to the Sheraton, this time, for lunch. While we dine, a dense rainstorm quickly passes through, revealing blue skies behind. For the first time, we feel like we have a handle on this Bahamas thing.

We venture to downtown Nassau and tour through the Pirate Museum where we were greeted by a jolly, yet characteristically nasty pirate – no Johnny Depp, I assure you but he was darling - can pirates be darling?? We walked a few miles to a “locals” recommended restaurant called The Fish Fry where we ate fried conch fritters and I finally got a rum drink. While the atmosphere of the restaurant was flimsy, at best (P.O.D. noted that he could see daylight through the cracks in the ceiling – I wish he would stop studying the architecture!) the food was very good and we felt like we were getting a real taste of the local culture.

We catch a cab home and spend the rest of our Halloween in bed in our jammies by 8 p.m. watching, ironically, “Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest”. P.O.D. and are I are asleep by 10 p.m. P.O.D. is feeling the effects of his cold and I am feeling the effect of conch fritters and rum.

Saturday is another day….we are making plans to visit the Queen Staircase and a military fort – both of which have been recommended as “must sees” while in Nassau. We are also making plans to dine at Café Matisse, one of the top rated restaurants on the island. Saturday should be a fun day….or will it….?

Find out in the final installment of “The Bahamas Experience” on Tuesday!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"What A Wonderful World" - The Bahamas Experience - Part V

Digga-digga-digga-digga-digga-digga, pound-pound-pound! Digga-digga-digga-digga-digga-pound-pound-pound! The melodious harmony of jack hammers and nail guns fill our hotel room and, despite the fact that we have our sliding glass door to the ocean shut (it is the windy season in the Bahamas, of course!!), it permeates our room with a continual reminder that we cannot use our hotel pool facilities.

We dump our luggage and head to lunch, then for a brisk walk. I use the word, “brisk” because the temperature in the shade, coupled with a constant 30 mile-an-hour wind gust blowing in from the ocean, feels like 65 degrees. We discover that the Sheraton pool is really not that far away and we also learn that, if we were ever to do this again (as if!), we will stay there, rather than at the Wyndham.

We return to the room. Exhausted, we nap until dinnertime. I awake to more tears, sorry that we have not only missed an important event of two important friends of ours, but sorry that I lugged two rolls of toilet paper (as instructed by Carol – “Don’t ask, just bring it!” was the description) and 20 pounds and half-a-suitcase-full of our fantastic Halloween costumes that we were going to wear to the Halloween party on Friday night with Carol and The Cap’n (we were going as dueling “Gorton’s Fishermen” – we had the best costumes, right down to the yellow protective gear and grey beards!).

Since we decided that we were going to stay on property (heck, we already had the wristbands!!), we opted for a restaurant called “The Black Angus”. Big juicy steaks and good wine could be the only thing that could console our sorrows at this point. We dress in our what-was-to-have-been our wedding finery and make our way to the second floor, where Jerry, the charming Bahaman waiter, informs us that, yes, indeed, the Black Angus does serve Maker’s Mark bourbon. “Well, Jerry,” exclaims P.O.D. with a smile. ‘You may have just made our trip!”

A couple of cocktails, a wonderful meal, including a great bottle of wine leads to P.O.D. taking me onto the dance floor of the little bar outside of the restaurant where we dance to two songs, one of which was a rendition of “What A Wonderful World”, which is one of my all-time favorite songs.

It occurs to me, while we are dancing, that P.O.D. and I have dated for right around 2 years and we have never danced a single dance together.

While there was no beach in sight and I never drank a single Rum Runner, I felt, for the first time, like I was in Paradise.

More “The Bahamas Experience” to come. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mathematically Eliminated - The Bahamas Experience, Part IV

(First, I want to take one minute to thank everyone for laughing along with me as I tell the story of this really unbelievable experience. Thanks for humoring me as I work through all of this. Writing about the trip has been theraputic and it has allowed me to put this all in perspective and laugh about it. We will get back to ice cream and optimism after my final blog entry on the Bahamas Experience - a few more posts yet! .....Thanks!)

Fortunately, my crying jag only lasted about 50 minutes, as the flight from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Nassau, Bahamas, is mercilessly short.

Our trip through the immigration checkpoint is quick and festive thanks to the “Lou Ralls-esque” lounge singer and his three piece backup band who serenades us through the process with the smooth tones of Harry Belafonte’s “All Day, All Night, Mary Ann”. Were I not an emotional basket case, this would be charming. But, because I am a basket case, it annoys me to no end. I shift my weight from foot to foot, glancing at my watch every two or three minutes: 12:50, 12:52, 12:55…. “What is taking so long???”

The wedding is in 2 hours. I finally have made some peace with the fact that we will never make it to the event. But maybe we can make it in time for the reception. More tears. I can’t even look at P.O.D.

“All day, all night, Mary Ann! Down by the seaside sifting sand,” croons the singer. I am in travel h-e-double hockey-sticks. Finally, we pass the checkpoint and we race to the BahamasAir counter to see when the flight to Treasure Cay leaves. 4 p.m. Cost: $300 each. There are still seats available. P.O.D. and I exchange looks.

But it is not that simple. Through further investigation of the flight itinerary, it is discovered that the 4 p.m. flight will not land until 5:30 p.m. Once we get our luggage and hail a cab to the ferry dock, we will have missed the final ferry out to Green Turtle Cay. Additionally, in order to catch the 8 a.m. flight from Treasure Cay back to Nassau in time to catch our 10 a.m. flight from Nassau to Ft. Lauderdale in order to catch our 1:50 p.m. flight to Atlanta in order to catch our respective flights back to our respective homes, we will have to leave Treasure Cay before the last ferry leaves Green Turtle Cay on Saturday afternoon and stay in a hotel on Treasure Cay on Saturday night. (Feel free to re-read that last sentence about seven times…..you will eventually be able to do the math.) This will give us ONE night on Green Turtle Cay…and present more logistical decisions yet to be made. We are exhausted.

Time to regroup. We huddle in the terminal for a few minutes to discuss our options. P.O.D. makes the rounds to confirm that, indeed, only one airline flies to Treasure Cay and only one flight option is available to us. I continue to cry – this time because I know that this trip that we have been looking forward to for months has come to a premature and frustrating end. I am convinced that if I do not stop crying soon, that the Bahaman immigration officers will kick me out of the country because I am pretty sure that there is no crying allowed in paradise.

P.O.D. finally deduces that we are “mathematically eliminated” from making our final destination. As he so eloquently put it, “We were screwed yesterday morning – we just didn’t know it.” But here we were in Nassau, with nowhere to go until Sunday morning. We decide that it is time to “make lemonade”.

We make our way out to the terminal lobby, where high-end, all-inclusive hotel resorts are peddling their accommodations to arriving travelers who have made previous arrangements with them or, like us, have been “mathematically eliminated” from their final destinations, as well.

After determining that we need to get out of this with the highest level of comfort at the least amount of expense, I am able to negotiate with the handsome young man at the Wyndham Casino resort kiosk to give me the “rate you would give your sister”. He gives me an ocean-view room for a fraction of the ocean-view room cost. We are thrilled.

One short cab ride later, we arrive at a pleasant, but weary-looking casino hotel (there are only a handful of things that P.O.D. does not enjoy and gambling is one of them). At check-in, P.O.D. glances at the ceiling, “Is that mold?” I try not to look.

The check-in clerk does a double take on our room rate, which makes me smile at the young man who really must have come through on that “sister rate” on our hotel room. Then she asks us to put on resort wrist bands that we have to wear the entire time we are on the property. (Number two on P.O.D.’s list of things he doesn’t enjoy is wearing wrist bands – years in the trade show industry has given him an emotional allergic reaction to wearing anything that identifies him as a “participant” of something).

Turns out, the wrist bands are very important. It seems my “brother” at the casino kiosk back at the airport failed to tell me that the pool was being renovated at the Wyndham and the wristband gave us access to the pool at the Sheraton property, next door.

What we discovered about 10 minutes later was that the pool renovation was occurring 5 floors below our ocean-view balcony. For each day of our stay in paradise, we were serenaded by the sweet sounds of jack hammers and hammering a few hundred feet away. Which makes me wonder: did the woman at the check-in desk give a double take on the room rate or on the fact that any idiot would allow themselves to be booked in a hotel room overlooking a major renovation project during a hotel “off season”.

We will never know.

More to come in Tuesday’s blog…and be patient…..the ice cream and ‘eternal optimist” attitude will return once this all gets vented. I am feeling a little better already….

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Bahamas Geographical Lesson - The Bahamas Experience, Part III

The day is Thursday. Today is the day of Carol and The Cap’n’s wedding! P.O.D. and I wake up, thaw out (refer to the broken thermostat reference in my last blog entry), grab a good breakfast, and head to the airport. Our flight to the Bahamas is at 11:40 a.m.

So far, everything has run smoothly with the exception that our calls to the hotel where we have booked lodging on Green Turtle Cay have yet to be returned. Apparently the phone service to the hotel is unreliable. When it was possible for him to do so, P.O.D. has left two messages at the hotel, but no one has returned our phone call. Apparently, if you run a hotel in Green Turtle Cay, customer relations is not a requirement. We have already missed one night in our hotel and we want to make sure we are not charged for it.

Our main goal for today is to be able to manage an on-time flight departure, get to the ferry and get to the island. If all goes well, we should have one hour before our arrival time at Green Turtle Cay and the ceremony. We have checked our luggage (again!), maneuvered through security (again!), and wait at the gate (uh…you know the adverb!). Despite P.O.D.’s nagging head cold, we are in good spirits.

At 11:50 p.m. (see my previous comment regarding airline departure times and how they are interpreted by BahamasAir in last Friday’s blog), we board our much bigger and much more safe-looking airplane and, once again, begin to fill out our necessary immigration forms. We settle into our seats on our flight bound for Nassau on BahamasAir. I pick up the promotional Bahamas in-flight magazine and it hits me:

In order to get to Green Turtle Cay, Abacos, Bahamas, we need to take ONE MORE flight from Nassau to Treasure Cay island, where, we have, yet, to take the ferry that will take us to Green Turtle Cay.

I am sick. P.O.D. has begun to calmly read his book, unaware of the fact that I am about to lose my (until this moment) even-temperedness. I study the map closer. It all begins to make sense, now.

In my geographical naïveté, I realize that the Bahamas is not just one small set of islands, but a rather large and complicated system of island chains. Carol and The Cap’n were very clear in their initial booking instructions, but all of this material that they had sent to me in May had been filed away at my home, a thousand miles from where this airplane – bound for NASSAU! – is sitting. Once our flight from Fort Lauderdale to Treasure Cay on Vintage Props and Jets, Inc., had been cancelled, we just didn’t realize that we needed to book a flight to Nassau…THEN to Treasure Cay. I sit and stare at the map. I feel like a prize-fighter that has just been dealt the K.O. punch.

Here is a map, similar to the one I saw in the in-flight magazine....I have marked our route from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, to Nassau and the route we have YET to take to get to Green Turtle Cay (circled) off the coast of the th Abaco island chain....

I turn to P.O.D. I begin to cry. I am certain the Bahaman woman, a kindly-looking grandmother wearing two baseball caps stacked one on top of the other (what is that all about??) and a beautiful dolphin ring (she boarded the plane with a gi-normous bag of electronics that she purchased at Target) must have thought I was completely nuts. In fact, looking back at the situation on the plane, she never made eye contact with me once. She huddled up next to the window, hugging herself….maybe she was worried that her seatmate was crazy. I assure you, she was.

I croak out to P.O.D. that we still have another flight that we need to take. He, of course, cannot hear me as the engines are firing up and my speech, through tears, is largely incoherent. He places his book in his lap. “What are you saying?”

I dramatically point to the map on the in-flight magazine. “WE STILL HAVE TO TAKE ANOTHER FLIGHT!!! WE ARE NEVER GOING TO MAKE IT TO THE WEDDING!” More tears.

“No,” reassures P.O.D. “We are going to Nassau. We will just catch the ferry over to Green Turtle Cay.”

“Uh, no,” I say ‘with a tone in my voice’. Again, over-dramatic pointing to the map. “We land here,” I say, now speaking to P.O.D. like Barney the Dinosaur would explain to little Suzy in the “Barney Travels To The Bahamas” episode (there really is no episode of Barney explaining the geography of the Bahamas island chain….but if there was, I seriously wish I would have watched it!). “We still have to get to here (I say, in a patronizing tone, whilst pointing to the island of Treasure Cay), then we have to catch a cab to HERE (now, big pokes of the map with my finger, stabbing the place on the map where the ferry dock sits), THEN catch the FERRY TO GREEN TURTLE CAY (I shake the map in front of his face – “And the award for frantic, frustrated, and immature traveler, goes to……1SweetMama!”)!!! AND WE ONLY HAVE TWO HOURS TO DO THAT!!!!”

P.O.D. just stares at me. He is a very seasoned world traveler. A million-miler. A Crown Room regular. How something like this could have gone so completely wrong is baffling to him.

We want to blame each other but neither one of us do. We know better. This trip has been a string of small “clusters” from the moment we awoke 24 hours ago until this very painful moment. P.O.D. tells me not to panic. We will find out what we can do when we get to the airport. He smiles at me, even though I know that deep down, he must want to strangle me for dragging him all across the globe without a real clue as to how to get to our final destination. He is a good man.

I stare at the map for the duration of the flight. And cry.

Friday, November 7, 2008

"Airplanes and Aggravations: The Bahamas Experience - Part II

So, here we are, three and a half hours before we were to settle into our seats on Vintage Props and Jets, Inc. on a flight to Treasure Cay in Abacos, Bahamas, and we find out....we have no flight.

By this time, it is almost 10 a.m. and we haven't had breakfast yet. We arm ourselves with the necessary paperwork, phones, and credit cards and head downstairs to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. P.O.D. decides it is necessary for us to chat with The Cap'n (refer to Tuesday’s blog entry when The Cap’n and Carol are introduced) to get an airline recommendation: BahamasAir. A couple of phone calls are made and it is determined that we have booked passage to the Bahamas, leaving at 5:30 p.m. Because they are purchased “last-minute”, we pay a premium. No matter – we have overcome this obstacle and will only lose a few hours in Green Turtle Cay.

It is now about 10:30 and we are informed that the buffet at the restaurant is now closed. Reluctantly, the wait staff offers us menus, from which they will cook us some breakfast. P.O.D. orders green tea. After some searching and some time, the wait staff announces that they have no green tea - in fact....there seems to be no tea bags on the premises. Slightly irritated, P.O.D. simply orders hot water.

Now, note that due to the state of affairs at this time, the fact that there is no tea, P.O.D. is not feeling well, and I am emotional over all of it, breakfast is very quiet. Aside from my frantic phone calls to my credit card company, who cannot find a purchase to Vintage Props and Jets (when I know I paid for them on my card!), P.O.D. and I are not in the mood for chatting.

After a mediocre breakfast, it is decided that P.O.D. will go back to bed while I venture out to find some good cold medicine. I head downstairs, pay for three extra hours on our room for a late check out, hail a cab ("Robert" from Yugoslavia, now a U.S. citizen and a Democrat who thinks America is no longer the favored nation - it is China. He has voted already. He tells me his views on global politics as he tears out the puzzle page from the Miami Herald, folds it up, and places it in his car visor for safekeeping).

I negotiate a shrewd deal to have Robert provide me with round trip transportation to and from the local drugstore and wait for me for ONLY 2 minutes while I run in to purchase cough drops and cold medicine. We settle on $23 for the ride and the tip.....and the political advice.

Back at the hotel, I am able to medicate my groggy paramour, finally locate and settle my charge dispute to the failed airline and even "Google" the Press Release (in case I need the evidence) which details the company's closing and the fact that they laid off 40 employees (this was included in Tuesday's blog entry for your reading enjoyment).

A few hours later, P.O.D. and I head off to the airport and await our 5:30 p.m. flight. Everything is running fairly smoothly and our spirits are lifted. We were able to make arrangements with The Cap'n to have someone meet us at the ferry dock at 6:45 (because the last ferry from Treasure Cay sails at 5:30) to take us over to the island for those Rum Runners at the "Welcome Reception" which begins at 6 p.m. Now, all we have to do is get there.

If it were that simple.

At 6:00 p.m. (because Bahamans, I discovered, observe a posted departure time for an airplane as only a suggestion), we are finally directed to our airplane - a tiny and tired vessel who creates a bit of concern among its passengers as we climb the stairs to board it. We begin filling out the necessary paperwork (immigration papers which ask the specific reason why you are visiting the islands, where you are staying, and when you plan to remove your sorry self from the island) and, just as we are beginning to gain back our confidence that this trip may actually happen, the beautiful Bahaman airline attendant informs the passengers that the airplane is experiencing mechanical issues (really?? how unexpected!) and we will all be deplaned while the problem is being fixed.

P.O.D. and I exchange glances and head back to the terminal. We call the Cap'n and tell him to inform his contact that we will be late and we will call when we know an approximate arrival time. Carol tells us how sorry she is and insists that, if it becomes necessary, to pull the plug on our travels. They will miss us but they certainly understand. We assure her that we are going to be there. Then we wait.

And wait.

7:45 p.m. and we have heard nothing. The plane still sits in its parking place and there seems to be no real activity going on around it. We are told by the gate attendant that, while they apologize for the delay, we will be kept informed and, if necessary, most everyone can be rebooked onto the 8:40 p.m. flight. P.O.D. and I decide that we really don't want to have to cross an ocean from Treasure Cay to Green Turtle Cay at 10 o’clock at night so we opt to have our luggage pulled from the ailing plane and rebook out on the Thursday 11:30 a.m. flight.

Thursday is the day of Carol and The Cap'n's wedding. Timing will be tight but the wedding is at 3 p.m. and, if all goes well (um...like it has been going up to this point?), we should make it to Green Turtle Cay with about an hour to spare. Time for one Rum Runner.

Another night in Ft. Lauderdale. Of course, finding a hotel room proves a bit of a challenge, but we are able to secure a room at the Holiday Inn. By this time, we are frazzled and just want to relax with a good dinner at the hotel restaurant, a cocktail, and a good night’s sleep.

The hotel room is dingy, the thermostat is broken and the room temperature holds at a frigid 65 degrees, warming occasionally to a balmy 66 degrees. The hotel restaurant is out of our first menu choices and the bar just ran out of Maker’s Mark bourbon (see Tuesday’s blog entry).

That’s okay. We settle for our second food and beverage choices at the restaurant, pile on an extra blanket in the room and, with the assistance of Nyquil, P.O.D. is able to get a decent night’s sleep.

Do our weary travelers reach their destination in time for the wedding festivities? Will 1SweetMama ever sip a Rum Runner on a Bahaman Beach? Will P.O.D., despite his reassuring 1SweetMama that “Things could be worse,” finally realize that they just might?

Tune in on Tuesday for the next exciting installment of “The Bahamas Experience”!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Trust Your Gut - The Bahamas Experience - Part I

For a long time, I have heard people say, "Trust your gut". As I get older and find this statement to be more and more true, I have finally reached that singular moment in my life where I firmly and unequivocally believe that your gut is, in fact, a fortune teller. Listen to it. Never was there an experience that put this more into perspective than my trip last week to the Bahamas. You will be reading about this incredible experience as I capture every painful detail in a multi-part blog series. I am hoping that the recounting of this trip will be an entertaining and informational account for my readers while also serving as therapy for my soul.

Today is Tuesday and I returned from my trip at 1 a.m. on Monday. This was a trip I have been looking forward to since, roughly, April, when my good friends, Carol and The Cap’n (that is a nickname we gave him because his life, besides Carol, is boats) announced they were getting married and would celebrate their nuptials in Green Turtle Cay, Abacos, Bahamas. This would be my first trip to the Bahamas, as well as the first trip for my friend, Mr. P.O.D. (You know him from previous blogs. If not, please refer to the post from 9/2/08). While POD does not, himself, favor beaches and intense tropical sun, the thought of a romantic getaway with a small group of good friends sounded intriguing.

So the planning begins.

Toward the end of June, we booked passage from our respective homes (I, in Iowa; he, in northern Kentucky), meeting up in Atlanta, where we would catch the Delta flight to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, arriving a little after midnight. We would land at a hotel there and hold up for the night. Sleep in. Get a good brunch and head to our 1 p.m. flight with Vintage Props and Jets, Inc. out of the Ft. Lauderdale airport bound for the island of Treasure Cay in the Bahamas, where we would hop the ferry to Green Turtle Cay and be sipping Rum Runners by 5 p.m., in time for Carol and the Cap’n’s Welcome Reception, which began at 6 p.m.

Easy peezey. Sounds great. But it was my gut, who, weeks before our departure date, began to put the brakes on my enthusiasm for this tropical getaway. I was beginning to have second thoughts about this trip. I was experiencing an inner conflict on celebrating with my great friends in a beautiful and remote island paradise while considering the needs of my travel companion – making certain he would be happy, given his feelings about boats, beaches, sun, and drinking during the daytime. Now, he was coming down with some kind of “bug”….throw in the total cost of this “little” excursion and you have a formula for mixed emotions.

Everything began to crumble on Tuesday night around 9 p.m. while I was giving myself a pedicure, speaking with my friend, Emma, on the phone. My gut was trying to tell me something.

I confessed to Emma that I just did not have a good feeling about this trip and, with each passing day, I had grown more and more anxious. Having just received news that P.O.D. was coming down with a nasty head cold, I was worried that this might dampen our fun. "Well, here is the deal," said Emma, a holistic life coach, artist, and yogis, "It is too late to cancel. It is going to be fun. You just need to relax and let it be." She was so connected with the Universe and her words were encouraging. “Besides,” she said, “you will come back with a great tan!”

She was right. It was silly for me to worry. P.O.D. reassured me that he was thrilled to be with Carol and The Cap’n and he would be able to settle in to a shady spot on the beach with a good book and he was just excited to be a part of the festivities and to be on vacation – with me.

I was able to get out of work cleanly on Tuesday afternoon. Tied up a few loose ends on the cell phone on my way to the airport. Turned up classic rock tunes on my radio and got into vacation mode. I was on my way to the Bahamas, baby!

My travels went smoothly. After landing in Atlanta, I checked in with the kids while I waited for P.O.D.’s plane to land. Once on the ground, he immediately set off to find a parodies shop in the airport for some Kleenex and cold medicine. Thirty minutes later, we clinked our cocktail glasses together at a little airport bar and toasted the beginning of a long-awaited and much anticipated adventure. I should have taken it as a sign that they had no Maker’s Mark bourbon (our favorite) at the bar. There was one bottle but we were told by the bartender that it was “for show” only.

Soon we boarded our plane to Ft. Lauderdale and landed, without a hitch, at the airport where we caught a shuttle to our hotel. While checking in, I mentioned to the desk clerk that we would like to find out at which terminal Vintage Props and Jets, Inc. was located. This way, in the morning, we could easily navigate to our final airline.

Nobody at the front desk could give us any information on the existence of Vintage Props and Jets.


“No problem,” I said to the desk clerk. “I have their phone number and a confirmation number for our flight tomorrow. I will just give them a call in the morning.”

We settled into bed. Awoke around 8 a.m. P.O.D’s cold had blossomed overnight and he was feeling a little rough. We showered and planned to go have breakfast before heading out. Our flight was at 1 p.m. This would still give us time to hit a drugstore to get more intense cold medicine and cough drops. Meanwhile, I called the number for Vintage Props and Jets, Inc. The number was no longer in service.

Even more curious.

After consulting the phone book, information, and calling the number for the airline (that was printed on our e-tickets) fifty times, P.O.D. finally made a call to the Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood Florida Airport. The news was a big ol' blow to my gut, whose angst I had nearly calmed by this time: “That airline is out of business.”

Read the Press Release here.

(To be continued - Come back and visit my blog on Friday, November 7)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Does Jimmy Buffet Eat Blue Bunny Ice Cream?

It pains me to say this but today, my blog comes to you while I am in Green Turtle Cay in Abacos, Bahamas. Please don’t miss me too much while I am gone. But this little “vacay” got me to thinking…..do you suppose Jimmy Buffet eats ice cream?

I would have to think that a man who commits himself to having fun and enjoying life would be first in line at the ice cream counter. In addition, he is also a man who appreciates things that are frozen (i.e.: Margaritas – the man lives in Margaritaville, for goodness sake!!), so I figure that he must have had a little ice cream along the way. Whether its fins to the left or fins to the right, you know he had a couple of scoops of cool and creamy ice cream after he woofed down his cheeseburger! I can’t think of anything more “paradise-like” than that!

If you visit his Margaritaville website, there is an FAQ page that devotes itself to some of the basic platforms of the Parrothead King…..the “perfect” Margarita recipe, who invented the Margarita….and who invented the blender (a really interesting story…go check it out!).

Again…..gets me thinking…..okay, so maybe this self proclaimed “old hippie” might prefer his ice cream blended, as well?? In fact, I would think that Jimmy not only eats ice cream, but I will bet he puts it in a blender, adds a little bananas, coconut, mangos, and peanut butter (c’mon…you gotta have a little protein!!) and makes himself one tasty breakfast smoothie! What the heck – toss in a little rum, too. You’ll be napping in your hammock by noon! Talk about paradise!!

As a celebratory send-off for my little vacation, I tried my new recipe (both with and without rum) and I am here to tell ya….it is “Buffet-acular!” Here is my recipe:

1Sweet Mama’s Guilt-Free Buffet-acular Breakfast/Anytime Smoothie
2 large scoops of Blue Bunny(R) No Sugar Added Reduced Fat Banana Split Ice Cream
½ banana, chopped into pieces
¼ cup mango
½ cup kiwi fruit
3 Tbsp coconut
3 Tbsp orange or grapefruit juice (I even think pomegranate juice would be good!)
2 Tbp peanut butter
1 shot of rum (optional – but it actually tastes better this way!)

In a blender, combine all ingredients. Blend together on medium setting for 10 seconds. It may also work better if you “pulse” the blender.

Enjoy your guilt free – protein packed smoothie! See you stateside next week….until then…..pass that jigger of salt!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Meet Moolinda

Since we are on the subject of my town: Le Mars, Iowa (read my last blog entry), I really cannot overlook one of my other (and less offensive!) favorite attractions in this community. Le Mars, being “The Ice Cream Capital of the World(R)” would, OF COURSE, be the location of a museum and Visitor Center devoted to the history of ice cream and the history of Wells’ Dairy, Inc., who make Blue Bunny(R) ice cream and novelties. You may not know this, but Wells’ Dairy was founded in Le Mars in 1913 by a man named Fred H. Wells, Jr. when he purchased a horse, a wagon, some cans and jars, and a small milk route from a local dairy farmer in the area – all for the grand total sum of $250.

95 years later, Blue Bunny products can be found in all 50 states…which certainly makes it nice when this Ice Cream Princess travels! Today, more ice cream is made here in Le Mars, Iowa, by Wells’ Dairy in one location (Le Mars, Iowa) than any other company does in any other single location on the planet….over 100,000,000 gallons of ice cream each year!

The road a small town dairy travels in order to become one of the largest family-owned dairy processors in the U.S. is dotted with unique milestones, roadblocks, hills, valleys, superhighways and, in one literal case, a memorable billboard that graced a thoroughfare of Le Mars in the 1950’s.

This billboard drew considerable interest from community residents and passers-by as it promoted Wells’ Dairy in a 3-dimensional way. The focus? A larger-than-life fiberglass Jersey cow head promoting the goodness of Wells’ Dairy. The billboard drew even more attention when it fell victim to a college prank…..several students from the town university kidnapped the beloved Jersey cow head and held her captive for several days. She was later release, unharmed. In time, the billboard was removed, never to be seen again.

Until the late Fall of 2004. In an attempt to clean out some of Wells’ Dairy’s old storage buildings, a crew of employees uncovered the old and battered cow head, marred by years of neglect. It was offered to the Ice Cream Capital of the World Visitor Center Museum to display among its collection of Wells’ Dairy memorabilia. The museum enthusiastically accepted and the Jersey cow underwent an “Extreme Moooo-keover”.

Months later, the cow head, restored beyond her original beauty was erected within the halls of the “Ice Cream Capital of the World Visitor Center” Museum and a contest was held in order to find her a suitable name. Thousands of entries from all over the country were considered but the name “Moolinda” was the one chosen from an ice cream fan in Texas.

If you pass anywhere near Le Mars, Iowa, you really must stop in and say hello. You really might find her “udderly” delightful.

By the way...here is a picture of the famous billboard (and Moolinda in her prime!) in its "hey-day" - circa 1960's):

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday Night Lights

Recently, a feature film, followed by an acclaimed TV show, entitled “Friday Night Lights”, has enjoyed a high level of success as it explores the drama and the excitement of a Texas high school and its nationally celebrated football program. In my little family, we celebrate "Tuesday Night Lights"…..not as much drama, not near as much national attention but the all the excitement of 8th grade football.

Bud, my oldest son, plays defensive end on the “B” team. He is not first string but has the heart of the starting quarterback. He loves the game and enjoys the team spirit. He endures practices every night after school and stands patiently on the sidelines as he waits for the coach to give him the nod to go in and play. He is no quitter and for that, I am more proud of him than if he was the starting quarterback on the “A” team.

Last Tuesday night was the final game. Here is a photo to capture the flavor of the game. Note that it was about 45 degrees and drizzling rain. My family and I, bundled up and huddled together, cheered Bud on as his “B” team wrapped up an undefeated season of “Tuesday Night Lights” in The Ice Cream Capital of the World.

Afterwards, I offered up ice cream sundaes for the boys….but they opted for hot chocolate, instead. A sweet end to one sweet season.

Friday, October 17, 2008

On The Street Where I Live

I love life in Le Mars, Iowa. I love its small town attitude and quirkiness and the people who live here. I have learned to perfect the Iowa "farmer's wave," which is, simply, the slight finger-raise off the top of the steering wheel accompanied by a slight tilt of the head meant for oncoming motorists. It always amazes me that, even though I may be driving in some remote location miles away from anyone or anywhere I know, I am still met with a "farmer's wave" from a perfect stranger. That is Iowa and that is why I enjoy living in this state.

A little closer to home is Central Avenue. Central Avenue dissects The Ice Cream Capital of the World, from east to west, right down the middle. Fall is the best time take in the beauty of Central Avenue, with its grand Victorian homes set between oak and maple trees strategically placed a hundred years ago by our city fathers. I would believe that they were thinking of us when they planted those trees. In the summer, the trees provide ample shade for spectators along what is, now, the town's parade route. In the falls, they provide explosions of color - oranges, reds and yellows. On a clear sunny day in the fall, when the leaves are raining down upon the sidewalks of Central Avenue, I find myself celebrating that my boys and I live in such a quaint Midwestern community - a real slice of Americana.

Our downtown is full of sweet little shops – clothing, home décor, a pet shop, shoe stores a couple of banks and miscellaneous offices, and some restaurants. For a town of 9,500 people, our little downtown represents a vibrant and resilient business district. Nowhere else in the world can you get a sense of the economy’s effect on “Wall Street to Main Street” (a term often thrown out by our Presidential candidates) than in a small town shopping district. These persistent shop owners refuse to give in to the economy and find that the only way to compete with the “box stores” is to provide personal customer service. They not only know your name and all of your children’s names when you walk in the door but they also know what the last item was that you bought in their store and whether or not you attended church on Sunday.

Most of these stores have stood the test of time, but there is one little café that started out as “The Pantry Café” sometime in the 40s and the décor has remained virtually the same since then. When I first came to town and worked in one of the banks across the street from The Pantry Café, I would eat there for lunch. They had the best BLT sandwiches. Every time I ate there, I felt like I had stepped back in time about forty years. Over the past 18 years, since I came to town, that little café has changed hands a number of times. It is tough for a Main Street diner to remain competitive with the Subways, McDonalds, and finer dining establishments that line the highway in Le Mars.

The Pantry Café became Wiener’s Café, then La Potranca (a Mexican diner). In between, long vacancies took its toll on this wonderful little establishment. It is beginning to feel a little run down and, while La Potranca serves some amazing authentic chicken quesadillas, my little corner eatery just isn’t the same.

But there remains one piece of this little building that has stood the test of time. The sign attached to the building was altered from the uniquely vintage neon lettering (The Pantry Café) against a turquoise background to an embarrassing refurbishment that has never changed since it once advertised the location of Wiener’s Café. To illustrate the virtuousness of small town America, this sign was purposefully revamped with care by the then-owners of Wiener’s Café. As if the name of the eatery wasn’t funny enough (and in their defense, it was their last name and they did serve GREAT German fare), here is a picture of this curious representation that, in my opinion, defaces the quaintness of our downtown. Few people ever even notice…but the ones that do certainly appreciate its quirkiness. Maybe it is my twisted interpretation of life. Maybe it is my sick sense of humor.

BUT it does capture the innocence of life in a small town. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ahhh.....the Sweet Smell of The Sweet Life!

The human species possesses 5 senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Today I would like to talk with you about the latter sense – the one of ‘smell’.

Now, I live with two boys and smell is something I wish I did not have when it comes to the time of day when they take their shoes off, leaving them scattered around the living room floor. This potpourri of sweaty gym socks and decaying sneakers is not something I most enjoy as a part of my home environment. I am a big fan of candles, Febreeze, and open windows….oh, and showers with soap. However, this smell reminds me that I do run a household of healthy, active boys and this, ultimately, makes me very happy.

I also have a dog, Max. If you follow my blog, you have met him already. He is the most loving and loyal dog a family could ask for…..yet there is an aroma about him that reminds me, daily, that my home is that of a pet owner. In addition (and I will not go into graphic detail), there are a myriad of smells that are emitted from our best friend – depending upon what my boys have fed him within the past 24 hours. But, again, this smell reminds me that our ever-vigilant and loving companion loves and protects my little family and helps me to keep my feet warm at night when he sleeps at the foot of my mattress and this, too, makes me very happy.

Having said all of that, I also must comment on the fact that it is Fall and, with it, brings many wonderful smells…..my Grandma Schaefer’s yummy applesauce, soup and muffins on a cool autumn night, the smell of the fallen leaves , pumpkin pie, and wood fires burning off in the distance.

And, yet, another advantage to living in “The Ice Cream Capital of the World” is that there are other smells that waft through the breezes of our little Iowa town. On a good day, you can smell the vanilla being mixed in to the ice cream as it is being produced at the South Ice Cream Plant. On other good days, you can smell the chocolate wafers being baked at BoDean’s Bakery just down the road (they make many of the cones and wafers you buy at the grocery store, eat in dip shops and find in many Blue Bunny novelties). What joy to walk in to work (our office is on top of a hill and just downwind from both of these manufacturing facilities) and breathe deep, smelling all these wonderful smells. It is much like the smell of mom baking cookies greeting you at the door when you come home from school – only outside. Wow.

Life touches us in many different ways…and sometimes in ways in which we may not even notice. How nice to know that life IS sweet…all you have to do is breathe.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Mayor Of The Ice Cream Capital Of The World

It’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it!! He is ruff and tuff and has a “cowboy-ness” about him that could charm the socks off you and, at the same time, convince you that you would consider yourself lucky just for the privilege of being able to live in a place where life is sweet!

Meet Mayor Dick Kirchoff. He is the Captain of Cold, the Master of Mmmmm, the Sovereign of Scoopdom, the Dictator of Dips. He makes sure that things run smoothly in the town where I live, Le Mars, Iowa, the Ice Cream Capital of the World®.

Mayor Kirchoff is like John Wayne. It would seem that he could simply sit around on his duff and enjoy the accolades that any Mayor of a place where more ice cream is made than anywhere else on the planet should receive. But he doesn’t.

Several weeks ago, my kids met him (coincidentally, at the Iowa state Fair where he was managing the turkey-leg booth – don’t ask – even the mayor of the Ice Cream Capital of the World needs a little protein every now and then). After our visit, my youngest asked, “Is he really the mayor? I can’t believe I am friends with the mayor!!”

A few weeks ago, Mayor Kirchoff and I enjoyed sundaes at the Blue Bunny® Ice Cream Parlor and we chatted about his mayoral experience so far…..

Our nation was recently informed by a certain Alaskan Governor that the mayor of a small town is “sort of like a community organizer except that you have actual responsibilities.”

For Dick, this is true. While one of the highlights of his job is that he can help perpetuate so many community projects, his biggest frustration is government (be it City, County, or State) red-tape. He will be the first to tell you that he is no politician. He is a man who can move mountains but “cannot move a pipewrench from the middle of the road without making forty phone calls and filling out a work order”. Dick refers to this as “The Pipewrench Theory” Dick is a do-business-with-a-handshake kind of leader so I can see why this may be a frustrating process for him.

But in a small town in Northwest Iowa where the sweet smells of vanilla ice cream and chocolate wafers will, occasionally, float on the breeze….Dick Kirchoff manages the official responsibilities that come along with being the Mayor of the Ice Cream Capital of the World….and he is doing one heck of a job!

One thing….in case you were wondering, his favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dirty Ditches and Sweet Finales

Last Sunday was a big day for us at the 1SweetMama household. Following our usual Sunday morning routine of church, brunch, a few chores, piano practice, etc., we loaded up, along with other fellow members of Bud’s, my oldest son, catechism class and set off to clean ditches.

Our church adopts two miles of highway close to Le Mars and it is our duty to clean it up on a regular basis. It is a rewarding experience to contribute to this effort but I can just tell you…..some people just have no respect for nature. What slobs!

Remember that “Please Don’t Litter” public service commercial from the 1970’s? In case you forgot it…I found it (gosh, I love the internet!). I now know how that crying Indian felt. Yikes.

As a mother trying to raise two young men up to be adults in a world impacted by how we treat our natural resources, I implore our nation’s motorists to PLEASE hang on to your fast-food wrappers, cups, and straws, your cassette and video tapes (honestly, who has these anymore??), your dirty shoes, and dirty diapers (what?…are people thinking as they are driving down the road, “Gosh, junior smells….I think I will change his diaper on the road and simply toss the dirty one out the window!” – Puh-leeze!).

Please wait until you stop at a gas station or roadside rest area and throw it all away there. Nice, convenient trash cans are available for your convenience.

But the two miles along Highway 60 are now clean as a whistle, thanks to the dedicated volunteers of my church and Bud’s catechism classes.

And the best part? Following our ditch-cleaning activities, we celebrated Bud’s 14th birthday. His actual birthday was a few days away, yet, but the timing for the family seemed to work the best on Sunday night.

We topped off our day of work with frozen pizza and two scoops of Blue Bunny® Mint Chocolate Chip with that hard shell topping that you pour on the top. And the finale? Birthday presents to boot.

Just another day in the Ice Cream Capital of the World…..ain’t life sweet?

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Death & Life of Ice Cream

A co-worker recently passed away and I am always struck by the emotions I experience when someone I once knew as a vibrant and fun person is no longer going to be around. I think about the day when it comes to be “my time” to not be around…. will anyone feel this way about my absence, too?

I know that life will continue with or without me. The sun will rise and set. TGIFs will be welcomed, holidays will pass, and days of rain, sun, snow, and wind will occur…..whether or not I am here to experience them. People’s lives will move on. They will laugh and cry, celebrate life’s triumphs and mourn in its tragedies. Life continues…even though I will no longer be around to be a part of it.

Babies will be born. Children will play. Lovers will swoon. Life will continue. This is how it works. I am just sorry that I will miss it.

Which is why I found the video, “The Death & Life of Ice Cream” to be a fitting tribute to life. It is created by “Mind Pie” and the music is from Kevin MacLeod. I don’t know anything about either of these creators but I do know the message of this particular video, perfectly self-described as a “meditation of life, death, and ice cream”, seems to capture my disposition today.

This video elicits a very “zen-like” mood and I believe it effectively illustrates the sexiness of the measures of hope and despair, anticipation and disappointment, and the give and take of life itself.

It is beautiful….just like life. Make sure to celebrate its wonder and make sure to enjoy some ice cream along the way.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ode To My Metabolism

When I was a girl, a young lass with ‘tude
I never thought twice when eating my food.

For breakfast: a donut or perhaps, maybe, two!
For lunch: a Ding Dong and some chips would do.
Dinner was usually something from Mother
Usually a healthier something-or-other.

I never considered time on a treadmill
Or taking the steps or walking uphill.
Carbs versus protein – oh, please….there’s a diff?
Just give me some chocolate – that’d be terriff!

But then as the hands of age tightened their grip
I noticed a slight change in my thigh and my hip.

A mere glance at a cookie would add several pounds
My rear-end gi-normous, my midsection: round!
A cruel reminder that no longer I could
Enjoy vast amounts of decadent food.

With cardio and weight training, I must challenge the fate
Of an ever decreasing metabolic rate.
Nevermore can I sit: a couch potato I be.
Now sit-ups and lunges in reps of three.

So bye-bye to the sweets and fast-food of my youth
Okay, maybe one French Fry, if you must know the truth.
Or maybe a dozen and a Big Mac is fantastic!
What the heck, I’ll buy jeans with waistbands of elastic!

Here’s to full-figured gals in their primes!
Hourglass shapes – it’s the look of the times.
So eat, drink and be merry, of course moderate…
And save room for ice cream and let’s celebrate!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chocolate Chip Pancakes...With Ice Cream!

Last Sunday night, being the uninspired mother that I am, I made my boys chocolate chip pancakes for dinner. It is not completely unexpected for me to throw together pancakes on a Sunday night. It is good comfort food. And, apparently, according to my two boys, I make the best chocolate chip pancakes on the planet.

Peanut, my youngest, kept asking for ice cream while I was making the pancakes and I continued to refuse his 9-year old pleas. “No…dinner will be ready in 10 minutes! You do NOT need ice cream before you eat pancakes!”

A 9 year old brain cannot make the connection that ice cream before pancakes is a bad thing…..but is it?

As Peanut was stomping off, a flash of culinary brilliance hit me……What about ice cream WITH pancakes?

“Hold it, Peanut!” I called after him.

He came back in to the kitchen and watched as I served up a plate of pancakes and in the center of the pancakes: a scoop of Blue Bunny® Vanilla ice cream. It wasn’t all too pretty to look at but the look on Peanut’s face said it all. Astonishment. Joy. Total confusion. Followed by more joy.

My oldest son reacted much the same way but, since he is a teenager, the emotions were accompanied by an eye roll. I will take it!

But the pancakes disappeared in record time. Look out Paula Dean, this Mama’s got Chocolate Chip Pancakes….with a cold and creamy ice cream center!! Mmmm!

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Birthday Party

“Peanut”, my youngest son, celebrated his 9th birthday last week and his birthday party consisted of my chauffeuring he and two similarly aged boys to see the “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” cartoon movie.

We loaded up on candy and pop and popcorn and headed inside the theater.

“Peanut” and his two buddies have all seen the Clone Wars before but were dying to see it a second time. While the movie was intriguing (all computer animation), it was uninspiring. I could barely make it through the first viewing, much less go back to see it again! Mid movie, Peanut leaned over to me and said, excitedly (in his candy and pop haze), “Isn’t this movie G-R-E-A-T?” Without hesitation, I, against my better judgment to be brutally honest with my angel, responded in the affirmative and matched the sentiment with a big ol’ thumbs up. After the movie, they all exclaimed, “It was even better the second time!” Really?? Maybe the more times you see it…the better it gets!

After the movie, the boys spent a king’s ransom on video arcade games before returning to our house to play with Star Wars action figures and talk mostly in their “outside voices” despite the fact that I would remind them, continually, that we were actually inside.

After the sugar buzz wore off, they wanted dinner (pizza!) followed by the giant decorated chocolate chip cookie and ice cream - Peanut’s favorite: Blue Bunny®’s Super Chunky Cookie Dough ice cream. After clearing off the pizza plates, I noted that one little guy, the silly red-head, only ate about four bites of pizza. I asked “Red” if he got enough to eat, to which came his wise and worldly reply (and you have to visualize that he is patting his stomach when he said this….keep in mind, “Red” is 8) “Well, these days, I am just not that ‘in to’ eating.” I laughed out loud.

Maybe it was the giant package of Sour Sweet Tarts and the large Dr. Pepper talking, but apparently he and the other boys must have found their stomachs again because they managed to woof down several pieces of chocolate chip cookie and piles of ice cream faster than you can say “chocolate chip cookie and piles of ice cream”.

We actually had a great time and I was glad to be a part of it.

Ahh, boys. I read a quip once (and I wish I could attribute it to someone but wouldn’t know who) that states, “A boy is just a noise with dirt on it.”

And I have two noises who are my whole world.

Happy Birthday to my youngest dirty noise, Peanut. You are half-way to being an adult. Enjoy every last minute of your youth. It goes so quickly.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

...And Speaking of Lipstick: The Cone vs. The Dish Debate

The first official poll of “The Sweet Life” blog is over and the results are in:

The ‘astounding’ (hint of sarcasm) response of 34 total votes tells me two things: 1.) I really need to get more readers to this blog, and 2.) of the choices between eating ice cream in a dish, in a cone, or in their hand….more of my readers prefer ice cream served in a dish.

In fact, 55% of readers prefer ice cream in a dish to the 44% of readers who voted to eat their ice cream from a cone. Surprisingly, no one revealed their preference of eating ice cream straight from their hand. Puzzling. (Picture me, raising my right eyebrow and rubbing my chin)

“Election Fever” has caused me to want to over-analyze everything ad nauseum and the cone vs. dish debate is no different. So, I tried to determine what hidden message is being communicated by those who prefer a round dish to a pointed cone. And this is my deduction:

The closest study I could uncover which compares people who prefer pointed objects to round objects is the “Lipstick Personality Test”. According to the “Lipstick Personality Test” (sorry to any of those voters out there who are guys – you are just out of luck, here), the tip of your used lipstick says a lot about you. If the tip of your lipstick is round and smooth all over (like a bowl!), you are easy going, a peacemaker, even tempered, steady, likeable, and generous. If the tip of your lipstick comes to a point (like a cone!), you tend to be lovable, family oriented, a “doer”, can give orders easily, are domestic, exaggerates sometimes, stubborn over little things, and need to be around other people. Now the caveat to the “pointed cone personality” is that perhaps you prefer the cone but the flat bottom variety? Well, I have a personality for you, too! If you like the bottom of your cone like you like the top of your lipstick – flat – then you are to the point (how ironic!), have high morals, need approval, are careful about appearances, are very dependable, conservative, quick-minded, and love a challenge.

So, now I have a better glimpse into the inner psyche of my entire readership – which is made up of, primarily, my friends and family. How did you vote? Is my analysis accurate? Hmm….maybe I need another poll to determine the accuracy of this poll. Or maybe I just need more to do.

At any rate, check out the various other lipstick personalities and see how you fare. And guys, you can learn about the women in your lives, as well, by glancing at the tips of their lipsticks….just don’t let them catch you digging through their purses or make-up bags. Because that would be just weird.

Until then, I remain……..1SweetMama