29 November 2009

Drinking and Driving

Saturday night, after feasting on another huge and indulgent meal and self-medicating with a magnum bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (you would understand if you knew my family), I meandered into the living room where Chloe was playing Mario Kart on the Wii.

Now, when Chloe visits, she spends approximately 85% of her time on the Wii playing Mario Kart, and she boasts about how good she is. She loves to challenge us and act very unsportsmanlike when she wins.

In the race I was watching, Chloe was doing terribly. She kept falling off the edge, and she was driving like a damned maniac. I demonstrated my maturity by laughing at her and mocking her each time she made a mistake--especially since this terrible driving was so out of the ordinary for her.

So, finally, Chloe said that I should drive since I thought I was so good. Since I was about five glasses of wine deep, I had too much confidence (kind of like the time I did the 30-day Shred with Cassie after consuming large quantities of wine). When it was time for me to pick out my track, though, my confidence began to wane and I selected Mushroom Gorge, only because that one is easy, I know it like the back of my hand, and I felt like I would suffer the least amount of embarrassment if I drove that particular track.

But something was off. Way off.

I kept falling off the edges. I didn't know where I was going. I was dying left and right. When my instincts told me to turn right, I really should have turned left, and so on. Throughout the race I was commenting about how this should serve as a lesson about why we shouldn't drink and drive (teachable moments, you know). It was awful. I came in 12th place and was a full lap behind 11th. I just couldn't understand how I'd done so badly.

I walked into the other room and, in all seriousness, stressed to Matt the importance of being sober while driving. I told him about the race and was freaking out. What if I had been driving a real car? What if I drove a real car off a cliff or a giant bouncy mushroom? I could have killed myself and other people!

And then my brother and sister (both of whom are THE DEVIL) came into the room laughing. Apparently they'd unlocked some mirror feature on the game, and the track was actually backward. So it wasn't me or the booze, it was just that my siblings are evil. What a relief!

Moral of the story: you can drink and drive on Mario Kart, but not in real life.

Also, never trust your siblings. At least, never trust mine.

Was It Worth It?

On Friday morning, after a near-death experience that involved lard, flour, and milk, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to hit the Black Friday sales at Target for the first time in my life. The experience was kind of weird.

First of all, I was tired.

Second of all, it was freezing outside.

Third, I was still suffering from my gravy overdose.

But there were deals to be had, and even though we were there before the store even opened, we had to wait in a line that looked like this.

The kind people of Target were there handing out reusable shopping bags and maps of Target. (Like I need a map of TARGET!) The police were there to stop shenanigans. And it seems that everyone else in the line was there for a big screen TV.

Seriously, it was surreal to walk through Target--the same Target I visit five times per week--and see a big screen TV in each cart.

We didn't have a big screen, though. I treated myself to one of these, a 1 TB (I think that stands for terabyte, which I'm pretty sure is some type of dinosaur) external hard drive. I needed it anyway and saved $40! Horray for Team Mandy! The best part about the hard drive is that it may be enough to make our computer last for a few more years. Hopefully now we won't have to drop a bunch of money on a new one. And now we don't have to wait for days while each internet page loads. (Matt used to read a book while waiting for the pages to load.)

And I couldn't resist buying one of these for the guest room. A king-sized down comforter for $30? Done and done. And, is there anything more comforting than the crinkle sound a new down comforter makes? No, there isn't.

So, if you're planning on visiting, look forward to a faster computer and a luxurious bed.

Did you do Black Friday shopping? Were you one of those people with the flat screen in your cart?

26 November 2009

Death by Gravy

When I suggested that the self-improvement plan was on hiatus, I did not mean that I would try to kill myself with food. Gluttony, sure. But death by gravy? That was never the intention.

But that's what happened. Today I ate what seemed to be a normal Thanksgiving plate. By normal I mean huge, but this is America. Normal is huge. Somehow, though, the quart of gravy that I put into my body has started to eat away at my internal organs. Several times tonight (presently it's been eight hours since we ate our Thanksgiving dinner) I have complained to Matt that I have been experiencing chest pains, only 75% joking. The suggestion that he should get me a glass of red wine to help out with the heart attack I was having was a joke, of course. I've watched enough 60 Minutes to know that one glass of red wine won't cure an in-progress heart attack.

And when, in excruciating pain from the dinner itself, I rolled myself into the living room with a slice of pumpkin cheesecake, Matt just shook his head and asked what I was doing. "Hair of the dog," I replied. It did not work.

So, I feel like I'm on the verge of death by gravy, but before I leave this life I want to share some pictures from our Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin cheesecake. (The is my dad's with cranberry/orange puree something or other on it--I took mine plain.) The crust was made with Nilla Wafers. Mmmmmmmmm.

Bolognese and pie preparation on Wednesday night. Our little kitchen was full of activity.

I think the pilgrims took some bites out of the cheesecake in the middle of the night. Everyone knows you can't trust a pilgrim.

And we ate pumpkin cheesecake for breakfast. Looking back, this is where my day started to go downhill. (Really, my day was shot from the beginning, when I woke up at 7:15, freaked out and threw on my clothes so that I could get to Target and buy a cheap external hard drive. It wasn't until I was at my car that I realized that today was Thursday, and not Friday.)

Chloe thinks that making stupid faces will get her out of having her picture taken. I call her bluff.

Turkey was in the oven early. (Thanks to the botched Target trip.)
And came out looking (and tasting) pretty pretty good.

One of the best parts about having my family--especially my dad--here is that they'll do much of the work. Kitchen bitchin', as he likes to call it.

The dogs searched far and wide for floor scraps.

And the rest of us sat around watched Thanksgiving Friends episodes. Fifty points to the person who knows which one this is. (It's my favorite one of them all.)

And The Bruce kept on keepin' on, until, finally, dinner was ready.

We ate and ate and ate, until we couldn't eat anymore. And instead of doing this. . .
. . .or these. . .

. . .I took a nap.
How was your Thanksgiving?

"Total Eclipse of the Heart"--Literal Version

One of Matt's favorite songs is "Total Eclipse of the Heart." If you get him in just the right mood, he'll do a dramatic interpretation of the song for you. But it's got to be just the right mood.

Chloe once commented that "Total Eclipse of the Heart" is the perfect song for ice skating. (She then proceeded to guide her Bratz dolls through an ice-skating routine.) Jordan, our gigantic brother, responded,

"Yeah, it's what I do all my ribbon dances to."

Yay. Of course, this was during wedding preparation time so we had a ton of ribbon on hand. We tied some to a spatula, and Jordan entertained us all, gracefully ribbon dancing throughout my grandmother's kitchen. I laughed until it hurt, and it was one of the happiest moments of my life.

Later, we came across the literal interpretation of the video. If you haven't seen it before, you're in for a treat. If you have, watch it again. After all, it's Thanksgiving. What else do you have to do?

Fashion for Pups

In addition to the human guests we're hosting this Thanksgiving, we've also got Reilly, Mitch's dog friend. Reilly's become one of the family, and the big dog/little dog dynamic never fails to amuse me.

They're in a snuggling competition. Here they are snuggling on the couch with Grandpa Bruce.

The dogs have developed similar traits, in large part because Reilly emulates Mitch's every move. If Mitch does something, so does Reilly.

Except for one thing, wearing clothes. Matt laid down the law when we got Mitch (and by "when we got him" I mean "when I birthed him") and said that Mitch is not allowed to wear clothes. Really, the rule is that I'm not allowed to torture my big furry dog with unnecessary and silly clothing. It's fair, I guess. I just buy him snazzy collars to keep him fashionable.

But Reilly IS allowed to wear clothes; in fact, when it's cold outside, they may even be necessary. He shivers if he's not wearing them!

So I always buy clothes for Reilly--only the most stylish and trendy pieces, of course. For example, this ugly dog Christmas sweater from the $2.50 bin at Target. Are you kidding me? Ugly sweaters for dog? SCORE!

Also in the $2.50 bin was this little '80s throwback jacket. This one makes him look like he could be a character on Wet Hot American Summer.

But one piece of attire that I didn't get Reilly, but that he showed up to our house wearing, is his Snuggie for dogs. Yay.

We've already discussed the hilarity of the Snuggie/Snuggie for Dogs, so it probably won't surprise you that this picture was on the back of the box.

Reilly sports his Snuggie with pride. He loves the warmth it provides, and he loves to wear it when he's reading (using the bonus book light!). Really, he loves all of his clothes.
And they don't slow him down a bit.

(One of the best things about dogsitting Reilly is watching him and Mitch take turns chasing one another around the back yard.)

Happy Thanksgiving to you! I must go baste!

**Yes, I've read, too, that basting is unnecessary, but I like it, and I just brush butter and spices over the bird. Matt loves what it does to the skin, and would be heartbroken if I did anything differently.

25 November 2009

Christmas Gift Ideas--Thanksgiving Eve Edition

Happy Thanksgiving Eve to you!

Here at M Cubed we're gearing up for the big feast by eating as much as humanly possible. "Let me explain to you how the human body works. . .it's like stretching." After an afternoon of shopping with Chloe (P.S., I hate Aeropostale) and treating myself to a couple of early Christmas gifts (see below), we returned home, ate French dip sandwiches (for the second time this week--I heart au jus), played some Wii Mario Kart, and are now gearing up to make bolognese. I'll need to ellipt for 200 straight hours just to compensate for one single day of this vacation, it seems.

My house is a disaster already and I'm trying not to think about it. Instead, I'm going to give some Christmas gift ideas, ideas for gifts for me or for another special person in your life.

First, Gap has sweaters on sale for 50% off right now. I bought two. This one, (but mine is a pretty blue). . .

. . .and this one, to remind me of JMU, and grapes. And the club I used to be in, the Unicorns.

In addition to sweaters from the Gap (50% off!!!), I've been eyeballing these items lately.
Bamboo cutting boards. My current cutting boards suck, and I'm convinced that they're making my knives dull. I really like how this one has the overhang. Would that keep it more stable, I wonder?
Felt soap. I don't know why I like this, but I'm obsesssed. Can someone please show me how to make this? (These are from Anthropologie, and are ridiculously beautiful and overpriced.)
External hard drive. This one is 1 TB, which I can't even wrap my mind around. Perhaps I could store all of my photos on it and free up some space on our dinosaur of a computer? This one will be on sale at Target for $60 come Black Friday. It may be enough to get me to a store on a day I usually opt to hide from the general population.

Nesting measuring cups. I saw these in Real Simple and really liked them. Officially, they fall under the category of things I really don't need, but, eh, who cares? They're pretty!

And, if you're feeling particularly generous, I wouldn't hate you if you sent this camera my way.

I'll bake you something!

Okay, expect more Christmas gift ideas (maybe even some from Matt, Jordan, and Chloe?).

Right now, though, I need to go bake a pumpkin cheesecake (which I will trade for a Nikon D5000 if you insist!).

24 November 2009

Martha Hates Sarah Palin, Too!

"She's very boring to me, very boring. And a very, to me, kind of a dangerous person. I mean, she's dangerous. She speaks, she's, she's so confused. And anyone like that in government is a real problem."

I love you, Martha Stewart.

23 November 2009

Giving Thanks Like the Publix Pilgrims

Horray for a two-day week!

The self-improvement plan has taken a hiatus until November 30. In the meantime, I shall be consuming mass quantities of meat, butter, pie, and wine. I shall be unproductive. I shall take naps at ten to the hour every hour. I shall neither sweep the floor nor put the clothes away. But that's what Thanksgiving's all about, right? That, and, of course, giving thanks.

I am thankful for:

  • My little family, Matt and Mitch. Those boys sure do make me happy.
  • My wonderful, smart, funny friends. I am especially grateful for those friends who will give me an honest answer when I start a conversation with, "Now, tell me if I'm being a bitch here. . ." or "Tell me if you think I'm wrong." A truly good friend is more than just a member of the cheering section.
  • All of my great kitchen equipment
  • Having a wonderful mother and father in-law. I've heard many a horror story, and I'm happy that I don't have to worry about having a crazy mother-in-law or a creepy father-in-law. Truthfully, the ones I got couldn't be much better.
  • Having a job, however frustrating it may be at times.
  • Facebook. How else would I spend hours per day stalking people, many of whom I don't even like?
  • Our health. Let's keep it that way. (Maybe I should get back to that self-improvement plan?)
  • My bigger (extended, not fat) family: they're loud and crazy, but full of love. And all of the annoying things about them are going to be useful when I write my tell-all book.
  • Cupcakes
  • Boxes of wine
  • Turkeys
  • Naps
  • My down comforter
  • Having a president with a brain (even if Congress can't seem to grow one)
  • Martha Stewart and Real Simple
  • My camera
  • Dogs in general
  • TV shows on DVD
  • Pajama pants
  • Parks
  • The internet
  • Publix
  • Season-specific salt and pepper shakers. For example, the Publix pilgrims, Paul and Polly. I love breaking these guys out. Their arrival means turkey and naps and love.

I want to use them to season mashed potatoes.
T minus thirty hours until the family arrives. Uh oh.

A Postcard for Nina

It's been said before that I have the worst taste in music that's ever been. Having said that, allow me to share with you my new favorite song, "A Postcard to Nina." I've been listening to it on repeat for about four days now.

How was your weekend? Did you catch the season finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm?

20 November 2009

Christmas and Clueless and Mitch

This week has been crazy busy and tiring. Next week will be even crazier, so don't be suprised if you don't hear too much from us in the next ten days or so. BUT, there will be fun stories and pictures to share afterward. Perhaps Aunt Darcey will bust her ass again whilst performing the "Single Ladies" dance? One can only hope.

Quickly, though, let me fill you in on on the happenings around these parts. First, frivolous purchases.

Oh, Target, why dost thou possess such wondrous gifts for the holiday season? I spent $15 on five rolls of this stuff. I think it's supposed to be ribbon. I'll be using it as, hmmmmmmmm, I'm not sure. But it was beautiful and shiny.

Yeah, I'm judging me, too.

But I am thinking that once I pull out my boxes of Christmas goodies, I'll figure out how to use this stuff. Or maybe I'll just stare at it with my eyes crossed. Either one sounds fun to me.

Second, Mitch has been searching for critters in the back yard. To date, he's found nothing (which is a win for me), but he's persistant, and I fear that sooner or later there will be a mole or an opossum or a baby or some shit. Mitch, if you're reading this, please do not bring a baby into this household. If you do, no more treats or bones, and it'll thunderstorm all the time.

(These photos should also serve as a lesson to us about why we don't buy camera lenses off ebay for the low price of $30/each. I might as well have just set sixty big ones on fire.)

I guess it's kind of neat. But not "wide angle lens" neat. Stupid ebay, stupid Mandy.

And we've got friends in town this weekend, we're dogsitting Mitch's bud Reilly, we've got family in town Wednesday morning, then turkey day, then more family in town, and then hopefully a recovery.

Forgive us if posting is a bit sporadic. Percent chance I know the meaning of sporadic because of Clueless? 96%.


Cher, I don't wanna do this any more, and my buns, they don't feel nothin' like steel.


OK, it will get easier, I promise. Just as long as we do it every day. Not just sporadically.


How do you know if we're doing it sporadically?


That's another thing, Tai. We've got to work on your accent and vocabulary. See, sporadic means once in a while. Try and use it in a sentence today.

(Later on. . )


Be seein' ya.


Yeah, I hope not sporadically.


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