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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Split Time

This weekend while in North Carolina I met a girl named Tommy Kaye. Since she was about 32 and had a husband named Frank, we became instant fries. Most of the Kinfolk were impressed by Tommy Kaye’s singing (“She sounds like Reba!") or her enthusiasm about her first grade class (“I’ve never seen someone so excited!”) but I was amazed by her super-toned bod. As a workout girl myself I had to know how Tommy Kaye got her bikini-ready physique. Here's how I found out. (And again, make sure to do your best NC accent on TK’s lines):

Elsa: “So Tommy Kaye, what do you do to stay in such good shape?”
TK: “Oh, thanks! I do the splits.”
Elsa: “Come again?”
TK: “The splits.”
Elsa: “You mean like this?” (visual: me attempting to do the splits, making it about halfway down…okay, I was really just standing with my legs shoulder-width apart).
TK, laughing: “Yeah, that’s right. I get up every morning and do the splits.”
Elsa: “And that’s your workout?”
TK: “You know, I was a gymnast growing up and I didn’t realize that everyone couldn’t do the splits. I’ve been doing them for years.”
Elsa: “So you’re telling me that all you do is the splits?”
TK: “Yep. Every morning."
Elsa: “And that’s how you got toned legs?”
TK: “Yep.”
Elsa: “And that’s how you got a six pack?”
TK: “That’s right.”
Elsa: “Muscular arms?”
TK: “Uh-huh.”
Elsa: “All from doing the splits?”
TK: “Yes, ma’am.”

I can’t believe I’ve been busting my ass in spin class, sweating like a hound dog on the 4th of July, using circuit machines, lifting weights, jumping rope and doing crunches on an incline like a sucker! And all I had to do was the splits? Do you know how much time this is going to save me? Tommy Kaye should write a book! I mean, it would be a short book but still, I think she’s got the secret to a rockin’ body! I’m totally stoked about my new workout plan.

Now if only I could do the splits.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Things Overheard at the Pig Pickin'

This weekend Frank and I traveled to North Carolina--the site of my family's annual Memorial Day pig pickin'. The barbecue is held on the beach at my Grandma's house and prior to the lunch, she reads her famous poem--created just for the occassion. She includes everyone who's going to be there that day (about 50-60 people) and what's going on in their lives. Besides that, we spend the weekend going to different relatives' houses and eating, drinking, eating, talking, eating and more talking. Here are some of the things that were said this weekend and unless otherwise indicated, my grandma said them. Oh, and be sure to do your best North Carolina accent when reading this:

“Bottled water is for the birds. They just get it out of someone else’s tap water, you know."

“Are you gonna eat some grits?”

Referring to my aunt’s meal plan at her assisted living home: “You use it or you lose it.”

"I can't add her into the poem. Her name is Janice. Nothing rhymes with Janice! The least he could do is a bring a girlfriend with a name that rhymes with something."

Prior to reading the poem:
“The poem is a dee-saster.”

Every woman over 70:
“Frank, you look right skinny.”
Frank: “It’s because of Elsa’s cooking” (His attempt to compliment my healthy cooking didn’t come out right.) Old lady giggling ensued.

“Now you’ve got to have some grits!”

“Put some butter on your sweet potatoes. Put some butter on your sweet potatoes. Put some butter on your sweet potatoes. Did you put butter on your sweet potatoes?”

"I declare, I look like a rick-a-ma-roar."

Three old ladies trying to use the telephone:
“What’s the number?”
“It’s 247-354”
“Well, that’s not enough numbers!”
“Well let me try it!”
“It’s not working!”
“You didn’t do it right!”
“Is it ringing?”
"It’s making another noise. What’s that noise?”
“It’s not ringing. It’s not working.”
“You’re not gonna get through that way. You’ve got to start over!”
“But I don’t have enough numbers.”

Same three ladies trying to figure out one lady’s meal plan status:
“Juanita, how did you get eight meals in the hole?”
“Did you know it’s ‘you use it or you lose it?’”
“Well they say I’m good through the 21st.”
“Well it’s past the 21st. You’re gonna have to live on that sweet potato till the end of the month!”
“I reckon I just don’t pay attention!”
“Well you’ve got to keep track. You see it’s you use it or you lose it!”
"It is a pretty big sweet potato."

"You’ve got to eat your grits or else you’re not a Kinfolk.”

On using the camera:
“You’re wasting your pictures, Elsa!”
Me: “It’s the kind of camera where you can take as many pictures as you want.”
Grandma: “What?”
Frank: “You use it or you lose it.”

(After I poured Frank some Orange Juice):
“That’s right, Elsa. You wait on him.”

“Patty likes grits. Claire likes grits. Jack likes grits. Polly likes grits…”

"You want some fun in your drink?"

Aunt Betty Lou:
“Elsa, you look like a right floosie. What? It’s a compliment!”

“…Betty Lou likes grits. Betty Lynn likes grits. Jasper likes grits…”

“She isn’t any bigger than a minute; Well she certainly hasn't lost any weight; She’s right heavy.”

“Frank, you ate your grits. That’s a good boy!”
Frank: “Well I figured you use it or you lose it.”

More pics:

Grandma teaching Frank the card game Dirty Dog. For some reason the rules kept working in her favor: "Oh, I put down a 7, that's wild. I put down a 4, that skips you. I put down a 2, that means you have to pick up all the cards." Frank is saying, "Grandma, you're a dirty dog!"

Me with the "Use it or Lose it" ladies.

Enjoying a "fun" drink with Grandma

Friday, May 26, 2006

For the Birds

We’ve been enjoying the speakers Frank added to our deck and you know who else is enjoying them? A family of birds.

When we first spotted the nest Frank said, “How long do you think they’ll stay?” I said, “I guess until the babies are born.” Frank said, “So nine months?”

Obviously we had a lot to learn about birds. Here's what we know now:

-Birds are born faster than humans

-In the category of movement the score is baby birds =1, baby humans = 0. Baby birds start flying days after they’re born and baby humans…well, they never fly but I’m pretty sure they don’t even walk for at least a year.

-Mama birds don’t like people to come near their nests nor do they like being photographed.

-In the category of craftiness the score is Mama bird = 1, Elsa = 0. Did you see that nest? And she doesn’t even have opposable thumbs.

-There doesn't seem to be a daddy bird. So Mama bird is a single mother. You go, Mama bird!

-The whole bird family prefers Jamie Cullum to Coheed and Cambria

So far it’s working out fine with the bird family living out there. But if they stay much longer I’m pretty sure Frank is gonna start charging them rent. I hope he gives the single mama a break. I like her taste in music, home décor and the kids don't seem to be brats. As far as I'm concerned they can stay long as they don't bring any of that bird flu around.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sing. Sing out Loud. Sing out Strong. Sing out Proud. Or maybe not.

Even though we managed to avoid this entire season of American Idol, last night Frank and I tuned in at our neighbors’ house—and were struck with McPheever and Hicks-mania.

I don’t really like to watch it because they drag it out too long. Frank has a bigger issue: he’s tone deaf. So when they show the “bad” singers he says, “They sound fine to me.” He’s like Paula.

Even though I knew about Frank’s handicap (a big surprise considering he was a member of two semi-successful bands including Strictly Business), I didn’t know how bad until our most recent road trip to Austin. I had made a mixed CD of all my fave songs and we were jammin’ to them while I sang along. Every now and then Frank would join in as he always does in a silly-mocking-singing voice. It’s sort of high-pitched, way off key and really loud. As usual I said, “Do you have to do that? I really like this song.”

But this time Frank said in all seriousness, “What’s wrong with my voice?” Unsure of where to start I said, “Well, it’s just annoying how you sing in that silly voice and make fun of my songs when I’m trying to enjoy them.” He said, “I’m not making fun of them. I’m just singing.” Ohmyga. THAT’S HIS REAL SINGING VOICE. “So you’re saying that’s just how you sing?” I asked, stunned. What could I do? I had to allow him to sing along if that was, in fact, his real voice.

You may be surprised at my Simon-esque critique of Frank’s singing but a). You would think it too and b). Here’s something you may not know about me—I used to be able to sing. You know how people might say as a joke, “Hey, what did you do with the money your parents gave you for singing lessons?” I would have to answer that with “I got singing lessons!” I could always sort of sing but in high school I wanted to really sing (to get this part in the senior musical). So my parents sprung for voice lessons. The weird thing was, the voice teacher couldn’t sing all that well but she was a good teacher. I got good enough to get the part of Sandy in Grease junior year but by senior year I got stuck in the chorus for Guys and Dolls. Guess those voice lessons didn’t pay off.

I still sing around the house, in the shower and of course, in the car. In all those places I sound pretty good. But I’m no Katharine McPhee. I’m no Carrie Underwood. And Frank’s certainly no Taylor Hicks. But I figure if William Hung can make it in the music biz then Frank’s still got a chance. And until then, I’ll let him sing in the car. But only if I can turn the radio up really loud.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


I’ve always believed that a true sign that you live in the ghetto is the abundance of grocery carts.

Now that’s my neighborhood.

It started with just one cart. Frank said to me one day, “So what are we going to do about this grocery cart at the entrance of the neighborhood?” I told him, “I guess we could push it back to Kroger…” Problem: we’d look like the people who originally brought the grocery cart to the neighborhood.

So one day we were heading home and we saw what we thought was the cart a little bit further down the road. “Look. The cart moved,” Frank said. We were pleased that someone had at least tried to take it back to Kroger. But then when we arrived at the neighborhood entrance, we saw that the original cart was still there.

Then somebody obviously got the brilliant idea to merge the two carts together. Now they sit there, consolidated, as if they’re in the cart corral at the grocery store. Hey, why don’t we just start a whole line of them right there? That way, when we have to go to the grocery store (or move houses), they’ll be right there waiting for us. People will knock on the door of the house closest to the carts and ask, "Do you have any of the little baskets? I'm just picking up a few things."

I mean, this is the ultimate in shopping cart betrayal. I’m not sure who’s worse now—the lazy people who won’t take back their carts or the thieves who actually steal them. So whaddya think? Should I push them back to Kroger? It’s less than a mile away. Maybe I could do it in the middle of the night when nobody could see me. Or maybe I could get the homeless man who lives in our neighborhood pool to help me. I guess having stray grocery carts isn’t the ONLY sign that you live in the ghetto.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

You're Under Arrest. I'm a Cop.

That was my favorite line from 21 Jump Street. A 25-year-old Johnny Depp played a 25-year-old undercover cop playing an 18-year-old high school student. He’d go into the school, befriend the kids and then when things started getting heated, he’d whip his badge out of his pocket and say that famous line: “You’re under arrest. I’m a cop.” Does it get cooler than that?

Yep—when a GIRL goes under cover AND gets to wear fun costumes AND kicks everyone’s butts. That’s Jennifer Garner in Alias. I wasn’t an Alias fan from the beginning (looked all Science-fictiony and confusing to me) but Frank and I were drawn in by the promo for the 2005 season. It featured agent Sydney Bristo in all her different outfits and wigs, beating up people to the tune of “I’m Crazy for This Little Lady…” by Lenny Kravitz. We were sold. We rented the DVDs from Blockbuster and got all caught up. Well, we were still confused but we got the idea—she worked for the CIA and went undercover all over the world trying to get something from the bad guys. And they would always ask her, “Who do you work for?” and she would never tell them—even when they pulled out her teeth one by one. Sydney never broke. She had cool lines too:

“What’s your name?”
“Ima what?”
“Ima gonna kick your ass.”

And then, of course, she would.

I had my own Alias/21 Jump Street experience recently. I signed up to be a mystery shopper. My assignment is top secret so I can’t tell you much but let’s just say I gave an Oscar-worthy performance. They’d ask me questions and I answered all of them coolly. They couldn’t break me! Now I never did get to work in my favorite TV lines like “Ima gonna kick your ass” or “You’re under arrest. I’m a cop.” But I did get to say, “Here’s my urine sample.” Does it get cooler than that?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Dissin' on Dissertations

On Friday I attended not one, but two graduation ceremonies honoring Frank’s sister, Julie. I remember at my graduation from the college of communication at UT, we just handed the announcer our name on a piece of paper and he proceeded to butcher it across the loud speaker. By the time we got to the middle of the stage to collect our letter telling us we would one day get a diploma in the mail, they had already butchered three more people’s names.

But when you’re becoming a pharmacist I guess there’s more fanfare. Each kid got about 45 seconds of recognition plus a hood. And that was just the first graduation. When we reprised the whole thing for the second graduation, I needed a little more entertainment to keep me amused.

That’s when Frank’s mom and I discovered the dissertation topics in the program. You see there weren’t just pharmacists at the second graduation but also dentists, periodontists, prosthetic orthodontists (no idea), nurses and other molecular, micro scientist-type people.

Now I knew these people would do better than "Different Leaves” but still, I thought I could at least pronounce their dissertations. They were things like:

Linker Histone and Core Histone N-Termini Contributions to Chromatin Structure and Condensation Using a Reconstituted Model System (Is that even English?)

Characterization of Bone Morphogenetic Protein-9 Expression, Binding and Biological Activity in the Adult Rat Liver (Ew…he’s a rat doctor)

Contributions of the Core Histone N-terminal Tail Domains to Higer Order Chromatin Structure: A Chromatin Model System Reconstituted from Bacterially Expressed Purified Components (Um...)

A Feasibility Test of the Systematic Terraced Exercise Protocol in Mexican-American Fourth Grade Children in states that start with the letter “N.” (I Love it when they’re super specific.)

We based our applause on how much we liked their topic. For instance, if it had something about finding a cure for breast cancer in it, we cheered really loud. If it had “protons” and “photons” we did a golf clap. Then one woman had one that was something like, “The impact of male and female relationships.” How simplistic. That sounds like one of my MSN articles. Could I turn in a stack of ‘em and get myself one of those PhDs? We booed her.

Naturally, reading those topics made me feel just a little bit stupid. But then again, I bet those guys wouldn’t understand the complexities of my work: “Your Ex: Friend or Foe?” or “Two-minute tone-ups that work!” Or maybe we could put our minds together and create an intellectual yet entertaining dissertation. But the minute they bust out the rats, I’m outta there.

Friday, May 19, 2006

More Smoothiegal Experiments

So you may be tired of hearing about my smoothie stories but I’m not tired of telling them! Each day this week I’ve tried variations on smoothies. Monday you read about my strawberry-flavored smoothie and well, since I had about 227 strawberries left, I had to keep on using ‘em:

Tuesday’s smoothie:
I was out of bananas so at first I thought I was going to have a smoothie-less day. But then I realized I didn’t need bananas. I had plenty of other fruits lying around like strawberries, blueberries, cherries and grapes. Don’t worry, I didn’t combine all of those. Well, all but the grapes:

Smoothiegal’s Super Strawberry Blueberry Cherry Kashi Flax Seed Surprise

Notice it’s in a smaller glass than usual. That’s because I dumped half of it out after this reaction:


Let’s try this again:

Smoothiegal’s Super Strawberry Blueberry Cherry Flax Seed SPLENDA Surprise

So we lost the Kashi and added the Splenda. HUGE improvement.

Yesterday was a high point:

Smoothiegal’s Super Strawberry YOGURT Kashi Flax Seed Surprise

No Cherries
No Blueberries
Now with Vanilla yogurt

It was a smoothie sensation!

Yes, yogurt seems to be the key ingredient to a delicious and healthy smoothie. Oh, and of course, the smoothie squats, which I think I've maxed out on this week.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Have you met Doug?

Doug is kinda like my Except he’s not related...yet. He’s my sister-in-law Julie’s boyfriend. He’s been around the family longer than me—first as a friend and then as a boyfriend. He’s probably the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. Okay, that sounds cliché but I’m sitting here trying to think of a nicer guy and I really can’t.

Stats on Doug:

Age: 24
Birthday: April Fools Day
Likes: Music (is a drummer in a more than one band), sleeping
Loves: Julie, Julie, Julie…this is a man obsessed—but not in a creepy, scary way
Family life: Comes from a big family—is the youngest of five (is that right?)

At my wedding he totally stole my thunder. He did the video and when he went around and asked people what they’d like to say to Frank and me, Frank’s Nana and her sisters all said, “Oh, Doug. I just think you’re so cute.” Doug tried to get them back on track: “But this is for Frank and Elsa. What do you have to say about them?” Aunt Ila Mae said, “We hope YOU join the family, Doug. You’re just so cute.” Giggling ensued.

But ya still can’t hate the guy.

Oh, and he’s a pretty good dancer. Check out our performance at Christmas:

Okay, so we're not always in sync but I blame that on the egg nog. Or maybe Doug should stay behind the drums. Then he won't be as likely to steal my thunder.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Speaking of Clubs

I read a quote from another writer a few weeks ago that I wish I had written. She said something like, “I’m 29 and I’ve figured out that if I want to strike up a conversation with another girl my age all I have to do is mention The Baby-sitters Club.”

So true. I loved, adored and was completely obsessed with these baby-sitting teens: Claudia, Mary Anne, Kristy, Stacey and Dawn. Apparently this girl Mallory joined them later but I was over it by then. I’ll stick with the original five.

The girls from Stoneybrook basically ran a baby-sitting business complete with “kid kits” and weekly meetings. Claudia wore funky clothes, Mary Anne was a nerd, Kristy was a tomboy, Stacey was a Diabetic and Dawn was from California. I remember that Dawn’s mom was a “scatter-brain” and Dawn always had to say things like, “Mom, you can’t leave the house with just one earring.” Looking back, I’m pretty sure your mom was hitting the bottle, Dawn.

I devoured these books and I remember being so excited when I got a big stack of "Super Specials" for Christmas one year. I started reading them right away. And I guess in one of those books they had an offer to join The Baby-Sitter’s Club Fan Club. So I mailed off for the packet. After that I started getting these giant envelopes in the mail once a month with all this Baby-Sitter’s Club paraphernalia: book marks, crossword puzzles, posters, etc.

At first I was psyched. But then as I got older I started moving on to Sweet Valley High (from baby-sitters to trampy twins). I remember not wanting to receive The Baby-Sitters Club Fan Club packages anymore but I didn’t know how to make them stop.

One day (I think it may have been freshman year of high school), my mom picked up me and a group of friends from some school activity (okay, it was a band competition) and she handed me the big Baby-Sitter’s Club Fan Club package:

“Here, Elsa. Here’s your Baby-Sitter’s Club stuff,” she said.
“MOM! Why did you bring this here?”
“Well, I knew you’d be excited to get it so I didn’t want you to have to wait until you got home.”

So while I loved the fab five I had to move on at some point. But if you think I was embarrassed at age 15, just think how humiliated I was when those packages started being forwarded to my college dorm.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tuesdays with Vino Celebrates Four Years of Literary Lushness

Tonight my book club is celebrating its four year anniversary. That’s got to be some kind of book club record. How do we make it last? Probably because of the girls. Or maybe it’s the vino. Whenever I tell people about my book club I get lots of questions so I thought I’d take this opportunity to respond to some FAQ’s via an imaginary interview:

Why is it called Tuesdays with Vino?
Every girl brings a bottle of wine to share. I only recently discovered that the name may in fact be a take off on the book Tuesdays with Morrie.

Wow. That’s a lot of wine.
Yes. Yes it is.

Do you finish all that wine?
Usually. But if we don’t the hostess keeps the bottles.

So is everybody drunk talking about books?
Enough with the wine!

How many people are in book club?
It varies. When it first started sometimes we’d pack in twenty girls and now we have between 8-12.

How do you get into the book club?
You fill out an application, write a few book reports then there’s a talent competition. Oh, and of course there’s the part where you strip down to your underwear and we circle your fat parts.

Or you just show up with a friend.

Can men join?

Why not?
I’m not sure. I’ll have to check the handbook. I think gay men may be considered.

Does everybody read the book?
That varies too depending on the book. It’s much better if everybody reads the book.

What kinds of books do you read?
Classics like the Great Gatsby, historical fiction like The Other Boleyn Girl, best-sellers like Running with Scissors and books that later turned into movies like ShopGirl. There’s been almost 50 so they really run the gamut.

What’s a gamut anyway?
Aren’t we talking about my book club?

Right. So do you eat at this book club?
Yes, that’s my favorite part! The girl who hosts that month cooks the food and it’s always something really good. So good that the next day everybody requests the recipe. You know what? We could probably make a book club cook book! I’m going to suggest that tonight.

Hello? I’ve got more questions.
Oh, carry on.

Are the girls hot in this book club?
Of course. Please refer to the pictures.

Do you only talk about the book or do you mainly eat and socialize?
Here’s a breakdown:
42% Socializing
27% Eating and drinking
31% Book Discussion

Is there a leader of the book club?
Yes, Stefanie is the founder and our fearless leader. But tonight she is relinquishing her throne.

Duh. You can’t lead for more than four years. That would be like a monarchy.

Who will be the new leader?
We’ll find out tonight!

Are you going to run?
No. But I could be the spokesperson for TWV and make myself available for press interviews such as these.

Um, I don’t think there will be anymore interviews.
Well, still. I’ll be available just in case.

Tell the book club girls that I said Happy Four-Year Anniversary!
I will, imaginary interviewer!

Tuesdays with Vino on a field trip to New York City for a book club convention!


No, it was book club member Lindsay's wedding.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Smoothiegal Does Strawberries

A big apology to our friends the blueberries. On Friday I made my now famous smoothie— you know, Smoothiegal’s Super Banana Blueberry Kashi Surprise? Except I got especially adventurous. I had bought strawberries for my Granbury Girls event last week (to dip in this vanilla yogurt/ginger mix…so good) and I had a bunch left over.

So when I went to make my smoothie, I thought, “Why not add in some strawberries instead of blueberries?” It reminded me of the old strawberry/banana smoothie I used to get at Thirsty’s in the mall. Whatever happened to that place?

I kept every other ingredient the same: milk, ice, banana, flax seed (did I tell you I’ve been adding flax seed now?), a few pieces of Kashi…I even did my smoothie squats (which now have a specific order: ten squats on the “mix” setting, ten squats on the “smooth” setting, five squats on mix, five squats on smooth, done). The only thing I changed was the berry part. And the result was…

Smoothiegal’s Super Strawberry Banana Kashi Flax Seed Surprise!

The only problem is that it looks like a strawberry milkshake. And why is that a problem? Because while it’s good, it ain’t no strawberry milkshake. And I’m not sure I needed the kashi in this one. I’ll keep experimenting and let you know. Oh, and I’m sure you’re wondering if I’m concerned about not reaping all the benefits of blueberries. No way! Not only are strawberries just as good for you as blueberries (antioxidants that fight cancer and heart disease, protect against vision loss AND make you smarter), they’re in season right now.

So even if you don’t make my famous smoothie, grab some strawberries for a snack. And I don’t think drinking a strawberry milkshake counts. But if you do, definitely don't forget your smoothie squats.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Blog Bicentennial

It’s the 200th blog! Can you believe it? It seems like just four-and-a-half months ago we had the 100th blog. Let’s start with some truths:

1. I knew the 200th blog was coming because everyday when I log in it tells me how many posts I’ve done. So I started counting once I hit 180 and it’s not like I’m surprised by this.

2. It’s technically the 202nd blog. But that’s because I put in that extra one the other day because I needed help with an article. And also because when I posted my new picture I had to put it in a decoy blog. Neither counts. THIS, to me, is the 200th blog.

For the 100th blog I asked you to rank your favorites. This time, we need to do something a little more glamorous (read: gimmicky). So I’ve asked some of our favorite celebrities to give their feedback on the blogs 101-200:

“Wassup in the hiz-ouse, g-Writinggal? Check it. That brog…blop…whatever the $*&# it’s called…about my swimmers. That $*^%in’ jammed. Hey, did you hear I knocked up g-Brit again?” -Kevin Federline

“Tom would like to thank you for never mentioning him on your blog and he would like to remind you that just because you are friends with Jacquie who is cousins with Katie, the two of you are not related in any way. Oh, and his favorite blog of the last 100 was the one about why Wham! rocks.”-Tom Cruise's publicist

“I like the one about Halfway Husbands. Jess used to nag at me about little stuff like that too and look where we ended up! Frank, if your wife is gonna give you crap like that then you AT LEAST to marry someone who makes a lot of money…and who has humongous breasts.” -Nick Lachey

“When I saw the blog about Katie, I thought for sure you would mention me. I mean, aren’t I the obvious choice to replace her? Also, I want to thank you for not writing about my haircut and how it looks like a mushroom. Or how I stammer through the news every morning. Hey, did you hear anything about Campbell Brown ousting me? Just checking. "- Ann Curry

“Hi, it’s me again. I represent both Tom Cruise and Neil Diamond and again, despite your claims that having the same birthday and a similar family name constitutes a relationship, you are also not related to Mr. Diamond. He would like to thank you for the tribute to him in Why Neil Diamond Rocks though. I told him it wasn’t in the last 100 and he said then his second favorite is Why Nelson Rocks." -Neil Diamond's publicist.

“I guess I’m supposed to say I like the one about Oprah being president because that would mean I get to be the vice president. Oh, that wasn’t in the last 100? Okay, then I like that girl Liz and her weird language. Does she need a best friend? Because I’m dundees with Oprah!”
-Gayle King

“What’s my favorite WHAT? You know you’ve got to speak up, Elsa. I’m on my way out so I can’t hear so good anymore. You’re talking about that stuff you write on the computer? Well, I don’t even know what a computer looks like. I’m on my way out. I don’t need to know. Eat your grits.” -My Grandma

Okay, so some are pseudo celebrities but wait till the 200,000th blog. Then we’ll bring in the big names. Thanks for reading!

Yes. Yes, I am wearing a "SRS 95" t-shirt. It's my Powder Puff shirt from high school that I recently salvaged from my closet.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Getting Free Stuff? It's a Breeze

In college Thea and I used to ask for the “pretty girl discount.” Can you believe we said that? And what’s more unbelievable? We usually got it.

I haven’t tried it lately but yesterday I got something better than a discount, I got something for free!

I was at the liquor store around 2pm like I am every day. (That was a joke but not sure it comes across that way in the written form. Do I need to add “just joking” to the end? Probably.) Just joking.

But I really was at the liquor store yesterday. That part is true. I needed rum because I was having the “Granbury Girls” (neighborhood ladies) over at my house for some drinks and…oh, no…I can’t spell that word that’s French and starts with a silent h and it means little food…appetizers.

I needed rum so I was scanning the rum section when the Bacardi rep asked if I needed help. I said I was curious to try the Bacardi Island Breeze rum (which I’ve seen Kim Cattrall pushing) because it’s half the calories. He chatted with me about the difference between it and regular Bacardi and what I should mix it with etc. I ended up opting for the Bacardi Island Breeze lime flavor and then the Bacardi dude said, “I tell you what. If you buy the lime flavor I’ll buy you the wild berry flavor too.”

What? I was already going to buy the lime flavor. He didn’t have to do that! But it was a smart move. Because now I’m totally a loyal Bacardi girl and I’m plugging them on my blog which reaches thousands (hundreds? okay, dozens) of people a day!

So I went up to the register with the Bacardi dude and they swiped my credit card for the lime and his credit card for the berry. Two bottles of rum for the price of one! The guy at the register said, “Ya know he wouldn’t have done this if you were a hairy old man.” And I said, “That’s right! The pretty girl discount is back, baby!”

Look at my fun drink! And it's half the calories and half the alcohol of regular Bacardi. That means you can drink twice as many! And if we run out of rum, that's okay. I've got another bottle!
That's me visiting the holy land in 2003

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Have you met Nadia?

Nadia’s my gal pal. We’ve been friends since I was like 17-years-old (is that right, Nadia?). Basically it’s one of those dysfunctional friendships where every time I see her I’m trying to be just like her. Well, mainly I just want my hair color to look like hers.

Nadia works for Clairol. But I remember back in the day when they had an older Nadia. I still hung out with her every three months or so but it wasn’t as much fun as the new Nadia. In high school my best friend Amber and I used to share Nadia. Talk about dysfunctional. Then we all looked like her. I think my sister knows her too.

For awhile in college I didn’t hang out with Nadia as much. I was going through this California “the blonder the better” stage and I hung out with Nancy:

She’s cool and all but I never feel very intellectual when I hang out with her. She just wants to talk about shallow things like pop stars and fashion. I’m in a place where I’d prefer to talk about celebrities and reality TV. So I went back to Nadia.

Sometimes I go for months without seeing her. And while she’ll inevitably scold me for that, we’re able to just pick up right where we left off. Like yesterday, I hung out with her for about 35 minutes when she really only expects me to stay for 25. Oops, now I look more like Nancy! So anyway, big shout out to my friends at Clairol. It’s true what they say; we really do have more fun.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Writinggal Needs your Help!

I don't normally use my blog for requests like this but I'm desperate! Could somebody loan me $500? Just kidding.

I'm working on a story about energetic employees--people who have launched health, fitness and/or wellness programs at their office (totally on their own, without a directive/mandate from HR or the higher-ups). I had three great stories: a third grade teacher who holds workout sessions in the school library with fellow teachers, a commercial real estate broker who started a Biggest Loser-style competition among her colleagues and an employee at Verizon who lobbied for a lunch-time exercise class. I completed the story, we shot pictures, it was done.

But today one dropped out (the Biggest Loser one) and I need a replacement. Anybody know of anyone in the DALLAS AREA who has started a program like this? ("Healthy Lunch Day" or "Yoga after work" or "Let's all quit smoking together" are some examples.)

If you do you can email me at

Thanks, Blog Readers!

Paging Doctors who Don't Lie About my Food!

Yesterday I made some shocking discoveries about two of my fave foods that I originally learned about from doctors (and buy at Costco):

First, let me tell you about my salmon saga:

It’s not new news that salmon is a miracle food. Oprah likes to call it “Sammy” but I’m not into personalizing what I eat. Makes me feel guilty. And I’m already Catholic so I don’t need anymore of that. Oh, but why is it so special? I’m telling you this stuff is better than blueberries! It’s got those elusive Omega 3 fats. It can protect against heart disease, obesity, some forms of cancer (even skin cancer!), Alzheimer’s, Leukemia, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma…plus, it can curb depression!

But here’s the “catch:” You gotta eat the wild kind. If you get the farmed kind you could increase your risk of cancer because of the potentially high levels of chemicals called PCBs. Apparently they’re bad news.

Oprah once asked Dr. Oz (who always wears scrubs even when he’s not going to be touching a human heart on the show—perplexing) how we can be sure we’re getting wild salmon. Doc Oz said, “Just get the canned kind; then you’ll know it’s wild.” Schwoo. I get the canned kind from Costco! But still, I kept searching the can to make sure it said “wild” and it didn’t. But I kept on buying dozens of cans at a time and scarfing ‘em down for lunch every day.

Finally, yesterday I decided to look into it on the internet. And you guessed it: I’ve been eating salmon raised on farms! Just gobbling up those PCBs as if they were Kashi crack! So yesterday when I went to Costco I drove my cart down the aisle with the canned salmon and I shouted, “You’re not Sammy! You’re Satan!” and I didn’t put any in my cart. Now I’m gonna have to buy canned salmon at Kroger—one can at a time!

Now the second lie is about Dr. Praeger’s Veggie Burgers but since I got a little heated and long-winded about the salmon, I’ll keep it short:

Love Dr. Praeger (interviewed him for a story). Love his veggie burgers (taste so good and only 100 calories). Suspected they were too good to be true but kept thinking, “They were invented by a doctor!” Our friend Hungry Girl informed us yesterday that his nutritional facts are under investigation when a test revealed they had 20%-30% more calories (still not bad) and a lot more fat (oops). Dr. P had to remove his American Heart Association label from his food. Sad times.

These two revelations will drastically change my lunch but thank goodness dinner and breakfast are still in tact. And if you hear anything sinister about my Kashi crack, don’t even tell me. I don’t think I can handle it right now.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Early Days of Writinggal

This weekend I went home to Houston because my parents are moving out of the house they’ve lived in for 30 years. That’s right—it’s older than me! So I had to clean out my closet (while Frank kept chanting the Eminem song of the same name).

I cleaned part of it out when I was home for the ten-year high school reunion. On that trip it was all about notes. I had a shoebox for each grade which contained all my super important epistolary essays. My mom could have cleaned it out herself but the boxes clearly said “For Elsa’s Eyes Only” (and “eyes” was drawn out with two eye balls of course).

After reading through about 276 notes I realized something: Writinggal wasn’t always so cool. In fact, I was a big ‘ol dork.

That lesson was solidified this weekend when I found more of my early works. First, there was this letter to the editor of the Friendswood paper that I think I wrote in like 5th grade:

Landolt Student Proud

To the editor:

Texas Public Schools Week is this week and I feel that it is the perfect occasion for me to tell you about my school—C.D. Landolt Elementary in the Clear Creek School District. Landolt probably has the most functional architecture in the whole state. What I mean by this is that we are divided into sections called pods by grade level. The library stands right in the middle. To me, a library in the middle of the school means that the school feels books are an important part of our lives. Landolt has very clean facilities. If there ever is a problem in the bathrooms it is fixed right away. We raise money by holding monthly can drives and have an annual County Fair. Landolt likes to give to others. We are constantly bringing in food to help others (especially at Christmas). Landolt is a growing school and has a large number of students. We have added a new gym and are now building portable buildings to solve this problem. I am proud to be a student at Landolt Elementary.

Ah, those were the days: we cared about the cleanliness of bathrooms more than metal detectors and we could actually write the word "Christmas" and they would print it without changing it to “holidays.”

And if you thought I was dorky in fifth grade, just wait until you see what I wrote in 7th grade. Another letter to the editor but this time I shared my dorkiness with the entire nation in SEVENTEEN Magazine:

Dear Editor-

I was so excited to see Winona Ryder on the cover of this month’s SEVENTEEN (December). You’re the only magazine that gives this talented actress enough credit for all the fabulous movies she’s made. (Heathers was the best movie I’ve ever seen!) I hope Winona will be in the spotlight from now on.

Hey-I didn’t know then that I was supporting a shoplifter!

I have some more of both of these items if anyone would like to request autographed copies. I’ll make it out directly to you by writing that it’s for your eyes only. And I’ll definitely draw out the eye balls.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Have you met the new Chinese girl?

When I was a first-grader I took pride in the fact that I had been a student at Landolt elementary since kindergarten. Our group had been together for a full school year and a half and we didn’t take kindly to newcomers.

So you can imagine my dismay when I asked my red-headed buddy Michael Hobbley which girl he liked and he answered, “I like that new Chinese girl in Mrs. Keith’s class.”

What? Who was this new Chinese girl? And why did Michael think he needed to take his snot-nose outside the inner circle?

I’d find out the next year in second grade when the new Chinese girl, Jaime, sat next to me in class. I think I initially liked her because she hardly spoke. She just laughed at my jokes. “This new Chinese girl is not so bad,” I thought. We became inseparable—giggling in the lunch room (after they put the flowers on the table which signified we could speak), joining girl scouts (she was there for the Jenny Franco copy cat incident) and making countless trips to AstroWorld.

And as it turns out, even though she seemed painfully shy, Jaime was actually really funny. Oh, and she wasn’t Chinese at all. She was Korean. And not even completely—25%. What a disappointment to Michael Hobbley.

Even though Jaime moved to another school district in fifth grade, we still stayed friends—through the rest of elementary, junior high, high school (when she had a major crush on Matt Ryskoski) college (when we both attended UT and Matt Ryskoski finally asked her out), after college, our weddings (when I was her maid of honor when she married Matt Ryskoski)…And when she found out she was pregnant with her first child, here’s how I found out: I received an email with a picture of a positive pregnancy test. The note said to turn up the sound. When I did I heard the sound of someone peeing. See? I told you she was funny!

Now why am I telling you all this?

  • Cause Jaime’s cool and you should all meet her.
  • To show you what a great friend I am—you laugh at one joke and I’ll stick with you for 20+ years.
  • Matt called last night and asked me to write a letter to Jaime for this retreat she’s at this weekend. So I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone.

So even though I don’t like change or strangers or disruptions in my life, I’m glad Michael Hobbley gave her a chance. I’ve grown to like that new Chinese girl in Mrs. Keith’s class too.

Matt, Autumn, Santa, Jaime and Lorelai.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mr. Frank-Fix-It

There’s been so many blogs I can’t remember if I told you about how Frank’s dad used to console him about not being very handy.

Sorry if this anecdote is a repeat:

When Frank was a lad his younger brother David and his father were always building something, fixing something or spackling something. Frank, on the other hand, didn’t appear to inherit this handy ability. Now whenever his dad and brother are rebuilding a car engine or installing hardwood floors or even adding dimmers to a light switch, Frank asks, “Hey, dad, how come I never learned to do stuff like that?”

His dad (a counselor) will say, “When David and I were working on the cars and the house, you were always up in your room, playing your guitar.” Smart move on the elder Frank’s part. It makes young Frank think, “Oh, I’m talented too. I just have a different talent!”

So Frank was okay with his non-handiness until we bought this house. Now he’s determined to fix, install and yes, maybe even spackle some things.

It started with the doorknob on our back door. The original had a handle on it and it kept hitting the blinds. So Frank decided to change it. This was no small matter. He had to find a doorknob that matched the others exactly and he took his cause to about a dozen different hardware stores. He ended up ordering it online. And when Frank gets involved in a project, there’s usually at least one point where he’s done the whole thing wrong, curses himself, and then starts all over. This was true with the doorknob. But you gotta give the guy credit for determination. I would have called Doorknob Dudes Inc. after one try. So here’s the finished product:

Please, if you ever come over, compliment this doorknob.

After the doorknob there was the assembling of the liquor/wine cabinet:

The console table:

And let’s not forget the hanging of the Christmas lights, some repairs to the shower fixture and constant maintenance to my spin shoes.

But this past week he completed a project that united his two worlds: music and home improvement. Frank installed speakers AND a volume control on our deck. Okay, the wiring was already there in the backyard but we didn’t know where the other end was. Luckily, we bumped into the guy who used to live here and he showed us that the wiring was hidden behind what appeared to be a phone jack in the formal living room. Who knew? So after weeks of internet research, hammering and the purchase of his very first drill, we now have a kick ass stereo system on our deck:

We’ve had dinner out there every night since! So while I’m not a fan of the drill, I do like that I have a handy husband who’s good for more than just opening jars and squashing spiders. But watch out, Frank. I hear David’s thinking of taking up the guitar.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Curly Confusion

Curly-haired-women confuse my husband. Why? Because he doesn’t understand how one day they can have curly hair and one day they can have straight hair. We go through this type of conversation on a weekly basis:

Frank: “Who’s that girl on the cover of US?”
Elsa: “It’s Kristin Cavalleri.”
Frank: “But she’s curly-headed. I though she was straight-headed.” (This is what he calls this phenomenon.)
Elsa: “Well she just dried it differently. She probably has naturally curly hair.”
Frank: “I didn’t even recognize her. I don’t get.”

Whether it’s Kelly Ripa, Katie Couric or Katie Holmes, he’s perplexed. He even has to deal with the issue in person:

Sometimes Thea looks like this:

And sometimes she looks like this:

Frank often asks, “How does she do that?” And one time he even went as far as to say, “Just once I’d like to see Thea right after she gets out of the shower…what does it look like then? Is it curly or straight?”

Um, excuse me? Did my husband just try to trick me into letting him see another woman naked? I’m not falling for that one again.

And just when he thought he only had to face the issue outside of the home, I started to forgo the blow dryer. And Little Orphan Annie, I was curly-headed too!

Okay, I'm more “wavy-headed” but still…

Frank doesn’t like it. Probably because my curls are more Tanya than Temple (as in Harding and Shirley, respectively). But maybe I could get some tips on how to maximize them from Kristin Cavalleri. And no, Frank, that doesn’t mean you get to see her naked.