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Monday, July 31, 2006

Oprah’s in Re-runs and Regis & Kelly are Trying to Trick Me

What a TV disaster. Now I don’t want you to get the impression that I just sit around and watch TV all day but I do allow myself to check in on R&K and Oprah. I Ti-faux R&K at 9am and then when I eat lunch I watch their “host chat” which is about 15 minutes. I fast forward when Regis talks about sports, boring news items or himself. So really whenever Regis talks. Then I may or may not watch the first guest.

Then about 4:30 I get hungry again and that’s when I have my Oprah snack. I watch her on Ti-faux too so I fast forward through the first ten minutes when the crowd cheers for O and then I fast forward through commercials. So that’s about a 40 minute show.

But the summertime has messed up my routine. First of all, I don’t watch Oprah at all because she’s in re-runs. And like I said before, I can’t watch an Oprah re-run even if I’ve never seen it. So now when I eat my snack in the afternoon I have to resort to reading the paper. But I miss you, O! When are you coming back?

And Regis and Kelly, what you’re doing to me is downright despicable. Your show is supposed to be live (it even says so in the name) so you can’t have re-runs. Instead, you just pre-record shows a couple of days prior to the actual day and just plain lie about it! You can’t fool me. Here’s what you do:

Monday—Normal, live Regis and Kelly
Tuesday—Normal, live Regis and Kelly
Wednesday—Normal, live Regis and Kelly BUT after that show they secretly tape Friday’s show. I guess they tell the audience, “Just play along. We’re going to say it’s Friday but it’s really Wednesday.”
Thursday—Kelly has a guest co-host (last week it was creepy Geraldo...ew) while Regis flies off to tape his cheesy talent show.
Friday—The fake show! If you look down at the bottom of the screen when R&K walk out it says in very small print “This show was previously recorded.” Then they come out and say “Hi, everybody. It’s Friday, July 28th…” Well if it really is then why aren’t you talking about the weather outside?

Then, to confuse us even more on Monday they’ll talk about their long weekend. I haven't watched yet today but I know they’ll say things like “On Friday when I was in the Hamptons…” But I thought you were here, talking with that girl from Windfall? Seriously, I don’t know how they keep the lies straight.

"Reege, I think your pants are on fire!"

I like watching the Regis and Kelly fake show about as much as I like watching Oprah re-runs. Now I think I finally know what they mean when they say “The dog days of summer.” And my remedy for getting through them? I need a house in the Hamptons.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Why Bon Jovi Rocks

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a rockin’ blog (think Air Supply back in March) so I thought it was time for another one. But who’s left? I thought. I mean, I’ve already mentioned all of the great bands and solo artists to ever exist. In fact, my elite list reads like a real who’s who of the music industry:


Neil Diamond

Nicole Richie's Daddy

Ashlee Simpson

Strictly Business


Kelly Clarkson

And the original rockers of the “Why someone Rocks” series…Hall & Oates

Then of course there’s Rick Springfield who gets a big old honorable mention for kinda rockin’.

And let’s not forget MCMC—the rockin’ album otherwise known as

So back to today…I was thinking about who rocks and, of course, the first band that popped into my head was Bon Jovi. But, I figured, I’ve already talked about them. Or have I?

“To the archives, Writinggal!” I said to myself and then scrolled through over 250 blog titles (or actually just hit “control f.”). And can you believe it? I’ve written ten rockin’ blogs and not ONE featured perhaps the greatest rock band of all time. That’s not right.

So with that I give you, Why Bon Jovi Rocks:

The reason?


They just do. They rock when they’re rockin' (Living on a Prayer) and even when they’re not (Living on a Prayer acoustic version). We even played the rockin’ version of that song when Frank and I entered the reception for our wedding. We were so Tommy and Gina (except for the working at a diner and down the docks and stuff).

Other faves?
Wanted: Dead or Alive
You Give Love a Bad Name
Bad Medicine
Lay your Hands on Me
I’ll be there for you
Keep the faith

The hits just go on and on…I mean it…Into today. I love the new stuff just as much as the old like “It’s my Life” and “Have a Nice Day.” And I love the song Jon sings with Jennifer Nettles, “Who Says you Can’t go Home?”

In fact, I don’t have one spin routine that doesn’t include a song from the New Jersey boys.

And besides rockin’, they’re totally nice. Jon is always doing stuff in the community (as evident from his appearances on season 67 of the Real World in Philadelphia) and he and the whole band gave $1 million to Oprah’s Angel Network. And even better? They prove that rock star marriages really can last. Jon has been married to Dorothea for over 17 years.

And Richie? Oh, well, he was married for a long time. He gave it a good try.

And the other guys? Well, I don’t really know who they are. But I figure they rock too. Cause if they didn’t, they’d probably have their six-strings in hock.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Ann Curry, get outta there!

And while you’re at it, take Richard Engel with you. Every morning when we turn on the news we see you fools, sitting in these dangerous areas, bombs exploding right behind you, giving us the updates. Is that really necessary? Couldn’t you just sit in front of a green screen and project the images behind you?

Ann, you could still wear your black puffy vest if you wanted to. But, come on, don’t they make those in any other colors?

Don’t get me wrong. I agree it’s more compelling to have you there but that’s only if you’re DOING something. Just sitting there and reporting the news doesn’t give me any more info. than when Natalie Morales reports it from studio 1A in Rockefeller Plaza.

Now, Anderson Cooper, he does it right. He’s right there in the thick of it. He’s actually chatting with Hezbollah dudes! He’s like, “We’re here in Hezbollah territory, you know, where all the bombs go off. Oh, here comes one now. We better get close so we can get a good shot of it.”

Do I want him there? No way. I love A.C! BUT if he’s gonna risk his life; at least he’s getting some good television out of it.

It’s kinda like if you’re gonna get in the pool, you might as well get your hair wet. Or if you’re gonna eat that piece of cake, you might as well have ice cream too. Or if you’re gonna have one baby with K-Fed, you might as well have a litter.

Ann, you’ve got a family back home and Richard’s mom is worried about him! It’s not worth it. Get on the next flight (or cruise ship) home. Before you leave, give my best to Andy.

Oh, and bring me back one of those puffy vests.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Writinggal's First Annual Board of Director's Meeting

Yesterday I celebrated one year of being a full-time writer. Sure, I’ve been writing articles like “Which is sexier? Lips or Hips?” for about five years now but it was a year ago yesterday that I started spending 40 hours a week pondering things like this.

How did I celebrate? Well first I got all of the Board of Directors together and did a presentation. Here we are…

Oh, the Board of Directors is just Frank and me. I’m the Chairman and CEO and Frank is my CFO. I went over highs, lows and neutrals of the last year. We reviewed my income, expenses and my projections. There was a PowerPoint presentation, charts, graphs and plenty of Excel spreadsheets. (Bill Gates should really pay me for all these plugs.)

The last page of the presentation was a “wish list” which I asked my CFO to approve. These are things I need for my office. He approved the following:

-A new dry erase board (I write all my assignments on there and the one I have now is too small.)
-A cute storage bin/basket to store my clips (published articles). “Why does it have to be cute?” my CFO asked. “Because I need to keep it out in my office, not in the closet. So it has to match and look nice," I explained.
-Customized address labels

He did not approve the following:
-A laptop (“Maybe in 2008,” he said.)
-A fax machine (“Then we’d have to get a phone line,” he rationalized.)

We had to table those items until the next meeting.

After the meeting we hit Souper Salad to celebrate! We had coupons. (I know what you’re thinking: “Those spreadsheets must not have added up to much, Wriginggal.” No, that’s just how we are. We’d probably go to Souper Salad with a coupon even if I had ended the meeting with, “So in conclusion I made a million dollars this year.”)

Man, Souper Salad is awesome. I think I’ve only been once, years ago. It was $5.29 each (with our coupons) and we got salad, soup (duh), wraps (with tortillas OR lettuce) pizza, baked potatoes, bread AND ice cream (with sprinkles and chocolate syrup and everything)! And the salads weren’t just lettuce; they had all kinds of pasta salad too. Mmmm…it was so good.

We then came home and toasted to Writinggal with some Vela Love wine (from a shower for Steve and Tricia Vela).

The wine was delicious! We sipped it while watching our Ti-fauxed episodes of Big Love. Then the party got wild with my CFO throwing water bottles.

I’m so glad I don’t have co-workers or I’d be embarrassed to come into the office today.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bounce for Breakfast?

Since I buy giant boxes of Kashi at Costco I have to find places to put them. Often I store them in this cabinet in the laundry room. There they sit until I’m ready to bring them into the kitchen pantry.

Today I was ready for a new box so I went to my handy storage space in the laundry room and retrieved the enormous box. Just like every morning I poured my cereal, topped it with frozen blueberries and poured Frank’s kiddie cereal (we’re on Frosted Flakes with 1/3 less sugar now after Frank said, “I like the one with the tiger” and made a clawing gesture and a “grrr” noise).

And just like every morning I waited for my Kashi to soak so it could get a little soggy. (This is especially important with a new box because the clusters are very big at the top.) But unlike every morning my Kashi tasted weird. Was it the tiger cereal? (I sprinkled a little on mine.) Was it the blueberries? Was it the milk? I tasted all separately and found no problems.

Was it…dare I even suggest…the Kashi?

I sampled a cluster of Kashi straight from the box and decided that it did, indeed, taste weird. In fact, the whole box smelled like…like…dryer sheets!!

I love the smell on my clothing, on my bathroom counter and even in the shower but I don’t want it on my cereal! I guess the smell of the new Bounce dryer sheets seeped in as that box sat in the laundry room. Reluctantly, I dumped out my bowl of Kashi and poured myself a bowl of the tiger cereal. Frank said, “And it’s such a big box of Kashi! What are you going to do?” I said I would just put it back in the pantry and hope the smell went away.

But now, as I sit here typing my blog, I can still taste the Bounce. I wondered if I should be worried about consuming dryer sheets. I did some research on the internet. Apparently, it’s not a good idea to eat dryer sheets because they contain these harmful toxins. In fact, many chatters say that dryer sheets are bad news in general (even in the dryer). Something about cancer and other diseases.

So three bad things happened this morning:

  1. My breakfast tasted gross and I had to throw it out.
  2. I found out that my favorite cleaning mechanism may be faulty.
  3. I may be developing a deadly disease.

But on the bright side, I discovered I liked that tiger cereal too. Yes, I’m making the clawing gesture. Grrr.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Six Months to Go

When my friend KK was approaching her 30th she made a big list of things she wanted to do in her 20’s. I remember one was “drink a bottle of Dom Perignon for no reason” and another was “run a half marathon.” I think the rest had to do with traveling to far-off lands.

Well as of today I have exactly six months until my 30th birthday so my list probably shouldn’t include wild travels (besides, I’ve already been to Waco). Also I’d prefer it if one of the goals wasn’t “go broke” so I probably won’t have anything too extravagant on mine. What does that leave?

Hmmm…I’ve always wanted to do a triathlon. I even started training a couple of years ago. And by “training” I mean that I tried to swim. I bought a special suit, goggles…even a cap. I learned that not only am I a really bad swimmer, I don’t even like it. So there goes that.

I’ve done a marathon and I don’t plan on doing that again but maybe I could do a really long bike race. Maybe Ride for the Roses with Lance? Oh, it looks like they changed it to "Livestrong Challenge.” I could do that. But I’d have to bug people to contribute. Plus, there’s the logistics of getting my bike to Austin…

And I refuse to jump out of an airplane. I don’t even like flying in airplanes…why would I want to jump out?

Okay, let’s forget physical challenges…maybe there are foods I’d like to try.

I’ve done Sushi. I’ve never had caviar…but then again, I’ve got my rule about not going broke. And I’m not eating anything too weird like worms or roaches. I’m turning 30, not going on Fear Factor.

Maybe I SHOULD try out for a reality show. I’ve aged out of Real World, Road Rules and Laguna Beach. I’d do the Apprentice but I don’t really like business. I’d do Martha Stewart’s Apprentice but I can’t bake.

That’s what I should do! I should vow to make a really good batch of brownies from scratch.

Okay, so here’s my list so far:

Make a good batch of brownies from scratch.

I’ve got six months. I better start practicing. I’ll check back with you on January 24th to let you know how I did. Hey, maybe we can have my brownies with a bottle of Dom Perignon.

KK's buying.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Goodbye Wrinkles. Hello Wiggles.

I’m pleased to announce that my wrinkles are disappearing. Apparently all this moisturizing, lotion-using and salmon consumption has had a real positive effect on my skin. How can I be so sure?

For starters, over the past few months people have been accusing me of getting younger and younger. (That’s for enders too. I don’t have anymore evidence beyond that.)

First, there was a lady at the gym. I was chatting with her about something (probably the annoying trainer, who, by the way, I deterred yesterday by listening to Frank's iPod). I guess I mentioned that I was 29 and she said, “I can’t believe that. I thought you were like 22--24 at the most!”

See? There’s five-seven years. Just wiped off my face.

Then, the other day I was at Costco, buying things that must be purchased in bulk (beer, champagne and milk). Since I put my Costco card on top of the beer I was surprised when the checker said, “Do you have your ID?” I pointed to my Costco card and said, “I put it right there.” She said, “No, your ID.” My driver’s license? Why on earth would she need to see that?

How sad. That’s how long it’s been since I’ve been carded. I didn’t even know what she meant.

She obviously thought I was 20 (or maybe younger). There’s nine years. Poof!

My third example took 26 years off my real age:

Frank and I were at the neighborhood pool and we started talking to this man and his adorable daughter, Yasmin. I asked her how old she was and she said, “I’m three. How old are you?” Frank answered for me: “Just add a zero to that.” Being a smart little girl she said, “Oh, you’re three too!” I said, “Yes. Yes, I AM three!”

Then she totally invited me to her birthday party. I told her I would definitely come, provided I could have a corner piece of cake with lots of icing. I also told her my cupcake-stealing story to which she sympathized (and subsequently glared at Frank, my evil, much older husband). We discussed The Wiggles, country music (she’s a big Keith Urban fan) and the fact that we both had on pink bathing suits. Since it was late (and almost our bed times) I told my new gal pal goodbye with the standard bed bugs warning.

Yep. Three is definitely my favorite fake age. I think I’ll stick with it for awhile. But I'll have to invest in A LOT more moisturizer.

Me, hanging with my more mature, five-year-old pal, Maddie.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

WG Takes on Big Oil

Now I don’t usually get all into political, social or economical issues here on WG but I gotta bring up one: gas prices. And here’s what I have to say about them: they’re high. But I’ve figured out a way to combat them. Yesterday, I stopped driving.

That’s right. I didn’t leave the confines of my little Dallas neighborhood and I still had a very full day:

I worked: I wrote, researched, made revisions, talked to some Scientologists, called some martial arts experts (my job is very random and all over the place sometimes).

I worked out:
Went on an hour-long walk with Cul de Sac Carrie. And if there’s a heat index and a wind chill factor than there’s also a sweat scale. So if an hour-long walk in normal temps burns about 300 calories than an hour-long walk in 100 degree weather should burn about 475 calories. So I burned 475 calories without leaving my neighborhood.

I ate:
Frank even came home for lunch and then I ate about twelve other times besides that—all from our kitchen.

Now you might say, “But never leaving your neighborhood must get lonely, Elsa!”

No way. I even socialized: We had our Granbury Girls Pajama Jammy Jam last night where we ate breakfast food and drank champagne in our PJs.

I realize that at some point I will have to get in my car to buy groceries. BUT the Sig. Kroger is very close so I could feasibly ride my bike. (I mean, it’s obviously within walking distance since people push their carts from there.)

But then of course there’s CostCo. No way am I gonna balance giant boxes of Kashi while riding a bike. And restaurants. I may want to go out to eat at a place that’s not walkable or bikeable. Plus, who wants to show up to a restaurant all disheveled from a bike ride? And movies. I can barely make it there on time as it is. What if I had to leave two hours early just because I refuse to drive?

Yep, I think one day of car boycotting was enough for me. I’m still proud of myself. It’s so hippie granola of me. Next thing you know I’ll be living in a tree.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Junior Banana Trick

When my friend Courtney (or “Court Report” as we like to call her) and I were driving back from the baby shower on Saturday we decided to pop into Sonic for their 99 cent junior banana split special. I know; I know. We had cucumber sandwiches at the shower. We had cake (a corner piece with lots of icing for me)! But still, all that talking and house touring made us hungry for something sweet. And we had both been eager to try this dessert. They only offered the full size banana splits back during my days at Sonic.


I remember on my first day when I was on drink duty, things got really hectic and Diane (the career car hop and the only one permitted to wear skates) said, “Hey, new girl, make a banana split!” What? I hadn’t been through the training on this yet! But stupidly I said, “Um, okay.” So I wandered around, looking for ingredients. I found the “boat” and the bananas but I didn’t really know the protocol. I just started dumping ice cream and whip cream and chocolate syrup all over it. It looked good to me!

Diane came rolling over to me, screaming, “What are you doing?? That’s not a banana split! How do you NOT know how to make a banana split the right way?” I screamed back, “Because I just started working here today! All you have to do is TELL me how to make the banana split and then I’ll know. I can’t just magically know how to do it!” (It could be that attitude that got my hours dropped down to three a week.)

Eventually I got good at making the B.S. And quite often, since we were so slow, people would order food and then drive off in frustration so I would eat it! I probably had a B.S. every day that summer. It was a little awkward when they came back though…

Okay, back to present day (or Saturday):

We order our junior banana splits and Court Report even said, “Should we get one for Frank?” I said, “Nah, we can just split mine.” Then I remembered the cupcake incident and opted to invest $.99 in another one. Good thing I did. They did not look like this:

They were absolutely miniature! I mean, if Matel made banana splits to go in the Barbie Dreamhouse, they would would model them after Sonic's. Now I didn’t take a picture of them but luckily this guy did:

He obviously feels the same we did about them.

Oh, and I saw this on the internet while I was looking for pics: If they say, “Would you like to add nuts?” and you say, “yes,” it’s gonna cost you $.10 more. Now that might not sound like much but as Frank would say, “That’s a 10% increase!” But if you’ve got old Diane delivering it to you on roller skates and she takes a tumble, well it just might be worth it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Dime for your Thoughts

Did you hear they’re thinking of getting rid of the penny? Apparently it costs more to make the copper coin than it’s worth.

Congress says it’s just as easy to round things up to the nearest nickel. But can you imagine how our kids’ lives will be different without pennies?

Common phrases will change. For instance, we’d have to say, “See a nickel pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck.” Good luck? A nickel is FIVE cents! You best put that thing in your piggy bank and start investing! Don’t just carry it around for luck. Dance around if you find that much money just lying on the ground!

“A quarter saved is a quarter earned.” That’ll never work. Nobody can save quarters. They’re so useful in vending machines and toll ways and car washes. We have a mayonnaise jar here where I scoop up all Frank’s loose change (he leaves it lying around everywhere) and whenever we need a quarter, I go into that jar. It’s supposed to be some sort of savings for a big vacation one day. So far I think we have about $1.29…in, you guessed it, pennies.

And speaking of future generations, I already had my kids’ allowance planned out and it involved mostly pennies. In fact, I was just gonna give them this mayonnaise jar and say “go to town.” Now they’ll say, “What are these, Mom? Pesos?”

We’re totally screwed come tooth fairy time. I was gonna stick pennies under their pillows. Now don’t tell me people are giving quarters for that now! A quarter for a measly tooth? That’s like half of a Coke.

So even though I’ve been known to almost throw pennies in the garbage can (on moving day when you just don’t have anymore room in the boxes), I would still miss the little guy. And what’s Abe supposed to do? I say he should get the nickel. I’d rather have a bunch of Abes floating around in my mayonnaise jar than Tommy J’s.

Although I’m still not sure what to do with the term penny “pinchers”…nickel natchers? I’ll keep working on it.

Monday, July 17, 2006

My Rock (a-bye) Tour

Lately I’ve been hitting the baby shower circuit. If you invite me to a baby shower, here’s what to expect:

I will wear my baby shower ensemble which includes a black top and white flowing skirt with black flowers. I will sort of curl my hair but with the straightening iron (which baffles Frank). As soon as I get there I expect to pose with the mother-to-be and our mutual friends like this:

And like this:

Yes, these are two different occasions. I know; I look exactly the same.

You can almost always expect the same gift from me:

It’s a basket (or a pail in this case) with a bunch of essentials: baby lotion, baby shampoo, wipes, creams…it seems babies need more beauty products than we do!

I do this for two reasons:

a). I’m very practical and one of my favorite wedding presents was a basket full of cleaning supplies (Thanks, Aunt Sue Routzong!)

b). Because I can’t wrap presents and this doesn’t take a whole lot of wrapping but still looks cute. And hello? You can keep the basket/pail for storing all this stuff.

In return, I expect a stiff drink (I don’t care if it’s 11am; if you want me to get excited about a diaper genie, I’m going to need alcohol.) So far, on my tour of baby showers, nobody’s disappointed in this area. There’s always some champagne-mixed drink. This weekend the choice was between mimosas and pink lemonade. Now the pink lemonade didn’t come with champagne but I didn’t see any problem with mixing a little in there. Good idea, Courtney!

I also expect some good food. Again, everybody has come through on this one. You can count on some good egg casseroles and even cucumber sandwiches! I love me a good cucumber sandwich and you really only see them at showers. And remember, I like cake with LOTS of icing so save me a corner piece.

When I’m done stuffing my face, I like a very thorough tour of the hostess’ house. Don’t skip the garage, the closets or the laundry room. The inside of the fridge is preferable but optional.

Oh, and I’m okay with baby shower games as long as I don’t have to guess how big the mom-to-be is with some toilet paper. Come on, does anything good ever come out of that?

So please keep all of the above in mind when you invite me to your baby shower. I need to go wash my outfit so it’s ready for the next one. And you need to get going on those cucumber sandwiches!

Friday, July 14, 2006

If I were a Rich Girl…Nanananananana

In my profile to the right I say, "It's kinda like the choice between being fat and rich or skinny and poor. These are the types of things I ponder on my blog."

Frank pointed out to me today that I don’t actually ever discuss that on my blog. I don’t? I thought I did. Well, I certainly think about it a lot.

Like today, Frank and I were talking about this new master-planned community that’s going up in McKinney that’s supposed to be all about wellness and healthiness and walking, etc. It’s by our friend, Dr. Cooper (“our friend” because I often interview people at his center for articles plus we toured the place as a possible wedding spot in ’03). Frank said, “Ooh, I bet you’d like to live there.” I said, “Well, apparently everyone would because the houses are pretty expensive!” And there is our first example: If we moved to that neighborhood we would go broke; thus making us poor. However, we could use their walking trails, work out at the state-of-the-art fitness facility and shop at the healthy stores. So that would keep us skinny. See? Skinny and poor.

How ‘bout a fat and rich example?

You have to leave the office for lunch today. You could go to Subway and get one of their healthy subs (watch out for that mayo trick) OR you could go to McDonald’s and eat off their $1 menu. One will cost you $4+, the other, about a buck. If you eat at Subway you’ll be poor and skinny but if you eat at McDonald’s you’ll be rich and fat.

I could go on forever:

Should you buy organic food or regular old processed?
Cookies: fat free or full fat?
Pasta: regular or whole wheat?
Chicken: lean or not-so-lean?

Every time you choose one over the other you’re deciding whether to be skinny and poor or rich and fat.

In my quest to find a way to be skinny AND rich, I have found one example:

Turkey. When you go to buy hamburger meat, choose ground turkey instead. It tastes good. It’s better for you AND it’s cheaper than ground meat! Frank and I have never agreed on a choice at the grocery store until this. We’re trippin’ over these turkey burgers. As we eat them I say, “They’re so good…and healthy!” And Frank says, “I can’t tell the difference between this and ground meat AND it’s cheap!”

Last week at CostCo we bought like eight pounds of the stuff. And I think we’re gonna have to stock up on even more…especially if we move to Dr. Cooper’s skinny/poorville.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

HG's Loss, Your Gain

A lot of you have been asking about the status on the writing position I applied for with Hungry-Girl. About a month ago HG had a note in her daily newsletter about needing some help from someone who loves to write and eat. Hello? Add in "watching HGTV" and you've got my dream job.

So I obligatorily sent in my resume, a list of compelling reasons (see above) and a sample essay, written in HG style.

Status? Nada. Haven't heard anything. So I'm not completely giving up; I just feel that since it's been five weeks, I have the right to share my sample "Chew and Tell Review" with my blog readers. I mean, you wanna know what to order when you go to Chick-fil-A, right? And if HG doesn't approve well I'll just say, "Don't have a cow." (Sorry, I just had to slip a cow pun in there. For more of those, keep reading.)

Chew and Tell Review: Chick-fil-A

We love their cute cows, their alternative side items and even though we wish they were open on Sundays, we give Chick-fil-A credit for sticking to their values. But is everything on their menu a great choice? Here are a few tips for eating right when you wanna chicken out:

Say “bye” to the fry:

Hey, we love their Waffle Potato Fries as much as the next hungry chick but at 350 calories and 17 grams of fat, we say, “Let the cows keep ‘em!” Instead, try one of Chick-fil-A’s healthy side items like the fresh fruit cup (50 calories, 0 fat), a side salad (50 calories, 3 grams of fat) or a hearty breast of chicken soup (140 calories, 3.5 grams of fat). Yes, they cost a little more but we say it’s worth it.

Go for Grilled

Since their Chick-fil-A Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich is so tasty and satisfying, who needs the fried “classic” version clocking in at 410 calories and 16 grams of fat? Plus, with the grilled guy (at 270 calories, 3.5 grams of fat), you get tomatoes, lettuce and a wheat bun not to mention a much trimmer waist line.

Wait on the Wrap

When you hear the word “wrap” you automatically think “low-carb,” right? In Chick-fil-A language, that’s just plain wrong. Each of their three wrap choices comes complete with 50+ carbs. And while their 400 calories aren’t necessarily fast-food frightening, we think these dry, tasteless fellas are just not worth it.

Making it in the Morning

Now we would never tell you to skip breakfast altogether but if you’re short on time and find yourself honking your way through the Chick-fil-A drive thru one morning, we want you to be prepared. Your best bet is the Chick-fil-A Chicken minis which should fill you up with 270 calories and 11 grams of fat. Too small? You’re better off adding one more mini which takes you to 360 calories and 15 grams of fat than choosing the Chick-fil-A Chicken Biscuit at 420 calories and 19 grams of fat. Oh, and don’t be fooled by the words “sunflower” and “multigrain” in the Chicken, Egg and Cheese on a Sunflower Multigrain Bagel. That’s just secret code for 500 calories and 20 grams of fat.

Dream it, Don’t Shake it
If you follow our tips and have a nutritious, low-calorie lunch you can probably afford the sweet stuff too. Their Icedream cone is only 160 calories and 4 grams of fat. Just don’t let your sweet tooth get out of control with their new shakes—each one is over 700 calories and 25+ grams of fat. It would take a whole lot of shakin’ to get rid of that.

Do the Math

Like lots of other of our fast food faves, Chick-fil-A offers nutritional information plus a handy meal calculator online. So be sure to log on before you drive thru.

Now that you’re armed with all these Chick-fil-A facts, you can eat there till the cows come home!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

So Long, Soft Diet

Yesterday I went to the periodontist to have the last of my gum bandages removed (some had fallen out on their own) and for a check-up. This would signify the end of my soft diet.

The last time I was at his office I was quite loopy from the drugs so I felt a little embarrassed as I walked in yesterday. “Well, hello there, Elsa,” the receptionist said with a giggle. I vaguely remembered saying to her when I first got there two weeks ago, “I need to go the bathroom. Gimmee that toothbrush key!” (The key to their bathroom is on the end of a toothbrush). And then I think when I returned it I said, “Don’t worry. I didn’t brush my teeth with it,” but I may be imagining that.

Then the hygienist came out and greeted me in the same way. I barely remembered her. She said that during the first part of my surgery (which was really just a deep gum cleaning) I kept saying, “I don’t like that…I don’t like that.” As she told the story the receptionist AND insurance lady both laughed and said, “I remember her saying that!”

It’s sad that some minor gum surgery is rivaling my 21st birthday.

The most embarrassing thing was seeing the doctor. I remember when I was in the midst of the surgery, he and his assistant (what’s up, Luther?) were over my head, discussing Grey’s Anatomy. I soooo wanted to be in the conversation and I kept trying to comment. But since all this stuff was in my mouth and I was really out of it, all I could get out was, “MigDeemy!” Translated into English that’s “McDreamy!”

So the doctor would ask Luther, “So isn’t the main girl in love with her boss?”

And I would say, “MigDeemy!”

Then Luther explained how Meredith slept with George but she started crying. The doctor said, “Why did she do that?”

I sputtered, “Beguz see of MigDeemy!” (Translation: “Because she loves McDreamy!”)

“Quit talking, Elsa!” the doctor and Luther said simultaneously.

So seeing the doctor yesterday was a little weird but he didn’t comment on my McDreamy outbursts. And he gave me the green light to eat anything I want. I had started to adopt this policy in the last week anyway. I moved on to chewable soft foods about a week ago but stayed away from crunchy foods like Kashi and chips.

Now I’d like to briefly reflect on my soft diet and point out one highlight and one lowlight:

I invented this fantastic new smoothie: Blended bowl of Kashi
It’s everything you would put in your bowl of Kashi (milk, Kashi) plus a banana. Oh, and I throw in some flax seed as well. Whoever got us that smoothie maker as a wedding gift, we definitely gotten your money’s worth.

When Frank stole my cupcake.
I bought Frank these awesome cupcakes from Wal-Mart for his birthday but I couldn’t eat any. So when I started eating soft chewable foods I decided that one of those cupcakes would be my first splurge. I can’t tell you how excited I was to bite into this cupcake. It was chocolate with creamy pink icing on the top. Oh, and there were sprinkles. Sprinkles! My only regret was that it wasn’t bigger. I thought, “This cupcake will be gone soon so I better enjoy every bite.” So when Frank asked for a bite I was a little bummed. He’s always so nice about sharing with me that I caved. He bit into it and when he gave it back to me all that was left was this thumb-sized bite of the chocolate part. No icing! No sprinkles! I freaked out. “I can’t believe you ate my whole cupcake! I haven’t eaten in a week! I was so looking forward to that cupcake and its icing! You suck!” I think there may have even been tears. Lucky for him, we had more.

So let this be a lesson to you: If a girl has been on a soft diet for a week and finally gets to bite into something, don’t take it away from her! I’m pretty sure MigDeemy would never do that.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Now They're Dragging Grandpa Down

Last night, just as I was brushing my teeth I heard a sound come from the TV that gave me chills. Mind you, my back was turned. And no, it wasn’t the commercial for Lady in the Water by M. Night Shalamananana. (Although that’s pretty scary.) It was a young girl scolding her grandpa for something he was doing with a sandwich. I can’t remember exactly what she said but it was something like, “Grandpa, why do you make such a big deal about a sandwich?”

For some reason it felt ooky. It felt odd. It felt…like I was watching the Jif commercial where the dad says “plenty of room” to the little girl. I whipped my head around just in time to see a little girl and her grandpa laughing as the announcer said, “Choosy Moms (and Grandpas) choose Jif.”
Ah! Jif strikes again! I hate them. And not just because their commercials drive me batty, but because they’re such wimps. They obviously caved when some customers complained.

First, someone wrote in and said, “I’m a single dad and I have to choose a peanut butter too. What about me?” Their answer? “Plenty of Room:” the worst commercial ever made. Then, obviously, some grandpa wrote in (or maybe even drove up there) and said, “Hey, every time my granddaughter comes to visit I make her PB& J. There’s no mom to choose. There’s no dad to choose. I’m doing the choosin’! What about me?” Their solution? The latest commercial catastrophe.

Jif, I have news for you: Not EVERYONE is your target market. Moms are your target. Trust me. I’ve sat in dozens of meetings regarding the advertising of a very popular bread company. We did research. We did focus groups. We did segmentation studies. And it doesn’t matter that women are now busier than ever with careers and men are assuming some more household duties. We STILL make the primary grocery decisions.

I know why you’re freaking out and giving in to everyone who complains. You’re now owned by Smucker’s. And if people feel alienated by your PB, they’re not gonna buy your jelly either. But before you launch a campaign with the slogan “Choosy moms (and mom’s live-in boyfriend’s cousin) choose Jif,” let me just stop you. Sure, it’s nice to include everybody but sometimes you just need to stay focused. Forget the dads. Forget the grandpas. And definitely forget M. Night Shalamananana!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Hostess in Heaven

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Frank’s Aunt Marilyn is the sweetest person in the world. I would say she’s as sweet as apple pie but I won’t because a). that’s a total cliché and b). apple pie is fattening. It has a dark side. Aunt Marilyn doesn’t even have a dim side.

Example: We went to her house this weekend for an engagement party she and Uncle John were throwing for their daughter and her fiancé. There were about 50 people there and everybody was talking, eating, drinking…typical party stuff. Aunt Marilyn walked in the noisy room, looked around and announced, “This is heaven!” I asked, “Why do you say that?” She said, “All my kids are here, my grandson is here, the rest of my family is here, our friends are here…it doesn’t get any better than this.”

“But we’re trashing your house,” I said. “Look. Somebody just spilled a beer all over your couch. It got on the carpet!”

“Oh, it’s just a house,” she said sweetly.

“But we’re loud and messy and there are toys everywhere and you’re gonna have so much to clean up tomorrow,” I pressed, convinced I could crack her.

“I don’t mind at all,” she said, “Everybody’s here and I’m in heaven.”

See what I mean? I like entertaining as much as the next gal but I’m not sure I’d be so calm if beers were exploding in my living room. I could maybe fake it. But Aunt Marilyn’s not faking it. She’s always genuine. I know what you’re thinking, “But, Elsa, I’m sweet too!” No you’re not. When it comes down to it, you’re still a little bit selfish, aren’t you? I know I am. And even if you’re 90% sweet and 10% selfish, you’ve still got nothin’ on Aunt Marilyn.

We moved the party to the backyard for a little pool time: water volleyball, margaritas, even a piñata. The sun was shining and I really was having a great time, catching up with the cousins and family, watching the water volleyball game get more and more intense.

Then a dark cloud starting hovering overhead. We stayed in the backyard until the cloud burst and the rain came pouring down into our margaritas. Everybody crowded inside the house and it didn’t look like it was going to clear up anytime soon. I looked around for Aunt Marilyn, feeling bad that her party was ruined.

She walked up with a big smile on her face and said to me, “Well, it looks like it rains in heaven!”

Friday, July 07, 2006

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Even though I love Kate Hudson, I won’t be seeing that movie “You, Me and Dupree” when it comes out next Friday. Sure, Matt Dillon is a cutie and yes, Owen Wilson is hilarious. But the movie’s theme is one I loathe: the unwanted houseguest.

Now, Kristin Clark, if you’re reading this: this has nothing to do with you coming to visit today. We are excited about your visit. And anyone else who has come to visit (well, most of you)—we enjoy having you as well.

But the unwanted houseguest theme is as old as the Donna Reed Show. And I’m not just saying that to give you some perspective; I really did see it happen on the Donna Reed Show. And Ozzie and Harriet. And the Patty Duke Show. (I used to be really into Nick at Nite.)

And it’s almost always the husband’s old buddy who’s a little bit wild, a little bit rowdy and a lot disgusting. He’s usually played a Chris Farley-esque actor. The wife can’t stand him. Pretty soon the husband can’t stand him either and the friend usually overhears the two of them complaining about him:

Husband: “I know, honey. He bugs me just as much as he bugs you. Do you think I like how he eats breakfast in nothing but his underwear? But he’s my oldest friend…I can’t tell him to leave…”
Wife: “Well you’re gonna have to. It’s him or me! That disgusting piece of…(enter unwanted houseguest)…OH, LARRY, WE DIDN’T MEAN IT!!”
UHG: “That’s okay. I’ll just go sleep in my car…thanks for the pancakes.”

He’s visited the Brady Bunch, The Facts of Life, Family Ties, The Cosby Show. Even Seinfeld wasn’t too good for this tired plot. Remember when Jerry met that guy upstate and said, “If you’re ever in the city…” and the guy took him up on it? Then he ordered a hooker? Jerry felt like he couldn’t even hang out in his own house.

And that’s what I hate most about the unwanted houseguest. I hate that feeling that people can’t go on with their normal lives. Something really bugs me about the fact that they have to change their whole lifestyle to accommodate this person. And then the person inevitably stays longer and it’s just a whole mess. The other night Everybody Loves Raymond had an unwanted houseguest and Frank said, “Oh, unwanted houseguest. Gotta change the channel.”

He’s right. I can’t watch it. And I certainly can’t watch a whole movie about it. It’s disturbing. It’s creepy. It’s cooky. Which reminds me; I think the Addams Family had an unwanted houseguest once. Now that’s just my worst nightmare.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


I told you about how I like to eavesdrop on personal trainers, remember? Well, apparently one trainer noticed because now he insists on giving me unsolicited advice every time I see him at the gym. It’s getting out of control:

· I’m doing tricep exercises wrong.
· I’m doing lat pull-downs incorrectly.
· I’m a complete mess when it comes to abs
· And the best? I walk funny. (He offers imitations free of charge.)

I HATE it when he corrects me. I know, I know. I should WANT to do everything right but when someone tells you that you do everything wrong, you start to wonder if you could possibly be doing everything wrong or if he just likes to criticize. Or maybe he just likes to show off in front of his clients. Yes, he’s usually working with a client when he does this. Sometimes he even has them demonstrate the right way to do it for me. Oh, and this was the worst: He told one client to show me how to do it wrong and then how to do it right. After one attempt to do crunches as poorly as me she shrieked, “I just can’t do it wrong anymore!” And he laughed and said, “I know. It’s hard after you’ve learned how to do it right to do it wrong.” Ugh. Ugh. Triple Ugh.

Here’s my biggest problem: Even though I loathe seeing him, I always tell him I’m so appreciative of his help. Like I go way overboard on this. I’m like, “Thanks for taking the time to help me. I really appreciate it.” What? No I don’t. I hate it. I hate him. I hate that he’s so patronizing and most of all, I hate it that he reeks of smoke as he’s telling me how to get in shape.

So for a few weeks I avoided that gym location. I actually drove further to another location just so I didn’t have to see him! How pathetic is that?

On Saturday I braved my old location. I had a speech prepared: “Look, I don’t really feel like getting helped today. I just had this gum surgery and I’m trying to take it easy.”

I was doing this leg press machine when he came bouncing over. I gave myself a mini pep talk: “You can do it. Just tell him you don’t want to be helped. You don’t need his help. Remember how he imitated how you walked with your butt sticking out? You hate him. You hate him…”

He poked his spiked head around the machine and just as I started to say, “Look, the thing is,” He asked, “How many sets do you have left?” I was so caught off guard that I stammered, “Um, uh, I guess…two?” He said, “Great,” and walked off.

You know what that means? I’m doing something right! So today I’m bravely going back to that location. I wanted to do arm exercises with free weights but it’s too risky—too out in the open and too much room for error. So I’ll do them at home and then go do the trusty leg presses.

I mean, once you get so good at something it’s hard to do it wrong.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bouncin' Back

I once wrote an article on the greatness that is dryer sheets. But the pub wanted me to stick to one single use so we settled on “patting your clothes down with a dryer sheet after eating at a Mexican restaurant.” (Thanks, Tips from Thea.)

But while I was researching the article I found all these other uses for dryer sheets (usually relating to freshening up an otherwise unfavorable and/or musty smell): Stick them in your luggage, throw a few in your underwear drawer, slide them under your pillow case, etc.

Then, when I was cleaning our impossible-to-get-clean-unless-I-hire-a-maid-but-Frank-won’t-let-me shower the other day, I remembered something from that research: dryer sheets work better than sponges.

I just so happened to have a bunch of dryer sheets I’m trying to discard. I bought a private label brand at CostCo and they weren’t doing a great job at their primary role: preventing static electricity in clothing. And since I bought them at CostCo, I had about 675. I was throwing three at a time in the dryer, just trying to get rid of ‘em.

Back to the shower: I had tried BAM, bleach, a new sponge…this off-brand dryer sheet was my last hope. Did it work?

Absolutely! It was the best feeling to scrub and see my white shower appear before my bleach-burned eyes. I cleaned the whole bathroom in dryer sheets, much to Frank’s despair (“That’s like $3.50 worth of dryer sheets!”)

This morning I looked at my kitchen sink and recalled a conversation I had with Thea this weekend. She pointed at my permanently stained white sink and asked, “What’s going on here?” “It’s a permanent stain!” I answered, feeling a little defensive. “It’s always been there!”

But today as I looked at it I wondered if my miracle dryer sheets could do the trick. So with a little bit of bleach and two dryer sheets I achieved this:

Now, I don’t have a “before” picture but trust me, this is a lot whiter!

Oh, and now I’ve gotta go to CostCo. I’m officially out of dryer sheets.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Church Chat

It’s one of the oldest religious debates and Frank and I had it yesterday: what to wear to church. Growing up as an Episcopalian, we always dressed up for church. I wore some floral-printed Laura Ashley-esque frock most Sundays.

But in the Catholic Church it seems like anything goes. And that’s especially true at Sunday night mass. You see, it’s the “teen” mass which means guitars, 16-year-olds doing the readings and apparently clothes that you could wear to church and to the beach.

My own attire has gotten more casual as the months have gotten warmer. Yesterday I was wearing a jean skirt and I had this debate in my head before we left:

“A jean skirt to church? Really, Elsa?”
“People wear worse things than that. Last week I saw a girl wearing a jean skirt shorter than this. It was like Paris Hilton style. And the week before that I saw a girl wearing shorts and a tank top…”
“Well then surely my jean skirt is okay to wear. I mean, it is the teen mass after all. And look at Frank. He looks like he’s dressed to go to a 4th of July BBQ after this.”

So I wore the jean skirt and whaddya know? At sermon time the priest said, “It’s not a comfortable thing to talk about…”

“This is gonna be good,” I told Frank. “Something controversial.”

What would it be? Abortion? Gay marriage? Why there aren’t any lady priests?

“…the dress code at mass.”

Ah! I immediately pulled my skirt down to cover my legs more. He went on to say that we’ve just gotten too lax and we should dress up to come to God’s house.

I think he’s right. And I told him so after mass. I said, “You’re right about the dress code. I’m going to try to do better.” He laughed.

Frank couldn’t believe I said it. He does not agree that we should have to dress up for this particular mass. He says, “People should want to dress up for church. And if you force them, that just defeats the purpose. Plus, it’s really hot outside.”

We then had our religious debate: My main argument being that it’s respectful to dress up and it’s only one hour a week. Why can’t people do it? His main argument had something to do with dressing up for Jennifer Aniston. He lost me.

So anyway we had to agree to disagree. Although we don’t know what we’re gonna do about it when we have kids. But I’m pretty sure I have some Laura Ashley dresses they could have. Hey, they’ll be vintage!