Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bring Me Back Something French Part Three: Corn on the Cobh

Oh hai, patient and gentle readers. Yeah, I'll admit I've been awful about posting, but life gets in the way, y'all! Trapped in my house for renovations which I promise to write about once it's done and I can  get some perspective on it/ appreciate it (because right now, the hubs, the dog and I are all crazy grouchers right now).

But back to Europe. Cobh, Ireland to be specific. After our idiotic bus ride to Paris the day before, Matt and I opted out of the two hour bus ride into Cork, and instead went meandering through the extremely steep hills of this tiny town.
Is this the Eiffel Tower?

After touring the whole town in about 45 minutes, we grabbed some awesome Irish grub before getting our drink on.

Needs more gravy, OBVIOUSLY.
All Fish N Chips should be this good.
But honestly, this is everything you need to know about Irish food:
Brown is a flavor. A delicious, confusing flavor.
So with fully bellies we waddled towards the local pub, but not before stopping so I could literally stare down the barrel of a canon:
Item officially checked off the bucket list.
Which would have been the photo-translation of what would have happened if we walked into this crazed soccer fan members only bar...

Nope, nope, nope. Great name though.
We decided to go where all the locals go (and don't chase out tourists with bats and broken whiskey bottles, I mean what a waste of whiskey, right?). I present you with Kelly's Tavern.
Ahh Ireland, where it is completely normal to spend 5-6 hours drinking in a place that serves no food.

Hello, gorgeous.
Commence All-Day Drinking!

Don't judge me while I chug this Murphy's Stout.
After a few ales, the hubs got artsy on some coasters….

My lil artist.

Every beer needs a crazy face right? Because they have heads!! Get it? Where are you going?

The waitress did us the courtesy of not throwing them out right away but she did flip the majority over while shaking her head.

And just when our exchanged money pile was getting low, who should step in and declare me his soulmate and next bride to be (despite the fact that I'm married and my husband was right there with me)? 
Paddy O'Keefe. Actual Town Drunk. 
Confirmed by bartender, who has Paddy's daughter's cell 
programmed into the house phone.
Ah Paddy, wisest of all drunks. He bought us beers, ciders, and whiskey for hours, and refused to let us buy him anything.

He constantly exclaimed "I'm Langers!" which is slang for drunk, and offered me pieces of his late wife's jewelry which I did not take, because he was, as previously stated, langers. The sweetest thing about him was that since his wife died of cancer 8 years ago, he has worn her favorite pieces of jewelry every day, despite being called more blinged out than Liberace. He balanced the look out with denim from head to toe, naturally. 

Every sentence started with " Look, I know I'm an idiot…" and ended with  "…but I'm smarter than all these idiots here". He kept calling Matt my boyfriend, and when I corrected him each time, he would shush me and kiss me on the cheek. Several proposals followed. But the best advice he gave (several times), we actually had him write down on a scrap of paper and sign. It now adorns our fridge so we can see it everyday….
Sorry for the expletive on the blog, mom, but it's a quote! 
Did we end the day holding up a 70 year old man as he fell off his barstool? You bet, but at least we didn't have to go to this shop to get him a ride home!
Such a specific niche...

 So even though this stop was not one we had high expectations for, it ended up being one of the best experiences of the whole trip. I would go back in a heartbeat, and probably will go back because I doubt Paddy wants a wedding in the US….sorry Matt.

Later Readers!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Bring Me Back Somethin' French Part Two: "Is that the Eiffel Tower?"

Oh Hai, Paris!
Or more accurately, Oh Hai, Le Havre, where we actually docked. Described as a "quaint port town just outside of Paris" by Celebrity Cruise pamphlets written by EXTREME optimists. Le Havre is like a demilitarized zone and is 3 hours "just outside" of Paris. There were literally buildings left  in ruin from WWII, and sewage in the street.
Jeff the bunny says "Le Havre…What a hole". He is correct.
So we resisted the magnetic appeal of the port town and hopped the double decker bus to Paris. We were told enthusiastically that we were so lucky that our bus had a bathroom because the other buses didn't and would need to make stops, making the trip longer.

Our bus had it's own obstacles though, like the man that couldn't wait for his wife to fall asleep so he could get up and tell anyone his life story that was full of anecdotes that "totally justify (his) racism". Charming.  Or that because we had this 'miraculous' bathroom onboard the lower level smelled like, well, a french public bathroom. But my personal favorite was the 50something (a spring chicken by cruise standards) woman who, as we pulled out of the dock exit (still 3 hours from our destination, mind you), pointed out the window and asked her husband "Is that the eiffel tower?".
Knowing that no intelligence could come of this, I still HAD to look. What was she pointing at, you ask? First of all, readers, I totally see your brains straining to rationalize this woman's query…. "Maybe it was a replica" you say, "like the one in Vegas". Sorry, sympathetic readers, but you are wrong. Stupid American Syndrome coming down in 3….2…..1….. A CELL PHONE TOWER. She was pointing at a cell phone tower that was maybe 50 feet tall. 

When her husband scoffed at her and said "no, the Eiffel Tower  is really tall", she started defending herself saying "Well I know we are far away from Paris right now and things look smaller from a distance".  We spent the next 3 hours listening to her intermittently ask if something tall in the distance was the Eiffel Tower. Matt and were doubled over in pain from silent giggling.
Matt and I in our bus seats. Did I mention she was directly behind us???
The rest of the cruise if we saw anything tall we would race to ask each other "IS THAT THE EIFFEL TOWER?!?!?!?!?" Here are some examples of what may or may not be the Eiffel Tower….

Is that the Eiffel Tower?

How 'bout this?


This one HAS to be right?
Well because we are not idiot tourists we DID locate and photograph the real Eiffel Tower before getting caught in a spring shower (sounds romantic, but is really just wet and makes running in jeans super uncomfortable). Here is that:
THERE it is!

Arc de Triumph and a freak monsoon!

Running in jeans in the rain with no umbrella creates this face.

The day was really topped off when we went into Richart Chocolaterie, a famous and artistic Chocolate shop. While trying to buy chocolates, Matt knocked over an entire display. The shopkeep was none too pleased and kept saying "Monsieur, please, do not touch, I will fix…" as Matt cartoonishly touched every piece of chocolate trying to get them back in the box. We bought one box, and I will cherish the memory long after the the chocolate is gone from our fridge.
Scene of Matt's Clumsy Crime
 And, THAT, dear readers, was Paris.

Next is Cobh, where everything is still the Eiffel Tower, and I meet my next husband in a bar at 11 in the morning on a Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bring Me Back Somethin' French! Part One: Bus Ridin' to the Dock of the Bay

Oh hai guys! Did you think I left you? Well I did…for Europe.

The hubs and I jumped on a last minute deal for an 11 day cruise that hit England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Norway, and Denmark. Weee!

Naturally we made arrangements for Todders by dumping out a bag of food on the floor and covering a corner in newspaper  leaving him in the nurturing and capable hands of best friends. They renamed him "WiggleDums" and I am still working on getting him back to responding to "Todd". Thanks guys.
"My name is WiggleDums"… "No, it's Todd"…
"Are you sure?"…."Yes I'm sure"…..
"No, I'm fairly certain it's WiggleDums."….Sigh.
Soooo…Europe. We started in London and had to take a bus to the dock in Harwich which is about 2 hours. Chump change compare to the flight from Austin which was 10 hours. 
Not bad for weary travelers!

Matt promptly fell asleep, leaving me quality time to take in the scenery and overhear some AMAZING comments from fellow bus riders. In my delirium I wrote a few things down:

Things Matt Missed On The Bus Because He Was Schleepings

Cows pooping in fields.
Elderly lady naming plants she may have seen on the side of the road and saying "but maybe it's not that plant after all" EVERY TIME.
 A truck that said C. Butt on the side.
Old people getting all huffy about windmills as an energy source, and actually harumphing about it.
"Gregory delivery wine truck"- my thoughts on this: wow Greg is a nice guy to deliver wine on mass like that
Sign: "End of Motorway Regulations" - my thoughts: Woooo! Lawless Roads!
A Romanian couple arguing about how to pronounce the english phrase " Where can I smoke, dude?"…there are many inflections being rehearsed.
Two women wondering if the Holmesdale Tunnel is part of The Chunnel. It is not, dear ladies.
Sign: "Free Recovery, Awiat Rescue"- my thoughts: "We're saved" said all the drug addicts!

Then I too fell aschleep.

I have changed nothing from when I originally wrote this and at the time it was all hilarious. I had not slept for about 20 hours. We made it to the boat….
Sort of windy

Next up….Paris, where everything might be the Eiffel Tour. See you then, travel hungry readers!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Put A Pin In It

Hello, patient and reliable readers.  For the past month I have been delving into the world of acupuncture in order alleviate various health issues. Nothing serious, I just hate doctors and hospitals. I just want to be a calmer, thinner, more active person with no acne or allergies and no chemicals helping me do it…don't we all?

So off to the acupuncturist I went! What I have learned so far is every problem I have is ONE THING. I have no idea if the ONE THING has a medical name or not but it doesn't seem to matter because apparently there are tons of needle treatments that work on fixing it, and once it's normalized, I will be that calm, thin, active person who beams with inner light or whatever.

Okay, okay, I'm obviously not a "beamy" person. Nor do I strive to be. Most people find the beamers annoying without trying to be, and when I annoy people, I am trying. So I don't want to beam. I want to flicker. What? Nothing. Anywho…
Look at me flicker!

So when you picture me getting poked with needles all over, who do you see doing the poking? A small, ancient Japanese sensei who smells like burnt incense? A middle aged woman with kind eyes, a soft touch, and a peasant skirt? You're all wrong, close- minded and biased readers. My guy is a 38 year old Jewish Cowboy who smells like a gyro sandwich. He's married and has a toddler. He's actually pretty cute. Which makes it all the more awkward when he asked me about every bodily function I ever had in my whole life. He studied under blind Japanese monks who said things like "The abdomen lacks luster." What? How do they know what luster is? They're blind!

The treatments vary each time. One time he did my whole back with needles that were tipped with mugwort at the top, lit them on fire and then LEFT THE ROOM.  Yes, this is calming…said no one. I looked like a human sparkler, I assume ( because a lack of mirrors is important when you are half naked and covered in sharp things. This week he "bled my ears" with sounds fatal but is more like piercing the very top of your ear. It was unsettling because as he did the right and final ear he exclaimed "Oh!" and then excused himself. Clearly I was bleeding out and he was off on the hunt for a towel to sop up the evidence. Oh no wait he came back and I was fine, that's how that went. He informed me that the blood let from my ear was dark and old and smelled rotten. "Thanks?" was my only reply. What do you say to that, really?  "Gross." replies every reader. "Gross" is what you say. Thanks guys.

So after a month of treatment, and my head and body looking like this for a hour a week…..
Except, you know, more relaxed looking.
….. I am feeling better. Back pain? Gone. Energy? Up. Acne? Slightly better. Weight? Down. Other stuff? Not really any of your business, medically intrusive reader, but all signs point to gradual improvement. You are on to something, Hellraiser. Other than starring in terrible, not scary movies.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Ode to a Neighbor

This post is my first attempt at rhyming poetry since 9th grade english. My apologies…..I had to. I just had to. Enjoy readers!

Ode to a Neighbor

Cheers to my neighbor, so proud and so bold.
The man is a beacon, a sight to behold.

He guards the street bravely, fills criminals with dread.
Well, mostly he sends children to cower beneath the bed.

He fears not the cold, he is a true Spartan.
His stained tank top: his armor, his loud swim trunks: his Tartan.

With a scraggly beard, and long hair tucked in a hat,
His game face repels burglars, rapists, and one calico cat.

His strength is in the art of the multitask.
Spinning nun chucks while smoking, and in his pocket; a flask!

Sleep tight, gentle neighbors, you are safe and sound.
This vigilante; nay, this hero, will always be around.

So yeah, in short, I was walking Todd yesterday and one of my neighbors was in his front yard spinning nun chucks while smoking, wearing neon swim trunks, a dirty tank top, and a knit beanie in 50 degree weather. It was too awesome not to share.

I sadly did not get a photo because a) He could chase me down and beat me with nun chucks AND burn me with cigarettes, and b) I didn't have my phone on me :(

Monday, January 20, 2014

Curb (Appeal) Your Enthusiasm

In the 7 months we've owned this house, Matt and I have made a lot of changes to both inside and outside. The big projects like reclaimed wood wall, the deck, the horseshoe pits, the patio, paint in EVERY room, and all the small fixes like ceiling fans, a/c, plumbing, landscape clean up, and chimney repairs have all made strides toward making this house feels like "ours", but one thing kept us from really accepting it as our dream home. And that was this:
Hello, 1973.
( House actually built in 1986, shockingly.)
The pink and brown color scheme almost kept us from putting an offer on the house in the first place. It made the brick look old and dirty and beyond salvage. We even considered staining the brick, which after much research, we discovered that staining brick is one of the riskiest things you can do to it. For those who are wondering, it's because bricks are "baked" with the color and in order to change the color you have to sand off the "baked" exterior so the stain will soak in, making the brick forever porous and exposing your home to water issues (mold, rot, etc). Painting the brick is also a terrible plan because it flakes off every few years depending on the weather. I did paint the brick hearth on the living room fireplace, but interiors are a different matter. 

So we decided to paint the exterior and hoped that better colors and a power wash would be enough to revive the dull brick. We found out from the neighbors that the color choice was actually only 4 YEARS OLD. WHAAAAAT?!?!  Someone looked at a paint chart in 2010 and said "This is the future of exterior design." Yes, clearly pink and brown was the color combo of the modern age since the pantone of the year was…..
It makes ALL the sense, readers.
So for the colors we wanted to go with modern yet classic, something people won't ask "Why?" about in 4 years. We are putting a lot of bold design choices inside, so outside needs to appeal to a slightly broader audience. Grey with white trim, hard to go wrong.  "But Jamie", says concerned reader, "there are SOOOO many hues of grey, how do you pick the right one?" Here's how:

Pick a few hues to get samples of of, roughly $3 a pop, and then ACTUALLY PAINT THEM ON THE HOUSE. There is no other way to pick. Holding up tiny swatches to your giant house will not work. You will end up picking too dark or bold a color, or getting scared and picking something that washes out the whole building. We picked 3 hues, and a bright white trim, and went with the middle one in the picture; Sherwin-Williams Magnetic Grey.  Placement of the paint is key. Paint your sample colors next to trim and near something that is staying once the color has changed, like flower boxes, or brick, or a deck. 

So we picked a well reviewed crew who sealed me and the pup in the house with tape and plastic for 3 days in a row while they worked. Nothing like a stir crazy, naturally protective pup and the noise of 5 guys all around the house to drive a housewife to the breaking point. And then I had an interview for a non-profitworking with mentally ill clients. Perfect. I wonder if the glint of cabin fever made me more desirable as an employee or a case study? Anywho….paint. We were talking about paint.

The results!

Amazing the difference a little paint makes, huh? What do you think, readers?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

How to Start 2014….Do's and Don'ts

So 2014 Started….yesterday. But how could I tell you how to start the year when I had not yet started the year myself? So I did it for you, sheltered readers, and you're welcome. Using New Years Eves and Days from this year and the past few, I have developed a list of Do's and Don'ts.

1) Do: Ring in the the New Year with people you love. I am a lucky lucky lady to not only have a wonderful husband and puppy, but awesome friends that I cannot celebrate anything without. We were a small party (8) here in Texas, but I'd rather almost pee myself with merriment (emphasis on ALMOST!!!!) with those fools than freeze my butt off in Time Square with thousands of gropey, pukey strangers watching Miley Cyrus take a running leap at the ball as it drops.
2) Don't: Attempt to enjoy the fireworks going off  in the street while holding your puppy. He will pee on you. Last year, during our riveting celebration that consisted of Matt and I playing scrabble at home because we hadn't made any solid friends in Texas yet; Todd started freaking out at the fireworks display happening literally outside our door thanks to some neighborhood hooligans. I picked him up to comfort him, but then idiotically went to look out the door at the fireworks. Todd snuggled under my chin (apparently in shame), an suddenly I felt very warm and wet. First and only time he's ever done that. Happy New Year to me.

3) Do: Be safe and throw a party! If you can't follow the laws of man and non-idiocy by not drinking and driving, be a host! Matt and I follow this formula on most beverage-centric holidays: New Year's, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween….Secretary's Day….the usual. Hosting seems like a burden to most but I like having an excuse to make my house clean and festive and bake all day. Also, Matt is not a "dessert-guy" (I married him DESPITE this obviously major flaw), so I need a house full of people to eat the extras lest I become house-sized myself.

4) Don't: Attempt to clean up after a party while drunk/hungover. You will break glass. Every single time. Matt was guilty this year, having aggressively shoved a beer glass into the dish washer which already had a glass bowl in that spot. Oops. Bedtime for you, mister. This rule also applies to Cinco de Mayo, or more specifically Seis de Mayo seven years ago when I attempted to clean up the sorority house I lived in while horribly hungover and stepped right onto a broken Corona bottle in bare feet. And because I was hungover I didn't think about it as I pulled the bottle out of my foot, causing an arc of bloodspray which hit the kitchen walls and fridge in such a way that would make CSI and Law & Order envious. I lost several pints and limped for a month. Lesson learned, grossed out readers? Good. Moving on.

5) Watch great movies. It has become a tradition in our family to make the first movie of each year Jurassic Park. Why mess with success? I don't know a man that doesn't love watching people flee from a car crashing through a tree, or a woman who doesn't love a sprawled out shirtless Jeff Goldblum explaining Chaos Theory. Or anyone that doesn't love watching a T-Rex eat a lawyer on the john.

Thats, THAT'S Chaos Theory.

Sure, we go to the theaters for a new movie too, but that's a gamble. This year we went to see Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, which read on our tickets as Anchorman 2: The Leg. A fantastic start at Alamo Drafthouse, which for non-texans; is a theatre that serves food and drinks and has a full bar and great beers. Also they custom design the previews to enhance the movie been shown. So for this flick the previews were Will Ferrell Funny or Die sketches and clips of real newscasters glubbin' up on the job (Bill O'Reilly, anyone!?!) Here is my review:  Are you under 35? It was stupid funny. Go see it! Are you my parents reading my blog? It was stupid. Don't see it. I don't don't know who else reads this blog that don't fall into either of those categories, but they can probably figure out if they should see it for themselves.

6) Don't: Go to the DPS (DMV for non-Texans) to get your new license (FOR THE FIFTH TIME). They will tell you after half an hour of waiting that the email receipt of a renewed registration is insufficient, and it's your fault that the department of vehicle registration hasn't sent you the sticker within the 7-10 days they promise to because of the holidays, so now your registration is 2 days expired. Their suggestions? a) Don't drive until you get the sticker. b) If you need to drive, and get pulled over, try showing the "insufficient" email receipt and explain to the cop that the holidays delay the processing, and the cop should be "totally understanding". Right. Did I mention I have been to the DMV FIVE TIMES IN ONE YEAR?!!?!

IMMEDIATE UPDATE: "Registration Lady" says my registration is not expired until the END of January, and DPS should have issued me a license right then and there. WHAAAAAT. THEEEEEEE.   F&*%$@#^! I desire to hurt them. Or crawl in a small crevice and cry about it.

7) Do: Pump the Jams. Those songs that make you dance and sing in the car no matter your mood/ location/ who's in the car with you? Yeah, those. Play those. A lot. It's a new year. Be free, and awesome, and make the person pulled up next to you at the light smile.

I would say organize closets and pantries and stuff because I did that, but I'm not your mom so… what you want, unorganized reader!


P.S.- My actual resolution is to research how to become "world renowned" as well as "shrouded in mystery"; and then make a decision for my self based on which takes less effort.