Dirty Laundry



Our washing machine is on the fritz. It will be repaired – eventually – but for now we’ve got a big pile of dirty laundry. And it’s growing.


My great grandmother, Granny Vera, had an old-school washing machine. During most of the year, she’d operate it out on the back porch, where it resided. (On the coldest winter days, she’d roll it into the kitchen for that day’s laundry.) I seem to recall an extension cord dangling from the overhead, bare-bulbed light socket in the kitchen, snaked out to the porch for power. She’d run a garden hose from the nearest spigot over to the basin to fill it. There was no lid, so the machine’s back-and-forth would slosh water all over the rotting boards of the porch. The attached wringer was a hand-cranked model. Granny would have to maneuver the laundry from the tub up into the wringer rods, all while cranking that bad boy by hand.


I still remember the day my great grandfather – Big Papa – brought a brand new washing machine home for Granny Vera. She was so excited, she did a little dance. It was basically the same model as the old one, only the wringer was automatic as well. All Granny Vera had to do then was feed the laundry through. No more cranking. You wouldn’t have thought something so simple could be so important, but I swear, y’all – the woman shed grateful tears.


Looking back on those old days and remembering how hard Granny worked, I realize I can deal with my current pile of dirty laundry. No complaints here.

Golden Road Brewery – Los Angeles



This month’s meeting of Beer Clug was special. We went on a tour of L.A.’s Golden Road Brewery.



I swear, our little group was so geeked out and happy, you wouldn’t believe it. We were being tested on our knowledge (or lack thereof) of all things beer, and learning as we went along. It was a drinking nerd’s dream. For reals.



The facility is beautiful. The craft beer is top-notch. The employees…



My interaction with the employees began with a lovely gal named Laurel. She recommended options for our meeting and arranged for the tour. When our needs fell outside her scope, she referred me to another swell chick named Lauren. Lauren gave me a tour of a private meeting room and addressed all my questions. When it came down to it, the designated space was perfect for our members.



On the appointed day, we arrived to see a sign saying brewery tours were canceled, due to construction. But that wasn’t the case at all! Teri introduced herself to me and said she’d be leading us on a modified tour, and that we’d simply have to bypass some of the ongoing work areas. Perfect! Teri proved to be yet another fantastic Golden Road employee – knowledgeable, professional and personable.



After the tour, we settled into our beautiful meeting space. As I understood it, we’d be going out into the pub for our food and drink orders (which would have been grand – seriously). But a fab lad named Dante showed up and said he’d be taking care of us during our meeting. Dante did indeed take all our orders, and he did it with a smile.



When the meeting was finished, I was really impressed by the day’s outcome. I’ve been to Golden Road’s pub many times, and I’ve enjoyed each and every visit. To have this particular day’s Beer Clug meeting be treated as something special, well, it only made me love the place more.



I’ve got a Golden Road growler in my fridge right now. And I’ll be finishing it over the next couple of days. But no worries. I’ll be going back for more. Soon.


D-Squared T-Squared – Week 4



This past weekend, Mister and I began our Drunk Dial Think Tank Week 4 project: outdoor art.


I’ve wanted paintings to hang outside for yonks. I mean, why not decorate the outdoor walls with art? Aren’t we missing a golden opportunity to jazz up our exterior spaces?


Quite a while ago, I found some odd wooden pieces at a yard sale. They were junk, really, so I got a load of them for $10. The idea was to use them in outdoor painting projects. When week 4′s challenge rolled around, I pulled out one of the wooden pieces and Mister and I set to work.


Don’t hate me for not sharing the finished piece just yet. It isn’t finished, y’all, and therefore isn’t share-able. But it’s close! Mighty close, in fact. And I promise to snap a pic as soon as it’s gracing our outdoor living space.


In the meantime, I’m off to cut out a stencil for this project. Drunk Dial Think Tank lives!

National Appetizer Day



Today is National Appetizer Day, America! It’s also Super Bowl week. Put those two things together and suddenly I’m wanting some chicken wings!


If you’re thinking you might want some chicken wings today (or this weekend), here’s the link to my Sweet & Spicy Chicken Wings. Personally, I’ll be making these crazy good wings this Sunday.


As for National Appetizer Day, I could go for some wings right now! And no, it doesn’t matter what time of day you’re reading this. Any time is wing time!

We Are Josh-toberfest



This painting has a crazy story. It was a commission, requested by a buddy in Beer Clug. When he first asked about my taking it on, I turned him down. I said I don’t do portraits (because I don’t). I told him it wouldn’t look anything like him. I tried everything I could to deter his enthusiasm. Nothing worked. Finally, I said I’d give it a shot, but that he shouldn’t expect an actual resemblance. I figured regardless of the outcome, no harm, no foul.


He got the idea from the movie Beerfest. In the film, there’s a German Bierhaus. On the wall of the bierhaus is a portrait of one of the main characters’ ancestors. My buddy wanted this painting, but with himself as the subject. Simple enough request, as he flippin’ loves beer and Beerfest. I took a few reference photos of my buddy and set to work.


Interesting note: while painting this one, I started doing P90X. One of the workouts (“Plyometrics”) features Erik Stolhanske. The portrait in Beerfest is based on Erik’s face. So every time I did that particular workout, I would laugh about the painting. Small world, I suppose.


Anyhoo, by the time I finished, I realized it actually looks a lot like my buddy. (Whether or not he agrees is another matter.) And the naming of the portrait was easy. Mister and I like to mis-sing an Oktoberfest song with the wrong lyrics: “We are Josh-toberfest.”


Because my buddy is super-nice, I’ll probably never know his true feelings about the portrait. But I can honestly say I’m proud of it. I think it turned out just as dorky as can be, and it’s pretty cool to boot.



Baker Jen



I saw Baker Jen a few nights ago. She made a killer dinner of BBQ brisket. It about made me pass out, it was so good. Then she over-stuffed me at the end of the night with bo-licious banana bread. And let’s not even mention the beer. Stout, anyone?


Anyhoo… Baker Jen sent me home with some leftovers for Mister. That guy has been snarfing the brisket and banana bread like nobody’s bidness. As of last night, it’s all finally gone. Happily.


So to Baker Jen, super-duper thanks! You rule! Mister thanks you! I thank you! For reals! We salute you!

Tea & Philosophy



This bit of wisdom was waiting for me with my cuppa yesterday: “Use soft words and hard arguments.” ~ English Proverb


I’m the type of gal who looks for inspiration around every corner and beneath every stone. I am often rewarded with more than I bargained for. More than once I’ve found myself crying – gratefully – in response to some little grace provided by the Universe. Just when I needed it. The medium of the message varies – radio, books, magazines, conversation, fortune cookies, tea bags – which keeps life interesting. And surprising.


I’m not sure how yesterday’s tea message applies right now, but I’ve got it in the back of my brain – just in case.

Lost and Found – Rocky Horror



As Mister and I slowly unpack, we’re finding more and more goodies once thought to be lost. (We’re finding a lot of trash, too, but that hardly merits mentioning.)


One of our fab finds has been a playbill from 1985. We went to see Wendy O. Williams – as “Magenta” – in a St. Louis production of Rocky Horror Show. It was a huge success, running for over six months. For the youthful us, it was a fancy night out on the town. After the show, we went for a lobster dinner. I seem to recall a 2-for-1 coupon. We were kids after all. Anyhoo, it was my first time eating lobster, and I had no idea whatsoever how to go about tackling the beast. I looked to young Mister, hoping to mimic his actions. When he flicked a big piece of lobster meat across the restaurant, where it hit a wall adjacent to other diners and stuck, I knew he wasn’t the best role model. But we laughed like crazy and dug in anyway. Years later, living in Boston, we often reminisced about that first lobster dinner. Our Massachusetts tenure gave us confidence where shellfish is concerned.


After I found the playbill, I framed it. It’s part of our history. Part of our story. We still love lobster. We still love each other. And we still love sweet transvestites from Transexual, Transylvania.


Talk about a Time Warp…




This past weekend I did something that was, for me, totally new and different: I took a DIY class at Home Depot.


Now that Mister and I have (finally) put down roots and are responsible for the new pad, I want to be able to improve the joint. Being a hands-on kind of gal, I’d prefer to do some of the improving myself, versus hiring someone. I had heard a commercial somewhere along the line, touting Home Depot’s classes for DIYers. Naturally, I had to check it out.


The class I signed up for was centered around crown moulding. When I arrived at Home Depot, no one knew there was to be such a class. I had to show various personnel my confirmation email, verifying that location’s address and time. Finally someone said that yes, that class was on the schedule, only they’d forgotten. And as I was the only person reminding them of the event, I was to be the only student. Yippee! They went about setting up the necessary materials and they even brought me something to drink while I waited. And then it was time to begin.


Cruz was the instructor, and that guy was awesome. He had me working a mitre saw in every direction and I was putting together interior and exterior angles like nobody’s bid-ness. As the only student, I got to ask every single question that came to mind. After an hour and a half, I felt pretty good about what I’d learned. Cruz sent me on my way with printouts and moulding samples.


I’ve now signed up for 2 more classes at Home Depot. And did I mention – the classes are free? I’m super looking forward to the next one: how to replace a toilet. I know, I know – D-O-R-K. I’m okay with that. I mean, I may not be ready for contracting work, but I am becoming more handy. And I like it.

D-Squared T-Squared – Week 3



This week’s Drunk Dial Think Tank creation (explained here) was food. I love food! I mean – I really, really, really love food!


Anyhoo, Mister and I wanted to see if we could create his Grandma Sophie’s Polish sausage. She passed away years ago, but the recipe was preserved by her sister, Esther. Esther died last year. She lived to a ripe, old age and had a full life. Her cholesterol level was in the 400+ range, but a little Polish sausage here and there didn’t hurt (as that wasn’t what took her to the sweet beyond). It’s funny, the recipe we have still has her name and number on it. I may share the recipe at some point, but for now it’s still a private family thing.


As Santa brought me sausage attachments for my stand mixer – the very gifts I’d requested (thanks a butt-load, Santa!) – we had all the tools we needed.


So we gathered our ingredients. Because I’m a food dork, I knew to drive straight to a particular Italian deli for the hog casings. Once I had those in hand, the few other needed ingredients were a snap to assemble. I headed home and Mister and I started grinding the pig meat. It wasn’t a hard process or anything. In fact, soaking the casings took longer than any other step. And with 2 of us making the sausage, it was fairly easy. Once the links were made, we let them “cure” for 2 days before cooking.


Mister’s father’s family ate Polish sausage thusly: they boiled it for about a half hour, then they cut it in pieces and finished cooking it in the oven, and finally they served the cooked pieces with ketchup. Say what you will, but believe me when I tell you that their family tradition is a good one, y’all.


So this week’s creation was food. Good food. Food with history. As we were stuffing the sausage and making all kinds of dirty jokes (as well as a few “The Wall” references), it occurred to me that Mister’s Grandma Sophie and Auntie Esther probably got together back in the day, for their sausage-making sessions. Probably made the work a bit easier, being shared and all. I couldn’t help but think one or both of those good Catholic gals made their own dirty jokes somewhere along the line. I like to think so anyway.