Love me up with YOUR VOTES!!

Did you know that in addition to wowing you here with my personal exploits, I also run a salt free/low sodium recipe site coincidentally called The Daily Dish??  You didn’t?!  Well – SURPRISE!  This enchanting personal blog you’re reading is actually an outgrowth of that OTHER Daily Dish, a project I’ve been undertaking Oooh.. the past four years. For FREE. Mm-hmm.  Here’s my lastest recipe.

Somehow my salt free recipe site (That OTHER Daily Dish) manages to be the most well hidden treasure of the culinary world.  And frankly, I’m tired of it.  WELL. No more!  Last month I got an email from my friend Tracy, encouraging me to enter a grant contest being held by Mom Central Consulting.

Snazzy logo, huh?!  Ayuh.  Their website explains the premise behind the program:

The Mom Blogosphere is brimming with talented, smart, passionate and ambitious women. We feel so grateful and want to do our part in helping take Moms’ personal brands to the next level …whether graphic or technical help, a site redesign or self-publishing a book… we want to pitch in to provide the support.

SHA-ZAM!!!!!!  Okay, last time I checked I was a blogger AND A MOM.  Yehaw!  In a nutshell, the grant contest will award five bloggers $2000 each.  This money can be used to improve and promote each of the winning websites. In the case of The Daily Dish, I would FINALLY be able to upgrade the site, giving it the royal “spa treatment” it so deserves, as well as self-publishing a cookbook of (you guessed it) 365 original recipes.  A salt free Daily Dish! from The Daily Dish! 🙂

Yesterday The Daily Dish cleared the first of three hurdles towards winning a grant.  My application was accepted! The next hurdle? Open voting by the public.  THIS IS WHERE YOU ALL COME IN BIG TIME.  Open voting begins today, March 1st, and runs through April 15th. One vote per person per day, through the next month and a half.  That’s a lot of votes.  But I for one know you’re all up to the challenge.  To (poorly) paraphrase Walt Whitman:

YOU ARE LARGE.  YOU CONTAIN MULTITUDES. and you know people.

Please, if you value my website, if you love this blog or JUST WANT TO BE NICE! take a moment to click the link below. Your vote today, tomorrow, and everyday through April 15th will make me SO VERY HAPPY I CAN BARELY CONTAIN MYSELF JUST THINKING ABOUT IT!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!

OPEN VOTING BEGINS TODAY! and RUNS THROUGH APRIL 15TH
(one vote per person per day)

CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR THE DAILY DISH!

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!! SERIOUSLY!! I MEAN IT!!!!!

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

My 20-year high school reunion is coming up next month, and I’ve yet to RSVP.  In true blog fashion, I’ve decided to put the question to my readers.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?

BASICS: The reunion is being held over Thanksgiving weekend in Philadelphia.  About a quarter of my HS class has committed to going, and another quarter said “Maybe.”  I am one of them.  Tickets cost $50 – 70 each.

BACKGROUND: I no longer live in Philly, where the reunion is being held.  I presume Thanksgiving weekend was chosen to accommodate travelers who’d be returning to the area to visit family.  Unfortunately my family lives in Atlanta, and my husband and I had planned on celebrating Thanksgiving here in Maine. 

MY HUSBAND: Is supportive of the trip, but financially it would be a burden.  My parents are tied up for the weekend, so we wouldn’t have anyone to watch our kids (or pets) here in Portland.  The reunion would necessitate a hotel stay for two nights, boarding of our pets, as well as a babysitter for our daughters during the event.  It would also mean purchase of reunion tickets, gasoline, food for four, travel expenses.  In sum: NO SMALL CHUNK OF CHANGE.  Add the fact that it’s Thanksgiving Weekend, guaranteeing the roads will be packed.

BUT: A part of me really wants to go.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anyone from high school.  I had many close friendships and have reconnected with many friends via Facebook.  The reunion should be fun.  They’re having an open bar & food, music, a video montage and even swag bags.  A lot of people have already bought tickets, likely more will attend.  For the sheer pleasure (and curiosity) of seeing what people look like after 20 YEARS (!) part of me says YES!

MY DILEMMA: Attending the reunion is possible, but it’s a big unnecessary expense.  I also suffer from Meniere’s Disease, a condition often exacerbated by travel and stress.  Portland is 7 1/2 hours by car from Philadelphia; a do-able drive, but in traffic it will be longer.  Bottom line: ???

POSSIBLE SOLUTION:  Enjoy Thanksgiving here, then go to the reunion by myself. If I went alone, it would be a much smaller burden, involving less stress and expense – one ticket, one room, food for me, and my husband could stay home and take care of things.  But how much fun would that really be?  How many spouses attend reunions solo?  I’d hazard a guess at very few.  It’s not that I don’t feel comfortable or confident enough to go alone, it’s just.. not ideal. 

SO. SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? I don’t want to ditch my husband for my reunion, but I don’t want to miss it either.  Is it worth the hassle and expense of us going as a family?  Is it better to simply stay home??  Would I have a good time if I went by myself or would I just feel awkward?  Has anyone been in a similar situation?  What do you think?! Give me your 2 cents!

NOTE: My two friends above WILL be at the reunion!

The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser

Every single upright vacuum I’ve ever owned has SUCKED, and not in the way it should. No matter how many belts I’ve changed, how many clogs I’ve unplugged, how much FREAKING HAIR I’VE UNWOUND, each and every one of them has failed.

You buy a vacuum. It looks good. It works well for a (short) period of time. And then SOMETHING HAPPENS. I do not know what precisely this IT is. But afterward, it will vacuum no more. Sure, the machine will push the dirt around, pretending to vacuum, but we both know it’s not picking anything up. Eventually the burning smell grows too strong to stand and the no-suck sucker gets shoved to the curb.

My parents, and now my own family, have experienced the heartache of crappy vacuums too many times to recall. My folks have sent countless vacuums to the repair shop, to no avail. Two years ago, out of desperation, my husband & I decided to use a shop vac exclusively. On the plus side: it works.  Unfortunately, it’s also freight-train heavy, cumbersome in size and indiscriminate in suction.  The shop vac’s superpower doesn’t wane, but frankly MINE DOES. Which makes cleaning more than once every 2 weeks an impossibility unless I want to be crippled.

But we have a LOT of pets. And we have kids. All of which are dirty. Our dog Max, for instance, has some sort of “seasonal” allergy which lasts roughly 348 days of the year.  This “problem” (for lack of a better word) leaves him an itchy, flaky, balding, stinking mess and our floors looking like a Head & Shoulders/Rogaine user’s most soul-shuddering nightmare. As you can imagine, Max is going through a particularly bad patch right now, leading to my thinking about this cleaning dilemma a lot.  If our vacuum weighed less than 75 pounds and was smaller than a kitchen table, I could use it more frequently.

So yesterday I went to BJs and I picked myself up a vacuum.

HOLY CRAP!!  I thought when I saw it.  THIS is IT.  I barely read the rest of the box; PET HAIR ERASER was enough for me. I looked at the price. Not cheap at $139.99 – but way cheaper than the $500 FREAKING DOLLAR DYSON right beside it. I wasn’t terribly optimistic, knowing how many times I’ve been had by other vacuums. But anything was better than hauling that shop vac up & down the stairs one more time.

My husband put it together last night, and had it working in minutes. I vacuumed one room and watched with pleasure as the canister filled with gray filth. I pushed that beautiful vacuum up and down our floors, gazing as it gobbled detritus like dessert, hairballs spiraling like a cyclone. OH! Pet Hair Eraser, where have you been all my life??

As I vacuumed, my heart filled with joy.  B/c my floors were clean. I could walk across them w/out leaving footprints.  The soles of my shoes were not plastered with hair.  I was FREE.

I vacuumed the whole first floor last night.  NO back-breaking labor.  No hunching over – dragging the damn shop vac throughout the house.  Today I brought my new Pet Hair Eraser upstairs and vacuumed the 2nd and 3rd floors.. WITHOUT BEING ASKED!!!!!  My husband – God Bless him – I know he did not marry me for my cleaning skills.  But he is gonna be LOVING ME MORE THAN EVER!  NOW That our home has been liberated from dander.

THANK YOU Bissell Pet Hair Eraser with Dual Cyclonic Action and extra long cord!!

Thank you for making me so very HAPPY!

Ladies & Gentlemen, may I introduce the greatest pet-hair-sucking-up machine ever: The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser.  Long May It Live. (PS: Click that link. The TV commercial for this thing is seriously funny.)

A washer, a dryer, & a couple of cats.

Good morning all.  Today I need to get some things off my chest.  I know that life seems pretty peaches & cream here at the West Philly palatial estate, but let me tell you.  LIFE IS HARD.  At least when you like to complain.

Back in August we adopted two kittens. These kittens, Ziggy and Pepper, have now entered advanced *FRISKY* stage. So they spend most of each day shredding our leather furniture, hanging from the woodwork, killing countless potted plants and STALKING.  Just look at these photos.

Until recently, these reenactments of WILD KINGDOM had been tame.  But the altercations between Kiwi and the kittens have grown in intensity.  Yesterday I found my ox-pecking appendage of a bird cornered beneath a table on the back porch, the kittens primed for the kill.  Kiwi is so damn feisty and DUMB she actually FLEW DOWN TO THE FLOOR to have it out w/ them.  The bird is ornery.  She is jealous.  She REEAALLLLLLLLLY wants to kick their ass.  But if she doesn’t wise up soon, she’s gonna be 2 bites of meat for one of these cats.

We have tried a dozen different tactics.  Locking Kiwi in her cage – which she HATES.  Locking her in a room.  Which she HATES.  Locking the kittens in a room.  WHICH THEY HATE.  Letting them all range free – which they ALL LOVE but will lead to one or more deaths and/or maimings.  I have to face facts.  If we keep these cats, I will lose my bird.  and it will be ugly.

SO. Several months ago I posted about our dishwasher dying. WELL. Seems all our appliances have a 7-year life cycle, b/c wouldn’t you know? As of 3 weeks ago, our dryer’s done gone dead.  It was working fine – then BLAMMO.  Nada.  The thing just won’t turn on.  John has concluded the motor’s burned out.  And now, 3 wks later, the washer has joined it in solidarity. We’ve all heard of couples, when one partner dies, the other loses all will to live.  Apparently my washer-dryer were a match made in heaven.  No matter how hard I beg/plead/sweet talk to this machine, I trudge down to the basement umpteen times a day to find a tub full of water and half-washed clothes.  I fill the machine, run the sucker, and once it’s “done,” I check it.  Inevitably, the washer has somehow mysteriously completed the cycle w/out emptying.  HOW DOES IT DO THIS??  Go through spin w/out any spinning.  Or draining.  Or ANYTHING.

I know I am a throw-back to the 50s housewives of yore, But I love doing laundry.  LOVE IT. It is the ONE HOUSEHOLD CHORE (besides cooking) I enjoy.  I love the smell of fresh laundry.  The feel of it.  The sense of satisfaction only 5 baskets of neatly-folded clothing can bring.  And I love my laundry room.  Even though it’s down in the filthy basement where most people hate to go, it’s my home away from home – in my home.  I’ve hung the peeling walls w/ pictures drawn by my children.  Scenes of the African plain, animals, signs reading “I LovE you MoMMy, YOUR the BEST!”  It doesn’t get any better than that.  Rather than resent my family while I labor at their behest, I think fondly of them all.  My laundry room.  My happy place.  UNTIL NOW.  Now that both machines have broken.  BREAKING MY REVERIE.  Leaving me neither high, nor dry.

No good deed goes unpunished.

My mom used to say this frequently when I was growing up, and I truly believe she’s right. Today’s rant is a case in point.

I have been feeding a whole entourage of stray cats since we moved into our palatial West Philly estate, going on 8 years now. Yes, I am a Crazy Cat Lady. Every neighborhood has one. We come out of our houses each morning bedecked in mis-matched pajamas and scraggly hair, bearing cat food cans and plates, calling “Heeeeerreee, kittttty, kitttty, kitttty.”

When we first moved in, these cats almost immediately began showing up. I often jest that there’s a huge neon light – visible only to animals – above our house blinking *WE FEED.* The equivalent of the depression-era signs hobos used to leave on walls or fences marking the residence of a soft-hearted woman.

7 years ago, we took on three of these strays as full-timers, opening not only our pantry but our home to them as well. We got them neutered, we took on their medical expenses, the whole shabang. We all lived in harmony for a period of time, until these cats began spraying throughout our house and got kicked to the curb. We have – mostly out of stupidity – attempted to take one or more of these cats back into our home over the years. Initially with success, but always, always ending in failure b/c of the spraying. Once a marker. always a marker. So our three cats are all well-fed, but now live outside year-round, lest my husband kill them. There is no scent quite so pungent as cat urine.

Over the years, I’ve taken on stragglers when they show up. A sweet orange-and-white tabby with a pronounced walleye, a polydactyl black & white with a perpetually startled look. These new guys show up irregularly for morning meals, but often feed at the dry food bowl on our porch. All very routine.

The past 2 weeks have brought a new wave of cats to my doorstep. Several of them have homes, as evidenced by their sleek fur and collars, but two of them appear to be true strays. I don’t know where these new guys came from, but they seem to be looking to stay for the long haul. I am never averse to feeding the hungry – people or animals – and so I’ve welcomed these new cats at the trough.

Unfortunately, as luck would have it, these new guys are GUYS. And, as most male strays, they like to mark their turf. And since they have decided our front porch is now THEIRS, they have been spraying with abandon. My younger daughter left her cute Ikea blankey on the porch overnight. Yep, PEE CITY the next day. Bagged & Tossed. Now they have a real thing for our doormat. This morning, I picked up the paper and noticed it was glistening with morning dew. Ah, even in the city, one small taste of country living. Until I discovered it wasn’t morning dew, but _GAG_ CAT SPRAY. UGGGGH. Thankfully it was bagged, so almost none got on the actual newspaper. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for my hand. Which, after several vigorous washings, STILL SMELLS.

So w/in the past two weeks our front porch has become the local cat urinal. Several days ago I began feeding the cats in the back yard, where they can do less harm. Today I am removing the cat dishes and placing them back there as well. I have hesitated doing this b/c – in addition to the cats – we also have several large opossums who like nothing better than cat food, and leaving the dishes out back will simply encourage them to dine. But drastic times call for drastic measures.

My husband says we should blast them from the block with the garden hose. My heart says otherwise. What else can we do?? If anyone has any experience with this, I am VERY open to suggestions.