Stealing Faith

humor for relationships, family & life

Give me Pitchy Shivers


Yep. It's official. I love a capella.

Yep. It’s official. I love a capella.

In addition to the random things that give me shivers I’m going to add solid a capella.

 

Every time I acknowledge my love of a capella music I feel like I should be wearing an appliqued sweater and getting my hair set once a week. After all, a capella is the sole province of the Sweet Adeline’s and Barbershop Quartets, right?

 

Apparently, wrong.

 

A few months ago I dragged my dear, sweet husband to go see Pitch Perfect. There was only one other couple in the theater and once the show was over we chatted with them. They were enjoying their retirement years by directing their local Sweet Adeline’s group and eating their dinner at 4:00 p.m. so they’d be all tucked into bed by 5:30 p.m.

 

This gave me the impression my adoration of this film for the vocal stylings (not entirely for the content, although there were some laugh out loud moments) cemented my place on the AARP list of distinction.

 

Tonight I went on a search for a new Pandora station based upon Straight No Chaser, the Pitch Perfect soundtrack, and a group called Pentatonix. I followed a random link on Facebook to Pentatonix and listening gave me goosebumps and made my brain soar!

 

When our college student child wrangler came over for the evening I tried to tell her how excited I was to be listening to this new station. I bashfully admitted to liking Pitch Perfect and she said:

 

“Oh! I LOVE Pitch Perfect! All my friends do, too! It’s kind of the cult classic for my generation, right along with Mean Girls!”

 

And my heart did a happy dance of joy while also dying inside a little. Because Mean Girls… well, that’s one of the movies I made my husband watch with me when we were first married and he was ever so accommodating and if he finds out Mean Girls and Pitch Perfect are lumped together as a cult classic for the generations… well… he may not be able to forgive me.

 

So I’ll just try to keep that little tidbit from him for now.

 

All this long story can be summed up in a few things.

 

A) If you want to fall in love with vocals, check this out: Royals – Pentatonix

 

B) If you want to get into the holiday spirit with some a capella you need to check out Straight No Chaser – 12 Days of Christmas

 

C) If you’d like to see the song that literally makes me coo in happiness, check out Just the Way You Are & Just A Dream (mashup)

10 Spot Ramble: Perfume


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photos71 / stock.xchng

I spent the day smelling like tomato soup.

 

And it wasn’t because I spilled that actual substance on my being.

 

Somehow or another, probably because of something really complicated like the law of aviation or thermodynamics, the little bottle of perfume has turned. What used to be a lovely concoction of citrus notes of lemon, along with basil, white rose, and white jasmine has become a personally overwhelming aroma of lunchtimes favorite congealed liquid meal, tomato soup!

 

This is a continuation of random odorific events in my life. Yesterday I rode a plane (all by myself!) and switched seats because my original parking spot was saturated with the sour smell of body odor.

 

I’m thinking the person in that seat before me was more nervous about flying than I! At least I don’t think I sweated so badly I left a funk embedded in the naugahyde seat coverings…

 

Regardless of that fellow travelers unfortunate aroma issues, the truth remains that after I got to the hotel (defying death once more in a hotel shuttle that appeared to be moments away from falling to pieces), slept hard, woke up, showered and then sprayed my first world scented luxury, I was stuck with an odor I did not expect.

 

Here’s the truth: I don’t like smelly like a soup, despite it’s undeniable comfort-food rating. Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup are a combination I remember vividly from my childhood. I just don’t embrace the soup. It’s a congealing food item and that scuzzy skin the soup develops is in the same gross-out classification system as spiderwebs, using words like “moist” and “probe,” and the sight of a rabbit wearing a Harvey costume.

 

It just doesn’t feel right.

 

I’m curious about what really happened to take my perfume to the dark side? I searched Amazon for a clue and found this disclaimer in the product description of my favorite scent:

“Recommended use: daytime.When applying any fragrance please consider that there are several factors which can affect the natural smell of your skin and, in turn, the way a scent smells on you.  For instance, your mood, stress level, age, body chemistry, diet, and current medications may all alter the scents you wear.  Similarly, factor such as dry or oily skin can even affect the amount of time a fragrance will last after being applied.”

 

OK. Seriously. Since when did a perfume need a legal abdication of responsibility for its stink??

 

This description helped me realize there’s a whole lot I don’t know about perfume, so it’s definitely time for a 10 Spot Ramble: Perfume Edition. Without further ado – your top 10 bits of fragrant trivia:

 

1. Perfume and Football go Hand in Hand. (And not just because of the copious amounts of perspiration on the field.) Perfume historians believe that they found evidence of the use of perfume 3,500 years ago when they saw a series of murals in Queen Hatshepsut’s temple in Thebes. These showed an Egyptian fleet sailing off to get myrrh and other exotic aromatics from the Land of Punt. I believe Punt is located to the south of Pass, approximately six miles northwest of Blitz.

 

2. It’s all about gods or poop. Your call. The word Perfume comes from Latin and means “through Smoke.” Incense was first and foremost used to waft prayers to the gods, but was also pleasing for the olfactory nerves and in addition it concealed bad smells from sewage drains.

 

3. It Might Make You Hungry. (Which validates the tomato soup aroma from today.) The earliest modern style of perfume was created in 1310 for Queen Elizabeth of Hungary. This fragrance, known as “Hungary Water” was a blend of rosemary, thyme, and verbena essence in brandy. Originally it was used as tonic water as well as a perfume, and physicians prescribed it to gargle with for all sorts of ailments!

 

4. Perfume Can Mimic Parenting. Perfumes can also contain animal ingredients, although nowadays many of these are created synthetically for ethical reasons. Some of these animal “fragrances” include honeycomb, civet, musk, castoreum, and ambergris (whale vomit!). Ambergris really is whale vomit!  It’s a waxy grey substance regurgitated by Sperm Whales which often washes up on beaches. Aged ambergris has a sweet, earthy scent, and has a wonderful mellowing and enhancing effect on other fragrances. Because vomit makes you mellow.

 

5. The Most Popular Fragrances can Also be Monikers for Your Gal. The two most commonly used flower essences in modern perfumery are Rose and Jasmine; which are staples in commercial perfumers’ palettes.

 

6. Is That You I Smell or A Decomposing Animal? Back in time when bathing was a rare luxury even the rich didn’t indulge in very often, perfumes were used to cover up unpleasant scents that came as a result of such questionable personal hygiene. Rich but rather smelly, European aristocracy relied on these expensive mixtures to help mask the “scents” produced by days and even months of not bathing.

 

7. You Are Your Own, Self-Created Scentsy. You don’t need to waste half of the bottle to ensure long lasting smell, one spritz on your chest and one in the back of your neck is all it takes for it to smell great all day long. These zones turn into “hotspots” in times when we’re scared or excited (due to the increased blood flow) and the scent that was subtle just moments ago, starts releasing faster.

 

8. Sensory Overload is Avoided with a Trinity. When you are testing new perfumes, don’t try more than three at once – your nose can’t differentiate the aromas. You’d better wait for a while till your nose is in a proper condition to evaluate accurate smells after applying on your skin.

 

9. Scented Gloves Started it All. Europe did not use perfume much until the sixteenth century when Catherin de Medici came from Italy to marry the future king. She wore gloves of perfumed leather and suddenly everybody wanted this because she was a trendsetter.

 

10. When Jewelry and Perfume Fell in Love. Van Cleef and Arpels are not bizarre examples of onomonatopoeias. In 1976 Van Cleef and Arpels introduced ‘First’ – a very appropriate name for the first perfume by jewelers.

 

Thanks for sticking around for the 10 Spot Ramble, my stinky friend. May all your days be joyful and missing tomato soup scent. Do you have any perfume facts to share?

 

 

8 Really Misleading Movie Titles


Bubbels / stock.xchng

Bubbels / stock.xchn

It was a hot date Saturday night and Mr. Casanova and I headed to dinner and a movie.

 

We don’t get out much, so the anticipation leading up to this event was huge. We picked out the movie, Gravity, about three weeks ago and looked forward to our dinner rendezvous on the other side of town.

 

We didn’t anticipate it’s Homecoming day for the local university. Our dinner location was packed. So was our second and third choice. We were all set to scrap the romantic plans and hit Taco Bell when we passed Cold Stone Creamery and decided ice cream for dinner sounded fabulous!

 

And then they didn’t have cherry pie filling and who wants to have cheesecake ice cream without cherry pie filling? That’s a travesty and it was not going to fly on Date Night.

 

We walked out of Cold Stone in dejection, wondering if we would be eating a movie theater pretzel for dinner, when we realized we were right near the Hot Wok. We’d never been to the Hot Wok before but it was on our list of new restaurants to visit and it’s called Hot Wok, which is a name I could chant under my breath repetitively just for fun.

 

Hot Wok was awesome! Loved the Hot Wok. Took the last bit of my cashew chicken in a to-go box and later discovered it was like having a styrofoam box of toots on my lap but that’s a different story.

 

Now. Gravity.

 

Gravity. Gravity. Gravity. It was not uplifting. It was the worst case scenarios of EVERYTHING, set in space. And it was a poor date night choice.

 

I told Lizard we are never going to another movie the critics like. I’d rather go to movies with horrible reviews but make me happy, like the Cutting Edge or Elf. I had absolutely thought Gravity would be a romantic comedy set in space, instead I was on a continual, apprehensive adrenaline rush watching people’s faces get hole punched by space station shrapnel.

 

Kind of a downer.

 

It reminded me of the time I became scarred for life when a friend invited me to go see Seven by telling me it was the new Brad Pitt movie that Disney had produced.

 

True Story.  Scarred.

 

The whole experience helped me notice there are some movies you should just know the whole story about before walking in to them blind, or you’re liable to walk out with a heaping portion of Regret you paid a solid $9 to experience. Also, sometimes movie titles are misleading. For example:

 

  • We Bought a Zoo. This is not a Madagascar version of a family film. The pictures that kid draws are eerie and the creepy crawlies still give me goose pimples.
  • Being John Malkovich. Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich! The redeeming feature of this movie is the 1/2 floor and that makes me happy, but the ending… you should prepare yourself that what you expect is not what you get unless you like… well… Malkovich.
  • Napoleon Dynamite. There is nothing French or explosive about this movie. It’s hilarious and to this day I make liger comments, but if I’d been looking for a piece of historical pyrotechnics I would have been sorely disappointed.
  • Cinderella Man. There were no chorusing birds or carousing mice. There wasn’t a fireplace to clean. It’s a boxing movie and it brought tears to my eyes and inspired me but, nope, no evil step mother and no prince to rescue them all in the end, they had to make their own rescue.
  • 12 Monkeys. Brad Pitt was on a creepy roll there for awhile with Seven, Fight Club, and 12 Monkeys. Suffice to say there were no bananas, no throwing poop, and no monkeys. Definitely not a Disney movie, either.
  • Grease. Did I miss something? It’s a classic – that’s whhhaaaaayyy more raunchy than I ever realized when I watched it as a young thing – but I didn’t notice a bit of pig lard. Or vegetable oil. Or any lubricating ointments. Ew… I said ointment. Sorry.
  • Salt. Not a cooking flick. This is no Julia and Julia where you can garner some nice tips for how to flavor your food. It’s a gritty movie of deception and multiple double-crossings and Angelia Jolie pulls off being a passable dude. Not a seasoning. Definitely.
  • Chariots of Fire. I stole this description because it’s so much better than what I would write: Sounds Like: The most awesome film Ray Harryhausen never animated, crammed to the toga-tops with belching hell-lizards, winged racing carts and blazing skirmishes with chillingly rheumatic armies of the undead. When In Fact: A handful of stringy, translucent blokes in thoroughly depressing short shorts splash through the grey shallows of a windswept Scottish beach, recreating a true story about 1920s men running fast and winning stuff. A bloody good one, mind. But still.

 

What are the movies you’ve seen that knocked you off guard like a sip of Sprite when you’re expecting water?

 

 

Hot Mess Tribble


ericaI’m friends with a lady who befriends Tribbles.

 

OK, I admit it. That’s an overstatement in the “I caught a fish this big,” kind of way… so let me start over.

 

There’s this picture floating around the World Wide Web these days:

 

Betty Chu's English Angoras

Betty Chu’s English Angoras

 

No, it’s not a picture of the result of cotton candy machine in gastrointestinal distress! But I wish it were. Cotton candy is my very favorite of all treats designed to make your body shut down in sugar shock and just looking at this rabbit makes my mouth water.

 

But it’s not to be. That is not cotton candy.

 

It’s false cotton candy advertising — kind of like those plastic grapes people use as centerpieces on their tables. They look so good! My mom had these and they were a constant temptation throughout my childhood. Sometimes I just couldn’t stand it and would gobble one of the plastic globes down.

 

It was always a disappointment.

 

Back to my story and the picture, I know the woman beaming next to that big ball of fuzz – her name is Betty! I know someone famous!

 

Well, maybe I don’t know her precisely, as I certainly don’t know her in the Biblical sense of the word and also wouldn’t be able to pick her out of a crowd unless she was carting her big ball ‘o rabbity fluff, but I’ve been in her general vicinity and I’ve said, “Hi.”

 

So it’s like we’re best friends.

 

Anyway, Betty raises some of the most beautiful English Angora rabbits in the country and I met her earlier this year when we traveled to national rabbit show. Each of these rabbits takes an amazing amount of care to keep the hair clean and unmatted, although they can be shorn like sheep and their fur used for spinning and other lovely yarn-ish items.

 

It’s definitely not a rabbit breed for me, as I like low maintenance. Half the time my kids walk around looking like they just stuck their finger in a light socket and earlier this week I found a bit of dried apple sauce acting as a fixing agent in Tres’ hair.

 

There’s no chance I’ll be able to keep up with the grooming needs of an animal sporting a hot mess ‘do like this, but I can still point out my near brush with fame and give a nod to all the Tribble fans out there.

 

You know you want one.

 

 

Unicorn Mancave


Where to start?

Where to start?

It’s not every day you discover a piece of trivia that startles you so thoroughly you make a strange barking like a Pier 39 sea lion to catch your breath.

 

But, lucky me, I have experienced such an event. The news that caused my mirth?

 

The national animal of Scotland is a unicorn.

 

I don’t know about you but my picture of Scotland as a country has been highly influenced by Mel Gibson in blue war paint and Diana Gabaldon in the Outlander book series. These are both solid bits of media that portray the Scottish people as tough, possibly smelly, and rather austere.

 

When I think of a unicorn I have visions of Despicable Me and want to squeal, “It’s so pink and fluffy I COULD DIE!!!!!”

 

I couldn’t help but share this sweet portrayal of sugar and spice and everything nice a unicorn is made of:

 

e5a7_canned_unicorn_meat_parts_diagram

 

Scottish warriors and unicorns are so opposite on another it’s hard to even imagine a kilt-wearing, horn sporting equine.

 

… or is it?
When this conversation appeared in my Facebook feed regarding the unicorn/Scottish national animal discord I cracked up:

 

“No one ever believes me when I tell them this: unicorns are manly. Also, I learned that Viking wore pink. 

That means that four-year-old girls are pretty masculine.

Just think about it: their rooms are covered with pink and unicorns. It’s a total mancave. Also, if you think about it, rainbows are pretty full of testosterone and what not. I mean, God made them after wiping out almost an entire humanity’s worth of bad guys…”

 

Now… isn’t your world just a bit brighter?!

 

Extra Large Portion


Grace like a Hershey's bar.

Grace like a Hershey’s bar.

Today a guy I don’t personally know posted this status update on Facebook:

 

“Grace doesn’t come in different sizes. You can’t give a small serving of grace. It either comes extra large or doesn’t come at all.” ~Carlos Whittaker

 

I follow Carlos, who is a pastor in California (I think), because a few months ago he wrote a blog post I adored. I enjoy following him but wasn’t expecting to be stopped cold in my tracks while scanning my newsfeed this morning… and his insight has had me thinking all day long.

 

Grace comes in extra large.

 

Let me say that again: Grace — the reprieve from the negative consequence  truly deserved — comes in extra large or not at all.

 

You see, as a perfectionist I don’t see grace in extra large. I feel I need to earn my way into a state of grace. If I’ve done a good job homeschooling today, I have the ability to look at the laundry pile and feel like it will be okay — eventually. If I’ve managed to get all the dishes done and a batch of bread baked then it’s acceptable that the bed is not made and the kids wore pajamas all day. If my husband has acted like a buffoon I can tell him I love him but leave an unspoken, “But if you do that again…” hanging over our conversation.

 

My grace hasn’t typically come in extra large. It’s come in little portions of sweetness, kind of like a Hershey’s bar. Hershey’s bars are scored so it’s easy to break into those little squares… but do you know a single person who eats only one square?! I don’t! I gobble a whole row in one sitting if I’m particularly controlled, and the bar is my preferred method of excess when I indulge. It’s just not good enough to have only one little square. You can’t even make a decent s’more with only one square!

 

I hadn’t realized until this morning that I’ve been dishing out my acceptance one square at a time. Sometimes my grace has been extended in a size small, occasionally a large. I can’t remember a time when I have relaxed my guard toward myself or others in a way that could truly be termed gluttonously, largely, extravagantly extra large.

 

And a smidgen of grace is no grace at all.

 

Grace extended with hesitancy or an unspoken, “Well, just this one time,” is no grace at all.

 

I feel like I’ve been hit across the face with this cold truth and will be chewing on this for quite a while as I try to change my natural reaction to something that is much, much more beautiful.

 

Thank you, Carlos Whittaker.  That’s all I have to say about that.

 

No Knead Artesan-Style Sourdough Bread


milspa / stock.xchng

milspa / stock.xchng

Suzy Homemaker over here.

 

I’ve been trying for a few years to get a recipe I can use to make sourdough bread without needing dental work after for the teeth I’ve broken on the crust. I’m not a fan of the snaggle-tooth look, although there are certain segments of the country whose residents can certainly rock the look. I’m just not one of them.

 

I love cooking with sourdough, thanks to my mother. She introduced it to me and at this point we only do waffles and pancakes with sourdough – but the bread. Oh, the bread! It has defied my desires… until now.

 

So my requirements for the recipe are that 1: it tastes good, 2: won’t break my teeth or cut my gums when trying to gnaw through the crust, and 3. is easy… very easy is best.

 

I’ve tried a ton of recipes and even gave up once or twice, but I’ve finally come across a winner! This is actually a combination of three different recipes I just got to feeling all frisky with the recipes last week and experimented. So far the finished products have been gobbled up within an hour of coming out of the oven. I’m calling that a success!

 

Here’s the recipe – I hope it works for you, too!

 

No Knead Artesan-Style Sourdough Bread

¼ c. sourdough starter
2 c. flour
1½ c. water
1½ t. salt

1. Combine starter, flour, water, salt in glass bowl and leave on counter for 16-17 hours. I’ve let it sit as few as 12 hours and not noticed a negative affect.
2. Place dough on well-flour surface and turn a few times. It’s not necessary to truly knead the dough, but get it a little less sticky in consistency.
3. Let the dough rise for 1½ hrs. in a greased bowl.
4. Turn out onto a buttered pizza stone and cook for 55 min. at 375°. (I sometimes spread melted butter on the top of the loaf so it will brown pretty.)
5. Cool on wire rack – and enjoy!

Makes 1 smallish loaf.

 

 

Bugle Call of the Wild


je1196 / stock.xchng

je1196 / stock.xchng

I have moved one step closer to being a real hunter. (Please, oh please, read that phrase again while imagining Pinocchio.)

 

I’m a real girl!

 

OK. The truth is I’m not really much of a hunter although I’m completely in favor of it if you eat what you kill. Personally, I have only killed a few rabbits and that doesn’t seem to be on the same grand landscape as taking down a 500-pound elk that could feasibly feed a family for close to a year, but I’m inching that direction after our weekend activity.

 

What has caused this character growth, you ask? I’ve been elk bugling.

 

Now you may (like me) be naive when it comes to what elk bugling as an activity looks like, so let me give you a run down of my own experience:

 

  1. Go on a ridiculously beautiful drive out into the woods.
  2. Eat popcorn and throw rocks down an abandoned well.
  3. Walk a toddler’s mile at dusk.
  4. Whistle and make high pitched grunting noises in hopes a randy elk will respond.
  5. Wait.
  6. Get told not to wander off in case an elk in rut wants to… you know… rut you.
  7. Walk a toddler’s mile back to the car.
  8. Drink hot cocoa.
  9. Be at peace with the world. (Or go through the five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance — over the fact that elk didn’t find you attractive and stop by to check you out. It’s all part of the experience.)

 

Real wildlife people described an elk bugle like this: “The typical bugle of the bull elk is a surprising, distinctive sound that begins deep and resonant, and becomes a high pitched squeal before ending in a succession of grunts.” You’ll notice that, contrary to what vocabulary words might lead you to believe, there are no small musical instruments involved in this bugling, nor are the monstrous elk likely to wake you up to a revelry in the morning.

 

I needed my friends to clarify that at the time they issued their invitation because I really couldn’t understand why they would want us to come play in a band with elk.

 

Like I said, I’m one step closer to being a real hunter now.

 

Now, real hunters go elk bugling for a variety of reasons. They may want to locate the elk for hunting purposes, have a fetish about massive bovines and mating season, or  think it’s cool to be close to nature and in the wild and stuff.

 

All I know is it was awesome and highly recommended. Maybe next time I’ll bring a trumpet.

 

 

 

How to Lose Weight


darrendean / stock.xchng

darrendean / stock.xchng

I just got back from a visit to the doctor for Dos and Bubby. Yes, those lovely check up appointments when you wait for a practical stranger to tell you if you’re doing an acceptable job keeping the children you’ve birthed, clothed, fed, and raised alive and well.

 

Our doctor told me they are both doing fine but in the 8% and 2% for weight, respectively. She gave me a hard look and said, “I remember your husband is rather tall and thin, too? This is probably normal for them. But you could feed them more cottage cheese, avacados, and – for you – even slather the butter on the fast food chicken nuggets.”

 

I nodded and told her that, yes, my husband weighed 95 lbs. as a freshman in high school and I didn’t top the century mark myself until my junior year. It was a banner moment for me as I felt I had to apologize for our genetics.

 

Then, when I was checking out the gal taking our co-pay was astounded to find out we have four kids and I birthed them all. She asked if I was a runner – I laughed, explained I find myself allergic to sweat, and admitted I just really like yoga pants and have made them my outfit of choice, despite the social inhibitions most feel when appearing in public in workout clothing.

 

These events have given me the courage to share my dirty secret with the world: I know how to lose weight. It’s really quite simple, a four-step process:

 

  1. Go back in time to become the genetic by-product of a chicken and giraffe. This will produce skinny knees and knobby elbows that give an illusion of thinness. Forget the goal of actual fitness – who says strength training is desirable?!
  2. Acquire a serious bout of influenza. After spending three weeks on my back in February eating only Gatorade and Saltine crackers, I lost all previously acquired baby weight. You, too, could drop massive amounts of weight if you’re truly committed to the illness process.
  3. Switch to a liquid diet. Coffee preferred. But water and Coca-Cola are acceptable substitutes. When in doubt if you’re feeling a hunger pain, just self-medicate with coffee. Lots of coffee. Did I mention coffee?
  4. Allow another human to nourish themselves using your nutrients. Breast-feeding. May not work for all people but I know nursing a baby burns of more calories while sitting on your bum than an hour on a treadmill.

 

If you can follow these simple instructions and change your wardrobe to yoga pants, I’m sure you’ll find any excess weight you’re sporting will melt right off of you like butter on an ear of roasted corn.

 

Yum.

 

 

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