March 29, 2010

Today's Top Ten: Things that Help

1. A good, strong cup of coffee
2. NPR. Whether it's news, crazy music, an old man reading a chapter of book, whatever, it soothes my soul. I think all NPR announcers have to go through a training class to learn how to speak similarly. You know, kind of nasally, almost deadpan, very matter of fact, yet still, somehow completely calming.
3. Hearing Mark - or anyone - say I'm sorry. It's not his fault; it's no ones fault. But it helps to hear that people are trying to put themselves in your shoes and feel the emotions, the sadness, and say they're sorry because they can't imagine how it really feels.
4. Doing normal things. But sometimes the most normal things are hard to do.
5. Hearing a really encouraging bible verse. It just hits the spot.
6. Thinking about Jesus as a human being. Something I was thanking God for the other day was that Jesus experienced pretty much the gamut of emotions while he was here on earth. He was sad. I'm sad a lot. He was extremely joyful. I picture Jesus being really happy about something, jumping up in the air and doing one of those sideways, leprechaun-like kicks; this makes me smile. My life is about 90% joy. Jesus got mad. He flipped tables over. I get mad and scream into a pillow. He was confused. He wanted to make sure his fate really had to be dying for the sins of the world. A lot of things - serious and superfluous things - confuse my feeble mind. The point is - He's been there. He knows. And that's so comforting. 
7. Remembering, by the second, that God's reasoning is not human reasoning; it's perfect reasoning. I ask 'why' and He says, 'because'. Hard to hear, yes, but He's got a plan, I know.
8. Helping. Doing whatever I possibly can to help.
9. Crying. Did God create the act of crying to help us cope with things of this world? I think so.
10. Knowing that I, we, have friends who will love us, support us, encourage us, pray for us - NO. MATTER. WHAT.

It's a sad day 'round these parts, but I and my family thank you for all your prayers, thoughts, encouragment.  

March 25, 2010

Thoughtful Thursdays: Regarding the Wee One

I found out I was going to be an aunt on February 12 of this year. It was a pretty special Friday around these parts because it was snowing quite heavily (a rare, RARE occurrence), I got to go home from work early, my brother and sister-in-law were in town, and Valentine's Day was just a few short days away.

Finding out I was going to be an aunt was one of the greatest surprises of my life. It was so unexpected and exciting. What's even sweeter is that the baby boy is expected to arrive on my grandmother's (and this one too) birthday!

Babies are pretty familiar to me. When I was 10 years old, my mom told me and my older brother that she was going to have a baby. Pretty crazy and totally unexpected; but exciting nonetheless. My mom told us this news on Christmas Eve 1992 and William Alexander (Alex) was born on March 4, 1993. (She could have been a bit more courteous and given me a little more time to prepare myself for giving up the "baby" status I enjoyed for ten long years. Having to relinquish this status was life changing, trust me.)

Then, just a short year later, we learned that my mom was again pregnant. Seriously, the thought of my parents making babies at this point in all of our lives is a bit disgusting, but I guess my dad's little swimmers hadn't lost any of their potential. (Too far?) So on May 6, 1994, Alex was just a 1 year and 2 months old, I at the tender age of 11, and my older brother at the extremely pubescent (I score a point for using this word, right?) age of 14, Victoria Marie, who my mother immediately assigned the moniker of "Molly" to, was born. Wait. Wait a sec. Victoria Marie? Molly? Victori...Moll??? Wait, what??? Ok, side note, I believe my mom had early onset craziness because she swears that Molly is a nickname for Marie. What.The.Fuck? Yes, that nonsense deserves an eff bomb.

Ok, that was all a side note to get here: I delivered Molly.

My dad came in my room at 5:00 a.m. that morning to tell me that mom had just had her first contraction and that he was going to run down to Piggly Wiggly (more affectionately known as 'the Pig') to get Alex some apple juice because he knew that we would probably be in the hospital with mom in labor all day and my grandmother was coming to keep him and we were all out of apple juice. (Sorry for all those tiny details, but they have a point, I promise.) So my dad leaves and I get up to go watch my mom in pain. (Sordid, I know. Don't' judge.)

The time element is important here, people, so I'll mention again that it was 5:00 a.m. when my dad came in my room. After watching my mom writhe in pain for a few minutes, I decided that I probably needed to be of some kind of assistance, so I followed my mom's directions and got some hot water. (Just kidding. Why do they always ask for that in the movies?) I got some towels and laid them down on the bed (because icky stuff was coming out. Sorry. Hope you're not eating whilst reading this.) At 5:11 Molly was crowning (i.e. her head was poking out of my mom's...well, you know where babies come from. If not, call me; I'll tell you), my mom was screaming, and Brad was calling 911. Dad? Still at the Pig. Me? Cool, calm, and collected, and a bit grossed out.

At 5:25, Molly's last little toe was out. I witnessed the entire thing; stood there, guiding her tiny little body safely into this world; bravely holding my mom's hand when she pushed. The paramedics and my dad walked in together, just in time to cut the umbilical cord. Alex slept through the whole thing and Brad stayed out of the way, not willing to witness his mother's girly parts and the subsequent excretions. (EWWW!!!)

The newspaper wrote a front page, Sunday paper story on my family. And I felt famous. But what was more important is that I had a new baby brother AND sister. At that point, I wasn't quite sure how - and that - those two little kids would change my life. But they did - in a huge way. Looking back, I have no idea how I lived without them for those ten, eleven years. We are all each other's rocks; the four of us just make sense together. Those Baker kids.

And then Sally joined the pack when she married Brad and we became five. She had to learn us; but it didn't take her too long, or us. She fit in nicely.

And soon we will be six. Little Baby Baker will arrive and our pack, us Baker kids, will welcome him effortlessly. And he'll learn "us" and we'll shape him. And thank goodness, he'll never have to know what life is like without a fellow Baker kid, thank goodness.

We're a pack; and we stick together.

(Maybe I should have given up parenthesis for lent. Agreed?)

March 18, 2010

Thoughtful Thursdays: Regarding Roommates

I was thinking the other day just how much my life has changed since 2001 - the year I graduated high school and began college. Soon after starting college, I kind of went potluck and moved into a house with two girls who I didn't know very well. We paid $100 a month in rent and didn't have cable or central air conditioning, but damn if we didn't have the time of our lives. We had free reign from our landlord to do whatever we wanted to the house.

So naturally, we painted the kitchen electric blue, tiled the kitchen counter tops with free scrap tile from the tile store, and I papermached the dining room chandelier. I stenciled the wall in my bedroom and we built a hammock on the front screened in porch so big that we had to leave it there when we moved out because we'd have to either a) demolish the 20 foot hammock with a handsaw, or b) do some major front porch renovation.

The same group of boys would come roll our house every single Saturday night (I'm not even kidding) and we'd get yelled at by the church attendees across the street every single Sunday morning. It was a riot and all we could do was apologize and clean up the dang toilet paper. (I mean EVERY SINGLE SATURDAY NIGHT.)

We shot squirrels in the attic with a bb gun.
We shared countless cups of coffee while "studying" at the downtown coffee shop.
We watched the same movies over and over and over and over and over again. And never tired of them.
We met each other's families.
We took care of each other's nose bleeds.
We had long talks, sipping hot tea, sitting on the kitchen floor.
We straightened (and consequently fried) the hair of the one who had some pretty luscious curls, pre-straightening.
We got mad at each other about the 2 week old disgusting dishes in the sink.
We danced in the kitchen into the early morning hours.
We threw '80's parties and charged cover.
We paid for 3 round trip plane tickets to New York City from said '80's party cover charges.
We got snowed in while in NYC and had to stay an extra 2 days.
We learned a whole whole lot from each other.

I've gone through 8, count 'em, 8! roommates since those days in the hundred dollar house with the squirrels in the attic and electric blue walls. I adapt to each one and they adapt to me, I guess. Each one leaving a bit of themselves with me and I with them. But I don't know, there was just something about that house, those girls who still have a big piece of my heart. No one else has compared, really.

Bethany and Adrianne made lasting impressions on me; ones that I will not easily forget. We've each gone our separate ways now: Bethany, well, all over the place, Adrianne married with two children in the Park District. But I know for each of us those years on 23rd Avenue in the hundred dollar house will live on for quite some time.

March 15, 2010


I hate the word fritter. I don't remember if I was ever served fritters growing up, but it reminds me of a dish my dad's mother would have served me. Something that she would have, indubitably, deep fried in a cast iron skillet on an olive green stove, with a Newport sticking out of her mouth. A glamorous lady, my Granny was.

Is it just me, or is the word fritter not appetizing? I know. Fritter. And ok, get ready; put the word ricotta in front of fritter and it becomes even less appetizing, right? I'll work on coming up with a new name for this, BUT YOU HAVE GOT TO TRY THIS!

I made them the other night with Rachel for dessert and they were fantastic.

First, heat about 32 ounces of oil (vegatable, sunflower, peanut) - the frying pan needs to be about 2/3 full - on medium to medium-low heat for about 20-25 minutes. Heating the oil slowly will keep the fritters (UGH! Hate that word!) from cooking too fast and burning.

Next, mix 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon lemon zest. Whisk that well. In a seperate bowl, mix 1 cup whole milk ricotta, 2 eggs, 1 Tablespoons sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract well. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and whisk well.

Once you've got it mixed well, drop by tablespoons into the hot oil.

Turn them over once or twice while in the oil. Let cook for 2–3 minutes depending on your preference of done-ness. Place them on a plate with a paper towel to drain off the extra oil.

Let them cool a little bit and sprinkle them with confectioners sugar.

Serve while they're still warm with a scoop of vanilla icecream and get ready for goodness in your mouth. I'm not kidding, the ricotta mixed with the lemon is so smooth, so fresh tasting. It doesn't taste heavy at all. They're so light and fluffy and DELICIOUS!! (Only one thing - make them kind of small. I used an icecream scoop instead of a Tablespoon and some of them weren't quite done in the middle.)

Next, enjoy some wine and American Idol and veg out on the couch!

March 11, 2010

Thoughtful Thursdays: Regarding Love

A friend was talking to me the other day about love.

I kind of tuned her out, as I tend to do when anyone is talking to me. (Maybe I need to look into getting a prescription for this little narcissistic problem I have.) I began thinking of my relationship with Mark. We've been together over 4 years now. We're still figuring each other out. What he likes; what I like that he does for me; what I hate that he does that he really likes doing that I'll have to learn to like because he won't stop doing it; and vice versa. That kind of thing, you know?

He knows me pretty well; I'd say as well as the BFF and she's been around for 20+ years. He knows the pretty bleak things about me, my family - all those experiences you wish you could pack away in a box labeled "SUCKY" and toss in that dark corner of your attic, never to be thought of again, but that somehow always ALWAYS effect the way you deal with current situations, hardships and experiences. Yeah. He knows all about those. And he actually stuck around through some of the worst ones.

My listening abilities miraculously returned to this conversation I was having in time to hear my friend say this, "I don't want to just love him. I want to love him no matter what."

I'm there. I'm to that place in my love for Mark. And I know he is too.

So comforting.

March 9, 2010

Today's Top Ten - On Working

I've compiled a list - as I am prone to do - of all the things you can do at work besides actually doing work. And yes, I frequently do these things; I'm not just making them up.

1. Facebook. It has the potential to consume entire days of your life.
2. Add movies to your Netflix queue. Also a potentially never ending activity.
3. Read blogs. Seriously. There are millions of them out there. I've mentioned it before, but my favorites are,,,,, and the ever popular and never disappointing, (or if you're a cat lover, I just took a break from writing this post to spend 30 minutes looking at hilariously captioned pictures of dogs.
4. Tweet. Or just shamelessly stalk celebrities on Twitter; that's what I do. Here's my twitter page, follow me! Among those celebs I shamelessly stalk? Conan O'Brien, Hanson (shut it), Ashton Kutcher (because even your own mother probably follows him), John Mayer (because he says some crazy shit), and Kevin Nealon (also says some hilarious crazy shit).
5. Think about all the things you could be doing right now at home and around town and make a corresponding list. That you'll never complete. But just do it anyway to pass the time.
6. Crosswords. They make you smarter.
7. Draw. Sketch. Doodle. And then color these drawings, sketches, and doodles with your highlighters.
8. If you're the literary type, start a blog!
9. Desk exercise. Ummm...I'm just kidding. Who actually does this?
10. Find a buddy to email back and forth all day. It gives you something to look forward. I know I get excited when that little chime goes off signaling I have a new email. And I'm always super excited when that email is from my buddy, Rachel! (Shout out! Hey-OH!)

I would like it to be known, though, that I don't do these things in lieu of doing my actual work. I AM a hard worker, geeesh!

Also, a helpful hint - learn ALT > TAB. It'll save your life. 

March 8, 2010

Less Sips, More Strokes

Last month the BFF and I attended an event called "Sips and Strokes" at our local museum that was sponsored by the museum's Contemporaries group. The Contemporaries are a branch of the museum's members who are young, community-minded professionals who enjoy the finer things in life. I am one of those peoples. I mean, I do enjoy my fair share of boxed wine; but I also enjoy Claude Monet, Vivaldi, and Oprah. (What? The Big O's classy! Her boyfriend's name is Stedman. The name Stedman = classy.)

The evening began with with wine and some seriously appetizing appetizers provided by the Village Kitchen. There was chit chat, mingling, admiring the other girls' outfits (and trying not to compare their swanky looks to my own plain, black turtleneck, jeans, and flats. Please, please someone nominate me for What Not To Wear. Please?!)

Then it was to the art room to paint our masterpieces. We each got an apron and all the supplies we needed. We painted still life, kinda boring, but made fun by the amount of wine provided. The BFF has an art degree from Auburn, so naturally, I spent most of my time trying to copy what she was doing, and then whining when mine didn't turn out as cute as hers. There was a young, local artist there, currently pursuing an art degree at Auburn, who showed us some techniques and who managed to effortlessly produce a painting of the same still life I was trying to replicate, only in half the time it took me. And hers looked good. And her outfit was super cute.

The event was thirty bucks, which included the food, drink, supplies, and work of art that now sits, with nary a glance in its direction, atop my desk in the corner of the room. Ahhh. Oh well. It was still good times. If you're interested in learning more about the Contemporaries or upcoming events, go here.

And here's your visual:

Oh! And I forgot to tell you - they gave away free koozies! (By the way, this was my determining factor on whether or not that was a $30 well spent. Confirmed. Free koozie.)

March 6, 2010

Cool Beans!

I like the word cool.

But not in the "Oh cool! Free cheese pizza!" kind of way.

In the "She acted cool around Charles. She didn't want him to see what she was hiding" kind of way.

(I know, not much to this post, but I thought this needed to be said. So I said it.)

March 4, 2010

Thoughtful Thursdays: Regarding Smiling

I must have a dorky, permanent smile plastered on my face a good 90% of the time. I say this because the minute I walk around my office without one, coworkers begin asking, "What's wrong? Are you okay? You look sad." When, in all reality, I am just mindlessly getting a cup of coffee, not thinking about well, anything really. Someone in my office actually said today, "This is literally the first time I've ever seen you without a smile on your face." (I think it should be noted that this person has frown lines which indicate they haven't smiled since the summer of '72.)

I like that I have this problem. I've had a few life experiences that had great potential to steal away this permasmile. But they didn't. I have always been able to find the tiny patch a blue in an otherwise gray sky.

I can't tell you why exactly. Some may say that it's because I'm a Christian. But I won't be the first to point out that even some Christians are the most downbeat, frown-y warm bodies around. Others may say that I choose to surround myself with some pretty amazing people. I do. I have incredible people in my life. However, I also spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with Billy Bob; so that can't be entirely it. And then some might say it's because all of my needs are met: roof over my head, money in the bank, stocked fridge, having someone who tells me he loves me, etc. But those things don't gaurantee happiness. Prime example - Danny Bonaduce. (Yes, I know there are better examples out there. Dustin Diamond, Rob Van Winkle, and my favorite family and yours, the Kardashians, are just a few. But I just like saying Danny Bonaduce. It sounds funny.)

No, here's my theory: I think that when God was putting me together up there in his heavenly pantry full of looks, characteristics, personalily, and qualities, he threw in a little extra from the happy jar. He just wanted me to smile through it all. And I do.

He could have left the chubby on the shelf though.
So I'm starting this thing called "Thoughtful Thursdays". A lot of the other sites I frequent do the same thing. Like Monty Monday's here and Sunday Sweets here, so I'm following suit. Thoughtful Thursdays will be a weekly thing in which I talk about something meaningful, heartfelt, kinda serious but still fun. (In other words, I won't be making fun of people, talking about my life: the diet years, stupid work stuff, or rambling.) I hope you enjoy this side of me, sans snark.

March 2, 2010

Just call me DJ Pidazzle Frazzle

(By the way, if I ever start turning tables in clubs, this WILL BE my DJ name.)

I know you're just dying to know what's on my ipod.

I gotta have music in my ears when I work out, otherwise, I'd go crazy from hearing the old men grunt and the word vomit coming from the cheerleaders next to me. So when I take that first step onto that godforsaken treadmill, I gotta get into a good, happy place and I do that by listening to these songs:

7 days to change your life - Jamie Cullum
83 - John Mayer
Do you think I'm sexy - Rod Stewart

You would not think I am sexy. Sports bras do nothing for my figure. (Ok, maybe it's less the sports bras fault and more the icecream I keep in constant stock in my freezer's fault.) So Rod's got me loosened up and ready to go - OHHH! Boom! That's what she said!

Then I take it up juuuuuust a notch with:

We didn't start the fire - Billy Joel
Call me - Blondie
Sweet child o' mine - Guns N Roses
Born to boogie - Hank Williams Jr.
Stitched up - Herbie Hancock feat. John Mayer
Mamo no. 5 - Lou Bega
Summer jam summer jam - Quad City Dj's
Fat bottomed girls - Queen
Ignition (remix) - R. Kelly
Right now - Van Halen

Whaaa? Hank Jr. and Lou Bega on the same list?! Yes, yes, and R. Kelly. And have you heard that Van Halen song? Yeah, it'll make you want to fight. After this, I'm ready to tear through walls like the Kool-Aid man, so the natural progression would be Kanye, right?

American boy - Estelle feat. Kanye West
Stronger - Kanye West
Gold digger - Kanye West feat. Jamie Fox
Get low - Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz
This is how we do it - Montell Jordan
Hey ya - Outkast
C'mon n' ride it (the train) - Quad City Dj's
Push it - Salt-N-Pepa
Carry out - Timbaland feat. Justin Timberlake
Cantaloop (flip fantasia) - US3
Gettin' jiggy wit it - Will Smith
We trying to stay alive - Wyclef Jean
In da club (dirty) - 50 Cent

To the window! To the wall! The sweat dripped down my...forehead? So I've peaked (Boom! TWSS!) and ready to slow it down a bit.

Shattered - The Rolling Stones
Miami - Will Smith
LaGrange - ZZ Top
Take your mama - Scissor Sisters

Shadoobee! And now, for a complete cool down:

Peaceful Easy Feeling - The Eagles
Lights - Journey
Bright Lights - Matchbox 20
Margaritaville - Jimmy Buffett

See you at El Vaquero! 'Cause I've earned a margarita after all that, right?!?

What songs do you like working out to?

This mix is also proving to be very motivational in being productive at work.
Also, I wanted you all to know that I only listen to the clean versions. There certainly are a lot of holes in Lil Jon's "Get low".

March 1, 2010

Morning Glory

I have recently began swimming in the mornings, before work, at the new YMCA. (By "recently" I mean I went this morning. I'm currently taking bets on when I'll go next. Two days? A week? Two weeks? We'll see.)

Here's how the hours before my first lap went: I set my cellphone alarm for 5:45 a.m. I wake up to go use the bathroom at 3:00 a.m. (I won't tell you that I drank an entire bottle of wine last night. Oh. Whoops. Ok, so now you know I drank an entire bottle of wine last night. But to explain it further in hopes that you won't think I'm an alcoholic, it was one of those cheap bottles of white wine that could almost pass for watered down white grape juice. Ok, so that's that.) So yes, bathroom. 3:00 a.m. Back to bed. Took about 20 minutes to fall back asleep. Cellphone alarm goes off at 5:45 a.m. According to radio clock on bedside table, time is 4:45 a.m. Frantically look at every clock in the house to confirm that it is, in fact, 4:45 a.m. Back in bed. Set two, TWO! alarm clocks for 5:45 a.m. and reset cellphone alarm for 6:45 a.m. (which would be 5:45 a.m.). Curse my cellphone and begin to think of my deceased Papa who would have been up for two hours already if he were still living. Start feeling sentimental. Can't get my Papa off my mind. Toss and turn for an hour. Then, what sounds like a tornado siren, a firetruck, and some weird techno music all at once go off and I'm somehow on my feet again.

Brush teeth, wash face, get gym bag, walk out the door. No traffic! YES!! Pull in gym parking lot and realize I've forgotten my work clothes. Back to house. Get clothes. Back to gym. Through the locker room. Put swim cap on. Secure goggles in place. (Oh yeah, it's the whole nine yards.)

Finally. Dive in.

I really love swimming as an aerobic exercise. Any exercise where I don't sweat is number one in my book. Plus, it's so relaxing to hear yourself breathe under water. In and out. Over and over. All the while, you're working pretty much every muscle in your body with no sweat beads forming around your eyes then dripping onto the step thingy you're doing the grapevine on and off of, creating a fear of slipping and breaking your back in front of a room of 20 other people. No, none of that.

An added bonus was getting to watch the sunrise while going down my lane this morning. (Seeing the colors of the sunrise through my purple tinted goggles made it even better.)

So if you're feeling lucky, if I were you, I'd place that bet on two days rather than two weeks. And maybe you should come join me in the morning. Don't worry - you won't look any more dumb than I do with that swim cap on.

Happy Monday, everyone!