Thursday, July 29, 2010
Today was especially exciting because look what I found when I walked out into my backyard a few minutes ago . . . the FIRST red tomato of the season! It's a Beef Master. Size matters with Beef Master Tomatoes and check out this size of this baby!
Now, I've actually got LOTS of tomatoes, but only one red one. Here's some green Beef Master Tomatoes.
And here's a green Plum Tomato. Again, check out the size of that Plum Tomato!
Here's the NEW Summer Squash. It's not to be confused with the original Summer Squash I planted a couple of months ago that was ripped out by some beast in the middle of the night. I'm telling you, if I ever find that monster . . .
It's the FIRST Red Pepper. I know, I know. You're thinking, "Um, that's GREEN, not red." Yes, I'm aware of that. It's just not full grown or ripe yet. Give it time.
Here's the yummiest Basil in the world. I've been eating it for weeks!
I also have Garlic Chives, but they're not too exciting to look at.
Stay tuned tomorrow for Flower Garden Porn!
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Right up front, let me say that I know that my women readers are going to be mad about this post. So mad they'll want to take away my Feminist Card. Let's just keep a couple of things in mind: (1) I'm the messenger. I didn't do the alleged study below. I'm just reporting on it. So let's not shoot the messenger. (2) Knowledge is power. Now that we know about this "study," we can head the excuses for crude male behavior off at the pass.
As for my male readers, I know I'm about to be your hero. But just because some "medical study" claims looking at breasts is good for you, that does not mean that demeaning women by leering is acceptable behavior. It also does not mean that you suddenly get a pass to hang out at the strip club three nights a week (or even any nights a week). Also, Blue Cross Blue Shield isn't planning on reimbursing you for your porn collection. I called and asked. Sorry. Oh, if you're ogling some woman and she slaps you, you deserve it and you should man up about it, take responsibility, sincerely apologize, and NOT claim you were just practicing "preventative health care."
I wish I could remember how I learned of this article this morning, but I can't. All I can think of is that it must have showed up in my Twitter feed. Who tweeted it, I have no idea.
From The Med Guru:
Stare at Boobs for Longer Life: Study
by Neharika Sabharwal, December 6, 2009
Frankfurt, Germany, December 6 -- A rather bizarre study carried out by German researchers suggests that staring at women's breasts is good for men's health and increases their life expectancy.
According to Dr. Karen Weatherby, a gerontologist and author of the study, gawking at women’s breasts is a healthy practice, almost at par with an intense exercise regime, that prolongs the lifespan of a man by five years.
She added, "Just 10 minutes of staring at the charms of a well-endowed female, is roughly equivalent to a 30-minute aerobics work-out."
A five-year research on 500 men
Researchers at three hospitals in Frankfurt, Germany did an in-depth analysis of 200 healthy males over a period of five years. Half the volunteers were instructed to ogle at the breasts of women daily, while the rest were told to refrain from doing so.
At the close of the study, the researchers noted that the men who stared at the breasts of females on a regular basis exhibited lower blood pressure, slower resting pulse rates and lesser episodes of coronary artery disease.
Sexual desire linked to better blood circulation
The researchers declared that sexual desire gives rise to better blood circulation that signifies an overall improved health.
Weatherby explained the concept stating, "Sexual excitement gets the heart pumping and improves blood circulation. There's no question: Gazing at breasts makes men healthy.
"Our study indicates that engaging in this activity a few minutes daily cuts the risk of stroke and heart attack in half. We believe that by doing so consistently, the average man can extend his life four to five years."
In addition, she also recommended that men over 40 should gaze at larger breasts daily for 10 minutes.
The German research is believed to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine.LMS Note: Fortunately this "study" is entirely false. According to Snopes.com, it first appeared in "that Fountain of Truth, the Weekly World News" on May 13, 1997 and then again on March 21, 2000. Sorry guys.
But thanks to my friend Steve, who posted the video below on Facebook yesterday, we can all take a walk through Chicago in 1948. Notice that the Chicago Hilton and Towers was known then as the Stevens Hotel. And I'm amazed at how the Wrigley Building just stands there with blue sky in the background. Just in case you've forgotten how Solider Field is supposed to look, it's there too. Make sure you watch the second video about Chicago's nightlife in 1948. I'm quite sure it will make you giggle.
If you read Little Merry Sunshine via email, click here so you can watch the videos.
Monday, July 26, 2010
To celebrate 900 posts, I wanted to give you a gift that expressed just how much each of my readers means to me. The video below is my gift to you. So if you read LMS via email, just click here and visit the website. Trust me, it's worth it.
Without further ado and in no particular order, here's my Bucket List.
1. Write a novel and have it published.
2. Travel to 6 of the 7 continents (I have no need to visit Antarctica).
3. Kiss the man I love at the top of the Eiffel Tower (sure, it's cliche, but so what).
4. Marry the man of my dreams (and never get divorced).
5. Be a mom (being a step-mom or adopting kid(s) would be perfect).
6. Visit New York City. (I've actually been there twice for 2 1-day business trips, but I want to really SEE New York City - Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, Central Park, tour the United Nations, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, see a Broadway show, etc.)
7. See a baseball game at every major league stadium (I've been to two - Wrigley Field and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, well, three if you count the Old Comiskey Park).
8. Attend the Cubs World Series Championship Victory Parade.
9. Have my gardens featured in a Garden Walk.
10. Create a scholarship at my alma mater.
11. Visit the Great Wall of China, the Egyptian Pyramids, and Stonehenge.
12. Read the Complete Works of William Shakespeare.
13. Tour the Sistine Chapel and attend mass at the Vatican.
14. Take the ferry to Muskegon or Ludington (rather than drive all the way to Watervale).
15. Cook every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
16. Attend a Democratic National Committee convention as a delegate.
17. Be an extra in a movie.
18. Run for public office.
19. Drive from Chicago to LA on Route 66.
20. Learn to snow ski.
21. Run and complete a half-marathon.
22. Lose 100 pounds by my 40th birthday. I've got 10 1/2 months.
23. Visit the Grand Canyon and Mt. Rushmore.
24. Sky dive.
25. Learn to scuba dive and dive the Great Barrier Reef.
26. Learn how to shoot a gun.
27. Ride a motorcycle.
28. Have my picture taken with a sitting President.
29. Have front row seats for a U2 concert.
30. Saber a bottle of champagne.
31. Ride a camel.
32. Sing karaoke (I even have a song picked out).
33. Learn to play tennis.
34. Cruise the Greek Islands.
There are quite a few additional To Do's on my Bucket List, but seeing as how Little Merry Sunshine is a family blog (well, at least my family reads it), I must keep those items private. :)
What's on your Bucket List?
Friday, July 23, 2010
In honor of today being the Hottest Day of 2010TM, I thought you might appreciate this classic bit from Good Morning Vietnam. I do believe that Robin Williams has perfectly captured today.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
That got me to thinking . . . it's been awhile since I talked about how badly food pantries need our help all year long (and not just at Christmas or Thanksgiving).
With summer here, the demand on food pantries is greater because families that rely on the free and reduced-fee school lunches to help stretch their food stamp dollars don't have that safety net.
According to the Illinois Department of Human Services, a family of 4 can have a monthly gross income of no more than $2,389 ($28,668 gross annually) in order to qualify for food stamps. That's not a lot of money, especially in the Chicago area. So people who make too much to qualify for food stamps, but are poor, the working poor, also rely on food pantries to help them make ends meet.
If you're a long-time reader of Little Merry Sunshine, you have probably read about my own personal experience with getting food from the food pantry and you know supporting food pantries is personal to me.
In addition to non-expired food (this is key because they cannot give out expired food to clients), many food pantries also accept toiletries. The Wheeling Township Food Pantry has a list of the items they need. The Mount Prospect Food Pantry specifically needs cash donations and bottled juice, canned goods, dried goods, rice, baby diapers and paper goods, but they can't accept cans larger than 32 ounces.
I buy a few extra items each week to donate to the food pantry. Thanks to buy one, get one free sales and coupons, this often has zero impact on my budget. I collect the items and when I have a full bag, I run over to the food pantry.
As you begin to harvest your garden, you might also think about donating some of your excess fruits and veggies to your local food pantries. See the list of food pantries accepting produce here.
Think your tiny garden can't make a difference? Watch the video below to learn how 11-year-old Katie Stagliano is making a difference in her community. She was on CNN today and has started Katie's Krops.
If you're not in Arlington Heights or Mt. Prospect, you can find food pantries local to you at Feeding America's website.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
You may not have heard, but Elmhust, Illinois is trying to outlaw eye rolling by declaring it "disorderly conduct."
This all stems from a discussion at a June 14th public finance and public affairs committee meeting where aldermen were discussing whether Elmhurst should hire a state lobbyist. Darlene Heslop, who attended the meeting and is opposed to hiring the lobbyist, allegedly rolled her eyes and sighed, which resulted in her being asked to leave the meeting.
The town of Elmhurst then directed its city attorney Don Storino to research the legal definition of "disorderly conduct and disruptive behavior" because Elmhurst is considering creating such a violation that would include eye rolling. According to Trib Local, "under state law, disorderly conduct is 'an act in such unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another, or to provoke a breach of the peace.'”
I can only imagine what kind of peace was breached with the eye rolling and which member of the committee is so sensitive that he or she was alarmed or disturbed. I'd like to live in that world where the biggest problem is eye rolling.
I know, you just rolled your eyes at the sheer stupidity of this waste of taxpayer dollars, but don't let anyone in Elmhurst catch you.
Frankly, if this had been the law in Arlington Heights during the 1980s, I may not have survived my teen years.
Parents all over Elmhurst have their fingers crossed in hopes that soon they'll be able to say to their teen daughters, "Don't roll your eyes at me, Missy! That's illegal in this town and I'll have Sheriff Andy Taylor over here to throw your butt in jail in two shakes of a stick! Now clean your room!"
Monday, July 19, 2010
Today Brad's at it again.
I'm sure you've heard about that group threatening to sue McDonald's over their Happy Meals. Brad responds below. And the kids let us know just how they feel.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Sunday would be Nana's 94th birthday.
If everything had gone as planned, I would be sitting in her pew at Crystal Beach Community Church feeling her presence next to me and remembering her reaching over to hold my hand as we sang hymns. Then I'd be enjoying lunch at Sam's Fresh Seafood with Mom. We'd end the day standing on the Crystal Beach Pier watching the sunset into the Gulf of Mexico.
Unfortunately, nothing went as planned this week and I'm in Arlington Heights.
So I'll be celebrating Nana's birthday by sitting in a pew in the church I grew up attending, the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights. I don't know what else I'll do tomorrow, but I'm going to enjoy the dessert I remember Nana making more often than any other: Vanilla bean ice Cream and fresh peaches.
I remember cutting up peaches with her, scooping ice cream into the little Blue Willow china dessert bowls and sitting around the big dining room table while we all enjoyed the refreshing treat. After dinner, we'd wash and put away the dishes together and then walk down to the pier to watch the sunset.
Such a simple wonderful way to end the day. Just like Nana. Simple and wonderful.
In honor of Nana, here's her favorite hymn. We sang it at her Celebration of Life service on her birthday last year. It's hard to believe that a year ago I saw her for the last time. She looked so peaceful in her casket, although it was truly almost more than I could do to look at her. I just didn't want her to be gone. The truth is I still don't want her to be gone, but I'm doing better this year.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Ever since I read From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler as a kid, I have fantasized about running away to a museum. I mean, just think about how cool it would be to roam freely around a museum and say climb Sue or play with Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle or try on a German suit of armor from the 1500s in the middle of the night?
The Museum of Science and Industry wants a roommate! And I'm the perfect person!
I'll be living 24/7 at MSI from October 20th - November 18th with my sole mission being "to experience all the fun and education that fits in this historic 14-acre building, living here and reporting your experience to the outside world. There will be plenty of time to explore the Museum and its exhibits after hours, with access to rarely seen nooks and crannies of this 77-year-old institution."
The best part? I won't even have to sneak in! They're running a contest where anybody (but I'm the winner, just so you know) can apply and they'll even pay the me (or the winner) $10,000 plus a whole bunch of fun tech gadgets, an honorary lifetime membership, and all kinds of knowledge and fun. Plus, think of the lifetime of bragging rights! What a cool thing to drop at a cocktail party . . . "I used to live at the Museum of Science & Industry."
Now there is some "work" involved. I'll have to blog (check), speak in public (no problem), take a few pictures (I'm capable of not getting my fingers in the pics), and making a few public appearances (I'll give them a copy of the New Little Merry Sunshine Public Appearance & Speaking Policy - good thing I wrote that up!), and of course, play with all the cool stuff at the Museum. This is gonna be a breeze!
I'm sorry, but the Museum won't let me have any overnight guests, although it sure would be cool to have a slumber party. ;)
The contest is open to anyone over 18 who can pass a drug test, behavioral assessments, and background checks (wow, that eliminates a lot of folks I know, but fortunately my pure lifestyle will pay off!). So go ahead and enter, but I'm gonna win.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
I was immediately disqualified because although I really like my phone and it's sort of smart, it's no where near as cool or as smart as theirs. Seriously, watching these guys compare their phones waslike watching them brag about their virility. I don't remember the last time I saw so much testosterone.
Before the other two arrived, the owner of the HTC Evo by Sprint shared the video below with me because I am also on the Sprint network and he knows I've been thinking about whether to get the Evo or the iPhone when my contract runs out in December. Let me be honest, it was all I could do not to spit wine out my nose and wet my pants. Luckily, I do my Kegels.
In the course of the phone comparisons, the video was shown again and even now, I still laugh hysterically when I think about it. I sent it to another friend overnight and he sent me a text this morning saying "that was the funniest thing I have seen in awhile." I dare you not to laugh out loud.
WARNING: Do not watch this at work or around children or others with sensitivity to 4-letter words.
It turns out the backstory is just as entertaining. Even though you wouldn't know it, the video was created by an employee of Best Buy. Although it doesn't mention Best Buy, Best Buy tried to get their employee to remove the video. He refused because he doesn't mention his employer, but they suspended him and tried to fire him. In the end, they let him keep his job (interestingly, it was after the media got involved and their name was plastered everywhere), but he's got other job offers, including one from Gizmodo.
NOTE: If you read LMS via email and the videos don't come through, take a minute to visit the blog and watch the video. It may just be the funniest part of your day.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Since Grandpa died in 1995, my National League has been on a serious losing streak, having last won in 1996. Grandpa was a die-hard White Sox fan, so he always got the AL in the bet and I always took the NL. Since Grandpa's death, my dad and I continued the bet, and, due to this losing streak, I've gone into serious debt (well, okay, we only bet $1 each year, but you get my point). I've had a sneaking suspicion that Grandpa has been tampering with the game each year from up above, but I don't have any proof, so I've kept this theory to myself.
Yesterday, Dad sent me a text asking if we were still on for our bet. I said yes, but we needed to up the ante again (we did this in 2007 as well) and increase the bet from $1 to a beer at Dinghy's next month when we're at Watervale. So in reality, that means we've only raised the stakes about 50 cents, but that's not the point.
When I awoke this morning to the sad news about George Steinbrenner, I knew the NL was going to win tonight. The AL would be far too upset to play a good game. I called Dad and he laughed at me. He assured me that the NL was going down . . . again.
Guess who's laughing now!
That's right. Thanks to Brian McCann's 3-run hit and Marlon Byrd, the National League won 3-1.
That's gonna be one sweet beer at Dinghy's next month.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Among the many beautiful plants in my garden, I have two Stargazer Lillies. I'm not really sure where they came from, although I seem to recall there were more in previous years. Now there's just two.
And I've been waiting patiently for them to bloom all summer. I had almost given up on them blooming at all. Until this morning. When I walked out this morning, I discovered one of the orchids in full bloom. I had no reason to believe this Stargazer Lily was going to bloom last night, but there it was this morning in all its glory.
I have to admit that my eyes welled up with just a few tears (which I didn't actually cry, I just became a little misty) and knew Nana had sent me this gorgeous gift of nature to keep me focused on all that I'm grateful for today rather than get stuck in thinking about how much I miss her.
Thank you Nana. Even now you put many smiles on my face.
*Thanks to my friend Christy for informing me that my beautiful flower isn't an orchid, but a Stargazer Lily. Even better.
UPDATED 7/16/2010: On Wednesday, I woke up to TWO beautiful Stargazer Lillies. I'm so in love with both of them and am convinced Nana sent them.
Today is the one year anniversary of Nana's death.
I'm honestly at a loss as to how to put into words just how much I still miss her. So often I want to pick up the phone and call her to tell her some funny story or just hear her voice and it's not until I get half done dialing her number that I remember I can't. I miss holding her small hands, hearing her call me her "dear Jessica" and reminding me that I'm her favorite granddaughter (I'm her only granddaughter, but that never mattered). I miss her southern drawl and the weekly letters that were often nothing more than newspaper clippings with Post-It Notes she thought I'd find interesting. And God knows I miss her fruitcake.
At some point in the last year, the daily tears stopped and my desire to get out of bed in the morning came back.
In the past year, I've found myself doing many things that remind me of her. For example, I wash dishes by hand far more than I used to. Nana never owned a dish washer and even when she'd come to visit, she would insist on hand washing the dishes rather than load the dishwasher. I have no idea what kind of dishwashing soap she used, but something about the lavender scented Palmolive makes it seem as though she's standing right next to me at the sink.
Yes, I miss her immensely, but she lived a great life and I'm grateful to have had my Nana for just a few days short of 93 years (well, I guess I only had her for just over 38 years, but you know what I'm saying). I'm not exactly sure how I'll honor her today, but rest assured, I'll find a few moments of silence to have a chat with her and let her know what I've been up to. And I'll probably shed a tear or two.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Dear Betsey and Ross,
I appreciate that you've both had a difficult month.
Betsey was sick and we thought she had cancer. She was poked and prodded, x-rayed and ultrasounded. She's lost over 10% of her body weight, stopped eating, peed blood, stopped pooping, had exploding diarrhea and puked on every flooring surface in the house (and even some furniture), and had to adjust to new food. She's had her belly shaved by perfect strangers and had their fingers up her butt, which, for the record, she does not like one bit.
And during it all, Ross took it like a man and licked his underarms bald.
And, of course, you both turned 14. You're sullen teenagers, I get it.
I've dealt with the sleepless nights, late night visits to the ER vet, the ridiculous amount of money I spent, and not complained once about the diarrhea or puke I've stepped in more than once . . . barefoot. I've cleaned it all up, happily, thinking to myself, "at least she's eating again."
But Betsey is fine. She does not have cancer. She has hyperthyroidism and cystitis. Both chronic and manageable and relatively inexpensive to treat.
So now that we're past the trauma of it all and you're both going to live many more healthy years, can we please, for the love of God, return to using the litter box exclusively? Again, I understood that exploding diarrhea and throwing up cannot be controlled easily, but now that we're past that, let's get back to our normal routine and quit ruining the carpets.
Despite what you both obviously believe, I do not live to simply care for you. I have my own life, run a business, sit on two Boards, volunteer, have a social life, date, write, and garden, just to name a few of the things that keep me busy.
I love you both very much, but my patience is wearing thin on this matter.
P.S. If you could not claw my eyes out in my sleep tonight, that would be great.
Response from Betsey and Ross:
Quit your whining and get back to work! We rule this house, not you. And go buy some more catnip! NOW! We are CATS. You knew what you were in for when you adopted us. We don't take attitude from anyone, especially you. Oh, and scratch our bellies til we purr please.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
So imagine my surprise when my doorbell rang today around noon and there was my mailman saying he had a package for me. Since my birthday was almost a month ago, I couldn't figure out what surprise might be in his hands.
I retrieved the brown cardboard box and noted the return address was Amazon. But I hadn't ordered anything from Amazon . . . I thought. I opened the very heavy package to discover How to Cook Everything, Completely Revised Tenth Edition: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman, which left me even more confused. My mind quickly raced back to my window shopping spree last night on Amazon when I was looking at cookbooks. Specifically, I was looking at Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking for an upcoming blog post. I also perused a few other cookbooks, but didn't remember buying anything. Or did I? Upon further investigation, I found the packing slip and discovered that my brother Dave sent me the book on Monday. Talk about speedy delivery.
Later this evening, I had the chance to speak to Dave and thank him for the wonderful surprise. He said that he knows how much I love to cook and that he heard about the book on NPR on Monday (I couldn't find the story he heard. Maybe it was a repeat of this story.) and thought I'd enjoy it. How cool is that?
I have to say that this is the best cookbook I've ever owned. While it doesn't have pretty pictures of perfect looking foods, it has drawings of how to do things like shucking clams and removing a mussel beard. How to drawings are so much more useful than pretty pictures. I mean sure it's great to know what a dish should look like (in comparison to how it actually looks), but knowing the difference between slicing, dicing, julienne, roll cut, and chiffonade is priceless! I could have used those skills in the summer of 1991 when I worked in the kitchen at Watervale, but better late than never.
What's even better is that I'm having guests for dinner this weekend and maybe early next week too. So they'll be guinea pigs for my new mad cooking skills.
Do I have the coolest brother or what?
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Anyway, prior to the movie previews, this Old Spice commercial aired. I'll give it points for originality and I'll admit that I'd like a man who does all the things this handsome chap does (EXCEPT the littering part). But, for the love of God, under no circumstances should any man of mine wear Old Spice. Old Spice is what my late step-grandfather wore and I don't care what anyone says, in my opinion, it is not the fragrance of a man in his prime or of any man I want to cozy up to. But the commercial did make me laugh out loud and almost spit out my Diet Coke.
While finding the embed code, I discovered that this is part of a whole series of commercials, which are simply hysterical, but still don't make me want to snuggle with a guy who smells like Old Spice.
Friday, July 2, 2010
As difficult as it is to believe, Betsey and Ross turn 14 on Sunday. That's right, they were born on the 4th of July and (for those of you who are new here) were born in Washington DC, which, of course, is how they got their names. Anyway, they're turning 14!
I say it's difficult to believe they're 14 because they still act like they're about 5. They run around the house chasing each other, fight with the feral cat outside (while remaining safely on this side of the sliding glass door), groom each other, love each other, jump all around playing with their toys, and with the exception of the last month, have had no major health problems. As you can see below, they're also both into politics and are big fans of President Obama. In fact, they Super Dele-CATS for (then candidate) Barack Obama and were featured on Cats for Obama.
The last month has been a bit traumatic with Betsey and worrying that she had cancer, but as of today, we know she's cancer free, has a beautiful clean bladder and excellent kidney and liver functioning. Her final diagnosis is cystitis and hyperthyroidism, both chronic and inexpensively treatable. The truth is that she's probably had both of these issues for years, but we just didn't know it because the cystitis sat dormant and we had no reason to run blood tests.
Betsey, Ross, and I have a lot of people to thank for their kindness over the last month including the great doctors at Animal ER and Veterinary Specialty Center, Dr. Jennifer Kinnavy at March Animal Hospital for never giving up on Betsey and keeping me (relatively) calm, vet tech extraordinaire (and my cousin) Andrea for dealing with my panic so well, Keefer's Pharmacy in Mt. Prospect for making up all the fabulous drug cocktails for Betsey, Dr. Donna Krochak at Alexandria Animal Hospital in Alexandria, VA for giving Betsey and Ross such outstanding care in Virginia to ensure their continued good health in Illinois, and our family and friends who have continually asked about how Betsey is doing.
Betsey and Ross appreciate that everyone takes the weekend to celebrate them by attending parades, festivals, backyard BBQs, fireworks, etc. They only ask that you act responsibly by not drinking and driving and also take a moment to remember that it's also our country's 234th birthday. The rest of the weekend you can celebrate Betsey and Ross.
Here's a great soundtrack for the weekend thanks to NPR.
You probably also want to listen to the Declaration of Independence as read by the broadcasters at NPR. When was the last time you listened?