Monday, December 29, 2014

Icing on the cake

Hey, you know my posts that are chock full of useful information and/or intellectual thoughts? Yeah, this isn't one of those. 

My friend was recently relaying the details of her bad day to me. The bad day started with a broken alarm, as they do, followed by a missed bus, the barista was rude to her when she bought a coffee, then something about a bank mishap or something like that. She ended the tale by saying: "and then the icing on the cake was when I went to make dinner and the meat I had bought smelled funny. It was late and...." I'm actually not sure where the story went from there because I had completely veered off on the whole "icing on the cake" thing. 

You see, I kind of always thought icing on the cake was a positive thing: something good in addition to something else good. Let me illustrate: 

Cake = Good 
Icing = Real Good 

So you can understand my confusion when this phrase was used with a negative connotation.

I think that we should confirm the tone and meaning of this phrase now before we all continue to use and misuse it. As it exists, there is just too much room for confusion. 

Negative: Some people use it in a negative sense to mean the straw that broke the camel's back. Picture someone throwing their hands up in frustration, "oh, that is just the icing on the cake" as in, "oh this couldn't have possibly gotten worse and then it did...." But that's a terrible thing to say since adding icing to anything makes it better... believe me, I've tried.

Positive: Is it supposed to mean something good in addition to something really good? I believe that is what most people mean when they say it. However, that is not my literal translation. I have heard people use it to say something was going really well and then something else good happened. I can support this as the universal meaning, although for me, the icing is the really good thing and the cake is the nice addition. When someone uses this positive version, my takeaway is: something really good added to something that is just good. That is what I am thinking, despite knowing it might not be 100% accurate. This is why I think we need to all agree on what it means.

Super Positive: Personally, I think the icing is the best part, the main event. I can have icing without cake, but not the other way around. Without it I find cake to be a bit of a disappointment. Spoonfuls of icing with no cake in sight, no problem. Cake without icing, on the other hand... disappointing, and I think they actually call that muffins.

Between you and me, I think cake can also be disappointing with too little icing... so as we iron this whole thing out, we also might want to specify exactly how much icing we're talking about, cause if it's too little in proportion to the cake, that would be a bit of a downer and therefore revert back to that negative connotation. 

I just need clarity here. 

And hey, while we're clarifying, let's also give some gravitas to gravy. Adding gravy to things makes those things better. I have heard people refer to something good being added to something already good as "gravy." I kind of get it, assuming they are referring to how once you're adding gravy you can just add a lot since adding more gravy is better. But if you are phrasing it as something that didn't need to be added but was, that shouldn't be the universal meaning because most times when gravy is there, it's there for a reason. You need the gravy. Some dry-a$$ turkey or beef absolutely needs the gravy. It's not an optional addition or a pleasant surprise. It's a vital necessity. Plus, in the case of adding gravy, it's a nice thing to have, but you don't necessarily want it on its own.

Sorry but I take my food too seriously to throw these phrases around willy nilly. 

We all need to have a firmer grasp on the true definitions before we proceed. I think we should probably decide now which meanings we are going to go with in order to avoid further confusion. Otherwise we are left hearing a story of a bad day and assuming it ended well because there was cake, but in actuality she gave her family food poisoning.

I love cake

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What's in a name?

Forget Shakespeare, you know what’s in most names? A lot, actually.
A lot of time spent thinking about the choices; a lot of consideration given to the assumed opinions of friends and family, honoring individuals, remembering family members, monograms, nicknames, abbreviated versions, how it sounds when read out loud in class or at awards ceremonies (hey, we can dream, right?), how it sounds when shouted in a reprimanding tone or in moments of sheer desperation, the possible ways people could make fun of the name or celebrate the name.
We parents don’t just pick these things out of thin air (for the most part).
This is why I find it impossible to share my potential baby names, even if they’re only potential names, with other people. Mainly because people can be total idiots sometimes....
Because I have been known to wax poetic from time to time, and because their graphics team ran out of time and wasn't able to include the accompanying poem, here it is:
The Name Game

I might name him Amy and I might name her Bert,
I might name for Exxon, Sears or my great-aunt Gert.

I might do it for glory like Honor or Blaze,
I might name them Oreo when deep in my fat phase.

If I name him Justyce, I know it's supposed to be an "i"
And maybe you're right, that hard I shouldn't try.

We all have different faves, that's what makes horse racing
And mine doesn't have to fit into your sausage casing.

Give me your opinion only when asked explicitly,
Cause I don't take unsolicited advice implicitly.

Please know it took time, intense thought and lots of love
If she's Edna or Agnes, it's not necessarily for someone above.

I might go top ten with Jayden or Liam
It's not that easy when I've still yet to meet him.

I won't judge you and your brood's alliteration
Just leave me to my name without obliteration.

Please don't make fun if Jane and Dave you find too boring
Or if I'm not forthcoming because yours is the name I'm storing.

Sorry if Skylar is too trendy for your taste
Or if I thought Stalin was too good a name to waste.

I might name her for grandparents gone but never forgotten
But no matter what I name him, I know I'll be besotten.

When I tell you Nick and you instead offer up Zack
I like that too, but Nick's the one, cut me some slack.

We all have different names and that's a good thing
Now let's focus on the child and all the wonder she can bring.

For even if he's Gomer or Steve or Mark or Sue
The name isn't even close to the worst thing as parents we will do.

We've got many years to mess with them beyond a Moses branding
Just give them love and acceptance to help them with their standing.

Give me suggestions only before I've made up my mind
Otherwise you can be a real pain in my behind.

Let me choose what I think suits her, you can name your own
Because I'm the one that gets to name this seed that I have sown.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Happy candy-versary

Yesterday was a very special day for me, a day I am very proud of, my one week candyversary. Yesterday marked one week of me being candy free.

I wasn't sure I would make it this far. Seriously there were some dark days directly following Halloween. I am happy to say I have come out the other end a stronger, wiser person. Enlightened not only by the experience, but also by the fact that my blood is no longer 25% corn syrup.

I'm not typically much of a quitter. Then again, I have never had quite as much candy to get through as we did this year. Three separate trick-or-treating events, plus I purchased some (my favorites, obviously) to give out at our house despite knowing full well that we'd be out trick-or-treating ourselves during that time and therefore never gave any of those away. At the end of it all we had one overflowing plastic pumpkin, a spare bucket and a serving bowl full of all those "fun size" treats. And they were fun... for a time.

I admit, it was a glorious Halloween weekend as I savored, then devoured, then just plain binged on treat after treat. Monday hit, and I realized my candy addiction had taken over. I was out of control: sneaking candy at all hours, double-packing while the kid was at school, single-biting the three-biters in the evenings. It was a long road from Halloween to the point when I knew I had to quit cold turkey. A long, sugar-y, chocolate-y road that at some points I truly believed had the power to destroy me. My teeth ached at the end of each night. Knowing the end was nigh, I really went for it on the last night, alternating Mike & Ike's and Raisinettes by the fistful. I felt like my teeth were about to fall out in protest. And so, nine sticky-fingered days after the party started, the party had to end. Not just because we were down to only Baby Ruths, off-brand lollipops and the odd flavored Tootsie Rolls, but because something in my gut (sugar) told me it was time.

That following day was my first day towards the new me: the me that didn't need candy to get through the night, to have fun, to exist. No, I just needed a strong will and maybe a bowl of ice cream here and there. Hey! Heroin addicts get meth, I needed something to take the edge off... and meth just reminds me of rock candy so that never would have worked.

The first few days were rough. The plastic orange jack o' lantern taunting me every day: "Eat what's in my head!" "Do it!" "You know you are curious about the citrus flavored Tootsies!" But then a few days in I realized I had nearly made it to the weekend, and then by the end of the weekend I knew I just might be in the clear.

Sure I could have made it easier on myself. I didn't have to leave the pumpkin out, but why should my daughter have to go without just because I can't control myself. *For the record, to date, she has consumed no more than 9 total pieces of Halloween candy of any shape, size or flavor and this is not due to my rationing (I don't do that) or making her go without. To be honest, I could have used her help getting through it all. But no, strange as it may be, the little dear just didn't care for any more than what she had. It works out to not even one piece a day. I mean really, what is that all about?

And yes, of course I could have donated it... somewhere. That's the thing though, I am not sure where you take it to donate it, didn't really feel like doing the research and frankly, I did enjoy the early days of sampling all my favorites whenever I wanted. Breastfeeding = Insatiable. Seemingly endless candy supply = Awesome. By the time I knew I needed help, it was too late for donating. In truth I just felt kind of sad for whomever would receive the end lot as a donation... smarties and candies that look like they came from someone's grandmother's purse make a horrible donation. Who wants that? No one. Thankfully not even me, which was exactly the boost I needed to give it all up.

I would like to thank my dear friends and family for supporting me throughout this past week. Your love and support are invaluable always. A special thank you to our babysitter who, after being prompted by my begging, took several pieces for herself. A big thank you to my husband for ignoring the extra padding that now exists. A big screw you to my mom for bringing the candy that was leftover at her house to my house. Not cool mom, not cool. I understand peanut M&Ms give you heartburn, but I shouldn't have to eat them all either (yes, that's the kind of gluttonous logic that we use in our family).

So, here I am. Just over one week later and I feel much better already. I know that I didn't quit candy for good but I did quit candy for now, which means I can do it. So maybe I will treat myself with that knowledge and have "just one" tonight. Seriously, just one.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Overdue, why yes, yes I am

October 10, 2014
As with many pregnancies, my due date has come and gone and still no baby. A common occurrence really, or if not common, pretty much a 50/50 split between early and late due to some wildly conflicting statistics out there.

I have now been pregnant for 40 weeks and 4 days. That's 9 months and 10 days, or 284 days total. I have been aware of my pregnancy for most of this time, minus the first few weeks when I may or may not have downed a few bottles of wine that fall under that: "don't drink anymore but don't worry about those" category my doctor so eloquently laid out for me.

Of the 284 days, I have felt pretty good for most of the time. What this means is that I have had bouts of nausea, fatigue, aches, pains, heartburn, cramps and growing pains throughout, but in general count myself amongst the lucky ones who have actually felt more good than bad. Mentally I would say I have also been more on the positive side for the past 284 days. I fear that all of that may change if I continue to be pregnant for much longer. This has nothing to do with the very large yet comfortable (apparently) baby residing in my gut. This has everything to do with the fact that all of a sudden, I have become the most popular person in the world, or at least it feels that way. 

Over the course of a regular week in my life, if you count phone calls, texts and emails, I probably hear from approximately 2.3 friends or family members total on average. Starting about a week before my due date, and then kicking into high gear on the actual due date, I now hear from approximately 2.3 friends every few hours. This is incredibly sweet, thoughtful, kind, and sympathetic. This is also incredibly annoying. I'm sorry... that is so rude to say considering these people are just showing an interest in me, my unborn child and my health status. I am a terrible person... I get it. That being said, having to respond "yes, I am still pregnant" and "no baby yet" no fewer than 8 times a day isn't really helping matters along here. 

I promise I will let you know when the baby arrives. It's only one of the most joyous moments of my life, and I tend to be a bit of an over-sharer anyways (hello? Gratuitous self-serving blog anyone?)
So, to save everyone a little bit of time, until you hear otherwise, here are the responses to your questions:
  • How're you feeling/doing? Large and in charge.
  • You still pregnant? Yes, I am.
  • Baby today? Maybe... I'll be sure to let you know if and when that happens.
  • Anything? No nothing.
  • How are you today???? Same as yesterday: still pregnant.
  • Any baby news? Not news, per se, but I am due to have one any day and as one of my closest friends/family members, I will be sure to notify you when that happens.
  • What's the status? The status is I have a massive baby in my belly and instead of trying to rest or get things done to prepare, I am writing you back to tell you that.
  • Anything? Nothing.
  • WTF??? I know, right! Right back atcha.
  • Everything OK? Yeah, I suppose. Depends on your definition of OK. I am not currently pushing a baby through my lady bits, so I guess that's OK. I am currently eating as if I am going to the chair including fistfuls of candy corn washed down with heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter, and that's OK. I am ramping up my walking and finding reasons to head crosstown on foot, even if it is just to hit up another supermarket for more pineapple, which is OK. I am looking up eggplant fra diavolo recipes while rolling on a medicine ball just before my scalding hot shower, which burned like hell, but I'll be OK. So yes, I suppose everything is OK.
  • Baby here yet? Did we have a falling out that I forgot about and you're nervous I won't tell you when the baby does come? Cause we're cool. You're on the email list. I promise that within 24 hours of one of the happiest moments of my life I will actually want to tell everyone I know about it. Thankfully, these days there is email and the internet making it ridiculously easy for me to do so. But in answer to your specific question, no, the baby is not here yet.
  • Sooooo????? Indeed.
To all of my dear friends and loved ones, thank you so much for all the love and support you are continuing to show me. Please don't take this personally. Trust me, I want to share the good news as much as you want to hear it... arguably more because it means I will get a glass of wine and some sushi out of it. I promise, this baby can't stay in there forever... it will happen. And when it does, I will be sure to let you know.

Still here!

Monday, September 22, 2014

The bump made me do it

As featured on Scary Mommy!
the unedited (rambling) version:

In its simplest form, pregnancy makes you into a parent: pregnancy leads directly to parenthood, right? But when is anything ever simple? Pregnancy affects us in many more ways than a simple census declaration adjustment. Pregnancy makes you glow, it makes you feel fat, it makes you look fat, it makes you not sleep, it makes you want to beat the sh!t out of random people you don't know just because they decided to hand a kid a semi-automatic weapon. Oh, and it makes you do some questionable things too. These are the top ways pregnancy messes with you and your otherwise calm, rational way of life. 

Make me paranoid: Pregnancy makes you do and feel stuff you wouldn't otherwise. And rather than having a balanced mental state to work your way through it, we have a never ending to-do list coupled with raging hormones to help us through. It's not just you, the world may actually be out to get you, at least it is out to get you to do many of the other things on this list. Is Pregnancy Paranoia even a thing? Because if science hasn't studied it yet, it should... well, I mean, after they have cured all forms of cancer, AIDS, Ebola and ALS (hot topics), all birth defects and disabilities and figured out the whole genetically modified food thing (I understand why altered food isn't great, but hasn't "seedless" watermelon been modified into something better?). Then and only then they should spend a little time on this pregnancy paranoia thing. Or maybe not, maybe it's just me. Gah! The paranoia strikes again.

Make me cry: Don't get me wrong, even in my un-pregnant state I am typically only one video of a reunited military family away from tears. Old people are my universal weakness, and don't even get me started on those Sarah McLaughlin doggie commercials. And this is when I am not pregnant. These days I only need a semi-decent reason to cry... which is where Showtime comes in.

Ok Showtime, I'm the first person to admit that Love Actually is a great movie. I am also the same person who suggests that the song "Last Christmas" is good enough to be played all year round. But when Love Actually starts playing at all hours on Showtime in April and again in August, I feel it could be for no other reason than to make me cry, repeatedly, consistently, every single day I see that it is on because no, I can't resist turning it on once I've seen that it's on. So yeah, clearly Showtime is out to make me tear up uncontrollably. Or it's this pregnancy thing again (see paranoia above).

Make me eat: I was psyched when I realized I would't be pregnant over Halloween again... but you know what? Easter is just as bad, possibly worse. All the same mini candy, plus I am a believer that there is no such thing as a half-eaten chocolate bunny. It's either down in one or you have to throw part of it away... and I don't throw away part of anything chocolate. The same thing could be said about jellybeans. Not that I eat an entire bag of jellybeans in one sitting, but you can only go so many nights in a row shoving handful upon handful in your mouth until you think, despite my current jellybean induced nausea, perhaps if I just polished them all off right now, I'd still feel sick, but at least they would be gone before tomorrow. And hey, tomorrow is a new day. A new day to eat all those g-ddamn Peeps. I get past my own rule of not throwing food away by eating a few Peeps and then leaving the package open a few days before returning back to some rock hard neon bunnies and chicks. I am allowed to throw those out because if you've tried to eat a stale Peep (oh yeah, of course I have), they suck. Phew! At least I didn't have to eat all of them on my own.

And what's with food commercials after 8:00 pm? Nobody actively makes their supermarket shopping list at that hour. Therefore I can only assume that food commercials, whether for some drippy caramel gelato or Doritoes are for the sole purpose of making me feel like I need to eat something. I do recognize that these commercials don't actually make me hungry, but does it matter if the end result is me hoisting myself off the couch to go and find the item most similar to the offerings on tv in my pantry? Yes advertising executives, it's not like I rush out to go and buy your advertised items. I just make do with whatever I have in my house that is either sweet or savory, depending on which commercial has resonated that hour. It's dangerous, and I fear I may be only able to watch DVR'd or Netflix shows for the rest of my pregnancy lest I fall victim to these ads every night and gain the 65 additional pounds I am bound to gain if I continue to eat every time I get tempted.

The power of suggestion is pretty strong outside of the house as well. I saw a man on the street eating a donut and for the next few blocks I walked to the beat of the words in my head: "now I want a donut, now I want a donut." Don't worry, I was able to get that chant out of my head. What magical act did I perform to do so, you ask? Well, I went and got myself a donut. Five hours ago I saw a crumpled up piece of yellow paper that either was, or just simply reminded me of the cheeseburger wrappers from McDonald's. I think I know how where my evening is headed...

Oh hey, did you know that Nutella just turned 50? I did because for about ten days it was all I kept hearing about. Local news shows, the free daily paper, an e-mail chain I am on; all touting the rather inconsequential anniversary and the slew of Nutella themed events from a Nutella pop-up at a store down my block to free Nutella Cronuts being given out on anniversary day (also down my block). Well played Nutella. Despite me not actually making it to any of these events, guess what I kept eating every time I heard about another one of your "celebrations"? A slice of bread with Nutella on it. And it's a damn good time. Damn you Nutella!

Make me angry: While pregnancy paranoia may yet to be fully documented, pregnancy rage is alive and well and widely acknowledged. All of a sudden, in spite of our best efforts to not let her have any irritating toys, every toy my daughter owns has instantly become the most ridiculously annoying toy on the planet. Every musical toy has a different tune, a fact which is quite irksome on its own, and they go off and on at random times of the day (and night). Some bother me more than others. Pretty much all of the ones that have voices, electronically cheerful and overly pleasant voices, are the ones I want to bag up and remove from the house as she sleeps peacefully in the other room. Their faux happiness as they teach my daughter classical music and rhythm in Spanish is grating. And was that the sound of 30 plastic balls hitting the wood floor after being poured out of a poster tube? Where the hell did she get a poster tube from? And who invented this game for toddlers with 30 hard plastic balls? Someone who hated their parents very much and is projecting their rage by annoying other parents everywhere with this ridiculousness. Oh, and my apologies to our neighbor downstairs... apparently her interpretation of this game does not involve placing them on a table neatly as intended or even spilling the balls on the carpet, but rather directly onto the hard wood floor. It bothers me too, if it makes you feel any better... which it probably does not.

Make me scared: Is that pink juice running out of my burger or is it red? Should there be juice at all? Will that crazy person walking down the street take a random swing at my protruding belly and where is my center of gravity if I need to dodge her? How much tuna does my bagel place put on a bagel? Seems like more than the weekly allowance of 6 ounces, but I'm too hungry to only eat half. Does carbonara sauce have raw egg in it? How was I supposed to know that? And what does it mean for my poor unborn child if I'm carrying the Strep B bacteria? Not to mention the laundry list of other things we worry about while pregnant: will she be healthy, will he come early, will I ever feel ready? While I spend plenty of time in angry-land, my mood definitely swings to scared sh!tless a lot of the time too, and there's not much to get me out of it. Note to myself and anyone else reading this: DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT look things up on the internet unless you want to live in a permanent state of panic.

Make me feel crazy: This one has two culprits, the actual pregnancy (and the hormones that accompany it) and the annoying people around us who choose to blame any spike in temper or annoyance on our hormones. You know what, annoying people? Maybe you're just annoying... did you ever consider that? Sure, maybe I have stuff going on inside that makes me want to scream at anyone that steps out of line (*again, my sincerest apologies to the very old man driving the silver Nissan on the highway for that outburst), but just because I can't always control my mood doesn't mean you aren't also being a jerk (he was driving in the middle of two lanes and I didn't realize he was a frail, tiny old man until after I honked and tried to pass while mouthing mean things to him). 
I was susceptible to this crazy thing prior to pregnancy as I was a regular attendee of therapy. For those of you familiar with therapy, seeking help to sort through what goes on in your head is possibly one of the sanest things a person can do. For those of you not familiar with therapy, using the knowledge that someone else is in therapy as an excuse for their "crazy" behavior is a trigger to said crazy behavior. Please don't go there. Similarly, when you're being an a$$hole and blame me and my hormones for a situation escalating, I currently lack the ability to laugh that off (as I did the therapy mistake) and it just makes me even crazier. Self fulfilling prophecy or goading? You be the judge.

Make me into a bit of an animal: Yes, I'm standing on the street aggressively scratching my mid-section. It itches. And yes I am sweating uncontrollably in an air-conditioned room. Oh, and did I just belch audibly in line at the supermarket? Yes I did. Apologies to the people around me, but I really didn't know it was coming until it was out. Just be glad it relieved my nausea for now. And be glad it came out of that end... not that there was another option, as there's nothing going on at the other end at the moment anyway. And for some reason I think it's ok to discuss all this with anyone and everyone? I am an animal.

Make me feel bad: Oh, and one other thing... people need to stop looking so apologetic about the fact that I can't drink. I can't. That's true, and that's ok. It's only nine months and to be honest, I can sip on some wine once in a while if I really want to. Don't look at me like you've just asked a nun her favorite sex position. I know alcohol. I have enjoyed it. I will enjoy it again. Not drinking is not the end of the world. The end of the world is the patronizing look of someone acting like you are learning to live without water. It's the faux horror as they attempt to imagine what you are going through accompanied by apologies. Save it. The drink, I mean. I'll have it in a few months... more than one probably. I'm not gonna lie, a summer without cocktails wasn't easy, but I will be ok.

Which reminds me, despite all this, I will be ok. We all will. Thank goodness for that.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Throwback this...

If you're anything like me, your Facebook feed of late has become an onslaught of ice buckets and gratitude lists interspersed with ill-advised political rants and the troll-y responses that come with. Shoot, even the Buzzfeed style lists and quizzes have become a bit of a snooze fest. I'm not saying I only want to see a specific type of update, or that I even know what I want to see. That's kind of the point. It was the variety that kept it interesting. Or at least in the case of Throwback Thursday, the predictability of knowing why every Thursday I'm looking at photos of you with missing teeth and funny clothes.

I harken back to the days of funny videos before they've gone viral, jokes, witty observations and photos of fun parties I wish I was at and your new babies. Sidenote: the baby will do just fine on her own, thanks. I don't care if they are 17 or 19 weeks. The onesie or adorable doily stating the week is cute, for the first few weeks... then it becomes ridiculous and unnecessary. Just give me a pic of your kid. Their exact age could not matter less to me, particularly those 30+ weeks when I have to do the math. Please don't make me do the math.

And just so we're clear, the first day of school photos don't count as cute pictures I want to see either. They might have before everyone did them, but since I've been getting them since early August (what up with that southern states?), they are just boring and aggravating. Yes, aggravating because they make me into both a judgmental mother who questions why you sent your kid  to school on the first day looking like a complete slob and an inadequate mother who realizes she doesn't have a cutely framed chalkboard and rainbow chalk to caption days like this and now feels guilty about that.

It seems that anything in excess on social media becomes so monotonous that I have to b!tch about it here... either that or start reading again. *gasp*

Maybe the antidote to my annoyance lies in the magic that is Throwback Thursday. Yes folks, there's no use fighting it, Throwback Thursday has officially caught on. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy seeing old class photos and pix of both questionable hairdos and nights out. But Thursday wasn't good enough for some people. Some people (read: the lazy ones, re-read: folks like me) can't get their sh!t together in time to make #TBT, and g-d forbid they should have to wait a whole week. No, those people have created Flashback Friday... Basically the lazy man's Throwback Thursday. But tardiness on posting old photos aside, perhaps the folks who came up with this idea were onto something: namely confining these types of posts to the one day (or two days) of the week and labeling them accordingly.

Seeing as the old pictures do tend to only come out on these two days (birthdays/anniversaries not included), perhaps I can suggest a few other days in an attempt to clean up my feed and get specific types of updates confined to just one day of the week. I imagine we're only a few choice hashtags away from organizing it all neatly.

First up: The nonsense. We've all read the random updates: "My back spasms remind me of the way my cat twitches in her sleep... bless" "Geese and ducks could be the same animal, if only they were" "*Insert obscure musical quote here.*" I'm not saying these are bad updates, just a bit nonsensical.
Also included in this pack are the weirdly personal questions that could easily be answered via Google, Yelp, Yahoo or one of the other thousand ways of searching for something on the internet, but people instead choose to post to everyone they know. "Anyone know a good dry cleaner near Elm Street?" is a great question for a local residents group you may belong to. As for everyone you know? Well, since you live in Arizona and I live in New York, I am thinking that this is not the best way to get your question answered.
For all these nonsense posts, I suggest we stick with Tuesdays. And so, in the style of #TBT, I propose the "Day Of Nonsense Tuesday." So if you have to ask all of your friends "I think I might have ringworm, what are the symptoms?" First, make sure it's Tuesday and second, #DONT.

Next up: The random and irrelevant.
"Just got home from the dentist... pretty sweet!" "Chicken or fish for dinner? Choices, choices." "Going downstairs to get a bagel."
We all know who the culprits tend to be out of our friends, and yet these updates are so boring, so innocuous it doesn't necessarily seem worth it to out and out de-friend the person solely off the back of them. Hey, I like strawberry smoothies too, but I don't think I really care just how much you love strawberry smoothies... or maybe I would care more if I only had to hear about it one day of the week? Mundane Monday anyone? Perhaps keeping these posts all on one day will make us re-read what we are writing and think about whether or not anyone else needs to know. In most of these cases the answer is 'no, they do not.'
Do us all a favor and #MuMo so we know you know just how boring you can be.

I understand there may be some spillover on the inane posts. Those who can't resist a "hump day" reference can have Wednesdays too. 
While we're at it, you might as well save all your food porn photos for Wednesdays. Because, let's be honest, who gives a sh!t that you made white rice and turkey for dinner. I don't need to know that, or worse, see it. Maybe if the turkey was shaped like Elvis or the rice had something nasty buried in it, but just a photo of your dinner? I'm all set, thanks.
So, step three of this hashtag proposal is relegating the useless posts to Wednesdays only. We can call it "Status Overshare Wednesday: Home-cooking And Trivialities." 
So when you post: "Steve and I are watching Thor tonight on the couch." Don't forget the all important hashtag #SOWHAT.

And finally, for those of us prone to the odd Bragbook. I totally get it, sometimes you want everyone to know the cool, fun, interesting, unique or just plain flash thing you're doing. And sometimes you want to promote yourself or the latest accomplishment(s) you have achieved. But let's call a spade a spade. If you're showing me a picture of your new (and very nice car), or a status update on how hard it is to find anything in your new house because it's so big, or links to websites celebrating your superior intelligence, let's just admit that you are "Blatantly Reveling in your Arrogant Grandioseness." Make sure to include the hashtag so everyone knows what's what. "My husband bought me flowers and cooked me dinner tonight for no reason at all! Best. Hubby. Ever. #BRAG"

"Oh, did I mention that we bought a new car? Why yes, I have been working out!"**
In fact, this is a pretty fun game I am now going to play, and I invite you to join me... because playing with myself is not as fun as playing with others (tee hee... I said "playing with myself"). I have been saving up ridiculous updates for some time now and I will be releasing them into the world as randomly as they appeared in mine.
If you don't already, please follow me on Twitter @missspartacus
Yes, if you are familiar with my writing, you know I have a tough time with only 140 characters. But I can post random thoughts or stuff that no one gives a sh!t about quite concisely. So, from now on, each week I will be sending out one or more tweets with #MuMo #DONT or #SOWHAT, and of course the odd #BRAG every now and again. Some will be made up by me, others will be pilfered directly from my newsfeed if they're too good to pass up. I encourage everyone to get in on the game and hopefully these days and hashtags catch on. Our news feeds, nay our lives, will all be better off for it.

Hey, the feeds have gotten so boring, I needed to come up with something to do. This seems like a good enough use of my time.

First up: Tuesday September 9: "Hi all, should I bring toothpaste on my flight to St. Barts?" #DONT #BRAG

**This is neither me nor my car

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Public Service Announcement

Public Service Announcement: How NOT to respond to the announcement: “I’m pregnant!”

I have read several essays on the topic: "Things you shouldn't say to a pregnant woman." Today I would like to hone in on the precise moment of a pregnancy announcement. Just some helpful tips from your friend Miss Spartacus on what you should and should not say when someone gives you the very wonderful news about their pregnancy.

When someone tells you she is pregnant, please choose from the following list of approved initial responses:
1-"Congratulations!!" ("Mazel Tov" may also be appropriate and is also approved)
2-"That's great news!" OR "Yay!" 
3-"I'm so excited/happy for you." (If you are not that excited, or otherwise unimpressed, please just stick with #1)

You may then go on to other things like the inevitable asking of due dates, how the person is feeling, etc. If you must, you may then move on to providing unsolicited advice and the inevitable bevy of unfortunate information. You may not, under any circumstances, respond to the initial announcement with any of the following. 

The 10 worst ways to respond to someone telling you they are pregnant: (I know because these are some of the worst responses I have had the misfortune of receiving upon making my own special announcement)
For those of you that are pregnant and receive some of these responses, please see the appropriate response to each in parentheses directly following the comment. Even if you only say it in your head, it will alleviate some of your anger, trust me.

1-"Oh yeah, I've been thinking that for a while." (thanks, I’ve been thinking you’re a jerk for a while)
2-"And far along too, right?" (nope, but F you)
3-"Obviously."-this one includes a not quick enough glance down at my belly. (ouch)
4-"I knew it!" (well, aren't you clever... and a bit of an a$$hole)
5-"No sh!t." (go f#$% yourself)
Yes, 3, 4 and 5 are all virtually the same, but they each sting in their own unique way when delivered by different people.
6-"Twins?" (no you giant jerk-hole)
7-"I was gonna say something a few months ago when your face changed." (yikes. I'm only a few weeks pregnant so... ouch)
8-"Oh, that's why you look so puffy/tired/fat/haggard." (is it? Then what's your excuse?)
9-"Yes, your exhaustion is so apparent... are you getting any sleep?" (no, I'm not, but telling someone they look exhausted is mean, so F you)**
10-"Ah, that explains all the acne." (yes it does... oh and f#$% you too)

Special bonus: "Oh yeah, my husband pointed out your pooched out belly a few months ago. He tends to notice those things.” (A- my belly wasn't pooched out a few months ago, so ouch. B-If he notices stuff like that, your life must suck, so sorry about that. C-And oh yeah, just for good measure, F him.)

**This is a public service announcement within a public service announcement: There is no upside to telling anyone, pregnant or not, that they look tired. I'm not sure why people continue to do this, but it sucks and should cease immediately. Thank you for your cooperation.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Maine: The Way Life Should Be

I have been sharing my random thoughts on even more random topics with you all for almost two years now. I have dabbled in the "travel" blog sphere with my guides to Coachella, Sesame Place and London. But I would be doing you a disservice if I didn't at least begin to tell you about Maine. I say begin because it is an ongoing research project/labour of love for me, an annual revisiting in search of more fabulous finds for myself and my family... and now, by extension of this blog, you.

After many years of visiting Maine, I have a few places that I can't help but tell others to go to. My unofficial email guide lists have been sent to friends of friends and family alike when they make the best decision of their year: to visit Maine. Instead of me revising and resending, or in those instances where I have to completely rewrite it due to my own tech un-saaviness, here is my unofficial guide to Maine. It is unofficial mainly because it only deals with a tiny corner of Maine. Maine is a large state and there are many areas we have yet to visit, or that I have yet to find suggestible places in.

I should also probably qualify this list by saying that I am no expert on Maine. I am reminded of this fact every year when I return and find a new fantastic place that we add to our list of places we have to go back to that I am amazed we never went to before. So I will present this list with the caveat that I will most definitely be editing and adding places as I become aware of them. And I do look forward to my trips up there in order to discover new places and revisit the tried and trues. Apologies in advance for the length, but do you want a list or do you want the list? Exactly...

Maine is simply the best. It is laid back, easy, breathtakingly beautiful, casual, and lots and lots of fun. You go to Maine to detach and unwind. This doesn't mean excitement can't be found, of course it can. Maine can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you don't want it to be Miami. Aside from some hazy teenage nights spent in the raving cabins of the male staff of my camp, Maine has never been much like Miami.

But if you like beautiful beaches with frigid waters, gorgeous mountains and sightseeing, lobster and ice cream in offensive quanitities and the quaintest group of locals (Mainards, or Nards if you will), then you too will love Maine.

Maine is a little over a five hour drive from New York City and under two hours from Boston. Everyone seems to think it is much further because Maine is so large. Of course all points north are much further, but in my opinion you only need pass the sign to know you're in Maine. Any mileage past that sign is all part of your time in Maine and doesn't really count as travel time.
THE sign... sure I could re-use the same photo over and over, but instead I have to take a new one each year as we speed past on the highway

Before we actually get to Maine, there are a few places to stop at on your way up that you should know about. Specifically if you are driving up from points south of Connecticut. First, on I-84 there is super cheap gas off exit 1 as you cross into Massachusetts from Connecticut. It is a Pilot station and my husband didn't believe me when I told him it was so cheap. Since your next stop will be off exit 2 in Massachusetts, you might as well fill up on gas too. Time it so you are ready for breakfast or lunch when you hit exit 2, Sturbridge, or at least some heavy noshing.

Off exit 2 make a left at the former Hebert candy store (RIP) and a right either on the dirt road next to the Days Inn or on the proper road where you will find the Publick House, which dates back to 1771 (a note to my international readers... that's really old for stuff in America). The Bake Shoppe (you know it's good because it's spelled shoppe and not shop) has delicious baked goods and their own line of jams, jellies and relishes. If you don't have time to eat in their restaurant where they do yummy sandwiches and give you a basket of their muffins, sticky buns and date bread on the table, just stop into the Bake Shoppe and grab a coffee for the journey along with one of their famous sticky buns (I don't know if they are actually famous, or I just think they are because everyone I know loves them), pumpkin or blueberry muffins, mixed berry scones, custard danish rings, whoopie pies, corn sticks (ok, those may be just from my childhood, but they should bring them back if they no longer make them!) and if you aren't dining in, definitely get some of their clam chowder to go. It ranks in my all time top 3 clam chowders. Top 3 people... that's some seriously amazing stuff.

Ok, back on the road... As you hit New Hampshire you will see signs for the New Hampshire Liquor Store. It is a big red barn like building right off the highway with most brands of wine and alcohol at really good discounts. And when you spend over $100 (or $150, I'm not sure) you get a $25 gift card that can't be used that day, but can be used to pick up some alcohol on your way home. We did this and my husband not only got a very nicely discounted bottle of Johnny Walker blue to take home, but a $25 gift card to use next year on our ride up. It holds pride of placement in his wallet for 11 months until our drive up, lest he forget it somewhere at home.

A quick drive through New Hampshire brings you to the Piscataqua bridge... whether my husband remembers the name or not is a favorite trivia question as we ride up. Over the bridge, through the toll and you are in Maine... Look for THE sign on the right side if the road. Take a picture, send it to me, it never gets old. This place truly is the way life should be.

Just over the border is Kittery and some outlet shopping. If you like outlet shopping, I suggest heading further up to Freeport or over to North Conway, NH instead. Just a personal preference... Freeport is actually a cute little town and has a huge LL Bean, and you are in Maine after all. Do as the Nards do and suit up at LL Bean. (Yeah, I don't know if Nards actually wear LL Bean stuff, but I think they should. Flannel lined jeans make sense in the midst of a Maine winter.)

Take the Maine turnpike up to exit 7 for York beaches. Straight off the highway, literally straight through the traffic light on Route 1, is the Stonewall Kitchen store. This is a great place to stop for lunch, or just snacks and fun browsing. In addition to all of their yummy jams, sauces, toppings, mixes and marinades (most of which can be sampled while you walk around) they have a great selection of home goods, gadgets, accessories and serving pieces organized into vignettes throughout the store. If you have time for lunch, they have a cafe and indoor and outdoor seating available. I suggest the lobster BLT... You're in Maine, let the lobster eating commence! As I mentioned, in order to consume offensive quantities of ice cream and lobster, you gotta start early and keep em coming. The cafe also has lots of sandwiches (on delicious thick country bread), salads, baked goods, etc. and since I haven't said this yet, if you're on a diet, this guide is not for you. Don't go to Maine on a diet. It's like going to a waterpark in a full body cast... You won't be able to enjoy it the way it's supposed to be enjoyed. In the case of Maine, you are meant to enjoy it with your mouth full of good bad food.** (Just a reminder to all my readers: "Good bad food" is amazingly delicious food that you should absolutely eat, it just might not be the healthiest thing you ever put in your body... so not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good... just not good for you.)

Ok, got your garlic salad dressing and blueberry syrup? Artichoke piccata and polled pork simmering sauces? Great. Let's move on. We leave the Stonewall Kitchen store and head north on Route 1, turning right off of Route 1 towards York beach. If you're still full from lunch, walk around the village of York. There's some casual beach town candy and t-shirt shops. Just make sure you pop into The Kettle Boys popcorn place. Their flavors will overwhelm you with their variety. They do sample a selection of flavors each day, so try some out. Helpful tip, don't feel like you have to choose between salty and sweet, go for the "Sweet Cheeses" cheese covered caramel popcorn. It's better than the caramel covered cheese... don't ask me why, it just is. Oh, and get a packet of the Rocky Road out of the front glass case. It's sticky. I repeat: it's sticky. But so, so good. Another family favorite is the salt and vinegar. But as I said, try the ones they are sampling that day and choose your favorite: bacon, dill pickle, hot wing... lots to try, just make sure you get the ones I mentioned too.

Still a bit full? Time to drive up to the Nubble lighthouse for your traditional Maine photo shoot with a lighthouse and the sea in the background. It is a beautiful backdrop and at low tide you can climb down onto the rocks and take pictures down there.

Don't even think about leaving York without the main event: Brown's ice cream. Right around the corner from the lighthouse is Brown's ice cream. The ice cream is so delicious and comes in a silly amount of flavors. The servings are beyond generous. A small is anything but, and I am not sure which kiddies the kiddie cone is meant for, but even my ice cream lover needed a little help. Personally, I am a raspberry with chocolate chips kind of gal when I'm in Maine, but have obviously tried many of their other flavors. You seriously cannot go wrong.
Kiddie size!
Ok, now that you're good and stuffed, you can leave York.

Hopefully you made sleeping arrangements long before you decided to head up to Maine because July and August are pretty busy and most places book up months in advance (though it is always worth calling and checking for last minute cancellations/date gaps between bookings).

We split our stay between Kennebunkport and Ogunquit. Kennebunkport is every bit the quaint, preppy village one would expect with the Bush family compound just down the road. Ogunquit is not quite as polished, but every bit as fun (considering the gay nightlife, it is arguably way more fun!)

In Kennebunkport we stay at Hidden Pond. It is a resort/compound/camp-like setting with a bunch of free standing cottages/bungalows throughout the wooded grounds. It feels like camp, if camp was air-conditioned with every amenity you could ever need and more. The main house has a pool, bar and is the site of the nightly campfire/s'mores making. Most of the cottages have two bedrooms, full kitchen, washer/dryer, outdoor shower (along with the indoor ones, not instead of), screened in porch, living room, tv/cable, etc. The bungalows are meant for two people and also have screened in porches.

They truly have thought of everything and do their best to make you feel like you need nothing. They leave the fridge stocked with water, juice, milk, butter and cheese and every morning drop off a basket of freshly baked goodies along with a thermos of coffee and the newspaper. It is full service in a way some fall short. The spa is spectacularly set into the trees. They have a functioning garden where you can pick carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, etc. for your own personal consumption or flowers for your own personal enjoyment. They have a bike shed where guests can borrow bikes on a daily basis. They offer yoga, art classes, kid craft classes and paddle boarding, along with other daily activities.

The restaurant on the property, Earth is a literal interpretation of the whole farm-to-fork thing with the garden's produce featuring nightly. Weather permitting, there are some great pond-side table options for dining at Earth, although inside is quite beautiful too. It is a good looking restaurant with food to match. Don't miss the snacks on the menu; shishito peppers, meatballs, chicken wings and also the crab toast and nudi. If you're imbibing (and why wouldn't you be? Even if you couldn't manage the short walk back to your cottage, they can send the shuttle for you) don't miss the Moscow Mule cocktail or for those wanting to be a bit tamer, the white sangria.

If the luxury-camp setting isn't for you, they have plenty of other sister properties to choose from including the Grand Hotel located in the town of Kennebunkport or the Tides, their beachfront property. Hidden Pond provides shuttles to the Tides for a great day down at the beach. Goose Rocks Beach is not only a spectacular Maine beach, but you just can't beat not having to lug all your chairs, towels, etc. Full service exists for a reason people... treat yourself! For some of their other properties: KRC. I'm not saying these are the only places to stay, I'm just saying that I've stayed here and it rocked.

After dinner, if the Moscow Mules haven't kicked your butt, hop in the car and head around the corner to Goose Rocks Dairy, open daily til around 10pm. Their ice cream is delicious, and though I was heartbroken that they didn't make their Purple Cow flavor last year (black raspberry with white and dark chocolate chunks), the salted caramel chocolate pretzel made me forget all about that silly cow pretty quickly. We get pints to-go with cones and jimmies (that's what I call sprinkles when I'm in Maine... deal with it), and bring them back to the hotel for late night sundae sessions.

Definitely set out some time to explore and enjoy the town of Kennebunkport. Every year we discover a new (to us) place that we then add to our list of places we HAVE to go to each year. This is why each year we extend our trip by one day, just to fit it all in. Last year we discovered the Clam Shack... seeing all the awards on their wall, it's pretty obvious we're a little late to this party, but better late than never. They do some damn tasty fried clams (whole belly all the way!) and a magnificent round lobster roll... that's right, it's round. Why more people haven't caught on to this round thing is beyond us. I am the kind of person that ranks lobster rolls, and this one is way up near the top of my list of faves.

Another great lunch or casual dinner in Kennebunkport is at the Ramp. It's a bit more out of the way, but well worth it with generous portions and a charming (that means cozy, which also means small) setting right on the water. Good picture taking down the dock by all the lobster nets while you wait for a table.

Another new place we tried last year was 50 Local, in "downtown" Kennebunk, which is a bit further inland. It is a true neighborhood joint, which is good once you get over the initial shock of not feeling like you're at the beach anymore.

Kennebunkport has your obligatory slew of t-shirt shops and candy stores, and they also have several cute boutiques so leave yourself some time to walk the town. Right in the center of town is the Kennebunkport Inn and their restaurant One Dock which is yummy and way more kid friendly than I was expecting, which is always a very nice treat.

After a few glorious days in Kennebunk, we decamp (pun intended) down to Ogunquit. Ogunquit has a ton of hotels to choose from. There are options from extremely kid friendly to adults only. We stay at the Anchorage, not because it is the nicest hotel in Ogunquit, but because it marries all of our priorities: great location (between "downtown" and Perkins Cove), pool on site with a restaurant, and rooms that have slowly been updated over the past few years and will hopefully continue to be over the next few years. Stay on the Ocean side. No offense to the Towers, but it's all happening on the Ocean side. Now, the layout is extremely motel like in its execution, in fact I should probably call it a motel, but I feel that there is a stigma attached there, and it's definitely nicer than what most would expect from a motel. That being said, the rooms all run in a row (wait, don't all hotel rooms do that?) and if you get saddled with two rooms of a particularly loud family on either side of you, you're screwed. Hopefully that won't happen to you, or anyone really. That really sucks.

But first we must get there, and while you could take bendy side roads down from Kennebunkport, I suggest Route 1 for all your dining needs. First there is the Maine Diner, which has been featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, so it's hardly a best-kept secret. It is, however, as any restaurant featured on DD&D, a good place for a good feed. Amazing breakfast options, delicious chowders, and depending on the time of day you're there, well it's a diner, they are sure to have something for you.

A bit further down on Route 1 between Kennebunk and Ogunquit you will find Congdon's donuts. Like lobster rolls, I am also a bit of a donut ranker. These guys are good. Go early in the day to maximize the selection, as they offer over 30 flavors and varieties. They also have cinnamon buns, whoopee pies, muffins, etc. So get your baked good on here. There's a restaurant for those that want to linger for breakfast or a drive-thru for those that need their fix on the run. I suggest going in and waiting in line as that gives you ample time to eye-up all the flavors on offer that day. I'm not gonna tell you what to do, as only you know what flavors you like, but I will just say this: blueberry, butter crunch, chocolate coconut, apple fritter, bavarian creme, maple creme, powdered creme... ok, any of the cremes, and chocolate crunch. But as I said, go with what appeals to you... if you're allergic to coconut, don't get the chocolate coconut and then come complaining to me. Run your own race buddy.

Heading back down to Ogunquit on Route 1 you will hit the Ogunquit Lobster Pound. This is my favorite place to get whole lobster. Yes, I said it. I didn't cushion myself with a Top 5 or Top 10 ranking... my favorite. Possibly there is weight given to nostalgia, and since I've been coming here since before I can actually remember, there is lots of that mixed in. But the whole experience, from getting to hang by the lobster tank while you wait for your table to going and picking your lobster (a tradition that is both barbaric and sweet, assuming you are not Vegan and would do such a thing to begin with) is perfect. If you are the type of person that does not squeal at the notion of condemning a lobster to death (or also having the incredible power of pardoning a lobster for being too small), this is THE place for lobster. It's not fancy, although it's pretty highbrow for Maine. There's wood chairs and tables, the better for messing up as you slather melted butter on your river water steamed red gemstone (trust me, the secret to their tastiness lies in that there water, no matter how gross that actually sounds). Their only misstep, and one I can only chock up to stubbornness disguised as tradition, is that they don't do corn on the cob as a side. I have considered bumping them down to a Top 3 ranking for this offense, but the lobster is just so damn tasty, I can't bring myself to do it. Instead find a combo of baked beans, cole slaw, fries, veggie or baked potato (yawn!) that works for you. But save room for the blueberry pie a la mode. It's probably not the best you will find in Maine, but it is the perfect dessert after lobster, so do it.

The last place you hit on Route 1 before the turn onto Shore Road in Ogunquit is Bintliff's. This place seems to have lost their mo-jo in recent years, as I never think they're as crowded as they should be. But that could be in part due to the fact that we're not really early risers and probably "brunch" timing isn't the done thing up there... people actually do breakfast. Regardless of timing, this place has a cute boudoir-y feel to it and the food is noteworthy. Since I'm in the mood to be doling out "favorite" tags, I will say this is my favorite corned beef hash anywhere. The beef is corned in-house and they give you hearty chunks atop a veggie laden, well-salted potato hash. No mini-cubes of questionable origin here. It's all real food and real delicious. Their veggie hash is also really good, and has the unique distinction of being one of very few veggie dishes I have ever recommended. For the "sweet for breakfast" people, you can sample the oatmeal encrusted cinnamon raisin french toast and the gingerbread pancakes with lemon sauce, but please, for the love of all that is sweet for breakfast, get the creme brûlée french toast. It is fairly unbelievable as the entire surface is covered in the creme. It might be too much for you, but there's only one way to find out... find out. And to help balance all that sweet, treat yourself to one of their bloody Mary's. They are good. Possibly too good. Definitely too good if the four adults at your table have a few too many despite the three kids they have to look after... but that's an "if." Who would actually let that happen?

Once down in Ogunquit proper, feel free to pahhk the cahh (yes, it's not just a Masshole thing, the Nards do it too) cause it's all within walking distance, or assuming you've eaten too much, a fun trolley ride. The trolleys in Ogunquit all rhyme with Polly, yet Polly is the most elusive of the breed. I learned this the hard way when I put "Find Polly trolley" on a scavenger hunt I made for my nephew when he was 7 and had to deal with a heartbroken kid when, despite three rainy-ish days where we took the trolleys everywhere, and despite seeing Rolly, Molly, Holly and Jolly up the wazoo, that little temptress Polly never showed her face, and by face I mean name plate on the front end of the trolley. Damn you Polly!

But how to attack Ogunquit? How about logistically. The "downtown" portion of Ogunquit that I refer to is the intersection of Route 1 (Main St.), Shore Rd. and Beach St. Beach Street takes you to, duh!, the beach. Shore Road takes you to Perkins Cove. The beach is great but SUPER crowded. There's also a massive tide meaning you have to actually be aware of high tide when planning your beach outing and be prepared to move if you're too close to the water when the tide is heading in.

On Main Street there is a delicious bakery called Bread and Roses that does great breads, pies, cakes, pastries, cookies, bars, etc. I don't know if they do gluten free stuff. This isn't that type of guidebook and I'm not that kind of guide. For those gluten tolerant of you (that I haven't made intolerant after Congdon's donuts), this place is ripe with gluten-filled goodness.

On that same stretch of Main Street is a supermarket... well it's a market, and it's super for a beach town. Good place to stock up on water and more snacks for the room. Yes, somehow, despite spending my days going from bakery to ice cream place to lobster shack, I'm pretty big on snacks for the room. For this and many other reasons, I have come to accept that I will never be a size 0. Or 2. Or 4. Or 6 or 8. Ok, you get the point. There is also a fancy schmancy candy store and a toy store that is a nice way to suck two hours of your trip away from you if you make the mistake of letting your kids inside. Just kidding. It's a great store. Just give your kids a quick hit of Ritalin and proceed. They may have even managed to pick something by dinnertime.

Heading down the Shore Road, past the Anchorage (which does some tasty frozen beverages by the pool, I should add), you will come across Cafe Amore... no, thats what it used to be called when it was in its shack-y other location across the street. Now it's all swanky in shiny new digs at the big bend in the road and it's called Amore Breakfast. They give you coffee while you wait, but I think they might charge you for it now (ah, the times they are a changin'). The breakfast here is good and walking distance, though I would rank Bintliff's and Maine Diner above it. If you don't feel like schlepping though, it's yummy and nearby most of the Ogunquit hotels.

There are actually two ways of getting from Main Street to Perkins Cove: Shore Road and the Marginal Way. The Marginal Way is a sidewalk set atop the cliffs and bluffs that runs along the shoreline, behind the hotels and houses and is the most scenic, picturesque route there. It could take up to an hour, depending on your walking speed, but I feel like I've given you more than enough food which you should have to walk off by now, might as well do it.

For those of you sticking to Shore Road either on foot or via trolley, head past the bend all the way down into Perkins Cove. Barnacle Billy's will appear on your left and is a great restaurant with several al fresco options. Delicious lobster rolls, onion rings and blueberry pie. They have two restaurants side by side, Barnacle Billy's and Barnacle Billy's etc. I don't remember the difference, but I think it's the breadth of the offerings exceeds one or the other. Ask at the door to be safe. They also have an ice-cream window around into the cove by the trolley stop. Their ice cream is delicious and overlooks the boats. Hey, why not.

Across the parking lot is Oarweeds, another lobster pound style (wood tables, wood benches) place. This is where you will hit Perkins Cove if you walked on the Marginal Way, or conversely, this is where you can begin your walk from Perkins Cove on the Marginal Way to either Main Street or the beach. The food is good, family friendly. It really depends on how many days you're there and how much lobster you can truly handle. They do a baked lobster dish that I find too dry, but some of my traveling partners enjoy for being "not steamed lobster" at the end of a long haul of a trip.

Walk down past the rocks and parking lot and you're in Perkins Cove. Another enclave of ice cream, t-shirt, and toy shops. There are also art galleries, the nice restaurant MC and my favorite candy shop in Ogunquit, Perkins Cove Candies... look for the trumpeting jockey outside. Nostalgia may again play a large part in my choice of favorite, but so be it. I used to fill those plastic buckets with "penny" candy in my youth, seeing how far I could make my $5 day-trip loot stretch on Mary Janes, candy buttons (before I realized that I was eating paper with my candy and it was a waste of my precious time), candy cigarettes (before we stopped pretending to smoke to be cool), taffy, those stale cones with an even staler marshmallow inside that looks like an ice cream, blow pops and if you managed to eek it out, maybe also a tiny sliver of fudge. Yummy. It always blew my mind how they would dump the bucket and the lady ringing you up would do the math (.10 + .05 + .20....) so quickly and ring you up coming precisely to the pre-determined amount you had spent an hour selecting candy to get to. Anyway...

Appealing to the gourmets out there (and well done to you folks for making it so far into this list of good bad food), there is MC restaurant. The menu does a better job at describing their spin on farm-to-table, gourmet beach dining, so I will let it. It's a scenier restaurant, but they are still kid friendly, at an appropriate time of course. Another way to fit more lobster in when you're sick of lobster rolls and fresh steamed lobster: lobster mac and cheese... genius, and delicious. And my old love chicken under a brick, for those of you that have passed your fill of lobster. Tasty apps, wonderful sides, a great view over the rocky bluff of the cove, it's just a great restaurant.

There is more to Maine than just those southern beach towns. Portland is a fabulous town. It's small, despite being the main city, yet packs a lot into those city streets. The Old Port is the "cute little area you should definitely walk around." There are also boat trips that leave from the bottom of the sloped streets. Great shopping, good bars... what more could you want?

Portland is so up and coming of a gourmet scene that I believe it is up and has come. Portland is what most people talk about when they talk about Maine (hence why I felt the need to shed some good bad foodie light on all the other spots), but if you're heading to Portland, do not miss Fore Street. It is an amazing open kitchen restaurant with hella-good (yup, I just used that phrase) mussels. I mean, skip the basket and bring us the whole damn loaf so we can soak up every last drop of that mussel broth stat. So good.

There are a ton of James Beard recognized and nationally celebrated chefs and restaurants that make up the Portland scene. I haven't been to most of them, but I have been to Duckfat, a tiny cafe offering up soups, sandwiches, milkshakes and Belgian fries fried in what else? Duck fat. But skip the fries and homemade mayos and go straight for the Poutine. I'm not Canadian, I don't know what Poutine is truly supposed to be, but if it's not this then they need to re-name this as something else that is freaking amazing and everyone loves. My guess is, it's pretty good Poutine.

For those of you with a kid at camp in the Sebago Lake region (Naples [or if you're me at camp when I was 11, "Nipples"], Bridgton, Windham, Casco, Saco, Standish, etc.) that have to travel route 302 to get there, leave a few minutes early so you have time to stop at Chute's, a family-run country kitchen serving the un-fanciest, most delicious breakfast sandwich out there. Egg and cheese with bacon or sausage (or if you're my husband and me, one of each... naturally!) on their round country toast. Sounds so simple, so I must implore you to try to prove how un-simple simple can taste. They also do a whopper of a cinnamon bun that I always manage to forget about, but thankfully my sister always remembers to order. We tend to go "to-go" since we're usually on our way to visiting day, but dining in will not leave you disappointed as the hashes and items that don't travel quite as well as the sandwiches are delicious too.

Every year we look at the bevy of "ethnic" restaurants and make the joke of: how many days would we have to be here to go for something other than lobster/American food. Last year we got pizza one night, which was crazy. Who knows, we might have a great Thai or Mexican place to add to the list next year as we are staying one additional day. I have two new restaurants we will be trying out this year, so always check back as this list will be ever-evolving.

Please feel free to pass it on to anyone you know heading up to Maine that you believe may like it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Cleanse my a$$

Over the past few years I randomly get updates from various friends and acquaintances who have taken the initiative to "cleanse." I hear about all the positive effects they experience both during and after. Juice cleanses, detoxes, colon blasts... whatever it is, they're all, "I feel SOOOO great!" and "Whoa! What to do with all this energy??" and "I'm never eating bad sh!t again... Go me!" As happy as I am for them and their successes (not really), I must say it here and now...

What a crock.

You see, I've been on a detox since the end of January. No booze of any kind, no smoking, no caffeine, no soda, no raw meat or fish, no unpasteurized cheese. I've cut back on processed foods and refined sugars, increased both my exercise and sleep time and I have never felt worse.... Yes, I said worse. This cleansing thing must be some sort of hoax.

I'm tired all the time, my skin is terrible, I have no energy at all, nothing tastes great, but I am constantly hungry (not much of a change there actually). My gums are bleeding, my head aches, my nose is always runny. I don't even get that added bonus of the normal cleanse, everyone checking you out and saying how great you look, because I am only getting thicker around the middle.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that detoxed or not, I am pregnant.

Oh yes, thank you, it's wonderful, but my goodness, it really makes me see those cleanses from a whole other side. The "F this" side. I understand why I can't drink or smoke or do drugs, but what I don't understand is why we have to live in a world where deli meat is so dangerous. Momma just wants a salami sandwich, and not one that I have to microwave first... ew!

The most noticeable side effect of my "detox" has been wanting everything I can't or shouldn't have. Street meat for example: oh, if only I was one of those ladies who was turned off by weird smells like that, but no. For some reason that wafting scent of miscellaneous spices, char and salmonella tempts me every time. And they're only on every street corner now that it's nice out. I shouldn't be tempted, but I am.

I don't miss the caffeine (after about a week of horrendous headaches), couldn't really care less about fizzy drinks, and even the soft cheeses are fairly easy to navigate around. Sometimes, however, I see a tartar on a menu, any type really: salmon, tuna, steak, and I am suddenly overcome with a desire to get that raw meat in my belly. The weird part is when I realize that I don't really crave tartar when I can eat it, what's going on here? What the hell? I blame you, cleanse.

Oh, and what about that boost of energy I'm supposed to get from exercising? Where exactly is that? I am forcing myself to work out despite my newfound fatigue, but to no avail. By work out I mean walking or riding the bicycle to nowhere in the gym on a good day or strolling to the restaurant across the street instead of ordering it in on the other six days. But whatever the level of exercise, I just feel completely exhausted afterwards. Like, narcoleptic exhausted. This leads me to believe this is yet another hoax and I can no longer believe the hype.

My lesson from all this is definitely misguided, but I believe it 100% based on my own experience: don't buy into all these health fads and trends. I don't feel like I need to eat healthier, because that doesn't really do anything for me. No, clearly I just need to go for it and (over)indulge when I can, read: when I'm not creating a new life within. It seems crazy for me to make all these sacrifices when I know the future consists of watching the kid eating cheese off the ground and licking the swing chains at the park (if the big kid is any indication), but I'm doing it anyway.

All I can say is, come November, look out. I'll be sure to update you all on how great I'm doing eating fistfuls of potentially dangerous cold cuts and chasing em down with raw tuna and full-caf lattes. To each his own cleanse.

Soon we will be reunited my friends. Until then it's gonna be one long, hard summer missing you.

Anyone have a favorite thing that you know is bad for you, but you do anyway? Reality TV doesn't count. Please share and let me know so I can forgive myself if when I slip up.