February 8th, 2012

He Who Smelt It Dealt It

Yesterday, picking my son up from school, I had to wait while he finished a conversation with a friend. It went like this:

Son’s friend: (farting loudly) “Wow, that was a good one! Can you smell that?”
Son: “Dude, you’re not supposed to fart in front of other people unless you’re married to them! ‘Cuz wives are nice people, and they’ll love you anyway.”

So, word to the Venomous Hubby: we’ll be having chili with beans for dinner tonight. See how much I love you?

 
 


February 6th, 2012

The Taming of the Brows

One thing about being a stay-at-home mom: personal maintenance takes a back seat. Oh, I know I could claim that my life is all about my kid, which would make “letting myself go” sound far more saintly. But the truth of the matter is that my appearance just doesn’t matter like it used to; my forays into public consist of driving to and from school (at which point sunglasses and a slap of lipgloss suffice), and the occasional trek to the grocery store, pediatrician’s office, or karaoke night at the local bar (all of which require that I actually change out of pajamas).

And yet, sometimes it just gets to me… the unkempt hair, the complexion that looks like I’ve been washing my face with a Brillo pad, the eyebrows that look more like caterpillars facing off for battle above my nose. Seriously, thanks to the Iranian part of my heritage, if I don’t keep on them at least every few weeks, I start looking like this guy:

Not a pretty sight.

So, the other day I got a wild hair (I mean that literally, since bikini waxes are something else I seldom make time for) and decided I simply had to put down the bon-bons and get my ass off the sofa make time for personal maintenance. I shaved. I exfoliated. I oiled, steamed, filed, buffed and polished. I even picked up a home highlighting kit and decided to give myself a few sunny streaks to liven things up while I grow out the short “Mom haircut” I got a few months ago. Besides, I figure, highlights would hide just how much gray I’m getting up there.

Well, it turns out, I’m not just getting gray hair on top of my head. (No, this is not where I write about using a home hair-coloring kit to tint the downstairs carpet. I solved that little problem with a big jug of Nars, thank you.) My eyebrows are getting gray, too! Egads, is there no end to the indignity of middle age? So, after a stiff shot of vodka (which, by the way, tastes like crap in one’s morning coffee), I dusted off my tweezers and magnifying mirror and settled down by a sunny window to take care of business.

That was Mistake Number One. Because those mirrors? Oh, man. Every pore, every broken capillary, every wrinkle, flake and itty bitty hair looks ginormous. It’s enough to make one cry, really. Or to dump out half the coffee and replace it with even more vodka.

Turns out, drinking alcohol is not a smart thing to drink before deciding that waxing an arch into one’s eyebrows might be a good idea, since alcohol increases blood flow to the skin, and hot wax combined with increased blood flow to the skin leads to big, nasty looking scabs when you rip the wax off. Also, a lot of swearing.

By that point, the kitchen timer was telling me it was time to rinse the highlight solution out of my hair, but I was too busy mopping up the rivulets of blood flowing down the bridge of my nose and settling into the massively enlarged pores on my cheeks. So I grabbed an ice cube, telling myself I’d rinse my hair just as soon as I staunched the bleeding.

Naturally, I forgot all about the time. Apparently, drinking coffee mugs full of vodka will do that to you.

It wasn’t until an hour later — yes, an HOUR — when my husband and son came home from wherever it is males go when it’s time to do family chores on a Saturday. And there I was, puttering in the kitchen, my gait decidedly bow-legged (hey, YOU try waxing your crotch at home for the first time in years and see if you don’t walk funny, too!) with folded wads of tin foil sticking out from my head like shingles and the skin above my nose finally starting to scab.

And they said nothing. Not one word. Because, although I’ve apparently failed to train them to help out with household chores, they’ve somehow trained themselves not to comment negatively about my appearance… even when it’s much deserved. (It’s possible my shrieking temper tantrums when they’ve pointed out that my pajamas seem to be getting too snug again may have had something to do with this.)

Flash forward several more minutes to when the third mug of coffee with vodka (hold the coffee) hit my system. My bladder about to burst, I dashed to the bathroom to pee where, of course, I saw my reflection and screamed, not because of the huge red welt and dark scab between my brows, but because the damn highlighting foils were STILL there!

Convinced my hair was going to break off in chunks, leaving me once again with hair short enough to prompt strangers to assume I had gender identification issues, I carefully unfolded the bits of foil and found… perfection. Carmel and honey-colored streaks the shade that my stylist, despite repeated efforts, never obtained without first taking my hair platinum and then trying to disguise the damage (and frazzled ends) with toner. Beautiful, pretty streaks that added volume to my hair and, most importantly, disguised the gray. Streaks that were, in fact, so gorgeous I wanted to style my hair and go out somewhere to show off how awesome it looks.

So, after dabbing on aloe and a thick layer of foundation in an effort to conceal my eyebrow-waxing mishap, I suggested to my husband and son that we all go somewhere, maybe for a nice lunch at a restaurant we’d been wanting to try.

And darned if they didn’t immediately remember that it’s Family Chore day, and that they needed to tackle their bathroom, clean the garage, wash and vacuum the cars and rake leaves in the yard. Since I’d finished all of my own chores, they said, I should take some time for myself to do something relaxing, like maybe take a long bubble bath followed by a nap. In hindsight, their sudden interest in doing chores can probably be attributed to the fact that, thanks to three cups of vodka laced with coffee, I probably looked a lot like this:

But who cares, right? I not only got time to tame my eyebrows but ALSO time for a nice, hot bubble bath and a nap…which, thanks to the vodka, occurred simultaneously.

 
 
 

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December 31st, 2011

My Venomous New Year’s Resolutions

This is the first year in memory that I’m making New Year’s Resolutions. But, as I’ve realized recently: we either grow as people, or we just grow to be old people. So here’s my list; ambitious it is not:

1. I will plan to blog more often.
2. I will try to eat more veg and less processed foods
3. I will do my best to “get” Twitter.
4. I will make time to exercise on weekdays.
5. I will drink less.
6. I will work at resisting change less.
7. I will read more stuff that makes me seem smarter.
8. I will think less negatively.
9. I will remind myself that every asshole has a momma who sees something special in him/her.
10. I will try to be nicer to my husband when he’s not pissing me off.


December 31st, 2011

Kim Harrison’s “A Perfect Blood” Is Bloody Good Fun!

Long time fans of Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series — and I’m certainly one of them! — have much to rejoice about in her latest, A Perfect Blood. Harrison’s ability to craft an engrossing, multi-layered plot just keeps getting stronger. As for the characters we’ve all come to know and love, they’re all here:
 

  • Our strong, yet vulnerable heroine, Rachel Morgan, who continues to grapple with the knowledge that she’s the demon’s only hope to save their species.
  • Rachel’s roommate and best friend, Ivy, a sexy vampire who is literally a femme fatale.
  • Jenks, the chivalrous and defiant Pixy who is the third member of the Vampiric Charms detective agency with Rachel and Ivy.
  • Algaliarept, otherwise known as Al, the demon who’s been both Rachel’s mentor and tormentor for years.
  • Glenn, the human FIB detective who’s been in Rachel’s corner for years and now, much to Rachel’s surprise, is also in Ivy’s bed.
  • The loveable yet awkward Bis, a teenage gargoyle who’s moved into the tower in the church where Rachel, Ivy and Jenks live.
  • And last, but certainly not least, Trent Kalamack, the capitalist/politician Elf whose complicated relationship with Rachel has kept the sparks flying throughout the series.

When we last saw Rachel, she’d surrendered her ability to practice ley line magic out of fear that an angry Al would trap her in the Everafter where, due to her demonic genetics, she could single-handedly (womb-edly?) save the demons as the only one capable of giving birth to more of them. But a witch without her magic is vulnerable in ways even Morgan couldn’t imagine, though she quickly discovers just how great of a danger she’s placed herself as she’s hired to investigate murders committed by HAPA (Humans Against Paranormals Association), a militant human group bent on destroying all the magical species.

But practicing ley line magic isn’t the only thing Morgan’s isolated from. Jenks continues to recover from the loss of his wife, thanks in part to the attentions of a fairy warrior named Belle, while Ivy continues to solidify her romance with Glenn. Even Bis has someone to keep him company in the form of Wayde, a werewolf hired by Rachel’s step-father to act as her bodyguard. With her friends moving on with their own lives, and maturing in ways that she has rejected out of fear of getting hurt again, Rachel is forced to confront how her emotional shields have not only isolated her from finding love but, thanks to HAPA, might very well lead to her own destruction.

[Read more of my review at Amazon.com where you can pre-order your copy of Kim Harrison’s A Perfect Blood (The Hollows, Book 10) to lock in Amazon’s low price guarantee before it’s release date on February 21, 2012.]

Sadly, here’s something Kim Harrison told me on her Facebook page when I mentioned how excited I was to receive my advance copy of A Perfect Blood: “I hope you like it, Kate!!!! I’m starting to set up the last book…” As someone who pretty much drops everything to read Harrison’s books as soon as I get my grubby hands on them, I have to say those were the very first words of her that I didn’t like. Then again, I’m fairly certain I’m going to enjoy whatever project she pens next. I just hope it’s soon!

 
 

December 21st, 2011

5 Last-Minute, Mostly Handmade, Gifts For Under $10

Are you avoiding your phone, turning down invitations, and refusing to answer the door rather than get caught without a gift for someone at the last minute? If you’re willing to shell out for overnight shipping, it’s not too late to shop from my list of 10 Types of Great Gifts for Under $20.

But maybe, like so many of us, you’re in the giving spirit but so strapped for money you feel you can’t afford anything nice? Don’t fret. Here are five last-minute, mostly handmade gifts you can put together for under $10 a piece, and I’m not talking crap that someone will throw away, either!

1. A luxurious spa set for your lady friends.

Whip up some Gingerbread Body Scrub with a few spices from your kitchen, a neutral oil (olive oil works!) and some brown sugar for under $1. In another bowl, shake the same spices together with 1 lb. of Epsom salts ($1.50). Put both in pretty containers, print or write a nice tag, and put them in a box or basket with a loofah ($3) and a pretty ivory-colored pillar candle ($3) from Wal-mart. Voila, a treat for the senses and skin!

2. An art set for creative kids.

Pick up crayons ($0.50), watercolor paints ($1.00), and a ream of blank paper ($3.90) from the dollar store. While you’re there, grab five or six packets of unsweetened Kool-Aid or similar drink mix ($0.10 each). Make a batch of Kool-Aid Playdough and package it in small containers which you can get at the dollar store for $0.50, or well-scrubbed jars. (I save jars from pimientos and marinated artichoke hearts all year for this.) Put them all together in a box or basket and present it to the little artist to keep him/her entertained for hours.

3. Goodies for Guys.

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Guess what? The way to making him happy on Christmas starts there, too! If you’ve got a guy you need an inexpensive gift for, it’s as simple as finding a large container (oatmeal containers are perfect for this) or picking one up from the store. Make a batch of microwave fudge and some microwave peanut brittle. (Note: if he or anyone in his household has a peanut allergy, make the brittle with some other kind of nut like cashews, or even shelled sunflower seeds!) Alternate layers of them in the container, separating each with some wax paper, and put a label on it that declares it’s all his, because if there’s one thing guys like more than goodies it’s not having to share them!

4. Cocoa for Co-Eds.

College kids are a hungry lot, but many of their dorms don’t allow any kind of cooking more complicated than using a microwave. Know how many would turn down a box filled with yummy things to suit those midnight munchies? None! So whip up a batch of homemade cocoa mix (ingredients cost $4.70) and put it in a pretty jar. In a second jar, combine a box of angel food cake mix with a box of chocolate cake mix ($2.75), then attach a printed card telling them how to make Cake in a Cup by adding 1/3 cup of the cake mix and 3 tbsp. of water in a large coffee mug sprayed with Pam and microwave it for 90 seconds. Bonus points if you throw in a pretty mug for them to use, too!

5. Pamper The Parents.

Oh, sure, everyone knows how tough it is for couples to take time off from their roles as parents and reconnect with each other. And, of course, we all make noises about how important that is, but unless the couple has family living nearby or a reliable babysitter (do those even exist?), it’s just a lot of empty talk. So imagine how much the pair would appreciate if you gave them a $25 gift voucher (that’ll only set you back $10) from Restaurant.com to a nearby dining spot AND you insisted on watching their kids while they went out for a nice dinner together… alone. As a mom who hasn’t had a Date Night with my husband in almost two years now, trust me, a gift like that is worth its weight in diamonds. Really!

 
 

December 21st, 2011

5 Creepy Christmas Carols That Aren’t Jolly At All

We listen to a lot of Christmas carols here in the Venomous Household, starting Thanksgiving night. They play while we haul out and decorate the Christmas tree. They’re on throughout the hours I spend in the kitchen baking Christmas cookies and giftable goodies. I listen to them every evening as I sit in front of the fire, reading, while VH watches yet another football game or rerun of the X-Files.

But, despite the abundance of stations in our area that insist on playing nothing but Christmas music throughout the month of December, I refuse to listen to them on the car radio. Why? Because, as a person who actually pays attention to lyrics rather than just humming along, there are so very many crappy Christmas tunes that irritate the hell out of me. In fact, I’ve been known to leap over cats and small items of furniture in my dash across the room to stop these tunes from playing, they irritate me that much.

1. Baby it’s Cold Outside

Her: “I simply must go.” Him: “Baby, it’s cold outside.”
Her: “The answer is no.” Him: “Ooh baby, it’s cold outside.”
Her: “This welcome has been…. (Him: “I’m lucky that you dropped in!) …so nice and warm.
Him: “Look out the window at that storm.”
Her: “My sister will be suspicious.” Him:”Man, your lips look so delicious.”
Her: “My brother will be there at the door.” Him:”Waves upon a tropical shore.”
Her: “My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious.” Him: “Gosh your lips are delicious.”
Her: “Well maybe just a half a drink more….”

Seriously, Bub, she said the answer was NO and the conversation should’ve ended there. But what happens instead? Guy starts creepin’ on girl and, already possessing slutty inclinations (notice how she dropped in at his place, uninvited) she starts changing her mind then asks for booze to justify giving in to him. It’s the theme song for horny frat boys and the slutty college girls who can’t handle their liquor! Not surprisingly, it was written by Dean Martin who pretty much embodied a horny, drunken frat boy all the way until his death at 78,

2. It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year,
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you “Be of good cheer”.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
It’s the hap-happiest season of all,
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call —
It’s the hap- happiest season of all!

Kids ringing bells all over the place? That is NOT my idea of a wonderful time of the year. In fact, it’s pretty much my idea of hell. Oh, and being instructed to “be of good cheer” regardless of what someone might be going through? Last I checked, having one’s feelings and experiences negated and dismissed by others is one of the causes of low self-esteem and, ultimately, severe clinical depression. If that’s how the songwriters, Eddie Pola and George Wyle, treated their loved ones this time of year, I can only assume they were horribly toxic, superficial people.

3. Walking In A Winter Wonderland

In the meadow we can build a snowman
Then pretend he is Parson Brown.
He’ll say are you married? We’ll say, “No, man.
But you can do the job when you’re in town.”

Apparently, nothing says “I love you” around this time of year quite like deciding to hold a mock marriage ceremony officiated by a golem made out of ice. Unless, perhaps, it’s later pretending after the ceremony that the snowman is now a circus clown but who cares if you’ve already consummated your marriage with a roll in the snow, right?

4. Santa Baby

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing: a ring.
I don’t mean a phone,
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight!

Oh, the ways this song annoys me!* The woman demands a fur coat, a convertible, a yacht, the deed to a platinum mine, all because she hasn’t been as much of a whore this year as she could have been? Who the hell would want to put a ring on that finger?!

*(Yes, yes, I know Eartha Kitt was iconic, her life a true rags-to-riches (back to rags) story, a unique talent, blah blah blah. Sorry, but I can’t stand her voice. And Madonna’s cover of it is no better…plus it requires listening to Madonna.)

5. Frosty The Snowman

He was made of snow,
But the children know
How he came to life one day:
There must’ve been some magic in that old silk hat they found.
For, when they placed it on his head,
he began to dance around…

You probably figured I’d mention “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (“He sees you when you’re sleeping… *insert heavy breathing here*). Sorry, but that song gave me great parenting leverage to get my Big-Eyed Boy to behave himself from Thanksgiving to Christmas, leverage that I lost as soon as some snot-nosed kid at school told him the facts about Santa.

Nope, if there’s a creepy Christmas song that is guaranteed to freak me out, it’s this tune about an mob of unsupervised children who fashion a man out of snow and bring him to life, undoubtedly through some dark magic using that hat as its focusing object, and then they proceed to follow their snowy idol down to the town square where they cause all sorts of mayhem until the traffic cop tries to catch Frosty, who quickly makes a run for it. Think I’m exaggerating the creepiness? Then check this out, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

 

December 20th, 2011

My Theory On The Candlestick Park Power Outage

If you caught last night’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, you know the power went out at Candlestick Park not once, but twice during the game. PG&E, the company providing the stadium’s power, says they still don’t know what caused it. Oddly enough, the outage was entirely limited to the football stadium; no one else in San Francisco experienced the blackout.

Needless to say, this has caused all sorts of speculation about the real cause. Some folks say Steelers LB James Harrison must have run into the power grid with his helmet. Others suspect it was part of a ploy to get more money to rehab the 51-year-old stadium.

My theory? Karma was doing me a solid.

See, we’d just finished dinner and, instead of tackling the dirty dishes piled in the kitchen sink (because I’d handled the cooking), the Venomous Hubby sat down to watch football. This, after pretty much sitting around all day Sunday watching football while I handled all of the holiday preparations by myself. Rather than start an argument over the matter, I shrugged and told him to enjoy the game while I went upstairs to read. After all, the dishes would still be there after the game, right?

Not two minutes later, VH came trudging upstairs to not only do the dishes, but to finally install the tv wall mount in the kitchen. The one that lifts the kitchen TV off of the sideboard, finally frees up a much-needed horizontal surface area to which I can move the pile of papers that has been taking over my kitchen island. The very one that I’d asked him to install LAST Christmas, with little success, because he was too busy watching football then, too.

And the truly funny part? The instant he’d moved the TV to its new mount and turned it on to make sure everything was working, the power went back on at Candlestick Park.

Thanks, Karma, I owe you one!

 
 
 


December 19th, 2011

10 Types of Great Last-Minute Gifts Under $20

If you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping, time is running out! You probably know that already, so what’s stopping you from finishing your gift list? Okay, so maybe money is tight or you’re too busy to trudge through the mall. No worries, I’ve got you covered! Well, not the money aspect, mind you, but you only need $20 (or less) for these great gifts. And, thanks to blessing of free two-day shipping, they’ll be there on time if you order TODAY!

1. For Kindle Owners – Know someone who owns a Kindle? Then why not stock their library with a selection of free or nearly free Kindle books?

2. For Coffee Lovers: Want to produce a Pavlovian response in a coffee lover? Whisper “Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee” and watch them drool. Better yet, give them a pound of the stuff ($9.99). Like them a lot? Then throw in an Aerolatte To Go milk frother ($12.77) so they don’t have to keep shelling out tips to that surly barista with the scraggly goatee.

3. For Playful Thinkers: Sure, you could give them a subscription to Mental Floss magazine, but at $21.97, that would exceed the $20 limit, wouldn’t it? Why not give the gift of Mastermind, the challenging board game we all remember from childhood? Yep, it’s still just as tough, and it’s still just $14.99.

4. For Those Without Taste: You know who I’m talking about — Uncle Bob, who still tries to get you to pull his finger even though you figured out 37 years ago what a bad idea that is, or maybe Eugene in Accounting who doesn’t understand why everyone teases him for wearing both suspenders and a belt to hold up his pleated jeans on Casual Friday. These are the folks who’d love something like a toilet-shaped coffee mug ($11.99), a grenade-shaped screwdriver set ($5.36) or a nightlight shaped like a leg ($14.95). (Yep, a smaller version of the one in A Christmas Story (Two-Disc Special Edition DVD).) ($13.99)

5. For Tired, Stressed-Out Women (or whiny teenaged girls): Ask any overworked woman what she’s most in need of and you’re likely to get one of two answers: (1) a drink; or (2) some “me” time. Chances are, if she’s that stressed out, she probably has plenty of booze on hand. So take care of the “me” time with the Spa Sister Absolute Night Luxury gift set ($19.50) that includes slippers, an eye mask, body scrub, foot lotion and lip balm, all in a cute little case.

6. For Wine Lovers: I know, I know, it’s hard for me to believe that people don’t always finish a bottle of wine, too! But for those who don’t — or who just like to pretend they can’t — the Vacu Vin wine saver set with 4 stoppers ($18.68) lets them keep the good stuff fresh.

7. For Yoga Fans: Know what’s worse than feeling your feet slip out from beneath you as you’re doing Downward Dog in a class full of skinny, bendy people? NOTHING! That’s why I love these all grip yoga socks with pink dots ($9.61), which are not only cute but give great grip, too. At that price, why not combine it with a thirsty yoga towel ($9.58) because, no matter what people think, yoga really does make a gal sweat!

8. For Kids With Cabin-Fever (or who need to stop trying to watch Johnny Test when you need some sofa time to get away from the rest of the family): give ‘em a Chinese jump rope ($5.35) and watch that energy burn. Oh, sure, you may get that old chant “in, out, side-by-side” stuck in your head, but it’s a small price to pay for possession of the remote control. Want to keep them busier even longer? Throw in a skip ball ($13.15) and send ‘em outdoors!

9. For Couples Without Kids: Okay, so they don’t get to wake up before dawn on Christmas morning to watch their kids gleefully rip through mountains of gifts, tossing each one aside with barely a glance as they reach for the next. Know what couples without kids do on Christmas morning? Each other. Help them keep that Christmas morning spirit alive the rest of the year with sexy refrigerator magnet poetry. ($14.95) Too silly? Fine, give them an inflatable “position master” pillow (NSFW) instead. ($18.01)

10. For People Who Are Exactly Like Me And Live At My Address: They’ll be happy with just about anything from this list. Trust me on that!