Thursday, May 31, 2012


We live in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.  We see the mountains every day and never tire of them:

This is a terrible picture of the mountains, but I'm not trying to convince you of their beauty and majesty.  For purposes of this post, you just need to know (1) that I took this photo just a few blocks from my house and (2) I live really, really, really close to the San Gabriel Mountains.

Earlier this month, I saw several helicopters hovering near the base of the mountains.  I assumed there was either a wildfire or a stranded hiker and went online to see what the fuss was about.  

Bears.  A mama bear and her two cubs has wandered out of the mountains and were napping in a tree in Altadena.

My first thought was: "Oh!  So cute!  I hope they are safe!"  (See an article/photo here).  

My second thought was: "Hang on!  That's like two miles from my house!  Holy crap!  There are black bears in the mountains?  Son of a #&(@ what the &@(*&)*@  you have got to be @)(**@)#@@#!!!!!"

An Altadena resident saw the bears when he went outside for his morning paper.  I would have crapped my pants.  Not just figuratively, but literally.  Then I would have fainted and the bear would have had its way with me.

I have looked at the San Gabriel Mountains a thousand times, and it never occurred to me that BEARS live there.  Rabbits, yes; lizards, of course; maybe even some snakes; but bears?  I know bears live in California, but surely they live in other mountains.  As in, mountains that I cannot see from my front lawn.

Nathan, of course, thinks it would be cool if a bear strolled up our driveway. I pray that day never comes.  But if it does, it will at least be fodder for a good blog post. 

And then I will immediately call the realtor and start looking for a new house that is out of black bear range.  (Or any bears for that matter, excluding pandas, of course).

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Failed Experiment: Organic Shampoo

A few months ago, I became obsessed with the idea that I had to use organic shampoo and conditioner.  I wanted to be healthier!  Organic shampoo was healthier!  If I kept using regular shampoo, my scalp would start to rot! 

I went to Wholefoods and bought two different organic shampoo/conditioner sets.  My organic shampoos were paraben free!  and sulfate free!  with no phthalates or petrochemicals!  I have no idea what a paraben is! Or a phthalate!  But they sound scary! 

I assumed it would take my hair a few months to adjust to this healthier regime, but in the end, my hair would thrive.  This was a stupid assumption.  My hair despised the organic products.  The longer I used organic shampoo, the more my hair resembled a bale of hay.  If I had kept this experiment up until October, I could easily have dressed up as a scarecrow for Halloween - everyone would have assumed I was wearing a straw wig, but it would have just been my hippie-dippy paraben-deprived hair.

So I cracked.  Maybe parabens and phthalates are seeping into my scalp, but I doubt it.  The shampoo sits on my head for a minute, tops, and I apply the conditioner to my hair ends.  Am I really supposed to believe that this routine is going to give me cancer?  I think this is just a scare tactic used as a marketing strategy by organic companies. 

When I returned to regular shampoo, loaded with good old fashioned sulfates and parabens, my hair rejoiced.  I went on a bender at a beauty supply shop with my sister and bought several new shampoos.  After the hippie ordeal I subjected it to, my hair deserves some pampering.

p.s. Spellcheck does not recognize the words "paraben" or "phthalate."  Interesting, very interesting.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Note to Self: Homemade Shower Scrubs Are Dangerous

I love everything about expensive shower scrubs - except the price tag.  My inner Scrooge throws a conniption fit at the idea of spending $40 (or more!) for a small container of scrub that is going to get washed down the drain. 

I have tried buying cheap drugstore scrubs, but they suck.  If you have found a cheap but wonderful scrub, let me know!  But I don't believe such a product exists.  Drugstore scrubs tend to be watery concoctions that smell nice but do little in the exfoliation department. 

Last summer, before my wedding, I bought two lovely scrubs that made my inner Scrooge scowl.  But, I was getting married, and wearing a strapless dress with a low back, so I could justify the expense.  After the wedding, I hoarded my scrubs and tried to make them last forever.

Alas, the last bit of scrub recently went down the shower drain, and I couldn't bring myself to splurge on another expensive product.  So I made myself a shower scrub using olive oil and Kosher salt.  It was glorious and left my skin feeling smooth and moisturized, just like an expensive scrub.  Finally, a compromise between my inner Scrooge and my inner Bathsheba.  Hallelujah! 

Then I almost killed myself.

My shower floor was covered with olive oil, and guess what?  When covered with olive oil, my shower floor gets slick.  Very, very, slick.  And I am clumsy.  Very, very clumsy.  Maybe an Olympic gymnast can safely shower in a tub covered in a layer of olive oil, but me?  Let's just say I came dangerously close to falling and spending the day in the shower, praying Nathan would get home early.

I got out of the shower intact and immediately dried away all the olive oil with a towel.  WHEW.  DIY crisis averted.  And now I have a good excuse to splurge on some shower scrub: the olive oil might seem cheaper than the $40 scrub, but the ER bills make it way more expensive in the long run.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Unsolicited Advice for Brides-To-Be: Tan Lines

When I started to write this post, I did not know if "tan lines" was spelled as one or two words.  I guessed it was just one word but Google proved me wrong.  I also discovered there is a very thorough Wikipedia entry for tan lines.  I can't decide if it's a joke  entry or not, but I now know more about tan lines than I thought possible.  (And at least someone at Wikipedia has a sense of humor).

Some brides go to great measures to look tanned for their wedding day.  They sunbathe for hours and visit those spray tanning booths.  I know the spray tan booths are safe and won't give me cancer, but I also know that if I went, my experience would be similar to the Friends episode when Ross tried to get a tan

Here's the advice portion of this post: you need to make a decision about your tanning status several months before the wedding.  If you want a nice tan, figure out how to achieve that glow well in advance of the happy day.  Don't visit a spray tan booth for the first time a week before your wedding!

If you are naturally pale, embrace your paleness!  Your groom fell in love with you, paleness and all, and he doesn't expect you to become a different person for your wedding.  (If he does, you need to dump that jerk immediately if not sooner).  But if you are going to be pale on your wedding day, you need to be aware of tan lines and how they will look with your gown.

I myself am a pale vampire.   If I sit in the sun for too long, I turn to ash. I apply sunblock religiously, even on rainy days. When I'm out in the garden, I wear a big absurd sun hat.  For my wedding, I decided to be my usual, pale self. 

My dress was strapless with a low back and floor length skirt.  This meant my legs were on their own.  There could be zebra-stripe tan lines on my thighs, for all I cared.  But my arms, back, shoulders, neck and collarbone region?  I had to keep that zone an even shade of pale.

And thus began a constant war, Courtney vs. the Sun.  For several months, I carried sunblock with me everywhere and reapplied it obsessively.  I avoided the sun and if I was outside, I took long detours just to stay in the shade.  If I wanted to swim outside, I wore a strapless swimsuit.

Be aware of your skin tone and the amount of time you spend in the sun (unless you think a farmer's tan is hot).  But also know that a tan line is not going to ruin your wedding or marriage.  I stopped paying attention to my sun exposure about two days before the wedding and had a faint tan line as I exchanged wedding vows with Nathan.  But you know what?  The wedding was still perfect, tan lines and all.

I got married in July 2011, and now I have lots of opinions about weddings. My baby sister Katherine (aka Spucky) is ten years younger than me. Someday, she will get engaged and I will want to go into crazy big sister mode and inundate her with advice. Instead, I'm writing blog posts so when she gets engaged, she can read (or not read) my advice at her leisure.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Public Service Announcement: The Spelling Bee Is Next Week!

The 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee airs next week on May 30th and 31st on ESPN.  Set your dvr now!  If you follow the link above, there's a game you can play to test your spelling skills.  (Spoiler alert: I would not have qualified for the semifinals, but I knew that before I took the test).

I loved impromptu spelling bees in elementary school.  (I went to Catholic school, and we never had formal events with ribbons and trophies).  But in the fourth grade, I had a humiliating spelling bee experience. 

At the start of the bee, my homeroom teacher announced that she was just going to ask easy words during the first round so no one would get out.  She asked me to spell the word "sweet" as in "this cookie is sweet" and I spelled "s-w-e-a-t" as in "someone left this cookie in the locker and now it's covered in sweat."  Ashamed, I sat down and watched the rest of the bee.

I may be a spelling bee loser, but I'm still fascinated by the National Spelling Bee.  The children are so intense, and they can spell the most ridiculous words, like insouciant, syllepsis, and logorrhea.  (Here's a list of words that past spelling bee champions spelled to claim the crown.  Last year's winner spelled "cymotrichous," which is just an uber-nerdy way to say "wavy hair"). 

If you like the National Spelling Bee, then I highly recommend the documentary Spellbound, which follows several contestants as they prepare for the big showdown.  It's amazing to see the committment that these sixth graders have to memorizing the dictionary.  (When I was in the sixth grade, I spent my free time listening to the New Kids on the Block and playing with my stuffed animals.  I was never in any danger of going to the National Spelling Bee). 

p.s. I hope there aren't any egregious spelling errors in this blog post, because that would be embarrassing. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Perfect Marriage: Avocado and Goat Cheese

I've officially overdosed on ham sandwiches.  These are the ingredients for my new favorite springtime lunch:

That's right, kids, you just need three ingredients: an avocado; goat cheese; and one or two slices of crusty bread.

Lightly toast your bread.  While the bread toasts, mash together half an avocado and a couple tablespoons of goat cheese.

Avocados = delicious.  Goat cheese = delicious. 

Avocados + Goat Cheese = So Insanely Delicious, Fireworks Will Explode In Your Mouth And You Will Do Backflips, Even If You've Never Taken A Gymnastics Class In Your Life

Admire your handiwork.  Then spread the Avocado Goat Cheese Amazingness on your lightly toasted baguette and voila, you have a delicious springtime lunch:

If you are feeling fancy, you could add a sprinkle of salt or some tomato slices. 

Warning: put the goat cheese and any remaining avocado back in the fridge before you start eating.  Otherwise, you will be sorely tempted to finish the entire avocado in one sitting.  Not that I'm talking from personal experience (blush).

Children's Movies for Grown-Ups

Yes, I'm thirty-three.  And yes, I still love children's movies.  By "children's movies," I mean "intelligent, funny movies that just so happen to be animated and/or involve puppets."  I do not mean "crappy movies that make you want to gouge your eyes out and never have children/abandon any children you already have."  Those movies suck, and I refuse to watch them. 

These are my favorite children's movies.  They are highly entertaining and should not be missed.  No matter how old I get, I hope to always love animation and puppets.

1.  Despicable Me - I dare you to watch this movie and not fall in love with the minions.  If you don't love the minions, please stop reading this blog.  The sequel is coming out in 2013, and I cannot wait!
2.  Up
3.  The Toy Story Trilogy
4.  The Muppets - Just the new one.  I rewatched The Muppets Take Manhattan recently and it's a children's movie in the worst sense of the term.  It made my soul hurt a little.  But the new one makes me smile until my face hurts.
5.  Labyrinth - David Bowie is the Goblin King in a Jim Henson movie.  Bowie composed the music.  And he wears spandex.  Enough said.
6.  Lilo and Stitch - The adventures of a crazy destructive alien in Hawaii.  Just thinking about this movie makes my heart swell. 
7.  Disney's Beauty and the Beast
8.  The Nightmare Before Christmas - Stop-motion animation + Tim Burton + Danny Elfman soundtrack = one of my favorite movies in the world.     
9.  Megamind
10.  Wall-E
11.  Fantastic Mr. Fox - Wes Anderson + George Clooney's voice + animation = why the hell is this movie on my Amazon wishlist and not yet in my dvd cupboard?

Notable omission: Disney's The Little Mermaid.  I adore this movie, but my baby sister watched this movie to death.  This was back in the pre-DVD world, and she would cry while we were rewinding the movie so she could watch it again.  Sometimes, we told her "the Little Mermaid is sleeping now" just so we could watch something that did not involve singing sea creatures.  I have not seen this movie in years, but I could probably recite at least 80% of the lines from memory.  As a matter of principle, I'm leaving this movie off the list. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Guest Post: Beatrice the B-List Superhero

Have you seen The Avengers yet?  Given its box office records, I assume you have.  I love the movie and have already seen it twice.  But my childhood friend Beatrice?  Not so much.  Beatrice thinks its the worst movie ever.

You see, Beatrice is a crime-fighting superhero and she resents how movies like The Avengers glorify the superhero lifestyle.  I suggested she start a blog so she can educate the public about what it's really like to be a superhero - but Beatrice is too lazy to start a blog.  So then I suggested she write a guest post for The Cranky Pumpkin and ... she agreed!

So today, I give you The Cranky Pumpkin's first ever guest post.  Enjoy!

Hi.  I'm Beatrice, and I'm here to tell you that being a superhero sucks.  Sure, it's great if you are a big time superhero like Batman or Spiderman.  They get comic books, action figures and movies; and they live in posh mansions and have tiger-skin rugs. 

But there are hundreds of superheroes who are not the stars of movies and comic books.  We are the B-list superheroes, and it's our job to keep the streets safe for civilians.  No one has ever heard of us, and we don't get any perks.  We just have to deal with a lot of inconvenient bullshit headaches because you mortals can't stay out of trouble.

I can tell you don't believe me.  You think being a superhero is all glory and games.  It's not!  Do you see my mask?  It's supposed to make me look mysterious and sexy, but it just impairs my vision and makes my face all sweaty. And look what the mask does to my hair!  Do you think a superhero has time to style her hair??  Of course not!  I'm lucky if I can shampoo and condition my hair before I get summoned to save some bitchy prom queen who got herself kidnapped by The Slimegoo or Lord Buttersmart. 

You will not believe what happened to me last week.  I was bidding on a vintage Chanel purse on eBay, and there were just eight minutes left to bidding, when a school bus of children fell off a cliff and I had to go save them.  I would have been able to get home in time to place one final bid on the Chanel purse, but of course, the school children wanted to thank me and pose for photographs.  I just wanted my effing purse! 

Courtney asked me to write a series of guest post for The Cranky Pumpkin, but this will probably be my only post.  I thought it would be cathartic to write about my life as a superhero, but now I just want to punch a wall.  Except if I do that, my entire house will collapse on itself.  Being a superhero is THE WORST.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Random Advice for My Baby Sister

I've been abandoned!  My sister moved to New York!  The horror!  The horror!

Actually, I'm very excited for my baby sister.  She was born and raised in Los Angeles and went to USC for college. (Boo!  Trojans suck!  Go, Bruins!)  Now she's going to graduate school in Manhattan, and it will be an adventure.  Plus, it's not like we are living in the 1800s and relying on the Pony Express for our annual exchange of letters.  Between email, the phone, Skype and airplanes, I think we'll manage to stay in touch.

But still, I think now is an appropriate time to give her some random but important advice:
  • Buy yourself flowers.  If you want tulips, don't sit around waiting for the perfect guy to buy you tulips.   
  • If you try on 20 things and they all suck, don't buy anything.  Just tell the hovering salesperson, "No luck!"  You don't need to explain that the jeans make you feel fat or the pink blouse makes you look like an asshole.
  • Make your bed most mornings.  It will make you feel calm and organized. But, every ten days or so, leave the bed unmade.  If you make your bed 9 out of 10 times, then the 10th time will feel like a luxury.
  • Do not subscribe to any wedding magazines until you are engaged.  (Unless you quit graduate school and become a wedding planner).
  • Go to concerts.  Lots of concerts.  When you hit your 30s, concerts will suddenly seem like an exhausting amount of effort.  Just the thought of standing in the general admission area will fill your soul with anguish and despair.  So go to concerts now and store up some good memories.
  • Ditto for roller coasters.  I used to love Magic Mountain.  Now the thought of a loop-de-loop ride makes me want to puke-de-puke.
  • How to order wine at a restaurant: (1) pick what type of wine you want to drink, e.g. Riesling or Pinot Noir and (2) order the second cheapest bottle on the menu of that type of wine. 
  • It's okay if you lose touch with childhood, high school and college friends.  This does not make you a bad person.  It's just life. 
  • I give you permission to spend Saturday night at home in your pajamas. 
  • I give you permission to spend multiple Saturday nights in a row at home in your pajamas.  
  • Avoid creepy men at all costs.  Even if that means crossing the street and hurting their feelings.  If your gut says "rapist," you must go into preservation mode immediately.  I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE CREEPY MAN'S FEELINGS. 
  • Don't talk on your phone in a public restroom.  (Unless a creepy man followed you into the restroom.  In which case, dial 9-1-1 and prepare to defend yourself with a handful of soap).
Please note: I'm not going to give my sister any fashion advice.  She surpassed me in the fashion department years ago and should be in charge of my wardrobe.  Not only does she own green pants, but the bitch looks hot in them, too. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Adventures With Exercise Pants

I've needed new exercise pants for YEARS, but I kept wearing my Shame Pants: a pair of black spandex pants that are stretched beyond belief and covered in blue paint stains (from a disastrous attempt to paint a kitchen wall).  The Shame Pants were too embarrassing to even consider donating to Goodwill, but I was too lazy/stingy to go shopping for replacements.  So I kept wearing them to the gym.  They seemed good enough for the elliptical machine and stairmaster. 

Then I went to a Zumba class.  About 30 seconds into class, I realized I was in trouble.  Zumba involves lots of jumping, bouncing, hopping and dancing around like a five year old on a sugar high.  My Shame Pants could not handle all of the fancy dance moves.  They kept falling down and exposing several inches of my bright pink undies (because my shame knows no end).  If someone had offered me a pair of suspenders, I would have gratefully put them on.

I thought about leaving the class and heading straight to the mall for new exercise pants.  Everyone would think I was an out-of-shape fattie who could not handle one Zumba class, but that was okay.  I was in grave danger of indecent public exposure and would return when I had suitable clothes. 

But then I saw the pregnant lady.  She was at least 8 months pregnant and doing all the Zumba moves, despite her enormous belly.  My pride kicked in.  I had to outlast the pregnant lady.  So I danced my way through an hour Zumba class.  Everyone else must have been too busy focusing on the moves to pay attention to my bright pink undies (right???)

The next day, I bought new exercise pants.  I bought a sensible pair of black capris and something that's a little less sensible.  Nathan says they look like something you would see on a Richard Simmons video. I take that as a compliment. From the front, they look like normal grey capri pants. But from the back...

They are just like a mullet: business in front, party in back.  My Zumba class better look out.  With pants like these, I should be the instructor. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Darling Abutilon Challo

I know a mother is not supposed to play favorites, and I really do strive to love all my plants equally... but I can't help myself.  My abutilon challo is mama's little darling.  Just look at those flowers - how can a mother resist? 

The abutilon challo is thriving on our front porch, which is shaded but gets a few hours of sunlight in the afternoon.  I planted the abutilon challo in a deep pot and water it about two or three times a week, depending on the Pasadena heat levels.  (When the summer heat hits, daily waterings may be necessary).

The abutilon challo likes to grow around a stake.  It came with a small stick at the nursery, but I recently upgraded it to a five footer:

But then, at Home Depot, I saw a four foot high trellis and realized my darling needed an upgrade:

I haven't found much information about the abutilon challo, so frankly, I'm curious to see what happens.  Will my sweetness grow and spread all over the trellis?  Or will she just grow vertically? 

Whatever she does, I will love her unconditionally.  But shhh, don't tell my other plants.  They'll get jealous.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It's Like Christmas, But With Produce

Once spring arrives, I have trouble practicing self-control at the farmer's market:

How is a girl supposed to resist all these gorgeous fruits and veggies?  Asparagus!  Cherries!  Avocadoes!  Corn!  Strawberries!  And big fat leeks!  Aren't they beautiful?   I swear, the leeks started to weep when I walked past them, and I could not abandon them.

I tend to go overboard and buy more food than we can eat.  The asparagus gets buried behind a carton of eggs, and a few weeks later, I discover a science experiment in my fridge.  We don't eat all the strawberries and I feel guilty when they turn to mush.  Or there's a heat wave and I can't bear the idea of cooking, even if the leeks are wilting and need to be consumed asap. 

If someone wants to teach a course called "how to buy the right amount of food at the farmer's market," I will register as your first pupil.  (Please.  I need help). 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Worst Hand Dryer Ever

I like the old school hand dryers that blow air down, but now there are hand dryers that require you to insert your hand in a device, like so:

I don't like these hand dryers.  First, correct me if I'm wrong, but I assume they operate on electricity; and my mama taught me to keep my wet hands away from electricity.  Every time I use this air blower, I have to override a parental mandate and it feels like I'm just daring the machine to electrocute me.  

Second, the hand dryers are very powerful.  It's like placing your hands in a hurricane!  Has anyone studied the long term effects that hurricane-force winds have on the human hand?  In twenty years, I bet we are all going to have deformed monkey hands (but at least our hands will be dry).

And couldn't the manufacturer think of a better name?

Airblade?!?!  Seriously, you want me to stick my hands in a machine that is called the Airblade?  I already feel a little apprehensive putting my wet hands in a wind tunnel, but now I have to worry about some blade chopping off an appendage? 

I think I'll walk around with damp hands, thank you very much.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Guest Bathroom Fishies

Our guest bathroom has two ceramic fish "swimming" by the sink.  Whenever I try to explain these abominations to people who have not seen my bathroom, they do not believe me.  So let's just start with a visual:

(If you need to take a moment to laugh, I understand).

The photo actually makes the fish look good.  They look much, much, much worse in person.  (Yes, that is possible).  

Unbelievably, these fish are in the guest bathroom.  As in, the bathroom that guests use and see.  The prior owners thought these fish would really showcase their style and eye for interior decorating.

We do not have any plans to redo the bathroom, so the fish are enjoying a stay of execution.  We've done enough work on the house in the past two months (new roof, fun plumbing issue, another fun plumbing issue, and a repair to the air conditioner).  The thought of any more home improvement projects makes me ill. 

If you ever get annoyed at your bathroom, and think it's ugly, just remember my fish.  You'll feel better instantly.

Friday, May 11, 2012

I Need A Fake Job

I created this pie chart to show the breakdown of my professional identities:

I've been a lawyer the longest*, so when someone asks me what I do, that's my default answer.  It's too complicated to say "I'm a lawyer, but also I'm writing my first novel, and I also try to take care of all the home stuff since my poor husband has a crappy commute/hectic job, while my biggest concern is waking up in time for my yoga class." 

But if I tell a stranger I'm a lawyer, they might get that look in their eyes: the "I need some free legal advice" look.  Last month, our roofer had a complicated question that involved landlord/tenant and estate law.  Last week, a bank teller wanted advice about contract law in the context of purchasing a house.  And I've been asked countless questions about criminal law, no matter how many times I repeat the fact that I'm a civil litigator and know less than nothing about criminal law.  (Seriously.  The writers for Ally McBeal know more about criminal law than I do).

Legal advice questions from strangers make me uncomfortable because the law is so messy.  There are so many "what if's" and "it depends."  You need tons of information before you can even begin to give an educated answer.  And if the advisee omits a critical fact, then the advice will be completely wrong.  (Note: I welcome questions from family and friends.  But from strangers?  No thank you).

So I need a fake profession.  But what should my fake profession be?  I'd love to say I'm a "ninja" or "lion tamer," but I won't be able to keep that bluff up for very long.  I could say "waitress" or "school teacher," but if the person I'm talking to is an ex-waitress or ex-teacher, they might want to swap war stories. 

Here's the problem: I want to lie about my profession to strangers, but I'm a terrible liar.  I have no poker face and lying makes me feel bad.  And my career history is very short: babysitter; summer camp counselor; lawyer.  That's what happens when you go to law school right after college.

I guess I have to start telling people that I'm a writer and working on my first novel.  I've been embarrassed to tell people that I'm a writer because things might not work out.  The novel might suck, or worse, the novel might be great but never find a publisher.  But, I'm proud of my novel and happy with its progress.  I guess it's time for me to embrace my writer side and when people ask, announce that I'm a writer.  (Hopefully no one will ask me to write their kid's college application essays). 

* Technically, I've been a crime fighter for the longest, but I've been forced to keep that identity a secret.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Questions You Must Always Be Prepared To Answer With Zero Hesitation

1.  If you could invite three dead persons to dinner, who would they be?  Benjamin Franklin, Jane Austen and Abraham Lincoln.  (I really wanted to pick Thomas Jefferson for my third dinner guest, but it seems excessive to choose two founding fathers.  Poor Jane would get overwhelmed by all the talk about the colonies.  So I chose Lincoln, but I reserve the right to choose a different guest.  When Woody Allen dies, he'll take Lincoln's place).

2.  If you found a genie in a bottle, what would your three wishes be?  (1) The ability to fly like Superman; (2) $10 million dollars (I don't want to be greedy, but I'd like enough to retire to Maui); and (3) the ability to tap dance like Gene Kelly without taking any lessons.  I know I'm supposed to wish for something like world peace or a cure for cancer, but those wishes never work out.

3.  If you were on death row, what would you order for your last meal?  This question causes me the most distress, but I'd probably request a cheeseburger, fries and chocolate shake from In-N-Out. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Public Service Announcement: The Bachelorette Returns Next Monday

The Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise is my secret shame.  For years, I scorned the show and said it was too trashy/exploitative to watch.  Now... well... it's still too trashy/exploitative to watch, but I watch it anyway.  It's my guilty pleasure, and I love to hate it.

I went to college in New Hampshire, and most of my friends live on the other side of the country.  My two best friends from college were also my freshmen roommates.  (Housing assignments were random, but I really should send a thank you basket to the Office of Residential Life).  We've done a good job of staying in touch, but it's tough.  Email is free and quick but sometimes life is boring.  It's easy to write emails about vacations and wedding plans, but I hate writing emails about errands and my latest gym routine. 

Enter: The Bachelor Email Club.  My friends and I watch the show, and then we email about it all week.  If you watch The Bachelor, you always have something to email about!  Worst case scenario, the episode is boring - in which case, we can bitch about ABC for airing a lame episode. 

If you ever struggle to keep in touch with loved ones who live far away, I highly recommend a Trashy Television Email Club.  The Bachelor/Bachelorette works great for this purpose, but I'm sure you can have just as much fun with the Real Housewives or Survivor.  

p.s. I am in denial about the upcoming series finale of House, one of my favorite television shows ever; so the premiere of The Bachelorette could not come at a better time. 

p.p.s. If Hugh Laurie were a contestant on the Bachelorette, that would be even better, albeit uncomfortably weird. 

p.p.p.s. While are you still reading this?  You should be setting your DVR to record The Bachelorette!

p.p.p.p.s. I swear, I will not start blogging about The Bachelorette on a weekly basis.

p.p.p.p.p.s.  I'm done now.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bachelor Party Cookies

For her Cinco de Mayo party, my friend made sombrero cookies.  She found a tutorial online and the cookies looked very festive and cute.  But, after she had prepared a dozen cookie sombreros, she realized they looked a little R rated:

Boob cookies!  My friend made freaking boob cookies for her party.  And she found the tutorial for these R rated cookies on a family oriented website!  As in Disney, a pillar of decency and family values.

This is what happens when websites feel compelled to post new baking and craft projects every day: an innocent sombrero cookie ends up looking like something that belongs at a bachelor party.  Where was quality control when this tutorial was being posted?

Happy belated Cinco de Mayo!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Television Shows: Some Current Faves

I am currently watching the first seasons of Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones, courtesy of Netflix.  I realize the internet does not need another blogger talking about the Granthams or the Starks.  But maybe you've been living in Antartica for the past decade, studying the molds that grow in glacial conditions.  Or maybe you are an alien that crashed on our planet last night and you are using the free wi-fi at Starbucks to contact your mothership, and you stumbled upon my blog.  Or maybe you are just really, really lame.  In which case, I am morally obligated to tell you: Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones are AWESOME.  

Downton Abbey is a period drama that begins in 1912 in rural England.  It takes place at one of those manors/estates that needs a thousand servants, and it's about the lives of the Granthams and their servants.  It's an ensemble show, and I love watching the characters interact.  I've only watched four episodes and already, there are at least twenty regular characters whom I adore.  

When I borrow a dvd from Netflix, I usually just watch the main feature and ignore the bonus features.  But I watch everything on the Downton Abbey discs, including the 30 second commercial from Britain's tourism board.  

Game of Thrones is a fantasy in the tradition of Lord of the Rings, except with more beheadings and less magic.  I've read the books, and the first few episodes bored me.  But I've been hooked since the fourth episode, and it might be time to bite the HBO bullet, just so we can watch Season Two asap. 

Now that I have written this post, I will sleep better tonight.  I cannot bear the idea of anyone missing these shows.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Movie Theater Etiquette Rant

I can't believe I have to write this post.  Folks, it's two-thousand-and- freaking-twelve.  As members of a civilized society, we should all know how to watch a movie at a movie theater.  (If you live in a remote village in Siberia, this post does not apply to you). 

But while I was recently watching the Hunger Games, I was shocked and appalled by the audience's behavior.  You know what movie theaters need?  Ushers.  Big ushers who act as bouncers and evict any rude patrons.  But we since we don't have Usher-Bouncers, I give you the Cranky Pumpkin's Rules for Watching A Movie At A Movie Theater In A Civilized Society:

1) TURN OFF YOUR FREAKING CELL PHONE.  You stupid idiots, I don't want to hear your Justin Bieber ring tone.  You are ruining a sacred experience.

2)  NO TEXTING/TWITTER/FACEBOOK/ETC.  I see you.  I am trying to watch the movie but out of the corner of my eye, I see you and your stupid smart phone, which is glowing like a freaking bonfire.  If the theater is dark, we can all see you stupid text message screens AND IT'S REALLY ANNOYING.

3)  NO KICKING.  Okay, I am in a charitable mood.  I understand that accidental seat kicks happen to the best of us.  So just be careful and restrict yourself to no more than one kick for every twenty minutes of the film, including previews.  But if you feel the need to kick my chair every thirty seconds, I might feel the need to rip your leg from its socket.

4)  DO NOT PLAY MUSICAL CHAIRS IN THE THEATER.  When you arrive in the theater, first survey your options.  Then, pick your seats, sit in your seats, AND STAY THERE.  I understand if you need to get up for the bathroom or concession stand.  But you don't need to test every seat in the theater.  If you sit down and then discover you are sitting next to a man who has not bathed since the Reagan administration, then yes, of course, you should relocate to the other side of the theater.  Otherwise, after the movie starts, stay in one place. 

5)  NO SLURPING, SMACKING, TALKING, BURPING, OR MAKING OF OTHER RUDE SOUNDS.  If you feel the need to talk about Aunt Irma's new haircut during the movie, you forfeit the right to watch it on the big screen.  Sorry, asshole, you bought one ticket, not the entire theater.  You don't get to ruin everyone's day at the movies.  Sign up for Netflix.

6)  DO NOT LAUGH DURING EMOTIONAL SCENES.  Shamefully, I did this once.  I laughed as the Titanic was going down.  I should have been tarred, feathered and shot in the leg.  I know I should forgive the teenagers who feel the need to snicker during the tear jerkers moments - but I can't.  You stupid jerks, it's not funny, so shut up. 

7)  NO FEDORAS OR VIEW-BLOCKING HATS.  I'm looking at you, hipsters, and your stupid hat, because it's blocking my view.  Take off your hat or I will crush it until you cry.  (p.s. your skinny tie and skinny pants look stupid).
8)  DO NOT SMELL THE HAIR OF THE PATRON SITTING IN FRONT OF YOU.  This happened to me once, and granted, it happened in high school while I was at a midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and that was the least scandalous moment of the night, but still, I just wanted to throw this out there: Don't smell my hair.

The Cranky Pumpkin reserves the right to revise these rules at any time.  If you are caught breaking these rules, nothing bad will actually happen to you.  Except, of course, you will probably go to the seventh level of hell and burn unil the end of time.  So there's that.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

How Far Will You Drive For Good Hair?

Although I've been living in Pasadena for over two years, I still see my Westside hair stylists.  (Yes, I said stylists, plural.  One person does my highlights, and the other trims my locks.  Which did not feel high maintenance when I was single, but lately, it feels like my hair needs to be less of a diva).

Anyway, my stylists.  They are both at salons in Brentwood, and the drive between Pasadena and Brentwood should take about thirty minutes.  But lately, due to some freeway construction projects, it takes more like an hour.  That's an hour there, an hour back, plus some buffer time for parking (because parking in Brentwood is beyond awful).

I don't think I can do it anymore.  I tried to break up with my stylists once and visited a nice salon in Pasadena ... and got the worst haircut of my life.  It's like the stylist was feeling malicious and wanted to make my hair as unmanageable as possible.  After that, I was spooked and ran back to Brentwood.

But I can't handle the long drives anymore, when there are a hundred hair salons within a ten mile radius of my house.  Surely there is someone capable of grooming my locks in my adopted city.  Right?? 

It's just my hair... but then again, it's my hair.  If someone botches my haircut, I can just wear it back in a ponytail, which I pretty much do everyday anyway.  But what if someone destroys my hair?  What if they scorch my locks and give me a bald spot?  Or what if the stylist has a nervous breakdown and gives me a mohawk?  A ponytail cannot cure a mohawk.

Finding a new hair stylist is scarier than falling in love.  If you go on a bad first date, at least you have a good story.  But if you get a bad first haircut, the consequences could take YEARS to fix.  (I know this personally from the Great Bangs Debacle of 1998).

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Our Favorite Everyday Drinking Glasses

You need to go to Macy's, right now, and get these drinking glasses:

I bought six of these drinking glasses last summer on a lark and they are FANTASTIC.  If you look closely at the photo, you can see the glasses have two layers.  You know what that means?  NO CONDENSATION.  You can fill that vessel up with soda and ice cubes and leave it on the counter all day, and the outer layer will stay dry.  Always.  The plastic glasses are also big and please even the thirstiest of husbands.

These glasses have one drawback: they are not immortal.  If you use them daily (as we do), they will probably only last about six to eight months.  When our glasses started to die a few months ago, I looked online to order more.  I could not find them online.  Crap!!!  So I went to Macy's and discovered they are a summer seasonal item - the horror!  the horror!  I looked everywhere for suitable replacements but could not find a glass that measured up to the glory of these bad boys.  So, we have spent the past few months living with half-broken glasses (because these glasses are so good, that broken, they are still our favorites).

But they are back!  They were at my Macy's, and I bet they are in stock at your Macy's, too.  These glasses are the Cellar (Macy's brand) and according to the sticker, they are "Style DBWLHBCL."  (My clerk told me he could order more.  I searched online for you but could not find them on Macy's website.  Stupid Macy's).

I bought twenty-two of these glasses.  Six are in the cupboard, and I am hoarding the rest in our basement.  If there's a fire, screw my wedding dress - I'm running for the glasses. 

p.s. If Macy's ever discontinues these beauties, I will have a nervous breakdown.

Kitchen All Stars: Our Toaster Oven

My parents gave us a Breville toaster oven two Christmases ago.  Initially, I resented the gift.  We have an oven, and we already had a toaster - why the hell did we need a toaster oven?  It was so big and was just going to be a useless counter space hog.  I stuck the gift in the basement and ignored it.

After several months, I felt overwhelmed by guilt and hauled the beast upstairs.  I rearranged the counters and set it up, certain it would never earn its keep.  I was going to have to arrange for an unfortunate accident between the Breville and a chain saw.

I've been wrong before, but man, was I wrong about the toaster oven.  He is our Kitchen All Star.  I love to bake, but if I had to choose between my stand mixer and this bad boy, I'd be sending the stand mixer to Goodwill and mixing cakes by hand.

I'm pretty certain the Breville toaster oven was designed by wizards.  It toasts, roasts, bakes, broils, reheats and keeps your food warm.  It even has special settings for bagels and pizza.  I use it for everything: it toasts pine nuts when I'm making pesto; roasts veggies for dinner; and reheats leftover chicken for lunch.  And, of course, it's a damn good toaster, with lots of different settings for different darkness levels. 

Since it's so compact, it reaches roasting temperatures in just a few minutes.  If I'm making multiple dishes for dinner and something is ready too soon, I just keep it warm in the Breville.

With summer approaching, the Breville will probably get more action than usual.  When it's too hot for our oven, I can still use the Breville to bake treats and cook dinner. 

The Breville is the Rolls Royce of toaster ovens - and worth every penny.  If I was a poet, I would spend my days composing sonnets about its beauty and charms.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Even When It's Hot, I Need A Blanket To Sleep

Does anyone else suffer from this disorder?  It does not matter if it's 95 degrees in my bedroom: I must feel the weight of a blanket covering my body in order to fall asleep.  It does not have to be a particularly heavy blanket, but it does have to be a blanket.  If it's just a flat sheet, my subconscious throws a hissy fit and does everything in its power to sabotage my ability to sleep.

Obviously, I need a lightweight blanket for the summer heat.  (A few other things are obvious: (a) I am not a good candidate for camping expeditions; (b) I'd make a lousy nomad; and (c) I need to get over myself and learn how to sleep with a flat sheet during the summer).  But I digress.  I have a vision of an airy blanket, like a loosely knit cotton with a lot of little holes for ventilation.  It is soft and lulls me into a sweet slumber every night, even if our bedroom feels like a sauna.

I know exactly where I can find this blanket of my dreams: in my parents' house, sometime during the 80s or early 90s.  They owned two sky blue blankets that were perfect for summer slumbers.  Oh, how I yearn for those blankets.  If I had a time machine, I'd go back to 1984 and steal that blanket from my five year old arms, even if I disrupted the time continuum and damaged the fabric of the universe.  I'm willing to take that gamble to get my favorite summer blanket back.

But alas, I don't have a time machine.  Looks like there's a trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond in my future.  Fantastic.  I have a love-hate relationship with that store.  It has the stuff I need at reasonable prices, but if an earthquake hits while I'm shopping there, I'm going to perish under an avalanche of towels and can openers.