The Fab Five: December 2013

The Fab Five: December 2013 4

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For this month’s installment of the Fab Five, I’ll be featuring all my favorite goodies from my recent trip to Australia. Southern-hemisphere dwellers, you’re in luck! (Although you probably discovered these gems long before I did.) As for those of you up here with me? Let’s hope you don’t mind spending a small fortune on shipping….

1. Drinking Custard

drinking custardI was completely crestfallen upon learning that drinking custard isn’t actually something you drink. (While I couldn’t find a photo online, I swear the label actually reads “Drinking Custard”. Back me up, Aussie friends?)

In contrary, this delicious sauce is intended to be poured over pies, crumbles, fruit, and if you’re me, pancakes. Think of it as a far superior alternative to cool whip. It is decadent, flavorful, and in my opinion, totally worthy of drinking on its own. (In secret, of course.)

I still can’t get over the fact that we don’t have this in the states. Surely, it would be an instant, pourable sensation! While I’m assuming it’s nearly impossible to ship, I did manage to find a super simple recipe if you want to whip up your own batch at home. Think  of it as my Christmas gift to you.

 

2. Lorna Jane

lorna jane

Think Lululemon, only….less douchey? Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Lulu…but I think we can all admit that founder and former CEO Chip Wilson is kind of a jackhole. In contrast, Lorna Jane Clarkson–the founder of this Australian activewear brand–is an incredibly positive role model on multiple levels.  The brand has a truly positive message–Move, Nourish, Believe–that feels legitimately empowering and genuine. As far as the clothing goes, the price and quality is right on par with Lululemon. I actually prefer Lorna’s stuff as they tend to embrace more color and pattern. (Those floral mania pants have my name written all over them. Also on my list? The 2014 Move Nourish Believe Journal.)

The good news? LJ has recently expanded to the United States! While they currently only have stores in California, you can shop till your blue in the face on their website. Did I mention the free site-wide shipping? Yes, please!

 

3. Weis Bars

weis bar

I discovered this tasty little treat on a hot day in Surfer’s Paradise. And it was heaven. (If heaven tasted like mangoes, vanilla ice cream, and macadamia nuts, that is.) These ice cream bars are made in Queensland with love — and real fruit! Surprisingly, they also aren’t too much of a splurge in the calorie department.

Obviously, shipping these frozen nuggets of delight to the states is out of the question, (unless you’re, like, Oprah or something), but I plan on recreating them at home with a scoop of mango sorbet, splash of cream, and tablespoon of chopped up mac nuts. (Sorry…that’s the best I can do.)

 

4. Bonds

bondsundies

Bonds. Bonds! How did I survive twenty-nine years without Bonds?

I learned about Bonds thanks to our Contiki tour guide, Carolyn. She informed us that all the ladies and gents in Oz swear by this Australian brand of underwear. “They are the most comfortable things you will ever invest in,” she claimed.

Turns out, Carolyn was right. I’ve since fallen madly in love with Bonds for the following three reasons:

  1. They ship to the U.S. Easy, peasy.
  2. By signing up for their free rewards program, you get twenty percent off every single thing you buy for, like, ever!
  3. They make granny panties suitable for someone under the age of 30. (And yes…I love me some granny panties.)

 

5. Dual Flush Toilets

dual flush toilet

I know, I know. Dual flush toilets exist in America. But they were absolutely everywhere in Australia. During my fifteen days down under, I don’t think I came across a single toilet that wasn’t dual flush. Congratulations, Australia — you have outdone us with your eco-friendly ways again!

Seriously, though. Think about how much water we Yankees waste every single day using a single flush commode. It’s kind of really insane. Let’s face it —  America needs more dual flush toilets. There. I’ve solved at least half of our nation’s problems!

While I have little control over the governments toilet mandates, I am able to made a difference at home. And Australia  has inspired me to jump on the dual flush bandwagon and never look back! Sure — there will be a bit of an up-front investment, but I’m hoping to save a bundle on  utilities in the future.  Particularly as I work from home — so I’m here flushing away all the live long day.

(Oh how I long for the days when our utility bills were lower as both Scott and I were at offices all day.)

(And yes. I realize that’s a really weird thing to think about.)

******

There you have it. My five favorite things from the land down under! Any Aussie treasures I left out? Of course, an honorable mention is given to my beloved runner-ups: Tim Tams and Harry’s meat pies. (Sorry guys. You just couldn’t compete with drinking custard.)

Psst! Want to check out Fab Fives of months gone past? Be my guest!

 

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The monster under the bed

The monster under the bed 2

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Apologies for neglecting to post yesterday. I was holed up in bed battling a stupid head cold with every last fiber of my being.

But I’m back. And I’ve got the injuries to prove it.

(Yes, injuries.)

It all began when Jolie and Penny’s Bark Box arrived in the mail this week. What’s a Bark Box you ask? It’s official description is “a monthly goody box that comes in the mail with four or more carefully selected products and presents for your dog – anything from toys, bones and all-natural treats to hygiene products and innovative new gadgets!”

Or as I like to describe it, “The canine version of Stitch Fix that middle class women who don’t have children purchase out of boredom around the holidays.”

I mean…at least that’s how I got suckered into it.

Don’t get me wrong–Bark Box is great! They even donate a percentage of the proceeds to doggies-in-need. Plus, by going with the six-month, pre-paid subscription I ended up saving 34%!

But back to the box. It arrived this week, and the girls were thrilled!

Bark Box

Translation: I was thrilled. The dogs were too busy barking ferociously at the poor mail man.

The box contained a variety of treats, toys, and even a tasty raw-hide bone that Jolie selfishly demolished in the first six hours. But most notably, it included Monster.

monster dog chew toy

There was something about this neon gentleman that plucked ever so delicately at Jolie’s heartstrings. Was it the unique crunchy texture of his antlers? Perhaps his state-of-the-art “chomp tech” construction? Or maybe it was simply the flirtatious glimmer that subtly radiates from his cyclops eye. Whatever her reasons may be, it was love a first sight.

jolie and monster

Personally, I think he wooed her with his squeaking.

As soon as monster was removed from the box, Jolie unleashed a territorial growl before trotting upstairs with her one-eyed beau clutched firmly between her tiny teeth.

Here’s the thing about Jolie — playing with toys didn’t come naturally to her. We adopted her at age three, at which point it took an additional three years for us to teach her how to play with toys. Yes, we physically had to train her to chew on things. Even after she learned the ins and outs of dog toys, she never really showed interest in playing with things until recently. Needless to say, when Jolie actually does engage with a toy, I get a great deal of joy out of watching her. Each snarl and bite represents hours of blood, sweat and tears on my part.

Clearly, this meant I was following Jolie upstairs. I wasn’t about to pay for that stupid monster and not even get to watch her play with it!

The snuggle pooch has several hiding spots throughout the house, her favorite being the area underneath the queen sized bed in our guest room. Covered by mattress and surrounded by bedskirt, she feels safe and enclosed. The crawl space is also short enough so that sister Penny can’t follow her in. But most importantly, if she sits underneath the center of the bed, she’s so deep that neither Scott or I can reach her. If she’s got a bone, snack or toy in tow, it’s her number one hiding destination.

{FYI: That last paragraph sounds way better if you read it with a Steve Irwin nature documentary accent.}

This is how I found myself laying sideways on the purple shag carpet in our guest room, literally searching for a monster under the bed. As my eyes adjusted to the dim light, I saw neon green fuzz just inches away. I also heard Jolie’s tell-tale “mine” snarl. Penny sat beside me, whimpering with jealousy, as I reached in to snatch Jolie’s monster boyfriend. But my little troll was too quick. She unleashed a vicious sounding gurgle as she dragged her monster just out of reach. One at a safe distance, she perched her angry little body on top of his while possessively licking his antlers.

It was a lost cause. Slowly, I pried myself off the floor to standing position. And that’s when I heard it. Ripping. I also felt a strong tugging sensation against my left ear. Particularly where the diamond earring I tricked Scott in to buying me for our fifth wedding anniversary was securely fastened. I lifted my hand to my ear, fearing the worst. My fingertips felt damp and warm as they grazed the earlobe. Cautiously moving my hand back into sight, I saw it was covered in blood.

So, remember that stupid purple shag carpet our house came with that I absolutely hate? Turns out it hates me right back. Like, really hates me. So much so that it managed to entwine itself in one of my earrings, holding on for dear life when I attempted to stand up and leave my chihuahua to snuggle with her monster boyfriend under the bed in peace.

Yes, I realize that might be the most ridiculous sentence I’ve ever typed, but brace yourself, as it’s about to get even more ridiculous.

That godforsaken carpet managed to rip my precious earlobe open. From end to end.

If that’s not a sign we need to upgrade to hardwoods, I don’t know what is.

I’ve posted my fair share of questionable photos on this blog, but an image depicting my ear injury will not be one of them. Trust me…that’s one picture you really don’t want to see. I will, on the other hand, show you my uber stylish ear bandage, and what’s left of my diamond earring.

Exhibit A:

I mean...what's the point in showering when your ear looks like this??

I mean…what’s the point in showering when your ear looks like this??

Exhibit B:

What’s left of the earring. That post–which is solid 14K gold—used to be perfectly straight. TOLD you the carpet hates me.

Scott assured me the gaping wound will heal just fine in a week or so. He’s even promised to re-pierce my left ear himself, if need be. I’ve got to say, it takes a lot for that man to feel sorry for me, and I experienced a deep sense of satisfaction when he exclaimed, “Ouch! That looks really painful!”.

The funny thing? It actually wasn’t painful at all. I heard the ripping way more than I felt it…and even in the midst of the healing process, I kind of forget the wound is there until I see my oh-so-sexy bandage in the mirror.

sexy-bandaid

Rawr.

In conclusion, I ripped my earlobe open on our purple shag carpet, and I’m blaming it on the monster who lives under my guest bed. (And just so happens to be dating my chihuahua.)

I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried, people.

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Headcold: the do’s & dont’s

Headcold: the do’s & dont’s 7

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It’s that time of year again! And no, I’m not referring to snow-covered nativity scenes and strategically placed mistletoe.

I am talking about nasal discharge the color of…well…I’ll let you use your imagination.

Because I’m not a total head cold grinch, I’ve decided pry myself from my the sofa so I might share a few of my coveted tips for surviving nasopharyngitis (AKA, the common cold) with all of you. You can thank me with NyQuil. Lots and lots of NyQuil.

DO

  • Commandeer your husbands comfiest pajama pants while making him wait on you hand and foot. Obviously, this includes preparing you chicken soup from scratch. Remember that whole “in sickness and in health” thing? This is the part where you get to cash in.
  • Adopt my ingenious t-shirt method. It saves the environment and the skin around your nose!
  • Abandon all attempts at healthy eating. At this point, you’re simply trying to survive. (And I think we all know the skinnies are never the ones who make it.)
  • Invest in a neti pot. Using it will be the most unsavory ten minutes of your life, but I assure you, the discomfort is well worth it.
  • Eat lots of chips and (hot) salsa. Same results as the neti-pot, but the process tastes way better.

DON’T

  • Go out of your way to bend over and fetch the cough drop that fell under the fridge. You will tweak your sciatic nerve in the process. And let’s face it — the only thing worse than having a stuffy nose is having a stuffy nose and  a thrown-out back.
  • Listen to your husband when he insists swallowing a tablespoon of horseradish will help clear your sinuses. If there is a single tip you take away from this post, let it be this.
  • Try to “flush out” your cold by drinking bloody mary after bloody mary at your husband’s work Christmas party. I don’t care how spicy and decongesting they are — it will prove a regrettable decision. (On a variety of levels.)
  • Let your dogs get anywhere near your t-shirt (see “DO” tip #2) when you’re not around. I’m just going to leave it at that.

What are your tips for beating a winter bug? Anyone else tried to cure themselves with an abundance of vodka and spicy tomato juice? I can’t be the only person who’s tested that approach…right?

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Lost Luggage: Part 2

Lost Luggage: Part 2 2

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When we last left off, I had been sent into a panic by a woman at the Minneapolis airport who seemed to have completely forgotten the fact that my missing luggage had been sitting right in front of her just one day prior.

Not sure where to turn, I decided to call customer service for the umpteenth time. The woman who answered the phone was extremely baffled by the ordeal my quest for a missing suitcase had morphed into.

Customer Service: Miss Taylor,  I’ve run your tag number through our system, and it does show your items arrived in Minneapolis on Monday evening.

Me: That’s great! So we do know where the bag is!

Customer Service: Not exactly. The bag was scanned three days ago, but there’s been no activity  since. And the woman you spoke to at baggage claim said it’s no longer at the airport?

Me: Yeah, unfortunately.

Customer Service: Hmmm. Well…there’s no record of it being shipped to you, so that’s a little bit of a problem.

Me: I just want to find my bag.

Customer Service: I understand. We want to find it, too. Here’s what I’m going to do. We already have an in-depth description of the exterior of your luggage, but could you provide me some details regarding what you packed inside? Sometimes our crew needs to sort through the inside of a bag in order to verify ownership. Did you happen to pack anything unique that might help us link it to you? A bright-colored sweater or distinctive pair of shoes, perhaps?

Me: Actually, yes! Right when you open the suitcase, there’s a bright blue plastic bag tied in a knot. Inside, there’s a kangaroo hide.

Customer Service: A…kangaroo hide?

Me: Yeah…you know, like, the skin of a kangaroo?

Customer Service: Okay.

Me: I was just in Australia. I bought it for my dogs.

{Awkward silence}

Customer Service: A kangaroo hide for your dogs. Alright…well…um…that certainly is unique.

{More awkward silence}

Customer Service: Now…on the off chance our crew is unable to locate the, um, kangaroo hide…are there any other identifying items in the luggage?

Me: Um…actually…yeah. There’s a medium-sized jar of placenta cream in a gold jar right at the top of the bag.

Customer Service: Placenta Cream?

Me: Yeah. I mean…not like cream that you put on your placenta, or anything. Sheep placenta is just one of the active ingredients. Or maybe goat placenta? I guess I’m not totally sure what type of placenta is in it…I forgot to ask.

Customer Service: I see…

Me: See…I’ve got really dry skin…it’s supposed to work wonders! And fight wrinkles.  I mean…not that you need to know about my wrinkles or anything. I just don’t want you to think I’m…I don’t know…weird for having placenta cream in my bag.

Customer Service: Miss Taylor….

Me: It was on sale in China Town…?

Customer Service: Miss Taylor, I’ve made notes about the kangaroo skin and, er, placenta cream in your file. That should be more than enough to help us identify your bag. Now, if you don’t mind holding for a few minutes, I’m going to run all of this by my manager and make sure we haven’t received any additional updates as to the location of your bag. Is that alright?

Me: Sure. Thank you.

At this point, she promptly hung up on me.

While I’d like to assume it was accidental, I’m almost certain it had something to do with my China Town placenta potion.

Whatever. I didn’t like her judgmental tone anyway.

********

At 9:30 that evening, my doorbell rang. Confused as to who would be visiting at such a late hour, I approached the front door tentatively. As I swung it open, my heart skipped a beat. There, in the hands of a tired looking FedEx delivery man, was my suitcase.

“I’m sorry this is so late ma’am,” he apologized, “We get a bit busy this close to Christmas.”

Late? I could have cared less! It was all I could do to keep myself from planting a big sloppy kiss on his weary looking face.

“Are you kidding?!” I exclaimed, “You just made my night. Thank you so much for brining this. I thought it was lost forever!”

We exchanged farewells as I rolled my beloved cargo inside, excitedly unzipping it before the door was even shut. Never have I been so excited to receive a bag full of half-frozen, dirty underwear from a complete stranger!

(Placenta cream not pictured.)

(Placenta cream not pictured.)

Moments later, this happened. And suddenly, all my anger and frustration towards American Airlines — not to mention my embarrassment over the bizarre contents of my suitcase–melted away.

kangaroo-hide

All’s well that ends well. (Unless you’re that kangaroo.)

In the two days following the reunion with my possessions, I’ve received no less than three automated calls from American, informing me they have yet to locate my luggage .

Call me vindictive if you must, but I think I”m just going to let them keep searching.

********

On another note, the placenta cream has already worked wonders on my face. I highly recommend it.

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