Monday, March 31, 2014

Well That can't be Good for Anyone...

Still under the Changing Season - Can't Focus disease. But wanted to stop off and say HI from the Coast.
Saw this sign pasted to an I-beam under the oldest bridge to cross the Mississippi.
So, leaving you to ponder:

I can only imagine the ER visit...

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Slight Deviation from Normal

I have been needing/wanting to update the Coast of Illinois for a week now. However, everything in my life has taken a back seat to the revolt occurring under my far back molar. I find no humor in dental work. Although hearing the dentist assistant describe the fact that my teeth have extra roots as a 'slight deviation from normal' would have been sort of funny it I didn't have flatware for eight sticking out of my mouth at the time. 

But, it has been four days, six Vicodin, eighty Advil and a small duodenal ulcer since then. It is Friday and 70 degrees outside and the Sunday before the this whole oral assault happened I spent a fabulous afternoon at a winery on the Coast of Illinois and I wanted to share some photos from our coast. 

Eat your vegan hearts out Malibu!

We were at Grafton Winery and Brewhouse. It was one of those rare pre-spring afternoons when the temp is really only 50 degrees but everyone is so excited to see the sun that we are willing to brave a semi-blustery breeze to sit outside and get a pre-summer sunburn. 

Oh sure, it's not a Carnival Cruise ship, but then again, there is no random gastrointestinal attacks going on.

We watched barges moving up and down the Mississippi as Terry Beck played tunes. There was wine and olives and salami and cheeses and enormous chocolate chip cookies and the company of three good friends plus one more who insisted on buying everyone a cigar. 
I do not smoke cigars.

Seriously, even without the ocean breeze this is beautiful.
And on the ride home we saw the full moon peaking out from behind pink and purple clouds. 
This is the Coast of Illinois.

Monday, March 10, 2014

An Olfactory Betrayal

I have a distressing confession to make.

My new favorite fragrance is Nirvana Black. It is full-bodied without being heavy. Spicy without being incense-y. With just a hint of sweetness, but not so much that you could be mistaken for a roll of Smarties.
It is manufactured by the Elizabeth and James brand.

Which is owned by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen.

I am fifty-three years old.
I am too old to purchase a perfume from the brand which brought us How the West Was Fun and New York Minute.
Plus, I have never been a sucker for celebrity endorsement.
The first thought which pops into my head when I see someone's name on a bottle of perfume is: Why would I want to smell like Elizabeth Taylor (too divorcee) , Christina Aguilera (too Idol-y), David Beckham (too sweaty) or Jennifer Aniston (too friend-y).
Except for Judy Garland.
Actually, back from the grave Judy Garland.
It was the Clinique campaign using vintage video of Judy in her black bodysuit and top hat singing "Come on Get Happy" that prompted me to run out do just that. The fragrance is exactly as advertised. I can't wear it without feeling happy.

And now this.
I feel all mysterious and sophisticated when I spritz my sample bottle* to my wrists. I want to sit in cafes with striped awnings dripping rain and drink french press coffee in my long flowy skirt and oversized bowler hat as I wait for a dark stranger with a luxuriously full head of hair to arrive and whisk me away on his motorcycle.

Not at all the image I get when I think of a fragrance by two tweeny-bopper icons.

Have Mercy!

(Okay, this is NOT the catchphrase from that spunky Michelle Tanner (aka – MaryKate and Ashley) because seriously. I did not watch Full House for a goofy looking baby. Like every other woman in America I watched it for Uncle Jesse aka John Stamos. And thankfully that fact has not gone unnoticed by the Greek Yogurt Society.
Thank you Oikos.)

*This is in no way endorsed, nor paid for Elizabeth and James. My sample bottle is just that – a teensy little spritz which the counter girl at Sephora** filled for me after I spent one too many Benjamins on a cover stick.

**This is also in no way endorsed by Sephora. But should the marvelous people at Sephora consider contacting me, I am down with whatever you have in mind.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Laissez le Bon Temps Rouler...until the Hairnets show up...

I purchased a brand new Deep Fryer on Friday. (smirk) Because, you can't fry eight pounds of alligator in a Fry Baby with three legs.

It seems almost politically incorrect to admit that I ever fry anything. But in my defense, I only use vegetable oil AND the deep fried food which prompted this discussion is for a celebration with the word FAT in its name.

That's right. Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras.

Now, let's clarify a few things.
I am not from New Orleans. Or Louisiana. Or Rio de Janiero for you Carnivale fans.
I was not raised in a household which gave things up for Lent.
And yes, I did say eight pounds of alligator.

Just where do you get eight pounds of alligator?
(Not the weirdest question I have ever been asked.)

Surprisingly, gator is readily available here on the Coast of Illinois.* However, before I realized that we ordered it online from And as I am mostly brand loyal, I continue to order from them. They promise prompt delivery of humanely raised, hand fed gator which is massaged daily and when gastronomically euthanized the skin is turned into the finest shoes for underprivileged cowboys.
I may exaggerate a little. does offer tenderized one pound packets of frozen gator tail meat packed in dry ice and delivered within three to five business days. They also offer a multitude of other Mardi Gras and every other day Louisiana type food products. 
The City Boy gator costs $3 more a pound and is more rat than gator.

But why? Why would you need eight pounds of alligator?
um...twelve pounds of gator...

You see, we throw a Mardi Gras party nearly every year and nothing says Let's Celebrate the Beginning of Holy Season and/or It is Almost Spring and Maybe This &^$(#& Snow Will Go Away like deep fat frying a huge reptile. 

Plus, my family LOVES gator. So eight pounds go to the party, two pounds go to the family immediately after the party and two more pounds sit in my freezer until I get sick of moving the packages around and fry them too.

And this year frying all that gator was a delight. Because I have a new Deep Fryer. Step aside Fry Baby and make room for the Lipitornator!
This baby comes with a removable mesh basket, a thermostat, a lid to control the spatter and it breaks down into five pieces for easy cleaning. Never has it been so easy to make food that will clog your arteries and make party goers shout 'Huzzah!'

(There may have been one 'huzzah'.)
Part of our decorations. What you can't see are the 700 strands of lights strung all around the ceiling of the entire upstairs which won't be taken down until sometime in May because honestly, they are just so festive.
There was definitely gator at this year's party. There was also gumbo, jambalaya, a shrimp boil, killer crab cakes, fruit plates and salad, crusty bread, hurricanes, Cajun meatballs, shrimp stuffed crescents, fancy sandwiches, hurricanes, key lime cake and chocolate cake and hairnets

This is me, in a hairnet. After two hurricanes, mind you. And I am not laughing. It is more of a cry for help.
 At last count forty seven hairnets.
I left the kitchen for five minutes and returned to find a hairnet on EVERY guest as well as on every inanimate object in every room of the house. 
Mardi Otter was just minding his own business.

I love our friends.

And that is why we have the Mardi Gras party. And fry all that gator.
Because nothing says 'you all mean a lot to us' like deep fried reptile.

And Hairnets.

Actually, the Coast of Illinois has a long tradition of celebrating Mardi Gras. The Soulard neighborhood of St. Louis has the second largest celebration (next to New Orleans) in the United States. There may be some debate but all you other cities can forget about it. Soulard has been around since before Lewis and Clark and is the closest thing to the French Quarter you can get. Plus, we have the Mississippi River. So neener. 
The 'Parade Marshal' designation was a little misleading. Only two more years and I will be allowed back on the parade route.

I worked the parade one year when the hospital I worked for was asked to run the first aid tent. This was early in the history of Soulard Mardi Gras. The biggest injury we had to deal with was when one of the other nurses nearly ran over her own foot playing with the golf cart they let us use for emergencies. We did see some bare boobs, it was Mardi Gras after all. And the Mardi Gras association provided the most amazing buffet for volunteers in the upstairs of Soulard Market.
I had no idea the market had an upstairs. But the market does have Frendeka's Meats and Pet Shop which sells gator. And bunnies.
But the live ones are at the Pet Shop. Which is at the other end of the market...

(If you have the time and curiosity, click on each  'hairnet' reference. I am constantly surprised by how often my friends and I have seen random hairnets and even more surprised at how often I have written about them. Also - the pics of Otter and me in the hairnets were courtesy of my friends Mel and Joy, videographers extraordinaire.)