Friday, December 31, 2004

Thanks for the Memories

Yes, it's time for the long-anticipated Beth's End of Year Wrap-up, which at first I heartily resisted, but then decided WHAT THE HELL it's only New Year's Eve once a year.

Overall, 2004 was a good year, dominated by the one consistant theme of change. I said goodbye to a lot of things this year -- my ratty apartment downtown, my battered Honda, my orange Wonder Cat. But in turn, I also welcomed in things like the joys of living in an actual neighborhood, The Amazing Mrs. Puff, and the number 7 bus route.

I complained that I didn't travel much this year, but looking back, it seemed I was off somewhere almost every month. Trade shows in Dallas and New Orleans. Birthday getaway in San Francisco. Summer trips to Vancouver. The World's Best Medieval Wedding in Pueblo. And at least four trips to the homestead for some parental lovin'.

I taught myself to knit. I read all five of the Harry Potter books. I went to the state fair and stood in a room with 400 chickens. I bought some of that damned Lip Venom everyone was talking about. I became obsessed with Dawson's Creek. Listened to The Decemberists almost nonstop. I turned 30. I made homemade jam. I voted (siiiiiiiiigh).

So life, as they say, was good overall. Best wishes to all of you in the coming year -- here's to more good times in 2005!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


It truly is a Universal Law Of Nature that if a person has money to spend, then stores will promptly run out and display nothing but ill-fitting, unamusing, poorly designed and just plain crappy merchandise.

Do they get a secret signal when my wallet becomes loaded with cash and giftcards and hijack all of the good stuff to the back room? Because it also seems that once my wallet becomes barren and dry that they put out truckloads of the fabulous, trendy, beautiful, expensive merchandise.

And I got a new wallet for Christmas too, so you'd think the crappy merchandise alert sensor would be activated quite yet. Hmmmmm.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

And now, we exhale

Can I get a collective sigh of relief now that the Christmas insanity is behind us officially? Whoooo. That's it.

Had a lovely four days in the homeland with the parentals and was pleased to come home to find Mrs. Puff alive and quite eager to begin headbutting me immediately. Had a middle seat on the way home wedged between the Crankiest Grandma Ever and Captain Fidget, The Fidgeting Superhero.

Siiiiigh. Let's bring on 2005, already, people.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Recipe for Shortbread Goodness

Proof that I do indeed read and pay attention to the comments left on my blog -- behold the recipe for the "Shivers of Joy" shortbread referenced earlier this week...I realize now it was a bit cruel to mention anything that produces shivers of joy without explaining how you can do it in the comfort of your own home. Enjoy!

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar, minus 2 T or so
2 1/3 cup flour
1/4 t salt
handful of chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Mix together with a pastry blender. Press into a greased 9X9 pan and prick with a fork. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes until pale brown. Cool for 10 minutes, then cut.

Servings: unknown, dependent upon baker's ability to resist snarfing down the entire batch immediately.
Who doesn't need a semi-terrifying little gnome to help them through the holiday season? Merry Christmas to all and thanks for a great year of blogging entertainment.

And yes, for those of you wondering, that IS a deer wearing a cowboy shirt in the picture frame behind my gnome...
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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Books as Art

As if bookstores aren't great enough on their own, there's one in San Francisco where an artist took every book off the shelf and then organized them by color. McSweeney's has an interview with the guy, and Superhero Journal features a lovely picture of the finished project (it's under December 21's entry).

Monday, December 20, 2004

For The Rest Of Us...

You know it's a legit phenomenon when the New York Times covers Festivus. There's still time to get out your metal pole and organize an airing of grievances.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Ted Felicia better watch his back

Two things relating to home decor:

1.) Anyone out there besides me aware of the fact that last year's Pomegranate is this year's Tiffany Blue?

2.) I am feeling very smug indeed for finding this adorable paper from Midori, framing it in a simple black frame, and creating an adorable peice of art (featuring Tiffany Blue) for just $5.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Backflips of Joy

Let it be known to all in this great land, both young and old, that Beth from Seattle has made hazelnut shortbread for the first time and that putting a peice of this magnificant delicacy into one's mouth, especially when it is still warm from the oven, can actually make one's insides do a backflip of joy.

There. Simply. Aren't. Words. To describe how GOOD this shortbread is.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Many of you have heard me rant that there needs to be a Smarter Than Everyone Else club, where those us who are, again, SMARTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE, can gather and talk about the collective stupidity in the world and not feel encumbered by our massive wit and intellect.

Last night I discovered that the Smarter Than EVeryone Else club can be abbreaviated as STEVE, which made me so giddy that I can barely type.

It's the little things that make me happy, folks.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Technical Difficulties

Well, HUH. I've noticed that my blog has randomly undergone a few technical difficulties, and changed formatting on a few things, which I THINK I've re-configured...but people, if I was made to do HTML coding, then I wouldn't be going through a template-driven blog-service, you know?

So not sure what's up exactly, but hopefully this should fix the weird formatting of late...let me know if there's anything funk-ay going on on the other end of this post.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


If this exhibit at the Frye is not the most adorable (and slightly disturbing, and confusing...) thing in the world, I just don't know what is.

I think I'll be heading straight over there this weekend to give myself a break from the shopping insanity that I still have to put myself through.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Power of Chocolate

Hee hee HEEEEEEE. Today I received a delightful Christmas package from a certain someone which I couldn't help but tear open immediately. It was filled with all sorts of goodies that I won't elaborate on here, except to say that this Mariebelle hot cocoa is nectar from the GODS. The packaging alone could not be more adorable and the hot cocoa was like drinking a liquid candy bar.

Siiiiiigh. Thank ya, Gift Giving Person That Shall Remain Unnamed.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Ikea the Heartbreaker

For some reason this morning, it occurred to me that at one time or another, everyone has their heart broken by Ikea.

Oh sure, we're lured in by the blond Swedish wood and the clean lines of the GROMICs and the FLURGENs and the cheap, cheap price tags. But then the romance fades and we become disillusioned and then we realize it Just Wasn't That Good To Begin With.

I recall being 22 and seeing Ikea for the first time and practically wetting myself with what seemed to be totally awesome furniture at cheap-ass prices. I had never SEEN furniture like this. Are you kidding me, this entertainment center is only $199? Is that possible? It was the proverbial kid in a candy store. I wanted everything in my house to be from Ikea, EVERYTHING.

My first major purchase was a "Miller" entertainment center and I vividly remember how I proudly marched up to the cashier feeling very smart indeed for finding such an affordable piece of classy furniture. (Okay, quick aside, 1.) "Miller" is a very disappointing name for anything from Ikea and 2.) An entertainment center with doors and matching side bookshelves for $199 should have raised a giant red flag)

And then it got delivered to my apartment. In a flat box. I literally gasped. What, why is it in a box? Where is my entertainment center? What do you MEAN I have to put it together? Are you kidding me? I can't do that! And then the light bulb went off that "Oh yes, Beth, THIS is why it's $199."

And I knew then that my love affair with Ikea had been tainted. It would never be the same.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

A Model Saturday on the Couch

Thanks to a marathon of America's Next Top Model on VH1 today, I am now creaky and sore from five consecutive hours of laying on my couch in my freezing apartment. It's amazing how I can watch those supermodels-in-training for that much time and really not develop ANY sort of compassion or empathy for what they have to go through. Modeling's haaaaaaard. People are meeeeean. Whatever.

If you'd rather not put yourself through that, I suggest you check out Television Without Pity's recaps here, which are (as always) better than the show itself.

Friday, December 10, 2004

On the Topic of Face Transplants in My Living Room

I would like to say for the record that the Discovery Health channel really should come with a warning on it.

Because there I was, flipping through the channels last night, having had a not-so-small glass of Two Buck Chuck, and suddenly there is a shot of a PERSON WITHOUT A FACE. And then, in the next shot, completely seperate from this person, was HER FACE, all sterile and mask-like and SEPERATED FROM HER BODY AND ALL. I mean, JESUS. You can't just spring that on people without any sort of warning, you know? I need to somehow be alerted that if I go to channel 79 that I might, well, see someone without a face.

You can learn about face transplants, if you're brave (and might I recommend not after drinking a few too many glasses of cheap merlot), here:

Apologies to those of you that got the screaming frantic phone call from me about this program.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Tonight, We Dance!

While I was lamenting my poor snack choice yesterday, I neglected to mention that it was the birthday of my all time favorite cousin and international ballroom dancing superstar, Katusha Demidova. Hope you and Jonathan had a fabulous day, dahling.

Tonight, we DANCE! Tomorrow, we train for BOSTON!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Note to Self About What Constitutes An Acceptable Snack

Dear Beth,

Look, it's admirable that you're trying to eat more vegetables, and I fully support the idea of your bringing healthier snacks to work to nibble on throughout the day.

But honey, brussel sprouts? What the $#@) were you thinking? Yes, I know they're good every now and then drenched in butter with some red pepper flakes, but are you kidding me with the notion that you're going to actually eat them as a SNACK AT WORK? I cannot possibly think of a sadder snack except maybe a raw onion or a bag of gravel.

Throw them out now let's just not talk about this incident again.


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

I love my little fake Christmas tree from Target SO DANGED MUCH! I find myself turning off all of the lights in my apartment and just staring at it like a five year old. It's not just the disco ball ornament, or the tiny gorilla ornament, or the antique glass balls from my Grandma's tree in the 50''s the whole package that make me warm and fuzzy. It's three feet of holiday spirit just radiating from the corner of my living room.

Also, in another holiday update about my apartment building, we have two poinsettias and a little fake tree in the lobby and NO ONE has stolen, ransacked, damaged, or piddled on either of them!
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Monday, December 06, 2004


A loyal blog reader recently asked me what the heck the "565" signifies on my blog and I'm sad to say that I have no idea whatsoever. That's the joy of working with templates, I guess.

However, here a few suggestions -- if you have any pearls of wisdom to share aboug 565, by all means, let me know!

* 565 is the form number for an Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document.

* 565 is a mighty fine bus route in Chicago.

* Troop 565 is a kick-ass bunch of Boy Scouts in Omaha, NE.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Debby and Mark and the 91 Cats

So today, while laying sluglike on my couch, I found myself watching my new favorite program, Animal Cops: Detroit on Animal Planet. I cannot get enough of this show. They could show it on a reel for 24 hours straight and I clearly would have to call in sick from work so that I wouldn't miss a single episode. This show kicks so much ass and rocks so hard that I don't even know where to begin. There are other cities that feature the Animal Cops, like Austin, but those are boring and feature mostly horse rescues from delapitated barns. Yawwwwn.

Detroit is where it's at. Debby MacDonald is the absolute highlight of the show. I LOVE HER SO MUCH. I love the narrator, and I love the freaks that they bust for animal cruelty and I love the happy endings where they show the warm fuzzy homes that the animals end up in.

So. Anyway. This afternoon, they busted a house that was "overrun" with cats. As in 90 cats (plus a dead one). In a single house. 90 CATS. They were everywhere, running around like vermin and they were MEAN bastards, too. I was actually jumping on my sofa cheering and pointing to where the cats where hiding. There's another one, Debby! Go! Get it! It was insane and gross and tragic because all 90 cats (except one) ended up going up to the Rainbow Bridge in heaven because they were so disease-ridden and crazy.

What a great afternoon.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

A brilliant writer

Recently, while deeply entrenched in the Homeland Tour 2004, I found myself engrossed with Amanda Davis' Wonder When You'll Miss Me. I simply COULD NOT put this book down. I fell in the love the characters and with the author's voice -- it was just a great, great read. Cannot recommend it enough to you people.

I first heard about Amanda Davis from McSweeney's last spring, when they ran this memorial to her, but it didn't resonate with me because I just didn't know who they were talking about. People would be going on and on about this memorial and tell me how this McSweeney's tribute moved them to tears and what a wonderful, wonderful writer Amanda Davis was and all the while I just, well, felt bad that she had died, but at the same time wasn't sure what everyone was talking about. I know now. It makes me sad to have finished this book and know that there won't be any more to look forward too.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


If you're looking for an adorable little online advent calendar -- and really folks, who ISN'T this time of year -- check out Leslie Harpold's 2004 version. I recall seeing this in 2003 and finding it darned entertaining.

And since we're on the topic of advent calendars, if you find yourself scratching your head about what the heck an advent calendar even IS, then check this out.