Friday, December 31, 2010

Out with the old, in with the new.

As I write this post Sam is still at the office pulling another all-nighter. I have amused myself for most of the evening folding mountains of socks and underwear and trying to watch a few recorded movies that turned out to be real duds. They were:
  • Sally, Irene and Mary (1938), a story about singing manicurists starring Alice Faye, Joan Davis and Marjorie Weaver. I had to delete this monstrosity almost immediately. I usually like Alice Faye, but even Alice couldn’t save it.
  • The Bells Go Down (1943), described as a comedy about British volunteer firemen during the London blitz in 1939. Nothing about this movie was even remotely funny, particularly James Mason as a loudmouth drill sargent with a Cockney accent. Talk about lousy casting! I deleted this one after the first 15 minutes.
  • Doubting Thomas (1935), a comedy with Will Rogers and Billie Burke. This turned out to be nothing more than a showcase for Rogers to make a bunch of snotty wisecracks during the rehearsal of an amateur play. Maybe someone can explain to me why everybody revered this guy like royalty in the 1930s, because I thought he was a weird, un-funny hick. I watched a “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” rerun instead.
That’s about all for tonight. I’ve just decided there’s no way I can wait up for Sam because he probably won’t be home until 5 a.m. and I’m already so tired I can’t keep my eyes open. I hope y’all have some nice plans for New Year’s Eve. Sam and I want to watch Marx Brothers movies on TCM if we can stay awake long enough. (I think the sofas in our family room are stuffed with chloroform.)
Don’t drink and drive, and — as always — thank you for reading this.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

An Einstein update.

Here’s a little sidebar to my post from a couple of days ago ... about the Dallas pastor who was arrested burglarizing a parishoner’s home on Christmas Eve. Apparently Sandy McGriff — the Einstein pastor who’s the subject of this story — faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted for breaking into Serita Agnew’s home and stealing her fur coats, jewelry, handbags and a laptop. She’s also facing charges for lying about her identity to the police, who tell us that McGriff already has an extensive criminal record, is known by more than 12 aliases and even has convictions for theft and prostitution dating all the way back to the 1970s. She currently pastors a small church attached to the back of her husband’s furniture store. I believe it’s called Chapel of the Sacred Sectional. Amen, brother, and thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010: The year in review.

It’s been quite a year in Howdygramland. Lots of achievements, milestones and excitement. First, let’s take a look at some important numbers. In 2010 I wrote 52 classic movie reviews, posted 12 of my world-famous recipes, introduced you to nine unforgettable Einsteins, confessed to 18 shopping sprees, alerted you to a nationwide Raisinets recall and why you shouldn’t stuff Vicks VapoRub up your nose, launched our Howdygram Boutique and whined 19 times about medical issues that ran the gamut from dentures to diabetes. I also harpooned a variety of celebrities, wannabes and bozos, including George W. Bush, Queen Elizabeth, Hugh Hefner, Marie Osmond, Sarah Ferguson, Bristol Palin, Elvis Presley, Gloria Allred, Jerry Lewis, JonBenet Ramsey, Paula Deen and Liberace ... to name just a few.

As for achievements and milestones, 2010 was the year that Sam and I refinanced our house, planted an Oklahoma Redbud tree in our back yard and took a nostalgic drive on Route 66. I discovered the joy of motorized shopping carts, got my hair cut three times and bought myself a swell new Macintosh computer system, a black aluminum cane, a king-size comforter set and matching bed linens, three pairs of shoes, lots of nice perfume, an Oster bread machine and a Breville panini press. (I like to smell good when I cook.)

In closing, Sam and I extend our best wishes for a happy, healthy 2011. Please don’t forget to enter our New Year Giveaway for your chance to win a prize! Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mongolian Chicken to the rescue.

I got bored with the Eagles/Vikings game tonight so I took a hot shower and switched to a couple of my favorite guilty pleasures ... an order of Mongolian Chicken and a trashy episode of “Millionaire Matchmaker” on Bravo.

In case you’re not familiar with “Millionaire Matchmaker,” each week Patti Stanger helps arrange dates for superficial rich misfits with strange clothes and no social skills. Her clients are all millionaires. The men, regardless of their age, are mostly fixated on blondes and breasts. The women only want George Clooney. After an hour of this unbelievable crap I am more grateful than ever for Sam.
And speaking of Sam, I just found out he’s working late again tonight so I guess I’ll just watch a Debbie Reynolds movie I recorded a couple of days ago — “The Mating Game” with Tony Randall — and make one of my world-famous Goofy Fruity Shakes (see recipe). Thank you for reading this.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Yes, truth is stranger than fiction.

I’ve heard it all now. According to an article on the Dallas Morning News’ website, a local pastor was arrested on Christmas Eve for burglarizing a parishoner’s home. Pastor Sandy McGriff, 52, insists she had “no criminal intent” when police caught her carrying an armload of fur coats out the back door of Serita Agnew’s home in the Oak Cliff neighborhood; Agnew’s other property (purses, jewelry and a laptop) were already in the back seat of McGriff’s Jaguar, which was parked in the driveway. She said she had been driving by Agnew’s home, saw a broken kitchen window and decided to crawl in to make sure nothing had been stolen. A neighbor called police, and when they arrived McGriff told them she was removing Agnew’s valuables in case a few burglars showed up.

Shocked that police arrested her, McGriff also was charged with resisting arrest after she slipped out of her handcuffs twice and tried to kick and scratch officers en route to the jail. McGriff is pastor of the Church of the Living God on Lancaster Road in Dallas.

For your possible amusement, here’s a video of Pastor Einstein doing her best to weasle out of this. You’ll note that she’s sitting on a heap of her own fur coats in an effort to convince everybody that she has to be innocent.

In other news, I just found out that Sam is working late tonight so I think I’ll make popcorn and watch one of those movies I set aside for nights when I’m home alone, which usually includes anything with Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds or Hayley Mills. Tonight’s choice is Pollyanna.
Thank you for reading this.

In case you're wondering ...

I think I have insomnia. I woke up at 4:30 (after four hours of sleep) to eat TicTacs, browse around on the Internet and read stories about lots of snow on the east coast. I’m still not very tired but might consider going back to bed just to warm up. The house is cold because I always turn the temperature down at night ... we’ve got a big poofy comforter and Sam is a world-class “heater man.” I don’t know how he does it, but he generates enough body heat to warm a small city.

Another thing that’s going on right now is, MY STOMACH IS TALKING TO ME. It’s making some of the weirdest noises I’ve ever heard ... a continuous gurgling in two octaves that’s almost musical. I guess I must be hungry, but I don’t want to reheat leftover egg foo young at 5:45 in the morning because the microwave might wake Sam. I’ll wait until 7:30.

By the way, don’t forget to enter our New Year Giveaway for a chance to win exclusive Howdygram “Thank You For Reading This” note cards and mouse pads! Everybody is eligible, including Howdygram employees since we don’t actually have any.

Shalom, y’all.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

I'll bet she hasn't seen him naked.

I just read a news item on that left me shaking my head. Actually, it left me slightly sick to my stomach, too. Hugh Hefner, 84 — that shriveled, has-been skirt-chaser of yesteryear — got engaged on Christmas Day to his 24-year-old girlfriend Crystal Harris, who was Playboy magazine’s “playmate of the month” in December 2009. (If anybody else finds this more than a little disturbing, please raise your hand.)

I guess I understand what HE sees in HER: an opportunity for legalized pedophilia with a girl who’s young enough to be his granddaughter. Her bridesmaids will probably carry Dora the Explorer backpacks.

But I’m dying to know what SHE sees in HIM. Hefner’s been a nauseating character since the early 1960s, when he championed his alcohol-and-orgies lifestyle on the world’s first reality TV show, “Playboy After Dark,” during which he romped around a sunken living room in silk PJs with a gaggle of publicity-starved 20-year-old bimbos. Hefner was the only person alive who didn’t think that show was really stupid. And I’m thinking this engagement thing is really stupid, too.

I’m going back to sleep now. Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Holiday highs and lows.

Now that Christmas Day is basically kaput it’s time to look back and reflect. It all started way too early (both of us were up by 7:30) so Sam decided to go for a doughnut run to Garland and then drove around afterwards looking for an open McDonald’s to buy me an Egg McMuffin because I had a craving. I was out of luck on that one; McDonald’s was closed. I wasn’t too bummed, however, because Egg McMuffins aren’t very exciting and I already had Plan B up my sleeve: dim sum for lunch at Hong Kong Royal. You can always rely on a good Chinese restaurant for Christmas because it’s the only place to be if you’re Chinese or Jewish. (Sam and I are not Chinese. Draw your own conclusion.)

We both had a very long afternoon nap and slept through most of “Ben Hur,” Sam ate an ice cream sandwich, I made a gigantic omelette for dinner, and then we watched the Cowboys screw up and lose to the Arizona Cardinals 27 to 26. Sam yelled at the TV a lot.

And now, as the day winds down, I can say with complete confidence this was an excellent, event-packed Christmas for two Jewish people in the Bible belt. All that’s left to do is take my final handful of daily pills, eat Cream of Wheat and maybe watch a “People’s Court” that I recorded on Thursday. We also have some “Seinfeld” reruns. Thank you for reading this.

Merry Christmas from the Howdygram.

From our house to yours, Sam and I wish y’all a very happy Christmas filled with lots of presents, excellent food and nothing you want to return.

We really don’t celebrate any holidays around here except for eating matzo omelettes during Passover, so we’ll probably just spend Christmas Day watching holiday movies on TCM and installing new towel rings in the master bath if I can talk Sam into it. Otherwise I can wait for the towel rings until he’s got a week of vacation in January. Contrary to popular opinion, I’m NOT having a towel ring emergency.

Merry Christmas and thank you for reading this.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve excitement in Howdygramland.

First of all, I don’t think anybody will consider this very exciting except ME so I’ll apologize right now for the misleading headline. The big news of the day ... I’M USING A NEW FONT FOR THE HOWDYGRAM. I got tired of the old one a long time ago but didn’t feel too inspired by the alternatives so I never bothered to make a change. Today, I guess, I finally felt inspired. Welcome to our new look.

Second, Sam is at our Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market loading up on Christmas Eve essentials, such as toilet paper, onions, a dozen eggs, Coke Zero and Cream of Wheat. He actually tried shopping at Tom Thumb first (they carry his favorite Perrier flavors) but he said it looked like the Calgary stampede and you couldn’t even find parking. So he adjusted his plans and called a couple of minutes ago from the hot cereal aisle at Wal-Mart to find out if I wanted my Cream of Wheat with brown sugar in instant packets or plain in a regular pour-your-own box. (I chose the latter.) It just isn’t Christmas without Cream of Wheat.

Tonight, weather permitting, we’re hoping to drive around looking at Christmas lights. I say “weather permitting” because there’s a monstrous storm front of very wet crap on the way, as pictured in the map from that appears below for your possible interest. The little red location pin is Mesquite. If you zoom in you can see me waving.

Incidentally, what you see on this map is NOT winter weather. The temperature here today is 40°, so we’re getting ordinary rain and probably thunderstorms. Due to a lack of snow Santa will arrive tonight in a Chevy Volt. Thank you for reading this.

Einsteins: they're everywhere.

Yesterday at 6 a.m. a mob of 500 local Einsteins showed up at Town East Mall in Mesquite to be first in line for a limited number of stupid new Air Jordan sneakers ... the “Cool Grey 11,” which sell for $200 a pair. Apparently this didn’t work out very well, because Mesquite police officers and a couple of security guards had to use pepper spray to control the crowd when everybody tried to storm through the main entrance. Merry Christmas from the friendly merchants at Town East Mall.
On Wednesday night another local Einstein crashed his car into a tree on George Bush’s front lawn here in Dallas. The driver was apparently on his way to visit somebody else on the same street, prompting Secret Service spokesman Max Milien to say, “There is no indication that there was any interest in the former president.” (I guess that’s true for the rest of us, too.)

On a totally unrelated subject, I tried another new product from Schwan’s this week ... unbelievably tasteless Green Bean Fries that bake in 12 minutes. I’m not sure what bothers me more about this product: the fact that it had no flavor at all or that people think this is an acceptable way to ruin a perfectly nice vegetable.
Ho ho ho, y’all ... it’s Christmas Eve! We’ve got a 90% chance of rain here in the Dallas area, which is great news if you’re a shrubbery because we’ve been bone dry for the entire month of December. Sam and I don’t mind the rain because we have no hoo-hah holiday plans. We’re staying home to watch movies and eat things. And I’m making homemade focaccia for dinner.

Keep an eye out for our big NEW YEAR GIVEAWAY ... coming soon to a Howdygram near you. Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

So here's the deal.

Lately I’m reading that lots of people in the Dallas area are trying to score a windfall by renting out their homes for Super Bowl XLV, which is being held at Cowboys Stadium on February 6. Some are asking as much as $15,000 for a three-night stay. This sounds like a stupid plan, if you ask me, because who wants total strangers eating your leftovers late at night or examining what’s in your linen closet. But a windfall is always appealing, so I’m thinking our GARAGE would be an excellent alternative if you’re on a budget. If I can get Sam to sweep it out and move the cars to the street for a few days we can probably sleep a group of six in there on cots. Bathroom facilities will be provided free by the Conoco station on Northwest Drive, which is also home to Howard’s Christian Catfish and Taxes, our neighborhood’s most creative dining spot. They’ve got four picnic tables inside the gas station and Howard also does tax returns on a card table in the closet. The map below illustrates: A) our house; and B) the Conoco station.
The only downside, of course, is our proximity to Cowboys Stadium. It’s 35 miles from here, straight west on Interstate 30. Although savvy Super Bowl fans will probably find plenty of hotel space a lot closer to Cowboys Stadium than our garage, in case you’re interested (or desperate) our best rate is $109.95 per person per night. Bring your own towels and thank you for reading this.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Celebrating food with the Howdygram maven.

Saturday was an unforgettable food-fest here in Howdygramland. It started at 10 a.m. when I surprised Sam by announcing that I wanted dim sum for lunch. He didn’t even have time to object or develop a counter-offer, because within half an hour we were already in the car heading for Hong Kong Royal in Carrollton. The food was wonderful. We shared seven plates of different little steamed dumplings plus gooey chicken rice soup, barbecue pork buns and my favorite sticky rice wrapped in tobacco leaves. (Just kidding. They’re actually lotus leaves but Sam thinks they look more like tobacco). The smiling chef pictured below is Ken, who owns the restaurant. Those are shrimp dumplings posing in the photo to his right.
But the food-fest continued at dinner when we had those gigantic stuffed portobello mushrooms we bought Thursday morning at Costco (see below). Seriously, this was probably the best house-made fresh entree I’ve ever bought at Costco ... and that statement covers a lot of territory. The mushrooms are about five inches in diameter, they’re stuffed with crumbled spicy Italian sausage and cheese, and you just heat them in the oven at 375° for half an hour. Heaven. At the moment I’m wishing I had leftovers.
And now for a completely different subject. I’m wondering if any of my Howdygram readers can tell me why a person’s hair would suddenly get curly without a reasonable explanation. I had stick-straight hair my entire life until about a month ago when, according to Sam, I started to resemble Shirley Temple. (I think he might be exaggerating a little.) Any information would be appreciated, however, and thank you for reading this. Also, don’t forget to buy those portobello mushrooms at Costco as soon as possible.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Too much of a good thing.

This doesn’t apply to everything, mind you. It’s a known fact that a person can’t get too much beautiful weather, fonts, Chinese food or love ... not necessarily in that order. But today on TCM there’s an overload of 15 consecutive feel-good Andy Hardy movies that started at 5:00 this morning, and quite seriously I don’t think I can stand five more minutes of Mickey Rooney’s face. I’ve been humming the theme song in my sleep. And every Andy Hardy movie basically involves the same recycled plot ... Andy has girlfriend trouble, money trouble or both — usually it’s both — and his kind and brilliant father has to bail him out. Enough already. Nobody’s life can possibly be that simple, even in 1940.
From left to right, here are the extremely happy Hardys: Sara Haden (Aunt Milly), Lewis Stone (Judge James Hardy), Fay Holden (Emily Hardy), Mickey Rooney (Andy Hardy) and Cecelia Parker (Marian Hardy, Andy’s sister). A nice group. But I want them to go away now.

Sam and I went to Costco this morning for a pile of truly fun stuff, including my favorite chicken salad with cranberries, a two-pound package of lox, fresh stuffed portobello mushrooms, a three-pack of Classico pasta sauce, 48 AA batteries, frozen tilapia, a tub of cashews, pistachios, the world’s largest bottle of fish oil capsules, Naproxen and a jar of faux store-brand Chex mix that’s actually better than the original. I also wanted toilet paper but I honestly wouldn’t know what to do with a package of 48 mega rolls. Like Andy Hardy, it’s just too much of a good thing.

Thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Internet shopportunities for everybody.

I’m still at it. Still finding bargains. Still shopping. Today’s landmark haul included an OXO pastry brush from, a jumbo laundry hamper on wheels from and new black cane from This is so damn exciting I can hardly stand it. The pastry brush and hamper are pictured below. (I’m sure you can guess what a cane looks like.)
In case you’re wondering how come I suddenly need a pastry brush, it’s because I plan to start making focaccia in my bread machine as soon as possible, which involves squishing raw dough onto a round baking pan and brushing it with olive oil and herbs. I bought four focaccia mixes last week from The Prepared Pantry. Incidentally, if you own a bread machine (or even if you just like to bake) you need to check out this website. They have EVERYTHING.

In other news, a 58-year-old man in Palm Beach, Florida, led security guards on a low-speed chase yesterday when he stole 11 packages of meat from a Winn-Dixie supermarket and tried to make his getaway riding a 3 m.p.h. electric shopping cart. Louis “Mario Andretti” Lorensen, pictured at right, was cornered by store employees in the parking lot after running over the foot of a four-year-old boy who didn’t get out of the way in time. He also threatened police during his arrest. I, for one, use electric shopping carts quite frequently, and even though they’re lots of fun (the ones at Wal-Mart even have horns you can beep) you can’t drive them at ramming speed and they’re definitely not appropriate for eluding police. I can move faster than that on my feet ... even with a cane. Although I rarely find it necessary to elude police.

Thank you for reading this.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The joys of English.

Before I move on to the subject at hand I just want to say that football sucked yesterday because the Bears and Cowboys both blew it. The Bears’ loss to the New England Patriots was worse, actually ... an embarrassing 36 to 7. The Cowboys did a little better, losing to the Eagles 30 to 27. Unfortunately, the Eagles are a bunch of arrogant clods and I wonder if any Howdygram readers saw DeSean Jackson’s intentionally obnoxious backwards dive into the end zone for an Eagles touchdown ... as if he’s the only football player on earth who ever scored six points. Jackson has been nominated for the 2010 NFL Knucklehead Award. I think he won last year, too.

And now let’s have a quick Howdygram language lesson courtesy of Overstock Perfume. I order from this website all the time because they have the lowest prices on the Internet ... but their product descriptions are written by middle school English students somewhere in central China and definitely take the cake. Last week I ordered an Always & Forever gift set by Jessica McClintock. The product photo and description appear below for your possible interest.
Jessica McClintock Perfume lunched by Jessica Gagnon McClintock. She was born in Maine, USA and introduced her first own designed signature odor in 1987. She is introduced many perfume and fragrances yet for women and Scott McClintock Men cologne for men. Jessica McClintock is believed over the spraying one or two whiffs of refreshing and passionate deodorants. Most of you have an aroma of a delicious odor, whichever on yourselves or on superstar moreover. Designer Jessica McClintock was introduced also her aroma online providing the correct information about different parts of body are reacting such as neck, hand, knees, waist and etc. Her odors are available now with discount categories with cheap price.

Thank you for reading this. I think.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Look out Santa. You’re next.

The Howdygram would like to thank Sam’s Aunt Adie for submitting the following news photo for publication. As you can see, nothing’s sacred where Sarah Palin is concerned. And although she may want everybody to believe that she’s a rugged frontier “mama grizzly,” be sure you check out the hair, makeup and manicure. This Rudolph-killer and her shiny rifle just got home from the salon.
In other news ... we’ve got a couple of good NFL games on tap for later today. The Bears will play the Patriots in a blizzard at Soldier Field at 3:15 p.m. and the Eagles will be in Arlington to play the Cowboys at 7:30. Although it’s not likely to happen, I’m hoping the Cowboys can win this one because the Eagles’ ex-con quarterback, Michael Vick, turns my stomach. I’m just saying.

Incidentally, the aforementioned blizzard has already taken its toll in other states. The Giants and Vikings game was rescheduled for Monday night because Minneapolis is buried, the roof of the Metrodome collapsed and the Giants are stranded in Kansas City. This is not such a bad deal for the Giants. Kansas City has a lot of great restaurants.

It’s a strange Sunday in Howdygramland. Sam is at the office today, which means I will probably be on my own here until very late tonight. My first solo activities will include: 1) making the bed; 2) turning up the heat; 3) hunting around for breakfast; and 4) watching “White Christmas” on TV. For the record, “White Christmas” is one of those movies I always watch alone because Sam is not a fan. Others on his will-not-watch list include most films from the 1960s, “The Bitter Tea of General Yen” and anything that stars Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds or Maurice Chevalier. As for me, I’ll watch just about everything except slasher movies and Sylvester Stallone. He’s been remaking the same stupid “Rocky” movies for 35 years ... plus there’s something SERIOUSLY WRONG with his face.

Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Maybe he thought nobody would notice.

Today’s big news story — right after the blizzard heading for Chicago — is the suicide of Mark Madoff, eldest son of Bernie Madoff, that sleazebag financier who’s currently serving 150 years for running the largest Ponzi scheme in Wall Street’s history. The younger Madoff apparently was found hanging today from a ceiling pipe in his multi-million dollar New York City loft condo.

Although he loved to insist that he had no knowledge of his father’s financial crimes, Mark always remained under close scrutiny and was named in multiple lawsuits by swindled investors attempting to retrieve ill-gotten gains. In particular, Mark was hounded by investigators about using $66 million from Madoff Securities to purchase luxury homes in New York City, Nantucket and Connecticut. This now-deceased Einstein probably figured nobody would ever suspect him of spending money that wasn’t actually his because dad let him act as the “whistle blower” when the Ponzi scheme story was reported to authorities two years ago.

I think today’s suicide pretty much tells the FBI what they wanted to know. Oy, what a family.

In case you don’t have anything too exciting planned for tomorrow morning please be sure to watch two terrific movies on TCM. “The Shop Around the Corner” (Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart) is on at 9:15 a.m. and “The Bishop’s Wife” (Cary Grant, David Niven and Loretta Young) is on at 11 (both times are Central). These are two of my all-time favorite holiday movies. Thank you for reading this.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fridays are better when you get enough sleep.

Good morning, and please accept my best wishes for a happy Friday filled with lots of clean socks and somebody who makes you breakfast. Sam and I got up way too early this morning (5 a.m.) after a strange and mostly restless night. I don’t know why we didn’t sleep well, but both of us will be headed back to bed shortly. Probably Sam first because he’s not writing a Howdygram post. 
I almost forgot to show you two new products I bought this week from Schwan’s ... a sack of cute little individual Angus meat loaves and some surprisingly good cheesy pierogies. To tell you the truth, it must have been a pain to pose those meat loaves for professional photographs because they actually look more like seasoned dog turds than people food. They taste better than they look, fortunately, so it’s my plan to flatten a few this weekend when I make paninis. We’re enjoying our new panini press!

My plans for the rest of the morning include: 1) going back to bed for at least two hours; 2) making a loaf of pumpernickel in my new bread machine; 3) watching “Girl Crazy” with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney that I recorded overnight on TCM; and 4) washing my new towels. Do I have a great life, or what? And FYI, my graphic design client just sent an email ... she picked logo #1 (the one on top). Please see yesterday’s post if you have no idea what I’m talking about. And thank you for reading this.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Repeat performance, bring your own spoon.

After last week’s preposterous soup-dumping fiasco I decided to try again, so I’ve got an enormous vat of my favorite concoction simmering on the stove. Just like before, it’s my world-famous Beef Barley Soup (see recipe) with a couple of substitutions: cut-up boneless chicken breasts instead of round steak and white cannellini beans instead of kidney beans. Holy cow, it smells like HEAVEN in here! My soup won’t be ready until 9 so I’ve been amusing myself (unsuccessfully) with other projects, such as designing some new official Howdygram apparel, folding socks and filing my nails. These are all worthwhile activities but a lousy surrogate for homemade soup. I’m just saying.

Sam and I have back-to-back doctor appointments tomorrow morning for routine checkups ... mine at 9, his at 9:15. We see the same internist at Baylor Health Center here in Mesquite, five minutes from home. I realize this isn’t very exciting news but I thought I’d mention it anyway. Thank you for putting up with me.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saturday achievements throughout the house.

Aren’t Saturdays delicious? I started my day at the crack of 11 with Sam out in the back yard planting ornamental grasses and pansies around the base of our new Oklahoma redbud tree and my premier loaf of New York rye underway in our new bread machine. This is so much fun I can hardly stand it. The bread mix (one of many that I ordered from The Prepared Pantry) even came with an unexpected yet impressive packet of OPTIONAL CARAWAY SEEDS. (We love caraway seeds.) Concurrently I also hard-boiled six eggs, wrote a few annual holiday letters and made the bed, not necessarily in that order. As the crowning glory of my afternoon I plan to watch Tiger Woods — who’s 15 under par and on top of the leaderboard for the first time in months — at the Chevron World Challenge while I eat rye bread, cheese and Greek olives with Sam.

I have the perfect life. Somebody peel me a grape.

News bulletin. Tonight at 5:15 (Central time) everybody should plan to watch “The Thin Man” on TCM because it’s probably the best William Powell and Myrna Loy movie ever made. I seriously hope you’re having as much fun today as I am. Thank you for reading this.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Breaking news from Howdygramland.

University of Florida study reveals that mercury pollution makes birds gay. According to wildlife ecology and conservation professor Peter Frederick, even low levels of mercury can disrupt hormones in birds, leading males to mate and nest with other males. To prove his scientific findings, Frederick noted that flamingo communities in south Florida are reporting a startling surge in web orders for “The Wizard of Oz” on DVD and Cher music videos. There is no evidence that mercury pollution has the same affect on humans. (Yet.)

TV clown Francisco Oliviera is elected to congress in Brazil. A television clown elected to Brazil’s congress has been approved to begin his duties as a lawmaker after barely passing a mandatory literacy test. Oliviera (pictured below), a 45-year-old comic better known by his stage name “Tiririca,” apparently demonstrated the absolute minimum of intellect during the exam and had extreme difficulty in writing. This result, however, sufficiently disproved critics who had claimed Oliviera was totally illiterate. To prepare for possible resistance after he begins his term of office, Oliviera has pre-ordered 500 cream pies and an industrial-strength squirt gun.
Jewish pets celebrate Hanukkah. Here we see Shmuyel Dogstein (below), the bar mitzvah greyhound, posing with his yarmulke and stuffed dreidl. Immediately after this portrait was taken Shmuyel joined his family for the traditional menorah-lighting ceremony and a trip out back to pee.
And now it’s time to enjoy a quiet Friday night at home. I’m going to reheat some Chinese leftovers and read the manual that came with my new bread machine. I’d also like to wish a great big GET WELL SOON to Ray Carmichael, who had his left big toe joint replaced this morning. I seriously think we all need to see a picture of this. Thank you.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Oy. It's been quite a day around here.

No snotty comments, please, if you think I’m a total dweeb for complaining about any of this. At the moment I’m almost numb with exhaustion after a nonstop day of homemaking activities. These included: 1) making paninis for lunch; 2) folding two loads of laundry; 3) watching Sam assemble my exciting new fabric steamer on wheels; 4) emptying the dishwasher; and 5) steaming the wrinkles out of our crushed new king-size comforter, which required two hours of labor and one gallon of water.

And if that’s not enough, a couple of hours ago I accidentally dropped four quarts of leftover vegetable barley soup. My all-time favorite ceramic bowl broke in half a dozen pieces and sent soup ricocheting in every direction ... all over my robe, my feet, the refrigerator and our beautiful stone floor. This actually looked like Godzilla and his three best friends projectile-vomited all over the kitchen. My first thought was to sell the house, then I considered begging Sam to come home from work early. Eventually I decided just to be a big girl and tackle the mess without anybody’s help. At this point I’m so tired I don’t even have the energy to bring in three FedEx deliveries sitting outside on the front doorstep. One of them is my new Oster breadmaker, which is in a box large enough to hold a full-size Oldsmobile.

I’m going to eat some peanut butter now and watch “Seinfeld” reruns. Thanks for stopping by.