Friday 29 March 2013

Mommy Rotten's Favourite Shit (Kind of Like Oprah Meets GOOP But Made For Us Poors)

I am a product junkie.  I just love trying new shit out and finding that next great thing.  I mean who doesn't love cool shit? Oprah and Gwyneth know we all love cool shit and have capitalized on that by transforming themselves into cool-shit gurus.  And why not?  Surely influential women like Oprah and Gwyneth would know about the best shit.  And they do.  Their shit is amazing if you're like, a petty millionaire or the ruler of a small nation.

But, if you're the kind of person who hesitates to drop two weeks' worth of milk money on a bar of soap (for real?) you've come to the right place.  I know about good shit.  My shit is also the best shit only I can guarantee that you can get yourself every item on this list for a fraction of the cost of Gwyneth Paltrow's exclusive, cheap ass looking white T-shirt (Seriously?  I can see right through that thing.  Don't you know anything about thread count, Gwynnie?)

Ideal for us revolting peasants.
Patchouli Blood Orange Soap from Blair Elements 

Blair Elements makes all kinds of fancy teas but what caught my attention (since I'm more of a coffee drinker) was their fancy soaps.  Patchouli Blood Orange is their most popular one and my favourite because the scent lasts a long time on your hands.  They have a wide variety of scents like Sandalwood, Pineapple Upside Down Cake and Cedar Vetiver with Pumice and they will only set you back about $6 a bar.

They are so good I can't imagine Oprah's being any better unless hers are made from rendered unicorn fat.  (Which they probably are.  Fucking rich people.)  The bars last a long time and are pretty big so I cut mine into halves or quarters to make them easier to handle.  Also try their bath bombs.  I get myself one every Mother's Day and it's heaven in a bathtub.

Kozlik's Mustard  

If you are a mustard lover then do I have the mustard for you!  Yes, it's expensive but not break-the-bank expensive.  At $6 a jar it is worth every penny.

Kozlik's mustards come in an insane variety like Balsamic Fig & Date, Green Peppercorn and Orange & Honey.  My personal favourites are Amazing Maple and Honey Garlic.  They go great with a lot of foods but most of the time I just eat up the mustard with nothing but a bag of pretzels for dipping.

Wasabi Snacks

For the adventurous snacker!  One day my husband came home with these green goodies and dared me to eat one.  After a few moments of working up the courage I popped one in my mouth.  It starts with a nose-clearing, eye-watering sting followed quickly by the natural sweetness of the rice coating and the peanut inside.

I quickly became hooked.  I buy them at the local farmer's market but for those of you not from Anytown you can get them online at Try My Nuts (love the name!).  If you like the peanuts you will love the wasabi peas which have even more bite.  Don't be afraid to try them.  I've fed them to Frack since he was a toddler and he adores them.  Mind you Frack is very weird in some of his snack choices.  His favourite foods include olives and Keen's Hot Mustard.

They're organic!  (Because I can't afford chemicals)
Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomatoes

I love growing tomatoes because they are just about impossible to fuck up.  They seem to thrive in poor soil and less than optimal watering which suits my gardening style just dandy.

My favourite to grow are these Cherokee Purple Heirlooms because they are monsters.  I've never seen tomatoes so huge in my life!  Don't even try using those pathetic little wire  tomato cages for these suckers.  I have to tie them directly to my fence and hope like hell they don't pull it down.

Fresh garden tomatoes are the best no matter what variety you grow but with these babies, knowing the grocery store charges $5 a pound for them, they're just so much more satisfying.  Each summer I feel like I've pulled $500 out of my tiny garden and it only cost me some sweat and a $3 packet of seeds.  Cherokee Purples are very big and sweet and juicy and are better for eating raw than cooking but I've managed to make some decent soups and bruschettas from them.

It's also gluten-free!
Burt's Bees

I am addicted to lip balm.  Apparently everyone who wears lip balm is addicted to it.  A friend once told me they put an ingredient in lip balm that actually dries out your lips creating a dependence on the product.  I don't really know how true this is but I noticed when I switched to a more natural product I was needing to use much less of it than Chap Stick or Vaseline.

My mother in-law introduced me to Burt's Bees and that is now my exclusive lip balm-crack.  I refuse to use anything else.  They come in other flavours like pomegranate and pink grapefruit but the best is their original mint lip balm in a tin.  The advantage of buying the tin is that it costs the same as a tube but you get twice as much.  My whole family uses this shit.  Yes, it does cost twice as much as the regular stuff ( $5 a tin) but because it works better, it lasts a lot longer.

From mysterious Walmart.
4 Step Buffing Block

One year I was in a mall trying to do my Christmas shopping when I got stopped by a girl working one of those kiosks you find in the middle of the mall that sell sunglasses and jewelry and shit.  Only hers sold beauty products.  No not beauty products.  Beauty miracles!  From mysterious Israel!  And I knew it was totally legit because the girl was beautiful and from Israel.

She seized my hand and started furiously buffing my thumbnail with her special, magical buffing block that, she whispered, was coated in micro-diamonds found in the mysterious sands of Israel's beaches along the Dead Sea.  Or something like that, I think.  It was hard to pay attention.  All I know is that when she was done I could see my face reflected in my pretty, shiny fingernail and I just had to have that block!  But I couldn't have it because I had to spend all my money on other people (stupid Christmas!).

The worst part was that she liked me so much she was going to give me this special deal that I must NOT tell her boss about because she would get into BIG trouble.  See, they needed to charge at least $60 for the whole manicure kit (complete with mysterious herbal oils to moisturize your nailbeds) just to cover the cost but since we were such besties now she wouldn't dream of taking more than $17.99!  Scandalous!  I had to regretfully decline and she bid me a heartfelt goodbye, squeezing my hand as she urged me to come back and speak only to her for that special secret deal.  It was all very emotional.

About a month after Christmas I found one in the drug store for $4.

It may not be made from the magical sands of the Dead Sea but it works just as well.  I love mine because I like my hands to look pretty but I'm not very good at painting my nails.  They always look like they were painted by a drunken kindergartener.  With this I can have pretty, shiny nails without all the mess and fuss.

I think I could be pretty good at this.  You see, ladies?  Poor people like cool shit, too.  You might do well to remember that while you're hawking $25 socks at us.  "Great Gifts on a Budget" my ass.

Thursday 14 March 2013

A Love Letter to My Husband, After Valentine's Day

To My Dearest Husband,

Remember Valentine's Day?  We had a perfect night, didn't we?  Your mother took the kids from us, you came home with a nice bottle of wine, and I prepared some Korean Barbecue.

Ah , Korean Barbecue.  One of our favourite meals!  You even ran to the Asian grocery for the good Kimchi (IFL Kimchi!).  You are a good man.  You also insisted we use the table-side Korean barbecue we borrowed from our friend Jen.

We should probably get our own.  Only $30.
Remember the barbecue?  The same Korean barbecue we keep neglecting to return because we're assholes and it is somehow always dirty?  The one that was finally clean from the last time we used it but was somehow still in our possession?  You said that it would be much more romantic to cook table-side so as to enjoy the novelty of having hot fat splatter in our faces.

I would have been perfectly happy to just precook the meat in our frying pan.  I could have had all of our mess cleaned up before we even began eating.  It's just that you so gallantly offered-no....promised to clean the barbecue that I confess, I fairly lost my head.  You know how offering to clean just drives me I agreed.

And aside from a few minor burns, it was a magical evening.

Week 4:  Seriously???
I guess I got a little worried when you ignored the dirty barbecue the next day.  I didn't want to call attention to it after the wonderful night we had.  Doing so might imply that your intentions were less than honourable.  A few days later I had hoped my question asking where I should store the dirty barbecue would serve as a hint for you to clean it.

It did not.

A week after Valentine's Day I briefly considered cleaning it myself, but decided not to.  It would have looked too much like I was accusing you of something.  I'm sure all those times I cleaned your filthy frying pans after waiting a week (because I needed them), you were sincere when you said "Oh honey, I was totally going to wash those!"

I know you would never on purpose leave the dirty dishes for so long that I would get fed up and do them for you.  But I also knew that if I cleaned that damned barbecue after you promised to clean it for me on the sacred day of St. Valentine, I might be tempted to exact revenge.  Which, as you well know after 13 years, I am totally capable of doing.

I don't mean to be impatient.  I know it's only been a month.  And so, rather than subject you to my somewhat immature sense of justice, I have instead decided to store the filthy, crusty barbecue in your man-cave for you to deal with at your leisure.  This is what I believe will be safest for everyone.

                                                                                           Your Loving Wife

P.S.  We really need to return this barbecue.  We are the worst kind of people.

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Mommy Small Talk

You're at a park/playgroup/waiting room and another mother is sitting nearby.  She notices your child playing and says to you, "He's cute.  How old?"

Uh oh.

You are about to engage in Mommy Small Talk.  Everyone hates small talk but recognizes that it performs the valuable social functions of filling the terrifying abyss of uncomfortable silence and facilitating conversations with people you might like to befriend.  But my experience of Mommy Small Talk is that it often hinders friendship and has transformed that uncomfortable silence from terrifying to golden.

It's not that I have a problem talking about being a Mom, but I am only comfortable with it if I feel like I can just be myself and be honest.  I can do that here on my blog because no one is being forced to read my stuff.  If you don't like me you can leave and, unless you leave a comment telling me what a jerk I am, I would never be the wiser.

But with a face-to-face Mom I care about how I present my kids in case they would like to play with her kids.  I care about how I present my parenting because some of my jokes could result in a visit from a Children's Aid Worker.  And I care about how I make her feel because well, I'm a human being.  There's enough pressure that comes from being a Mom and I don't want to be contributing to that if I can possibly help it.

The Oxford Dictionary says that small talk is supposed to be about "unimportant and uncontroversial matters".  But there is nothing unimportant or uncontroversial about Mommy Small Talk.  Seemingly innocent topics like sleeping habits, feeding choices, doctor's visits, even diapering, can be fraught with pitfalls for the unwary conversationalist.  If you are asking the question you run the risk of hitting a very raw nerve and if you are answering the question you are at risk of sounding like an insufferable asshole.

Because here is a valuable truth: when it comes to parenting you can never defend your choices without coming off as a superior shit to someone, somewhere.


Any defense of your parenting choices carries an implied criticism of those who did not make the same choices.  Just the other day I was making Mommy Small Talk with a first-time pregnant acquaintance of mine.  She knows she is having a boy and, even though I didn't ask, she was adamant that her son would be circumcised ASAP (while still in the womb if possible), complete with a small shudder of horror at the alternative.

First time preggers are cute, aren't they?  She had no idea that both my boys are not circumcised.  She had no idea that what I was hearing was "Mothers who do not circumcise their boys are condemning them to a life of ..." whatever it is that made her shudder, I guess.  She has no idea yet what a hot-button issue circumcision is.  You can make light of it and joke around to downplay your choices but you may still come off as an asshole.  Sometimes joking makes it even worse because it can sound patronizing.  

Don't even try talking about developmental milestones.  If your kid is precocious it's hard to not to look like you're bragging.  Plus you run the risk of hitting a sensitive spot by unwittingly calling attention to possible developmental delays you didn't know her kids have.  Recovering from this can be even more disastrous.  As a Mom whose son is in speech therapy I can tell you that hearing jokes like "You're so lucky he isn't talking yet.  I can't get mine to shut up!"  is pretty fucking hilarious.  Like root canal, hilarious.

If the purpose of small talk is to try to make friends it fails pretty miserably.  There are Moms in my neighbourhood that I have known for years and yet after logging in countless hours of pointless conversation I still know almost nothing about them.  They in turn know nothing about me.  I've been hiding it on purpose because I want them to still like me and think I'm nice.  I don't know if they could handle the real me in all my irreverent, F-bomb dropping glory.  And for all I know they are just as sassy and fun but have the same anxieties about who they really are.  We could be laughing our asses off over pitchers of Margarita right now, if only we had met each other without our kids nearby.

Instead, I confess there are times when I see one of these Moms and I pretend not to because I don't have the patience, time, or energy to pretend to be the "nice" Mom and stress myself out trying not to accidentally offend.  I know.  I am a terrible person.  Don't hate me.

It really feels to me like we're not allowed to talk about anything else, doesn't it?  When I am in an unavoidable Mommy Small Talk situation I feel like it would be rude to talk to the other Mom without mentioning that obvious fact we have in common.  So I cringe inwardly as I consider which controversial parenting topic is least likely to cause offense based on the extremely limited information I have of her.  I brace myself for her answer hoping to hold in check any spontaneous reaction I may have if she says something stupid.  I breathe a sigh of relief when she doesn't.  At this point it seems rude and awkward to try and steer the conversation around to a safer topic.  I leave the conversation feeling like I just survived some kind of ordeal.

Wouldn't we all be a little better off without Mommy Small Talk?  It is widely acknowledged that religion and politics are too controversial for polite conversation.  So why do we consider it not only okay but mandatory that parents who barely know each other make small talk about something as personal and touchy as parenting?