Category Archives: Fabulous luxury

Liz’s Oprah’s Favorite Things List

Sadly, one of my bucket items will never be accomplished; I will never receive amazing, free stuff from Oprah’s “Favorite Things” show. I loved that show. It was so fun. It was an afternoon I always looked forward to as I would race home from school. It was joyful and awesome. I always imagined myself in the audience, freaking out and screaming when she announced that we would all go home with t-shirt sheets or a new line of facial cleanser, “You get cleanser, and you get cleanser, and you get cleanser!”   I loved the fact she gave away so much stuff. It got me thinking what stuff I would give away to an audience if I could. I started my own list of “Oprah’s Favorite Things” – items that I have used and loved for a long time. So here they are. Here is my own “Liz’s Oprah’s Favorite Things” list. They are all “Liz tested, Liz approved” and they are all under $50.00, most under $20.00. For what it’s worth, I really do love the following items.

-Talenti Pistachio Gelato. It is seriously amazing. I could easily put a pint away in one sitting, no problem. (Locals, you can get it at the Washburn IGA) blog 1

-Boru Vodka. A few years ago, the trio entered a “Best Bar Band” contest that Boru sponsored, and we ended up in the top ten. Because of this, we were sent some amazing swag including a case of Boru vodka. Yummy, yummy, yummy. Named after the first king of Ireland, it can be tricky to find. (Luckily for locals, you can order it at The Snug in Washburn.)

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-Blackwing 602 pencils. The best. Google it. They make me want to write things by hand.  The eraser comes out, so you can extend the life of your pencil, and the flat end keeps it from rolling.  Also, the graphite is amazing! June 2011

-Neutragena Healthy Skin Enhancer. Don’t let the name fool you – it’s totally make-up, but it also contains sun screen, moisturizer and retinol. I’ve used it for years, but after a few months, I noticed fewer lines on my face. It comes in a pump and lots of shades.

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-Clinique Kohl Shaper for Eyes. My favorite shade is black coffee. These are so cool, because the liner goes on like butter BUT the coolest thing is that there is a sharpener in the cap so you can always have a nice, focused tip. My friend Marcie turned me onto these a few years ago and I have never looked back. The best.

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– Any and all jewelry by Poca Adams. Poca is a silversmith in the Washburn/Bayfield area, and she uses basalt from Lake Superior in most of her designs. My favorite are my sweet pair of earrings, hand hammered hoops with basalt. She finds the stones herself on the beach. Added bonus? Her earrings are lighter than you would think. Check her out on facebook.

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-Sock It To Me socks. They are the best socks around (unless you are skiing, and then I would go with SmartWool) They are fun, funky, and fabulous. They have a great fit; they stay up under your knee without cutting off any circulation, and they breath while keeping your feet warm. They are a little costly (about 10 bucks a pair) but totally worth it. I like to keep them for days when I need a little boost of fun.

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-OPI nail polish, specifically, “I Am Not Really a Waitress” If you are a woman who has ever painted her nails, or gotten her hair done in a salon, you are most likely familiar with OPI. Super fun colors, and even better, super creative and quirky names for the colors. It doesn’t chip or crack and you can even get by without a top coat. I don’t wear nail polish that often, but when I do, it is always OPI.

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– Goslings Ginger Beer. This is amazing stuff. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t alcoholic, but that’s not to say it doesn’t work really well with vodka. It isn’t too sweet, but the ginger isn’t too bitey either, which means a perfect Moscow Mule is on the way! (Goslings, vodka, fresh mint, and simple syrup if you like, but it doesn’t need it.) Serve it in a mug if you want to be traditional. Also, enjoy it alone out of the can, on a hot day or after a workout. It is delicious!

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Filed under Fabulous luxury, Humor, Oprah

Where the Hell did Summer go?

I haven’t blogged for a while, so I am back on that not-so-gravy-train of literary fun. Let me fill you in what has been keeping me busy this summer, or at least in June.

A few years ago, Kriner and I started a tradition of taking the last 2 weeks of June after school is out and taking a trip, usually out east. Aside from seeing family, we like to plan little adventures and side excursions, which is exactly what we did this year. Did I mention this is a car trip? Yup.

My parents took a long car trip once with kids and another family, and frankly, that infamous trip to Texas is deserving of it’s own blog, so I won’t go into it here, but suffice to say, they did it once. That was how wise and insightful my parents were. They took a long family car trip once. This makes number three for us. Kriner and I have a problem with martyrdom but admitting it is half the problem, right? That being said, Kriner is an amazing vacation planner (please see Disney blog…) so he planned our trip around….amusement parks! I don’t necessarily like amusement parks, but I like my husband and my kid, and I really like seeing them happy, so I agreed.

If you haven’t met him, Kriner is a cynic. Not a “bit of a cynic” who may point out the price of a gift, but just a straight up, the world is pretty messed up, people kind of suck, Capitalism is awful, kind of cynic. Here’s the awesome thing about cynics. When they find something they really love, they really, really love it. They’re a tough crowd in general, so when something wins them over, it’s a huge boon. I love him for that. I tend to be a bit easy with loving stuff (he says I use the word “awesome” too much) and he tends to be a bit tougher audience member for that sort of thing. We’re a great balance. Anyway, anytime I can see him in a state of joy I will go for it. Skiing brings him joy, football gives him joy, playing drums gives him joy, watching his daughter do pretty much anything brings him joy, and roller coasters bring him joy. A lot of joy. This blog will recount our trip, and the roller coasters Kriner and Em road along the way.

APPLETON, WI to Lawrence University, for my 24th reunion. That is not a typo. I was friends with a lot of folks a year older than me, which made for a pretty lonely senior year. When I was a freshmen, my room was placed in the middle of a group of Delta Gamma sophomores who loved me and took me under their wing immediately. Needless to say, I soaked up said love, and it made me do something I never (in a million years) thought I would do; I joined a sorority. Yes, I am a “DG” and no, I will not show you the secret handshake. The reunion was a lovely affair, made only more lovely because another 24ther showed up, my friend Liz. Liz and I were more acquaintances in college, but in the past few years, we have become good friends over the internet, with shared experiences, most including lazy students and breast cancer, not necessarily in that order. Here are some important things I learned at my 24th reunion at Lawrence University.

1) Former professors are as arrogant and douche-baggy as you remember.

2) Even though I was the youngest in the room, I managed to look the oldest.

3) People’s belly laughs don’t change with age, thankfully.

4) People who you thought would be incredibly happy may not be, and people who look bored may actually be at peace and pretty cool with the world.

5) I really haven’t necessarily done that well for myself considering the education I received.



-On Saturday, Kriner and Em went to Green Bay (about a 20 minute drive) and explored the “Zippin’ Pippin” which is located on the edge of Lake Michigan. It is a city-run park (a plus for my commie husband) and the coaster is a replica of Elvis Presley’s favorite coaster. Totally serious. For some reason, the city of Green Bay decided to build a replica of a dead music icon’s favorite ride. After that, they went to the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame. (Aside from the roller coasters, he worked in some sports too…)


There is no reason to go to Sandusky, save going to Cedar Point Amusement Park. I know that now, because we went there. Seriously, if you love roller coasters, then you already know about Cedar Point. If you’re like me, and don’t love them, then Sandusky is not for you. Cedar Point has the largest number of roller coasters of any park in the United States. There really aren’t a whole lot of other rides. Just coasters. This meant I got a lot of reading done on my kindle. Emily and Kriner rode 12 roller coasters in one day. Seriously. I don’t think the AMA supports that kind of nonsense, but they did it. The only reason they stopped, was because Kriner pulled his left chest muscle on a wooden roller coaster (they apparently are more jerky and he was trying to hold himself steady) and he didn’t want park officials thinking he was having a heart attack, as he was forced to clutch his chest when on the rides. Seriously.


Kriner’s family lives there. His mom recently sold her home and moved into an apartment, for which, we are all happy. (She was smack in the middle of flood country. Now she gets a pool.) We were out there for her birthday, and had a lovely time. We spent a day in NYC, as Wilkes-Barre is less than 2 hours away. We saw Spiderman. Kriner and Em were the ones who braved the 1/2 price line.  Now, I must admit that Spiderman wasn’t on my list of shows I wanted to see, ever.  But, I immediately did a “look for the rainbow” check of my disappointment. “Hey, I’m in New York, going to see a Broadway show…you’re going to love it…look how happy – dare I say ‘joyful’ my husband looks! Shut up and enjoy the damn show.” You know what? I totally enjoyed it.

The script sucked, the music was..well, you know that one U2 song you know? Go ahead and get it in your head for a minute…Yeah, it sounds like that. But the technical aspects of this show were staggeringly good. It was like they picked up the gauntlet that “Wicked” threw down and ran with it around the track a few times. The set never stopped moving, they had more intelligent lights than I could count and the acrobatics were stunning. It was easy to see how a few actors had to be sacrificed for it. (If you didn’t know, it had a very rough opening, and more than 1 hospitalization…I get it now.) However, the night we saw it, no one got hurt, and Spiderman and Julie Taymore (one of my favorite directors ever) saved the day.

COASTER COUNT – We also spent a day at one of my favorite amusement parks, Knobbel’s. I actually like this park a lot. It is owned by a family, and has that kind of feel to it. There is no booze allowed, which, for those who know me, may be shocked, but it really makes it all the more fun. Tons of happy kids, tons of sunburned, laughing parents and tons of rides. One thing they have at the park is a really, really old and beautifully restored Merry-Go-Round with the “ring” feature. You know that saying “catch the brass ring?” Well, it came from old rides like this. The Merry-Go-Round has a metal arm that pushes out when the ride starts, and iron rings that pop out; you grab them as you go. In that line of iron rings, is one brass ring, and if you get the brass ring, then you get to ride again for free. I really, really love that. How great that a catch phrase came from a ride? I love the metaphor of it all. It makes me happy and actually, brings me joy.

This was the first year Emily could reach the rings. I cried. They actually sell brass rings in the gift shop, and every year, I buy too many and give them as gifts. Again, the perfect metaphor. “Here you go, here’s your brass ring. You’ve got it all.” I see them time to time on my friend’s key chains. Still makes me happy. Oh yeah, Emily and Kriner rode on 6 coasters that day.


I had never been to our Nation’s Capitol and I thought it was high time we introduced our little American to it. I had been warned the city causes a pretty serious patriotic reaction, bordering on jingoistic. It’s true. We were about a seven minute walk from the White House and when I spotted it over the trees, my eyes filled immediately. The one thing about that trip was we walked a ton. We saw as much as we could and walked almost everywhere. We took the subway once, and took a cab once. Other than that, we hoofed it. We went to three of the Smithsonian Museums: Space, American and Native American. Screw the art, right? I saw space shuttles and the Hope Diamond. I saw Marvin Defoe’s birchbark canoe. (He’s a local Red Cliff resident, pretty cool!) We toured Congress and even met the First Lady. OK, not really, but we had to be re-routed twice as motorcades came and went. That was pretty cool. The food in D.C. is easy for a vegan, and we stayed in a fabulous hotel. (Note to self – when asked “would you like the free upgrade to the suite?” always answer “yes, please.”)

No roller coasters, but my heart rose and sank just the same when I saw the Lincoln Memorial and the Martin Luther King statue. We toured the Ford’s Theater, and had a fabulous lunch with our friend Timothy who is a local girl done good, as she now is a curator for the new African-American Smithsonian Museum they are building. The lawn was ripped up and the reflecting pool was empty (metaphor?) but we didn’t care. It was a great trip.




Turns out, one of my all-time best friends from high school, and all-around fabulous guy, Joe Rigotti lives in Cincinnati. Also, it is a logical place to stay given the drive and (gasp) turns out the Brewer’s were playing the Reds while we were there. Kriner and Em caught a few games.

I spent time in the hotel by myself, a new-found hobby. I am not the type of person who enjoys being alone; I find it exhausting. I also feel bad for doing “nothing.” If I am home alone, I tend to do laundry or dishes or find something to do. However, in a hotel room, I can’t do that, I just lay around and watch HBO. No guilt, no “to do” list, no nothing, just me and the bed and the remote. Luxury.

At one point I dig drag myself up and out to go meet with Joe for a coffee and later dinner.  He looks fabulous (again, I am amazed that these people look so much younger than I) and seems happy. He is an event coordinator, and everyone in town knows and likes him, or at least it seems that way. He may be outgrowing Cincinnati…he’s that awesome.

Cinncinati is a pretty cool town. Right on a river, it has a lot going for it. We went up the Rod Carew Tower, although we were trying to figure out why it is called that, since he wasn’t from there and wasn’t really known for playing with the Reds; it was a nice view nonetheless. It’s very tall; tall enough to make me nervous in the rickety old elevator that holds 4 at a time, but a lovely view.

Coaster Count – 0 (but that tower was really tall)


This was the first time we kind of explored the city of Mackinaw, and it was a fun tourist trap for sure. There are lots of restaurants and stores, ice cream, fudge and moccasins, but they present it in a very pretty package. Unknowingly, we trespassed into a closed fort, and walked around. We were so surprised to see everything was open, and we just kind of sauntered around, peeking in buildings and checking stuff out. On our way out, I noticed the gate, and the lock, and the signs…oops. When you’re walking on the beach, well, sometimes you miss stuff.

Mackinaw is pretty cool, especially under the bridge.  I  like dipping my toe into one Great Lake and then take a few steps and dipping it into another.

COASTER COUNT – 0 but driving over the bridge should totally count.


Coasters ridden – 19

Great Lakes stepped in – 4

Miles walked – 1,793,967,355,298,089,786,766,102,800.

Amazing Things Seen – too many to remember them all, but hopefully enough to make some great memories.

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Filed under Bayfield, Fabulous luxury, Fall, Family, Holiday, Humor, Parenting, Roller Coasters, Summer, Theater


I love vodka.  It’s pretty much all I drink. Sure, on occasion I’ll have a glass of wine, or on very special occasions I’ll drink whiskey because it’s a delicious sin, which I always pay for in the morning, but mostly, I drink vodka.

In college, I drank beer. I loved it, but I became allergic to it.  It makes me sneeze something horrid.  I drank gin for a while, but it didn’t take.  It reminds me of chewing on pine needles.  I turned to vodka, not out of love, but out of desperation. I didn’t even like vodka when I started drinking it.  I drank it with cranberry juice or lemonade.  I thought (as most Americans do) that vodka doesn’t have any real taste other than “booze” so of course I felt I had to dress it up. Oh, how wrong I was.

Not only is vodka my drink of choice, but in my small community, people associate me with it, and not in a drunky, drunk way, (OK, maybe in a little drunky, drunk way) but when I order a vodka and club soda, which I affectionately call a “skinny bitch” bartenders give a knowing nod.

I roll my eyes at flavored vodkas; I don’t even use a lime or lemon; just the booze, please.  I love the taste of a good, stout vodka.

This past birthday, I received four bottles of vodka from four different friends. Really good vodka. I feel lucky that my friends know me so well, and that they thought so well of me to get me such a fine and luxurious treat. It started me thinking about the different kinds of vodkas I love. Turns out, I’m something of a vodka aficionado.

My friends have amazing food and wine blogs, and when I read them, I become impressed and hungry. I love how they know how to make soda bread at the drop of a hat, or what wine will go with what braised something-or-other. It got me thinking of that old adage, “write what you know” so I thought, I will share my knowledge of good vodkas!  This is what I have learned in the past 20 years of drinking.

The following is a list of my favorite vodkas, from every day, to “stash it away and bring it out only on special occasion” bottles.

IN A PINCH – I drink Smirnoff. It’s cheap, tasty and clean. It’s great with tonic or good juices. This is also my go-to in bars in southern Wisconsin. Often in nicer bars and restaurants, it will be on the rail, so if you can spy that tell-all red label out of the corner of your eye, order a vodka with confidence and without appearing to be a vodka snob.

EVERYDAY – I like either Svedka or Rain. Both have a smooth quality and can stand up to club soda. One is organic, one is triple distilled, both are priced reasonably. A little lacking in the flavor arena, they are affordable and subtle. It’s a great Monday-Thursday vodka.

OUT IN PUBLIC – My stand-by order, is always “Absolut and club soda.” Absolut is a great, clean vodka you can find almost anywhere. It’s fairly affordable and it’s flavor (yes, it has one) is a little on the high-end of the palette, which I like, and it can stand up to the sweetest of lemonade. You can’t go wrong with it.

Now we get into the fun stuff…

WEEKENDS AT HOME – There was a week in my life, where my old friend Blake and my new friend Ted both gave me a bottle of Tito’s for no reason, so I figured it was fate. I admit I was a little dubious when I saw the paper label and the plastic, bronze colored cap, but as it turns out, I love this vodka. It’s made by Mockingbird distillery in Austin and it is the best affordable vodka out there. I love it with club soda. It is a yummy, smooth vodka with a little bit of gusto on the end. Completely affordable, completely tasty. If your local spirit shop doesn’t carry it, point it out to them; they should.  (I’m lucky enough to have Bayfield Wine and Spirits that carries it and many of the excellent vodkas that will follow.  Joanne rocks and often will introduce me to new and tasty treats!  We’re lucky to have her here in our little town. )

FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS – One of the vodkas I got for my birthday was one of my all-time favorites, Ultimat and, if the indigo blue bottle doesn’t take your breath away, then have a shot of this. This is a blend vodka of potato and grain.  (It is hard to find a potato vodka these days, especially in the states. Most are made from grain, and yeah, you can tell the difference.) I love it because it stands up in a highball glass with or without club soda. I could drink this on ice and not flinch. It is smooth, clean and yummy, but has some darker notes that are really fun.

WHEN I FEEL HIGH BROW – Belvedere is a great Polish rye vodka. It has a strong taste, and some may think it comes dangerously close to being “boozy” but it isn’t. It’s powerful, but it has a sweet start and a strong finish, so it gets away with it. Lime works well, but it doesn’t need it.  This is my vodka of choice when serving dry martinis.

WHEN I NEED/DESERVE AMAZING VODKA – This vodka was recently voted “Top Vodka in the World” by Spirit Journal and I know why. This is not your father’s vodka. In fact, this is more like your father’s appertiff or even Kirsch. That’s what Boyd and Blair’s Potato Vodka tastes like to me. The best. It is made in the states (Pennsylvania) and they make it in single batches. Each bottle is numbered and signed, but all that stuff aside, this is an amazing vodka. I would never think to drink it with tonic. It would ruin it. This vodka should be drank on the rocks, in a martini or with club soda. It is deliciously rich, flavorful and potent. It honestly smacks of Kirsch and has some almost vanilla tones with it’s bold vodka start. I love this vodka, a lot. I don’t drink it everyday; I savor it for special occasions. This is not for the faint of pallet, as the flavor of this amazing liquor is strong, but yummy.  My friend Solvieg got me a bottle, and I have been hooked ever since.


My trio entered a contest for Boru vodka (Best Bar Band in the States) and ended up in the top ten.  For that, they sent us a free case of Boru.  I may have been influenced by the free swag, but let me tell you, that was a lovely vodka.  It had a bit of a floral aftertaste, and not in a bad perfumey way, but in a lovely hint of lavender way.  If you can find it, Boru is excellent.

A new bottle, just opened today (another birthday present) is a bottle of Kru 82.  It’s a tad kitschy, because the bottle is an actual aluminum drinking canister with a grappling hook.  When I got it it, I thought it was all promo and doubted the substance, but after a drink, this vodka has merit.  It has a real sweet start and some fun aftertastes, almost a hint of fennel.

The current trend in vodkas is adding a blade of sweet grass to the bottle.  I was lucky enough to have friends visit Poland a year ago and they brought me back a bottle of Zubrowka.  This is not for the faint of heart.  There is a real distinct flavor of vanilla and almond, and I have found when sharing it, the response is either love or hate.  Folks who like a fuller-tasting vodka seem to really enjoy the sweetness of the grass, but be warned, it can overpower the timid.  Don’t drink it with tonic, but rather sip it on the rocks or with a cleaner juice like apple.

Don’t be afraid of vodka!  Good vodkas have a distinct taste; it isn’t just for martinis or cranberry juice, and it won’t make you feel like crap in the morning…well, assuming you don’t drink too much of it.  Skol!


Filed under Fabulous luxury, Humor, Vodka

Disney (Part 1)

Kriner and I have very little in common.  He is vegan; I love meat.  He is an exercise fanatic; I sit on the couch and use the remote.  I love musical theater, he would rather go to the dentist.  I’m loud; he’s quiet.  He’s a planner, I’m spontaneous.  He gives 100%; I clock in around 60.  He’s concerned with the state of the environment; I’m concerned with the state of entertainment.  Kriner hates being embarrassed, and unfortunately for him, that is where I live.

There is one thing however, we have in common which will surprise many.  We both have an undying love for Disneyworld.  I’m completely and utterly serious.  We love Disney and all things Disney.  For all its consumerism, marketing, plastic and fakery, we “buy in” big.

Disney has the ability to melt my cynicism and snark and leave me in a puddle of tears when walking down Mainstreet USA, listening to the constant orchestrated soundtrack and watching the faces of children.  (They actually release doves when the park opens.)  For Kriner, it is a place of amazing rides, education and culture.  (Disney really does sneak in a lot of cultural and environmental education under the guise of “fun.”)  We really love it.

When we go to Disneyworld, I leave everything up to my husband.  Kriner is all about the planning.   Disney has four parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and MGM Studios) and he has researched them to the hilt.  He knows the short cuts, the good food, and the trouble spots. He knows where to go and what to avoid.  He knows what parks open early; he knows what parks are open late.  He knows where the parades are going to be, and most importantly he knows how to manage the lines.  We have been there 3 times, and we have never, NEVER waited more than 13 minutes in a line for a ride, and even that is a rarity.  I am completely serious.   And these aren’t dumb insignificant rides like Goofy’s Barnstormer, and the lame tram in Tomorrowland; these are big, impressive rides like Space Mountain, Dumbo, Peter Pan’s Flight, Haunted Mansion and Splash Mountain.  He has a system and it works, but it comes at a cost.

In order to make it work, we need to strictly adhere to the system.  We take our vacations pretty seriously, and no one ever returns from a Woodworth/Kriner vacation feeling relaxed and well-rested.  We have things to do and Disney characters to see.  Kriner is the captain and Em and I his crew and we do what he says, no matter how taxing it may be.  It almost becomes a bit of a religion with its own dogma and practices.  He even has Commandments…

1. There shall be no sleeping in.  All wise and good men and their families shall be up before the sun so they can cleanse and feed their bodies in order to make pilgrimage to the chosen park of the blessed day.  All feeding during the breaking of dawn shall happen in the holy hotel room, as it saves consecrated time and blessed money.

2. A wise man and will be waiting in line before the park opens.  When the park opens in the sacred time of the early morning, there shall be no dilly dallying, and all rides in close proximity shall be shunned, for they are evil and can tempt a man into a hellish line.  The wise man will move to the back of the park and work his way back to the front, moving against the tide of the unwise who are sinful line-waiters.  It is then that his good and chaste wife will travel with haste to the other most desired and deserved rides and obtain the righteous and holy fast-pass.

3. The fast-pass is a thing of glory and shall never be mocked or taken in vain.  It must be heeded at all costs.  There shall be no stopping for ice cream or photos with park characters if it means missing a fast-pass.  It is the way and the law.

4. A man must not be afraid to run verily in the park in order to avoid the temptation of the hellish line.  If the good wife is hesitant to do this, she must repeat the mantra “It’s OK, no one knows us here.”

5. At the holy hour of 2:00 pm, a wise man and his family will go back to the holy hotel room for a time of replenishing.  This is the blessed time of swimming, napping and snacking.

A wise man and his family will then return back to the sacred Disney fully refreshed at 6:00 pm for dinner and again, he shall go into the park against the tide of the unwise, exhausted and often sunburned man who is leaving at this time.  The wise man is refreshed and jubilant going in.  The unwise man is spent and cranky going out.

6. After the 6:00 dinner, the family members will then have time to be “open to what they want to do” and no plan need be followed.  This is the most special time of reward for the man who had planned, as the wise man knows. This is a time of low attendance in the park and hellish lines can be avoided.  However, this special evening time may not coincide with special evening parades, for then the purpose is lost and he may again be tempted down the path of the hellish lines, as the unwise man seeks out the parades, the wise man avoids them.

7. Midday meal will be planned and shall not be eaten with sloth or vanity.  It is sustenance only and if possible, should be eaten while walking.  The only meal of the day that can be eaten with enjoyment and abundance is the evening meal.  Reservations for all evening meals must be made in advance at least 30 days prior to the pilgrimage.  This is done to avoid the hellish lines.

8. If a wise man’s mother-in-law is with him on his pilgrimage, a wheelchair must be procured for her, even if she is perfectly capable of walking.  Without it, she will be slow and weak.  The divine wheelchair will also help with avoiding the temptation of the hellish line, as on certain glorious rides, the mother-in-law will be able to move to the front of the hellish line and her family can also be permitted into the glorious gates of “handicapped access entrance.”

Also, if a child is under the age of 6, a stroller will be procured for the child.  The good and wise wife will push the child even if the child is perfectly capable to walk.  This also makes sure that all young and old people do not stray from “the way” and get diverted into the temptation of the t-shirt shop or the evil pin seller.

9. There shall be no pilgrimage to the consecrated Disneyworld Parks during Christmas, Easter, or Halloween.  Those are times of the most evil temptation and the hellish lines cannot be avoided even by the best of wise and good men.  March, May and June are blessed times for the hallowed passage and the wise and good man will be rewarded.

10. There shall be no staying on park property.  It is wasteful and mocks the holy Priceline and the blessed Orbitz.  A wise man and his family will get a hotel in the glorious city of Orlando and rent a car to travel to and fro.  (Also, a wise man will use his AAA status to get the glorious green parking pass to get sanctified “rock star” parking.)  This wise man might be tempted to get a midsize or larger car, but that is not the way.  The car shall be economy and the mother-in-law or child can be cramped in the divine back seat for that very short distance.  They shall be rewarded in the park afterwards for their suffering.


Filed under Bayfield, Disney, Fabulous luxury, Family, Humor, Parenting, Roller Coasters, Travel


I carry a Coach purse and I love it. I’m ridiculously proud of it and I walk with it front and center, to the point where it looks as if I am hiding an unwanted pregnancy; I tend to show it off when I walk into upscale grocery stores, not that I ever really walk into upscale grocery stores, but if I did, I would proudly show off my Coach bag. I take it into the local IGA and the cashier doesn’t notice its glory, but I flaunt it just the same.  Eight years ago, I knew nothing about Coach handbags. That is, until my sister-in-law started working for Coach, then I started getting a bag every Christmas. Now I loves me some Coach.

Sure, I carried purses before my love affair started. Even now, I carry “normal” purses to “normal” places. They’re sad looking bags with no satin lining or tell-all leather signature tag. I rationalize this by thinking that I don’t want to get my good bags dirty. You don’t wear an evening gown to the post office, right?  Even Emily, my daughter, occasionally puts down the plush upscale “Webkinz” stuffed animals to play with the old, “carnie” stuffed turtle she got when the dart somehow managed to find the balloon. She feels bad for it if she ignores it for too long. “It gets jealous of all my other friends,” she whispers. I too feel bad for my discount pink faux-leather bag I got at Walgreens. I drag it out on occasion for pity’s sake.

There is an exception here, however. There is one bag I keep out of rotation. It is hidden WAY back in my closet. I never bring it out for fear Emily will see it. A few years ago, TV was inundated with commercials for a Buxton bag, no, not a bag – they called it an organizer. It was a thin, pleather thing with an over-the-shoulder strap so you could wear the bag on your hip.  There was a big, wide strap cutting across on an angle, like some military sash gone horribly, horribly wrong. The “amazing” part about this bag, which they stated over and over again in the commercial, was that it could actually get bigger as you needed, due to the hidden zippers.  At one point, it actually showed a woman (wearing a blindfold for some reason which escaped me) putting 6 bottles of water into that ugly, little bag.

Emily was 4 at the time and fairly impressionable, so that spring for Mother’s Day, I received the Buxton Organizer. I didn’t see it coming.  As I opened the present, it was all I could do not to exclaim to my husband, Kriner, “What the hell? Why did you let her do this?” but I kept it together and smiled and did my best to love it. Every time I left the house, Em would ask, “Why don’t you take your Buxton Organizer?” “Momma, you should really take your Buxton Organizer.”  I tried for a while telling her, “No, it’s too nice; I want to save it!” but she eventually saw through that. Then we went to Disney and she cornered me. “Momma, you have to take your Buxton Organizer to Disney. We may need water!”

The problem with purses for me is that with every passing year, the purse tends to get bigger. In my 20’s, I carried a little, cute clutch; now it seems, I have a bag five times the size of my head. I hate having a big purse, I do, but I can’t seem to stop myself. At this rate, I will be dragging around a plastic lawn bag when I hit my 60‘s.

Every year I try to “downsize” but it’s pointless; there’s always way too much stupid crap I think I need; that by shoving all my useless stuff into a smaller purse will somehow make it easier, but no. It just means I can’t close the zipper. In my home, I will ardently throw something out if I don’t use it within a calendar year; I’m GREAT at purging stuff in my house, but with the guts of my purse, I’m a hoarder. I have gum from 1976.

Normally, I have to take out 70% of the useless crap that is in my purse in order to find what I am looking for, which is always 1 of 3 things: my phone, my planner or my wallet. That’s really all I ever use in my purse, so why then do I need a bag the size of Rhode Island?

At this very moment, this is the content of my very large purse:

-1 wallet from Harrods full of singles (Note – I’ve never been to Harrod’s but my girlfriend Solveig has and she got me a wallet. I love it because sometimes people see it and I assume they assume I’ve been to Harrods. “Ha” on them.)

-2 packets of Trident whitening gum, preferably wintergreen, although it’s hard to find. I chew gum a lot, for many reasons. Mainly, because it occupies my mouth so I don’t drive myself crazy talking to myself in the car. “God, I’m so annoying!” I think to myself. “Yeah, I know, I wish I would just shut up!” “Come on me, I’m being too hard on me – I like some of the stories I tell.” “Who asked you?”  The other reason is that I am also paranoid my breath will be bad and my students will make fun of me while I’m not around, not that they don’t have many other things to use as fodder.  Back to the list…

-1 big pair of sunglasses. (Also, a gift from Solvieg.) As my purse gets bigger as I age, so do my sunglasses.  The big purse helps to hide the big hips, the big sunglasses helps to hide the big crow’s feet.

-A roll of duct tape

-A package of “Gushers” for emergencies

-Cell phone (yawn)

-Check book that is woefully out of date; I think it was balanced once in the 80‘s.

-3 bottles of hand sanitizer

-7 legos

-A day planner that is also woefully of out date

-1 bottle of “I’m Not a Waitress” IPA nail polish

-4 Sharpies

-1 small laminated Bill of Rights; you never know when you need to pull it out to make a point

-A roll of “My Little Pony” stickers (also for obvious reasons)

-Tic Tacs that have spilled out of the box, so they are rolling around with the loose change, and taking on a gray hue rather than their zippy green color

-Expired children’s medicine

-A smushed Cliff bar (What if I got stuck in a snow storm?)

-A Star Wars trading card of Admiral Ackbar (also for obvious reasons)

-A CD of the “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” soundtrack (Broadway version – FABULOUS)

-A bright pink scarf that was a gift (also from Solvieg, did I mention she’s an awesome friend?)

-A digital voice recorder (because I get inspired writing ideas while I’m driving)

-A pair of earrings

-23 travel sized lotion bottles from various hotels

-1 Vince Lombardi doll (for luck)

-Allergy medicine

-A smaller purse, in case I need to “downsize” at a moment’s notice

-Way too many keys

-1,524 lipsticks and/or glosses

-1 pack of “Airborne” that is over a year old and never opened. (Just in case I am on a plane next to someone who sneezes…)

-A flip recorder full of videos of my daughter’s made up commercials and “man on the street” interviews

-A princess furry pen that lights up (makes a statement in the bank)

-3 Littlest Pet Shop Toys (a cat, a fish and a beaver)

-1 quarter, 1 dime and 1,524 pennies

That’s it.  That is the contents of my very large purse.  I was digging for something (probably my phone, my planner or my keys) and swearing like a sailor, when Kriner stated, “It must be sad to be a little purse woman trapped in a big purse woman body” I told him it really was.

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Filed under Fabulous luxury, fashion, Feminism, Humor


When I was a little girl the in late 60‘s early 70‘s, it seemed that everyone’s mother had a wig or two in her closet. Not that they would stay in the closet, because these women would actually wear their wigs in public. Of course, these women would also wear false eyelashes to dinner, but today that doesn’t seem as far-fetched, thanks to the Kardashians. My mother and her friends wore fake hair on their heads as if it were normal, because it was.

Not only did these women have wigs, they had these magical items called falls. They would clip them into a bland ponytail, and their heads would instantly transform from doughty housewife to Grace Kelly in mere seconds. My mother had two wigs and one fall and they were A-MA-ZING. She wore them often. She would wear a wig to the grocery store, she would wear a wig to church, and most certainly she would wear a wig to the supper club.

I remember one particular day, she was cleaning out the basement and frankly, she looked like hell. (My mother was a stunner, but 4 hours in our basement could do that to any woman.) Jackie O. would have looked like Bella Abzug, or perhaps more timely, Demi Moore would have looked like Lisa Lamponelli. It was then that she unfortunately realized it was her turn to be a “helper mom” for my Brownie troupe and she needed to be at Wilson Elementary in exactly eight minutes. She ran upstairs, threw on a wig, accompanied with a snappy little headscarf, red lipstick, an A-line skirt with a matching Bill Blass blouse, and she was ready to go. Her transformation was amazing. In five minutes she had gone from “the help” to Elizabeth Taylor. She also somehow managed to bake Toll House cookies in those few spare minutes.  She was, and is, remarkable. (Of course it didn’t hurt that she sped off in a Fiat convertible; it helps with the remarkable part, but that’s another story.)

I remember spending hours upon hours playing with my mother’s wigs. As a kid, I had very short, almost white-blonde hair. (Fun fact – the only time I didn’t have blonde hair was during the summer. We had a pool which, for all practical purposes, became my 2nd home; due to the chlorine that I never bothered to rinse out, my hair took on a greenish hue.)

As stated, my hair was short. Very short. My mother called it “pixie” and showed me pictures of Twiggy. I called it “boy” and thought I looked like Bobby Brady, only with yellowish green hair. My sister Sarah had my mother’s hair. It was long and dark and pretty. My oldest sister Mary also had long hair, but hers was a golden color. I was not allowed long hair. It might have had something to do with the honey incident, but that wasn’t necessarily my fault.

So, my mom had beautiful, long, chestnut hair. Her wigs matched that. I would often try on these wigs, sometimes backwards (to add bangs) and pretended I was Cleopatra. I would drape her necklaces over my head and prance around her bedroom, barking orders to Yankee, our bulldog. “Get me my Kool-aide, fool!” Inevitably, I would get caught by my older siblings who would humiliate and chastise me; I would gingerly put the wig back in its rightful place.

I’m not sure if you have figured this out yet, but I was a bit of an odd kid. (In that picture, I am holding my favorite Frosty the Snowman candle, that I would often sleep with.)  That’s OK, as I turned into a perfectly normal odd adult. I was the kid who saved up her allowance to purchase a rhinestone tiara from the costume jewelry store. I was the kid who wrote a fan letter to Barry Manilow’s dogs. My imaginary friend was Merv Griffin. I had green hair and didn’t care. Aside from all these quirky traits, I was also a tad obsessed with Dolly Parton. This was around the time of “Here You Come Again” and “9 to 5” and I thought she was the bee’s knees. One fateful New Year’s Eve while my parents were out, I decided I was going to make a Dolly Parton wig.

Logically, I cut off the foot of one of my mother’s pantyhose and pulled it over my head. (I had seen enough Carol Burnett sketches to know what goes under a wig.) My problem was those curls. What could I possibly use to create those amazing curls that Dolly sported? In a flash I was inspired. I snuck downstairs, avoiding the babysitter at all costs. (This is something very important when one is 8 years old and making her own wig.) I grabbed the Elmer’s glue and headed to the bathroom where I also grabbed a bag of cotton balls. Yup. That’s exactly what I did; I glued cotton balls to my head. All for beauty, right?

Looking back on it, it is fair to say that I looked a bit like a preschool art project that resembled a cloud suffering from mange. It was a goopy mess and after a few minutes, my arms were getting tired; it was slow going. At that pace, it was going to take all night. “OK, I’ll just slip this off and finish it tomorrow” I thought. Or maybe not. Turns out, this glue stuff really worked! (Did I mention my mother wouldn’t let me grow my hair out?)

So, after a few stalwart attempts of trying to get this thing off my head, I knew I had to eat the shit sandwich that came with finding the babysitter. Eat it, I did.

After about 15 minutes of belly laughs, she composed herself. Thank God she had the insight to shove my head under water.

“But wait! You’re gonna ruin my wig!”

“You want your mom to see you like this?”

“OK. But make sure the water isn’t too cold.”

I am a 45-year-old woman, and I am loath to tell you how many wigs I own. Sure, I can rationalize ‘till the drunks come home. “I’m in a play; I need it for this play I’m in” or “I’m writing a new sketch, and I play a woman in that sketch who needs to have amazing hair.” I have way too many wigs and way too many excuses to get more wigs. Some of my friends collect expensive shoes, or Hermes scarves, but I have wigs They quietly lurk in my closet. Wigs that few know about and fewer see. That’s how sad it is. I am a closet wig wearer.

There are two types of wigs out there. Shitty wigs, and nice wigs. Shitty wigs are what you or your children wear for Halloween. These are wigs that look pretty good for exactly 4 minutes, and then they immediately turn into a snarly, polyester nest.

 (This is not a nice wig.)

They’re usually at or under $20.00 and you get what you pay for. You never really look different, you just look like you, only in a shitty wig.

Nice wigs are very, very different. They look like real hair, no, amazing hair. They’re perfect. They’re waiting for you to try them on. They long for the days when ladies wore them to go grocery shopping, because maybe they hadn’t washed their hair that day and by washing hair, I mean go to the beauty parlor. These wigs are wonderful. They have a sense of style and etiquette. They don’t smoke and walk at the same time, and if they leave the bar to sit down for dinner, they let the waiter carry their drink. That’s how great these wigs are. Old school class. These wigs are your friends.

There is Jacqueline the brunette, Christy the blonde and Raquel the redhead. They love being on your head and they love making you feel pretty. These wigs are not under $20.00. These wigs start at $200.00. My friend Heather and I vowed a year ago to start wearing them (she has a wig fetish as well) and we swore up and down on our vodka that we would “totally wear our wigs, no matter what!” but I still have yet to see her sporting one in the dairy aisle.

 (This also is not a great wig.)

I currently own many shitty wigs, and two nice wigs. I had three, but I loaned one out, and it never came back. (Yes, these wigs are that powerful. They can ruin friendships.) I own a brunette curly wig, reminiscent of Adrian Barbeau in her Maude days. The other is a longer, brown wig with highlights. It is shoulder length with bangs. (I wrote a sketch where I played Michelle Bachman; I had to have it.) Do I ever wear these wigs out? No. Do I wish I did? Yes. Do I write sketches and plays just so I can buy more? Yes. Do I put them on from time to time around the house? Yes. Am I wearing one now?


Filed under Fabulous luxury, Family, fashion, Hair, Humor, retro