Friday, August 7, 2009

A Phenomenal Talent (or, The Day I Burned Up My Vacuum Cleaner)

I can burn up an electrical appliance like nobody’s business. With no effort whatsoever. I have amazing skills in this area, and no special training either. It’s just my God-given talent. One of several, I might add, but today we are just talking about this one.

Two weeks ago I was vacuuming up the Daily Crumbs in the playroom. It seemed simple enough…it was just a little pile of had-been PopTarts. I love PopTarts - is there anyone who doesn’t? But the crumbs weren’t mine. If I had been the one eating the PopTarts, there sure as hell wouldn’t have been any leftovers. Anyway, while vacuuming up crumbs, I somehow managed to suck up a damp paper towel. I have no idea where it came from. Who left this here and why is it on the playroom rug? Someone is going to be in Big Trouble. I know it wasn’t me, because when I dried my hands on a paper towel 30 seconds ago, I would have done the Right Thing and thrown it away. Wouldn’t I? Yes, I am sure I would have. I did. I DID. The damp paper towel that SomeoneWhoIsGonnaBeInBigTrouble left on the rug could not resist the powers of suction, and before I even knew what was happening, smoke was pouring out of my beloved Bissell!

I can’t lie to y’all. After all, this is The M-bellished Truth. I loooooove to vacuum. And I loooooove my vacuum cleaner. I could write a tacky romance novel about my Bissell and me. It is the only vacuum cleaner I have ever truly loved. The minute we met, I was seduced by its see-through bagless chamber, its multiple HEPA filters, and its endearing swivel wheels. I could write a whole three chapters about the attachments alone! And oh, to see all that dirt, dog hair, and dust all trapped in the chamber with no means of escape. It makes me feel, well, powerful. Like those women in the 1950’s cleaning product ads who had bandanas on their hair and flexed their muscles and looked directly at the camera with a look that said Don’t Mess With Me. That’s who I am when I vacuum. Sans the bandana. (I learned a long time ago not to tie things near or in my curly locks. It only invites trouble.) When Apple Pie and I got married, I moved in and brought all My Stuff. All My Stuff is still piled in boxes in various locations around the house. I am working on it but there is an issue of limited closet space in our charming 1940’s house. People back then didn’t have as much Stuff. But you are making me digress and I want to get back to talking about my Bissell. The Bissell was part of My Stuff, so naturally, it came with me. I would never have even considered the thought of giving it away just because The Pie already had a “vacuum cleaner.” He didn’t have my Bissell. One day he saw me vacuuming with my Bissell and said “Why are you using THAT? My vacuum cleaner is much better.”


I think it took me three weeks to get over it, but I did. Forgiveness is the first step. Or maybe it’s Anger, I get them confused. Anyway, since that day, we have agreed to disagree. He has his “vacuum cleaner” and I have my Bissell. I hope all potential brides are reading this, because they need to know that that’s just the way it goes sometimes in a marriage. He is loyal to Dukes; I am a Hellman’s gal til the day I die. He uses Colgate; I have sensitive teeth. He has his “vacuum cleaner;” I have my Bissell. And it’s okay, really it is. Unless your idiot husband thinks his snooty expensive canister vacuum can outperform your Bissell. You can live happily ever after with two jars of mayonnaise in the fridge, two tubes of toothpaste by the sink, one “vacuum cleaner” and a Bissell.

Needless to say, I considered smoke pouring from the Bissell a 911-worthy emergency, although Apple Pie begged to differ and said I was NOT to call emergency services from the household phone listed in his name. The Pie can be so difficult at times.

So there I was, in the midst of a smoky emergency. Clouds of it just billowing out of what seemed like every crack and crevice of my precious cleaning machine. And that SMELL. You know The Smell. Anyone who has ever burned up a vacuum cleaner can recall The Smell. In fact, The Smell is so bad that the flames and smoke are a very minor issue compared to The Smell. You’ll do anything to stop it. You know you have to get the appliance turned off IMMEDIATELY. Which is extremely difficult due to the Disappearing Power Button Phenomenon. I can’t explain the physics of it, but The Phenomenon only occurs when an appliance is on fire and requires immediate shut-off. You are fumbling for the power button, hands racing to disengage this smoky, stinky, fiery monster and suddenly The Phenomenon occurs. There is no power button. Nothing anywhere on the entire appliance that is labeled “on/off” or “press here to turn on/off” or “power” or “push here you idiot” or ANYTHING! You used it when you started this whole business but it is gone now. Phenomenal wouldn’t you say? The only thing left to do is jerk the cord right out of the outlet quickly and with every ounce of strength you can muster. Which, I might add from personal experience, can cause several types of bodily injury.

My beloved Bissell now sits in our storage shed. I can’t bring myself to throw it away and I am terrified to plug it in. And I am having to use the “vacuum cleaner.” If that isn’t enough, I’ll have you know that, on that very SAME DAY while drying the unruly mop on top of my head, flames began to shoot out of my hair dryer. Which resulted in another Phenomenon and another cord jerk. Did I mention that day was my birthday?

I celebrated by eating a tomato sandwich made with Hellman’s followed by a good brushing with Sensodyne.

And that’s the truth, y’all.

E-mail me a story of how you burned up an appliance. I’ll post some here. Think back, now. Toaster? Curling Iron? Computer? Spill it. You may just make me feel better. I’ll judge the best one. Winner gets a cheap-ass canister vacuum and Apple Pie will deliver it personally. PopTart crumbs not included.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Blame it on Butterbean

If you are reading this, you know that my days as a shopkeeper are coming to an end (and hopefully you've been in here to RACK UP on some sweet deals) so that I may continue the next chapter of my life at home trying desperately to keep sane spending quality time with my children. Because I look waaaaay too young to even have children, you may be surprised to know that I have three of them. Sort of. Two of them came out of my actual body, and the other is mine by pure luck, as he was part of a package deal when I married Apple Pie. {Do you ever notice how some people are the spittin' image of a certain food? It's true, although not everyone gets this. If you don't, it's okay, I like you anyway. The Pie doesn't really get it - the food thing. He thinks I am out of my mind. I am not. And I know this because a few people really do get it. When I was a junior in college, my best friend Carrot Cake* and I used to spend the better half of Cognitive Psychology class telling other students what foods they were. They were fascinated. Um, and sometimes not. I remember one girl in particular who didn't take well to being String Cheese. But you are what you are. And she was String Cheese. I love string cheese, don't you? Anyway, as a busy mother of three, I don't have much time these days to think about what food someone is. And as I said before, The Pie thinks I am nuts, so I finally resolved to keep my observations to myself. One day, not too long ago, my 7 year old was looking at himself in the mirror. I watched him as he studied his own face for several minutes. After a while, he proudly proclaimed with a quick nod, "I look like a Tater Tot!". Well as you may imagine, I was just speechless! There he was... blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh, my pride and joy... my Tater Tot. He was right on the money, too. He is a Tater Tot. One who inherited his mother's ability to see people for the food they really are. I have goose bumps right now just thinking about it!} When we got married, I already had Tater Tot, The Pie also already had a son (the Doughnut), and then we decided we'd like one more. So in May, our sweet baby girl, Butterbean, was born. That is how I came to sort of have three children. Those are the children I can't wait to stay home with and love on all day long! If you are going to miss coming in my store (really? you will? love you!!!!) just blame it on Butterbean. I need to see her grow up, although I wish she wouldn't. Oh, and I will miss you too.

To save you the trouble of finding a new place to shop ('cause I am nice like that), I will soon have a comprehensive website, and I will continue to sell and print invitations, stationery, birth announcements, wedding invitations, etc. Butterbean and I will offer local delivery, too, as I have a fancy new carseat that I want to get my money's worth out of. ( And P.S., it isn't a carseat anymore, so let me save you the embarrassment of asking for one at that baby megastore. It is a Travel System, people. Said so right on the box. ) So we have our System and we are gonna Travel. My best selling gifts, custom plates, placemats, bag tags, calling cards, sippy cup labels and more will also be offered on the website. So spread the word, tell your friends, and don't forget to call your mama and them. I mean hey, I can't just give it up cold turkey...I love what I do too much!

And that's the truth, y'all!

*Don't have a best friend? Make your own:

CARROT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING (If you make this with a different kind of icing, please don't tell me about it. Carrot Cake with any other kind of icing is an abomination and should not be made, much less served)

2 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups grated carrots
1 1/3 vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup drained crushed pineapple
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preparation: Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add carrots, oil, and eggs. Beat until well mixed. Stir in remaining ingredients. Put batter in two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 1 hour.

Cream Cheese Icing:

1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese
1 tablespoon warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Preparation:Beat cream cheese with water and vanilla; gradually add sugar, beating until smooth and spreading consistency. Makes 1 1/2 cups, enough to frost top and sides of a 9-inch square cake or top of a 13 x 9-inch cake. Double recipe for a layer cake.