Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What Do YOU Smell Like?

At many family reunions the assorted people mingle like chocolates in a chocolate box; variously flavored but still somehow related. They talk about things like job situations, car mileage, and "How's that wooden leg holding up?" (Well, if you live in a band of pirates). My family, though? What do we talk about over coffee and sorbet as the sun sets on the minimalistic Colorado skyline? What we smell like. In detail. I kid you not.

Exactly what happened. If my mother was a male rapper.  And my cousin was a bottle.
This began when, upon being re-united with our delightful extended family, my mother leaned over to my cousin Alejandro* and exclaimed, "Alejandro! You smell wonderful!" (At which his brother Kennedy, sitting on her other side,  discreetly slid away and obviously wondered what it meant he smelt like). Of course when Alejandro mused later at the dinner table on whether he could put, "My Aunt Jelly thinks I smell good." onto his resume somehow this brought to light the burning question that all of us want to know about our relatives: What do they smell like? 

Over ice cream we proceeded to hold an AA style meeting where we went around, introduced ourselves by name and occupation, then described what we smelled like usually after work at said occupation. Kennedy, tire connoisseur, shared that he smelled like car fuel. Aunt Belinda, a doctor who gets to poke people with sharp objects, explained the intricate smell of latex gloves. Cousin Relish, unemployed student, was unsure of what her occupational smell was but we assumed it might be carved soap (her recent hobby). Cousin Enchilada, Zombie enthusiastic and lawn mower, claimed grass as his fragrance. The list went on and on as Aunt Jelly, Aunt Nanny, Cousin Alejandro, Uncle Treble-Clef, Uncle Marksman, my brother Joan-Markus, Grandma Disco, and assorted little cousins Apricot, Glow, Clementine, Emmet, Sampson, and Mannequin shared their natural perfumes.To complete the feel of a support group we even clapped after each person's announcement. (*If you haven't guessed by now the names have been changed to protect the smells of my extended family.)

Believe it or not my mother doesn't usually greet people on such frank terms. Even after the allergic reaction, two self-administered  injections of epinephrine (long story short lets just say I got to call 911), and packing for a family trip at 1:00 a.m. she would have been lucid. After driving across Kansas all day though? Everyone had dropped a few marbles along the way. My family's Sense of Politically Correct Behavior and Social Graces are rolling around in some forsaken cornfield somewhere and i'm sure one of the millions of grazing hamburger machines has already eaten our Sanity. For the delirious moments we were driving that I wasn't asleep I would look out the window and wonder, "How is it that its been 3 hours and it looks like we are in the same field," followed by, "Hey, isn't this the nothingness at the end of the world that Capt. Jack Sparrow was trapped in?" and, when water rations got low and things were getting truly desperate, "Farm implements are beautiful in a metallic modern art sort of way..."

Well its bed time and I have a long day of smelling relatives ahead of me. I fear that even the prancing pink ponies and various stuffed animals of my Cousin Apricot's borrowed room will fail to ward off the nightmares of being trapped in a never-ending cornfield. The real question though is, what will the nightmare corn smell like? I guess there's only one way to find out...

Slaphappy Snores,


Monday, June 18, 2012

Chew Like You Have a Secret

When in doubt, bake it out. That seems to be my jerk reaction when a problem presents itself. Or a holiday. Or a rainy day. Or when I watch movies. Or lose a sock. Lets be honest, all the time.

Right behind God and love there is nothing that humans adore more (except perhaps Chris Hemsworth. If he ran for president it would be a landslide success, even if he was completely illiterate not to mention Australian.) than food. We write about it, eat it, and even (if you are a celebrity) name our children after it. When humans want to woo someone the saying goes "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach." (Tip for the guys: works on women, too). I suppose i've taken that and just applied it as the solution to all situations and problems. Lost your job? I baked you a blueberry pie. Had a freak jet ski accident and lost all your hair? Enjoy some mocha souffle.Just found out you are allergic to sugar? ...Heres a celery stick?

When a extravagantly lovely friend of mine seemed to be under a lot of stress I thought, what does she love? After realizing the legal complications of kidnapping the actor who played Peeta I thought of one of her favorite foods: bread!

 If you have a friend who is in a tight jam offer them a butter knife so they may spread it on the delicious loaf you baked for them. Any recipe will do but feel free to throw in some hidden gems like cinnamon sugar, chocolate chips, and caramel. If you happen to be an heiress you can throw in some literal gems but be prepared to pay for some whopping dentist bills. I used this recipe: 

After baking your bread from scratch (and from scratch I mean you can grind your own flour and mix your own ingredients though i'm afraid you'll have to leave the eggs and milk to the animals unless you are scarily ambitious) print out the following list and send the bundle by bird or easily manipulated sibling to the friend. (FYI, the bird will be faster. Children are easily distracted.)

        10 Ways to De-Stress With a Loaf of Stress Bread

1  1.       Take out tension and pent-up stress by using your loaf as a punching bag. You can even make a face with some whipped cream of someone you don't particularly like and literally "cream" them. (Sorry, that pun might have made you feel even worse). 

2  2.       Use loaf for some weight lifting, exercise is proven to relieve stress and release endorphins which make you feel happy. 

3  3.       When you drive past a homeless person roll down your window and toss them a loaf. Helping others makes you feel better. Just make sure your aim is good or else you might just hurt the homeless person and cause more pain. 

4  4.      Hollow out the loaf and use it as a snack holder for your favorite movie snacks while watching a feel-good tv show (Dr.Who? Stargate? Sherlock?) Sometimes you just need to veg with a good movie. 

5  5.       Warm loaf in oven, cut in two, and stick your tired feet into the toasty ends. Voila, edible slippers. 

6  6.       Keep the loaf handy and whenever you are dealing with someone who causes you stress (customers, family, friends, loud children and animals) just pelt ‘em in the face with a loaf of bread. You can always use the excuse, “Oh, I was just tossing it to you!” Violence can also make you feel better.

7  7.       Feeling lonely sometimes, like no one understands your problems? Draw a face on the loaf and give it a loving name. You now have a new pet and its a great listener. Also you can eat it while snowbound with no guilt. 

8  8.       Take it to the streets and sell the loaf. Then grab the dough (pun intended), cash it for ones, and roll in it. Or buy a new nail polish, some cute earrings from Charming Charlies, or some other cheap little pick-me-up. If you are of the masculine persuasion then you can buy some duct tape or a sharpie and draw on instant abs.

9  9.       Your spiritual life lagging? In church during the sermon when the pastor is praying the Lord’s prayer and he reaches, “…and give us this day our daily bread-“ leap out of your seat with the loaf and shout “IT WORKED! IT’S A MIRACLE!”

1  10.   Just eat it! Freshly baked homemade bread with butter and jam is the perfect way to end a bad day. Just cut off a slice and spread it liberally with your favorite topping. Or conservatively, your political views have nothing to do with bread.

S    Hopefully your day or someone else's will be brightened by this yeasty blog post. Some of you may cry, "But Hannah! I cant cook and when I do people say it makes them wish they didn't have taste buds!" No worries, lovely reader. You can always buy a loaf or mix and claim it as your own. Its the thought that counts. But most importantly never forget:

     Toasty buns,

Monday, June 11, 2012

Children and Other Dangerous Animals

I feel like I've just been through a natural disaster and I long to bathe in several gallons of hand sanatizer. But thats what happens when you volunteer at your church's Sunday school. You also are very likely to be kicked, sat on, and made to play dollies. But far more concerning is that I can't decide if the stuff dripping down my leg is water or spit. Then again perhaps I should be more concerned at other things that tend to happen in Sunday school such as child-sized cage-wrestling, aspiring nudists to be, and picking up lincoln logs until realizing that the church doesn't stock that toy.

For all my griping and groaning I truly enjoy working with little children. Working isn't really the word for it, its more like playing with them. If you stop and really try to communicate at their level it can be fascinating to see how they think. Its almost like observing an adorable alien life form that has yet to learn the ways of your world,  a totally original creature who is naive enough to believe in the improbable. That being said it doesn't mean when said little child begins to smell like a ripe Jonny-on-the-Spot that i'm not going to start forgetting about the cuteness mighty quick. 

Something I've noticed that churches (and grocery stores) have begun doing is self-checkout. The only difference really is that instead of heads of lettuce you are scanning the bar codes on the name tags of children before and after children's church. At the church my sisters and I go to for bible study in fact their nametags look like the nutrition labels on a cereal box. Are we teaching these children about God and 101 ways to use Elmer's glue or eating them? I'd like to know since I'm pretty sure the sugar content on my sisters is through the roof. And after dealing with the kids at our church I think that mini straight-jackets might have been a better investment. 

Speaking of that they are being awfully quiet I think i'd better go check and make sure my little sisters have gotten lost in Emma (the 3 year old)'s bed again. Honestly, shes like a little blonde dragon hording her treasures and her cave is her bed. Since her treasures include barbies and barbie houses, shoes, clothes, plastic swords, food, cutlery, small creatures she finds outside, stuffed animals, batteries, blankets, and many other items I learned my lesson the first time I jumped into her bed and found the lost kitchen scissors. 

Pillow Paradise,

Hannah Hoo

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Pass the Floating Sandwich Tray, Will You?

My hair is dripping, my tummy is full of soft lime cookies, and my body has tanned into a checkerboard of pale and burnt. Thats right, I'm on vacation.

Performing an impressive clown car act my family and I squeezed into our suburban on Friday with bags, towels, and what my mother calls "a small snack". (Aka three tubs and one cooler of crackers, salad supplies, cheese, ham, bread, and very possibly the kitchen sink.)

We have a tradition when leaving on a trip to say our farewells as we go. For example the little girl's were "Goodbye, Wallmart! Goodbye, Baby Chicks! (and when passing the local biker bar) Goodbye, Beer!". Some of the others are really telling of what kind of a place Jefferson County (or Metherson County as it is called) is. "Goodbye, Mystery Jerky Man! Goodbye, Tattoo Parlor and adjoining bakery! Goodbye sewage pit called a "scenic pond"! Goodbye, Drug Den! Goodbye, Lumpy's Eatery!"

On our way to our week-long vacation in Branson we stopped in Rolla (aka 'where all the good men have gone') to see my brother's new house he shares with 5 buddies. It was a college man's paradise; flat-screen tv where you can see every actor's pore, a ridiculously large sound system, video games galore, and more protein shakes and junk food that you can stick a deep-fried twizzler at. The tough-man persona was slightly undermined however by my brother's cute dolphin shower curtain.

Lunch was a foreign affair at a Japanese/Chinese hibachi grill named Koi. The atmosphere was suprisingly authentic with the shoji screens, antique oriental wall ornaments, and the chef who performed the art of hibachi with twirling knives and impressive tricks. The dead-giveaway that we were still in Missouri however was the twangy country music.

Most of the drive I really couldn't tell you about since I was sound asleep in my red snuggie cocoon. I didn't really wake up until we were in Branson driving to our condo and stopping at a gas station for a bathroom break. Being the excellent big sister I am I allowed my little sisters to take wrapped peppermints from strangers outside the gas station. But theres no reason to worry, they people were a kindly older couple dressed up as Mr. and Mrs. Clause and driving a tooth-ache red convertible. Totally trustworthy. Probably.

The huge swimming pool with fountains, mini golf course, rustic country landscape, lake, lovely condos, and complimentary krispy kreme are all wonderful but by far the jucuzzi next to my bed is the best. Forget the bed, I'm making plans to eat, read, and possibly sleep in that bubbly vessel of luxury. Now if I could only figure out a way to blog in the tub, too....

Sunburned Sleep,