Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dysfunction Defusion

The holiday season if fast approaching, and with it comes a lot of family stress for many folks. But your ol' pal, Remarkable Monkey, is here to help. I'm gonna share an amazing technique I've discovered that can instantly defuse most common family-dysfunction situations.

I stumbled upon this miraculous technique last Christmas at my in-laws. Now, don't get me wrong, I love my husband's family and they're really nice people. They're usually pleasant to be around and we generally have a good time. That being said, like a lot of families, tensions sometimes run high on holidays. Unreasonable expectations combined with crankiness, personal issues and family members pushing each others' buttons can bring things to the boiling point. That's just not fun for me, and I don't enjoy being around that, so I figured out a way to defuse it fast.

Here's the deal... Ya know how in every church choir and/or congregation, there's always one lady who fancies herself an opera singer? And ya know how that lady will sing in a very loud operatic style, badly? (You KNOW what I'm talking about!) Next time you're at a family holiday gathering and the bickering and button-pushing are reaching critical mass, just start singing carols at the top of your lungs, church-lady style. Your family will think you've lost your mind, but it's an instant tension releaser! Works like a charm, and is usually effective by just first or second line of whatever song you choose.

I just tried it again at my in-laws on Thanksgiving this year, and not only did it help keep everyone's mood light when folks started getting testy, my bro- and sis-in-law joined in a few times!

Remember... just sing those carols really loudly, and really badly in opera style. They'll probably laugh or start researching mental facilities for you. Either way, at least YOU'll have fun! Or maybe it's just me.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Seasonal Deliciousness Addendum...

I forgot to include this little item of food heaven in my previous post... Philadelphia Soft Cream Cheese in Pumpkin Spice flavor, another limited edition seasonal item. This stuff is awesome! Almost like pumpkin cheesecake in a tub! I've been spreading it on toasted whole grain Eggos and it makes them quite tasty, but I bet it would be FANTASTIC on graham crackers or even ginger snaps. Mmmmmm.... on ginger snaps..... ***drooooool!*** I'm gonna have to try that, I think.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Seasonal Deliciousness...

It's that time of year... the time when we get to enjoy tasty treats that, for some reason, we usually only get this time of year. You already know how I feel about Publix Pumpkin Pie ice cream (swoooon!). I know a lot of you look forward to the autumn return of Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte. I had a taste of somebody's once, but wasn't crazy about it myself. I recently tried the Salted Caramel Mocha Latte (iced) though, and found it interesting enough that I'll probably eventually get another one.

Mr. Remarkable Monkey is quite fond of Chick-Fil-A's Peppermint Chocolate Chip shake. I'm not a big fan of the mint/chocolate combo in general, but he sure enjoys them! He's also been diggin' the Sam Adams Octoberfest beer.

The one thing that I REALLY wanted to try this year was Kellogg's Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts. I gave up Pop Tarts years ago, except for special occasions like vacations or hurricane watches in our area, but the lure of a pumpkin pie flavored version intrigued me. As luck would have it, I didn't get around to shopping for them until last week, when apparently it was pretty much too late. I searched several Target stores and a couple WalMarts with no luck... all were sold out. I considered ordering them from Amazon, but figured nah... I'd just wait until next year. And then an angel that I work with, who knew of my fruitless search, acquired a box from a WalMart near her parents' house... they must live in a fairly remote area outside of town or something, because nobody else could find them. So this angel bestowed a family pack box of Pumpkin Pie flavored Pop Tart goodness on me. Mmmmm! They are delish! Being the Pop Tarts that they are, they're maybe just a little too sweet, but toast one up and it's almost like a single serving pastry pocket of pumpkin pie. At 200 calories each, I've so far managed to limit myself to having just one per day, for dessert. (I'm out of Publix Pumpkin Pie ice cream at the moment anyway.)

I guess I have thing for pumpkin-y deliciousness (aside from the Pumpkin Spice Lattes, which maybe I should give another whirl). I'm thinking I need to get myself over to The Fresh Market for a loaf of their moist, delicious pumpkin bread. I'm also planning to make pumpkin bars soon for the gang at work as a thanks for their support of my efforts in the Making Strides event. I'll also make some pumpkin dog cookies for my beloved Hobey and some of his pals.

And don't even get me started on Thanksgiving... I'm already drooling just thinking about next Thursday's dinner with turkey, mashed potatoes, sliced sauteed brussels sprouts. Mr. RM will insist on green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole, also tasty. And of course, I'll be having pumpkin pie!

What are some of YOUR favorite seasonal or holiday treats?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monkey at the Movies: Moneyball

Mr. Remarkable Monkey and I finally got around to seeing "Moneyball" last week. It was pretty good. In case you don't know, it's based on the Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) and his quest to find a way to field a winning MLB team for the 2002 season with one of the lowest payrolls in the league.

I'm not an avid baseball fan, so some of the references and info probably went over my head, but the film holds up and is interesting for even a casual fan like myself. It's also a very quiet movie... literally. There seemed to be several scenes with periods of complete silence. That's not a bad thing... it just struck me as unusual in this era of explosions and loud rockin' soundtracks. I don't remember the last time I was in a movie theater and noticed such stillness... like everyone was trying not to munch their popcorn or rattle their candy wrappers too loudly during those quiet scenes.

Anyway, the movie gives you and inside look at what it took to build that 2002 A's team, and what it took to turn their slow start into a winning season. It wasn't easy. Billy Beane and his assistant GM Peter Brand (played by Jonah Hill) were trying to do things much differently than other MLB teams. Brand had earned an economics degree from Yale, and had a completely different approach on how to draft players. Together, they implemented Brand's system, and though it didn't win them the World Series, it got them close. It also made an impression on other teams, which is evident in the film's closing scenes. (Think 2004 Red Sox.)

One thing in the movie that bothered me was Pitt's frequent use of "dip", and the accompanying spitting into cups, etc. I realize he was probably trying to be true to the real life Billy Beane, but I found it terribly distracting and totally unnecessary. If it had somehow been integral to the plot or the character, it may not have seemed so gratuitous. But it didn't really add anything, and I would hate for younger boys to think it's cool since Brad Pitt did it in that baseball movie.

Overall, it was definitely worth the price of a matinee. Not sure how much longer it will be in theaters, so catch it quick or check it out on dvd, pay-per-view, Netflix or however you prefer to watch movies at home.