Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rollie Pollie Fat & Ugly..bullying

There have been a host of events in the past couple of weeks that have really gotten me to think about bullying, what causes it, and how it can be prevented. The topic was first brought up through PEOPLE magazine, in an article about kids who were bullied to the point of death. Then came a blog written by one of my favorite new bloggers, Single Dad Laughing. If you have some time to check out what he has to say, it's time well spent.

And then, never in a million years did I expect the next thing that happened. Those of you who have access to my facebook account, may have seen my status update that read:

"So, i just received a fb message from a childhood schoolmate that was a bit mean spirited..He said he was surprised anyone married me because I used to be ugly! Really?! What a jerk. Once a bully, always a bully."

How could it be? Why now? Why me? It surely doesn't hurt my feeling the same way it would have back when I was 9, but it still makes me wonder, what on earth would make someone our age take time out of their day to contact someone just to throw proverbial dog poo on my doorstep and run away? I have a husband and family and friends who think I am beautiful. Sure, I am no Megan Fox, but I am the best that I can be, and I won't ever understand why this douche felt the need to remind me of what a bully he used to be to me.

{Apparently I was ugly....A dork? Yes. Ugly? No}

As I opened his message, I actually thought to myself, he's probably writing to apologize..maybe it's part of a 12 step recovery.. Was I ever wrong. haha. I received a million responses from friends and family that confirmed the fact that I am loved, and that what he did was uncalled for. Some suggested he may have liked me..I can almost 100% guarantee he didn't. He would taunt me in gradeschool by singing "rollie, pollie, fat and ugly." You don't say that to a girl you like, ever.

But what got me thinking more about bullying, and just how lucky I am to be who I am, and to look the way I do today, was a conversation I had with an older gentleman who came into our office and was obviously afflicted with some sort of birthmark/defect which covered 1/2 of his face. We got to talking about it, and I learned that his condition was actually a hemangioma which he was born with, and had undergone multiple laser treatments and surgeries to reconstruct the deformities it left him with.

{Me & My Big Lip 1979)

At that moment, I felt even luckier to be who I am, and look the way I do today.

Why? Because I was born with a hemangioma which continued to grow on my lower lip. My mother searched high and low and advocated for a plastic surgeon to treat it before I entered gradeschool, for the simple fact that she did not want me to be ridiculed or bullied. Most surgeons told her to wait it out---and that it was a risk to try and remove it because it was intertwined in the muscle of my lip..One slip-up by the surgeon and I could potentially have a lip that hung for the resk of my life.

I asked the gentelman what it was like to grow up with a hemangioma of his magntitude, and he told me he learned how to be tough real quick. He added that he thought it would be much harder for a female to have his condition, than himself. He was terrified his daughters would be born the same, but he hit the jackpot in the fact that neither of his daughters were born with one.

He was bullied, taunted and stared at his entire life. He then became a high school teacher and coach. He said the first day of classes each year were the toughest because of the stares. Even as an adult, he has people covering their kids mouths when the kid asks him what's wrong with his face. This man will never know what it's like to wear the shoes of a person who can go into any situation for the first time, and not cause mouths to drop, or eyes to avert. People rarely look him in the eye, yet my half hour conversation with him was the best one I had all day.

I don't have an answer for putting the brakes on bullying, but am interested to see how many of my readers were bullied, what they did about it, and what they think can be done to teach the kids today a little bit about acceptance. Please share.

PS..Mah, thank you for pushing to find a plastic surgeon that was willing to do the surgery. Imagine what the rollie pollie fat and ugly kid would have called me if we didn't have it removed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall Harvest Apple Cake

I admit, I have not been in the baking/sweets mood lately. I know, I must be sick, right? Truth is, I haven't been sick..I just didn't have anyone around that would eat it. I usually have a bite of whatever I bake, and then ship it off to work with NZ to share with the other growing boys he works with. I am sure their waistlines thank me.

With life back to normal ( read: NZ is home), I have gotten back into reading the baking blogs I used to frequent. I ran across this apple based cake on surprise, surprise, Bakerella's blog. I did alter the recipe a bit. Instead of chopped dates ( I don't like dates), I used raisins ( I love raisins). Instead of walnuts ( I'm allergic), I used chopped pecans. Other than that, I follwed her recipe 95% and it was another success.

As NZ said, " This $h!t's good!"

..Ummmm honey, "this $h!t", is called Apple Cake. Glad you like it.

Here's a link to Bakerella's Easy Apple Cake Recipe. Bake as directed. Or not.

If you don't, don't come blaming me for your cake wreck.

I took Bakerella's suggestion and made a 1/2 batch of the brown sugar syrup, and she's right, it's plenty to drench the cake with.

Poke holes in your baked cake. She uses a skewer stick, I used a knife. Either way works.

Drench it, baby!


Hot wheels

I'm sure I have said this before, but we adore our neighbors. Both Nick and Chandler are into all things motor driven. If it has wheels or a motor, they're stoked. They spend many afternoons monkeying around with them. They're just a bunch of fun to have around. Last weekend NZ spent the better half of an hour riding around on our neighbor's kid's motorbike. It was too funny not to video.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


One of our favorite things to do when we lived in Davis, was to pack up and head to Tahoe for a night or two. It was usually a spur of the moment decision, which would have me scrambling to pack an overnight bag and remember toothpaste in all of 30 minutes before he'd be over to pick me up for a getaway.

We had this favorite dive hotel on the California side of the CA/NV border. I think it was called La Baer Inn, and it was cheap and served it's purpose just fine. It was the perfect spot to crash after our late nights at the Casinos turned into early mornings. Added bonus? T-Bell was on the walk home. Some of my favorite times have been had in South Lake. Well, the ones I remember, at least.

With Nick in India the past 2 months, I wanted to plan a fun weekend for when he came home...somewhere not too far, and somewhere that I knew we would find things to do without effort. I ended up planning a weekend in Santa Barbara. Yes, it's my hometown, so it's not technically a getaway, but it fit the bill in terms of having all of my conditions met. Nick could even bring his board along in case there was surf.

We had a blast. Friday night we headed to Joe's place, which is this old bar on lower State St. It's touted as the stiffest drink in Santa Barbara, and let me tell is! I have learned from past experience at Joe's, that I can not order mixed drinks there without getting razzed by the bartender who knows my family. So, sticking to BudLight, I let Nick experience a Joe's drink or two when we decided that staying there for drinks would make for an early night of being fully polluted. Two drinks in and we left for another bar, where we met up with my cousin and his friends for a bit. It was just perfect.


Saturday we galavanted all over Santa Barbara. Breakfast at Esau's, followed by shopping on lower State, lunch at Super Rica Taqueria, a trip to campus point to check out the swell, more shopping ( I *heart* Channel Island Surf Shop!) and then back to the hotel to get ready for the main purpose of our trip north....A nice steak dinner to celebrate being back in a country that allows for the consumption of cow.

{Campus Point}

We don't typically eat at chain restraunts, but we had heard so many positives about Ruth's Chris that I decided to make a reservation and shhhhh! tell them we were celebrating our anniversary. Technically, it was 1 month ago, and technically, we don't really celebrate them because..well....staying married, it's what you're supposed to do. But I get that some people need the anniversary celebration and whole gift exchange thing to feel appreciated. I don't. But it sure was nice to be seated at a table covered in rose petals and candlelight! Dinner surpassed my expectations. It may have been the best meal I have ever eaten.

The best part of the trip? Having my sunshine home and having a getaway weekend like we used to do.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Another day at the office: India Style

More funny tidbits from India...

Each morning a driver would pick NZ up and take him to work. Here are just a few sights he might see on a daily basis...


{Tent Villages, complete with people urinating in the street}
Then, when he got to work....

{Outside of the office in Noida}
Nick's American loving Bull friend

After a couple of weeks, he sent an email out that his bull friend was missing and feared he may not like Americans...But, never fear, a follow-up email about a week before NZ left India, the bull was back..Here's what he had to say...

" I missed my buddy the bull. He had been on the lamb about 4 weeks now.I am happy to see that he is back. I guess he knew that I would be leaving soon and didn't want me to go without saying goodbye."


Sunday, October 17, 2010

$h!t my husband says:India edition

I often joke that I am going to make a website full of the $h!t my husband says and turn it into a dotcom, but of course, someone already probably owns rights to that site, and besides, he may start to lose his knack for saying some of the funniest things I have ever heard. There is never a dull moment when he's around. Mr. Johnny-on-the-spot could be his other nickname, since he comes up with one-liners like nobodies business. Anyhow, while in India, I was the recipient of some pretty laugh-out-loud emails with commentary and photos included. Thought I would share....

"This place caters to mostly the little people in India. We were sitting and the ceiling was about one foot over my head. We were sitting over the kitchen. The food was good, but the power went out and it got super hot. I couldn't eat fast enough."

" I went into Delhi just after it rained. the drainage is not too good there. We had to negotiate a river crossing on the way there. I will admit, I was a little worried. Then I looked at the driver. He was as calm as could be. I guess it is just business as usual. "

" Mexicans have nothing on these guys. They are the masters of loading up a vehicle. this was not even the most loaded one. There were others with at least 3 or 4 more people loaded up. The best part is the guy on the left. He is thinking about hopping on " Dude, I can fit. Let me on"

"I am kind of sad. I have not seen my friend the bull outside of the office for a couple of days. maybe he doesn't like Americans. I'll just have to hope he comes around again in the morning so I can see him again."


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Skype me

It used to be "call me", then it was "page me" if you were cool enough to own a pager, then it was "email me", followed by "text me" and now all the cool kids are gonna start saying "Skype me"... Throwing a little love out there to our good friend SKYPE. This was the first overseas trip that NZ and I have had it set up, and I would venture to say, it made the time apart a bit more bearable. At least we got to make funny faces to each other, eat breakfast/supper together ( he'd have supper while I had breakfast and visaversa) and talk about the crazy things that happened that day ( Like the elusive man on a motorcycle with 2 monkeys on back that he reportedly kept seeing but couldn't get his camera out quick enough). I looked forward to that magical hour of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.. The time difference made it fairly easy to catch one another at non-busy times. 12.5 hours from here to there. Easy to remember.

Our 3 year old nephew even got into the SKYPE love every Sunday, while he was over. He'd sit at the desk like a big kid and talk his uncle Nick's ear off..He made sure Nick knew that we were on the same side of the World as his little girlfriend and preschool and not on the same side as Nick was. Totally funny to listen to a 3 year old version of how the earth works.

{ Offering uncle NZ a sticker}

If SKYPE were a real person, we'd owe him a 12 pack of ice cold adult beverages because he was a real clutch performer for our team. If you don't already SKYPE, try it. How's that for a shameless plug?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Long time gone

Remember those countdown chains to Christmas/Spring break/Summer vacation you constructed back in grade school? Well we've been doing a little of our own countdown here in the Zentil house.
{The countdown chain}That ultra long chain you see in both photos traveled all the way to Noida, India with one half of us. The Nick half of Brie&Nick shipped off to India wayyyyy back in August for eight weeks. That's 56 days/1,344 hours /an eternity, if you ask me.

{gringo necessities}
Before the much anticipated departure ( I think I was sad about it for at least 2 weeks leading up to him actually leaving), we stocked up on the things we thought a white guy might need in India.

On our list?

1. FOUR bags of Beef jerky** This would be the closest he would come to beef the entire trip.

2. XBOX + Loads of games **** Which unfortunately couldn't handle being plugged into a 220v socket. The Xbox run was non-existant after that mishap.

3. The two C's..candy & crackers. Primarily Swedish Fish, Runts and cheese and crackers.

4. A photo of his other half for his new workspace at the Noida office.

5. Lastly, a countdown chain from start to finish, with each day labeled. I wrote in special dates, and the week markers " 4 weeks left", " Mom's Birthday", " 4 years ago today, we said ' I do' " and sentiments of such.

Before this trip, NZ and I have not spent as much as 10 days apart since we started dating back in 2003. To say this time apart from each other was "trying" is an understatement, but I whole heartedly, 100% support him and every opportunity that comes his way. We had known about the possibility of this trip becoming a reality for quite some time, but once a date was set for him to leave--and he started getting his immunizations ( lots of them!) and malaria pill prescription filled, it was like "wow, this is really happening".

So, while NZ worked over in Noida, I did the same out in California. I pulled some extra hours at the office, started the P90x challenge to get the old "me" back from the "trying- to- conceive-me" that I have been a stranger to since we started trying 3 1/2 years ago. Although I was initially upset that this trip would interfere with our plans, in all reality, it has been good for me. I needed a mental break from the stresses of "Am I?" or "Am I not?", and "If I am, should I be doing x..y..z?" It really gets to be a headache to deal with, and the obsessedness never really goes away. I envy those whose husband just winks at them and 9 months later out pops a baby just like Houdini pulls rabbits.

Anyhow I'm totally looking forward to fighting for covers again.

++Stay tuned for India photos complete with Nick's commentary..coming soon++

Monday, October 11, 2010


Those who kow me IRL, know that I am a huge glutton for the semi-reality reality shows. Amongst my favorites are the ones that justify the stereotype of the overtanned, big hair, brash tarts they call Jersey girls. I love them all.. Jerseylicious, Jersey Shore, The Real Housewives of New Jersey ( except for Dannielle, she's a nutjob!) and even the MTV True Life: I'm a Jersey Shore girl that aired like 5 years ago. So, here's my B-woww courtesy of The Style Network's Jerseylicious "Makeover Game". Click here to find your alter ego..It takes about 10 minutes and is sure to give you a few good laughs.

And just for more laughs, here's what mi famiglia looks like..


My mom, Mama-Woww
And my sister, {S-Woww}
Special shout out to Amy for providing the link on her blog!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Duvet: Do it your way

I think I have said it before, but I have this obsession with bed linens. I absolutely love how the simple change of a comforter or sheet set can make a dramatic impact on a room. Unfortunately, most of the ones I loooooove come from Anthropologie, West Elm or Pottery Barn. Every so often I catch one on sale and snatch it up--but those days are few and far between.

I went out looking for a new duvet today. I love duvets because you can re-use your same down insert over and over, and the covers come off for easy washing. It's a Win-win situation.

My goal--when I set out this morning, was to find something a with a slight pattern, not too bold--not too bright. The cover we have had on our bed for the past year was also a project of mine, and although I love needs to find a new home, across the hall, in the room with green walls. Surprisingly enough, green walls are hard to match linens with..since the color is overpowering. I'm contemplating repainting, but you see, the green was painted for our baby, and it totally coordinated with the crib set that sits in the closet...So, to keep it green, or to not keep it green...seems to be the question mulling over and over in my head these days.

Anyways, our "old" duvet is bright and fun and really looks good in the green room, so come hell or high water I was going to bring a new duvet home today so I could finally make the switch and feel good about the decor in the spare room again.

After shopping with my sis, mom and step-dad today, I came home empty handed. I was bummed..but not surprised. After a little pep-talk to myself, I made a last ditch effort with a quick trip to Target to look at one of their duvets that looked pretty sweet online. I was less than impressed with it in person though, so on the shelf it stayed. I scoured the sheet sets reminding myself that I could make one...I didn't want to, but I could.

And a $35 Queen size sheet set later...

I did.

You can make one too!!! You'll need:

2 Queen Size sheets ( I used one from the set I bought and one I already had)

Sewing machine with straight stitch capabilities



{Step 1}

1. Lay out sheet (a) right side up. Smooth out fabric.

    {Step 2}

2. Lay sheet (b) right side down on top of sheet(a).

    {Step 3}

3. Pin around the edges of 3 sides. *Tip: keep pins facing the same direction for easy removal.

4. Sew around three sides leaving the fourth open.

5. Remove pins.

6. Turn rightside out.

7. Insert Down insert.

8. Attach velcro to bottom edge if so desired. (I omitted this step today)

And there you have it, a new duvet cover! I like to buy a sheet set, because I use the fitted sheet to cover our boxspring, and the pillow cases on 2 of the 4 pillows. This way everything coordinates a bit better.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sweet smell of Fall

One of my sis-in-law's invited me over for our first attempt at making caramel apples last night. We had a recipe, followed it to a T, but had some issues with the first batch of caramels burning a little, then thickening too, a quick trip to the store and a new batch of caramel sauce later, we did it! Beautiful caramel dipped baby galas . Some got some love with crushed peanuts or butterfingers.

She also introduced me to the grandaddy of all apples. I never knew about their existence since I obviously grew up under some sort of rock ( see "figment of my imagination" post), but OMG are they good! Anyone ever seen these? { HoneyCrisp Apple}
I am in Apple Heaven.
Welcome Fall, You're officially here!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

You've Got Mail

NZ got two things in the mail today...

Can you guess which one I was more excited about?

While you're busy contemplating an answer, I will go ahead and get my little red marker pen and circle the items that I think his wife might like for Christmas. Subtle enough?

Is it a fig-ment of my imagination?

Or did it take me 32 ( almost 33) years to learn that figs can be eaten straight from a tree?!
{Fresh Figs from my Father-in-law's tree}

As a kid, I liked Fig Newtons.. remember that "it's a cake, not a cookie" commercial? But I have never, ever entertained the thought that I might actually like figs without a cakelike crust. In Davis, I also Once Upon a time, lived in a rental house on Fig Place, and you betcha, we had fig trees in our yard, plump with mission figs, and I never once picked one to eat. I like, had no idea they were edible straight from a tree. Crazy, right? What rock did I grow up under?

So, here we are in 2010, and I get this crazy idea that I want to make homemade fig newtons. I had dreamt about this baking excursion a few months, and finally made the trek to the store to buy figs for my sure-to-be-awesome-if-i-ever-make-them-fig newton-bars. And wouldn't you know... A pack of 6 figs was $3, and the recipe called for a pound! Now, I love to bake, but I am also frugal ( my husband calls it something else, not so nice), so those $3 figs stayed at the store and my dream of making fig newtons came to an end.

A couple weeks later, I was having supper at my father-in-law's house, and thought I spied a fig tree..I asked him about it, and sure enough, it was a fig tree...Even better, it was a fig tree full of plump, fresh figs for picking. He helped me pick a bag, and showed me how to eat them straight from the tree ( HOW on earth I never knew you could eat them straight from a tree, I do not know..) He sent me home with a grocery bag of figs and I was to return a fig newton to him in return.

Well, let's just say, I attempted a newton with no recipe to go from. I should have looked up some recipes, because it was a disaster. I then proceeded to eat the entire bag of figs, all by my lonesome. And they were good..OH SO GOOD.

I've since looked up a multitude of fig newton recipes, and think I am ready to try making them again...but first I'll have to butter up my father-in-law to let me pick more figs. I promise, this time, they'll make it into a recipe, and not my mouth.

Friday, October 1, 2010

1 + 2 = 3!

One of my college besties/roomies/gymnastics team mate is expecting. She has one adorable little "Monster" already, and just learned that she'll be adding 2 more girls to her brood.

Wanting to make something for the babies, and not leaving "Monster" out, I found an adorable FREE dress pattern from HomeLife in Australia..The pattern maker is none other than one of my favorite bloggers, Retromummy.

I whipped up all 3 in less than an hour, and Retromummy has included 4 different size patterns on this cute little dress. I made the babies dresses size 0-1 and Monster's dress a size 4, since it will most likely have to wait until next summer to be worn. These dresses are cute on their own, and can be worn as tunics with leggings once they get a tad to short in to be considered a dress anymore.

Congratulations Mac & family..I am looking forward to meeting those bambinos in February!