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Monday, February 18 2013

My grandmother had the greenest thumb I've ever known. Her yard was always full of beautiful gardens that flourished and produced lovely flowers. She was particularly proud of her iris beds. Unfortunately, I didn't inherit that gene. Instead, I have something closer to a black thumb. Plants don't literally die when I walk by, but they do have a tendency to get quite ill when I take care of them (or rather, don't take care of them, since I constantly forget to water them).

 

But my bad luck with plants doesn't stop me from trying to grow my own vegetables. Every spring, I drag my husband down to the garden center and pick out little tomato seedlings and young strawberry bushes, convinced that this is the year that my garden will grow. Instead, snails eat all the leaves on the strawberry plants, and my herbs wilt and die. My tomato plants usually survive, but instead of producing abundant crops of plump red orbs, the branches grow spindly and sick looking. The resulting tomatoes look like miniature cherry tomatoes, as if cherry tomatoes weren't small enough to start with. On the plus side, these itty bitty tomatoes that are no bigger than my thumbnail pack a huge amount of flavor. I toss them on salads and enjoy them as much as I can. Still, I dream of salsas and caprese salads or tomato slices topped with cheese and broiled on sourdough bread.

 

Maybe this year will be different. This will be the year when my plants grow so tall that I have to stake them to keep them from falling over. This will be the year when I have so many strawberries that I learn how to make preserves.

 

To bolster my confidence, I'm currently growing a chia pet.

Since chia pets are essentially foolproof, even I can't mess this up. I'm hoping that once I get on a growing streak, I can transfer that success to my vegetable garden. I can already imagine roasted tomatoes stuffed with cheese and bread crumbs, homemade marinara sauces, and hearty sandwiches. Ah, to dream.

Posted by: Staci McLaughlin AT 01:02 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, February 04 2013

It was one of my favorite days of the year yesterday. It's a day when friends and family gather round, eat high-fat snacks and copious amounts of pizza, and sit back to watch a bunch of commercials. I've heard rumors that there's some sort of football game in between all those commercials, but I never pay attention to that part. For me, Super Bowl Sunday is all about those overpriced, overhyped ads.

 

My unrealistically high expectations are fueled by the "Best of the Super Bowls ads" specials that always air in the week before the game, a reminder of just how funny or memorable those thirty-second spots can be. So while little surprises me anymore, yesterday's collection had some real gems.

 

There were the touching ads, like Dodge Ram's spot with Paul Harvey and So God Made a Farmer. Paul Harvey was on the radio for so long that he became one of those people I took for granted. He was always there, so he'd continue to always be there. Now that he's been gone a few years, hearing his voice only reminded me of what a great broadcaster he was. And So God Made a Farmer sent a powerful message about hard work and values that made me want to cheer. The Oprah spot about supporting our troops was also a winner.

 

The Super Bowl would not be complete without the funny ads, too. Kia's Babylandia ad was cute and touching, while Amy Poehler made me laugh at her Best Buy spot. The two ads from Doritos were both amusing though not as good as years past. Then again, Doritos has proven itself to be a frontrunner for some of the funniest Super Bowl ads, so maybe I'm expecting too much from them.

 

Overall, I thought yesterday's commercials were solid for the most part and notable in several instances. Only a few were duds (Go Daddy, anyone?) What were your favorites?

Posted by: Staci McLaughlin AT 11:26 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email