Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Five People You Meet on Facebook.

This post is inspired by a status update from one of my high school friends that read, "If you were mean to me or ignored me in high school, why on Earth would I confirm your friend request?"

Excellent question.

Facebook is undoubtedly an amazing way to stay connected to people. It is especially useful for people like me whose friends and family are far flung. That said, like any cultural phenomenon, Facebook leads to some strange and uncomfortable reunions. So let's discuss the five most commonly annoying/bizarre/disturbing people you will meet on Facebook:

1. The former mean girl/guy: He stole your lunch money. She stole your boyfriend. It doesn't really matter how cool you were in high school, there was always someone there who wanted to make your life miserable. But now he/she is a grownup. He/She's changed! Oh, and he/she wants to be your "friend".


This person is likely still a terrible human being and just wants to be able to poke around your pictures and see if you are hotter than he/she is.

This happened to me last month. I got a friend request from a high school classmate we'll call "Jack". The last interaction I had with "Jack" was ten years ago, when he and his evil girlfriend "Molly" three way called me and tried to trick me into admitting my secret desire to steal "Jack" from "Molly". I don't really care if "Jack" has since found Jesus, won a Pulitzer or delivered a baby in a taxi, to me he will always be the douche from high school who three-way attacked me.

Friend request? DENIED

2. The Attention Whore: She danced on tabletops at high school parties. He always has a story ready to one-up yours. Like a cockroach, the attention whore is impervious to hints and the Internet only makes him/her stronger. The Attention Whore posts inane status updates hourly and comments on every post in your news feed. To make matters worse, the Attention Whore likely suffers from low self esteem, which means that any attempt by you to block them will be met by many follow up friend requests.

You are powerless against the Attention Whore.


3. The Ugly Duckling Turned Swan (UDTS): She had braces, frizz and acne at graduation. He was the "husky" one of the bunch. In the years since high school they've befriended the treadmill, Proactiv & Botox and want you to know that YOU MISSED THE BOAT YOU SHALLOW BITCHES. The UDTS has entire photo albums devoted to his/her rock hard abs and probably a head shot. The UDTS also makes a habit of posts like "I heart spin class" or "Pain is weakness leaving the body".

The UDTS is likely single as their obsessive need to re-write their high school history has rendered them an emotional black hole.


4. The Religious/Political Zealot: He found Jesus. She found Sarah Palin. The zealot uses Facebook as a twenty-four hour soapbox for various rants. You can expect lots of links to Fox News & MSNBC as well as videos of James Dobson telling you why God hates gay people. They also will ask you to support various causes like, "1,000,000 Strong That Believe Global Warming is a Myth" or "Yurts Rock!".

Be aware that very little of what the Zealot says is based in reality. Zealots do not like to be confused with facts.


And finally...

5. The Family Member: Facebook changed when old people got involved. You used to be able to put up college pictures but now your mom is on Facebook. She doesn't want to know that you did your fair share of body shots on her dime while getting your B.A. in Communications. The Family Member also includes random relatives & Fourth cousins who want to get to the elusive 100th friend mark. The Family Member will comment on ANYTHING unsavory in your profile, so be alert. The Family Member will also at some point disclose something you didn't want to know about your Mom, so this is another time to take advantage of Facebook's various "block" functions.


It really is a brave new world. I must go now. I have to go join "10,000 Strong for Feta" and "Aquarians for the Ethical Treatment of Badgers."


I will post later, for the moment know that I am in DeKalb, IL working a job fair. Oh you've never heard of it? ME EITHER.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Media Monday: Team U.S.A. edition

I am an Olympic whore. I really really really love the Olympics. I love the Olympics so much so that yesterday I watched curling. For two hours. The strangest part of the Olympics is that every two years when they arrive, I go from a tree-hugging, bleeding heart, liberal citizen of the world to a red blooded, profanity laced xenophobe who says things like: "You skated that Kraut under the table, Evan!" or "If it weren't for us you'd be speaking German, Frenchie!".

I don't get it. I love Germany and France. They are two lovely countries filled with even lovelier people, but this means nothing to me come Olympic time. When the French swimmers were taunting Michael Phelps at the last summer Olympics I boycotted French fries. And last week when the Russian men's figure skater badmouthed Evan Lysacek I muttered something about a "Borscht eating commie."

(For the record, I am not proud of these things.)

So, if you aren't horribly offended and care to keep reading, I am kicking off a Media Monday with my current media obsession:

1. TV: The Olympics

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Love 'em. We have recorded and watched every event, even the weird one where they shoot things on skis. What is that? I want to try that! My favorite so far has been the aforementioned ass kicking in Men's Figure Skating by the incredibly attractive (and straight!) Evan Lysacek. I also would like to give a shout out to Johnny Weir who was totally low balled by the judges. I remain convinced that they are all jealous they can't rock a hot pink tassel like Johnny.

I also am eagerly awaiting more hockey now that team U.S.A. upset the heavily favored Canadian team. I don't know...I smell something special on the 30 year anniversary of the Miracle on Ice! You better watch your back Canada...we're comin' for ya.

No Olympic recap would be complete without mentioning the incredible Shaun White. As my uncle put it, "Shaun White is to snowboarding what Michael Jordan was to basketball. A whole other level." I'm not sure what is more awesome about Shaun White: his skills, his hair or the fact that he seems like one of the coolest dudes you could ever meet. I think Mr. Valentine has a dude crush on him, which I wholeheartedly support.

2. Non-Olympic TV: Big Love

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This show is incredible. According to the writers, they decided to use a polygamist plotline as an allegory for homosexuality and gay marriage. I appreciate the blending of real-life news tie ins (i.e. the FLDS raids in Texas, the Sinaloa drug cartels in Mexico and the hypocrisy of "family focused" politics.) along with an awesome cast of characters. It borders on soapy, but the kind of self-aware, well written soapy that keeps you coming back. Every actor on this show is sublime and the cameos are brilliant. Harry Dean Stanton? Sissy Spacek? I honestly think it's the best show on TV.

3. Book: The Financial Lives of the Poets

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Brilliant. Funny. Sad. Socially Relevant. My father in law lent me this book and his rave reviews were spot on. It's a wry and wise take on the current American economic situation and the responsibility that we all carry for it. This is a great book.

4. Movie: The Hurt Locker

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I love the Oscars almost as much as I love the Olympics. (Apparently I have two alter egos, red-blooded American jock and fabulous gay man.) I always try to see all the Best Picture nominees before the ceremony, but since there are 10 this year I probably won't. I knew I had to see this one though and it did not disappoint. It is an amazing snapshot of a specific group of our armed forces that I didn't even know existed. I really pull for this type of movie over the "Avatar" types. I just think the intimate quality of a film like this is a true accomplishment.

So there you have it, all the media I am currently consuming. Hope you all have a good week and say it with me: USA! USA! USA!

And to my Canadian friends, I apologize, I won't be this way much longer.


Friday, February 19, 2010

you like me. you reeeaaallly like me.

I am pleased to report that one of my very best e-friends, the lovely and saucy jCam has given me my very first blog award! Cue the choir of angels and check out my new hardware:

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I always hoped my first major award would be an Oscar for my tour de force performance in "Valentine's Choice: Not Without my Brie", but this will do just fine. So, in order to be a gracious winner (no James Cameron antics)I have to complete the following checklist:

A. Shout out to jCam: Thanks Boo! I'm so glad that the Internet has brought our kindred spirits together. I can't wait to meet baby coconut, both virtually and one day in real life! (I've taken to calling jCam's bambino coconut since she keeps comparing him/her to legumes. It makes me hungry.)

B. Link jCam's bliggety blog: if you haven't already, start following jCam's "Freakin Awesome Blog" if for no other reason to watch the progress of her adorable sock monkey nursery. HerFreakinAwesomeBlog.

C. Copy the award to my blog. Done. I totally did that first because I LOVE ATTENTION. What do you expect from an only child? Restraint?

D. List seven interesting things about myself. This was harder than I thought but I gave it a whirl:

1. Apparently I reached the peak of my physical beauty at age 3 when I moonlighted as a baby model. Once I was in People magazine modeling baby evening wear (naturally) with a bunch of other children whose parents were famous (side note - mine are not famous, I was the one "normal" kid of the bunch). I remember that Lynn Redgrave's little girl was a horrible brat and kept eating the jelly beans out of the martini glass I was holding as a prop. The photographer yelled at me and I cried. In retrospect this might have been the beginning of my unhealthy relationship with martinis.

2. I hate ice cream. When I tell people this the reaction falls somewhere in between an audible gasp and a look that screams, "What? Do you kick puppies in your spare time too?" I just don't like ice cream. It's cold (hurts my teeth), milky (not a fan) and usually just obstructs my path to cake. In short, ice cream sucks and you can't convince me otherwise.

3. I collect vintage books. The star in my collection is a first edition "To Kill a Mockingbird" with intact dust jacket. I also have my eye on a first edition " Wizard of Oz" at my local vintage bookstore; I just have to convince Mr. Valentine this $400 is totally justified. I'll do it...just you wait. (Insert menacing laughter.)

4. I have never seen the movie "Dirty Dancing". I don't find this that odd but other women my age have a hard time believing it. I've tried. It's boring. Plus, I like my Jerry Orbach as a grizzled detective or a dancing candlestick or no way at all. RIP Detective Lenny Briscoe.

5. I've been in a couple of bar fights. I can't really elaborate but suffice it to say it is NOT a good idea to try to swipe a beer out of my bucket while my back is turned.

6. Although I am a certifiable OCD nut job when it comes to cleaning, I have a junk closet in my house that is a disaster. Sometimes I open it and just stare. It's totally like Monica's secret closet in "Friends". I'm not sure if it will ever be cleaned, but a little clutter is good for the soul I suppose.

7. One of my happiest moments was the second I told Mr. Valentine that I'd scored four tickets to the White Sox World Series. They sold out in under eight minutes and I managed to get four at face value! He thought for sure that I hadn't been able to get them since they went so quickly and I'll never forget the look on his face when he found out! We had an amazing time at the game we went to, a grand slam AND a walk off home run to win it. They went on to win the series and I was able to give my husband a gift he still talks about to this day.

So that's it! Now I have to nominate seven bloggers for this award. I'm sure some of them have gotten them before but I don't care:

My gorgeous lil' sorority sis at

The beautiful & hilarious Jamie at His 'n Her Towels

One of my real life best friends Taylor at Curly in the City

Carrie at Laugh, Love, Eat Ice Cream, she makes me want to move to Washington.

Lauren at With Two Cats whose idea boards are to die for.

Leslie at Twice the Fun Twice the Love whose adorable twins make me grin from ear to ear!

And finally Buckin at The Garden Gourmet whose recipes make drool and garden makes me envious! She's probably gotten this award a million times. She's like Queen of the Blogoshphere.

I do have an honorable mention as well: Jeanne at Cheese Underground. Yep. It's a blog about cheese. Are you really that surprised?


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fromage Friday (recession edition)

In the throws of a massive economic breakdown, we tend to resort to a simpler way of life. Take the bus instead of driving. Brown bag lunch instead of takeout. Steve Maddens in lieu of Jimmy Choos.

With the exception of a maddening pay freeze, Mr. Valentine & I have remained largely unscathed by the current economy which is an incredible blessing that we do not take for granted. Like many people though, we realized that we need to be more prepared should that change. To that end we've changed some spending habits to be a bit more frugal.

When we were talking about where to cut back, we happened upon some hilarious "Mars vs. Venus" conversations. Here is an example:

Me: We could cancel the cable. We don't really need all those channels.
Him: I'll cancel the cable if you stop buying throw pillows.
Me: Ok. The cable stays.

All kidding aside, we've been much more conscious than usual, which is good. Not having children or a mortgage can lure you into a false sense of security when it comes to ancillary income.

Anyhoo - back to the matter at hand: CHEESE. As you are all aware, I pink puffy heart cheese. Unfortunately, once your cheese palette ventures beyond cheddar and pepper jack it can get pretty spendy. Since Mr. Valentine INSISTED I was NOT allowed to have a portion of the budget dedicated to the Whole Foods Cheese counter, I've been looking for more affordable ways to feed my habit. To that end I give you:

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Cranberry Chevre. This sweet & creamy goat cheese is covered in tart cranberries for a delicious combination. This cheese is a delicious addition to a cheese & cracker plate and also fantastic on toast in the morning. (Yep, I eat cheese all day.) This particular picture is courtesy of but can also be found at Trader Joe's for a mere $5! That makes it delicious and frugal; perfect for the cheese monger on a budget.

Try it. Eat it. Make your friends eat it and tell them all about the crazy cheese lady that lives on the interwebz.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I'm pretty sure Jesus wasn't a procrastinator.

But here I am, on the eve of Ash Wednesday with no idea of what to give up for Lent. I took a totally unscientific poll this week (Mr. Valentine the scientist would be so displeased) and found that most people give up the usual suspects: smoking, drinking, swearing, chocolate, midget porn, etc. I don't smoke anymore, so that's out. I couldn't care less about chocolate so that would be cheating. I suppose if I really wanted to liken my Lenten experience to Jesus' 40 fast in the wilderness I could give up cheese but come on, we all know that ain't happenin'. (I have a segment called Fromage Fridays people. I am very serious about cheese.)

I think I'm going to take a two pronged approach to Lent this year. I've decided to give up a tangible thing - drinking of any kind. This will most certainly make St. Patty's Day suck but that seems a tad bit whiny when you are trying to channel the sacrifice of a man who wandered in the wilderness for 40 days before ultimately dying a supremely unpleasant death for all humanity.

I think that is a good start, however I'm not sure that me giving up lemon drops & prosecco really is the point of the Lent exercise, so the second "sin" I am giving up is a behavior. For the next 40 days, I am going to attempt to stop stop complaining/criticizing others. I don't think of myself as a mean person, but I am an OCD, type A, only child with a dash of Irish depression thrown in. I can be hypercritical, both of myself and others. So my real challenge for the next 40 days is to stop sweating the small stuff I guess. Stop complaining about my job and do something about it. Stop criticizing my husband for not cleaning enough and start thanking him for working so hard for us. Stop whining about the relationships in my life that hurt and try to find some peace in them.

It is easy to get bogged down by what tires us in life: bills, sickness, stress & pain. I'm hoping the next forty days reaffirm what I already know, that I am an intensely lucky woman with a lifetime of good still to come. St. Athanasius described Lent as "becoming by grace what God is by nature." That's a pretty tall order, but I think with forty Cosmo-free days and a renewed positivity I can find a little of that grace in my life.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

baby come back. you can blame it all on meeee.

I lost my first follower...insert sad face here. What did I do? Was it something I said? Is the thrill gone? I promise if you come back I will make your favorite meal and make sweet, sweet love to you.

If my groveling doesn't do the trick, how about sad puppy face:

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The Beans wants you back too.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Winter Wonderland Wednesday

I have no words to describe the recent here are some pictures:

A buried fire hydrant:

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Our frozen creek:

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Our snow covered trees:

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If you are missing snow, enjoy. If you are as cold as I am, here's hoping we warm up soon!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The sins of the father will be visited upon my hips.

I have a bone to pick with my parents.

My dad (a chef) & my mom (Italian) are amazing cooks. I grew up eating good food, round the clock. When I was four, my favorite food was clams & linguine, not Mac & Cheese. When you all were learning how to nuke yourself a Hot Pocket, I already had mastered an authentic Viennese Wiener Schnitzel with cucumber salad. I can safely assume I am one of only a handful of first graders that ever brought homemade falafel to school in a brown bag. (Side note: it is nearly impossible to trade a fried chickpea patty for a fruit roll up. I know from experience.)

By now you're asking yourself, what's the problem you endive eating elitist? (That's for you A) Well, when I was eating all this gourmet grub I was also surfing, swimming, biking, hiking, playing water polo & engaging in many other unsavory teenage habits that burn calories like a jackrabbit (sorry mom). These days I can barely huff & puff my way through the Kwando class at Bally's without passing out or reaching for a martini shaker. Turns out I didn't "have a fast metabolism" so much as I burned calories like a mofo for the better part of eighteen years.

Now that I no longer have the luxury of devoting my life to tanning & toning my bod, I have to make adjustments so that I don't wind up on Maury Povich with an 80 lb. two year old one day. So for now, I have bid adieu to potatoes & pasta, which is no small feat considering the blood in my veins is almost entirely Irish/Italian. I'm only consuming wine when it is ABSOLUTELY necessary (i.e. most days) and I'm dragging my lazy butt back to the gym five days a week (before I drink obviously). But just because I'm legally separated from my true love (cheese) doesn't mean I don't still fantasize about our sweet reconciliation. All of which leads to this week's installment of theoretical Thursday:

Assuming you sold your soul to the devil had the discipline of those soulless bitches in the Victoria's Secret catalogue, what would you eat if calories were of no concern to you?

Mine is sadly unoriginal, but I honestly would eat cheeseburgers all the time. I have never met a cheeseburger I didn't like. Carbs, cheese, meat all in one ingenious little package, served with the best side dish ever invented: the French fry. Deep fried I love thee. No matter what anyone says about the French, they invented the fry for which we should all be eternally grateful.

I swear I heard "Taps" playing the day I gave up fries. Vive la pomme frite. We will meet again.