January 2015 Archive

I’m totally¬†organised. So when I woke this morning and remembered that it was the day of my son’s field trip to see elephant seals, I wasn’t unprepared. Okay maybe a little.

By 7.30am I was in Safeway raiding the shelves for whatever might constitute the recommended lunch. From the guidelines:

“Everyone should bring a substantial lunch including a couple of snacks and two drinks. No candy or gum (Darn! How can they do this to us? Oh, well, it’s California after all.) And it’s the teachers not parents that have to deal with the onset of hyperactive bloodlust following the over consumption of Sunset Yellow E110 and Allura Red E129. ) Who can blame them for the strict guidelines?”

“There is no food available to purchase at Ano Nuevo.” Facepalm! That was my back-up plan. Hand the kid some money and set him free. How can this be? I can’t remember the last time I prepared a school lunch. Probably the last full day field trip. My children normally buy lunch at the school cafeteria. The school cafeteria supplies a range of “Kid friendly meals, milk and an organic salad bar.” The quality has¬†moved on from the Slop of yesteryear.

Which reminds me. I grab some organic pre-sliced apples so I don’t get the dirty eye from the Moms that are conscious of both their child’s nutritional needs and others.

I also grab¬†Lunchables which is technically not food. More of a food substitute. It’s actually the backbone of the American economic recovery. Just doing my bit for the economy. Then into the cart go¬†turkey rolls and¬†pre-boiled and peeled eggs.

It may come as a surprise to some Americans that other countries prepare would prepare these foods from scratch.

It may come as a surprise to some countries that you can buy prepared foods and not have them leak all their nutritional value into the plastic wrapper. I mean this can’t happen, can it?

Oh well. I think the lunch bag looks the part. And I do have a back up plan. My Swiss friend is accompanying the class and she can always be relied on to produce a range of nourishing delicacies for all and sundry.

The destination:

“Ano Nuevo State Park’s rich variety of social and cultural resources draws visitors from around the world. The park’s Natural Preserve offers an extraordinary wilderness experience, where every year up to 10,000 elephant seals return to breed, give birth and molt their skin amongst the scenic dunes and beaches.”

The ultimate approach to exfoliation. Gotta hand it to dem seals. They know the secret to youth and beauty. Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate.

I drop everyone at school and return home to consider my own nutritional needs. I came off a 30 day detox diet with a thud on Monday so I’m feeling a little like a seal myself. Now I’m searching for some balance in my diet. For my mid morning snack I throw together some ricotta and fruit to satiate the sweet tooth and boost my protein intake:

 

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And forgive me if I post this prematurely with typos. I must now go and meet my son’s bus and hear all about the seals.

 

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Test Kitchen: Sunday Brunch. Poached eggs on ciabatta with bacon and Hollandaise Sauce. 

There is a man in my kitchen. This is nice after a week of solo parenting. If I feed him will he stick around?

Oh look he’s about to feed me. Even better:

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The Enlightened Housewife’s Personal Chef¬†

My husband is home now. He was away for a week in Atlanta for a conference. After a week in a compound,¬†in a Country Club in Georgia with his every need attended to while being preached at by management,¬†he’s ready for a spot of autonomy in the kitchen.

Today’s recipe is perfect for a leisurely Sunday brunch. This was served up shortly after the photo above was taken.

 

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Poached Eggs With Hollandaise Sauce

 

 

Poached eggs on Ciabatta with Bacon and Hollandaise Sauce

Ingredients

4 eggs

H2O or water.

9 inches to a ft long ciabatta stick.

butter

6 rashers of bacon or 6 slices of smoked salmon

Hollandaise sauce. I find it’s hard to find a good quality sauce in the main supermarkets. You can make your own by using a good quality ¬†ranch dressing with half a lemon squeezed into about 1/4 cup ranch.

chives to garnish

Recipe

Halve and slice the ciabatta lengthways. Turn the oven onto broil (or ‘grill’ in English speaking countries.) Place the sliced ciabatta under the heat and grill until golden. Meanwhile poach the eggs. This is best done in a deep frying pan half filled with water.

Butter the grilled ciabatta. Fry the bacon and assemble. Drizzle or pour your hollandaise on top and finish with chives.

Warning: Highly calorific comfort food. Hubby made cheeseburgers for dinner and I gained five pounds in a day. Which is fine because it’s all good organic fats to keep the mind and body healthy.¬†I¬†tell myself I gained the weight on the bits that count. Booty boobs and brains.

More recipes to come soon, Housewives.

 

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My Wish List

My Wish List

By

 Gregoire Delacourt

The Blurb:

Jocelyne Guerbette (47) lives in a small down in France where she runs a fabric shop, has been married to the same man for twenty-one years, and has raised two children. She is beginning to wonder what happened to all those dreams she had when she was seventeen. Could her life have been different?

Then she wins the lottery – and suddenly finds the world at her fingertips. But she chooses not to tell anyone, not even her husband- not just yet. Without cashing the check, she begins to make a list of all the things she could do with the money. But does Jocelyne really want her life to change?

Review:

I read this all in one day around feeding my children. I think they were fed nothing but noodles and soda that afternoon. This in itself shows I was fairly preoccupied with this book.

My Wish List is a good read. Like my last review, A Man Called Ove, the narrator has all but given up on life. She tries to tell herself she is satisfied with her lot. The book opens with:

“We’re always telling ourselves lies.”

“For instance, I know I’m not pretty. I don’t have blue eyes, the kind in which men gaze at their own reflection, eyes in which they want to drown so that I’ll dive in to rescue them. I don’t have the figure of a model, I’m more the cuddly sort-well….plump.”

I think Jocelyne is an unreliable narrator. We’re given reason later on in the book to believe that she is indeed attractive but she suffers from¬†a poor self esteem and the lack of desire to bring about change in herself or her circumstances. After losing her mother at a young age, Jocelyne’s father suffers a stroke and can’t communicate meaningfully with her or offer guidance in life. Jocelyne also loses a child and is very aware that her husband is also dissatisfied with their life after twenty-one years of marriage. In the early pages she details both the happiness of her early years and the love that grew and then largely faded away between her and Jo.

Yes, both Jocelyne and her husband Jocelyn have pretty much the same name. Which should have been an indication that they were a poor match to start with.

After meeting Jo, Jocelyn inherits a fabric shop. The owner, another maternal figure chokes on a button and dies. Jocelyne dutifully takes over. She starts a blog. It grows to 5000 page counts a day and many people get a lot of joy out of her posts. She is a loved member of the community but is unable to appreciate or even notice this until Jo falls ill.

It becomes more and more apparent throughout the book that Jocelyne is addicted to misery and misfortune. She rejects or downplays all the good fortune that comes her way whilst at the same time noting what she does have to be grateful for could be in peril if life were to materially change for the better.

Like her husband, Jocelyne is cursed with wanting more in her life but suffers an inability to enjoy her life or bring about change even when the tools to do so are right under her nose. So fate curses her with a winning lottery ticket. 18 million euros. At this point another maternal figure warns her

“Money drives people mad, Madame Guerbette, it’s behind four out of five crimes…..

Then she makes me assure her that I’ve taken in everything she’s said. She gives me a small business card with four emergency numbers on it. Don’t hesitate to call us, Madame Guerbetter, and don’t forget, from now on you’re not going to be loved for yourself alone. ”

 

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Today started pleasantly enough. I woke up with the arms of my two tow-headed boys wrapped around my neck. It’s become a ritual that when my husband travels, any assortment of our children spend the nights with me. Last night, Axel (8) helped me bath and tuck down the twins (3).

It was a random outcome. Kaelyn slept in Axel’s bed and Buzz slept under his own bed. I don’t know why that worked for him but it did. The rest of us tucked down together and we all slept until 9am today.

It’s Martin Luther King Day today which means no school and the kids give me a history lesson:

“Mom!” says Cosmo (6). “Martin Luther King Jnr was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15th 1929.”

That’s where Dad is,” offers Axel helpfully.

“In 1929,” asks Cosmo? “No! Shut up Cosmo,” ¬†“He’s not a Time Lord Idiot,” says¬†Axel.

“Mom!” says Cosmo. Axel is trying to segregate me!”

Following that they pull the cushions off the couch and play, “Whupp each other¬†on the bus”. ¬†It’s a more violent version of “Wheels on the Bus”. My children are not terribly politically correct at the best of times but they do have an appreciation of American history.

And to all it is beyond belief that you’d treat someone differently because of the color of their skin.

Meanwhile Hubby is slumming it here:

Chateau Elan in Braselton, Atlanta.

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Chateau Elan Winery and Resort, Atlanta, Georgia.

From the website: “From the moment you drive through the gates of Ch√Ęteau √Član until the moment you leave, you will expe¬≠ri¬≠ence warm hos¬≠pi¬≠tal¬≠ity com¬≠bined with the beauty of the French countryside.”

I’m sure it’s awful. It’s amazing what you can do with a wide angle lens and Photoshop these days. No seriously, it’s on my list of places to¬†run for when I need ¬†a respite. That or a suitably appointed detox unit.

I can only dream.

Anniversary Day Recipe

I did mention previously that I was craving eggs and salmon. Here is where I got today:

MLK Day Breakfast Burritos:

Ingredients:

wheat tortillas

spreadable cream cheese

Mexican cheese

3 eggs

milk and butter

3-5 Oz smoked Salmon

Salsa

A selection of the following toppings

Avocado, spring onions, red pepper flakes, Serrano peppers, chives, pesto sauce.

 

Directions:

Scramble the Eggs:

Break eggs into a bowl. Add a slosh of milk and roughly half a teaspoon butter.

 

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Sprinkle in some red pepper flakes if you like to dial up the heat and whisk. Not too vigorously. Just introduce the ingredients together.

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Returning to your stovetop, turn the heat up to medium. Tip the butter into a medium sized pot first and when it has melted pour the rest of the egg mixture in; stirring continuously with a whisk. ¬†The eggs shouldn’t take long to scramble:

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This is on the dryer side. Some people prefer to  take off just before done as the eggs continue to cook.

Prepare  a tortilla:

Heat a burrito sized tortilla in a frying pan on a medium heat. Heat about 20  seconds on both sides with the edges just starting to pull inwards when done.

Assembly:

Lay the tortilla flat and spread the tortilla with cream cheese. Lay the slices of smoked salmon on top. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of the eggs on the salmon and dress with salsa and Mexican cheese. For the additional toppings I elected to use avocado and red pepper flakes. Roll up your tortilla and enjoy:

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Wrecking Ball is this week’s theme song for our household. It is so suitable¬†because the house is trashed and it does indeed look as though Miley Cyrus (bless her heart) flew on through on her wrecking ball overnight.¬†I regret the state of the house and will spend most of today in atonement wandering around with no particular motivation to put things to rights. I will fold some linen here and sweep a floor there. It is Sunday after all. And if nothing else, one thing most of the major religions and some of the Hollywood based ones, agree on, is that you shouldn’t work very hard on a Sunday.

Which is why church should really be on a Monday. Cram it all in before work. Then we’d really have something to blame Mondayitis on instead of the 36 hour rebound effect of over-serving oneself on a Saturday night.

We can all come together in our collective misery on a Monday morning, then head off to Starbucks, slapping ourselves on the backs before going¬†to work!¬†It would be so very American. I’m sure productivity would increase!

Four children are currently singing the lyrics of Miley Cyrus’s unforgettable ballad. While playing Minecraft. And eating breakfast. I don’t know how they manage this ultimate feat in multi-tasking. I’ve concluded the hemispheres of children’s brains must have evolved over the last generation. Not enough to cope with simple household chores and there are the predictable emotional trade-offs. If one of the xbox controllers goes missing, everything falls apart.

And despite the fact that they can all play simultaneously, I still have to step in to solve disagreements.

“Mom!” “Buzz hit me,” complains Cosmo (6).

“Did he hit you in real life or did he hit you in¬†#Minecraft, ” I ask.

“He hit me in real life,” he replies.

I explain to Cosmo that his actions in Minecraft might have repercussions in real life. And marvel at my words. “What have I become?” I wonder. Cosmo apologises for knocking over a sign and building a bed in Buzz’s house. Buzz (3) apologises for clocking Cosmo on the head with an xbox controller.

Enlightened Housewife. Asking the hard questions since 2001. Except when I was pregnant and my brain was mush.

Back to the housework. It’s kind of unavoidable. Like the San Francisco fog that’s moodily hanging around outside. It must be really bored to come this far across the bay. ¬†Or annoyed because they shut the Golden Gate Bridge to traffic last weekend while a new high tech safety barrier was installed. Which perversely made me really, really want to drive across it! About Karl the Fog from Huffington Post:

Like most of us, I don’t want to give the impression that our house spends all it’s time in a state of disarray. And it doesn’t. We’ve had plenty of dinner parties and friends over to attest that it’s quite often immaculate. Because we spend the previous 48 hours scrambling madly to put it to rights!

I know some of you do this too. If you come over it’s going to gleam. Just please, please, please don’t look in my laundry or ask why the guest bedroom door won’t open! Is this the American Way or just my way?

And if it’s a little shabby, I have the ultimate excuse. We have a¬†large family. People are both surprised by this and supportive. Probably the consensus is that it’s my thing. Like scrap booking. Or like, some people have a bad back, or get gout. Or raccoons.¬†That I got myself into this situation and eventually I’ll get myself out. I just may be some time.

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Enlightened Housewife. Keeping House since 2001. Before that I was more bohemian than houseproud. Just a little. It was the fashion back then.

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The brats  My darling children are back in school and I can get some time to myself. In an ideal world our living room would always look like this:

 

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I would be sitting at one end of the table enjoying my morning coffee and reading the newspaper. Right before I go out for my mani/pedi. Followed by a stop at my local bookstore.¬†I’d have picked up my 50th anniversary copy of John Le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Then stopped to read a couple¬†of chapters over my flat white at Starbucks.

Newsflash! Starbucks has only just put a flat white on their menu. Southern hemisphere readers; if you asked for a flat white until recently, you’d get a blank stare. I get a lot of blank stares anyway due to my Kiwi accent.

I have fun with this. I’ve perfected my own blank stare back. With a little help from a Serbian friend. A¬†bit of Slav attitude gets results fast.

The room in the picture above looks lovely and peaceful. Because there are no kids in it. And no evidence of kids. It’s new. A big ole empty new room. Stand at the door to this room; look outwards¬†and you’ll survey the 180 degree view of an inch deep layer of Apple Jacks and Froot Loops.

This is a Before photo of the long slow process of demolition that will ¬†occur over the next twenty years. Where part of us will die a little with each scratch and mark. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. Obviously.

Or I’d have collection of Lladr√≥¬†instead of a collection of kids.

When the kids have left home I plan to start a collection of the ugliest Lladr√≥¬†pieces I can find. I grew up in the 80’s so this is the epitome of glamour for me. I’m just so glad it was different for Lorde growing up in New Zealand a decade or so later:

Imagine trying to work, ” Lladr√≥, Royal Doulton, Diamonds on your car phone”, into the song “Royals”. It just wouldn’t work.

Satus symbols today compared to the 1980’s.¬†

So anyway.¬†I didn’t get to read the newspaper this morning. I’ve rewarmed my coffee from 6 am in the microwave. My toes disappeared off the radar in 2006. They seem to have employed a local cloaking device. Good for them. One more thing less to do. But I have made time for myself to sit down and write.

( I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. If I did they they would all revolve around coffee, food and bad habits.) Way to suck the fun out of life big time. But I am putting a plan in place now the kids are back at school.

The next four months I plan to finish a book. I started this project two years ago. And got busy with life.

When I picked it up again recently the characters were the same but I realised I had the wrong audience. So I’ve started from scratch and hope to have something in three months. I’ve already written two books in different genres. I have a stack of rejection slips to prove it.

So thanks for stopping by my blog. I couldn’t do it without you. To write creatively I have to deliberately open up the creative channels. This I do by putting¬†up a blog post. Then some time later in that day or night I get the urge to sit down at the above table and write a couple of chapters. The¬†characters shoulder tap me: “Oh man, who’s she going to write about now”?

I get to have a bit of fun and a glimpse into another world for five, ten minutes or if I am lucky, an hour. A world that doesn’t have Apple Jacks in it.

Housewife essentials

And I’m wearing this. And my toes are painted to match.

 

 

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It’s just as well I’ve never pursued a corporate career. I just wouldn’t have the Lady Melons to deal with workplace dramas.

Due to being afflicted with the remnants of social anxiety, I have three settings when confronted both with normal conflicting agendas between individuals and also when dealing with rampant arseholery.

These settings are:

1. Doormat.

2. People Pleaser. (Lets just all get along)!

3. Postal!!

I’ve known the following individual and business person for eight months. We contracted her to choose furniture for our living room. We were sick of making bad decisions on our own so we rang in a professional designer. But she wasn’t very professional. It’s been a case of over promise and under deliver.

I realised our designer was overcharging us every opportunity she could get. All the the while smiling and making out like we were best friends. This afternoon I was left with no choice but to drop the rope:

Way to fire your designer via email:

“Dear Designer.”

1. “I am sorry you weren’t professional enough to resolve the freight issues with Hubby.”

(She invoiced us $3,000 for furniture that we could have had freighted for free from the internet. We wanted to ask her to reduce her delivery charge but she escalated quickly)

2. “Threatening us with Court has bought an end to this working relationship.” (Hubby was trying to find a middle ground. Designer tried to bully him by saying ¬†she’d take him to court if he didn’t pay the full amount. He asked her to leave. Then I¬†followed up with an email. See Point 1 above.

3. “Oh stop it. That’s Alligator tears.” (Every time I’d pull her up on something she’d play innocent then hurt. Then GPOTY. (Grandparent of the year with my children. )

Me: “Furthermore:”

“I disbelieve that you have ordered the linen and the lamps. ¬†You tried to bullshit my husband about me taking a while to choose the linen. I paid a deposit on the original six months ago and YOU advised me it wasn’t available any more so we had to re select another fabric.” (She tried to gaslight me. Manipulate facts to insinuate my judgment was off)

Me: “I appreciated we followed the Method¬†designing practice of climbing in bed together to ¬†channel the correct choice of fabrics and the right down weighting for our climate.
It was lovely chanting OM and holding hands. Especially since I lack a Mommy Figure since emigrating to America.”

“I am also sure your design credentials¬†are impeccable.” (She went to a Scandinavian design school. She may have¬†graduated with a diploma in Muppetry)

Me: “However:”

“At every turn there has been delay after delay. The lack of follow up caused multiple delivery trips and this resulted in the freight blow out. 3000!”

“The lack of professionalism was not limited to bad project management. At one stage you tried to double invoice us.” You shocker.

She did. I got two $10,000 invoices and she tried to tell me I was wrong until I presented her with the cold hard evidence from our bank account.

I finished with:

“We are reasonable people so we will settle on the following compromise:

Keep the deposit on the lamps and the linen to offset your excessive freight costs. We have no proof or faith that you have ordered the aforesaid items and no wish to re litigate matters any further.”

“However if you wish to revisit these issues in any other forum we will be more than happy to present our side. As long as it’s in the People’s Court.”

Boss Lady

Boss Lady

“Furthermore. Keep the shonky table. We’ll replace it from Bed Bath and Beyond at half the price.”

Best

Enlightened Housewife.

 

Enlightened Housewife.  Ladling out the advice and speaking my mind since 2012. When I emigrated to America and had to fit in.  Before that I was a pussy.

Enlightened Housewife.
Ladling out the advice and speaking my mind since 2012. When I emigrated to America and had to fit in.
Before that I was just a pussy.

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Social Anxiety. A have a sister who I swear doesn’t suffer from it. I know lots of politicians and journalists who lack it.

Sarah Palin doesn’t have a smidgen:

She outrages us because she lacks  social anxiety. Bless her boots . Don't be standing on the dogs Sarah.

She outrages us because she lacks social anxiety. Bless her boots. Don’t be standing on the dogs Sarah.

But most of the rest of us have experienced this condition at one time or another.

I’m relieved I’m over it for the most part.

I’m told as a young child I was shy. At elementary school I had lots of friends. The first time I experienced social anxiety was when moving schools during my middle school years. We relocated and that entire car journey I spent my time thinking:

“Will they like me will they like me will they like me”?

Ah. Middle School Anxiety. Think how many friends I made at my new school radiating that low level paranoia!

One! She ditched me after three weeks when her best friend came back from vay cay. She was kind enough to inform me why she was dropping me:

“So and so is back from Australia now. So we’re not going to hang out any more, kay”?

What choice did I have? I took refuge in the entire works of Daphne Du Maurier and Jane Austin and it was fine, really.
I was always kind of a Breakfast Club type of student right through my High School years. Whether we were geeks, jocks or cheerleaders, we all ended up matey in year 13. We all suffered and looking back it was a necessary process to navigate the politics of adult life.

Then I met my husband in college and everything was awesome from then on right? 

No! Fuck no! Shortly after I met future hubby we dropped out of college. We spent some months couch surfing at our respective parents houses. Then we decided to haul our raggedy asses back to college for a second attempt. My 16 year old brother moved in with us and we all underwent a collective angst.

This was Dunedin, New Zealand in the 1990’s. It was settled by the Scottish.

The Glasgow of the Southern Hemisphere.

An awesome place to be unless you’re in a dark place, right? We moved into a condominium sandwiched in between a halfway house and a¬†guy dealing smack. We kept¬†away from both. We knew not to get too experimental. We were having enough trouble keeping a grip on reality as it was.

The 20 year old brain is extremely plastic. Unless you’re distracted by work or are intensely involved in your studies, it can be a perpetual state of Manic Depression. When we were up we were up. When we were down we would sit around in a group rocking; wondering when it would all stop, please. With someone in the condo below us playing Alanis Morrisette at full volume.

We moved out, we moved on. We grew up. We got jobs.

Hang in there it gets better!

Enlightened Housewife. Asking the hard questions since 2001. Except when I was pregnant and my brain was mush.

Enlightened Housewife. Asking the hard questions since 2001. Except when I was pregnant and my brain was mush.

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One of my resolutions is¬†to eat well in the New Year. I’ve done a thorough investigation and I can attest to the following. The right way to start your day is a big plate of cooked oats. Add almond milk and heap with fresh fruit:

Safway one minute oats with almond milk and fruit.

Safeway one minute oats with almond milk and fruit.

The following is not the right way to start the day:

A way to start the day. Rumchata rolled out it's millionth case in 2014

A way to start the day. Rumchata rolled out it’s millionth case in 2014

I’d never heard of Rumchata until recently. So I did some investigation. What is this¬†beverage, the virtues of which are currently and widely being touted around the Mommy Blogosphere?

From the website of Liquor.com:

“RumChata was launched with a soft rollout in the fall of 2009. RumChata is bottled from a made-from scratch cream liqueur recipe that uses five times distilled Caribbean rum and the freshest real dairy cream with a touch of natural cinnamon, vanilla, sugar and other secret flavors. In April of 2014, the award winning RumChata sold its millionth case.”

Hmm..2009 I think. The world was going through the final throes of the global financial crisis. Shops are emptying out and businesses are going under everywhere. There is no innovation and all looks bleak.

Then some GENIUS develops a brand new liqueur! And lo and behold the economy rights itself!

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research The U.S. recession that began in December 2007 ended in June 2009

Mere coincidence or the life preserver that got us all out of the shtick?

Friends attest that it reminds them of Cinnabon. I wonder if there was a correlating drop in sales at Cinnabon when Rumchata was rolled out? I mean, who would eat your cinnamon when you can have it as a liquor? At 13.75%.

Cinnabon might have to get inventive to restore profits here and step it up the next time the world needs a bailout. ¬†I know Cinnabon is a family brand but you know there’ll be a market at least in Oregon¬†following the¬†legalisation of marijuana in 2014. They’d have to have a separate menu for Oregon. Instead of the Cinnabon Classic Roll it would become the Cinnabon Cannabis Classic Roll.

Can you imagine? All the stoners would be standing around outside Cinnabon scratching their heads and going:

“Wow man. That’s CLASSIC”…

The Oregon way to start the day.

Enlightened Housewife. Making you laugh since 2011. ūüôā Before then I wasn’t very funny. I tried. You know.

Shoes are a girls best friend after a man with lots of money.

Shoes are a girls best friend. After a man with lots of money.

 

 

 

 

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