Friday, June 22, 2012


I only have two tattoos, which is honestly kind of an accomplishment for a so-called Gen Xer who spent her formative years in major metropolitan areas.  Not that everybody my age has tattoos, of course, but where I'm from, it's much more common than not.  And many folks have LOTS of ink.  I have to confess that if I were younger, 20 pounds lighter, and didn't care if I ever got promoted at work, I would so totally go for it with a tattoo sleeve.  I just plain love a well-done sleeve, where the images complement one another and it doesn't look like just a hodgepodge of random tats held together by a background color.

Anyway, my first tattoo was of Jiminy Cricket.  The reason I got that one is simple: I'm a Disneyland fanatic, and Jiminy just seemed like the embodiment of all things Disney.  He stars in one of the original animated classics (Pinocchio, 1940), he's a good guy, and one of my favorite spots in all of Disneyland is walking through Sleeping Beauty's Castle and hearing "When You Wish Upon a Star" playing softly.  I just knew I wouldn't regret sporting Jiminy Cricket on my bod permanently, and I haven't over the years, not even once.

For the record, I'm not the kind of person who assigns deep symbolic meaning to my tattoos the way you see on those awful reality shows (like, "This lily is in memory of my grandmother because this one time she gave me lilies when I had tonsillitis and I always think of her when I see them and when she died it was sooooooo saaaaaaaaad but now she'll live forever through this tribute to her above my ass-crack").  Gag.

So I got the Jiminy Cricket tattoo in 1996 (that's 16 years ago, for the mathematically challenged).  Time had not been kind to the cricket; he was faded and blurry and just looking kind of sorry.  I confess that I wasn't the best about keeping him religiously moisturized.  But I'm not a sun-worshipper (I actually loathe the sun and avoid it at all costs), so it really didn't make sense that he'd faded so badly.

Wednesday I went to Side Show Studios, my preferred tattooing establishment, and artist Josh brought Jiminy Cricket back to life.  Please ignore any weird spots it might seem to have -- it's still very much in the process of healing.
Pretty spiffy, I think.  He brought out details that I'd forgotten the tat even had.  I could not be happier.  In fact, I've decided to go back sometime next month for a new one.  In keeping with the Disney theme, I'm thinking I'll probably go with something like this:
Since I've only been tattooed twice (well, 3 times now with the re-do), I'd forgotten that it's, you know, a bit painful to be stabbed repeatedly with needles for a couple hours.  So while I'm looking forward to having another Disney image, I can't say that I'm too excited about going through the process itself.  Ouch.

Oh, and the hidden and mysterious symbolic meaning of the upcoming tat?  "I still like Disneyland."  Deep, huh?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Pugly

Just had to share this adorable snap of the niecelets with Marlee.  I feel so much love looking at the three of them together that I almost can't contain myself.

Marlee adores children, and has a special relationship with Niecelet 2 in particular.  The two of them practically speak their own language.  There are games of chase, belly-tickling in the grass, and lots and lots of tea parties and dress-up.  Marlee goes out of her mind with joy when they get together.

It's kind of funny that I have a dog who worships kids, since I don't plan on ever having children.  I would absolutely love to walk into an adoption agency one day and say, "I need to get a kid for my dog," since we hear the reverse all the time at the animal shelter where I work.

Here's Marlee moments later being a whore-pug and begging for belly rubs:

I've always treasured this photo of Niecelet 1 with Marlee, around 2008.  She absolutely loved walking Marlee on leash in her backyard, and fancied herself quite the little junior dog trainer.  Here, she's telling a very befuddled pug to "Heel, Mars!"

I adopted Marlee in 2006.  She was surrendered to the shelter at 5 months old with a raging case of generalized demodex.  Here she is during her first week as my foster dog:
She really was a crusty, swollen mess.  It took months to get the demodex resolved, but once we did, I had decided that she was a keeper -- I couldn't imagine being without her.

Two weeks after finalizing the adoption, we were at the vet because Marlee was walking funny on one of her front legs.  Much manipulating of the limbs and a few x-rays later, my vet pronounced her "an orthopedic nightmare."  She had severe hip dysplasia, and the bones in her front legs were bowing because the growth plates had fused early.  Off to the specialist we went.

The orthopedist decided that the hip dysplasia needed to be dealt with immediately, since the muscles in Marlee's back legs wouldn't develop properly if she continued to use her legs incorrectly.  That meant bilateral FHO (femoral head ostectomy) surgeries when she was only 7 months old.

The surgeries were expensive but totally worth it.  Once she regained the use of her legs, Marlee was off and running, and hasn't had an unhealthy day since.  She still has some wacky bone structure (the joints in her front feet are practically nonexistent, so her feet can point outward or inward or practically fold in on themselves), and I expect we'll deal with arthritis when she's older, but for now my Mars Bar (a.k.a. Marzipan, Marlee McFarlee, and Mars McFars) is the essence of glowing pug health.
My pretty little puglet.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


This Thursday, Burger King will debut their new bacon sundae: Vanilla soft serve with hot fudge and caramel, bacon crumbles, and a piece of bacon.

My reaction is the same as when my sister encouraged me to dip pizza in ranch dressing.  Yes, it's freaking delicious, but did I really need to know how to make an already-unhealthy food even worse?  SIGH.

Will I be ordering one of these dairy-pig delights?  Um, hell yeah.  And I hate myself for it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ode to Trader Joe's

I have a real love/hate relationship with Trader Joe's.  I've been a TJ's customer for about 20 years now, going way back to my early college days.
Love it for:
  • Excellent prices.  Truly, they're competitive with an average supermarket, and sometimes LESS expensive for a higher-quality item (like milk).
  • Yummy things I can't get elsewhere, like their house brand Ultra Chocolate Ice Cream.
  • Samples in little cups of things I might actually LIKE, unlike Costco, where sometimes I feel like they're just trying to use up crappy products by giving them away for free.
Hate it for:
  • The clientele.  UGH.  I can handle the sandals-wearing crunchy granola earthy types.  I got used to those while going to college in Berkeley, and they're harmless enough.  They get their organic quinoa salads, and I get my cut-rate smoked salmon.  Something for everyone.  What I simply can't abide are the hideously yuppified moms and their pampered (translation: overindulged and ill-behaved) Jayden/Kayden/Kylie/Mileys.  Blech.  The kids run all over the store, and the moms are oblivious (seriously, do they not notice that their offspring are climbing the produce bins, or are they just pretending?), since they're totally preoccupied by choosing the right brand of fat-free organic no-hormone string cheese for Riley/Regan/Karly's lunchbox.
  • Overkill.  Some of their food is way too overly-flavored for my taste.  I just plain don't want a chai-chipotle-curry-double-garlic ANYTHING.
  • Lack of parking.  Most times when I go, I have to do the parking lot shark thing, staking out a portion of one aisle and feeling like a great big stalker as I try to figure out which Prius each human/cart combo is headed to.
The "love it" factor really does outweigh the unpleasant stuff, though.  And, because I know that you, dear readers, think my taste exquisite, I give you:

Atomic Auntie's Current Fave Trader Joe's Stuff

Trader Joe's Gone Bananas! (One Bite at a Time!)
Pretty simple when you get right down to it.  Sliced nanners dipped in dark chocolate and frozen.  But my oh my oh my, they are DELICIOUS.  Bonus nutritional fact: Eating this counts as a serving of fruit!  Which means eating a whole box at once counts as SEVERAL servings of fruit!  I recently saw an online recipe that used these as the base for a banana split, and I'm definitely giving that a try next time I have an ice cream jones.

Trader Joe's Wild Mushroom & Black Truffle Flatbread
This one's a must-buy on each and every trip to TJ's.  It's fancy pizza, y'all!  Instead of sauce, it has finely chopped mushrooms and olive oil, and it's topped with mozzarella and more bits o' shrooms.  To die for.

Trader Joe's Unpasteurized Orange Juice
Remember in the olden days, when Odwalla juices were brand-new on the market and tasted really really good?  And then some little kid died because a batch of the unpasteurized juice had e. coli in it, and then they had to pasteurize it, and it stopped tasting good?  Well, experience those years of living dangerously once again with TJ's Unpasteurized Orange Juice!  Seriously, this stuff tastes like someone got up early and squeezed about 15 really ripe oranges into a glass for you, only you don't have to say "thank you" when they (inevitably) act all martyred about it.  It has just the right amount of pulp, and the flavor can't be beat.  That pasteurization process really kills the taste, apparently.  But if you're not into taking a gamble with your beverage bacteria, or if you're pregnant or under the age of 4 or so, TJ's U.O.J probably isn't for you.

Trader Joe's Organic Creamy Tomato Soup
Surprisingly low in fat, but still oh so creamy.  Not condensed, so no need to add water or milk.  Comes in a very convenient re-sealable cardboard box.  Just pour some in a bowl, microwave, and top with parmesan cheese (optional, but delicious!).  Mmmmmm.  Soup.

Villa Italia Italian Blood Orange Soda
This is "fancy" soda, for when you have company.  (Okay, okay, for when I have company, because things aren't really very fancy to begin with at Casa de Auntie.)  It looks pretty in a tall clear glass, with its weird semi-crimson blood orange color (according to the label, it's colored with black carrot -- whatever the frig a black carrot is).  It has just the right amount of fizz.  It pairs nicely with a shot of vodka.  And it tastes really good, kind of like a Jungle Julep (for anyone who went to Disneyland before the 1980s, and got that elixir of the gods at Sunkist, I Presume) crossed with a Sprite.  Benissimo!

Trader Joe's Edamame in Pod
The perfect TV-watching snack.  Tastes best when you get the cooks-in-5-minutes kind, but I'm not boiling water in the heat of summer.  The precooked is almost as good.

Trader Joe's Chocolate Covered Mini Pretzels (Dark)
This is the Donny and Marie of snacks: A little bit salty, a little bit sweet, and it all adds up to a real good time.

Trader Joe's Asparagus Risotto
I loves me some risotto.  And I especially love that this one heats up in minutes in the microwave, without all that stirring and adding liquid and, you know, cooking.  Special tip: You can totally pass this off as homemade if you put it in a casserole dish and take it to a potluck, as long as you have a little cash in your pocket or are willing to trade special favors with TJ's-savvy partygoers who try to out you.

This list isn't by any means comprehensive, considering that I can't seem to get out of Trader Joe's for less than $75.  Doesn't matter what I buy, either -- the total will be $75.  It's uncanny.  But these are pretty much my staples, the always-gotta-buy items that I like to have on hand at all times.  So if you're in town, stop on by Casa de Auntie sometime.  We're serving fancy soda and our special-recipe homemade risotto, and you can even join us for a round of Orange Juice Roulette (stomach pump optional).  Bon appetit!