Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Better Best-of

Great series at The Onion: critics talk about the best non-2010 movies/music/books they discovered in 2010.

Part one: music
Part two: etc.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Run, Don't Walk

photo via Nicolas Genin
The King's Speech is every bit as wonderful as you were hoping it would be.  Colin Firth, OMG.  (Is that an order of knighthood?  It should be.)  I know the movie isn't playing everywhere, but if I were even within two hours of a theater (MOM) I would rush to see it.

FYI: It was showing on two screens at the theater I went to, and all showings were selling out. I think it's going to break records for per-screen average revenues.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Worst Christmas Movies Ever

Why yes, I am watching Santa Buddies; why do you ask?

I think the gold medal for Worst Christmas Movie of All Time goes without debate to Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.  All persons involved with that movie should be set loose in the forest and hunted down as animals by a party of angry parents. 

Santa Buddies earned its spot on the list, too.  [Papi tried to convince Becca that the real name of the movie is Santa CLAWS and at the end the dogs kill and eat all the people.  Yeah, I don't know why our kids are so weird.]

And that's without mentioning anything from the Hallmark Channel or Lifetime (which Papi should also be allowed to rewrite).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Let the Lists Begin!

'Tis the season for Best-of-2010 lists. Here's Urban Dictionary's (NSFW, for those of you still at work this week).

No doubt gate rape earned the top spot, but double rainbow will always have a place in my heart.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Vesicoureteral Reflux and other holiday fun

picture via I Heart Guts
Becca had surgery on Friday to correct reflux in her ureters.  The reflux had been responsible for multiple UTIs and kidney damage (she's down to 25% function in one kidney). We've known about the problem since late in the summer, and we knew the surgery was coming up, so it wasn't an emergency or anything. The surgery involved cutting through her bladder, detaching her ureters and reattaching them at a better angle. Oy.

Anyway, the kid is doing better now.  We were able to come home Saturday afternoon, and the wound dressing came off today.  She's hurting a little, but she'll be okay.

My mom took this picture right after we were put in a room on Friday following surgery.  Becca is holding on to the remote so no one can change the channel while she naps.  About two minutes after the photo was taken, she woke up and said, "I want to change into a cuter nightgown."  She has been absolutely showered with "get-well" presents.  Twice she has asked, "Why are you being so nice to me?"  Don't get used to it, kid.

My friends are taking care of us, too.  They're bringing dinner over, and some of them got together to make a get-well Advent calendar, with a different activity to open and play with everyday.  How awesome is that?  I mean, words really fail me.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What mamacita is...

I recorded this a while back, but it's still airing through December.  Love me some Fran Lebowitz. You might also like to know that Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking is coming to HBO this month, too.  These were perhaps not the most obvious choices for HBO to fill the void left by Kenny F. Powers, but I'm happy.

Listening to
Target has 14 Christmas songs available for (free) download on their site, in case you were looking for some new Yuletide jams. 

Amazon is also releasing one free Christmas MP3 per day all month long.  My favorite so far is Fleet Foxes'.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I thought I posted about this last year, but evidently not.  American Science & Surplus (yes, A.S.S. har) has all kinds of cool stuff.  I love getting Christmas presents for the kids from them.  Last year Santa brought E&B a laser pointer, a pocket microscope, and shrinky dink film.  This year in the sleigh (so far) are a 3D drawing pad (complete with glasses), a can crusher, a 10' long sheet of adhesive dry erase board, a bag of rocks for experiments, and a simple telescope.  They also have marshmallow guns, potato guns, robot parts, hexabugs, gyroscopes, and all manner of tubes, bearings, wiring and gas masks.  And French riot helmets!  Hydraulic cylinders!  Solar-powered flashlights!  So much fun stuff you'll have a hard time choosing.

Not a paid review or anything; just passing along the info.


Bethle-may-hem, originally uploaded by houston mamacita.

Dateline: Bethlehem. All hell broke loose when the manger was attacked by kamikaze paper airplanes...

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Gift from Mer

Mer sent me a link to this handy list of tv holiday specials.  Thanks, Mer!

P.S.: Apropos of Babble's obsession with Angelina Jolie -- a fascination I do not understand -- I am watching a trailer/interview ad for The Tourist right now, with A.J. and Johnny Depp.  I'd love to see the movie for the scenery, but I don't think I could take Johnny Depp's Let's-Pretend-I'm-Not-From-Kentucky accent for very long.  Also, he just described A.J. as "a walking poem," and then immediately described Venice as "poetry at every turn."  Gag me with a chainsaw.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What mamacita is...

Oh, haaaaay.  Did you know I had a blog?  Because I kinda forgot.


I liked this much more than I thought I would.  It's a good thing to watch (late) on Sunday nights to keep the existential doom at bay.  Can't decide if I like Jason Schwartzman in it, but Zach Galifanakis is funny in a subdued way, and Ted Danson, y'all! 

I'm not proud.  Pretty much what you'd expect: superlative bimbos.

My favorite is Josie Stevens.  I have no idea who her husband, Steve Stevens, is, but Josie has "worked on Cinemax film projects."  
photo via E!Online 

Decorno posted three times yesterday.  Shhh!  Don't startle her or she might not post any more.  But doesn't she look nice in this outfit? 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What Santa and Scrooge Can Agree On

photo: Wikipedia
Firefox/Chrome nerdiness ahead:

The Camelizer is my new favorite Firefox extension.*  You can use it to track price changes in items at Amazon.  Let's say, for example, that you are interested in purchasing one Rapunzel Fairytale Tower.  You need it in time for Christmas, but you still have a little time to wait for the best price.  With CamelCamelCamel** you can 1) see the price history of the item, and 2) sign up to receive an email notice when the price drops by a certain amount or percent (you set the parameters).   You could also use it for mundane things like diapers: take advantage of sales by pouncing when the price drops below a certain level.  Cool, huh?   

An even cooler feature with CamelCamelCamel is that you can import your entire Amazon wish list to the site and track price changes for all of the items on it.  The people behind CamelCamelCamel also have extensions that work for Back Country, Best Buy, New Egg and zZounds.

*There is a Chrome extension, too, but I haven't tried it.  Much as I wanted to like Chrome, my Firefox is so pimped out that I just couldn't make the switch.

**If you don't want to download The Camelizer as an extension, you can still go through their website for the same services.

FYI: These sites are all free to use, and I'm not getting paid to use or blog about them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Danny McBride movie!

The internet was all excited about some .gif with Natalie Portman's butt today.  [Least exciting butt EVER.]  Anyway, it's in the new Danny McBride movie!  This is going to be awesome.  And awesomely NSFW.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More than a Room Mom; Be a Room NINJA

My friend Cayce just found this, and it is genius: an online sign-up sheet.  Click on that bad boy to see it in its full glory.  Never again have five versions of Taco Soup at your soup swap!  Never again chase down parents to paint faces at the fall festival!  And I think my favorite part is that you don't have to log-in or even register in order to use it.  

Yo, it's a free service; nobody's getting paid to pimp it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Funeral Food

My grandmother passed away last Thursday.  She hadn't been well, and I'm glad she's not suffering any more.  Of course, I still miss her very much.  She was a great lady.

The funeral was yesterday afternoon, and all weekend long people brought food over to my parents' house.  My Lord how we ate.  Ham, potato salad, fried chicken, heros, ham, rolls, cole slaw, pork roast, ham, gumbo, smoked chicken (OMG so good), meatballs, ham, chili, pasta, dirty rice (the best I've ever had) ... not to mention chocolate cake, brownies, molasses cookies, tea cakes, hummingbird cake, pumpkin spice cake...  If grief can be cured with food, or even just ham, we are well on our way.

Friday, November 5, 2010

My New Chili Recipe

[Posted in response to Sarah, with apologies in advice: this turned out to be a damn dissertation.]

Usually I'm put off by bloggers who post recipes saying, "OMG this thing I made was the best thing EVER!"  So I won't claim that this chili was spectacular, but I can tell you that I tried a new method this year and was pretty encouraged by the results.

I had always used ground beef for chili, because that's what my mom used, because that's really the easiest thing.  But lately I've converted to the Church of Chunked Beef, and I'm not looking back.  I also added a secret ingredient this year, which will be revealed below.

Since you didn't ask: I am unfamiliar with the use of any kind of produce in the making of chili.  Fresh onions, tomatoes, etc. have no place here.  And I will not even discuss beans.  If you want to move to Russia and pledge allegiance to Stalin, that's your business.

So yeah, the recipe:
2 lbs. pot roast (i.e. chuck roast)
1/2 cup chili powder
4 tsp. cumin
1 Tablespoon dried onion
2 tsp. paprika 
1 tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
one (3.3 oz) tablet of Ibarra hot chocolate, grated
1.5 cups beer
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup tap water
2 Tablespoons masa harina*
1/2 cup hot water

Cut the roast into 1-inch pieces and put these in a Dutch oven.  Add the spices (including the chocolate) and toss to coat the beef.  Brown the meat (in batches, if needed), then add the beer, tomato sauce and tap water. Cook this for a looooong time, at a looooow temperature.  [If you have one of those crockpots that you can use to saute on the stovetop, more power to you.]  I cooked mine in the oven at 200 degrees for about 9 hours.

20 minutes before you're ready to serve, heat up the 1/2 cup of water, and add the masa to it, whisking vigorously with a fork.  Add this masa mixture to the chili.  While you're there, you might want to shred the meat a bit; that's how I like mine.  Let the chili cook a little while longer.  Then it's done.

*I have heard that, if you don't have any masa handy, you can just pop in a corn tortilla and leave it in the chili for the last bit of cooking.  I've never tried that, but it sounds reasonable.

Since I was serving kids and adults at the party, I split the difference between queso and Frito pie:  I set out the chili along with Fritos, tortilla chips and Ro-Tel dip (and of course sour cream).  I can't see how Ro-Tel dip is not an improvement on grated Longhorn cheddar cheese in this application, especially since the latter tends to get tacky when it's left out on the buffet.  But if you feel differently, knock yourself out.

And since you also didn't ask: if I'm just making chili for dinner at home, I skip all those other accoutrements and eat it with white rice and Saltines.  I'm not at all clear on the evolution of that particular combo, but I promise it's how lots of people eat it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dog and Beth

My parents' Halloween costumes.  You should know that 1) my dad is an engineer, and 2) my mom has never worn nail polish, ever, in her entire life.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sick Day Cinema

I'm home with a sore throat.  Yesterday I watched Gangs of New York.  I've wanted to see it since at least a year before it came out; the history of New York is one of my little mental hobbies.  But, yeah, GORY.  I only saw about half of it; the other half I watched from behind my hands.  Not ideal sick-day viewing.  [Still, holy cow, Daniel Day-Lewis is something else, isn't he?]

Today I was looking for an old black-and-white comedy, possibly with William Powell.  Ta-da: My Man Godfrey.  Now that's more like it.

public domain

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wait, Daddy, don't kill that hog yet!

Our buddy Mir tells us that all orders at Piperlime today earn a $25 gift certificate, in honor of Piperlime's anniversary.  Oh, and use the promo code TREAT4U for an extra 10% off.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pinata Fail :-(

Pinata Fail :-(, originally uploaded by houston mamacita.

I tried to move the pumpkin pinata and the whole outer layer came off in a sheet.

Mallory's Clothes

See every outfit Mallory wore during the seven-year run of Family Ties.  1) The clothes are gorgeous, and 2) the comments are awesome.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Apropos of nothing...

Here's Chris Elliot as Skink the Bounty Hunter. (6:34)

It's Tuesday.  Slow down with that "productivity" business already.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Houston Bulb and Plant Mart

The Garden Club of Houston is having their annual Bulb and Plant Mart. Got lots of good stuff -- a Republic of Texas orange tree for Aunt Winnie, a Pink Salt Marsh Mallow for mom, a Dobashi Beni satsuma for me, plus plenty of amaryllis and paperwhites for the holidays.

Some bitch in front of me got the last key lime tree, though. If it weren't for the presence of so many tortoiseshell headbands I would've cut her.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pardon me, do you have any WTF?

In all honesty, I can be convinced of a lot of ... alternative theories.  I read my horoscope sometimes; I definitely believe in feng shui; I'd probably go to a tarot card reader (if you went with me); and I would even visit an herberia but I don't really speak Voodoo Spanish.  So anyway, my point is, I'm willing to at least try and believe.

And there is this blogger I really like named Jules.  She had a guest post here about her favorite "crazy hippie" foods like Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar, which I like, and coconut vinegar, which is certainly intriguing.  And then she talked smack about microwave popcorn, which I can understand, because that stuff in the bags leaves a weird film in your mouth, and that ... probably is not something food should do, I think.  

But in the comments of that post she revealed that she has an objection to using the microwave for anything because it "changes the structure of the food."  And here's where I say, "Wait... what?"  What does that mean that it "changes the structure of the food?"  

I am a dunce who never even took chemistry.  My baby sister took pity on me 4-5 years ago and finally explained the difference between a physical change and a chemical change.  [I distinctly remember missing that on a test, but I never found out what the right answer was.]  And Uncle John still does not believe that I don't know what a meniscus is in measuring, but I swear I don't know what he's talking about.  As far as I know, a meniscus is a kneecap, and a mole is an adventurous little creature from that charming book by Mr Grahame.

So it's possible that microwaving "changes the structure of the food" in a bad way, as opposed to just, you know, making it hot.  That would be a tremendous disappointment to me, because I loooove my microwave almost as much as I love my slow cooker.  Which is to say, far more than I love either of my children, with air conditioning following just behind.

I mean, just think of all the wonderful things the microwave can do for you.  I would personally dedicate three cubic feet of kitchen space to a chocolate melter alone, but the microwave does so much more.  Water for tea!  Popcorn -- the real kind! Bacon! Oatmeal! Crudites! Leftover soup! Potatoes for mashing! Rice! Pasta!  [Hell yes, that thing works.]

So please tell me I can keep it.  How much of this "structure changing" is just normal, and do I really need to sweat this?  It sounds kinda bogus, but Jules is 100X smarter than I am, so I'm willing to believe.  It's not going to make the children any more addled, is it? Anyone?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Totally Urgent Nail Poilsh News

home row, yo, originally uploaded by houston mamacita.
I tried this nail polish, and I like the color. Sometimes it looks brown, sometimes gray. You know, greige. It's by Essie and it's called Merino Cool. Men seem to hate it, which is a sure sign of its coolness.

And no, I can't straighten my middle finger. It's crooked like that all the time.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ahoy, Y'all

I do hope you've had a beauty of a day on Talk Like a Pirate Day.  We celebrated, as ever, with a piping hot bowl of Pirate Pasta.  

Pirate Pasta  has been a favorite of the wee mateys ever since my friend Angela told me about it.  It's one of the two things they actually request for dinner (the other is Chicken Milanese). It's called Pirate Pasta because it combines small meatballs (cannonballs!) with penne (spyglasses!) and marinara sauce* (uh ... marines!).

*Okay, nitpickers, it's not technically marinara sauce if there is meat in it.  But you put it together as a marinara, then add meat to it ... whatever WALK THE PLANK.

Pirate Pasta

In a big bowl combine ground turkey and Italian sausage.  Add an egg and/or dry breadcrumbs to hold it all together.  Oh, and you'll need salt and pepper and what not.  So mix all that together with your hands and form small meatballs.  I make these in big batches and freeze them for use as necessary; if you're using them on the same day, you should at least give them an hour or so in the fridge to set up.

When the time comes, you will want to brown the meatballs in a pan without cooking them all the way through. 

I usually make marinara in a crock pot.  Turn up the heat in an empty crockpot to high and let the crock heat for a couple of minutes.  Add olive oil and let that heat for a minute or two.  Add about 1/2 of an onion, finely chopped and 2-3 cloves finely chopped garlic.  Let those heat for a minute and add a small can of tomato paste.  Stir around the tomato paste to heat it up, and you're almost there.  Add a can of tomato sauce and a can of diced tomatoes in their juices.  If you have a carrot in the fridge and no other plans for it, you could grate it and add it to the sauce for a little sweetness.  In any case, cover the crock pot and cook for at least a couple of hours.

Boil water, add salt and make some penne according to package directions, except take them off the heat a good two minutes ahead of time.  They're going to finish cooking with the rest of the ingredients.  You might want to reserve some naked penne (and finish cooking them), just in case any of the scurvy lads at the table decides not to eat anything that has touched a vegetable.

When everyone starts agitating for dinner, you should put all this stuff together.  Ideally, it's cold enough outside that you can turn on the oven to, say, 350.  Add the penne to the meatballs and marinara.  Put the whole mess into a pan (esp. this brownie pan with all the curves).  Sprinkle the top with mozzarella and a bit of Parmesan.  Bake uncovered at 350 until it's all bubbly and yummy-looking.  Don't go far--we're talking about 15 minutes or so.

When it's hot outside and you're still running the AC, you have to do all that last part in a regular pan in the microwave, which is definitely inferior.  But, you know, it's better than a sharp stick in the eye.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

This is probably the most productive use of your time today.

Amazon is running a contest for Best (Magazine) Covers of the Year.  You get to vote in several categories; you're eligible to win a Kindle just for voting.  There was some good competition, but I think that one above is my favorite entry.  [Yes, it's three covers.  I didn't make the rules, y'all.]

Monday, September 13, 2010

Double Rainbows on the Highway

My heart is cold and small, but even I was unable to resist the double rainbows on Hwy. 290 yesterday afternoon. Living in the flatlands means that you sometimes get to see the two endpoints of the rainbow. No leprechaun sightings, though.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Things You Need to be Told

#458  You can wear that sassy little romper to the PTA meeting, but you should know that you will be called "Romper" behind your back until your child graduates from college.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lemons into Lemonade; Stumps into Sculptures

In September of 2008, Hurricane Ike destroyed 40,000 trees in Galveston. The Island Tree Conservancy, instead of having everyone grind down the tree stumps, had them turned into tree sculptures. I'm sure they look better in person, but here are some photos that came to me via email.

These two are from flickr:

Monday, August 30, 2010

Vote Mamacita!

Today is my 35th birthday. I'd like to take this opportunity to announce my candidacy for President of the United States.  Don't worry, there's a cabinet position for all of you who contribute big bucks to my campaign.

So here are my qualifications: 
1. My hair can get very big!  
2.  I completed a semester of law school!  
3.  I can practically see Mexico from my yard!

As for my platform, I'm still taking suggestions. Leave yours in the comments.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What mamacita is...

Oh wow, this was great.  I think Papi & I liked it even more than the kids.  Giant booger monsters notwithstanding.

Okay, I saw Robb Reiner on the cast, and I thought this was a sequel to Spinal Tap.  Because I am an idiot.  Anyway, it's not bad.  It's a documentary about a heavy metal band that never quite hit it big.  So it was a bit of a downer.

Dear Starz Network -- 
I think you need a refresher course on the definition of "comedy."  For further reference, please see Caddyshack.   
Yours, Mamacita

Images via Wikipedia

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Graham Parker & The Rumour

So I read a blog post that made me want to watch this video, and it raised two important questions:

1. Does Craig Finn know that Graham Parker went back in time and stole his singing style?

2. Why don't more bassists wear white satin suits?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What mamacita is...

image via Wikipedia
Pretty good. Loved the scenery.  A little unfocused; also kinda hot.  Also: Lisa Eisner cameo!  Love her.

image via
Hilarious.  Can't believe I'm watching Adult Swim.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


This just might be the best application of smartphone technology ever: Michael Ruhlman has turned his book, Ratio, into an app.  It's five whole bucks, but Lordy, how useful.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Auction Action

How awesome would this look in your house?
My Aunt Winnie sent me this: The Texas Silver-Haired Legislature (an advocacy group for old folks) is having a charity auction.  Items up for bids include a heavy duty truck bed, golf for 4 at Willie's golf course, and a feral hog hunt.  For real, check it out.  Some of the good stuff is already gone, so you better get on that javelina hunt. 

Photo via Two Racks Taxidermy, under Creative Commons license.

Monday, August 16, 2010


It tastes like butt.  Am I doing something wrong?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Creole Corn Chowder

I made this the other day and thought it turned out well.  It's still, obviously, too hot to cook, but I made it at night, then put it in the fridge and reheated it for lunch.

Creole Corn Chowder

6 slices bacon, diced
1 c diced onion
1 c diced green bell pepper
1 c diced red bell pepper
1 c diced ham
2 c corn
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, with juice
1/2 t oregano (dried)
1/2 t basil (dried)
1/2 t thyme (dried)
1 t crushed red pepper
1/2 t black pepper
1 c milk
2 T flour
2 T oil
1 c half-and-half

Saute bacon in heavy pan until crisp.  Add onion and bell peppers; cook until limp.  Add ham, corn, tomatoes, tomato juice and seasonings.  Simmer 30 minutes.  Make a roux with the flour and oil in a saucepan.  Add roux to corn mixture and mix well.  Bring milk to boil in the microwave (or a saucepan).  Add milk to soup.  Simmer 15-20 minutes.  When ready to serve, add half-and-half and cook until hot.  Serves 6.  Serve with boiled lobster or any fish entree.*

Adapted from Pure & Simple: An InCircle Cookbook by Neiman Marcus 

*Yes, you totally should.  And you should invite me. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What mamacita is...


I had a lot to say about it, then I realized I sounded like a pretentious twit.  Even more than usual.

But can we discuss how gorgeous this interior is?  
Terracotta walls, pink ombre pillow, bottle green couch ... swoon.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Affirmation by Kanye

These two guys match up Kanye West's tweets to New Yorker cartoons. Thought you might need some inspiration this morning.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I look like Paulie Walnuts today.

Time to get my hair did.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Umbrella Man

photo via
Umbrella Man is four guys: a standing bassist/ lead singer; a drummer with nothing but a snare, a bass drum and a couple of high-hats; a dude on squeeze box; and a guy on pedal steel.  Could you even invent a better setup?  [I didn't realize until just now that the bassist sometimes plays for Billy Joe Shaver.  Holy cow.]

We went to see them at the Continental Club the other night for Sophia's bday.  She's been going on about them for months, and we finally got to see them put on SUCH a great show.  Sadly, no amount of liquor improves my dancing, but I had a lot of fun anyway.

The guys had a CD for sale, but it doesn't really give you any idea how great their show was.  They told us they're going to release a "Live at the Continental" CD sometime, so I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Better than a Swatch

Good news, Uncle John -- your calculator watch is cool again!

Timex has an 80's throwback watch site called Timex80.  My favorites are the ones you can customize.

via The Preppy Princess

images via Timex