A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: just the tip tuesdays (Page 1 of 2)

What is it about the restroom at Staples?


Happy Monday, everyone!

Read Me In the Powder Room!Big news: I’m moving my weekly column at InThePowderRoom.com to Mondays so I can get back to my roots and revive my favorite old feature: Just the Tip Tuesday. (Check back tomorrow for a kitchen/hygiene tip you won’t want to miss.)

In fact, I’ve been hard at work all weekend getting my old Just the Tip Tuesday articles all organized and purdy so you can more easily find your favorite tips or discover new ones you may have missed. Please check it out!

I also have a brand new page about advertising opportunities available at The Bearded Iris! I’ve been getting lots of great feedback about it…


@ @ I love it! Even your ad page is hysterical!!
Punch in the Throat

…so go give it a look-see and if you think my blog would be a good fit for marketing your business, go ahead and nab yourself some sidebar like Confessions of a Semi-Domesticated Mama and Your Doctor’s Wife did!

And now, for something totally different…

I’m In The Powder Room today discussing something poop-related. Surprised? I know. It’s so unlike me.

Yes, my youngest child seems to have developed a sick fascination with public restrooms, particularly those in mega office supply super stores like Staples. Good times.

Please tell me I’m not the only one.

See you over there, m’kay?


How to Cut Brownies

So you’ve been invited to a dinner party and the hostess has asked you to bring a dessert.

Don’t panic.

Even if baking is not your thing, you can pull this off with grace and dignity for a minimum amount of money or effort.

The answer is brownies.

Everyone loves ’em and it’s really hard to screw them up.

Just buy a box, follow the directions, and let them cool.

But don’t be a schmuck and turn a beautiful tray of brownies into this:

Yes, friends, that actually did happen to me once. Oh, the shame!

Listen, you have enough to worry about when you go to a friend’s house for dinner, like will your kids go crazy and break the hostess’s grandfather’s antique African kettle drum? Or will you have too many Margaritas and tell a story about how a mutual friend from high school took a dump on your mother’s car after you played a prank on him in 1987?

Hey, shit happens.

So make sure you don’t add to the drama with a mangled dessert.

A good dessert is your Get Out of Jail Free Card for all the other mistakes you may make during the evening.

And here’s the best part…you don’t need any special equipment.

Sure, we’ve all seen ads for the new brownie pan…

Save your money, Honey Bunny.

You can get the same results with a cheap plastic knife.

What? You don’t believe me?

Watch and learn, sweetie.

Here’s the before shot:

Mmmmm. Brownies.

Next, get your cheapo plastic disposable knife and cut the whole big brownie into two halves like so:

See how cleanly that plastic knife cuts? It’s a miracle!

Next, cut in half the other way so you have fourths. (Didn’t know you’d be getting a math lesson today, didja?)

Can you guess what’s next? Eighths!

I totally rock at fractions.

How to Cut Brownies by The Bearded Iris

See? How easy was that?! Plastic knife. Who knew?

You can take some vanilla ice cream with you and you have a perfectly simple and delicious dessert. Or go whole hog and bring choco-syrup and rainbow sprinkles too. The kids will go ape shit.

One last thing, brownies are really easy to jazz up if you want to make them fancy. My friend Anne adds peanut butter chips to her brownie batter: DELISH! No peanut butter chips in your pantry? You can also take spoonfuls of peanut butter, drop them onto the batter, and spread them out with a spatula before you bake the brownies. Fabulous!

If I’m feeling super fancy, I’ll substitute Kahlúa for the water in the basic boxed brownie recipe. The alcohol cooks off and you are left with a rich mocha flavor. Oooh la la!

So there you have it. Keep it sweet. Keep it simple. And keep it from not sucking. That’s my Just the Tip Tuesday secret for you.



© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

The Apple Genius Bar: BYOB (Bring Your Own Boobs)

Today’s Just the Tip Tuesday column is a variety of tips all related to the technical difficulties I’ve been experiencing lately.

1.) If you are a woman and need to go to the Apple Store Genius Bar, wear a low cut top and some lipstick. Go ahead and call me a sexist, but I tutored graduate level statistics at one of our nation’s top technology schools and I know a thing or two about a thing or two. Plain and simple, the field of technology is still dominated by men. In my personal experience, every single time I’ve been to the Apple Store in the past two years, I’ve been enthusiastically greeted at the door by a woman, but assisted with my technology troubles by a heterosexual male who definitely appreciated my extra effort and cleavage. Hey, like Penny from Dirty Dancing says, “Oh, come on, ladies. God wouldn’t have given you maracas if He didn’t want you to shake ’em.”

2.) And speaking of those eager male Apple Store employees, it is not a bad idea to rub some VICKS VapoRub onto your upper lip before you go, like forensic pathologists do when dealing with decomposing bodies. The dude who helped me today must be a black belt in Karate, ‘cuz damn, his breath was KICKIN’!

3.) If you must take three children with you into the Apple Store, it’s always a good idea to lay down some rules before you enter the mall. “Hands and feet to yourselves. Library voices. No running. If you break anything, it’s coming out of your savings. And do not bother me while I’m talking to the nice man unless you are bleeding out and cannot wait for life support.” If that’s not your bag, my other favorite strategy is to employ bribery in the form of “If you make good choices, we’ll stop for ice cream.” Up to you.

4.) Just like when you get pulled over for a speeding ticket, crying at the Apple Store Genius Bar is a crapshoot. But I say, it never hurts to try. (Again, speaking to the ladies here.) Worse case scenario, you blow a snot bubble and repel he techie with whom you’re working or someone there calls for a psych consult. But 9 times out of 10, these are really sweet, sometimes stinky guys who don’t want to see you lose 14,000 photos and rupture an artery. Tears may improve the odds of them trying one more supergeeky trick up their sleeve to recover your data. Just make sure you have a pocketpack of tissues with you (always) and waterproof mascara.

5.) Today I was told that on average, today’s hard drives only last three years. Allow me to repeat that for emphasis: THREE. FRICKIN’. YEARS. Or according to Clint at the Apple Store today, “If yer computer is more than 3 years old, yer livin’ on borrowed time!” In the past 18 months, I’ve been to the Apple Genius Bar twice for two different laptops and the verdict was the same both times: “Failed Hard Drive.” Is it a racket? You tell me. Oh sure, them parts be spinning hecka fast, it’s only natch’ral that they get worn out PDQ. But still. It’s not right. The moral of the story? Back up your shit, people, because our computers are designed to fail. It is a vicious cycle called “planned obsolescence.” If this makes you as mad as it makes me, you might want to spend 21 minutes watching this brilliant YouTube video called “The Story of Stuff.” It’s very thought provoking! Consider yourself warned.

This time, I am semi-lucky. I do have a backup of my 14,000 photos on a portable hard drive. The same portable hard drive I bought the very day my other MacBook died and I lost two and a half years worth of Flip videos of little Bucket Head as a baby. That really sucked. But I learned my lesson. Better late than never. How about you? Are you livin’ on borrowed time? What are you and your boobs doing about it?

technologically down but not out,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


Foot Care 101

Here’s something you might not know about me: I have nice feet.

In fact, my feet are definitely my favorite part of my body.

Wanna see?

You know you do.

Wait. Let me just pull them out of the sand first…

Iris has lovely feet. See? What did I tell you? Nice, eh?

Look at the pretty arch, the well balanced toes, the noticeable lack of any corns, bunions, calluses, or hammer toes. I love my feet.

My feet are SO nice, in fact, that I was even a bona fide foot model once! True story. One time a couple of years ago my friend Laura the photographer got a gig to take pictures for a local sandal company and she asked little ol’ ME to be her sandal model for the company’s new ad campaign.

Here’s the original picture that Laura took. Damn that girl has skills.

And save your wise cracks…it totally doesn’t bother me that my face is cropped out. I’m used to it. We all have to work with what the Good Lord gave us, right?

See what I mean?

So here’s Laura’s photo as it appeared on the sandal company’s website a couple years ago:

Pretty exciting, no?! I just did it as a favor for Laura… it was never supposed to be a career move for me or anything. She told me later that an enormous wall-sized poster of this image was displayed at the sandal company’s annual convention. If I had any idea that my body was going to be so popular I would have charged more than a pair of rubber sandals. Geez. Story of my life.

Anyhoooo, I bring this up because low and behold, about a month ago, one of my toenails just up and fell right off. It’s the little piggy that stayed home, not the one that went to market.

It was devastating.

Being a nice Catholish girl, I immediately assumed it was due to my excessive pride in my feet. What’s that bible verse about pride coming before a fall? Yeah. That one.

So I went to a podiatrist to find out what the heck is wrong with me. I was afraid it was a fungus and since flip flop weather was right around the corner, I certainly could not risk having toenails that look like BBQ Fritos.

And what with ads like this on the TV…

The Lamisil “Digger” Ad (totally gross, watch with caution)

I don’t need to tell you that I was completely freaking out! How effin’ gross is THAT?

But my lovely Caribbean podiatrist said in her breezy rhythmic accent: “No. It’s not a foooongus.  It’s from trooooma.”

Huh? “Trauma?”

“Yes, trooooma. Did you drop someting on your toe?”

“No. I don’t think so.”

“Did you stub it on someting?”

“No. I don’t think so.”

“It could be from your shoes. Sometimes nail trooooma occurs over time from eel-fitting shoes.” (ill-fitting)

OMG. That’s got to be it. My signature leopard pumps, perhaps? Shit.

I started having visions of having to wear shoes like this:

Oh. No. Sorry. Not going to happen. I’d rather gnaw both my feet off with my teeth than wear those things.

Instead, I decided to do some research and find out how to better care for my feet so I could avoid losing more toenails or having to wear orthopedic shoes. And since it’s Just the Tip Tuesday, I’m going to share my new knowledge with you, dear readers.

Feet are very important and complex body parts. I’m not a podiatrist, so if you have serious foot problems, please seek professional advice. But if you are just interested in some basic foot-care tips, stay with me. Unless you are a podophile, then please leave.

First of all, each of your feet contain about 250,000 sweat glands, which can produce as much as 1 pint of moisture as water vapor per day. Holy CRAP. Who knew?

Now, listen. Just because you own a pair of state-of-the-art SmartWool socks that are designed to be temperature regulating, moisture absorbing, and antimicrobial, doesn’t mean you don’t have to change your socks everyday. Duh. Change your socks, dumbass. Every day. Wash those mofos. Dirty socks can lead to fungal growth. Ewwww.

And don’t just wash your sweaty socks, wash your feet daily with soap and water too. That dried sweat is bacteria’s favorite food. Did you know that food odor is merely the excrement of the sweat-eating-bacteria? Yep. How nasty is that?! It’s not the sweat that smells, it is the bacteria’s POOP. I said POOP, people. Are you listening? Daily foot washings will remove that stinky bacteria poop and the bacteria that poops it. Wash your feet!

Keep your toenails trimmed, and trim them straight across, never rounded, to avoid ingrown toenails. Also, neatly trimmed toenails are less likely to rub up against the front of your shoes and cause troooooma to the nail bed. So this look is definitely out:

And for more than just the crazy length. Damn. How does that bitch even walk? And just so we’re clear, basic care FIRST, decorate SECOND. I mean really. You wouldn’t paint your house if the siding was warped; you’d fix the siding first. Same with your toes. Gaw.

Wow. Just. Wow. Sorry about that.

But speaking of which… my Caribbean podiatrist says we should give our tootsies a break from nail polish now and then.  The nail beds can’t breathe when they are covered in paint or lacquer. She says the winter is a good time to take a break. Remember that next winter, okay? Or for my Aussie and Peruvian friends, remember that now.

And lastly, did you know that most foot ailments are due to neglect and abuse? According to the APMA (The American Podiatric Medical Association), shoes that do not fit can cause bunions, corns, calluses, hammertoes and other disabling foot disorders. So don your F-Me Heels in moderation and alternate them with something more comfortable and supportive. Your feet will thank you, and so will your friends and family who have to look at those barking dogs all summer long.

very humbly yours,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris

Doggone Good Advice

In exactly 24 hours I’ll be reunited with my faithful friend Ike upon the completion of his 10 day quarantine. If I have a film crew with me (i.e., a child holding my iPhone), we will edit the reunion sequence to include a slow motion run toward each other followed by an obscene amount of licking and crotch sniffing (hopefully done by the dog and not by me), all to the tune of Reunited and it feels so good… by Peaches and Herb. It’s a wonder I’m not a famous director, really it is.

So for Just the Tip Tuesday, in honor of my canine companion and his extreme sacrifice to protect his family, I’d like to share something about dogs today. This is one of those things that gets forwarded over and over through email, so you may have seen it before. I printed it out years ago after one of the many dog lovers in my life forwarded it to me. I loved it then, I love it even more today. Even if you are not a dog lover, pay attention… this is full of life tips we can all enjoy. Sadly, I do not know who the original author is; if you do, please let me know so I can give proper credit.

Things We Can Learn from a Dog

1. Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride.

2. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

3. When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

4. When it’s in your best interest, always practice obedience.

5. Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.

6. Take naps and always stretch before rising.

7. Run, romp, and play daily.

8. Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.

9. Be loyal.

10. Never pretend to be something you’re not.

11. If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

12. When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

13. Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

14. Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

15. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

16. On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

17. When you are happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

18. No matter how often you are criticized, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout. Run right back and make friends.

Wagging with loyal anticipation,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Here’s how we do apple slices…

One of my kids is a picky eater. I hate that about him. I really do. I find it to be a truly vile character trait.

Before kids (B.K.), I was the kind of gal who always said: “If I ever have a kid who won’t eat what I put in front of him, he can just go hungry, dammit!”


What an ass. {me, not the kid}

I also used to judge my friends with kids and think to myself, how can anyone let the inside of their car smell like that?! And, why don’t they just teach their kids to not wipe their boogers on the walls?

What a bitch. {me, not the friends}

So here I am, umpteen years later with three of my very own stinky, booger wiping, picky-eater kids. Serves me right, I say. I truly hope my older friends are enjoying the irony. They’re off playing golf and taking art classes now while their kids are in college, and I’m stuck at home with a 4 year old. And will be for the next, oh, about 14 years. Good times.

I bring this up because as the mother of a picky-eater, I have had some tough choices to make. This kid (Nature Boy, the 11 year old) does not eat most fruits. The ONLY fruit he will touch with a ten foot pole is a Granny Smith apple. Period. And it has to be fresh. No apple sauce, no apple pie, no apple leather.

Some mothers might tell their picky child to stick it. I would, truly I would, but you see, this same child had some pretty awful constipation issues when he was about 4 years old which led to some pretty awful bowel problems for a while there. So I would do anything to get this kid to eat fruit. And if that means preparing his ONE fruit the ONE way he’ll eat it, then by-golly I’ll do it and I’ll do it with a f#cking smile on my face.

And that’s what I’m here to tell you today, this Tuesday, for my weekly Just the Tip Tuesday feature. Today we are talking about apples.

I have a way of cutting an apple, just so, and naturally preserving it so it won’t turn brown and icky by the time my kids are ready for snack or lunch at school.

And no, it’s not lemon juice, although that works too. My tip is much cheaper.

The secret ingredient is salt. Kosher salt, to be exact.

But first, we have to wash the apple.

I am always surprised to learn that some people don’t wash their produce. Even if you buy organic stuff, don’t forget how many hands have probably touched that produce. Dirty hands. Hands with poop on them. Poop, I say.

Now listen, I’m not a germophobe in general. I don’t wear a travel-sized bottle of Purell around my neck or anything. But I am afraid of poop. Poop is gross. I don’t want poop on or near my food. I’m also afraid of pesticides. Ever since Mini-Me started developing breast buds at the tender age of 8, I’ve been extra freaky-deaky about the chemicals in our house.

So I wash my produce. And I don’t just wipe it on my sleeve or run it quickly under water. I actually wash it.

Here’s what I use:

Look at naughty Ike back there cruisin’ for some leftovers. “Oooh, she pulled out the camera. Now’s my chance!”

The Veggie Wash on the left is in a spray bottle. I use that for things like grapes, broccoli, kale, etc. The glass jar on the right is a cheese-shaker filled with baking soda. I sprinkle that on waxy fruit like apples and then rub it with a little water to remove the dirt, wax, and pesticides. Go ahead, call me names. I’m rubber, you’re glue…

Now it’s time to cut the apple.

Do you have certain things you do for your kids that they’ve grown accustomed to and expect? That’s how mine are with apples. They like their apples cut “Mommy’s way.” I have totally ruined them, I know. Here’s what Mommy’s Way looks like:

I make four cuts around the core, giving me four big pieces to work with:

Then I very methodically cut each of those four pieces into 1/4″ slices while muttering things like “I’m an excellent driver,” and “Three minutes ’till Wapner.”

Here’s what it looks like when I’m all done cutting…

I never actually line them up like this… I’m just trying to be fancy for the camera. And yes, I do have one of those stainless steel apple cutters. I hate it. It’s too hard to use and I’m always afraid I’m going to cut off a finger.

Next, I scoop them all up into a bowl and sprinkle a big ol’ pinch of kosher salt on them:

Then I fill the bowl with water and let them soak for a few minutes.

Lastly, I pull the apples out and set them on a clean towel to absorb the extra water.

And that’s it. The apples will taste a little salty, but in a good way. It’s actually a nice sweet/sour/salty combo. We like it!

The salt will naturally preserve the apple slices for the whole day. To be honest, I’ve eaten bags of apple slices found in the bottom of my purse two or three days later and they were totally fine.

One more thing… my friend Mama Cloud talked me into buying a bunch of these Snack Taxis last fall and I’m so glad she did. I love these things!

They come in the cutest patterns and two different sizes for sandwiches and snacks. I bought one big and one small for each person in the family and we all use them everyday! It’s nice to not send so many plastic baggies to the landfill. Group hug!


While I was writing this, Bucket Head came running into my office to tell me that Ike stole his apple slices.

I went to investigate, and this is what I found:

…a wet Snack Taxi, filled with…

…partially masticated salt-preserved apple nibblets. Damn dog.

Well as you can see, it is never a dull moment around here… for me. But you deserve better. You really do. Hey, you know what, bonus points for reading this boring post all the way through. To reward you, I’ll going to send you over to my friend Mid 30’s Life. She wrote the funniest thing today about vaginas. Go read it and tell her The Bearded Iris sent’cha.

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

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