Monday, December 31, 2007
On a nicer note, my new desk faces my backyard, currently covered with beautiful snow, the light kind that looks like someone sugared the tree branches. I do love it.
Happy New Year, people! Have fun and be safe.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Right now I could not feel happier: I have my fleece pants on, I have a blanket wrapped around me...and right next to me on the couch doing her nails and watching Law and Order: CI is Scarlet Lily! She and her nice fiance, her mother, and her brother all came in for the Bills-Giants game and current bad weather has forced them to stay another night. Yay! She also brought us some of her delicious "twelve days" cookies: the lusikkailevat ones. Make them immediately! They all went to the game and I had choir practice singing unto the Lord, as DH says.
I have nothing terribly exciting to report: It's the Christmas season, we've got the great Christmas Road Trip ahead, and all my shopping is done, which never happens with me. I'm sure I'll have more to report soon. In the meantime, here's a website to try: www.freerice.com, a site to practice vocabulary and donate rice to the UN. It's the season of giving, right?
Happy holidays and Merry Christmas if you celebrate it!
(it was freezing, pouring rain, and windy as all hell)
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
In celebration of coming home to a warm house, I made cookies from Cooking Light which also count as 1 point each on Weight Watchers. They are YUM and will sit for a short while in our gorgeous cookie jar we received as a wedding present from Ouiser and fam. Consider it my contribution to the 12 Days of Cookies that ol' Scarlet's putting together.
Ooh, also tried Billy Blanks Tae Bo today. That guy is nuts, but I certainly got my workout. What I loved was the equally overenthused chick who militantly counted out each set and would randomly yell out, "YEAH!" during the workout.
Here's the cookie recipe:
Brown Sugar and Spice Cookies
PreparationPreheat oven to 350°.
To prepare cookies, combine 1/3 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg; beat well. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, baking powder, and next 4 ingredients (through 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg) in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed until well blended.
Shape the dough into 30 balls [a little bigger than a large gumball]. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray; flatten cookies with bottom of a glass.
To prepare topping, combine 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, dash of nutmeg, and allspice in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over cookies.
Bake at 350° for 9 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on pans. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.
Yield: 30 servings (serving size: 1 cookie)
Nutritional InformationCALORIES 64(32% from fat); FAT 2.3g (sat 1.3g,mono 0.6g,poly 0.1g); PROTEIN 1g; CHOLESTEROL 12mg; CALCIUM 10mg; SODIUM 46mg; FIBER 0.3g; IRON 0.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 10.1g
Yes, I came home yesterday to a chilly house for the second time in less than a month. Last time occurred right before Thanksgiving and we almost had to switch to my mom's house, but the furnace people got it jerry-rigged and working in time for Turkey. This time it was the same problem, but instead of it being 50 degrees outside, it's a balmy 30 degrees with 45mph winds. For those who do not have to deal with this, that means wind chill, a lovely little addition. Wheeee.
Long story short, our furnace came over on the ark with Noah. The thing's 40 years old and rotted out in the bottom where the furnace man needed to fix the blower motor. Plus he didn't have parts for our ancient appliance, small wonder. So we've got it running thanks to the magic, intuition, and experience of the fantastic heater man, but it boils down to one point: We now have to buy a new furnace right before winter, when prices run highest. I could complain about how if the previous owners had done a little more maintenance this would not have happened (true story), but the fact remains that we wanted a high-efficiency furnace anyway to save on bills and whatnot.
So, Scarlet Lily, when you and your fam come to visit in a few short weeks, trust that the house will have heat one way or another; no snuggling together for warmth will have to ensue...but maybe we will just for fun and happiness to see each other. Plus the fireplace works.
Stay warm, people!
P.S. Watched A Charlie Brown Christmas last night, which warmed my heart as well!
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
1) I brined the turkey for about six hours beforehand. I really didn't need to do it overnight; just in the morning when I got up. Mind you, we didn't eat until 6:30, so it worked out.
Lesson Learned: When you brine a turkey in a garbage bag, a) double-bag it, b) do all of this out in the garage so when the bags do inevitably leak, your briny water doesn't go anywhere that needs cleaning up.
2) I accidentally (or was it on purpose? Hmmmm????) cooked the turkey upside down for the first hour. Whoops. However, I am convinced that this gave the turkey its extra juiciness. Plus my mom told me Cooks magazine suggests doing this, so perhaps I'm just a genius cook and I don't even know it. Probably not, but who the hell cares?
Lesson Learned: Some mistakes become serendipitous.
I just got a Basic Roast Turkey recipe from my bible, Real Simple (see link on my page) and added a few of Toddler Tamer's touches, including squeezing a fresh orange all over the turkey and then slathering the whole thing with melted butter. I also cut up a few oranges and lemons and stuffed the turkey with those. Although it took longer to cook than I'd thought, it turned out great. Oh, and everyone seemed to like Giata's corn muffin recipe I used, so let me know if you want it. Frankly, I think they needed some Splenda, but that's easy to fix.
We really did have a lovely afternoon with good food, good folks, and good fun. Mom gave me the Shaker dining room table that my grandfather actually built himself, and I got to finally use a ton of the gifts from my wedding registry--even took some out of the boxes for the first time in seven months.... Add to that my grandmother's china and you've got a recipe for nostalgia and new tradition all in one. Plus we had homegrown Brussels sprouts (and bacon, thus ensuring DH ate them) courtesy of my Maine farmer sister, and my other sister M. made these delicious sweet potatoes--that come with a Frosted Flake crust. And two pies! OHHH...SO YUMMY! Oh, and mom's stuffing...small wonder I got on the scale this past weekend and practically screamed.
Which leads me to my other comment: In my quest to once again fit comfortably into my jeans, I perused the Exercise on Demand feature on our Direct TV. I chose a good looking cardio one that had you dance the pounds right off, tra la! Now, sisters, feel free to start laughing, you little twerps: I forgot that the dance moves in these damned videos are done at a decent speed, and I do not have the coordination to quickly pick up a step-kick-turn-knee up-back-dance like I'm on MTV routine. It had me flailing around like a wounded animal...or a really white girl. Oh, and forget adding arm movements in time to all of this. Thank God I was alone in my living room with the shades down, because I looked and felt like a right jackass. I figured the amount of energy I expended just trying to do what the overly energetic host did effortlessly--not to mention his toned, tight ab-ed, smiling little minion women-- had to have burned some calories. I'll probably even go back for more...but maybe Tai-bo. Or I'll commit the ultimate irony: Sit on the couch and watch it in slo-mo, get the steps, and THEN try them myself. I'll keep you all posted (pun intended).
So, all in all, I had a fantastic Thanksgiving with people I loved, and I didn't have to go anywhere. A nice perk. Hope all of you had a good holiday as well! We didn't take many pictures (I was running around, so I kept forgetting), but here's one:
Thursday, November 15, 2007
So now we make sure to call, to check in, to e-mail. It takes more effort, but it's worth it. These are two terrific women and I want to make sure we keep the friendship going. This is also why I continue this blog; it's a great way to stay in touch with my friends all over the U.S. even when we don't get a chance to talk on the phone or send our millions of e-mails that, frankly, we don't always get the chance to write. I had no idea people read this until I got calls and e-mails chastising me for not keeping up!
This rings true lately because I'm in a new job, trying to meet new people and make friends, and I have to remember that these things take time and care, like a garden needs tending. I also need to remember that everyone's different, and not everyone will respond to me the way I might like, and that geography does sometimes play a part in who feels connected to whom. Mainly I probably just need to relax and, while making the effort, realize I can't force anything, see what happens. I think when we've gotten to know our old friends we forget how hard it is to make new ones, and I need to remember that I'm not always going to have instant connections with people.
Thus, this is not really a lament, though it probably sounds like one a bit; it's just my convoluted way of reaching out to all of you and saying I'm glad you're all there.
P.S. I have to give proper credit to my sister M., who passed the NY State Bar Exam! It's one of the hardest and she busted her ass. For crying out loud, I had to schedule my wedding around it. Both she and her fiance passed (thank God)--an engagement and becoming a lawyer all in less than a month! Yay for the good guys.
Have a great weekend if I don't get to you, chickadees! Oh, and if anyone has a good turkey recipe, I'd love to have it.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Well, we got there at 9:30, thank goodness, because our race went off at 2:00 and God forbid we not get there four hours before we had to even think about it. Typical race procedure. The weather held and my not-as-girlish hips fit into the narrow little coxswain seat, my stroke (the guy closest to me who sets the pace) gave me some advice on when to do ten-stroke power pieces, and we were off. I felt a lot better about my competition when I saw their cox hang their boat up on a bridge abutment on the way to the starting line. All in all, considering it was a boat with average age of about 53 (if that low) versus slightly novice college kids, experience trumped over youth and we kicked their asses! Hooray! Plus I remembered how to steer. However, I think the best part for my rowers came when another crew immediately took their boat to race in, meaning they didn't have to carry the thing anywhere.
Our prizes? Mugs with "Head of the Niagara" on them. I actually find that much more useful than a medal which sits in a drawer.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Anyway, SL and I were talking about something that nags me which DH pointed out: Has anyone else noticed that a major premise for sitcoms involves a husband-wife combo where the man plays a barely functional Neanderthal-moron type and the woman ends up as the smarter, often shrewish wife? Wherein lies the humor? DH takes offense as an intelligent, sensitive man who, while he does occasionally sling clothes on his side of the bedroom and still needs reminding of family birthdays, does not show any of the exaggerated behavior these sitcom men do. It's the reason he won't watch Everybody Loves Raymond. They also have this formula on Home Improvement, According to Jim, Rules of Engagement (although that's also more the "marriage is actually hellish" route) and probably others I haven't thought of. Not only does this formula insult men and women, it's also tired and overdone. For some reason it works a little better in cartoon form (Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin), but I even want to clock those men sometimes for their behavior. I realize the exaggeration is part of the comedy script and makes it hiLARious, etc., etc., but let's broaden our horizons, shall we? I realize I could 1) not watch these shows or 2) turn the idiot box off, but the fact that they're out there and constantly being reproduced bugs me a bit. This may be why I prefer the How I Met Your Mother and The Office type of comedy--at least Michael Scott wreaks his complete lack of tact and political correctness on everyone...and you kind of love him for it.
That's it. I'm going to go read a book.
p.s. Totally random, but did you know you can translate your blogger posts into Hindustani? Fascinating. And why Hindustani only? It's under "shortcuts" when you click "more". What an age we live in....
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
1) The stove arrived and it ROCKS. It is the most badass stove ever. It's got six burners, a griddle for the middle, and a warming drawer. It can even do slow cooking, so I wouldn't need the infamous crock pot, but how could I give that up? PLUS you can do delayed cooking: If you leave for work at 8 and want the dinner to start cooking at 5:00, you can stick it in the stove and set the timer to go on at 5:00. It's almost like artificial intelligence. Not sure I want my beef stew sitting in an oven gathering bacteria for nine hours, but you understand that it could be useful. The first thing I made was Savory & Sweet's chicken pot pie, which also rocks. And two nights ago I made her mother's chili (with H's variations)--delicious!
2) My sister got engaged! Hooray! She and C make a terrific couple and I know they'll be very happy together. The funniest was a few weeks ago when they were in town, and C. was attempting to ask my (step)dad about marrying her. We were all at my brother's house having a small party and poor C kept desperately trying to get Dad alone, and people kept coming in and talking. Finally DH and my brother took the helm and whisked people out, so we loudly conversed in the kitchen while poor M. hyperventilated upstairs with the other sisters. All went well and they'll tie the knot next fall, I think. So happy!
3) Settling in to the new job, getting to know the ropes, making nice friends (yay), and learning how best to deal with the kids with a loooooot of help from said nice friends (thank you, Wisest, for your infinite patience and aid!). I love it and hope to stay--being a permanent sub, my position is a little tenuous, but all I can do right now is kick butt teaching and prove that I'm totally indispensable.
4) Also settling into the house. No pretty updates, just practical ones, but it's coming along. We mow and rake and fix screens and all that good stuff. Plus the 'rents have given us great ideas about how we can fix things up, and I think they're willing to help us formulate a Plan (capital P) for figuring out how to do everything.
5) Ooh! DH and I volunteered to have Thanksgiving at our house. It's part "let's enjoy our first Thanksgiving in the new house" and part "We're not moving, so if you want to see us, come here." It will hopefully make up for the Great Christmas Road Trip that we have to make every year among all our parents. So, if you have any advice on cooking or sanity, I'm up for it. I'm already thinking of scheduling a massage.
Thus, my life is mundane but I still love it and tonight's Halloween, and we'll have the first trick-or-treaters we've had in two years. Our old place was so set back that nobody came in. I will sport my orange shirt and hand out goodies under our fun candy corn lights. Hopefully I'll have more little kids than sullen teenagers with cartons of eggs....
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
- Managed to run for 30 minutes without gasping for air or stopping, a huge accomplishment for me
- Graded a bunch of stuff that really needed grading
- Read some of a real book (not one I'm teaching)
- Spent quality time with my husband
- BOUGHT A NEW RANGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No more crock pot out of necessity! It arrives Wednesday, hopefully, so I'll be raving about the quality meals I'm making IN the stove, not just on top of it. Yay!
- Did not go see my grandmother as I had planned
- Did not get all my grading done by a long shot
- Probably watched too much TV
Now...will I manage to do these things? Yes. Am I a terrible person? Absolutely not. Do I need to get going right now so I won't be late for work? Yes, so have a good day, people.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
A seagull in Scotland has developed the habit of stealing chips from a neighborhood shop. The seagull waits until the shopkeeper isn't looking, and then walks into the store and grabs a
snack-size bag of cheese Doritos. Once outside, the bag gets ripped open and shared by other birds. The seagull's shoplifting started early this month when he first swooped into the store in Aberdeen, Scotland, and helped himself to a bag of chips. Since then, he's become a regular.
He always takes the same type of chips.
Customers have begun paying for the seagull's stolen bags of chips because they think it's so funny.
Promise I'll tell all about the fun weekend with my sisters and brother soon. I'm swamped this week with grading I just haven't quite done. We also have five-week reports due (even though it hasn't been five weeks). They have this giant list of comments to choose from and you just put in the number of the comment, e.g. 208 "Needs to participate more in class", 147 "Not working to potential", etc. If I could, I would publish a new, improved, realistic set of comments, but I don't want to get myself in trouble, as some are not as mundane as "He's doing fine" or "Your kid's awesome".
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Hideous front hall wallpaper before I ripped most of it off--soooo satisfying!
View in the front hall, post wallpaper-ripping
Living room--the shelves will be filled with books; we still have boxes of them shoved into the cabinets below. And no, we're not keeping the valances over the windows. You can't quite see it, but we do have a working fireplace.
See why we're not keeping them? (Another living room angle)
Kitchen with ugly linoleum and the scary oven. Notice the crock pot on the counter; used that again last night. Maybe we won't even buy a new range? I don't know why we have a kitchen chair in the middle of the floor. It has taken up residence; I'm thinking of calling it George.
Another kitchen view: our little table for mail and the phone and my one plant I've managed not to kill
Sorry this is on its side; this is the bathroom off the kitchen that clearly used to function as a closet. There's not even a sink in there, but hey, it works!
The TV for the "man room", although our friends have said until we change the wallpaper, they're calling it the "granddad room". The man room comes complete with large leather pullout couch, all very manly, yes, hmm, manly! Grrr!
Ech, another side picture. Wine fridge outside the man room. We love our wine fridge so much we received THREE of them for our wedding and that's the cause of my rant against Home Depot. DON'T REGISTER THERE. They made it nearly impossible to return it.
Contrast to manliness: Guest bedroom upstairs. Come stay!
My office. Notice I never let Kermit the frog or my Harry Potters (top shelf, the colorful ones) get very far away.
Screened-in porch complete with glider! That's the beautiful green thing. DH wants to get rid of it; I say no way.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
I admit I had such fun showing our place to our friends who could come, and they all oohed and ahhed in just the right places and even brought us lovely gifts. Savoryandsweet and her husband brought a delicious green salad with tomatoes from their garden and an absolutely mouthwatering cake that I think she should post the recipe to. Plus they brought us our wedding present (a mandoline--the cooking appliance, not the musical instrument) now because she thoughtfully realized we wouldn't want to pack it. I second this: I still have a box filled with other wedding presents still in their respective boxes. As I said, give it five years. We had to crock pot it again, but as a result I have a super easy recipe to share:
- 8 cu. cauliflower florets (about one large bunch)
- 1 jar cheddar cheese pasta sauce (Ragu makes one)
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed (and if you know an easy way to do this that does not involve mortar and pestle, let me know. But I do want a mortar and pestle. They're just cool.)
- Put all these ingredients together in a crock pot on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-3 1/2. Add pepper before serving. How mind-numbingly simple is that for a side? And everyone liked it.
Now I'm off to plan the week because, hey, it's 8:10 on a Sunday night and my time's running out. Oops. Do as I say, not as I do--I always tell the students to avoid exactly this. Have a good Monday, people.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Our new cable enticed me too much yesterday. I'll try not to let it happen again, and will write more about books; dear, wonderful, touching, funny, inspiring books.
Oh, and the crock pot rocked. Nothing like coming into the house with the scent of dinner deliciously and gently assaulting your olfactory senses.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
I will try to give the Reader's Digest version, but if you read this blog at all, you'll know that's a bit of an exercise in futility.
We moved in on Monday, August 27, after expecting to do so the previous Friday and being told that previous Wednesday that that would not happen. Super. Honestly, we ended up needing the days--ever notice how 80% of your stuff takes 20% of the time and vice versa? That last 20% included all the little items that don't go anywhere except a large trash bag for easy carrying...but then half of that needs bubble wrap (or a ratty old pillowcase; whatever's handy) so it won't break and only three items fit in one box and why the hell do I even have this thing anyway? What IS this? When did I get this? You understand.
SO! While I also did about 80% of the packing, DH did the same amount of heavy lifting, so I think we came out pretty even-Steven. My mom thinks I did the lion's share--mommies are good like that. A number of lovely and strong friends of DH's came to help us move everything in that Monday, as did the gorgeous and talented A., in from Colorado on a whirlwind East Coast tour. Not only did she haul in boxes, she did so in a skirt. We schlepped everything in and DH set up the bed and the alarm clock so we could spend our first night in the house. I admit freely that I loved falling asleep to crickets and nothing rather than sirens and "HEY! WHERE YOU AT?", which did happen on occasion in the old place. For the rest of the week we put things away and straightened up, putting things to rights slowly but surely. Mom and my sister M. helped tremendously by hanging pictures, moving furniture that DH and I had obviously put in the wrong place (I write that lovingly), and buying those little touches like curtains and towel rods that truly do make the house a home. Right now we've got things more or less set, although I have stowed a few boxes in the basement (WE HAVE A BASEMENT!) or in cupboards. The whole place still needs paint, but I did have a blast peeling off the majority of the hideous old wallpaper in the front hall. Wait until I post the picture of that bit of gorgeousness.
Now, recall I moved on a Monday. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I had all-day new teacher orientation at my new school. Fortunately I now live quite literally a five minute walk away, and I kept a few nice pieces of clothes and the iron handy for just such an occasion. I don't know how other orientations for other jobs go, but picture a large group of excited people becoming more and more bewildered and freaked out as a person stands up, talks about what we need to know for this area of the job, gives us a form to fill out or something to read and know well so we can do our jobs properly...all repeated about ten times. Fortunately I'm in a group of six new English teachers, so we all spend a lot of time muttering, "Did anyone tell you you have to do X by tomorrow?" "WHAT? No! What are you talking about?" "Yeah, I happened to overhear that we have to do X." "Oh, crap."
However, everyone has been extremely nice and helpful, from neighbors to teachers, and while I'll miss the city, I know we made the right move, literally and figuratively. Plus I still have friends in Buffalo who won't allow me to become a scary suburbanite, and I'll have to go there so I can go to a restaurant where I won't know any of my students. Thus it all works out.
I'm sure my next post will include something about the glories of the crock pot because our oven is so old that you just have to turn on the burner and look at the thermometer the previous owners have mounted inside to see if it's at the right temperature. Hence we've stuck to the stovetop and microwave. Ah, the glories of house ownership. I still love it anyway.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us through words, gifts, or backstrain!
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Right now I'm sitting on my mattress with my keyboard in my lap while DH vacuums our now-empty bedroom. I admit I've taken an escape route, refusing for fifteen minutes to figure out how best to pack a large muffin tin, myriad pieces of Tupperware, and breakable glasses into a box. Very, very soon this will involve me simply putting a box together and throwing stuff in willy-nilly, just to GET IT DONE. I'm very, very excited that we're moving to our first house, and I'll laugh all about it in a week, but currently I am sticky and unwashed and I want the maid to come take care of all this and I gave her the weekend off, that sneaky little minx. She took the jet to the Hamptons.
Thus as of Monday I will not have Internet until we set it up at the new place or unless I go to school, not too far away, but still not as convenient as right at home. Oh, and I may be getting a new desk, new to me but an antique, which explains why I even mention it. It's not like, whee, new desk! Yeah! This one came from some sort of university and has wrought-iron sides, a little shelf, and it opens up like those desks you had in grade school (but it's wooden, not whatever they were made of. Stone, it felt like, when you inevitably slammed your finger with the top of it). So, yes, pictures. Aaand, hopefully I will have pictures of my tomatoes, which I take absurd pride in. I hope I can move them to the new place! Any suggestions on transportation?
OK, folks, I better get back to the grind--have a great weekend!
Coming attraction: I read the most interesting article about a professor who made his students go technology free (radio, cell phone, TV, etc.) for 24 hours and then had them write about it. Ponder that, my dears.
Friday, August 10, 2007
To give the Reader's Digest version, we flew out of Toronto in order to avoid an international flight. DH does not have a passport and we figured we'd rather do it that way than pay $400 to get one expedited. According to the travel.gov website, it currently takes 10-12 weeks to get a passport for regular paying folks. I will not go into a diatribe here about the governmental snarl we as a country created, but I'm sure some of you have an idea of what I might rant about. Anyway, after a remarkably uneventful flight to Victoria, BC (on which we had the rare pleasure of watching Blades of Glory) we spent two beautiful days there exploring, eating delicious fresh fish, and drinking some of the many microbrews each restaurant had to offer. We also did the posh stage of our trip, staying in the sumptuous Fairmont Empress Hotel, right on the harbor:So beautiful! We spent our time walking around town (or taking the harbor ferries and almost getting run over by a seaplane, once, as pictured below) and taking everything in.
On our first full day, a Sunday, we woke to find ourselves smack in the middle of Deuce Day, an antique car show that primarily showcases "The Deuce", a hotrod built in 1932. Just tons of beautiful antique cars perfectly restored, primarily from that year and a few others.
One of our favorites included the woody driven by the warden of Alcatraz. Just gorgeous stuff; I'm not an old car fan, but these amazed us.
We also (and I just have to throw in a few great pictures) went to the Legislative Building, basically the capital building of the province, Victoria being the capital of British Columbia. I could not believe a 25 year-old novice architect built this place. Here are just a few shots; DH took the terrific one of the ceiling of the place.
That last one is Queen Victoria's window they put up for her inauguration. After a glorious two days in Canada, we took the ferry to Lopez Island, where our friend M.'s parents let us use their house for the rest of the week. Lopez is one of the smaller San Juan Islands, less commercial than the other main ones, so the rest of the week had us wandering the rocky beaches and one Shark Reef Sanctuary (no sharks, but tons of harbor seals), kayaking, catching an 11lb. salmon that we ate for the next two days, and generally having the most relaxing honeymoon possible, with the exception of climbing to the top of Mt. Constitution at the end of the week. I found it hard to return, although now I'm hot in the middle of packing to move into our new house! And now I'll leave you with a few mountain pictures and one of the great sunset shots I got on our first night there.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Since I was on a roll, I continued and made morning glory muffins, also from Cooking Light (3 points each but they're filling). We omitted the walnuts but they still tasted great, according to my (biased) sources. I still don't know why "morning glory" has to do with lots of wheat and bran, but it required me going to the local health store and buying a 1lb. bag of flax seed and borrowing my landlady's coffee grinder to produce 2 tablespoons of ground flax. Thus, if anyone has recipes that call for flax seed, let me know. Mushing the bananas inside the peels was the most fun part. Yes, I may grow older, but immaturity lasts forever. Makes life a lot more fun.
Monday, July 23, 2007
I will only say a few things: Yes, of course I bawled at the end. Again, Rowling manages to tie plot bits together amazingly skilfully, bringing something back from a previous book that you didn't realize had ANY importance at all that becomes crucial in the current one. When my real copy comes, I will re-read it just to see what I missed in the first go-around. I loved it, loved every single page. What makes me happiest as an English teacher? This woman had millions of people glued to their chairs either listening to or reading a book. Alone, as families, chapter by chapter, in one sitting, you name it. Even watching the news this morning: I could not figure out how in the world a homophobic movie like I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (again, I feel no need to supply a link) had surpassed the fifth Harry Potter movie until DH pointed out that everybody else was home reading! This left the non-readers, to put it delicately, filling the seats for Adam Sandler and Kevin James' homage to old, tasteless gay stereotypes and jokes.
Something else worth the wait: We're finally headed on our honeymoon this Friday, off to the wilds of the west coast of Canada! Considering we have a six-hour flight, I may get a chunk of HP7 re-read. Sigh...I just loved that book.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
However, I don't think I can do that with this last one. I know I'll read it as fast as I can, avoiding all news and radio coverage because inevitably morons out there will start off their story with, "Fans all around the world mourn the death of Harry Potter" or some crap like that, RUINING it for anyone who hasn't finished the book or plans to read them in the future. Why don't people think???? DH already plans to cook for me so I don't have to do anything but read. I really don't know how Rowling will end it. Truly. As my friend said, "She's British. Brits don't end everything all happy." Clearly she has proved to us that nobody is safe (and I'll say no more, as some of you may not know what I mean. See, news people?), as evidenced in prior books. Thus I can guarantee that I won't post this weekend. No, I'll wrap myself in one, final Potter adventure. I can't wait.
This past weekend DH and I saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at the IMAX theater. I haven't seen anything remotely 3D in years, and I have to admit it rocked with the glasses and a GIANT screen which covered the entire wall. We put our glasses on as they headed to the Ministry, and then the whole action scene was in 3D. Very, very cool. I agree with both feathernester and her husband that I liked the way they put things together but left out parts I wish they hadn't. I realize that editing requires this, but I still feel much of the humor was left out to make it darker and they didn't give Ron or Hermione much development at all. Couldn't they have added that they got prefect? I also wish they could've added some of the Quidditch elements but again, editing must prevail. Like Mr. Feathernester, I always prefer the book to the movie; you always get more with the book. I just think Book Five gives a much richer experience than the movie.
To that end, did anyone else notice that the Dementors in Little Whinging were NOT explained? Why not? Doesn't that prove even more strongly the evil side of the character who put them there? Made no sense to me. Great job on casting with Bellatrix Lestrange, Umbridge, and Luna Lovegood. And the three main characters have really begun to prove their range; I see them doing other films and productions after this successfully. Daniel Radcliffe's already gone the other way with his role in Equus (and if you don't know the play, trust me when I say it's about as far away from Harry Potter as you can get). Long story short, go see it. The special effects are great, it will never replace the book, but I'll still get it when it comes out on video.
2. Who truly cares about Paris Hilton? And why won't she go away?
3. Why did my bike, made in CA, need metric Allen wrenches?
4. Will kids ever read books again, or has technology pretty much ruined that forever unless old fogies like myself force them to?
5. How do people still have faith in George Bush? Hasn't enough evidence accrued that people realize he's made a variety of, shall we say, poor decisions?
6. Why is exercise/dieting/you name it such a hard habit to get into but so incredibly easy to fall out of, even though we know it will enhance our lives?
7. Why don't bars have little hooks underneath for women to hang purses on?
8. Wouldn't it just make border crossing easier if, on a driver's license, the government put a little symbol on there indicating that the driver had been born in the United States instead of trying to force everyone to buy a $300 passport?
9. Why do I think the government would do something simple and logical? (Does anyone know that story about the U.S. space program trying to design a pen that would work in space, spending thousands of dollars and hours to get ink that would work in weightlessness...and the Russians used a pencil?)
10. Will SNL really cycle back to funny skits again? Who's still watching it to even see?
11. Do we really need a fishing network?
12. How does one get egg off a house? (I ask this because I'm moving so close to a high school.)
13. Will I have to listen to the Top 40 music station so I know what my students are singing--and tell them not to sing it in class--even though I think most of it is crap? When did I become my parents?
14. Why does my town have three soft rock stations and NO oldies station?
15. Why do I secretly watch America's Next Top Model?
16. Will Harry Potter die? What will I do after the series has ended?
Saturday, July 7, 2007
This may sound silly, but it feels so adult to own a house. DH and I now have a mortgage and a yard and a real, live basement (well, nothing lives in it as far as I know) and everything. We even have a raspberry bush! I find it all rather amazing and exciting. The house also happens to sit behind the football field of the local high school--not so close that stray passes will fly into the yard but close enough that my friend H. pointed out that the house will get egged on Halloween. It's all pretty exciting that we're really moving on to the next part of our lives, the part that will probably include children and Christmases and repainting and fights and everything. Mindblowing.
7/10/07 What makes this even more significant? Through a series of events, I found out said local high school had an English job opening. Bear in mind that the school is close enough to my house to literally walk out my door and across that field in five minutes. I figured I'd check it out just to see what would happen... and they actually offered me the job! I hadn't even thought of going elsewhere but I had to take the opportunity. Thus this means starting over again, but I think this could be something more permanent, finally. It also means I have to teach yucky boys again, ewwww.
So anyone want to come over for a painting party?
Monday, June 25, 2007
As a wise person recently put it, for whatever reason it seems that spoken requests go in one chamber of my memory but never make it to the next one. Or I'll try to write something down but I'll write it on some scrap of paper that I then lose. Or I have some planner that I lose or forget to use and it's a month later and I find it and think, "Oh yeah, this, I should use this." I've gotten much better about it--step one is recognizing how my particular process works. If there's a school meeting, I put it in my Outlook calendar with an e-mail reminder AND I put it in my planner--which also has a To-Do list on the other side. Thank goodness again for Real Simple! This way I can keep everything together. I'm also learning to simply say, "Yes, I can do that, but would you please e-mail me/call me tomorrow about it?" This way I cover my bases. Plus, feathernester in her speech pathology wisdom has advised that I update and look at my to-do list every day for six weeks. According to her and many experts, this is the magic number for making something a habit. I will ask DH to help me remember and give myself little rewards each week for remembering. Today is Day 1, so wish me luck.
I think the biggest problem is that when I forget these important tasks, I and everyone else looks at it as a major character flaw rather than my hardwiring acting differently than others'. I don't use that as an excuse, though I have used some variation of it as one in the past. However, my inability to remember these things unless I write them down or repeat them out loud several times (and sometimes that doesn't even work) is viewed as me acting irresponsibly or immaturely--apparently once you reach a certain age, your brain should switch into Responsible Adult Mode. This includes rarely missing appointments, paying bills on time, not throwing tantrums, working when you'd rather play, and watching or reading the news. Raise your hand if you've ever seen adults NOT doing these things, yourself included. I thought so. I feel grateful that the aforementioned wise person helped me figure out that my memory snafus are not part of a character flaw; they're just part of me. I'll continue to believe this even when others around me do not.
Do any of you have this problem or know those who do? Perhaps you're married to or dating or working with this person? What are your solutions?
Friday, June 15, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Well, either way, it seems that when women reach their forties or so and have a kid or two, some irresistible urge comes on them to cut their hair. Why? Do they feel long hair looks too "youthful"? Does short hair actually look better at a certain age? Is it too much of a pain to deal with drying and so forth? I cannot believe the latter because I have had short hair and I'm telling you, it can take waaaay more time to deal with when you have waves that threaten to look like a cross between Medusa and serious bedhead unless you attack with gel, spray, a hair dryer, and numerous combs and brushes immediately upon exiting the shower. My mother can attest to this as well. She did have long hair when we were little but since about 1984 her hair has not touched her shoulders. It always looks great (although she never thinks so) but I just do not understand why she cut it. What don't I know? Is it a compulsion? Is there a law? Do your friends pressure you into it? Someone please set me straight. I find this hair question to rank among one of Life's Mysteries but is probably simple ignorance on my part. S. is right: Most men seem to love the long hair. DH just recently begged me not to cut mine. In this weather it's usually up anyway, so is there a point to having it long? Another female question: Why do we insist on keeping the one lost earring? Do we really think we'll find the other one someday? Just something else to ponder.
Enjoy your day!
Monday, June 11, 2007
But anyway, Allentown's a great way to walk around and see all elements of Buffalo, good and bad. This year the weather was great and once again, I managed to support a few really hardworking artists. My only beef is that for some reason they don't allow local merchants to sell their wares outside their stores at Allentown; the Allentown Village Society doesn't allow it for some reason. This bugs me; why can't local people benefit, thus opening the suburbanites' eyes to what's just a few miles away, thus improving the economy for the entire city? It's what they do at the Taste of Buffalo, another festival that qualifies as a gastronomical wonderland. But I'll jump off my soapbox and stop boring my readers.
Enjoy your day!
Next post: Why do women of a certain age cut their hair short? And is this only in America?
Friday, June 8, 2007
(<-- my shoes!) Not to stereotype, but this is an extremely female post, so if you're male (or female, I suppose) and care little about the quest for shoes, here's your chance to have an out. Tell you what--I'll read DH's Esquire magazine and comment on the article about Angelina Jolie. Actually, I enjoy reading that particular magazine--it's pretty savvy. Not that men are Neanderthals who love only sexy women--I happen to think Angelina's pretty hot myself. I just figure I'll offer equal time.
But! Anyway, yesterday I went shoe shopping. I even went to what I always call the godawful mall. I try to avoid that place at all costs because 1) I am a person who walks with a purpose. I do not amble; I am not an ambler. Thus, I cannot stand wending my way around people who take their time and walk four abreast so I can't get around them. It drives me bonkers. 2) those amblers are usually obnoxious teenagers, although the mall has put in a really lovely rule that if you're under sixteen, you can't be there without an adult. This sometimes helps. Buffalo has many lovely little shops right in town but this time I needed major retailers all in one spot. Sometimes there is a need for the big conglomerates
First I jumped on the Croc bandwagon; I admit, they are extremely comfortable summer shoes. I even found some for DH, and he's not an easy shoe size to find: Being very tall, he has shoes to match. And you know what big shoes mean...big feet. Get your heads out of the gutter, people.
Then I made the mistake of going to DSW with only a vague idea of what I wanted. I'll try to spare you the details, but picture me ambling (yes, I was ambling) through aisle after aisle looking for summer sandals but I wasn't sure what they looked like. Too high a heel, weird buckle, don't like the straps, too slutty, no way I'm paying $50 for those, just plain eww.... I didn't realize I'd been there so long until I finally came away with shoes (and of course, not even shoes I had planned to buy but useful comfy shoes made by Rocket Dogs--and I didn't have any idea that they were hip L.A. shoes at all. I never know that stuff.) and the one worker guy said at the checkout, "Oh, so you finally found something?" and I looked down at my watch and realized I'd been there for an hour!
But, as many of you know, for some reason, there is something about the hunt for a shoe. And the shoe creators know it--they make so many in all different styles! Heels, colors, shapes, materials, adornments, flats, wedges, sneakers, boots, laces, treads, aglets! I don't know if women have a certain chromosome for it or what, but a great number of women have a strange love for shoes. However, for those of us without disposable income, our other chromosome that never allows us to buy retail will occasionally combine with the shoe chromosome. This means that entering a shoe store and seeing a "50% off!" sign accelerates the heartbeat, dilates the pupils, and sets our focus on Finding the Ultimate Deal. Men do not understand this obsession with shoes. They would rather pull out nose hairs one at a time than shoe shop with any woman. I understand this fully and have told DH that he never, ever has to come with me when I'm on the prowl. Actually, I once saw some poor boyfriend sitting bereft on a bench while his girl looked at shoes, even going so far as to ask him if he liked them. Poor guy. As she blithely walked away, I went over to him and whispered, "She owes you so big for this." He came out of his stupor and gave me a huge, grateful smile, and I quickly walked away.
Today I am going to walk around in my new shoes! Whoo hoo!
Monday, June 4, 2007
Wish me luck!
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Well, I don't want to think about that now (said with cultured Southern accent). Can you guess how my week's going? ;-)
Friday, May 18, 2007
Pecan Pear Pesto over Baked Brie
2 pears – cored and chopped
1 C pecans
2 T honey
1 T Moroccan spice
1 T salt
¼ C fresh parsley
Toast pecans and chop. Add spices and honey and stir until caramelized. Add pears and parsley, blend in a food processor. Serve over baked brie.
I had this appetizer recently at a restaurant in Ithaca, NY and it was SO amazing that I got the chef to give me the recipe! The savory pecans along with the slight sweetness of the pears and honey, and the added spice makes for the most perfect topping to the warm brie. It’s heavenly!!
Pasta with Lemon Sauce (Rotini with Salsa di Limone)
(Substitutions listed in parentheses)
1 pound penne pasta (rotini)
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half (1-1/4 lbs Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced)
1 lg lemon, finely zested and juiced
1C shredded mozzarella cheese (1C crumbled feta or ricotta salata)
1tsp kosher salt
1tsp freshly ground pepper (1/2 tsp)
Cook pasta al dente, reserving 1C of cooking water.
Combine cooked pasta with remaining ingredients, adding half of the cooking water. Toss to combine, and add the remaining water if needed.
I adapted this recipe from Giada on the Food Network. I didn't have some of the ingredients, but I thought the basic premise of the recipe sounded great. The pasta was very good when I made it for dinner and served it hot, but I preferred the leftovers, which I ate cold as a pasta salad. Either way, it was easy breezy and yummy. Enjoy. (For the record, I listed the ingredients that I used, but I included Giada's recommendations in parentheses. I'm sure the dish would've been better with the recommended cheese, but I can't eat cheese, so I put what I had into my husband’s dinner. I also liked the extra pepper.)
Linguini with Butter, Arugula and Pecorino Romano
courtesy Giada DeLaurentiis
1 pound linguine
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups very finely grated Pecorino Romano
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped arugula
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
Add the linguini and cook until it is al dente, about 8 minutes.
Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Immediately toss the hot pasta in a large bowl with the butter to coat.
While tossing the linguine, gradually sprinkle the cheese, pepper, and enough of the reserved cooking liquid evenly over the linguine to moisten.
Add the arugula and toss to combine. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt. Divide the pasta among 6 plates and serve
|This recipe claims to serve 6. I guess it could, but it usually serves us two plus a little for lunch the next day. So good! Add extra arugula for more of a bite.|
Fiber One Chewy Bars
They taste absolutely wonderful and have 9 grams of fiber in each bar. My favorite flavor is the oats and chocolate. You'll find them near the granola bars in your grocery store. - Tamarah
Kathleen Lolley (http://lolleyland.com/)
Love, love, love her! And feeling very “wanty” about
just about everything she's made. - Sara
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
I am in the middle of this book right now and it's an intelligent page-turner, especially for those who like whodunits with true plot. There are three case histories that the reader realizes somehow intertwine. Detective Jackson Brodie investigates them all while trying to deal with his own life, complicated by a messy divorce, questions about his life, and paternal worries about his own pre-adolescent daughter. I've really enjoyed its twists and fascinating characters.
The Dogs of Bedlam Farm: An Adventure with Sixteen Sheep, Three Dogs, Two Donkeys, & Me
by Jon Katz
It's a long title. It's such a wonderful read for anyone who loves animals - it's a true story about a writer who buys a farm more or less for his 3 border collies.
The South Beach Diet by Arthur Agatston
I know this is a book that everyone has heard of, but I wanted to give it my recommendation. I’m not using it as a diet book, (and I don’t even think the book should have diet in the title) but more of a lifestyle approach. With diabetes on the rise, this method of eating is an excellent approach to get control of your blood sugar.
TV SHOWS & MOVIES
What About Brian (ABC – Monday 10pm)
I never watch primetime shows anymore, but I was sick recently and went to www.abc.com to watch some free shows while I was lying in bed. I ran across this show and loved it! I watched all 22 episodes from this past season. It has great writing, realistic and touching story lines, and isn’t overly dramatic. It’s produced by JJ Abrams, the same man who brought us Alias and is known for his great work in television.
Children of Men
This is a terrific and dark/grim movie. I highly recommend it.
The Louis Vuitton Necklace for Cheap!
For those of you who read the Spring Vogue you probably saw the beautiful cloth beaded Louis Vuitton necklace. It sells for $750, but below are instructions to make your own for under $2!
1) Find some thin fabric. The best kind for this project is silk or satin. Vintage scarves work great for this pattern.
2) Cut a 5"/55" piece of fabric. If you are using an old scarf just cut the 5" pieces and sew them together to get the 55" length.
3) Sew the fabric inside out along the 55" edge.
4) Use a safety pin to turn the fabric inside out.
5) Use wooden beads roughly 1" in diameter to create the necklace. Put the first bead in the tube and center it in the fabric. Tie a tight knot on both sides of the bead.
6) Work 8-10 beads back and forth on either side of the first bead. The desired length is up to you. My preference is 10 beads.
7) When you're done threading the beads tuck in the fabric ends and sew them.
Are you in CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome)? Looking for a way to better manage household tasks? Check out the Fly Lady! Very helpful and practical. The Fly Lady yahoo group is fun to join - use a dedicated email address though - messages are prolific!
For those who live to eat and for those of us who like to read about food. Recipes, stories, blogs, videos. If you want to find the best patio restaurants in Toronto, the best burgers in Kansas City, or the best best place to find frozen dumplings, this is the site to go to and get lost for about an hour. For instance I just now learned about nickel-plated cast iron skillets...
...we've been cooking on regular cast iron for decades and love it. Some people don't, it needs to be seasoned and you just don't wash it with soap and water as you do everything else. Nickel-plated iron sounds like the cat's pants, although it's pricey.- Don