Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Product review: french toast sticks

I recently purchased the Sprawl-mart brand (Great Value) of cinnamon french toast sticks. I like them. I made them in the toaster oven, and let me tell you they smelled amazing. Like churros! They took five or six minutes in the toaster oven. They were soft without being limp. I broiled them for the last minute or so, which gave them a slightly crispy outside. With some eggs and a glass of OJ, it was a delightful breakfast for dinner. I highly recommend it. Mostly because I love breakfast for dinner. And churros!

Good thing there were no witnesses

I recently discovered that my photos and ticket stubs from London had gone missing. (The photos could be reprinted, sure, but what about my ticket stubs?!) I remember putting them "somewhere safe" when my family was coming to town. NEVER put anything somewhere safe! You will never find it again.

I thought I had put the envelope on the dryer, by the picture frames. And yet, there was nothing. I kept thinking I should look behind the dryer, but I really didn't want to, because I didn't want them to be there. Last night, though, I finally broke down and got out the stepladder. Yup, there they were.

So I started inching the dryer out last night. I was about to climb back there when I realized, I'm in my pajamas. It's midnight. I've already taken a shower, and it's dusty back there. If I get stuck, I'm going to have to call my friend in the middle of the night to come bail me out. So I didn't do it. But today when I got home, I finished pulling out the dryer, climbed back there, and retrieved my treasures.

It's a good thing there was no one around, because I'm sure I looked ridiculous. My dryer is on a pedestal, so the top of the dryer is at shoulder level. At one point, I was on my stomach on top of the dryer, frog-legged against the back wall, pushing myself out. It was fabulous.

The important thing, though, is that I got my ticket stubs and that you should never put anything somewhere safe.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Have a laugh

I don't know how long I've had this floating around on my thumb drive. Four years, apparently. There's something about the line "Youse call dat a firewall?" that gets me every time.

Some comics never cease to amuse. Dilbert, Bizarro, Brevity, Cul de Sac, Retail, Baby Blues, etc. Pearls Before Swine is sometimes funny, though I think it was funnier in the early years. ("Do you think Van Gogh drank Coke or Pepsi?") Some comics are never funny. I'm going to have to agree with Marge Simpson on Hagar the Horrible. "I just don't think it's funny!" When I was a kid, I used to call it the funny pages. Now I call it the comics. Because so many of them just aren't funny.

What comics do you like? Is there something hilarious that I'm missing out on?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I don't eat dinner. Dinner's for suckers.

Edit: If you're looking for the Seinfeld quote, try here.

I've been so busy lately, I haven't really had time to go to the grocery store. My fridge didn't really look that empty, though, until I cleaned out all the tupperware and leftovers and whatnot. After I did that, it was a pretty pitiful sight. To wit:

The top shelf:

Top shelf

The milk is past its prime, and I've had that Bisquick since before I moved. In January. Surely it's still good? There's cheese and chocolate chips, so what more could a girl need?

Middle shelf:

Middle shelf

Most of that is edible, although the pre-cooked bacon behind the yogurt might not be good anymore. The sour cream is pretty much all gone, though.

Bottom shelf:

Bottom shelf

Old grapes, extra olive oil, pita, tortillas, perhaps some limes, and melting chocolate for fondue that I've yet to have.

That's it. That's all the food from my fridge, excepting the tubes of biscuits in the door. Pretty depressing, really. But hey. Black beans, tortillas, cheese and sour cream equals an awesome burrito.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Where did all this come from?

Do you ever look around your house and think, "When did I get so much stuff?!" I do it all the time. And I can't figure out where to put it.

I blame the media, naturally. I mean, I know that the people in magazines are airbrushed within an inch of their life, don't have to put in 40 hours a week behind a desk, were genetically blessed, spend an hour in hair and makeup before having their picture taken, and don't have to pick up their own dry cleaning. I get it. But in architecture/home decor magazines, there's the same concept.

These people staged their house for photos. It's probably their second house. There is surely a room somewhere stuffed to the gills with magazines they want to clip a recipe from, books they haven't read yet, Bed Bath and Beyond 20% off one item coupons that they got in the mail, blank CD-Rs, yoga blocks, stacks of paper with financial or sentimental significance, childhood treasures, and whathaveyou. (Can you tell what sort of things are cluttering up my life?)

Yet I look at these magazines and expect my house to be that streamlined. To look unlived in. No four remotes strewn across the coffee table. No Wiimotes. No TV antenna at all, and surely not on its side in the middle of the living room for best reception. People in magazines have cable.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Define "crowded"

I read an interesting tidbit yesterday that I've been kicking around in the back of my head. If every person on earth--all 6.8 billion of us--was given a quarter acre of land, it would cover 80% of Brazil.

That's it. Everyone on earth gets a forth of an acre (which is quite sizeable, and then think about how big each family's plot would be) and it doesn't even cover all of Brazil.

Granted, not all of the world is somewhere I'd particularly care to live, due to the weather--most of Canada and Russia, or large swaths of Africa, for instance--but we're clearly not overcrowding the joint. We should redistribute the population. Give us all our quarter acres!

I'd like my land in Orange County, please.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How do you know if you're giving a good cat massage?

Today's crazy video comes from the hillarious Everything is Terrible! All I can really say is "Whaaa?"

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday, bloody Monday

Ah, Monday, my old nemesis. Am I the only person who takes a Sunday afternoon nap and then doesn't sleep well at night, thereby making Monday even more miserable than it inherently is?

I've got a ridiculously busy week. No free night all week. I was going to try making grilled pizza tonight, but then I won't be able to run errands. Argh. No time!

Seems like a good opportunity for the greatest Saved by the Bell clip of all time.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Root, root, root for the home team!

I was on Southwest Airlines recently, and found an interesting trivia bit in the in-flight magazine. (The only thing I love more than in-flight magazines is Sky Mall. Seriously.) Apparently the Team Marketing Report tracks the price of seeing a baseball game, as defined as two adults and two kids tickets, two beers, four sodas, four hot dogs, parking, two programs, and two baseball caps. The lowest price? The Arizona Diamondbacks!

The D'backs came in at $114.24, well below the average of $196.89. I knew that the Yankees would be expensive ($410.88!) but I didn't think Arizona would be the cheaper. I figured Kansas City or somewhere kind of boring.

Anyway, it doesn't really mean anything, except that I'm always excited when something having to do with my hometown is in the news, especially when it's something positive.

In unrelated news, I took pictures of the sad contents of my refrigerator last night, and will definitely be posting them. There is seriously no food.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Finally, some service!

If you're looking for a good bank with a high-yield savings account, might I recommend HSBC? I have had a lot of trouble with other companies (particularly Delta, Qwest, and Chase. Although I do have to give credit to Chase for finally straightening things out. I'm not canceling my Chase card, but I'm not using it as my primary card anymore, either.). Anyway, for once I'd like to extol the virtues of a company, rather than complain about crappy service.

HSBC is largely an online bank, especially in the western US. There are no HSBC branches or ATMs here, but they don't charge you to use another bank's ATM. Most of the credit unions--including the one at work--don't charge a fee, so there's never a problem there. The interest on their online savings account is generally much higher than regular savings accounts. There's no monthly fee, no minimum balance requirement, no direct deposit requirement, and it only takes $1 to open. Sweet deal.

They recently changed the bill pay system so that the money debits from your account the day you initiate the transaction, ostensibly so that you have a better idea of your balance. (The cynic in me thinks they want to get out of paying the extra day's interest.) Anyway, I keep most of my money in savings rather than the online payment account, and because of the change, the way I set up my bills ended up having me being $13 overdrawn, which resulted in a $35 bank fee! But that's another tirade about absurd bank charges. It would be nice if they linked my accounts and just took it from savings, like my old credit union did, but the credit union is a different world. (My account number was four digits. They know everyone, and their account number, a lot of times. It's very Cheers-y.) I couldn't find my telephone access PIN to call them, so I just sent an email, explaining the situation and asking them to refund it as a one-time courtesy. And they did! No angry phone calls and letters and two month wait! That's what I like to see. They could have gotten persnickety and, since I was technically outside of the new guidelines, insisted that the fee stayed. But they reversed the charge and we all go on with our lives, but with a satisfied customer who is less likely to change banks.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What is the international symbol for "Duh"?

I went to Mimi's last night for fried zucchini and a muffin (and a dinner salad), and I was reminded of something that happened when I was in Arizona.

We had gone to PF Changs' for lunch (and there were a crapload of people there for lunch on a Friday. Shouldn't they have been at work?!) and decided what to order and put our menus down. Our slightly odd, certainly inconsistent waiter (hello, silverware?) came over and said, "I can see by the position of your menus that you're ready to order."

It was all we could do not to laugh in his face. I mean, "Looks like you're ready to order" is one thing, but to specifically explain that position of our menus alerted him to the fact that we had made our selection seemed so, so strange. Putting your menu down is a widely recognized way of signaling that you're ready; there's no need to explain it to us.

When he came by when we were finished and asked if we were done and ready for boxes, we dearly wanted to tell him, "As you can see by the position of my chopsticks on my plate, I have finished eating." But alas, we didn't. We certainly made fun of him after he walked away, though. So all's well that ends well.

Man, I could really go for some P.F. Chang's right about now.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

(500) Days of Summer review

Oh, you guys. Go see (500) Days of Summer. It is fabulous. Costuming, music, acting, writing, directing, cinematography...all beautiful.

Some are describing it as a romantic comedy. That is misleading. It is funny--incredibly funny, from the first ten seconds--and it is about a romantic relationship. But it is not a romantic comedy. Sandra Bullock does not appear. There's no "running down the sidewalk to reunite" scene. It's less joke-y and more true humor. It's not clever as much as it's smart. There's no "But such-and-such was ridiculously unbelievable." There's hope, but maybe everything isn't tied up in a neat little package.

What's interesting is that you know from the beginning that it's about a relationship that doesn't work out. And yet it is engaging and interesting and touching. Perhaps because it rings so true. I mean, most of our relationships are failed ones, no? It's a game you lose every time but once.

Also, a dance sequence to Hall and Oates' "You Make My Dreams" is always a good time.

Bottom line: totally worth the $5.50 I spent; would have been worth full-price. Go see it!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Unlock your blogs, people!

My last post was my 150th. Wow.

So, I'm a big fan of lurking on random strangers/vague acquaintances' blogs. It's nice to be able to pop in and see what the funny kid I had a class with in tenth grade is up to these days. (Dental school.) I usually find them linked to from blogs of mutual friends. Every now and then, though, I find ones that are locked. Grrr! Well. "By invitation only" I guess would be more accurate. The problem is, there's no "click here to e-mail the blog owner" link. So unless you have their e-mail already, you can't read it. Anyway, that takes away all the anonymity.

I guess that's the point; you're only sharing your news with people you know. But what do I care who reads it? I talk on my cell phone while I grocery shop. I like to think I add a measure of entertainment to strangers' lives. (Side note, why do people complain about people having personal conversations on their cell phone in public? For one thing, if they don't care, why do you? For another, would you be as annoyed if the other person was physically there? Probably not. And for yet another, you're missing out on some great fun. Instead of being annoyed, listen in! You might hear about how they only buy full-fat dairy products, or that the suspicious rash turned out to be nothing serious. It's good fun!)

Of course, other than what I had for dinner, I don't really get very specific about my life. Because my life is boring. So let me tell you about scones.

I made scones last night! Lemon scones, even. Really, I was looking for something to use up the buttermilk I had left over from another recipe I tried (Smitten Kitchen's birthday cake. Alas, I like my frosting much sweeter than that). So I looked up recipes on Tasty Kitchen that include buttermilk, and found one for lemon scones. Fortunately, I had a lemon that I was about to use to make granita because I can't eat an entire watermelon by myself, so I zested it first, added a splash of lemon juice to keep it fresh, and popped it in the fridge until I had some time to make the scones. This is how I decide what I cook. It becomes a crazy recipe chain. Aren't I efficient? (Except with milk. I'm always pouring out milk.)

Anyway. The scones weren't as sweet as I would have liked. Mostly because I like sugar. As in, will-eat-brown-sugar-by-the-spoonful like. Like like, even. But with some raspberry jam, they were pretty good. And then I remembered that I had some cream--from something else I made, I don't even remember what--so I whipped that up (and sweetened it, of course) and put it on top, and it was delightful! I highly recommend it. Or you can come over and have some at my house, because I made the scones snack-size, so I have like, two dozen scones sitting on my counter. Next to the so-so buttermilk biscuits I have left over from Sunday. I had a lot of extra buttermilk.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I have nothing to say lately

I know what you're thinking. It's been days since my last post. It's a scandal! It's an outrage! Yes, well, how long has it been since YOUR last post?

Really, I just haven't been feeling well, which has made me very boring. Also, having to go to work when I don't feel well makes me not like my job very much, which makes me...well, not boring, but also not pleasant. I really need to take a vacation. Or even better, not go out of town over a holiday weekend. Can I last until Labor Day? We'll see.

In other news, I wish I was more dispensable at work lately! It's good to be needed and everything, but there's nothing like dragging your miserable butt out of bed because who will correct the semicolon abuse and Dickinsonian capitalization? Won't someone please think of the children semicolons?!

Today's cooking tip is this: If you finally remember to take chicken out of the freezer to thaw overnight and think, "Ooh, a lime-garlic marinade might be delicious!" and end up having other dinner plans, don't let the chicken sit another day. The acid will actually "cook" the chicken partially (kind of like ceviche), and it will taste way too lime-y. Maybe I didn't add enough garlic, but I'm pretty sure it was the 48 hour marinade. Word to the wise. Just cook it and reheat it tomorrow. If you don't overmarinate it, it can be quite tasty. Perhaps the overly flavorful chicken will be balanced out in a pesto chicken pizza. I wonder if my pesto is still good. It's been in the fridge for...uh...a while.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Nice people: an endangered species

I was in line at Kohl's today (for the second time, actually, because I had two $10 off coupons, but I couldn't use them in the same transaction, so I bought stuff, took it out to the car, went in and checked out at the other registers. Score!) and I was behind a lady with a pretty massive pile of stuff. As it was my second time through, I only had one item. (For what it's worth, I only had two in the first transaction.) The lady looked at my one piece of clothing and asked if I wanted to go ahead of her. "No, that's all right," I told her. It really was. I didn't have anywhere specific to be, and I didn't mind waiting. "Are you sure?" she asked. I considered her pile. I decided to take her up on it. It took roughly two minutes of her time, but was so unusually thoughtful that it totally made my afternoon. We should all be more like that lady in Kohl's.