Friday, May 28, 2010

I think my job is making me dumb

To quote Pam Beesley, "I don't think it's many little girls' dream to be a receptionist."

I get like this periodically, when I think to myself, "This is what I went to college for?"  It's not exactly challenging, I have large chunks of time with nothing to do, and I just feel kind of wasted.  Being a secretary was never in my career plan.

The problem is, now all I'm qualified to do is more of this.  Oh, I could be an administrative assistant instead.  Or a medical secretary.  That'd be a big change.  If I really wanted to switch lines of work, I'd have to get more schooling/entry level/get more schooling and still be entry level.  And it would be difficult to find something that pays this much, unless I had at least another (more useful) bachelor's, and probably a master's.

And what do I do?  I still don't really want to be a public school teacher.  There's the medical field, but anything less than an RN would be a pay cut.  I don't really want to be a computer programmer, even if that is where the jobs (and money) are.

Or do I want to be a computer programmer?  I could sit alone at my desk all day, eating Milk Duds and Sun Chips (they're whole grain, thankyouverymuch) wearing not-a-dress.  It would be nice.  But oh, wait, again with the additional schooling.

Sigh.  I don't know.  Not true. I do know--I know I'll stay here and keep doing this until the end of time, or my brain becomes complete mush.  But at least the benefits are good.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Maybe I should hire a lawyer

Perhaps I have complained before about the coworkers who bathe in cologne, not water?  They're generally older individuals, so maybe their ability to smell has dulled.  Regardless, it's miserable.  The scent lingers in the air for ages.  Sometimes it's so bad I can actually taste it.  It happened again today, when Señor Smelly walked in with a question.  Four minutes later he's gone, but the memory of him lingers on and on.

I've mentioned it to the most common offender's manager, but it didn't seem to help much.  Sigh.  It makes me wish I was pregnant, because who wants to make a pregnant lady sick with their offensive cologne?  It's foolproof!

Anyway, a city planner in Detroit filed a lawsuit under the ADA, won $100,000 and people have to stop wearing scented products (read about it here, here, etc.).  Of course, she works for the city, but still.  Something needs to be done.  I have trouble breathing.  A few times I've actually had to leave the office because I was going to pass out.  It gives me terrible headaches.  It's the most awkward conversation to have, "Uh, your cologne makes me physically ill."  And some people are so pompous that they wouldn't take it well.  What do you do?  Anonymous letter?  Complain to the HR rep?  Lawsuit?  

Monday, May 24, 2010

No, seriously honey. Where are the kids?

This made me laugh today.  Also, the little girl is adorable.

Friday, May 21, 2010

They probably don't require RSVPs for barnyard parties

You know the old "Were you raised in a barn?!" schtick?  It took all my self control not to pull it out on someone today.

I got to work and found the following email waiting for me:

"Cathie,

"I believe I've neglected "RSVP"ing regarding the luncheon. Forgive my tardiness. Please include me in your list of attendees."

So, basically what you're saying is that you didn't RSVP, which you only realize now, on the day of the event.  Sorry, you say, but don't worry, BECAUSE I'M COMING ANYWAY.  No "is it too late to be included?"  No "would it upset your arrangements very much if I still came?"  Nope.  Just "hey, I'm sticking it to you, because I have no manners!"

Do people not understand the point of an RSVP?  Do they think the food magically just appears?

It just...it just makes me so mad.  So, so mad.  If you've passed the RSVP date, your only option is to come begging, cap in hand.  I wanted to email back and say, "Oh, I'm sorry, we didn't receive your RSVP, so we planned on you not coming.  Please be sure to join us next year."  But no, I can't, because the whole point of the luncheon is maintaining working relationships.

Okay, so maybe I'm taking things a little too personally.  I've been a bit of a basketcase this week, for reasons unknown.  Still.  These are high-ranking, respected individuals in the community, and they can't be bothered to shoot me an email in the MONTH since I sent out the invitations?  Poor form.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I love payday

Husband's paycheck deposits today, and mine tomorrow.  I love those two days when there's lots of money in our accounts.  Sure, pretty much all of it is already spoken for.  But at least for a little while, that money is all mine.  (Ours.)

Also, there's something to be said for getting checks in the mail on occasion, especially when you've been waiting for it for several months.  And then you go to your favorite Mexican restaurant for mini chiminichangas and a virgin daiquiri, because the prodigal money has returned.  And because you're going to the Home Depot anyway so you'll be right by it, and it would take just as long or longer to make your own tacos, and they really do have the best salsa....

And hey! When restaurant.com is running a super sale, you can get a $10 gift certificate (or four) for $1.20 each, making your favorite Mexican restaurant a teeny bit more affordable. So bring on the overpriced frozen drinks and the extra charge for more chips and sour cream!

Please note that you can also get the chips and salsa to go and give them to your favorite blogger.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Let's not talk about immigration

I'm not interested at this time in airing--or hearing--personal views on Arizona's SB 1070.  I will tell you that boycotting the state to punish everyone for the decisions of the lawmakers is pretty lame, especially in already-difficult financial times.  "We think some of you are jerks, so we're all going to act like jerks right back at you!"

But Google Reader recommended something to me that I have to share.  The city of Los Angeles has decided to boycott Arizona, so a member of the Arizona Corporation Commission wrote the mayor of LA a letter.  A letter that says, "You want to boycott us?  Fine.  A fourth of your electricity comes from Arizona.  We'll take that back, thanks."

I believe the correct reaction here is "Oh snap!"  I mean, California knows how to do rolling blackouts, right?  They could totally operate on 25 percent less power.  All the time.  With no foreseeable end.  No, it wouldn't negatively impact Angelinos to boycott Arizona, would it?

See the actual letter here.  And the article that points you to it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's like Sophie's Choice!

I think we've narrowed our bedding selection down to three.  "I like them all," he tells me.  "You're the woman.  You decide."  I don't think that's fair.  At all.

The finalists:
One:

Two:

Three:
Prices notwithstanding, which do you like the best?

All these years, I've been so wrong

A few years ago, a friend corrected me when I called a coat a jacket.  Or a jacket a coat.   I had used them interchangeably for years, but apparently there was a distinct difference, based on warmth.  I'm from Arizona.  It doesn't get cold enough to need a differentiation between jackets and coats.

Well, today I was shopping online for summer bedding, and apparently there are all these nuanced definitions between terms.  I've always used comforter and bedspread interchangeably, but it looks like I once again am woefully uneducated. Turns out a comforter is not the same thing as a bedspread (which goes all the way to the floor and is almost exclusively overwhelmingly frilly), which is similar to but not the same as a coverlet, as it doesn't reach the ground.  And then of course there's a duvet, which technically goes inside the duvet cover but is often used to refer to the cover itself.  And it goes on.  A quilt is often a coverlet.  Blanket appears to be a blanket term (p.s., I like puns) for any warmth-oriented covering.

While I appreciate the specificity--once I figured out the differences--it still doesn't do me much good.  Alas, I am locked in an epic battle of the will over the appropriate pattern and color scheme.  Oddly, it's the husband's tastes that tend towards the flowery and mine toward the geometric.  It doesn't help that our headboard and nightstands are red, which eliminates a good portion of the color wheel.  I guarantee we'd have purple bedding if it weren't for the red.  As it is I have to remind that purple doesn't go with red.

I'm struggling with what I like to call "the bread aisle problem."  I'm standing in an aisle full of nothing but bread, and I'm paralyzed but the number of choices.  All I need is bread, yo.  But do I need whole grain bread? Sourdough? Potato? Buttery split top?  The kind with the little seeds in it? (No.  Too much crunch for a piece of bread.)  Cinnamon swirl?  Do they have the kind without humiliated grapes?  What am I going to be doing with the bread?  Sandwiches?  What kind?  Grilled cheese?  Chicken salad? PB&J?  Toast?  My toaster can't accommodate the wider loaves.  French toast?  Too many choices!

Eventually, though, I just pick a loaf of bread.  And you know what?  It turns out okay.  So one of these days, we're going to just buy a comforter--or bedspread or duvet cover or whatever it ends up being--and everything will be just fine.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lemme tell you where you can put those coupons...

Another rant, if I may.  Lately, several Facebook "friends" have been posting pictures of their grocery shopping adventures.  "I got $153 worth of stuff for 83% off!"  "I saved $67!"  "I did an emergency tracheotomy on a choking guy and got a free package of bagels!"  "I saved an orphaned litter of kittens and got two-for-one on cat litter!"  That sort of stuff.

I'm really happy for them and everything, but I mostly just want to tell them to shut it.  I'm just happy that it has been over a month since we ran out of milk.  If I go to the grocery store once a week, we're sitting pretty.  I manage to feed my husband dinner almost every night, sometimes even with actual cooking!

I don't have time to scour the Smith's ads to see how I can leverage the double coupon promotion to my maximum advantage.  I certainly don't have time to make more than one trip to the store in a week.  I'm happy if there happens to be a coupon for something I need to buy, but I don't have what could reasonably be called a system.  You know why?  I have a job.  I spend 50 hours a week driving to, from, or sitting in my office.  Today I clipped my fingernails in the car at stoplights.  I come home to furiously clean and cook (and occasionally blog, heh) so that I can spend a few precious hours with my husband when he gets home from work before we have to go to bed and start the whole friggin process over.

It just seems so...gloat-y.  "I'm a stay-at-home mom, so I have time to organize my coupons and visit each store in order to save the most.  Look how much better I am than you."

So maybe I'm taking it a little too personally.  Maybe it's supposed to be inspirational.  Maybe it's Monday and I'm tired and not in the mood to come up with something to cook. Whatever.  But I still kind of want to slap someone around a little.

Feel free to skip the following grumpiness.

After taking care of all the insurance headaches from Fabulous Husband's surgeries (I hope), the drama has started with mine.  It's pretty minimal, really, but it's frustrating and I just can't wait the five hours until I can vent to said FH, so I have to do it here.

The day I went in for surgery, I had to pay $125 deposit to the surgical center.  I ended up owing them only $70 and change.  The doctor and anesthesiologist billed separately, which I paid a few weeks ago.  On Friday I got a refund check from the surgical center...for eight bucks.

So I call today, and she says, "Oh, we transferred part of your credit to the doctor side to pay the outstanding balance there."

Me: "I already paid that."

Her:  "No, it still shows a balance."

Me:  "I paid it May 4."

Her: "Did you put your account number on it?"

Me:  "I used YOUR online system!"

Her: "Oh.  Well, all I can tell you is to call the doctor's billing office, because it still shows a balance."

Now, maybe I'm crazy, but what I get from that is that I have now paid them twice, but it (all together now!) still shows a balance.

So now I have to go home, dig up the billing statement from the doctor's office, and call someone else tomorrow.  Who will probably tell me to call someone else.  Who will probably send me a check in four to six weeks.  As grateful as I am for insurance (husband's $4000 surgery cost us nothing but our premiums), it is always like this.  Always.  I'm not generally in favor of the new healthcare legislation, but I absolutely agree that the system is broken.  (But that's a different post for a different day.)

Meanwhile, in the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.

Iron Man 2 review

Am I the only person who thought the middle was dullsville, population Mickey Rourke?  I mean, let's face it--Iron Man is at its best when it is blowing something up or shooting off zingy one-liners.  Watching The Wrestler and Mr. Sean Hayes wannabe (I kept waiting for him to say "Just Jack!") go back and forth about English as a second language skills is really a buzz kill.  Give me pyrotechnics!  I came for butt kicking, not exposition.

(Semi-interesting tangent: although Sam Rockwell, who played Justin Hammer with a Just Jack twist, has been in  67 films and TV shows, I'm pretty sure the last thing I saw him in was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 1990. I don't exactly remember that movie in detail.)

Don't get me wrong, it's still a good time.  Robert Downey Jr plays the most lovable jerk in recent history.  Lots of explosions, lots of quips.  For the most part I did enjoy it.  I don't know if I'd say it was better than the first one, but it wasn't a disappointment.  (Unlike X-Men 3.  Sigh.)  Overall, a thumb's up.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Looks like Christmas!


One Amazon order, a thousand air pouches.

The greatest mystery of space exploration, solved

Friday, May 14, 2010

Text recognition software is not foolproof

...either that, or someone is a REALLY bad typer.

I recently cashed in my credit card rewards points for an Amazon gift certificate.  I split it with FH.  He spent his on merchandise themed after his favorite football team.  I spent mine on kitchen tools that will ultimately improve everyone's lives, because last I checked everyone here likes to eat.

But I digress.  On the back of my steamer basket is this amusing text:
Try steam cooking fresh vegetabies to Enhance their fiavor and to preserve nutrients. Stearner basket expands up to 9" in diameter to fit a variety of pans.  When preparing large vegetables such as corn-on-the-cob, the center post is removable.
Notice how l turns into i and m becomes rn?  Good times.

Giving up

I do hate to give up on a book, but I think I'm going to have to put Vanity Fair back on the shelf until a later day (or better edition).  The surgery didn't help, as I was too stoned to comprehend anything more complex than "Do you need more water?" and therefore went quite some time without picking it up.

It's not that the book is boring, per se, so much as that it requires a more in-depth knowledge of early 19th century London than I currently have.  So I find myself constantly flipping to the end of the book, which is incredibly annoying.  What's wrong with footnotes?  If it's so vital that you need to include a note on it, shouldn't you include it on the SAME DANG PAGE?  But also, please don't give away the plot in the notes.  This edition kind of did, which also makes me not as eager to finish it.  (When I was in college, a professor forbade us from reading the footnotes of a particular novel, as they freely discussed the plot and would ruin it.  I accidentally read one, which gave away the whole ending.  Lame.)

Of course, on the flipside of that is the completely unnecessary notes.  "In the manuscript, Becky goes on to say..." is not really something I need to know.  I'm not reading the book to learn everything I possibly can about the process of writing it, nor am I reading it to determine how thorough the editor's research was.  I just want to read the book.  THOSE are the notes that belong at the very end of the book.

So yes, I'm moving on.  I'm currently in the middle of both The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Tennis Shoes among the Nephites, the latter being really rather terrible thus far.  FH reminds me that it is a children's book, but I say that has nothing to do with it.  Harry Potter is ostensibly a children's series, and I think it's wonderful, so there.  I think the mark of a really good children's book is that it doesn't talk down to them, but instead invites them to step up to a higher level.  (One of these days I'm going to make a vocabulary test to show how not-childlike the language is. Also, my kids will be extra cool because I have the British edition, so it will be multicultural, too.)

What are you reading?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

When is enough enough?

Perhaps you've read the multitude of articles (and comics and tweets) lately about how Facebook doesn't give a crap about your privacy (or the law?). Reasons you should quit Facebook.  Eroding privacy in the default settings.  Security holes. I could go on.  Suffice it to say, Facebook has turned into a big bully, pushing everyone around just because they can.  They say that it just reflects the changing mores in regards to privacy, but I disagree.  I still enjoy keeping some things private.

"But Cathie," you say, "You have a public blog.  Surely privacy isn't a huge concern for you."  Ah, but there's the rub.  My blog is public, and always has been.  I knew that when I signed up, and if I want to change that, it's easy to do.  It's bait-and-switch for Facebook to sign me up for a service that allows me to share information with my set group of friends, then gradually expand that information to the entire internet (as well as advertisers and "partner" sites Yelp, Pandora, and Microsoft Docs).

So what's a girl to do?  Facebook clearly has no respect for me as anything but a revenue source.  I'd prefer to delete my account entirely.  But what of the 149 dear, close friends I'd leave behind?  Okay, I don't have that many actual friends.  I'd estimate 2/3 of my friends list either don't ever login, rarely post, or aren't particularly interesting or relevant at this point in life.  I daresay I'd live just as well without Facebook as I did before I ever signed up.  I bet I could get by just fine with my blog, email, Twitter, and Buzz.

Who's with me?  Shall we all permanently delete our Facebook accounts?  Take back the internet!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Have you any dreams you'd like to sell

I find that often even my most random dreams can be tied to something that occurred during the day.  I normally don't tell stories about my dreams, because no one really finds them that interesting; they just listen politely so they can tell you about the crazy dream they had recently.  But it's my blog, and I'll bore if I want to.

So in my dream last night, a friend of mine had a pet rattlesnake.  We were playing with it (because what else do you do with a pet rattlesnake?) and it bit me on the side.  It only barely grazed the skin, so it wasn't a big deal.  Then it bit me on the arm, nice and deep.  It was a big deal, and yet dream-me didn't seek medical advice.  Because apparently pet rattlesnake venom won't kill you like wild rattlesnake venom.


I woke up thinking how weird it was that I was being bit by rattlesnakes in my dreams, and then I realized that the arm that got "bit" happens to have a large bruise in that spot, thanks to a poorly performed needle stick (I told them not to use the right arm!).  I must have been putting pressure on the bruise in my sleep--heaven knows it doesn't take much to make me wince.

So there you have it--bad needle-caused bruise yields rattlesnake bite dreams.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The most beautiful sight in the world


...is your husband vacuuming while you lounge on the couch.

Granted, this is from when I was home sick from the surgery, but I think have vacuumed exactly once since we started dating.  It's nice.  Very nice.

Happy Friday indeed.

I write this on my phone as I walk to my car.

When management took us to lunch for Secretary's Day, they asked how they could make us feel appreciated. "My old boss used to let me leave early," I told him. They laughed. "No, really, he did."

I feel appreciated. Of course, I think I'll use the time to run work errands, anyway. Still. If I leave five minutes early, my commute is eight or ten minutes faster.

Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Don't use it if you don't know what it does

Much like people using big words that they don't know what they mean, I am weary of people who use punctuation without understand its function.  Long story short, individual at work called "editor" has very little editing skills.  I kind of lost count, but I think I counted nine punctuation errors in one article today?

Look, I'm a little biased.  I wanted that job.  I have the skills for it, it pays more, and I would have my own office.  An office with windows.  Office politics, etc., they give it to someone without even a "hey, this position is open" announcement.

Still.  Two "editors" read the article, and clearly not another soul but me knows how to use a semicolon.  Seriously kids, it's not hard.  Connecting independent clauses and separating units in a series when one or more unit has a comma.  For the general population, that's as much as you need to know.  It does get more detailed; some sites will tell you that it's acceptable to use a semicolon when introducing a list, but I strongly favor a colon.  (Am also an advocate for Oxford [or serial] comma in general. Ask me later.)

I've seen semicolons used when they should have used a comma, colon, em dash, etc.  But oh, don't even get me started on dashes.  Hyphen when it should be en dash, en dash when it should be em dash...the horror!  The horror!

Uh, I think I feel way too strongly about punctuation.  Maybe I'll just stop here and go read the Chicago Manual of Style.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I'm dying back here!

I love the Snickers commercial with Aretha Franklin, but I only just saw the full version.  Even better than I thought.  Enjoy!

Menu planning redux

"I've just had an apostrophe."
"I think you mean epiphany."

I was coming up with dinner ideas the other day, and I came up with the best system for meal planning.  For once I went to the store and bought actual food, as opposed to milk and toiletries like I usually do.  I bought enough food that I think I could go two weeks and only have to pick up more milk (maybe; milk usage varies widely depending on how much time I have for breakfast).  Our lovely realtor had sent us a calendar full of pretty pictures of places that I'll never be able to afford to go to, so I grabbed it off the bookshelf and started writing in dinner ideas, one on each night.  Rather then moving them around on my weekly calendar (but I still love you, Betty Crocker), I can just cross off the day that we eat it.  So today may be Wednesday but we have Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday crossed off for the week because I was just really in the mood for french toast.  If I want to eat something from two weeks from now, I just cross it off and pick something else that day.  Or what if someone invites us over for dinner and I don't end up making what I had planned?  Back ups!

It's absolute genius, I tell you!  It results in effective grocery shopping (what, we can't have Special K for dinner every night?) and meal flexibility.

I assure you, though, that we are having black bean and chicken quesadillas for dinner tonight, because it's Cinco de Mayo and I have fresh cilantro.  That's more than enough reason.

I lose weight, but I always find it again

For some strange reason, as I was walking to my car yesterday after work, I was thinking about ways that I've lost weight in the last ten years or so.  Some have been more effective than others.  Frankly, I don't seem to do well when I'm intentionally trying to lose weight, but it just seems to happen as a result of other circumstances.  I'm not trying to lose weight right now (dude, that's why I got married!), but I am trying the Wellness Challenge at work, which requires exercise and moderation in watching TV.  I'm mostly doing it for the money, but increased health would be nice too, I guess.  Anyway, here are my weight loss "success" stories.

In my high school days, you had to have two PE credits.  We were the only school district in the state that required more than one.  I took racquet sports during summer school my freshman year.  We mostly played badminton and ping pong (I'm much better at the former than the latter) with a dash of racquetball and tennis (again, former over latter).  I then put off the other credit and a half until my senior year.

For the half credit, I did correspondence bowling through BYU.  I'm quite terrible, but I do know how to hand score a game, so I guess that's worth something.  Bowling isn't exactly a challenging sport, anyway.  You can eat WHILE you play.  There are cup holders built into the equipment!

For the other credit, though, I took an actual PE class, specifically aerobics.  I wound up with it first hour, lucky me.  Actually, it was pretty nice to have it first in the day, rather than in the afternoon when the day (and lack of sleep the previous night) had caught up with me.  We did three days of aerobics--step, kickboxing, running (shudder), etc.--and two days of weight training in the circuit room.  It was actually a really well-designed class.

I also changed my eating habits quite a bit.  Not in an intentional effort to lose weight, but more in an attempt to never be hungry.  My stomach is not very elastic, and I really try to keep it that way.  It takes less food for me to feel full, which is rather desirable.  So I would have a Sunny D in A-hour, a granola bar or Honey Nut Shredded Wheat in 2nd hour, a Go-gurt in 4th hour, something smallish for lunch (often a salad or bagel) in 6th hour, a snack before rehearsals/when I got home (varied, but I did eat a lot of microwave popcorn that year), and then whatever was for dinner.  Basically, I was eating every two hours.  It wasn't the greatest food, but it also wasn't terrible.  I was still probably getting more vegetables and whole grains than half the school.

The results?  Over the nine months of the school year, I lost at least 30 pounds.  I don't know how much exactly, because I never knew exactly how much I weighed at the beginning of the year.  When we were weighing ourselves in PE using the balance beam scale, I reached a point where I just didn't want to slide the thing over anymore.  It was sufficient to know I weighed at least a certain amount, and the actual amount would no doubt have been depressing.

My weight went up and down a bit in college and afterwards; five years after I graduated high school my weight was up 15 or 20 pounds from my lowest.  Then I went to the MTC, where food was all you can eat.  Fortunately, the food was also terrible cafeteria food.  I knew boys who managed to gain 11 pounds in two weeks(!), but because I was eating Frosted Flakes (even the cereal selection was lousy!) two to three times a day, I managed to lose 7 or so pounds in three weeks.  Not a plan I would generally recommend.

Then, when I was actually on my mission, I developed vertigo.  Nothing helped, and all the diagnoses were apparently wrong.  One of the steps in my ridiculous treatment was a low-sodium diet.  Because we ate with members every night, I didn't have a lot of control over the amount of sodium in my dinner, so I attempted to have no sodium during the day to compensate for whatever I'd eat at night.

Newsflash: No sodium diets are inherently bland.  Sure, you can use lots of great herbs and spices, but I did not have that kind of time.  So food tasted lousy and I didn't eat as much of it.  This is probably better than the all-cereal diet, though not great.  Still, my companion had gained forty pounds, so I had that going for me.  We were at one lady's house and she looked at me and said, "Your ankles are so skinny! Have you been losing weight?"  I told her I didn't really know, because we didn't have a scale, so she went and brought hers down to the kitchen to make me weigh myself.  Voila!  Another ten pounds gone.

Recently, of course, I got my tonsils out.  This did not result in the weight loss one would expect.  Despite basically not eating for a week, I really only lost a pound or two.  My voice teacher said it looks like I lost weight, but that can happen from day to day or depending on what I'm wearing.

I'm really not interested in radical health or exercise plans.  Jillian Michaels scares me, and the p90x guy gets on my nerves FAST.  I can only stand so much protein in a day.  I enjoy eating Doritos.  Sure we're making little changes here and there; I'm gradually switching out all my plastic storage containers for glass or things I know are BPA free.  I'm trying to plan meals and cook more from scratch.  I make my own frosting, which doesn't actually make it healthy, but at least it makes it preservative free.  I stopped by WinCo on my way home from voice last night, and am delighted at all the potential in the bulk food section.  We've been wanting to make our own trail mix for a while now, because store-bought ones inevitably include humiliated grapes.  Will it change our lives?  Probably not.  But as anyone who has ever taken a jar of change to Coinstar knows, a little change eventually add up to a lot.  And hey, I might even lose some weight.

But don't worry.  It always finds its way home eventually.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I haven't seen The Reader...

I don't know why I have resisted Google Reader for so long.  It is so convenient.  I would sometimes forget to check a site that didn't update frequently, or else end up constantly checking sites to see if they've updated again.  If you follow a lot of blogs, you should use it.  Makes life so much easier.

But every time I go to my Reader, I think of one handsome Australian, Hugh Jackman, singing his opening number at the Oscars.  That man is like golden.  Voice of an angel. I'm glad my husband--unlike my LEb (loser ex-boyfriend)--doesn't mind that I find Hugh attractive, because I do.

Anyway.  His song is funny.  I would embed the video in case you didn't see the Oscars last year, but they have it disabled.  Grrr.  Click through.  It's worth it.

Cinnamon (fat) rolls

I made the Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls on Saturday.  If you're unfamiliar with the Pioneer Woman, you ought to be.  Her cooking is the kind of butter-drenched, no-nonsense food that appeals to me, a normal person.  Well, she uses a lot of onions, but other than that, it's great.  That's what comes from living on a ranch, I think.

Anyway, Bakerella, another food blogger I follow, made PW's cinnamon rolls.  She did a half batch, which seemed far more reasonable to me.  (I still had plenty to give away, even with a half batch.)  The recipe includes a maple frosting, but I really don't like maple that much.  So I whipped up a batch of cream cheese frosting (what is with me making my own frosting lately?!) and holy cow, I'm pretty sure that's what heaven tastes like.  I had three on Saturday, which is pretty dangerous, considering all the butter and sugar involved.

Be advised, it is a time-intensive recipe.  You scald the milk and let it cool--one hour.  Add yeast and flour, let rise--another hour.  Add the rest of the ingredients, roll out, roll up, bake--another hour.  Yes, three hours of my Saturday went to slaving over cinnamon rolls while the FH was out hitting a bucket of golf balls.  But oh my, was it ever worth it.

The Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls (half batch)
2 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup sugar (divided)
1 package dry active yeast (2 1/4 tsps)
4 1/2 cups flour (divided)
1/2 heaping tsp baking powder
1/2 scant tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup melted butter (I used 1/2 cup quite successfully)
Cinnamon

Mix milk, oil, and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan.  Heat until just before boiling (i.e., scald), but turn it off before it starts to boil!  Let it cool to lukewarm, about 45 minutes.

Sprinkle on yeast, let sit for one minute.  Add 4 cups flour, stir just till combined.  Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for one hour.

After an hour, add the last 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir until thoroughly combined.

Roll out the dough into a large rectangle.  Spread with 1 cup melted butter (or 1/2 cup, if like me, you have an  unholy terror of that much melted butter), sprinkle with 1 cup sugar and a healthy portion of cinnamon.  Make sure you get it on the edges, or those end rolls will be sad and empty.  Then, starting with the edge farthest from you, roll the dough towards you tightly.  Cut into slices (PW says 3/4 to 1 inch, Bakerella said 1 1/2 inches.  I got 30 instead of 25, so mine were on the short side.  It means you can eat two instead of one).

Pour a tablespoon or so of melted butter in the bottom of your pan (again with the butter?) and toss your rolls in, touching but not too tight.  Let them sit for 20-30 minutes, then bake at 375 for 13-17 minutes, until light golden brown.

You can follow the link for the maple frosting, or whip up an easy cream cheese frosting:
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup softened butter
2 scant cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Whip till delicious.  You should wait till they're cool to frost them, but I like to live on the edge and eat them right away.  It was fine.  Take that, conventional wisdom!

Anyway, yes, make these.  Sure, they weren't ready until 2 pm, but it was still the best breakfast ever  (and the best dessert last night!).  I don't do the pretty step-by-step pictures, but PW and Bakerella do, so you're all set.

Go.  Bake.  Eat.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Spam sushi

Am I the only one who gets obviously spam comments with a mystery link to what is no doubt some virus-infested site?  I don't know my Asian languages well enough to determine what language it is (Chinese, maybe?) but all I know is that they're really annoying.  I--like most people--get all excited when I see that I have a new comment, and then there's the big letdown.  "Oh.  Spam.  Awesome."

At least the spambots think I'm worthwhile, though, right?

I want it, though I know I'll never get it

Some of the lights in my house are still very ugly brass "boob" lights.  I want to replace them, but I want to replace them with attractive, interesting lights.

Although I'm rather confident that the (usually) fabulous husband would draw the line, I want this chandelier for my kitchen:


Is it not spectacular?  I think it would make those terrible kitchen tasks--like hand washing my awesome  knives and scrubbing cast iron pans with salt--just a little more enjoyable.  But alas, I'm almost sure it's not to be.  My husband may be a dandy (we joke that he's a gay man who likes women), but I think this might be a bit much, even for him.

See cjane's thoughts on the chandelier.