Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Hunt for a Recipe Box

When I think of cooking, I think of my mom's olive green recipe box and her carefully penned white index cards containing centuries of culinary secrets. I know she has shelves of cookbooks, and I know she can be creative to come up with new foods, but that recipe box was the go-to spot for deliciousness. Both of my grandmothers had recipe boxes. Several family friends have recipe boxes. I, on the other hand, do not yet have one.

Early last week, I got it in my head that I needed to get one. I thought of what kind and size I might want, dreamed up pretty colors, even designed my own recipe cards to match. All I wanted was a wooden box about 6.5" wide to hold a 4" x 6" recipe card, wooden so that I could paint and decorate as I pleased. Michael's didn't have large enough wooden boxes--unless I wanted to paint one bigger than a shoebox. Several stores had photo storage boxes, but I don't need a foot-long box. After visiting Michael's, Jo-Anns, Bi-Mart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Fred Meyer, The Inkwell, and Creative Crafts, I'm under the impression that recipe boxes cannot be purchased in this stupid town. I'm holding out hope for K-Mart, much as I dislike that place, but where else can I go? I picked up some $2 crappy recipe boxes made out of thin paperboard at Michael's in the hope of painting them, but acrylics won't stick to the paperboard.

Bi-Mart had a super-cute Hershey's tin recipe box that I'm thinking might end up being mine. I was dead-set on designing my own box or having a plain one, but if nothing else that will work. It also comes with recipe cards and dividers, but I can't decide if the $12 price tag is worth it. *sigh*

I've thought about using a cheap photo album, but those never lay flat and stay open. I thought about using a 3-ring binder and using photo pages, but the orientation for most photo page holders is wrong. I thought about making all of my recipes as full-page cards, but most cookie recipes don't need that much square footage. I've thought about digitizing everything and not using any cards or pages, but I can't really do that with a desktop computer quite a distance from the kitchen.

Cooking, to me, involves that green recipe box. That ugly green box with Mom's handwriting on the blue-lined index cards. The index cards shared from other people. The people we know who have given us some of their family treasures. The green recipe box full of treasures.

I want my box full of treasures too.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Operation Stick-it-to-The-Man

I tried so hard to "Stick it to The Man." "The Man" figured a way around it (finally) though, so now I have to change my tactic. First, note that in this post, "The Man" refers to the same "Man" as "Uncle Sam" and "The U.S. Government." (no references to 'my' The Man in this, so don't get confused)

It all started about three years ago when I began paying back my student loan. I don't have a hefty loan or anything, enough for three years of tuition only at a state school, something completely do-able in ten years. I'm absolutely fine with having to pay the loan back, and I haven't been late with a single payment. "The Man" informed me that I'd have to pay the full amount plus interest for ten years, but if I made the payments electronically I could save 0.25% from the total cost of the loan. After a little math, I realized that I'd save approximately $16 over ten years. Wah-hoo, yippee, enough for a gourmet burger!

It was costing "The Man" $0.40 to send me each bill, so over the ten years it'd really add up. I was actually costing Uncle Sam more than he was offering me, so I did things the old-fashioned-through-the-mail way. And it worked.

After a while, I realized I could opt to pay things online manually every month, not by an automatic deduction, but by actually logging in and confirming a transaction. I liked that amount of control, plus it saved me the postage. Meanwhile, "The Man" still had to fork it over for postage to send me a bill. Operation Stick-it-to-The-Man was working perfectly for two years!

I just got my most recent bill in the mail from Uncle Sam. "The Man" informed me via six pre-scheduled coupons that I would save an extraordinary 0.25% on my loan if I allowed them to auto-deduct payments (not just pay online with clicks when I wanted, but give them permission to access my account monthly). They've changed their tune. AND THEN... they sent me six pre-scheduled vouchers for me to send them payment in the mail, therefore cutting their six stamps down to one. Operation Stick-it-to-The-Man has finally hit a roadblock. I'm no longer costing the government more than they were offering to discount my loan.

My plan now is to continue paying exactly as I have been: one month at a time using real interaction on my part. I hate that Comcast makes me give them permission to auto-deduct, and there's no way I'm allowing Uncle Sam to do the same.

It really did feel good to force them to send me paper statements and bills. I'm going to miss getting mail as often. Curse the Internet!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Good Help is Hard to Come By, Indeed

What is the name of the person who empties your trash can at work? What is the name of the person who sweeps the floor or makes the copies or sorts the mail? Do you think about the bus boy when you go to a restaurant, or do you only tip the waiter/waitress who you actually see? Think about it for a while and consider what your money pays for at a grocery store or the post office or when you're shopping for clothes.

Having been one of those lucky few at the bottom of the totem pole for quite a while, I'm tuned in to the unsung heroes of the business world. I know the copy machine guy, the painters, the mail delivery and UPS people, and even the Office Max delivery guy. We're on a first-name basis. And that's important to me because I know they'll be more likely to give me personalized (good!) service should I need it.

I think this trend in me started in grade school. Mom would ask me what I did in any given day, and I'd tell her: I talked to Harvey the Custodian, Ms. Martin the Secretary, and probably a few teachers and many students. Harvey was a nice guy who always kept the school looking fantastic. He'd help kids clear their table in the lunchroom, and he'd polish the floors after they got muddy. Harvey was a tall man with a big beard and kind eyes. He always smiled at me, but he never really talked much. Ms. Martin was another story! She was a very nice woman who worked at the front office window. I always stopped to say hi to her on my way to my classroom every morning. We shared the same birthday, so when Mom would bake cupcakes for me to take to school (yes, in her own kitchen, and nobody died), she'd always pack an extra cupcake for Ms. Martin. In fifth grade, I didn't get assigned to the teacher Mom wanted me to have, so she took it up with Ms. Martin the Secretary, and in less than ten minutes she switched me from Room 2 to Room 6 (or whatever they were). It paid to be on her good side.

Next time you go out, try to be nice to the waiters/waitresses and other helpful people. I know they may seem like mindless drones, but I bet they're just tired of dealing with rude people. They're tuned to do just enough to not make you mad. Instead, be gracious, and you just might find your cup a little bit more full or your clothes wrapped a little bit more neatly.

It's not about a huge tip or bowing and scraping or whatever. Please be kind to people who help you, that's all I'm asking.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I do not like iPods or their oblivious owners!

I have a thing against iPod users. It's not because I don't like listening to music--not my favorite--but because the dinky machine owners have nearly killed me several times. I don't have a problem with the device itself, nor do I have a problem with people using them at home. It's when people listen to iPods while walking around town ignoring traffic that I have an issue. It's when I see two thin white wires traveling up to ears on a cyclist who is weaving to the beat nobody else can hear that I really get frustrated.

I thought there was a law that said cyclists' ears cannot be covered or filled by any substance that inhibits hearing. I am certain that noise-canceling headphones ought to be illegal for cyclists if they're not already. Think about it: as a cyclist, you're contending with vehicles much bigger and much less maneuverable than you, and yet you would prevent yourself from being able to hear a car approaching from behind you? Do you think it's a good idea to wear headphones that distract you from traffic so much that you become a hazard?

And even worse, I see people roaming the university campus with their headphones in, people completely oblivious to their surroundings. IN THE DARK. I'm not just picking on women either, though I think the risk for them is slightly higher. Why on earth would you put listening to music at a higher priority than safety? Why is music so incredibly important that you have to tune out the world and not watch for cars or bicycles or other people, other humans that you might potentially have to interact with, *oh, the horror!*

Maybe it's a sign of my age, a crusty and crotchety 20-something (I think not). Maybe it's because I don't buy into the next iFad (the only Mac I use is a full-size computer at work--that I didn't get a choice about). Maybe it's because I think people should always be aware of who and what is around them. Whatever the reason, iPods users frustrate me to no end.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

There are no movies about corrupt firemen

How many movies can you name about corrupt cops? About corrupt businessmen, lawyers, politicians, or even parents? There are dozens if not hundreds. In fact, the storyline about the corrupt cop seems easy to retell: five or six guys on the squad figure out that one or two guys are scamming from the pension fund, set them up to get busted if they're not let in on the money, and then they all end up corrupted. In the end, all of the bad cops are either jailed or killed, usually after a 3.07 minute car chase and a shoot-out. Yeah. I've seen a few of them.

But have you ever seen a movie about a corrupt fireman? I could be wrong, but I can't think of any. Why do you guess this is?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"I want to do the taxes." "No, you did them last year, it's my turn!"

We think we have all of our tax information so we'll get to work on them soon. Hopefully the refund will be big since we're two people living on my one income (and lemme tell ya, state employees aren't nearly as well-paid as we're made out to be). I think we both get excited around tax time. The Man has an MBA, and I am very detailed about filing taxes, so we were actually sort of in a spat about who could do the taxes last night. Not a real fight, nothing big, but we resolved to both be present for any and all tax preparation sessions. It's only fair to both be involved, plus it's an awesome double-check with every calculation or decision. We'll be using TaxSlayer to file (it's cheap, it's awesome, and it's fast!). No, we won't be helping anyone else file their taxes: we won't be responsible for someone else's taxes.

How many couples do you know that discuss who gets to file taxes because they're excited to do them? We're weird, I just know it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

10 Things that Make Me Happy

According to Miss Kris, I'm supposed to write down '10 Things that Make Me Happy' and then tag two more people who should do the same.

1. visits from the snuggle/squnch/smoochy monster
2. being at home with my new hubby
3. a book so good I never want to finish it
4. soft cookies (I only discriminate against fruit, nuts, and coconut)
5. new shoes
6. accomplishing everything I set out to do for the day
7. making people laugh
8. massages
9. Amie Jean Jumping Bean
10. watching a satisfying movie with friends

I'm tagging "Jules" and "Randomaestro"

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Two Day Weekends are Too Short

Yesterday was fun aside from both of us having nasty headaches. We don't think it's something we ate or drank, just a factor of being tired and not getting food at the right times (six hours between meals does not sit well with either of us, and I forgot granola bars, stupid me). A little Excedrin for him and a dark room for me, and we were feeling fine by bedtime.

We went to Salem to The Man's first elementary school reunion. Everyone from the 150-year school history was invited for dinner and a tour of the building. We dined on fancy salad (weeds! covered in ranch!), some interesting spaghetti, and grocery store cake (the gag-me frosting kind). I'm not complaining about the food--ate just about everything on my plate--but it was an interesting way to feed an older crowd. I'd recently gotten a private tour of the school, so we skipped the tour, but it was nice to visit his early stomping grounds.

Today included Operation Menu Planning and shopping, week 4. We've been planning weekly menus and sticking to them for a month now in an effort to make our lives easier and less expensive. I don't know if it's working yet financially, but I love not having to worry about what to make for dinner each night. We generally leave one night open for whatever strikes our fancy (was waffles last Friday, a fun and inexpensive choice). This has also eliminated the desire to eat out for dinner since we know we already have ingredients to cook our own food.

Additionally, I've tried to make a batch of cookies each week. I don't know if homemade cookies are healthier than Chips Ahoy or Keebler, but they certainly do taste better. The only downside is that they do taste so good that we end up eating lots of them. I need a way to cut out the butter. I'd feel much less guilty about gobbling down oatmeal cookies if they weren't two-sticks-of-butter-thick (*drool*).

I really wish this was a three-day weekend. Really, really, really wish. Yeah. *sigh*

Friday, January 22, 2010

TGIF, no really

Was this really a four-day week? I swear it was seven or eight from last Monday to today. Our weekend plans are varied and usual... nothing super exciting. We're learning to love weekends at home without too much craziness. Of course, a good adventure never hurts, and we might just get one Saturday evening, but we shall see.

My night includes feeding a bunch of boys, entertaining myself while they play video games, and then perhaps a movie if I'm feeling daring. Or if I'm still awake.

Because I really don't want to be awake beyond say, 6pm. My week was that good. :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

All White

Remember how I said The Man gave me two roses? One of them was red. This was the white rose. Not sure what else to say about it other than that it was beautiful!

The roses ended up lasting almost two weeks. Not bad!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Life With the Saints: A Book Review

It's not often I wish a book would never end.

For my baptism, my mother-in-law gifted me My Life With the Saints by James Martin S.J. The Man and I started reading it together since we both wanted to read it so badly, and now, seven months later, we have finally finished the book. We took turns reading aloud, some nights a full chapter, and some months only a small section (kinda got sidetracked with the whole "getting married" bit in the fall).

Each chapter is about a different saint, a different encounter that Martin has experienced, a vivid history and richness in storytelling so rare in biographical books. Indeed, the book is as autobiographical as it is about other lives. The interweaving of present and past made the book relevant as well as inspirational. Even if you don't believe in saints, you can learn something from the history, the people who really lived incredible lives.

We've started into some of Scott Hahn's books now, and they're much too heady and wordy compared to Martin's eloquence. I don't mean to gush, but the guy has a way with words! We gave a new copy of the book to some friends who got married on the same day we did, and hopefully they'll get as much out of it as we did.

My Life With the Saints is one of the most informative and pleasurable books I've ever read, and I highly recommend reading James Martin S.J. next time you have a hankering for information about your faith.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Every Holiday was Celebrated

While cleaning the bedroom closet this weekend, I made a point of going through every greeting card I've kept. I should rephrase that and say that we went through every greeting card sent to me ever. Mom kept the cards from my baby shower even. We had a stack over two feet tall to sift through. I sorted them into piles by sender. My Aunt D had the largest stack with grandparents and Mom coming in a close second. I noticed that one set of grandparents tended to give me interactive cards with mazes or coin slots or something fun in them. The other set of grandparents either made the cards or personalized them in some way. Aunt D, though, wow. Every birthday, Valentine's Day, Easter, and Christmas, and quite a few Halloween cards (even though my birthday is three days after Halloween). I couldn't keep the stack upright! My life story could be told in Hallmark cards (and yes, the vast majority of the cards were genuine Hallmarks).

We went through all of our wedding shower and wedding cards, keeping the ones with nice messages or from special people. I tossed most of the little cards that were attached to gift bags though. I chucked all of the Christmas cards from old coworkers... no offense, but if I can't remember who they are, the card goes. "Love your friend Susie." Susie who?

I also rediscovered the two cards given to me from my husband while we were dating. Neither of us really enjoy reading wordy cards, so his were the most simple: I (heart) U. He'd cut the hearts out of shiny yogurt lids. They were pretty awesome and still make me smile.

I still don't understand the yogurt lid bit, but then again I don't always understand him. Oh well.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What it Meant to be Secular

Everyone around me loved labels. They still do. I had friends who fit into neat little religious boxes, into their various titled denominations. There was a Mormon, a Lutheran or ten, a Mennonite few, the Catholic crowd, the Baptists, the no-churchers-for-a-reason group, and me. Nobody could stick a label on me. I was raised a sort of generic Christian without a title, a group to belong to, a quick way of identifying who I was to people. Until I decided to become Catholic, the problem persisted. Even now, trying to explain to people (even people who know me well, The Man for example) how I was raised is confusing and time consuming. Armed with a vast religious vocabulary as a result of my two-year-long conversion, I attempted to explain it last night on the drive home from my parents'. This is what I came up with (from the Catholic perspective):

What does it mean to be Catholic? There is The Church, the two-thousand-year history and depth of religious thought. There is The Church, the more than billion people who claim the faith. There is The Church and it's Sacred Tradition, all that is Christianity not summarized in the Bible. Of course, The Bible exists in Catholicism too (yes, really). There is Mystery and devotions and all the little things that support our faith, that make us wonder, that keep us grounded, all the little things that become the lens through which we see our world.

My faith as a teenager was so incredibly different, yet the same at its core. I didn't have The Church. I didn't have history outside of Biblical history or whatever history I learned in public schools (which was surprisingly full since we covered Noah's Ark, David and Goliath, and several other famous stories in class). I didn't have Tradition, and our only traditions included the standard holidays. There was no Mystery, no little things, nothing but the Bible. I was raised a Protestant without a church to call my own. To this day, that's fine with me. I used reason and science to understand my world. I celebrated Easter and Christmas, Halloween and Valentine's Day just like all the other Christians in Hallmarkville. It wasn't blind faith, and it wasn't misunderstood faith.

An example I gave The Man was about how I approached The Bible. Several people have told me that the sum total of all Christian thought and knowledge is contained within the Bible. They tell me I don't need a single book besides that one to live my life. As a high school student attending youth group and hearing this, I balked hard. The pastor and I went around and around about it. I didn't understand how all it is to be human, and all it is to understand grace, and everything I see and do can be contained within one book. There has to be more. I've always known and believed in more. Now, as a Catholic, I get more. I believe in so much more. I get Tradition, Sacred Mystery, and the little things that help me understand my faith beyond The Bible. I get The Church that Christ himself instituted years before the Bible. And I feel like I'm not lying to myself anymore.

Being secular meant I didn't have a label. It meant I didn't go to church every week. It did NOT mean that I didn't know God or that I didn't have faith. It didn't mean I only celebrated Easter because I liked chocolate bunnies and jelly beans (can't stand jelly beans). But to try to explain more than that is more impossible than trying to get a cradle Catholic to explain their devotion to Mary. It isn't a case of "I once was blind but now I see." Think of it more like learning math: as a child and teenager, I new my multiplication tables. I could rattle off the gospel writers, some of the Ten Commandments, and maybe I could recite the story of the Nativity. As a college student, I could do geometry and trigonometry. I could name the reason for Easter and explain the Pagan roots of the holiday. Now, as a Catholic, I have passed Calculus. I've got a handle on some saints, figured out which of the gospel writers I prefer reading, and have contemplated the reasons for liturgical seasons and how they impact my attention span while at Mass. I'm expanding on those multiplication tables, the basics that I learned so long ago in such a different place. Now I have a label, an extension of my secular background, a "Catholic" title with a peculiar history.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

If Only Time Travel Existed

I have often wondered what it would be like if someone from the past could time-travel to today. In some ways, I am more thankful for the things I have now when realizing that life twenty, fifty, or two hundred years ago was so different. Then again, sometimes I wonder if a world-traveler or housewife or cowboy would look at our lives and shake their heads.

I'm not talking about technology in the sense of cell phones or iPods or even cars and planes. Those things are beyond some people currently living. My grandmother is a good example: she recognizes that new technology exists, but she pretty much refuses to use it. She has a plug-in-to-the-wall phone, a cassette tape player, and has never flown. She did drive, though.

What would Christopher Columbus (or some other explorer, Degas for one) think of how we travel? What would he think of battleships or aircraft carriers? What would Columbus think about trade and how we constantly ship supplies? How would he approach air travel? Where would he want to go? What would he say about how easy/difficult it can be to travel to some countries and not others ("do you have a flag?")?

What would Lewis and Clark think of how we've expanded the country? What would they say about the relegation of natives to reservations? What would they think of cross-country railroads or the national highway system? Do you think they predicted all of it, or could they even imagine what their trip would spark? What would they say when they saw the Pacific Ocean from the same spot of land near Astoria? Would they recognize the northwest?

What would a fourteenth-century woman experience if she traveled through time? Would she be shocked at fashion, or would she eagerly embrace blue jeans and miniskirts? What would she think of an oven that cooks without flame (though admittedly I still prefer gas ranges to electric)? What would she say when she sees women working just like men, the children in school all day and then off to daycare, dinner from a box? What would she say about women globally? What would she think about women who can read and write, study and educate themselves?

I don't worry about space travel or computers or patent infringement cases between Kodak/Apple, Inc./Google/whatever bigwigs come next. I wonder about mechanical innovation and how that has shaped our lives. How has knowledge of selective breeding changed the way we eat? How has the wheel changed the movement of products both locally and globally? How has sanitation changed the way we live (for good or bad)?

These are the things I wonder.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Random Questions XIV

What was the last thing you put in your mouth?
Can of pop up to my lips, but before that... homemade lasagna

Can you play Guitar Hero?
I am probably better on the Rock Band drumset than on the guitar, and I'm not too bad at the RB bass line when it's on easy or nearly easy.

How late did you stay up last night and why?
11:45pm because I watched Good Eats until 11:30 and then later because The Man was reading in bed and his light was too bright

If you could move somewhere else, would you?
If it means The Man can get a job, we'll move. I have always disliked living in Corvallis, but it's close to work and convenient to get to my parents' without being in the same city. We're content where we are and hate moving, so we're staying until we have to move.

Have you ever been kissed under fireworks?
No, I shall have to mention this to The Man and convince him we need to work on this.

Do you believe ex's can be friends?
Absolutely! It takes a bit of work and trust, but sure. (Hi Jeff! *hug*)

When was the last time you cried really hard?
Not too long ago, maybe two or three months ago. I don't even remember what it was about.

What items could you not go without during the day?
ChapStick, food and water, the usual.

Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?
I think it was Grandma

How do you feel about your life right now?
Mostly content in the sense that I am enjoying married life and love where I am, but I'd be thrilled if The Man got a job and we had to move (and I had to quit my job, oh darn)

If we were to look in your facebook inbox, what would we find?
messages, duh

Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass?
A drug test in what sense? A blood test to see if I've taken drugs, yes, flying colors (unless cranberry pills and Zyrtec cause false positives). A drug test to see if I can identify crack from crank or pot from meth by sight or taste, no way.

Has anyone ever called you perfect before?
Yes, several times. I can't decide whether to be flattered or annoyed.

What song is stuck in your head?
None at the moment, thankfully. That could change at any second.

Someone knocks on your window at 2:00 a.m.: who do you want it to be?
Considering we're on the 2nd floor, someone very tall better be out there. Hypothetically, I'd be fine if it was my sister or maybe a close friend, but knocking on a 2nd floor window (with no landing or ledge) at 2am is liable to get you arrested at the very least.

Do you think too much or too little?
I think I think the right amount.

Where are your feet right now?
In my socks curled up next to me. I still sit in the fetal position when at home on my computer.

Do you believe in fairy tales?
I think fairy tales can have a bit of truth to them, but I don't think they're entirely accurate or believable.

Do you like pickles?
Only dill pickles

Have you ever licked the back of a CD to try to get it to work?
No, eew.

What's the largest age difference between yourself and someone you’ve dated?
12-ish years, not my best moment (hindsight=20/20)

Have you ever been on a blind date?
Yes, I went on a few of them since that's how my parents met. The one I remember ended horribly. We haven't really talked since.

Do you have any friends that you've known for 10 years or more?
Yup! A couple actually.

Does the number of people a person's slept with affect your view of them?
I really don't need to know this kind of information, and it's none of my business unless I'm about to sleep with them (happily married, remember?), so no. I don't want to know.

Are you a good tipper?
10% is about average. Depends on the service and what kind of restaurant we're at. Tipping isn't mandatory, it's optional and for good service.

What's the most you have spent for a haircut?
$20 last time I got a haircut, which isn't bad at all for a twice-yearly event!

Have you ever had a crush on a teacher?
teacher, no. professer, no. ridiculously hot TA? *blush* yeah.

Have you ever peed in public?
Not that I can remember... not even a repressed memory. No.

What song do you want played at your funeral?
Oh, um, Forrest Gump Feather Theme, all 8 minutes of it.

Would you tell your parents if you were gay?
Don't you think they'd figure it out? I mean, the whole "bringing home girls" bit might give it away. I know some people can hide things from their parents, but I don't think I would have. But I'm straight and married some guy, so it's not much of an issue now is it?

What would your last meal be before getting executed?
Mom's spaghetti, Cream of What bread, Mom's swedish meatballs, Grandma's baked rice, Mom's sugar cookies, The Man's Mom's macaroni and cheese, my sister's baked tortellini, curly noodles, The Man's pancakes, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and vanilla ice cream and Hershey's syrup that Dad stirred up for me. If I'm going that way, I'm going FAT.

Do you walk around the house naked?
Between the bedroom and the bathroom, sure, but not as a habit or for the sake of doing so.

What do you do as soon as you walk in the house?
I put down my bag and keys and hug The Man. Every time. No, really.

Who is the person you can count on the most?
Myself. I don't make a habit of relying others as being disappointed sucks so much.

What did you dream last night?
Maaaaple Baaaars (again)

Have you ever been in love?
Once. I married him. Now I'm learning what love means.

Do you sing in the shower?
I used to, but The Man might hear me now and think I'm nuts.

What is your favorite Holiday?
my birthday! and then whatever day is a paid holiday. I don't discriminate.

Would you ever get plastic surgery?
Corrective or reconstructive, I'm not ruling them out. Elective, nah.

Have you ever caught a fish?
Once, and it was too small so my uncle made me throw it back.

What is your favorite lunch meat?
turkey gobblegobble

Do you still have your tonsils?
Yes

What is your favorite cereal?
Frosted Mini-Wheats or the Malt-o-Meal version of Fruit Loops. I really like Raisin Bran Crunch, too.

Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
Nope, my feet are so narrow that they usually slide right out.

What is your favorite ice cream?
Vanilla (drowning in root beer)

What is the first thing you notice about people?
shape, size, male or female

What book are you reading now?
Just finished A History of Clean and My Life With the Saints, soon to start Saints Behaving Badly and one of Scott Hahn's books (can't decide which one yet). I read two or three books at a time.

What is the farthest you've been from home?
That's relative to how much I have to pee, right? Physically Pierre, SD. But when I have to pee really bad, the driveway is a universe away.

How did you meet your spouse?
we were in the same group of ballroom dancers

Where was the last place you drove (other than home/school/work)?
to Fred Meyer to fill prescriptions and get dinner

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Alive and Boring

Plenty of topics clattering around in my head, but none of them seem to want to squish out onto my keyboard tonight. I am hungry, tired, and not terribly exciting, so rather than ramble I think I'll grab a snack and sleep until tomorrow. Night!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

All Red

I didn't feel well a couple weekends ago, so The Man went to a wedding reception without me. The tables all had red and white roses on them, so he asked the Mother of the Bride if he could take one of each as he was leaving since his wife was sick at home. The MoB (who he new well, otherwise he'd never have asked) graciously offered him more, but one of each was enough he said. He walked into the bedroom when he got home and woke me up with roses. I was surprised since we have a general "no flowers, they're too expensive and not really worth it" policy. He put the flowers in a vase were they sat in all their amazing color for nearly two weeks. The stems ended up giving out before the blooms! Pictured is the red rose. As you can see, it's stunningly red. I had a difficult time getting any contrast and enough lighting to show shadow and highlights. The end result is largely unenhanced (I sharpened the picture a tad and cropped it, nothing else).

In case I forgot to tell Mr. Wonderful this in my headache-induced sleepyness: thank you for the flowers.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Best Friends are Good

The last twenty-four hours have seen us sharing our lives with several of our friends. Last night included dinner and games with friends and newcomers, and today saw us in Eugene with longtime friends. I played my first-ever drinking game (pop for me, thanks) and lost miserably twice at Apples to Apples. We chatted, ate great food, shared stories, and vented.

The Man and I are incredibly fortunate to have great friends, and we're thankful time and again for those strong relationships. We're glad we have people who share their lives, good and bad, and that they respect us and our decisions even though they might differ from their own.

It's been a busy, wonderful, fun two days, but I have clean sheets and a good book, so it's alone time for me until bed. Yay for good friends!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Hello Followers

There are twenty-six people "following" my blog. Of that twenty-six, I know perhaps three of you in real life. Not even cyber life, but face-to-face real life. Three. Mike, Amanda, and Sarah, I'm looking at you.

So to the rest of you, the lot of you, who are you? Don't be afraid to post a "hi" or "I'm lurking" every once in a while. If you're a blogger, great! If you just follow blogs, that's cool too.

Twenty-six people "follow" me. Does that mean I have a blog entourage? Am I famous in the world of blogging? What exactly is "following" anyway, and should I feel threatened that people want to read my ramblings so often? It makes me feel like I need to do a follower purge like a Facebook purge: if you don't make an effort to be an interactive friend, see ya! De-friend. De-follower.

Just sayin'... hello followers. I see you.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Meal Planning Rocks!

I finally drew the line in mud. Not concrete, not sand, just mud. I guess that means I'm mostly serious about putting my foot down or something...

Anyway, I am tired of asking the question, "What do you want for dinner?" and having no or little response. The Man is great at thinking of parts of meals, usually stating "chicken" or "pasta" without thinking through a full meal plan. I can often think of three or four things to make, but I don't want to eat chicken five nights in a row.

My new plan involves sitting down once a week or two and planning lunches and dinners for a given amount of time. I schedule foods out so that we can have leftovers for lunches or for busy nights, and then I can cook a bunch of meat at once or prep veggies for more than one night. Plus, I can get all of the shopping done in one trip (except milk, butter, and maybe eggs) when things we need are on sale. The list stays on the fridge so The Man never has to ask what's for dinner.

I'm only a week into this new plan (not a resolution, mind you, just happened to coincide), and I love it! The thought involved is hefty at one end and super light for the rest of the week. I can't complain about having more time in the evenings and spending less at the grocery store either.

What did we eat in our first week?
Saturday: Homemade chicken noodle soup
Sunday: Leftover soup and homemade bread
Monday: Date Night Out (Chinese)
Tuesday: Pancakes (The Man cooked)
Wednesday: Steak and potatoes with corn
Thursday: Homemade pizzas
Friday: Baked alfredo chicken and broccoli

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Clean Compromise

I am not good at compromise. The Man is not good at compromise. We're having quite a week of loooong talks and trying to listen. Most of our learning this week has been about housework. I grew up with certain standards, and he grew up with a different--and equally effective--way of doing things. The problem for me is that I am exceedingly consistent with the chores and methods I do for any particular cleaning task. The Man likes to change things up, to go bottom-to-top on occasion, to make things fun. I have problems with the way he does things, and I'm having a very difficult time getting over myself. Our mothers and fathers told us we'd need to compromise about things, and I am starting to think this is one of those areas where I'm going to need to give in.

There is, however, a little voice in the back of my head telling me that he should learn to clean my way, to learn to put the dishes away bottom-to-top so that the dishes on the bottom don't get wet when the top rack gets pulled out, to learn to put a garbage can liner in the can immediately after taking the garbage out, to pick up things when dusting and not just dust around them. The little voice keeps telling me that I do things the way I do for a reason, a good reason, and that doing things a different way is inferior, ineffective, inefficient, and just not good. It isn't about making him change or training him or being in control either. I don't want to change him or train him: I want him to understand that the way I've been doing things is effective, efficient, and good. Perhaps if he understands it, then he might be willing to try a different way. Likewise, if he's willing to show me that his way of doing things is efficient and effective, I'm willing to try new things.

Do I listen to the little voice or do I give in and let him do things I'm not satisfied with? Should I simply do all those activities myself? Should I let him do them and then secretly re-do the chores?

How did you arrive at a compromise in your household? What things were you willing to compromise on, and what things did you put your foot down about?

Monday, January 04, 2010

Snickerdoodley-doo

Last night, I tuned in to watch Food Network's Worst Cook in America. While the show itself isn't half-bad, I'm more interested in the "train wreck factor" than the actual cooking. While I was watching, The Man came into the bedroom. I asked him quietly, "Hon, do you think I am one of the worst cooks in the country?" He responded quickly with an expletive and lots of no's (shut up, apostrophe police). My ego lifted slightly. Thnking about it, I asked him, "hon, do you think I should be the next Iron Chef?" He laughed. Heartily laughed. Guess not. ;)

This weekend included a fresh batch of homemade cookies. I baked the dough (for once) into snickerdoodles. The Man has only eaten my chocolate-type cookies, never these before. They're Mom's secret recipe (from Grandma?) and are super delicious. I baked them until they were about half-done, then left them on the pan for a minute before transferring the gooey cookies to the cooling racks. Before they were even cooled, The Man had stacked four high on a plate and began eating. He had a total of eight and I had a couple that evening. They're a bit more firm today, but still sooooooo soft and perfect.

Though I have made some less-than-tasty food, what cook hasn't? The Man never goes hungry, and I think we eat pretty well. Snickerdoodles included!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Gingerbread (Graham Cracker) House

I really wanted to build a gingerbread house this year, but Michael's didn't have any left on Christmas Eve-Eve when I went to the store (the Christmas stuff must have been taking up too much floor space with their Valentine's Day crap already out). I went home defeated. The following day my sister came over to help me build cupcakes. I had some leftover graham crackers (don't know how old those are, but they have a nearly infinite shelf life from my experience). We had a bit of extra frosting as well. What to do, what to do?

Graham cracker house! As you can see, we had a lot of pink (red, -ish, ha) frosting left over. We first trimmed the crackers to create the appropriate shapes: rectangles for the roof and side walls, and two pentagons for the odd-shaped ends. No measuring for the pentagons... we eyeballed it. We used white frosting for all the cracker glue, thus bits of white showing under the pink frosting. My sister using a not-so-fancy Ziplock bag piping technique to create her awesome House o' Love 'n' Cheer (my title, not her favorite). As a final touch, she later piped turd trees around the tin foil landscape. They were pink, turd-like trees. Hilarious!

Oh, and graham crackers with leftover frosting: delicious! I think I'd rather eat those than gingerbread just about any day. Mom always made them into sandwiches. She had the edible shape down much better than we did: our house thingy didn't actually get eaten.

But it was FREE! Wilton Gingerbread House Kits, take that!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

More Veggies, Please!

I've always been a pretty good vegetable eater, though veggies were never my favorite. I draw the line at beets, peas, and squash, though, and I'm not fond of any of the really weird or hard-to-find veggies. Salad bars delight me right down to the ranch dressing (just a little).

Recently, I've been on a veggie binge. We picked up some stir fry veggie blends that are quite good, and I just made a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup with extra carrots, celery, and onions (extra noodles coming, don't worry). When I make my version of Zuppa Toscana, the Olive Garden soup, I always double the amount of kale in the recipe. The Man and I both looooove kale that way. We both eat fresh spinach whenever we can, and I'll eat it wilted but not that frozen brick crap.

Five years ago, I picked every speck of red, yellow, or green pepper out of my food. Now, as long as the peppers have a little crunch left in them I don't mind so much. I wouldn't eat green bean casserole unless it was Mom's or Grandma's, still a safe bet to keep it that way, but I'm learning to try other ways of doing things.

And I'm eating more fruit, too, but that's a slow venture. Four apples a week, maybe four bananas a week if I'm feeling daring. Strawberries and watermelon when they're in season... grapes if I can find domestic or organic ones that don't cost me my head. I rarely buy my favorite, kiwi fruit, as it's just too expensive. Most of our fruit gets blended into dairy-free smoothies (ignore the two scoops of low-fat ice cream, it's just for "color") or is consumed as no-sugar-added juices.

I think I made it through college on one fruit or veggie each week, and now I try to get them at every meal in one way or another. Tonight's soup smells amazing, and I can't wait to dig in! Does that mean I'm growing up?

Friday, January 01, 2010

My New Years Eve Tradition

I know I've discussed traditions at length over the last two months, and most of you know how neither The Man or I have many solid traditions. We're fine with it, don't get me wrong, we're not complaining. As we approached New Year's Eve, though, I realized that there is one tradition my family had most often:

Waaaaaay back in the day when I was a little girl, my parents would pack us up with our pajamas and some snacks, and we'd drive from Lebanon all the way out to old North Albany (before it was yuppi-ville) to Grandma and Grandpa's house. Mom and Dad let us eat almost anything we wanted that one night of the year, so we pigged out on ice cream, port wine cheese balls (the almond-crusted cheap kind), all sorts of crackers and cookies, usually some Chex mix, and leftover Christmas goodies. My sister and I would stay in the living room as the adults sat at the dining room table and played cards until late in the night. I don't have any idea what card games they played, probably a form of rummy or pinochle or cribbage. The two of us would drag Grandma and Grandpa's penny jugs (the Carlo Rossi wine jugs full of pennies) out to the living room and we'd sort them for wheat backs or steel pennies, always keeping an eye out for rare coins to fill Grandma's collector books. The penny sorting always happened on bath towels so that we wouldn't dirty the light-colored carpet. With full bellies and the pennies sorted, we'd drift to the couch to read or draw. I don't remember staying awake until midnight very many times. Around midnight, the adults would stop playing card games to watch Dick Clark and that big ball drop. They'd wake us up long enough for the clock to strike 12:00am, and then we'd fall back asleep. Sometimes we'd stay there until 2 or 3 in the morning while the card games progressed. Dad would pack us out to the van (the van, sis!) one at a time, sometimes wrapped in our own blankets, and sometimes in one Grandma let us borrow so we wouldn't be cold in the car. I don't remember a single ride home or being packed off to bed once we got there.

After Grandpa couldn't play cards anymore a few years before he passed away, the tradition came to a bit of a standstill. I went off to college and had celebrations of my own (usually in bed by 9pm since I always had to work at 5am the next day). It felt like the tradition had ended, and I was pretty bummed. No more pigging out on junk food!

Last night, The Man and I joined my sister and her boyfriend at our parents' house for cards. We played Uno and Apples to Apples until 2am, stopping to watch The Ball and smooch our sweethearts at the stroke of midnight. We snacked on Chex mix and chips, crackers and a port wine cheese ball. Some people had some bubbly drinks, and some of us had pop. There was no packing-off-of-tired-children-to-a-cold-van, but there was waking up the next morning to Mom's homemade cinnamon bread (Grandma's recipe). The tradition is still alive! and it feels great knowing I will be able to have many more nights like the last one.