Saturday, October 30, 2010

Time to Clean out the Cob Webs Already

I don't really know what a "cob web" is come to think of it.  I know what a cob is, and I know what a web is, and I have no idea how a cob gets a web or a web can get a cob.  Whatever they are, they need to disappear!

When The Man and I moved recently, we purchased two sets of Sterilite shelving.  I've slowly been amassing totes in order to clean out our cluttered extra closet.  I have six of the clear large size and six of the clear small size, but I could use about six more of the big ones.  The smaller ones work great for fabric scraps, computer games, and various other little items.  The big totes are full of blankets and bedding, games, and junk we (I) insist on keeping (like my pencil collection which is too big for one of the little totes).  None of the containers are perfectly water tight or bug proof, but they do make moving things and searching for things easier.  With the handy-dandy label maker The Man bought me for my up-coming birthday, I have everything neatly labeled and sorted.  Phew!

I've felt pretty bad today with a nasty headache.  We'll call it a head cobweb for all the inability-to-think I suffered.  My parents stopped this morning, and I wasn't even much of a conversationalist with them.  Felt kinda bad.  I braved post-OSU-football-game traffic this evening to get over to Bi-Mart to look at a lamp and a bookcase.  I was surprised at the lack of candy left for Halloween tomorrow.

Speaking of Halloween and cob webs and all that spooky stuff, did you know it's Christmas already?  Oh yeah, it's October and the stores are fully decked out in red and green.  Michael's is the worst offender in my book.  They don't even have a Thanksgiving decoration selection, just eighteen aisles of glittered faux flowers, bins overflowing with imported rubbish, and the world's most hideous display of non-green fake Christmas trees.  I'm all for fake trees, but a purple fake tree?  Really?

Laundry to do, dishes to do, a month's worth of menus to plan, and a shopping list to make.  And two hours to get it all done before bed.  I'm hungry.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Oven-Dried Apples

I tried an experiment with some Granny Smith apples last night.  The apple chips turned out wonderfully.  I simply washed and thinly sliced three medium apples and arranged the slices in a single layer on my Silpat-lined cookie sheets.  I put the sheets in my oven set to "warm," about 140-degrees for around four hours with the door propped open just a smidge to let the steam out.  I did flip the slices over about half way or a little more later.  Once the dehydrated apples cooled completely, I stored them in a couple freezer bags and left them on the counter.  Easy as that.  If I could find some FruitFresh, the apples would be less brown, but honestly the color doesn't bother me on dried apples.  Next time I might slice a little thicker and dehydrate longer, maybe overnight.  I like the chips a tad more chewy and a bit less crunchy, but still, these are fabulous.  And healthy! :D

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Did I Ever Mention How Much I Hate the Dentist?

My day included a trip to the dentist.  I think that deserves at least a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup or three as retribution on my teeth.

Yeah.  So there, evil dentist man.

My whole face hurts, my teeth feel out of place, and I can't get this smeared chap stick off my ear.  Because, really, sticking a finger in my mouth, dragging it across my lips, and then sliming my ear makes me feel so warm and fuzzy.  Nothing like a wet willy to complete the visit.

Peanut butter cups, indeed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Weekend Down and Up

Blogging wasn't very high on my radar this weekend.  After my uncle's funeral on Saturday and a lazy Sunday on the couch, I just didn't have the energy to sit at a screen and pour out my thoughts and emotions.

This weekend was a whirlwind.  We drove to Albany and picked up my sister and brother-in-law and headed to Portland.  We stopped at Bridgeport Village to get me new shoes, but we had to pop over to Washington Square to buy the right color.  Thankfully the price was the same.  We grabbed lunch and then hustled out to Gresham for the funeral.  Afterward, we visited with some of my uncle's family and had a nice chat at one of their houses.  We left in the late afternoon and puttered back to Albany to drop off our passengers, then we hopped the freeway to my parents' house for my sister's birthday dinner party.  We all had very fully bellies and, later, some laughs over the game we played.  The Man and I didn't get home until 11:00pm.

Sunday dawned entirely too early.  I didn't feel very well, probably exhaustion from all the go-go-going from the day before, and I wasn't exactly in the mood to go grocery shopping and to Mass, although after three loads of laundry we finally got around to both.  After a late lunch, I melted onto the couch for a nice nap.  I did manage to throw some pork in the crock pot, so dinner was a snap, and I was even motivated enough to iron my quilt blocks that I haven't worked on since the move *shame.*  Then I watched a movie, snuggled on the couch with my blankey, and maybe had a cookie or three before bed.

That pretty much brings us to Monday where I'm motivated enough to do a little more cleaning and, if I'm super lucky, take time to install an old game on my computer.  We'll see if The Man's old lappy can handle some Sims.  *evil grin*

Friday, October 22, 2010

No More Drive-Bys, Please

My mother does it.  Apparently some of my coworkers do it.  I even have friends who do it.  And I can't stand it!  They are snoopy, creepy, stalker people who find it necessary to do a drive-by to find out where someone lives.

For example, The Man and I just moved.  We sent out moving announcements to let people know where we live now.  I even took extra time to draw a map for them.  You'd think that was enough, but no.  They saw the map and then had to ask, "okay, where is that exactly?"  It's right there!  Where the big yellow star is on the map!  Hello!

But they plugged our new address into their computers and GPS devices just to get a different angle.  Some of them even followed their GPS all the way to our physical location just to see where we live.  They didn't come up to the door, didn't knock, didn't stop and say hi, no, they just drove by.  Slowly.

I realize that addresses are public information, but I think there should be a law against stalking someone just to see where they live.  As if the exterior of our giant apartment complex with absolutely no personal touches by us has any sort of reflection on the type of people we are, the amount of money we have, or our ability to do yard work.  It's one thing if someone actually designed a house or did some major landscaping... then I could see an inspection-type drive-by.  But for an apartment?  Really?

No more drive-by stalking.  Please.  It's just creepy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

There's a Reason they Call me Jaggy

Thanks to Netflix, I've queued up all ten seasons of JAG.  That's right folks, I'm starting from the beginning and watching them one by one.  We're up to season one, disc two already... only about fifty six more discs to go.

And I'm going to love every second of it!

The Man is even watching them with me, though he keeps asking me when Mac is going to show up.  Second season, I tell him, soon.  We have to get through the Meg episodes and I think a promotion for Harm first and eighty-eleven cheesy grins, stolen Top Gun scenes, and swelling emotional background music moments.

Did I mention I'm going to love every second of it?

Yeah, they call me "Jaggy" for a reason...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Hate Big Cities

I had to drive up to Beaverton today to do some training for work.  For once, I was the trainer and not the trainee!  Left in the dark and got to the big city around 9:00am.  Took I-5 to 217 no problem, but then traffic got nasty, especially headed into Portland.  Thankfully the GPS took me off the highways and onto side streets pretty fast.

I was so excited coming home to hit not only back roads, but entire stretches of roads without another car on them.  I was thrilled to get into Corvallis and not have to wait an hour at a stoplight.  Heck, I was just excited to know shortcuts and ways around the tiny bit of traffic I did encounter around here.

I am so not cut out for big cities...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oil, Filter, and Cat Change

Dad had some excitement when he went to change the oil in my car this weekend.  He lifted the hood on my little car to find a mass of fur sitting on top of some part of the engine back by the firewall.  Apparently a cat crawled up under the hood and died sometime in the last month (since that's the last time I know I checked my oil).

We've accounted for both of my parents full-grown-and-much-too-large-to-fit cats.  The Man and I looked around our apartment complex for signs indicating a missing cat and found nothing.  The one black cat that we know about was alive and very friendly the day after Dad changed my oil, so we know it's not that one.  He thinks it was a feral cat from behind their property that was looking pretty sick.  He said they recently found another dead cat up by their house, so he knows they're around.  Simon and Isabelle (their cats) don't go outside the garage either, so there's little risk of them getting sick from the feral cats.

Mom sent me a picture of the cat on my phone, and it didn't really look like anything but a sleeping cat on my engine.  No blood and guts, no burns, just dead.  Dad said there was no smell.  We really just have no idea how the cat got up in there or how long it had been there.  Part of me feels bad for the poor kitty, but maybe it's better to go on a warm engine that at the teeth of something more vicious.


I already promised Dad I'd not send my car to him with a cat under the hood next time he changes my oil.  Bet his ticker was tickin' awfully hard when he saw that!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy First Anniversary to Us!

We did it!  We survived--and thrived--through a whole year of marriage!

I wish I had some sort of great lesson learned or awe-inspiring quote or funny recollection, but I'm not sure what to think still.  A year is both too long and too short to try to analyze.

All I know is that we're more in love now than we were a year ago.  We're also better at talking and experienced at disagreeing.  We're better at forgiving more quickly and learning what is and is not important to us as a couple.  It's just like a year ago only more of everything good and bad (but mostly good).

Being married is a lot of work, but I wouldn't trade The Man for the world.

Happy Anniversary to us!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Goodbye Uncle Chuck

Following a stroke and bleeding in the brain, my uncle passed away this morning.  I'm sure he met St. Peter and St. Paul at the pearly gates in full leather with his motorcycle engine roarin.'

I have quite a few uncles, as my parents both had several siblings.  These people are blood-related to me, so they are "Aunt Jane" and "Uncle John" to me (never just the first name, but that's another story).  Some of their siblings have married and remarried.  If I've grown up with that significant other, they're my aunts or uncles too.  My mom's younger-older brother and his wife are--without a doubt--"Uncle..." and "Aunt..."  But I have another aunt who has remarried a man who I do not call "Uncle..."  He is not my uncle.  He is just a guy who married into the family that I like.  Not a good or bad thing, just not "Uncle."

My uncle who passed away never actually married my aunt.  He had no legal or religious reason for me to call him my uncle.  However, he was always kind and respectful toward me, and he made my aunt very, very happy.  He fit right in to the family--certainly a bunch of characters, and he was one.  I'm not often one to "adopt" family as I have such an awesome real family, but this uncle earned it.  He was my uncle and my "Uncle Chuck"  And for me, that's saying something.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Anniversary Flowers

The Man surprised me at work just before lunch today with a vase of red roses to wish me a happy anniversary.  He really does know how to make a girl feel like the most important and special person in the whole world. :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I keep telling myself I will add pictures of our new apartment.  There's a tiny voice in my head telling me to not post anything that will give away our location at the same time, so I had to be choosy with my pictures.  The first picture is of our bed.  Not that exciting to you maybe, but it shows our new headboard and The Man's quilt that his grandmother made for him before she passed away.  He didn't get to see the quilt until we received it for our wedding shower via his mom.  We both love the quilt very, very much.  We were also lucky to find flannel sheets that match perfectly!

The second picture is of my laundry closet.  Again, not that exciting to you maybe, but it was a big deal to me.  We don't have space to put a proper hamper on either side of the machines, so I used some baskets up above that are labeled "whites," "darks," and "jeans and towels."  We don't really have enough jeans to do them in a separate load, so we wash them with the towels.  Some people might disapprove, but it works for us.  Also, please know that my dryer does not actually have that much junk on it now.  I took these pictures just after we moved.
So there you have it.  A peek inside my little corner of the world.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Show the Kids Some Courtesy, Will Ya?

I recently attended a charity event (name withheld) where some teenagers performed a few song and dance numbers.  They were the dinnertime entertainment between courses.  Seeing that I was sitting a narrow gym's distance across from these performers, who were singing into microphones, I expected to hear them sing.  I expected a lot of things, I guess, none of which actually happened.

My biggest complaint of the entire charity event was the guests.  As the teens began singing, the guests just talked louder.  To hear each other across the table (a library table, not even a round table), we had to speak up, though we did know better than to talk during the performances.  Furthermore, guests would get up and amble about blocking the view for other guests, and distracting other guests, and completely ignoring the performers.  I was ashamed to be a part of the audience and felt terrible for these kids who had put so much work into the performance.  It's not easy to get up in front of people, I know (seven years of band anyone?).  But I can't imagine it's any easier to get up in front of people who are ignoring you or are rudely trying to outperform you decibel-wise.

If you are ever invited to an event, regardless of what kind of event, if there is anything more than a background orchestra, show some courtesy, will ya?  Please?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Art & Soul Retreat: So Much Fun!

My mother-in-law generously paid for me to go to the 2010 Portland Art & Soul Retreat this last Friday.  The retreat is actually more than a week long, but I only attended two classes, both on Friday.  My 9:00am to 4:30pm class was about photo tinting or hand-coloring photos.  The evening class we took together from 6:30pm to 9:30pm, a sort of junk-to-art class.

The retreat was held at the Embassy Suites Hotel at the end of the PDX airport runway.  We could hear jets all day, especially the F-16s that flew right over our heads as we went out to get our lunches from our cars.  They couldn't have been but a couple hundred feet over us, zooming so fast and loud it shook the ground and made our ears hurt.

My photo tinting class was long but good.  I learned more about that than I expected, taking away a better idea of what is involved in photo tinting.  It's not just slapping some fake make-up on a portrait or filling in some tree color.  I learned about different kinds of media and how they can be used effectively on different substrates.  That was the "scientific" part of what we focused on.  For example, you would never be able to smear Sharpie ink on cardstock.  And you'd never be able to effectively color a glossy photo with crayons.  Certain substrates use certain coloring agents better.  Soft papers with a big "tooth" work best for oil pastels.  Medium papers (think regular paper) are great with colored pencils or some dense pigment paints.  Shiny papers require stains watered down and floated onto the surface.  Clay-like papers (think old photographs with a matte finish) take more media than any other type of paper--they're a dream to work with.  The rest of that class was not so scientific and quite relaxed.  We colored inside and outside of the lines.  We smeared, smudged, and scrubbed on a lot of different kinds of pictures.  At the end, we all shared our work.  Everyone was kind and supportive.  Very fun.

Between the two classes, The Man's Mom and I hopped the river to Vancouver where we ate at Sweet Tomatoes.  I restrained myself and only had two blueberry muffins this time (oh the willpower!).  We were back in Oregon with just enough time for me to spend my "complimentary" $10 in the retreat store.  I bought myself my first real bone folder and a set of metallic chalk-paints.  My total out-of-pocket in the store was a whopping $0.25, so I think I did okay. :)

We took the second class together in the evening.  It was a trash-to-treasure, a junk-to-art type class.  The total instruction time was about five minutes.  We all got to get up then and scrounge around for items that "spoke to us" and assembled them using glue, caulk, cement, whatever! to hold our projects together.  I made a sort of photo journal box that has room to grow.  The box itself was an old cigar box with pretty ducks on the outside.  I lined the inside with papers and fabrics, glued a few trinkets down, and even invented a funny little picture file thingy.  Around 8:30, we both ran out of gas and decided it was time to motivate southward.

Now I had been a genius and took I-5 to 205 going north.  But coming south in the dark, I chose to trust the GPS to take me home the way I'd come.  About halfway into downtown, I realized something was very, very wrong.  I hate bridges, and the I-5 bridge in downtown scares me to no end.  And there is no way to get off I-84 between 205 and Terwilliger, so I was stuck.  I took a few deep breaths and made it across without incident, but I wasn't very happy about it.  Terwilliger was exciting as it had started raining... and then I was in more traffic than I would have liked until Wilsonville... and then it rained the whole way to Albany... and I didn't get home until 11pm.  Exhausted.

But it was a good day. :)

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Dear Food Network

You're driving me nuts with all this talk about nutty flavors!  When one of your shows highlights a rice or a fruit or a cut of meat with "nutty" flavors, there is no indication of what that flavor actually is.  There are whole recipes with nutty flavors that do not call for a single nut.  How can something be nutty and not contain nuts?  Get that Good Eats guy to explain what flavor compounds comprise "nutty" so I can build more dishes that are supposedly nutty and therefore be a better cook (because obviously only the best cooks can prepare nutty foods).

Your chefs constantly talk about nutty rice.  I've cooked quite a bit of rice in my day, and it has never once tasted nutty.  It always tastes... ricey.  Go figure, rice tasting like rice.  I guess that's better than rice tasting like bananas or avocados.  My potatoes don't turn out nutty.  My shortbreads and slow breads and not-so-breads all taste just like they're supposed to as well: not like nuts.

Peanuts, walnuts, cashews, pistachios... these things taste nutty.  Brownies with walnuts taste nutty.  There is a distinct "nut" flavor (and crunch!).  Brownies without walnuts do not taste nutty.  This is not a hard concept to explain.

When your hosts describe something as "nutty," are they referring to the Maillard reaction creating something toasty?  Are they explaining the grain-like flavor of a starchy product?  Are they talking about a known flavor compound (like vanilla or almond) that can be added?  Or are they just making it up to sound smarter than the rest of us?

Oh, and while I'm at it, can you please tell your hosts to stop having orgasms on TV.  I realize that the food they are eating is probably fantastic.  I don't really need to know that they're "having a moment" while on TV.  Whatever they're eating cannot possibly be *that* good.

Signed,
Tired of Nutty Chefs

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A Prayer for Uncles

I don't have much to say tonight.  Two of my uncles are in the hospital, one for heart problems and the other for brain problems.  The prognosis for the heart patient seems to be good--considering he just had a triple bypass...  The stroke/aneurysm is a bit more tricky.

I'm sending out a prayer request for these two men.  Even a quick shout-out to the Big Guy is much appreciated.

Thanks.

UPDATE (9:30pm): Mom's brother has been taken off the ventilator and is already up and moving around after his open heart surgery just two days ago.  Apparently doctors are potentially moving him out of the ICU tonight if things keep going well.  Keep the prayers coming!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Woman on a Mission

There are few things in life I detest more than being treated like less of a person because of my gender.  I am a woman, yes, and the only things I need special treatment about are medical care and clothes.  I don't mind having doors opened for me, but I am fully capable of doing it myself.

Buying a car was a challenging experience for me this weekend.  I've yet to visit a car dealership that doesn't employ jerks who try to sweep things past me or skirt around topics or glance over details because I'm a woman.  Auto parts stores are commonly like that, too.  This weekend was no different.  The finance guy focused much of his time on my husband, explained details to him and not to me, and spoke that obnoxious "guy language" right in front of me, you know, that guy-to-guy "know-what-I'm-talkin'-'bout" dialect.  I understand there was a bit of familiarity between The Man and the finance guy since they see each other every day.  I accounted for that when judging the amount of sexist behavior the finance guy exhibited.

For example, on Friday, The Man and the finance guy were talking about the 'recent graduate discount' The Man got on his car.  The finance guy suggested The Man take the money as cash back instead of as a down payment.  He said, "I'll cut you a check under the table so you can spend it without your wife knowing."  The Man came home that night and told me all about the little scheme the finance guy was trying to pull over me.  I have no worries that The Man would ever sneak that much money around (not to mention we share 100% of our finances with each other, so it's not like I wouldn't notice the bump in our budget).  But I thought the suggestion alone was pretty disgusting.

I know things about cars.  I know how to change wiper blades, tires, oil and filters, some fluids, etc.  I don't know all the details of engines or electronics, but I'm pretty good with the cup holders and the flippy visor thingies and even the whole "park vs. reverse" thing.  When it comes to financing a car, I understand loan terms, interest rates, about how much to put down, and not to make any late payments.  It's not that hard.  But when people talk down to me or dumb things down or skirt around the issue, it really, really pisses me off.  And when they do it simply because I'm a woman, oh, that's just wrong.

Just plain wrong.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Showcase Showdown

The Man and I deliberated for a long time about this decision.  We researched.  We thought.  We consulted each other.  We talked to people.  In fact, I think we talked to too many people.  Today was a big day for us, a very big, very expensive day.  We bought a brand new car.

As previously mentioned, The Man's car recently turned 500,000 miles.  Yes, you did read that correctly.  He has never owned anything but a hand-me-down car (which is not a complaint, just a fact).  He works at a dealership, so he sees fancy new cars every day.  When I mean "researched" a car, I mean he test drove at least one of everything, got to see all the bells and whistles on many, many car types, got to feel out what he does and doesn't like.  Not just sitting at a computer looking, but actually driving, working on, looking at, and reading about cars.  All day long.  For months.

The dealership we bought from offered him a fantastic employee discount, a recent graduate discount, and 0% financing.  When the deal was all said and done, the dealership lost money selling us a car.  We drove it off the lot and it actually gained more value than what we paid for it.

Sorry, no details about the car here.  I'll suffice to say it's an imported car with a few slight modifications that make it look sporty and sleek.  But it's still a family car and not some mid-life-crisis car, so don't worry.  We didn't loose our heads with this purchase.

While buying a new car was stressful (to say the least), I'm glad we did it.  Hopefully it will last us a very long time.  *crosses fingers*  The Man is absolutely giddy today, and I feel like we just won the Showcase Showdown on The Price is Right!  (Except we have to pay for it...)