Sunday, February 27, 2011

I Hate Waiting

I used to think I wasn't a patient person... and then I started quilting.  But when it comes to crowded stores, busy sidewalks, and weddings, well, let's just say I like to be able to get in and get out.

We went to a wedding yesterday.  With every wedding we've gone to in the last few years, we've definitely figured out what makes or breaks a wedding for us.  The Man and I are particular about which readings we like and don't like (1 Cor 13, and anything involving the woman submitting to the man automatically break a wedding).  Whether it's a church or non-church affair, or if it's catered and served versus buffet-style, or if it is open bar or completely dry, none of that seems to matter as much to us.  Our biggest pet peeve is waiting.  Yesterday, we sat for over an hour at the reception before the couple joined us, and they'd done their pictures beforehand.  What gives?  Unless there is a significant distance with the possibility of traffic slowing a couple down, there is absolutely no reason to make guests wait an hour (or more!).

The rest of the wedding was beautiful.  I was simply disappointed that guests were made to wait, wait, and wait some more.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ack, Another Cold

I'm working my way into a second cold of the winter.  One a year is bad enough.  Thankfully it snowed hard enough yesterday that I didn't have to be at work.  The delayed start today allowed me to get some extra rest, too.  I'm chugging fluids like they're going out of style, and I've finally found a decongestant that doesn't treat symptoms I don't have.  I'm about to magnetize myself with all of the zinc in my system (if only zinc was magnetic!).  And I can't really hunker down and snuggle in much more than I am tonight.

The condensation on the windows was atrocious yesterday and today.  I have wiped them out a few times.  Next I think I'll try pointing a fan at the window to see if air movement helps at all.  Maybe some of the water will evaporate out anyway.  More heat in the apartment should hold water in the air better, too.  We've been hovering around 62° inside, so maybe five or ten more degrees will keep the moisture condensing to a minimum.

If nothing else, at least I'm just wiping out water.  I haven't seen any indications of new mold growth.  Looking forward to warmer days this coming week, partly for my own comfort, and partly just to dry out my windows.

Off to quilt and rest.  Oh, and make a card.  I gotta remember to do that tonight.  Ugh.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

For the Bees

I do not like honey.  Believe me, I've tried it.  I have had fresh honey, old honey, clover honey, crap honey... it's all gross to me.  I can't get past the texture, that slimy, slippery, sticky mess in my mouth.  Even as a glaze on chicken or in tea, I can't do it.  It's too sweet (and this is coming from a sweets fan).  And there is an aftertaste that just about makes me gag.

I was so excited last night to try to make my own homemade salad dressing, a honey lemon dressing.  I hoped something light and sweet would be healthier than ranch on my salads.  I found several recipes online and sort of adapted them to my own tastes.  A squeeze of lemon here, a squirt of honey there, some parsley, a bit of olive oil, and some pepper and salt.  Nothing too extraordinary.  I wanted to vomit after tasting it.  The olive oil coats the mouth so that the honey oozes everywhere making way for the tart lemon... oh my, that was bad.

I can't stand olive oil either.  I have it on hand only for cooking chicken, and even then I'd rather not use anything (and often do use nothing).  The health benefits of olive oil, and honey too, aren't worth the nasty taste they leave behind.  Fruity, floral, sweet-as-hell, no thank you.

Honey Nut Cheerios aren't bad, but the Honey Nut Chex are terrible.  Too much honey, not enough nut.  Honey grahams are great, but they don't taste like honey at all... and the chocolate grahams or cinnamon grahams taste much better anyway.  Come to think of it, there are very few honey-flavored foods I will eat.

I'll use Karo syrup if I need a gooey sweet mess, maybe even molasses, before I ever use honey again.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Killing Time one Number After Another

With The Man working late nights due to a full workload at his new job, I've found I need more than quilting to keep me busy.  Surfing the Internet only gets me so far, as does watching TV and movies.  I need something interactive.

Last week, on a bit of a whim, I popped into a local hobby store to see what I could find.  Car models aren't my thing, nor are airplanes or little speedboats.  I did find a neat woodburning kit, but with my tendency to branch out with one hobby, I could only imagine what my plastic dining chairs would come out looking like.  There was a small selection of paint-by-number kits.  I've done a few of those in the past, so I figured it would be a fun try. Most of the kits were about $20, but they were all stupid pictures: a dog on a blanket, a covered bridge (not one in Oregon, blah), or a still life.  The one good picture they had--hot air balloons--was the only $7 kit in the pile.  So I bought it.

I've done some of the red, some of the blue, and some of the yellow so far.  It's a very detailed drawing with lots of little tiny areas to fill and some complicated color mixing needed.  I can't fill in all of the "5" areas since some of those have numbers in the indicating an adjacent area should be filled in "5/10," meaning a mix of colors 5 and 10.  Part of me wants to just go out and buy really close approximations to 5 and 10 and their mix to avoid the whole mess, but that wouldn't be keeping with the spirit of the project.

I have no idea why I have no patience for cross-stitching or needlepoint, no patience for letting paint dry, and no patience to make really complicated desserts, yet I am readily hand-quilting a quilt and love challenging multi-piece origami constructions.

Have no fear, I still hate yarn.  Zero patience for that stuff.  Never have, likely never will.  *shudder*

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mold Wars

I've gone around and around our apartment wiping the windows.  I have sprayed mold killer repeatedly.  I am literally at my wit's end trying to figure out how to abate the mold in our apartment.

We don't have bad windows.  The windows are double-paned vinyl storm windows.  No aluminum or crappy glass in sight.  We don't have bad air flow inside our apartment.  We both run the ceiling fan when we shower, and I run the closet fan while I'm doing laundry.  I open the windows every possible chance, but that really only leaves about two months of the year in Oregon.  I've placed DampRid containers in two of the four windows, but that doesn't seem to help very much.

We keep the humidity as low as possible.  We don't warm our apartment as much, but my experience tells me that warmer air holds more moisture, therefore causing more condensation, so a colder apartment should have less mold.  By not heating, I'm saying we keep inside temps between 63° and 72°.  We were down under 60° a couple times, but that's just not reasonable.

From what I understand, double-pane windows only condense if there is a leak around the sill.  Since I'm not a homeowner, there's nothing I can do about the sills.  I seriously doubt our apartment managers are going to do anything about poor construction.

The walls are dry, and there are no signs of mold in the bathroom or kitchen (thankfully!).  When I enter our apartment, I don't smell mold or musty odors--usually just whatever I've cooked most recently.  And I haven't been itching nearly as bad this winter as last, so I feel like I'm staying on top of it.  Talk about frustrating, though, having to paper-towel every window every day.

What are your experiences with apartment windows?  How do you keep condensation to a minimum?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Eyeglasses Saga

I went to the eye doctor to get new glasses and contacts on January 17th.  They are finally ready for pick-up today, February 15th.  Is anyone else seeing the month-long delay?

You know that stupid 1-800-Contacts commercial, "My special eyes, they have my brand...," (not a plug, not even close): that's totally me.  I have special eyes.  I don't have a terribly special brand, though.  I thought for sure my eye doctor would have the glasses lenses in stock considering they sold me my frames and still stock the same frames.  Alas, my prescription is so coke-bottle-strong that they have to special order my lenses.  And the people they ordered my lenses from had to special order their stock from someone else.  I think those people had to go hold a bucket of sand up in a lightning storm or something just to make the glass.  Ugh!

I don't even have real glass in my lenses: they're polycarbonate.  They weigh less.  When you wear coke-bottles like I do, every milligram counts.  But polycarbonate lenses shouldn't be difficult to find or make.  The hold-up was pretty ridiculous.

And then I had to order my contacts, which ended up being less of a fiasco than previous times (thankfully).  Since I didn't get new glasses last year, I used my full insurance allotment to get more than a year's worth of contacts.  I got ten boxes instead of the necessary eight boxes to get me through the year.  I can turn in the two unopened boxes and redeem them for credit this year, so I really only have to pay for six boxes of lenses.

Which is still $120.

Lucky me.  At least I'll be able to see that my wallet is empty, right?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Turkey (or Chicken) and Rice Soup

Chicken noodle soup is not only a comfort food for me but a way of life.  Or, it was... until I gave up egg noodles since they do bad things to my insides.  I swapped them out for rice recently, and now I'm totally hooked on rice in my soup!

A reader requested this recipe from me today, so here's my not-so-secret meat-and-rice soup:

You can buy pre-made chicken stock and simply warm it up if you want.  If you don't want to fork over money for pre-made stock like me, you can either make your own (look line for recipes), or plop about five bouillon cubes in a pot of water.  I'm lazy.  Cubies work just fine.  There are low-sodium packets and sometimes low-sodium cubes.  I prefer those, but if I can't find them, then I don't add any additional salt to my pot.

5 bouillon cubes, chicken flavor (Herb-Ox is gluten-free)
Black pepper to taste: I give about twenty grinds on my grinder.
Parsley to taste: a tablespoon is more than enough for me.
1 Bay leaf: remove before eating.
Basil?  A sprinkle.
Salt if necessary.

1lb cooked and shredded turkey or chicken
1lb carrots, chopped (or about four carrots)
1lb celery, chopped (most of a whole stalk)
1 medium onion, chopped (I chop finely else The Man picks it out)
1 cup rice (white tastes better, brown is healthier, you pick)

Fill a large stock pot about half-full with water.  Add all of your seasoning.  Bring to a boil.  Put in your veggies.  Cook about twenty minutes at a full, rolling boil.  Add the turkey and rice.  Cook another half-hour or so at a full, rolling boil.

Voila, dinner done in an hour.  Veggies, protein, and carbs all in one pot.  Only had to dirty one cutting board if the turkey was pre-roasted (I did mine last Thanksgiving and am still eating on it from the freezer).  Leftovers aplenty.  Costs less than Campbell's, tastes way better, and is guaranteed

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Vacuum Blues

I was really hoping that thing had kicked the bucket.  Alas, we have discovered how to fix the vacuum, and now we're stuck with it.  Over the course of the last year, our trusty red Hoover has slowly become less and less reliable.  The belts are all fine, and the body is in great condition, but the vacuum didn't vacuum.  It turned on and rotated the brushes and whirred just like always.  It just didn't have any sucking power.

And a vacuum without sucking power is a really loud brick.

Tonight, I finally reached the end of my rope (in more ways than one, but another story for another day).  I tore into the vacuum from the top to the bottom.  I cleaned the brushes, hosed out the plastic parts, scrubbed the filters clean, and really looked for clogs.  After I dried everything well, I reassembled the beast.  And I turned 'er on.

TA DA!  We have a perfectly functioning vacuum.  Again.

We have been saving the very last of our wedding money for a new vacuum since we thought the old one was dying.  Guess we'll have to spend it on something else.  Like games!  Or another end table!

I'm not sure whether I should be happy or sad, but I'm glad we have a (well) working vacuum.  That's worth something, right?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Frustrations from the Kitchen

I don't know how my mother did it.  I really don't.  She must have had the patience and stamina of someone far superior to me.  She put up with all of our complaining, our nit-picking, and our picking-out-ingredients for far too long.

I'm still a picky eater.  There are some foods I cannot eat lest I hack and gag until I hurl (mustard, oranges, and tomatoes come to mind).  But now that I've been married to The Man for well over a year and cooking for him for nearly three, I think I've had it.  It is really hard to cook for someone who is picky!

The Man is super picky.  He has to know all of the ingredients of every dish, and he has an aversion to flavor the likes of which I've never seen.  I made a casserole-type rice and chicken dish last night, and I put in real onion to add some flavor.  He tried it and refused the plate I'd saved for him (since he got home late).

I have to admit his food horizon has greatly expanded in the last few years, but I think his stops where mine starts.  Garlic and onion are wonderful, amazing flavors in many of the dishes I commonly make.  I go through a whole clove of garlic and an onion or two in about a month, so it's not like I'm chucking tons into each dish, just enough to add good flavor.  But when I cook for The Man, I have to ix-nay the arlic-gay, op-stay the onion-lay, and old-hay the avor-flay.  Ugh!

He was even against black pepper when we first met.  I couldn't handle it.  I finally convinced him that black pepper is not spicy, that it is not going to cause him pain or anguish, and that it is a basic and necessary ingredient.

It's so frustrating to have amazing ideas for dinner only to have them shot down because they contain the dreaded "sausage" word or *gasp* that "fish" stuff.  I get that he doesn't like kiwi fruit (slimy, but delicious), and I understand not wanting to eat canned tuna.  But The Man puts peanut butter and maple syrup on his grilled Swiss cheese sandwiches.  Suddenly some pan-seared halibut or a quality sausage seems normal, rational, dare I say delicious?

I married the only man on earth more picky than I am.  Karma anyone?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Man, The Soccer Star

The Man has been playing indoor soccer for quite a while.  I'm not a huge fan of the sport, so it's a rare event that I go watch him play.  Don't get mad at me for not going: soccer is his thing.  I have my things.  We have our things.

Anyway, last week I went to one of his games and took my camera with me.  I was practicing some more difficult shots when this opportunity to pan and shoot came up.  I was so lucky that The Man had the ball!

He scored the first goal of the game, too.  I caught that shot in a picture, but it wasn't very good since it happened in a blur with poor lighting.  Meh.  I'm still really happy I got this shot!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Lessons from my Makeup Guru

After scouring the interwebs for makeup advice and reviews, I decided to turn to my very own makeup guru this weekend.  Cart of products in tow, my little sister arrived Saturday afternoon for an hour-and-a-half lesson.  It's obvious she's studied the who's and how's of makeup (and don't lecture me on the previous two apostrophes: I know they're technically wrong, but the words looked stupid without them).

She taught me about foundations and finishes, powders versus creams.  She instilled the values of quality brushes and cheap mascara.  And she showed me the most beautiful eyeshadow palette ever.  What I like best about using her expertise over random advice I find online is that she and I have the same complexion (except I have more freckles).  As noted last week, we're not "fair" or "light" or any of those other super light skin colors.  We're like white-out white.  She was able to fill me in on what brands make foundations and concealers that actually match our skin tones (basically M.A.C and Almay are it!  She uses one, and I have the other).  Neutrogena has some light stuff, but it tends to be poorly rated on the Cosmetics Database.  CoverGirl and Maybelline are also rated poorly, mostly because their products are full of fragrance.

We agreed that, due to my exceptional freckles, powdered foundations are my only option.  My current selection of Almay eyeshadows are just fine.  Blush pretty much looks stupid on us, so it's not a necessary expense.  Black mascara turns us into semi-goth freakos, so we need to stick with brown-blacks or purpley-browns.  And all that pink lipstick can go out the window: corals and taupes look much, much more natural.  Since I hate the sticky feeling of lip gloss and don't need the drying effects of lipstick, I'm basically SOL on lip color.

After our lesson, we went shopping!  I got a tinted lip balm, some eyeshadow primer, a really good (and inexpensive!) kabuki brush, and some under-eye concealer.  My guru agrees that my small stash, while full of drug store items, is well-rounded and appropriate for my level of make-up needs.  YAY!

But I still refuse to wear nail polish.  That stuff is nasty bad. *shudder*

P.S. Thanks, sis, for your wonderful help and advice!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

They Lie

Dear Makeup Makers:

Will you please craft a line of skin-care and make-up products for people with freckles?  I have them.  I have LOTS of them.  And under, around, and between all those freckles is very, very fair and sensitive skin.  We're talking holy-moly white skin.  Not "light" or "fair" or "natural" skin... think something more like 96-bright copy paper skin.

The problem isn't covering up my freckles.  Just about any foundation on the market will do that.  I don't want them covered.  I love my freckles. I just want all the skin in between the freckles to look even and smooth and "normal."  I don't want to look like I put eight pounds of makeup on.  I don't want the foundation color to be an in-between-dark-and-light color ('cuz the whole orange face thing is so middle school).

I love Almay products.  They last all day, don't irritate my skin or eyes or contacts, and aren't full of junk bad for my skin.  They're also fragrance-free.  And they're not too expensive.  So tonight I tried the Almay Smart Shade foundation in "light," the lightest shade Almay sells.  LIES.  ALL LIES.  It's not light.  I look like an OompaLoompa.  With freckles.  I'm one pink and green tube of Great Lash mascara away from being in 7th grade again.  Minus the braces this time, lucky me.

I don't have a lot of money to be running around buying eighty-eleven jars/pots/packs/sticks of foundation.  As much as I'd love to try a bunch of these products for free, I also don't want to be using the same stuff other people have been wiggling their fingers (or other things) in.  I need a foundation that doesn't make me look or feel stupid.  I need to feel like the makeup world understands me.

Is that too much to ask?

Freckled and Beautiful

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

I Don't Envy: I Don't Facebook

Yet one more reason to strongly dislike (and avoid) Facebook!  Click here to read the story over at CBS News.  Then come back for my comments (if you want).

I started noticing a sort of dejectedness in myself about eight months ago after having been on Facebook for over five years.  Yes, I was one of the earliest adopters at OSU, waaaaaay back when my network was closed and I knew most of the people out there.  The more of my friends that joined, the more I could see how accomplished (or not) they are.  The hard part for me wasn't jealousy: I'm not the jealous type.  The hard part was realizing my own shortcomings, seeing where I had failed myself, seeing where opportunity had knocked and I ignored it (and my classmates had answered).  It wasn't about the competition--keeping up with the Joneses--as much as an internal competition to be better than I am.

When I left the company of Facebook, I left the misery of competition behind.  My life isn't perfect, but I don't need to be comparing myself to affluent classmates, wondering what they did to make money so fast.  Comments about how someone is gearing up for a luxury vacation don't matter to me anymore.  No, I'm not going on any vacations this month.  I have to choose between vacation and debt, and I'd rather not have debt thankyouverymuch.  And I certainly don't miss having things rubbed in my face constantly: so-and-so is having a baby; someone else just bought a house; and, of course, that girl lost eighty-six pounds in five days and oh-my-gosh-did-you-see-her-boob-job, can-you-see-that-tattoo!

I have to not care.  I have to be okay with telling people my life is more important to me than theirs.  My life--the things I believe in and strive for--have to come before pictures and comments on a social network.  I have to believe in me more than I believe in the half-truths and partial stories people are willing to post on their Facebook pages.  Because when I get out of bed in the morning, look in the mirror all sleepy-headed without make-up, I can look myself in the mirror and say, yup, flaws, but I'm okay with them.  I'm satisfied with me.  I don't need more.

I don't Facebook.  It's not worth losing myself--even a little tiny bit.