Friday, July 29, 2011

Easy Oatmeal Pancakes

Okay, I'll admit, making pancakes from a pre-made boxed mix is easier.  But this recipe? Not much more difficult.  If you can crack an egg and flip a pancake, you're good.

I made these with Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Pancake Mix instead of the white flour for two reasons, 1) I didn't have any white flour, and 2) I didn't want to feel bloated and nasty for the rest of the night.  Plus a little extra leavening never hurt a pancake, right?

Recipe from the Smitten Kitchen.

The Dry Stuff
3/4 cup oat flour (I kinda forgot to make the oats into flour and just left them whole, whoops)
1 cup all-purpose flour (or use pancake mix?)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

The Wet Stuff
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (plus extra for the pan) (forgot this too)
1 1/4 cups whole milk (uh, who has that? I used 1% just fine)
1 cup cooked oatmeal (like, make a single serving of oatmeal according to the tube's directions)
1 tablespoon honey or molasses
2 large eggs, separated, with the whites whipped to whiteness and the yolks just... yolky

Mix the dry ingredients together.  Mix the wet ingredients together (egg whites separate, but add the yolks).  Then apply the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until batter consistency (a few lumps okay).  Gently fold in the egg whites.  You could skip the egg white whipping part, but it gives the pancakes a crispiness that I prefer.  Plus the arm workout is good.

I broke out my electric griddle for this, but a pan on the stove on medium-low (about 250-300° is plenty warm) will work.  Drop the batter onto the hot surface about a quarter-cup at a time.  That gave me about five- or six-inch pancakes after I spread out the batter a bit.  They take about four minutes on the first side for me and about two on the other.  Super fluffy, super light, very much like a buckwheat pancake, but lighter and tastier.  And all that oatmeal means it's heart-healthy, high in fiber, good-for-you-deliciousness.

The Man and I smeared our oat pancakes with peanut butter and maple syrup, just a smidge of each.  Good oils in the peanut butter, and well, we just won't go into the sugary syrup bit, k?  Let a girl have some fun.

I had a couple pancakes left over the next morning and toasted them in my toaster oven.  They were great!  The Man is still a Bisquick purist, but these are probably my new favorite pancake.  Will have to see if they waffle just as well soon...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Make that a Six Thousand Dollar Smile

I took the whole day off work today to get some dental work done.  Not just a measly filling but a crown and four fillings in four teeth.  And I have good teeth!

How can I say I have good teeth and still need fillings?  Three of my fillings were super tiny surface fillings that were more about prevention than actually fixing anything.  One was so small that my dentist didn't even fill anything, he just polished the tooth surface smooth.  Yeah.  The other filling was replacing a previous filling that had cracked, so technically that wasn't even my tooth.  Aside from needing the crown today, the rest of my work was merely preventative or regular maintenance.

And the crown?  That was only necessary because my stupid orthodontist put the band around that tooth and didn't clean it off very well in the process, so I ended up with two cavities in the one tooth after five years in braces.  Nothing I could do about it.  My old dentist patched it up the best he could, but my new dentist opted to put a ceramic crown on it rather than having to do a root canal later.  Yay for not having a root canal!  Major thumbs down though for the whole needing a crown due to negligence and laziness on other people's part.

Since my dentist refuses to do the metal fillings and gold crowns, my insurance company won't even pay half of the total cost of today's adventure.  I can think of at least a hundred ways I'd rather have spent that thousand dollars today.  After orthodontia and the fillings on the other teeth that had bands on them, I officially have a six-thousand-dollar smile now.

Somehow that doesn't make any of my current pain feel any better.  Hate dentists.  Hate them so much.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Hike, A Visit, and a Whole Lot of Books

Yay for great weekends!

The Man and I invited my sister and her husband over on Saturday for a hike in Beazell Memorial Forest out in Kings Valley.  We took the Plunkett Creek trail out and back.  Just a little way down the trail, we stopped at the covered pavilion and had a tasty sack lunch.  The day was a tad warm and humid for me, but it wasn't bad at all on the downhill sections.  Felt like I was breathing mud on the uphill parts though, hehe.  All shady, near a little stream, so no sunburns.  Lots of bugs though.  Didn't enjoy the bugs.

Sunday was also adventurous.  I popped over to my parents' house to help Mom move some pictures from her phone to her computer.  We ran into town to Costco and then visited my grandma who is recovering from a knee replacement.  Now she has two bionic legs!  Further proof that I definitely won't be earning myself Catholic knees anytime soon, cursed genetics.

Finally, with Borders stores closing, The Man and I made a dash over to our local store and did some purchasing.  We bought a game, Dominion, in addition to three or four books each.  It was an expensive trip, but there are no more places between Corvallis and Powell's (Portland) that sell the oddball books The Man and I enjoy reading most.  Not that I mind a two-hour drive to Powell's, spending a day there getting lost in the stacks, and getting taken out to dinner in the big city, but it's rather inconvenient for the quick trip.  Hopefully The Book Bin will start offering some good coupons for new books, otherwise it's all online for us.  Sad.

I do love me some good books.

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Signature Scent

Let's get one thing straight from the start: I can't stand smells.  Unless they're fresh cooking smells, the very slightest fresh flower smell (from actual fresh flowers), or freshly hayed grass or alfalfa fields (or mint! yum!), I don't want to smell it.  Campfires? No.  Chemical smells? Absolutely not. Candles and perfumes and potpurri and that awful Scentsy stuff?  Please no.

When I wake up in the morning, I don't add perfume.  My shampoo barely has a scent that dissipates completely as my hair dries.  My body wash is unscented for a reason.  Deodorant? BAN-brand with no noticeable smell.  My goal is to get through every day without smelling.  No clean smells, no yucky smells, no smell at all.

Last weekend, The Man and I wandered around the coast for several hours, popping in and out of tourist shops.  I sniffed candles and whiffed soaps often, but they were all hideous.  They all had that acrid froofyflowerycitrusyyuck I can't stand.  I had given up hope years ago of ever finding a candle or soap that didn't make me want to wretch, so mostly I smelled these things out of amusement ...kind of like when we go into "Christian" bookstores for Catholic bibles and turn up empty-handed time after time...  maybe I enjoy efforts in futility?

Anyway, we went into this shop on Nye Beach in Newport.  They had all sorts of froofyflowerycitrusyyuck.  I think they even had scented tassel bookmarks.  Because that is something I need to survive /sarcasm/.  I wandered to the back of the store where I picked up a rather plain looking bar of soap.  It didn't make me hurly, and, after repeated sniffs, was quite nice.  A soap smelled good.  Holy stinky suds, Batman!

There was a lotion sitting nearby of the same scent, so I plopped a drop on the back of my hand and smudged it in.  The first sniff test wasn't awful at all.  I didn't think much about it, and we walked out of the store empty-handed.  We finished our shopping, drove home, and chilled for a bit.  After a while, I remember the lotion on the back of my hand.  It must have been there for three hours or more when I second-sniffed it.

You know how people are always marketing candles and lotions and soaps as smelling "like the rain" or "like the sea" or "like the earth after a downpour?"  And all of those scents are completely different than what the rain smells like or how the ocean smells... yeah.  I hate that.  For your information, the coast I grew up near smells like dead fish, seagull poop, and stale salty air.  Decidedly not something I want burning away in my living room.  It's not a froofy scent, not a hint of floral or fruity stink, and the very slight peppery hint just tickles the nose.  After repeated smells, I could detect just a bit of vanilla on the back end.

Back to the second-sniff: I want Heaven to smell exactly like that.  It really smells like the ocean, or whatever a non-seagull-poopy ocean ought to smell like.  It smells like summer and sun and rain and the outdoors with a hint of warmth and coolness at the same time.  The closest perfume I can equate it to is Revlon's "Fire and Ice" scent from the 1980's, but it's quite a bit lighter than that.  Thanks to Amazon, I don't have to drive all the way back to the coast to pick some up!  (Although a trip to the coast is such a small price to pay...)

I am completely head-over-heels in love with Thymes Azur.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

In Which Jaggy Gets Her Sunstone

I admit I'm a bit of a nerd. I'm also a geek.  Okay, all right, I'm a huge nerdy geek.  I appreciate rocks for more than just their sparkle and worth.  My dad was an amateur rock hound before he had kids, so knowing what a geode and a thunderegg and amethyst and agate are comes naturally to me.  When I was a little girl, I heard about this amazing gem that grows in Oregon.  It's called sunstone, and it can be mined by the general public on BLM land on the way southern edge of my home state.  I promised myself that whenever I met my own handsome prince, I'd send him off to the bowels of Oregon (that's like from Eugene south as a Beaver fan) to dig me up some sunstone to wear on my finger instead of boring ol' diamonds.

As most of you know, The Man did not dig my wedding ring out of anything.  He was more of a "buy it on the internet and have it shipped here" kind of guy.  We did get conflict-free stones set in gold, so that's good, but they're all diamonds.  Oh darn, woe is me, right? :)

This weekend was an adventure.  After our all-day family event on Saturday, we sought to get away from people on Sunday at the coast.  The Man and I drove to Newport and Depoe Bay where we wandered in and out of shops.  Most of the shops cater to the froofy women or tourists laden with money to burn.  I'm neither froofy or have money burning holes in my pockets, so we mostly just looked and left each store.  On a total whim, we walked into one place that was more gallery than jewelry store.  Platinum-covered driftwood, fancy bowls, foreign metal sculptures, all very fancy.  Tucked on one side, though, was a nice little display of sunstone jewelry.  Remember that nerdy geek part of me?  Well it sort of started drooling.  A lot.

Sunstone comes in many colors, the darker reds and greens being the most valuable.  I prefer the ambers and lightish peach colors as the schiller is more pronounced.  Schiller is the layer of reflective copper particles that make sunstone glow from the inside.  Sunstone doesn't refract light quite like a diamond, but the copper bits reflect light (re: that whole nerdy bit again).

Apparently I made my desire known to The Man (again, huge piles of drool), so when I tried on a beautiful sunstone ring that *gasp* perfectly fit my right ring finger, it was like fate or karma or something.  Angels sang.  Aaaaaaaand then I looked at the price tag and about died.  I gave the ring back to the nice storekeeper, a little part of me breaking inside.  Sunstone! and no funds with which to purchase my pretties.  We walked off and did some talking.  No way we could afford something that nice, but The Man wanted to know how much some earrings were.  Hope lifted!  The options for earrings were as varied as prices can be. Everything from a whopping four-digit stunning set crusted with other stones down to a very reasonable $40.  Hey, that's less than a pair of shoes.  We can do this.  We can really do this.

These ones are mine.
Color is slightly lighter than shown.
The Man and I agreed to a super tasteful $65 pair of faceted oval studs.  They are slightly pinkypeach with full schiller and fit my little ears perfectly.  The sunstone did come out of the earth right here in Oregon, and they're set in sterling silver.  With my very light complexion and freckles, the pinkypeach color gives a delightful "pop" to my face.  I practically wore those earrings right out of the shop.

YAY!  I got my sunstone at last!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Defending Champ Takes Second

Our annual family get-together was this weekend with The Man's very large extended family.  More people attended this year than I've ever seen, probably close to seventy-five by the end of the day.  We all ate way too much good food, enjoyed tastier desserts than ever, and spent a great morning and afternoon reconnecting.

Each year, his family has a dessert contest.  The competition keeps getting more stiff.  A plain ol' apple pie won't win any ribbons, no sir.  Neither will a sheet cake with simple icing.  Jell-o jigglers? fuggeddaboutit.

The Man was defending "his" title from last year, so we each upped our game this year to reflect our new skills and ideas.  I entered a classic sugar cookie decorated as a strawberry.  The royal icing job looked pretty good (and was technically correct), and the cookie itself was quite tasty even without icing.  The Man entered some chocolate-on-chocolate cake pops dressed as two- or three-eyed monsters.  They were delicious.  New favorite way to eat chocolate cake!  While he did have some help using the oven (he's like other children in the kitchen, okay?), The Man did do all of the decorating part himself.

He ended up placing second to a huge marshmallow-graham cracker-chocolate s'mores volcano that was built buy a team.  I'm not even sure some of the teammates are actually family, so I hesitate to point out the whole "they cheated" bit, but it was a pretty impressive cake to say the least.  Third place was a fantastic farm scene that was entirely edible.  The bakers even had a pond, a standing barn and silo, and the cutest fence I've seen in a long time.  My little strawberry cookies didn't even place.

But the compliments we received on the super tasty cake pops more than made up for that.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A New Job for The Man!

The Man and I have plenty of exciting stories to share with you from our long weekend, including some pictures. No pics today, though, as we just have news.

The Man got a new job!

However exciting that is for you, triple it for us.  We're stoked.  The Man has been working at a job for six months that is destroying our relationship and his free time.  They expect him to work insane amounts of overtime without compensating him for it (exempt, I think not).  They also don't extend any benefits of significance or pay him half of what others pay for the same work.  He started looking for another job after two days at that horrible place.

His new job is only a one-year contract, but there's a very good chance they'll offer him a full-time job at the end of a year.  The company is growing considerably, and they're willing to pay him quite a bit more (and overtime!) than his current job.

Scared to jump into a contract? Yes.  But this is Oregon, an at-will state, so he's really no more or less secure in any job over this one.  He already knows people at the company pretty well and likes the atmosphere there way better than his current job.  He'll have a bit more of a commute, five or ten minutes, and he'll probably have to start work an hour earlier (oh darn, 8am like the rest of us!).

Best part? He'll be home at 5pm.  I will know when I can start dinner and when to expect him home and whether he can have lunch with me and if he can run an errand on his lunch hour.  It's great!  We'll be working about five minutes apart, and there's a great chance we can even drive to work together.  Yeah, not having to pay $200 for parking at OSU? Total plus!  But we'll see how that works this summer...

I think I'm almost more excited for this new job than he is.  I need him to have this new job.  We need him in a new job.  And he's very happy to be moving on.  New titles and all that.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Dones

Our desserts for the dessert contest are done.  Not exactly sure how to transport The Man's... it'll be an adventure getting them to the gathering.

My dress is almost done.  I got the zipper in last night without too much trouble.  I'm down to bias-tape-ing the edges and hemming up the sleeves.  Unfortunately, while the dress fits, it has some major gap-osis problems in the chestal region, so there might not be much I can do.  The pattern just wasn't made for someone with boobs.

Cursed boobs.

Our air conditioner has been installed!  YAY!  It's fully functional and... well, let's just say the install job leaves much to be desired.  Fully functional is a small miracle judging by the amount of packing tape they used to secure it to the sill.  Thrilled to be cool, yes.  Thinking a monkey could have installed it more securely, also yes.

We are both taking a three-day weekend, so after our family thing on Saturday, we'll be spending some much-needed quiet time together.  Maybe at the coast.  I'm pulling for the coast.

What else is done in our little world?  Decision making!  But more on that later.

I am going to finish my dress and then spend my evening playing LEGO Pirates.  Or kicking The Man's butt at some Mario Kart.  Donkey Kong and I are taking names tonight!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Updates from the Kitchen

My dessert entry for this weekend is finished.  The Man's should be finished tonight or tomorrow, depending on the humidity in our apartment.  My huge pot of soup from this weekend has proven better with age.  Too bad I don't even want to look at soup after three days of eating it...

I am loving the rain!

I learned today that copy machines do not order their own toner--unlike what our campus rep told us a couple months ago.  Want to guess how long I spent on the phone with copy machine toner people today?

Between the dress that I'm trying to construct, the dessert contest on Saturday, and trying to hold down the fort at work and at home, I haven't had any creative juices flowing.  Sorry.  We're all just lucky I'm managing to keep up with the laundry.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tales of the Kitchen

My weekend was spent primarily in the kitchen.  Every once in a while those weekends make me happy.  I was excited to start the many adventures, and I'm very glad they're mostly behind me now.

Perhaps I'm the only person on earth that likes soup during the summer.  I like that I only have to heat up the apartment once and then have plenty of healthy leftovers to eat without having to cook again.  I don't mind eating hot food on hot days.  Soup and watermelon go fine together, a sandwich or some chips on the side also make for a tasty lunch.  Tomato soup, chicken and rice or noodles, sausage and kale soup, whatever kind, I like them. Chowders aren't my favorite (too... stewwy), but a broccoli potato chowder can hit a sweet spot.  This weekend, chicken and rice.  Easy peasy.

I also made brownies that didn't turn out.  I'm not exactly sure what happened, but they didn't fully cook and were terribly oily.  I remembered to add eggs, but nothing held together.  That whole effort went in the trash.

Sunday included the beginnings of The Man's entry into his family's annual dessert contest that will be held next weekend.  He has a super special and moderately complicated dessert planned, so without giving much away, we'll just say that there will be no mistaking who brought that treat.  I also finished decorating my entry, an early finish to what will taste better in a week than it does currently.  Between the two of us, I think we're defending first place for the last two years, so there will be some stiff competition between us.  I know many other family members intend to bring their "A-game," so we're ready.  (And if all else fails, I'll make homemade ice cream, because really? who doesn't love homemade ice cream?)

I spent several hours Saturday invested in a new project that I hope to detail more in the next week: I'm making my own dress.  I have a hard time finding dresses that fit and are also rather modest.  A cheap pattern, some spendy fabric, and a whole lot of patience later, I have all of the pieces cut.  Perhaps in the next few evenings I'll find time to do the sewing.  I have to learn how to sew an invisible zipper, how to cut my own bias tape (from a stretchy cotton no less), how to attach pieces together around a curve, and how to make my stupid sewing machine cooperate.  It's that last part that scares me the most.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Not that I Hate Ugg Boots or Anything...

I can think of far too many students that walk past my office each day that desperately need this vaccine.  Seriously, can we ban these boots already?

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Bloody Hot

Oregon-born and Oregon-bred, The Man and I love it here.  We've made the decision to not leave the state (or at least southern Washington) for jobs, even if that means sacrificing better pay or a more glamorous lifestyle.  Our hearts are here, our families are here, and we love all that Oregon has to offer.

Well, except for the heat (and the Californians and the hippies, but that's another story).  Like last night when our bottom-floor apartment was in the 80s all night.  We opened every window we have, had two huge oscillating fans blowing anything not tied down, and plenty of cross-breeze working its magic.  Okay, working its monstrous fail.  We tried everything to get our 800 sq.ft. of living space to chill the heck out, but nothing helped.  The Man and I shucked our quilt off the bed leaving only a thin blanket over our [new!] sheets.  Even that didn't help much.  I put one fan as close to the window as I could, going as far as setting it on top of my dresser to get the air moving at the top of the room, you know, because heat rises and all that.  Unfortunately we can't keep the windows open more than a crack as we're on the first floor.  Allergies, too, are another good reason to keep the windows closed.

So today I called our apartment manager so they would install our air conditioner.  Here's to hoping Breezy McFreezy isn't too big for any of our windows.  He's about to be put to very good use.  A lot.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I could never be a short-order cook, but...

I am totally in love with Burger Shop 2!  It's a simple game to learn, easy to play, and requires lots of quick decisions.  My time in a kitchen has served me well.

Okay, if nothing else this is a great time-waster.  There are worse things to do with my spare time, right?

Monday, July 04, 2011

Hello Sinuses, Meet Mr. Zyrtec

We didn't go outside today.  I stayed inside on the couch with my friends, Mr. Kleenex and his friend Mr. Zyrtec (x3).  The Man was also hanging out with us for a while.  While I wasn't productive in the classic sense, I did get to watch some TV and feel quite rested now.

Yesterday was fun.  The Man's parents came down for his father's birthday dinner.  We made tacos and went geocaching!  Thankfully we found two of three for the evening, and there were a few shady spots along our walk, so we didn't get too terribly warm.  It was a good time.

Saturday night was also enjoyable.  The Man and I went over to my parents' house for a game night.  Mom and I finally kick the guys' butts at continental rummy, our traditional card game of choice.  They whopped us on New Year's Eve, so we had to do some fancy playing this weekend.  We followed the cards with a couple rounds of Blokus (in which I won the first round and got creamed on the second).  Bedtime that night was not until the little number hours, but it was worth it.

A very pleasant holiday weekend, aside from the sniffles and sneezes.  Ugh.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Somedays I Can't Believe Myself

I spent $60 today on make-up.  Every fiber of my being recoiled in horror at the dollar amount, but every ounce of my frivolous side was delighted.  Several hours later, I am still feeling both emotions at the same time.

Now before you get all judgmental on me for a whopping $60, allow me to explain what I bought and why I got what I got.  I set out with a plan, a budget, and my own personal make-up guru.  My sister has been helping me understand the wild world of make-up and fashion for several years, partly because that's what she enjoys, and partly because I need help in that department.  She purchased this fancy make-up palette several months ago, and the colors in it have been growing on me ever since.  The Man agreed that I could also buy the palette if I raised half the money for the cost on mTurk (another post about that later).  I managed to raise that amount in just over two days!

My sister and I set out for Ulta this morning.  I had never been in an Ulta before, so it was all new to me.  We arrived at Keizer Station's store just after it opened.  Thankfully I wasn't greeted by a thousand perfumes or that nasty hairspray and nail polish stench.  I browsed for a while and sniffed a few interesting scents before grabbing my prized palette, handing over my hard-earned dough, and giddily rushing out to the car.

I spent $48 on the Urban Decay Naked Palette.  And it is gorgeous.  In my own defense, knock-off versions of those colors are at least $4 to $5 each in the drugstore and aren't as pigmented (meaning you have to use more to get the same effect).  For all twelve colors, that's already $48.  Some of those beautiful colors aren't even available outside the set.

We then went over to MAC in Nordstrom at Salem Center where I spent another $16-ish on a concealer.  Lots of money again, right?  But it's made to match my super-light complexion exactly, something no drugstore brand can say.  Nobody else goes that light (between NC10 and NC15).  I'm already spending $20 a year on concealer that cakes up and doesn't cover very well, not to mention doesn't last very long, so $16 on a better, longer-lasting product doesn't seem so illogical to me.

Here's to spending a little on myself, a fun morning adventure, and feeling a bit frivolous just this once.

Friday, July 01, 2011

They're Gone!

For nearly three months we endured constant thumping, bumping, stomping, and jumping from the neighbors upstairs.  Yet for the last month or so, we haven't heard a peep.  It was the most blissful month of quiet I've ever experienced.  Last night, as we went out for our evening walk, we happened across some young people unloading a truck.  I inquired if they were moving in above us, and they said they are.  YAY! No more toddlers banging around!  They are childless, and perhaps not even married, but I didn't ask about the latter.  We don't mind hearing footfalls or the occasional stereo, but stompyjumpbumpwhump won't be tolerated.

They're GONE!  Hooray!