Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Try one with a heap of scorn on the side

coupon pies

OK, so I managed to make some "Coupon Pies." In case you're just tuning in, I have previously sung the praises of Pillsbury Crescent rolls/dough, and I have also wondered if I could manage to come up with recipes that use it and Green Giant Frozen vegetables, because they're two things that seem to be always on sale with plentiful stacking coupons available.

Basically, I took some of my leftover xmas ham, mixed it with some (cooked) Green Giant Broccoli in Cheese sauce (yes, I know it's possibly not real cheese, but it is real sauce) and wrapped it all up in Crescent dough sheets (one roll of dough, cut in half, one half per pie). I baked it at 375 for ... Oh, I dunno, a little while. Until it looked like it does in the picture.

The verdict: It was OK. I mean anything with ham and crescent dough is going to be at least OK because, c'mon, it's ham and crescent dough! But I think it would have been better with real cheese and not the cheese sauce that comes with the broccoli. Partially because of the taste, but mostly because the cheese sauce made the bottom a bit soggy. No one wants a soggy bottom. So if I were going to do it again, I'd either use fresh broccoli or buy the frozen kind that's not in cheese sauce, and just add real cheese.

Another thing I'd do differently is come up with a way to fold the top instead of gathering it together, or maybe bake it at a slightly lower temp for a little longer. This is because the part at the top where all the dough comes together didn't cook completely. So to get that part cooked without burning the outside, I think I'd need longer time at lower temp, Maybe. I mean, I really don't know what I'm doing, I just make it all up as I go along ...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Next year you're all getting decorative homemade crap, I promise

I'm really jealous of all these people who come up with "A Year of ..." blog ideas and then get a book deal out of them, maybe even a movie deal, and maybe even another book deal, and so on. Because they never have to go back to that office ever again. I want to not have to go back to that office, but all the good ideas have been taken.

Maybe I should become Pillsbury's bitch. Oops, I almost typed "butch" there instead of "bitch." Well, if Pillsbury wants a butch, I'll be that, too, as long as it pays well and doesn't involve going to an office every day. At any rate, I hereby publicly declare my love for the Crescent Roll. Is there any money in it for me, Pillsbury? What if I decide to blog "A Crescent a day?"

Well, even if there's nothing at all in it for me, here's today's Crescent: I brought home some leftover ham from Xmas dinner at my mom's house. Normally, I make omelets whenever I get any ham, because nothing makes an omelet tastier than a bit of ham, IMO. But when I went for the eggs I noticed I had all these Pilsbury Crescent Rolls and Crescent sheets in the fridge thanks to the fact that they seem to be always on sale at Kroger, with plentiful e-coupons and paper coupons (in that nice 50 cent value that Kroger doubles!), making them nice and cheap. SO I thought I should roll up the ham with some cheese and a bit of broccoli (added only because I felt guilty if I didn't include a vegetable) in a sheet of Crescent dough. I'm sure there's recipe for exactly this somewhere on the Pilsbury site, but who really needs a recipe for this kind of thing? I baked it all at 375 degrees for somewhere around 15 minutes, until it was pretty and golden brown. Yum. It made 2 servings, so one was dinner last night and the other was lunch today.

Later this week, I'm making little piggies in blankets for a New Year's Eve potluck, with Little Smokies I got on sale/with a coupon at Food Lion and, yes! Pilsbury Crescent Rolls! But I need to come up with a vegetarian version, because there will be at least one vegetarian and one person who keeps kosher at this shindig. Carrots in a blanket? Broccoli in a blanket? And no, I'm not going to go buy little vegetarian sausages, because I don't have a coupon for those.

Hmmm, maybe I should spend that next year of my life refusing to buy anything I don't have a coupon for and then I can write a stupid book about it. I wonder who should play me in the movie?

Oh yum, I just thought about a possible combination of Crescent Rolls and that can of dulce de leche that's sitting in my cupboard right now ...

Friday, December 18, 2009

This blog item 99¢ off

  • Furnace inspection guy showed up yesterday a full 45 minutes before the end of his 4-hour "window." The furnace passed inspection.

  • This has nothing to do with anything, but if I were to make a Liz Lemon-esque "Dealbreakers" list I think I would include: "Is more or less my age and still reverently listens to The Smiths." ("Reverently" not including occasionally listening to "Ask" and singing along with gusto, because everyone should do that now and then.) The reason: Smiths reverence past the late 20s often correlates with the emotional maturity of a 13-year-old. Trust me on this one.

  • I may have found a solution to my petsitting dilemma. I don't want to say too much because I'm occasionally just ever so slightly superstitious, and I don't want to jinx it. But let's just say that frequent flier miles and a faraway friend may come to my rescue. Yes, it will likely be cheaper to fly someone in to look after my girls than to pay a local person. Well, the environment will pay the real price because the plane ride carries a heaver carbon burden than a car driving across town, but I'll let your children worry about that. (Insert winky smiley emoticon here to indicate that my callousness is mostly in jest. Not that it will stop me from flying in a friend if that's what it comes to ...) Anyway, it will mean that I won't have the use of those FF miles for my own gallivanting, but after the Wales trip (the ticket for which was purchased long before the furnace fiasco) I think I'll have to shelve the globe-trotting while I rebuild my financial safety cushion.

  • I played Mr. Bluelight's little Christmas Countdown sweepstakes contest game thingie at the Kmart web site and I won a free bottle of Dawn Ultra Dish Detergent. I was running low on dish detergent. Go me.

  • If I could subsist entirely on Pillsbury refrigerated dough products and Green Giant Frozen vegetables I could probably eat incredibly cheaply for months. It seems that I can't turn around without running into coupons for those items, and they also appear to be always on sale somewhere.

  • Oh, and did I mention the $5 yoga class on Sundays. Yes! There is a $5 yoga class on Sunday afternoons! It's Bliss For Less! Plus, they give the money from those classes to various charities. (In December I think it's the Durham Rescue Mission.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Visions of buy 1, get 1 free sugarplums ...

I'm sitting at home waiting for the city furnace inspector to show up to tell me if my installation is within code or not. It's one of those "window" appointments where you have to be there for four hours and then five minutes before the end of the window he finally shows up, so you end up having to take even more time off work to get the thing done ... plus we're talking the City of Durham here, so it will probably be much worse than even that. See, I really love Durham, but I've discovered that the City of Durham is pretty much ineffective, inefficient and downright backwards in just about everything it does. (Please, please Inspector Person, prove me wrong somehow!)

So my new austerity plan is going really well. I've discovered that basking in the feeling of superiority I get when I conquer my materialistic impulses is far better than buying stuff. Unless there's a coupon involved ...

But no, even if there is a coupon involved I've been able to withstand, even if it stings. For example, for months I've wanted a GPS thingie and I've been watching the prices, looking for the big deal that will make me lock and load. So this week, I found it: Target had a deal on a Tom Tom where it was $99.99 and you got a $20 Target gift card with it, PLUS there was an online printable coupon for an extra $10 off. Here was my deal! But no, alas, a GPS is not a necessity. So I can't really buy it right now. Well, I could, but I'd only be sabotaging my "Pay Off the Furnace Now!" campaign.

There is one non-essential expense that I've already committed myself to, back before the furnace thing, and that's my trip to Wales in April. The plane ticket is already paid for, and I'm not so concerned about my expenses on the ground there (even though absolutely everything in the UK seems jaw-droppingly expensive ... or maybe that's just London), because I just won't eat a lot and I'm pretty sure I still have a free place to stay. The expense I'm really worried about is the dog-sitting. It will be between $60 and $70 per day, considering I have 3 dogs. If I had only one dog, I could probably find one of my dog friends to take it on for a week out of kindness, but when you have three no one wants 'em all at once. Even when they are as cute as mine. Last year I did a whole bunch of free dogsitting for The Former Mr. Pants, and I sort of feel like he still owes me. But he suddenly became disinclined to even return a simple phone call after his dog died and he no longer needs my petsitting assistance. So fat chance of me getting fair play out of him. The other option could be my mother. I happen to know that she was just going to write me a check for Christmas. I wonder if she would consider coming to stay at my house for a week in April instead? I guess it won't hurt to ask! Otherwise, it's one more reason I can't have that GPS ...

As for the couponing (and here's where this post gets extra boring if you're not at all interested in couponing), it's going OK in week two. It will be another month or so of Sunday paper coupon inserts before I have the stockpile of coupons necessary to do the deals right. See, the trick is matching the various coupons, store doubling policies, rewards schemes, etc. with weekly specials to stock up on the stuff you need when it's cheap. (There's way more on how it works here if you're curious.) Basically, it's like you're putting together this never-ending puzzle, but you don't get all of the pieces at once, so it only gets more put-together after time. I find it rather fun, but it does take preparation, planning and a bit of effort. I'd rather spend the time than the money at this point, and I think it will get easier when I get the hang of it.

Anyway, my savings in this week's trip to Kroger was not so dramatic as last, mostly because there were things I really needed to buy that I didn't have a coupon for (but I did find most of them on Plus card special, at least) and a couple of things that I needed and had a coupon for but were not on sale. Also, I bought an impulse buy: a bottle of Concha y Toro Riesling, but to my credit it was at least on sale (for $3.99). But still, it was a non-necessity and it pushed my bill up $4.00 that I didn't need to spend.

Nonetheless, before paper coupons and doubling were figured (but after Plus card savings and e-coupons), my bill showed as $63.44.(I have no idea if that included tax or not, because the before-coupons machinations don't show up on the printed receipt. I had to have a pen ready to write that number down.) After paper coupons and store doubling (50c or less at Kroger), it was $47.56. According to the receipt, my savings were: Manufacturer coupons=$14.50, Bonus coupon savings (I think this is the doubling)=$3.40, Kroger Plus savings=$20.05. Except that it doesn't seem to add up correctly, so some of those manufacturer coupons are obviously the e-coupons that were taken off BEFORE the $63.44 total showed. So I saved slightly more than it looks like, but not as much as last week.

All in all, I find the coupon thing to be a little entertaining. So yes, I'm spending more time on grocery shopping and yes, it's a bit of trouble, but I'm having fun with it. Maybe it will get less fun as I go along, but I'll be more efficient at it so it won't take as long. I think. Maybe not and I'll burn out on it. We'll see.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

We had a ropey sound but we gave it some welly

Since the big furnace purchase, I've been having a bit of financial anxiety. I thought I had been living sort of frugally, and in a way I had, but several large expenses over the past year (dog's broken leg, need to buy new glasses with expensive old people's lenses in them, a new laptop, the furnace) have severely dented my cash reserves. Upon close inspection of my finances, I've uncovered lots and lots of places where I could have been way more frugal. So I've kicked myself into a financial mode that I'm calling ... well actually I don't have a name for it. It's the mode where if it isn't essential (and I'm in the process of trying to redefine and streamline "essential"), it's out of the budget. I'm also using an Excel spreadsheet to track all discretionary spending (i.e., not utilities/mortgage/car payment) so I can break down how much really goes exactly where in an attempt to change some habits.

This is so not like me (especially the Excel part). I mean, I'm OK at being cheap--I love buying my clothes at Goodwill way more than buying them new, and I will often shop for non-perishables at the Raleigh Aldi during my lunch break (I wish there was one in Durham!) because their prices can be insanely cheap. But I really need to build my cash reserves back up AND pay off my furnace, and I'd like to do both simultaneously. That may not be possible, so I'll settle for not using up any more of the reserves while I discharge the furnace debt. Dang, I'm even toying with the idea of getting a roommate. Just toying at this point ... for a lot of reasons it's probably just crazy talk, but the idea is in my head.

I'm also looking into ways to bring in a little extra dough (without having to take on freelance design work, because that's something I've decided I don't enjoy at all.) I found one thing that is not to be counted on but, over the past two days, has brought me $30 for right about one hour's work. No, it's not prostitution, (I would charge more than that!) but I'm going to keep it a secret because it involves grabbing the jobs before someone else does, and the less competition the better for me. Let's just say it involves the intertubes and it's something I find quite easy and fun. Yay me!

I've also, with the encouragement and help of girlnblack, decided to give "extreme couponing" a try. It involves a little bit of work and organization, but apparently you can really play the system to get stuff almost for free. It takes a bit of start-up time to amass the proper collection of coupons, but I decided to try to do what I could to start out yesterday at Kroger. I had a batch of groceries that rang up (after the usual Kroger Plus card discounts) at somewhere around $33 (I wish I had written it down, because that amount didn't get printed on my receipt.) After all my coupons, including a $7.00 off the total one from the Kroger packet, I paid $16.34. Apparently, after a month or so of collecting coupons, it can get even better than that, with a lot of items ending up being free if you time the coupon usage just right and work the stores' doubling policies and whatnot.

And in other good news, my $100 credit from PSNC already came through, so not only do I not have to pay my November bill (which was amazingly only 1/3 of what last November's bill was), but I have $75 left over to apply to January's bill ... and maybe even beyond if my new furnace is as efficient as it's cracked up to be.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Being silly is serious business

Really, it costs me nothing but a few minutes of my time to do these things. I just hope the mistresses keep coming out of the woodwork. A friend suggested this one:

Buy it! Buy it now! Buy several!

Monday, December 07, 2009

From your pocket to mine!

Do you have extra money lying around? Well I don't. So when someone (on Facebook of course!) suggested that someone make a T-shirt that says "I had an affair with Tiger Woods and all I got was this lousy T-shirt" I decided that someone should be me. Why the hell not? I need the money. I have the technology. I had a few minutes to spare. Et voilá:

Buy one!! Buy one!!
Tell your friends to buy one, too! I have to pay for my new furnace.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Blood from a turnip

Any of you cool kids ever sold used books on Amazon? I've got sooo very many books lying around ... Chime in if you have any thoughts ...

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Right back to boring again ...

So I got a new furnace. And ductwork. Turns out there are more and less efficient ways to distribute heat/and air, and mine is now more. Funny thing, I can even look at the new ductwork and, applying my college-intro-course-level understanding of how the physical world works, see exactly why it's more efficient than the previous system. Yep, there's all kinds of efficiency going on over here at Casa de Pants.

Now I have to pay for it all. I already took a big hit earlier this year when my cute little dog Pinky broke her leg, and I really didn't want to spend down any more of my emergency cash because, well, I just didn't. So I'm starting out with the "12-month-no-interest" financing thingie that the installer people offered. Normally these deals can be bad news, because they're a way of suckering people into buying crap they don't need and can't afford, like rooms full of furniture and giant TVs and such. But I need a furnace and I was going to have to buy it even without a short-term offer of free money, so I took the offer. Of course, I have to give them ALL the money back before 12 months or they charge mafia-style interest on the whole amount, but I'm not going to let that happen.

Now I'm on a serious money-diet so I can pay this thing off. Essentially, I can officially afford to do NOTHING. Well, I've decided that yoga class once a week is still in because it's just too good for me to give up. And maybe once every couple of weeks I'm allowed to grab a beer or a taco with a friend. But I'm even cutting back on my dog agility which is really my Number One Favorite Thing in life. I was going to travel to the mountains in two weeks for my favorite agility trial all year, but I decided not to even after I was offered a free place to stay at a friend's house. I just decided the entry fees were money I really needed to not be spending at this point. (It's not cheap to enter agility trials.)

I'm also looking at other things to cut ... I would love to get rid of the stupid land-line, which costs almost $40.00 a month just to freaking exist. Not worth it, except that the are places in my house where I have a hard time getting a cell phone signal. So I'm paying almost 40 bucks a month just for the knowledge that I'll be able to call 911 if I need to. That's messed up.

Anyway, I could go on an on about all the things that just seem to cost too frakking much money and are not at all worth it. Maybe I will in coming posts ... it's my blog and I can bore you to death if I want ;-)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Helping to make this world better, one furnace at a time ...

The bad news is my furnace is indeed kaput. Like the inexplicably popular mean girl in high school, it's pretty on the outside but rotten on the inside. It's a long story, which begins many years ago when the thing was first installed. Badly, it seems. Apparently, you can install a furnace in such a way as to slightly impede the flow of air through the hot bits so that they actually end up being a bit too hot. Huh. What a thing. Turns out, getting too hot on a regular basis is bad for the hot bits. They could crack. And cracked hot bits are bad.

I suppose the best way to consider it is that I'm lucky I found out before carbon monoxide eventually started spewing out and killing me slowly. Reminds me of the time when a couple I knew were feeling sick and tired and headachey for a few days, thinking they were both getting the flu. Then their cockatiel keeled over and they realized it was carbon monoxide. (The bird survived. They took it to the hospital with them and the nurses set up a little oxygen tent for it in a closet.)

Funny thing is, the cracked bits weren't what had made my furnace not work. That was a burned out air-induction motor. (Or something like that. I don't know. I only just learned about furnace innards, so my lingo may be off somewhat.) But the technician guy started saying "this isn't right ... that way this is installed ... the air can't be moving correctly through this thing ..." and whatnot, until he finally said "I need to look at that heat exchange unit because if you're going to spend $400 or so on a motor, I want to be sure the furnace is worth it."

I started thinking "No! Looking for trouble is bad! See no evil! Don't go in there! Oh nooooooooo!" But I just stood there ... well, crouched there because it was the crawly part of the basement ... and felt the dread growing.

Anyway, blah blah blah, lots of anguish and advice and estimates later, I'm getting a new furnace on Friday. And I'll qualify for federal tax credits for being so dang energy-efficient, too. And PSNC will give me a $100 credit on my gas bill, which will presumably be a little lower because of all the efficiency that will be going on around here. And I will use less energy or create less pollution or both or whatever, officially making me a Better Person. Yay me.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Boring beats bad any day

Things were going swimmingly. Too swimmingly. I couldn't even think of anything to blog about because my mind was all "La la la la la, life is fine." Things were a tad on the boring side, but I've learned that can be a good thing, or if not, a condition easily alleviated with books and Netflix ...

Then I went to see my mum in Myrtle Beach for the weekend (she's fine, it all went fine and I bought a bag of toy plastic pirates). When I got home, I found the house a bit chilly. About 56 degrees ... but I had it set at 60 ... why hadn't the furnace kicked on?

I tried to get it to come on by turning the thermostat up to 70. Nope. I switched it from "auto" to "on." The fan came on, but it was blowing cold air. Feck. The damn thing's broken.

But maybe not! I've been trying to stay optimistic lately, so I tried to come up with happier scenarios. Maybe the pilot light just went out! I once lived in a crappy cheap apartment in Wisconsin with a three million-year-old furnace that had a dodgy pilot light, and I was always having to trudge down to the basement to re-light it if I wanted heat. Which was always, because it was Wisconsin, for crissakes. What a pain in the ass that was. I'm not sure what about that memory caused me to be optimistic, but it did.

So I headed down to inspect the furnace, fully realizing that a good homeowner would have had someone out to look at it back in September before it got cold. Oh well. Too late now. In fact, I'd never even taken a really good look at the furnace before, mostly because it's in the inconvenient, gravel-floored crawly part of the basement, not the convenient concrete-floored standy/walky part. That's what you pay a home inspector to do when you buy, right? He had said it looked great, so I just left it to do its job, which it knows better than I do. Why micromanage? (Yeah, I know why ... shutup, OK?)

Well wow, my furnace really is nice, as far as furnaces go! Way nice compared to the old Wisconsin furnace. I figured out how to get the openy part open, but there was no pilot light to be seen. There was, however, an instruction and warning sticker, mounted sideways and difficult to read. But I read it and learned that my furnace has a fancy new-fangled self-lighting pilot. Easy breezy, I thought, I'll just follow the instructions and get her going again.

The instructions involved walking back upstairs (through the outdoors, as my basement is exterior-access), turning off the power to the furnace, turning the thermostat all the way down, going back to the basement, turning the gas control to "off," waiting five minutes, turning it back on, going back upstairs, restoring power and turning the thermostat up again. Fine, I figured, it's not a pain in the ass if it works and saves me a repair call.

It didn't work. I even did it twice just in case I hadn't held my mouth right the first time. So now I'm waiting for the repair guy to call and hoping it ends up being some small, easily replaced part. Surely a furnace so nice and pretty wouldn't need to be replaced altogether. What would I do if I found out I needed a new furnace? Maybe move to Mexico where life is warm and cheap ...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This is where I would put the title if this post had one

One time a friend (Let's call her Lisa, because that's her name, but it's not that Lisa, I mean, it's not the Lisa I refer to here sometimes as "the other Lisa," it's still another Lisa) told us (meaning some other friends and I) that she dreamed we had gotten her a birthday cake depicting a fire hydrant with the message "Have a Hound Dog Good Birthday." So of course, guess what we did for her birthday ...

So anyway, woo, today's my birthday. That's another thing Facebook is good for ... it tells people (some people ... not me, or at least I don't know how to get it to tell me) when it's their friends' birthdays. So it seems like people remember me but really Facebook tells them what to do.

Also, Star 102.9 FM, a radio station somewhere in New Mexico, sent me an email wishing me happy birthday. Maybe Facebook told them.

Also also, I completely forgot to not, as I do every year, to not my blogiversary. Six years ago last Monday I started this here little bloggy thingie. Yeah, I know, so what ...

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

If I could write you a song it would be about food

Sometimes the uneventful life is the good life. But occasionally I like having some small something to rant about.

Saturday night I got zero trick-or-treaters. But I know they were out and about because I could hear people talking and laughing as they down my street. I have no idea why they didn't stop at my house. I had a light on in the screen porch, which is the entry I use for my house (and the easiest one to reach from the driveway.) Isn't that supposed to indicate that you're there and have candy to give? There was, however, no light over the front door, which I never use. That light burned out a while back and I never bothered to replace it. Maybe that kept them away?

So next year I'll do one of two things: A) put some sort of lanterns down the driveway to indicate that yes, I'm Halloween-friendly, or B) don't buy any fucking candy. I'm thinking B might be easiest. I wasn't really that upset about not having to get up and give out candy and deal with excited barking dogs over and over again.

Whilst awaiting the trick-or-treaters who stood me up, I made a pizza. I used a different crust recipe, which resulted in a really good thin and crispy crust. It would have been a fabulous pizza if I hadn't put too much basil on it. I didn't even know it was possible to have too much basil but, yes, it really is. I took a photo but the photo sucked. It wasn't an exceptionally photogenic pizza.

But my boots photographed very well:

superhero boots

Friday, October 23, 2009

It was never really like that even back when it was like that

Three times over the past couple of weeks I've started blog posts, written a bit (in one case, quite a long bit), and then thought "Meh, boring." and quit. Is that writer's block or thinker's block?

Anyway, all this week I've been wondering exactly what illness I'm fighting off. My immune system is winning against something, but I don't know what. But whatever it is, it's never a good idea to Google the phrase "mild flu-like symptoms" unless you want to be convinced you're going to die soon.

Friday, October 09, 2009

You're too busy trying not to appear shallow to actually be deep

So, Facebook sort of steals my blogging thunder. It's far easier to blurt out a however-many-characters-or-less status update than to actually write a blog entry. It's like the internet is killing the internet. Or something.

Anyway, I'm still wondering exactly how to work the whole Facebook friend thing. I thought it was supposed to be a place to "connect" (whatever the hell that means) with people you already know (even if you've never met them in person ... hi online friends! Love ya!). But I often get friend requests from friends of friends, i.e., people who only know me from comments I've posted on friends' status updates. I always feel in a quandary about whether to accept or not ... I usually end up doing it because, well I guess because I don't want to be unfriendly or anything ...

But sometimes I feel like I have too many "friends." I have such a huge barrage of status updates to sift through and I think I miss half of the "important" ones. I'll be talking to someone in "real" life and they'll say something like "I posted that on Facebook, didn't you see it?" Then I feel bad because it's like I'm ignoring them or something, when really I just didn't have time to get through all the posts from all the people whose lives have ever intersected mine ...

I know you can hide people so their updates don't show up, but then why am I their "Facebook Friend" in the first place?

Despite the effort required to write the damn posts, blogging is in some respects much easier. You're free to come read what I write if you want to ... or not. Nothing really to keep track of on my end. But then there are all of your blog posts waiting for me to read in my RSS feed ...

Thursday, October 01, 2009

She turned me into a newt. I got better.

I posted a couple of food pictures over at Flickr yesterday ...

bacon bacon waffle

They happened to be two things that were particularly delicious to me. So someone ... not a "Flickr friend" or anything, just someone who'd never commented before, came by and made a couple of comments implying that the delicious delicious food was gross. The comments have since been dispatched into electronic limbo, so I can't quote verbatim, but I'll approximate. On the flan photo, the person had written "WTF? WTF? Reminds me of this (with "this" being link to some horrid molded gelatinized creation of yore that you find in old cookbooks full of unfortunate recipes.) On the bacon bacon waffle photo, she had said something like "This is f*cked. What is this American fascination with bacon?"

A better person than I probably wouldn't have been pissed off by the comments, but I was. First off, what rock does someone have to live under to be unfamiliar with flan (i.e., baked custard)? And if you don't like flan (some poor souls don't, bless their hearts), wouldn't it be nicer and more polite to just say "I don't care for flan," or, better still, say nothing and go look at another photo? But it was the bacon comment that really pissed me off, mostly the implication that a love of bacon was somehow indicative of the general inferiority of Americans to ... well, I don't know what nationality the commenter is. And considering that I've eaten bacon in almost every country I've visited (somewhere around 12ish maybe, although I could be forgetting something), there's nothing at all uniquely American about bacon, or the love thereof. There's lots of stuff you can criticize Americans for and I won't protest, but bacon love is too universal among the bacon-eating peoples of the world to be one of them.

So me being me, my first impulse was to tell the commenter to fuck off. And I did, in those exact words, along with other words explicitly telling the commenter to go away and don't come back.

Then I remembered that I'm having a happy life right now, and snipey snarkiness, no matter how warranted, usually just makes me feel more snipey and snarky, i.e., less happy. Did I really want to get into a war of vitriol with some stupid random stranger on Flickr? Nah. Better to just push buttons to make her disappear and then go on with my life. So I deleted both of our comments and blocked her from my photostream. She can go insult someone else's beloved foodstuffs, and I'm free to look at my flan photo and sigh contentedly with the memory of how fabulously delicious it was.

I win.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I didn't tell you I was going but I'm back now

I went

they've got baggage

to Chicago for the weekend. To see my friend Jackie.

jackie french toast

I ate too much.

they call it "the doughnut"

As the result of a long story, we ended up having to go to Naperville. While there, we stumbled upon a pow pow. There was dancing.

fancy feather double bustle dancer

And some laughs.

Herman Logan used to be a Fancy Feather Double Bustle dancer ... from bunchofpants on Vimeo.

Had fantastic seats for a White Sox game.

ozzie says hey

Too bad they lost to Detroit.

Also met a euphonium player wandering around the University of Chicago campus ...


... who took requests:

"Single Ladies," euphonium version ... from bunchofpants on Vimeo.

And that was just Saturday ... I stayed until Monday evening.

I'd go on but I'm actually a little exhausted.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I'll be the squirrel and you be the nut

Doing things, doing things ... I always feel like I need to write about doing things (as opposed to just thinking about them ...). And by that I mean doing things other than sitting on the sofa eating Moose tracks and watching Desperate Housewives or The IT Crowd on DVD. (God Damn These Electric Sex Pants! You there, computer man, fix my pants!)

I did some radio on Saturday--Mondo Mundo. First time in almost a year. Things were going swimmingly until sometime in the second hour when I had it together enough to get more than one track cued up at a time, and of course I started pushing the wrong button to start the wrong song, pushing the wrong button to eject the wrong cd ... etc. I think my playlist kicked a little ass, though.

Also, I made pizza! It looked like this:

i made pizza

It tasted pretty good, but I made the mistake of trying to make it all "healthful" and stuff by substituting 1 cup of the white flour with whole wheat flour. I had forgotten that I just don't really like whole wheat pizza crust. I used "quick and easy" crust recipe I found on Allrecipes.com, but I think next time I'll see if a not-so-quick one tastes better. Also, what if I put butter in the mix instead of olive oil? That just seems like it would be yummier, but maybe there's some pizza-crust chemistry reason why I shouldn't do that ...

As for the top of the pizza, it all came out of a can (except for the cheese, which came out of a plastic wrapper) because that's what I found in my cupboard, and the decision to make the pizza was based on the fact that it was a dinner I could make without going to the store. So again, I guess Michael Pollan can bite me ...

Monday, September 14, 2009

I try to use my power tools for good and not evil

I was afraid this place was in danger of becoming some sort of food blog because I posted so much about cooking, but fortunately I haven't cooked a damn thing in a couple of weeks. I baked some dog brownies (made with salmon, mmm!) and heated up or assembled a few meals (sloppy joes!), but that's about it. One night I had cheese for dinner. Yes! Cheese! Being an adult is fun sometimes.

Anyway, what I feel like now is a DIY maven. I fixed something. Fixed it good.

What happened is that my basement door suddenly wouldn't latch or lock. I store some good stuff there, stuff I don't want stolen, so I was a little distressed about the new lack of lockability. I'm not sure how it came about; apparently something (the door? the house?) shifted enough so that the latch on the doorknob no longer lined up with the strike plate on the door jamb. On another door, I probably would have been able to move the strike plate down a bit to meet the latch, but this door jamb is made of metal, and the recession for the latch is built-in. The only way to make it line up again would have involved taking the door off, doing something, I don't know what, to it and re-hanging it. No way I wanted to get into that. (Or I could have called up a handyperson, said "fix this" and then paid him or her whatever the price was, but I'm cheap and not very wealthy.)

So I had the bright idea to just slap a deadbolt on the thing, and use that to lock it instead of the doorknob. Brilliant! I go off to the hardware store (Triangle True Value at Woodcroft--they are very nice and helpful there; it's much less of an ordeal than wandering around a big box), and ask them to arm me with all the weapons I need to install a new deadbolt. Unfortunately, I had sort of forgotten the pesky but very important detail about the metal door frame until after I got home. Crap. How the hell do I make a hole in that?

Here's where I want to say something nice about Facebook. I posted my dilemma in my status update, and while I didn't get the exact solution, I got lots of helpful or encouraging comments. I decided that I would, by crikey, make a damn hole in the damn door frame, whatever it took.

It took a couple more tools: a titanium drill bit and a tungsten carbide cutter bit for my Dremel. I should have gone back to True Value and presented my dilemma, and the guys there would have armed me again with whatever I needed, but I was a little embarrassed that I had forgotten the part about the metal door frame when I was there previously. So I took a vague idea of what I wanted to the blue big box home store that just opened near me at MLK and Fayettville Rd. (it's shiny!), and wandered the tool corral. I found the drill and Dremel bits, but I wanted some sort of confirmation that they might work. So I finally cornered an employee who was trying to scurry by unnoticed, presented my dilemma and proposed solution to him and asked if he thought it would work. "Yes," he said. He seemed almost elated that what I asked required little thinking or effort on his part. For all I know the guy was an intergalactic visitor newly arrived through the rift and "yes" was the only English word he could say. Whatever. I was going to make a damn hole in that damn door frame no matter what anyone told me.

In addition to the tools, the task required a crapload of determination, strong arms and hands and a lot of swear words. (Do not skip that last step! You'd be amazed that the regenerative power of "F" and "GD" words when you are ready to give up on something.) I started by drilling a big hole with the titanium drillbit. On hindsight, I realized I should have gotten a bigger bit, because that was the easiest part of the whole job and a bigger starting hole would have gotten me finished much more quickly. I had been afraid that if something didn't work out, the bigger bit would do more damage than a smaller one, but the bit worked beautifully.

Once I had the initial hole, my plan was to use the Dremel to bore it out to deadbolt size and shape. The problem was that the tungsten carbide cutter wasn't ideal for the job. Even though on the outside of the package it clearly said "for wood, metal, blah blah blah," on the inside it said "not for use on metal." I decided to try it anyway, because the alternative was to go back to the store and I was burning daylight. So I started grinding away, but progress was slow. It was hard to see that the Dremel was making any visible difference, and it was getting damn hot and throwing sparks. (The is is a good place to note that yes, I wore eye protection and a dust mask.) I started getting a bit frustrated.

I decided to see what else I could do with the drill while letting the Dremel cool down a bit. What I ended up doing was treating the drill like a little Sawzall, just hacking away at the hole, which very slowly got larger. Then I'd put the drill down and Dremel a bit, switching back and forth between the two, stopping every now and then to see if the hole was big enough for the deadbolt. It was grueling, not very fun and all the vibration was making my hands hurt. But the longer it took and the harder it seemed, the more determined I became that there would be an F-ing hole in this GD door frame.

After I don't know how long, I did my deadbolt test and the thing worked! I now had a locking deadbolt. Damn! It felt good. This task was exactly the kind of thing the former Mr. Pants would have taken care of back when I was married, and I'm pretty convinced I did it quicker and more efficiently than he would have (not to mention he probably wouldn't have gotten around to it until after the lawn mower was stolen). Ha!

Now I need a new floor in the kitchen. I wonder if my super powers are up to it ...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Good food, bad photo

stuffed peppers

I tried stuffed peppers last night. Not bad! I perused a few online recipes for inspiration, and decided to do a tomato lentil couscous filling, topped with cheese and some basil. The recipe might have even made Michael Pollan happy: nothing from a can or a jar! And some of the ingredients were locally grown (in my friend's garden), although a few were from Kroger, which means they could have been grown in Paraguay for all I know. Also, I have no idea where to get locally produced couscous or lentils. I guess in the perfect Pollan world I'd have to do without those ingredients.

The only thing I thought when I ate one last night was that it could have used a little more cheese. But then everything could always use a little more cheese.

I barely made a dent in the tomatoes, and I still have some peppers left. I ended up freezing a bunch of the basil ... I probably should have made pesto with it but I had to go to dog class and I just didn't have the time. I hope it survives the freezing, but just in case it doesn't I kept one sprig and and am trying to root it. I'll see if I can keep a windowsill basil plant going all winter and then next spring I will force myself to overcome my garden laziness and at least plant some herbs.

Monday, August 31, 2009

You must have the courage of your convictions

I'm in possession of more ingredients and am trying to figure out what to do with them. My friend Cindy gave me a bunch more tomatoes (including lots of romas), yellow, orange and green bell peppers, some banana peppers (some hot, some not, but I've jumbled them all together and now I'm not sure which is which) and a bunch of basil.

The tomatoes and basil are easy: pizza margherita! But I've got way more tomatoes and basil than I need for that, unless I were going to make ten of them. So now I need to find recipes for the rest of the stuff. Easy recipes.

I should have done something with all these fresh things last night, but I was exhausted after spending the day training dogs at Cindy's house. Aside from being way out in the middle of Alamance county, the place is a little paradise with an agility field, horses, a huge garden and a really gorgeous landscaped patio area. She's got a husband who is constantly doing projects around the place. I've never seen him not working on stuff. I never had one of those ... mine watched movies all the time. Where does one go to get one of the useful ones? Not that I want another one. But I really could use a shed out back ...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Every time I phone you I just want to put you down

Still more yoga ... last night I went to a "deep stretch" class. Meh, not deep enough. The stretch I need probably requires a medieval torture rack.

As for the cooking thing ... I think I've gone off it, at least temporarily. Last night I made garlic bread for dinner.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Restored, but not for long

I went to the "restorative" yoga class yesterday. It was great--a little on the easy side, but very relaxing. I felt fantastic afterward.

Then as soon as I got to work this morning I was an aching ball of tension all over again. I think I tense up and become very uncomfortable as soon as I walk in the door. Plus my chair is horribly uncomfortable. My desk is uncomfortable. My entire existence is painful whenever I am here.

When I get home, I start to feel better again.

Yeah, I know. Don't even say it or you'll just piss me off.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

He smelled his first poem on a buttery day

I did some things I had planned to do. That doesn't always happen.

Friday night I made chilaquiles. I cut the tortillas into strips before frying them, just because I've seen it done that way at restaurants. But I didn't realize until I was making the stuff that I didn't have any jalapeños. I had thought I did, but no, all I had were green chiles. So it didn't end up very spicy, and the bit I ate Friday night was rather boring. (Not that I like things too spicy, however. A friend and I had ultra-spicy chilaqiles at a local taqueria that neither one of us could eat.)

Anyway, I tried figure out how to rescue the chilaquiles, and I saw I had some hot red enchilada sauce in the cupboard. So I layered the meaty/beany stewy stuff in a casserole dish with the fried tortillas and some cheese, and then I doused it liberally with the enchilada sauce and stuck it in the fridge. Last night I pulled it out at baked it at 350 degrees for ... I don't remember how long. Until it looked baked. It was delicious! Hooray!

If I hadn't been able to save it I think I might have gone off cooking for a while. One of the (many) reasons I don't cook much is that after all the effort, I often don't like what I make. Wouldn't it be easier just to have a sandwich? That way I don't waste my effort (and expense) for what could be a big letdown. A sandwich is easier to predict.

Also, I went and did actual yoga in an actual yoga class yesterday. Nobody laughed at me. Everyone in the class was a beginner except for one Experienced Yoga Girl who was slumming in our class because she was apparently trying to get her boyfriend into yoga. He put forth a brave effort, but I'm not sure if he was having a lot of fun. I actually did have fun, except for a few brief moments in a few poses, er, asanas I guess they're really called. Unfortunately, when I went in I had a tiny glimmer of a headache, and by the time class was done I had developed an actual migraine. So any yoga high I may have had was ruined. Still, my body felt much better than usual. I'm usually plagued by muscle tension, stiffness and miscellaneous aches and pains. At least one part of my body is in discomfort or pain at any given time. After the yoga, not so much.

Unfortunately, my normal schedule probably won't allow for a lot of yoga classes. I'm on a break from dog classes right now, but they start up again next week, plus I've got some weekend agility trials to go to. During the week I take three agility classes (one with each dog) and I teach two classes, so it's not going to be easy to make yoga class a habit. I think I'll go to a "restorative" yoga class today, and then maybe something during the week, but then I think it will be three weeks before I can maybe fit in a class. Bummer.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Just doing stuff because that's what I do ...

My favorite guambat suggested I make some chilaquiles, and that's what I'm going to do! I decided thay should have chicken in them, because that's how I've always gotten them at a restaurant, and cooking chicken nets chicken broth, another ingredient, too. So last night I put a bunch of drumsticks (my favorite part of the chicken. White meat is for chumps.) in the crock pot for about 5 hours, and now I have both chicken and broth. Tonight I'll turn it all, plus a few other things, into chilaquiles!

Also, tomorrow I'm going to go take an actual yoga class. I've dabbled in yoga in my living room with the help of books (when I had a cat I would do "cat yoga," wherein I'd do a pose and Kitty would hop right up and make himself comfortable on me. I also did Gomey doggie yoga, wherein I'd do a pose and Mr. Gomez would push his head into the side of my body and knock me over. Good times.), but I've never actually gone to a class before. There's something intimidating about it. (Cue Piper Laurie saying "they're all going to laugh at you") But when you do everything right, there's a yoga high you can get, and that's what I'm after.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I like to laugh

I watched this video many times this morning, and it never stopped making me laugh. What a lovely way to start my day:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Exploring the possibilities of mediocrity

After making a tomato pie last week, I also made a quiche (I had an extra frozen pie crust, because they sell them in twos). It had lots of tomatoes in it (had a bunch of those left, too). It was OK.

I also started a "use up all the stuff in my cupboards and freezer" project. Because I had ground turkey and corn tortillas in the freezer (I got a package of about a million corn tortillas from a woman at work whose husband works for a tortilla company), and beans, green chiles and a can of green enchilada sauce in my cupboards, I made an enchilada casserole. It was OK.

The good part is that these things have provided me with stuff to carry to work for lunch every day. The bad part is that they've ensured my lunch is nothing to really look forward to. But it's cheap.

So I'm open to ideas for things to make for less-boring lunches. Bonus points if the ingredients are already in my cupboard or freezer. Extra bonus if it's something outlandishly easy to make. And I've already thought of pb&j sandwiches ...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sometimes violence is the solution

A couple of months ago my great little pocket camera (Sony DSC-W150) malfunctioned after I dropped it. When I turned it on, the lens would go in and out for a couple of minutes, and then it would give me the message "Turn camera off and then on again." Turning it off and on just led to the same thing all over. I've come to feel that I must have a camera with me at all times, so I ran out and bought another one (Sony DSC_S980), which is nowhere near as good as the broken one, but a lot cheaper. I really missed my good camera. The new one sorta sucks, really. It's slow to focus, slow to cycle, not as good in low light, doesn't give me nearly as much control in manual mode and it has a Sony lens, which is noticeably not as good as the Carl Zeiss lens on the W150.

The other day I decided to see if the Google could help me figure out how to fix the old one. Turns out the problem is very common: the lens, which extends when the camera is turned on, can get very slightly out of alignment if the camera is dropped. But the solution that seemed to work like a charm for everyone is: drop it again. Or maybe not drop it; most people had success just rapping it solidly against a table or a countertop. I was a little trepidatious about slamming my favorite camera around on purpose, but then I figured, hell, it doesn't work anyway. So I gave it a quick medium-hard slam ... and whaddya know, the damn thing works again.

This makes me very happy.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Things that make me happy ...

Hello and welcome to the first installment of a feature I'm going to call "Things That Make Me Happy." I say it's the first installment, but for all I know, it could be the only installment. I'm not always so good on follow-through. But let's just pretend I am, for now ...

Today's Thing That Makes Me Happy (TTMMH) is: Scott Mills The Musical!

About 6 months ago, I got a little Sanza Fuze mp3 player, and I thought one good use for it would be to do something like learn Portuguese via podcast. That lasted about a day, and instead I got hooked on a few other podcasts, including a few from NPR (Car Talk, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, This American Life, Fresh Air and Planet Money), but most especially the Scott Mills Daily from BBC Radio 1. I have literally not missed an episode since I started listening (although Scott has--he does inconsiderate things like going on vacation, etc.) Anywho, a few months ago, a listener suggested that Scott & crew create "Scott Mills" The Musical" and perform it at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Surprisingly, Radio 1 ran with idea and the musical has been playing this week. I felt a bit of a twinge knowing there was no way I'd get to see it, so imagine my happiness when I discovered they are putting the whole thing online. Yay happiness!

What I'd really, really love, however, is if someone I knew became a diehard Scott Mills fan as well so I'd have someone with whom to laugh over things like The Barry Island Texter (Doot! Mun!). Or perhaps we could co-author a letter to Scott and listen for it to be read over the air by The Posh Radio 4 Lady ...

Anyone?? Bueller?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The not quite joy of cooking

I saw Julie and Julia on Sunday. What a sweet, good-hearted movie. It made me really want to poach an egg. I've eaten poached eggs before, but never actually done any poaching of my own. So I'm adding that to my list of things to do, which is looking like this right now:
  1. Decide on dates for Spring trip to Wales
  2. Be a better person
  3. Poach an egg
As part of being a better person (see item #2 above), I've decided I need to be more forgiving. So for example, I should forgive Michael Pollan for his blatant personal attack on my way of life in the NYT a couple of weeks ago. Well, the part about watching cooking shows doesn't apply to me because I don't have time for them, and I'm not sure I would watch them if I did. But it's true, I don't really cook. Sometimes I assemble a meal, and I occasionally bake things, but aside from a mad cooking kick once every five years or so, I actively avoid actual cooking whenever possible. So even though I don't believe that not cooking is as horrible as Pollan makes it out to be, I've started wondering if I could make myself enjoy cooking a little more, and if that in turn would put more joy in my life. I mean, I know a lot of people who really get into cooking, and it seems to bring them happiness. Shouldn't I try it? Or rather, give it one more try, I mean.

So Monday evening I was paging through Durham Magazine while waiting for a haircut (am I the only one who thinks Durham magazine is a big pretentious bore?) Anyway, a little recipe for tomato pie caught my eye. My friend Cindy had given me a whole bunch of home-grown tomatoes, and I was starting to get tired of tomato sandwiches. I could put them in a pie! OK, so really, a pie is technically more baking than cooking, but it involved chopping onions and sauteéing them in butter which most definitely is cooking. I quickly pulled my tiny notebook out and jotted down the recipe, and then after my haircut I went straight to Harris Teeter and bought the ingredients I needed. The recipe called for a pre-baked pie crust, at which Michael Pollan would undoubtedly sneer, but if I'd had to make a pie crust from scratch I probably would have skipped making the pie altogether. Baby steps. I'll get to making actual pie crusts one of these days. Maybe.

The recipe was a snap. It called for a topping of cheese mixed with mayonnaise, but I'm not a big mayonnaise fan and I was afraid I wouldn't want to actually eat the pie if it had mayonnaise in it, so just used cheese. (Maybe that's why I don't always like cooking--I have a hard time sticking exactly to the recipe sometimes, and I end up not always liking what I make. Maybe I'm sabotaging my own efforts to justify my laziness? Who knows.)

Anyway, the pie came out looking like this (and smelling heavenly!):

tomato pie

It was tasty, but way, way to liquidy. That's a problem with tomatoes--they release so much water when cooked. I had to drain the pan a bit after cutting out the first piece. Maybe a more experienced cook would know what to do about that. It tasted pretty good. Not to die for or anything, but at least it didn't make me want to throw it out and eat a grilled cheese sandwich instead, which is often what happens when I cook.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Oh! What's occurrin'?

I have something else to be happy about: next spring I will be going to Wales! (Actual dates TBD.) I'll visit two fabulous Flickr friends, one of whom has somehow convinced his parents into offering me a room in their house! There will be castles and music and pints, and I'm hoping to catch a glimpse of the Torchwood SUV. Yay me!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

In case you're wondering, I'm doing great ...

I'm rethinking the whole blog thing ... seems I'm just not as into it as I used to be.

But today I've been feeling happier and more optimistic about life than I have in a while (even mowing the lawn just now felt fun! Crazy!), and it made we want to write something in this here blog ... well, now I don't what exactly. Um, hey, my lawn is freshly mowed!

Maybe I just want to be happy in public, but I'm too lazy to leave the house ...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Never say Neverland ...

I was completely all meh about Michael Jackson in life, so I didn't see any reason to change after his death. No, I didn't watch any of the hoopla on TV. But somewhere I stumbled upon this link to Vanity Fair articles about him from 1994-2005 by Maureen Orth. I liked Orth's book Vulgar Favors, about Andrew Cunanen, so I decided to read the articles (every one of them, and they're not at all short) despite my meh-ness about Michael. Oh blerg! I am no longer meh ... more like a bit grossed out. Is it awful to really think someone is probably better off dead?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

What year is it again?

I'm not going to say how many years it's been since I paid for a City of Durham yard waste collection sticker. I don't want to embarrass the city by publicly announcing how long it was possible to go on getting my leaves and shrub trimmings picked up without paying for it. Apparently the city is now cracking down, however. Tuesday I found a little notice sticking out the top of my still-full bin that said my yard waste wasn't picked up because my sticker is expired. (Way, way, way expired, to be exact.)

Fine, I've had so many years of free pick-up that I suppose I'm getting a bargain for my $60 fee at this point. And the alternative would be to buy a chipper and then spend a bunch of my yard-work time running everything through it and then buying or building a bigger compost bin to accommodate it all. Meh. I'll give the city some money.

The little notice instructed me to call a phone number (which happens to be the Durham One-Call number), but I figure this must be something I could take care of online. I mean, how hard would it be for me to fill out a web form, have the fee either billed to a credit card or added to my water bill, and then receive my cart sticker in the mail? Well, apparently the City of Durham thinks it's still 1990, because my options are a) Print a PDF form off of the web site, fill it out, fax it back and then wait to see what happens or b) Call Durham One-Call and talk to a person, who possibly may hook me up with a yard waste sticker or, if my previous experiences with the City of Durham are any guide, will probably tell me to go to the web site, download the form, fill it out, fax it and wait.

To test my hypothesis,I'm calling the number right now ...

... wait for it ...

I am correct!! If you call the number and ask to order a yard waste sticker, the nice lady tells you to go to the web site, print the form, and fax it in. You can't see me but I'm rolling my eyes. Oh Durham, you're such a hopeless dork.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

But what if I don't want a damn 95-gallon recycling cart ...

So the City of Durham is going to deliver 95-gallon recycling carts to everyone and make us use them whether we need them or not. Don't get me wrong, I obey the law and recycle what it tells me to, not that I think doing so actually saves the world or anything, but I do it. I'm a relatively obedient citizen. But I don't even generate enough recyclables in two weeks to fill up my existing little 18-gallon blue bin, so what the fuck do I want a 95-gallon cart for? Could you at least let me fill it with all these excess yogurt tubs I've accumulated? NO? Bastards.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Forgot to mention ...

I named my new dog Talladega. My friend Ryan calls her "Charlotte Motor Speedway." He's got the right idea ... I'm hoping she'll be fast. I call her "Tally," which turns out to be an excellent call name.

Monday, June 01, 2009

My favorite bit of Durham ruined by assholes ...

Brontosaurus Damaged by Vandalism
Originally uploaded by Museum of Life + Science.

Someone has ruined a Durham landmark forever. The old brontosaurus at the Museum of Life and Science has been decapitated. This makes me incredibly sad and horribly angry at the same time. You can read more here.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Something came over me ...

I got a new dog. Well, I'm pretty sure I did, at least, The rescue group will take her back no questions asked if I decide she's not the dog I'm looking for, but I'm pretty sure she is, unless I find out she has congenital knee, hip or elbow problems. She's a cutie. Look:

say hello ...

I wrote more about it all over at my other blog. The important point is I can't think of what to name her. I came up with four names: Caprica Six, Miss Demeanor, Alabama and She-Ra, Princess of Power. But I haven't been able to pick one. Then a co-worker suggested Eileen, which is funny ("Come on, Eileen!") and another co-worker suggested Talladega, which is a hell of a good name for an agility dog. But I still can't decide. You can tell me what you think by taking my stupid survey.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Gimme the 411 on tacos in raleigh ...

I was talking today to folks at work about tacos and pupusas, and everyone said "We don't have any taquerias here in Raleigh." I know that has to be a lie ... but then I couldn't actually think of any off the top of my head. Then again, I don't really know Raleigh ... I just work there and then I get the hell back to Durham, where we have muchos tacos buenos (and pupusas too)! So I'm axin' ya: Where are the Raleigh taquerias? Are they any good? I've seen a few taco trucks, but I don't know where to find them at lunch time on a week day. I'd like to find a good place I can coax some co-workers to for lunch one day. Anyone? Bueller?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

And indeed they did get on very well ...

no running, no jumping ...

I've been busy lately, I suppose ... First of all, Pinky broke her leg, which I discuss over at the other blog I regularly neglect.

in my backyard

As a result, I've been engaged in some serious yard work to clear up the jungle around the edges of my backyard. Why would a broken dog cause a backyard overhaul? Because she only ever wants to poop in the bushes, and since she's not allowed off leash at this point, I have to follow her. But right now, the bushes are frighteningly overgrown and dense because the people who lived here for the past 16 years never, ever trimmed a single thing that grew in that yard. They also seemed to have gotten rid of 16 years worth of fallen tree limbs by piling them amidst the thickets, along with lots of stones and terra cotta piping. So now I'm clearing it all away and when I'm done, I'll have a lovely little nature path around the rear portion of my little estate.

'our little paradise

Oh and also, as a state employee, I've been furloughed, sort of. I get 10 hours off and I'll be derprived of .5 percent of my pay for the next two months. Lucky to have a job at all, I suppose ...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Oh for crying in a bucket, people ...

The reason we have blogs is so we can spout off whatever we think whenever we want. At least that's my reason. And here's my spout, in response to the following question posed By Matt Taibbi in this Rolling Stone article:
Does anyone know what the hell is going on? And on the linear spectrum of capitalism to socialism, where exactly are we now?
Bailing out capitalism to keep capitalism from eating itself does NOT equal socialism!! (See, I put that in bold because I'm yelling here).

Other than that it's a great article. It just kills me that everyone seems to think that what's happening right now is somehow aberrant, rather than just the normal boom-and-bust that's inherent to capitalism.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

We're all just so damn cool, aren't we?

So via Ross G.'s Facebook status update I discovered a funny video about Twitter and now I'm blogging about it.

The most salient quote seems to be "It seems like Twittering is just randomly bragging about your unexceptional life." Wait, isn't that sort of like blogging? Except that we use way more words ...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A movie review for busy people ....

Rachel Getting Married: Lisa getting bored.

Hey girlfriends ...

Are we really supposed to find Clive Owen attractive?

Wouln't you rather get naked in short selling with Paddy Hirsch?

Getting naked in short selling from Marketplace on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Word of the year?

I still haven't bothered to try Twitter, and yesterday, Jon Stewart used a phrase that makes me want to do it even less: "Twitscape." Don't know if I want to be part of that.

Meanwhile, having a blast over on Facebook, even though people keep poking me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's calad!

Originally uploaded by donna di mondo.

The intrepid Donna Di Mondo, who first achieved legend status in my world for actually making the "Ring Around the Tuna" salad from the Joys of Jell-O cookbook, has come through again with the Danish Garden Salad, a.k.a. cake salad, or "calad."

Yum! (Not really.)

Now if you need something to cleanse your palate after that, take a look at her absolutely gorgeous Irish soda bread.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Chotda delivers!

aspic of evil innards
Originally uploaded by chotda.

Chotda, a.k.a. Santos, decided to get all foodie with the heinous "Danish Garden Salad" idea by making an "Aspic of Evil" (a.k.a. Miss Congealiality).

God, I love the internets sometimes!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

it's a cake ... it's a salad ... it's a cake salad!

it's a cake ... it's a salad ... it's a cake salad!
Originally uploaded by bunchofpants.

I posted something over at Flickr that's sort of like a blog post. In the interest of laziness efficiency, I decided to just post it verbatim here and make it look like I'm a diligent and dedicated blogger ...

So someone else already has dibs on bringing Ring-Around-The-Tuna to the potluck? Don't fret! Thanks to the Southern Living Meats Cookbook (1971), you can one-up everyone else with this "Danish Garden Salad." (Can we really blame the Danes for this?) It's got Brussels sprouts and lima beans, so it'll be a big hit with all the kids!

I'd make this, but I'm far too lazy. Still, someone needs to make it and post photos in the interest of improving the internets. Here's the recipe:

5 10-oz. packages frozen Brussels sprouts
8 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1-1/2 cups cold water
5-1/2 cups hot chicken stock
1 cup bleu cheese
4 cups sour cream
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 cup cooked sliced carrots
2 cups sliced zucchini
2 cups cooked lima beans
3 cups cooked ham strips

Cook the Brussels sprouts according to package directions, the drain and chill. Soften 6 envelopes gelatin in 1 cup water in a saucepan. Add 3-1/2 cups stock and cooki over low heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved. Chill until thickened. Mix the bleu cheese and sour cream until smooth and fold into gelatin. Add seasonings, carrots, zucchini and lima beans. Reserve 15 Whole Brussels sprouts for garnish. Cut remaining Brussels sprouts in half and add to gelatin mixture. Turn into lightly greased 15 x 4-1/2 x 4-inch loaf pan and chill until firm. Soften remaining gelatin in 1/2 cup water in a saucepan. Add remaining stock and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until gelatin is dissolved. Chill until thickened. Arrange hame over congealed mold to cover top completely. Spoon gelatin over ham and chill until firm. Unmold onto chilled serving platter and garnish with reserved Brussels sprouts. May garnish with piped softened cream cheese, slices of hard-cooked egg, sliced truffles or rolled anchovy fillets, if desired.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

streetwise, perhaps, but definitely not glamorous

Could someone please explain to me why on earth I would ever want to Twitter? I mean, sure, I could see how cool it would be if I suddenly found myself in a unique situation, like for example having been taken hostage in a bank robbery, and then I Twittered the whole thing from inside the vault or wherever I happened to be, and then the whole intertubes would be abuzz for several days about how someone twittered the whole hostage ordeal and wow, look how the intertubes have changed our lives and aren't we all so cool. Yeah, I get that. But I'm not usually taken hostage, and I can't imagine having much of anything to Twitter about most of the time. And I get that Twitter would let me keep up with the doings of people like ... well, all the cool smart-and/or-famous people who Twitter ... but why do I need to do that?

Seriously, explain it to me. Convert me. Or don't ...

Friday, February 06, 2009

This just in ...

Maybe you actually have to be a dumbshit to win on Jeopardy! these days. I wasn't watching last night, but someone on one of my e-mail lists was, and the answer to the question " 'Bull City' This place's nickname is derived from a product sold by American Tobacco" was ... wait for it ... "What is Raleigh?"

Friday, January 09, 2009

Oh hell, pass the Pop-Tarts, please

Worried about Antibiotics in Your Beef? Vegetables May Be No Better.
Today, close to 70 percent of all antibiotics and related drugs used in the United States are routinely fed to cattle, pigs and poultry, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Although this practice sustains a growing demand for meat, it also generates public health fears associated with the expanding presence of antibiotics in the food chain.

People have long been exposed to antibiotics in meat and milk. Now, the new research shows that they also may be ingesting them from vegetables, perhaps even ones grown on organic farms.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Laminate them and turn them into bedside tables

Since June, when I moved into my house, I have received six telephone books. To be fair, a few of them came packaged together, that is to say instead of finding a plastic bag containing one big waste of wood pulp at the end of my driveway I occasionally found a plastic bag containing two. I rarely even need one phone book because I do most of my phone-number-looking-up online. (To be fair, I did indeed have a mighty need for a phone book the time I locked myself shortly after moving in, before I had internet service, and I had to call someone to fix the damage I did breaking into my own home.)

Anywho, I don't need six fucking phone books. Who does? Sure, I can now just toss them into the curbside recycling bin, but I'd really truly rather not get them in the first place. Yesterday I saw a little thingie at Consumerist.Com that mentioned YellowPagesGoesGreen.Org, a site where you can opt out of receiving phone books. Well, symbolically at least. They send the names to the local phone book publishers who are legally free to completely ignore the request. Which is what I expect will happen, but what the hell ...