Monthly Archives: February 2010

Stuff that makes life great

Awesome things that have happened to me this week:

Lilit asking me to clean her litterbox. This from the cat who had been proclaimed to have horrible litter box issues, and she would never learn to go in the box regularly. She’s too old to learn any better, and should just be put down because she’ll never learn. And she asked me to clean it so she could use it, dancing on her little paws because she had to go so bad and could hardly wait. There are no words for how proud I am of how far she’s come.

Ben calling me on the road because he saw my car driving on the other side of 295 as he drove north and I drove south…

Spending our day off with a wine trip: tasting Vidal and Riesling straight from the vat two months before bottling at Basignani, having a great conversation with the wine maker at Woodhall.

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Bulldog Man-pencil?

Bulldog Man PencilI was purchasing supplies for rehearsal yesterday. I got tired of a terrible hole puncher so I finally invested in a good one, plus a ream of paper because we still can’t find ours and hey, who doesn’t always need more paper? I also got refill ink for my printer (thus the higher total on the receipt) and I finally found a good quality pencil sharpener that’ll hold up to rehearsal use.

It’s a sexy little thing, made by X-Acto and it suction cups to the desk so it doesn’t go anywhere. It’s the Bulldog model, and mine’s in a fantastic transparent orange color. Looks like this:

X-Acto Bulldog Pencil Sharpener

X-Acto Pencil Sharpener

Most importantly, however, is how it showed up on the receipt. See image on the right, please.

My baby brain #2

sweet

“3/4/94.

I liked your interview!  I didn’t know you liked skiing.  I wish I could go skiing sometime, but I can’t get the car to go anywhere during snow days.”

This raises a few questions.

1.  How do people go skiing on snow days if their cars don’t work?  Do they need to go cross-country skiing to the downhill slopes?  I guess I’m confused about this.

2. Does this post imply that, in 1994, I could get the car to go somewhere on non-snow days?  Because I don’t remember having a set of spare keys to the Lexus.

3.  Whose interview?  Did I interview my teacher and forget about it?  Was she interviewed on TV?  About skiing?

I’ll tell you one thing I know for sure; 1994 was not a year of easy answers.

Pumped!

The smartest thing that ever happened to video games was to structure them so you get little merit badges for doing different things in the game– ‘Achievements.’  Suddenly, you’re not just playing a game to kill time, or because it’s fun… there’s a concrete reward for continuing to play.  And other people can see how cool you are by how many achievements you’ve earned.  This system is why Kongregate has absorbed so many of my waking hours.

But somebody just took it to the next level.

That somebody is Obama.

I can get an achievement.  From the president. And all I have to do is:

“earn 20,000 points in the Presidential Champions program

You get points through doing fitness-y things, including shoveling snow and playing Wii tennis.   I don’t even know how many points you get for going to the gym, but given how many I got for clearing off the car last weekend, it’s probably off the charts.

20,000 points is a bronze Presidential Champions medal.  I’m totally there– and if you love achieving as much as I do, maybe give the site a look why not?

My baby brain #1

Over the holidays, my mom found an old “journal” I kept for class in elementary school.  In case you don’t know, a “journal” is a primitive blog made of dead trees instead of pixels.  (The 1990s were a curious time.)

I had all kinds of prompts from my teacher, and the responses give a little window into my brain of yesteryear.  For example, here’s my stirring epitaph for President Richard Nixon:

4/27/94

I know Richard Nixon died of a stroke.

He used to be a president.

He died last Friday.

He has a dog named Checkers.

He was from California.

He used to be a Vice President.

He has five 4 brothers.”

Bam!

This emotional tribute got a lot of press at the time.  I think Nixon’s tombstone actually reads:

“Here Lies Richard Nixon.  He used to be a Vice President.”

More insights from my baby brain to come.

SnOMG: Calm between the storms?

Hey look, we found our cars finally.

"Parking lot". See also: "car burial mound"

Well, we’ve begun to dig out finally. But yesterday, we decided to first brave the outdoors for the sake of a walk. My friend Niki lives just down the street from us, so we decided to hike over. And hike really was the applicable word.

Once out in the parking lot, we were able to figure out which one was Ben’s car. It seems that there was a bit of color showing on the side of the cars opposite our window. Also, it appears that he was parked right next to me. So much for guessing.

Playground

Too beautiful to disturb...

On our way, we passed the playground. It was absolutely covered in snow, and looked like a fantastic romp. But when we got closer, it was just… too pristine to mess up. So instead of sliding down a snow covered slide and romping across a bridge that looked like it couldn’t bear the weight of another flake, we sat briefly on a bench and admired the view. If you’ve ever sat on a snow covered bench, you’ll understand why I emphasize briefly. Thus, on we moved.

We followed our street (decently plowed down to about 2″ of snow, slush, and ice) out to the side road, where the plows had made some progress. We could walk on the one-car width lane along with the few other people who were out and about (all on foot). You could even begin to see cars along the side of the road!

N. Laurel Road, mid day Saturday

Look! I see a sideview mirror!

So along we went, making our way over to Niki’s house. We crossed an absolutely deserted All Saint’s Road which, despite being closer to categorized as the “main road” was less well plowed than our street. Hell, it was less well plowed than our little court!

Once at the intersection, we came to a conundrum: Niki’s house is around the back of her court, so we could either continue down the semi-plowed road and then double back across the possibly-yet-not-probably plowed court, or we could jump down the hill and blaze a new trail.

We jumped.

I think you can see where this is going. We followed a set of footprints till we got down the hill (finding the snow to be brushing over the tops of my knees). At the bottom of the hill, we had the choice of going around the backs of the building or hoping the front sidewalks were dug out. They were not. And the footsteps ran out. I had the lead, which meant I was the one who had the shock and horror of suddenly discovering that 33″ of snow and my 31″ inseam are really not an appropriate match. I mean, I had two layers of pants plus a heavy knee-length coat, but it just reaches a point where it doesn’t matter anymore. Especially when we turned the corner up to Niki’s sidewalk and I fell in. Perhaps “fell” is the wrong word. I really sort of just sat down accidentally. But it’s very difficult to stand up when you have nothing to push up against. Ben dragged me back up and we trudged the last painstaking feet to her shoveled walkway.

After a particularly warm and pleasant visit, we trudged back home (simpler and more populated than the way over). Once again on Gold Dust, we met our across-the-hall-and-downstairs neighbor and had a great chat with him. Ben decided to go back out and start digging out his car just in case his artistic director decided to make the poor choice of having a superbowl-sunday-snowpocolypse matinee, and I went inside and made cookies for the guys.

Dinner was a very hearty bean soup, courtesy Meg’s recipe. We substituted garlic powder for dehydrated onion (having none of the latter and much of the former), smoked paprika for cayenne (same problem), and added some sausage we had in the fridge. Because we like to stretch our proteins farther, we served it over rice, and ended up with a VERY filling and satisfying meal. Thank you, Meg!

So now we’re going to hunker down again and watch the superbowl, which is the second game that we’ve been able to watch together since we decided to start following football last winter (oops). Maybe baseball season will go more smoothly.

Oh, and if you’re interested in snowfall totals, please see NOAA’s official numbers here. We are in N. Laurel, and Elkridge — which got pounded the hardest with a disgusting 38.3 inches!! — is where my folks are.

SnOMG 2010: The beginning

Balcony: 1am. Snow is nearly at the door knobSo here’s what we’re beginning to see. It’s about 1:30am (oh hush, I’m usually up now anyways) and this is the view from our living room window. Well, the half that isn’t covered by snow.

And our balcony? Well, we’re hoping it’ll still be there in the morning…

Food Challenge #1

Pad See Ew in pan

Earlier this month, I posed a question to my cousins:

So I’ve been perusing food blogs of late, and one of the themes I keep
seeing is these “food challenge” type games. In them, someone picks a
challenge recipe or challenge theme, and everyone tries out the new
recipe or comes up with something to go with the theme. This seems
pretty exciting, but the problem I always have with them is the
impersonal nature of it. I was wondering if you’d be interested in
setting up one of these sorts of food networks among people we know
(including friends of yours as well; the more, the merrier!).

Tenatively, it struck me that it might be fun to do a rotating thing
where once a month, we were each responsible for picking the theme, and
then at the end of the month, had to share with each other what we chose
to make. I think a month gives us plenty of time to find a single
evening to make something, and we all have blogs available to use for
posting pictures & thoughts on the recipes.

Does this sound like something you’d be interested in doing? January’s
almost done, but I bet we could squeeze out a simple theme if we wanted!

They agreed, and I picked the theme this month: “that thing in the back of the pantry you’ve been meaning to make for way too long.”

With the move, our kitchen wasn’t really usable until about a week and a half ago, so I missed my own deadline and we made our challenge meal on Feb 1st. Oops. But we did make it, and here’s how it went.

As we unpacked the pantry, I found a big pack of rice noodle flakes that I’d been meaning to experiment with. Pad See Ew is one of my favorite things to order at a Thai restaurant. It might even be one of my favorite things to eat, period. I found a recipe online for Pad See Ew for Beginners, and Ben and I scrounged the cabinets for the ingredients.

We were missing the sweet soy sauce, so we did as the recipe suggested and thickened soy sauce on the stove with sugar. And we were missing fish sauce, so we skipped that. We also had no broccoli. So really, we just made sweet-soy noodles, which was educational enough in itself to be worthwhile.

I started off with my great non-stick pan (the really big greenpan, which is nonstick that’s safe for high heat). Mom just got us a new set since the old ones were starting to get a bit gunky, so it’s super non-stick right now. Heated it up as high as I could with a little bit of oil, and dropped the pre-soaked noodles in. They made the stickiest awful mess I have ever seen. We ended up with extra-chewy noodles that were partially cooked inside and burnt on the outside. I was depressed, but not discouraged.
Tonight, we tried again, this time a little bit wiser from experience. I put the noodles in a few at a time and then added the soy sauce. Only I added way more than I meant to, and suddenly they weren’t sticking. It seems the problem before was a lack of moisture, so by adding a lot of sauce, it fixed the problem. I tossed the rest of the noodles in with tons of sauce, and by the time we were done, I had a big pile of tasty rice noodles. I tossed some chicken in as well, and we had ourselves a decent dinner.

Will I make this again? You betcha. What I will do differently: more liquid. Instead of just sauce, I’ll make a sauce/water mixture to get even more liquid into the act. I’ll get fish sauce for the added depth of flavor. And I’m going to look for the sweet soy sauce it’s supposed to have.