Wednesday, December 19, 2012

That Blessed Arrangement

I'm getting married to the BEST guy (yay!) and I'm planning a wedding (boo!). As atheists the subject of a wedding ceremony is a difficult one. While I want some amount of sweetness and bawling in front of our friends and family, sappy is so not us. In other words, I don't want to hear the words "blessed" or "cherish" at my wedding, nor do I want any object symbolizing me, my fiance or us as a couple (think sand, candles, etc.) So what do you do when you don't know where to start? Well, you google it and find nothing and then you make a cup of tea, crawl into bed and think about which poor friend you're going to make write and perform this thing. Sucker....

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Truth about Cats and Blogs

The truth is that I’m a con artist. I managed to con my high school teachers into thinking that I didn’t need a writing class beyond 9th grade. I conned my college advisor into letting me take his grad-level course instead of the required technical writing class. Finally, I conned my employer into believing that I’m a competent writer who won’t spend an hour composing a single professional email.

All that to say that I’m a terrible writer and I know it. I overuse ellipses as a tool to end sentences that have no end. I recently discovered the semi-colon as a way to shove two short sentences together so that I don’t have to write in full sentences like an adult. So what do you do when you’re beyond schooling and the only opportunity for writing is in reply to angry client emails? Start a blog, of course! So here I am, a year and a half later with a grand total of 15 posts about subjects that have been covered much better and much more extensively at hundreds of other blogs. But my point wasn’t to provide a great service to the world wide web, my point was simply to write. Write anything and hopefully learn a few things along the way.

It’s a funny thing, publishing yourself on the internet for all to see, and for nobody to see at the same time. I realize that I could just write. Just write for me, write to my Grandma, write for the sake of growth, but there’s something intriguing about putting yourself out there, knowing that nobody is reading it, so I think I’ll keep it that way. I really should write to my grandma though….

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What HGTV Doesn't Tell You About Buying a House

1.  Even the “fun” part is stressful. Peeking in other people's homes is fun from the comfort of your couch, but when you're actually looking for your home, every free second is spent stressing out about pros and cons, researching neighborhoods, worrying about somebody else snatching up the homes and trying to get a hold of your real estate agent. On top of that, 80% of the homes you see will likely be instantly ruled out for one reason or another so it just turns into long Sundays riding around in a Jaguar with spotty air conditioning. In summary: expect to lose sleep.

2. You are not in control, even in a buyer's market. Once you have submitted an offer, the seller knows that you are emotionally invested and they will use any strategy they can to get more money out of you. Our sellers missed their response deadline because they were using that time to contact other possible buyers to send us into competition. Jerks.

3. It makes you a bad employee. The process is time-sensitive so you will need to take time during normal work hours to sign/send documents, research homes and loans, or call your realtor/lender/insurance agent. On top of that, you will need time off from work for an inspection, closing, gathering permits, final walkthrough, etc. You will also likely need to utilize work resources for scanning, copies, printing, internet, conference calls, etc.  After the hours my employer lost, I’m not sure that buying a home actually stimulates the economy.

4. It’s one giant audit. Be ready to explain every deposit into every bank account, why your mom’s name is on the joint checking account you opened when you were 14, why the address on your driver's license doesn't match your actual current address, etc. You should get a “free” credit report out of the deal though!

5. There's a lot behind the scenes. On tv, you simply choose a house, negotiate, do an inspection and sign some papers. Behind the scenes, there’s also earnest money to deliver, bank statements, pay stubs, and asset statements to compile, insurance quotes to gather and consider, permits to find and review, multiple loans to apply for and compare, closing papers to read, money to transfer, cashier’s checks to get...

6.  When it’s all over, you celebrate with a long weekend of hard labor. Moving sucks. You'll also discover small things like the fact that you now need to buy a ladder just so you can change a light bulb.

In the end though, you get to do whatever you want! It's a pretty great feeling, probably based mostly on that "American dream" thing, but you also get a new sense of "home" switching from renting and knowing that you will likely be there for many years to come. Happy Homeownership!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

For A Brighter, More Confident Everything!

Denture cleaners are incredibly humble, but it has recently become clear to me that they deserve absolute GLORY! I had to discover their power on my own so I feel that it is my duty to pass this knowledge to the DOZENS of innocent people who frequent this blog simply trying to find a risotto recipe.

Here are just a few reasons I am promoting the tablets normally reserved for the geriatric population:
Removes stains from coffee mugs like a BOSS
You know how you let a pot soak when it’s really hard to clean, but in the morning it’s still just a dirty pot with cold goopy water in it? Well when you pop a denture cleaner in there the night before, your pot is foamy and sparkling!
Toilet bowls!
Vases too small for hands!
 I've even heard that they can unclog pipes. I think I might change career paths and go into denture cleaner sales. "Invest in your future; invest in denture cleaner tablets"

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Tearful Tribute

Eleven years ago we brought home the most adorable puppy with a yellow ribbon around his neck. We had picked a lab because we wanted "a real dog", a dog that would fetch. Well Kona never quite got the hang of fetching but he taught us all about unconditional love every single day.

I'm terribly saddened to inform that his kidneys appear to have given up on him. I'm not one to believe in an afterlife, but I like to think that he is now forever young, rolling in the grass after getting the newspaper and knocking wine glasses off the table with his tree trunk of a tail. Good boy, Kona.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Zucchini Time!

Wait - this is how seeds work?

I loooove zucchini season! Our squash plant suddenly started producing this week so we've been digging out all our old zucchini recipes from last summer. We threw some on the grill the other night (delicious) and tonight we sauteed them up for part of an overall pasta dish. This is a very simple, and cheap meal for a summer night!


    -3/4 lb. pasta
    -1 TBSP olive oil
    -3 zucchinis, sliced thinly
    -2 cloves of garlic, minced
    -1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    -1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    -1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

  1. Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water for later.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add zucchini and1/2 tsp salt, saute until tender and starting to brown. Add garlic, chickpeas and red pepper. Saute an additional 2 or 3 minutes.
  3. Add pasta, reserved pasta water and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese to skillet. Stir to combine. Serve with remaining parmesan sprinkled on top; take care to evenly distribute the chickpeas as they have a tendency to sink!
Looks a little bland but it doesn't taste it!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Most Beautiful Meal of Them All

There may not be anything more pleasurable than flipping through a new cookbook for the first time. Luckily for my bank account, I have recently reunited with my local public library who has tons of "new to me" cookbooks! This recipe comes from a cookbook I picked up at the library a few months ago. The final product is quite good, but there are many different pieces to the meal and in order to get the timing down, it's probably best to make it with a friend. In addition, the recipe can be split into individual pieces and utilized as a part of another favorite recipe. I plan to utilize the tofu-cooking technique in the future and the ginger sauce would go great with some simple stir fried veggies and rice. The recipe as-is creates a truly impressive looking and tasting plate of food!

Tofu Steaks
    -1 package firm tofu, pressed and cut lengthwise into 4 slices
    -1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    -2 TBSP dry breadcrumbs
    -1/4 tsp dried thyme
    -1/4 tsp dried dill
    -1/4 tsp salt
    -1/4 tsp paprika
    -1/4 tsp black pepper
    -1 large egg, lightly beaten
    -2 TBSP olive oil
Ginger Sauce
    -1/3 cup rice vinegar
    -1/3 cup sugar
    -1/2 cup water
    -2 TBSP soy sauce
    -1 TBSP cornstarch
    -1/4 cup water
    -1 TBSP minced peeled fresh ginger
Stir Fried Veggies
    -1 TSP olive oil
    -1 yellow bell pepper, cut in strips
    -1 cup snow peas, trimmer
    -1 plum tomato, chopped
    -2 cups hot cooked angel hair pasta
I know that's an intimidatingly long list of ingredients, so let me distract you with this big picture of the finished product!

  1. Combine flour, breadcrumbs and dry spices in a shallow dish. Dredge each tofu steak in flour mixture. Dip in egg; dredge again in flour mixture. Heat 2 oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu steaks, cook 3 minutes on each side.
  2. Combine vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 3 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Combine cornstarch and 1/4 cup water; stir into sugar mixture. Bring to a boil and cook 1 minute or until thick. Remove from heat, stir in ginger.
  3. Heat 1 tsp oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper strips and snow peas; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add tomato; stir-fry 1 minute.
  4. Serve vegetables, tofu and ginger sauce over pasta.