Sunday, October 31, 2010

Homemade Hot Pockets, Apple edition

I haven't updated my baking resolution records in a while, but suffice it to say that june and july were not good baking months.  I did get some done in August and September (including making my own recipe for "pina colada" bread, which, while it could be improved, disappeared completely at a house party so clearly wasn't bad).  October has been pretty good so far including some flatbreads (new), and these tasty apple pastries:
baked apple pastries, browned and delicious

Which came from these 5 apples.  Jazz and Galas are the two smaller reds in the back left.  The red striped monster on the right is a Honeycrisp which is aptly named.  I liked its texture and flavor the best of them all when I sampled them.  The others are Golden Delicious and Granny Smith.  (There's a glass color called "granny apple green" exactly that color.  It's hard to work with and easy to overuse, but so much fun.)  You'll notice I leave a little of the peel behind.  It's because I like the color, not because I don't know how to peel.
baking apples

The how and why of it all, along with an apple coring tutorial, if you

All Hallows Week

The great thing about a sunday Halloween is that the whole preceding week and weekend can be legitimately co-opted for themed events. This week involved decorating the office,  a full costume dance recital, attending an artshow with pancakes and booze, MY FIRST TRICK-OR-TREATER!, and baking apple goodies.  I also made progress on the bathroom reno, remembered to buy toilet paper, consider the upcoming election, and, well, I'm pretty sure that's it.  Here's the rundown again, with pictures.

I liked my cat pumpkin so well last year that I did one again this year.  The face I wasn't happy with, so I tried a ghost.  Shortly after this picture I used a melonballer to remove more squash from the backsides to let the light shine through the cat eyes and the ghost a bit better.  Immediately after that, my camera battery demanded recharging so this is my only shot. 
halloween 2010 cat and ghost jack-o-lanterns
Putting them in the window was successful since I actually got a trick-or-treater this year. I had dropped my guard and barely got the candy to the door - no "ooh, pretty princess"  or anything.  I may as well have grunted at her.  But she did get candy, so I assume she was cool with it.

My office likes halloween. One colleague has a holiday birthday, and the rest of us take advantage of the supplies. halloween 2010 office spiderwebs

More pictures after the jump:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rough Draft

Our dance finally got posted to youtube.  It was super fun.  This isn't the best angle, but sometimes done is better. If I run across the gussied up version, I'll add that too, but here's what I spent two months of weekends working on. The guy in the group is my trainer which is fun for us.  We usually practice our routine after my workout, which we both need.

All in all, I was really happy with it. Having been a dancer for 2 months now,  I think I need to make my moves bigger. I look kind of timid here; I thought I was going all out and I certainly sweated enough.  So practice, practice, practice. Bigger, bigger, bigger.    Hopefully we can remember enough to do it reasonably well for the class recital event this weekend.   The new dance (to Thriller, for helloween) is finally starting to take root in my muscle memory after an extra hour of practice today.  I'm glad it was my 3rd time with the moves and not the first as work has been hellaciously busy this week in a challenging, use the brain kind of way.  It's good, but I don't have a lot left over.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Thanks to my neighbor for the ride to the doc this morning.  I had about 10-20 minutes under anesthesia to get my throat/stomach scoped.  They found some ulcery bits in my esophagus and, continuing in the tradtion of only having things wrong with me that are annoying and not generally fixed by doctors, it turns out I inherited the family hiatal hernia.  This brings with it a greater likelihood of acid reflux, which most of the family has too, but I thought I'd mostly escaped.  Probably the ulcers are from all the advil I've been mainlining since march.  So I'll be sticking with the liver killing Tylenol.  Oh well.  I think I'm also getting arthritis in my right middle finger, so if it looks like I'm flipping you off, it's more likely that my finger just doesn't bend anymore.

The surprising thing about today was that I came out of the anesthesia slowly for about 20-40 minutes then felt totally normal for the next 3-4 hours.  I even considered going back to work, except that I was warned by my colleagues (who have all had this procedure) to take the whole day.  I was feeling energized, although not interested in doing  anything too complex like bathroom reno or baking, then I passed out on the couch for 5 hours.  Now I feel fine again, save the scratchy throat that is barely a 1 on the scale if "tonsils out as an adult" is the 10, but I don't trust the feeling fine.  I'd had a crackbrained notion of "sweating the poisons out" at the gym, but my trainer made other plans, which was smart.

So here I am, not driving today, not making any financial or legal decisions, and watching Raising Hope, twice.  I like this show, it's smart humor.  It's usually followed by some show that had characters so moronically dumb it was impossible for me to watch it.   So two episodes of people with bad-good intentions raising a baby and TPing the neighbors gets two thumbs up from me. Oooh.  Time for the Good Wife!  A TV show that actually stars a competent, sexy, adult woman or three.  Crazy.

[Edited to Add] Oh nuts!  I missed the Sound of Music sing-a-long night tonight. Although my throat probably wasn't up for it, I like SoM like most geeks like Rocky Horror.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thank You Blogger

While I'd like to update more often, and don't get to it due to not wanting to even breathe near a computer some nights, usually, Blogger is one of those applications that just works.  It took them a while to get the cutaway, but aside from very few aggravations, there was very little learning curve for a basic blog, and new ideas increment in effort appropriately.

By contrast, I spent the night trying to download 2 programs to get a free "pocket PC" to sync up then read PDF files, and then get a couple PDF files to read - I already had the target files in mind as the reward.  But holy sunday, I've been working on this since about 6pm when I got off a very looong work week.  My touchpad is hot to the touch, but using the Blogger software is so easy, I actually looked forward to this update, despite it being not what I'd planned to say.

My new-to-me work tool got intial data back on tuesday afternoon.  In a show of goodwill to the group getting us the annoying data and to keep things moving, I hustled, worked late, and set up the quals for the following day.  My part (until results come in) was done by thursday, which was good because I had a measurement tool install/setup/training session today AND we're dealing with a multi-area production challenge that is interesting but time consuming.  Oh, and a third of the line is backed up behind one of my tools, which keeps going down for 24 hours at a time.  And today was my day to bring breakfast.

In that weird way of things, I actually enjoy working hard like this for bursts of time, but I cannot sustain it. (Major reason I don't work for myself or blog more consistently.) I had my dad here for 4 days last week and I have a ton of stuff going on this weekend: a baking class tomorrow, further bathroom reno and cleaning, bill paying (mostly sorting paper, which I haaaaate), dance class, another trip to the tar pits, and a swing by Pasadena to visit an East Coast friend.  Tonight, I thought I'd be able to just download a couple of short stories and book excerpts to my new-to-me pocket PC (Dell Axim X30) so I didn't have to read them on the device I'm using now.  The hope is the ergonomics and eyestrain will be improved and I could just relax.  I charged it up already, had the parts and everything.

Well, 6 hours or so later, and I have the fool thing set up and I can barely keep my eyes open.  Hopefully I'll remember to go to the baking class in the AM.  Good thing I was only aiming at short stories because the SD card isn't compatable either.  It's things like this that keep me from wanting to have multiple electronic devices. I don't have 6 "leisure" hours to kill being my own IT person when I don't much like doing it.  Every so often I think it won't be *that* hard, FCOL total morons can figure out how to steal crap online, but I can't seem to do anything with computers without drama and hair pulling.

In the meantime, I'm still mentally composing and revising blog posts about:
  • hoarding (including the recent CSI episode with a crime scene in a packed house)
  • voting YES on prop 19 (free the weed; prohibition doesn't help)
  • Democrats not using ANY political capital to help teh gays, so far as I can tell
  • But Obama at least said something nice to them on ITGETSBETTER
  • updates on my baking resolution (yay for yogurt in banana bread)
  • Hoping someone posts the video of our fun dance from friday.
  • Halloween decorations at work
  • My wonky digestion where twinkies make me feel better than plums.

Sadly, I'm in the blathering without much direction phase right now, and I want to go read my stories. (yes, say that like I'm smoking my 2nd pack for the day and am heading off to watch soaps.  Nothing against soaps, really, those folks work hard too.) Have made zero progress on planning a Galapagos vacation or buying cheap tickets to Seattle or Kansas City.  I did finally get my brother his birthday bacon though.  And if nothing else, work is engrossing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Shake it Like a Chorus Girl

I've been feeling tense recently - physically - in that my muscles feel tight, so I got in a massage after work today.  The masseuse thinks all my tendons feel inflamed, which is consistent with my lay diagnosis of tendinitis of the everything.  I don't think the gastroenterologist I'm seeing thursday will necessarily know what to do, but maybe the doc can recommend someone who will know.  Probably, I'll wind up doing some CA inspired cleanse.  I'm pretty sure my problem is yeasty overgrowth.  What I don't know is if that's also affecting my allergies.

Ever since last Thanksgiving, I've occasionally been reacting badly to my allergy shots, particularly if I've missed an appointment.  Well, I missed an appointment.  Most times if I do, my arms just swell up more.  This was another overreaction where I started sneezing, coughing, and wheezing enough that I got an adrenaline shot which has made me more jittery than usual.   Another stellar day in allergy land and one massage shot to hell.

But my dad's coming wednesday to help me with the vanity and I'll be bringing him along to the dance competition friday.  We could use some people cheering for us, so please let me know if you plan to come too.  If you're on the way, I can even pick up 2 other people.  It'll be fun.  If I don't shake apart by then.

Friday, October 8, 2010

It Gets Better

For anyone who hasn't heard, Dan Savage started a video project to help LGBT kids know that life is better after high school. If you're having a tough time, go to YouTube, check out the videos posted by all the regular people living regular lives and the occasional famous person too - go Tim Gunn!

Really, stick it out, it does get better.

Me, straight grrl here, I had an ok time of it in high school, despite moving to the other high school in our district mere weeks before school started and joining the math team.   I have a very specific memory of sitting in a pep rally, probably junior year, when they'd brought in a motivational speaker to tell us to enjoy high school, as it would be the best time of our lives.  I had two thoughts: "this goober's rather doughy" and "this better not be the best time of my life". To paraphrase a Jennifer Crusie line, I enjoyed it all I could, but I could not enjoy it very much.  I had some good times and some blah times and overall high school for me was fine, and still, it got better.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

With My Hoodie On

The "reality" shows I actually like tend to be the ones where people with mad skilz are asked to do something that would be totally easy for them if they had 4X the time limit, but tends to make a good portion of them look incompetent.  For instance, on "America's Handyman" there are only 2 of them that I'd let near any project of mine.  "Chopped" makes chefs who are otherwise probably awesome get *very* *near* to genius dishes and somehow have something go horribly wrong. Austin and Santino roadtripping to small towns to make dresses for deserving women who are mostly not thin makes me giggle. Then there's "Project Runway".

Project Runway routinely drives me crazy, but I keep watching because every so often they go to the circus and come out with some of the best funky looks I've seen in fashion.  (2nd from left is the winner, deservedly.)  Every once in a while, the event just gels with one of the designers and they make something fabulous, and we get to see how it happened.
 5 circus looks, 4 of them wonderful,the left two being the most awesome
Today, with the 6 designers left, they asked them to design something in godawful-grey for Heidi's baggy loooking "active wear" collection that left me thinking someone left the fabric in an ashtray somewhere.  It seemed an odd choice for a show that is looking for the designer's voice to come through, to ask them to design for someone else - even if that winds up being their day job next year.

Often, I disagree with the PR judges about the lower ranking people.  However,  I so totally agree with their winning choice of Andy's design that I want that hoodie!!! The one with the round shape on the body and the stripey sleeves.  Super flattering, and fun.  Can't find it on Amazon, even though they said on the show it would be part of the line. Maybe Heidi's executive decision got shot down?  She probably doesn't sell stuff in my size anyway...

That said, I really didn't appreciate the focus on negativity and mocking that occurred with this episode.  Most of it was in the commercial, which almost made me skip it because I'm not watching to see these people be jerked around in front of their peers in their field. Constructive criticism is all well and good, but I could do with a lot less "creativity" on the negativity.  Although grumpy Gretchen's bike shorts topped with puce ruched skirt hurt my eyes a little too, so they aren't always wrong there.

Now I'm rambling.  I just caught a nice episode of Chopped while writing this, one of the rare ones where everyone either has a good idea or good execution making the choices best of the best, not who screwed up the least.  If anyone knows how to get that hoodie, let me know. It would be easier for you if I could find the picture, but alas and alack, my googling skills are not bringing it up.

Monday, October 4, 2010

In My Head

I'm not dead; I've been spending time in my head. And at the gym. Two weeks from now, my white belly will be dancing in a gym class hip-hop contest on Sunset Boulevard. You can't make this stuff up. More abbreviated updates follow.

I've once again had many, many, many ideas for posts, but I've been avoiding being on-line. I'm asymptotically approaching a Facebook page now that literally one fifth of the planet has one. I'm still kind of bummed about using my regular guy name for it, which is one major reason for my holdout. I'm an open, very honest person and things can be taken out of context. But many people have stopped blogging, and almost no one sends email anymore. Since everyone's still connected, my assumption is that if you're not on Faceborg, you don't exist in the collective consciousness and my conscientious objection just hurts me.

My brother is getting bacon and bacon accessories for his birthday. I'm committed to a bacon sampler or bacon of the month club, but have to put the order in still. In the meantime, the bacon floss will have to hold him over.

While I still need to have a dinner party, but my baking resolution is getting back on track after a summer with minimal baking (I have to include microwaved candy sushi to make July's) with banana bread (new version) and ham & cheese crescent rolls (repeat) and new spiced flatbreads (small plate cookbook), and other things (working on a pina colada bread).

Thanks to the low-low prices at Harbor Freight and my brother searching the sales, I just got the 12" compound sliding miter saw my brother found for my birthday. With the leftover (mine was $75 as-is for having an ugly box) I was able to afford a trim router and bits that fit it. Whee ha! My dad is coming out to help with a project in a couple weekends (where he'll also be taken to see me "dance") that will be helped by miter saws and trim routers. Wish us luck.

Musical overlaps that grate on my nerves, still:
  • The 4 note sequence from the Emperor's Theme in the Harry Potter theme. It just makes me think John Williams phoned it in. I'd been so excited when he was tapped to do the music, given how endemeic to the culture the Star Wars music is - this dance I'll be in mixes the main theme - but aside from the "Something Wicked This Way Comes" in number 3 or 4, I can't get the emperor out of it.
  • Ben-Bridge jewelers advertising engagement rings and Pristiq advertising antidepressants use much the same tune.
  • Two of the optional ringtones for our very lousy portable phones at work are the lead ins to "Things look swell; things look great" and "We Want a Rock" by TMBG.

In my head, I wrote several very excellent blog posts on topics I'm sure you'd find fascinating, a least one on why we should legalize pot: it's just sensible, and of all the dumb things CA lets us vote on, this one is a good idea. Even if this law is imperfect, I think we should legalize it. We ruin good lives for no reason by persecuting *use* of drugs, and ignoring the difference between use and abuse.

I seriously considered going to DC for the comic bit "Rally for Sanity". I think my $ would be better spent going to my friend's adoption party. Yep, my friend of the three norse gods is adopting a boy to make 4. Although I could still be convinced about the DC thing. I've got a friend there who has probably been a little too in her head as well, recently.

It's a lot easier to live in my space as I get rid of stuff. It's appalling how much new stuff I bring in though. (New portable sweeper, circ saw, router, two cabinets for books with the intent to replace other shelving sets, more exercise clothes -  but I'm still having problems throwing out coupons I'll forget to use? sigh.)  All in all, though, my place doesn't look like a train hit it, and watching TLC's "Hoarders" keeps me throwing stuff out.

What's up with you? You wanna be my friend? sheesh.