Monday, November 29, 2010

Say... questions

  • Why, back in the 90's, did somebody not warn me about my love for all things Celine Dion?  Why didn't they tell me that my tastes would change, and that 10-15 years down the road when I had the hair brained idea to upload all songs from all of my cd's onto my computer, that I'd get bloody sick of Celine Dion music? Celine Dion in English.  Celine Dion in French.  Celine Dion Christmas music.  I'm just uploading these things - I'm not listening - but Baby Jesus of Bethlehem, there's a lot of Celine Dion.  
(Note to self.  Cut back on Sugarland CDs before history repeats itself.)

  • Say you belong to the community association, which meets once a month and discusses activities or events for the community.  Say one of the members - who just finished requesting that there be some events that aren't family (child) oriented because some people choose not to have children - offers to host the next meeting at her house.  Say you suggest that the next meeting be a pot luck, and more of a party than a meeting and the host agrees.  Say you ask if spouses are invited and the host agrees.  Say you ask if your children (toddlers) are invited - knowing that you're the only person in the group with children - and the host very reluctantly agrees... making it known without saying the words that she'd rather not host children.  "The house isn't child proof."  "The stairs to the basement are open and can't be blocked."  "The dog is aggressive towards children."  Say the ONLY limit that the host sets is that she'd rather do this on a weekend than a week night.  Say all that.... how much alcohol would you have to drink before you sent a broadcast email to the whole group reminding them that the Potluck dinner was coming up - that families are welcome - but wouldn't everybody else rather do this on a weeknight instead of a weekend???  
  • Say you're brand spanking new to a team at work.  So new, that technically you haven't switched roles yet, but you're trying to cover both positions while you transition to the new team.  You hardly know anybody on the new team; but you're invited to their pot luck lunch, and requested to bring a "regift" gift... something that you have at home and don't want.  The sillier the better.  Would you say that this particular gift makes too strong of a statement?

  • Say you're the host from two questions up.  Would it be inappropriate to put laxatives in the maggots?  

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Last chance...

... Are you sure you don't want the chaise?

If so, speak up soon.
Before Miss Thing claims it as her own. 

Oops.  Too late.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Just because

I became convinced this afternoon that I. Must. Have. A. Voodoo. Doll.    Months earlier, I had happened up on this one, only for pens, not knives.  I wish I'd bought it then, because the pen one seems to be discontinued and I somehow doubt I'd be allowed to keep a set of knives at my desk.

Then, because I'm easily distracted, I hopped links over to this.

Read the description - it's awesome:

This straight-talking Bullshit Button allows you to call bullshit whenever you see it! Simply press the red buzzer to make it light up, buzz loudly and announce, That was bullshit! or shout, Bullshit detected, take precautions! over a wailing siren. No friend, relative, teacher, or colleague will dare to bullshit you again after setting off the bullshit alarm.   

It might not replace a voodoo doll, but it would certainly be entertaining.

Even if I have to keep it hidden in my drawer to avoid offending the source of the need for the voodoo doll.

Do you think it'll get me fired?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The chaise that nobody wants

The parents sold their house last week.  They have to be out before the end of next week, and they've got a LOT of stuff.  I wasn't very keen on the original idea that they'd throw out what they don't want, so we made a deal that I'd take what I could.  I'll keep what I want, donate some to local charities or people I know and sell the rest at a garage sale next spring.

I didn't know what I signed up for.

My garage is full.  My side yard is full.  My basement is full.  The new house rule is that anybody who walks past the basement stairs has to carry a minimum of one box downstairs.

It's amazing what people will keep.

... which brings me to this:

My mom bought this chaise at an antiques auction some 15-20 years ago and reupholstered it.    She gave it to my sister, who moved it about her house for a while and then stored it in her basement because it didn't really go with the rest of her decor.  Eventually, it ended up back at my parents' place, where is was stored and not used for the next 10 years.

Now I'm trying to find room for it.  

Apparently, Tallulah votes for this position.

I think...  I'm not going to keep it.    I feel a little bit bad, because my mom worked hard on it.  But, it doesn't really go with the stuff I've got now; and it won't fit with the look that I've got in mind for down the road.  I might end up storing it until I finish the basement, but I suspect that it'll be going to a new (and hopefully final) home soon.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Things fall together

Every night this week, I had something going on.  I rushed home after work to let the dogs out, and turned around again to head out.  I didn't make it  home for the night once before 9:30, and most nights I then had to go outside and shovel the walk.  I didn't have time to walk the dogs until Friday, and I ate PB&J for dinner four times.

Thursday was a particularly crazy day.  I ran home to let the dogs out, and shovelled about half the sidewalk, I gobbled my third PB&J of the week, and then tore across town to a meeting for an environmental group I've been following for a few years.  I had volunteered to help out with an upcoming conference, and was supposed to meet with the leader about it after the meeting.   If I hadn't arranged to meet him there, I probably would have skipped the meeting entirely.   I told myself as I drove there that I was only staying until 8:00.  I told the group facilitator when I arrived that I had to leave early, and arranged to meet him later this week instead of talking to him after the meeting.  When one of the speakers introduced himself to me, I told him that I'm familiar with his work, that I was looking forward to his talk; but unfortunately I'd have to duck out early.  I had to leave by 8:00.

This presenter is the author of a blog that I followed all summer.  I don't know if you saw it on my blog roll or checked it out; but I was fascinated with it from the very first post.  It's the Steal Pony Tour, and was written by a guy named Mike who rode his bike 1100km (685 miles) around Alberta to tour organic farms.  At the end of his tour, a friend of his family contacted him and offered him the use of some land not far from town here.  He'll be starting his own Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm this year.

Mike started his talk at 7:30.  I didn't even consider getting out of my seat until 9:30 when he finished.  It was a laid back talk about where he'd been, and what he'd seen.  It wasn't preachy or confrontational... he just talked about what he saw and why he thought it was important.  The truth is, I was a little choked up by the time he finished.  Not because of the environmental ramifications of what he's doing; but because he's just a regular guy doing what's important to him and succeeding very well so far.  In the meantime, he's making a huge difference and bringing a tonne of attention to an issue that needs as much help as it can get.

Today I was at my parents' house.  After languishing on the market for months with only a handful of viewings, my parents' house has finally sold.  They have less than a week to vacate.  Today my job was to take everything that they don't want and to bring it to my house.  I'll keep what I want and store the rest until the spring, and then have a big garage sale.

I mentioned having heard Mike speak and how much I enjoyed it to my mom as we worked.  She remembered reading about him in the paper a while back, and had the excellent idea to give him the garden tools that they don't need anymore.   Many of those tools come from my great grandfather, who had a farm in Ontario.   Some of them are tools that he made himself.   They're perfectly good, but they look fairly rustic.  Chances of selling them at a garage sale are probably fairly slim.  I could keep them for sentimental value; but frankly, I just don't have the space.

This afternoon, I sent Mike an email to see if he'd be interested, and heard back right away.  He's going to take the lot of them.  The tools are going back to a farm, and I couldn't be happier.  I think my great granddad would be proud.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lemon Chicken

My nephews, who I'm sure were toddlers just yesterday, were in town this weekend for a speed skating competition.    I invited them with my sister and my parents for dinner on Friday, and made Lemon Chicken in the slow cooker.

I should preface this by saying that cooking for the boys has always involved cooking for however many adults would be in attendance, and making an extra spoonful or two for the kids.  They've never been big eaters.  My older nephew hates all things onions, and is convinced that celery is an onion is disguise.   Sweet peppers somehow were tied into the onion family at some point, and are now considered inedible as well.  That, of course, has expanded to all forms of pepper, regardless of colour or heat.

My expectations for him to eat a dish full of vegetables?  Not so high.

Luckily, my mom offered to bring a butterscotch pie.  It's a little known fact that children can live on butterscotch alone.

So, Lemon Chicken... couldn't be much easier.

4-6 boneless chicken breast halves, chopped into large-ish chunks
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 tbsp of kosher salt (optional)
1/2 tbsp of red pepper flakes (Don't tell my nephew)

Dredge the chicken in a mix of the flour, salt and pepper and shake off any excess.    Brown (but don't cook) the chicken.  Toss it into a slow cooker.  Peel and chop up 3-4 carrots (2" chunks) and toss them in too.

Make a mix of:
1/2 can of defrosted frozen lemonade concentrate (don't add water)
3 tbsp of ketchup
1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp of brown sugar

Whisk the above together, and pour over the chicken in the slow cooker.  Cook on high for 2-3 hours.

At this point, I can imagine that you might be asking - 2 hours in a slow cooker??? Why not longer?  Why not on low?  Because.  Chicken cooked in a slow cooker turns out stringy if you're not careful.  Cooking it on high for only two hours leaves it moist but most definitely NOT stringy.

Also, 2 hours is usually enough.  Sometimes I leave it as long as 2 1/2 hours... on Friday my sister was *AHEM* late, so it cooked for three.  It was OK, but starting to think about turning on me.  I wouldn't want to leave it any longer than that.

ANYWHO...  back to the recipe.

I'm a firm believer in vegetables.  Even more so when they can all be cooked in the same pot.  The more the better.  So, about 45 minutes before you're ready to serve dinner, chop up and toss in some more vegetables.  Mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower... whatever you've got.   NOT beets.  Also, not onions, celery or peppers either, if you're inviting my nephews.  The only trick to adding the vegetables is that you shouldn't fill the slow cooker more than 3/4 full.  The manual says no fuller than 2/3, but I walk on the wild side.  I fill the slow cooker up to 3/4... almost 7/8 full.  Any fuller, and those veggies ain't going to cook, no matter how long you leave them in.  

In the meantime, boil up some rice.    After the veggies are ready to go, mix up the contents of the slow cooker, and serve it over the rice with enough sauce that you should probably be eating out of a bowl instead of off a plate.  If you're me, you'll probably run down the street and buy some bread from the world's greatest bakery to serve with this too.

Maybe it was the recipe.  Maybe it's because they became teenagers when I wasn't looking.  Whatever the reason, my nephews packed this away until there wasn't a crumb left... except a piece of the butterscotch pie.  I hid the last piece of that for myself.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The office re-do

Once reality hit, and I clued into the size of the room (or lack thereof), this project turned into something much smaller than expected.  There's no sense making or buying things when there isn't any place to put them.

This is what it looked like, before I started.  (Well... a couple of years ago.  I forgot to take before pictures again.)

What I did is to take everything out, put the rug down, put the desk back facing a different direction (I've always felt like the president of the neighbourhood watch with the desk facing that window, watching people go by; but don't like having my back to the door) and build a "window bench" of sorts.  It's nothing spectacular, but it fit my budget and will do for now.

The left of the desk is the cupboard that used to hold the computer tower.  I don't love the look of it, so will be reworking it into front and back book shelves.

I'll also be making coordinating pillows to go on the bench.

The "window bench" is a bit of a fake.  I can't build anything permanent or closed in because of the heating register that's there.  So, I took two old shelves that I've had hanging around for years, and put one on either side of the bay window.  I had a board and piece of foam cut to the right size, wrapped batting around of them, folded the fabric over the lot of it and then stapled it all in place.  There are lips on each of the shelves that hold the bench in place, so I didn't have to attach it to the shelves... not that I expect it will take much abuse.  It's strong enough to sit on, but other than a cat perch, I suspect it'll mostly be decoration... with storage below.

The dogs and I love the rug.  The cat loves the new window bench.  Neither the dogs nor the cat seem to have noticed the fact that the dog beds and kitty condo were removed from the room.  We'll see how long that lasts.

Also, I'm taking bets on how long it'll take for Himself to hack up a hairball on the rug.  Feel free to post a guess of your own.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The snowball effect

The new computer arrived a week or so ago.    Since the new computer takes up so much less desk space, I decided to clear out the rest of the clutter, and organize what's left.  Remember that?  I planned a major reorg, but no painting or new furniture.

I thought I'd use the opportunity to remove the uncomfortable chair in the room, and replace it with the kitchen chair.  This brought to light that the old chair has destroyed the floor and the damage needs to be covered.

So I bought a new rug (or five).

Emptying the room for the rug gave me a "brilliant" idea to build my own window bench using mostly material and fabric that I already had.  (I know I said I wasn't going to buy any new furniture; but I think making my own should earn me a pass on that.)  Sunday, I bought the remaining wood and foam that I needed and then came home to discover that I'd donated the fabric I thought I still had during one of my previous de-cluttering efforts.

Today, I went out to pick a new fabric.  I found one I love.  Then I decided I needed more of it in the room to make it seem like it belongs, so I bought enough to recover the dog bed in the room and make a bolster cushion for the back of the kitchen chair.

Those after pictures I promised last week?  I don't think they're coming any time soon.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Maggots to the rescue

My cooking mojo left me on Sunday.  I woke up early and tried a new recipe - cauliflower soup.  It was made from fresh ingredients, and sounded like it'd be great; but after 3 hours of preparation and simmering, it was declared to be so bad that it was flushed down the toilet.

Then I made beet salad.  I'd roasted some beets the night before, and had the idea to mix them with an onion salad recipe that I 've got.  The onions are marinated in a vinegar mixture until they're almost pickled, and then drained and mixed into a creamy sauce.  It's yummy; and I figured it'd be even better with roasted beets.  That probably would have worked out a lot more successfully if I'd had about 4 times more beets.  I ate what I could, but had to pick through a lot of onions to get to the beets.

Then I set about my cooking club assignment.  We did a cookie exchange yesterday.  I know it seems a little early; but I think the idea was that the next meeting would be too late.  So, on Sunday, I set about baking a whole lotta cookies.  I had the perfect recipe picked out.  They're called Fatal Attraction cookies (how can you go wrong with that?), and they are almost more like individual brownies than cookies.

I made one batch - it came out almost raw.  I put it in for a while longer, and they dried out but didn't have the right texture.  I made another batch, and raised the temperature of the oven by 25 degrees.  This didn't work. The third batch, cooked on a metal cookie pan in case my stoneware had somehow failed me,  was the closest to being right but still didn't seemed cooked properly after I cooked them significantly longer than ever before.  These were for the cooking club girls!  They're supposed to be perfect!

After panicked calls to both my neighbour Jen and my mom, I had offers to go to either of their houses to use their kitchens.  I thought about it; but frankly I was worn out.    I packed it in for the night, which left me with the dilemma of what to bring to the cookie exchange.  You can't exactly bring bought cookies for a cooking club's cookie exchange, can you?

And so, I made Maggots.

Maggots are a Christmas tradition in our family, handed down from my grandmother.   The first time my mom saw the recipe for these bars, she said they'd be sweet enough to gag a maggot.  She made them anyway, and they are sweet; but we liked them.  And we've called them maggots ever since.

1 package of mint chocolate chips
1 cup of honey
1 cup of peanut butter
1 cup of peanuts.
3 1/2 cups of rice crispies

Melt the chocolate chips, honey and peanut butter in a double boiler.  Mix in peanuts and cereal.  Spread out in large bar pan, and let cool in the fridge.
These are extremely sweet, so you'll want to cut them into small bite-sized portions.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Old Pictures

I've been busy going through old pictures as I transfer them from my old computer to the new one.

I came upon this one, and immediate thought of the Zadge and Harry.

Note Himself casually inspecting the damage, as though he had nothing to do with it.

This happened when Tallulah was about 5 months old.  I'd confined her to the kitchen with a baby gate and the brilliant idea to raise it about 8-10 inches so that Cotton could come and go as he pleased to visit her.  I came home a few hours later to discover a beach in my living room.  Tula had shimmied under the gate, and then ripped open a (clean) bag of kitty litter and shredded the puppy pad that I'd left behind for her.

This happened the day after she chewed a cabinet door to shreds, and was the precursor to her spending the next 7 years of unsupervised time in a crate or ex-pen.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cruel but Necessary

OK, the bath was necessary.  The pictures are cruel but kinda fun.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Five rugs

The floor in my office/computer room is hardwood, and my rolling office chair has slowly been leaving its mark.  I've gotten rid of the chair  and use a kitchen chair now - which has done wonders for my back - but I need to cover up the damage that's been left behind.

So, I decided that I'd get a rug.  At first, I wanted contemporary.  I wanted one solid (darker) colour rug, with a single, contrasting flower on it.  I even found exactly what I wanted,  costing a cool $1000.

Thinking that surely I could find something almost as good at a more reasonable price, I set about on a mission.  Since then, I have bought and returned 5 rugs.

I started with one that was too flimsy.  It wrinkled and gathered against anything that moved around it.  It went back the next day.  Then I found a really cool rug that was dark brown with a single, red flower across it.  Beautiful, and even better it was made of recycled materials.  Unfortunately, it had the texture of walking across sand paper.  It went back too.  In my third attempt, I got home to discover that the picture on the package and the pattern on the rug were completely different.  The forth was a little too small, and a little too pink.

And then the angels sang.  I went to Costco to renew my membership - and NOT buy anything - and somebody in front of me was returning a rug.  That one was the wrong colour, but was enough to convince me to investigate further.  I ended up finding the perfect rug in a style I didn't know I was looking for.  It's shag.  It's the exact opposite of what I wanted; but it's the perfect size, the perfect colour and the softest rug I've ever felt.

It's also currently rolled up in the corner of the room.  If I'm feeling ambitious tomorrow, I'll empty the room so that I can lay it out for pictures.  And hopefully to keep.  Because I don't want to return any more rugs.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuesday Randomosity

  • My dad came over on Halloween to put my Christmas lights up while it's still warm.  He does this every year because I have bad balance and he doesn't want me on the ladder.  Then he comes back in the spring and takes them down.  He's a great dad.  Except, now that he's been here, I've decided that I'd rather have a mix of purple and red lights, instead of just the reds he put up.  I wonder if he'd notice if I had a friend come over to spot me while I put up the purple lights too.
  • My Dell computer finally bought the farm, after languishing painfully for four years.  It was five years old.  I regretted not buying an Apple from the day that I brought it home - not just because it never worked very well, but because I really wanted the Apple - so I bit the bullet.  This blog entry comes to you via my new (refurbished, to save money) iMac.
  • There's a fair bit of adjustment necessary to figuring out the operating system and new key strokes.  I miss right clicking, but figure that any pain is self-imposed.  The whole transition would probably go smoother if I watched the instructional video that came with it.
  • I had a presentation today at work, during which I was supposed to introduce a new process and software that I've been working on for about six months.  Ten minutes before the presentation, somebody else made a change to the software, and blew it all away.   What a gong show.  I spent the remainder of the day contemplating a job at a florist shop.
  • Himself has spent the last three days rotating between the empty Halloween candy boxes.  Halloween only comes in second to Christmas, as far as he's concerned.  It's all about the boxes for him.
  • Now that I have a new-to-me wireless computer that doesn't involve a tower or other desk clutter-er, I've decided to redo my front office.  No paint or new furniture - just a reorg of massive proportions.