30 April 2011

Dear Universe

You have been being mean to some of my friends recently.

A friend of mine had a death in her family last night.

The husband of a friend of mine lost his job recently.

A friend of mine received very bad news recently.

My mom's dog even got diagnosed with pancreatitis this week.

Can you knock it off, please?

29 April 2011

List #7: Movies I Haven't Seen (That I Feel Like I Should Have)

1. Mary Poppins
2. Miracle on 34th Street
3.  It's a Wonderful Life
4.  The Sound of Music
5.  Bambi

28 April 2011

Recipe: Crescent Zucchini Pie

From: Taste of Home Simple & Delicious; April/May 2011

1 8-oz tube refrigerated crescent rolls
2 t Dijon mustard
4 c sliced zucchini
1 c chopped onion
6 T butter, cubed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 oz shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
4 oz shredded Co-Jack cheese
2 T dried parsley flakes
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/4 t dried basil
1/4 t dried oregano

1.  Separate crescent dough into eight triangles and place in greased 9-inch deep-dish plate with points toward the centre.  Press dough onto the bottom and up the sides of plate to form a crust; seal seams.  Spread with mustard.

2.  In a large skillet, sauté zucchini and onion in butter until tender.  In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cheeses, seasonings, and zucchini mixture.  Pour into crust.

3.  Bake at 375º for 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted near the centre comes out clean.  Cover edges loosely with a foil if crust browns too quickly.

Yield: 6 servings
Cost per serving: $1.10

Notes: This is extremely yummy, and you will be sorry you only made one.  That is all.

26 April 2011

MP3 Meme

Put your MP3 player on shuffle and post the first ten songs that come up.  Do not cheat and only post the "cool" songs or the songs that do not embarrass you!

1.  "Keep the Faith" by Michael Jackson from Dangerous
2.  "Maybe World" by Mary Chapin Carpenter from Time*Sex*Love*
3.  "Don't Worry 'Bout A Thing" by SHeDAISY from Sweet Right Here
4.  "Mississippi" by Paula Cole from This Fire
5.  "Still" by 98 Degrees from 98 Degrees and Rising
6.  "I Love the Lord" by Petra from Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out
7.  "The Woman Before Me" by Trisha Yearwood from Songbook: A Collection of Hits
8.  "Sing for the Moment" by Eminem from Curtain Call: The Hits
9.  "Whenever, Wherever" by Shakira from Laundry Service
10. "Jam" by Michael Jackson from This Is It

25 April 2011

Book Review: Fleece Navidad

by: Maggie Sefton

This is the sixth book in the Knitting Mystery book series, which I have really enjoyed.  This series is set around Kelly Flynn and her friends and the local yarn shop, House of Lambspun.

In this instalment, Juliet, one of the knitters, is dating a local professor and is quite excited about how the romance is progressing.  However, the romance is derailed when Claudia sweeps into town, leaving a trail of dead husbands in her wake.  Of course, there's a (mostly) plausible explanation for each husband's death, and Claudia soon becomes the talk of the town.  Claudia is also quite the social butterfly, signing herself up for every seniors club and weekly event, shopping around for the next husband.

Soon enough, Juliet's body is found, and people discover that Claudia and Juliet's boyfriend may have been an item.  Then someone from Claudia's past arrives in town with an armload of accusations.  Soon, the local knitters are divided into pro- and anti-Claudia camps.

Parts of this book were good.  It was nice to visit the town of Fort Connor again, and the author makes Christmas-time in Fort Connor come alive.  The nativity scene in the church (and the rehearsals leading up to it) were particularly fun to read about it.  The mystery itself, though, was lacking.  I actually solved the mystery on page 170, which was just past the halfway point of the book and before Kelly did.  This was a major disappointment.

However, I'm still looking forward to the next book in the series, as I still like the series overall.

24 April 2011

My Easter Sunday

Since I don't have any family in the area, I just chilled here with Felix.  I had given him his Easter present earlier this week - a red fluffy poof ball that he's batted across the floor a grand total of four times.  That make each swipe forty-one cents worth of swipe.  Granted, while I can afford to pay $1.65 for a cat toy, I'm determined to get the per-swipe cost of the toy down a bit.

I most ChaCha-ed during the day since they were (apparently) desperately in need of guides judging from the volume of emails and texts they sent out calling for help.  They finally even sent out not one, but TWO contests for extra money for people willing to give up their holiday time to log in and take questions.  The grand total of money they put up was pretty amazing, actually.

I made a new recipe, which turned out to be not only easy, but very cheap, and amazingly delicious.  Don't worry, I'll be sure to post it on Thursday.

And I'm VERY ashamed and embarrassed to admit that since I could find nothing good on tv to watch and didn't want to pop in a favourite movie (lest I get sucked into it and forget to, you know, actually answer questions), I got stuck watching the Lifetime Movie Network.  "Too Young to Be a Dad," "Bastard Out of Carolina," and "Book of Ruth."  I loathe you, LMN.

23 April 2011

The Week: Looking Back, Looking Forward

This past week was pretty exciting.  Remember that development I mentioned a week back?  Well, it's still developing.  And developing quite well.  That's pretty much all I want to say about it for now.

I had an interesting visit with my PM&R doctor about my ongoing hip/groin pain.  He now wants me to get a new MRI with contrast done.  But while they're injecting the contrast, he also wants them to inject some lidocaine into the joint.  If that relieves the pain, it'll give him some information about what might be going on, and if it doesn't, that will also give him some information.  Scheduling that MRI was a major headache, and it still hasn't been accomplished.  I'll save that story for if/when that saga gets wrapped up.

My awesome friend Ria and her lovely husband Curt were here on Friday to visit Felix.  While here, they were kind enough to pretend to hang out with me, as well.  We also went to a local place called Rx (it used to be a corner pharmacy) for brunch.  I had never been there before, and I'd heard mixed reviews about it, but I really enjoyed what I had and since Ria and Curt all but licked their plates, I think they enjoyed it, too (or else they were just REALLY hungry).  I had cornflake-crusted French toast with a mixed berry compote.  I was impressed that they managed to coat the toast without making it heavy and doughy.  It was so thin and crispy!  I tried not to use the syrup since they didn't have sugar-free syrup, but toward the end, I found it necessary to cut the tartness of the berries.

Next week, I have doctors appointments scheduled on every day except Monday.  I'll be seeing my friend Anju on Tuesday evening.  Med Student is supposed to come over on Saturday (except I've been having trouble getting ahold of her to confirm this and ask her about what we're making so I can shop for ingredients on Tuesday when I have a car).  And my friend Deirdre (not to be confused with my friend Dierdre) is coming over on Sunday (we're also cooking instead of going out).

22 April 2011

List #6: My favourite meals

1.  Tacos - I especially enjoy all-you-can-eat tacos from Dixon's Famous Chili (made famous because President Truman used to eat there all the time).  They use their chili meat, cheese, and the best taco sauce I've ever had.  Dixon's chili is not like any chili you've had before.  You can order it "plain" (seasoned meat with the beans on top of it only) or "soupy" (throw some liquid in).  Then the vinegar, chili powder, and other condiments are on the table.  So the chili meat and cheese make EXCELLENT tacos.  But there was once a period in my life when I tacos every weekend.  Love them.

2.  Sushi - People think that AKI (fka: AOI) is my favourite sushi restaurant, but it's more that (1) I like that I can have all-you-can-eat sushi, so I can get the variety I like, (2) they don't tell my group to "slow down the sound" like a certain other all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant down, (3) while there is another sushi restaurant in the city that I like, it's more expensive, and I normally can't afford it.

3.  Macaroni and cheese - It can be the cheap, generic mac and cheese from a box, it can be Kraft dinner, it can be baked with an actual white cheese sauce, you can through vegetables in it.  Hell, you can put salsa or broccoli or myriad other vegetables in it... I'm not really all that picky.  I just need elbow macaroni and I need cheese.

4.  My mom's chicken and dumplings - these aren't dumplings like you're probably thinking.  These are frozen egg noodles, that FOR THE LIFE OF ME I CAN NOT FIND IN ANY FRIGGIN' STORE IN PHILADELPHIA.  Whew.  Got that out of my system.  And these aren't those thin, little, yellow egg noodles you buy in the pasta aisle, either, so don't show up on my door step with any.  They are FROZEN.  And THICK.  And DOUGHY.  And, yes, I know I can make them, but then they wouldn't be the ones my mommy has made me since I was a kid, would they??????

5.  Enchiladas - cheese and onion are my favourite, but I also like refried bean, ground beef, or any combination thereof.  And they should be spicy.

21 April 2011

Recipe: Indian Hot Dogs

From: Aarti of Food Network


1 T canola oil
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly
1-1/2 T minced fresh ginger
1 handful shredded carrots, optional
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 t turmeric
1/4 t garam masala
1/2 t smoked Spanish paprika
1 large tomato, diced
2 T ketchup
1 12-oz package hot dogs, sliced about 1/16-inch thick
1/4 c water, if necessary
Handful cilantro leaves, minced

1.  Heat the canola oil, in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, until shimmering.

2.  Add the onions, garlic, ginger and carrots, if using, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Saute until onions are softened and slightly brown around the edges, about 5 minutes.

3.  Add the turmeric, garam masala and paprika, quickly stirring for about 20 seconds to keep the spices from burning. Stir in the tomatoes and ketchup, and taste for seasoning; add more salt and pepper, if needed.

4.  Add hot dog rounds, stirring to cover them with the tomato mixture. Add 1/4 cup water if the mixture is too dry. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat 15 minutes.

5.  Taste and season accordingly. Remove from heat, stir in cilantro and transfer the mixture to a serving bowl. Serve!

Notes:  I always use beef dogs.  She recommends serving this in pita pockets, which I keep meaning to try.  But so far, I like eating it right out of a big bowl.  I haven't tried it with carrots, but I probably will soon, as I will soon have a big bunch of carrots.

20 April 2011

Wednesday Weigh-In

Since I started Weight-Watchers about 2.5 years ago (and dropped it about three months later for health reasons, ironically), Wednesdays have always been my weigh-in day.  Some health plans will tell you not to weigh yourself every day, and some tell you that you should.  I personally get a kick out of weighing myself every day and sometimes a few times a day just to see the fluctuation, but I KNOW that it will fluctuation and that it's truly only a meaningful measure if you track it at about once a week.

Although it seems my thyroid is still playing a role, I've decided to start tracking my weight here again.  I'm not open enough to tell y'all my weight, but I'm willing to give my ups and downs (probably because this was a good week).

This week, I'm down 1.8 pounds from last week.  I even weighed myself three times this morning since I didn't quite believe it.  (Also, this is why I'm a bit convinced my thyroid is going nuts.)  Of course, this is probably a product of what happens when one is down to pretty much yoghurt and corn tortillas to eat until they get their next unemployment cheque, too.  Being poor FTW!

19 April 2011

Mom's Vacation

My mom has been visiting her friend in Colorado for the past several days.  Some of you who have heard my travel stories know that we never really have an agenda.  We just kind of drive until we get tired, and then we look for a motel.

When I called Mom called tonight, she and Dale were just pulling over to find a motel.

Me: Where are you?
Mom: Burlington, Kansas.  No, Oklahoma.  Oh, wait, Colorado.  I used to think it was in Missouri.
Me: Okay, so you're either in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, or Colorado?
Mom: Yep!  That's where we are!
Me: Good to know.

18 April 2011

Book Review: A Wedding to Die For

This was the second book in the Yellow Rose mystery (cosy) series.  Abby decided to transition her blossoming P.I. career into the adoption area, doing birth parent searches.  She neatly utilises her sister's training as a therapist to help screen potential clients, ensuring that they are ready for what awaits.

This story starts when Megan asks her to find her birth mother because Megan is getting married soon and she would love her birth mom to attend her wedding.  But she doesn't want her adoptive family to know about the search.  At the last minute, Abby is asked to attend the wedding as part of the bridal party (the guest book attendant), and as such, she notices someone who won't sign the guest book and doesn't seem to mingle with any of the other guest.  But before Abby can track her down, Megan's adoptive father is killed at the wedding.

The local chief of police, Chief Fielder, is a woman who sneers at Abby being a P.I.-in-training.  And, tensions get even higher when it turns out that Fielder used to date Abby's current boyfriend.  Fielder focuses in on Abby as a suspect, while Abby tries to focus on getting Fielder to do her job while simultaneously trying to solve the murder and still trying to track down Megan's birth mother.

This book was even better than the first Yellow Rose book.  One of the minor characters, Jug, was especially colourful, and I hope that he makes a return appearance in the following books, although I'm not quite sure how he could be worked in.  I like how Abby's relationship with her Aunt Caroline has played out realistically from the first book, and I hope it continues to do so.

The "Southernisms" in the book are nice (having spent about half of my summers in the South, I can attest to this), without going overboard.  Sweeney continues to sprinkle her books with a healthy balance of wit and intelligence.  I'm definitely looking forward to the third book in the series!

17 April 2011


My cat has been cracking me up lately.

He has a collection of mice that he likes to play with - small furry mice, little leather mice, catnip mice, rattler mice, knitted mice, etc.  For some reason, he has decided lately that the best way to play with his mice is to choose one, toss it onto the bed (usually when I'm sound asleep), chase it around on the bed until it falls off the bed, dive under the bed, chase it under the bed, wrestle it into submission, crawl back onto bed (but ONLY between the bars on the headboard and the wall, which means scooting the under-bed storage boxes around), fling the mouse onto the bed to show his dominance, lather, rinse, repeat.

Sometimes, when I'm reading in bed (which is what I do every night - sometimes until I literally fall asleep holding the book; it's many a night I wake up when the book slips from my hand and bops me in the face), he'll come to bed and toss a mouse on me.  I'll toss the mouse down the hall.  The other night, I had slightly bad aim, and the mouse landed in a box.  I was curious to see what he would do, so I didn't get up to get the mouse out of the box.  He attempted to paw the mouse out, but in his...  zealous attempts to get mouse out of the box, he ended up scooting the box about a six-inches across the room (and, no, this was not an empty box!).  He finally got mouse out of the box, where mouse was promptly punished for trying to hide from him.  Bad Mouse!  That'll teach him!

16 April 2011


There may have been some this week.

That is all.

15 April 2011

List #5: Some of my pet peeves

Please note, this is not an inclusive list.

1.  "Snuck" is not a word.  Rather, it is the colloquial form of the proper word, which is "sneaked."  He sneaked into the room, people.  I know it sounds funny, but "sneaked" is proper. 

2.  "Hopefully" is an adverb.  "The bride walked hopefully down the aisle."  It makes me cringe when people use it in the sense of "Hopefully, she'll get the job."

NOTE: In both of the above cases, I can make allowances for some people.  When newscasters, journalists, and professional writers do it, however, I scream at the television, newspaper, or magazine (No, really, I do.  Just ask my mom.)

3.  The misuse of the word literally.  The other day on television, a man said "The wedding cake was so awesome, it literally blew my mind."  Wow - short marriage!  "It was literally raining cats and dogs."  And PETA didn't protest this?

4.  Redundancies: PIN number, VIN number, ATM machine, registered RN, certified CPA.  Honestly, if you don't know what the abbreviation/acronym stands for, don't use it.  And certainly don't repeat yourself.  It's like when people online type "LOLOLOL."  Really?  Laughing out loud out loud out loud?  Does that mean you're laughing three times louder than everyone else?  Three times as long?  I don't understand.

5.  People who hit me with their bags and don't say "excuse me."  You can really wallop me with your bag, but if you immediately turn around and offer me a sincere "excuse me" or "I'm so sorry," I'll forgive you and go about my day.  This is mostly because when I was a kid, I spent most of my days with my head at purse-height when I went shopping with Mom.  Finally, Mom told me to just start batting back at the purses.  Then I think Mom regretted it when she realised my batting strength.

6.  The way my mom's husband just happens to ALWAYS know when I need to go to the bathroom and gets up and goes three minutes before I do.  That just really cheeses my grits.  And Mom dies laughing every time.  I swear, he does it EVER. FRIGGIN. TIME.

7.  Also, the CVS guy is a pet peeve.  But mostly I just avoid him.  He's just a walking pet peeve.  But I could do an entire post on him some other time.

14 April 2011

Recipe: Blueberry Muffins

From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
6 T unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for tins
3 c  plus 2 T all-purpose flour
3 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 1/4 c sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 t pure vanilla extract
1 c milk
1 3/4 c blueberries
1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter large (3 3/4 inches) or small (2 3/4 inches) muffin tins, and set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
2.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg, egg yolks, and vanilla; mix until well combined. Reduce speed to low; alternate adding reserved flour mixture and milk to mixer, beginning and ending with flour. Remove bowl from mixer; gently fold in berries by hand. Divide batter among muffin tins; sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake until light golden, about 45 minutes for large muffins, about 30 minutes for small muffins. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Remove from pan; transfer to wire rack, and let cool completely.
Yield:  6 large or 12 small muffins 
Notes: Martha's muffin cups must be much larger than mine.  I filled 21 muffin cups.  But I use the silicone muffin cups.  Some of them are regular-shaped and the others are heart-shaped, but it's been my experience that the heart-shaped ones hold as much (if not a little more) than the regular-shaped ones.  I didn't have baking powder, so I used the age-old half baking soda/half yoghurt substitute.  And, of course, I used Splenda instead of sugar.
Also, I don't have a food processor, so I was in the kitchen stirring forever.  I'm totally counting this as my workout today.

13 April 2011

About last night...

Technically, it was in the wee hours of the morning, but just barely.

If you read my Twitter feed, you know I called 911 just after midnight and Philly PD responded by sending not one, not two, not three, but FOUR (count 'em, four) RMPs (cop-speak for "not unmarked cars," or radio motor patrol vehicles, if you want to get technical - the things you learn being raised by a cop!) to my house with lights and sirens.

So, what prompted all this?  (Before you get worried, I'm fine.)

There I was, sitting on my couch, watching television and reading an e-book on my laptop (cause I'm not fancy enough to have an actual e-reader).  Since the weather in Philly has been in the fifties and rainy, I've had the living room windows open.  Suddenly, I hear a woman outside let loose with a SCREAM.  I wait a second, but it wasn't followed with laughter, which sometimes happens when friends sneak up on a person and scare her.  And this wasn't the kind of girlish yell that sometimes comes from the frat house across the street when they're horsing around "Oooh, the boys are threatening to spill their beer on me!!!" or some bullshit nonsense.

No, this was a from-the-gut, I-mean-business, full-of-terror SCREAM.

I looked out the windows, but all I saw was the guy across the street coming out of his house and on to the porch to look around.  It was obvious he had heard it, too.  I didn't see anything that looked amiss, but I wasn't messing around.  I grabbed my phone and called 911.  I told dispatch, "I don't know if there's anything y'all can do...?  But I have my windows open and I live at [address], and I just heard a woman scream."  He told me he would send someone out to look around.

When the officers rolled up (two cars from each direction!), I ran downstairs to meet them, and I explained that I pretty much had nothing else to tell them other than "I heard a woman scream."  And with the wind and rain, I couldn't even be positive about the direction of the scream.  One of the officers took my information and said they'd look around the neighbourhood, and if they found anything, he'd give me a call, but his best guess was that someone was probably a purse-snatching victim (since they'd received no other calls by then).  I never heard back, so I'm assuming they didn't find anything.

12 April 2011

Is Yarnbombing Vandalism?

Last week, a thread on Ravelry turned in a heated discussion on whether yarnbombing (the practice of knitters or crocheters covering something with something they've made) is vandalism.  I posted my opinion on Twitter, which -- with its 140 character limit -- wasn't really enough space to adequately convey my thoughts on the subject.

I meant to return to the subject on my blog much sooner, but I had other things to say or get to first.  So, on to the topic at hand.

Vandalism: willful or malicious destruction or defacement of public or private property 
(from the Merriam-Webster dictionary)

The latest example (at least in Philadelphia) is that a knitter took it upon herself to knit a giant pink sweater and put it on the Rocky statue that stands in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  To be clear, this knitter was NOT the sculptor the Rocky statue.  She does not OWN the Rocky statue.  She decided that it was fine to change the statue's appearance because she wanted to.

Never mind the fact that if the yarn she used was made of wool, it would attract bugs.  Or if the yarn she used was acrylic, it would contain oils that would get on the statue and could potentially damage it.

And yarnbombers have taken to doing this to trees, public transit seats, pretty much anything they want to.

Which bring me to my next point...  the sheer sense of entitlement.

What the hell gives them the right?  "Oh hey, I'm a knitter/crocheter, and I feel like this pole, subway seat, bike rack, parking meter pole, NEEDS a cosy.  So here it is!"  Um, no.  JUST NO.

When people with cans of spray-paint do the exact same thing, it's called vandalism, it's a crime, and it's punishable by jail time.  Because these people have yarn and needles instead, some people in the crafting community think it's cute, creative, and should be encouraged?  The only time we DON'T call the spray-paint artists "vandals" is when they do a mural in a place that was specially selected for that purpose.  And guess what - knitters and crocheters have a place and time for practising their art.  And it ISN'T on other people's private property (or public property, in which case my tax money is paying to cut this "yarnbombing" down, and that really pisses me off).

In the words of one of my friends, as we were discussing this, the other day, "If I was into macaroni art, and I decided to do a macaroni art picture on the front of your house without your permission, would that be okay?"

11 April 2011

Book Review: Insatiable

I normally don't read books about vampires. But I adore Meg Cabot. And how could I resist a book whose jacket copy starts out "Sick of vampires?" and is about vampires?

Mena Harper is a soap opera writer with a "gift" for telling when and how the people she meets are going to die. And she's just as sick of the vampire craze as everyone else is. Unfortunately, her boss is making her write a vampire storyline at work. On top of that, Mena's neighbour invites her to a dinner party and she meets Lucien who becomes the first person who Mena can't "read." Of course, Lucien turns out to be a vampire. But not just any vampire - he's the Prince of Darkness. That's right; he's the son of Dracula!

As if that wasn't enough, Lucien is involved in a vampire war. And Mena has fallen in love with him. And there's a vampire serial killer on the loose in the city.

As usual, Meg Cabot's sense of humour shone in this book. There was two distinct points at which I actually had to put the book down because I was laughing so hard. There were a few mysteries to this book that I loved (who is the killer, who will win the war), and there was a twist at the end that totally blind-sided me. I also loved watching Mena struggle with her relationship with Lucien - she didn't want to be involved with a vampire, but she did like him and found him attractive. I found Mena's brother to be a pesky annoyance, but that was kind of the point.

I'm happy to see that a sequel to this book is expected later this year. I'll definitely be looking for it!

10 April 2011

My beef with ESPN: The Magazine

For years, I have subscribed to ESPN: The Magazine.  In fact, if memory serves, I have subscribed to it pretty regularly since its inception in 1998.  I'm not willing to swear that I was an inaugural subscriber whose subscription has NEVER lapsed, but I know that I HAVE been pretty regular with my subscription renewals.  And I know that I've given my fair share of gift subscriptions over the years.

I'm not quite sure how or why, but my most recent subscription ended in April (it's usually around the holidays).  I always renew my subscription and Dale's/Mom's at the same time, plus anyone else's who I might be throwing in.  At Christmas, I gave Dale the annual piece of paper (the gift subscription is technically Dale's, and Mom steals it every other week) that promised a renewal.

Because things have been so hectic lately and I've got some things on my mind (as you may have noticed), I hadn't really noticed that my ESPN renewal notice hadn't come.  Every once in awhile I'd wonder about it, then I'd think "maybe it did come and I paid it, and I just can't remember - I HAVE been preoccupied with other things," but then it would slip my mind and I'd forget to look it up later.

But then come March, the magazine stopped coming.  So I emailed ESPN with the pertinent details.  A week later, I was informed of the reason I never got a renewal notice.  "In May of 2010 you had requested that we stop mailing promotions.  Once this was changed on your account, it also changed your status for being
mailed renewals."

What?  Really????  Do you not WANT people to renew their subscriptions????  I wrote back and explained the ridiculousness of this policy, in addition to asking them to looking up my record as a subscriber, my record for giving gift subscriptions, and politely but firmly requesting that I be given the holiday subscription rate (which is half that of the regular rate).

It took (another week), but now I have been told that, "Your subscription and gift subscription renewal(s) has been entered on our files for the number of issues you requested.  You will receive an invoice in the near future. Upon receipt of your payment, your subscription will continue for the full number of issues ordered.  We have honored the holiday pricing for the gifts.  We are sorry for the inconvenience this has caused."

So now I have to wait to receive an invoice, wait for them to receive the payment, and then everyone can start getting magazines again.  All because I didn't want to receive "promotions."

09 April 2011

My new obsession

I have a new obsession (well, actually a few, but I may need more blog ideas later).  But this obsession may benefit y'all, so I'm sharing.  See, I'm generous like that.

One of my friends turned me on to the this site, and I have now spent HOURS on it: krazycouponlady.com

Don't worry, I won't turn into one of those people who spend hours every day couponing and has a stock room full of non-perishables.  When I said I've spent hours on the site, I meant since the day about three weeks ago when she told me about it.

Things I love about this site: The "Print Coupons" link.  Go there and all of the brands are listed in alpha order.  It's easy to just scan for the brands you love and see what they have.

The "Freebies" page.  See what free samples they have.  Keep in mind that just because a sample was listed yesterday doesn't mean the sample isn't still available today.

The "Couponing 101" tips.  It explains how to become an "extreme couponer."  I don't really want to go all extreme (multiple trips to multiple stores in a week just aren't practical for me when I can barely afford to ride SEPTA to my required doctor appointments!) right now, nor are multiple newspaper subscriptions, but I can understand the theory of it.  And some of the tips make a lot of sense.  I'm even implemented some of the them.  Coupon stacking FTW ("stacking" is using a manufacturer's coupon and a store coupon on the same item, which most stores allow - bonus if you do it when the item is on sale!)

And the "Store" links.  They have separate links for Target and CVS, which are handy for me since I frequent those stores often.  They'll show you what each stores have on sale, deals there, coupons you can use there, and what the final price for an item breaks down to after the coupon, sale price, etc.

Also, my first trip to the store and Target after I used a crapload of coupons and saw how much I saved...?  Omg - I think I actually got a bit of an adrenaline rush!  (No, seriously - don't worry; I'm not turning into one of THOSE people!)

08 April 2011

List #4: Things That Worry Me (Probably Needlessly)

1.  People will think I never wash my hands because my bathroom soap dispenser is always full.  But really I just have a huge-ass soap refill bottle under the sink, and I like refilling the soap dispenser.  It makes me happy.

2.  People will think I only three towels (my regular towel, my bathroom hand towel, and the towel I use for my hair).  I have a bunch of towels under my bathroom sink and in the closet, but I find it easier to wash/dry my linens and then just put those same towels back.

3.  My neighbours think I have sex with a wide variety of men because I have my windows open during the spring/summer/fall, and I generally am yelling for various drivers to win races, which consists of "GO KYLE/CARL/DAVID/CHAD/JAMES/TODD" or "FASTER! FASTER! GO! FASTER! C'MON! GO FASTER!" and the occasional "OH MY GOD!" and the rare "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?"

4.  I think the walls here are pretty solid, but if not, I worry my building-mates may think:
  • I beat my cat.  I say "Sorry, Felix" a LOT.  If you've ever met him, you know he gets startled quite easily.  So I've gotten in the habit of saying "Sorry, Felix" when something loud happens or when I drop something or when I do something startling... like reposition myself on the couch.
  • I burn a lot of food.  My kitchen timer is quite loud and it sounds a LOT like the smoke detector did in my old building.  I hope they don't think I burning things on a daily basis.  Sometimes several times a day.
5.  For people who have been in my bedroom, you may have noticed a big-ass hand-held vibrator-type thing on my nightstand.  I worry that people think I leave my sex toys lying about.  But I actually use it because I awful cramps in my calves.  They're actually so bad that I take prescription quinine sulfate (which is an anti-malarial that insurance doesn't pay for since the U.S. has officially eradicated malaria, but that's another rant).

07 April 2011

Recipe: Banana Ice Cream

Thanks to Julie, who posted that she needed to "make something with bananas," which led me to asking what, which led her to telling me about this fabulous banana ice cream, I have become obsessed with banana ice cream.

In turn, this means I have been washing my blender almost every night.  Thanks for that, Julie.

Banana Ice Cream (pay attention people; this is complicated)

1.  Buy bananas.
2.  Peel bananas.
3.  Slice bananas.
4.  Lay bananas on cookie sheet or similar tray.
5.  Put bananas in freezer for at least an hour.
6.  Put frozen bananas in blender.
7.  You may need to occasionally stop to scrape sides down.
8.  Eat banana ice cream and make yummy noises.

Notes:  You can add peanut butter (I've been doing this) or honey (Mom said this didn't sound as good, so I didn't do this yet).  Do NOT make the mistake I did and think "Oh, these will probably blend down into nothing so I should have Med Student peel and slice eight bananas for our dessert."  Because then you will be making room in your freezer for bowls of banana ice cream instead of room for a nice, flat cookie sheet that you previously DID have room for at the very top of your freezer.

Totally healthy - nothing but bananas.  And great for all kinds of diets.  No meat, no gluten, no (extra) sugar, no dairy.  JUST BANANAS!

06 April 2011

Ignore this post

This post won't make sense to anyone except one other person.

But in an attempt to kill..  uh... well, several birds with one stone:


05 April 2011

The last few days

Over the weekend, Med Student came over and we had a Top Chef marathon.  She was WAY behind on the "All-Stars" season (she actually hadn't even started it, whereas I had already seen the finale), and we made it to the halfway point.

We made the Amish Breakfast Casserole (sans meat, plus sweet peppers and jalapeños) and a new dessert recipe that I'll post later this week (omg, it was so good).

Monday was my consultation with a surgeon - mixed results, which I'll share when I have more information.

Today was a different appointment, which doesn't merit discussion.

Thankfully, I have no appointments scheduled for next week... yet.  Although I DO have four appointments that I need to schedule.  I'm having a grand time being me right now.  Lest anyone worry too much, keep in mind that my COBRA insurance runs out 31 May, so part of this flurry is just me trying to cram in as much as I can with as many of my doctors as I can before I have no coverage.  I generally have a set schedule with my med team (I see my endo every four months, my PCP every three months, my neuro every two months, etc.), but I'm slightly resetting everything since I have no idea when the next time I'll have insurance and will be ABLE to see these people will be.

04 April 2011

Book Review: Silent Mercy

The latest in the Alexandra Cooper series, this book started with a burnt body being discovered on the steps of a church. The church is behind a tall, locked gate, and the church itself is locked. How did the body get there? Cooper, her close friends and police officers Mercer and Chapman, begin investigating this murder when another burnt body at a neighbouring church shows up.

Meanwhile, Cooper is attending to her daily duties as the chief of the Sex Crimes division of the District Attorney's office of New York City. In this book, it means stepping into a volatile trial involving a defrocked priest accused of improper behaviour with a student, and then handling a sticky situation with the family of a student who may have exaggerated a rape claim.

The things I like about Fairstein's books were still here - great chemistry between the Cooper and her two main friends, Mercer and Chapman. As usual, I like seeing a strong female character in fiction who is also capable of having friendships with men (read: she isn't seen as a "ballbuster" or a bitch to be steered clear of).  And the nice in-joke of Cooper and Chapman always going out of their way to catch that day's "Final Jeopardy" question and making bets on it is fun (thus the first book in the series being named "Final Jeopardy.")

The things that I dislike, though, are still there, which is why Fairstein has been relegated to library-status (for local friends - I still have several Fairstein's up for grabs if you're interested!). She repeats certain details in every book that really don't need to be there. Even if this was my first book, I don't NEED to know that she is wealthy because her father invented a diddly-do that was once used in every heart surgery way back when. Or that Chapman became a policeman because his father blah blah blah.

I also read these stories for the great plotlines, the suspense, and the trial scenes. If I wanted lessons on New York City history and architecture, I could take classes or get entire books on those. And enough on lecturing me about how a woman or girl dresses doesn't mean she deserved to be raped. While I understand that Fairstein probably DID need to educate policemen and juries on this point in her actual job before she became a novelist, she doesn't need to use her fiction books to educate her readers. Or, if she wants to, find a better way to do it (for instance, her actual non-fiction book). At this point, I can usually spot the lecture coming and just skip the next page. It's tedious, especially after several books.

03 April 2011

A Royal Weekend

My "Boys in Blue" are back in business!

Last season, the Kansas City Royals "earned" the distinction of never getting above .500 for the season.  (For you non-sports fans, that means at no point during the season had we won more games than we had lost.  Talk about your dubious distinctions.)

This year, we did pretty well in pre-season.  Hopes are high for the season (at least, for the Royals).  The problem is that we're a small market team.  We can scout and nurture GREAT players, but we can't keep them.  We've lost Johnny Damon (two-time World Series champion), Carlos Beltran (five time All-Star), and Zack Greinke (Cy Young winner who once went 38 innings in a row without giving up a run).

Zack, before he defected to the Brewers

What did we do in our opening weekend?  We dropped the first game.  We won the next two.  The fourth game was important.  The L.A. Angels would either tie-up the four-game weekend series or the Royals would take it.

After giving me several near heart attacks, the good guys finally put me out of my misery after 13 innings.  It was an offensive slugfest for nine innings... and then NOTHING until the bottom of the 13th when Mike Treanor (my new hero) hit a three-run homer.  Sweet!

02 April 2011

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday to my mom!  (Even though she never took me to see Harlem Globetrotters.)

This is my mom at Kansas Speedway last year, as we stood in line getting ready to go drifting.  Seriously, how many mid-60s women do you know would be so psyched about getting to do drifting that they would willingly go through the entire Marlboro Experience exhibit and get inundated with tobacco propaganda?

Btw, if you don't know what drifting is, check out this video

In fact, she was SO psyched about it, we cut it close and almost missed driver intros.  Race be damned, we were going drifting!  It was pretty cool.  I still have my drifting pass hanging by my front door.

01 April 2011

List #3: Books I Like Not by My Favourite Authors

1.  Outlander by Diana Gabaldon:  Claire and her husband Frank are taking a much needed second honeymoon in post WWII Scotland.  They need to reconnect after she served in the war as a nurse.  However, this becomes difficult when she goes exploring one morning, finds some standing stones, and disappears... kind of.  She actually ends up exactly in the same place, but in the 18th century.  She uses her wits, her medical knowledge, and some serendipitous meetings to survive.  This book is only the second time I've fallen in love with a fictitious character - James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser.  Ah, Jamie.  While Diana can get a little long-winded with her botanical descriptions (it IS her academic background, so I suppose this can be forgiven), her blend of romance, suspense, comedy and drama is just right.  This was originally meant to be a one-off.  Then a trilogy.  However, she's now up to seven books in this series, seven books in the "Lord John" spin-off series, and two books in the companion series.  And be warned if you get hooked - it's usually about three to four years between books.  While I have all of the books in the "Outlander" series, the first book in the "Lord John" series, and the first companion series, she just doesn't QUITE make "favourite author status.  Favourite books, yes.  Favourite author?  Sorry.  It's a fine line, though.

2.  Charlotte's Web by E. B. White: Mom picked this book out for me when I was a kid.  I won a free book from the library, and she got impatient waiting for me to pick a book out.  She grabbed this one, "Here.  You'll like it.  A girl makes friends with animals who talks."  This was the first book that made me cry at the end, and (as most of you know), it's why I don't eat pork.  However, a fun fact that you probably don't know - E.B. White's granddaughter read the book and attempted to save White's farm pig by putting up a "SOME PIG" sign on the pen.  White gently explained that he was running a farm and needed to eat.  The pig was slaughtered that winter.

3.  Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst: That's right, another kid's book.  When I have a bad day, I sometimes grab it off the shelf and read it.  I love the simplicity of it, and the reminder that we ALL have crappy days.  And remembering what "a crappy day" entailed of when we were kids.  "I think I'll move to Australia."

4.  Foul Matter by Martha Grimes: An very good author decides to see how far a publisher will go to land him.  So he does his research and finds what he considers the worst publishing house and asks them to sign him - with one condition: they must ditch their most lucrative author (who still owes them one book which is due soon - oh, and they've already paid the advance).  This book was one of the funniest books I've ever read.  I'm surprised the neighbours didn't write me nasty notes about the howls of laughter coming from my apartment at inappropriate times.  This would make the best movie ever, by the way.  I highly recommend it for book lovers of ANY genre.  It's got comedy, suspense, intrigue, and a bit of caper-type of stuff.  My sister DID warn me, though, that it's unlike the rest of Grimes' work.  Boy, was she right - I haven't been able to get past the second chapter of any of other Grimes' book.

 5.  The Dive from Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer: Girl meets boy, boy proposes to girl, girl says yes.  Girl starts to have doubts and thinks she wants to break up with boy.  Couple goes to cove to celebrate university graduation with their respective BFFs.  Boys goes for titular dives and breaks his neck.  Boy wakes up three weeks later as a quadriplegic.  Does girl (okay, her name is actually Carrie) stay with boy (whose name is actually Mike) out of loyalty? or follow her heart?  Anyone who knows me knows I love books who struggle with questions of ethics, morality, and head vs heart crap.  This really got into it without being overly sappy and letting the reading really view all of the perspectives equally.  Truly heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time.