Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How I Know I Don't Belong on the Amazing Race

Recently, Poppy, from Funny or Snot ,mentioned that she'd like me to be one of her partners on the Amazing Race, if she were so inclined to do the Amazing Race.  I listed the reasons I can't do the Amazing Race, though there was a time when I thought I really want to do it.

I used to be an avid fan and when the invention of watching preshown tv on the computer the next day came about, I was even more of a fan because I could watch it when I had time and not listen to k-ster asking why I watch such trash (we don't have a DVR, so I have to watch it online).

Remember the old days, when you either had to watch it the night it was on or videotape it with the VCR?  And if you were like some people, your VCR was not set up right and you had to watch what you were taping because if you changed the channel, it recorded that instead?   Let's all pause a moment and remember our grandmothers, and possibly mothers, whose dream it was to watch one thing while recording another, only to completely forget how to set it up to record anything anyway....

I digress.

So, somewhere along the way, I kind of stopped watching the Amazing Race.  I had a lot of things I had to keep up with, and one season everyone pissed me off, so I stopped watching.

After Poppy's post, I thought it was time to watch it again.  And I am.  And I am enjoying it, but probably for the wrong reasons.  Because this season?  They have the DUMBEST.PEOPLE.EVER.  I'm serious.

I'm enjoying making fun of them in my head (since I have to watch alone because k-ster can't stand the drama) ((this from the man who starts each day watching some dreadful news channel and some stock thing with a crazy guy who yells about what to do in the stock market, all of which is way too much drama at 6:45am))
If you haven't ever watched it, you can probably still enjoy this post because you get the general premise which is:  with a partner, travel the world doing tasks which scare the bejeezus out of you and make you eat disgusting things and occasionally see the most amazing sites, oh and win $1 million if you finish first the last day.

Without further ado, which I always think is spelled adieu, which is the French word for goodbye and it makes no sense at all, I will share with you how I know I am too smart to play on the Amazing Race. 

1.  When the twin doctors got in the water, which they fear more than anything in this world, they said "THE WATER IS EVERYWHERE"

Now, maybe I am a snob because I have lived my 38 years on the water, but I thought everyone knew that when you go in the ocean, in say, Bora Bora, the water is indeed EVERYWHERE.  Had they never seen a picture of the ocean?  Never seen a kid in a pool?  Even in a kiddie pool, when you are in the water, it is actually EVERYWHERE.

And these guys are doctors.  I would no sooner let one of them look  at my hangnail than I would at my ladyparts.  Because they are OB/GYNs.  And they appeared really d-u-m-b on the 2 episodes I watched.  I have to say I had an uneasy feeling from the get go because when they showed the little video of each team on the first episode, they showed the two of them, in the same room, about to do an ultrasound on a pregnant woman.  Two doctors to do an ultrasound?  REALLY?  And they are brothers?  I can't tell you how worried I'd be if that circus showed up in the room, even if there was a camera crew explaining why they were there.

I lost a lot of respect for those two the first time they mentioned a fear of water.  Anyone who has even seen a commercial for the Amazing Race knows that water will be involved at some point.  I feel like they would just as easily be in the delivery room and announce 1 minute before the delivery "well, we didn't know there would be actual babies involved in delivering babies."

2.  This one is actually #2 and #3 When the Alabama couple, or whatever super southern state they come from, had to do the task that said "Who is well balanced?" she said he had to do it because "HE WORKS AT WAL-MART AND HE WALKS UP AND DOWN THOSE AISLES ALL DAY LONG".  

Is the Wal-Mart he works at on a cruise ship on the high seas?  Are the aisles a roller coaster?  Does he walk on stilts around the store?   Hop around on a pogo stick?  Just what is it about walking those aisles that makes him have such exceptional balance?

And we can thank his quote for the title of the first episode "BUSINESS IN THE FRONT, PARTY IN THE BACK".  That was in reference to his hair.  HIS HAIR.

I have little respect for this team because he tripped and went flying over his own bags within the first 10 minutes (our version, I know real life is like hours long) of the first episode and then he shoved his wife into the boat on this one, by grabbing her crotch and shoving her onto the boat because she said to just drag her in.  They are not coordinated enough as a team to be on this show.  You must be very nimble and athletic if you expect to make it past the first few episodes.

4.  The father/son team lost me from the very beginning.  Yes, they both survived cancer and that is fantastic.  Yes, 2 years ago, the son was battling with chemo and here is today, a professional cyclist and now they get to be on the race together.

But the fateful mistake was made in episode 2 when they didn't pick up their gear while they had the lead.  I was really mad that they climbed through the bushes at this really nice resort in Bora Bora to go to a traditional blessing before they were supposed to embark on the task.  These two just burst through bushes going up and going down, while others used the path, and I thought it was so tasteless.  And then they didn't pick up their stuff and I was wetting myself.  That sealed the deal for me.

Or so I thought.

Then there was the scene where they were running on the beach and the father yells "I JUST RUPTURED MY ACHILLES" while he was still running.  He limped onto the mat and said it again.  And again.  And Phil might have even said "I hope you didn't rupture your achilles" or that might have been in  my head.  And they left the mat with the father saying he needed to see a physician to find out if he had ruptured his achilles or not.  He was WALKING off the mat as he said this.

I have not ruptured my achilles but I know someone who did.  She did not continue walking, yelling about rupturing something.  She immediately collapsed and thought she had been shot.  There was no limping and sort of jogging while whining.  There was excruciating pain and no walking and weeks of a cast after surgery, etc.  I am not a doctor but I am pretty sure that man did not rupture anything, at that point in time.

***UPDATE****  I have seen commercials for the next episode and the father is indeed wearing a cast and has to have a plastic bag on it, so he must have done something.....  But I refuse to believe he ruptured it right then and there.

While these are just the highlights of the teams who have said the DUMBEST things already in the first 2 episodes, I feel that I must watch the rest of the season to see which dodoheads actually come out of this on top.  Right now, I don't even think I have an inkling who might win it.

I just know it won't be me because I'm busy being all smart and stuff, like here and here and here.

Linking here and  here and  here and here and here and here and  here

Sunday, February 24, 2013

My Version of Chicken Shawarma

If you poke around this blog, you'll see quite an assortment of posts about food.  I mostly share what I do to make food please me, which means that I alter recipes or presentations in ways that suit me.

That means you should be prepared to see no pretty food presentations here.  We don't have time for that.  We sit at the table, at least, but we don't do serving bowls or anything like that.

Recently, my gym sent out a recipe for Chicken Shawarma and I thought I'd give it a whirl.  I guess Shawarma is some middle eastern word for  chicken with a cucumber yogurt sauce, served on a pita. I bet some of you call that a gyro.

Since we are nothing if not multi ethnic, cross cultural and just plain lazy in our meal choices around here, I decided I'd add my own interpretation of this dish.

The real recipe is below, if you'd like to just cut to the chase.

Otherwise, refill your coffee and read along.

First, you need to marinate and grill the chicken.  The marinade involves Greek yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, oregano and pepper.  I often use Greek yogurt as a marinade and this was quite similar to what I do.  My usual marinade involves an absurd quantity of Greek oregano (much different in taste from the oregano you are thinking of AND it grows year after year in my garden) but since I didn't have any, I followed what this recipe suggested.

I like using yogurt in the marinade because it's not oily and it keeps the meat moist.  I've done it with lamb too.  

I've also done it with mint instead of oregano, in the years I've had lots of mint.

I used chicken thighs because I thought it was chicken breast until I thawed it and cut it up.  Sometimes I doubt the validity of that Masters in Reading that graces my wall.

I always like to put marinades in a plastic ziplock bag because then you can massage the marinade and meat together.  If you remember.  I usually plan to do that and then never go back to massage them.

When I put the chicken in the bag, I decided to leave it sitting out because it was still kind of frozen and it's not 80 degrees out.

Then I decided that 45 degrees and really rainy weather be damned, I was going to grill it.  The darkness also added a certain element of daring to the experience.

It was probably the worst grilling experience I've ever had because it was stuck all over the grill and I couldn't see and it was just obnoxious.  I expected I'd have to finish this in the microwave but it was actually done.

I didn't have pita bread, plus the pita bread we can get here is nothing like what I've had in a true Mediterranean style restaurant, so I used chibatta rolls.  Multi cultural, here we go!

I put them in the oven to warm up and sort of toast for about 10 minutes.  I could probably have drizzled olive oil on them but I'm not a drizzler.  I don't think we missed it.

I put the cucumber yogurt sauce on the bread, put the chicken on the sauce and put some tomatoes on top of that.

Now, if this were served in a real restaurant, with soft, warm pita bread, it would have been all neatly served, folded in half, everything looking all neat and tidy.

But, this is not a restaurant, so bite me.

I do, however, think these tomatoes look fantastic!

Ok, here's the recipe.  It calls for hummus but I've been unhappy with my body and hummus lately, so I chose not to add it.  I think it would add a nice touch, especially if it was warm, but I didn't want to burp for the rest of the night.

It also says you can add hot sauce but I thought that was adding just one too many countries to the list.  Unless hot sauce is also highly consumed in the middle east/Mediterranean?

Grilled Chicken Shawarma

Shawarma is a Middle Eastern sandwich made with sliced, seasoned meat. For a lean meal, dig into this protein and flavor packed pita!
Prep Time: Marinade 1 to 5 min., sauce 6 to 14 min., cooking the chicken 15 to 30 min.


    1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
    2 cups Greek yogurt
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    1 tsp ground cumin
    1/2 tsp dried oregano
    Juice of 1 lemon
    Salt and freshly ground pepper
    1/2 English cucumber, minced
    1 Tbsp olive oil
    1/2 Tbsp red-wine vinegar
    4 whole-wheat pitas
    Thinly sliced red onion
    Chopped romaine to taste
    2 sliced tomatoes
    Hummus or hot sauce (optional) to pat lightly as a spread on pita 


    To marinate, combine the chicken with half the yogurt and 2/3rds of the minced garlic. 
    Add cumin, oregano, and lemon juice along with pinches of salt and pepper .
    Toss and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or up to 8 hours.
    When marinade is ready, heat a grill or grill pan on high.
    To make the sauce, mix the remaining yogurt and garlic with the cucumber, olive oil, and vinegar.
    Add salt to taste and set the sauce aside.
    Grill the chicken thighs until they're lightly charred on both side and cooked through.
    Let them rest off the heat for 5 minutes.
    Meanwhile, lightly toast the pitas on the grill.
    Slice the chicken into strips and stuff them into the pitas.
    Add the yogurt sauce and veggies.
    Add your choice of dressing, if desired (hummus or hot sauce.)  

Linking here and here and here and here and  here and here and here

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Keep The Tortilla, Mary Pendergast

We've all had them:  anonymous comments on our blogs that we know no one in their right mind, no matter how bad their English may be, would ever actually compose.

This week has been particularly busy and they usually like to tell me things like I have a wonderful blog that is very informative and I should keep at it.

Recently, I received this one:

Unquestionably believe that which you said. Your favourite reason seemed to be at the net the easiest factor to be mindful of.
I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while other people
consider worries that they plainly do not realize about.
You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest and outlined out the whole thing with no need side effect , other people can take a signal. Will probably be back to get more.
Thank you

I appreciate that no side effects are needed.

Sometimes, I am lucky enough to be offered a website that I can go visit to be just as informed as they are.   Occasionally, the grammar is fine and they try to trick me into replying by telling me they have some questions about my very excellent blog.  But then their email address is more than a little suspicious.

Today, I received this one and I believe the best part is that which I have highlighted because when the tortilla's ketones are off, I think we all know the dire consequences that follow.

Αpples - Τhesе are populаr. Insulіn-deprivаtion
spеeds up your mеtabolism rate.
A low calorie diet, which meаns you shοuld
tо extensivе and also get a move in аpрointing Mary Pendergast as Regulatοry
and Strategic Matters Advisor; Penԁergast wаs a senior citizen.
The truth is that sustaіnablе raѕpberrу ketonеs іs a Great Waу Tο Losе WeightAre you
rеady? Κeep the tοrtilla on a rаspberry ketone
supplemеnts in nz shops, stores, and completely dependent
on your health and fitness of the seniors.

Linking here

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Updo, Updown, At Least Make It Pretty

I am no fashion plate and hair is probably my biggest downfall.  I won't use products in my hair and I refuse to spend time doing things to it.  Wash and go and dry my bangs (I have to have bangs.  I think there's a law somewhere.  My forehead is way too big and scary.) and have it long enough to put up when I exercise.

Long ago, my hair became a nuisance and I became one of those people who can't stand to have their hair touching them.  (it's touching me, it's touching me!!!!!!!!)  It's fine for a few minutes, especially when I am not doing anything, but as soon as I have to move around it starts moving and fall forward, it's all over.  I don't even like to have the end of my ponytail touching me when I exercise.

I always thought if I let it grow, it would get past whatever the annoying point is and it would hang freely and be just gorgeous.  I guess I've never let it get  past that magical point because even here, at the longest I think it's ever been, it was a daily nuisance.

For a couple of weddings that I was in, I had my hair done but it looked like crap both times.  In both cases, they used a lot of hairspray to hold it, but all that did was solidify the fact that I don't have thick hair that's bright and pretty.  For one of them, I went with day old hair, the guy started putting stuff in to "dirty it up to make it work" and it got so sticky and dirty, he actually made me go to the sink so he could wash it and start over.  The result was nothing better than what I could have done for free. And I wouldn't have used so much hairspray so it could have actually moved a little.

I love the idea of big hairstyles for events.  I'm okay with the teasing and enlarging of the hair for a wedding or ball or whatever, especially since I don't do that stuff every day, so I think my hair can take it.  All those glamorous Hollywood pictures always give me hope that someone will some day make my hair look splendid if only just for a few hours.   I just can't find the stylist to do it.

In what will surely be a circumstance of wild irony, it will probably be my mortician who gets it right.

In any case, I was on today and came across this post about Taylor Swift's Red Carpet Ready Hair.  That girl has some great hair.  I don't know how she manages to live with it touching her like it does, especially when she talks sings her songs in the 3 notes she can hit. I would have to rip it out if I were her.

I can't say I've ever seen her hair look bad.  It's probably the only asset of hers that I would compliment her on.

Until this.

Red Carpet Ready they call that?   Can you see what a mess that is?  It's like a 5 year old was playing hairdresser and just stuck a piece here, another piece there, another one there, put it all in with bobby pins and called it a day.

Or her stylist was in a really big hurry, and blind, and just grabbed and pinned.

Red Carpet Ready?

At any given point, my hair looks like any of the following:

When it's a little shorter, the free hanging 'do is a little cuter because it looks like I'm just a little scattered and was in a hurry but when it's longer like this, it just looks like I have no patience and just whipped it up.  This is most often how everyone sees me. Since I don't walk red carpets, I pretty much wear it the same way all the time and never give a second thought to what I should do with it.

It takes all of 3 seconds and no skill.  If I make the mistake of using a barrette instead of an elastic when I run, I can whip it up and snap it together as I run.  That's how difficult it is.
If you read the whole post, you'll see they give directions on how to make your own hair look just as bad as  like Taylor's.

You start with this:
And I think that looks great. 

By the end of the lesson, they have you doing all manner of this:

Now, let's recap:

Taylor Swift's rat's nest is Red Carpet Ready. Implying that it's very complex and could never be done quickly, nor should it be worn for everyday style.  There are 4 basic steps to go from a nice chignon to a total mess.

My sleeker, takes  2 seconds updo is my ready for anything, every day/night style.  Dress it up, dress it down, no one really cares.  You could almost do it one handed.

And I didn't even try to make all of the hairs lay flat.  

It's way too complex for me to even try to give you step by step instructions. You'll just have to wait for the video.

Linking here  and here and here and   here 

Now get outta my way.  Red Carpet, here I come! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I'm Usually Not A Sheep

Stop laughing.  I'm not .  Usually.  I like to behave and follow the rules, but I don't follow EVERY single thing everyone does. 


At the gym, they have had a sign on the door for months saying that we need to take off our "outside" shoes before going into the gym because all the wet stuff ruins the machines.  I totally get that.  The entryway from the door through the lobby and into the locker room is all fardwood, so I usually walk to the locker room in my "outside" shoes and change there.

If it's not especially wet out, I might even just keep the very same shoes on!  But don't tell!

Since it's February vacation here, I, like the rest of the gym sheep, have taken advantage of going to morning classes.  They are foolishly packed like sardines during these vacations so I have no idea what possessed me, but I've done it twice this week. 

It is nice to get my workout done for the day and not think about it looming ahead of me all day long.   However, my body prefers afternoon exertion, so early morning stuff gets my heart rate up faster than a 4:30 could ever do.

On Monday, I walked in with my super hot boots on, saw the sign, and started to march my way across the fardwood.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something along the lines of this.

Ok, maybe not quite that many shoes,  but it dawned on me that the morning gym rats are rule followers!  They actually sit down (there have been chairs there all along, who knew?) and take off their "outside" shoes and put their "inside" shoes on right there at the door before setting foot past the main desk. 

There were a million Uggs, slip ons, flip flops, you name it.  It was really all I could do not to wrap the rug up around all of them and burn those effing Uggs.  And I left my fabulous watermelon boots on the mat, just like everyone else.

It felt kind of good to follow the rules because everyone else did too.

In the locker room, I heard some of the afternoon non rule followers who had come for morning classes mumbling "great, what did I do with  my shoes- OH YEAH I left them at the door!". 

So it's not just me.  Other afternoon gym rats followed the rules too.

As I was leaving a woman came dashing back in- to grab her Uggs because she'd worn her sneakers right out the door.  Hmm, she must have been an afternooner in for a morning class and lesson on how to take off your shoes and leave them at the door.

I went again this morning and wore some slip  on Keens.  I thought I'd blend in a little more.  I was kind of excited to be in the realm of the rule followers.   So, I walked in the door, sat down on the chair and saw one lady changing her shoes and not a single shoe in sight!

Where were the morning rule followers?

I was bold and left my Keens there anyway.  I thought maybe others would follow my amazing lead.

I think there might have been 2 other pairs of shoes when I left.  So sad.

There must have been a flood of those afternoon rats who just barged right through the gym and ruined all of the machines.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stalkers, Come Find Me

I like to pretend that I am invisible on the web.  Kind of like a fairy.

Just floating around, sprinkling my humor and creative moments here and then, but very elusive.

You're never sure where I'll show up or when.  No address or phone number.  Just an email address and everyone thinks I live in the blogosphere.

I don't fly though, much to k-ster's chagrin.

And I don't have a high pitched fairy voice. 

I don't give my phone number and mailing address out on my blog and I try not to list names of specific places that would give away my New England address.

If you're really stalking me, you've lined up all the clues and you already know where I live and you're probably looking through my windows right now.  Isn't this outfit sexy?

If not, here's a little more information to help you out.

I've been hosting a French club for adults for 6 years and we just had our 6th "birthday". Through no effort of my own, a reporter from the local paper contacted me out of the blue to do an article about us.  Here it is!  I was pretty excited because in the 6 years I've hosted this group, we've had 3 different media sources come and do write ups!

She isn't from around here, so all of what I told her was new and unknown to her.  She also spoke French which was kind of interesting because she really "got" why we meet.

I was thrilled to talk to her about what we do.  I didn't share this story, though.  And I made another cake that wasn't quite like this, but it wasn't much better.

I might as well have shared them all because every looney tune around has contacted me today.

I couldn't keep it to myself and just had to share it with all of you.

Isn't there some saying about not being able to keep a secret and it leading to one's demise?

So, it won't be hard for you to come get me now, all you stalker types.

Though I do recommend waiting until July.  It's a most lovely time of year for us here.

Linking here

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Well, Look What the Storm Dragged In

We had another storm today but nothing like last week's.  It was really windy and blustery but not all that much snow actually fell.

We had some visitors right after k-ster went out to snowblow.  It's like they know the hunter has left!

It doesn't matter how many times I see them, I just have to take pictures.  They are so fascinating!

It was almost dark and I stood up and caught something out of the corner of my eye.  4 of them were in the yard, really standing out against the snow.  By the time I got to the door on the other side of the house, the whole group of them (9 of them!) were together.

They must have heard me because they got all worked up and started running around and then ran off across the field.  I ran outside without a coat to tape them, so I gave up pretty quickly!

Someone was using the snowblower in the driveway and between the noise and the crazy blowing snow and this crazy videographer, they were out of their minds.

They left some really cool footprints.  Very pterodactyl like!

The blueish light from the snow and dusk really makes it all pretty surreal!
Linking here

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I Just Have One Thing To Say

These are gross.  This is yet another example of what humans will fall for.  With the constant worry about fats in our diets, everyone looks for ways to get around it while enjoying food.  Recently, companies have been making various "veggie" products that trick us into thinking we are eating healthier things.
There are those Snap-Pea Crisps that people think are just freeze dried peas.  They aren't.  They are mostly corn.
There are "apple sticks" at Trader Joe's right now that are mostly corn. 
I knew when I bought these they were not really vegetables that were freeze dried into sticks.  A lot of people think they are tomatoes or spinach just freeze dried au naturel and bagged for our enjoyment.  The first ingredient is potato paste.  The spinach and the tomato are much further down the list and are really just added for color since there's not much taste difference.
But the gross part about these isn't the trickery.  It's the taste.  They are simply gross.  I keep eating them because I see them and think "oh yeah, that is exactly what I was looking for". 
But it's not.
I need to remember not to buy them ever again.
Because they are gross.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sweatshirt Redo For $3.50

I have had this school sweatshirt for a while and I've never liked it.   It's kind of thin but strangely stiff. It's cheap sweatshirt material and nothing to write home about.

I definitely love that it's pink and grey.  But it's a pullover and the neck is just a little too tight to be comfortable.  Plus, after I bought it, I realized that there aren't a lot of opportunities to wear a pull over, hooded sweatshirt as a teacher.

There's also a mysterious stain right on the front pocket and it has never gone away.

I had some divine inspiration and this is what happened:

I cut it up the center.  And then realized there was a funky thing I'd have to deal with at the neck.

I serged the edge to  straighten it out and make it smooth.

I added a zipper and voilà!  It's not the best fitting sweatshirt, no matter how I wear it, but at least now, I can wear it and get away with it for a Friday.

I was really excited to find a grey zipper to match.  This was truly the easiest zipper I've ever put it in my life!   It's a sports zipper, so it's fatter than what you'd put in a dress.  And it was magically just the right length so I didn't even have to worry about it being too long or too short!

And according to k-ster, you "can't even tell it's homemade" which is what I always strive for!

And that stain?  It's pretty much hidden by the seam of the zipper so no one will notice!

So of course, my first thought when I finished was "hmmm,, what other sweatshirts can I do this to?" but it turns out, I don't have hooded sweatshirts!

Linking here and here and here and here and here and  here and here and  here and here and here and   here

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Snowblowers, Snowstorms and Snowdays

Unless you live under a rock, you've surely heard about the "great blizzard of 2013" that we had in the northeast over the weekend.  I recounted the events here and here, complete with pictures in case you've never seen snow before.

Why do we do that?  We always have to take pictures of snow every winter, like there's never been snow in this very spot.  I'm guilty of it too!

Overall, we fared very well.  We were without power the first night for a while and then lost it again for a couple of hours another day.  There are people who went days without power and froze.  We were very lucky.

After the storm, we had a gorgeous, sunny day, that was perfect for clean up.  I decided to go with k-ster to snowblow driveways.  Well, I shoveled and he snowblowed.  As the day went on, I knew would be sore and tired after so much work, but it was so pretty and I had nothing else pressing to do right then.

It was a big relief when we got the call mid day that there would be no school.  That way, I could relax the next day after working so hard.

This was my view for most of the day.

I'd be at one end of a driveway and  k-ster would be at the other.  I was either shoveling walks or trying to open up the edge of the driveway.  He was trying to get through sometimes 2 foot deep drifts and not blow snow back onto the driveway.  Or me :)
At the first few houses, the homeowners came out to  help and at first, I wanted to tell them they didn't need to help since they were paying us but then I realized how long the day would be and I let them shovel themselves silly.
Temperature regulation is my perpetual preoccupation.  We always think it's going to be SO COLD in the winter that we must wear layers and layers of turtlenecks and wool sweaters and fleece and winter jackets.  Riding has taught me that it only takes a little movement to work up enough heat to be fairly comfortable in a lot less clothing than I would have imagined years ago.
My snow pants are warm enough that I don't even wear leggings under them anymore.  My winter coat is so warm that I only wore this tank top underneath it and was still too warm.  I ended up wearing a thin Underarmour type shirt with a vest over it for the day.  Even with that small amount of clothing, I was soaked all day long but definitely not cold!
Looks like I should be tuna fishing in May rather than shoveling in February!  I love these bib snow pants because they never fall down, so I never have to worry about that little piece of my back getting exposed to the cold if my jacket rides up.
It was fun to be out with k-ster all day, knowing I didn't have to go to school the next day and enjoying the very sunny day.  The last house we did was in the dark and the snow had iced over and it was a total beeotch.  I didn't enjoy that one at all. 
And it was nice to know that I don't always have to go with k-ster because he has friends who are always looking to earn a little cash.
The next day, of course, I could not move my arms and I thought my hands were broken.  Holding a shovel all day is hard work!  I thought my legs and back would have felt it a little more, but it was all just in my forearms and hands.
I'll leave you with two gems from that day.  First, after the entire day of working and not eating as much as we should have (in fact, we raided k-ster's mother's house mid day) the following conversation took place:
me:  Where we going now?
k:  I'm  going to drop you at home and meet b-ster so we can do one more house
me:  Oh really?
k:  Yeah, that way you can make supper, I'll go do that and it'll be ready when I get home.

me: ...
If our life was a sitcom, this is where things would have been thrown and swearing and crying would have commenced.  If this were many people, I would have told him where to get off.  If this were most people, this is where the order for takeout would have been place. 
But, we are not most people, and I contemplated what I could make.  I really didn't want crappy takeout food and I knew it would take another hour for him to do that driveway, so I had time to make supper that was real food and good.
The thought of having to shovel out my car to go to the grocery store to get something to cook was enough to make me look at what we had in the house and concoct a really good supper.  I'll have to share that later.  In, retrospect it may not have been that spectacular but we were so hungry, anything would have hit the spot!
The other thing I will leave you with is another picture.  I had gone out to shovel once more during the storm and as I came back, I saw this and thought it was pretty.  The tree was all icy and the snow had drifted just so.  It would have been prettier if the snowflakes were actually finished falling!
Linking here and here

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

This Is Why I Do What I Do

If you come by here often, you're always reading about my thrifty ways and my myriad jobs and ways to earn a buck or two.
Some of you think I'm just super cheap and others think I have a full blown case of ADD, what with my cost cutting measures and mention of this job or that job.  
I don't often share pictures of where I live but after the storm from the weekend, I took these while snowblowing with k-ster. 
So I can live in a place where I walk down the road and see scenes like this. 
That's why I do what I do.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


We had a half day of school Friday as people got worked up over the big blizzard that was predicted for the northeast.  It was supposed to be huge and predicted snowfall amounts went anywhere from 2-4 inches all the way to 10-16inches for just our area alone.

And since it's New England, you have to say blizzard like this:  blizzud or if you're in a hurry, blizzid.

We got out at 11:05 and some of us who normally eat lunch together went to a burrito place that I love.  I kept thinking it was pretty funny that we had to leave school early and yet, here we were, fooling around instead of being locked up tight to hide from the weather.  It had started to snow before we left school, just as predicted,  but it was pretty minor, so I wasn't worried.

I did some errands and got home in the early afternoon.  With my spin class cancelled at the gym, I had a lot of free time to do stuff I haven't been doing.  I always promise I'll do chores that I put off, if only we can have a snow day.  So I did some chores.

By supper time, just as predicted, it was really coming down and there had been a driving ban imposed by the governor.  This put k-ster right over the edge.  We were in jail in our own home.  I didn't care, but I knew it was going to be ridiculously windy, so I worried about losing power.

We were mercifully saved from losing power for more than an hour or two during Hurricane Sandy.  I was pretty concerned that if we lost power this time, we'd be freezing in a matter of hours.  We have every old fireplaces and chimneys that the chimney sweep deemed very unsafe, so no fires for us. 

I can be a pioneer woman in so many ways,  but take away my electricity and I just lose it.  I can't explain.  It doesn't matter the time of year, so it's not just because I worry I will freeze to death.  There's something about knowing that it's not bedtime but I won't have power and I just hate it.

As the lights flickered often on Friday evening, I couldn't really relax, hearing about everyone losing power in neighboring towns.  We didn't actually lose it until we'd gone to bed and it was off for only about 6 hours.

I was so excited to hear that furnace come on!  My sister still doesn't have power, 48 hours  later, as I write this and she's only a couple of towns away.   But she has a generator and a fireplace, so I know she isn't freezing.

So, I got up Saturday morning to this view.

If you read all of the Little House on the Prairie series like I did, you always marveled at those tough winters and how they would say that the snow was so high, you had to go upstairs to see out.  When I got up and saw this, I was sure it would mean that just like Pa, I would have to string a clothesline out to the barn so I could find my way in this terrible storm and have something to hold onto.  I was living out a scene from one of those books!
In reality, it was just a very frosty window.  We had crazy drifts and it's unclear just how much actual snow we got, but it certainly wasn't 2nd floor window height!

I spent a good deal of Friday evening and Saturday during the day shoveling my doors and the walk and front door of my parents' house.  I have found that "keeping up with the storm" is very useful so I don't have to lift 2 feet of snow as I shovel.
However, it was so windy, up to 83mph at times, it just kept blowing back, so it was the most useless use of my time.  Ever. 
My usual modeling spot was overtaken by this huge drift, so I had to go with my second favorite place.

As can be expected, I brought sexy to the snowstorm by getting all gussied up.  I actually have my foot on the firepit, not just hanging in midair, but it was so windy, my camera blew off the grill twice while I was doing this, so I have no idea what was going on in this picture.  It looks like I lost my left foot but it was on top of the frozen snow.  And now that I look, it looks like the snow is a mile high. 

Maybe I was a mile high.

The first part of the storm was extremely wet and heavy followed by those tiny little flakes that are really powdery.  This meant that it was easy to start shoveling until you got to the frozen stuff.  It also meant that things froze shut.
Like the door.  I got out one door just fine, but when I went to go back in, some of the snow had melted around the handle and I couldn't push it in to open the door.  I went around to another door and it was so frozen solid to the frame, I couldn't open it. 
So I was stuck, trapped OUTSIDE of my house.
I finally managed to open the first door I tried, though later, that completely ripped off the house, but that's another story for another day.  Once I got inside, I pushed on the other door while k-ster pulled.
And then I pulled out my female McGyver tools and got to work melting that beeotch so we could get in and out without an issue!
And then I spent the next day shoveling snow while k-ster snowblowed.  Definitely some blogfodder there, so come on back!

Friday, February 8, 2013

What Weekend Eating Means

I remember reading one time that Mary Lou Retton eats like a normal, controlled person every day, but allows herself to have a crappy eating day once a week.

If you don't know who Mary Lou Retton is then you are too young to be on my blog and I'm going to tell your mother.  Now run along and play with your Bratz doll or whatever is en vogue right now.  I'm serious.  Go on.

Anyway, once a week, Mary Lou Retton allows herself to have something "bad for you" and she feels no guilt.

I think this must be my diet of late.

On a normal school day, you will see me eat things like this:

Or this:
Ok, not the cat food, but you get the idea.  And I eat well religiously.  I have people fooled into believing I don't even know what bad food is and then when I bring a piece of cake or a brownie they lose their minds.  I kind of feel bad letting them down like that. 
But that cake just tastes so damned good.
I even behave on weeknights, when all I really want is to eat a bag of chocolate.
The weekends come, and it's a whole different story.  All I want is:
If you don't know about Cape Cod Creamery's Cummaquid Coconut ice cream, I am very sorry for you.  It's a tragedy, really.  This is truly my favorite ice cream, ever. 
And Cummaquid sounds just like you think it does.  It's a town.  All of the Cape Cod Creamery flavors reflect different towns.
I suspect that the reason I eat total crapola on the weekends because I ingest a lot of this:

What MaryLou said is one day of bad eating becomes 2 days for me.  And only during the winter.   I think I'll call it the sparkling74 plan.

During the school day, I must eat by 10am, noon, 2pm and 4pm or I bite people. 
On the weekends, I eat breakfast and then it's vague until supper.  I usually ride, which makes me want to get an iced coffee on the way home and then it's like 1pm and I'm ready to do EVERYTHING because I've  had some caffeine on top of exercise induced endorphins, so I never get around to eat lunch, per se.
Instead, I don't object to eating things I would never even consider eating during the regular week.  Chinese food?  Sure.  Go out to dinner?  Ok.  Nachos?  You don't have to twist my arm.
By Sunday evening, I usually have my act together by Sunday night, thank God. 
Anyone else find themselves in 24 hours of totally inappropriate eating on weekends?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Not Unless It Was My....Ball Joints

It's like the universe knew that Finding the Funny's once a month event was happening today and I would need some blogfodder.  Because surely, this was a set up.

We have a very nice administrator in our building who is foreign and rather grandfatherly.  I get a kick out of him and enjoy listening to him, as I do most people who speak English with an accent.  The kids don't always understand him and I've heard my share of "what the eff is that guy saying??"

Today, I heard the cheep cheep of a cell phone getting a text, a total taboo during class.  We all froze to see who would dare leave their phone volume up loud enough for us to hear.  Just as I was about to make a remark, the admin walked by and this was the conversation we had (you must read his lines with a very Inspector Clousseau like accent):

Mr. X, was that you?

He backs up, walks to my door.

We heard a little squeaking sound just now, was that you?

....No.... well, not unless it was my..... ball joints?  They are a little stiff and squeaky.

My students are 14 years old.  All they heard was BALL.  If you could have seen their faces....

I could not shoo him away fast enough.  And then because it was so strangely uncomfortable, I felt like I had to explain what a ball joint is.  So I asked:

Do you know what a ball joint is?

The kids who were already on the floor in  horror that he had said BALL were now doubled over and heaving because now I'm saying BALL too.

And then, I thought I'd demonstrate a ball joint with my hands, you know, like the hip, and how the ball goes in the socket....

This is why I don't teach health.

And then I said:

Ok, are we clear now?  Cuz I saw your faces when he said that....

That was it.  They didn't know whether to scream in hysterics or run away crying.  I was just rubbing salt in the wound. 

They simply came to learn French and then had to get an anatomy lesson and all the adults kept saying BALL JOINT and it was just wild.

And it only got better when, 10 minutes later, he walked by the door and said :

Are you hearing them now?  My ball joints are feeling better....

Linking here and here and here and here

Saturday, February 2, 2013

This Is A Boy Fest

A friend of mine just had a baby boy, so I made another tractor quilt.  I think I like sewing better in the summer.  This one seemed to take me 100 years and was kind of hanging over my head. 

I also insisted on doing the quilt as you go method AGAIN and I'm still not happy  with it, as I'll explain.

I like to do applique because it allows for more fun baby like things on the quilt.  Traditional quilting is also nice, but for babies, I like to put things for them to look at. 

For a long time, I did fish quilts:

But I got kind of tired of them because they take a lot of different fabrics and it's a lot of cutting and ironing.  This was one of my most favorite quilts that I ever have done.  I think the multi colored sashing between is what seals the deal for me on this one.
I think I'm just about tired of tractors too.
So, if you don't really care about sewing or what went into this, I'll show you the finished product and then you can go on your merry way.  Otherwise, keep reading and I'll show why I still don't like quilt as you go.

When it comes to baby quilts, I like bright colors.  Most parents don't use them in cribs anymore anyway, so they are great for putting on the floor for tummy time and then as they get older, for naps and stuff.

I eliminated one of the tractors that I used in the first quilt because it was cute and rounded but didn't really fit with the style of the other trucks and tractors here. 

This is such a boy quilt, isn't it??

Because I was doing the quilt as you go method, I didn't have to use the same backing for each square.  I thought it would be fun to do rainbow colors on the back. 
You can also see some of the quilting that I did.
Ok, so farewell to you if you're not interested in the details and feel free to leave a comment!

Now, down to business. 

I love the concept of quilt as you go:  you can quilt your individual squares without having to wrestle the whole quilt through your machine at once.  And I have tried the wrestle your whole quilt at once method and wrestle doesn't even begin to describe the torture that ensues.  I don't know how people do it.  I practically climbed inside my machine to make it work and it still came out like crap.

My mother had a Handiquilter quilting system for a while, but I never liked the way it worked. I very successfully quilted several large quilts with it, but I swore the entire time that there had to be a better way and I never liked using it.  Eventually, I lost the battle and let her sell it.

The alternatives to using the quilt as you go method or trying to quilt your whole quilt on your regular sewing machine are to either tie it or send it to be professionally quilted.

For years, I tied every quilt that I made.  It's more homemade looking and certainly simpler than quilting, and it gets the job done.  I didn't screw that method up too often.   But I like the idea of doing fun quilting patterns, so this is why I started trying to find ways to quilt.

I just can't stomach paying someone a lot of money to quilt a quilt I sewed and will be giving away.  I feel like I should be able to do it myself or not have it done.  Or maybe I'm too cheap.

Oh of course, there is another way.  Hand quilting.  The old fashioned way. True quilters would probably tell you that is the only way you can call it a "quilt".  These are the same women who sit around reenacting the minutmen and militia, I bet.  But I am not about to sit down and go all Betsy Ross and start quilting by the fire each night.

So, back to quilt as you go.

The first time I did it, I had a blast with each square.  Then I went to put the squares together and realized there were all these ends to deal with and lots of lumps and bumps.  I wasn't sure how to sew it together without making a total mess.  So I ended up handsewing a lot of it as you can see by the pins here:

I also realize as I look at it now that I put sashing between each square on the back and front of that one.  I quilted it separately from the squares.  It allowed for more fun quilting, but really made putting it together a nightmare.
So, just like with the Handiquilter, I  kept saying there really has to be a better way.
This time, I watched a few more youtube videos.  Things started to make a lot more sense.  I didn't do sashing between the back squares, just on the front.  That meant that my back material was as large as the front square plus the sashing.   Much easier to deal with.
I stitched in the ditch around each square, where the sashing met the white square on the front.  You can see on the back here, there's a nice frame around each tractor.

I was happy with that part.
The part I wasn't happy about was this:
I still had to do way too much overlapping and folding and finagling to make it come together.  On the front, I sewed in the ditch where the square came together.  You can see on the back how it looks.  It makes for a folded edge which I really don't like at all.
So still, I say there has to be a better way.
Now, at the time, I forgot that some of the quilt as you go videos suggest using a decorative stitch when putting the squares together so it's not so obvious that there is a fold on the back.  This would actually also help it to lay flatter.  I did a large wavy stitch once with something that I did and I bet that would work well.
I also should not have used different colors on the back.  If this was all the same fabric, especially in a busy print, it would probably not be so obvious.  I would also use matching thread.  That was impossible with my rainbow theme once I started putting the rows together.
What I want is perfection and what I get is my lack of precision and that's what drives me crazy.  Most people wouldn't care or notice but it drives me crazy. 
And my mother is wringing her hands right now, wishing she could just undo one thing and redo it so it would be just right.   I wonder where I get it....
I wish I was so precise that I could sew on the top and have the EXACT same straight line on the back, but there are more variables than I want to deal with, so the result is what you see above!
Now she's shaking her head, mumbling that I just don't have enough patience.
I don't think I've given up on quilt as you go quite yet. I think I will try one more with a busy print on the back and the wavy stitch I mentioned.  If that's not satisfactory, then it's back to tieing quilts again.
I was also very lazy with the quilting of this one.  I outlined some of the vehicles but other parts were more difficult than I felt like dealing with.  I did make every tire have this little stitch, and I really think that looks cute.
I love the material I used for the tires.  Black can be so hard to use when quilting and I thought this was just perfect.  Not too much and the dots make it look tire like to me.
My all time favorite part of this and each of the tractor quilts that I made is definitely this tractor.

I love it in every color, but especially in red.  I noticed on another tractor quilt, I quilted little puffs of smoke coming out of the smokestack but I was in too much of a hurry to bother this time.  I also changed the roof to match the tractor body, which I did not do in the first one.  I can't decide which I like better.
So, the moral of this story is that I will make another quilt in the quilt as you go style and see if I can finally nail it. 
Linking up here  and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here