Sunday, September 22, 2013

Why I am Not a Food Blogger

My mom gave me subscriptions to Better Homes & Gardens as well as Southern Living last Christmas. Surprisingly I actually read a fair amount of these magazines (usually I just look at the pretty pictures). I have a Pinterest account with my own personal board of re-pinned recipes from other pinners. I am also a member of a board where the owner posts fabulous-looking food and treats. Really she's only posted 1 or 2 things that I didn't immediately want to try.

Sometime this summer I got the harebrained idea that I would cook dinner once a week with a recipe I had found somewhere. I mean, why pin all those things if I'm not going to use it? So I started reading the recipes everywhere and picking favorites. And adding to Iggy's shopping list. (Iggy does all our cooking. On my nights we order out.)

My first attempt was a flatbread pizza with brie as the cheese and some salad greens and dressing on top. It was almost ok. Undeterred, I tried green bean, apple and bacon sandwiches. I guess because the green beans are unusual they list them first in the title...but they also have bacon. The bacon is the most important ingredient (although I guess the green beans make them sound healthy). They've actually made into the "repeat" category - I have made them twice!

But then, for some reason, that was the end of my dinner contributions. (Stop while you're ahead?)

Fortunately I had another brilliant idea. We have family coming for the holidays in December. I could try out several recipes now and pick a few to make for them. But this time I'd rather bake. I actually like baking but have never gotten into cooking. So maybe this was a better fit. Plus I decided that I would do my baking while Iggy was watching football on Sundays. Then we're practically in the same room and it's just about like quality time, right?

So I spent a couple evenings scouring magazines and Pinterest again. I narrowed my list down to 11 things. So I decided to let Iggy pick the first one. He chose dark chocolate raspberry banana bread. Or maybe the 2 really brown bananas in our fruit bowl chose that for us. Either way, you should really, really try that one. We ate it all.

The next weekend I was more ambitious because the banana bread didn't really take as long as the football did. I picked 3 recipes. Here's how that went:

1. Pondered what order do things in for so long that the 1st quarter ends and all you have is a pile of ingredients on the counter.
2. Make the batter for Corona Cupcakes.
3. When those are in the oven, wash everything you used.
4. Start Cream Cheese Pumpkin Spice Bread.
5. Take cupcakes out of oven. Put bread in.
6. Wash everything again.
7. Make frosting for cupcakes but decide you don't feel like measuring anything anymore.
8. Frosting turns out runny. Be sad for a little bit, but then eat some. It's still pretty good.
9. Have the brilliant idea to put wax paper below the cupcakes then frost cupcakes as much as possible.
10. Football ends. You're not done yet.
11. Share leftover icing with dog.
12. Take bread out of oven.
13. Wash everything again again.
14. Realize sharing frosting with the dog was not brilliant.
15. Walk dog so that some of that sugar high is used up without destroying additional household items.

Anyways. I can't get the hang of cooking. My timing at baking is questionable. And I never remember to take pictures. I just eat the stuff. So, much as I like reading blogs about food and looking at pictures of food and eating, I don't think I will ever be a food blogger.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Progress (or Be Careful What You Wish For)

I have never worked so hard to socialize a dog before.  The puppy we adopted in November last year was terrified of everything.  Now Indigo doesn't see any reason not to jump on everything that moves to see if it wants to play.  Progress, right?  (We are trying to teach her not to jump on people...)

We took Indigo to puppy classes. The first day I had to carry her into the store and then she barely moved from between Iggy's feet. About halfway through class she decided she might like to play with the other pupil, Brutus, a Mastiff-Bulldog mix only 6 weeks old. He lived with 2 other dogs and was certainly interested in saying hi. By the end of class Indie had developed what I like to call the Rob Blake Hip Check - a move where she nuzzles alongside Brutus, then whips around in a circle and smacks him with her butt. That first week Brutus would go sprawling. By the last week she was tugging at her leash to get into the store and greet everyone -- and her little hip checks into Brutus (who by then outweighed her by 20 lbs) only sent her sprawling.
I used to walk her and Radar at lunchtime.  
But after Radar went to doggie heaven in February (miss you, big dog!), the little dog spent most of our lunchtime walks trying to stay between my feet as we walked, presumably for protection. It's a scary world without your protector. Eventually she got to where she'd once again walk at the end of the leash instead of tripping me constantly. Then a bike might ride by as it got to be springtime and she was pulling at the leash in the other direction trying to get away. A few walks later she was barking at them like, "get off my path!" Eventually she got used to the bikes whizzing past us and they barely warrant a playful lunge. Until the day we came across a bike some kid had left on the path while they went to explore the river. What the hell was that? A bike without a rider? That certainly warranted the ears going back, the tail between the legs, all the hair on her spine pointing up like a mohawk, slinking up at an angle so as to have a better escape route and a growl meant to be menacing!
Once the 90-degree-days got here our lunchtime walks got shorter until I had the brilliant idea that I could walk her before work. That light bulb went off for me on a Wednesday night. So Thursday and Friday I got up a little earlier and we went for our walk in the morning. On Saturday I was all set to sleep in (yay!) except that around 5:30am *someone* thought they might sit on my feet because, hey, don't we walk every morning at 5:30 am?!? (You know how it takes 30 days for humans to form a habit? I guess with dogs it takes 2...)
About the only area we haven't made progress is with barking at the boys next door when they're playing in the back yard, barking at people on the barkpath that goes by our back yard (you might call that a bike path, but not if you lived here) and eating TV remotes. We've ordered so many replacement remotes that Amazon probably thinks we run a resale business. We humans can't seem to learn the habit of putting the remotes up on the highest shelf when we leave the house. 

Anyways, happy 1st birthday to Indigo!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Train Wreck I can't Stop Watching

Anyone else out there watch Game of Thrones? I seem to hear a lot about it, but I rarely watch shows on premium channels because I'm not used to having them.

We recently switched from cable to satellite because our cable company told us something different every time we called for help during our move ("yes you can have cable a both places" then "no, as soon as you activated at your new how we cut off your old house" and "yes it's a free self install" then later a bill for $119? for new service installation). We got tired of the half-truths and just opted to switch to an new company. I sure that won't be headache free either, but it seems we are addicted to TV so we've got to have some fix.

When I was single I just used whatever that thing is were shows already aired are automatically saved -- it's one network, I think, but it's the one with all the forensic shows. So on my weekend binge of a couple glasses of wine, pizza and an evening of TV I would go out and watch one series all the way through -- whatever 4 or 5 shows had accumulated since I last watched. One weekend it was CSI:Miami, another was CSI:NY, the next Numb3rs, etc. And sometimes Becca and I would swap DVDs for other shows like Bones. I liked it because you could watch a whole series in a row and see the storyline unfold without the annoying weeklong lapse between them. Like reading a couple of chapters in a book but in a passive, more visual way. But about the time I moved in with Iggy, I had basically caught up on all the DVDs and they'd replaced my favorite character on CSI:NY and CSI:Miami seemed like all bikinis and soap opera drama so I was looking for new distractions.

Iggy and I have established a routine of recording shows and watching them as a "wind-down" in the evening. I switched to some of the comedies he likes (Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother) and probably eliminated from his list the shows I didn't feel like getting caught up on (Weeds or Entourage). At any rate we both have a couple of shows that we don't watch together but for the most part we have some joint shows we watch in the evenings. Summer is a slow time for shows I have come to realize. I have been sucked into the reality show vortex, much to my chagrin, and we watch Big Brother. Sometimes I will consent to watching cooking reality shows but mostly I hate the yelling and I get sad when they send home someone I am rooting for, so I mostly avoid them. I love Storage Wars and Pawn Stars, but they're a little formulaic, I guess, because I feel like I've seen the episode even when I know we're watching a new one.

Which brings me back to Game of Thrones. I had been hearing about it and was starting to feel a little left out. We discovered that we can see season 1 from the equivalent of "on demand" for satellite. So we watched the first one and I was hooked on the storyline. But 2 beheadings and a couple battles where guts spill out all over the place and what seemed like an excessive amount of sex even for an adult cable show that's not a porn network had me wondering if I was cut out to watch this show. And also wondering what the script looks like...during the "wedding scene" does it say "Man 1 engages in gratuitous but very fake fucking from behind with Woman A. Man 2 pulls him away and takes over, while Man 1 pretends to reel from the force before..."? And who do you write the choreography for both fighting/fucking?

Anyways...I kept thinking about the story. I was bummed that the 10-year-old boy probably died, wondered if, by some Hollywood miracle, he survived, wondered if his family figured out he was pushed out the window instead of falling. I wasn't quite sure I understood the blond woman/man (not the white-haired brother/sister). I thought they were brother/sister but then they get caught ... getting it on (I've probably over-used the other word). And I thought she was the queen...of the one guy who asked Ned to be his right hand man. I can't remember half the names yet and I would probably have a hard time spelling them anyways. Iggy and I were talking about the plot and he'd read a plot summary somewhere - turns out the blond chick is the queen and she is having an affair with her brother. Which is good, I guess, because it means I wasn't quite as befuddled as I thought I was. The summary also said they were twins -- oh, ok, good to know, and I probably did miss that clue during the show.

So I decided I'd give the show one more try. Season 1, Episode 2 didn't have as much of the beheadings/gut-spilling/fucking but at the end they have to kill an innocent and very cute dog. So I'm sitting there with tears streaming down my face thinking of the irony that cable networks will show humans being gutted and beheaded but won't show them stabbing a dog to kill it. I don't really understand that. But the episode did clear up a few things and we turned on the closed captioning so I can start to remember names.

Episode 3 was even milder -- did anyone even die? I don't remember...

But the plot continues to captivate me, so I guess I'm hooked now, for better or for worse. I don't really understand my attraction to the show just yet but at least it really does live up to the hype (so far) of being captivating. I feel a little guilty for spending my time thinking (and blogging) about it. Most of my other shows, I just watch and as soon as they're over I am done thinking about them.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Search Engine Serendipity

In a strange piece of serendipity I found an old mystery book online while searching for a painting I saw on pinterest where the link was broken. I forgot what words I was using. At any rate, the words "yellow dress" we're a part of my search.

The book had a yellow dress on the cover, but it wasn't prominently featured. The story does pivot around a murder victim found without her dress on - and later you find out that it was a bright yellow dress. So I am a little amazed and intrigued by how the book came up and how the search engines work. Not probably enough to do any research, but the thought did cross my mind. I used to know some of that stuff when I worked closer to web development and web content.

The book is written in the late 1950's and several "time period" things amused me.

One was when the lead detective/narrator is thinking about possible suspects for the murder. He goes through each in turn listing the listing the pros and cons. For one he mentions the irony of this person and that it would be comparable to a cheap dime novel from the discount store. I had to go look at the cover for the price of this novel. I know you are scrolling up to see the cover again now! I was pleased to see how high my standards apparently would've been 50 years ago.

Another thing that got me thinking was this passage:
Justice and vengeance were no longer the motivations of this manhunt. The women who had yesterday scolded their men, "Al, [or Ray, or Joe,] if you think you're going out chasing into that swamp half the night for that lunatic you've got another think coming. Let the Sheriff get him. He's paid to do it," would now be silent in the face of yet another killing. The men would, most of them, not even have consulted their women. They would have quietly listened to the news broadcasts and as quietly gone to the closets or the attics for whatever weapon they happened to own. The women would have understood that this was, after all, a man's world and that men must band together for the defense of their homes and their women...

Is this hopelessly out of date because of the social norms back then? Or are we just too blasé today to actually care enough to help out? The recent "movie theater massacre" and the outpouring of sympathy, visits by celebrities, foundations, donations, etc. lead me to think it isn't the latter. But it is hard for me to be objective about this since it is my hometown currently and, while we are always one degree away from personally knowing someone, we have been to that theater and Iggy's work is close to it.

The other thing that was continually fun about reading this book was the old library smell it had. It is a slim book (less than 200 pages, but I actually mean it is small in size since it was slightly bigger than a 3x5 photo and about as thin as my iPad). But the smell never went away in the 3 months I've had the book or the week it took me to read it. I wonder when they will have smell-o-vision (I already have a 3d tv so at least smell-o-vision movies can't be far off) or smell-enhanced e-books.

I did find the painting I was looking for, by the way, but it wasn't anything I saved or thought about buying. But I did enjoy reading the old book I did end up buying. And I look forward to my next Search Engine Serendipity.

Mixed Emotions

My mom waited until 6:45am to call me on the Friday after the shootings at the Aurora movie theater. Oddly, I was already up and working, but I hadn't opened a web browser to see the news yet, so I had no idea what she was talking about. After I did read the story I was amazed at her restraint for not calling the minute she heard (I will always be "her little girl," I suppose). During that day several of my coworkers (who are all over the country, but not in Colorado) IM'ed or emailed to see if I was ok, which was cool. I tried to not obsessively check news updates or Facebook, but it was hard not to look at Facebook especially. I felt relief each time I saw someone post that they weren't at the theater. Mostly I was probably just like everyone else: numb, shocked, confused, outraged and sad.

I had to fly out Monday after for work and I had mixed feelings about that. On the one hand it turned out that my friends most likely to be at the midnight release of batman were all at other theaters and we didn't personally know anyone there. So there was no reason that I couldn't go. But Iggy's work is close to the theater and a large portion of the people he comes into contact with regularly at work could've been directly affected. I didn't really think he would need emotional support after his first day back at work but I also really just wanted to be at home with him. Not for him, but for me.

I wasn't sure what to expect from my client or my coworkers while on-site that week since they all know where I live. The client was silent. I am not sure if this was out of respect or because they didn't make the association or if they only recognize drama directly involving themselves. My coworkers all asked quietly, unobtrusively, on their own, and at different times about it. When talk would come up about the movie I would have a slightly jarring hiccuping in my emotions but hopefully it wasn't apparent to others. I am trying not to have the association with the movie or the theater itself.

I wonder if the theater can successfully reopen or how businesses at the mall will be impacted over time. I have mixed emotions about seeing the movie (I want to, but I don't want to, and I don't think I would enjoy it at the theater now, but then I feel like maybe I should force myself just so I get over any issue I have).

One of the days I was on-site I saw this ad in USA Today at the hotel.

I was shocked, probably a little angry at first, but almost as immediately was glad for free speech giving these people the right to print the ad, and the paper having no reason to censure it. Then maybe a little guilty because these people have certainly fallen off my radar as I know, eventually, even the ones in my hometown will. And that makes me sad too.

Last week, on vacation, when asked where we are from, Iggy and I say, "Denver" out of habit. (Everyone assumes Denver, Colorado, but it used to be that people either didn't recognize Aurora as being in Colorado or first thought of an Aurora in another state first. So it was always easier to go with the name recognition and the habit formed.) This had the nice side effect of allowing whoever was asking to bring up the Aurora incident if they wanted to or not. By this time I am less sensitive to the conversation. And probably about half the people think of (or mention) the fires this summer in Colorado first.

I am glad the Olympics are on this week to take some of the focus away from negative events and give us something to collectively get behind. But then I wonder if this is already making the victims feels forgotten. I am still seeing news stories about the suspect or gun control laws using that as a springboard, and while I have a need to know more in hopes of eventually gaining some understanding, I fear the media making too much of the negative pieces of this story.

No answers, just lots of questions. Let me know what you think.