Monday, November 30, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XXX: Made it! - 30 days and 6 months

Today is the final day of NaBloPoMo: National Blog Posting Month, and I survived posting every single day in November! Yay! And here are the badges to prove it:

And here are some previous years' participant badges that are entertaining:


Happy 6 month Anniversary, Hubby!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XXVIV: Prop 8

A change from my recent posts, to a serious legal/political issue on my mind:

Prop 8, or the California Marriage Protection Act, is being challenged in federal court in January and could have nation-wide consequences.

My personal view? Legalize marriages between people of the same gender. If a church or religious organization is not comfortable with that, don't make them perform the ceremony, but allow other churches and civil authorities to proceed. This may open those objecting organizations to discrimination suits, but I believe it is their right to object, just as it is gay peoples' right to get married. 

Simple enough, right? Why can't we all just get along!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XXVIII: Makin' a List...

'Tis high holy shopping season, and it has me thinking about what items I put on my list, and what I want my gifts to others to say about me.

Most of the items I actually put on the list I sent to family were either tools or kitchen-related. I did some research on each and included links and some prices. I tried for Made in USA and eco-friendly whenever possible. The tools I use to make our house more a home, and the kitchen is the heart of the home. After doing some volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, I realized that my toolbox (still need one of those!) is missing a few key items.

The items I am getting/making for others are reflecting price shopping and usability instead of the sustainability and US craftsmanship I strive towards. Maybe next year when the budget isn't already stretched. Sorry I can't be more specific, but you never know who is reading!

Finally, here are my pie-in-the-sky wish list items that didn't make it on the Christmas list:
-Upgrade of my Bernina Embroidery Software
-Sooner-rather-than-later: Replace crumbling front porch stairs for safety reasons, and replace walkway to sidewalk and add walkway to driveway (so I stop slipping down the lawn when I go to my car)
-Rotating compost bin, because it would be very useful for yard stuff and kitchen waste (elevated, so that none of those wiggly things I am phobic about can invade)
-A new flat TV, in the 42 to 50" range and hopefully energy efficient
-A console table to put said TV upon, along with places for all of the peripherals
-Sooner-rather-than-later: New windows on the main floor of the house (currently original 1920's with later ugly aluminum storm windows, all of which leak like sieves)
-A second rain barrel, to go in the front of the house for watering plants so decorative this time

-The kitchen stuff has its own list:

  +cabinets that are not white & so show every speck of anything spilled
  +oven that is big enough to fit a half sheet pan - really became obvious when Thanksgiving   dinner was 2 hours late, 'cause I couldn't fit enough stuff in
  +range that heats more evenly than the old electric one, and is easier to keep clean
more pantry room
  +no more holy sheet vinyl or linoleum or whatever that atrocity is -bamboo or cork, please!
  +quartz or concrete (with recycled glass) counter tops, as the current laminate stains too easy and the cracks are ugly and dirty, no matter how I scrub
  +tile backsplash instead of the cutesy wallpaper
  +Dishwasher that doesn't leak out the sides and will fit the larger dishes

-Our triangle-shaped Jacuzzi tub was a big selling point of the house, but I wish it were a bit smaller, so would not use the entire water heater supply when it is cold, saving natural gas and water usage
-A mp3 player hookup in my car. Maybe I need to take a look at the Ford Fusion Hybrid...

Friday, November 27, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XXVII: T-day dinner plus 27 hours & still recovering

Didn't do much today. Brain still recovering from the L. Tryptophan and  body still recovering from cooking and cleaning all day yesterday. I did a bit of Black Friday shopping...from right here at my computer. I am not determined (ahem-crazy) enough to brave the crowds today. My frustration level and hurting body could not cope with that. 
So instead I read, surfed the internet, communicated with some family, took a bath, and watched the boob tube. Specifically, Dirty Jobs (and one of my TV boyfriends, Mike Rowe.) He ended the episode "Safety Third" (about individual responsibility in a dangerous world) with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt to his son:

The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XXVI: T-day dinner plus 3 hours

Family just left, one more load of dishes to wash, but I'm getting a bath first. As soon as the hot water heater fills again.

Too tired for much else. Everything turned out great, though had to do a last minute brussel sprout substitute for green beans that went fuzzy. Gonna go put my feet up and start mentally composing tomorrow's post. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XXV: T-day dinner minus 16.5 hours

The turkey is in the brine!

Anybody that has attended a major event with me knows that I make lists and try to prepare for any disruptions with a contingency plan. T-day is no different. I spent the last hour calculating how much prep and execution time each step of each recipe required. Then I lined them up to make the best use of time. Now I am off to bed, because I actually have to set alarm and get up earlier than usual tomorrow. Amazing how your body clock resets when you are unemployed!

Bread crumbs for stuffing becoming croutons?


Starting with the pan, clockwise: sausage drippings for the roux, stuffing wet stuff, eggs for stuffing, dough for apple tartlets,  giblets, butt & neck, freshly squeezed lemon juice, kitty food from stock discards, dinner rolls, butter rub for turkey, stock?


Temporary prep table with cat-safe foods (like veggies), roasting pan and v-rack ready & waiting, salad spinner for cleaning veggies, pile of fruits, apron?

Ready and waiting for me in 9 hours. 
Off to bed now, but first a soak in a tub brimming with salts and aromatics...ummm...gobble gobble!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XXIV: T-day minus 2 days

Turkey stock: check

Homemade dinner rolls: in the fridge for a long 1 1/2 day rise

Rustic Apple Tartlets: crust is ready to roll out and be topped & baked

a) sausage is browned, celery, onions, carrots & apples are sauteed, pan was deglazed with sherry and is now in the fridge
b) challah and hearty white bread cubed and drying in no-heat oven

Groceries: all purchased

Flowers: lovely!

House: was pretty clean, but items 1-5 above have made it a mess once again! Off to soak in tub with good book (Bite Marks, a Jaz Parks novel by Jennifer Rardin) and candles, then to bed. Night, night!

Monday, November 23, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XXIII: Thanksgiving Day Menu

Appetizers - Cousin Rachelle is taking care of this, and no clue!

Cocktails - I have Asti and sparkling grape juice to be poured over fresh pomegranates & cranberry-pomegranate juice.

Turkey - pick up on Wednesday from Seibert Meats in Soulard. Brine overnight, then get up early to rinse, pat dry and air dry in the fridge before heading into the oven - makes a nice crisp crust and moist meat. Only a 12-14 pound bird, as it will be me & hubby, Ma & Pa, Aunt Jan, Cousin Rachelle & her boyfriend Kris. We have room for one more at the table, if anybody is hungry. We could also set up a kiddie table if a bunch of you are interested.

Gravy - I started a turkey neck (from Souldard) & veggie stock, now in the fridge, ready for makin' gravy! Will make a roux and generally follow Cooks Illustrated instructions (hereafter known as CI.)

Sausage & Apple Stuffing - an amalgamation of my MIL's recipe, my best friend's mother's recipe, and CI.

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes - This version is less fat than the classic mashed 'taters. Last time I made it to go with Christmas Prime Rib and included leeks. Credit: CI

Roasted Sweet Potatoes - I've been making single servings of this by peeling the sweet potato, cutting into 1/2" dice, tossing with EVOO, kosher salt & fresh cracked black pepper and roasting until the edges are Carmelina. Drizzle just the slightest bit of real maple syrup, and you have a wonderful alternative to the version that is mashed & smothered with marshmallow goo.

Sauteed Green Beans with garlic & herbs - a lighter alternative to the traditional green bean casserole (which I personally can't stand, even though I was raised Lutheran!) Credit: CI

Dinner Rolls - one component that is actually better prepared ahead and stored in the fridge. I'll take them out in the morning to let rise 6-8 hours, then pop in the oven for that wonderful yeasty aroma. Credit: CI.

Cranberry Relish - Mum is taking care of this one, from a recipe she begged off of ??? (completely slipped my mind at the moment.) I will have a can of the gloppy stuff on standby, if anybody insists.

Pumpkin Cheesecake - Cuz Rachelle is preparing this one, and I am very excited, as I came close to choosing to make it myself!

Rustic Apple Tartlets - Another CI recipe I have used in the past, to great success. I starting the crust this evening, as it will keep, wrapped well, in the fridge for a few days.

Whipped Cream with a hint of orange zest - To top the tartlets (or the cheesecake, or coffee)

Decaf Coffee - my favorite coffee place, Foundation Grounds in Maplewood, carries Goshen Coffee Company - 100% organic and sustainable farmed. Current favorite: Venezuelan.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XXII: Supervillains vs.Vampires!

My fingers are already casualties of Thanksgiving dinner prep (a couple of small burns, no amputated fingers or bleeding far!) so I bring to you my argument why supervillains are so much cooler than vampires: Dr. Horrible. He looks like the guy that sat next to you in science class that was good enough to copy off of, knows how to do his own laundry and the songs are very catchy. Vampires? Blood, coffins and they're never around in the daytime. Now go!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XXI: Farmers' markets

I woke this morning determined to hit the local farmers' market to try and find purveyors of local and/or organic produce.

After filling up my travel mug with coffee from Foundation Grounds in Maplewood ( I was waylaid and had to try a new baked goodie: Blueberry & Lavender cheesecake -- yum!) I walked down the street to :

Maplewood Farmers' Market at Schlafly Bottleworks. I got some yummy locally grown granny smith apples and some sweet looking sweet potatoes (they had real dirt on them!) but I think I overpaid. I had lots more on my list, so headed to:

Kirkwood Farmers' Market had very little, as they kicked off their Chrismas Market & Holiday Walk.

<-- So instead of this

It was this -->

And this:

So I finally headed to Historic Soulard Market and struck gold. First, I found parking within a block. Next I walked through most of it, scouting prices and availability. 

I picked out 3 calla lily blooms and 6 spikey red/green things and a bunch of small white/red flowers. Of course I asked the names of each, but promptly forgot them.

All of the fruit & veggies for Thanksgiving dinner are purchased. I found fresh pork sausage for the stuffing and turkey necks for a stock I will start tomorrow. 

My turkey dilemma is solved! I ordered a 12-14 pounder from a poultry booth who gets them from a farmer in Illinois. I will pick up on Wednesday, then prep and start the brining.

All I have left are a few things from the grocery store, and then --oh yeah-- all the cooking and prepping!

Friday, November 20, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XX: Gobble, gobble


Let's talk turkey.

The last (and only time) I cooked at turkey, I think I had a national brand mammoth. I have no great memories of it, but no horror stories, either.  Thanksgiving for my side of the family is at my house this year, and I have been contemplating the poultry. I would love to find a fresh turkey from a local farm, but that is looking unlikely at this late point. But at $3+ per pound, can I really justify it versus a 57¢ per pound conglomerate-grown hen?

I've been doing a bit of research, and have found places that offer "heritage" turkeys that are closer to wild than the lab-modified triple-D cup turkeys that are available at the major grocery stores. (See, Dave - I did work boobies into the conversation, though anybody that knows me know that I scoff at a DDD being considered large!) 

I have a $1.99/pound turkey reserved from Baumann's Fine Meats, but I have been told that it is an Arkansas bird, and not particularly heritage or free-range, or anything special. Should I just pick up the cheapy at Schnucks? Shoudl I spend $2.99/pound for the free-range one from Whole Foods?

Maybe I should just give up at cook a nice ham, as I don't even really like turkey!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XIX: Windows are the eyes of the home


So, does anybody in STL have recommendations on where to get good replacement windows for a 1920's brick bungalow? Preferably a company with good customer service & prices?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XVIII: Utilikilts are stalking me

Utilikilts are following me. Averaging once a week for the past month or two, I have talked to someone in a utilikilt, seen somebody wearing one, or had it mentioned by a friend that he was wearing one.

What are Utilikilts, you ask? The Utilikilts Company is "committed to pioneering a comfortable alternative to trousers by producing “Men’s Unbifurcated Garments” (MUG’s)." Think kilts are just girls' skirts fit for guys? Nope. Looking at the website, they are tailored for length and waist like male clothing. Kinda like an historic Celtic kilt, but with modern twists. Check out the Mockumercials on their main page. An excellent way to waste some time.

Warning. If you are too bow-legged or scrawny, these are not the garments for you! To all other men, I urge them towards "Freedom!"

For hitting the links or heading to the office:

For dressing up or bundling up:

When and where do you wear yours?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XVII: Do you want to date my avatar?

If you are any flavor of gamer - rpg, computer, even larp - you should enjoy this one:

<a href="" target="_new" title="The Guild: "Do You Want To Date My Avatar?"">Video: The Guild: "Do You Want To Date My Avatar?"</a>


And if you haven't seen the web series "The Guild", discover all three seasons here: The Guild.

If the main character looks familiar, Felicia Day is Penny in "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" (co-starring Nathan Fillion (completely makes the ABC show Castle!) & Neil Patrick Harris, (favorite super-villain!) by Joss Whedon) and is the redhead in Sear's Blue Crew commercials.

Along these lines, my hubby recommends Legend of Neil, though it is definitely NSFW.  Then again that's Dave's kind of humor. Felicia Day plays the Fairy.

Hang with me in my MMO
So many places we can go
You’ll never see my actual face
Our love, our love will be in a virtual space
I’m craving to emote with you
So many animations I can do
Be anything you want me to be
Come on, come on, share a potion with me
Do you wanna date my Avatar
She’s a star
And she’s hotter than reality by far
Wanna date my Avatar?
You can type commands
I’ve got slots for what I hold in my hands
Don’t care what’s in your character bank
How ‘bout, How ‘bout a little tank and spank
Grab your mouse and stroke the keys
Here in cyberspace there’s no disease
Pick a time, send a tell to me
Just pay, just pay a small subscription fee
Single white human,
Looking for group
My stats so high
Don’t be out of the loop
Got an uber-leet staff
That you can equip
Close your mouths ladies
This is pure nerd-nip
I’m a pixel-based fantasy
A man who is stoic
I hack and slash
Who the heck’s more heroic?
Check me out:
Cloth armor
Fits me like a glove
Just twitta a time
And I’m ready for love
Hang with me in my MMO
So many places we can go
I’m better than a real world quest
You’ll touch, my plus 5 to dexterity vest
What role do you wanna play
I’m just a click away night or day
And if you think I’m not the one
Log off, Log off and we’ll be done

Monday, November 16, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XVI: It is not Christmas season!

I think it is a crime that radio stations have already been playing Christmas songs, I believe since Halloween. Starting at Thanksgiving, I believe is acceptable as the start of of the holiday season, but still pushing it. When I was a kid, it didn't really kick of until St. Nicholas Day on December 6th. But then, we celebrated the 12 days of Christmas, with a larger gift on the first couple of days, then smaller gifts such as undies & socks with a puzzle book or pack of gum for the rest.

Folks, lay off the !@#$% Holiday Cheer. 'Kay?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XV: las semillas de calabaza

Mexican-Spiced Pumpkin Seeds 

Adapted from:


About 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds (I had seeds fresh from a small pumpkin. As they were still wet, they took a bit longer to toast.)

Mexican Spice Mix
1     tbsp granulated sugar
1     tsp kosher salt
1/4  tsp ground cinnamon
1/4  tsp ground cumin (I toasted 1/2 tsp whole seed then ground myself)
1/4  tsp ground coriander
1/8  tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Simple Glaze
2     tbsp water
1     tsp brown sugar (light or dark)
1     tbsp unsalted butter

 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread pumpkin seeds in even layer. Toast until fragrant and color deepens slightly, about 4 minutes. Transfer cookie sheet with nuts to wire rack.

2. For the spice mix: While seeds are toasting, stir together sugar, salt, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and garlic powder in medium bowl; set aside. I used a plastic storage container shook to mix.
3. For the glaze: Bring water, brown sugar, and butter to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Stir in toasted seeds and cook, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until seeds are shiny and almost all liquid has evaporated, about 1½ minutes.

4. Transfer glazed seeds to bowl with spice mix; toss well to coat. Return glazed and spiced seeds to parchment-lined cookie sheet to cool (can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days). Transferring to plastic storage container with spice mix, you can shake to coat, then cool for a few minutes and return to container!

Yummy! Would be muy bueno with una cerveza or mexican hot chocolate like Abuelita!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XIV: Evelyn & the Pirate

Here is Evelyn pitching a fit:

 This is big brother Ragavan the Pirate:
 Do you have a "pirate" in you family? I brought him this book last week, and he loves it!

Aunt Laura:

Friday, November 13, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XIII: Welcome little Evelyn!

My best friend had a baby girl this morning, so I am an honorary aunt again!

Evelyn Muralidharan was born 4:58 am on Friday, November 13, 2009 at 7 lbs, 7 oz. Mother and baby are both great. Daddy almost had a heart attack with the stress, but she was in the hospital at about midnight and delivered less than five hours later.

As soon as I have pictures, I will post.... In the meantime, here is my most recent picture of Andi, smiling knowingly at the camera as she stood up for me at my wedding.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XII: So where are YOU sleeping tonight?

I had the realization recently that the mattresses we sleep on are twice hand-me-downs.  My older sister purchased for an apartment well over a decade ago and passed them along to my younger sister. I took over the house my younger sister lived in maybe eight years ago. We moved to this house 3 years ago and took them with. In short, our mattresses are...

wait for it...


And now words like fibromyalgia are being thrown around, and I am being tested for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Vitamin D deficiency. Could it all be as simple as getting a new place to lay my weary head?

When making a big purchase, I like to do my research and get the opinion of others. So, where are YOU sleeping tonight? I like the idea of the Sleep Number bed, especially the dual-control one (the dual-control heated mattress pad may be the key to our relationship.) What do you like or dislike about what you sleep upon? 

I don't sleep great in hotels, so I can't go by what they have installed. Going into a mattress store, you lay down for a few minutes, in a less-than natural position and you're supposed to make a major purchase based on that?! What happens if you get it home, they haul away your old mattresses, and you HATE it? 
Can you really return it? 
What do you sleep on then?
I really would appreciate any real feedback!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day XI: blarg.


Having no set topic upon which to blog, I am finding inspiration in the placeholder text I use for formatting my blog: blarg. My hubby uses it often. Many times as a salutation to start an im. At other times an expression of general boredom. He even used it when he named his blog.
Given all of this, here are the definitions according to the Urban Dictionary.
  1. Blarg is a unique word, being the only word that not only means anything you want it to, or is used to show disinterest or boredom, but also is the only word that thousands upon thousands of people have claimed to have made up but has been around since man discovered they could use tools. Hobo Dave and Raymond Donn are amongst those who claim to have created the word, as well as some wierd dude called John who worked in the Games Workshop in Falkirk. I have also been known to use the word frequently in the past. I suppose, the true use of this word is to fill a gap in a sentence where appropriate. If a stoned person says "blarg", it is usually used to replace a word they cannot think of, or which they have forgotten
Blarg yer maw!!
Blarg tae aw da yids and swankers! (Hobo dave)
...Blarg man...

  1. A word used in Red vs. Blue from Rooster Teeth Productions. The word was said by the great destroyer, an alien named crunchbite. The name was later changed to fluffy. The alien that only loves.
Caboose: I think I will call him "crunchbite".
Andy: Ahhh, that’s a stupid name.
Caboose: Ahh, well, I think its better than your suggestion, crunchbite is---.
Church: Caboose, who are you talking to---Holy Shit!
Crunchbite: blarg!
  1. 1. A sigh of complete angst/depression.
    2. A sigh of boredom
1. Blarg, someone in heaven created me only to laugh at my misery...
2. Wow, I am so bored...blarg...
  1. While it is almost impossible to decipher one true and absolute meaning for Blarg, there is a basic understanding of it's fundamental implementations:
    1) An utterance of complete bafflement (as noted many times the author of such bafflement may remain speechless with only the word "blarg" comprehensive for some amount of time)
    see also: confuzlement
    2) A vocalization of complete disgust. A short pantomime of a vomiting sound. In this case you might want to draw the "blarg" out more to sound like a more authentic vomiting sound.
    3) A short sigh expressing sadness and frustration in the same instant.
A] What's that you say? Kathy Bates fully nude, awesome!
B] blarg!
  1. The word blarg has no concrete or absolute meaning. Its meaning is derived all from how you say it and in what mood you say it. If you say it depressedly in a low, melancholy tone, it is synonymous with a sigh or expression of sadness. If it's said in an apathetic tone, it means you're in a state of ennui. If you say it in a rageful voice, it is an expletive, etc. etc.
After setting yourself on fire: BLARG!!!
Bored: Blarg. (said in soft, monotone)
Pissed: BLAAAARG!!!!
Elated: Blarg! (In happy voice)
  1. 1. Originally an expression of angst or confusion.
    2. Sometimes also used as an expletive.
    3. Has also been used as a universal word in place of any other word.
    4. In some circles, Blarg has taken the upon the meaning of Nay, or No.
All those in favor say Shoosh! Those opposed say Blarg.
This is all Blarg" "All I have to say is, Blarg!
  1. From the popular online series Red vs. Blue: Blarg means "yes"
Alien, does blarg mean yes?
See, I told you blarg means yes.
  1. An expression used just before ones life is removed from ones body
BLARG, you stabbed me! I dead!
  1. 1. A combination of "blah" and "argh," generally used to describe boredom or frustration.
    2. Boredom to the extreme of physical pain.
  2. The single greatest word in the history of the universe. Incredibly versatile, can be used in nearly any situation. Also, the exact opposite of hingo.
Blarg! That was awesome!
Awww, blarg, that was terrible.
Blarg is good.

  1. Adv: 1. Yes, 2. No
    Honk Blarg, blarg blarg honk.

And this goes on for SEVEN pages.
Welcome to the world of blarg.