Saturday, December 01, 2007


I was driving around for a few hours yesterday, which gave me some thinking time, and my mind started to wander to thoughts of Christmas. I didn't think of presents or decorations or even Christmas baking. I thought of the song for my Christmas letter.

The best letters splice the events of the past year with song lyrics. It saves time because half the work is done before you start typing! Here are past songs that provided the better parts of my letters.

My first letter used "Come Clean" by Hilary Duff.

Last year's song was "Rush" by Aly and AJ.

If you know what these songs have in common besides their awesomeness, then you might be able to guess this year's song/artist. The only hint I can give is that it's a breakup song that turns into a duet at the end when the guy that the singer is breaking up with whines, "what about us?"

Also, I found this website that's guaranteed to make my letter writing easier. If I just follow these 10 simple tips, I'm sure to write the best letter ever!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Baking Update

I've been trying to use up some shortening I have in my pantry by baking cookies and biscuits. I don't have pictures of the biscuits (if you want biscuits go to Bob Evans!) but here are some peanut butter cookies.

These cookies are basically the Jif recipe, but I used natural peanut butter, dark brown sugar and a few other tweaks. I just can't leave well enough alone.

And here's a picture of the almond torte I made for "A Star is Born" themed baby shower. I was so excited to use the star-shaped pan I found while shopping for party favors. It's frosted with whipped cream frosting and the sides are covered with slivered almonds.

I won't be baking much for Thanksgiving since the pies and a second dessert are covered. I'm making some pumpkin bread and maybe some more cookies to use up the BFC.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Classic

Chocolate chip cookies are my signature baked good. I basically follow the Nestle toll house recipe with a few tweaks, but they always turn out delicious if I do say so myself.
I won't tell you all my secrets, but the most important thing you have to do is make sure the chips aren't touching the cookie sheet. The entire bottom of the cookie should be dough, with the chips in the middle and on top. It's a simple thing that makes a huge difference.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Mascot, not the People

I don't like sports. I don't hate sports. I'm usually pretty indifferent to them, actually. I don't watch them on tv, but I'll watch them live if someone asks me to go. Or if the tickets are free. Hell, I'd see just about anything if the tickets are free. Even Cats. Again.

But, sports and me aren't getting along right now because the Cleveland Indians are ruining my life. Here's why:

A) The games are taking over other people's lives to the point mine is disrupted. For example, some of my relatives can't talk on the phone during the game unless it's about the game. Not that they are unique in this behavior. All small talk is now about baseball. Strangers, work associates and even people I know think it's ok to begin a conversation with, "did you watch the game last night?" And then they are shocked, SHOCKED, when I say no. Not that it matters because they continue on like I said yes. If I wanted to know what happened, I would have watched, thanks.

2) Parking lots around my work in the warehouse district raise their rates on home game days in the morning. Why should I have to pay $10 somewhere I paid $6.50 the day before when the game doesn't start for another 10 hours? I'm not going to the game. And even if I were, it's in 10 hours!

C) You later.

4) The phrase "Go Tribe" has become a salutation like aloha. People say it at the beginning of conversations or the end of conversations like it means something. What purpose does saying "Go Tribe" have? Other than to piss me off, I'm not sure. An incredible example of this "go tribe" mentality occurred when some Dink Loser reporter was interviewing one of the teachers who was injured at SuccessTech last week. He ended the interview with, "and good luck to your Indians." What the hell? How is that appropriate?

If you ask me, they can't lose fast enough. And just in case you're one of those superstitious types that thinks my saying that is going to somehow make it true, rest assured that I've been saying it since the postseason started. For all I know, it's bringing them luck.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Too Much Butter

I have a lot of butter in my fridge that I hope to use before it goes bad. As I was looking through my recipes, it struck me that I should start with Butter Cookies (der!). These are Martha Stewart's recipe for Butter Twists from a Christmas cookie magazine she put out a few years ago. I made most of them twists, but threw in a few pretzel shapes to be fancy. I also sprinkled them with sanding sugar before baking to give them some sparkle.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Coffee with a cause

October is Fair Trade month at Phoenix Coffee. They had a great coffee tasting this past Monday and they're holding smaller tastings every Friday throughout the month at their stores. As a special bonus, if you attend four tastings or the tasting the other day and two more tastings, you get a free pound of coffee. And the tastings are also free. Who gives away free stuff for attending free events? That's crazy!

At the tasting at the Roastery we met Sarah, the owner, who was very cool. She was wearing a shirt that said, "I *heart* Fair Trade," and I'm guessing she got the transfer here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I just had a great cup of coffee

I love coffee. Really, check my profile.

As much as I hate to admit it, coffee affects me. I don't get jittery or sleepless, but it causes my heart to race so I try not to drink too much. It's tough because, well, I love coffee!

And most decaf is disgusting. It tastes and smells like chemicals or plastic. Or Old Spice.

But, I do like Swiss wash decaffeinated coffee like they serve at Tommy's. And the other day at Zagara's I found a coffee that looked too good not to try.

Newman's Special Decaf from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. It's organic, fair-trade and water process decaffeinated. There's so much good on the label that I thought it was going to taste gross. But, it was bright, crisp and yummy.
It was weird to have a great cup of coffee without the bad feeling. I won't give up the real stuff, but I'm glad I found an alternative to my usual Kona.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Summer Movie Wrap-up

I like to see movies in the theater regardless of whether I'm watching the movie by myself or with a group. I also like to have popcorn and a Cherry Coke while I enjoy the show. Sometimes I get candy but not often.

I didn't manage to watch all of the summer releases that I wanted, but here's a list of the ones I saw and my grade for each. I'm basing the definition of summer on Entertainment Weekly's Summer Release Calendar, which runs from the first week of May to the first week of September.

Don't worry, it's spoiler-free.

Spider-Man 3
Grade: B
It was the weakest of the three movies by far. They tried to squish too much into it. I liked Tobey's goth makeover, though.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Grade: B-
Not as bad as the second movie, but parts of it were stupid, unfunny and not clever.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Grade: B+
I loved this movie but disliked parts of it enough to keep it below an A. It was funny and full of hotties.

A Mighty Heart
Grade: B-
Interesting movie, but I kept thinking that there was no way Angelina Jolie and Dan Futterman would ever be a couple. I don't care if there was a war going on; that would not happen!

Grade: B
Nice animation. Okay story.

Grade: B
Not as bad as I thought it would be. Decent popcorn movie.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Grade: C+
Had some cool bits but should have been longer. Another movie that tried to do too much. If I hadn't read the book before I saw it, then I would have been really confused.

Grade: A-
Excellent adaptation of the Broadway musical, but John Travolta drove me crazy and not in a good way.

La Vie en Rose
Grade: B-
Wasn't a traditional biographical movie and got really confusing with all the players in the life of Edith Piaf.

The Bourne Ultimatum
Grade: A-
It would have gotten an A+ if it didn't make me physically sick to watch it. Is all the jerky camera-work really necessary? Glad I watched The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy right before I went to see this since you really have to remember what happened in those movies to catch what's going on.

Mr. Bean's Holiday
Grade: B
Silly, stupid and subtitled. It was interesting to see a live-action G rated movie that didn't star a dog.

I guess that makes the best movies of the summer:

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Labor Day Baking

Apple pie (with crust made from scratch, of course)

And I made some Rice Krispies Treats (not pictured) for the people who don't like homemade apple pie. Actually, having two desserts at a holiday gathering isn't all that unusual.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

What is THIS?

About an hour ago I noticed this weird bug on window. Is this a cicada?

Here's a close up from inside the house with a AA battery for size reference.

It took off with a loud click. I hope it stays gone because it grossed me out. Why do animals like my house?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Bottle of Red, Bottle of White

Here are two wines I've drunk and enjoyed recently:

At India Garden, I enjoyed this red from the Sahyadri Valley in Maharashtra, India. I had my usual, Palak Paneer (which I ordered off-menu and medium spicy). Our waiter/owner of the restaurant said he wasn't a wine drinker and couldn't recommend a wine to go with dinner, but I thought this Cab went well with the spice and heat of the dish.

This white I bought at Trader Joe's as part of my splurge of buying a case of wine after I found out I was being laid-off. It's very light and summery and tastes great by itself. I tried to pair it with a chicken pasta salad I made, but the vinaigrette was way too strong for this Pinot. Maybe something with less acidity would have complimented it better.

I was very excited to order the wine at India Garden because there were just two of us and I knew we'd get to take advantage of Ohio's "Merlot to go" law. I gotta remember to do that more often.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Zucchini Nut Muffins

These turned out a little lighter in color than other zucchini nut muffins I've made in the past, but they were good. Good but not great. Not every recipe can be phenomenal.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Different Drum

I love karaoke. Really, check my profile.

So how excited was I that not one, but two karaoke game shows were on tonight!?! Not very, but I watched them anyway. First, an encore presentation of The Singing Bee on NBC and an hour later, Don't Forget the Lyrics on Fox. Here's my assessment of the two shows.

The Spelling Bee is hosted by Joey Fatone. The show starts with Joey strolling through the audience and hand-picking six contestants. The six are whittled down to four, then two and finally one. That one is crowned the winner and gets a trophy and a chance to win $50,000.
The band and a rotating group of singers do most of the work. The contestants aren't really heard until the music stops and they must finish the song clip. The singers tonight were good. I'd guess a spare few make a living singing commercial jingles. Actually, the contestants weren't all that bad either.

Don't Forget the Lyrics is hosted by Wayne Brady. The show features one contestant for the entire hour (or two hours, the show ended in a cliffhanger!) picking songs from categories on a board and singing them karaoke-style in front of a giant video screen displaying the lyrics. The contestant sings with a live band for what seems like forever until the screen stops showing the words and has blanks that the contestant must fill-in. After they sing their guess, they can change their minds. They can also use one of their three lifelines, I mean "back-up singers" to help 'em out if they get stuck. The grand prize is one million dollars.

I like the format of Don't Forget the Lyrics better. The Spelling Bee was a little too slapdash. The pace was too quick and their was no second-guessing tension.

The singing was the worst part of Don't Forget the Lyrics. The fact that a terrible singer was showcased for an entire episode made it painful to watch/listen. I like The Singing Bee's use of professional singers as song starters.

What surprised me was the overlap of songs. Is "Walk Like an Egyptian" a hot karaoke selection?

Neither show was interesting enough to watch again. I probably would have been better off singing along with my Karaoke Revolution game.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Rocky Mountain High*

Here are some highlights from Denver and our ascent of Mt. Evans.

Lake Echo
And here's a bonus picture of an older tanorexic who was staying at the same hotel as us. She had a lovely gray white-lady fro and a penchant for tight pink clothing and sparkly pink shoes (not pictured).

* Could I have thought of a more predictable title for this post?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Today's Baking

Pecan Muffins (with a touch of cinnamon)

I thought they would look more commercial with a pat of butter on one. They were yummy.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

B Positive

The Red Cross calls about once a week and asks me to donate blood. I don't take them up on it very often because I prefer to go to blood drives that give you something for your troubles (t-shirts, coffee mugs, cds, free lunch, etc.) and those are few and far between. They called this past weekend to recruit me to give at the drive tomorrow at Jacob's Field. I couldn't make that one, but I made an appointment for today at the downtown donation center.

And guess what?

They got a full pint! My veins are know for being blood-teases so I'm glad the phlebotomist was adept. Take that all you crappy blood-drawers at other drives!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Baked Goods

Star-shaped stained glass cookies

Chocolate cupcake with lavender and sage colored frosting
(not baked or decorated by me, but isn't it pretty?)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Drinky Drinks

Articles like this are why one of my New Year's resolutions was to drink more alcoholic beverages.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


One of my favorite websites is nine years old. Happy anniversary NewsNet5!

Here are a few reasons I love NN5.

A) They send me two newsletters everyday-- one at noon with the day's headlines and one at 1 o'clock with the entertainment headlines. I also get the weekly Vegas newsletter and breaking news updates.

2) They always post interesting stories worthy of forwarding. Today's forward was about the nut fry in Wisconsin.

C) You later

4) The Weird Chronicles. I know the column isn't unique to NN5, but I read it there.

E) I met my friend Thom via NewsNet5. He was mentioned in a story about his appearance on the morning show. Unfortunately, I've never been mentioned on the site. I posted a picture once, but I can't find a link to it.

6) I've won a few contests.

And one thing I hate about the site is the searchability of it. Try it. It sucks.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

You Know I'm No Good

The current song that's playing in my head:

Amy Winehouse

And this cover is pretty good too:

Arctic Monkeys

I'm not that jazzed about Amy Winehouse's other songs, but she's got a unique sound.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Thanks Easter Bunny!

I love coming home at 11:30pm after a day spent eating too much sugar* to find a foot(?) of snow surrounding my house. I shoveled enough to get my car in the driveway and a path to my front door (pictured). The freezing rain/snow falling on me as I worked was annoying yet refreshing.
*Here are the sweets I ate today: Hot Cross Muffins, Carrot Cake (both baked my me!), Capirotada, Cheesecake and some candy from my Easter Basket.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Damn Groundhog

I meant to post this like 2 weeks ago.

February 10

Fat robin spotted

February 14


Poor Toodle Bug!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Groundhog Day

Early spring
General Beau Lee

More winter

I choose to believe Buckeye Chuck because he's Ohio's official groundhog.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Ooh look, a fire! I love coffee.