Archive for the ‘Condo’ Category

Thin mints, cupcakes and seriously?

January 14, 2012

At times I feel like I’m living in a weird movie that if taken without copious amounts of coffee would lead to the utter collapse of Western Civilization (ok, maybe not that extreme!).  Any week that combines a full moon Monday with a Friday the 13th will now be spent under covers.  Or in suit of armor.  Then I caught up on the news of the week.  Apparently one Girl Scout is boycotting (and asking others to do the same) the annual Girl Scout Cookie Sale.  Look, I get that she is a kid: I don’t like a kid being politicized (either one!).  Adults need to step in here.  Girl Scouts from the time of, oh Juliette Low, have always been somewhat left-of-center.  And have always welcomed member and often with scholarship dollars to make sure all kids have the opportunity.  Radical, no, wait, inclusive.  This shouldn’t be a headline: it should be a teaching moment.  We don’t all have to agree on a topic, on an issue but we all need to learn civility and that really, everybody is welcome.  It’s not about religion: it’s about being kind and decent to each other.  The world is hard enough without encouraging our children to boycott each other.  Go buy a box of thin mints.

Oh, and why you are at it, buy a cupcake.  And go through a security line and report back.  In the update to Cupcake gate, a friend of mine appears on Fox and Friends (snark noted) because she dared to bring through a food item.  Look, before I get blasted by 394950 people about “it’s a new world” and “you are a fool”.  Back up to the start of the story: Rebecca brought through two cupcakes.  Both cleared Logan TSA (which flying out of Logan 10 or so times a year, I can say, there are post 9/11 screenings which are not found in other airports, two of the planes left from here).  Returning from Vega$, the one remaining was a “security threat”.  Ok, maybe the glass is questionable: wait, you can buy a Starbucks mug in airports.  Ok, maybe the ganache was more than 3oz (wait, the jar can fit into a Ziploc bag).  Ok, maybe the TSA policies are not clear enough? Bingo.  Don’t blame the agent: the guidelines are unclear (and if you don’t believe me, ask Rebecca, it was her cupcake and she has never slammed the agent).  Look, I cleared TSA in KC with the WRONG boarding pass (you know, that license and boarding pass check).  I was told by TSA that “happens all the time, but don’t worry, we still screen you” (um).  So, clearing TSA with the wrong boarding pass is OK, but damn, those cupcakes.

It’s a mad world people.  Thank God the Packers are still playing.  Cheese, Cookies and Cupcakes.  Perfect halftime snack.

Resolutions and other nonsense

December 29, 2011

I’m not into New Year’s Resolutions – mostly because there seems to be a lack of creativity “I’m going to go to the gym every day” or “I’m going to quit smoking”.  A blog post circulated today about the UU church working on a wider justice, spiritual formation, more inclusive in its cohesiveness in the discipline of discussion.  Look, if I go to the gym every day, maybe it will help other members of my health insurance company (I mean, I’d probably be healthier and not spend as many health care dollars and all).  And no, I don’t smoke.  But, for me, many of the New Year’s Resolutions (like giving up things for Lent) have a self-serving motive.

The past year has, to me anyway, seemed to further create an us versus them divide.  99% vs 1%, Congress versus each other versus the American people, a complete and total increase in rising tensions: if you have a job, the insane competitiveness to prove why you should keep it, over and over.  It’s draining.  Maybe that has always been adulthood (how the hell would I know? I do know we have an amazing ability to glamorize and romanticize the past).

I think somewhere in the back of my head, I’ve always had this notion that people create resolutions on New Year’s Day after making a promise their higher power to never do anything like that again as long as they live.  Ok, that is probably my twisted humor after spending a few too many semesters at the overly politically correct institute of graduate theological education.  That and I’m a jackass.

This year, I decided to make a bucket list of some strange goals, some normal goals and a few I really have little control over.  If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t and I tried, well, ok.  I’m not going to involve going to the gym in this list.

1) Purchase as many items as I can from locally sourced suppliers.  Some things are out: cat food! Jackson only eats one type and I’m not about to go through changing the food of a 14-year-old fur beast.

2) Less trash tv; more books.  Ideally, I’d like to read 3 books a week.  Some fun, some more thought-provoking.

3) Have a job with benefits.  While I’m grateful for my temp job for the past 7 months, I’d really like to drop the 100% payment of my health insurance.

4) Write actual letters to my friends.  You know, the types with stamps.

5) Be more creative in my cooking.  I can make a killer potato soup but maybe expand out my culinary skills.

6) Give up on the fact that on opening day, I am 100% convinced the Cubs will not make the World Series.  I’m trying reverse karmic psychology on this: work with me.

7) Plug my ears and shout la-la-la-la when anybody equates my dislike of President Obama as being racist.  I don’t like how he has governed: I’m sure he’s a nice guy for a south sider but I’ve not been impressed with his presidency.  I think he was set up from the start as many thought he was the second coming of Kennedy or Christ depending on who you spoke to about the topic.  I didn’t like him in the primary, still don’t.  Of course, my standard for POTUS is either LBJ or Andrew Jackson depending on my mood.

8) Make the decision to redo the condo or sell.

9) Buy new storm windows.

10) Buy a hair dryer. It’s been on my to do list for 5 years. I only remember it the first really cold snap.

11) Go to NOLA this year.

12) Resist all temptations to dress up Laffite as clown for Halloween.

Some times, you have to go back to the kitchen

October 6, 2011
Pork and Spicy Peach BBQ

Pork and Spicy Peach BBQ

I’ve had a lousy week.  Sunday night, I found out a long time family friend died of lung cancer.  She had a wonderful life just a not so happy ending.  I tried to find something poignant to put on the flowers I sent to my mom but came up with “some days just suck”.  At least my mom laughed: I know her friend would have had she received the flowers.  The day of the funeral I had to deal with my condo association and their inability to follow a procedure from point a to point b thus causing me to be inconvenienced.  My mom and her friend are both retired school teachers.  The one thing that entered my mind (because I couldn’t be 1/3 of the way across the country at the funeral like I wanted to be) was “Lack of planning on your part, doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part”.  The cliché of the poster pretty much sums up how I feel about my condo mis-management firm.  Always a fire drill.

So, on this miserable rainy fall Tuesday night, I cooked.  A fresh ham (not smoked … really you could substitute a pork roast) from the fantastic 8’Oclock Ranch and some homemade peach bbq sauce that I made this summer.  The following is the recipe I used for the zesty peach bbq sauce:

6 cups finely chopped pitted peeled peaches (about 3 lb or 9 medium)
1 cup finely chopped seeded red bell pepper (about 1 large)
1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 large)
3 Tbsp finely chopped garlic (about 14 cloves)
1-1/4 cups honey
3/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp hot pepper flakes
2 tsp dry mustard

(It’s adapted from the ball canning book:  I skipped the salt and Worcester sauce).  And I somehow used the wrong kind of hot pepper flakes so mine as an extra layer of heat (suffice to say, cayenne pepper is a tad hotter than hot pepper flakes: oops).  This makes about 4 pints.

I preheated the oven to 380.  Dumped a pint of the sauce all over the roast and cooked until done (ok, so the cooking time depends ON the weight of the roast so that you have to look up. . . .).  I served it over rice.

Finally it’s fall . . . and I get to cook.  And enjoy the rewards of my hot summer nights in the kitchen

Re-organizing: A Hurricane of a Project

August 28, 2011

Edit your rooms. One room at a time, go around the room and eliminate
the unnecessary. Act as a newspaper editor, trying to leave only the minimum,
and deleting everything else. Article
here
.

Edit closets and drawers. Once you’ve gone through the main parts of
your rooms, tackle the closets and drawers, one drawer or shelf at a time. More
here
.

Simplify your wardrobe. Is your closet bursting full? Are your
drawers so stuffed they can’t close (I’m talking about dresser drawers here, not
underwear). Simplify your wardrobe by getting rid of anything you don’t actually
wear. Try creating a minimal wardrobe by focusing on simple styles and a few
solid colors that all match each other. Read
more
.”

Fact: I really dislike high winds.  I needed to find something to do during Irene – yes, it’s not a huge storm (now) but really? I don’t like the rattling gusts of winds that will hit my area sometime today.  My plan? I’m tackling the wardrobe issue and my bed room: if it hasn’t been used/worn in 2 years, it’s gone.  Period.  No questions asked.  If it’s ripped/stained it’s gone no more of this “oh, i can use it as pj’s, layer with it, no more mismatched socks for “snow clearing”.

One place I really need an edit is in my how does this fit into my wardrobe?  The problem when I worked the job from hell was we were expected to wear current-esque merchandise so I wound up with a ton of things that either I didn’t need OR were a bit too trendy.  I did a bit of research regarding some of the less than stellar conditions of my clothing, it turns out that yes, you can donate stained clothing.  It is recycled into items in developing countries (with a study from Oxfam to show that it doesn’t impact local industry).

Given the insanity of my work-wardrobe: my plans: Edit to no more than 15 items for business, 15 for business casual, 15 for casual.  And yes they can be interchangeable.  At least I’ll have something to think about besides the howling winds!

Edit? Ok, that’s another 4 letter word!

August 25, 2011

Day 11: “Edit your rooms. One room at a time, go around the room and eliminate the unnecessary. Act as a newspaper editor, trying to leave only the minimum, and deleting everything else.”

Ok, part of the problem I have with my condo is that it’s a collection, reunification and the fact I’ve never sorted through my stuff.  When I moved into my condo, I had some of my stuff from grad school life, my parents brought a bunch of my stuff from storage and over the past few visits have decided it’s time to rid their house of my stuff (seriously? what are parents FOR?)  Since I’m probably going to be stuck in the condo this weekend (stupid hurricane), I’m thinking it’s the perfect weekend to re-do.

My problem? A guest room/junk room/lots of boxes room.I’m thinking tomorrow night, there might be a serious toss fest.  I shut the room off in the winter so how I re-do the room needs to limited to items I won’t need in the winter.  I am thinking I can create a storage area for my canning items for the winter (space hogs in the kitchen), culling my closets: I have two, I need one.  I can use the second closet for a storage area for bulky items (tent, sleeping bag).

Yup, it’s time to do some serious reorganization.  Good thing I didn’t have any plans for the weekend . . . .

Day Eight: Purge Your Stuff

August 23, 2011

Purge your stuff. If you can devote a weekend to purging the stuff you don’t want, it feels seriously terrific. Get boxes and trash bags for the stuff you want to donate or toss.”

ARGH!  Ok, fact: I suck at this.  You’d think that since I move an average of every 3 years, I’d be an extreme minimalist. FALSE.  But what happens if I NEED a high altitude cookbook in the suburbs of Boston in case oh, a hill of 7000 feet pops up?  This is only compounded by the fact that my mother collects things . . . all sorts of things (Hi Zebrastravels, I thought you might just want to have a bamboo shower curtain from Peru.  I put it in the mail.) which compounds my inability to say no to weird things my mother has sent me.

I am single and live in a 2 bedroom condo (there is a story behind it but I’m not going to go there . . . ).  I realized that basically the second room is devoted to things I can’t part with. Ok, this has to end.  Since I’m busy this weekend, I am hereby declaring Labor Day Weekend the get your act together and get it out (of the house) event.  Simple ground rules:

1) If I haven’t worn it in a year, it goes to either a clothing closet or goodwill.

2) If it’s stained, ripped or damaged, it goes in the trash.  Except my Ohio State hoody which is good luck.

3) If the book hasn’t been read and it’s over 2 years old, it gets donated to More Than Words in Waltham (a used book store that works with youth in the Boston area).

4) If it doesn’t fit, it goes. Period.

How am I going to do this? Hmmm, good question.  First, I am going to sketch out the end results.  I want to move my big bookcase into the kitchen to store the canned goods.  To do so, I have to go through the books.  I am half tempted to toss some unopened boxes from my move here 3 years ago (yes, you read that right) but given the age of identity theft, I think I need to go through them before tossing.  I am going to make a list of friends who do various hobbies I started and stopped to see if they are interested in ‘care’ packages of items related to hobbies that I’m not doing anymore.

The end result? A simple living room.  A kitchen with actual shelf space.  A guest room that isn’t a barrel racing path and a bedroom with items that I wear.  I’d post before and after pics but I’d die of embarrassment.

Seriously. I’ve got to get a grip on the junk.  The clutter is driving me nuts and I’m 99% sure I can’t blame all of it on my mom.  But, please, if you don’t hear from me the Tuesday after Labor Day? Assume I’m buried in the clutter.

Task: Also a 4 letter word

August 19, 2011

Days 4 & 5:

  • Simplify work tasks. Our work day is made up of an endless list of
    work tasks. If you simply try to knock off all the tasks on your to-do list,
    you’ll never get everything done, and worse yet, you’ll never get the important
    stuff done. Focus on the essential tasks and eliminate the rest. Read
    more
    .
  • Simplify home tasks. In that vein, think about all the stuff you do
    at home. Sometimes our home task list is just as long as our work list. And
    we’ll never get that done either. So focus on the most important, and try to
    find ways to eliminate the other tasks (automate, eliminate, delegate, or hire
    help).

So, this is one of those things where one I don’t have as much control as I’d like (ok, I’m a Type A control freak).  Since I am working as a temp, my work tasks are dependent on others.  I can’t be proactive using lull times to get ahead.  The sad thing is that I’ve become a the type of person who comes in, does her job and leaves.  Since I’m at the end of the totem pole, there I do what is assigned and moved on.  The sad reality of the not-in-a-recession-but-sure-looks-like-it economy.  Hey, I’m working, I have enough to pay my bills and put a bit aside, I’m not complaining.  I’ve just come to realize how much not being vested in an organization has made me disenfranchised with what I do day in and day out.

Simplify at home: oh the both sides of being single! To say I despise cleaning is a mild understatement.  Every fall, I do a massive purge.  This year, I have a hunch is going to be particularly ugly.  I have a few boxes that I haven’t unpacked: I moved to this condo in ’07. Um. I’ll make sure they aren’t things like old tax returns but something tells me they are going in the donation pile.

One of the challenges of tasks I need to simplify is my commitment to shopping locally owned as much as possible.  Yes, target is far more tempting given the fact it now has groceries.  However, I’ve found a different level of intention in shopping local (aside from the do I really need this):  chatting with the grocery store owner of the Brazilian market, having a random conversation about paint with a retired engineer at the hardware store.  Somehow, it has become less cumbersome being in the smaller places versus dodging shopping carts, reckless drivers and the general hassle of big box stores.

What are my big goals for my home this fall? Organize my guest room.  If I haven’t used it, touched it, thought about it in the past 2 years: it will be Ebayed, freecycled (maybe, that sorta creeps me out) or donated.  Then I’ll organize it into some sort of space, I haven’t decided yet (Jackson and Lafitte are angling for a kitty jungle).  The condo has been a giant to-do list for a myriad of reasons I’m not going to blog about: I’m finally ready to untangle the havoc.  Right now, I have the last 3 places I’ve lived sorta in a heap.  Ack.  It’s time to break out the calendar and map the next 8 weekends for the clean, purge, re-do plan!

Have you ever READ the fine print?

July 24, 2011

Now I know some of my lawyer-ly friends will say “yes”, but really, how many people READ all of the fine print?  I have done the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) route for over a year.  I love it.  I switched CSA’s this year for a few reasons: my new one gives “credits” and you select how much of which type of item you would like for the week (pretty cool … no bok choi! or tat soi!).  Anyway, I’m close to meandering off the path.  Last year I froze some berries, some squash and meandered through the ‘off season’ (and uh, in New England, that’s a long time!).

A friend posted on her blog the tales about urban canning. Yup, she’s a “cult” leader of the nice sort. She sucked me in . . . the results?

  1. 5 pints of plum chutney
  2. 1.5 pints of spicy plum sauce
  3. 3 cups of pesto (frozen)
  4. 3 pints of blueberry jam
  5. 1.5 pints of blueberry-chocolate sauce
  6. 7 pints of bread and butter pickles
  7. 1.5 litres of blueberry wine
  8. 6 pints of frozen blueberries

In a weekend.  I know I’ll be happy this winter when it’s impossible to get anything in New England without a massive carbon footprint.  I know I’m eating better because everything used was either organic and locally grown or organic.  I had a blast picking the blueberries, despite the near record heat and humidity.  Everything was canned, frozen or being strained (in the case of the wine) within 10 hours of being picked.

How did this insanity get started? Aside from my friend the cult leader? I read the back of the label of my pickles. The #2 ingredient behind cucumbers? HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, some strange word I can’t pronounce and don’t remember, and yellow dye.  Yup. I’m out of the grocery race.  I’m going back to picking my foods in the garden, using my CSA share and canning and freezing along the way.  It is completely that easy.

Jam in the making

My Dislike of Weight Watchers

January 3, 2011

I despise Weight Watchers. I always have: this isn’t a new issue for me (it’s on the same argument as why I despise makeup).  I think just about everybody I know has tried/succeeded and then (mostly) failed on Weight Watchers.

My new anti-WW rant is on the “point” system. “I can only eat so many points per day”. Yes, when you are dieting, you need to be cautious on what you eat, when you eat and how much you consume but limiting to points, to me, screams “restricting food intake” in an eating disorder sense.  Since Weight Watchers is a for profit organization, I am immediately skeptical (hi! pay money to attending a meeting at a church), makes their own food and requires members to weigh in publicly (at some meetings), I don’t see the difference between Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem or any a plethora of other programs that promise a “supportive, unique environment designed to met YOUR (the female consumers) needs.”

Here is how I lost 30 pounds in 2010. I ate less. I eliminated sugar, flour and all processed foods. I exercised as my body allowed and I thought if grabbing a snack “do i want this or do I need this?” A want went back in the bag.  Sometimes, you need a handful of chips: and that isn’t going to kill me, sideline my diet or anything else.

Weight Watchers and most programs like this prey on the vulnerabilities of women to have a preconceived body type.  Not all of us are going to be tall and thin: some of us will have hips, some will have larger breasts, some will have small butts.

How do you rid yourself of  weight? Figure out what your body burns as fuel: mine is protein. A friend is veggies.  Limit your portion controls. Walk up the flight of stairs. Drink water. Quit obsessing about the scale (muscle DOES weigh more than fat) and use the tried and true advice of how do the clothes fit. Toss out your scale, quit counting points and focus on improving your health: once you do that? The weight will follow.  And if you want a piece of cake? eat it! who cares?

You can only lose weight for you: not for an archetypical image, not for a “I want to wear x for an event” but for you: your health, how you feel about you – not the images.  If you must set weight loss goals, do so in helpful ways: eliminate sugar, eliminate processed foods, cook from home and freeze immediately any leftovers.  And toss your scale.  Learn to listen to your body and respect it.  Not everybody is going to be a size 8. Clothes can’t be your goal: your happiness with the reflection in the mirror is what counts. Your improving health counts.  And limiting yourself to life’s little pleasures now and then because of a “point” reinforces all the negative self-image women have heard for years.

Butternut squash and my addiction

November 3, 2010

Ok. I have this THING for butternut squash. As in I love it. Fortunately, It’s not horrific for you (well, actually pretty good for you). Butternut squash is my temptress in the fall. I can’t pass it in the farmers market. I know. I’m a freak. I’ve been playing around with ideas on how to creatively cook up the latest squash to invade my condo (and hence, save my 2 loyal readers my post-election tirade) and came up with the following. It’s pretty good. And yes, I’m biased.

Savory Butternut Squash

 

Everything used (save the olive oil and brown sugar) are locally farmed from New England/Upstate New York and purchased from small businesses.

Pre-heat oven to 350. Cut butternut squash in half. Remove seeds. Depending on size of squash cut in half again. Brush lightly with olive oil. Cooking time will vary on size of squash but no longer than 45 minutes. Remove and let cool. Fry bacon. Cool. Cut/tear into pieces. Skin squash. Cut into chunks. Gently fold in rosemary, and 1/2 of cheese, brown sugar and bacon. Place in a single layer on a 9×12 baking dish Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Cook at 350 until warm and cheese is melted and heated thru. Approximately 15 minutes.

It even ranked 8 paws. Which at this zoo, is pretty good!


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