Friday, February 27, 2009

Honest Scrap

I was awarded the Honest Scrap award by kbreints.

The rules for this award:

Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Show the winners names and links on your blog, and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with “Honest Scrap.” There’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.

List at least 10 honest things about yourself.

1. I’m afraid of yeast.

2. Not like “Ahh, the yeast! It’s going to get me!”

3. But more like, “dang, I’m going to make this and it won’t rise and I will have wasted all this time and effort and ingredients and I STILL won’t have bread.”

4. The bread machine did not help in this matter one iota.

5. Iota is a weird word.

6. I turn people’s toilet paper over when it’s put on the roll wrong.

7. And by wrong, I mean pulling from under.

8. It should be over the top.

9. It’s a tough crusade, but I’m on it.

10. It makes me mad when I’m in a public restroom and cannot change the roll.

I may have cheated…on honest scrap. Seriously people, I couldn’t come up with 10 things, please do not tag me for those 25 lists. I can’t handle the pressure.

And now, I give you my seven blogs that I nominate. Except I don’t, because I’m a cheater, but also because everyone who I read is great. Or I wouldn’t read them. And actually, the thing is that if I nominate them and then they don’t do it, or they already did it, it becomes awkward when I show up at their door step and am like, “hey didn’t you want to put my award up on your mantle?” And they’re all “yeah, we diiiiid, but it didn’t match the curtains, so we’re keeping it in the basement with the mice.” Or worse, I don’t nominate someone and they get their feelings hurt and then when I come over for high tea, they’re all, “Hey, I have this spot right here for your award you gave…oh, you didn’t give it to me? GET OOOOOOOUUUTTTT!” And it just ruins everything, and I really love scones. So if you want it, it’s yours.

Better yet, you can say you want it in the comments and then I can edit this and when I have 7, I will pretend I just nominated Still cheating? You guys are such rule followers.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

Weekend Wrap Up

Except, there's not much to talk about.

As promised, pictures of the sproutlets.



Tomato [technically not a sproutlet, since we bought it already about 8 inches tall]: Also, it finally rained, so we played a little in the rain:

I don't know what he's saying the in the beginning when I ask him what's happening, he had been telling us about the rain, but you know the camera starts and all of the sudden he can't do what he's been doing for the past 5 minutes even one more time.
Anyway, he does say "run in circle" and "oh, what's that?" and "here."

We met up with another couple who we haven't seen in a long time to eat at the Melting Pot on Saturday night. I have been wanting to try it for a while, and it was excellent. Much better than I expected. We opted for the Big Night Out and it was a 4 course meal. It did take a long time, I think our entire time there was close to 3 hours. It didn't seem like 3 hours, but I think if it had just been the two of us, it probably would have. Anyway, great date night. I'd totally go again.

When we parked, Clint and I had a nice view of the best port-a-potty company name ever:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Work is Busy, Life is Busy

Last night I looked in the hanging pots (where we planted the tomatoes upside down and the seeds for chives and dill on top) and we have sprouts!! I'll have pictures on Monday. But here's one to tide you over of him doings some planting.

I put off studying for and taking my home inspection test for so long, that I have 3 weeks to study and take the test. And if I don't pass that time, I have 10 days to try again. So my brain will be in home inspection land for the next few weeks.

I have been thinking of not doing it at all, because of the whole insurance for it will be more than the income I make off of it thing, but if I get my license and let it be inactive, then when I do need it, in case of a lay off or something, I can find the insurance and it's full speed ahead (except that whole pesky housing market is down crap.)

In the interest of full disclosure the reason I started looking into it to begin with was because I thought I wanted to work from home, I thought I wanted to have Landon with me and just take him to mother's day out or something when I did an inspection. And I'm not really sure that's true anymore.

Half the problem was my job. I honestly hated my job. More than anything else, more than leaving Landon at day care, I hated my job. Seriously, cried tears of joy when I walked out into the parking lot on my last day. And now I have a new job. And I'm not doing what I want to be doing here, right now, but I have hope and my manager knows this and my manager is a good person and is doing everything he can to make sure my next assignment matches my skills. And even in this situation where I don't like what I'm doing, I am at least at a company that doesn't make me want to vomit when I walk in the doors.

The other problem was that I didn't think I wanted Landon in day care. But, now? Landon is thriving in day care. He is learning so much, and not just academic stuff, but he's learning about having friends. And talking to people. Things he wasn't going to be able to learn at home with me and things he didn't learn by going to a baby-sitter with only two other kids. And I just don't see how I could possibly pull him out of that.

Finally, I now make what I thought I might make per hour doing the inspections. And I don't have the responsibility of finding the work. I have a guaranteed 40 hour week, I park my car and walk in and the work is here. I don't have to hunt for it. If I could work a 20 hour week and make what I made now, hunting for the work wouldn't be a problem, but if I have to still work a 40 hour week AND hunt for the jobs, it would mean more like a 60 hour week. And that's not at all what I thought I was going for when I started this adventure. All of this of course also is based on budget we have now, which includes the debt we have, and if I can eliminate most of our debt, I can take a pay cut and we'd be fine. So this isn't an end all be all reason, it's revisitable.

Anyway, all this to say that I've come to a place where I decided, it's a good back-up plan. It's something I've already spent a lot of time and money on and just giving up at this point isn't in my best interest, but that if I fail, I will know I tried and I can move on with my life. And if I pass, I'm still not sure I want to follow through on it, but at least I'll have it in my back pocket if I need it.

Anyway, fair warning, light posting here for the next few weeks. Probably a lot of pictures, which I'm sure the grandmothers won't mind a bit.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Income tax refunds and you

I just did our taxes this past weekend, in fact, I always do my taxes around the second weekend in February, just after having received all my paperwork. Then, if I owe money (only happened once in a year when I didn't work at all and had some interest income), I wait until April 15th to mail off my check. (I always think of Señora Gomez (Spanish teacher in HS) on tax day, it's her birthday.) If I'm getting money back, I send it in immediately.

There are 2 schools of thought on income tax refunds.

The first is that if you get a refund, you are allowing the government to use your money interest free, and you are actually losing money, because you could have been earning the interest on it.

The second is that, come tax time, you absolutely under no circumstances want to have to pay a dime, because you suck at saving money and you're not sure you'll have it to pay.

I fall in the second category, so for my paycheck (the paperwork I filled out with HR), I always claim at least 1 less dependent than I have, advice I got from my dad that has yet to fail me. Actually, both Clinton and I are on file as single and none. And then we file our taxes married filing jointly, claiming ourselves and Landon and itemizing, we get a much larger refund and are able to do some things with that money annually, that we wouldn't normally get to do. I think of it as a savings account. Unfortunately it's a non-interest baring savings account, but it's a savings account none the less.

This year's income tax refund, is paying! Actually, it's going towards the loan we got for the windows, but that's good enough. Or possibly towards an equal amount of a higher interest other debt.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mmmmm Dats Good

Cheddar brocolli soup.

Monday, February 16, 2009

On Beyond Bovine #11 and #12 - Jalapeño and Green Beans

This weekend was...something...what was is...people were all worked up and wearing reds and pinks and...oh, that holiday we ignore. Valentine's Day.

Look - I've stated my case about V-Day before. You should show love for your significant other more often than once a year on a heavily commercialized day. And as a result, we planned a lovely dinner in for Saturday night, because holy God, you cannot get into a restaurant around here on V-day normally, much less on a V-day that lands on a weekend.

So Saturday morning we went to one of the farmers markets in Houston and found that, hey, this one actually kind of meets my needs. Except for the crippled lady who put her crutch on the INSIDE of Clint's stance, while he held Landon and therefore was not looking at his feet, took a step and nearly knocked her over. Uh - here's a lesson, don't put your crutch in the middle of someone else's feet. Whatever, I got some strawberries, and covered them in chocolate myself. There were a lot of greens, and I think next time, I may get some other stuff. It was kind of weird with the loud music and stuff, but probably worth at least another trip out there, hopefully not to run into crazy people trying to get tripped.

On to the trials:

These two are similar, because they fall squarely in line with everything I love about a low-carb lifestyle. They are wrapped in bacon.

# 11 - The jalapeño, Shrimp Brochette.

First you take your jalapeño, what sucks about picking jalapeños is that the heat is not something you can tell from the outside of the pepper. Supposedly the smaller or darker the pepper, the hotter, but actually, it has more to do with how much water it got while growing. SO just pick one that's nice and firm, not too much scarring. I generally go for a medium sized one.

You cut it open, remove the seeds. The white membrane stuff is where the heat is, so if you're particularly sensitive to that, you'll want to cut that out too, but the bonus to how I assemble these, is that if you like the flavor, but don't want it too strong or have an aversion to the crunch of the pepper itself, you can pull the pepper out prior to eating.

Cut it into strips. I generally get 4 to 5 strips out of each half.

Then you cut your cheese into small strips. Here I used a sharp white cheddar. I have also used cream cheese. They each have their pros and cons. Cream cheese is easier to work with, because it sticks together - where the cheddar falls apart, but the cheddar has a nice zing in the flavor.

Next, you cut your bacon into 3rds. Because I used thick bacon, I pre-cooked it a little - if I use normal bacon I just cut it raw. Also, this is the first time I used peppered bacon. And I just have to say. YES. DO THAT.

So then you take a cleaned, deveined shrimp, cut all the way down the back, as if you were going to butterfly them, but not all the way through the shrimp. Lay a pepper strip in the crack, and then a piece of cheese. Wrap in bacon and secure with a toothpick. If I was smart I'd have pre-soaked the toothpicks, because they do burn on the grill. If you use peppered bacon, pepper will get everywhere.

I dab each shrimp with a little BBQ sauce.

We had also made steaks that night, so the grill was already fired up. We put them on the pit, until the bacon is done and the shrimp is opaque. It shouldn't take long (a few minutes), and you don't want to overcook the shrimp.

If you don't like the pepper, when you take the toothpick out, you can grab the pepper by the end and just pull it out. It leaves a little flavor behind.

#12 - Green Beans - Bacon wrapped

I like fresh green beans in applications like this. I like canned green beans as a side, because I can never seem to get enough salt on them otherwise.

Green beans are not in season right now. They were kind of expensive. but worth it.

So the first thing you do, is talk to someone who knows something about green beans and ask them which end you're supposed to snap off and which end you're supposed to be allowed to leave intact. I didn't. So I cut both ends off, but I'm a rebel.

Next thing you need to do is bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Throw the green beans in for a minute. Not long. Just blanch them. Then into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Or, if you're pressed for time, you can put them in the microwave in water for 1 minute. Still need to throw them in the ice water though.

Take 4 to 5 green beans and wrap them together in bacon, secure with a toothpick. Dab the tops with BBQ sauce (again with the soaking of the toothpicks in water.)

I have done these on the grill before, but last time they didn't turn out so well, so I put them in a 350° oven for 30-40 minutes.


Clinton removed the peppers before eating the shrimp. And has tried the green beans before and didn't like them. But they are the best green beans in all the land. Landon likes the green beans, but only as an hors d'oeuvre, so he can hold a toothpick, he does not like them on his plate. And we didn't give him a shrimp, because he's not 3 yet.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Secret to Getting Good Customer Service

There's a certain phone company around these parts, they now handle our TV, Internet*, home phone, and wireless accounts. We like having all our eggs in one basket.

I have consistently had pretty poor customer service out of them when calling with any issues, and even in their store fronts, those people seem to be whacked with a stupid stick when they clock in**. I have stuck with them because I don't have to call them much, because mostly stuff works.

But I discovered through 4 customer service calls this morning, and the remembering of the final customer service call for the TV package we got. There is definitely a secret to getting good service.

I'm going to share it with you, in case you have to call BS&S***.

And please don't throw rocks at me, because I know how bad it sounds. But I also know how true it has been for me, and I will now and forever believe it.

It's this simple:

Ask to speak with a guy.

Their male customer service representatives have consistently done what their female employees said they were going to do, but didn't.

* - Why does spell check want "Internet" to be capitalized? Is "Internet" really a proper noun?

** - Actually there was one guy**** who knew what he was doing in a storefront in LJ. When we went there, I would rather have waited 30 minutes for him than get served by someone else. And he quit. And I will hate him forever for that.

*** - Pseudonym.

**** - See? GUY!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Shhhhhhhh, the universe is listening

I don't want to jinx it, so I'm just going to say: I DON'T feel a little bit better today. My throat is NOT a little bit less raw. And I certainly am NOT down to mild sore throatedness and a canker sore on the inside of my cheek that I possibly caused by biting the inside of my cheek while asleep.

Landon subscribes to the age old adage: "If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I guess that's one way to fix social security

Let the old people just die instead of treating them, because if the senate stimulus package passes? Beware that if your grandmother or mother or aunt or uncle comes down with something that the GOVERNMENT decides is not cost effective to treat? They're going to order your doctor to let them just DIE. And if they don't? If they instead stick to their hippocratic oath about, oh, I don't know, helping people? They're going to face penalties. And as they do it more and more often? They will face more and more penalties.

What you and your doctor decide to do about any given health problem? Will now also include an equation dictated by the GOVERNMENT about whether you are worth the cost or not. Good-bye experimental treatments. Good-bye advances in medical technology. Hello rising mortality rate.

Daschle actually has this to say about health-care reform: “[it] will not be pain free.” He also says that seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them. WHAAAAAT? So my friend's Dad who just had a relapse of cancer, because he's older, maybe he should just accept it and die? NO. NO. NO. So, next time my grandmother, who's 92, is admitted to the hospital, instead of having a few months of re-hab, should just? Die? Because, she might not have that long to live anyway? It's not "cost-effective"? NO. NO. NO.

If the solution is more painful than the problem? It's not a problem. Or at the very least, this CLEARLY isn't the solution. I have some ideas regarding health care reform that are far less invasive of patient rights. Here's one off the top of my head. How about having one price for one service? If you accept $20 from the insurance company for XYZ, then you should charge a non-insured person the same $20, not $40. How easy is that? I'm not saying that the government should set the prices either, I'm just saying that within any given practice, the prices should be constant.

I hope the older people in your life are healthy enough to survive this. I don't know about you, but I think it's worth an email to your congressman to tell them that you actually love the older people in your life and would prefer that your parents' doctors be allowed to treat your parents as they see fit, without government interference.

It's a slippery slope. Next they'll be telling you that you can have 1 boy or 2 children.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Don't worry, I don't have mono

I know you were totally worried about it. I apparently present with enough symptoms to test for it though. And we're back to treat the symptoms. GAH!

I've only been at work a little over an hour. Today is not going to be a good day.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Me Hoeping

(I'm Helping)

I don't even know where to start. Except maybe to start at the end and work backwards.

I'm sick again. I swear to God, if I don't get well soon, I'm going to kill someone. My lymph nodes in my neck as so swollen and my throat hurts so bad, I feel like if I still had tonsils they'd be touching each other. I'm wavering between going to the work clinic and complaining until they give me some of their nifty throat deadening lozenges and just waiting it out and seeing if I'm still sick on Friday and going to see my real doctor. The jury is still out. I think I'll probably make a decision mid morning.

Yesterday we went to buy some herbs and tomato plants. The pots were apparently in Clint's way in the garage, and had to be moved. I already had a kickin' rosemary plant, but everything else herby I had was dead. So now I have basil, sage, thyme, and flat leaf parsley. And 3 different kinds of tomatoes. We planted 2 tomatoes upside down and 1 right side up. I also have seeds for chives and dill - but I honestly don't have a lot of hope for those two - My thumb is somewhere between brown and green. If someone else got it to be like 3 inches tall, I might be able to keep it alive, but I have very little faith in my nurturing from a seed abilities.

We also put some wooden stakes in a couple plants and wrapped them in some kind of plant binding stuff to keep them growing up instead of out.

Scarlett would like to know why we let him carry that stick around.

Saturday night I got a call from the fraud prevention department at Clinton's allowance bank. Someone got his debit card number and went on a huge spending spree. Like a total of over $2000. And they're going to get away with it, while we don't have to pay for anything that wasn't ours, the bank said it's too hard to find the people who do this, so nothing will happen. We're trying not to think about the AT&T guy who was in the attic the day before this spending spree and how he may have had access to actually get a card out of one of our old file boxes. They also said that the technology is such that it could have been anyone, because all they need is the number from the card and they can make their own card.

We had Shane power wash the outside of our house and all concrete. Which is awesome. Our house, by the way, is a cream and brown color and the brick is kind of a peachy pink - not green. Who'd a thunk it?

Which brings us back to Friday, when I worked most of the day on completing something that by the time I finished at the end of the day we got an order handed down from the client, that said "no, thanks, we want to wait."

And now, I think I'm going to call the health clinic, because I'm not sure I can take this much longer.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Wannit doooown

Landon flies his first kite, and decides it would be much more fun to crash it down. Unfortunately the wind isn't cooperating in that department.

UPDATE: Ear drama seems to be over. He was like a whole new kid this morning, so 3 doses of antibiotics down, 17 to go. Of course I'm pretty sure the Tylenol had a little bit more to do with the lack of cranky than the antibiotics at this point. Bonus, since he had no fever what-so-ever, he was allowed to return to school today! And maybe the antibiotics will finish off the cough he's had for a couple weeks.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Another milestone!

Landon has his very first ever ear infection!

I'm not nearly as excited about it as I seem. Please take the exclamation point with a grain of salt.

What I'm excited about is that we made it 2 years and 4 months without one. And this one? His doctor said that it was pretty red, but not terrible. Last night he was pointing in his mouth and crying, and I thought it was teeth coming in. This morning he was able to tell his teacher that his ear hurt, and he was consistent on which ear hurt. I don't even know how you people with non-verbal children figure it out.

Totally explains the crankiness of last night and this morning!

We have drugs.

He'll be fine.

Monkey Business

When asked about the monkey on his arm, this is what Landon had to say about monkeys.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Monthly Newsletter #28

Dear Landon,

We are beginning to see your imagination bloom this month. It is nothing short of truly amazing. You are doing everything from holding two balls together and declaring them a spaceship, to picking imaginary berries and handing them out to people to eat. It’s only a matter of time before you have an imaginary friend. I had three of my own, so I will totally understand.

With the exception of a couple of cold snaps, the weather has been fairly decent, so we’ve made it out to the park a few times this month. The first time, we took the buzz light year glider. You were less than impressed with its flying ability, although true to your imagination, you decided that riding it would be totally awesome.

On our second trip, we flew a kite. When I brought the kite home from the store, your daddy was less than enthusiastic about the idea of flying a kite at all. I had no clue as to why he would have such contempt for kites. He told me that I had to do all kite related shenanigans; he would have nothing to do with it. Kites were stupid and boring.

We got to the park and I put the kite together, and began slowly letting it up into the air. The wind was just about perfect and the kite stayed up beautifully. And your daddy saw how easy it was going and quickly took over. Because that’s what he does, when he doesn’t know how to do something, he stands back and lets you do the first part, but then can’t help himself and takes over. He does it to me when I’m cooking all the time; we’re going to have to keep a close watch on him when you have school projects.

Anyway, back to the kite flying, he started by experimenting with hand movements to see what would happen, and then letting the entire 75 feet of string out to see how high it looked way up there. I won’t mention the fact that he let all the string out, but then had me reel it back in. He said flying a kite was kind of relaxing. You did hold the string for a while, but got bored, because you wanted the kite to come down and go up and come down and go up. I suggested we look for another kite, possibly one of those ones with 2 strings that you can steer. Daddy says he’s not quite ready for that yet, but we did buy him his own kite. So next time, you can both fly them.

As it turns out all the objections were because he didn’t know how to fly a kite. That releasing it slowly into the wind was the way to go, versus running with 20 feet of string and a kite hopping around banging on the ground. He thought by making me the keeping of the kite duties that he had gotten out of running back and forth on the open field for an hour and a half. I’m just glad you didn’t ask the ride the kite.

In other news, when something doesn’t go your way, the offender is “bad, bad.” And you shake your fist at them. I don’t know where you got that particular phrase, because we don’t use it. You have been known to reprimand a bird who dared to come near our stuff on the park bench. It’s funny, and yet, I don’t like you doing it to me, because I dared to make you put on pants.

Things in the not so wonderful developments department include pretend shooting. We had to have a talk about not shooting at people, even pretend shooting. When guns go off on TV, you start talking about bad guys. We have stopped watching inappropriate TV in front of you, and as a result we mostly watch Sprout or Noggin, which kind of sucks for us, but we’ll live.

Also not great, are nightmares, someone asked if you’d had any nightmares yet, I said no and of course, that night you had a nightmare – will people ever stop asking me questions that lead to disasters like this? You’ve only had one since then, but it’s reaffirmed my suspicions about the universe. The same suspicions I had when I was trying to get you to sleep through the night. So, I’m almost 100% positive that if you ever get potty trained, I will then be asked about how it’s going and you will cease to use the potty. I just know it!

Speaking of which, you did poop in the potty for the 2nd time ever. You got a lollipop for your efforts and then the next night when you wanted a lollipop, you sat on the potty and tried as hard as you could to poop, but mostly just farted. And despite your best efforts, you have not pooped in the potty again. I’m still not rushing it. You’ll do it when you’re ready.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad month.


Monday, February 02, 2009

Steek Ohs Lite Daddy

(Stickers like daddy.)

How do you convince your kid to put on a temporary tattoo?

You tell him it's a special kind of sticker, kind of like the ones daddy has on his back.

Plus, it's totally rock and roll and awesome.

I am swamped at work this week. I'll get the monthly newsletter out this week, but I can't promise much in the way of actual words worth reading on the other days.