Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Super-duper Catchup Post

Wow, what a lovely holiday break it's been so far. I've been enjoying myself so much, I've not even managed to get around to blogging about it. Until today, of course. Allow me to offer a brief summary of the past few days.

Friday
My boss let us out of work almost 2 hours early, which was really excellent of him. I swung by Gram Gram's on the way home, then Krispy Kreme and the grocery store (so I could get candy and jerky for Tom's stocking).

Saturday
We woke, cleaned the whole apartment, did laundry and washed all the dishes. (It was about 79 degrees outside and clear...yeesh.) We watched Ridicule, which was highly entertaining. We made and ate chocolate chip cookies. We opened our Christmas Eve pjs and cozied up for the annual viewing of A Christmas Carol (1951 black & white version with Alastair Sim - technically titled "Scrooge" and the only version worth watching, as far as I can tell).

Sunday
Catblogging:

Christmas Eve day, Leo sat like this at the window for quite a while. Guess he was looking for Santa.

Other Christmas Goodness:
It was surprisingly foggy when we awoke (early, due to whining cats...grr), so that was nice. :) Many excellent gifts were given and received, bacon was broiled (holy cow...er...pig...but it's so easy to make that way!), cinnamon rolls and calzones were baked, and way, way, way, WAY too much chocolate was consumed. Good gravy, I was ill. Overall though, a fine time was had by all. I got Tom Freaks and Geeks on DVD, and he got me The Lone Gunmen, so we've been working our way through episodes of those shows and enjoying them very much. :)

Monday
Did a whole lot of nothing. It was great. Ate fajitas for dinner.

Tuesday
circling little cats
about and between my feet
like wee furry sharks

Tom went back to work, so I tried to keep myself occupied. I managed pretty well. Got the first round of wedding invitations mailed, played Sims2 on the XBox (so inexplicably addictive, that game), did crossword puzzles, read, napped. In the evening we met up with Max & Agnes for dinner and beers at the Yard House and then saw The Ringer. I feel like I need to wash my eyes and scrape my insides clean after watching that movie, and that's about all I'm going to say about it.

Wednesday
Ran errands, came home, haven't done much else. I'll try to get around to posting a recipe a little later.

That's all, folks! For now, anyway. Hope everyone has had/is having a lovely break from work/school/etc. :)

Friday, December 23, 2005

Pretty Sunrise


We have had some really incredible sunrises lately. When I was driving to work this morning, it looked like the clouds behind me were on fire. Yay for Rayleigh scattering!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

(VF)RotW: Calzones

Some people make turkey or ham or lasagne for Christmas dinner; I make calzones (or, I did last year and intend to do so again this year). So in honor of Christmas, I'm re-posting my calzone recipe. Hope you enjoy. :)

Ingredients
(for 4 calzones)
1/4 cup warm water - about 110 degrees F
1 packet (or 2.25 tsp) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
4 cups bread flour (or just regular flour...I'm not really sure what the difference is)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1.25 cups cold water
1 tablespoon olive oil
Various calzone guts (veggies, cheeses, sauces, etc.)

1. Combine the sugar, yeast and warm water in a small bowl or cup, and stir. I find that a chopstick works quite well for the stirring, but a spoon's fine too.
2. Combine flour, salt and garlic powder in a large bowl, and stir.
3. Add the yeast mixture and the olive oil to the flour mixture, stir, then add the water 1/4 cup at a time, stirring until it's all pretty well mixed together and looking nice & doughy.
4. Put a bunch of flour on your hands and scrape the dough out on to a floured board. Knead until smooth, adding more flour as necessary until the dough isn't sticking to everything.
5. Place the dough back in the large bowl and let it rise, covered with a towel, at room temperature for an hour.
6. Go check email/update the blog/watch TV/read a book while the dough is rising.
7. When the hour's up, punch the dough down (this is particularly satisfying if you've had a rough day), divide into 4 balls, and let it rise again for 30 minutes.
8. Chop veggies and pre-heat the oven to 500F.
9. Roll out the dough balls to about 9-inch rounds. Slather on the sauce, spread the fillings on half of each round. Fold the plain dough half over the filled half and pinch the edges together to make bulging little pockets of goodness.
10. Cut 3-4 slits on the top of each calzone to let the steam escape. Otherwise they will explode! (Well, probably not, but I don't like to leave such things to chance.)
11. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown on the outside, gooey on the inside. Have a care when eating them, because the innards will be molten.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Hello Karma*, My Old Friend...

*Yes, I'm talking about the "popular" conception of karma, which smacks you in the face almost immediately following a transgression, and not "real" karma, which follows you from life to life instead of day to day. No correctional comments needed *coughneil5280cough* ;)

Last Tuesday, as you may recall, I played hooky from work. I justified it because I was a wee bit sniffly/congested/what-have-you, and because I wanted to burn one of my use-em-or-lose-em sick days, but I really could have gone in. One week later, I woke up with a wicked bad sore throat. You know, not the scratchy, "drink some cold water and you'll feel better" kind, but the "swollen glands, can't hardly swallow" kind. Yuck. I went to work anyway, proceeded to feel crappier and crappier over the course of the morning, and went home at lunchtime. I've been dozing (or trying to) on the couch ever since.

Bleh. I am officially karma's bitch today.

Fun with Chicken Parts

Warning buzzer blares
Bang! then something lands nearby
Ah, 'tis bird shot day

Yesterday they were doing birdstrike tests out back. This requires shooting a recently-deceased (but not frozen) chicken out of a cannon toward an aircraft windshield at a high velocity. I was walking across the plant to the other lab, when I heard the warning buzzers sound, indicating the cannon would be firing shortly. Believing myself to be well out of range for any poultry shrapnel, I kept walking. I heard the crack of the cannon, and then a couple of seconds later, a soft smack against the pavement just a couple of feet behind me. I turned around to see a leg and haunch lying on the ground. Lovely! Not out of range after all, it seems! Just glad the durned thing didn't hit me in the head.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Getting Caught Up Again

Schooooooool's out. For. Evah!

Okay, not really, but I'm done with classes until February, which is nice. I've got a month and a half to get back to reading non-textbooks. (I guess all books are text books, except of course for picture books, but you know what I mean.) First on the list is Salt, which I only barely managed to start reading a month ago before I abandoned it. I've also got Jarhead to read, The Elements of Murder to finish, and Chemistry of Explosives to browse. I'm excited!

Also, I'm finally almost caught up on all my blog-reading. I'd gotten woefully behind, but I'm current again on all but a couple of them. It's good to be back in the loop and whatnot. :)

Christmas shopping is officially completed. I'm pissed at both Amazon and myself about the fact that one of my orders (which was due to arrive today) won't be delivered until Thursday or Friday, and clever girl that I am, I included 3 of the presents for my family in with that order. Had I anticipated the delay, I'd of course have had the gifts shipped directly to the folks, but you know what they say about hindsight. Oh well. I still have other gifts to send them, which I will mail out today, but they'll have an extra gift each that won't arrive until a few days after Christmas. Que sera sera...

Five more days of work before a luxurious ten days off. I cannot wait. We're signing up for Netflix this week so we can have plenty of movies to watch during the mini-vacation. I'll accept any and all recommendations as I start building our movie request list (yes, MA, I'll definitely put Ridicule on there!).

All right, better get to work. Hope everyone has a good week. :)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sunday Catblogging: Inspector Catget


'Tis the season...for box inspection!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Requiescat in pace, John Spencer.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Holly Jolly (and all that good stuff)

Tom & I went Christmas shopping last night (and survived), and I can officially proclaim that I am now in the Christmas spirit. If I had sleigh bells, I'd ring em, and if I had a Christmas tree, you bet your ass I'd rock around it. Alas, I have neither, so I shall blog instead.

I dread the crowds associated with Christmas shopping. I love the lights, I love the crispness of the air, but god do I ever hate the crowds. The throngs of people milling about, preventing me from having the pleasant and efficient shopping experience I so desire, I could most definitely do without. Consider in addition the idiotic behavior typically associated with such crowds, and you've got a pretty comprehensive understanding of why I prefer to keep to a minimum any gift buying that takes place away from the comfort of my computer.

It is my distaste for crowds in general and the idiocy thereof that keep me as far away from WalMart as possible on most occasions. WalMart at Christmastime...the thought is nearly enough to make me break out in hives. And yet I always seem to end up there for one, soul-sucking shopping trip each December. Last night, after finishing with the rest of our purchases, Tom uttered the dreaded question:

Look, I know you don't want to, but do you think we could go to WalMart? You know, just really quick?

That I agreed to go is a testament to just how much I love that man. By the time we finally found an empty space, way out in the parking lot boondocks, my WMAS (WalMart Anxiety Syndrome) was in full force. Tom even agreed that we were in for hideousness. Steeling ourselves, we entered the maelstrom of rabid budget consumerism. Twenty minutes later we emerged, enervated but not defeated.

Okay, so it wasn't as bad as I'd anticipated, but I will say I'm glad my annual Christmas-trip-to-WalMart is done now. And I can also happily report that my Christmas spirit was only temporarily dampened by the experience, but that it's totally back now. I am a holly jolly kiddo today. :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

(VF)RotW: Risotto

Ingredients:
Arborio rice
butter
onion
red, orange or yellow bell pepper
mushrooms
vegetable broth
white wine and/or a nice amber ale (optional)
butternut squash soup-in-a-box
parmesean cheese
sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
salt & pepper


Start by chopping the veggies. I'd say use as much of each as you like, but for a general guideline, about half an onion, 1 bell pepper, and a couple of handfulls of mushrooms should suffice when making enough rice for 2 people (with leftovers).

Melt about a tablespoon or two of butter in a pan and then add 1.5 - 2 cups of rice. Saute until the rice is a nice, golden brown. Then add the wine/beer to the pan, if desired. I'm not exactly sure how much I typically use - liquid volumes are notoriously hard to guess - but I'd say pour it in until the rice is just barely floating. Once that boils back down, add your first aliquot of butternut squash soup (about a cup and a half). Add the mushrooms, salt (just a bit) and pepper, and stir the mixture until it starts to look a little dry again. Then add 1/2 cup of veggie broth, alternating thereafter between the soup and the broth (1/2 cup at a time) every time the liquid boils down again. You can't really leave risotto alone for too long or it will start to stick to the pan, so keep stirring, and every time it starts to look a little dry again, add more liquid. I usually go through about 5-6 cups of soup and broth, all told.

In a separate pan, saute the onion and pepper in some olive oil. You just want to brown them a little without letting them get soggy (which could happen if you toss them in with the rice early on).

When five cups of liquid have been added to the rice, take a taste. It should be slightly al dente (am I allowed to use that for rice, or is that a pasta-only term?) - not too mushy, but not exactly crunchy either. If it's not quite done yet, add more liquid, taste, repeat until it's right. I guess it's really a matter of preference; if you'd be willing to tuck into a bowl of the stuff, then it's ready. ;) Stir in the onion & pepper, and shake a nice layer of parmesean over the top. Stir everything up again, and then serve. Garnish with the sun-dried tomatoes.

Mmm...I haven't made risotto in a while. I think it just may be time again soon!

Sick Day

Yesterday, hooky
Called in "sick," slept in, stayed home
Today, back to work

Man, playing hooky never gets old. 'Tis the season for it, too, as the end of the year approaches, and all the salaried employees try to burn their use-em-or-lose-em sick hours. To be fair, I haven't exactly been feeling in peak health lately, so my level of guilt wasn't as high as it could have been. ;) It also didn't hurt any to have a whole extra day to work on my crime scene paper for class and finish another huge chunk of Christmas shopping (ah, blessed Amazon, a crowd hater's best friend).

Back to the grindstone, today. Check back later for the weekly recipe.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sunday Catblogging: Retroactive Monday Edition


Gah! Poofy raccoon tail and crazy eyes! That is one startled feline, if I dare say so myself.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Slacker!

I have been a complete and total slacker lately, falling way behind on my blog-reading/writing/commenting. I would say it's because I have been working extra hard on stuff for class, except I haven't. I'm not really sure what the cause of my slackification is, actually. It's a mystery. But I'm trying to shake the malaise and be interesting/interested again, so bear with me. ;)

The weekend went by far too quickly. Tom spent it working on his conference submission paper (which he finished and submitted last night! Yay!). I spent Saturday working less on my term paper than I should have. Yesterday I took my car in for an oil change, did some grocery shopping, and got a bit more accomplished on said term paper. Actually, it's not really a typical paper at all; we're supposed to put together a mock crime scene report, complete with scene sketches, evidence collection information, witness interviews, the whole nine yards. It has the potential to be a very fun and interesting project, but I can't seem to get all that enthused about it. I guess I'm dealing with burnout across the board. Oh well. I'll be able to pull it together by Wednesday (when it's due), turn it in, take my final on Saturday, and not think about school until February. That will be nice. :)

I'll put a retroactive Sunday Catblogging photo up when I get home this evening. Other'n that, hopefully I'll have something more interesting and upbeat to post before too long. Until then, go check out random detritus and read about Tom's ER experience. ;)

Friday, December 09, 2005

New Look for TotS

Felt like it was time for a mini-overhaul, what with the changing weather and the approach of a new year. I remember the last time I did this some of the colors looked weird because my monitor at work is unusually dark (causing me to pick colors that didn't look quite right on a "normal" monitor), so let me know what you think. :)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

(VF)RotW: Flautas

Ingredients:
Morningstar Farms Veggie Crumbles(TM) - 1 bag
Onion - approx. 1/4
Cheddar cheese, shredded - as much as you want
Flour tortillas
Red Pepper Flakes
Garlic Powder
Cumin
Salt
Pepper
Desired condiments (sour cream, salsa, guac, etc.)


Step one is to dice and saute the onion (medium heat, use olive oil). Add a few shakes of red pepper flakes, salt & pepper to the pan. When the onions start getting soft, add the frozen taco substance (Morningstar Crumbles). There's no need to actually cook this; just heat it up and add seasonings (garlic powder & cumin). When hot, turn the stove heat to low.

In a large pan, heat some olive oil. It's hot enough when you can toss a little piece of tortilla in the oil and see it immediately start frying. Prep your flauta by spreading grated cheese on a tortilla (over the whole thing), adding a line of taco substance along one side, and rolling up like a taquito. It helps to fold in the top & bottom ends before rolling, since it keeps the insides from falling out, but it's not necessary if you want to be a purist. ;) (I just fold the bottom end.)

Place the flauta seam-side down in the oil, and let it fry for a little while. Roll it over with tongs to make sure the whole outside is a nice and crispy golden brown. Remove from the pan and place on paper towels to remove excess oil. Add condiments as desired, and enjoy (but be careful, because it will be very, very hot). Make and eat more flautas thereafter until full. :)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Sue's Original Miscellany

This is going to be something of a Captain Random post, moving swiftly from one topic to another. I'll begin with the Tuesday haiku:

Pox on thee, Blogger
Down for most of yesterday
I could not update

Not that it matters much, since I didn't really have anything exciting to say. Just the start of another week, another 8 hours closer to 10 glorious work-free days. Boy oh boy do I need that break. How I look back with longing upon those month-long school vacations. Those were the days...ah yes.

I don't remember exactly why, but Tom & I were talking about the movie Enemy Mine, which I've never seen. Tom was describing the make-up Lou Gossett Jr. had to wear in the film (he played an alien), so I turned to trusty Google Image Search to find a screenshot. I came upon a website that featured video covers for miscellaneous SciFi and Horror movies. Browsing that page led me to what must be a horrendously campy movie, but which I suspect has the potential to be extraordinarily entertaining (in a "it's so awful it's awesome!" sort of way). I give you...Evil Town!


How could any movie go wrong with cover art like that? ;)

Our wedding invitations arrived today, and let me just say that if you want the most bang for your buck, and don't care about having fancy shmancy invites, head on over to Budget Wedding Invitations. Super cheap (100 printed invitations plus inner & outer envelopes for $30!) and better quality than I expected for the price. I am really quite pleased with them.

Final bit of miscellany for the day - I'll leave you with a quote left on the discussion board for my Crime Scene Investigation class. We were talking about the pros & cons of a national DNA database.
"Everything today infringes on privacy. But I would rather loose my
privacy then live next to a cereal rapist whom they haven't caught yet
because of some DNA technicality."
Heeeey, what's that in the Grape Nuts bo....eeewwwwww...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sunday Catblogging: Artsy Fartsy Edition


I call this one "Loki Sitting in Repose"

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Saturday Night Comedy

Ten years from now, when we're living somewhere far away from here, I don't want to look back and say, "Man, we really should have done more X while we lived in L.A." (where X is a variable representing some activity, and not a controlled substance that induces euphoria...) Ergo, every now and again we get tickets to a music or comedy show downtown. Earlier this week, I saw that Jeremy Hotz (hilarious Canadian comic) was going to be performing at The Laugh Factory tonight, so we decided to go check it out. The show was due to start at 10pm, with the doors opening at 9:30. We arrived a little after 9:00, got our tickets from Will Call, and got in line.

Waiting in line outside a club on Sunset is never a boring experience. For one thing, the limo-to-regular vehicle ratio is much higher in Hollywood than it is elsewhere. At one point, I saw 3 stretched vehicles (two "normal" limos and a stretch Hummer...guh, what a monstrosity) pass by in less than a minute. Then they kept buzzing by every so often thereafter. Only in Hollywood... There was also an array of unusual buskers - specifically, the toothless, bearded old guy singing "Brick House" & various Christmas carols and the kazoo-player who ended up dancing with a couple of radically underdressed drunk girls. Most memorable, unfortunately, was the cold and windy weather, which I am ashamed to admit was probably somewhere in the 50s; I, however, have abandoned my northwesterner toughness and become a full-on SoCal wuss, so I was quite chilly. No matter, though. The doors would be opening in less than 20 minutes, and we'd be inside the warm comedy club. Or so we thought.

Nine-thirty came and went. Soon after, 9:45 arrived and departed. Then 10:00. At 10:13, some guy from inside the club came around and claimed they would start to let us in two minutes from then. Liar. Finally, at 10:18, we were permitted inside. Our tickets were taken (we ended up getting seated in the second row!), as were our drink orders (two-drink purchase required...Tom made the astute observation that drinks cost as much at a comedy club as they do on an airplane...lame), and soon the comedy began.

First up, and host for the night, was the very funny Ruben Paul, followed by Tony Rock, Mario Joyner and Jokoy. All were absolutely hilarious (as one would tend to expect good comics to be), and we laughed until our cheeks ached. After Jokoy finished up though, that was it. Show over. No Jeremy Hotz! The whole reason we came to the show in the first place was to see him perform, and the punk was a no-show (which, in retrospect, was quite possibly the reason we were kept waiting outside for nearly an hour). Grr. It's hard to be too disappointed since we got to see a great show anyway, but still. Not cool, Canuck.

Overall though, not a bad way to spend a Saturday night. I am up waaaay past my usual bedtime, however, so it is time for me to get some sleep. Catblogging and any additional stuff I may have forgotten to mention, tomorrow.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Listen up

This week's This American Life was particularly good. Should be available to stream early to mid next week. Give it a listen.

Agnostic Like Tom Cruise?

I had a rather bizarre exchange with a coworker (M) yesterday afternoon. Neither his English nor my Spanish are really up to a level that we can understand each other 100% of the time, so we frequently end up having some amusing misunderstandings. Our conversation yesterday was about the wedding; he wanted to know what kind of ceremony we are going to have.

M: Catholic? Jewish? Baptist?
Me: Oh, none of those. It'll be a civil ceremony.
M: What, like at city hall?
Me: No, it will be outside. It's essentially the same, just not in a church.
M: You don't go to church?
Me: Nope. We're basically agnostic.
M: Ohhhhh, you're in that one.
Me: No, it's not something you're "in." Actually, it's the utter lack of being "in" anything...
M: All the rich people are in the agnostic. Like Tom Cruise.
Me: Gah! No! That's Scientology! Completely different.
M: Oh.

That's me. Agnostic like Tom Cruise. Anybody up for an audit?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Christmas Covers I Could Live Without

Actually, most covers of Christmas songs could be blinked from existence and I wouldn't get all broken up over it. This week I've been treated to a plethora of baddies on the crappy radio station they play at work. Just now, one came on that I just could not not blog about.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town - by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

Holy crap. "You'd better watch out. You'd better not cry-eee-iiiee..." Oops. Too late. My ears are bleeding, and that kind of hurts. Sniffle.