Sunday, December 28, 2008

The trauma of being off line

We were offline for 4 and half days and we survived! Of course, we turned on the computer as soon as we got home, but honestly, we were too busy to get online while we were gone. We could have gotten online, but the hotel would have charged us $9.95 (or was it $9.99?) for 24 hours. Totally not worth it since we were out and about for most of the day, not getting back in until after dinner. It was good to be disconnected for a while.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Suicide tomatoes

I enjoy watching the growth in my garden. In the spring and summer, there's enough daylight that I can check in the morning or evening, whichever is more convenient. During the winter, there isn't as much to see, which is good since I usually only have time on weekends. But, this year, I'm going out more often because of an oddity. Every few days, I find an unripe tomato lying on the ground. I wonder why they're falling off the bush. They ripen just fine in the house and are very tasty. Are they trying to escape being picked and eaten? I've taken to calling them "suicide tomatoes."

Just a few gifts

I finally got all the shopping and gift wrapping done. Seems like an awful lot considering we're not exchanging gifts with one side of the family and it is just "token" gifts for the other side. Add in a few other relatives and friends and there you have it. BTW, the bags are color coded, but I will also be adding labels to make sure Mr. Fix-it grabs the right bag for the right people.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fun times at the mall

I decided to brave the mall today. I ended up buying one last gift at a great price so it was worth the trip. I also bought a dress for my nephew's wedding, though I haven't decided if I'm going to keep it. Nothing like trying on a couple dozen dresses to make you feel like you have no style and no shape. I was desperate enough to browse the Junior dresses; not surprisingly, nothing caught my eye. But I am feeling desperate about what to wear to the wedding. Maybe I can lose five pounds in the next couple weeks and wear a dress I have the closet from a couple years ago.

The mall was crowded; people were circling for parking spaces. Almost everyone was carrying multiple bags and there were long lines at most registers so maybe people are finally shopping. Hope this bodes well for the economy.


Oh no! Gas prices are creeping up again!

Almost ready for Christmas

Just a few more cards to go. Should I brave the bad weather and take these to the post office myself?

Found some gifts in my gift closet so now I only have one more gift to buy, which I may forego since none of the stores half dozen stores I went to have what I want (yeah Dad, like I'm going to be able to find you another shirt like I bought you eight years ago...sorry, you didn't really think I got finally found the Christmas spirit, did you?). Still gotta wrap, still gotta clean house, still wanna take advantage of the sales for ME (again, no Christmas spirit)! Ack, I really do dislike the holidays.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Money musings

With the poor economy, I've really held back on my shopping these past several months. My holiday gift from work was significantly less this year, but I'm grateful to even receive the gift and have a job. And lest I get the lecture that a gift is a gift and a bonus is a bonus and should not be counted on and I'm lucky to get them, note that they are a significant part of my income and this year the two are less than what I received in 2001. Add in that my salary increase percent is usually less than what my mom gets for social security COLA and I get pretty depressed with my lack of buying power.

Friday, December 19, 2008

$1 soup

I made an incredibly cheap soup the other night. I had saved the water from cooking beans to make soup. Maybe it sounds cheap, but honestly, the water is flavorful and makes the soup creamier without adding any fattening ingredients. I had some leftover chicken bones from another dish so I simmered those in the bean water, along with some leftover chopped onion. Picked the meat off the bones, added a can of mixed veggies and some leftover cilantro, and voila, soup! I figure it costs about $2 (probably a little less) to make, so $1 per very large serving.

After so many years together, I'm finally figuring out some of our different food preferences. I like broth-based soups. Mr. Fix-it likes thicker soups. A couple of my coworkers finally clued me in that this could be cultural. Doh! I grew up with soups made with clear chicken or pork stocks. Mr. Fix-it had soups that were thick, full of pasta and beans and topped with shredded Parmesan. He loved the soup! Too bad I won't be able to duplicate it exactly.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Healthy and mad about it

Truthfully, I'm not mad, just annoyed that I had to go to the doctors (yes, plural) and have a bunch of tests done at the end of year when 1) I haven't met my deductible (which is something to be thankful for actually), 2) I don't have any more FSA money (thank goodness I have savings to pay for this), and 3) we're incredibly busy at work so it was inconvenient for me to leave early today for tests.

I passed with flying colors, but there are no answers as to what caused my symptoms in the first place. The symptoms are gone now. Should I be worried or not? This is so frustrating!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A litany of gluttony

Two chocolate balls, lasagna (made with homemade noodles), corn casserole, enchiladas, injera (Ethiopian bread), doro wat (Ethiopian chicken stew), siga alicha (Ethiopian beef dish), Ayib (Ethiopian cottage cheese), Ethiopian lentils, salad nicoise, lumpia (Filipino egg rolls), brie, other cheeses, blueberries, toasted pecans, potato salad, Fumi salad (ramen and cabbage), couscous salad, stir-fried noodles, chicken alfredo, french fry (yes, only one), chocolate pie, lemon pound cake, shortbread, lemon cookie, chocolate peanut butter ball, sugar cookies. That's not everything we had at our work potluck today, but it was all I could fit in, lol.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cookie Day

Today I joined some friends for our annual cookie baking day, a variation of the season's traditional cookie exchange. One friend generously opens her house and we all bake there. We each make a variety or two and bring home several dozen cookies. There's flour and sugar and nuts and butter and chocolate everywhere, lol, plus a line for the oven.

Each year, we get a little more organized and of course, there's a few surprises. Sometimes we bake old favorites, but usually, we try new recipes. I decided to make Hyacinth’s “Everything Cookies” from The Pioneer Woman. I heard some favorable reports from some LMers, plus favorable comments on the original cookie recipe post, so I decided to try it. Note that it isn't a cheap recipe to make, but I got over 9 dozen cookies out of it. I highly recommend using a stand mixer to mix the dough. There's no way a hand mixer could handle the dough and it sure would be tiring to mix it by hand. They are sweet and chewy (from the dried fruit), and crunchy (from the oatmeal and granola). Definitely a hit!

As I was browsing last week, I noticed an abundance of snickerdoodle recipes (was there some sort of web contest going on?) and went with this classic. Another hit!

We also had thumbprint cookies, macaroons topped with chocolate and macadamia nuts, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (a classic for us), and a couple others. This is one of few years I didn't make some sort of shortbread cookies. And I even bought a pastry blender (finally) for the event. Maybe I'll make use of it next year.

If you have a few friends who like to bake, this is a fun gathering. With a little planning, it is fun (but exhausting) day. Here are some tips if you decide to try this.
* Communicate ahead of time so you don't end up with all chocolate chip cookies or oatmeal cookies, lol.
* Have plenty of room to work. My friend borrows a six foot table for added workspace and uses her dining room table for cooling cookies (and we need all that space).
* Avoid delicate cookies or those that take more than 15 minutes to bake.
* Decide if everyone should bring their own ingredients or just their own specialty ingredients.
* If people bring their own tools, mark them so they get them back. We finally wised up and wrote our initials on our cookie sheets. Have a couple of sets of mixing bowls and measuring utensils.
* Bring lots of Tupperware to carry the cookies home.
* Have fun.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bah humbug!

Argghhhhh! I had started a post about the commercialism of Christmas and accidentally closed my browser, so poof! it's gone. :( Now I have something else to vent about, lol.

I'm not looking forward to sending Christmas cards (I want to include a photo, but we don't have any good ones of the two of us). I really hate addressing them, but I love getting them so I guess I better get going (though the reality is I probably won't be sending my cards until the 22nd). And shopping. Yuck. Black Friday really turned me off. In fact, I really haven't enjoyed shopping for the past few years. We're not exchanging gifts this year on one side of the family and are not sure about the other side. I'm just not in the mood to shop. Probably because I need to buy a new dress for my nephew's wedding and am carrying a little too much weight right now. And I doubt I'll be able to take much off in the next month.

All the cookies and candy that show up this time of year aren't welcome since I need to loose weight. I expect to see a couple pounds of See's candy in the next week (we already devoured one pound today), plus an abundance of cookies. I'm going a cookie exchange this weekend and will bring in the goodies to work so as not to tempt myself at home. Maybe we'll get some vendor gifts this year (usually we get food though sometimes we get calendars). Or maybe not with the bad economy.

I really hate the commercialism and money grab this time of the year. Shouldn't we be giving year round? Please remember to donate to the food banks in February/March. That's when they run of the food and funds from the Thanksgiving/Christmas donations. Though it might be sooner since they've gotten fewer donations this year.

If you enjoy the holidays, I salute you!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


That's what I paid for gas yesterday. You may have noticed I haven't been posting gas prices as often. That's because 1) I have another carpool partner so I've been carpooling more and 2) I drive our other car when it is my turn to drive because my carpooler is a big guy and fits better in our other car, lol.