Wednesday, August 31, 2011

BRB, there's a baby to play with.

The Kid and Brian and the precious perfect baby are in town. I'll post more tomorrow. Probably.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

In which I get worked up about grammar.

I was told by a coworker today that it is “not our style” to hyphenate an entire adjectival phrase if it’s “too long.” “Too long” seems to be totally arbitrary but agreement between that coworker and another topped out at about two words.

I know this means precisely nothing to most of you, but to those of you who know what the hell I mean, let’s have a moment of silence for proper grammar. This is ridiculous. The argument, I guess, is that “it doesn’t help readability” – um, yes it freaking does; that’s the whole point – and it’s a pain for our typists to have to insert line-breaks, as our computer program sees hyphenated words as single entities. Well, coworker, the thing is, we hyphenate them because they are intended to be seen as single entities, stupid.

I am seriously way more worked up about this than is reasonable. We are a publication company. We apply rules of style and grammar to other people’s words. Unless, I guess, some of us don’t feel like it sometimes.

For anyone still reading who doesn’t know what an adjectival phrase is, it’s a group of words combined to describe a single noun: for example, “my always-ten-minutes-late friend.” Or a “city-registered electrician.” Or “banana-flavored-smoothie-hating self.” I don’t know, I’m really grumpy about this and I don’t know anyone who would possibly get this worked up, so I’m ranting to myself and can’t think of a good example.

Come on, guys, give me some hyphenated adjectival phrases to cheer me up!

Monday, August 29, 2011

I bought something off Craigslist and lived to tell the tale.

You all know by now that if there's something to be worried about, I'm there. It was in this spirit of adventure that I decided we needed a crib mattress.

See, the perfect godbaby is staying with us this weekend when the Kid and Brian are coming to town to have her saved from an eternity in purgatory, and also to eat cupcakes. We have a crib, but no mattress in it. We looked at Wal-Mart, and discovered that a super-basic made-in-China mattress runs at least $40. If you want one that is significantly less likely to be painted with lead, or made in a sweatshop, you're going to pay more. We poked around at the mall while waiting for something to be engraved (Hi Kid! I mean your baby's present!), and found the cheapest mattress to be had at the mall was at Sears, for $80, with no specifications as to firmness or make. No, thanks. We also found that the only crib mattress they had in stock at the Bon-Ton (which we wandered for, like, twenty minutes trying to find the baby section or a salesperson) was $300 freaking dollars, but it would go on sale next week for $160, so could she lock us in now at the sale price? Oh, I laughed. No, thank you.

Of course, Andy is the world's most dedicated bargain hunter, so while it was slow at work today he found a Simmons Baby Beautyrest mattress in "perfect" condition on Craigslist for $25. The original plan was for us to go look at it together this evening, but he got a last-minute phone call that our friends' new apartment is available early and could he help them move tonight? SO I got to go on my own. I texted him that if the lady on the phone killed me and made my face into a mask, it was on his head. I feel this is a perfectly legitimate fear when transacting business through Craigslist, by the way.

I got there (to a lovely, quiet, fancypants subdivision) just before 5 pm. There were neighbors out watering gardens, so at least if my car stayed there too long they might notice something. The lady came out to meet me in the garage - and it was my high-school photography teacher. For some reason, I feel much more comfortable buying a used crib mattress from someone who knows about shutter speeds and f-stops than a genuine stranger. And, keeping in line with my theory that people will give you things for free if you say you're becoming a foster parent, she threw in three crib sheets when I told her why we needed the mattress.

I'm obviously going to wash the mattress down with a bleach solution and let it air out before my perfect goddaughter gets to sleep on it, and of course the sheets are getting washed too, but I feel pretty solid about what I'm pretty sure is the first time I've bought something off of Craigslist entirely unaided.

Do you assume Craigslist strangers are murderers too? Any awesome scores off of CL in your area?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Two things to keep you busy

Today's Andy's a groomsman in a wedding, and I volunteered to be the the "last-minute fetcher of things," so the couple didn't have to worry about a bridesmaid going missing while running to the store for band-aids or whatever. So we're already up and dressed and almost ready to head out.

Here are two things to keep you happy:

1. You follow A Cup of Jo, right? Her weekend posts - like this week's - always have a delightful round-up of links. Check them out. She has a great eye for neat stuff.

2. The new video for Cee-Lo Green's "Cry Baby" stars Jaleel White. Yes, Urkel. Well, in the video he's more of a Stephan Urquel, but still. Watch it and enjoy. (It has a dance sequence that I wish I had bothered to learn for the wedding reception today.)

What's keeping you busy on this lovely Saturday?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dream vs. reality: Friday evening edition

What I am doing this evening: (Note: All pictures are google-image-search results designed to illustrate and not actual pictures of people, places, or events in my life. Duh.)
Rehearsal for tomorrow's wedding

Rehearsal dinner

Deal with Bridezilla, who seems to think I agree with her crazy
Avoid giving her too much side-eye

What I want to do tonight:
Drink cheap and delicious pinot grigio

Take a bubble bath (in a still, apparently?)
Relax with a book (Isn't this painting gorgeous?
Go to bed early.

Sorry for the most obnoxious post ever. Putting my game face - and some jeans without a hole in the crotch - on for the night.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday is looking up.

Today has done its goddamndest to bring me down, and I'm not going to let it.

Crappy: didn't get near enough sleep.

Good: Andy made coffee, and I had homemade peach cobbler for breakfast.

Crappy: Basically all of work. Two different customer issues somehow became my problem; a straightforward thing I was working was actually a giant mess in disguise; my boss doesn't understand ellipses and responds to emails with things like, "Ok.... thanks...." as the entire email, causing me to worry that she's secretly unhappy with me or my work.

Good: I'm going to hang out with my mom tonight while Andy and my dad and brother go to see the Doobie Brothers (a birthday present for my dad), and I am bringing pinot grigio and good cheese (some Jarlsberg, a nice chunk of extra-aged Beemster, and a lovely Tallegio) (I'm a cheese fan. Thought you knew.).

Extra awesome: the Kid and Brian and the Best Baby Ever are going to stay with us in a few weeks when they come to town for Amira's baptism! They were considering staying with my brother, but my sister-in-law is starting a new teaching position that week and it will be a little smoother for everyone if they just stay here. I have a lot of baby-smooshing plans, you guys.

How's your Thursday?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fostering: second home visit

We just had our second home visit with the foster lady! Naturally, I freaked out - why let all this awesome worry go to waste - and cleaned like crazy, even though I had been assured by other people in our class that they didn't look at the house at all. Late last night, Andy even hung a picture in the downstairs bathroom, because the paint on the wall in there is a little bubbled and I didn't want her to tell us we have to repaint it. She didn't, possibly because she only was in the living room and the doorway to the kitchen.

This meeting was basically a chance for our caseworker to chat with us outside of our classes. The lady we met with today is the one who will be responsible for putting kids in our home eventually, so it's important for her to know how we roll. She had our paperwork from our first meeting (with a different caseworker) and clarified some things for our file - what school district I had worked in, how long I had been on antidepressants, how long I've been off of them. She said she likes to be as thorough as possible from the outset, so if there are any questions she already has the answers. I like that.

I also felt a little relieved about having a chance to clarify some things I'd shared in class that I felt had been misunderstood a little. I've worked with kids who have been in foster care and I've seen the kinds of situations some of them get released to, and I said in class that I would find it very difficult to see a kid be removed from my (safe) home to go to a home where it might not be safe. The trainers pointed out several times that it's out of my hands, and I know that. I guess I was just voicing frustration at having seen this and eventually having it happen in my life, and I worried that it sounded like I'd try to fight against the birth parents or something. I explained to the caseworker a little about my background and I think it helped her see that I'm not, like, a crazy kid-snatcher or something, and that I want the birth parents to be successful. I just don't want them to meet the minimum requirements, get the kids back, and backslide.

She said she has all of our requirements except our physical evaluations, so I'm going to call the doctor tonight and make some appointments. After our tenth class (we're halfway done! Last night was Number Five!), she'll come out and do our final home inspection, at which point we'll need to have our sunroom painted, some shit moved away from the furnace downstairs, and that mysterious certificate of non-use about our fake fireplace. Oh, and we'll need to get a crib mattress. But she said we're in great shape and that the county doesn't have any concerns about us.

What else do you all want to know about this crap?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Unpopular opinions

I know this isn’t tumblr, but here are three unpopular opinions:

1. I cannot stand Glee. I watched the first half of the first season, and then the Rocky Horror episode, and that’s it. I don’t mind the singing, but I mind: 
  •     The completely inappropriate teacher-student relationships, and the completely inappropriate way teachers use classrooms/ the school buildings to do whatever they want. Um, not to ruin it, but that really doesn't happen, except in very rare cases that result in firings. 
  • The obvious discomfort with alternative sexualities (I KNOW KURT IS GAY, and everyone loves him, mostly, but it’s not okay to show him kissing a boy and be all OH MY GOD WE’RE EDGY but feature Santana and Brittany making out several episodes before that without anyone batting an eye. So girls kissing = sexy but boys kissing = BIG DEAL WE’RE ACCEPTING. Oh, I get it.) 
    • Speaking of: they changed “transsexual” to “sensational” in the Rocky episode. One of my close friends is transgendered, and it really, really bothers me that they acted like the word “transsexual” was a cuss, or too big a deal to say in prime-time. Can anyone explain that choice to me?
  • Absolutely zero effort to develop or maintain a storyline, ever
Go ahead and have at me, but that show is dreck.

2. I only paint my nails pink, red, coral, or black. The end. I have a hard time taking people seriously if they’re grown-ass women with nails the color of a blue-razz slurpee. I can get behind the glitter nail thing that’s happening now, as long as the main colors are pink or sliver. I’m judgy that way. I mean, your nails look great, I'm sure, but I haven't had lavender-colored nails since middle school.

3. I don’t have a single show that I have to watch. I used to see every episode of The Office, and, by default because they were on back-to-back, 30 Rock, but I haven’t seen a real-time episode in maybe ten months? We got busy, and then I remembered that I like people and I have better things to do. I’m not saying I don’t like tv, because I do. I’ll veg out with the best of ‘em. (I even hate when decorating mags suggest you hide your tv in an armoire, like that isn't going to end up with doors open and a bigger mess than just decorating around it.) But I’m not going to flake on plans or pretend I’m busy so I can watch tv. (Note: This item brought to you by the fact that a chick whose tumblr I read confessed that she cancelled a date to watch Gilmore Girls, mixed in with posts about being lonely and a cat lady and stuff. Huh.) This one is especially awesome because I got a postcard today telling me that we've been selected to be a Nielsen family this year! My stats ain't gonna help, guys!

What unpopular opinions do you hold dear?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Food, Inc.

So I know I'm tardy to the party and that 90% of the free world has already seen Food, Inc., but if you haven't, get on that, soon.

It's a documentary by the guy who wrote Fast Food Nation, and it's pretty eye-opening in the same way. We all know that the food industry in this country is fucked six ways till Sunday, but seeing this shit laid out in black and white is pretty crazy. For example, 80% of the beef in this county is raised by companies owned by the four major food distributors.

I'm fortunate enough to be able to afford our CSA, which has kept us supplied with fruits and veggies and will continue to do so through October. I've got plans with a friend who owns a pressure canner to tackle a bushel of tomatoes, so we don't have to keep buying canned ones (which, incidentally, are stored in cans that are lined with a substance that leaches BPA into the tomatoes). I can afford local meat on occasion, as long as we don't eat it constantly, which we shouldn't anyway. But the poorest people in this country are the ones who can only afford the crappiest foods. Eating right is freaking expensive, and your money will get you a lot more calories per dollar if you buy shitty food.

Shit needs to change, y'all. The government needs to stop subsidizing the shit that is making people fat and unhealthy and start subsidizing the things we should be eating. How can we make this happen?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hooray for weekends!

I would estimate that I'm in a great mood on Friday evenings 96% of the time. Today I stopped at Borders and got two books on clearance: Tart and Sweet, by Kelly Geary and Jessie Knadler, and Williams-Sonoma's The Art of Preserving by Rick Field and Rebecca Courchesne. They both include ideas of what to do with the stuff you've canned, which is awesome.

In a little bit we're going out for barbecue and margaritas, then maybe we'll head to a bar on the beach for a beer or two. Andy has to work in the morning, so I'll be sleeping in, watching Food, Inc. on Netflix, and reading these new books for ideas. Then I have the honor of being the first non-family babysitter for our friends' four-month-old! I get a baby fix and to watch cable while they have a date night for their anniversary. It's going to rock.

Better blogging tomorrow: I'm off to get my mess on.

What are you up to this weekend?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Compost triumph!

This post will be both short and kind of gross.

I have a black thumb. I hate the outdoors. But I really like pretty gardens. This has meant putting in plants that do well without much tending. My lavender is looking pretty great, as are the hostas and hens-and-chicks and some crazy thing we got at a nursery that was the same teeny size as all the other stuff we got but is now covered in pretty flowers and huge. The CSA thing is a compromise between wanting cheap, fresh, local vegetables and knowing that any veggies I planted would be doomed to near-immediate death.

Despite all of this, we decided to start composting instead of throwing organic scraps into the trash. The problem, as with so many of our projects, is that we started it before we really had everything lined up. We started dumping veggie peels and stuff into a five-gallon bucket in the garage whenever we thought of it, thinking we'd get an actual bin up and going pretty soon. Of course, we didn't, so we just kept adding to this closed bucket every few days until we had a five-gallon bucket of putrid rot. It was disgusting. I wanted to chuck it and start over.

We didn't, though. The internet told me that as long as it was 100% vegetable matter, it could totally be saved. We decided on a compost method that would keep things away from the dogs and wouldn't be way too much work to maintain: we use two plastic bins that have had air holes drilled in them, only one of which is being filled at a time. We dumped the disgusting bucket-o-goo into the first bin (I'm not kidding when I say it smelled exactly like vomit) onto a layer of shredded newspaper and corn husks, and then topped it with more shredded paper and some pine needles. After a few days we mixed it all up and we've just been layering shit on top as it comes out of our kitchen. I tear up any mail that has identifying details (we don't have a working shredder) and compost that, and when it looks soggy we toss in some more pine needles.

I'm really happy to report that it no longer stinks. Whenever I open it it just smells like veggies. It'll be due for another turn soon, and I'm hoping to see it breaking down.

I am not kidding that I'm happy about compost. This post is weird.

Do you compost? Are you impressed with my superhuman ability to let nature do its thing and take the credit?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's all in my head.

Andy and I went out for dinner at California Rollin', which is one of those weird sushi places that have waitresses who wear shirts that say things like "I LIKE IT RAW" and equally awful crap, plus their sushi is "creative." I prefer traditional sushi - like, the kind without barbecue sauce, pesto, or cream cheese - but Andy had a groupon (you know about groupon, right?), so off we went.

We always get the crawdad bowl as an appetizer. I never in a million years would have thought, "Oh, tempura crawdads in a sweet and spicy sauce! Let's get that!" but I tried it when some friends ordered it and now if we don't get it I feel like my night was a waste. Usually, it's 100% awesome. But tonight, some of the crawdads tasted a little... fishy. Like, I know crawdads are technically a seafood-type item, but I've never had one that tasted like it was made from fish.

So I have an overactive imagination, and now I'm pretty sure I have food poisoning. It was 78° when we left the restaurant, but of course I felt hot because I was starting to get ill. I keep burping and tasting sushi, and of course that's bad crawdads and not the 22 ounces of Sapporo I knocked back (shut up, it's a better deal to get the bigger can). Any rumblings are indicative of future puking, and not related to the fact that I had two handfuls of mixed nuts, four plums, and a peach for lunch. 

Have you ever had food poisoning? I don't think I've ever told you all this, but I went home sick from my first day at my current job with food poisoning. At ten a.m. It was awful. I puked in a bathroom that I had to have someone give me directions to, because it was my second time in the building ever. I stopped on my way home to get a pregnancy test, because why the hell was I barfing at ten in the morning, and some ginger ale, and threw up again in the bathroom at the grocery store. It was a really, really gross day. On the upside, as my work best friend pointed out to me, I set the bar really low, so if I made it to lunch on day two, everyone would be impressed!

Ugh. Now all I can think about is how those crawdads tasted a little wrong (Andy confirmed that they were a little weird, but he has a digestive system like a Komodo dragon and never gets sick from eating questionable things). And the last time I had food poisoning. And whether or not my stomach is in fact rumbling. Maybe I should have some ginger ale and lay on the couch and watch some Netflix. We've been working our way slowly through Dirty Jobs, but I don't know if suspecting I'm going to barf and watching Mike Rowe shovel poop is a good idea.

Have you ever had food poisoning? Isn't it the worst? Have you ever mentally talked yourself into being sick?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sweet canning stuff

Disclaimer: if you are my sister and you read this, you're contractually obligated to still act surprised come Christmas.

So with the eight quarts of free peaches our CSA share got us last week, we have successfully made enough peach butter to give some to everyone we love for Christmas. Andy and I decided that was an awesome idea but sort of a lame add-on: Here are some dvds and that shirt you wanted, and also some homemade fruit spread! So we've decided that our loved ones will be getting little gift baskets with peach butter and various other homemade delicious things. Andy prefers a sweet-themed basket to a mish-mash, so he shot down my idea of corn salsa. He did approve homemade applesauce (which we'll make later in the fall).

And that's where you come in. What else would you want in a basket of lovely homemade fruit-type things? Our criteria are as follows:
  • Readily available (local) in upstate NY. So, like, kumquats are out.
  • Not too sophisticated or bizarre in terms of taste. I can't imagine my dad loving blueberry-sage jam, for example. 
  • Sweet, not savory. 
Booze, fruit, and I guess nuts are all acceptable options. Kid, feel free to make a request here.

Throw 'em at me!

Monday, August 15, 2011


So the wine tour went better than I could have expected, mostly, and at my request yesterday we had a day where we didn't have a single obligation. We went to a hoity-toity, super-granola farmer's market in one of the richest suburbs of my city, and split a piece of cake for breakfast (and a $3, naturally-sourced, fair-trade, ethical-sugar-in-the-raw cup of coffee). Then we went and checked out Border's, which was a depressing wasteland playing loud country music (in an effort to keep people from browsing too long?), where a lady pretended for eleven minutes to not realize that I, too, was trying to look at the single shelf of knitting books.

Then we came home, and Andy suggested we tackle the office. I gasped.

The office, since we moved in, has been the room where things just get dumped. The door stays closed most of the time, so it's really easy to chuck stuff in there before company arrives and then just add more stuff on top. It also has bunches of drawers that end up full of bizarre, unrelated things, and a closet that a whole lot of crap, most of which we didn't use. Of late, the office has also been the room that holds all the baby stuff people have donated, which is not an insignificant list.

So we cleaned it out yesterday! Here's a picture of about two-thirds of the stuff that will be heading to Salvation Army when Andy gets home:
That's my kitchen! Please don't rob me! You'll note the circa-2001 nineteen-inch TV/VCR combo there, and its companion DVD player is perched somewhat precariously on top of a bin full of VHS tapes. There's a shower rack thing that we don't use since Andy prefers the detachable-head shower thing (I don't care, because I can't reach the thing anyway). There are something like four sets of curtains in that gigantic trash bag, most of which were here when we moved in and which we stuck in the office closet "just in case," even though we hated them. There are also two pillows, some towels we've never liked, the old bedspread from the guest room, my prom dress, four too-big sportcoats that were hand-me-downs from Andy's dad, several old cell phones, a giant vase, and some cheap cookie sheets that have since been replaced with the good shit.

I thought I had written before about our differences in keep-vs.-donate, but I just searched for a solid ten minutes and found nothing, so my apologies if you've read this before and I just can't find the post. Andy is one of those guys who wants to hang onto things. More than once, he's asked me, indignantly, "What's wrong with stuff? I like stuff!" On the other hand, I subscribe to Unclutterer. To me, if we get a new coffeemaker, we should get rid of the old coffeemaker, period. To Andy, the old one worked fine, we just wanted one that ground beans fresh, so we should keep the old one in case the new one breaks or something. He wants to have a fall-back plan for a coffeemaker. And our old TV. And a metric shitton of t-shirts. There are some things I keep around: yarn, for example, and books, and sweaters (I'm always cold, so I have a dresser that's almost entirely full of sweaters). But other than that? Out it goes! Someone can use it! We don't need it!

Andy has gotten much better about this since we bought the house, I think. When we got married, we were given several picture frames, which sat on a shelf in the office (some without pictures) until yesterday. One of them was from Andy's grandma. It was heart-shaped china with little birds and flowers sticking off it and it was really, really ugly. It went with exactly zero things in our house. But Andy's grandma died not long after the wedding, so he wanted to keep the frame, even without a picture in it, even though he was the first one to point out it was hideous. Yesterday, he agreed that it was time for it to go. Same thing with the giant crystal frame that weighed more than Pancakes that we got from our neighbor, who has since died. He seems to be realizing that getting rid of things isn't being disloyal to the person's memory, and that there are better ways to remember Grandma (or the neighbor) than shuddering every time we look at that weird thing.

I told him I've been considering selling my wedding dress. He said that was fine with him either way, but that my wedding dress is the only physical thing he's seen me be sentimental about. That gave me pause, but I think he's right. I mean, I don't need to hang onto the first set of dishes we got, because they're cheap and crappy. I don't need to keep the skirt he got me for my birthday when we started dating, because it doesn't fit and my style has evolved a lot since then. Mostly, I think things are things and people are what's important.

I don't know where I'm going with this. I guess I'm glad to be getting rid of a truckload of crap that stressed me out every time I looked at it, and I'm glad Andy didn't feel coerced into donating things he felt were important (we're good middle children and discussed it more than once). I also feel glad that we're fortunate enough to be able to replace anything that we need to, even if we don't have a backup coffeemaker.

Where do you fall on the spectrum of Spartan, no-decorations-living and better-keep-this-complimentary-mug?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Trying to stay awake.

Here is what we've been up to this week:

  • Monday: Met up with a friend I hadn't seen in months right after work, then two hours later we were joined by our menfolk for a lovely Mexican dinner at our favorite joint. Returned home around 8 to do two hours' worth of homework for foster class.
  • Tuesday: CSA errand, doggy break, foster class, after which we discovered that one of the couples in the class is planning to do this awesome program where they'll foster babies between birth and six weeks, at which point they could come to a home - like, say, ours - with parents who work full-time, as babies in our state can't enter daycare before six weeks of age. This conversation was awesome but took a while, so we got home around 10.
  • Wednesday: Art Night, which is a weekly thing where our good friend comes over and we all work on whatever respective art project we've got going. She was over from about 5:30 till a little after 10.
  • Thursday: Dinner up the street with friends at 5:30, followed by Knitting Night with the same friend we do Art Night with. Got home around 10:15.
  • Today: I'm waiting for the jars to finish in the dishwasher so I can can the second batch of peach butter, and then we're going out for birthday dinner then drinks for a good friend. Her birthday was earlier this week and also was the same day as her grandpa's funeral, so I don't feel particularly inclined to beg off tonight.
  • Tomorrow will be a fourteen-hour-long fiasco train-wreck of a combined bachelor/bachelorette party for a wedding Andy's in at the end of the month. We're going on a wine tour, which sounds great, right? Well, we leave at 9 a.m., which means our first tasting will be around 10:30, we're in a limo with 28 other people (of whom I know maybe 10), and some of these people are the sort who think bringing coolers of cheap beer to pregame the first winery is a great plan. Oh, and after we get home from the day-long, drinking-in-the-hot-sun, Rachael-will-get-heat-exhaustion-so-she-stays-sober event, there's a barbecue/bonfire at the home of the bride and groom - who are nice enough or whatever but who are not people I would typically choose to spend 14 hours with. Remind me sometime to tell you about the wine tour we went on with these people last year, which ended up with the bride starting a fight and then storming off in tears, with the groom following her. Oh, and they were our ride. Cool.
Ugh. All I want to do right now is take my pants off, eat some chips and salsa (we made salsa!), and curl up with the four books I got out of the library. Is that so much to ask?

What advice do you have on how to be a good sport for fourteen hours spent with people you're done with after two?

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    I don't smell like patchouli, though

    Ways I am becoming a weird hippy:

    • I have made my own granola. On purpose.
    • I've been washing my hair exclusively with a solid shampoo bar with natural ingredients (warning: laughably bad website, which a friend is redesigning to be paid in soap and shampoo bars).
      • I don't wash my hair every day. I rinse well, though, so I can assure you that I don't smell.
    • I've been canning stuff. Pickles, peach butter, salsa - and I have a date with a friend who owns a pressure canner to attack a bushel of tomatoes together.
    • I've switched to Tom's of Maine for my toothpaste needs. (I still use hardcore aluminum-salts-may-cause-cancer deodorant, though, because I am not down with pit stains or stink, and I can tell you that every natural-deodorant-wearing hippy I've ever met stinks by the end of the day.)
    • I use lavender Dr. Bronner's soap for myself and will likely buy a giant thing of their unscented stuff for any kid in our care.
    • I switched to all-natural lip balm a few years ago when I realized how much petroleum I was probably ingesting.
    • We are members of a CSA and buy any additional produce from local farmers whenever possible.
    • When we finish up the last of this set of eggs Andy got at Sam's, I'll start stopping on my way home from my weekly CSA run to get a dozen brown eggs from a farmer who happens to live on my route.
    • I listened to part of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, but I absolutely hated the narrator so I stopped. I did read all of Food Rules, though.
    • I compost. And recycle. Enthusiastically.
    None of these feel at all like a big effort. It's just I didn't realize the extent of how hippie-ish I'd become until pretty recently, so I started making a list. And it kept going.

    What hippy things do you do? (I'm considering starting using "natural" cleaners around the house, but don't really believe that anything will work as well as Tilex on our awful hard water!)

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    On the "gentle arts"

    I told someone yesterday, joking, that my hobbies included "domesticity." But the more I thought about it, the more that's a pretty apt description for what I enjoy doing.

    I really like baking. I made cookies for our class last night that straight-up disappeared. I'm going to make a peach cobbler later that is already making my mouth water. I'm good at baking, and I really enjoy doing it for people I care about. If I bring you a baked good, know that that is a sign that I love you. If I let you make a request, you're in for life. (My father-in-law won himself a heaping helping of scorn when I brought over a homemade pie and he chose fucking store-bought cake for dessert instead.)

    I knit, and have started spinning. I only knit things for people who appreciate what an effort it is, so not every request for knitted whatever will be met: I have a friend who requested a "shark hat," but that would take me WAY more hours to make it than it would for him to lose it, so it's not going to happen. I also am picky about what I'll knit with. I appreciate good yarn, and I'm willing to pay a little more for yarns made from smaller mills or better materials. A handknit brings me so much joy to make and to see on the intended wearer.

    I've also been having a lot of fun picturing the end design for the new kid's room. Today I switched out the old, awful curtains for the new (ish) off-white ones and tried to find non-floral sheets for that bed (we don't have any, so I get to figure out what will work best! Yay!).

    I don't really enjoy cleaning, but I do enjoy a clean home. I also secretly love to clean the bottom of our pots and pans (they're copper-bottom) with ketchup, which is some magical trick that makes them look new and also is fun.

    What domestic activities are your jam? I'm not alone here, am I?

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    One thing I love and one thing I hate

    First,  the thing I love. I never, ever thought I would get along with jeggings. I thought they were the stupidest idea ever. This is partly because I had tried on leggings a few years ago, when they were just starting to be a thing, and they were AWFUL on me. Something about the way I’m put together plus that elastic waist combined to make me look like a bunch of bread dough shoved into mangled sausage casing. Not cute.

    I bought some jeggings from Wal-Mart a few years back for part of a Halloween costume, as I wanted black pants that would tuck into the boots I was wearing (I was a pirate, because I know you’re wondering), and the jeggings were the cheapest ones to fit the bill. I did not wear them again after that.

    Then, last year for Christmas, Andy got me a pair of these Mossimo jeggings from target. They don’t have an elastic waist – they have an actual button that works, but no zipper. I tried them on, to humor him, and it was like wearing my favorite jeans if they were secretly pajama pants. I was sold. The only problem was, they were black, which limited the number of items I could wear them with. I tried like heck to find them in other colors, checking the Mossimo section any time I stopped in at Target for anything at all, then looking online, then, in desperation, scouring Ebay, all to no avail. They were discontinued, and the only ones left were in bizarre sizes. (Also, I can’t even link to them right now, because they’re “not available online” and Target’s website is among the worst in the developed world.)

    Yesterday morning, Andy and I were just hanging out reading the paper,* chatting about this and that, when I suddenly shot up off the couch. The Target ad had my jeggings in it. In blue. We were getting in the car, right now, and going to Target, where I would buy a pair in my size in every color and wash they had. Which I did. I am now the proud owner of three pairs of those beauties, and I’m going to look online to see if they happen to have any of the lightest wash available in my size. If you’re not on the jeggings train yet, try these things out. Thank me later. Move fast, though, as selection was already somewhat picked over at my Target.

    (*Note: "reading the paper" in our house means sitting on the couch drinking coffee and looking at the ads.)

    And now, to tone down all that happiness: something I hate!

    I grew up using ScottTissue brand toilet paper at home and never thought a thing about it. When Andy and I bought our house, he told me, very seriously, that he absolutely loved me, but we were going to buy better toilet paper. I thought he was being weird, like I was when I insisted on a particular brand of toothpaste or whatever, but now I see where he was coming from. We use Cottonelle, which we buy really cheap at Sam’s, like, every eight months, and it’s great.

    The fact that I’ve splurged on things I wipe on my business isn’t lost on me, by the way.

    So. My company moved, and the new location is in an office part that is cleaned and supplied by an outside company. The owners of the office park are apparently pretty cheap, because the bathrooms are stocked with single-ply toilet paper. Single-ply. Aren’t we civilized human beings? And even worse, it’s poorly made, so it shreds in my hand before I’ve even managed to rip it off the roll. It seems to be made from a new space-age material that disintegrates immediately whenever it comes into contact with moisture, which, I’ll admit, sometimes happens in a bathroom. I don’t want to be that girl who brings her own toilet paper because the free stuff isn’t good enough for her lily-white ass, but I’ve seriously considered it. The only real reason I haven’t (yet) is because I know I’d have to keep it at my desk and I’d manage to forget to carry it down to the bathroom 80% of the time.

    What do you love? What do you hate?

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    Fostering: choose your own title

    So I finally got around to sorting through the four garbage bags of baby clothes my coworker brought in for me. There is an absolute treasure trove of awesome, cute clothes. It appears that the coworker's grandbabies were the preppiest infants alive, because I stopped counting after eight teeny onesies with polo collars. It's awesome.

    I sorted the clothes into boy, girl, and gender-neutral. That way, if we end up with a baby or toddler, I'll be able to grab a bag for whichever sex the kid is, and also a bonus bag of stuff that will work either way! Hooray!

    We happened to have an extra huge tote bin thing hanging out in our laundry-room-slash-storage-area, but to get to it I had to move two huge cardboard boxes filled with crap. Irritated, I decided to just sort through those boxes already and get rid of anything I could.

    Slight detour in topic: Because we aren't going to specify if we want a boy or a girl, we're going with green to decorate the future kid's room. The room currently has my old twin bed, with my comforter from college, now almost ten years old (holy shit, right?), in reversible pale purple and yellow, and with a pretty sweet hole in the seam near the bottom. The room also has the drapes that were there when we moved in, which are awful cranberry-colored polyester, and which give the room an interesting bordello sort of glow when it's sunny. I've been bugging Andy for weeks to agree that we need a new bedspread, preferably green, and new curtains, either green or a neutral color.

    I'm sure you can see where this is going. One of the two giant cardboard boxes was from my sister when she moved from upstate New York to California a few years ago. She got rid of her twin bed, and gave us several sets of twin-size sheets and a twin-size comforter. In green. And when I put that box in the basement, I tossed in some curtains that were hanging in the living room the day we moved in to our house. They're off-white. They are what I would have picked out at the store. I found exactly what I had been imagining for the kid's room in my own freaking basement.

    I'm choosing to title this story in my head, "The Universe Provides." I also came up with several alternate titles:
    • We Own Way Too Much Stuff And Can't Keep Track of It All
    • The Laundry Room Is A Disorganized Mess
    • I Have A Terrible Memory And It's Likely I Was Picturing Those Very Items Because I See The Box That Held Them Every Week When I Do Laundry (Okay, Every Three Weeks.) And It's Some Sort of Subconscious Thing
    Either way, it's going to save us, like, $50, so that's cool, right?

    What title would you go with?

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    Hooray for weekends!

    We're kicking off the weekend in a little bit by going out for a friend's birthday dinner, and I am super pumped about it. When we get home, provided it isn't too late and I'm not too drunk, I'm going to can up my first-ever batch of peach butter, made with 8 quarts of peaches that have been hanging out in my slow-cooker since WEDNESDAY NIGHT, y'all. I am no good at spatial reasoning, so I cannot for the life of me guess what the three inches of goo in my (big and round) slow-cooker will translate into when measured in half-pints and four-ounce jelly jars, so I'm sanitizing a bunch of both in the dishwasher while we're gone and will just use what seems to make the most sense.

    As far as I know, we don't actually have much planned for the weekend itself, so I'm really hoping for a public market trip in the morning (empanada breakfast is the best breakfast) and some cookie baking. Other than that, I really want to do nothing that will require me to wear pants. Is that so much to ask for?

    Have such an awesome weekend, you guys!

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

    Important distinctions

    A. Wary vs. weary.
    1. Wary: the condition of  being cautious and/or watchful. Pronounced "ware-eeee"; rhymes with scary.
    2. Weary: the condition of being tired. Pronounced "weeeer-eeeee"; rhymes with bleary.
      • So no, you are not weary of, for example, mailing off your original birth certificate, as it's unlikely you have to do that often. You are wary of doing so, and with good reason.
    B. Loath vs. loathe.
    1. Loath: unwilling or reluctant. An adjective. Pronounced like "Los" if you had a lisp - with a "th" as in thick; rhymes with growth.
    2. Loathe: to hate or abhor. A verb. Pronounced with a "th" as in thy; rhymes with clothe.
      • So no, you are not loathe to admit something. You're loath to admit it, and no one asked anyway. Loathe is a verb, and therefore people should stop fucking trying to use it as an adjective.
    C. Anyhow vs. anywho.
    1. Anyhow: haphazard; as an interjection, "in any event."
    2. Anywho: not a word and therefore never to be used. 
      • There is no situation that calls for the use of "anywho". Ever. Don't use it. You're not Stick Stickly, and it's not 1997.
    My coworkers are professionals who work with legal shit all day, and can't be bothered to nail down these fine points. Glad to clear it up for them.

    What grammar mishaps really chap your hide?

      Wednesday, August 3, 2011

      Is this what it feels like to be rich?

      So my neighbor went to school with the guitarist from Flogging Molly. Flogging Molly played a show in a city near us last week, so our neighbor talked to his pal and got us backstage passes. For free. All access. It was amazing. It was so amazing that I almost typed that last sentence with periods in between each word, except I didn't because I have class and that's some tacky, irritating shit right there.

      I had never been backstage at a show, and had never really thought much about it. I'm not too into the whole gushing-fan routine, and I couldn't think of any other reason to go backstage. Turns out, backstage is pretty neat, especially if you have people to hang out with. Our neighbor, who is a totally awesome dude we like hanging out with anyway, met up with a bunch of his old high-school buddies who were there to support their friend and drink beer. Beer, it turns out, is an integral part of the backstage experience. There were tubs of it in a tent (Yuengling, PBR, and some shitty Blue Light). There was also water and some juice and a bottle of vodka. No one stopped me when I grabbed a water, and no one stopped me when I got bolder and grabbed myself a beer. And no one stopped me when I grabbed the next four, either.

      Which brings me to the next awesome part of being backstage: you have to share port-a-potties with a significantly smaller group. They had several banks of them set up, accessible only to people backstage. I peed several times that evening, and the only time it was at all icky was after the show, when they had changed the fence around to let people exit through an area that had been blocked earlier - so I'm going to blame the dirty proles.

      Aside from putting liquids into and taking them out of my body, I got to meet the dudes from the band, who were just hanging out, and got to stand off to the side of the stage to watch them perform. The opening band, Badfish, attracted a slightly, shall we say, higher audience (they're a Sublime tribute band, come on), and we got to get a nice little contact high from the awesome breeze over the crowd instead of standing in the searing heat in the middle of thousands of people. They put on a decent show, but nothing compared to Flogging Molly.

      I spent most of their set standing next to the guitarist's parents, and he kept coming over to make sure they were okay and didn't need earplugs or more water or anything. I also want to say that Flogging Molly, more than any other band I've ever seen (and I have been to hundreds of shows - it's what I used to spend all my money on before I bought a house) totally appreciates their audience. The singer thanked the crowd for being there at least six times, and at one point the whole band stopped and drank a toast to everyone in the audience. It was kind of awesome. At the end of the show, they left the stage to a recording of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," and invited those of us standing on the sidelines to come out on stage. There is video somewhere of me skanking like an idiot with my neighbor's son and Dennis Casey. (Incidentally, if you didn't think I was cool before now, that should just about clinch it.)

      I realized on the drive home that if I were rich, I could do that sort of shit all the time. Instead, I'm just going to obsessively monitor Flogging Molly's tour schedule and bake my neighbor cookies when they come to town.

      Have you ever had a rich-person experience without putting out the dough? Bask with me!

      Tuesday, August 2, 2011

      So busy and important.

      UPDATE: I fixed all the weird busted links. Sorry about that. But no, really, try the corn fritters.

      Tuesdays are the new busy day, so you’ll probably get a little less awesome from me on Tuesdays in the next few weeks. I have to leave work around 4, drive half an hour to get our CSA share, drive half an hour home, feed the dogs and let them out and give them a little love, and drive fourteen minutes to our classes, which start on 6 on the nose and which include having to go through a security checkpoint. So, you know, a little rushed for time. If I were a better blogger, I’d have posts set up ahead of time, but you all know that ain’t me.

      Today the coworker who sits in the cubicle right next to mine spent, oh, four and a half hours scrolling slowly through pdfs. I am not kidding. I already had a headache, and my passive aggressive response of eating a box of strawberry Nerds as loudly as I could just made my stomach hurt too. Ugh. Teeth on edge all day.

      But! I’ve been spending some slow moments reading the last year’s worth of posts from Stephanie at I Need An Adult (!) and can happily point you towards three recipes she has linked to, all of which I need in my life:

      Thai-style corn fritters (I need instruction on when to put Sweet Chili Sauce on things, so this is helpful).

      Mushroom, spinach, and asparagus pasta (I don’t even mind that the sauce is basically cream cheese thinned with milk) (ugh, and when you’re done with that, drool over the homemade ricotta. I don’t even care about making homemade ricotta but this looks so freaking good.)

      Oh, and for those of you with a sweet tooth, I’ve got you covered too: S’MORES COOKIES. Not kidding.

      Oh, and I just got home and discovered that the shirt I'm wearing should only be worn with a skin-tone bra (NOT WEARING ONE) and also that bending over to pick up the car keys I just dropped makes me feel like my head is broken forever.

      Please, for the love of everything holy, share something delightful with me.

      Monday, August 1, 2011

      Fostering: people give you stuff

      I had a whole different post started, but this is a crazy phenomenon that I want to document so I have it on record in case it stops.

      When people find out we're becoming foster parents, they give us stuff. No joke.

      We were at a yard sale a while back, looking for a crib with stationary sides. The sellers told us we could get a conversion kit, and we were all, "We know, but we're becoming foster parents, and we'd rather just get a stationary-side crib in case the county is weird about stuff." They told us, no exaggeration, six times how awesome it was that we're doing this, and then started handing us stuff. We talked them into taking some money, but they only accepted a dollar ($1! Total!) for a really cute mobile, a diaper bag, and a Boppy pillow with an extra cover.

      A coworker of mine sent an email a week or so ago asking if anyone needed a crib, and I told her we have the crib (we got it a month ago, new because no one is selling stationary-side cribs used) but still need a mattress, so if the mattress had only been used on the rare occasions her grandkid had slept over, we'd buy it from her. Turns out the mattress had been promised, but today she brought me an exer-saucer thing (in very excellent used condition), one of those mesh bathtub deals, one of those giant sponge things you use for baths when the baby is super teeny, a baby monitor, and a new carseat with two bases. For free. Wouldn't hear of taking anything for them.

      I cannot believe this keeps happening. Do you think I could parlay this into free ice cream or concert tickets?

      Anyone hand you stuff and refuse to let you pay for it? How do you handle the thank-yous?