msbabs32: (Travel'n)
Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 01:16 pm
I've been trying to learn Italian for my upcoming trip to Italy. I should be through my first pass of Level 1 of Rosetta Stone this weekend and am also looking into phrase books and a 101 book. To further my intermittent Italian immersion, I've changed the language on my iPhone to Italian last night.
Most of my apps names are still fully in English. Only the names of the native apps are in Italian. The apps themselves are in English. The platform stuff is almost all in Italian now. It's a little disorienting using my phone, almost if it's not mine. But in a week I will hopefully adjust and in a couple months be less disoriented on my trip
msbabs32: (Workout)
Thursday, June 18th, 2009 12:10 am
Descent run )
msbabs32: (Cooking)
Friday, May 1st, 2009 02:59 pm
There are ups and downs when grocery shopping with N in mind. Swanson, Campbell, Progresso - all of them had some type of soy oil or soy protein in them. Healthy Valley was my savior but 1-2 months ago they too turned on us. They started putting soy protein in their cream of Mushroom and Cream of Celery soups. I had to stop making rice bakes and casserole dishes which had become weekly staple.

I researched several "Cream of" soups until I figured out a general template )

So far I've tried celery and asparagus. The flavor is something I have never gotten with canned. After a bowl of each I poured the rest in 12 & 20 oz containers for use in future recipes. Aside from the initial chopping, the work involved with this dish is minimal.

Add 1 more thing I can do from pure scratch!
msbabs32: (Research)
Monday, April 27th, 2009 05:20 pm
Wandering Whole Foods this weekend I was perusing the produce area for healthy snacks at work, specifically fruit.  I saw the cantaloupe.   I like cantaloupe and these are already cut in half and prepared. I bought two halves and was happy. Eating one at home with only a spoon and with great ease strengthened my resolve. I took the other to work and tried to have there.  At home the cantaloupe was dispatched mindlessly. My stainless steel spoon easily sliced and scooped in one motion with only occasional  glancing. The experience was done with quickly, almost too quickly.

This was not the experience had at my desk. The plastic spoon lodged into the fruit and threatened to break.  Attempting to use more lateral forces failed as well. A plastic knife had to be employed to  get at any of the meat and it was messy.  I had to use a combination of the knife, the spoon and my fingers. It took quite some time to finish.  I almost bailed cantaloupe juice all over my desk several times. So while plastic utensils with cantaloupe is not a FAIL, I would not recommend it. No more cantaloupe at work, unless I decide to bring in a metal spoon.

UPDATE: Cantaloupe half and I did battle again at home. But this time I brought a metal spoon - and I made sure the spoon was small so it took longer....
msbabs32: (Research)
Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 11:34 pm
On my latest trip to Bed Bath and Beyond (B3) I picked up a 12oz press pot and a Zyliss food chopper. I've now used both and am fairly pleased with them.

The Press Pot (image) )
It makes wonderful press coffee and there is much less mess. When no drinking press, the size of the carafe is also perfect for microwaving and frothing cappuccinos for two. The spout keeps the milk from spilling everywhere.

The second item I bought is a food chopper, like the one you see the ShamWow guy selling )
I was skeptical at first but chopping several onions a week sent me looking for shortcuts. It works reasonably well on Onions and only okay-wise with garlic. But as advertised it was quick and brainless. However the brand I bought cost $9 and it kinda shows it. The top protective barrier doesn't stay when you are not chopping. It may get more irritating as time goes on. It's only $9 so once it irritates me enough I'll upgrade to the Cuisinart brand name.
msbabs32: (accomplished)
Monday, April 6th, 2009 04:51 pm
After a week of being deathly ill, I finally got antibiotics on Friday. Saturday I woke up early and didn't feel like death...actually I felt pretty good. One walk to the kitchen and my mood of the day changed. "What the hoary happened to the house!?!" I exclaimed. The answer of course is me in it for a week, sick and not cleaning. Piles of blankets were everywhere, so were various warm layer clothing due to my yo-yo-ing temperature. Pots for making soup filled the sink and used mugs appeared on almost every horizontal surface. Most food found in the fridge had crossed the line into bio-weapons status.
Pause, blink, blink Riiiiiight. Step one - load the dishwasher and run it. Step two - hand wash the half of the dishes that didn't fit. Step three- delouse horizontal surfaces in the kitchen & toss trash. Step four - go grocery shopping, toss trash on way out. Step six - put away groceries. Step seven - make biscuits (I like biscuits) and clean mess. Step eight - relax, enjoy biscuits and coffee for the first time in a week, and marvel at how much energy I have compared to when I'm at the mercy of some bacteria.
msbabs32: (Yummies)
Tuesday, March 10th, 2009 11:54 pm
Tonight I made scones. The times I've made it before the scones always came up kinda melty looking. I thought I over kneaded this batch (7+ folds) but it came out excellent. They rose tall with good form.  However, I can't be exactly sure which factors resulted in this.
  • "Over kneading" may have strengthened the gluten enough to hold its shape
  • Using a smaller pan and over-packing could have helped rising
  • The oven was set 25 degrees lower, which I then ramped up while baking
  • It took ~7 extra minutes to get brown on top
I guess I'll have to just play with it until I figure it out.
On the sadder side I made a buttermilk Chocolate cake from scratch last night. This was my 3rd or 4th time making this cake.  Every time I've made it it falls.  When I take it out of the oven it looks nice and tall but always cools to sadness.  Sites I have read suggested it may be no baking it long enough, opening the door or over mixing.  It's always so sad when it happens.  Does anyone have any advice?
msbabs32: (KF)
Friday, March 6th, 2009 02:22 pm
My original plan to workout was to go to Kung -Fu class twice a week, go jogging 3x a week and casual biking. Then work descended on me and told me it would stay like this for at least several months. My KF class is very progressive so working late 2 weeks in a row put me very behind and frustrated. And of course I was paying for classes that I could attend only about 25% of the time. It also meant that my jogging was being done at an uncomfortably late time for N (he worries about these things). I was stuck between an immovable rock and a hard place.

So I chose the hard - to get up an hour earlier to go jogging in the morning. The hard part of this is going to bed early enough so I can wake up to go jogging. Although I had to put my KF class on hold for a while, I picked up a Sunday weapons class instead - Bagua sword. It's not nearly as much of a workout, but I'm having a lot of fun in it. Usually I'm eating brunch at noon on Sundays, so I shifted that to a more breakfasty time. It's been going pretty well. My body's still a little confused why "getting ready" is now so vigorous, but it'll figure it out.
msbabs32: (FYI)
Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 03:59 pm
Considering that I barely use yahoo anymore (and watching it's slow demise), I've been considering moving my main email.  I hesitated for a bit because I have had this email since college.  I used it to organize my wedding, find all my jobs and register for all sorts of things.  I would have to notify everyone and still keep a close watch for a while.  It seemed like it would cause a continuity headache.  I decided to think about it over a few weeks.

I am beginning to realize that my email is not being used almost at all.  I'll go about my life keeping in touch with family & friends, touching base the outer circles of my life, planning and meeting for events and get togethers.  Weeks can pass before I check my email and then find no communications recent or forgotten.  Once upon a time  it was how everyone kept up with each other.  You checked it at least every few hours.  You knew when someone was really busy (or mad at you) when they didn't email you for after a few days.  And it was expected that you respond, even with a one word reply.  Ping for ping. 

Now, aside from work, I find myself blogging and updating various social networking sites - effectively broadcasting.  If I want/need a point to point or private conversation with someone I call them.  I used to text and IM, but then work cut off IM and texting prices went way up.  Aside from holidays and events the only things in the inbox are advertisements, update notifications and news letters.  Even party invitations are sent via evite.  So maybe I'll just keep the status quo.  But it makes me wonder, are others finding themselves using email less and less in their social life?

Leave a comment. Let me know.
msbabs32: (chirstmas)
Monday, December 22nd, 2008 06:51 pm
Disclaimer:  I haven't had the time to be present online for the last several weeks so I will be posting all my scribbles from my scratchbook over the nex few days...

No, I haven't died (although I think others thought I was close).  I've just been very busy.  Two and a half superbugs, manic shopping, insane work demands and one family holiday party later, I have survived.  I am happy to say that I am almost completely done with Christmas shopping.  I only have to aquire 2 presents once I land in H.  Assuming I can get on the plane (long story, lots of rant and for another post), but I'm 95% sure I will.  A few observations for the holiday seasons - so far:

On shopping/presents:
  • It is infinitely easier to get gifts for someone who has a casual hobby.  Casual being defined as not wanting/needing/analyzing the best products for the hobby.  People who are "totally into" a hobby are impossible to buy for.  "Rock Band" or gardening are good examples of casual hobbies. 
  • If you are making/baking things for multiple holiday events, pick one or two things that is your specialty and only make those.  This makes things easier because it reduces ingredient waste, keeps the recipe in your head and lets you get into a groove.  This year it was cheesecake.  I did the equivilant of 5 cheesecakes this season ( 2 cakes worth in cupcake form).
  • If a gift doesn't work out for this year, keep it in mind for the next one.  This way you have a back-up plan if you can't think of anything and you will have more time to coordinate group-gifts.
  • All gift certificate presents should come with a Wrapper-gift. Just something small ~$5 so the recipeints have something tactile on Christmas Day.  It makes a difference.
On Holiday Food:
  • Have No-Cook foods in the house.  You may very well be too busy/tired to cook dinner.
  • Compromise nothing in Holiday recipes.  Low fat/low carb can be done the rest of the year.
  • Well wrapped foods are a great "for everyone" gifts.
On Health:
  • An electric blanket really helps when you are sick and freezing.  You also know you are getting better when the lower settings feel "too warm".
  • Take naps when you can. They are your best defenses against getting sick.
  • Unless you're down and out ill, exercise everyday (at least 20 min) to keep your immune system going, keep yourself alert and make up for the food tips.
  • Buy at least 2 hats - one you can wear comfortably at home and one that can be worn for work.  they keep you warm when three layers of sweaters can't.

msbabs32: (food)
Saturday, November 29th, 2008 03:37 pm
Last afternoon I started to do my own Thanksgiving Dinner.  It was small, only 4 people.  A wedge of brie, crackers and pear was the appetizer until the turkey finished.  Dinner was a 12 lb turkey, garlic potatoes, mashed yams, gravy, baked spinach, asparagus and cornbread.  I forgot it takes a frigg'n long time to do T-day dinner and it will take you longer than you think.  I am forever glad for the decision to do the appetizer.  I still think its possible to get everything hot/warm to the table at once and relatively on time.  It will most likely require a choreographed cooking schedule in 1/2 hour increments.  Next time....  But the turkey turned out really good.  I just had a leftover leg and it still sung of flavor and moisture.

After dinner started the cleaning - oh dear god.  Actually it was very doable.  I started with an empty dishwasher and that helped tremendously.  First thing I did was dispatch the turkey.  I had a container for the keep and a large open trash for the toss.  I moved all the side dishes to appropriate containers and loaded the dishwasher.  After half an hour the kitchen was perfectly clean.  With the exception of the dessert waiting to be served, it looked as if T-day dinner never happened.  It. Was. *Awesome*.

I like doing big dinners.  And I think I'm finally getting good at the logistics.  I wish my place was more conducive to large gatherings.  Perhaps my next house.  Then I'll do a set of Prime Rib or I'll brave the inconceivable: a from scratch Turducken.
msbabs32: (friends)
Sunday, November 9th, 2008 01:16 am
After another battle against the clutter and yeeeaaaacchhh in my house I conquered and occupied the area of my bathtub!  It was the first soaking bath I took in like months.  To all a warning - a moment of thinking of your tub as storage may result in never seeing the inside of your tub again!  I got the whole set-up going: candles, bubbles, salts, ipod, book and notepad.  Candles are really bright for being smoldering columns of oily wax.  I was able to easily read and write.  As I lay there feeling yummy warmth surround me, I realized I have to do this on a regular basis again.