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“Water Me Please!”

24 Jul

Some people say that if you can’t take care of a plant, you shouldn’t get a pet. But I seriously disagree.

This week SS came back from a 2 1/2-week business trip. It wasn’t until a couple days before he returned that I remembered he had asked me to tend to the plants that cover his patio.

I completely forgot. And not all the plants are forgiving.

I feel horribly guilty for killing his plants — not to mention pretty stupid that one of them actually came with the yard when he moved in 6 years ago. Apparently I am a worse plant-carer that’s passed through these walls in the past 6 years. Siiigh. I feel even more guilty, because I know I am useless with plants.

The victim!

I never remember to water plants. This is the number one reason I don’t have any. When my parents go on vacation and my dad asks me to water the plants, I always forgot. He has to leave notes around the house in places I can’t miss. And I still miss them. I am a forgetful person. I have techniques to help me remember things, but they don’t always work — and I have to remember to employ them.

This does not, however, at all imply that I could not take care of a pet. The major different between caring for a plant versus a pet, or any living thing for that matter, is that a pet will make their presence known and will damn well tell you if it’s hungry. During the 6 months that I cared for Max, I never, not once, forgot to feed him. Even when I wasn’t home: I remembered that he needed to be fed and made sure someone else could fill his bowl so he could nudge it all over the ground.

And when you compare it to having a child, well, come on now!! You can’t overlook feeding a child without bearing a painful amount of auditory torture.

Therefore, I think it’s a silly statement. I hope no one ever suggests I try keeping a plant alive before getting a dog, because clearly it’s not possible. But a dog and I would be BFFs.

Birthday Cupcakes: Semi-Successful

21 Jul

So a little over two weeks ago, while everyone in the USofA was out and about enjoying the sun on the Monday after the 4th (bank holiday for you foreigners), I was at the airport waving good-bye to my SS.

My SS is a computer programmer for an big unnamed company. And along with being so brilliant comes important responsibilities around the world. I’m not sure the travel is always necessary, but there it nothing wrong with exploiting your company for a bit of foreign face time. (See why I love him?) So for the past two weeks he’s been in Asia sharing his knowledge, eating yummy sushi and traveling to dangerous places.

SS's birthday presents!! (Yes, that is a stuffed cat!)

He comes home today. And you know what’s even better? Tomorrow is his birthday.

I took advantage of his lack of presence and planned some little surprises. For example, sitting on his kitchen table are an array of wrapped pressies. (I never wrap pressies; I use cardboard and newspaper. It killed me to BUY paper that is inevitably gonna be thrown into the garbage, but I thought he deserved at least one nicely wrapped celebration before introducing him to my ‘save the planet’ ways.)

The other part of my surprise, besides dinner reservations at a delicious place that, get this you’ll never believe it, HE’S NEVER BEEN TO … (This is no small feat people, he’s been evvvverywhere!) … was CUPCAKES!

I came up with this fantasticly creative idea to make him a variety of fun flavors. The tasting menu was as follows. (All were with chocolate cake.)

S’more Cupcakes: Graham cracker inside with marshmallow frosting
Fluffer Nutter Cupcakes: Peanut butter chips inside with marshmallow frosting
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes: Jelly-filled with peanut butter frosting
Nutty Cupcakes: Crushed nuts inside with peanut butter icing
Minty Fresh Cupcakes: Crush star mints inside with butter cream icing
Birthday Cake Cupcakes: Chocolate cake with butter cream icing and sprinkles.

Now imagine a dozen of those. Appetizing right? Yeah, well, didn’t work out as planned.

First off, I used a chocolate cake recipe that I didn’t read thoroughly until in the process of putting it together. It was a recipe for Smore cupcakes that required a graham cracker/sugar baked bottom and then a layer of cake on top. I was making just the cake part and it oddly called for “1 cup of boiling water.” I have no idea WHY it called for boiling water, but as the batter looked ace without it, I didn’t add it.

Was this a mistake? I have no idea!

What I do know is that you can’t baked crushed mint into this recipe. Instead of growing to be fluffy and mushroom topped, like the plain ones, or small and solid, like the graham cracker stuffed batter, these collapsed on themselves.

Mint-infused cupcake failure.

At this point I was losing confidence and stamina. My baking partner AAA — who was ridiculously sweet to help me bake for my SS, and is solely responsible for the icings — was her typical optimistic self, attempting to focus me on the positives — and eat her way through the failures.

The next batch I tried sprinkling the crushed mint on top mid-way through baking. This didn’t work either. They instantly went from having a healthy dome top to being sucked into the black hole of the cupcake tin. Argh. The other ones that proved uncooperative were the PB&Js. Attempting to correct my mistake from last week’s PB&J mishap (all the jelly slid to the bottom when baking), I put the jelly in half way through the baking process in hope that the bottom was baked enough to support it. I have no idea if that worked or not but they didn’t seal over on top in the way I had hoped.

There are holes in the PB&J cupcakes.

At this point I was stomping around the kitchen, spastically shaking and moaning about my baking failure. I was at a loss. Should I bother bringing any to the city for him? Should I take a few? And if I do that, should I ice them before I go? Should I bring the icing and do it tomorrow? Should I just pick up Billy’s on the way over? He has no idea I’m going to see him tonight. But even though he has no idea cupcakes were meant to be waiting for him upon his return home, I felt like I was letting him down by giving up so easily. And after 2.5 a half weeks of planning, if my surprise failed in any way it would just break my little heart.  I’m not the type to give up and, well, he knows that. So I persevered.

In the end I salvaged six that agreed with my oven. There were three S’more-themed cakes and three Fluffer Nutter, which were just turned into Peanut Butter and were iced with PB instead of marshmallow. I would have liked to decorate a few plain ones too but they grew so big, they wouldn’t fit in the carrying pan. I’m guessing the boiling water may have changed that outcome somehow.

Either way, the final product looks pretty nice.

Half a dozen delic cakes are better than none.

This also left me with a challenge. That is to master the art of baking mint into cupcakes. But in the meantime, I am definitely going to make the collapsible cupcakes again. This time in a bowl in which they can be served to guests with a big spoonful of ice cream in the middle. Yummm… now we’re talking.

As for the failed ones, they stand at home waiting to be enjoyed. And the handicapped ones, well, the ladies of the house seemed to like them just the way they were. (Seriously, this was taken like 20 minutes after they came out of the oven!)

Mint-infused cupcakes flavor-success.

Now I’m scheduling this to post just as I should be surprising SS at the airport. But if he somehow catches this post before my face, WELCOME BACK SS!! Now come home and eat!!!

“Look Marge, Only a Quarter!”

22 May

Today MJay, Triple A and I are holding a yard sale. It is the first yard sale where I’ve held a managerial position — compared to being a spectator. MJay will be moving to the far off land of Connecticut (tear), and needs to clear out some — ok, A LOT — of stuff.

So, for the past few hours I’ve been alternating between sitting in the front of my garage watching my little entrepreneur girl friend, kitted out with a fanny pack and clip board, say good-bye to all her lifelong possessions, demonstrating her Lat Thigh Stepper exercise machine, puppeteer’ing Lampchop and creating an “On the Farm Work-Out” series — so far I’ve recorded Getting Jiggy with C. E. Joe and Fundamentals of Farmland Tap — that was inspired by a pair of overalls MJay gifted me.

I only brought in about $50 — which I’ve allocated to my DR bathing suit fund… gotta try to impress the man — mostly because I feel guilty asking people to give me money for things I am otherwise throwing away. Either way, I got rid of some crap that was inhabiting my space, and MJay’s belongings are flying off the shelves. Well, except the over-priced products.

The customer base has been interesting. For me, the woman below was the highlight.

Our most fashion-forward customer wearing red fish-nets under way-too-tight denim shorts and a way-too-short black t-shirt.

In the end, we are having a blast. It’s all about the fun of spending the day with those you love. As MJay so genuinely put it: “I’m doing it solely for the company… ME and Triple A.”

ME: “Awwww seriously? We could have just hung out you know…”

MJay: “Yeah but actually doing SOMETHING together makes it more of a bonding experience!”

Thanks MJay, you are right. I feel very bonded now!

Sooooo… when does Martini night start?

1 Brit, 3 years of childhood masterbation and 10,000 teens in cowboy boots

19 May

… is what occupied this previous weekend. Now you understand why I haven’t had time to blog?

Last week SS took me to see Ricky Gervais at MSG’s theater. I became a big fan of the over-sized un-PC child during the reign of The Office. (Hence why I hated the American version for so long.) And I think Animals is one of the funniest stand-up routines ever to exist; on the same account, Politics was one of, if not the, worst. My cousin and I saw him perform at the Tribeca Arts Center in 2007 — he warmed up there the night before his MSG debut — and was mucho disappointed. He not only repeated material, but he only repeated partial bits, forcing mid-point anti-climax jokes into punchline position. Not cool.

This time around he was absolutely fab. Hilarious, disgusting and completely OTT… everything you’d expect from the sick Brit. The highlight for me was when he interpreted his childhood Sunday School book, Noah — British religious humour never fails to entertain me to the fullest. He did repeat one bit, but it was about dolphins “effin each other in the head”… a classic.

According to his blog, he seems pleased with his reviews… he writes: Picked up a nice review too. “No one specializes in outrageously bad taste quite as adorably as Ricky Gervais.” The Hollywood Reporter. One for the DVD I think.

Good job Ricky. High Five!!

————————————————————————————————————————

I spent Saturday night like any 28-yr-old girl would choose to… among tens of thousands of squealing teeny-boppers, clans of quietly depressed parents and one screeching 28-yr-old 6’5″ man, listening to the teenage goddess of love and heartbreak.

I went to Taylor Swift‘s Fearless concert.

I expected the flash back to my youth… and here’s what I picked up along the way.

1) Taylor Swift has fallen in and out of love A LOT for a 20-yr-old.

2) Her closet must look like a Disco club.

3) Her “Awe, OMG, I can’t believe a crowd of people came to hear me” look is beginning to look fake.

4) She has more energy than Max does.

5) She puts on an absolutely, fantastically entertaining show — and it is a show, not a concert, complete with video clips of interviews with her and her music’s subjects, acted out skits on stage and wanders through the audience.

What my country music-loving man friend discovered.

1) They convert all but one men’s room into a women’s room for these sort of shows.

2) The one men’s room has no line.

2) The bars have no line.

Excellent job Taylor; I’d come see you again — though next time I might bring an <18… just to fit in, ya’ know?

————————————————————————————————————————

After all the perverse testosterone- and teenage hormone-flooded energy of the last two shows, I was in dire need of some mature, classy feminine entertainment.

So I went with three lovely sophisticated lady friends to see Chelsea Handler‘s Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang tour at Radio City. It was just what I needed. We, along with thousands of mid-20s to mid-30s women, all with vodka cocktails in hand, enjoyed a quiet discussion of her recent break-up with Ted, the E!- hotshot BF from her latest book, her senile father who was apparently in the audience and her third grade masturbation habit.

She was hilarious… no, more than hilarious. She was bloody effin hilarious. Yet, I think a lot of the humor stemmed from having read and absorbed all her book material over the past few months. Every person, situation and racial joke that she threw out triggered a reference to a story from her book in my head, and I’d start cracking up before she finished delivering the punchline. There was no way she could cram the hilarity of the situations she creates for herself into a 1.5 hour stand-up routine.

What I did enjoy from both her and the opener’s bits was their outward mocking of pregnancy and kids. I couldn’t help but think, “35-yr-olds who don’t want kids? I wish every woman who’s said to me ‘You’ll change your mind later’ could have been there to witness these scientific anomalies who hadn’t been slapped with an urge to breed.” Word up sistas!

And that concludes my weekend.

It’s now Wednesday and I got things to do… it’s fancy dinner date night with SS. And as you know, dinner with SS is one of my favorite things to do. BRING IT!!

(Note: As I closed WordPress I received a text from SS with this photo and the caption: “Mmmm baby geese… Fois Gras tonight.” Never leave him alone with your pets B&Gs — unless it’s a cat; in that case you only have to worry about him stealing it.)

Day Five: Time to kiss this lemon crap good-bye!

4 May

Yeah, soooo it’s not happening anymore.

I woke up exhausted—partially because it was absolutely necessary that I catch up on the latest episode of FlashForward before I fell asleep. (Has anyone else watched? Holy crap, I’m in such anticipation this for week’s episode that I feel actual pain! I mean, you-know-who is obviously NOT going to take out you-know-who-else but if (s)he doesn’t you know (s)he’s done for… gone… history!! I’m on the edge of my seat just thinking about it… ok, back to it.)

But that didn’t explain the complete fog my brain was in. I spent an hour in front of my computer trying to come up with ‘in-depth, investigative’ questions for my 11am interview, and for an hour I stared, typed, erased, retyped and stared some more. I had a double dose of my lemon-flavored sugar water, and topped it off with some herbal tea in hope my brain would confuse it for caffeine.

No luck!

I was more brain dead than any morning-after during college graduation week. WTF??

As soon as my call was done—and I was finished acting like am bumbling fool who learned to speak English YESTERDAY—I messaged my co-worker with a request for accompaniment to Hale & Hearty.

She was hesitant—which I appreciated—not wanting to contribute responsibility for my giving up. And she wanted me to check with SS beforehand so he wouldn’t place blame on her. (I didn’t check with SS. I was going for soup whether I had accompaniment or not.)

And a half an hour later, sitting at the South Street Seaport with a fabulous view of the Brooklyn Bridge (gonna miss that effin annoying tourist trap when we move offices)…

0504001306

… I ate the best Curried Cauliflower Chickpea Tomato soup ever to exist!

Bride-to-be goes to the Kentucky Derby

4 May

Someone went to the Kentucky Derby…
Nope, not me; it was creative odds n’ ends Bride-to-Be…

Let’s Follow the Bride and her Derby Delight.
(I am having a hard time pronouncing Derby the American way; I keep wanting to say “Dar-Bee” as in the English Midlands city.)

The new color of food

29 Apr

It seemed the world was out to challenge me already. While I was not yet detoxing officially the last two days, I was on a fruit juice and water diet in prep. Yesterday, after an amazing and uplifting yoga class, I was standing outside Moe’s Mexican Grill when SS invited me to spend the night. As I turned on my heel, I thanked the god I don’t believe in for this small gift. The anticipation of seeing SS was the only thing powerful enough to keep me from getting a rice and bean bowl. (First thing I’m having when I’m back on real food!)

Little did I know, Moe’s was just the beginning.

After arriving and finishing off my dinner of Poland Spring, we cuddled up to fall asleep to some TV. What does he put on? Top Chef Masters. I have never ever watched this show before, yet the theme, coincidentally, was traditional pub fare. They ‘re-invented’ Irish Stew, Toad in a Hole, Shepherd’s Pie, Bangers and Mash, and Steak and Kidney Pie. With the exception of the kidney, THOSE ARE MY TOP FIVE FAVORITE MEALS. Well, maybe not the stew, but the others, OMG! And with that, I knew the world was out to challenge me.

Today, I arrived at work and one of the first things out of my colleague’s mouth was “birthday celebration today.” Normally our “birthday lunch” is a big ordeal, complete with a variety of food, desserts, snacks and drinks. This month it was just some cupcakes. (Budget cuts anyone?) But even so, they were Crumbs cupcakes. Siiiigh. I didn’t even go into the room; I waited to hear about the treats from my co-workers.

I’m leaving work today, and as I approach the corner I notice “Grand Opening” posted right above the door to the new Chipotle at the end of my street. I’ve been waiting for it to open for weeks… and it chose today! I rolled my eyes and silently cursed the Mexican shop (a Burrito Bowl is the second thing I’m having when back on real food!… followed by Gonzo‘s fish tacos).

It started to occur to me just how much food plays a role in my daily life, without even realizing it. My subconscious is always aware of the food that it sees, smells, wants… Now that I’ve been able to reclassify it and remove it from my routine, it’s everywhere. It’s like those heat-detector goggles that they use in crime or murder shows. The bright red/yellow/orange colors that represented body heat stand out significantly. Well, today, all the damn food establishments in downtown Manhattan were as bright as a dog in heat.

After that kind of day, I was sure when I got home I was going to walk in to Grandma’s fresh backed brownies or cheesy Zucchini pie, but thankfully she didn’t bake today.

So as a courtesy, I asked her to please refrain from any food shopping or baking or cooking for the next 12 days… to which she laughed and smirked.

Siiiigh. Is that a challenge?