Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I tip my High Hat to you, sir!

When my friend Remi invited me over to make cupcakes this weekend, of course I said yes. What I didn't know at the time was that she was professional status when it came to making cupcakes - especially in that she aims high. We didn't make any measly boxed cupcakes, we made gourmet cupcakes.

(When I say "we," I mean she, her sister and their neighbor Logan. I spent most of my time supervising [read: watching])

We made red velvet cupcakes from a cherished family recipe. We also made High Hats, which were mistakenly referred to as Tall Hats, Tall Boys and High Boys for the rest of the day. HIgh Hats are made in three steps. First, the rich chocolate cake. Then you make a stiff marshmallow-like substance that you pile onto the cupcake with a piping gun. After letting them set for a while, you dip the tops into melted chocolate (melting the chocolate was really the only thing I did for these cupcakes - and they still let me take some home, bless!). What you end up with is a decadent cupcake that looks like one of those dip cones from Dairy Queen. These were so good, but also very rich.

We also made red velvet cupcakes from a cherished family recipe. We made both norma-sized and mini 'cakes.It was a great time, and I'm truly grateful that everyone let me take cupcakes home even though I really only melted some chocolate and sifted the flour. JP, Michael and Kai were also grateful because they got to sample the wares that night!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Car Bought, A Car Sold

Craigslist gets a bad rap.

(For a long time I didn’t know if ‘rap’ was actually ‘rep’ because I thought it might be short for ‘reputation.’)

I’m as guilty as anyone for judging Craigslist as a little trashy. I’ve looked on their job boards here and there, but generally didn’t get too excited about anything because it seems the only jobs posted there are a little sketchy or telemarketing. (This is odd considering Craigslist is where I found my last job, which was legit and I worked there for three years.) Other than that, when I think of Craigslist I think of their adult meet-up section and their “missed encounters” section. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s an example: “You: Riding the 314 bus on Monday at 5:30. Hot, big boobs, red shirt. Me: black shirt, made eye contact with you a couple times. I’d like to see you again. Call 555-1234.” Awesome.

Anyway, I need to take back some of my negative thoughts. We have had three great car-related experiences with Craigslist in the past year.

First, that's where we found Penny the Prius. We ended up getting her in great condition for well under the price we found on Edmunds.com. The guy we bought her from was a very nice gentleman in a nice area of town who was just looking to sell the two year-old car because he bought a new car every two years. (He was buying the newest Prius, which was a good sign.)

And we just bought another new (used) car! Once again, we found it on Craigslist and went to check it out. Funny, the seller had also mentioned that you kind of run a risk when posting on the site because you might get some seedy people, but he was happy that we were legit and normal. I said I felt the same way. Anyway, we got a Highlander!

I wasn't originally nuts about the color, but Michael assured me that it's "Desert Sand" instead of gold, and now it's kind of grown on me. Michael's awesome negotiating skills once again got us the car for a steal! It's not brand new but the new buyer's inspection came back saying it was a great car. So now we have another 4 door, which was important, and we're back to having a large car in the family!

Our third great experience was selling the Solara. Michael had some great years with Sally, but it was time to trade her in. We posted on CL and - no exaggeration - after 10 minutes, Michael's phone was ringing off the hook. He was missing calls when he was talking to people. We sold the car the next day!
Overall, great car buying and selling experience. I guess when you think of all the creepers out there (who hasn't heard of people getting caught selling sex on CL?), you forget that there are normal people just like you and me on there too.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Football Fill

I watched more football this weekend than I know what to do with. I watched more football than should legally be required by a wife who doesn’t much care for watching football.

On Saturday Michael and I went to a going away party for a friend who is moving to Seattle (the lucky cuss!). We went over early so we could watch ASU play someone. Then we watched another game where Arizona was playing, then we switched over to watching a game with Notre Dame. (I was once made fun of as a child for pronouncing this “Noh-tra Dahm,” as in the cathedral. Who knew?) Don’t get me wrong, there were other activities. The menfolk had a tournament of beer pong outside, but since it was a choice between watching beer pong in 110’ (a mid-September record) heat or watching football inside while curled in the corner spot of a comfy couch with chips and onion dip, I think you all know which route I chose. Besides, there was an adorable kitten that was such a cuddler, so I wasn’t physically required to be watching the football the entire time.

Am I painting myself out to be anti-social? I wasn’t. I did give Michael some advice in a peanut-gallery-esque way (“Darling, you need to throw your pong ball with more loft! They’re killing you guys because they’re coming in at a better angle!”). I fraternized with a new couple while eating a delicious bratwurst on the edge of the pool. I sang “Ring Around the Rosy” with a friend while she danced around with her daughter. Then we talked about the possible creepy origins of the song.

Then I fell asleep on the couch during one of the football games, but I thought I’d probably gotten away with doing it secretly. Sally, owner of the house and mom to the hostess, was trying to stop Russ, her husband, from changing the channel to the Notre Dame game. “Someone else might be watching that game, or wanting to see it!” she cried. “Like who?” Russ argued, who I’d probably heard mutter 10 words total all day. Sally looked around the almost empty room. “Julie might.” “She’s been sleeping!”

So my nap hadn’t gone by totally unnoticed, it turns out. Michael at least reassured me that I hadn’t been snoring.

Sunday we watched the Cardinals play someone and the Colts play some people with cool helmets, and I know the Patriots and the Jets were squeezed in there someone. We had the pleasure of JP’s company, so I decided against retreating into a bedroom to read or craft or do anything else other than football.

So I end this blog post with a plea: Michael, I implore you, let's please do something else next weekend?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Waiting Game

There’s one thing that has been a big difference in moving from an organization with maybe 12 full time employees to one with over 100: bathroom traffic. At my old job it was pretty rare to come across company in the small 2 stall bathroom. At the new place, I don’t know if I’ve been in there yet without at least another person present. All this experience has led me to the following conclusion:

I hate the waiting-it-out game.

You know the one. The one where you go into the bathroom and there is already someone in there. There aren’t any sounds, so you know they’ve already done their business. But throughout your entire ordeal (set up, execution, reorganize) they continue to do nothing. You hear no sounds of TP dispensing, no jostling of clothing items to imply that they’re redressing, no flush, nothing. They’re just waiting for you to leave so they can continue pooing once you’re gone!

Listen, I understand the desire for privacy, really I do. I’ve done this little dance before. The problem is, this is happening to me nearly every time I go into the bathroom at this new place! The result is me feeling constantly rushed. Sometimes I like washing my hands for an extra long time because the warm water feels good and it gives my eyes a break from staring at the computer so much. This is not allowed when you have a waiting game being played. You can literally feel the desperation of your bathroom companion willing you to hightail it out of there before they let out an embarrassing noise.

And what if you’re going into the bathroom to poo? What then? Are you supposed to leave and come back at another time, at which point you will probably engage some other innocent newcomer to the waiting game? Or are you supposed to go into a stall and try to outwait the first waiter? Then there would be, like, 20 minutes of awful tense silence during which both of you make sniffing noises and both of you knows you’re just waiting for the other person to leave so you can poo in peace! What if both of you just agreed to poo at the same time? Would one of you still wait around afterwards so you didn’t face the other in shame during the hand wash?

Here’s my greatest wish, other than for me to one day sing a duet with Billy Joel: public bathrooms that are vacuum sealed and soundproof. Maybe with some classical music playing inside. I really think this would solve 80% of the bathroom-related anxiety people have.

I’m really interested in how other people handle this. Would you please answer my poll?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Softball Star

Michael joined a softball team that plays on Fridays nights. Although originally concerned that this would interfere with our raging social agenda (does sarcasm register on blogs?), its actually been nice. This past Friday I went to cheer him on.He did great - he had a hit every time he went up to bat! And made some pretty awesome catches. His team...er...well, they got annihilated. Twice. But it was still fun.

But difficult to get action shots.
And here are the two beers I was guarding in the dugout that almost got the team in trouble. Apparently you aren't allowed to drink during the games or in the dugouts or you risk forfeiture. Upon learning this, the guys proceeded to hide them when they were out in the field.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sayonara Summer

The summer is almost over, and Good Riddance, I say! I'm looking forward to cooler weather and warm sweaters and family holidays and good cookin'.

But it also means saying goodbye to summer things.(There's actually no reason why carousel rides with my nephew need to end. It's just that this picture looks so summery.)
But what does Fall mean to frozen yogurt? Will I be trading in my graham cracker and marshmallow topping for a peppermint mocha? Or will I still feel like some FroYo in the depths of our chilly 60' Arizona winter??
Maybe a mocha in the mornings and FroYo at night.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remember me?

Here's that requisite note saying that I'm sorry for my poor blogging habits lately. Going over a week without posting is the longest I've done without being out of town. Let's just say that I've been out of town mentally lately.

The stars have just been aligned for me not blogging.
  1. I've been busy. I started at my new job on Tuesday. I have a lot less down time during the day, am working later hours and at the end of the day I just don't feel like breaking out the computer again.
  2. Our one working computer at home is drawing its sad last breaths. It's slow, unreliable and putters through uploading pages. We already saved all our stuff onto an external hard drive, so now I don't want to upload any pics to this comp that could die at any moment.
  3. I've been distracted lately, oh so distracted.

Starting work. It's been a good long first week, full of learning and observing and reading. Like a huge information dump and I've been doing my best to make like a sponge. I have only one story that might be remotely interesting.

There's a tech training room where each station has its own computer. I was killing some time in between sessions and my coworker, the trainer, was checking his email on the "Instructor" computer. Since I was on a "Student" computer, I didn't have any access to the Internet, so I was considering opening a spreadsheet and just entering random information. Then my eye caught on an icon for a Typing Tutor.

After messing around with the words per minute and typing tests, I saw a button for "Typing Game." It was a lot like Duck Hunt, where a duck with a word across it would fly up the screen and you'd have to type it in before the duck made it out of sight. Simple. Tame.

The first word was "gultch." The second, no kidding, was "clitoris."

WHAT?!? How did this happen? A glitch? Did some clever student in one of the classes find a way to hack into the Typing Tutor system? Should I tell someone? Would I ever be able to prove that the word was written and not the pervy delusion of that new employee oddity? The next words were completely normal and in no way related to female genitalia.

But did I type the word "clitoris" into the computer?


Friday, September 3, 2010

Scorpion Hunting

The decision to go over to my friend Remi's new house was sort of last-minute. I was already in the east Valley checking in on my parents house to see if there was any damage after the latest monsoon. The house was fine, but a couple of the patio chairs had been blown around. Maybe you can explain to me how a chair ends up hanging by one of it's arms and isn't touching the ground. I did not place this chair like this. This is legit Monsoon effects. So when Remi texted me to come over, I made my way over to check out her beautiful new place.

The plan: have dinner. Go swimming. Eat dessert.

What happened: had dinner. Changed into bathing suits. Killed 12 scorpions. Ate dessert.

So here's the thing about Arizona desert scorpions. First, they aren't those huge black scorpions a la "The Scorpion King" featuring Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. Some babies are tiny, and even the largest one I've seen is probably only as long as my index finger. But I've heard that the smaller they are, the more deadly. Getting stung won't kill you unless you have an allergy, but the sting certainly does affect your nervous system. Also, dogs can be killed by a sting, but cats are impervious to their danger.

Here's what your typical AZ scorp looks like:As you can see, they are the perfect shade of brown to blend in with dirt, rocks, pool decks, almost all tile flooring, the favored color of carpeting ... so basically everything you might want to step on.

Now, I understand that we Arizonans like decorating in the naturally occuring colors of the desert, but this doesn't bode well when scorps are lurking out of sight in plain view.

When you live in a section of town that has been established for a long time, like Tempe or Old Town Scottsdale, you're not in much danger of having scorpions because they've been driven out. However, when you're in a newer-developed area or an area that backs up to the wild desert, you're more likely to see a few of these guys.

Well, Remi's new house fits into this "new" category, and as such has a few critters that haven't yet gotten the hint that "THEY'RE NOT WELCOME!!!"

Rem and I changed into our bathing suits and started to make our way out to the pool, but brought her blacklight flashlight and a poker out to protect us in case of scorp attack.

Let me explain another thing about scorpions. They glow in the light of a blacklight. Neon green. It's fascinating, and I have no explanation for you why they do this.

So Rem was the torch-bearer and I was the scorp poker. We started out just making sure there weren't any critters around where we wanted to set down our towels. And then that there weren't any where we were going to be walking barefoot into the pool. Problem was, in those two tasks we had already found and killed 3 scorps. I think I make this sound easy, but it really involved a lot of flashlight waving, shrill screaming, poker whacking (turns out I have awful aim)
and scorpion scampering. Those bugs are fast.

After that, we couldn't just get in the pool since neither of us could remember if scorpions could swim. (Michael later assured me that they can and do, and that they are the only insect that swims recreationally. I believed him for a little too long for my pride to admit to here.) So we walked around the edge of the pool looking for more. We came across what seemed to be a scorpion nest on a rock formation, and once I was poking away when Remi decided to shine the flashlight near out feet. There was another scorp about six inches from my foot.

In the end, we decided that only we would change into bathing suits (as little cover as possible, plus flip flops for me, ballet flats for her), to hunt scorpions and later abandon the idea of swimming anyway.

Then go inside and eat dessert still in our bathing suits.

But only after a Self-Timer Photo Shoot.

I feel I should explain this last one, most specifically that Remi does actually have a torso, she (and I) just get really into recreating our time as Scorpion Huntresses of the Sonoran Desert.

I'd say we killed about 12 or 14 scorpions in all.
Now, I hope you'll be able to see these last two pictures, but I tried to take a picture without flash of the glowing scorps. This one is already dead.

Sweet dreams!