geek

One Day More...

Another day, another destiny...

We'll fast-forward to a few months later...
happy ferris
mightycentipede
Sorry! I kept telling myself that I'd update. Then I didn't. Did you miss me?

I find I'm walking a thin line with the concept I have/had for this journal. I'd like to keep the journal open to the public. However, I recognize that Big Brother is watching, so I want to keep particulars vague. Sometimes this is not possible, but I'm going to keep trying all the same.

Updates! My husband and I live in the mountains, as the last entry noted. The winter was terrifying, in terms of being an implant to the region and having to drive in such conditions. Thankfully, in a bittersweet manner, I lost my temp job as a result from not being able to drive the 45 miles to work on poorly cleared roads (mainly, but not limited to, the private path on which we reside). I didn't miss several days. In mid-January, I called out for one day and said that I'd try to be in the next day. A winter weather advisory was in effect until noon the next day, and the following morning, it was still pretty rough outside, so I said that I'd try to go in that afternoon. I was told not to worry about it, but then the temp agency called me to say that the client site needed someone who could make the trek out. Despite that, the client site still gave me a glowing performance evaluation, so it really was one of those moments of "it's nothing personal: just business." Bittersweet: no paycheck, but no need to drive in adverse weather. Thankfully, my husband earns enough to keep us afloat, and I also teach online part-time on an as-needed basis and had JUST begun teaching a class when my assignment ended.

In addition to teaching online, I am now employed working as a pharmacy technician (as of last week) and am studying to become certified. Actually... I haven't started studying yet. I did do a bunch of computer-based training before being allowed into the pharmacy though, and I'm learning a bit on the job and will learn more (I've only been in the pharmacy for two shifts). But I will do studying. In five months, I plan to be nationally certified. That way, I'm good no matter where we move, if we move. I am incredibly happy. I recognize that I have a Master's degree in counseling and that being a pharmacy technician is unrelated, but so far, I enjoy the work. I like the people who work with me. I like that when I go on my breaks and lunches, I can wander to another department and see friends and catch up. I like being sociable. When I worked at the temp job, I kept intending on catching up with friends, and I did with a few, but I lost touch with most others. Then with all of the snow, I spent a lot of time in the house, not spending time with much of anyone. So now that we're getting thawed out (apart from the freak snow yesterday that will probably melt away between today and tomorrow), I'm free to see people! My husband earns enough for us to pay the bills. I earn enough to help. I like my job. I like my co-workers. I see my friends. I am content. It is wonderful.

I've been expanding upon my baking skills. I've made three efforts to bake a cake. The local coffee shop prepared Mountain Dew cupcakes, which inspired me to bake soda-flavored baked goods. My husband and I opted for Wild Cherry Pepsi and determined that red velvet cake mix would go well with it. The first effort was a "Frankencake." I can tell you about that in further detail another time. The second cake was better than the first. It was a bit doughy, but 'twas totally edible and delicious. For the third cake, we opted for Vanilla Coke with some cherry juice. While all cakes were edible, and the third cake is by far the best of the three, I have not succeeded in capturing the soda flavor. More tests must be conducted. Also, for the third cake, I made my own cream cheese frosting, using a recipe I found on the internet (God bless Google!). It was delicious! It's actually better than the cake itself and steals the show.

As I've been doing a lot of cooking. I'm big on making lasagna as of late and learned to actually boil the noodles... Not that that's an amazing accomplishment. It's just that for the first few times I made lasagna, I was using the oven-ready lasagna noodles. I was running low on those and bought more. I finished off one box and was layering the pan when I realized opening the new box that I had bought the wrong kind. As it only set me back ten minutes, it wasn't a horrible thing. Growing up, my mom would make lasagna over two days, so I had this idea that lasagna was a long and tumultuous process. However, I did not take into consideration the fact that my mom was cooking for an army over the holidays. She had herself, my former stepfather, her five children (and eventually a couple of children-in-law and grandchildren), my grandparents, her two sisters and their husbands, and their children to feed. When I cook lasagna, I cook for myself and my husband. The entire process is less than two hours.

Oh! My husband and I celebrated six years of being a couple last month. I prepared a HUGE meal for him. At first, I was going to just do a ghettofabulous version of The Melting Pot, as the nearest one of those to us is two hours away. I was going to gather some fruit, bread, veggies, and meat to dip in chocolate and cheese. As I am unsure of how to do the fondue part with cooking meat, I was just going to cook the meat or have pre-cooked meat. Better to be safe than sorry, you know? Anyway, that was the plan. Then I thought, "Well, how about just snacks for the fondue and then have a main course?" So I called my mom while I was grocery-shopping, and I ended up with-- well, I don't want to say more than I bargained for, but it was more than I anticipated. It took a lot out of me to prepare the meal, beginning around 2:00 that afternoon and finishing up around 5:00, roughly half an hour after my husband came home. I had waiting for him chocolate fondue heated by candle (well, heated by microwave because I got impatient... but kept hot by candle), cheese fondue (heated by microwave...), various snacks to go with either (Pretzel Thins, sliced Italian loaf, assorted fruits, sliced mushrooms, Melba Snacks, etc.... all store-bought and pre-prepared), tiropita in crescent roll form (I made that), tzatziki (I made that too), potato rounds (from a bag, in the oven), chicken souvlaki (I made that) with pita bread (store-bought, oven-toasted, with spices I added), and hummus (store-bought-- goes with pita bread, Italian loaf, or Melba Snacks). I think that was everything. It took a lot out of me, and the kitchen was a wreck. But my husband loved it all and was floored by all the effort I put into the dinner.

And then last night and today, I followed an iced mocha latte recipe that I found on the back of a box of Splenda ages ago. I cut off the recipe and kept it with my coffee stuff until I one day had the ingredients and the inclination to prepare such a concoction. The first portion of it involves making iced mocha cubes, and they take eight hours to freeze. I figured it was best to do that last night so that this morning, I'd have a nice tasty iced coffee beverage. It turned out to be more of a smoothie, but it was still tasty. Incredibly messy and fought back at every turn (from smushy cubes reluctant to separate from the ice cube tray to spilling all over the counter-- the latter being due to my own clumsiness though...), but it was totally worth it. After going on about my adventure to a friend, it was suggested that I create a food blog. Maybe I'll wait on that, as this post is three months after the last one. I don't have the best track record with maintaining blogs obviously.

I suppose that's everything.

Our first winter in Appalachia begins...
izzard eyes
mightycentipede
I know that calendar-wise, it's still considered to be autumn, but the month of December welcomed us with a bit of snow. Just a couple of inches, but I'm wondering if the powers that be were unprepared because the roads weren't quite as clear on my drive home from work last night as I was told they would be.

Moving up here, the one thing I dreaded (well, aside from being even farther away from friends and family-- but visits, phone calls, text messages, instant messages, and Facebook make it easier) was the winter with all the snow and ice and the need to drive to and from work. But the locals have been saying that while there is plenty of snow out here in the winter, the roads are well-maintained. But then, I guess I can only expect so much when I begin my drives to work at dawn and my return trips at dusk. Temperatures drop, and mush becomes ice.

But I'm alive! The drive home wasn't horrible. I'm being melodramatic. But I did almost die. Not because of scary roads but because I was being a bad driver. Kinda. I got onto the interstate behind a slow-moving truck labeled "courtesy vehicle." I didn't want to be behind him because I wanted to go a bit faster (not too fast because of the inclement weather, mind you). So to change lanes, I always follow the rules of SMOG: Signal, Mirrors, Over the shoulder, Go when it's safe. I had just finished O and looked forward to get to Step G when I see that the truck before me has significantly reduced its speed abruptly. So I jerk the wheel (I know) to get to the other lane when my car does a bit of wiggling, which I don't like. I try to correct it. More wiggling. And then I mellow out (somehow) and safely get into the other lane. A lot of words, but all of that happened in the span of one or two seconds.

Ani had to be paused. I could not enjoy music after almost colliding with a vehicle on the interstate. So I had a nice cathartic scream, "Holy *expletive deleted* ape *expletive deleted* *yet another expletive deleted*, I almost died!!!!!!!" And then a bit of hysterical laughter over the fact that I didn't. Yay, life!



I got a text on my way home from a friend I've known for over a decade, saying, "I miss u. Call me?" As I wanted to get home alive, I decided it best to wait until I got home to call her. And so I did. And then we talked for an hour and a half! I only got off the phone because I felt I was neglecting my husband. And because I hadn't eaten. It was good to reminisce about the good ol' days, talk about current events in our lives, share our war stories about our old estranged gallbladders, vent about people that are mostly behind us, and laugh about an epic battle between two cats (YouTube has everything). It was good to reconnect. I've missed her.

And in other news, I'm starting up a for-realsies website for my photography, and one of my homies is gonna doll it up for free (or maybe it was for cheap? either way, I'm down) to beef up her web design portfolio. I was inspired by www.iwanttodrawacatforyou.com. If that man can sell his drawings for $10 apiece, then my photography should be successful. Of course, he has a silly marketing technique. I almost bought one of those crappy cat drawings because I'm a fan of the silly. Best of luck to that man.

Clever title encompassing the topics below: Thanksgiving and my need to expel geeky children
mal happy
mightycentipede
I swear there's more to my life than pies. But as I made such a big to-do about the pies I made for Thanksgiving, I figured anyone reading deserved to know that they turned out well. I still want the chai pie to be a bit more flavorful, but it was better than the second go at it, especially since the top of the pie didn't separate with the rest of it....... And the cheesecake? Wonderful. I think I'll make it more Nutella-y / chocolate-y next time around though, but the hubby said, "It tastes like a Reese's cup," which was the desired result. Success!

Thanksgiving was nice and relatively drama-free, which is amazing. Lunch with the in-laws was peaceful, and dinner with my family was anything but. We're fans of Rock Band. My family is like a dysfunctional Partridge family. I impressed my oldest brother with my mad skillzz on the Avenged Sevenfold songs I sang.

The down side to gorge-yourself holidays like Thanksgiving is the shortage of potatoes. And the overage of potato salad. Not to mention the fact that potato salad looks deceptively like potatoes minus salad. And that's evil. Very, very evil.

My husband and I spent Wednesday evening with his parents and then Thursday and Friday evenings at my mom's and drove back up on Saturday morning to avoid the bad traffic (which we did). With about an hour left of our seven-hour drive, we were greeted by snow! It was fun until my car began to skid on the exit ramp near the end of our journey. "Okay, I've had my fill of snow." It's our first winter in the mountains, and it's not even winter yet. I think we should invest in a flamethrower. But the hubby says, "No, sweetie. We need a permit for that." Pssh.

Hmm, what else....

What's up with everyone having babies? My sociobiological clock is going crazy. One of my co-workers brought her six year-old son to work with her last week, and he was absolutely adorable and sent my oxytocin levels through the roof. The kid rambled about some racing game he has for the Nintendo DS and was going to teach me how to play it, but then he got distracted by himself and poured out Star Wars figurines on my desk to play with, saying, "These are mostly my dad's, but some are mine." That's some trust his father has in him. He starts introducing me to R2D2 and asks, "Remember in the first Star Wars movie when Luke is just a kid and R2 and C3PO are on a ship and go to the desert and go the wrong way and R2 falls down? *tips R2D2 over*" Then he went on about the "Clown Wars" movie. And THEN he introduced me to Darth Vader. "This is Anakin. His face is all burnt. But then you can put his helmet on like this, and he's Darth Vader. And he's all 'Nooo!' because he killed Princess Le-- no. Um." "Padme?" "Yeah. Her. And this here's Bubble Fett. I don't like Bubble Fett."

My husband is a super geek (and I'm rather geeky myself). This would be our kid. And this is why we need to have kids. Like. Now.

And now I leave you with this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/interactive/2010/nov/29/leslie-nielsen-random-quote-generator

Noms
just dance
mightycentipede

Over the weekend, the hubby and I met with a couple of friends in Staunton, VA to watch plays at the American Shakespeare Center. I've started meeting up with friends each time they go (I missed the summer trip though), and it's fun to catch up, absorb a bit of culture, and take in the scenery of the historic part of town. The shutterbug in me loves running around and photographing buildings. Although I had fun, the weekend felt a bit rushed (I suppose that's how it always goes though), and I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I have in the past (most were snapshots of friends rather than artsy photographs. So still nice). There's always next time, which I find comfort in knowing.

The chai pumpkin pie was.... okay. I'm told I'm being too hard on myself about it, which is not unlike me. The guys said it was good and cleaned their plates to further indicate this, but after having tasted the first pie I made (which was an easy ready-made mix), I found pie #2 to be bland in comparison. After consulting with one of my home fries, I decided to add ginger and cloves to Chai Pumpkin Pie #3, which I made last night.

 

I still had excess pie mix (I ended up throwing out the excess from last Thursday because I could not find tiny pie shells, and my mom had said that the mix only lasts a couple of days), so I've saved the excess from last night and am taking it home for the mah-in-law to see what ideas and means she has. I made sure not to try to make the super pie, so no mess. I also took the pie out of the oven about 8-10 minutes sooner (I used the kitchen timer on the microwave and stopped it briefly to microwave chocolate chips for a cheesecake I was making and then forgot to set the timer back right away, so the time is an approximation).



So the pie looked quite nice after taking it out of the oven, versus the awful burnt-cheese-toast look that pie #2 had (see previous entry).

So yeah. Made a cheesecake last night too. I'm all about making desserts lately. Chai Pumpkin Pie #3 is for my family's Thanksgiving dinner. I was initially going to have chai pumpkin pies for both families' Thanksgiving meals, but as the in-laws were in town a couple of weeks ago and partook of my first go with the pie, I figured I'd let them try my first effort at a peanut butter / chocolate (Nutella really) cheesecake. I made a Nutella cheesecake over the summer, following directions from a recipe that my mother-in-law found online. So when I bought ingredients for this cheesecake, I had that recipe in mind, with a few adjustments (like... peanut butter. AND CHOCOLATE CHIPS).

While Chai Pumpkin Pie #3 was in the oven, I decided to get started on the the PB&N Hybrid Cheesecake when it dawned on me that as it's been 4ish months since I made the Nutella cheesecake-- and since that was the only time I'd ever made a cheesecake, I kind of forgot how to do it. To the internet! I couldn't find any cheesecake recipe that matched what ingredients I had. And I wasn't about to go to the store. So I decided to just find the Nutella recipe in my e-mails and adjust accordingly.


The recipe called for:

16 oz cream cheese (softened) -------- I used 8 oz of cream cheese and tried to estimate the difference with whipped cream, as per the hubby's request after making the Nutella cheesecake over the summer
1/2 cup granulated sugar -------- I used Splenda
1 (13 oz) jar of Nutella -------- I had approximately half a jar left, and so I used the remains there and made up the difference in JIF peanut butter (which was going to be the plan even if I had a whole jar of Nutella-- just use half)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (9-inch) prepared graham cracker crust -------- I used Oreo crust

So I mixed the 8 oz of cream cheese with the whipped cream (I used a spray of it rather than a plastic container-- I don't know how to approximate flying whipped cream, but let's say I went with six teaspoons) and the 1/2 cup of granulated Splenda. I then scooped out the half a jar of Nutella. Then I realized I'd used the only clean tablespoon for this job, and it was covered in Nutella. So I used a teaspoon for the peanut butter, and I think I got my math right. I went under the assumption that three teaspoons equals one tablespoon. And two tablespoons is one serving. And four servings was about what I needed. I think. Who knows? That's what I did though. So I had 12 teaspoons of JIF in the mix.


And that was a workout. I wonder if Julia Child could benchpress a bus. Anyway. I stirred for what felt like forever (sure, put that in your directions), and then I nuked two servings worth of Ghirardelli chocolate chips (a serving, according to the bag, is 32 chips. 32 chips is not a lot when you pour it in a cereal bowl and think, "This is supposed to be in a cheesecake." So I opted to double it.) for about a minute and poured that into the mix.


I stirred for another eternity. I wasn't pleased with the consistency, so I added more whipped cream (let's say 4-6 teaspoons) and stirred some more. Still wasn't happy with the cut of its jib, but I stirred as the recipe indicated, which was until no streaks remained. It was all one happy color of some kind of brown.


I poured it in the Oreo pie shell and tried to improve the appearance with more whipped cream. But I'm bad at that, so it still looks funny.


I'm confident it'll taste fine though. The remains in the mixing bowl were rich but DELICIOUS.

Both desserts are chillin' in the fridge until my husband and I are ready to hit the road later today. We then journey from the mountains of Maryland to the piedmont region of North Carolina and should arrive around 8-9pm. Lunch with the in-laws, followed by dinner with my family. Should be fun. I think.

Me oh my, I love pie...
happy ferris
mightycentipede

The pie did not go as planned.

I bought a can of Libby's Pumpkin Pie Filling and followed the directions (aside from using ginger and cloves).
I had a 9 inch pan.
1 12 ounce can of Carnation Evaporated Milk (in the same section as the pie filling-- for your holiday baking convenience)
Approximately 1/2 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of Splenda (I prefer it over sugar)
Approximately 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
Approximately 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice (in lieu of the ginger and cloves)
2 large eggs
And 6 scoops of chai mix bought from the local coffeeshop (because the mix called for one scoop per 2 oz. of hot water or milk-- 12 oz. of evaporated milk would make 6 scoops)

So I nuked the evaporated milk into a bowl for 90 seconds and poured it into the mixing bowl (I didn't trust the mixing bowl in the microwave). I whisked the chai mix in with the heated evaporated milk (it wouldn't mix well if not heated after all). I added the Splenda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice in the increments as noted and whisked vigorously. I then added two large eggs and whisked those, ensuring the yolks were all kinds of mushed. I opened the can of pumpkin pie filling and scooped it out with a large spoon and thoroughly stirred the contents of the mixing bowl.

I began pouring the mix into the pie crust. And then I noticed that I still had plenty left over. I have no idea why. It was almost enough for another pie (a puny one, but still). I tried to add a bit more to the pie, thinking that it would just be a SUPER PIE!

I realized the flaw in my plan as I made the seemingly long walk to the oven. The filling began to seep over the sides, and I rushed as slowly as possible (yeah, I know what I said) to a nearby counter, leaving behind a trail of pumpkin pie filling on the kitchen floor... I should have taken a picture of it, just for the silly factor. I cleaned the floor and scooped excess filling from the pie back into the mixing bowl (filling from the pie, not filling from the floor. I have some class.). This time, I had no trouble walking to the oven, but I did singe a knuckle getting the pie inside. I consider it a tiny pink badge of courage though.

425 degrees for 15 minutes. 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

I called my mom to find out what to do with the excess filling. I have no need for another pie at this time. I'm making pies on Tuesday for Thanksgiving (because Wednesday is work and journeying seven hours to see family). I have saved it and may make a tiny pie.

I checked up on the pie by peering through the glass and saw that it appeared to be sinking in the middle. D'oh. I thought, "Well, I can always add whipped cream and cinnamon on top in the center and even that out." Then near the end of it baking, it inverted. Rather than sinking, it was puffing upward. I didn't know what to do about that. The timer went off shortly thereafter, and I took out the pie to see that it looked... burnty.



The burnt-looking areas appear to be where the excess filling was. It reminds me of cheese toast. You know? That upper layer that gets burnt, but then you peel that off, and everything underneath it remains awesome? I'm hoping that's what happened here because this top layer feels kind of like that... Eesh.

I'm disappointed in the appearance obviously. I haven't tried the pie yet. I set it out for two hours and put it in the fridge overnight. We're going out of town this weekend to see friends and watch Shakespearean plays. I made the pie for the fellas because I wanted to show how awesome my pie-baking skills are (after having successfully made a chai pumpkin pie last week). I've talked up this pie for the past week and a change, so naturally, I wanted it to be flawless.

But then, my life is a comedy of errors, so it's to be expected, and it's why people love me. In that respect, the pie turned out exactly as it should have.
 



The terror that flaps in the night...
Jayne hat
mightycentipede
I sit at the front desk at work, and the boss' office is pretty much directly in front of mine. He made a phone call on speakerphone, and I cracked up when he reached the fellow's voicemail because what I heard was, "Please leave a message for.... BATMAN."

What was actually said was, "MATT MANN."

Which would explain why I was laughing alone.

So I laughed loudly and borderline obnoxiously for absolutely no reason. Hopefully the man doesn't think I'm on drugs.

Off with the Head
kaylee parasol
mightycentipede
Tonight will be my second effort at making a chai pumpkin pie. Not that my first effort was unsuccessful, but I used a can of mostly ready-made pumpkin pie mix, which is the equivalent of bowling with the bumper rails up... only I would probably fail at that.



I had a dream last night that was amazingly coherent overall-- apart from the scene where the static characters and I fought an invisible Mr. Hyde (with brief flashes of visibility, or else how would we know what we were fighting?) with proportions comparable to the role in the movie of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, only with John Cleese's face. Terrorism had once again struck our nation. Only this time, our technology was attacked. The population was in a state of panic. Looters. Riots. Chaos. People leaving their cars parked in the middle of busy highways (I don't know why. The cars worked fine. Work with me here.) and running amok. The culprits had no need to attack, as we were at war with ourselves. A line from a show I watched the other night played in my head through it all (and I'll mess it up, but this is good enough): To kill a snake, you must cut off the head. And that's what had happened.

Still, I was hopeful. I thought, "This would be a great chance for us all to start over." Technology has its good points, certainly. But it seems that we have lost touch with one another. I'm no better. My cell phone's primary usage is to send and receive messages. But in the midst of this pandemonium, I was thinking of how we had a chance to reconnect with one another.

But since my voice carries no weight, I talked to Edward Norton (because apparently in the face of disaster, he's the go-to guy and is easily accessible), who rallied up support. We were planning on rebuilding from scratch and using nifty eco-friendly manners of utilizing energy, such as solar-powered this and that. There was hubbub from that, naturally. It seemed that even at square one, we were a nation divided.

This was going to be written much, much better, but as the day has goes on, the details fade.

Scene 1. Curtain Up.
geek
mightycentipede
We meet our heroine referring to herself in the third person, in a futile attempt to make her introductory post to her new online journal more interesting. Upon further reflection, it does little good.

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