Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Not sure how to title this...

Just a warning, this is going to be a blog entry that is more like something that should be in my journal. I guess it's just something I feel like I need to share. I found out today that a former coworker, friend, and guy I dated a little died of pancreatic cancer. The emotion I felt over this was somewhat surprising to me. First of all, I hadn't spoken to him in something like 9 years. (Okay, 10, but that number just sounds scary to me.) I am fully aware that any emotion or grief I am feeling is more about me than about him. Don't get me wrong, it is incredibly sad that he had to suffer  and that he died so young, leaving a wife and 9-month-old daughter behind. But, the root of my sadness is more the realization that I can die. That those I love can die, anytime, without warning. This guy lived in the Middle East for years, among terrorism and war, and didn't die then. He was in the West Bank, Beirut, Iraq...but he wasn't killed by suicide bombers; his life was snuffed out by cancer in his mid thirties. This bucks all logic, and is therefore scary. I also always felt a little bad about how things ended up with him...lots of loose ends with me not speaking to him ever again. (It helped that he lived halfway around the world, making bumping into him at Safeway improbable.) The loose ends were fine when he wasn't dead. Death kind of ties up any earthly loose ends and not in a way we always like. He was a nice guy, one of the first I knew after moving to DC, and I would have liked to keep knowing him. I have good memories and associations of him from that time in my life, in my early 20s, which seems like so long ago.


I think technology has intensified the shock and emotion. I found out about his death on someone's Facebook status update. Yeah, Facebook. And then was made immediately close to the situation through his wife's blog which detailed his illness and last days and had guestbook entries from lots of friends (including me). It's bizarre. And, here I go again, drawing you all in. Anyway, I'll leave it saying that I know Mike will be missed by his family, and I hope he rests in peace.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Happiness Is A Full Tummy & A Warm Bus

I'd just like to say how good it feels to catch the bus on a cold night within a few minutes of having spent a lot more than I should have on a restaurant week dinner.Happiness Is A Full Tummy & A Warm Bus

Happiness Is A Full Tummy & A Warm Bus

I'd just like to say how good it feels to catch the bus on a cold night within a few minutes of having spent a lot more than I should have on a restaurant week dinner.Happiness Is A Full Tummy & A Warm Bus

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Day Off Watch 2009: More Homemaking

Well, suffice to say if I am on "reduced time" or whatever they're calling it much longer, my home is going to be spic and span. I bought drapery clip rings (because I was missing a few). As it turns out, they have changed the style. So, I replaced the bedroom ones with the new ones (shhhh--there are still 4 that don't match...they're the old style) and used the old ones in the living room, which were just shirred on the rod. This led me to wash my bedroom drapes and tumble my living room ones, wash my windows, and dust. I also ironed the living room drapes. Something I never did when I first got them.


P2190003 


I also washed all my bedding and vacuumed the mattress and headboard and somewhat under the bed. This led to the "bedskirt incident."


When I first bought my bedskirt and put ribbon on it,I used iron-on tape. It all dissolved somehow in the wash (it's supposed to get stronger...). So, I am now sewing it on. There was a reason I didn't do this to begin with, namely, I suck at sewing. I'm halfway through sewing it now, and already can tell it's off-kilter, but whatever.


 P2190001 


And finally, I've baked...and ate...chocolatey desserts. I made low-fat chocolate muffins yesterday. Today, I made something better--a chocolate "lava" cake. It's a Weight Watchers recipe and is yummy. 3 pts a piece for those familiar w/ the program.


P2190002 


Here's the recipe.


Ingredients: 3/4 c. flour;  3/4 c. sugar; 1/3 c + 4 T unsweetened cocoa; 1 t instant espresso; 2 t baking powder; 1/4 t baking soda; 1/4 t salt; 1/2 c lowfat milk; 1 T butter, melted; 1 1/2 t vanilla extract; 1/3 c packed brown sugar; 1 2/3 c boiling water.


Mix ingredients through the salt in a bowl (only use the 1/3 c cocoa). Put the milk, melted butter and vanilla in a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Mix until blended, but don't over mix. Put in a 9" baking pan. Mix the remaining cocoa (4 T) and brown sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle over the batter in the pan. Carefully pour the boiling water over the batter and then bake in a 350 degree oven for about 35 min.  Remove from the oven, cool on a rack for at least 30 min. Makes 9 servings. Per serving: 3 pts, 165 cal, 2g fat; 4 mg cholesterol; 220 mg sodium; 2 g fiber; 3 g. protein; 94 mg calcium. 


Enjoy--they're better than the damn muffins I made yesterday!

Day Off Watch 2009: More Homemaking

Well, suffice to say if I am on "reduced time" or whatever they're calling it much longer, my home is going to be spic and span. I bought drapery clip rings (because I was missing a few). As it turns out, they have changed the style. So, I replaced the bedroom ones with the new ones (shhhh--there are still 4 that don't match...they're the old style) and used the old ones in the living room, which were just shirred on the rod. This led me to wash my bedroom drapes and tumble my living room ones, wash my windows, and dust. I also ironed the living room drapes. Something I never did when I first got them.


P2190003 


I also washed all my bedding and vacuumed the mattress and headboard and somewhat under the bed. This led to the "bedskirt incident."


When I first bought my bedskirt and put ribbon on it,I used iron-on tape. It all dissolved somehow in the wash (it's supposed to get stronger...). So, I am now sewing it on. There was a reason I didn't do this to begin with, namely, I suck at sewing. I'm halfway through sewing it now, and already can tell it's off-kilter, but whatever.


 P2190001 


And finally, I've baked...and ate...chocolatey desserts. I made low-fat chocolate muffins yesterday. Today, I made something better--a chocolate "lava" cake. It's a Weight Watchers recipe and is yummy. 3 pts a piece for those familiar w/ the program.


P2190002 


Here's the recipe.


Ingredients: 3/4 c. flour;  3/4 c. sugar; 1/3 c + 4 T unsweetened cocoa; 1 t instant espresso; 2 t baking powder; 1/4 t baking soda; 1/4 t salt; 1/2 c lowfat milk; 1 T butter, melted; 1 1/2 t vanilla extract; 1/3 c packed brown sugar; 1 2/3 c boiling water.


Mix ingredients through the salt in a bowl (only use the 1/3 c cocoa). Put the milk, melted butter and vanilla in a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Mix until blended, but don't over mix. Put in a 9" baking pan. Mix the remaining cocoa (4 T) and brown sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle over the batter in the pan. Carefully pour the boiling water over the batter and then bake in a 350 degree oven for about 35 min.  Remove from the oven, cool on a rack for at least 30 min. Makes 9 servings. Per serving: 3 pts, 165 cal, 2g fat; 4 mg cholesterol; 220 mg sodium; 2 g fiber; 3 g. protein; 94 mg calcium. 


Enjoy--they're better than the damn muffins I made yesterday!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Washer Solution

I figured out pretty quickly with my new washer that I was going to need a way to prop up the lid. I decided today to get a dowel rod. Alas, I went to Frager's Hardware to get one. The guy was very helpful, as they usually are. He recommended some rubber feet. What he didn't tell me, prior to cutting the 5/8" rod was that there was a $2 cutting charge. A $2 charge, for a $2 rod. So, what I thought would be a few bucks was a few more than a few. $5 total. Oh well, it works like a charm...


P2140018 


 

Washer Solution

I figured out pretty quickly with my new washer that I was going to need a way to prop up the lid. I decided today to get a dowel rod. Alas, I went to Frager's Hardware to get one. The guy was very helpful, as they usually are. He recommended some rubber feet. What he didn't tell me, prior to cutting the 5/8" rod was that there was a $2 cutting charge. A $2 charge, for a $2 rod. So, what I thought would be a few bucks was a few more than a few. $5 total. Oh well, it works like a charm...


P2140018 


 

Day Off Watch 2009: When 2 Halves Don't Equal a Whole

This week, I took 2 half days off instead of a whole day. My thought was that this would give me more "face" time at work, and also give me more afternoon time to get things done, partially motivated by an appointment I had on Thursday and a party I was making something for on Friday. Well, it was a huge mistake. First of all, any day you go into work is a work day. Second, time tends to creep. So, I spent more hours at work than I initially planned to. I ended up both not getting things done at work and not having time at home. That is what we call a lose, lose situation!


ZudI did manage to get my apartment cleaned on Friday. I did all those "extras" I only do every so often, such as flipping the sofa cushions and vacuuming them. I also used my new cleaning stuff bought last week at Logan Hardware: Zud. It claims to get rid of stains other abrasive cleaners leave behind, and it does.


My tub is a royal ugly mess. The porcelain is wearing away, I guess, and it's stained. The Zud still didn't get it all off, but I think after a few weeks, it will help. It did start to abrade away (is that a word?) the remaining adhesive from this gross stick-on tub liner that was on it when I moved in. Highly recommend. And, it's a relative bargain. I think I got it for $1.79 for a small container. It's here on Amazonfor $1.99.

Day Off Watch 2009: When 2 Halves Don't Equal a Whole

This week, I took 2 half days off instead of a whole day. My thought was that this would give me more "face" time at work, and also give me more afternoon time to get things done, partially motivated by an appointment I had on Thursday and a party I was making something for on Friday. Well, it was a huge mistake. First of all, any day you go into work is a work day. Second, time tends to creep. So, I spent more hours at work than I initially planned to. I ended up both not getting things done at work and not having time at home. That is what we call a lose, lose situation!


ZudI did manage to get my apartment cleaned on Friday. I did all those "extras" I only do every so often, such as flipping the sofa cushions and vacuuming them. I also used my new cleaning stuff bought last week at Logan Hardware: Zud. It claims to get rid of stains other abrasive cleaners leave behind, and it does.


My tub is a royal ugly mess. The porcelain is wearing away, I guess, and it's stained. The Zud still didn't get it all off, but I think after a few weeks, it will help. It did start to abrade away (is that a word?) the remaining adhesive from this gross stick-on tub liner that was on it when I moved in. Highly recommend. And, it's a relative bargain. I think I got it for $1.79 for a small container. It's here on Amazonfor $1.99.

Happy day of hearts, chocolates, and flowers...

I have none of the above, aside from the cute valentines my mom and Emily sent me. I found the rush for chocolate, cards, and flowers at Union Station yesterday on my way home from work rather hilarious yesterday. Godiva and Neuhaus both had a line.


If you're still looking, here are some cute Valentine-worthy Etsy finds...


Il_430xN_46018143 


A heart pretty from Mrs. Gibson's Atelier


Il_430xN_53279788 


A heart soap from Fairybubbles 


Il_430xN_56022510


A silver heart ring from Landfs Design


Il_430xN_57185244 


Some little Cupid paper ephemera from juliecollings


Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy day of hearts, chocolates, and flowers...

I have none of the above, aside from the cute valentines my mom and Emily sent me. I found the rush for chocolate, cards, and flowers at Union Station yesterday on my way home from work rather hilarious yesterday. Godiva and Neuhaus both had a line.


If you're still looking, here are some cute Valentine-worthy Etsy finds...


Il_430xN_46018143 


A heart pretty from Mrs. Gibson's Atelier


Il_430xN_53279788 


A heart soap from Fairybubbles 


Il_430xN_56022510


A silver heart ring from Landfs Design


Il_430xN_57185244 


Some little Cupid paper ephemera from juliecollings


Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Rub a Dub Dub

I received a new gift from my landlord today--a new washing machine. My old one was leaving black streaks on my clothes. Now, I don't want this to be perceived as complaining, because I'm not, but the machine is...rather....big.


P2130001 


It's sideways in my closet. It's a Whirlpool, and has more features than the last, but...well, it's kinda large. I honestly don't even know how they got it into my apartment and then wedged into that space.


Needless to say, I was a bit surprised. I have to lean in to find which cycle I need. And, one of my tasks tomorrow is going to be getting a dowel rod to prop up the lid a bit so I can put the clothes in...but again, I'm not complaining. I might not be able to dry my entire wardrobe, but now I can wash it...all at once. Can't store my mop and broom in the same closet anymore...but not complaining!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dagnabit! The Chips Tricked Me!


9685saltVinegar This is really an example of karma at its finest. When I saw news articles (such as in the



Center for Science in the Public Interest'sNutrition Action Healthletter I get each month) about food labels not having the calories for the bag but for the serving size, I rolled my eyes a bit. Of COURSE people should be smart enough to figure that out! Well, I got mine today. I "took a walk" with a colleague who was going to get her lunch, and ended at one of those buffet places. I decided to get some chips to go with my packed sandwich. I've been monitoring calories, and so, I looked at the label. In the hustle and bustle, I was in a hurry to get out of the way. I did a hasty comparison of the Kettle Salt and Vinegar chips and Glenny's Soy Crisps. I was not in a soy mood. I saw that the Kettle chips had 150 calories and 9 g of fat. Not a health food, more fat than we'd like, but overall, not bad for once in awhile. What I neglected to realize was that there were two servings in the bag. So, that's 300 calories and 18 grams of fat. Not quite what I'd planned. I didn't even realize until going to log in the calories online and seeing the serving size...hand to head, Homer Simpson "Doh!" Perhaps I saw what I wanted to see...I mean, I'm under no delusions of believing potato chips are healthy. But, still, the labeling made it much easier for me to make that mistake. Live and learn!


Image of the offending chips from the company's web site.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Ta Da!

Put the handles on the drawer project I started on my day off. Now, they're done. Thanks to dad for my "distance learning" session to help me get the handles right. The diagrams I'd drawn were actually a bit embarrassing. I'm sure I would have figured it out eventually, but it's nice that he could just quickly figure it out...it's nice having contractors in the family at times like this!


P2070003


The flash is making the color look slightly more transparent and emphasizes the flaws...and apparently, the bottom drawer's open, but you get the idea. I do, however, think it looks better in person!


A few helpful hints:





  1. Take the stuff OUT of the piece before doing anything to it. It'll be easier. Trust me.



  2. Don't forget to sand between coats of polyurethane (or "poly"). I ALWAYS forget until I'm into a few strokes of the second coat. 



  3. Be patient, and take time for a third coat of poly. You'll be grateful later. Just ask my TV stand.



  4. When applying the poly, don't have too much or too little on the brush. Too much, it will drip and coagulate into white marks. Too little, you'll get more noticeable brush strokes.



  5. On handles...Don't over-think the handle measurements. As my dad pointed out, most people won't notice 1/16th of an inch.  Don't stress.



  6. Use a long strip of masking or painters tape to line up all the handles the same way. This was genius. Not only did it help me line them up, but it also gave me a surface to make markings on.





Find my description of the staining process here.



All in all, I'm very happy with how it turned out. I'm hesitating putting it back in the closet now!

Ta Da!

Put the handles on the drawer project I started on my day off. Now, they're done. Thanks to dad for my "distance learning" session to help me get the handles right. The diagrams I'd drawn were actually a bit embarrassing. I'm sure I would have figured it out eventually, but it's nice that he could just quickly figure it out...it's nice having contractors in the family at times like this!


P2070003


The flash is making the color look slightly more transparent and emphasizes the flaws...and apparently, the bottom drawer's open, but you get the idea. I do, however, think it looks better in person!


A few helpful hints:





  1. Take the stuff OUT of the piece before doing anything to it. It'll be easier. Trust me.



  2. Don't forget to sand between coats of polyurethane (or "poly"). I ALWAYS forget until I'm into a few strokes of the second coat. 



  3. Be patient, and take time for a third coat of poly. You'll be grateful later. Just ask my TV stand.



  4. When applying the poly, don't have too much or too little on the brush. Too much, it will drip and coagulate into white marks. Too little, you'll get more noticeable brush strokes.



  5. On handles...Don't over-think the handle measurements. As my dad pointed out, most people won't notice 1/16th of an inch.  Don't stress.



  6. Use a long strip of masking or painters tape to line up all the handles the same way. This was genius. Not only did it help me line them up, but it also gave me a surface to make markings on.





Find my description of the staining process here.



All in all, I'm very happy with how it turned out. I'm hesitating putting it back in the closet now!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

As I promised...

I referenced the site Left Lane Idiots in one of my seat hog posts. Here it is...have at it!


480px-Slower_traffic_keep_right_svg 


Image from the 2004 FHWA Manual on Uniform Traffic Devices, via Wiki Commons.

As I promised...

I referenced the site Left Lane Idiots in one of my seat hog posts. Here it is...have at it!


480px-Slower_traffic_keep_right_svg 


Image from the 2004 FHWA Manual on Uniform Traffic Devices, via Wiki Commons.

My Drawer Project

Before:


P2050001 


One Coat:


P2050006 


Two Coats:


P2050007

My Drawer Project

Before:


P2050001 


One Coat:


P2050006 


Two Coats:


P2050007

Day Off and Getting Stuff Done

Well, one of the "perks" of having a reduced pay is that now I get a day off each week. Now, I am enjoying it, but then again, I haven't seen the paycheck yet.


Today, I started by sleeping in. Then, decided that instead of waiting until Saturday to start staining a set of drawers, I'd do it today. So, I'm in the middle of that now. Pictures to follow later!


I have one coat on now, and will probably do at least 2 more. I'm not too concerned about it looking great. I keep the drawers in my closet. These are Ikea--"Ivar" and if you're looking for something like this, I highly recommend. They're sturdy and made of solid pine, so you can stain easily. Plus, on casters, you can just roll them around easily. I was lucky because I found these on the street outside my friend Ted's house. I'm also lucky that Erin agreed (reluctantly, but I was insistent) to put them in her trunk.


And here is the public service announcement portion of this post.




Do you keep your blinds closed? If so, open them. I went to open the window a crack to let some fresh air circulate, I was seriously disturbed to find mold growing on my windows. Ick. I went into action with some bleach solution, and it's mostly off, but wow...gross. It was even worse in my bedroom windows. So, moral of the story is: check windows and let the warm air get to them so the water can evaporate. They can sweat in cold weather...and mold can grow. It's just a good thing my respiratory system isn't super sensitive. Still...gross. Let it be known...living things not invited into my home, be they fungus, insect, or animal...will be VANQUISHED! (The plants that die are purely due to my lack of green thumb.)

Day Off and Getting Stuff Done

Well, one of the "perks" of having a reduced pay is that now I get a day off each week. Now, I am enjoying it, but then again, I haven't seen the paycheck yet.


Today, I started by sleeping in. Then, decided that instead of waiting until Saturday to start staining a set of drawers, I'd do it today. So, I'm in the middle of that now. Pictures to follow later!


I have one coat on now, and will probably do at least 2 more. I'm not too concerned about it looking great. I keep the drawers in my closet. These are Ikea--"Ivar" and if you're looking for something like this, I highly recommend. They're sturdy and made of solid pine, so you can stain easily. Plus, on casters, you can just roll them around easily. I was lucky because I found these on the street outside my friend Ted's house. I'm also lucky that Erin agreed (reluctantly, but I was insistent) to put them in her trunk.


And here is the public service announcement portion of this post.




Do you keep your blinds closed? If so, open them. I went to open the window a crack to let some fresh air circulate, I was seriously disturbed to find mold growing on my windows. Ick. I went into action with some bleach solution, and it's mostly off, but wow...gross. It was even worse in my bedroom windows. So, moral of the story is: check windows and let the warm air get to them so the water can evaporate. They can sweat in cold weather...and mold can grow. It's just a good thing my respiratory system isn't super sensitive. Still...gross. Let it be known...living things not invited into my home, be they fungus, insect, or animal...will be VANQUISHED! (The plants that die are purely due to my lack of green thumb.)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Purging Feels Good

As some of you may know, my company has been having a rough time of it with the economy. Last week, we received an email mid-week announcing that "measures" would be announced on Friday, i.e. layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts. (What book of management is the "announce but don't announce and let people walk on eggshells for 2 days" idea from?) I was the lucky (and I do mean lucky) recipient of an additional pay cut.


However, before I found this out, I really had no idea. So, I set about taking the time during which I would normally be working and cleaned out my office, just in case. I cleared out more than an entire shelf's worth of paper. My normal "filing" procedure is to stuff all project materials into a magazine file and forget about them. I was amazed at how much I could purge.


I feel SO MUCH LIGHTER this week. Mentally. Partially because I know I have a job for now. But, I also like to think it's in part due to the paper purge. Here's a visual:


Photo   


Many of the magazine files are empty. I am going to try to be more conscientious of the paper I keep around. It really does become a burden that weighs on you.

Purging Feels Good

As some of you may know, my company has been having a rough time of it with the economy. Last week, we received an email mid-week announcing that "measures" would be announced on Friday, i.e. layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts. (What book of management is the "announce but don't announce and let people walk on eggshells for 2 days" idea from?) I was the lucky (and I do mean lucky) recipient of an additional pay cut.


However, before I found this out, I really had no idea. So, I set about taking the time during which I would normally be working and cleaned out my office, just in case. I cleared out more than an entire shelf's worth of paper. My normal "filing" procedure is to stuff all project materials into a magazine file and forget about them. I was amazed at how much I could purge.


I feel SO MUCH LIGHTER this week. Mentally. Partially because I know I have a job for now. But, I also like to think it's in part due to the paper purge. Here's a visual:


Photo   


Many of the magazine files are empty. I am going to try to be more conscientious of the paper I keep around. It really does become a burden that weighs on you.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sponge Solution

This is how lazy the iPhone has made me. Now, I don't even take the time to take a good picture with a good camera. Well anyway, this is my solution to a vexing problem. For literally years, I have kept my oxo good grips sponge/soap dispenser in an old flower pot. And for roughly the same amount of time, I have been utterly annoyed by it. It was top heavy, and so every time I used it, it would topple into the sink, usually at inopportune moments, like into a sieve of delicate draining raspberries. That all has ended. In a fit of genius, I've now employed pebbles (those small rock like things not the Flintstones character or her namesake cereal!) to counterbalance the top heaviness. As an added bonus I can also place my regular scrubbie sponge on top and the moisture will (at least theoretically) drain, keeping off the mildew. I know from past soap dish pebble experience that I will have to clean and sanitize them occasionally, but for my sanity, that's a small price to pay.


Sponge Solution

Sponge Solution

This is how lazy the iPhone has made me. Now, I don't even take the time to take a good picture with a good camera. Well anyway, this is my solution to a vexing problem. For literally years, I have kept my oxo good grips sponge/soap dispenser in an old flower pot. And for roughly the same amount of time, I have been utterly annoyed by it. It was top heavy, and so every time I used it, it would topple into the sink, usually at inopportune moments, like into a sieve of delicate draining raspberries. That all has ended. In a fit of genius, I've now employed pebbles (those small rock like things not the Flintstones character or her namesake cereal!) to counterbalance the top heaviness. As an added bonus I can also place my regular scrubbie sponge on top and the moisture will (at least theoretically) drain, keeping off the mildew. I know from past soap dish pebble experience that I will have to clean and sanitize them occasionally, but for my sanity, that's a small price to pay.


Sponge Solution

Seat hogs...in their native habitat

See this is what I'm talking about...cmon.Seat hogs...in their native habitat

Cool Tool to Unclog Drains

I have often used chemical drain openers like Draino and Liquid Plummer for clogged drains. I never felt right about it...putting all those eco-unfriendly chemicals down the drain. But, I was desperate. Half the time, I had to do it repeatedly, which can also get expensive. With my most recent clog, I finally bought a Zip It drain opener. I had seen it online once, but never thought it would work. Well, I'm here to confirm: it works like a dream.


My clog wasn't nearly as bad as the ones on their web site. I did have to stick the thing down more than once, and it pulled out my disgusting hair. But, that's all it took...I had a fast-running drain in a few minutes without chemicals and even without removing the drain stopper. Awesome! I'll definitely get one again. I got it for about $4 at a local hardware store.


The package instructions say not to reuse it because the sharp teeth could cut your fingers cleaning it off...but I managed to do that with little problem or personal danger and plan on using it at least once more.


New_package