Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Duck Duck Goal

In November I went on several job interviews, baked the best biscuits ever, wore heels like a lady, let my apartment get messy, ran over a possum (which is STILL laying dead near the edge of the road...are there no vultures in MA?) celebrated Thanksgiving in Maine with the family, did lots of block printing, attended my 10 year high school reunion, voted, folded 118 paper cranes, and FINALLY finished a book!

I have decided to indefinitely forgo my duck counts as it seems foolish to count and recount things that rarely change within a months time.  Instead, let us discuss my inability to accomplish goals that I set for myself.

Goal # 1:  Find a community service opportunity and volunteer. 
I had the best of intentions with this goal and I fully intend on making this a goal in the future.
Status - FAILED

Goal # 2:  Read at least four books. 
I haven't finished a book since August and I needed to get back on track with my 1,000 book challenge.  I procrastinated AND took the easy way out in order to accomplish this goal...no judgement!  I finally finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (which I started in August) and I read three Roald Dahl books: The Vicar of Nibbleswicke, The Twits, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Status - ACCOMPLISHED

Goal # 3:  Limit myself to one non home-cooked meal per week.
I set this goal in an effort to save money and cook better meals at home.  It turns out I don't like to cook meals at home and meeting a friend for lunch is often the only reason why I leave my apartment during the day.  In attempting to accomplish this goal I did realize how often I was eating out and made an effort to curb that habit.  But let's be honest, I broke this goal by November 3rd.
Status - FAILED

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cooking With Amy: Thanksgiving Edition

I ventured into the woods of Maine for Thanksgiving with my parents.  Our house in Maine comes equipped with no tv and no internet, which is a drastic change from my day to day existence.  To occupy myself I held the first, annual Amy's Bake-a-thon and encountered several "Make it Work" moments.

I made cherry pie which was sooo easy because it consisted of laying the premade pie crust in the pan, pouring in a can of cherry pie filling, and criss-crossing premade pie crust on the top.  In my haste to escape the holiday grocery scene (which led to the untimely death of one, Mr. Possum) I grabbed a can of dark cherries instead of cherry pie filling.  Oops!  I ended up mixing the can of cherries with the can of pie filling.  I don't know if it tasted good but it sure looked yummy!



Every year I bake a pumpkin pie but this year I decided to be overly ambitious and tried to replicate the Cheesecake Factory's pumpkin cheesecake.  The recipe calls for three packages of cream cheese which you then use an electric mixer to whip.  Unfortunately, we didn't have an electric mixer in Maine so I resorted to using an antique potato masher to mix the cream cheese and sugar. 


It took many minutes of mashing and several muscle cramping whisk maneuvers but eventually I ended up with a cheesecake like (albeit somewhat lumpy) creamy pumpkin delight.


On the morning of Thanksgiving I rose at the crack of 9:30 to make "The Best Biscuits Ever" according to Peter Reinhart's cookbook.  Once again, I found myself lacking a necessary kitchen tool but easily made do with a bottle of blank label Tuscan wine.



The cookbook wasn't lying and they really were fantastic biscuits.  They were buttery, flaky layers of goodness that made me seem much more the accomplished baker than I am.  I can't wait to try out his other recipes!


Overall my first annual bake-a-thon was a success despite a few blunders along the way.  I woke up to snow and freezing rain on Friday morning which, when combined with 24 hour Christmas music on the radio makes it officially the holiday season.  You know what that means? I GET TO WATCH ELF!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

PETA Would Be Pissed

When I am super absent from the blog like I have been for the last 7 days it usually means that I am having a meltdown.  In the interest of full disclosure, I had a mini meltdown last Thursday-Friday but have since been busy and productive social. 

The Cliff Notes version of today is this:

Hung out with the Baby Momma and the cutest yet possibly loudest baby alive.

Got my recipes set for the Thanksgiving bake-a-thon that will occur tomorrow in the state of Maine.

Had a peppermint mocha latte (which was WAY better than my pumpkin spice latte) with K who tried to convince me not to go to the grocery store at 6:30 p.m.  Needless to say, I didn't listen and it turns out she was right.  My trip to the grocery store led to a series of events that left me frustrated and left an animal dead.

Everyone in town was at the grocery store bumping into neighbors and blocking aisles to chat.  I grabbed my loot and got the hell out of Dodge.  At this point most of the commuter traffic had subsided but as I approached the 1 mile sign for my exit the brake lights lit up the highway like a Christmas tree.  It took the next 12 minutes to travel the 1 mile to my exit and I spent the whole time worrying that I would
A) run out of gas and
B) pee in my pants.

Luckily, I did neither and was only yards from turning into my complex when a giant possum lumbered across the road in front of my car.  There was a car coming the opposite direction so swerving was out of the question.  I hit the brakes...the possum stopped...turned...and then I ran over it.  Because I hit my brakes hard, I ran over it very slowly...it was like going over a speed bump.  Gross I know.

Sadly, this is not the first animal I have run over.  I hit a bunny once in daylight and made the epic mistake of looking in the review mirror only to be traumatized by seeing the poor thing flopping all over the road.  (This was on the way back to camp where my CIT's then sang "Little Bunny FooFoo" to me until I cried.) 

I have a much stronger affinity towards bunnies than I do towards possums so I'm not very broken up about the possum.  Although I hope it isn't there when I drive by again so I can pretend it didn't really happen!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday in Photos

My weekly grocery list includes juice, string cheese, and granola bars (because I have the palate of a five year old) and then I just wander the aisles until I find other things to put in my fridge.  I was craving bananas...my potassium must be low this week...and found that my Chiquita Banana Lady has been replaced with advertising for the Wii!  Are banana stickers the final frontier for advertisers?


I also picked up some cocoa butter gel body oil in an attempt to protect my elbows from the sandpaper-esque quality they seem to take on as soon as the weather turns.  Bonus points for the lava lamp-like air bubble and the fact that this will prob. turn my shower into a slip and slide.


Finally, I picked up this mac and cheese for three reasons.  One - it is named after me (obvs. a sign).  Two - it requires the use of zero dishes.  Three - I can make it in the microwave.  Enough said.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Padiddle!

Most of my blogs as of late have had a craft theme which seems to have isolated bored a great number of people.  I am overdue in offering a witty and/or self-revealing blog...so I thought I would give you a peek into my thought process as I drove home from the store tonight.

5:37  I see an unusually high amount of cars with a headlight out and I wonder if there is a reason for this.  Perhaps I only noticed because it is now DARK at 5:00?

5:37  I wonder how to spell the word padiddle...does it start with a silent "t"? 

5:40  I then realize I am confusing the silent "t" with the silent "p" as in the words pterodactyl or ptarmigan.  (Yes it took three whole minutes to realize this...no judgement!)

5:41  The song "One Headlight" by the Wallflowers begins to run through my head and I try to recall if the band ever had another hit.

5:42  Is the band still together? 

5:42  Is Jakob Dylan really the son of Bob Dylan...or did I just make that up?

5:42  Bob Dylan is still alive right?  Surely I would have heard otherwise.

So as soon as I return home and hastily put away the groceries, I open Google and begin to investigate.  Yes, Jakob Dylan is Bob Dylan's son and yes Bob Dylan is still alive and then I make a mental note to add a Bob Dylan biography to my reading list (that is if I ever read anything ever again since I still have not finished a book since August.) 

But perhaps the most shocking thing I learned is that the word padiddle is NOT a noun which refers to a car with only one headlight but in fact is the name of a game.  The rules of Padiddle the game are quite intense but basically boil down to this:  you see a car with a headlight out...you hit the roof of the car...the last one to hit the roof takes off an article of clothing!

How did I never know this?  Did I grow up that sheltered?  Did my lack of male friends in high school contribute to my ignorance?  Padiddle does seem like a coed game...I mean how often do you see three chicks cruising around the 'burbs taking articles of clothing off? 

Am I the ONLY person who didn't know the real rules of Padiddle?  Has anyone actually played by the real rules of Padiddle? 

Obviously I do most of my thinking in questions.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cooking With Amy - Crab Rangoon Edition

It's no secret that I LOVE projects.  Mom's birthday was yesterday (Happy Birthday Mom!) and Dad and I decided to make homemade Chinese food for her.  We made stir fry with lo-mein noodles, egg rolls, Ah-So (the neon pink sauce) pork strips, and crab rangoon. 

I tackled the crab rangoon on my own and did not have high hopes for myself.  I can be quite disastrous in the kitchen and this recipe called for deep frying which is something I have NEVER done.  I found a simple recipe on the Big, Bold, Beautiful Food Blog which included tips to avert disasters before you start.  That's my kind of cooking...knowing everything that can go wrong before it does. 

I mixed up my crab and cream cheese filling, added some scallions (which I only today learned were also called green onions) and garlic, a bit of soy sauce and I was done.  I used egg roll wrappers which were way too huge to make the traditional triangle crab rangoon, so I cut them in half and made Amy's Special Square Crab Rangoon. 

The scariest part was the deep frying.*  I was concerned that I was going to light something...possibly myself...on fire.  Luckily, I averted all major disasters.  Only one crab rangoon sprung a leak causing the hot oil to sizzle uncontrollably.  Aside from the one that exploded, I made some kick-ass crab rangoon! 


Basically, I'm almost an Iron Chef

*In hindsight, I can see how deep frying could easily become a hobby.  I was tempted to toss other things in the oil to see what would happen! 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Block Printing Frenzy!


Today I made trees!


I also started to stamp the envelopes for my holiday cards and then proceeded to smudge the stamp all over.  Hopefully the ink sets overnight!


(I did not carve this snowflake...I bought it from the dollar bin today!)

Friday, November 12, 2010

There is Nothing in this Post Worth Reading...

This whole sun setting at 4:30 in the afternoon thing is nonsense.  I know that it is an annual event but it just gets me every time.  Sleeping until noon is no longer such a great plan when daylight becomes this scarce. 

Today was a blah kind of day.  There is no better way to explain it...didn't feel good...didn't feel bad...wasn't necessarily grouchy or sad....just blah.  And the only way out of a blah day is to distract oneself until it becomes tomorrow.  So in an attempt to distract myself, I went to a movie...on Friday afternoon...at 2pm...alone...which wasn't nearly as depressing as it sounds. 

Luckily, K called at just the right time for a Starbucks date and a grocery shopping escapade.  At the time it seemed hilarious that she was buying Fritos and Mexicorn to make tacos/taco salad.  But now it doesn't seem so funny...I guess the blah is creeping back in.  I left the store with cereal, tomato sauce, and frozen potato skins...obviously keeping my dinner options open.

Spent the rest of the day night reading blogs, watching The Office, trying to decide on a new block print design and eating strawberry fruit snacks like it was 1987. 

Here's hoping for a blah-free day tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Today was a Block Printing, Dish Doing, Music Listening Kind of Day

Call me Captain Productive!  Is there a different word for a female captain?  Captina?  There should be more lady captains in the world so the word doesn't sound so masculine...just a thought.

Anyway...today I did something important (to be blogged about at a later date), began planning my mother's b-day dinner, learned that Lowell drains the canals and they are gross, took a field trip to the mall with the BabyMomma, folded a paper crane out of a perfume ad, did ALL the dishes in my sink, cooked myself a real dinner (thus creating new dishes in the sink), cut another block print design, and listened to the latest Ingram Hill album 13 times in its entirety.

After healing from the holiday card incident, I have delved back into block printing and finished two designs in two days!  For those of you who care have no idea what block printing is, here is a mini tutorial:

You use a linoleum block and some very sharp tools and carve out the negative space around the design you want to print.


After it is all carved, it looks like this:


Then you spread some ink on a piece of glass and roll it onto your block.


Use your block like a stamp...and voilĂ ...homemade cards!


The most difficult part is trying to carve the linoleum block without slicing your fingers open.  Now that I have successfully carved my birds on a wire AND my holiday block, I can get to my bread baking!  Psst...my holiday cards might resemble one of the following...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Adventures in Employment and Training Services

One of the stipulations of collecting unemployment is that you attend a workshop at a Career Training Center.  I did this several weeks ago and it turned out not to be a great day.  But I did learn about all of the information and training resources the Career Service Agency provided.  This month I have taken advantage of the resume and cover letter writing workshops and I've met some characters along the way.

It should come as no surprise that many people who are unemployed are angry, bitter, and generally discouraged.  At the beginning of each seminar, everyone is given the opportunity to introduce themselves in an AA fashion..."My name is X and I'm unemployed.  I've been unemployed for X months and...."  These introductions quickly turn into sob stories about how the X industry has been hit the hardest.  While some of these people are so negative and obnoxious, I am attempting to refrain from judging them because I have no idea what it is like to be unemployed and supporting a family.

I have met some people women that I thought were worthy of a place on this blog.  First, is an older woman (maybe 65+) who is looking for work as a registered nurse.  She shared her struggles of finding a nursing job in a profession that is hiring "young gals with no experience."  However, as she is lamenting the nursing field's age discrimination, her sun-spotted hands are doing that continuous Parkinson-like shaking thing.  And running through my head is, "I feel bad that she can't find a job...but holy hell if I ever needed blood drawn and she was my nurse I would run away from those hands as fast as I could!"

Next, we meet a woman who is adamant about listing her hobby of collecting antiques on her resume while simultaneously refusing to join LinkedIn.  She insists that being an antique collector demonstrates a skill set of using the Internet and networking at collector shows.  The instructor politely reminds the woman that only things relevant to the job you are applying for should be included on a resume...and if she thinks that collecting antiques is a relevant skill for environmental work then she should go ahead and include it.

Finally, we meet my favorite lady of them all.  She told the class that her name was Dora and the instructor asked her what she did.  At this point I had to put my hand over my mouth to contain a giggle because I immediately wondered if she was an explorer.  Dora was tall and blond and in fact, not an explorer, but even a week later this still makes me laugh out loud.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

When Holidays Attack

Happy Holidays!  Confused?  Yeah...me too. 

Back in the day, the holiday season officially started at the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade when Santa sat waving from the final float of the parade.  You ate a lot of turkey, took a nap, and mapped out a shopping strategy for Black Friday.  November was spent raking leaves and resisting the urge to unpack boots and mittens. 

However, there have been many signs that the holiday season is already upon us.  On Tuesday of this week, Starbucks broke out the seasonal, red snowmen cups.  On Thursday, I heard Christmas carols in 3 separate department stores.  And on Halloween night...which is in OCTOBER...K and I saw a fully decorated Christmas tree in someones living room.  (For fire safety reasons, I hope it was a fake tree.)

All of these things have alerted me to the fact that I have missed the beginning of the holiday season.

Which lead me to two thoughts:
1. Where am I ever going to find a 53-day advent calendar?
2.  I should get started on my holiday cards...even though I only mailed Halloween cards 10 days ago!

My Halloween cards consisted of a sticker on the front of a pre-made card.  For my holiday cards I have much bigger plans...plans that include linocut prints.  To make linocut prints you use really sharp tools to carve designs into linoleum blocks.  As with most other activities involving sharp objects, it turns out that carving linoleum blocks is a full contact sport when I am involved.


So if you are fortunate enough to receive a limited edition holiday 2010 card from me, know that I put my blood, sweat, and tears into it.  Maybe this is the universe telling me it's not quite time for holiday cards, twinkle lights, and the movie Elf.

For now, holiday cards are on hold and I will be recovering in sweats in front of the tv.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened...

Actually, a lot of funny things happened.

On Saturday, I went to my first Halloween party in soooo many years.  I was a lady bug and K was Gothic Marilyn Monroe Betty Boop.  There were some great costumes at the party like a bearded lady, Miss Iowa, Bill Belichick, Maverick from Top Gun, and some grapes.  My favorites were a couple dressed as the American Gothic painting and a douche bag...we're talking double-popped Polo collars, the excessive use of the word "Bro" and so much cologne that he had to wash himself halfway through the party.

There was a heated discussion on what the "that" in Meatloaf's "I'd Do Anything For Love, But I Won't Do That" is.  (This blogger lays out Meatloaf's Do's and Don'ts pretty clearly.)  There was also a mustache that saw more action than anyone else at the party.  It masqueraded as a beard, a unibrow and eventually a cleavage-enhancing chest hair patch.

Best part of the night:
The apartment is decorated and dimly lit to set the mood.  An almost empty ice cube tray sits on the counter.

A:  Did anyone put ice cubes in their drink?
D:  I did.
A:  How many?
D:  Like four.

O, K, and A start laughing.

D:  What?
A:  Did your drink taste weird?
D:  No why?
A:  They weren't ice cubes.  That was frozen chicken stock.

True Story.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In Honor of My 50th Post!

1.  I like to win.
2.  I am irrationally afraid of wild animals.
3.  I love lattes!
4.  I am turning 25 in February...again.
5.  This makes me an Aquarius.
6.  I think that I think more than others...but how will I ever know?
7.  I make wishes on eyelashes.
8.  I like secrets.
9.  Especially other peoples.
10.  I am a poor decision maker.
11.  I love looking at the moon and the stars.
12.  I went to camp until I was 24.
13.  I really want to be able to play the piano.
14.  But I'm not sure I have the patience and determination to learn.
15.  I like math.
16.  I don't like tomatoes but I love tomato sauce.
17.  I enjoy driving fast.
18.  I want to write a book.
19.  I have lots of strawberry freckles.
20.  I can listen to the same song for 24 hours.
21.  I want to like tea but I don't.
22.  I have a good memory.
23.  Girls who act helpless irk me.
24.  I think I tell stories better than most people.
25.  I wish I had long, thick, straight hair.
26.  I don't.
27.  I think grammar is overrated.
28.  I love using ellipses...
29.  Procrastinating is one of my favorite pastimes.
30.  I don't sleep with a top sheet.
31.  If I do I kick it to the bottom of the bed in my sleep.
32.  I have no sense of direction.
33.  I believe in fate and karma but not God and church.
34.  I play the flute.
35.  And the piccolo.
36.  I tried to play the viola.
37.  I got as far as "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star".
38.  I think people who drive white cars are assholes.
39.  I've never been to Disney Land or World.
40.  I ran over a bunny once.
41.  I cried.
42.  I'm obsessed with my blog stats.
43.  I love to play Bananagrams.
44.  I secretly want to wear trendy flannel shirts.
45.  But every time I try one on I look like a lady lumberjack.
46.  The smell of cucumbers makes me nauseous.
47.  I am a good speller.
48.  I can make kick-ass paper snowflakes.
49.  I'm about to become an infamous bread baker.
50.  This is actually my 51st post.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Duck Duck Don't...

...count your ducks chickens before they hatch.  It recently occurred to me that I might be jinxing myself by posting duck counts at the beginning of each month.  Maybe announcing I have no job on the first day of the month is a self-fulfilling prophecy?  I'm not superstitious per say, though I occasionally read my horoscope (which I only believe when it says something I like) but I figure a bit of cosmic cautiousness can't hurt.*

From now on goals will be set on the first of the month and ducks will be counted at the end of the month.  With that said, my November Goals are:

1. Find a community service opportunity and volunteer.

2. Read at least four books.  I have gotten seriously off track with my 1,000 book challenge...like haven't-finished-a-book-since-August off track.

3. Limit myself to one non home-cooked meal per week...lattes don't count...obviously.

These goals seem realistic yet a bit more significant than October's goals.

*And I can put off cutting and pasting all those little duck pictures until the end of the month...WIN-WIN!
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