Thursday, May 31, 2012

Images That Make My Heart Smile

The other day I walked into the Sanctuary to find The Hubby and The Pup napping together. Don't get me wrong, they do this all the time. But for some reason this image made me pause and snap a pic.

Yes, the Dog Bed is a double. Spoiled...YES!
A lot of things get me about this pic. First of which is just how much space Molly is taking up. The poor Hubby is almost being pushed off the bed! I also like how they are laying opposite of each other in virtually the same pose. I also don't know why The Hubby leaves his glasses on to nap? I also love how the computer and phone are close by...wouldn't want to miss a call or an email!

There they loves!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Why I Love My Backyard

There are days when I get to walk out my back door and see sights like this.

And then I am very glad that my iPhone has such a great camera. Back in the days when I used to create a calendar of my photos for everyone, this is the kind of image that would grace it's cover.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cry For Your Supper!

Every now and then I run across something on the internet that just makes me go "Wha????". Ok, the internet makes me do that a lot! Let me share my latest find with you.


The Sneezing one worries me a little.
I hope these are real. They come from a company called Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. They have a really cute site, you should check it out.

Even if they might not be manufactured using actual human tears, a collection process I would love to witness!  Flavored salts are fun to play with in the kitchen. I also love the's very "Apothecary Chic".

I think if someone were to bottle my tears it would be called "Sappy TV Show". What would your bottled tears be called? Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

John Carter Doesn't Suck So Much

Ok, so I had heard about this Disney movie, "John Carter of Mars". I'd heard that it was the worst box office disaster that Disney had suffered in a long time. I had heard that the movie pretty much sucked. I had heard that it was the worst example of cinema in quite some time.

Well, does have a horrible movie poster
But truly, the poster is where the suckage ends. I just watched this movie and I have to say, I was terribly impressed. Granted, I went into it with incredibly low expectations based on what I had heard about it. But John Carter, it's pretty decent piece of movie making.

Now, a lot of it is CGI, I mean, it takes place on would have to be. But the premise of the plot and the way the story unfolds, I found it almost a perfect piece of story telling. The Hubby is a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings saga, which I could never get behind. But, I realize what a great piece of story telling it is. Now, I would never compare John Carter to the tale that is Lord of the Rings...but it's scope and depth are pretty darn close.

The film weaves and tangles a basic plot...a man from earth is transported to Mars, and combines it with all of the intricate power struggles taking place on that planet. All the while it manages not to be too terribly trite. I mean, yes...his super power is that he can jump really far on Mars because of the lower gravity. Once you get over how funny that is and realize that it sort of makes sense, the move is a delight.

So, if you haven't seen John Carter of Mars, I highly recommend it. Not only is the film a great 2 hours of escapist entertainment...the score is absolutely wonderful. It's the closest I've come to the feeling of a classic John William's movie score since E.T. the Extraterrestrial.

Rent it, download it, stream it, NetFlix it!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer is Here!

That means a lot of different things to many people. To me it means that the A/C units are in the windows, the tanning chaise is in the back yard, and it's almost time for the first Mojito of the season.

I took the week off from work and centered it right over the Memorial Day weekend. The Hubby and the pup headed up to see his family in State College, so here I am, a bachelor for the weekend. What to do? What to do? It's funny how when you have all the time in a day to do whatever you want, just how hard it is to choose what to do. Should I hit the "Chores List"? Run some Errands? Surf the web? Tan? Almost makes me yearn for the typical daily grind to structure my day...almost.

So I've got some errands to run today. Then I have Aslun's House Warming Party on Saturday. Sunday, my house is getting cleaned in time for the Retirement Party I'm hosting here next Friday. On Monday, I am hosting a small Memorial Day Cookout where the new smoker is going to get it's trial run. That should make for an interesting blog post. While I smoke on a daily basis, I've never taken a crack at the type used for smoking meats.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend everyone. Let me know what you've got planned in the comments below!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Not the Sistine Chapel, But...

Ceilings, most rooms have them. Most of the time they're painted white so they "disappear". Only they tend not to. Many years ago I had one floor of an apartment that had lower ceilings than the first floor. I went against convention and painted everyone of those low ceilings black. No one but me ever noticed the ceiling height difference until I pointed it out.

I am not advocating that everyone run out and to Lowe's and buy them out of black paint. I'm just saying, it works. Ever notice how a lot of public spaces (restaurants, galleries, etc) paint their open ceilings black. Black makes stuff disappear, white...not so much.

All that being said, I would never paint my ceilings today. Out in the sanctuary there are the most gorgeous wood ceilings.

The view Molly sees while lying on her back on her bed
I love the slight color variations in the wood. You really see them on a bright sunny day. I had to brighten this photo up a but cause it was cloudy today.

In the back room (bedroom, bathroom, laundry room, closet) there were not gorgeous wood ceilings. There was gross drop ceiling installed which I promptly ripped out. Once renovations were almost complete, it was time to decide what sort of ceiling to put back in. A friend of mine suggested ripping out the rafters and doing a cathedral ceiling. I didn't like that idea. With the ceilings so high (17ft) in the sanctuary, I wanted this room to be much more cozy. Not to mention that I then would have had 2 rooms that are a bitch to heat!

So, I put a drop ceiling back in. Before you cringe, and everyone I suggested it to did, I had a plan. My plan was to install the metal grid and buy copper fabric that would drape across the frame. I'd seen it down in a restaurant in Chicago, and I loved the effect. It is also prohibitively EXPENSIVE! Enough fabric to do the room was going to cost me $6000 YIKES!

I still went ahead and hung the grid. I also learned a very thrifty fact about drop ceiling grid. The white grid is very inexpensive because that is what everyone uses. I wanted black grid, which costs triple what the white does. Then I found out from my trusty Lowe's salesperson, that they make little plastic covers that you can snap onto the grid to make it black. Much less expensive.

So, the grid is hung, now what to put in it? Paper! I found a huge roll of copper paper online at a gift wrap website. $70 bucks! That is my kind of bargain. Not to mention the fact that it was exactly 2ft wide, and how wide is a drop ceiling grid? 2ft x 4ft! PERFECT! The paper wasn't going to do the draping I was expecting the fabric to do. I bought the least expensive drop ceiling tiles I could find and wrapped the paper end to end on those. Then Tod had the amazing idea not just to wrap the flat paper around the tile, but to crinkle it all up first, then spread it back out over the tile. Sheer genius!

What I see when I open my eyes every morning.
The crinkling of the paper created all of those wonderful facets. I could stare at it for hours. The crinkling also creates an upholstered effect since the center of the paper doesn't hug the tile underneath it. That, and I also had enough paper leftover to wrap presents with for 5 years! I still have a good portion of it left. In a few more years, when this paper eventually fades...I'll just spend another  70 bucks and get a brand new ceiling out of it.

Another idea for drop ceilings I used years ago in that apartment with the black ceilings. The bathrooms and kitchen there had horribly ugly drop ceilings. We trashed the panels and bought a carton of the panels that are used to cover lights in a drop ceiling. We put those in every slot of the drop ceiling. What an amazing effect. Turning on the lights in those smaller spaces was suddenly like turning on the sun. It really brightened up the space.

In the end, with a little creativity, drop ceilings aren't so bad. I never thought I'd catch myself laying on my bed staring at one for a half hour and enjoying it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


This weekend, very close to my hometown of Thurmont, the G-8 Summit is taking place. It's kind of exciting. I love it when big things come and put Thurmont on the map. It hasn't happened since 1978 when President Jimmy Carter held some sort of summit at Camp David. I remember as a young child, meeting a young Barbara Walters. Didn't know her from Adam, but I can now watch her on The View and say I met her once.

G-8 brings out a lot of protestors...even more will be in Chicago starting tomorrow. That worried me a bit for Thurmont's safety. I mean, my parents and sister still live there. I didn't like the idea of things getting out of hand with them in the vicinity. Everything has passed without incident, and for that I am grateful to the many law enforcement officials who had a part in keeping the peace. It still disturbed me to see images like the following happening in my hometown square.

Guns in the square. True, loaded with bean bags, but still guns.

Hard to imagine this is the tiny town I grew up in.

This was the most unsettling of the images for me.
It's over now. Let Chicago deal with it! The only thing I'm still mad about is that Anderson Cooper didn't come to cover it. Now that...I could've gotten behind!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I Spent the Afternoon in the ER

Relax, I'm fine. I was sure it was a near death experience, but the doctors have assured me it wasn't a heart attack or a stroke. I was at Walmart and suddenly I felt very odd. Not dizzy, not faint, I just simply felt like I couldn't walk anymore. I didn't feel like I was going to pass out, I just felt like I was going to fall down. I thought, "Well maybe this is because I haven't had any lunch?". So, off I went to Burger King to sample one of their new salads. Standing in line at Burger King it just kept getting worse, my left arm and hand were tingling like they were waking up from being asleep. I got my food and went to the car and decided that I was going to drive myself to the ER. Well, as I was rounding the corner from Burger King my workplace is right there and I decided that I was NOT driving myself to ER. I pulled into the parking lot and walked into the HR Directors office and asked her to call me an ambulance. She did, immediately, without asking a single question. I love her!

The ambulance arrived and the HR Director was watching out her window. I said, "Please let at least one of them be big Bo Hunks." She said, "I'm not exactly sure of your definition of "Bo Hunk", but I'm saying no." Turns out, to my definition, both of them were Bo Hunks...SCORE! They assessed that I wasn't in immediate harm of dying so they strapped me to the stretcher and off we went to the hospital.

Do those numbers prove I really do have a heart? I think not!
Once we arrived at the ER they did all kinds of tests. I had blood drawn and a CT Scan. The scan was interesting, I'd never had one before. There is a soothing male voice that talks you through it. It says things like, "Take a deep breath and hold breath" and "Relax, you're going to be just fine." Then the attendant says, "I'm introducing the contrasting fluid" and suddenly this warmth invades your body. I thought for sure it felt like I was peeing myself, but it was just the fluid going into the blood vessels in my legs.

In between the tests the doctor was trying to convince me that I had had a panic or anxiety attack. Well, I have witnessed plenty of those sorts of attacks first hand...Hello! The Hubby!!! So I knew I hadn't had a panic attack. I mean, what at Walmart could cause anxiety...besides the clothes people were wearing. That and I have perhaps the least stressful job imaginable. So he wanted to give me some Adavan, an anti-anxiety drug...this before any of the tests had come back. I refused it and I think it pissed him off a little bit.

After all the tests, when he was assuring me that I was fine and that none of the test pointed to heart attack or stroke he said, "So you refused my Adavan." I said, "Yes, I did. I saw no reason for it since I know it wasn't an anxiety attack." I don't think he liked that answer. He said, "Well if you had allowed it to be administered and you felt better it would have proven it was." To which I responded, "Yeah, and if it wasn't, I'd be all drugged up now and out of it." "You aren't throwing a pill in me as a test!" He said, "Well most people come to the ER looking for something as simple as a pill to treat them." Well, that aint' me! Now if he'd offered me a Rum Punch, that would have been a totally different story.

My disrespect for the medical community surfaces often in this blog. But I've seen too much in front and behind the scenes to just say, "Hell Yeah! I'll take that pill!" I think it's important for people to question what their doctors tell them. In most cases those doctors are just making educated guesses and while it may be a level  of education that I haven't attained, it doesn't mean that it's the right guess.

So, if I'm found dead within the next 48 hours you all will know why.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Eggy Bake

I am currently embarking on the Low Carb Lifestyle. Quite simply...I've gotten FAT! I am not going as far as to head back onto The Atkin's Diet. I found that rather extreme. Basically, I cut out processed sugar, refined flour, and other nasty carbs. To that end I am now making my Eggy Bake to have for Breakfast every day.

Breakfast combined!
The Eggy Bake is very versatile. You can throw whatever you want into the eggs, whatever floats your boat or is hanging around the fridge. Here is the base recipe...

Eggy Bake

          1 Dozen Eggs (You can substitute those cartoned egg product if you like)
          1/4 Cup Cream (I use Half & Half)
          Salt & Pepper to taste

At this point I pick my additives. In the one pictured above I chose:

          1lb Bacon (Fried crisp)
          6oz Italian Sausage (Crumbled)
          1can Diced Tomatos
          1can Sliced Mushrooms
          1handfull Fresh Spinach (sliced)
          Parmesan Cheese
          Sharp Cheddar Cheese

So what you do is line your baking pan with parchment paper. It makes it really easy to remove and then slice. Then you layer your additives into the pan. I started with the meats and then added the other items. I then sprinkled on about half of the cheese. You then mix up your egg mixture and whip the heck out of it. If you have a mixer, do it in that. The more air you can whip into the mixture the lighter and taller your bake will be. My arm still hurts from whisking mine. I did find a hint online that said you can add a quarter teaspoon of baking powder to the eggs to get them to puff up fluffier. I tried it and mine did fluff up big, but in the freezer they sunk again.

You then pour the egg mixture over the layered additives, top with the rest of the cheese and pop it in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. I under cooked mine by about 5 minutes only because I knew I would be freezing them and them nuking them in the microwave. Here is what it looks like coming out of the oven.

Pam that pan under the parchment...I am still trying to soak mine!
Once cool, I lifted it out of the pan by the parchment paper and cut it into 8 equal squares. I placed them in Zip-Loc bags and placed them in the freezer for later use during the week. It microwaves well. I go for about 2 minutes once it has thawed. Otherwise it gets as hard as a brick.

One note I do have. I used bacon in mine which I had fried very crisp. Unfortunately, once baked and nuked the bacon winds up kind of limp.

So give it a try! Let me know in the comments what you added.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Cuban, and I Don't Mean the Cigar

Many years ago I became fascinated with Cuba. I was in Miami for work and at a delightful little cafe on the beach. I don't remember the name of it, I didn't keep the best notes back then. Anyway, on the menu was the Cubano Sandwich. Pork, ham, pickles, mustard and swiss cheese...heaven on a pressed bun! I have been obsessed with finding the perfect one ever since.

I have tried them everywhere. Any time I am on a trip and find it on the menu, I order it. Needless to say, I have sampled some very good and some very bad. One used pressed processed pork...YUCK! I sent that one back and ordered something else while at the same time informing the Chef that pressed pork is a "No No" in the Cubano world.

Cut to my own little town of Frederick and the cuban restaurant Sabor De Cuba. One of my coworkers and I tried it out a few weeks ago. Here is my Cubano Sandwich.

So the sandwich was good. It wasn't the best that I've had so far. The pork was sliced a little too thick for my tastes. However, the mixture of ingredients was pretty darned near perfect. With each bite, you got a good sampling of all the flavors.

I am beginning to think that I will have to travel to Cuba to actually find the perfect Cubano Sandwich. Would someone please lift the embargo to make my travel easier!?!?!?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Easter Bunny Flop

Do not try this at home. Let me perfect it first, then you can try it. Many people are aware of my aversion to onions. I don't really hate them, but I hate their effect on me. They make me burp...a lot! Not only do they make me burp, but those burps burn. I have been kept up entire nights by onions and no tummy remedy seems to help.

While in State College at The Hubby's family for Xmas I adored his stepmom's Green Bean Casserole. It was so yummy I had 3 helpings. On the third I bemoaned how miserable it was going to make me later because of the French Fried Onions. She turned to me, and in the most matter-of-fact tone said, "There aren't any onions in that." Well you could have knocked me over with a feather. I just stood there alternating my gaze between her and what I was sure was the "Evil Onion Topping", aghast that Green Bean Casserole could possibly be made without French Fried Onions.  I said, "Well if there are no onions, what is that deliciously crispy topping?" "Sautéed bread crumbs", she replied as if the entire world made their Green Bean Casserole that way. Of course, I took all of the leftovers home. Yes, I can be terribly selfish. Ask anyone I know!

Fast forward to Easter at my mother's house. Actually, it was the week after Easter. My family never manages to celebrate holiday's on their actual's our dysfunction. (Perhaps one of many) My mom requested that I bring this fabled Green Been Casserole to dinner. Yikes! So I had The Hubby call his stepmom to ask how they were made. No help! I got, "Brown the bread crumbs in butter till they are crunchy". So, I got a lot of butter and bread crumbs.

Look at all that delicious butter!
Now, let me admit...I did cut a corner. In hindsight it was one of 2 corners that I probably shouldn't have cut. I used store-bought bread crumbs instead of ripping up my own bread...come to find out that is what his stepmom does. Alas, I figured bread crumbs were bread crumbs. What I wound with was this.

Brown, crispy, edible SAND!
I pushed forward tho. I got out my frozen green the classic recipe called for, my second poor decision. My mother uses canned green beans, because they are already tender. I would have needed to bake this 2 hours to get those frozen beans as tender. Anyway, I mixed them with my mushroom soup and some cream of celery soup (another internet suggestion I should have ignored) and popped it all in the oven thinking, "It'll be ok...everything will crust up just fine. 

I don't have an after pic, I was too ashamed to take one. Flop, Flop, Flop! Luckily, everyone tried it and were gracious enough not to say a word about how horrible it was. That's family for ya! But, no one wanted any of the leftovers...not even me! 

On an up note, my sister...whom I would never call creative, or whimsical, or even feminine for that matter, brought the cutest platter of deviled eggs. I was rather impressed and it made me feel even worse about my dish. Now THAT is what family is for.

Isn't that just adorable!
She had an egg that cracked funny when she was peeling them and instead of throwing it away...she made it the center piece. Now that is something I would usually do! I guess I was just off my game this time around.

I pledge tho, to get this No Onion Green Bean Casserole perfected. One day you may be eating it as an appetizer at one of my parties! That, and I'll be able to write a proud blog post about it!