Coffee Chatter – Thursday Edition

CosmosI’ve been watching this series starring Neil de Grasse Tyson called Cosmos: Spacetime Odyssey since it started a few months back. There are only ten episodes in the first season, but it’s taken me more than 10 hours to watch them all. I would venture to say it’s take me roughly no less than 15 hours, and probably more like 18-20.

Why, you ask? Well, it’s not because the subject matter is so dense and it’s been 25 years since high school science classes, but because I keep falling asleep.

Why, you ask? Well, it’s not because the subject material is boring, because it’s not, and it’s not because I was tired because I had just did a power walk and I was wired. It’s just that… well, Neil’s voice is so lovely (it really is), it lulls me into a slumber on average of every 20 minutes. And I’m not kidding. I have yet to watch the last seven minutes of the season closer because I feel asleep THREE times.

Let me break it down for you:

Nap #1 – started 12 minutes in; woke up to an episode of Parks & Rec – a show I’ve never watched but it was playing live on the tv which tells me the recorded Cosmos played to the end and the DVR switched to a tv show afterward.

Nap #2 – started 32 minutes into the second watching of Cosmos, and I woke up to the middle of a Big Bang Theory episode, again for the above reason.

Nap #3 – started 51 minutes into the third attempt at staying awake to watch Cosmos to the end. Again, I woke up to another tv show airing on my tv. This time it was an unfunny Just For Laughs show. Oy. I gave up at this point. I turned it all off and vowed to finish it another day.

Sadly this isn’t the first time this has happened to me with this show. The husband has a running joke now where, whenever I fall asleep on the couch, he asks me if I was watching another Cosmos. Har, har.

But, in all seriousness, kids, I think I have found a permanent cure for insomnia if anyone needs it. Tell everyone who can’t fall asleep about this magical man’s voice!! 🙂

PS: I’m imagining Dave’s head exploding and Sanjay giggling at my plight as they read this.

Auntie Stacey’s PMS Cookies

2014-06-11 19.34.21 These are the cookies I like when I’m in the throes of PMS every few months of so. It’s an easy cookie to put together in very little time (which is good because I tend to lose my patience when all of this goes down), and the taste is just what I need. Lots of peanut butter, matched by just as much chocolate, and some rolled oats to make me feel better about eating somewhat junky cookies to get me though it all.

This cookie is based off the classic 3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookie recipes. Enjoy.

Auntie Stacey’s PMS Cookies:
3/4 C Peanut Butter (smooth of chunky — your choice)
1/2 C Sugar
1 Egg, large and at room temperature
1 C Oats, old fashioned, not quick
3/4 C Chocolate Chips (dark are the best)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all of the above but the chocolate chips well, then gently fold them in at the very end. Using an ice cream scooper, drop balls on parchment paper with 2″ around each one.

Bake the balls for ten minutes before using a potato masher to flatten them down to about 3/4″ thick, wiping the bottom of the masher off as you go, and place them back in to bake for another six minutes.

Let the cookies cool for 15 minutes before you gently move them off the sheets to cool on racks. These are soft cookies, so they will bend, droop and break up if you don’t wait.

Store in a cookie jar for up to 5 days. (Trust me, they won’t last longer than that.)

Yields: 12 single scoop sized, 24 half scoop sized, and 6 jumbo two scoop sized.

Coffee Chatter – Sunday Edition

calendarFour years ago as of four days ago, we picked up the keys to our first, and current, house. We love being homeowners. I’m not a fan of the house layout with its L shape bleeding our small living room into our spacious dining room, but I can’t imagine us moving any time soon. We’re too settled in, and one of us is change adverse (I’ll let you guess which one of us it is), so we’re putting some roots down in this little hovel of ours. 🙂

A year ago this weekend, we closed our retail store. I see a LOT of our old regular customers at my new job, and I’m asked all the time if we miss the store, the work, and owning our own business. For the most part, hell no we don’t miss the headaches, the constant money pie dipping by everyone under the sun, and the customers who treated us like dry cleaners expecting their stuff fixed and returned in under an hour.

We also don’t miss answering phone calls. Our store phone would ring constantly every day by someone looking to sell us services we didn’t need (think debit/credit terminals, search engine optimization/website work, and advertising in things like phone books that no one uses anymore), or it was a random gov’t body calling to say we need to pay this or that because we had employees – the bookkeeper, and me. (Mostly it was the workman’s comp board drumming up business but we’d politely end the calls and shake our heads since it’s only suppose to apply to businesses that have more than something like 15 employees.)

Oh, and I also don’t miss the constant calls and walk-ins asking us for donations to private school fundraisers. *LOL* Sure, I’d love to been poorer than I already am by giving you our products and time services for FREE. Sure. Whatever, soccer moms. (And stop sending your precious kids into stores to beg while you stand outside talking on your cellphone as you lean up against your $160K SUV tank of a vehicle. We can see you through the windows. It’s embarrassing for everyone involved.)

Of course we really did enjoy helping the best customers a business could ever hope to have in our vast customer pool, but it was time for us to do something new. Plus now we get benefits at our jobs, and perks that we could never give ourselves as we struggled to make even the slimmest of margins on our goods and services. Honestly, so many people thought we should have been swimming in profit given our business and industry, but the opposite was the norm for owners like us.

There are a few downsides to not working for yourselves (the autonomy, the working together, the making our lunches daily in the back of the store, the baking cookies when the mood struck me or when I was really PMS’ing, the getting to say no to certain customer requests because they were beyond ridiculous and/or offensive, and the carpooling to name but a few), but they were never enough to make us change our minds about closing our doors.

A lot can happen in 365 days. A lot of good things. Don’t ever believe otherwise, kids.

Coffee Chatter – Sunday Edition

[ After I cleaned out the fridge, I realized I had many mason jars that I really should sterilize instead of simply hand washing them, so I pulled out my big stock pot and did just that because we don't have a dishwasher ]

    [ After I cleaned out the fridge, I realized I had many mason jars that I really should sterilize instead of simply hand washing them, so I pulled out my big stock pot and did just that because we don't have a dishwasher ]

[ After I cleaned out the fridge, I realized I had many mason jars that I really should sterilize instead of simply hand washing, so I pulled out my big stock pot and channelled my grandmother. ]

[ Korean Beef ]

[ Korean Beef ]

[ Mongolian Beef I made a few weeks back that was too salty for human consumption, but was lovely otherwise. Will have to make this again revising the salt and soy sauce. ]

[ Mongolian Beef I made a few weeks back that was too salty for human consumption, but was lovely otherwise. Will have to make this again revising the salt and soy sauce. ]

Yesterday I spent the day puttering around in the kitchen, cleaning mostly (the oven, the stove top, mason jars, dishes, the floor, etc.) but also making a big portion of dinner (Korean Beef) and setting up lunches for the husband since he’s working a lot this week to cover a co-worker who went home to visit her family for the first time in at least 5 years. And luckily since I tired myself out yesterday in the kitchen and at work, we were finally able to go to bed early for the first time in a long time. In fact, I was so tired, I tried to start this post in bed but I fell asleep shortly after logging into the website. (snort)

[ Sushi / maki roll mold ]

[ Sushi / maki roll mold ]

2014-03-22 22.11.36I also found sometime to play a bit with food, and a new gimmicky tool I bought on clearance. I was drawn to this trough looking toy that purports to help make the best rolled rice and filling for maki versus hand rolling, so I figured it was worth $3 to find out. All in the name of science. Tasty, delicious science. ‘Mmm… Ahem.

[ Typical maki roll hand rolling produced by moi. ]

[ Typical hand rolled maki produced by moi. ]

Well, they aren’t lying. Check out this tight maki roll I made using jasmine rice (rinsed two times to keep some of the starch needed to stick the filling together) and carrot sticks. All I did was wet the nori sheet at the ends and a bit in the middle as I went along, and it pulled it tight with the bamboo mat as I rolled it over. And I didn’t have get my hands dirty and tacky at all?? I’m impressed.

In other news, we’re on the hunt for a new oven. I dislike this old cheap version that came with the house, and it now only cooks and bakes on the left side of the oven. I mean… I just can’t even begin to figure that one out other than it’s the broiler or the main element going and simply needs to be replaced, but no matter because we’re taking the opportunity to get something different.

By the way, this same model of old school stove is still sold in stores for less than $400. Good dogs!

All I know is, this stove is making baking quick and yeast breads a nightmare. I have to practically sit beside the oven and watch the action like a hawk as they bake lest they burn or take an extra half hour to cook all the way through. Who has time for that crap? Not me!

[ A Cinnamon Raisin Bread recipe idea I'm experimenting with for the husband ]

[ A Cinnamon Raisin Bread recipe idea I’m experimenting with for the husband ]

What type and brand this new stove will be, I don’t know. We don’t have gas lines on our street, and the kitchen is located too far inside the house to even consider a propane hookup for a gas stove, so I have been researching and reading up on new electric range models. I’m sufficiently frightened by how shoddy new appliances seem to be these days. Worse than when I first starting hearing horror stories 17 years ago from an old boss, if you can believe that.

I get that major appliances will never be built to last ever again, but this seems ridiculous. I don’t have a job where I can take X number of random days off to wait for repair people to come fix or replace parts in a NEW stove just because something like the self cleaning feature runs at a high temperature and burns out the convection electronics, or the dashboard circuit blows on its own a month into owning the damn thing.

Honestly, I should just keep the old stove, but I am loathe to do so. Did I mention the wonky, uneven burner elements on top? No? Well imagine trying to pan fry something and the liquid rolls off to one side of the pan instead of staying in the middle where it’s supposed to be. (It’s my personal nightmare holding the handle as I tilt the pan so food cooks properly because that further compresses the nerves in my neck, which makes the hand I’m using go all pins and needles numb.) At first I thought the floor was uneven and that made the whole stove uneven, but my husband proved it wasn’t using a level. Oy ve. So after bending down and looking at the elements, and pulling each one out and putting them back in, I have concluded these burners have been through hell and back. Enough!

Anyway, back to shopping. I hate Samsung anything (they make good appliances on the whole, but they keep repeating known design flaws for YEARS, over many of their models, so forget that nonsense. I’ve already broken the middle freezer drawer because they use the same weight distribution design flaw that causes the drawer to stick and stall as you pull it in and out of the unit.), and I’m leery of the now crap reputation Bosch has. Moving on, the next three players are: Maytag, Whirlpool and Kitchenaid (all owned by Maytag) who also have their own design flaw — the self cleaning feature that never seems to work. At this point, I’m not even looking for a stove with that feature. I’m happy to hand clean my oven every so often as required.

So that leaves me with a small brand name pool of: Frigidaire, LG and two others I can’t recall right now. All have their detractors online and known past issues with certain models. So far I can’t find one stove, or even one brand of stoves, that stands above the pack. It’s like we’re left to decide between poop and diarrhea. Greaaaat…

And then there is the issue of range surfaces. There are great reasons to go with induction, but my understanding is it requires new pans that work with the magnet attracted elements. I don’t want to replace my pots and pans if I can help it, and I’d really love to continue using my big ole cast iron Dutch pot up top if I can, so that leaves us with an enamel tops but good luck finding one. I’ve looked around and so far came up empty. I suppose I could go back to coil burners but they’d have to be in a certain arrangement that I like (two big elements up front, two small ones in the back) that won’t lead to more neck compression leading to more nerve compression leading to more pain in the ulnar nerves causing me loss of hand use – all because stoves tops are set at 36″ tall and I’m barely 5′ 2″. I just need some KISS platform boots to work at my stove, right? 😉

(sigh)

I’m starting to give myself a headache just typing this all out. Hahaha. Ok, that’s enough for now.

[ My knock-off Tim Horton's tangerine-yogurt smoothie. ]

[ My knock-off Tim Horton’s tangerine-yogurt smoothie. ]

Moving along, I have been testing a few new drinks to add to my Summer Drinks category. The first up was a promising banana latte, but it turned into something that my taste buds rejected outright, and the next one was my attempt at coming up with a Tim Horton’s tangerine-yogurt smoothie knock-off, and this one proved easy to do, and it was tasty! I’ll post that one soon.

Until next weekend, ttyl.

Saturday Morning Coffee Chatter

pastasauceStill trying to locate that awesome banana bread recipe I used at Christmas, but so far no luck. 🙁 Will post it here when, or if, I ever do get it again. In the meantime, I’m home on my day off (so far – work may still call me in yet) enjoying a latte while my Marcella Hazan tomato sauce bubbles on the stove.

I wish you could all smell the inside of our house today. It smells like what I imagine the afterlife will smell like. I’m almost in a dreamlike state of hypnosis. It’s *that* delicious!

I’m also planning to make some sugar cookies for the express purpose of using my new giraffe cutout cookie cutter my husband made me using the MakerBot III 3-D printer. How cute is this sucker?!

2014-02-21 09.33.36So, what’s going on with all of you this lovely Saturday morning? Talk to me.

Stacey Takes A Tumble, Goes Boom

Xmas TreeThis is our small Christmas tree. It’s a fake 4 ft pencil pine tree that I wrapped over 275 mini purple lights around each branch on to illuminate it (from space). I dig this tree, but I’m getting tired of it always leaning one way or another no matter the pot I put it into. Anyway, this pictures were taken last week, so yes that means I left my tree up till the end of January. Nothing out of the ordinary for me. I love the look of the tree lit up at night. It makes me feel cozy and warm on the inside (where it’s gooey and my black heart barely beats).

I also left it up longer this year because I was thinking my brother and his finacee were going to come to dinner at our house right after the holidays, but we got sick and kept trying to find a new date that worked for all of us to reschedule. We’re still trying to do that, and it’s the middle of February now. (sigh) But in the meantime, I broke down the tree and put it all in storage. The next few photos and the story that goes with them will clearly illustrate why I should never procrastinate, or do anything halfway or even in stages when my personal safety is at risk. (snort) Dark Basement LandingOne night last week, I had to use the bathroom, so I decided to use the one in the basement. All of our stairs in the house are carpeted, and we’ve lived here 4 years so far, and no once has this been an issue for me. Not even a near miss of an issue. Until this night. I was so confident in my ability to navigate these stairs in socks that I didn’t bother turning on the light over them. I routinely don’t. I should. I know that now.

Anyway, I got down to the last three steps and slipped all the way down to the landing. In one fell swoop. I felt it jolt in my left leg first, and then the pain in knee as I landed right on top of the knee cap. Hard. Straight down over it. All of weight. My main concern at this moment wasn’t pain or injury, but it was to avoid those two bookcases directly in front of my body as I went down. I did my best to roll to my left side, but it was dark and I forgot I was too lazy to put the ornaments and boxes away in my Harry Potter storage closet, and well… CRASH.

At this point, I will mention it was 10:45 at night, and my husband was on the couch sawing logs. As soon as I crashed into the junk, and the noise stopped, I froze. I listened. Yup, he stopped snoring. Crap. I yelled up, “I’m all right! Go back to sleep!” I had no idea till I got up if that were true, but I didn’t want him to freak out. I jumped up, hobbled down the hall and did my thing. By the time I walked up the stairs again, I knew my knee was fine.

Or was it…?

A week later, I keep hyper extending that knee (especially when I’m at work and have to move around fast and sharply), and this is causing spasms in my left butt cheek as well as my left calf on the outside, and my left ankle on the inside. It’s enough gnawing spasm pain to wake me up every few hours all night long, and to make my leg almost seize as I walk out of work each night.

Yeah, so lights. They’re fairly useful. Apparently. :-\

Dark Basement Hallway

Hiding In Plain Sight

Life is interesting in the ways it can suck up your whole day, or week, or in my case the last two months. Sorry about that. The Yucky News: It started at Christmas when the boy came home from work sick. That illness was his Christmas gift to me. I started to come down with it two days later and it took a long time for it to clear up. Thanks, honey!! (Oy.) At least he went out for McDonald’s takeout on New Year’s eve to feed me as I lay dying in bed.

The Big News: He no longer works for himself. I guess I can tell you all now that he works for Microsoft, at their newest retail store that will be opening this weekend. He’s still doing computer tech work, but more on mobile devices that desktops. He loves his mobile devices so this is also a good change of pace for him. He’s happiest when he’s learning new stuff, much like I am. He’s been putting in a lot of hours with his teammates to set up the store products and to also complete his training modules when he can. There are many of them, and so few hours he can do it, so it’s been a lot of solo time for me but I’m not complaining. I love my alone time. I don’t get enough of it.

The Quick News: So, while I’m home alone today, I thought I would catch you up a bit. There are many things to blog about, but I can’t sit still today so here are a few things we have been doing, feeling, and experiencing lately, in picture form. I would say if you have any questions, leave them in the comments, but in the two months I have been away from this blog, somehow the comments for each post got turned off or removed. I’ll look into that today and see if I can fix it myself. Sorry for that inconvenience.

Greek yogurt covered popcorn – I really want to try making this at home. tI can’t be that hard, right?

Our new X-Box One – This is what made its way from the husband’s workplace to our house last night. Guess who is set to become the latest X-Box One widow? (two thumbs pointing at my chest)

Workplace pep kit – The other day my employers waited and watched the snow storm that wasn’t to see if they should close up show early, but in the meantime, most of us grew bored and sleepy since there wasn’t many people kicking around. Most us us ended up eating out of boredom. I ate and drank. I really like this tangerine greek yogurt smoothie Tim Horton’s puts out, and for some reason I had to have a double dark chocolate doughnut to go with it. Love this flavour combination. It hit the spot and did the trick. I managed to stay awake till we closed up show only an hour early that night. So anti-climatic. (le sigh)

Freezing apple slices in a pie plate – I have been experimenting with an idea I found on Pinterest a long time ago where you freeze your apple slices right in the metal pie plate so they form a pie shape you can then bag and keep in your freezer right up the minute you want to bake it. If this works out well, I will start making a bunch for my aging mother-in-law who loves baked goods but no longer feels the urge to do it all from scratch. This way, she can blind bake a pre-made shell, place the frozen pie shaped apple slices into it, and simply add her butter chunks and cinnamon sugar on top before topping it, and placing it into the oven to bake up. I think she’d like this minimal amount of baking labour idea a lot.

Our new Scion IQ car – The husband drives a lot, and our car of 6 years had lots of upcoming maintenance work needed that was going to add up to a fair amount, so we decided to trade it in an get a new car instead after weighing all the pros and cons. In the end, he chose a car he’s been eying for awhile now, but hadn’t been able to find at a price he wanted to pay. He patiently kept his eyes open until he found the car locally, and it was at the right price, and then we pounced. It’s a super cute car called the Scion IQ, and it’s about a foot longer than a Smart Car, but ours holds 4 people not 2. Since this car was a no-frills deal, he bought a spoiler from eBay and installed it himself (saving half the cost a dealer would charge us). It’s ridiculous to have a spoiler for this car, but it makes me giggle every time I look at it. 🙂

Gift basket filled with chocolates – Oh, and the Toyota dealership gave us a lovely gift basket for buying the Scion IQ from them. It was filled with all kinds of chocolates, so they must have felt bad when I told them that I would never get the chance to drive this cute car since it will be for the husband to boot around in only. Yeah, let’s go with that story. 😉

We also bought a new bed to replace our 8-year-old set that we gave to my brother and his fiancee after they moved to town without any furnishings of their own, but it sagged and sloped off one side making quality sleep impossible so it was exchanged. That was quite an experience to go through let me tell you, and I hope it was a one off because if we have to do that all over again, I’ll be heading to IKEA to buy a thick futon mattress. Without hesitation.

I have more blog stories to post, and I will, over the weekend as time permits. The phone rang. It was work but I didn’t hear it so they left a voicemail, but I can’t recall our password to get that message so I have no idea why they called. If you know our phone’s voicemail password, please let me know. I haven’t the foggiest idea. 😉

Muddling Through

update

1. Found my iFone. It appears to slipped under the shelving unit in the basement that houses our laser printer, toners and paper. The casing on the phone is smooth plastic, and coincidentally a very close shade of teal to the carpeting it slid across, so we kept missing it visually. I had to get down on all fours to spot it.

2. I am feeling better. More with each day. I did manage to test three of the Weekend 5 already, but the last two I haven’t had time to make yet. Those I think I will roll over to this week’s and pick up 3 new recipes to round it out.

3. It feels like Fall out there now. My Roma tomato plants have bit the biscuit. I need to pull those out and clean up the backyard this weekend. This makes me sad. I wish I could grow tomatoes all year long outside. Ahh, Canada and your extreme weathers. :-\