bunchofgrapes: (Cirque - Rainbow)
This is it, the last day of November. That means I've completed a month of blogging. Some of it has been nothing but filler, some of it has taken actual thought. Tonight I'll end with something that takes some actual thought.

In my Thanksgiving post I mentioned that I was thankful for all the people who touched my life as I was growing up, especially my granny. I've been wanting to do a post about her but I knew it would be long so I saved it for last.

Another trip down memory lane )
bunchofgrapes: (Brass - I've got a coupon)
Louise Lombard is following me on Twitter. I know it's because she's new and doesn't get that I might follow her but she doesn't have to follow me back but I feel like I should tweet something clever. Tweeting something like "hey, I ship you and Brass" is probably not clever.

Today is my second day of vacation. So far I've hung pictures, tore a couple of holes in the bathroom wall when trying to hang a shelf, patched the holes, shopped for the holiday care package for my adopted soldier, packed all the stuff in the care package, dropped off clothes at dry cleaners, talked to friend for 2.5 hours (haven't talked to her for several months so we needed to catch up), took cat to vet, and put in some work hours because apparently, they cannot function without me. Tomorrow it's post office, pick up dry cleaning, and paint the patched walls. If I'm lucky and nothing else pops up, I might get some time to write. Might. Sadly, writing was my whole reason for wanting to take this time off. I haven't done any decent writing for so long, I feel like my brain has turned to mush.

I recorded Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer tonight for my cat, Sophie. This is why )
bunchofgrapes: (Washington Capitals)
The Caps fired their coach, Bruce Boudreau, today. I liked Bruce. In his first year as coach he led a pretty pathetic team into the playoffs. And it was a gritty, fight-to-the-bitter-end, slide in backwards entry into that last playoff spot. In their run to the playoffs, when the team won, there was no one more excited than Boudreau. The sight of him jumping up and down was hilarious but I loved his enthusiasm. That first year he won the Jack Adams award for coach of the year. Just recently, as in the last couple of weeks, he got his 200th NHL win. But his players betrayed him. They quit playing. They got tired of him telling them what they were doing wrong and stopped responding to him. When your team quits, what else can you do? You can't fire the team so you fire the coach. I get it. I do. But that doesn't mean I have to like it. Bruce was a great coach. After that first year Bruce's enthusiasm after a win started to wane. He was much more professional, shaking hands with his assistants or maybe just giving them a nod. Just recently, during the current slump, when the team finally pulled out a win, Bruce once again showed that burst of enthusiasm that made me love him. I know that it was probably because he knew a win meant his job was safe for another day but in the end, it all caught up with him. I love my hockey team but right now, I'm really disappointed in them. They cost a good man his job and that makes me pretty angry.

So thank you, Bruce, for giving Washington a team to believe in (the rest of them suck) for the last four years. I know you'll find another coaching job but please, not in the Eastern Conference. Any team you coach will kick our butts.
bunchofgrapes: (Moon)
My neighborhood is almost 40 years old. That's fairly young for inside the beltway but I'm outside the beltway and in my area, it's one of the older, more established neighborhoods. That means we have a lot of rentals mixed in with homeowners. We have people who take very good care of their house and their property and some who don't.

I've lived here for almost 19 years. I've seem a lot of transitions, some bad but mostly good. Because this is an older area surrounded by newer townhomes and single family homes, you get all the amenities, including excellent schools, without the higher rent/mortgage. That means houses don't stay on the market for a very long time. It also means that rentals are snatched up quickly.

I am an end unit townhouse. I love my townhouse because it's two level, not three or four like the newer ones, it has a large balcony off the master bedroom, good size bedrooms (master bedroom is huge), and the living room walks out to a nice little fenced backyard. I'm not a fan of having a big deck off the living room and then the walkout down below. Because it's an established neighborhood, we have mature trees. Lots of them. My yard alone has a huge willow tree in the front yard, a maple on the back corner and a Bradford Pear right behind my fence. I planted the willow and the pear. The maple came with the house. Having so many trees means there are a whole lot of leaves to rake in the Fall. For probably the last 18 years, I've been one of maybe two or three houses on my street to rake leaves but one thing I noticed the year, and especially today, is the way everyone is out, raking leaves, bagging the leaves (usually, if they do actually rake them, they just leave them in a big pile so they can blow everywhere), and generally cleaning up their yards. Like I said, this neighborhood has gone through a lot of transitions and from what I'm seeing, this is a good one. And it's these good ones that make me continue to love my house and my neighborhood.

Oh, and for the record I like raking leaves. I really like it when the air is crisp and smells of chimney smoke but I'll take sunny and 68.
bunchofgrapes: (Adm Nelson - Save the World)
All day today I kept thinking it was Sunday. And even though I'm off work most of next week, I was still dreading Monday.

So far my two greatest accomplishments of this long weekend were raking 6 bags of leaves and getting a couple of 4x6 pictures printed and a picture hung. Yep, feeling pretty proud of myself.

Some time this summer I bought a new computer. I debated between an iMac and another PC and finally decided I didn't want the hassle of a new OS so after some research I went with an HP TouchSmart 610. It's the PC version of an iMac in that there is no desktop or laptop - just an all in one screen. And you can touch it. That's nice to have and all but I'm old school and want a keyboard and a mouse (wireless, of course). I mean, can you imagine typing up a fic using a touchpad on a screen? Like the iMac, I have just one cord to plug in. No mess, no fuss. A couple of weeks ago I bought an HP Photosmart 6510 wireless printer. Again, only cord. And the best part is that it has ePrint so I can print from my Droid and my iPad. I'm really loving how uncluttered everything is now. However, I can't tell you the number of times I've clicked off a webpage just because I tried to clean a smudge off the screen.

My 68 year old mother just got a phone a couple of months ago that allows her to text. So of course she started text-spamming me. The best part? She would put "mom" after every text. I think she finally figured out that I know who it is because she finally stopped signing them. I'm pretty sure that at some point I'll be blogging "shit my mom texts".
bunchofgrapes: (Adm Nelson - sparklers)
I am officially on vacation! The next four days I can completely ignore the Blackberry. On Monday I can mostly ignore it. We're in the middle of a re-org so I'm sure I'll get an email or four that I'll need to answer.

My vacation will be full of fun things like take two cats to the vet, touch up the wall where the stupid cleaning people scuffed it up (just had the place painted too), run errands like drop off and pick up dry cleaning, rake leaves, and gather up stuff to take to charity thrift store. Envious, aren't you? On the plus side there are five Caps games over the next eight days. I do love hockey.

Every year for Thanksgiving I make sweet potato casserole. It's got a topping that's full of brown sugar and pecans and it really is good. However, given that I've cut back on the sugar, I wanted to change it up and make the topping without the brown sugar. A quick search on the internet and I found an awesome recipe that calls for grinding up pecans until they're very fine, adding in a little natural sweetener and a little butter. I roasted the sweet potatoes and put them into the food processor with cinnamon, nutmeg and some egg whites and honestly, if I didn't have to make this casserole, I'd have made sweet potato pie. This looks to be really, really delicious. I'll bake it up tomorrow and see how it goes.

I will now regale you with tales of cat idiosyncrasies )
bunchofgrapes: (Adm Nelson - sexy man)
I'm pretty sure the moment I became a foodie was the day my friend, Jack, sent my friend, Steph, and I to a tiny, nine table restaurant called La Latteria San Marco in Milan. The owner, Arturo Maggi, believes in the alchemy of food and cooks only in silver pans. He also believes that certain foods aid certain organs. I had a dish so simple, yet so delicious that to this day, I still dream of it: farro with mozzarella di bufala and cherry tomatoes, drizzled with fresh olive oil. I'd certainly never had farro before that day and the only mozzarella I'd ever had was the kind that comes shredded in a plastic bag. I couldn't get over the creamy deliciousness of the mozzarella di bufala and the cherry tomatoes were the perfect compliment of sweetness. Farro is a grain and kind of has a nutty flavor. The combination of all three plus the olive oil gave birth to a foodie! My friend, Jack, is a master foodie so the places he sent us in Milan, Rome, Venice and Florence, as well as his own kitchen, were always an epicurean feast. He introduced me to simple delights like cappuccino, mozzarella di bufala, risotto, as well as spaghetti puttanesca, arrabiata, and aumm aumm.

Growing up, I was not surrounded by family who baked or cooked and passed all their wonderful secrets down to me. My mother worked and dated so dinner usually consisted of something from the freezer or a box or that could be made in bulk in the crockpot (beans and stew mostly). My one grandmother that I spent any time with only knew how to fry food. She would give me some sort of fried meat and a plate of lettuce because she said I needed roughage. This was not a salad. It was lettuce.

I'm not sure where my love of cooking came from. I mean, I know I love good food but cooking it? I was never very good at it. Hell, I had to have a roommate tell me once to let the water boil before adding in the spaghetti. But I could follow a recipe and I liked to challenge myself in the kitchen. After that first trip to Italy, I learned how to make perfect risotto and I mastered spaghetti aumm aumm I am a single person but I love to cook, even on work nights but especially on weekends. I bake pies and bread and guacamole in a molcajete and make a wicked miso-marinated Chilean sea bass. This weekend I will attempt salsa, pumpkin bars (with erythritol - found two bags at Wegmans), and lemon bread. I love a great restaurant whether it's a hole in the wall like Dottie's True Blue cafe in San Francisco or something a bit more upscale like Central Michel Richard in DC (DC isn't NYC but it's getting there).

Yep, Jack made me a foodie and I thank him every day.

Tonight I made Puttanesca sauce using Trader Joe's Arrabiata sauce as a short cut for the base (I've made sauce from scratch but hey, I only have so much time in the evening). Arrabiata = angry. Puttanesca = whore. Yes, I made angry whore sauce for my spaghetti. And it was delicious! Recipe is simple and although I added in some shrimp, it's great for vegetarians looking for a spicy, salty, garlicky, tangy sauce.

Click here for the angry whore sauce recipe )
bunchofgrapes: (cat and mouse)
Two weeks ago one of my co-workers, Kris, had to put her cat to sleep. He had cancer and they tried for as long as they could to treat him but he was just too sick so they made the decision to end his suffering. Kris was pretty upset by it and it got me to thinking about my guys, how much they mean to me and how devastated I'd be if anything happened to them.

When you're single you get very wrapped up in your pets, dog or cat. Ok, maybe it's just me but from what I've seen, it's mostly true. They are your companions, your furkids, your best friends. Tucker and Harry meet me at the front door every night. If I don't give them a scratch and say hello first thing after I walk in the door, they follow me around the house until I stop and pay attention to them. If I'm upset (crying, not yelling - that freaks them out), I will either have a kitty extending a paw at me (Harry likes to touch my arm or my face if he's on my lap) or a kitty will get up from wherever they are and come and sit by me (Sophie and Tucker). We have TV night where one lies across my lap, one lies at my side, and one is at my feet. They make sure I am never, ever a lone in any room in the house. Ever. They alert me to someone at the door and strange noises. Harry once alerted me that the security peg on the sliding glass door had popped up. Scared the crap out of me. They protect me from evil critters like insects and that mouse who likes to hang out under the dishwasher (he's never made an appearance but I know he's there because Harry camps out in the kitchen).

I truly am blessed to have these guys in my life and every time I think about how they came to be with me, I just have to wonder if the big guy upstairs had a hand in it. When I lost my kitty, Basil, I thought I'd never be able to find another kitty like him, who would love and adore me as much as he did. I was wrong. I have three.
bunchofgrapes: (Lights)
Today my aunt turned 7. Okay, she's really 63 and her birthday is in February but it's been seven years since her heart transplant so today is her heart birthday. Needless to say, I am an organ donor. If you're not already, please consider it. You'll be doing a great thing for someone one day and they will thank you every day of their new life.

What's more fun than a cat in the hat? )
bunchofgrapes: (The Avengers - Rose)
With Christmas quickly approaching I would like to introduce you to one of the best gifts you can get. It's the Himalaya Accupressure mat. I found out about this from Dr. Oz (don't judge). I got it because all of the reviews I'd read about it mentioned that it helped with insomnia. I don't have insomnia all the time but Sunday night I always have trouble falling asleep. The price is very reasonable, especially if it meant I could get to sleep.

When it arrived, I took it out of the packaging and tried it out. After maybe 5 minutes, I was asleep. Seriously, dead asleep. I wasn't out very long but it was enough to know it works. I started using it regularly Sunday nights before bed and whenever I seem to have trouble falling asleep. I usually fall asleep shortly after and I sleep very deeply, with very good dreams. So if you or someone you know has trouble with insomnia or would just like to sleep better, check out the accupressure mat. I give it two very big thumbs up.
bunchofgrapes: (Brass - Don't fuck with Brass)
Okay, I was wrong. Some of you DO read my Brass-heavy CSI posts, even if they are completely jumbled, and I thank you very much!

I was feeling a little pissy last night because of comments I was reading on one particular board. They are very quick to crucify Brass, saying how he's on the path to the dark side and being a dirty cop because of his actions in last night's episode. Sure Brass defended the cop suspected of being the murder. The guy was a friend. What's he supposed to do? I guess that makes him bad but what makes Brass truly evil? Brass gives details of what a little girl did when she was given PCP. Her mother gave her this dose and later, when they can prove it, the DA decides against prosecuting it because he said the waters were muddied. After the mother is found dead, Brass says the waters aren't muddied any more. He feels like the mother got what she deserves. But what people didn't talk about was Vartann. Vartann investigated a case where an 8 year old boy was murdered by Kevin Fetzer, the victim found beaten on his birthday cake. Catherine tells Vartann how Fetzer died and he says, "someone beat Kevin Fetzer's face in with an arcade ball? There's some justice in that." Vartann's expression when he says it looked a lot more like satisfaction than remorse. Plus he also says that if Mikey Moran had been his kid, he wouldn’t have waited 20 years to go after the guy. So yeah, neither Vartann nor Brass are sorry to see the murderers get murdered but Brass is evil and dark. Of course Vartann used to be Mr. Lack of Sensitivity but now he's Mr. Perfect because he dated Catherine so he gets to skate. Or better yet, Brass's words, even though Vartann's are the same, have a different meaning because of what Brass did for Ray.

Pisses me off.

My consolation is that I've read a couple of online reviews and none of them put Brass down that path. On the contrary they talk about what a great actor PG is and how it's wearing on Brass to see criminals go free.
bunchofgrapes: (Paul G on a Hog)
I'll state the very obvious. Brass fans have suffered the last two years. We really have. But this episode, along with the last episode. Wow. Just...wow. I never, ever saw that coming.

Crime After Crime )
bunchofgrapes: (Brass - loss)
My great uncle Ned passed away last night. He was in his early 90’s and had dementia but he was my grandfather’s oldest brother and his death made me very sad.

My parents divorced when I was 4 and my dad moved away. Except for a few visits whenever he came into town, I don't recall spending any kind of time with my dad until I was 9. With my dad missing from my life, my grandpa became my father figure and I adored him. He passed away when I was 13 and I was devastated. To this day I have never cried as much as I did then and I've always sort of felt like I used up 75% of all my tears that day.

I'd never met my uncle Ned before but when he came to the funeral, I couldn't get over how much he looked and sounded like my grandpa. I was completely taken by him so naturally, I latched onto him for the remainder of his visit. I'm sure he had no idea why. He lived in CA so after the funeral, he went back home and I never saw him again. But at some point, when I was in college maybe, I started getting a Christmas card from him and his wife. So for many years we exchanged Christmas cards. Two Christmases ago I got a card from my aunt explaining that uncle Ned's dementia had gotten very bad and that my aunt could no longer care for him at home so he was being moved into a nursing home.

I saw that he had passed away on my 2nd cousin's Facebook and it has hit me harder than I ever thought it would. It wasn't really uncle Ned's death that makes me so sad. It's because I remember him from my grandpa's funeral and that makes me miss my grandpa all over again.

Oh, and if it weren't enough that uncle Ned passed away, eight days ago, his younger sister, my aunt Velma, passed away and at work, also yesterday, a good friend's uncle passed away. What is it about deaths in the months of November and December?
bunchofgrapes: (Adm Nelson - That all you got?)
Every time I hear that little girl say "it gives me warmth" in that Quaker Oats commercial, I have to wonder if they couldn't find an actual little girl. Seriously, what kid says "it gives me warmth"? Kid talks like she's someone's grandma.

My stupid neighbors have an equally stupid dog named, Ranger. I'm not sure what he mutated from but he is the ugliest dog ever. And he barks. All the time. The best part though is when he runs loose in the neighborhood, barking at people, almost getting hit by cars, and then standing on the sidewalk in front of his own house and barking incessantly. They put him in their backyard (I know this because he barks non stop while he's out there) and he gets out but the stupid neighbors are too lazy to go and get him. I also wonder if they understand that it's not okay to let their dog run around off leash because when they do actually take him out, he's rarely on a leash. Sad to say but I honestly would not shed a tear if he got hit by a car and more than once I've thought about calling animal control. Unfortunately, it's always late at night. I really hate that dog.

Can I just say that I have to bite my tongue every time someone on one of the CSI boards says something on CSI is "not realistic". The whole show is not realistic. It failed to be realistic the first time it made CSIs do anything more than gather up and process evidence. It's dramatic fiction and even though they might do research and base it on real cases, they take a whole lot of liberties, especially when they have Nick Stokes break down a door and corner a suspect.

Obviously, if you are a twentysomething person is Russia, Ukraine or China, you have nothing better to do than sign up to forums on your birthday (they always pop up under "birthdays" and they are always in their 20's) and then either post gibberish or links to meet your new, hot(?) bride. Honestly, I probably delete half a dozen of them a day. Used to be more but given how huge the IP ban list is, I think I've covered a good chunk of the spambot world.
bunchofgrapes: (Third Doctor)
Every Sunday night I set out my recycling for Monday morning curbside pickup. I do this the night before because the recycling pickup can be very early or very late and I don't want to miss the pickup. I pretty much recycle everything - junk mail, catalogs, cardboard and the usual plastics and aluminum. By doing this I only have to set out my regular trash every two or three weeks. I only bring this up because fall and winter around here can be pretty windy and windy doesn't always bode well for recycling containers or the stuff in them.

So let's go back to early this year. It was cold and when I put the recycling out, it was very calm. However, as often happens, sometime after midnight the wind started howling. Around 4am I heard the dreaded sound of a recycling container rolling down the sidewalk and all of its contents going with it. Well, the last thing I want is to have all my crap littering the neighborhood so what do I do? I get up, put on layers of clothes over my jammies, grab a coat and my flashlight and head outside to pick up the scattered cans and containers. I try to be pretty quiet because people are asleep and really, I don't want to be seen picking up crap at four in the morning. I've pretty much gotten every thing when I hear a door open and out comes my neighbor putting out his trash. He gives me a cheery wave and I wave back. You know, just like it's every day you see someone out in layers of clothes, picking up cans and containers at 4:30 in the morning.
bunchofgrapes: (O)
At the end of April, I flew out to San Francisco for a few days of vacation. My cousin flew down from Portland and we met up at the airport. She definitely got the better flight deal but I didn't care. I love San Francisco.

Take me to the city by the bay )

Molcawhat?

Nov. 11th, 2011 10:48 pm
bunchofgrapes: (Brass and Cath - Dinner)
Last Christmas I decided I wanted a molcajete. Not sure why I wanted one but apparently I was on a quest to make great guacamole and I'd read some good reviews. I put it on the Christmas list my stepmother asks for every year but when Christmas rolled around, I was sad to find no molcajete. So, like any good girl who doesn't get what she asked for, I did a little research and ordered one from Williams Sonoma. I decided to order it and have it shipped because the thing weights a ton and I didn't really want to lug it around a mall. I mean seriously, drop it on your foot and you're looking at crushed bones. Also, Williams Sonoma's molcajete is already seasoned and believe me, the last thing you want is an unseasoned chunk of porous basalt because your guacamole will be full of black grit. Not good.

The first couple of batches of guacamole were just okay. Thankfully, no grit but the flavor wasn't amazingly yummy like I'd been led to believe. However, what I learned is that just like a cast iron skillet, the molcajete needs to be seasoned. And seasoning comes from whatever you've prepared in it because it's impossible to fully clean the thing. Sounds kind of gross but probably no worse than a really great cast iron skillet. So after about four or five batches, I can honestly say this thing makes some of the best guacamole I've ever had.

So, if you're looking for the perfect Christmas gift that will make your family say molcawhat?, doubles as a weapon, and makes FANTASTIC guacamole, then this little stone bowl is for you.
bunchofgrapes: (Brass - pwns)
Last week's episode was kind of meh. This week I couldn't keep the brain's straight but who cares because this episode made me very, very happy.

So Much Brass Goodness )

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