Monday, February 28, 2011

Snuggle buddies

Very mature, guys

In case you ever wondered what happens when my friends and I get together and play D&D, it typically devolves into something like this:

Flotsam and Jetsam

My parents came down to see us this weekend.

(This is why I wasn't posting.)

I'm always glad when my parents come to visit, or when we get to go visit them. I realize that this is not the case for everybody--some people deeply dread seeing their parents--but I always really enjoy it. Somewhere along the way I grew up, and my parents and I realized that we genuinely liked each other, rather than just putting up with each other because we're family and ergo love one another.

Blessings abound in my life.

*    *    *    *    *

The tax return finally came in on Friday!

*le happy dance!*

This means that Wednesday the pieces and parts for Frank's replacement will arrive on my doorstep. This is a happy circumstance.

Viiiiiideoooooos. Muuuuusic. Photoshoooooooop....

This really makes me extremely happy. I've missed being able to clean up pictures and post things for ya'll.

Especially recipes.

*    *    *    *    *

I hate food poisoning.

Sam and I have reached a place that whenever we eat out, nine times out of ten we get something and split it. This helps with both a) costs and b) portion control, since I'm too old for the kids' meals and too young for the senior menu.

The downside is that if we get a hold of some bad food, we both go down for the count.

Unfortunately, this means we also missed Something Catchy's Oscar party, which sucked.

*    *    *    *    *

Words with Friends finally succeeded in invading my life.

I've known about it for well over a year, but for one reason or another I never bothered to put it on my iPhone.

While Mom and Dad were down, I got to talking to my Mom about it, and before too long we both had it downloaded and had started a game.

Needless to say, within 24 hours I also had a couple games going with Adorable Nurse and Literary Cat.

*    *    *    *    *

Fact: I lack will's discipline when it comes to the 356 days of blogging idea.

Though it took some time, I've finally made my peace with that.

Still, I find it amusing and exciting that by the end of February I already have more posts this year than I did for all of 2010.

If for some reason I suddenly stop blogging for months on end now, it will be because I posted this. I don't know why that would happen--I really enjoy doing this--but whatever the external excuse would be, the root cause would be this little segment.

That's way my luck runs.

*    *    *    *    *

Sam and I have decided to try and plant a garden this year.

I have no earthly idea what I'm doing. With our luck, there'll either be an overabundance of produce, or not a single thing will survive. Personally, I'm hoping I take after my Grandpa Jim, who used to grow orchids in his hothouse on the farm.

My husband an I talked about doing a garden last year. (For the record, it still makes me giggle happily inside when I get to call him my husband.) We were poor and living in an apartment, however, and by the time we moved to our little house, it was too late to jump in. This year, though, we decided to make the attempt.

You can blame the movie Food Inc. and the book The Hundred Year Lie for that.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Unintentional Themes

So, it would appear that this is my video game week, even though that was not my intention starting out.

Life's funny that way sometimes.

Anyway, today's random bit of entertainment comes courtesy of will, who left me this link in my post about Civilization 4.

I laughed for at least ten minutes after watching it, though I do have to warn there is a little bit of language in it. Later that evening I showed it to Sam, and we started looking at some of the other videos that Brental Floss had done of "What if             had lyrics?"

They were suitably hilarious, but I will warn that some of those videos (particularly the one for Zelda II: Link's Awakening) are Not Safe For Work.

However, there was one in particular that I wanted to share. It's in a different vein from the other videos that we looked at, and I find it strangely beautiful.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Epic Win

Courtesy of Hip Gamer, who spotted it on Game Informer (which has a larger version of the pic).

Fan Art was originally done by Ag+ (you can see the original site here, though I must warn you it's all in Japanese).

I totally wish I could by this as a poster, because I think this just might be the best piece of Fan Art I've come across in any of the fandoms I follow....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Civ 4 is consuming me

My brother picked up the original Sid Meier's Civilization when I was about seven years old. When he wasn't around, I'd try my hand at it, because if my Big Brother was playing it, then it had to be awesome.

(Big Brother is ten years older than me. This resulted in a lot of hero worship on my part.)

It took me a whole year and multiple tries before I finally beat it on the easiest level, but I was so bloody proud of myself for it.

A few years later, after Big Brother had left to join the navy, I got my hands on Civ II. I played it for a couple of months and then lost interest in it.

Fast forward to college, where I was constantly looking for a game to goof on instead of reading for my classes. One night while going through my old games, I came across Civ again and decided to fire it back up. (DOS emulators for the win!) Things that had confounded me at eight were now blindingly obvious. I set out and beat a game of it in a weekend. Later I pulled Civ II out of storage, and I've periodically played it off and on ever since.

I like to play as the Russians. I don't know why.
Since installing Civ 4 on Friday, Sam and I have been playing it several hours every day, trying to figure out what's new and different. The last couple of nights we've been trying our hand at a multi-player game (which I suspect is a direct result of finally beating FF13 after getting it at Christmas. And by finally beating it, I mean getting all but one of the achievements. *grumbles about stupid Treasure Hunter*)

All of this to say, even though I'm continuing to keep an eye on the internet for new and interesting things, my brain power is currently dedicated to trying to take over the world through religion and culture.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Made my very first lolcat today...

I hope you like it!

Cant bee smawt-allack..

Pssst. Go vote for it!

It's dangerous to go alone

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the original Zelda's release in Japan.

This makes me happy, but also make me feel incredibly old. I was almost two when it came out.

The first game system I really remember is the NES, which my brother got for Christmas one year, I believe. My father's reasoning was that it would save money in the end, because every time you died in-game, you didn't have to pay another quarter to play again.

My family fell in love with Zelda when they played it. My parents and big brother spent hours and hours drawing out maps for each of the dungeons on graph paper. Not only did they make the layouts, but included what enemies were in each room, where to use bombs, what needed keys, and the best routes to take to find everything and beat the dungeon quickly.

In the intervening years, we have recopied those maps on at least four different occasions, because the previous versions would grow so old and yellow that you could hardly see what was written on them any more.

The Legend of Zelda's been such an integral part of my family's culture, that it became a right of passage to beat the game. I believe I was about 11 or 12 when I finally beat it. I had downloaded an NES emulator onto my computer and started playing through it. Mom saw what I was doing and told me to dig out the NES and play it old-school.

Mom and Dad then proceeded to guide me through the dungeons and give me tips and hints. Prior to that, I had always manned the maps and told them where to go.

It was a bizarre feeling.

This past Christmas, we guided Sam through the game. It was a bit different of course--they had downloaded it onto the Wii, since the NES now lives with Sam and I. Still, after a couple of days Sam had destroyed Ganon and rescued the princess. When he had finished, I heard C-3PO in my head saying, "You are now a part of the tribe!"

(I know the original quote is "we are now a part of the tribe," but that's the wonderful thing about imagination--it can adapt.)

So, it is with great joy that I celebrate Zelda's 25th anniversary!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Never meet your idol

I completely empathize with Troy (the kid) in this video.

And yes, Community is an awesome show.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Not that I would ever do this

Never. At all.

Okay, maybe once. Maybe.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tiger loves socks

Until tomorrow, my friends.

It's all Star Trek's fault

"I hate driving in Dallas. Assholes," grumbled Sunshine. Long strands of his hair were covered in oil and sawdust, sticking out every which way. It made him look a little like a mad scientist.

Several of us were sitting on the edge of the stage, injecting more caffeine and sugar into our systems on our break.

"Tell me about it," I replied. "Of course, my Dad would consider it a walk in the park. He went to high school in L.A. after all, and learned to drive there. Though, he says it wasn't nearly as bad back then in the sixties as it is today." I then proceeded to take another swig of Mountain Dew in a vain hope of not feeling quite so bloody tired.

"That explains it!" exclaimed Props Guru, looking up from where he was carving foam a little further down the stage.

"That explains what?" I asked, looking at my other coworkers and seeing they were just as confused as I was.

"You. I've been trying to figure you out for over a year. You grew up in Kansas, went to a Baptist school, and yet your whole outlook is incredibly liberal. I just knew there had to be something," Props Guru explained, long fingers flying about and emphasizing his words.

At the description of me as incredibly liberal. Audio Mentor had to suppress a laugh. I could tell. Honey, his eyes seemed to say. you are a moderate. Don't ever let them try to tell you otherwise.

Before I could say anything, however, Props Guru leaned forward, asking eagerly, "Your dad was a Californian hippie, wasn't he?"

For a brief moment, I considered setting him straight. As far as I knew my father was never an actual hippie, and he'd hated living in California. Dad couldn't wait to get back to Kansas.

But Props Guru looked so utterly pleased with himself.

With a bemused expression, I replied, "More of a biker, but yeah. I guess you could say that."

Sorry, Dad, I thought to myself. I don't have the time, patience, or heart to explain it's all Star Trek's fault.

Hard sacrifices

I grew up in a union house.

My mother, once upon a time, was a union steward at Ma Bell (yes, back before they broke up into the Baby Bells we all know today). My father has been a proud member of the IAM union for well over 30 years, and even though he's now retired, he still pays his dues to the union.

Papa went on strike five times during his time at "the flying-B ranch," if I remember correctly. As a child, I didn't really understand the significance of it. It just meant that every four years my Daddy would vote on a contract, and sometimes that contract was bad and my father would be home a lot more than usual.

As I grew older, going on strike in my head meant financial worries and stress for my parents--would we be able to pay our bills, have food, etc. The food, of course, was supplemented by the union. Cereal, beans, rice, peanut butter, flour, sugar, canned corn, canned green beans--anything that had a shelf life and was cheap. But the rest of it... I knew families that lost houses, or cars, or got way behind on bills because they were on strike.

My parents lost their first house due to a strike. It's why I grew up in my home town.

But, for all of that, I never remember either of my parents expressing regret for "going on strike." They also instilled in me the idea that it was The Right Thing To Do when necessary.

I remember how angry my parents would get when the local media would try to present the strike as an argument over wages. My father told me more than once that it wasn't about wage increases, but what was happening with the benefits. In the sixties, seventies, and eighties, the company (in exchange for not raising wages at the time) agreed to pay for their employees' insurance, to provide pensions, and to ensure that a worker could not be arbitrarily laid off because they were making too much money in comparison to younger workers. Later on, as health costs started rising and pensions became rarer and rarer in industry at large, they would try to take those away from the workers. And the union, because they could negotiate their contract for the group as a whole, could go on strike and force the company to honor previous agreements and ideas.

Because these people were willing to put their homes and families' well being on the line, they would walk away with a better contract than what they started off with (or, at least, one that wasn't worse than the previous). And because the big manufacturers in the city would provide benefits or increase wages for their workers, the smaller industries in the are would follow suit to a certain extent, and everyone benefited.

Too often, people who go on strike are presented in the media as these lazy, greedy people who are trying to screw businesses out of profits. In reality, these are often people who work in dirty, dangerous, and/or tedious jobs, and oftentimes would work more than 40 hours a week at it. And they'd put everything on the line to help their fellow workers out.

I started thinking about all of this, because I've been keeping an eye on the situation in Wisconsin, where the governor there is trying to push a bill through the legislature to remove the right for public employees to do collective bargaining, a.k.a. have unions. I've also been reading about the thousands of protesters who've been storming the capitol, even to the extent where the governor has been forced to do government business at a nearby corporation because he could not get into the capitol building.

I confess, I did a bit of cheering in my living room this afternoon when I read about various members of the state senate who have gone out of state to prevent there being a quorum so that the legislation does not pass.

Basically, I wanted to let my little part of the world know that I support the workers in Wisconsin. Because I do understand what it's about, and I'm proud of them for making hard choices.

After all, I grew up in a union house.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Brain not working today

Tried off and on all day yesterday to post. Tried off and on all day today to post.

It just isn't happening.

Part of it is I feel like lately all I've been doing is dropping links on ya'll, and I'm sure that gets boring after awhile. Part of it is that I'm really wanting to get back to posting some recipes, but until we get our tax return and can build a new computer, I flat don't have the processing power to edit the photos.

And trust me, you want me to edit the photos.

Part of it is that I also keep wanting to type up something similar to these posts here, but apparently nothing interesting enough is popping into my head, despite seeing friends all weekend, going up to the city, celebrating Valentine's Day, etc.

So, basically, this is a "I'm not dead yet!" post. Maybe the brain will start cooperating with me again soon.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm off to continue preparations for my dinner date tonight with my husband. It may or may not involve pasta, salmon, and cheesecake. You'll find out tomorrow.

In the meanwhile, enjoy these fun Valentine's "Facts."

Friday, February 11, 2011


For about a decade of my life, I worked in theatre in one capacity or another. Over the course of that decade, I had a 20 foot A-frame ladder dropped on me (three times), I fell off the stage (more times), I fell in holes on the stage (twice), fell down a flight of stairs (once), and fell off a truss (once). Those are just the major injuries--doesn't include burns, cuts, sprained ankles, etc.

I tell you this not to make you feel sorry for me, or to comment on my klutziness, or even to brag in some perverse way. I'm telling you this to make my next few statements make more sense.

(It's not whining, it's context.)

The past two days saw snowfall (on Wednesday) and sub-zero temperatures (on Thursday). This meant that every part of my body that was damaged over the time I spent in theatre flared up with pain and refused to let me get anything done.

Yes, even blogging.

And, unfortunately, I won't be getting much blogging in today, as it's finally warm enough that I can move around the house and accomplish things. This is good because the poor house has been neglected (Sammy has been amazing about trying to get the essentials done, but he is working from home as well), and as such most of today will go to whipping it back into shape.

This evening, Rapier Wit and Literary Cat will be coming into town for the weekend, and we're hoping to spend a good deal of time with them. At the very least, tonight will be D&D and tomorrow will be Zios (mmmmmm... good stuff) and general hanging out.

All this to say, if you don't hear from me until next Monday, I promise I'm not dead, just out enjoying the world. That's not to say it's an impossibility I'll post stuff between now and then, but the chances are significantly reduced.

For that, here's a picture of a cat:

This is Nala when we were living in Dallas. Picture courtesy of Sherri.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sorry about the lack of posting today

I've been feeling a bit sluggish (in the Ron-Weasley-and-his-broken-wand sense of the word) and under the weather (in the oh-my-God-the-sky-is-falling sense of the word), and so haven't done the updates I'd planned for today.

However, I do have a couple of Star Wars things to share with you before disappearing for the night.

Firstly, check out this awesome poster retelling A New Hope in icon format.

Secondly, take a look at John Scalzi's article about what characters improve, flat line, and decline over the course of the trilogies.

And with that, I bid you a fond adieu.

A little pick-me-up

It's cold and all of my joints are letting me know it (not to mention my three cats and the snow falling outside).

But I came across this this morning, and it immediately brightened my day. It's from Not the Messiah, which is the oratorio version of Life of Brian.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Too cute for color TV

I promise I do other things than look at lolcats, but when I have them delivered each day to my Google Reader... well, I get cute things like this video to share:

Alright, so Sam came home early this afternoon to get out ahead of the storm, and will be making up for it later this evening. But, before the state turns into Snow-klahoma (what a horrible, horrible name), we're going to go walking. If I don't catch ya'll later this evening, I'll see you tomorrow.

Stay warm!

Really, guys? REALLY?

Apparently there's another huge snowstorm that's supposed to hit tonight.

This doesn't overly surprise me, as I'd been hearing this since the last snow storm finished, but I was still rather hoping it wouldn't happen.

(A girl can dream, yes?)

Now, with all the snow that's been going on the past couple of months, I've heard all types of punny names for it--snowpocalypse, snowmaggedon, etc. Today, however, I saw one that make me want to cry.

Snow-klahoma? Really?!

The possibilities are endless

What with the death of Frank, coming across this story on Boing Boing was particularly poignant for me.

See, Frank? There are still possibilities for you...

Which is it?

Once again, thanks to Reddit for showing me this (which I in turn get to share with all of you!).

You can find where it was originally posted on Olly Moss here.

Good morning/afternoon, my dear friends. Hold on to your hats, more snow is coming!

Monday, February 7, 2011

A happy lullaby

to leave ya'll with for the evening, since Sam's coming home early and should be here before too much longer.

(You can blame this picture for why this song has been stuck in my head.)

If I wasn't having roast for dinner tonight

I would totally want to make this recipe that Pioneer Woman just posted on her cooking website.

It looks easy peasy, and I actually have four cheeses in my refrigerator right now.

(When Sam and I were at Wal-mart contemplating an emergency replacement for Frank, we saw how the store was quickly being bought out of groceries. [Sherri got the last package of bacon!] We did an impromptu grocery session, which Sherri was kind enough to suffer through after having finished her own grocery shopping, and in the process bought 3 cheeses to add to the one(s) we already had at home.

It was crazy.)

However, I already have a roast in the oven and bread rising.

But I think I might grill up some salmon and make this with it later in the week.

Or maybe for Valentines.



Anyway, this is also an excellent opportunity to direct your attention to the link over on the right side of the page for Tasty Kitchen. No, further down, below the labels.

Too far! That's my Flickr photostream.

There you go.

That leads you to my profile on Tasty Kitchen, which has printable versions of the recipes I've posted so far.

Please, go give Tasty Kitchen some love--it's a great website, and has lots of excellent, tasty recipes.

That is all.

To all things there is a season

Beeeeeeep. Be-beep.

Beeeeeeep. Be-beep.

Grey-green eyes met mine, a hint of panic in them.

Beeeeeeep. Be-beep.

My hands clenched around the cup of coffee I held, mouth tightening into a thin line. This was not how I expected my Saturday morning to go.

Beeeeeeep. Be-beep.

It's dead, Jim.

Okay, I didn't really say that, but those were the words that flashed through my brain as that awful sound continued.

Beeeeeeep. Be-beep.

Finally, Sam couldn't take it any more and turned Frank, his beloved computer built from scratch, off.

The silence was almost worse than the beeping.

"Let me go see what I can find out," Sam said, grim lines appearing at the corner of his eyes.

As he went into the other room to do some research, I closed my eyes, breathing in the soothing steam off my coffee.

It's going to be okay, I told myself. We've fixed Frank before, we can fix him again.

I don't know how long I sat that way before Sam finally returned.

"Well, from what I can tell, that particular sequence of beeps means the video is out. Whether that means the card or the motherboard...." Sam shrugged with one shoulder. "Let's hope it's the video card, because if the motherboard is out, well, if we have to replace the motherboard, we'll have to replace everything. Frank is too old..." Sam trailed off.

Taking a deep breath, he continued on, "...Frank's components are just old enough that they're incompatible with the newer motherboards."

Please, please let it be the video card.

*    *    *    *    *

"Just think, honey! You're going to have twice as much video memory. Photoshop'll work like a dream," Sam enthused as he set about switching out the video cards.

"That'll be nice," I agreed, not quite as enthusiastic. I had what felt like a band of Mexican jumping beans doing the Macarena in my stomach.

Sam chattered on as he switched out the cards, occasionally tapping out some upbeat rhythm on the table with his screwdriver.

I kept myself busy taking care of morning chores that'd been neglected in our mad dash to the city to fix Frank.

Finally, the moment of truth arrived.

Sam flipped the switch.

I held my breath.

Beeeeeeep. Be-beep.

What followed was a string of colorful metaphors, the like of which I care not to repeat in this setting.

Beeeeeeep. Be-beep.

Sam quickly turned Frank back off.

With a sigh he plopped down on the couch, head in his hands. I walked over and began absentmindedly rubbing the back of his neck.

"It's okay, darling. We can rebuild him. Faster. Better. You'll see," I said.

It's going to be a long couple of months.

Coffee is my friend...

I swear there have been mornings where my cats are doing this:

Courtesy of
This morning may or may not have been one of them.

I know it is no where near morning--in fact, it's nearly 2 in the afternoon. I also know I haven't posted since Friday.

There is an explanation for this, which I will share later this afternoon/maybe tomorrow. It is a sad tale full of misery and woe.

(So you can mentally prepare yourself, you know.)

But, I have a roast in the oven and bread rising on the counter. The snow is melting(!), and Sam and I will finally get to go walking again tonight. So things are good.

And now that I have this awkward randomness out of my system, maybe I'll go back to posting things for ya'll.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Kitties and metronomes

Sam, as many of you know, is a musician. More specifically, Sam has a masters in double bass performance.

My cats, over the past couple of years, have grown used to Sam practicing an instrument, whether that's a double bass, 6-string, violin, or piano. They have also, over the past couple of years, become familiar with the metronome.

Which is why, when I came across this, I about died laughing, because it could so totally have been Techie and Nala.

This is for all you people who like FPS...

Everyone has something they're not good at. For some people it's writing, for others it's dancing, for a few it's social situations, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

For me, that something is First Person Shooters.

I grew up watching my Dad and brother play games like Castle Wolfenstein and Doom. Later I watched friends playing Halo and Quake. Eventually I married a man who also enjoys the occasional Half Life or Call of Duty.

I, however, am not built to play such games. I have accepted this.

And I do enjoy watching people play these games. But I always wonder, when watching them, just where in the blazes they store all of that equipment--multiple guns, ammo, rocket launchers, grenades, chain saws, crowbars...

And now, thanks to Reddit, I know:

Home again, home again...

Grandma Nena is finally home after three weeks away.

This is a moment of great rejoicing throughout the land.

Unfortunately, due to the weather, she did not get home as quickly as she could have, but yesterday my parents made the arduous trip through the ice and snow to get her back home.

Three cheers for Mom and Dad!

I'm glad my Grandma Nena is well enough to be home, and praise God that He has taken care of her once again.

It's good to be reminded of the excellent things happening in your life, even if all you can see is a sheet of white every where you look.

And the people cried unto the Lord to save them...

My magnolia trees are weeping.

They're wondering who they've wronged in life to be afflicted with such a horrible fate. Should they have allowed that squirrel to stay? Maybe they should have stopped dropping so many leaves in the neighbor's yard. Perhaps they simply grew up in the wrong lawn. Whatever they've done, they're crying out for forgiveness and for the warmth and light of the summer sun.

I'm afraid they're going to have a long wait.

I woke up this morning to snow falling at a goodly clip, and they're predicting we'll get another couple of inches of snow today, with the possibility of another big winter storm around Tuesday.

What's happening in your part of the world?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thanks for Playing!

So, sorry for inundating ya'll with links all day. I understand if you didn't look through them all--there were quite a few of them. But, like I said, I wanted to share, and it provided lots of little breaks for me in the midst of doing all of my chores.

(Speaking of, I need to go move the towels to the dryer after I hit post.)

I hope ya'll had a good day. See you tomorrow!

Incredibly Smart Baby

You don't have to watch all ten minutes of this (to be honest I only watched the first 3 minutes or so), but it's an incredibly cute and smart two-year-old girl who knows her periodic table. :-D

How was the trip?

*bat* *bat* *bat* *bat*

Opening one eye, I see Nala's nose a mere inches from mine. With a sigh I reach up and scratch her ears, then close my eye and try to go back to sleep.

*bat* *bat* *bat* *bat*

Nala's decided I've been lazy enough for one morning, it's nine o'clock, and by golly she's going to bat at my face until I get up and get dressed.

For a brief moment I consider opening a Chinese restaurant, but decide she's too cute and I love her.

After stumbling out of my bed to brush my teeth and get dressed, I proceed to continue stumbling to the coffee pot before sitting in front of the computer.

I wonder what everyone's up to today? I think to myself as I open up Facebook.

Oh look, the local university has closed down for the third day in a row. They never did that while I was in school there. Kids these days... Hey, my friend posted pics of her wedding dress! She's so pretty. I hope I can make it down to Houston for the big day... Wow, I wish I was going back to London soon, lucky dog...

Having caught up on all the little updates that Facebook provides, I then move over to my blog reading, starting with people I actually know.

will's kid is so gosh darn cute. Makes me want a little one of my own. Literary Cat has posted new list of books for me to check out, awesome! Ah man, she's got a cold too. Can't blame Sam for this one--he hid away while Rapier Wit was in town. Aww, thanks Sherri! I now know exactly how much snow fell 'round these parts...

*   *   *   *   *

You may be wondering why I just posted a snippet of my morning routine--it's setup for this fascinating op-ed over at Mashable about how social media is making us more like our grandparents' generation.

Here's the core of Josh Rose's argument:
Our grandparents talked with their parents. Family dinners were an essential part of life, not to mention ball games, religious discussions, family outings and just plain hanging out on the porch. But the culture of our parents’ generation became somewhat more escapist; James Dean, punk rock, The Outsiders, TV dinners, video games, and yes, even the Internet.
But, a good portion of our grandparents’ sensibilities are back today, thanks to social media.
Kids aren’t blocking their parents from their Facebook profiles — well, OK, some are, but not all of them. Teens are texting their parents about their comings and goings. And although it looks a whole lot different than the Cleavers’ family dinner, in a strange way the book is wider open today than it has been in 100 years. Because of blogging, tweeting, checking in and status updating, the lock is off the diary.
Additionally, emotions are more accepted. Pain more vocalized. I know someone on Facebook who is dealing with cancer and posts regularly about that for all her friends and family to see. We are rediscovering what we once knew inherently; community makes us less lonely.
And in many ways I see that reflected in my own life, as shown in the snippet up above. Even though I live in a completely different state from a large swath of my friends and family, I still know when people are going on trips, what the weather is like there, and how everyone's kids are doing in school. Having grown up in a small town, that doesn't seem very strange to me, as I typically knew that information about the people in the community. But I can see how it's easier now than it was when I was a kid, and I can also see why this is such a novelty for many people who did not grow up in a town of 10,000 people.

What do you guys think?

Sesame Street Meets Marvel Comics

Thanks to GeekDad, I now know about this absolutely awesome T-shirt:

For those wondering, GeekDad breaks the characters down for you:
Sesame Street gets the Marvel treatment today as it’s cast of Muppet characters are re-imagined onto the cover of Fantastic Four #1. Here we can see Cookie Monster taking on the role of Thing, Big Bird as Mr. Fantastic, Elmo as the Human Torch, The Count as The Invisible Woman, and Oscar the Grouch rounding things out as the villain Giganto. Even Bert & Ernie make an appearance as a two-headed character, expanding the group from four to six.
If you want this shirt, hurry on over to, because they're only selling them until midnight tonight!

Mmmm.... Butterbeer...

Yes, I know it's because electricity doesn't work correctly at Hogwarts.

As some of you may know, I'm a bit of a Harry Potter fan. While I may not have cared for the final book (and I think part of that is because I'd been in the fandom as much as I was--I need to reread Deathly Hallows), I did love the community it inspired. Particularly fanfiction.

It is my hope to one day make it out to Universal Studios and visit their Wizarding World at some point. Until then, however, I have this lovely post from GeekMom talking about the intricacies of Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice, and various potent potables available in Hogsmeade.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful....

I cracked up when I saw this, because it reminded me of the Christmas my parents and I visited my brother in Seattle, and they got 14 inches of snow while we were there.

(In Seattle, they only had 1/2 dozen or so snow plows at the time, and all of them were up in Snoqualmie Pass.)

So, courtesy of FailBlog:

Attention Deficit Oooo Shiny

Cabin fever is starting to rear its ugly head.

Sam and I have not left the house (not even to go out onto the porch) since we went to the store on Monday.

Partially because Sam has been fighting a major cold for the past week, and partially because every time in my life I've ever played in the snow, I've gotten sick.

True story.

Be that as it may, we are hoping to make an excursion out into the cold this afternoon, if for no other reason than to get milk and see sunlight.

Unrelated to this, this morning I've hit a veritable jackpot in links I want to share with ya'll this morning. I debated between doing one massive post with everything, or a bunch of baby posts throughout the day.

I think I'm going to go with the latter.

So, if you're reading this through an RSS feeder (I'm looking at you, Sam, Dad,) you may have to actually click over to the site, because for some reason videos and pictures don't always pop up in Google Reader.

Don't ask me why, I don't know.

Let the games begin!

Isn't Tiger adorable in her box?

May the Force Be With You

Came across this on Boing Boing yesterday, but with the amount of time I spent making the Chili post, I flat forgot to post this.

So instead, you're getting this first thing (kinda) this morning:

Confession time--how many of you out there tried to use the Force as a kid?

*raises her hand too*

I thought so.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Three Pepper Chili

As I'm sure you've gathered, we have a fair amount of snow 'round these parts, and with wind-chills down around -20 at times, I find myself wanting lots of nice, hot food.

Also, my Sammy has a bit of a cold, to put it mildly, so he's been eating lots of spicy food to help clear out the sinuses.

Thankfully, I have something to fit both of those bills and is something you can make, throw in the crock pot, and forget about for awhile.

And I wanted to share the process with all ten of you who've been dropping by.

(Yes, my numbers have grown some! Here's hoping they're not fair-weather friends like the Russians and Swedes have been....)

With all of this in mind, I somewhat proudly present:

How to Make Three Pepper Chili

Once again, here's our cast of characters:

Present and accounted for is diced tomatoes, onion, dark red kidney beans, tomato sauce, light red kidney beans, ground beef, sausage, butter, red bell pepper, Serrano pepper, and a jalapeño pepper.

Yes, those last three are why I call this Three Pepper Chili.

Today's spices consist of garlic powder, ground cumin, onion powder, ground coriander seed, cayenne pepper, black pepper, ground sage, salt, oregano leaves, paprika, marjoram, chili powder, and red pepper flakes.

Now, you're probably thinking, "Wow, that's a lot of spices--even for you!" Trust me, my friends, this is totally worth it.

To start off with, let's prep all of the veggies, beginning with our good friend the onion.

 We're going to chop this wonderful, smelly baby up.

Most people will likely dice this instead of chop it. However, I like a really chunky chili, and having large pieces of onion just makes me happy.

Then again, I'm a bit weird.

But please, make the onion pieces as large or small as you (and your potential picky eaters) like.

 Next we're going to chop up the red bell pepper. Normally, I just lop off the top of the pepper, pull the core and seeds out of the center, and start cutting it up.

When I'm cutting it up, I like to cut off the whitish bits and throw them to the side. I know some people who don't worry with that, but I sure do.

After you've trimmed all icky white stuff off, go ahead and dice up the bell pepper into 1/2" to 1" chunks, again depending on how chunky you like your stew.

This here is our friend the jalapeño. 

(Love the jalapeño--it will do wonderful things for the chili.)

Again, start by lopping off the top of the jalapeño. 

Here's the inside of the jalapeño. And yes, I once again forgot to wear rubber gloves while handling the hot peppers.

If you are so foolish as to do this, be sure to wash your hands very thoroughly every five minutes or so while making the chili.

And then again every 10 minutes or so the rest of the day.

And whatever you do, do not rub your nose, your eyes, or any other sensitive membrane on your body.

Trust me.

Anyway, I digress.

Slice the jalapeño down the center. Next, using your gloved hands, start ripping out the core. Once you've removed as much as you can manage, rinse out the remaining seeds.

This should leave you with a pretty jalapeño, similar to what's pictured above.

Just as you did with the bell pepper, trim off the white stuff as you cut the pepper into strips...

...and then finish dicing it up.

Now, with the jalapeño (and later the Serrano pepper), you'll want to go ahead and dice it up fairly small.

Lastly, we're going to chop up and dice the Serrano pepper.

If the jalapeño is our good friend in this chili, then the Serrano pepper is the life of the party. It's totally the Jeff Winger of the chili.

Also, without it I couldn't call this Three Pepper Chili.

Again, lop the top, split it open, scoop out the innards, and trim off any remaining white.

And again, please, in the name of all that is good and holy, wear gloves!

And then proceed to finish up dicing them.

Congrats! You've now completed Chapter 1: Prepping the Veggies. Please insert Disc 2 to begin Chapter 2: Browning the Meat.

And while you're waiting for the disc changer to finish loading up the next installment, go ahead and throw away all of the extra stuff from the veggie prep.

(Yes, I'm being slightly silly. I blame the fact that Sam and I have been in our house without leaving for over 48 hours.)

Once again, my dear friends, we're going to start by throwing in two tablespoons of butter to melt in a 10-inch skillet on medium heat.

Yes, a great deal of my cooking begins with sauteeing  onions and/or garlic.

In this case, it's going to be 1/2 cup of the onions we prepped earlier.

Once the butter is melted, go ahead and throw these lovelies into the skillet.

While occasionally stirring the onions to make sure they don't shrivel up and stick to your pan, go ahead and dig out your pound of ground beef...

...and your 1/2 pound of sausage. I personally like to use J.C. Potter sausage with sage, because a) no MSG and b) sage! Yum!

Go ahead and cut up the meat, so that once the onions are nice and translucent, you can throw the meat in.

Look at that--these babies are ready for some meat.

So go ahead and toss it in. In this photo, I have the sausage in the center and the ground beef around the edges.

I don't know why, I just did.

So of course I had to mix it all up. Also, at this time I added 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, black pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper, ground coriander seed, and chili powder to the meat.

And yes, we'll be adding more of those same spices (plus others!) to the chili later.

Keep an eye on the meat and stir it occasionally, again to prevent burning and sadness. After a couple of minutes, you should have completely browned chili meat.

Congrats! You've now completed Chapter 2: Browning the Meat. Please insert Disc 3 to begin Chapter 3: Into the Pot.

(Please don't leave! I won't do it again. Promise!)

Now that the meat is completely browned, go ahead and turn off the heat and transfer the meat mixture into the crock pot.

If you steal a bite of the meat, I won't tell.

Next, grab your plate with all the veggies and add them to the crock pot as well, then mix it all up.

Next, open up the can of the light red kidney beans and drain off the juice. It doesn't have to be perfect, but at least get the majority drained off.

Then go ahead and it add them to them to the chili.

Drain the juice off of the dark red kidney beans and add them as well.

(Isn't it pretty?)

And then go ahead and mix it all up. We're getting ever closer to actual chili!

Next we're going to open up that can of diced tomatoes and add them to the mix.

Don't forget to mix it all up afterwards!

Now, before we add the tomato sauce, we're going to add in the rest of our spices:

1 teaspoon of onion powder

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of paprika

1 teaspoon of black pepper

1 heaping teaspoon of cumin

1 heaping teaspoon of chili powder

1 teaspoon of ground sage

1 teaspoon of ground coriander seed

1 scant tablespoon of marjoram

1 scant tablespoon of oregano

and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.

Also add 1 teaspoon of salt and 2-3 pinches of red pepper flakes (not pictured).

Makes my sinuses start to run just looking at all that spiciness.

Be sure to mix this up very thoroughly--try to make sure those spices cover everything, top to bottom.

Now we can go ahead and add the tomato sauce.

And then once again, stir it all up.

Set your crock pot on low, put on the lid, and then walk away for six to eight hours. If you want, you can stir it every couple of hours or so, but it's not required.  This is an excellent meal to make in the morning before you leave for work or school!

Bon appetite!


Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 6 hours
Size: 8-10 servings
   1 whole medium yellow onion
   1 whole red pepper
   1 whole jalapeño
   1 whole Serrano pepper
   2 tablespoons butter
   1 lbs. ground beef
   .5 lbs. sausage

   1 15.5 oz can light red kidney beans
   1 15.5 oz can dark red kidney beans
   1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
   1 29 oz can tomato sauce
   1.5 tsp garlic powder
   1.5 tsp onion powder
   1.5 tsp paprika
   1.5 tsp black pepper
   1.5 tsp cumin
   1.5 tsp cayenne pepper
   1.5 tsp ground coriander seed
   1.5 tsp chili powder
   1 tsp salt
   1 tsp ground sage
   1 scant tbsp oregano
   1 scant tbsp marjoram
   2 pinches red pepper flakes

1. Wash and dice up onion, red pepper, jalapeño, and Serrano pepper.

2. Melt butter over medium heat in 10 inch skillet. Once melted, add 1/2 cup of onions and sautee onions. 

3. Next, add ground beef and sausage. Add .5 tsp of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, black pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper, ground coriander seed, and chili powder. Mix thoroughly with meat, and cook until meat is browned. Remove from heat.

4. Add meat mixture to 6-quart crock pot. Next add remaining onion, red pepper, jalapeno, and Serrano pepper. Mix. Then add light red and dark red kidney beans, and mix again. Finally, add tomatoes and mix thoroughly.

5. Add 1 tsp of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, black pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper, ground coriander seed, chili powder, salt and ground sage. Also add oregano, marjoram, and red pepper flakes. Mix. Add tomato sauce. Mix again.

6. Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours.