Thursday, March 29, 2012

Threaded comments (aka Welcome to this century, Blogger!)

You know I don't normally post boring techie stuff here, but I happen to know tons of you use Blogger/blogspot, and tons of you don't have threaded comments yet.

YES. Blogger has threaded comments now!! 

Threaded comments = when you can reply individually to each comment. We've all tried the majorly flawed outside commenting systems, which just jacked our blogs up big time, and then we had to delete them, and for some of us that meant losing years worth of comments, but who's bitter? Not me.

*fist shake at the sky*

I am about as dumb as they come when it comes to HTML, so if I can do this, so can you. Just do the following:

Make sure you're using the Embedded comment form, rather than a pop-up window or whatever else you might have going on. (Settings > Posts & Comments > Comment Location > Embedded)

This may not work for you. It didn't work for me. What did work was the following:

Resetting the Widget Templates. First, back up your template in case something goes majorly wrong (nothing went wrong on mine). Then go to Template > Edit HTML > (acknowledge the warning and click "Proceed") then click "Revert Widget Templates to Default, and Save the template. And back up your template first, please! Just copy and paste the whole thing into a word doc or whatever.

That did the trick for me. If it doesn't for you, you probably have a fancier, more customized blog than I do, and you need to consult Dr. Google.

So far, I am majorly happy. No hiccups. Just the joyous ability to respond to each commenter individually. I don't think it notifies the commenters when you respond to them, but nothing's perfect ...

Godspeed!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Trippin' balls


Maybe what determines whether or not a movie is any good is whether or not it makes you continue to think about it later.

But maybe not.

Because I continued to think about this movie, The Tree of Life, but most of my thoughts go something like this: 1) I sure wish I was into dropping acid. 2) Jessica Chastain (Celia Foote from The Help, of all people) is awesome. 3) Gah.

I had no idea what this movie was about but I ordered it from Netflix because it was nominated for three Oscars (and should have won best cinematography) and won a whole shit-ton of other awards.

Here's what this movie is about, in a nutshell: It's about a family in the '50s, interspersed with existential whispering and images of the formation of the universe, complete with meteors and dinosaurs.

I know. Who knew?

It was damn weird.

But I really liked the formation of the universe stuff. And what was very cool about that portion was that special effects were in part by a consultant named Douglass Trumbull (think 2001: A Space Odyssey), who had not worked in Hollywood for almost 30 years. So much of what you see was produced with chemicals, paint, dyes, smoke, liquids, carbon dioxide, flares, high speed photography, etc. 

The results are amazing. And the portions that are not special effects are also stunning. Even if the movie is hella weird.


Brad Pitt as Mr. O'Brien; a mean, mean daddy. 
Heath Ledger was supposed to play Mean Daddy, but then he died. 


Jessica Chastain. Brilliance. Should have been nominated. 


I guess you should see it. Critics say it's polarizing. You either love it or you hate it. I haven't decided what I think yet.



Monday, March 26, 2012

God bless the Internet

There was the time my husband tried to make steak and mashed potatoes (from a box). Major disaster.

And the time he made breakfast burritos and we both felt ill afterward.

So I should have known that something as deceptively simple as a quesadilla would end in what amounted to five minutes of murderous rage on my part.

A tip: Criticism is like poison in marriage. I just read that today. It's best if, when you feel like criticizing your partner, you cram ten or so girl scout cookies in your mouth or run screaming out the front door or whatever it takes. Just, for godssakes, give it half an hour and a shot of tequila and then come back to it.

Even if your husband melted a spatula all over your brand new stainless steel pan.

 


There are boulders in life, and there are pebbles. This is a pebble. Just repeat that while breathing deeply.




I scrubbed. And I scrubbed. And I scrubbed. And I cursed. And, oh, I criticized. And I was fucking pissed, dude. Let's just be straight up. Why would you use the same temperature that you would use if you wanted to boil a pot of water when you are simply making a quesadilla? Whyyyyy. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? We shall never know, my fellow women. We shall .... NEVER ... know.

These men ... oh, these men. 

My husband said I could buy a new pan. And I vindictively decided I would buy The! Most! Awesomely! Expensive! pan I could find. Ever, in the world. Except then he would probably melt a spatula in it or try to wash his boots in it or something. Don't ask me why they do it, ladies. 
They simply do.


So I went to Google.

And Google said Thou Shalt Weild Thy Baking Soda Within a Simmering Pan of Water ....




And Thou Shalt Allow It To Simmer For a Few Minutes ....



And Thou Shalt Use Whatever Instrument Thou Deemest Worthy To Scrape Thy Unholy Melted Plastic From Thy Pan .... 


And I did.

And it was good.

 Well, good-ish. It looked like this. Less plastic, more scrape-age, plus some fun brown shit. 

And then Google proclaimed:

Thou Shalt Weild Thy Ketchup Bottle ....



And Thou Shalt Squeezeth it Unto Thy Pan.



And Thou Shalt Spreadeth Thy Ketchup On Thy Shit Stains And Leaveth It To Sit While Thy Surfeth The Internet.




And I did.

And it was good.


 Half an hour later, BAM. It ain't perfect, but it's a helluva lot better than it was.


I'll never let him touch you again, baby.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dishcrawl

I wondered which restaurants could possibly be on a Dishcrawl in my hometown of Milpitas. See, Milpitas doesn't have a downtown, and if it's known for anything it's largely the combined odors of the dump and the waste water treatment plant that waft eastward and can be particularly offensive on a summer evening.

I personally know of a couple hidden gems in the town and to date those restaurants are still the best I know of in Milpitas (Casa Azteca, Sen Dai Sushi, Burrito Express, Pizza Box). Lots of people know Milpitas is also home to a couple of enormous and well-liked dim sum restaurants. I'm not a dim sum fan, though, so ...

In any case, a friend of mine is the editor of an online newspaper for Milpitas and she asked if I'd like to join her for this Dishcrawl. I couldn't resist, even though it was a Wednesday evening and I'd literally spent the day being pooped, peed, and barfed on by a small human and all I really wanted was a large glass of wine and my pillow.

Without further adieu, here are some photos and a couple snippets from the evening.

We started at Ta Restaurant on Abel St. It's Vietnamese.  It's said to be quite busy at lunch but the place was deserted at dinner time. They have a full bar and a comfortable dining room.

 Spring rolls with shrimp and wasabi sauce. These were quite tasty. 


 A salad with noodles, a little chicken and a variety of vegetables. I initially really liked this dish but later found myself urping up the mint taste of it. 


 Caramelized chilean sea bass. Fairly tasty. I'd say the most attractive points were the tenderness of the fish and that it came out steaming hot. 


The next restaurant was called Taste Good Beijing Cuisine (it's Chinese). The name cracks me up but the food was my favorite of the night. Their jasmine tea was delicious. The chef is said to be quite famous in China. My favorites: The steamed bread and meat (rou jia mou -- the name doesn't do this justice. It's super spicy and flavorful) and what I'm going to call a Chinese quesadilla. The great thing about this place is the entire menu comes with photos so you can figure out what everything is.


 Steamed bread and meat in the upper left. Here I'm eating stir-fried pork in a tofu wrap. Yummy but didn't stand up to the other items on the plate. 


Final restaurant - Tikka Bytes. This restaurant apparently began as one of those gourmet food trucks we've been seeing so much of lately. Here we tried garlic naan, something called Mushroom 65, and chicken tikka masala. It was a decent Indian meal I wouldn't mind hitting up for lunch, but have to admit it wasn't the awesomest ever. Their chai tea was quite yummy.



So there you have it. Should you ever find yourself stranded in Milpitas and hungry, I hope you know what to do (get out as quickly as possible, in case that wasn't clear).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Solicit this

I keep thinking about this guy who showed up on my doorstep on Thursday with a pocket full of sweaty, wrinkled brochures. When solicitors arrive, they hold their brochures out to you; they push their hand into your space, past the threshold of your door frame. It's a move designed to encourage you to take the brochure from their hand, but I advise you not to do this.

As is disarmingly and frequently true when it comes to solicitors, I later couldn't figure out what exactly the guy was selling. His sweaty brochures contained photos of children's books, and I guess I was supposed to choose a book to donate to St. Jude's. Spoiler alert: I did not choose a book to donate to St. Jude's. Unless the person standing on my doorstep is under five feet tall and wearing a girl scout uniform, I automatically assume they are lying their ass off.

Anyway, this kid is of indeterminate age. I wonder: Does this kid attend the high school near my house? I'm thinking probably not, because he talks like he's from New Jersey. And then I wonder: are they busing in kids of indeterminate age from New Jersey? One female solicitor over the summer told me she'd been bused in from Los Angeles. She was very, very good at soliciting, and I bought a container of purple all-purpose cleanser from her. It works great.

This kid, though, wanted me to high-five him for some reason, and seeing as how I was feeling surly and not in the mood to be suckered into buying something fake, I said No. He looked surprised. I wondered: Is he asking all my neighbors to high-five him? I imagine Bupesh high-fiving this guy, and I like the idea of that.

This kid says if he gets enough donations, he will go to Italy. Perhaps it's some kind of program for New Jersey youth to go check out all that pasta and the fountains and statues and stuff. I'm quite a bit more confused about how donations to St. Jude's are connected to New Jersey youth traveling to Italy.

And then he asks me if I can manage to muster some enthusiasm for him. I raise my eyebrows. I have a sink full of dishes I was washing when he interrupted my task, and I'm wearing an apron that smells like butt cheese. Don't worry; I've washed the apron now and it smells much better, but I think all of winter's baking splashes began to fester and the thing was stinking to high heavens. I hoped my friend from New Jersey could smell it. In any case I just raised my eyebrows as if to say: I wonder if you requesting that your customers muster some enthusiasm is a viable sales tactic. Oh certainly, kid. Sorry if I seemed unenthusiastic about your Mystery Business Proposition, of which I know only that you would like me to high-five you and there is a possibility you will be sent to Italy.

Undeterred by my eyebrows, the New Jersey youth pulls his crumpled brochures from a back pocket and explains the whole St. Jude's thing and then he holds one of the brochures out to me, his hand sliding past the threshold of my door frame, successfully popping my bubble of personal space that I prefer not to have popped, ever, by anyone, especially not annoying and strange youth from New Jersey who show up on my porch unannounced.

What I think all door-to-door solicitors need to understand is that there are maybe five people in my life who are allowed to show up at my doorstep unannounced, and the rest of the world, even if they are dear friends of mine, are not allowed to do that. So you are already operating at a disadvantage, see? Most times I don't even open the door, and if I do you can bet my irritation level is at Threat Level Orange.

I didn't take the brochure and told the youth I wasn't interested today and he said Have a nice evening, Miss, but I can tell you that what he was really thinking was very rude and would have been quite offensive. I know this because I had a rare and brief telepathic moment.

I see the youth jaunt across the street to my neighbor, Mary, who speaks with him through her window before sending him on his way. She later texts me that he told her she didn't look very happy. She told him she didn't know what the hell he was doing on her porch. I'm paraphrasing. In any case I think this particular youth could take soliciting lessons from the woman from Los Angeles selling purple all-purpose cleanser. Or the girl scouts for that matter.



Monday, March 19, 2012

Crockpotgasm

'Twas a weekend of crockpotting.

And a successful one at that. First is the obvious crockpot dish -- corned beef. You throw the meat and spices in the pot, throw in some water, cook on low for 8 hours, and bam, done. I use the meat water to boil potatoes, carrots, and cabbage, and then we feast. 'Tis a tradition.

 A portion of our Irish feast. The remainder is in the pot.


But this next crockpot recipe is something new I found on a website called Pinterest. Maybe you've heard of it.

I JEST.

Of course you've heard of Pinterest. You either think it's the best thing you have ever seen in your entire life, or 'twill be the ruination of the human race. Related: Why does everyone have their panties in a bunch about Pinterest? Humans! Silence!

This recipe is aptly called: Crockpot Chicken Tacos and it comes from a blog called Chocolate Therapy. 

Here is what is awesome about Crockpot Chicken Tacos:

1) Tastes awesome.
2) Hella easy.


 Yes, that is raw meat. Sorry. 

The crockpot portion of this recipe contains three simple ingredients:

1) Chicken.
2) a packet of taco seasoning.
3) a jar of salsa. I used Herdez. When my husband tasted this he asked me to remember to always use Herdez because this recipe is the shitty bomb. That's a good thing, by the way.




Raw meat turns into THIS! The breasts get very tender and you can shred 'em up in a jiffy.


And then ... you slap the chicken in a small flour tortilla, throw on whatever you like ... I used lettuce, salsa, avocado, cheese, and sour cream. Tomatoes would be nice but I was out. 


 As I said, it is the shitty bomb. In a really good way. 

Leftovers can be used for burritos, salads, tostadas, sandwiches, scrambles, etc, etc. 'Tis good. 
Really 'tis. 



 And in case you are unaware...
 Green Valley Organics is making a really delicious lactose-free sour cream these days. 
This is a godsend to my husband, because regular sour cream makes his butt explode! 


Toodles!

Friday, March 16, 2012

(Lighter) creamy cajun chicken pasta

I sort of can't believe I haven't told you guys about this recipe already. Particularly considering that it's become one of my husband's favorite dishes of all time. He says it tastes like something you'd get in a nice restaurant, and that it's his most-loved Italian-ish thing I make.

I have Eat Live Run to credit for this, once again. You can bet your bippy I'm buying her cookbook when it comes out. It thrills me a little bit that she lives in the wine country, just a couple hours north of me.

The true beauty of this recipe is that it involves only a handful of ingredients and takes about twenty minutes to make.

Pasta, cream (don't worry -- you only use 1/4 cup), chicken breast, shallot, garlic, diced tomatoes, creole seasoning. Please ignore the drying dishes on my counter top. Space is at an all-time premium in my kitchen right now. I sense a major cleanup/reorg coming soon. 


Another beautiful thing about this recipe is that you use creole seasoning. I don't know about you, but I bought this stuff to make God knows what one time, and never used it again. 
Well, it's a true gem in this dish. 


While your pasta is boiling, you just saute your chicken with some seasoning, then remove it from the pan and cook your shallot and garlic. Then dump in the tomatoes and cream, and a little more seasoning, simmer for a couple minutes, throw the chicken back in, stir in your pasta, and DONE.


It's not an overly-saucy dish, and might not look like much in the picture. 
You'll have to take my word for it that it's basically the bomb.
It's a complete miracle that I have leftovers that I get to eat for lunch today. 


I normally like a very saucy pasta, but this is the exception. 
Besides, each noodle is well coated with this delicious concoction. 
I've also renewed my love affair with grated parmesan -- the powdery kind. It's delightful.


My husband preparing a forkful. He really, really loves this dish, and he has a rather trustworthy taster. I'm just glad he likes something that's so easy and quick to make. 

If you haven't checked out Eat, Live, Run yet, you should. Click here for the recipe.

And have a great St. Patty's Day! I plan to post photos next week of our Corned Beef Feast.



Thursday, March 15, 2012

Three Months

My wee niecey turned 3 months old yesterday. I can't decide if I feel like the time has passed slowly or quickly. But looking at her as a newborn, versus now, is surprising.

A couple hours old.

A day old.

Two months. 

Two and a half months.

Three months. 


Babysitting is a humbling experience. This week's philosophy is to not overstimulate the baby. I tell Ava what I'm doing, when I'm doing it, and I'll be damned if she doesn't understand. Honestly -- I think she finds it reassuring. 

Just this week she began noticing her toys. Maybe she'd noticed them before, but never with me. Now she has an animal-like focus on them. She wants to grab them, but hasn't figured it out yet. Soon. 

She also began noticing the cats for the first time. I've been waiting for this one. Simon jumped up onto the couch while I was holding Ava. She furrowed her brow and stared at him intently. 

She's smiling more than ever (but try to catch it on camera -- nearly impossible). She coos. She will sometimes scream, inexplicably, for long periods. These moments shake me to the core -- I won't lie. 

Ava and I have three more months together, before school is over and my sister is off work. I can't wait to see what she does next.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Bachelor: Season Finale

I think we all agree this is the absolute worst season of The Bachelor, and probably the worst season this particular franchise has put out -- including all the awful Bachelorettes and Bachelor Pads.

And it wasn't because Courtney was a bitch. I mean, Courtney was a bitch, but the reason this season sucked so very, very badly is because:

1. Ben is vapid. He has zero tact and his vocabulary sucks. He overuses the word "incredible" to the extent that if we'd decided to take a shot every time he said it, I'd be dead right now.
2. Courtney decided to stop being a bitch. You put it out there, girl. Own it. If you think any of us are buying this Sweet Courtney act, you highly underestimate us.
 
Anyway, let's talk about a certain three hours of my life that I can never get back. 

We start off with Ben's mom and sister, who seem like two very normal, kind people. I cannot possibly get over the fact that Ben's sister looks like him in drag.




It's not her fault. If I met her and I'd never had the displeasure of seeing Ben, I'd think What a pretty girl! Unfortunately now all I see is Ben wearing lipstick. 

Ben's sister wisely says the fact that Courtney didn't get along with any of the girls is a "red flag." All of America agrees and shouts as much at their TV sets. The sister and mom are wary of Courtney being a model and his mother reminds him of something she says often: "Beauty is only skin deep." This is a clue, folks. Ben thinks with his little head, often. He's always going after the cheerleaders and ignoring the equestrians.

Lindzi is the first to meet Ben's family. We all know Lindzi is making the best first impression a person could possibly make on someone, at least the best impression you can make with a giant zit on your chin.


 That is totally something that would happen to me. 

Lindzi had a HUGE opportunity to throw Courtney under the bus when Ben's sister straight up asked her why Courtney was such a ho. But, no. Lindzi took the high road and was all: "We're very different people." Understatement of the season. 

Anyway Ben's family loved her.

But then following some enormously uncomfortable conversations between Courtney and Ben's family, suddenly his sister and mom are all gung ho on Courtney. I don't believe for a second they actually liked her. There was no video evidence that they liked her, at least. I think Ben told them: Look, I'm picking this bitch and kicking the other one to the curb. Make nice and act like you like her.

There's a lot of filler programming at this point, during which I eat a sandwich and play a few rounds of Draw Something. The top two things I noticed during this portion of the show:

1) Ben and Lindzi's chemistry is so awkward. Lindzi is saying all the right stuff but her eyes are totally dead. Someone is slipping her hundred dollar bills to keep on humiliating herself. My husband remarks: "This is hard to watch because he hates her so much." And it's true. Ben seems completely disinterested.
2) Courtney reads Ben a thoughtful love note straight from her blackened heart. He says it's "nice." I'd be like, "Nice? You thought it was 'nice'? I'm sorry, I need someone with a better bank of adjectives."

Then comes what we've all known was just around the corner. Rejection city, baby.

 What's up Lindzi? You're a total babe but Imma get with that other snatch. 


 Dead eyes while she's proclaiming her undying love. A producer slips her a fiver.


This is the look of true shock, wouldn't you say? Actually, no I wouldn't. She could barely muster the tears. Because it's all a sham, people!!

Lindzi says if he marries Courtney, he's a "total fool." Correct! She also tells him if it doesn't work out with Courtney to give her a call. Lindzi, how about you take some of that money the producers have been giving you and go buy some self-esteem instead?


 Then Catwoman arrives. 


 And our hero is like, your black leather gloves took my breath away



And she's all: I really want to move that disgusting piece of hair off your forehead right now, but instead I hope you interpret this facial expression as adoration. 


 I knight thee Sir Douchebag.


 WINNING!


 Together forever and ever and ever and ever and ever until they break up 2 months later. 


Then we move on to "After The Final Rose."

 Ben's hair is slightly longer and he looks like a cross between a pirate and a chipmunk. 

Ben says the Courtney he saw on TV is not the Courtney he knows. He says they broke up during the airing of the show. He CLAIMS he has not cheated on her and that recent photos of him making out with other girls are old photos/not him/it's him but they're not kissing in the photos. He seems unsure of which lie to go with.

So this ... 

And especially this ...


is not him kissing other women.

Ben says when these photos appeared in the tabloids, Courtney went out and tried on wedding dresses to throw everyone off.


Which is certainly confusing.

Then it's Courtney's turn to come out. Everyone boos loudly.

Chris Harrison LITERALLY ASKS THE AUDIENCE TO WITHHOLD THEIR JUDGMENT OF COURTNEY UNTIL SHE'S SAID HER PIECE. (peace?)

And I'm all, Chris Harrison you are smoking crack rocks. 


 And these girls are all .... 

 Um, no. 



 And then Courtney shows up. She looks like a million bucks. 


 She says Ben abandoned her during her time of need. Kick his ass to the curb then! 


 They decide they are still engaged. They deserve each other. 


 Ben appears to show genuine emotion, which is more than I can say for Courtney. Courtney makes plenty of crying noises, yet nary a tear falls from her eye.


Guess who doesn't show up at the After the Final Rose taping? LINDZI. Doesn't the second to last girl usually get to be on that show? Poor Lindzi. She got robbed.

In conclusion, this season sucked donkey balls. I honestly don't know if I can/should recap these things in the future. Maybe once I've recovered from Ben's season I can, but for now I am majorly disillusioned. I mean, I realize the entire premise of this show is bonkers, but it's often much, much more convincing than this season was.

For now, 'tis time for us all to put the damn thing out of our minds.