Sledgehammer, anyone?

We made it back to Paradise in some order. That is if you count the fact that the RT and I would have been first in line for any offer of a head transplant so full of goop and germs ours were we wondered if we could even survive the flight. Have you ever been on an airplane with a head cold? I have vivid memories of pain in my ears that rivaled that of childbirth. But Nyquil tabs and Halls cough drops actually did the job. Sleep, incredible pressure just before we landed, and delirious staring at the RT mess around with the Paint software on the MoH’s laptop. It is now his screen saver, lucky dude. I’d share, but I left my camera in VA.

The MoH kicks into doctor mode whenever we go on long flights, so we drank that stuff the school teacher made up before we even left Paradise. You know, that fizzy stuff that tastes like bad citrus soda? Feh. The woman that was hacking and snooting in the row across from us must have had our names written on her microbes. The US Postal Service should know about her. The RT was the first victim, and I succumbed immediately afterwards. By Christmas evening, we would have qualified for a balloon gig in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Staying up until the wee hours of several nights with foolishness, revelry, and a pagan bonfire thrown in for good measure sealed the deal.

I’m sick.

Like a dog. Me.  On Nyquil and Bad Commercials

Okay, so I’m really just laying on the couch with my dog watching one inane commercial after another while overdosing on DIY television. What is up with the guy selling that slice-o-matic thing who YELLS in every commercial he’s in? Get out the hook for gawdsake. And the lady who used to do the “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” commercials? I swear she’s all babed up in the new ones. How convincing will that be? Sheesh.

The RT and I have been oozing around the house since our return last night peering through red-rimmed, slit eyes and talking only when necessary with gravely voices. The RT has been spared the achy, stingy Grand Canyon of a throat ache that I have, so he’s had some time to mess with his new computer, practice a few chords on his brand spankin’ new guitar that Santa brought and the two big boys unwrapped for him in a family iChat session on Christmas Day and doncha just love technology?

So here I am, filling your day with merriness.

I’m off to bed armed with several chick flicks I’ve seen a million times.

That should do it.

See you soon.

Promise.

Cheers to You, Family, and new Gaming PCs.

So we made it to Virginia and after a few days of very grey skies and a refreshing chill in the air, it totally warmed up to near 60 degrees and then rained. Sheesh. And today?

The freaking sun is out. What’s up with that? You would think that when you fly across the damn country for the holidays at least it could pretend like it was going to snow. Feh.

That list I made before I left had to get done or we wouldn’t have been able to get on the plane. So no problem there. When the shuttle driver arrived at the front door to collect us, the house was decent, the presents for the older boys were snuggled under the tree and as an added bribe to them to take care of the house while we were gone, we had the RT open one of his presents we couldn’t take…a gamer’s computer (HP Pavilion Elite) with a 22″ flat panel monitor and a humongous graphics card (XFX GeForce 8800 GT XXX) and I have to swagger around a bit when I say that even though I have absolutely NO idea what I’m talking about) that had to have its own power source (or some kind of a fan thingy installed). We had it installed before we left the store (Fry’s Electronics, thank you very much and NOT BEST BUY Bwhahahahahahaha Losers…) by a sales/tech guy who was completely cool, talked the entire time he was putting it in and answered everyone else’s questions at the same time — including “The Wife” on his cell a couple of times regarding being home on time for a change. The guy works 16 hour days. Amazing. We came home with a fist full of rebates I now have to complete so we can actually have a few checks in the mail at some point in the next century. I’ve done them before and I swear we never get anything out of them — most likely because I forgot to cross a “t” or dot an “i.”

Now the cool thing about this computer is that it also functions as a TV, so that helps us out a bit in the area of ensuring that we can all be in separate rooms watching different programs and never see each other ever again. Trick. AND (drum roll…) now neither the MoH or the RT has to use my Mac. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT.

Seriously. It’s mine, mine, mine. ALLLLLLLLLLL mine and they don’t get to TOUCH it.

EVER. So I’m sure the two older boys (okay, so they’re men, but you know how that goes when you’re the mom, right?) are enjoying it while the RT is away. And you can imagine the RT is sweating a bit because he had to leave it at home and is now stuck in this female infested house for the holidays. My sister does have a Wii, though, so people have been having a blast with that. I haven’t succumbed, but most likely will tonight after a couple glasses of wineski.

Enough of that nonsense.

So I just wanted to let you know we were all alive and well, have celebrated my mom’s 70th birthday in true style (there wasn’t a fancy dress in the house…) and took some photos I’ll have to try and share later. Totally hilarious. Oh, and “we” constitutes my sister’s family (husband and two younger daughters) her oldest daughter and her boyfriend (who left Monterey, CA to live here instead and are holed in upstairs indefinitely..) my mother (who’s living in the basement sort of indefinitely, but actually more like temporarily…) a dog, and three cats who all have to be kept away from one another. Oh. And us. Quite the household.

Today, more lists are in order — but they’re the lists I’m good at that include miles of ingredients and a sequence of what to prepare in which order. With one last trip to the grocery store (there have already been two…) we’ll be ready to hunker down for a fun night of dessert making, toasting (instead of the roasting we did to my mom last night), and preparing for our holiday breakfast and then dinner later.

The MoH and RT are out today with my seester doing the turismo thang in D.C. I’ll venture out on Wednesday (which is our wedding anniversary) and make like a tourist myself. Maybe I’ll even twist the MoH’s arm a bit for a swanky dinner or something.

In the meantime, I sincerely hope you are warm, doing what fills your heart — regardless of what it is — and that you are healthy.

Thanks for visiting my little space in the Bloggosphere so often this past year. You have helped to take me from the exhausted, burnt out, frazzled, and completely flattened person that I was, to a person who laughs much more than she used to, and who has also recovered something she thought she’d lost for good — writing.

YOU ROCK!

Making a list. (gasp!)

Lights Oh. My. GAWD.

I’m soooooooooooooooooo not ready. Are you? (Everyone but meleah can answer because I already know her answer. She’s a stud.)

I must be desperate because I have my notebook out for a list. Do you have any idea how long it’s been since I made a list for something other than possibilities for a dinner menu, recipe ingredients, or groceries? Hmmmmm?

Forever.

Like I said. Behind.

  1. I still have to get my car smogged so I can get a certificate to mail in with my license fees before the end of the month.
  2. I have to get a couple more gifts for the Middle Son. Fine. So I’m splitting hairs.
  3. I’m making piles of presents to sort out what’s traveling to VA and what’s not.
  4. I’m making Christmas dinner for 16 or so while we’re there, so I’m close to having the menu done. Oh, and breakfast, too, so those recipes are ready to go (have you ever heard of Fat Momma’s French Toast?)
  5. I have successfully completed my December Daring Baker’s Challenge that will be robotically (bwahahahahaha!) posted this coming Saturday at Sass & Veracity, so if you want to laugh your ass off, make sure you check in so you can snort your coffee through your nose. Everyone should be able to say they’ve done it at least once in their life. Suffice it to say, I’m donating the product to the middle school down the street. I’m sure the office staff will have inhaled it before I can make it out the door before they ask what it was.
  6. I bought Christmas cards and think I’ll get around to doing them tonight. The “authorized”service provider for our television and Best Buy will not be on my list. I did find a very cool box of Coal Candy at Restoration Hardware, however.
  7. I made an executive decision and am postponing baking cookies until after New Year’s (how’s that for being an ingenious slacker?)
  8. Most of the house is decked out for our house sitters (The Oldest Son & The Middle Son), so they can feel our holiday lerve and open their presents on Christmas day without us. Of course we’ll probably set up an iChat session so they can see how many of our faces can be crammed into the screen at one time and yell “Merry Christmas!” effectively eliminating any angst caused by our leaving them here because they had to work. Sprucin’ up the Place  More Decorations
  9. The RT has to clean his area (because he has managed to get it back to the condition it was before I painted and organized it.
  10. The MoH took care of the laundry yesterday (He’s well-trained. Okay, so actually, he’s just a nice guy.)
  11. Now, a final trip to the grocery store so the guys have enough junk to eat while we’re gone.

So, yah. I’m ready.

Soooooo not ready for Santa.

NOT.

But I’m smiling.

Once upon a time, the customer used to be right.

Ahhh…what a difference a day makes; it allows the nut inside to cool down a bit so stock can be taken of what matters.

Friday dawned as one should when there’s no work and no carpool duty. I got to enjoy my coffee instead of spilling it down the front of my shirt rushing around. I got to scan the newspaper and not learn anything I didn’t already know because I’d heard it on my car radio.

And then I got to drive my car down the hill to finally have it serviced. Finally. I picked up another coffee at a non-Starbucks joint and proceded to walk back up the hill to begin my day. I wasn’t too surprised to figure out that it is possible to walk up an incline that averages about 15 degrees holding a cup of coffee, occasionally taking a sip, and actually look stupid. No one would do that but me. What a dork. But I walked the distance in about 25 minutes and got my exercise in for the day.

And then all hell broke loose.

Since I was in a “take care of business” type of mood, I’d decided to check in with the authorized service provider we were told to use for our television which is just barely into its extended warranty. We’ve had it for exactly three years and purchased the extension through Best Buy where we bought the LG TV.

So let me back up here.

A bright red stripe about 1.5″ wide that extends from the top to the bottom of the left side of the screen appeared the day before Thanksgiving. Of course I got on the LG website to try and trouble shoot thinking that it may not be quite the big deal. I got out the owner’s manual, too, thinking I could learn something there.

Uh. No.

So the pleasant service guy showed up the Tuesday after Thanksgiving after I called AGAIN because they never called back after the first call. That should have been my warning.

The nice service man said that he’d check about whether parts and service OR a replacement television was in order. Honestly, I didn’t care. I just wanted to not have the red stripe on the screen. OR the pinkish, whitish, greyish conglomeration of tech-snow interference that conveniently did its thang while the service guy was here and thank you very much. For twenty minutes it snowed. Pink.

He said he’d call as soon as he got word on how to proceed. And he did, the very next day saying that parts were to be ordered. They’d come from the Right Coast, take about two weeks to get here, they’d come to collect the TV, install the parts, then keep it a couple of days to make sure everything was fine.

Totally groovy. I was feeling sooooooo efficient.

Just to convince you I’m calm, I waited two weeks and two WHOLE days before I called to check and see about the parts since the authorized people hadn’t called me.

The woman who answered the phone is now my mortal enemy. Her not really connected to this planet attitude and cavalier response about “the parts not being ordered yet” sent me completely through the roof. Her annoying, “Ma’am.” interrupting my request for her to repeat the offending information sealed the deal. She blamed the entire thing on Best Buy saying they didn’t have our information in the blah-blah-bla-dee-dah something or other. And she was, I think, a tad offended when I suggested to her that it was blatantly bad business practice to let something sit unresolved. She had no answer when I questioned her about just how long she’d wait before calling us to say that nothing had been done to service our TV after they’d told us it would be taken care of.

She didn’t like me. She really didn’t like me after 10 minutes of listening to me. But I’ll bet her dislike of me doesn’t approach my less than enthusiastic attitude about her prissy self.

So then I called Best Buy. Or should I say I punched in the number and several hundred others until I actually spoke to a human. I’ll spare you the details. But I did end up with a Manager who did tell me that the authorized people were having trouble getting the parts. Okay, so sure. That story was totally close to the crap the authorized chick on the phone told me. Liar. Great. So I asked the Manager when I might expect to get the parts. Sadly, she didn’t have that information. That maybe in 24-48 hours, I might be able to have that information. Mind you — 24-48 hours and two business days are not the same thing. It was Friday for goodness sakes. Puh-leeeeze.

So I called LG who told me that since everybody was pissing around, I should expect, demand, get a replacement TV. Okay, so the guy didn’t exactly say “pissing around,” but still. So I called Best Buy again, and after speaking with a few other people, got Kayla the Manager on the phone who sounded less than cheerful, in fact, quite resigned when she got on the line with,” Hello Kelly” and I told her what LG had told me. Like she really wanted to hear it.

And then I asked to speak to her Supervisor, Amber, who initiated our conversation with a verbal download of the day’s events so I’d know that she knew what she thought I’d expect her to know to be in the know. Yanno?

But all she could tell me is that it looked like the parts had been ordered.

And I told her that although we’ve purchased many, many things from Best Buy over the years, I was done. That had we purchased the TV from Fry’s, the service people would have taken it off the wall for us so that the MoH and I wouldn’t have had to do it. We are just not quite inclined to do those kinds of things. But we managed to pull the fist full of wires and cables far enough out of the wall to allow the TV to sit on the console below it and reattach it to its stand. Very. Scary. And Oh how I just can’t wait to put it back up there if the damn thing ever gets fixed.

Good thing we have muscles. Feh.

The TV ordeal took a couple of hours out of my Friday. But the good thing about it was that I got a lot of housework done while I was on hold which made it easier to put up the Christmas decorations later in the day.

I’m going to wait until the television is fixed (at the rate we’re going it should be sometime in February…) to write my letters commending the employees of Best Buy who know exactly how to say all the right things in the correct fashion. They’re so well trained. It’s too bad that the content of their comments is worthless. I’ll find a pithy way to extend that particular gem of information.

I’m thinking their goal would be to keep me in a state of suspended animation until the extended warranty time is up. Then they won’t have to do anything about the TV. After all, we already got raked over the coals because we purchased ours so long ago they only cost a fraction of what we paid — one quarter the amount we paid, actually.

So heed my warning if you’re headed out to purchase appliances or electronics this holiday season. Ask lots of questions about the warranties and extended warranties. If we hadn’t purchased the extended warranty, we’d be S.O.L. on our TV right now. LG said had it still been on warranty with them, they’ve have replaced it.

Of course we have a nice Sony in the bedroom that’s years older and has never had a single problem.

So happy shopping, guys!

Nuts, Friends, and Nuclear Generators, or Something of that Nature

The MoH’s birthday was yesterday. All was well until I ran out of gas. Not the gas in the car. Me. No. Not flatulence for gawd’s sake. Gimmeabreak here. I’m trying to keep it straight today.

Energy. My get up and go not only got up and went — it never showed up. I’ve been diligently employed for a whopping six days as of yesterday and I feel like I need to ask the next passerby if she can get the number off the truck that ran over me.

It’s quite humbling.

How will it feel when I’m sixty-three or whatever the words in that Beatles’ song were.

Seriously.

Such a very sad state of affairs.

After working, stopping to get cards and wrapping paper, doing my afternoon carpool duty for the highschoolers, and making the MoH his totally favorite chocolate pie (drooled over for as long as he can remember that his mother made him for his birthday because it was his father’s and grandfather’s favorite) then left the pie in the oven for the RT to handle while I ran down the hill to get take out for dinner before we decorated our Christmas tree to the pre-planned vibes of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra…

I crashed. Not the car. Jeez.

Like a computer. Or maybe it was more like when a generator shuts off and you can hear the motor grinding down laboriously to a deeply resonating end.

Like that.

Nuclear. Okay, so I know that a generator is mechanical and anything nuclear is anything but, well, that’s not quite right either, but you get the picture, right? So for the purposes of imagery, I’ll add a bright white flash to the grinding sound and call Stephen Spielberg for advice.

I’ll have to promise you news at eleven on this one, because I’ll never do it justice. Suffice it to say I am very close to people who work until their tongues hang out slapping against the sidewalk DAILY. Seventy hours a week. And they do it with grace and dignity. Okay, so some smack talking from time to time. Happy hour. But they do it.

Me? My grand total for hours worked since I began is 32.5. I used to do that in my sleep in less than two days. Okay, so more than my tongue was dragging then, but I paid dearly for that. Now?

Like I said. I’m dealing with it. It only confirms what I’ve always thought about myself. I’m either ON or OFF. There’s no MEDIUM on this model. It completely sucks because something always falls to the wayside. And trust me — it’s never been work. Oh, no. Gotta be there early, and huff and puff while I’m doing it, and try to figure everything out yesterday. Even if it isn’t my job.

It’s the bane of my existence.

S.I.G.H.

I’m a Little Nutty Award So to just put this in a nutshell, (and Dawn from Twisted Sister called it straight when she awarded me with the “I’m a Little Nutty” Award) after the Chinese take out for dinner last night, and after the MoH had yet again listened, and listened, and listened, and then helped me decorate the tree even though he had to get up at 5AM to crank something out at work, I opened my fortune cookie.

I think I’ve bragged many times about my fortunes and horror-scopes before and how completely positively wonderous they are. Funny thing, though. It said, “Keep your expectations reasonable.”

Huh? How’d the fortune cookie god know?

I could have had either of the other two cookies, because their fortunes were much more in line with what I usually end up with: “Chances of glamour and excitement are coming to you;” or “Luck is with you now. Act upon your instincts.”

But no.

Now what the hell is that supposed to mean after a lifetime of promises of fame and fortune, happiness and hilarity?

I’m going to get crap in my fortune cookies from now on because my expectations aren’t reasonable?

The Colors of Friendship Good thing I’ve got friends in Bloggsville like Dave from Wandering the Ether (he awarded me with the fairly swanky “Colors of Friendship” award) who understand that even though 99% of us will never, ever physically meet, the time we spend reading each other’s trials and celebrations, revelations and disappointments, opinions and understandings may very well be more important that some relationships we’ve had with humans we can shake hands with each day.

And that is what actually caused my meltdown on the MoH’s birthday and how rude of me. This is the first post I’ve managed in four days here. And my food blog? Feh. I miss visiting the people I’ve come to know over the last nine months. I miss laughing with them, and feeling the angst caused by another, or the emotion caused by a memory.

I miss writing and cooking and writing about cooking — my very favorite things.

So bear with me as I figure this all out.

Oh, and I will “keep my expectations reasonable” lest I anger the fortune cookie god. Jeez. Stoopid fortune. I want my money back.

Life is just weird sometimes, isn’t it?

Friends and nuts, I’ll be back shortly.

Brain Malarkey Cooked for Us

Screw the memes I have to do. (I really WILL do them. I promise. And my fingers are NOT crossed behind my back.)

But the MoH and I had the perfect recipe for a Monday. We went to our local cook’s haven, Great News in Pacific Beach and spent the evening with Brian Malarkey.

What?

You don’t know who Brian Malarkey is? Feh. Where have you been? He was one of the finalists on Top Chef this year, and the recipient of Chef of the Year from the San Diego Restaurant Association. Of course he should have won Top Chef, but that’s beside the point. WE got to enjoy his magnetic personality, sense of humor, and great cuisine tonight. Here. In Paradise. It was so worth it. IMG_5180.JPG

The sky was clear, the air clean, and the Pacific stretched as far as the eye could see. That orange glow was shimmering just above the deep blue horizon. Gorgeous. But a tad cool. Okay, so about 50 degrees F.

But I forgot my camera. So how convenient that we were an HOUR early and I could whiz home to get it and then slide into my seat and look forward to a couple of glasses (well…three if you count the one the MoH didn’t quite finish) of Two Buck Chuck. And the MoH says after the class, “That was pretty good…what was it?” “Koolaide,” I replied, “and you’ll be sorry in the morning.”  The MoH does not imbibe.

IMG_5172.JPG The menu for this cooking class was “Asian Inspired Malarkey.” Brian is the executive chef at The Oceanaire here in San Diego. Of course, we seemed to be the only people in the audience who hadn’t eaten there, but that’s because we’re busy paying taxes. We love to eat out, but only do so on special occasions during the year. Actually, we thought we’d enjoy The Oceanaire before this Monday’s class, but time has gotten away from us lately. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to improve our record in that department, getting out to try local food more than we do. I know. Quite the novel concept. Where would San Francisco be without all those Food Bloggers sampling local faire? S.O.L.

Ahem.

The menu Brian and his right hand man prepared for the 50+ group this evening was lovely:

Kumamoto Oysters on the Half Shell with an Asian Inspired Mignonette Kumamoto Oysters on the Half Shell with an Asian Inspired Mignonette

Sesame Crusted Big Eye Tuna with Ocean Salad and Micro Wasabi Sesame Crusted Big Eye Tuna with Ocean Salad and Micro Wasabi

Shiitake Mushroom and Ginger Soup with Bean Sprouts and Cilantro Shiitake Mushroom and Ginger Soup with Bean Sprouts and Cilantro

Japanese 7 Spice Petite Filet Mignon with Ginger Butter Japanese 7 Spice Petite Filet Mignon with Ginger Butter

Green Tea Ice Cream (from a local vendor whose name I regrettably did not get)

Y.U.M. Truly. We’d never had oysters before. Clams, yes. Mussels, yes. But oysters? Um. Nope. So this was big. And I appreciated what Brian had to say about them because the information helps when you slurp something live into your mouth and do notice the slightly briny “Mermaid’s Kiss” with a hint of cilantro as you swallow the creature and smile.

I did not get a stripe on my arm for this accomplishment, but I FEEL good. DAH-duh-DAH-duh-DAH-duh-DAH.

The Ahi Tuna? Oh. My. Sesame seeds all ’round and seared and then sliced and served with a compound butter. Goodness. I love Ahi this way. But what really made it was the “ocean” salad we waited for while Brain took questions (mostly from the MoH) about his Top Chef experience. The seaweed, thinly sliced and plated under the ahi was perfect. Fresh . Crunchy. Amazing. Totally. I have seared ahi with sesame seeds, but would never have thought to have the seaweed. Who knew? Delicious. It has to be THE reason why I’m a morsel and not a lithe waif. *Make a note to strike the Barefoot Contessa like I didn’t already know this.* Just kidding, Ina. Could you send me a pound of buttah, please?

IMG_5174.JPG And Brian’s Top Chef experience details were interesting, too: He didn’t get to speak to his wife for FIVE weeks. They take away your wallet, your keys, your cell — everything. And then, if I’m getting this correctly, they send frequent letters reminding you of your obligation to remain silent on the outcome of the show. With respect to the filming, each day, there’s either a quick challenge, or a main preparation. In Brian’s opinion, the only quick challenge that mattered was the one that took place at the French Culinary Academy (I’m sure I’ve gotten this incorrect). And speaking of culinary academies in general, in his opinion, those interested in his line of work would be better served volunteering for a few hard days with a chef, then signing on to work in that kitchen (if you passed the chef’s scrutiny) and learning from the ground up. You’d earn money as you were learning, as opposed to paying nearly 50K going to an academy. Sounds good to me. Maybe in my next life since I’ve essentially learned by trial and error, reading, by example, and anything else that counts for the last 40 years or so.

Other points of interest in the evening: Brian recommended many local places to find great ingredients, and fresh food. I did know of a few, but a couple I can’t wait to schlep to are San Diego Coffee, Tea, and Spice which concocts the spice mixtures Brian used, and Specialty Produce which is where the chefs in San Diego get their goods. Now how could I have NOT known about this? Unbelievable. I’m there this coming Saturday.

News at Eleven.

Anyway…it was a lovely evening. The worst part about it was the ending, and finding out that it was still Monday, instead of Friday, which would have been perfect.

An early birthday present for the MoH with more to come later in the week.

What’s up with these December babies, anyway?

Gluttons.
IMG_5182.JPG

Game Day Attire Has to be Matching

Ready for some Foot.Ball. It’s 10:03 am and the first stream of game day monologue has been uttered downstairs. “Okay. It’s time. Let’s go.” And a more quiet, less assertive mumble that seems to have had something to do with the kick off.

But the MoH’s ready. He had his official jersey pulled over his ancient Eddie Bauer waffle weave tee.

And the Gap jammies Santa gave to him a few years ago.

It’s currently 47 degrees F in Paradise on this Sunday morning after a few days of semi bracing rain.

And we are reh-dee-4-sum-FOOT.BALLLLLLLLLLL.

“INTERCEPTED! Antonio Gates. Ninth interception this year. OH! MY! Don’t throw it to that side of the field. Don’t throw it…”

I guess it’s safe to go down there and read the Sunday paper in happy sports land. It’ must be his matching game day attire.

“They’re just gonna run a freakin’ blitz until you guys do something different. COMEON!”

Well, maybe not.

“ComeON. When are you gonna play like a professional quarter back. Pull your head outta your butt.”

Phil Rivers should heed the MoH’s advice.

The Chargers should know about the dedication of this particular fan.

And his game day suit. Matching Attire