Monday, September 29, 2008

A Day in Yellowstone: the Road Trip continues...

It's going to take me a year to go through the 600+ pictures I took during the not quite two days we spent in Palm Springs. Until then, I'm taking us back to 2006...

(This photo taken somewhere along some highway before we reached Yellowstone.)

Going through these old pictures of The Great Hot Road Trip of 2006 has given me the incredibly hard to resist urge to go somewhere. I keep telling the Husband and he keeps asking me where I want to go and I keep telling him "somewhere far."

It's not really getting us anywhere. (Ha, get it? Not getting us anywhere?? Oh, forget it.)

And Palm Springs doesn't count!

My dream in life is to win the lottery, buy a pimped-out RV and travel all over the world.

I suppose I'd better start playing the lottery.

Yellowstone National Park was absolutely gorgeous. The Husband and I talk about moving a lot and I always suggest Wyoming. The Husband will ask, "But where would we work?" and I'll say, "We could be park rangers!" And then he laughs. "You couldn't be a park ranger!" he says, crushing my dreams, "at the first sight of a squirrel, you'd freak out and shoot yourself in the foot!" And I ask, "They give park rangers guns?!"

I really just want to work at the admission gate and take money from people.

By the way, those mud pots/holes/whatever were really stinky. Like rotten eggs. Seriously. Stinky.

Anyone for a swim? It was July, but um... there was snow on the mountain tops. I'm thinking that water was still pretty darn cold.

Old Faithful Geyser. Those people down there were nuts. It was hot out and they sat there for an hour, just waiting, because Old Faithful isn't really that faithful. The geyser goes off every hour or two.

We were scheduled to be in Billings, Montana that night so we only spent the day cruising around Yellowstone. We saw a lot of water during the first half of our drive; the streams, Yellowstone Lake, waterfalls, geysers, etc... Then we found ourselves in the mountains surrounded by greenery. And these guys.

And their babies.

And then we found herds upon herds of them. And our sunny skies had given way to rain clouds.

You know that smell that permeates the air after it's been really dry and hot and then, suddenly, there's a quick burst of rain that doesn't do much but get the ground wet? Insert that smell hear. The only way I can think to describe it is hot, wet dirt. It's not unpleasant. In fact, I kind of like it.

It was shortly after this that we left Yellowstone behind us, headed for Big Sky Country.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Softball, Sushi, and Starbucks oh my

After the boys finished their four games in someone-just-kill-me-now heat yesterday, they dragged their dirty, sweaty, tired bodies into the bar (located conveniently in the center of all five softball fields) and ordered a lot of beer.

And these somehow made an appearance, but I'm still not sure how they got here.

At least I had a light beer with my chili cheese fries.

Later, after the Husband's nap and my failed attempt to find some really good fudge, we went here.

And I ordered the prettiest pineapple martini ever. I would have taken a picture of it (and the sushi I could've happily eaten eight plates of), but we had people join us and I really hate enduring that look that screams have you been living in a cave your whole life??? and then having to explain why I'm taking pictures of food.

But I did snap a picture of these lights.

These lights make me crave oranges. They're fairly new, as is the rest of the lobby. They gutted and redesigned it a year or so ago. Prior to the renovation, it was comfortable, but very eighties. Huge cascading crystal chandeliers used to hang from the ceiling. I suppose the oranges are an improvement, but as much as I love this hotel and especially this bar, I'm not sure those lights would have been my first choice. When we get home and I'm finally able to unload some 300+ photos from my overstuffed camera, I'll share some better pictures.

Now, unfortunately, the time has come for me to leave this wonderfully air conditioned hotel room and rejoin the festivities currently underway at the softball fields. That's right, it's day two of the tournament and the Husband's team, which went three and one yesterday and is now tied for first place, could potentially play another five games today. Depending on how well they do and if they make it to the finals.

Let me just say this. Thank God for the Starbucks in the lobby.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

It's a refreshing 800 degrees outside.

The Husband and I find ourselves in Palm Springs this weekend for a company softball tournament. While the Husband is playing, I've been designated official team photographer which means that, instead of watching the games from the comfort of an air-conditioned bar with an ice cold drink, I'm out in this vicious heat, sweating and maneuvering my way around even more sweaty guys who like to spit a lot. I was hoping to share some of the pictures, but the truth is I remembered to pack my entire closet, but forgot to pack my memory card reader. At least I have internet access.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

e Because I think of random shit like this all the time and now I have someone other than the Husband to share it with

I follow a long list of incredible bloggers, all of which just happen to be female. And, no, I’m not a lesbian, but while we’re on the subject, if I were a lesbian, I’d sure as hell come out of the closet a lot sooner than Clay Aiken and, People Magazine? You’d only have to pay me half what you did him. Glad we settled that.

Wait. Where was I? Oh, right, women bloggers.

The sites that I read are just amazing. These are smart, talented, well-spoken written women and I have come to the conclusion that one of them will be elected president in 2010. They're already taking over the internet; it only makes sense that they'll eventually take over the world. I, for one, can't wait.

Now, the question is, who should it be?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Brownies... OR Confused Chocolate Chip Cheesecake COOKIES

I went looking for a brownie recipe and found this one. However, once I actually made it, I swear it was a chocolate chip cookie recipe. Take a look for yourself.

"Hello, my name is Stephanie and I still use a handheld mixer."

I'm hoping hoping hoping for one of these for Christmas, so if anyone is willing to help me wage this battle with the Husband, I need all the supporters I can get.

Before you do anything else, eat a few chocolate chips. You won't need them all anyway. And we don't want chocolate going to waste now, do we?

Tell me that doesn't look like cookie dough! Tastes like it, too. Trust me. I tested it. Many times. Many, many times.

This is when I started calling them Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookies. You spread half of the cookie dough/brownie mixture on the bottom of the pan (which, by the way, was supposed to be thirteen by nine inches, but I only had an eight and a half by eleven... oops) then pour the cheesecake mixture over that and cover with the remaining confused brownie dough.

I could've happily taken a spoon to it at this point, but the Husband gave me the strangest look the last time I did that. Sigh.

After twenty-five minutes, it came out of the oven looking like this.

Again, I was ready to dive right in. Who cares if I could've easily sucked up the middle through a straw? It. looked. delicious.

And smelled delicious, too. And, all right, tasted delicious. Geez. Who could help themself?

It went back into the over for another forty-five minutes. And that might, might, be the reason I burned it. Yep, that's right. Burned it.

And I thought it can't be that bad! So I ate some. And it was tasty. And then the Husband ate some and said he didn't like it. And I'm always slightly crushed when the Husband says he doesn't like something I've made even though I always ask him repeatedly "Would you tell me if you didn't like it? You swear??? Okay, good."

To make myself feel better, I ate another piece. And in the middle of my third, I walked into the den where the Husband was watching Tony Romo fumble the freaking ball and said, "You're right, these aren't good."

But they have potential. I might even attempt to make them again. Next time I'll use the right sized pan. If they hadn't been so thick, they wouldn't have taken so long to cook and I wouldn't have burned them. And... the cheesecake mixture should be sweeter. And the brownie-cookie-thing should be more dense. Like a brownie.

Now to find someone who can teach me how to do all that would be just fantastic.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

And my name isn't Rose

The Husband brought this comic in and said it reminded him of me. Sure, I can see some resemblances, but I don't photograph birds. Now, if those were cats, it'd be a whole. notha. story. If those were cats, I suppose I'd have to hire an attorney and sue for not obtaining the legal rights to my biography.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I couldn't be more ready.

I walked into Albertsons on Saturday and was immediately swept away by the almost overwhelming scent of cinnamon and other spices. Suddenly I was assailed by memories and the feeling of déjà vu. Then I looked up and there they were. Pumpkins.

(I stood in the middle of the produce section, my cell phone held out in front of me, so I could take that picture of pumpkins. This is how much you mean to me. Both of you.)

And all the sudden it occurred to me. Fall is here. And sure enough, today's the official first day.

I love the Fall and I absolutely love the holidays. I love Christmas and Thanksgiving and finally having a job that allows me the time off to travel and visit family. I love the rain and Christmas lights and presents and peppermint mochas at Starbucks and the Husband making me feel guilty for not going to Knott's Scary Farm. (I scare easily!) And I love the pumpkin patch.

Even though here in Southern California it's still warm and sunny (as always), I can't help but feel as if there's already a change in the weather, a crispness in the air. It's Fall. Finally.

It's going to get cold soon (I hope) and I'll complain like I do every year. Our apartment will soon turn into an icebox and I'll have to pull out my mini space heaters and place them strategically throughout the apartment (one in the bathroom, the closet, under my desk) and I'll bundle up in multiple layers as if it were 30 degrees out and not actually 70.

But I love it all. The classic holiday movies they play over and over again on television, the parties, the decorations. The candy. The food. Gingerbread houses and insane trips to the beach because my sister's family is in town and they don't get to see the ocean for the mountains of Utah.

And it seems, as I get older, I come to love it more and more each year. I don't want to miss a moment of it. I want to stroll through houses lit up with twinkling lights and go to South Coast Plaza the week before Christmas just to watch the crowds. I want to carve pumpkins and eat too much pie and fall asleep on the couch in a food coma while watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I want to drink too much wine and play scrabble and get in a fight with my mother and my sister that ends with us laughing so hard there are tears streaming down our faces.

Because those are the best times ever.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Football, week 3

Well, it's Sunday. Again. And you know what that means. We're watching football. Again.

I'm trying something new this week. I picked four teams I like and bet on them to win. I have no idea who they're playing, where they're playing. I just want them to win. Darn it.

My money's on the Colts (come on, Peyton, get your shit together), the Vikings (the Husband hates this pick, but I think this is their week... it has to be!), the Cowboys ('cause Tony is just so darn cute), and the Patriots (because as much as I love love love Tom Brady, I think they just might have something this year without him... and that's the last time I'll think about the Patriots without Tom Brady).

Now, if I win (and, in order to win, all four teams have to) I'll get $35.00 back on a $10 bet. At least I'll make back the money I lost over the last two weeks. Stupid Bengals.

Friday, September 19, 2008

She'd eat you, too, if you were the size of a small animal

Sure, she might look sweet and innocent here, but, deep down, she's a predator and she used to spend hours hunting in the jungle backyard. She'd bring home her "prey" and drop it at our feet. I would shout "No, Mercedes! No dead animals in the house!" before the Husband would step in and remind me that those dead birds and lizards were gifts.

"Right," I'd say, "Some gift." I knew all along her intention was to scare the hell outta me.

One day, our predator fell ill. A four-day hospital stay and twenty-five hundred dollars (!!!) later, she came home, a partially shaved back the only thing to show for her trouble. Oh, AND HER LIFE.

For a week after, me and the Husband had the distinct pleasure of taking her temperature. Rectally. Which is so not what I signed up for when we agreed to adopt this feisty feline.

It was then we decided enough's enough. They're staying inside from now on. To this day, I wouldn't call her an "indoor cat" so much as an "I'm just waiting for the moment you slip up and accidentally leave the door open long enough for me to escape" cat.

In the past two years, we've developed a routine.

I come home. She's waiting at the door.

I make my way into the bedroom to change clothes. She's waiting at the door.

I go into the kitchen, empty the dishwasher. She's waiting at the door.

I finally take a moment to push open the blinds and open the sliding glass door. She stands at the screen, her ears perked, her nose twitching, at least able to smell the jungle, just imagining all the poor, defenseless creatures she could be torturing.

If only she wasn't trapped inside with the humans.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Chocolate (and Peanut Butter) Chip Cookies

Is there anything more promising than cookie dough? It's a beautiful thing, I tell you.

When I mentioned I wanted to bake cookies (I've had the baking bug lately), the Husband requested chocolate chip with the addition of peanut butter chips. (He's very complex.)

So, that's what I did. (I'm very accommodating.)

I'd love to say this is an old, secret family recipe, but it's not. My family just isn't like that. I used this recipe and, personally, I think it's fantastic.

Besides the taste, I love that they keep their shape. They come out of the oven all thick and hearty. And I'm sure there's a better word than "hearty" to describe these, but I can't think of one. (Of course, the first thing out of the Jerk's Husband's mouth was, "Why are they so big?" What a turd.)

The other thing I love about these cookies: they won't dry out.

See, I love to bake, but I don't want what I bake sitting in the house for days afterwards. My hips (and thighs and other various body parts) just don't appreciate it. Instead I prefer to send it all off to the office with the Husband. With a past recipe I used, the cookies would dry out within twenty-four hours and I didn't want to share them with anyone. I have more pride than that.

But I don't have to worry about that with these yummy little concoctions.

They're just so pretty.

If you're looking for a good chocolate chip cookie recipe, try these. I promise, you won't regret it. They're delicious. I should know, I just ate three seven of them. Please don't tell anyone.

Go here for the full recipe.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Football, week 2

Okay, ladies and gentlemen, here are my winning, possibly losing, picks for this week.

I took the Bengals to win by one, the Chargers by one, and the Steelers by six and a half.

The Husband is a football fan. I'd say he's a huge football fan, but even that doesn't do it justice. He lives for football. Eats, breathes, sleeps football. I've always said that on his list of priorities, it goes:

1. football
2. all other sports
3. wife

It's okay. Really. I knew this going into it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Not to be confused with the car.

Our other kid cat, Mercedes.

She's feisty.

We took her in five years ago from an army couple who were relocated to Hawaii. Suddenly we were inundated with cats. I had just brought Luke home the week before and Annie, our resident fat cat, didn't want anything to do with these new-comers.

Mercedes hid under our dining room table for the first week. Then she and Luke, still just a nervous kitten, became fast friends. They wouldn't leave each others side. And still don't.

(I don't know and I don't think I want to know what's happening in the above photo.)

The Husband calls her his "dog" since she trails him everywhere. I swear, it's like they have their own secret, unspoken language. All they have to do is look at each other to communicate. It's kinda weird cute.

Since I'm still kid-less, our cats become the focal point of most of my pictures.

It just so happens it's easier to take their picture while they're sleeping.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Definitely hormonal. Possibly neurotic.

Do you ever have one of those days where you just feel down? And you're sitting on the sofa watching TV with the Husband when he flips on Charlie's Angels and you start thinking damn, but that Cameron Diaz ruins it for all of us. Then, in an insane attempt to make yourself feel better, you go for the ice cream? And five minutes later you realize you're on the verge of tears, still standing in front of an open freezer? And when the Husband asks, with genuine concern, what's wrong, honey? you think thank God I married you! and throw yourself into his arms? Sometimes being a woman is such great fun.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The "whine" portion of our program

I can count on one hand the number of times the Husband has cooked for me in the whole of our relationship. The first time was seven years ago, soon after we had moved in together. I came down with a terrible cold, sure I was dying, and he made homemade chicken soup. It wasn't very good, but the effort and thought behind it made it the best soup I'd ever had. Even now, just thinking about it... I'm in love. That was the first time I realized this is a really good man.

And once he made scrambled eggs. Now those were good. He cracks eggs right into the pan and scrambles them that way while I crack them into a bowl and whisk, etc. Then he adds a little salt and pepper, some cheese... Simple, sure, but really good. (Why does everything taste better when someone else cooks?)

He also baked a cake from scratch for my birthday two years ago. It was a yellow cake with chocolate frosting and he used pink icing to write "Happy Birthday." It was touching. He could have picked up a cake from any local grocery store, but decided instead to make it himself. There's a chance I actually threatened requested him to do so, but since I can't remember, I'm not admitting anything.

Now, I don't cook much either. In fact, it's become a bit of a sore spot for me. See, I actually enjoy cooking (for people who appreciate it) and I think the Husband does. Appreciate it, that is. However, sometimes he appreciates a little too quietly and I start to become this quivering mass of resentment and the cooking habit begins to die a slow, painful death.

These last few days I've been happy to cook for him. (I've been happy with just about everything to tell you the truth, and when everything feels like sunshine and rainbows, it tends to show through my oven.) I've even started preparing his lunch for work. Apparently, while I wasn't paying attention, that become the cool wife thing to do.) But no sooner did I start cooking again did those same old thoughts start to creep in, reminding me that he won't even scoop the fucking ice cream.

Monday, September 8, 2008

e Minnesota or bust: the road trip continues...

Welcome to Idaho Falls! Where great adventure begins!

Or something like that.

This was Day Two of the Great Hot Road Trip of 2006.

The quality of this photo sucks leaves a little something to be desired, but I do love all the blue.

And we did see some wildlife as promised.

But I can take a short walk from our apartment and see ducks at home, so, while I find them cute, I wasn't exactly impressed. I wonder, had we ventured further, would we have found a nicer area? I couldn't help but notice that the immediate surrounding area was a bit drab. (I'm sorry, Idahoians! Idahoers? Idahans?)

We only spent a short time at the falls before getting back on the road. Our destination: Billings, Montana by nightfall.

But we had a big day ahead of us.

After leaving Idaho Falls, we were on the road for an hour before we came upon this place:


It's a drive-thru bear park. It's where we saw these two bears fighting dancing.

That bear on the right (or was it the one on the left?) pummelled my car. I guess he doesn't like having his picture taken.

And I almost tripped over this pig. I swear I thought it was a rock.

More ducks.

But they were babies and everything is cute in mini.

Much like these cubs. They were the cutest, most huggable little bundles of fur. I just wanted to jump the fence, run in and squeeeeze them!

The Husband restrained me.

We also saw these guys. They were hot and sleepy, much like myself.

And if anyone can tell me what I'm looking at here, I'll give you a hundred dollars a big hug.

After we left the bear park (by the way, I'm still not sure why it's called a "bear park" when there were dozens of other animals as well) we were back on highway 20 which would take us right into Yellowstone National Park later that morning.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sunday Sunday Sunday

It's here. The much anticipated 2008 football season. (Did I really just say that? Let me be clear: the only thing I anticipate is seeing Tom Brady.)

But let's get serious. This year, in an effort to save my marriage become more involved, I've placed a small wager along with the Husband. (Can someone tell me if gambling is a sin? I think it is, but then I think everything is probably a sin.)

I've taken the Patriots to win be sixteen, which means I lost when Tom Brady was escorted off the field due to his knee injury. I've also taken the Bengals to win by two, the Colts to win by nine, and the Cowboys (I just hope Jessica isn't in the stands) to win by six in a four-game parlay. Here's hoping.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Just missing that little statue.

In April, on another spur of the moment decision (I make these quite frequently), I started watching every movie to have won an Academy Award for best picture. The Husband didn't expect this to last because I never finish anything I start but I've since worked my way through more than half. (Shit, I still have some 30+ movies to watch???)

Actually, it's been fun. I love to watch movies. I like to watch them on Sunday afternoons, while the sun is shining through the bedroom window, on top of blankets and sheets that are fresh from the laundry. Of course, I inevitably fall asleep.

I have a confession to make. I watch movies, all movies, with the subtitles turned on. I don't know. When I watch movies, sometimes I walk away feeling like I'm missing a big chunk of the story. (I usually am. I daydream a lot.) With subtitles, I never feel like that.

Here's a list, with some of my rambling thoughts thrown in:

The Broadway Melody of 1929
All Quiet on the Western Front (Started this, but haven't finished it. It's really boring long.)
Grand Hotel
It Happened One Night (One of my new favorite scenes is when Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert are forced to share a room. They hang a blanket in the middle for privacy and on one side, she turns out the light and starts to undress, while he listens from the other side and blows smoke rings in the dark. Hot.)
Mutiny on the Bounty
The Great Ziegfeld
The Life of Emile Zola
You Can't Take It With You
Gone With the Wind (Have seen this already a hundred times. One of my all-time favorites.)
How Green Was My Valley
Mrs. Miniver
Casablanca (Can you believe I had never seen this movie before? Humphrey Bogart is delicious.)
Going My Way
The Lost Weekend (Having grown up with alcoholic parents, this was hard to watch. It leaves an impact.)
The Best Years of Our Lives
Gentleman's Agreement
Laurence Olivier's Hamlet
All the King's Men
All About Eve (Love, love, love Bette Davis.)
An American in Paris
The Greatest Show on Earth
From Here to Eternity
On the Waterfront (How come nobody told me Marlon Brando was so freakin' cute?!)
Around the World in 80 Days
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Ben Hur
The Apartment (Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon are just delightful in this movie. I absolutely adored it! Well, all except for the whole attempted suicide thing.)
West Side Story
Lawrence of Arabia
Tom Jones
My Fair Lady
The Sound of Music (I have loved this movie for years.)
A Man for All Seasons
In the Heat of the Night
Oliver! (Can I tell you something embarrassing? There was a side A and side B to this DVD. I thought (and still believe!) that I put it on side A. An hour and fifteen minutes later the movie ended and I realized I had just watched the second half first. Yeah, I'm dumb.)
Midnight Cowboy
The French Connection
The Godfather (I watched this movie several years ago when I was too young to understand it. I just finished watching it again and I absolutely loved it. However, it's really too bad Mr. Brando couldn't keep his looks.)
The Sting
The Godfather, part II
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest I love Jack Nicholson. What I found fascinating about this movie is that you don't realize just how serious it is until the very end.)
Annie Hall
The Deer Hunter
Kramer vs. Kramer
Ordinary People
Chariots of Fire
Terms of Endearment
Out of Africa
Platoon (I'm sorry, I'm just not a fan of war movies. I can respect them and what they portray, but they're just not something I want to watch. And I really just can't buy Charlie Sheen as a serious actor. Although, I love Willem Dafoe.)
The Last Emperor
Rain Man
Driving Miss Daisy
Dances With Wolves
Silence of the Lambs
Schindler's List
Forrest Gump
Braveheart (I thought this movie was fantastic except for one major thing: he was in love with one woman for his entire life, but as soon as she dies, he's headed straight for the bedroom of another? Stupid, typical man.)
The English Patient (I'm easily influenced and didn't expect to like this movie after the Seinfeld episode in which Elaine is disgusted with everyone for raving about this film. I loved it! I watched it three time before I sent it back.)
Shakespeare in Love (Despite my not being a Gwyneth Paltrow fan nor a Romeo and Juliet fan, I actually enjoyed this.)
American Beauty
A Beautiful Mind
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (I haven't watched this one yet, but what really bugs me is that it's the third in a trilogy and I haven't seen any of them. I can't watch the third without having watched the first two! And I really have no interest in watching any of them.)
Million Dollar Baby
The Departed
No Country for Old Men

I'm curious. Any of these movies your favorite? Any that you've seen a hundred times? Tell me you love Rocky. That'll make me feel better about eventually watching it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

My new favorite things: LesserEvil Krinkle Sticks

I found these as my little sister and I wandered through Whole Foods last week. It's not a place I shop often, but I will occasionally go in to browse. Despite popular belief, I'm not appalled by healthy, organic foods.

We were almost on our way out, empty-handed, when I passed these. I grabbed them and did what I do with just about everything I pick up in a grocery store. I checked the nutrition label (Weight Watchers habit).

When I saw that these were only two points for a whole cup (that means really, really good in Weight Watchers-ese), I decided I had to try them. My fear was that they would be airy and disolve on my tongue. Which is so not satisfying.

I tried them as soon as I got home. And, peeps? I am in love! Not only do you get a crazy amount in just one serving, but they're beefy (in the sense that you don't feel as if you're eating air).

I ate these with my favorite sour cream and onion dip and munched to my heart's content. Until my one serving was gone, anyway. I'm thinking these will become a staple in my pantry.