Wednesday, July 29, 2009

UPDATED: Last Saturday.

We went to see the waves. And so did eight million of our closest friends. And by "closest friends" I, of course, mean random, irritating strangers who should have realized they had more important things to do. No such luck.

I'd love to share all the specifics, the why's and how's... but I don't pay enough attention myself. All I know is that there was a storm. Like, a month ago. Maybe in Mexico. Maybe somewhere else. And, eventually, the waves here reacted. And everybody showed up to see Mother Nature at work. The end.

Well, I was hoping I'd be able to capture some images, but... they got in my way. I may have, quietly, growled at them.

Seriously, people. How do you expect me to do anything with all of you standing around, doing nothing but block my view?

I felt bad for the lifeguards who not only had to keep an eye on the undoubtedly angry surfers, but keep the crowds back, too. And I'm not sure if you've realized this before, but people are rude, especially when they realize they outnumber the authority figure.

Then I noticed them.

Photographers. Why can't I take my eyes off 'em? I'm only sharing this one photo, but I took dozens while standing a few feet away wondering who they were, what equipment they were using, how they were using it, why. They're just so fascinating, don't you think?


These guys were on the other side of me. I was surrounded. And it was awesome.

I totally forgot why we were there. I just wanted to take pictures of these guys taking pictures.

And that's right. Guys. All men photographers, no women. Interesting.

There was one photographer in a wheelchair. As I watched him and three others struggle to wheel him through the sand and get him back on solid ground later, I couldn't help but hope he got the shot. Otherwise... all that effort for...? I didn't take a picture of him.

There was another kind of photographer at the beach that day.

The cell phone photographer.

Hey, I'm not knockin' it. I take pictures with my phone all the time, but not scenic pictures. Cell phones can barely capture the detail in a person's face three feet away. How can they expect it to capture the detail and beauty of the ocean at thirty feet away?

This guy caused quite the uproar with his contraption. I'm not sure if you can tell, but atop that pole there? Two cameras strapped in. He moved all around the crowd, propping that thing up and taking pictures. I'm not sure what he captured, but it was interesting to watch.

You know what I admired most about him? He was fearless. People around him were pointing and staring, all their attention temporarily focused completely on him... and he didn't bat an eye. I wish I could be more like that.

Speaking of fearless...


Here's a glimpse of what he went running into:

Need a little perspective? Here's a very grainy close up:

Imagine body-surfing that.

Update: I just received an e-mail from The Husband. And it went: "The storm was in Tahiti only 4 days prior to the waves arriving. They travel 400 miles a day because of the winds. You're killing me. Jeez." So, there.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Can I take back what I said about being a glass-half-full kinda girl?

(Baby pigs make everything better.)

Remember my last post? The one where I was all upbeat and rainbows came beaming out of my ass? Little did I know that, shortly after writing it, my manager and I would get into an argument over the pros and cons of my potential transition into another position. (Say that ten times fast.) He kept going on and on about how great it would be, how adding me to the current team of leads would make us all rock stars. Or all-stars. Or shooting stars. Whatever.

In my usual sarcastic manner, I said, “Yeah, it’ll be great for YOU GUYS.” Because the truth is, I know this hotel. And I know the ins and outs of this department better than almost anyone. I can write schedules, check people in, answer phones, give directions, respond to a fire alarm, retrieve luggage, and complete payroll all with one hand tied behind my back while the other shoves a Hershey’s bar down my throat. I’M THAT GOOD. Add me to any team in this here department and we’ll shine.

I’m not trying to sound like a conceited ass (that’s just a bonus), but seriously? I’m smart and self-sufficient. (This is what I’ll sound like while interviewing elsewhere.) I catch on quickly and I have the added benefit of a little thing called EXPERIENCE. I’ve worked here, in this specific hotel, for five years. I’ve come to know a thing or two.

So, there we were, going back and forth, and suddenly I found myself in the middle of a full-blown debate between what a positive move this would be for the hotel and how much it sucked ass for me personally. After all was said and done, I left work and drove right into a state of depression, which then impacted my entire weekend.

Suddenly, every move The Husband or I made became overshadowed by the fact that I had been laid off and even if I decide to stay employed here, my schedule is completely fucked. SO ENJOY THIS WHILE IT LASTS. Goodbye nights, weekends, and holidays. It was fun while it lasted.

Now, excuse me while I go put my head in an oven, because damn it, this sucks.

Somebody, please, remind me to be grateful that I’m still employed.

(If they weren't sleeping in their own feces, I'd totally cuddle up next to 'em.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

And cake is in my future, so how can I complain?

So. My position has been eliminated and I've been laid off. I am now a statistic, a product of this lovely recession. I didn't cry when I was told (thank God). I actually smiled and even laughed a little. It's okay, I said, I've expected this.

It helped hearing Jason's voice in my head reminding me to ACT SURPRISED! because I wasn't supposed to know the news was coming. It gave the whole situation some much needed comic relief, even if I was the only one aware of it.

And then I was presented with a severance package and suddenly the tone changed. After nearly ten years with the company, I've been laid off. Which means, in less than ten years, I've quit twice and been laid off once. Maybe it's a sign. TO GET THE HELL OUT.

If it is, I'm ignoring it. I've decided to stay. Sure, there are things I can't wait to do with my life, things that have nothing to do with hotels or hospitality or being nice to people, but I'm not ready to make those moves. That's just fact. And I'm not going to leave a place where I feel comfortable just to look for another steady paycheck where I'm not. Feeling comfortable, being confident in knowing where I stand, knowing how to do my job, understanding the people I work with is all very important to me.

However, on the flipside, this whole experience has made it abundantly clear that now is the time to pursue an ultimate goal. I just need to figure out what that might be. Going back to school will hopefully help. Because, despite the fact that there are things I'd love to do with my life, things that would make me incredibly happy... well, I'm going to be twenty-seven in just over a month and I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. Not exactly. A photographer? Sure. A baker? I'd LOVE that. Maybe a combination of the two? A food photographer? Awesome.

I can't settle on a blog design most of the time, HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO CHOOSE A CAREER?

Also, I've learned something about myself. I'm a glass-half-full kinda girl. I didn't think I was, probably because I like to bitch and moan a lot, but I think all the bitching is my way or purging the negative. Let's face it... 2009 hasn't been the greatest year. The Husband and I have had a fairly rough time of it. I'm still picking up the pieces and trying to figure out how to make them fit again. And I've been laid off.

But things could be a hell of a lot worse. I could be divorced and jobless, with no other options available. Or, God forbid, moving back home with my mom. (Shudder.)

No, things are certainly looking up. Good to know.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The one that almost ruined my Starbucks.

(The F word is peppered throughout this post. Read at your own risk.)

My position is being eliminated today. Or, at least, today I'll be told.

And it really fucking sucks.

I've been spoiled with this position for the last two years. It's a position they actually opened for me when, two and a half years ago, I announced I was interested in transferring to another hotel. They opened this position, gave me a Monday through Friday schedule, set hours, lots of freedom and flexibility... and for two and a half years, it was AWESOME.

I'm caught off guard by this for one big reason. I know our budget. I do the schedule. Our hours and productivity are FINE. There is no reason to eliminate my position, especially since we have two positions currently open. And what's funny is we so can't afford to fill them. We fill those positions and we're fucked.

My pal, Jason, was the one who tipped me off. When all this shit began to hit the fan and the layoffs started months ago, we promised each other that we'd clue the other in if their job was on the line. I didn't want to be that sucker who went on about their day, happily doing their job, just to be hit with, "Sorry, but your positions been eliminated."

I'm glad he told me. I was able to call The Husband and cry all over myself in private. Now the only thing I'll have to worry about is making my "it's just allergies" sound convincing.

And if he's right and it's my title that's the problem, then just fucking give me a new one! I work with a bunch of fucking ass clowns.

I'm sorry, but I'm really fucking pissed.

Oh, there are options. I can take a supervisor position in one of two departments. Or I can step down and be a front desk clerk again. To be honest, it's all about figuring out which one is the lesser evil. Would I rather manage people I hate strongly dislike or be managed by people I hate strongly dislike?

I suppose the answer is obvious. I'd rather manage. But I was a supervisor before and the thought of going back makes me want to vomit. I hated being a supervisor. I hate the meetings, the whiny associates, the constant ass-kissing.

And I'm not going to apologize for whining. Yes, I know it's great to still be employed. I'm lucky and should be grateful. Well, whoop-dee-fucking-doo. I'd rather just sit here and stew in my anger.

Maybe I'm too afraid and too comfortable. Maybe I should take severance and hit the road, see what else is out there.

Oh, God, I really hope I don't cry when they tell me.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pulled pork. Because I don't just bake. (Yes, I do.)

After The Husband went on and on about how goooood the pulled pork sandwich was at the fair, I felt a need to declare that I could do better.

So, yesterday, before diving head first into peanut butter cupcakes, I made this pork. In my slow cooker. (Do you call it a slow cooker? Or a crock pot?)

I only had a bite of his sandwich at the fair, but... I think I succeeded. (Husband? Feel free to confirm.) (If you know what's good for you.)

It really was tasty and incredibly tender. And since I share everything with you, here's the recipe in case you're interested. (Sadly, I have a crock pot the size of my fist, so I had to cut this recipe in half.)

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
2 1/2 pounds pork shoulder
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

Cut boneless pork shoulder crosswise into 1/4 inch slices. Partially freezing it will make slicing easier. (I used pork shoulder spare ribs (or something to that effect). They were pre-cut into thick strips which I then cut in half to make fit.)

In the slow cooker, combine pork, onion, garlic, brown sugar, dry mustard, salt, pepper, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce; mix well and cover. Cook on low, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 hours or until the meat is tender.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A fill-in of sorts.

The Husband: So, how do you feel if I go?
Me: I don't think I'm comfortable with that.
Him: Why?
Me: Because...
Him: Because...?
Me: I... don't know.

I am nothing if not seriously awful when it comes to explaining how I feel. I need time to sort through my thoughts first. I tend to shut down. Close off. I need to digest everything, mull it over, obsess about it and decide how I'm going to handle things.

So, when I immediately told him I wasn't comfortable with the idea, that was very unlike me. Normally, I'd say something much more articulate like hmmm and then go hide away in a dark corner. But don't worry. As soon as he asked why, my natural instinct to retreat kicked in. Hence the very eloquent I don't know.

The truth is, I did know. I knew immediately why I wasn't comfortable with the idea of my husband traipsing off to Las Vegas for an ENTIRE NIGHT with a group of single friends. And it had nothing to do with my fear of murderers and rapists breaking in. Or of accidentally stabbing myself with the knife I keep next to the bed when I'm home alone. (Don't laugh.)

Maybe it's a sign of personal growth or maybe I was just so tuned into why it bothered me, but this one didn't take me long. I sat down next to him on the sofa and announced, "There are three things that bother me about this trip."

Then he rattled off some stats from the all-star game and I had to kill him.

Oh, relax. I kid! That only happened in my head.

Me: Honey, please.
Him: I'm sorry. What are the three things?
Me: Well, the first and most obvious one is money. Of which we have, like, NONE.
Him: (nodding) True.
Me: The second thing is... well, I thought you didn't even want to go.
Him: I don't, but they keep hassling me about it.

(I will never understand this. If you don't want to do something, don't do it. Or if you do, don't be afraid to say it.)

Me: (after a long pause during which I looked at him with one eyebrow raised IN DOUBT) Ooooh-kay. Well. The third thing is that I'm really just not comfortable with my husband taking a trip to Las Vegas with a group of his single friends. Oh which there are men and women.

This is when I proceeded to explain myself, but I'll spare you the details since I already covered them in a previous post.

Him: (after listening to me ramble on and on incessantly for eighteen minutes) Honey, I understand. I won't go. I really don't want to spend the money, anyway. Hey, look. Joe Mauer's up.

Me: (pause) He's hot.

The end.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Seeking your advice, thoughts, opinions, whatever. The singles edition.

Two nights ago, over a sink full of dishes, The Husband announced that a co-worker of his had planned a trip to Las Vegas for the group. "The group" consisting of the five people that work together in his office.

And I immediately announced, "I'm not going!"

Because the sad truth is that this woman planning the trip? Yeah. I can't handle being in the same room with her for more than five minutes. No, for more than one minute. No, just the thought of being in the same room as her for even a moment make me want to toss myself out the nearest window and pray it's at least a few floors up.

She's very loud and very IN YOUR FACE and incredibly negative, always looking for someone to hold responsible for all that's wrong with her life. And when I'm around her I can feel all of the positive energy (of which I don't have much, I admit) being sucked from my very being until it takes everything I can possibly muster to prevent myself from melting into a puddle of soggy tears and depression.

So, when I announced my disinterest in going along on this overnight adventure, The Husband wasn't exactly surprised. But then he asked, "How would you feel if I go?"

My reasons for immediately exclaiming my uneasiness at the concept were not the ones you might think. They have very little to do with recent events and much more to do with past events. My own past events.

Two or three years ago, I became friends with three women I worked with. Three women with whom I had very little in common. They liked to shop and wear make-up and go dancing. They had great clothes, fantastic shoes, matching purses. Their hair was always perfect. I'm still not exactly sure how I fit in.

Me? I'd gladly never step foot in another clothing store ever again. I don't wear make-up (I know) and I hate to brush my hair. I own exactly two purses, both of which cost under $75. My shoes consist of sneakers, one pair of flip-flops that I try to avoid wearing, and a pair of Uggs. And my dancing? Or what I call "dancing?" Not pretty. Which is why I don't do it.

But somehow, the four of us became friends and spent a lot of time together for several months. We'd go to dinner, hit the bars... or sometimes gather at someone's apartment, cook, drink, and watch movies.

Harmless, right? Well, what I haven't told you is that the main difference between us was the fact that I was married and they weren't. And when we'd get together, I wouldn't come home until four or five in the morning.

I wish I could say that it quickly occurred to me that this wasn't exactly appropriate behavior for a married woman, but, sadly, the realization didn't sink in until some time after our friendship fizzled. Since then, it has become glaringly obvious just how negative an impact it had on me and my marriage.

Those single girls proved to be a very powerful influence. I didn't want to be at home. I wanted to be out. With my friends. I wanted to be single. At least, that's what I thought I wanted at the time. And, had it continued, I'm sure it wouldn't have been long before I got just that... and been incredibly sorry for it.

Don't get me wrong. I know that married people can have single friends. But I am a firm believer that a married person shouldn't surround themselves with only single friends. And on this trip to Las Vegas? Everyone else is single.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rice Krispies Treats. And then some.

07 13 2009 - Rice krispie treats 125 - e

I had a hankerin' for Rice Krispies treats this past weekend. (And, yes, it's "Krispies" with an "s." I checked.) Every time I go to Disneyland, the one thing I can't leave without is a giant Rice Krispies treat. There's something about those slightly stale treats with the layer of chocolate on top that I just can't get enough of. I bring it home, stick it in the fridge, then slice and eat it while reading my favorite blogs in my pajamas. It's what I do.

So, I couldn't make these without drowning them in chocolate. And then, while in Target, I lost my head a little when I found these ice cream toppings that I knew would be perfect for sprinkling. The candied almonds were especially delicious and I ate most of the jar while watching Definitely Maybe (which I absolutely adored, by the way). (Ryan Reynolds? I love you. Well, I hated you in Just Friends, but you've since redeemed yourself, so... call me!)

I have a serious problem with almonds. Especially sweet ones. I can't stop after just a few. It's impossible. That's why I never buy them. Those plus cool whip, graham crackers, and marshmallows make up my list of seriously dangerous trigger foods. I cannot keep them in the house. Period.

Rice Krispies Treats

One 10-ounce package of mini marshmallows
Six cups Rice Krispies cereal (or generic brand 'cause it's cheaper)
Four tablespoons butter (yes, four)

1. Melt butter over low heat.
2. Add marshmallows and stir until melted.
3. Remove from heat and add cereal.
4. Mix thoroughly and press into a greased baking dish.

Once it had cooled, I tore chunks off and rolled them into balls. (I thought about cutting them into squares. I think that'd be cute, too, and probably easier.) I used the lollipop sticks I had on hand to dip the treats into melted chocolate. I let the chocolate just begin to harden before pressing them into the different toppings. If you try to add toppings too soon, they'll slide right off. Trust me on this one.

I love Rice Krispies treats. Unfortunately, they're another item I really shouldn't keep around. They're much too easy to eat.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Something to do while we're digesting all that fried food.

One of my favorite things to do at the fair is wander the Great Hall of Art. (Not the actual name, but roll with it 'cause I've forgotten.) It's a giant room, one half of which is filled with photography, the other with paintings. Naturally, we stay on the photography side. Because we're snobs like that.

It's mostly amateur photography with just a couple of walls reserved for professional work. And everyone is local.

This is one of the pros. I love it. But if I get started on how I feel about tattoos, we'll be here all night.

I could seriously wander around and look at these pictures all day. In fact, I'm sure I'll be back in here roaming around before the week is through.

And then I stumbled upon this:

I have no idea who took this photo, but does it look familiar? It should. (Well, for the one or two of you that have been hanging around since December.)

Remember this?

I took this photo. Which means we were at the beach on the same day! (It had to be the same day. There's no way those funky crop circles in the sand would have survived overnight.)

And I took this picture of the sunset.

See?! Totally the same night. Which means that whoever took the photo of the pier was one of those "real live photographers" I was watching on that cold December night while munching on warm, candied almonds. (Mmmm. Those almonds were AMAZING.)

I'm totally feeling a connection right now. With someone I've never met. I love when that happens.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

You, too, might be using the F word at the end of this.

I had an epiphany. Are you ready for this? Okay, here it is.

I need to fucking relax. (And please don't misunderstand the F word. It's not angry, just... impatient.)

Now let me backtrack a little.

A few days ago (Tuesday, July 7th, to be exact), I was PMSing and hormonal beyond belief. (Sorry, men.) But seriously? "Emotional" doesn't even begin to do it justice. I was going to cry. OVER EVERYTHING. I don't do this often, so it's hard for even me to deal with. (I can only imagine what it's like for the people around me.)

On this lovely Tuesday morning, in my heightened emotional state, I gave into impulse and went through The Husband's cell phone while he was in the shower. It was like an out of body experience. I didn't want to do it. But I couldn't stop myself. It was as if I had lost all control over my own body and someone else (my neurotic, psychopathic twin maybe?) was in charge.

I didn't find anything. Well, nothing life altering. And, let's face it. At that moment, a hair out of place would have sent me into hysterics. As it was, what I did find was enough to occupy my thoughts until MY BRAIN EXPLODED.

A phone number.

Not just any phone number.

A RANDOM phone number.

The number called him. A message was left. The call was returned. And repeat.

I obsessed about this for, oh, TWO DAYS.

At work, I asked a male friend what he thought I should do. Should I call the number? Or just ask The Husband? I was afraid to bring it up. Things had been going so well, I didn't want to do anything that might cause a new fight. Especially if it was nothing. But I had to know.

My male friend said I should just ask.

So then I asked a female friend who said, "Call it. Right now. Just call the number."

So, I did. (Are you cringing yet? 'Cause I am and I know what happens.)

I called the number (*67, of course) and waited.

A woman answered. A WOMAN. I had hoped for a business of some sort, but no. She answered, "This is Melissa."

I hung up.

I turned to my female friend. "Who THE FUCK is MELISSA?!" I asked. No, screeched. I think I screeched it.

We sat and analyzed the call for a good thirty minutes. Her tone of voice, her words, who she could possibly be.

I spent the day at work reaching levels of obsession I never thought I'd achieve. It was almost exhilarating. In a very sick and twisted way.

Then I was driving home. And I was sitting in the car when a thought occurred to me.

I can’t obsess over every random number that goes in and out of his phone.

Is it understandable considering our past? Yes.

But will it ultimately destroy our marriage and my sanity along with it? Yes.

I can’t turn into a psychopath every time he makes or receives a phone call. He could be calling ANYONE, for Christ’s sake. A doctor. A store. A colleague. Am I really going to go into panic mode every time he calls a number I don’t recognize? How is that any way to spend a life?

I could feel some sanity returning and I was beginning to feel almost normal. I wanted to drop the whole thing and get on with my life, but… let’s face it. I was much too invested to just drop it. I had to put this episode to rest.

Later that night, I called the number again, hoping to reach a voicemail that might shed some light on who this slut person was. I got the voicemail, but it was clearly a personal cell phone. I was still in the dark.

The next morning, I checked his phone again to see when the calls had been exchanged.

And this is when I really went crazy.

It was the Fourth of July.

I was with him ALL DAMN DAY. How did I not notice he was playing phone tag with someone?! No, not with “someone.” With A WOMAN.

I tried to get back to my happy place, the one I had reached the previous day. Just because it was a woman’s personal number didn’t mean there was something inappropriate going on. I mean, NOT THIS SOON, right?

A few hours later it finally hit me like a ton of bricks. I remembered. I remembered the whole thing. (And suddenly I had an image in my head of a horse trailing a carrot. (Yes, I’m the horse.) It was like the answer was right in front of me all day and I just couldn’t reach it.)

So, here it is… in all it’s anticlimactic glory.

We were with friends on the Fourth. One of which got royally shit-faced and tried to drunk-dial a girl. Which girl, you ask? MELISSA.

The Friend couldn't get reception on his cell phone and barely managed to get through to voicemail. In his message, he slurs instructions for Melissa to call him back on… wait for it… The Husband’s cell phone.

And guess what happened? You’ll never guess. SHE CALLED HIM BACK ON THE HUSBAND’S CELL PHONE. And left a message. And when The Husband retrieved it, he told The Friend who then used The Husband’s cell phone to continue his fun little game of phone-tag.

Wasn’t that a fun story?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sweating the stupid stuff. Naturally.

2:30 p.m. The Husband goes in for not one but TWO root canals.

4:30 p.m. Begin to wonder will he be in pain? Will he be able to chew normal foods? Should I go to the store and get soup? Make mashed potatoes? Oh, my POOR HUSBAND... (ugh)

4:45 p.m. Walk to the store to get root canal-friendly foods. (Assuming I know what that might consist of.)

5:00 p.m. Browse the aisles at the grocery store. Get frustrated with too-chunky soup offerings. Debate over a million different things. Continue to worry about my "poor" husband.

5:30 p.m. Arrive home and immediately put a pot of water on to boil and begin preparing potatoes. Think he should be home within the hour. Worry. Feel bad. Think about cleaning the entire house and doing his laundry.

5:35 p.m. Realize I received a text message from said husband thirty minutes ago. It says, "Just leaving and going to the bar."

5:36 p.m. Decide to never make mashed potatoes for that jerk again.

The one where I actually provide something educational.

I received a comment yesterday asking which photography resources or tutorials I could recommend. So, here are some of my favorites:

Digital Photography School
This is a great site. I subscribe to it so I get their awesome articles in my Reader daily, but they also have a public forum that is super fun to browse and participate in. This page in particular has great articles for beginners. Just be careful. If you're at all like me, you'll find yourself looking at the clock, shocked at how much time has passed since you first sat down.

Short Courses
I found this one a long time ago and it finally helped make things like aperture and shutter speed make sense. It offers great diagrams and animation and tips and tricks... and all in easy-to-understand terms.

Kelby Training
This is more Photoshop-specific. And I love this site. It's fantastic because it feels like someone is in the room showing you what to do. The downside is that it comes with a fee. $20 per month. And I realize that now is not the best time to be spending the extra bucks, but even if you can swing it for one month, you will get a lot out of it.

(Of course, I love everything Scott Kelby.)

Also, I Heart Faces has some worthwhile tutorials. And so does PW's photography page.

I'm sure there are plenty more that I'm forgetting, but it's making my brain hurt trying to remember. I hope if anyone else has some sites to share, they'll do so in the comments.

Happy Learning!

S'more Brownies.

God, I love Hershey's chocolate. Say what you will about it or any other chocolate that you think is better... I don't care. Hershey's and I have had an ongoing love affair for years and it ain't showin' signs of slowin'. (And for the rest of this post, I shall refrain from usin' any g's. Thank you.)

On Monday... did you know that Monday is my official baking day? Because I'm at home, alone, and that's just what I do. So, if you ever find yourself on a Monday thinking I wonder what Stephanie's up to today? Well, I'm in my kitchen. Or I'm sleeping it off on the sofa.

So, on Monday, I found this recipe for brownies that were topped with peanuts, chocolate chips and marshmallow fluff. They looked good, but I knew my husband would start packing if I made anything with nuts. Immediately, I thought s'mores. Instead of peanuts, I'll use graham crackers. And instead of chocolate chips, I'll use Hershey's chocolate. (Because you can't make s'mores without using Hershey's. I'm sorry, you just can't.)

The great thing about this recipe is that it's EASY. The brownies came from a box. Sure, you could make your own from scratch, but Betty Crocker does a pretty damn good job of it.

Make the brownies according to directions and let them cool. Then spread a jar of marshmallow fluff all over the top. (I may have eaten a spoonful, but it's okay. I didn't need the whole jar.) Chop up graham crackers and Hershey's chocolate and sprinkled both over the marshmallow. I'm sorry if you're looking for exact amounts here, but I just eyeballed it. Besides, I don't think you could do wrong with this one.

Actually, I found this recipe just last night and probably would have used it had I found it on Monday. (Except I'm kinda glad I didn't because it might not have gotten the same rave reviews. Yes, they were raving.)

After topping the brownies with all the good stuff, pop it back into a 325 degree oven for about ten minutes.

I was going to say these are amazing right out of the oven (and THEY ARE) but they're also amazing an hour later. The next day. Even the day after that.

I read a tip that they're much easier to cut if you've let them chill in the fridge for a little bit. That's probably true, but I cut mine after an hour of cooling on the counter and they were fine. Just gooey. And delicious. And hard to stop eating. Seriously, I'm not even going to tell you that I ate four of them myself how many I ate.)

My husband took a plate of these to work yesterday and the verdict was that they were better than cake balls. I said there's no way, they just haven't had cake balls in a while. THEY'VE FORGOTTEN. But, yeah, they're THAT GOOD. My husband... that man I married who doesn't even appreciate sweet, baked goods the way a normal person should... has been begging me to make more. If that doesn't tell you how good these are, then I can't help you.

Just try them. Like now.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Feels like Summer?

Lately, I've been so afraid of being cold that I overdress. And then overheat. It's becoming a serious problem.

See, our apartment doesn't get any sun, which I suppose is great during the hot summer months, but not so much in the winter. In the winter, I freeze. I have space heaters strategically placed all around the apartment... one under my desk, in my closet, next to the sofa to warm my tosies while I'm watching TV.

In the winter my closet turns into an icebox and it becomes absolutely painful to change clothes. In the winter I'm always wishing for heated floors and toilet seats. A towel warmer. And a central heating system THAT WORKS. (Because the one that was installed 40 years ago is crap.)

Now that it's summer, our apartment has been a lot warmer. I still wear sweatshirts most of the time, but it's much more comfortable. My problem starts when I go to get dressed to leave. Take yesterday, for example. I decided to take a walk down to the fairgrounds. The Orange County Fair opens on Friday and since we live just blocks away, we always get to see them erecting the rides and games and stages. I wanted to get a peak, maybe a picture, so I got dressed for a stroll.

As I left the house in jeans, a tee shirt, and sweatshirt, I was comfortable.

When I got to the fairgrounds, I was hot and miserable.

So hot and miserable, in fact, that I had lost most interest in taking pictures which is why this one totally sucks.

But there's the giant Ferris wheel. Well, most of it.

Carnival rides really scare the doodie out of me. The only two I'll go on are the Ferris wheel (called "Le Grande Wheel") (I don't get it either) and the People Mover. You know that thing that has seats and takes you up high and slowly moves you from one end of the fair to the other? Yeah, that.

And both of these rides turn me into a mass of trembling nerves. But the thought and possibility of plunging to one's death is sort of thrilling. Or something. My husband and sister go on rides that flip you up and down and upside down and around and around all while hanging hundreds of feet up in the air until someone ralphs. They think it's awesome. I think they're nuts.

I also personally think it takes more than a week to build rides and make them safe. But that's just me. I'll stick with the exhilarating People Mover.

Here are the top ten six reasons I'm excited for the fair:

Caramel apples. Last year we found the most amazing caramel apples. They're huge and dipped in caramel and then chocolate and then candy. And there are all sorts of crazy, wonderful, hip-expanding combinations. They're fantastic. I've been dreaming of them since last year.

Fried avocado. Wait. Fried EVERYTHING. Amen. (And, holy Godiva, I just found out they'll have DEEP FRIED S'MORES this year.)

The hypnotist. 'Cause it's awesome watching people act like complete lunatics. (And, no, you will never see me volunteer for this.)

The smell of barbecue and corn on the cob. Maybe I'll actually eat some this year.

Baby pigs. (Speaking of barbecue, right? Oh, relax. I'm kidding.) I'm a sucker for farm animals. Especially mini ones.

The games. Ridiculously expensive and probably fixed games that'll win me a five cent stuffed animal that I'll later throw away because, oh yeah, I'M NOT FIVE. And watching my sucker husband try to guess his pitching speed is always fun.

So... how do you feel about deep fried everything?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sunset or dead seagull? I couldn't decide.

I demand that you appreciate these photos of the sunset because I had to lay on my stomach and lean out of a second-story window that's maybe a teensy bit bigger than a shoebox, keep myself from falling, press the shutter, and simultaneously prevent my neurotic cat from taking a flying leap as she's been trying to escape for the last two years since we decided to make them "indoors only." The monster. (This is the same cat who likes to chew up my books. And rack up thousands of dollars in vet bills for NO APPARENT REASON.)

It was a few nights ago while I was sitting at my ironing board desk in my bedroom, doing whatever it is I do on my computer and watching Family Guy (what else?) when I finally noticed that our bedroom was glowing. Come on, peeps, we all know I'm a total sucker. FOR A SUNSET. Thank you very much.

At first I grabbed my camera and ran outside. But our neighbors? The ones who like to pretend their six by six foot concrete patio is a playground slash pool? They were out in full force and wandering aimlessly about and, well, I realize I need to get over this, but I hate acting the tourist. In front of my neighbors. My fourteen-year-old sister would roll her eyes at that 'cause she's all above caring what people think. I can only hope that I'll be as cool as her by the time I'm thirty.

I was also using the wrong lens. I'm so in love with my fifty prime that I always think it'll work great in any situation. Yeah. Not really. So, I switched lenses, briefly wished for a killer wide-angle, and flung myself out the window. You're welcome. What's funny is that our bedroom faces another apartment building only a few short feet away. Which means that anyone looking out of their kitchen or bedroom window would have seen me hanging out of mine. (And they would have thought, wow, that girl needs to brush her hair.) For some reason, this doesn't bother me. Maybe because I can't see them, technically they don't exist?

And then there's this.

I'm sorry, but I keep stumbling across this photo and I always sit and look at it for a moment and wonder how I can work it into a post. Well, it totally doesn't work here, but then again, when does a photo of a dead seagull ever work? I swear I didn't notice the seagull that took it's own life until I had already taken the photos. I was just trying to fight off the seasickness and capture a photo of those cute sea lumps lions.

This was also the day I realized my mother and I are very much alike in one very painful way. We both become incredibly disappointed when others don't ABSOLUTELY LOVE what WE LOVE. She loves to go sailing and when I didn't immediately fall in love with it, too, she was all heartbroken. And as I watched her face fall and begin to pout, I thought, oh God, no wonder my husband never wants to admit he doesn't like something. THIS IS HOW I ACT. AND IT'S NOT PRETTY.

And I immediately threw myself overboard.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Just a sample of the fun that's had...

...when one cat goes to the vet for the day...

...and the other stays home alone.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

I don't think "crazy" even begins to cover it.

I love fireworks. I love to watch them and I love to take pictures of them. Unfortunately, I think it'll take me years to become any good 'cause I just don't get to see them often enough to practice. Still, they make me happy.

I had a great holiday. Long, but a lot of fun. Sadly, it started with me getting up at six a.m. to go into work for a couple hours. As soon as I got home it was hurry and change so we can hop on the bikes and roll down to the beach.

The Fourth of July is definitely my husband's holiday. He loves the crowds, the parties, the fireworks... the casual, laid-back mood of the entire day. I let him take me where he will, knowing that come Thanksgiving, he will be sucked into The Crazy that is my family with absolutely no say in the matter whatsoever. (It works for us. Sometimes.)

The beach cities get absolutely freaking nuts on the Fourth. We started in Huntington Beach where we met up with friends and watched some of the parade before having breakfast. From there, we rode down to Newport Beach. And then back again.

You know how I mentioned that last weekend we were on our bikes for FIVE HOURS? Yeah. That was nothing. Yesterday, we were on our bikes for TWELVE.

Okay, not continuously. We stood to watch the parade. We sat when we had breakfast. We stopped at a bar in Newport and sat there while we indulged in one or more adult beverages. (Holiday. Who's counting?)

I never realized there would be such a drastic difference in the two cities during the holiday. I assumed they would be equally insane and chaotic. Huntington had it's fair share of crowds and house parties, sure... but in Newport? Those house parties spilled into the streets everywhere you looked. There were so many people that you couldn't tell where one party ended and the other began.

And the people partying in Newport? Much more willing to take their clothes off on a whim. In Huntington, I'm sure there are a fairly high number of intoxicated people willing to get naked, but you're not as likely to witness those random acts of drunk strangers like you are in Newport.

When The Husband and I finally arrived home, we both fell into bed, exhausted. As I began to drift off to sleep, he looked over, smiled, pet my hair and said, "You did so good, honey."

All I know is he better not have one single objection come Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Two-toned fudge.

I got the strangest sense of déjà vu just now while adding these photos and I'd swear I already wrote (or possibly dreamed?) this entire post once upon a time. And not just the post, but the fudge as well. I'VE MADE THIS FUDGE BEFORE. Weird. How do you feel about déjà vu? Is it a psychic phenomenon? A dream remembered? A memory of past events?

I'd like to believe it's psychic ability. I always thought it'd be fun to be a psychic. Well, for things like winning lottery numbers and avoiding traffic, naturally. None of that doom and gloom stuff, thank you very much.

Thinking about this has me wanting to ask all sorts of random questions, but they're all rather morbid, so instead I ask you this: would you rather have one wish granted today or three wishes granted in 10 years? (And there's NO WISHING FOR MORE WISHES.)

Oh, yeah. Fudge. DO NOT make this fudge if you don't like rich, creamy, incredibly easy and delicious fudge. 'Cause you'll totally regret it. And then I'll have to come over and eat it so that you won't have to look at it for one more second (because I'm accommodating like that) and then I'll cry 'cause I'm getting fatter everyday. No. Seriously. This is why I will make The Husband PROMISE to kick me out of bed when my alarm goes off at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning because I need to get my ass to the gym.

This fudge is amazing. The recipe is for peanut butter and chocolate, but you could use any flavor chip combo you want. Mint. White chocolate. Butterscotch? I'm not sure you could go wrong with any of them.

Two-toned Fudge
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 7-ounce jar marshmallow cream
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Put the chocolate chips and peanut butter chips in separate, heat-safe bowls.
2. Mix together the marshmallow, milk, butter and sugar over medium heat.
3. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.
4. Boil and stir for five minutes.
5. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
6. Pour half the mixture into each bowl of chips; stir until melted.
7. Pour melted chocolate into foil-lined 8 by 8 inch pan. Quickly pour the melted peanut butter chips over it.
8. Let cool on the counter.

Work quickly, but safely. And try to divide the marshmallow mixture as evenly as possible. I didn't pour enough into my chocolate chips which made it very thick and hard to spread. I believe this is what caused the obvious separation between the two flavors. But it certainly didn't detract from the taste and my enjoyment of it.

Did I mention I need to go to the gym?

The beer bottles? I used them as a background for the pictures. 'Cause I'm creative and resourceful like that. And I felt the need to share that tidbit with you. You're welcome.

(Printer-friendly version of the recipe.)