25 January 2009

Bumper Sticker Awe

I love reading bumper stickers. They can affect me in different ways: laughter, frustration, confusion, a feeling of sympathy for how stupid the driver is. One thing they don't do though is change my point of view. In general I think bumper stickers say what you think, but do little in the way of changing others' ideas.

For instance, I saw the most in-your-face example the other day. While I agree with their view, it was a definite no-holds-barred approach. After I read it I thought, "Ouch! They're not pulling any punches." And I wonder if it will get through to someone or just offend those who don't already agree. Here it is:

"Getting an abortion doesn't make you unpregnant. It makes you the mother of a dead child."

How's that for in-your-face?

I don't really know how to end this post, so I'll do what I normally do: throw in something silly.

My favorite bumper sticker of all time:
"There are no lesbians. Only women who haven't met Chuck Norris."
Sure it's offensive, but gosh darn it, it's also just plain funny.

23 January 2009

For the Dug-Mania sweeping the nation...

I made this wallpaper for everyone of you who can't get enough Dug. After I made it and placed it on my desktop I called over to the Big Man himself, "Hey Duggy, check out what I just did!" He turned from his computer and, after only a moment, responded with, "That is just plain scary!"

All you do is click on the pic, and it will take you to the full-size version. Once there, right-click your mouse and then choose "Set As Desktop Background." At that moment, all your dreams will be fulfilled and you'll have Dug in abundance. (And no comments about his ear, okay? I only noticed it once I had finished, past the Point of No Return.)

(non-disclaimer: I do not have permission to post this. he he he)

21 January 2009

Example of when you shouldn't name your company after yourself...

We pass this business on our way to church every week. It's juvenile, I know, but we laugh every time we drive by. (The kids keep asking us why and we keep ignoring/avoiding their questions.) Unfortunately, the stinking power pole is in the picture, but that's what you get when you have a few seconds to snap a picture driving 55 mph. (In case you aren't very good at Wheel of Fortune, it reads: BJ Services Company.)

Seriously, who would purposefully name their business that? I don't know what this company does, but I assume their name doesn't explain it all. There are two possibilities in my book:
1.) It's been around for a very, very long time, long before the current slang came into being.
2.) The Founder had a very good, albeit perverse sense of humor.

Enjoy it. This is my gift to you...

08 January 2009

Another short fave post.

Baking Obsession is one of the most beautiful baking blogs I've seen. This lady is super talented. (Just look at her white chocolate rose and you'll understand what I mean.) I've tried her gingersnaps and they are the epitome of gingersnap-dom. Absolutely delicious. Seriously, the best ginger cookie that has ever touched my lips. Go to her site. Stare. Drool. Print out some recipes. Bake them.

You will thank me.

07 January 2009

Quick little fave.

Go to Pandora and make yourself a station from the artist Feist. That is the sound that Tricia is liking right now. A lot.

05 January 2009

A pine needle isn't that big...until it invites its friends.

As always: click on any picture to enlarge.

Upon buying our new home, we knew that our walk-behind mower was not going to hack our 1-acre property. We left it in Oregon with our renters. Once here, though, Dug was constantly in Philadelphia until Christmas break. Dug's friend, Chris, heroically stepped up and with his riding lawnmower, took on our post-Ike lawn. As their family and ours cleared tree limbs and anything too big to mow, Chris drove around our slightly wooded lot. Three hours later, our lawn was at the "HOA-approved height."

Stinkin' HOA. By the way, we got our first non-compliance letter! Every house in our neighborhood has a rather large lighted address number sign beside the road. (about 6' wide x 4' tall) The previous owners, for whatever reason, had decided to plant little shrubs at the base of theirs. It must have looked cute in the beginning, but they failed to check the "Mature Height" for these bushes. Yaupon Holly grow to 15-30 feet! They were having to prune them back into a ridiculous shape. (To understand, try this: put both hands in front of you like you're trying to get someone to stop their car, palms facing away from you, fingers held together but your thumbs are sticking out making "L" shapes. Now imagine in the middle of this shape is our house number and your hands are the shrubs.) Why would someone create work for themselves like that? It was ridiculous. The shrubs weren't happy. They wanted to grow tall, but half of their shape was pruned into a right angle. Luckily, at this point they had only achieved four foot in height. The non-compliance was that the address sign wasn't visible from the street. Our solution: rip the dang stuff out. No more pruning, no more worrying, no more visibility issues. Problem solved!

Back to my original post:
Dug knew that in the summer he would have to mow the lawn about once a week. Three hours every weekend to mow the lawn? Not going to happen. He did his research and found the Beast. I'm serious. It is as wide as a small car. The Turf Tiger by Scag. Rowr!! (Notice the tiger stripes on the wheel well. Methinks this takes the "tiger" theme a bit too far.) This baby has a six-foot deck (That's the mowing width. Don't feel bad, I didn't know either.) and can achieve 12 mph. It's a zero-turn, which means that he can do pirouettes in place atop his grass-eating monster. With this baby, our lawn only takes an hour. We even found a nice place for the kids to get a ride. (See Princess Cutie Pops, there?) Behind him is the sweeper. It's picking up the pine needles that fell between the first mow and now. Which brings me to the real point of this post, beyond the introduction of our Turf Tiger!

Below, you'll see various needle/leaf piles dumped by the sweeper. What do we do with them? No yard debris bins here. You either throw them in bags and put them on the curb or...burn 'em! Back in Oregon we could only burn three days in April each year. Here in Texas, living in the county, we get to burn whenever we want! Woohoo! Bring on the bonfire!

Here's Dug, feeling that special feeling that men do when they are staring at something that they have lit on fire. Look at those boys. You know in their heads they're thinking, "What else can we burn?"

What we didn't realize is how long it takes an acre's worth of pine needles to burn. Three hours later, the piles were finally reduced to one glowing, smoldering heap. Periodically, until we went to bed, Dug and I would go out and turn the pile and it would catch aflame all over again. We would stand and stare, there is something almost mesmerizing about fire, especially at night, and then go back in.

I'm liking Texas...

02 January 2009

Book Challenge Results

This past year I took part in two book challenges: The Year of Reading Dangerously and Orbis Terrarum.

The Year of Reading Dangerously was all about taking on books that you have been avoiding. Books that you deemed too difficult, not your preferred genre, or, as it turned out in my case, didn't interest you at all. While I didn't finish this challenge I did get through a few books that I wouldn't have otherwise, plus I have a few that are now on my "To Read" list.

  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (loved it)
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (hated it)
  • Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood (not my usual pick, but enjoyed it mostly)
  • Transformations by Anne Sexton (strange, don't know why it was published, interesting)
  • Maus I and II by Art Spiegelman (excellent)
  • The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (long, but good read)
Didn't Read:
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (not going to)
  • The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier (tried the first few chapters and have no interest)
  • Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote (started it, became overdue, will probably try again some day)
  • The Secret Lives of People in Love by Simon Van Booy (have to buy it since our library doesn't have it, "To Read")
  • The Human Stain by Philip Roth (want to try it)
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (need to read it for Great American Literature's sake)
Orbis Terrarum challenged me to read books from authors around the world. Highly interesting to me and the only reason I didn't finish is because I had to buy some of the books (which didn't happen) and the last half of the year was entirely not reading conducive. Every book on the list that I didn't read, I will get to as soon as possible. (Some books doubled for both challenges, I've only listed the ones specific to the OT challenge.)

  • Dubliners by James Joyce (okay read the first time, want to read it again to understand it better)
  • The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom (the most impacting book I read this year, hands down)
  • Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (sad, heart-wrenching, inspiring, makes you want to help change the world)
Didn't Read (but really, really want to):
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino
  • A Personal Matter by Kenzaburo Oe
  • The Old Gringo by Carlos Fuentes

So what did I learn? I'm a very "of the moment" reader. What I mean is that I'll only read what interests me at the time. If I can pick out the books, then I'm more excited to read them. If I have a chosen-for-me list, I'm not. I am not going to read a book that I don't like when the only reason is to mark another down on the "Finished" column. Life's too short to read crappy books. (and by that I mean crappy to me)

And that is my reflection on my undertaking of these two challenges.

The End.

01 January 2009

A Tardy French Yule Log

It's Daring Bakers time! (This was supposed to post between the 25th and 28th of Dec, but you know...)

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

While it's called the seemingly benign French Yule Log, I think it would be more aptly named, "What Happens When the Indecisive are Forced to Answer the Question 'What is your favorite dessert?'"

Seriously. This baby is four desserts that could completely stand on their own, but noooooo, someone thought it would be best to combine them. From a work standpoint: whine, whine. From the standpoint of eating said dessert : brilliant!

I could try to explain it, but I know, and you know, that it wouldn't make as much sense without a picture. So for your viewing enjoyment and french dessert knowledge enrichment: here she is in all her multi-dessert layer glory. (Just click the picture at right to enlarge.)

What you need to know if you want to make this:

  1. The recipe is here.
  2. Double the icing recipe.
  3. If you sub the rice-krispies, only use about 1/2 cup.
  4. The creme brulee cooked between an hour and a half and two hours, not the one hour they "suggested."
The best part was that the entire thing was written in metric! I got to use my scale for every measurement. It was awesome. No dirty measuring cups (because there were enough pots to clean, let me tell you) and no guessing on anything. I think I'm going to try more European recipes from now on.

Remember when you were taught metric in school and everything was divisible by the beautiful and super-easy ten and you asked your teacher, "Why don't we use metric? It's so much easier." and she gave you some lame-butt answer about how expensive it would be to change, blah blah blah, etc.? Cooking with metric will bring you back to that same question, "Why?!?" Believe you me, it was heaven. (Well, if you're the nerdy, love-efficiency type like me, that is.)

To end I'll leave you with the label-less version of the cross-section. Because I know you want one last look...