31 May 2010

What I Learned This Weekend

This weekend was a learning experience for me.

I learned that one-year old boxers make great dancing partners.

I learned that those same boxers go crazy when you do a cracked-out air guitar.

I learned that Mitch remains an old crank who isn't yet wholly cool with Fletcher. 

I learned that the weather can be crappy, and I can still have a magnificent weekend while in the company of good friends and cute dogs.

As you can probably tell, we had a marvelous weekend up at la casa de Hugh and Cassie.  We ate too much, drank too much, and laughed until it hurt.  How much longer until our next visit?

I also learned how to make a new favorite cocktail and dishes, but if you want to hear more about those you'll have to read about them on Cassie's new blog, White Hot Inspiration.

One last thing I learned: shallow bowls of beer do, indeed, make effective slug traps.  I thought better of showing you that picture.

29 May 2010

Friday Night View

I love everything in these pictures: the big dog, the little dog, the chair I bought off Craigslist and secretly hate, the four remotes, the nail clipping tool I accidentally bought for $15 (but it was well worth it), the Pilot Precise V Rolling Ball pen in Robin's Egg blue (as one of my old English teacher used to call it, when instructing us to use only a traditional blue or black ink), the beer, the Matt, the smiles.

May your Memorial Day Weekend be this happy!

27 May 2010

All Smiles

Um, are you kidding me right now with this dog smile?  Reilly had his first boat ride on Sunday, and when he came here to visit that night that was all he and Mitch talked about.  There's just something about a dog on a boat, smiling away.

I've got lots of reasons to smile right now. 
  1. That dog.  Today I was reading The Odyssey with my ninth graders, and it got to the part where Odysseus returns home and his dog recognizes him after twenty years.  It was all I could do not to cry.  All happiness, those creatures are.
  2. Matt.  I really like him.  I also really like that he is the grill master, and that he likes to sing stupid songs with me, and that he tolerates my manic behavior.
  3. Ten more days of school.  Whaaaaa?  Yeah, ten.  Tomorrow that shit will be in the single digits.  I'm also smiling because this has been my best school year yet.
  4. The word shit.  It's my new fave.
  5. This weekend.  Free concert in Forsyth Park tomorrow night (some G Love character), and Hugh and Cassie's after that.  If you don't hear from us, it's probably because we're stuffing our faces with Cassie's amazing cooking. 
  6. My vacuum.  I'm still obsessed.
  7. Enamel colanders.  Beauty.
  8. Netflix Instant.  And the fact that I can lie on the couch and rewatch Friday Night Lights with our Netflix Instant Wii disc.  What did people do before the internet?  Probably just laundry.
  9. Only ten more days of school.  Oh, did I mention that already?
  10. Cupcakes.  I love them, even if they do keep me fat.
  11. Target.  Ours has been a long, hot love affair.
  12. Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure nail polish.  Makes me feel like a real girl.
  13. George Clooney.  Oh yeah, my prize for getting through The Odyssey with ninth graders is that I get to spend a day watching O Brother Where Art Thou?.  I've seen the movie dozens of times, and never tire of George Clooney's facial expressions. An added bonus is that afterward I get to listen to ninth graders' renditions of "Man of Constant Sorrow."
  14. Oh, and I only have ten more days of school, in case you forgot.
Smiles, smiles all around.

Handy Mandy

I'm cheap.  Really cheap.

And I'm resourceful.  Really resourceful. 

So when shit breaks (or when I break shit), I am loathe to call a repairman.  Instead, I insist that I can fix it myself. 

In the last few weeks, I've fixed:  Matt's dresser drawer, the kitchen sink (my bad), the dishwasher (still not really sure what I did), and. . .

Rewind to Sunday.  Matt and I went to the beach, got into a five-minute fight, got sunburnt, read magazines, headed home, bought a pineapple at the Piggly Wiggly, got home, took showers, and started a load of laundry.

Easy enough.

Except that when the washer had completed its cycle, I went to switch the load and the washer was still full of water.  Like full full.  Like "Oh shit, we're going to have to go buy a new washer" kind of full.


So I asked Cris (Lost enthusiast and former roommate, mother of Reilly, pictured above) what she suggested, and we decided that it would be a good idea to just run it again.  Kind of a "turn the computer off and then turn it back on" solution. But it didn't work.  The washer was still full of water. 

And since I really didn't want to spend the rest of my evening emptying the washer with plastic cups, I turned to The Google, googled "washer won't drain," and discovered that there was a good chance that the draining hose thing was clogged.  Made sense, especially considering how much fur and how many coins and tubes of Burt's Bees have ended up in the washer.

So I pulled out the washer and unplugged it (figured that might be a good idea), and slowly removed the hose.  After I stared at it (much in the same way that Mitch stares at me when I ask him if he wants to order a pizza--slowly moving his head from side to side) for a few moments, Cris had another good suggestion: blow into it. 

Yeah!  Great idea!

So I blew.

And I blew, and I blew, and I blew.  (I blew more than the horrible episode of The Hills that I'm watching right now--Jesus Christ, Spencer, could you be a little more crazy?!)

And bubbles kept coming up from the bottom of the washer.  Just like farting in the bathtub.

I blew some more, at this point because I was impressing myself with my incredible lung capacity.

Then came the moment of truth.  We put the washer on the rinse or spin cycle (I can't remember), and held our breath.  Well, I didn't hold my breath.  I was kind of out of breath from all the blowing.

And. . .


And then, every 10-15 minutes for the next three days, I'd turn to Matt and be all, "Hey, remember that time I fixed the washer by blowing into it?"

Washing Machine, 0.  Mandy, 1.

26 May 2010

Recipe Card Maker

How do I know I'm old?  Well, for one, I know I'm old because I was giddy when I came across these printable recipe cards today.  How cute are they?  Methinks they could be fun for homemade gifts.

You can find the generator here.

Now I'm going to go drink a big glass of Ensure.

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

Because strawberry shortcake is one of my all-time favorite foods, I'm game for any fun variation of it.  Last year, Cassie baked up Pioneer Woman's Strawberry Shortcake Cake, and I was instantly in love.  I mean, if there was one thing that traditional strawberry shortcake was missing, then it was cream cheese frosting. 

So here's my variation of her variation (kind of like how The City is a spinoff of The Hills, which is a spinoff of Laguna Beach). 

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

Nothing too fancy, really.  Just my friend Martha's versatile vanilla cake, chopped strawberries, and cream cheese frosting.  What's not to love?

I made these on Sunday morning, in preparation for our viewing of the the finale of Lost.  You know, because on the island the survivors were all the time munching down on baked goods.  Really, I just wanted them.  But I made twenty-four, and believed it dangerous to keep twenty-four of my favorite little treats around, so I decided to walk some over to the new neighbors.  You know, to be all neighborly and shit, and because they have a few kids (and to butter them up a little bit so they won't get angry with us this summer when we have our late night conversations in the carport).  So I put on my new cute pink cardigan and walked some over (remember, we live in the ghetto). 

The neighbor seemed appreciative, if not weirded out.  Now I'm paranoid about what they think of me. 

"Oh, crazy white lady next door--all the time either drunk or baking. . ."

25 May 2010

Lost, Thai Kebabs, and Way Too Many Parentheses

Hey, remember that time we all watched this show that was so cool with its plane crash and its crazy characters and its polar bears and its scenery?  Remember that time we spent six of our, what, 80 (?) years of our lives watching that show.  (Yeah, sure, we weren't watching the show for the entirety of those six years, but it was a long time nonetheless.)   Remember that time that show ended with some bullshit purgatory/it was a dream/autistic boy watches shit in a showglobe ending?  Yeah, me too.  I'm kind of pissed.

Here's the thing, though.  I didn't want to be pissed.  And I wasn't the obvious choice for "dissatisfied viewer of the year."  I really didn't care that much, or so I thought.  And most of the time, I enjoy a series finale.  West Wing, awesome.  Friends, awesome.  Seinfeld grew on me.  Arrested Development, I get it.  The Wire, awesome.  Cosby, awesome.  Roseanne, suckfest.

And here's what makes for a suckfest finale--when the producers give the viewers a season's worth (or more, you hear that, St. Elsewhere?) of shit that's apparently not real.

Back in our glory days (I say that because we were younger and thinner, and had the world by its balls, or so we thought) at JMU, Matt and I (and Best Friend) took a film class together.  It was a genre class.  You know, westerns, film noir, musicals, crazy, etc.  Most of the movies were pretty good.  In fact, one of my all time favorite movies of all time (cliche though it may be) is one I discovered during that class, Annie Hall.  (P.S., 500 Days of Summer is like a modern-day Annie Hall, and I want to watch it 500 times.)  But back to the point.

 So there we sat, in an uncomfortable room (that used to be a swimming pool--no lie) with a bunch of pretentious "film" students.  Now, if there's one thing more annoying than an English major, it's a film minor.  Vomit, vomit, vomit.  They're all "societal norms" and "that's not how Fellini did it" and yadda yadda bullshit bullshit.  But their bullshit is somehow more grating than the bullshit that I had to endure in, say, that masochistic Faulkner class I took with Dr. Cash.   But you know what's more annoying than just a film student?  A film student who says after every film we watch in class, "Are you sure that wasn't all a dream?"


What was I talking about?

Oh yeah, the suckfest disappointment that was Lost.



Super Lame.

The ending of Lost was terrible.  Yeah, maybe not as terrible as some of the other episodes this season, but terrible.  Suckfest suckfest.  Oh, heaven?  Oh, church?   Oh, Sayid loves Shannon more than Nadia?  Oh, Jack and Juliet suddenly don't care about their kid?  Kate's still alive?  Give me a fucking break already.

The first two hours or so were fine--nice even--but the last fifteen minutes?  Man oh man, that was stupid.  Matt came up with like three better endings during the finale, and he was drunk and sunburnt!

The only thing was made the season finale of Lost redeemable was that we had these Thai kebabs for dinner, and they're really delicious.

We've made these a number of times, they never disappoint, and they're cheap to boot!

Here goes it:

Spicy Thai Pork Kebabs

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup lite soy sauce
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lime zest
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1-2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
wooden skewers (soaked in water overnight)
Veggies and fruit of your choice:  we've used onions, pineapple, apple, red pepper--you could do even more

1.  Whisk together first five ingredients.  Reserve 3/4 cup for later use.  Put remainder in ziploc bag with pork.  Marinate for 8-24 hours.

2.  Preheat grill to medium high (350 to 400 F), and heat 6-8 minutes on each side or until done.  Remove from grill. 

3.  Serve with rice and use reserved sauce as a delicious condiment.  Then just eat it off a fork, because it's so salty and delicous.

 That's what she said.

This and That

  1. How is it that I'm twenty-nine years old and still manage to get shampoo in my eye at least once a week?
  2. Stefan is my favorite Jeopardy! contestant in eight years.  There's nothing like the Tournament of Champions to make me feel like a complete idiot.  (Except for, maybe, getting shampoo in my eye time and time again.) 
  3. Went to the beach on Sunday.  Wore sunscreen.  Still managed to burn my ass.  Time to break out the satin pajama pants. (Landed a plane on the beach.  Oh, wait. That was someone else.)
  4. Have been having intense hydrangea envy while taking Mitch for walks through the neighborhood.  Decided to take action by buying and planting my very own bushes.  I'm cautiously optimistic.  If this doesn't work, I'm getting a ski mask and skulking around the neighborhood at night cutting blooms.
  5. I love thunderstorms.  So do my new hydrangeas.  Mitch, however. . .not so much.
  6. Thirteen more days of school, but who's counting?  Me, that's who.
  7. Went to Gap and bought two more cardigans.  That's five, for the high price of $15. 
  8. Mitch, still the cutest and most snuggly dog on the planet.
  9. AND. . .Lost.  What the hell?  Why did I just waste six years of my life?  To be fair, I didn't care all that much.  Once I found out what the numbers meant, I was good.  But it's probably good that I didn't care that much, because I might have been heartbroken.  Every time I think of the ending I want to vomit in my mouth and spit it at Kate.  Lame.

22 May 2010


Damned dog hates it when I wake him up from a nap.  I'm pretty sure this is "the stinkeye."

21 May 2010


I knew the garbage disposal sounded funny.

I did not know that quarters are copper on the inside.

This one used to be currency; now it's a ninja star.


What a day it's been for shopping! I stopped in Gap and they were giving clothes away.

I found three of these cardigans (mine are pink, darker pink, and brown):

One of these crew neck sweaters (in black):

Two of these pairs of pants (for Matt, one khaki and one grey):

And a khaki pencil skirt (that I couldn't find a picture of). . .all for $52!  Matt's pants were $15/pair, and the cardigans and the sweater were each $3.  The skirt was $7.  Not an outlet, not typos, just great sales.  There's a 97% chance that I'll be returning tomorrow to get more goodies.

Found any good sales lately?

Mission: Eneloop

I am not the smartest person.  Not even close.

Sure, I can diagram a sentence like nobody else.  Yeah, there are times when I am insightful or witty or demonstrate good judgment.  Some days, even, I act like an intelligent and reasonable person. 

But yesterday was not one of those days.

Let's start at the beginning.  I have this camera.  It's complicated and somewhat fancy, but it's like seven years old and not as high-tech as others on the market.  My camera takes AA batteries, four of them at a time.  And the camera, partly because it's older and not as technologically advanced, drains batteries pretty quickly.

A few weeks ago I bought some new rechargeable batteries for the camera, the Sanyo Eneloop batteries, ones that had received rave reviews on the ol' Amazon. 

And the batteries are pretty great.  They arrived pre-charged, and they hold their charge much longer than the others that I had.  Good and good. 

Until bad.

Because on Sunday, when I went to grab the batteries from the charger, one of them fell down behind our kitchen counter.  See the charger to the left?  See how the little lip (is that what that's called?) is about 3/4" away from the wall?  Yep.  There went my battery.

And  that shit was driving me crazy!  I couldn't get my hand all the way down, and even when we got a flashlight, neither Matt nor I could see where the battery had gone.  I could have sworn that I heard it fall on the ground back behind the countertop of doom, but I couldn't see down that far.

I was pissed.  Sure, the battery itself only cost like $2, but it was part of a set, and I had just bought the set, and I had to order it online, and I wanted my battery back.  It ate away at me.

When I told Cassie about the lost battery, she suggested that I use the new vacuum's crevice attachment to retrieve the battery.  I thought this was an excellent idea.

So while Matt napped after work (he told me that he'd set his alarm for 6:00), I set out on my mission to find that stupid battery.

First I pulled out the stove, smashing my finger in the process.  I screamed and jumped around and flailed my hands about for three minutes. 

Then I pulled out the washer.  That was less exciting.  There was enough dog hair under the stove and washer to build six more Mitches, so I then set to the task of cleaning up the disgusting mess.  That took some time.

Finally, after managing to cover myself in nastiness and kitchen grease/dirt/dog hair film from beneath our appliances, I tried to find the battery.

The crevice tool was just a tiny bit too big to fit down in opening, so I had a brilliant idea.  I channeled my inner Hulk, and began to pull the counter away from the wall.  I pulled, and I pulled, and there were some cracking noises (which I interpreted as "progress"), and then I pulled some more.  I got the counter to be about two inches from the wall.  Super!

But still no battery.  (But not for lack of trying!)  I decided to give up.

I put the stove back, and the washer, and I started to wash my hands.  It was then that I heard it: dripping (like a waterfall) beneath the sink.  It appeared that in my infinite "break the house to find a $2 battery" wisdom, I had pulled some pipes apart.  Oh no.

This was at 5:15. 

After clearing out the cabinets beneath the sink and sopping up the horrendous mess with towels, I set to work on my next assignment, fixing the house before Matt woke up.

I fumbled and cussed and hurt my hand some more and fumbled and cussed some more.  I wanted to cry but I couldn't cry because I didn't have time.  I kept acting out the scene in my head, what I'd have to tell Matt, how our summer vacation funds would instead go to a plumber because of my stupid, stupid, stupid choices.

After more fumbling and more cussing and forty minutes, I had basically earned my plumber's license, and there was no more leak.  (Cue applause!)

Then I found the battery.  Under the sink.  Wish I'd looked there.


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