Friday, July 31, 2009

An anniversary list that probably won't make you barf. + RECIPE

Not that I'm a marriage expert or anything, given I sometimes still refer to Bubba as my boyfriend - whoopsy!, but I thought I'd commemorate this year's #5 anniversary with a list of things I've learned while being married to this man, Bubba.

What happens when someone had too much Whikkey! around the campfire the night before.

Not all of them are marriage things - in fact, we'll see if ANY of them are marriage things - but all of them are things that make me glad I married this man. Even if he does things that make the dialing of 911 a daily possibility.

The existence of the titanium camping spork.


I've learned:
  1. how to dial 911 without looking at the phone's keypad. While applying direct pressure.
  2. the names of a million geezer bands. And how to identify them on the sound system at Mojo Burger.
  3. how to rock climb.
  4. how to make Bs & Gs well enough to pass for "Real Bs & Gs" instead of that canned bullcrap you get at chain breakfast places.
  5. how to open a beer bottle with a lighter.
  6. how to change the brake pads and oil on my car.
  7. the best way to insult a live band taking requests. (Play Freebird!)
  8. how to shuck an ear of corn.
  9. that it's called The Nam, not 'Nam. Although this point is still debatable.
  10. how to smoke a brisket. And a chicken. And make awesome BBQ beans. All at the same time.
  11. that it's 100% acceptable to watch cartoons as an adult. For an entire afternoon. With cocktails.
  12. how to wire an outlet.
  13. the Redneck Road Trip snack: RC cola and a moonpie.
  14. how to play Hay! via cell phone.
  15. how to build a one-match campfire.
  16. the best way to appreciate my sports teams. (Compare them to his sports teams.)
  17. the importance of bacon in all things.
  18. how to ski black diamonds and trees.
  19. that a pry bar sometimes IS the best tool for the job.
  20. how to cook corn on the cob so that it's just right.
And, as I expected, none of these are marriage things. Because, really, what do I know from marriage? I've only been married for five years and we're like big children in our house, what with the moonpies and playing with fire and watching cartoons and all that.

So, I can't give marriage advice, but no one really wants that anyway. No. What people want is a good easy way to make corn on the cob without boiling the fuck out of it.

And now I will tell you how. Courtesy of Bubba, his mom's fool-proof method for cooking fresh corn on the cob and the blessed midwest where corn grows as far as the eye can see. Which, incidentally is far, given the extreme and desperate flatness of the place. Sheesh, Kansas, I get it! You're flat! Enough already.


MiL Corn on the Cob
Recipe by my MiL. Handed down by Bubba. Made by me.
No changes. You don't change MiL recipes. That's dangerous business.


Ingredients
Corn on the cob, shucked - one or more ears per person, you decide
Water
Clean kitchen towel


To make
Soak a kitchen towel in luke warm water and wring it out.

Wrap the shucked ears in the towel and heat in the microwave for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes an ear.

There may be tomatoes ON the towel, but don't be fooled. There's corn inside.

It's not crucial that your microwave light be busted AGAIN for this recipe to work, but it helps.

Remove with hot pads because WHOA they'll be steaming.

I don't think I have to tell you that I initially did not use hot pads and was thusly burned. Duh.

Unwrap with said hot pads and serve as is. If the bitches want butter, salt, pepper or otherwise, let 'em get it themselves. Like I have to because Bubba doesn't believe in these things getting between him and his corn whereas I am a bitch and like all of the above.

Just so you know.

And feel free to have a full-on starchfest, complete with gnocchi.


Happy Anniversary, Bubbs.
I love you tons and you're still the funniest fucker I know.



Wednesday, July 29, 2009

#600 & Adopt a Crop : CORN, bitches!


I'm not going to blow a lot of space on this, but I thought you should know that I've subjected you to 600 posts now and that seems like a lot of you putting up with my foul mouth, so...thank you?

Anyway, yay! 600!

Now, back to the real story, which is corn.

Yes, bitches, CORN already!

This is the first year I've grown corn and corn is scary.

Scary like I've never grown it before so it could have disease or pest issues I don't know how to fix or it might have all kind of special needs I don't know how to address or it might be an anti-semite or WHO KNOWS. See. It's scary.

Or, should I say was scary.

Well, if you're my neighbor, corn still IS scary, but he's a funny dude who saw that movie too many times or perhaps had a traumatizing childhood experience near a cornfield so I can't account for all that, but to me - corn is no longer scary.

See. If I were scared of corn could I get this close to it? Alright, then.

Because the corn is HERE! In the sense that it is actually ripe and we're going to eat it for dinner tonight. And then hopefully for a lot of other nights because WHOA there's a good deal of it out there.

When it rustles, my neighbor squeals like a woman. It's amusing. Because he's not a woman.

And if I seem extra excitable about the whole situation it's because I'm trying to not be mad at Bubba for cracking off the first ear last night away from my prying eyes. And after we were so full from our gazpacho that we couldn't possibly eat the freshly cracked corn (Oh. Is that where that saying comes from? Because I DO care. Is anyone getting this?) in his hot fist even though that's how one must enjoy corn - freshly and immediately picked - so that it doesn't turn all starchy and wrong waiting for your teeth to chomp down on it.

Whoopsy.

But that's OK. I forgive the Bubba. He must have the corn fever, too. He's been helping me palpate the ears and estimate their readiness, so I have to assume that the excitement consumed him and he was unable to restrain his man hand from cuh-racking that ear right off.

I should have made us eat it right there, shouldn't I?

Too late now. We're having it tonight for dinner, with another ear which will be freshly cracked by moi, and we'll do a side by side taste test to see what's better: freshly cracked or yesterday cracked.

And now I will not say cracked or corn any more in this post.

But tomatoes. We can say, tomatoes. So let's!

If you've peeked at the tracker (which I'm actually being really good about updating, dontchaknow) you know that I've already taken down 12 lbs of tomatoes from those plants and we're nearly $80 in the black for the garden this season.

Sweetness. Yes, yes.

What you wouldn't know from looking at the tracker is that the garden shows no signs of said harvesting.

Oh no. It looks like no one has attended to its ripening bounty in a good long time since everything is producing and ripening and fruiting and basically making itself known in the vegetable sense.

Helloooooooo? Anyone home? We're ready to come inside now.


I have never grown tomatoes quite this large, my friends. And when I say, large, I don't mean just the plants are large. No. I mean the tomatoes themselves are XXL. Like, if we were on the islands, we'd be looking for that hula shop with the 4XL sign in the window so that we could properly dress these fuckers for a night out on the town.

There's just more of me to love, baby.


Not that we take our tomatoes out on evening excursions, but you get what I'm saying. Amongst the normal sized tomatoes - in the 1/2 lb category and such, we've had a disproportionate number of biggies. And I've picked more 1 lb+ monsters so far this season than I have in all of my combined gardening seasons and, of that, I'm proud.

Scared. But proud.

And let's not forget that the plants are mighty large themselves. To the point where they're trying to tear down their heavy duty cage in order to...well, I don't know what. Run for freedom? Escape to the circus? Mingle with the apple tree?

Who knows?


To keep them from running off, Bubba helped me reinforce their cages with twine and rebar and we've both given the apple tree a stern lecture about provoking the tomatoes.

YOU KNOW HOW THEY ARE, APPLE TREE - Don't taunt. It's rude.

You may also be frightened to know that the beans have gotten a second wind and are putting out another crop for me. Because they heard we were getting more beans in the farmshare this week and that my freezer is still full from the last 4 lbs I took off the plants which I believed to be my final bean harvest and clearly was not.

You know you want it.

Um, darn?

Also, if you were sad that we weren't going to be featuring the bulbous lovable lemon cucumbers around here anymore because we'd reached the finish line with this year's Adopt a Crop - dry your tears. The cucumbers have not yet halted production.



No. I picked about a half pound last night for our gazpacho and, in so doing, still left a sizable crop on the plants for, um, later. Yeah. We might have to make more pickles.

Other things are growing, too, although not as quickly or astoundingly as other things. These not astounding things of which I speak are the citrus.

I'd be astounding if I were a kumquat.

The lemon tree is doing, I'd say, average, and putting some energy into filling out the fruit that has set and stayed after it dropped a million little dried up good-for-nothings on my patio.


The new kumquat is doing, I'll say, slightly below average, given that it's dropped most of the tiny fruit that it initially set and is rounding out the few last little fruits with minimal daily progress. This may have been the result of a recent and poorly managed heat wave.

Thankfully the plant looks glorious and shiny despite its sudden lack of teensy fruits, so I'll give it a pass just this once. But no more free rides after this, kumquat - you hear me?

And that about does it for the update here. And I guess I can stop calling it Adopt a Crop since we've gone full circle on that madness already. Y'all can start thinking about what your winter crop might should be. And I'll start thinking about whether I have it in me to pull together a winter garden. Think about things like potatoes, garlic, onions and fava beans.

Just think about them! That's all!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Running update: No stretcher required

I wanted to check back in with y'all, post-shortish long run and "speedwork", so that you didn't think I actually had to have Bubba come fetch me from the hither part of our neighborhood with a stretcher after all.

Because it turns out that the Impressive Suck Fest of yore (last Thursday) was something of a fluke.

Flukey in the sense that all the stars aligned, apparently, just in time for me to have that shit-ay run and I have no one to thank for the alignment of the stars but my good old self.

Yeah, I can align the stars? What of it? I can't use my powers for good, so don't get excited.

Based on my previous theories, and the very diligent avoiding of their repetition for the two following runs, I have decided that a few things are crucial and now worth adding to my Supah Technical Training:

(FYI: These all fall squarely into the Duh Category so no need to, like, comment as such.)
  • Eat carbs the night before any run
  • Drink water when thirsty the night before any run
  • Keep taking your pill because you know why
Basically, I was so traumatized by my crap run on Thursday, that I took careful measures (ie. I paid attention to what I was doing for five minutes) prior to my following runs so that I didn't have to call out the Marines to rescue me from 8 miles away.

I drank water with my carbs (pizza counts as carbs) on Friday night and had a not bad 8 mile shortish-long run on Saturday, and then drank water with my carbs (rice with Korean BBQ counts, too) last night and finished my speedwork in the 24s this morning.

I was pushing to get into the 23s, but was shy by 0:00:17. So close. Maybe too much BBQ.

So, the downward spiral of my feeble running career seems to be on hold for now. And, by some twist of fate, I've begun taking things like nutrition and hydration into consideration for the sake of this running I continue to do.

This might sound like the formation of a more formal training regimen, but don't be fooled, I'm as lackadaisical with my training as ever. Especially if you consider the amount of wine I had the night before my 7 mile shortish-long run and how, this weekend, I'm totally pushing off my shortish-long 9 mile run until next weekend because, instead, Bubba is taking me away to the beach for the celebrating of our #5 anniversary.

And I can't be running on a beach! That'd be ridiculous!

Not to mention painful, sweaty and a waste of a good morning's lounging about in a gigantic hotel bed with Bubba and maybe some tasty room service.

So, like, don't worry about me getting all Extreme Wraparound Sunglasses Runner on you or anything because when faced with the serious dilemma of Running or Lounging, I will choose Lounging at all the right times.

Friday, July 24, 2009

I tried to spray this post with perfume, but I don't think it worked.

Bubba made an astute observation last weekend as I served him something like his fourth meal from the new food processor:

"I thought we weren't supposed to eat processed foods."

Not that either of us really believe that this rule extends to food just briefly touched by My New Kitchen Hunnie, but still, it made me laugh a little.

Mostly because he didn't even take a breath between his observation and diving headlong into a bowl of gazpacho, freshly processed by Cuisinart, dontchaknow.

Not that this preparation sets it apart from any other meal, snack or otherwise from the weekend, because it doesn't.

Everything homemade that went into our mouths (because, hello, we still had to have pupusas from our favorite place) from Friday to, uh, Monday I think, came from the new food processor. Because I'm like a kid on Christmas with a new toy. I'm going to play with it and integrate it into every cranny of my life until it's wearing a cape and sleeping in bed with me at night.

Except without the cape and sleeping in my bed thing. And also, I doubt I'll get tired of it in a week and leave it out in the rain to rot with last year's kitchen obsession - the hot water canner. Since you KNOW the canner is getting lots of use already. With more planned. Just you stay tuned for Tomato Glut 2009.

Anyway. This post actually IS about the Cuisinart, and all of the many fabulous things I made with it in just a few day's time because I simply can't do things in moderation it would seem. Not that I got any complaints, but how could one complain when one's mouth is filled with fresh bread, dill pickles, strawberry rhubarb crisp, gazpacho or fresh salsa?

One couldn't. Which is just another reason why my New Kitchen Hunnie is so incredible.

Let's see photographic evidence, shall we?

Fastest loaf in the west.


Firstly, the bread. I put bread first here because I'm pretty sure it's what broke the camel's back. And by camel, I mean me, of course - sans humps though.

See, the germ of desire for a larger food processor had begun to grow in me long ago, perhaps when I first tried to jam more than 3 cups of ingredients into my 3 cup food processor, suddenly realizing the limitations of said food processor.

What? You can't put 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of butter and a cup of sugar into this thing without it jamming up and shooting shit all over my kitchen? WHAT A RIP! OH! And now I have to get the mixer dirty, TOO, because I have to move it all over there?? UGH! LAME!

Yeah. It was a hard lesson to learn. And I'm sure it won't surprise you that it took me more than one go with an overstuffed food processor to realize that the 3 cup annotation is on there not just for looks and not just so that you can know how much salsa you've just made. No, it's also there to tell you how much shit you can process with it.

You might be going, "Duh, woman." right now, but I assure you, sometimes it takes me a long time to get to "Duh." But when I do, I totally get it. And then I go buy the biggest fucking food processor I can find.

So, if we are to retrace our steps back through this meandering maze of a story, the Straw here was this recipe for Food Processor White Bread.

Basically, I came across the recipe a few weeks ago and when it said, "Make it today!", I took it to heart and then became wildly disappointed with my life because, sadness, my food processor wasn't up to the task.

At this moment, Amazon and I reignited our latent love affair. Our love child is the Cuisinart you see in all these photos.

But then, with the new love child on the way, I began to nest. In the cooking sense of the word. I began to assemble all the recipes of things that require processing and, usually, were made up of more than 3 cups of ingredients.

Which is how we ended up with all the pickles (hello, 7 lbs of pickles were processed in ONE BATCH - that is rad), the bread, salsa from all the tomatoes, cilantro, peppers and onions from the garden, gazpacho from the new crop of cucumbers (they never stop I tell you) with some more tomatoes and, finally, strawberry rhubarb crisp.

If you were to look into my soul, this is what you'd see. Sort of.

There's another story that goes with the strawberry rhubarb crisp, but it's another meandering tale during which you will become bored of me and leave the blog forever, so I will spare you, however, the shorter story goes like this:

My neighbors are awesome and brought home rhubarb from one of their mom's gardens in Wisconsin and then gave me some because when they asked if I liked rhubarb, I fainted on their floor.

True story. Ish.

You should sit down for this.

I *wanted* to faint on their floor. Because my love for rhubarb knows no bounds. And when you combine it with strawberries and bury it under a proper crisp topping? Fainting becomes so likely I have had to lie down to write this part of the post.

Seriously, this is my favorite FAVORITE favorite pie/crisp/cobbler/whatever flavor combo in all of Dessertdom. Even more than *gasp* blackberries.

I KNOW.

So, anyway, when she offered me a big honking bundle of fresh rhubarb PLUS a basket of strawberries *they couldn't possibly eat*, I just tacked the crisp onto the many other food process-y things I had on the docket for the weekend and began to draft a sultry love poem for my beloved, the crisp.

Don't worry, Bubba understands. As I will share with you shortly.

Thanks to my 14 cup all-star, though, it took hardly any time to make. And, thanks to my unquenched desire for strawberry rhubarb anything, it also took hardly any time to eat.

Thankfully the awesome neighbors agreed to come over for dinner and help us deal with the situation so that I wouldn't shame myself. Sadly, they weren't around two nights ago when Bubba came home from work and found me in a lover's embrace with the remains of the crisp still in its Pyrex.

It's not how it looks. Honest. I was thinking of you the whole time.

When, actually it was exactly how it looked and I was thinking of nothing but getting to the bottom of that dish come hell or high water, but Bubba understands because that's what he does with the blackberry pies and so, I can not judge him later when I make him a blackberry pie and he proposes marriage to said pie in my presence.

See? We're very accepting of each other's quirks around here. Strangely though, they mostly involve berries. Odd, that.

Anyway, to sum up this flagrant saucy love letter to my Cuisinart, I will say that this thing is awesome, quiet, efficient, easy to clean and such an utter necessity in my kitchen that I know I will love it long time. And, plus, the little Cuisinart looks so happy to have a friend in the cupboard.

That's what it's all about, Cuisinart happiness. And pie. Lots of pie.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Running update: Impressive suck fest

I feel it's only fair that I break up the recent string of everything-is-great running posts with one that's, let's say, not so great.

I'd even go as far as to say that it is an impressive suck fest to rival even that 11 mile run that had me within butt's reach of the toi for the better part of a Saturday.

Don't worry - there's no poop involved in this story, unless you consider my morning's run to be SHITTY, which I certainly do.

But lest I lead you, in any way, to believe that my short career of running has been mostly fun and games and attainment of super slow PRs, please let me share the following with you as a story of caution.

See, I got up this AM with the expressed intent of getting in a nice speedwork-ish type run. I call it "speedwork-ish" because it's not real official speedwork, as the official running types of the world would have me perform, but more of my bastardized I'll-just-do-what-I-want kind of training that gets me out and running and exerting myself to the point that I feel like I've exchanged enough pain for fitness that I can passably call it "speedwork".

Basically I run at pace for 5 minutes followed by a one minute sprint- for 30 minutes and cover a distance just over 3 miles.

So, before anyone gets all, "That's not real speedwork, you lackey!", I will just say, "I know, and I'll thank you to go back to running 880m repeats in your fluttery shorts without butting in while I'm telling a story of woe."

Anyway.

My approach for these runs is always the same:

I get up around the hour of 6, don weather appropriate running wear (or sometimes I wear shorts in the cold because I hate tights), my low-tech watch and tune my iPod to something loud and raucous with plenty of swears. I then do a few stretches on the front porch, set the low-tech digital to 0:00:00 and set off, Seether rattling in my skull.

And about 24 minutes later, I come rolling into the driveway all sweaty and ready to throw the ball with the dog for a few minutes before Real Life of work/hair blowdrying/choosing of painful high heels begins.

Sometimes, if I'm particularly spunky, I'll do the run in the 23s and I consider these days to be spectacular successes. Like, I'll do a little self-five in the backyard so no one can see my loserness.

Sometimes, if I'm particularly sucky, I'll do my run in over 25 minutes and I consider these to be my shame days and, immediately after hitting the driveway and consulting the Suck Watch, I'll reset the chrono to 0:00:00 and pretend like it didn't happen.

And then I will also not get on this blog and talk about my shame. You know how I feel about public shame.

Well, today was a special exception. Because I dragged my lifeless corpse into my driveway 27 minutes after departing.

And that's not the worst part! No. The worst part was The Cramp. The one that accompanied me, by way of my right oblique, throughout my entire run while my stomach churned the tune to Magnum PI. Why Magnum? Dunno. My stomach must also have a thing for Tom Selleck.

And no amount of brief and desperate stretching at annoying traffic lights could fix this The Cramp. It was bound and determined to ride along all 27 minutes worth of my run, making me miserable and mystified all at once.

I haven't had a cramp while running since, well, the beginning? Since when I couldn't pin three running miles together and never had any plans of running a race.

And now, what?

My theories for The Cramp are these:
  • It's an aggressive new strain of PMS brought on by a change in The Pill (which would make sense since most proper nouns are related in some organic way, right?)
  • I was dehydrated from my evening of furious knitting of baby hats for all of my friends having twins wherein I did not drink all my water despite being thirsty as all hell
  • I didn't eat any carbs with my din-din last night and, thus, had no juice for the sprints and just burned out before minute five, never to recover
  • I suck and am not meant to be a runner
You decide.

Anyway, that's pretty much the extent of my impressive suck fest. And while it may not sound that impressive since there weren't any bodily explosions or near misses with aggressive pre-coffee traffic, it sure felt extra sucky to me since I had all the belief in the world that I was going to go out and really work those sprints this morning in prep for my shortish long eight miler this Saturday.

But no. This 27 minute horror will haunt me throughout my Saturday run.

Bubba - please ready the stretcher.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Adopt a Crop update: Pickle CHiPs Visitor


First of all, please don't try to tell me that you don't get my CHIPS joke here (as lame as it may be), because it's impossible that everyone in the whole wide world (and of every generation thank you) hasn't seen CHiPs from back when Erik Estrada was hotness in his CHP uni.

Just don't even try to tell me that.

However, if you're singing the theme song in your head right now (too) - bonus points!

For what, I don't know, but they're bonus points so just take them and like it.

NOW - on to the Adopt a Crop update which is:

Pickle Chips (are you getting the joke now? No? Geez.)

As in, we have hamburger-ready pickle chips as a result of the lemon cucumber seeds planted in my garden back in March, that sprouted in April, put out new leaves a few days later, germinated with ferocity, set blooms in an All Natural Cage-Free environment, and then set fruit at a rate unequaled in all of gardendom.

So then, last weekend I stood toe-to-toe with my new enormo Cuisinart and set out to make chips of those cucumbers, if it was the last thing I did.

Why yes, that IS me reflected in the stylish chrome facing of the food prep. Whoopsy.

And yes, it was very dramatic.

Of course, the real drama came about three weeks ago when I had some of my first lemon cucumbers and decided, on a whim (those nasty dream-crushing whims) to test out the Supah Secret Slicing Blade that had until earlier this year been hiding away in my cupboard.

And oh was I excited to put this newly discovered piece of kitchen gadgetry to work!

Sadly, it was not to be.

And why not?

Because the Food Tube (why do I love this term?) on my weeny 3 cup food processor bowl was too narrow for the likes of my bulbousy (new word alert!) lemon cucumbers. Oh sadness.

I tried jamming it in there extra hard (whoa), but alas, all my Forcing It skills were no match for the too-small food processor.

And then I think you know exactly what I did. I went to Amazon and hunted down the largest food processor (Cuisinart only though, thank you for playing) I could get my greedy hands on and then purchased a 14-cup monster that could adequately manage the girth of my cucumbers.

WOW THAT'S NAUGHTY.

And when that baby arrived? Oh mutha, did we have a moment.

I *may* have hugged this beast to my bosom. *MAY HAVE!*

You don't see any bosom prints, do you? Well then. Now who feels silly?

Anyway, throughout my whole shortish long run on Saturday morning, all I thought about was making pickle chips, because that's how ridic my life is, and when I was done running (and showered, dressed, fed, etc) I set out to make this dream come true.

To say that this Cuisinart is the perfect tool for a Cucumber Take Down is to put it lightly. This beast made those cucumbers his bitch.

And that, my friends, is what 7 lbs of cucumbers look like as chips.

And quiet?

Holy. Super quiet. Not at all like the freight train I have in my 3 cup processor. I don't get it.

But this isn't a review of the Cuisinart. This is me telling y'all that I have now produced Pickle Chips from what originally was nothing more than a $2.95 packet of seeds. And that I'm ready to ship a jar of pickle chips off to a lucky pickle chip lover.

Hint: It's one of these jars.


And, GOOD NEWS, this year you don't have to wait for them to, like, stew in their own juices for six months or whatever. OH NO. This year I used a magic pickling spice that, hold on to your britches, actually infused these chips with lip puckering dilly-ness in 24 hours.

This was the pickle taste test. PASS.

Oh yes. I've tried them. They are dill-icious.

Oh my god. Spank me for typing that last sentence. I am disappointed in myself.

Anyway, they're good is what I'm trying to say. And you can eat them direct from the jar when you get them and call them Pickle Appetizer like I do when I want to justify eating pickles with a fork from the jar or in a big pile as though they are a proper meal or snack.

That's 4 1/2 total quarts of snacks right there.

Which I believe they are.

Anyway.

If you voted for Lemon cucumbers/Pickle Chips or you like pickle chips (remember, these are dill - not fruity disgusting SWEET pickles which are the devil) or you've read along with this riveting account of crop-ness since spring and feel you're owed something, feel free to leave a comment by 8/16/09 stating your desire for pickles and I'll pick a name via the random name chooser thingee, alert the public as to the winner and send out Erik Pickle CHiPs Estrada for a visit.

Super cool sunglasses and suggestive uniform not included.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Craft: along July : Not too shabby


I'm sure you expected this when I announced this month's totally unbiased Craft: along projects.

I mean, you do know me to be something of a Tshirt makeover psycho, and well, this was a project just calling out for the bottom dresser drawer (that's where the Tshirts live, dontchaknow).

Of course, I hit something of a mental design block when actually sitting down to craft my swimsuit cover-up because the contest example is pretty much exactly what I had in mind to make as it's a near duplicate of my favorite swimsuit cover-up but I couldn't just go making exactly what they have in the example, that'd be lame.

Even though it'd be awesome. And I'd totally wear it. And I might make it anyway and just not add it to the contest pool.

But let's walk away from that obsessive behavior for a moment.

After some careful culling of the bottom dresser drawer and then inquiring within Bubba's superior stash of giant Tshirts, I unearthed (or rather Bubba handed me) this gem.

And while, at first, I was super excited to use this particular shirt for my project, I was at the same time sad and afraid because this shirt is from our friends' now-shuttered pizza joint and the thought of totally jacking up this blissful memory (oh tiled pepperoni pizza, how I loved thee) made me queasy.

Typical understatement. This pizza is THE best pizza. I swear it.

But I forged ahead (obviously) with my rotary cutter and Bubba turned away while I started slicing off sleeves and things.

We'll not go into how I tried my hand at creating a shirred dress from this shirt because the complete FAIL that occurred was nothing short of soul-crushing and has lead me to believe that it is my machine's fault that I can't perform this particular sewing Magic because of its stitch lengthening limitations.

ie. The longest stitch length is 4, and I do not believe this to be adequate. I think I need 8, as noted by a random tutorial I found on the innernets.

ANYWAY, not to worry, I only tried shirring the bust OH THREE TIMES before I gave up in a rage and went to my sewing box for the elastic.

Frankly, that might have been the best decision I made all weekend. Because I can say that the best decision was not the one I made on Friday night when I chose to fill my body with a wide variety of booze with the knowledge that I'd be running 7 miles in the morning. That's right folks, the genius moves don't stop coming.

Anyway, after making the move from elastic thread to elastic band, the transition from Enormo Tshirt to useful Swimsuit Cover-up was rather swift. Like, 5 minutes swift.

The only other mods I made were to cut in some shaping along the sides so that I didn't 100% appear to be wearing a shapeless grocery sack and then I cut some side slits in there which are reminiscent of my favorite, albeit not pictured, swimsuit cover-up that I'll have to show y'all sometime.

It's got this great throwbacky "Hawaii" screenprint on the front that makes me think of the Blue Hawaii days and what not. Plus, it's super comfy, not too dowdy with its side tie and spaghetti straps and despite this awful description of mine, it's way beach cute.

I should just delete that whole last paragraph, shouldn't I?

Anyway. This is my entry for the Singer Swimsuit Cover-up Contest and also one of my contributions to this month's Craft: along challenge.

Notice that I said "..one.." because I did them both. OH YES.

So I took this picture in the bathroom after a particularly hot day that rendered my hair so annoying that I had to pull it away from my face no matter how ridiculous it made look? SO WHAT?

After much noted soul-searching, I managed to make peace with this "super easy" lace pattern and actually produce a lacy summer scarf sans shimmer. Because I find shimmery knitted items somewhat barftastic. Sorry if you're a shimmer person. I just am not.

And since I've spent much time already boring you with the mind-numbing details of how this scarf came to be, I will spare you further detail except to tell you that the tip Zarah gave me in the comments was crucial to its success.

So, if you're going to knit this fucker and you start losing stitches, just make sure that you're adding that crucial YO at the beginning or end of the line. And, if you're not sure which end should have the YO, just check to see which direction your stitches are slanting because that's where your YO should go. If you're on a Slant Right row, put your YO on the right end of the row. If you're on a Slant Left row, put your YO at the left end of the row.

Then knit for a while until it's long enough and you're done.

Then you, too, can go to your bathroom and take a photo in inadequate lighting so that you can put this project to rest even though the photo doesn't do the lace pattern justice because it actually came out quite nice.

It was 90 degrees in our house, people, whaddya want? I'm already wearing a scarf in summer, isn't that enough? I think so.

On a separate note then, how are your projects going? I see some of you have been mighty busy.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Big Times = bye bye Zero Barrier

Today's was going to be a great post.

One with lots of pictures that would make you either want to drool or come over and use my new Cuisinart or maybe cut up a Tshirt or grow something edible in your yard.

But I hadn't been able to decide which thing I'd bang on about because I did all these things things over the weekend and they all came out really well and as planned and I took pictures to show you how sometimes I'm not a total fuck-up but then I forgot to move my camera cord to Today's Purse and whoopsy, no can uploady pictures without the cord.

Boo.

So, while today's post is 100% Foto-Free (or some equally contrived and misspelled tagline that would make my eyes bleed if I saw it come across my TV), it is not without Big Times.

And you know how I like to report on Big Times, given that it's part of the premise for, like, 10% of my posts. I am apparently not very creative but instead just really dramatic. Sorry.

Today's Big Times, however, is regarding the Garden Tracker.

Do you remember this? Have you been checking it? Or, more likely maybe, have you been tracking your own garden's progress and harvests? What? You're not a dorky garden loser like moi? I do not believe.

Anyway.

The whole idea for the Garden Tracker, if you'll recall, is to track my monetary investment in the garden and then the harvests from said garden so then I may figure out how much money I'm saving by growing my own shit rather than trading Whole Foods one of my legs for weekly produce or how much aggravation I'm saving myself by not having to carry home loads of produce from the farmer's market on Saturday morning after a long run.

Not that I'd ever really do that, but you can imagine the sweaty ridiculous hassle I'm hypothetically sparing myself.

And as far as Big Times go, hitting Zero Barrier on the tracker is about as Big Times as the garden gets after you tick off the ripening of the first tomato and the planting of the garden itself.

And for those of you who still haven't gone and watched Armageddon as instructed or surmised the true meaning of Zero Barrier on your very own, it means that garden has gone from red to black.

Uh-oh to Oh yeah.

Deficit to surplus.

Debit to credit.

Expense to profit.

ie. it went from costing me approximately $91.34 to returning me $39.08.

And that's only the return through yesterday, which doesn't take into account the big money harvests I'm hoping for from four tomato plants that haven't even gotten into full production swing, the corn that is boasting at least two ears per stalk, the lemons that are still green on the tree, the kumquats just starting to set fruit, the artichokes yet to ripen or the cucumbers still buzzing with bees on blooms.

What I'm saying here is that there's a lot more to come. And if you think this sounds all braggy, you're right. I'm totally bragging. I'm totally getting all, "Check out how little old me in my suburban backyard with only four veg beds and busy life can grow enough organic produce to feed our household for FAR less than it would cost me to go to Whole Foods and buy it."

And more specifically, "Hey! Look how none of my tomatoes cost me $64 to grow."

Not to say that I grew my garden this year to explicitly prove that a tomato needn't cost $64 to grow in one's own backyard, but being able to show you the numbers and let you draw that conclusion on your own is definitely a bonus.

Even if you don't have to draw the conclusion on your own because I just told you that it didn't cost me $64 to grow a single tomato. Call it my favor to you - the drawing of that conclusion for you, on your behalf.

I'm such a giver.

Anyway, I'm not going any farther down that road since I think you know what I'm getting at so let's instead revel in some random My Garden trivia from the first half of the season.

Call it the Garden's All-Star Break:
So, yay. We've gotten through the first half or so of the garden's season and have gone over to the plus side of the balance sheet. Which, if you're me or another variety of anal-retentive spreadsheet lover, you'll likely find this highly enjoyable. If you just like fresh garden produce being harvested in jammies and an old ratty sombrero, well, rest assured that your gardening dreams are coming true, too.

Let's hope the second half of the season is as good as the first. **And that we somehow clinch the wild card despite our burning desire to suck out loud.

* I have no idea how long it took the cilantro to bolt, but it happened very, very quickly and I estimate that to be approximately 3.4 seconds.
**I don't actually expect the vegetables to clinch the wild card, but sohelpmehanna if the Giants don't at least get the wild card slot, I will be Angry.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Maybe I *am* the boss of this yarn after all.

We can all thank Zarah for this post.

So, after seeing my failure right there in black and white (and orange), I think you know I had to have a little coming to Jesus with myself.

The kind where I malign myself for being such a loser, and then publicly admit defeat to a skein of yarn and then resolve to just go beat that yarn at its own game by knitting this "very easy" summer scarf properly.

Yeah! I'm going to beat that yarn's ass!

No. That makes no sense.

But, basically, that's the feeling I had churning inside of me when I sat down, yet again for the fourth time, with the pattern all right there in front of me and the yarn in my hands and NO COCKTAIL WHATSOEVER to cast on this scarf one final time.

I looked that yarn in the eye, and then realizing it had no eye, I sat it on top of the pattern so that I could deliver my warning equally, and basically told them both how it was going to be. Specifically, that we were going to knit this scarf whether we liked it or not and if any stitches went missing, I was going to hold them both personally responsible.

It is true that sometimes knitting makes me a crazy person.

HOWEVER, I'm about 3/4 of the way through this SO SUPER EASY FUCK YOU scarf and, you know what? I really like how it's coming out. Like, I can see myself wearing this thing. Which is nice, given all the stupid work I've put into bringing it into this world.

Of course, the moment I realized I liked it, I began thinking that it'd make a good gift, since it's all not jacked up and everything, so perhaps I stow it away and give it as a gift that will hopefully please the receiver of the gift while also making me seem, if only remotely, like a capable knitter.

That'd be something, wouldn't it? We'll see.

And, while I was hoping to post the scarf today in all its finished glory, I decided that I would rather focus all my attentions on The Venture Bros. last night after knitting for about an hour, so put down my needles and spent some time mimicking Werner Underbheit and The Monarch because that's what you do when you're a grown-up. You drink cocktails while lying prone on your couch and take turns with Bubba going, "Vy vould wittle old me cauz any trrrrouble?" while pretending to take off my metal jaw bone so my giant tongue could roll out.

Yes, that is what you do as a grown-up. Make a note of it.

So, while I can't present you with a finished scarf, I can present you with a nearly finished scarf and also a pinkie swear that I'll have it all finished up nice by 8/1, which is when we'll get new projects for the Craft: along and also when I hope to have the Tshirt Turned Swimsuit Cover-up finished as well as my first pickle chips canned and my first food processor white bread baked by way of my New Big Ass Cuisinart 14 Cup Food Processor.

Please note the even width of this scarf. That was done by magic, apparently.

Other things might happen by then, too, but I can't be putting myself out there too much. That could get dicey.

Also, and I don't want to get you too excited, but if you're anxiously awaiting hitting Zero Barrier on the Garden Tracker, well, you're about to be completed as a person.

Once I get home and can enter my handwritten weigh-ins on the tracker. Because LO I picked a random assortment of vegs last night and I'm pretty sure we're in the black now, which WOO! But I'll get into that in a separate post.

Eat my profits, beotch.

For now, I'll just focus on keeping my stitch count even and getting this scarf finished. Because, you know, there's nothing else you need more during 90 degree summer weather than a scarf.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The shortest best worst week.

I always take the week after a big race off completely from running.

I don't do my shorter speedwork-type runs during the week. I sleep in to the BIG WHOOPIE late hour of 7:30am on Saturday. I drink on Friday night without worrying about how I'll feel in the morning's early hours.

And I feel zero guilt.

I bask in the glory (and waning soreness) of having finished a big race and think nothing at all about having bacon with all three meals.

It is, in a word, the Best.

That was last week.

Unfortunately, last week was also my first week back at work after my sabbatical, so that made it the Worst week, in a way. Not that I hate my job at all, but it's just that I loved my sabbatical weeks so much that, by comparison, it was totally the red-headed stepchild week and I wanted to slap it or make it stand in the corner the whole time.

Also, because it was my Post-Race Break Week, it was also very short.

Especially when I got up on Saturday to go out for my first long-ish run since Seattle, after sleeping in a little longer than normal for a training day, and found myself trudging through a short-ish six mile trot under actual sunshine.

Ew.

See, usually, for training purposes, I get up early-ish on Saturday morning, so that I can get my miles in under cover of darkness or at least clouds. And by 8am, the clouds were disintegrating faster than I could make it around my tried and true six mile loop and, obviously, any shade of darkness had vanished into full blown Day.

And the whole time I was out there, semi-baking beneath the rapidly revealing sun ball, I kept thinking that my break week had seemed awfully short and how come the weeks never seem that short when I'm at the end of my training and staring down a 12 mile run.

But I think we know the reason to that, so I won't bore you with any more of my brain's idle minutia on that topic.

On another running related topic, however, I signed up to run San Jose in October.

Because I guess I can't go back to Life Without Running any day soon because I've changed my lifestyle (read: eating lifestyle) to accommodate Life With Running and that means I eat just whatever I want, really, and imagine that my 20+ miles a week will handle it.

Without that 20+ miles a week? Well, my bikini and I would have a falling out. Specifically my ass cheeks would be falling out. And other parts that become excessively jiggly without the requisite running of miles would follow suit.

And I think you know that if I don't have an event out there, just looming in the distance with PR implications and the potential for public self-shaming, I'm probably not going to do these long runs that get me to my 20+ miles/week and that is when things start falling out of bikinis.

I'll need all my parts IN my bikini soon, so no flaming out now. Must get back to it.

So, I did my six on Saturday and then a few miles of speedwork this morning with the dog, which wasn't so much speedwork as it was trying to run while simultaneously trying not to catch the whiff of the poo bag I got the pleasure of carrying throughout mile 3, and after another day of speedwork this week, I'll go out this Saturday and run seven. Likely at an earlier hour so that my precious dewy flesh doesn't scorch under the sun ball and so that the sidewalks and bike lanes will be devoid of double strollers and zombies carrying trays of Starbucks.

What's in that coffee, people, that you must cart it around in bulk?

Anyway.

I'll be back on the Supah Technical Training Schedule so that, come September, I'll do some 11 and 12 mile runs so that potentially maybe if I'm lucky I can go for a PR in San Jose come October.

Which will now be a little bit harder since I came to find out that my time in Seattle was actually a blistering 2:23:57, rather than the initially reported 2:24:00.

For the record, when I registered just now, I put my predicted finish as 2:20:00, which might be a bit of pipe dream, although not as much as my Super Secret Predicted Wish Finish time of 2:TEENS:.

If you feel like crossing your fingers for me from now until October, I'd be ever so grateful.

Monday, July 13, 2009

#1 Tomato Day

#1 Tomato weighed in at a healthy 16.2 ounces.

I don't even know what to say in this post because I feel like the photos make it pretty obvious that I lost my mind this weekend because The First Tomato arrived.

*pause for stunned disbelief*

I like that I always say that as though the stork brought it to my house in a diaper.

As though it were some sort of surprise because I hadn't been prodding any tomatoes on a daily basis and cooing to them to RIPEN UP ALREADY BITCHES or anything. Even though that's exactly what I've been doing.

But since I took a million pictures (most of which I will spare you - you're welcome) and screamed a hundred times with retarded excitement and then made my favorite Tomato Worshiping Recipe, I will walk you through my favorite holiday of the year: #1 Tomato Day, just as it happened. You can feel free to scream like a maniac at any point in the reading of this post, too, because, I know, this is more exciting than any other holiday.

It's OK. You're with Finny now and I understand.

See, Bubba and I were sitting out on our patio awaiting the delayed arrival of our friends who were coming to visit us from Kansas City via the most ridiculous string of connecting flights created by man.

And since it was taking them longer to get to our local airport than it would have if they'd, say, decided to get lunch in Greece, we had some time to kill and we chose to spend that time masterminding the ultimate summertime alfresco din-din.

You don't usually hear alfresco and din-din in the same sentence, do you? That's a shame and I'm proud to change that horrible trend right here, right now.

So, obviously, Job One was to figure out what type/cut/preparation of meat we would have. Chicken was out because one of our guests has a patented hatred for all things remotely chicken and also because chicken is just not all that mastermindy. You know what I mean.

Bubba decided steaks would be the meat du jour, and because I like to be contrary, I decided I wanted lamb chops. So, because we are the ultimate compromisers, we got both so that I could have my way. Always so fair in our house.

I'll spare you the drawn out details of our decision making process through to the point where we began discussing The Vegetable.

See, when masterminding an ultimate alfresco din-din, The Vegetable is not always the exciting portion. Ususally we just say "Big Salad!" and then I go toss all the farmshare and garden bits into a bowl with whatever lettuce and we call it a night.

But then it dawned on me - do you know what would be The Ultimate Alfresco Din-Din Vegetable?

DO YOU?

Tomatoes.

Garden fresh, hand picked right here, right now, still warm from the summer sun, Tomatoes. And then if they were made into my favorite tomato salad and left to mellow in their own juices for a while ohmygod the greatness and ultimateness would reach unconstrained proportions.

But the tomatoes...they're not ready. Or are they?

And this is when I headed over to the plants to palpate the hugish tomato which has been hanging on my plants since Day 1.

You remember? This guy whose bloom was so enormo and who has grown to be so enormo himself that I began to wonder if there'd been a mixup in the hospital because this was too big to be a Better Boy?

You remember.

Well, when I attempted to wrap my tiny lady hand around his impressive girth (WHOA PORN ALERT) to test him for doneness, he, uh, fell off. Right then and there.

Plunk. I'm done.

So, TEE DAH - we were having my favorite tomato dish for dinner. WOOOOO!

First, though, I spotted two other tomatoes hanging around under there and picked them, too. And then I took all these pictures because of their gorgeousnessocity.

My hands were at maximum capacity trying to hold all these together.

And then I picked some cucumbers, too, because they were, like, right there.

And after carefully weighing in the three tomatoes (which tipped the scales at over 2 lbs total) and cucumbers, I set to work on Finny's Tomato Salad, and then I shared it with four other people which went against every fiber of my being.

You tell me for sure, but doesn't it seem like this cucumber is smiling?

The one thing I did not share, however, was The Tonic, or so I call it, because I'm a dork.

See, when you make this salad, and toss it up and let it sit and mellow while coming in and stirring it from time to time, it generates this luscious pool of liquid in the bottom of the bowl.

A blend of fresh tomato juice, olive oil, cucumber juice, basil, garlic, salt and red and black pepper that is, how shall I say this, All Healing. And I say that with some authority because last summer when I was at death's door for no reason during the hot summer months, I made this salad, drank The Tonic and LO I healed.

So, anyway, I made this salad last night, and before serving it, I strained out a good bit of the liquid and had myself The Tonic. Which is different from my normal G&T for obvious reasons but is more healthful and doesn't make me fuck up my knitting if I drink too much.

Whatever.

The Tonic.


Anyway, I recommend this. Also, I think this is something people do in other cultures where they make a lot of ceviche and they call the resulting liquid "Whiskey", so I feel justified in pushing my particular bizarre beverage on you since other people in other lands do this and they don't think it's weird.

So, I present to you, #1 Tomato AND The Tonic. This is a big day.

Friday, July 10, 2009

And I thought that I'd learned something from that tank top.

When I posted our new Craft: along projects this month, with one of them being that lacy Summer Scarf, I *knew* I'd be at least making the scarf, if not the swimsuit cover-up too, because I have kind of felt like knitting since I finished Bubba's sweater and it wasn't a total steaming failure.

And, since this scarf was a "very easy" lace pattern, with only two repeats to keep track of, I though oh this will be a cinch and I will finish it tonight and won't I be so proud of myself.

Wrong.

See, I was under the false assumption that I'd learned something from that tank top I knitted. That lace one that came out *thisclose* to perfect ('cept for the too strangly straps and the too-shortness of the length BUT WHATEVER). I thought I'd learned how to keep my brain about me when I was knitting lace and not get all ginned up and off-pattern as I'm sometimes apt to do.

Well, I didn't learn from the lace tank top. And, apparently, I also didn't learn from the two pairs of lace knee socks either.

Because I have tried knitting this scarf THREE TIMES already and had to rip it back after finding my rows decreasing by 2 stitches after the first repeat.

WTF?

Where are these stitches going?

Why is this scarf arching me?

Anyway. I've decided that this pattern, for me, is a jerk. Because if I can't sit down and NOT DRINK MY G&T and then still not get this thing done properly in an evening, then it's getting put away until such time as my brain swells to the size of normal human girl proportions.

Until then, I do believe I will try my hand at crafting a swimsuit cover-up for the Singer contest (and this month's Craft: along project - don't forget!) because somehow I feel like I'm the boss of Tshirts more than I am of yarn at this point.

I will clarify that by saying that I will be converting yet another Tshirt into yet another piece of clothing that is not a Tshirt. I mean, obviously, since I just told you I was going to make a swimsuit cover-up.

You know what I mean.

Thankfully AIDS Walk is only about a week away, so I know I'll have some new Tshirts in the house to dispatch at will.

OH! And if you are of the generous nature and would like to sponsor me for AIDS Walk (this is the only thing I fundraise for, so don't worry I won't be back here every five seconds being, like, "Hey! Gimme money for whatever thing I'm doing right now!" because I won't. That shit bugs me, too.), feel free to hit the sidebar there to donate on my AIDS Walk page, or just click here and go on with your life. And, hey, also feel free to ignore this entire paragraph - I will still love you just as much.

And also, please don't take my experience with this scarf as any indication of how your own Summer Scarf will come out, because there are already photos in our pool of successfully started scarves that look super normal and lovely and that is because most people have the ability to knit a "very easy" lace scarf with only two repeats.

Yes, I just admitted to being incredibly inept. I think we all feel better with that out on the table. It's fine.

But, if you do attempt the scarf and you do have the same experience as I did, well, then we can hold hands and skip down the sidewalk together humming the theme song to Laverne and Shirley (Why L&S? Dunno.) knowing that at least we're not alone in our knitting inabilities. Sound good? I thought it would.

Ok, off I go to find a Tshirt that needs bossing around.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

They don't miss me.

I hadn't intended to immediately come back and report on whether the garden actually missed me, but given their obvious response, I feel I should provide an update.

Their response, when translated by me, Vegetable Whisperer to the Stars, boils down to, "We don't need your ass around here. Thankyouverymuch."

Oh.

I've been back at work going on three days now and this was apparently all the garden wanted in the whole wide world so that they could get things happening in a meaningful way because yesterday I found the #1 RIPENING TOMATO HOLY SHIT, silks (SILKS!) on the corn and buds all over my new kumquat tree.

You see me. I see you. Let's get on with our lives.

Dude. Your silk is showing.

DUDE! YOUR SILK IS SHOWING!

Stop talking, idiot! She sees us!

I don't have anything funny to say. I'm a kumquat, that's funny enough.

So, not only does the garden not miss me, I do believe my presence might have been keeping it from its regularly scheduled business of making food.

Or OR maybe the garden took my being home as an indication that it, too, should take a breather, and so spent the last two months sort of hanging back (except for the beans, who are apparently of the ALL WORK NO PLAY variety) finishing knitting projects and taking their dog to the beach.

But who can say? These vegetables can be so coy.

Anyway, that's all I came here to say. That I spotted the first (and there are actually a few) ripening tomato last night and then nearly stroked out in the garden as I tried to convey the magnitude of my discovery to Bubba.

And then we petted the corn. Ok, *I* petted the corn while Bubba stood there and mumbled something quietly to himself about poorly made life choices.

And then, while he was holding his head in his hands, I whispered some sweet nothings to my beloved new kumquat about how I would eat each and every fruit he produced and feel free to challenge me with a bumper crop oh tiny dwarf kumquat I love you and such.

Ok, that's all then. I promise I'll talk about something else next time besides the garden.