Author Archive

May 31, 2013

Dolphins and Discourse

I am an avid NPR listener. It’s great to feel somewhat on top of things, and Ira Flatow’s calming voice has worked me through a number of D.C. traffic-induced moments of rage and terror. I commute a half hour each morning and evening, and normally welcome the way that NPR helps rouse my brain from its comfortable pre-coffee state of zombie.

Its politics are mild enough, and when it gets too polarizing in one direction or the other, I can always change the channel or turn off the radio. It rarely happens. One day driving to work, it did. And since it happens with such infrequency, and the story was so ridiculous, it stuck with me.

A month or so later, a very dear friend was getting married, and a group of us gathered the day before her wedding for a delicious picnic brunch. We were making small talk, and I shared a story I’d heard on NPR about Navy-retired dolphins who were being rehabbed and recorded so that their war stories could be related to future generations, once we learn how to interpret Dolphin-speak. “I’m all for the government supporting rehabbed dolphins,” I concluded (and I am–spend a few years searching out underwater mines, and I’ll feed you fish for the rest of your life, too), “but I think it’s a bit ridiculous that they’re recording them.”

“But you didn’t tell the best part!” a couple of fellow NPR fans exclaimed.

“Oh? What’s better than rehabbed war veteran dolphins?”

“It was for April Fools!”

Yes. Apparently I was one of the few people who turned the station, and didn’t catch the tail end of the segment in which the “professional” they were interviewing said “We have no (bleep) idea what these dolphins are saying. They could just be shooting the (bleep) or singing or talking smack about seals. We have no idea.” You know, the part of the story in which it became clear that it was all tongue-in-cheek. I also didn’t catch the re-run the next day, in which they explained their prank.

So–I WAS fooled! It worked, and I was had! You should read the transcript, though, because it’s great, and would make an excellent piece of propaganda to incense your stodgy older relatives at the next family get-together, or entertain your friends on your next picnic brunch. Just remember that your punch line should be that it was a joke. And if you forget, blog about it afterwards, so everyone knows you’re not insane.

February 20, 2013

“The Best Thing I’ve Seen on Pinterest!”

I see that statement made about everything and anything, from hot cocoa cans turned into toddler rattles, to DIY facemasks and home hacks. The one time I’ve actually agreed with this praise, though, is on finding this image:

blo and go

“Now that,” I thought, “is definitely The Best Thing I’ve Seen on Pinterest.”

Unfortunately, as often happens when you find something awesome on an internet pinboard, it linked me to a page that was published in Russian, and which (when translated) held only descriptions of other accessories that the author thought would be great. No actual purchasing page.

I was not deterred, however. I scoured the internet for similar devices, finding things such as this, which seemed like they would take up a lot of counter space (which I don’t have) and would require a lot of storage room.

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Finally, I found the actual product page. It’s called a “Blo and Go” and it looks awesome. The major complaints about it, though, on reading the reviews, were that it a) could only be installed on a mirror, b) sometimes fell off that mirror, and c) the weight of the hair dryer sometimes caused the arm to droop out of position, requiring frequent adjustment. It received awesome reviews though, for its convenience. Also, my old hair dryer (which my mom got me at Walgreens when I was in 7th grade, and which had stood up to all my abuse over the years), had finally blown a circuit and died. ChoiLoi had surprised me with a new one for my birthday, and I figured this would be an awesome accessory.

I decided I didn’t want to invest in the actual Blo and Go. I’d had a bedside lamp with the drooping problem, and it was really obnoxious. Also, my bathroom mirror is a medicine cabinet, and the full-length mirror in our bedroom would be completely dominated by the instillation, rendering its upper third (the part where my face usually ends up) unusable. So. What to do?

I wanted something that I could install into the wall beside my mirror, that could easily hold the weight of my hairdryer, and that would be fairly compact when stored.

I first imagined repurposing an accordion-arm mirror for the job (I think I’d originally seen this concept on Pinterest, but of course I forgot to pin it), but the only one I could find under $70 was from IKEA, and had complaints about its flimsiness. So I took to Amazon, and researched everything from boom mic holders, to flexible plumbing piping, to lamps with those folding-elbow thingies.

Finally, I discovered the solution. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before:

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Who’d’ve thunk it?

It was on sale for $15, so I utilized our Prime shipping and waited impatiently for its arrival. It’s supposed to hold up to 33 lbs (so no drooping!), swivels 14″ from the wall (that’s not including the length of the hairdryer), and is designed to adjust vertically as well as laterally. Excellent!

It’s also perfectly designed to accommodate whatever DIY attachment method you can come up with. In the future, I think I’ll probably figure out a static, circular holder that would allow for the hairdryer to be removed easily (I’m imagining a couple of these suckers would do the job pretty well), but in my excitement I chose to MacGyver it rather than make a trip to the hardware store.

I used some wire to essentially twisty-tie it into place, which worked really well, and left all the buttons free.

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From the front.

 

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From the back.

Our walls are made out of some really intense cement sheet-rock, so I recruited ChoiLoi to help me install the thing next to our full-length mirror. I made sure that it was at such a height that I would easily fit under it, and that it would be shooting my hair from around 3-4″ distance when positioned normally. Of course, since it swivels all which ways, it’s able to be adjusted as needed.

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He did a great job!

This is what it looks like installed (I decided not to crop some of the background stuff, just so you had some perspective on how very unobtrusive it actually is). It can be folded up flat against the top corner of the mirror, which doesn’t block my view.

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Ta-da!

Now, the beauty of this thing is that it leaves your hands free. I recently read an article in which women justified spending $30/week to have their hair blown out, and I thought it was somewhat ridiculous. However, I do like pampering myself, and I’ve never been able to manage the use of a barrel brush while also wrangling my blowdryer, so this was the perfect solution. Here are some shots of it in action:

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I will eventually become a pro at this whole blow-out thing…

 

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Yep. Pretty cool.

As you can see, it lets me target my roots, and allows me me to pull the rest of my hair along the heat to seal the cuticle. There’s not a lot of shimmying around, which I would have expected, and I never felt that I had to crane my neck to accommodate it. If I really needed to, I could just reach up, position it for the section of hair was I targeting, and go! In all, it took me far less time to dry my hair than it normally would, and I noticed that the back especially came out much less frizzy because I could actually feel what I was doing.

I’m still going to have to work on my barrel-rolling technique, but there are some great tutorials out there, and I’m positive that I’ll be able to get it down now that I have two hands to work with instead of one. Yay for this!

Feel free to ask questions if you have them; I’m thinking the one thing about this is that it’s not as “cute” as the pictured one (ChoiLoi said that it kind of looks a bit industrial), but that could easily be overcome through some quick spray-painting in a more girly (or neutral) color. Maybe I’ll do that when I install the holder. I wonder if I could even use one of these things, somehow?

December 17, 2012

The best part of getting Omaha steaks in the mail…

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July 13, 2012

Rehoboth Beach

Favorite conversation from our weekend at the beach (which was lovely):

CHOILOI: Yes, I’d like a gyro [pronounced yeer-oh] and a large iced tea.

FOOD STAND MAN: Pauses, confused, then a look of enlightenment. Oh! You mean a JIE-ro. [“Jie” is pronounced like “pie.”]

CHOILOI: Yeah. But I’m pretty sure it’s pronounced yeer-oh.

FOOD STAND MAN: Looking at CHOILOI like he’s grown a third ear. I’ve never heard that.

GIRL IN LINE: To her friend. Yeer-oh? Weird. Must be an east coast thing.

June 19, 2012

Things to keep in mind (when you live in the real world)…

So, my car has a pretty easy life. We don’t really do much driving, but it’s mainly city-based and our “excursions” are 45-minute trecks into the hinterlands of VA/MD. We get the oil changed regularly, though, and Choiloi was nice enough to be in charge of the last round of maintenance.

I smelled something funny parking, the next time I took it out, but didn’t think anything of it. Later, we got in the car to run errands, and I noticed it again. Being the paranoid person I am, I insisted that we pull into work’s parking lot and check under the hood.

They had forgotten to put the oil cap on after they changed my oil!!!!!!!!

There was oil streaming down the inside of the hood of my car and burning on my engine block. We were able to clean it up, and luckily they had just set it inside, where it hadn’t fallen out.

UGH. Let this be a lesson: ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OIL CAP AFTER YOUR OIL CHANGE!

Also, remember the WD-40 in sticky locks trick. It’s a major life-saver.

June 7, 2012

When you need an extra dose of cuteness…

There are no words for this.

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

June 5, 2012

Glass coasters for air plants

So I’ve been obsessed with Pinterest lately. Wayyyyy too much time spent there, and there’s no way I’ll actually do all 275 pins that I have. But today I did something crafty, and decided it should go up so the world could enjoy.

“Why,” you might say, “what cute plants! And what gorgeous glass coasters they’re in!”

Well, the plants are awesome–I ordered them from The Air Plant Shop  (used coupon code KELLI for 20% off total, and spent $40 to get free shipping…$2/plant. I saw them at the nursery last week for $5.99 each) and they came in the mail today. SUPER cute, and packaged really neatly in smart little tissue paper envelopes.

So with 20 air plants I had to come up with some nifty holders. Some of them are long and pokey, and need to be stuck into something that will keep them upright. Others, like the ones above, are kind of short and fat, and will plop right into any old thing.

I’d cleaned out a bunch of jar candles a few months ago, and had the lids lying around. If you don’t hang on to things, you can also find them on CandleScience.com. They look like this:

null Just use a flathead screwdriver to pop off the plastic stopper/grommet things, and you have yourself an easily-cleaned, modern-style plant holder. I also have used a few for votive candle holders, and they look great in the candlelight.

Anyway–that was as productive as I got today. So boo!

May 9, 2012

Oh my goodness NSFW

So, I suppose that I knew that Sylvester Stallone had a mother. Butt (haha you’ll get it later) who would have known she had such…talents?

There are few things in life that have me cracking (HA) up so much that I cry. This is one of them.

*Imagines voiceover* Has your life been a bit crappy (OMG) lately? Have you been wondering when you’ll get out of a this hole? Well, maybe you need SYLVESTER STALLONE’S MOM TO TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR BUTT.

All your problems will be solved.

 

Oh. There are examples.

February 25, 2012

There are some …

There are some songs that immediately put me in a specific time and place. I was grocery shopping today and Nena’s “99 Luftballoons” followed some generic acoustic guitar.

Freshman/Sophomore year of high school, driving around in the VaJetta, sunroof open and windows down, shooting tapioca balls from our bubble tea out at pedestrians.

November 30, 2011

Left Behind: The Horrors That Forgotten Produce Produces

My refrigerator is a scary place.

Generally speaking, I’m a good cook. I’m diverse. I buy weird-looking things from grocery stores and make them delicious. We eat pasta only an average number of times a week. I’m good at taking the things I have and turning out a pretty good dinner.

But there are some things I can’t do. One of them is using fresh vegetables in a timely manner.

I love the concept. I do. And I have great success with things like onions, because they can sit in one place for a month and a half and not…rot.

Other veggies like lettuce, or tomatoes, or the zucchini that are slowly decomposing somewhere behind the jam and sriracha sauce, are doomed from the start.

I start out with the best of intentions. I’m sucked in like everyone else by the glistening piles of fresh produce that greet me when I walk in the store. I have visions of steamed, stir-fried, diced, sliced, casseroled, baked, grilled delicacies that will delight the senses.

I end up mucking compost out of our “crisper.”

I’m not sure what’s going on. It takes literally twenty seconds to slice a cucumber. I can turn a head of romaine lettuce into a salad in about a minute and a half. It’s not a time thing.

There are a lot of things out there to help me, supposedly. I’ve bought gadgets. I have an apple corer/slicer that kills. And it’s easy to wash! I’ve also got one for vegetables. I can use various kitchen tools to julienne, mince, and peel anything that starts out as a seed, root, or spore. Between Marchewka and I, we have basically anything ever invented to make cooking a convenience, and not a chore.

My mother-in-law is a beast in the kitchen. She can whip up a 4 course meal that involves 50 separate ingredients, without a recipe, in an hour. I’d take three, and probably read along most of the time. She’s undaunted, and despite my relatively-mad kitchen skills, Choiloi still gets a wistfull look on his face when he talks about his mom’s cooking.

My mom wasn’t geared that way. I can type 90 wpm, read Gibbons at 11, and in 7th grade couldn’t tell you who the Backstreet Boys were but would harmonize with you on Simon & Garfunkel. I don’t remember food being horrible growing up…and I know there were a lot of great desserts, but I also don’t have “family favorites” that I can name. This horrifies Choiloi. He interrogates me about what I enjoyed from my mother’s cooking, what I liked for her to make on a regular basis, and what my special “birthday meal” was; I draw blanks.

I know my mom wasn’t a bad cook. I really don’t have any memories of poisonings, or gross-outs. My brother used to fall out of his chair whenever we had brussel sprouts for dinner, but that was just his aversion to the color green. We just weren’t…food people.

When my grandmother was getting ready to sell her house, she had to remodel the kitchen because when she’d built it, she’d had them put in a microwave—no oven. The Atkins diet meant eating hotdogs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

My mom wasn’t a chronic nuker, but I also didn’t grow up learning things at her side. I’ve definitely grown into my affinity for cooking, and I really enjoy being the type of person who’s known as a good chef; it just wasn’t something that I absorbed at my mother’s apron-strings.

A couple weeks ago, I went to the Mecca that is Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and bought about $40 worth of products that reportedly extend the life of my vegetables. Green bags. D0-dads that I put in the drawers to absorb toxic fumes. Things that I see on late-night infomercials.

To date, I’ve got a bunch of cilantro that’s going on two weeks. There’s a tomato that’s lasted about a month. My zucchinis, while slowly turning into mush, could still be salvaged by a good session with the paring knife.

I doubt I’ll get to it though. They’ll probably just die. In their beautiful, green bags, that I will wash out and use to encase the next batch of doomed vegetables, because the package says they can be used up to ten times before they finally succumb to the natural process of decomposition.

I once left a bag of potatoes on the top of the refrigerator for three months. It’s the only time I’ve seen Choiloi throw up.

There isn’t a solution. It’s better having four cooks in the house now, because when I buy things they’ll eventually be used. Hopefully. And I’ve gotten better about planning meals that incorporate the plethora of healthy, anti-oxidant-loaded fare that I bring home from the grocery store.

Last night I made food for the small marsupial. It had some grapes. A couple withered apples. Spinach. Tuna. Cottage cheese from last month.

Until I find a way of having an in-apartment composter for a garden that doesn’t exist, it’s the best I can do.

 

 

Cherry Cheesecake

1 package of cream cheese.

1 cup heavy whipping cream cream.

¾ cup powdered sugar.

1 tbsp lemon juice.

2 tsp vanilla.

1 can cherry pie filling.

1 graham cracker crust.

Whip whipped cream, vanilla, and sugar. Blend in cream cheese and lemon juice. Pour into pie tin. Glop in the cherry pie filling. Refrigerate till firm.

Pair with a cup of Mystic Monk coffee.

mmmmm.