Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The short list

Wrote a note ot myself yesterday to 'post,' and writ up this list of things to write about:

Shoestring budgets
Chewing off teeth
Grumpy cat
Bad taxidermy

So, that's what you get.


Those of you who are better or luckier with money than I am will laugh and laugh when I mention that I'm in a bit of a panic right now, as the following things are waiting in line for my money: a new front-end suspension for my van, new brake rotors for the van, a new teevee (the BAT now only displays things in neon colors) for the living room, and (eventually) a new teevee for the boys' room.  Panicl only because I don't use credit anymore and have to budget for this stuff and I just put in a new alternator in the van so that savings got a little depleted and I'm below my personal savings account comfort level.  I can't only assume the rest of you are the same about your money?

That last one, the teevee for the boys' room (seems like a luxury, but if they didn't have it then the LR unit would be hooked up to their Xbox and the sounds of slaughter and mayhem would be all that much more audible), will only be purchased if my planned long and loud and escalating argument with the company who sold us the teevee less than a year ago or the warranty company who is supposed to cover issues or the manufacturer or said piece of crap won't make good on the fact that their piece of crap didn't last a YEAR before starting to sh*t the bed and I did NOT pay $250 for a worthless piece of crap to clutter up the kids' room.  I paid for a video game-compatable television that displays the image clearly and, if it doesn't, can be fixed in a timely manner with help from the people from whom we bought a frekking 3-year warranty last December.  Not too much to ask, is it?  Am I being unresonable here?

I am very mad at this situation.  It will not be a good thing for whomever gets to read the letters I'm going to send.  After being told that the people at the warranty place 'can't find' my account, not being called back by 2 people who said they would, being run around by numerous folks who are clearly trying to avoid having to dish out another teevee and save their company a measly couple hundred bucks, I'm sick of being patient and am instead working up a good head of steam on this whole matter and pretty soon will have enough spit and vinegar bubbling up to write an extraordinarily arch note to the powers that be at whatever company I can find that might have some association with this mess, demanding satisfaction YESTERDAY.

Quite honestly, I do not have thousands and thousands in the bank waiting to be spent (the bulk of my savings go straight to the IRA).  Most of my paycheck is spoken for, as I'm still digging my way out from a buttload of debt.  I don't really HAVE an extra $250 to shell out on a new television, especially when I shouldn't have to.  I'd rather put that money toward a few Christmas presents, or whatever else is going to need to be fixed on that car, or the kids' college fund.  Someone, at some electronics company somewhere, is going to make me happy in this matter...and that is that.


Those other three things in the short list of stuff to write about?  Will have to wait for another time.  I'm stoked to the gills with righteous indignation and am off to craft a letter or 6 to the powers that be in an effort to get some satisfaction on this most irksome of issues.

'Til later, Tiff out.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Creamed spinach for breakfast

Every day we face a big question at the Tiny House, one that I'm sure that you, dear reader(s?) face on occasion:  'What's for dinner'?

I don't think it's a secret that Biff and I like to cook, so the big question determines how we spend a fair chunk of our evening.  In general, I don't mind time in the kitchen, as cooking often results in the house smelling great and of course you get something to eat when everything is done.  It's the clean up I don't much care for, but that's why kids were invented, right?

Last night's 'what to eat' was a sirloin tip roast, roasted potatoes and onions, and creamed spinach.  All done from scratch, and the meal worked so well together that I thought I'd share a couple of recipes.

First, the roast.  I'd never done a sirloin tip roast before, so had to do a little homework.  What resulted was a method that combined a few different takes on how to prepare that roast, and it really turned out.  I had a 3.5-pound roast that was about 2 inches thick.  I seasoned the roast with a combination of salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and chili powder, then seared both sides for 3 minutes in hot oil.  The roast then was sealed in an aluminum foil packet (also homemade!) and baked for 2.5 hours at 275F.  We let it sit for 20 minutes before opening up and carving.  There was a fabulous au jus in the foil that really worked well with the meat (as one would expect).  Pretty simple, really.

The potatoes/onion thing is super simple.  Dice an onion, one washed and unpeeled russet potato and one peeled sweet potato, season with salt and pepper and toss with a generous splash of olive oil.  Roast at 400F (I used the toaster oven) for 40 minutes, turning once.

The spinach was a fun twist on a more work-intensive recipe used by a famous food blogger (The Pioneer Woman)  that, while perhaps not as flavorful as hers (no onion and garlic), worked for this meal because I wanted something creamy, green, and mild to serve as a counterpoint to the bold flavors of the meat and potatoes.  In a medium pot, I melted 2 Tbsp butter, then added 2 c frozen spinach, covered, and let the spinach thaw, turning occasionally.    A little S&P at this stage doesn't hurt, as well as a tsp of white vinegar.  Then I added a slurry of 1 Tbsp flour and 1 C milk, let that come to temperature, then added (secret ingredient!) 1 ounce of light cream cheese.  Let the cheese melt over a fairly boisterous bubble, cook for 5 mins, stirring often, and it's ready to serve.  The thing I like about this is that no roux was needed, no chopping either, and the cream cheese gives the dish a lovely mouthfeel without being too heavy.

I KNOW, recipe posts are boring, but y'all should give these simple dishes a shot.  Home cooking rules!

Hey, you should thank me for the recipes.  I WAS going to post about my church experience yesterday, which was great, and interesting, and all contrasty and stuff.  But then I figured 'hey, everyone eats' so I went for the popular vote today.  :)

Tiff out.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Sad dogs and big people

Or, perhaps, the other way around.

Sad people, for all those electoral reasons.  Hey, it would be awesome if we could all be happy, but that's called Utopia and even there you'd have the Oligarchy ruling over you telling you how to be happy, so what's the selling point there?  At least HERE you can vote your conscience, bitch about the outcome if it doesn't suit you, and can go out and purchase a case of Miller High Life tall boys without some demi-god in a bad hairdo and obseqious manner come sniveling up to your pen to tell you it's time to eat the manna and bed down like a happy little cloud, please forget about the beer.  Utopia, it's like that.

Look 'er up.

Eh - Perhaps, I get a little mouthy from time to time.  I blame the bland mundanity of my work surroundings, esp. when I am at work, for the RATM-istic ichor.  Cubicles, mine in particular, are frelling BORING, and even with my plush brain cell and E. coli toys things just aren't very very interesting and awesome. We need some RC sharks at work, or at the very least some almost-dangerous poison dart guns to aimlessly (in the most literal sense) fire off at one another to liven up the 2:30 slump time.  This would be much more like the workplace of the future I was promised in 1969, random dangerous interludes and all.  PLUS FLYING CARS!

Also, don't go wandering around in parts of YouTube you're not given permission to.  Word to the wise. Scary stuff in just a few tangential mouse clicks.  Yeeesh.

I hope you're all well.  I know I am.  I won't tell you HOW I know that.  Wonder away, y'all!

Tiff out.

Friday, November 02, 2012

First frost, and other stuff

I did not know this.  Now, I do.
When the kids are with me and school is in session, we all pile into the car on school days at around 6:50 (to 7:05) and hie unto the school to get them there before the first bell rings at 7:15.

Seven freaking fifteen.

At this time of  year 7:15 seems very early indeed, as it's still DARK AS MESS outside and because 'dark' in the morning means 'you really should still be in bed,' it's a struggle to get up and out.

Today was more of a struggle to get out ('up' took care of itself because I was asleep by like 9:30 last night - 9 hours later I was capable of waking up!) because what I thought was a heavy dew on the windshield was solid.   As in frost.  As in 'where the heck is the ice scraper,' which in this case was a school ID and worked just fine, but still...frost.  And all the cats were out last night.

BTW - All the cats are now in.  They're not stupid.


We had a Halloween party the other night.  On Halloween, to be exact.  The party was mostly populated by teenagers, who are very boisterous people when you get right down to it.  Therefore, the bounce house was a very good idea.  As was the photo scavenger hunt, which got them out on teh street to be boisterous in someone else's space for 45 minutes.  Brills!

During the initial phases of the clean up, I was ultra-ruthless and just chucked stuff into the trash that I might have ordinarily saved (only to throw out 5 days later).  Last night, Biff comes up to me and asks if we have any more spinach dip left because, as he says, he wanted to 'bite it.'

I had to say no.

The whole thing of spinach dip, along with the cute lil spider bread bowl I made went straight into the trash as soon as the last guest left the building.

But we still have lots of candy.  Turns out that I'm not stupid either.

(Yes, I am, it must be said.  The candy is all packed in cute Halloween goodies bags and was supposed to have been given out to the boisterous ones.  D'oh!)


More on stupidity - The Things and I went out a couple of weeks ago and bought some pumpkins, which we failed to carve.  Now we have 4 giant pumpkins sitting outside, doing nothing.  I can still carve them, right?  Maybe make one look like a turkey, carve some nice maple leaves into another, some cranberry sauce into a third, and round out the group with a 3-D representation of a Pilgrim or something?  Do they sell templates for those things, or do I have to start with a witch on a broom and go from there?

Those pumpkins shall NOT go to waste.  I paid too much dang money for that to happen.


Tuns out, I don't like it when people talk over each other.  Not on the radio, not in conversation, not in debates, not in meetings. 

I'm not talking about brief overlaps or verbal assentions when someone is making a good point, I'm talking about entire SENTENCES overlapping and voices being raised and neither (or any) of the co-talkers will give up talking so that people can have a chance to understand what's going on.  It's rude, it's bully-ish, it's self-centered to the max.

 Because, really, how hard is it to wait your turn LIKE YOU WERE TAUGHT IN KINDERGARTEN?


November.  NaNoWriMo AND 30 days of thankfulness.  How about 'no.'  Instead I pledge to write here twice a week and go visit all my old blogging buddies who I haven't read in a while.  Pretty sure awesome things have been happening that I don't know about and that you don't (shock!) post on FaceSpace.

Look for me on an internet near you, soon.

Tiff out.