Saturday, December 26, 2009
I know what you’re thinking. You can buy them anywhere now. Neatly prepackaged, ready to go, no muss, no fuss. But they aren’t as good as home made. And I think that the packaged ones have an odd taste. So I made my way to the grocery store this morning in the hunt for all the fixins.
For those of you who know me, you know that I can’t follow a recipe to save my soul. I view them as general guidelines. Besides, how the hell would Betty Crocker know how I like my cakes? This has ended in many disappointing baking failures, and a few pleasant surprises. So, I varied a little, but not too much. I couldn’t decide between Cocoa Rice Crispies and regular. So I grabbed a box of both. Off to the marshmallow aisle. Yes - I choose to believe that there is an entire aisle dedicated to them. Being just after Christmas, the pickings were slim. I found a couple left over bags that somehow managed to escaped a yam filled doom. But... there were a couple bags of French Vanilla Marshmallows. Ohh-la-la! How decadent! Okay - the truth is they taste like a regular friggin’ marshmallow. But it was fun to imagine. Plus, they were in the shape of little snowmen. I couldn’t care less, but it meant they were part of the “We Gotta Get Rid of All This Christmas Crap Sale” so they were half off. Sold.
I got everything home, and after putting all the other groceries away, and watching the “Inside the Tardis” special (yes, I love the new Dr. Who), I decided to tackle the Rice Crispies Treats.
Since I couldn’t decide between the cocoa and regular and bought both, I bought double the marshmallows needed too. You know. Just in case there might be a marshmallow emergency in the near future (it could happen). Well, I thought that I would just save some time and double the batch. That would be easier. (Let’s call this mistake number one.)
As the butter was melting, and I dumped in two bags of vanilla snowmen (I made little screaming noises as I callously dumped them into the sizzling butter). Then I went to grab the biggest bowl I could find. Then I grabbed another, slightly smaller bowl to measure out the cereal. Six cups. Nope. Double it. Okay. Twelve cups of Rice Crispies. good thing I bought the two boxes. Was that eight cups I measured out or ten? I think it was eight. (Mistake number two.) Wow. this bowl won’t quite hold 12 cups. (Let’s say it might be 14 cups - but what does it matter?)
Now, I hadn’t totally forgotten the marshmallows - they were melting down nicely. But soon the little buggars were making more noise than they should. So I started stiring them vigorously. You know, this might be really good if I add just a touch of orange flavoring. Vanilla, lemon, maple. No orange. Oh well. Note for next time. Crap. I’ve burnt them on the bottom (number 3). No problem. I think I can salvage most of it. And the cocoa flavor might cover any of the charred bits.
I quickly grabbed another stock pot and tried to dump it from the burning pot into the new one. That sounds so simple. Has anyone ever measured the flow rate of melted marshmallows? I’m guessing not. By the time it happened, they surely would have gotten bored and thrown it all in the sink and gone back to watch more Dr. Who. I concluded that it doesn’t have one. As it “poured” it began to cool. To the point that it just stopped moving completely. I could have set the pot down and had an incredible piece of objet d’art with a spoon of marshmallow trailed about 9 inches above the pot suspended there in fluffy confection. It would be all the rage in New York art world. I finally got most of it scrapped into the new pot - with the exception of the quickly browning bottom bits.
Okay - as the new pan heated a little bit, I look at the box and see that it says a 9x12 cake pan. Got it. Next to the heaping bowl of cereal, I realize that there’s no way it’s going to all fit in this pan. Oh yeah. I doubled it. Fortunately I have a larger cake dish. I think it’s 10 feet by 6 feet. Okay. Not really. But it’s bigger, thank god. Swap those out quickly. Back to the marshmallow goo. After a quick spritz of Butter Flavored Pam, it’s time to dump in the cereal. I thought about mixing a little in at a time. But something in my head says that's not a good idea. So I dump it all in. All ten cups. Yes, ten cups. No, not the 12/14 cups I measured out. The last three or four cups are not going to fit into the pan. Crap. So I’m trying to stir this stuff together on the stove with the heat off, but still on the burner - thinking the residual heat would keep it pliable. What a mess. There’s cereal everywhere. And three dogs circling my feet. I need to divide this up. So back at the counter I (while still mixing) spoon some of it back into the giant bowl with the extra cereal that didn’t make it into the pan. Great! Well, then I realize it’s starting to stiffen up REALLY quickly. There’s no way I can mix both of these at the same time before it cools AND get them into the giant cake pan. Bill walks through the kitchen and suggests that using a metal spoon might not have been a good idea (number 4), and that I should use the “spoonula.” Thank you Rachel Ray. Get out.
Well the pot was stirred enough, so I dump it into the cake pan. Remember the flow rate of marshmallow goo? Well it’s even slower when it’s cooling with Rice Crispies. “Thump.” I begin to smooth it out with the spoonula while stiring the giant bowl of leftovers. Damn. This is a lot of cereal. Finally, the bowl is mixed good enough. It’s starting to look like a giant Rice Crispie cheese ball - the outer coating looks pretty dry. Who cares. I start beating it into submission with my faithful spoonula (I may carry this with me at all times from now on).
Finally. It’s all in the pan. Somewhat smoothed out. Okay, so it looks like the craggy surface of some alien planet. But who cares. I’ve finally got my Rice Crispies Treats - and now I don’t even know if I want them anymore. It’s amazing how many find childhood memories can turn out to be huge pains in the ass as an adult. I'm not sure how my parents survived my childhood. Snap, Crackle, Pop indeed.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
I'm not one for New Year's Resolutions. In fact, there has been only one that I have ever stuck to. "I will never again make a New Year's Resolution." You've heard the expression, "avoid disappointment, aim low." That seems to have been my mantra lately. But I am starting to feel like it's time to do some thing.
I don't know what that "something" will be yet. Will the Costa Rica vacation finally happen? Will I finally sign up for lessons and learn how to play the guitar? Will I go back to school and complete my degree? Will I finally loose 40 pounds? I don't know yet. But those are all things rattling around in my brain. Who knows. Maybe all of the above. Maybe none. But one thing's for sure... I won't be making a list of promises come New Year's eve.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
For Thanksgiving, we had a few friends over. And as cliche as it sounds, that's really the thing I love the most. I always rush around in near-panic about company coming over to our home. And in the end, it's my most favorite thing in the world. We don't host a lot of parties or get-togethers. But I can say that what makes me really happy is seeing a group of my friends all together having a good time. Several years ago, we had a group of friends fly in to spend the holiday with us. It was crowded, and loud. We didn't have a dining room table so we threw a few sheets over the ping-pong table and sat down for Thanksgiving dinner. I think that was one of my most favorite days ever.
Now it's time to concentrate on Christmas. Christmas isn't as fun to me as Thanksgiving. It's harder to pull friends together because there is so much going on. It's a little more stressful because I feel like I'm putting up the tree for just the two of us - which I know, should be enough, but I feel like I want to share it with more people. We don't do a lot of gifts. There are too many nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters. So we tend to just concentrate on the youngest ones in the family. Besides, we're at that point in life where there just aren't a lot of things we need that we don't have. And seriously, when friends ask what I want for Christmas, and I say "just a lunch or dinner date" or "cocktail hour" I really mean that.
I haven't even begun to think about shopping. I'm going to try to not put it off until the last minute like I usually do. Actually, it's usually at the last minute that I think, "oh crap. I should have gotten some thing for that person." So, I guess I need to set some goals. First off will be to get my Christmas cards out. Maybe that will be this weekend's project. Still need to get the tree up (I slapped the lit wreath up on the door this evening). Then probably need to get the lights up on the house before the neighbors start giving us a hard time (all in good natured fun). Then find time to relax and enjoy it all.
Wish me luck.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 08, 2009
I finally got to go kayaking with my friend Patti. It was our third attempt. The first time we tried to go, I ended up with a flat tire. The second time we actually got onto the water, but thunder and lightning in the area drove us out. Finally we made it out last weekend. It was the first time we went out together (maybe the first time for Patti-?). We had a really great time. We have another date planned for this month. And I may go out tomorrow too. I haven't decided yet. Lots of things to do around the house (as usual).
I took the kids for a walk this morning - last night's rain left the dog park really wet I'm sure. Not in the mood to deal with muddy dogs this morning. But we had a good walk.
I'm off to run some errands. Maybe go to The Spice & Tea Exchange. I need to pick up some Florida Sunshine for a friend of mine in WA.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Now, Jackson is about the most docile dog on the planet. He doesn't have an aggressive bone in his body (unless you happen to be a 'possum, raccoon or cat). Several months ago there was a Standard Poodle that wouldn't leave him alone. I finally gave up because the owners were pretty useless and couldn't control their dog, so I decided to leave. While trying to get Jackson to leash him, he turned on the Poodle and I think he turned into a bear. So I was happy to see him stick up for himself.
So this morning he had an admirer in one of the Australian Cattle Dogs. Why this visit and not any of the other times we've seen them is a mystery to me. So I think it must be his hair. He has gay hair. He's the Chandler Bing of the Fort De Soto Paw Playground.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
If you're interested in seeing more photos, you can visit my flickr set.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
- Always, always, always clean up after your dog. You brought it in, you are responsible for it. And I don’t want to step in it. It can also spread disease. Be responsible.
- Don’t be afraid to ask someone for a bag if you don’t have one.
- CLOSE THE GATE BEHIND YOU! There is a reason for the gate. It’s not for your sake, it’s to keep the other dogs in.
- If you’ve never used a gate fork latch, the way to use it is pull UP then DOWN to the right. It’s not rocket science. You’re just lazy.
- Watch your dog. Do not sit and read a book. Do not get tied up on a phone call.
- Learn to read your dog and others in the park. Are tails wagging? Or are hackles up?
- Do not let your dog run with others when on a retractable leash. These leashes are dangerous. Especially when they are playing with other dogs.
- Friendly dogs hurt too. Sometimes dogs can play rough. Even though they may not be aggressive, they can still hurt other dogs or people.
- Just because your small dog is comfortable around big dogs does not mean it’s safe. See bullet above.
- Just because your child is comfortable around big dogs does not mean it’s safe. See second bullet above.
- Good dog owners go in the morning. Okay - so I’m not saying that if you go in the afternoon that your a bad owner. I’m saying that the regulars who make the effort to get up early and go tend to pay more attention. The afternoon crowd are usually just on their way to the beach or park and decide to take their dog. They are there for a different reason.
- Talk to the other dog owners. Most people LOVE to talk about their dogs. It will help put them at ease about your dog if they feel you are a good dog owner.
- Don’t forget to ask about their dog. A simple, “what’s his name,” or “how old is she” goes a long way. Other people’s dogs are just as important to them as yours are to you. Keep this in mind when you are talking to other dog owners.
- In addition to cleaning up after your dog, clean up after yourself. Do not leave your water bottles, worn out dog toys, food wrappers or trash in the park. Save your trash so you can litter in your own front yard.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
Sunday, April 05, 2009
For almost a year now, I've had serious camera envy. I took a lot of pictures on my trip with friends to the Dominican Republic. Since I have a history of being really bad about documenting my vacations, I made a huge effort to do so on this trip. At the end of each day, back in my hotel room, I took the time to keep a very detailed diary of everything I did that day. I also took many, many pictures. The pictures were okay, that is to say, I think I captured the images I wanted, but I really began to wish I had a better camera.
I take a lot of pictures of my three whippets. For those of you who haven't met them, or aren't familiar with the breed, they are fast. Whippets can run up to 35 miles per hour. That's way too fast for my little point & shoot camera. While I love my little Fuji, and it's done pretty well, I just can't get good pics of the dogs.
A few months back, I met another whippet owner who was at the park taking scenic shots. While we chatted, he took some random shots of my kids as they were running around the park. The quality of his pictures far outweighed every picture I have ever taken of them. I was very envious.
So, after talking with many friends who are photo hobbyists and professionals, I started narrowing down my selection. Unfortunately, I started knowing nothing, and now know just a little more than I did then, but enough to realize that this was going to be a bigger investment than I initially thought. But after agonizing over it for a while, today I took the plunge. I've made my purchase. Now I wait for it to arrive - and the hard (but fun) part begins. Hopefully, I'll be able to improve my collection of photos to share.
Moving here from the Oregon, gardening took on a whole new meaning. Everything grows differently in Florida. It took a few years to really notice the seasons, as most people complain about, but once you’ve lived here, you definitely see them. Things do slow down in the winter months, and we have many things that pop up in the spring.
Our typical weekend usually starts with the coffee crawl. I call it this because we usually start out with a cup of coffee in one hand as we wander the yard, but usually end up on my hands and knees pulling weeds or digging something up… thus, “the coffee crawl.”
As I mentioned, I like the surprises the most. It can be amazing sometimes to see the changes that happen during the week while we are away at work. Yesterday I happened to notice a bloom that wasn’t there last weekend. I hadn’t even noticed the bloom spike. We have had this Vanda for maybe 4-5 years now, and it’s never bloomed. I know it hasn’t gotten the care that it would like, and it’s not a particularly attractive shape. But when it was given to us, I thought it was supposed to be one of the (fairly) common blue-ish purple blooms. Well, it’s not, but I still really like it. I’m not sure what it’s called, but it’s attractive in it’s own way. Not a real showy bloom, and the spike is a little contorted, but I love the petals and the way they look like they’re trying to take flight.
As spring moves to summer, I’m looking forward to many more surprises.
Saturday, April 04, 2009
Hopefully, next time, with newly wrapped racquet handles and appropriate shoes, I'll feel much better afterward.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
This past weekend we had a play date at the Ft. De Soto Paw Playground. I brought my three whippets, Savannah, Jackson and Raleigh, and we met up with Terri who brought Trevor, Caper and three of Savannah's puppies (Raleigh's sisters), Margeaux, Heaven and Brecken.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Sunday, March 01, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I’ve had many friends come and go over the years. Circumstances and geography have separated some of us. Some were only meant to be for short periods of time. Some seem to skip in and out like stones on a pond – quickly touching as they go by. And others have stuck around for long periods of time.
I have some of the many social sites to thank for some of this; Friendster, MySpace, FaceBook, Blogger, Twitter, and even some of the more obscure sites like Gather, MyFolia, LibraryThing. And I think the photo-sharing sites like Webshots, Flickr and Picasa count too. Let’s not even start with the music sites.
So far this year, I’ve reconnected with eight friends – some I haven’t seen in almost a year, others whom I haven’t seen in over 25 years. Now I’m beginning to wonder who’s going to pop up next.
Monday, February 09, 2009
Don't let St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker annex Tierra Verde
Paul P. Murray, guest columnist
Published Friday, February 6, 2009
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker's opinion piece (Annexation explanation, Jan. 15) ignores reality for the residents of Tierra Verde. We should not be surprised that politicians see the world differently than we do. Confronted with a politician's spin, who are we to attempt to respond? Anyway, this is how we see it.
For several decades, folks have been moving to Tierra Verde to enjoy life in a more laid-back island atmosphere. Almost the entire island was developed for residential use, and the few commercial properties served the needs of residents and visitors. Because the vast majority of residents like Tierra Verde the way it is, in 2007 they voted in support of Pinellas County adopting a Comprehensive Overlay Plan to maintain the current sense of place and quality of life that, among other things, limits the density and intensity of development.
Unfortunately, at the peak of the real estate market, two developers bought commercial properties at the gateway to Tierra Verde. They decided they needed to intensely redevelop these properties in order to maximize their profits. But intense development is not part of Tierra Verde's past or present and is not consistent with the Tierra Verde community's vision for the island's future or the state-approved Community Overlay Plan. The developers were unable to get the county to allow them to build what they wanted, so they turned to the city, which has more liberal rules and, of course, was eager to attain a foothold on the island.
Historically, the purpose of annexation was to allow a municipality to extend services like water, sewer treatment, or police and fire protection to an unincorporated area that did not have such services in return for an increased tax base. That is not the case in Tierra Verde, for we have all of these services, and the residents have demonstrated their satisfaction with being part of unincorporated Pinellas County at the ballot box.
Mayor Baker said that the city is not annexing, is not attempting to annex and, during his term has never planned to annex the homes of the residents of Tierra Verde. How does he explain the land-use section of St. Petersburg's Comprehensive Plan that states the city's goal is annexation of all of Tierra Verde for its tax base? The city filed three times last year for the annexation of our island, and the final application filing excised the docks from the Tierra Verde Resort and left them in unincorporated Tierra Verde. Why? Could it be that the people who live aboard their boats would force a vote of the residents for approval?
Mayor Baker doesn't have the right to spread his tax burden to us in Tierra Verde. We might have a lower millage rate, but that is more than offset by our highly appraised values.
In this budget-challenged environment in which we find ourselves, we hope the residents of St. Petersburg will track closely the hundreds of thousands of dollars the mayor plans to spend on litigating his annexation dream.
Paul P. Murray is president of the Tierra Verde Community Association.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
At first, I was scared. I opened the box and couldn't find the stack of set-up manuals, user guides and extraneous software that usually comes with a new PC. I thought for sure something was missing when all I could find was this tiny booklet of information. But that seems typical of the other Apple products I've purchased. But as soon as I powered it up, I was in awe. So bright and clean as the keyboard literally shines up at me. It's like I hear the angels sing every time I open the lid. Again, I had some anxiety at first because I couldn't find all the stuff I had to install and set up and the plethora of Welcome screens that you have to fight your way through. Everything was pre-installed, with the exception of email. I had a little trouble setting that up, which seems to be typical with my ISP. But finally I tried something that I thought for SURE wouldn't work because it was just too easy, and voila. I'm in. It took a couple days for that nervousness to fade away and accept the zen-like tranquility of this new technology.
Since then I've added a few new programs on my own, and I have to say the ease of the drag-and-drop installations nearly makes me teary-eyed. It's never been this easy before. I've so quickly adapted that there have been a few times that I have become frustrated at work because it feels so cumbersome.
The only really scary part of this experience has been the cost. Apple's not cheap by any means. But my hope and expectation is that it's worth it and will be for a long time. I think the only thing I'm unhappy with is that I chose to purchase a corded mouse instead of spending the extra for the bluetooth mouse. The cord is a little short, but I just find myself using the pad more often. Not such a bad thing.
I will admit that there is a certain social stigma that comes with Apple. But I don't care. I'm hooked. I'm so in awe that I have to keep my enthusiasm in check - I've been been accused a few times of trying to convert my friends and co-workers to the cult of Mac. But I don't care. I'm a happy convert.