Monday, March 31, 2008

Mashed potatoes and more

There are many mysteries of the universe, and one has to be how Husband and I ended up with 3 mashed potato mashers. And, not just that. Somehow we have 2 copies of Top Gun on DVD, 4 laundry baskets, 5 telephones, 7 trash cans, and 8 pot holders.

It all sounds like “The Twelve Days of Christmas” gone wrong. Forget 11 pipers piping, we have 11 sheet sets and possibly more.

This is the first time that we’ve truly combined households. Most of our stuff was in storage before, and this was the first move where we had to decide what to do with everything. I wondered, for example, if it would ever be humanly possible to cook enough at one time that would warrant the use of all 8 pot holders.

We had a number of discussions about what to do with the extra items. For me, the answer was easy. Let’s give them to Goodwill.

Extra silverware (the Wal-Mart version, that is)? Give it to Goodwill! The extra egg whisker? Goodwill! Those pesky spiders in the house? Goodwill! (Of course, we’re not giving them spiders. I just got on a roll there.)

Husband, on the other hand, carefully considered every possible contingency, no matter how remote, where we might actually need the extra items. Like the mashed potato mashers. I thought it was a no-brainer to give the extra two away. I mean, we love mashed potatoes just as much as anyone else, but having more than one seemed a little excessive.

“But, what if we’re making mashed potatoes, and we want to make guacamole at the same time? We could use the extra masher for the avocados without having to wash the other one.”

Husband must have very persuasive qualities. Never in my life have I heard of any meal that calls for a guacamole/mashed potatoes combo, but somehow I fell for his argument. And now we have 2 mashed potato mashers.

Forget mashed potatoes and gravy. Anyone up for some mashed potatoes and guacamole? Rest assured that our culinary tools (and back-up tools) are ready, if you are.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Hide your breakables

I always joke that I’m a klutz, but the events of the last few days leave little doubt. Most of the events involve my klutziness trying to sabotage our new house, despite all of my best efforts to keep the house in pristine condition. Event #1: We hadn’t even been here a full 24 hours before I filled up an entire drinking glass, and then, two minutes later, spilled all of its contents on our brand new carpeting. Thankfully, the glass was full of water, so there were no stains. Evidence: None. Phew. Event#2: A couple days ago, I reached for the container of salt in our kitchen cabinet, and I accidentally knocked a small glass jar out of the cabinet. It fell with a bang onto our new kitchen counter, making a small dent in the counter. Husband tried to reassure me that it was no big deal, but I kept staring at the counter, in disbelief of the new gouge and my old klutziness. Evidence: (Sigh) A small gouge in our otherwise perfect countertop. Event #3: We had a stack of items that we wanted to throw away, with the large broken mirror on top. I attempted to maneuver around the pile o’ junk, but instead I ran right into it. My shin bore the brunt of the force. Evidence: A pink and purple bruise on my shin. Event #4: I am almost embarrassed to recount this event. If it hadn’t really happened to me, I wouldn’t even believe that something like this is even possible. Ok, so I woke up last night for one of my nightly bathroom trips. (Keep in mind that we’ve been in this house nearly two full weeks, and I’ve made many bathroom trips without incident.) I stumbled in a sleepy state to the bathroom, and I walk into where I think the doorway of the bathroom is. Except that I completely misjudged, only to discover my error as I run right into the wall! In the process, I stubbed my toe and hit my head. Evidence: A very small (but thankfully not-too-noticeable) bruise near my left eyebrow. The wall remained unharmed, though. So, for all of these reasons, I understand if you’ll want to hide your breakables when I come to visit. In fact, it might be for the best – for both your breakables and for my bruised body.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Another reason why I usually do the grocery shopping

Last week on our trip to base, I went to the library to check my e-mail (to fend off internet withdrawal), while Husband went straight to the commissary to start on grocery shopping. I spent maybe only 15 minutes at the library, but it was enough to give Husband a head start on grocery shopping. I found him in the commissary, and I stared speechless at his cart. And I instantly remembered why I elected myself as chief grocery shopping representative in our house. These were the questions that went through my mind when I looked at the cart: - Am I unaware of additional family members that we adopted that we are now required to feed? - Are we hosting a backyard cook-out – every night for the next two weeks? - Is the commissary giving away all of their meat products? - Does the commissary no longer sell vegetables? - Did Husband recently develop an allergy to anything green and/or healthy? - Was Husband their millionth customer and did he win a prize package of meat products? I’m sure the cart looked normal – for say, a member of a fraternity. It was stuffed with all sorts of man food: hot dogs, hamburger patties, sausages, pork, chips, soda, frozen pizza, and more. The food fell into two distinct food groups: meat and beans. And, some were a combination of both, like the frozen “beef and bean” burritos he selected. He probably guessed by my expression that I wasn’t as impressed with his smorgasbord of meat selections. So, he said, “Don’t worry. I knew you’d want me to get some vegetables, so I got these.” He pointed at a bag of frozen french fries. “See? They’re vegetables. You know, potatoes.” Oh. What a relief. I was beginning to think that it was all man food, but clearly the frozen french fries redeemed the rest. Regardless, I’m ok with eating the man food this week. I’m just reappointing myself as lead grocery shopper for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

new home

We are slowly getting settled into our new location and house. There’s a lot to celebrate, just in this past week alone. The mountain of boxes has dwindled into a small hill. We’ve met a few friendly neighbors. We love our new house, and it’s already starting to feel like home. Here are the highlights of the good and the bad, so far. The Good: Almost all of our stuff arrived without any damage. The Bad: We have that much more stuff (junk) to keep and figure out what to do with it. The Bad: One of the few things that arrived broken was a mirror, and now we have to wonder if we’re really subject to 7 years of bad luck. (I’m inclined to think, at least on a technicality, that we aren’t subject to the bad luck, since it was technically the movers that broke it.) The Good: It’s nearly impossible to get lost in this small town. The Bad: My poor sense of direction has moved with me to our new place, meaning that I will probably get lost at least once. The fact that I shouldn’t get lost means that I will become that much more frustrated when I do. The Good: There’s no traffic in town. The Bad: We no longer have an excuse if we are late to a party or event. The Good: We might not need to buy a lawnmower after all. The Bad: Our grass appears to be dead. But, Husband has started sprinkler-to-lawn resuscitation to help revive the dying grass. The Good: I’ve grown enamored with our spacious kitchen and the window view. The Bad: Nothing! What’s not to love about a spacious kitchen with a view? The Good: We found a bakery (I sniffed it out on the second day!) that has delicious homemade goodies for a bargain price of 50 cents a piece. The Bad: Forget the oatmeal and fruit – let’s have greasy baked goods for breakfast! I admit that it might not do so well for our health. The Good: We are quite happy in our new home. The Bad: We’ll probably move again in 2 or 3 years for Husband’s next military assignment. But, even that is not so bad. By then, it’ll be time for healthier breakfasts and to chance our luck with a new place – and our fragile mirrors in the (moving) process.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


We’re moving - again! In less than one year of marriage, this is our second move, and it will be our third address. It would be nice to think that we’ve won some sort of military-moving record. But, if we did, I suspect the only thing we won was the extra trip to the post office to change our address, besides getting the delivery full of boxes of our own stuff. But still, the move is a reason to celebrate. We’ve survived the last few months at our tiny, temporary place. Specifically, we’ve survived extreme heat, an awkward dinner invitation, and an almost unspeakable air freshener incident. No doubt, we’ve subsisted on pizza and macaroni. And, the only real casualty was a small plant. We’re also excited to move into our new house and get settled in. The prospect of unpacking all of our boxes, I’ll admit, is not quite as exciting. Eventually, after probably many trips to Goodwill, I know we’ll get everything in order. I’m not sure when we’ll get our internet hooked up, but I imagine we’ll probably be without it for a while. Rest assured, though, that I’ll probably have a new set of stories to share when we do. That is, as long as I don’t get lost in the boxes (possible, but not likely) or have to be admitted to the hospital for a bad case of internet withdrawal (slightly more likely). In the meantime, Happy Easter!

Monday, March 17, 2008

The shamrock shake, or How I spent 3 years searching for a mediocre milkshake

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I’m sharing a story about my 3-year quest for a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake. Really, it’s a sad story that spans several states and countless McDonald’s restaurants that ends with sweet (but too-rich and not-as-good-as-I-remember) success. A Shamrock Shake, for those that aren’t familiar with it, is a green, mint-flavored milkshake that’s offered only at some select McDonald’s in March in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. I used to always get one when I was a kid, but I hadn’t had one in years. The search started very innocently. I randomly noticed a sign for it a few years ago at a McDonald’s in Texas. I had already ordered, but I thought (mistake #1), “I’ll just get it later at some other McDonald’s.” A few days later, I ordered it at another McDonald’s just a few miles down the road. I might as well have just asked for a bottle of red wine. The clerk looked at me like I was nuts, and, in an awkward scene, I left the line and the restaurant. But, that didn’t stop me from asking at 2 more McDonald’s that year! One had never heard of that shake, and the other actually offered it, but their ice cream machine was broken. The second year I was going on a work trip to California with a dozen co-workers. We had a brief layover at O’Hare in Chicago, and I knew I was in luck, since I was in a city that is so dedicated to the holiday that they actually dye their river green. The small McDonald’s in the terminal had a sign proudly advertising the elusive shake. I bragged to all my co-workers (mistake #2) how I was finally going to get the shake. That is, until the clerk informed me that their ice cream machine was broken. The return trip was similar. I was in line at a different McDonald’s in the terminal when Husband (then, Boyfriend) called me on my cell phone, and I said (mistake #3), “Can I call you back later? I’m finally going to get my shake!” Instead, I called him back, sharing my frustration about yet another broken ice cream machine. Then, last year, I was in a small airport in New Hampshire with my parents and we stopped at the airport’s McDonald’s. I had forgotten all about the shake, until I saw their sign advertising it. I explained to my parents how I had to order it, and my enthusiasm for it actually convinced my dad to order one, too. Their machine actually worked, and they handed us the shakes. The 3-year quest was coming to an end. I slurped on the straw with excitement, ready for the sweet taste of victory. Except that victory actually tasted minty, but too sweet and too rich. My pride wanted me to finish the darn thing, but my stomach knew better. It just wasn’t as good as I remembered. So celebrate St. Patrick’s Day however you like. See a parade, wear green, and/or eat corned beef and cabbage. Have a Shamrock Shake, if you must. Just please promise me that you won’t cross any state lines to get it. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

In Love

It was 2 weeks ago that I fell in love. The new object of my affection (and obsessive thoughts) is a greasy dessert covered in sugar that I call A Super Delicious Dessert that I Can’t Believe I Never Had Before, but others simply call a “churro.” I visited a bakery with a friend, who introduced me to my new love. I bought only 3 (clearly I was a rookie) and lived to regret it when the last churro was gone minutes later. One morning last week when Husband had to leave ridiculously early for work, I woke up in a sleepy haze. And, without exaggeration, the very first words I said to Husband were: “Good morning…I..want..a..churro.” He assured me that we would get some soon. And he fulfilled his promise yesterday. We went back to that bakery, and purchased 8 (not a rookie anymore!) churros in various flavors. I’m sure that there’s something wrong here. Some would say that any dessert that coats the bag it’s in with a layer of grease is probably not so healthy. Others would say that it’s nuts to wake up in the morning and have your first thought be about a craving for a greasy dessert. And, a few would probably say it’s not normal to drive 45 minutes to a bakery to pick up said greasy dessert. And, I say, it’s time to eat another churro!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Crazy, cheap, or crazy cheap?

Here’s probably how normal, non-military men go to a restaurant for dinner: - Come home from work. Possibly shower. Change into some casual, non-work clothes and go to the restaurant. Here’s how military men (at least my husband and his 2 friends last night) go to a restaurant for dinner: - Come home from work. Stay in uniform. Go to the restaurant. I asked Husband if he wanted to change before we all went to dinner last night. He said: “No way! Then we won’t get the 50% off military discount.” [For whatever reason, the restaurant will not give the discount if you’re not in uniform, even if you have your military ID card with you. Trust us, we’ve tried.] I’d think that his idea of staying in uniform was crazy, except that with the discount, our total bill for 2 meals was only $7! So, I guess that makes us both crazy and cheap.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hair Confessions

While I’m on the subject of yesterday’s hair adventures, I might as well come clean with a few of my hair issues. 1) I got the worst haircut of my life in Georgia. I brought 3 pictures of the cut I wanted (a cute, chin-length bob) to the hairstylist. I had never been to this stylist before, but she assured me she knew exactly what I wanted. Instead of looking like Julia Stiles, like I wanted, I ended up looking more like her brother (if she has one). This was the message that I left on my parents’ answering machine after I got the cut: “I just got a haircut and I look like a man! Call me back! Bye.” The reactions the next day at work varied from pure laughter (2 co-workers) to this statement from another co-worker: “With all due respect, ma’am, what did you do to your hair??” I cried for a week, and I never returned to that hair stylist again. Lesson Learned: In addition to learning that I’m not meant to look like Julia Stiles (no matter what haircut I get), I learned to carefully screen future stylists, especially if trying a more daring ‘do. 2) I have a long history of neglecting my hair – and my blow-dryer. Once in high school, I was waiting outside in the middle of winter for the bus (yes, I was all sorts of geek in high school) with my wet, un-blow-dried hair. When I tried to run my fingers through my hair later on the bus, I couldn’t because my hair had actually frozen! Lesson Learned: Hair can freeze, and I learned that I’ll want to make the effort to blow-dry my hair next time I’m waiting outside in freezing temps (I hope not) for a bus (I really hope not). 3) A haircut that I got a few months ago was with a stylist I had not seen before. The first thing that she said to me when we met was: “I just got my moustache waxed off!” I really didn’t know how to respond to that. (Congratulations? Or, nice to meet you, too?) The haircut she gave was only so-so and expensive. (So expensive that I tried not to audibly gasp when I saw the bill.) Lesson Learned: I learned that it’s better to keep any talk of hair-removal to yourself. I didn’t pick her for my next haircut. There are more stories I could tell, but I don't want to bore you. Let's just say that I’ve definitely had my fair share of hair disasters. For me, I think the overall lessons learned here are: Look into wigs. Check if being bald is coming in style. Or, better yet, come back as a short-haired man in the next life.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hair Adventures

I got a great haircut today, and I only had to go to 2 different salons to get it! The first salon was an upscale (read: too expensive) place that I had been to once before. I arrived a few minutes before my scheduled appointment with a stylist I had never seen. And I left, still not having seen that stylist – or any stylist! After I checked in with the receptionist, I waited. And waited. And – you guessed it - still waited. After 20 minutes, I asked the receptionist whether she was sure that the stylist knew I was there, and she said she’d remind her. Finally, it was already 30 minutes after the scheduled appointment time, and the stylist still hadn’t even stopped by to introduce herself. (It took less time yesterday for a busy auto shop to change my car’s oil!) So, I informed the receptionist that I was leaving, and I walked out of the salon. I figured that if I was going to pay a small fortune for a cut, I should at least be able to see the stylist before my hair turned gray. (Then I would need a cut and a coloring!) On a whim, I ran into a salon in the mall, and the stylist there had an opening. She was polite and kind, and the conversation was pleasant and enjoyable. The cut she gave was amazing, and it was half the price I would have paid at the other salon. Like my past hair experiences, I left the salon wanting to cry. Except this time they were tears of happiness. I finally found a terrific stylist at a bargain price! I’m trying not to think about how we’re moving in less than a week, and I’m going to have to find a new stylist again. But, I think I finally have this process down. Search. Find. Move. Rinse and repeat.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Goofy Running Gear

I’ve added a new goofy accessory to my running gear. I now wear a runner’s hat, which looks like a regular baseball hat but has tiny, funny-looking holes on it. So, now I have a goofy hat to add to the goofy Stevie Wonder sunglasses I’ve been wearing. All I need to complete the ensemble is a goofy personality. Oh wait, I already have that, too.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Still Running

I know I haven’t written much about running lately. But, I’m still running (and probably still crazy), making me on track for my marathon goal. Here are a few random tidbits about things related to my running… 1) I spent an insane amount of money on three pairs of special running socks. I’d tell you how much, but I know my Dad is reading this, and he’d probably choke on his coffee. And frankly, I might, too, just by remembering it. 2) I randomly started drinking a “Juicy Juice” juice box before my runs, and I’ll probably keep doing this since it seems to be working for me. It would probably make more sense to drink a real sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade, but Juicy Juice suits me since I’m more kid than athlete anyway. (Besides, if we’re really talking about “making sense,” I’d give up the marathon altogether, and reclaim my seat on the couch next to the rest of the non-athletes.) 3) The running path on base where I run actually crosses over an active taxiway, which caused me a little anxiety at first. (I was worried enough about getting run over by a car, let alone a military jet!) Yet, I’ve avoided all collisions with airplanes and cars, and I’m liking the path. 4) My mom pointed out that my marathon training schedule starts in June. (I knew that.) In the summer. (Oh no.) In a state with one of the hottest climates in the country. (Oh crap!) I’m not sure how I made such an oversight, but she didn’t hold back: “Tootie, that’s nuts!” Once again, Mom is always right. I’ll be sure to remember that when I’m cursing myself and I melt into a puddle of sweat on the sidewalk this summer. 5) I’ve learned that Chinese take-out is never, under any circumstances, a good pre-running meal. I know what you’re thinking. “Was she actually stupid enough to eat Chinese food before running?” The answer, sadly, is yes. If I owned a fortune cookie factory, I’d make sure that this warning was placed somewhere on the fortune (maybe near the lucky lotto numbers): “For your safety and well-being, do not attempt to run after eating this meal.” Besides the run that followed my Chinese meal (hereby known as “the run of shame”), I’m really started to get more comfortable with my runs. I like my new routines (even the juicy juice and expensive socks), and I like how I feel physically and mentally recharged after each run. It’s enough to make me glad that I started this crazy marathon business. I know that I have more adventures ahead with running. I just hope none of them involve an untimely run-in (no pun intended) with a military aircraft.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

An Old-Fashioned Text Message

I left this on Husband's car while he was at work on Friday. It's not as high-tech as a text message, but it's maybe a little more fun.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Done, and done.

I wrote my last paper today for this grad school term. That makes me officially done! Done, that is, until the next term starts in less than two weeks. Until then, I’ll be celebrating my short-lived freedom by reading books that have nothing to do with theory, law, or anything else of real importance. In fact, I hope to read something totally frivolous, so I can give my tired brain cells a break. On an unrelated note, our plant is also officially done. (Not with school, but with life.) We’ve done everything short of CPR (I’m not even sure how that would work, nor do I want to know), but it’s completely unresponsive. We have a special funeral planned, where Husband and I will both participate. I will gently deposit the plant in the trash, and he will (eventually, after much reminding) carefully deposit the trash in the dumpster. So, so long to this school term and to our poor plant. I’ll miss only one of you. (Sorry, grad school, but it’s not you.)

Time for a Final Exam Crisis

I suppose it wouldn’t be a real final exam experience, if there wasn’t some near-disaster before it. A couple days ago I noticed that my watch had stopped. It didn’t seem like a big deal, until an hour before my proctored exam yesterday. I realized that I had nothing to monitor my time during the two-hour exam at the library. I’d usually default to my cell phone for the time, but I knew it wouldn’t be allowed during testing. Here’s what went through my pre-exam, stressed brain: Oh no! I’ll lose all track of time and I won’t be able to finish the exam! And I’ll fail! I guess I could run to the store and buy a new watch. Or a new battery. But there’s not enough time! Should I call Husband at work and ask to borrow his? I think he’s flying, though, so he couldn’t give it to me anyway. AGH! I don’t want to fail this test!! I should have realized that there might actually be, you know, a clock in the room where I’d be taking my test. I really had nothing to worry about it, but I found my solution anyway. I remembered that Husband had a very large, silver dress watch in his drawer. A man watch. I figured he wouldn’t mind if I borrowed it. So I slipped the gigantic man watch on my comparatively small wrist. It felt noticeably heavier and looser than my regular watch, but I was still glad to have it. And off I went to my exam. I wish I could say that the watch calmed my nerves, but I still had the normal pre-test jitters. The exam went fine, though, and I had no problem seeing the time on the watch’s extremely large face. Even still, I have to say that I hope this is the last time I have to wear a man accessory during a final exam.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Hot Chocolate Stand

I have to applaud this family. Their kids made a hot chocolate stand this winter.

The idea is genius. These clever little entrepreneurs realized that having a stand shouldn’t be restricted to only lemonade and in the summer. With this stand, they’ve effectively doubled their business season. Maybe they also knew that one die-hard hot chocolate lover (me) was in their midst.

They weren’t selling any today when I took the picture. But, I did have some a few weeks ago, and it was just delicious. Perfectly hot and sweet, with plenty of marshmallows. They even had special to-go cups with lids.

I think Starbucks should take a cue from these kids. All I had to do is say, “I’d like one hot chocolate,” and my only choice was “with or without marshmallows.” No confusing lingo of “venti mocha chocha latte,” with the too-many choices of skim, low-fat, or no-fat milk. (By the way, I’m not a Starbucks-hater. I just have to rehearse my order in advance because I’m still not fluent in their language.)

If it’s possible, I think I might be more excited about this hot chocolate stand than the tiny owners of it.

Monday, March 3, 2008

New Uses for Earplugs

With a pilot in the house, we never have a shortage of earplugs. In fact, we’ve accumulated quite the stack of the little yellow ones because Husband has been flying so much recently.

I’m sure this could be something to celebrate. After all, we can rest easy knowing that our delicate hearing will always have the means to be safely protected. Or, I could just celebrate that they’re sitting securely on the dresser, instead of on the bottom of our washer like usual.

Still, I was beginning to wonder what to do with pile.

Husband found a creative use for them, and I’m posting the evidence. I’d like to think that this might be the first-ever message written entirely in earplugs posted on the internet. (But, probably not, since I’m sure there are many other creative husband-pilots out there.)

You'll notice the message is a very cryptic “I.L.Y!” representing three words. Either my husband has a new-found fondness for Yahtzee (unlikely, but possible), or he was just expressing his love for me.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

On the set of the Discovery Channel

Yesterday Husband and I went on a tour of some nearby caves. Though I think the term “spelunking” technically applies, it sounds much more ambitious than what we really did, which was walking on a paved path within the cave and gawking at this strange and beautiful underground world. The trip was my idea because I thought we would both enjoy it. I like doing just about anything that qualifies as a tourist activity, which usually involves taking pictures and lots of pointing. Husband, on the other hand, likes anything that involves science. So, our compromise activity was down almost 200 feet below the earth in these caves. Husband looked so serious for much of the tour, that I wasn’t sure he was enjoying it. That is, until I asked again “What do you think?” and he responded with, “I feel like I’m in an episode of the Discovery Channel.” You’d have to know my husband and his love (obsession?) with the Discovery Channel to know that his comment was the highest form of praise he could give. The equivalent translation of his comment to the non-science fanatic would be something like: “This is the coolest thing ever!” We both equally enjoyed our short expedition. The caves and the formations were truly amazing. I’m very sad that I forgot to bring my camera because I’m not sure I can do any justice in describing them. It’s good to know that the exotic places shown on the Discovery Channel actually do exist. But, nothing compares to seeing them in person. They look much more incredible, and best of all, there are no commercials.