Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Peanut Butter Cookies

I make these cookies quite often and anywhere I bring them they are always a hit, except for my sister Kathryn who hates peanut butter and chocolate. These taste like a deliciously rich peanut butter cup (think reeses) only without the processed food aftertaste. They're really small so they're super easy to eat just one more.

My friends Jo and Dave were over babysitting on Saturday, and when we got back we hung out and watched some football. Then So here's my recipe - it's basically the Joy of Cooking recipe with a few changes...

Always a Hit Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes ~40 1 1/2 inch cookies
Preheat oven to 375

Beat until soft:
1/2 cup butter (as close to room temperature as you can - unsalted)

Add gradually and blend until creamy:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Molasses

Beat in:
One Egg
1 cup Peanut Butter (creamy, and the natural kind makes the best texture!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (it's ok without the vanilla, i made them that way this time)

add and mix until almost combined :
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

add and stir in with rubber spatula
1/2 cups chcolate chps

Scoop into level tablespoons and round that amount into a small ball. Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet. To get the criss-cross effect, i take a fork dipped in sugar and press it into the top of the dough twice at 90 degree angles to eachother. So it looks like this "#".

Bake between 10 and 12 minutes.
These freeze really well, but good luck getting to put any in the freezer - I made them on Saturday and they're all gone already.

Monday, November 24, 2008

movie sequels

I started writing this ages ago, but got interrupted, then it came up in conversation recently, so i felt like i needed to go ahead and post this, even if it's not quite complete.

I'm sure that both of you who read this blog can come up with a really bad movie sequel that just shouldn't have been made. Scream 2 is my first thought. But i think horror movies should be excluded from the 'bad sequel' problem - the original ones are bad too (sorry Stacey). The only thing a sequel saves you is having to create a new scary bad guy.

Anyway, there are some movie sequels that were at least as good, if not better than the original movie. Here, i've listed some sequels that I believe should never have been made - movies where the original was excellent and the sequel is miserable. However, the reason i decided to make this list is that there are some sequels that are better than the original / regardless of how terrible the original movie was, it's worth watching to get the backstory on the sequel.... i think you see where i'm going here:

Great sequels to great movies!
American Tale 2: Feivel Goes West
this movie is so incredible! Forget the original "there are no cats in america" - the newer one has a couple of great songs, is much less tragic, and Dom Delouise is hilarious!

StarWars (episodes 5&6)
5 is probably the best movie ever made. The existance of 5 & 6 makes 4 even awesomer.

Toy Story 2
Woody and Buzz and the gang come back, and it's hilarious. This movie has one of my favorite randomly hilarious lines of any movie "Well, slotted pig, they're standard issue".

Shrek 2
Oh how funny is this movie!?! They really outdid themselves. Granted the first one is hilarious ("It's a thong!"), but the addition of the third character to the comedic interplay of shrek and donkey is priceless ("for you, I could be.")

Awesome sequels - Made the crappy original Better!
Terminator 2.
Although i've actually never seen this one, it is the hallmark in this category. Everyone loves the second terminator movie. I have seen the first one. it sucks.

And i'm spent. I'm sure you can come up with others in this category. Like i said - i knew this was incomplete and that's why i didn't publish it before now.

Bad sequel! bad!

Secret of Nimh 2 (and other similar re-done animated movies)
Really? If it's been more than 10 years since the original movie, then the new one is no longer a sequel. Don't call it that. Re-make the original or pretend that it's not the same characters - it sucks to have all new actors, all new animators, supposedly playing the same characters. Lame on principle.

Terminator 3.
Thanks, chris, for coming up with this excellent and ironic example. Again, i've never seen it, but hear that it is one of the worst movies out there.

Pirates 2 and 3.
Ok Pirates 1 is an amazing movie. No question. Pirates 2 was rather dissapointing - really? a swordfight on a giant waterwheel? Undead pirates i totally buy, but this is not possible. But pirates 3 just took the badness to a whole new level. Not only now is there an actual PERSON of davy jones, but he was in love with a sea godess who just happens to be trapped in someone's body who we've already met, and ... uggh it's just bad bad bad. Like i said, makes the first one worse, just knowing these horrible sequels exist.

ok back to work with me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

and I thought I was cold

When I dropped Evey off at school today it was 40 degrees out. And windy. And i haven't pulled my proper coat out of the closet yet. So i'm wearing a 3/4 length sleeved jacket which is basically a glorified sweatshirt, except that the wind can go up underneath it because it's wide at the bottom.

Now, the place where Evey goes to school is pretty much a wind tunnel. It's right downtown and the entrance to her room is underneath a drive-through banking tunnel, with something like 12 stories of building above us. So the wind whips around us and we're both cold and laughing at the wind blowing so hard. I RAN back to my car after dropping her off being really cold, got in the car and turned on the radio. And heard this:

"NPR has just projected that Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich has unseated Ted Stevens for the Alaskan senate seat." They had Future Senator Begich on the phone from his victory party in Alaska - where is was so loud inside that he decided to step outside. OUTSIDE in Alaska at 5:30 AM. The senator-elect said it was 7 - that's SEVEN - degrees outside, and that he was just wearing his shirt and tie - left his jacket inside to talk to NPR on the phone. I didnt' even have the heat on in the car.

Warning - Florida makes you a sissy. DO NOT MOVE TO FLORIDA if you ever want to be able to tolerate cold again.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

fires and other forms of heat

As I was sitting here working today wearing my ugg boots (thanks, 2002!), a big sweater, holding a cup of coffee and generally freezing, I was watching smoke pour merrily out of my neighbor's chimney. That made me wish i had a fire blazing next to me... and made me think more about fires and other forms of heat that i wish i had next to me.

So, my friend the vennmaster does this great thing called "nice, sweet, lame." I was inspired by this idea, but had more ideas than just 3 - so this is more of a continuum of awesomeness, starting at most awesome and working the way down from there...

AWESOME: wood burning fire.
It's nice and warm, it heats your house, it smells fabulous, and makes a great, soothing sound. There are downsides, however. Lugging in wood was always a really annoying task in the winter, but isn't nearly as annoying as cleaning up ashes

Granted, they are very very fun - the only light you see while you sit around it, usually drinking beer, roasting marshmallows, the smell of these fires is delicious and delightful. Plus there's none of that cleaning up ashes crap. The problems are all related to that you're outside. Bugs. Sitting on the ground. your back is freezing and your face is burning. Plus there's always the chance that you'll start a raging forest fire.

ACCEPTABLE: gas fire - not so fun to watch, or smell, but puts of heat in a direct fashion, and looks kind of like the real thing. Plus the switch on the side to "on" is much easier than lugging wood. Also the odds of the fire spreading are pretty slim. But look at it! It's just so - sterile!

STILL PRETTY NICE: Radiator. The kind you find in the old houses and apartments. I used to have one in an old apartment and it was so nice and toasty. If you're ever cold, you can just saddle up to it and rest your toes on it/ sit on it/ lean against it / leave your towel on it to get warm while you take a shower. I was really missing one of these today. No clean up, no mess, no risk of fire. Only problem is that you don't always have control of it.

OK: Space heater. One of those little guys that sits on the floor and makes lots of noise, puts out lots of heat, but is somehow never hot enough at the same time. Plus the heat it puts out is SO DRY it sucks the moisture out of the air all around it. Also i understand they have a fire risk as well. but what doesn't anymore.

PITIFUL: Heating Pad. If you have to resort to using a heating pad in your own house it's time to either put on more clothes, turn up your heat, add more insulation to your windows, or install one of these other systems of heating. The direct heat is really nice though.

LAME: Video of a fire. I can't believe they even make these. Granted there's no setup, no cleanup, no chance of fire spreading. But no smell, no real sound, and most importantly - NO HEAT. really what's the point? to be festive while you are doing other things i guess? I love how it's like "Over 2 hours!" Like you couldn't just start it over again.

Monday, November 17, 2008

alone time

so on saturday night, Jason went with our friend Chris to the Florida State game. The game was at 8, so they left around 6:30. As Evelyn goes to bed around 7, this meant i had an evening alone. What's a girl to do?

If you thought to yourself, hmm... what would i do on an evening alone with no husband? i would imagine you came up with answers like this:
- drank lots of red wine
- watch girly romantic movies
- watch some tv show that boys can't stand (like project runway, any makeover show, or the food network)
- call up some girlfriends and hang out
- do your nails

those would all have been excellent options. However, let me tell you what i DID do.
1. did dishes
2. cleaned the kithen
3. sharpened my knives
4. scrubbed the fronts of kitchen cabinets
5. cleared clutter from the bedroom
6. cleaned the living room
7. re-organized evelyn's toys
8. had a glass of red wine
9. numbers 6-8 all while watching the FSU football game.

So i did get one of those in... jut not in the way one might expect.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Amazingly Delicious Pumpkin Bars

in the vein of more recipes - here's the one for the amazingly delicious pumpkin bars.

Amazingly Delicious Pumpkin Bars:
for one 9 x 13 pan

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups all-purpose (I use Whole Wheat - the texture is perfect) flour
  • 1/4 cup quick oats (i add them to everything)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cloves, ginger, & nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, sugar and pumpkin until smooth. Mix together the remaining dry ingredients and fold/stir into the pumpkin mixture.
  3. I typically line my 9x13 pan with parchment paper - lord knows this recipe has enough fat in it without greasing the pan - and don't even think about skipping this step... the bars WILL stick to your pan.
  4. Pour batter into pan and spread evenly.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. when done, a stick inserted will come out clean. However, they are amazingly delicious when they aren't all the way done, so if the middle seems not quite there, i'd recommend just letting them be. If you're going to frost them, just allow them to cool first. Frosting recipe to follow.

Joy of Cooking quick icing
  • 1/4 stick of butter
  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 3 tablespoons spiced rum
  1. use mixer to cream butter, combine butter and sugar
  2. add the rum one tablespoon at a time until the mixture changes from looking like confetti to looking like icing. you may not need all of the rum. Drink the extra
  3. Frost the baked good.
  4. Lick the beaters.
  5. make more because it's so delicious.

I usually serve the pumpkin bars in small pieces - about half the size of a cake slice. It's very rich. Make sure you have plenty of people to share it with. OR instead of frosting the whole cake, just frost half of it. The bars freeze really well. and having deserts in my freezer makes me feel like my grandmother.

Friday, November 14, 2008

more food

On tuesday this week, my friend Jen made us some amazing vegetable soup. I think the exact ingredients are a secret, but it was full of carrots, peas, potatoes, artichokes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and general deliciousness - here, i took a picture.

to go with it, i made some bread. Here's the recipe i followed:
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve honey in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and let stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy.
  2. Stir the olive oil into the yeast mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour, salt, and 1 cup of the all-purpose flour until dough starts to come together.
  3. Knead in the remaining all-purpose flour, until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes (adding flour as needed).
  4. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover with lid of bread pan (or towel), and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  5. reshape dough into loaf shape. Here I made a french bread loaf.
  6. Let rise for about 45 minutes, until doubled.
  7. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  8. Use a spray bottle to mist water into the oven (helps bread to rise more before crust forms) close oven and KEEP IT CLOSED! varying heat will mess with the rise.
  9. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes until bread crust is hard, sounds hollow when tapped

Friday, November 7, 2008


I've been thinking about the tv i watch and thought i'd talk about that for a minute. Right now shows that are on the air that i watch fall into 5 basic categories. I love it, I catch it, I tolerate it, I hate it, and i probably would like it if i watched it so i'm not going to. Some exemplars of each category follow:

a few examples of Love it shows:
I mean really, why argue. It slipped into the "tolerate it" section for a while last season, but has redeemed itself. I'm excited to find out what happens again. It's a long way from "wtf! was that a giant polar bear? Did he just get eaten by SMOKE? WHAT IS GOING ON???" but is still excellent - i mean "he changed the rules" ??? What did that mean? love this show.

30 Rock

This show really grew on me. I watched the first episode and didn't really like it, but came back for more and it is so hilarious! This week a character said "hypothetical situations are like lying to your brain!" I mean, come on, that's was clearly the most hilarious thing i've heard all day.

The Office
I'm not a total die hard fan like some people, but this show is too funny to miss. If i do, then i don't understand half of the things that are said to me at work the next day. Hopefully I've caught 30 rock if i miss the office, because otherwise i wouldn't understand the other half of things people say to me.

Pushing Daisies

it's so good. It's so fun, so witty, clever, quirky, quick and BEAUTIFUL. Plus Jim Dale narrates. Fabulous. While it's not the show that I quote the next day, somehow they manage to make killing off at least one person every week not at all gruesome, but instead interesting, funny, and charming.

Catch it:

I love this show. However, it's not something that i have to watch every Wednesday night. Rather, its something that when i see is on, or worse a Marathon is on, i can't seem to turn it off. Highly addicting, fun, and semi-scientific.

Tweener shows
Hannah Montanna and iCarly are the best, but also like Wizards of Waverly place, Drake and Josh, even sometime life with derek. I love these shows. If i'm just done and can't think anymore these are the best outlet for me. Maybe it reminds me of the days when i was in highschool and didn't have to worry about electric bills, 401ks that are shrinking, life insurance, and medical bills.

Tolerate it: Lately MANY shows have slipped into this area. in example:

I'm hooked on the characters, somewhat, but this season they've all gone crazy! For example, one character has a "vision" of what the future could be like, and another character somehow is teleported in space and time into that version of the future - where, big surprise here - pretty much everyone we know in it dies. Oh, but remember it's a vision, so now worries, everyone's actually still around. Yeah that's annoying. Hate that.

it's like a soap opera for boys. Overly dramatic, a new person who has a new mysterious power every week, which somehow will inevitably end up endangering Chloe, Lois, Lana, or one of the other regulars, and which Clark will inevitably end up rescuing. Redeeming value? Tom Welling.

Enough said.

Hate it:
Higglytown Heroes

when we wake up in the morning, sometimes I'll turn on the TV to help us move more smoothly - Evelyn is distracted by the tv and so I don't have to hold her and can pee, brush my teeth, and even sometimes get dressed. Unfortunately for us, the show that seems to be on at our "get ready" time is Higglytown Heroes. Let me explain the setup of this - abomination of a tv show. There are these little - russian nesting doll sorts of creatures. See below:They manage to get themselves in all sorts of 'hopeless' situations, and then have a 'hero' rescue them. Here was the plot this morning. A famous author comes to higglytown, and everyone wants to see her! They don' t have enough food for the party so they call the pizza man. He bakes a giant pizza and delivers it by helicopter, but the rope breaks and the giant pizza lands on top of the library, covering it completely with the famous author inside. Then they sing some terrible little song, and a "hero" shows up - this time a crane operator, who somehow lifts the pizza from the library - day saved. The show sucks.

Shows that I don't watch because I'd be hooked immediately if i did:
Best example, Grey's anatomy. I'm sure i'd love this show if i did ever watch it, but i haven't yet, so here's hoping!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


in NFL footbal, each coach has a red flag. football fans, you know, this is the 'challenge' flag, that can be pulled out to force the officials to review a play a team feels was incorrect. In this same spirit, i've often wondered how the game would change if each team got a "mulligan" flag.

Maybe it would be black and white checkered, really that doesn't matter. The point is, each team would get one "do-over" play in the game. Think of how this could change the game of football! Oh the strategy! do you save it for later? or use it for that 80 yard kickoff return the other team just got? Oh the drama! did the kicker just make that 3-seconds-left-in-the-game-winning-kick? He missed it? don't worry? you've saved your checkered flag! Oh the heartache! That poor player who caught the amazing touchdown pass will now have it reversed!

Plays get overturned all the time! Not just "we thought he caught the ball but his second foot was actually out of bounds" stuff, but also on penalty stuff - illegal blocks on kickoff returns, the dreaded holding call, or the fun free plays an offense gets to run when the defense jumps offides. Why not throw one more do-over into the mix?

On a related note, some election signs here in town reads "Mulligan for congress".

I"m all for do-overs in football, as impossible as it might be, but come on, congress is complicated enough.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election day!

well with all the hype, "they" estimate that some 30% of Florida voters voted early. The lines to vote early were very long - 1 to 2 hours at the 3 polling places in our county. I decided that there was just something romantic about voting on election day, even if i did have to wait in a super long line to do it.

So i dropped evelyn off at school and came into work, where i picked up jason and we went together to our polling place, down the road from where we live. As we were pulling into the parking lot, NPR was saying how everyone should prepare for long lines today as record voter turnout is expected. We got into the polling place and there were three people set up to give out voting forms, about 15 places to fill out your form.... and NO line to vote. There was precisely ONE person voting at the time we walked in. We were in and out in about 5 minutes.

So hooray for election day! Can't wait to watch the returns tonight, and am glad i got to cast my vote on the 4th without all the waiting.

Monday, November 3, 2008


are possibly the greatest invention ever. How fantastic to have your own soundtrack everywhere you go. One of the best feelings in the world is having great music playing in your headphones that is just the right tempo so that you can walk to the beat outside when it's a glorious day like today.

can you tell i just got to do that? it was amazing. It makes me miss walking everywhere.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


We've lived in our apartment for 4 years - well for 4 halloweens. Every year, there's a big party in our local park where they serve pizza and beer and wine. TONS of people come. when it starts to get dark, the mob begins to circulate the neighborhood. The first year we were there, we sat in our apartment for the first few trick-or-treaters, and found that they wouldn't come into our building to knock on doors. So we sat on the front porch with our neighbors and drank beers and handed out candy and had a great time. Then those neighbors left, and every year since we've sat there alone. key words there are EVERY YEAR. This year was no exception.

We sat on our big porch steps, with pumpkins glowing, lights on outside and in, a huge (bread) bowl clearly full of candy, a 15 month old climbing up and down the steps being generally very excited about everyone walking by.
From Halloween Pumpkin Shopping 08

And most people just walked by! we saw about a 50% rate of people who walked by actually coming to our steps. We were very confused. I guess no matter how much you dress it up, we are still renters, we still live in a place that we aren't responsible for the upkeep for, and our too-rich neighbors still think we're not worthy to be their neighbors.

That's why when i got this email from my friend Anne's mom, we were neighbors growing up - it made me want to cry -

"I remember when you two (Anne and I) would go Trick or Treating on Halloween on a night just like tonight, not too cold and not too hot. The first time was when you all were two or three and you all sat on the Logan front porch. I don’t think you all collected too much candy. I remember Anne Moody in her hot pink footy pj’s with bunny ears. We all had many great Halloween nights. Then on the Sunday night after the time change, we (the adults) would put you all to bed on the old time, pull out the baby monitors, rake a pile of leaves and put a blanket on them in our front yard and have leftovers and champagne. This included the Hills, Popples, Rolands, Logans, and Swains. Once Harriet and Chuck Dunn joined us and maybe Anne McKee. I’m sure you both remember those times. But we had a great time."

Why can't i live someplace like that? Why did i have to choose a profession that makes me live far away from most everyone that i love and why are we living in this AMAZING but too-rich-for-us neighborhood where i feel like everyone resents that we live there because we're too poor and too young. Why don't I just open myself up so that i CAN have relationships like this with the friends i have now.

Happy Halloween.