Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

On the far western side of Manhattan, far north of where many white New Yorkers ever venture, there is a little enclave of deliciousness. Its name is Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. You may remember it for its extremely long wait times. I'm happy to report that if you arrive before your movie, rather than after it, the wait is much more bearable. Yes, last Friday night we decided to make a second attempt. Because we like to declare dinners out for a reason we declared that it was in honor of the Valentine's we didn't really celebrate and the anniversary that is not our anniversary anymore. It would probably be just as accurate to say that we really wanted BBQ ribs and cornbread. Dinosaur has also been on our infamous NYC to-do list for several years and we are perpetually [talking about] making efforts to accomplish these things.

For appetizers we ordered the sampler (spicy shrimp, chicken wings, fried green tomatoes, and deviled eggs) and a brisket slider. When the sampler arrived Becky stared at it for a good long time. Because the shrimp had legs. Can I just say...ew? It turned out that she wasn't actually as disturbed by this as I was, but she wasn't quite sure what to do with them. She muscled through and reports that they were tasty. The bodies, not the legs.
For dinner we shared the Sweetheart Deal for Two, which consisted of a full rack of ribs and four sides. We went with French fries, cole slaw, macaroni and cheese, and salted potatoes. It was all delicious, both at dinner and at home as leftovers the next day. If you're in New York and not a vegetarian I highly recommend taking the trip uptown. (And for the record, there's actually a lot of Manhattan past 125th street!) If you are a vegetarian...well, maybe you should stay downtown.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What's in a name? That which we call...

This is my post in honor of blogging for Modern Families week at Goodkin.

As we were planning our wedding last year we settled on most of the big decisions pretty easily. A lot of the decisions, like where to hold the ceremony, how formal it should be, whether we would both wear white dresses, whether to invite children, just seemed obvious to both of us. We had already agreed on colors and patterns to decorate our home, and the decision to reuse those choices came easily. Overall, we found most traditional wedding planning and customs to adapt easily to a same-sex wedding. It’s surprisingly easy to read bridal magazines and wedding planning sites without even encountering mention of a groom, and when he does show up rarely do his jobs require him to be male or dressed in a tuxedo or called a groom.

One of the decisions we found the hardest to make was the one about last names. In the last name business we found little guidance from tradition. The night before the Massachusetts marriage license application (at which we needed to declare our new names, in order to benefit from the free name change granted by legal marriage) we spent hours debating back and forth, practicing writing and signing all combinations of possible names, and generally obsessing about the right choice. We had previously agreed that we would not share our debate with friends or family until after we had made a decision, because we wanted to feel confident that it was our decision. In the end we made one of the most nontraditional decisions of the whole wedding/marriage/anticipated life. We decided to merge our names. We kept part of mine and part of hers, and we ditched part of mine and part of hers. We would each have the same name, which would convey the connection to each of our extended families, and any future additions to our family would also be able to share that name. Our new name identifies us quickly and easily as a real legitimate family in a way that no other marker could.

When I told my mom she initially reacted with surprise. I can’t even remember now if she had expected us to keep our names or to hyphenate, but she did not expect the merge. My mom at times in the past has been a recreational genealogist, and thus one of her initial arguments against our decision was that creating a new name would make us difficult to trace for future genealogists.

Creating our family our way will probably cause many headaches for future genealogists. We hope that Partner 1 and Partner 2 on the marriage certificate will eventually pave the way for Parent 1 and Parent 2 on countless forms (unless conservatives have their way, in which case we'll have to flip a coin on who gets to be the "father"). We're stretching our own imaginations, and asking those future genealogists to come along for the ride. I commented on this to my mother, and eventually we agreed that it is a new world out here on the family frontier.

I have a feeling that our whole lives together are going to be a mix of repeating familiar traditions that are surprisingly non-gender-specific and occasionally needing to sit down and come up with creative solutions that may challenge us and the other people in our social worlds. In later conversations with my mother I have gotten the impression that she came around to our new name. Her initial reaction was more surprise, needing a moment to ponder and understand, than disapproval. So I can only hope that future genealogists can manage as well as my mother, with that decision and all the others we will have to make in the years to come.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Trying to be Functional

Carrie and I have many skills, but unfortunately, keeping things neat and organized is not high on the list of either of our abilities. I mean, we're not completely inept at it, but we do struggle to keep things organized. We also both have packrat inclinations, which means that not only is our stuff not organized, but we just have altogether too much stuff.

We also got married recently. You may have heard. And we were very, very fortunate and blessed to have many friends and family members who felt inspired to buy us wedding gifts. And we are extraordinarily grateful to our loved ones for their generosity. But this did leave us a bit of a conundrum: where to put everything.

The last few weekends have been an ongoing effort at reorganizing our kitchen to better use the limited space we have and also get some of our presents out so that we will use them regularly. When we first began this venture, I thought we would finish in one weekend. I have a history of taking on overly-ambitious projects and vastly underestimating the amount of time or energy required. And by "history" I mean "this happens every time I try to do anything". Anyway, we didn't finish in one weekend, but we did persevere, and our kitchen is a much happier place because of it. Here are some before and after photos for your amusement.

Disclaimer: We had decided that we were going to tackle this project a few weeks before we actually got started, which means we stopped trying to put things away nicely altogether. I swear, we weren't normally living quite this messily--it's just that once you've decided to reorganize the cabinet, why WOULDN'T you store the colander in a way that predicts a certain avalanche should anyone ever be foolhardy enough to open the cupboard door all the way?

Note to our moms: maybe you just shouldn't look at the "before" pictures. Then you can live in happy disillusionment that our apartment is always as clean as it is when you come to visit.

That unhappy cupboard above, with a little of help, was transformed into this:
Its neighbor, which looked like this:
is now full of pretty new pans and looks like this:
And our pantry cupboard, shown here:
is now a much more organized place.
And that, right there, is all the cupboard space we have. If you live in Manhattan or otherwise have a tiny kitchen, you are probably in awe of this much space. But if you have a reasonable sized kitchen and spend much time in it, you will understand our plight. This is why our pantry is full of dishes instead of food. We've therefore had to get a bit creative with shelving for storage, and all of it was thoroughly overhauled too.

We cleared off the small appliances on these shelves in order to make room for the food items that previously lived in the pantry:
So now (with the addition of another super-fun gift: pop top containers) those shelves look like this:
But then the small appliances needed a place to go, so these shelves
were rearranged to look like this:
Um, everyone has a wine rack full of cat toys in the "after" pictures of their kitchen reorganization, right? Right. Also, I think it might be time for the new Advent calendar to get put away.

Also, we had several new cookbooks that didn't fit in the existing space we had for them, so we put a new bookshelf in the kitchen/living room area, which now houses cookbooks and a few other randoms:
It ended up being a lot of work, but I'm so happy to have an organized kitchen. And hopefully soon I'll remember where everything is and stop looking in the pantry for snack food! As you may have noted in the pictures, there is definitely less "stuff" in the after pictures. In the process of reorganizing, we finally took the time to review everything we had out, decide what we wanted to keep but didn't need immediately accessible, and figure out what we didn't need and could donate. Next project: actually donating stuff so that we don't just have donation boxes taking up space in our apartment. The project also did end up costing about $20, all of which was at The Container Store, and all of which was definitely worth it. We got organizers for the cookie sheets/cutting boards, pan lids, and sandwich bags/foil/etc. and we also got a shelf so our dishes weren't all stacked on top of one another. I was quite proud of myself for practicing restraint and not buying the entire store, since they had about 11,000 other things that looked like good ideas for getting us organized.

Next step: keeping it organized in the long term. Anyone have any tips? 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Eating Sum Dim Sum

I am happy to report that Hop Shing Restaurant, or as it is affectionately known on Yelp, 9 Chatham Square, is in fact not closed. I know this because we enjoyed dim sum* there this Saturday. The restaurant came highly recommended from Becky's coworker, who billed it as the best pork buns in Chinatown. With that kind of praise it is no wonder that we went quickly; I have been in love with the pork bun since the day I found out what dim sum was.
After triple checking that it was not Chinese New Year (we had a bad experience with a several hour wait at dim sum on Chinese New Year a few years ago) we headed out. Along for the ride was our friend Kara, of Superbowl live blogging fame. We were seated within minutes of arrival. Kara started in with stories of her recent shenanigans while Becky watched the carts emerging from the kitchen like a hawk. Apparently she had been warned that pork buns often go quickly and may sell out in early afternoon. We loaded up on all sorts of dumplings with an assortment of delicious doughy outsides. A few even had the pillowy soft dough of the much sought after pork buns, but still no pork buns came. Fear filled us. Finally we realized that several delicious items seemed to be emerging from a bakery counter at the front of the restaurant, while Becky's eyes were peeled on the kitchen. Although we were already stuffed to the brim we inquired and learned that yes, our heart's desire was in fact available by request from the bakery. Aah, pure delicious holy grail of dim sum.
You're probably wondering why it took us so long to ask. Partially that would be because we are all polite and introverted and therefore assume that it would be best to just wait. But partially that would be because this apparently is a relatively authentic dim sum experience, and therefore few of the patrons or staff spoke much English. In fact, when we finally took the leap and asked, we had to be passed through several wait staff before someone understood our inquiry well enough to get us pork buns. Throughout the meal we were stared at by our fellow diners, most prominently an elderly Chinese woman. For lack of a better explanation we assumed this was due to our white American-ness. Until we got the camera out that is. All further staring we attributed to our strange habit of photographing our food.

The most interesting food that we purchased (and photographed) was what seemed to be a dim sum breakfast sandwich. The outside was the aforementioned pillowy soft dough, and the inside was some combination of eggs and sausage. Good try, but not really my cup of tea.
The best part though? Somehow the mountains of food that we ate came out to only $15. No, not per person, total. I have a feeling that this may be due to a miscalculation of the bill. But since the prices are a Chinese mystery we figured that we had caused enough trouble, paid our bill, and went on our merry way. Yum!

*Becky reminded me that some readers may not be famililar with dim sum. For reference, the kind people at offer a wordy but informative summary.

Friday, February 18, 2011

This is What Democracy Looks Like

I know most of you don't live in Wisconsin, but the political conversation happening in WI right now could have a huge impact across the country and across politics for the foreseeable future. Honestly, the best summation of this situation that I've seen anywhere is this clip from Rachel Maddow:

But for those of you who don't have the patience for a 14-minute video, here's my brief summary of what's going on. Yes, I have a bias. I lived in Wisconsin for the first 22 years of my life. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. And I am an unabashed liberal. I also no longer live in Wisconsin, so I can't give you any first person-insight into what's happening right now, though I am certainly hearing a lot from family and friends who've been at the capitol these past few days.

In his first six weeks as governor, Scott Walker created an extra $140 million in new spending, largely going to corporations and the wealthy.

To be clear, at the time that he took office, Wisconsin was anticipated to have a budget SURPLUS at the end of this year, but he created new expenditures without balancing them.

He then turned around and declared that the state of Wisconsin is broke, and the only way to fix it is for public employees to foot the bill. His proposed emergency budget bill would include all public union employees in the state being forced to pay 5.8% of their salary toward a pension plan (note: unlike a 401(k), employees wouldn't have the option to contribute less) and to more than double the amount that they currently pay toward health insurance. For someone earning $40,000/year, this amounts to an 8.4% paycut.

After making this proposal, he declared that because the state is broke, there is no room for negotiation on this, or any other aspect of his bill. And because Republicans hold a majority in both houses of the state legislature, he seemed sure that passage of this bill would be swift (allowing only 3 days for debate) and easy. In announcing this proposal, he also declared that the National Guard would be on standby to deal with any unrest. I thought this was the Midwest, not the Middle East?

Okay, 8.4% is a big paycut. Huge. But the unions might even be willing to accept that, were it not for the rest of his proposal. You see, the rest of the proposal would demolish every right that unions have fought for over the past century. Under his plan, unions would lose ALL of their collective bargaining rights, with the exception of base salary. Issues of benefits, working conditions, overtime, etc. would no longer be on the table. And raises beyond the consumer price index would require a referendum, and we can all imagine how that's going to go. And none of this impacts the current budget. This is union-busting, pure and simple. Scott Walker is trying to make real a Republican wet dream to wipe out the major organizational base of their opponent.

Oh, but I lied up above. I said it would impact all public employees, but that's not true. You see, state troopers, police officers, and firefighters would be exempt from these changes. Why, because they're more important than teachers, nurses, prison guards, and other state employees? No, because the Milwaukee firefighters and police unions, along with the troopers' union, were the only unions in WI to support Walker in the gubernatorial election. Yes, it's just that blatant.

Needless to say, unions are irate. Over the past week, tens of thousands of people have been gathering at the capitol each day to protest and to make their voices heard during committee hearings. But the Republicans have continued to claim that there is no room for negotiation and therefore have largely refused to negotiate the terms of this bill. So yesterday, the Senate Democrats made a bold move: they left the state.

The Wisconsin State Senate has 33 seats, of which 19 are currently held by Republicans and 14 are held by Democrats. Senate rules require that a quorum of at least 20 Senators be present in order for a vote to occur. Republicans had repeatedly refused to negotiate the bill, knowing that they had the votes in the bag. So the Democrates left. And they didn't just leave the capitol, or the city--they left the state and are now beyond the reach of the State Troopers, who were otherwise being sent out to find them. The Democrats' hope is that by delaying the vote, Republicans will have to come back with a better bill; meanwhile, more people will get a chance to have their voices heard.

Was this move smart? I don't know. It's certainly not going to win any friends from moderates, and it's giving the right all sorts of ammunition. But I'm not sure the Dems had much choice--this seemed to be the only way they could have any say at all in this debate. And I will say this--it was brave. This was not a move for the squeamish. There was no room for waffling. It was all or nothing--one Senator caving to pressure means the vote can go on. This is solidarity. For realz.

And lest you think that only the Democrats are pulling unusual and perhaps less-than-honorable tactics, the State Assembly was scheduled to convene at 5:00 tonight to discuss the bill. But Assembly Republicans started the meeting early and began a voice vote before Democrats could reach the floor. This meant that the bill could no longer be changed and no new amendments could be introduced. After much, much argument, the Republicans finally relented and reversed the decision. They'll reconvene on Tuesday.


If you made it through all of that, congratulations. But here's what I couldn't find a way to say in all of that synopsis: I AM ANGRY. So, so angry about all of this. And frustrated. And distraught. This is my home. This bill affects family members, friends, and the communities in which I grew up and went to college. If this passes, it will have a huge lasting impact on the state of Wisconsin. And that is my immediate concern. This is my home. These are my people. And I really, really wish that I could be in Madison right now, raising my voice with thousands of other people who care deeply about the future of the state.

Wisconsin has a long, proud progressive heritage that goes beyond the Republican/Democrat divide. But the current government took its victory as a mandate to implement whatever changes they wanted. And they thought we wouldn't fight back. But we are proud, and we are scrappy. Those of you on the coasts may disdain Wisconsin as part of "flyover territory," but I betcha don't know that we have one of the best educational systems in the country, we were the first state to allow public workers to unionize, and we were the first state to outlaw discrimination against gays. And I don't know what the end result is going to be in all of this, but I do know this: Wisconsin progressives are a powerful force, and even if you knock us down, we will get back up over, and over, and over again. This fight is far from over. Bring it, Tea Party.

Oh, and by the way, to all of the WI legislators in favor of this bill: please go visit all your K-12 teachers and thank them for helping you get the education to get to this point in your career. And then explain to them why you want to cut their pay and steal their voice. But don't be surprised if you don't get a warm and fuzzy welcome.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


We both feel that Valentine's Day is a little silly, considering the overcrowded restaurants and the skyrocketed flower prices and the overall cheesyness. We mutually agreed that in honor of Frugality February (ha) we would not buy flowers or gifts, and in honor of not enjoying crazy overcrowded restaurants we would not go out to dinner.

But it sounds pretty lame to not celebrate our first married Valentine's Day, now doesn't it? We both got a kick out of buying Valentine's Day cards from the "wife" section (and I was happy to discover that, like wedding congratulatory cards, there are a surprising number of V-day "wife" cards that don't require a "husband"!) but weren't sure what else to do. In brainstorming over the weekend we joked about making it a computer free zone. And then we realized that that was actually the perfect non-commercial but right to the heart of what V-day is solution. We're both sort of internet addicts, and sometimes we're certainly guilty of paying too much attention to our computers and not enough attention to each other. So for one night we agreed that we would not pick up the ubiquitous laptops and would instead spend quality time with each other.

We cooked and ate dinner together as usual, and then sat down on the couch, sans computer, and worked on reading the pile of books about Greece that Becky brought home from the library! We stared lazily at pictures of sail boats on azure water and the tall white columns of Greek ruins, studied ferry and airplane timetables, and dreamed about our honeymoon. We didn't go on a proper honeymoon immediately after the wedding because the planning and the paying and the implementing of it was just too difficult to do at the same time as the wedding. Plus, we want to swim in some of that azure water, and we got married in November! It's really nice to have something else fun to look forward to now. I must admit that at the current moment we're both feeling more inspired by relaxing at the sea than learning about Greek mythology and archaeology, but regardless this post is dedicated to Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love.

Happy Valentine's Day, a day late!

P.S. Hot chocolate and cuddling in front of Modern Family DVDs was also enjoyed by all present, including our kitties (well, no cocoa for them)!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A low key weekend in the Jerz

We went into this weekend with basically nothing planned, which was a welcome change.

Last Thursday night Becky mentioned off hand that she turned down an invitation to a coworker's boyfriend's birthday party on Friday night. It wasn't starting until late and the location was not the most convenient for us. One of the unfortunate things about living in New Jersey is that it's really annoying to come home and then go back in to the city again. Which means that we almost always opt to stay in and wait if there's something else we want to do. After some joking back and forth about being old ladies and coming home to our cats we decided that Becky should rescind our refusal and accept the invitation.

And so, on Friday night, we had date night and then joined her coworker at a bar. For date night we first went to a movie on opening night. Oooh, exciting, right? What movie? Gnomeo and Juliet. Yep, for realz. We apparently have a strange thing for children's movies, judging by our date night and our DVD shelves. My verdict on Gnomeo and Juliet is that it would have made a really funny and cute Pixar short, but there was not nearly enough material for a feature length film. We then attempted to walk in to Dinosaur BBQ at 8pm on a Friday night. Bad idea. The wait was an hour and forty five minutes. Having nothing to do in that two hours and not wanting to be ridiculously late to the birthday party that inspired this madness, we left. Instead we traveled downtown and dined at another famous New York City restaurant, the 2nd Avenue Deli. It was decent, but not nearly as good as Dinosaur smelled. We're plotting a BBQ return in the near future, this time earlier and with more time to kill. We then meandered our way to the birthday party where we enjoyed not yet being old ladies! For one night anyways. The rest of the weekend was back to our usual ways.

Which means, we relaxed at home, watched some movies (Juno, which we own and I love! and Sex and the City 2, from Netflix, which was ridiculous and well, ridiculous.) , did laundry and dishes and cleaning, and did errands. We have been avoiding moving the car much since the snow is taking up several of the parking spots on our street, but we finally decided we needed to just go for it. Unfortunately we made this decision on Sunday, which meant that we had to go to a Target that we don't like as much. Yes, we've staked out all of the Targets within driving distance and have clear favorites. Our favorite Target is located in a county near us that has declared that stores in the entire county shall be forbidden to open on Sunday.

And now Becky is in the process of baking some bread pudding with brown sugar sauce for an end-of-weekend dessert. I bet you're jealous.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chocolate Makes Life Better

In reviewing our last few posts, I fear that any new readers may have gotten the wrong idea. I mean, I think it's clear from our posts that we are not particularly knowledgeable about football, but you might get the idea that we are rabid fans. Or just bizarrely obsessed. Well, okay, I may be bizarrely obsessed with the Packers. But the season is over, so you can pretty much bet that will disappear until sometime next fall when they happen to be playing someone in the northeast and therefore the game is televised here. Sports fans, we are not. So if you were about to write off our blog because we post too many nonsensical football liveblogs, please don't leave!

Believe it or not, we did other stuff this weekend that didn't involve the Super Bowl. Weekend recap girl seems to have worn herself out with liveblogging, so I'm here to report on Saturday's events. We spent part of the afternoon at our friend's house in Queens, hanging out with her and her two-year-old daughter. Saturday afternoon festivities involved gorging ourselves on chips and guacamole, and making homemade valentines out of construction paper and paper doilies. Carrie tried to pretend like hers was for Cricket, but then she caved and gave it to me after all.

For the sake of upbeatness, I will try to not dwell on the fact that getting to Queens took us almost two hours (should have taken one) and that much of that time was spent standing in miserable, cold, windy rain. I will also not dwell on the part where I cried in public (apparently complete and total exhaustion + cold and wet + just missing a train = Becky has a meltdown.)

Fortunately, the day did look up, we had lots of fun with them, and then we headed back to Manhattan to hit up the Hot Chocolate Festival at City Bakery. They have the most delicious hot chocolate I've ever tasted--it's like a melted candy bar with a little bit of cream thrown in for good measure. And they have homemade marshmallows. Saturday's flavor of the day was caramel, and we had to get some. I think maybe Saturday was a little too busy for them to keep up or something--the chocolate was tasty but not very caramelly and not all that warm. Fortunately, they redeemed themselves. I went back today (the place is only a couple blocks from my office--it's dangerous!) for Darkest Dark hot chocolate, and it was both delicious and hot. On an impulse, I also bought a package of a dozen marshmallows, which Carrie gave me a little crap for but then admitted they are delicious. Okay, they were still insanely overpriced...but delicious. And now we will have them to put in our own fancy hot chocolate at home this weekend!
Hot chocolate, marshmallows, delicious chocolatey cookie, and a pretzel croissant. Yum, yum, yum.
Carrie demonstrates the proper method for consuming hot chocolate

And now that I've told you about last weekend, it's nearly the weekend again! Hurrah!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Judgy Internet Commentators

As I have started to watch people close to me get pregnant or consider pregnancy, and we have started contemplating a future pregnancy, I’ve thought a lot about babies and pregnancy. Between the internet and real life I’ve gotten to know the stories of many people who have started families with varying degrees of medical assistance. And, as someone in a same-sex relationship, I’ve thought a lot about conception, pregnancy, and parenting with the added complications of fertility treatment, donor sperm, and a judgmental society.

A conversation I had today sent me hunting for this article that I stumbled upon at some point in the past. Apparently, in the UK at least, there are women who go through the whole process of IVF and then decide to have abortions. The article alleges that many of these abortions are elective and not inspired by health concerns or viability of the pregnancies. On a basic emotional level this sounds confusing and disturbing. Why would women pour so much money and time and emotional energy into becoming pregnant only to change their minds? A doctor quoted in the article calls each abortion a “tragedy” and some anonymous group of opinionated “family campaigners” apparently accused the “women of treating babies like ‘designer goods’.” The comments, like comments on many online articles, are mostly angry and judgmental.

It makes me crazy how one-dimensional and uninformed people, particularly on the internet, are about issues like this. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. I am pro-choice, but I admit that I have hesitations about abortion, and I can’t imagine ever having one myself (even in the case of an accidental pregnancy, although that obviously is not a concern where I am in life now.) But Nicholas Kristof informs me that worldwide allowing 100 selectively aborted female fetuses would prevent the deaths of 15 infant girls per year. And I've met several women who do not regret their decisions to have abortions (not sex-selective or after IVF, but in general). Of course there are a lot of difficult issues that need to be addressed concerning fertility treatments, and more so as the procedures get more invasive. Of course new family compositions require adjustment in unexpected ways.

But just because I would not make the same decision as you, it does not mean that whatever you want to do is nonsensical or should be illegal. Sometimes we need to be comfortable with “I don’t know” and with big grey areas where a solution is right in the case of one particular family but wrong in the case of another similar particular family. In some ways we need to lower our expectations of women to not expect new moms or potential new moms to have all of their complex emotions worked out. And in other ways we need to raise our expectations of women to accept that new moms and potential new moms are uniquely situated to sort out the emotional complexity of their own life situations. And when the reality is in the middle, and those moms need to have their emotions worked out in order to make life changing decisions but aren’t there yet, we as friends, sisters, social workers, doctors, etc. need to step up with services and support, not criticism.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Super Bowl - Now With Photos!

We were definitely not organized enough yesterday to compose blog entries that had both words AND pictures (translation: we were too lazy to download pictures off the camera), so here's a photo wrap-up of yesterday's events.

Carrie's lunchtime snakebite. Note the cooling black bottom cupcakes and vegetable chopping in the background. We were busy!

Making the shells for Broccoli Croustades. And yes, as a matter of fact, these are the same fashionable pajama pants I was sporting for my Zumba efforts.

Cupcakes: better with frosting.

Coffee table decor (note the easily accessible computer, for your liveblogging pleasure)

Cricket watches pre-game commentary from the safety of an inflatable helmet.

Kara keeping the deviled eggs safe.

The spread (featuring cupcakes, cheese/sausage, nachos, deviled eggs, and broccoli croustades--as green and yellow as we could get!)

The entire guestlist at our party (minus the cats)

And finally, a photo of the Empire State Building, all lit up in green and yellow tonight!

I hope all of you had an enjoyable weekend, whether or not you watched the Super Bowl!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Superbowl XLV

Welcome back!  The three of us have settled in on the couch with full plates of green and yellow foods and alcohol.  Even Kara managed to wear a green sweater in support of the Packers.  Go Pack Go!

Edited to add: For the record, this blog entry was once again written by Carrie but posted by Becky. 

We attempt to open the bottle of Asti.  It is difficult and I fail.

Kara: Do I have to use my brute strength?
Carrie: Are you strong?
Kara: Well, no.
Carrie: Ok.  You try then.

Kara:What is this?  The declaration of independence?
Carrie: I don't know, who is that with Colin Powell?
Kara: You're the political one.

Carrie: What is this, superbowl X L 5?
Becky: Can you please put THAT in the liveblog?

The Steelers look mean.  I keep forgetting there are people rooting for them.

Becky: Go Pack Go.

Becky: Christina Aguilera is signing the National Anthem?  That's disgusting.
Me: She actually looks kind of..normal.
Becky: It's kind of difficult to eat through the inflatable helmet.

Becky: What's Lea Michelle doing?  She's warming up the crowd!
Kar: Is she wearing PANTS?
Becky: Is that offensive to you?
Kara: I mean, well no.

Kara: That guy has a rug on his chin.  I mean, not Ben Roethlisberger.  The other guy.  It wasn't good.

Becky: What, no 9-11 flag stitched by tornado victims??
Carrie: Not a real sporting event people.
Becky: Are they cheering because she got the words right?
Kara: What just occurred?  That guy was NOT that hairy before.  Did he just like shove a rug on there, I don't understand?

Kara: Is this still the pre-game?

Kara: I need to release my pants. .....  Aaah.
Kara: He's in the hall of fame already?  He was a referee in X X X 5!

Carrie: I want them to interview Baji or Raji or whatever his name is. He's my favorite player.
Me: Silent stare
Carrie: What? At least I called him a player this time, not a character!

Carrie: It's very confusing to me that they're ALL wearing yellow pants!

Becky: His name is Zombo.
Kara: That's a good name.  I always pick the guys with the good names that I like.

Becky tells us the story of Donald Driver, after I accused her of not knowing who he was.  Apparently I was wrong.

Carrie: Seriously, look how hairy he is.
Kara: He's so hairy!

Kara: Oh, the game's back on, I can go to the bathroom.

Cupcakes are delicious, but the chocolate part is dry.  Becky and I agree that we probably should have cooked them a little bit shorter.  I have a mimosa.  Becky watches the game.

Kara:  Oh, oops, I buttoned my pants back up again.

Becky and Kara break out in song to The Blackeyed Peas halftime preview.

Becky: I hope the neighbors aren't planning to go to bed early tonight.

Dorritos make dead people come alive again.  Impressive.

INTERCEPTION!  TOUCHDOWN!  Becky didn't start yelling and we all wondered why.. turns out she was getting food.  But she caught it on the replay.
Carrie: There's a flag for excessive celebration??

Becky: I don't know who he is.  But I'm glad he's limping.  Hallefrickinglujah.
Kara: Where's the small animal on Roethelisberger?
Becky: That was someone else.

Carrie: Wait, Do they get points for that?
Becky: Yes, they kicked a field goal.
Then she points at the blog and insists that I record this interaction.

Carrie: Will you leave them [the Packers] if they mess it up?
Becky: Of course not.  I have a life long commitment to them, just like I have to you.
Aw, true love.

Cute VW commercial with a little kid being Darth Vader.  Becky declares that it would make more sense if she had seen the movies.

Oh noez.  Becky's guy is leaving the field.  Poor Mr. Driver!
Kara: Quad injury.  I still don't really know what quads are.

Kara: How long does it, like, take these guys to get in to their pants?
Kara: Well, they're just like, so tight.  They're like Olivia Newton John getting sewn in in Grease?

Carrie: That should be an excessive celebration flag!!  Lame!

I think  when Becky liveblogs there's probably more information about the actual game.  But I think the Packers just intercepted.

Touchdown!  Woot.

Carrie: Another one of your guys is injured, Becky!
And then Woodson is slow to get up
Carrie: Is he important?
Becky: I don't know.  But I've heard of him.
They docs check him out while Kara tells a story about her cat throwing up in her bed.
Becky: He's back on the field, we're okay.

Steelers touchdown.  Saddie.
Becky: In case you were confused, they get points for that too.

Hm, the commentator just commented that the entire Packers defensive line is in the locker room.  Jokes about quickies and orgies ensued.

Half time!  Also, Kara farted.

This Blackeyed Peas thing is like Matrix meets Michael Jackson meets KISS.  Kara says it's the first time in a long time it hasn't been someone old.  So "this is, like, ground breaking or something."  The shoulder pads on the girl are particularly disturbing.  Becky and Kara are now reflecting on the fact that we have somehow become old.

8:14  My sister IMs me:
Jen:  hm... your later blog entries make me ponder how much alcohol has been consumed since I last spoke with you.
I read this to Kara and Becky.  Kara replies, "It's just that I'm feeling comfortable with you, to share all of my thoughts!"
Is Usher really saying Oh My Gosh?  Really?

Sean inquires via Jen via IM how many dozen broccoli puffs we ate.  I sent Becky to check.  The verdict?  26.  Total, not dozen.
There's a commercial for the Glee commercial.  And Kara declares that she might be able to re-button her pants.

I did some internet research and learned that the Pittsburgh Rug is named Brett Keisel.  In case you wanted to know.

Becky, giving her guys a peptalk: Guys, you've managed to accrue 35 yards of penalties in the last 2 minutes.  Don't shoot yourself in the foot.

The Packers got cocky.  Touchdown for Steelers.  And now Kara has to get agitated, despite the fact that she doesn't care.

Becky: Somebody was wearing a Favre jersey!
Carrie: Wait....who?
Becky: Not on the field you dummy.

Becky: I think Kara might be right.  If they were wearing underwear you'd be able to see the lines.
Kara: Well I think they're wearing cups.
Becky: I should hope so!
Kara: Maybe it's like a cup-underwear combo.

The mood is somber.  Becky's guys are not doing very well.

Becky: I'm tired of getting my own drinks. This bar needs a waitress.
Carrie gets Becky a drink
Carrie: Only cuz your team's doing crap.

Carrie: There's more eggs, Kara.
Kara: That's alright. My pants are feelin' okay.

Becky: Run run run.
Kara: Run fast not slow!

Becky: Sorry, I farted.
Kara: About time somebody else did!
Carrie: We're so going to regret this liveblog.

WOOO!!!! Touchdown!

Nnnooooo........... touchdown Pittsburgh.  And a 2-point conversion.  :(

Becky: Hairy man is back.

Carrie talks crap about Green Bay Packers.
Angry Becky: Clap for Tinkberbell.  
Kara: What does that mean?  I never saw Peter Pan.
Becky: What kind of Disney employee are you?

Carrie: Kick him in the teeth!
Kara: It's always fun to say anything "in the teeth."
Becky: Number 37.  Jazz hands??  Are you getting ready for Glee??

Kara: Oh my gosh.  Seconds are so long.  In football anyway.

Did they get it, did they get it?  They got it!  Becky's guys did it!  YAY!!

YELLOW PANTS WIN THE SUPERBOWL!  That's a good end to the first season of football I ever watched.  Congratulations Wisconsin.  Congratulations Becky.  Congratulations the real Yellow Pants.

And now time for Glee.  But I will not liveblog that.

Superbowl Preparation Liveblog

Welcome to Superbowl Sunday at our house! I asked Becky if she would liveblog this event for us, as we've all come to expect such high quality comentary throughout this football season. She declined, and informed me that she cares too much about the game to liveblog it. And thus I was appointed family liveblogger of the day. Forgive me, for this is my first attempt! Not to appear overeager in my first attempt, but I decided that I would try to one up Becky and bit and not only liveblog the event itself but also the madness leading up to it. An event as momentous as the Superbowl deserves no less.

10:04am IM conversation with my sister:
Jen: who's coming to your party?
me: kara
Jen: wait. just kara?
me: yes
Jen: funny
me: yes
Jen: she sorted the M&Ms and made decorated cupcakes and stuff just for you and kara?
me: yes
Jen: ok

Becky: I just realized your mom’s recipe for the broccoli and cheese things makes four dozen. I wish I would have thought of that when we were buying the ingredients.

Becky asks me to make her some breakfast, because she just took Exederin migraine. Quote, “unless you want to see me go real crazy.”

A long break in which I make some quick breakfast and we both cook and clean and generally pick up. This basically means I spent an hour sorting advertisements and credit card offers into the recycling bin. And Becky swears a lot at the people who wrote the cupcake recipe and neglected to list “water” in the ingredient list, which she eventually learned by googling. Much stress, but delicious looking cupcakes appear. And an oversized bag of recycling.

I realize, mid-sandwich-making, that I stopped vacuuming in the middle of the rug to make lunch. I then forget my sandwich mid-sandwich in order to change the laundry. I decide that this is a hilarious clear sign that it’s time to have a Snakebite (Strongbow hard cider with Ribena).

I inquired whether I was allowed to eat potato chips for lunch or if they were reserved for the party. Becky informed me she was not a food nazi and then said:
Becky: “I think we may have an excessive amount of food at this party.”
Carrie: “I think you’re the first person to notice that.”
Cooking continues. Also, I nominate myself to be on the decorating committee and put out the coffee table decorations. This includes yellow napkins, two different sizes of green and yellow confetti stars, football confetti, and a candy tray (wedding present alert!) filled with the famous green and yellow m&ms (peanutbutter and plain) and Milky Ways.
Becky: Oh no, I have extra frosting! Extra frosting alert!
Carrie: Ooh, I can help with that!

Becky: Well, even if the others [cupcakes] completely fail, these look AWESOME.

Carrie and Kara text back and forth regarding Kara's anticipated early arrival, as she is apparently coming straight from brunch.
Me: Better make space fast cuz we've got food. :)
Kara: Haha I know don't worry. Am tipsy already though
Me: Nice. We've got beer and mimosas.
Kara: Haha mimosa number 5.

This is shaping up to be a good party people. I'm going to take a break from the day-of liveblog and catch you on the flip side!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I'm burned out, but my baked goods aren't!

Sadly, it seems that Despair, Inc's designs are not covered by the good ol' Creative Commons license, but I'd ask you all to take a moment to check out this de-motivational poster for a sense of where I'm at today.

Funny stuff, eh?

To be fair, I'm not quite to that point yet, but I am feeling pretty exhausted. One of the women in my office will be going on maternity leave soon, and I'll be covering many of her duties while she's gone. Fortunately, someone else in my office will then be covering many of my duties, so I shouldn't be stuck entirely in the situation of trying to do two jobs at once. It's a really great opportunity for me, and in many ways I'm really excited for it. I'll get a chance to work in some areas that I'm not currently involved in and fill in some gaps that I feel are missing on my resume right now. But with any new challenge comes new stresses, and the weight of all of those new challenges is suddenly hitting me. I'm also in the midst of training for that position, organizing training materials and training the person who will be covering much of my work, and trying to do all of my regular work at the same time. Yesterday I sat down and plotted out all of my meetings and training times on my calendar, and I discovered that I have about 4 hours free in the next week--to do 35+ hours of work. Yikes.

It certainly doesn't help matters that I'm a bit of a workaholic. Even without all of this crazy added stress, I'm usually at work much later than I need to be. And to some degree, this is pretty common in my field, but I absorb much more work stress than is healthy. I need to find a way to A. be more efficient while I'm at work and B. learn to tell my supervisors when I've reached my limits (instead of smiling and saying "No problem, I'm not sure when I'll have time for this, but I'll make it happen.")

All of this stress has led to a near explosion of baked goods in my kitchen. Some people stress eat. I am one of them. But in particular, I get cravings for baked goods, and homemade is always better than store-bought. So apparently I also stress bake. In the past two weeks, I've made two pans of brownies (one was tonight, so they should last a bit yet), peanut butter chip cookies (those went to work, so we were saved from ourselves), and a batch of butterscotch/chocolate chip cookies. We are suddenly remarkably low on chocolate chips, butter, eggs, and flour. I'm not sure how that happened...

If you're looking for a good brownie recipe, I would highly recommend these Extreme Chocolate Brownies, which I made tonight. The first step is a little putzy, but not hard, I promise. (Okay, third step I guess. If preheating the oven and greasing the pan are too difficult for you, please put down the recipe and go buy some brownies in the bakery at your local grocery store.)

How do you deal with work stress? Any tips to share? Or any recipes for chocolate baked goods?