Thursday, October 28, 2010

:::I Live On the Hell Mouth:::

Today is the 28th of October, 2010.

We are 36 days into Fall.

There are 28 days until Thanksgiving, two months until Christmas. 
It is 80 degrees outside.

The humidity was in the 90s this week.

It's been like this for most of the month.

And drum roll please...
They turned off the air conditioning three weeks ago. 


I don't believe in cold anymore. I don't believe that it was ever cold here, or that it will ever be cold again.

Monday, October 25, 2010

:::A Series of 'Are You Kidding Me?' Events:::

1. Today at work I realized that I still hadn't returned some books that we didn't need to the publisher. West has a 45 day return policy, and the 45th day was on Saturday. Fun times. I got to spend my lunch hour strongly discussing the situation with a customer support rep. Living here has made me much more assertive. Also, my behind was on the line.

Once the situation was finally resolved, I spent the rest of the hour packaging the books and putting together a FedEx pickup because I had to get everything back to them within 10 days or we wouldn't be credited. Blurg. Double blurg. I couldn't risk messing with the USPS. I wonder how much that shipment is going to cost us.

2. There were too many people on the platform tonight for the first train that I take, so I couldn't make it into any of the cars. Thankfully, I got on to the second train that came.

When I got to my transfer station, the board said that the next three trains coming were all for my line. At some point, however, those trains magically changed color into the other line. All three of them. Seriously?

I decided to take the train in the opposite direction because I had a wait ahead of me and there were no free benches on the platform. Plus, there's a better chance of getting a seat if I take the train to the next stop up the line, then catch my train down from there.

3. The escalator at my home station was out of order. I had to w-a-l-k up the equivalent of like five flights of stairs at a steady clip without stopping. My legs were jelly by the end and I almost collapsed three steps before the top. Seriously? Breathing wasn't too much of an issue, thank goodness.

4. When I was right outside the gate to my complex I realized that I had left my keys at the office. NO!!! My worst fear realized. I was able to sneak through the gate with a group of people, then follow them into the building. We have electronic cards that we have to swipe at both points.

Once inside I ran over to the office, but it looked like no one was there. When I finally saw someone, I tapped on the glass and made a key turning motion. The lady shook her head no. BLURG! They have a policy that they don't do after hours lockouts, but it was like 3 minute 'til! I stood there stunned, then started rifling through my bag again to double check that my keys weren't there.

She eventually came back and mouthed for me to go stand by the maintenance office. When she opened the door she agreed to give me a key so I could go unlock my apartment, saving me an expensive call to a locksmith, or a panicked call to a friend for a couch to crash on. This is why I'm always soooooo nice to landlords.

I ran upstairs, unlocked my door, grabbed some tape and covered the lock catch (learned that at BYU), triple checked to make sure that all my locks were unlocked, then ran back downstairs and turned the key in.

I would have gone back to the office to get my keys, but the electronic key that I need to get into the building, make the elevator work, and get past the security door upstairs is, you guessed it, on my key ring, which is on my desk.

I'm hoooome now, sitting on my couch, eating eggs and potatoes. What a weird day. I was in a rare, 'It is what it is, just roll with it,' mood throughout all the transportation and key issues. I credit this to my new iPod and the three relaxation CDs that I loaded onto it this morning. Ah...goodbye commuting stress and chest pains.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

:::Cooking Apps:::

Man, I am loving this iPod. I've downloaded just a few apps, my two favorite so far being Martha Stewart's Everyday Food, and Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. Last night I stopped by Safeway after I got off the metro, connected to their wi-fi network*, and found a simple, quick, and delicious pasta recipe from Martha.

Spaghettini with Lemon Zest and Chives

Serves 4
  • 1 pound spaghettini, or thin spaghetti (I used linguine and it worked very well. In fact, I think it worked better than thin spaghetti would.)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 stick butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup ricotta salata cheese, or Parmesan, coarsely grated
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, or scallion greens, thinly chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • My sinful addition -- 1 egg to add to lemon sauce


1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook 1 pound of spaghettini, or thin spaghetti, until al dente according to package instructions.
2. Grate the zest of 1 lemon into a large pasta bowl. Juice the lemon, and add juice to the bowl. Stir in 1 stick butter, cut into small pieces, and 1 cup coarsely grated ricotta salata cheese or Parmesan.
  • 2a. If you decide to add the egg, first scramble it in a separate bowl, then temper it with a ladle or two of the boiling pasta water. Then, add to lemon sauce. When the hot pasta is poured on top of the sauce, it will finish cooking egg.
3. Add drained pasta to lemon sauce, and sprinkle in 2 tablespoons thinly chopped fresh chives or scallion greens. Season with salt and pepper. Toss well, and serve.

I ate some of the leftovers today for lunch with the addition of some grilled chicken and a couple tomatoes. Reheat the pasta in a pan over low heat, then toss in the chicken and diced tomatoes. Yum.

This evening I made the most delicious Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Pancakes based on a variation of Mark Bittman's Basic Pancake recipe.

Basic Pancakes

Think of this as a nice, old fashioned pancake recipe that your grandma would have kept tucked in her recipe box on a faded index card.These pancakes weren't too light or too heavy, and cooked beautifully. I hate pancakes that are too light and foamy, but the hockey puck type aren't preferable either. This is my new go-to recipe.

Serves 4

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 or 2 eggs
  • 1½ to 2 cups milk
  • 2 Tbsp. melted and cooled butter (optional), plus unmelted butter for cooking, or use oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (optional)

For Chocolate-Chocolate Chip variation add the following to the dry mixture --

  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 handful of chocolate chips

1. Preheat a griddle or large skillet over medium-low heat while you make the batter.

2. Mix together the dry ingredients. Beat the egg(s) into 1½ cups of milk, then stir in the 2 tablespoons melted cooled butter and vanilla (if you are using them). Gently stir this into the dry ingredients, mixing only enough to moisten the flour; don’t worry about a few lumps. If the batter seems thick, add a little more milk.

3. If your skillet or griddle is nonstick, you can cook the pancakes without any butter. Otherwise, use a teaspoon or two of butter or oil each time you add batter. When the butter foam subsides or the oil shimmers, ladle batter onto the griddle or skillet, making any size pancakes you like. Adjust the heat as necessary; usually, the first batch will require higher heat than subsequent batches. The idea is to brown the bottom in 2 to 4 minutes, without burning it. Flip when the pancakes are cooked on the bottom; they won’t hold together well until they’re ready.

4. Cook until the second side is lightly browned and serve, or hold on an ovenproof plate in a 200-degrees oven for up to 15 minutes.

 My favorite thing about having these recipe apps is that it will help me avoid wandering around the market trying to figure out what I could possibly make for dinner. The funny thing is that last week I thought that I should print out a few go-to recipes to keep in my wallet, but now that I have my iPod I have a variety of recipes at my disposal!

I've heard good things about Epicurious's app, so I'll be sure to check that out soon.

Hope your weekend is going well.

*Martha's Everyday Food app requires internet access to run. I don't think Mark Bittman's app does, which is awesome.

Monday, October 18, 2010

:::A Great Thing:::

Sometimes vendors will come to the firm to do training sessions or introduce product launches. If it's a product launch, they bring stuff for us -- pens, mousepads, water bottles, flash drives, etc. They want us to sign up for their new service, so they try and butter us up.

Westlaw came today with ice cream and a raffle. One of our partners won a laptop case.

I didn't want the laptop case.

Here is my story.

At the beginning of the meeting I carefully wrote my name on an entry slip, rolled it up as neatly as I could, and dropped it in the jar. I said a silent prayer and pleaded to Heavenly Father for a badly needed tender mercy, a break in the gray.

Suddenly, I knew what I needed to do on my end. I had to make a promise. I had to promise to do something, and I knew what that something was. It was already in my mind, as clear as day, so I said it, I made that promise. Then I whispered amen, and tried to focus my positive energy. It's the same set of steps each time I know Someone is about to step in and bend the course of fortune for me.

But I was still nervous. I could feel the delicate threads of fate dancing in the air, brushing against my face like teasing whispers. One prayer, two prayers, three. Please let this go my way. I need something like this. You know how it's been lately. Please.

My hands were fidgeting, which led my nervous fingers to land on one of our account rep's business cards. In that very instant, I knew what I had to do to seal the deal. With the tips of my fingers on the front of the business card, I swept it towards me, turned it over, grabbed one of the free pens spread out on the table, and wrote my promise on the back.

Then I tucked it under my camisole, right above my heart.

Then I prayed again, and waited.

I won.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

:::From the Drafts Folder -- Just Believe and Believe:::

I'm not sure why I never pushed the publish button on this one. It seems to be complete to me.

I wish I could say that I feel this confident and secure today. Things rolled down hill fairly quickly after I wrote this and haven't really picked up yet.


Originally written on August 19, 2009

Some quick thoughts that I'm not going to smooth out and make glossy, or entirely readable for that matter.

I ate lunch with my Mormon friend at work today. We have both read (I'm so close to finishing) Sister Oaks's book A Single Voice. It is the very best of books and I encourage you, whatever situation you find yourself in, to read it. It is a book all women should read.

Well, we got to talking about marrying later in life, plus marrying a widower, and I said, "I don't think I could handle being a step mom to grown children who don't really need a mother mother anymore. I don't think I could walk into another woman's family and try to carve out a place for myself." This is something that most single women fear. We don't want to feel like we're sloppy seconds, or the poor man's fill-in-the-blank, or that we have to share a man since we weren't good enough for a husband of our own when all the regular or blessed people were getting married. We're afraid to show up on the other side of the veil and have the first wife look us up and down and say, 'Go back to the little league, sweetheart.'

So that's one of the things that single women worry about when we're worrying about being single.

But then, here's the thing that my friend and I have realized-- As we've started moving towards the end of our 20s, being single doesn't feel that awful anymore. In fact, maybe it isn't awful, just difficult. We've transitioned to this point because now our testimonies are stronger, we have a firmer grasp on the reality of eternal blessings, and we have a better understanding of the purpose of life and Heavenly Father's love for His children. All these things have calmed us down.

Add to that the fact that we've reached a point where we aren't at our first jobs anymore, we're starting to get a small taste of what it's like to be an adult with the salary of a grown-up full-time job, and we see that there are a million great opportunities, expectations, and freedoms that we have because of it.

Anyhow, my friend and I were talking about this unforeseen shift in attitude, and I said, "After a certain point, like, 50, I just don't know if I would see the point in getting married anymore." I didn't say it with bitterness, but in a ruminating sort of, 'why would that option be attractive to me?' sort of way. Think of who I would be by then! Meaning that after I'm out of my childbearing years, and after I've spent so long building and living my own life, and considering that I would be closer to the end of my life than the beginning, would I really want to switch gears so drastically just to become someone's second wife for a few years, then face an unknown set of circumstances in the hereafter?
What my friend said back hit me square in the heart, and I knew that her words were true and that I needed to spend some time thinking about their significance. She said, "True, but you don't know what you'll feel like at 50."

And that is the point. I don't know what I'll feel like at 5o. I had no idea that I would feel the way I feel at 27, no idea at all.

Doctrine and Covenants 98:12 -- For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith.

This is a beautiful concept. At 27 I know what I need to know. At 50 I will know what 50 requires. Do you see why this is so great? We will always be prepared for what we need to do. The situations that frighten me now won't necessarily frighten me later in life.

This is the meaning behind my friend's words -- any time that we're doing something that God ordains, it will bring us happiness, and anytime we are part of something that God ordains, we can be hugely happy in a way that we can't understand right now. It's like trying to conceptualize heaven. Sometimes I look at beautiful landscapes and wonder how you could possible improve upon what we have here. But as my sister told me once, you just have to believe that the next life is amazingly better, even though we have no way of seeing it now. You just have to believe because it's true, we just don't have the capacity to understand the fullness of it yet.

If you read Sister Oaks's book, you could not deny that the woman is over-the-moon ecstatic about her life. She doesn't feel cheated or sad because of what she missed out on in this blip of mortality because the deepest desires of her heart are wrapped up in her faith in the Savior. She knows that every good thing will come her way at some point in a future that isn't as far away as we imagine it to be.

That's the point. Done and done.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

:::Have You Eaten Recently?:::

Because my family told me that these pictures almost made them vomit. Got the same reaction on Monday when I showed off my cool new bruise to everyone at work.

This is what happens when bags of potatoes are on sale buy one get one free, and so are bags of onions, and you have to carry all four bags home along with a gallon of milk, some canned goods, a blender, and some other things that you need for a small dinner party the next day.

My best guess is that as the bags started slipping off of my right shoulder, the weight of the groceries puuuuulled and stretched one of my veins until....snap.