Sunday, June 28, 2009

Celebrity Death Match

My post today is about Celebrity Deaths. My post yesterday was about infomercials. Is it a little freaky that Billy Mays, the most famous infomercial pitchman died today? I'm wondering if MTV will be running Mighty Mend-it, Orange Glo, OxiClean, and Mighty Putty commercials in between their MJ videos. I mean, if you're going to pay tribute to an icon, you better be all-inclusive.

Anyway, after this week's higher-than average number of celebrity deaths, my boss decided to hold a trivia contest. We do these contests periodically to get the brain juices flowing and so she can rid herself of prizes/junk from her office drawers. She gave us a list of 7 celebs and we had to guess how old they were when they died. Here's the quiz and answers:

  1. Elvis-42
  2. Farrah Fawcett-62
  3. Marilyn Monroe-36
  4. JFK-46
  5. Anna Nicole Smith-39
  6. Richard Nixon-81
  7. Bonus question asking the character names of all 3 original Charlie's Angels-Sabrina, Jill, Kelly. Unfortunately, all 5 of us contestants are 32 or younger, so no one had even a clue.
After the first round, co-worker J and I were tied, having both earned 3 points (for being the closest to the actual age on 3 people). The only one I got completely correct was Nixon. Is it that obvious that I'm a red-blooded Republican? Not foreseeing this possibility, my boss retreated to her office to come up with a tie-breaker round we dubbed "Sudden Death". Empathy and tact are not our strong points.

The first question was Jim Morrison-27. I was a few years off, so J took that one. I redeemed myself on #2, though, when I got Heath Ledger exactly correct at 28. So now we're tied 1-1. #3 was Brad Renfo. Neither of us had any clue who he was, when he died or even if he was 20 or 80, so we mutually agreed to throw that one out. So it all came down to the final question. And who was it?

(Or Two-Pack Shaker as my 50-yr-old boss pronounced it before being corrected by S).

J guessed 33. I guessed 27. And the answer is....25!

Here is your prize, coming to a White Elephant Christmas Gift Exchange near you!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

As Seen on TV

First, a confession.

I have coveted a GT Xpress 101 for the better part of a year now. I have pridefully applauded myself for doing some research first and not acting on this urge, but I have secretly wondered if my overall lifestyle and general happiness wouldn't be greatly improved my this magic cooking device. What with its deep non-stick wells and hinged lid that cooks omelets to perfection but then turns around and delivers a stunning Pan-Blackened Swordfish with Sun-Dried Tomato Mayonnaise, topped off with an "Almost Instant" Coconut Custard Pie, I can just imagine the bliss of a full week's worth of half-moon-shaped delicacies.

Imagine my delight when a co-worker casually mentioned a crazy cooking device her Grandma had purchased off TV and that she was the recipient of the BONUS 2nd GRILL. (Warning: You cannot actually order just one of these things, you have to get two and pay $14.95 shipping on the second one). She had no plans to ever use this gift, mostly because she hates eggs, doesn't have the ingredients in the house to make much else, and unlike me, does not care to store every cooking gadget known to man in her kitchen...and pantry...and basement. She offered to me, free of charge, none other than the GT Xpress 101 with 3 recipe books (I already had the easy-shaker), on the condition that if said Grandma ever came to visit her, I may have to loan it back to her for a day or two so as not to hurt her feelings.

I couldn't pass it up. Now I feel an obligation to give this magical meal-making device a whole-hearted try. So, after sleeping in an embarrassingly long time this morning, I decided to try the Western Vegetable Omelet. Ten minutes of chopping, mixing, measuring, and shaking later, I poured the mixture into the 2 wells, watched the lid rise after 10 minutes of cooking, and proudly delivered the results to DH.

The verdict? The omelet was good and it motivated me to use all the leftover peppers and onions from last week's fajitas, but I'm thinking it will be reserved for weekend breakfasts as I'm never on the ball enough to have breakfast cooking a full 10 minutes before heading out the door. On second thought, the results of most of the breakfast recipes do look drive-worthy (or more so than oatmeal or Golden Grahams), so I might try some more out.

I'm committed to trying out a few more things, so I'll let you know what other adventures in convenience cooking I take on.

Florentine Chicken Pinwheels, here I come

Friday, June 26, 2009

I think it really helps detract from the steel gold siding.

My Grandma has a green thumb-she has beautiful flowers and plants both inside and outside her house. I supposed my dad inherited some of this, but he tends to focus on corn, beans, and alfalfa rather than spider plants and day lilies. My older sister loves to putz with plants indoors and out and has claimed to have spent weeks deciding exactly which annuals to put in her window boxes. She also determinedly keeps alive a stub of a cactus that once belonged to my great-grandmother, a sentiment I admire, but really think is a little too much responsibility for me. Even with the great green-thumb gene, I can honestly claim I have not one plant in my entire house, living, dead, or otherwise.

In tribute to my grandma, and to spruce up the lovely 60's-gold color of our house, I do plant some flowers in a half-whiskey barrel every year, using my birthday money. After two disasterous tries at a hanging basket for the back deck, I've officially given up on that. This year I did spring for a small pot on the back deck, replacing my usual $8 palm-tree-looking-thing from the Walmart parking lot. Since DH spent 4 summers landscaping, we also have a few perennials (took me 4 tries to spell that correctly) that bloom about this time of year. Since I've been meaning to learn how to do a photo collage, you are being blessed/bored with the following visual report of our current blooms.
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Monday, June 22, 2009

25.5 Weeks

Quick picture now that I finally got around to taking one. I'm 2 days short of 26 weeks here, so it's almost the end of the second trimester! Baby is quite active-usually at least 2 longer periods of activity each day, but it is comforting to feel and doesn't hurt. I can actually see my shirt move sometimes with all the kicking! Maternity clothes are becoming more and more necessary, so picking out something to wear in the morning is getting to be a hassle.

I've been feeling okay most of the time. Tired a lot, sick sometimes, and not really handling the heat and humidity as well as I'd like. Quite a bit of heartburn, but I know better than complain when my diet regularly includes spicy Mexican food, chocolate, and ice cream! I get hungry so often, but feel so full right away, especially when I eat fruit. Some of my recent cravings have included the Pot Roast Sandwich at Culver's (had one before the baseball game this week and it was amazing), cheese and summer sausage with crackers, oatmeal chocolate chip cake with ice cream, and tonight...good old Kraft mac 'n cheese, which I have eaten exactly twice in the past 4 years. I tried to feel more grown up my throwing in some steamed broccoli, but it's hard to feel older than 5 when your macaroni is shaped like dinosaurs.

We haven't done much more nesting except scoring a free dresser from my parent's basement (don't worry, there are at least 2 left to chose from if anyone needs one) and fitting it into the closet without taking off the door--I am all about the "tip and tilt" method! I am still searching for crib bedding so I can move on with decorating, but just haven't found anything I like yet. A vacation to the Twin Cities in a few weeks may turn into a big shopping trip (yuck!) but it would be nice to be done decorating by the end of the summer.

DH is finishing his last class this week and then he'll have 2 months of summer before they start up again. I think the summer will go fast for him, slow for me!

Also, today:


We really aren't the type to keep track of this sort of thing, but after a checkup at the vet today, we discovered it was her birthday today! After hearing last year that she was the "healthiest beagle they ever saw", we were disappointed, but not surprised, to hear that our little beagle is getting a little tubby. (And we can't even use the excuse that she is "big-boned" because she actually has very fine features.) She is a little over a pound over what she should weigh, so we're going to keep better track of how much we feed her. I'd like to say we'll walk her more, but between the rain, the hot sun (she seeks out and rolls in the first shade she can find), my sciatica, and our schedules, it has not been happening as regularly as it should and I don't see that getting better real soon. Maybe once DH is back from school and she decides to be a little more ambitious at night than just moving from the couch to the floor in her chronic napping position.

I'll try to take pictures more often than every 6 weeks, so check back!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What's in a Name?

For some people, one of the most exciting things about waiting for baby is picking out a name. Some parents rely on old family names, some go for traditional names, some base it solely on the meaning and origin, and some insist on picking something unique, unusual, or witty. Most parents have their child's best interest at heart, but it's hard not to raise an eyebrow at other choices. Case in point: the Sanford Cradle Roll recently posted a lovely little girl named...wait for it...Araya Sunshine. I think they took "Don't Worry, Be Happy" a little too seriously. But, okay, man, peace out.

There are plenty of sites out there providing lists, search engines, and even random generators regarding baby names. But little attention is given to one of my family's favorite past times: naming pets. Our dogs growing up were Zonker and Tanza (whom we also called Taco, Bear, Fobby, and the uber-descriptive but impersonal "Dog"). My sister and mom have been known to spend all of 3 days pondering the perfect name of a beta fish. A multitude of farm cats have had the widest range of names possible. Some were entirely unimaginative, like Midnight, Lucky, and Happy. Some sound better when you hear the whole litter together: Gigi, Guzy, Kirby, and Mr. Sancho. There was a pure black cat named Boo and a pure white cat named Boker. She may have met her match in a snowplow (did I mention she was pure white?) and mothered a gray kitten that looked suspiciously like her brother, Louie, but she had one heck of a name.

When my husband and I decided to get our beagle a few weeks after moving into our first house, we knew we needed to find the perfect name. I really wanted "Hondo", but after picking out a female dog, we decided maybe a something less Samuel L. Jackson-ish was in order. My mom, DH, and I decided we would all think about a name on the day we were scheduled to pick her up and then compare notes at the end of the day. To our surprise, we had all come up with one common name on our lists---Nika [nee-kah]. It turned out to be the perfect name for our dog, but it is, of course, not all we call her. Here are some other names she may or may not respond to:
  • Nikster [neek-stir]
  • Nikerbocker
  • Pukster [pook-stair] (can also be used a a verb, like "Quit pukstering around out there!"
  • Nika Puka Maka (we once had 2 fish named Puka and Maka, just so we could say the 3 in combination)
  • Stinky Ears (obvious reasons)
  • The Laziest Lazy (also obvious)
  • Nika Fuku Moto (her Iron Chef name)
  • Heinz (heavy on the German accent, after an unfortunate ketchup incident)
  • Derg (but only in plural, like "Let's take the dergs for a walk," referring to cousin Milo, who also goes by "Mahalo" and "Stink"
Just for fun, I plugged her name into some online name generators.

First, Pirate names (because really, who needs a traditional Dutch name? We just haven't raised a Wilhelmina here, people.) First result was Nona Misty Summer, but that is a pansy pirate name compared to Betty Flog'em. I think Dry Bone Bronson is a little too masculine. Wong Long Tongue is freakishly descriptive, especially since they didn't know it was a dog. My favorite so far is Wilma Peg Leg.

Moving onto Gansta names (because her street cred suffered some major damage after cowering to bunnies and being startled by blowing grocery bags). Mad Cow Train Jumpa isn't bad, but it is scary how accurate Dark Streetwalker is, in a literal sense. I think Lil' Phreak Legend may go to her head, plus I am fundamentally against purposely misspelling names. Something about Ice Mandingo makes me laugh-like does that mean you're a "cool dog" in an Australian gang?

Here's a few others:
And perhaps, my favorite of the day:
In case you're curious, yes, we do have both a girl's name and a boy's name picked out, but no, neither will involve anything related to peg legs or tubby bottoms.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Trending Topics

I've been a casual Twitterer for a few weeks now, and my favorite part (besides following the banter between IAmKellyFierce / Kelly Kapoor and veRY_ANgelic / Ryan Howard) are the trending topics. This is where someone starts a hashtag followed by a topic and people tweet their answers. You have to follow your answer with the hashtag code so it is easy to find. A few of the recent topics have been:

  • My tweet: "You make my heart skype a beat"
  • My faves (and the only ones not grossly inappropriate):
  • My name's Vista. Can I crash at your place tonight?
  • I less than 3 you (I <3>
  • Girl, I know your data is safe, cause you know how to back that thang up
  • I wish I was a tangent, so i could lay adjacent to your curves!
  • Can you hit Ctrl+Alt+Del? Because I froze when I saw you!
  • You auto-complete me.

  • My tweet: The ability to remember the tonnage price of manilla envelopes (Jim pondered the usefulness of this on The Office)
  • I also couldn't resist replying to the girl who said she could repeat all 50 states in alphabetical order in 60 seconds by claiming I can do it in 18 seconds. Hey, if you can't brag to total strangers on twitter, who else is going to not care about this amazing ability I possess?
  • My faves:
  • the ability to see 1 second into the future
  • the ability to shoot ketchup from your fingertips, but only underwater
  • the ability to smell unscented candles
  • the ability to put your pants on both legs at a time
  • the ability to perpendicular park
  • the ability to fall asleep when in danger
  • visibility
  • My tweet: Economically Challenged Winner (Slumdog Millionaire) and Harry Potter and the Teacup of Chai (Goblet of Fire)
  • My faves:
  • The Slow and the Easily Befuddled
  • Star Peace Episode V: The Empire Offers Concessions
  • Star Disagreement Episode V: The Empire Sends a Strongly-Worded Missive
  • Star Passive Agressive V: The Rightfully Elected Democratic Government Obtains UN Sanction Support
  • Star Wars Episode One: The Family Dentist
  • Mission Implausible
  • O Brother, I Found Thee
  • Slightly In Need Of Dermabrasion Face
  • The Height-Weight Proportional Lebowski
  • Interview with an Umpire
  • Lady and the Unfortunate Homeless Dude
  • Napoleon Sparkler
Do you recognize all of the "real" movie titles? Leave a comment with any additions to these topics!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Long Time No Write. Big Time Belly Grow.

So, we're cruisin' through this pregnancy thing at 24.5 weeks now and everything seems to be progressing well. Tests have all been negative. That's a good thing, in case you are Michael Scott and spent your birthday depressed because Kevin got a "negative" skin cancer test. (a reference to "the office" for all you non-Dunder Mifflinites). Negative means no anemia, no gestational diabetes, no problems with the baby so far! Morning sickness lingers but has decreased in frequency and severity. It has been mostly replaced by a lovely case of sciatica, but I'm not going to dwell on that because it's on the same level as complaining about denture paste and the grandkids who never come visit at "the home".

Speaking of's a funny (and true) story my FIL told me this weekend. One of the members of his congregation was in the hospital waiting room, not feeling so well, but was overhearing another patient discuss her upcoming colonoscopy with the doctor. After having several questions answered about how to prepare for the procedure, the lady asked "What about my dentures?" The doc replied, "Lady, if I hit your dentures, I've gone too far." haha!

In other news, we were so excited to get to meet my nephew, Lincoln, last weekend. He is a sweetie and looks just like his sister, something that's cute at 3 weeks, maybe he'll want to grow out of by 16. My niece is just as fiesty as ever and has several funny things to say. One of them being that when we asked her how she liked her dinner, she declared "It's a taste sensation!" We had a battle of the wills over dressing in clothes instead of pajamas and I'm going to say I won 1/3 battles, but I'd like to think I won the war for that day. This is the first time she's actually been sad to see me go and it made me tear up hearing that she kept asking when Aunt Court-e-ney was coming back. Good thing my sister is moving closer...even if it's only 15 minutes.

June is a crazy month with DH gone to grad school during the week. I've been staying in Hull during the week which allows my sister and me to walk our dogs together at night (Nika and cousin Milo are rambunctiously compatible) and me to sleep an extra 30 minutes in the morning. Well worth packing a suitcase for. This past weekend we made a whirlwind trip up to Minnesota for a cousin's graduation, aunt's 50th birthday, and a double wedding shower for a cousin and future sister-in-law. Eight hours of drive time for 19 hours of family stuff. It's good to be home.

So, our Sunday plan of relaxing will hopefully be accomplished, once we finish Praise Team practice at 7:30, Pancake breakfast at 8:45, take offering at 9:00 service, run PowerPoint at 11, Concert in the park at 4, and Small Group at 6. Glad we don't have much going on today. I am not often jealous of my dog, what with her lack of opposable thumbs and chocolate-free diet, but I have to say the permanent position of being curled up on the coach is looking pretty tempting for the rest of the day.