Jan 29, 2010

Wax and Wane

Have you ever tried these?
They are deliciously evil. They are coated with beeswax and filled with pure crack.

I've only seen these sold in a small deli in Massachusetts, and have since found them at all World Markets around me. And I just discovered they are also sold in bulk on Amazon. Be warned - don't ever try these. They are so good that you won't be able to stop. Just like Lay's you can't have just one - you will have the entire bag. Including all the pieces at the bottom of the bag. And then they will feel like a ball of wax sitting in your gut because they are.

Stay smart and stay away. Because then that leaves more for me...

Jan 28, 2010

Spring Chicken

Here is the inside of our garage door. What is wrong with this picture? Well both our torsion springs are broken! There are 4 pieces when there are supposed to only be 2 (the springs should be intact on either side of the red tag). This meant that not only would our automatic garage door opener work, but neither would the manual mode.

There are few home projects that we are not willing to tackle ourselves. But this one had us a little hesitant. Why? Well first we'd have to order the springs, and purchase a winding bar and other tools. And then we'd have to figure out how to do this which would take the entire weekend at the very least. And if you read this tutorial, you'll notice that the word emergency room was mentioned 6 times (My personal favorite is "...the cable [could] rip through muscle and bone.")!

So enter David. He does this everyday. I know, because I asked him. He did a decent job but I really wished I had gone with Shlomo even though he was a bit of a hustler with his salesman techniques.

Anyway, David took off the broken springs and I set them aside so I knew what size and kind to order the next time this happens, and we could do it ourselves. Maybe. Here he is sliding on the new springs. And questioning why I am taking photos. Is it unacceptable to document this process?

Here are the new springs installed.

Here is the loose cable just dangling at the side of the door.

Here it is with the cable properly reattached.

So did I make the right choice to have this home project done for me? I know my eyeballs (and intact muscle and bone) thank me. What unexpected home project have you encountered?

Jan 27, 2010

Sight Unseen

During New Year's weekend, we went to the movies for the second time ever in this state. We saw Avatar and liked it (who didn't?). But what we loved was the experience:

The upstairs, cafe area

3d glasses to watch the movie in RealD, and comfy love seats that rock without disturbing anyone else, even the person next to you

But the best part was the bar which offered our favorite beverage

We will never go to another movie theater again... is this old news to you guys or totally awesome to you as well like it is to us?

Jan 26, 2010

Stop the Insanity

This post is appearing on Facebook statuses, and I'm sure you've seen it yourself as well:

America: the only country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed without eating, elderly going without needed meds, and mentally ill without treatment - yet we have a benefit for the people of Haiti on 12 TV stations. 99% of people won't have the guts to copy and repost this!!

So I did some research to compare it to other devastating disasters:

2011 September 11th Terrorist Attacks
Death toll: 2976
Donations: $1.4 billion

2004 Asian Tsunami in Indian Ocean

Death toll: 230,000
Donations: $7 billion

2005 Kashmir Earthquake
Death toll: 79,000

2005 Hurricane Katrina
Death toll: 1836
Donations: $1.3 billion (not including $62.3 billion from Congress)
Countries that pledged donations: over 70 (including Cuba and Venezuela who were the first, despite both countries known to be hostile to US government)

2008 Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar
Death toll: 146,000

2008 Sichuan Earthquake
Death toll: 87,400
Donations: $457 million (from 19 countries)

2010 Haiti Earthquake
Death toll: 150,000 (so far, expected to reach 200,000)

Countries that pledged donations:
over 17 so far (Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Cuba, France, Guyana, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Morocco, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, UK, US)
Donations: $189.9 million (so far)

My opinion: we should donate to Haiti because they have all the problems that we do in the US (poverty, hunger, homelessness) and became victims to a natural disaster on top of all that. They do not have a government that provides them with Welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment, Foodstamps, WIC, or allocations from Congress. These are ongoing problems that every country deals with and will never go away (although we all wish they would, don't we?). But when a country as poor as Haiti is hit with such tragedy on a monumental scale, they need help. And they need it wherever they can get it, from whoever is willing to give it.

Facts about Haiti:
  • Poorest country in the Western Hemisphere
  • Second oldest country in the Western Hemisphere
  • Population: 9.7 million
  • Size: 10,714 sq. miles (about the size of Maryland)
  • 1/3 of newborns are born underweight
  • 1 in 8 children die before age of 5
  • 1 in 5 die before age of 40
  • Life expectancy for women 62, for men 59
  • Adult literacy rate is 56%
  • 76% live on less than $2/day, 56% on less than $1/day
  • Over 80% live in abject poverty
  • The only successful slave revolt in history (Haitian Revolution)
  • Haiti remains a food deficit country, relying heavily on imported food (48% of national consumed food is imported, 47% is produced locally while food assistance fills 5% of the national needs. From: http://www.wfp.org/countries/haiti)
Haiti declared independence in 1804, after being crippled by years of war, its agriculture devastated, its formal commerce nonexistent, and the people uneducated and mostly unskilled. Haiti agreed to make reparations to French slaveholders in 1825 in the amount of 150 million francs (equivalent to $1.1 trillion in today’s dollars, http://historicalnote.com/blog/2010/01/15/haitis-historic-debt-load/), reduced in 1838 to 60 million francs, in exchange for French recognition of its independence and to achieve freedom from French aggression. This indemnity bankrupted the Haitian treasury and mortgaged Haiti's future to the French banks providing the funds for the large first installment, permanently affecting Haiti's ability to be prosperous. Yeah, even to this day. (from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haitian_Revolution, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/1982.htm and http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/haiti/intro.htm)

The Haitian Revolution (one of the most remarkable events in human history) initiated change that led to the Louisiana Purchase and the Civil War - 2 of the most significant events in American History.
The Haitian Revolution defeated Napoleon's goal to re-colonize Haiti which led to the sale of and purchase of Louisiana. This allowed the American colonies to double in size and no longer have the threat of another nation laying claim to their territory.

We are all entitled to our own opinions and freedom of speech. But what is the point of this Facebook status? To stop or prevent donations to Haiti? To feel bad if you donated or watched the telethon? If you don't want to donate or don't want to watch telethons, you don't have to. If you want to donate to domestic issues, then go ahead. Should countries around the globe not help other countries? The US should not help others until it is perfect (this is subjective and therefore impossible, so what's the point of foreign relations and allies and the UN)? Or is it ridiculously simpler than that, like proving you have the "guts" to post that message? Do people do it because they think it's a cool social network thing to do? Are they doing it because one of their friends did? Do they know what it means?

Clearly I don't understand why this Facebook post is circulating (and it bothers me that it is grammatically incorrect). Feel free to enlighten me.

What are your thoughts on this?

Jan 25, 2010

Square the Circle

I have no idea what this is:

I think it has no current day use as it has several coats of paint over it (a couple from myself).

It's on a pass-through wall with a thermostat. Any idea what it could have been for?

Art is Long

and so are dachshunds!


Harley as art

Did you know that "weiner" means wine merchant in Yiddish? It all comes down to wine, folks!

Jan 22, 2010

Rain? Check.

When it rains:

It pours:

Stay warm and dry. And don't forget to donate to Haiti.

Jan 21, 2010

Spay Day

Both our dogs are from the local shelter (yeah we pretty much hit the jackpot), where they were taken in as strays. One of the protocols once an animal is impounded is to be spayed or neutered if they are intact.

So naturally, I entered the Spay Day 2010 Photo Contest. You can vote for Rylie here, and Karma here. In exchange for donating, you are able to vote for Karma and/or Rylie in the photo contest. The money goes directly to spaying and neutering pets.

So please vote! And if you're funds are dry from donating to Haiti, I forgive you :)

Jan 15, 2010

Wish List for Many

There's a long list of things to improve around my house, projects to start and projects to finish. But at least I have a house, and I have my health. And even though I have a long list of things to get, and my resolutions include saving money, I can't imagine a better use for it right now.

If you're not at your computer, or don't feel like whipping out your credit card, you can also text "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross Haiti relief.

Consider it money well spent.

Jan 13, 2010

Toying with Me

To my dogs:

  1. Why do you pounce on your toys?
    Does it make you feel tough when you jump onto inanimate plush objects? Or nylabones? Do you truly think you are saving me from that fuzzy lamb? Do you forget you are a completely domesticated animal and actually think you are out in the wild among dangerous predators?

  2. Why do you de-gut your non-threatening toys?
    Is is because you don't enjoy the toy anymore and wish to put an end to it? Do you just love playing with it so much that you get carried away? Did you expect hidden treasures in there? Does the squeaker drive you nuts as it does me? Were you being heroic and making sure it could not possibly at all in any way, pose a threat to me?

  3. Out of the dozens of toys available at any given moment, why are you both always fighting over the same one?
    What's wrong with you each playing with your own? You could each have 6 to yourself at any given moment if you wanted to.
  4. Out of the dozens of toys available at any given moment, why do you insist on the saliva-soaked, foamy, smelly one?
    When it's wet, it's cold and smelly. What about that is pleasant?
  5. Why do you put your toys in danger of getting stuck in places when you know you can't get it out?
    And then cry about it. I can understand when you hide it in the blankets and try to dig it back out, but not when you get it stuck in places that obviously require opposable thumbs. In particular, under the couch and under the TV.
  6. Why do you stand 6" in front of me when I toss you a toy?
    Is it really that much fun to catch it 6 inches from my hand? Over and over and over again? Back up a good 10' for some fun once in a while!
  7. Why do you both drink from one water dish when you each have your own?
  8. Why do you stalk each other?
    I know you are herding breeds, but do you think by laying low to the ground outside in the middle of our flat, non-grassy lawn that you somehow become invisible to the other one as well as the rest of the world? You are no more invisible to each other than two paddles on a ping pong table.
  9. Why do you eat poop? Seriously, why?
  10. Why don't you chew?
    When humans eat chicken or steak, we savor the flavors by chewing, which is also imperative in the digestive process. You also have taste buds and digestive organs, and teeth (far superior teeth). So why not use them when you eat?!?!
  11. Why are you surprised when you pass gas?
    As "smart" beasts, do you have to make such a stupid looking gesture? Do you really need to sniff you own rear end to figure out that it was you that cut the cheese? And every time?
For such intelligent creatures, I would really like to know. Please get back to me soon, k? Thx.

Jan 12, 2010

Lemony Snicketts

How do you like these lemons?

These are Meyer Lemons. They are native to China and are a cross between lemons and mandarin oranges. Thus, are sweeter than a normal lemon. They make yummy lemonade that's for sure. Too bad there isn't a lime variety that gets this big. Or is there?

Jan 11, 2010

Sticking to it

How many and what kinds of glues and adhesives do you keep around?

Front row (L to R): Outdoor adhesive, Clear silicone rubber sealant, 5 min. epoxy, JB Weld
Back row (L to R): Drywall corner bead adhesive, Laminate tongue & groove adhesive, wood glue, crazy glue, Gorilla glue

I forgot to include all the caulking I have.

Is my adhesive collection complete? Am I missing anything? Got an awesome glue to share?

Jan 7, 2010

Sink Below

There are 3 types of households: those that keep the trash bin under the kitchen sink, those that keep cleaning supplies there, and then there are those that do neither and store other* things there.

I am a hybrid of all 3:

I have lived with the trash bin out in the open - with a lid, without a lid; recycling bin out in the open, or just a paper bag hidden in a closet. I've even kept cookware under the sink before (it was a tiny apartment).

In this house and this particularly small kitchen, we like to keep it clean and simple (left to right): trash, recycling, compost, dishwasher detergent, trash bags and plastic wrap/aluminum foil/freezer bags (on the cabinet door).

But you know that house voyeur in me wants to know what everyone else keeps under their sink. Trash or no trash? Recycling? Compost bucket? Cleaning supplies? Cookware? Plastic shopping bags? Doggie poop bags?

*If you are one of those who keep other things under there, I'm really intrigued...

Jan 5, 2010

Hot Potatoes

Potato Croquettes

  • Leftover mashed potatoes
  • Spices (onion powder, garlic powder, pepper)
  • Panko
  • Eggs
  • Flour
  • Oil for frying
  • Optional: marinara sauce (or pizza sauce or any kind of tomato sauce), parmesan cheese

Season mashed potatoes with onion powder, garlic powder, pepper and whatever else you wish. Make little oval balls with mashed potato mixture. If warm, let cool completely so it's easier to work with. Dredge in flour. Coat with eggs. Roll in Panko. Refrigerate a couple hours or overnight to stiffen them up.

Heat oil in deep skillet and drop a bunch of the croquettes in. Turn when one side is done. Remove when both sides are golden brown and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

For dipping sauce, I used marinara sauce with some parmesan sprinkled on top.

It's a good way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. Enjoy!

Jan 4, 2010

Come Clean

Happy New Year everyone (or at least all 3 of you who read this)! Hope you all survived and enjoyed the holidays.

Some of my resolutions are to stop wasting money. Especially if it means being a little friendlier to the planet as well (watch out here comes a list!):

1. Last week, I already got a head start with window weatherstripping.

2. I'd also like to drastically cut down on paper towel and paper napkin use with these suckers:

They are microfiber cleaning cloths. There is one for windows and mirrors, furniture, general cleaning, and stainless steel (not shown, it's dirty right now since I'm actually using them! Go me!).

I've already cut down a ton by using cloth napkins:

3. Compost more. Admittedly, sometimes I get too lazy to empty out the bucket in the kitchen, to the bin outside. I will get off my lazy butt and just do this simple task.

4. And hopefully as a result of resolutions 2 and 3, I will reach resolution 4, which is to reduce waste in general.

Less paper towels and more composting = less trash. Even though less trash won't necessarily mean less expense, it is better for the environment (we pay a monthly fee for trash removal but we opt for the cheaper and smaller trash bin). Sometimes I skip a week putting the trash bins out. And we only set out the recycle bin every other week at most, only whenever it's full (see? No recycle bin this last week. Disregard that it's an overwhelming amount of trash and remember that it's a mini trash bin!). I figure this saves some energy and emissions from the trucks, at least a little right? Like half if I put them out only half the time?

And I always recycle everything possible (motor oil, used batteries, old CFL bulbs, old paint, junk mail, water bottles). My city holds e-waste collection every once in a while, and once a month holds a hazardous waste collection. And old CFL and battery drop off bins are found at Home Depot and grocery stores.

5. Either cut down on designer coffee drinks (bf if you are reading this, hint hint - this would be ideal) or at least bring along one of these:

Those disposable coffee cups are never recycled. And are used for like a second. And don't keep the beverage hot for very long. And you'll save a tiny bit of money for bringing your own mug. And best of all, no one will have to know that you are one of those people that order a triple-grande-nonfat-double shot-two pump-soy milk-decaf-caf-venti-white chocolate-mocha-frap-no whip*.

*I'm well aware this example does not make any sense and includes 2 different milks, 2 different sizes and contradictory numbers of shots, with caffeine and beverage temperature confusion. Just focus on the point that I am making.

These should be attainable resolutions. I mean I partly do them already. Maybe this is part of a bigger resolution of sticking to things? Let's not get too deep now. Anyway, if I can partly do these few resolutions already, anyone can achieve them fully in a year right?