Operation: Fix This House!

Operation: Fix This House!
Our adventures in fixing up a fixer-upper

Confessions of an Antibride

Confessions of an Antibride
Snarky Commentary on Wedding Planning

Pink Dog Cooks

Pink Dog Cooks
Sort of.


And other Crafting Goodness

I believe they call this karma

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Last night I was making dinner, much like I do every night, when the middle finger on my left hand had an unfortunate encounter with the sour cream container.

I know what you're thinking, 'how does one injure one's self on a flimsy, plastic container?!'  Oh but it is so much better than that!  I didn't slice my finger open on the plastic.  Oh, no!  I sliced it open on the FOIL.  You know, that little foil seal that they put under the plastic lid to keep it fresh, or whatever?

Yeah.  I cut my finger on THAT FOIL.  And bled all over the place.  I went to serve dinner to MacGyver, with a paper towel over my finger to stop the bleeding - I'm sort of a pro at this First Aid stuff by now - and told him I cut my finger open.  His greatest fear of me in the kitchen is that I will somehow sever a main artery with a kitchen knife.  So when I said I cut my finger, he came flying out of the chair all "What?! Are you okay? Do we need to call 911?  The national guard?  I know CPR!"  And then I explained to him how I did it.  You know, with the FOIL.  And he had to excuse himself because he was laughing so hard.

And all of this took me back a few years to when I was about 17 years old.  My parents left my brother and I home alone for the evening while they went somewhere.  Portland, I think.  I don't really remember that part anymore.  Just that they weren't home.  My brother was about 14 or 15 and I was being the ever responsible older sister and making dinner.

I used to do a lot of baking when I was in high school.  And I made a mean chocolate chip cookie.  We had this spatula that was the perfect shape for taking cookies off the cookie sheet.  It was big, and round and metal so it slid under the cookie like buttah.  It was my favorite spatula, and I used it whenever possible.

This particular evening I was using it to flip french fries over on the cookie sheet so they could finish cooking.  I had pulled the cookie sheet out of the oven and had it on the stove top so I could flip the fries without searing my arms off, when my little brother came up behind me and did something that made me jump.  I forget exactly what that was now, but I jumped and whipped around, spatula in hand.

It all happened so fast, that the next few moments were a bit confusing.  I watched his face go from laughing, to a little confused, to really, really pale.  And I looked down at his wrist just in time to see blood start gushing out of a 3 inch gash.

So many things went through my head at that moment.  "Great.  My parents leave for one night and I assassinate my brother."  "What the hell just happened?!"  "I wonder if I should call 911 now?"  "What the hell just happened?!" "I wonder if a spatula is considered a deadly weapon?"  And then the worst one of them all, "I don't know where the Emergency Room is!"

So my brother and I look at each other all like, "what the hell just happened?!" and he says, "I think we should go to the Emergency Room."  And it wasn't that I disagreed with him, it was just that not only did I just attempt Spatular Manslaughter, but I was going to have to admit out loud that I didn't know how to get around the block by myself, let alone to the Emergency Room!!

But God Bless my little brother, that kid can get to you Argentina and back with his eyes closed.  A talent he inherited from our father, that sadly, I did not.  Not even a little bit.  So he grabbed a kitchen towel to place pressure on the wound (see, I told you I've had a lot of experience in First Aid!) and I grabbed the spatula so I could plead my case to the doctors and social workers who were sure to place my brother into foster care, and me into police custody upon arrival at the ER, and we piled into the car. 

And my brother, who was on the verge of passing out the whole trip, got us to the ER with no problem.  I'm still so impressed.  That's the difference between my brother and I.  He is so level headed and calm in these sorts of situations, and I'm all, "OMG WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE AND IT'S ALL MY FAULT!!!".  We were also raised Catholic, so I think that has something to do with the guilt factor there. 

We get inside and check in at the little desk and I'll never forget the lady who does the paperwork asking us what happened, and my brother saying, "my sister cut me with a spatula."  And I immediately added, "On accident!  It was an accident!!  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, I'M NOT A SPATULA MURDERER!!!"  She raised one eyebrow and looked at both of us for a long minute before continuing.

That was the first of many long stares that evening.  After the doctor saw him, a nice lady (eh hem, social worker) who just wanted to ask me a few questions, took me into a separate room and asked me about what happened.  She wanted to know why we were alone, and did that happen very often, and did our parents know where we were, and has there been a lot of fighting in our family lately, and has my brother been feeling depressed, and would he ever try to hurt himself on purpose, and has anything like this ever happened before, and I was all, "listen lady, I accidentally cut him with the stupid spatula, I swear that's what happened.  See?  I brought the spatula with me so I could show you."  Not that it was helping my case any because, well, it's a SPATULA.

Finally, after my nice lady decided I really wasn't trying to kill my brother, and the nice lady who talked to my brother decided he wasn't trying to take himself out with a spatula, they let us go.  My brother ended up with eleven stitches in his wrist that night.  Eleven.  From a spatula.  The doctor gave us stickers and told us not to kill each other before our parents came home.  I'm sure we were the talk of the break room in the ER that night.

My brother had to have a bandage on his wrist for awhile to cover the stitches, but it unfortunately it looked much more sinister than that.  For weeks my brother had to endure endless awkward questions from friends and teachers asking him if everything was okay at home?  Was he feeling okay?  If he ever needed to talk to anyone he could talk to this teacher or that teacher.  No really, he could come talk if he needed to.  I really do feel bad about that.

What ever became of that spatula?  I'm happy to say, I still have it.  I'm thinking of keeping it for when I have children.  I can tell them the story of the time I was babysitting Uncle Bryan and almost killed him with the spatula.  That ought to keep them from misbehaving!

Yes, I was THAT kid

Friday, April 23, 2010

At work we like us some potlucks.  GASP!  She's writing about work, ohmigod!  Collect yourselves, I promise I'm not going to say anything about all those photocopies of your behind you stuffed into the recycle bin last week. 

As I was saying, we like us a good potluck.  And every time someone leaves the agency we throw a big ol' potluck.  I wonder if anyone has ever been offended that we throw a party in honor of them leaving?  Anyway, there are several extremely talented food-makers in our office.  I always feel good about my contributions until I place them on the table next to these other overachievers' masterpieces.  And then I shut up.

Well today, ladies and gentlemen, I stepped up.  You know in high school, there is always that one kid who messes up the curve for everyone else?  That one kid who brings her project on WWII in the form of a tea-stained, handmade paper diary tied together with twine, and burned on the edges for an authentic, war ravaged look?  Yeah, I was that kid.  And actually, it was middle school.  Well today, that kid came out again for the potluck.

Now, this isn't to say that I think my contribution was even close to the absolutely spectacular culinary creations of my esteemed chefs/coworkers. But for me? This is pretty darn impressive.


I assure you, it is as tasty as it looks. 

Here's how to make it!

Baking chocolate (I used semi sweet and white chocolate) - at least one box of each, maybe two
Balloons - these were smallish, so I used little balloons, but they make great bowls for ice cream too, and you may want them bigger.
Heavy whipping cream
powdered sugar
cookie sheet with wax paper

I washed the balloons in water with a little soap, then let them dry over night.  Make sure they are completely dry before doing this, or it won't work.  I know the proper way to melt chocolate is in a double boiler, but that sounds like a whole lot of work that I don't want to do.  So I just stick it in a bowl in the microwave until it is all melty and smooth.

Now the super amazing part.  Blow up the balloons, but not too full, unless you were going for that chocolate splatter look in your kitchen.  Trust me, it's messy.  You want the chocolate to be at least as deep as half of the balloon.  So if your balloon is 4 inches tall, the chocolate needs to be at least 2 inches deep in the bowl.  Take your balloon by the knot in the top, and slowly dip it into the chocolate, rotating it slowly to coat the outside of the balloon until you form a bowl shape.  When you've got a healthy coating of chocolate on the balloon, set it upright on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper.

Work quickly because the chocolate will start to harden and get lumpy.  No one likes lumpy chocolate.  When your cookie sheet is full, place it into the refrigerator or the freezer and let the bowls sit for at least an hour.  This is very important, because if you touch them or try to remove the balloons before they are cooled you will have a chocolate disaster of epic proportions on your hands.  Literally.

While you are waiting for the chocolate to cool and harden, mix a cup or so of heavy whipping cream, and a quarter of a cup or so of powdered sugar into a mixing bowl and beat until it forms stiff peaks.  (Do you see that, Martha?  STIFF PEAKS!  And you thought I wasn't paying attention!)  Chop up as many strawberries as you like into smallish pieces and dump them in.  Fold them into the mixture a few times until it turns a slight pink and they are mixed throughout.  Don't over-mix or you'll have creamy strawberry soup.  With lumps.  Ick.

This is the tricky part.  When the bowls are done, gently take a pin, or scissors, or something sharp, and pop the balloons.  You might get a little cracking around the edges if the chocolate is too thin.  That's okay, really, don't panic.  I usually run my hands under very cold water periodically during this process, because your hands will melt the chocolate as you start pulling out the balloons.  Think cold thoughts while you're doing this!

Gently, GENTLY pull out the balloons, and voila!  One bowl made of chocolate!  Then drop spoonfuls of your strawberry yumminess into each one.  I garnished the one for the picture with a strawberry cut fancy-restaurant style, but for the potluck I just stuck them all on a plate with no garnish.  They disappeared!

A suggestion, you may want to include a stack of napkins.  Or maybe a gross of them.  These can be a bit messy to eat.  Or maybe not.  In which case, bring a camera to catch all of your coworkers or friends with chocolate all over their noses!  That's good fun too!

Death March

Let’s have a lesson in definitions.

Death: (noun) a permanent cessation of all vital functions; the end of life; the cause or occasion of loss of life
March: (verb) to move in a direct purposeful manner; to move along steadily usually with a rhythmic stride and in step with others

And one more.

Coordination: (adjective) able to use more than one set of muscle movements to a single end
Uncoordination would, of course, be an example of lacking the aforementioned skill set.

Bear with me on these, they'll make sense in a minute.

We are a bit short handed at work as of late, and I have no boundaries.  These two things together mean that I have basically been working my happy little hiney off.  It’s exhausting.  And YES, I realize it is totally my fault, and that I need to find some stinking boundaries already.  Or maybe just some medication.  I digress.

Last week I had a particularly eventful day at work, and while I cannot elaborate on the details here, suffice to say that the end of the day, I'd had a brief (but intense) encounter with some of Tillamook’s finest law enforcement officers, had been given one of the worst insults I have ever received by a coworker, found out some extremely disturbing news about someone I thought I knew quite well, and cleaned up poo off my office floor.  That’s right.  POO.

(CBS are you listening?  I have four words for you: REALITY TELEVISION IN TILLAMOOK.  I’m telling you, it’ll be bigger than Survivor.  Call me.)

The whole drive home (all half a mile of it) I was obsessing over how I couldn’t wait to change into comfy sweatpants and hit the couch to watch DVRed episodes of Breaking Bad.  And let me tell you folks, it was heaven.  HEAVEN!  I was settling in and contemplating, if I decided never to move from that spot again, how many days it would take my work to fire me, and whether I could just have my last check direct deposited.  Then MacGyver stands up, puts his coat on and says: “You ready?”

Am I ready?  It’s 7:09pm and I just finished cleaning POO. off my office floor.  What the hell could I possibly need to be ready for?  He must have understood my thoughts in that one, wordless stare, because he informed me that low tide was at 7:15pm and he wanted to take me to this "really cool beach" he found. 

Now, I’m all for long walks on the beach, etc.  And any other day I might have jumped at the opportunity.  But in this moment, this moment right here, my first thought was to call Tillamook’s finest back and file a harassment charge against MacGyver.  OFFICER, HE’S MAKING ME GET OFF THIS HERE COUCH AND I DON’T HAVE TO TAKE THIS KIND OF ABUSE!  But considering my interactions with them earlier in the day, I decided against that.  And I got my ass off that couch.  AGAINST MY BETTER JUDGMENT. 

So we go to this “really cool beach” he found.  And we park.  On the side of the road.  And this is what I see when I step out of the car:

What do you notice about this picture?  Lovely day, blue sky, beautiful ocean.  Ocean THAT IS REALLY FAR AWAY FROM WHERE I AM STANDING.  I turn to MacGyver and ask as nicely as I can muster, “how do we get to the beach?”  

“We go down some stairs.  It’s really cool, you’ll see.”


Oh and the STAIRS!  131 of them, to be precise.  I counted.  At least, I’m fairly certain that’s how many there were.  That’s how many I counted in between the parts where I passed out and had to be resuscitated.  I should also mention that these stairs are not STAIRS like you might find in an office building, or apartment complex.  They are STAIRS like the kind that are fashioned out of railroad ties and old pieces of scrap wood and rocks to pick your ways over and climb up on to because the next step down is two and a half feet away.  131 of THOSE kind of STAIRS.  These STAIRS are starting to make me think they deserve the LOWES! standard of reference. 

Remember when I said to trust me, that I would explain these definitions in a minute?  DEATH MARCH.  Does it make sense now?  I thought so too.

MacGyver had told me about this place a few days before when he had discovered it, so I knew there were tide pools and things around here somewhere, but when I got to the bottom of those STAIRS!, I didn’t see any.  That’s not to say it’s not a beautiful place.  It is.  Breathtakingly beautiful, in fact.  But if I’m getting dragged down here, off my couch, after a horrific day at work, completely exhausted, I want to see some damn tide pools!  I asked him where they were, and he points over yonder to some very large, very ominous looking rocks. 

I should mention here, that MacGyver was a mountain goat in a former life.

(Image taken from Flickr by Eickholt)
(Image taken from Flickr by David Couse)

I’m not kidding.  MacGyver is extremely agile on big scary rocks like this.  Me, on the other hand, I am the very definition of the opposite of COORDINATION (see above reference).  I have never been able to able to use more than one set of muscle movements to a single end.  Ask anyone who has seen me play softball.  It’s embarrassing.  And dangerous!  I trip over air molecules.  And I have never met a set of stairs that I have not either fallen down, or up.  Oh yes, I am the master at falling up stairs.  It’s a gift. 

So we go picking our way across these huge boulders that were perched over the ocean and covered with some sort of sea slime – actually, no, MacGyver went prancing over them like the Sugarplum Fairy, and I went sprawling much like Bambi on a frozen lake.  Only less graceful.  Two weeks later when I finally caught up to him,  I was an anxiety ridden, sobbing mess, absolutely convinced I was going to die, we were going to be stranded, the Coast Guard would have to be called to pluck us off of these ridiculous rocks, only to find out that it would be too dangerous to save us and we’d be left for dead and eaten by seagulls and tiny crab creatures I was certain were going to reach up from those dark crevasses in between the rocks and tear my feet off.   

DEATH MARCH.  See, the longer this goes on the more you understand!  I told you I was going to die out there.   

MacGyver, bless his heart, was oblivious to me standing there completely immobilized by my fears of heights, rocks, looming ocean, sea gulls eating my eyeballs, and the crab people that live under the rocks.  Oh, and then I look back and see that the stupid tide is coming in and it’s getting dark.  BECAUSE OF COURSE IT IS.  When I look back, MacGyver has levitated across this huge pool of sea anemones and onto another HUGE rock 20 feet above me.  I start yelling at him, but we’re next to the ocean and he’s deaf, so that didn’t work so well.  I can’t lift my arms above my waist for fear of losing my already precarious balance, so I start flapping my forearms around me and yelling at him to look at me, BECAUSE I AM NOT GOING TO LET THE DAMN TIDE COME IN AND GET EATEN BY THE CRAB MONSTERS!  How about that for a mental image?  Next time you’re stuck somewhere and your bored out of your mind, just picture that.  See?  All better.

He finally sees me flopping around and, thinking something catastrophic has happened,   goes leaping across the rocks back toward me.  I swear, it’s not human.  I point in the direction of the rocks we just came from that are now lapping with water, willing him to understand the direness of our situation.  He takes my hand and moves it about 10 feet from where I was pointing, to a path (if you can call it that) that is completely dry.  Apparently THAT is where we just came from.  I’m guessing he saw one of the crab people at that moment though, because he decided it was time to go.  We made it back with relatively little incident.

Was it worth all that?  I’ll let you decide.

Will we go back?  Totally.  But not when the crab people are out.

2009 ·Pink Dog Blog by TNB