December 31, 2009

Can the noughties really be over?

Evidently, because my calendar insists on telling me it's soon to be 2010. January 1, 2010 specifically, so it's time for new year's resolutions. Disclaimer: I almost never make these things, so please forgive me they're terrible and unoriginal.

Okay, first things first: lose weight and quit smoking. Ha! Okaay, that's a flat-out lie. Couldn't resist the pull of the cliche.

  1. Get a job. Ideally a proper, career-type job, but I'll be perfectly content with a part-time teaching gig (or two).
  2. Become a redhead again. I'm off to a good start on this one. Made an appointment today!
  3. Quit being such a hermit. New town = new people + new scene. No more hiding behind my computer all day.
  4. Do some grownup financial planning. While I'm colossally glad we've put off buying a house, I really don't aspire to rent forever. That means carrying forward with the disciplined spending we adopted in our last few, one-income months, and obsessively saving for a down-payment. Cuz, you know, you need one of those nowadays.
So there they are, big and small. May your New Year bring happiness, health, and prosperity.

December 30, 2009

Homemade Blueberry Muffins: Yummm

While I've always felt pretty brave about soups and sauces -- also, big old hunks of meat -- baking provokes my anxiety. Baking involves actual chemistry, and once it's done you can't hide behind a last round of seasoning. If it sucks, you either choke it down or chuck it out, neither an appealing option.

I got brave when I was looking at a display of canned biscuits in the grocery store. I had to give myself a stern talking-to in order to work up the nerve, but I've learned how to make those, some cakes, and now...

My Recipe Box: To Die for Blueberry Muffins
The best part about these is the crumb topping. Crunchy, sweet, and all-around yummy.

  1. Any brilliant ideas for filling the muffin cups evenly? :)
  2. Also, I have no idea why tonight's pictures have this weird sepia thing going on. I took them with my Blackberry, which is convenient because I also use it to store recipes. I feel like it has to do with the "white balance" options. Anybody know what those do? I'm clueless...
  1. If you have problems with your blueberries sinking to the bottom, try this. Rinse them right before you start your prep, and leave them to drain in a colander. Then, just before the "fold in the blueberries" step, toss them in enough flour to give a good coating. This will thicken the batter a touch and keep them suspended.
  2. Let the muffins cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then run a knife around the edges to release them.
  3. That said, unless you're anti-waste or just a cheapskate like me, USE MUFFIN LINERS! Otherwise you may wind up with this:

Poor muffin, half of you got left behind in the pan. Then all of you got eaten.

Great Analysis, Mixed Feelings

Women in the workforce: Female power | The Economist

I like this article because it gives a wide-ranging view of women workers in Western societies. On the other hand, the section describing the challenges posed by and to working mothers gives me mixed feelings. It avoids unpleasant language like "woman problem," but I can't shake the feeling that those old ugly attitudes underlie the analysis. For example:
Many children have paid a price for the rise of the two-income household. Many women—and indeed many men—feel that they are caught in an ever-tightening tangle of commitments. If the empowerment of women was one of the great changes of the past 50 years, dealing with its social consequences will be one of the great challenges of the next 50. [Emphasis mine]
Granted, this is the Economist. Hardly a bastion of progressive, let alone feminist, thought. And the final section, describing innovations meant to help women and men balance work and family life, rings full of optimism.

We're a child-free family, so my perspective is limited. Any moms out there want to put two cents in?

December 29, 2009

No More Holding Out

If I'm honest, I'd been thinking about blogging again for the past few months. I was holding out because my life is pretty boring, which means I feared not having enough material to keep anybody interested.

Then, about a week ago, (that would be the day before I started this site), we got great news around here. Doug got a job offer in Atlanta. Hotlanta. The A-T-L (O-M-G). We have about 3 weeks to find a new place, pack up this place, and get ourselves situated before he starts his new gig.

Woohoo!! Also yikes.

I admit I was holding out on sharing the big news widely. I keep waiting for it all to be a big psyche-out. What can I tell you? I tend toward paranoia. It's starting to feel real though. We've found leads on housing and packed up a few boxes. Hey, I even have an interview of my own!

Wish us luck, as we take off on our latest adventure together.

December 26, 2009

See. This. Movie.


I know, I know, what a lame post. I promise not to gunk up these pages with lots of pop-culture recommendations.

But this movie! It was weird, surreal, even. Spooky and oddly funny, plus kickass fight scenes.

In fairness, there's a shade of predictability, at least for me, but that didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying it. I haven't seen anything this cool in a long time.

(Image from

December 24, 2009

No Promises

My efforts at blogging always start out with such good intentions... I think of stuff to say for a while. Then all at once I realize it's been 6 months since I posted, and anybody who might have been reading has no doubt (rightfully) given up.

This time, I'm on a big cooking kick. I've found so much joy in learning to fix simple dishes from fresh ingredients. I feel better, my husband feels better, we've both lost a little weight and just can't fathom going back to a diet of prepackaged processed crap. As a bonus, we're spending about half of what we used to on food.

It would be nice to centralize and share my growing collection of recipes. Also, I kind of hope I can be an inspiration. Cooking from scratch sounds hard. Dirty. Unpleasant.

Okay, so it can get a little dirty -- just this week I slung mashed potatoes all over the kitchen with a hand mixer. Dang. That never happens with dry taters from a box. Oo, but they're so much tastier! Totally worth it! 

Basic Mashed Taters
  • Peel 4 large potatoes and cut them into chunks.
  • Put the chunks in a big pot and cover them with water.
  • Add salt, put a lid on the pot, and set over medium/high heat.
  • Bring the water up to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until you can cut through the largest chunks with a spatula.
  • Drain the water (save it if you're a gravy or chowder fan -- the starchy water makes a lovely thickener).
  • Put the cooked chunks in a large mixing bowl, add a stick of butter and about a cup of milk.
  • OPTIONAL: Add more salt, black pepper, garlic powder, shredded cheddar, sour cream, chopped green onions, parsley -- whatever turns your crank.
  • Start the mixer on low speed and work your way up. If the taters look dry or aren't mixing easily, dump in more milk.
(This is where I went awry. I was in a hurry so I jumped right in on high speed. Presto. Potato volcano.)
  • Keep at it with the mixer until the potatoes are your ideal consistency. I like them a little lumpy. Some folks prefer smooth.
  • Serve with extra butter, sour cream, chopped green onions... You get the drift.
This recipe makes about 6-8 generous servings (depending, of course, on the size of your potatoes).

It ain't rocket science. And it doesn't have to be gourmet, either. What I've learned in the past few months is, if you use fresh ingredients, and stick to simple combinations, it's almost impossible to screw it up.

All it takes is courage!

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