Friday, June 29, 2012

The first of many Olympic texts

Pannie: Watching Olympic trials.  Backstroke event finals now (Aaron Perisol's event). yet he is now retired :(

Me:  No!  Find a new bf w a better last name :)  Pieter [van den Hoogenband] still swims*?

Pannie: don't know.  Will find out in a month, I guess!

Pannie Aaron will be hard to replace.  I loved him for reasons unrelated to last name. (that SMILE, good lord)

Me: OK I will stop being matchmaker now

Pannie: Well don't' stop.   I mean, you found me several possibilities during the last Opening Ceremonies.  You're good at it.

Me: OK if you insist.   I will focus on dutch and africans obv for names.  And all nations for hotties.

*Per Wikipedia, Pieter is retired.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

How to: Organize Recipes

I am testing out a new theme.   A "World According to Jules" theme, if you will.   You see, I have a lot of opinions about a lot of topics.    Michael calls it The Book of Jules.   My sister says I am bossy.   I do not deny any of it.   But!   When people know you have opinions they often come to you for advice.   They must think I know something, right?

I have gotten all sorts of questions from all sorts of people in all sorts of situations.   (General gift giving, how to pack a suitcase, when to send a thank you note, how to organize one's shoes, etc.)   Inquiries come from coworkers, friends, extended family, my mother in law, my sister, my husband, and my own mother!   Don't Moms know everything?!    I thought it would be kind of fun to share my thoughts on this here blog.  If anyone has a pressing question, please let me know.    This is an equal opportunity space and we aim to serve.   The other day I got an email from my mother, which is serving as the catalyst today.

Big surprise, I have waaay too many recipes that I've saved from magazines.  I am now
weeding through them, but have quite a few I'd like to keep.  Any organization/storage
suggestions?  I had given some thought to typing and/or scanning them into my computer
but that would be too labor intensive.

What's funny about this particular scenario is that my mom is a fairly prolific cook.  She doesn't even always need recipes.   She is one of those people who can look in the pantry/fridge and find a box of pasta, a can of beans, half a bag of cheese, and two bananas and make you a delicious dinner.   I don't even like bananas and I would probably like her creation.  It's miraculous and I did not inherit the cooking gene.   If all I had was beans and bananas, I would call for pizza.   Or invite Mom over to make dinner.

But, what I lack in cooking skills I make up for in organizing.   Of course I had storage suggestions!  Here is how I would approach the 'too many recipes' situation, and how I organize my stash
  • Go through all the magazine recipes.   If they are still in magazines, rip out the ones you want to try and make a big fat pile of recipes
  • Start weeding through the pile.   Ask yourself: 
    • Do I typically eat this type of food?
    • Do I like this type of food?
    • Would I like to try this new type of food?
    • Are the ingredients accessible to me?
    • Does it require too much prep/too many fancy tools/too much chopping?
    • Does it make enough for my family at this time?   (if it's just you and hubby, dishes that serve 8 are going to get old fast)
  • You will now have a hopefully smaller pile that you can sort into sub-groups.   Figure out what type of categories you need by thinking of how you cook
    • Do you decide what to make based on the main ingredient?
    • Do you decide what to make based on the amount of time you have on hand?
    • Do you decide what to make based on the type of cuisine (Italian, Mexican, Chinese)?
    • Do you decide what to make based on the type of meal you're thinking of (crock pot, sandwich, casserole, grill)?
  • Once you know how your brain thinks, you will have an idea of how to sort your recipes for easy access.   If you can't find it, you can't make it!
A quick note about the internet.   In order to keep things in check, I try not to print a recipe from the web until I am ready to make it.   I tape it to the cupboard door and if I like the recipe, I keep the recipe and file it.   If not, I toss it.

I keep my recipes in 3-ring binders.   It used to be one binder, it has grown to two because I keep ripping out dessert recipes.   I need to make dessert like I need a hole in the head.  I find magazine pages to be extremely flimsy and prone to tears.  I also spill a lot.  For these reasons, I slip each recipe into a protective sleeve.  I get recipes on both sides, don't have to 3-hold punch everything, and can wipe of food if it spills.   You can buy them by the ton at Staples or Wal-Mart or Target, etc.   I buy whatever is cheapest.  A plastic sleeve is a plastic sleeve in this case.

In addition to being easy to clean, with sleeve protectors I can also take out the one page I need and stick the binder back in its spot in my cupboard next to the stove with the COOKTOP CLEANER.  Can you tell I don't have little ones?

Who needs a big bulky binder on the counter?  Not me.  One page is easier to handle, and I can hang it on the fridge or even tape it to the cabinet so it doesn't get lost in the shuffle of bowls and knives and food stuffs on the counter.

My binders aren't pretty.   But they work!    I sort their contents in these general categories, but since the recipes are in sleeves, I can move them around as needed.   These work for me, they might not work for you.   For example, in my mind, breakfast includes quick breads, cinnamon rolls, fritatas, and quiche.   You might never eat quiche for breakfast or brunch.   If Wednesday = quiche for dinner in your house, by all means, put it in the dinner section.  Or the Main ingredient EGG section.  Or whatever.

BINDER 1 (orange)
  • General food info (serving and portion sizes, how long to freeze certain types of food, etc)
  • Appetizers, Dips & Party foods
  • Drinks - they are not all alcoholic!
  • Breakfast & Brunch
  • Soups & Salad, Sandwiches & packed lunch ideas
  • Pasta & Sides (we don't eat pasta as a main dish anymore so it made sense here in my mind)
  • Main Course
    • Chicken
    • Beef
    • Pork
    • Fish
  • Cook for a day / freezer meals (haven't tried these yet but since everything is listed on one page I couldn't put in one of the above categories, so I stuck them here)

BINDER 2 -aka heaven  (purple)

  • Pie & Cobbler 
  • Cheesecake & Tarts
  • Cakes (birthday, cup, and otherwise)
  • Brownies & Bars
  • Coooooookies
  • Holiday (Halloween spider cookies, the mint brownies you only make on Christmas Eve, etc
I do periodically try to look through my binders to see if there are recipes that have been in there awhile that I have not made yet.  Sometimes tastes change, or you get sick of a certain type of cuisine.  If you only add to the collection, it will become unmanageable.   Be sure to verify that what you are holding on to is a collection of recipes that you want to make, or regularly enjoy.    Don't keep a binder full of Martha Stewart dinner party ideas if you're more of a cheeseburger and corn on the cob person.  

Monday, June 25, 2012

Debby Downer

Tropical Storm Debby arrived this weekend.  It resulted in muggy temperatures and tons of rain.  I knew last night that the rain would continue this morning and my usual morning golf course run would be washed out.  I set the alarm for my usual 6 am wakeup call and figured I would head to the gym.

This morning I went over to our neightborhood gym, arriving a few minutes after 6, only to find the doors were locked.   The gym doesn't open until 7 am in the summer.

Excuse me?!

What gym opens at 7 am?   And in Florida it is so darn hot all the time that you'd think a climate controlled space would be available more frequently in the summer than the winter.

So I got back in the car and arrived home at 6:15 wide awake.   I did what any rational person would do:  I put the kettle on to make tea, and started to work.    (You thought I was going to go back to bed?   Ha!)   So today, instead of working til 5:30 I will work til 4:30.

Maybe by then the gym will be available

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rockin' Out to... NPR?

That is not a typo.   Via the wonderful forum that is Facebook, I came across a playlist on the NPR website.   Titled "The Songs of Summer," it includes 50 songs released between 1962 and 2012.  It's streaming, no downloading required, and best of all, no ads!

I recognized almost all of the songs, and for those that were released during my lifetime, I remember what I was doing when I listened to them.   The list even includes Sir Mix-A-Lot's Baby Got Back, which of course, makes me think of Rishi and Winter Formal.   In addition to being generally awesome, these songs are a great way to make the hours go by faster at work.   And when you work 10 hours at a computer every day, that is a good thing

Check it out!

Songs In This Mix:
2012: Carly Rae Jepsen, "Call Me Maybe"
2012: Icona Pop, "I Love It"
2011: Adele, "Rolling In The Deep"
2011: LMFAO, "Party Rock Anthem"
2011: Nicki Minaj, "Super Bass"
2010: Eminem featuring Rihanna, "Love the Way You Lie"
2010: Katy Perry, "California Gurls"
2010: Taio Cruz, "Dynamite"
2009: Black Eyed Peas, "I Gotta Feeling"
2009: Taylor Swift, "You Belong With Me"
2008: Coldplay, "Viva La Vida"
2008: Katy Perry, "I Kissed A Girl"
2008: Lil Wayne featuring Static Major, "Lollipop"
2007: Rihanna featuring Jay-Z, "Umbrella"
2007: T-Pain featuring Yung Joc, "Buy U A Drank"
2006: Gnarls Barkley, "Crazy"
2006: Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland, "Promiscuous"
2006: Shakira, "Hips Don't Lie"
2005: Gwen Stefani, "Hollaback Girl"
2005: The Pussycat Dolls featuring Busta Rhymes, "Don't Cha"
2004: Juvenile featuring Soulja Slim, "Slow Motion"
2004: Usher, "Confessions Part II"
2003: Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z, "Crazy In Love"
2003: Chingy, "Right Thurr"
2003: Sean Paul, "Get Busy"
2002: Avril Lavigne, "Complicated"
2002: Jimmy Eat World, "The Middle"
2002: Eminem, "Without Me"
2002: Nelly, "Hot In Herre"
2001: Destiny's Child, "Bootylicious"
2001: Eve featuring Gwen Stefani, "Let Me Blow Ya Mind"
2000: Aaliyah, "Try Again"
2000: 'NSYNC, "It's Gonna Be Me"
1999: Christina Aguilera, "Genie In A Bottle"
1999: Jennifer Lopez, "If You Had My Love"
1999: Len, "Steal My Sunshine"
1999: Smash Mouth, "All Star"
1998: Brandy & Monica, "The Boy Is Mine"
1998: Next, "Too Close"
1998: Vengaboys, "We Like To Party"
1998: The Backstreet Boys, "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)"
1997: Hanson, "MMMBop"
1997: Notorious B.I.G. featuring Puff Daddy & Ma$e, "Mo Money Mo Problems"
1997: Puff Daddy featuring Faith Evans & 112, "I'll Be Missing You"
1996: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, "Tha Crossroads"
1996: Los Del Rio, "Macarena"
1996: Mariah Carey, "Always Be My Baby"
1995: Seal, "Kiss From A Rose"
1995: TLC, "Waterfalls"
1994: Ace of Base, "Don't Turn Around"
1994: All-4-One, "I Swear"
1994: Lisa Loeb, "Stay"
1994: Warren G & Nate Dogg, "Regulate"
1993: Tag Team, "Whoomp! (There It Is)"
1993: UB40, "Can't Help Falling In Love"
1992: Boys II Men, "End of the Road"
1992: Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Under the Bridge"
1992: Sir Mix-A-Lot, "Baby Got Back"
1991: Bryan Adams, "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You"
1991: DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, "Summertime"
1991: EMF, "Unbelievable"
1990: Mariah Carey, "Vision Of Love"
1990: New Kids on the Block, "Step By Step"
1989: Martika, "Toy Soldiers"
1989: Richard Marx, "Right Here Waiting"
1988: Cheap Trick, "The Flame"
1988: Steve Winwood, "Roll With It"
1987: Heart, "Alone"
1987: U2, "With Or Without You"
1987: Whitney Houston, "I Wanna Dance With Somebody"
1986: Madonna, "Papa Don't Preach"
1986: Peter Cetera, "Glory Of Love"
1985: Huey Lewis & The News, "The Power of Love"
1985: Tears For Fears, "Shout"
1984: Cyndi Lauper, "Time After Time"
1984: Prince & The Revolution, "When Doves Cry"
1983: The Police, "Every Breath You Take"
1983: Irene Cara, "Flashdance...What a Feeling"
1982: Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder, "Ebony & Ivory"
1982: Human League, "Don't You Want Me"
1982: Survivor, "Eye of the Tiger"
1981: Rick Springfield, "Jessie's Girl"
1981: Kim Carnes, "Bette Davis Eyes"
1980: Lipps, Inc., "Funkytown"
1980: Billy Joel, "It's Still Rock & Roll to Me"
1979: Donna Summer, "Bad Girls"
1979: Anita Ward, "Ring My Bell"
1978: Andy Gibb, "Shadow Dancing"
1978: Frankie Valli, "Grease"
1977: Shaun Cassidy, "Da Doo Ron Ron"
1977: Fleetwood Mac, "Dreams"
1976: Starland Vocal Band, "Afternoon Delight"
1976: Elton John & Kiki Dee, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"
1976: Wings, "Silly Love Songs"
1975: The Captain & Tennille, "Love Will Keep Us Together"
1974: Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods, "Billy, Don't Be A Hero"
1974: George McCrae, "Rock Your Baby"
1973: Diana Ross, "Touch Me In The Morning"
1973: Jim Croce, "Bad Bad Leroy Brown"
1972: Bill Withers, "Lean On Me"
1972: Sammy Davis, Jr., "The Candy Man"
1971: Bee Gees, "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?"
1971: Carole King, "It's Too Late"
1970: The Carpenters, "(They Long To Be) Close To You"
1970: The Jackson 5, "The Love You Save"
1970: Edwin Starr, "War"
1969: The Beatles, "Get Back"
1969: The Rolling Stones, "Honky Tonk Woman"
1968: Simon & Garfunkel, "Mrs. Robinson"
1968: The Rascals, "People Got To Be Free"
1967: Aretha Franklin, "Respect"
1967: The Doors, "Light My Fire"
1966: Tommy James & The Shondells, "Hanky Panky"
1966: The Troggs, "Wild Thing"
1966: The Lovin' Spoonful, "Summer In The City"
1965: The Byrds, "Mr. Tambourine Man"
1965: The Beatles, "Help!"
1965: The Rolling Stones, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
1965: Sonny & Cher, "I Got You Babe"
1964: Dean Martin, "Everybody Loves Somebody"
1964: The Animals, "House of the Rising Sun"
1964: The Beach Boys, "I Get Around"
1963: Lesley Gore, "It's My Party"
1963: Jan & Dean, "Surf City"
1962: Ray Charles, "I Can't Stop Loving You"
1962: Neil Sedaka, "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do"
1962: Little Eva, "The Loco-Motion"

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Father's Day Tradition

I have loved this from the moment I heard it.  Paul Harvey was, in my opinion, a great writer and radio voice.   In keeping with my Father's Day tradition, I will again post one of my favorite pieces ever written.

Why do I like it?   It's heartfelt.   It's true.  It makes me a tiny bit misty.  And most importantly, it reminds me of my Dad

Paul Harvey's "What Are Fathers Made Of"

A father is a thing that is forced to endure childbirth, without an anesthetic.

A father is a thing that growls when it feels good–and laughs loud when it’s scared half to death.

A father never feels entirely worthy of worship in his child’s eyes. He never is quite the hero his daughter thinks, never quite the man his son believes him to be. This worries him, sometimes, so he works too hard to try and smooth the rough places in the road for those of his own who will follow him.

A father is a thing that gets very angry when school grades aren’t as good as he thinks they should be. He scolds his son although he knows it’s the teacher’s fault.

Fathers grow old faster than other people.

And while mothers can cry where it shows, fathers stand there and beam outside–and die inside. Fathers have very stout hearts, so they have to be broken sometimes or no one would know what is inside. Fathers give daughters away to other men who aren’t nearly good enough so they can have grandchildren who are smarter than anybody’s. Fathers fight dragons almost daily. They hurry away from the breakfast table, off to the arena which is sometimes called an office or a workshop…where they tackle the dragon with three heads: Weariness, Work and Monotony.

Knights in shining armor.

Fathers make bets with insurance companies about who will live the longest. Though they know the odds, they keep right on betting. Even as the odds get higher and higher, they keep right on betting more and more.

And one day they lose.

But fathers enjoy an earthly immortality and the bet is paid off to the part of him he leaves behind.

I don’t know where fathers go when they die. But I have an idea that after a good rest, he won’t be happy unless there is work to do. He won’t just sit on a cloud and wait for the girl he’s loved and the children she bore. He’ll be busy there, too…oiling the gates, smoothing the way.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Deal Breakers

When I was in high school - and college - I had a list of rules for potential boyfriends.    It was a bit tongue in cheek, and perhaps elitist, but it was also true.  

  • No smoking
  • No tattoos
  • No facial hair
  • No long hair
  • Baseball fan
  • Not a Yankee fan*
  • Educated as much (or more!) than me

Please note how much of this is focused on outward appearances rather than the "important" stuff.   Ah to be young and foolish again!

*Funny enough my sister is dating a guy right now who is a native New Yorker and is a HUGE Yankee fan.   And we get along just fine, thank you very much

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Later, Gator

It seems to be reptile season.   Again.   So earlier this spring we had a snake, whom I named Slytherin.    He got caught in a tomato net and died, and then a buzzard came and ate him.   True story.   It was gross, but whatever.    Gryffindor rules!

Back to current events, and slightly less nerdy commentary:

There is a retention pond in front of our home.   You can see it from our front porch and balcony (see the iron railing in the right corner of the photo?  That's my balcony) and it provides a lovely view.  Right now, it is also serving as a lovely home to an alligator.

Yesterday I went to get the mail (mailboxes are located in a little 'hut' just to the left of the edge of the photo) and noticed a lady standing across the pond with binoculars, along with 2 security patrol cars driving around the lake, with the officers ultimately exiting the car, wandering around and trying to look important.   I also spotted a middle-aged gentleman minding his own business while walking his dog.    Part of me figured there was something in the lake, but I did not think much of it.   We spotted an otter in there a few months ago, so maybe it was back.   Or maybe people need to find a new hobby.

Today the nice man (from Ohio!) and his dog were going for  a stroll and stopped to chat.  In addition to learning we are both Ohio-ans, he warned me that "there is a 4 foot gator in that pond"    Lovely.  That  confirmed that the 2 security guys and binocular lady were, in fact, looking for the beast yesterday.   Sadly, I fear that the otter is no longer living in the pond. . . . .

Side note: Is everyone from Ohio?  Lately when I say I am originally from Ohio, people have started to say "Where?"  "Northern Ohio"  "Where?"  "Near Cleveland"  "Where?" "Lorain County"  "Where?"  Oh my gosh REALLY?!   We cannot all be from the exact same part of Ohio, y'all.   This guy is from "Near Cedar Point" which is close enough for me to excuse his incessant questioning.

Needless to say, the remainder of my trip to the mailbox and back involved me staring into the pond, searching desperately to see the critter.    I did not, but you better believe I will not be wandering too close to that edge any time soon.

Meanwhile, I have spend several minutes this evening racking my brain trying to think of other Harry Potter reptiles (aside from Salazar) as inspiration for naming the gator.    That's what a normal person would do, obviously.   Name the dangerous creature living nearby after a fictional story about a boy wizard.  So far, I can only think of dragons, and I am not even sure if they are 100% reptilian.   Then again what else would they be?   With that in mind, I am leaning toward Norbert.  Regardless, please holler if you think of an appropriate name for the gator, and I will in turn hope to snap a photo next time, if he rears his head.