Wednesday, October 31, 2012

On being cold....

I'm known to not like heat. I had an ex who would construct fanciful stories to share with the small children in his extended family about how I kept penguins in our bedroom, and the hi jinx they'd get up to. There were ice slides and raw fish and the training techniques of our young pets.

The problem is, he wasn't far off. When I lived with my father, we had base-board heaters, and in the winter, mine was never on. The rest of the house would be suffocatingly hot, my room was wonderfully cool. It was easy then, there was no shared space. I could decide whatever temp I preferred.

We moved into this house about three months ago. We bought it, but it's a trailer, and we bought it "as is" inspections. I'm decently handy, as is Rob, so we did a cursory look over at  most of it, and it didn't seem so bad. It's also so cheap that honestly, if nothing worked, I wouldn't be all that surprised. So far, both hoses that go into the back of the washing machine appear to be "hot". The toilet in my master bathroom doesn't flush all that well, and the shower in the main bathroom appears to need some work. But the biggest problem so far? Furnace doesn't work. It turns on, pilot light is going, no heat comes out of the vents.

Now, if I'm decently handy, my father is the fix-it guy. Yea, he's disabled, but really, I'm used to being him being the brains and either myself or my brother being the brawn. All i need is him to come tell me how to fix it. He is also the first call whenever anything goes wrong. So when I described the problem, he was all "oh, that's the thermal coupler, that's an easy fix". That was two weeks ago.

The last few days, it's been COLD here. And dreary, thanks to hurricane Sandy. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I recognize that we are really lucky that all that we got was the dreary. Rob likes it WARM. We have one space heater and he's planning on going this weekend to get two more, one for our bedroom and one for the kid's bedroom. We have a blanket on the couch, we have my down comforter on our bed. He's always saying he's cold. My response is usually to point out that he works in a foundry, and EVERYPLACE is cold compared to that.

But this morning, I was so cold after I got up that I went back into the bedroom, got my fuzzy pajama pants, my hand knitted wool socks, and a long sleeve t-shirt. Then I went BACK into the bedroom and got my electric heated throw blanket. Then I turned on the space heater in the living room. And I was STILL freezing. I didn't feel warm for at least an hour.

So my only conclusion is that I'm coming down with something. And yes, a few hours later, I notice that my throat hurts. I think I need to call my dad again and whine about being cold......

Monday, October 29, 2012


I need to preface this post by admitting something.

I'm not overly fond of chocolate.

Especially chocolate CAKE. Given the choice between chocolate cake and eating vegetables, I'd pick the vegetables, any day. I don't know why, exactly. Most chocolate cakes seem dry to me. I really don't get it, honestly. I've never had a really GOOD chocolate cake. On the flip side, I'd cut a bitch for a good piece of lemon, yellow, or strawberry cake. CUT. A. BITCH.

Now, let me veer slightly off topic for a moment. It will all end up making sense, trust me. Holidays are not fussy in our family. As kids, we definitely looked forward to Giftmas, but my family has very few hard and fast traditions that we stick to. We aren't church folk, although I do remember a creche in fine bone china and a less than rustic wooden stable that my mother would set up on a table in the living room by the tree. Our holidays were mostly about FOOD, with a hefty serving of football (Da Bears), and a lot of lazing around the house. Especially as we grew older.

And there again, my family is not the typical Norman Rockwell holiday meal painting either. My FATHER was the cook in our house. Especially anything related to a turkey. Oyster dressing, green bean casserole, a ginormous turkey, a vat of mashed potatoes, another vat of homemade turkey gravy...these are the delicious memories I have of the holidays. These are the traditions that we carry forward. My brother and I, strict disciples of my father's kitchen ways, are hell bent on continuing these lovely meals, even as my father's interest has waned, probably because of low energy levels as he becomes more and more disabled.

My brother works management in retail, however, at a large international chain that is a huge draw on "black friday's", and we have therefor had to adapt our Thankfoodsgiving tradition to accommodate him. I'm glad to do it. I know that it's way more fun to cook WITH my brother, and he's a whole hell of a lot more fun after the stress of one of the busiest shopping days is behind him. In past years, I've had most of it ready, and when he comes over on Saturday or Sunday, we get down with the eating. This year, the meal will be at his house, and I plan on going over there early to start the turkey at his house, and prepping as much as i can here at my house.

Trying to find my own niche in the mastery of this holiday meal, I've started trying to come up with some desserts that I can make to wow my family. Past years have involved cheesecakes and pecan pies. I've had some mixed results, honestly. One of the things I've realized is that practice makes perfect. So this year I plan to do just that. Practice.

Today was trial run ONE, something called a wacky cake. Several online friends have pointed me to this recipe, raving about the simplicity/yummy ratio. I was hesitant immediately. CHOCOLATE.

Apparently, this is a cake made during WWII, with few and simple ingredients, and with NO EGGS, something hard to find for many a mother desperate for chocolate, for cake, and for giving their kids something good for tea. That part of the story appealed to me immediately, even over my whole dislike for the main ingredient.

Here is the recipe that I used, although I admit that I doubled the cocoa, on the advise of a friend. Also, knowing that Rob really likes chocolate cake, he deserves a treat. He's been working a LOT of 12 hour shifts, and he's tired and grumpy and short tempered. It WAS very easy to put together. It makes a rather small cake, only 8x8, so that is something for me to consider for the holiday. It bakes rather quickly, and it looks very impressive coming out of the oven, all risen and chocolatey. I did the whole toothpick to check for doneness thing, and while it passed at that time, after I cut into it, it was still not done in spots, which was disappointing.

I sprinkled some powdered sugar on the top, as suggested, although if I make it again, I'll probably frost it, or do something with melted chocolate or cherries.

Taste wise, I wasn't completely impressed, but I think I missed the frosting. But you have to remember, I don't like chocolate cake. It was okay for chocolate cake. Which might just translate into AMAZING chocolate cake to a chocolate lover. I'm sure Rob will have an opinion, and I might update after he gets home from work and has some.

I do think that it has possibilities, though. It was amazingly cheap, quick, not from a box, and easy to make. I bet the Kiddo would REALLY dig it, and I could let him lick the bowl without having one bit of guilt about raw egg in the mix.

Next up I plan on auditioning a version of a Victoria Sponge. I specified VERSION because I know that it won't be spot on, and I plan on messing with it a bit, and I don't want any crap from anyone about it. I'm an American, after all.


My World

Welcome to it.

So, a few things I should get out in the open, first thing...

1. I tend to ramble. A. Lot.
2. I can be very random. One day I'll post about knitting, the next about heavy metal music, the next about weather, and the next about cooking.
3. Due to the two above, I have no actual direction planned for this blog. Continue at your own peril.
4. I was motivated to start this for NaBloPoMo 2012, but I have really always loved being long winded and random, and have had blogs before, and am hoping to get back into the habit.

So, as long as I'm making lists (I really love lists, too) I should make another one, and maybe give you some background info on me.

1. I live in the Midwest. That's the USA, for those lucky enough to be "international". Upper Midwest if you want to get technical, but that's probably as specific as I'll get about location. I'm sure that some of my potential readers know me personally, and they will know exactly where I am.
2. I have a large, but complicated family history. This comes into play mostly during holidays and such. My family fractured: father, brother, myself in one direction, my mother and sister in another. On top of that, there were several complicated relationships with Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles, and some of those continue to this day, in my Adulthood. Some of the situations fill me with regret, some of them fill me with anger, most of them have yet to be resolved. I don't know how different this is than anyone else on this planet, I can only speak for myself and my situation. I can only tell you that several people in positions to make comparisons have stated that my family is an absolute mess. My mother and I do not speak, same with my sister and myself. I will not speak OF them in recent terms in this blog, and for the record, most of my "wish to remain anonymous" is directly related to them and this situation.
3.  I am currently in a relationship with Rob. We own a trailer and live together. He was married previously and has a son, who we see very often; officially we have him every other weekend, and every week Wednesday and Friday, but we usually have him much more than that. I really like the kid, and I think that Rob is a great dad. I have issues with the kid's mom, but mostly I keep them to myself. I'm hoping to use this blog to vent a little, once in a while. I understand that I need to keep a good relationship with her, but sometimes, you just need to vent in a safe place. For anyone keeping track, Kiddo is a 9 year old. He's totally into Dragonball, Pokemon, Riding his Bike, and watching Family Guy. He prefers my homemade pizza to just about any meal ever, but when we go out to eat, he prefers Subway, or anyplace he can score Chicken Strips and Fries.
4. My father lives with my brother. He and I used to be roommates, but when I moved in with Rob, he moved in with my brother. My brother has just bought a house, and it's very nice. It's a good situation for my dad. He has trouble with steps, and there is literally two steps to get into the house, and everything dad needs is on the first floor, including the laundry. He now lives closer to the specialist doctors he used to make long trips to visit. I see them pretty often, it's a lot easier for me to just go and "hang out" now.
5. I love yarn. I'm tri-craftual, which is a word that makes me giggle. I knit and crochet. I can sew decently, but currently don't have a machine. I don't remember a time when I did not know how to sew or crochet. Knitting was a more recent thing, and even then, I've been doing it for probably over ten years. I don't consider myself an expert, but I do think I'm pretty good at it. I don't get to do as much of it as I'd like, or as much as those around me that would like me to make them things would like, either. I'll get into kicks where I make things just to learn a new technique, or just to prove that I can, and end up with an object that is not something that I'd wear or use. Sometimes it's just about the challenge.
6. I have a few medical issues. I am recently diagnosed as a Diabetic, which is not something that most of even my friends know about. I'm not insulin dependent. I'm rather in a sort of denial about it, still. I am taking medication for it, and right away, I could tell the difference. I can focus much better, I recognized times where my sugar was high, and the effects of that on my body. My father is diabetic. A lot of members of my mother's family where/are diabetic. I recognize also, that it's my own fault. I am overweight, for example. I don't eat all that well sometimes. I'm not sugar crazy, but I am carb crazy, and that's pretty much just as bad. I also suffer from depression and anxiety, neither of which I'm treating right now, chemically or medically. I'm sure I will discus those a lot more in the future.
7. I am Agnostic. If you don't know what that word is, go look it up, because frankly, I'm really tired of explaining it to people. I'll tell you what it's NOT: satanic, atheist, or an organized religion. I am not religious, but I am spiritual. I tend to get irritated by anyone who says they will pray for me, or anyone who "blesses" me in a overly condescending way. There are a few people who can get away with it, but not many, and definitely not someone I've just met. I grew up Lutheran, in a very conservative private school. I know the bible front and back. I know all the arguments that the super religious use to feel smug and superior. I also know amazing and open people who go to church and use their powers for the good of human kind. I salute that variety of the god-fearing. I just don't feel the need to joint them.
8. Politics. Uh oh, here it comes. I grew up hard line conservative Republican, and I considered myself one for many many years. But with age comes knowledge. IF I was going to define myself (something i loathe doing in any situation) I would probably define myself as a liberal republican. I have a lot of issues with both major political parties, but i have probably have more issues with Democrats. Instead of labeling myself, I'd rather just tell you where I stand on some major issues:

  • Gay(in the general sense): I am not gay. I sorta wish I was, sometimes. I think that everyone should be allowed to: marry, have kids, adopt kids, share insurance, share rights of survivorship. I think that this is a civil rights issue, and we all know what happened in the past with civil rights issues....I just wish it weren't such a long and arduous fight for people that I love, people I am friends with, people who deserve the same rights as I currently take for granted. 
  • Fetuses (also in the general sense): I was once a fetus, I'm really grateful that my mother carried me to term. I have been pregnant, I have not carried to full term, against my specific wishes. Again with the labeling: I'm pro-life. I am also REALISTIC. Women aborting fetuses does not make me happy, but there's not much I can realistically do about it. Make it illegal, and it's still not going to stop. I have no issues with women who were raped getting abortions, although I wish they would/could have taken Plan B instead. Basically I just wish there was LESS abortions, and more birth control. Abortion is not birth control, in a moral sense. How much is an abortion these days? How much is a condom. Or the bill, or an IUD, or a vasectomy? I know accidents happen, and that's why I'm not completely anti-abortion. I recognize that my stance does not fit into EITHER one of the major political parties. I consider it just common sense. 
  • Government (again, general sense): Get the fuck out of my life. Leave me to live, pursue happiness, etc. I'm definitely for smaller government. 
  • Guns: yes please. 
  • Drugs (of the illegal variety): if it came out of the ground, it's probably okay. If it came out of a lab (or an RV mobile meth lab, I'm looking at you Heisenberg) I don't think I want it in my life. I'm all for legalizing marijuana, as long as it's regulated. I'm even okay with it being taxed, too, to help pay for the regulation. To cover my ass, I do not currently indulge in anything harder than an occasional bottle of wine, but there have been times in my life where i needed the refuge of numbness, and I found it growing in the ground. 
I think that about sums it up. Generally I'm laid back in most things. 

Yea, I told you I ramble. Good God. 

More tomorrow.......