Friday, July 04, 2008

For sale: Dead plants

Every year I buy plants for the garden and yard. Every year MOST of them get planted, but invariably a few whither and die of neglect in their homely, thin plastic nursery pots. This year we have the assorted casualties, and a few that are hanging on - only just barely. Hopefully they will be planted this week-end. If not, the eulogy can be expected some time next week. There are four pots of the happiest clematis you have ever seen, waiting to be placed in their forever home. They are happily entwining with each other and are even blooming. How I will ever detangle them is a mystery to me. Then they will be cast into the pit of darkness - a hole dug - well, pick-axed anyway - in the heavy clay soil. Sure, we will amend it with good stuff and make sure their roots have some chance of a foothold. But right now, they seem so happy on the patio. Poor things don't know what is in store for them. Our yard is pretty tough. After all, to live here you have to be able to fend for yourself and survive cold, drought, and pug investigations. I just hope the plants we already have don't gang up on the new clematis vines and take their lunch money. I already know Ruby likes them. Every time she goes out, the return trip involves a wide circle over to the pots so she can sniff some of the open blooms. I keep trying to get a pic but I miss it every time. Dh wanted to know why I do this every year. Do I buy more plants than I need? Do I change my mind after getting them and decide I don't like them? Do I just get tired of playing that game and lose steam before I finish? Probably a little of all those things. Stuff comes up. The day goes, and mosquitoes come out. I do lose steam. Sometimes a bed proves smaller than I expected once I lay everything out. Sometimes colours don't go together like I planned. Sometimes DH's should mind their own business and pretend not to see the languishing flat of marigolds on the patio, if they know what is good for them. *cough* So. What were we talking about again? Plants? What plants?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Ah yes, the crappy stapler and the broken chair.

There is a universal office politics rule that the new person gets the crappy stuff. That is just the way that it works. In some offices it is an establishment of the pecking order. The "Don't forget that you are the new girl and you get what we say you get" thing. In others, people who have been there longer feel they deserve the good stuff. After all, they did their time suffering with half-stapled papers and the smallest monitor - let somebody else put their time in. In other offices, it seems to be a waste to let good equipment sit unused while their own stuff isn't working properly. Workstations are stripped piece by piece until you are left with....well.....a crappy stapler and the chair that broke ten years ago and keeps being moved from one place to another while nobody is looking. Don't go on an extended vacation, because you will come back to the broken chair. Your stapler will stay put, but your chair is fair game. I have to admit, I love my workstation. It is a cubicle, but relatively open and easily twice the size of your typical office cube. I am also blessed with a skylight above, at a good angle. It does not produce a glare nor do I get sunbeams directly on my head (you know, to fry my brain) but lets in a wonderful diffuse light. I love that kind of sunlight. It makes the area bright and cheerful but does not interfere with my monitor. It doesn't seem like the workstation has been stripped, as this office has a pretty liberal supply policy. If you need it, they think you should have it. Happy workers are productive workers. I like that. Never-the-less, I did find it hilarious that my stapler does not work well, and my chair has a permanent lean to the front. I am not so worried about the stapler, I have little use for one and two steps away is the copy center (with four different staplers to choose from as well as several kinds of hole punch). But the chair is a bigger issue because of my back. Day two, and I can feel the strain. I was given permission to trade it with another spare workstation, but I have to tell you I snickered as I traded chairs. As a peace offering to whomever will be assigned there, I included the stapler, three yellow highlighters (I hate those things), and a really good staple remover. They will be needing it, what with the crappy stapler and all. Tee hee!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Tortilla Recipe

As requested. I got this from Recipezaar, recipe 286397. The ingredients are from the recipe, the directions are mine. 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 tsp baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup vegetable shortening (I use butter, or even better was Earth Balance vegan margarine) 2/3 cup hot tap water, plus some additional if needed Mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the fat until it looks like fine crumbs. Stir in the hot water just until the dough comes together. Use your hands to make it into a dough ball. Knead for five minutes, adding flour if needed to keep it from being too sticky. Divide dough into 6 or 8 pieces. Form each piece into a flattened ball shape. Place back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough balls rest for 10 minutes to 1 hour. The resting makes it easier to roll the dough. Heat a heavy skillet (cast iron is great if you have it, I don't so use a heavy non-stick skillet) while you roll out a dough ball to the size and thin-ness desired. Extra points if it comes out round LOL! Cook on one side until you start to see bubbles/dent things and a peek reveals some dark flecks on the underside. Flip over and cook the other side until you see the dark spots/flecks. The recipe says 30 seconds on each side. Sometimes it is that fast, other times I cook them longer. Store flat in a sealable container. I place a paper towel in there to absorb moisture until they are cool, then I take that out and toss it. As one cooks roll out the next one. It seems like a crazy pace at first, but after some practice you will find that your dough is rolled out and waiting before the one in the pan is done. I wish I knew how to do the hand pat technique I have seen, where a little dough ball turns into a large, paper thin round by slapping it back and forth. I can't say how long these keep because I use them up within two days normally. I have used half and half white and whole wheat flour and really liked them (I prefer whole wheat tortillas, DH and DD like white). I haven't tried all whole wheat with this recipe yet. Sometimes I use the whole amount of baking powder, sometimes not. If I ever make it to Mexico, I am getting a comal, a tortilla press, and one of those hot chocolate whisk thingies with the wooden rings.

Shut up and eat it

Dh called me from work today laughing. As he was eating his lunch, he mentioned that he doesn't normally like whole wheat buns and he wasn't sure that he would like this new lunchmeat (Carribean chicken - it's a seasoned chicken) that I picked out for him - but he was pleasantly surprised and he really liked it. One of them said, well, if you don't like whole wheat buns why do you buy them? And DH explained, no no, we didn't buy them. I baked the buns last night while he was in bed. The guy said "Let me get this straight. Your wife BAKED fresh bread to make the sandwich for you, after picking out a special lunchmeat to put on it, planning the whole thing a week ahead. For a bag lunch to bring to work.". DH agreed those facts were correct. Immediately he got a smack to the back of the head, and a "WHAT'S the matter with you! I made my own PB&J in the dark of dawn on the crust ends because that's all that was left. I hear you complain about your lunch again and we are trading". ROFLMAO! Yes, I guess when it comes to lunches he is a little spoiled. But really, when it comes to making bread and buns, most of the time to bake bread is in the rising and baking. With quick rise yeast and a kitchen aid mixer, from start to finish the process is like two hours max. And most of that is waiting time so you get to do other things. I have abandoned the starter. Mostly because DH and DD didn't like the REAL taste of bread LOL and I liked it a little too much. The experience was not a bust, just not the right time nor audience. So I will stick to packets of yeast for now and bake bread when needed, and not because the starter needs to be used. It might keep some of that bread out of my mouth ;). Well, tomorrow I start a new job. One where I actually have to get dressed and leave the house and stuff. I am scared to death, really. DD and I went shopping yesterday after I realized that I have no good work pants and as for shoes? Showing up on the first day in day-glo green crocs is probably not the best idea. All of my dress shoes bit the dust years ago. My last pair had become my every day shoes and are covered in paint, and generally look like they have been dragged around by a wild animal. A good polishing with a soft rag just was not going to cut it. She helped me pick out a few pairs of pants ("Well, those ones make your butt look a little less huge, but the front looks puffier. The other ones are better. Just don't turn around"), some new tops ("That fit's nice but makes your boobs look gigantic") and a dress. I need a body shaper under the dress for sure, but according to DD I am the most beautiful thing on earth in that dress. It's a long sheath thing, and it does actually look nice on me except for a few bumps and bulges to be ironed out. How she can look at that and declare it acceptible even with my hideously large breasts and gigantic bum I will never know ROFL. She also helped me look for shoes, although she was there more to be company and ogle at the newest trends(what can I say, she is my kid) while I looked for flats that don't make my feet look fat. "Are these too high?" she asks, hoisting a pair of fire engine red shoes with 6 inch metal spikes for heels. Yeah, a little too high for me. And by the way, I am not a transvestite hooker. No, I did not say that to her but I sure thunk it. She has good taste in purses though. It is going to be scary to see her closet when she starts shopping for herself with her own money. With those expensive tastes, she is going to be starving in a dark hovel of an apartment but will have killer shoes and the best purse LOL. We also got her some summer clothes because her favourite store was having a big sale. And none too soon, she has grown out of just about everything she owns in the last few weeks. Once again, arms and legs still fit but they have gotten short in the middle. I promised her we could swim at one o'clock today, and that time is upon us, so away we go. Try and enjoy Canada Day!