Friday, December 9, 2011

Our Christmas Tree Came Already Decorated.

Once, I had a roommate.  We'll call her Ashley, because that is her name.  We lived in a tiny apartment with our dog and cat.  We had absolutely no money, but we still REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted a Christmas Tree.

Ashley is very fashionable.  You can tell because I drew her with boots AND a dress.  Tres chic.

But it turns out artificial trees are stinkin' expensive, and I'm deathly allergic to pine sap.  Ashley's parents had an old artificial tree that had been hanging out in their attic for several years, and they offered it to us.  We were so excited!  We loaded it up in the back of my car and drove it home, fa-la-la-la-la-ing all the way.  When we got it home, though, and opened the box, we realized we had a problem.  Let's see if you can spot it:

See it?
What about now?

As soon as we saw the nests, we did what any adult would do in that situation... We ran and hid behind the kitchen counter.

That smell?  It's fear.  And maybe urine.
After hyperventilating behind the counter for several minutes, I got brave enough to poke the box with a stick to see if it moved.

I don't feel this picture does my cat's always-vacant-expression justice really.

Nothing happened.  We briefly considered throwing it out.  But the lure of a free Christmas tree was just too strong.  Especially one that came with these awesome lights:

Pictured: Fire hazard.
So, in a thirty minute montage set to Eye of the Tiger, we ran around the house putting on anything that could remotely qualify as a bee-keeping outfit.

Armed with potholders and pillows, we were ready to kick some wasp thorax.

We took turns grabbing the vacuum hose, running up to the box, sucking up a nest or two and then running away screaming like little girls.  We counted about 20 of them, and it took us over two hours, but in the end we got them all...except one or two...those branches we threw outside in the yard, where they remained until we moved out.  Their fate is currently unknown.

It looks like one of those clay ornaments I had to make in elementary school.  It adds some rustic flair to the tree, no?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Story Of Tijuana; Or How I Became An Illegal Immigrant

Once upon a time, far away in a (crazy) land (with no sweet tea) called California, my brother was graduating from Marine Corps boot camp.

My parents were super duper proud of him, so they decided to go see him graduate.  They were so proud, they didn't even roll their eyes when I "promised" to pay them back if they bought me a plane ticket (and paid for my food, and lodging, and sight seeing) so I could go.

He's a handsome little bugger.

The graduation ceremony takes place over several days, so we decided to do touristy things like go to the zoo and the park and drive by the nuclear plant nicknamed Dolly Parton.

I see no resemblance, honestly...

But eventually, we heard the Call of Adventure, specifically Mexico.  Tijuana was only 20 minutes away from our hotel, and my mother and sister had never been outside of the States.  So, of course we had to go!  We looked up the regulations for crossing the border.  Unfortunately, the website hadn't been updated since 9/11.

Seems legit to me!  Let's go!

So, we got in our rent-a-car and drove across town to the U.S./Mexico border.  We parked in a sketchy 5.00 all-day parking lot and gazed over the fence separating us from Adventure.

That's it, seriously.  That's the way into Mexico.  Just a turny fence.
We walked through the turny fence and past the fat guard asleep in what seemed to be a children's school desk, and we thought "wow, the website was totally right!  You do just mosey on in!"

Seen here:  Mexican border guard hard at work.

Euphoric with our success, our first order of business was to find the sights.  That's when Roberto the Crazy Taxi Driver appeared.  When you first get into Tijuana, there is a jostling mob of taxi drivers waiting to take you to Revolution Road, where all the touristy shops are.  Roberto won out because he spoke English.  He told us to wait there, he'd be right back with his taxi (I'm gonna assume he was either hot wiring one, or dumping a dead body, because this is Tijuana after all).

Trust me when I say his crazy wing-like arm and magnificent chest hair were the least of our worries.

We got in his seat-belt-less taxi and tried to avoid the wires sticking out of the seats and ceiling while we embarked on the most death defying 15 minute ride of my life.  My dad started having flash backs of Vietnam...and he wasn't even in Vietnam.

Typical family portrait

We miraculously made it in one piece, despite Roberto running several red lights.  We were immediately accosted by street urchins selling wares with prices that magically INCREASED when you tried to buy them.  We also had plenty of opportunities to buy Vicodin and Oxycontin at the hundreds of farmacias packed onto one little street.  Since I had taken at least one semester* of Spanish, I appointed myself the family's ambassador. I spouted off little gems to the street vendors such as "mi gato tiene su sujetapapeles" and "no tengo un baƱo" as they looked on in amazement.  I felt very proud of myself.  We bought several souvenirs and since it was getting dark and the sounds of gunshots were getting more frequent, we decided it was time to skedaddle.

Roberto took us back to the border...and that's where we ran into trouble.  You see, the website lied.  Getting out of Mexico is not nearly as easy as getting in.  There is an actual customs building you have to walk though with guards and guns.

Wait a minute...that is not a turny fence!

Once inside, we started to get the inkling of a suspicion that we might have some problems getting back into the U.S.  Our first clue was the fact that everyone was breaking out their sister didn't have so much as a driver's license on her...You can see where this is going...


After spending a month in Mexican jail and not getting anywhere with an immigration lawyer, we decided to make a break for it...

JUST KIDDING. (But I really had you going there for a second, right?  Right??)

The guard we had to talk to was actually really nice and let us go through.  I like to think it was my heartfelt plea that changed his mind. ("But, we're from Arkansas!  I can show you  my accent!  Please don't let me die here, there is no sweet tea and the coke tastes funny!")  It might have also been that we are hopelessly gringos.

The moral of the story:  Don't buy leather from Tijuana.
Pro tip: improperly tanned leather smells like skunk.  It's not as noticable in Tijuana, where everything smells like skunk, but it will smell up your rented car, and your hotel room until you put it out on the balcony to "air out" will continue to smell, smelling up the airplane, and your house and eventually your garage.  The smell will linger through copious amounts of Febreeze and several exorcisms.  You will eventually end up hiding it amongst your donation to Goodwill as people refused to buy it at your garage sell, even though you offered to pay them for taking it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Incident With The Hamster.

When I was in 3rd grade, I got to babysit the class hamster for a week (I don't remember his name but we'll call him Mr. Giggles as that seems an appropriate hamster name).  I fell in love, capital L-O-V-E kinda love.  I begged my parents to let me get a hamster of my very own.  Finally they agreed on the condition that I promised to clean the cage and feed the hamster.

My mother is going to love my artistic rendition of her...

We went to the hamster store where I found the fuzziest, fattest hamster ever.

After we paid for the hamster and its necessary supplies, I took it home and we became best friends...well, mostly it cowered in the corner of the cage and bit me every time I tried to pick it up.  But I didn't care, because love is blind.  I named it Cinnamon Amber Cookie, because cinnamon cookies were my favorite and Amber was the name of my babysitter, and also because kid logic is simple like that.

A couple of weeks after I got Cinnamon, my grandparents came to visit.  It must have been Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or something.  I begged my grandma to come downstairs and look at my hamster.

Really, all the women in my family have amazingly big hair.

I was torn.  I really wanted them to come downstairs to see my hamster, but I also knew that if I went to the store with them, I stood a better chance of scoring sugary cereal and fizzy sodas.  Eventually, my childish sugar craving won out and I skipped off to the store with grandma and grandpa with visions of Lucky Charms in my eyes.

We returned home in a caffeine fueled tizzy, and I dragged my (no doubt) tired grandparents downstairs to see my hamster in all her glory. 

Tragically, while we were at the store, my hamster had died.  My mom said she probably choked to death because she liked to eat her little house-tube-thing.  But, honestly, it was probably from fright.

And thus, I learned one of the hard lessons of life: hamsters are like goldfish, they flush easily down the toilet.


I received this email from my mother after she read this post:

All I have to say is that I was a sensitive child.  And the cafeteria smelled funny, so of course I milked the opportunity to eat lunch elsewhere.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

There Is No Such Thing As A Quomelet.

Waking up in the middle of the night because your brother is in your room scrounging around with a flashlight is always fun.  He was "looking for his guns".  As if the flashlight and unexpected waking wasn't alarming enough.  Apparently the dog had cornered a possum under the deck and wouldn't come out. 

Please save me. 

I made a quomelet for dinner tonight.  What is a quomelet? you ask.  They don't exist.  I'll explain:

"What are you making?" my dad asked.

"I'm making quiche."

"I thought you were making omelets."

"I changed my mind, now I'm making quiche."

"But your mom said you were making omelets."

"I was, but now I'm making quiche."

"But I thought you were making omelets."

"A quiche is practically an omelet, it just has a crust."

"Yeah, but omelets are good.  Sometimes quiche is bad."

"You've had this quiche, you like it."

"But I thought you were making omelets."


 "Omelets are good. I've never had a bad omelet.  But I've had bad quiche."

"You're right, dad.  This isn't a quiche, it's a quomelet."  (See what I did there?)

 "Oh, ok.  Well I hope it's good.  Quiche can be bad, but can't mess up an omelet."

But let's back up to 5 minutes earlier when I realized I had forgotten to get pie crusts at the store when I got the rest of my ingredients.  No problem, we'll make one.  Ashley looked up a handy recipe...and despite forgetting to put in the salt, it turned out well.  We didn't have a pie pan, so I just smooshed it down into a casserole dish. Then I stirred together my quiche ingredients and baked it at 350F until the top was nice and brown.  And guess what, dad liked it.  No kidding.

Quomelet Lorraine 

1 pie crust smooshed into a casserole dish (or two pretty pre-made pie crusts in pie tins.  Whatever, suit yourself)
6 eggs
1/2 c heavy whipping cream
1 pkg (1lb) of bacon (cooked your preferred way.  I like the microwave myself.) and crumbled.  Try not to burn your fingers while doing that.
1/2 large block of swiss cheese, shredded (oh yeah, it's A LOT of cheese.)

Step 1:  Whisk together eggs and whipping cream.  Try not to splash it all over the counter.

Step 2:  Add in bacon and cheese.

Step 3:  Call dog over to clean up dropped bacon and cheese.

Step 4:  Pour yummy mixture into casserole dish (the one with the pie crust, not a different one.  Just FYI)

Step 5:  Admire the delicious looking bacon just floating there.

Step 6:  Bake at 350F until top is nice and golden and starting to brown.

Step 7:  Eat it.  Preferably with a utensil, but I'm not here to judge.
An approximation of what your quomelet will look like.  Btw, omelet has more e's in it than one would expect.  And yes, my casserole pan is actually pink.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

That Did Not Go As Expected...

My bff's birthday was last month.  I knew she wanted a necklace holder for a while, so I set about finding one on the interwebs.  I didn't like any of the mass made ones, so I turned to Etsy.  50.00 (plus shipping) for a "distressed vintage victorian upcycled steampunk gothic hobo handmade environmentally-friendly mirrored jewelry hanger" sounded like a bit much and I thought "I could totally make this myself".  Yea-ha.

I went to Hobby Lobby and acquired the necessary supplies.  I had a loose idea of what I wanted to do, so I got some basic things:  a picture frame (30.00 but on sale for 14.00.  HOLLA!), some wood ornaments (2.00/ea), wood glue (I dunno, 5.00 maybe?), and some spray paint (4.00? 5.00?  I give up).  This was gonna be epic!

The supplies and apparently my shadow.  Also, my carpet that needs to be vacuumed.

I glued on the wood ornaments on the corners and let them dry overnight.  (One of them turned out a little bit crooked, but my mom assures me that only adds character.)  Then, I spray painted it.  In the wind.  Wearing my black dress pants.  I'm smart.

Now, my bff loves Old Hollywood, so I just knew the perfect thing for the knobs to hang her necklaces on would be these puppies right here:

And everyone's grandma has these, so you'd think they'd be easy to find.  WRONG.  So wrong.  I went to Lowe's, they had 3 left, one of which was the display knob which they couldn't figure out how to undo.  I was determined to have 5.  Next I went to Target.  They had some, but they weren't exactly what I was looking for and they were freaking 10.00/ea.  I finally found some at Home Depot for 4.00/ea.  Score.  I brought them home, drilled some holes in my frame (gosh, power tools are fun.) and voila! 

Featured:  Halfway finished frame.  Also featured:  Mostly painted wall.

My original plan was to stick some cork board in the back and cover it with fabric and then cover THAT with white metal netting so my friend could also hang her earrings on it.  Turns out cork board is EVIL and EXPENSIVE.

How much do you think this cost?  5.00? 10.00?  NOPE!  15.00!

I searched around for alternatives, I tried to find some way to make the tiles work.  I had a brilliant idea involving already framed canvas, but that fell through.  In the end, I bought the stupid roll of cork.  I took it home and cut it to fit the inside of my frame.  It was then I discovered the sad fact that cork is mushy, floppy, and falls apart easily, a fact I was not prepared for.  I watched in horror as 15.00 crumbled before my eyes.  I tried gluing several layers together.  I tried gluing the fabric to it.  Nothing worked.  I threw all the cork in the trash and sat on the floor.  I had promised my bff her present the next day!  What would I do?  Hobby Lobby was closed, Lowe's was closed, as a last resort, I called Home Depot and told the man in the lumber department my sad sordid tale.  He told me to bring my frame and he would help me.  AND HE DID!  He found me some wood of the right thickness and cut it for me at no extra cost!  It was amazing. 

I took the wood home and was just going to cover that with fabric but my mom and sister protested.  They thought I should glue a layer of cork on top of the wood so my friend could use it as a pin board too.  I said no.  I was frustrated and by this time I had spent two weeks on the project (I was sick with tonsillitis, a sinus infection, and an ear infection and spent one of those weeks in bed watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and using copious amounts of tissue and whining), but they insisted.  So I told them FINE!  YOU DO IT!  My sister got out the handy hot glue gun and got to work.  She attached the cork and the fabric for me and then we wood glued that sucker together. 

Final result?

Worth it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lazy Lasagna

Like 85% of my fellow recent college grads, I live at home with my parents.  In exchange for free rent/cable/xbox/food/heat/etc, I cook dinner for the fambam every Tuesday.  Except last night.  Yesterday, my mom woke up in a stupor, forgetting it was Tuesday, and put roast on to cook.  I'm not a fan of pork, and my bff Ashley was looking forwards to my lazy lasagna.  So we made it anyway.  We are barely living above the poverty line, and we're not master chefs like my friends over at Bettencourt-Chase, so I do things the easy, cheap, lazy way.  This is my recipe for Lazy Lasagna.  Excuse the poor pictures, I took them with my iphone while eating lunch at work.

Lazy Lasagna
1 16oz tub of cottage cheese
2 eggs
1 handful of parsley
1box lasagna noodles (not the oven ready kind)
1 lb ground beef
2 cups mozzarella
1 1/2 cups parmesan
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce

Step 1:  Put noodles on to boil.  Find a nice tv show to watch on your computer that you have propped up on the counter (c'mon, I know everyone does it)

Step 2:  Cook ground beef thoroughly in a pan.  Drain the meat (or you can be weird like my friend Ashley and sponge off all the grease with a paper towel.  Who does that?).

Step 3:  Pour spaghetti sauce into pan with meat and put on low heat.  Clean up dog puke.

Step 4:  In a medium bowl, mix cottage cheese, all the mozzarella, 1/3 of the parmesan, and the handful of parsley.

Step 5:  Remember you forgot about the noodles.  Crap.

Step 6:  Noodles still aren't done.  Go back to watching tv.

Step 7:  Drain the noodles. 

Step 8:  Grab a pan, accidently put in sauce first, go with it, later claim to have known that would keep the lasagna from sticking in the pan.

Step 9:  Layer some noodles, then some sauce, then some cheese, then some noodles, then some sauce, then some get the point.

Step 10:  Put in the oven at 350F until everything starts to bubble up (or until the noodles on the sides start to get crispy.  I like crispy noodles.)

Step 11:  Pour the rest of the parmesan on the lasagna and stick back in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Step 12:  Stuff your face.  Save the left overs for lunch the next day.  Have a food baby.

Nom nom nom

Mmm, tasty off brand cream soda!  (Yes, my desk is a mess.  Oh well.)

Bonus picture of the moppet that threw up while we were trying to cook.