Archive | February, 2011

Weather Forecast: 90% Chance of Snowball Cupcakes

25 Feb

Incredibly, snow could be on the horizon for the San Francisco bay area. Unlike dentists reviewing toothpaste, it seems all of the weathermen and women are in agreement that snow is just about guaranteed in the higher elevations and very likely at sea-level.  This is newsworthy stuff, because if this region sees snow, it will be the first time since 1976. In preparation, I’ve been looking at old photos of the last momentous occasion and digging out my fluffiest, most hibernation-worthy sweaters.

I also decided to bake snowball cupcakes (the perfect possible-snowy-day treat), which seemed like a good idea (and simple enough) but didn’t go quite as I had planned. Maybe I should have made a To-Do list beforehand.

To give you an idea, this was my process:

  1. Look up recipe for White Cake in Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book. (I cannot stress this enough–you absolutely must use white cake. The point of a snowball cupcake is that it looks like a snowball: white cake, white frosting, a dusting of coconut.)
  2. The recipe is pretty straight forward and calls for flour, baking powder, salt, butter, sugar, vanilla, egg whites, and buttermilk or sour milk. Just thinking about these made-from-scratch treats is exciting. Get out all necessary ingredients and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Decide to reach for the stars and do laundry while baking. Congratulate self on ability to multi-task and similarity to glamorous 50’s housewife.
  3. Put load of laundry in and notice that stomach is growling. Decide that making delicious cupcakes while hungry would be cruel and just plain silly. Decide to eat lunch while baking cupcakes while doing laundry. Heat up unidentifiable leftovers and reassure stomach that yummy cupcakes are coming.
  4. Phone rings. Answer it and discover that it’s a good buddy. She’s bored and wants to discuss her cute new coworker. Give her the go ahead to describe his eyelashes in exquisite detail but warn her that baking/eating/laundry is in progress and nothing will deter the determination swirling in the kitchen. 
  5. Cute Coworker’s eyelashes prove to be a heavy conversation topic. Must sit down and devote full mental energy to good buddy.
  6. Dogs scratch on back door, want out. Get up, open door, sit down. Dogs scratch on back door, want in. Get up, open door, only one pup comes in. Interrupt good buddy to call dogs. Yell names. Clap hands. Promise dog treats. Finally, dogs come in. Go to cupboard to get promised treats for spoiled dogs.
  7. Find Trader Joe’s Yellow Cake Mix in cupboard. Feel like Eve, tempted by the easy cake-in-a-box. Good buddy senses distraction and serious moral dilemma in the air, says goodbye. Hang up phone and contemplate the good and evil of Trader Joes.
  8. Decide cupcakes don’t have to be made from white cake. Decide that using extra white frosting will cover the yellow. Decide to go with Joe.
  9. Trader Joe’s Yellow Cake Mix only calls for 3 eggs, 1 cup melted butter, and milk. Get out butter, look at handy marking on butter wrapper. Markings say that one cup of butter = 2 sticks. Call wrapper a liar and proceed to measure melted butter. Realize wrapper was correct and mentally apologize to butter wrapper makers everywhere.
  10. Whip up easy Trader Joe’s cupcakes, push down guilt over original cupcakes-from-scratch plan. Decide to make spectacular, EPIC frosting. Use cream cheese, whipping cream, vanilla, tons of powdered sugar. Mix. Taste. Mix. Taste. Mix…Taste. Taste. Taste.
  11. Take cupcakes out of dinging oven. Overcompensate for box-cake mix by plopping ginormous spoonfuls of frosting on cupcakes and swirling with knife into dreamy, sugary cloud. Pour coconut in bowl and twirl cupcakes, upside down, in flakes.
  12. Pause to ooh and aah over pretty snowball effect. Accidentally-on-purpose push thumb into one cupcake. Proclaim that it’s unfit for public viewing and eat it. Inform the dogs that Trader Joe’s mix is darn good stuff.
  13. Remember laundry that’s been done for at least 45 minutes.
  14. Think about sticking thumb in another cupcake.
  15. Do it.
  16. Decide that no matter what the chance of snow is, there’s at least a 10% chance that all snowball cupcakes will be eaten by the time the flurries fall.   

A Quick Word on Confession and Techy Catholics…

22 Feb

Are you technologically savvy and down with G-O-D? Do you live your daily life with an iphone in your pocket and a burden of guilt in your heart? Do you pray for more opportunities to clear your conscience?

There’s an App for that!

If you haven’t heard, the latest apple-related news that has Catholics abuzz has nothing to do with Eve or her rib-less beau. Recently, a Confession iphone app has become available to iphone and ipad users.  For a mere $1.99, users receive:

– Custom examination of Conscience based upon age, sex, and vocation (single, married, priest, or religious)
– Multiple user support with password protected accounts
– Ability to add sins not listed in standard examination of conscience
– Confession walkthrough including time of last confession in days, weeks, months, and years
– Choose from 7 different acts of contrition

Keep in mind that the Vatican is not embracing this idea of confession with a techy twist. “I must stress to avoid all ambiguity, under no circumstance is it possible to ‘confess by iPhone,'” said spokesman Federico Lombardi.

Even with the Vatican frown of disapproval (careful! your face will freeze that way!), the punchlines for this whole iconfess situation practically write themselves. My favorite so far comes from boingboing“Finally! A way to confess your sins with one hand while possibly still committing them with the other.”

My Fair Lady Redone: I Doubt It Will Be Loverly

20 Feb

You may recall that although I’m confused by perky people, I love me a musical. If you are unfamiliar with My Fair Lady (Oh my word! How could that be?), this post may mean very little to you. I urge you to go out and rent the movie. Go ahead. I’ll wait here.

I just found out that one of my favorite movie musicals, My Fair Lady, is going to be redone and I am not pleased. I am against messing with a classic and I am particularly loyal to that musical. At eight years old, I could sing every word of “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” and because I don’t do musical reenactments halfway, I could sing it with the cockney accent and everything. I would watch the nearly 3 hour movie over and over until my grandma threatened to take away my parasol. (Well, you can’t act out that fabulously fashionable racetrack scene without a parasol…)

Just you wait Henry Higgins! You'll fall for Eliza eventually!

The feminist in me is  embarrassed to admit how fascinated I am with the romance in My Fair Lady. It doesn’t matter how many times I watch Mr. Higgins’ terrible treatment of Eliza. (She ate marbles because of that man! He called her a heartless guttersnipe!) He wins me over by the time he breaks into “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.” (Incidentally, I believe that’s one of my top 5 favorite musical songs.) That part at the end, after Eliza has left him and he’s at his mother’s house? He looks at his feisty mom and says bewilderedly “She’s gone. What….what am I to do?” Boom. Give me a Team Higgins shirt and fetch the man his damn slippers, I’m hooked.

It’s terrible and I’m ashamed of myself, but there it is. I’ll bet the same side of my brain that goes gooey for Henry Higgins is also responsible for my unreasonable love for the musical Grease–another musical that doesn’ t send the best message for females. I’ll have to ask my cog-sci major friend. Maybe my amygdala is more of a Pygmalion-ygdala.

There’s talk that the upcoming remake of My Fair Lady will feature Colin Firth as Mr. Higgins. In fact, Sony allegedly won’t make the film without him. Now, Mr. Darcy Colin Firth is a fine actor. He is the MASTER of the quiet, emotionally-tortured facial expression. I dig him in Bridget Jones’ Diary. (You could say that I like him just the way he is.) I even liked him in Mamma Mia and What a Girl Wants. Everyone thinks he’s all but guaranteed the Oscar for The King’s Speech. But hear me now: I just don’t see him as Mr. Higgins. He’d have to be arrogant and slightly verbally abusive and “too cool” to joyfully leap out of his chair when the woman he loves comes home to him. Henry Higgins is not quiet and he’s not awkward and cutie Colin will not have the chance to show how sad his eyes can look. I can see him as Colonel Pickering, maybe, but not Henry.

I just think they should leave well enough alone. Can’t you Hollywood hotshots come up with NEW ideas? Remember, trying to re-do an already wonderful film is an uphill battle. If you screw around with the story or the scenes or the characters too much then you’ll have rabid fans after you. (Yes, there ARE rabid musical fans.) And if you stick too closely to the original oldy-but-goody then you run the risk of being accused of copying. The way I see it, you’re damned if you do and damned if you do, so I’ll be damned if I’m going to support you.

…………Okay, yes, there’s a certain twisted irony to my aversion to this remake. The My Fair Lady movie I am stubbornly clinging to was, if you think about it, a remake of the Broadway play with Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison. The Broadway play was an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion. I’m no Kevin Bacon, but that’s several degrees of un-separation and a history of screwing with the original.

But still. A My Fair Lady remake? No. Just…no.

Even though I know you’ve rushed out and rented and watched the film by now, here’s the ending (with my favorite song) for your viewing pleasure.

I’ve Got The To-Do Blues

17 Feb


It’s one of those days. It’s pouring rain, and while it’s no snowpocalypse, it is the California version of a bitch slap from Mother Nature. It’s 11 a.m and I’m still in my fluffy bathrobe (no work today), and I’m sitting in between three dogs. I didn’t call any of them to me, they all just gravitated over, instinctively knowing that we could all find a cozy level of bliss by snuggling.

Now I ask you, how can I leave the couch under these circumstances? There’s a lot I could (should) be doing right now. Laundry, for one. It would take very little time and energy to get up and turn the machine on. My mom and I have been trying to clean out the house’s spare room for about 3 weeks–I could work on it and surprise her with an HGTV-like vision. Or I could tidy up elsewhere in the house. Just past my laptop’s screen, there’s a pile of jackets that are demanding to be hanged up. I have a bad habit of coming home and just dropping my jacket wherever I take it off. It’s dramatic (picture me throwing the frock over a chair and flopping down, back-of-hand to forehead), and it’s lazy (if I go out again, the jacket’s right there), and I’m working on correcting it.  There’s about a cup and a half of coffee left in the pot–I could go heat it up, have a cookie. I could get dressed, brush my hair, read the newspaper, repair the 3 broken necklaces sitting on my dresser, make cookies, read a book, write a letter, or get back to the soul-sucking job hunt.

I like making To-Do lists. I made them all the time at school and sometimes my To-Do lists even had sub-lists, steps within steps. I know people who hate To-Do lists because seeing everything laid out in black-and-white (or purple, I like to write in purple) is overwhelming and intimidating and depressing. I like it. I live for crossing things off my lists–it’s satisfying and thrilling and motivating.

This morning, when it was raining so hard that it felt like I was in a bunker, I realized I haven’t made a To-Do list in a long time. There’s clearly something wrong here. I know that it was probably more necessary when I was in school and had, in addition to other work, four or more essays to write at any given time. I’m aware that my current internship is only part-time and is not all that demanding. But still, my To-Do list epiphany was a little sad.

So now you’re thinking that I must have made it my new mission to find more things to do, to feel more fulfilled. You would think so, wouldn’t you? But it’s still raining. And I’m still squeezed between snoring dogs.  And Say Yes To the Dress just came on tv. In a little while I’ll put a load of laundry in, and I’ll probably worry some more about the state of my life while I’m sorting whites from colors. But you know what? I won’t worry too much. I think my To-Do blues will all come out in the wash.

I know. That was terrible, I’m sorry. I’ll put “work on puns” and “write better endings to blog posts” on my next To-Do list.

Football, Charlie Brown, and Thin Mints

6 Feb

Well, happy Super Bowl Sunday everyone.

There was a priest at my family’s church when I was little who used to ask everyone to bow their heads and pray for whichever team he  himself was rooting for. Generally, the congregation would laugh at the joke but you know, I’m not so sure he was kidding. People are funny about football and I highly doubt that Father Dave is the only one in America who shoots some pigskin-related prayers out into the universe.

My wake-up call about football and football fans came when I was about nine years old. I dare say that I had a more traumatic football experience than Charlie Brown. (I know, that’s a bold statement. Think of all the times poor Chuck didn’t kick that football.) I was in girl scouts when I was younger and, after years of only selling cookies while accompanied by an adult, I was determined to rack up points on my own. With the agreement that I’d stick to our street, I set off to remind neighbors that Thin Mints and Samoas are delicious.  Here’s what I innocently failed to consider: it was Super Bowl Sunday. Now just so you know, I grew up in a household dominated by women who don’t place a high level of importance on football. My dad was the only football-watcher in the house so I had never seen the sort of rabid ferocity that I was about to discover. We were never super close with our neighbors, but were solidly enough in the acquaintance category to say hello when getting out of the car or inquire about their kids/dogs/jobs/rose bushes. That was the Bruce Banner side of them though. I suppose the kindest response to my doorbell ringing was no response–some people just didn’t answer the door, although I could hear them inside. Then there were those who shouted “GO AWAY!” (I suppose, in their defense, they didn’t know that there was a cute little girl scout, sales pitch ready, on their doorstep.) The worst was our direct next door neighbors who actually came to the door to yell at me. Reflecting back on this, the (mostly) grown-up me wishes the kid me had pulled a Seinfeld Soup Nazi and said “Fine! No cookies for you!”

Those neighbors moved away a few years after this incident. The joke was on them though, because I told the other girls in my troop not to go to their house. (“No cookies for you!“) That’s right, I ordered a girl scout cookie embargo on that family–and I hope they suffered

Today, I appreciate the allure of football a little more. I, however, will be spending this Superbowl Sunday at a flea market. I’ll probably eat some cookies too, just to honor the day.

Tim Allen is Trying to Contact Me Through My Television

3 Feb

As I was watching tv today, three commercials featuring Tim Allen’s voice came on in a row. I’m sure that this is a sign. I am very big on signs. What besides fate could have made commercials for Campbell’s, Chevrolet, and the great state of Michigan play in a neat little lineup? And don’t even try to tell me about marketing and target audiences and whatever other black magic words you can think of. Twas fate I tell you!

I’m still working out what exactly this sign means. There’s the possibility that I’m watching too much television. (Although really, Tim Allen, who are you to dictate my television time?) I could go for a sort of literal interpretation–maybe I need to drive a Chevrolet truck to Michigan and eat Campbell’s soup. That sounds logical, doesn’t it?

Let’s see, my favorite Tim Allen role is Buzz Lightyear, followed closely by Jason Nesmith (of Galaxy Quest, for all you squares). Buzz Lightyear…Galaxy Quest…space…..I know Tim’s not telling me to go to space because I can’t even ride a rollercoaster. Hmmm.

Well, barring his Pixar success, Tim Allen is probably most well-known for being Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor on Home Improvement. Maybe I’m meant to work with my hands, nail something, spackle. (Note: As soon as I ended that last sentence I realized that I have no idea what spackling involves. Luckily, informed me that spackle is a type of quick-drying plaster-like material; thus, spackling is the act of applying said plaster. Basically, to spackle is to plaster. Hey you know how “plastered” is commonly known as a level of drunkenness? I feel like “spackled” could work just as well. As in, “Dude, I was SO spackled last night!” Wait, is this still in parenthesis? What was I talking about? Oh yes, Tim Allen and fate. Guess I’ll get back to that. See you on the other side.) If we go with the Home Improvement angle for this sign, then this may well be my if-you-build-it-they-will-come/Noah’s ark moment.

Then again, I’m all about words here at Oh My Words. Campbell’s tagline is “It’s Amazing What Soup Can Do.” Chevrolet: “Chevy runs deep.” And as for Michigan, the state motto is “Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice,” which means “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.” Maybe Tim Allen (or an even higher power) is giving me a pep-talk through taglines? Perhaps I’m being told that I am complex and capable of amazing things and that I need only look around me for happiness. Huh? Huh? Pretty good, right? And, actually, that’s a wonderful pep talk because the job search has been a little disheartening lately.

Let’s not even talk about Tim’s jail record. I do not believe that my sign has anything to do with prison. That’s just ridiculous.

You Can Lead a Vegetarian to Chicken, But You Can’t Make Her Eat It

1 Feb

A few weeks ago, the father of a close friend of mine was very ill and had to go into the hospital so my grandma and I offered to make dinner for their family. We didn’t really have a menu in mind, but I have a great recipe for tortellini soup and I knew I wanted that to be a part of our meal. As we were racking our brains for an entree, I had a doh moment and remembered that my friend is a vegetarian.

Now, one of the many reasons I love my grandma is that for a 92 year old woman, she is a very modern thinker. But she did not seem to grasp the whole vegetarian concept. I was worried that my friend would not eat my soup, since its base is chicken broth. Here is a fairly accurate recreation of the conversation that went on between me and grandma:

GRANDMA:  “Why wouldn’t she eat the soup?”
ME:  “Because it’s half chicken broth. If she doesn’t eat chicken, why would she eat chicken broth?”
GMA:  “She doesn’t eat chicken??”
ME:  “No, I told you she’s a vegetarian.”
GMA:  “Well what do vegetarians eat?”
ME: “Vegetables…maybe tofu.”
GMA (in an insulted voice):  “Tofu!”
ME:  “Well, sometimes people are selective vegetarians. Like, they’ll eat fish but not anything else.
GMA:  “Well, everybody eats chicken. I thought we’d make lemon chicken for their dinner…”
ME:  “Not everybody eats chicken! That’s the whole point of vegetarianism! We can’t make lemon chicken.”
GMA:  “Well, how about pork chops?”
ME:  “Grandma, she doesn’t eat meat! That means noooooo animals!”
GMA:  “Well, God!”
A thoughtful silence passes and then…
GMA: “How about pot pie?”
ME: “You mean your pot pie recipe with chicken in it?”
GMA:  “Yes…What? Everybody eats chicken! What’s the matter with that?”

You are what you eat?

We ended up making vegetarian stuffed peppers, which came out quite good despite my grandma’s declaration that they “weren’t real.” I did make my soup, because I thought that maybe someone else in my friend’s family would eat it (and, okay, I was attached to the idea). Turns out, my friend does eat chicken broth. When I told my grandma, she threw her hands up in the air and said “I told you everyone eats chicken. Psh. And you wanted to make tofu.”