Friday, August 31, 2007

August's Book List

Adams, Douglas. Mostly Harmless. 1992. The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Five
Complete Novels and One Story
. New York: Random House, 2005. 180 pages. I read it. It was nice because I always like to hear more about the characters, but when I finished it, I thought, "Well, that was a little stupid." But that probably the point.

Adams, Douglas. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. 1985. The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s
Guide to the Galaxy: Five Complete Novels and One Story
. New York: Random House,
2005. 142 pages. Much more fun.

Smith, Alisa & J. B. MacKinnon. Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating
. New York: Harmony Books, 2007. 272 pages. This book is like a cautionary tale about what can happen to your weight and relationship if you don't have wheat for nearly 6 months (they couldn't find any within the 100-mile radius). Think about it: a life without sandwiches! Scary. But the authors give you a lot to think about, and really, it's a lot more enjoyable and slightly less preachy than I expected it to be.

Weisman, Alan. The World Without Us. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2007. 287 pages. Wow. This guy looks at what would happen if all human life just disappeared one day. Nuclear plants would eventually melt down. The pipes in your house would freez and burst. Kudzu would be all over the place. Protected species might die out, cats would definitely go feral, new species might flourish. It's really, really interesting.

Woolf, Virginia. Orlando: A Biography. 1928. New York: Quality Paperback Book Club, 1993. It's really a novel. Ha! She fooled you! Orlando lives for hundreds of years, changes from a man to woman, and naturally has lots of adventures. It's about how we look at gender roles, literature, time, wealth, etc. I can't say it enough: Virginia Woolf is so very cool.

Chicken Marinade

I mentioned this on Monday. Here's the recipe.

“Becker Chicken Marinade” p. 585 of The Joy of Cooking

This makes 1 cup

Whisk together in a bowl until well blended:
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup red wine (which we skipped because we didn't have any)
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 tbs. chopped thyme
1 tbs. chopped rosemary
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. black pepper
4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced (Okay, ours came from a jar)
Juice of half a lemon (from a bottle)
3 dashes of hot pepper sauce

Other things:
It’s best to cook in a skillet, rather than grill because the juice falls off on a grill, or something like that (I’m just repeating what I was told).

Don’t let it marinade for longer than 3 hours.

Disposable Camera Pictures

The bust is of Colonol?/General?/Captain? Pulaski. He looks mean. This is somewhere by the river. We passed it when we went to Movies in the Park last month. Everything else seems pretty self-explanatory. Hope this didn't take too long to load.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Weekend Update

In a fun contrast to my last posting, this is just going to be a happy recap of things that have been going on for the past few days.

Cody had a job interview on Friday and was offered a job with the Maumelle Police Department as a dispatcher. The hours are going to be crazy and horrible. He'll probably never have a normal sleep schedule again. He starts tonight at 11 p.m. We're thrilled! He's going to learn a lot, and we'll still get to eat dinner together most nights. And he'll be making money, which is always great.

We didn't go to the Catholic High pep rally that night, but if we'd gone we could have watched Spencer (who is in band this year) play.............................the cowbell. Oh yes. He'll eventually get to play drums.

On Saturday I went to the Farmer's Market and bought one of those cute baby melons I've been seeing everywhere. I bought a dress. I didn't need it. I like it. I wore it Saturday night and all of Sunday. I met up with Alana and we wandered through the vendors together. She bought zinnias (good call!). That stupid flute player wasn't there, which was great. I can't stand that guy. He makes alleged Native American flutes and then plays one. It's loud, I think he's making up songs as he goes along, and I'm pretty sure he's not a native.

The bitter melons I bought last week are still sitting in the fridge, sensing my fear.

We went to Cajun's Saturday night to see someguynamedrobb play. He was more great than usual. After we all went our separate ways, Cody and I decided to just make a fun and crazy date night out of things, so we got some Chinese take-out (those people do such wonderful things with chicken) and rented Zodiac. We'd been told it was long, but I didn't realize it lasted 6 months or so. We fell asleep before it was over. We were probably drunk on MSG.

On Sunday we slept through church. I let Cody sleep as long as he could until I got too bored and had to wake him for lunch. He made some rice and we ate the rest of the previous night's chicken. We went to the grocery store. We read the paper. I talked to Levi for 3 hours. Cody took a nap.

We ate dinner and watched part of the Teen Choice Awards show. Or The Miley Cyrus/Zac Ephron Show. Whichever. I can't do a lot of judging when it comes to teen idol worship (I was pretty devoted to Hanson, which reminds me, their new album came out last month and I need to get it), but I'm disturbed by the young Mr. Ephron's resemblance to David Cassidy. It's just too much.

Cody found a recipe for the best chicken marindae for dinner last night. Best. Ever. In. The. World. We might be having it again tonight. He managed to stay up till 4 this morning so he could sleep today. Awesome.

Target had Tide on sale for $5.99. I had a 50¢ coupon. And because we don't get charged for water, and I put everything on cold wash/cold rinse, I'll be doing 32 loads of laundry for $5.49 (minus tax). That comes out to about 18¢ a load! I love saving money. Drying is a different matter, but at least I have 3 clotheslines up.

I checked out Dune: House of Atreides at the library. It's the prequel to Dune. I liked the miniseries on Sci-Fi, so why not try the series?

We found an Our Lady of Guadelupe candle for our house. Cody wanted to light last night, but I didn't like how it smelled. He said our house would smell like a church. I said our house wasn't a church and I didn't believe in prayer candles. Plus, I think you're supposed to let it burn continuously and those things can last 7 days! I think it's great that you get your money's worth (we got it for a dollar or so), but I'm not leaving a burning candle unattended. But I like Our Lady of Guadelupe. I think she's the prettiest.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bitter Melon

I mentioned that I bought some bitter melon Saturday in my last post. In case you've been curious about what to do with bitter melon (I've been curious about it anyway), I googled it.

I learned from wikipedia that inner red part and seeds can be eaten raw, and that they taste pretty sweet. I know it's used in Asian dishes I'll never eat. I know the longer it lives, the more bitter it becomes. I know you can make tea out of it, but I haven't been able to find out how. I read on that you shouldn't consume it if you're pregnant, which makes it seem even cooler to me. (Somehow, I don't feel this way about soft cheeses and Tylenol. I really hope Velveeta doesn't count as a soft cheese. I may have to adopt if that's the case.)

Here's a portion of the wikipedia entry:

"The flesh is crunchy and watery in texture, similar to cucumber, chayote or green bell pepper. The skin is tender and edible. The fruit is most often eaten green. Although it can also be eaten when it has started to ripen and turn yellowish, it becomes more bitter as it ripens. The fully ripe fruit turns orange and mushy, is too bitter to eat, and splits into segments which curl back dramatically to expose seeds covered in bright red pulp." That seems oddly beautiful to me.

So that's how bitter melon works. I think I'll try it tonight to see how it works.

Weekend Update

Last Friday, Cody and I talked about making jam, but none of the pick-your-own places had any blackberries left. The more I thought about the process and how long it would take and how hot the kitchen would get the more I freaked out until I decided we might make jam some weekend, but not this weekend. So we didn't. But if we ever do, our canning stuff is ready for us. So I went to the Farmer's Market by myself on Saturday, which meant I didn't buy as much as I usually do because there was only one set of arms to carry things. And since it was my set of puny arms, I didn't get very much or anything very big. I finally broke down and bought some bitter melon. All of the Asian peoples sell it, and I've been seeing it for weeks, and it was something like $1.50 for 3 or 4 and so I bought some. I haven't tried it, yet. I'm going to google it to see if we're supposed to cook with it, eat it, dry it, whatever. I went to the restaurant and ate. I showed up at 10:30 because Cody thought that things would be slowed down enough by then and we could eat together. He and Spencer finally got their breaks around 12. I didn't wait on him to eat. My love for chicken strips was too strong. So I sat with his aunt and uncle, talked to them, read my book after they left, and then I got to hang out with Cody and Spencer. I got home around 1. Did some laundry. Cleaned some stuff. Thanked God I wasn't spewing juice over everything and boiling things. Cody got in at around 3 or so. We watched TV.

Sunday, we went to church for the first time in a while (translation: we woke up before 10). We visited the Highland Valley United Methodist Church (I think I got the name right). A friend had recommended it to us. Right now the best thing I think it has going for it is that it's right across the street from the Kroger. I think we should go back for the rest of the month before we move on to something else. We shared a pew with one of the cutest little girls in existence. No, really: it made me smile just to look at her. Afterwards, we went to Kroger, ate frozen pizza for lunch, and watched some more Bones on DVD. I love TV on DVD. I'm going to be sad when we finish Season One. We eventually got off the couch and started getting ready for Sunday dinner, which was moved to supper-time because Jeff had to pick Alana up at the airport at 5ish. For some reason, we didn't potluck this one. I don't know if it's because Cody had so many things he wanted to try, or if it was because we already had so much food. But the only thing anyone had to bring was drinks. So Jeff showed up with Mt. Dew and creme soda. Creme soda is so wonderful. Dinner was good. The company was good: Jeff, Alana, Jason, Jessi, Kayla, and Brad. We talked about food, and friends, and old classmates. Everyone left around 9 or so. Jeff and Alana had to go back to the airport to see if her luggage had finally arrived (it had), and everyone just eventually followed them out. I had my weekly phone call with Levi. We talked about pizza, odometers, laws, dust, sorting laundry, family, and the joys of getting real mail. I stayed up late cleaning the kitchen and was tired yesterday. Plus, my allergies are bothering me: I'm ready for some rain! At least we're below 100 degrees now. I went to bed early last night and slept in a little this morning anyway. That's really it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Word Choice Is Important

From the THV website. At the time I copied this, it was their second most-viewed story.

Marriage At Any Age In Ark.

Governor Beebe may have to call legislators back to the Capitol to change a law passed this year that would allow Arkansans of any age -- even infants -- to marry if their parents allow it. Bill sponsor Representative Will Bond says the legislation was intended to establish 18 as the minimum age to marry but was intended to allow pregnant teenagers to marry with parental consent. An extraneous "not" in the bill, however, allows anyone who is not pregnant to marry at any age if the parents allow it. Bond says the way the bill came out clearly did not the express the intent of legislators. The Arkansas Legislative Council says the change needed to fix the law is too great for the code revision commission to handle. That's because eliminating the legal age for marrying went beyond the scope of an ordinary technical error. The commission will likely have to meet in the coming weeks to undo a change it made to the law, and several lawmakers said a special session may be necessary. Senator Sue Madison of Fayetteville, says the bill would attract pedophiles to Arkansas.
Mike Duncan, Reporter, Weekend Anchor
Created: 8/18/2007 2:41:51 PM
Updated: 8/18/2007 2:42:32 PM

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ran an article on this Saturday. The article stated that a special session would cost roughly $19,000 a day.

Here's part of the law dealing with the Arkansas Code Revision Commission:
§ 1-2-303(d)(1) In exercising the powers and duties imposed upon it by this subchapter, the commission shall not authorize any change in the substance or meaning of any provision of the Arkansas Code or any act of the General Assembly. The bureau shall not change the substance or meaning of any provision of the Arkansas Code or any act of the General Assembly. However, the bureau working under the direction of the commission may:
(A) Correct the spelling of words;
(B) Change capitalization for the purpose of uniformity;
(C) Correct manifest typographical and grammatical errors;
(D) Correct manifest errors in references to laws and other documents;
(E) Correct manifest errors in internal reference numbers;
(F) Substitute the proper Arkansas Code section number, subchapter number, chapter number, subtitle number, title number, or other number or designation for the terms "this act", "the preceding Code section", or any similar words or phrases;
(G) Number, renumber, redesignate, and rearrange chapters, subchapters, sections, subsections, and subdivisions, or any combination or portion of chapters, subchapters, sections, subsections, and subdivisions;
(H) Change internal reference numbers to agree with renumbered chapters, subchapters, sections, subsections, subdivisions, or portions of chapters, subchapters, sections, subsections, and subdivisions;
(I) Substitute the correct calendar date for "the effective date of this act" and other phrases of similar import;
(J) Correct inaccurate references to:
(i) Funds;
(ii) Fund accounts;
(iii) The titles of officers;
(iv) The names of departments or other agencies of the federal government, the state government, or local governments, and the names of other entities; and
(v) The short titles of other laws;
(K) Make any other name changes necessary to be consistent with the laws currently in effect; (L) Alphabetize definitions and make any necessary changes to conform the definitions sections to Arkansas Code style and format;
(M) Insert or delete hyphens in words so as to follow correct grammatical usage;

It goes on and on, but I'm sure you get the idea. I haven't had this much fun cutting and pasting Arkansas Code since I found the definition section that let us know (at least for the purposes of that subchapter) a tractor is not a motorcycle. The next time I'm searching for a job, I should just cut and paste all this in the job for a previous job description.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday and Stuff

Various things may or may not be going on this weekend. Cody and I are going to try to find a place to pick blackberries and can jam this weekend. Jeff and I are trying to organize Sunday dinner, which is probably going to be Sunday supper. So if you want to come, get ahold of someone (a trend I'm noticing: whoever hosts the event prepares the meat dish). There is much fun to be had.

Cody's still washing dishes and spending lots of time with his family. I found out Catholic (full name: Catholic High School for Boys) is closing at noon for a while because it's really not a good idea to stay indoors without air conditioning during a heat advisory. Yes, I realize it's been done before. Yes, I realize that you probably did it when you were a kid. Yes, I realize it's part of the tradition, Father Tribou, greatest prep school on the planet, blahblahblah, I find it hard to pay attention because I don't care.

Here's what gets me: The school could afford to install, and pay the bills on, air conditioning. The building is big and old. Someone could very well die. Spencer (Cody's younger brother) seems to do okay, mostly because he's spent half his summer either sweating over a sinkful of dishes at Kierre's or drumming in a garage, even if he doesn't take his shirt off--which you are allowed to do since it's all boys, but fat kids get mocked (Cody said he never had a problem doing it even though he'll be the first to tell you he's fat and hairy. Granted, he had also earned himself the nickname "Alf" by that point in his life so he apparently didn't have a lot of dignity to lose. For the record, I've never been able to spot the resemblence.). I just remember how he (Spencer) was happy that he wasn't smart enough to take Latin and would have to take French for his foreign language because the French classroom had window units. Other kids probably can't handle the heat so well. And I'm pretty sure the parents don't get refunds for all the classroom time their kids are missing, to say nothing of the workhours they miss every semester to pick up their sons early. So the school which is supported, in part, by the Catholic Church (which I've heard has money) doesn't have air conditioning. Mount Saint Mary's Catholic School for Girls (Catholic's sister school) has air conditioning. Mount's tuition is almost twice that of Catholic's because it's not supported by the Church, it's supported by some sisterhood of nuns (nuns don't have a lot of money). In case you're wondering how I know this, my supervisor's daughter goes to Mount Saint Mary's and she told me. Why? Because there's not a lot going on around here. I also know whenever anyone adopts a cat or has trouble with their flowerbeds.

On a completely unrelated note: I have read that you can cut your electric bill by 30% by unplugging all of your appliances when they're not in use. One easy way to do this is to plug everything into a splitter, and then flip off the splitter and unplug it whenever you go to bed, or leave for the day.I want to try this, but I really hate re-programming the TV.

So there are my thoughts and digressions for the time being. Hope everyone enjoys the weekend.

Currently reading: Orlando, by Virginia Woolf, who is an awesome genius.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Books, You are My Friends

I got my library card in the mail yesterday. Having this card means I can gain access to the collections of the 10 or so libraries that make up the Central Arkansas Library System. It means I can check out 5 books for up to a month (unless they're 14 day checkouts, then it's just for 14 days). It means Cody and I won't have to share a card! I'm pretty excited. I love books. I like the way they look. I like the way they smell. I like the way they feel in your hands. I like stories, and information, and pictures. I like that my love of books makes me look smart.

Okay, the last sentence is more about how I like having my ego boosted, but the others are true statements about the pure joy I take in books. I really want to take Dallas to the library with me some time. I want to do this partly because I think he needs to go into a big library just to know that three-story libraries aren't just something you see on TV and far away. I also want to do this because once he knows I have a library card to a three-story library, he's going to think I'm amazing and cool. Yes, it may seem a bit pathetic to work for the adoration of a five-year old, but you must understand that I'm competing with a pit crew student and two girls who take him to Sonic. Plus, I think it would be enjoyable for him if I could take him one Saturday just to mess around in the River Market; to see the farmer's market, the library, the river, fountains, just fun stuff like that.

One more thing about the library card, and then I'll move on to other things. On the back of my approved library card application was a 50% off coupon on up to 2 'gently read' books at the used bookstore that shares a parking lot with the library. Hallelujah! I love books. I love coupons. I'm so happy.

Cody's working at the restaurant washing dishes until he gets a job or his mom finds a dishwasher (they seem to have a revolving door for dishwashers there). It's a good deal: money and free lunch and something to do during the day while he waits on people to call him back. He should be getting a call about one job pretty soon. He registered to take Spanish II on Monday. This could be the final undergraduate course for him. Pray for us. I mean it.

Yesterday was rib day at the restaurant (in case you're curious, the name is Kierre's Kountry Kitchen and they're open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday-Saturday. And they cater. It's one of my favorite places to eat and it's one of my favorite perks of being married to Cody. They have great pie.), so he brought some back for me. I ate them and I was happy. There are 2 more left in the fridge and I'll probably eat them for dinner and be happy again. I love ribs. I wisely decided against bringing them for lunch today because I knew I'd get all happy and sleepy for the rest of the afternoon. So I'll just have to be happy for the rest of the day with the knowledge that they're waiting for me at home. And be happy with the books, and the coupons, and the library card.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Allergen Levels

If we ever get cable, I'm going to park it on the Weather Channel. I used to watch it every morning when I was getting ready for school. I love it. So I went to to check on the pollen and mold levels of the places we'll be this week because the postings at the allergy clinic are a little vague. So here we go:

Tree pollen: none
Grass: low
Weed: moderate
Mold: high

Little Rock
Trees: none
Grass: none
Weed: moderate
Mold: high

Trees: none
Grass: low
Weed: low
Mold: no report (I'm guessing 'high')

Trees: none
Grass: none
Weed: very high
Mold: high

This is where it gets interesting
Trees: none
Grass: moderate (but it will apparently jump down to 'low' tomorrow)
Weed: moderate (but will spike to 'high' tomorrow)
Mold: no report (it's probably 'high')

What can we learn from this? A few things:
  • Mold is going to kill us all.
  • Because mold is going to kill us all, some people should start measuring the levels in their cities.
  • Apparently the Weather Channel is not on top of everything (yet).
  • Pollen levels can fluctuate wildly from day to day.
  • The Weather Channel color-codes allergen levels along the same lines of National Terror Security Levels, or just, you know, live doppler radar.
  • Vinegar probably won't solve any of your allergy woes.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Cleaning with Vinegar

What, you thought I was kidding?

I found this very nice website,, and got the following tips:

  • Discourage ants by spraying undiluted white distilled vinegar outside doorways and windowsills, around appliances and wherever you find the pests coming in. Get rid of fruit flies by setting out a small dish of undiluted white distilled vinegar. I'm pretty excited about these two. I've never heard of it before, but I'm trying it when I get home.

  • To clean a scummy showerhead, pour 1/2 cup baking soda and 1 cup white distilled vinegar into a sandwich bag and tie it around the showerhead. Let this set for an hour after the bubbling has stopped. Remove the bag and then turn on the water. Again, I've never heard of this, but I'm going to try it on our sinks' faucets because I've seen things, terrible things that made me want to unscrew the faucets and soak them in bleach before they're fit to throw it in the trash.

  • To remove paint from windows try using undiluted, hot white distilled vinegar. Give the solution time to soften the paint before removing with a razor edge tool. Seriously, I've never heard of this one either, but I want to try it because we've got some spots and it looks pretty ghetto.

  • Wash indoor/outdoor carpet with a solution of 1 cup white distilled vinegar in 1 bucket of warm water. Scrub using a brush or a broom and then hose off. Basically, I just want someone to hose off their indoor carpet and tell me how it works out for you.

  • Get decals off walls or doors by letting undiluted white distilled vinegar soak into them for several minutes before trying to peel them off. Repeat if necessary. This made me think of Sara. You can also use it to remove wallpaper, which again, made me think of Sara.

  • Remove the smell of a dead mouse or other rodent (after removing all animal remnants) by wiping down the area with either white distilled vinegar or bleach. Then place a fabric softener sheet in the area to remove any lingering odors. Naturally, this one made me think of Laine. I just really like how they tell you to remove the rodent remnants first, just in case you didn't know that would help.

  • Remove wallpaper easily by using a paint roller to wet the surface very thoroughly with a solution of equal parts white distilled vinegar and hot water. Or spray on until saturated.

  • Soak a sponge or loofah overnight in a strong white distilled vinegar and water solution to remove dirt and slime. Rinse several times with cold water and let air dry (in the sun if possible). Now I can stop denouncing all sponges as breeding grounds for bacteria and general filth!

  • To kill germs, spray full-strength white distilled vinegar on doorknobs and then wipe them dry. I'll remember this in the unlikely event that I run out of Clorox wipes during some illness season.

  • Clean the wheel of a can opener using white distilled vinegar and an old toothbrush. Maybe if I start doing this, Cody will stop putting the can openers (yes, I used the plural, we're on our third one) in the dishwasher. Sigh.

  • To remove grime, mildew, and scum from the tub, tile, shower curtain or door, wipe with undiluted white distilled vinegar. Rinse with water.

  • Remove the smell of spoiled food from a refrigerator by first rinsing the area with soap and water. Spray surfaces with full-strength white distilled vinegar and wipe them down with a damp cloth or sponge. Fill some containers with baking soda and place inside. Close the door and leave for a few days.

  • Remove stains from coffee and teacups by scrubbing them gently with equal parts of salt (or baking soda) and white distilled vinegar. Rinse clean. My coffee cups aren't stained (yet) but this will be useful knowledge when I'm Granny and Papaw's age. Remember the hazards of drinking water out of one of their coffee cups? Ugh.

  • Wipe grease off exhaust fan grids, the inside of your oven, or anywhere grease gathers with a sponge soaked in white distilled vinegar. Thank you, vingegar Internet deities, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  • Here's Mom's favorite: Clean the microwave by mixing 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl. Bring it to a rolling boil inside the microwave. Baked-on food will be loosened, and odors will disappear. Wipe clean.

  • Clean counter tops and make them smell sweet again with a cloth soaked in undiluted white distilled vinegar. My countertops never smelled sweet to begin with, but hey....

  • Clean and deodorize urine on a mattress with a white distilled vinegar and water solution. Then sprinkle the area with baking soda and let dry. Brush or vacuum the residue after it is dry to the touch. You never know.

Now, lest you think I just worship vinegar and all of its cleaning gloriousness, I will include this note of caution from the site:

  • Never use white distilled vinegar on marble. The acid can damage the surface. Thank goodness my marble items will remain safe and unblemished.

I even found a website,, that offered cleaning advice straight from the book (which you can see up there, assuming I did everything right). I learned how to make vingear furniture polish. Calm yourselves, of course I got the instructions.

One version: mix 1 tablespoon with 2 tablespoons of (say it with me!) vinegar and a quart of water. Then you just put it in a spray bottle and let the crazy highjinx ensue.

Another version: mix 1 part vinegar with 3 parts olive oil. Still another version of this would be to replace the olive oil with lemon oil for a more "vibrant aroma." I kid you not.

I also learned from this site that you can't mix vinegar with bleach because it will cause harmful gases. That actually seems pretty exciting, but I'm just going to move on the last tip: soaking tools in full-strength vinegar for a few hours will remove pretty much all of the grease and they'll be shiny and beautiful again. Maybe they'll even smell sweet again.

First blog

Here's my first post for blogspot. I've made this so that people (mostly my siblings) can read my unsolicited advice on anything, or everything. And also so that I'll be able to import blogs onto facebook.

So here's your first bit of irrelevant news:
North Carolina was the last state to secede from the Union on May 20, 1861.

Coming up next: fun cleaning projects with vinegar! You're welcome.