Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How to feel 19 again, in a bad way

When I was a teenager, after I got my license, I went on a lot of road trips.  My poor parents never knew exactly where I was.  I drove to California, I drove up the east coast of Canada to Novia Scotia, I drove all around.  Sometimes I slept in rest stops in my car, a giant Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera that let me stretch out quite comfortably in the back seat with my big comforter over my head so people couldn't see I was a girl alone.  Other times, if I was feeling particularly flush (or had a new credit card), I'd spring for a hotel.  It was never nice hotels, though.  Not like the kind I stay in now for work, with stocked mini-bars, name-brand toiletries, and Sleep Number beds.  Nope, I stayed in the beat down cheapest places in towns you've never heard of like Groom, Texas.

(Speaking of which, I will always have a bone to pick with Groom, Texas.  Picture this: you're driving along the freeway at night, half asleep because you got in the car somewhere around Kingman, Arizona, and you get to Groom, Texas, which is famous - if you can call it that - for having a 19-story cross.  It's Texas, so it's flat, right?  And at night they light this thing up so the astronauts can see it.  But think about the shape of a cross, especially a white one, lit up, at night.  As you're driving along, bleary-eyed, listening to too much Lyle Lovett, sipping your coffee, suddenly you perk right up, because, holy f*ck, that's a tornado up there!  ShitCrap what are you supposed to do?  It's getting bigger!  It's getting closer!  Are you supposed to get out of the car?  What if you get out and the car lands on you?  It's coming right towards you!  Holy shit.  Who can you call quick to tell you what you're supposed to do with a giant tornado - sheesh, it must be 19 stories!- coming your way in Texas?  There's a ditch by the side of the freeway, are you supposed to go in there?  It keeps coming closer!  Should you stop?  

But, hang on, it looks like...what the hell? that a giant...seriously?...somebody built a giant cross that looks like a tornado and lit the thing up in the middle of Nowhere, Texas?

I have no idea how many people have thought that the cross in Groom, Texas was a tornado, but it scared the shit out of me, and for that I refuse to ever stop there...I stop in Amarillo.)

Anyway, where was I?

Cheap hotels.

It's been a while. 

Monday night I stayed in the worst one ever (I was paying - it wasn't for work - so I thought I'd be cheap).  I had no idea that Pasadena could do "creepy" so well.  The Swiss Lodge in Pasadena is hands down, the most godawful place I have ever been in my entire life. And that's saying a lot, because the Super 8 in Kingman is pretty bad, too.  

Here's how to tell if your hotel is super-ghetto:

-  They don't keep the tv remote control in the room, but instead give it to people when they check in.  What could be the reason?  If they're afraid of people ripping them off, surely they still can?  I don't get it.  Either way, it's weird.  Even once you get into the room, the channels don't work right.  It's an old tv with the DirecTV box sitting on top, and you have to set the tv to be on channel 13 or something before the DirecTV channels kick in - it's like in the old days with a VCR box when you needed to have it on channel 3.  This would be ok, except nobody tells you that.  So you have to figure it out on your own.  

- There are spiders in the toilet.  This is just gross.

- There are no deadbolts or chains on the doors.  I solved this by jamming a chair under the doorknob - just like I did when I was 19! - but it didn't inspire a lot of confidence.

- When you check in, the guy at the front desk keeps asking you whether you're there alone.  You finally make something up about your husband maybe joining you, just because he's creeping you out so much.

- In the middle of the night, people are screaming in the parking lot.

- The ringer?  There are leftovers in the refrigerator.  Maybe it's the maid's lunch?  I don't know.  

The moral of the story is:

- read the reviews of a hotel before you book it.  If there are a ton of bad ones, and only a few good ones to try to skew the average, assume that those are employees.


- When you're 36, things that were ok when you were 19, ain't ok any more.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pictures from Monterey (and funny local news)

We were up in Monterey for our anniversary weekend - 6 years (says the girl who never wanted to get married in the first place...sheesh...).  I was at the Internet Librarian conference, which they always schedule conveniently in a beautiful place over my anniversary weekend.  So thoughtful of Information Today.  So by day I went to sessions on eBooks and web design, and then got to get all romantic with hubby in the evenings.  Sweet!

We went to a monarch butterfly sanctuary in Pacific Grove.  It's along the butterfly's migration track, so it's kind of like a giant Pilot Travel Center, and by late November, the trees are just covered with them.  The early ones were already starting to scope out the area when we got there.  In the pregnancy-loss world, lost babies are called Butterfly Babies, and we had fun trying to pick out which one was Baby T.  We think we caught him showing off his flapping skills here.

I took pictures of the ocean and hummed Enya's "Caribbean Blue" over and over, much to the chagrin of my husband.

And the waves.

While J showed off his rock-climbing abilities.  His neck is still intact.

And we watched it get dark over Monterey Bay while eating Pinkberry.  The 30 Day Sugar Detox is over, but it was the first dessert type of food I've had since September 16.  Crazy.

So today my mom left on a group tour of Scotland.  She parked in the shopping center where everyone was meeting to get on the bus to the airport, and promptly locked her keys in the car, along with all her bags.  Being prone to panic (it's where I got it from) she decided the best option would be to break her window, so that she wouldn't have to make the bus wait for her.  Never mind that she is in Pennsylvania, where a massive hurricane is set to arrive early next week.  Nope, she thinks it's a good idea to take a hammer to that sucker, and break her window.  Only thing is, the window doesn't break, despite the fact that she has biceps molded by years of working at UPS.  Eventually the tour operator saw the commotion, came over to see what was going on, and called triple A, who got her keys.  But the whole episode made J think of this funny local news video.  Breaking into a car is harder than it looks, I guess.   This has the bonus of being a funny bit of local news, as well as an informational instructional video. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


So one of the drawbacks of fertility treatments is that it's expensive.  You get all crazy from the hormones, and you get to pay a lot of money for the privilege.  Consequently we are taking budgeting to a new level.  I'm not really a fan of getting into more debt over a reluctant baby, so we're cutting back on all kinds of fun stuff (travel, Target) for now.  Since we know it's for a finite period, it makes it much less difficult, and we can see it as a bit of a game.  That being said, once we get done with this, I'm going to try to keep up my new habits so that we can continue to save money.

For example, I never buy anything without first searching for coupons.  My mom was/is a passionate coupon-er, but it's been a long time since I've scoured the Sunday paper with scissors.  I feel like an Old Person for what I'm about to say next - bear with me - And now there's the Internet!  (See?)  I had no idea that you could literally just google, oh, "Viva paper towels coupon" and get a dollar off.  Who knew?  Well, I guess the people who are saving a dollar on my paper towels knew.  But I never did.  I feel like a total putz now.  I already felt putzy enough because I didn't catch on to Gagnam Style until it had like 300 million hits on youtube.

Anyway, we're also cooking everything.  Like, everything.  In the past month or so I've made cheese crackers, soft pretzels, and potato chips from scratch.  I've cooked all kinds of new dishes like a kickass tofu carrot curry.

But the holy grail of making your own snack foods are pop-tarts.  Again, call me late to the party - apparently people on Pinterest have been making pop tarts for years.   But better late than never.

I love pop-tarts.  But I'm not a fan of the junk they're made of.  Or what a rip-off they are.

So I made my own.  I wimped out and used pre-made pie crust (but that's only because I had made my own pie crust for a mushroom-and-leek tart earlier and was feeling especially lazy)

Assemble the following:

Premade pie crusts
one egg
filling - I used strawberry jam  That Smitten Kitchen recipe lists all kinds of super ideas like savory pop tarts, ones with nutella, etc.  I'm going to experiment.

Cut out dough into a pop tart shape.
Cover one side with a light coating of beaten egg
Fill with jam (I'm going to need to practice this to see exactly how full to stuff them - mine keep exploding)
Cover with the two egg-covered sides going together (the egg somehow binds the crusts together)
With a fork, press down around the edges so that the two sides are together
Poke some holes in the top
Bake at 400 for about 13-15 minutes (keep an eye on them to watch when they look brown)
Take out of the oven, and let them cool
Eat without feeling guilty

Below I have my final result.  The little ones actually came out really good.  The big ones were too big, and I had stuffed them too much, so the one exploded.  Still it wasn't bad for a first try.  I'm definitely going to do them again, and make them smaller.  Still, for the equivalent of about 12 complete pop tarts, even splurging on the pre-made pie crusts, I was about about $4.50.  ($2.29 for the pie crusts, $.30 for an egg, and $1.99 for the strawberry preserves).  And they aren't loaded with a bunch of gunk I don't even want.

I like this thrifty thing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Soda-Sobriety Chronicles: Day 33

It's been 33 days since I've had a soda.  As my 30 day detox was winding down, I found myself starting to get more liberal with sugar, but I have learned my lesson.  Friday I was baking pumpkin muffins with a cream cheese frosting center.  I thought, "well, the entire muffin only has 12 grams of sugar, so I can take a little bite of this cream cheese frosty goodness and that will be barely a gram or two, right?" So I take a little teeny bite, and almost instantly I had an enormous headache.  Lesson learned.  No highly concentrated sugar/cream cheese frosting mixtures for me any time soon.  

Sunday I was driving home from the lake where I had my walk, got to McDonald's, and I thought, "I really deserve a diet coke.  If anyone deserves a diet coke, it's me.  Yep, I'm going to finally get a diet coke."  But then I found myself driving right past McDonald's without stopping for my diet coke.  I did stop at 7-11 for a newspaper, and again I pondered the soda fountain, but I didn't get any.  

Today I was grocery shopping and there was a Chick-Fil-A across the parking lot from where I was parked.  Without getting into a post about the CEO's political ideas, let me just say that I'm a fan of the diet coke at Chick-Fil-A.  I am slightly embarrassed at what a connoisseur of diet coke I have become over the past 23 years of drinking it.  There's something about the syrup level they use, as well as the foam cups, and the ice, that makes it my hands-down favorite (followed closely by Sonic, which also has foam cups and magic ice).  I'm not a fan of McDonald's diet cokes, to be honest.  Maybe it's the paper cups.  Maybe it's the ice.  They just seem off to me.

(I'm not a fan of diet coke from a bottle, I can tolerate a can, but my most favorite kind of diet coke is from a fountain, with lots of ice.  Just thinking about it makes me a bit misty-eyed.)

Anyway, so I was loading the groceries, and I thought, "ok, I'm going to pull my car out of my spot, drive across the parking lot, to the drive-through, and I'm getting a diet coke.  I'll make it small.  I gotta get a diet coke."  So I drive to Chick-Fil-A and I am almost at the drive-through when a giant pick up truck with a Romney sticker pulled in front of me and beat me to the entrance.  I took it as a sign, sipped my water, and morosely pulled off.

The thing is, I feel so good without drinking soda, and now that I've gone longer than any time since I was 13, I don't want to risk messing that all up, and having to start over.  Because seriously, the first week was hellish.  The cravings were terrible.  Now it's bearable.  I really only miss it about ten times a day, which beats the ten thousand times a day I was missing it a month ago.

So here we are.  Somehow I have managed to go for 33 days without having soda.  I'm thinking it might be fun to go for another 33 days, just for giggles.  I'm kind of feeling like an alcoholic with the whole one-day-at-a-time thing, but it really does work.  Today I said, "nope, no soda today.  Maybe tomorrow."  And if I tell that to myself every day, eventually I will have amassed a lifetime without soda (though that thought scares the crap out of me - a lifetime without soda?  What will I drink when I'm at the movies eating popcorn?  What about if we get pizza?  You can't eat pizza without soda?!?!).

It's nice not only being soda-free, but having so little sugar in my system that I get an instantaneous headache when pure sugar enters my mouth.  

I highly recommend it.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Soda Cravings

So I'm on Day 22 of my Sugar Detox.  And I capitalize all that because it's all Very Important.  I haven't had soda in three weeks and two days.  And all I want in the world right now is a giant diet coke.  From 7-11.  A monster-gulp 50 ounces of caramel goo in carbonated water.  

I'm officially over most of my sugar cravings.  I have some oreos in the cupboard that have been there for a month, and I looked at them today, and considered them, with their chocolate and icing sweetness, their crunchy goodness, and all I could think was, "meh" and then I sighed.  There is a half gallon of peach ice cream in the freezer, and it does nothing for me.  Nothing at all.  

The pumpkin spice "lattes" at 7-11 do nothing to tempt me, either.  I really don't miss them. 

But soda.  Ah, fizzy sweetness.  How I miss you, and long for you.

I'm thinking about joining a 12-step program.

That's all I can think about right now.  Giant plastic cups overflowing with sweet fizz...

(But, I'm down 8 lbs since I started this sugar detox, which makes it about 32 pounds total from my highest weight.  So it's worth it.  I guess.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Funny Local News and More Fertility Crap

My husband got a tenor saxophone.  He hasn't played in 15 years, but his high school has started an alumni band, and they might play in the Rose Parade in 2015 or something, so he's been re-learning it.  The first couple of days were pretty painful.  For a little while, I understood how my parents felt when I was 10 and learning the violin.  But he's getting a lot better, and when he jams he reminds me of a skinny Bill Clinton, which is weirdly hot.

Speaking of hot, we're doing another cycle of IUI this month, which means that J got to give me a shot in the hip today.  We sure know how to keep it interesting.  I'm getting really cynical about this whole thing.  This will be the third cycle, and I know that it's supposed to end up that you get a baby out of it, but I'm honestly resigned to this just being a giant money pit.  A woman in my choir said that a more empowering word might be that I'm just surrendering, but I think she's just sugar-coating it.  I'm 110% cynical at this point.  I go through the motions - acupuncture (which I really don't like), cut out caffeine,  etc etc.

But I'm not buying it that anybody gets a baby out of this procedure.  And then I start freaking myself out because I'm so negative, and I think I should be positive because maybe I'm making myself not be pregnant by being so negative, and then I think that if I keep thinking I'm going to make my head explode.  So then I sit in a bubblebath for two hours with my head under the water, ignoring everything except the cats trying to play with the shower curtain.

That is all.  I'm a cynical hormonal mess at the moment.

In that spirit, here's some funny local news, because it's been a while.  Nothing's funnier than farts and local news.  Mix it together for some magic alchemy.