Nov 27, 2009

Funniest Thing I've Seen All Week

This is pretty darn funny.
It's actually safe for work, although you might not want to watch it there.
Just thought I'd warn you first, but nothing to offend anyone really.

Are you ready?
Go here.

(Hint: You have to click the 'play' button more than once)

Post T-Day Food Report

OoOoOoOo..... finally recovered from my turkey-induced coma and can tell you about how the day went.
Ah, scratch that. I just want to tell you about how my recipes turned out.
In a word... Awesome!

I stuck to the list of ingredients, but I have to admit they leave a lot of room to play around with.
You can add or subtract as much sausage, celery, etc... to get it the way you want it.

I did make a couple of modifcations to it while I was mixing it up:
I added 1 small clove of garlic to the butter that I cooked the celery, onions and mushrooms in.
I also added a little bit of rosemary to the stuffing (I didn't measure, but if I had to guess it was about 1/4 teaspoon).
Otherwise I stuck to my original plan and made it the way I wrote it out and planned on doing.

I will definitely make this stuffing from scratch again. It was totally worth it.

As for the potatoes....
The only thing I did that wasn't on the recipe earlier was I added fresh ground pepper and salt to them before cooking them.
I cut up the potatoes, crumbled the bacon, (coarsely) chopped the rosemary and then put it all in a big mixing bowl. Then I poured the olive oil over it and ground some pepper and shook a little salt over it before mixing it up and dumping it into the baking dish.

They both turned out great and everybody like them.

Today Hotness and I braved a couple of stores to do some holiday shopping.
We weren't looking for any of the "Black Friday" specials, but there were certainly enough people out-and-about that it was difficult to find parking and get through the check-out lines.
Luckily we didn't have much to do so we weren't stuck in any of it for too long.

Tomorrow, I have some errands to run early in the day and then my afternoon will be filled with more babysitting. (I'm thinking of having business cards made up with "Professional Babysitter" on them. Hmmm.... what do you think?)

That's all for now.
More to come soon, I promise.

Nov 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving 2009

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Today I am making the stuffing I posted the recipe for earlier.
I'm really looking forward to how it comes out.
I'll post my thoughts on it after this Friday.

So yesterday I got to spend the day in Seattle with Technogreek and my friends from Calgary, "K & L".
L is a B-I-G fan of animation and it just so happened that there was an animation exhibit going on at the Pacific Science Center.
Having connections like I do (wink-wink), I was able to get all four of us FREE PASSES to the exhibit for the day.
Which was especially nice, since the whole thing was geared a lot more for kids than for the general animation loving public.
There were a lot of hands-on projects for younger folks, but not a whole lot of history or background for us 'old fogies' who remember the "Good Old Days".
They did, however, have a nifty real-time animation set-up that took your picture in "bullet time" and then animated it right there for you.
This was just one of the three that we did:

Overall it was a fun experience, but I'm certainly glad we didn't have to spend full price to see it.

Afterwards, we went to a sports bar across the street for some Kobe Beef burgers, and then to Bellevue to check out a paper supply store for L.

Technogreek had an appointment in the afternoon, so he dropped us off at his place. K and I went to the Comic Stop and then to Jamba Juice before I dropped him back off and headed back home for the day.

Other than that, I watched "Boondock Saints" with Hotness that evening, under the threat of my brother disowning for not having ever seen it.
It was really good, and I'm surprised I hadn't known about it earlier.
Now that I have seen it, my brother has agreed to not disown me and I am back in his good graces again. (*WHEW!* I was really worried there for a bit!)

Anyway, I wish everyone a terrific Thanksgiving and I have some good news looming on the horizon. I'll write more about it when I have something 'concrete' to report.

Nov 22, 2009

Gluten-Free Cornbread Stuffing

I'm up early on a Sunday morning. Hotness is still in bed snoozing.
I figured, now is a good time to blog and put up a recipe I'm working on for Thanksgiving.

Before I start in, I should mention a couple of things:
1) This is a recipe I'm making for the FIRST TIME. I'm not sure how it'll come out, as I'm "winging it" as I go along.
2) All measurements (that aren't specified) are approximate. I'll try to be accurate, but it's sort of up to personal preference on some of this stuff, so use as little or as much as you see fit.

First, we start with the cornbread since this is the base for the whole thing.
You can use a commercial gluten-free mix, like Bob's Red Mill GF Cornbread Mix. (This is probably the easiest way to go, but since I couldn't find it when I went shopping, here's how to make your own...)
> 1 Cup of gluten-free (GF) cornmeal
> 1 Cup of GF flour (I used: 1/2 Cup rice flour + 1/4 Cup Tapioca flour + 1/4 Cup cornstarch.... all available through Bob's Red Mill)
> 1 Teaspoon Xanthan gum (this stuff is rather expensive, but a little bit goes a very long way, so it all works out if you plan on doing a lot of GF baking)
> 1/2 Cup sugar
> 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder (I used Clabber Girl, but make sure the brand you use is gluten-free.... they should be by nature, but sometimes you never know)
> 1 Cup of Milk (I used Fat-free, or "Skim", but that's just personal choice)
> in a 1 Cup measure, put 2 eggs and then top off with vegetable oil to make "1 Cup"

Mix the dry ingredients first, then add the wet ingredients to it and mix well.
(for added flavor, I added about 1/2 tsp of rubbed sage and 1/4 tsp of thyme to the dry ingredients)

Pour it in a skillet or baking dish (8x8x2 should be fine) and bake at 425 F. (Originally my recipe said for only 20 minutes, but it actually took about 35-40 minutes. I'd say start at 20 minutes and check it to see if a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out without any gooey batter. If it does, it's done. If it doesn't add another 5-7 minutes until it is)
* One thing about GF breads is that thay are "heavier" and more dense than typical bread. Don't be surprised if it doesn't come out looking like regular cornbread (such as Jiffy Cornbread).

Let it cool and then slice the cornbread into 1/2 - 3/4 inch slices.
Take the slices and cube them into 1/2 - 3/4 inch cubes.
Then let them sit for a couple of days to get nice and stale. (You want them kind of dry and hard when you make the stuffing).

If you don't have a couple of days, you can spread the cubed bread out on a cookie sheet and dry them in the oven for an hour or so. Turn your oven to 150 - 200 F and check on them periodically. When they are nice and dry (almost like croutons), they're done.

That recipe (plus the stuff we're going to add next) should be enough to make a side-dish for 4 or 5 people. So if you are planning on more people, just double-up the recipe. If you have leftover stuffing, who doesn't like stuffing the next day? Only communists, I tell you.

Now to make the stuffing.
Measurements are approximate, so feel free to add more if you like it, or leave it out if you don't.

In a skillet on med heat, melt about 4 Tablespoons of butter and to it add:
1/2 cup of chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 Cup of Mushrooms (see below)
Stir these around for a bit until they start to get a little soft. (The onion starts to turn translucent about that time)
Then add these to your cornbread cubes and toss them around to mix it all up

In a saucepan, heat up 1 cup of GF chicken broth (you could use vegetable broth if you want) and add 1 teaspoon of sage (I use "rubbed" instead of "ground", but the flavor is the same so use what you have... and feel free to use more if you like sage).
It doesn't need to boil, but get the broth to a simmer to make sure you get the sage flavor to mix.
Then add this to your cornbread cubes and mix it up good so that everything is soaked in both, and put it in a baking dish (the size will depend on what you decide to add to the stuffing next...)

I am adding to this mix:
> approx. 1 Cup of wild mushrooms (I bought dehydrated ones at the grocery store and followed the directions for reconstituting them)
> approx. 1 tart apple (like Granny Smith) chopped up into small cubes
> approx. 1/2 Cup of dried cranberries (I'm using Craisins, but you could also use chopped dried apricots instead)
> approx. 1 Cup of cooked and drained pork sausage (not the "maple-flavored" kind, though)
> approx. 1/2 Cup of shelled pistachios (or walnuts, pine nuts, or even shelled pumpkin seeds!)

Mix everything (or at least, everything you want to add from the list of extras) and bake it in the oven at 425 F for about 30-40 minutes until everything is heated through.

I've never made this recipe before, but I did make good old Stove-Top Stuffing and added these ingredients to it and it was wonderful. I can't see that making stuffing from scratch would be any different.
I'll let you know how mine came out after Thanksgiving is over.

***** Bonus Recipe *****
I'm also making some roasted red potatoes. This recipe is E-A-S-Y!!
Chop up some red potatoes into approx 1 inch cubes (about 7 regular-sized taters), and put them into a bowl.
Add fresh ground pepper and salt (enough to taste) and a generous amount of chopped rosemary (if I had to measure, I'd say at least a tablespoon)
And crumbled cooked bacon. (Mmmm! BACON!) Maybe about a 1/4 Cup (or a little more... it IS bacon after all!)
Then pour olive oil over (just enough to coat everything evenly) and toss everything around a bit to mix it all up.
Put it all in a baking dish and bake at 425 F until the potatoes are done (usually about 45 minutes, but check them periodically... it could take an hour)

Anyway, that's what I'm making this year.
If you try either (or both) of these recipes out and have any comments or suggestions, let me know.

Until next time.....

Nov 19, 2009

KISS Alive 35

I apologize for the tardiness in getting this up on the blog, but I was kept down with a bad cold when I woke up on Monday and I've just been taking it easy.
Apparently rocking out on Sunday night took too much out of me. But before I dive into what happened, a little history first....

I'd never been a big fan of KISS growing up. Mostly because my mom thought they were a bad influence, but also that I wasn't really into that kind of music as a youngster.

As I grew older, and started to develop my (warped) sense of musical taste, I never really took the time to 'discover' them and see what the fuss was about. The few songs I'd heard were just okay to me.
But they have a devoted fan base of all ages.... the KISS Army, it's called.

I saw them about 8 years ago during their "Official Farewell Tour", back when all original four members were putting on the makeup and hitting the concert circuit.
I thought, "Well, I'll probably never get to see them again so I ought to check them out and see them live before they retire".

What a fantastic concert!
They pull out all the stops to make their show a spectacle beyond any other.
I became a fan of the band after that night.

Their "Farewell Tour" turned out to not be so 'final' after all, as they have continued touring during the last 8 years since I saw them.
When I heard they were coming back to town, I thought it'd be fun to go see them again but having been recently laid off (and therefore having to watch what I spend), I figured I'd have to pass.
Besides, it was only two original members and two others who've been in-and-out of the band over the years, so really it probably wasn't going to be the same anyway.

Then on Friday (before the show), I was putzing around on Facebook when I saw a post by Wicked Juan... "Going to try and score $10 KISS tickets".
WHAT!?! Tickets for 10 bucks?! Seriously?!?
I wished him luck, and he turned around and sent a message back to me, "You can try and get them too, here's the link....".
How... HOW, I ask you?... could I pass up a chance to get super-cheap tickets to go see KISS?
I couldn't.
So I followed the link, typed in the "secret code" and.... I scored them as well!
I figured I'd get two tickets, because really, what good is going to concert by yourself. Especially to see these guys?

I was so excited. Not only did I get the tickets for dirt cheap, but I was going to take my concert buddy with me.
I called her up and asked if she could join me, but it turned out she already had plans for that night.
So I called Elwood... same thing.
I called a buddy who works with Hotness, but he couldn't make it either.
I was getting bummed because I was afraid I'd have to go to the concert alone.
I mentioned that I got the tickets but hadn't found a "date" to go with me, when one of my friends suggested a camping buddy of mine.
I called him up and asked him and he said, "Hmmm.... I don't really know what they sing, but it sounds like fun. Sure."
So on Sunday night we headed into Seattle to meet up with Wicked Juan and his wife and have pizza before heading to the show.

We got to the concert, found our seats and got ready for the show.
Here' our view of the stage:

The opening band was Buckcherry. Not only was I unimpressed by them, but the sound was awful. If they were any good, I couldn't tell because they just sounded horrible.
In fact my ears hurt after their set was finished.
This isn't the first time I've had this problem with opening bands at the Key Arena.
The same thing happened when I saw Van Halen in 2004 there. Their opening band was Rose Hill Drive and they played so gosh-darn loud that I put in earplugs (something I rarely ever do at a concert).
Luckily, the main act doesn't have this problem and the sound is much better.

Anyway, they finished and left the stage. Then a big banner dropped while they switched out equipment:

After about 20 minutes, the lights dimmed and over the speakers everybody heard...
The banner dropped and the band started right in with "Deuce" and even set off fireworks right off the bat!
From then on it was hit after hit, explosions, fireballs, confetti, elevated stages, fog machines and the craziest rock costumes ever!

Gene Simmons did a bass solo, complete with the "spitting blood" routine and flying up from the stage.

There's a good video montage of the show we went to that night here on YouTube.

What the band lacks in profound musical lyricism, they more than make up for in showmanship on the stage.
There is no other concert like a KISS concert!

People were decked out in costumes all over the place, and all ages were represented.

There were young kids with their parents, teenagers, on up to the 40+ crowd.
Once the music starts and they start performing, no matter what age you are in real life you suddenly become an pre-adolescent and get your face rocked!

It was a total blast and I think if they come back to Seattle again, I just might have to go see them... one more time.

****** BONUS ******

A little Gene Simmons goodness to put on your desk so you can rock out at work.

Nov 15, 2009

Going Mobile

I tend to run along a fine line between being a technophobe and a gadget-freak.
I like nifty gadgets and such, but I don't always feel that I need to have the latest-and-greatest whenever it comes out. In fact, I tend to shy away from some things because I feel that they invade my person space a little too much.

I went a long time without a cell phone for this reason. I felt if anyone needed to get hold of me they could call my home number, leave a message, and if they were somebody I wanted to talk to (i.e. NOT a telemarketer!) I'd call them back. I don't need to be getting calls when I'm not near a phone. But Hotness talked me into getting one and now it's with me all the time.
And it has come in handy. I'm constantly using the camera, and texting has become second-nature to calling when I need to relay a message but don't want to make an actual call.

I felt the same way about my first iPod.
I wanted something to listen to when I went to the gym, on a plane ride, etc...
I tried to find an mp3 player that WASN'T an iPod, simply because I wanted to support somebody other than Apple. (They had a H-U-G-E market presence and I wanted to 'support the little guy')
But I eventually broke down and got an iPod Nano (because everything else on the market was geared for use with the iPod) and loaded it up with songs. It's served it purpose at the gym, camping, on my plane rides to Calgary, and so on.
I can't say that I couldn't live without it, but I do appreciate it's convenience and portability.

When the iPhone came out, it was eye-catching but didn't lure me in with it's sleek design or it's functionality.
What bugged me most was that you couldn't replace the battery on it. So once it "died", you were stuck with buying another one, and so on.
That's not to say I still didn't like it, but I managed to avoid being sucked in by it's sexiness.

Until, recently that is.

No, I didn't get an iPhone. But I did upgrade my iPod to an iPod Touch.
I have a friend who works for a company that builds applications for the iPhone and iTouch and was very impressed with what it was capable of doing.... besides just playing music.

I can talk myself into rationalizing just about anything, so it didn't take long to talk myself into getting one.
Hotness didn't dissuade me, but tried to get me to explain my reasons for wanting one.
I explained to her that with it, I could:
1) check my email when I'm not at home (especially while I'm out job-hunting)
2) use various applications, or "apps", that are specific to my interests (more on this in a bit)
3) I could instant message for free with her when I'm mobile, particularly when I'm in Canada (instead of texting her at $.30 per international text... which adds up after a week!)
... not to mention just playing around with it for fun.

"Okay, if you think you'll actually use it for that go ahead and get it," she said.
So I did.
I didn't go crazy and only got the 8GB version. I figured if it worked like I thought I'd be using it for, I could always upgrade at a later date.

I have fallen in love with it during the week I've had it.
I could probably live without it, but I have already gotten accustomed to having it with me at all times.

I was able to check my email and update my Facebook status while at the local coffee shop before heading to a job search.
I went to dinner with Hotness one evening and sent an email to a friend about something I had just thought of (and would probably forget before I got back home).
I loaded some "kid-friendly" apps on it and have used it to keep my niece and nephew entertained for a few minutes when I'm babysitting.
Not to mention, using it as a day-planner. (Am I free to babysit on Monday afternoon? Lemme see... why yes I am. Anytime after 2:00 p.m.)

I've been searching the iTunes store for applications, mostly free ones, that I can use for myself.
There's a ton of them on there. A lot of crap and a lot of useful ones.
Obviously you get what you pay for, but for the most part I've been pretty happy with the free apps I've picked up.
I got a few games (to kill time and keep kids busy), and a couple of conversion apps (i.e. inches to meters, Fahrenheit to Celsius, foreign currency to U.S. dollars, etc...).
I also picked up a language translator, not that I need it all the time but "just in case".
And I got a sale price calculator that will determine the cost of something with original and additional mark-downs plus figure in the tax so I'll known what I'm about (or NOT about) to spend on a sale item. (Since I do a lot of shopping, this comes in very handy)

Did I need it? No, probably not. Obviously I've lived this long without having one and could've continued to do so.
But like I said earlier, I've grown accustomed to having it in the very short time of owning it.
It's also helped me realize that having an internet-capable phone is something I'll want to have if I can find the kind of job I'm hoping to get. Portable internet access will be a necessity for me.

So here I am, sucked in by another shiny object on the technology shelf but very happy with it.

Coming up soon:
KISS in concert
Gluten-free cornbread stuffing for Thanksgiving

Nov 13, 2009

Beware Of No. 3

Sorry for the lack of posting.
I will try to rectify that soon, but in the meantime please enjoy this Public Service Announcement from BabyLove Diapers.

Heh heh heh... a "poo explosion"!

Nov 7, 2009

Being A Local Tourist

On Wednesday I took a break from my standard schedule and headed into Seattle for a "job search / ticket purchase / walkaround town" day of adventure.

I called up 2.0's girlfriend to see if she'd like to join me.
She's currently looking for work as well and since I was heading into town to buy her a ticket for the opera as part of a trade we made (she's joining Hotness & I in January), I thought she might like to join me. Plus, I always like having company when I drive to Seattle.

It turned out she had a job interview that day... in Seattle.
So joining me into the city was a double-treat for her, as her car was not driveable that day and she'd been planning to take the bus.

We met up around 10:00 a.m. and drove to the Big City.
Her interview was at 11:00 and I needed to kill some time while she was there, so I went to the Uwajimaya store and looked around. (There's ALWAYS lots of stuff to look at there)
I ended up buying a DVD of some classic kung-fu action by the legendary Shaw Brothers.
It was "The 5 Deadly Venoms" and I'm still trying to find time to sit and watch it. I'm really excited to see it.

After the interview, we went to Seattle Center so I could pick up her ticket.
The ballet and the opera share the same venue, but apparently they do not share the same ticket office. We had to go about a mile and a half uptown to get the extra opera ticket.
We decided to hold off on that, as there was other stuff we wanted to do.
So we took the monorail to Westlake Center and then walked to Pike Place Market.
There were some businesses in that area that I wanted to check out and I wanted to wander around town since it was a nice day.

Unfortunately, my trip into Seattle to look for a job turned into a wasted effort, as everybody I went to see only took applications online. It didn't do me any good to actually drive into the city and try to apply in person.
However... the day was not a total loss as the two of us had a great time walking around Pike Place and looking in the shops.

We had lunch at a pasta bar in Post Alley. She picked up a present at the (ORIGINAL) Starbuck's shop. We went to the Great Wind-Up Shop. We stopped in at Golden Age Collectibles. And many, many other places.
It was a really fun day.

Then we headed back up north, where I dropped her off with her boyfriend and she caught a ride home with him.
Later that evening, we all met up again at the Comic Stop and hung out until after closing when we all went out for dinner afterwards.

Thursday & Friday were sort of uneventful, but tonight Hotness and I have another ballet to attend.
This one is "Director's Choice", so there are lots of smaller works with a lot of diversity to them.
I'm looking forward to it as there is usaully one 'stand-out performance' which makes the whole evening worthwhile.
After that, perhaps a late-night nibble at Pomodoro.


I hadn't posted my Halloween costume from this year yet, so for those of you who missed it, here it is:

I intended to go as "The Fly" from the 50's sci-fi film, but never got around to finishing the mask for it.
Since I had all the major components of the costume, I opted for a 'mad scientist' instead.

And here was Hotness:

Me-ow, baby!

Well, that's all for now.
I'll be back soon when I have more to alk about about.

Nov 5, 2009

Breakdance Competition: Batman Vs. Joker

No real content today, just fluff.

Have fun with this bit of interactive YouTube fun: