Monday, December 29, 2008

Leading Me Down The Garden Path...

Or... my Garmin suddenly went apeshit crazy yesterday and I need it to come back to me!

I had to drive to Indiana yesterday to visit a supplier - yay! - and the device that I've come to depend on totally dropped the ball. OMG. I'm so traumatized by this, you just have no idea.

First, heading for 71 and the Garmin tells me to head for Cleveland. Okay, 'cause it's not like I checked a map to verify her accuracy before leaving. I drove several miles up 71 and she told me to get off at 18 AND THEN GET BACK ON 71 HEADING THE OTHER DIRECTION. WTF???

Second, heading into the wilds of Indiana, and she tells me to exit the highway at a spot that says the correct city. Okey-dokey. Then I traveled 40+ miles in circles on gravel roads past cows (and fields, old cemetaries, REALLY cool houses and other things I wished I had a chance to explore) to get back on the same damn highway, one exit down. Awesome! I'm so glad a coworker was waiting for me at the hotel! Oddly, he chose to drive to and from the supplier's yesterday.

Then today, she tried to get me to turn off the highway into a lake for almost a quarter of a mile, pulled those "get off here, go aways, turn around you idiot, you are going the wrong way" things TWICE and then the battery died. My brother calls her the "bitch in a box" and today, I must agree. Bad Garmin! Bad!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What is wrong with me?

I've been having a real problem with the whole Christmas spirit thing this year. I did send out Christmas cards, and the ones I've received are taped around a doorway, but that is the only hint of Christmas at my house. I didn't put up a tree, didn't hang a single garland, or string a single light. There's not even a wreathe on my door. My house is the single dark spot in the neighborhood - everyone else is quite festive.

It's worse than that though. I had the whole weekend to get ready to leave for home this Christmas. Did I clean the house? Finish shopping? Wrap gifts? Pay bills? Unload random crap from the jeep? Do laundry? Anything productive?? Nope. Not a damn thing. I curled up on the couch with a bunch of books and didn't move, unless I was getting more coffee.

I did manage to get some stuff done this week. Shopping's done. Laundry's done. Then I got home last night from work, found "The Bourne Supremacy" on TV and curled up on the couch again. And, instead of being ready to leave when the alarm roused me from slumber first thing this morning, I smacked the alarm, rolled over, and went back to sleep. When I finally crawled out of bed this morning, I started cleaning.

Here's the thing though... Before I leave to start the 12 hour drive to get home, I still have dishes to wash, the main floor to sweep, trash to take out, packing to do, wrapping to do, unload the jeep, reload the jeep, clean out the cat box, gather together everything to take home, organize bills to pay sometime this week, etc etc etc. And am I doing it? Nope. Sitting here playing online.

I just don't want to go. I don't particularly want to stay here either, but I have never been so unenthused about a holiday before. What is my problem?

But to everyone out there who's a bit more into the season, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


I really like this show, with Timothy Hutton and a bunch of other people. For the next while, Tuesdays at 10 pm are booked.

But, am I the only one wondering about the parallels between the first episode and John Sandford's book, "The Devil's Code?"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Speaking of Being Watched...

I'm not sure whether to be completely fascinated or utterly horrified. This is the image of my house available on google when you type in my home phone number, then click on the map thing then go to street view. Check it out - Jeep's in the driveway, I'm home!

You can turn around and check out my neighbors across the street, or stroll up and down the block. Of course, I completely freaked out over people driving around taking pictures and then linking them online for anyone to stumble over. Then I spent an hour looking up everyone I knew to see if their houses are online too. Ahh, the wonders of modern technology!

Monday, December 15, 2008

So This Is Random...

We got an email from the powers that be last week. For Christmas, they're giving all of us microwaves. Brand new shiny microwaves for all! Even with all of the layoffs lately, that's over 1000 of them so I can only conclude that the microwaves are selling about as well as all of our other appliances and they're trying to offload them before the New Year.

Still, I wish they were handing out Tassimos. *sigh* Now I have to figure out what to do with an extra microwave.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Blankets Away...

It's done! It's done, it's done, it's done! Finally! It took forever, but I am finally ready to mail out the blanket I made for my friend's new baby. (Okay, new in October, but still small enough for the blanket.)

It's still not perfect, not by any stretch, but I think I made fewer mistakes this time. It's much more of a rectangle than the last one, although somehow it ended up being wider than it is long. Not sure how I managed that one. And again, I managed an entire row when I either knit instead of perled or vice versa.

The colors don't show up very well in the pictures. The yarn (Red Heart Baby Clouds in Tutti-Fruiti and White Swirl) is marbled with soft colors - pink, yellow, green, pale blue and lavender. And the blanket is very snuggly and soft - it got even softer when I washed it.

Now all I have to do is get it in the mail...

Special picture bonus: my lovely dining room table.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cookie Exchange

Today was our second annual cookie exchange at work. We did it every year at my last company so I started one here last year. Last year, we had nearly 30 people, which I think was maybe too many. This year, things are so crazed around here that I had a lot of people tell me that they just didn't have time. At 6:00 this morning, when I stuffed the last bag and stumbled off for a nap before work, I had to agree with the sentiment. We ended up with 8 of us exchanging. Maybe next year, we'll find a happy medium between the two.

I've done the same cookies for the last several years. They're a drop cookie, but a frosted one. I got the recipe from Taste of Home - I have many of their cookbooks and love every one. The cookies are spiced apple drops, and they're really yummy. Guys especially seem to love them.

Of course, presentation is very important, so I broke out the Christmas stamps and the snazzy border cutting scissors for the recipe, and of course I color-matched it to the bags... 'cause I'm like that.

In my world, frosting is to be treated like spackle. This frosting really makes the cookie, too. Doubling the recipes for the cookies and for the frosting allowed me to fill 12 bags with 5 cookies each and still have enough left over to mostly fill a cookie jar.

One thing that gets me every year. I get the part where I bake the cookies, package them prettily and haul them into the exchange. The part that, for some reason, I always manage to block is that I will be bringing an equal number of cookies back home with me. (Sometimes? Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.) One good thing about haveing fewer people participate - I have a larger pool of people to feed these things too. Last year, no one really touched the ones I brought in on a plate 'cause they all had their own. This year, I was nearly attacked when I walked across the plant floor. Anyway, here's how to make your own:

Cookie Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup apple juice
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup finely chopped peeled tart apple
1 cup chopped walnuts

Frosting Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 - 4 tablespoons apple juice

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Beat in egg and apple juice. Combine the dry ingredients; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Fold in apple and walnuts.
Drop by teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 - 14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.
For frosting, cream butter, sugar, vanilla and enough apple juice to achieve spreading consistency. Frost cooled cookies. Yield: about 3.5 dozen.

* For drop cookies, these things are kind of a pain. Definitely grease the cookie sheets 'cause they will stick. I use 3 cookie sheets, and after I've removed the cookies to the wire rack, I just wipe the cookie sheet down with a paper towel and re-spray it. It helps.
* Also, things are much better if you stir remaining dough/batter briskly every time you leave it for a couple of minutes.
* I've used granny smith apples and gala apples - the cookies worked both times so don't freak over the apple type. Also, I've used apple juice and cider and both are fine.
* This is probably just that my oven can be quirky, but I find that 365 is better than 375. I bake them for 6 minutes then turn the cookie sheet around and bake for another 6 or so minutes. Look at the edges - when they get a bit darker, the cookie is done. The top may stay kinda shiny but trust that they are done.

All dressed up and ready to go:


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

Room O'Attack Packing Paper

Over a year ago, I said something about posting pictures of my room o'attack packing paper and I'm finally getting around to it!

When I was unpacking, it seemed perfectly logical to me how to go about things. I broke the boxes down and neatly stacked them in my entry. But then I had to figure out what to do with the paper... and I just happened to have an entire room, complete with a door, with nothing in it! Clearly not a coincidence, right?

So I kept unpacking, and hauling paper up to the room and unpacking and hauling and I've mentioned how carefully packed EVERYTHING was before, I think. Next thing I knew, I could barely get the door open and I seriously feared losing a cat in there. But still, nothing terribly unusual.

Then the nice mover men came and collected all the cardboard. And one of the guys followed me upstairs, took one look at my room of paper and went dead silent, staring into the room with his mouth hanging open. I started to suspect that once again, my idea of perfectly logical didn't exactly match other people's. This was reinforced when he called his friend upstairs and they called other people at the company, and then took a bunch of pictures.

One of the guys that they called came to see the room, and brought big leaf bags with him so they stuffed all the paper into bags and hauled it away. As they stuffed and carried, one of them asked me what in the world made me fill the whole room with paper. I got a strange look when I said that it had made sense to me. Stung, I asked what I should have done. He replied that most other people fill up the empty boxes with the paper. Oh. But then you can't break the boxes down and make a tower out of them! Anyway, next time you move, probably you shouldn't follow my example. (But it was a lot of fun to play in...)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Die, Evil Bug, DIE!

I love the South. And the Raid Company loves having me live here too.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Wow, I Needed That!

Last week started with the typical work crap, and Tuesday was capped off with six fun filled hours of a communications workshop where they tried to get me to be "empathic, sympathic and maintaining their self esteem" while dressing down some idiot. Yeah, whatever. You want sympathy, do not hire an engineer. Plus, it was stupid. Our problem isn't communication. Our problem is the lying, back-stabbing @$$holes that we work with - that's the problem. I never know whether to give them credit for trying or be sad and scared that they're so clueless. At least this year they didn't try to force me into doing trust tests - yeah, 'cause that's my best thing!

Anywho, Wednesday, I got up early, cleaned, packed, etc etc etc. I thought I'd get out of here early which, given my history, is absurd, but I remain hopeful. Just the oil change took over an hour. So it was 4:30 by the time I left. (It means nothing that I also took time to blog.) The drive was long and boring - which is good. Exciting drives are typically bad. Finally, finally, I made it and by 3 am I was cuddled into bed at my aunt's.

The remainder of my week rocked! I knew that I really really wanted to come home, but until I was there, I didn't realize how much I needed to spend some time at home. Hanging out with the family, and as many friends as I could pack into a couple of days was exactly what I needed to gird myself to come back here.

And I did something that I didn't really ever think I'd work up my nerve to do. The bet helped. So did the tequila. But it really deserves a post of its own, so I'll leave it at that.

I drove back here on Sunday, and again the drive was boring. Well, mostly. The pouring rain and the stupid/crazy drivers livened things up a bit. And, now I'm back here. Total buzzkill. But it's only a month 'till Christmas!