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Archive for November, 2009

A Yank attempts Southern gravy

Posted by Lissa on November 30, 2009

Well, I’m sort of a Yank, anyway.  I was born in Texas and lived seven years in Maryland before moving to MA (and doing college in NC), but most of my cooking experience is Yankee-style.

So I needed the step-by-step details and pictures from FarmMom before I could attempt a real milk pan gravy:

Copying Roberta X, the first thing I did was fry up four slices of bacon. While that was cooking up, I microwaved two salt-and-peppered chicken breasts till they were just-cooked-through.  The bacon migrated to a paper-toweled-plate — it might have lost a slice in the process — and the chicken got a quick bacon-fat-sear on both sides, giving it a nice golden brown color and a smoky savory taste.

I popped the green beans in the microwave (tossed with a bit of butter and a half cup of sliced almonds) and got to work with the gravy.  Thanks to FarmMom, the consistency came out pretty good, but it was rather bland (since I hadn’t fried spicy chicken in it).  I fixed that with salt, pepper, seasoned salt, a bit of Montreal Steak Seasoning and some cayenne pepper — delish!

The green beans came out (next time I’ll cook them a minute less) and I crumbled the bacon across the top.  Voile!

Finished off with homemade apple pie!  And that was so good I licked the plate.  Seriously.

The only sad thing was that no one was here to share my lovely meal . . .

P.S.  No, just kidding. This was my first time for the pie, the gravy and that style of green beans.  Since Mike is out of town so often, I prefer to experiment on myself first.  That way, if anything sucks no one else has to eat it!

P.P.S.  I used whole Lactaid instead of whole milk.  My digestive system gratefully thanked me.

P.P.P.S.  There was a lot of gravy left.  How well does that reheat?  Anyone know?

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Range Report: Awesome Target Edition

Posted by Lissa on November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  On Thanksgiving Day I gave thanks for friends and family, who love me unconditionally.  I was too busy giving thanks by feeding C and baking bread and pie and stuff like that to post, but I’m also thankful for my readers — who encourage me, challenge me, and accompany me on this awesome and silly journey called LissaLife.

And now — the big reveal!  Story and picture below the fold:

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Playing hostess!

Posted by Lissa on November 25, 2009

Mike came in last night from Charlotte, and C from New York City, and LilBro 1 from New Hampshire, so I got to play hostess!  In my head, we all sat down to dinner at seven, so I planned accordingly.  Of course, that’s not remotely what happened.  C showed up around 8:15, Mike arrived around 9:30 and LilBro 1 came ten minutes after.  What, y’all don’t sit down to dinner at ten o’clock at night?

I had carrots and grape tomatoes with Light Parmesan Peppercorn Ranch Dressing and Light Caesar dressing for dipping as well as chips and fresh pico de gallo.  Then for dinner I served stuffed chicken breasts wrapped in proscuitto with steamed broccolini and steamed jasmine rice with lemon zest and fresh basil.  (If you were curious, puff pastry works as a substitute for the chicken and proscuitto — easy vegetarian option!)

No one was hungry enough for pie last night, so LilBro 1 and I had pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream for breakfast.  And no, THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH PIE FOR BREAKFAST!

Got to shunt LilBro 1 off to his international flight — happy Early Thanksgiving, y’all, and have a good day!

P.S. I really do like having guests.  I’m not nearly as fond of the “getting ready for guests” chores.  But it’s nice having the laundry done, and the toilet scrubbed, and the counters cleaned, and the recycling taken out, and the fridge stocked, and the spare bed made with clean sheets, and the litter box cleaned, and . . .

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Posted by Lissa on November 24, 2009




No, I’m NOT going to post a picture yet!  They need a before-and-after shot!  The “after” shot must be riddled with bullets!  It’s just the way it has to be!

Watch this space, my friends.  On Friday, I will reveal all!  And it will be A MINDBLOWING PINNACLE OF AWESOME.

On an unrelated note . . .

“Why yes, we realize that Cork is in a state of emergency.  No, this does not impart any flexibility whatsoever in canceling or altering your flight from London to Cork.”

Aer Lingus can suck Rajah’s furry hindquarters, is what I’m saying.  Git-wankers, they are.

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Range report: 229 edition

Posted by Lissa on November 23, 2009

Good morning all!  Gunnie goodness below the fold:

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Happy Caturday: Meerkat edition

Posted by Lissa on November 22, 2009

He’s not ALWAYS clumsy.  Just often.

(This is the cat that I have watched walking across a counter, only to abruptly slip his footing and fall off.  He’s very most definitely an indoor cat!)

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Stress management

Posted by Lissa on November 20, 2009

Wow!  Today’s post, like yesterday’s post, needs to start with a thank-you for comments.  Like all good bloggers I love me some comments; thank you everyone!  To the various questions, I say:

– I’m getting regular Custom Lasik, not Epi-Lasik.  Flap away, baby!

– I don’t have any pre-existing conditions that would prevent the surgery; I had all the tests done.  Twice.

– I’m not that worried about night halos, because 1) Custom Lasik is supposed to have a lesser chance of that than regular Lasik; 2) I’ve already got night halos, so what is there to lose?

– I should have mentioned that the surgery is more affordable because we can use FSA, or pre-tax, dollars.  Instant 30% discount!

I’m thrilled and encouraged by all your success stories.  Countdown to Lasik: 56 days!!

On to today’s post 🙂

Long story short . . . I had a work screwup.  An error was made back in June.  I didn’t MAKE the error, and the party that made the error was screwing around with stuff they shouldn’t be touching, but . . . part of my job is to catch errors before the final product.  I didn’t catch this one, it suddenly came to light, and suddenly everyone was pissed off and sending around nasty emails.

Oh, sh*t.

I panicked.  I felt terrible.  I worried about being reprimanded.  I worried about being put on warning.  I even wondered whether I would be fired.

I knew I was over-reacting even as I over-reacted.

It all turned out okay; no one is happy, but no one is angry at ME.  Everyone pretty much blames the party that made the error, and the fact that I obviously felt awful actually found favor with my group; my boss’s boss stopped by personally to assure me that it wasn’t my fault*.  Within a day or two it all blew over.

However . . . during that day or two I felt like hell.  I lost my appetite.  I couldn’t sleep very well.  I felt physically ill and terrified.

It’s a great dieting technique, but it’s a lousy life technique.

I’ve GOT to learn better ways of managing stress.  Being sick and shaky for twenty-four hours is SERIOUSLY less than optimal.

Suggestions, y’all?  When something goes very wrong and you think it’s your fault, how do you deal?


*I’m used to dealing with screwups and mistakes; aren’t we all?  But I find it much, much easier to help correct for something that wasn’t my fault to begin with.  When it is my fault, it’s just so much worse . . .

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In which I contemplate slicing open my eyeballs with a laser

Posted by Lissa on November 19, 2009

First off, thanks to everyone who commented here!  I was sitting at my computer yesterday morning, bleary-eyed, and a little petulant.  “Why didn’t anyone comment on my Meditations post?  It was a good post, wasn’t it?  I thought it was good!”  Then I checked in this morning to find that my comment-pouting had been rendered completely unnecessary.  Thank you to Jay, Mike W., Shoothouse Barbie, Weer’d Beard and Borepatch.

And on to the topic of the post:  I’ve scheduled a Lasik appointment for January.

I’m so excited I can’t even TELL you.  The idea of waking up in the middle of the night and being able to clearly see my surroundings is fantastic.  I mean, yeah, there are other things to look forward to — not having my contacts dry out on airplanes, skipping the morning-and-night eyeball-poking routine, avoiding the agony of catching a dirt spec underneath a contact, etc. — but that’s the biggie.  I want to be able to roll over and tell whether the guy in my bedroom is my husband or The Big Bad Wolf.

And to do that, I am perfectly willing to take a Valium, have my eyelids held open a la Clockwork Orange, and trust a machine to slice into my cornea and reshape my lens.

I’m just the trusting type.

If you consider the cost of buying and maintaining soft contacts, the cost of Lasik will eventually balance out over many years.  That being said, I was very hesitant about adding the surgery to the household expenses.  In fact, whenever Mike brought up the subject I firmly dismissed it with a “Maybe some day, that would be nice” judgment.  It is my very good fortune that he did a bit of research and discovered that, in fact, the surgery was NOT the $10-K-per-eye that I’d imagined; it’s more like $2K.  Still, that’s a BIG purchase, and — unlike vacation funds, or saving up for a replacement car — the benefits would accrue solely to me.  So still I was reluctant.

Mike solved my problem by generously offering to fund my surgery out of his “allowance,” in exchange for a year’s worth of gift-giving.  Actually, that’s not quite how it happened.  When we started seriously contemplating Lasik as something I could do sooner rather than later, I mentioned that I CERTAINLY wouldn’t need any birthday or Christmas or whatever gifts for a year.   Mike decided to take me up on that throwaway offer, and therefore gave the gift of allowing me to do the surgery guilt-free.  He’s a sweetheart.

Countdown to cutting open my frickin’ eyeballs with a frickin’ laser:  57 days!

P.S.  We’re going with Custom Lasik rather than regular Lasik, on the recommendation of Mike’s friend J (he had PRK surgery).  As J put it:  “I’d rather have my eyeball sliced open based on a custom print of my eye, than based on whether 1 or 2 looked better.”  Right on.

UPDATE: Marko links.  Thanks!

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Posted by Lissa on November 18, 2009

Up too late three nights in a row = Sleepy Lissa.

Besides, I liked yesterday’s essay.  Go read that 🙂

I’ll write something tomorrow.

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Meditations on self defense

Posted by Lissa on November 17, 2009

If a goblin broke into your house, set off the burglar alarm, and was holding you at knife-point, what would you expect the police to do?

You would expect them to drive over, show up, and talk the goblin into surrendering, right?

And if the goblin didn’t give up?  If he steadfastly held a knife to your throat and promised to kill you if the police did not retreat . . . you would expect the police to shoot to kill, would you not?  Certainly, you would expect them to be WILLING to do that, no?

So . . . you expect a total stranger to realize that you are in trouble, drive across town, correctly analyze the situation, and shoot to kill from across the room/house/yard, just because s/he signed on for a job that pays perhaps $50K per year.

But it is UNTHINKABLE that you would do the job yourself.  (Around here, at least, it’s more or less unthinkable.)

You, who are already on the scene, who can very clearly identify which human in the scrum is the victim (that’s you) and which human on the scene is the goblin (that’s the one who wants to rob/beat/kill/rape you) expect a stranger to come from a distance to defend you, because you have no tools to do so yourself.*

Doesn’t this seem a little . . . irresponsible?  Short-sighted?  Foolhardy?

I spoke with a police officer in the Charlotte airport last weekend.  Among other conversational bits, he gruffly declared that the motto on police cars — Protect and serve — would more accurately be stated as We can’t protect you, but we’ll show up after the damage is done and try to avenge you.

Don’t get me wrong — I believe that being a police officer is a tough, grueling, sometimes deadly job.  I highly admire the dedicated professionals who serve their society as such.

I just don’t expect them to be at my house at the very moment I need them most.

Because, you know, telepathy and teleportation aren’t really where it’s at.

And oh, by the way . . . that situation I described above is highly undesirable from the goblin’s point of view.  It’s much nicer for the goblin if you are quickly robbed/beaten/killed/raped and the beast can disappear from the scene BEFORE the police show up . . .

*Of course, a firearm is not the only tool to defend yourself.  There are knives, clubs, baseball bats, teeth and claws available.  It’s just that a firearm is most certainly the most EFFECTIVE tool to defend yourself, especially against an attacker who is much larger than you and/or may have brought his goblin buddies.

H/T to Brigid by way of Jay — that’s what got me thinking.

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