Monday, February 27, 2012

Candy Troll

In law school, I worked at a law firm as a law clerk/receptionist. It was kind of a sham, but the short story is that I sat at the front desk of the firm. Now, on that front desk, was a candy bowl. On my first day, I was told that when the bowl got low, I should go and tell the office manager who would then check to see if it should be refilled and what type of candy should go into the bowl. I was told that when chocolate was put into the candy bowl, it disappeared very quickly and so they had to ration the chocolate pieces. How weird is that?

Except I soon realized why it was set up in this manner. The office had a candy troll. One of the ladies who worked in the office was a sad-sack. It was a lot like Milton in Office Space. I totally expected one day to come into the office and be told that we were moving this woman's desk to the storage closet and taking her off of payroll, but not telling her. There was very little that this woman could do right and she was a bit off her rocker. I once caught her screaming at the fax machine because it kept jamming. Which is frustrating, I realize, but she was screaming and swearing and when I asked her if I could help her she screamed at me that I could go and get her a margarita. And she wasn't joking. Ten minutes later she came up to my desk and asked me where the eff her margarita was.

Anyhow, this woman was obsessed with the candy dish. Whenever chocolate would appear in the dish, so would she. She'd come to my desk and start muttering under her breath "Chocolate, gottagetthechocolate, lookatallthischocolate, mmmmchocolate, ilovechocolate, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate." It was incredibly uncomfortable. It was like the chocolate was hypnotizing her and she didn't care how crazy she sounded.

A week would go by and the office manager would put a few more pieces of chocolate into the candy bowl and there would come the candy troll to guzzle it up. The more chocolate would be in the bowl, the more the candy troll would take. No one else ever had a chance at the chocolate because she was always on top of it.

My point is that this whole giving up sweets for Lent thing is really getting to me. Today, at work, someone brought up jelly beans and I almost started crying. I'm starting to understand more and more where this candy troll was coming from. Because chocolate is awesome and the only thing better than chocolate is free chocolate. April 8th is a long ways away.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

One of the joys of being a homeowner is gardening. It's nice being able to plant pretty flowers, herbs and vegetables and taking pride in your yard. I had no idea, though, that having a few nice plants would take quite as much care as it does.

Last spring, I was shocked at how many plants were already at our house. First, I had planted some tulip bulbs the previous fall. All of the tulips came up, although some were mowed down by a wayward rabbit. I love, love, love tulips. So, my goal is to have tons of them. I planted more this year and the house had a few already planted. I don't, however, have any idea about the maintenance of tulip bulbs. Are you supposed to dig them up and split them in the fall? Or can you just leave them planted in the ground?

Our house also, randomly, had a bunch of raspberry bushes. When Mike moved in, they were totally overgrown in one area, so we hacked them all down. I don't think this was the right move, though, because we didn't get many raspberries last year and they were all very sour. I didn't touch them this fall, so I'm hoping they will be sweeter this year.

I was pleasantly surprised to find two peony bushes and multiple lilies already planted around the house. The peonies need cages this year, though, because last year they flopped over and died right after they bloomed. The lilies were gorgeous with bright pinks, reds and yellows. I'm worried that they won't come back as healthy this year because I stopped watering them in late summer and I didn't cut anything back.

We also found a terrible fern and hosta garden on the side of our house that was completely overgrown. We dug all the plants up and instead planted a small vegetable garden of hot and sweet peppers. We got a lot of jalapenos and banana peppers. However, the sweet bell peppers never flowered. I might try the same thing this year. I also want to try a cherry tomato plant, but I think I will put that in a pot because our soil isn't very good.

I'm hoping this year to be a bit more attentive to our plants. I want to add some new things to the garden now that I know what's already there. I am so excited to see if my tulips come back.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ashes to Ashes

Today is Ash Wednesday. I actually love the Lenten season. Fish fries. Enough said. Okay, I'll say more. I love picking what I am going to give up, I love that Lent starts in the middle of winter and when it's over spring is usually at your doorstep, I love getting ready for Easter, I love the ominous music they play during mass. So, I'm a Lent lover.

Just a couple of days ago, Mike and I had a talk about what we were going to give up this year. I told him that I didn't think I could do Diet Coke right now (wedding planning, being crazy busy at work and giving up Diet Coke do not work for me). Then I thought about giving up shopping, but I'm actually really in need of new work shoes and don't think I can go 40 days in the current pair of work shoes so that's setting myself up to fail.

Mike finally said "What about sweets?" So, I agreed. No sweets. It will be good for my health, for my pocketbook (Easter candy is my favorite), for my wedding dress waist. It seemed like the perfect idea. Then today, on Ash Wednesday, I realized that I have only had 1 Shamrock Shake this season. Shamrock Shakes are most definitely a sweet. So, now, thanks to Michael, they are banned from my life until April 8th, when they will most likely already be gone from McDonald's for a whole year. Did you think about that Mike when you forced me into this crazy no sweets bullshit? DID YOU THINK ABOUT THE FACT THAT WE CAN'T GET ANOTHER SHAMROCK SHAKE?! Because now all I can think about is how much I want one. Thanks a lot asshole.

I don't think Lent 2012 is going so well for me.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Me On: Rihanna

Is anyone else tired of Rihanna? Every time one of her songs comes on the radio, Mike immediately turns it. He said he's sick of her voice. And I can't disagree. I loved Umbrella, danced to Disturbia and was obsessed with the song she did with Eminem. But, somewhere around the time of the song "S&M" I had enough. Rihanna, we get it, you are a very sexual person who lives life on the edge. Maybe you could go live that life out of the public view for awhile so that you can become relevant again. Because right now, you are so not relevant.

Except, here she is today in the tabloids and I'm kind of annoyed. Annoyed and disgusted. So, remember a few years ago when she was dating that assclown who then hit her right before some big music awards show where apparently the physical damage he caused her was so great that she couldn't appear at the show because of the bruising. Then that assclown had to sort of slink away from the scene for awhile because people didn't like him for hitting Rihanna. I can totally live with that.

A couple of weeks ago were the Grammys, and there was Rihanna performing her billionth song. Barf. Who also happened to be performing at the Grammys? The assclown. And his performance was a dance performance. He wasn't singing, but man can he dance. The best part is that he wasn't even trying to sing. There were words being sung, but it's hard to convince me that you're singing when your lips aren't moving. Ashlee Simpson taught me that. Anyways, it was confusing because the Grammys are all about singing, right? Then I guess the assclown went on to actually win Grammys (I didn't see this because the Grammys SUCKED so hard that I turned them off) and a lot of people were mad! Did we forget the past? Shouldn't we still be shunning him?

Now today we learn that Rihanna has recently collaborated on songs with the assclown. Seriously? Too soon Rihanna! I'm not going to get all judgy and preachy about this, but come on. Before today, I thought she was getting a little annoying, but now she's annoying, kind of dumb and really desperate. I think Rihanna needs to take an evening to watch the classic movie "What About Bob?" so that she can learn the value in taking a vacation. "Don't Hassle Me I'm Local!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Splash Mountain

Splash Mountain is the best ride that I hate to go on. You know how there are a lot of water rides where you get a little bit wet. This is absolutely not one of those rides. On Splash Mountain, you get WET. I hate walking around in wet clothes, so I only go on this ride if it's really, really hot outside.

Aside from the getting wet part, the ride is actually awesome. First off, it's long. Secondly, it has a lot of cute animated characters and tells a fun story, the story of Br'er Rabbit who is quite the trickster. Thirdly, the music is great and you'll be singing it the rest of the day (even after you go on "It's A Small World"). And FINALLY, the roller coaster aspect of the ride is amazing. It's one of the better roller coasters in all of the parks!

So, there's a lot of good going on at Splash Mountain. But often, you see the little cars riding around like this:

That's because of the wetness factor. As I said, you get splashed a few times throughout the ride. They kind of space it out, so you get a big splash, then a lot of ride, then another splash, then more ride. Then the final splash comes at the end and there's even MORE RIDE! In the end, you will be wet, but will have some time to dry off so you don't have to walk around with your wet shorts showing off your princess underwears for too long.

If it's warm out, you dry off pretty quickly, but in the cold, that wetness stings! Please, don't be one of those assholes who gets the poncho and wears it on the ride so they don't get wet at all. If you are going on Splash Mountain then own it, suck it up and get wet.

This is a tough ride to rate. If it's hot outside, 5/5 or 10/10 stars. I actually think this is one of the best rides in the whole Magic Kingdom. However, if it's cold, or even lukewarm, outside then 3/5 or 6/10 stars. Not even the best aspects of the ride can overcome how much it sucks to walk around in your cold, wet drawers.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Crayon Hearts

With Valentine's Day upon us, my friend Grace and I decided to test our crafting strength and attempt a Martha Stewart craft. You can find this craft on her website if you search for "crayon hearts". Her instructions seemed simple enough, although the craft proved to be more difficult then Ms. Stewart made it seem.

First, it said to use a handheld pencil sharpener to collect crayon shavings. Except, not so much. The crayons wouldn't fit into the handheld pencil sharpener and we couldn't get them to produce any shavings. So, we had to chop up the crayons, which is really difficult and messy. It also takes a long time. So, that was fail number one.

Next, you take a piece of wax paper and fold it in half, then unfold it and put the shavings on one side of the paper and refold it. Then you want to fold up any open ends in the wax paper because when the wax is heated, it becomes liquidy and will ooze out the sides unless they are sealed up. Once everything is folded, you take an iron on low heat and press it over the top of the wax paper.

This part was fine, except the color of the crayon wax does come through the wax paper and so your iron turns funny colors. Fail number 2. You can see a little bit of the red-violet here.

Luckily, I almost never use my iron for clothing. Once you have everything melted down, you set the wax paper aside to cool and harden. This will happen quickly. We made three colors, red, red-violet and pink. Martha Stewart made some orange colors as well, which looked nice. Here are our hardened wax papers:

You take these and trace hearts onto the wax paper. We just cut out a stencil from other paper and used that. We made both larger hearts and smaller ones. Once you are done tracing, you can cut out the hearts and use a small hole punch to punch a hold in the point of the heart. Then you can use regular thread to make a loop through the hole so you can hang them in the window.

I ended up taping mine to the window sill, although I think you could also string them up along a curtain rod. When the sun hits them through the window they look translucent and beautiful. Look!

This was a very cheap craft. I got three boxes of crayons and they were around $1.00 each, then the wax paper was also pretty cheap. The worst part about this was the crayon shavings, there must be crayon specific sharpeners that you can get, regular pencil sharpeners did not work for us and chopping them was a pain, although it worked just fine.

I was thinking that you could make this for several holidays. Easter Eggs at Easter, raindrops for the springtime, shamrocks for St. Pat's Day, maybe pumpkins or leaves for fall/Halloween. It adds a lot of color to your windows!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Things I Don't Understand - Larabar

Larabars taste like an ass sandwich. They are seriously gross. I feel like this is a place where the internets truly let me down because I saw all these people talking about how they were excited to eat their Larabars and that they would give them energy throughout the day. I like good food and I like having energy, so I thought I'd try them out.

First, I tried the Key Lime Pie. I love Key Lime Pie and I generally like that tangy lime taste. I hate yogurt, but love Key Lime flavored yogurt. I thought this was a pretty safe bet. It tasted like tart cardboard. And not a good tart, but the kind of tartness where you can't eat it anymore. The Larabar sat on my desk for an entire day. I kept telling myself that I should love it because other people loved them, then I'd take a tiny nibble and throw the Larabar down in disgust. How could people eat these things?

Next, I tried the Banana Bread kind. Disgusting. I had two bites and threw it away. It tasted nothing like Banana Bread.

Finally, I got a Chocolate Chip Brownie Larabar. How can you screw up Chocolate Chip Brownie flavor? You should really ask the Larabar company that question because they seem to have the correct formula. It didn't taste anything like a Chocolate Chip Brownie. Instead it tasted like mulched up tree bark. After one bite I threw it in the trash and said "NEVER AGAIN!"

So, what is it about Larabars that people like? Is it that they are really expensive? That they taste like crap? That they are high in calories?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

When in Vegas, Do as Parisians Do

When I go to Vegas, I believe that the best hotel to stay at is the Paris hotel. It's that gleaming beauty in the background of the above photo, complete with a replica of the Eiffel Tower. There are several reasons why I love the hotel. First and foremost, it's centrally located, so you can walk almost anywhere on the main strip. This is a big thing as cab rides to go one block can take a long time and cost around $20 plus a tip. This adds up. Plus, it's nice not to be at the mercy of a cabbie.

The next reason that I love the Paris hotel are the rooms. They aren't the flashiest rooms around, but they are very spacious and there's a lot of closet space. Plus, the bathroom is HUGE! I know this picture doesn't really show the size of it, but the shower was huge, the sink vanity was huge and they had an overly large tub. I used the tub every day that I was there. There's nothing I love more than a huge tub to soak in.

Then there's the casino. Too many casinos are all dark doom and gloom, but the Paris casino is light and airy. It's supposed to be reminiscent of Parisian streets during the day. Every time I walk into the casino area, I feel like I can hear the birds chirping and feel the sun shining. It makes me want to gamble!

Another awesome reason to stay at the Paris hotel (or at the very least visit it next time you are in Vegas) is the food. The Paris hotel has the best buffet. The thing is massive, so you need to bring your appetite. We ate there twice, once for "dinner" and once for breakfast. The breakfast buffet was the best, there was an omelet station, croissants and other pastries, french toast, fresh fruit, tons of meats, crepes. The dinner buffet is also loaded with goodies like pasta, crepes, salads and soups, chicken, seafood dishes and bread.

One hint for the buffet is to go a little bit before it opens for dinner. Technically you will only have to pay the "lunch" price, but if you wait at your table until dinner time rolls around, you will be able to partake in the all-you-can-eat crab legs, shrimp and prime rib for the lunch price. They also have a pretty good deal for all-you-can-drink wine and beer.

The Paris hotel also has a crepe stand.

Here's a ham and cheese and classic Nutella crepe. We only ate here once and looking at this picture, I'm wondering why? For other options, they have a bistro called Mon Ami Gabi, which has sidewalk seating overlooking the Bellagio hotel, so you can watch the dancing fountains while eating, they have a new place called The Sugar Factory and a fancy-pants restaurant called The Eiffel Tower Restaurant where you have to take an elevator to get to the restaurant and it also overlooks the dancing fountains. Tres chic!

The number one reason to stay at the Paris hotel, though, is that it's right across the street from the famed Bellagio, so it's an easy walk to get to my two favorite Vegas attractions: the dancing fountains and The "O" Show (Cirque du Soleil). I could watch the fountains for hours at a time.

A few years back, my friend Ro and I went out to Vegas and stayed at the Paris. When we checked-in, I politely asked the concierge if we could get a room overlooking the Bellagio? She said that it cost something like $50 extra a night. We decided against it. She gave us our room keys and sent us on our way. When we got to our room, I gallantly swiped my key and walked inside...SOMEONE ELSE'S HOTEL ROOM!!! Yes, the television was on, the bathroom was filled with empty booze bottles and dirty ashtrays and there were open suitcases on the unmade beds. I was horrified. Luckily there was no one actually in the room. Ro and I went back down to the lobby and I found the same concierge and explained what happened. She didn't seem that concerned about it, but asked me to wait a moment while she talked to her manager. When she came back, she said nothing, just handed us our room keys. When we went to our second room, we were delighted to find ourselves upgraded to a room overlooking the Bellagio. There was one night where we watched the fountains for three hours straight right from our room. Magical!

So, if you are ever finding yourself booking a Vegas vacation, consider the Paris. It's a little bit more expensive, but I think it's worth it in the end. Definitely don't forget about their buffet. I'm drooling right now thinking about their buffet!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Anti-Nester

Somewhere between moving into my last apartment and moving into Mike's house, I lost my urge to nest. I feel like I have no more design mojo, and that thought is depressing. In my last apartment I spent a good week putting everything in the perfect spot and creating a specific look. But now, I can't even figure out what look I'm going for. Aren't people my age (30) supposed to be nesting by now? Aren't they supposed to be innately interested in throw pillows and pot racks and paint colors?

Even though I feel like I need to do something to jazz up the house, I can't figure out what I want to do or what will look good. The first problem is paint colors. I don't feel a great need to paint anything, although the living room color has always bugged me a bit. The guys who owned the house before Mike painted it this sage green color and if there's a lot of light in the room, the color is really pretty. However, at night, the color is gray. I can't decide if I should just stick with the gray and brighten up the room with pillows and other accessories. Or if I (and by "I", I clearly mean "me and Mike") should change the color. Changing the color could be a real pain in the ass because the walls are plaster and textured and other people have told me that painting textured walls is tricky.

Then there is the issue of paint colors. Picking paint colors overwhelms me so much that when I even think about it, my mind shuts down and I have to take a nap. Just like a little baby. Should it be neutral? But is neutral any better than gray? Should it be a bright? Is red too much? Will I like a beachy marine color? Or is that too thematic? Once I start going to paint colors, I usually decide that the gray-green doesn't bother me that much.

The second big issue is hanging pictures. We have almost no pictures hung on the walls. The issue is that pesky plaster. Plaster walls are a bitch. You have to be careful about hanging anything on them because the plaster can crack and ruin your walls. Some say put crown molding up and hang it from wires attached to the molding, some say you can put the nails in the studs. Both are a crazy amount of work. First of all, most of our "studs" are also really close to electrical wiring. Second, our "studs" must be concrete or metal because when we attempted to drive a nail in one of the only studs not close to electrical wiring we could find the nail bent. We tried 5 different times and got 5 different bent nails. Third, studs aren't necessarily in the most even position on the walls.

You can see why all of these problems cause me to not want to nest. Does anyone know how to hang photos on plaster walls? Anyone else want to find for me the perfect living room paint color and then come over and paint it? Pretty please.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Jane Eyre

Last month, I totally forgot to do a book review. I am pretty behind in reviewing books, I need to start February out strong. What a better way than to talk about Jane Eyre.

Jane Eyre is one of those Englishy class books that I never had to read in English class. It's funny because when you're forced to read something by a stodgy, old English professor, it seems like the worst book ever. But, when you can read books like Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities and The Great Gatsby on your own time, you find that they really are awesome. Except My Antonia, why is that book famous? It sucks.

Having never read anything by a Bronte sister, I decided to give old Jane a go. The results were amazing. I fell in love with this book. Jane is an awesome role model, she's a survivor and doesn't give a shit what other people think. She sticks to her guns.

Plus the story is mysterious and dark, which you don't find a lot of in that genre. Jane is an orphan who is mistreated. Then she goes on to become a governess in a mysterious house where things go bump in the night. No one will give her straight answers and they blame it all on this crazy drunk, Grace Poole. Jane isn't fooled, though, and gets all heebeejeebeed like it could be ghosts! While Jane is at the house, she catches the eye of the house master, Mr. Rochester. The two fall in love and they are going to get married and it's all very cute UNTIL...DRAMA ENSUES. And Jane leaves because the kind of drama that ensues is something that she wants no part in.

Don't worry peeps, the book does get to a happy place again, but not after going through some darkness. I won't spoil all the good parts for you, though. I will just tell you to read it! The book was so good. Even if you had to read it in high school, read it again. Books are better when you don't have to analyze them for every color and word phrasing the author uses.

5/5 or 9/10 stars.