Saturday, January 31, 2009

Book Sale Finds!

Today turned out to be one of those days that by the time noon came around, I was pretty stinkin' proud of my accomplishments.

I finished reading a book for class this week. I made myself a glorious egg sandwich. And, I found some amazing books at the local library book sale.

Despite my best efforts to sleep in this morning, 10am at the earliest, I was awake and trudging downstairs a little bit before 9am. I was internally grumpy and about to sit down with the above mentioned book, when my roommate came bopping into the room. (I'm not sure that she's ever bopped, but by contrast to how I was moving, "bopping" seems appropriate.)

Anyway, my spirits instantly lifted when my roommate reminded of today's book sale. I bounded back up the stairs, threw on a knit hat that made me feel like the tall guy from The Monkees,

and we were out the door.

The sale was held in a high school cafeteria, and I must admit that both my roommate and I were very much unimpressed with the smell of the sale. However, scent aside, I left the cafeteria with these wonderful reads.

I feel like I can jump to the conclusion that all of these books are wonderful; I’ll retract later if need be.


I got the perfect mix of fiction, biography, expose, instruction, education, humor, and (what else?) cookbooks. Several of these books I bought solely for the purpose of giving away, so I hope I've correctly pegged my friends.

Oh, and somehow this little lady didn't make the stack.


I'm telling you... this sale was tailor-made for me.

As evidence, take a look at the great cookbooks I picked up.



So far, my favorite cookbook is that one with the red plastic cover. It's called "Failure of the Week: Pat's Recipes" and it is absolutely hilarious. It's clear that Pat doesn't take herself too seriously and to prove it, she includes jokes on most pages. Something called "Chicken Pop Pie" caught my eye already. I'll have to try that out. It involves stuffing a chicken with unpopped popcorn and, apparently, watching it fly. I have no idea was that means, but I will keep you posted.

As I was excitedly reading the intro to Pat's book, I saw something magical on the front page. Take a look at this.
video
That's right! Pat wishes me "Happy Cooking!"

So not only do I have my very own copy of Failure of the Week: Pat’s Recipes, but that copy is signed by the author.

And, to think, I only spent $8 on all those books. See what I mean about the large feeling of accomplishment?

Oh…and another one of my goals for today was to include a video in my blog entry. I know the video is lame and without sound, but give me a break. It was my first.

Alright, I’m off to read!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Icicles

Yesterday morning, my roommate and I woke up to water dripping from the door frame of our front door. As it turns out, the ice on our roof was melting and coming through our roof and dripping out both sides of the door frame.

Brilliant.

So, the landlord sent this guy over.

He stood on our side roof bit and shoveled the snow off. I don't really understand how that helped since we now still have the ice layer, but who am I to question? Needless to say, when Beth and I saw a man standing outside our second story window, we took some pictures.

The reason that he ended up going so far to the corner of our house was that we had been working on a icicle out there that we were sure was going to kill us. It was gigantic and aimed directly at the base of our stairs. My roommate and I did not linger at the bottom of the stairs for fear that we would be impaled. Watch the first two minutes of this video and you'll know exactly what I kept imagining.


Anyway, the guy on the roof knocked the giant icicle off the roof. It's now laying on our snow bank. Last night I approached a broken hunk of it with wonder, only to find that I couldn't reach my two hands around it. I'm telling you... it's big. I couldn't lift it either, but it might have frozen into the snow bank, I'm not sure.

Okay, so after telling Mom about that icicle on the phone last night, she asked me to take some pictures of the icicles about. So here we go.

These icicles are from the opposite side of our house, and I couldn't take one picture that fit the length of them because I was afraid to take my camera outside. Observe.

And the bottom of those same icicles. Notice that some of them meet the snow bank in quite a lovely way.

I think of that kitchen window and being covered with an ice curtain. It's nice, I guess.

So anyway, it's still winter in Maine. Just in case anyone was wondering.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sweet Sixteen!!

I know it's a little late on this January 21st of 2009 but I wanted to make sure we all remember that today is a very special day. Anita Molinski Grubbs turns oh so sweet 16 years old today. Tonight she was very surprised when she was called up front in youth group, then saw Curtis and Donna in the back and tada...out came a cake with candles!!! Okay, so maybe she didn't enjoy it so much initially:)...but it grew on her and she had fun celebrating with so many people who love her. So...if any of you didn't get to wish her a happy birthday, it's not too late.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Patriotic?

I made cupcakes today while I watched Inauguration coverage on tv. I have a grad student meeting tomorrow and no one wants to come to those meetings anymore. I've decided that I will lure people with cupcakes.

Today I made Cookies and Cream cupcakes with a thin layer of chocolate ganache and a swirl of buttercream icing.

As you might notice, I am poor and cheap and bought the winter Oreos on sale at IGA. I figured the red cream would be interesting, but I didn't anticipate it turning the batter slightly... fleshy.



No big deal. They came out of the oven pretty normal in hue. I then daintily dunked them in chocolate ganache. (Then my roommate and I enjoyed some strawberries with the leftover chocolate. It's how we celebrated our nation.)



After letting the ganache set up for a bit in the fridge, I iced the cupcakes with buttercream icing sans vanilla. I didn't want the off-white affect that vanilla gives. I need to get some clear vanilla for just this reason.



Since the cupcakes still looked naked, I gave them each a patriotic star and voila!



So, yes, they do look inaugural when all is said and done, but the wrappers have snowflakes on them. And they are pink inside.

I don't know. The best thing I can say for them is that they are probably delicious. It's true: I have not tasted the first one. I'll find out tomorrow what the grad students think of them.

Happy Inauguration Day!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

back to school.

hey fam! i'm back at school. i had a great time at home with all of you (as evidenced by the following pics). times for school again. 18 credits this semester. eek!












that's just a few. sorry if i didn't get you in there. i think winter break meant a break from blogging... but break is over. so get to blogging, everyone!

<3 j

Lessons from the Negatives

Greetings from sunny Maine!

It actually is sunny; I'm not lying. However, in Maine winter, sun does not often equal warmth. This past week has been unbelievably cold here in Orono. The tv weather people are calling it Arctic Blast 2009. It's catchy. But also upsetting.

So, I've been dealing with the subzero temps like a champ. I've pulled out the YakTraks for the icy walk into campus and I've started backing into my parking spot so my windshield gets as much direct sunlight as possible before I get in the car in the morning. I've increased my layers and I have gloves stowed in each of my winter coats.

Alas, there are some things that I just can't prepare for. One thing I just cannot seem to handle: frozen water pipes.

Yesterday when I woke up, I noticed that the toilet water was extremely brown. Assuming digestive causes, I gave the toilet a quick flush and went to the sink to brush my teeth. No luck at the sink either... there was a quick spurt of water with what appeared to be coffee grounds in it, then nothing. I turned back to the toilet to see brown water rushing back into the toilet. Interesting.

After trying the kitchen sink, I was convinced that my roommate and I would be headed to campus even sooner than we planned. Our pipes were for sure frozen. Like a good renter, I called the landlord, left a message, and went to campus for the morning.

When my roommate and I got home around 1:30pm, we had water in all the familiar places. Success!! We both showered quite promptly.

Fast Forward a bit...

This morning I took advantage of the 4 day weekend by sleeping until 10:30am. Very nice. I strolled downstairs to find my roommate gone and hot water in the shower. So, I hopped in and showered happily while I thought about my plans for the day. As I was getting dressed upstairs in my room, I heard the singular pounding of the maintenance man on the front door. By the time I got myself (still wet) downstairs, the man was coming in and asking me if we had water.

"I think so..." I said with obviously wet hair.

"Did you call?" he queried.

"Yesterday."

"Yeah, we fixed it yesterday. Somebody called again."

At this point I'm just plain confused. And to be honest, a little bit ticked. If my roommate called, the least she could do was leave a note before she flew the coop.

The man asked if he could check the faucets and I of course stepped aside. As it turns out, I showered with residual water, because all of the pipes were frozen. Again. (By the way, my roommate didn't call and ditch, it must have been another tenant.)

About 4 hours and two broken pipes later, the last maintenance man left and we were able to brush our teeth at last.

Oh, and just to top it all off, I found out that the unheated basement - the cause of all our problems - is on our circuit. So, each time these fine gentlemen have to come out and use their heaters to thaw pipes for our building, my roommate and I foot the bill. For the entire house!

Basement Lights + Two heaters x 4 hours = A bill that should be picked up by the landlord or at least split evenly between all apartments involved.

Even though our temperatures are suppposed to be climbing in the next few days, we aren't going to see 33 degrees for a good while. I'll be talking to the responsible parties on Monday, because I have an inkling that this will not be the last pipe freeze this winter.

However, Maine winter is nothing if not educational, so I've come up with a list of things that I have learned so far. Some of these things I've learned by experience, but I'll let you guess which ones those are.

1. Our outside temps are cold enough to freeze flesh in ten minutes. I asked if that meant my flesh or a pork loin. I was told that "flesh" in this case refers to exposed skin. Gotcha.

2. When one freezes to death, the eyes go first causing blindness. I'm sure that's helpful.

3. My forehead is quite susceptible to cold. When I'm bundled up, it's the only thing that hurts a little because of the brisk wintery air. I guess I need to work on the bangs and hats.

4. Black ice is actually easy to spot in Maine because the road stuff makes the asphalt white through the winter months. Also, around here, it's just safe to assume that everything is iced over.

5. Bank thermometers register and broadcast negative temperatures. Who knew?

6. There is power steering fluid and it can freeze. I'm not sure if mine froze or my car just needed to warm up more, but I had some fun driving to campus one day. My roommate enjoyed my apparent struggle.


Okay, so six is a really odd number of learnings, but that will give you an idea of how I spend my days.

It looks like it's going to warm up a bit and snow tomorrow. I'm actually okay with that. Snow is not so bad. Frozen pipes are.