Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Grandma. In Her White Car.

Yesterday, my dear friend, author of the Footprints blog, shared a story about the car her dad drove. This immediately reminded me of my most embarrassing moment with my grandma, and this is something Mrs. S. wants me to share.

My story also involves an oh-so-shame car.

Let me start with this: my grandma is freaking awesome. She is one of the nicest, kindest, most generous people I have ever known. My grandma epitomizes the word, "grandma." From elementary through the early parts of high school, she picked us up from school everyday in her white 1960s Plymouth.

The embarrassing moment came on one of those days, in that car.

So the car was this huge, white, 1960s American behemoth. As a kid, it was embarrassing because it was so old. On top of that, my grandma drove extremely slow (she got her license late in life, after my grandpa's incapacitating stroke, and she never drove on the freeways). I always felt bad for the people behind us. Of course, my grandma was oblivious.

Then one day, someone did something that made her mad, and out the window she yelled, "DAAAMMNN YOU!!!" She may have shaken her fist out the window.

Are you sinking down a little in your chair for me? Maybe covering your eyes? I know I did. After all, she was driving so slow that you could see all the people on the sidewalks turn and look.

Can you even imagine my sweet grandma bellowing those words out the window of her car? Well, she did.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Come On People

There are days when all I can do is roll my eyes, sigh and angrily grumble, "People suck." Unfortunately, it feels like these days happen on a much-too-frequent basis.

Yesterday was a "People Suck Day" after I read a high school friend's status update on Facebook. Some people broke into her grandma's house and robbed it. Included among the stolen items was the urn containing her grandpa's ashes; which also happens to be the one and only thing they want back. Their story is making it's way through the news reports in Hawaii, and hopefully the thieves see the story and the message sinks in. Just give back the ashes and the urn.

It is awful enough to be robbed. Not only are you missing things of value, you are left with a tumbling mass of helpless frustration, anger and emptiness. It would be infinitely worse to have something of such great sentimental value stolen. People really need to start thinking about other people and how they would feel if the roles were reversed.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mindy Metivier Photography

My sister posted her first blog last week, and I neglected to mention it. I blame it on a hectic work schedule (we were in week-before-event-mode) and a throw quilt project that I had to finish in time for a September 25 wedding. Excuses, excuses, I know.

At any rate, the Mindy Metivier blog is running, so please check it out. She is posting some of her work, as well as telling you a little bit about herself. What I like best is that her blog is so Mindy. From her "!!!" (she is enthusiastic and dedicated) to her post about her prior life as a teacher, you truly get to know my sister.

She is doing what I think we all want to do &mdash work that we love. And Mindy undoubtedly loves babies, kids and photography.

Friday, September 24, 2010

And It Only Took 42 Hours

Truly, I have embraced the art of "just-in-time" manufacturing when it comes to making quilts for wedding gifts. This particular quilt is for a wedding in Seattle, and let's just say it's very soon. It took about 42 hours, but I finished.

Just in time.

This is actually the first time I have ever timed myself making a throw-size quilt. I am still a little amazed at the amount of time it took. There were some glitches along the way, but the big one occurred when I struggled with quilting the border. If only I had figured that out sooner, I would have finished this last night. After trying variations of circles and then hearts, I finally settled on making leaf-like shapes using a circle template. Since most of the fabric patterns contain plants or flowers, I felt like a leaf or vine motif would complement this best.

Since the quilting was all done by hand, I had to draw directly on the fabric with a disappearing ink pen. On the purple border I tried out the white marking pen by Clover (the ink disappears when you iron the fabric). It was a bit pricey at $6.99, but with a 40% off coupon from JoAnn, it was a great investment. The pen worked out well--the ink did not rub off, and it disappeared just fine with the use of my iron.

All-in-all, I am pretty happy with this project. Which is pretty amazing considering that I was very worried when I cut the squares. I was not pleased with my fabric selections (the black background fabric had more green in it when cut down to a 6 1/2" square). I am still not loving the fabric, but basting the quilt top with the batting and backing went well, and because of that, so did the hand-quilting. The basting and quilting are what I am most satisfied with...well, other than finishing it.

By the way, the wedding colors are green and purple, so that explains the color scheme. The fabric came from The Cotton Patch in Lafayette, JoAnn stores in the Bay Area and Bolt's End in Castro Valley.

Monday, September 20, 2010

So What's the Penalty? Excessive Blocking.

The Blind Side: Evolution of a GameThe Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For three months I sat on my library's wait list for Michael Lewis' The Blind Side. To say it was "worth the wait" does not sufficiently describe how I feel about this book.

It is one of the best sports-related books I have ever read, and I am quite dazed by Mr. Lewis. My first thought while reading this was that any football fan should read it. But now that I am done with the book, I think everyone should read it.

For football fans, Mr. Lewis did the incredible job of researching and telling readers about the "Evolution of a Game" (the book's tagline). His story takes you through the changes football went through during the 1980s, and the arrival of Lawrence Taylor, a linebacker for the New York Giants. Mr. Lewis ties his historical analysis to the personal story of Michael Oher.

For me, it was magic. I have always been a fan of football and the passing game. While watching the University of Hawaii as a child, I could never understand why they would ever run the ball. Maybe UH had a poor running game; I do not really remember. What I remember is Garrett Gabriel, the UH quarterback who led them to a win--a win after a 15-year drought--over then-arch-rival, BYU in 1989.

Garrett Gabriel could throw the ball, and he was a hero in Hawaii for beating BYU, so I grew up on the passing game. What a shock it was for me, 21 years after that win, to read that not only was the pass an illegal play until 1906, but a bias against the pass lasted through the 1960s.

Intermixed with all the football history is Michael Oher's amazing story. It was so amazing, that I will seek out a Baltimore Ravens game this season, just to see this man play in his second NFL season. It was so amazing, that I think anyone who has seen the movie, should read also read the book. Michael Oher, and his Tuohy family are the kind of people that give you hope for people and for this country. Times may be bad, and there maybe a lot of negativity in this world, but it all gets a little brighter when you read The Blind Side.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Car Watch 2010: Two Weeks, Post-Fax

Oh look, it's been two whole seeks since I complained about my wretched car.

Today is not about complaints. It is about updates. On Friday, September 10, Ms. H. (the woman from the Western Region Consumer Affairs department) left me a message at home. Since I picked up the message after 4:00 p.m. (she works from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.), I had to wait until today to call her.

I'll admit it. There was a little bit of hope in my fingers as I dialed the phone today. Those miniscule molecules were easily squashed when Ms. H. answered. She just had questions for me because she wasn't clear on what was going on with my case.


I thought I was pretty clear in the letter I sent to them. The short version of it is that I seek a "goodwill" gesture from the corporate office and seek repayment for the cost of the condenser and crankshaft sensor repair work. Of course these questions made me a little incensed, so I proceeded to explain everything to her that has occurred since March.

Ms. H. could not get me off the phone quick enough.

She did apologize for the slow process. That was nice of her. Then she said she needed to speak with the district manager about my case and said she would call me back.

I was so close. It felt pretty hopeless at that point.

Amazingly, she called me back right away. It may have taken her less than an hour. I have been offered partial compensation.

It's better than nothing.

It will take four to six weeks.

It's better than nothing.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy Birthday

Today is Seth's birthday! Two or three years ago I decided to start making him breakfast on his birthday (I am not a morning person, so breakfast in this house is an every-man-for-himself kind of meal). So far he has had muffins and pancakes, but I decided to make something a little more involved this year because we were not going to be having birthday dinner together. This year's birthday breakfast was sticky buns.

And what a baking adventure it was. First, I had to warm buttermilk in order to get the dough to properly, and this required the use of an instant-read thermometer. This happens to be a cooking tool I do not have. Nor have I ever warmed buttermilk on the stove. It was a little weird because the buttermilk started to separate and I had no idea if things were going right. Still, I plodded along.

Then I realized the dough had to rise for two to two and one-half hours. It was already after 9:30 p.m.

Before I knew it, the clock was closing in on 1:00 a.m. I have never rolled dough before, and it was a little difficult. I also used too much flour on the counter, so it was tough to pinch the rolled dough closed.

I woke up at 6:00 a.m. to take the unbaked dough out of the fridge and let it rise. Unfortunately, I did not follow my instinct and warm the oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes so that the dough could properly rise. Let's just say I waited for an hour before finally realizing that I should have used the warm oven technique.

In the end, they came out pretty tasty, but the pecan topping was a little hard to eat after the buns cooled down. Frustrating time in the kitchen, but good practice. And I learned my lesson. Complicated birthday baking should only be done on the weekends. Otherwise it's muffins or pancakes for birthday breakfast!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Radiant Shadows

Radiant Shadows (Wicked Lovely, #4)Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For some reason I held off on reading Melissa Marr's Radiant Shadows. It was published in April, and I know I was really looking forward to it...I blame it on the huge pile of library books I had to get through. That and the fact that I have been trying to read outside of the Young Adult fiction genre once in awhile.

How silly of me to wait. I enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed the other books in the Wicked Lovely series. But, I need to say that I am always a little disappointed.

No, not because the writing is bad or the story is predictable. Rather it is because the main characters change with each book. I always want to know more about these characters, but by the time the next book comes around, the story changes focus onto someone else. So, while there is the disappointment, I do find myself really enjoying these "new" main characters.

Come to think of it, it is a really interesting way of writing a series. Lately I have not been into long book series, but it works for Wicked Lovely.

I'm really looking forward to February 11, 2011. Otherwise known as the scheduled release date for Darkest Mercy.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Baked Manapua

One of the things I miss about home is the food, and that includes manapua. Of course I can find manapua here in the mainland, but usually only at Dim Sum (and then it's called char siu bao).

Needless to say, I was pretty excited to see this recipe for baked manapua on the My Food Affair blog. It seemed manageable enough, so I tried it out tonight. Oh my goodness was it yummy. This is the first Chinese food I have made that actually tastes right.

As far as the recipe goes, I had a little bit of a hard time with the dough since it was so sticky. It probably should have been mixed more in the bowl...guess I am too used to using a food processor to make pizza dough. And then I had a little bit of a hard time with stuffing the char siu filling into the dough and making nice little bao. Tip for anyone else trying to make this recipe: don't worry too much about making the manapua perfect because the dough smooths out a bit when you let it rise for 30 minutes before putting it in the oven.

I did not know what is in an egg wash, so I checked the internet and found several examples. I used an egg wash of one egg yolk and one teaspoon of water; a mixture that I found on The Pie Maven blog. Finally, I was concerned about making the char siu tough/dry since it's already been cooked but the five minute saute was perfect and the filling turned out just fine.

I'm not posting this recipe, but you can find it on the My Food Affair blog.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Welcome Back College Football

Today is September 2, 2010 and it's also the beginning of one of my favorite times of year: the college football season. To top it off, my team, the University of Hawaii, is playing on national TV. Then to top it off again, UH is playing the most competitive game I have ever seen them play against USC.

I am liking what I see of this UH team, and I hope Bryant Moniz stays healthy. He looks super quick and he's got a gun for an arm.

Go Bows!

And yes, I know they are the Warriors now, but they will always be the Bows to me, dressed in Kelly green.