Friday, October 31, 2008

two months on entrecard...

... and what an interesting ride it's been!

Firstly, a big *hello!* to Monique: I remember hers was one of the first drops (and ad requests) I received, and I was like wow, if all the blogs I come across are like hers, I am set! I have really enjoyed her posts, which can vary from funny to deadly serious, but always with that pleasant easygoing style. She also happened to be my top dropper for my first month on board (that would be for September, if you were wondering. Yes I'm two months behind. I am nothing if not a major procrastinator, LoL!). Thanks Monique!


As I mentioned two months ago, I joined Entrecard in order to find more bloggers and blogs to read. Yeah, as if my blogroll isn't long enough, right? I already separated some out into "famous folk", "we've met" and the mouthful that is "socio-politico-religio commentary" in order to keep them manageable, and that's barely helping. And now on top of that I'm adding about 300 blogs to visit a day? Ummmm yeaahhhh... so now's the time to wave to my "regular" reads and say "I've not forgotten y'all!! I still do visit, but maybe weekly! Don't give up on me, aight?" *grin!*

Sometimes the "must drop 300 cards" monkey on my back rears its ugly head and I get caught up in quantity vs quality. But usually I'm good about it. "Drop and run" is not my modus operandi: I usually stop and read new posts. I do try to leave a comment if I have something to say/add to the particular topic ... but most importantly I've learned not to kill myself trying to get in my 300 drops a day, as you can see from this chart :)


If nothing else, surfing through the wide breadth of blogs within the Entrecard system has opened my eyes to communities I otherwise would probably not have discovered on my own, such as:
    > homeschooling parents & kids
    > Filipina (Pinay?) wives in the U.S.
    > political blogs so red I swear my monitor started to bleed
    > proudly christian bloggers
    > cat blogs, both written by owners about their pets, or by the cats themselves :D
    > all those food blogs omg omg omg LoL!

... and of course, blogs that are trying to make money with paid posts, with some "real" posts added in once in a while... I swear, the first few days I was exploring Entrecard, I didn't understand why so many blogs had the exact same article and photo (I think it was the free Obama bumper sticker one)... then when I saw wave after wave of similar articles all over, it finally dawned on me.. okay okay so I'm a little slow to catch on... then again, up until then the blogs I read were by bloggers who blogged for the joy of blogging, not for the money making paid posts! Sure some would have ads in the sidebar,,, but they didn't do the paid posts. Heck, I actually dropped a blogger from my blogroll a few years ago once she started with paid posts because I felt I was being used, and that I couldn't trust was she was typing was for real or for money, y'know? Sigh. And now I'm wading through a lot of these posts every day. There was one who totally disgusted me by talking about a tragic loss of a colleague's son then suddenly speculating that if they had known about this service that harvests stem cells from menstrual blood maybe it might have helped. Congrats, a paid post that turned me right off!

I'm considering not "rewarding" such blogs with my card drops, if a paid post is the latest post when I stop by. Considering. Because it wastes my time more than theirs. The jury is still out. If you have an opinion on this, please share, I'd be happy to hear it :)


As mentioned earlier, I didn't do anything at the close of my first month on Entrecard, but I'd like to take a moment to give some linky love to this month's folks who seem to like what they see here (or, like that my widget is easily accessible! ... for those who do the drop and run thing lah, that's not all of you, okay?)

Life After Work's Top EC Droppers (as at 9:40pm 31 October 2008):

Of the above, if you were to go visit just one, give The Way I See It a try - I really enjoy the thoughts and stories shared; perhaps you will too.

And while I'm at it, here's another EC shout-out: this time to a fellow Malaysian I first knew as "The Fool" from "Fool on the Hill", which then changed to "Windmill on the Hill" when he shut down and merged his other blog "Windmill of my Mind". He writes a lot of technology-related stuff, but has enough social commentary and other topics that had me dropping by with a comment or three every other visit or so, such that he gave me an award (which unfortunately is on the now-defunct blog, waaaaaaahhhh he said such nice things about me too!!) a few weeks ago. So go say hi to him too, k?

I'd also like to tip my hat to the sites that pointed a whole bunch of folk my way, based on the number of clicks my widget got on their site:



All righty then! That's linky overload!!

Y'all have a good weekend, and for those who celebrate it, I wish you a safe Samhain.

Ciao!


[p/s - this is post # 922. I should start slowly planning on what to do when I hit the one kay mark, eh? Then again, that probably won't be for another 5 months or so. But stay tuned anyway, LoL!]

Monday, October 27, 2008

pill poppin' fool

Okay, saw the allergist.

Having hives for more than 6 weeks puts them in the chronic category (as opposed to acute, usually as a reaction to stress, food, etc), and considering their behaviour, they might be indicative of an autoimmune condition. Gulp. But thankfully, the tests that the GP had ordered two weeks ago covered the things the allergist wanted to check, and they had all come back fine. That means some scary things like lupus or certain thyroid problems can be eliminated already. Phew!

It seems that identifying the cause of a chronic hives is usually unsuccessful, and that the things can go into spontaneous remission fast, or it may take years... oh joy!

But anyway: since the hives are the result of the body producing too many histamines in reaction to this as yet unidentified cause, the first step to relief is to stop them histamines. Using antihistamines. To block the H1 and H2 receptors. Or something like that. I got overloaded in doctorspeak.

Bottom line? I'm gonna be a pill poppin' fool:

To get the hives under control:
    morning:
    10mg zyrtec
    150 mg zantac

    25 mg hydroxyzine later in the day if symptoms demand it

    night:
    10 mg zyrtec
    150 mg zantac
    10 mg singulair


In addition to that, I take
a multivitamin
500 mg Vitamin C
birth control

Yum. That's about 9 pills a day.

Glad I can manage pills though! Back when I was young, heck even as a teenager, I just. couldn't. swallow. any. pills. My parents had to hide it in a piece of bread and have me swallow that instead... didn't work too well, because I'd crunch/chew it and bleaahhh...!! :p

No longer to be taken:
Benadryl: no need for this at the moment, since I'll be playing with the zyrtec/zantac/singulair cocktail at this time... have a full bottle at hand though, if needed :)
81 mg aspirin: have been taking this daily low dose as a preventive measure, for long-term heart protection. However, it seems aspirin has been known to cause and/or exacerbate existing hivey conditions, so just to make sure all bases are covered, no more aspirin until the situation is back under control.


... and it's only once everything is a-ok (or at least in remission such that I don't have all these antihistamines in my system) that I can consider going for the skin pricking testing thingy. But if you were paying attention, you'll realise that it's probably going to be a waste of time and money, since symptoms are pointing away from a specific food/pollen/whatever allergy and towards an internal off-kilter situation.

Yeah.

This is going to be fun.

Remind me to get back into daily meditation. I'm gonna need it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Book Review: The Sword-Edged Blonde

As I lament every once in a while, I have an official to-read list on Good Reads that's over 100 books long, yet every time I head to the library I end up with some random book choices because I neglect to bring said list along. No real complaints, though. I'm always up for exploring new authors. The Sword-Edged Blonde

Especially when one of my recent forays introduced me to Alex Bledsoe's The Sword-Edged Blonde.

Yeah yeah, I read the title and went "huh?" Actually, I'm still not 100% clear about how the title fits the book. But never mind. Then I picked it off the shelf and again went "huh?" in reaction to the really weird cover. Then I flipped it over and read the blurbs, it all sounded promising, "Sam Spade with a sword", okay I'll try it out.

And proceeded to consume it in one day (and night).

Man I *love* it when a book pulls me in like this one did.

The premise is simple: Eddie LaCrosse, a Private Investigator is hired on the qt by his childhood friend (now King of Arentia) to solve the mystery of the Queen who seems to have murdered their child. Eddie comes across as a man who might have once been haunted by his past, but who has now come to terms with it and has moved on... until this call for help, that is. Returning to his homeland, we slowly find out why he'd left Arentia and lost himself in mercenary work so many years ago, and how his past might inadvertently hold clues to the mystery at hand.

In order to not blurt out spoilers, let's just say that there are numerous plots and storylines in past and present, all woven together quite well and narrated with just the right touch of wry wit and simple prose such that everything moved along quite nicely. On one hand it's all one big coincidence, but on the other it still involves a whole lot of detective work, with clues right there if you see them. I would have enjoyed a more in-depth exploration of the challenges faced by a god in human form (not *really* a spoiler, really!), but I suspect I would prefer to be left to speculate on my own than to have everything explained and handed to me on a silver platter.

The setting isn't built up much, which is actually great: details are provided when necessary, so we know it's a typical medieval fantasy world without getting mired in too many descriptions establishing said world. And yet there are some amusing touches that make it unique: I was very amused at the horse getting a parking ticket, for example, and that a barwench would have a nametag.

For a first novel, I found this an excellent piece of work and a fun read; I urge you to check it out for yourself.

I'm looking forward to the sequel Burn Me Deadly, and a 70s vampire novel Blood Groove, both coming out next year.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

while we were in line at the grocery store the other day ...

... this woman comes up to the line and asks "You got 15 dollars?"

I look at Kosh, Kosh looks at me, both of us wondering if this is for real.
This goes beyond panhandling!

"Okay, how about 10 dollars? That's a 5 dollar savings, not bad!"

Ummm... yeaahhhh....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

this that and the other

This:
    So we brought the cat to the vet a few weeks ago for her annual wellness check-up. Remember that it was as a result of the previous check-up (slightly overweight, slightly dehydrated) that we ended up getting her the automatic cat feeder and the water fountain.

    The water fountain is great.

    The food thingy... well... let's just say we've discovered our cat is probably an emotional eater. Kinda like Daddy and Mommy. When she's bored, she eats. If she's kept occupied, getting lots of lap time, she doesn't really eat much. So it was a challenge figuring out her daily consumption let alone trying to then cut back on her portions. Because she wasn't consistent!

    The thing is, and we found this out the hard way, if she feels she needs to eat and there's no food because she's finished her allocation for the day/12hrs, she pees in the wrongs places... to show her ire...

    So we stopped trying to cut back, and instead just let her have the portion she seemed happy with, every 12 hours.

    Yeah. So now she's weighing 12 lbs.
    Last visit she was 10-ish.
    Doc wants her at around 8lbs.

    Guess who's gotta go on a diet?


That:

    So I went to see my General Practitioner doc about my hives urticaria, and he was quite concerned that I'd been suffering these for over a month... he immediately put me on (not too high) a course of steroids, because he didn't want me to experience side effects like the hunger and the bloating. Told me to continue with the Zyrtec and Benadryl but to expect not need them much soon.

    Within 24hours, I woke up for the first time in so long, itch-free. What a relief!!

    Scary thing is, I'm already in the tapering off phase of the 'roids, and, well, I *need* the Zyrtec and Benadryl! Yesterday I forgot said "supplementary" drugs *and* was an hour late taking the 'roids, and wow, the itchy welts started appearing on my scalp, scary how fast the things came back as soon as I let my guard down... and this morning I woke up to find splotches on my shoulder and chest - just a few, and not itching, thankfully, but still...

    It's not over, not by a long shot.

    I've got an appointment with an actual allergist next week. That'll be a token visit, setting up for whenever it is that I need to go in for the actual testing. Of course, I would need to get that done when I am *not* still having these hive thingies and therefore not having roids, zyrtec, benadryl or claritin in my system. I wonder when that's gonna happen.

    I was looking at myself this morning and last night, at the amount of pills I'm taking all of a sudden... I hate it.

    I want this things solved and fixed, stat!!



The other:
    USCIS has acknowledged receipt of the package we sent. My conditional Permanent Residency is extended for one year as they actually process the thingy. According to their website, that office is currently processing similar applications from 6 months ago. Yes, you read that right. We'll see how long it actually takes. I've had relatively good experiences with much shorter processing times than advertised.

    I'm going to have to go for another round of biometrics stuff (see item three here), they say to capture fingerprints, photo and signature. I'm quite surprised they aren't taking a cheek swab too. *rolls eyes*

    Once I get the above done, I can have a better idea of when my next visit to Malaysia will be... as I might have mentioned before, my passport expires in March '09, so I need to be heading back anytime between now and then to get the thingy renewed.

    Of course, I'm reluctant to throw so much $$ for the trip unless it's "worth it", so I might add another leg or two to the journey: Switzerland (see my niece!), England (visit HW!), ... maybe be adventurous and visit a blog pal or two? But extra legs means extra $$ too... so we'll see... one step at a time...


Have a good Tuesday, everyone!

Friday, October 17, 2008

What cartoon character are you?

Saw this over at My Kids Are My World, and figured it would do for weekend fodder :)

The Cartoon Character Meme Quiz

Copy these rules to your post.
Link to the person who tagged you.
Keep track of your points. (Don't peek at the answers.)
Add the answer YOU got (and maybe an image) at the end of your post.
Tag some people.

The Quiz:

Which one of the following describes the perfect date?
a) Candlelight dinner (4 pts.)
b) Fun/Theme Park (2 pts.)
c) Painting in the park (5 pts)
d) Rock concert (1 pt.)
e) Going to the movies (3 pts.)

What is your favorite type of music?
a) Rock and Roll (2 pts.)
b) Alternative (1 pt.)
c) Soft Rock (4 pts.)
d) Country (5 pts )
e) Pop (3 pts.)

What type of movies do you prefer?
a) Comedy (2 pts.)
b) Horror (1 pt.)
c) Musical (3 pts.)
d) Romance (4 pts.)
e) Documentary (5 pts.)

Which one of these occupations would you choose if you only could choose one of these?
a) Waiter (4 pts.)
b) Professional Sports Player (5 pts.)
c) Teacher (3 pts.)
d) Police (2 pts.)
e) Cashier (1 pt)

What do you do with your spare time?
a) Exercise (5 pts.)
b) Read (4 pts.)
c) Watch television (2 pts.)
d) Listen to music (1 pt.)
e) Sleep (3 pts.)

Which one of the following colors do you like best?
a) Yellow (1 pt.)
b) White (5 pts.)
c) Sky Blue (3 pts)
d) Dark Blue(2 pts.)
e) Red (4 pts.)

What do you prefer to eat?
a) Snow (3 pts.)
b) Pizza (2 pts.)
c) Sushi (1 pt.)
d) Pasta (4 pts.)
e) Salad (5 pts.)

What is your favorite holiday ?
a) Halloween(1 pt.)
b) Christmas(3 pts..)
c) New Year (2 pts.)
d) Valentine's Day(4 pts.)
e) Thanksgiving(5 pts.)

If you could go to one of these places which one would it be?
a) Paris (4 pts)
b) Spain (5 pts)
c) Las Vegas (1 pt)
d) Hawaii (4 pts)
e) Hollywood (3 pts)

With which of the following would you prefer to spend time with?
a) Someone Smart (5 pts.)
b) Someone attractive (2 pts.)
c) Someone who likes to Party (1 pt.)
d) Someone who always has fun (3 pts.)
e) Someone very sentimental (4 pts.)

The Answers:

(10-16 points) You are Garfield :You are very comfortable, easy going, and you definitely know how to have fun but sometimes you take it to an extreme. You always know what you are doing and you are always in control of your life. Others may not see things as you do, but that doesn't mean that you always have to do what is right. Try to remember, your happy spirit may hurt you or others.

(17-23 points) You are Snoopy:You are fun; you are very cool and popular. You always know what's in and you ' re never out of style , you are good at knowing how to satisfy everyone else. You have probably disappeared for a few days more than once but you always come home with the family values that you learned Being married and having children are important to you, but only after you have had your share of fun times

(24-28 points) You are Elmo:You have lots of friends and you are also popular, always willing to give advice and help out a person in need. You are very optimistic and you always see the bright side of things. Some good advice:try not to be too much of a dreamer. Dreaming too big could cause many conflicts in your life.

(29-35 points) You are Sponge Bob Square Pants. You are the classic person that everyone loves. You are the best friend that anyone could ever have and never wants to lose. You never cause harm to anyone and they would never not understand your feelings. Life is a journey, it's funny and calm for the most part Stay away from traitors and jealous people and you will be stress free.

(36-43 points) You are Charlie Brown:You are tender, you fall in love quickly but you are also very serious about all relationships. You are a family person. You call your Mom every Sunday. You have many friends and may occasionally forget a few Birthdays. Don't let your passion confuse you with reality.

(44-50 points ) You are Dexter:You are smart and definitely a thinker... Every situation is fronted with a plan. You have a brilliant mind. You demonstrate very strong family principles. You maintain a stable routine but never ignore a bad situation when it comes. Try to do less over thinking every once in a while to spice things up a bit with spontaneity!

= = =
so who am I? @ 31 pts, I am Sponge Bob Square Pants.
Ugh.
Let's deconstruct the "analysis", shall we?

    You are the classic person that everyone loves.
    ..classic? me, yes. Sponge Bob, no!

    You are the best friend that anyone could ever have and never wants to lose.
    ..okay, that's kinda true :)

    You never cause harm to anyone and they would never not understand your feelings.
    ..well I bend over backwards for everyone until they betray/take advantage of me, then bye bye, is that the "cause no harm" that you mean? But I keep my feelings bottle up and hidden behind my public facade, so I don't think "anyone would never not understand" my feelings. This sentence is out.

    Life is a journey, it's funny and calm for the most part.
    ..umm okay, agree with the journey part,,, dunno about funny (it's all about perspective & attitude)... and calm?? Well I don't think life is calm but I do take it on rather stoically, does that count?

    Stay away from traitors and jealous people and you will be stress free.
    ..amen!! :)


[btw - the Dexter @ 44-50 pts isn't serial-killer Dexter. just so you know. not that I know any other Dexter, LMAO!!!]

..... feel free to tag yourself try this out for yourself!

have a good weekend y'all!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

geekiness #2; and R.I.P.

[click here for geekiness, part 1] First, the geekiness: omg omg omg Alex Bledsoe visited *and commented!* on my blog!! excuse me while I have another geek-out moment!! :)

And now, for the sad news. To my dismay, I realise I'm over a YEAR behind on this piece of news!! Better late than never? Something mentioned by Pat Rothfuss had me all a-flutter... a quick search confirmed it:
we have lost Robert Jordan

Yes, author of The Wheel of Time series, the person I started feeling real angry at because it felt as if he was stringing fans along by unnecessarily extending the series such that many books were almost not worth the read, the author who released Book #11 in 2005 which kinda redeemed him in my eyes, and gave me hope that we'd finally get to the end of the series and resolve all those storylines... yes, that author.

It seems Brandon Sanderson has been chosen to finish the series, utilising the copious notes and hours of voice recordings left by the late Mr Jordan. The book is scheduled to be released in Fall 2009. Between now and then, I'll be acquainting myself with Mr Sanderson's work.

And yes, this is another book-related post.

Next one will be different. Maybe.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Booking through Tuesday

Stumbled across a book-related meme a while ago, but kept not participating... until now... this week features a series of simple questions, rather than the usual deep-thought-provoking one :)

What was the last book you bought?
Would you believe this is a tough one to answer? Thanks to the Chicago Public Library system, I've borrowed most of the books I've read for the past two years. In fact, technically the most recent book I paid for was Fiction Writer's Brainstormer by James V. Smith, for 50 cents donation, from the library's discard pile!

Name a book you have read MORE than once
So many! I'm the type who likes to reread books. But first and foremost is still The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?
I didn't finish reading the book (but I did attend a management course that covered it), but Chapter One was more than enough to jolt me out of victimspeak. Stephen Covey's The & Habits of Highly Effective People.

How do you choose a book? eg. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews
A little bit of everything. I actually have a to-read list that's over 100 titles long that's been compiled mostly from reviews in newspapers or, more commonly, from online reviews I come across while blog surfing. *however* I usually don't have that list with me when I hit the library, so I end up hoping a book will jump out at me and say "read me! read me!!". In this case, the title needs to catch me first, then I read the cover blurb, and if it seems interesting, I'll take it. Have I mentioned how much I heart using a library?

Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?
Most definitely FICTION, specifically fantasy. I read to escape, so I don't want to be reading "real" stuff, LoL!

What’s more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?
This is a toughie. I appreciate any book of any genre that speaks in a different voice, brings forth a different perspective or just plain makes me think. I think style wins, but by a hair.

Most loved/memorable character (character/book)
This is another toughie. The tales stay with me more than specific characters. But I have to give a shout out to Roland Deschain, the last Gunslinger in Stephen King's Dark Tower series. "Good thing I **** left-handed" is seared into my mind, along with his reaction when getting his first taste of *sweet* soda. :) I don't think I'd like him in real life, but he makes for a great haunted protagonist.

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?
The previously-mentioned Fiction Writer's Brainstormer by James V. Smith - haven't actually touched it in a while though... :p So much for ma NaNo preparation!!

What was the last book you’ve read, and when was it?
The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe. And I finished it this morning about 3am - that's right, I *had* to get to the end of the tale. I really enjoyed it, and feel that if I were to get my own book out, it would read pretty much in the same style. It gives me hope :)

Have you ever given up on a book half way in?
Yes, a few times. Most memorable to me was Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee - I just couldn't deal with the atrocities meted out to the Native Americans... I wanted to know, but I couldn't handle it. I probably still can't stomach it today.


If you'd like to read more, try this previous post from January 2006.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Fragility of Life

I am still reeling from the shock of the news that awaited me the yahoo email account devoted almost exclusively to my Malaysian schoolmates.

St Mary's Primary and Secondary School was where I grew up.

Where I made lifelong friends.

Friends who may not be in immediate touch, what with my lack of communication except for this blog, occasional text messages, and rather strict moderation of our Yahoo!Group. But we St Marians (and I make this statement based not just on my batch!) have been blessed with this community-mindedness, this cohesiveness, this friendship that continues despite the "realities" of adult life, including, as all too common in Malaysia, shall we say, racial polarization?

Aaaaannnnyway... what I'm getting at is I've always looked back on my time in St Mary's with great fondness. My last 2 years especially - Form 4 & 5 - was where I kinda joined my "gang" ... nothing gangsterly laaaa, more like, finally, a group of people with whom I actually ... belonged. Among the people in this gang is someone we fondly call Ojai. She was the more loud and outspoken one, dynamic, outgoing, and also the first of the gang to get hitched. Over thirteen years of the ups and downs of married life, some of which was shared with me the last time we met, and my that was one of those last-minute things that just kinda happened the night before my flight out, Neome and I met her at Bangsar and chatted for *how* long??!! :)

... and then ...

On Friday 5th September 2008, around 5:40 am, while having sahur (eating before the start of fasting), Ojai's husband complained of dizziness and numbness on one side of his body. Got him to a clinic, suspected a stroke, but that was eliminated.

A CT scan told the cold hard truth - a brain tumour.

A big one.

Like 25% of the brain was the tumor. And it was intimately involved in the blood supply to the brain, thus complete removal would not be possible. But removal needed to be done. He went under the knife on Monday 8th September. There were major complications during the op, but he emerged, and is now recovering better than the doctor's expectations.

I can only imagine, and poorly, how her and her family's life changed that day.

And it is with pride I share her advice to us, which reflects how she healthily she is dealing with what has happened:

Friends..please dont ever take ur health, ur life for granted... go for regular check-ups (it wont prevent the disease but it can help early detection & cure), maintain health insurance (at least have 1, small if not big) to assist u should God honour u with test such as this.

Most of all, Value your time with those who matters as u cant be sure of how much time u've got left.

Well... A lot may feel this is sad..but I feel blessed.. as God has given us...a second chance to make better paths in our lives...

Friends.. I'm taking this opportunity to thank all of you for your prayers/thoughts/support.... if I ever missed telling you guys, I'm telling u guys now... I'm glad to have friends like u... mmmmmmmuuuuuuaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!

-OJAI-


A sloppy mmmmmmmuuuuuuaaaahhhhhhh!!!!! right back at ya, dearie!
My prayers are with you and your family, Ojai.

/out

Friday, October 10, 2008

another foody friday

... but first, another itchy update. Yeah, so two days ago we went to the in-laws for an overnight visit, and yesterday we spent some time outdoors, playing around with a b.b.gun, and getting assaulted by no-see-'ums. And guess what? By the time I got back home, I was covered in welts all over my neck and upper chest & back. I blame the no-see-'ums. If I were to post pics, you'd puke! If you're curious, click here. But don't blame me if you freak!! Seriously. We have an appointment for next week. In the meantime, I'm popping Benadryl like there's no tomorrow. Fun!

.... moving on .....

Here are more food pix!!

1. I experimented with a cheesy chicken pot pie recipe posted at The Smith's Kitchen (don't bother clicking the link, it doesn't exist anymore! she moved to her own domain!).

I didn't strictly follow the recipe, so who knows if it was due to me or the recipe that I didn't quite like what got produced.

What was wrong?

For one, it was sour. Yes, the recipe called for sour cream, and I used it, but crikey, was it sour!

Secondly, the biscuit-like topping called for cake mix but I used flour. Came out slightly chewy, and sour (yes, some sour cream required there too!). Next time, I might just use a can of the crescent roll dough for a simple and guaranteed tasty crust.

And if there is a next time, I'll see how I can incorporate coconut milk - I have a feeling it'll hold everything together very well. :)

2. I can't remember who had pointed me to this recipe on the Kraft website: Beef & Macaroni Bake. Again, didn't quite follow the recipe.

Instead of ground beef, I used Morningstar's soy crumbles, and I cooked that with Hot&Spicy taco seasoning.

The recipe called for one 14oz package of mac&cheese - ummm, a normal package is 7oz,,, so I did a double batch, but when it was ready, I think all I needed was just one package. So take note, in case you want to try this out yourself. Then the last step with the flour/butter/egg mixture didn't seem to thicken, grrrr...

but you know what? It turned out delish!! So delish, that within 24 hours it was gone. 75% consumed by me, LoL!! This is a definite re-try.

3. SOPAPIA! Yeah, did it again, specifically to be shared with my meditation group.

I got rave reviews, with a few people not quite believing that it wasn't store bought :)

But *next* time I make this, I'm going to start experimenting - less sugar, and low-fat cream cheese! :)

... last but not least ... I'm typing this while an experimental meatloaf is a-bakin' in the oven. Why experimental?

It's still based on this recipe;
except that I used 95% lean beef *and* another 1 lb equivalent of Morningstar's soy crumbles.

Forgot the celery this time around.

Yes, it has two hard boiled eggs in there.

... Another 15 minutes or so to go until this is ready.

I'm hungry!!

... and in case you caught it, yes, I am trying to introduce more soy into our diet. So far, these soy crumbles seem to be the best option. I've tried playing with the "plain" tofu, and wasn't impressed. Then I tried Morningstar's fake steak slices - both Kosh and I think that is what gave us real nasty gas, so we're not trying that again. But the crumbles? So far so good!

Here's to better food choices!

Have a good weekend y'all.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

20 things about Kosh ...

we are putting together the USCIS package now, so it should get photocopied and mailed tomorrow. can't wait!!

in the meantime, here's some filler, stolen from On The Verge. Looks like it's a "share info about yr other half" meme:

  1. He's sitting in front of the TV: what is on the screen? Nowadays it's episodes of Dragon Ball Z - we're using Netflix to get a hold of them. If we're talking actual TV then it would be MAD TV (or Comedy Central channel in general) during the day, and Family Guy reruns at night.
  2. You are out to eat: What kind of dressing does he put on his salad? Thousand Island on the side.
  3. What is the one food he doesn't like? Gorgonzola cheese, LoL! found this out recently when we went to an italian place and I tried gnocchi with gorgonzola cheese sauce - he took one bite, and, never again!
  4. You go out to the bar: what does he order? usually a tequila & tonic, and if he's in the mood for more then it'll be followed by a martini on the rocks
  5. Where did he go to high school? James B. Conant High School in Hoffman Estates, Il.
  6. What size shoe does he wear? 7
  7. If he were to collect anything, what would it be? omg just about everything, he's a pack rat LMAO!! Perhaps a special mention to Magic: The Gathering cards, although that was in its peak during college times.
  8. What is his favorite type of sandwich? half a bagel with a few slices of turkey baloney topped with a portion of green pepper.
  9. What would the husband eat every day if he could? See #8
  10. What is his favorite cereal? Honey Nut Cheerios
  11. What would he never wear? ummmm panties?
  12. What is his favorite sports team? He's not a sports fan. Heck I know more of what's happening with the Bears, Cubs and White Sox than he does, and that's not really saying much!
  13. Who will he vote for? Obama, the lesser of two evils.
  14. Who is his best friend? ummm, me?
  15. What is something you do that he wishes you wouldn't do? Hmmmm... biting my nails, and snapping at him (not necessarily in that order, LoL!)
  16. How many states has he lived in? Only one: Illinois.
  17. What is his heritage? He's more of a mutt than me: Polish, Russian, Irish, and more.
  18. You bake him a cake for his birthday: what kind? We're not cake fans, but he does like chocolate, so I'd fix something like a double fudge chocolate cake or something like that so we'd O.D. on it.
  19. Did he play sports in high school? Wrestling, gymnastics.
  20. What could he spend hours doing? anything except work. seriously. puttering around on the 'puter, on the 'net... we're two of a kind :)


Perhaps Kosh'll drop a comment to verify/dispute my answers? :)

Have a good week, y'all!

Friday, October 03, 2008

catching up!

update on the itchies and scratchies: Thanks for y'all's concern :) No, I have yet to call an allergist... didn't I mention procrastination is one of my middle names? Besides, the Benadryl was keeping me knocked out most of the week. We accidentally found out that the combination of Benadryl *and* Zyrtec seems to make a difference. The colony of welts that took root at the base of my neck is pretty much gone, yahoo! Still have uglies behind one ear, but at least I don't wake up and immediately start scratching at them! Yay! I'll take the dozing all day to driving myself nuts with the itching!!! Next week I'll pick up the phone and call the allergist, I promise!

paperwork blues: Thanks for the comments and questions on this post! I'll try to address them now:

Some asked why I needed to go through these hoops, and why it's so complicated. Well, at the risk of sounding defeatist, it's just how the system is. And I'm not dissing the system - I understand that it's been designed to have all these different steps, although it would be nice to have someone audit them and see if they can be reduced... At this time I just wish the instructions were better written!

What I'm going through is just to get a full-fledged Green Card. What I hold now is a conditional Green Card. Foreigners who marry U.S. Citizens are automatically granted PR status. However, due to a high incidence of marriage fraud, a 2-year probation period is put into play. So prove that during the first 2 years of your marriage you acted like a real married couple, then all is fine. But you must apply to get rid of the conditional status 90 days before the conditional status expires. If you don't, your PR is canceled and you need to get yet butt outta the country. Fun, eh?

To those who said affidavits are not required: Perhaps the information in the forums is a bit old? The most recent version of the form & instructions was released in August 2008 - I don't have an older version of the instructions for comparison, so I have no idea if things have changed much since even a year ago. All I can say is, we called the help line, and the guy said "yes"... so... better safe than sorry, eh? And a thank you to Elisette, but I don't think interactions via blogs would count for much in their eyes :p

How is this related to getting citizenship? It's not. Or rather, citizenship would be the next step for me, if I chose to pursue it. Right now I'll just take the PR, thank you! But in case you're curious, I *think* I would be eligible for citizenship in another year or so.

and no, the package is not ready yet. Still waiting to receive affidavit #2 (probably get it on Sunday). So next week it'll be on its way.

oh, and I thought up a complication about a technically expired PR and my needing to get to Malaysia to renew my passport. Aaaaaauuuggghhhhhhhh!! Will whine about it later, if it's a valid concern.

sigh.

okay go have a good weekend!!
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