Monthly Archives: January 2010

Give us the Cookies!

Here in the Midwest, Girl Scout cookie time has hit. We’ve ordered from a faculty member’s daughter, the daughter of someone who has an office near me, and the daughter of Porkchop’s boss.

I’m a pretty easy target for Girl Scout cookies because I went through the travails of cookie-selling myself. Well, I should amend that statement because if a Girl Scout has already sold a hundred boxes, she doesn’t really need our help. Nope, I have a dear place in my heart for those Girl Scouts who are having a hard time selling. They’re the ones who need our help.

You see, when I was a Scout, depending on the number of boxes you sold, you received a cookie badge sized accordingly. With the exception of one year, I always had the smallest badge. And, I was always the only one in my troop to have the smallest badge.

Do you know how that feels? I didn’t really care about the number of boxes I sold because I knew my parents donated money to my troop throughout the year to cover costs. But I still hated feeling like the cookie outcast. And since you put the badge on your sash or vest, every other Scout knew that I was a cookie loser.

I had a hard time selling for the following reasons:

  1. We didn’t have any relatives in my town. Our relatives in Oklahoma weren’t really the cookie-buying type. Well, they probably would have ordered a lavish amount of boxes, but they wouldn’t have paid up when the cookies were delivered.
  2. My mom worked from home and my dad’s workplace was small. I could count on the library staff for 15-20 boxes, top.
  3. My parents didn’t have many friends. The friends they did have all had kids in Scouts.
  4. I was shy and suffered social anxiety, and it was really hard for me to go door-to-door in our neighborhood and have people say No, I don’t want your stinking cookies.

There was only one year in which I achieved the 50+ boxes sold cookie badge. However, it was only because my dad put us down for about 30 boxes. Still, I felt pretty proud to sew that badge on my sash.

I told all of this to a co-worker who said she wasn’t ordering from our faculty members’ daughter because she (the co-worker) tends to eat an entire box of Thin Mints in one sitting. The faculty member in question is from Korea, is very quiet, and probably won’t send her daughter door-to-door. I told my co-worker, look, XXX probably isn’t going to sell any boxes outside of our office, that’s the reality, and I don’t want her to feel bad.

I think my co-worker is reconsidering.

I love the Girl Scouts, but I do wish they would reconsider the cookie incentive stuff (I think the incentives are a bit more complex these days). I mean, come on, the organization is supposed to help build girls’ self-esteem, not make them feel bad because no one wanted to buy cookies from them.

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School Days

Start tomorrow for Porkchop and me!

For me, I’m taking another online class. This time, it’s Summative and Formative Evaluations. Judging from the textbook, it’s about evaluating online learning systems. The textbook cracks me up because the illustrations look like something that an ironic comic artist would do…it’s all clip art with word balloons inserted. The only difference is that I think the textbook author is serious with her illustrations.

More excitingly, Porkchop starts teaching a printmaking class at a local community college! But, I think she is more irritated than excited because the art department at said college seems to be run by the two most scatterbrained people around. Porkchop gave them a completed application twice, told them which sections she could teach multiple times, and has yet to receive her employee number, ID card, and keys to the building where her class will be. Oh, also, the printshop is full of woodshop materials that were supposed to be moved before classes, but the saws and planers are still by the printing presses.

Since today was my last day off for quite some time, I took it kind of easy. After taking Porkchop to work, I went to the Y and swam laps. This was my first time lap swimming for about six years! It went pretty well, considering my long absence from the pool, and I decided a half mile was okay for today. I finished my Y trip with some whirlpool and sauna action.

Swimmers need to eat, so when I came home, I made a bacon and cheese omelet, which was eggs-cellent (I’ve been waiting all day to type that!). With our new little Calphalon skillet, I can make perfect omelets. Look:


I was so impressed with the omelet-making, and I think the skillet might work well with crepes.

I was still hungry after the omelet, so I made this strawberry-banana bread using frozen berries that we picked over the summer. The only change I made was to substitute 1/2 cup whole wheat flour for white flour, which is enough to fool you into thinking that the bread is healthy. Oh, and I didn’t have pecans, so no nuts for us. The bread is delicious, and I totally recommend the recipe.

In other cooking news, I made a yummy chicken curry tonight using the Splendid Table cookbook. I’m also on a spaghetti kick lately, and I can’t wait to try this tomato sauce recipe (only three magical ingredients!).

All for now. Have a great week!

In These Cold Times

I look at Madison weather to make me feel better. But, it’s currently about the same temperature there as it is in St. Louis, so I had to expand my weather search to Minneapolis.

Yeah, it’s a lot colder in Minneapolis. Compared to there, it’s downright warm in St. Louis.

Only, it doesn’t feel warm.

This morning was a long, bitterly cold walk from the Metro to my office. It was one of those cold walks during which your nose first freezes, and then your snot unfreezes and leaks out your nose onto your face.

Tomorrow, I think I’ll carry a tissue with me. Because it isn’t cool to arrive at work with snot frozen on your face.

Yesterday afternoon, we hit the hot tub at the Y. It was delightfully warm and relaxing, and not too crowded.

Some people go to the Caribbean for a break from the cold. Us, we’ll go to the Y and ride the lazy river a few times.

Well, Hello 2010!

We ended 2009 with a big food bang at the new Brasserie by Niche. Porkchop and I agreed that it was the best meal we’ve had in a long time. I can’t say enough how perfect it was!

We started with an order of gougeres, which were addictively cheesy and warm and yummy. I went the 3-courses-for-$30 route and shared my small plate of seared sea scallops and roasted beets with Porkchop. Also perfectly done and super tasty.

But, the stars were our main courses. Porkchop had a well-done New York strip with pommes frites. The steak was tasty (even though I’m not a big steak fan), but the fries were out-of-this-world delightful. Next time, we’ll order a big plate of those.

Before I write about my entree, I want to preface by saying that, since I started eating meat again over three years ago, I’ve only ordered beef at a restaurant once (and it was a burger that I totally regretted ordering). So, it was a bit of character for me to order the braised short ribs, but I’m so glad I did! The meat totally fell off the bone and melted in my mouth. The accompanying pureed potatoes and roasted carrots were also perfect. I didn’t even need to season my potatoes.

For dessert, I went with the profiteroles, and Porkchop ordered the lemon tart. Again, perfect. For drinks, I had a glass of Riesling, and Porkchop had the Duchesse de Bourgogne (Flemish red ale! Yum!).

So, I definitely recommend Gerard Craft’s latest venture!

After stuffing ourselves and changing into pajama pants when we came home, we made new goals for the new year. But first, here’s how I did on last year’s goals:

  • Plant my own vegetable garden! CHECK.
  • Can my own food! CHECK.
  • Figure out my career. WORKING ON IT. I started a Masters program, which counts for something.
  • House maintenance: paint inside, paint the foundation, finish the drylocking in the basement, put up that additional downspout, fix up the backyard…. NEEDS WORK. We only painted downstairs; the rest of the items still need to be done.
  • Learn how to knit Fair Isle-style. INCOMPLETE.
  • Do more baking! SORT OF.
  • Secret project with Porkchop. STILL IN PROGRESS.

I’m okay with my progress on last year’s goals. I’m not going to beat myself up for not taking up stranded knitting or not drylocking the basement.

Here are this year’s goals:

  • Be more flexible and less controlling. I’m working on being more open to others’ ideas about how to do things. And I’m trying to not let things like slightly open drawers and cabinet doors bother me (But I still can’t stop closing Porkchop’s dresser drawers! Open drawers drive me crazy!).
  • Do more neighborhood things. I’m secretary of our neighborhood association, but I want to do even more and meet more area residents.
  • More regular exercise. I started the ball rolling today with joining the local Y! Porkchop and I even signed up for a step class together! I’m looking forward to swimming regularly again and taking advantage of the hot tub, sauna, and steamroom.
  • Bake more with whole grains. Yeah, I need to cut back on the white flour.
  • Stranded knitting! See last year’s goal.
  • Practice Spanish. This will be the hardest goal for me to accomplish, I think, especially since I remember more French than Spanish.
  • Save for trips and a new computer.
  • Be more positive at work. This past year, I gave into some negativity, and I want to kick that in the ass.
  • Be better with house maintenance. See last year’s goals.

Finally and most importantly, I want to spend more time like this with my family:

Okay, time to start working on things!

Have a great 2010!