Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Archive for August, 2010

Anatomy of a Melt Down

We had a busy day. As parents of school age children know, they want copies of immunization cards and a TB test for kids to enter school.

So we drove down, from our LA area home, to our Orange County area pediatrician. Why would anyone do that? Well, our pediatrician is amazing. Honestly, she’s amazing. When the oldest kidlet had his mysterious stomach bug and I’d called her for advice, she called to check up on him a few times- without having us go in to see her.

She just moved to a new office, sadly, further south. When I set the appointment for us to go in and get the TB test started, I didn’t even think about the traffic. It was horrible. It wound up taking us a little over an hour to get there, and we were lucky enough to use the car pool lane through most of Orange County. Read More…

How to impress your friends in 15 minutes.

I’m going to share a secret with you about cooking- it isn’t hard. Sure, there are some things that seem tricky and difficult… but honestly, anyone can cook. It just takes a little focus.

A lot of my friends think I’m pretty fancy. After all, I once made pierogies from scratch. I made creamed corn for a birthday party- and those mini quiche? I should just walk around with a tea cup and my pinky extended permanently, right?

Okay, I might be more willing to get down and dirty in the kitchen than most people. But that doesn’t mean that it’s hard.

Case in point, here’s my easy Roasted Asparagus in a Mustard Vinaigrette that’s sure to impress.

Ingredients

1 lb of asparagus
Olive oil
Dijon mustard
Red wine vinegar (or your favorite acid- lemon juice or sherry vinegar would do nicely)
Salt & Pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and make sure the rack is in the middle.

Wash and trim your asparagus. Never trimmed it? It’s really easy- see, the bottom parts of asparagus are awfully woody and not the most fun to eat. Just take a stalk of asparagus and bend it until it snaps. Then, hold that stalk of asparagus against the rest of your asparagus and trim it. (If you want to make soups or whatever, you can save the stalks, but if you’re like me… you can toss it)

Line up the asparagus on the sheet tray in a single layer. Drizzle about 1 tbsp or so of olive oil on top and roll them a bit to coat them properly- then season with salt and pepper.

Roast in the oven for 10 minutes. You don’t even have to turn them.

While it roasts, it’s time to make the vinaigrette.

In a small bowl, measure out 1 tsp of dijon mustard, then 2 Tbsp of your vinegar. Using a fork, mix those two together. Then, slowly drizzle in 2 tbsp of olive oil. Taste, season with salt and pepper- and adjust the amounts of mustard, vinegar and oil until you’re happy.

Then, pull out the asparagus and toss it in the vinaigrette. And that’s it.

Note- I used red wine vinegar, because that’s what I had. But if you think that vinegar’s a bit too harsh, just use some lemon juice.

Carrot Cake – with no pictures in sight!

I must reiterate, I am a horrible foodie. When my camera was murdered by my oldest son (yes, he stole it from my purse and dropped it several times until the shutters were stuck permanently open and you couldn’t adjust to make it focus), I didn’t buy a new one. I am soldiering onward with my horrible camera phone. Why? I want an SLR, but know that I’ll have to wait for Christmas and my Birthday (as they’re only a month apart) to try for that.

The downside of relying on a cameraphone is that when you get busy, you set down the phone and promptly forget about taking pictures.

For yesterday’s birthday party, I made a Carrot Cake (with Cream Cheese Frosting, naturally) and a side of roasted asparagus in a mustard vinaigrette to go with the dinner. The rest of dinner was a Honey-baked Ham, some boiled red potatoes that were tossed in butter and parsley, a lovely salad and rolls. Mmm, rolls.

Carrot cake. I made this last year for my husband’s grandmother’s birthday, as it’s her favorite cake. I recall swearing up a storm and vowing to not make the cake until I got a food processor and food scale. Then, I decided to make it again. Apparently I had forgotten what a pain it is to grate carrots on a box grater when you have no upper body strength. Read More…

Behind on the times

I just saw The Time Traveler’s Wife on HBO. TheBoy and I had both read it, and were eager to see it- but the reviews were so middling that we decided not to see it in theaters.

One thing we were agreed on was that it was a really difficult book to adapt. The pacing of the book relied on being able to switch between Claire and Henry’s lives, jumping through his life and hers to weave the story. The movie itself chose to follow Henry’s life from start to finish- when the book mostly followed Claire’s chronologically. (If you click to read more, I’m assuming you saw the movie)

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Friday Fiction: Procrastination

Yes, this is a post apologizing for a lack of content. At least it’s better than last week when I forgot it was Friday entirely.

This week’s been a blur. The youngest has decided that he’s going to start acting like a two year old, so much of my time has been keeping the boys from killing each other. My brain’s been buzzing just trying to get the day to day stuff done that any time I’ve sat down, I haven’t been able to think of anything else. (Some of this is extremely personal family stuff that I can’t really get into, sorry)

Number of times I fell asleep in bed with my laptop open: 2

On the bright side, I finally found my DVD of The Mummy Returns. So now I can watch the movies and reiterate that Alexandria is not an Evey clone. Not in the least!

Next week, I’ll start outlining my character process and include a throwaway piece- what I dub the scenes I write and have no intention of including in a project. Usually they’re just to help me establish how characters relate.

Thursday already?

I just bought the oldest a backpack. He now thinks that school starts tomorrow. Guess I’ll be making a calendar shortly, so that we can count down to the first day (13 days)!

I also bought a catbed and some litter so that soon we can reintroduce our cat Zorro. When the youngest was diagnosed with allergies, he went to live with Jerad (my best friend). Now that the youngest is fine around cats, I can’t wait to bring him home- even though it means I’ll be head butted at night.

I am still obsessed with all things Scott Pilgrim. I know, I’ve mentioned this a couple times since it was released, but please go see it! If you’ve ever complained that studios don’t greenlight anything risky these days and that it’s impossible to adapt a unique piece to the screen- go see it! If you wind up not liking it, feel good knowing that you helped send the message that the masses want to see a bit more quirk at the megaplex.

Interesting links – From Orange County, a mother was asked to leave a the Orange Cost Plus for nursing her son, and a friend has organized a “nurse in”. Under CA law, a mother is entitled to breastfeed in public. As a mother who breastfed, I say, good for her! Why should we have to go to bathrooms (would you want to eat in a bathroom?) or cover up when it’s over 90 degrees? I know that older generations don’t get it- they were taught that breasts are bad and formula was the way. But there’s nothing bad about breasts (except for breast cancer).

In Columbus, OH, a man is mad at a local Toys R’ Us for carrying an action figure of Showtime’s Dexter. He says that it’s inappropriate for a store that sells Elmo and Barbie to carry a serial killer. Newsflash- little kids won’t know who Dexter is. Also, Toys R’ Us carried all the Spawn dolls, and fictional killer action figures- like the Pirates of the Caribbean figures, Batman and his assorted villains, and all the violent WWF/WWE wrestler dolls. Not to mention the Grand Theft Auto games. The store said that they stocked a limited number of dolls for collectors, and basically left it at that. The company who made it pointed out that Dexter’s a fictional serial killer, and there are plenty of those marketed to kids- theirs isn’t.

Which reminds me of this guy, All Star Ken. My aunt used to work for Mattel. As a kid, I got a lot of Barbies and Ken dolls from her- one of them was this guy. He came with weights, and spiffy articulation- he had elastic bands inside him so that you could pose him and the elastic would snap the joints back, so that it looked like he was exercising.

I’m not sure who thought that little girls would find that interesting (maybe he was an attempt to get boys involved?), but my sister and I thought he was pretty creepy. Worst of all, his body didn’t have molded on underwear. While that was perfectly acceptable for my Malibu Ken, it seemed creepy (and unsanitary) for All-Star Ken to run around without his underwear. This might be why in our soap opera-like gameplay, he was the abusive boyfriend, rapist or serial killer. No, we weren’t normal children- but we’re remarkably well adjusted.

I’m not sure whether or not I still have him in my collection of Barbie’s at my mom’s house. We might have actually kept him around for the sole purpose of being the villain.

And just to end this post with a laugh- I suppose it could have been worse, I could have had Sea Lovin’ Ken. I’m trying to figure out how this guy was ever released to the world at large (though not in the US).

A lovely weekend

It isn’t often that my husband gets weekends off. TheBoy works long hours in a demanding industry, so we cherish just about every second we have together.

Luckily, he had this weekend off. Saturday he slept, and Sunday we had planned on going to the Dodgers game. Only, it was hot and the thought of sitting in the sun for the duration of the game was sounding less and less appealing as time went on. So instead of the game, we decided to go a little more local and have some fun. Read More…

Milestones

Today I enrolled my oldest son in pre-school. Well, their Pre-K class. He’s right at the cut-off, so they’ll put him with the older kids.

How time flies! The picture you see is the only picture we have from when he was at daycare- and I’m still not sure how they got him to stay still long enough to get a posed picture like this. Aside from the picture package we’d purchased, we also got a fabulous tote bag!

I’m excited. He’s excited. Honestly, he’s thrilled to go back to school- and keeps asking when he’ll get to go. I think I’ll be making a calendar to deal with that question. Of course, I’m excited. As much as I love my son, we butt heads being around each other 24/7. A little time apart will do us both good.

Hopefully the little one can deal with not being around his brother for the first time since he was born. That’s the only thing I’m worried about.

Facebook Places : What it is, how you can opt out.

Facebook just released Facebook Places- a check-in service like FourSquare that’s built into Facebook. I admit, I haven’t looked too much into the features. But I do know that it’ll post where you’re at, allow you to see others people who are there- and for friends to post where you’re at.

As I mentioned in my last post, that’s just a little too much information to be sharing. While it hasn’t completely rolled out yet, Facebook has already enabled it. (You’d think they would have learned from the internet’s rage when they rolled out their last program where you’d have to opt-out, but no)

From any page, click on the Account drop down menu (located at the top right of your screen). Click on Privacy Settings. The first place you’ll want to start is the Customize settings link. As a sidenote, the minimum your settings should be at is Friends Only. I don’t know about you, but do you really want everyone in the world to know that you had a burrito for breakfast?

Now, to disable Facebook Places, you need to change a few settings. The first is under Things I Share and is called “Places I check in”. In the drop down menu, you can select who you want to see where you check in. Mine’s set to Only Me- but you can easily set up a friends list of trusted people if you do want to use it. Next up, and conveniently right below it- Include me in “People Here Now” after I check in. Simply uncheck the box.

Scroll down. Under Things others share, you’ll see Friends can check me in to Places. With the drop down menu, you can select enabled or disabled.

Scroll up and click on Back to Privacy. We have one more place to check out. Under Applications and Websites, click on Edit your settings. Now, click on Edit Settings for Info accessible through your friends. This will bring up a window filled with all the information that your friends have access to with applications. Uncheck Current City and Places I’ve visited – because really, why would an application or website need to know where you have been if you aren’t even the one using it?

There you have it- everything you need to do to keep people from broadcasting information you don’t want it to.

BONUS ROUND: Want to know how to make a friends list/group? It’s easy. On the main page, click on Friends. Then click on the button over the top right of the list of all your friends that’s called + Create a List. Just type in a name (ex “Best Friends” “Real Life Friends” “Trusted Inner Circle”) and start typing names and/or clicking. Once you’ve finished, click on Create List.

Then, anywhere in Facebook where you see the little lock, you can use that list- to lock down photo albums, statuses, application posts and yes, overall privacy settings.

Does the internet really need me to check in?

Yesterday Facebook announced (and began rolling out) its new service Places. Which is essentially a check-in service ala FourSquare, only built into Facebook.

Also, they oh so helpfully enabled it for you. (That was meant to be sarcastic – I’ll be posting later on about helpful ways to lock down your Facebook’s security). But for now, lifehacker has a great post about how to disable Facebook Places. (Just don’t forget to look at the Applications and Websites subsection)

As some might have noticed, I’ve gone to great care to not broadcast where I live. I do not actually live in Los Angeles. I live in the Greater Los Angeles Area, but I try not to say exactly where. If I mention shopping on Twitter, it’s usually as I’m leaving or when I’m home. Even then, it’s just the store name, and not the exact location. I don’t mind tweeting about vacations, as I live in a house with 5 other adults. As silly as it sounds, someone is always home. However, having not mentioned exactly where I live, I’m not exactly broadcasting a vulnerable location.

There is a method to my madness. I’m extremely uncomfortable about broadcasting where I am- not just for privacy’s sake, but because I have been stalked and obsessed over. And creepily, they didn’t involve the internet at all.

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