Wednesday, September 29, 2010

There's no we in Glee

I have become obsessed with the show Glee. As with most trends, I was very late to jump on the bandwagon so I watched all the reruns this summer and got HOOKED! I'm now officially a "Gleek," if you will. Every time I would watch an episode this summer, Pat would stick around until the first singing number started and then he'd get up and leave the room saying the show was too ridiculous for him.

Last night, I begged him to stay and watch the full episode with me and give it a chance. I was hoping if he watched a full episode, he would catch on to some of the storyline and realize there actually was a plot and then might start to like the show. While he did stay downstairs with me for the entire show, he definitely wouldn't agree that the show has a plot and he definitely will never watch the show with me again. He can't get over the fact that the cast randomly goes into musical numbers, flash mob style, to express their feelings. But what he thinks is even worse, is the fact that they aren't really singing at all but are lip-synching. Last night, while he was being forced to stay downstairs for the entire hour of the show, he was constantly sharing his displeasure with the show itself and with me for making him watch it. You would have thought I was making him watch a show about root canals because he was acting like it was so painful for him. He thought the show was so bad that he kept putting the hood of his sweatshirt up over his head and around his eyes (interesting tactic, I will make sure to wear hooded sweatshirts from now on when football is on).

Pat doesn't understand why it's so important to me that he watch the show too. He says he's perfectly happy to go upstairs and watch TV in the living room and let me have the basement. I guess I should be grateful for his willingness to go upstairs and watch TV on a 22" smaller TV without HD, but for some reason I DO want him to watch Glee with me. And not just Glee, but ALL the shows I like to watch (especially Dateline since that show really freaks me out). We work all day and only see each other for a few hours in the evening and I'd rather us be spending that time together than apart. We've only been married a year and I do still enjoy his company (give me a few years and we'll probably be begging for the other person to leave the room). Plus, I like cuddling on the couch with him and he keeps me warm when it's cold.

I think it's a girl thing. All four years in college, my roommates and I would watch our favorite shows together, commenting on things during the show and talking about the show after it was over. Life is more fun when you have people to share it with, right? It sounds like I'm trying to turn Pat into a girl and expecting him to like shows that girls like, doesn't it? I did ask him to paint my nails once. He declined. Very quickly. Without hesitation.

I guess we don't have to like ALL the same things. I certainly don't see myself ever wanting to watch all the things he watches on TV, like past super bowls. What is worse than watching live football? Watching OLD football games from years, decades ago. Not my idea of fun.

Now that he's given the show a chance (if you count putting your hooded sweatshirt over your eyes as a "fair chance), he fulfilled my request and I can't ask him to watch the show with me again. Looks like Tuesday evenings are going to be loneGlee for me. ha ha. Sorry, I had to.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Woman versus Wild

Don't get too excited. I'm not being helicoptered into the desert to prove what we all already know: I hate bugs and probably have very few survival skills. But I do sometimes feel as though I live with a bunch of wild animals. Whether it's Sadie who seems to be throwing up every other day or Grady who has been having accidents in his crate once a week, it seems that we are constantly cleaning up after these animals. And then there's Pat. I know that part of it isn't his fault and that by just being a guy, he will naturally do some things that I find disgusting.

On Sunday, I watched him take off his socks, the same socks he had been wearing all day long, and roll them up into a ball. I assumed he was rolling them up and taking them right to the laundry basket so Grady wouldn't try to eat them. I watched him walk out of the office and turn left to walk into our bedroom rather than walking straight into the bathroom where the dirty clothes basket is located. He then took those socks and put them in his sock drawer as if he had just taken them right out of the dryer. My jaw was probably hanging wide open. I was feeling somewhere between disgusted and dumbfounded.

I had a choice to make. I could either pretend like I didn't see what just happened and act like it was the first time. Of course this isn't a regular occurrence. Right? Please tell me this isn't a regular occurrence! Or, I could call him out on it and not only acknowledge that I witnessed this disgusting act, but also let him know that I strongly oppose!

Of course I did number two. I told him I found it disgusting and tried to talk him into putting them in the dirty clothes. My efforts were unsuccessful. His argument, although well thought out and very well articulated, did not make me feel better. He argued that even though he had been wearing them all day, he hadn't endured any serious physical activity in them and therefore, it was almost as if he had never worn them at all. Speechless, I decided to let it go.

Tonight, as I was lying in bed perusing the world wide web on my laptop, he walked into our bedroom with his guilty grin - the smile he makes when he's either lying or doing something he knows he shouldn't be doing. While I was trying to figure out what he was hiding, he was walking over to our dresser and opening the drawer. That's when I saw them. A pair of socks rolled up that he was trying to sneak in the drawer. "Please tell me those aren't the socks you've been wearing all night and during our half an hour walk in the rain with our dog." His grin got bigger and I knew that they were. "It was cold out so it doesn't count," was his response.

There goes my theory about this whole reusing of the socks thing being a one time incident. If we were in a position where we couldn't afford more than one or two pairs of socks, or to do our laundry for that matter, I would be much more understanding in this situation. Hey Pat, your college years called and guess what they said? Not only are you no longer living in a bathroom in a house with seven other guys, but you also have your own washer and dryer and a drawer full of clean socks. Well, I used to think they were clean...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Get in the kitchen and make me some: Crunchy Nacho Dogs & Homemade Crispy Fries

Epic fail. That's all there is to say. Okay, fine. I'll explain. The nacho dogs (recipe here) were a disaster from start to finish. Actually, I was doomed before I even started because as soon as I read the line, "a great recipe for kids to cook," all I could think about was screwing up a recipe that was so easy a "kid could do it." I didn't find it to be all that easy. Whether or not it should have been is another story.

The first step was as simple as opening the croissants and getting them out of the packaging. I'm not going to lie. I always get nervous when I'm opening the biscuits and croissants packaging because I know it's going to "pop open" when you least expect it. Tonight I was like Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf when he's turning the jack-in-the-box and nervously waiting for it to pop open. And just like the movie goes, when it didn't immediately pop open, I was convinced that it wasn't going to. I thought maybe since I bought the generic croissants that they open differently. Then when I was least expecting it, it burst open with an even louder pop than usual. I screamed and jumped out of my skin. I was the only one home (other than the furry witnesses) so I could have easily omitted this detail, but in the interest of full disclosure and self-deprecation, I must tell all. Opening the croissants was strike one.

Strike two happened when I couldn't figure out how to take 8 of the tiny croissant triangles and make them into 4 big triangles, as the recipe (vaguely) described. I am not exaggerating when I say that I stood there for no less than 5 minutes trying to arrange these croissants while nightmare flashbacks of Mrs. Engel's 10th grade geometry class kept popping into my head. I was going back and forth between the food on the counter and the laptop with recipe on the table, hoping that if I read it one more time it would make sense. It never really did but after I played around with the little geometric figures long enough, I finally figured it out - I think. Only Betty Crocker could say for sure or a kid, I guess.

Strike three was when I was trying to crush the Doritos to make the crumbs for the topping. This is the second recipe I've tried from Betty Crocker where you're supposed to use chips in place of bread crumbs. I have struck out both times. I chose a very poor method for crushing the chips. I put them in a plastic container and started crushing them with the end of a spatula. Not my best move. My brain was telling me to put them in a ziploc bag and crush them that way, but I was being lazy. Not only did my method not get the chips small enough to use as bread crubms, with every other whack of the end of the spatula, pieces of chips went flying everywhere. Not that I didn't enjoy eating the crumbs that flew onto the counter. Okay, who am I kidding. I was eating the Doritos whole out of the bag too. Not only were the chips not small enough to serve as bread crumbs, the container wasn't big enough to roll the croissants in the chips. I guess that was strike four?

Four strikes and I'm out. Needless to say, they weren't very good! The chips were pointless and had no flavor, adding the milk to the croissants for dipping purposes took away the flaky goodness of the croissants. No thumbs up on this recipe and no more attempts from me to use potato chips as breading.

As for the fries, an hour and a half later, they actually turned out good using this recipe. That being said, I had to use a knife far too big for my comfort zone. I'm not very good with knives, especially big ones and I fear that some day I will lose a finger). I could have done without the hot oil popping and burning on my hands and arms. And most importantly, they just took way too long (much longer than the recipe indicated, I might add). Unless I get a deep fryer, I will either be baking fries or just buying them pre-made from this point on.

You win some you lose some I guess and tonight was a big loss!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What's your sign?

No, not that kind of sign (I'm a Leo, by the way). I am talking about street signs and I have seen some pretty random ones in the three years I've been commuting around the city of Cleveland. The sign that I have seen throughout the last week, placed on the busy highway I take home from work, takes the cake as the most random sign ever. It's a big orange sign located right before you drive under and overpass with the message,  "Clean Water Falling."

Ideally this is the kind of sign you would like to see in an art gallery where you can stand there, stare at it, back up, tilt your head to the side and stare at it again trying to analyze what the heck it could possibly mean. Unfortunately, when you see this sign right as you're coming around a sharp curve (known as Dead Man's Curve) and trying to slow down from 60 MPH to 35, you don't really have time for this sort of analysis. Instead, I found myself frantically trying to close the sunroof on my car so that this so called clean falling water wouldn't drip right into my car.

By the time my sunroof actually closed I was already past the overpass anyway so my attempt was pretty much an accident hazard and pointless. Lucky for me, I didn't get in an accident and there was no water (clean or dirty) falling from the overpass as the sign claimed. I have seen this sign several times over the last week and still am yet to spot any water dripping. Maybe it's just a test to see if anyone takes the warning seriously and closes their sunroof. If that's the case, I guess I win (except for the fact that it didn't close in time, so I guess I lose?).

At the risk of offending people, I have to share another random sign that exists down the street from our house. The sign is yellow and reads: "DEAF PERSON." Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with warning drivers of people in the area with disabilities. I think it's great. The problem I have is with the method being used to spread this message. A sign posted on a telephone pole near the street, not associated with any particular house or driveway really does nothing for me but cause anxiety. Maybe that's the point, to make people anxious and more aware of their surroundings so that in turn they will be more careful. But my anxiety is not going to keep this deaf person any safer. If I see someone in the road, my immediate reaction will still be to honk my horn, regardless of the fact that there's a chance the person might be deaf and won't hear it. Plus, there's no way to know the person is deaf anyway. The only way this sign could possibly be effective is if the deaf person were actually wearing it. I'm not advocating this, by the way, just making a statement about effectiveness.

There is a similar sign in Lakewood only this yellow sign reads: "BLIND PERSON." Now this sign might be a little bit more helpful because there are a few things I can look for like a seeing eye dog and a walking stick and I know that honking my horn will send the appropriate warning.

But seriously, are there people out there who see these signs and actually think, "Well, normally I wouldn't be mindful of people (or children) in the road but given the fact that they might be deaf or blind, I probably should watch out for pedestrians." Isn't the goal to ALWAYS watch out for pedestrians? I don't know about you, but personally I avoid hitting anyone (or anything) with my car at all costs, regardless of whether or not they can see or hear.

What crazy street signs have you seen?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Selective Hearing

We're all guilty of it at some point or another - not always being the best listeners. One of the areas we focused on in communication studies is the art of listening. Some people might assume that listening and hearing are the same thing, but this is incorrect.

Hearing refers to the physical act of sound entering your ears and doesn't require any action on your part whatsoever. Listening, however, refers to the act of taking the sounds that you hear and breaking them down so that you process and understand what you are hearing. Listening is something you must consciously do when you hear sounds.

Why do I bring this up, you ask? There are certain times of year when Pat and I really struggle with our communication. It usually starts in late August/early September and lasts until the end of February. No, Pat doesn't develop ear infections during the winter months, hindering his ability to "hear." I'm referring to his inability to "listen" to me during football games.

As our 6th football season is officially underway, I am well aware of this reality. And honestly, I've accepted it, for the most part. Of course my preference would be for him (and everyone else in this world) to listen to me 100% of the time, but I understand how unrealistic this is. I have developed some workarounds, however, to allow me to get Pat's attention, even during football season.

One strategy I've come up with is to limit my conversations with him to commercials only. This method has proven to be moderately effective as it has serious limitations, depending on how many football games are on at one time. The odds of all the games on various programs going to commercials at once on let's say, a Saturday or Sunday, aren't good. Therefore, you must understand that there may never be that "commercial break" that you're waiting for because as soon as one game goes to commercial, they flip to another game. If commercial break conversations are the route you choose, Monday nights are great because there is only one game on. Perhaps you can hold your Saturday/Sunday comments to Monday night?

If you don't really need to talk to your significant other during a football game but rather would just enjoy the act of engaging in a conversation with them, no matter the topic, this next strategy is for you. Talk their language. Talk about football. Better yet, talk about the football game at hand. Ask them questions, get engaged.

This is the strategy I tried tonight. I was only half paying attention to the game on TV when there was a fumble in the end zone. For whatever reason, I sincerely wanted to know which team recovered the fumble to score the touchdown. I couldn't tell which team was which based on the colors of their uniforms, a fact that I am not ashamed of at all, by the way. I asked Pat which team scored and waited for a response. I got nothing. I asked again. Still, nothing. Finally, I raised my voice. Not in a "I'm yelling at you because I'm mad" kind of voice raising, but rather a "You obviously can't hear me so I'm going to ask louder" kind of way. This is not something they necessarily promote in communication studies but something I sometimes have to resort to and it worked. Finally he listened to me but acted as if it were the first time he had heard the question.

Of course he heard me. I was sitting right next to him on the couch. He cleans his ears every day and is by no means hearing impaired. Even though I did ask this question while the game was still in play, I assumed that since I was asking a question about football and the current game he was watching, that I would most certainly get a response. I have to admit, I was quite surprised when I didn't.

This brings me to my final strategy. Don't attempt to talk to them at all while they're watching football because no strategy really works.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My porcelain revelation

I have always given Pat a really hard time about how long he spends in the bathroom. Whenever he disappears for a half an hour (or more) I always know exactly where he is. I've asked him a lot of questions about why he (and most other men I've ever met) is in there so long. It's so foreign to me because I (and most women I know) am very quick in the bathroom. Get in and get out and get on with your day. That's the way I've always looked at it. Pat explained to me once that just because he's in the bathroom for a half an our (or more), doesn't mean that he's actually "taking care of business" the entire time. Once his business is done, he continues to read whatever magazine or newspaper he picked up. Seemed so foreign to me at the time. Why would you actually stay in there longer than you have to?

It seemed foreign to me until today, when I had a porcelain revelation. When I went to the bathroom, I decided to pick up a magazine that came a month or two ago that I've never read (one of the MANY magazines that comes and never gets opened, it's a shame). The magazine is Woman'sDay and I've been receiving it for maybe a year now. Funny thing is, I have no idea where it comes from. Of course I know where it comes from, it comes from Woman'sDay headquarters somewhere. What I mean is, I have no idea who ordered it for me! It just started appearing at my house one day and no one ever mentioned ordering it for me. Initially, I started doing some investigating, asking around to see if other people were receiving it too. My mom wasn't, my sister was and my step-mom was so I assumed it was my Grandma's doing. Good thing I'm not a detective because I have never closed the case. All this time has gone by and I'm pretty sure I've never even asked my Grandma whether or not she signed me up for it and I'm certain I've never thanked her for it if she has. Just another one of those things I will do "eventually."

Anyway, I decided to pick up September's issues of Woman'sDay and see if there was anything interesting going on in there. The issues I've read previously always had a lot of good information and this one didn't disappointment me either. Lots of useful information about getting organized, a few new recipe ideas, both of which were right up my alley and even some unique kids lunch ideas for those picky kid eaters, which wouldn't seem useful since I don't have kids but I am a picky eater and I do pack my lunch every day so even that article was interesting. The point is, and I do have one, or at least I thought I did when I started writing this blog, is that it dawned on me today that maybe Pat is the one who has it all figured out. I thought I was so smart for trying to be more efficient and getting in and out of the bathroom, but maybe Pat's the smart one (maybe). Maybe taking some QT each day to sit down, read a magazine or a newspaper, etc. is much better for you than getting in and out quickly to move on to the next busy task item on the list.

I found my experience today to be a very informative and relaxing trip to the bathroom. I'm not saying that I wish to stay in the bathroom for long periods of time every day, but what I am saying is that I should be taking a little bit more time each day to slow down and read a little. After all, someone paid for me to get this magazine (even though I don't know who), the least I can do is actually read the thing!

Hope all this bathroom talk didn't gross you out. I've always been someone who talks so freely (too freely you might argue) about these topics that sometimes I forget that not everyone does. Can I pull the "it's my blog and I'll do what I want" card? But seriously, I don't want to offend either of the two people who actually read this, so if I did, I apologize. :)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

You want me to go WHERE?

I always feel bad in the morning when it's time for us to go to work and put Grady in his crate. From the time we got Grady last July until the first heavy snow in late December, I walked him every morning before work, rain or shine. It made it so much easier leaving him for the day knowing he had a chance to release some of his energy.

By the time spring came, I had a new job, an earlier start time and a longer commute. Excuses, excuses, I know. Needless to say, the morning walks haven't continued since then.

I know it would do Grady and I both some good if I started that morning routine again. And if I got up at 6 instead of 6:30, I could make it happen pretty easily. I guess I'm putting this out there as a way to motivate me to actually do it. I'm trying to hold myself accountable and thought maybe putting it in writing, for all to see, would help. 

In the meantime, this is what I deal with each and every morning when it's time for Grady to go in his crate. As soon as he sees me getting one of his treats, he goes into this submissive mode. Actually, he does it every time we walk by him in the morning.

It's very hard to get a 60 lbs. dog up off the ground when they're in this submissive position. Sometimes I have to drag him by his collar just to get him moving. Not to mention the fact that he just looks so darn cute and it makes it that much harder to put him in the crate.

I have a routine and I give him his nylabone and a treat each morning and say "Good crate, Grady. Here's your bone and your treat." He refuses to eat the treat until I leave the room (no matter how long I'm in there). Maybe he thinks if by chance I change my mind that I would only take him out of the crate if he didn't eat the treat? Who knows what goes on in that brain of his. If I did, I would have a lot more underwear and socks and a lot less to blog about.

Get in the kitchen and make me some: Creamy Chicken ‘n Loaded Potatoes

Whip up an easy skillet dinner with a hearty combo of chicken, potatoes and veggies.
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Total Time: 45 min
Makes: 4 servings
1 box (4.5 oz) Betty Crocker® loaded baked potatoes
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 3/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon dried basil, if desired
2 cups cooked cubed chicken
2 cups Green Giant® Valley Fresh Steamers™ frozen mixed vegetables

Print these coupons...

About Concordance™

1. In 10-inch nonstick skillet, stir sauce mix, water, milk and butter with whisk until blended. Stir in potatoes and basil.
2. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in chicken and vegetables. Cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender.


This was a really easy meal to make! I didn't have the chicken cooked when I started the meal, so while I was cooking the potatoes and sauce in one pan, I was cooking the chicken in the other. It worked out just fine and didn't add length to the cooking time of 40 minutes.

At first Pat said he really liked it but when I saw him dousing it with salt and pepper, I realized the meal might be lacking a little flavor. I'm not sure if it's something I did or if the recipe is just a little bland. I think part of the problem was the vegetables. Even though it doesn't say to thaw them, I think that would have helped not water the meal down and the vegetables would have been a little better cooked.

I guess with a few minor modifications, I would recommend this meal. It was very easy and tasted pretty good.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Come closer, I cannot see you

Grady in his favorite spot
Although there are so many things I can, and do, say about Grady's bad behaviors, he has some good qualities too. He is not really a "barker." Of course you'll hear the occasional barking when he sees people walking by the window, but we've been working really hard to correct this behavior because quite frankly, neither of us can stand it! But for the most part, you can leave him outside and he'll never make a sound or he'll sit in his favorite spot on the couch looking out the window, watching the "comings and goings" without making a peep.

Lately, though, that hasn't been the case. It all started last week, one morning before work, when Grady started barking like crazy outside. Pat went to see what he was barking at and was shocked to find Grady standing in our driveway, barking like a maniac at our neighbor, Denny. If you knew Denny and knew his relationship with Grady, you would find this just as shocking as we did. Denny loves Grady and Grady loves him! Every time Denny is outside he goes out of his way to give Grady lots and lots of attention. They have been buddies since the day we brought Grady home. If Denny is outside talking and Grady can hear him, he stands at the backdoor whining until we let him out. Denny was really surprised by Grady's barking, too, since I don't think Grady has ever barked at him before. He tried to analyze the situation, as did we, to figure out what was different. Denny thought maybe it was the items he had in his hands, Pat thought maybe it was because it was so early in the morning and Grady wasn't quite awake. It was all speculation, though, and only Grady could really know what made him treat his dear friend Denny like a complete stranger.

Yesterday morning, while I was trying to keep myself occupied until I could go to work, I decided to check the mail, even though I knew it hadn't come yet. While I was out there, I decided to walk around to the backyard and surprise Grady, who thought I was still inside the house. Yes, I expected to surprise him, but I was thinking it would be more of an exciting and happy surprise. It turns out I ended up being the one that was surprised when Grady started to bark at me like he had never seen me before in his life. He acted like I was a complete stranger in his driveway and he was trying to protect his owner in the house, which I appreciate. It wasn't until I started to talk to him and he recognized my voice that he finally figured out who I was. I had pretty much forgotten about the Denny incident up until this point. As I started walking closer to him, still puzzled by his behavior, it hit me what the problem is. He can't see out of his eyes!

While I find this look to be quite cute, maybe it isn't working out so well for Grady
Pat and I are constantly going back and forth about whether or not Grady can see out of his eyes when his hair gets long. I am always arguing that of course he can see out of his eyes with long hair, it's called adaptation. Pat is always arguing that he can't see and is going to run into things, etc. Well after the incident with Denny last week and the incident with me yesterday, I am convinced that Pat is right. The hair over Grady's eyes is definitely distorting his vision! This morning, when Grady was once again barking like a maniac in the driveway, was just another example of Grady's lack of accurate vision. I went outside expecting to see some person near our driveway or at the neighbor's house, but instead, I realized that Grady was barking hysterically at a trash can out on the curb.

Luckily, Grady has an appointment to be groomed on Saturday which will hopefully solve the problem. Pat and I have tried to trim the hair around his eyes ourselves but it's too hard. Grady isn't good at holding still and it makes us really nervous. The last thing we want is a pair of sharp scissors in his eyes, permanently blinding him and causing him to bark at the neighbor Denny, trash cans and even me, for the rest of his life!