Saturday, July 14, 2012

My mouth cheeks hurt

Picture from http://www.tagmagazine.com/user/Photo_Bigupload.aspx?pid=PIC0090611014049953&page=1
Me this morning
I woke up this morning looking like a chipmunk with its mouth full, but considerably less adorable.  The bare wire that goes across the gap where I'm missing a molar has gouged a thick crevasse in the inside of my right cheek and IT REALLY HURTS.  My mouth cheeks are sore.

I think I'm going to compile a list of foods and recipes for people with braces, mainly for my own reference, but also because there seems to be a paucity of similar lists out there.  Maybe my compilation will help someone else with braces eat a little more comfortably.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Glow.com GC winner!

Congratulations to Danielle, the winner of my Glow.com GC giveaway!

I also want to thank everyone who entered for their great suggestions: there were a lot of calls for me to post recipes.  I think I can handle that!  Your comments about the "most despised" current trends made me laugh.  It's nice to know I'm not the only one who thinks shortie-shorts, crop tops, and printed grandma slacks are fudiculous.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Berry crumble bars recipe

I will admit, I do like Martha Stewart.  She's a little prickly, but there's something about her I enjoy.  So, when I was looking for dessert recipes to use up some of the surplus berries we bought at the grocery store, I decided to try Martha's blackberry crumb bar recipe.  They're some of the best bars I've eaten, and naturally, I was thinking, "hey, that would make a good blog post!"

I made a half batch of these the first time and there was an enormous amount of topping, but I was ok with that; the second time I made them, I made a half recipe again but poured the batter into muffin cups and halved the amount of topping.  The muffins were better-received than the bars: my husband, who is a vehement sweets-disliker, ate two of them.  Unfortunately, I didn't think to take any pictures of the bars or the muffins, so you'll just have to imagine their berry-studded goodness.

Suggestion: omit the berries and add lots of cinnamon (and possibly nuts) to turn this into a traditional coffee cake.

Berry crumble bars
Serves 9, maybe more if you're stingy

Ingredients

Cake base:

3/4 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 c confectioner's sugar
1 stick of butter (we're doing it Paula Deen-style here)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 pint of berries (blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are good choices)

Topping:
6 T unsalted butter, melted
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 c flour


Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line bottom of an 8-in square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides.  The original recipe says to butter and flour the parchment paper, but that kinda defeats the paper's purpose.  The batter is very thick and sticky, though, so butter at your own discretion.

2. In a small bowl, combine topping ingredients.  Mix with a fork until large, moist crumbs form.  Refrigerate until ready to use (this ensures the topping will be firm and crumbly after baking; if you skip this step, the topping will be sticky and not quite as pretty, but still very tasty).

3. In a large bowl, beat butter, vanilla, and confectioner's sugar until light and fluffy; add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add dry ingredients and mix until a thick batter forms.  Spread batter evenly in pan; sprinkle with berries, pressing them down slightly.  Add the chilled topping.

4. Bake until golden brown and delicious and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake onto a work surface; cut into 16 squares.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Inspiration?


I'm pretty sure I need to get this shirt from Woot!  Apparently, the shirt's designer and I are both geniuses, though I think the t-shirt came out before my blog did.  To be fair, I started blogging in 2001, when I was a prickly youngster... though I guess that doesn't have anything to do with my current blog.  It was nice then, because not everyone on Earth had a blog.  Now, it seems the only way to get people to even give this blog a passing glance is to give away prizes.

UPDATE (7/9/12): I bought the shirt and it will be shipped on 7/18. *party horns*

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Cookie Monster coffee mug

funny food photos - Cookie Monster Mug

Someone on Facebook posted this image, so I had to track down its origin.  Turns out, the Etsy seller apiecebydenise sold the original version on May 1, 2011.  According to her Facebook page, she's supposed to be making and shipping more of them soon!  So, um.... if anyone wants to buy me a cup of coffee... or a coffee cup....

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Glow.com giveaway!

In my Farm Rich coupon giveaway, a lot of you suggested I run more giveaways.  Whether that was an honest response or not, I've decided to post another one here.

Last year, I signed up for an account with JustFab, one of the myriad "shoe clubs" out there.  I had nothing but problems since my first order, and the JustFab team decided to compensate me with a $20 gift card for Glow.com.  Since I don't wear makeup (yep, it's true), I would like to offer one of my readers the opportunity to use this gift card.  I did check to see that the code is still valid, so the winner shouldn't have any problem using it.

Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Now my outsides hurt as much as the insides

I had another adjustment yesterday, where they put in a square wire.  Anyone who has worn braces can tell you that this kind of change will make you look and feel like you went 10 rounds with Manny Pacquiao (I'm pretty sure I've used this metaphor once already, but it's just so fitting).  The square wire is used more for making adjustments to the roots of the teeth once they've been mostly straightened with the round wire.  It's about as thick as a paperclip, which makes it very conspicuous against the clear brackets.  My mouth hurts almost as much now as when I first got my braces in November 2011.

It only seems fitting, though, to make me hurt as much on the outside as I do on the inside.  Actually, I would much rather hurt on the outside -- I would take the exquisitely tender achiness of being newly braced, the immobilizing agony of herniated discs, and heck, the nausea-inducing, incapacitating dizziness of labyrinthitis, over the heartbreaking anguish of losing a pet.  In spite of everything, it was comforting to know that among my brother, mom, and I, we have almost 500 pictures and 3 videos of Cooper, and I was able to assemble a nice tribute to him in the form of a Shutterfly photo book.

Monday, June 25, 2012

My little buddy is gone

R.I.P. Cooper, 2003-2012
Last night, my Mom called to tell me that Cooper had died in her arms at about 7 PM.  He had been a healthy, if not rather overweight, miniature dachshund with big brown eyes and the softest, smoothest fur I've ever felt.  She said he had gotten sick after my brother's birthday party the previous evening, throwing up and peeing everywhere.  She stayed up with him all night and he seemed to be doing a little better in the morning, but that evening, he went to the Rainbow Bridge.  They're planning to have him cremated today or tomorrow, and it pains me that I will never get to see him again on this Earth, whole and intact.  The next time I go home, he will be nothing more than ashes in a box on the mantel: no dog will run to greet me when I walk through the door.

I will never again get to sit with Cooper outside in the morning; when I still lived at home, we would sit out on the back steps while I had my coffee and Cooper stood guard beside me.  I'll never get to touch his velvety ears or the soft patch of fur just before his nose, never get to look into those big brown eyes, never get to kiss him on his little blackberry nose.  I'll never get to hear him grumbling and ranting because he wasn't allowed outside while the lawn was being mowed (he sure loved to ride along on the riding mower, though!).  I'll never get to lint roll his fur off my shirt again.  Dachshunds are notoriously stubborn, but I taught him "sit" and "dance" and "go get it" and he wouldn't respond to the commands unless I gave them.  I was hoping that he would get to ramble around our new house and give his sniff of approval to everything; we don't close until next month.

I'm grateful that I was able to see him a little less than a month ago.  I visited my family around the end of May and when I left, I told Cooper, "Bye bye, puppy. Be good! I'll miss you."  That's the last memory I'll have of him.  Is it morbid to want to see his body at the vet?  To see him one last time in the flesh, even if it's cold and lifeless, before he is gone forever?  My Mom said he died with a smile on his face, a smile I've seen thousands of times but only remains in pictures.  All I have left are pictures, memories, and paw prints all over my heart.

I love you, little guy.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Single-serving coffee cake

I like my sweets, but it's a rare day when my husband asks, "What's for dessert?".  So, I've had to resort to figuring out single-serving sweets.  A half batch of Tollhouse cookies is a good option, since the dough can be rolled into balls and frozen for consumption at a later date, but I want variety.  I found a website with some recipes for single-serving cakes and was intrigued. After making a couple of her recipes, I decided I would share with you my adaptation of her single-serving coffee cake.  It looks complicated, but isn't too time-consuming, and if you play your cards right, you'll only dirty up a custard cup, a shot glass, and two measuring spoons.  The flavor of this cake is not remarkable or award-winningly good, but it hits the spot when you're jonesing for a little bit of sweetness.  It's also nice for those days leading up to a grocery shopping trip, when you have no other food -- it's quick, easy, microwavable, and eggless.

Single-serving Coffee Cake
Serves 1, obviously

Ingredients
Cake:

3 T flour
1 heaping T brown sugar
A scant 1/4 tsp baking powder
A tiny sprinkling of salt
1 1/2 T water
1-2 tsp oil or applesauce

Topping:
2 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp powdered sugar
A few drops of water

Directions
1. In a Pyrex custard cup, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix well to combine.  Add water and oil and mix thoroughly.
2. In another small vessel (I used a shot glass), combine brown sugar and cinnamon.  Scoop about half the batter out of the custard cup, sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar over the portion in the bowl, and drop the batter back into the bowl.  Sprinkle the rest of the cinnamon sugar on top.
3. Microwave the coffee cake for 45-60 seconds, or until set.  In the container used for the brown sugar, mix powdered sugar with just enough water to make a thin drizzle and pour over the top of the cake.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Farm Rich review and giveaway!


Overview

Have you ever been totally overwhelmed, so much that you barely have time to eat?  If you answered "yes", you need to check out the Farm Rich line of products.  With everything from meatballs to Philly cheese steaks, they have plenty of quick and tasty items to fit into a hectic life.

Farm Rich is a Buffalo, New York-based company that offers a bevy of easy-to-prepare snack foods, including:
  • Cheese Sticks
  • Marinara Stuffed Mozzarella Sticks
  • Mozzarella Bites
  • Mini Stuffed Pizza Slices
  • Mini Philly Cheese Steaks
  • Stuffed Pretzel Bites
  • Mini Quesadillas
  • Mini Bacon Cheeseburgers
  • Stuffed JalapeƱo Peppers
  • Meatballs (Turkey, Original and Italian Style)
  • Mushrooms
  • French Toast Sticks

Everything from Farm Rich is made with ingredients like 100% real mozzarella cheese and high-quality meats, and contain no high fructose corn syrup, fillers, artificial flavors, or other questionable components.  Not only are they quick and easy, they're pretty darned good!

Review

I was sent a couple of coupons to try out some Farm Rich products.  The stores around here tend not to have the greatest selection, so my husband and I ended up making two stops.  First, we went to Target and picked up a bag of the Original Meatballs.  Second, we went to the local grocery store and got the Mini Pizza Slices.  The grocery store here is really picky about what coupons they will accept: on my first trip through the check lane, the cashier told me they wouldn't accept the free product coupon unless I bought an additional $10 worth of merchandise!  After explaining to the lady at the customer service desk that I was getting the products so I could write a blog review, she let me get the bag of pizza slices.


We made the pizza slices first, since we were hungry and the meatballs took a lot longer to cook.  The slices are a pretty decent size -- not so small that you have to eat the whole bag to be satisfied, but not so big that you recoil at the thought of what they're doing to your waistline.  These baked up pretty quickly, in about 12 minutes.  According to the Farm Rich press kit, their dough-based products are baked, not fried.  A four-piece serving of these pizza slices has 250 calories, 12g fat, 5g saturated fat, and 470mg sodium.  They are a little sparse on the pepperoni, but still a very good snack, especially when served with a side of marinara.  I'd say these are perfect for when you're craving pizza, but want a considerably lighter alternative.  They cook fast in the microwave, too, if you're really in a hurry (they'll be floppy and extraordinarily hot, but still very tasty).


Next on the menu was the meatballs.  The package directions say they take 35-40 minutes to bake in the oven, so they're not really a quick option (though microwaving them takes about a minute).  I cooked them according to the directions, but they ended up being dried out and hard -- not sure what happened.  Since they were dessicated, I made a sauce out of leftover grape jelly and BBQ sauce (something my Dad always makes for the Lil Smokies on New Year's Eve) and they were ok.  The next day, I made a few in the microwave and they were a lot better -- one of the few times something tasted better microwaved than baked!  The flavor of these meatballs is outstanding for something prepackaged.  For a 6 meatball serving, you'll take in 240 calories, 20g fat, 8g saturated fat, and 400mg sodium.

Pizza slices ready to go in the oven
Tasty meatballs!

Overall, I was delighted with my first Farm Rich experience, and my husband enjoyed having snacks that we don't typically buy.  I wish our grocery store carried a wider variety of Farm Rich products (see what your stores carry), but I liked what I was able to find.  In fact, I liked them so much, I want to offer two of my lovely readers (and people who just stop by to enter contests) each a coupon for a free Farm Rich product.


Giveaway

Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Contest ends Friday, June 29th.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Coffee mug swap!


Last month, I decided to participate in the Coffee Mug Swap hosted on a blog that has since been renamed he, me & them.  I got paired up with the lovely Kayla from Close Encounters, a fellow dachshund-lover and all-around fun artistic gal.  I sent her this "Stubborn Dachshund Tricks" mug, which I thought was so cute I got one for my mom too.

Kayla sent me a mug with this design on it:

I'd take a picture of the actual mug, but my camera has decided to misbehave.  Needless to say, this mug is pretty awesome (and true, because I do spend a majority of my time being fantastic).  Thanks, Kayla!!

I would probably consider doing something like this again, but coffee mugs are pretty expensive.  However, it's a REALLY good way to get you to read someone's blog -- how else would you find out what the perfect mug would be?

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The demented zebra triangle affair

At my most recent adjustment, I had the brackets on my upper premolars removed and repositioned to persuade them to continue derotating. I also got a powerchain on the uppers again, which is also supposed to help. The combination of the repositioned brackets, the stronger wire, and the powerchain made my mouth hurt like I went 10 rounds with Manny Pacquiao without a mouthguard. The worst part of the entire ordeal?  The little baggies of 3/16" elastics emblazoned with a demented-looking zebra.  I have to wear them in a triangle configuration to help close the open bite I developed on the right side of my mouth.

So, now I have about 1/8" inch of wire that needs to be trimmed because it's tearing the bejeebus out of my cheek (either my teeth are moving fast, or the ortho assistant jammed the wires into the molar tubes haphazardly).  Getting an emergency appointment at my ortho's office is, pardon the pun, like pulling teeth.  They only work at that particular location on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday mornings, and apparently were closed yesterday (or took an extremely long lunch break).

In the extremely unlikely event I have kids and they need braces, I will make sure they get them right away.  It's pretty demoralizing to be an adult wearing these things.  Everyone says, "Oh, I didn't even notice them!" but seriously, it's pretty hard to miss the huge, gleaming mass of metal inside my mouth.  The ceramic brackets on my upper teeth are supposed to be nigh-on invisible, but the wire sure isn't.  From the side, the ceramic brackets just look like I have hugely dirty, deformed teeth -- and yes, I have gotten weird looks from people because of this.  Overall, I'm glad my teeth will eventually be "nice", but I would have never done this voluntarily.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Free Schick Hydro Silk Razor


I'm a "Schick Hydro Silk Influencer", which means I get to give away 6 razors. Just click here to sign up.



From the product page...
It's specifically designed for women and goes beyond the basics to deliver a shaving experience that hydrates skin like no other razor.

Benefits of the Schick Hydro Silk Razor:
  • A special water-activated Moisturizing Serum hydrates to replenish skin’s natural moisture throughout each shave. It's infused with nourishing marine extracts and rich shea butter.
  • 5 Curve Sensing Blades deliver an incredibly close shave for silky smooth skin.
  • Skin Guards are added to each blade, doubling the points of contact between the blades and the skin. The blades and Skin Guards work together to smooth your skin as you shave and to reduce irritation.
  • The Compact Oval Cartridge is designed exclusively for the contours and curves of a woman's body including those hard to reach places. (I'm not sure I want to know what those places are -- upper back?)
  • Aqueous Soft Touch Handle is ergonomic by design with a soft rubber grip and is inspired by water for a beautiful look. The patent-pending duck bill feature enables the razor to be placed on a flat surface while holding the cartridge head away from that surface.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Getting adjusted again

Last Wednesday, I had my fourth orthodontic adjustment. You may have noticed (but probably not) that I didn't write about the third one; all it involved was a very routine changing out of the ligatures and power chain. This time, I got new wires AND no power chain.

My teeth are moving pretty fast, considering I'm an adult. The orthodontist was even surprised at how much my premolars had rotated. He originally estimated 3-4 months before anything noticeable would happen, but one of the teeth was almost completely rotated after a month. The other one is moving more slowly because the bracket was not placed in an "optimal position", which means the orthodontist will be removing and repositioning the bracket at my next appointment.

Unfortunately, I'm no longer able to eat on the right side of my mouth because they bridged the wire across the gap where I'm missing a molar in my bottom jaw. The orthodontist assistant who placed the new wires left about 3/8 inch of wire sticking out of the back end of the molar tube as a sort of failsafe, in case I eat a small boulder and bend the wire across the gap. There were wires poking out everywhere, and I had to go back two times since my last appointment to have them trimmed. Why leave the huge amount of overhang? Why not trim it and ask me to avoid chewing on that side of my mouth? They spend so much time caring for children, they treat me like one, as though I can't be trusted to follow their instructions. When I had my first adjustment, they marveled at how clean my teeth were. I brush my teeth after every meal, floss at night, use fluoride mouthwash, don't eat taffy and apples and any of the other "forbidden foods", don't open beer bottles with my teeth, etc.: everything they told me to do from the get-go. I understand the responsibility (and cost) of having braces, and I'm not one to take that sort of thing lightly.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

To quote Hillshire Farms, GO MEAT!

I was just looking through my Google Analytics account and found that the overwhelming majority of visits to my blog are from people searching for steak. Namely, steak that is medium rare. Someone also found my page by searching for Boston Proper MILFs and fuzzy slipper fetish, albeit not in the same search.

Search terms aside, what can I do to make my blog more engaging? How can I get you folks to come back time and time again?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Budget Fashionista is giving away free shoes!

The lovely Steph at Budget Fashionista is giving away a gift card to either ShoeDazzle or Just Fabulous! Check it out here: http://budgetfashionista1.blogspot.com/2012/03/giveaway-giveaway.html.

Not a member of any of the shoe clubs? Sign up below:I no longer will endorse Sole Society after the misdealing with their "Look of Love" contest; in fact, I would encourage you NOT to sign up with them. Of the three shoe clubs, Sole Society has some of the classiest-looking shoes, but their customer service is the pits. ShoeDazzle has a lot of crazy-high skyscraper heels that are totally impractical for real life, but their customer service is second to none. JustFab has a lot of "meh" shoes, a great selection of handbags, and good customer service. Maybe I'll write up a more extensive review of the shoe clubs at another time. Would anyone be interested in reading that?

Natural House Cleaning Products WINNER


Congratulations to Marija, the winner of the Natural House cleaning products giveaway! Thank you to everyone who entered -- it was great to see such a good turnout for this giveaway.

As an interesting aside, it looks like the most abhorred cleaning task is cleaning the bathroom: 19 commenters indicated this was their least favorite. Toilet-scrubbing was also unpopular. Personally, the only cleaning task I detest is unclogging the shower drain. Every time I see the giant Furby my husband pulls out of the drain, I want to hurl.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Natural House Cleaning Products REVIEW and GIVEAWAY



A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Natural House to review three of their new natural household cleaning products: Trashy, Sinky, and Flushy.

Natural House was founded by the Powers family in an effort to develop products that are ecofriendly, phosphate/APE-free, non-toxic, and biodegradable: something that plays nice with kids! While I don't have any children, I certainly do appreciate using products that aren't laden with harsh chemicals. Natural House products use "carefully selected non-pathogenic and non-toxic probiotic bacteria combined with natural, plant-based, biodegradable synergistic ingredients".

According to Natural House, their products are superior to those currently on the market for the following reasons:
  • Their products use an eco-friendly cleaning method of probiotics that create a beneficial, odor eating ecosystem to naturally drive out and digest odors at their source.
  • Natural House's plant-based ingredients are eco-friendly, non-toxic and biodegradable to naturally fight the toughest problems you face in your house.
  • Sinky and Flushy even break down and digest fats, oil, grease, and solid waste to ensure your disposal, pipes, drain lines or septic tank run smoothly.
  • Their cleaners contain good probiotics which continue to scour, clean, consume odors, grime, grease, and germs, and they continue to do so until your next weekly treatment!
  • They earned the coveted Retailers' Choice Award at the 2011 National Hardware Show!
Check out this cute video of how Natural House's products work:

Review

As soon as I received my box of Natural House cleaning products in the mail, I knew I wanted to test out Flushy.

We have very hard water with a high iron content, so our toilet tends to get some rusty discoloration in the bowl. Since we live in an apartment, there's no telling what has made its way through the pipes over time -- with every flush, the toilet makes a gross gurgling sound. I had used Seventh Generation's toilet bowl cleaner, to little success. It left me having to scrub the bowl several times a week to keep it clean, and I really didn't want to have to do that. The Works was super effective, but it contains 20% hydrochloric acid, and every time I use it I'm afraid I'll miss some droplets and end up burning my butt. Natural House's Flushy was awesome: I dropped one citrus-scented tablet into the bowl and waited about 15 seconds for the foaming action to start, and was rewarded with a bubbling blue bowl of fizzy probiotic cleanser. I scrubbed the bowl with the toilet brush, flushed, and voila: the toilet was cleaner than I've ever seen! Plus, the gross gurgling sound went away.

Next, I tried Sinky. Again, since we live in an apartment, our garbage disposal is not in the greatest condition and doesn't seem to do its job very well. I can run the thing for 5 minutes and still find bits and pieces of produce just inside the drain. We don't tend to put anything big in the disposal (though my husband did recently stuff 4 entire celery stalks in it because they were withered and buggy, and he enjoyed watching the celery spin around before it went down the drain). It just doesn't work very well. My first experience with Sinky was disappointing, since I couldn't tell if it had started foaming before I turned on the disposal. I tried again a week later with a slightly different tactic -- instead of dropping the tablet into the drain, I set it on the flaps that partially obscure the drain and drizzled hot water over it. The tablet began foaming, so I turned the water up and the disposal on, and Sinky did its thing. The sink doesn't stink any more!

Finally, I tried Trashy. Since there are only two of us, it takes us a while to fill up the kitchen trash. Instead of putting organic items directly into the trash, where they will rot and stink, we put them in empty waxed milk cartons. So, our trash rarely has too much of an odor. I tried spraying Trashy in one of the milk cartons, but it couldn't handle the smell of chicken wings. However, Trashy does have a really nice wintergreen scent, so I could see how it would work well as masking and destroying other odors.

Giveaway

Want to try these products out for yourself? You can buy them directly from the Natural House website or via Amazon. Or, you can try your luck here! One winner will receive a 30-day supply of Natural House natural household cleaning products! Sorry, U.S. residents only. The giveaway items will be shipped directly to the winner from Natural House.

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Mandatory entry: tell me what your least favorite cleaning task is!

Friday, March 02, 2012

Is that all I'm good for?

When I was at the orthodontist's office getting my teeth tortured the other day, the woman who was changing my ligatures asked if my husband and I had any kids. The week before that, my husband and I were in a locally-owned music store that he had frequented for years, when the owner's daughter asked if we "had any bambinos yet". At a party, a friend's sister-in-law, who I had just met that evening, asked if we had any babies. One time, at the hair salon where my husband and I both get our hairs cut, the stylist remarked, "Wow, you both have such thick hair. I can't wait to see what your kids will have!" Hell, even Target thinks I'm preggo, with all the "Stock up on baby clothes. You're gonna need 'em!" emails I've been getting from them.

We've been married for a year and a half, yet everyone assumes that I should have been squeezing out babies left and right all this time. Why? Should it my only goal in life to bear children? Is that all I'm good for?

Ironically enough, my husband and I regularly talk about how much we DON'T want to have kids. Neither of us sees any point in bringing more children into the world. Yes, it may be our biological prerogative to spawn (if there's one thing I learned while getting a biology degree, it's that the meaning of life is to reproduce), but the only way that's going to happen is by accident. As difficult as it may be for people to accept, not all women want to bear children.

Now, that doesn't mean I won't congratulate my friends when they are expecting. It doesn't mean I won't share in your jubilation, nor does it mean I won't come to your baby shower and help you cut the cake. It simply means that I have no interest in getting knocked up. So, please stop asking.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!


Last month, I decided to participate in the Valentine's Day blog swap hosted by Fabulous But Evil. I got paired up with Christine from Little Me as Mrs. B. We corresponded via email a few times before sending each other our respective surprises.


I got a box in the mail last week:



Inside it was a bunch of neat stuff:



  • A wreath that's repinnable to hold decorations for any holiday
  • Hot pink nail polish
  • A bag of SweeTarts
  • Red, pink, and black argyle socks
  • Valentine's Day tissues
  • A reusable tote with a cute retro theme

Looking at some of the posts from other people participating in the blog swap, I guess I didn't do a very good job picking out items to send to Christine. I got her a pretzel tower from Dylan's Candy Bar, as well as two pairs of earrings and a small bottle of Bath and Body Works' Sea Island Cotton hand lotion. It's not really Valentine's-themed, but I tried. :( I really enjoyed participating in this swap and hope to do so again in the future.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

If you truncate these words, I will abbreviate your face

FYI: If you say any of the following "words" in my presence, you will not be allowed to speak to me again. I understand that with text messaging, one might need to abbreviate words to economize space. Also, I realize language is an ever-changing entity. However, truncating words is not ironic, funny, or cute: it makes you sound lazy and stupid.

Without further ado:

  • "totes" (unless you are actually referring to totes)
  • "adorbs" (no, no, no, no, NO. Please, for the love of all that is holy and sacred, please do not say this around me or anyone, ever.)
  • "suey" (as a truncation of "suicide"; hog-calls are ok)
  • "unfortch"
  • "whatevs"
  • "deets"get it? she TOTES JELLY
  • "haps" or "the haps" (sounds like a disease... "dude, I got the haps from that girl I met at your party!")
  • "awk"
  • "bestie" (not me, if I catch you talking like that)
  • "vacay"
  • "cray" (because it's too hard to add the "z")
  • "fab" (hey, why not throw an "oo" on the end and pretend you're Wakko from "The Animaniacs"?)
  • "natch" (I know this is an old one, but it still sounds dumb)
  • "presh" (Gollum wasn't looking for his "presh", was he? NO.)
  • "offish" (it's a truncation of "official")
  • "cazh" (an abbreviation of "casual")
  • "ridic"
  • "jelly" (unless you're talking about the stuff you smear on toast)
  • "gorge" (a bastardization of "gorgeous")
  • "uzh" (because "usual" is just too long)
  • "vag" (come on, there are tons of slang words for the female genitalia, and this is the best you can do?)
  • "obvi"


Words that are marginally more acceptable and will not cause me to fly into a blind rage:
  • "legit" (only if you're MC Hammer)
  • "yum" (it's an onomatopoeia, and I like onomatopoeia)
  • "hubby" (I have never referred to my husband as such, but "hubby" isn't the worst thing I could call him)
  • "cami" (most people who use this word probably can't even spell "camisole", though)
  • "prolly"
  • "comfy"
  • "convo"
  • "noob"
  • "peeps"

Friday, February 03, 2012

REVIEW: BrytonPick - FLOSS in Seconds




Yes, those are my teeth!


Last month, I was contacted by the makers of the BrytonPick to do a review of their product. Having spent a considerable amount of time on my oral hygiene since I got braced in November 2011, I was excited to try a new dental product. Yes, that's what gets me excited these days.

According to the insert that came with my BrytonPick samples, "only 12% of the population flosses regularly" because "there is rarely time or a proper place to floss after meals." This doesn't hold true for me, since I am fastidious about keeping my teeth clean at all times, but I would imagine those of us not sporting the tin grin would be stymied by the lack of available flossing areas.

To remedy this problem, the BrytonPick was developed. It's a novel interdental cleaning tool made in the US from recyclable materials: the handle is plastic and the cleaning strips are stainless steel. They come in an assortment of snazzy colors and fit into a small carrying case that slips easily into your wallet, purse, belly bag, or other carrying device. The stainless steel cleaning strips are germ-resistant, allowing the BrytonPick to be reused for up to 30 days.

I first tried using the BrytonPick after eating a salad. I still eat salads, even though it makes me look like I did a faceplant into an herb garden. Although the video below makes it look easy to slip the stainless steel end of the BrytonPick between the teeth, I struggled with it every time. The power chain on my upper teeth has made the contacts extremely tight, and the only thing that fits between some of them is dental tape. I was able to slide the BrytonPick between the tightest contacts, but it took a lot of effort. Slipping the BrytonPick between my molars was almost impossible.


How to use the BrytonPick with braces


It was interesting to see how much food debris the BrytonPick removed from between my teeth, even after I brushed. Because of the braces, I brush my teeth after every meal or non-water beverage, and save the flossing for evening. Since the BrytonPick still scraped out some food debris, I wonder how this product would work for someone who doesn't brush or floss regularly (*cough*mybrother*cough*).

Overall, I would recommend the BrytonPick with some reservations. While it does work with braces, I found it to be just as time-consuming as using regular floss -- at least until my teeth are a little straighter. If you're a tinsel-mouth in the later stages of treatment, the BrytonPick would probably work well for you. For those of you lucky enough to have "normal" teeth, you'll have better success with this product.

If you want to check them out for yourself, visit http://www.BrytonPick.com or check them out on Facebook. For a limited time, you can get a sample pack of BrytonPicks for the cost of shipping and handling.


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Adventures in orthodontia

Yesterday, I had my second adjustment. The orthodontist was practically giddy to see how much my fang had moved! In the two months I've been braced, that canine has moved into line with the rest of my teeth, and you'd never be able to tell that I had dealt with a malpositioned tooth for more than half my life. That tooth's companion on the right side looks out of place now, since it is rotated about 20 degrees. It used to be the "normal" one -- I assumed it was what the fang was supposed to look like had it not erupted in the wrong spot.

Now, here comes the fun part. In order to derotate my maxillary first premolars, I have a power chain that goes from one of these molars to the other (in other words, it goes across all the top teeth that would be visible when I smile). It seems to make the ceramic brackets less conspicuous, which is nice, but I've read that clear power chains stain more easily than do regular ligatures. That's bad news for a habitual coffee-drinker like me, and I certainly don't want to have the thing changed every two weeks because it turned yellow. The orthodontist said I would probably have to wear the power chain for 3-4 months, which I'm assuming will cause me a fair amount of pain. *sigh*

Friday, January 20, 2012

Holiday party attire

This weekend, my work is having its annual holiday party. While everyone else celebrated during the month of December, for some reason, we're having our party a month late.

Here's what I'm planning to wear:


Evan Picone cowl-neck sweater dress
(except in solid black, not sparkly like this one)


Madden Girl "Lookah" pump in Champagne

Jewelry to be determined.....

It's not really the most exciting outfit, but it's for a work function. The dress is pretty basic and covers everything you're not supposed to show off around the office, while the shoes are just glitzy enough to add a little fun (they're WAY prettier in real life than in the pictures; the gems on the bow sparkle in pinks and greens). I'm not sure what sort of jewelry to wear with this outfit. I don't have any "statement necklaces", which would probably be perfect with the neckline. The cowl neck looks sad and droopy, so I pull it over my shoulders a little to give the dress a more elegant look. Anyone have any ideas for jewelry?

Friday, January 13, 2012

I ♥ Chobani

As you may know, I ♥ Chobani. I wrote about it here about a year ago and my feelings haven't changed one bit. It's the best yogurt out there, hands down. The mango flavor is out-of-this-world, and black cherry is a close runner-up. They recently introduced three new flavors: apple cinnamon, blood orange, and passion fruit. I think I will probably die from excitement when the grocery stores around here catch up with the modern world and finally start carrying the blood orange flavor.

Anyway, last month, I participated in a fun Chobani Twitter party and ended up winning a membership in the Chobani-of-the-Month club. Every month, I'm slated to receive a case of 12 yogurt cups. I just filled the fridge with my first shipment, which was delivered by a rather chagrined-looking UPS driver (he drops off packages here often enough that my husband teases me about having a brown-suited boyfriend on the side). Of course, it could be that the box was marked as weighing 29 lbs., or that I told him I would be getting one of these every month for the rest of the year. His reply to that was, "Congratulations, I guess." (that's not a picture of our driver; I just wanted something corny to put here. also, I found out it's not a good idea to Google "sexy UPS guy")

Now, our fridge contains 12 apple cinnamon Chobani yogurt cups. I can't wait to try this flavor! I had a mango Chobani for breakfast, and while I'm not opposed to eating multiple yogurts in a day, I... oh, what the heck, maybe I'll have one for lunch. They look so darned good sitting there, with their green and white lids staring back at me...

Summary: if you haven't tried Chobani, print out a coupon off their site and go buy yourself a container or three.

UPDATE: I ate a cup of this for lunch and have to say it's one of my new favorite flavors. It tastes like apple pie a la mode, without all the calories!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

An eye for an eye

This morning on Facebook, WCCO-TV posted an article titled "Man Pleads Guilty To Breaking Infant's Ribs", wherein the Beavis-esque perpetrator squeezed his 6-week old baby until it crunched. Yes, this guy is a sick bastard for doing so, but the comments people left in response to this article make me wonder what is running through their heads. It seems like the majority of the responses are calling for this creep to be flogged, drawn and quartered, crushed in a giant bearhug until his ribs crack, etc. The people who leave messages like that are just as psychopathic as the child-abuser in this case, except they are (hopefully) less likely to act on those base impulses. WCCO's Facebook page, as well as the mobile version of their site (not sure about the desktop version, since it frequently crashes Firefox on my computer), are overrun with the lowest echelon of human society, smarmy little worms who trash people on the Internet to make themselves feel big.

Here's a screencap of some of the first comments that appeared after the article was posted. Names have been spray-painted out and profile pictures have been changed to protect the identity of these mob-mentality ITGs (Internet Tough Guys), but all the comments are left as they were written:

Monday, January 09, 2012

Win big from Rafflecopter!

NOTE: Apparently, this doesn't work. Way to go, Rafflecopter. They're trying to promote their updated service and the widget is broken. If you still want to enter, you can do it directly from their blog post.


Rafflecopter is giving away a 16 GB iPad 2 to one lucky winner, as well as a Kindle Fire to whoever referred them. There will probably be 8 billion entries at the end of the contest, but it's worth a shot -- gotta be in it to win it!

Use the form below to enter. Under "Tell Us Who Referred You", put Erin @ Coffee Level Critical! If you win the iPad, I win a Kindle Fire for the referral.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, January 08, 2012

New favicon

In case you haven't noticed, my blog has a cute little coffee cup for a favicon. I made it myself, out of public domain icons and MS Paint.

Here's the up-close and personal version:

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Stuffed poblano peppers

A few weeks ago, while participating in the Chobani Twitter party, I was directed to the website chobanikitchen.com. If you're a yogurt-lover, these recipes will probably make you drool on yourself. If you're looking to sneak healthy ingredients into your meals without sacrificing flavor, this is a good place to look, too. One of the recipes listed is for seafood-stuffed poblano peppers. While I would unhesitatingly eat it as prepared, my husband is not keen on having so many fishy nibbles. I decided to use chorizo sausage instead. Really, there's nothing in common between the Chobani Kitchen recipe and the one I made, but it did serve as inspiration.

Stuffed poblano peppers
Serves 2

Ingredients
2 large poblano peppers, cleaned and dried
2 chorizo sausage links, casings removed and meat crumbled
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c. corn
1/2 c. salsa
1 6 oz. container of plain Greek yogurt, divided
1/2 tsp. cumin

Directions
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Make a T-shaped incision in the peppers and carefully pull out the core. Discard innards and set peppers aside.
2. Cook the sausage and drain the grease. Add the onions and garlic and cook until onions are slightly softened.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the sausage mixture with the salsa, corn, cumin, and half the yogurt. You can also add spicy stuff to the filling mixture, like ghost chili flakes.
4. Stuff the poblanos with the filling mixture. Place the peppers in a baking dish or on a lipped baking sheet and bake for 30-40 min., or until peppers are soft but not flaccid. Serve with Spanish rice and top with the remaining yogurt.

printPrint a recipe card

Monday, January 02, 2012

Brace yourself...

All right, I thought I'd have posted something sooner, but I'm just not that motivated to write on this blog. Maybe that should be my New Year's resolution, to write more.

Anyway.

I promised I'd be writing about some dental nightmares, and I certainly have a Stephen King-worthy amount of fodder. Without further ado...

On November 21, 2011, I got braces. Yes, I'm probably more than twice the age of any of the orthodontist's other patients, but I got the metal torture devices adhered to my mouthparts just the same.

Admittedly, they were a long time coming. In my early teens, I had an ortho consult because one of my canines decided it would be fun to emerge through the gum above the baby tooth. I had a vampire fang. The baby tooth stayed in place until May 2011, when the gum around it got infected because I did something stupid involving brushing my teeth with the brush in my non-dominant hand while using the other to tweet about Osama bin Laden's death. I accidentally scraped the soft bristles across the junction between the baby tooth and the fang, which made it bleed, and a few days later, swell and throb. I had already had a baby molar removed a few months before that (read all the gory details here) because it had also gotten infected, that time from an attempt to clean my teeth with a dental scaler (I'd make a terrible dentist, since everyone I touched would probably have their teeth fall out independent of my work). Thankfully, the dentist who removed the molar remembered my hairy ordeal and gave me nitrous oxide so I wouldn't try to flee the country with my manky teeth. The baby tooth came out with little pain and a sound like a chicken bone being snapped in two.

How I lost my tooth


I endured the embarrassing hole in my smile until fall, when I went to the orthodontist for a consultation. Aside from moving my fang, I also have two molars will have to be rotated 180 degrees, as well as a couple teeth that just need some slight rotation (thankfully, my teeth appear straight to the casual observer... not that anyone would be doing more than just casually observing my mouth, but still). After a series of visits over a month and a half, I finally had my D-Day, 3 days before Thanksgiving. Yeah, that was stupid of me. The worst part about having the brackets bonded to my teeth was the fact they all went on simultaneously and the ham-fisted assistant attempted to pry the wax mold off my teeth by using my fang for leverage. Seriously, these ladies think they're being gentle, but they don't know jack about being nice to the mouth of an anxious ADULT patient. The dentist who gave me the referral form for the ortho even wrote "patient is very anxious", but that apparently means nothing to this guy's office.

My teeth hurt for a month solid. I lost 3 lbs. in a little less than 2 weeks because I could barely eat anything that didn't have the consistency of applesauce (I was hoping for better results from the braces diet, but having them on over the holidays isn't helping. I mean, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, and pie are all soft). The insides of my cheeks have been shredded from the hooks and overall roughness of the ceramic braces on the upper arch. I frequently wake up with a perfect imprint of my braces on the inside of my lips and cheeks, since I evidently suck my teeth while I'm sleeping. My molars haven't touched since November 20th. Even a month and a half after my bonding, I still have trouble eating a lot of foods -- even things like soft pretzels cause an uncomfortable pressure in my molars.

On the plus side, my fang has moved quite a distance. That's pretty much the only thing on the plus side, though. My teeth look pretty stupid right now, and my smile has morphed into something very Scarlett Johansson-esque (maybe I'm weird, but I HATE her smile. As an aside, I just spent the past hour looking at pictures I celebrities I resemble at MyHeritage.com.. apparently, I look a little like Calista Flockhart. And Portia DeRossi. And probably the rest of the cast of "Ally McBeal", who knows.). My husband doesn't treat me any differently since I became a metalmouth, and I've only gotten carded once. No one has called me names or made fun of me, though my father-in-law jokingly asked if he could call me "Tin Grin".

I suppose I should update this more often, since I feel like some readers might take a "tl;dr" approach when I post a novella like this.