Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much, but blogging is trippy.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Glitzy keychain

Recently on our podcast Grits to Glitz, Amy and I ran a little contest to name her new yellow car. Sabrina won the contest with her entry, "Daisy." Daisy! What a perfect name for a happy yellow car!

So we're sending her prizes, and this is my contribution. A hand-beaded keychain! I know Sabrina is so creative that she probably could have come up with something better herself, but what the heck -- if she can't use the keychain, she can always give it away as a holiday present.

Have fun with your glitzy keys, Sabrina! And congratulations again!

Our new contest is "Party Recipes," and we'll be asking listeners to vote for the yummiest dishes just in time for New Year's Eve parties and gatherings. I'm not sure what I'll be making for a prize -- probably an altered recipe box or a Rolodex -- but Amy always provides a genuine Las Vegas shotglass and a deck of cards. You can send your entries to Amy@gritstoglitz.com, Bay@gritstoglitz.com, or call our listener hotline (a voice mail box which records up to 5 minutes) at 206-424-4748. We love to hear from y'all!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Coffee technology rules!

I complained about television technology -- now let's turn our attention to technology that makes my heart go pitty-pat: Kitchen gadgets.

I could write about that knife that I want -- you know the one, they keep using it on Iron Chef and stuff doesn't stick to it because it has cute little convex dimples in it. I want one of those. And then there's the egg-poaching pot I want. I know, I know; if I were Martha Stewart, I could poach an egg in a pot of boiling water and vinegar. But I can't poach an egg like that. I've tried. It doesn't stay egg-shaped.

Ooo, or the vegetable steamer of my dreams, so I could steam a head of cauliflower and try the recipe that I saw on How Much Do We Love. I want a steamer. I want steamed broccoli. Why can't I have steamed broccoli and make my sister's sublime broccoli casserole/flan? Huh?

But no, these are not the little darlings that occupy my thoughts tonight. Nope. Tonight I'm in love with a coffee grinder.

It's no secret that I love coffee. I can't imagine what it would be like to give up caffeine and say no to coffee forever. I just don't understand that. I know some religions scorn coffee, and all I can think is -- a God who doesn't love coffee is a God who doesn't love mankind. God gave us coffee. Who are we to turn down this magnificent gift?

OK, OK, I just offended all my LDS readers, but really -- I don't know why anyone doesn't drink coffee. It's just crazy not to love it, isn't it?

So, anyway, I had a massive coffee crisis tonight. My grinder's lid disappeared. Coffee is best if you grind the beans freshly for each pot of coffee. That way, you get all the flavor and caffeine from fresh, greasy coffee beans. Mmmmmmmmm, mm! Well, without a lid, a coffee grinder will not work. It's like a food processor, and the lid has to lock into the grinder *just right* before it'll send the blades spinning to pulverize some coffee.

I spent a couple of hours tearing up the house in search of the old coffee grinder's lid. Bear in mind, this grinder has gotten me through some tough spots. It was grinding my beans when I still worked for the ad agency from hell. But even I knew it had seen better days.

Once I gave up on finding a lid, I knew I had to go purchase a new coffee grinder. So I went to Walmart -- and lo! And behold! Coffee grinding technology has joined the 21st century!

I am now the proud owner of a coffee grinder that not only grinds to different degrees of coarseness (thereby producing grinds big enough for Wesley's French press pot), but it also knows how long to grind depending on how much coffee I've put into it.

Dang! That thing is smarter than I am!

I love my new coffee grinder. I can't wait to drink my morning beverage now!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Leftovers

I just have one thing to ask about leftovers:

How does anyone ever have enough leftovers to make leftover turkey casserole?

Of course, I didn't roast my own turkey this year; I had to beg a few scraps from my MIL. But when I *do* roast my own turkey, I never have enough to make a casserole. I need my leftovers for more plates of near-Thanksgiving-like yumminess.

Why, this year, I had so much of Wesley's fabulous dressing and so little leftover turkey, I actually went to the store to buy a turkey breast. Except... they were all out! I had to settle for a roasted chicken from the deli. Hmph!!!

Still... that chicken was darned good. I made more green beans and horseradish glop; I made a half a pan of the usual Jello Thing, and I swear, my leftovers are so good, it's almost as if I had Thanksgiving here at the house.

Except... I am really craving a turkey sandwich... I guess I'll have to go buy someone's leftovers.

Anyone have a leftover turkey carcass I could purchase? I'll trade scrapbook supplies for breast meat....

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Kickin' off the hollerdays!

Ahhhhhhhh, Thanksgiving. I do love it so. Not my most favorite holiday of the year, but darned close to the top. And you can't argue that the food isn't divine. A traditional Thanksgiving menu is too fabulous to be repeated during the year. Say goodbye to your diet and enjoy!

Our Thanksgiving this year is bittersweet in many ways. Amy isn't coming home, so I'm not cooking the usual dinner. I always do Thanksgiving at my house. Well, I used to always do it here. Why? Because I'm picky. I'm just plain picky. There's no other way to put it. I like the menu that we've developed over the years, and I like the way I prepare it. I can cook a mean turkey. I've never once served a dry, tasteless turkey in my entire adulthood. Apparently, that's not an easy task, considering that many people I know can't manage to roast a juicy, yet fully-cooked turkey.

And just to hedge my bets, I always serve gravy with that well-roasted turkey.

To me, a Thanksgiving without gravy just isn't a civilized meal.

Aside from the bird, we always have Wesley's stuffing -- a divine concoction of cornbread and sausage -- green beans and horseradish sauce, mashed potatoes, Amy's sublime broccoli casserole, honey-baked ham, yeast rolls, a jello "salad" with cream cheese and pineapple, and for dessert -- Mama's pecan pie and a pumpkin pie for the kids.

Now, that's a meal.

And nobody else puts it together the way we do -- when we're all together.

If you go out, the chances are good that something is missing. Nobody does the horseradish thing for green beans. And let me tell you, it beats regular green bean casserole all to snot.

Two years ago, Amy moved to Las Vegas. She and her husband came home for that Thanksgiving, and we all opted to dine out. That was a huge mistake. The food was terrible! But the company was good.

Last year, the food was good -- with the notable exception that there was no broccoli casserole -- but I missed Amy so badly that it was just a horrible day.

I'm giving up this year. Amy's staying in Las Vegas again due to unavoidable work schedule conflicts. My poor, dear brother-in-law has to work so hard! Amy can't help it. She's staying there and dining at a Mandalay Bay restaurant. And I? Well, I will not repeat last year and try to do all that cooking for so few people.

We're going to my mother-in-law's house for Thanksgiving dinner.

I have, however, learned some lessons. I can't go two years without the *real* Thanksgiving menu, so I'll be trying to cook it for Christmas. Amy will be home for that holiday, and we'll be all together, and that's what really matters.

Sure, I'm a little worried. Christmas is by far my least favorite holiday, due entirely to the fact that it is hectic and chaotic and Wesley has a huge family that expects us to drop everything and go to their many houses five or six times during the two days that comprise that event. I wish Christmas were more like Thanksgiving, when I don't have to do anything except stay home and cook. For Christmas, you have to cook, clean, decorate, shop, wrap, cook some more, clean a lot more, answer the doorbell, and drive to Athens 18 times in two days.

My dream Christmas? Desert island.

With a cable modem.

At least I know I'll have one good holiday meal this year. I just need to wait a month to enjoy it.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Defining "hate"



When I was a little girl with long braids, Mr. Pelham used to tell me, "'Hate' means to want to kill or destroy."

I thought that he meant I shouldn't say I hate squash; I should reserve such a strong emotion for really horrible things like injustice and despotism. To be honest, I did hate squash. I still do. Summer gourds are an abomination on the people of the Earth.

But I tried to absorb his lesson, and sometimes I actually am able to reserve my strongest negative emotions for people like Osama Bin Laden and Hitler and for injustices like Tennessee's latest completely insane amendment to the state constitution which bans gay marriage.

Other times -- I still struggle with the whole thing.

Take, for example, my new TV.

I hate it.

Maybe I hate it because it's smarter than I am. Then again, maybe I hate it because it doesn't do what I think a television should do.

Whichever way you look at it, my new TV is not a loveable critter.

Unlike my old TV, which had a great, big screen and tube-like innards, this new TV has an LCD screen and is flat and skinny and easy to carry around. It isn't quite as big as the old TV, but then again, it's a widescreen TV. And I *love* widescreen. I do. The moment those letterbox black bars appeared on my old videotape of "The Colour Purple," I jumped up and shouted, "HOORAY!" Why? Because I love movies. And I always hated that movies were re-formatted to fit to standard near-square TV screens. I felt like I was missing a third of a movie if it were on broadcast TV. But with widescreen -- yummy! It looks just like it does in a cinema!

I've had this new TV for ten and a half days, ... and it has been the most reluctant piece of equipment I've ever purchased.

Seriously.

Now, I know I'm a big dingbat and everyone thinks I'm at least a little stuppid, but I'm actually not the dumbest person I know. For instance, I often fix things around the house. I have fixed broken toilets -- with multiple broken parts. I have installed major kitchen appliances without assistance. I can program a digital watch (as long as I have the instruction manual). I have even cracked open no fewer than six different computers just to put new hardware in.

I mean, I might seem like an idiot, but I'm really not as dumb as the publisher of O.J. Simpson's latest book.

That's why I'm absolutely livid over the state of technology today as it pertains to home entertainment. I've spent the last ten and a half days trying desperately to make this new TV work in my home. And I can't do it. I'm beaten. I've consulted the store from which I purchased the TV. I've called a cable technician to my home. I've bothered my sister and her husband -- who are busy, intelligent, *vital* members of their community -- far, far more than anyone should ever bother one's siblings and in-laws.

And at the end of all these ordeals, I have a large, expensive piece of useless junk sitting where my television is supposed to be.

My first mistake, as I understand it, was to allow an old television to die. That was my first misstep. I understood the old TV. Well, really, I should say that the old TV was hooked up satisfactorily and showed television programs in a fine manner, and furthermore, it looked great with a widescreen format DVD. If I had saved that old TV from its final doom, I could have saved myself ten and a half days of anguish and unhappiness.

My second mistake, as anyone can tell you, is being too poor to subscribe to HDTV cable. I have a digital cable box. I love my digital cable. It lets me find shows I want to watch in the future. It tells me what I'm watching now, and when that show will be on again. It even tells me what time it is and the date. Digital cable is the bomb, and once you get spoiled by it, you really can't go back to regular TV without the nifty info boxes.

But to subscribe to HDTV cable, I would have to cough up an additional $12.95 per month. I can't do that. I have needs. $13 buys a 24 cans of red kidney beans -- including tax. It buys two and a half gallons of milk. Why, thirteen dollars would buy five different tubes of glass beads from WalMart if you happen to be making a special bracelet for someone's Christmas present. I can't find another $13 in order to subscribe to HDTV -- I'm barely making the *regular* digital cable bill every month.

So my poverty means that instead of HDTV and the commensurate high-tech HDTV cable converter box, I have the crappy, archaic, outdated, old-fashioned digital cable box, which my brilliant brother-in-law tells me was being used when "The Honeymooners" was still a hot, new show. And that means that my TV programs will NEVER fill out the widescreen LCD screen of my new TV.

I accept that. I have to. I have no choice. My old TV died, and there's no sense in getting archaic technology. So I have a widescreen TV with HDTV capacity, but no way to make it look like HDTV. I was just hoping that someday the cost of the HDTV subscription would reduce itself and suddenly become affordable.

But that's not the reason that I have to give up and give in to my hatred of the new TV. Oh, no. The TV is way more offensive than just playing "The Golden Girls" in a little square in the middle of the screen.

No, my third offense -- and the really offensive part of this TV -- is that I can't make the new TV cooperate with the new DVD player. It doesn't even play widescreen DVD's in widescreen.

I've tried everything, y'all, I really have. I have researched and Googled and called and been put on hold and been hung up on, all in an effort to make "Ocean's Eleven" look something like George Clooney and Matt Damon in Las Vegas, rather than a couple of tiny, emotionless dots on the screen in what might be any brightly-lit location in the world.

And the thing is -- I really can't blame myself. I blame the manufacturers of the supplies. Why, even if you crack open a computer, you'll find color-coded areas that make it easy to install new sound cards. If you want to add a printer, you hop online and download the driver while simultaneously hooking up the hardware, loading a new toner cartridge, filling the thing with paper, and printing out 78 pages of your last epistle to Wendy's about their customer service.

But for some reason, the people who make TV's, DVD players, tuner/receivers, cable boxes, and stereo speakers -- for some reason, those people can't make components that work together harmoniously. And you can't buy an old-fashioned tube-filled TV for love nor money, even though that's the thing that you know how to work.

I also blame the sellers of these new TV's, the people who are purposefully misleading me into thinking that what I see in the showroom will appear in my home. Those people don't sell service with the TV's -- they sell those services at additional costs. And they never tell you everything you need to know. Like, "This TV won't show your widescreen DVD's in anything approaching widescreen, especially not if the feed is coming from your new DVD player."

I swear, if I weren't so fond of "Grey's Anatomy" and "Top Chef," I swear I could give up TV entirely. I'm exhausted. I'm worn down. I have actually cried real tears while trying to get the "help desk" people to actually HELP me. Ten and a half days of wrestling with this garbage is ten and a half days too many. I didn't spend all that money to be this unhappy.

So I hate new TV technology. I want to kill or destroy new TV technology. And I am going to write some stinging letters, too, let me tell you. Those wretched manufacturers are going to get an earful, and I can't wait to give it to them.

In the meantime, could someone please send me updates about Top Chef? I'm going to go into withdrawal; I just know it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Clipping -- and crafting



When Amy and I record our podcasts, we always check the sound levels to see if we're "clipping." I am not a sound engineer, but I think that's when your personal volume becomes so loud that the microphone and the recording device can't actually handle the noise.

In stark contrast to podcast recording, though, I sashayed back to the craft corner and made a little sumpin'. I can't help it. I'm a crafter at heart. I can't seem to pull myself together enough to make a page for the scrapbook these days, but I do enjoy playing with paper and paint, ink and beads, and the occasional bit of ephemera. (Also known as "junk" to the real world.)

This clipboard is an example of just such a fit of creative frenzy. I altered it Sunday. I even made the dang little notepad -- seriously. I cut up printer paper and perforated it before stapling it inside some cardstock.

It felt good to make something. Maybe I'll make something else later this week.

Either that, or I'll just watch some TV.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I'm baaaaaaack!!!

The bad girls' trip to Walt Disney World was, as usual, completely fabulous, way too short, and utterly filled with frivolity. Thursday night found me salsa dancing in the middle of the Pleasure Island street with a much-younger man. OK, yes, he was a fabulous gay boy; I adored him. He could dance!

Being responsible party girls, we always rode the bus to PI and back, and every night, Krisi tried to convince all the bus drivers to take us to Burger King. ROFL!!!

Friday night, someone broke a glass. That's a feat, because there's no glass on Pleasure Island. Someone sought out the one piece of breakables in a 3-mile radius, and she broke it. Then she disappeared from the bar. I'm not saying who it was, but I'm just saying, I saw it.

Same night, our bus driver drove us not to a bus stop but directly to our building in our resort. What a sweetie!

Saturday night, I decided to test my theory that one could get killed in a tragic drunken revolving dance floor accident*. Death did not occur, but man, I have not laughed that hard in a long time.

*No one was hurt. But please do not try this at home.

The bus ride back to the resort was most fun that night -- we had a busful of merry Jamaican gentlemen who felt like singing. And one very quiet Scottish guy whose every word was pure gold. I adore that accent! I just couldn't get him to say more than five or six words at a time!

Sunday night, when PI was its quietest, we skipped merrily from club to club, saying sad goodbyes to all our favorite bartenders and security guards. Sniffle! Another fabulous bad girls' trip is over.

Thank heaven for strong coffee and the lilikoi juice at the Polynesian!

During the daytime, we rode rollercoasters and flying machines; we nibbled a little at the Food & Wine Festival, and we watched some fireworks. The weather was cooler than it was a month ago, thank heaven, and the best meal was our traditional lunch at the Concourse Steakhouse.

It was a great trip, and I highly recommend WDW for adults, especially during the Food & Wine Festival. I do not recommend Caribbean Beach resort. It's too darn big and spread out; the transportation to the parks is too slow; and there's a clerk in the gift shop who's got a bad attitude. I wish we had stayed at the Contemporary. Seriously.

I can't believe it's over. I need another trip!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Back to Florida!

I can't believe how quickly October flew past me -- what a wonderfully quick month! It contains some of my favorite events, like the day that we get an extra hour to sleep in (thank you, Daylight Savings Time!) and the day that kids dress up and run around town extorting candy out of adults.

But October's over! And it's time for me to go back to Walt Disney World!!!

Wow -- it seems like just last week I was there with Krisi. We went to Pleasure Island, we rode the Rock'n' Roller Coaster, we went to Pleasure Island, we had dinner at the Concourse, we went to Pleasure Island... Sniffle! I always have the *best* best time with Krisi, and I simply cannot wait for this year's trip to start. I may not sleep! I'm leaving as early in the morning as I can stand to leave, and I'm actually already packed. Weird!!!! I never get packed this early!

I won't be posting updates during the trip, and I may not be able to confess all our adventures when I get back. Previous trips have found us nearly drowning, nearly getting a fireworks cruise captain fired, nearly getting drugged, nearly getting arrested, and nearly missing a bus because we were too schnockered to remember where the bus stop was. Oh, and there was the year that I didn't nearly flash the whole island -- no, my slippery buttons and I *did* accidentally flash the whole island.

That wasn't so bad. It was 1:00 in the morning on a Sunday night, so there was no one there except conventioneers. I figured, "Hey, these people will never see me again," and I buttoned up my uncooperative blouse.

Then my dear friends pointed out to me that those guys were men, and they were out of town, so when *they* got home, they stood around the water cooler and talked about the chick who whipped her clothes off and flashed her cleavage around. Aaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!!!!!

Well, at least I'm immortal *somewhere*.

Off to find news avenues to infamy! See y'all Tuesday!