Happy Passover/Ostara/Easter/Zombie Day!

5 Apr

Happy Easter, for those who celebrate!  I’ve always loved this time of year, because it’s filled with so much celebration.  It’s always a fun day, be it for folks who are seder-ing, Ostara-ing, or simply hunting for eggs filled with jellybeans.  Mmm, jellybeans…

Personally, when I do the Easter thing, I do the Orthodox Easter thing.  Why?  Grew up that way.  So next Sunday I’ll be with the fam, bonking red eggs and stuffing my face with Easter bread.  Because for me it’s all about the food, apparently.

So now that it’s actually spring, and not some winter hold-over?  Behold the survivors of Man It Was Freezing 2014/2015!

But wait! There’s more! The mini-daffodils are up too! And so are a few of the seedlings I’ve started. Go plantlings, go!

And yes, I even made some Easter eggs today. For the season. (It’s my first attempt at a Real Omelet.  Looked fluffier in the pan, but sighed in apathy and collapsed once I plated it.  Oops.)

And a blueberry/peanut butter waffle. Holidays!

And a blueberry/peanut butter waffle. Holidays!

Today’s post was gonna be all about the opening of the Baltimore Farmer’s Market for the 2015 season. But as I had about 2 1/2 hours of sleep — why? I have no idea why, but couldn’t sleep — I decided to hang in today.

Happy Easter/Passover/Sunday to all!

If I Can: I sing the home electric

7 Mar

Well  since my last attempt, I may not be able to do more than swap stuff, but I’m enjoying the process.

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#1: The outlet above my oven. It started off wired. And by wired I mean wires hanging out of an open box.

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See?

So since this is the same deal – copper ground, white neutral, black live – I tried to do it myself. But I had no idea how to attach the outlet to the box, as it didn’t fit. But I learned something; the round, “Mickey Mouse” edges of an outlet snap right off with a slight bend from handy-dandy pliers. Voila! Fit perfectly. Later, I told the guys at the Depot what I’d done. Apparently those bits are made to snap off for exactly that reason: not all boxes are rectangular, so boom, snap to fit!

#2: USB chargers built right into an outlet! How festive! And a nice idea for someone like me who constantly charges her phone. Again, the copper/white/black = an easy swap.

#3: Another upgrade, a light-sensitive nightlight built into an outlet! This one was tough, as there are only three points of contact –  green screw for ground, silver for the white neutral wire, black (though sometimes it’s just uncoated brass) for the black live wire – and the outlet wasn’t just using 3 wires, it had an extra white neutral & black live. Why? Because it was part of a chain of electrical connections. Wanna know how I found out?

I installed the first one in the upstairs hall , and the lights in the front bedroom went boink.

I thought I’d simply burned out the closet light (not checking the main room, as it was daytime). But NOOOOO. Headed out to the Depot, and grilled…er, asked the guys who taught my wiring seminar what they thought it was. “Could be anything”, they replied. Perhaps a blown fuse?

So I went home and promptly freaked out. Did I end up costing myself more than I would have if I’d gotten it done professionally from the start? After 20 minutes my pity party was over, and I pulled a Winnie the Pooh and had a good think….

Could the two white wires & two black wires use just one screw/connection? Y’know, double up on each screw? Bopped back to the Depot, and the answer?

“Of course. Happens with those specialty outlets all the time.”

So I did, and it worked. And now I have a nightlight in the hall, and and lights in the front bedroom. Huzzah!

Bonus? I now love electrical tape. Insulation of the gods!

Off to shovel popcorn into my gaping maw. Treat yo self!

If I can: Installing A New Light Switch

28 Feb

ME MAKE POWER!!!

Okay, more like me take workshop at Home Depot, and then me go home and do exactly what the nice people showed me how to do.  But I still feel a bit like Doctor Frankenstein crossed with Thomas Edison.  My light switch!  It’s alive!  ALIIIIIIIVE!!!

Ahem.  Anyway.

This all got started because 1) I wanted to try to figure out how to do basic DIY on my own, rather than relying on my competent friends that have other lives and stuff, and 2) my TV room light switch is hella hard to find in the dark.  So I’ve been dreaming about putting in a flip-switch that has a glow-light for easy finding in the pitch.

Turns out it was a whole lot easier than I’d anticipated.  Easier still, as I was simply swapping one switch for another.  Which meant I took the ground wire from Switch 1, put it on Switch 2, took the top circuit wire from Switch 1, put it on Switch 2, took the bottom circuit wire from Switch 1, put it on Switch 2, and then screwed the new switch in.  Don’t believe me? Here’s how it went. 

[NOTE: I flipped the circuit breaker on the entire house before attempting any of this.  My security system beeped the whole time, but it was totally worth soothing the “what if I electrocute myself?” worries…]

Me Make POWER text

Aaaaand that’s that.  Now I have a groovy new light switch, and I gotta be honest; I can’t stop staring at it.  It’s unbelievable to me that I was able to do this myself.  And now that I know how, it’s unbelievable that it’s so freakin’ easy.

Next?  Flip-switches on All The Things!

More snow, insulated pipes, sofa forts and housework.

22 Feb

Snow means one thing around here: Cabin Fever. When we get this much snow, and this much freezing cold (-13° wind chill? A heat wave at 41°?) it’s nuts.

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Eep.

So of course, I stayed in and caught up on stuff. Translation: I stayed in and got attacked by needy, needy kittens. And instead of de-fuzzing the sofa, I stripped it, and made a fort.

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Tippi approved.

When they weren’t jumping my sheisse, they helped make the bed…

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...by keeping the bed from floating away.

Later, I snuck down to put foam tube insulation on the water pipes in the Swamp Room. Because it’s cold outside. Also, because I had a nightmare about pipes bursting. And zombies. Of course, I listened. So no zombie apocalypse on my watch y’all. You’re welcome.

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It’s easier to use than it looks. Because I know it looks horrible, but waiting til it’s freezing = grabbing a bunch of various sizes. I’ll even things out eventually…

Friends, Acquaintances, and People I Know

20 Feb

The #1 fear I had when I bought a house up in BFE Baltimore (that’s an accurate assessment from anyone in DC, including myself when I was down there) was that I’d lose a lot of friends.  I was used to hanging out with folks on the regular, constantly getting asked to attend this or that, and being able to do so.

Nowadays though?  With my health deciding to take a nosedive, my finances deciding to wrap themselves around my house, and friends moving farther away/getting their own lives on…that’s kinda what’s happening.  Am I getting asked to attend stuff?  Absolutely.  Am I able to make as many of those as I’d like?  Absolutely not.  And that stinks.

So I took a moment to consider; does it matter?  Is attendance at every soiree mandatory when friendship is on the table?  Five years ago I’d have said yes.  I thought the more you saw your friends, the deeper your friendship is.  As I began to settle in up here, my mind shifted a bit; no, you don’t need to be there all the time, but it’s nice to get your face seen.  A kind of tribute to the love you have for those who matter.

This year though, I’m a bit more whiny philosophical.  What is friendship, and how is friendship shown?  As a bit of a social/personality chameleon, I have friends of all types:

* The lifelong, who are basically family.  No wait; they ARE my family.  The ones who will drop anything and help me, no matter what.  The folks I’d do the same for, no matter what.

* The exes, who have been up for the role of Significant Other, but found their way to lifelong friends that call/text/FB weekly, offer help, and are there (sometimes with their real SOs) to grab a beer, or hit a Fest, anytime.  Which is a win, IMHO.

* The new, who are constantly surprising me with hidden depths, unwavering loyalty, and wonderful silliness. They make me up my game, get off my butt, and enjoy life.

* The pick-up-where-we-left-off, who I don’t see as often as I like (or often at all), but whenever we get together it’s like we’ve never spent time apart.  They help me remember who I am, who I was, and we guide each other into who we’ll become.

* The surprise friendships; people I’d never thought would click with me, but ended up being people who ground me, geek me out, or just plain-ol’ get me.  I learn new things, and engage in ways I’d never thought I’d be able. They also help me politely disagree, and find my personal compass.

* The gang; groups of friends who make any time spent with them an adventure.  They’re up for anything, their happiness is infectious, and are always up for a hug-a-thon.

There are also friends who were thisclose years ago, but for some reason have distanced themselves.  And I’m quite sure I’ve done the same to others.  People who I couldn’t go a day without getting a call/text/e-mail from, but who are now out of contact, and out of reach by their choice.  It’s strange when that happens.  Dialing the clock back is an option, but who wants to do that?  Y’know, besides getting the great skin I had back in the day.  Ahh, mem’ries.

Then there are The Others.  People who are wonderful, awesome and amazing, but not necessarily friends.  Not the folks you could call and chat with, but would gladly spend hours talking to you at a party.  Acquaintances, friends of friends, people I know but have never one-on-one’d with.  Beautiful, talented, intelligent folks that I’ve never had the pleasure of digging in with, or who haven’t offered.  Which is fine; there are only so many hours in the day, and I’m hella lazy.

They’re all wonderful.  And for years I tried to give all of these “levels” the exact same attention; Family Level.  Any wonder I’ve failed?  And it pisses me off that I haven’t been able to be all that I’d like to be to all these people.  But as the years roll by, I finally realized:

I DON’T HAVE TO BE.

Levels of friendship are to be expected.  And it’s okay to give more to some than you do to others.  I can nurture those who nurture me, and simply enjoy time with others who are wonderful enough to spend brief moments of their life with me.  Friends are Friends, Others are Others, and that’s okay.

So from now on?  Friends get top priority.  Others get my love, respect and adoration…but visits will have to be reciprocal.  If it comes down to spending time with people I know love me, or people that think I’m cool but it doesn’t really matter if I’m available on X Day?  I’ll spend quality time with the latter when we can both really enjoy it, rather than try to bulk up quantity where it’s simply me as another body in the room.

And I’ll start to ask more friends to come up and visit.  And those that can?  Wonderful.  Those that can’t?  Well, I’ll try to visit them when I’m able.  And I’ll no longer feel guilty about it, because my door is always open.  If folks don’t understand that “but you’re so far away!” goes both ways?  Well, then I’ll see you when my health, finances and time allow.  Because you probably won’t care that I’m busting my hump to get to you. And again, that’s okay; levels are levels.

It’ll be rough, and I’m already feeling the guilt of being a friendship hardass.  But by the end of this year, I’m hoping I’ll have a better handle on visiting, friendships, and time management.  Goals!

Laissez les snow temps rouler?

17 Feb

Happy Fat Tuesday! It’s snowy and bitter cold here, so thoughts of New Orleans and warmth are definitely on my mind. But shovelling snow doesn’t quite hit the spot.

I cheated last month and bought packets of dirty rice and gumbo mix, figuring I’d tweak them on the day. But the gumbo requires 2 pounds of meat, and apparently I can’t read directions beforehand. So that’ll another day. I’m thinking chicken and scallops. What could go wrong? Don’t answer that.

Instead, I tweaked the dirty rice by adding turkey ham & assorted veg (corn, green beans, baby carrots and asparagus). Cajuns everywhere are weeping.

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Looks like "Cooking With Bae", but actually tastes pretty good. Surprise!

Then, full of myself from my success with add water and stir “cooking”, I decided to tweak a chocolate cherry cake mix. I’m going full Sandra Lee y’all!   Bundt pan, whipped cream vodka added, and the usual booze glaze (confectioners sugar, said vodka, vanilla extract). Tada!

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Unfortunately, I ran out of mini-chips. Dangit.

Next time I hit the oven, I’ll from-scratch that puppy. But after today’s snow escapades, I’m just glad I’m not aching. Seems that taking it easy is helping to lessen the pain of that re-herniated disc. Fingers crossed that in 3 months I’ll find it’s better!

Snowed in Valentine’s Day

14 Feb

I’m the kinda gal who lives for a theme. A reason, any reason, to give a day a bit of the ol’ Jazz Hands. But I’ve always fancied guys that have no interest in me. (It’s a gift I have.) So? Valentine’s Day is one where I do my own thing.

Not typically an issue, as I enjoy my own company, and Katsucon always hits town this time of year. Sadly, with the ol’ back on a 3 month hiatus, standing in line – not to mention sitting in hard con chairs – is off the table. So I stayed in.

Noshed my way through some homemade peanut butter cookies and Costco blackberries, washed down with part of a case of beer gifted to me by a brewer buddy that took pity on my inability to Merch Alley my way to happiness this weekend. Treated myself to Outlander on Amazon, and hunkered down with two of my favorite kittens.

Good thing I stayed at home. Because now? Snow squall!

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Phew! Because I have no hotel at the Gaylord, I’d have had to drive home in this. Blech!

So tonight? I’m not gonna lie, I’m kinda smug. Off to lose terribly at Trivia Crack. Happy Valentine’s Day, Half Price Candy Day, or just plain ol’ Saturday to all!

Note: while it’ll probably cost damn near 600 clams for a hotel room at Katsucon next year? I’m really considering it. 24 hours of anime panels! Don’t tell me I’m the only one dying to check out all the snark once the hentai stuff starts rolling… (A roommate may be required. Or at least a lottery ticket win.)

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