Monday, August 26, 2013

Shark-a-Palooza 2013!

Shark-a-Palooza 2013 was nothing short of EPIC. Some events are just destined for greatness, and thus rewarded by "annual recurrance" status - this was one for the history books! Guests showed up with shark bites, tourist hats, lifeguard towels, shark fins...it was super! The menu was extra shark-tastic and included the following:

Shark Cake (3D Chocolate Shark... eating a boat! A Lauren Alford Gluten Free Original!!)
Shark Fin Cupcakes (Chocolate Cupcakes, filled with Raspberry Jam....covered with teal frosting and topped with a fondant shark fin- Gluten Free, of course)
Shark teeth (peanut butter filled Bugle Corn Chips, dipped in White Chocolate)
Crawfish (from Louisiana Seafood Company, in Portland, Oregon)
"Goldfish" crackers in a "Sea" of blue M&Ms
Shark Jello Shots
Fish Sticks with Tartar Sauce


The dogs were decked out in their Shark outfits, and Benicio the Betta Fish was up and at 'em! I reluctantly donned the ridiculous Shark Dress that I had ordered online...that had showed up a few days earlier in an ENVELOPE. That says something about a) the sheerness of the fabric, and b) the general tiny-ness of the dress itself. I was literally in shock that a DRESS would arrive in an ENVELOPE, as opposed to a package. But damn it, I wasn't going to NOT wear it. 

"Who's your friend?", you might ask. That's Maximillian the Remote Controlled Air Shark.
Jerin had ordered him on Amazon, and on the day of the party I took him down to the grocery store to bring him to LIFE! With helium. 
Ashley and Jerin and I were like three awesome engineers trying to attach all his fancy sensors and fins, etc. Until finally....

Everyone had a blast "swimming" Max around the party! He had such realistic movements. He even snuck up on Travis and Dan...Jerin had the good sense to be terrified!! We watched a stellar cinematic masterpiece called "Bait - cleanup on aisle 7", about a tsunami that floods a grocery store, bringing with it a great white shark....and MAYHEM! 
It was a fun filled, crazy evening of Landshark Beer, Shark Pinatas, and general merriment!

Lauren also demonstrated how to properly disarm an angry shark....punch it in the face!!

We also had a shark poster, where you could get your photo taken! Amelia thought it was the most fun ever!


And the grand finale- a group shot of the party crew! 
Seriously, I can't wait for Shark-a-Palooza 2014...






Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Panic at the Disco!

....well, more like "Panic at Toyota".

I'm lounging while my car is getting it's 15,000 mile service. It's awesome.

I guess there is a chance all this relaxation that I'm doing might all be ruined.... if I at some point get handed a huge bill for a million things wrong with the car. BUT, let's not be negative. For now, I'm basking in the glory of the Wi-Fi and flat screen equipped Toyota Café, and have enjoyed a plate of delicious scrambled eggs, perfectly crisped bacon, and..an average fruit cup! (still too much melon, and not enough ...fruit that's NOT melon) Did I mention that they have a fitness center?

This whole experience would of course be better if I didn't feel like I was having an anxiety attack. And....it would most definitely be better if I wasn't ACTUALLY having this anxiety attack. I am pretty convinced these feelings are directly related to Gilenya. I've never in my life, prior to starting Gilenya last September, felt anxious or had racing heart rate, and the shakes. Now it's been happening more and more frequently. Talking to other people who are also taking Gilenya, I'm finding that I'm definitely not the only one. In fact, I'm learning that more and more people are going OFF Gilenya, for this reason. I wonder knowing that is making my issues worse...even the idea of NOT being on Gilenya makes me super upset.

Eeek. Shaky hands freak me out. (especially when they are mine). And feeling faint and "strange" conjures up terrible memories of vestibular neuritis....so, that's NOT helping this situation.

Mind over matter is a tricky concept. I'm noticing that I'm yawning. Not just "stretch n' yawn", but many yawns back to back. Since yawning in dogs can be an indicator of anxiety, I did some research on the internet (as I was panicking and yawning, haha). Apparently it is the same for humans, AND is a natural bodily response to a panic attack, as we might feel like we aren't getting enough air. Seems intuitive enough, as the heart begins to race, and we're feeling faint...but the following fact might help calm things down - the body normally takes pretty shallow breaths. When we yawn, particularly if we are yawning repeatedly (as I was doing just now in the Café at Toyota!) we take in too much oxygen, which contributes to hyperventilation. It's really hard to tell oneself anything, really, when you feel like you're about to faint, and your hands are shaking etc. Talking to Lauren right now, is definitely helpful (yay friends, and yay internet!) and I'm glad I found the article on yawning!

The woman just called and said my car was ready. I feel better, so I'm going to gather my things, drop off my tray, and go pick up my car. This anxiety attack was broadcast live from Acton Toyota, most definitely brought to you by Gilenya!

What this blog was supposed to be about, was how awesome this Toyota dealership in Littleton, MA is. They are SO efficient, and the whole process from the time you bring your car through their automatic "garage-like" doors (that fly up at a million miles per hour) is totally streamlined. A valet checks you in, your name appears on a screen inside, and within 10 minutes I was called to the desk, and handed my breakfast voucher. Everything is so nice and clean, and everyone is so very nice! Barring random anxiety attacks, that have nothing to do with Toyota, this is such a pleasant experience!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Boston Ice Cream Takedown

I've learned that you can accelerate the ripening of peaches by putting them in a paper bag, and clipping or folding it shut. I'm investigating whether or not this will work for avocados... Ideally, it would make the rock hard avocados ready for....dinner in an hour. ;-) And here is where I found the answer: http://www.avocadocentral.com/.

I've also learned that Bourbon is a perfect spouse for oven-roasted peaches, and their love child is...a delicious frozen custard! Add some "Trader Jaques Salted Caramel Sauce", and happiness is unavoidable! I considered several other flavors, like Goat Cheese and Fig, or Tiramisu Ice Cream....or Avocado Ice Cream....those were all confined to the back burner for The Boston Ice Cream Takedown 2013!!!


So, for this my second takedown challenge - the first one was the Meatball Challenge earlier this year- I secured 3 ice cream makers with a total of 5 bowls for the freezing. I figured it's really the BOWLS that make it possible to "mass produce"... since they need to be frozen at all times, it's helpful to have several to switch out! It was my first time making "ice cream for public consumption", in any type of large quantity. But golly gee, was it fun! It was also VERY helpful that Ivy was visiting this weekend - she was an amazing asset!! It was really great to spend some time with her - it had been a long time since we had seen each other.

The Takedown was fantastic, as usual. I told the organizer Matt Timms, that I've definitely become addicted to doing these events. It really isn't all about winning when you're surrounded by fun and friendly people who all are in it to have a good time doing something wacky and interesting! I'm really proud of my Tipsy Peach Ice Cream, and the compliments and consumer responses made me confident that it really WAS a success! I plan on posting the recipe, but as usual, I cook and bake like my Grandmother ("a little bit of this...a little bit of THAT....add some more of this....") and need to get it down on paper.

Note Organizer/Host Genius, Matt Timms looking pensive in the photo above!

Lauren placed 3rd for "People's Choice" which is fantastic! She had the most adorable set-up with a beach theme for her "Key Lime Pie Ice Cream" - it was totally a melt-in-your-mouth, refreshing, perfectly balanced pie-in-a-scoop! :-)
The team to our left had a very novel flavor of Curry & Saffron, which had a gorgeous rich yellow color!

The team to our right had "S'more Beer Please" Ice Cream....with Marshmallow Fluff, and Graham Crackers! I love how events like this draw out some seriously creative folks! Loved their beer-bottle/marshmallow decor!

I feel like I've run a marathon. Not that I would ever voluntarily run a marathon....so obviously I'm just making things up, and speculating....I'm so incredibly tired. And tomorrow is Monday again! They just keep coming...!!! However, the light at the end of the tunnel is the arrival of Bestest Cousin Martin and his wife Paulina, from Sweden! In their honor, I'm throwing a party on Friday - "Shark-a-palooza", since Martin and I have a long running joke about shark week. As with most of our jokes, it has mutated into a full blown obsesssion...This party will have a shark pinata....a huge remote controlled helium filled shark....shark costumes for the pets....the list goes on, and I'm sure you'll be AMAZED at the photos that will be posted, come Saturday....with an entire chapter dedicated to how emotionally conflicted I am about the Shark Dress I ordered....stay tuned.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fruit Imbalance & Spine Surgery!

In any given fruit cup....there is ALWAYS too much melon, and not enough pineapple. (I can't claim that this is an original rant, because at some point in the past I was witness to someone else complaining publicly about this gross fruit imbalance!) It just became painfully relevant as Lauren and I are sitting at the hospital waiting for Travis to come out of his back surgery. This fruit cup between us is seriously 1/2 honeydew, 1/4 rock solid pineapple pieces SO sour that our faces fell off, and 1 delicious grape (which we shared). #getmoremalereaders...

We are having way too much fun. (More fun than Travis, I'm sure....!) Everyone in this little cafe hates us. We are about to embark on a "Get Well Travis" Adventure. We've written a message on a piece of paper and are going to make random personel hold it and take photos. Like this one: 

Travis is now out of surgery, and from the sounds of it, all went really well! He's doesn't even have to stay here overnight! Hopefully this was the procedure that will end the pain once and for all. He's been dealing with this for over 15 months! While any surgery on the spine is scary, but with the orhtroscopic methods they use, I'm sure they've minimized risk and maximized positive results! 

Wishing you a speedy recovery, Travis!!!






Monday, August 12, 2013

Eye, Eye, Matey!

Har har. That title is so stupid, I can't believe I'm going to leave it...but right now, I can't think of anything better. (OR worse.)

I am having a strange eye sensation. It feels like my right eyeball has a personal air conditioner blowing right at it. I'm totally going to self-diagnose right now, and say that caused by lack of sleep, and stress. Those things have their own causes, such as "large orange cat", and "exhorbitant flight fares around Christmas time".
To those of you who might have found this blog through a search for "Gilenya" or other MS terms...Yes, I do suppose "macular edema" will always be on the table for as long as I'm taking this medication, but I seriously doubt that would be the main course at this time, all things considered.

I'm trying to book a flight to get back to the Bay Area for the holidays. Terence, having started his residency last month (only thirty five months to go!!!), doesn't know whether or not he'll be able to have the time off. The pet-sitter needs to be booked...well... yesterday. No sense in booking if Terence is going to have to stick around. Bummer to be stuck without a sitter if Terence does NOT have to stick around. Tickets, not unlike the pet-sitter, pretty much needed to be booked EONS ago. Ticket prices have SOARED. It's upsetting.

Lots of things happening. I applied to a local college to see if I can get started on a Psychology degree. Not because I really NEED more things to do, but because I think it would be extremely interesting. I was accepted for the fall semester, and just need to see how much it would cost, etc.

Lauren and I are one week away from the Boston Ice Cream Take-down....she has created a fantastic Key Lime Ice Cream, and I'm churning out some Peach Burbon Creamy goodness. The timing is the hardest part, as we have to make 2 gallons. I wish I could magically conjure up 6 ice cream makers to increase the likelyhood of ALL the ice cream tasting....roughly the same?

Terence was off yesterday! We took this glorious and unique opportunity to jet down to Newport, RI for a morning cruise on the harbor. I had researched what activities were dog friendly in the area, and came up with Gansett Harbor Cruises. We definitely had a nice time, and lots of people were delighted to see dogs on board. The Captain? Not so much. He went so far as to make the statement "not everyone loves dogs", when we were trying to get a picture with Sara and Amelia. We did leave a generous tip...of fur. But in all seriousness, if a Cruise Company claims to be dog friendly...they should really get behind that claim. Maybe designate an area...

It was Sara's first trip on a boat! Aside from the "less-than-enthused-captain", she really had a good time! It was a really lovely family-day!!





Hey! We're on a boat! Makes the dumb "Eye, Eye, Matey" title of this blog, just a tad funnier...!




Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The General Knowledge of "General Knowledge"

It's way too late to call this post anything but Daily Chatter. I'm so sleepy I can't even be responsible for what I'm writing, really....

We suffered a terrible defeat at Trivia tonight, in Waltham. It was a bad scene. On the one hand, it was discouraging that we didn't have the knowledge required to win...but on the other hand, I guess I should feel positive that there apparently are enough knowledgeable and well-rounded individuals roaming around the area, to shove us into second to last place. Miserable! I guess a third option would be to assume that everyone else is cheating!!

That's my favorite option. Cheaters, the lot of  'em! Especially that guy who kept staring at us. I wanted to throw my water at him to rinse that smug grin off his face. He and his friend were at least 4 pitchers of beer deep, and still managed to beat us...Absolument incroyable! Maybe we weren't drunk enough...

Alas, we will brush ourselves off (and find a new trivia location!) and try again in two weeks. I'm just grateful that we are not a sports team, because as the self-appointed manager, I'd have been fired by now! We must have had beginner's luck in Woburn that first night! I wonder if I can find some program online that just rambles off random trivia....an infinite number of questions....just to increase my "general knowledge of general knowledge". I'll have to investigate. If nothing else, we had some delicious ice cream, and confirmed that 1) Mug Root Beer has a dog mascot, 2) the "Post" brand makes fruit loops, honey bunches of oats and grapenuts cereals, and ...well, we need to read up on our Norwegian Olympic Figure Skaters, Inagrual Hall of Fame Blues Performers....and movie tag lines for every movie ever made. And I guess HTC isn't the same as "Android".

There were some clever team names, I must admit. "Bed, Bath, & Beyonce", was clever. As was "Putin on the Ritz." That one could have been improved upon by changing to "Putin on the Fritz", since Putin is being such a pill over in Russia...granting asylum to the cowardly traitor, Snowden, and hating on homosexuals. I really don't blame the President for canceling his Russia/Putin trip, in favor of a stop in Sweden.

I really think it's so ironic that Snowden ends up in RUSSIA. He thinks OUR government is "spying on us too much"? OUR government is "too controlling"....well, obviously, you belong in Russia, where people are free to speak out against their government without fear....oh wait....um....

Have a good vacation. Hope you end up pedaling a generator in Siberia. Good riddance.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Introducing the "For the Love of Pets" category!

So, I've now created a sub-header of topics that I play around with in this blog. I'm going to write a little bit in each category to see if I've accomplished my goal! This is a category devoted to my beloved pets! 
Here is the line-up!


Sara is 3 years old (to the best of our knowledge!). She had a few questionable owners in the past, but when I saw her beautiful face on the Peace & Paws website, I knew she had to come to her "forever home" with us. She was fostered by some truly wonderful human beings, Michael and Morgan, and we love it when they come and visit us. Sara goes absolutely nuts with sheer joy!! (As do we!)

Kosmo is approximately 8 years old, and has been with me since I saw him sleeping in his litterbox at a Petco adoption fair in Sunnyvale, CA. He was an absolute wreck on his journey to Boston, but that's a story for another time! Kosmo LOVES food, and HATES moderation. He is very handsome, and can be the sweetest cat...when he isn't howling or harassing us at 3am...

Littles and Chloe came into my life as part of the "Veterinarian Husband Package". They are litter-mates and showed up at Terence's vet school....in a paper bag. Chloe kind of holds a grudge against the world, but sometimes (as in the photo above) will let her brother get close. She does NOT like Kosmo...but Kosmo LOVES her. Littles has some issues with indiscriminate consumption of non-food items. It's a problem. I've lost countless garments and shoes, and bed sheets, and towels... to his ravenous and strange appetite. But we love him so very much. :-) It's good to have a veterinarian in the house though, when the projectile vomit begins...

Amelia is not really a dog. She is more like... an alien from a very peaceful civilization. She is the smartest, and the most gentle being imaginable. Amelia is a  certified Good Canine Citizen, and also has her Therapy Dog License, to go out into the world and make it a better place through love and snuggles. She has traveled the world like the jet setter glamour princess that she is, and was the ring bearer at our wedding. She is my first dog, and is a friend to everyone...except small children. And bicycles. She can pick up the toys that Sara throws around the room....and put them back in the basket when it's time for clean-up.

We also have....Benicio! He is named after Benicio del Torro, because he is a bad a** mo-fo! He is agressive and awesome, and even though he can't come out an play with the other kids....we love him so much and he is just as much a part of the family!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New(ish) Blog Face!

It's taking everything in my power to not eat a second ice cream sandwich.....never mind. Too late- Terence just brought me one. It's not my fault when it's delivered, right?

So I gave this blog a face-lift. It was challenging, and involved lots of cutting and pasting and cutting some more, and saving, and losing, and starting over at least 6 times. I like the look a lot better now. However, my already crappy right hand is now hating me, and painful from overuse! I wonder how many people with MS problems actually exacerbate their symptoms with things like cellphones and typing, and such. I bet there are people who are complaining "Wow, my numbness/pain is SO much worse today", without considering the 19 hours they've just spent on their computers.

I went to a Bat Mitzvah on Saturday! It was my student, and we'd been working on this a capella 16 verse Hebrew prayer for months- difficult! We had no sheet music to guide us, so the first obstacle was to get the notes down on paper from a near impossibly bad recording. After that, it needed to be moved up several notes to even be singable by a 12 year old. After that we rehearsed like crazy to improve pitch, and to try to hold that pitch for sixteen verses! Not a small feat, and I'm VERY proud of my diligent student! She did a fantastic job! Cool as a cucumber, with no discernible nerves! Added bonus, I can probably fake my way though a Hebrew prayer if ever there is ever a need!

Thought I'd take the pups for a walk today, as I found myself with a random window of time...why is it that everywhere we go there are not just one or two kids...but a TON of kids. ON ROLLERSKATES. Who has seen the movie "Cabin in the Woods?" That must be what Amelia feels like...surrounded by her worst nightmares: Children and wheels, and even worse...children ON wheels.

Ok, short entry. More recipes to follow in the next couple of days. Gotta "reset" my hands.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lemons are cheaper than Pepper-Spray.

"When life gives you lemons....squeeze them into the eyes of your enemies!!!!" 
    
The author of the above phrase is "unknown"...but I wouldn't be surprised if I made it up. Considering I don't remember reading it....till just now. When I wrote it. 

How do you guys like my new lemon-y background? I'm trying to distract you with citrus, so that you don't realize how lame I have been about updating my blog.

First things first - On this humid summer eve, our brilliantly assembled team of geniuses SPEWED our knowledge ALL OVER the Brickhouse Tuesday Night Trivia Challenge. Oh, sweet victory! Even as the organizer, I am the self-proclaimed Least Valuable Player of the night, as I was surrounded by very well-informed and intelligent people, who together carried us to undisputed trivia glory. What a fun night.

It came about because back in February, I had been stood up by a friend for dinner at the SeaDog Brewery,  and after ordering food for my sad party of one, overheard a trivia question about San Francisco. I knew the answer and thought it appropriate to donate it to the team nearest my table. One trivia answer led to another, and I was invited to join their merry group. Everyone was very cool, and Alison and I bonded over our love of our dogs. I'm thrilled that we managed to get together tonight for trivia at the Brickhouse, considering it's been almost 6 months since we met. She's just one of those people that made me think, "I want her as a friend."

So, at the start of my extended blog absence, there was a terrorist attack on the 2013 Boston Marathon. I think that was the event that stopped my writing flow. It was a very surreal experience, and obviously very tragic for those killed and maimed. I don't feel the need to recount the event, and the man-hunt that followed and locked most of Boston down in our homes. It was horrible. What followed was a bit of a social media phenomenon, with every average Jane/Joe turning into an award winning newsreporter. It led to lots of confusion and false rumors, but ultimately - the suspects were caught, which was the most important thing. Boston really banded together as a community which was truly inspiring...if only the world could do more of that, not only as a response to tragedy.

I've got several things to catch up on, and photos to post! Amelia became a Certified Therapy Dog back in June, and Terence and I took a quick trip to visit family in California. Normally California represents high stress and anxiety for me, but this time was really mellow and fun! I'd never played Bocci ball before, and got to do so with some of my best friends, between winery visits. We got to visit with Terence's cousin's newborn baby, and while my own biological clock remains on indefinite mute, it was a very cute baby, and did  inspire me to give further thought to adopting one of our own. Seeing the 4 generations of family - that I can now call my own through marriage - is a comforting feeling.

As I may or may not have mentioned before,  my idea to not have a biological child is really unrelated to my Multiple Sclerosis. That said, I think it WOULD be very challenging, knowing there is a genetic component to the disease, to always have that possibility in the back of your mind. My own mother did NOT have that worry, obviously, since at the time of my diagnosis, as well as to this day, I am the only one in my family with MS. But if I had a child, I'd always wonder when the other shoe would drop, so to speak. Would that be enough of a reason to not have a child - no. We all have our crosses to bear, and MS is not the end of the world. There is no cure, but there is no cure for being hit by a bus either. Or being trapped in a terrorist attack. Or struck by a stray piece of space debris for that matter. We can't let ourselves be paralyzed by fear of these horrifying possibilities. Find the best possibilites and set up shop there. It increases the chances of becoming a happy person. Isn't that the point, after all??

There are too many people in this world. That's my main reason for not lugging around an immuno-altering being in my uterus. I feel lucky to have found a husband who shares my question - why keep adding to an out of control population, that's already so hard on the world resources, when there are SO many children in the world who need the love and guidance of a parent? People can tell me that there is no greater thing in this life, than giving birth. That may be true for them, but I can think of several things that personally, I'd most likely find MORE enjoyable. (That doesn't involve such a blatant assault on the female genitalia!) I know that MY capacity for "love" is practically limitless, and the emotional reward that I would get from adoption would be just as great as anyone elses biological adventure. People may disagree, but that's their problem. And those who truly believe that the sole purpose of woman is to bear as many children as possible...I think they need to really start proving some very specific things about who is telling them that. (like why that same guy invented contraception?) These people should also make sure they don't support any life-extending medical procedures, because it's getting a little crowded here on earth.

Bam! That was so much more in-depth than I had intended. I had intended to write about the agonizing process of choosing a lemon-plant background for this blog! (and not about my self-assigned population control program!) But you know what? I'll probably change it (the lemon background, not the self-assigned population control program!) in a few weeks to better suit my mood, and then you guys won't have a clue what lemons I'm even talking about!

It's really humid tonight. I think even my THOUGHTS are sweating. Get ready for some serious blog catch-up in the coming days.



Sunday, May 12, 2013

Gluten-Free Tiramisu with Kahlua

...Kahlua-misu!

I'm going to be honest: I didn't even LIKE Tiramisu that much. Until now. The ones I have tried in restaurants have been SWIMMING in rum. No bueno. I have made it a few times in the past, before I gave up gluten, and it's a relatively simple dessert to throw together a day in advance...when you don't have to worry about the GF Ladyfinger cookies. (And maybe also, don't start the process at 10pm...) I was cursing the fact that I had to BAKE the Ladyfingers, as opposed to just picking up a box at the store, like in the good ol' days of indiscriminate gluten ingestion.

The end result, however, made it SO worth it. I'm posting the recipe so that you all can travel to dessert heaven too, gluten-free. Seriously, the Crème Brulee AND the Chocolate Soufflé with Crème Anglaise and Raspberries, are both getting dropped from their top two spots on the "Krentz Dessert Program." I made this for our fantastic friends Marylou and Gary who came over for steak dinner the other night. The Cajun Shrimp recipe is also worth posting. But, one thing at a time! And as it should... "dessert" trumps "appetizers".

For you curious types, Ladyfingers (also called Savoyardi!) are rumored to have originated in the late 15th century at the court of the Duchy of Savoy. They were created to mark the occasion of a visit by the King of France. Imagine getting a COOKIE created in your honor.

OK, enough history. Let's start with the Ladyfingers! I should mention that the quantities might need some further experimentation. Some people like a spongy, cake-heavy tiramisu, while others want the mascarpone and cream to dominate. Some like a ton of booze, but I don't want to drink my desserts, necessarily. Introducing....

Kahlua-misu!



Gluten-free "Ladyfingers"
3 eggs
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
3/4 cup Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix
1/3 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Vanilla Extract (make sure it's GF if you want to be "straight-edge" about it)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. You'll be sorry if you don't.
  2. Separate the eggs and put the egg whites in medium size bowl. Beat on high until soft peaks start to form. Slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue beating until stiff and glossy.
  3. In another bowl beat the egg yolks and remaining sugar. Add the vanilla extract. Whip until thick and pale in color.
  4. Sift flour and baking powder together into a bowl. (Yes, one more bowl. And a sieve. Unless you want to use some other trick for sifting flour. It's important even with "pre-sifted" flour, for maximum fluff factor)
  5. Fold half the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Fold in flour, and then add the remaining egg whites. (Don't over-do the mixing, or you'll murder the characteristic LadyFinger fluffy weightlessness.) Transfer mixture into a pastry bag with a round tip and pipe out 4 inch rows onto the baking sheet. (Upon trial, I increased the amount of flour from the original 2/3 cup, because the mixture was a bit to thin to pipe with any type of ease - didn't affect the final product however...) Bake approximately 8 minutes or till they turn a golden brown.


Kahlua-misu (Tiramisu with Kahlua!)
5 egg yolks
3/4 granulated sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
16 oz. mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee (use good beans!)
4 tbs. Kahlua
25-30 Gluten Free Ladyfingers
2-3 tbs. Cocoa Powder for dusting

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Whisk in the milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Boil gently for about a minute, then remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Cover tightly and chill in the fridge for about 1 hour.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form. Whisk mascarpone into yolk mixture until smooth.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the Kahlua and coffee. (How much of each, and how much you end up using, is really a personal decision! You'll just have to figure out which proportions tickle your fancy...)
  4. Arrange a layer of ladyfingers in the bottom of a 7x11 inch dish. (You guys are smart and probably realize that the dish used is also flexible. Tall edges = more layers & low edges = fewer layers...not rocket science, haha!) Using a spoon, drizzle the coffee/Kahlua over the ladyfingers. (Don't go crazy with this step- just enough drizzle to dampen the cookies. No drowning necessary.) Spread half of mascarpone mixture over the damp ladyfingers, then half of whipped cream over that. Repeat layers about 3-4 times, or as many times as your dish will allow. Sprinkle with cocoa (use your sieve to avoid clumps!). Cover and refrigerate AT LEAST 6 hours, until set. Preferably overnight to really let the flavors get to know each other... Cut with a sharp knife and lift up and out!

Special shout-out to Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix, for consistently making GF life so much easier! I'm sure some other GF flour (or shortcut even more with a yellow cake mix?) would work fine as well.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

My Dental Fling

What are the chances of an unidentified particle using your dental floss as a slingshot, and hurling itself straight into your eye?

Pretty decent, I guess.

I would love to know the speed of said particle, because it got in there, somewhere, and wouldn't come out. I figured sleeping would take care of it, but I woke up this morning with one RED eye, crying without the endorsement of any particular emotion. The eye was painful, and judging from the amount of disgusting goop, had been trying all night to eject the foreign object.

Last time I visited the neuro-opthamologist he told me I had fantastic vision, but my eyes were dry. I told him I believed him, but didn't know what dry eyes felt like, and therefore resigned to accept his "diploma on the wall as proof" that my eyes were dry. He gave me some gel type drops.

I have never put ANYTHING in my eye, (except that one time I flailed around with a Q-tip and it got stuck between my eyeball and my eye socket....) so my aim needs work. After hydrating my CHEEK and my eye brow for a while, I gave the bottle a good squeeze and dumped a waterfall into my eye. Then I waited. I was having terrible anxiety that maybe because of my modified immune system this THING would turn into some giant ocular infection that would eat me up from the inside and kill me. So I repeated the waterfall procedure after 15 minutes in hopes of just drowning my problem.

Eventually, thankfully in time for my performance this morning, whatever the thing was wasn't there anymore. I tried to imagine what it could have been. A piece of gluten-free cracker? A grain of salt?

Pictured: "The Assailant and the Savior"

The world will never know...

Floss carefully, my dentally hygienic friends.

Friday, May 3, 2013

"When Goldfish Attack - A therapy dog's harrowing tail"

Those of you who have met Amelia, know that her temperament is perfectly suited for Therapy Dog Work. She has been taking classes for the past two months, and will hopefully pass the certification test in two weeks! Her biggest challenge has been "leave it", as she is so low to the ground and spends her time "vacuuming" for god-knows-what. Two classes ago, it did not look promising, as she was lightning fast in picking up the small pieces of chicken off the very tempting "do-not-eat" plate on the ground. I catch myself being resentful of the test itself, wondering what jerk-face would leave a plate of food on the ground for a dog to NOT eat...but then I remind myself that it is the principle of the thing. Most people do, in fact, NOT leave plates of delicious food on the ground. But they might drop their dangerous medications on the ground, if they are anything like me...Ms.Butterfingers.

This last class was great. On the first try, my exceptional little muffin passed over the plate, picking up three goldfish crackers in the process. I quickly squeaked "LEAVE IT!", at which point she turned around, and the three crackers plopped out of her oversize jowels and back on the plate. I was mighty impressed. Until the instructor needlessly pointed out that nobody is going to want to take pills that were dropped and now covered in dog drool. To which my instinctive response MIGHT have been "Droppers can't be choosers".

On the second try, I was told to "assertively" command that the dog "LEAVE IT" with better timing - as in, BEFORE the plate is within reach. I might have yelled a bit too loud, because Amelia jumped straight up in the air, and over the plate, with at least a 20" useless diameter.

Nobody can say that this dog is a slow learner. Third pass at the plate of crackers. I didn't have a chance to say ANYTHING because Amelia now thinks goldfish crackers are the devil, and took a huge detour around the plate while not even making any eye contact. Next...I guess we'll have to try it with....prime rib?

Here is a picture of Amelia being very suspicious of her giant therapy dog colleague, wondering if there aren't size restrictions for this job.


And should he be SLEEPING in class?
He should maybe reconsider his career choice...
 
I wonder if that plate of goldfish crackers is still behind me...


 
 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Deport-a-Potty....NOW!

At first it was a "mystery", and a seemingly unanswerable question - IS IT POSSIBLE for the wind to be MOVING the Port-a-Potty that sits over by the construction area?? Without pushing it over?? Last night it was clearly a foot or two forward from it's usual spot. This morning, a full 10 feet, propped up against the curb of our little center area in the front circular driveway. Suspicious, no? Well, yippee yay, the question has been answered. When I got home this afternoon it was flipped on its side. Nothing says "welcome home" (or "buy me!" in the case of the just completed new units) like a LITERAL shit creek winding its way across the driveway, and into the nearest unsuspecting sewer grate. I wanted to vomit at the sight of the giant turd floating by. I'm hoping this can magically NOT be the scene that greets me tomorrow at breakfast. I'm just really grateful that we have two entry options to this house.

My hand hurts so I'll be brief. In the past week, some highlights include

1) attending not just one, but TWO burlesque performances and not so secretly wondering how proficient I myself could become at swirling tassels, perhaps in a "Swedish Singing Astronaut" number?

2) cooked a 14 lb Prime Rib Roast for Easter and managed to ALMOST replicate my gluten free Yorkshire popovers,

3) spent a night NOT sleeping on a pile of towels on the floor in the office (long tedious story for another day),

4) spent serious time sprucing up my usual deviled eggs with bacon, only to forget to serve them.

I'm tired.

I learned something about TULIPS this Easter. (I usually buy tulips as they are among the most unlikely to kill my cats) The lady who was working in the floral department told me that if I dropped "7 pennies" into the vase, the flowers would not bend, as tulips have a tendency to do after as little as a day. I got home and wondered if it had to be exactly 7 pennies. I only had six. The results have been jaw-dropping. Truly. The tulips look lovely, and are proudly reaching for the sky - Day four! Thank you for that gem of tulip knowledge, flower lady!


 
 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Whipped Cream Scam

Ugh, I hate when my blog ideas all cluster together. I literally typed that first sentence last night, before my computer battery died. I was going to write an imaginary tale about this landscaper I drove by, who looked JUST like Paul Ryan. Almost to the point where I thought it was a publicity stunt by Republicans. But that was yesterday, so I've now forgotten what my awesome story was going to be.

It's been a busy week. A lot of my time was taken up by trying to clean ricotta out of a strainer. On Wednesday, or...maybe it was Thursday? It was Thursday. On Thursday I branched out and tried Whole Food's Gluten-Free Ravioli. SUCH a good idea, and sooo...not a great execution. The raviolis fell apart after 1.3 seconds in the boiling water. And to add insult to injury they were not very tasty. Neither was the vodka sauce. So, in short, I blame the lack of flavor of my main dish for my over-indulging on the garlic bread. Mmmm, garlic bread.

Do you know what I think of whipped cream in a can? I think it's a scam. The cans feel almost the same when full, as they do when empty. And my whipped cream cans seem to ALWAYS be empty. Terence says it's because I eat so much of it, but I don't buy it. More often than not, I sit down to enjoy my pancakes with Nutella and whipped cream, and all I get is a blast of noisy air. Stupid. At that point the Nutella is already ON the pancake too, so there is really no turning back. I've taken to OVER stocking whipped cream, so that that situation doesn't happen so often.

I took the pups to the woods today, and they had so much fun. I like how Sara is waterproof. She flew headfirst into the creek, came out BLACK with grimey gunk, and was clean by the time the walk was over. I still gave her a wipe down with doggie wipes when we got home. I can't remember where we got these wipes but they seriously smell like men's cologne. So now Sara is exhausted, snoozing on the couch, smelling like what I would imagine Will Ferrell's character in Anchorman would smell like.

I am not all that inspired to write right now. I am lacking in sleep recently. How tired am I? Yesterday evening I was apparently so tired that when I thought I was texting Terence "you should get breathe right strips and a humidifier for your snoring"....I accidentally sent that text to a student's MOM instead. Of all the texts to send to the wrong person...sigh. Guess it could have been worse, but it sure could have been better too.


The MS drug BG-12 got FDA approval on Wednesday! I'm excited for all the people who have been waiting for this day. I still don't quite understand why Gilenya never got the hype that BG-12 seems to get. The general MS community seems full of people who either "didn't want to try something so new" (which makes no sense since BG-12 is NEWER!?) or was "afraid of all the side effects". But the side effects of the "old" drugs, are just as dangerous if not MORE. So that doesn't really make sense either. The reasons I ultimately opted for Gilenya are the following:

1) Side effects are POSSIBLE, but not GUARANTEED. MS progression is very likely, and possibly guaranteed.

2) Gilenya is almost twice as effective as the drugs that are currently on the market, and certainly not MORE dangerous.

3) The possible side effects are mostly treatable and for the most part reversible when detected early. And unless you are the kind of person who goes along with having MS without paying attention to what's happening to you... I'm fairly certain you'd notice changes in vision, for instance.

So, why was the general population of MS patients "wait for BG-12"? Is the average patient simply deferring to the neurologists of the world, who I suspect often "go with what they know", OR are the neurologists really in the pockets of pharmaceuticals? Which would simply mean that Biogen has more money than Novartis...?

I basically figure that in spite of how money driven these big drug companies are, they are not going to WANT to kill people if they can avoid it. Drugs will become better with time. And less dangerous, in general, with newer knowledge. I want to improve quality of life. I do feel like some patients almost derive their "purpose" from having MS. I do not want to be one of them. No matter what happens, it's information for the future. With a chronic progressive disease, we have to have faith in that patients aren't the only ones who want a cure.

OK, time to get ready for tonight - Brenda, Jeremy and Sean are visiting from California. Brenda has a show tomorrow, as part of the Burlesque Festival this weekend! Should be a lot of fun! They had a rough time with United Airlines (who doesn't these days...) losing their bags. That airline is the worst. Seriously. They promised to deliver the lost bags between 1AM and 6AM, which of course didn't happen. Jeremy was able to get a rental car and drive to East Boston to some random holding facility and get their bags. Screw you, United Airlines! I hope you find this blog and get your feelings hurt!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fiscal Rage!

Heads up! I'm in a mood!

There is this completely preventable situation, that irritates me more than anything- When the sleeves of a shirt refuse to stay rolled up while I'm doing dishes. It drives me crazy! It makes me even crazier that there are SEVERAL solutions to this ridiculous problem, such as:

1) changing the shirt before starting the dishes.
2) using rubber bands to hold up the delinquent sleeves.
3) not doing the dishes.
4) getting on an increasingly vigorous forearm workout routine, to keep one millimeter ahead of the increased stretching of the sleeves.

But instead of implementing ANY of these, I just keep pushing the sleeves up, only to have them fly back down into the water stream. What is wrong with me??

One thing that might be wrong with me is the fact that I watched a whole episode of  Suze Orman's Finance Show on PBS today. So now I feel terrible about any and all financial decision that I've ever made. She has that wonderful effect. It was a funny (not so funny) coincidence that it was on right as I had sat down with a pen and paper to go over my bills and budget. Now I'm depressed and convinced that I'm going to spiral into some terrible financial nightmare brought on by uncontrolled APRs and lack of good judgment. In all seriousness, it makes me angry how there is no general finance education taught in schools. (Maybe there WAS and I was too busy trying to make a mess of my dating life to notice...??)

I'm not just talking things like "it's important to not spend more than you make". I'm talking about things like...

1) What is a Roth IRA?
2) What are the ins and outs of mutual funds and other investment options?
3) buying a house
4) legal documents needed for various life experiences
5) why is the student loan process so screwed up?
6) taxes
7) insurance planning for illness/death

I'm stressed out. I know a lot more about these things NOW, but still feel like I'm playing catch-up because I'm...er....25 years old! Just kidding. But your knew that.

How do we expect to function as a country without education, is what it comes down to. If the population as a whole doesn't know these things...how do they know how to vote? And hell, it couldn't hurt to teach people how to keep their sleeves from falling down while doing dishes. Too much to ask? ;-)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Opting out of Apps

Designing this blog is a big mess. Instructions and templates and crap..."drag into dotted boxes", when there ARE no dottet boxes. Pretty much all I've accomplished so far is buying a bunch of backgrounds that look just like the ones available for free. Oh, I did change the font.

Happy Friday everyone! Aside from being full of annoying facebookers, today is bringing all kinds of surprises...well, I'm just calling them surprises in hopes of stirring up some excitement. Really they have just been phone call reminders for doctors appointments. Time must really be flying, if it's time for another eye check-up.

Kelly and I went to an awesome library concert last night! It was a quartet of clarinet, bass and two guitars, performing music from the 40's. Just my style, and totally inspirational. Lots of cable knit sweaters and 50 shades of gray hair in the audience, but I find that generation so much more endearing than the one I belong to!

 
 
Just for the record, it took me the good part of an hour to get this photo from my phone, into my blog.
In my attempts, I somehow managed to download (or upload?) some aspect of Google+, that ended up helping....not at all. My phone is cluttered with apps, and I have no idea why they don't let you choose apps. Then I wouldn't have to work my brain so hard to get RID OF THEM! In short, I have no idea what it was I did that actually got this photo in here.... Sigh. I think I'm overloading on new information. Never again will I get a new camera, laptop and phone in the same month. Nap time.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Havarti Musing...

Hello friends! I just realized I still had Christmas decor on the mantel! I don't want to take them down either, because they provide color in my living space!! I guess the faux poinsettas have to go, at least. I'll just have to figure out what to put in its place. 

I've got a very cute fat cat on my lap, and it's making it difficult to type. He's got his giant paw on the mouse so whenever I do a typo, I have to upset him. This might be a short entry.

I've been back to the neurologist since I last I wrote. The good news is, we didn't have much to talk about, as I am feeling pretty darn good. So instead, we discussed having children vs. not having children, and did a quick book review/discussion of the book "the Life of Pi". The bad news is, now my thyroid levels are all wonky. 

My new car is scaring me. When I picked up Jerin from the airport (YAY! Schmappy is home!) it made a sound like I had a flat or something. But there is nothing visibly wrong with it. :-( Hopefully it will at least get me to the dealer on Monday morning, since it's time for the 5000 mile service anyway, and it will be a quick visit.

I kinda feel like starting a "Bad Advice" Blog/Column. Where I select the most RIDICULOUS questions, and give them the answers/solutions they truly deserve. I'm pretty sure that could become seriously popular.  I'm going to grab a snack, and think this through, while eating some Havarti cheese....that the dog just licked.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Truffle Time!

Hello Creeper.

Ha. Just kidding. Unless you're ACTUALLY a creeper! That's a line from my new favorite youtube video of two cats playing "paddy cake". You should google that! Right now! You won't regret it.

Today was delightful! Lauren and I went to a chocolate truffle making class in Boston - super fun! The teacher was a winner from the Food Network show "Sweet Genius"...(which is a totally strange show)...and it was an episode that I'd actually seen! The host freaks me out, so i don't make a habit of watching it. Everything was really great except for this woman who, in addition to annoying me with a poorly composed pony tail, seemed to want to start a fight about whether or not "coconut" is a "nut". She seemed determined to prove that the chocolate class was going to kill someone with a nut allergy...and apparently needed to tell the Food Network Contest Winner and long time professional pasty chef, that she's "in the restaurant industry". With that asinine pony tail....I wanted to yell at her to go back to whatever greasy diner she escaped from, and let the rest of us enjoy our fancy truffle class!

I'd post pictures, but between Terence and myself, we've managed to lose two memory cards. At the risk of sounding like a complete whiner- 1) my computer is slow as crap, and there are more error messages than stars in the sky, 2) my phone holds a charge for about as long as it takes me to think about making a call, and 3) I forgot my third complaint. I am pretty sure it was about technoloy though. I am mad that phones are so expensive, and most involve signing your life away to the likes of AT&T. Oh well, I'll just take out my frustration on Facebook, in the form of agitated yet totally defensible rants about gun-control, and watch as (seemingly illiterate) Constitution thumpers make themselves and their feeble points of view look ridiculous.

Had a fun evening at the Tavern - drinks with my awesome newish friend from the gym! The bar was PACKED. I've never seen it quite like this. As usual it was mostly dudes in backwards hats in all their Jersey Shore-tastic glory. It's downright exhausting, and I am so insanely grateful to not be in the dating pool. What a nightmare, to date in today's idiotic world!! Best of luck to my single friends!

So, Kosmo ain't the only fatty 'round here. I went over to my former neighbour's place and was totally shocked to see her cat! It was only two months since last I saw them - it was startling how large this cat had gotten in such a short time! Thinking about how MY doctors always want to know about "any unusual weight gain/loss"....I thought it best to ask Terence! He said "bring her in". So I stuffed her into her now-too-small carrier, and into the car....at which point she stressed out, hyperventilated and promptly urinated. All over my Cole Porter Song Book. Super. Anyway, to make a long story short, following an ultrasound and a bath....diagnosis? The cat is just FAT. Well, lo and behold, when I asked dear Bette to show me what exactly the cat was being fed, the reason was clear. Instead of the 1/4 cup twice a day, she had been giving the cat 4 oz; a significant difference. So now the REAL diet begins. I've put Kosmo on a "sympathy diet", because of the sheer fact that this cat was HEAVIER than him. Poor Bette was so confused as to why her "diet" was making her cat LARGER. :-) I'm glad it was "just" that, and not something malignant. It was hard having to take 87 year old to the vet to say goodbye to her best friend of 13 years, earlier this year.

I've got some Souffles to post on this non-food/food blog. One Grand Marnier with Creme Anglaise, and one Chocolate with Raspberry Sauce. Although after listening to Mr.Sweet Genius Winner rant about how much he hates raspberry seeds, I can see I'll have to do something about that. I am proud to have branched out in the dessert department, and that it actually paid off. I might actually have to rename this blog "Dessert Storm" if this continues!