Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Eating Out... Overwhelming?

Boy that is sure what happened to me when DH and I decided to go to a new restaurant in town.  Now that the kids are teenagers we like to go out occasionally by ourselves... you know like a date.  Remember those.  They are usually very relaxing enjoyable times.

We went to Buffalo Wild Wings.  DH hubby loves wings and I enjoy them too on occasion.  Thought I'd surprise him and suggest going some where he wouldn't think I'd like to go.  He was surprised and looked forward to going.

We walk through Buffalo Wild Wings doors and the first thing that hits you is the noise.  OK this isn't going to be a quiet experience.  One can barely talk to their companion it's so loud.  They wanted to seat us at a 2 person table right by the entrance and hostess stand.  Really?! Do we need a little more noise added to our experience?  We asked for another table.  Hostess then points to the next table.  How about this one?  It's a big round table for 8 people.  Really?!  You want 2 people taking an 8 person table when there are plenty of 2 and 4 person empty tables in this room.  Now I'm starting to sound like a pill when my hostess really doesn't have any common sense.

OK we're seated at a 4 person.  Our waiter comes over immediately and gives us a game controller and wants our drink orders.  "Want me to show you how to operate the game controller" he asks?  What do you want to drink?  Controller? Drinks?  Controller?  Drinks?  With the noise, lights, TV screens, choices and decisions to make so suddenly we are totally overwhelm.  Then we get the menu.  I should have turned and left before the menu came, because DH doesn't do well at making food choices in a new restaurant when things are calm and quiet.

He is clearly ready to throw one of his "I'm overwhelmed tizzy fits."  I remain calm and do the things girlfriends do.  Give him a squeeze, a wink, hold his hand.  He's distracted enough to look at the menu calmly.  BUT he snatches his hand back as I see the wheels in his head start whirling.  I can't blame him I'm totally confused too.  They don't serve just wings.  They serve all sort of things like burgers, wraps, salads, flat breads and ribs to name few.  How I deal with a new menu is I simplify.  I pick the first thing that appeals to me and I close the menu.  I know there are many choices I want, but I can't have them all so why agonize.  It's a wing joint I'm having wings.  DH on the other hand has all the choices whirling around in his head.  If I hadn't put a stop to it he might have gotten a nose bleed.

I asked him, "Anything appeal to you?"  He says, "I DON'T KNOW.  THERE ARE SO MANY CHOICES.  EVERYTHING APPEALS TO ME."  I ask in my loving syrupy girlfriend voice, "Why don't we share a wing platter."  He says, "I DON'T KNOW THERE ARE SO MANY WING PLATTERS AND WING SAUCES!"  I suggest we try a traditional wing sauce.  We'll get one platter with bone in wings and one with boneless wings and we'll share.  We'll get a side of hot sauce for him and blue cheese for me.  Crisis dialed down no one's head is going to explode.

We order.  First thing we are told is there are no french fries.  We can have potato chips or potato wedges at no extra charge.  I love crispy freshly made potato chips and DH loves potato wedges.  No problem.  Out comes our order.  We have 2 cups of blue cheese dressing, and 2 cups of ranch dressing.  Wings were your typical hot wings.  Nothing special, but good.  My potato chips were very thick and squishy.  They were just chip shaped potato wedges, which I don't like.  The potato wedges were at least seasoned and had a flavor.  DH offer to share his wedges.  When out of the corner of my eye I see 2 kids eating french fries.  WHAT?!  I was told no how no way was I getting french fries.  I grab one of my husband potato wedges and what do I get a lone french fry.  You know one of the non existent french fries.

The mild sauce was starting to get a little hot for me so I looked around for my celery.  No celery.  My platter was clearly pictured with celery.  What did they run out of celery too?  I stop the waiter and ask?  He tells me that since I have 2 different flavors of sauce I get no celery.  I didn't order 2 different kinds of sauces.  DH doesn't like ranch and I only like the blue cheese.  Sorry you have 2 sauces no celery for you.  WHAT?!  I didn't want to push it at this point.  I just wanted to go home.  The noise level and the disappointment of this meal was just at its apex for me.  I don't throw tizzies in restaurants, but I sure wanted to at this point.  I just remembered I was enjoying lunch with DH on a rare day off that he had during the week.

Before I left though I took a quick movie of a quarter of the restaurant.  I counted 32 TV screens in the whole restaurant.  Some might think that's a good thing, but with each one on a loud different channel... it's not.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In Limbo

My 18 now 19 year old son is having a rough time deciding what he wants to do in life.  After a lack luster year at the Junior College he was put on academic suspension.  He missed the cut off to appeal and found himself without a school to go to this semester.

He has also been looking for a job for about a year.  He can't seem to get arrested in this economy.  When I found out he wasn't going to be in school and he had no job.  I asked my brother to put him to work.  I'm thinking volunteer work something to get him out of the house maybe get him some experience.  My brother says, "No, I'd have to show him how to do everything.  I'd rather just do it myself."  GEEZE!!   His own uncle won't hire him.

After my husband and I hit the roof and lengthy discussion we decided not to kick him out of the house.   We haven't given up on him.  We just need to convince him not to give up on himself.  The men in the family have all put a piss poor effort into High School.  Then gave college a sniff and joined the military.  All the men have done great and some even graduated from college later.  My son is dead set against going into the military.  We discussed with him that his options are getting narrower and narrower.

Anyhow his plan he proposed to us was to keep looking for a job this semester.  Get back into school in January.  With the job he's going to get pay us back for all the money we paid for him to go to school last semester and fail.  Until he gets a job he said he'll be my "man servant."  I prefer to call him my "house elf."

One morning he asked me if I'd like waffles for breakfast.  Wow that sounded great.  Yes please.  He was dressed to go out to an interview.  So, he threw on my apron to protect his clothes.  I had to chuckle and take a picture.  He was truly looking like my man servant.  

Never Thought It Would Happen

My poodle Little Star is 7 years old.  Will be 8 in a month.  She's the most darling thing until you get her in a car.  She's just never been a good car rider.  She whines, pants, barks, patty cakes, occasionally sits, but never lays down and goes to sleep.  All my other dogs would get in the car find a comfortable spot and go to sleep.  Some how they'd sense we were near our destination and they'd wake up and be ready to get out of the car. 

The first few years I think Little Star would know we were close to our destination by the sheer desperation sweat coming from our every pour.  We would be so stressed out from her anxiousness.  Didn't matter if the trip was 30 minutes or 3 hours.  She's barking the kids are yelling.  We're yelling and the dog is SO whiney.  Not her fault I'm sure, but what did we do wrong this time around?

She sits in the back seat with the kids, so it's been their job to keep her at least quiet.  Also their job to keep her from patty caking the back of my driving arm with her dagger sharp poodle nails.  I'm the driver for the most part.  Years ago I had a neck injury and the pain from it coupled with my already in place motion sickness just made it easier on me if I did all the driving.

Little Star hasn't experienced riding with me in a car when I'm not driving.  A couple years ago I tried riding in the back seat and about 30 minutes later I cried UNCLE.  Dear hubby pulled over and let me drive.  I was SO sick I just felt awful the whole rest of the 3 hour trip.

Well, this past labor day weekend I don't know what got into me, but I decided to give it another try.  This time around I swore I'd make sure I did no reading and look out the front window as much as I could.  I don't know what was different this time, but I felt great.

Then something happened that made us all relax.  Little Star did a few scratching nest building twirls and laid down and went to sleep.  I guess I didn't dare get sick and disturb this freakish event.  She slept all the way to our destination.  Then she slept all the way back.  I was in the back seat both times.  I am her alpha dog.  Was she afraid to disobey me?  Or was she able to relax and lay down next to me like she does at home?  I'm not sure what it was, but I'm going to try riding in the back seat and do some car training.  Maybe we can stop her anxious behavior.

I've felt so bad for her in the past.  In fact after our Memorial day trip this year I thought maybe I should consider getting her a sedative.  I hate having her so upset, but I hate the idea of drugging her more.  I didn't get her a sedative for this trip, because I figured she's been doing this for years and it hasn't killed her.  I did though get in the back seat to see if it would help.  Surprisingly, it worked GREAT!  To coin and old phrase "A picture is worth a thousand words.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Famous Kit Kat Cake

Believe it or not there is a cake under all that candy. Erik's favorite candy is Kit Kats. I asked what he wanted for his birthday treat and he said surprise me. He's been teasing me all summer to make him a Kit Kat salad. So, I did a search and found this Kit Kat Cake. It was so adorable I knew I had to make one for Erik.

I baked a Devil's Food cake in 2 eight inch cake pans. Then I made the chocolate frosting in the below recipe. Once cake was cooled I sliced the hump off one layer and placed it on my plate. I put a layer of frosting on it. Then I placed the 2nd layer hump up on top of first layer. I thought the hump would help with the shaping of the M&M top. I then frosted the whole cake. Next I began unwrapping and breaking the Kit Kats into 2 piece sections. Someone on the internet suggested putting the Kit Kats in the freezer for cleaner breaks and less finger prints on the candy. I think this would be a good thing to do. Well, for me next time. I bought 2_6 packs of regular sized Kit Kats. Had to open 11 of the packs due to some breakage in the package. I didn't break any they came that way. Normally not a problem as they'd be very tasty. They just weren't pretty.

After placing all Kit Kats on the cake I dipped into my scrapbook stash for a piece of ribbon. I tied a ribbon on which snugged up the Kit Kats, but they didn't seem like they'd have fallen off. Maybe the M&M might force them off. So, I wouldn't skip the ribbon. After ribbon was on I took my 19 oz bag of M&Ms and starting pouring them on. They were sliding to the Kit Kat edge, so I started to press them on all over. Then poured more M&Ms on to hide the frosting. It took about 2/3s of the bag.

I started baking the cake at 7am. Took a shower while it baked. Pulled it out to cool while I went to store for cake decorating supplies and dinner fixings. Made frosting, decorated cake and was done by 10am.

Fast and gorgeous cake. When Erik saw the cake his face just lit up with a giant smile. He started laughing and then said, "You sure did surprise me. That cake is GREAT!"

Erik was VERY pleased with the cake I surprised him with.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

4 ounces (120 grams) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup (150 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups (160 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Frosting: Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until it is light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the chocolate and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is smooth and glossy (about 2 -3 minutes). Frosts about 16 cupcakes

Lynne's Note: I melted chocolate in microwave. This frosting was very soft great for a cupcake. I wanted to frost a cake and added more powdered sugar to make frosting a bit stiffer. DELICIOUS

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Zingy Zig-Zags Earns Respect

Zingy Zig-Zags, yep that's what the pattern is called for this delightful afghan.  I have to admit I don't like it.  I call my afghan Autumn Zigs.  I saw this pattern on the front cover of Leisure Arts book #3818 called "Scrap Afghans for all."  I thought it was just gorgeous.  I never have a bunch of scraps laying around that are of the same weight and size enough to make an afghan.  I just bought some yarn.

I wanted to make mine in colors that would look good in my living room.  My living room is very fallish in theme and color.  Lots of fall colors and leaves every where.  I found some Soft Red Heart yarn in the perfect colors to with the pattern.  I wrote out a list of the colors the afghan called for and the colors I was replacing them with.  Orange with Tangerine, black with chocolate, white with off white, green with leaf, red with paprika, blue with mid blue, pink with grape and yellow with toast.  Yes, that's lots of colors to keep track of and more colors with which I've ever worked.

I needed to devise an organizing system to keep my yarn from turning into a tangled mess and from me losing my mind.  When all of a sudden a box that had come into the house went DING in my head.  I ran out to the garage to grab it before it got recycled.  Once I used my ball winder to turn my skeins into what they call cakes it was perfect.  I keep my size I crochet needle, scissor and reading glasses in the box.  I've also added a copy of the pattern for my own use.  The book was getting beaten up in the box.  I wanted to keep it in good condition in case I wanted to do another pattern later on. 

The project is ready to work at a moments notice.  While it seems very organized and convenient.  It doesn't travel well.  So, I do most of the work at home.  I have taken it into my car while watching and waiting at Cross Country practices.  It is too cumbersome to really say drag into a coffee shop or my guild meetings.

I began the project last fall.  My then 15 year old daughter asked in the beginning stages what I was making.  I told her an afghan.  Her eyebrows shot up and she said, "Wow you've got a long ways to go."  Once I had gotten to the  2 inches wide stage.  Dear Daughter said, "Wow mom your belt is looking great."  I began to explain to her it was an afghan not a belt when I noticed the smirk on her face and knew she was teasing me.  HEY! I said.

When I got to the 8 inched wide stage Dear Daughter said, "That's a great looking scarf mom."  It had been about month since it was 2 inches wide.  I began to explain to her it was an afghan not a scarf when I noticed the smirk on her face.  HEY! She got me again.

Now it's about 1 1/2 feet wide and covers my legs.  I haven't heard any more comments from the peanut gallery.  I think it's gained some respect in the afghan world.