Monday, July 28, 2008


1. As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I had together, or one of the first memories you have of me. It doesn't matter if you knew me a little or a lot, anything you remember!

2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. If you leave a memory about me, I'll assume you're playing the game and I'll come to your blog and leave one about you.

Happy Memories!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Culinary School

When I was about 10 years old my parents decided it was time my sisters and I learn how to cook. We were each given a dinner night and were to choose a different recipe to make each week. It was our job to make sure we planned the dinner and got all the ingredients at the store. There was sure to be some not so tasty meals, but the rule was that everybody had to eat what was made and there was no complaining.

I don't remember Corinne having any disasters, though Annie and I both had our fair share. Tuna casserole was my first mishap. My only error was that I followed the recipe a little too closely. It never told me to drain the macaroni noodles after I cooked them, so of course I just dumped the whole pot, water and all, into the casserole dish with all the other ingredients. It ended up tasting ok but it was a runny mess. Yuck.

My second disaster was lasagna and it is still talked about to this day. I still have no idea what I did wrong, but somehow the lasagna turned out a bit runny and all the cheese separated into little clumps. It looked really gross. I have to give my parents credit though, they stuck to the rules and ate it.

One time during the summer I decided to make chocolate chip cookies. By the time I had made the dough I didn't feel like going through the trouble of making all the individual cookies and cooking all the batches one at a time, so I thought I'd just make one big cookie instead. I had no idea how long it would take to bake so I figured I'd just check on the cookie every so often and see how it was coming along. Big mistake. I got distracted cleaning the house or something and completely forgot about the cookie until I started to smell burning. I ran back into the kitchen and opened to oven door to find a giant smoking black mass on the pan. The cookie was toast and now the house stunk like burnt food. That wouldn't have been so bad except for the fact that my dad was having people over in a couple hours so we had to frantically try to air out the house before he got home.

Another time Annie and I tried to make churros using a boxed mix.
We needed to fry the churros in oil so I put a skillet of oil on the stove and cranked it up to "high" to heat it up fast. While the oil was heating up we made the churro batter. Well, after a few minutes I turned around to check on the oil to see how it was coming along and noticed that it had started smoking. I decided I should maybe turn down the heat a bit and just after I did so, the pan burst into flames. There were huge flames at least a foot high licking the bottom of the microwave mounted above the stove and I stood there for a moment panicking. I imagined the flames catching onto the wall and quickly spreading throughout the kitchen and then to the rest of the house. My family was going to be homeless and it would be all my fault. My brain slowly began to think straight and I tried to find a lid to smother the flames but we didn't have a lid big enough and all the flames kept shooting out the sides. I thought of the 30 year old fire extinguisher down in the closet and told Annie to run and get it. Luckily she was quicker on her feet than me and knew to dump baking soda on it. She found the orange box in the cupboard and doused the flames with the white powder. To my relief the flames went away and the microwave hadn't been damaged. However, the house was filled with smoke so we opened all the doors and windows to try to get rid of it. The neighbor across the street saw the smoke pouring out the front door and asked if we were ok. We sheepishly told her that indeed we were ok and then proceeded to dump the churro batter down the drain. I am still very paranoid when it comes to cooking with oil.

(ok maybe this picture is a bit of an exaggeration)

Annie had a couple cooking mishaps as well. She and her friend Christina decided to make cupcakes using a boxed cake mix one day. When neither of them could find the recipe for the cake (staring at them on the back of the box...) they decided to make another recipe they'd found on the side of the box and just take out the ingredients they felt weren't necessary. The result was a muffin pan full of what I dubbed "crater muffins." I actually tasted one and though it didn't taste bad, the cupcakes did look terrible. Annie hid the pan of crater muffins under her bed for the next month or so, afraid she would get in trouble. I continue to tease her about those cupcakes to this day.

The most purposefully negligent cooking disaster goes to Annie. Once again she and Christina were cooking together and Annie decided it would be fun to be Betty Crocker for the day and make up her own recipe. The recipe ended up consisting of just about every canned ingredient in the pantry (olives, clams, tuna, spaghetti o's, etc.) all blended up into a delicious smoothie. Upon coming home my dad was pretty ticked at all the food she'd wasted and proceeded to make her drink some of her creation. Thankfully the rest of the family wasn't punished with a sampling as well.

We did receive some real cooking lessons over the years. We had always helped/watched Mom cook so we had a small foundation to build on. Annie and I were in 4H for a year or two and during that time we learned how to properly measure dry ingredients such as flour and brown sugar, as well as liquid ingredients. We learned not to stir the muffin mix too much or the muffins would end up with peaks instead of nicely rounded tops. I still remember those lessons and use them all the time. My Grandma Holley taught me how to brown hamburger when she and my grandpa were staying with us. It seems funny to me now that I didn't know what it meant to brown hamburger, but the only way to learn how to cook is to learn the basics first I guess.

The good news is that all three of us girls eventually learned how to cook and actually like it for the most part. We all learned from our mistakes and continue to do so. I haven't made anything inedible or even that tasted bad for I don't know how long. Although I may not make gourmet meals every night, I'm grateful that my parents saw cooking as an important skill and made it a priority to teach me how.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


They say a "phobia" is an irrational fear of something. My fear of spiders is not irrational... they really are out to get me. And no, they're not "just spiders", they are highly intelligent and are conspiring against me, plotting to bring me down.

Lately these little buggers have really hunkered down and I can tell they're getting serious. I think they got really pissed off when I wrote about spiders in my "things that must go" blog entry. Soon after I'd written that they launched a surprise attack that lasted for several days.

Seth and I were lying in bed one night, trying to go to sleep, when I felt a little tickle on my shoulder. 99% of the time when this happens I figure it's just my skin feeling buggy or a strand of hair, so I brushed my shoulder and waited just to make sure it went away. Not only did the tickle not go away, I felt it go back up across my chest... there was something on me! I screamed and grabbed at my chest latching onto something about the size of a large pea. I sat up and threw it off and started brushing off the sheets in a panic. Seth, thinking I was having a bad dream, grabbed me and said "it's OK!" but I was like, "No! There was a bug on me!"

I didn't see whatever had been crawling on me, even after looking around the room the next day, but I knew it would turn up sooner or later. I was no longer safe in my own home and continued to feel as though there were bugs crawling on me throughout the week.

Because of my fear of spiders, my mind is unconsciously on continuous lookout for them. I call it my spider radar, because usually if there is a visible spider in the room, I'll see it. Growing up the rule was that if you saw the spider you had to kill it. This presented a problem for me as I was ALWAYS the one to see them. I came up with multiple inventions to try and kill them from a distance including a telescoping pole with a paper towel on the end, spraying them with strong bathroom cleaner or just plain stomping on them. I WILL NOT simply grab a spider with a tissue and throw it in the trash. I know for a fact that if I do this, the spider will jump on me as I'm about to grab it. Or, as has happened before, I'd squish the spider in a tissue and check to make sure it was dead only to have it start to crawl out after me. My sisters always thought my fear of spiders was funny, so they never helped me out. I'd beg them to kill the spiders for me and they'd tell me to do it myself, which they knew that I always would. I could never just let a spider go, otherwise he'd disappear in the house somewhere and pop up on my towel or something. There is nothing more frightening to me than an escaped spider.

So, a couple nights after the bed bug fiasco I decided to take a nice bath and read before going to bed. After I was done, I dried off and headed back to the bedroom to get dressed for bed. There it was up high on the wall, guarding the closet. I quickly scanned the size of it's body and realized that this little spider was the one that'd run across my chest just a couple days earlier. I stood there frozen in fear, hair bristling on the back of my neck, goosebumps covering my skin from head to toe. Here I was faced with the one spider that I had vowed my revenge on and I was naked and helpless. I couldn't even get into the closet to get dressed first because he was blocking it. If I sprayed him with a strong cleaner, he'd definitely fall behind the large boxes that were directly below him and scurry into the closet to wait for me in a pair of shoes.

I was on the verge of burning the place down when an idea flashed into my head... the vacuum!!! It was genius! My treasured super suction Dyson vacuum with the extra long telescoping wand would demolish this little bastard! I quickly ran down the hall into the living room where the vacuum was ready and waiting. Like lightening I dragged the vacuum down the hall and stopped in front of the bedroom door to get the wand ready. My eyes flashed back to look at the power cord to make sure it was still plugged in... it was... spider here I come! Slowly I pulled the vacuum behind me as I went back into the bedroom... the spider was still in position. I raised the wand up until it was just inches away from his black hairy body and then WHAM! I slammed the power button on and my nemesis was sucked into a dusty whirling grave.

Still skeptical that the spider was dead, I made sure to run the vacuum over the entire apartment sucking up big chunks of dirt that were sure to pummel him on their way into the canister. As a final piece of insurance I emptied the canister into the trash and sprayed down the spoils with the strongest cleaner I had.

Those spiders started to panic when they found out I was moving out of that apartment before they could kill me. On the last day of my move, they sent in the Green Beret. I was doing a last check for small items when I opened the door to the bedroom. There on the end of the bare mattress was a giant wolf spider. He started to hide, but it was too late... he'd been spotted. He had hoped to make a permanent hiding spot out of my bed so he could crawl on me and get me while I was sleeping, but he'd gotten sloppy and now his cover was blown. Immediately my mind turned again to my super spider sucking vacuum. In one fell swoop I had the wand out and my trigger finger slammed down the power button. DIE!!! Up the vacuum he went to join his other buddy in the spider graveyard. Once again I ran the vacuum for several minutes to drain the life out of him and then sprayed the canister contents with a strong cleaner. Take that damn spiders! See you in hell!


Maybe I'm just not old enough yet, but I still look forward to my birthdays. I don't think it's necessarily the presents that I like, just the notion that it's my own special day. People are just nicer to you on your birthday and you get to be center stage without any effort on your part. Plus you usually get at least one card in the mail that isn't a bill.

Acquaintances usually don't know when my birthday is, but if you're somewhat close to me, I won't let you forget. My reminders may start up to eleven months in advance and include an obscure pop quiz such as "Do you know what today is?" This question is always asked on the 23rd of whatever month it is. I like to ask the question with a tone that makes the person (usually Seth) think that the date is very important and they should know that of course today is exactly say, ten months until my birthday. Seth has gotten pretty good at remembering this trick quiz and usually guesses right on the first try. I also use this pop quiz as a time to ask if my victim has started saving up for my huge present.

Of course all of these non-chalant plugs for my birthday are done in jest, but for the record, nobody ever forgets my birthday.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Open Road

My family never played "Slug Bug" or "Punch Buggy"... we played "I Spy." "I Spy" was a bit tamer than those other games as there was no punching involved. The normal rules of the game were that you said "I spy" for every "bug" you saw. You don't see the old VW Beetles much anymore, but when I was a kid they were still pretty common.

We changed the game up a bit sometimes to include more types of vehicles than just bugs. Quite often we would add Jeeps. I ruled at spotting Jeeps. I thought they were pretty distinctive but Corinne and Annie never quite got it. They'd always spy Suzuki's or other random SUVs. When we were doing a lot of freeway driving we'd also add semi trucks. It couldn't just be a big truck, it had to be an actual 18 wheeler semi truck. Those were a little harder to tell apart from the smaller trucks at a distance. The rule was that if you spied something that wasn't a bug, Jeep, or semi, you got docked a point. The good news was that in our neighborhood there were a few known bugs and Jeeps so those were freebies to whoever could yell out "I spy!" the fastest.

My family went on a lot of short road trips so we had plenty of time to be bored. Half the time the boredom would start while we were waiting out in the car in the garage for mom to find her keys, glasses, and/or purse. We'd take turns sitting in the driver's seat pretending to drive and start out with the line "Ok, tell me when I'm gonna crash!" We'd move the steering wheel back and forth while someone yelled, "Look out for that tree!" or "Watch out for that wall!" It was amazing how many trees and garage walls we almost hit.

Just after Corinne got engaged, Annie and I went on a road trip with my parents to Oregon. It seemed like we were in the car the entire time winding through thick forested mountains. We got so bored on that trip that we made a travel video using a gummi lifesaver as the talking tour guide... it was pretty sad.

Annie's favorite road trip game was to see if she could visit every single restroom along the trip route. If she ever missed one, my mom would take up the slack. I'm sure road trips were one of those times when my dad had really wished for a car full of boys. At least that way he wouldn't have had to find a restroom every ten miles. Just let a boy out to pee on the tire and you're on your way.

My family has always been big on trivia games and this was no different in the car. We had a set of brain teaser question cards that my mom would read to us to see how smart we were. My dad also had a set of brain teaser questions, but he just pulled them out of his head. His questions usually went like this... "Hey you birds, what is that building over there?" "The power company!" "A storage unit!" "I don't know..." we'd say. "Come on you guys! Use your deductive reasoning! We're out in the desert and there's sage brush over by that barbed wire fence. That clearly means that that building is an airplane hangar for WWII replica planes." How he knew what all of these things were was a mystery. He was always surprised to find that none of us ever knew the answer to these questions. Sometimes we'd get a little more creative and give more obscure answers. "Hey you kids, what's that smokey stuff coming out of those big chimneys?" he would ask. "Coal smoke from the mine!" "Mustard gas chemicals seeping from a storage tank!" "Somebody making a campfire!" we'd guess. "No! Come on! You can clearly tell from the way it's rising and from the white color that it's steam!" "Oh."

I don't think we ever knew the answer to any of Dad's questions. We preferred to stick with Mom's question cards that asked things like, "What was the name of the third President of the United States?" or "What is the speed of light"... you know, things we actually had a chance of guessing right.

Monday, July 7, 2008

What's For Dinner?

I'm sure every kid complains about what they're having for dinner at some point. I think it was mainly Annie who complained about the various meals we had, but we all did so at one time or another. My parents were able to find a cure for the whining, and before dinner one evening, they sat us down and told us what it was.... Sardines.

I don't care who you are, sardines in a can look disgusting... stinky little fish covered in oily goo. The new house rule was that if anybody complained about what we were eating, they had to eat sardines. My dad actually chose to eat sardines on a regular basis, so there was always a can or two waiting for us down in the food storage room. Because we liked to torture each other as often as possible, my sisters and I were constantly on guard, ready to tell on each other should we hear any complaining that hadn't reached our parents' ears.

We all ended up having to eat sardines at least a couple times, but I think that Annie and Corinne hated it more than I did. I've always liked fish and to me sardines tasted a lot like tuna. Annie and Corinne weren't too thrilled with the thought of eating fish under normal circumstances and sardines were 100 times worse as far as they could tell. They'd lay the sardines out onto a piece of bread and eat it as a sandwich, gagging and fighting back tears with each bite.

My dad ended up changing the food that was used as punishment after a little while because he said we liked the sardines too much. Once again the new punishment was revealed as dinner was being prepared one night... pickled pigs feet. My dad brought out a glass jar full of them, and we took turns passing the jar around to inspect the little nasty looking hooves.

From that day on, nobody ever complained again. That jar of pickled pigs feet is still sitting down in the food storage room, covered in dust, just waiting for someone to complain.