Jul 31, 2010

Four Eyes.

So, after 3 eye doctor appointments, one with a new specialist, I got new glasses this month.  FIVE pair!  Or is it pairs?  Anyway, I got a "free" pair by using a coupon at one doctor but had to choose from the "Medicaid - Medicare - Coupon" selection since I had a coupon.  I wasn't thrilled with them.  Once my other appointments were done, I came home and went shopping online.  Let me add now that for the first time since I was 13, I made the difficult but necessary decision to lose the contacts and exclusively wear glasses so what they look like has become much more important to me.  Let's face it, though...money is tight for many people and glasses are terribly expensive unless you have vision insurance, which I do not. A year or so ago I bought some glasses from zennioptical.com and while I was fine with their service, their quality on their cheapie frames was somewhat...well, cheap.  For the price, though?  A great deal.  I'm not telling you to not use them at all...just don't expect $200 frames for $8.00 from here.  Plus, when I ordered from Zenni, I made a huge mistake in not measuring everything on a pair of glasses I already liked and comparing the measurements. I wound up with several pairs of glasses too small for my face, but that was my fault.  That said, I did get a pair of prescription sunglasses from them that look a lot like Ray-Bans and are very sturdy and very nicely made.  I love them muchly and wear them nearly every day.  This time, though,  I did a search on SlickDeals for eyeglass deals and found a buy1get1 sale at  eyebuydirect.com.  It's over now but don't let that deter you...their prices are still amazing. So, I get my new coupon glasses that, while ugly, are a good height and width for my face and I measure the hell out of them.  Then I spend 2 days shopping and finally decide on 4 pair (s?), 3 normal, single vision ones and 1 pair of prescription sunglasses. My entire order came to just over $26, shipped.  For 4 pair(s...whatever).   I figured if I got just one pair I loved, I got a great deal.  Anything more than that was icing on the cake.  I'll add here that I did nothing but single vision lenses...no scratch coating, no superthin plastic.  Bare-bones but for the one pair I had tinted.  It took nearly 2 weeks for them to arrive but when they did, I was excited and worried both!

Here is how they come packaged.  I ripped the shrinkwrap partially off in my excitement before I remembered I should take pictures.  Heh.  It was like Christmas and once again, I was 12.
Each pair comes in a very sturdy hard, clear case that has some padding and the blue cloth with water droplets is actually a lens cleaning cloth.  Nice touch, although Zenni does the same...it's just not as cute.
Ahhh, my first pair and I knew the moment I opened the case I was in business.  Loved them.  Well made, don't look cheap....yay!   Me and my Kodak EasyShare don't take the best pictures ever but they are coffee colored metal frames and far, far nicer in quality than I expected for a pair of $7.95 glasses (and yes, that's both the frame and the lenses). They are amazingly sturdy and just plainly pretty for being glasses.  I knew at this point that if I hated every other pair, it was okay.
And so, accordingly, I pretty much hated this next pair.  I'd wanted blue frames for ages but this blue is so dark you can't really see they are blue.  Then the earpieces are silver, my mistake for not noticing that part, and very, very thin. My lenses are so heavy that these thin, flimsy earpieces make the glasses unsteady on me.  These will be donated.  With some trepidation, I open the next box...my next two are the identical frames, violet metal half-frames, but one pair with dark tinted purple lenses.
Check 'em out!  Love 'em!  These are a bit bigger than the coffee colored ones but not at all overpowering...I wish I could make the color of the metal show up better, too.  It's such a pretty deep purple and I'm not normally a purple fan but it seemed like a good idea and in the end, it was.  I love these as much as the coffee colored ones.  And that leaves the last box...the sunglasses. Let me tell you, I debated long and hard about purple lenses but in the end, I decided to go for it.  And go for it, I did.
I know, I laughed, too.  It's okay.  I put them on and laughed even harder.  Jake tried them on and laughed.  They certainly are purple.  See?
Just so you know, unless you're into the hippy trippy thing, stick with gray or maybe brown.  But here's my confession...I love them.  I mean I *really love them.  I don't often wear things that really attract attention and oddly, these do.  People comment.  Me?  I just love how everything is purple...lol.   These alone are worth the entire cost and the fact I also love (but with slightly less passion since they have clear lenses) 2 of the other 3?  I feel a bit like I just won the Poor Vision Lottery.

So, are you intrigued?  Thinking of ordering some yourself?  Here's a few things you should know:  You do need a prescription but it doesn't have to be current.  They will not check with your doctor.  You will be happiest if you take a pair of glasses or sunglasses you already have and like and then measure the hell out of them.  A cloth tape measure works best for this but a ruler will do and it needs to have metric measurements.  On glasses you already know you like the size of, measure each lens from top to bottom, then again side to side from widest points.  Then, measure the frame itself from hinge to hinge.  Jot all this down in metric.  The other measurement you need, since I just know everyone is going to rush to order eyeglasses online after reading this post *grins*, is your pupillary distance.  Some eye doctors won't give it to you but you can measure your own.  Here's a good video and it's very easy with a little help, a bit harder but still doable alone. How to Measure Your Pupillary Distance (PD)  Lastly, really look at the pictures closely.  Look for details you may hate but that aren't terribly obvious by glancing, like rhinestones on the earpieces (almost made that mistake) or other oddities.  And the last thing I'll mention is how easy it is to adjust them once they arrive.  Trust me, it really is easy.  Let hot tap water run over parts you need to bend and then do it bit by bit, gently.  Be gentle and they will not break.  If the left side seems low, for example, bend the left side earpiece down.  That seems opposite of what you should do but trust me on that - it will raise the lens area up.  Once the glasses are level, gently bend the nose pieces to a comfortable position if yours have adjustable ones.  I promise you, it's easy and nothing to be scared of doing.

I hope this serves as a type of PSA and that someone is able to get some much-needed new glasses out of it.  If so, let me know!  And I know you want my purple sunglasses...who wouldn't?

Jul 22, 2010

Tucker and the casserole dish.

I caught this going on a little earlier and grabbed my camera.   Now, y'all can see what happens and why the dish is where it is.  This is his typical method of eating and it's a good thing he's so stinkin' cute!

I sure do talk about that casserole dish a lot, don't I?  I wonder what that says about me...?

Jul 21, 2010

And the winners are....

First, thanks to everyone for guessing...that was fun and I'm a little sorry I didn't name Bea "Beatrice de Luna"...that's beautiful.  But I know what you're here for so I'll get to it.

The 1st winner is Melissa for "I take back my previous comment-I think that the casserole dish is used as a cat feeding contraption."  See, she's right.  Tucker is a messy, messy eater and unless the food and water are contained, I'll find them pulled off into another room and dumped.  This was the best solution I could find to contain his messiness. 

Now, for Beatrice's middle name.  Well, a kitten like this couldn't have just any old ordinary name, could she?  It had to be special.  Sooooo, congratulations to Bella for being the first to guess her name  is Beatrice Ponce de Leon.  :-) 

I'm not sure how Margaret would prefer to discuss your choices with you  or which emails y'all prefer to use (boy, I was well prepared with info, wasn't I?  *eyeroll*) but y'all can figure it out since you know each other.  Thanks again for playing!

Jul 19, 2010

It's time for a contest!

And this contest is for a great cause!  My sweet friend Margaret is doing something pretty special over at her Etsy shop, Little Heart Shaped Box.  She's donating 100% of the proceeds from any sale to help the Bay Area Food Bank so I bought 3.  I had her send one to me because I'm greedy like that and she's waiting for two of you to let her know which ones you want!  So many people on the Gulf coast are being so horribly affected by this oil spill and they need help.  Food banks are wonderful organizations in times of crisis and this one is no exception.  Plus, I won't deny that Margaret's charms and magnets are adorable and I'm happy to spread the word about her shop for that reason, too!

Okay, okay, the contest...don't rush me.  We're going to have two winners (or possibly just one if one person answers both questions correctly), and the winners can pick an item of their choice from Little Heart Shaped Box.  Here's a picture I snitched off LHSB of a charm and really, how pretty is this?  You can pick whatever you like, though, or magnets if you don't wear jewelry.

To give you an idea of the size, I took a picture of my own next to a quarter.  See?  Not too big, not too small and trust me, these are even prettier than they photograph!

So, what do you have to do to win one?  Or both?  I'm glad you asked. Remember this picture of Beatrice?

I said that there was actually a very good reason this happens often around here and that it's not just that I leave my bakeware out on the counter all the time.  So, for the first win, tell me what you think the reason is that I have a casserole dish on my counter every day or two?  Here's a cryptic hint - it's usually someplace else doing something else.  I do not cook in this particular dish,  I swear!

And for the second win,  guess Beatrice's middle name.  Yes, my cats have middle names, don't yours?  Tucker John, Ginger Kaye, Gina Marie and Beatrice...what?   You'll definitely need a clue for this one so I'll tell you it's also the name of a Spanish explorer.  See?  Easy!

Have fun and remember you can guess both and could possibly win both!  If anyone is dumb enough to actually give a duplicate answer, well...too bad for you, you should have thought this out a little better.  ;-)

PS:  I forgot to mention that the contest will end this Wednesday, the 21st, at noon eastern time.  That's sort of important.  *nods*

Jul 17, 2010

How to cook like Bea and me.

First off, what the hell is wrong with me?  I drive-by post on my own blog and that's just sad, especially when I drive-by with a pity party like that last one was.  Jeeeez.

In the interest of moving onward and upward and just being an all-around more pleasant person, I decided to cook something...interesting. But first off, this is Beatrice, also known as Bea, Bebe, Miss America and before she was spayed, Miss Antsy-Pantsy.   Bea is a character...one of those cats full of personality and quirks.  Many quirks. Lately, she has decided it is fun to cook with me since she gets tastes of good things like mayo and whipped cream.  Mmmm, yeah, whatever.  :-)  This is where she was when I called her to the kitchen and she arranged those pillows herself, thankyouverymuch.

But enough about Miss Bea for now, since she's not what's for dinner.  What is for dinner, you wonder?    Oh, Baby, we've got something special!  And don't mind the date...it's been in the freezer.
Oh, yeeeeeah, beef cheek!  Now, I've never had cheek meat but Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain just rave about it so when I spotted this, I had to have it.  Good price, too,  They carry on about it being such a delicacy and their favorite bit of meat, so how can I go wrong, you wonder?  Well, just you watch.
These were the ingredients for my initial plan, which was to treat it like a pot roast.  We've got the onions, 'taters, carrots, celery and a rutabaga.  I like adding rutabaga in with other root vegetables.  It's such an underrated vegetable, but has such a nice taste and good texture.  Try one, if you never have.  Anyway, there's also some cheap red wine, garlic, salt, pepper and lavender, which is also a very underrated spice in stews and such.  So, ingredients in place?  Check.
Beatrice in place?  Check.  Yes, she's back in the casserole dish.  There's really a very valid reason for this happening often but I'm not going to tell what it is.  It's more fun letting people think I just randomly let my cats sleep in my cookware.  But I know what you're really wanting to see...you want to see what that cheek looks like out of the package, don't you?  Yeah, so did I.
There you go - all spread out and both sides of it.  I'll admit that I was a bit disturbed here and I wasn't a bit bothered by the cow tongue or any other thing I've tried but this?  Just really bothered me.  I think it was because no matter how I arranged it, I could not figure out how it ever fit on a cow's face; I couldn't tell up from down or anything.  However, that did not deter me.
I browned it and let it aside while chopping my vegetables.  It looked better with some browning and I went back about this with some enthusiasm.
Trust me, always use a big knife when you cut up a rutabaga. Unless, of course, you have a thing for EMTs and/or abdominal wounds.
I browned up the celery, onions and garlic in butter, with a lot of salt and pepper.  At this point, I realized there were only 3 onions in the pot but 4 had been out on the counter.  I never did find that other onion. *scratches head*  I began to wonder how long this meat should cook so I ran to look up a recipe online.  I probably should have done that before, but hey, I found a recipe that sounded really good...so good, in fact, that plans changed.
These are the new seasonings - cocoa, cumin, a bit of cayenne and paprika.  A Latin-flavored dish sounds good, doesn't it?  Mmm hmmm.
Once in the pot, a last taste of the broth confirmed that this whole dish was going to be either really good or really bad.  When in doubt about a dish, add some Maggi seasoning to it.  For some reason, that fixes a lot.  Then  it went into a 325 degree oven for 3 hours.  Now, I'm going to share something I probably shouldn't share, but what the hell.  I never use my oven light and knew there was one small dirty spot in my oven, but no big deal.  It happens to the best of us, right?
If you ever want to know what's *really* going on in your oven, take a picture of the inside using your flash.  Yeah.  I'm so ashamed.  But, much like having herpes or something, sometimes you can make others with the same affliction feel better by being the first to admit it, so you're seeing my shame.  And no, I don't have herpes; that was an example. 
Time to make the cornbread!  Hey, I like Jiffy Mix...so what?  Did you know if you add 1/3 cup of sour cream to it while mixing it all up, it makes it really, really good?  Yup, try it!  Now,  here's where you pretend 3 hours have passed. 
Bea had some Doritos and ranch dressing, then went to take a nap in my recliner, wrapped up in her blankie.  It was all so exhausting, what with the whole recipe change and all.  I should have just joined her.
When it came out of the oven, I sorted it out into separate dishes and pretty much knew this wasn't going to be a rousingly successful meal.  Sometimes, you can just tell by looking, even though it did smell nice. That cheek, once sliced?  Was even shinier than it had been.  And really, it was no wonder when you look closer.  Please, enlarge it or you'll always wonder...
Look at the fat in that sucker!  But, weirdly, this made me a bit hopeful.  See, I'm that weird person who just loves the bites of fat on a roast or steak...so I tried a piece.  Mmmmm, it was actually pretty good.  Fatty, but good.  Until I hit that cartilage or whatever it was.  We fixed our plates and Jake managed to choke down about 3 bites before he actually gagged.  It was the texture, "like eating a glob of fat on a sneaker sole", he said.  I suggested he make himself a Hot Pocket and I ate mine.  My whole serving.  In fact, I was thinking that I'd maybe make it again, but using a very different recipe since the whole cocoa and cumin idea pretty well sucked. Not a great success but not a dismal failure.

Cut to about an hour later...I'm watching TV and get hit with a stomach cramp.  I ignored it.  I also ignored the next few, except for some Rolaids.  What I could not ignore was the sudden need to teleport myself to the bathroom since running might not be fast enough.  *sighs*  And I spent most of the rest of the night performing this very activity, leaving me with a very clean and very well greased colon.

I will not be making beef cheek again and do not suggest you make it either, although it could be served to guests you don't like as long as they're going to have a very long ride home that night.

The end.

Jul 2, 2010

Saving love.

Oh, I have sorely neglected this place, haven't I? Well, I just found an email from NaBloPoMo and it made me feel bad I've been such a poor blogger.  I wish I could offer up exciting excuses, like that I've been held in a Cyprian jail cell for smuggling art or something, but alas!  I just suck and am boring to even myself.

July is a bad month for me for many, many reasons.  For the most part, though, it's because everyone I've loved the deepest has died in July.  I hate July...passionately.  As far as I'm concerned, this is the month of death and sadness. A child I loved beyond reason and words died in July.  A father I loved fiercely and who was my other me died in July.  A beautiful, kind man, one of the few truly good people in this world who I was honored to call my best friend, my brother, my family and a true love of a different kind, died in July.
I hate July.

But NaBloPoMo gave me a thump on the head and while I'm technically a day late, it's still July 1st  in Hawaii or somewhere so, aloha and let's get on with it.  The theme is "saved".  I struggled over "saved" a bit and thought about sharing some of my packrat ways but found myself thinking instead of what I have saved in my heart from those I lost.  Many things came to mind and it seemed right to share those, instead.

From the father, I have saved the lack of societal convention and acted on it in his honor.  It's okay to be different.  It's okay to embrace your "oddities" instead of fearing them  or being scared of them. It's okay to be a loner. It's okay to laugh at yourself.  It's okay to rebel. It's okay to be wrong, to apologize, to be a fallible human.

From the child, I have saved in my heart that it's okay to look different, to come from a different background, as long as you know it all comes from love.  As long as you know you came from love, were created with love, and knew unconditional love, that gives you the strength to live and die with peace and knowing it is God's will.

From the best friend, I have saved in my heart that love can come in so many different forms and just because our society doesn't acknowledge them, they are no less valid.  Real love is precious, rare, and brings many unexpected joys when not shunned just because it is different.

I have saved all the love I have been given from those who are gone.  I have known true love, given true love, lost true love, mourned for true love in all of its forms.  And I have saved all of it in my heart.  I am beyond lucky to have that.

PS:  I just saw that the writing prompt for the day is to tell what your favorite movie is.  Well, mine would be either Billy Elliot or To Sir, with Love, followed closely by The Graduate.