Sunday, March 30, 2008

King Corn on PBS

Where did I hear about this? I don't remember. In any event, I'm always interested in hearing about our food supply and such. I have several posts I'm "working on," but to be honest, I have so much information that I just haven't had time to put together a post I'm happy with. It's such an important topic that I really feel I have to do it justice.

That said, King Corn will be airing on PBS this month on a series called Independent Lens.

The website summarizes it like so:
"Two recent college grads discover where America's food comes from when they plant a single acre of corn and follow it from the seed to the dinner plate.

With the help of government subsidies, genetically modified seeds and powerful herbicides, America's most-subsidized crop becomes the staple of its cheapest -- and most troubling -- foods."
And an interview with Michael Pollan from the documentary:
"'Everything on your plate is corn,' Michael Pollan says in KING CORN. The author of In Defense of Food (Penguin, 2008) and The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Penguin, 2006), Pollan can be credited for publicizing the “cornification of America” and the hidden relationships between corn, public health and agricultural policy.

Exposing just how much the industrial food chain accounts for the American diet, Pollan’s writing agitates for a return to actual food—not the highly processed fast food that’s sold these days. But what’s the alternative? Pollan’s answer boils down to seven words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Photoshop Express

Photoshop Express is Adobe's most recent attempt to hook consumers who aren't willing to drop a bundle on their popular Photoshop software.

I haven't tried it yet, but I'm terribly excited to. The thing is, I like taking and sharing pictures, but I'm just not as good at it is I'd like to be. The few great photos I've taken have been merely accidents. I assure you. I can use all of the Photoshop-type help I can get.

Here's what they offer:
"There's nothing sadder than a photo without a home. You hate to see that. Give your photos a free ride with Photoshop Express. just sign up, then start uploading, polishing and showing off up to 2 GB of photos on our dime."
Well...unsettling news: Complaints trigger rewrite of Photoshop Express terms

Specifically, Adobe would be granted "...royalty-free, nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable license to use, distribute, derive revenue or other remuneration from, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Content..." blah blah. That hardly sounds like something I want with my photos.

Well, MetaDaddy's first reaction was "That wasn't Adobe's intention." Something about the aggressive nature of contracts paired with the ever-changing nature of technology allows for misunderstandings. That is, the folks who make the software aren't always in sync with the folks protecting it. He called it a storm in a teacup. Precious, no?

Needless to say, Adobe and their lawyers fixed their little snafu. It's now safe to jump on board again :-D

Friday, March 28, 2008

Chicken Run

I do most of the cooking in the MetaHousehold. For the most part, MetaDaddy gets home too late to really be able to cook anything. It's hard to start a meal from scratch at 6:30 when you've got to get the little critter down by 8:00. That said, there are meals he makes better than me (e.g., fish). And there are those I just really don't want to bother with, but I enjoy eating (e.g., BBQ). So I'll make a side dish and do all of the prep (e.g., chop, marinade) for his portion, he'll cook it when he gets home, and dinner's usually done within 20 minutes of his arrival with minimal stress.

Since I do most of the cooking, I do most of the meal planning as well. I ask for input, but he's pretty blase about it, so most of the selections are mine. Whenever I make something new, I ask for feedback. But I think he keeps it vanilla because he's afraid of hurting my feelings. Well, that whole thing led to the "bland stew crisis of 2006" where he finally broke down and confessed..."I don't really like your stew." I loved my stew bland because I grew up with it, but we found a way to fix the flavor to keep both of us happy. What annoyed me was that I'd made it several times, and each time he just swallowed it. Where's the honesty and communication, man?!? So, I do hope he learned his lesson and shares his opinions. Overall, he might say something here or there, but he's very cautious. Keeps me wondering, I must say.

But I digress. My point is that as the primary cooker and meal planner, the weekly menu is tainted by my palate. Since my palate is currently pregnant, we've been having a lot of chicken. I don't know why, but chicken is really good these days. And I don't mean the plastic chicken with the fake grill marks you find in mediocre salads. I want the tender, juicy chicken loaded with flavor and salt. You don't need gravy if the chicken is nice and moist. And don't you think you're keeping the skin away from me because I will hunt you down and take it back. The skin is arguably the best part.

So Tuesday, I had a chicken lunch from my favorite chicken restaurant California Chicken Cafe. Yesterday, I made a roast chicken cooked in a variety of vegetables. And today, after my chicken leftovers for lunch, I made spicy chicken drumsticks, courtesy of Simply Recipes.

I included our roasted chicken recipe below because we love the recipe, and I know some people are scared roasting a whole chicken. I know because I used to be one of those people not long ago. That recipe used to be exclusively MetaDaddy's, but it takes too long for him to make during the week, so I reluctantly took over. And honestly, it's not that bad :-)

As for the spicy chicken drumsticks, I found that recipe because I bought some drumsticks at Trader Joe's this week. Since I prefer to buy chicken that hasn't been chemically treated (e.g., antibiotics, etc.), I tend to pay more on average. Most people prefer white meat, so dark meat tends to be exceptionally inexpensive by comparison. Drumsticks were only 99 cents per pound, so I figured I'd try them out and see what happened. I went in search of a recipe, and voila! Jerk chicken with lots of flavor and kick (as much as you can handle ;-). It's quick and easy...I'd say about 40 minutes all in, including the 5 extra minutes we needed to finish the chicken.

On that note, a 4.25 pound organic chicken with farmers' market vegetables of cauliflower, wee potatoes, carrots, white beets gave us 6 portions for about $20 (~$3.33/portion). The drumsticks with a leftover salad served 2 and came to about $2.50 per portion. Interestingly, not that big a difference despite the fact that pound for pound, the whole chicken was more expensive than the drumsticks. So if you're looking to save a buck in these days of inflation, consider your recipes as well as your per ingredient cost.

Roast Chicken

The roast chicken used to intimidate me, and occasionally still does. I use gloves because I still can't manage the thought of touching a whole dead animal. I don't know why, but it's harder than touching it if it's in parts (e.g., leg, breast). I think the reality of it all is still too much for this city girl. The lemon makes the chicken insanely moist, and the paprika gives the skin beautiful golden color, as well as a nice flavor enhancer.

As for the vegetables, I change it up depending on what's in season at the farmers' market. Cauliflower, beets, potatoes, carrots, leeks, fennel, jerusalem artichokes, and so on. I lightly coat them in olive oil and add them as the chicken cooks. For example, if the veg needs 30 minutes to cook, I add them when 30 minutes remain for the chicken. Couldn't be easier.

1 chicken
1 lemon, halved
4-5 cloves of unpeeled garlic
olive oil
2 onions, cut into segments

Preheat oven to 400F.

Get out your roasting pan and cover it in foil to avoid clean up. Unwrap the chicken and rinse with water in and out. Pat dry and set in the pan breast-side down. Drizzle on some olive oil and rub in. Sprinkle on some salt and paprika. Put the garlic and lemon inside the bird. Disperse the onion segments around the chicken and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Put in the oven for 15 minutes per pound, plus 10 for good measure (e.g., 5 pound chicken = 85 minutes = 1 hour 25 minutes).

Add vegetables as desired. When 30 minutes remain, turn the chicken over (should now be breast-side up) and sprinkle on some salt and paprika. Put back in the oven to finish.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

So, Who's the Potty Mouth?

This story was too funny to not share.

Have you ever worried about what expletive your kid might come out with? My mother-in-law shared a story that when her daughter was young (very young), she came out one day with "ammit!" while stomping her feet, and it was in perfect context. A few other friends have similar stories, all of which have definitely made me try to watch my occasional potty mouth around MetaToddler (note: when I'm tired, hungry or late, I never know what I'm going to say...unfortunately, these days I'm usually one of those three). Fortunately, I know a few potty phrases in Spanish, which MetaDaddy finds hilarious. It can be a very reverse Lucy & Ricky dynamic at the MetaHome.

So if you're interested, amused, or scared by the thought of your precious little angel cursing up a storm, an article from NPR to entertain and inform: Why Kids Curse.

A couple of excerpts not to be missed.
Max asked in a hushed voice: "Dad, do you know what the worst swear word of all is?"

His son then went on to explain that "damn" must be the worst. When Bloom asked why, his son said, "I listen to my babysitter talk on the phone, and she uses the 'f' word, and the 's' word, but she never says 'damn!'"
And something to set the delusional parent straight:
As an experiment with his children, Bloom and his wife tried their hand at creating their own family curse words.

"So one of them was 'flep,'" says Bloom. Whenever someone would bang their foot or hurt their toe, they'd scream "flep" as if it were an obscenity.

The experiment was very short-lived.

"It was a total failure," says Bloom. "The children looked at us as if we were crazy."

The story gives one of Bloom's mentors, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, a chuckle.

"Children are far more influenced by peers," says Pinker. "That's why kids of immigrants end up with the accent of their peer group rather than their parents."
Back to the drawing board, I suppose. Blurg!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Boston for Easter

Give me an inch, and I take a mile. It feels like I haven't posted in months!

So, Boston was great. We saw MetaDaddy's sister, her husband, their 5 year old daughter (Cousin L), 18 month old son (Cousin E), and feisty pug. Unfortunately, Cousin L was a bit under the weather with pink eye. She got better, but was pretty miserable until the day we left. Sucks for a 5 year old who wants nothing more than to run around and play. The 18 month old had a runny nose, but that's hardly enough to keep a kid strapped down. With MetaToddler there, they were quite the pair. Running around the house, sharing sippy cups (yes, he has a runny nose now), chatting to each other, "sharing" toys, and so on. Sharing toys was entertaining because Cousin E is really easy going, while MetaToddler is rather grabby. So, MetaToddler kept taking cousin E's stuff. I say stuff because it was toys, sippy cups, food, everything. He did it innocently enough, and Cousin E didn't resist. But upon realizing he'd been duped, MetaToddler was halfway down the hall, and the tears would start to roll. Not every time, mind you, but enough.

And then we had an Easter egg hunt. Who knew kids could get so excited over chocolate?!? Personally, I didn't know about putting stuff like toys and chocolate in plastic eggs. When I was a kid, we actually looked for hard boiled eggs. Aw well, at least MetaToddler won't be deprived. My sister-in-law did a great job. She "invited" the Easter Bunny over so it could "hide" eggs everywhere. Then the kids just started hunting. Cousin L was a pro, but the boys were just wandering around amusing themselves until someone said "look, an egg. Let's open it and see what's inside!" The hiding part was hilarious. Apparently at that age, hiding means leaving the egg on the windowsill, in the corner of a sofa, or under a table. It's a good thing the Easter Bunny was managing this instead of me. Otherwise, we might still be looking for the last few eggs.

Overall, he had a marvelous time, so the trip was well worth the inconvenience of travel and jet lag. However, traveling with one toddler is tough. Between having to entertain, feed, and distract him, there was no time to rest. Maybe I've said it before, but I couldn't imagine doing the trip without MetaDaddy. And I say that because his sister has traveled many times with her toddler to Ireland from their former home in San Jose, California. And now, she's traveling from Boston to Ireland (shorter flight), but with a toddler and a 5 year old. OMG!!! I don't know how she does it. Just...OMG!!

We were also lucky enough to get to see our friends. We haven't seen them in ages, and it was wonderful catching up with them and getting to see Ellie. She's grown so much since we last saw her. All three are doing so well, it's inspiring. Dave forged a garden out of nothing in their backyard, and has managed to keep them eating well all winter (salads included!). He's also become quite the handyman doing some truly impressive projects around their house. And Kathryn wrote a book, all the while maintaining her always beautiful flowing locks. (I've actually forgotten to brush my hair before going out some mornings. Seriously.) Oh, and they maintain careers while working with Ellie non-stop. Need I say more? They make me feel like I'm moving in slow motion. In fact, I could take a nap right now.

Ellie's gorgeous, and you just can't help was stare at that beautiful little ponytail. It's just perfectly bouncy, just like her. A happy little girl :-)

So we're back. I hope you had a lovely holiday, if you celebrated. And if you didn't, I hope you had a lovely weekend. Either works ;-)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

On the Road Again: Boston

So, what better time to go on a trip than when the following sync up:
  • 19 weeks pregnant
  • occasional morning sickness
  • the start of what will be 4-5 months of unyielding back pain
  • a rowdy toddler
  • a MetaDaddy who thinks said toddler won't run away from us in the airport
  • uncooperative TSA
  • an overburdened airline system (not that it's not their fault...I'm just saying)
But hey, it's Easter. So we're going to visit family in Boston and expose MetaToddler to the joys of cousins. Cousins and a holiday that has become rooted in chocolate. What more could he ask for?

For the flight, bought some nifty flashcards that come on a loop which will hopefully provide more entertainment than a book. Downloaded some Blue's Clues and Sesame Street on iTunes for the iPod. We'll see how that goes. I suspect not well, but we'll take what we can get.

So it's all good. We'll have fun. Posting might be light, but should be back on track next week.

Have a great Easter!

L.A. Mag's March Madness

If you know Los Angeles, you might have some opinions on your turf.

Spit it out, people!!

Los Angeles Magazine's doing a March Madness of their own (dude, seriously...why is everyone hoping on this MM bandwagon?!?). But ya, you can vote in round two through March 24 (that's Monday). Ya, ya, I missed round one, but well...whatever :-)

What's being voted on? Deets

No Snorgles Here

These are precious, but if we got one, MetaToddler would probably just try to eat it. I'mm just saying. Crazy cute, though!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

MetaDaddy's Confession

"Oh, ya. He definitely got that from me"

"Say what?!?"

So, MetaDaddy recently admits in an "oh, didn't I tell you" way that he was a bit of a climber as a kid. Something about scaling walls and walking on really narrow ledges. Hardy-har-har...jokes on me, it seems.

MetaDaddy: Oh, didn't I mention that?
MetaMommy: Uh, no. I'm pretty sure I would have remembered picturing my child scaling walls and falling out of trees.
MetaDaddy: Oh well.

Soooooo, guess who's a climber.
Is it me? No.
Is it...the neighbor's dog? Don't care.
Is it MetaToddler? Yes.

I signed him up for a little gymnastics class. At first, he loved the trampoline. He was giddy with delight when he got on it, though he was having a hard time understanding the concept of jumping. The next time, he couldn't have cared less. He didn't even want to get on the trampoline. That's when the climbing started. Running away from me and climbing up and over things. He loves, loves, loves the balance beam now. He still needs a bit of help from me every now and then because he inevitably loses focus and topples. But for the most part, he does pretty well. I'd have taken pictures, but have you ever tried taking pictures of a toddler in motion?

This does not bode well for my nerves.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Starbucks Struggling for Sales

Howard Schultz built Starbucks from the ground up, left, and is back again. What's he doing? In an attempt to prevent a further decline in sales, he's considering a loyalty program. Something along the lines of free coffees or discounts to customers who use prepaid Starbucks Cards.


They might also consider...drumroll please...wait for it...hold your breath...dropping prices! Well, lowering prices on food and drink combinations. Eh, it's a start.

Bloomberg via L.A. Eater

Monday, March 17, 2008

Toddler Oddities: Food

One of his most recent inclinations is to play with and suck on lemon pulp. One day, he was whining that he wanted what I had. Well, I had just squeezed the juice from a lemon, so I have him a taste. He winced, and proceeded to ask for more. So I gave him the lemon half. He played with it for no less than 10-15 minutes. (Non-toddler parents may be thinking "pssshhht...10 minutes? Whatever." But those who know...know the miracle of 10 minutes.)

Sunday at dinner, I served a lemon wedge for the asparagus. After squeezing it on, MetaDaddy gave it to MetaToddler, though mostly to elicit amusing facial expressions. Instead, much to MetaDaddy's dismay, the kid seemed to enjoy it. In fact, he started a game where he put the lemon wedge in MetaDaddy's mouth for seconds at a time, and I nearly fell over laughing at the cringe. Oh, how his devious plan failed.

So, MetaToddler not only doesn't mind lemon, he seems to like it. This goes along with my affinity for the fruit. Since childhood, I've loved eating lemons. It's terrible for your teeth (wears away the enamel), but it's oh so mouth watering...mmm...

Besides the big eyes, he's definitely ma boy :-D

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Cat Humor: Simon's Cat

I suspect even people who have never had a cat will laugh out loud at these animations. But if you know what cats are like, it might bring you to tears.

Simon's Cat "Cat Man Do"

Simon's Cat "Let Me In!"

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Around the Internet: Food

Advice changes for preventing baby allergies - The most recent advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding food allergies. Turns out, its not all parents' fault.
"Breast-feeding helps prevent babies’ allergies, but there’s no good evidence for avoiding certain foods during pregnancy, using soy formula or delaying introduction of solid foods beyond six months."
Maple Bacon Lollipops via Daily Candy - They're made from organic, sustainable, cured bacon and organic Vermont maple syrup. The only catch in my book? It's a maple-bacon lollipop. Ewww!!

Does Grease Taste Nicer at Feng Shui McDonald's? - You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig. I'm just saying.

Ben & Jerry's - They're fighting to label their products rBGH free (Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone). I don't know about you, but I want to know where my food comes from, and how much chemical treatment it's received. If you like knowing that your that your dairy products are rBGH free, help voice your concern on the issue of allowing producers to label their products as such.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Weening MetaMommy

I nursed MetaToddler until he was 15 months old. He weened me once I got pregnant. I've heard the milk just doesn't taste quite the same, which is possibly why he was no longer interested. And when I saw this photo on Post Secret, I couldn't help but think...

Cute baby, huh!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Shopping on Etsy

I just love trolling Etsy for fun and new things. It's like eBay, only for handmade stuff. I think I'm more mesmerized at the thought of actually making stuff. I like crafts, but I'm not crafty by any stretch. I lack the motivation to try, really. I still haven't finished the scarf I started way, way, way back when it was still cool.

In any event, a few things I'm keen on these days.

Flirty Aprons - Doesn't this make you just want to bake something tarty?

Reusable Produce Bags - Maybe you already have your reusable large bags in order, but what about the bags to put your many onions, potatoes, and carrots? Obviously, Etsy has something for that. They come in a set of 3, and in sizes of small, medium, large, and extra-large.

Bang! Bags - I ordered one of these bags for a few reasons.
  • It's very reasonable ($20 including shipping when I purchased it).
  • It's handmade in Argentina, which means it's also shipped from there. While my *green* pursuits would keep me from happily ordering something from so far away, I also like supporting small business pursuits, especially in a country so near to my roots (i.e., Chile).
  • I wanted something small and light to carry MetaToddler's various necessities in. This hardly weighs more than a t-shirt, but it's nice and sturdy.
The bag is very light, fun, and colorful. Sometimes, we all need a bit of color, no?

My current system:
  • purse with everything I need, plus Cheerios and baby wipes;
  • a mini-diaper bag (diapers, wipes, rash ointment, change of clothes);
  • the Etsy bag with a couple of small books, sippy cup, jacket, wipes, spoon, and bib
I always carry my purse, I leave the mini-diaper bag in the car for emergencies, and I have the Etsy bag ready at all times (though I might add an orange or banana at the last minute), and take it if we'll be out for more than an hour (i.e., ready for emergency entertaining and feeding). As a result, I don't carry a huge bag, nor am I generally ever short of necessities for him. Though as he gets older, the number of things needed to entertain him increases. But for now, food still does the trick :-)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Emeril Green on Discovery

Looking to "green" up your kitchen routine? So is Emeril. He's got a new show on the Discovery Channel called Emeril Green where he helps "real" people do just that. If you're looking for help, or you've got a challenge that Emeril can tackle, perhaps you're one of the people the producers are looking for ;-)
"We are casting enthusiastic and fun people with creative and interesting kitchen challenges for our new show, Emeril Green, to air on Planet Green beginning in July. This could be your chance to receive cooking tips and recipes tailored specifically to your needs by Emeril Lagasse, one of America's most-beloved chefs.

"We are actively searching for real people with real cooking dilemmas: Please e-mail your basic information (name, address, age, occupation), your culinary challenge, and a recent picture to foodshowcasting [at] gmail [dot] com."

Monday, March 10, 2008

MetaToddler Update

I don't mean to bore you, but this is probably more a family update than one of my usual posts. You have been warned ;-)

Things our little Boogie has been up to lately:
  • Taught MetaDaddy how to sign avocado.
  • Made up a sign for monkey. Does it with the "ooo ooo, ah, ah" sound effects.
  • Made up and taught us a sign for tissue/baby wipe.
  • He'll ask for a tissue and wipes his own nose. Not very successfully, but a good start.
  • He learned to kiss, and is getting a lot of joy out of it. He'll kiss either of us or blow kisses upon request.
  • We take our shoes off when we get home in an attempt to avoid tracking outside dirt inside. It really does work! We tend to leave our shoes lined up near the door at the bottom of the stairs. One day, MetaDaddy took his shoes off quickly to dash after MetaToddler. When we passed the door later, we realized all the shoes were neatly lined up in their usual spot. Our little Virgo at it again :-x
  • He used to go to sleep pretty easily. That is, after his night time rituals, he would lie down in his crib, thumb in mouth, and drift off into a quiet slumber. Then, for no apparent reason, he stopped. Every time we put him in his crib, he would scream, cry, etc. At first we reacted by comforting and doing what we could assuming that it was teething or something else. Then we realized he was just being stubborn. Surprise, surprise. He just didn't want to go to sleep, despite being miserably tired. Nap time was just as bad. We kept to our same ritual and slowly, things have gotten better. Then one day for nap time, I left him in his crib and said "night, night." We waved at each other, blew each other some kisses, I closed the door...and silence. Golden. I'm sooooo crossing my fingers for a trend :-D
  • Every time he sees me use a brush or comb, he asks for it by signing brush and proceeds to "brush" his hair.
  • He danced to a Madonna song. It was totally unprompted since I don't really like Madonna.
  • We saw a fire truck recently, and it's wailing siren really got MetaToddler's attention. Since then, he signs car every time he hears a siren, truck, plane, etc. If we're at home, he'll run to the window and look out for the fire truck.
  • Some new favorite snacks: blueberries, mango, dried fruit (e.g., cranberries, cherries, black currants).
OK, that's it for now. No really, I'm done. Whew!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Food Inflation

As inflation starts to become abundantly clear in our every day lives, I'm starting to see more people react to the changes (e.g., Cathy at Chief Family Officer). How do you react when staples like eggs, milk, and flour are steadily on the rise?

Per this article,
"Corn prices have more than doubled in commodity markets over two years, and soybeans nearly tripled, according to DTN, a commodities analysis firm in Omaha. Meanwhile, with poor harvests in major wheat-producing regions, wheat prices have more than tripled."
As corn prices have gone through the roof, so too have those of products that depend on them like milk, beef, and some sweeteners. Wheat prices impact bread, pasta, and a number of other basics that most consumer rely on. Not to mention cupcakes :-D

Perhaps another food related concern to start watching out for is the menu at your favorite restaurant. If average families are feeling the pinch with groceries, it goes without saying that a restaurant or bakery will have a significant reaction. How do they deal with rising costs? How long do they absorb the losses? Do they change the menu or raise prices?

Our favorite local Italian restaurant opted to raise prices. Ugh.

When even McDonald's has to change their Dollar Menu to "Dollar Menu & More," you know the times, they are a changing.

The Wall Street Journal reports that a lot of restaurants are opting for menu changes. Restaurants ranging from popular hot dog stands (e.g., Pink's in Los Angeles) to high-end New York eateries are adding more profitable menu items like pasta, and sometimes eliminating loss leaders (e.g., rib eye steaks). The high cost of meat has also made some restaurants reconsider how to prepare it, while making sure nothing goes to waste. Some are decreasing portion sizes (fine in my book since portion sizes are usually obscene in the first place). And the weak dollar means that European treats like extra-virgin olive oil, wines, and cheeses are far too expensive to use carelessly. In fact, some restaurants have started looking for high-quality local substitutes, which seems like a good practice for the economy and the environment.

Time Bandit

Ah, I'm not a fan of Daylight Savings. It's possibly my least liked day of the year. Why? After all, you get the benefit of longer days, brighter evenings, and that "summer" feeling from March thru November. Well, I don't like any day of the year that steals an hour of sleep from me, even if I do get it back in November (incidentally, my favorite day of the year). It's just wrong on so many levels. A lot of people like Daylight Savings. MetaDaddy is one of those people. We'll just have to agree to disagree on that one.

Of course, family and friends in other countries (e.g., Ireland) haven't lost that hour yet. Since we moved our Daylight Savings forward, they've got another few weeks of yummy sleep, as do most other countries it seems. Then again, most of MetaDaddy's family is probably looking forward to longer days of daylight.

This is a good time to remember certain things like testing and changing the batteries in smoke alarms.


Revision: In addition to changing the time on your clocks, don't forget to change the time on other things set on timers like lamps, front door lighting, sprinklers, etc. You probably don't need the light in the living room on at 5PM any more ;-)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

French Laundry at Home

I have a few challenging cook books. I fell in love with each of them, which is obviously why I bought them. However, over time I've come to realize that following through with a complicated recipe is...well...complicated. You devote a lot of time, money, and energy in the simple act of shopping for groceries. In fact, I would only ever attempt these time consuming recipes on weekends back when it was just MetaDaddy and me. That was my free time. My me time.

Today, there is no me time.

Today, I got my eyebrows done. Feeling civilized once again, for a nominal fee. And I got 30 minutes where I didn't have to placate an annoyed male roommate.

(no offense, darlings)

Anyway, the marathon cooking and baking sessions from the days of yore are no more. Today, it's quick, simple, and tasty recipes, and even garnishes strike me as a bit too fussy and time-consuming. That said, a little chopped mint never hurt anyone.

Still, I look at blogs like this one and just read, and read, and awe that someone would take the time to chop a "pineapple chop" (as in a pork or lamb chop), simply for the art of food. But I guess that's the challenge you set forth for yourself when you seek out to recreate the "French Laundry at Home."

Tomorrows Challenge at the MetaHome: Following through with pancakes. Ohh! Or maybe French Toast!!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Auto and Driver's Tips

How Car Insurance Works - Baffled at how your auto insurance company determines how much to charge you for your preferred mode of transportation? They combine their loss data with that of the Highway Loss Data Institute. You can view and compare some interesting data on the costs of injury, collision and theft on all sorts of different cars.

New California Law - As of July 1, 2008, California drivers may only use a cell phone "if it has a hands-free listening and speaking system." There are also a few more laws that impact teen drivers here. All good stuff, though the wording that the phone need only have a hands-free option leaves room for loopholes in my opinion. I'm also a bit disappointed at the measly little fees. Per the AAA,
"Drivers ticketed for either offense will be subject to a base fine of $20 (at least $70 after penalties are added) for a first offense and $50 (at least $175 after penalties are added) for subsequent offenses."

Watch your tire pressure! Both of our cars have tire-inflation sensors. My sensor came on recently, and MetaDaddy inflated the tires. It turns out that my tires were at about 20 psi, though they should have been closer to 35. And when he checked his tires, they were even worse, though the car's sensor didn't alert him. I usually watch out for underinflated tires (it's a quirky hobby), and ours looked fine, which really got me to thinking that your tires can be severely underinflated without being visibly obvious. And if it's really obvious, you must be in serious trouble. Per the AAA, the "tire-inflation sensors are designed to give a warning when a tire is 25% underinflated." Perhaps our sensor is on the fritz. Hmm...

Why is an underinflated tire bad? It could cause:
  • A blowout
  • Increased stopping distance when braking
  • Sluggish handling
  • Poor gas mileage
So while the sensors can be handy, don't take your tires for granted. And if you know their underinflated, go fix 'em for goodness' sake!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Around the Internet

Cooking with Coolio via L.A. Eater - This is funny, if you like a certain kind of humor. It's the potty mouth gangsta rapper comedy that reminds me oh so much of Dave Chappelle. Does Dave Chappelle make you want to change the channel? Then don't watch this "Damn Channel."

The Challenges of Having More Kids
- A mathematical analysis from a family with 4 boys. Yes, FOUR BOYS!

OCD in a Restaurant - Do you watch Monk? I watch it...I love it! Nothing like a severely OCD detective to make you fee sane and normal, even during your most neurotic of habits (e.g., stair counting). But this article really makes you appreciate how debilitating OCD can be, especially when eating out.

Grand Canyon's deluge by design - In an attempt to mimic natural cycles on the river, aman-made flood was released in the Grand Canyon to help restore its ecosystem. 300,000 gallons of water per second. The result:
"The Colorado's water level rose by a couple of feet in some places and as much as 15 feet in narrower parts. After the flood ends Friday, officials hope the water will leave behind sediment and restore sandbars as it goes back to normal levels."

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Better Restaurant Experiences

Some of my favorite blogs are food blogs. And because of my insatiable appetite for Los Angeles restaurant gossip, I always find myself blog-hopping to read a blurb about this restaurant or that.

My conclusion: if you want good service, take photos of your meal. My theory is staff and owners tend to be suspicious of customers photographing their meals, and as such, offer better service. I'm sure they'd know you're not a food critic, but how do they know you're not a blogger? And as such, how can any restaurant afford to have a mediocre representation of their restaurant floating around on the internet, with photos and all?

Just a theory. I'm thinking of trying it some day. But if you beat me to the punchline, do share your experience. And if the chef comes out to greet you, tell him/her that MetaMommy says "hi."

Monday, March 3, 2008

Book Club: Yays and Woes

I like my book club. It's an opportunity to get together with a bunch of relatively like-minded women with interesting perspectives, pursuits, and backgrounds. Our reactions to books are generally all over the place, when we all manage to read the novel in question, that is. It makes for fun debates. And inevitably, we meander through topics ranging from politics to tabloid gossip to chocolate.  Always chocolate.

I felt a bit guilty not reading this month's selection, but I got a bit distracted. We had 6 weeks between meetings, and I kept thinking "I have loads of time." Then, I was down to two weeks. Then one. My only vindication was in knowing that the book was truly depressing, and as such, I probably wouldn't have finished it. I'm not good with depressing topics these days ;-)

Moving right along, I've decided to get cracking and get the selection for this month, "Places to Stay the Night" by Ann Hood. No, not a travel guide, silly. Unfortunately, my local library doesn't carry it. And since it's out of print, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and the author's website don't carry it new, though some do carry it used. Yes, used is cheaper. However, it's the worst of both worlds, isn't it? Used AND not free. Even worse, if it turns out that I don't like it, it'll find it's way to my bookshelf until I manage to expunge it from my collection. Funny enough, if I do end up liking it, it'll be gone in no time because I'll be excited to share it with others.

The cost of literacy and socializing, I suppose :-P

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Daylight Saving Appoacheth

Did you know Daylight Savings is coming up? Yup, it is. Sunday, March 9th, to be exact.

On that note, this Washington Post article on Surviving Daylight Saving Switch. The Post isn't known for comedy, but as far as I'm concerned, this is not one of those times.

When an article suggests that one start adjusting to a one hour change a few days beforehand, well, I must read on.

A few of the more entertaining tips:
  • Modify your eating schedule by having dinner one hour earlier.
  • Be careful when driving or operating machinery on the day of the time change.
  • Keep a light schedule -- such as minimizing driving and avoiding strenuous physical activity -- on the Monday after the time change.
Seriously, if you have kids or if you've ever endured jet lag, this is precious. Who seriously follows these tips? And what did people do before this article was written?

I'm just saying.