Useless Thoughts Running Through My Head

various musings of a generation x kad

Archive for November, 2008

Fun with cauliflower

Posted by thoughtful1 on November 23, 2008

I’ve had a head of cauliflower sitting in my fridge for over a week.  Luckily, it hadn’t gone to hell by the time I got around to doing something with it.  My original plan was to make a soup, but I didn’t have an onion or any other veg, and I didn’t feel like going to the grocery store.  And a soup with just cauliflower in it seemed…. dull.  So I began poking around my cookbooks.

I found a recipe for cauliflower in a cheddar sauce.  Fairly basic.  Cook cauliflower the usual way – boil in a little water – and then make a cheese sauce with flour, butter, milk, and cheddar.  Being lazy, and remembering a cooking show on stir frying cauliflower, I took the basic recipe and added a little change.  Instead of cooking the cauliflower separately, I sauteed it in the pan with butter – roughly 3 tablespoons.  After cooking it for a bit – long enough for some of it to turn slightly golden – I added a tablespoon of flour.  I mixed the flour in, then added half a cup of milk.  The liquid mix quickly turned thick, so I added another half cup of milk.  I set the heat to simmer to give me enough time to shred some cheddar.  I tossed in a half cup of cheddar cheese, turned the heat back up to low and stirred everything together.

It came out quite well.  I didn’t think to take a picture, however.  Sorry.

Here’s the recipe:

1 head of cauliflower, chopped
1 tablespoon flour
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
ground pepper to taste

In a large pan, saute the cauliflower with pepper and butter over medium heat.  After cauliflower starts to get tender and cook down a little, add flour.  Mix in thoroughly.  Add milk.  Stir until the liquid thickens.  Add cheese.  Stir until cheese has completely melted and the sauce is smooth.  Add more pepper if desired.

Now I have a ready made dinner for tomorrow night that’s also healthy – veg with fat and protein and calcium.  That should give me more time to do some grocery shopping for Thanksgiving dinner.  I dread the grocery store.

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Getting rid of the monsters

Posted by thoughtful1 on November 22, 2008

As I mentioned in an earlier post, a friend helped clear out a mess of boxes from the living room.  That has helped me re-start my efforts to declutter and tidy up.  But this time it’s different – this time around I’m starting to see that I am worth it to have a clean house.  I know it sounds strange, and maybe I’ve worded it wrong, or I don’t have it quite right, but I look around and I begin to see how things could be instead of how they are.  I don’t feel as overwhelmed as I did.  Or, at least, I don’t give in to those feelings like I used to.

I still have moments where I just can’t deal, but instead of putting something off for weeks, months, years, I eventually get around to a task within a few days.  Like tonight.  I started in on the pile of papers in the office area.  It still looks like a mess, but now I have two paper bags of paper for recycling.  In the past I would have thought, “Recycling was this week.  I shouldn’t bother until two weeks from now when it’s recycling week again.”  Now I am better about letting bags of paper sit around for two weeks before I can recycle them.  It’s because I know that it’s progress, whereas before I’d look at the bags and think only of failure – that I didn’t get around to it sooner.

One factor that has helped motivate me is the realization that I just have to toughen up and Do It.  I’ve known for a few years that my clutter is a symptom of something deeper going on.  Normal people don’t freeze or feel anxious when confronted with a box full of stuff.  Regular people don’t allow years worth of junk mail to pile up, or leave grocery receipts from last year on the kitchen counter.  But there’s something going on the keeps me taking care of things.  I feel overwhelmed.  Or I want to do something else.  I think it could be a sign of some sort of depression.  I’m not certain, but that’s my guess.  And it’s most likely related to adoption – some strange attachment thing.  But, the same friend who helped me move the boxes also told me that I just need to work through it by cleaning up.  That somehow the act of forcing myself to clean things up will make things better for me on the inside.  He’s probably right, though I don’t know how exactly.  I only took Psych 101…

Another thing that helped was me finally getting that my friends, my real friends, don’t give a shit if my place is messy.  I’m not being judged.  Before, I viewed the situation as “I trust them to see my place and still like me,” which is slightly different from “They like me enough that they don’t care.”

Finally, it’s helped that I realized that by the time you get this old, you’ve got issues.  Everyone has something going on, and everyone has some sort of dysfunction.  It gives deeper meaning to the phrase “nobody’s perfect.”  And, if no one else is perfect, then I don’t have to be.  Or pretend to be.  It’s a huge burden to feel like you have to be perfect.  Feeling like I have to be perfect means that whenever I came across a piece of junkmail that’s over a year old I’d think, “My God, that’s still around?  You are such a LOSER!”

It’s slow going, but I think I am finally climbing out of this hole.  Things won’t change overnight, and I still feel overwhelmed at times, but I’m beginning to feel better about this.

And, I saw this cartoon in the New Yorker this week.  Maybe I should purchase a print of it sometime…  (Like when the economy is better and I’m not worried about getting laid off :P)

Posted in adoption, clutter, depression, happiness, issues | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

It’s Sunday already… *sigh*

Posted by thoughtful1 on November 16, 2008

More accurately, it’s 10:54 PM on Sunday.  *sigh*

I’d be much happier if it were 10:54 PM on Saturday.  I am not in a work week mood right now.  No particular reason – I just don’t want to get up and go to work tomorrow.  Nor do I want to go upstairs and get ready for bed.  Ugh.

Of course, it’s not helping me any to be listening to music right now.  I’ve got iTunes open and currently the PC is playing “Destroy Everything You Touch” by Ladytron.  Trust me – it is not going to bed music.  But, it matches the mood I’m in right now.

Part of why I am off is that I had a 2 hour conference call tonight.  Yes – a fucking two hour conference call.  It wasn’t for work, but a non-profit group I’m part of (and soon to be resigning from, but until then…).  So I really didn’t get an evening to myself.  Nor did I quite get the day to myself.  A friend came over to help me wash windows.  It was fun, really, but I didn’t get much downtime.  And yesterday I had something going on in the afternoon into the evening, so once again no downtime.

I’m an introvert.  I need my downtime, and I failed to get much this weekend.  No wonder I’m in a mood.

(Now I’m listening to “Comfortably Numb” performed by the Scissor Sisters.  It’s one of my favorite covers.)

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Rolling Pennies for iTunes

Posted by thoughtful1 on November 12, 2008

The Coinstar machines now allow you to convert your loose change to gift cards.  Doing so enables you to avoid paying the 8.9% fee Coinstar charges when you convert your change to dollar bills.  I’m excited about this since the gift card choices include Borders, Amazon, and iTunes – things I would actually use!  Now my spare change, which usually sits for months years on my desk, can be used to buy fun stuff.  It’s like found money!  And my regular pay can be saved up or used for real purchases, like a really expensive stick vac.  Okay, obviously I am still prone to purchasing things I could probably do without, but at least I can treat myself to some music or a book without feeling guilty.  After all, the spare change was just collecting dust.

So tonight I went to the local Shaw’s and turned my loose change into an iTunes e-certificate.  I’ve now got $50 to spend on tunes.  Happiness!

My first purchase?
“Elevator Operator” by Lolly Pop:

Because everyone could use some fun dance music these days

My second purchase?
“Happy Birthday To Me” by Bulldog Mansion:

Because they’re a cooler cut of K-Pop.

Posted in finances, music, my mundane life, weaknesses | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Op-Ed on Prop 8 and the Black Community

Posted by thoughtful1 on November 11, 2008

I read this today by Jasmyne A. Cannick.  It provides insight into why blacks did not oppose Proposition 8, and it exposes the disconnect between the black community and the white GLBT community.  My initial reaction was, “white liberals fail to get the race thing (again).”  Maybe later I’ll have a more refined opinion.

Posted in class, politics, race, religion, social action, sociology | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Stick it

Posted by thoughtful1 on November 10, 2008

After vacuuming the condo with a cannister vac several times the past few weeks (yes, I am trying to keep house better), I’ve decided that I need to get a stick vac.  Lugging the cannister around, up and down the stairs, has gotten old.  Very old.  And I remembered why my mom hates cannisters – they crash into the furniture.  So it appears that I should just leave the freaking thing in the basement where I have carpeting and purchase a lighter vac for the other floors where it’s hardwood.

I started researching which one to buy today.  First hit was a Dirt Devil Jaguar Power Stick that looked promising – HEPA filter and only $40.  But, the reviews on Epinions were mixed, which gives me pause.  Second was the Bissell FeatherWeight.  That has the advantage of converting to a hand vac for the furniture, as well as confirmation that I could tilt all the way down to the floor for vacuuming under the bed.  But, no HEPA filter.  Next stick vac I looked at was the Hoover Flair.  But, once again, no HEPA.  And it has a filter that you need to clean.  I used to have a Hoover hand vac with a similar filter.  After a while it just gets gross.

So I took a look at the high end.  Dyson doesn’t make a stick vac, but Miele does, for $240-400.  And I’d have to truck out to a specialty store to look at one.  However, it has some nice features in addition to the HEPA filter.  It has onboard storage for the different attachments, something that was missing from one of the stick vacs mentioned above.

Of course, one may question why spend so much money on a stick vac.  After all, the stick vac would be used for regular cleaning while I break out the larger, adult vac for the heavy duty stuff.  True, in theory things would work that way, but they won’t.  For starters, two thirds of my home are hardwood, thus I’d be cleaning two thirds of my home with the stick vac.  I’d like it to suck up as much dirt as possible.  Further, while I don’t own cats, I do cat sit.  For long haired cats.  Who shed.  And like to go everywhere. So in the long run, it would probably be worth it to invest in a serious vacuum.

Plus, a friend has serious cat allergies and after a few hours in my place he has trouble breathing, even though the cats have been gone for weeks.  (And, yes, I vacuumed.)  This prompted me to research cat dander.  It turns out it gets everywhere – the floors, the furniture, the clothes, the walls….  And it sticks around for months.

Eewww.

But back to the Miele.  Taking a closer look, I see that it not only has cleaning power, but kick ass design.  In addition to the HEPA and onboard accessory storage, the Miele has a 26′ power cord, adjustable height for the user’s comfort, and can convert to a hand vac (this last item is from a third party website, not Miele’s own site, which is odd).  All of these are pretty smart features.

Thus, do I pay for function only, or for design?

I’m leaning towards paying for design.  But maybe after I brown bag my lunch for a bit.

And I should probably stop researching vacuums and actually go vacuum…..

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Re-thinking a few things

Posted by thoughtful1 on November 10, 2008

Sorry, been busy the past few months……..  My bad.

Anyway, for reasons I won’t get into, I’ve been re-thinking some things the past few weeks.  It started with TV.  This fall season I haven’t been watching as much TV as I usually do.  Further, I simply haven’t missed any of the shows I usually watch.  The only program I was excited about seeing, and that I made an effort to see was “Mad Men,” whose season has ended.  After watching the “Heroes” premiere and realizing it was stupid, I gave up on that show.  As well as a few others, including “Smallville,” which has gotten dumber than “Heroes”.  I cleaned up the DVR.  The only shows I have set to record are “House” and “Dirty Sexy Money,” and I may cancel those, too.

Basically, I no longer found TV all that entertaining.  And I figured my time would be better spent elsewhere.

The other things I’ve been re-thinking are a little less specific.  More like, “What should I be doing with myself?” types of questions.  I started re-examining relationships I’ve made in the past year and whether they were worth maintaining.  Some are, some are not.  Last year I became a social butterfly, which is very, very odd for me.  This year I feel like retreating back into the cocoon, but with a better sense of who will be a real friend, and on whom I can rely.

Oddly, along with this, I’ve been putting more thought into my home.  A friend helped me clear out the living room in a big way.  Boxes that had been sitting there for years were relocated to the basement, and the basement hodgepodge was organized.  So now I have a big open space in the living room.  And it’s given me space to think: What to do with this?  I found myself staring at the 13 year-old TV and wondering if I should put it up on Freecycle.  I think I may do this, but only after I find a replacement TV for the kitchen.  I live alone, so the ability to watch the news while eating dinner is a must.  Sad, but true.  However, my current setup in the living room allows me to lounge and eat while watching TV, something I find very relaxing, and something of an emotional comfort.  So I’m not sure……  But, it would be nice to have one room in the place that does not have a TV.  And probably better for me, too.

Thinking about the home is really forcing me to think about my life, such as what I do, what I want to do, what my style is, etc.  These are tough questions.  Especially since I think I am beginning some sort of transition.  To what, I don’t know.  For example, the obvious answer to the living room would be to buy sitting furniture and set it up for reading and conversation.  But, as I was staring at the nearly bare wall where the now very lonely TV is, I thought it might be interesting to place a project table there where I could do artwork.

But, I am not an artist.

However, I’ve been considering taking an art course.  I’ve always enjoyed doing art, but I only took classes when I was in school, and even then it was only what was required for my diploma.  Since high school doesn’t count art as academic (but you can get a degree in it! hrmph), I took two course, and one course in college.  That was it.  I would like to go back to it, and see if having an artistic outlet would make me feel more balanced.  Or something.  Odds are I would get frustrated at the lack of technical skill – I wouldn’t be able to draw something the way I wanted it to look – but it would be worth a shot.

And, if I had a large table somewhere where I could work on stuff, then maybe instead of wasting time watching TV I could find pleasure in creating something.  But, there’s always the fear that the large project table would become a gathering place for more clutter.  So, I should think about that some more.

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