Tuesday, October 17

Seaweed Salad

Baby Soup and napping kelp... not to
be confused with the type you eat.
Recently, while traveling, My Prince had occasion to try a seaweed salad. It was reportedly delectable and he returned home with a request that we attempt to find a recipe and give it a try at home.

I was a bit skeptical, seaweed being well outside my usual purview, but game to give it a try. We ended up using this recipe from Genius Kitchen.

Once you got beyond the small prep (dicing and toasting), the entire thing was stupidly quick and easy. We made double the recommended amount (to use up the whole package of wakame), and it held really well in the fridge for a couple days. (Yay!)

I was pleasantly surprised! It had a fresh, gingery taste and otherwise tasted just like a fairly dense green salad. It was a little chewy, which was a satisfying texture, and extremely filling. Nutritionally, as long as you're buying clean stuff, seaweed is also tremendously good for you, so it was a win-win all around! Considering that we can get dried wakame shipped to our door inexpensively and conveniently compliments of Amazon, this is definitely something we'll make again!

Sunday, October 15

I Need That Search Program They Have On Cop Shows

Not a wallet I will ever own.
Have you ever watched any of those cop shows (or almost any spy/government agency movie) where the heroes need to find one elusive thing, so they feed everything ever into the computer/connect to every corner of the interwebs, and then systematically narrow it down until *POOF*. Exactly what they wanted/needed was the only thing left, glowing miraculously back at them off their screen.

Yeah, I need a program like that.

I recently killed my wallet beyond the point of repair and was (extremely) reluctantly forced to go searching for a new one. I dislike shopping for wallets almost as much as I dislike shopping for purses. (Hence why my awsome husband actually *made* my current purse for me.) I feel like there's very few things I need a wallet to reliably do and yet none of those are things you can search by.

Why, I ask you, is there not a feature that allows you to require (in addition to RFID protectiveness, naturally) something as basic as ID slots that you can actually get your ID out of when you need it? Why is there not a feature that lets you require that you be able to fit your checkbook into it in order for it to show up on your hits list?

And why, in name of the Force, is there not an option to mass exclude things you will NEVER pay money for? Like hideous patterns in garish colors. Or wallets that have no place to put change. Or ones so bulky they weigh more than you do - before you put anything in them.

(Incidentally, I wished for something simliar last time I had to shop for shoes online. There are an obsene number of hideous red shoes in the world, and sifting through them all one google search at a time is slow and painful work.) 

Anyway, I finally found something and was delighted when it both shipped quickly and proved to be durable and just what I needed. But I'd still really like some of that magical search software...

Monday, October 9

DIY Dry Cleaning

On this date last year it was already snowing here. Cold, wet, unpleasant stuff that bore no resemblence to the light, fluffy, magical flakes that always seem to show up in movies and nostalgic memories. Though we didn't know it at the time, it was the advent of an exceptionally wet, weather-crazy year.

Dryel... just another thing you
can learn to make instead of buy!
As I have complained to my (exceptionally patient and understanding) husband repeatedly over the last couple months, I feel as if I have been running laundry and wiping things down with Lysol constantly for an entire year and not making any progress. Sure, it keeps things from getting moldy and nasty, but that's it. It's been so damp and either unseasonably cold or hot (depending on the time of year) that it feels like nothing ever dries out and stays clean.

In an effort to get ahead of this nonsense last Spring, Eric thoughtfully bought several really good garment bags for both our closets. We stashed anything we weren't actively and regularly wearing in them, zipped them up, and sighed with relief at the thought of one less thing to worry about and keep up with. For good measure, we mostly left our closet doors open, too, to encourage circulation.

It didn't work.

I said all kinds of bad words last week when I went to pull something out of one of the bags and discovered mold spots on it. My leather boots, my leather skirt, three of my nice dresses - I ended up taking everything out of the closet. A load of laundry took care of most of it, but all the leather had to be cleaned by hand. The dresses were all supposed to be dry cleaned, except that two of them had boning in them and dry cleaning isn't actually particularly good for them... to say nothing of the fact that it would be ungodly expensive.

So I did some research and discovered that the maker of at least one of the dresses strongly recommends using a DIY at-home dry cleaning process, using Dryel or one of the equivalents and your dryer. I ended up giving it a shot and was extremely relieved and impressed when it worked very well!

In case it's something everyone else doesn't already know and/or might be able to use someday, I thought I'd copy the recipe I used here.

DIY Dryel

3/4 cup water
1/4 cup (white) vinegar
1 tsp borax
1 tsp dry oxygen bleach
5-10 drops Essential Oil(s) of choice (optional)

Combine all in a bowl. Soak a clean wash cloth in the mixture, then squeeze it out. Place the wash cloth and the item to be cleaned in a clean zip-top pillow case or lingerie bag. Toss it in the dryer and run on high for 30 minutes. Remove promptly and hang to finish drying.

Notes: I used baking soda instead of borax and it worked beautifully. I also used liquid Oxyclean stain remover instead of the dry oxygen bleach. If using essential oils, consider using lavender, Thieves Oil, or some other mix that will help maintain freshness (not just make it smell pretty).

I hope no one ever needs this, but I'm grateful it worked for me. We'll be running the dehumidifier from now until we start using the fireplace for the winter... I'm done with this craziness!

Monday, September 25

Special Features

It turns out my truck has special features I didn't know about! I knew it was all kinds of equipped, of course, but I completely missed the fact that it has dedicated Puppacinno servers!

I've read that if you go to Starbucks and ask for a 'Puppacinno' they'll give you a small cup of whipped cream. We're not Starbucks people, but needed some terrible coffee while on the road and that was what there was, so we stopped. Eric actually had the presence of mind to remember to ask and the server did, in fact, offer up a cup of whipped cream.

Nenya turned her nose up at it ("that's not gravy!!"), but Arthas happily helped himself. Which is when I realized that there are actually cup holders in the back of the center console of my truck, perfectly positioned for happy border collies to nom on cups of whipped cream from the back seat.

The picture doesn't do the adorableness of the moment justice, but I thought I'd share anyway. Hope your week is off to a good start! 

Tuesday, September 19

Random Fun: Which Halloween Monster Are You?

Just for fun, a quick quiz to see what kind of spooky you do best.

(I got a witch... I'm okay with that. Cauldron! Bubble me up some cider!!)

: )

Monday, September 18

The Communication Skills They Didn't Teach Me in College

So, I was a business major and, as part of the curriculum, we learned all kinds of models for communication. Some, obviously, were better than others.  Recently, I ran across a new model I haven't seen before that I really liked. I haven't really tested it with other people yet, but I'm finding it a fantastic structure for sorting things out for yourself or to pair with Brene Browns SFD method.

It's the Whole Message approach, for lack of a better term, and it involves breaking down what you are trying to communicate into four parts:

(1) Facts
(2) Thoughts
(3) Emotions/Feelings
(4) Needs 

Using this framework to imagine what I'd say to someone about some situations that have happened recently has been really eye-opening. It significantly changes how I'd word things. It also provides an unexpected feeling of calm, I think because there's tremendous power in separating hard fact from how we feel about that fact. Because someone can attack 'feelings' all day long - automatically inciting defensiveness and the slippery slope that conversation usually slides down once you're there. 

It's a lot harder to argue with a fact. And once the fact is established, there's a lot less ground for someone to stand on to try to assail you from.

There's also enormous peace to be had in figuring out what you need before you have a conversation. Even if that 'need' is just "I need you to understand that this behavior is outside my boundaries" or "I need you to be aware that, because of above fact, I no longer trust what you say to me." Even if the other person doesn't like it or isn't interested in acknowledging/cooperating/changing, it's powerful to know you did everything you could, expressed things clearly and calmly, and can move on from there however you need to without guilt.

Now if only they'd taught me this in business school a decade and a half ago!!

Saturday, September 16

Bottom of the Bottle

If you know anyone who is a fan of Blue Bottle coffee, please pass along word that it's being purchased by Nestle.

Probably the only reason this is blog-worthy, for me, is one of the lines in the article linked above:

“When consumers see a brand being built by a large multinational, and they see it marketed as a craft beverage or craft product, they view those products with a heavy dose of skepticism,” he said. “But when it’s a brand that’s acquired, people can still view it as what it was before.”

Setyan agreed, saying there’s little evidence to suggest customers change their behavior after these deals.

“Most consumers don't pay enough attention to even know,” he said. [emphasis mine]
Giant conglomerates buying popular, top-quality small companies and infiltrating through the back while taking pains not to advertise or make the association obvious up front is certainly not new. On the face of it, it isn't necessarily immoral, either.

But as someone who is deeply aware of the challenges your average individual faces in sorting through the mass of marketing, misinformation, and carefully worded pseudo information that surrounds our food system, this kind of thing just aggravates me. People pay good money for 'craft' or small-business products because they've invested the time, done the research, and worked darn hard to find people and businesses they trust to produce foods and beverages that align with their personal standards - whether those are culinary, health-related, or social (i.e. conforming to certain practices/belief systems). For them to be intentionally left in the dark as much/as long as possible when conglomerates who openly admit to not knowing or caring about the same things take over the reigns is a form of defraudment and deception. And Force knows our system has enough of that already.

So, anyway, if you know anyone drinking Blue Bottle please pass thing along. If you're not currently drinking the stuff, don't start. And maybe bear in mind going forward that in our food and business communities - often and unfortunately -all is not what it seems.