Friday, February 27, 2009

Money Mojito

Yet another thing I like: Mint. No, not the herb-- although it is certainly aromatic and refreshing., a free personal finance website. These people should really pay me plugging them. But since they're making my finances all neat and arranged, for free, I guess a little free advertising won't hurt me. Here's how it works: Basically, you create a free account on their secured site. You put in all of your financial information-- credit cards, bank accounts, loans, property, etc etc etc.... and it accesses those accounts and creates a list of your expenses, broken down by category.

It helps you see where your money is going, create and stick to a budget, etc... and it has pretty pie charts! In addition, it gives you useful pieces of information like: "Hey, Law student! You are $51k in the hole!" and "Your two cars together are barely worth more than the balance on your credit cards! HAH HAH HAH."
...Although I suppose if you have more money, the news will be better.

On a completely different note, I have a personal vendetta against a certain "mechanic" who didn't bother to test the brakes on a certain fourteen-year-old vehicle when inspecting the car for the state inspection sticker. Just because they squeak doesn't mean they aren't really, really, really good brakes. I should know, I paid a lot of money to have them fixed less than six months ago.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Superfluous Appliances

Now, I'm well aware that a Waffle Maker is not exactly excessive, being that it's really one of the only things you can use to make waffles, but we don't really have waffles all that often. Although...upon closer consideration it seems that maybe the reason we don't eat waffles that often is because... (wait for it) ...we don't have a waffle maker. That seems to be a reasonable conclusion to me. Hence... I want a waffle maker. I can already smell that delicious crispy cooking-batter smell, see the melting butter, feel the sticky cabinets after syrup inexplicably gets everywhere... hmm.... maybe this isn't such a good idea. Then again, the same thing happens when we eat pancakes, and that doesn't stop me.
But a bread machine... a bread machine would be a dream come true. Delicious, fresh bread with the touch of a button? Tempting, very very tempting. I remember my uncle making some sort of dill bread with his bread machine... I can still smell it, and I'm pretty sure I was very young. Unfortunately, seeing as how we have (a) no cabinet space (b) no money and (3) a stand mixer, a blender, a hand mixer, a microwave, a coffee maker, a toaster, an electric teapot, several crock-pots, and a family sized roaster.... Well, you get the idea. Superfluous. A little bit reckless. A birthday present, maybe? Anniversary? Just because? Hmmmm.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009


What you see there is the bottom of the pot. What was in the pot before it got to be this way was water. Just water. Tap water. See, I accidentally left it on the burner and forgot about it until all the water was gone. And this.... this horrible sight is what I found at the bottom of my pot. It makes me a little sick to think that this is what we're drinking, brushing our teeth with, and bathing in. I never really used our brita water pitcher until now... but I have a feeling it is about to be my new best friend.

Also, since I live in Louisiana, I'd be remiss in not telling you all-- Happy Mardi Gras! Read More......

Monday, February 23, 2009


Yesterday was a day of researching for "my" professor, shopping, trying to explain to my subconscious that I have two more days of vacation owing to Mardi Gras, and... baking a King Cake. Now, mind you, it didn't turn out quite as well as I'd hoped, since for some reason yeast-risen doughs and yours truly mix about as well as oil and water-- that is to say, they don't. Nothing I ever try to make with yeast rises on my first try, and this time, it didn't rise very much at all, even after adding another packet of proofed yeast to the bowl.
The recipe comes from This site and is not my own; the website credits the actual recipe to Emeril.
Here are some in-progress photographs. I was trying to pull a Pioneer Woman and take photos of every step... but I got sidetracked and am apparently bad at making pretty pictures.
But here's what I've got.

The Ingredients. Minus melted butter and colored sugar sprinkles. Boy, later I'll tell you about my adventures in making purple sprinkles. And we can all have a little laugh while I swear that I hate, hate, hate purple sugar sprinkles. With all of my being.

Start with two packages of active dry yeast. This is where I disagree with the recipe. You should proof your yeast. Continue reading, and I'll explain.

This is 1/2 cup sugar added to the yeast. Stop. Do not continue. Ignore the next step on the recipe. Add the 1 cup of warm milk here. Make sure it's not over 110 degrees or so, or you'll kill your little yeasties. Wait until the mixture gets all foamy and disgusting looking. Then, continue.

Add a stick and a half of melted butter. Oh, yum. Melted cow fat. (I think perhaps the reason the butter is melted here as opposed to creamed with the sugar as with cookies and cakes is that the king cake is really more of a bread-- hence the yeast. As a result, the fat you add, be it in the form of oil or butter, is usually liquid.

This is me stupidly adding the warm milk, blindly following the recipe, instead of proofing the yeast first. This is what you get: a king cake that will. not. rise.

Stir it up! Isn't that picture awesome? If I had a better camera, I bet you could see swirls and splashes and goo just flying everywhere.

At this point you add your egg yolks-- sorry, I definitely forgot to take a picture-- and then the nutmeg, salt, and lemon zest.

Then, you dump aaallllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll the flour in at once like a bad little chef and watch your stand mixer half-kill itself to get it all mixed in. And cover half of the kitchen and yourself in a fine dusting of the stuff. Just kidding. A little bit at a time's probably best. Not that I would know. It all went in at once.

Then, using the dough hook attachment, you mix it up until it's a big, smooth, rubbery ball. Mine wasn't very smooth. Again, that could have been my fault. Maybe.

At this point you set the dough aside to rise-- which it won't, if you're me. Then, you panic and add another batch of yeast proofed with warm water and sugar. You have to add more flour, of course, to make something that doesn't resemble the swamp monster. Once your dough looks like dough again, you set it aside to rise. again.

You make the filling-- basically, two packages of cream cheese and a cup of powdered sugar. Delicious and healthy!

Once your dough has risen to twice its size, or once you get tired of waiting and decide, "to hell with it!", dump it out on a floured surface. The recipe says to use your hands to pat it out. That's total crap, and don't believe a word it says. Get out your trusty rolling pin, french or otherwise, or big ole' can of soup, whatever, and roll the dough out to about 6" by 30". Please note, it needs to be at least 30" long-- longer is better. This baby will rise in the oven and if you don't make a ring with that big of a circumference, then you're in trouble. Trust me, it has happened before.

Then, you take that filling you made, get a spatula, and spread it in approximately the middle of that big flat sheet of dough-- I did it about 1" from the bottom and 2" from the top. Because what you're going to do is fold the bottom flap up and the top flap down and seal them together, so that filling is in a kind of 30-odd inch tube. Get it? Good.

Now, call your husband, child, roommate, sister, brother, milkman, or meter reader for help. you'll need it. Get a big ole' baking pan and spray it down, then get two sets of hands (that's four total, folks) underneath this monstrosity and do two things at once: (1) flip it, and (2) move it to the baking pan in a rough circular shape. At the end of the day, you want to have that seam you just made the tube out of against the baking pan. And you want your king cake to be circular. You do this by sealing the two sides together.

Now, set it aside to rise for another 45 minutes or so, and then bake according to instructions. Note that this thing is super heavy, so don't be like me and pull the oven rack so far out to look at it that the end of the rack can't take the head and the whole thing--rack, pan, and cake-- falls onto the open door of your oven. You'll feel stupid and your ends will come unsealed, thus making your king cake look more like a retarded horseshoe than a circle. I think it's probably bad luck, too.

Once your king cake is out and mostly cooled, you add the glaze-- gobs of it. The glaze is ridiculously simply and requires no cooking at all-- simply mix the appropriate proportions of lemon juice, powdered sugar, and milk. I brushed mine on with a pastry brush and rather liked the results. Now, once the glaze is hardened enough to where it's no longer trying to drip off the cake-- that's where it becomes important to cool your king cake before trying this step-- you add the colored sugar in purple, yellow, and green sections around the cake. this may take some planning so you don't end up messing up the pattern at the end of the cake-- or back where you started on the cake, or however you want to phrase it when your cake is circular and really has no end.

Now I am reminded of the purple sugar debacle. It is hard-- nearly impossible at times-- to find purple sugar. Yellow and green? a snap. Purple? hard. So, I decided that, finding myself in posession of some red sugar and blue food coloring, that I could make my own. And it worked. sort of. My mistake basically boils down to: Remember that blue food coloring is strong strong strong, and you should use far less than you think you need to and only add more once you've thoroughly stirred it in and realize there is a definite need for more.

Once decorated, your king cake is done-- except I forgot to mention showing a baby or pecan half or something up the cake's underside for a lucky person to find. I didn't do that, hence my forgetting to tell you about it. I'm lazy.

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Friday, February 20, 2009


Scotch-Brite sponges are pretty close to the best thing in the world. I use them for everything-- nasty stuck-on cheese, cleaning baking potatoes, and scrubbing our cracked, peeling porcelain sink or the cracked, peeling top of our tiny, tiny gas stove. (have I mentioned we live in a tenemant?) I'm thinking of dedicating one to spot-cleaning the linoleum (that covers the floor of every single room in our tenament apartment. However, I'm wondering if I'm actually organized enough to keep five or six separate unlabeled sponges with separate uses. Sharpies don't work very well on sponges, after all.

In case anyone is wondering, there are actually things I like that are not boring sponges, but I can't very well be expected to provide a complete catalog three days in, can I?

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Thursday, February 19, 2009


Charlaine Harris is a master of trashy Southern supernatural romance. She really and truly is. Since True Blood hasn't started its second season and I've read all of her other Southern vampire novels, I'm waiting with bated breath for her latest release, which is due out on May 5th. Right smack in the middle of finals. So Sookie's probably going to have to be patient until after my exams are over. Read More......


Ask any law student, and they will tell you that the most terrifying sound in the world is the sound of your own last name. You’re in class, minding your own business (although it must be noted that the twelve people behind you are also minding your business while you’re reading your facebook wall in class). In the back of your mind, you vaguely register the fact that the professor is asking a question. And then you hear your name.
There is a moment where your subconscious tries to protect you, a split-second where you find yourself glancing around the room in search of this elusive “Smith”, “Jones”, or “Williams” who was just called on. Hmmm, Your mind tells you, smugly. They must be absent today. And then reality kicks in. That was your name. And you are, clearly, present.
“Ahh…” you clear your throat, pretend to consult your case brief, anything to buy time. After a moment it becomes patently obvious that you don’t even know the question that was asked, let alone the answer. “Could you…I didn’t understand the question, could you repeat it?”
The professor gives you a piercing stare and flicks his eyes around the classroom, either amused or irritated, depending on his mood and personality, that you have the gall to admit that you’ve been paying no attention. At all. “Counselor,” he says, “I asked you what the holding of the court was in Marbury v. Madison.
No kidding, it is the most terrifying moment of your life every time it happens to you. Those who were called on the first day of law school are remembered forever by their classmates.
Don’t believe me? Ask another law student. But do me a favor—call them by their last name and watch them jump. Read More......

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


The one downside of any blog is that it has to have a first entry. That stupid, awkward, first attempt at being candid with the world that almost always inspires a certain sense of embarrassment when re-examined years later.
So I have decided to throw caution to the wind and determined that I'll just say whatever I want with the understanding that I'll eventually loathe whatever it is I ultimately type in this first post. So why not make it as bad as humanly possible.

Here's the scoop: I'm twenty-three, been married for a year and a half (yes, my husband and I were among those hordes of 7-7-7 couples, but in our defense it just seemed like the most convenient date. Luck was never a factor for us), and am in my last semester of my second year of law school. This means that I've got approximately one year, three months, and ten days until I graduate from law school and join the real world. Provided, of course, that I pass the bar exam.
And find a job. Those last two parts are rather essential.

In the meantime, I'm attending classes, preparing for exams, working as a research assistant for "My Professor", who for obvious reasons will remain unnamed, cleaning house, preparing menus, shopping, handing out my resume to whoever will give me a second glance, and generally attempting to maintain order in a disorderly world.

...I'm really not very successful at this last part. But life goes on, and there's always tomorrow. Read More......