Saturday, November 29, 2008

Even more shopping

Since I hit the outlets yesterday, I felt like it was only fair to hit the malls today to make sure I didn't miss any good deals there! Jen was my partner in crime and influenced in part by our Fruits & Passion gift cards, we decided to head west to the Natick collection (aka fancy name for a mall) and Shoppers World.

At the Fruits & Passion store, I was faced with a dilemma. Due to my cold, I had a hard time distinguishing different scents. This was definitely a problem since I'm very picky about scents. In the end, I went with their classic Cucina hand soap and lotion combo in lime zest and cypress since I usually like citrus as a scent.

Jen got a tube of their regenerating Cucina hand cream.

Four hours later, after doing a lot of walking and browsing, Jen and I were ready for dinner. As Jen was in the mood for a burger and a new restaurant, we headed to the British Beer Company. I was really impressed with this restaurant - although we didn't try any of the British beer on tap, Jen's burger was big and juicy, my French Dip sandwich was tasty and the fries were great (especially with malt vinegar on the side).

I think Sunday will be devoted to being lazy with Andrew as I'm getting worn out just thinking about all the shopping I've done this weekend. The good news is that I'm almost done buying gifts.

Dinner at Apgujung

So I'm still running a day behind with my posts but cut me some slack, I'm in the midst of battling what has turned out to be a full-fledged cold, yikes!

After waking up early to hit the sales at Wrentham, it was nice to know that I had a family dinner to look forward to Friday evening. At the request of my cousin Andrew, who was seeking a "unique" dining experience, we chose to go to Apgujung, a Korean/Japanese restaurant around the corner from my place.
While Andrew and Phu wait for our meals to be delivered, they sample the banchan (side dishes) that come free with the meals - including kimchi!

Rich, Jason and Amy dip some of the gyoza (fried dumplings) that we ordered as appetizers.

Amy ordered the pork katsu (breaded cutlet that comes with a Japanese BBQ sauce) and Andrew got the chicken katsu.

Phu is clearly enjoying his bibimbap (rice bowl with layered vegetables and meat) in a stone pot, the same thing that Rich and Jason ordered.

My cousin Andrew and I went for the restaurant's speciality - Korean BBQ cooked teppanyaki style on a grill at our table. I went with the spicy pork while Andrew enjoyed the teriyaki beef.
It's always fun to share Korean cuisine with an appreciative audience!

Black Friday Shopping at Wrentham

Shopping at Wrentham the Friday after Thanksgiving turned out to be anticlimactic. I expected that Amy and I would end up buying tons of stuff but amazingly, we ended up each with only a few things.

I swung by Amy's place and we were at Wrentham around 6:45. First stop was the Dunkin Donuts to pick up our traditional breakfast sandwiches. It was packed with people who had completed their shopping (the stores opened at midnight), including a woman who boldly tried to steal our order.

Driving to the parking lot, although we could see signs that the lot had been full at times (i.e. cars parked over curbs and on grass), we found tons of parking spaces.

Amy and I stopped by the help desk to pick up the AAA coupon booklet and then we were off!

I won't go into details about stores or presents, but to sum it up, we spent four hours walking around trying to track stuff down and ended up only picking up a few gifts. Lines in some stores were very long but moved quickly (Gap, J Crew, Nautica). Some stores took the elitist tactic -which some could argue was fire codes but somehow I doubt it - making customers line up outside the store like it was a club (Ugg, Coach, Timberland).

Another funny observation was that we saw a lot of people hauling around suitcases to carry everything they bought (I managed to covertly take a picture of one such person):

By the time we left (around 11 am), the parking lot was packed and cars were circling around and stalking shoppers.

This is a shot of how busy it was by where we parked. We even had a car try to back up and follow us to the car, giving up when he realized how far down we were.

That's why we consider 6 -7 am the perfect time to go; it's after the initial midnight madness rush and before the rest of the shopping world wakes up. Plus, some stores only had sales that lasted until 10 am.

I've got Phu and Pete's gifts done and hope to get the rest of my people on my list completed today while shopping with Jen - we're heading to the mall today!

Thanksgiving Scorpion Bowls

Thanksgiving didn't end with dessert. Andrew's parents, inspired by our visit to the Hong Kong to celebrate Andrew's birthday, bought all the fixings for scorpion bowls!

Andrew's Dad Tom served as the official bartender, mixing up pitchers of the scorpion mix.

The scorpion bowls came garnished with fruit and very long straws.

Amy shows off the reach of her straw.

In true scorpion bowl spirit, everyone was sharing across the table.

Except for me. Since I was the designated driver and because I am battling a cold, I got my own virgin scorpion bowl cocktail. Amanda mixed this concoction for me and Andrew's Mom Charlotte and they were delicious.

One of the nice touches was the colorful leis that all the ladies wore, as Amanda and Charlotte model below:

Fortified with scorpion bowls, we played two raucous and laughter-filled games of Apples to Apples.

Thanksgiving Dinner in Plymouth

Thanksgiving was spent blissfully with Andrew's family in Plymouth. Despite our two-hour-stuck-in-traffic on Route 3 start, Amy, Phu, Joey and I thought it was perfect timing when we arrived in Plymouth to a house filled with delicious smells.

Seated at the table are Tom, Joey, Amy, Amanda, Charlotte and Phu (Andrew was in the kitchen pouring drinks):

This is where I would insert a picture of all the delicious food we ate. Except I was too busy stuffing my face to take a picture so you'll just get a list instead:
  • Turkey
  • Stuffing (made following a traditional Silvia recipe)
  • Silvia trademark mashed potatoes (orange, since carrots are mashed in the mix)
  • Green bean casserole - one of my favorites!
  • Asparagus
  • Creamed corn
  • Fruit jello mold
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Biscuits
  • Olives
  • Celery with cream cheese and celery with pimento cheese
  • Gravy to pour over everything
Following dinner was my favorite, of course dessert!

As you can see from the pictures, we had the choice of homemade pumpkin pie, cinnamon tarts, lemon meringue pie, my turkey cupcakes, almond bars, caramel shortbread bars, white chocolate, cranberry and walnut cookie pie, and Amy's homemade apple crisp. Vanilla ice cream and cool whip were also available and I used both liberally to top my desserts.

Thanksgiving mission, to spend the day with family, friends and good food, was definitely accomplished.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Treats

In addition to the turkey cupcakes, my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner was a cranberry, white chocolate and walnut pie and white chocolate almond bars. If you can't tell, I was on a white chocolate kick!

This is the pie before baking - I cheated and used a store-bought crust.

I was proud afterwards because this was my first pie but I don't think my oven is suited for desserts that need to bake a long time. I had to keep checking on the pie every five minutes because I was afraid it would burn.

The almond bars were great! I think almonds are my favorite nut, and the almonds on top and the almond flavoring in the batter ended up making a great blondie - the reverse of a brownie.

These came out nice and moist with a toasted almond top.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gobble, Gobble!

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your Thanksgiving be filled with family and LOTS of food!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Stupid Battery Charger

As you can tell from the blog, I've been getting a lot of use out of the bright green camera I bought myself in August for my birthday.

When the battery starts dying, I just conveniently pop it into the charger that came with the camera.

Earlier this week, I noticed the little red indicator light wasn't going on. I jiggled all the wires and put the plug in a different outlet. Still no light. So I just kept my fingers crossed and hoped that it was just the charging light was out. But when I put the battery in my camera today, I got the low battery indicator again. Argh!!

So there may not be Thanksgiving pictures after all. I'm resorting to a few more minutes of jiggling the cord and cursing before I vent my displeasure at Circuit City.

I'm Feeling Sick...

It all started on Monday. The minute I stepped into work, I noticed everyone around me sneezing and coughing. Then I started to sneeze a lot. Usually, I pop a Claritin and I’m fine since this takes care of my environmental, indoor allergies. It stopped the sneezing but by the end of the day, I noticed a sore throat.

As a result, starting yesterday, I started pouring vitamins into my body. My daily regimen to thwart a cold includes:

  • Drinking lots of water, on top of the large amount I usually have. This is annoying as it results in me having to go the bathroom way too much (I know, too much information)
  • Taking Airborne in Power Pixies form. In case you’re wondering, I can’t stand drinking regular Airborne because it’s too chalky, grainy and gross. So they have children’s version that you take like pixie stix. It’s actually pretty decent although the bubble gum flavor is horrendous.
  • Taking Hall Defense drops with vitamin C, Echinacea and Zinc. These can only be taken once every four hours so I’ve been taking just regular vitamin C drops in between the Halls Defense drops.

    I think the combination of all these supplements are giving me around a 1000 percent of the vitamin C I need on a daily basis. I hope that I’m successful in nipping any potential cold in the bud, before it progresses past just a sore throat. I’d be disappointed to find out that the only good I’m doing is just peeing large amounts of vitamin C each day. At least I’ll have no fear of getting scurvy!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ex-Monster Gathering

As I mentioned on Sunday, the ex-Monster get together at Rebecca's place was one of the things I was looking forward to most this week. When you put a lot of these former coworkers in one room, good times are sure to ensue. I don't know how to explain it, but there's still a strong sense of camaraderie that spans the group!

I left straight from work but had to go home (which was the opposite direction of where I needed to go home) to pick up the goodies I had baked for the night.

This was important, as the party was supposed to serve as a judging panel for my baked goods. These people had tasted my creations for over two years and I could count on them to tell me what was really good, thus helping me decide on what I should make for next week's bake night/cookie swap.

The White Chocolate, Cranberry and Pistachio cookies were an early favorite but Caramel Shortbread Bars were the clear winner at the end of night. That definitely seals their place for next week. I just need to decide on one more thing. I can't decide if I should go with an old favorite or a new recipe, so I may be doing more recipe test runs this weekend. I also apologize, as I know I've been fixating on these items all week but be warned, this is just the beginning of my holiday baking talk for the week! I also unveiled my Thanksgiving surprise. People loved how they look and were eager to snatch one to take home, but seemed afraid to try one on the spot.

My favorite dish of the night was a crab dip made by Brad's wife Barb. It was INCREDIBLE. I don't even think I would like a crab dip but this dip tasted like horseradish-sour cream goodness. I may need to get this recipe!

Monday, November 24, 2008

White Chocolate, Cranberry and Pistachio Cookies

I told my boss today, the two things I'm worried about the most are getting all my holiday baking done and getting most of my Christmas shopping done before I leave for Japan on December 5. She just laughed and said it didn't surprise her, knowing me and how soon it is before I'm on vacation.

With this in mind, I've made more headway with two of the items I mentioned yesterday. With the purchase of some white sugar and pistachios, I was ready to pull the cranberry/white chocolate butter cookies out of the freezer to slice and bake them. I put transferred the two tubes of cookie dough from the freezer to the fridge this morning so they could thaw the required four hours. When I came home, they were perfect for slicing (firm enough to hold their shape). I dipped the slices in white sugar and put crushed pistachios on the first roll. This is what they looked like before going into the oven...
...and this is what they looked like afterwards.
They were pretty decent and I loved the pistachio on top better than the second batch I did with just sugar as a topping. However, they were a teensy bit too sweet so I think the next time I make the batter, I'll decrease the amount of sugar in the recipe but keep the sugar on top because it looks nice crystallized.
I also spent two and half hours decorating the Thanksgiving cupcakes but the grand reveal for those won't happen until Thursday.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Caramel Shortbread Bars aka Twix Bars

Sundays have lately seemed to be busy baking days for me. I've got three big events that I need baked goods for, so I wanted to get as much done ahead of time. This includes:
  • An "ex-Monster" get-together at Rebecca's (my old boss who was the one that hired me at Monster) on Tuesday night
  • The big Turkey day itself at Andrew's parents' place in Plymouth (as commercials here call it, "America's hometown")
  • The third annual bake-off/cookie swap at Kelli's place on Wednesday, December 3 with Heather and Z - I'm still trying to figure out what I want to make for it (we usually each do two things each)
So today, I made three separate recipes but only ended up completing one.

  1. I baked the cupcakes and mini-cupcakes that will make up my Thanksgiving dessert. I will bring a few of these to Rebecca's on Tuesday but the majority will go to Plymouth on Thursday. I will devote a couple hours to decorating them tomorrow night.
  2. New butter cookie mix with cranberries and white chocolate chips. I've been trying to replicate a cookie I had over a year ago that had cranberries, white chocolate chips and pistachios. I also meant to include pistachios in today's batch but contrary to what I remembered, didn't have any in stock. I formed the batter into two logs that are now in my freezer. The recipe said they needed to be chilled for four hours and then sliced and baked. Since I ran out of white sugar to sprinkle the cookies with, I decided I would bake these later this week. If this recipe is great, it's a possibility for the cookie swap.
  3. New recipe for Caramel Shortbread bars, which involves a layer of shortbread that you bake, followed by a homemade caramel layer and topped with a layer of milk chocolate. I don't know why I didn't realize it when I read the recipe, but these things taste like a rich Twix bar. I may need to make them again for the cookie swap.
The Caramel Shortbread bars were a little hard to cut through (you need to keep them frozen before cutting so the shortbread doesn't crumble too much), but they were heavenly. I love anything with homemade caramel.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I don't get the hype over this series and the movie that was just released.

I kept hearing about this book when the movie was getting plugged. As I'm a big fan of young adult literature or as I put it, books for middle schoolers, I decided to give it a shot one day (plus, I needed to hit the $25 mark to get free shipping from Amazon).

It was ok but it wasn't anything fabulous. In fact, it was very easy for me to put this down in the middle of reading it and walk away and do other things. Which never happens with good books, as I've been known to stay up to the wee hours to finish a book (like Harry Potter!)

But I keep thinking I'm missing something. I'm going to pack this book for my long flight to Japan and order the second book, "New Moon." Perhaps it will keep getting better. Plus, on a 15-hour-plus flight, you'll read anything.

Tory Burch Reva Flats

I don't know how it's happening but slowly I'm finding myself liking more expensive shoes and accessories (this hasn't extended into clothing much yet). I usually don't give into these whims unless I can get a huge discount on it and use a gift card, thus bringing the item to a reasonable price.

Right now, I'm currently lusting over several Tory Burch Reva ballet flats. They range in price from $195 to $250, and I've never spent that much on shoes. I've never spent more than $100 on shoes. In fact, I usually try to spend less than $50.

But these are so pretty:
Tory Burch Reva Ballet
I would get these in black or brown to be practical.

Tory Burch Reva" Croco-embossed Patent Leather Flat

I would go for the fabulous cranberry color with these.

Tory Burch Reva Contrast Logo Patent Ballet Flats
I like the black with the white contrast.
I'm in the process of trying to figure out how I can buy one of these without feeling guilty. There better be some good sales happening over Thanksgiving weekend. I figure with a good 30% coupon and a $50 gift card from my credit company (I get my rewards back in the form of gift cards for popular retailers), I could definitely justify a purchase for under $100.

Tommy Doyles

Last night, we headed to Harvard Square to see one of Andrew's friends play a 45-minute set with his band Moniker. This was their last show in a nationwide tour, which took them to places like San Francisco, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Georgia and back to Boston.

They were playing at a place called Tommy Doyles which I had never heard of. When we arrived there, I realized it was the building that used to be Brother Jimmy's, which in turn used to be the House of Blues.

Matt had a cheering section consisting of half the town of Plymouth as well as Andrew, me, Amy, Joey, Jen, Phu, and Pete.
He did a great job and looked like a pro onstage. As Andrew likes to claim, he's responsible for getting Matt started on his musical career. The reason? Because Andrew had bought a guitar years ago, decided he didn't want it, sold it to Matt's brother Sean, who ended up doing the same thing and selling it to Matt.

As you can tell, we had a great time at the bar (this is the sisterly love shot).

Pete and Amy even did some crazy dancing (although this looks like a "not it" shot).

My Cousin Andrea can actually sing...

...compared to the rest of the family!

As I mentioned in my last Gas Gauge blog, Andrew and I met up with my Uncle Rich to have dinner before we headed off to see Andrea in a play.

Andrew laughed at my hand in this picture but it proves I was actually at the play!

For those of you who don't remember what the premise of the Crucible is, it's set during the Salem Witch trials. A bunch of silly girls who are dancing naked in the woods are caught and start accusing townspeople of being witches to divert the attention from themselves.
Andrea has the best role in the play as "Goody" Elizabeth Proctor. Proctor's accused of witchcraft by one of the girls Abigail, who has slept with her husband John Proctor and is scheming to become his new wife.

I didn't think that The Crucible would have any type of singing in it but the Director must love Andrea (she was mentioned by name as one of the reasons why the play was chosen, as this will be her last play before she graduates in January). She had the only singing part in the play, singing a lullaby offstage before she made her first appearance onstage in Act II. Needless to say, her singing was flawless. She also had the last line of the play.

Unfortunately, none of my other pictures came out too clearly but this is Andrea at the end (center), rocking her large white collar and Puritan dress.

Three and half hours later, the play was over and it took me another hour to get home. This meant I ended up in bed around 1 am, and since I went out last night to see a friend's band, I'm still dragging this morning.

Update: I found a great photo of her in the play!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gas Gauge

I was in Taunton last night, having dinner with Andrew and my uncle Rich and got the chance to scope out gas prices in another area. Taunton has a stretch of highway that always has cheap prices. I saw $1.89 there but was too tired and cold at the end of the night to stop and fill up. Filling up this morning in Waltham only cost me 10 cents more per gallon at $1.99. What I can’t get over is the fact that I paid less than $2. I can’t remember the last time that happened. Each time I fill up now, I look at the total dollar amount and double it in my head, reminding myself that it was that high only a few months ago.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Amish Friendship Bread

Last night was a baking first for me - making Amish Friendship Bread with a starter that Andrew's mom gave me.

What makes this bread unusual is the fact that you use a yeast starter that is given to you by someone else (technically you can make it self, but that ruins the friendship concept!) Over a ten day period, you mush the bag each day and let air out (which smells like beer). On Day 6 and the last day, Day 10, you add milk, sugar and flour. The part that skeezes Andrew out is that you don't refrigerate the starter at all during this process.

Here is the yeast starter below in the ziploc bag on Day 10.

Another secret to making the bread is dusting the pans with a cinnamon/sugar mixture instead of flour, and topping it with the same mixture.

Here's the bread fresh out of the oven and ready for my coworkers to try.
It comes out moist and cinnamon-y - more like a coffee cake.

I made a double batch so that I could share the bread with everyone at work, in the name of friendship. Everyone loved it and told me they could smell the bread while rounding the corner near my desk.

The only problem is that it leaves me with 2 starters to share, after a coworker took one - anyone want one? Otherwise, I may be baking forever!

My Left Arm is Sore

…from getting my free flu shot at work today. This is a benefit that I first started getting at my last job and conveniently, is offered now at my current employer. The conference room where the nurse was set up couldn’t have been closer to my desk – it was literally 20 feet away from where I sit. One form to fill out, a one minute wait in line, a quick jab to the arm, a Band-Aid (without cartoon characters) and I was done. It was definitely an efficient operation, as I was the 49th person to receive a shot even though it was just 9:05 am (apparently, a line formed outside the room at 7:20 am, even thought the nurse wasn’t supposed to show until 7:30 am).

I know there are skeptics out there that doubt that flu shots do much at all. Admittedly, I’m an abnormally healthy person (knock on wood) that rarely gets sick, even in the winters that I wasn’t getting shots. The worst thing to knock me on my butt is usually a cold. However, if the shot is being offered free at work and it’s convenient to get, I consider getting it a no-brainer and a way to hedge my bets.

The only thing to complain about is the shot hurt more than I remembered. My arm feels fine now but I feel like I’m still moving it gingerly. I remember getting shots every year as a kid and holding my arm completely still for an hour after the fact because I was afraid that I would bust open the Band-Aid and liquids would come gushing out! I also went through a phase where I would hysterically laugh for a minute before, during and after getting a shot. Fun times for my poor parents and the staff at the Army dispensaries.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fruits & Passion Campaign

I had a package waiting for me when I got home tonight. I tore into it and realized it was from BzzAgent with everything I needed to participate in their Fruits & Passion campaign.

As you can see, it was loaded with goodies, including:

  • Their famous Cucina hand soap in coriander and olive oil
  • A small sample of Cucina regenerating hand cream
  • A sample of their Argan nourishing butter
  • A sample of their cooling cream gel to be used on feet
  • And the best part - $75 in gift cards to be used at the Fruits & Passion store

What exactly is Fruits & Passion? It's a chain of stores that began in Canada and have now expanded globally to locations like Japan. I think of them kind of like The Body Shop or Bath and Body Works as they sell a variety of lotions, soaps, aromatherapy products, candles, perfume and all sorts of nicely scented products. There's five locations in the US, and I happen to live very close to the Fruits & Passion store in the Natick Collection, the fancy new mall that just opened up 20 minutes away from me.

Although I had never heard of them before, I'm excited to check out the store and put those gift cards to use. From their website, the store layout look colorful, light and airy and they have colorful packaging and bags that prominetly feature the color green, yay! At first glance, I'm eager to check these products out:

Their Green Tea perfume. I love Green Tea as a scent and since my favorite perfumes seem to be discontinued left and right, this may serve as a good replacement.

Fruiting Foaming Bath in Grapefruit - Guava
Not only does the scent sound heavenly, the bottle just looks cool!

Cucina Countertop cleaner - It's biodegradable and has no phosphates, ammonia, chlorine and alcohol

HOTdog Eau de Toilette - Perfume for dogs! I think the packaging is adorable even though I think it's unfair that they don't have a line for cats.
So, I was going to warn everyone to expect Fruits & Passion stocking stuffers for Christmas but I think it may be too easy to buy stuff for myself!

Absolutely Decadent

Hidden behind the Rocky Road, Andrew and I discovered Edy's Girl Scouts Samoas Cookie flavor ice cream over the weekend.

Now, I'm usually skeptical of food items that claim to taste like something else because they usually end up tasting nothing like you expected. This wasn't the case with the Edy's ice cream. It's delicious and the vanilla/caramel ice cream ice cream complements the chunks of Samoas cookies very well. The best part is that the flavor is a part of Edy's Slow Churned line, which means it has 50% less fat and 30% less calories than regular ice cream.

Monday, November 17, 2008


So I've been a member of a word-of-mouth marketing website for over four years called

As a member of the site, you're asked to fill out a few surveys to create a profile. And when a campaign opens up for a product or service and you match the demographics that the site is looking for, you are offered the chance to participate in a campaign.

Basically, you're given the chance to get a bunch of cool stuff for free, often before it hits the market, with no obligation to do anything but try it out and give your honest opinion about it to as many people you feel like.

Even better, if you post a Bzz report detailing how you talked about a product or what you said, someone from Bzz agent will read it, rate it on how thorough it was in terms of including quotes of people said, whether you disclosed you're a BzzAgent, etc, write a comment back about your post and award you points that can be used to get a giftcard for a store of your choice (there used to be actual prizes tailored for each campaign but they just revamped the reward process earlier this year).

So it's a win-win situation. You get free stuff with no obligation. Some campaigns I've been motivated to write 3 -4 reports. Some I've written nothing at all. But this is a sampling of what I've gotten free over the years:

  • Wrigley's Winterfresh & Big Red gum
  • Energizer e2 Lithium batteries
  • Filativa yoga shoes (I still have these brand new somewhere because they were damn ugly)
  • Lemon Snicket: The Bad Beginning Book
  • Betty Crocker Warm Delights
  • Staples One-Touch Stapler (Still my favorite office supply that elicits amazed responses from my coworkers. )
  • Automatic Tape Measure
  • Tickets to a White Christmas performance in Boston
  • Troll dolls
  • Nutella
  • Hershey's Take 5 candy bars
  • Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower cleaner
  • RALPH Hot perfume
  • Sonicare Toothbrush
  • Pledge Duster Plus
  • Movie tickets to The Last Mimzy
  • Eucerin Lotion
  • Chapstick 100% Naturals
  • CVS photo book
  • Canadian Club whiskey
  • Claritin RediTabs
  • Max Factor

It's a pretty sweet deal, huh? I just got offered two new campaigns this week. One for Fruits & Passion and one for Boston Market. More to come on these later.

No e-mail in the White House?

Reading a NY Times article on Obama today, I made a startling realization. Presidents don't use email. Seriously. Apparently, it's a combination of "concerns about e-mail security" and "the Presidential Records Act, which puts ... correspondence in the official record and ultimately up for public review, and the threat of subpoenas."

Even more surprising is the fact that President-elect Obama "hopes to have a laptop computer on his desk in the Oval Office, making him the first American president to do so." (Emphasis mine).

I don't know if this is news to anyone else, but I can't imagine how anyone could do business, let alone run a country, without email. Crazy. Yes, yes, I know email is a relatively new-fangled invention, but still?

I guess this means Andrew can be President - His office doesn't have Internet access. Or email. But that's a whole 'nother story.

Random Thoughts from Tonight

  1. It's really embarrassing having the guy waiting behind you in line watch you insert the Redbox DVD wrong twice in a row before he kindly explains what the large red arrow on the DVD box means (and I've returned these DVDs without a problem before!)
  2. It's irritating to have your favorite machine (elliptical/stairmaster thingies) taken up at the gym and being forced to use random machines near them so you can keep an eye out for an opening. On the plus side, I did burn 40 extra calories doing five minutes on the rowing machine - although, I don't know how sore my arms will be tomorrow!
  3. Thanks to my reading material (People and Entertainment Weekly), I figured out what the meaning of The Killers song "Human," which Camie was obsessed with when she was visiting a couple weeks back. Apparently, the line "Are we human? Or are we dancer?" refers to a Hunter S. Thompson quote, "'America was raising a generation of dancers." Now the song is stuck in my head again and I hope it's stuck in yours too.
  4. Despite what Andrew says, I had no shame in returning a book to the library via its book drop slot while it's still open. Especially since I was still in my running shorts from the gym. The running shorts came in handy since I ran shivering from my car to the book drop and back.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I was in a baking mood today so while Andrew was "watching" football in the living room with his eyes closed, I churned out a batch of pumpkin bread and banana chocolate chip muffins. The muffins are incredibly easy to make and taste wonderful.

I have to say that everyone whose had them loves them and Andrew himself was making up excuses to eat muffins all afternoon - "There's something wrong with the way this muffin looks - I'm going to have to eat it to make sure it's ok."

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 large bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Coat muffin pans with non-stick spray, or use paper liners.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
Combine bananas, sugar, egg, vanilla and melted butter in a large bowl.
Fold in flour mixture, and mix until smooth.
Add chocolate chips and mix.
Top with mini chocolate chips if you have them.
Scoop into muffin pans.
Bake in preheated oven.
Bake muffins for 10 to 15 minutes.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Black Friday Deals at Wrentham

The Wrentham Outlet website has finally posted what the sales are going to be for Thanksgiving weekend. You can see the full list here but here are some good deals at some of my favorite stores:

I think the best types of deals are the ones that make it simple for shoppers - taking a certain percentage off of everything in the store.

I was disappointed by these stores:

Also, I didn't see anything for the Coach store, which is disappointing. Granted, they rarely participate in the sales that the rest of the stores do, but last year, they had extra 10% coupons at the door. I'm hoping that it, along with some other stores I didn't see, are doing unpublicized sales. I'll definitely be checking them all out early Friday morning after Thanksgiving!