Monday, January 17, 2011

I've decided to start up my food blog again. If you like to cook, like to eat, or just like to look at pictures of pretty food, check it out:

The Hybrid Cook

Feel free to comment on any of the posts, share recipes with me, or just suggest foods/recipes for me to try.

Monday, June 07, 2010

My nephew and niece's birthdays this year called for another round of my famous (in my family, anyway) birthday cakes.

For David, I went with a Guitar Hero cake:

I had actually intended for it to look like an actual guitar, but I couldn't figure the strings out (none of the local stores had thin-enough licorice strings), so opted for the Guitar Hero look at the last minute. Of course, I didn't tell my nephew that, and he loved it.

For my niece, I had originally planned on making a cake in the shape of a tub of popcorn, since her party theme was "Hollywood." But she turned 12 this year, so I opted for making her more of a girly cake instead:

To make the star, I frosted and refrigerated the cake to firm up the frosting, then put a star decal on the top and dusted some (OK, a lot of) granulated sugar over the cake. When I removed the decal, the star shape remained. For the stars on the second cake, I melted yellow chocolate and put it in star-shaped molds. After about 15 minutes of refrigeration, I put them all over the cake. All the girls loved it.

I'm always a little sad when they cut into the cake, because it takes me so long to make them, but I enjoy doing it and hope it's something they remember as they get older: "Remember the year Tia made the cell-phone cake for your birthday?"

And at least I have a whole year to think about what to make for their next birthdays!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

My new e-reader finally arrived!

I'm not the type of person who goes out and buys the latest tech gadgets, and I wasn't especially keen on getting an e-reader, but when I saw it on sale at Woot for just over $100, I couldn't resist. I figure that even if I don't love-love it, it's at a price point that I won't feel too terribly bad about it.

After work, I'm heading over to the library to get an updated library card so I can borrow books digitally. No sense paying $10 a book if I don't have to.

Weeeeee! Off to the library I go!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

My sister was recently given a list of all the foods she can’t eat while pregnant. The list included things like eggs, soft cheeses, deli meat, and fish exposed to industrial pollutants.

Remember how, in the olden days, women could eat pretty much anything while they were pregnant? Nowadays, foods are riddled with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and a number of other unhealthy things. This got me thinking about all the chemicals I’m putting into my body with every bite I take.

My grandmother, who is a fairly healthy 89 years old, eats pretty much only the food she’s able to grow herself. I have never seen her so much as try a Pringle (though she does have an affinity for Kit-Kats). She raises her own chickens and grows her own vegetables, and when she eats fish (often) or red meat (rarely), she buys it locally and knows exactly where it’s coming from.

So, starting tomorrow, I’m going to be doing what I call "The Grandma Diet." If my grandmother wouldn’t eat it, then neither will I. If I can’t buy it locally or make it myself, or if it isn’t organic or natural, it will not go in my body.

Now, am I going to start a chicken ranch in my backyard? No. But can I be more conscious of what I’m putting into my body? Absolutely.

I know it won't be easy. I’m going to sorely miss potato chips, store-made bread, fast-food chili, and all those other yummy treats to which my body has become so accustomed. But, in the end, I hope I’ll be healthier and more attuned to my body. And if I lose a few pounds, well that will just be a nice ol’ bonus.

I’ll post my food intake here, and if I struggle with anything in particular, I’ll post that here, too. Who knows, maybe I’ll inspire you to take the journey with me. If so, let me know how you’re doing with it, and if you have any food suggestions/tips, please feel free to share here.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some junk food to eat before I start the diet...

Friday, April 16, 2010

A discussion I had yesterday on Facebook made me think back to the good ol' days of grammar school. Ahh, life was so much simpler then.

I lived right across the street from the school, S.A. Roberson, so getting there was easy. And all my friends lived within one or two blocks of my house, so we would all get together after school to rollerskate or pretend we were the cast of "Three's Company" or "Charlie's Angels." (Because one of my friends was blonde, I always wound up being the brunette character -- i.e., the one that wasn't much fun. I think I'm still a little bitter about that...)

I also remember fondly the teachers I had at Roberson, especially Mrs. Kotter, the 7th- and 8th-grade teacher. She really tried to make learning fun and keep us kids interested. I loved the days when we got to play College Bowl to see who remembered the most about the previous night's homework. I always won, but I don't know if that says more about how much of a nerd I was or how little my classmates actually studied...

Anyway, in the 8th grade, we were all required to take home-ec and woodworking classes. I can't believe they actually let pre-teens use electric saws and cutters. Heck, I can't believe they let us in the same room as them! But I loved woodworking. At the time, "Remington Steele" was the popular show on TV, and I remember making a wooden plaque that said, "I [Heart] Remington Steele." I got into quite a bit of trouble with the teacher, who did not take kindly to me using so much wood on a stupid sign. Listen, buddy, you give me some wood and an electric saw, and then you don't supervise what I'm doing, you're going to have to take what you get.

But the best, and most useful, thing I ever made was this cutting board:

It wasn't complicated -- I cut pieces of wood to the same size and glued them together -- but I still use it to this day. I've bought more modern cutting boards since then, but I always go back to my trusty wooden cutting board. It does the trick.

It's a shame schools don't offer these kinds of classes anymore. No, I never became a seamstress or woodworker, but it's an experience I will never forget and I think it makes kids more well-rounded. Plus, I got a cutting board, too. And really, can you ask for more than that?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ever have a day/week/month when you wish you could just run away and start a new life in a new town, where no one knew anything about you and you could start fresh?

I love my job, and my family, and I know I’m very fortunate to have the life I have -- yada yada yada. But I feel I’m at an impasse.

I’ve been thinking more and more about selling off all my belongings and moving to Spain. I’m sure part of it is that I’m increasingly dissatisfied – and scared – at the direction this country is moving in. But another part of it is the desire to just start over. No strings, no connections, just a fresh start.

Could I be going through a midlife crisis? Probably. Experiencing the beginnings of a nervous breakdown? Perhaps. But when your days are filled with daydreams of witnessing a major crime so you can be put in the Witness Protection Program, you know it’s time to start rethinking things.

Now I just have to decide what it is I actually want to do. That’s the hard part.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Good fences make good neighbors? Sometimes it takes more than a fence.

When we get heavy rains, our neighbor's basement floods, and that often makes our basement flood. If the water gets high enough, it doesn't have anywhere to go, so it goes through the walls into our basement.

A year ago, we asked our neighbor (let's call him Señor Douche) to fix it by putting in a sump pump. To his credit, he did. Unfortunately, he also put the other side of the pump -- you know, the side the water comes out of -- into our backyard, without asking, by tearing down two slats in the fence that divides our property.

Imagine waking up and looking outside to see a part of your fence torn down and a hose lying on the ground. "WTF?!?"

We asked Señor Douche to remove the hose, which he did -- by piping the hose into our gutters.

So we asked him, yet again, to come up with another solution, and to fix the fence, to which he replied, "Oh, we're just going to put in a new fence." Ok, great! Even better.

However, when Señor Douche replaced the fence, he put in a door that opens up into our backyard. I know it sounds like I'm pulling your leg; I promise I'm not.

We nailed the door shut and told Señor Douche he needed to find another way to drain the water that didn't involve our gutters, as the hose would often pop out of the gutters and spray a rush of water onto our backyard, drowning our poor plants and giving Plato heart palpatations as he sat on the ground next to the fence door and got molested by the onrush of tepid rain water.

Can you guess what Señor Douche's brilliant solution was? If you said "cut a hole in the fence and pipe the hose into your backyard while you're not home," ding, ding, ding -- you win the prize!

Still, I didn't want to cause a fuss, since it's just water, so I let it go. But in the winter, the water would freeze, causing a safety hazard to anyone walking by. So, last month I wrote him a letter asking him to remove the hose from our property and fix the fence.

It turns out Señor Douche is either stupid or crazy -- or both. He wrote a letter back saying the fence is a shared fence, and he had a right to cut a hole in it. Furthermore, since our house is a corner house, he has a right to use our backyard, and would be re-installing the door. And, if we remove the pipe, he can't guarantee our basements won't flood again.

Dude, you know what? You messed with the wrong woman. I think we've been more than accommodating. I could have called the police on your stupid ass the day you came onto our property and piped the hose through our backyard. I was trying to be nice, and that was my mistake. But now you have awakened the beast. You won't like the beast when she's angry.

I'm talking to a lawyer now, and he has advised me to call the police and file a report for trespassing. I think that might just make it worse, though. Instead, I'll probably just take the pipe and shove it up ... er, I mean, back onto his backyard. Either way, it's not going to be pretty.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I'm baaaaaaack.

I have decided to start up the ol’ blog again. I love Facebook, but it just is not a great outlet for sharing my deepest, darkest thoughts about a number of Very Important Issues. And forget about Twitter -- that’s just for work, so you know I can’t share what I really think there...

I haven't posted here since September 2008, but it feels like hardly any time at all has passed since I wrote about fly poop, my brief brush with venereal disease, and the horror of being called my sister’s mom.

I’ll try to keep things as entertaining and light as possible, unless another priest ticks me off.

Feel free to comment whenever a posting strikes your fancy, and if there’s an issue you’d like me to tackle in my own inimitable Maria Diarrhea style, let me know.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

All good things must come to an end -- including, sadly, this blog.

Yes, folks, I'm shutting her down.

I've been publishing the blog for a couple of years now, and I've had a lot of fun doing it, so it's not a decision I made lightly. But I just don't have the time (and, let's face it, the life) to sustain the blog any longer. Really, what was the last interesting thing I posted? Yeah, I thought so.

But don't fret, you won't get rid of me that easily. You can find me on Facebook (Maria Perez). I'll post all my pics, musings, etc., on there, so you'll still be able to get your daily dose of Maria (minus the Diarrhea, regrettably).

When one door opens, another one closes. Or whatever that means. I don't even really think it's apropos to this situation; it just seemed like the right thing to say.

Aw, admit it, you're gonna miss me. Sniff, sniff.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

So I get home from work last night and am waiting for the roofer to come look at the leak that happened during the last storm, and my sister comes running upstairs. Turns out the toilet and sink in the downstairs bathroom was stopped up, and when she put Drano down the drain, the -- how should I put this? -- "stuff" started coming up the shower drain. The entire shower floor was covered in "stuff." (I don't have to get specific, do I?)

So I called my brother, who, God bless him, came over right away. We plunged the toilet and the shower drain, which released the clog, but the pipes were still stopped up. So we unscrewed them and had to -- by hand, mind you -- remove all the "stuff" that was blocked from going out the pipe.

Yes, there I was, with little yellow gloves on my hands, removing "stuff" from the pipes into a bucket, then taking it out to the sewer to discard it.

And so now, when you think of the phrase, "That smells like shit," you will think of me.

(I don't know why I bothered writing "stuff" for the entire posting and then just using the word "shit," but there you go.)

I took a nice, long, hot shower last night, but I can't get the smell out of my brain. I hope to God I don't smell, but you never know, do you? Maybe I'll go ask someone, but then how would I explain the question? Ah, never mind, if I do smell like, well, shit and someone has a problem with it, too bad. I had my hands full (ha!) last night.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

You know the saying "You're only as old as you feel?" Whoever came up with that lied.

My sister was feeling under the weather today, so I took the day off work and went to the doctor with her. He gave her some prescriptions, so I went to the pharmacy with her. They said it'd take about an hour, and she had to get to work, so I told the pharmacist I'd pick them up for her. The pharmacist looks at my sister and says, "Oh, ok, so your mom will pick them up in about an hour."


Granted, my sister is 12 years younger than I, but really, her mom?!?

My sister quickly corrected her, and the pharmacist was mortified. She turned beet red and got flustered, apologizing over and over. "No big deal," I said. "You just made a sale. I'm now going to check the anti-aging creams."

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I'm back from Spain. I'm not happy about it, but I'm back. Actually, that's not true. I love living here. I just wish I could have the best of both worlds. I wish Spain were closer so I could visit as often as I'd like. But then it wouldn't be as special, I suppose.

Anyway, I'll give you a basic idea of what my days were like: wake up around 10, have a little breakfast (usually a croissant, because we all know you can't gain weight on vacation -- it's been proven!), go for a walk along the beach, read a book, have lunch, take a siesta, go to the beach, have dinner, go for another walk along the beach, sleep, repeat.

I know, that sounds horrible, doesn't it? I don't know how I survived. Somehow I made it through, and I have pictures to prove it.

Yes, most of them look like the pictures from last year, but I really did go to Spain, I promise. It's just that our town doesn't really change much. One look at me, though, and you'll know for sure that it's one year later. I gotta start investigating some anti-aging options. ;-)

Well, here are the pics. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them:

Spain 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

Alrighty, I'm off to paradise:

God willing, you'll be hearing from me again in September. :-)

Monday, August 11, 2008

My birthday celebration continued this weekend. You know, this birthday thing is starting to grow on me ... lol

Saturday, my sister and I went to Long Island to meet up with my friend Janet. We went to Bobby's Burger Palace, a new burger place opened by Bobby Flay. It was deelish. I had a cheeseburger with potato chips on it, Janet had a burger with peppers and onions, and Laura had the Philly burger (with provolone and hot red peppers). Of course, we added french fries and onion rings, the latter of which were the best onion rings I've ever tasted -- no joke. And the dipping sauce. OMG, it was great. My sister also had a chocolate malted, but I was a good girl and just had iced tea. I did have a taste of the fresh whipped cream on her malted though. Seriously, that was the best whipped cream. Gee, you think I enjoyed the meal? LOL. Thanks, Janet, for the bday treat!

So Laura and I were driving home, and I say, "Let's go to AC" -- and so we did. We got there around 10 p.m., and got home at 6 a.m. I only lost $60, so it wasn't too bad, but man, I gotta tell you, I am too old for overnight trips. Yesterday was pretty much a wasted day for me, and I don't really like that feeling. Next time, it'll either be a day trip or we'll get a hotel room for the night. It was not safe driving home that tired. I literally had to hold my eyelids open. Never again.

This week I'll be getting ready for my trip to Spain. Can't wait! So if you don't hear from me, don't worry ... I'll just be stuck underneath a pile of clothes I can't quite get motivated to pack. ;-)