Last night, we bought the ingredients for chocolate truffles, one of which was Cool Whip. I have never bout Cool Whip before. I was going to make the truffles this morning, but discovered that I should have left the Cool Whip in the fridge and not the freezer.
I did not have a plan B for what to bring to dinner.
In desperation, I whipped out a book a friend gave me a couple of years ago: The Little Black Book of Chocolate. I have enjoyed reading this book over the years, but I've never actually followed any of the recipes. I read through the book, desperately searching for something I could make with ingredients I had in the house. I finally settled on a brownie recipe.
I've never attempted a real brownie recipe before.
My co-workers are starting a "biggest loser" competition. I can't bring these to work until it's over. I may have to wait until after Eastern Orthodox Lent, just to be fair to everyone. But I will bring these brownies to work some time this year and I will be considered a chocolate goddess. They were amazing. I can't believe they came out of my kitchen.
Even if I didn't notice the instructions that said, "do not over beat," until it was obviously too late.
I knit most of them during the trip to England over Thanksgiving. I knit a very small percentage of the total hats knitted by my co-workers.
I like participating in this. In case you hadn't noticed in a previous post, I get tired of the request for money. Money seems to be spent begging for more money. By knitting a baby hat, I know exactly what my donation is going to. It's very satisfying to know exactly what my donation is doing. In fact, even if my donation were stolen, it wouldn't bother me. You steal my money, you're probably going to spend it on luxuries. You steal my baby hat, well, what are you going to use it for? A baby? Go ahead. Make my day!
I also wanted to make the Noro scarf. Unfortunately, the scarf wasn't too happy about this. I had inconsistent tension up the two sides of the scarf. I couldn't get excited about the colors. I started and re-started it a couple of times. Finally, I realized what was wrong.
The yarn didn't want to be a scarf. It wanted to be a hat.
Sad but true, my life seems to develop short-term themes. Last year it was plumbing. I replaced a sink and faucet at home in the U.S. and replaced some parts in a toilet in the U.K.
This year it was mice.
Before we left for England, we realized we had a mouse in the house when we witnessed one running across the top of the garage door. A brief, depressing debate about how to deal with this ensued.
It turns out that the "humane" catch-and-release traps are actually not that humane. Consider: mouse is stuck in a small box until some human comes, takes him to a place he's never been before, and releases him. Lock yourself in a closet for six hours and then go to the middle of some foreign country with no resources and see how long you'd last. At best, the mouse usually gets eaten - at worst, just dies of shock anyhow.
So, even though we concluded that "kill it quickly instead of torturing it" was a more humane method of dispatching said mouse, the first trap we came across was a catch-and-release style, so we went with it.
As did the mouse.
And the mouse chewed his way out within about six hours. Time to go to the hardware store (instead of the grocery store) and buy a real mousetrap.
Now, I was taught to be afraid of mousetraps. My family went out of their way to make sure that I didn't play with them when I ran across them. So when I was presented with two styles of trap - one traditional snap and one like a clip, I went for the clip. When you dispose of a mouse from the clip, chances are you won't have to touch the little corpse. That sounded like a better option to me.
Ha ha. I had a very quick disappointment. We baited the traps with a little cheese and the mouse investigated, but the traps snapped mouse-empty. Back to the store with us. We then picked up two traditional snap traps with a fake-cheese integrated bait and set them along with the clip traps. Voila! We got a mouse - in one of the clip traps.
So, over the course of the next week or so, I set the traps in lots of different places around the house and switched to peanut butter as bait. I dispatched several mice, and at no time did I ever suffer a bait-snatching incident. I concluded that this was the product of an overactive imagination:
Then we went to England where, one afternoon, we came face-to-face with a very alert-looking little unwelcome house guest.
Now, we knew there were mice in the house. He'd left his calling card everywhere, and in fact, when we ran across him, we had already vacuumed up a couple of nests and had been setting traps for several days.
This mouse could steal bait off a snap trap. In fact, he was really good at it. He could also steal bait out of a rocker catch-and-release trap. We didn't catch him until the last day there - using a clip-style trap (which he had managed to set off without incident a couple of times already) which had come pre-baited with - you got it - peanut butter.
Eight days of being outwitted by ONE mouse ... English mice would seem to be smarter than American mice. Just sayin'.
I have supported various charities over the years. Some I support regularly, and some I support as part of a larger fundraising event. Since I can't afford to give generously to every charity that I like, I give a little bit to some and more to others and leave it at that.
For instance, I have participated in the Yarn Harlot's Doctors Without Borders challenges. Since then, they have sent me a letter in the mail at least once a month and have taken up calling me to ask me for more donations. I am sure they have spent the entire original donation I sent them trying to get another couple of dollars out of me.
When my friend married her partner, the cancer survivor, they asked for donations to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. They haven't used up my donation looking for the follow-up yet, but they're working on it.
Clearly, I need to stop giving the smaller donations. I really don't want to. I want to be able to give a one-time donation to a worthy organization and not hear from then for maybe a year. I don't mind them reminding me of their existence, but they come up with these campaigns. "Don't you care about X? We're working on that right now. Couldn't you give us a donation toward that? You do realize that the world will end if we can't get enough people to chip in on this, don't you?"
And don't get me started on the fake surveys. Or the "Will you send a letter to all of your neighbors? We'll mail you a kit and you can just mail the letters to your neighbors, collect the money and mail it back to us." Or the ones who call or write to people who haven't lived at this address for over fifteen years and get all huffy when I point out that they've wasted perfectly good money on a worthless list. Or the ones that send out a "gift" of a cross or an angel or return address labels or holiday cards in advance thanks for your generous donation.
I work for a not-for-profit. And we're not really good at raising money. We don't contact our donors every single month by mail and phone with some new emergency they just have to cough up some money to support. We do hold occasional events to raise funds. I think we could do better if we joined the rest of the charity world and pestered people more often, but I'm really glad that we don't.