Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Stuff

We've been focused on retirement planning lately, and for about 30 seconds I thought that Mike and I could plan to refinish and resell furniture together. And then I thought about how sore I am right now, and realized that was a bad plan.

Why I took my kids' toys away and the 40 hanger closet are both pretty inspiring to me.

Sarah Silverman on Jesus, money, and her in-progress musical.

ArtPrize 2014. Calendar marked. I think I'm going to apply. You should too.

I want a tart pan stat so I can make this insanely beautiful rhubarb tart.

Why online retailers mail so many catalogs.
"Williams-Sonoma maintains a database of 2,000 privately owned houses that serve as locations for catalog photo shoots. More than half the company's marketing budget goes to catalog production and mailing." Wowza.

10 brilliant books -- my to-read list is out of control.

How to drink beer all night and not get drunk

Obama Gets A Taste Of Jiro's 'Dream' Sushi In Name Of Diplomacy. Still want to see that movie.

37 people reveal the most WTF thing they ever saw at a friend's house. If these are all true, I'm seriously disturbed. via Shutterbean

Friday, April 25, 2014

Week 17

The item: Baby gate
The backstory: This prevented our daughter from tumbling down our steep set of wooden stairs when she was a wee babe. Now she's old enough that we don't need it -- although I still wouldn't be surprised if she thought it would be fun to fling herself down them.
Method of expulsion: Sold online.
Monetary impact: $20
YTD monetary impact: $308.88

Confused? Here's what's going on.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Stuff


Two of the best things I ate this week.

I want to start following the lead of a friend who celebrates Springsgiving on the same weekend that Easter falls every year. They include some secular things like baskets and an egg hunt, have a big dinner packed with all spring foods, and the celebration is all about "spring, rebirth, and growth (literal and emotional)" -- including sharing one personal goal for the "year" ahead. I'm thankful for the idea, and excited about creating and celebrating a holiday about personal growth and the bounty of spring.

10 things Japan gets incredibly right. via The Wanderlusting Expat

The case for fewer -- but better -- clothes.

The little change that instantly gets you in the work zone. Wild. via Sassy Radish

I want all of these gritty cityscapes by Jeremy Mann. via Dooce

Amy Schumer takes on The Newsroom and nails it.

If you've seen Frozen (once, or twice, or...), I think you'll appreciate how it should have ended.

An insanely beautiful DIY bellini bar.

Police mugshots used to be really badass. via Kate

Savoring. via Kate


Friday, April 18, 2014

Week 16

The items: Quite the week --
  • Curtains. Four windows worth of stripy curtains.
  • I forgot to report that I sold a ceiling fan in a previous week!
  • Drinking glasses.
The backstory:
  • Curtains: These were in the house when we bought them, and I thought they'd be one of the first things to go. (Neither of us are particularly fond of curtains. At least in this house.) Fast-forward to almost four years later, and they were still here -- but with new cellular shades in our future, I thought I'd see if I could sell them, and I did!
  • Fan: We ordered mini-fans for our kitchen, but one came with a chip, so we got a replacement, and sold the one with the chip. 
  • Glasses: We got these for our wedding, and love them. They're colorful, and feel perfectly heavy in your hand, but we just don't use them. I'm a bit of a glassaholic, and we have way more than we reasonably need.
Method of expulsion: Sold online.
Monetary impact: $120
YTD monetary impact: $288.88

Confused? Here's what's going on.

Monday, April 14, 2014

When Negativity Wins

Last week I was crazy excited to see my grandmother's cake featured as a Wildcard Winner, right smack dab on Food52's homepage. It was a complete surprise to me, and I was giddy!

It didn't take very long though for comments and emails to roll in, asserting that the panocha frosting was absolutely a misspelling, it had to be penuche frosting, and that panocha was a vulgar slang word in Mexico.

They were right, in part at least. Panocha is a slang word for a woman's body part in Mexico (I think we get a little too riled up about talking about body parts too, but I guess that's a discussion for another day), but it is also a established accepted spelling of the frosting, not a misspelling. I found one example for a recipe for panocha frosting from back in 1938, and in The Culinarian: A Kitchen Desk Reference, Barbara Ann Kipfer writes: "Penuche was once very popular in Hawaii, where the name was localized as panocha or panuche."

Words matter. Names matter. (I might have gotten a bit riled up myself on this topic once or twice.) I never want to intentionally offend someone, and I recognize that words and their meaning change over time, so I might be more sympathetic to the backlash if the only current recognized use was as slang, but that isn't the case either. (I would also wager a guess that it's not uncommon for a number of words to have a neutral meaning in one location and a less desirable definition in another.) Panocha is also a type of fudge-like candy, and thanks to a kind commentor, I learned that in the Philippines the word panocha also refers to a type of unrefined cane sugar as well as a peanut brittle-like candy.

Regardless, the name of the frosting has been changed. I'm not going lie, I cried hot angry tears. Yes, more people are still going to be introduced to the cake, which is a wonderful thing, but it's not quite the same. The name has been in use for at least four generations of my family, and as such, it's a piece of history. It's hard to lose that to people upset over a slang word.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Week 15

The item: Clothes. I know, surprise, surprise. Any one want to place a bet on how many weeks of the year end up being clothing?
The backstory:
After the clothing swap, there were quite a few items that ended up not working for me.
Method of expulsion:
Some were passed on to a friend to see if they worked for her, and others were dropped off at a clothing donation bin, this one was for the Michigan Humane Society.
Monetary impact: $0
YTD monetary impact: $168.88

Confused? Here's what's going on.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Week 14

(Not a coffee grinder. In order to protect the not-so-innocent.)

The item: Coffee grinder.

The backstory: Mike received a coffee grinder as a Christmas gift -- I'm counting it as fair game in this weekly expulsion business since I used it all the time. It broke (twice), and I had the most frustrating interactions of all time with company name's "customer service" representatives. Needless to say, I will not be introducing any more of their products into my kitchen in the future. If you'd like to get aggravated right along with me, you can get the gist of it from my final email to them:

Dear name and the rest of the company name team -

I understand, it's my fault that I didn't fill out the original warranty card. (Honestly, I've never been good about filling out warranty cards in the past for any type of product, because I've never needed to be. I've never had a product break this quickly, and I've definitely never had the same product break twice in one year. So I'd like to thank you for teaching me a valuable lesson, albeit a painful way for me to learn it, I will now always fill out every product warranty card that crosses my path.) Thus company name didn't have to send a replacement grinder for the one that broke after only 9 months of use, so while I truly appreciate that, I don't remotely feel like a "Valued Customer." 

More than a functional coffee grinder, it would be nice to feel as though company name actually cared about my business or the fact that I've had two dysfunctional products. My interactions with company name's customer service have felt like I'm going into battle, like I need to somehow prove myself. I'm sure company name receives a large volume of customer service emails, but a standard form response of "I apologize for the inconvenience you're experiencing" doesn't begin to express any real empathy or sorrow for dealing with a coffee grinder that broke after 9 months, and then one that broke after 2 months. A little personalization, something along the lines of -- "Gosh, I'm so sorry you've had two of our coffee grinders break in less than a year. That shouldn't happen, and I apologize." -- would go miles in terms of brand loyalty. As an avid home cook and a food writer, kitchen tools and gadgets are pretty much my life; it seems that my future kitchen appliances will be purchased elsewhere.

Many thanks for your time,

This is the point where I wish I was a famous blogger, so when an appliance broke and I got crappy service, I could rant about it, and get an awesome response from a competitor. But I'm not, and frankly, I shouldn't have to be famous to get good service. Every single person on the planet should get great service. We should all be treating each other with kindness and respect and empathy, and hot damn would we all feel better and be happier.

Method of expulsion: I really wanted to take care of this grinder Office Space-style, but we tried to be responsible and see if it could be repaired. It could -- for far more than the cost of a new grinder. We could have taken it to be recycled, but we would have had to pay to do so. Apologies Mother Earth, this baby is headed for a landfill.
Monetary impact: Hours and hours of frustration and mental anguish. $0
YTD monetary impact: $168.88

Confused? Here's what's going on.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


“It’s never too be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”

-- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Screenplay by Eric Roth.