Sunday, December 20, 2009

Vanilla Extract Project: Failure

So, I went to check on my vanilla extract project and found it to be a failure.

Oh yeah, they look fine from far, but look closer and you'd see this:

Um... what? Is that mold in 80 proof vodka??
(I made the image a little smaller so you don't have to see the detail in its gross glory.)

Just like that, $50 down the drain. I don't really know what went wrong here but I made this little image of some possibilities:

I'm still surprised that mold can grow at all in 80 proof vodka. I accidentally knocked one of the bottles over without any spillage so I don't think it's the airtight issue. Although, it looked like a lot of recipes I found online used mason jars. It doesn't really make much sense for it to grow mold just because it wasn't covered all the way, especially since only the submerged part grew. And the vodka? It's vodka.

I'm thinking it's the Rodelle beans. What do you guys think? I don't know what else to change for the next time I try this.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Potlucks Galore

I need a recipe book for potlucks. I'm slated for FOUR potlucks this month alone, five if you count Thanksgiving being so close to Dec. I can't keep making the same dishes.

Any recommendations? Do you usually make a big batch of things that can be scooped up (like salads) or things that can be picked up one by one (like shrimp)?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Let the Holiday Parties Begin!

Tomorrow is Clement's office holiday party. Saturday is the holiday party for my Toastmasters club, the Master Motivators, which is my little project these last few weeks. One more TM holiday party is coming on the 15th, and this is all before the holidays actually begin!

I spent two days teaching myself how to use Adobe Illustrator to make this flier! Names and addresses, obviously, edited out to protect the innocent. Illustrator is fun, by the way, and I think my Ad-Sense money is going to go toward a Bamboo Tablet/Pen. =D

How many holiday parties are you attending this month?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Justice System, Just A System

Yesterday, Clement and I were in San Diego for our small claims court date. We drove down Monday night and stayed with a friend (thanks, Jason and Patty!) because we were scheduled for 9:30 AM Tuesday morn.

Mourn, indeed.

Let me backtrack a little and tell you about the case. When Clement and I decided to move out in early summer, our roommates found a replacement in the way of the guy's old Navy friend. As a show of good faith (and out of the need for someone who was willing to take over the lease for the handful of months remaining), I had Clement write a check to the leasing office for rent for the month of August and half of it was to be reimbursed by the new tenant. His check bounced. We called him, he apologized, and we began making arrangements for a money order to be sent instead of a personal check. And nothing came. So Clement and I called him again. Repeatedly. We called the roommates. Repeatedly. We called the leasing office. Repeatedly. Finally, we filed for small claims.

Then came Hassle Part 2, which was serving him the papers. Because he was never around, our certified mailing of the court papers never made it to him. I asked a friend to file substitute service, which means leaving a copy with the roommates (whom, by the way, also owed money from this guy at this point) and mailing another copy. (Thanks, Lisa.) Despite all our best efforts, there was no way to ensure that he ever actually saw the paperwork. However, we had done everything we could with the information we had and we were pressed for time since the lease was ending. If we didn't get this done before they moved out, we wouldn't have an address for him.

We did our research. We prepped our case. And off we went to the San Diego Superior Court.

Even though websites told us most cases would take 10-15 mins, we were at the courthouse for about 2 hours. The 8:00AM block went over. Our case was placed in the middle of the 9:30 block. After a misplaced "Proof of Service" form was dug up, we finally went before the judge. The case before ours was a little amusing, which provided a brief moment of distraction and relaxation. The defendant, who called in instead of appearing and wouldn't stop talking over the judge, had to be told several times by the judge "Shut up, Ms. Davis." And I thought only TV judges did that.

Before we presented the case, the bailiff asked us if he was in the military. Yes, we responded, he is in the Navy. She and the judge winced. The judge seemed regretful as she informed us about all the protection that military personnel had. Maybe she has seen a lot of people hide behind it. Because we had no evidence that he was not deployed (how could we, when we don't even have a phone number for him), our case was rescheduled.

What a hassle.

But there are always silver linings, I suppose. The judge agreed to hear our case next time even if he does not show up, if we can provide a letter or some other evidence that he's not off fighting for our nation. She kindly rescheduled us for a Friday, which means Clement doesn't have to run down there in the middle of the week, between work days. Plus, we may actually get some time to visit with people if we stay the weekend.

As we stood in line at the Small Claims Business Office, I chatted up this elderly woman with a friendly smile. She told me about her case -- they were suing a painting company for taking their contract and their money, only to do a bad job and run off. We bonded over our laments that the defendants in our cases were so hard to track down. Their case has been going for a year but they were determined not to let these people get away with it. I decided they were right. It's not about the money. If people get away with stuff like this, it should never be because no one wanted to try and stop them. Working the system, though, is another story...

"It is not a Justice System. It is just a system." ~Bob Enyart

Part 2 next month, after the hearing in early January.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Blogging for Money

I know, the words are kinda small in the uploaded pic. Click on the link for the bigger version.

This is extra funny to me as a former WoW chick but I'm betting a few others will enjoy it too.

Unfortunately, I have reluctantly decided to skip PINT for yet another week. I'm going down to SD for all of 24 hours to support Clement in his small claims case against a former roommate. It's not fun times and has been quite frustrating. Believe me, you'll be seeing a blog post very soon about small claims court and what a blast we're having with it. (Sarcasm on high.)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Indoor Snowman at a Grocery Store

I was in a Superior Grocers yesterday and spotted these adorable displays of soda boxes!

Snowman, complete with "carrot" nose and scarf.

And a Christmas tree!

I feel that holiday spirit kicking in! Any awesome displays at your stores?

Friday, November 27, 2009

How to Remove Sticky Labels

Personally, my tried-and-true method is to use a blow-dryer. Just aim the heat all over the label for about 5-10 mins. It will dry out the adhesive and the entire thing will come off in one clean piece. Test one little corner after a couple minutes before removing the entire thing. You will not believe how easy and smooth this is.

LifeHacker also suggests using peanut butter or a standard pink eraser to get rid of the leftover gunk. Sharon Cole, of A Dream Wedding, told me that Goo Gone is her best friend when it comes to removing extra gunk when you're on the go (which a wedding coordinator always is).

But I've never had any extra gunk left over from my tried-and-true method... just saying. ;-)

Keep this in mind when removing the price tags over the next few weeks as you prep for the holiday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Just Checking In

Hi all,

I just wanted to drop in to say hello and sorry for skipping PINT today. Like I mentioned before, I'm working on two holiday parties as well as a bachelorette party. I've spent the last 2 days teaching myself how to use Adobe Illustrator to make fliers! (It's kind of hard.)

I hope everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving and a safe Black Friday. I'm still deciding what to make for a potluck Thanksgiving dinner. Last year, I made vanilla bean mousse. What kind of less-than-traditional dishes are you serving this year?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Post-It Note Tuesday

It's that time again!

*BP planning duties are outlined in the unofficial MOH handbook... I've never attended a BP or planned one, but I thought this needed clarification because it sounded semantically like it was for me. It's not.
*My friend says sometimes when she puts the iPhone up to her face to call, there will be contact with her cheek and the phone and the phone will decide to call another person.

Shoot, I think I have entirely too much text in here for a PINT post... I'm not supposed to explain these, am I? I promise next week will be better.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Vanilla Extract Project

After sitting on this idea for several months, I finally decided to start my Vanilla Extract Project a.k.a. homemade vanilla extract. I read a lot of variations on the recipe so I just kind of... meshed them together. Here's my version!

Step 1: Round up your supplies.
Supplies (left to right, clockwise):
  • Measuring cup - actually, this was just for making pouring easier. I didn't measure the exact amount that went into each bottle but they held about half a cup of liquid.
  • Funnel - unless you're extremely patient and have excellent hand-eye coordination, you need this for pouring. I am not.
  • Alcohol - I used vodka but I read that rum and gin were also popular choices. I chose Belvedere because a State guy once swore by it while making fun of Grey Goose. (And we all know those SDSU kids know their alcohol. =P)
  • Vanilla Beans - I got Rodelle vanilla beans from Costco, which come in these 2-pack fancy glass containers of 5 each. (10 beans, for I believe $12.something.) These beans were okay but I liked the organic ones I got from the food co-op better, so next time I will probably not get the Costco ones again.
  • Vinegar/Oil bottles - I got mine at Michael's crafts... Sorry I don't remember the exact price but they are definitely reasonable, plus it comes with the cork.
  • Cutting board and knife - self-explanatory.
Step 2: Cut your vanilla beans length-wise.

(I had no idea this was vanilla looked like before I did my first vanilla project... I bet you never knew vanilla beans were really just the little tiny black specks in your vanilla ice cream. Vanilla not looking so bland anymore, is it?)

Step 3: Use one vanilla bean per bottle and carefully pour the vodka in each one. Pour slow! You don't want to spill a bunch of vodka like I did. =(

Step 4: Cork your bottles tightly and store in a cool, dark place out of sunlight. The proportion I used is 1/2 cup vodka to 1 vanilla bean, so according to the websites I read, this will be ready to use in about 8 weeks.

The vodka started changing color less than 5 minutes after I finished corking them all. You can see a slight yellowish tinge in these pictures. Since the liquid is less in these bottles, it will be stronger extract. For a weaker extract, use 1 cup of liquid or just half of a bean. It will be a very dark brown when it's ready to use.

Have you ever made vanilla extract? How was it?

Hustle and Bustle

Holy moly, it's been a busy couple of days... and more on the horizon!

Yes sir/ma'am, this blogging bunny has been bustling to meetings left and right. Over the weekend, I had a friend who visited from San Diego so a couple of friends and I all got together for a little slumber party, which we all know means good times but poor sleep.

(image via Cute Overload)

I'm putting my event planning skills to work this week as I hammer out details for the Master Motivators Holiday Party/Henry Du's Send Off (a current member) and the bachelorette party for my soon-to-be married gal pal.

Ladies, what kind of things have you seen or done at bachelorette parties? I need some input regarding things like t-shirts, favors, bridal tiaras... (actually, scratch that last one, I don't think my bride will go for that.)

P.S. Yes, the "bustle" part of my title alludes to the bustle on the wedding dress as well how busy I've been. I'd say I'm clever but I actually got it from Liz Beck Events. =P

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Poker Face - A Dramatic Reinterpretation

Christopher Walken's "cover" of Lady Gaga's Poker Face.
(for us Lady Gaga addicts)

(via mental floss)

For your reference, here's the original.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

Hello readers! I have a quasi-announcement!

(image via icanread)

First of all, thank you for your readership and comments! Welcome to all my new readers (and thanks Supah Mommy and PINTs for bringing them) and thanks for sticking around. I hope I have gotten the chance to thank you all personally but here is one big thank you to all of you just for good measure.

Secondly, I'm very excited about the upcoming weeks. Not only are the holidays coming up, I am preparing to take this blog in a somewhat different direction -- the one it was always intended for. Soon, this blog will not just be filled with random fun things I find and post-it notes; you will be seeing recipes and how-to guides on various life functions.

In relation to that note, I'm also recharging my other blog, 10 Dollar Date, that I co-write with my bbff (best blogger friend forever) Tammi. We would love to add more writers to our community, so if you're interested in submitting a guest post or becoming a regular writer, please email me with a couple ideas or a post so we can see if you're a good fit for the blog!

Thanks again for reading and stay tuned for some awesome stuff coming up!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Post-It Note Tuesday

It's PINT again!!

*Note: Brisinger is the 3rd book in the Inheritance Cycle, a.k.a. the Eragon books. I just picked it up from the library and haven't started reading it yet, but I'm wary about it (and the not-yet-released 4th book) because "the worst book in a trilogy is the fourth." (Thanks, TV Tropes, for that quote.)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Nothing But A Red Towel

A couple weeks ago, I was refreshing my twitter madly because Ellen Degeneres said she was doing something at UCSD.

Yep, nice to see Tritons doing my alma mater proud.

And, Ellen, I love you but how could you flub and say UCSD was "the University of San Diego"? I'll forgive you if you give me tickets to your show, okay?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

LEGO Rock Band

I can't decide this is awesome, ridiculous, or just enough of both to be really enjoyable.

The thing is, I adore Rock Band... and I adored LEGO Star Wars. But all the LEGO-fied games after LEGO Star Wars (Indiana Jones, Batman) left something to be desired. I'm starting to think they are taking this gimmick entirely too far.

Besides, "rock star" cool and "adorable parody" cool probably aren't meant to overlap... When I make my character, I want to be a rawk star, not a LEGO.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Post-It Note Tuesday

BTW, I totally failed to notice that I hit my benchmark 100th post a few posts ago! Belated celebrations! *raises a toasting glass*

Join the fun at Supah Mommy and make your own post-its at super stickies!

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