Attention Kmart Shoppers (I Mean Email Subscribers)

4 Jun

Several times now, I have threatened to redesign this blog. This involves moving from my nice, cozy, not-at-all scary home here at WordPress.com to the confusing, mysterious, possibly haunted home that is self-hosting at WordPress.org. As the day to flip the switch has drawn closer, I’ve begun to worry this new arrangement will be “way more blog” than I need. I hope to grow into it, hoarding new posts and wonderful subscribers like I hoard memories and clothes that don’t fit me anymore in my real-life house. Wait, that didn’t sound right.

The good news is that the domain won’t change, so you’ll have no trouble finding me (Logy Express!). The bad news is that many of your subscriptions will go kaput (technical term). And I love my subscribers. You make me feel like I’m in a relationship in which flowers are still brought (don’t make me start singing “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.”).

If you subscribed via email or you “followed” the blog via WordPress.com, you will no longer get updates about new posts after the switch (quelle horreur!). If you subscribed via RSS, your subscription should be fine (unless you were an early subscriber and subscribed before I set up Feedburner, so you should check your subscription too).

When is the switch? Thanks for asking. It will be sometime this week, hopefully Wednesday. This happens to be the anniversary of D-Day, so I’m hoping that’s a good omen.

So now is the time on Sprockets when I ask you, my lovely subscribers, to visit Logy Express later this week and please re-subscribe.

While I’m sure reading my posts would be its own reward, I’m not above bribery. So any current subscribers who have re-subscribed via email (if you subscribe by RSS, let me know and I’ll take your word for it) by the end of June will have their names placed into a hat Research Randomizer and the winner will receive…something. My original idea was to ship the winner homemade ice cream in the flavor or three of their choice. But then I investigated dry ice shipping and laughed ruefully (I want to reward you guys, but I also want to retire early). So if the winner lives within driving distance, and wants ice cream, they can win ice cream.

Otherwise, I’m thinking baked good or a mix CD containing the songs I plan to use to train my Pandora station. OK…and a $20 Amazon gift card. You guys drive a hard bargain.

In the immortal words of Chris Harrison, host of the Bachelor, I hope you all will continue on this “journey” with me.

Peace out,

Tracy

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Merry Berry Month of May

1 Jun

I’ve never been a big fan of strawberry ice cream, especially when it includes pieces of strawberry. They freeze and provide a grating, icy mouth feel to something that’s supposed to be smooth and creamy.

My Ice Cream 101 professor mentioned the difficulty of adding fruit to ice cream due to its high water content, and my mind started racing about ways to tackle the problem. Ever since the class, I waited for strawberry season. For the past two weeks, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in strawberries. After washing, hulling, and eating many quarts of strawberries, I’m over strawberry season.

The recipe I used as a starting point (Jeni’s Splendid Roasted Strawberry and Buttermilk Ice Cream) used only one half-cup of roasted strawberry puree per quart of finished ice cream. Two weeks ago, I made that recipe as well as two variations. Why did I make the variations? Because I like to make things difficult and I want to create something of my own. Irritatingly, we liked Jeni’s recipe the best of the three. But none of them (all made with just a half-cup of strawberry puree) bowled us over with strawberry flavor.

In case you didn’t believe I made three versions of strawberry ice cream in one weekend.

I’m a bit on the lazy (logy!) side. So given all the work involved in this endeavor (hauling our asses to a farm in Maryland to get the strawberries, then washing, hulling, slicing, roasting, and pureeing them), I wanted more berry flavor. I’m demanding like that. The ice cream sort of tasted like a strawberry yogurt popsicle. 

Not being such a huge strawberry ice cream fan to begin with, I decided to try making one of my favorite strawberry desserts into an ice cream flavor. Enter strawberry pretzel salad ice cream:

Strawberry Pretzel Salad Ice Cream

I took some of the leftover roasted strawberry puree and boiled it with more sugar until it became syrupy and thick (so it wouldn’t freeze). Then I swirled the strawberry sauce into cream cheese ice cream. I baked up a small amount of sweetened crushed pretzel crust and threw that in as well.

I loved it. It tasted almost exactly like strawberry pretzel salad and the strawberry swirl had much more berry flavor than any of the dedicated strawberry ice creams. The pretzels started getting soggy after a couple of days though. And Dave didn’t like it, totally bursting my “I’m a brilliant ice cream flavor creator” bubble.

Over Memorial Day, I tested another variation of strawberry ice cream, doubling the amount of strawberry puree. We liked it marginally better than the original three versions. Economically speaking, I’m not sure the flavor boost was worth adding an extra half-cup of puree. The dairy just seems to dilute the flavor either way.

Gold star for anyone who correctly guesses which of these contains double the amount of strawberry.

I don’t know if I have a future in the ice cream business, or food service more generally. It seems that “artisan” and fresh, local ingredients are all the rage. That’s all well and good, and I would want to make homemade ice cream with high-quality ingredients if I opened a store, but some of the effort (and more importantly, expense) seems silly. Maybe I’m just disgruntled from all that washing and hulling and slicing and roasting, but I find it really hard to believe that most people would notice a difference between fresh farm strawberries and store-bought frozen strawberries after adding sugar, pureeing the crap out of them, and then diluting the puree with more than 3 cups of dairy. I see a test of this in my future, but not anytime soon, because I’m sick with this.

After all of this, we simply hadn’t eaten enough strawberry dessert. So I did what anyone who had already made five batches of ice cream in two weeks would do…I made another dessert. A testament to the lack of excitement in my life, this extra dessert-making was due in large part because I wanted to take a picture of a piece of actual strawberry pretzel salad next to my ice cream version.

Variations on a theme of strawberry pretzel salad.

Since strawberry season is almost over here, I also made extra strawberry puree to freeze so that I have it on hand to make strawberry ice cream for my summer ice cream social. I didn’t make quite as much puree as I’d hoped since I overfilled the food processor, causing puree to ooze out everywhere, but that’s a bitch-fest for another day.

NOTE: Photo of the puree made with my blood, sweat, and tears from $5.49/quart strawberries running all over my kitchen counter and down my kitchen sink drain is not available.

Please to enjoy one of my favorite commercial ear worms ever, from my hometown joint Eat’n Park. I make better strawberry pie, by the way.

Fixing a Hole

26 May

For someone who spends as much time in my own head just thinking as I do, I don’t reach very many conclusions. For someone who has as many lists and plans and goals as I do, I don’t get very much done.

Why is this?

I have trouble focusing. I’m overwhelmed by the clutter that surrounds me. I don’t even mean just physical clutter. For example, at any given moment I have 3-5 different internet browser windows, each with 5-20 tabs, open at once. My online to do list has hundreds of tasks sitting in it. There are probably 20 tasks listed for today (I’m not bothering to look), if for no other reason than the program automatically moves tasks not completed from one day to the next. How helpful.

Twelve weeks ago, the clutter situation in my office at work reached a peak. I could barely function around all of the books, and piles of papers, and proliferation of post-it notes. I wrote a post wondering out loud how a perfectionist like me could have an office that looked like that.

Then I read the Pish Posh call to action. She proposed a 12-week “Get Fit Challenge.” The challenge wasn’t just about losing weight. And thank goodness for that, because although I did post a race report to the challenge, I haven’t lost an ounce during the last 12 weeks.

I wasn’t the most devoted Get Fitter, and I didn’t really even articulate explicit goals. But guess what? My work office is clean, my work email inbox is still under control (down from 1,600 emails to zero) and I’m looking forward to chucking the clutter from the rest of my life.

BEFORE

The deepest reaches of Hell (A.K.A. my office)

AFTER

I’d forgotten what my simulated wood-grain desk looked like.

So what have I learned?

I hold on to too much: clothes in my closet I never wear, books I will never read again, emails I don’t need to keep, songs I always skip on my iPod, tasks I can’t prioritize, things I’ve stumbled across on the internet that I don’t want to forget, blogs I don’t have time to read, and 800 scraps of paper with thoughts I don’t want to, but maybe should allow myself to, forget.

All this crap distracts me from what’s really important. It’s allowed me to stay stagnant. It’s long past time to let this crap go or I will never be able to figure out what I really want to do.

I have to learn to focus on one thing at a time. With pride, I can say that I did NOT check any of my email accounts or Facebook before writing this post this morning. I got up, set a timer for 15 minutes and just wrote. I’m going to edit for 10 minutes, add my pictures and publish this thing. It may not be a perfect post, but I focused on writing it and only on writing it and did not allow myself to get distracted by anything else. Go me.

Do you have trouble staying focused? Or clearing out clutter (physical, digital, mental)? Want to support each other and check in sometimes? Let me know, I need all the help I can get.

PishPosh

Basic Needs of a Wife

18 May

Recently I wrote a post on what I learned from the Duggars about the basic needs of a husband. The source of this knowledge, the Institute in Basic Life Principles, sells the “Seven Basic Needs of a Husband” eight-page pamphlet for two bucks.

But what of a wife’s needs? Well, they have that covered too! Only wives must be a little more high maintenance, because the “Seven Basic Needs of a Wife” take 80 pages to explain and cost $12.99 to receive.

But hey, I’m a wife and I know a little something about my needs. Let me share some of them with you now. I need a husband who will:

1.) Check his damn pockets before throwing shit in the laundry. On the plus side, our guitar picks and loose change (and cell phones) are impeccably clean around here.

I’m keeping everything I find in the dryer. I’m hoping he’ll run out of guitar picks.

2.) Not leave peanut butter on the side of the jar. And/or fix the ant problem. I’d be happy with either really. The peanut butter is unfortunately not pictured, because I wiped it off in a huff before remembering this photo project. And even though I haven’t made a peep to Dave about documenting his failure to meet my needs, he’s miraculously stopped leaving peanut butter on the jar. I do have a photo of an ant that got stuck inside our frigging salt shaker last year, if anyone’s interested in that.

3.) Run agreed-to errands in my lifetime. We’ve been paying the fee for this brand new, yet faulty DVR for months. I even placed it near the front door for easier recall. No dice.

4.) Wait for me to actually finish what I’m saying before absent-mindedly asking, “what?” Here’s a charming story: Dave received a pair of ear plugs from our friend JohnBoy at his bachelor party along with the advice, “Sometimes Tracy is going to want to talk to you and sometimes you aren’t going to want to listen.”

5.) Close things he’s opened. The regularly open dishwasher door is a shin-busting accident waiting to happen. I probably should have done a video for this one because there’s no way to capture the majesty of how many doors and drawers Dave can leave open at a time in one picture.

Also, we could never have glass-front cabinets.

6.) Sit on the furniture without deforming it. Seriously, the power of Dave’s ass is beyond my understanding. I have no idea how he makes the cushions do that.

7.) Learn how to distinguish times when I might be receptive to him grabbing my boobs. Or at least won’t try to turn every dish washing experience into a Cialis moment.

Well, that’s seven. So I won’t mention “allowing me to be financially dependent” again. There you go, I’ve just saved you guys $12.99.

Did I miss anything?

Supermoon, My Ass

11 May

Last year, I missed the supermoon. Meaning I had no idea what a supermoon was or why I should give a shit. Then in the days that followed, I saw the pictures. And regretted missing it. 

This time, I was ready. I planned my whole day around seeing the supermoon in its rising glory and getting a great picture. Of course, with my photo shoot luck, the weather had other plans. Clouds completely covered the sky all evening. But we stuck with the original plan, to head into the city (to get a photo of the supermoon with D.C. stuff in the foreground), in case the sky cleared.

We arrived early and headed to the WWII Memorial to wait. This was one of the earlier photos of the evening, but already Dave was losing patience with having his picture taken.

No supermoon for you.

The clouds were stubborn but so was I. While I waited for supermoon rising time, I messed around taking fountain pictures.

Every so often, we’d check the sky for the supermoon, but nada. But the weather was pleasant, so we sat at the Memorial even after giving up on the fucking supermoon (not that I was bitter or anything). We sat and talked and watched the fountains. It felt indulgent and relaxing to just hang out there, like we were on vacation and visiting the Trevi Fountain. I guess when a boring old suburban married couple like us bothers to trek 6 long miles into the big bad city and actually finds good parking, well, let’s just say I wanted to make an evening out of it. So we visited my favorite statue before going home.

F.D.R., ShmF.D.R., I’m here for the dog.

When we went out for Chuck’s late night walk, the clouds finally moved enough for us to catch a glimpse of the now-too-high-in-the-sky-to-be-noticeably-super moon. Before I could finish saying, “should I go get the camera,” another cloud blocked it again. Maybe next year.

How was supermoon viewing where you live? Did you get any pictures? I think I’m finally over my disappointment and ready to see some supermoon photos.