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Archive for March, 2010

I went out again today to look at more couches- this time at Furniture Options. I didn’t really see anything I loved, which is awesome- because Furniture Options is more expensive than both Raymour and Ashley. Isn’t it nice when the cheapest option is the one you like best? Since I went out early to the furniture store, I was able to have a yummy omelet at the Goshen Diner and ‘beat the system’ as my friend Megan likes to say. (combining two meals in one… I guess that’s the definition of brunch, but doesn’t it sound way cooler the other way?)

Anyway. I then went to Wal-Mart, *hiss* (only because it was the middle of a weekday and I only needed a few things) and then came home to do awesome, exciting stuff like taking out the recycling. (Those who know me well know that recycling is not a chore I do very often, so it looks like I hoard plastic seltzer bottles and cardboard boxes. Needless to say, it took a while.)

I then sat down at the computer and got totally sucked into this home renovation blog, which coincidentally, is written by a couple I went to high school with. Any apprehension I have about packing up an apartment and moving into a newly-purchased home is slightly relieved when I see the enormous task they’ve taken on (seriously, check it out. They’re renovating a 130 year old row house that needed an insane amount of work.) So, considering that my hardest task will be packing and moving all of my crap into my shiny, move-in ready townhouse, I guess I don’t have it so bad.

Now, I could have taken a few loads of said crap to the Goodwill today, or even made an appointment to have my taxes done (which I guess I could still do) but I then received a semi-frantic phone call from my friend Kim. Kim has a son whose 1st birthday party just happens to be this Saturday, when I just happen to be in that area visiting my parents for Easter. Apparently, she and our friend Rebecca were going to make this grand birthday cake for the party, but Rebecca’s entire family is in various stages of a delightful puke virus, so Kim was left to call me- the only other person she knows with any cake-decorating prowess.

This is the type of cake I normally decorate:

Dharma Initiative cake for the Lost season premiere.

Or something like this:

Carrot cake for my friend Katie's 30th.

But the cake that I now have to attempt to decorate looks like this:

Oy. Do you know how long it's gonna take to pipe all those damn stars?

I think we can do it, but sweet Jesus… certainly beyond what I have done thus far… so I told her I would do it as long as I could document the process with a lot of pictures that would inevitably end up here. It is either going to look great or be a disaster of epic proportions. And of course, the pressure is on because it’s the cake for the kid’s 1st BIRTHDAY PARTY, for crying out loud. I’m sure it will be fun to do and I’m glad to get to spend time with Kim, but this frog will definitely earn me a martini afterward.

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Today, rather than do the laundry that desperately needs doing, or tidying my hopeless apartment, I decided to brave the torrential rain with Nicki and go to look at couches. My favorites are this one and this one. I especially like the Ashley one because I can get a super comfy chaise to go with it that I might never get out of. The only bad thing is the fact that it’s tufted, which means that I will be forever picking cat hair out of the little divots.

I figured it was sort of safe to go out and look at furniture since I signed contracts (gulp) on Friday. I’ve had such a ridiculous experience attempting to buy a condo that I swore I wasn’t going to even tell anyone until I had already moved in. But I can’t help it. My excitement got the best of me!

For  those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of hearing my real estate woes, here’s the short version:

  1. Made an offer on a nice condo. Yet-to-be-revealed as douchy owner accepted said offer. Had nice condo inspected. Douchy owner decided he wanted more money. I politely told the douche’s agent “no thank you” and continued on my search.
  2. Found adorable house in Cornwall. Had that property inspected (for considerably more money.) House had tons of character, space, light and was in great shape.  Unfortunately, despite being in such a quaint town, I came to learn it was across the street from a flophouse, catering to transients and winos like this guy. Needless to say, I withdrew my offer.
  3. Found another condo in same development as Mr. Douche’s place. This place seemed actually much nicer- with a renovated, reconfigured kitchen (take note…) and upgrades. I called my inspector a third time, and by now he has likely gotten tired of me. The inspection went great until he found a suspicious sag in an upstairs floor/bow in a downstairs ceiling. The inspector recommended that I have a structural engineer look at it if I really wanted to buy and didn’t even charge me for the inspection (he probably figured he’d be seeing me a fourth time.)

It was at this point that my parents instructed me walk away from this condo as well- as I didn’t really have the means to hire a costly structural engineer only to have him tell me that the dummy who did the kitchen renovations took out a load-bearing wall.

I reluctantly resigned myself to start looking again… and stumbled upon yet another condo that I refer to as “The Barbie Dream Condo”. (I won’t even go into detail about how huge and amazing this place was because I ended up not getting it anyway.)

Just when I heard from my agent about the Barbie Dream Condo Fail, she also told me that the agent from the previous, structurally sagging condo had called offering to have an engineer assess the problem and subsequently fix it, at no cost to me.

This sounded good to me- if I didn’t have to pay for anything and it would get the official engineer seal of approval in writing, I was all for it. Mom and Dad took a little more convincing- which resulted in Dad and the saintly home inspector checking out the work while it was being done (I think they were afraid I was going to need Holmes on Homes.)

So, after all that- there is now a header in the dining room and the upstairs floor no longer creaks/sags. Next on the agenda is the appraisal- and I’m crossing my fingers that it appraises high enough for me to get the loan- since banks don’t seem to like loaning more money than a house is worth. Did I mention that I can’t wait for this all to be over??

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So after I captured the bat and finished writing about it, I was seriously jumpy and felt the need to sleep on the couch with every light in the apartment on. It wasn’t the most restful night of sleep.
Then this morning, I go outside to check on my little ‘friend’ and I see that he is still alive. Great. So I end up bringing the bat-filled shoebox to school where I ask my friend Nate (a fifth grade teacher who has various wildlife in his classroom) if he has a spare cage or something. He ended up poking holes through the box (go ahead, laugh) so the bat could breathe.

Then I figured, we might as well let the kids see it- how often do they get a chance to see a bat, close up through a clear shoebox? Some of the kids had even done animal reports on bats, so that was kind of cool I guess. The only downside was that children were running around school all day saying that I had been bitten by a bat. Great….

So I finally get in touch with the Health Department in Goshen and they inform me that they don’t deal with living animals. I was going to have to find a way to kill the bat before I brought it in. Now I just start to feel bad! What did this bat do to me? But as we all know, I am highly paranoid and need an official state document to stop worrrying.

The Health Department guy rather callously suggested that I drown the bat or find some ether. Ether?? Where the hell am I going to get that? Nate did volunteer to drown the bat for me but I decided instead to do the humane thing and bring it to the vet. My vet reluctantly agreed to euthanize the bat, so I brought it over on my lunch break. I waited for 35 minutes and had to write a check for 50 dollars.

Then I didn’t have time to drive to Goshen, so the bat had to go into the refrigerator in the lunch room at school. (It was in a plastic bag.) I called the Health Dept. people and they informed me that the office would be closing early at 3 pm instead of 5 and I should keep the bat in my freezer until Monday. I politely responded that my refrigerator was for food, not dead and potentially rabid wild animals.

After some moderate begging, I convinced them to stay an extra half hour so I could get this bat out of my hands. So that’s that. I dropped it off and I should know by Wednesday if I have rabies. Niiccce.

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I cannot believe it. What the hell do you think flew into my window this evening at about 2:30? Yes, good readers. It was another freaking bat. Only this time I have no idea how it got in there in the first place. I checked my windows and none of them had any suspect openings. At first I didn’t even realize what had happened- I just heard a crash and figured it was the cats. Then I turn on the lights to hear the familiar flapping.

Luckily this time I had this:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A friend gave me this handy magnet from the health department. So I knew what I had to do. I had to trap the bastard. (Because there was no way going to
A. sleep all night with a bat in my apartment or
B. let someone into my house (which is extremely messy) to trap the bat for me.

So, this time I attacked the bat with a broom rather than a pillowcase. When it landed on the floor I whacked it a couple of times and held it down while it chirped its rabid little chirps at me. Unfortunately, it was still spry enough to take flight. Then I couldn’t figure out where it was for a while, only to realize that it had settled on a shirt which was hanging on my drying rack. After whacking at it a couple more times, I managed to cover it with one of my plastic shoe boxes. I slid the lid under the box and then I had a nice little bat terrarium.

The worst part of the story is not that I am now suffocating this animal in a plastic shoebox. The part I am sad about is that my Dirty Dancing tee shirt is a casualty of this fiasco, as the bat landed on it and it is now also in the shoebox. I suppose I can ask for it back from the health department after they test the bat for rabies.

The only thing that really skeeves me out is that I can’t figure out how the bat got in, so I can’t prevent it from happening again… ugh. Who wants to go back to sleep when another bat could be around the corner??

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So, I think I’ve told some of you about the time I thought I had rabies (I won’t explain the situation- it’s all below… and it culminated in me sending a frantic e-mail to the rabies laboratory of the NY state health department. (I know. I’m a lunatic.) Judge not, I say. If you had read about rabies on the internet too, you would have been just as freaked out. (I dare you to do it.) Anyway, I found the e-mails, and here they are. Enjoy. You can make fun of me later.

Mr. Rudd,

A week ago a bat entered my house through a window- I was in bed but not
yet asleep and I heard a rustling noise- when I turned on the light the bat
flew into the room. The bat flew around my living room for a while before
it flew out the front door- my cats have both been vaccinated for rabies,
but a relative of mine who works for the humane society informed me about
aerosol rabies. After reading about rabies cases in bats, I have become
thoroughly paranoid.
The bat flew in my window and did not officially enter the room until I
turned on the light, so it didn’t land on me. Also, it was around 12:30 am
and the bat was flying normally (I don’t think it ever actually landed) and
was not making any noises.

I live in Orange County, New York in Central Valley. Could you please tell
me of any confirmed cases of rabies (bat or otherwise) in my area and also
please inform me of my risk or need to be treated? This has happened to me
once before (at my childhood home in southern New Jersey over seven years
ago- what are the odds, right?) and I wasn’t worried then because I hadn’t
researched the risk of rabies. As I said, I did not touch the bat, but I am
extremely paranoid at the chance of rabies. Any information you could
provide to calm me down would be much appreciated.

Thank you,
Michele George

And here was Mr. Rudd’s speedy reply (I’m sure I made it onto the office bulletin board as the crazy-girl-of-the-week winner.)

Michele,
Please calm down !     From what you have said,  you have absolutely
nothing to worry about.  Aerosal rabies concerns have caused many a
sleepless nights due to what essentially is a hugely distorted
interpretation of the facts.   Aerosal rabies has only bee reported in a a
number of cases that can be counted on one hand.  All of these cases
involved a cave environment that included 40 million bats in one cave,  or
laboratory-generated high concentrations of  aerosal virus.   You DO NOT
get aerosal rabies from one or a few bats flying in a room.
There are rabid bats in Orange Co,  as there are in every county in the US.
Bat rabies is found in a very small percentage of the bat populatuion,
wherever you find bats.
You must have direct contact with a bat for rabies transmission.
If you have any further concerns please call me at the number listed below.
Sincerely,

Robert J. Rudd
Director
Rabies Laboratory,  Wadsworth Laboratories
New York State Health Dept.
(518) 869-4527  (office)
(518) 527-7369  (cellular)
(518) 869 – 6540 (fax)
rjr06@health.state.ny.us

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So, I recently celebrated the 29th anniversary of my birth. Yes, I am getting dangerously close to 29 +1. Katie and I talked about our warped “Barbie” timelines from when we were like, 12-
“When I’m 30, I’ll have a husband and two kids! And a dog and a white picket fence!”

Uh, no. At this point I would like the white picket fence. Or more specifically, the house that it surrounds. The rest of the stuff I could do without. I think it’s my role to be the fun “wacky” aunt to all of my married friends and their babies. Anyway, I’m getting off topic. As you can see from the category of this blog, I have filed it under ‘food and restaurants’ (much like most of my blogs- I think I missed my calling as a restaurant critic)

So last night: Bill, David and Jill take me out for a birthday dinner. We decide on Cosimos- a reasonably priced Italian restaurant in the area with fun pasta dishes and brick fired pizzas. We agree to meet there at 7:00- so around 6:40 I hop in the car and head to the Cosimos in Middletown (perhaps you can see where this is going.)

Luckily, Bill calls me to say they were running late and it occurs to me that they are going to the Cosimos in Woodbury (about 2 minutes from my house.) No worries. I turn the car around and figure, now we’ll all be 10 minutes late.

So I get there around 7:10 and don’t see my friends on the bench in the front- I step back outside because it’s warm and my phone has just rung. So I figure I’ll chat with my friend Liz until Bill, David and Jill arrive. So I’m talking for like, 15 minutes when I see Bill come out of the restaurant- looking very dapper in his argyle sweater and rather like Clinton Kelly from ‘What Not to Wear’.

Apparently they had been sitting at a table for 15 minutes and began to worry that I might be sitting alone at a table in another room of the restaurant. Once this was all worked out, I joined them at the table and we ordered. Jill was feeling adventurous and ordered the pasta special- wild mushroom ravioli with spinach, bruschetta tomatoes and shallots in a light brandy cream sauce. (I am a freak and have a ridiculous memory for restaurant food.)

The reason I tell you this is not because I am obsessed with Jill or what she ordered for dinner. It’s background, people. It enhances the story. So shut up and listen.

Our food arrives and we all tuck in to our carbohydrate masterpieces. Jill cuts her first ravioli and is dismayed to see that it is not filled with wild mushrooms as promised, but plain cheese. Certainly not bad, still delicious even- but definitely not worth the ‘special’ 20.00 price.

So when the waitress comes back, Jill politely inquires as to the nature of the ravioli. Shouldn’t it be wild mushroom? Are they in there? Chopped into microscopic mushroom pieces?

The waitress assures us, yes- they are chopped up (lie) but with some further prodding agrees to speak with the chef. Long story short, there were some fishy goings-on in the kitchen whereby the mushroom ravioli were m.i.a and the first dinner service got plain cheese. Did no one else notice this culinary gaffe? They offered to make Jill another dinner (silly, as she had already eaten most of it) and ended up taking her dinner off the bill entirely. Score!

So then, we’re done with dinner and she brings out the dessert menus. No one orders anything, but as it is my birthday dinner there is an impending sense of candles and a rousing rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. It’s simply unavoidable.

Wrong again. The waitress comes back with a takeout bag and says,      “Your friends wanted to embarrass you but no one wanted any        dessert- so here’s a tiramisu with a candle for you to take home.”

Ah yes. So I can light it alone in my apartment and sing “Happy Birthday” to myself. I see.

What the hell??? Since when does a birthday dessert require everyone at the table to order? You don’t bring it out in a bag! You bring it out with the candle anyway and everyone sings and takes a bite and goes home. Not to mention the fact that my friends specifically asked for the birthday song and dance. Cosimos, I shake my head at you.

Regardless, we had a lovely time and it certainly was an entertaining and memorable birthday dinner. I shudder to step on the scale this morning. Thanks guys- I had fun!

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As the month of March began, I became obsessed with one thing. The very best of seasonally offered goodness… better than peeps, or candy corn or, dare I say, even a Cadbury egg. I was tortured by the elusive Shamrock shake from McDonalds.

Tortured, you may say? If you still live in southern New Jersey, you probably went to your local McDonalds sometime last week and got your Shamrock fix. Not so in the southern hudson valley of New York. Not so.

Not only are the shakes next to impossible to find, but hardly anyone has even heard of them, which made me feel like a crazy person…

“It’s this green shake, and it’s minty. Yeah, you can only get it in March- before St. Patrick’s day…”

I convinced some friends to try the sublime shamrock shake and even went so far as to go to McDonalds on my very short and very precious prep period. Alas, upon pulling up to the drive-through, I was informed that, “We don’t have those, but a lot of people ask for them.”

So I wasn’t alone! Some McDonalds franchise in the area must be brave enough to carry this daring beverage. I vaguely recalled getting one at the McDonalds in Chester about 6 years ago… it was runny, but it was real…

And so began the quixotic quest. I recruited my friends Katie and John to join me. We proceeded to call every McDonalds in the tri-county area only to be crushed by their lack of St. Patrick’s day spirit. The night before, Katie even attempted to recreate the shake at home using Breyer’s ice cream, skim milk and creme de menthe. Unfortunately, the concoction was simply “not thick enough.”

I assured her that she would not be sorry if she helped me find the holy grail of McDonalds with our Shamrock shake, the shake dreams are made of. Alas, that dream was not to be. Not one single McDonalds in this part of New York serves Shamrock shakes!!!

I felt that I had missed my once-yearly opportunity when I was driving to Baldwinsville, New York last weekend. I stopped at a McDonalds in Cortland to pee and saw the sign for Shamrock shakes in the window. Yes! Too bad I didn’t even have enough loose change in my car to pay for one. God was punishing me for my failure to go to the ATM before a long car ride, and now I may have missed my chance for my favorite shake for another year!

So, back to today. Just as I was about to resign myself to getting out the blender and trying to make another one (less runny), I had a flash of insight. Why not go to McDonalds, get a regular shake, and bring it home to put creme de menthe in it? It just might work!

So we all piled into my car and drove to the nearest McDonalds, only to be told by the drive through attendant that the shake machine was being cleaned. Foiled again! Finally, I had the brilliant idea to drive to Wendy’s (not far away) and get vanilla frosties. It was crazy but it could work.

We got the frosties home and transferred them to pint glasses and added 1 shot of creme de methe (the green kind, of course) and then lightly stirred. The booze thinned it out just enough that it was drinkable through a straw, and it tasted EXACTLY the way it was supposed to. And here’s the thing. I don’t think it would have worked with the McDonalds shake because the CDM (creme de menthe) would have made it too liquidy (and who wants that?) So it HAS to be a frosty.

So there you go, faithful readers. If you are reminiscing about a Shamrock shake but can’t find one, or decide that you need one in August, that’s how you do it. One medium sized vanilla frosty, one shot green creme de menthe and a straw. No blender necessary. I was so pleased by the entire experience that I might be willing to take back what I previously said about Wendy’s. Maybe. We’ll see.

UPDATE 3/10: I’m pleased to report that several McDonalds in the area have started serving Shamrock Shakes- Chester, Newburgh and Middletown all have adopted the way of the Shamrock. YES!

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