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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Quote of the Day

"We always did feel the same,
we just saw it from a different point of view."
-Bob Dylan

Friday, February 27, 2009

Quote of the Day

"My biggest mistake was loving you too much, and letting you know."

The Band

Sorry, 35 for making you come up with all of the quotes of the day lately. I have had a weeks-long brain freeze! This one goes well with the last one 35 posted, don't you think, readers? (Mom??? Hello, Mom?)


Library Tales Part II - Something to Think About While Reading Your Library Books

The grossest thing found in a book donated to the library: a used condom.

Runners up: Vomit, fecal matter.

Love, 40

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Quote of the Day

"I love myself better than you
I know it's wrong so what should I do?"
Ugh, I know, I've got to get more creative. This is harder than I thought it would be!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Spring Fantasy

I love this Prada dress for Spring. It looks perfect for a warm day with a cardigan or a hot day with nothing. I would wear this dress EVERYWHERE, so it's really not fair that I'll never have it.

Quote of the Day

"Oh yeah, you're pretty good looking for a girl."
-The White Stripes
What does that mean, anyway? But I love the way it sounds, what a great way to start off a song.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Yes, I wish that for just one time
you could stand inside my shoes.
You'd know what a drag
it is to see you."
-Bob Dylan

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Quote of the Day

" I wish I was like you,
easily amused."



Library Tales

During my early days at the library, there was a red-headed, sixteen year-old American punk with an English accent named "Joe" who visited the library several evenings a week. Joe was constantly causing trouble. On more than one occassion, Joe was caught trying to leave the library with a backpack full of CD's that he hadn't checked out. He was found in the men's room attempting to pull the security strips off of several DVD's. He would have pizza delivered to the front desk. He was always loud and inappropriate. Invariably, Joe's misbehavior lead to his being kicked out of the library at least once a week. He would always return a few days later, ready for more misadventure. But there was one incident after which Joe did not return. One night, one of the security guards came upon Joe in the upstairs loft, lying on his back, pants at his knees. He was spread eagle and fully exposed, his hand working furiously. The security guard shouted, "Joe, what the f*** are you doing?" as Joe fled from the library. Nobody has seen him since.

Yummy Waffles

I have been trying for over a year to duplicate at home the waffles served in restaurants. Before trying this recipe, the closest I had come to making homemade restaurant-style waffles was when I used a mix. But something about serving my family a waffle that contained more chemicals than natural ingredients just didn't sit well with me, so the search continued. I am glad to say the search is over. This recipe produces waffles that are the right balance between fluffy and crisp, with a wonderful, buttery taste. This recipe comes from my mother. These are the waffles that she and my father used to make for me and 35 on Sunday mornings when we were growing up. The recipe requires a little more time and effort than other recipes, but nothing that is too demanding, and the result is well worth the extra effort.

Yummy Waffles
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup whole milk
1 stick melted butter
2 large eggs - separated
1/2 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Mix together flour and salt. Whisk yeast mixture, milk, butter, egg yolks and vanilla until smooth. Add flour and salt. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold whites into batter mixture and let stand for twenty minutes. Heat waffle iron. Prehat oven to 225 degrees. Ladle batter onto heated waffle iron lightly sprayed with Pam and cook until you can no longer see steam escaping from the sides of iron. Place cooked waffles in preheated oven while cooking remaining batter.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Quote of the Day

Romeo was restless, he was ready to kill
He jumped out the window 'cause he couldn't sit still
Juliet was waiting with a safety net
He said "don't bury me 'cause I'm not dead yet."

Elvis Costello

Love, -40

Friday, February 20, 2009

Quote of the Day

"I bet that you look good on the dance floor"

-The Arctic Monkeys

I never said these couldn't be stupid. Hey, what can I say? It's Friday. And don't you look good on the dance floor?


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Quote of the Day

"There ain't a woman that comes close to you."
Rolling Stones


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Quote of the Day

In an effort to add a little variety to our quotes, here is a good one from Eleanor Roosevelt. She was a smart chick.

"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How to Get Great Straight Out of the Camera Shots From Your Digital SLR

I mentioned in this post that I would reveal to you the secret about DSLRs. Then I thought, maybe it isn't a secret, maybe it just seemed like a secret to me, because I knew absolutely nothing about DSLRs prior to buying my first one back in July. Either way, I hope this post will stop at least one of you from bashing your head against the wall or throwing your expensive new camera out of a moving car in frustration because you are not getting the picture quality you expected from your DSLR.

I bought my DSLR after my third child was born. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get a good picture of the boy with my point and shoot. The problem was that 99% of my picture taking was happening inside in poor lighting conditions. With the point and shoot, I had two choices, I could use the flash, which completely washed out my son's pale complexion, or I could ramp up the ISO, which invariably lead to a shot so grainy I wound up deleting it. I needed a fast lens and a camera with better low-light capabilities. I needed a DSLR.

Unfortunately, buying a DSLR was not, as I had expected, the immediate answer to my picture-taking woes. In fact, I had new woes. My images now lacked sharpness and the colors were dull and lifeless. Nothing I did improved the quality of my photographs. I was frustrated and upset. I considered returning the camera, since I preferred the pictures I took with my point and shoot to the ones I was now getting. I went back to where I purchased the camera. The salesperson told me that I was expecting too much and would never get well-optimized images straight out of the camera. He told me that all DSLR images need some post processing. I was outraged. I could not believe that I bought an $800 camera that could not produce, without significant work on my part, images that were at least comparable to those produced by my $200 point and shoot.

After much investigation, I discovered that it IS possible to get great straight out of the camera shots with a DSLR. I'll say it again - you can get great SOOC shots! The secret is in the processing, as the salesperson had told me, but the in-camera processing, not post processing. It turns out point and shoots are specifically manufactured to produce sharp, saturated snapshots that are pleasing to the consumer eye. Manufacturers achieve this by setting the cameras' default settings to automatically apply fairly heavy-handed in-camera processing. In other words, the cameras are pre-set to add sharpness and saturation to the images they capture. DSLRs, on the other hand, either apply very light processing, or no processing at all, depending on whether you are shooting in JPEG or RAW. This deficit of in-camera processing allows you, as the photographer, to control how you want your photographs to look. You can control the look of your photographs one of two ways - you can spend time post processing, or you can change the in-camera settings on your camera. Now, I am not saying that you won't want to post-process your photos. What I am saying is that, in most instances, if you get your exposure right (more on that to follow), you will not HAVE to post-process.

Here's what you should do: Sit down with your camera's manual. All DSLRs have menus that allow you to go in and tweak the camera's settings. Learn how to do this. Play with your camera. Decide whether you like the bright, contrasty colors produced by your camera's "Vivid" (on Nikons) setting, or if you prefer colors that are more true to life. Determine how much sharpening you want applied to your pictures in-camera. Is your camera shooting dark? Play with the exposure compensation setting. You can change anything you want. Anytime you want. And that is a beautiful thing.

Quote of the Day

"And I don't want to break the rules
cause I've broken them all before
But every time I see you
I wonder why
I don't break a couple rules
so that you'll notice me"
-The White Stripes
By the way, well done yesterday, 40. I love that one. I often feel that way.

Monday, February 16, 2009

How to Bake Moist, Fluffy Corn Muffins

I have to admit that I don't have a lot of experience with corn muffins. Generally, I make my muffins according to the directions on the back of the Jiffy mix box and call it day. But after trying this recipe from Cook's Illustrated, I'll never eat a Jiffy muffin again. This recipe produced jumbo-sized, moist and fluffy muffins. According to Cook's Illustrated, the secret is using a combination of sour cream, milk, and butter. This recipe is definitely not for those looking for a low-fat muffin, but if you love corn muffins and are looking for a great from-scratch recipe, you need look no further.

Cook's Illustrated Corn Muffins

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup fine stone-ground yellow cornmeal (the cookbook recommends Arrowhead Mills brand)
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
8 tbsps (1 stick), unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (I always use salted butter)
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk

1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to combine; set aside. Whisk the eggs in a second medium bowl until well combined and light-colored, about 20 seconds. Add the sugar to the eggs; whisk vigorously until thick and homogeneous, about 30 seconds; add the melted butter in 3 additions, whisking to combine after each addition. Add half the sour cream and half the milk and whisk to combine, whisk in the remainig sour cream and mix until combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients; mix gently with a rubber spatula until the batter is just combined and evenly moistened. Do not overmix. Using a large spoon sprayed with nonstick cooking spray to prevent sticking, divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, dropping it to form mounds. Do not level or flatten the surface of the mounds.

3. Bake until the muffins are light golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 18 minutes, rotating the muffins from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool the muffins in the tin 5 minutes, invert the muffins on to a wire rack, stand the muffins upright, cool 5 minutes longer, serve warm.

Slather with butter and ENJOY.

Love, 40

Quote of the Day

"She hates her life, she hates her skin, she even hates her friends."

Toad the Wet Sprocket

Love, 40

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Quote of the Day

Ha! I stayed up past midnight just to beat my sister to the punch! I'll be sorry tomorrow morning when the baby wakes me up at 6:00 a.m., but I am pleased as punch with myself right now, I tell you! for a quote.......

"How dare you? How old are you now, anyway?"
The White Stripes

This quote/song has been on a continuous loop in my head for about two weeks now. Hopefully, it will not invade your brain as it has mine.

Love, 40

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Coming Soon...

Rather than wallow in my misery about turning 40 this year, I have decided to involve myself in doing some things that I have always meant to do but never gotten around to doing. One of those things is learning more about photography and photoshop and becoming a better photographer. I consider myself my children's historian, and want to be able to provide them with photographs that beautifully and accurately capture their childhood memories. I plan to chronicle my learnings on this blog in simple, easy to read posts. By doing so, I hope to help other family historians and photographers learn photography as well as to help them avoid making the mistakes I have made/will make as a newbie, and track my own progress. Coming soon - the secret about DSLRs.

- 40

Quote of the Day

"You and me
Meant to be
It's destiny
Pure lunacy
But for the last time
You're everything that I want and ask for
You're all that I'd dreamed
Who wouldn't be the one you love
Who wouldn't stand inside your love"
-The Smashing Pumpkins
This is a bit much but hey, it's Valentine's Day. And later, when I have more time, I will explain my love for Billy Corgan.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Quote of the Day Challenge

Here's one more challenge (and hopefully the last for a while since I don't even like challenges, I was overwhelmed with my life before any of these challenges and I hate competition):
The Quote of the Day Challenge. This is where I post a favorite quote (and 40, please feel free to participate, I hope you do. Whoever gets here first everyday wins! By wins, I mean for that day, you know, the privilege of posting the prestigious "quote of the day"). There are no rules to this challenge, simply just that there needs to be a quote every day. It can come from anywhere although I'm guessing that 99% will be from music, and that 75% of that will be Rolling Stones or White Stripes. The quote may be profound or it may be silly or even mean- there may be an explanation as to why it was chosen that day or there may not. Probably most will come with explanations because the art history major in me loves to analyze and talk about it. But we'll see how this goes. I'm going to start simple for 2 reasons: 1) Because you should always start simple and 2)I thought this was a great idea since I have quotes floating through my head constantly and we (the trio- my mom, my sister and I) often speak in what we call "rock speak" which is just quoting songs appropriately in conversation (sometimes inappropriately but whatever...). But now that I have issued the challenge my mind has gone blank.

So here goes:
" The sunshine bores the daylights out of me"
-The Rolling Stones

Not actually a favorite of mine, this one is popular with 40 and our mom. I thinks it's fine, just not my favorite. I'll try harder tomorrow.

White Chocolate and Apricot Oatmeal Cookies - the Recipe

I am sorry it took me so long to post this recipe. I wanted to build anticipation for the recipe, but not THAT much anticipation!

The cookies turned out really well. The white chocolate, oatmeal and vanilla all blend together to form a chewy, sweet cookie. Next time I plan to substitute semisweet chocolate for the white chocolate and dried cherries for the apricots.

Martha Stewart's White Chocolate and Apricot Oatmeal Cookies

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 tsp baking soda
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter (I used salted), softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
8 oz. which chocolate, chopped (I used chips)
7 oz. dried apricots, chopped (1.5 cups)

1. Mix flour, oatmeal and baking soda in a medium bowl. Cream
butter and sugars with a mixer until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to
low. Add salt, vanilla, and eggs, and beat until well combined, about 1
minute. Add flour mixture gradually, beating until just combined.
Stir in chocolate and apricots. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 30
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto parchment-lined baking
sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies are golden brown around
the edges but still soft in the center, 14-16 minutes. Let cookies cool on
baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. cookies will
keep, covered, for up to 1 week.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Friday Morning Chuckle

10 year old son, D, to 40: "We learned about the reproductive system in school today."

40: "Oh?"

D: "Yeah, and I have a question."

40: "Uh huh?" (Fighting back panic.)

D: "So, I know that the boy has a cell and the girl has a cell and the boy pees out his cell and the boy and girl cells get together and make a baby."

40: "Okay...."

D: "But HOW do the cells get together?"

40, fighting an overwhelming urge to flee screaming from the room, calmly, and as vaguely as possible, explains to D how the boy and girl cells meet.

D: "That's GROSS!" Waits a beat. "You and Daddy did THAT?!?"

Love, 40

Home Challenge

I have a 2009 challenge for myself, too. I want to get my home organized and clean. I want it to be someplace I love living in. There are a few roadblocks in my way. The main one being that my home is small; really, REALLY small. I like to pretend that this is because I live in a major city and real estate is at a premium. Which is sort-of true. But I don't live in New York, Tokyo or London. I live in a second rate major city in a slightly shady neighborhood. But I love my second rate city and I love my neighborhood. I also love my apartment but sometimes I hate it.
Roadblock #2 is money. I don't have the money I need to make major changes to my home. Let's be honest here- if I had money, I would probably just move anyway.
But I like the challenge of small space living. I also really believe that it can be done and done well. If you don't believe me, check I am obsessed with it. It shows that small space living is not only a necessity depending on where you live, but can be a choice for some people. Let's pretend that's the case with me.
(and my apologies to the city I live in. I don't think you're second rate, it's just the word on the street.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

White Chocolate and Apricot Oatmeal Cookies

Six weeks into my cook-off, I see a problem. Rather than cooking from recipes I already have on file, I instead find myself searching for the perfect recipe to cook for the week. I must rein in this craziness! You can thank Martha Stewart, and my recipe gathering instincts, for the cookies I am baking at this very moment. They smell absolutely delicious. No, you can't have the recipe yet. This is just a preview of things to come. Sorry, but I'm mean like that. Blame it on the girls from my junior high. Those girls were nasty, I tell you. I learned from the best.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Julie, Julia, and Me

On January 1st, I issued myself a challenge Julie and Julia style. But rather than cooking my way through the great Joy of Cooking one day at a time, I plan to cook at least one new recipe a week from my recipe collection. I will do this for 52 weeks. That's right, this is Julie and Julia, the slacker edition.

I am doing this because I recently realized that what I believed to be an interest in cooking is, in fact, a recipe-collecting addiction. The fact that I work in a library makes this problem all the greater. As a library employee, many a cookbook crosses my desk. And, I assure you, not one cookbook has passed my desk that did not contain at least one, often many, many more than one, recipe that I deemed worthy of photocopying. Herein lies the problem. In addition to the dozens of cookbooks I had to buy because I could not photocopy all the good recipes they contained, (I only get 5 free photocopies a day at the library), I have stacks and stacks of photocopied recipes. And stacks of recipes I ripped out of magazines. And stacks of recipes given to me by friends. Okay, you get the picture. So - in an ongoing effort to rid my house of clutter (HA HA), I decided to weed out my recipe collection. But how? By actually cooking some of the recipes I have been hording and determine whether or not a recipe is worthy of saving. I know that 52 recipes won't make much of a dent in my pile, but at least I will feel better about the pile. This may not sound like much of a challenge to you. After all, Julie Powell conquered the great art of french cooking. But trust me, for a a stay at home mom of three, with two part-time jobs, just feeding my family is an accomplishment. Frankly, I have already found myself wanting to throw in the towel. Instead, I have decided to journal my experience and make myself accountable. I plan to include recipes and pictures so that you can follow along at home.

Let the cooking begin!


Has anybody else noticed that the Snuggie is nothing more than a robe worn backwards?

I watched a documentary about Stax Records on Saturday night (yeah, I've got a full social calendar!). Thank you PBS for having cool stuff on sometimes because I don't have cable.

Current Pandora station? Isaac Hayes, of course. Inspired by the Stax documentary. I love him, he's so cool.

Wishing for: New music. My collection of soul is lacking. And maybe to look like Mavis Staples circa WattStax. She looks cool.
Wondering: Where can I get a poster of Isaac Hayes' album, Black Moses? And also, am I too old for posters?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Thank You!

Thank you, 35! I was VERY surprised. You see, usually, we talk and talk and talk about our wonderfully fabulous ideas but never take action on them. Basicially, we talk so much that we talk each other right out of thinking we had a good idea in the first place. My little sister was right about pretty much everything, except my age. I am actually 29. Wait, did I call 35 my little sister? I was never very good at math. Anyway, as 35 said, we don't really live remarkable lives, but we think we are pretty funny.

Besides the five years' (Uhm, I mean, six - this lying thing does not come easily to me), difference, there are other differences between us that we thought would add a little humor and interest to our blog. Basically, it goes like this - 35 is a tall, thin, strawberry-blonde who majored in art history and fashion design. She loves all things fashion, and as a child spent hours in her bedroom creating new outfits and playing with makeup. You should have seen her Cyndi Lauper phase! These days, you can find her, dressed in the latest fashion, poring over fashion magazines and blogs. She still disappears into her room to play with makeup. 35 is a city girl. I, on the other hand, am an on-the-short-side, plump, used to be blonde. I majored in psychology and went to law school. I have about three outfits that I wear, none of them fashionable. I do like makeup, though. I live in the suburbs and drive a mini-van. Now, lest you think my sister and I are polar-opposites, I should also tell you that we were once asked if we were twins, our significant others, and sometimes our parents, cannot tell us apart on the telephone, Billy Corgan's voice brings us both to tears, and we are both passionate about the White Stripes, good lyrics, and discussing Mick Jagger's antics. We are both opinionated, and neither of us likes to be wrong. We talk on the phone so many times a day, myhusband asks "What more could you two possibly have to say to each other?" There is more, but suffice it to say that we like to think that our differences compliment our similarities.

And oh yeah, as my sister said, don't expect too much from us at first. We like to set the bar low. But who knows? We might just surprise you.

Friday, February 6, 2009

For Forty

I'm 35. It's how old I am right now, but let's never mention that again. I am doing this blog with my sister, 40. It is up to her if she wants to tell you if that's how old she is. Actually, she doesn't even know I am doing this right now. It's a surprise.
This is a blog about our lives. Our lives aren't very interesting but we think we are pretty funny. Previously, we planned to waste our writing skills on romance novels. Who knows? Maybe we did. We'd never use our real names so only we know for sure.
Don't expect too much from this blog right away, neither one of us is very technologically savvy. 40's husband is, but maybe we'll do this on our own.