Saturday, October 31, 2009

Zombieland on Halloween

Each year I have written here and on my other blogs about how much I loathe Halloween. I have admitted that I am a Halloween Scrooge. It's my second least favorite holiday after 4th of July. Each year we leave the house during trick-or-treat time so we don't have to answer the door to little candy beggars saying "chick er cheet!" and then complain that you only gave them "one" or complain about the kind of candy you give them. Our neighborhood has always been full of spoiled kids who are used to getting candy at home anytime they want it and the good stuff. Not like in the neighborhood I grew up in back in the 50s and 60s where kids were actually happy getting a Dum-Dum sucker.

Well, we put the tenants in charge of the candy dispensing this year, if they wanted to. They didn't want their cars egged so they helped out. And Jon and I went out to get a hamburger at Wendy's and then went to the show to see Zombieland. I was wondering what it was going to be like. Our oldest son Jason said it was great and usually if he says something is good, it is. And he was right. It was hilarious. Woody Harrelson is so funny! All that happens is they blow away zombies, but they have to have "two taps" to make it stick. You have to see the movie to know what that means. The movie is a combination of fakey horror, comedy, light romance, and action. Something for everyone. It was an entertaining movie. I give it a thumbs up.

Virtual cooking, home decorating and shopping and farming...I am exhausted!

Friends and readers, I apologize for such a long delay in posting but seems I have acquired a weird addiction to virtual cooking and apartment decorating in Cafe World and YoVille which are Zynga games that are played via Facebook. In between my real world stuff, I have been whipping up crabmeat souflees, cherry cheesecakes, Voodoo Chicken Salads, spaghetti and other culinary delights all with the click of my pointy finger. Oh if real-life cooking were so easy. This has been exhausting keeping up with the demand of customers coming into the cafe to eat, and not so easy to do. At first this appears to be a cute little children's game that six-year-olds can play, however they might be able to go through the process of choosing a dish and clicking to make it, however the planning of how much food to make and keeping it going to keep your buzz rating up requires calculators! My husband has been my "assistant chef" and he helps with the planning and managed to help me build up enough to expand three times now. It's getting ridiculous though that now I am starting to plan what I do according to when my crumpets will be done! So today, when we went out, I forgot about the buzz rating and just tossed on a few eight hour dishes and figured if I run out of food, oh well. But it wasn't so easy to get out of my mind. I was thinking about all those little cartoon avatars coming in and leaving because they didn't get served! And that affects my buzz rating. I am WAY to far into this crap!

Then there is YoVille. Virtual village with a condo where all 1, 700, 000 of us players live together, and some even have two, three, four or more houses in addition to their condos. This can get crazy out of control. I like it because I can decorate and costs me nothing except little coins I earn my working in the YoVille Sweets Factory...and by doing ridiculous clicking on "buddy's" profiles to get those hidden pots of gold, turning on lights and picking up left presents. I admit I am really too sucked into these games! But they are fun and once they have you, you must keep playing with it. The funniest way to earn coins is to play games. These games of tic-tac-toe or rock-paper-scissors can be quite time consuming but we all have figured a way around that. We "max" each other out, which means we lose on purpose so the other guy gets all the points they are allowed for the games, then they return the favor. It's sort of like virtual prostitution, however since when we all meet up in front of the condo building we type little messages to each other like "max for max?" or "will one of you max me?" Sounds kinky...virtual kinky.

Then there is FarmVille and Farm Town which I did join so my aunt who is almost 70 can have me as a neighbor to increase her ability to do things and to get more money. I can do without the farms. I am bored sick of them and don't care if I expand them or not. But the thing is now, even though I can block it on my FB profile, I can't quit! I am always there. I don't have to play but the farms will turn to weeds...which I really don't care anymore about either. There are people who are absolutely seriously into this stuff and need therapy. These are the ones who use their credit cards to purchase "YoVille dollars" and Cafe World "money" and FarmVille and Farm Town cash. You give them your credit card number and you can get thousands of coins for like $100. And insane people are doing this. And not just kids. These are grown people. I have asked them how they get the Godfather mansion in YoVille and they say they purchase YoVille dollars to get imaginary stuff. I pointed out to some of these people via our little chatting back and forth that they could go buy a REAL outfit or home furnishings for real cash and actually have something tangible. I just don't get it. I would never buy imaginary money with real money to buy imaginary crap in an online game. I really do need to get a grip though. Even though I don't go so far as to charge on my credit card to play these goofy little games, I am spending way too much time on them.Maybe someone will start virtual therapy sessions?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Cajun bean soup

Autumn has blown in and cold weather is upon us. The winds were howling last night and I thought the roof was going to be lifted up into the air!

Today, the skies are blue, the fall colors are bright and a crispness fills the chilly air. I love this time of year. I also love my slow cooker.

Cajun bean soup is simmering in my slow cooker as I am writing this. I make it with the 18 bean package, soaked overnight. And then after rinsing this morning, I put in water, diced tomatoes, spices and ham cubes and let it simmer. Then I added the cajun spices after it was cooking for a few hours. And I also added white rice. The air in the house is filled with a yummy spicy aroma. Soups and stews taste even better in cold weather.

Travels to Richmond

Went to visit our daughter in Richmond last week and help her move into her new house where she is living with a couple of new people. A young man owns the house and lives there, along with another young woman. It's a very nice house, though I liked the neighborhood with the park across the street where she moved from. But at least she won't have a jungle and fish ponds to maintain anymore.

We left for our journey right after traffic court in Ottawa. It was the appeal for the traffic ticket Jon got for not moving over for a stopped cop at the side of the road when he did move over. But cops can accuse you and ticket you for whatever they want and it's your word against their's. He lost the appeal, which we expected and that was $250 donation to their corrupt county funds! We shrugged it off though, and didn't let it ruin our trip.

We got to Toledo in time for dinner and checked into the Days Inn there. It was pretty decent. Clean. No pool and hot tub like they advertised, though! We were looking forward to that since we arrived early in the evening. We got up the next morning and drove the rest of the way, and we can always count on it to rain in the mountains of Pennsylvania. It never fails. Fog, pouring rain, wind, stupid drivers who can't drive on wet roads. Wish people if they can't drive in bad weather they would car pool with someone else or stay home!

Got to Mary's in time for dinner there. She had a concert later in the evening, but we had plenty of time to for pizza at a good pizza place in Carytown. It's difficult to find good pizza out east, except for New York city. I love New York style pizza...nice and greasy and thin, thin crust and the pie is divided into triangle slices.

Mary had to go to her concert, her boyfriend Dave was at her house and they were going to go out to a party afterwards so Jon and I checked into our hotel. We stayed at the Courtyard of Marriott for two days and it was very nice. Nice comfy beds with lots of puffy pillows, cable television, workout room, swimming pool, hot tub, and restaurant and snack store. We went to Arby's for a quick dinner and then back to the hotel to chill. I read some of my book, Jon watched cable television and we were quite relaxed. Mary and Dave went to their party at a bar in downtown Richmond and they were witness to a shooting! It happened right there outside of their bar, and they were on the patio of this bar outside. The gunman fired five shots, don't know how many times he hit the guy he was after, but it brought him down and the gunman fled. I'm so glad that Mary and Dave and no one else was hurt. The guy who was shot survived and police did capture the gunman, thank goodness! Mary had invited Jon and I to go along with them and so I was glad we had declined and opted to go to our hotel to rest.

The next day we went over to Mary's house and did some internet and then we went over to the Galaxy Cafe for brunch. I ate my first batter-fried pickle spear and it was so delicious! We also ordered a fried Twinkie with ice cream and four fried Oreo cookies with ice cream and shared it. But we all said once we tasted it we wished we each had one of our own! It was so good. Melted right in your mouth!

Mary's concert at the Carpenter Center was at three so we changed and went there. The performance was Carmina Burana complete with orchestra, adult and children's choruses. It was spectacular. The theater is beautiful. There is a deep blue night sky painted on the ceiling and walls and the sides have arches to see though, as you can see from the photo here to the left. It's my favorite color of blue. The concert was magnificent. My ears after felt as if we had just heard a heavy metal rock concert. Spectacular, just awesome.

That evening we went to Kroger and got fried chicken, salad, rolls, potato skins and brownies and took it back to Mary's to eat. It was a good meal and a fraction of the cost of going to a restaurant. And probably a fraction of the salt. I still have to watch my salt intake and after eating at Galaxy earlier, to eat out again that same day would have made me sick.

We went back to our hotel around nine, and took showers, watched some t.v and fell asleep.The next morning we were up early since we had to check out. We had to switch hotels because Courtyard was doubling their rate on weekdays, which is ridiculous. Isn't a rented room at the half price better than an empty room for no money? Oh well...their loss. We went over to the Best Western and checked in and it was very nice, even nicer than the Marriott. Wish we would have stayed there the entire time. Free hot breakfast, plush comforter and lots of pillows.

That day was moving day for Mary. She borrowed a friend's van and Jon and Dave got most of the bigger stuff over to the new place real quick. We were done moving stuff by noon, but the clean up took awhile. And we took another Galaxy break and got the fried Twinkies and Oreos again. Yum. I got a grilled cheese instead of a big burger the second visit since that would be just too much to eat two days in a row. But had to have those fried pickles, and fried goodies once more. We went back to Mary's house again to clean and wait for the landlord. Then Mary and Dave decided to go back to her new place and Jon and I went back to our hotel and then we get a call from Mary asking if Jon has the key to her friend's van! No...David had it last. Dave said he put it in his pocket and it must have fallen out. They retraced their steps and didn't find it. But luckily, the friend had an extra key after all, after all that time spent looking.

The last day we were there we simply hung out at Mary's new house. She had taken Dave to the airport for him to go back home early in the morning, so we all slept late. Jon and I had breakfast at the hotel. And then when we went to Mary's Jon worked on fixing her bike most of the day. He always finds something to work on everywhere we go. Mr. Fixit.

We went to Carytown Burgers for dinner and while they were ordering I went into CVS to get an itch stick for all the damn mosquito bites I got on moving day in that jungle of a yard over at that place. I looked like I had chicken pox I had so many! Jon ordered burgers for all of us and cheese fries, saying he thought I would like them, when in fact it was he who wanted them, not me. He can never say he wants bad food for himself. He has to say that I want it, makes him feel less like a piggie or something!

After taking Mary home, we sat and talked awhile and then we hit the road. We had hotel reservations in Hagerstown, Maryland and didn't want to be getting there too late. Saying goodbye is always hard and I managed not to cry this time, but still my heart felt heavy having to leave my daughter again.

Driving through D.C. at that time wasn't too bad. Driving through D.C. at rush hour is hell, and why we wanted to get on the other side of D.C. to avoid the morning rush. We got stuck in construction traffic about 20 miles outside of Hagerstown. So, Jon tells me to call the motel, an Econolodge, and tell them that we are on our way but stuck in traffic. It was about 9:30 p.m. An Indian guy answered and I usually don't have a hard time understanding people, but I did with him. I was getting frustrated because he kept saying the word "cancel" and I kept saying "no cancel!" and so handed the phone to Jon who managed to communicate with him that we were indeed coming and to keep our room for us. When we got there the we found ourselves feeling like we walked into a hotel in India. The furnishings, draperies, wall hangings, pictures were all Indian. It was very interesting, but also quite odd for an Econolodge to be decorated this way. The whole place smelled of curry, which many people would like. It wasn't repulsive, but Jon isn't keen on curry and it bothered him. We went up to our room in elevators that seemed like they hadn't been updated since the 60s. It shook and rumbled up to the fourth floor. When we opened the door to our room, we could see the cold wind and drizzle blowing in the opened window, no screen. The room was clean, but the carpet was now wet in that area. We closed the window, and drapes, and took showers and went to sleep on the too-short beds. It was a place to sleep and was clean, and quiet so that was good.

We drove all the next day, stopping at Tim Horton's in Toledo for dinner of soup and chili (Jon had the chili) and then made good time on the rest of the way home. It was good to sleep in my own comfortable bed. There is no place like home.