Monday, July 29, 2013

Fringe Event

Last Wednesday, I went down into the basement to find something to wear to work.  While I was rooting through the dryer, I heard a weird sound.  It was a sort of scrabbling sound, almost like chewing.  Immediately on high alert, I skulked around the basement in search of the sound's source.  Strangely, it seemed to be coming from the spool of weed whacker cord that was sitting innocently on the floor. The weed whacker cord container, I knew, was hollow on one side.  My initial reaction was to flip it over and see what was under there, but I chickened out at the last moment.  What if it ran out and bit me?  What if it got loose and I lost it?  What if it got upstairs and bit the cats?  Instead, I went to find a grown-up.

Since I longer live at home, the closest I could find to a grown-up was Chris.  A thing they don't tell you about adulthood is that you're supposed to deal with creepy things by yourself.  I don't ever remember going through a training course on how to deal with weird sounds/strange lights/odd things seen out of the corner of your eye.  This is something I worry about as far as having children is concerned - what if my son would get scared and think there was a monster in his closet?  I might get weirded out and be afraid of it too!  Do you naturally become braver when you have a child, or were my parents just as creeped out as I was all those times? 

Anyway, I went upstairs and woke Chris.  It was only 6:45, so he was pretty unhappy at the interruption to his sleep. At first he refused to get up, since I hear sounds and get scared all the time.  But when I told him it sounded like something alive, he was pretty quick to get out of bed.  After the bats last summer, we don't rule anything out. He grabbed a sword and followed me down to the basement.

I was afraid that the sound would have stopped and he would think I was crazy, but luckily it was still going strong. He poked the weed whacker spool with the sword and the sound got more frantic.  We both took cautious steps away.  After just standing and staring for literally minutes, Chris found an old hermit crab tank and placed it over the spool.  I think his original idea was to flip the spool once it was covered, but there are some flaw in this plan - the most obvious being: how will we flip the spool when it is surrounded by glass?

We were running short on time, so decided to just leave it there until I got home from work.  Whatever was in there sounded like it was chewing away rather determinedly at the spool's plastic, so surely it would have eaten its way through by the time I got home.  And when it did get through, it would be trapped by the tank and we'd find out what it was.  Chris was on vacation from work that week, so I made him promise not to free the mystery beast until I got home.

Most of my day was spent pondering what could possibly be under that spool.  Chris had guessed that maybe it was a vole, but I was certain it had to be something more sinister.  What, though, I couldn't be sure.  When I got home, I excitedly asked if he had checked on the captured beast in the basement.  "No," he said.  "I forgot all about it."  Forgot?!  How on earth could he forget?!  So we ventured downstairs to check on our trap.

Nothing had happened.  There was no hole in the spool, no fantastical creature pacing the confines of its enclosure.  Just the spool and now no noise.  My immediate concern was that it had somehow escaped, but Chris rattled the tank and the scrabbling resumed, though somewhat less frantic.  Chris, the genius that he is, grabbed a square of cardboard from an old pizza box and slipped it under the tank and the spool.  This way we could flip the whole thing and finally see what was inside.  But the cardboard was too flimsy and buckled every time we tried.  So I came to the rescue with - what else - duct tape.  I taped the cardboard to the tank, making sure no holes remained.  With the cardboard secured, we flipped the whole thing over.

Nothing happened.  Where was the wee beastie?  Had it somehow gotten out?  Was it invisible?  Were we both crazy?  Were we experiencing a Fringe Event in our very own basement?  I should take a moment here and explain to those of you who don't watch Fringe that a Fringe Event is a strange and unexplainable happening.  I've probably been watching way too much of this show, and it is making me even more alarmed by mundane occurrences than usual.

Finally, with enough shaking, Chris was finally able to catch a glimpse of the horror that had been plaguing us for the last twelve hours.  And do you know what it was?

A beetle.  An insanely huge beetle.

 I excitedly asked Chris if an ancient Egyptian scarab somehow magically appeared in our basement, maybe to send us on an epic quest, but he assured me that no, we just have really big beetles around here.  I gotta admit, I was a little disappointed that it wasn't something more interesting.  But at the same time I was relived that it wasn't something more interesting.  Such is life, I suppose.  We took our beetle captive outside.  She seemed rather lethargic, so we gave her some water. When we next went out to check on her, she was gone.  A boring end to what I guess is a pretty boring story.  But it was exciting to me, for a little while.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Stuffed Zucchini

I got quite a few zucchinis from my zucchini plant before it was completely consumed by the pumpkin plant.  As such, I've decided to make myself some stuffed zucchini for lunch this week.  Here's the recipe I used:

  • zucchini
  • ground beef
  • tomato paste (or spaghetti sauce, if you're into disgusting chunks of crap)
  • cheese
  • spices/seasonings (and onions, peppers, or whatever if you like gross things)
I hate recipes without exact measurements as much as the next guy, but there really isn't any need to be precise with this one.  So let's get out there and wing it!

If you're me, the first step will be to call your mum and ask her for the millionth time how to make this stuff.  But I've already taken care of that.  So first take your zucchini and slice that thing in half.

Next, draw a grid on there with your knife - but be careful not to pierce the skin.  You're gonna need that.  You just want to slice up the insides.

If you sliced it up right, you should be able to scoop all the bits into a bowl all nice and pre-cubed.  If not, no big deal.  Just cut up what you've got into bite-sized pieces. If you are me, you'll call your mum to ask if you can/should eat zucchini seeds - the answer is yes.

 Your zucchini skin should look like a cute little boat now.  Set that aside.

But don't set it too far aside or overly intrusive cats might try to eat it.

Now brown up your ground beef, seasoning with whatever flavors you prefer.  I used sea salt, seasoning salt, and garlic powder.  I guess this is also the place where you would add onions or peppers or whatever else, but why ruin a good thing?  Add your browned beef to the zucchini cubes.

The next step is to add your tomato sauce and cheese.  If you are me, you'll realize that your tomato somehow expired in 2010.  You'll call your mum for a third time to ask her if it is safe to eat three year expired tomato sauce.  She will say no and will be kind enough to bring you a fresh can.  But hopefully you don't have old, gross food sitting around your house the way I do.  After she has left, you'll realize that you also do not have cheese.  So you'll have to run to the grocery store and buy some.  Again, I'd like to think you're a bit more prepared than I am.  When you've gotten your beef, zucchini, cheese, and tomato sauce mixed together til it looks right, spoon all that stuff back into the adorable little boat.  It should look like this:

Put that guy in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.  When it is done, you can either eat it or portion it out into lunch serving and put it in the fridge.  Whatever works best for you. 

And that's the end.  It's quick (if you have all your ingredients ahead of time) and easy and pretty darned healthy.  Enjoy!

Saturday, July 27, 2013


This week I:
  • Tried to play Tomb Raider.
  • Finished my workout for an ice cream reward.
  • Cleaned out my car!
  • The car wash gave some good advice.
  • Had a night out with friends (and it rained a lot).

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Garden 2013 - Week 15

The garden is still going strong!  The weather has been really cooperative - not too hot and rain every day or so.  I don't even have to go out and water at all most of the time.  It's really pretty nice.

The tomatoes are almost ready to go.  The tomato bush is so big that it has completely pulled my tomato cage over and is growing up the fence.  Impressive!

Carrots are almost ready?  I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to be looking for with these guys, so I think I'll give them a little more time.

The pumpkin is still getting bigger.  I think there are some other smaller pumpkins, but I haven't really had time to look very closely.

Three watermelons that I can see, but there might be more.

Sooooooo many butternut squashes!  I don't know what I'm going to do with all of them.

Thyme and chives

Sage, basil, and apple mint.

Apple mint, dill, rosemary, and lemongrass.

 Rosemary, lemongrass, kentucky colonel mint.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My First Green Smoothie

As you may or may not know, I've been lifting and running and trying to eat healthier for a while now.  But I still have a really hard time consuming enough vegetables in a day.  To help remedy this situation, I decided to try my first ever green smoothie last night.

I started with this recipe: Cantaloupe-Grape Sweetness, but altered it a little to fit my needs.  I used:
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/2 cup cantaloupe
  • 1/2 cup grapes
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk

I stuck the whole business in my knock-off magic bullet and blended it up.

It smelled good, and was a very pretty color, but I was not completely sure about actually drinking it.  I took a few sips and was totally grossed out by the texture.  I jokingly tried to pawn it off on Chris, and he told me to put it in the fridge so he could drink it later.  The fact that he was actually willing to drink the thing somehow renewed my dedication, and I resolved to finish it myself.

I live-tweeted the event, since live-tweeting is my new favorite thing.

In the end, I was able to finish the green smoothie, and it really wasn't that bad at all.  I think if I blend it better next time, maybe it won't be so bad?  I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fake Gamesday 2013

This year was the 10th trip I've taken to Baltimore with my guys. Well, some of them anyway.  The group was significantly smaller than usual this year, but we still had an awesome time.

We stayed in a new hotel this year, the Marriott Waterfront. It wasn't right in the harbor where we usually stay, it was about 0.4 miles away.  I was a little concerned about that at first, but it only took us a few minutes to reach the places we knew and loved.  Plus, there was a pretty scenic path leading right from the hotel to Pratt Street. So it all worked out really well.  I would definitely go back there. Plus, we were on the 22nd floor, so our view of the city was amazing.

We didn't really do anything, which seems to confuse a lot of people, but that was kind of the point.  Saturday we spent the day wandering around the inner harbor, eating and taking in the sites.  Steve and Meghan bought adorable new hats at Hats In The Belfry!

For dinner we went to Fogo de Chão for dinner.  It was the most delicious and most expensive meal I've ever eaten in my entire life.

We intended to go swimming when we got back to the hotel, but it has started storming and they closed the pool. Instead, we spent most of the night watching the amazing view of the storm before heading back to the inner harbor for some late-night cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory.

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend with great friends.  I hope I can look forward to another ten years of Baltimore trips!