Category Archives: appliances

Pop-Tarts World Beckons…But Guess Who Still Hasn’t Gotten Frosted.

As thankful as I am to have new freelance gigs, blogging for CafeMom’s The Stir has not left me with a whole lotta energy to write about even *more* food topics here.

Plus, I may or may not be gainfully employed for a bit…making it even less likely that I will have the oomph to write about food (or food-ish topics) when I get home.

Thus, my blog has been neglected. (And after conning my friends into supporting me on Facebook no less. Sheesh.) Now it’s practically September…which means Labor Day and Back to School and Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and I AM ALMOST 30.

So. A lot on my mind…but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking of you, my dear blog/readers…

I read this story about Pop-Tarts World when it was published on August 8 (!) and I thought it would make a great blog post. In a perfect world, I would have visited the Times Square location by now and would have the inside scoop on Pop-Tarts sushi, vending machines that enable you to create your own variety packs and how you can get “frosted.” But, sadly, the best I can do is tell you that it exists. And that I think the idea is pretty great (…and I applaud the Pop-Tarts marketing team…)…even though I’d probably pick Pillsbury Toaster Strudel over Pop-Tarts any day of the week.

Image via oskay/Flickr

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Covet Thy Neighbor’s Wife? Heck, No! I Covet My Neighbor’s Vacuum.

It seems I have reached a stage in life in which I really want a vacuum.

And…I guess it makes sense as I have become increasingly domestic in recent years…but I’m not sure I was expecting *this.*

It all started with these little fuzzball characters that I glued to my clock radio…which I got in, like, junior high. There were originally about five of them. And my mischievous cat, in various acts of play, managed to remove all but the one that looks like an elephant that I got at Marine World/Africa U.S.A. — also likely in junior high.

And…I got a new patchwork mailbag purse for my birthday, but this one has a wonky shoulder strap and it recently broke again, but I was out of crazy glue…so I had to buy more crazy glue and then I guess I went a little — ahem — crazy and was lookin’ for stuff to glue and, after reattaching the number 9 to my Last Supper Hologram clock (also a victim of the cat), I saw my poor clock radio with only one lonely fuzzball character and two pair of feet where  his brethren used to stand.

Related: Periodically, I take a ruler and a flashlight and fish out whatever said cat has managed to lose underneath my dresser, couch and armoire. So…I figured if I did this again, I might find some of my missing fuzzball friends to glue back on my clock. And, boy, did I…in addition to a zillion hair ties, countless cat toys, a single pushpin, two pieces of junk mail and a postcard from my friend Jonathan. And dust. And cat hair. But — shame alert — not just, like, a normal amount of dust and cat hair. It was more like dust and cat hair were plotting together under said surfaces to overthrow me. And if I had waited any longer, I might have ended up a cautionary tale under a headline in the New York Post like, “Dust Might,” or “When Sally Met Hairy.” I was horrified…and got rid of as much of it as I could…while also wondering if my friends had been talking behind my back about staging an intervention.

And I admit I have tossed around the idea of getting a vacuum in the past…but I always concluded it was one of those cost-prohibitive things and that I could just sweep until my massive book deal.

But I felt in wake of the terrible discovery of what lies beneath my furniture that the vacuum went from an idea to an imperative. And then I began wondering how and when I became the type of person who really wants a vacuum. I guess age is the answer?

I have a big birthday this year…which is part of my life panic, I guess. So much was supposed to have happened by now…but who knew that it would also usher in a new life stage in which vacuums make me happy?

I found one on Target.com that wasn’t *too* expensive…and for a brief, shining moment, I was really excited as — for whatever reason — I am on some sort of I’m-getting-hitched mailing list and I’ve been getting all sorts of mail about planning my wedding…including — drumroll — an invitation from Target’s Club Wedd to register for ten items in exchange for a $20 gift card. (Although, unfortunately, it expired last weekend, so I totally blew it. Although morally I am batting 1.000, I guess.)

So. No vacuum yet. But, as noted, I still want one. This is the face of maturity?

I remember when I reached the point at which I felt I was too old to have posters — I felt I had graduated to framed art. And so I ended up taking a Van Gogh and a Monet from home that I had in my bedroom in high school. And they worked for awhile. But…I don’t really feel they fit anymore now either…and I feel a little silly with them up. I’ve  been browsing Etsy lately and falling in love with various pieces of art…but it seems like everything I find that makes me think, “I can’t live without that!” is in Europe and therefore prohibitively expensive to ship.

Part of me also really wants one of those Warhol-esque canvases with four prints of the same image in different colors. Part of me thinks it would be completely amazing to hang something like that in a prominent place in my apartment — not unlike Eva Longoria on Desperate Housewives — but the rest of me is only brave enough to do something like that if no one ever comes into my apartment ever again. Sort of hard to explain that it’s an inside joke with myself and that the intense narcissism is what makes it funny…although, then again, it’s my damn apartment and I guess I should do whatever I damn well please here.

However…I also sort of feel like Here’s-Me-In-Four-Different-Color-Schemes would only work in the height of Year of Lisa fervor…and — not sure if you’ve noticed — but I’ve tried to tone it down a little. I’m still trying to focus on the book and to hustle to come up with enough freelance assignments to keep me afloat and to be happy…but am maybe slightly less in-your-face about it. And I’m slowly but surely trying to tackle the clutter in my apartment — also a Year of Lisa goal — but I killed my shredder in the act. So. I may have to add “shredder,” to the list, too. But, luckily, a friend is going to Costco soon…so I may be able to kill two birds with one stone. What an efficient and tidy supporter of small artists I am turning out to be?

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Filed under appliances, birthdays, Brooklyn, feminism

New York, We Have to Talk…

New York and I have had a good run. For more years than I’d care to admit, we’ve been really happy together.

I’ve had plenty of those Only-in-NY Moments. Take, for example, the homeless guy who peed in an empty bag of potato chips on the E train on my morning commute once. Or the Michael Jackson birthday party in Prospect Park. Stuff like that doesn’t happen anywhere else…and I guess there’s a sort of pride attached to it when you live here and you get to go to those things because you’ve made a conscious decision to be here.

I’ve had my fair share of celebrity sightings: Dianne Wiest, Gabriel Byrne (we live in the same ‘hood — he used to go to Cafe Scaramouche before it became Buttermilk Channel), Debra Messing, Uma Thurman, Steve Buscemi, Chase Crawford, Mario Cantone, and that tall guy from Law & Order SVU. Denny Doherty of the Mamas and the Papas starred in the musical that was performing at the theater where I worked my first summer in New York. And I interviewed the Naked Cowboy once…and had “Hi Lisa, it’s Naked…” on my voicemail for a really long time.

I’ve had some really good times here and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and I’m so, so glad I did that big, scary thing and moved here by myself all those years ago.

And for a long time — whether because of work or school or my own personal dramas — I’ve sort of been gliding along here. I built myself a home. And for the first time since California circa 1994, I’ve felt like there’s this one place in the world where I belong. And, sure, I hate the uncertainty of freelancing and wish things had turned out differently post-J-school, but…for the most part, I’ve been fine. Sure, it’s a busy place that sucks a lot out of you…and I always looked forward to escaping to Alaska because it’s pretty much the exact opposite of New York in every way and I could actually slow down for a bit and breathe in new surroundings and see places that were untouched by virtually anything and come back feeling like I could face everything again.

No more Alaska though — this year I went to Arizona and New Mexico. The trip had about the same effect, I guess…but returning to New York in July was the first time I haven’t actually been excited about coming back. Usually I can’t wait to get back to my apartment and my life. But I didn’t feel that way this year. And, for the first time, I started noticing things that never bothered me before — it’s dirty; it’s crowded; it’s full of egomaniacs.

Then I went away again — and the same thing happened upon my return. I just don’t feel the same about being here anymore. And somewhere along the way in either Colorado or Illinois on my *next* trip, it hit me: I think I’m ready to leave New York. I’m happier when I’m not here.

And, granted, it’s not exactly reality when I’m away because I don’t have to spend eight, ten, twelve hours in front of a computer writing asset management stories or applying for jobs or pitching freelance ideas or working on the Great American Novel (…or copywriting)…so maybe it isn’t entirely fair to blame unhappiness directly on New York. But, at the same time, I’ve done some freelance work while I’ve been away…and I still think it’s safe to say I’m happier in other places. (A New York friend even observed that I look happier in the photos on Facebook that were taken in other cities…)

Last weekend was my first weekend back in a long time. And I made lasagna and empanadas (which turned out BEAUTIFUL because I watched one of the chefs at Xoco very, very carefully and tried to mimic what she did…). And I realized how happy cooking makes me. (That’s one bad thing about so much traveling — I haven’t really cooked much.) I don’t really have the budget or the appetite to cook every day…but on those days that I do, the act itself always makes me happy…which sort of begs the question of culinary school, but that’s a whole other can of worms I’m not really ready to open yet. (Plus, writing still makes me happier than anything. So, ideally, I’ll be able to forge out a living combining the two someday…)

For now, I’m expanding my job search…and we’ll see what happens. (It’s never a bad thing to have additional options, right?) If I get my dream job in New York, I’ll stay. I’ll put up with insane rent and try to make an agent fall in love with my book proposal and maybe someday I’ll be on The View telling the ladies what a rough spot it was in ’08-’09 before my life really took off.

Or…maybe the reason nothing has worked out here is because I’m not meant to stay. Maybe I should really be somewhere else. (The problem is that my life is in so many places…I don’t know where to go. For a long time I’ve said that I think my wedding will be the only day in my life when everyone I love is actually in the same place. Although I guess the glass-is-half-full spin is that I could really go anywhere. And that got me thinking about how happy I was when I lived in England…and that it’s crazy that I haven’t been back in seven years…so I think a trip to London is imminent.)

The sort of depressing part is that job opportunities didn’t expand exponentially when I started looking across the country. There is a pretty darn good one in Dallas…and a sort of okay one in Denver…but other than that, I really haven’t seen anything. (So…maybe it’ll be culinary school after all, eh?)

Nevertheless, I spent the good part of a morning this week looking at apartments in Dallas and realized that for less than half of what I am paying now, I could get an apartment with an actual bedroom and a dishwasher and a washer/dryer and access to pools and fitness centers and all sorts of crazy stuff. And I could finally get a golden retriever! (I even looked at breeders in Texas and found one that traced the lineage of its puppies on its Web site and the father of a litter that was due last September was related somewhere along the line to a dog named Miss Racey Lacey. Gotta be some sort of sign, right?)

If I was still exceedingly happy in New York…or if I was even taking advantage of living here anymore, I wouldn’t be looking beyond its limits. But I think I’m ready for a change. And now all I have to do is figure out what that actually means.

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Filed under Alaska, appliances, Brooklyn, Mamas and Papas

Cue the Lynyrd Skynyrd…

Boy, am I going to sound like a wet blanket, but…the job woes continue, etc., etc.

And…as noted in my previous post, I’ve been sad about The Bartender. So…I was talking to my oldest childhood friend and she reminded me that maybe the reason everything is so uncertain for us now is because of our Saturn Return. So, I mean, this is fantastic news. I can’t even tell you how comforting it is…especially since I can now start thinking about 30 as the end of chaos…rather than the beginning of the end.

Big J’s other revelation? Welll…I was *also* saying that I think maybe my love affair with New York is coming to an end (although, then again, something like the Michael Jackson birthday party comes along and reminds me why I fell in love with Brooklyn in the first place…)…and there are so many cities I’d love to try out before all is said and done: Seattle, Chicago and Atlanta, to name a few…and then I start looking for jobs in those places and then I end up with a totally overwhelming number of jobs to apply for and then I start thinking, “I don’t even know if I want any of these jobs!” and I don’t actually apply for anything and I get nowhere.

That is when Big J said (more or less), “You big dummy! You don’t just apply for anything! You look for the jobs you really *want* and *those* are the jobs that you apply for outside of New York!”

And of course she’s right!

So…I did just that on Friday…and came across a job in Alabama that sounds like it would be a really good fit — writing and editing stories about food, home and travel. I don’t actually know anyone in Alabama…and I’m not sure how I feel about starting all over *again*…but I spent four years in Mississippi and Georgia growing up…and was actually surprised by how nice it was to be in the South again when I went on the trip in the trailer with my mama in July…(see my post about that meal in Carlisle, Arkansas. Whoa.)

Plus, I’d be living on the coast…which is 1) super-beautiful (if memory serves)…and 2) only about five hours from Atlanta. So…I could get a car and visit some of my favorite people on the weekends…and I could finally get a Golden retriever. And imagine the kind of apartment I could have — I’m thinking washer/dryer *and* dishwasher. My heart be still…

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Filed under appliances, birthdays, frying, Mississippi

Things I Learned at the Meat Counter Today

I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t actually cook with meat all that often. I don’t know why. Perhaps because I make a lot of pasta. Or I secretly hate protein.

In any event, when I *do*, I am always paranoid I’m going to make myself sick by not cooking it long enough, so I end up cooking it too long and it burns a little…which I guess isn’t that big of a deal as I am only feeding myself and I don’t have a vent, so I have to take the batteries out of the smoke alarm whenever I use the stove anyway. It may inconvenience the lady upstairs who has to smell my noxious fumes…but if it truly bothers her, she’s never complained about it.

All this is to say that I had to seek out pork loin today for this — Pork and Pozole Burritos — which is a rare errand. And so imagine my dismay when I got to the meat counter at the borderline crummy Met Foods near me and discovered that all they had were TEN POUND SLABS. That’s right — pork loin was only available in ten pound increments. And, for the record, that’s TWENTY TIMES the amount I needed.

I ended up going with a boneless option that came in a one-pound package…but as I stood there, staring at my options, I was shocked when I noticed boxes of Armour Star Lard in the meat case (I use that link because he seems like a curious guy…and so happy with his coupons!).

I don’t use lard in my pie crusts — I opt for shortening…but Armour Star piqued my interest because…way back when I was working at Good Housekeeping, I had to go through back issues from the 1960s once to photocopy a column called “Every Day is Mother’s Day.” It wasn’t all that exciting and/or interesting…but! I was fascinated by the ads. They were really funny…(or depressing, I guess…depending how you looked at it). They SO clearly played on women’s insecurities…which I suppose they still do today…but it was different then. Less subtle?

There were a few ads that I enjoyed in particular (I think you all know how I feel about Miss Fluffy Rice) and so I photocopied them and framed a couple that now hang in my kitchen.

One of the photocopies? You guessed it: Armour Star Lard…which asked: Whey are the most tender, flaky pie crusts you ever tasted made by someone else?

A: It’s because they use Armour Star Lard.

Who would have ever thought that paranoid crust-makers could *still* procure Armour Star in modern-day Brooklyn?

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"I’ve never seen so many Crock-Pots in my life."

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Filed under appliances, birthdays, parties

Easy-Bake, 45; Mia, 6.

So…my niece will be six next week…and as she was super-excited about her August birthday back at Christmas, I imagine she’s off-the-charts this week.

And I wasn’t quite sure what to get her…until I saw this:

Hasbro’s Easy-Bake Brand Kicks Off the 2009 “Baker of the Year” Contest Celebrating 45 Years of Baking Sweet Memories.

I had one of those ovens and I loved it!

And I could totally be her sous chef!

It says ages eight and up…so she’s still too young to officially enter the contest…but her house is always full of people, so I think there are enough grown-ups to make sure she easy-bakes safely.

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