Saturday, 21 May 2011

And The Award For Most Annoying Goes To....

I work with men.  A whole bunch of 'em.  And I've been working with them for so long that I sometimes forget that in a proper workplace, most of these guys wouldn't be able to keep their employment for longer than a day.  Most of the things that happen on a daily basis would be severely frowned upon in the "real world".  But.  We don't work in the "real world".  It's just us 12 or so.  For days.  People in the "real world" forget we're here and don't realize simple things like - it's JUST.  US.  Which ends up being complicated.
Most people finish their day jobs and then all go their separate ways to their homes and spend time with their families.  Not us.  We work together, eat together, live together and, although we are simply co-workers, there is a family dynamic of some sort.

The problem is - when you spend all your time (literally 24 hours a day) with the same people, they can start to annoy you A LOT.

Before I came here I worked with a whole bunch of women.  They annoyed me also.  One woman I worked with whistled.  She whistled all day long, everywhere she went.  Perhaps she assumed she was breaking the silence in her own head, but everyone in the office had to listen to her.  After 8 hours of listening to someone whistle, the next person to come into your general vicinity who is whistling almost gets beaten up.  Really.  It almost happened in a grocery store, and the offender literally ran in the other direction.  Probably because I gave him a look that could have turned him to stone, I've been told I make a pretty nasty face when I want to.

Another woman I worked with complained (I also complain, but I figure I do just the right amount to keep my sanity intact).  She complained about the cold, the heat, children in grocery stores and restaurants, the weatherman's inability to properly predict the weather, if her lettuce went brown 27 hours after she bought it, we heard about it.  And she was loud and her voice was ingratiating.  So really, it was excellent to be sitting within 20 feet of her.  The poor woman who sat directly across from her (they were in the same department and shared a cubicle), was pretty well 100% deaf.  She wore hearing aids.  She turned them off without the knowledge of complaining lady - I only know this because upon approaching poor lady she couldn't hear a single word I was saying to her, gave me the "just one second" finger, and proceeded to turn them on.  Inspired, I took to wearing my iPod all day long.  It irritated my boss, but I was far more productive, because I wasn't running off every 10 minutes to have a break from complaining lady.

And yet ANOTHER woman that I worked with was probably the dumbest person on the planet.  No really.  Some of the things that came out of her mouth were so stupid and ridiculous and naive that I regularly thought "no way, you didn't just say that.  You can NOT be that freakin' stupid."  I assume she thought she was being funny, but she really just sounded stupid.  I was absolutely positive that my brain cells started dying every time she opened her mouth.

Then I started my current job.  And I thought - "yay, a whole bunch of guys!  There's no way they'll have drama and act like idiots all day long".  And boy oh boy was I ever wrong.

They gossip and alter truths and complain about their cross-shifts - and each other - and I'm so close to handing out tampons and midol that it's not even funny.  Basically they're big dumb idiots who treat me like one of the guys, but sometimes I want to be treated like a GIRL.  Sometimes I need them to be nice to me.

The guy that I'm currently trapped with in the office for 10 hours a day (for 8 days straight) is loud and obnoxious.  Where ever he goes, loud invariably follows.  And he forever needs to make noise - LOUD noise.  Clapping his hands as loud as he can.  Singing along (badly) to his (bad) music.  Stomping around.  Acting like the coolest cat on the block (which he is so obviously NOT), who knows everything there is to know about everything.  He's an expert on every subject.  Every one.  If I brought him home to my parent's house, my Dad would look at me and go "who the EFF is this clown?  You really like him????"  This is the guy who thinks that being the schoolyard bully and pushing people around makes him hilarious and super-cool.  And probably the worst part - he chews snuff.  Or whatever.  All I know is that it's loud and disgusting when he spits into a coffee cup.  It's like listening to someone hawk a loogie every two minutes for 10 hours.  It's gotten so bad that I've asked another co-worker who regularly brings spitty guy snuff, to STOP.  And really - if he could just spit into the cup quietly - I wouldn't care, but the sound of the spitting all day long grates on my nerves.  And I only have a few left.

So today, the Most Annoying Award goes to you spitty guy.  Yes you.  May you hold your Award high.  You don't realize it, but I want to walk over and rip the snuff right out of your mouth, set it on fire, and punch you in the face. 

Maybe it's just me?

This is the Cane Girl - signing off.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

When Did I Move to The Windy City?

Coming home on Wednesday was like walking into a wind tunnel that had suddenly become your permanent home.  To be honest, I would rather have cold weather than 20+ degrees celcius and wind.  Because it's really just a tease.  You wake up in the morning, look out the window and see the gorgeously blue sky and the bright beautiful sunlight - both of which you'd been sure had abandoned you in the dreary winter months - and the excitement in your heart builds.  Then you open the door.  The wind whips around you invading every curve, every line, every part of you.  Blowing out the flame on your BBQ (if you're like me and have a cheapy BBQ, it's not so reliable in the wind), making it impossible for a crappy golfer such as myself to golf crappily, blowing garbage and the last remaining dead leaves into your yard, knocking things down, and banging the fans in the bathroom and kitchen.

So basically I was trapped in my house for six days because - while it was absolutely warm and the sun was wonderful - the wind just made me feel completely crazy.  It also happened to knock out my satellite (at least I assume that was the cause) and I had no tv for days.  Just in time for me to be trapped in my house.

Last summer I somehow managed to break the tension springs on the mulcher door of my lawnmower.  Basically it means that the door where the collector bag goes didn't sit tightly against the bag and grass would blow out over the top of the bag...  It's actually not terribly technical, but I have no idea how to explain it in lament's terms.  Two weeks ago while sucking up dead grass with the mower and ultimately being completely covered in dead grass from head to toe, I decided that I'd had enough of that noise and it needed to be fixed.

I'm somewhat of a DIY'er....  I hate the idea of paying someone for something that I can do perfectly well myself (except for electrical work - I'm likely to electrocute myself and be found days later after failing to show up for work on Wednesday).  I research projects until I know absolutely everything I can and ask for help where I need it and then get to work.  For example, why would I wait for a technician when I'm perfectly capable of picking up an RF cable and climbing up a ladder to attach it to the satellite dish and run it into the house into a new two port wall plate and running two lines into my DVR?  I would not, I took care of it myself (with only a little hiccup, the outdoor cable was not long enough so I had to connect it to a shorter cable and then run it into the house) in only a couple of hours and it worked perfectly.  Until last week.

So when it came to researching how to replace the tension springs, I hit a wall.  Apparently, the manufacturer of my lawnmower keeps the "how-to's" totally top-secret.  I did have access to an owner's manual, which is basically just a pretty picture and a listing of the parts.  Not terribly helpful.  So I e-mailed their technical support and asked for the information to be sent to me.  As for the springs - there is a "Lawnmower Hospital" not far from my house and I called to ask if they carry parts (for the DIY'er such as myself).  They told me to get the serial number and model number of my lawnmower and drop in.  And so, first thing Thursday morning (after grocery shopping), armed with the required information I went in to get the springs.  $14 for two springs - I can't decide if that's expensive or not.

After I got home from some additional shopping (not something I do very often, but I had SO. MUCH. FUN!), I turned on the computer and was VERY happy to find that the manufacturer had e-mailed me back quite promptly with a picture-style step by step set of instructions.  So, I printed the instructions, grabbed my flowery screwdriver, the new springs, and headed outside.

Now, remember, the wind is blowing at about 35 km/hr and gusting up to 70 km/hr.  It was literally impossible to keep everything together and more than once I thought I had lost very key parts of my lawnmower.

Removing the old springs was not terribly hard (since they were broken), but then came the impossible part.  I could NOT get the NEW springs on like in the pictures.  I deemed it impossible and that the manufacturer was pulling my leg until I realised that I needed to remove at least one of the wheel assemblies in order to finish what I'd started.  I dragged out my crescent wrench, but it was completely the wrong tool for the little space I needed to get into and had to beg and borrow from my neighbor a box-end wrench (I learned this terminology after the fact, like I really had any idea what it was called).  After getting one wheel assembly pulled apart and pulling the mulcher door off, the springs when into place just like I'd been showed.  Success.  Then I put the mower back together and assuming that the springs would just pop into place in a notch on the wheel assembly, I closed the mulcher door and squealed my triumph.  Only nothing happened.

I assumed possibly that I'd done something wrong, and would have to start all over again.  So I ripped off the wheel assembly once again and messed around.  I really could NOT see how it was supposed to work.  It just did not make sense.  After messing around for an indeterminate amount of time, I finally gave in and put the mower into the shed - still ripped apart - and went inside.  I once again e-mailed the manufacturer and asked them for their help and began my waiting.  The next morning by 9 am I still had not heard from them, so I called (I tend to be like a dog with a bone when I have a project, planned or incomplete) and ended up talking to the woman who helped me originally.  Who, I'm perfectly sure, thought I was a crazy person.  She told me that I just needed to use a screwdriver and guide the spring into position on the wheel assembly.  I silently scoffed, but agreed to go out and take another look.

The wheel assembly back on, the mulcher door closed, I could finally see how to get the spring into place. 

Just a tip from me to you - wear safety glasses.  People will laugh at you and think you look stupid, but I came very close to stabbing myself in the eyeball while guiding that stupid spring into the notch that was it's home.  Like 1/2 an inch close.  The screwdriver knocked me across the nose and I could feel the blade on my cheek just under my eye.  So from now on.  Safety glasses.  I could care less about how dorky I look wearing them - bet you a dollar I would look much worse minus an eye.

I will admit, I did a little happy dance and announced "I DID IT!" to the neighborhood.  They didn't mind, they were all at work.  I blame my ineffectiveness in completing my one project for the week on the wind.  It was distracting and exhausting, so not being able to finish the project on the same day as it was started is clearly not my fault.  And for the rest of that day, I wandered around the house with a completely smug and superior attitude.  I won't deny it.

On Saturday, my sweet baby niece came for a visit for a couple of hours while her Mom was getting her hair done before they headed to Calgary.  Baby could not be more adorable if she tried.  Seriously.  I was absolutely thrilled when her Mom took her out of the truck and she came right to me for hugs and kisses.  She is a baby of few words, but she does manage to get her point across!  She loved on my weather station big time, pushing all the buttons and checking out the screen.  We went outside on to the deck and somehow wound up walking down the sidewalk in our stocking feet and ruining our socks with those sticky tree pods that litter the sidewalks.  My only wish is that I can spend more time with her.

Sunday and Monday the wind continued to howl and I hid out away from it - mostly to maintain my sanity.

When Tuesday arrived - still windy, but gorgeous, and not as bad as days previous - I cleaned the house and went out to mow the lawn and admire the fantastic work of my repairs.  It totally worked.  The lawn had been very dry for a number of days and the wind had dried it out even more.  It needed a drink in the worst way, and even though the sprinkler wasn't very effective, I watered anyway.  And the spoils of my brief afternoon outside?  A huge mosquitoe bite in the center of my forehead (YES, I was wearing bug spray - practically dripped with it - mosquitoes just assume I'm their personal buffet), and the tiniest bit of a tan.  I can see the lines on my feet from my sandals.

And then Wednesday morning, got up, went outside, and the air was still and calm and warm.  The perfect morning.  Of course - since I had to go back to work - of course it was wonderful that morning.  Geez.

My fingers are crossed that the weather, wind, and everything else co-operates somewhat so that I can spend my days off outside lounging on the deck and drinking cold iced tea.  That is the only thing that will make up for not being able to do any cooking - it's been far too hot in my house to even think about turning on the oven.  No cooking - no outside, it doesn't feel very fair.  I was bored stiff.

For now - this is the Cane Girl, signing off.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Nice Weather = Busy Week

Whew - I want to say that I'm looking forward to some downtime, but I'm not sure where it's going to come from!

As Winter has finally left the proverbial building, it gave me a lot of inspiration to do my Spring cleaning.

Thursday and Friday were spent cleaning out drawers, cupboards, under appliances, inside appliances, etc etc.  It's actually pretty amazing how much you can get accomplished when you don't have a TV.  (I got a new one, and the old one got taken away on Friday, the new one was coming on Saturday)

Oh - I also recorded the Royal Wedding to my PVR.  I liked watching the ceremony and I wanted to see them kiss on the balcony.  I thought Princess Catherine's dress was gorgeous, she looked so incredibly lovely - I thought the veil was ethereal and delicate and wonderful.  I thought Prince William looked very very handsome.  The red was beautiful in contrast to the white.  I'm sort of partial to the red uniform though, I love the red serge's on the Mounties.

Saturday morning, I got really bored while waiting for my Dad to get to the house, so I headed outside and started raking the dead grass out of the lawn.  Well, first it started with raking leaves, and then turned into a totally different obsession over the grass.  Dad showed up when I was about halfway through the lawn, so I dropped what I was doing and went in to get the TV set up and make lunch.

After lunch, Dad waxed my car and his truck (don't worry!  I helped!).  After we were done, we went in and were just hanging out watching a movie, when we discovered a problem with my electronics.  FOUR HOURS LATER.  We still have no idea what was wrong, but I got a Blu-Ray player for my birthday!  (Okay, it's three months early - whatever) 

For dinner I made Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice and Indian Roti.  I have to be honest, I totally cheat on the Butter Chicken.  I use the President's Choice jarred sauce.  It's DELICIOUS and tastes just like what you'd get in an Indian Restaurant - so why mess around with making it from scratch.  I was disappointed with the rice because I didn't have enough to make a proper batch in the rice cooker (and it was just barely enough for me and Dad), I knew I should have bought more.  Oh well. 

And the Roti - I love Roti.  Yum.  When I was in Grade 1 or 2, I lived down the street from an Indian girl (who was also in the same class as me) and when I would go to her house at lunchtime, her Mom would make us Roti.  I still think about it - even after all this time.  So I decided to learn how to make Roti.  I read recipes, watched videos, and learned all I could.  ( was especially helpful)  When I got home from work one week (this was ages ago) I headed over to this great Indian grocery store not far from where I live.  I told the lady working there that I was looking for durum atta flour.  She asked me what I was making and I told her I was learning how to make Roti.  She promptly proceeded to turn to two other patrons and tell them something, not in English.  All three proceeded to then turn and look at me and laugh.  Now, I didn't know what they were saying, but I understood VERY CLEARLY.  I couldn't believe they all laughed at me!  How MEAN!  And they have no idea about anything - maybe I have a lovely little Indian friend who was going to teach me.  Whatever.  Grrrr.  My feelings were still pretty hurt. 


Sunday morning Dad went on home and I continued working on spring cleaning (finished that!) and finished raking the yard in the afternoon because it was so nice.  Afterwards I put together the first part of the Caramel Frosting and put my Maple Syrup Casserole in the oven.

Monday was also spent mostly outside.  An early trip to the polls to vote (I will not even get into politics, mostly because I don't really know enough and because I could rant forever about the whole thing), a quick trip to the doctor, the pharmacy and then back home started my day.  I finally bought a tote for my Christmas lights and outdoor garland and got that put away.  I grabbed my golf clubs and headed out onto the deck to get them cleaned up for the 2011 golf season!  It was lovely and warm out there and I actually ENJOYED scrubbing my clubs.

And really - I'm a dummy, I should have been at the golf course GOLFING!  Not cleaning!  So I picked up my driver, a ball, and a tee and headed across the street to the park to just hit one ball.  I'm like a junkie.  Just one ball.  Just one.  One and I'll be happy.  *pant*pant*pant*  Duffed my first swing but was very happy with my second swing.  Don't laugh - I haven't swung a golf club in 9 months.  Really.  it's been winter.  Since last AUGUST.

So I walked over to get my ball and thought - oh, I'll just hit one more time, back towards the house.  I had a nice little short drive, and figured I had lots of field to hit one more.  I thought - there's no WAY I'll make it to the street.  No way.  None.  It'll never happen.  Teed up, swung and looked.  Man that ball flew.  Flew all the way to the street and bounced off my neighbor's HOUSE!!!!  Oooops!!!!!!!  Seriously - do you know what the odds are that that would happen?  Like a one in a hundred chance.  Thankfully there were no cars coming and THANKFULLY the ball bounced off the siding and not a window.  So I quickly scurried over to my house, dropped my club in the lawn and nonchalantly walked over to the neighbor's house and grabbed my ball.  Thankfully they weren't home - being a weekday.  Whew. 

After that, I went in a pulled out the King's Crown shells I found last June in Florida.  A few of them were kind of stinky so I soaked them in hot water and dishsoap for a couple of hours.  Apparently, the previous "owners" of these shells left some yuck behind and that's what was making the smell.  Soaked a second time, wooshed in the water and they are now soaking overnight in water and dishsoap.  Hopefully that works.

Then I did the Caramel Frosting and the Apple Spice cupcakes.  You know how that went.  I decided to call Kay and ask her if she'd like cupcakes.  I figured she could take them to work with her.  She's not sharing.  And after a quick visit and scoring some homemade tamales, I came home and had dinner.

Tuesday involved cleaning house (just my regular weekly clean), taking the car in for an oil change, laundry, and getting ready to go back to work. Just regular Tuesday stuff.

I realize that this post has been long and maybe boring to read, but I wanted you to see what a busy week looks like for me.  And now that golfing has moved up to the top of the agenda, cooking will be on the back burner (no pun intended).  If the weather is rainy and crappy I'll have something to do at least.  Posts may be few and far between.

So thank you for your time and I hope you've enjoyed a little glimpse into my life.

This is the Cane Girl - signing off.

Caramel Frosting - A Big Disappointment?

Here again was another recipe that I was unsure of.  I'm not sure how these recipes keep coming up, but they seem to find me.  I'm trying to look at it as an adventure because you never know what's going to work out - no matter how weird the recipe looks.

The caramel frosting is really unusual.  Bring brown sugar and heavy cream to a rolling boil, boil one minute, add baking soda, boil one minute more.  Add butter, do not stir.  Chill completely.  Beat until fluffy.  Eeeee gads.

As for the cupcakes - I really wanted to do a "Snickers" cupcake.  Make the batter for Devil's Food Chocolate Cake recipe, put one frozen mini Snickers into the center of each cupcake and bake.  I thought it would work beautifully together and be a really fun and interesting cupcake.  Sadly.  I live in Canada.  I can't GET mini Snickers.  Trust me - I looked.  In three different grocery stores.  So, I changed things up and decided to make Apple Spice Cupcakes.  Caramel and apple work together very well - I think.

My friend Kay makes her own applesauce, so I stopped in to pick some up.  She didn't have any "just plain" applesauce, so I gratefully accepted the peach applesauce and figured it would be just lovely.  She also gave me apple butter and I decided to substitute the regular butter for the apple butter and see how it goes.  Luckily, I had more than enough "stuff" to make the cupcakes over again if they didn't turn out.

After chilling the original "frosting" recipe overnight, I took it up and started to beat away with my stand mixer.  But because the butter was COLD it was CLUMPY.  Duh.  So I left it alone for a while and did other things until it came to room temperature.  Then I started beating.  And beating.  And beating.  I beat that stuff for almost half an hour.  It actually was quite fluffy and very yummy - but not at all what I would consider a "FROSTING" - it was very runny. 

I swear that when I took the bowl off my stand mixer, the mixer gave me a dirty look.  No really. 

I put the "frosting" in a different bowl and washed up my mixer bowl (I really need to get another one) so that I could start the cupcakes.  I sort of thought it looked more like muffin batter when it was ready to put in the oven, but who cares.  Toothpick clean after 20 minutes in the oven and out they came. 

Back to the "frosting".  In order to get it to frosting consistency, I started to add confectioner's sugar - just a tablespoon at a time, but then I got pissy and just started to dump the sugar in and mix so I have no idea how much sugar I added.  Probably I added a little too much.

To be honest - I don't think I'd make this "frosting" again.  It seemed like A LOT of extra work to get it to what I wanted it to be.

Then I tried it on the spice cupcake.  Oh.  My.  It went absolutely PERFECTLY together.  So I will keep the "frosting" recipe in my cookbook.

And I should not have been worried at all about the subbed in apple butter for regular butter - but I SHOULD have taken the cupcakes out even 1 or 2 minutes earlier, they're a little drier than I would prefer.  But they came out so delightfully that I didn't hardly care.

So - in the end, it all came out totally wonderful.  Told you. 

This is the Cane Girl - signing off.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Breakfast for Dinner - Maple Syrup Casserole

I was having A LOT of hesitation about this recipe.  It has no seasonings of any kind - just milk, eggs, maple syrup, cream cheese, and bread.  I thought that was pretty boring, so I threw in some cinnamon just for kicks and giggles.

I also didn't really want to make a HUGE pan of it for just myself, so I halved the recipe.

Now, my hesitation comes from the recipe itself, and because I didn't quite have half a loaf of french bread, but close - so I used what I had.  I also didn't have a smaller square pan, so I stuffed it into a round corningware dish.

The recipe says to lay out the bread, but a couple of teaspoon sized dollops of cream cheese on each piece of bread, repeat the layer, and then pour the egg mixture (milk, syrup, and eggs) over top of the bread, pouring carefully so that it didn't go over the sides.  That makes no sense to me!  It's liquid - it'll pretty much go where-ever it darn well feels like it.  So, I poured slowly so that the bread would have an opportunity to soak up a little of the mixture.

Refrigerate for 8 hours, or overnight.  I decided to do breakfast for supper - mostly because I have breakfast already taken care of with other groceries and because I had nothing else for supper.  So there.

I love breakfast for supper.  When I was a kid, my Mom would make pancakes and homemade syrup for supper.  It wasn't very often and we never had big breakfasts on the weekend, so maybe this was her way of making up for it?  Who knows.  I've never actually gotten the skinny on why she did breakfast for supper.  Maybe it was because it was just easy.

Anyway, back to the task at hand.

The recipe states to bake at 375 for 45 minutes - I actually ended up cooking it for like 1 hour 15 minutes and it could have even been in there longer.  My casserole dish was just the right size as the casserole puffed up a LOT - so much it even started to lift the lid off the dish!  While I was dishing it up, I wished that I had buttered the dish because the casserole was really stuck to it - it will be very fun to wash.

I'm glad I added the cinnamon, and wish that I had spreadable cream cheese because I would have like to spread it over the bread as opposed to dropping in on.  It tasted pretty good, but I don't think I would make it again - it was very sweet.  Not really something I'd serve for breakfast (plus, I already have a fantastic breakfast casserole recipe!).

Well - it wasn't a complete disaster, but it's definitely not something I'd make again.

This is the Cane Girl - signing off.

Crab Cake Sauce - The Best of the Best

I'm not much for dipping sauces - the truth is, I'm perfectly fine having egg rolls without the plum sauce, chicken fingers without dipping sauce, etc etc.  However, I love to have extra sauce with Butter Chicken for my rice.  I'm wierd that way.

I do think though that if you are having company and serving to a guest, you should have a sauce to bring out the flavour of the dish.  Even if on a normal day I couldn't give two hoots about sauce.

I make AWESOME crab cakes.  They are DEEEELICIOUS!  So with my Dad up for a visit yesterday, I decided that for lunch we would have crab cakes and I would make up a couple of different sauces for him to sample.

I made the sauces the night before serving, just so the flavours would have time to come together.

I started with a garlic aioli.  Pretty straightforward, fresh garlic, fresh lemon juice, mayo, salt and pepper.  Mix.  I actually thought it was not too bad, a little on the runny side, (I like crab cake sauce a little thicker) and a little too much garlic.

Next I made a red pepper sauce.  It was a little more involved, but it was pretty good, but the dijon mustard was really strong - a little less dijon might have been better.

And I made a yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, mayo, and salsa concoction that made a HUGE batch!!!  It actually turned out the best I thought and would be great on sandwiches or with chips as a dip.  The only problem is - now what do I DO with all of it!!!

I've considered getting babyfood jars and sealing them - can you do that with a homemade sauce?  I don't even know where to start!  And - with time constraints it's just not feasible  (okay, okay, the truth is that it's been really nice for the last few days and I REALLY don't want to be cooped up in my house jarring crab cake sauce).

This is the Cane Girl - signing off.