Talking Shop

So I have some really wild news.

I bought two cardigans tonight at Old Navy.

The catch?

This is probably the third time in as many years that I’ve gone to a regular retail establishment and paid full price for something. I can’t help it, I’m a fanatical bargain shopper. No matter where I go the killer deals seem to find me. My lapse in consistency tonight resulted from pure desperation. Arizonans have a very limited window to buy anything other than shorts and bathing suits, and I’ve been on a hunt for cardigans for-ev-er. I saw them and pounced. And then became inspired to write this post.

I don’t know when this affliction first set in, and by affliction I’m referencing the inability to pay full price for anything. It’s mostly a good thing, although anything can become problematic if left to its own devices (example: it’s never okay to blow off your budget, regardless of how drastically things are discounted – not that I’ve ever done this…).

This method of shopping hasn’t left me without an abundance of nice things (at least I think I have nice things). I’ve purchased plenty of items that were once absurdly priced for a mere fraction of the original cost. It’s taken years to fine tune the best places, times of year and methods for this type of shopping and my adventures have taken me to all kinds of strange lands. I’ve visited Warehouse denim sales in junior high school cafeterias, perused countless ebay listings, explored haunted estate sales and wandered through Last Chance amid psychotic mobs. Speaking of Last Chance (which I can’t link to because Nordstrom refuses to acknowledge its ugly stepchild), this is most certainly a place to check out if you have a lot of patience, endurance and no qualms about group fitting rooms. You have to maintain low expectations, and you can’t look for anything too specific, but when you do find something great you’ll likely get it for $6.

Moral of the story? If you cut corners on non-essentials, it’s not only an entertaining experience, it allows for wild spending when absolutely necessary, like an appendectomy or pest control.

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Cleanliness is next to…

…Happiness?

I can’t believe how intrinsically happy cleaning and organizing our kitchen makes me.

Go ahead, make fun. I’m jump-up-and-down-giddy.

Would you believe this process involved power tools?

And happened at 1 a.m.?

Because it did…

If we’d taken a “before” picture you’d be waaayyy more impressed by the end results.

Lessons we Learned from Appendicitis

This isn’t exactly fun to write about, but it shouldn’t go by unrecorded.

Just over three weeks ago I came home from class and found Jim curled up in a ball with stomach pains and a fever. I was immediately alarmed, but had no idea if this was a flu or food poisoning or something worse. I followed my first instinct and called my mom, because moms always know what to do. I’m also fortunate to have a friend whose husband is in a doctor that we were also able to consult. It took two conversations and about 10 minutes to determine that we were off to the hospital.

An unpleasant experience at best, it did make for some interesting observations and a few valuable lessons:

1. When you see someone writhing in pain with an incredibly high fever, you should definitely trust your instincts and take him to the ER.
2. Appendicitis isn’t always localized pain in the right side of your abdomen, it can hurt all over.
3. It’s always good to know where the closest hospital is to your home. By some stroke of luck I had looked this up a week before Jim got sick.
4. ERs are super creepy at night. Even when you’re not the sick one.
5. It’s not convenient to forget your health insurance card when you need surgery; fortunately the staff at St. Joe’s is very understanding.
6. A supreme level of irony can be attained by watching an episode of Scrubs while sitting in a hospital room.
7. There is nothing worse than watching someone you love suffer. Nothing. (Mom, Dad – I finally get how it was when I got sick as a kid).
8. As upset as I was sitting with Jim in the hospital, I was well aware that we were in a far more pleasant situation than the majority of other people there.
9. We’re grateful to have health insurance, and good insurance at that, but how is it that we owe over $3,000 for this?
10. I am not functional or pretty at 3:30 a.m.
11. Support and care from our friends and family meant to world to us.
12. Support and care can come from unexpected old friends (or rabbi’s).
13. It’s far more convenient to get appendicitis when you’re home, and not traveling in a remote area. We’re pretty lucky this didn’t happen in Belize last summer.
14. Boys, like puppies, are resilient. No matter what you throw at them, they always seem to bounce back with enthusiasm.

Phoenix VNSA Book Sale

I’ve  heard rave reviews of this sale, but always seemed to have a conflict with the dates; it’s held one weekend each year close to Valentine’s Day. This year I made it a priority to get to the sale with my mom.

I come from a family of big readers, and have attended my fair share of used book sales, but this one is in a class by itself.

I took the two photos below at the same time, one looking right, one looking left, to try to capture the magnitude of this event, but you really have to see for yourself to understand how huge it is.

We spent about an hour here, and probably could have been there all day had we brought luggage to schlep around everything we were finding.

Mom got a bunch of paperbacks and I found 12 books – mostly newish and many hardcover.

This event is free to enter, minus 10 bucks for parking, but all proceeds go to charity.

Did I mention that we got 17 books for $23?

Zucchini Butterscotch Cookies

“Are you putting vegetables in those cookies?”

My inquisitive boyfriend seemed alarmed that I’d waste to coveted butterscotch chips on anything so strange.

These butterscotch chips prompted an entertaining conversation at the grocery store a few weeks ago.

Me: Seriously. What are we ever going to use them for. It’s a waste.
Jim: They look delicious. We need to get them
…etc…

Tonight I decided it was time to put them to use, and when I googled “butterscotch cookies” this was the third recipe listed on www.cooks.com. I consider it to be quasi-healthy, in that it included zucchini, AND would give me an excuse to use my new food processor (Valentine’s gift).

I admit, these little guys aren’t pretty, but they’re delicious. Like a lighter version of pumpkin bread. I can’t believe it but you can’t taste the zucchini at all.

Here’s the recipe:

1 1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. soft butter
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 eggs
1/4 c. milk, omit if using frozen zucchini
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. shredded zucchini
1 c. butterscotch chips

It called for adding raisins and nuts, but I believe both those elements ruin cookies, so they have been omitted.

Method:

Cream sugar and butter; add eggs, milk; beat well. Mix and add dry ingredients. Stir in rest of ingredients. Drop by spoonfuls on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for about 10-12 minutes.

Broccoli

Oh broccoli. As a child I couldn’t stand you, but somehow as an adult I’ve grown quite fond of you, you spastic looking vegetable. I prefer you cooked over raw, but hand me some ranch and I’ll chow down on raw broccoli like it’s my job.

Go figure it was on sale at Fry’s this week so I stocked up – and now I’m challenged to find new ways to cook it.

Tonight I took a recipe I usually use for green beans and adapted it for broccoli.

• Cooked broccoli florets
• One clove of minced garlic
• One dill pickle, diced into tiny pieces (trust me)
• Drizzling of soy sauce
• Olive oil

Saute the garlic and pickle in the olive oil until soft, add broccoli and soy sauce. Cook on low for five minutes.

Probably an absurdly high sodium count, but tasty nonetheless.

Ever wonder what you’d find if you googled broccoli? Let me share the wealth.

Fun Facts About Broccoli

(courtesy of Groovy Vegetarian and Food Reference)

1. Broccoli consumption has increased over 940 percent over the last 25 years.
2. The name “broccoli” comes for the Latin word brachium, which means “branch,” or “arm.”
3. Broccoli was first grown in the Italian province of Calabria and was given the name Calabrese.
4. Broccoli is a part of the cabbage family.
5. Broccoli comes in a variety of colors, ranging from deep sage all the way to dark green and purplish-green.
6. A compound found in broccoli appears to have more effect than modern antibiotics against the creation of peptic ulcer causing bacteria.