Thursday, December 23, 2010

Best. Coupon. Code. Ever.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Spending Days

Let's just get this out of the way, right off the bat: I don't celebrate Christmas. When I lived in China this was inconceivable to people because they thought of Christmas as the quintessential American holiday. This was particularly evident in this classroom display my students prepared when I worked as a teacher.

I probably should have corrected their research, but quite frankly I knew it would be a losing battle. Because the truth is, for most people, the only religion involved in Christmas is worshiping in the church of consumerism. Usually it makes me roll my eyes and acknowledge the kernels of truth in American stereotypes. This year, however, I really do hope that the miracle of Christmas involves lots and lots of spending.

When you're a happy Christmas celebrant, all of the holiday hype is a jolly countdown to the day you get to stuff your face full of gingerbread to fuel a tornado of wrapping paper mayhem. For the rest of us, it's a countdown to the day when everyone shuts up about Christmas. For me personally, it's also a countdown to the day when going out in public no longer means having to endure the scent of artificial cinnamon. Something about it just makes my stomach churn.

While I normally spend the month of December perpetually muting the television, this holiday season I've found myself actually enjoying a great number of Christmas ads. There are still plenty of crappy eye-rollers out there, but I'm pleased to see a more inventive take on the big spending push.


I pretty much love any video that Pomplamoose puts together, but I particularly love that Hyundai reached out to some deserving YouTube stars and gave them exposure to a more mainstream audience. It's clever and forward-thinking.


I can't say enough times how much I adore Target's series of holiday ads. Not only are they catchy and easily recognizable as a brand, but the campaign branches out to offer free downloads of all the songs in their commercials. Check out their website to listen to the specially-written tunes.

Nintendo Wii

Last, but certainly not least, this is a genius move to sell parents on the idea of buying a Wii for their kids. Seriously, I bow down.

So get on out there and spend some money for the good of America. And please, if you work in retail, consider switching out that potpourri for a more pleasant scent. I suggest freshly baked sugar cookies. Mmmmm.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Waking the dead

As a lifetime insomniac (a fact I'm sure I've mentioned here on more than one occasion) I've tried just about everything to coax myself to sleep. When I was a teenager, what seemed to soothe my mind was memorizing poetry. Reading aloud, the repetition of lines was my version of counting sheep.

Now that I have a sound machine to calm my overactive neurons, my volumes of verse tend to be ignored more than they should be. I don't know if it's the gray day or the fact that I'm nursing a cold, but today I found comfort in one of my favorites.


It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
life to the lees. All times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
that loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vexed the dim sea. I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known---cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honored of them all---
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades
Forever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end.
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
This is my son, my own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the scepter and the isle---
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill
This labor, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and through soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centered in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought with me---
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads---you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be that we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are---
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

(Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Of mice and men

I had a wonderful plan worked out to keep me writing on this wonderful blog. I also made a promise to myself that I would only use this space to talk about uplifting things (with exception for the occasional amusing rant) because I don't want to unleash my negative thoughts on you. Over the past few months, these two intentions have unfortunately conflicted and I have erred on the side of silence.

There are plenty of inspiring stories out there about the American can-do spirit and how people are banding together to take care of each other in tough times. I'm sure these people exist (and I'm glad they do), but I think I can safely say that they are few and far between. I don't want to dwell on the specifics of my troubles, but suffice it to say that I am in the same boat as many other well-educated, hard-working creative people who are playing the waiting game with this economy.

I truly believe to the core of my being that writers, artists, performers and all other miscellaneous dreamers are vital to the continued development of humankind. Are scientists important? Absolutely. How about mechanics? You betcha. Engineers? Of course. But none of them would exist without us creative types. Without creatives there would be no artificial limbs, no hybrid cars, no wacky Japanese robots. I may not be able to cure or fix or build, but I am able to imagine incredible things.

And I think that's pretty uplifting.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I was browsing around on the L'oreal website trying to get makeup ideas for a wedding I'm attending on Sunday. On their main page was an ad for a contest through Polyvore, a site where you can assemble collections of items you love and share them with others. It only took about two minutes of browsing for me to fall in love with the site!

As someone who is slightly visually compulsive and a lover of fashion, color, photography, and most importantly lists (seriously, I love lists) it's basically a dream come true. Plus, as an added bonus, the mere act of collecting and assembling items really quiets and calms my OCD.

I'm not sure how one goes about winning this contest, but I can't get enough of Polyvore!

Monday, September 20, 2010

An Autumn Affirmation

Admiring the light
on the trees
in the early evening
a passing breeze caressed my cheek.

As I looked up to face the
cool embrace
one yellow leaf rode the wind
to fall at my fingers
along the splintered wooden rail.

In that brief moment I felt
connected to everything.

I felt an energy radiating
through my feet
into the soil
to signal the changing season.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lazy Sunday Muffins

Don't panic, I'm still alive! This past month I've been busy preparing for and then enjoying my sister's wedding, with very little time for extra-curricular activities (like blogging). Now that my time is mine again, I've resolved to post at least once a week. I need to flex my creative muscles if I'm ever going to find a writing job!

The happy couple!
 Today is quite a gloomy contrast to the beautiful weather we had yesterday, so I thought I would warm things up with a batch of muffins. Rather than turn to my tried-and-true recipe collection I set out to find something a little different. Per usual, the options I found online were good but not great. So I took a cappuccino muffin recipe and tweaked it to trim the calories and up the deliciousness. What I ended up with were muffins that taste decadent but are actually very healthy!

Instead of plain instant coffee, I used hazelnut for a "gourmet" flavor.
I was a little skeptical at first when I saw olive oil on the ingredient list, but once I tasted the final product I was sold! It keeps the muffins seriously moist and gives them almost a silky texture inside. As for the coffee and chocolate, you can use whatever you have on hand. I like using flavored instant coffee for an added punch, and I pretty much only use dark chocolate because I find milk chocolate to be uncomfortably sweet. Feel free to experiment with your own variations and let me know how they turn out!

How could I say no to Ikea food?!

2 cups flour
3/4 cup Splenda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
cinnamon & nutmeg to taste (1-2 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup skim milk
2 Tb instant coffee granules (3 single serving pouches)
1/4 cup + 2 Tb olive oil
2 egg whites (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
8 squares crushed dark chocolate (about 30g)

* Mix together flour, Splenda, baking powder, spices, and salt in large bowl and set aside.
* In a small bowl, whisk together milk and instant coffee until it is dissolved.
* Add oil, egg whites, and vanilla and whisk until combined.
* Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just moistened.
* Gently stir in chocolate pieces. Do not over-mix or the muffins will dry out!

Bake in greased muffin pan or paper cups at 375 for about 16 min or until muffins pass the toothpick test. Makes one dozen muffins.

Nom nom nom

Tip: If you can't eat all the muffins immediately, they can be frozen and saved for later. Just pop a frozen muffin in the microwave for about 30 seconds and it will be ready to enjoy!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Now that's a catchy tune!

Well, sort of. Catchy in that, dear lord I can't get it out of my head (get it out of my head!) kind of way. Infomercials (which I love dearly) are often guilty of ridiculous soundtracks, but this list includes some more mainstream products as well. It seems that this economic downturn has finally reached the product jingle department; either that, or they've evolved into a deadly combination of cocky and lazy. Either way, recent ads have left me wishing and hoping that Barry Manilow gets back to his roots and starts composing songs for ads again. And I can safely say that's the first time I've ever had a wish that included Barry Manilow.

Scene: Windowless basement board room with an old piano in the corner. A bunch of guys are sitting around the table staring off into space. At least one of them has a large coffee stain on the front of his shirt and/or pants.
Dude #1: "What's the product again?"
Dude #2: "It's a pillow."
Dude #3: "No, it's a pet."
Dude #2: "Well, it's sort of a pillow-pet."
Dude #1: "I smell a jingle!"

Forget about the fact that the ad uses such awful characters (the sweet but helpless husband/boyfriend & the wife/girlfriend who is apparently too dumb to be trusted with simple tasks like purchasing toilet paper). Ignore the (possibly Charmin-induced) 3 Bears storyline. Focus instead on the way they turned their tagline into the fine print from a car commercial by cramming 10 syllables into 4 seconds. If time is money, they're really pinching pennies with this one.

When your whole commercial is a jingle, you need some serious focus during the composition process. Unfortunately for Huggies, it would seem their music team received this assignment on brownie day in the office cafeteria and subsequently spent most of the afternoon eating Cheetos and giggling. Although, if the Man-ilow were to cover it...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Get Chocomized

If you follow me anywhere else on the Internet (hello and thanks!) you've probably seen me yammering on this week about a chocolate contest.  Unlike running for office, a chocolate contest comes with zero responsibility and maximum enjoyability.  And, thanks to your help, I'm a winner!

This particular contest was run by the fine folks over at Chocomize, a website that lets you build a chocolate bar to suit your every taste whim.  You start by choosing either dark, milk, or white chocolate as your base and then add up to five additional ingredients.  Like candy in your candy?  Cram it full of gummi bears, nerds, or even jelly beans.  Fancy yourself a gourmand?  Sprinkle your chocolate with lavender or sea salt.  There are over 100 filler options, including the more traditional nuts and fruits.

If you can't decide what to include they have a Favorites page with pre-built bars ready to shove in your face.  Part of my prize is a featured spot on this page for my chocolate creation "Fresh Face Forward."

This is a dark chocolate bar with blueberries, gogi berries, organic flax seeds, roasted sunflower seeds, and cantaloupe pieces.  I assembled these ingredients (and the name) because they are all packed with the antioxidants and Vitamins A & E necessary to give your skin a healthy glow.  They are also all packed with deliciousness.  I'll be receiving a free bar for the win, and if you happen to be around on the day it arrives I'll be happy to share.  I don't anticipate it surviving long once in my hands though, so if you're keen on trying it I suggest you order one for yourself.  At $6.95 I think it's a pretty affordable indulgence.

If you prefer your candy involves more sugar, I still would recommend you give the site a try and design your own bar.  The company is run by a few college friends who made the most of this crappy economy by being inventive and industrious.  Still jobless after graduating from grad school last summer (come on ad industry, give me a call), I really identify with their plight and admire their determination.

In fact, Chocomize guys, if you're reading this and are looking to hire a writer/advertiser/chocolate fan/hilarious lady you should drop me a line.  I dig what you do.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Muffins and Cookies and Cakes (Oh My!)

As many of you already know, my sister's bridal shower was last weekend.  In preparation for the party, I spent all day last Friday pretty much chained to my oven making various sweets.  Well, almost all day.  I spent some time in the morning at the gym creating a negative calorie bank for me to fill later with sugar cookies.  It was a very delicious decision.

First up I made strawberry cupcakes topped with Sunkist fruit gems that I sliced into the shape of little flowers and leaves.  I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, but just imagine these tasty bites:

Covered in a classic white icing and decorated with sugary goodness:

Next on the agenda was trying out my brand new purchase of customizable cookie cutters.  I bought the set for $19.99 at Williams Sonoma and it was worth every penny.  You slide in the letters like a stamp and then, presto!  Your cookies are imprinted with a message.

The main ingredient in any good sugar cookie is butter.  Lots and lots of butter.  These cookies have so much butter in them that you have to refrigerate them after cutting out the dough and before baking just so they don't melt before they cook.  I'm a big fan of healthy desserts, but sometimes you just need butter in your life.  It's a beautiful thing.

Lastly I made some graham muffins and cream cheese icing for the bachelorettes.  This is absolutely my new favorite snack food.  If you just eat it as a muffin it's quite healthy, and if you're not worried about such things then go for the icing as well (it is also full of heavenly butter).


16 crushed graham crackers (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup skim milk
1 egg (beaten)
2 Tb. honey

Mix them all together and bake at 400 for 15-18 minutes.  It's that easy.  I don't really measure spices, so just add them to taste.  If you're into cloves (personally I'm not) a dash may also go well with this blend.  The batter looks pretty gross, but the end result is beyond tasty.  For a cream cheese icing recipe, see my previous post on carrot cake!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My verbal doppelganger

Found a fun website that analyzes a selection of your writing and then tells you what author best fits your style.  I'm pretty chuffed.

I write like
Stephen King
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Man and His Fan: A Self-Fulfilling Parody

Let's be clear about one thing: I love James Dyson.  I love him the same way I love researchers who spend twenty years living in the jungle watching one gibbon family eat bugs and breed.  There is something fascinating about such single-minded dedication.  Especially when that dedication produces something that's useful, but not so useful that we couldn't live without it.  Would I like for my vacuum to be more efficient?  Sure.  Would I spend decades designing prototypes in order to maximize the amount of dirt my vacuum grabs on to?  Well, no.  If it were up to me, I'd just stick to picking up stray hairballs and throwing them in the path of the vacuum.  That's my version of efficiency in cleaning.

While Dyson's passionate pursuit of suction perfection eventually resulted in a pretty kick-ass vacuum, the inevitable side effect has been quite a few jokes at his expense.  I mean, the man is basically a poster child for parody.

And just when I thought Dyson's delicious insanity had finally reached its peak, he unveiled this gem:

This is the Dyson Air Multiplier, or in layman's terms the bladeless fan.  While I'm sure the "buffeting" sound of a fan is very annoying to some people, I actually find it rather soothing.  That aside, I'm pretty sure the billions of dollars in research spent on this project could have done massive amounts of good spent elsewhere.  Like, for example, the AIDS vaccine or clean-burning fuel.  But then again, if he were a "big picture" kind of guy I probably wouldn't love him nearly as much.

After seeing the ad on tv, I'm pretty sure a slew of parodies will soon follow.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Old Spice, New Laughs

I was worried nothing could top "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like," the first ad in the most recent Old Spice campaign.  In addition to catapulting the handsome and deliciously deadpan Isaiah Mustafa into sudden stardom, the ad actually made me consider reconsidering my stance on the brand's sex appeal.  Previously having been mentally categorized to be as desirable as a drunk and aging boat captain, I was forced to see Old Spice in a new light.  This light:

After laughing hysterically (and perhaps drooling ever-so-slightly), I began to wonder how they could possibly follow that ad with something equally entertaining.  As it turns out, the secret to their continued success is Isaiah Mustafa.  Old Spice, I implore you to ditch the disturbingly twitchy Odor Blocker and embrace the man your brand could look like.

Friday, June 18, 2010

It's Good to Be Bad

I know it's been a little while since I've posted, but I've been rather busy with my internship (and loving every minute!)  I'm not quite energized enough for a mega-post, but I thought I'd stop by and share some of my favorite spots airing right now.  From silly to delusional to deadpan, these ads make me chuckle and, ultimately, that's what makes them memorable.  So next time a corny idea lands on your desk, don't write it off immediately.  Unless it involves a pun.  I draw the line at puns.


Do I want to eat stuff when I get old?  Definitely.  Do I want to do it with my own teeth?  Well, now that you mention it, yes.  While this ad may be a bit silly, the young man with that nice smile makes an excellent point.


If you're into extreme sports, like cycling and basketball and standing on a breezy balcony, then you'll love these matresses.  Sleepy's perhaps takes a bit too much credit for your future success in all things awesome, but maybe I'm underestimating just how comfortable their beds are.

Sony PSP

Honestly, I love all of the Kevin Butler commercials.  I love that he's so nonchalant.  I love that he has a sort of idiot savant persona.  And in this ad, I love that he promises bagels that he never intended to personally purchase.


Why is this man asking a series of useless questions?  Because he can, that's why.  I'm such a sucker for deadpan presentation.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Your Novel

I'm not at this point yet.  But I'm pretty sure that's only because I haven't actually started writing...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Social Networking (now with s'mores!)

Coleman camping supplies is running a very charming series of ads where they declare themselves to be the "original social networking site."  It's a refreshing look at how people come together in the real world, augmented in the digital world by the company's presence on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Having lived abroad for quite some time, I'm immensely grateful for the ability of online social networking sites to keep me connected with my friends back home.  That being said, I think that using these sites from time to time for inviting friends to a live-action get-together is a fantastic idea.  So, keep an eye out my lovelies.  I see a Facebook invite in your future.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Your Nerd Friends...

For more hilarity, check out Brevity at

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Unlikely Celebrity Endorsements

Advertising often utilizes the celebrity voice to push products, and for good reason.  These are easily recognizable figures who are larger than life.  People who could eat anywhere in the world, but they choose McDonald's.  People who could wear anything, but they choose to shop at Brooks Brothers.

Sometimes these endorsements make sense (like getting the cast of "Mad Men" to hock the new suit line of the same name), but lately I've noticed more and more celebrity ads that just don't seem to make any sense.  They're not wrong, per se, just a bit non sequitur.  I think lean economic times are affecting Hollywood too.

I'm sure by now you've seen this series of ads with Luke Wilson, the content of which I'm not even going to begin to debate here (the whole Verizon vs. AT&T thing just makes my blood boil).  I've been searching the depths of my brain trying to figure out what Luke Wilson has to do with cell phones, and I keep coming up empty.  I guess he's sort of awkwardly personable, but there's no real connection other than his celebrity status.

When you think of Wyclef Jean, what comes to mind?  His music?  His roots?  His commitment to charity work?  Nope.  Flaky, buttery crackers and a marching band.  While I understand that there is a vague musical connection to the commercial, I don't see the connection to the product.

This last one is particularly perplexing to me.  Throughout the run of Sex and the City, the only thing that was more constant than the girls' brunch dates was SJP's use of Mac computers.  From the very start, Carrie typed up her snappy relationship quips from behind an Apple.  Whenever Mac came out with a new model, Carrie started using it.  So, when I saw Sarah Jessica Parker in a computer commercial, I instantly assumed it was for the iPad.  When the HP logo came up at the end, I was flabergasted.  Also, I was still thinking about the iPad.  Not exactly the greatest brand development.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Diet Diaries: #4 (Strawberry Pretzel Pie)

If you haven't noticed already, my main diet obsession has become finding ways to eat dessert without feeling guilty.  I don't eat it all that often, but when I meet up with Ryan and Laura for Survivor night we have a cooking system.  Laura makes a fabulous dinner and I make a fabulous dessert.  It's a good system, made even better by the fact that we are both happy to taste each other's experimental creations.  Lately, my experiments have all been in the realm of healthy sweets.  For the most part these creations have turned out well, with the exception of a soy-cappuccino "custard" that came out more like coffee jello.  They were thankfully forgiving and we all had a good laugh.

To make up for the custard disaster, this past Thursday I spent all day whipping up a culinary masterpiece.  In all fairness, the recipe doesn't actually take all day, but my close friends know all too well that I am the slowest chef on the planet.  This is mostly due to my inability to multi-task in the kitchen, not because I lack the ability to multi-task, but more because I am a hopeless clutz who is terrified of injuring herself (again).  But that's a story for another day.

I found a recipe on Recipezaar (my favorite cooking community) for something called "Makeover Strawberry Pretzel Dessert."  After reading over the ingredients I knew not only that it would be delicious, but also that I could probably trim it down even more.  I swapped out all the sugar for Splenda, including the frozen sweetened strawberries.  I just bought unsweetened ones and tossed them with a little extra Splenda after they thawed.  The end result, I'm pleased to say, looked exactly like the photo in the recipe and was phenomenal.

Full credit to Audrey M for the recipe, but here is my slightly altered version:


For crust:

2 cups crushed pretzels (I used Utz's extra thin)
3/4 cup light margarine, melted
3 Tb Splenda

For filling:

8 oz fat-free cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup Splenda
8 oz Cool Whip Free, thawed

For topping:

20 oz unsweeted canned crushed pineapple
2 small boxes sugar-free strawberry Jello
20 oz unsweetened frozen sliced strawberries, thawed
pinch of Splenda

You can follow Audrey's recipe instructions exactly, just swapping in my ingredient list, and it comes out slimmer and just as tasty!  Full instructions can be found here:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

You're standing on my neck

What have I been doing since Tuesday afternoon?  This:

Huzzah!  Not to sound like a super nerd, but I've been waiting for this for years.  All five seasons, the two movies, and a slew of bonus features.

The only thing missing is most of the original music clips used in the show, which is a major bummer, but I understand why they did it.  They had to let it go because of copyright issues; in fact, trying to include all of the music was the main reason the release of the series has been delayed for so many years.  While it would have been a nostalgic romp through 90's radio hits, I would much rather have the series sans music than no series at all.

La la la la la....La la la la la...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Advertising Twilight Zone

Now in month 10 of unemployment, I have taken up a new pastime: commercial heckling.  I often find myself screaming at television ads, or more specifically, screaming at the creative teams behind the ads.  "What the hell were you thinking?" is the most common jeer, but in a close second is the ever-popular, "I could do better than these jerks!"

 While I stand behind my criticism (and the firm belief that I could write circles around plenty of the mysteriously employed copywriters out there), there is a special segment of the commercial population that exists in a realm beyond my imaginative abilities.  It is what I like to call the Advertising Twilight Zone.  I can see the brand identity in these ads, but I can't even begin to explain how these ideas came to be.  I'm not even sure I understand them, but they are mesmerizing nonetheless.

The nemesis of new Cheetos Mighty Zingers?  REO Speedwagon.  Naturally.  Who hasn't sat up late into the night pondering this universal truth?

Ohhhhhhh, so that's what Old Spice Odor Blocker does.  I thought it was science or something, but obviously I was wrong.  Good thing that's all cleared up.

I can't decide if this is stupid or brilliant.  I'm leaning towards brilliant, but only because I wish I had been in the meeting where that space cadet copywriter suggested "unnoticed shark attack" as an option for selling Nicorette.  Either that, or I wish my brain worked in such a way where I would think to suggest it myself.  I hope it's the former.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Diet Diaries: #3 (A baking miracle!)

Over the years, the Internet has brought me countless hours of wonder and delight.  Starting with the family's first dial-up connection to Prodigy (technically more of an intranet, but I'm not here to split hairs) I have been glued to that magic portal.  After all this time together, today I experienced my first Internet-related religious experience.  It was a baking miracle.

Behold, the 100-calorie cupcake:

Oh.  My.  God.  The only problem you will have is figuring out how to stop yourself from cramming the whole batch in your mouth at once (which, at 2,400 calories, still wouldn't be the most decadent dessert in the world).  These cupcakes, inspired by a post over at Omnomicon, are dangerously simple to assemble.  You will need four ingredients:

 One box of cake mix.  I chose Devil's Food, because it's decadent.

One 12oz. bottle of diet soda.  My pick was Jones Diet Black Cherry.  Yum!

One container of Fat Free Cool Whip (thawed) and one box of Sugar Free/ Fat Free pudding mix.  My choice was Cheesecake flavor, for the obvious reason of deliciousness.

Stir together the cake mix and the soda in a large bowl.  You will need to whisk the batter fairly vigorously to ensure all of the dry mix gets incorporated.  Follow the baking instructions on the box, adding about 5 more minutes to the baking time, until a toothpick comes out clean.  You can make cupcakes, bundt cake, whatever your little heart desires.  I went with cupcakes because it forces a bit of portion control on my dessert-greedy self.

While these little beauties are baking, whisk together the Cool Whip and the pudding mix.  It will be a little thick, so you will probably need an icing spatula to spread it on the cupcakes.  Also, since it's made primarily from Cool Whip, I would recommend storing excess icing in the fridge.  When you're finished, they will look a little something like this:

And there you have it.  100 calorie cherry-chocolate cupcakes with cheesecake icing.  It's not the richest dessert in the world, but if you're on a diet it's a culinary orgasm.

Children and Animals

It's been suggested that a well-placed dose of adorable goes a long way in helping to sell a product.  Take, for example, Oscar Mayer hot dogs.  Get a kid with a few missing teeth to smile and exclaim that they wish they were a weiner and it's advertising gold.  Get a guy in a grubby sweatshirt with a few tattoos and it's a public service announcement.  Statistically, children and animals are basically irresistible to the average consumer.

However, I think I've found the exception to that rule.

At first glance, he may seem like your run-of-the-mill cutie pie.  He has great taste in clothes, is polite to the neighbors, and knows when to flash that winning smile.  For all intents and purposes, he is a perfect example of the innocence of childhood.  Now, fast forward 15 years.

I knew there was something fishy about that kid.  He just wore that adorable costume to throw you off while he was casing your home.  He'll wait patiently until you drive away in your Subaru Legacy and  :::bam:::  kick in your back door.  I'd keep an eye on that one if I were you.  Next thing you know, he'll be showing up to your dinner parties and catching you off guard with his winning charm (and door-kicking-in abilities).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Photo Limbo

I may be the only person on this planet who still does not own a smartphone.  Shocking as this may be (especially considering my penchant for online media), it's simply the unfortunate reality of unemployment.  Therefore, despite all my wishful thinking, my phone is just a phone.  I make calls, I send texts, and from time to time I use it to snap a photo.  The problem with this is that, without any web enabling, the images remain trapped in limbo.

When I first got this phone as part of a Verizon upgrade back in August, I searched it high and low for any sign of a camera card.  There were no buttons, no slots, and no information about image storage in the little instruction booklet that was included with the phone.  In fact, the instruction book is quite literally tiny, supposedly part of "green" efforts from Motorola.  This didn't stop me from taking pictures, but it did stop me from showing them to anyone else.

Yesterday, after seeing a pretty hilarious inflatable gorilla in a shopping center, I decided to take some drastic measures in an attempt to share the fun.  I completely took apart my phone, and hidden under the battery was a card slot!  After poaching the camera card from my old phone, transferring the images, and borrowing a card adapter from my dad, the images have now been freed from limbo and I am left with only one question:

How many pints of blood do I need to sell before I have enough money for an iPhone?

 Some snow art following Snowmaggedon.

A moment of hope outside the post office.

My neighbor's Bradford Pear tree (looks nice, smells fishy)

Mmmmm, vodka tonic.

Rat treats at PetCo.  French rat treats.


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