You are currently browsing the Breaching The Web blog archives for December, 2007.

Things I Recommend

December 29th, 2007

Here are a few things I recommend (post-Christmas edition):

1. Using tissue paper instead of gift wrap. Easier to store, fewer dyes, more flexible.

2. The Edge brownie pan. I first learned about this pan from not martha (who used it to bake brownies and lasagna). I was instantly taken with it. My lovely sister-in-law gave it to me as a Christmas gift, and I have already used it. I have never used a premium brownie pan before — I’ve always used the thin ones you buy from the grocery store. So my comparison might be off. However, the brownies I made in this pan (from a mix, no less) are the best brownies I have ever tasted. EVER. They were evenly and perfectly cooked. I’m looking forward to using it for lasagna soon.

3. The Italian Job. The original, starring Michael Caine and co-starring Noel Coward. Young Michael Caine could have read the phone book, and I would watch it with rapt attention. But what I really love about this movie is Noel Coward’s performance of Mr. Bridger and the Quincy Jones soundtrack (especially “The Self Preservation Society”. The car chases are fun too! I also like the remake, starring Marky Mark. As a caper flick, the remake is probably the better of the two, but the original is my favorite. My adorable husband gave me copies of both movies as a Christmas gift.

4. KitchenAid Gourmet Essentials Brushed Stainless Steel uncoated pots and pans. Since replacing our old coil electric range with an induction glass-topped range back in September, I’ve become increasingly unsatisfied with my old Revere pots and pans. I’ve learned that older pots and pans were made with a slightly curved bottom, to ensure good contact with range coils. But on an induction cook-top, these pans will rock back and forth, in a somewhat terrifying way. It’s not too much to imagine them walking right off the edge onto the floor! So I needed new cookware. I checked Consumer Reports, and they rated these KitchenAid pots and pans number 1 in uncoated cookware, above Emerilware, All-Clad, Calphalon, Revere and others. They are also much less expensive. The KitchenAid cookware has a nice weight to it — not flimsy, but not hefty either — and they sit nice and flat on my new range. These pots & pans came as a gift from my parents, and I love them.

Oh here I come a meme-ing, among the leaves so green!

December 20th, 2007

Swiped from Medley. If she can be lazy, I can be lazy.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

Colored tissue paper, gift bags, and cloth drawstring bags. I decided a few years ago that I was tired of storing gift wrap. It’s much nicer and easier to store tissue paper, which can be multi-tasked for many different occasions and used very creatively. I’m slowly building up my supply of handmade cloth bags, which is what I’d like to ultimately rely on, but I’m only making one or two a year. No ribbons, because one of my cats will eat any ribbon-like thing she finds.

2. Real or Artificial tree?

Real.

3. When do you put up the tree?

3 weeks before Christmas. I would prefer 4, Mr. Katxena would prefer 2, so we compromise with 3.

4. When do you take the tree down?

New Year’s Day.

5. Do you like eggnog?

Sorta.

6. Favorite Gift you received as a child?

A bright orange portable record player that had it’s own case that snapped shut. And the Village People record that came with it. I still have the record, but sadly not the player.

7. Do you have a nativity scene?

No. I dislike storing things like that — I don’t like holiday linens either. I’ll store tree decorations, wrapping supplies, a limited number of handmade non-tree decorations, and unused Christmas cards, but nothing else.

8. Hardest person to buy for?

My husband. He’s picky.

9. Easiest person to buy for?

My mom. She and I share a lot of interests and hobbies.

10. Worst Christmas gift ever received.

I don’t have any specific memories of worst gifts. One year, my Dad decided to thwart our attempts to guess what our gifts were ahead of time by switching the name tags on everyone’s gifts. Only, he forgot to switch them back. I was very confused by the match box cars, fishing pole, and sports books that Santa brought me. My brother was equally confused by the jewelry box, Trixie Beldon books, and pink sweater he got.

11. Christmas Cards?

About 6 years ago, we sent them, but haven’t since then. Every year I think that I’d like to, but then I get bogged down in the details: handmade or store-bought? handwritten notes or Christmas letter or both? generic holiday or Christmas? who to send to? At that point I usually give up in despair.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?

A Christmas Story, of course.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?

October. Although if I am making gifts, I start those earlier. Usually.

14. Have you ever “recycled” a Christmas present?

Yes, and I feel no shame about it. If it’s nice and someone else might like it, why not? Why should it end up in the trash?

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?

My Grandma’s sweet and sour carrots.

16. Clear lights or colored or both on the tree?

Colored. And no twinkling.

17. Favorite Christmas Song?

There can’t be just one. Christmas in Jail, by The Youngsters. Any Christmas song sung by Elvis. Among traditional carols, The First Noel.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?

It varies a lot. Every year is different.

19. Can you name Santa’s Reindeer?

Yes.

20. Do you have an Angel or a Star on top of your tree?

Neither. We have a Santa.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning?

Christmas morning. Although since Mr. Katxena’s family opens Christmas Eve, we sometimes do that. But I prefer morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?

That the Christmas season has gone on so long.

23. Favorite Christmas tradition?

I have two. First, making (and eating) the “Christmas Omelet” — a cheese strata that my mom makes for breakfast on Christmas morning. My sister-in-law and I make it now too. I always serve it with fruit and sparkling apple juice. Second, the annual “pink champagne monopoly challenge and kung-fu movie marathon” that my husband and I share every year. Sometimes it’s Christmas Eve, sometimes it’s New Year’s Eve. I *so* married the right man.

24. Family member you always try to stay away from during the holidays?

I’ll steal Medley’s answer: “Oh, there’s more than one.”

25. Do you attend any actual religious services in celebration?

Yes.

Fear

December 13th, 2007

So I have this piece of linen. It’s not the kind of linen you wear, or the kind of linen you dry dishes with. It’s even-weave linen, designed for needlework. I bought it off a sale table at a needlework store a few months ago, thinking I’d use it for a top-secret embroidery project that can’t be mentioned here. However, it’s too small for that project.

So now I have a piece of linen with no purpose.

It’s about 25 inches square, and it’s a pretty, natural-looking peachy color. What I’d like to do it tape it to my table and freehand a geometric doodle on it with a pencil, then embroider that and make a pillow for my couch out of it. But it’s such a pretty piece of linen, I’m afraid. I’m afraid my doodle will look silly or that my embroidery will be wonky or that I’ll mess up the pillow. Worry, worry, worry. All these fears are keeping me from taking my pencil and moving forward with this project. This is unfortunately common with me — I end up not starting something because I’m afraid I will mess it up.

Terrible

December 10th, 2007

I *love* chocolate. I firmly believe that any dessert that does not contain chocolate is a waste of time (not to mention calories). But I am not even tempted to try Mo’s Bacon Bar, made of applewood smoked bacon and milk chocolate. Those are two great tastes that I can’t imagine tasting great together.

Gifty

December 7th, 2007

Although I love love love my iPod, I rarely use the iTunes music store. Mostly, I don’t like that I can’t choose the bit rate my songs are encoded at (I would pay more for higher quality), but I also don’t like the iTunes DRM. I also don’t really need the convenience of it — I think it’s kind of fun to rip new CDs. It gives me a chance to read the liner notes.

However, I am thinking of buying a Christmas gift for someone from the store. This person is not all that technical and uses the iTunes store a lot, and I believe would have trouble downloading the album I’m thinking of gifting from any other source. Also, for very rational reasons having to do with a teeny-tiny apartment, this person really doesn’t want to have to store CDs. Quite simply, it makes sense to give the gift this way — and would be a major pain in the butt for the recipient if it were given any other way.

All of this led me to spend some time poking around iTunes. I was really pleased with how flexible and easy gift-giving through the site was, allowing you to gift whole albums, individual songs or playlists. I also like that you can e-mail or print out the gift certificate. It’s much nicer than simply buying a gift card. As I said, I rarely use the iTunes store, so all of this was news to me. I’m not likely to become a regular iTunes customer any time soon, but I could see using it to buy gifts for a small handful of people from time to time.

The Scarlet P

December 6th, 2007

I ran across this Emerson quote recently: “Do the duty of the day.” I’ve been having some motivation issues lately, and this quote stuck in my head. I’ve been taking it to mean something along the lines of “do your work, don’t procrastinate, focus.”

I spent some time this morning learning a bit more of the context of this quote. It seems that Emerson meant it much more philosophically — in the context of describing some of the failings of the abolition movement, he wrote in his journal:

Do the duty of the day. Just now the supreme duty of all thinking men is to assert freedom. Go where it is threatened, & say “I am for it, & do not wish to live in the world a moment longer than it exists.”

Which is interesting. However, my current need for a mantra of sorts to focus my energies means I will continue to rely on my own out-of-context interpretation of the quote.

All of which leads me to the following: I spent an hour this morning procrastinating by investigating the origin of a quotation I have latched on to to help me avoid procrastination. Sigh. And we won’t speak of how this blog entry has compounded my sin.

Echo

December 3rd, 2007

Found via Brainlog: The Secret to Raising Smart Kids.

This is a valuable reading not only for parents who want to raise smart kids, but also for people who think they’re smart. I find myself confronting the same issue over and over again: did I fail because I’m not smart enough? or because I didn’t try hard enough? The bits about the relationships among ego, opportunity and failure are also useful.