2.19.2010

The Rebate Debate

My work peeps and I go out to lunch together, as work peeps are known to do. More times than not, our lunchtime conversations go off on funny tangents... which can make for some good stories.

Or blog posts.

Several weeks ago Matt, Aaron and I went to Costa Vida. As we were chatting, I mentioned that I had a rebate form at home that I had to fill out and mail in. And that I didn't really want to fill it out, but I had to because Dave was making me. And it sucked that Dave was making me, because filling out rebates is HARD and DUMB and I don't want to be bothered with them.

The whole time I'm talking, Matt and Aaron are looking at me with an expression they probably use when their wives are saying something they think is completely ridiculous (although I'm positive that Amy and Michelle, whom I adore, would never ever say anything ridiculous).

"How much is the rebate?" Matt asked.

I roll my eyes, inconvenienced even by questions about rebates. "It's for $50."

Incredulous pause.

In general, Matt and Aaron are both extremely polite and diplomatic, but they both enjoy a friendly debate amongst friends (especially Matt). So, after I tell them how much the rebate is, Aaron starts in on his burrito... and Matt starts in on me.

"Let me get this straight," Matt says. "All you have to do to get $50 back is fill out the form, attach a couple of things to it, put it in an envelope and mail it... and you're not interested?"

"Nope," I said. "I just don't want to bother with it."

More incredulous pausing.

I realize that Matt said exactly the same thing Dave said when we discussed it the night before... and then it dawns on me: I'm trying to curry sympathy from two people who share my husband's passion for value and frugality! I'm attempting to convince my cost-conscious colleagues to sympathize with my blatant and unapologetic fiscal apathy... and failing miserably.

I'm horrified... but I'm steadfast.

"Dude," I say, my chin stuck out in protest, "I won't get my money for... like... three months! Maybe even longer!"

Non-plussed pausing.

"So what? You'll get it eventually, right?"

"Probably... but that's too long to wait! And filling out those forms and enclosing all that crap is too time-consuming!"

Even more pausing.

Aaron is silently smiling at me and getting comfortable... he's more than happy to sit back, relax and watch the train wreck in progress. Meanwhile, Matt has come up with a new angle to test my commitment to the Too-Damn-Lazy-to-Claim-Free-Cash platform.

"What if you were outside and, all of a sudden, a $5 bill blows past you down the street. Would you chase it down?"

Without skipping a beat, in an effort to clarify the scenario I ask the most obvious question:

"What season is it?"

Surprise-attacked pause.

Matt doesn't get it. I've thrown him off... which is hard to do, because he's a smarty-pants. "Uh... what season is it?" he repeats.

"Yeah... Is it winter, spring, summer or fall?" I'm silently high-fiving myself for discombobulating him.

"Uh, ok... it's winter. But what does the season have to do with it?"

I'm actually hurt that he doesn't see the connection. Any friend of mine knows I believe with all my heart that if Satan was a season, he would be WINTER. (A bit ironic, I know, considering he's reported to live in a fairly warm climate.) Point is, Matt should know exactly where I'm going with this.

"Because if it's cold outside, you know there's NO WAY I would chase down a $5 bill because... uh, it's cold outside."

It finally registers. "Ah, yes, of course," he says. "Winter is evil. Sorry, I forgot. Ok, so let's say it's 75 degrees outside. Would you go after the money then?"

"Probably not."

Bonus round of incredulous pausing. I start to wonder if these guys are going to give me a ride back to the office.

"WHY NOT?"

"Because! I'm not going to look like a fool chasing money blowing in the wind... that's just silly! Besides, you've seen the shoes I wear to work. Do you honestly think I would trot down the street in eighty-dollar high heels for five measley bucks?"

Now they're thinking many things about me... things featuring words like "diva" and "hoity-toity" and "sucks to be Dave"... but mostly they can't believe that, if a perfectly good finsky meandered past me in a breeze, I would turn on my (high) heel and walk the other way.

In fact, Matt refuses to accept this. He's determined to find my threshold, the point at which I am willing to concede this cockamamie platform.

"So how much money would it have to be for you to chase it down the street? Ten dollars?"

I wrinkle my nose. He rolls his eyes.

"Ok, ten dollars in 75-degree weather. And you're wearing flats." (Like I said, a smarty-pants.)

I think it over... and shrug my shoulders.

His eyes widen. "You wouldn't chase down TEN DOLLARS?"

I shrug again, picking at my tortilla. Any second his corneas are going to pop out of their sockets and land in his refried beans.

And then they'd be refreyed beans!! Ha ha ha, hee hee hee, ha ha ha ha ha...

Sorry.

Dumbfounded by my obvious aversion to rational thought, Matt blurts: "Twenty?! Would you chase down a twenty-dollar bill?!"

The threshold at last! "Yes, I would definitely chase down a twenty-dollar bill."

Matt's smelling victory, but he knows he's not quite there. "Would you really?" He asks, his eyes
narrowing. "Even in winter?"

"Yes!" I insist.

And then, because it's the absolute truth and I can't help myself, I add:

"Unless it's actually snowing, and the money blows across the street. I wouldn't want to cross the street in the snow... especially if I'm wearing those cute red pumps that I love."

Threshold destroyed. Victory in tatters. Work peeps chalk me up as a total wackadoo.

As we headed back to work, I'm sure Matt and Aaron were silently thanking their lucky stars that they only have to put up with my nonsense from 9 to 5.

I was silently thanking my lucky stars it wasn't snowing.



P.S. It's been 30 days since I mailed that rebate to the Godforsaken Black Hole of Rebate Redemption and, of course, I haven't heard a peep. Only seven more months to wait.

P.S.S. Is anyone else with me on this, or am I the only one with a "No-thanks, I'm good" policy on rebates? If so please give me a shout out... it might help chip away at the huge complex this conversation gave me...






2.15.2010

Cupid Pops

For Valentine's Day this year I made cake pops. Cake pops are a signature confection of Bakerella, who has a fabulous blog about all things baked and beautiful. Her creations are adorable in a holy-crap-she-must-never-ever-sleep kind of way... and because I prefer shut-eye to pretty much everything else, I mostly just peruse and admire her mad baking skills and insane cuteness.

However... because I'm feeling brave in the kitchen these days, I decided to give her cake pops a whirl in Cupid's honor. (And because I decided that I had FIVE HOURS to spare on a Thursday evening after Zumba class.)

This is actually the second time I've made cake pops. The first time was a couple of weeks ago, just to see if I could pull them off. It was definitely a learning curve: I made some mistakes, then made some adjustments... and below is my second, more confident attempt:


This photo makes me think of the game Candy Land.
If the Milton Bradley gang were so inclined,
they could easily add Cake Pop Grove to the board.

Oooh... sparkly and glittery... and when you bite it, it's RED VELVETY!

Once they were chocolate-dipped and candy-coated,
of course I had to put them in pretty packages...

I mean... go big or go home, right?
Since I was already home, I had no choice but to go big.
And then, at 12:56 a.m., I went to bed.

My Cupid Pops aren't as cute as Bakerella's creations... her shoes are big ones to fill, as you can see here, and I'm just taking baby steps! But I think they turned out pretty cute... and yummy. In fact, Dave and Ty ate one and it was like the Diapered Cherub himself had hit the bullseye on my guys... they instantly began to swoon and profess their undying love for me!

Or, maybe they said: "Hey, these are pretty tasty. But do we have to call them cake pops? That's kinda girly."

Personally, I prefer the swooning-and-professing version.

2.12.2010

Channeling Betty

I have heretofore mentioned my general aversion to cooking... most recently in this post where I confessed, among other culinary shortcomings, that I did not know the difference between a garlic press and a carburetor. (Which is why both items are clearly labeled at my house. Still.)

But my friends, thanks in large part to Jillian Michaels' book called Master Your Metabolism, I have a new aversion: Food that is chemically bastardized beyond all nurtitional recognition. It's been interesting to learn about hormonal functions and the metabolic process—and even more unsettling to learn what we put our bodies through when they try and make sense of all the processed junk we eat, stuff that our bodies are not at all designed to process.

[MID-POST DISCLAIMER: Relax... I'm not going to lecture anyone about their Cheetos and Diet Coke. And I still fantasize about eating a giant bowl of Cocoa Puffs while I'm watching Project Runway; therefore, I have no high horse to ride, nor am I in a position to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't eat. I'm simply sharing this little epiphany I've had... so by all means, have another Twinkie and continue reading.]

When it comes to food, Jillian's general rule is: If it didn't grow from the ground or if it doesn't have a mother, don't eat it. These days I'm pretty much following that rule and eating "clean" food—meaning whole, real food minus the preservatives and chemical yuckiness. But, because I love food too much and couldn't have it any other way, my clean food has to be tasty, too.

All of this to say that... hope my parents and siblings are sitting down... I've started cooking. Real food. FROM SCRATCH. Not every single day... but at this point, more days than not.

In the past few weeks I have purchased new mixing and prep bowls, a few other pieces of cookware and a couple new knives, along with two kinds of cooking wine and at least 10 bottles of spices I'd never heard of before. (So is Cumin pronounced KOO'-min, or Q-min?? Somebody please give me a ruling on this.)

I've also been holding nightly seances to channel Betty Crocker. I made a Ouiga board out of a cookie sheet, using a tiny spatula as a pointer... and I sit in front of it chanting recipes out loud, wearing an apron and oven mitts. And let me tell ya, Bets has been... uh, rising... to the ocassion.

Don't believe me? Here's proof: Wednesday night I made the most amazing Chicken Parmigiana, recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. (She's wonderful... for the love of all that is good and holy, you MUST check her out.)



Here I am sprinkling fresh parsley onto my masterpiece. (Candie, I didn't see fresh thyme in the produce section... so, alas, I still can't find the thyme.)

No, I did NOT sneak into the kitchen at the Olive Garden with my camera...

This was made by ME on MY OWN STOVE!


Look at that succulent piece of chicken, simmering in scrumptious marinara sauce and blanketed with freshly shaved parmesan cheese...
does it get better than that? No, I'm afraid not.


I wish I had prettier plates because, holy cannoli, that's a fine-looking meal!


How are the guys responding to my culinary awakening?
They are absolutely beside themselves with joy.
(Dave looks ready to come at me with that knife if I don't stop taking pictures and let him eat.)


Come to mama!



Even Dingo slurped up a little bit of sauce!
(And then proceeded to emit clouds of noxious gas all night long... so that turned out to be a bad idea.)

This recipe was five-star FABULOUS! We all fought over the leftovers the next day. The guys want me to make it again for Valentine's Day... and frankly, I'm wondering why we have to wait that long...

So as it turns out, after all these years I'm actually capable of following a recipe that involves more than "microwave on high for 3-6 minutes." A shout out goes to The Pioneer Woman for the great recipe, and to my always-willing taste testers at home... now affectionately known as The Dishwashing Staff. (Dude, cooking is MESSY!)

And thanks to Betty, my homegirl from the beyond, who comes to my kitchen when summoned and makes sure that I never overdo it with the KOO'-min.