Wednesday, March 31, 2010


A friend emailed today and wanted to know why I haven't commented on AI or DWTS. If you remember last year I gave reports regularly. Well, this year I don't feel the love for either show.

American Idol:
I can not believe the good if not possibly great singers were voted off the first couple of weeks. And the awful, terrible, boring, just plain bad singers have stayed. This is a year of multiple Sanjayas. America just keeps voting for bad singers. The two or three singers we like are not really goose bump worthy. At least tonight all of the bottom three needed to go home. Too bad they could only send Didi home.

Dancing With the Stars:
Where do I begin? I guess with our American hero, Buzz Aldrin. Yes, he is an icon of space travel. Yes, we admire him. But he is 80 years old and it is painful watching him dance. He can't dance, and I bet when he was 25 he couldn't dance. But America won't send him home for a long time. Others dancers are really poor and they weren't even in the bottom two. We have reality star Kate Gosselin who is worse than Buzz. He at least is a nice person. After watching this week I can see why Jon left her. She is so hateful her pro partner quit the show and walked out. He later came back, probably couldn't get out of his contract. We have a football star (I guess he is a star, I don't do football) who looks clumsy.

It was interesting watching the tapes of rehearsal. Most of the stars were arguing and being prima donnas with the pros. I haven't seen this before. Think about it, people who can't walk and chew gum are telling professional dancers how to teach dance. And they are complaining about how hard dancing is. Well, yes, it is as physically hard as playing football, tennis, and most other sports.

We will probably keep watching. And I will keep bitching.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


One of my favorite things to do is to read stories to my first graders. To bring a book to life is a great experience. I love to hear the children laugh, groan, giggle, go ewwwww; it is wonderful. I do all the voices, I show the pictures twice, I ask questions about the pictures, I have as much fun as the children.

Today I read one of my favorite books to them Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon. Yes, that name is familiar to the regular readers. Click here for the link to last year's blog about this book.

This book amazes me ever time I read it or think about it. You can hear a pin drop while I am reading. The children are awed by this book. They also are tickled by it. They love the thought of dragons eating the crunchy knights in armor. They scan the pictures and find things I haven't noticed. And they get the point of the story: we all are different but we can live together in peace.

Last year my niece, who used to teach elementary children, fell in love with this book. She bought the book. BUT not for her children, for her vegetarian husband. Gotta love that.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Marty and I tested another recipe for Cook's Country Magazine last night. It was Reduced Fat Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce. Above is the start of the project. The scale is to weigh the 6 ounces of ground beef. The beef was seasoned with soy sauce and then pulsed in the food processor.
Then diced tomatoes were pulsed.

Marty is getting ready to saute onions and garlic with herbs and spices.

Sauteing onions and ground beef.

I helped some and insisted Marty take my picture to prove I was there. I really do cook.

Tomatoes and other goodies going in. Hot pepper flakes are in the sauce.
Marty is stuffing the shells with the cheese mixture. I would eat this mixture on a cracker it is so rich. But it is really low fat.

Shells on the meat sauce and ready to be topped off and then into the oven.

Last bit before it goes into the oven. We froze the rest of the stuffed shells and meat sauce. In the future we can just pull out the shells and sauce we need and have an easy supper.

The finished product topped with melted Parmesan cheese, a Rubicon 2004 Syrah, tossed salad, and flat bread. The dish is delicious. We will be fixing this again.

Monday, March 22, 2010


My feet are tired. I am tired. I work a 3 1/2 hour shift performing wedding ceremonies Mondays and Wednesdays. Today I did 10 weddings. Ten, one right after another. They were all lovely people, no weird ones. But there are several that stand out for different reasons.

One couple was from China. They had a big wedding planned in China later this year. But their student visas came through, and that wedding was off. They are at school at the University of San Francisco.

Another couple had the loudest screaming baby I have ever heard. The child was content until we started the ceremony. And he then screamed and screamed. Mad, not hungry he refused the bottle. He was just mad and got louder and louder. I had to almost yell to be heard over him. That is hard on the throat.

Another had a screaming baby. They would pass him back and forth, but he wouldn't calm down. I could barely hear them as I talked to them before the wedding. The groom held the baby throughout the ceremony. It turned out the baby wasn't theirs. He was a nephew. And the parents were not at the wedding. Why would you bring some one's baby to your wedding? Were they babysitting and decided to run off and get married? No, they were dressed up, their mothers were dressed up. Even the baby had a suit on. I don't know. I do know he screamed bloody murder the whole time we were upstairs. Again, the throat was hurting by the end of the ceremony.

Another couple was being remarried after many years and other marriages. The bride was very emotional. So happy and also crying. He was joyful and a little tearful at the same time. I gave them tissues, and he pulled out a handkerchief. Throughout the wedding he wiped her tears away. This was a goose bump wedding. So much love and tenderness.

My last wedding was just fun. She was a widow and he was divorced. They had met online on e Harmony. Such joy from this couple. They were dressed in bike shorts and tops. And they wore them well. They had ridden a tandem bike to be married from a town 20 miles away and would be biking home. They are in training for the Aids/LifeCycle Ride. It's a small world, they know a friend of ours who rides every year.

This was a very busy day. And it felt good.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Back Story: Our nephew plays basketball. Lots of people play basketball, but few as well as Kiel Turpin. Kiel is tall, really tall, 7 feet tall. And he plays college basketball, really well. This is our March Madness story.

You all know about NCAA Basketball Tournament. That is for the 4 year schools. Well, Junior Colleges have as huge a tournament in March also. They have the NJCAA Basketball Tournament. Guess whose nephew went to the Nationals? Right, my sister's grandson, our great nephew, Kiel Turpin. Google Kiel Turpin and there are thousands of sites about him. Not just Facebook either.

Kiel plays for Lincoln College. Kiel did not have a lot of court time in high school. He grew over 6 inches in one year and was learning how to get that fast growing, tall body coordinated. Now he has it under control. And the young man can really play ball.

Last night was the final game in the NJCAA Tournament, and the Lincoln LYNX were playing in it. Marty and I were invited to a dinner party at the time of the game. We were excited and wanted to keep posted on the score since we couldn't watch it on line. When we walked into the party I told our hostess about the game. Then I told her we were going to be rude. We would be checking Facebook on our phones every now and then. A cousin was going to post regular updates for us on Facebook all through the game.

Our hostess understood. Pat and her guests were nice about our excitement. They were listening for the scores throughout the evening. And then the final post: Lincoln won, and Kiel was named MVP. We all cheered for him. This is a great article about him.

As I said, remember the name, Kiel Turpin. You will hear much more about him. And not just from proud Aunt Janet.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Thursday we decided to cook pork chops with the sous vide contraption. For a refresher course on our first attempt click here. Marty was not going to be home that afternoon and I had to do some of the prep. The directions told us to brine the chops, which Marty did and then he left. I had to hook up the machine and preheat the water later that afternoon. Sounds easy doesn't it? Well I don't do machinery. So I was worried. Below are pictures of the steps and a little bit of explanation. Remember click on the picture to make them bigger.

The inside of our frig with the pork chops in the brine. Yes, that is Two Buck Chuck in the back.
As you can see, I did get it hooked up and no fire or breakers thrown. Cords in, cords out, cords in the water. Below I have pictures of the directions.

This is the first page of directions on setting up the machine and how to use it. The directions continue on for several pages. I was worried about setting temperatures and time. Press set twice, punch up or down the to set the temperature, press set again. Oh, and it has to be done within a certain time frame. Got it right the first time.

This is the back of the machine showing where the crock pot cord, sensor and the electrical cord to the wall plug in. This was simpler than I thought it would be. Each cord had a different size or different prong thingy. So you can't plug into the wrong place.

This is where the trouble began. Another page said to refer to this chart for time and temperature to cook. Since it was pork we wanted it to be at least medium. One recipe said 12 hours, another 4 hours, another 1 hour, and this chart is just dumb. We used the first line across. Remember we cook by height. The low temperature, meaning rare is much longer than the other temperatures. This told me to cook the meat 21 minutes. For the rare, it was over an hour. Confused? I was too.

Marty came home and vacuumed sealed the chops. Then we tried to decide how long to cook them. We decided about an hour, since we had cooked the steaks 48 minutes. Pork takes longer. And we could always finish them in a skillet if not done.

The Blow Torch King is browning the chops.

Here he is turning them over to brown the other side. Look at the one he has in the tongs. You can see how grey the meat is. Sort of like the color when you cook in a microwave.

And the finished product with peas and mushrooms, and buttered potatoes with garlic chives.
We were not happy with the chops. They were tender and tasted good, but they were over done. If I had cooked them this done in a skillet they wouldn't have been as tender. So that was one good thing. The machine did not hold the water within 3 degrees as advertised. At one point the water was 5 degrees too hot.
All the web sites say chicken cooked sous vide is incredible. Next week we will try chicken. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Wednesday I did 7 weddings. The last two hours it was just one wedding after another. We had white dresses, with slips underneath, glory hallelujah.

I had a Muslim couple who were very traditional. He thought long and hard before he would shake hands with me. The bride had the traditional head covering, a sliver and black blouse, and a long gorgeous black skirt. There was a border on the skirt 6 inches deep. It at first looked like embroidery, but it was incredible bead work.

The clerk brought me a license and said, "They're a funny couple." I asked her funny ha ha, strange, what? She said, "Let me know what you think." So I looked at the license, he was 84, she was 64. They had been divorced 23 years and were remarrying. I went out to meet them. He immediately started hitting on me, and she is yelling, "You are marrying me, quit making over her!" Then they all laughed. The witnesses were their two daughters. And the daughters were fussing at their father to behave. He was grossing me out with his sexual comments to me and to the bride. He commented how nice the bride looked and then said, "I've never seen her with clothes on before." No one was taking the ceremony serious except me. They poked fun at the words of the ceremony, laughed crudely, and talked throughout the ceremony. When I pronounced them married, the groping and kissing was embarrassing. And one of the daughters yelled at Daddy to stop. He then yanked on his pants and said, "My pants just want to fall down and let me be ready." EWWWWWWWW.

The clerks and I discussed them after they left. The couple had been so obnoxious at the desk that all of the clerks had been annoyed/bothered hearing the comments. This couple was so loud, crude, and rude. This felt like a marriage for money/a marriage for her to take care of him. Whatever it was, we all were annoyed by them.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Monday I had to deal again with the Clerk from Hell. Same stuff, refusing to correct her errors, rude and just generally a pill. But she was over shadowed by one wedding party.

I had done several nice weddings. Sweet couples, pretty dresses, and I was enjoying my day. I finished a wedding, came downstairs, and saw a bride in a white dress. Little did I know this was the Wedding Party from Hell, WPfH. They had not been in the building when I went upstairs to the wedding room. THAT is important. They had not been in the building that long. I went to my desk and there was a license on it, as I picked it up the clerk from the information desk came up to me. He had the name of a couple who were complaining because they hadn't been called yet. They SAID they had been waiting a long time. I looked at the license, it is the complaining couple. I then looked at the time on the receipt, 20 minutes ago. At LEAST 10 minutes of that had been at the desk with the clerk selling them their license.

Can you tell they ticked us all off? They had been waiting 10 minutes or less. Some days we have up to an hour back log. Try the DMV and wait two to three hours. Anyway, I checked the license and was in the lobby calling their names in less than 3 minutes. NO RESPONSE! Third call someone came up to me and said they were outside. She went to get them. I went into the back to vent. Went back out asked if all are there, yes. We get on the elevator, the door is closing . . . and one of them stops the door. They need to go feed the meters. We got off, I told them to knock on the door when they were ready, I would be able to see them at the door.

I went again in the back with the clerks and threw a small hissy fit. The couple had complained and twice I have tried to do this wedding. And then the knock on the door, and the knocking goes on and on. I wave to the groom that I see him. And the *+# hole kept knocking and knocking and knocking. Then he went to another clerk to complain about me not running out the door to marry them. Just a little sarcasm there, but he did complain. Do you see another hissy fit coming on? You are correct. Every clerk in the back is amazed at this couple's rudeness/dumbness. I take a deep breath and go out and try again.

We make it upstairs and I am killing them with Southern Sweetness. Just because they are rude, tacky, etc, I won't go to their level. I do the ceremony, sign the license, and ask for the first witness to come sign. Drum roll, please. SHE IS NOT THERE. Never was there, she is at work. And the stock question from the couple, "Does she have to be here? Can't she come sign it later." No, the witness must witness. We will reprint and only use the other witness. I make sure he is there, and threaten his life if he leaves before we redo the signing.

I go into the marriage desk office to vent and throw another hissy fit. Finally everything is re signed, and we get them out the door.

Luckily right after them I had a lovely, funny, sweet couple. They were so much fun, they took away the bad taste of the rudeness/dumbness of the WPfH.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Marty's brother sent us an incredible belated Christmas gift. It is a machine to convert a rice cooker or crock pot to a sous vide machine. We finally tried it tonight.

Sous Vide takes way longer than regular cooking. It is supposed to make foods more tender and to enhance flavors.

A steak 7 minutes on the grill. Against 48 minutes by sous vide. Brisket, 12 hours on the grill, 36 sous vide.

The magic machine.

Tonight Marty is seasoning the steaks. They will take 48 minutes, based on their height. Right height, not weight.

The water in the crock pot has reached the magic number. It is a little high for medium rare, but will drop when the steaks are dropped in.

And the second steak is dropped in.

When sous vided, the steaks do not get that crispy browned look. So Marty got out his blow torch and browned them.

As a glass blower he does love flames.

He loves that blow torch.

Here Marty is plating. By the way, I cooked the potatoes and asparagus. He did the steaks and mushroom wine sauce.

And the final product. The steaks were really tender and tasty. As to whether they are any better than grilling, we aren't sure. Sous Vide takes much longer, 7 minutes against 48, is that better? We plan to try chicken and pork chops next. We will continue researching this process for our readers.

That would be a Chimney Rock Cabernet we were drinking.

Stay tuned for pork chops and chicken breasts.


I have posted many pictures of Marty working with hot glass. The fire and smoke and the men working to create something wonderful is exciting. But today Marty is doing cold work.

Marty is assembling and mounting single and multi piece sculptures. Basically he is eye balling several leaves and other pieces he has made and gluing them together. Many leaves are called but few are chosen. They must match his mind's eye design, they must be ground to the right angle to fit, ( no pictures of the grinding process, it is a mess )they must match the colors of the other glass. When he starts gluing he is working against the clock. If all goes well the glue sets up quickly and becomes stronger than the glass. If not, things fall down and go boom. Luckily, he makes very heavy glass and if it falls while he is working, it usually survives.

The glue is activated by heat and/or sun rays. During the winter he has a hard time assembling pieces because they take so long to set up. And you must hold or tape the pieces together as the glue dries.

Remember, click on the picture to make it biggger.

Here Marty has glued a flame to a clear piece of glass.
A multi piece and a single piece mounted and ready to clean.

Marty is applying the glue before he mounts another flame.
Holding the flame hoping the glue holds.
After the pieces have set up the extra glue must be cleaned off. He uses acetone and razor blades to clean the glass.
More clean up of the sculpture.
The finished product, yet unnamed.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Today we played tourist in San Francisco. First we went to a Contemporary Craft show/market. There were beautiful textiles, jewelery, sculptures, glass, wood,ceramics; and some really ugly textiles, jewelery, sculptures, glass, wood, ceramics. We had fun wishing we could afford the 6 handmade greetings cards for $39.00, or the $2500 wood carving. I was all primed to take pictures, and found out no pictures allowed inside the hall. I did take some of sculptures outside.

Remember to click on the pictures if you want them bigger.

These are just fun, and expensive. I would love one in the yard.

We were really tourists. We went to Fisherman's Wharf for lunch. We had In N Out burgers and then walked around.
The news says tourism is down in San Francisco. Yet today the sidewalks were full of people.

We are at the Hyde Street Pier. Lots of old ships restored and being restored. They also have recreated a street from the early 1900's. People are in period dress, women were marching protesting they can't vote, men and women strolling along.

And a Chamber of Commerce Day.

The beautiful Golden Gate Bridge.

The Transamerica Pyramid
The skyline of Oakland, Ca. on the way home.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Monday and Tuesday I was fairly busy performing marriage ceremonies. Busy in a clump toward the end of each day. Both days I sat and read for about an hour. Combined I did 9 ceremonies and witnessed one.

There were several weddings with fancy dresses:
One was a long, satin, strapless, pale blue dress. The dress was pretty; but it looked like the bride could have turned around and the dress wouldn't have moved. The bodice was boned and very stiff and it seemed bigger that the bride, yet it stayed up.

Another dress was a knee length white muslin with a black border at the hem. It was strapless and had elastic across the bust. It was a little snug and tried to creep down. And she kept trying to pull it up.

We had the dreaded thin white dress. The bride was maybe a size 4 and the dress was a size 2. Thin and too tight. The dress rolled and bunched over her bikini panties.

And then we have the white strapless mini. The dress was a balloon skirt with asymmetrical tiers of the balloon look. And it was a maternity dress. The bride was 8 months pregnant. Not a good look.

As for the weddings, they were pretty routine. No weirdos this week. Just nice normal couples in love, wanting to get married.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Location: County building
Job: Preparing marriage licenses

SHE would be the clerk from hell (CFH). This woman has been so sweet working in the rotation. She has helped me, been friendly, we have laughed together. But man when on the marriage desk, she is one sullen . . ., well I won't go there.

Monday she brought me a license. First there was no souvenir marriage certificate. Then I looked at the license. Bride's state/country of birth Africa. Brides' parents state/country of birth Africa and Africa. Groom's address Oakland, VS.

I went to her desk to get her to reprint with corrections. She isn't there, but a couple is sitting there waiting for her. I went looking for her and found her having her lunch. I told her the license needed to be corrected, that Africa is not a country. And she said, "That's what they wanted." I said ,"The state won't take it." And she says, "I'm at lunch, get W to fix it." And walked off. I was ticked big time. One of the supervisors D came up and asked me what was wrong. And I told her all about the mess. She said ask W to help you and stormed off to talk to the CFH.

This did get handled. The couple at the CFH's desk were the ones on the license. She went to lunch with them sitting there. D found out they weren't getting married then, D had to refund them their ceremony money, correct the license, and offer an apology for something not her fault.

The next license from the CFH, no souvenir certificate and again with errors.

How the CFH keeps her job I don't know. She is such a bad representative of Alameda County workers. All the other are trying, working hard, and at least learn from their errors. This woman doesn't give a hoot.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Marty and I have had another lovely weekend. Because the glass furnace has been down and is just now being brought up to temperature, he wasn't working with the hot glass. I am loving having him home on Saturdays. They are just now bringing the furnace back up which takes many days. We have enjoyed sleeping late and doing things together.

This weekend was domestic. Friday we had a good friend to dinner. We had several Safeway Signature appetizers. Really very very good. A romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, and Mandarin orange salad with a Cesar dressing; stuffed baked potatoes; fillets with a mushroom wine sauce; and Red Devil's food cupcakes. All that with a Rubicon Cabernet Franc.

Saturday Marty made a run to put a load in the furnace at the glass studio he works at. Then we had a day to do what we wanted. I did laundry and I read between loads. He worked in the yard. For lunch we had some of the pulled pork from last month. NO, it wasn't hanging out all that time, we froze the meat and the Bar B Que sauce. Oh it was so fine. Better than fine. I do so love pulled pork. For supper I made my world famous chili. It was great.

Today another day of me feeling tired and slow.( I haven't slept well for a couple of weeks) Last night I again did not sleep well. I gave up around 5:00 and went downstairs to read. I thought a book ( which I don't like) would put me to sleep. No. I never did get a nap today. I tried, it just wasn't happening.

We watched all the Academy Award stuff today. As it started I heard a POP! Marty had opened Champagne. The only way to watch the Academy Awards. Well, the only thing to drink with any show. We watched East Coast feed. That way we watched Barbara WAWA before the big show, and watched the red carpet boring stuff before it was shown on the West Coast. That way we could cut out the commercials and the boring/dumb stuff. I do love our DVR. I had added 30 minutes to the recording and it was not long enough. Luckily I had added more on the kitchen TV, we saw the end of the show. Really, adding 30 minutes was not enough? Letterman is right, how can they give an award for editing? Parts were really boring. I love Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin , but was not impressed with them as a hosts.

Bring back Bob Hope.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Monday and Wednesday I did a total of 10 weddings. Most were nice, most couples were in jeans and sweatpants. Nearly every couple on Monday wanted to know if the witnesses had to go to the ceremony. And I gave my stock answer, how can they sign they witnessed the ceremony if they don't see it?

Monday I called the names of a bride and groom. They came up and said the witnesses had gone back to the car for "something to drink, uh water." Can we do the wedding without them? No. Insert stock answer here. So the groom runs out to get them. This ticks me off. They were told I would be right out for them. So we wait, and wait. The bride is babbling about how scared she is and how nervous her groom is. This is her third marriage. She really wants this one to work. I try to calm her down. A guest goes out to find the missing groom and witnesses. So we wait and wait. It has been way to long. I start back to my desk and in come the missing people. They are nice and relaxed, except for the groom. The fumes would stop an elephant. No one is drunk, just loose.

We go upstairs and the groom is really pale. He is 40 and this is his first marriage. He tells me he thinks he is going to pass out. I suggest he sit down for the ceremony. He wants to stand up so we chance it. He made it. And then announced he was going out and getting drunk to celebrate.

Today I had a couple from India. She was in the traditional red sari. She is very quiet, but nods to my questions and smiles. He looks to the older couple to confirm his answers. I begin the ceremony. I do the fluff and them go for the legal questions. Do you R take this woman as your wife? Yes, I do. Do you J take this man as your husband? AND the groom answers, "Yes, she does." I stopped and said, "You can not answer for her." Then it hit me, she did not speak English. She had been coached and was faking it. I threw a hissy fit. I told them I would not marry them. If she didn't understand what was going on, no one would marry them. After some discussion one of the witnesses agreed to translate. So I began anew and shortened up the ceremony.

I do not think this was a forced marriage. Probably it was arranged. The couple was holding hands and seemed happy together. But they faked out the clerk, who is sharp on non English speaking people and always warns me. They fooled me for too long. Why did they do it? The others spoke perfect English and it really wasn't an issue to translate the ceremony. Why do it?