Category Archives: Marriage

Dice Brownies

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A few years back I had the rather ambitious idea of making double-decker brownies that looked like dice for my husband’s birthday. I was kind of on an obsessive brownie baking kick at the time after getting a “Perfect Brownie” brownie pan for Christmas. (As seen on TV!) So I was pretty excited and suspected not even a little how much work was going to be involved. It was a nightmare. The “Perfect Brownie Pan, TM!” cuts rectangles and I needed squares. So the first hurdle was trying to make all my rectangles into equal squares. I have never excelled at uniformity. That part went badly. After that was the frosting, another thing I’m terrible at, and so that part went even worse.

And yet, this year, I decided to take a stab at dice brownies again. Perhaps time dulled the agony that I experienced. Or maybe it’s just love. All that love I have for my wonderful husband who is sometimes a pain in that ass, sometimes a wonderful guy and always the best thing that ever happened to me.

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Awwww.

Anyway, whatever the reason, I set to work. Finding the perfect brownie recipe was the first hurdle I had to jump. It wasn’t easy, but it did involve eating all the “failures”. Phase one was a delight, is what I’m saying. I finally found a passable recipe but I’m not going to link it. I changed it far too much to really credit it. I hate recipes and trying to make the best brownie possible from a recipe cemented that fact. I made my changes and then I quadrupled the recipe. The results were good enough for a brownie beauty pageant. Look at those gorgeous pans.

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Baking was the easy part, however. In order to have squares, I couldn’t use the edges. That meant cutting each of the pans of brownies into a workable rectangle. It ended up looking something like this:

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At this point, I was ready to stop. I am a firm believer that baking should be a sprint, not a marathon. Cooking is the thing that’s supposed to take ages and wear you out. Baking is something I do for fun and generally in quick bursts. Not to mention, the endurance run was leading to a lot of brownie pieces going into my mouth. And that is not good for my hips. In case you’re curious, this is how much extra brownie I had left over:

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And I still had to cut the giant rectangles into small squares. Somehow, I managed to get that done without everything falling apart into nothing. That was a lot harder than it might seem, these brownies were quite crumbly.

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Frosting was up next. I used a basic buttercream recipe to make the frosting, adding in some orange extract and lemon juice for flavor. I wanted the effect of the finished product to taste like a chocolate orange.

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The first try was too thick, I couldn’t get it to spread and had to apply it to the brownies like modeling clay. Not something I wanted to do. I thinned it out with a little milk but then of course it was too thin. I used it just fine to frost the brownies but they didn’t dry right, which meant I couldn’t shape them very easily before I applied the chocolate chips. The thing with dice brownies is they’re frosted on all sides, so I don’t have an easy way to handle them if they aren’t dry. When they’re first frosted, they look a little like the sort of cubes a child might draw. Kind of on point, but a bit…off.

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Not winning any beauty contests anymore. Someday, I’d like to be able to afford to buy fondant. Or, at least, to be competent enough to make it. I think it would work better for the recipe. In the meantime, however, I have to wait til the frosting dries and then mold it as best I can into what vaguely resembles a D6.

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Those two were the best specimens I managed to create. I think that this is why I often chose function over form. It’s so much easier to make something that tastes nice than to make something that looks nice. As a side note, mini-chocolate chips are the cutest little bits of deliciousness known to humankind.

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Story time!

The wind was cold and the moon was full and bright in the sky. Well. The moon wasn’t actually up yet and I’m pretty sure it’s waning crescent right now. But picture it that way anyway. I took John’s hand and we plunged into the corn for a wild adventure. Or, you know, a walk through the corn.

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John consulted the map occasionally, in a stalwart manner, refusing my offer of a flashlight. He was the fearless leader of our expedition, pulling me along over the furrows and felled corn stalks. I was sure we were lost most of the time but not John, he directed me left and right and left again with all the confidence of a drill instructor.

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We had a brief false alarm when we stumbled upon a broken in exit that had clearly been made by some maze-goer that was not nearly as skilled in directions as my husband. Alas, we were not yet free.

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After an arduous journey we stumbled out of the maze and into the safety of the floodlights. As it transpired, the exit we found wasn’t an “official” exit so maybe we didn’t actually complete the maze. But damn it, we survived!

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Medieval Rugby

When I started dating John in 2006, he spent every Saturday afternoon at the park with his friends hitting each other with foam covered pipes. It was piping then and for the life of me I can’t stop calling it that. These days it’s a sport and it’s called a few other, fancier, names but piping is how it was introduced to me and piping it remains.

My enthusiasm has stayed the same but John’s has fluctuated quite a bit. He went from wearing workout clothes and taking duct taped weapons to our local park every weekend to, well, this:

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I have a love-hate relationship with events. I’m not terribly fond of nature and they require staying outdoors all day and sometimes camping overnight. Though admittedly I have yet to agree to actually camp out during a camping event. Last weekend’s event was a day event and totally worth all the time I had to spend outside. It wasn’t the fighting that kept my attention but rather, the fighters. They’re all quite photogenic. And friendly!Image

There were lots of games that I don’t quite understand the rules of just yet and a questionable game involving killing/protecting a balloon baby that I just don’t care for. Here you see the proud papa passing off his child to the worst babysitters you’ve ever seen.

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But the highlight of the day was John being (as I like to put it) jumped into the Grey Wardens. Which is a unit in…you don’t care. And you don’t need to, don’t worry about it. He had to fight about twenty people (rough guess) one at a time, until he managed to kill them all. Some people went down easily, but not Black (note: this is his nickname and not a vague description). This was a common view during my filming:

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Ultimately, though, he succeeded and I was happy to be there for that. I’m sort of negative most of the time but John sees the good side in everything. Even his horrible injury. It looks like a heart. Or so he claims. You can be the judge.

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Filed under Marriage, Stick Jocks, Travels

More Road Woes

It’s not impossible to eat healthy on the road. Most fast food places have marginally healthy options now. Some truck stops (Pilots in particular) have fresh fruit available. Whenever we had the time or the inclination to sit down to dinner, all of the truck stop diners had a salad bar available.

My problem is that my only weakness is that I’m weak. I ate healthy a lot on the road but not primarily and not nearly as much as I should have. I barely control my eating habits when I’m at home and don’t have these horrible fast food options at my fingertips. On the road and under stress, with it right in front of me it was regularly beyond my strength.

As for the stress, I would like to point my finger straight at southern California. There are so many nice places to go in SoCal if you’re a tourist. You do not visit those places as a trucker. You go to places like Oxnard and Vernon and see things like this out of the window.

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And then, when you want to leave (desperately), you sit in traffic for three hours, regardless of what time it is. John ranted about the traffic we encountered at 2 in the afternoon.

“Why aren’t these people at work? I’m at work!”

Good point.

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My Future Life as a Zookeeper

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I was born and raised in a city of nearly a million people. I had a backyard, but barely. I’ve always dreamed of having my own farm. I’m closer, map-wise, since I’m living in this cow-town these days but I’m no nearer to my dream in any sort of real way. Someday, though, I hope to have goats, pigs, chickens and perhaps a horse or two. My husband has quite a different animal-based dream. He brought it up a week ago, while we were driving through Tiger Pass in Washington.

“I want a gorilla friend,” he said, to my utter puzzlement. “I figure he can control the tiger for me, too.”

“You can’t have a tiger, we talked about this.”
“Why not?”

“Because it will eat you the first chance it gets.”
“That’s what the gorilla is for!”

That’s not a perfect transcript but that’s as close as I can get. To my chagrin, I have never had the presence of mind to record these conversations when they happen. The gorilla thing is new but John has wanted a tiger for a while. It seems so strange to me that a man who can barely stand to have our one cat (and has forbidden the purchase of another) wants so badly to have a nearly half-ton jungle cat. And a gorilla besides.

But that’s my husband.

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My Husband is a Fire Elemental (Or: Road Woes)

Recently I packed up my things and went on the road with my husband, John. He has been a truck driver for the better part of the last four years but only recently went back to long haul. It’s been a constant struggle and occasionally a nightmare for both of us. If I could, I’d probably stay on the truck with him all the time. I’m not employed but I do have pets that need looking after, a duty that falls on my wonderful sister-in-law, Kayti, while I’m gone. Point being that I can’t stay out too long or I feel as though I’m shirking my responsibilities.

Living together on the truck is kind of like sharing a very small apartment. An apartment that moves, has no bathroom, and is constantly humming. Our things are generally everywhere, due to the abundance of them and the lack of places to keep them. John does all right by himself (as well as you can expect from a man living like a bachelor) but with my stuff added in it becomes a catastrophe. No matter how frequently I clean up, it seems as though everything is everywhere. But that’s only the beginning of the troubles I’ve found being on the road.

The bathroom situation, I mentioned that. I’m sure you know what it’s like: you wake up at the butt crack of dawn and you have to pee, badly, so you begrudgingly leave your bed to go to the bathroom. It’s probably about twenty steps from your bed. And you don’t have to put on pants or anything. It’s not quite so easy on the truck. Every morning I wake up far too early and struggle to find my clothes and my shoes. Which would be easier if I could remember where my glasses were. Generally once I’m fully clothed I have to make a vague attempt at making myself presentable to the public. Finally, I get to walk across a vast truck-and-trucker-filled parking lot to the public restroom. Can I get back to sleep when I return? Of course not.

My final point for now (I have, oh, so many more) is what I teased already: my husband is a fire elemental. I discovered this only recently but there have been hints in the past. He’s always a blast furnace, even when it’s freezing. He wears sandals all the time, no matter what the weather is like. Worst of all, he always has the AC on which is what lead me to my final conclusion. We spent a rather hot day in French Camp and he kept lowering the temperature on the AC, until he got it as far down as it goes: 50 degrees. I was wrapped up in two blankets at that point and still shivering but he was hot to the touch. Sure, maybe he was dehydrated or some other such thing but I choose to believe that he’s a fire elemental.

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