life shopping

merry christmas to me

Thanks to the magic of, I made out like a bandit this Christmas. As you get older, Christmas becomes less about the stuff you get, and more about spending time with family and friends, and with finding the perfect gifts for others. So, imagine my surprise when I came home from my visit with the inlaws with a suitcase full of stuff that I love. And I owe it all to amazon!

Amazon has this wondrous invention called the wishlist. You can add anything amazon sells to your wishlist – and amazon sells EVERYTHING. Books, cds, dvds, jewelry, clothing, kitchen gadgets, appliances, toys, electronics, food – you name it, and they probably sell it. (After a quick check, amazon does not sell automobiles or livestock. So, I guess they don’t have quite everything …)

After you’ve made your wishlist, you can prioritize and comment on the items. This, of course, so others know what’s really important to you, and what’s just mildly intriguing.

And the best thing: you can mass email your wishlist out. So then everyone knows what you want! And then – you get stuff you want. And you can’t quite help feeling like you’re 6 years old and Santa brought you everything you asked for.

(Just a quick shout-out to my folks – I love the gift cards! Any time I can enjoy my favorite pasttime guilt-free is a happy day for me. Or should I say, was a happy day for me …)

hobbies life

welcome to!

Ok, so if you’re here, it’s because I won’t stop ranting and raving about and telling everyone to come check out my new site. I’ve moved over all my previous blog entries from blogger, so you won’t have to miss any of your old favorites. 🙂

For those of you who know that I am a web developer by trade, please don’t judge too harshly. When I get home from work, I am NOT one of those people who spends their free time messing with things, and tweaking stuff, all for the benefit of the 9-to-5. And so is not going to have any of the cool web 2.0 gadgets that you see on fancy websites. I plan to make use of‘s one-click installers – like this blog and my picture gallery – and not a whole lot more. 🙂 You should thank me for keeping things simple. Really. I’m not all that good at what I do …

Please feel free to register for your own blog or album account. 🙂 If things get too out of hand (i.e., your blog becomes more popular than mine, etc.) then I’ll just ban you. Or something.


vitamin water

I just discovered the best thing ever! Vitamin water is the most amusing way I’ve ever experienced to get my vitamins.

It used to be that getting my vitamins meant one of three things: Eating a healthy, balanced diet, that contained a wide variety of fruits and vegetables; swallowing a horse pill shortly before or after consuming a large meal to avoid queasiness; or, chewing up a barney, dino and wilma.

Eating a balanced diet is a smart practice that will undoubtedly add years to my life, but it is not fun. In fact, it’s a lot of work, especially when there is cheesecake in my fridge. And ice cream in my freezer. And m&ms in my cupboard. And a husband who only eats pop tarts and cheeseburgers in my basement.

Swallowing a horse pill makes me gag. As does the ensuing queasiness. Every few years, I buy myself a bottle of vitamins in an effort to be ‘healthy’ without giving up cheesecake. Or ice cream. Or m&ms. Or my husband. But, undoubtedly, I only last a few days, and I eventually throw out the vitamins when I can’t remember when I bought them. Because surely that must mean they are too old to still be effective. Besides, they are just a reminder of my failure to be ‘healthy’.

Eating a handful of children’s vitamins is mildly amusing. As are the questions I get at the checkout line about my children. (Note: I have no children.) For real, it happens when all you’re buying is captain crunch, lunchables and corn dogs.

But vitamin water is, by far, the funniest way I’ve ever gotten my vitamins. First off, it’s fruit flavored water with vitamins in it! Who ever would have come up with that idea? Secondly, the packaging is really something else. It’s reminiscent of a generic brand, with no pictures, only text. And there is a LOT of text. Telling me it’s ok to eat a double bacon cheeseburger and fries, as long as I wash it down with vitamin water. And that the potassium and B vitamins will get me energized. And that the inside is natural and the outside is plastic.

So, here’s to a ‘healthy’ diet. 🙂


the domestic life

I took the opportunity this last week to be domestic. Really, mom, you’d be so proud of me!

First off, I took up knitting. I was in Target last Friday night (you know you’re married when you’re out shopping at 10 pm on a Friday night), and I saw one of those ‘Learn to Knit’ kits. I’ve seen them before, but the pictures on the packages were always of ugly pillows or scarves, and I’ve got all the ugly pillows (2) and scarves (0) that I really need. But they had one with cat toys – little knitted fish and mice – and so I had to get it. Because, well, my cats aren’t nearly spoiled enough. So after a couple of hours trying to decipher the cryptic directions, I found a website with pictures to show me what all this knitting, purling, and invisible increasing was about. So, yeah, I’m a knitter. I’m still working on my gauge (my cats are now the proud owners of one demented knitted fish that my husband keeps calling a mouse because it doesn’t really much look like a fish) but I plan to become an accomplished afghaner. Afghanist? Afghan maker. I plan to become an accomplished afghan maker.

My second domestic task involved cooking a real, live dinner – a main dish, vegetables, bread AND dessert. I had the opportunity because all my neighbors are having babies. So when new baby mama #1 stopped by to ask if I’d make dinner for new baby mama #2, I of course said yes. You can’t say no to an exhausted new baby mama. I think there’s a special level of purgatory for that. And I really have enough levels to visit already. So, anyway, I made lasagna Wednesday night, because my husband hates lasagna, and I never get to make it anymore. I had the foresight to make 2 pans of it (I threw one in the freezer) because I’m sure new baby mama #3 will soon be in need of dinner. And, if not, well then I’ll eat it myself. Because my lasagna is amazing. And I really hope baby mama #2’s family at least kinda liked it, or else I’ll likely get thrown out of the neighborhood ladies’ circle. Or maybe they’ll all get together because they feel so bad for the newlywed who makes such terrible dinners and teach me to cook things my husband will hate anyway…

So, after the lasagna and a quick dinner of nachos with my husband, I started on my third domestic task: I went to Costco with some ladies at church. Because I had been finagled into being on some committee for some church ladies’ social. Somewhere between the 48 croissants and 6 cantaloupe, we picked up 6 brownie mixes and I volunteered to make 2 pans of brownies for the following evening’s social, after mentally taking stock of my cookware and deciding with 80% confidence that I did, indeed, have two 9×13 pans. Then we saw the picture on the side of the giant brownie box: brownies topped with a cream cheese layer, drizzled with chocolate, and it was decided that we must have THOSE brownies. Regular ghirardelli triple chocolate brownies were somehow no longer enough. So then we needed 6 pounds of cream cheese, which was easily found in 3 pound blocks. Which then, after doing some quick math, prompted me to announce that I would do 3 pans of brownies, so as to avoid having to deal with the mess of cutting off 2 pounds from one of the blocks – which is what I would need to do 2 pans. I quickly recanted when I remembered the issue of my bakeware stock, but then vaguely remembered having some 8×8 square pans, and decided the third batch could just be split ino two smaller pans. So, I volunteered to make 3 pans of ghirardelli cream cheese delight. Even though it was 8:30 on Wednesday night, and these said brownies would need to be made by 5 pm the following day. And I have this thing called a job. But there’s something that happens when ladies get together and all start volunteering to do things, like making 20 chicken breasts worth of chicken salad, that makes all the other ladies start volunteering to do silly things.

So, at 9:30 Wednesday night, I made a pan of brownies. I figured that I could only fit two pans in the oven at a time, so I’d just knock one out before bed. I’m a pro at making brownies out of a box, I figured it would just take 30 or 40 minutes. I didn’t take into account that the cream cheese layer would involve some lengthy, low-powered microwave cheese softening, and then a tricky spreading of cream cheese batter ON TOP of brownie batter. The spreading of batter on top of batter is not a quick process. Especially when one layer is most decidedly brown and the other is white. After finally getting it to be ‘good enough’, I threw it in the oven. For 45 minutes. Because special cream cheese topped brownies take longer than regular brownies. And then I read on the box directions that the brownies needed to be refrigerated after baking. Some quick time calculations brought me to the realization that making the rest of the brownies after work the following day would not allow for the requisite cool down and refrigeration period.

5:15 Thursday morning, I got out of bed and made two more batches of brownies. As annoyed as I was with the cream cheese softening and batter-on-batter spreading the previous evening, everything is more annoying at before-the-sun-rises A.M. After finally getting them in the oven, I got ready for work, then waited around for the brownies to finish. (It is possible for me to get ready for work in 45 minutes because, even though I am a woman, I am also a software engineer, and there is no pressure for me to ‘get pretty’ for work. Quite a nice perk of the job.)

4 o’clock Thursday afternoon, I worked feverishly to cut 3 batches of brownies, and get them out of the pan without breaking them. Ha! As if. Something about the two layers made it nearly impossible to get them out of the pan without separating the layers, or else completely crumbling the brownie. So I did what any self respecting woman would do: I ate the crumbled brownies, and I just set the separated layers back down on top of each other, and figured that I didn’t mind if the ladies at the social thought they had been the one to ‘break’ the brownies. After getting through two pans, I realized I didn’t have any containers to carry any more cut brownies, so I gave up. I cut the last pan, but left the brownies in it. The ladies at the social could dig out their own brownies. Then, they would truly understand my pain.

5 o’clock, I headed to the church with all my brownies. The social started at 7, but there were cantaloupe to cut and croissants to stuff with chicken salad. Oh yeah, and centerpieces to arrange. Two hours of food prep, decorating, and you’ve-been-married-two-years-but-have-no-babies interrogations from well-meaning older ladies later, the social started. Everyone loved the food, the inspirational thoughts were surprisingly inspirational, and I have to admit, I rather enjoyed myself. Plus, there were totally too many brownies. I got to take a whole pan home. As much of a pain as they were, they were delicious. I will make them in the future. Maybe tomorrow, as my husband and I seem to have devoured them all.

The domestic life has been a nice change of pace from my every-day schedule, but I’ve decided that all this domesticity is exhausting! I don’t know how women do it. I guess maybe sleep is really an optional thing? I suppose I may get a chance to find out, in a few years (sorry, mom), when I have kids and suddenly have more need to make well-balanced meals (with vegetables and all), and make costumes for school plays, and all that. Till then, I think I’ll enjoy the domestic life in small doses.

life shopping

rediscovering an old love

I recently rediscovered something I had once loved so much: the Tysons Corner mall.

I had forgotten about my favorite mall. It happened slowly, over a matter of years, as I moved from Fairfax, to Reston, to Herndon, to Ashburn. Each move took me further west, and further from the best mall ever.

I had to go to Tysons Corner on Monday this week because it’s the only place I know of in the area with an Apple Store. And, well, I needed to go to an Apple Store because my mac mini was going to be available for pick up at my local FedEx after 8 pm that evening, and it had dawned on me early that morning that I had neglected to buy speakers for my mac mini.

On Apple’s website, I found speakers that rivaled the mac mini in adorability. I checked Best Buy and Circuit City’s websites for the tiny Sony speakers, but to no avail. It seemed that if I wanted the speakers of my dreams, then I would need to go to an Apple Store.

Usually, my husband hates malls. Even more, he hates going to malls with me, because I am capable of spending hours and hours in a mall. And, well, that’s just torturous. But – the prospect of going to the Apple Store was enough to pique his interest, and so we headed to Tysons Corner after work.

The Apple Store was a bit of a disappointment, as they did not have my tiny Sony speakers. But – while looking at the Directory to figure out where, exactly, the Apple Store was, I happened to notice that there was also a Sony store. And so we went to the Sony store.

On the way to the Sony store, it dawned on me that they seem to have added new stores to the mall. I don’t know if they added a wing or a floor, or what, but there are definitely more stores there than I remember. And also a theater! And an upstairs food court. With a Five Guys. So after I found my tiny Sony speakers (yay!) we got dinner, and caught a movie.

Most people might say that a food court is not the ideal place for dinner, but I disagree. My husband eats cheeseburgers. And when he wants to mix things up, he eats a bacon cheeseburger. I happen to like mexican, italian, chinese or bbq every now and again – and so a food court allows us both to be happy. Especially a food court with a Five Guys. (Best burgers in the world. Just ask my husband. He knows burgers.)

As we walked through the mall, I remembered all the good times . . . my roommates who worked for the Victoria’s Secret . . . the dilly bars from the Dairy Queen . . . checking my email at the Apple Store when I didn’t have internet at home . . . the dinner party I arranged with a big group of acquaintances at the Rain Forest Cafe just to avoid a date, and the guy I wanted to not date didn’t even come (mission accomplished!) . . . the dress I bought that I wore the night my husband proposed . . . Christmas shopping . . . and, well, shopping.

The great thing about Tyson’s Corner is the atmosphere. Everything is fancy and expensive looking. But they’ve got all the normal mall stores. There’s GAP and Old Navy, Payless Shoes and Claire’s. And there are plenty of not-quite-Sak’s-expensive stores. You can pretend like you’re really a part of the whole “I’m so rich” fantasy that everyone in Northern Virginia is caught up in, without having to actually really buy anything from Nordstrom or Banana Republic. You can go to Sephora and sniff coffee beans between whiffs of every perfume known to man, browse the Bombay Company as if anything there actually matches the decor in your home (if, uh, you’re talented enough to have ‘decor’) and get a makeover at one of the Hecht’s makeup counters. AND you can play with Discovery Channel Store gadgets, buy $5 shirts from Old Navy’s clearance rack, check out the displays in the Lego Store (they have Batman legos now – I think my embarrassingly large lego collection may soon get even larger), and buy gum at the CVS. In short, it’s the best place in the world. There’s a reason I have so many fond memories of the Tysons Corner mall. I have a feeling I will soon be going back – sans husband – to make even more.

general complaints life work


I have 14 passwords that I use to access 7 networks, 6 email accounts, 2 chat clients, 2 bank accounts, 9 bill-paying sites, 2 blogs, 1 MMORPG, and 4 work-related sites: timesheet, payroll, hr, and training. And that’s not even counting all the dumb little websites I’m a member of.

Some of my passwords must be semi-secure: contain letters and numbers. Some must be secure: contain letters, numbers, and special characters. Some must be obnoxiously secure: contain upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers, and special characters, with no more than 3 of each type occuring in a row.

Some of my passwords must be changed on a regular basis. Of these, some cannot repeat the last 4 passwords. Some cannot repeat the last 8. And one cannot repeat the last 24 passwords. 24? Honestly. I guess that’s a super-secure system, seeing as no one will be able to log into it after 4 or 5 password changes because they won’t be able remember what they just changed their password to.

It is no wonder that I have trouble remembering my passwords! And not only remembering my passwords, but also remembering which password applies to what account. I was just trying to log in to one of my email accounts, and it kept telling me that my password was wrong. After 2 minutes of trying different passwords, I finally realized that I had typed in my username wrong. Because, well, I have 7 or 8 different usernames.

I am so ready for a retinal-scanning-thumb-print-taking login mechanism. I’d almost welcome a finger-pricking-blood-scanner. Couldn’t be much more painful than the current system.