Shocking victory of recipe over perceived science

So I tried the one-pot pasta dish and it worked!  Although both I and CPP had our doubts, the pasta turned out al dente and not broken (I used the small penne from Trader Joe’s).  I had to resist (heroically) the urge to throw in more liquid while it was cooking, but to my surprise, it all came out tasty.  I was fairly precise about the amount of pasta I used (weighed out 12 oz with a scale) and that may have helped — as compared to my usual eyeballing everything.  The amount of liquid was exactly right; nothing was burnt nor was anything soggy.

I didn’t take pictures.  Next time I make it I’ll make a few different flavoring choices than the ones I used, but that’s a feature, not a bug.  All the liquid absorbed and made a light sauce that was neither runny nor heavy, and not too much of it, either.  I used chicken stock in place of plain water.  The fresh basil is om nom nom.  I think next time I’ll put in some wodges of fresh mozzarella.  The sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil were just right.

Saving water and still eating pasta == WINNING.

(I’m still surprised, but I also just polished off the leftovers, and there’s no arguing with that!)


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October Mortgage Update and Window Treatments

Last month (September):
Years left: 3.25
P =$1,030.84, I =$183.56, Escrow =$788.73

This month (October):
Years left: 3
P =$1,042.82, I =$171.58, Escrow =$788.73

One month’s prepayment savings: $7.90

Recall some of our windows.  We have two sets of these.:

So the first thing we wanted to do is get some of that professional reflective stuff put on on the outside.  One of the rooms gets really hot and no amount of crepe myrtle outside seems to be able to block the heat in the middle of the day.  Of course, that requires actually contacting someone and we’re still waiting for our bathroom flooring to show up. [update: they came, see last Monday’s post]  Redoing the indoors doesn’t require talking to anybody or waiting for anything, so that’s what we started with instead.

We tried going without anything on the top half circles for a few days.  It was hot and occasionally blinding.  Other viable options we explored were Faux stained glass film and plantation shutters.  We’ve looked into less expensive options like paper fans and turning regular paper blinds into half circle blinds… but none of them seemed worth it to us.  (The more crafty among you may disagree!)   Here’s a pinterest page with all sorts of stuff.

In the end, we chose Bali half circle faux wood blinds in coconut, with matching 2 in horizontal blinds.  Cost:  $108 for each small half circle and $160 for each small one.  Total cost:  $752.  Then there was a 20% discount (down to $602) and tax and stuff.  The blinds were:  $67 each for the 4 little ones and $96 for the 2 big ones, $460 total.  DH decided he liked the smooth finish better than the fake wood-grain finish.  I’m good with that.  Total cost including everything:  $1050.

After: 019_crop

So a lot less expensive than roman blinds would have been, and I think roman blinds are kinda going out of style, so dodged that bullet.  Laziness for the win!

We still have the great room, and for that I really want to do something I recently saw at an upscale hotel, but I haven’t been able to find pictures of what I’m thinking of– perhaps it isn’t trendy enough yet.  Basically they had a rich grey thick outer curtain, a satiny translucent inner curtain, and a third white blackout curtain.  There was a nice grey rectangular valence over the top.  All curtains were openable with their own chains.  I can’t for the life of me figure out how to go about buying that kind of set-up without hiring someone or picking and choosing the separate parts through several different stores.  That kind of set up, especially with being able to open the curtains via chain, seems not to be available as a set anywhere, even though I would like to be able to just press a “buy this look” button and put in my particulars.

I think we’ll also replace the vertical blinds in the guest bedroom with a blackout curtain one of these years.  We’ll see.  My MIL got curtains to replace the blinds, but we didn’t take the blinds down because they didn’t block enough light even if they do look nice.

Something we noted when buying– the cheapest options on almost any site have a ton of reviews but some of the reviews say things like “blinds melted after two weeks.”  The more expensive options don’t have as many reviews and some don’t have any reviews, but they often tend not to have any negative reviews if they have reviews at all.  We rely pretty heavily on online reviews, which we believe have increased our quality of life in many areas (allowing us to pay extra for quality and to avoid hassle with returns).  So even if the most expensive options might be perfect and we might be willing to pay that amount if the quality is higher, if we have no information on the quality, we’ll go with the option that has 60-odd 5 and 4 star reviews over the option with 12 (or 2) 5 star reviews.  (And we’ll pick that over the 900 reviews where 5%, all from the South and Southwest, note that the blinds melt in direct sunlight.)  One of the online places we looked at didn’t have any negative reviews for even their cheapest blinds, so we really didn’t trust them.

Boy do we hate this sort of thing.  Why can’t stuff just last forever?  Or why can’t we have someone who loves to do interior design as a hobby pick stuff out for us?  I kept going, “You know, DH, we could just hire this blinds company to pick everything out for us.”  But… we still have to *pick* a company, and if we’re going to do that, we might as well just pick the blinds instead.  So we did.

How do you figure out these kinds of large home improvement purchases?  It’s easy to compare when it’s a water heater or what have you– but these kinds of aesthetic choices are so difficult for us.  Do you use online reviews (and what do you do when there aren’t any) or hire an interior decorator (and how do you find one)?  Do you just “buy this look”?  (And from where?)

Link love

Another instant classic by Scalzi.  Also glitter and Chris Kluwe continues to be awesome.

Emma Watson

donate now and help corrupt young minds!

Crappy things I made tumblr.


memo to self to keep this in mind

This is cool.  I totes want to go into DC1’s computer class and do it.

fascinating!  I wonder if DC2’s gut is different than DC1’s because of the lack of wheat… (and I eat less wheat than the rest of the family)

hey look

stock photos are weird

mobile showers

I don’t know if we link-loved this result before, but I guess it’s worth repeating

Ask your comradde about toxic family members

Hard PNIS science!

hot dog math

wrong crowd small cat

An evaluation of course evaluations.

butt horn or but thorn?  You decide.

Ok, I’m just going to ignore the huge amount of links that #2 sent me about all the interesting fun cool delicious things within walking distance or a short light rail ride.  Because you all don’t want to read and feel jealous either.

More donation links:

Google questions

Q:  What are things only New Englanders do?

A:  say “chowdah”

Q:  why dont i mind when the women that i love is grumpy

A:  because you respect her as a full human being with a full range of human emotions?

Q:  money is tight and my husband gets grumpy when i tell him not to spend money what do I do?

A:  try “discussing” instead of “telling”.  Maybe get on the same page about financial goals and how to achieve them.  Split your finances.

Q:  what does it mean when a man call his wife his significant other

A:  why don’t you ask him what he means?

Q:  did u missed your friends in high school

A:  In high school we MADE friends! (That we still have!)

Q:  how can my child to college when i make minimum wage

A:  We’re glad you asked.  Get your child to the college counselor’s office immediately.  Find out about the FAFSA and fill it out as early as you can.  It kinda sucks but there are people who can help you through it.  If your child is attractive to colleges, then given your lack of income, your child will be eligible for a lot of grants and some low-interest loans.  Your child is also most certainly eligible for waivers for application fees– ask about them at the counselor’s office.  Encourage your child to study hard and get good grades in school and high scores on the SAT/ACT.  If your child has a high GPA and high SAT scores, then apply to a range of schools, both public and private.  The private will be more generous with the financial aid even if it looks like they have a higher sticker price.  If your child does not have a high GPA or high SATs, then make sure your kid wants to go to college in the first place.  In that situation, if ze does want to go to college, doing the two years at a community college and then, if ze wants, transferring to a 4 year school may be the most cost effective option.  The military is another option, but note that the GI bill is not as generous as it could be or as it was a generation or two ago, so you should not force your child to go to the military in the belief that all of hir higher education problems will be solved.

Q:  how much money to give at a wedding if acquaintance

A:  why is every question about wedding spending?  Spend what you want, sheesh.

Q:  is the time away from my kids worth the second job

A:  Only you can answer that.

Q:  what to do with my cash

A:  paypal to grumpyrumblings at gmail dot com

Q:  how much should i expect to get paid as a new graduate

A:  …in what?

I need a sabbatical

I was supposed to get one this year.  We only get one per division and our two departments are supposed to split them evenly and this year it was my department’s turn.  Only one person from each department applied.  But they gave it to the other person who applied from the other department.  Then he got a job at another university and quit so nobody gets a sabbatical this year.  I am free to apply for next year.  But I have competition.

So much is happening right now.  I have so much work to do.  So many ideas, so many projects, so many revise and resubmits (!), so many conferences, so many referee reports, so many opportunities that I keep saying yes to.  I’m going to be traveling constantly this year and on top of that I have to apply for things… like sabbatical.

And I’m teaching a full load and I’m doing a ton of service.  And my classes have to be updated, except the new course which has to be created.

I think this year I will have to go back to working 6 days a week and sometimes after 5pm.  (I get to work before 8am.)

I hope I don’t pass out from nervous exhaustion!  And I really hope my RAs are good this year, because I need great RAs this year.  Luckily I have enough money to pay for RAs this year.  Unfortunately I didn’t get that grant in on time to get a chance of being able to pay for RAs next year!

Do you need a sabbatical?  What would you do with a sabbatical?


  • The internet thinks I have one of three things:  1. LPR or silent reflux, 2. a twisted colon, or 3.  an appendix that is planning to burst in a few days.  Fortunately the symptoms are supposed to get a lot worse before my appendix actually bursts.  If we fail to post one of these days it’s probably because #2 is en route to her new home and it hurts for me to sit up.  (See, it’s not GERD because the symptoms go away completely when I lie down instead of getting worse.  My symptoms most match LPR.  LPR is difficult to diagnose and most of the treatments are ineffective, so…)
  • Mint tea seems pretty effective.  Tums not so much.  Baking soda somewhat.  Mylanta, surprisingly not so helpful.  I’m not sure what to make of that.
  • And…. after three days of awful heartburn only soothed by lying down or constantly drinking mint tea… I’m back to normal.  Maybe it’s some kind of virus to go along with the cold.  The body is a mysterious thing.
  • And four days after that, my normally 5+ week cycle (or non-existent cycle, depending) has shortened to 2 weeks.  Peri-menopause?  Thyroid?  Cysts?  Weird reaction to weird illness?  Night weaning?  Who knows.  I guess I’ll wait another 2 weeks to see what happens.  I much prefer non-existent to every 2 weeks.
  • We made the mistake of buying bed-wetting sheets at the grocery store (either for DC2 or for the kitten who pees, or maybe both, we don’t remember), so now every time we’re at the grocery store we get coupons for adult disposable underwear.  Boy have they got our demographic wrong.
  • One of my friends has been trying IVF but the first cycled failed.  It’s very sad.  :(
  • It’s a busy week!  Hopefully we will be more entertaining in the future!

The New Flooring (and bonus toilet)

Before:  005


The vinyl is exactly as advertised.  It is not slippery and it is softer than tile.  If you can get over the dire warnings about off-gassing, sheet vinyl really is a good choice for a children’s bathroom where you care about safety a little bit more than you care about looks.  (The tile does look nicer in pictures than in reality because it’s just a picture of tile imposed on vinyl, but so long as you don’t look too closely, the illusion holds IRL too.)

Total cost: <$1500

Flooring:  ~$900

Toilet main parts: ~$300.

Toilet seat:  ~$40.  (Did you know these don’t just come with the toilet?  DH wanted a fancy one, so a fancy one he got!)

Broken Mirror:  (DH didn’t take it down, and it shattered when the contractor accidentally bumped it.) $15 if we replace it before they get rid of all the back to school stuff.  More if we have to buy it regular price.

Bathtub sealer floor trim to place between floor and bathtub:  $4

DH says that they sent one guy out to do the entire thing and he really knew what he was doing.  He stripped out the carpet and cut off carpet tacks that were embedded in the cement.  Then he added a thin layer of cement to make everything even.  Then the vinyl went in, and went in almost perfectly.  (There’s a little area behind the toilet in the corner that will need some additional caulk or grout.)

They didn’t cut off the baseboards like we thought they would, and you can see we’re going to have to repaint those.  Whoops.  Quarter round would have looked really bad, so I’m glad we noticed that they were going to put it in standard and we asked them not to do that.  The guy did a really good job getting the flooring up right against the molding so all it needs is a little caulk here and there, particularly at the corners.

They were able to do the full jack and jill as one piece with no seams, which is pretty cool.

All in all, we think it looks really nice and was probably worth the month and a half wait (when they lost the flooring and had to reorder it and it was backordered etc.).  It was definitely worth the expense to have someone who knows what they’re doing doing this.  If we were doing it, we would most likely have done it piece meal with seams and we would have been completely surprised by things like carpet tacks.  I assume we’d know to put in cement because we’d have watched the appropriate youtube videos, but it’s really nice that we didn’t have to.

Do I wish we’d done this earlier?  It’s hard to say.  See, we didn’t have so much income earlier that $1,500 would have not have made us make some kind of sacrifice, most likely to savings and peace of mind.  In addition, it was probably best to get the bulk of the potty training done on that cruddy carpet that is now gone as well as in our ex-toilet. Essentially, we lived with the carpet without major problems in the past and appreciated having that money, but it sure is nice to have it looking respectable now, and $1500 doesn’t seem like much to have it the way it is now given that we didn’t have to do that much to get it that way.

Now we can let guests use this bathroom instead of hiding it from sight and sending them to the guest bathroom instead.  Two guests could even go potty at the same time (in separate bathrooms)!  If we ever had guests…

So, I still don’t understand people who renovate perfectly nice stuff with money they don’t have when they move into a house, but I do appreciate the need and ability to renovate responsibly when stuff is past its prime.  And I do realize we probably put these things off a bit too long, but so far I think that’s ok.

Next up:  Window treatments!

What makes you decide it’s time to renovate?  Do you do it yourself or hire out?