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Just call me a ‘Bond Baby’

….as in Twenty-Five Dollar U.S. Savings Bond…baby!

Ah yes, it’s that time of year again.  The nights are getting colder, the days shorter and after a ten or eleven month hiatus pumpkin bagels are back ‘in season’.  Yes, it’s Fall, my second favorite season, second only to summer and Christmas if Christmas qualifies as its own season. (Which I think it does) Actually, if I lived in the Southern Hemisphere I could kill two birds with one stone, huh?  Might not be a bad idea. But yeah, Fall, you know what happens in the Fall…what coincides with ‘pumpkin bagel season’? You guessed it! It’s  ‘birthday month’  – as in mine! Yes, when the clock strikes midnight on October 1st my family (all two of us) begins a month long celebration of my birthday – kinda the equivalent of the Advent calendar but just for me.  Only child thing I guess.

Ah birthday month. It’s a shame its in October as I look horrible in orange and black, hate all orange food – especially carrots, and I was always stuck having to compete with Halloween.  By compete I mean like when your mom throws you your ninth consecutive surprise party, (at the ripe old age of 21) and tries to get all your “newly legal” friends to sit around the kitchen table playing ‘Bunk-o’ and drinking ‘pop’, and everyone generally has something better to do. Like laundry.  I just can’t think of any worse of a time for a birthday – well except maybe Christmas cause then your parents might try and stiff you on presents and that would stink.

Suprise parties aside, the culmination of said birthday (which hasn’t fallen on a weekend for as long as I can remember dammit!) is what I call the ‘annual trip to the bank’. I like to make an event out of it. You see every year; on October 24th (United Nations’ Day) one of my Twenty-Five Dollar U.S. Savings Bonds matures. Yes, after twenty-five years or whatever the gestation period of a bond is I get to proudly walk into the bank and leave $37.50 richer. Top that Trust Fund Babies. While your portfolio is de-valuing in this challenging economy my bonds are only going up – if only by 1/1000000th of a penny.

And no, I’m not bitter. No, not at all. Being a ‘bond baby’ has truly taught me the value of money. Who needs a shopping spree in NYC when you can use that $37.50 to pay off a nearly half of your monthly cable bill? And who needs a new car on your sixteenth birthday when instead your parents can hand you down a 1982 Subaru with a hole in the back right door, no back bumper (eventually lost the front one too) and the need to be parked ‘in the sun’ and ‘facing downhill’ if you ever wanted it to start in the morning.

Yeah, ‘bond babies’ unite I tell you! Oh and grandma, if you are reading this (which I highly doubt) thanks again for the US Savings Bond!!!! I am forever grateful!

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May your first squid be a masculine squid

Late Sunday night after running the Nike Human Race, standing on Soldier Field to try and catch a glimpse of Fallout Boy (actually I was more interested in seeing Ashlee Simpson to be honest), and eating the best garlic cheese bread ever – yes, ever, I collapsed in my living room chair with the dog and turned on the Discovery Channel.  Yep. Party on. I live an exciting live here in Chicago in these final days of summer.

As it was late night (almost midnight) my choices were limited. No ‘Dirty Jobs’, ‘Ice Road Truckers’, or ‘The Deadliest Catch’, instead I was left with a not-so-intriguing documentary on the colossal squid.  (Not to be confused with the giant squid who is, in actuality, very different.) Yes, the show was so incredibly uninteresting that I was unable to pull myself away from it for the next forty-five minutes…and neither was Myles. (Granted he was just happy to be suckin’ on a bone in the leather chair)

So now let me take a moment to enlighten all you (guys who had better things to do on a Sunday night) on the ways of our friend the colossal squid. (I’ll keep it short.) First off, the colossal squid is not what you find in calamari.  That is his smaller, lesser-known cousin, simply squid. Don’t worry – I was confused too. (Although in this picture I personally think ‘Sid’ (that’s what I’m calling him now, ‘Sid the Squid’) looks like a big tuna steak – but that’s just me.  Whatever.)

Second a squid is not an octopus. I have nothing more to share here. Just know that it isn’t an octopus.

Thirdly, ‘Sid’ is one big squid. He can grow to over forty-five feet and weigh over a thousand pounds. The only one that has ever been caught alive was off of Antarctica somewhere where it was subsequently ‘killed for science’ and turned into a squid popsicle and brought back to New Zealand so that they could make a show about him ‘thawing’ for the three viewers (and a dog) who had nothing better to do in the middle of the night then watch the Discovery channel.  *Note, the whole time I was watching this I was trying to figure out how we, the human race, benefited from spending a gazillion dollars on a squid tank but then again I sell social software so what would I know.

One takeaway that I did have was the fact that while the giant squid has tentacles full of suckers, the colossal squid has hooks that spin 360 degrees. Suckers or hooks we are pretty much SOL either way; that is if you happen to find yourself snorkeling in the Arctic Ocean.  Apparently the sperm whale is its only predator whatever they are – I certainly haven’t come across one at Sea World.

So here is my question to you. After about forty-five minutes I fell asleep – right before we learned if ‘Sid’ had a hectocotylus. (Basically before we found out of ‘Sid’ was a boy or not.)  My last recollection was of the crazy scientist jumping up and down shouting ‘a hectocotylus, a hectocotylus, OMG! OMG!’ but then it cut to a commercial break alluding to the fact that maybe it wasn’t a hectocotylus. Total cliffhanger. It’s been killing me all weekend. Anyone want to own up to catching this one? Boy or girl, I’m dyin’ to know.

A really great granola recipe…

That I managed to completely, um, misinterpret? (Yeah…misinterpret ☺, that’s how I’ll describe it.) And now, as a result I am left with nearly six pounds of uneaten granola (in the form of one really big granola log) that even the dog turns his nose up at. And no, mom, this isn’t like the “apple oatmeal cookies” incident of ’02 when I tried to substitute butter with applesauce, or the “Valentine fiasco” of ’98 (apparently you put the red hots’ in the sugar cookies AFTER you bake ‘em); No, this time I actually attempted to follow a recipe given to me by Mr. Engineer Boyfriends’ Lil’ Sister (MEBs – note, the little ‘s’, pretty creative, huh?). It’s just that when she made “the granola”, it was edible; when I did it, well, see picture below (paying particular attention to the un-flake like consistency of said granola).

The problem lies with the recipe. You can see below that the recipe calls for ‘oats’. Nowhere does it specify the specific shape, size, consistency or brand of ‘oats’ and so as I stood in front of the two aisles of ‘oat products’ at the local Trader Joe’s I was awarded a bit of ‘creative license’. Never a good thing — at least for me.  So while I have later been told I should have gone with the standard Quaker Oats, I decided to go all European and chose something called “Scottish Steel Oats”.  Apparently all oats are not created equal and this little ‘shout out’ to the motherland resulted in the demise of my granola. So while I can’t blame IBM’ for this one (or maybe I can, there must be a way…please hold ☺ ) I will have to go for the next best thing, none other then Mr. Engineer Boyfriend. (who can’t cook to save his life either) I mean guilty by association I guess.

I am including the recipe here in hopes that you will have better luck then I had. And yes, I know it is completely ridiculous to “make your own granola” when you can go out and buy the stuff on just about every street corner for half the price of just one of the ingredients listed below. (And, might I add, not have your kitchen cabinets chock full of eighteen pounds of dried cherries! Damn you Costco!) But it’s all about the experience. And making sure that no one tries to spike your granola with a little bit of coconut. Yuck. Total yuck. Like why not just lather the stuff with mayonnaise. Gross.

Oh, and while I’m at it. I should confess to the fact that yes, MEB, I’m the reason why there is now a thin layer of plastic caked on the inside of the microwave. Oops. No one told me I had to take the microwave popcorn out of the plastic before I nuked it. You said, “just throw it in there for 2:30”. So I did, just as I was told. Next time it’ll be different.

1 c chopped walnuts
4 c of rolled oats (I mean honestly, can we be a bit more specific!)
2 c of sliced almonds
1 c of cashews
1 c of sunflower seeds (total rip off)
3/4 c vegetable oil
1/2 c good honey
1 1/2 c dried cranberries
1 c dried cherries
1/2 c dried blueberries
1/4 toasted flax seed (no idea what this is)
1/2 c raisins (I left these out and added more cherries)

Toss the oats,almonds,cashews,sunflower seeds together. (Don’t include the dried fruit). Whisk the oil and honey together. Mix together until all the nuts are covered and throw in some extra honey for good measure. Pour onto a 13×8″ baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

Bake at 350 stirring occasionally until golden brown. (20-30 mins).

Allow to cool and throw in the dried fruit. Fingers crossed and hope for the best!