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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!

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Yes, I managed to run, bike AND swim!

And finished in 2:44:32. So now I think I have found my new gig. Yup, perhaps it is time for me to give up my day job and become a professional triathlon-er. Bagel shop by day! Triathlon-er by night. (Maybe I should work on the lingo first!)

I can safely say I loved every grueling minute of it – from the 4:30AM wake-up call, to the nice little dip in the freezing cold lake almost four hours later.  I would take the triathlon over the marathon any day.  No blisters, no toe damage, no three-days of immobility – just some sore “biking muscles” and the number ‘5026’ tattooed all over my body in black permanent marker. (Two showers later and it’s still there) I must say that the triathlon plays perfectly into my “lack of attention span” (hence ‘goldfish’) as the change up of events kept me on my toes – at least the four that are left after the marathon last year. jk, kinda)

I am also thinking that I will start the  “Angela Self School of Triathlons”. It will be geared towards those triathlon-ers who “prefer to prepare not to prepare” or “like to ignore stuff until it is staring them in the face”.  I learned this tactic as an employee at IBM (since unless it was happening in the next 24-hours it just wasn’t on your radar!) and will continue to use it until proven wrong, which is bound to happen no doubt.  I think I will charge enough to offset my expenses on the professional circuit. (Info-mercial to follow)

I will end with some pictures (of course!) and some other ‘Notes from Self’. *Photos courtesy of Mr. Engineer Boyfriend.

  • Eat Jason’s Deli for lunch and Penny’s(Thai) for dinner. Do NOT eat at Portillo’s. Shocking I know, but I did the Portillo’s thing before the marathon last year and didn’t fare as well. *Note, while the pink donut with sprinkles will also work, this should only be eaten when you will be doing the swim only.
  • DO fall into the “reverse psychology” trap. I did. This way when someone like Mr. Engineer Boyfriend says “you don’t stand a chance in the swim”, you can keep repeating that to yourself while you are scraping seaweed off your goggles and inhaling nasty lake water and decide “whatever, let them eat wake!”. *Note, this has worked for quite sometime, just ask the “iPhone hating guy” from the Blackberry post back in ’08 – he’ll tell you about the tree trunk episode way back when.
  • DO NOT know how to change a bike tire. It’s overrated. I just don’t think girls change tires. That is what we have boyfriends for. I don’t want that horrible black chain grease stuff on my hands anymore then you do. Less is more in my opinion. The less you know the better off you’ll be.

Wondering what I am about to get myself into.

I’m the one with the green goggles.

ah, iPhone. First thing I did was to get you back in my hands again.

note, I am freezing here.

The Cat-o-larium

(Yes, Ma Self, this ones about you again. You are just such an easy target. ☺ )

This past week I got the chance to kill two birds with one stone and visit the ‘rents in Baltimore while seeing a customer in Philly. (I won’t mention the fact that Ma Self and I were partying it up at Denny’s (yes, you heard me right, Denny’s) until about one in the morning the night I had to drive to Philly but oh well).

When I visit my parents I stay at my moms’ house with her and her two cats – Lucy (Luc-i-fur) and Bob. I am deathly allergic to cats of course – but this doesn’t stop Ma Self from contemplating a third cat at the same time that she is apologizing to me for the fact that “Lucy” seems to prefer to sleep on my bed. “I mean that is where she finds herself the most comfortable”. The cats don’t get along (I use that term lightly) and the third cat is somehow meant to alleviate the situation. At least that is what Ma Self’s kitty psychiatrist tells her.

Both Luc-i-fur and Uncle Bob are pure-breads. (Yeah, I didn’t know they made pure-bread cats either.) She paid the big bucks for them (more then Myles) but I guess if you are going for the hypoallergenic kitty one has to be prepared to spend big. (A hypoallergenic cat is about as real to me as the ‘seamless’ integration between Lotus Connections and Lotus Quickr but I digress.) Lucy came first and she was cute as a kitten but in true cat fashion she now refuses to speak to anyone except for Pa Self. With Lucy Ma Self had grandiose plans for a “scratching palm”. This would be a multi-story structure that would be wrapped in brown rope (for the scratching) and topped with some fake palm leaves (for the palm part). Ma Self lost interest in that project shortly thereafter and so in her living room now just stands a “scratching trunk”.

Next came Bob, the bane of Lucy’s existence. Bob demanded more then “just a tree trunk”. Bob longed to be one with the birds and the squirrels. So Ma Self tried to train him to stay in the fenced in backyard, like one would a dog. But seeing that cats can climb trees and generally have little regard for rules, Bob would scurry away and stroll back home around dinnertime after the rest of us spent a frantic afternoon searching for the Gucci of all cats. As a result Ma Self decided she would fence in her deck and create what I now refer to as the “cat-o-larium”.

So here it is, the finished product. Note how um, curious my dad is. He is trying to think of something nice to say I think. Oh and that is Bob in the background. He likes it so I guess it was all worth it. Ma Self did say though that this is seasonal. That when it rains, is windy, snows – basically not 75 degrees and sunny, the whole contraption collapses. Guess its time to go back to the scratching palm.

I gotta Run, Bike and Swim?!?

In January I signed up for a triathlon.  What can I say? It was a slow time at work — not much left to buy on the Internet and not much going down in the celebrity world.  At the time it was merely a blip on my radar – I mean it was in August! There were still six months of winter and three hundred dog walks (in sub-zero wind chills) sitting between me and that silly little triathlon.  Well, not anymore! I have exactly three weeks to go and I am officially about thirteen weeks behind in training. I blame IBM. I mean why not. ☺

About two weeks ago I decided to get serious. I ‘googled’ triathlon training programs (once I figured out how to spell ‘triathlon’) and managed to find one that advertised an ‘accelerated’ program.  Since the Internet never lies I figured I this one would do and dug out the cap and goggles and kicked it into high gear.

The running part was cake. I have been running ever since all the other sports started costing money and requiring better planning skills.  I have no idea how far I will be running in this triathlon thing but I do know that I have a super cute “running shirt” picked out. It matches my new kicks – white with some light blue highlights.

Biking is another story. In order to get Mr. Engineer Boyfriend off my back I reluctantly agreed to use the “clippy” pedals. I am not sure if you are familiar with the concept but for someone who can wipe out riding in normal pedals, clippies are a guaranteed injury/injuries. I was given a complete dissertation as to why I should use the “death pedals” to which I paid little attention but then I found some cute blue “clippy shoes” that matched my ensemble and so I was sold. Two skinned knees and pretty banged up elbow later I am pretty good I think. Well as long as I don’t have to stop very often…or bike in crowds.

Finally there is the swim.  Now the problem here is that I hate being cold. Hate it.  I can be cold when it is 85 degrees out – ask anyone.  This, as you can assume, makes swimming in Chicago really, really challenging.  For one there is the fact that the lap-swim hours in the public pool are way early and that chlorine turns my hair green. The second thing is that in order to get the real triathlon experience I was going to have to suck it up and take a dip in the Lake, as in the Lake Michigan – the one that probably borders with Canada or something.


So this past Friday I gave it a go. All gussied up in my wetsuit (which I might add is about the most unflattering of all swimming costumes!), swim cap and goggles I trotted down the beach avoiding the syringes and broken glass to the water. I dipped ‘Lucky’ (my big toe) in and immediately I was frozen. I have no idea how I am going to survive the swim. I lasted about twenty minutes on Friday and spent the next four hours chattering (and picking nasty seaweed out of my hair!).

Basically I think it is safe to say I am, well, screwed. While I might have had grandiose dreams of becoming big on the triathlon scene I think my only goal now is to survive. The same goal I wound up setting for myself when I signed up for the marathon last year. I gotta stop doin’ this. Hopefully this year I will be swamped in January and not go down this path again.

Oh, and can anyone tell me how long each event is in an Olympic Distance triathlon? Or should I just be surprised on the day of the event?

Phantom, Sticky and Lamar

While I was leaving IBM one of my previous teammates threatened me that if he ever came up against me in a competitive situation he was going to spill the beans about Sticky, Phantom and Lamar.  To take a proactive approach on the situation I figured I would air my dirty laundry here beating him to the punch.

I am an only child. (I know, I know, shocker, huh?) Only children have imaginary friends.  Sometimes these friends follow us into adulthood. Sometimes (as it went with Lamar) our real friends are forced to acknowledge our imaginary friends when they almost sit on them in the cab on the way to the airport.

Phantom and I have been friends since I was a kid. Phantom is a hand puppet so he is naturally very expressive, wearing his heart at the end of my sleeve so to speak. With Phantom I always know where I stand. I can tell when he is happy, when he’s sad and when he is uncomfortable. Phantom can bite and pinch too – a presumed quality of the hand puppet.

Sticky, or ‘Msr. Stick’ is French. I think he used to be American because I found him in Texas in ’99 but when I took him to Paris in ’03 he fell so in love with the city that he asked to become a citizen of France. (Finding him a birth certificate and social security card was a real b!tch!) Sticky is very pretentious and incredibly aggressive. He went after Mr. Engineer Boyfriend once – I think it was partly jealousy. Sticky and Phantom DO NOT get along, as Joger can attest to.

Lamar is the baby of the “family”. Joger insists Lamar is African American because of the name but being that he is invisible I don’t think race really applies. Lamar has no arms and no legs. Lost ‘em in the War. (Not sure which War but hey, I’m just repeating what he told me.) His lack of mobility makes him very needy but also really easy to take care of because I can leave him places and know he will be there when I get back. Lamar is Joger’s favorite. Joger used to let him sit on his lap when we would fly to Sao Paulo.

I personally see nothing wrong with hob-knobbing with the invisible.  And to be honest I don’t think Joger sees anything wrong with it either. If you haven’t noticed he is all over all three of my imaginary friends. He knows their name and will oftentimes ask how they are doing. (He used to keep in touch with Lamar over e-mail but since Sticky refuses to help him type anymore that has all fallen by the wayside.) So maybe Joger and I are like two peas in a pod. So take that as a warning my dear Roger (I mean Joger) – you spill the beans on P, S and L to a potential customer and I will make sure to bring up you and Lamar’s little “relationship”.

And yeah, I still believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

*Name changed to protect the innocent.

My Blackberry Can Do That!

Or at least it could have I think – that is before I lost it in the “transition” a little over a week ago. 

You see up until about six days, three hours and forty-two minutes ago I was a self-proclaimed blackberry addict. I mean who isn’t? Yes, I suffered through the dirty looks, the arguments, the injuries and, as of late, the withdrawal but through it all I was a devout “blackberrier”. In my prime I could text with the best of them; could easily pull off the “look and type” – maintaining eye contact with customers while making dinner plans under the desk. Yes, I could even look up phone numbers while driving…oh, I mean while parked on the side of the road. Yeah, I would always pull off to look for those numbers. Totally.

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and so upon my resignation from IBM I was forced to turn over my beloved blackberry. Kinda in the same way that one might rip a helpless puppy from the hands of its owner and cart it off to some cold, dark shelter. But oh well, I’m not bitter – nope, totally not bitter. (Twitch, pace, grit teeth) I heart IBM. 

So fast forward a couple days and there I am at the AT&T store picking up my new 16GB (white to match my dog) iPhone. I was immediately overwhelmed by this feeling of phone inadequacy. Everything I touched on the iPhone just didn’t feel right, I missed the track ball that stopped working when it rained and the two-day delay in receiving data. I missed that screaming do-do-do! sound when my phone cut out. I missed the brick game.  This new iPhone was trying to fill the void left by my blackberry and it just wasn’t cuttin’ it. Anything that Mr. Engineer Boyfriend, or the sixteen gazillion other people that asked to play with it, showed me I just frowned, looked away and whispered, if only to myself, “My Blackberry could do that.” Sigh. I think I should talk to someone about this. Take more vitamin E or something.

All things considered there was one thing that I didn’t account for. One comment from an old friend (yes, friend, you know who you are!) who came out of left field to throw some more salt on the wound. To let me know that there is one issue that usurps all the others I was experiencing in the transition to the iPhone. A stigma that is attached to each and every iPhone owner, one that I, (in the same way that I believed no one ever boozed it up in High School) had no idea about.  Something he referred to as (his words, not mine) “iphone douchebaggery”.

Although I do sense a bit of “iPhone envy”, I will share his ideas here because he, the unnamed, is too Web 1.0 (chicken 🙂 )  to create his own blog and everyone, even this guy, is entitled to his opinion. 

* Note, I have done some minor editing to remove the 42 instances of the “f” word.  

why the iphone is not cool – it’s too big to fit in your pocket, and as such it is necessary to carry it around in your hand, then when you sit down you have to place it infront of you on the table for everyone else to see that you have an iPhone (you’ll find yourself doing this – a lot) just so you can let everyone know that you can check the temperature in Lusambo in the Democratic Republic of Congo, if you really wanted to.  The placing of ‘large’ electronic items infront of you is unfortunately a key indicator of what I like to call ‘douchebaggery’…  it’s up there with people who pretend to be freelance something or others in coffee shops (or other eating establishments that tolerate people bumming their wifi for hours) who sit way too close to the line and make it freaking obvious that they are being creative by sighing and looking at the Word doc on their Mac…  Apple products have become too ubiquitous and far too closely associated with douchebags to be cool.  I will not be buying an iPhone…  blackberry’s cooler… especially when accompanied by “oh flipping heck” when an email comes through…  indicating I’m carrying this because I have to, works paying for the thing and I’m not going to buy my own phone too.  

This iPhone has become like a really pretty white shiny thorn that does all kinds of cool stuff including, but not limited to, taking pictures, playing music, twittering, giving me that weather in Lesotho, in my side. Whatever, it isn’t the worst.

“All About Me”

…but really nothing about me. Nope, this one is all about none other then my mother, a.k.a. “Ma Self”. And no, contrary to popular belief, she was not an only child like myself, but rather the youngest child, the baby of the family.  Not really sure which is worse – you will have to ask Mr. Engineer Boyfriend that one 🙂

To kinda sorta set the stage let me just fill you in on a few things about the one and only Ma Self. She is an art teacher by trade and an artist by nature. I don’t mean to stereotype or anything but for me this meant I grew up with an interesting mix of business savvy (Pa Self) and um, a complete and utter lack of respect for “the man” (Ma Self).

Yep, it has been Ma Self who has always encouraged me to give up my day job and become a lifeguard. “You always loved the water!” And Ma Self who gave me a “tie dye” kit for my college graduation.  Ma Self who paid an animal psychic to connect with Bill the dog (who left us in ’02) to try and understand how she could have raised us better – sibling rivalry and all. Yes, and it was Ma Self who named the dog, “Bill”.

It was a shock of course to Ma Self when I graduated college and instead of living off the land somewhere went to work for the biggest of all corporations – IBM. It was a shock to me eight years later when she decided to trade in the pens and pencils and take up Powerpoint. Yes, Powerpoint. And not just any version of Powerpoint – but Powerpoint 2007.  (She is way too advanced for all the other versions, her words, not mine.)

So over the course of 2007 and well into 2008 Ma Self took a one credit hour course in Powerpoint. I of course feel as though I took that same course – if only virtually. Yes, while the final deliverable was just a  single (as in one) presentation she could present to her class named “All About Me”, to my mother, the “Blank Template” one finds when selecting New -> Presentation stood as an empty canvas; one just waiting to be painted with jumping dogs, waving hands and ringing bells.

Yes, by the time it was all said and done Ma Self managed to create a presentation that broke every single rule one could think of in the corporate world. It had animation, it had sound effects, it was choreographed, there were different fonts, different transitions…there was the fact that it was 2.1GB and would crash everyone elses laptop except for my own trusty rusty T60. But the one thing it wasn’t was ugly. Although I can safely say her “movie” (I will refer to it that way now since it was way more a production then a presentation would not have flown at any conference to which I have been a presenter it was certainly a true representation of her – imagined, creative and inspired. I wouldn’t have expected anything less.

And so here are just a couple of my personal favorites – some of the smaller ones I could actually take a screen capture of.

(The “I Have Lived in 6 States Slide” is completely animated. With the initial click, a John Deere tractor zooms in from the right to point to Illinois AND makes a honking sound.  Another click and a spinning Alamo lands with a splat in the state of Texas. Click again and a few bowling pins appear in a checkerboard pattern over Ohio. Moments later a crab claws its way onto the screen and so on and so on. This process takes about ten minutes to complete and when it is all said and done the slide alone = 540MB, generally crashing Powerpoint)


(The “My Daughter Angela” slide. This one starts with a drumroll. And some flickering of the background image before a rather unflattering picture of me with a beer and a nasty green background appears on the screen. Oh and did I mention the name “Angela” goes screeching, yes, screeching in from the left and then slides back to the right.)