I need to whine

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Sunday night T told me he wasn't feeling well. He took his temperature and it was 100.7. I made him take some Tylenol cold and gave him the number to my doctors office. I also attempted to not stay to close to him because its not really a week at work where I can manage to get sick.

T texts his brother/boss and says that he's going to stay home and so is our roommate because his license expired. (He turned 21 on Friday.) I wake up on Monday morning and feel fine. T still has a temperature, but its a slight one, 99.7. I called my doctors office to see if I could make an appointment for him, but apparently I didn't write down enough of the information from his insurance card, so I call him and tell him he'll need to do it.

He calls me back around 11 AM and says he made an appointment for 3:30 at the doctor's other office because my doctor doesn't have any openings. Our roommate C had already taken T's car to go get his license renewed. At 2 PM, T calls me and says that C is still not back and he's not answering his phone. So, I talk to my boss and leave work at 2:30 to go to T to the doctors.

As soon as we walked into the doctors office, I felt this overwhelming desire to cough. And cough. And cough. T fills out the new patient paperwork and finally we see the doctor. The doctor takes T's temperature, looks in his ears and at his throat and decides that T has the flu.

Really? He couldn't have managed to get any other non-contagious cold, he has to go and get the flu. Well, at least its the regular flu, not the swine herp as the girls on P&E refer to it. I tell the doctor that I'm a patient of another doctor in the practice, and ask if I should have her call something in for me, since its damn near inevitable that I'll get the flu too. He writes us both an RX for Tamiflu and we leave.

The lovely Giant grocery store fills the RX right away and we go home. I Lysol the desk that we share and T goes to the bedroom. And then calls for me every 5 minutes. I finally convince him to eat some chicken noodle soup because he hasn't ate since Sunday around 2 PM. I guess I'm slightly psychic since I decided on Sunday morning to make chicken noodle while standing at the grocery store. T takes the Tamiflu and a few hours later, his temperature. Its 101.5.

Now I'm cranky because I know I'm going to get sick soon but I absolutely have to go into work the next day because if not, no one is going to get paid. We go to bed around 10 PM and T tosses and turns and sticks to me constantly because his skin is so hot. I finally fell asleep around 2 AM.

Then, at 3:40 AM I wake up coughing so hard, I'm flying upright and the entire bed is shaking. Then because I get even more whiny and emotional when I'm getting my period, I start crying. Which makes my entire head stuff up and I feel like I'm going to die. T wakes up a bit later and asks why I don't take the cough medicine in the cabinet so I can go back to sleep. I know he partially meant it because he wants me to feel better and partially because its hard to sleep when the entire bed is thrashing around from the person next to you damn near hacking up a lung.

I said "because it expired." but what I thought in my head was "of course you want to take it because you want to be able to sleep, yet I couldn't sleep while you were kickboxing half the night and I have to go to work in the morning so shut the hell up." Did I mention I'm cranky when sick?

I get out of bed and go blow my nose in the bathroom until some of the pressure leaves. Then the cat starts crawling under my feet so I go and feed her, coughing and moaning all of the way. I get back in bed and T asks me whats wrong. I tell him I feel like I got ran over by an f-ing ice cream truck because my entire body is sore and I'm f-ing freezing. Which then gets me crying again because it hurt to even think about how much I hurt.

T's fever must have kicked back up because he started radiating tons of heat and I managed to warm up a bit, just being next to him. I couldn't lay on my side because my nose would stuff up and I wasn't comfortable on my back. I finally fell asleep and just when I felt like I was actually in that deep sleep my alarm for work goes off.

Now I'm pissy and cranky again. I get out of bed, brush my teeth and pee. I go to flush the toilet and the handle that flushes it makes a popping noise and refuses to flush. I know that there is some way you can manually flush the toilet if you take off the lid, but because my head is so stuffy, I still can't remember. And I think "Now on top of every other f-ing thing I have to do today, I have to call maintence at the apartment and so help them God if they tell me they can't fix it today."

Yes, we do have 2 bathrooms but the other one belongs to our roommate. And while he's a nice enough guy and all, he doesn't clean his bathroom frequently. So the thought of evening having to use it makes me want to scream. Loudly. But I'm sure that would give me a sore throat and then I'd just feel worse.

So, all of this manages to happen before 6:30 AM. I walk outside to go to work and its raining. Yup, like sheets of pouring rain. F you world!

I stopped at Dunkin Donuts for my coffee and bagel which was relatively uneventful, or so I thought. Now I'm at work. The coffee tastes fine, yay for still-working taste buds! But the bagel is as hard as a rock. Like it sat out overnight and then they decided to toast it, giving it a rock/brick like consistancy. Only about a centimeter around the edges is edible so I eat that and then lick off the cream cheese, cuz well, you know thats healthy for you. The payroll courier showed up so at least I have that done. My boss shows up and I tell him that I'm more than likely contagious so I'm leaving as soon as the banks open. He tells me that before I leave I need to figure out this new gadget that we bought. Its a high tech gadget and he and I are the only ones who know about it. It also doesn't come with instructions. I'm sure trying to figure it out when my brain is already foggy is going to go over well.

Now I just need to wait for the banks to open so I can deposit money into the company bank account. Then I need to call my doctor and see if she can give me something for the coughing. Then call the apartment complex and tell them they are going to fix the toilet today. Then get gas because my gas light is almost on. Then get the RX's filled. Then go home and curl up in bed with Mr. Kickboxer himself and attempt to sleep.

Okay, I think I'm done whining now. :-(

Risotto - you can make it

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A lot of people won't even try to make risotto because they think its either too hard or too time consuming. But really, its not that hard and if you plan out the rest of your meal well, its not that time consuming either.

The first time I made risotto it turned out like crap. But the 2nd and 3rd and 4th time, it was completely awesome. So, don't give up if it doesn't work out on your first try.

I get the majority of my recipes from allrecipes.com. Here is the link for the risotto I made last: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Gourmet-Mushroom-Risotto/Detail.aspx

Print that out and buy the ingredients. Actually, scale down the recipe size because its freaking huge. You could feed a family of 12 on the listed size as a full meal. In my case, I scaled it down to 3 and even then, I only added 1 package of mushrooms.

Also, you can use any type of mushroom that your grocery store carries. Since making dinner is enough work, I buy the sliced ones so I have less work to do. If you can't or don't feel like printing out the recipe here it is, with my alterations:

Ingredients
  • 3 cups chicken broth, divided (I use Natures Promise Organic Low Sodium Chicken broth)
  • 1 tbs and 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb mushrooms (I like portabello or shitake)
  • 3 stems green onion, chopped (or scallions or shallots)
  • 3/4 cup arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbs and 1 1/2 tsp finely chopped chives (dried in the spice aisle is what I use)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs and 2 tsp Parmesan cheese (yeah right, don't measure this)
  • salt and pepper to taste
The picture shows an entire meal I made; broiled filet mignon, mushroom risotto and corn. If you are planning on an entire meal, here is what you need to do.

Create a assembly line. Get out the rice and measure it. Chop up the mushrooms and green onions and either put on a plate or leave on your cutting board. Open the chicken broth. Measure out the white wine. Now, prep all of the other food you are making. In my case, I seasoned the steaks, turned the broiler on, put the steaks in a pan, opened the can of corn, drained it, and put butter into a saucepan to melt with the corn.

Now you're ready to start on the risotto. You have about 7 minutes of risotto cooking before you need to give it all of your attention. The recipe directions will be in black and my comments/adjustments in red.

Directions
1. Pour the chicken broth into a saucepan and put on medium-low heat.
2. Warm 2 tbs of oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. I don't ever measure the amount of oil. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Depending on how dry the mushrooms look, sometimes I'll add in extra oil to really make them juicy. When they're cooked, put them and their liquid into a bowl and set aside.
3. Add 1 tbs of oil to the skillet and stir in the chopped green onion. Cook for 1 minute. Add in the rice, stirring to coat with the oil, about 2 minutes. I rarely do this for 2 minutes, probably because I keep the flame pretty high. When the rice changes to a pale golden color, you know you are good. Pour in the wine and stir until it is absored. Depending on how high you have your heat, this can take up to 2 minutes.

4. Pour the chicken broth into a measuring cup. It makes it much easier to pour into the saucepan. If you're making a complete meal that takes about 20 minutes, nowis the time to get everything going. Now, pour 1/2 to 1 cup of broth into the rice mixture. The more you pour, the longer its going to take for the rice to absorb it. It says stir constantly. I'm lazy and don't. So I'll stir it to make sure the liquid is moving around and then leave it for about a minute and repeat. When the rice has absorbed almost all of the liquid it will look filmy.
When it gets to the point that you think if you leave it another minute it will stick to the pan or burn, add in more chicken stock. (See picture for when I add more) Repeat adding in chicken stock until the rice absorbs all of the liquid. This will take about 20 minutes. I test the rice now. If its not soft enough, I'll add a bit more of chicken stock, even if its cold just to make sure the rice fluffs up enough.
5. Lower the heat and stir in the mushrooms. I do this when the rice has almost completely absorbed all liquid. Once the mushrooms are stirred in nicely into the rice, add the chives (I used the dried ones from the spice aisle in the grocery store), then the butter and finally the Parmesan cheese.

Remove from the heat. I keep stirring until all of the butter is melted. I also never measure the Parmesan cheese. The risotto should be sticky, clumping together and have a filmy look. Taste test again and then add in salt and pepper to your liking. I've noticed that shitake mushrooms and low sodium chicken broth still make for a pretty salty risotto.

The rest of your meal should be done now, so plate everything and enjoy!
If its not done, the risotto will stay warm for about 20 minutes. If your meal just won't come together in that time, keep the risotto on the heat, but very, very low and make sure to keep stirring it so it won't stick to the pan. You can also add in more butter to keep it moist.

Happy Risotto Eating!

The Problem with Frozen Lasagna

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There are days when I don't feel like bringing anything for lunch. Its troublesome enough to wake up on time and get out of bed, so why should I be bothered to think and actually prepare food for later?

I like the single-serve frozen lasagna's from Lean Cuisine and Stouffer's. I think they're rather yummy for being completely frozen and stuffed into a box. But there are some issues to this.

Do you actually listen to the directions and poke holes into the plastic or only rip part of it back? I used to and then I realized it was really creating a problem. All of my cheese would melt and stick to the plastic piece and not my lasagna. And the cheese is my favorite part damnit!

Theres another issue too. The box lies. Every microwave I've used has taken longer than the time listed to cook it. If the box says 4 minutes, it typically needs 7. If the box says 6-8 minutes, it needs 10-12.

So even though the box lies and it took me a while to figure out my cheese issue, I still like frozen lasagna. Other frozen meals....not so much. Healthy Choice cheated me one time with their new steamers meals. I picked out some meal, took it out of the box and realized that I had about 8 oz. of food in a giant plastic container. Seriously, there was 2 tiny pieces of beef, 3 potato chunks, 3 carrot slices and then some gravy. I paid almost $4 for 2 bites of food and 15 oz. of plastic. Awesome!!

My Mom Can Burn Water, Can You?

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My mom can't cook. She says its because she is the youngest of 6 children and she never got to practice on anyone. Unfortunately that meant that my dad and I got to be her guinea pigs. I think its a crap excuse though. All of my aunts can cook or bake pretty well. My mom can do neither. I think the cooking gene just passed her by.

Now here's how talented my mom is with her lack of cooking skills. She can burn water. Really, water!

Okay, fine, I'm exaggerating a little bit, but 99% of its true! My mom is an avid ice tea drinker. She makes about 1-2 gallons a week. Back before she switched to artifical sugars, she used to make sweet tea. And herein lies the issue.

To properly make ice tea, you boil water in a large pot, then add in the sugar once its boiling, stir to dissolve and then add in the tea bags and turn off the heat. Pretty common sense, huh? Well, experienced cook that my mom is, she also likes to cut corners. So instead of adding the sugar once the water was boiling, she liked to do it beforehand. Which lead to a lot of problems. On multiple occasions.

Here's an example: I was 11 years old. It was fall. My mom had decided to make a pot of ice tea. While she was waiting for the water to boil, she got on the computer. On the 3rd floor of the house. Then, because my mother also possesses the attention span of a goldfish, she was tired and decided to go to bed.

A bit later, all of the water has evaporated from the pot. The sugar is now corroding into hard, burnt sugar bubbles all over the bottom of the pan. Smoke is filling the kitchen. The smoke detector goes off. My dad comes in my room and tells me "Mom's trying to kill us with the ice tea". Its about 2 AM. So, I grab the cat, put shoes on and go stand outside on a busy street while my mom and dad open all of the windows to air out the house. Do you know how bad burnt sugar smells? Did you know that it takes a long time to go away too?

A few months later, she does it again. Same scenario. But this time its colder out, so I'm standing outside in pajamas, a coat, and shoes waiting for the house to air out. In the middle of the night. When I had school the next day.

Would you believe in the dead of a Maryland winter, with two feet of snow on the ground, she does it again?!?! At this point, I'm pretty used to being woke up in the middle of the night. This time, all my dad did was yell "Nichole, your mom did it again." And I knew exactly what it was. This time was the worst though. Every other time, it was white smoke. This time, it was black smoke. Acrid black sugar burnt smoke. And this time we needed to involve the fire department because it was so bad. Needless to say, I was pretty cranky. And it didn't help that when I went to school the next morning, I was sitting next to the boy I liked and I opened my bookbag and out came a gigantic whiff of burnt sugar. He gave me a disgusted look.

My mom would joke that she was just testing the smoke detector. Ha. Ha. Not funny! I was pretty tired of this little outdoor field trip in the middle of the night because my mom couldn't be bothered to remember she was making something. So, I bought a Mr. Ice Tea Maker. If I could find the creator of this invention, I would hug them. Repeatedly. And tell them just how awesome I think they are for saving my life.

Since that fateful day when the Mr. Ice Tea Maker entered our lives, we were able to sleep in peace knowing that my mom was not trying to kill us with burnt sugar any longer. So, she just moved on to the toaster oven.

Seriously. She has got to have the attention span of a goldfish. I can't figure out how you can decide that you are hungry, put something in the toaster oven, knowing it doesn't take very long and then just completely forget about it. Not just momentarily forget either, I'm talking have no recollection of even putting something in the toaster oven. Many, many times have I saved a slice of pizza, piece of bread, or whatever the hell else she was heating up from being charred beyond recognition.

One night I even woke up in the middle of the night because I could smell something burning. I went downstairs and lo and behold, the toaster oven was left on. What does my mom say when I asked her why she is trying to kill me? "Wow, you could smell that from all of the way up here? Thats impressive."

When she did manage to cook, it was always burnt. Sometimes even charcoal-y. I guess she figured I might as well burn it to make sure that its completely cooked. Meat typically represented shoe leather. Vegetables were mushy. Everything generally had that overall taste of being overdone. My dad decided her new middle name should be Burn It.

I was on vacation and I found a sign. It read "When the smoke detector goes off, dinner is done." This summed up my mother completely. Thank God my father can cook and he passed on the ability to me. I might go crazy if I cooked like my mother.

Whiskers, the cat from hell

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For as long as I can remember, I've always liked cats better than dogs. Dogs bark, slobber, need to be walked, and you have to clean up their crap. Cats are more self sufficient. You pet them, brush them, play with them, and then you leave them alone. They like being alone.

When I was 7 or 8 years old I convinced my mom that I needed a cat. The goldfish just weren't doing it for me on the fun-and-amusing pet factor. So, we picked out a kitten from a pet store. Whiskers was black and white, and eventually, evil and from hell.

Maybe I was just naive, but I thought that if you played with, brushed and pet the cat when it wasn't doing anything else, it would like you. My mom took care of the feeding and the litter box. This wasn't the case with Whiskers. I think he hated me from the beginning and it just took a bit to for him to plan revenge on me. To this day, I don't know what I did to that evil ball of fur.

His first plan of attack as a kitten was to sit in a doll house in my bedroom and stare at me with his yellow-green eyes at night. I'll admit, it did kind of freak me out at first. He was black and white so all I could see in that dark room was his eyes. When this plan failed to scare me to death, Whiskers created a new one. I like to call it the "Attack to Death While Sleeping Plan". If I moved so much as an inch while in bed, Whiskers would come hurtling out of no where and pounce on whatever part of me was moving, repeatedly, with claws fully extended until he managed to stab me and yell for my mom to come get him. And I'm not talking just clawing me through a sheet or something, he managed to go through the comforter and the sheet on a regular basis. When my mom would come in the room, he would mask this face of innocence and sit there, pleasantly on the bed like 'what happened? She just started screaming.' Bastard.

A few months after we had him, my mom decided to get him neutered so he would pee everywhere and in hopes that maybe he would lighten up a bit. When they say that men are very protective of their balls, they aren't lying. And that even includes cats. Whiskers was nice the first few hours at home, probably from the sedative they gave him. He quickly returned to Cat From Hell.

In elementary school there was this thing you would do if you caught someone looking at you. You would open your eyes wider and push your face forward in a "wtf are you looking at" kind of thing. I have no idea how, but the cat managed to pick this lovely trait up. Even if I was looking to see where he was (usually for my own safety) he would push his head out in that fashion. I believe if he could talk, that face would have been followed with "yeah beotch you found me. Wtf are you going to do about it?".

I guess torturing me while I was sleeping wasn't good enough because Whiskers came up with another plan. When you walked down the steps, you were in the living room and that lead to the dining room and the kitchen. We had a coffee table in the living room with a bottom shelf that my mom kept knick knacks on. When coming down the steps, you couldn't see this part of the coffee table because it was blocked by the entertainment center. Whiskers decided this was his new hiding spot. I get to the middle of the coffee table and he would dart out and attack my feet. His new idea of attacking changed too. Instead of just repeated claws extended pouncing, he now would dig his claws into your foot and twist his paw around to make sure they really stuck deep in you and if you moved, it would only hurt more. At first, my mom and I just thought that he was playing. When we both realized that he would do this every time  I walked by, we realized it was much more serious. A vendetta of sorts.


My mom commented that maybe the cat just liked hearing me scream or something. Which seems odd since I don't know many cats that like high pitched or loud noises, but maybe he was the exception. Or maybe he just really did hate me.

It got to the point where I would need to call out to my mom or dad before coming down the steps so someone could shake his treat bag and get him to go into the kitchen. It was really bad when no one was in the living room or kitchen. Whiskers also didn't care if I had shoes on. That just meant he could attack my ankles instead. I could never pet him either. If I got too close to him, paws would come flying with claws extended. 16 years later and I still have scars from this evil thing.

My mom decided that maybe it would be better for me and the furniture if the cat was declawed. At least then I wouldn't be attacked so much. Great idea, Mom, but it didn't work. I believe that while sitting in the waiting room and on the car ride home, Whiskers realized that he could no longer torment me with his claws so he needed a new plan. When you don't have front claws to torture people, whats the next best thing? Oh, thats right, your razor sharp teeth. Awesome!

Demon cat had now decided that biting feet, hands, and anything else that got too close to him, was even better than having claws. It wasn't that gentle nip of 'hey stop touching me'. It was a 'I have every desire to remove all the flesh on your hand' type of bite. Honestly, I think a tiger would have been friendlier.

Whats funny is how nicely he treated his toys. He had a fake mouse and a felt fish with cat nip inside. He would toss the mouse around a bit, but always put it back in the same spot and lick its 'fur' so it looked normal again. He would bunny kick the fish and chew on it, but would always sleep curled up with it, as if he was apologizing.

I lived in fear of this cat for about 4 years. I couldn't walk anywhere in the dark at all and most times I couldn't walk around in the daylight without being attacked. He hated me, plain and simple. I was 12 years old when my mom realized that Whiskers had blood in his litter box. She took him to the vet and they did some form of operation on him for about $600 and it was fixed. He was a little bit nicer then, I could walk past him without getting attacked, but he never would let me pet him. Almost a year later, my mom noticed the blood in his litter box again. It was some extreme version of a Urinary Track Infection that would cost $4000 to fix. Four grand is a lot of money now, but it was even more in the late 90's.

My mom came home from the vet with him and explained to me that we would have to put him down. This expensive procedure couldn't even guaratee that the problem would be resolved and he might end up dying during the operation. I think he knew that we couldn't do it. The last week that we had him, he was almost friendly. I could finally pet him and sometimes he would even sleep on my bed with me at night. Not to try and kill me, but just to sleep. Even for as much as he hated me, I was still sad when we put him down. Most cats live at least 10 years and he was barely 5 years old. It didn't seem right that he would have such a short life.

It took months after Whiskers was gone for me to feel comfortable walking by the coffee table or moving around in bed. We would see cats that looked just like him all of the time and I would always wonder if he somehow got away and was still out there, or was reincarnated as another kitten, just waiting for someone else to torture.

You would think this experience would have led me to never have another cat again, but it didn't. Maybe I'm just crazy, but I thought it was worth another shot to have another cat. I got Gidget when I was 17. Her history will come later...

Bacon Chocolate Candy Bar

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I don't know who created them, but apparently they're pretty popular in some areas. When I first heard about it, I thought it might taste okay. Sweet and salty at the same time. Kind of like a Take 5 bar and I really, really, like those.

The company I work for has a tech guy in Mass. He said that he was going to send us this lovely candy bar because we just had to try it. It arrived today. I was kind of hesitant to try it because well, its bacon in a candy bar.

Step 1: examine the mystery chocolate. I could see little pieces of bacon in it. It kind of looked like a Krackel bar so that made it pretty appealing.
Step 2: Sniff the candy bar. Actually, don't do this. It smelled like a Beggin' Strip. You know, the dog treat.
Step 3: Decide that you will probably never try a bacon chocolate bar again in your life and take the plunge and bite it.
Step 4: Chew, and get tiny pieces of bacon stuck in your teeth.

Well, that part was similiar to a Krackel bar. The taste...not so much. I'm pretty sure if you covered a Beggin' Strip with chocolate, it would taste exactly like that chocolate bar. So if you're an avid fan of dog food, then I highly suggest this lovely treat.

If you're like me and tend to enjoy "people" food, I would stay away from the bacon chocolate bar.

Hi, There!

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Well, I guess you stumbled across my cooking and other randomness blog. So, welcome!

About me: I'm 24 and I'm getting married in September 2010. I'm having a lot of fun planning the wedding, even more fun since we're now on a strict budget. I've always liked shopping for the best deals and prices to save money. I'm even one of those crazy people who gets up at the ass crack of dawn to go shopping on Black Friday. The most awesome thing about being engaged and Black Friday is now I have a fiance who carrys the bags for me. I mean really, what more could I want?

As a kid, I wanted to be an author. I can write and write and write. The only problem is, I don't like endings to stories, so I tend not to write them. I was into poetry for a while, but I feel like I lost that creative part of me that was good at it. And ever since I was 12, I had a diary. It started off in old notebooks, moved onto the computer and eventually ended up being saved to a disc. I can write and babble for...hours. What's funny is when I was a kid I used to be really shy and would hardly ever talk. Then one day around 8th grade, I decided that I felt like talking. And I haven't shut up since. My family finds it amusing that the shy quiet kid turned out to be the one reading a speech in front of a couple hundred people for high school graduation.

Let's see, what else...Oh, I'm sarcastic. People tend not to get it. I'm not nearly as witty as I could be, but I have enough to get by. On the message board for brides that I'm on a lot, theres talk of needing a Sarcasm font. I think I'm going to become the genius that creates this. Cuz well, that'd be awesome.

Okay, onto the Cooking part of this blog: My fiance is rather spoiled. I cook a homemade dinner at least 5 nights out of the week and I tend to make dessert/some form of baked goods on the weekend. Seriously, how many of you have that kind of special treatment? So he can never complain about not being fed. I like cooking and baking and I'm good at it. So I figured why not have a blog where I can share the recipes? Maybe someone will find it, try out a recipe and like it. You know, as in like it enough to be a life changing event. And then they'll come on here and profess their undying love to me and my awesome cooking skills. Or something...

(Announcer Voice) ANNNNNND NOOOOW, Intrroooo-ducinngg the Other Randomness!!! I decided on Other Randomness because I wasn't sure what kinds of other stuff I would get on here to babble about. I'm sure it will include work, friends, family, funny stories, weird stuff that happens to me, and oh, of course, my cat. Gidget Marie is my baby.

So, ummm, yeah, I think I've covered enough crap in an introduction.

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