Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bad Neighbors

I've had some crazy neighbors over the years.  A few of them have been good, but most of them have been really, really bad.  After reading the prompts from Mama Kat's this week, I knew I had to tell you about some of the worse neighbors I've encountered.

When I was a tween and still living at my parents' house, we had a new neighbor next door.  Her name was Jeanie.  She was a witch with a b.  She used to yell at my sister and I when we were playing in our backyard.  She screamed at me for being too close to her lawn when walking my dog (who then left spite poop in her yard a few times, haha).  She put up a big wood fence facing the wrong way (so the ugly side faced our yard) and on our property.  Eventually she had to move it, but fighting with her made things infinitely worse.  Actually, half the fence fell down in a storm this year, so the people who live there now (who are super nice) actually turned the fence the right way so the ugly side is in their yard.  I was so happy when she moved, but the next neighbor was almost as bad.

Susan and her husband had 2 small kids, and she thought she was right about everything.  The woman lectured my sister and I, called the cops when we were out in our yard after dark (even when we were quiet and my parents were supervising us), and just grated on my nerves.  Oh, and apparently my sister's dog, a pit mix who happens to be incredibly sweet, somehow "threatened" her on multiple occasions while tied to an apple tree in our backyard (when she was in her backyard, on the other side of the fence), causing her to call animal control.  This happened 5 or 6 times, when the dog was tied up or in the house, and absolutely nowhere near her or her property.

I thought I would be home free when I moved to Philadelphia for college, but I had my share of crazy neighbors there too.  There were the drug dealers outside my window in my first apartment.  They were pretty cool, and watched my car for me when I needed to pack and unpack from my weekly trips back home.  Then there was Mama, the funny Jamaican lady who owned the restaurant below my best friend's apartment.  She was pretty awesome, especially when she helped us Macgyver our way into my friend's locked apartment.  And then there was the obese lesbian who live next door to me in my high-rise apartment who loved tattooed girls and creeped me out by trying to get in my pants every time I saw her.

My senior year of college, I lived in another high-rise.  It was in a good, safe neighborhood and had security.  There I found the worst neighbor yet.  He was a stalker.  He lived one floor up from me and his windows looked onto my bedroom and living room windows.  Apparently, he had been watching me through my blinds, which I didn't always close (which was maybe naive, but I never thought someone would be watching me from another apartment).  One evening, there was a "missing you" greeting card under my door.  It had a questionable stain on it  (if you're thinking the worst-yeah, that's exactly what is was-so nasty).  He wrote that he wanted me to take a shower at 10pm so he could watch.  I called security, and they called the cops.  The police wouldn't help because we didn't know for sure who left the card.  But my security guy tried to help me.  We looked out my windows and saw a camera sitting on the sill of an apartment.  He went to check it out, and told the guy not to bother me anymore.  Turns out he had a wife and child.  I gave his wife the card he sent me.  I hope she left the asshole.  I never felt safe again in that building again after that.

When I was pregnant with Goober, the boyfriend, the MIL, T, Princess, and I moved into a 2 bedroom apartment in the downstairs of a house.  The landlady lived upstairs with her 3 grown children, one of whom was a schizophrenic.  He was harmless, but I always felt weird with how he looked at me when he saw us outside and came to talk to us.  He always stared right through me, like he was looking at someone standing behind me.  It was so disconcerting, and after a while I made it a point to avoid him.  At one point, he broke into my car and my MIL's truck.  The boyfriend found him and called the police.  He told the police that a voice in his head told him to do it.  After that, his mom kept the doors locked so he couldn't wander outside at night like that.

His sister, who couldn't have weighed more than 90 pounds soaking wet, had the world's heaviest footsteps.  She stayed up all night because of her work schedule, and I was woken up almost every night between 2 and 4 am to her THUNK THUNK THUNKing footsteps shaking my ceiling and my wall.  The other brother handled the rent and thought he was a hotshot.  He drove a Beemer, took girls to the casinos all the time, and gambled away so much that one of his cars (yeah, he had 2 Beemers) was repossessed.  Oh, and he would fight with the schizophrenic brother.  We could hear them screaming at each other, and he would throw his brother into the walls.  He threw him so hard that ashes would fly out of our fireplace and the house would smell like smoke for hours.  This happened once or twice a month.

It got even worse when, during a snowstorm, water started pouring in one of the bedroom windows.  The house was on a hill, so it was a little window set high on the wall, and it was level with the ground outside (like a basement window).  We called the landlady and her son refused to do anything.  The boyfriend went outside and ended up fixing it by digging out a drainage ditch.  Then there was the big flood.  I was 8 months pregnant with Goober.  It had rained really hard all day, and when I came home from work and went into my room to change, the carpet was wet.  There was 3 inches of water covering half the room.  We moved the furniture to the living room and found a hole in the corner that went all the way through the foundation.  You could see the outside of the house through it.  My nightstand had been in that corner, so who knows when the foundation crumbled.  We put fans in the room to try and dry it out, and called the landlady.  She and her son refused to even look at the damage.

After a few days, the smell was so bad (mold and mildew) that I couldn't even be in the house without getting sick.  The kids and I moved into my parents' house.  We kept asking the landlord to call someone in to fix the hole and replace the carpets.  They did nothing.  So we looked for a new place and found the house we live in now, which I love.  We stopped paying the rent on the old house and just moved out one day without telling the landlady.  They were pretty pissed off at us.  I didn't care.  You should never make a really pregnant lady move.  They threatened to sue us for not paying them rent, and I flipped out on her and her son.  They stopped after that.  I am vicious when I'm angry.  I found out he was badmouthing us to everyone (we had some of the same friends), and they embarrassed him in public for being a liar to the point that he stopped hanging out in a certain town.

Now I have no real neighbors, and I like it that way.  There is a big office building on one side of my house, and the landlord's company is on the other side.  He has a landscaping company and also rents space to a towing company.  This works out well for me.

 Have you guys ever had crazy neighbors? Mama’s Losin’ It

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Chocolate Cranberry Hot Cross Buns

Happy Easter everyone!  I hope you all have a wonderful day!  I've been loving Pinterest lately, and I came across this great recipe for hot cross buns, and decided I had to make it.

I've only ever eaten hot cross buns once before, and I have to say, I wasn't at all impressed.  They were from the supermarket and were pretty gross.  I've also never baked anything with yeast before because I have an irrational fear of messing it up somehow.

But this recipe looked so good I decided it was worth it.  It was.  I am still terrified of baking with yeast though.

Chocolate Chip Cranberry Hot Cross Buns


For the buns-
21 g instant dry yeast (this is 3 normal packets, or 2 1/2 packets of the organic yeast I bought since my grocery store was out of normal yeast)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
4 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened dried cranberry

For the glaze-
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp hot water

For the crosses-
1/4 cup melted white chocolate

-Whisk the lukewarm milk, sugar and dry yeast in a small bowl. Set aside for 15 minutes. It should become frothy and increase in size (mine didn't do very much of either, but apparently it worked anyway).
-Put the dough hook on your mixer and add the flour and salt in the bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the melted butter, lightly beaten egg, frothy yeast mixture, cranberry, and chocolate chips.
-Turn the mixer on low and knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place it in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in warm place for an hour or so, until the dough doubles in size.
-Line a large baking pan with parchment paper.
-Once the dough has risen, knock it down.  Divide the dough evenly into 15-18 balls and place them close together on the baking tray.
-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover the hot cross buns with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 20 minutes.
-Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. While the buns are baking, prepare your glaze.
For the glaze, dissolve the sugar in the hot water.
-Once the buns are cooked, remove them from the oven and quickly brush them with a few coats of the glaze.
-To make the crosses, melt the white chocolate in the microwave in 30 second bursts on medium, stirring in between. Put the chocolate into a small ziploc bag, snip off the end and pipe crosses across the chocolate chip buns.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Blueberry Lemon Banana Muffins

Once again, it's Crazy Cooking Challenge time!  This month, we had to find a blueberry muffin recipe and make it.  I love muffins, so this was a fun one.  I had a really hard time narrowing down the great recipes I found, but I finally settled on this one.


For the Muffins:
-2 1/4 cup flour
-2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
-2 large ripe bananas, mashed
-2 eggs
-2/3 brown sugar
-1/2 cup butter, melted
-1 tbsp vanilla
-1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
-1 1/2 cups of blueberries
-2 tbsp grated lemon zest, divided
-3 tbsp sugar

For the Streusel Topping:
-1/2 cup of sugar
-1/4 cup of flour
-1/4 cup of butter, cubed
-2 tsp ground cinnamon

yum, streusel topping-my daughter ate a bunch of it from the bowl

-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
-Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and zest of 1 lemon together in a small bowl.
-Using an electric mixer, beat together the bananas, eggs, brown sugar, melted butter, lemon juice, and vanilla until well blended. Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined then carefully add 1 cup of blueberries and gently mix together.
-Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray. Sprinkle the remaining blueberries evenly over the tops of each muffin, making sure to push them down a bit.

-Combine the streusel ingredients together in a bowl using a fork or hands. Mix until it is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over each muffin.
 -Bake for 27 minutes until a toothpick insterted in the center comes out clean.

Everyone in my family loved these muffins.  The original recipe didn't have a streusel topping, but streusel makes everything taste better, so I gave it one.  The muffins also turned out incredibly dense.  I'm not sure why, but I would have liked them a little fluffier.  They still tasted amazing, though.  The blueberries were juicy, and the lemon and banana balanced out the flavors.  The topping made it super satisfying.  My daughter ate 5 of the 12 muffins.  I will definitely be making these again, and soon!


Friday, April 6, 2012

9 to 5

The boyfriend got his dream job a little over a week ago.  I couldn't be more excited for him.  His official title is "Project Leader for New Game Development".  It sounds important, doesn't it?

I kind of feel bad now about yelling at him for spending so much time making mods that he wasn't getting paid for.  It finally did pay off, just like he told me.  He got his name out there, people saw it, and he got hired. 

On a semi-related note, if anyone plays or knows anyone who plays Skyrim for PC, check out his mod Tytanis-The Ultimate Mod.  He's done some great stuff on it.

He's working from home, which has been a double-edged sword so far.  He's supposed to work about 40 hours a week, but some days, he'll get into a groove and work all night, and other days he's stuck and frustrated and doesn't work much.

He's also been really irritable when the kids or I have to interrupt him for anything.  So I've tried to be out of the house with the kids as much as possible.  I usually take T to school and bring either Princess or Goober with me.  Then I run some errands, come home, eat lunch, and take both the kids to pick him up from school.  We've been going to my parents' house every day from 3 until 7 or 8 every  night so he can have time alone.

I'm just happy he's working and looking forward to being able to pay some of our debts as well as more of our living expenses.  My parents have been paying my credit cards off so I could put food on the table for a while now.  I'm just lucky they've been so supportive and have faith that we will be able to pay them back everything we owe them.  I would be totally lost and screwed without their help.

Oh, and the kicker about the new job is that his dad finally got back to him about working doing powerwashing the day after he accepted the computer job.  The man has been putting him off since last August, and he finally got around to keeping his promise once we didn't need it anymore.  The boyfriend felt obligated for a few days to try and juggle both jobs, but he's not cut out for manual labor, and there's no reason he should jeopardize his dream job because he feels obligated to his dad (who always falls through on him anyway)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book Review: A Song of Ice and Fire Series

Have you heard of a Song of Ice and Fire?  What about A Game of Thrones (you know, the hit HBO series)?  If you haven't, I think you may be living under a rock, and you have definitely been missing out.

 The book series is by George R.R. Martin.  The series will be a total of 7 books long, but here are the ones that currently exist: A Game of Thrones,  A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons.

I've read them all, and each one is amazing.  The series is addictive, and is just as good (maybe better) than The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Even though it is a fantasy series (mostly because there are dragons), it reads a lot like a great medieval fiction.  The books are roughly 1000 pages each, but I swear, they're really easy to get through, and they suck the reader into their world.

If you've seen the HBO series, it has so far covered much of the first book.  If you like the show, you will not be disappointed by the books.  If you love the books but haven't seen the show, you should also make a point to watch it-it does not disappoint.

The series is about the fictional Seven Kingdoms, where a power struggle is going on between the main houses: Baratheon, Lannister, Stark, and Targaryen.  After an incident in which the current king is killed (sorry I'm being vague, I don't want to write spoilers), these families vie to control the Seven Kingdoms.

It's also a world where each season can last years.  A long summer is ending, and winter is coming.  This brings further challenges by awakening creatures that have been dormant so long they're the stuff of fairytales and legend.

The series is full of war, death, intrigue, incest, and dragons (I'm really into the dragons, if you couldn't tell).  Although the plot is complex, each chapter is written from the POV of a different character.  All the main characters are fleshed out incredibly well, even though many of them are characters the reader will love to hate.

I highly recommend this series to everyone who loves fantasy, medieval historical fiction, dragons, and everyone who loves a good read.  I know I'm eagerly awaiting the release of the next novel.  It is definitely one of the better things I've read in my life (and I read a ton of books).

I wrote this post after seeing this prompt from Mama Kat's: 1.)   Book review time! Some people STILL read books...share one of your more recent reads and tell us what you thought!  Since I love to read, and I can't say enough good things about these books, I knew I had to write a review of it.

Have you read A Song of Ice and Fire or watched A Game of Thrones?  What do you think about it?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lazy Mommy

I'd like to say that there is a reason I haven't blogged in over 2 weeks, but I've just been super lazy.  Instead of blogging in my free time, I've been reading.  Oh, and watching the first season of Game of Thrones on DVD.

I don't get HBO, and I love the series, so I knew I had to see the show.  Thankfully, I read a lot and therefore, I'm friends with one of the librarians at my library.  I see her once or twice a week.  She knew I wanted the DVDs badly.  Our library doesn't let people put their DVDs on hold at all, so I was number 100-something to get it from another library.  Except my librarian friend was working when they got the DVDs in so she put it aside for me.  I was the first person to watch them.  The show was awesome.  I'm now DVR-ing the new season at my mom's house.  And I realized it's pretty cool to be friends with the librarian.  I kind of want to get a part time job there.

In my last post, I wrote about my cat being attacked and falling out of a tree.  He's doing better now, but he's definitely different.  I guess he did get some brain damage from the fall.  He cries a lot like my other brain-damaged kitty (who happens to be the sweetest cat in the world but dumber than a rock).  And he sounds like a newborn kitten when he cries.  I keep thinking something happened to one of the kittens, but it always turns out to be Little Fart wanting my attention.  I'm just thankful he's alive and doing well.

The kittens are finally 6 weeks old and one already has a new home with my high school best friend and her aunt.  Her boyfriend is taking another 2 kittens later this week, and hopefully the girl who used to cut gym class with me in high school will take another.

We're keeping 2 of them.  One is really fluffy and I named him Jamie Lannister the Fluffy Kingslayer.  Yeah, I'm obsessed with A Song of Fire and Ice (the series A Game of Thrones is based on).  The other kitten is a dilute tortie and her face is 2 different colors.  I thought about naming her Patchface (another GoT character), but decided to name her Tyiron the Imp instead.  He is one of my favorite characters and I thought it kind of fit with Patchface since they are both dwarves in the book.

I'm going to attempt to get back into the blogging groove.  I miss it, so hopefully you will be hearing from me more often.