November 30, 2005

OPO's Gift Guide - Roll out the holidays

Is your sweetie, sibling or dear friend someone who loves to bake? Then get this for him or her this holiday season and I think I can guarantee you'll be their new hero:

Of course, if that person is a "him" and a more traditional sort, he might be more comfortable with this version (or one of the other colors it comes in, available at Sur La Table or Domus. :

In case you can't tell, the barrel is covered in silicone, which is the thing in baking right now because nothing sticks to it. They have gone so mainstream they even have silicone baking pans in the grocery stores -- they're the floppy (usually red) ones that don't look like they'd stand up long enough to bake anything in, but they do.

How do you know if this is the right gift for the baker in your life? 1. Do they have a Silpat or similar silicone pad...or five? 2. Have they ever thrown, or threatened to throw, their regular rolling pin through the nearest window because their dough was sticking to it like glue? 3. Do they just love the latest in kitchen gadgets? If the answer to any or all of these is "yes" then you've got a winner.

Oh, and not to put too many options out there, but if your baker is a real pro (or thinks they are) and uses a French-style rolling pin, they've got those, too. There's even a scaled-down one for the junior baker.

Such choices! Give it to the right person and you could be "rolling" in delicious goodies in the New Year!

November 28, 2005

Something I am thankful for...a little late

This article is an extremely good example of why I don't fly over the holidays and I'm very glad that I don't have family scattered across the country (or world, for that matter) compelling me to do so. I'm sure something like that happens on a very small number of flights, but I sure as hell don't want to be on the "lucky" flight where some drunk idiot causes a ruckus like that. Because you know he'd be in my row, if not sitting right next to me, making me crazy.

I hope you all had a good holiday weekend, I know I did. My birthday and Thanksgiving were on the same day this year, and they were both wonderful and relaxing. The only really non-relaxing thing occurred on Friday night, when my food whore of a cat got into the (covered) leftover birthday cake I'd set out on the kitchen table and proceeded to eat all the remaining frosting flowers off of it! That was my piece, my flowers, damn it!! There were little chocolate kitty pawprints all over the table, at the scene of the crime as it were, and a hyperactive cat running around like he was being chased by demons until about midnight. Finn will eat anything he can get in his mouth, I tell you. I'm beginning to wonder if someone was doing experiments with canine genes in felines or something, because in so many ways he seems more dog than cat.

Anyway, I've been having connectivity issues at home and have been too busy to get around to calling my new cable Internet provider to find out what is wrong with it. So I haven't given up on the gift-giving guide, I just haven't been able to post the next installment yet. Anybody find any great buys over the weekend that they can actually comment on?

November 22, 2005

OPO's Holiday Gift-Giving Guide

It looks like I'm going to have to just hop in with both feet and submit myself to the whim of a market force more powerful than I: Halthankmas.

You may not be familiar with the term, but you know exactly what I'm talking about; the way Halloween candy and decorations appear in stores before kids even go back to school, then Thanksgiving cards and magazines touting strategies for preparing the big meal show up a few weeks before Halloween even hits, Christmas ornaments are in stores before you even buy your turkey, of course, and you're swept up in the flurry of day-after-Thanksgiving shopping. (And if you're not swept up in it, you're grousing about it.) It's Halthankmas season from the time that first pumpkin-shaped chocolate gets placed on a store shelf until the last roll of Santa wrapping paper sells for 90% off in the clearance bin.

Now Black Friday is almost upon is and it will not be denied. In our Internet-driven world, we also have Black Monday to add to the stable of Halthankmas milestones.

In the interest of making the next month slightly more interesting for me and (hopefully) slightly less insane for you, I'm planning to share with you those unusual, offbeat or just neat gift ideas that I come across while doing my own shopping, window or otherwise. As I am a big fan of the bargain, you can expect that they won't break the bank. And because I like spending other peoples' money even more than my own, please feel free to ask for suggestions on gifts for those hard-to-shop-for people on your list. I can't guarantee you'll rush out and buy/order what I come up with, but I can guarantee that I'll come up with something!

Since, let's face it, one of my favorite things in life is food -- especially from the essential chocolate food group -- it's fitting that my first tidbit relate to that. From Sur La Table, may I present a chocolate-covered strawberry glass ornament for your gift-giving consideration:

How freaking cute is that? And, at under $10, it's a steal. Go forth and shop.

November 19, 2005

It's a housewarming for Finn! BYOC*

It took me a long time to find just the right cat tree to get for Finn -- I'm picky and it seemed that all of them were too short, too tall, too expensive, too chintzy, too ugly or just plain didn't have the features I wanted. Today I found the one that came closest to matching all my requirements. It's not perfect but he doesn't seem to mind. (All photos are courtesy of Ed.)

This is him checking out the new pad and gradually getting used to being up that high.

This is the look I typically get from him when he's tired of me taking his picture.

Here he's checking out things below and
strangely reminding me of Batkitty.

It's a loooong way down to the bottom from up there.

Hey, is that a mouse down there?

That Stefani chick ain't got nothing on Finn
when it comes to Luxurious.

What the hell are you doing down there?

He enjoyed exploring it so much that he didn't realize for a whole half hour that his dinner was out, which if you knew how ravenous and obsessive Finn is about his food you'd realize is quite extraordinary. It has been great for letting him get his ya-yas out and expending some of that excess kitty energy. Worth the money already!

*Bring your own catnip.

November 07, 2005

Hey! Where the hell have I been?

You know it has been too long since you blogged when your mom starts asking if you're "ever going to post again" and she only remembers to read it now and again. (You also know it has been too long when you hit "publish" instead of "preview" by accident, mid-way through your triumphant return post. Duh.)

I've been around, but mostly uninspired would be the best way to put it. There have also been the occasional Internet-related miscues that thwarted some attempts when I actually was in the mood to write. My living situation has changed somewhat, and there was a period of time when connectivity wasn't certain. During my "time off" I also took a week off from work and ended up being somewhere I couldn't get online. I didn't know such places still existed. They do.

Dear cbeck (who posts even less frequently than I these days) enquired as to whether an earthquake had gotten me. Happily, no. Unhappily, however, it's about the only natural disaster left on FEMA's checklist, isn't it? The phrase "it's only a matter of time" has been on people's minds around here, I do believe.

Speaking of people around here, if you live in California, I have only one request/demand/plea/whatever-it-takes for you:

Thank you. We will now return to our regularly scheduled catblogging.