19 October, 2006

sound the trumpets

While I don't mean to make only two posts a month, that seems to be what I am averaging. I have been doing a lot of things, but with school+work+angst I haven't had the desire to bother photographing anything, much less writing about it. I'm obsessed with school school school and mail, which gets pretty boring, even to my classmates and employees. I'm going to try out the 'take a picture every day' challenge, although I think I'll only post those every week (or every month) so I'm not spending hours a day culling through photos to post the perfect one. In the meantime, things are going well. We've burned two batches of brownies (and eaten them anyway), are well into our fall quarter here and wondering why 10 weeks are so looooooong, I'm forcing myself to get back to sewing (including making Laura a Wednesday Addams costume. I actually was Wednesday every year for a while, until we stopped doing anything halloween- related.) That's about it. Here's the Mister, mocking me with his ability to sleep.

05 October, 2006


So I went back to my shiny new 'insurance-covered' chiro this Tuesday.

Him: Do you understand all the things I demonstrated before really slowly, yes? gooood.
Me: *thinking* can you please just crack my back?
Him: Here are 50-yr-old patient's perfect alignment x-rays. oooh, pretty.
Me: uh-huh.
Him: Here is your seriously wacked out, curving the opposite direction spine x-rays.
Me: uh-huh.
Him: Can you point out where the differences are?
Me: *thinking* can we please not be in kindergarten right now?
Him: You need to COMMIT to my treatment or I will not treat you.
Me: Ok!
Him: 5 days a week, then 3 days, then 1 day, for 1 year. re-x-rays twice, required!!
Me: Ok!!
Him: Insurance only pays $480!
Me: Okaay....WTH??!?!?!?!
Him: Our office visits are $85!
Me: *stunned smile*
Him: The total is over $5000 for the first year of treatment!
Me: uhhhhhhh....
Him: Oh, no $5000? wait! it gets better!!
Me: *thinking* only if by better you mean my coverage jumped to $5000!!!!
Him: We can take out the bookeeping...now is only $3500!!!
Me: uh-huh.
Cam: *shakes head every time doctor is not looking at him.*
Him: IF you pay up front, we can take off 10%!!!
Me: *just stare.*
Him: let me um...let you think about it. *runs away*
Me and Cam: Hell. No.
Him *comes back in* Have you thought about it? Here are financing options. *hand over pamphlet* My assistant usually takes care of this. *RUNS AWAY*
Me and Cam: $65 a month for 5 damn years??? For just one of us? HELL NO AGAIN.
Assistant: Soooooo.....*is really nice and sympathetic*
Me & Cam: Can't pay, sorry sorry.
Assistant: Is totally ok, I totally understand, and I am the nicest assistant EVAR!!!!
Him: *Has vanished entirely*
Cam and I: * walk out and go buy a set of knives*
Hooray knives!!! (Ours have the black handles)

14 September, 2006

Today's Episode: Fun with the IRS

Back in The Day I worked for Kumon (a Kumon) for a lady named Betty. I had tutored English before for college students at Gavilan, and decided that it sounded like a fun job to work with kids and just have to follow the set worksheets and administer tests. Working for Betty was pretty hectic; she would often disappear to China for weeks at a time, or to conferences for Kumon, and I wound up opening, closing, and answering lots of questions. It got to be slightly hellish right before I left (because I was moving to Santa Cruz), and it isn't as if it were a high-paying job with really great skills required (believe me; I met my coworkers. Read English? only slightly, thanks). She was pretty frantic when I left, insisting I find a replacement for myself even though I had told her from the beginning I was leaving in September. I didn't find a replacement. I also found out that all those 'conference trips' she took she never actually went anywhere. She is obviously all sorts of crazy.

Fast forward to tax-form and student aid application time, and I get a statement of earnings from Betty. Except she had me listed as an independent contractor. hahahaaaa, noooo way lady. I filed an S-#screwyoutothewallfortryingtoevadetheIRS form, saying that I WAS an employee, I had set hours, I did not provide tutoring or any other services apart from Kumon work (which at the time I thankfully did not) and sent in the form. Betty started calling and leaving messages, asking me to call her back, which I did not do. I've talked to the woman on the phone before, and believe me I had better ways to spend an afternoon of my life. Plus I don't know Chinese, which made those conversations even more interesting. I know she's in deep trouble from the IRS for not reporting any of her employees as such, for probably not reporting her earnings, and for running her Kumon centers in ways that are probably going to get her title revoked.

aaanyhow, this morning (7:30 AM yo!) a lady calls, saying she is working on my case, and asks me some questions, especially where what I wrote and what Betty wrote contradicted each other. Like: "she wrote that you did not receive any training from Kumon and came in with the skills already" huh? I was not born with the knowledge of the almighty Kumon process encoded in my mitochondria. I told her no, she taught me how to administer the packets. "She wrote that you provided tutoring for people on your own outside of Kumon". Nope!!! She wanted to me to, she ASKED me to, other employees had, but I never did. "You wrote under expenses that you did not have any; she said that your provided pencils and paper." nooo, the only things they wrote on were the packets provided by Kumon. I did not provide diddly. Some of the kids brought their OWN paper and pencils, and worked on their homework, which I occasionally helped them with because I am NICE and I had nothing else to do, but it was always on Kumon's dime. "She said that you were free to come and go as you pleased". No, technically I could have just left, but we had set times she wanted us there, and occasionally I did have to leave early because I had a class, but I didn't just show up whenever I wanted. "You wrote that you had to open and close...is it like a real estate office, where everyone has a key?" No, because she rented from schools and churches, so she had a key and then the copy went to whoever was opening/closing. I told her all that. Near the end I think she could hear how annoyed I was, and she said "I've already determined that you were an employee, I just had to go over a few of these things with you". She was really nice, and sounded kind of amused by the whole thing, asking why I had filed the form (I told her, because I received the wrong form from Betty, saying I was an independent contractor, so I filed the paperwork to say I wasn't.

I may have to pay a little to the IRS, because none of my earnings were withheld (although I doubt it, since we are in the 'not enough money to eat dirt with' tax bracket), and I will have to refile and claim the earnings (although I am pretty sure I already did that, so it shouldn't be a problem). Hooray for financial resolutions! Hooray for not getting screwed out of 40%+ of my earnings! Hooray for crazy lady finally getting called up (she shoplifts! She does! It's been in the papers! She's rich though! Her husband is a doctor!). Moral of the story: do not work for crazy people. Also do not give them your cell phone number.

Back to studying. I will conquer the Japanese! I will!!! The pic is the view from my window of a sunset when I first moved here. ahhh. so soothing.

31 August, 2006

shoes prettified

Back in, oh, May or so (March? April?) I managed to fall down a hill with no provocation. Trick ankles. One of those things, you know. Genetic easter eggs. In addition to permanently discoloring my leg (which is REALLY weird, and somewhat disturbing. Whenever I look at my leg, that is) I also ripped a hole in the toe of my pink maryjanes. Rather than have a pair of essentially unwearable shoes I finally decided to cover the toes. I used some leftover fabric from the green coat, backstitching it over with pink thread, and then embroidered over with some pink floss. The insoles were all twisted and shredding, so I pulled them out, used the old fabric covers to cut new ones out of this pink clown flannel I inherited, sewed around the edge and stuck them back in. verrrry comfy. I'm proud of myself. yay!

25 August, 2006

wool skirt resized

I got this really well-made wool skirt at a thrift store, discounted to about $1.50. Which is awesome! Except for it being a 24W, when I am certainly not. Since I can hit about an 8, I decided to bring it in just a touch. I took it apart, slimmed each of the panels about 2 inches and reassembled it, then machine-embroidered over a pencil sketch and added some butterflies. I love it! It is really itchy though, even with the underskirt, so I'm going to try to find a thicker silk to put underneath. Learned a lot about skirt assembly in the process, definitely a fun project.

07 August, 2006


K. (the 'kame' in 'navakame') and I are going into 'business' together (finally!) we registered navakame.com, and we'll be working on that together. In the meantime we also now have an Etsy shop which will probably be playing host to her FANTASTIC monsters, and eventually my varied creations (once I can get back to my sewing machine and room of fabric.) Maybe someday A. will let us put up some of her art as well. All three of us, working together. wow. Happy happy!

26 July, 2006

Getting better

So, after waaaay too much anxiety, insomnia, and evil allergies I am feeling a lot better. Cam cheered me up this morning, so I'm no longer anxious (and trying to stay that way), the allergies seem to be on the decline (although I would really like to find my pills), and I figure 2 out of 3 aint bad. Insomnia is one of those gifts that my family likes to pass from one generation to another. thankooooo so much! My family has many wonderful genetic gifts, the more interesting of which I have inherited in force. Most of which I plan to pass on to my children. mwahahaha.

I made lasagna! Out of scraps of food; once the lasagna is gone we have: boxes and boxes of pasta. Think we can make it through August without buying groceries? Do ya? Here's hoping!!!! :) I got hired for the PACT camp this year, so hooray for almost a week of free food and money-making! I'm hoping I get the check by September, so we can actually buy our books...positive! staying positive! Shiranne is coming back soon! I am going to watch movies with her! hoooraaay! This is her in Israel; she is lovely and beautiful and awesome and I wish we were closely related.

Lasagna Primavera (ok, it's summer, big deal)

1 can whole tomatoes
1 fresh tomato
2 spoonfulls minced garlic
1/2 pkg frozen spinach
1 bunch chopped celery
1 small bag of baby carrots, chopped
1 can mushrooms, drained
Olive Oil
1 box lasagna noodles
Mozzarella Cheese

Throw all the ingredients excepts the noodles and cheese in a large pot and cook on high until vegetables are soft. sprinkle bottom of lasagna pan with olive oil, and cover with a layer of noodles. Spoon half of the vegetable mixture over the noodles, cover with a layer of cheese. Cover with more noodles, the rest of the vegetable mixture, and another layer of cheese. Bake at 350 until top is browned. Good served hot; microwaves pretty well (but the carrots get sweet after microwaving).

19 July, 2006

SewRetro : the polka-dot pea coat.

I made a coat for the SewRetro challenge this month; I used the same pattern my grandmother used for my mom's coat back in 1970. Because I only had about 2 yards of the green fabric, which is also vintage form the 70's, I shortened the pattern by about 8 inches, so it hits at the upper thigh instead of above the knee. I decided to fully line it with a very light polka-dot cotton, which meant I had to make up the lining pattern as the original only calls for lining the front. I eliminated one of the outside pockets and made the remaining one and inside pocket (instead of a pouch pocket). I also put two pockets on the inside front because the lining fabric was so long :). I will probably add at last one more button to the front, so the left flap stays smooth, but I may go ahead and do the full set of buttons the pattern calls for. This was my first time making buttonholes, and I did it by hand as my machine does not have a buttonhole anything. What surprised me was how big the coat turned out. I had to make quite a few darts, which is odd because the original coat just barely fits me. I guess grandma likes to make really WIDE seams. I'm pretty excited about it, and it should last through until winter hits.

04 July, 2006


Yesterday I finally finished my sky and water quilt (which is fabulous, btw). I had to sew up a bunch of spots that had ripped before backing and quilting it, but I finished! Cam and I also jarred some cherries, and made a lot of jam, both cherry-plum and straight cherry. We got a 'new' desk, so we put the old one in the guest room as a desk/dresser deal, which makes me really happy (now people can actually visit long-term and not live out of a suitcase). I also decided to keep the bed frame we picked up from Shiranne; I have to buy bolts for it, and a few other replacement parts, but I like it a lot more than the current frame in there which we will be garage-selling. We're also selling the futon (once I replace the bolt that was bent) and a few other things we helped clear out of Shiranne's place. Now I need to put away all the crap we brought from Gilroy (the last of my things, hooray!!!) so that it isn't crap but rather mostly manageable somehow useful 'things'. Organization does wonders, believe you me. Then I can get back to sewing up some more projects, and hopefully at least cutting out the vintage piece for this month. I have to drive back to Gilroy tomorrow, blech, so I won't be very productive until after Sunday. Japanese study time, indeeeeed.
I love food netwoooooork. YAY.

Cherry-Plum Jam
4 bags of cherries
2 bags of plums
1 packet pectin
Pit the plums and cherries. Put them through the blender, add pectin and heat, boiling, until it has cooked down to the point that it is already 10:30 pm and you want to go to bed. In a pot of boiling water dip the jars and lids and set on a flat surface. Fill jars with jam up to 1/4" from the top of the jar. Close tightly and place whole jar back into boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove, cool, and put away. For cherry jam, simply omit the plums (which I did, because I was tired of waiting for the cherry-plum jam to cook down, so I dumped the rest of the cherries in another pot and cooked it seperately).
edit: My recipe came out pretty tart. I like tart. If you don't, add lots and lots of sugar. :)

Pit cherries. Sterilize jars in boiling water immediately before packing with cherries. Pour in to jar boiling water, covering cherries and filling up to 1/4" from the surface. Close jar tightly, place in boiling water for 2 minutes, and remove. Done! yay!

19 May, 2006


So so so... .

I have a blogger account so I don't have to leave anonymous comments; but who knows what it could turn in to? Maybe a recipe blog? Here's what I just finished:

Puerto Rican Flan de Queso:
4 eggs
1 8oz block of cream cheese
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 12oz can evaporated milk
sugar (about 1/2 cup; it's a matter or preference)

1. Set aside a clean loaf pan/baking dish/ramekin, a larger casserole dish, a blender/bowl+whisk, a small pot, and a spatula that won't melt. Preheat oven to 325-375F.
2. Place sugar in a pot and heat, on high, stirring until sugar melts and browns. Pour caramel into dish, coating the bottom (not the sides). melted sugar is very hot, and sticks to everything. Also, don't add water to help the melting process; it doesn't. Trust me. optional: pour hot water into the pot in which you melted the sugar and boil in order to remove the caramel.
3. In blender or bowl mix together remaining ingredients until liquid. Pour mixture over caramel, filling pan. Leave a little space at the top, to prevent spills.
4. Fill larger casserole dish with water, then set pan into it. Yes, this is a double-boiler. If you have a double boiler, go for it. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean. I don't do the toothpick test, but feel free.
5. Refrigerate overnight, or approximately 5-6 hours.

To serve, turn flan out upside down onto a dish, slice, and serve. You can eat it straight from the pan, like I do, but for presentation it's nice to turn it out so the caramel is on top.
This flan is a little thicker than others, because of the cheese, but it can still be very wet if it hasn't baked or set for long enough. It will, nevertheless, still be tasty. The caramel does make a syrup that can be spooned over your individual portions of flan; it is tasty and normal, and not a sign that something has gone horribly wrong. enjoy.