Sunday, December 1, 2013

BGR Chocolate Chunk Cookie

My boyfriend was sweet enough to pick up a Giant Cookie for me one rare day last week when we were not together. He got it at BGR: the Burger Joint. Because it's never polite to ask how much someone paid for a gift, I didn't ask. So I will be unable to assess its value, but read on for a review of its edibility.

Weirdly, but appropriately I guess, it tasted like a burger. Although each bite was good in itself, I detected a note of char in the back of my throat once I had finished swallowing. This may have been a fluke, because (fortunately) I only noticed this during the first few bites. After that, it became your average chocolate chip cookie, complete with at least 2 different varieties of chocolate! Yay!

Texture-wise, it was a little crumblier and messier than I prefer, but in the middle, it was chewy goodness, and the crumbly bits didn't negatively affect my chewing experience, and that's what counts!

The Bottom Line:
Taste: 3 stars
Texture: 4 stars

Monday, November 25, 2013


In case you've been living in a cave and haven't noticed, it's NoShavember, also known as Movember, during which men proudly sport mustaches (Movember) or allow all their facial hair to grow unchecked (NoShavember) (If you've been living in a cave, this is probably every month for you, so I don't blame you for not noticing). Ostensibly, this is done to raise awareness of various forms of cancer*, but in practice, I think it is more of an excuse to gleefully neglect shaving for a month and/or prove one's manliness by sprouting a bush on one's jaw, and the cancer card is just convenient to reach for when someone criticizes it.

My boyfriend is an avid participant in this sport cause, despite his less than stellar ability to grow facial hair. I have to say that in the last week of the month, he still resembles nothing so much as a dog with the mange. When he was just starting to look scruffy in the first week of the contest campaign, I told him, "I'm going to stop shaving for November, too!"

His response was, "NO!" Imagine the most horrified no a person could utter—the kind of no you might say if I offered to cut off your finger—and that's the no that came out of his mouth. If my boyfriend has one fault, it's that he has very parochial views on female beauty...but to his credit, he didn't break up with me when I did it anyway.

My reasons for refusing to shave in November are not so much based on cancer awareness (as I feel that not shaving is a kind of misguided way to support a cause, especially when there's no incentive to learn more about the disease or donate to research efforts or whatever, but since I brought it up, here's the Movember Foundation's donate page), and it's certainly not out of a spirit of competition (the last thing I want is to be known for having copious body hair), but it's pure and simple because of that vehement "NO!"

What do you mean, no? Don't I have a right to choose whether I shave or not? You bet I do, and I'm not going to!

It annoys me that society as a whole is so ardently opposed to body hair on women. It's ridiculous that hair on our legs is considered "gross" (like, on a par with "unsanitary") while the same stuff on men's legs is considered OK. And the same stuff on our heads is considered required (god forbid a woman ever shave her head—the world even freaks out every time a star gets a pixie cut).

This is largely a futile gesture, because ever since I've laid off the razor, I've been careful to keep my legs and armpits covered up. If I end up going to a beachy locale for Thanksgiving (which right now is a possibility), I will shave it all off, even though November won't have ended. Even though I want to be free to make the choice not to shave, the societal pressure is still too much for me. And that kind of sucks.

I hope that some day the rest of the world will realize how stupid their hair phobia is. And I enthusiastically applaud all the women brave enough to give it their own dose of aversion therapy. Maybe my little blog post will help.

Until then, I will proudly stride onto the beach with my unnaturally hairless legs and armpits, and wait in cowardice for the tides of popular opinion to change.

*At some point during the last month, I know I saw a website, no doubt left open by my boyfriend, stating that growing hair is a way to remind us of the hair that people lose when fighting cancer of any form, but I can't find that now. The Movember Foundation was started to raise awareness of testicular cancer.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cracker Barrel Macaroni and Cheese

I had another bad macaroni yesterday.

It was from Cracker Barrel, a restaurant at which I haven't eaten in a long time, but which I remember for having a fun country store and puzzles on the table, but an absolutely terrible menu—at least for a little mostly-vegetarian selective eater like young me. When I was a child at Cracker Barrel, the only thing on the menu I wanted to eat was macaroni and cheese...I haven't changed much!

Cracker Barrel hasn't changed much either. They still had a puzzle on the table, a store and rocking chairs in front, and a menu full of disgusting meat products. The waitress was even kind enough to tell us (there were two vegetarians in my party) that the biscuits were made with lard, so we couldn't eat them either!

So I ordered a side of macaroni and a side of broccoli and prepared to relive my childhood. When it arrived at the table, I was underwhelmed by its size. I mean, you can't expect much from a side dish, but this was smaller than most.

I was definitely underwhelmed by its taste. The first bite revealed the dreaded Velveeta-texture of Doom! You might not know it, but search my blog for Velveeta, and you will soon discover that anything that reminds me of Velveeta gets an instant downvote.

It lacked any kind of crunch or exciting flavors. The only thing that redeemed it was the noodles were slightly less mushy than they could have been.

I give it a sad noodle for feeling like Velveeta and another for tasting like, um, um, did it taste like anything?

 1sad noodle 1sad noodle

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Skittles Gone Bad

I opened up a bag of Skittles today, and my world was crushed when I tasted the flavor

Granted, it's probably been a couple years since I ate a Skittle, but they used to be one of my favorite candies, and I distinctly remember the green flavor being lime. But I checked the bag, and it said "green apple," just like that's what it had always been. Could I have been mistaken all those years of my youth, just imagining that green Skittles tasted good because I liked the rest of them?

At this point, I should probably mention, if you haven't figured it out already, that I do not enjoy green-apple-flavored candy.

Well, as I discovered on Candy Blog (which is an excellent idea that I wish I'd had myself!) that they did change the flavor from lime to apple earlier this year. I guess I can't fault them for wanting a little less citrus in the mix (after all, lime is only a few notes away from lemon and orange), but I can gripe enthusiastically about them replacing my favorite fruit flavor with one of my least favorite.

If I had to rank fruit flavors (of the sort that are used in candy, not actual fruits, which sometimes taste quite different), here's how they would go:
  1. Lime
  2. Orange
  3. Lemon
  4. Raspberry
  5. Cherry
  6. Strawberry
  7. Green Apple
  8. Grape
  9. Banana
Just thought I'd share, in case you ever need to know this helpful trivia when I'm famous!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My yoga flip

I'd just like to take this moment to admit I was wrong.

Three years ago, I publicly announced my distaste for yoga and ridiculed most of its practitioners as posers (get it, that's a double entendre!), but in the past year, I have become just the person I once despised.

It's been a long journey, from scoffing when a friend suggested I try it in 2006, to learning some respect for the practice in 2007 through a housemate who did it and yet didn't seem like a show-off or a lemming, to being grudgingly willing to try it on vacation (but still feeling relieved when it got canceled) in 2011, to taking my first class earlier this year, and finally to having used up the 10-class pack I bought on Groupon and feeling sad that it was over.

In those years, I have learned something: I like yoga!

Although it is hard to explain exactly why I like yoga more and more while other exercise programs demotivate me over time (I'm still making better and better excuses to avoid the gym), here are a few reasons that come to mind:
  • It's usually slow-paced, so I have ample time to get my uncoordinated limbs into the right positions (unlike dance, for example, which I've also tried).
  • No pain, no gain, but with other workouts, it is a huge effort to keep moving through the pain. With yoga, when it hurts, all you have to do is stay still. That's so much easier.
  • Unlike other types of workouts where you stretch after you're finished (meaning you're not really finished, are you?), in yoga the stretching is built right in, and you get to end by lying flat on your back and resting. It's such a nice way to tell your body you're done.
Yoga is not the perfect workout. I don't think it burns as many calories as a really vigorous weightlifting session, and I'm sure it's not nearly on the same cardiovascular level as a 10-minute run, but yoga has one huge thing going for it: While other workouts make me miserable, I can go into a yoga class grumpy and come out happy.

And that alone makes it worthwhile for me.

Though some purists would like to make me feel guilty for considering it a form of exercise rather than a more spiritual practice, I like yoga in the form it has taken in America in the 20th Century! A way to work out your body and balance your mind.

Although my 10 studio classes have been used up and I am too cheap to pay full price, I will probably keep doing it at home. Fortunately, there are free podcasts and websites for home-based yoga.

And in the meantime, I've started ice skating lessons, which I also love!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Macaroni and Cheese from New York Deli

This could be the worst macaroni and cheese I've ever eaten.

Although I got a hearty portion for my 3 dollars (compared to the skimpy underflowing 8-oz cup I got at Maryland Smokehouse), it was not worth half that.

I don't think it had any flavor, but if it did, it was that of cardboard.

It had none of those things that make macaroni yummy (that is, big gobs of cheese on top, crunchy caramelized bits, or even ground black pepper).

To give it credit, I did eat it on Thursday after it had been sitting in my fridge since Monday lunchtime, but I don't think even being fresh could have saved it from all its shortcomings. This macaroni was so boring, bordering on disgusting, that I couldn't finish it.

After a few bites, I put it away to give it ... dum dum dum!!

 1sad noodle  1sad noodle 1sad noodle

3 sad noodles because I've never been so sad eating macaroni! Not even Chick & Ruth's!

And to think I was looking forward to eating this one for the past 3 days!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dean & Deluca Peanut Butter Cookie

When I went to Dean & Deluca last week, the bakery counter was full of tempting treats, including bar cookies and brownies to die for. I bought several of those and found them delicious, but the peanut butter cookie of the Giant variety that I chose will be the topic of this review. I must first mention the price, which came out to 1.61¢ a gram, or right about average. I mention that first, because Dean & Deluca is known for being expensive, but that is not true of its Giant Cookies, at least.

Though Dean & Deluca has a reputation for being where you go if you want to break the bank, in my case, it's where I go if I want a broken cookie. My peanut butter cookie did not fare so well over its walk around Georgetown, looking like a jigsaw puzzle by the time I got it home.

In spite of, or perhaps because of, its fragile nature, the texture was very pleasant to consume—dense and soft, almost doughy once you got past the exterior, providing just the right amount of resistance to my teeth. It could only be improved if the sugar granules on top had been a little bigger, or maybe if it had been studded with chocolate chips.

The peanut butter flavor could have been stronger, but there was enough there to make its presence known.

The Bottom Line:
Taste: 4 stars
Texture: 4 stars
Price: 3 stars

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What did you today? Oh, watched a light show in my mind.

I had my yearly migraine today. For the past 4 years, I've had an ocular migraine pretty much exactly once a year. Usually it's in late winter, around February or March, when spring is just hinting at appearing. It was late this year, but last year, I had two, so I think they're somehow averaging out.

If you've never had an ocular migraine before, here's about how it goes. First, I develop what I can only describe as a "hole" in my vision. It's always somewhere on the left side. I'll start to notice that I can't see things I should be seeing, and I have to do a lot of head cocking to get the entire picture. I don't see blackness; I just don't see what's there.  The best movie to describe this phase of the migraine is the Neverending Story, when the Rock Biter describes the Nothing.

Naturally, this is a terrifying experience. By now I recognize it as the first phase of a migraine, but part of me still wonders if this time it's something different, and I'm really going blind. Or having a stroke.

The second phase is the sparkly phase. The Nothing is replaced by a crack, running across the  left side of my field of vision, composed of sparkling lights. The crack transforms into a big sheet of dancing geometric shapes. The phenomenon moves around, usually working its way upward and leftward. It makes it hard to see, but the right side of my field of view is usually relatively clear.

As time passes, the sparkles gets less and less pronounced, until they are more like a grey shimmer that finally fades off to stage left, like some kind of theatrical transition. The entire weirdness usually runs its course in about a half an hour. Today mine started around 1:15 and was done by 1:46, with only a little weird feeling in my left eye and an annoying headache.

Unfortunately, the headache  stays long after the show is over. Some people's migraine headaches are crippling. Mine, fortunately, aren't that bad—or unfortunately, considering they're an extreme nuisance but not extreme enough for me to legitimately take a break from work for them. I usually just turn off the lights and wait for it to be over. The worst time I ever had a migraine was in the middle of a meeting, during which I had to pretend I was fine and that I really could see the people I was talking to.

I haven't figured out anything particular that causes these headaches, except that they usually crop up at the end of winter, and I haven't found anything to relieve them.  A friend told me caffeine is a good remedy for a migraine, so when this one started, I fixed myself a cup of iced tea. Maybe that wasn't enough caffeine, but it certainly didn't do anything to influence the intensity or duration of this particular migraine.

At least one thing is relatively certain. I've got a good few months before I have to go through this again.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie by Ted's Bulletin

The second cookie that I purchased from Ted's Bulletin was a classic chocolate chip.

The texture was a little crumbly, but not too crispy. There was plenty of chocolate, whose chewiness mitigated the slight dryness of the cookie itself.

The chocolate was also dark and delicious. I would definitely take this cookie over the key lime cookie of the same brand.

I didn't weigh this cookie, but I'm going to operate under the assumption that it was about the same price per gram as the other Ted's Bulletin cookie I tried, which I rated at 3 stars. Maybe 1.32¢ a gram is 3 stars for a cookie I don't enjoy too much, but it's a much better value for a cookie I really liked. Maybe I'm being too subjective, but I'm going to call it 4 stars this time.

The bottom line:
Taste: 5 stars
Texture: 4 stars
Price: 4 stars

As a bonus, here is a picture of both Ted's Bulletin cookies, in the cute little dessert case that I stood staring at for entirely too long while waiting in line to order them.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Phenomenal Pumpkin Spice Cookie

I've reviewed ABC cookies one time before, and I mentioned how great it was to have a fruity cookie rather than a chocolatey one. I think Alternative Baking Company's strength is in those kinds of cookies.

The Phenomenal Pumpkin Spice Cookie is one of my favorite flavors by the brand.

I love how slightly crunchy it is on the outside, and how chewy on the inside. I would love it even more, if it were just a little moister, but I guess dryness is the price you have to pay for a cookie with a shelf life.

The flavor is mild, but not too cinnamon-y, excess of cinnamon being my usual gripe with pumpkin, ginger, and other spice cookies. So really, it's almost perfect.

Except that I've become more exacting in my pricing standards lately, and 1.66¢ a gram, as these cookies are, is only worth 3 stars.

The Bottom Line:
Taste: 5 stars
Texture: 4 stars
Price: 3 stars

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Anger Management Fund

Those who know me well know that one of my least attractive traits is a tendency toward tantrums over trivial things. I try (sort of half-heartedly) to keep my cool, but when I'm mad, there's just nothing that makes me want to get un-mad! So what's a hot-headed girl to do?

Well, those who know me even sort of well know that one of my other traits is an unswerving thriftiness. I have rules about how much I'll pay for almost anything, and it takes a truly desperate need to make me exceed my limits. It's not that I don't have the money; it's just that I won't let myself spend it!

And therein lies the key to simmering down when I'd rather just boil over. I need an incentive to curb my anger, and what better incentive for a self-denying penny-pincher like me than free money to spend any way I want?

And so I've started the Anger Management Fund. Now whenever I'm so enraged I want to spit bullets, I offer myself 5 dollars for unrestricted spending. If I want to buy a 60-dollar dress with it, that's fine. Some silly 80-dollar wall decal? No problem. 100-dollar shoes? Girl, that's crazy, but you can do it! (For reference, I usually draw the line at 13 dollars for a dress, 20 dollars for a pair of heels, and zero dollars for home decor.)

Though the logic is somewhat flawed (It's not like the money isn't coming out of my own funds anyway), this actually usually works to help me calm down.

Naturally, I have to avert several meltdowns before I've accumulated enough to buy anything significant. I've been using this system since late summer of 2012, and I've worked my way up to seventy dollars. Not quite enough for a wall decal, but plenty for a couple of whimsical pieces of apparel and jewelry. Here they are.

A bird necklace, another bird necklace, and a dress with a woman bicyclist

And in case you're curious, here's how I earned all that money:
10$ - For 2 forgotten incidents before I opened the fund.
5$ - For overcooking my green beans.
5$ - For forgetting to clean the bathroom, forgetting to get new shampoo, and banging my hand on the oven all within 25 minutes.
5$ - For leaving my clothes in the dryer for 3 hours to get all wrinkly again when I'd put them in the dryer in the first place to de-wrinkle them.
5$ - For overcooking my green beans again!
5$ - For forgetting to bring everything into the shower that I needed for taking a shower.
5$ - For having to cross H street twice while trying to get onto H street. On foot! (There was an overpass in the way.)
5$ - For getting ignored by customer service at Safeway.

(That doesn't account for all 70 dollars, but it does account for all the 43 that I spent on this last batch of goodies.)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Key Lime Pie Cookie from Ted's Bulletin

A friend recommended I try Ted's Bulletin in DC for "milkshakes, giant cookies, and homemade pop tarts!" So I did.

I was not in the mood for a milkshake, and didn't want to take a chance on pop tarts (which aren't my favorite in general), but I did purchase two giant cookies. Yesterday I ate the key lime pie flavored one.

It was definitely nothing to jump up and down over. It was dry and cake-like, and though not too crunchy, it didn't do anything to make my mouth happy.

I could not taste much key lime flavor, except in the icing, of which there was not much. In fact, I found this cookie so boring that I had to smear it with lemon curd to keep from feeling too disappointed.

It cost 1.99$ for 150g, running up at a decent 1.32¢ per gram.

The Bottom Line:
Taste: 2 stars
Texture: 3 stars

Price: 3 stars

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ebay Misspellings

I buy a lot of things on eBay. OMG, in the past two weeks, I spent $105.43 in 8 separate impulse purchases—I'm on a spree; I need to tone it down a bit, which is why I'm blogging right now instead of shopping! If only I had a dollar for every spelling error I found on eBay, I would never have to worry about funding my recreational shopping habit.

Since most of the sellers on eBay are average Joes and Janes trying to get rid of their old stuff, you find a lot of "average" spelling errors. Here are some of the most common ones I've seen in the Fashion department, along with commentary by me:

Mid-drift - from now on, don't settle for showing your midriff; show, um, the middle of your drift? Would that refer to continental drift, and in that case, would it be a fault line? Is a "fault line" like a "wrinkle?" If people are selling clothes that expose the mid-drift, does that mean it's OK to have wrinkles now? Can I throw away all those anti-aging serums that cost 30 dollars an ounce? Thanks, eBay seller! Your listing just changed my life!

Burgandy - Once in the distant past, I think I tried to spell "burgundy" the same way. That almost makes this error forgivable. But for the existence of spell-check.

Sequence - Now that is a real word, so I can see why spell-check wouldn't help you on this one, but still, I feel it is necessary to point out that this is probably the only shirt for sale that is actually covered in sequence.
Those glittery things covered in sequins are another matter entirely.

Stripped - Although many gentlemen would probably love to see a stripped dress (or rather, what was left behind after the dress was stripped), a striped dress wouldn't cause nearly as much excitement.

Crocketed - Probably my favorite spelling error that I've run across on eBay is this likely typographic mistake originally intended as "crocheted." When I think of a crocketted bag, all I can think of is a purse decked out with raccoon tails.

And now on to the jewerly department. One time, I saw for sale on eBay a "Ladies nice neckless." Well, you have to do a little transposition to arrive at these hilarious "nice neckless ladies."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie from Vegan Treats Bakery

 DC VegFest was a week ago, and there in its midst was an amazingly popular booth staffed by Vegan Treats Bakery.

After waiting in line for only an eternity, it was my turn to make my selection from the tantalizing piles of desserts. I would have chosen one or two, but my boyfriend went hog-wild and bought one of almost everything in the tent. The only giant cookie that we picked up, however, was this chocolate peanut butter cookie.

The salesperson described it like a peanut butter cup, crispy on the outside with a gooey peanut butter filling on the inside. It sounded so good.

But it was just OK.

It didn't have that "Ew, it's healthy" taste that you sometimes get in a vegan cookie, and it held together nicely, with barely a crumble. In fact, I would have mistaken it for a conventional egg-based cookie without hesitation if I didn't know better.

I have to say, though, that I wasn't enamored of the taste. The chocolate exterior was bland, and the peanut butter interior wasn't, how shall we say, exciting.

Although the chocolate dipped part did provide a pleasant variation in texture, I just didn't find anything standout about this cookie.

At 1.93¢ per gram, this was definitely not a great deal for a giant cookie, though especially for a cookie of the vegan variety, it wasn't a great ripoff, either. In general, I would best describe this cookie as unremarkable.

The Bottom Line
Taste: 3 stars
Texture: 4 stars
Price: 3 stars

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Nice things about autumn: An exhaustive list

Fall fell earlier last week, and so did my happiness levels. And my motivation levels. It's taken me days to finish this post that I started writing last Monday!

I really don't like fall. When I was younger, it was my favorite season because it was so crisp and windy and exciting, but now that I have a cold intolerance, fall is just a depressing season that obligates me to wear long sleeves and reminds me that winter is coming.

But who wants to be depressed all the time? There must be at least one good thing about fall, and I have finally found it!

Fuzzy caterpillars! 

I have been seeing them everywhere lately, and they always strike joy into my heart (and no small amount of terror when I have to swerve to avoid running over one of them on my bike).

I hope caterpillars can sustain my mood until discounted Halloween candy appears to take up the torch.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Shower Complex

I compare myself unfavorably to others in a lot of categories, but bathroom products has never been one of them—until yesterday.

I've been renting out my spare bedroom to short term guests on Airbnb. The most recent visitor settled in and promptly filled a shelf of the shower rack with her stuff. I took one look at it and instantly lost about half my self-esteem.

Everything she put on the rack was so pretty! She has a shower pouf that looks like a lovely blue-tipped white rose. She has shower gel that comes in an elegant gold bottle with shimmer on top. She has about 4 shampoos and conditioners that aren't anything special, but they look so nice sitting there in the rack all together.

By contrast, my shower supplies look depressing. On one shelf, I've got a bottle of Suave shampoo (the cheapest brand at Target) and a used Voss water bottle that holds a solution of baking soda and water. Next to them both sits a disk of soap acquired at some 2-star motel. On the shelf below that, because it's too big to fit next to all the other stuff, is a family-size bottle of all-purpose conditioner by Kirkland, Costco's signature brand. I have to keep it upside-down so that the conditioner will come out when I need it, and it's been sitting there so long that brownish film has formed on the bottom. To top it all off, I have a scruffy old white washcloth draped over the bar. The overall effect is one of stark apathy.

I never thought that your shower shelf could say a lot about who you are, but if it does, mine says I'm a bachelor who's given up on life. Hello, newfound sense of inferiority!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chocolate Chunk Cookie from Noodles & Company

This cookie's claim to fame is that it contains oats. Which not many chocolate chunk cookies have the guts to do.

Its other claim to fame was that I bought two on two separate occasions just so I could give it an adequate review. The first time, I lost the receipt and forgot to weigh it. With so little information to go on, I just gobbled it up and left it unreviewed. The second time, I got all the facts. And it weighed 130 grams and cost $1.59 (meaning it weighs in at 1.22¢ a gram)

And after two reviews, I am confident in saying that the facts indicate this cookie would be better without oats. While I'm all for variegated textures to give my cookies some bite, in this case, I don't think they helped. I can't say exactly why; I just found them a distraction while eating.

Other than that, it was a fairly average chocolate chunk cookie. I have to give it props, though, for being soft enough to get seriously bent up in a bumpy trip home on my bike and still survive without crumbling.

The Bottom Line:
Taste: 3 stars
Texture: 3 stars
Price: 4 stars

Monday, September 16, 2013

On Getting Hi

This morning, I woke up to a text message: "I'm deleting your damn number. I've tired of your ignorant bullshit." The message was from a number that I didn't recognize, but our text message history showed we had texted before. The last text was from July 28, incoming: "HI".

Before that, another incoming message on July 1: "Hi.."

Before that, a 5-message exchange in early June, regarding what we had done that day, initiated by this number I had never bothered to save, and ended by me when I couldn't think of a worthwhile reply to "I went to get food."

I had to scroll up several more messages before I remembered who this master conversationalist was: a guy I met on okCupid shortly before I started dating my boyfriend. This guy lives in the wilds of Pennsylvania or some other such impossibly distant locale. We've never met in person. He always seemed to want to chat by text message, but never had anything interesting to say or ask. His boringness was obvious in the fact that I never felt the need to save his number.

All I can assume from his most recent (and I guess final) text message is that he finds my failure to reply to his aimless "Hi"s a fatal form of ignorance (Is he mistaking ignorant—a term referring to lack of knowledge—for a nonexistant adjectival form of the verb ignore? That's a whole different grammar question to be explored another day).

I know he's not the only one to be offended by my selective texting, so I'd like to tackle at least one of the pressing issues of texting etiquette—the controversial use of generic greetings.

Texting differs from an in-person conversation in that it is not instantaneous. When a person says something to you face to face, you are obligated to reply immediately or else be seen as rude. When a person texts you, they have no idea whether you've received the message. They don't know what you're doing, whether you have your phone with you, or whether you're otherwise occupied. They cannot expect a response right away. But here's where it gets tricky. Do they have a right to expect a response at all?

In the case of the two neglected "Hi"s, I'm not sure what I was doing at 5:55pm on July 28, or at 10:26pm on July 1 (but probably sleeping), but I will assume that it was not a convenient time for me to engage in a chat. Now, to avoid any kind of misunderstanding, my best course of action would have been to reply with something like "can't talk now." But even that dashed-off response would require me to actually have the phone with me, not be otherwise occupied, and be awake.

It's not unusual for me to reply to a text message hours or occasionally even a day or two after I receive it, because that's when I finally have the time for texting. But a message like "Hi"—Is that even worth a delayed response at all?

Hi is a greeting. It's what you say to someone when you see them to acknowledge their presence. It is not an appropriate phrase to sling out into the vastness of space and hope it sparks a conversation. I feel like "Hi" has an expiration date, and after a few hours, it no longer makes sense to say Hi back.

I feel that if all you can think to say is "Hi," then clearly, you don't need to talk that badly. if you want talk, you should have something in mind to talk about, and then you should just start talking. That's the beauty of text messaging—it is direct, concise, and works best when you avoid all the little pleasantries that are obligatory in face-to-face conversation.

So here's some advice for those of you who imagine that you need to start every chat with a hello: You don't. And if you still want to, go ahead, but make sure you say something afterwards that has more substance. And if you are the type of person who suddenly blows up in anger over a month after some imagined slight, well, I just hope you were looking for your reply on the internet and not on your phone.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Basket Case (a sequel to Life Without a Basket)

This whole bike basket situation is driving me batty.

The rabbit carrier did its job for a few days until the door hinges started disintegrating (I don't blame them; they were made of grass!).

My next basket was an oversized white hand basket I found at the thrift store. I held it onto the back rack with a length of bungee cord I keep in my car.

I really enjoyed tooling around with this basket on my bike, because, although it looked even more incongruous and rigged-together than its predecessor, it also had an undeniable element of cuteness. It was a goofy and fun addition to my bike. It was also amazingly spacious and easy to remove if I wanted to bring it into the house—just unhook the bungee cord and go! This basket lasted a day, until the ancient bungee cord snapped. Fortunately it did it overnight, rather than mid-ride!

It just so happened I had an old metal folding basket waiting in the wings. I had carried it faithfully on my handlebars for at least a couple years, but there were a number of things that annoyed me about it, so when it came time to replace it with a bona fide official handlebar basket, I wasn't sad to see it go.

But beggars can't be choosers, and as soon as I knew I was back in the bike basket market, I contacted my ex-boyfriend (at whose apartment I had left it) asking for it back. I brought it home just one day before it had to spring into action! I decided to hook it onto the side of my rack (it kept collapsing when placed on top, and the mounting bracket for my real basket was taking up all the handlebar space). I'd been considering using panniers, as they seem to be popular among the serious bike commuters—you know, the ones who wear helmets and reflective vests and such. So this seemed like a good time to try the side-mounted basket.

I'm not sure I'm impressed. There was very little clearance between it and the pedals; a few times I hit it with my foot. But of course the worst thing about this basket was its contents were too heavy for the Velcro straps holding it on, and it fell onto the trail halfway to work (and I think this is where I lost the combination lock that I keep in the side pockets of my backpack). I had to reattach the Velcro once more when I got on campus. Obviously, this cannot be my basket solution, at least until I find a more reliable way to keep it on my bike.

While at the office, I taped the bottom to the sides so it wouldn't collapse spontaneously, and strapped it to the top of the rack. That seemed to work better. At least it didn't fall off on my way home, though it did slide around quite a bit.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Chick & Ruth's Macaroni and Cheese

Chick & Ruth's Delly (Yeah, they spell it that way) is a pretty famous place in Annapolis that you still don't have wait in line to eat at.

I've only been to Annapolis a handful of times, and I've eaten at Chick & Ruth's thrice, but I have not yet tried their macaroni and cheese (perhaps because when I have an opportunity to eat an egg salad sandwich instead, that always seems to take priority).

In any case, I haven't been missing out on much. My last visit to Chick & Ruth's, my dining companions both got macaroni as a side dish. I tried a few bites and was very happy I'd just gone for egg salad again.

It was mushy and dry (can those two things really go together?) and not salty enough.

My friend who is a less picky eater didn't like it either. He gave me his leftovers, and I ate them, but only because I don't like paying for food when I can get it for free. My boyfriend who will eat anything thought it was fine, but he will eat anything.

The moral of this story is there are definitely better things to get at Chick & Ruth's. Like a colossal milkshake!

I rate the macaroni and cheese two sad noodles:
One for its terrible texture, and one for its terrible flavor.

 1sad noodle  1sad noodle

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Life without a basket

I went on an epic vacation not too long ago. And by epic, I mean I took a 5-day cruise, got home for 20 minutes, and left again for New York to attend Electric Zoo. That was pretty stressful, having to prepare for a second trip in 20 minutes, and I forgot to bring several things with me. But that was nothing compared to what I forgot to bring back with me when I returned home.

My bike basket!!

My boyfriend and I stayed at the house of some of his relatives in New Jersey. They gamely carried both our bicycles from the bus stop to their house in the middle seat of their minivan, a feat which I never thought possible. In order to fit my bike in the very cramped space, I had to remove the basket from the handlebars. I kept it in the room that I stayed in, and, in the chaos of trying to get everyone and everything situated for the trip back (this time, the whole family came along, necessitating that the bikes be tied onto the roof), I left my basket in their house.

Oh, the woe!

Since I use my bike to commute to the office every day, carrying such essentials as lunch and shoes and any items I happen to purchase at Rugged Wearhouse after work—and since I hate wearing a backpack while biking because it turns my back into a swamp of sweat—I had to find another cargo solution—for the entire month or so that I will be basketless until the relatives come into town for a visit!

On the plus side, this motivated me to finally attach the rear rack that I've been putting off for almost a year now. On the minus side, the new basket that I found to fulfill the task has proven wholly annoying (though popular with passers-by).

I chose to use the wicker animal carrier that I bought for my rabbit but never used for anything but storing his bags of litter. What makes this item so annoying is, well, just about everything.

It opens via a door on the side, meaning I have to bend over and feed all my possessions into it sideways. It's bigger than my old basket, but because it's fully enclosed, I have no option for an oversized load. It keeps coming open when I ride, although I have not yet had the misfortune of my stuff spilling out of it while in transit. It makes mounting the bike more challenging, and it keeps touching my butt while I'm riding, which is disconcerting.

I'm still looking for other alternatives. Stay tuned as the saga continues!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Macaroni and cheese from Hill Country

Those are our Mason jars full of beverages in the background. How southern!
I've had so many sub-par macaronis in the past months—some so bad I didn't even feel like reviewing them. It was a relief to finally have a macaroni that wasn't tasteless or mushy. In fact, it was pleasantly chewy. And rated just the right amount of salty. And with gooey lumps of cheese that stretch when you lift them with your fork. And tempting burnt patches! Of all the macaronis that I've tried since beginning my MacaroniQuest, this is the one that reminds me the most of my grandmother's.

It was just unfortunate that I had to go to a place swarming with meat to eat it.

The first time I went to Hill Country, (once I got over the pervasive odor of barbecued animals), I was pleasantly surprised by the macaroni and cheese, but I lost the photo I took of it, so I never did blog about it.

The second time I went there, I took one bite and actually said, "I love this macaroni and cheese!" It was then that I knew that Hill Country is my new favorite source for macaroni. I also remembered, miraculously, to take the photo and keep it.

I rate this macaroni 2 happy noodles for taste and chewiness. Then I'll give it another happy noodle for so thoroughly trumping all macaronis thus far. And I'll refrain from giving it a sad noodle, since it's not the macaroni's fault it came from a barbecue establishment.

1 happy noodle 1 happy noodle 1 happy noodle

Why do you do what you Doritos?

It is no secret that I am in love with Doritos. My house feels empty when I don't have  a bag or two stockpiled. I have been known to make them my entree for dinner and lunch.

But there is a secret I haven't been so keen to let on: Doritos don't love me back.

Now I can just imagine the peanut gallery out there going, "Yeah, I bet, when you eat Doritos, they must give you the runs so bad..." Get your minds out of the gutter, peanut gallery! My innards are blissfully unaffected by any amount of Mexican food, no matter how fake and heavily processed.

But what is not so unaffected? My lips.

Sadly, after almost any Dorito binge, I can pretty much expect all the skin to flake off my lips within a few days. This is annoying and inexplicable. Do I have some kind of weird allergy? Are the dry, salty chips just desiccating my flesh? Whenever I eat Doritos, I make a conscious effort to wipe with a napkin frequently and guzzle more water than I think I need, but it never seems to help.

Why, Doritos, when I love you so much do you treat me so bad!? Oh, well, no matter. My love for you is unconditional. I will continue to eat you, even if you change your recipe for the worse.

Oh, wait, you already did that.

Remember when I blogged about Doritos' impending design change and promise of a bolder flavor?  Apparently when they said bolder, they only meant more painful, because the only difference I could detect between the Doritos of the New Bag and the Doritos of old was that the new ones were spicier and made my mouth hurt (but fortunately, did not make the lip-flaking any worse than usual). And the Cool Ranch still doesn't have enough flavor.

And because I promised I would make package redesigns part of my blogging repertoire, here are the old bag and the new bag side by side.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Passel of Panera Reviews

Panera macaroni and cheese

 A few mornings ago, I went for breakfast so late that I felt more like eating lunch. I was at Panera, one of my favorite restaurants on account of all the things on their menu my picky self can actually eat! So I decided to partake of the macaroni and cheese.

I ordered a small, because a small is usually big enough. This one, however, wasn't. They filled my little 12-oz container (it could have been 8 ounces, I'm a terrible judge of size) half full of macaroni, charged me five dollars for it, and left me out to dry. Ugh. It was tasty, for sure, but if you're ever at Panera pondering the pasta, do yourself a favor and order an entree. The macaroni side dish is possibly the world's biggest smallest rip-off.

I rate this macaroni 2 sad noodles for the outrageous price, and one happy noodle for the taste.

 1sad noodle  1sad noodle1 happy noodle

Panera Chocolate Duet Cookie 

 After my utter failure to get a decent-sized lunch for a decent price, I was still hungry for cookies. Actually that's not true—I assuaged my hunger with a carrot cake muffin and saved the cookie for later.

That cookie was the Chocolate Duet. Chocolate cookie, chocolate chips, and a smattering of walnuts on top. I think it had white chocolate too, but I actually didn't notice any when I was eating it.

The walnuts really took this cookie to a whole new level, as they were crunchy. Deliciously crunchy in a deliciously soft cookie (some of that softness may be due to the extremely warm ambient temperature at which I ate it—the chocolate chips were also melted at the time of eating, which I never enjoy).

I found this cookie a surprising delight, since I'm usually lukewarm about chocolate cookies. Maybe it just takes an extreme ambient temperature to warm me up to them...

I'm assuming this cookie was 100 grams on the dot, like all Panera cookies, although its price was a little higher than the last ones I bought, at 2.09. That means they are even less of a two-star value than their Ohio counterparts.

The Bottom Line:
Taste: 5 stars
Texture: 5 stars
Price: 2 stars

Friday, August 23, 2013

Chocolate chip cookie from Uptowner Cafe in Georgetown

All chocolate chip cookies are beginning to taste the same to me. I found the chocolate chips too soft and almost too sweet. Perhaps my tastes are running to the more-sophisticated dark chocolate.

Nothing about this cookie really stands out as superb.

The price was average at 1.59¢ per gram.

The best feature of this cookie was the texture, which passed the crumble test with flying colors. I carried it around in my purse for a whole evening, once, even bending it almost in half, and it still didn't drop a crumb.

The Bottom Line
Taste:3 stars
Price: 3 stars
Texture: 4 stars

Thursday, August 22, 2013

AU Cookie

Ashland University is famous, in part, for its AU cookies, which are shamelessly used to lure prospective students to its gates. It worked on me. AU cookies were one of the first, if not the very first, kinds of Giant Cookie I ever consumed. Strangely, it took me over 2 years of Giant Cookie reviewing before I finally got my hands on one of the cookies that started me down this path.

I attended an alumni event earlier in the summer, where I was pleased to see the cookies that had been on my To-Review list ever since I started this blog.

Unfortunately, after all the build-up, I was a little disappointed. It was overflowing with chocolate and crunchy nuts, but the taste of the cookie itself wasn't that impressive. It was also thinner than I remembered, making it less satisfying to bite into than I'd prefer.

The bottom line
Taste: 3 stars
Texture: 3 stars

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Prairie City Cookies

Prairie City cookies can be found at the Union Shop on the University of Maryland campus. Surprisingly, I'd been working here for 2 and a half years before I finally decided to give one a try.

Prairie City White Macadamia Nut cookie

The white chocolate macadamia nut cookie was my first choice. It was not exactly crispy, but still too crunchy for my taste (it mostly passed the crumble test, but snapped in the process). Its main issue was a kind of sour taste that I associate with cheap packaged cookies. And the kicker was it wasn't even cheap, costing around 1.75¢ per gram.
I also thought the white chocolate was too soft.

The Bottom Line:
Taste: 1 star
Texture: 2 stars
Price: 3 stars

Prairie City Candy cookie

Later on, to be fair, and also because I didn't pay attention to the price when I bought the first cookie, I tried a different variety—this time it was Mmmm...Candy, with pieces of candy that bore a striking similarity to M&Ms.

This cookie was much better than the first. It tasted sweet and buttery, and its texture was fairly chewy (good) but also somewhat crumbly (less good).

The Bottom Line
Taste: 4 stars
Texture: 3 stars
Price: 3 stars

Monday, July 29, 2013

Bernadette's Peanut Butter Cookie

Recently, I went on a vacation to the Midwest.

After days of suffering the meat-centric cuisine of Kansas City and its environs, I went to get my boyfriend change from the cashier at some heinous barbecue joint, and I returned from the cashier's stand with two delicious-looking giant cookies. This cookie arrived in my life just when I was beginning to lose hope of ever enjoying my food.

And enjoy it I did! It was one of the best cookies I've eaten in my history of giant cookie reviewing.
It was just cooked enough to hold it together, but still soft and almost raw on the inside. The coarse sugar on top added just the right amount of textural variety.

I loved this cookie with my whole heart. I wish I could have reviewed its sister chocolate chip cookie, but alas, I accidentally left it in my brother's fridge when I left Kansas.

But if you're ever in Kansas City, have a gander at Best of Bernadette's Cakes and Catering, because at least one cookie will be worth your effort.

The Bottom Line
Taste: 5 stars
Texture: 5 stars
Price: 4 stars

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cosi Chocolate Chunk Cookie

Ever since Cosi changed the recipe for their white chocolate chip cookies, to contain walnuts instead of macadamia nuts, I just haven't felt the same love for them. And now, only 2 years and a month after my very first Giant Cookie review, in which I contemplated reviewing one of Cosi's chocolate chunk cookies, I finally took the plunge.

The price is $1.99 for 100 g. At 1.9¢ a gram, the chocolate chunk cookies aren't any better value than the white chocolate cookies were when I first reviewed them.

The texture is chewy enough, but it lacks the gooey goodness that distinguishes a good cookie from a great one. It almost borders on tough.

The flavor is also bland and unexciting, though I will give them a little credit for using dark chocolate instead of everyday milk or semisweet.

The Bottom Line:
Taste: 3 stars
Texture: 3 stars
Price: 2 stars

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Chocolate chip cookie from Le Pain Quotidien

Stopping in at a restaurant just to use the bathroom usually means you buy something out of guilt. For me, it's obviously going to be Giant Cookies!

This one came from Le Pain Quotidien.

And quite appropriately, since eating this cookie was one of the most "pain"ful experiences I've had in my history of Giant Cookie reviewing.

Even though it was still soft in a lot of spots, it was pretty dark brown for a chocolate chip cookie. Like it was overcooked. It was also sort of sour around the edges. Like it was overcooked.

And it was dry. It also had a piece of paper cooked into it.

And it had an almost sticky surface that I found unappetizing.

I'd be willing to give this bakery another chance, because it seems like this cookie was a result of an off day, but as of now, I will have to review it unfavorably.

As is common lately, I ate this cookie away from access to a scale, so I can't judge its value too accurately, but it cost over three dollars, and couldn't have weighed more than around 150 grams, putting it at around 2¢ a gram, or, not cheap.

The Bottom Line:
Taste: 1 star
Texture: 2 stars

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The ABC's of Me

Not too long ago, my fellow blogger Geoff hit the world with an epic alphabetical list of all the traits that make him him, and he said it sounded like something I would do, so I said I'd do it. Well, it took me 2 weeks to think of an adjective that began with Z, but finally it is here! One word for every letter of the alphabet, each describing something about me!

A is for Awesome. That's right. Let's start this already narcissistic post off with a bang!

B is for Bouncy. And I mean that quite literally. My favorite thing to do instead of standing still is to bounce on my toes. My favorite thing to do instead of sitting still is to bounce my legs up and down.

C is for Colorful. The brighter the better. Why do something in beige when you can do it in rainbow instead?

D is for Deliberate. As in the exact opposite of impulsive.  I look before I look before I look before I leap, and think about every decision for at least a few days. Unless I am crossing the road, and then I usually just step out blindly.

E is for Eco-conscious. People call me a hippie because I compost, reuse everything, go out of my way to recycle, never buy things new when I can buy them used, choose walking or biking or public transportation over driving almost all the time, carry mountains of groceries in my arms rather than use a disposable bag, and carry a weight of guilt that is approximately equal to the number of pounds of carbon I release into the atmosphere with all my wasteful activities.

F is for Forgetful. I can't remember what else I was going to say about that.

G is for Gullible. I believe everything I'm told, which means my boss has lots of fun telling me I'm getting fired all the time. Gee, thanks, Boss.

H is for Honest. I don't steal, I don't cheat, and sometimes I think I disappoint people by telling the truth when they ask me my opinion.

I is for Introverted. I am the shyest person I know. And I don't know many.

J is for Jumpy. Just watch me when someone pokes me from behind. Or I almost step on a worm. Or drop a cockroach that I'm trying to carry out of the building on piece of paper. This goes hand in hand with screamy, but that's not a word.

K is for Klutzy. If you looked at my legs, which are covered in scratches, scrapes, and bruises, that would be all you would need to know. But you could look at my left elbow if you weren't sure. I slammed that into a chair 2 weeks ago, and I'm still bitter about it.

L is for Logical. I am swell at following scenarios to their logical conclusions, and one of my favorite phrases is, "That doesn't make sense!"

M is for Moody. When I'm happy, I'm on top of the world. When I'm sad, I'm despondent. And when I'm mad, I'm hysterical. I can switch from one to the other of these moods in as much time as it takes me to open a cupboard door into my skull.

N is for Nice. That's what all the kids in elementary school said when asked to describe themselves, and I'm sticking to it. Besides, I think it's true, if not very sophisticated in the literary sense.

O is for Obsessive-compulsive. Not in the crazy way, just in the way that everything has to be neat and tidy and spelled correctly.

P is for Perfectionistic. Oh, and everything has to be perfect. That too.

Q is for Quick. If I have to move slowly for some reason, I slowly go insane.

R is for Risk-averse. I would rather never try something than take the chance of failing at it.

S is for Smiley. When people who don't know my name are trying to call me by name, they usually choose "Smiley." That or "Blondie," but since right now my hair is aqua, it would have to be "bluey" and that just doesn't have the same ring.

T is for Thrifty. Nothing feels better to me than saving a few bucks.

U is for Unhealthy. When I don't have some minor malady ruining my life, I'm worrying that I do.

V is for Vegetarian. You would not believe what a hot topic of discussion this is among everyone who meets me. Let's not discuss it right here.

W is for Wordy. I love to write, and I love to elaborate. Why say something in a sentence if you can say it in a paragraph?

X is for Xerodermic. Every so often, my lips turn into a mini-Mojave, and then I can think of nothing else.

Y is for Yeller. That's right, I'm skeert of pretty much everything.

Z is for Zany. This is basically a second-rate synonym for "goofy," which I was going to use for G because people have on several occasions called me a goofball and meant it in a complimentary way. But I really wanted to get that "gullible" in there, and how many other words start with a Z?

So what about you? Can you alphabetize your existence? If you're a blogger, too, why not have at it? Or if not, just post the whole thing on Myspace, like old times!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Chocolate Walnut Espresso Cookie from Firehook Bakery

Firehook Bakery used to be my main source of 7-layer bars, meaning when I was there, I rarely sampled their wide variety of Giant Cookies, but since I learned I could make 7-layer bars myself, suddenly the game had changed. The last time I was at Firehook, I dove in, and requested a type of cookie I rarely choose: the all-chocolate one. Turns out it was chocolate walnut espresso, but it was too late to back out so I bought in.

Not having a very good sense of smell, I could just barely detect the espresso, but that's fine with me, since I don't much like coffee flavors anyway.

What I did detect was a sharp, almost painful coldness to the cookie, like what you feel when you're eating mint. Which was odd, because I'm pretty sure there was no mint in it. Altogether, I was not too impressed with the flavor.

The texture was nice. It crunched on the outside (causing it to fail the crumble test) but was soft on the inside, which I liked. I would have preferred more soft to crunchy, though.

And as far as price goes, here are the numbers:135 g., 1.87$ = 1.38¢ per g.

The Bottom Line:
Taste: 3 stars
Texture: 4 stars
Price: 3 stars

Friday, June 14, 2013

3 Chocolate chip cookies from Dawson's Market

These cookies just barely squeaked by the 10-cm diameter minimum to qualify as a Giant Cookie.

I ate them away from access to a scale, so I can not speak as to their value, but I don't really think they're worth it. The 3-pack cost me $3.99, which is fairly good as far as Giant Cookies go in general, but they seemed to lack in flavor and wow factor.

The texture was decent, but nothing to write home about either.

The Bottom Line:
Taste: 2 stars
Texture: 3 stars