Sunday, April 28, 2013

What-What?! Week of April 28th

Hear that wooshing sound?  That’s me finishing ALL the papers.  In the next week, I have all my major papers due for all my classes.  I’ve spent a lot of this last week trying to get things as ready as possible, so that I can just concentrate on completing these papers.  In another week, it will be my baby’s birthday, and then two weeks after that, I will be done with school forever.  Also, then I will be unemployed; I am not having much luck finding internships or jobs or much of anything. :[

I happened to read an opinion piece on this act, and went looking for more.  Unfortunately, Wikipedia seems to be about as neutral a source as I can find for more information on it.  This act would allow states to impose a sales tax on items sold in that state, regardless of where the retailer is located, so long as the retailer has at least $1 million in gross receipts per year; this act is specifically targeting online retailers, which do not have to collect taxes in most states because they are not required to. 

Supporters say that this bill will create a level ground with small businesses that operate brick-and-mortar shops that have to collect sales taxes.

Opponents say that this would then make online-only retailers responsible for collecting and remitting as many as 10,000 different sales taxes, and compromises state sovereignty by allowing some states to tax those beyond their borders.  A more interesting point that WE R HERE, a coalition of small businesses, has made, is that the definition of small business used in the bill is totally incorrect; in trying to protect small businesses that are online-only, the bill is written to only apply to those businesses that have more than $1 million in gross receipts.  According to the IRS, the definition of a small business are those with less than $20 million in gross receipts, while the Small Business Administration defines it as businesses with gross receipts under $30 million.

I’m opposed to the bill because of the above reasons, but also because it taxes businesses in places where they use no resources; if a business resides in California, then it is using California resources, and it makes sense to tax that business on sales they do within the state.  If that business then sold an item to a person in Oregon, it doesn’t make sense to impose Oregon sales tax on that transaction, because the company hasn’t used any of Oregon’s resources.

Also, I would like to express how utterly irritated I am that Amazon is supporting this bill.  I like Amazon, but the only reasons its supporting the bill is to build barriers to entry, and because they now offer a service that collects and remits sales taxes for their clients.

The bill passed the senate just a few days ago, so it’s looking like this might just come to be.

Oven French toast is one of the first things I made when I really started cooking for us as a family.  It has a special place in my heart as an easy, tasty, crowd-pleaser breakfast or dinner -- While the directions here are to let it sit overnight, you can easily make it in the morning and let it sit all day.  This variation calls for layering cream cheese in between slices of bread.  I used plain cream cheese, figuring we’d get all the sweetness from the maple syrup.  Instead of cinnamon swirl bread, I used a loaf of French bread, which Peter thinly cut for me.  I also made mine in a 9 x 13 inch pan, using 9 eggs and a dash of milk, vanilla extract, nutmeg and cinnamon.  The only issue I have with this recipe is that it calls for baking it uncovered; we did this, and the consistency of the top layer was too crispy.  Next time, I will cook it covered for at least part of the time.  Overall, this was a delicious breakfast that I will be making again.

(This week, I also made blueberry scones again, which continue to be delicious!)

This came up on one of the mommy boards I frequent, because this woman was trying to decide what would be best for her brother for a wedding gift.  This was one of the options, and what an option it is!  I have no real reason to bring this up, other than to show its awesomeness.

tea bag cookies 2
These guys are also adorable, and would be great in a gift, along with a mug and maybe some real tea.  The website linked above is in French, but I did find some great tutorial and recipe on the Compulsive Foodie blog.

Until next week! :D 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What-What?! Week of April 21st

This week has been long, as I’ve been busy with school, and have come down sick to boot.  My littlest, at just about 12 months, is really walking now!  He’s starting to get pretty quick, too. :D

Local Living:  The San Jose Fantasy Faire

Last Sunday, we went to the San Jose Fantasy Faire with the kids and my sister; we had a really good time, though it is definitely a kid’s event.  There were a bunch of princesses, including Rapunzel and her tower, as well as a “princess pavilion”, where princesses rested in between activities; my daughter would have rather we just left her there to live with the princesses.  At one point, my daughter and sister sat down to a princess story time, and when Belle finished reading, she asked if anyone wanted to hear another story; all the other kids got up and left, but not my daughter!  It makes me happy that my kids love reading. :D

We also saw Captain Jack Sparerib’s show, which was entertaining, though my sister (rightly) remarked that it was similar to the act that Broon does at the regular renaissance faires.  Still, the kids were entertained and happy to see him, and were especially happy about the treasure map that we got them.

Cooking:  Dried Blueberry and Yogurt Scones

This recipe came about because we wound up with a big container of expiring plain yogurt, and nothing to do with it.  I had picked up some dried blueberries from Costco ($7-8 for a giant sack), and it just seemed like a good idea.  I wasn’t able to find a recipe that I was happy with, so I took bits and pieces of other recipes.
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup dried blueberries
  • 1-1/4 cup yogurt (can probably be substituted with 1 cup of milk; I have not tried this)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix flour, baking powder and sugar together in bowl; cut the butter into this mixture using a pastry cutter, two butter knives, a fork, or a stand mixer.  Mix in the blueberries, then stir yogurt until incorporated.  Knead a few times, then you can either roll out to a 1-1/2 inch thick circle and cut into wedges, or cut into circles with a biscuit cutter, or you could eat the dough raw, if you really want.  Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until golden brown.  Enjoy! :D

Films:  Upcoming Thor: The Dark World Movie Poster

So, the new poster for the upcoming Thor film was released, and it’s utterly useless.  It shows Thor with his hammer.  Big whoop!  I am a bit disappointed, though, that this one isn’t being directed by Kenneth Branagh; maybe it will be a bit less hilarious in the romance department, which was at about my five-year-old's level in the first film.  The director for The Dark World is Alan Taylor, who has only directed three feature-length films prior to this one, though has directed a great variety of television episodes, including The Sopranos, Deadwood, Mad Men, and Game of Thrones.  This film sounds like it's going to be more complex overall, with more character development and stuff.  If you go looking on the interwebz, be careful of spoilers.

Until next week! :D

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What-What?! Week of April 14th

This week has actually been busy, on account of having the internal analysis due, as well as a bunch of assignments due for another class (those ones involve watching videos, which I hate; reading an article is so much easier with children around).  Apparently, I now have a subscription to the Wall Street Journal; I don’t know if I signed up for a promo subscription, or if someone gifted it to me, or what.  I never received anything in the mail about it, but it is definitely coming to my apartment (it’s been stuck in the plumbing directly underneath my apartment number).  I like reading the WSJ, though, so that’s cool.  Today, we’ll be visiting the San Jose Fantasy Faire, which I have high hopes for, especially given that it looks more kid-oriented than the RenFaire in Casa de Fruita.  It’s also way cheaper, so even if it turns out to be a bust, we’re not out as much money.
News:  Steampunk Advertisement in WSJ, via the WSJ paper edition

I don’t normally look at the ads in the WSJ very closely, because it’s usually fancy cars, watches, jewelry, or financial planning services that I cannot afford nor have desire for.  But this one caught my eye, on account of the steampunk "foresight goggles".  The only thing that really puzzles me about this, is location appropriate for their target market?  If this company is trying to get younger customers, then the ad itself is fine, but is the Wall Street Journal the most appropriate place for this?  According to a source I found (which I can't seem to find the link to now...?), the median age of readership for the WSJ is 45.4, so half their readers are younger than that, which is more like it.  However, it seems to me that Invesco hasn’t invested much into online advertising, which would tap better into a younger market.

Okay, so Kate Upton is probably best known for her cover of Sports Illustrated, in which she wore a pair of undies and a coat.  But, I am in love with the kind of British explorer vintage quality of this latest shoot, the Bazaar Animal Collection.  My favorite piece is the dress/coat combination shown above, which is by Christian Dior; it’s got some nice draping around her hips, all the while avoiding being a bustle.  I liked the combination of textures created with the wool coats, cotton dresses, and silk coordinates.  Also, those big soft curls in Kate Upton’s hair are just beautiful.

After seeing this on clearance at Safeway, I picked it up to try; I am a sucker for blueberry preserves, but more so a sucker for jams and jellies made without corn syrup.  I grew up on my mother’s homemade jams, and eating anything made with corn syrup tastes wrong.
The ingredients are:
  • Blueberries
  • Fruit juice concentrate (apple, grape)
  • Fruit pectin
  • Lemon juice.
Generally speaking, this brand is expensive, about $4-5 for a 10 ounce bottle.  The flavor is fantastic, sweet without being cloying, with a nice mix of whole berries and jelly.  If I find it on clearance again, I will be stocking up.  If you are looking for something similar, but less expensive, I suggest trying the Welch’s Naturals strawberry or grape jellies, which have similar ingredients, though it is much sweeter.

'Til next week. :)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

What-What?! Week of April 7th

Not too much going on this week; still working on the internal analysis of my capstone project, which has been going quite well.  A few days ago, we took the kids back to Chuck E. Cheeses, and they had a lot of fun.  It’s a pretty cheap trip, since we haven’t been buying any of the [awful] food.  Today, my baby is 11 months old, and is now walking short distances.  It is horrible. D:

Target: Pregnant Women are Huge via everywheres

So, this made it all the way to the front of Yahoo!  Target, on this maternity dress shown above, described the color as “manatee grey”.  For the plus-size only, no less!  I wonder if this was purposeful, or if some idiot somewhere thought that pregnant women like natural things, and the natural color of a manatee is grey, therefore a perfect color descriptor.  Next, there will be colors like “blue whale”, I’m sure. :P

This past week, I got an e-mail from Tulle, a couture clothing company.  I love the vintage style they have, and would totally buy their dresses if not for one thing: the hem length is too short!  I just cannot wear dresses that are not at least knee length, it makes me uncomfortable.  Also, the things that I’ve bought from Tulle tend to fit a bit oddly anyway, and you have to pay shipping to return things.  So, while I love to window shop there, I don’t generally buy anything.  But oh how I want that scallop dress.  WANT.

This article discusses that, while the unemployment rate has fallen another 0.1%, it’s mostly because people are leaving the workforce.  As someone who’ll soon be fresh out of college, it’s pretty frightening to think that others, with more experience and education, are leaving the workforce because they cannot find jobs.  How nice.  And, of course, this particular author is blaming welfare programs for part of this, because as soon as you get a low paying job, you lose benefits.  So, people don’t take the low paying jobs, because the after tax income doesn’t make up for the non-taxable benefits you lose.  Neither is what I’d call a sustainable way to live.

Cooking:  Loaded Cauliflower, via Linda's Low Carb Recipes

Recently, I've been experimenting with cauliflower, just for a change of pace.  I don't generally eat it, and never have, to be honest.  Yesterday, I made "loaded" caulifower, and while I had this recipe, I  totally did not follow it.  Instead, I chopped up my cauliflower small, daubed on some ranch dressing, added a sprinkle of cheddar cheese, and popped it into the oven for about 30 minutes.  It came out surprisingly good, and I think the addition of bacon or ham would really perfect it.  The husband and I liked it, while the kids mostly just poked at it.  This one I will make again.

TV:  Mad Men via Netflix

Netflix has just offered the fifth season of Mad Men this past week, so I’m watching it.  I haven’t loved all the plot twists (Don Draper’s backstory makes me roll my eyes), but I do enjoy the interaction between the characters, and looking at the fashion, if nothing else.  My favorite character is probably Harry Crane, the firm’s director of television marketing.  So far this season, we haven’t seen much of him, but I still have another 10 episodes to go, so there’s hope. :)
(images via Yahoo! news,,