Wednesday, October 24, 2007

De-baddifying the Frap




So . . . . my dear, dear friends Jimbo and Anja sent me a care package that contained some Starbucks goodies (including the new Joni Mitchell CD - Shine).

I enjoy Starbucks coffee, but I've only been inside an actual Starbucks twice. I usually buy a bag of their coffee at the grocery store and brew it at my house. SO . . . it was a treat to go the other day with my little gift card (thanks again, Anja) and peruse the seemingly endless menu of coffees, teas, etc.

Blame it on my amazing ability to sniff out the very worst thing for me, but I innocently ordered a Java Chip Frappuccino®. God help me . . . . it was instant addiction.

Unfortunately, a few hours later, it was ALSO instant sugar coma.

When I came to, I looked up the stats on the little confection, and was stunned to see 59g of sugar and 73g of carbs. The only good news was that I didnt order the venti - that might have killed me.

I mourned for a day, finding something so good, yet so bad for me. Then . . . I decided to try to deconstruct it and rebuild it.

I did a little searching around online and found out that a small Java Chip Frap basically consists of:
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon chocolate chips
1 cup double-strength freshly brewed dark roast coffee
Chopped or crushed ice
Cream (I'm guessing)
Whipped cream
Chocolate syrup (for drizzle)

Just for kicks, I brewed up some super strong Starbucks coffee and let it cool. I had whipped cream on hand (whipped cream is low-carb friendly), and of course I had ice. I ALSO had sugarfree Hershey's chocolate syrup AND sugarfree dark chocolate Russell Stover chocolate squares.

I roughly chopped 2 chocolate squares into "chips" and got out my blender. I got 1/2 a glass of chopped ice from my fridge dispenser and began my little experiment. I dumped the ice and the coffee and a couple of packs of Splenda into the blender, along with the chocolate. After that whirred around, it started to resemble the drink I had enjoyed. I then added a splash of my International Coffee Sugar Free coffee creamer (I get that in the refrigerated section of the grocery, and they only make French Vanilla in sugar free form.)

With fingers crossed, I poured it into a glass, and topped it with Redi Whip heavy whipped cream and a drizzle of my sugarfree chocolate syrup, and I'll be damned, it was so close, it brought tears to my eyes.

There's still a few sugar/carb grams, but it's under 5, and I still get the kick of the coffee.

As I was sipping it, I thought about using one of my protein drinks next time, along with the coffee.

This probably bores most of you, but for me, it's like discovering pure gold.

I wonder if Starbucks would ever consider making these? That would be awesome!

13 years ago . . .

. . . I was floating on air on a Monday morning after an all-day first date with Hub the day before.

13 is a big deal to Hub. It's his favorite number (ol' lucky 13). We marked the occasion yesterday by spending most of the day together. We had lunch (Chinese, just like we did back then), and Hub bought me the new Robert Plant/Alison Krauss CD "Raising Sand" (amazing). We also watched "Knocked Up", which was like watching us on video. We could have written that. Seriously.

It was fun to think back on where we came from. Helps you see how far you have come.

Hub and I took the opportunity to talk about some things that we would like to start, and some things that we would like to stop. Feels like a new beginning. Old dogs learning new tricks.

It rained alot (which I like, and which we needed). The Little League game was cancelled, which was kind of a relief. We stayed in with the kids last night, and I read a few chapters of The Spiderwick Chronicles to the kids, Hub and the dogs, who, for some reason, really like to sit with us when I read out loud. LilBit will even look at the pictures when I turn the book around for the kids to see.

I'm pretty sure she hasn't guessed the plot twist yet, though.

Happy Birthday, Diabetes!

Damn, it's already been a year since I got the news. Time flies.

In some ways, I'm alot better now than I was a year ago. I take my medications every day. I stay away from (most, not all) sugar. My numbers are better. My weight is (slightly) lower.

I think this year will bring bigger changes. I wasn't able to motivate myself to exercise this past year, which would have helped alot, but I have a few plans in place to rectify that. Hub is pretty much a superstar in the weightloss department - he's getting closer and closer to his goal weight, and has committed to helping me stay motivated and on track. We just bought an elliptical - it's being delivered this week. Also, I moved my office downstairs, so I climb at least 2 flights of stairs a day, sometimes more.

I made better choices this past year, and I got some good reports from the doctor.

I'd give myself a C+.

Monday, October 1, 2007

I loves me some puppets!

After reading a very cool article in Creative Loafing (local ATL edition of cool stuff to do and see), I bought tickets to something called a "Puppet Slam".

I'd heard of poetry slams before, but never a puppet slam. This one was scheduled to start at midnight Saturday, and with no idea what to expect, Hub and I drove through Sweet Auburn to Little 5 Points to a place called Dad's Garage to witness the greatness.

It was a small 50-seat improv theater, so it was pretty intimate. The next hour was spent laughing loud at long at:

A pink "muppety" puppet singing Journey karaoke-style.

Stick puppets acting out the grisly, bloody story of one geek's drunken DragonCon escapade and subsequent escape from the emergency room
The Ballad of Beau


A monkey and robot team solving the world's greatest riddles and

A sadistic evil pumpkin rod puppet smashing sweet little trick or treaters into bloody messes

Just as I suspected it would be, it was perfection! Bless me Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street, for I have sinned.

American Girls/China Girls

This past week heralded the 12th birthday of my sweet girl. I was driving up 75 a couple of weeks back, wondering what to get her or do for her, since she had been fairly noncommital about what she wanted, when I saw a billboard on the horizon:

Voila. Problem solved. We would go to the new American Girl doll shop and have lunch and pick out a doll and life would be good.

I wasn't all that familiar with American Girls, so I read up a little. Seems that the woman that started the line of dolls did so with the best of intentions - to offer a little history and morality with each doll by casting the dolls as girls that lived during certain times in American history. Each of the American Girl dolls are well-developed characters, with books, outfits, and accessories available to bring the dolls and their lives into your home.

I can totally dig that. I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder when I was a little girl, and I devoured each of the "Little House on the Prairie" books, and would have killed to have had a "Laura" doll (there was no such thing back then.)


So . . . having visions of a quaint little shop with pretty little dolls in my head, we ventured out last Sunday afternoon to experience the American Girls boutique.

When we arrived at the mall, I got my first clue that this was no ordinary doll shop. Entering the mall property, I saw the sign that pointed you to the anchor stores like Sears, JCPenney, Macy's, etc. There, in proud bold letters was "American Girl" with a bright arrow pointing left. Oh my, this store had enough cache' to be considered an anchor store and have some real estate on the directional signs. I started seeing dollar signs at that point.


Nothing could have really prepared me for the greatness that was the American Girl Boutique and Bistro. Nothing could have prepared me for the prices, either.

Sure, the dolls are cute, and you can pick one that has the same eye color, skin tone and hair color that you do, but damn . . . . $102.00 for an 18" doll and her little fuzzy dog? I tried not to register any alarm - this was my little girl's birthday surprise, but I was stunned at the pricetags through the store.


I steadied myself as we took in the intoxicating displays of dolls, clothing and furniture, and we both nearly squealed with delight when we discovered an onsite "doll salon" where anxious little girls stood in line, holding well-loved AG dolls with disheveled hair, waiting to hand them over to the well-trained stylists who meticulously cleaned and restyled the dolls while you waited.
Marvelous. Simply marvelous.

2 hours and $300+ later, we left with a HUGE red shopping bag that contained a new doll with a puppy, and a couple of shirts.

No shit.

I calculated that a decent American Girl collection would be a several thousand dollar investment. As I always do, I started thinking about alternatives.

Ebay? Yard sales?

Ebay turned out to be a fairly decent source for AG and AG knockoff stuff. I found a very nice lady that hand sewed AG pajamas for $6 a set (beats the hell out of $30 a set for the real deal). Searching around a bit more, I saw a few posts that said that Target had an AG scale doll with nice furniture and accessories, etc.

My girl, ever the careful shopper, was delighted to find dolls that looked EXACTLY like her American Girl doll at Target for $29 bucks. "Mom! We could have just gotten these!" she exclaimed as she looked at each pretty doll. "They're made in China, just like the American Girls!" True enough, sweetie. They also had outfits for $9 that were as cute as the $50 ones at the mall.

We did get a few Target things (table, chairs and little ceramic tea set for $29, and a few outfits), then we went on to the Goodwill. Amazingly, they had 2 of the AG knockoff Target dolls there for $1.91 each (what a random price, but whatever . . .) The dolls' hair was a bit messy, but my girl and I went home and constructed our OWN hair salon (I treated the dolls' hair with watered down fabric softener) and I cut and restyled the dolls and my amazement, my girl actually liked them both BETTER than she liked her American Girl doll.

I also found a handmade doll bed at the Goodwill ($12 bucks versus $145) and dropped it off at a local artist's studio where it is being handpainted, covered in flowers in my girl's favorite color (purple) for an additional $20 bucks.

Yeah, American Girl is cute, but the most American part of them is the flagrant consumerism that makes girls and moms alike nearly rabid for the "real" thing versus the "fakes". Turns out, there is a whole class war among the "haves" and the "have nots" as exemplified in this story about a little girl that took her "knockoff" doll to the AG beauty salon and was humiliated by the stylist.

I guess that's about as American as you can get.

P.S. OK, so THIS guy got a little more upset than I would have thought he would, but what a fucking funny read. Favorite excerpt: "Drop to your knees right fucking now and-- NO! Let go of my dick, you fuckin' tramp! Get on your knees and PRAY to Jesus fucking Christ Almighty and thank him. Oh yes, thank him that I was not at American Girl Place that day. You would've been OWNED, bitch. Thank him even harder for the fact that Etta is not my daughter. Had you done that shit to my child, I swear to fucking Christ, I would have reached out and slapped every one of you bitches to the fucking ground! And if you got back up, I'd strangle your snobby ass and beat you until I fucked up your nose job!"

Warning

I am going to be slingling some major blog for the next day or so. Just alot to catch up on.

Don't be alarmed, and for God's sake, don't get used to it. I just have alot of mental vomit to spew.
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