Monthly Archives: March 2011

Website Intrigue: From Technically Challenged to Techie!

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

The first computer that I ever used was a Commodore 64.  My boyfriend brought it home for me but I never really knew what to do with it.

I took a computer programming class in college but I never seemed to get interested in the whole phenomena.  I think I got a D or an F because it was so damn early – 9 am I think!

The first time I actually used a computer for word processing, spreadsheets and otherwise was in the 1990’s at work in New York City.  Little by little I got my feet wet.

Now I consider myself a techie.  The only time I’m not using the computer is when I’m sleeping or sick as a dog – otherwise it is part of my daily life at home and at work.

Surfing the Net is my passion and past time.  You can find almost anything if not everything on the web.  From useful to just plain BIZARRE.

Here are a few websites that intrigue me:

I hope you enjoy them too.  Do you have any to share?

© 2011 J. H-M. and CultureChoc2010.


Shopping For Pole: Re-blogged

Cross Knee Release on a portable strippers pole.

Image via Wikipedia

Whether it’s FEDEX, UPS, DHL or USPS, my delivery men know me well.  My UPS guy told me that he’s never seen someone get as many packages as I do.  I don’t know if I should take this as a compliment or a “damn, I’m glad you’re not my wife!”

I love buying makeup from Sephora, toiletries from (until they started charging me tax), books and DVDs from Amazon and just about anything on easy pay from HSN or QVC.  I earn frequent flyer miles for Continental Airlines and get Membership Rewards from American Express.  I flew to France for free on those miles!

I buy everything from false eyelashes to furniture on-line.  Last year I bought a $400 Cricut machine that I have yet to use – but I’ll use it eventually.  I buy clothes, bras, toys, cat stuff, shoes, food, books, magazines, coats, wine, housewares, linens, video equipment, toilets, sinks, switch plate covers, molding, exercise paraphernalia, a 1976 Fiat Spider, computers, lighting and a ton of other stuff.  Can you tell I love to shop?

I am without a doubt an utter shopaholic.  I mean I wouldn’t go to the lengths to find an zero-balance credit card that Isla Fisher went to in Confessions of A Shopaholic – I keep the unused cards in a more accessible place – but I do have a true addiction.  I get a total high when I buy something new.  I can’t help myself.

One of my favorite purchases was a pair of mid thigh-high brown suede boots.  I think I wore them once but that’s not bad for someone who has 400 pairs of shoes.  In any case, my most unusual purchase was one that I made towards the end of 2009.  My husband was home when the package arrived and he had already open it before I got home from work.  It was laying on the living room floor and had a picture of Carmen Elektra hanging on it.

You can imagine his surprise when he discovered that I bought a stripper pole!  It is so cool.  I heard so many things about using it for exercise and I just had to try it out.  A couple of days later John put it up in our bedroom.  It is a portable pole which meant that I didn’t have to drill it into a beam and I could take it anywhere.  My own private pole.

After John assembled it with instructions in Dutch I started to play.  I watched an internet video to see how to use it and tried a few moves.  It is harder than it looks but I felt triumphant until the pole detached from the ceiling and we both (the pole and I) fell head first to the floor.  I saved my head but lost the pole – my husband would have to fasten it to the ceiling.  Dammit!

I have had a few other minor pole accidents.  I ended up with metal chards in my hand and I cut my leg on the adjustable bottom.  But  now the pole is securely fastened and I have mastered several moves; one being the “Back Hook Spin”.  Every time I work the pole it takes so much upper body strength that I get so sore and achy.  I can only hope that I somehow master that giant shaft gleaming from floor to ceiling in the corner of my bedroom, since I’ve already mastered the other one.  : )

© 2011 J. H-M. and CultureChoc2010.

Gravy. Mmmm, Mmmm Good!

Gravy is my comfort food.  When I talk about gravy, I’m talking about the RED stuff you put on macaroni – not brown gravy.  If you’re a North Jersey Italian-American, GRAVY is where it’s at.

I was always taught that tomato sauce comes out of a can.  What you put into that tomato sauce makes it gravy.  I firmly believe this with all of my heart.  There was nothing better than a pot of my Grandma’s gravy (or my Mom’s) cooking on the stove on Saturday night and all morning Sunday.  We had our Sunday dinner at 1 pm in our house and the whole house smelled incredible.  Sunday was always macaroni day for my family.

On occasion I remember my mom making roast beef or some other dish on Sunday.  My dad and I were always very disappointed when we didn’t feast on Rotelli or Shells with a big piece of hot Italian sausage and a delicious meatball.  It was torture.

On Saturday night Mommy and Grandma would make the meatballs and brown all the meat in the oven.  My dad and I hung around the kitchen waiting for the meatballs to be ready.  We would grab a small Dixie cup and plop one of those bad boys atop and eat it like a hot ice cream cone.  When Grandma made the Brasciole I would steal the Pignoli nuts that she rolled inside and eat them by the handfuls.  My mother always had to hide the bottle.

Then the gravy-process started in that giant white, porcelain pot set on top of 2 grates so the gravy didn’t burn.  The browning of the garlic rocked as it wafted through the house and the neighborhood (if the windows were open).  Neither used onion or tomato paste (I do) so spices, herbs, crushed tomatoes, water, grated cheese, sugar and the magic ingredient “pepperoni” were all tossed in the pot, brought a strong simmer and cooked for an hour or so before adding all that yummy browned meat.

I watched like a ravenous dog waiting for a treat to drop on the floor as I stared at the CREATION.  Meatballs, hot sausage, sweet sausage, steak, pork bones (spareribs) and sometimes even a piece of veal were blended together to form, quite frankly, a mouth-watering masterpiece.  My mouth is watering now.  Fortunately I learned how to make a kick-ass gravy and meatballs to boot.  I actually went back to my great-grandmother’s recipe and made it my own.  When my husband tells me that I make the best meatballs and gravy that he’s ever eaten, it makes me glow with pride and happiness.

I miss the days when we spent every Sunday having a family dinner in the middle of the afternoon.  I miss that giant bowl of pasta and an equally giant plate of meat.  I miss the good Italian bread and the salad that we ate with or after our meal.  Those were the days.

It’s before everyone got too busy to make time for family.  Weekly quality time with a family who loved you and who you loved back.  The older I get, the more I long for those days as there are more and more of us in the earth than on it anymore.

Every time I smell my gravy cooking on the stove, it fills me with wonderful memories and actually transports me back in time.  I see it.  I hear it. I smell it and I taste it.
Gravy IS my comfort food.
GRAVY is my time machine.


© 2011 J. H-M. and CultureChoc2010.


My Favorite Posts

Everyone has their favorite posts – for various reasons….  Here are mine – well today anyway:

Notice a pattern?

Yet another pattern?

Yes.  A pattern again!

© 2011  J. H-M and CultureChoc2010

A Pain In The What?

For some reason, I know not what, I have been saddled with the worse neck pain with no explanation.

A few days ago I had a pain on the left side of my head that worried me.  I figured out that it was radiating from my neck up into my head.  The next day it invaded my shoulder-blade and the following day it picked up and completely moved to the other side of my body without any warning.

The pain is worse and my self-medicating practices are not working very well.  I guess I’ll have to make a trip to the doctor’s against my will if I want some relief.

I asked my husband to do me a few favors because I am in pain (oh and took on a second job a few days after work) and even though I’m going to work and what not, I can’t lift anything or move my head around too much.

You would think that it would simple.  Nope.  I asked:

  1. Please pick up a quart of synthetic oil for my car.  The oil light is on and I can’t get to the mechanic for various reasons (that’s another story).
  2. Please help me put the liquid antibiotic in the cat’s mouth.  I can’t manoeuver properly in this condition.
  3. Please get litter and food at the pet store.  I can’t lift it.
  4. Please change the cats’ boxes – again I cannot lift the litter.

The results are in:

No to 1, 2, 3, 4.

I attempted number two and just got spit up on.

What the hell am I doing wrong?

I think I have a pain in the ass instead of a pain in the neck!

Do you have one of those too????

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Eructation, Flatulence And Other Funny Noises? A Re-Blog

As I’ve said before, if you are a teacher you need a sense of humor.  The minute someone farts, burps or makes some other weird noise, you lose all control of the classroom for a few minutes.  The giggling and laughing overtake the room.  The sarcastic comments from the kids flood the class with a host of accusations about who farted, burped or otherwise.  When my stiletto makes a squeak on the floor I too find it necessary to say, “That was my shoe, not me”.

I started writing about this topic when my period 10 class was amidst presentations.  The room was quiet, someone walked up to present and yes, someone farted.  Though the offender was never confirmed we all had our ideas.  Although I am against farting in class, you have to feel for a kid who accidentally slips one out.  Who would want to admit that in school?  Your friends don’t care but among a host of mixed company you will be socially destroyed.

My friend (who shall be nameless) used to fart in the car, lock the windows and put the heat on full blast.  This wasn’t fitting behavior for 17 & 18-year-old young women – but when alone we did act pretty gross.  The same friend passed gas in my face during a Twister grudge match in her living room.  I did not falter but my nose did.  Despite her flatulence, she is still my friend today.

We grow up (at least I did) thinking farting was the funniest thing ever.  Our fathers farted and made jokes about.  My Poppy was an equal offender.  And almost every guy I dated (for a significant period of time – including my spouse) was a Lothario of Farts who thought they seduced women with their perfume.  At a really young age I may have found it funny but at this point in my life I’m just grossed out.

I mean, I couldn’t say the word “fart” in mixed company until I started teaching.  I always said “passed gas” because it was more elegant – I’m not sure how that can be elegant but maybe I’m looking for the words proper or correct.  I was baptized into my first year teaching by a student and his farts.  I had a class of 10th or 11th grade boys with one poor girl thrown in.  I couldn’t take the gas so I made the guilty student go outside, shake it out a bit and come back in EVERY SINGLE time.  And he did.  The best was when someone walked into it after he left the hallway.  I couldn’t help but crack up by the look on the poor kid’s face who walked into that horror show of an odor.  Yes, I found it funny as well.

Kids will be kids – but I can’t say that without saying – old people with be old people.  Today I was walking around Target when I ducked into the magazine aisle to find a lo-cal recipe for tonight’s dinner.  As soon as I grabbed a magazine an old lady loudly farted and looked around to see if anyone had heard her indiscretion.  I avoided eye contact and quickly threw the magazine back in the rack and got out of there quickly.  Ew.  I was thoroughly grossed out then I remembered that I knew people who did that too.  They would offend and walk away and leave it lingering for all to walk through.  I don’t think I ever did that.  Maybe once in an emergency but never on purpose.

Everyone passes gas, burps, poops and pees but we all pretend that we don’t.  Some middle school boys may have a rude awakening in the future when they discover that girls actually do all these things too.  We blame it on the cat or dog or someone else.  Whoever smelt it dealt it.  Whoever denied it supplied it.  Are there any new ones?

Girls, boys, men women, dogs, cats.  Why are these noises so funny?  Is it innate, learned, spontaneous or just plain old bad manners?

Image: Clare Bloomfield /

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Le Mur Des Justes: The Wall of the Righteous

Inspired recently by some poignant World War II Occupation movies like Un Secret and Au Revoir Les Enfants, I decided to share some photos of memorials that can only make us remember and reflect the tragic circumstances surrounding the German Occupation in France.

This wall bears the names of the righteous among the nations who, in France, rescued Jews during the second world war, sometimes at the risk of their own lives.

Martyrs Français de la Déportation – right behind Notre Dame.

In Le Jardin du Luxembourg.

At Père Lachaise.

© 2011 J. H-M. and CultureChoc2010.

Stiff Stuff: An Adventure In Hair Re-Blogged

You can take me out of the eighties but you can’t take the eighties out of my hair!

Does anyone remember Stiff Stuff?  It was the 1980s hairspray with the super hold – it was essentially hair glue.  I bought it by the case and used it religiously.  I could tease my hair straight up in the air and with a few sprays of Stiff Stuff, it wouldn’t budge all day long.

Recently I stopped by my local beauty supply store to pick up some super moisturizing conditioner that I like and there it was.  STIFF STUFF.  Not in the yellow and white can but in a new silver one.  It was on sale for $1.88 and believe me, I was tempted but at the same time very leery.

Could it be the same Stiff Stuff?  Maybe.  Probably, but I passed it by an opted for my new glue What A Tease:  Backcomb In A Bottle by Big Sexy Hair.

My friends always make fun of me because of my hair care products like Big Sexy Hair SprayHard HeadHelmet Head and What A Tease.  I think those names are normal – maybe because I grew up in North Jersey with BIG HAIR and a big attitude.

I may have graduated to more expensive versions but it will always be stiff stuff for me!

© 2011 J. H-M. and CultureChoc2010.


Pasta Caprese Revisted

It’s really hard for me to stay away from pasta completely.  I’m always looking for a light dish so I can eat my macaroni and not feel guilty.

This is my twist on a Pasta Caprese.

  • 1 pound linguine or spaghetti – 1 c pasta water reserved
  • 1 -1/2 c – 2 c tomatoes, diced – preferably heirloom of different colors and types (cherry, grape, plum, etc.)
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1/2 c  fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Sea salt to taste


Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Mix the diced tomatoes and cubed mozzarella in a large bowl. Add the extra-virgin olive oil, oregano, basil leaves, and salt, to taste.

When the linguine is ready, reserve 1 cup of pasta water, drain pasta and add it to the bowl with approximately 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Mix well, adjust seasoning and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

This no-cook, warm weather friendly sauce makes a great salad too!

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

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© 2011  J. H-M and CultureChoc2010