Saturday, March 24, 2012

Whacky cake and other baking substitutions

I've been doing a lot of experimenting with baked goods lately. It started with making cake pops and trying to make them healthier and with less calories than they normally have and then I found out a lot of people I work with don't eat eggs and one of MacBoy's friends has celiac disease and so doesn't eat wheat.

This is what I've learned:

Don't start with "healthy" recipes you find online

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

The problem with going to a traditional Irish Pub for the St. Patrick's Day Eve is that they don't serve green beer. I have managed to get to my 50s without ever having had any. Once in a while I feel this as a loss, just the fact that I've never read Catcher in the Rye. Or done something else that "everyone" has done.

On actual St. Patrick's Day, I was at Sports Basement's Tri-fest and they had green beer. I was going to get some but I was working the Silicon Valley Tri Club booth and someone else tried it first and said they could taste the green. So I passed. Because it sounded disgusting.

I did make a lot of cake pops though.

And now UHC's web site shows my medical insurance as being cancelled. So once again the people at Hewitt's LIED TO ME. The last person I talked to said she would put in the request to reinstate my insurance and would call me back when it went through. She did NOT call me back. And, instead of re-instating my health insurance, they processed the cancelation with the health insurance company.

I just know when I call on Monday they'll tell me that it was all some automatic process and not to worry and how it will all miraculously take care of itself somehow.

I think it might be time to call my lawyer.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Goofy: A Challenge Half Done

I talked a bit on Facebook and online about my experiences at Walt Disney World and The Goofy Challenge but I never blogged about it. Part of why that happened will be clear as you read further.

To recap: The Goofy Challenge is something that happens at WDW every January during the WDW Marathon Weekend. Most people run either the Half Marathon or the Marathon. A certain Goofy population does BOTH. This is a real thing that Disney sponsors. You sign up for it and you get an extra medal and an extra t-shirt. (Why isn't it called The Dopey? Maybe because there is an unofficial Dopey -- people who sign up for the Goofy Challenge and also the Family Fun Run 5K that happens on Friday.)

Of course, you have sign up for these things well in advance. I'd been planning to do this race starting in 2010 when a friend proposed it and encouraged a bunch of us who frequent the OH Exercise & Fitness forum to do it as a group. We were coming from all over the country to do one or both races. I registered at the time the race was half full and I bought airline tickets in the summer (found a killer deal, too). 

So by the time I broke my brain, I had paid for everything but the actual Disney Vacation package. And it was all either completely or mostly nonrefundable.

Monkey Pop: Too cute to eat!

I got the idea to make monkey-shaped cake pops a while back. I was looking for something to make for the concession stand at Mini-Mac's show and, since there is a Circle of Life scene, I figured some jungle animals would be nice. I looked all over the web for ideas and, man, there are some creepy looking monkey and lion cake pops out there.

I finally settled on a design of my own that combined the best parts of several designs I saw.

But they involved using a Peanut Butter chip for the mouth and nose and one of the rules for the baked goods at the concession stand is "no nuts." So I won't be making them for "Wish Upon a Star". Which is too bad because the chocolate peanut butter cake pops are to die for. If I do say so myself.

I also won't be posting a recipe because I've decided to enter a recipe contest and every contest I've looked at has the following rule:

Your recipe can not have been previously published anywhere including ... blogs ... 

Bummer.

But the basics are pretty easy to figure out. I made a chocolate "cake" using my special "low sugar" substitutions to a brownie recipe and then mushed it up with peanut butter. The first batch, I used PB2, which I think works great for cake pops. The second batch, I did some with PB2, but I didn't have enough so I did the rest with regular peanut butter. They didn't hold together too well. After the first two exploded when I tried to monkey-fy them, I gave up and just did regular cake pops covered in sprinkles. And was very, very careful getting the chocolate on.

The second set came out better. I'm getting better at controlling the chocolate. But we ate them before I could take a picture. They went fast! So just imagine a lot of monkeys like this only with neater body parts.



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Navigating our byzantine health care system

In the continuing saga of my COBRA medical coverage, I decided to wait to see if my account would be updated on Monday. This company does a lot of batch processing over the weekend even though we're in the 21st Century and most database get updated instantaneously or at least nightly. But by end-of-day there was no change, so today I called them.

As usual the person I talked to was very nice. They also had the same "no worries" attitude that they all give out. Oh, don't worry, we did process your check. We just cancelled your account because we do that automatically on the 4th or 5th of each month, if we don't get your check by then. No biggie, right? Okay, no one said directly "no biggie" but they might as well have. They act like everything is "no big deal." But it's my health insurance so everything is a big deal!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hewitt/Your Benefits Resources? You SUCK!

Damn, the COBRA people are working my every last nerve. Their online system sucks and their phone system isn't much better. They give out inconsistent information and they go out of their way to screw me at every turn. I have had so much trouble with them but this latest fiasco has to be the worst.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Stopping Emotional Eating

I used to think I wasn't an emotional eater. And, for the most part, I'm  not. I don't eat to stuff down negative feelings or to deal with the pain of abuse, for example. But I do tend to eat when I'm bored, which counts.

I think the "eating when bored" thing is something a lot of people do. Eating is stimulating, after all, so it does a decent job of snapping you out of boredom. It's just that it can set up a destructive cycle.

In the "50 Tips to Help You Succeed at Normal Eating", the last set are all about Emotional Eating and how to stop it. They are:

When you have the urge to eat when you’re not hungry, ask yourself what you might be feeling.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Old Job vs. New Job

There are certain things I don't blog about very much. This includes my job. I also don't bitch about it on Facebook or anywhere online that the public can get too. I've heard too many horror stories about people being fired or not getting jobs because someone read something they posted about work and took it the wrong way. But the differences between my old and new job are somewhat fascinating to me so I decided to risk talking about them a little.

Old Job was in  High Tech. New Job is for a Public Utility. You'd think they'd be like night and day, but in a lot of ways they aren't. Some of those ways are profound and some are not.