Sunday, November 29, 2009

Eating Humble Pie

In case any of you were wondering what pie I ended up making (no? well too bad), I went with my sister's amazing apple pie recipe.

I don't actually like apple pie much. Not an apple fan in general. But this recipe is so delicious I just can't resist it. Something about it---the mixture of different types of apples, the tartness, the firmness, the lack of carmely flavor- which I can't abide in apple desserts-and the lack of syrupy goo--just makes this pie wonderful. (If you want the recipe, you can find it at

I got up early to make this pie. I wanted to give it time to settle (a tip I got from the website on working with fruit pies. They tend to give up their juice when cooking but they re-absorb it as they cool. So let your pie cool and then reheat later if you don't want a runny pie.) I worked on it all day...double crust (Ok, Marie Calendar actually made the crust, but I did have to roll out the top crust so it would fit. Besides, just peeling apples takes forever!). It looked so beautiful when I was done. The crust was a perfect golden brown. The inside was bubbling nicely and hadn't leaked out. I was so proud!

After dinner, I was excited to be the first to try my pie. But as I bit into the first piece, I decided that it was much too sour. Too many Granny Smiths, I decided. I should have added more sugar, I thought. And then the wheels in my head started to turn... I remembered putting in cinnamon, nutmeg, corn starch, vanilla, lemon juice....SHOOT! I forgot to add the sugar!

Luckily, with 7 different pies to choose from, no one had tried my pie yet except me. I took the other 7/8ths of my pie home in shame.

Later my mom came up with the brilliant idea of scooping out the filling, mixing in some sugar, and stuffing it back in. Delicious! And all the leftovers are at my house. Just the way I like it. (Thanks, Mom, for averting a serious pie disaster!)

Anyone for pie?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pie On The Brain

So I'm in charge of making mashed potatoes and pie for our family Thanksgiving dinner. Mashed potatoes are no problem. Easy peasy. But pie is a bit more work. So I've been thinking about which pie, and which recipe, to make. It lead me to the following question:

What's your favorite pie?

It doesn't have to be a Thanksgiving pie. I just wondered what everyone else likes when they think pie.

I like pecan. I also like chocolatey confections with several layers. If the apple pie is fresh and well-made, I like apple. But I'm pretty picky about apple pies because most of them are gross. Sour cream berry pies are good. Pumpkin? NO THANKS. Blech.

What about you?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dirty Little Secret Part 2

In case you weren't around last year when I let the cat out of the bag, it's time you knew...

I am a Passion Parties' consultant! What is Passion Parties? It's a company that does parties in women's homes, like Tupperware or Pampered Chef. Only instead of selling plastic containers and kitchen gadgets, I sell romantic products. My company's philosophy is that women should be able to enjoy sex as much as men, and if you need a little help, then get it! Everything we sell, with one or two exceptions, is for WOMEN. It's all about making things fun, building intimacy, improving satisfaction...basically bringing husband and wife closer together. And it's all done in the privacy of a friend's home--safe, tasteful, confidential, informative. If you've ever been to a sex-shop trying to find something to spice up your love life, you'll know that it's usually a) embarrassing b) scary c) gross d) expensive and e) overall a nerve-wracking and overwhelming experience. So Passion Parties tries to make looking for romantic products a lot easier and less intimidating. Even some of my most conservative friends have said to me later, "I was really nervous to go to that kind of party, but it was great! It was very tastefully done." And the party consultant is like your own little Dr.Ruth, there to give advice and tips and guide you to finding products that will help you rekindle the romance.

We sell tame things like little card games and dice to help you be more creative in the bedroom, flavored products like chocolate raspberry passion powder and Fireworks flavored massage lotion, and lingerie. We also sell more wild products that I'll leave to your imagination. But everything is sold with the intent to help couples get closer to each other and have more satisfaction in the bedroom.

I went to my first Passion Party about 4 years ago and bought quite a bit of stuff. I went to my second Passion Party the next year and bought a bunch more stuff. I loved their products so much that I decided to sell them. And I've really enjoyed being in this business. It is part teacher (because the parties are very educational), part therapist (because women open up to me about what they're dealing with so I can help them find a solution) and part comedian (because I try to keep my presentations very light). It's really a fun job. And I believe strongly in what I do. I believe that adding a bit of spice to your marriage is a GOOD thing. The more a couple enjoys sex, the more sex they'll have. And the more sex they have, they happier and more faithful they are likely to be. So it's all good for a healthy, happy, even religious marriage!

Things have been kind of slow since the summer, though. People were busy and out of town a lot. So I'm trying to get the ball rolling again now that school is back in session. And with Christmas approaching, my products make great stocking stuffers for your Sweetie. So if you think you might be interested in either products or a party, let me know. You can browse at my website here. If you'd like to know more, you can email me at arianne at the passionroom dot com. (Everything is completely confidential. And don't worry about sharing details or asking me's my job! Just think of me like your doctor--I don't judge, and I promise I won't laugh.)

AND I have some deals going on:

1) Early Bird Special!! Order by November 30th, and I will give you 15% off your order AND I will enter you in a drawing to receive a Passion Parties basket, full of more than $50 worth of Passion Parties products. (Use the code "earlybird09" on my website.)

2) If you place an order on my website before Dec 30th, use the code "blogpromo" at checkout and I'll give you 10% off your order. (Or mention to me that you saw this on my blog if you perfer to email me your order.)

3) Sign up to hold a party that takes place before Dec 30th and I will give you an extra 5% hostess credit (for a total of 15%) at your party.

4) Not daring enough to hold a party yourself but have a friend you know would love to be a hostess? Well, if you refer someone to me for a party, I'll send YOU a gift certificate to use at my website. Just have them use your name when they contact me.

Thanks for allowing this shameful self-solicitation! I hope to hear from you soon.

Monday, November 23, 2009

How I Almost Got Sold Into Black Market Slavery In Thailand

Ok, you voted and here it is: my tale of intrigue, danger, and very good pineapple...

In 1994, at age 19, I signed up to do my Anthropology senior project in India. My friend Rachelle and I decided to get round-the-world plane tickets and see a bit of the world before and after our semester in India. Our itinerary went L.A., Seoul, Hong Kong, Bangkok, India (for 4 months), then Frankfurt, London, and back home.

We planned for about 2 weeks to tour Asia before we were due to arrive in New Delhi to meet with our university group. We had an amazing time. After a few days in Seoul and Hong Kong, we arrived in Bangkok for 6 days. We were in love with it. It was an exciting city. The food was spicy and delicious. It was hot and humid with swaying palm trees. The people were beautiful and friendly. The shopping was amazing, and there was so much culture everywhere you looked. And everything was dirt cheap. The dollar had a great exchange rate at the time. About 30 Baht to one U.S. dollar.

Rachelle and I stayed in a youth hostel on the outskirts of town. It was air conditioned, had a sit down toilet (a bonus in Asia) and a hot shower. Heaven. In the lobby of the hostel, there were signs posted all over to beware of well-dressed men trying to sell us jewels. These men were usually con-artists who would sell us junk or else grossly inflate the price for raw jewels. So we were on the look-out. We weren’t about to get scammed.

One day Rachelle and I decided to go see the Grand Palace. We headed towards the nearest bus stop and munched on super juicy, chili-dusted pineapple while we waited. Finally the rusty bus arrived and we made our way through the busy streets of Bangkok. There were so many pieces of beautiful Thai architecture throughout the city. Suddenly we saw a massive white building with a golden roof and were sure it must be the palace. But we had mistakenly got off at the wrong bus stop. As the bus pulled away, we found ourselves staring at a large Buddhist temple rather than the palace.

Just then I felt a hand touch my arm. I turned to see a tiny, middle-aged Thai woman. She stroked my arm lightly and said, “So white. So beautiful.” Then she introduced herself as M’am and asked us if we were lost. We told her we had planned to see the Grand Palace but had gotten off at the wrong stop. She told us that she was a school teacher from Chiang Mai, an area 400 miles north, here on vacation. She spoke very good English and offered to take us on a tour of the palace since she often did so with her students. We agreed. So we accompanied her into the temple to do her prayers and then set off.

We hopped in a tuk-tuk, a three-wheeled cab of sorts (called a Rik-shaw in India). M’am asked if we had been on a banana boat ride. We hadn’t, and this was one of the things we really wanted to do while in Thailand. So we took a detour with M’am down to the harbor. As we went past the pay booth on the dock, M’am spoke to the woman in Thai. She waved us through the turnstile. I tried to read the pricing sign above her head, but all the words were in Thai.

Up ahead was a beautiful, banana-shaped, rainbow-canopied boat. We climbed in with M’am and our two drivers, a brother and sister team in their late teens. The boat ride was amazing. After making our way through the filthy brown harbor littered with garbage, we entered the back canals of Bangkok. We wound through these narrow reed-filled rivers for over an hour, getting glimpses of the real Thailand: women knee-deep washing their clothes, children splashing in the water, nursing dogs lolling on the shore, family shrines to Buddha strung with fresh marigolds. It was the kind of thing an anthropology student lives for.

As we glided along, M’am spoke of her city of Chiang Mai. It was green and mountainous, not dirty and crowded like Bangkok. Her father was a wealthy farmer. He owned a large house with many rooms, all of them air conditioned. He owned elephants, which we could ride. Wouldn’t we like to come and visit her and her family in Chiang Mai? It sounded wonderful to me and Rachelle. Exactly the kind of adventure we were looking for. Something off the beaten track, something gritty and real, away from the tourists.

But as the trip continued, and M’am continued to sing the praises of Chaing Mai, I began to be filled with fear. I can’t explain it exactly, but I knew we shouldn’t go to Chiang Mai. As much as I wanted to experience the real Thailand and ride elephants and see the jungle, I just didn’t feel it was safe. M’am was selling it hard. Almost too hard. And I realized that if we went with her, no one on this earth would know where we had gone. Our families were back in the U.S. and Australia waiting for, at best, a weekly check in. Our teacher and university group weren’t expecting us in India for another few days. No one would miss us. No one would no where to look for us. If something happened to us, we would be gone without a trace. So I whispered to Rachelle as the boat sailed back out into the open harbor and headed for the dock that I didn’t have a good feeling about the way things were going and I thought we should try to lose M’am. She agreed, and we decided just to pay for the boat ride and then get rid of our tour guide. M’am had graciously paid for the tuk-tuk we rode to the harbor, so we figured we should at least offer to pay for the boat ride. When we asked her how much it was, she told us it was 3000 Baht each. This seemed like a lot to us. In fact, it was all the money we’d taken out of the ATM to last us our whole time in Thailand. But we’d been through three countries’ exchange rates in a week so we weren’t 100% sure how much 3000 Baht was. And it had been a very long boat ride, over an hour and a half. And we’d had it all to ourselves, with no other passengers. And we were in the middle of a deep, filthy harbor—not someplace you’d want to be dumped off if you refused to pay and made the boat captain mad. So we paid for the boat ride. But it solidified to us even more that we needed to lose our native companion. Obviously she had no problem taking us to very pricey tourist attractions.

Back at the dock, M’am suggested we go to the Grand Palace and then stop for dinner afterward. She knew of an amazing restaurant with traditional Thai dancing. I’m sure in any other situation we would have loved that type of thing. But by now all the alarm bells in my head were ringing full blast, and I knew we needed to get ourselves alone. At the very least so we could make plans without her pressuring us. But I also felt inside that we were better off without her, that there was some danger to the situation that I wasn’t yet fully aware of. So we told M’am that we were all out of money and wanted to go back to our hotel first. She offered to accompany us, several times, but were insistent that we go alone. We promised to meet her at the Grand Palace in an hour after we rested and visited the ATM. Finally, with no other choice, she agreed and we got in separate tuk-tuks and went our way.

As we drove, Rachelle and I both agreed that we had a bad feeling about the situation. We were pretty sure we’d paid far too much for our boat ride. And we just wanted to clear our heads before deciding whether or not to meet M’am for the palace tour and dinner. When we arrived back at our hostel, we inquired at the front desk about how much a banana boat ride should cost. The girl working the front desk said that a regular banana boat ride should be about 7 Baht, and a sunset dinner cruise would run about 30. And we had paid 3000 each! Clearly we had gotten scammed. And not by a well-dressed man trying to sell us jewels. No, it was a sweet, tiny, middle-aged woman who got our money. The lady at the front desk could see our shock when she told us the boat ride prices, so we recounted our story to her. Now it was she who looked alarmed. “Do you realize,” she told us, “that you probably just avoided being kidnapped? Here in Thailand, there is a secret slave trade. Unsuspecting foreign women are lured into leaving their surroundings, kidnapped, and kept as prostitutes, sex slaves. They’re kept high on drugs so that they cannot think or run or try to escape.” This news chilled us, as I’m sure you can imagine. If it hadn’t been for the feeling we’d had that something was wrong, we might have gone off to dinner with M’am. She might have slipped drugs in our drinks. And we might have disappeared from a restaurant in Bangkok, never to be heard from again. Yes, it’s possible that M’am really wasn’t trying to kidnap us. Maybe she was just after more of our money. But thinking back to the way she had stroked my arm outside the Buddhist temple, I know which way I lean.

In the end, I guess I’ll never know what might have happened if we’d agree to go to Chiang Mai. I’m glad I’ll never know.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Weekend Writing Project

I've been writing a lot of short, shallow, get-me-through-the-week-until-I-have-time-to-write-a-decent-post posts this week. But I've had a couple of topics on my mind to do a more lengthy and/or entertaining post. I know what you're thinking: More entertaining, less lengthy. Well, I guess we'll see how that works out. At any rate, I thought I'd give you the chance to "choose your own adventure" so to speak. Like Dragon's Lair, only way more verbose.

Option 1: The Tale of the Mysterious Monkey Poo

Option 2: How I Almost Got Sold Into Black Market Slavery in Thailand

Both true stories. Take your pick, and I'll have a nice scintillating, loquacious-ish story for you on Monday.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bookworm or techgeek?

Would you read using a Kindle? Why or why not?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Like everyone with his affliction, he is so consumed that his only option is to hide himself away so that others cannot see the lengths he will go to to get his fix. His embarrassment and shame forces him to conceal himself in dark corners. He can't get enough. It's all he can think about, day and night. He is an addict.

(That's an iPhone, in case you can't see it well enough.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

And That's Why They Call It "Fall"

I know it looks like we haven't raked our yard in a month, but except for the tiny hump of leaves in the middle of picture 2, this all took place in ONE night.

That's just how my ash trees roll.


Monday, November 16, 2009

101 Ways To Ignore Your Responsibilities

# 24

Go to Amazon to buy a car charger for your new iPhone. Decided it will be more economical to get a charger/faceplate/screen protector combo. After looking through roughly 900 options, decide you should check ebay for a better deal before purchasing. 5 1/2 hours later, you will have a new car charger, 3 screen protectors, hard faceplate, soft faceplate, home charger, retractable USB cable, stylus (Why? Cause it was included!) and car holster for your iPhone. All for the bargain price of $8.99!

AND you will have sucessfully avoided all famililial responsibilities for the better part of a day. Win-win!

You're welcome.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

(High Sugar) Food For Thought

My husband emailed me this and I just couldn't help but pass it on. Some of it is actually quite startling.

Sugar Cube Math. Each cube is a teaspoonful.

So what they're saying is, I should cut out my Cinnabon and McFlurry breakfast? SONOFA.