Monday, August 25, 2008

Shades of Black

What could be worse than a weak cup of coffee? Seriously, weak coffee is far worse than no coffee at all. It's just hot, murky water. In the beginning, when my "habit" was just forming, I was never concerned about the quality of my coffee. The kind of bean you use simply isn't important when you drown it in sugar and half and half. Let my brother-in-law illustrate my preferences for you, when asked by his wife what he wanted in his coffee, he teasingly answered her, "I want it to taste like a candy bar". While he was kidding, I was not. That was exactly how I liked my coffee. A milky way with 3 cubes of sugar (4 packets).

During college I realized that the amount of coffee I was drinking near the end of every semester coupled with the amount of sugar in every cup was not only bad for me, it would probably make me fat. So, "health conscious" as I am, I gradually started reducing the number of cubes in my coffee. I was hoping that the actual taste of coffee would eventually grow on me by cutting down the sugar. I don't believe I would have succeeded with my plan, but it was a valiant effort. I was rescued by a late night study session at a friend's place. He was making coffee but didn't have any sugar, only milk. Artes Liberales was pressing and my alertness was I accepted the offer of milky, sugarless coffee. It was surprisingly good!

I thought my tiredness was maybe just playing tricks on me, so I tried it again the next day in our dorm. Not half bad, I thought. Later that day I tried it in SAGA (the cafeteria). Yuck, blegh, ugh! Terrible. I had heard people complain about SAGA coffee before, but I had never noticed. I guess milk and a lot of sugar can cover up just about any blemishes the coffee may have.

Ever since then I've been drinking my coffee (except iced coffee), "just cream, please". I can now distinguish between "good coffee" and "bad coffee". I can't say that I'm a coffee snob in any way. Folgers is fine. Maxwell House has a bitter after-taste but tastes okay going down. Freshly ground beans are probably the best. Flavored-coffee smells good but tastes like SAGA coffee with vanilla slipped into it. The only true requirement I have is that it can't be weak.

Afrin, the Miracle Drug

I was rather under the weather this last week, as was little Dominic. All thanks to his Uncle/Godfather... No, these things are just bound to happen, especially with two "immune compromised" individuals like a pregnant woman and a small child. But we're back, feeling better, and regaining our groove.

Under normal circumstances I often get sinus colds--in fact, I even did a post a while ago about the nature of sinus cavities and "sinusitis", so I won't rehash any of the gory details. For some reason, though, pregnant women are even more prone to sinus inflammation. Something with extra blood for the baby, maybe? So this cold just knocked me off my feet. I was miserable. Exhausted and yet, sleep was almost impossible because either I couldn't breathe, needed chapstick for my poor lips (since I was solely breathing through my mouth), or I felt like I was choking on phlegm. Sorry, I couldn't resist some gory details...

The only thing that got me through this latest attack upon my immune system was Afrin. I had first been introduced to Afrin in junior high by my best friend. She used it for her allergies and was an Afrin-holic, she had so many. I didn't suffer much then, and I had no allergies, so I thought of it only as an allergy nose spray.

Then my oldest brother, the one who should have been a salesman--he can convince you to buy just about anything he happens to be impressed by, regaled me with the wonders of Afrin. Two puffs in each nostril and you will feel like a different person in 30 seconds, guaranteed. I was a bit skeptical. I mean, I couldn't breathe out of my nose at all. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I was willing to put something into my nose only because it couldn't possibly be worse than how it already felt.

20 seconds later, no joke, I felt relief. It's hard to even put words to it. The mucus in my nose just "shrunk" and suddenly the air could get by! I have no idea how this works, but it was miraculous. And it lasted for ten hours of near bliss. Breathing. Sniffing. Relieving head pressure. Wow. I'm a believer.

Beware, though, you are only supposed to take Afrin for three days or you will become addicted.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things

Here are a few gadgets in honor of Konrad, who recently came to visit.

1. Dust Buster with swivel head:
Wow! This little baby does it all. It gets in the cracks of the high chair, it gets under the high chair, in corners, around trim...I've dusted cobwebs with it, cleaned out the minivan, and vacuumed thousands of cracker crumbs off the floor. My particular dust buster is sweeter than most because it has an extendable nose and that end has different angles you can position it in. Plus it is rechargeable.

2. KitchenAid Mixer: This hefty gadget doesn't need much selling. It does all my work for me. I throw in the ingredients and walk away to watch Seinfeld while it sits on the counter stirring, beating, and whipping.

3. Toaster Oven: I'm just continually amazed at how much cooler the toaster oven is than the toaster. I mean, it's going to take up space in your kitchen either way...but if you have a toaster oven you can also grill hot dogs, bake biscuits, or cook chicken breasts without heating up the whole house. And oversized and irregular-shaped bread fits!

4. Power doors on minivan: We almost went with the other model to save money and man o man would that have been a mistake. See, I have these two buttons on my keychain, right below the lock and unlock buttons, that will open either the left or right side door. I push it and the door slides open, just like magic. No need for me to pull the door open while struggling with Dominic, diaper bag, and groceries. Love my power doors. Think power garage door...but on a car.