Sunday, February 28, 2010

Crazy Eights

Instead of 8 micro-posts, I'm opting for one giant disconnected post.

1. Cynthia and I have callings in our new ward. Cynthia is the assistant-secretary in the Relief Society. I guess you need assistant secretaries in huge wards. Go figure. I'm now a scoutmaster for the blazer scouts. Those boys sure are rowdy at age 11. It's almost exactly like the boys at home, except a little more...vulgar.

2. I can't believe there are blossoms on the trees already! It's the dead of winter in Wisconsin right now. I almost feel like it's too good to last.The rain has also slowed down the past few weeks, though I know that IS too good to last.

This is a picture in the park outside my office. I work in that black box.

3. I informed my boss that I've decided to stop studying for the next actuarial exam in order to focus on my work. (sniff, sniff). This way I'll actually have time to see my family after a day's work and not stress out. Still, it was my goal for a few years to complete my FSA this summer, so this is a bit of a drag.

4. The four of us played Gulo Gulo tonight, an excellent kid's board game that I almost included in the "Better Board Games" post last year. The unusual thing about this is that it was the first time in 35 days that I've played a board game. Since we started getting into board games in Dec 2007, I haven't gone more than 10 days without playing a game. So far I've only paid 2 games in 2010. I think I'm going through withdrawal.

5. True to our word, we made an Alpha Pig cake for Carter's birthday. Actually, Cynthia did it all. I wanted to postpone his birthday party with the move and everything else that was going on, but Cyn pushed through. We used the FBCT method again. Not as good as the Super Why cake, but incredible considering the time/equipment we had.

Thanks for being such a good sport for your birthday, Carter. Hopefully it will be a little less chaotic next year.

6. Poor Lofty was towed away by Habitat for Humanity on Friday. It was actually still in semi-operable condition when we bought the new car, but we couldn't even start Lofty when it was time for the towing. I guess it's a good thing we bought something else! Cynthia described it as a sad event as we had so many memories in that car.

7. I've decided to finally get serious about dropping the 50 pounds of excess I've been carrying around since 2004. I've never been much of a runner so treadmills just ain't my thing, but I've always loved biking. Unfortunately though, I haven't had a bike since 2002. With a portion of the tax refund we got, I'm buying a new bike. It was far more difficult settling on a bike than a new car with the vast selection available in Portland. However, I test rode this one on Saturday and I fell in love. It's a 2009 Scott Sportster P55 hybrid bike, and I can't wait to get my road legs back on it.

8. Jordan drew another book for us. I think this is the first one he's done for us in color. And I mean COLOR! Wow! My eyes are still healing.
Fire Problem                                                            
By the way, the story ends well. Jordan drew a tiny picture of a house on the back cover and said "that's the new house they got".

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Starbucks Satiety

 An old friend of mine wanted to open an upscale sandwich shop with me called "Coffee Sucks" as an alternative to coffee shops.
The concept might work in Utah, but no where else, regrettably.

A funny thing about living in the Northwest is the shear number of Starbucks to be found. Within one mile of our apartment there are four Starbucks. Within two miles of our pad, there are two different neighborhoods where each has two Starbucks within 500 feet of each other.

My previous employer tried to get me addicted to caffeine by giving me gift cards to Starbucks every time I took an actuarial exam. I amassed $50 in cards and (as I'm not a coffee or tea drinker) I had no idea what to do with them. Until...

I discovered Caramel Apple Spice. The perfect combination of apple, cinnamon, caramel, and cream. Moreover, the drink was murky, which made me think it was real apple cider. I think I now have about $12 left on the gift card. Tee hee.

Amazingly though, I haven't used any of that $12 since November. The last time I got one, I made the mistake of going through the drive-thru (which has a terrific view of the bar) and I got to see how the ciders are made. The barista pulls out a plastic bottle of Tree Top apple juice (just like the one at Wal-Mart!), adds a few drops of cinnamon syrup (right off the shelf at Starbucks), heats it up, adds whipped topping, and sprinkles caramel sauce (again, straight off the shelf) on top to finish it off.

I can make that at home for under a buck. Why am I paying $5.95? You've cheated me, Starbucks.


If you'd like to make it at home, for 1/6 the cost of Starbucks, the recipe is in the next post.

Caramel Apple Spice Recipe

Caramel Apple Spice

Tree Top premium apple juice
Cinnamon syrup (recipe below)
Whipped cream
Caramel sauce (see below)

1. Add 2 tsp of cinnamon syrup to 8 oz apple juice. Stir, heat in microwave.
2. Squirt a healthy portion of whipped cream on top
3. Drizzle caramel sauce all over whipped cream.
4. Sell at a markup of at least 600%. Retire rich.

Cinnamon Syrup

Boil 1/2 cup sugar in 1/2 cup water over med-high heat until dissolved. Add 1 Tbsp cinnamon (Saigon or Vietnamese cinnamon works best for the cider).

Caramel Sauce

Caramel sauce is incredibly easy for how delicious and versatile it is. Any amount of sugar, a touch of corn syrup, and enough water to make it wet. Heat on high just until you see a wisp of smoke and then add some cream. However, this process scares a lot of people and is rarely cooked properly by neophytes. So instead of posting a recipe, I must refer you to Alton Brown's excellent video tutorial on caramel sauce. However, you don't need a candy thermometer. Just look for the first wisp of smoke and then add the cream.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Though unsure of what kind of car we wanted, we were perfectly sure what kinds of cars we didn't want:
  • Sedans -  too small for two screaming boys.
  • Wagons - still not enough space for Craigslist acquisitions.
  • SUVs - too expensive and trendy.
  • Minivans - all the maneuverability of a broken tank.
That kind of limited our choices. Long story short, we researched a ton, test drove a few, and decided to get a Mini-minivan, which is kind of cross of a wagon, SUV, and minivan. There are only two on the market, and we chose the 2009 Kia Rondo. Yeah, a Kia...I can already hear your taunts. But it can hold up to 7 people, has tons of room, and handles like a car, and was within our budget. It fit our family best.

I hated my last car purchase experience, so I decided to play by my rules this time. I got the internet sales managers at all six Kia dealers within 50 miles of Portland to bid against each other via email. Then I called them and gave them a chance to beat the lowest bids - great fun listening to them squirm. I figured a dealership would take a loss around $800 below invoice, I dreamed of getting $1100 below invoice, and the best bid was $1410 below. Cha-ching.

I was unsure if we'd name the car because it's so much fun to yell "RRRRRRRONDOOOOOO!", but Jordan had a flash of genius hit him. He thought that if the name Lofty came from Bob the Builder, the next car should be named from the same show. He decided on the name of the steamroller, Rollie. I like it, but dislike the spelling. So please let me introduce, Roll-e. 'Cause that's how we roll.


Sunday, February 14, 2010



It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Lofty the car. Lofty’s cylinders finally succumbed to a poor cylinder compression problem that he developed 9 months ago after a lifetime of indentured servitude.
Lofty, a sparkly red Chevrolet Cavalier, was born in 1998 in a plant in Ohio. After a few years sowing wild oats as a rental car in Florida, he met Peter Hedgecock (then a college Freshman) on a used car lot in Las Vegas in October 2001. Peter was looking for a student car that would last a couple of years. Instead, Lofty lived on for 8 1/4 years.
Since that time, Peter and Lofty have made quite a combo. They met Cynthia 5 months later and quickly added her to the passenger list. Jordan and Carter were also carried home for the first time in Lofty (and many times thereafter). Lofty has survived a tire rub from another car, a front fender bender, and a speeding ticket and garage banging incident in the same day from Cynthia.
Despite his lowly 120 horsepower, Lofty has transported the Hedgecocks through 12 states, 8 moves, and 111,433 miles. His final road trip was a brutal 2700 mile drive from WI to OR. Lofty was registered in Oregon ($186) for two days before finally dying. His final odometer reading is 163,788.
He will be greatly missed. Lofty's remains will be donated to charity.
In lieu of flowers, send motor oil and spark plugs.
Rest in peace, Lofty.

On to the next car! Stay tuned!

Inanimate Names

It's time to confess something embarrassing. I have given names to inanimate objects that we possess. But I'm OK with that...lots of guys do that, right? Take my guitar and ukulele for example:

B.B. King, one of the greatest guitar players EVAR named his guitar Lucille. So why shouldn't I have named my guitar Hazel? And when I got my ukulele, I already had a 'nut name', so it was an easy decision to name the uke Peanut. There's nothing wrong with that...

Lots of guys name their cars, too. For instance, David Hasselhoff named his car Kitt (cough, cough). The car is completely gutless (only 120 horsepower), so I named it Lofty. Yes, Lofty. Like the confidence-lacking crane on Bob the Builder. Oh, I didn't watch little brother was big into that show at the time. Yeah.

So you see? Completely manly. I named guitars, cars, I'm ok. Nothing strange about my naming behaviors...

Uhh...this is Bob, the Kitchenaid mixer. I was really excited to get it as a wedding gift and I named it Bob on the spot.

I'M A MAN!!!

I feel better now.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Carter's Dictionary

yarden (yahr-dn)

1. A spot of ground usually found in an apartment complex that cannot be claimed as one's own that resembles a yard, but not so much a garden.

Usage in a sentence-
"The guys are lawnmowering, because our yarden really needs to be cleaned."

candler (cand-ler)
1. A lighter used to light candles.

Usage in a sentence-
"I really like daddy's new candler!"

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Limerick

The most my savings account knows
is a one with three trailing 'ohs'.
Whene'er my account
hits that amount,
it is then that "BOOM" something goes.

Traitor, Lofty is thy name!