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Bed Bath & Beyond charges $199 for this cushy chef’s mat.

Isn’t it just a yoga mat?

My yoga mat lives in the kitchen, folded over. It’s non-slip and does indeed make standing more comfy. Since it does double duty, maybe I should give it a raise? It’s a very hard-working mat. It and the bathmats pitched in as moving blankets for my last Craigslist find.

And it’s even visited Asia!

Ramen noodles

I’ve written a recipe.

I’ll preface this by confessing that I’ve only once actually used a recipe. (A few months ago I fancied some collard greens while outside the South and decided it was time to try learning something new — I highly recommend this one from Mark Bittman).

The backstory: two years ago I decided I should eat better, which meant more plants and fewer unpronounceable factory ingredients, which in turn meant more cooking. Around that time I spent a month in Vietnam, where I discovered that people ate instant noodles all the time, just not the gross American kind. Imagine my delight in finding out that this staple of lazy, comfort food could be chic, authentic, healthful — and I could figure out how to make it by looking at it. This is my approximation of the best meal I ate over there (for breakfast, but never mind that). If you don’t believe that ramen noodles have a place in your upwardly mobile cuisine, think again.

Ingredients:
2 instant noodle bricks (throw out the MSG pack)
1 huge handful of fresh flat parsley, lightly chopped
1 huge handful of fresh cilantro, lightly chopped
2 huge handfuls of spinach or bok choi
6 chopped spring unions
¾ an habanero, very finely chopped (or something else spicy)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp teriyaki sauce

Toss instant noodle bricks into a pot of enough boiling water to fill two large soup bowls. When no longer bricks, add everything else. Boil for 5 more min with frequent stirring. Serves two. Variation: put sautéed mushrooms on top.

Try it tonight for a vegan Earth Day treat.

Manpoints

You know what they are and you know why you get them. Manpoints are doled out for fixing things, wiring things, making a lot of money, not caring how you look, and getting someone else to do menial work for you (especially unpaid). And not experiencing guilt. I’m not sure if calling them “manpoints” is helping anything, so I’m open to suggestions.

For anyone out there experiencing self-pity right now, it is probably because you just spent some time doing something thankless. Don’t do that. In fact, it might be a good idea to start organizing your life around the acquisition of manpoints before the self-pity starts. For example, instead of driving to five different stores to save 10¢ on shampoo, buy the first shampoo you see. Spend the rest of your day finding out what your male colleagues earn and then demand their salary. Problem solved.

Whenever I’m developing an opinion on something, I ask myself whether it would appeal to a man, particularly a wealthy one. My first clue that heels are stupid was that men don’t wear them. If apologizing, eyebrow plucking, or organizing Christmas were so great, I promise you, men would do these things. The same is true for elasticated jeans. I figure that if your jeans need spandex in them to fit you, they’re too small. It’s a little thing, I know… just a lifetime of proper digestive functioning, but still.

The $80 Cherry Tomato

I’ve started a little garden on the balcony, and I’m scared.

The last time I attempted a garden, my roomie and I went straight to Home Depot. With dreams of heirloom tomatoes and basil, we spent $80 on soil, pots, and seedlings. In the end, we harvested exactly one cherry tomato. It was delicious and sun-warmed, and we each ate half.

Why was it the Balcony of Death? Because the sun is a mean bitch. If you need to torture your brother for info, just tie him down on a west-facing balcony. Be sure to skip the sunscreen and Gatorade. If you want to torture a plant, put it in a little pot on the Balcony of Death with no access to the cold, dark comfort of the ground.

I carried buckets of water for over a month, and just as the first tomatoes were ripening, Satan came in the form of a raccoon. He took one dirty bite out of each tomato. He knocked over pots and uprooted peppers for fun. As the coup de grace, he left us a headless bird as a calling card. The Balcony of Death was finished.

It’s taken me 5 years to venture forth again. This time, I’m armed!

I have:

1. A water strategy: bigger pots, plastic mulch, some self-watering containers.

2. An 8th-story balcony, which better fucking not have raccoon parkour.

3. Soil fueled by homegrown worm compost.

4. Biology. Instead of planting whatever Home Depot happens to have, I’ve picked my players. I’m deploying yellow cherry tomatoes (birds mostly aim for red fruits), marigolds and mint (unkillable), arugula (the sole survivor from the Balcony of Death), and miniature roses (tougher than full-size ones).

Time for a rematch.

Image credit: Letartean

Bleach Confession

There are times when bleach is the answer.  If we’re gonna clean, let’s clean, fuckers.

Once, I watched my mom fill the sink with horribly stained coffee mugs.  She put a teaspoon of bleach into one mug, filled it the rest of the way with water, and then carefully poured the bleach solution from mug to mug.  The coffee stains disappeared like magic, and a young girl learned to respect bleach.

I keep a spray bottle at 1:10 dilution under the sink for the following purposes:

  • The coffee mug trick.
  • Laundry spot treatment.  I soap up stains, rinse well (bleach doesn’t work in the presence of soap), and then finish with a zap of bleach.
  • Jar tops.  Pasta sauce jars are so useful, but only bleach can budge that stubborn orange smear.
  • New apartments.  If a white bathroom isn’t actually white, zap zap zap with 1 part magic to 10 parts water.  Fear not, bleach sterilizes even at 1:50 dilution.  Finish up with a baking soda scrub.

I just noticed yesterday that Cascade’s liquid dish detergent says “Contains chlorine bleach.  Avoid spilling on clothing.”  That scares me (and my pants).

Do you use bleach?  Do you feel guilty about it?

image credit: David Shankbone

Soy Milk

The pros of soy milk:

1) low cal – less than half the calories of 2% milk

2) lasts for weeks without going off (I’m talking to you, single people)

3) whatever your ethical hot button (environment, animals, human welfare) it’s a better choice

4) no extra charge at Starbucks if you’ve got a Starbucks swipe card

5) it tastes better (people have drastically different reactions to sweetened versus non… I’m for non, personally)

6) it has a higher boiling point than milk, so you can make oatmeal in the microwave with virtually no risk of it going everywhere

For a long time the idea of soy milk factories turned me off until Dolores said that I should think of it as soybean tea.  Love it.  If you have anything halfway resembling a healthy diet, there’s nothing in dairy milk you need, so leave out the agribusiness cow hormones that probably make you fat.

Happy Vagina Day!

Why launch on Earth Day when we can launch on Vagina Day? Unlike the vortex of guilt and shame that Hallmark calls “Valentine’s Day,” V-Day is about partying with the cool girls.

But let’s talk about love and marriage. For over a year, I’ve been fascinated by the wedding dress that dissolves in water. Treehugger says it “finally offers an eco-friendly alternative.” I could paint my goldfish green and Treehugger would say it’s the eco-friendliest fish ever.

The world already has solutions for the dress-that-is-only-worn-once: rentals, Craigslist, and family heirlooms. Or you could make like a Jane Austen heroine and get married in your favorite blue dress. I’d wear my old prom dress before walking down the aisle in an “eco-friendly” dress made of polyvinyl bags and car wash pads (seriously, just look at it).

Finally, there’s the nude option. What exactly is going on here? Did this couple strip down so a TV show would pay for their wedding? Are they wearing clear plastic g-strings? Did they really decorate their asscheeks with matching white hearts?

Bonus! NSFW but not explicit due to hilarious prop placement:

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