Killin’ Time: My Mermaid Obsession (Part 1)

I thought today I would show you one of the ways I’ve been killin’ time.  I’ve been making some mermaid and deep sea art using chipboard products from Creative Embellishments.  I am entering this piece into the Creative Embellishments February challenge.

The challenge was to get inspiration from this photo:
il_fullxfull-344959819I am inspired by the fact that I LOVE mermaids, and, by the steampunk vibe of this photograph.  The “twist” for the challenge is “white space.”  Under the sea, there is no white space!  Here’s my entry for the challenge:

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This is my original creation using Creative Embellishments’ Steampunk Mermaid and several of their chipboard gears in assorted sizes.  This is created on a 6×6″ canvas that was first textured with modeling paste and then a layer of cheesecloth was added to the lower half.

The background is colored with inks from Shimmerz (Heidi Ho Blue, Oh Say Can You Sea, Jeni B Bleu) and then heavily highlighted around the edges with Clearsnap Fluid Chalk ink in Chestnut Roan.

The chipboard gears and mermaid have a textured layer of gesso as a basecoat, then they were painted black, and then layers of Pebeo High Viscosity Studio Acrylics in Iridescent Blue Black, Iridescent Copper, and Iridescent Green Blue were applied.

Finally, I have a big stash of old watch parts and I applied a few of those as accents in and around the gears.

Check out the Creative Embellishments Blog by clicking here.

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The Happy Hour Bridal Shower Outcome: Success!

The Happy Hour Bridal Shower that I co-hosted for a friend at work has finally happened, and I wanted to share the results.

Everything went great!  There was plenty of food and drink, and all the ladies seemed to enjoy themselves.

Here’s a gallery of the results:

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As with all things, a few plans changed along the way…

  1. No balloons.  I decided with those big pom poms we had enough “aerial” decor.
  2. No penis cake.  Couldn’t find anyone to bake one!
  3. I changed up Paula Deen’s deviled egg recipe.  I used sour cream instead of mayonnaise because I didn’t have any mayo in the house and didn’t feel up to making any.  I also added a good blob of dijon mustard to it for a little twang.  I still wasn’t happy with how they turned out, they tasted bland to me, but they got rave reviews from the party goers, with people even asking if they could take home some of the extras.  Not an egg was left when the party was over!

Finally, the candy in the condom game was a big hit, everyone thought it was funny.  And, the bride guessed the correct number of candies in it!  FYI, a standard condom will hold about 65-80 cherry sours.  If you go past that it’ll break.  Trust me on this one.

Product Review: LuLaRoe Leggings

2016-02-11 17.12.32Today’s post is about a new pair of leggings I just bought.  I want to review them and tell you all about them, because I am in L-O-V-E!

You can see the picture of my new LuLaRoe leggings.  I just love them!  They are super soft, with no rough seams.  The fabric is “like buttah.”  They don’t bind or pinch anywhere.  Best of all, they FIT me!  A lot of the leggings I own are “one size fits all,” but apparently they meant “one size fits all but your fat ass, woman!”

The LuLaRoe brand comes in three sizes–one for “tween” girls, a regular “one size fits most,” and then a “tall and curvy” size.  I am 5’6″, and wear a size 12 pants.  The ‘one size” fit me just fine and I daresay there would be room in these if I were even a 14.

I really love the way these fit.  The crotch isn’t too short, there’s no sagging in the knees, and the waist comes  up high enough that I don’t have a major muffin top, (while not so high as to resemble grandpa pants.)

And one more thing that I think is worth mentioning… the fabrics are truly opaque.  I don’t mean to sound crude, I’m being serious–you cannot see the crack of my butt through the leggings!  Now, I don’t ever wear leggings without a long top to cover my backside, but…there are women who don’t.  I am always so nauseated when I’m walking behind one of those women who is wearing, ah, shall we say “sheer” leggings?  If they’d just wear LuLaRoe, the rest of the world would be thankful, I dare say.

What is really unique about LuLaRoe is they only cut so many pieces of clothing from a given fabric design.  As you can see in the photograph, my leggings have a Valentine’s Day pattern.  Only so many pairs of those leggings were made, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.  New patterns are always being released, and yes, they have nice solid colors, too, if you don’t like your leggings quite this colorful.

LuLaRoe is a direct sales company that sells through “pop-up boutiques” (ie., home parties), but I didn’t go to a party.  I attended an online pop-up boutique that my friends Amy and Candi hosted on Facebook.  They posted photos of everything available in inventory and shoppers just claimed what they wanted and were invoiced online for payment.

If you you want to be invited to Amy and Candi’s next online boutique, you can join their Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/lularoedazzlingdivas/

 

 

 

Politics, Sex and Religion

sex-religion-politicsI don’t think I’ve ever truly tackled any of the three deadly subjects–politics, sex, and religion–on BWAV.  But, I’m in a mood.  So, here goes, in reverse order.

Religion

I grew up going to the Winterville, Georgia, United Methodist Church.  I never fit in there, I never understood why we went, and I had lots of conflict about the fact that my mother was afraid if she drank a beer on Sunday afternoon someone might smell it if we went to Sunday evening services.  I also didn’t understand why my father’s photograph was in the church membership directory with the rest of us, but, he never ever ever went, not even for my baptism or confirmation.

And then there was the time in the late 70’s/early 80’s that the preacher invited some black folks from another church to attend, and a bunch of people boycotted the service and wouldn’t show up.  What kind of message was that?

I didn’t like church then, and I don’t like it now.  I respect faith, and I have deep respect for people who try to live with love and compassion in their heart–but I think organized religion generally does more harm than good.

I will never forget the scene in “Trading Places” when they were on the New Year’s train, and Denholm Elliot was dressed as an Irish priest.  He said, and I quote, “Religion is a fine thing…in moderation.”   And that pretty much sums it up.

Sex

Yes.  Often.  It’s good…best I can recall.

Politics

The older I get, the more I realize that the political system in this country responds to the one thing I don’t have–money.  And quite frankly, I’m sick of that shit.

It’s supposed to be one vote for one person, and I guess that’s still true in terms of the details, if not in reality.  I’m  tired of a system that allows big corporations and uber-wealthy people to buy the support of politicians that I cast my one little vote for.  I have watched, in my lifetime, people in government go from having rational and reasonable political views to being beholden to special interest groups with money.  This isn’t some allegation someone made about them in a campaign speech–I’ve watched it happen.  I’d name names but that’s not the point of this entry into my little diary.

The point is that I think politics should be back in the hands of little people like myself, and you, and every other average person who is slugging their way through life to get by in this world.  Yet when we can’t get half of our population to vote in a presidential election, what does that tell you about how people view their role in the political process?

So, I’m just asking you to do one thing. Just one.  And that is to vote.  People in other countries have died for that right.  It’s your’s now.  Use it wisely.

If you don’t know how to vote, e-mail me and I’ll tell you.

Alright that was a joke.  I won’t tell you how to vote, although sometimes I might want to.  Notice I haven’t said a word in this post about any candidate?  And I won’t.  If you know me personally and you want to ask me why I support certain candidates, feel free to ask.  I’ll share.

I also have one suggestion–start contributing to the candidates you believe in.  Even just $5 or $10 helps.  The people you support need to see that us “little people” matter.  No, we are not going to get invited to a black tie gala by sending in $25.  But, we will be affecting the political process one buck at a time.  And I think that’s important.

Finally, I’d like to suggest that if politics is getting on your nerves, or if religion is holding you back in terms of happiness, that you focus on sex.  I find it’s always the most pleasant of the three options.  And hopefully you’re having some, because I can assure you that I am not.   hahaha

Hot & Sour Soup: The Answer

EM0632-6_Hot-and-Spicy-Soup_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscapeWhen I was in high school my friend’s family owned the best Chinese restaurant in Athens, Georgia.  It offered the most amazing hot and sour soup and I have never been able to find anything like it since.

If you don’t like hot and sour soup, I understand.  I can tell you why you don’t like it:   because the hot and sour soup in most restaurants has three major issues.

One is that it is over-globbed with corn starch and left to congeal on a buffet line for hours and hours.  Yuck.  The real test of that is if you buy some, bring it home, and refrigerate it.  When you take it back out of the fridge, if you can slice it with a knife?  It’s got too damned much cornstarch in it.  Soup is supposed to be liquid, not solid.

Another problem is that most of these soups forget the sour part.  The sour has to come from either vinegar or citrus juice, and it brightens up the flavor.  Hence the name, hot AND SOUR.  I find that most Chinese restaurants just don’t bother to put the sour part in the soup.   You couple that with the high gelatin content, and it’s just disgusting bland goop.

Finally, the soup in most Chinese restaurants looks like it contains all the crap that didn’t belong in any other dish.  There are little things floating in it that nobody can recognize, and that most of us just aren’t sure about eating.  This is suspect.  And, even if it’s good stuff, who has time to drive to a specialty market to buy it all?  I need a soup that contains things I can buy at a regular grocery store.

I started making my own hot and sour soup 25 years ago, when I got a cookbook from The Frugal Gourmet.  He is not a very well-known chef anymore because he got caught up in a child molestation scandal and his career never recovered.  But he did have a pretty good recipe for hot and sour soup.  I got rid of that cookbook years ago because out of 200 recipes the hot and sour soup one was the only really useful one.  It was good, but it still wasn’t the same as my favorite Chinese restaurant that my friend’s family owned.

I recently got a hankering for some good hot and sour soup, and decided to search for a recipe that would yield some delicious results.  I found a simple easy to follow recipe from the ragin’ Cajun himself, Emeril Lagasse.  Who, as you know, I love.  

The recipe is here (with my modifications in parentheses).  I encourage you to try this if you’ve never liked hot and sour soup before.  I promise you that you will after you make it!

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms (I used one ounce, which was more than enough)
  • 10 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 pound very thinly sliced and julienned pork loin or tenderloin (I used double this amount for a heartier soup, and to replace some of the tofu that I left out.  You could also use some shrimp, those are delicious in this soup.)
  • 6 to 8 ounces tofu, cubed or crumbled  (I left this out.  I don’t buy tofu.  It’s kinda’ nasty)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (use Nellie & Joe’s brand, or, freshly-squeezed)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch (I used 2.5 tablespoons, because I was deathly afraid of creating a gelatin mold out of my soup.  See previous comments)
  • 3 tablespoons mushroom flavored soy sauce (who the hell buys flavored soy sauce?  I just used Kikkoman)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Hot chile oil, for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions

Directions

Combine shiitake mushrooms and 3 cups of the chicken stock in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let stand until mushrooms are tender and broth is flavorful, about 30 minutes. Remove mushrooms and discard stems. Thinly slice caps and reserve. Strain broth through a fine mesh sieve, combine with the remaining chicken stock and set aside.

In a medium saucepan heat the vegetable oil and, when hot, add the ginger, garlic and crushed red pepper; cook for 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the chicken stock and reserved shiitakes and bring to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. Add the pork and tofu and stir to combine. In a small bowl or cup, combine the lime juice and cornstarch and stir until smooth. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the hot soup and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil and serve the soup, drizzled with hot chile oil, to taste, and garnished with some of the sliced scallions.

A Happy Hour Bridal Shower

A gal from my office is getting married, and two of us offered to throw her a bridal shower.  I wanted to show you what we’re doing!  As with all my events, I started the planning with a Pinterest board.  You can see it by clicking here.  

Format and Theme

We decided on a Friday afternoon, happy hour time just after work ends.  That way people can stop by on their way home and have a drink, unwind, and celebrat

v1

Fruit kabobs

e her upcoming nuptials.  I have that day off so I can work on preparing everything during the day, and, my son’s girlfriend is available to help me since she also doesn’t work or have class that day.

Our theme is a lingerie shower.  I personally wouldn’t want one of those, because I’m not a lingerie person, but she seems to be loving the idea and this is all about her!

Color Scheme

We chose pink and white for two reasons.  One, pink is her accent color in her wedding.  Two, it’s Valentine’s day and the stores are FILLED with pink and white stuff that’s cute and romantic and affordable!

Food Menu

Since we are not trying to feed people lunch or dinner, we decided on three sweet and four savory bites for the event:

v2

Pretzel rods dipped in colored white chocolate with sugar pearls

Sweet:  fruit kabobs, chocolate covered pretzel rods, and cake (hopefully in the shape of a penis if we can find someone to bake it for us.  My co-host owns the penis pan.  I didn’t ask her why.  Haha!).

Savory:  deviled eggs, tomato and cheese crostini, finger sandwiches, and nuts.

v3

Paula Deen BLT deviled eggs.

The sweet items–I chose fruit kabobs because I own a BUNCH of packages of skewers and it just made sense to put them to good use.  Plus everyone at this event is over 40 and probably watching their carbs so fruit is a good choice.

The pretzel rods I saw on Pinterest

v4

Tomato and cheese crostini

were just too cute.  I went to Michael’s last week and for Valentine’s day they had all the candy melts and candy decorations on sale plus I had a coupon for an additional 20% off.  So, I got the candy melts and little sugar pearls for about $6 total. I can make the white chocolate a nice pink color with a dab of gel food coloring.

The savory items….my favorite deviled egg recipe is Paula Deen’s BLv5T Deviled eggs.  The last party I served them at they were a huge hit.  They are very “bridal-shower-y” in my opinion and unique.

The tomato and whipped feta cheese crostini is another favorite from a previous party.  It’s a Barefoot Contessa recipe that is always a huge hit.  Plus it’s something you can serve “deconstructed”–put the cheese mixture in a dish, then put the tomato and pine nut mixture in another dish, and serve that alongside a platter of toasted bread slices.  People can make their own (which also has the advantage of not getting soggy in advance).v7

Finger sandwiches in the shape of hearts. Who doesn’t love heart shaped stuff at a bridal shower???  My co-host is making those, not sure what she will put in them but I’m sure whatever she chooses will be great.

And, finally, we’ll have some nuts of some sort for an easy, high-protein munchy.

Drinks

We are going to serve a pink alcoholic punch that I love to make.  The recipe is from Giada DeLaurentis and it is absolutely lovely both in color and in flavor.  The recipe is super simple and it’s always a crowd pleaser.

Decorationsv1

I love those tissue paper pom poms that are so popular!   So I went to www.papermart.com to buy tissue paper to make them, and I found that they sell ready-made pom poms for about $1 to $1.50 apiece.  What a deal, and no trying to figure out how to make them myself!  I ordered pink and white ones in a range of sizes.

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Pink tulle chair decorations.

Also from Papermart, I ordered some rolls of pink tulle to tie on the chairs in my dining room.  I think that looks so festive, and their rolls of tulle are super inexpensive!

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A little bit of sparkly ribbon on the straws makes them look so festive!

I have pink and white paper straws, which will go great with the pink punch!  I love this idea I found on Pinterest of tying a little slash of ribbon to each straw.  Definitely going to do that.

As with all my events, I went to Dollar Tree and stocked up on disposable platters, bowls, etc.  They have plastic ones that look like cut crystal, and silver ones that look like metal.  They even have some metal trays that are only $1.00 and very elegant looking.

I also grabbed tons of heart shaped doilies since the stores are full of those around Valentine’s day!

I have some pink and white silk gerbera daisies in my craft stash.  I’m planning on putting those in vases and jars, for a touch of feminine color.

8cee5588da43ad0194fab581530d7e9aFinally, I saw this idea on Pinterest to tie pictures of the couple to balloons.  I thought that was very clever and I’m going to try to pull that off, too.

Entertainment

I know some people love shower games, some people hate them.  I went to the v8bride and asked, she said she was fine either way.  I told her about this game I saw on Pinterest that I just loved.

You fill a condom with gum balls or other candies that you can count, and then the game is for everyone to guess how many candies are in there.  Then, for additional fun, you can gather all the guests in a circle, then have them pass the condom from person to person using only their knees, and no hands.  This sounds like fun after everyone has a few glasses of that alcoholic punch!

Other than that, I think the entertainment will consist of watching the bride open her gifts, and, sharing good conversation.

I took lots of pictures of the actual event to share.  Click here to see them.

A Report from the Dating Trenches

download (1)Well…so far so good I guess.  I have been back on Match for two weeks.  I’ve encountered all sorts of people who either can’t or won’t read.  I’ve been approached by PEOPLE WHO TYPE IN ALL CAPITALS and by people who have no knowledge of punctuation.  Delete, block, next…

One guy came at me very hard and heavy, giving me his phone number right off the bat, saying he was a professor at a university near here and wanted to talk.  I checked him out and sure enough, he was who he said he was.  I gave him my number.  Then he stopped talking to me immediately.  What kind of game was that?

Of course, there’s the guy with no photo on his profile who wants me to meet him somewhere.  Uh, no.  I told him I didn’t trust anyone who wouldn’t put a picture up.  He said he’d text me one, but I told him no, I didn’t want to give out my number.  He said okay, stay in touch.  Delete. Block.  Next.

I am talking to one man who is very smart, very literate, and has two master’s degrees.  He’s a retired marine working on a second career as a government contractor.  Into martial arts, and quite handsome.  Our conversations have moved along nice and slow, and so far he has not pressured me for a phone number or a meeting.  We were talking pretty intensely for a few days and he seems to have cooled off in terms of contact.  I’m just going to sit back and let him make the next move, although I confess pat of me wonders what in the hell I said wrong.

And one day, by mistake, I signed on to OKStupid.  I meant to sign on to Match and just typed in the wrong URL by mistake, not even thinking.  I had a message from a man named Peter who was quite interested.  He is a financial planner and showed me his website to verify his identity.  He volunteered that info without my asking for it.  We have talked on the phone once and have plans to meet for lunch next weekend at a midpoint between our two towns.  We’ll see how that goes.

So, nothing earth shattering to report.  Moving slowly, as I promised I would, and so far that’s working for me.  I’ll keep you posted….

Back in the Waters

abbycast_0I’ve been back on Match since Sunday.   It’s early Thursday morning.  I’m filing my first trolling report.

The usual bunch of creepers who pounce the moment you sign on were still there.  Three of them looked VERY familiar.  I’m sure they hit on me last time I was on here.  They did not seem to remember me, but I sure remembered them.  I’ve already seen Harley on there.  I remember him telling me when we dated how long he’d been on Match then.  That was almost two years ago.

My profile starts out with my list of things I require in a partner:

“I think it’s only fair to state up front what I need and want in a partner so I don’t waste your time. I am looking for someone who:

  • has a college or graduate school education
  • has a professional career and/or a successful business
  • is financially secure and stable
  • is not religious (or if you are, you can completely respect the fact that I am not)
  • does not smoke cigarettes at all (occasional cigar or joint is fine)
  • is not married (I’m sorry “she” doesn’t understand you, but I’m not going to play mistress)
  • offers up recent and unretouched photos of themselves
  • does not enjoy hunting for sport (you only kill what you actually eat)
  • is mature (at least 35-40 years of age)
  • supports LGBT rights in all respects (this is a social cause that is very important to me)
  • is looking for something long-lasting in terms of a relationship, and not a booty call.
  • can write a complete sentence and spell (most words–hey, nobody is perfect!) correctly.
  • is a gentleman.
  • is turned on by an independent self-sufficient woman who makes her own living
  • loves dogs (cats are okay, too, but you must be appreciative and welcoming of dog presence!)”

(The first item on my list really bothers me in a way because I am a first generation college student.  I have no airs or snobbery about my education, so I feel a little bit elitist having that as a first requirement.  But, I have married someone who did not have a college education.  And, I almost married someone who did not have a college education.  When I look back I can see that it was a large source of incompatibility in both cases. There’s a lot of background missing with someone who doesn’t have a college education and it’s extremely difficult to make up for that. I’m not saying it can’t be done–but I’m very leery of trying it again since I’ve been burned twice already.)

I culled one out today who was just weird.  He e-mailed me on Match about 6 times throughout the day.  I didn’t respond because I was at work. You know, earning a living.  It apparently frustrated him that I wasn’t responding so he just kept messaging me.  Can we say “needy?”  Once I was home from work I decided then that I better quickly drill down to the deets, so I asked him, “I’ve already pointed out that I have a list of things I am looking for in a partner.  Did you read it?  Do you meet all of those?”  He wrote back to tell me “all but….”

For the first time in my life instead of saying, “Oh, that’s okay” I just responded with, “I’m sorry, this won’t work.”  I promised myself if I did this again I would be hard core in terms of maintaining standards.  Yes, I can compromise.  But when I look back on my past, the two men I really and truly loved and respected had all the qualities I’ve listed.  Those things matter to me and there’s no sense pretending they don’t.  I would just rather be alone than settle for someone who annoys the shit out of me.

I am carrying on conversations with a couple of people who seem to show a little bit of promise.  Nothing to report yet.  I’ll be back…

I’m Still Thinking About It….Joining Match.Com, That Is

downloadI’m still thinking about joining Match.com again.  I’ve pondered it for a few days now, but still haven’t made up my mind.

As I think back on who I met there, I have to say most of the guys on Match were decent, nice guys.  Six Flags was an emotional fucktard, but he was still a decent person, as was Fox.  Of course, Lying Joel (aka “Harley”) was … well, a liar, but we did have some fun for awhile.

So, although I didn’t meet Mr. Right on Match.com, I did meet some reasonable people and that’s more than I can say for most of the people I met on OKStupid or Plenty of Freaks.

What I’m thinking, though, is that I need to really do some soul searching about what I’ve done wrong in the past when it comes to various people I’ve met online.  Which things yielded good results, and which things resulted in disaster?  In the process of doing that soul searching, I am making up a list, I suppose you’d say, of rules I plan on following if I do this again.  As childish as that might sound, I can definitely tell you where things have gone wrong before.

For instance, meeting someone before talking to them extensively has resulted in some awfully miserable encounters, just like ol’ “Mur-LAHT” boy.  Had I spent more time with him on the phone, I would have known that he was sorely uncultured and quite self–centered.

And yes, as much as I hate to admit it, I slept with my ex-almost-husband on the first date. Given how that turned out, I’ve vowed not to do that again!

So, I’m compiling my list of rules for dating.  And when I think about the relationships that have been reasonably functional, and the ones that haven’t, I have come up with these rules for dating that I’m planning on following:

  • I won’t meet anyone until I’ve talked to them online for at least three weeks.
  • I won’t meet anyone until I’ve talked to them on the phone at least once, and for a reasonable length of time.
  • No sex on the first date!
  • I will ask very pointed and direct career questions before I meet someone.  I need a man with a professional career who can compliment mine.  I cannot ignore things like a huge disparity in income again, lest I end up footing the bill for everything like I did at the beach last August.  I don’t need a man’s money, but I definitely don’t want a man who needs my money!  (If I wanted to support someone I could have saved myself a ton of money in divorce costs by staying married!)
  • I will, under no circumstances, date someone who is out of work, in between jobs, or otherwise trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up!
  • I will make sure I see at least three or four pictures of the person from various angles, and I will verify that those pictures were made very recently.  One of them must be close up so I can see if he has normal eyebrows and also to verify that he does not look like Santa Claus
  • I will not compromise on my list of “must-haves.”  As rigid as they may sound, I have never ever ever had an ounce of success when I waived them.  Standards are not a bad thing, are they?

So, that’s where I am.  Torn between joining Match.com again and continuing my love affair with alone time, I’m at least pondering a new approach to dating if I decide to try again.  The question is, “Will I?”

 

 

 

A Crafter’s Delight: Webstaurant Store

If you’re a crafter or hobbyist, and you’re like me, you’re always looking for new places to find supplies.  Let’s face it, even with their weekly 40% off coupons, it’s not particularly affordable to stock up on many basic supplies at national craft retail chains.  So today, I’m going to show you a few of the craft finds from Webstaurant Store, an online restaurant supply house that I wrote about previously.

Souffle Cups

These are the little paper cups they once used to dispense medication in hospitals and nursing homes.  They are still used in restaurants to dispense single serve portions of ketchup, tartar sauce, etc.

Capture1These are great for disposable paint and glue cups.  I use them for small dabs of gesso when I’m working on a small project.  I’m also quite sure you could create some interesting textures with them if you unfold all the pleats in them, flatten them out, and use on your gelli plate.  And, I also think you could cut them up and make cute little doll skirts out of them for a card or scrapbook page!

I bought both the one ounce and two ounce sizes for various applications.  You get 250 in a package that costs less than $5 (the one ounce size was only $3.19 for a package of 250).

Click here to see the souffle cups available.

Gloves

web2Fellow crafters, we do love our messy substances, don’t we?  We often need gloves.  I found this great package of rubber gloves that are durable and reusable at Webstaurant Store.  You get a package of 12 pairs for $3.99!

Click here to see the gloves.

Deli Paper

Deli paper is seriously good stuff for making art prints.  It is especially great for making prints with your gelli plate.  (If you don’t know what a gelli plate is, let me just say “Yes, you need one”….go to the Gelli Arts website so you can see why.)

Deli paper is made of dry waxed paper, and it’s great for covering your work surface, wiping things, and you can create textures in paint with a wadded up piece of deli paper.  It also can make very interesting gift wrap for small objects.  I’m not sure what else you can do with it, but it comes in several sizes and it is super cheap.  I got a box of 10″ square paper (500 sheets, which will last a long time) for $3.89.

Click here to see Webstaurant’s selection of folded (pop-up) deli papers.

They also have “sandwich wrap” paper, which comes flat, instead of folded like deli paper.  I didn’t know that was available until after I ordered the folded papers.  They have several designs and colors, and some of those would be suitable for collage artwork.  Most of those are just a few bucks for a box containing several hundred sheets.  If you’re getting it for craft purposes, make sure you buy “dry waxed” paper, and not “wet waxed.”  The wet waxed has a glossy finish that won’t accept paint very well, I suspect.

Check out all those options by clicking here.  

Knives

CaptureI found this serrated knife that I just love for cutting up bars of soap to make my own laundry detergent.  I also think it would be quite handy for cutting up styrofoam and floral foam, too.

Webstaurant Store has tons of knives that I’m sure you would find a multitude of uses for.  The best part about their knives is how affordable they are.  They are intended for commercial use so they’re nice and sharp, but, they don’t break the bank!  This serrated knife was under $8!

Click here to see the vast selection of knives they offer.

Picks/Skewers

There are tons of things you might need bamboo skewers for in your craft room.  They can be used to form clay beads, stir paints, create lines and textures in paint surfaces, and I’ve even seen books bound with bamboo skewers.  Webstaurant Store has several lengths, from 4″ on up, and you can buy them in small packages or large.  I paid about a buck for packages of 100 skewers (I bought two sizes, 4″ and 8″, for various uses).

Click here to see their selection of picks and skewers.

Butcher Paper

web5Butcher paper can be used for lots of things, including printing, drawing, covering your work surface, and wrapping gifts.  It comes in brown and white, and, in several widths.  You will always find a use for this type of paper!   Rolls that are 18″ wide, which is a pretty good width, are about $10-$13 each.

You’ll probably also want to get a dispenser for the roll, which is a bigger investment, but it will last you pretty much forever.

Click here to see the selection of butcher papers.

Click here to see paper roll dispensers.

Masking Tape

Masking tape is always a craft room staple.  And, Webstaurant Store carries it, too!

Click here for super inexpensive masking tape and dispensers.

Chinese Take-Out Boxes

Don’t you love the idea of wrapping gifts in those cute little Chinese food take-out web6boxes?  I do, too, but I don’t like paying the price for them at expensive gift wrap stores.  If you do a lot of gift-giving, you can buy a case of those boxes in plain white or kraft color and decorate them yourself!  They come out to be pennies each if you buy a pack of 50 or a case of 500!

Click here to check out the Chinese take-out containers.

Portion Cups with Lids

Ever need to mix up a special color of paint, or, make a mixture of paint and acrylic web7medium?  And, you might want a lid to cover it so you can use it later?  Then plastic portion cups with lids are just the thing for your craft table.  They come in round and oval shapes, and in smaller packages or in cases.  I always keep a couple of sizes of these in my art stash.

Click here to see the various portion cups and lids.

If you need larger containers with lids, go look at the deli containers.  They have 16web8 ounce sizes and larger that you can store paint and liquids in.

Click here to see the 16 ounce deli containers.

Disposable Steam Pans

577967I love these pans for so many things around my kitchen, and they have naturally migrated to my craft room.  The full-size pans are great for making larger sheets of marbled papers and shaving cream paper.  The smaller pans are great for soaking stencils in water to keep paint from drying on them.

Click here to see the various pan liners.

There you have it–that’s everything I spotted at Webstaurant Store that I think would be useful in a craft room.  I’m sure there are items I overlooked, so please comment and share any other items you find!

A Great Place to Shop: Webstaurant Store

In a previous post about party planning, I mentioned the Webstaurant Store.  They sell all things for restaurants, from little ketchup packets to large scale kitchen equipment.  I first mentioned them because they sell great plastic and disposable catering supplies, if you’re going to host an event.  But, they have a lot more Capture3to offer and I’ve discovered it to be a treasure trove of stuff for the kitchen and for the craft room.

They also sell “smallwares,” which are basically kitchen tools, gadgets, and cookware. And, their price for nice commercial grade cookware is cheaper than buying Calphalon at Bed Bath and Beyond!   I have just ordered my first frying pan from them.  It was $35.  I’ll report back to you on how it does.

I also got a serrated bread knife that cuts through bars of soap (for making homemade laundry detergent) in short order.  The knife was a Capturewhopping $7 and it’s better than some high-end knives I’ve bought before.

They sell “disposables,” which are things like those little papers cups that restaurants serve tartar sauce and ketchup in.  Those are great for crafting purposes, and they are also great for use as little “prep bowls” in the kitchen when you are setting up to make a complicated recipe.  Put a pinch of this and a teaspoon of that in each little paper cup, then you’re ready to roll just like a professional chef!

They ship super fast.  Most orders I’ve placed in the morning ship by the afternoon.Capture1

They have a very cool program that pays you to review their products.  If you post a written review you get $2 in store credit.  If you post a photograph of the product you get $4 in store credit.  And, if you shoot a video review of the product, you get $10 in store credit.  If you do all three, yes, you get $16 in store credit. They process those credits usually within 24-48 hours, and then you have a nice little balance in your store account to place your next order.

Capture2I’ve just ordered my first food item from there.  They sell cashew pieces in five pound bags for about $30, and that’s much cheaper than the $11 a pound I was paying for “fancy” whole ones from www.nuts.com (which is a great place to buy nuts, but we eat those cashews like crazy and don’t require “fancy” ones just for household snacking).  Click here for my roasted rosemary cashew recipe, which is why we need five pounds of cashew pieces in the first place!

I’ll write a post later on all the craft supplies I’ve found there and what I use them for.

I highly recommend taking a look at Webstaurant Store before you shop for kitchen (or craft supplies again.  The only thing I need to warn you about is their shipping and handling charges, which on the surface seem pretty steep.  Those charges seem steep because we’ve all come to love our Amazon Prime free shipping, and, we expect web retailers to offer us free shipping on a daily basis.  Just keep in mind that this is still a commercial supplier, and they are primarily catering to businesses that expect to pay shipping and handling charges.  I find that their prices are low enough even after I factor in shipping and handling that I’m still getting a good deal.

2016: To Date or Not to Date…?

1introAnd back to the thing that brought me to blogging in the first place:   dating.  I’ve been on hiatus from it for months now, and I still don’t really feel much desire to try again.  New Year’s Eve bummed me out a little bit because I didn’t have anyone to kiss me at midnight, but I was really okay with that after about 30 seconds.  I actually sat in my art room and created some things and just enjoyed the quiet.  I didn’t watch the ball drop on tv, and the new year sneaked in without so much as a hint of fanfare at my house.

The reality is that in spite of a few dating horror stories, 2015 was a damned good year for me.  I made some serious advances at work in terms of my career, and my bad back is getting better thanks to finding the right pain management doctor (who is treating the source of the pain, and not just trying to mask the symptoms).  My son is healthy and happy and moving towards graduating from community college, and after that he will move on to university to complete his four year degree.  He’s dating a very sweet, wonderful young lady who I love.  My relationship with my family is calm and peaceful.  So, I am just hoping that 2016 stays on the same, even keel.   Fingers crossed, knock on wood, throwing salt over my shoulder, etc.

1918049_10205024087394104_7940452014650020402_nI thus have no big resolutions for 2016, other than to remain happy.  The real question is should I try dating again?  Will that interrupt my happiness or will it add to it?  I’m not sure, but I have given some thought to joining Match.com again.  I think of all the dating sites it was the best, because it does require some financial commitment on the part of participants.  That financial commitment is about $20 a month, and it weeds out the real broke ass cheapskates out there–and I definitely want to avoid them!   I don’t need anyone else’s money, I don’t need or want a man to take care of me, but I definitely want to avoid any man who needs taking care of!

So, what do you think?  Should I try Match.com again?  Comment and let me know what you think.

Moving Forward…

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Hello, 2016!  It’s like there’s this clean, fresh, crisp new opportunity and I’m gonna’ seize it for all it’s worth!  I hope you do, too–grab it by the cajones and make 2016 the year of YOU, baby!

I did want to take a minute to pause and reflect on how the blog has gone the last few months.  The stats are pretty cool…

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As you can see, since I started keeping track of things, the number of views I’ve had has steadily headed in a positive direction!  Yay!  And, the number of hits this site gets on average, per day, is also going up steadily, which is another good sign.  Maybe 2016 will be the year I become famous (in blogger world, anyway?)  Meh… fame isn’t important.  I just enjoy writing and I have enjoyed getting to know my readers.  Thank you again for following BWAV.

Now, looking forward…I have a couple of things I plan on doing for 2016 that I will share. The first is finish losing some weight.  The start to the program, using Saxenda, has been very encouraging.  Jeans are getting looser and the last time I weighed, almost a month ago, I had already lost 10 pounds in just 5 weeks!  Based on how my clothes are fitting and how I feel in general, I suspect by now another 6-8 pounds are gone, but I will find out when I see the doctor later this month. (Yes, I have a scale at home, but I don’t use it because I get obsessed with it if I weigh every day and I don’t want to start that nonsense).  My goal weight is 150.  If I got to that I’d be so happy!  Keep your fingers crossed for me, please.

Another thing I’m going to do is start a YouTube video series.  I was talking to my son about this a few months ago, and mentioned that one of my friends had started doing one and she was up to 10,000 subscribers and receiving a monthly check from YouTube.  She’s a very talented crafter, and honestly so am I!  I spend a lot of time making things and I think I have a pretty good sense of humor, so I thought maybe I could combine the two into an entertaining, adult-oriented (this ain’t gonna’ be crafting time at Sesame Street!) video series?  You know, have some cocktails, tell a good joke now and then, etc?

We thought about names for it and my son came up with the perfect name, which I will reveal later.  I’ve bought the URL and I’ve got my graphic artist guru working on a clever logo for it.  I just ordered a camera stand so I can film myself making projects in my art room.  Should be pretty fun once I get everything organized and rolling.  Plus, the added bonus–it is sparking my creativity and getting me back into doing the art that I used to love working on so much.  Stay tuned!

 

Orlando for Christmas: My Review

As I mentioned a couple of months back, we decided to spend Christmas in Orlando.  It mickey-mouse-iconwas a place to go, we got a great deal on the hotel if I agreed to go to a Hilton Vacation Club time share presentation, and, well, like I said, it was a place to go!  Here is my review of Orlando for Christmas.

First and foremost, it was GREAT family time.  I got some time with my son and his girlfriend, and that was what counted the most.  To that end, it was a wonderful trip.  We had lots of nice meals together, and enjoyed time just relaxing in the hotel room together, too.  Good conversations were had in the car while traveling.

On the way to Florida we stopped off to see my parents and that was also good.  Mom’s dementia is getting progressively worse so I spend every moment I can with her, and I treasure our time together.  Had lunch with a friend from middle school even, and that was also a wonderful experience.

Now, the family time was the best, most important part of the trip.  But I’ll confess that I was underwhelmed with Orlando.  Let me start by saying I’m deathly afraid to even look at my bank balance.  Holy crap that place was expensive!  If  you are planning a trip to Orlando, here’s what you do to budget.  First, figure up what you can afford to spend.  Triple that amount.  Then add $250.  You’ll still come up short.  (Hahah?  I’m not joking!)

Day 1, December 23:   We arrived at the hotel.  Valet parking was $25 a day (self-parking was $18!).  Internet service was $20 a day.  So much for the “great deal” on the hotel room!

That evening we had reservations at the Orlando Melting Pot.  It was delicious!  A really fun experience cooking fondue at the table. I would love to eat there again and try some different combinations of food.  The kids really enjoyed it and got to try some things like duck that they had never had before.

Day 2, Christmas Eve:  I sent the kids to Magic Kingdom while I did the time share presentation.  They really enjoyed the park, although it was super crowded.  They closed the park because it was at capacity!

The time share presentation was P-A-I-N-F-U-L.  My gosh that guy tried hard to establish a rapport with me but I just didn’t feel it and I really didn’t like him.  He was too busy telling me stories about his family and his parents’ “old fashioned” time share and he kept reassuring me this was not going to be high pressure.  So much that I was starting to feel pressure.  I walked away without buying anything, as I knew I would.  With a child in college and a deadbeat ex-husband who won’t contribute to the cost, there’s no way I was going in debt for a time share!

That night we met in Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) and had a nice dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s Cafe, which was absolutely amazing.  And, amazingly expensive.  I ordered the scallops and there were two on the plate.  Two.  The service was outstanding and we do love ourselves some of that there fine dining.  So, it was money well-spent I suppose.

Day 3, Christmas Day:  We decided to go to Epcot.  So did everybody else. Especially people who didn’t believe in making their children mind.  I was also appalled at how adults acted in some of the exhibits.  Cutting in line, and, some of them justified it by looking at my son, who had waited patiently in line for an activity, and saying, “Come on, let my kid go first.”  It was obnoxious and I’m glad I wasn’t standing right there or I’d have said something that would reach “Showing My Ass” proportions.

The food in the World Showcase was really good, but again, very pricey.  We went to “France” and I had my first glass of “real” champagne.  It was $13.  We had a package of six French macarons–$10.  A small cheese plate–$10.  Lobster bisque–$8.  A ham and cheese sandwich–$10.  A croissant–$3.  It ended up being a $50+ “snack” (but it was really good).

We poorly planned the trip because we didn’t know any better.  The lines were long and there were no Fast Passes available for the rides. If we had bought tickets early we could have gotten a Fast Pass and avoided long lines.  Some of the best rides had 2 hour waits, and I don’t stand in line 2 hours for a 3 minute ride (unless the ride involves George Clooney’s lap).  Oh, and every one of the nice restaurants was booked solid, no reservations available.  I had no idea we needed to make dining reservations at an amusement park until it was too late.   I have since created a Disney travel planning Pinterest board in case we ever go again.  Click here to see it.

I think I mentioned there were a lot of unruly unsupervised children?  It was also 90 degrees and about 90% humidity.  My son caught people cutting in line and he got royally pissed.  We finally had enough of the place by around 4:00 p.m.  We went back to the hotel.

I suggested that we go to the nice steak house in the hotel for one last nice dinner, until I checked out the menu.   Entrees were $70-$85.  And it was the kind of place where everything was a la carte, so a salad would have been another $15-$25, a baked potato would have been $10-$15, etc.  We instead ordered room service (dinner for three, including a burger, a club sandwich, and a huge homemade cheese pizza, was $55–what a bargain!) and crashed.

Day 4:  December 26:   We met some people on a cruise eight years ago, and they live in Florida.  We arranged to meet them for brunch on our way out of town and that was a real treat!  Then, we got to fight traffic of unbelievable proportions. Apparently everybody else had the same idea we did–to get the hell outta’ Dodge!

So, here is my overall evaluation of the trip:

THUMBS DOWN TO:

  • Orlando’s ridiculous food and beverage prices.
  • Children with no self-control and no manners.
  • Parents who allow aforementioned children to go without proper discipline.
  • Time share presentations (seriously, did I agree to do this again???)
  • Disney on Christmas–it’s just too damned crowded!
  • Whatever I spent (which I still haven’t officially added up yet, but for three days in Orlando I know it was at least $1,500!)

THUMBS UP TO:

  • Good quality time with my son and his very sweet, charming girlfriend–this was the best!
  • Being away from home on Christmas and doing something different.
  • Seeing old friends.
  • Delicious food and drink.
  • Time with my Mommy.
  • Being home again!

Painting a Mermaid

Sometimes I enjoy making mixed media art. It’s a hobby of mine.  I’m not very good at it, but I enjoy it just the same.  I recently finished a painting of a mermaid that took me months to complete. I started out with good intentions, then got distracted with other things and finally got back to it over Christmas break.  Here’s a gallery of the various stages it went through:

 

I’m Still Alone….

It’s Friday night.  I went out with a friend for her birthday.  She had somewhere to be early in the evening so asked if we could have dinner at 5:30.  I was fine with that.  What I was not fine was getting home, taking off my make-up, putting on my sleep clothes and realizing it wasn’t even 7:00.

When I left dinner I started to go to a bar, but I don’t know anyone who goes to those places in town.  Everyone I know is married or doesn’t drink (or both) so the odds of running into anyone I know and like at a bar are very very slim.  Thus, I would be going there to hopefully find some single person who was also unaccompanied.  I’m 47 years old and I’ve never met anyone in a bar who proved to be worth the time it took to get to know them.  I’m figuring that reality of single life hasn’t changed.

I flopped down on the sofa and took a nap.  At 10:00 p.m. I woke up and was all alone.  Nobody in the house, my son was still at work.  No one to talk to, no one to hang out with.  And even at that point, I still don’t see the point of signing on to a dating website again.  My hope for that venue has just dried up and evaporated.  Still.

Do I get lonely from time to time?  Occasionally.  But it just doesn’t seem worth going back into the dating world to try and solve that problem.  It’s bothering me somewhat tonight because a friend of mine just passed away.  And I saw his wife’s post on Facebook.  She talked about how lucky she was to have shared the love of such a good man.  They were a cute couple–happy, content, and they had a real partnership.  It made me sad to think about the fact that I may never have that.  But, I can’t force it.  I’ve tried that before.  And it always ends up in disaster.

So it’s after midnight, and I’m still alone.  But, that’s okay.

And He’s Still Around…That Creepy Little Elf!

Last year I included a post about that creepy little Elf on the Shelf.  Click here to see it.  I’m revisiting the subject for 2015.

I had my child when the Teletubbies were a new sensation.  I was in love with them, and we watched those videos over and over again.  I loved those little twerps and so did my son.  I know other people thought they were stupid, juvenile, creepy, annoying, etc.  That’s okay.  To those of you who think Elf on the Shelf is adorable, I feel you and I understand you and I respect you.  I really do.  But, I still think he’s creepy as hell, sorry, and I get the biggest kick out of seeing what kinds of stuff people do with him each year that is..,ahhhh…. shall we say “inappropriate?”  Here’s a collection of my all-time favorites:

 

Saxenda: An Update

I recently wrote about Saxenda, a new weight loss drug my doctor gave me.  I’m 47 years old, have thyroid issues, fat3and I’m insulin resistant with a family history of Type II diabetes.  The likelihood of me losing weight on my own has gone down over the years as a result of these conditions.

I weighed on October 30 at my annual check-up.  I was 186 pounds.  There, I said it.  Publicly.  I was over 200 pounds a few years ago after my thyroid went bonkers.  I took some of the weight off and kept it off, but I’ve held steady at between 180 and 186 for the last three years.  I never seem to be able to lose weight, even though I always feel like I’m watching what I eat and that I’m more often-than-not depriving myself of what I really want.

Well, I’m here to report that, so far, Saxenda is working like a charm.  I weighed this week, just about five weeks after I started taking it, and I’m down ten (10!!!!) pounds!  I can see it in my face and neck a little bit, and I can definitely tell it in how my jeans are fitting.  I’m so encouraged to finally have some success!

The downside–I just cannot eat much at all unless I lay off the Saxenda for a day or two beforehand.  Otherwise if I have more than a few bites I get horrible heartburn and acid reflux.  I sometimes end up having to throw up to feel human again.  That’s because Saxenda causes the stomach to empty slower than normal–a little food goes a LONG way.  So, I just have to make adjustments in the medication if I have a special outing or meal planned.  For instance, when we go to Orlando for Christmas we have reservations at Emeril’s restaurant.  I will definitely not take my Saxenda for two or three days beforehand!

fat2As I mentioned before, there were some digestive issues when I first started taking it.  It gave new meaning to the phrase from “The Bucket List” Jack Nicholson said–“Never trust a fart.”  I am pleased to report that those side effects went away after a couple of weeks.  Whew.

All-in-all I am pleased with how it’s working.  I’m still living off doctor’s samples and waiting on my insurance to approve the prescription.  That’s going to be the next hurdle.  The last time my doctor prescribed something for weight loss they denied it because I wasn’t fat enough.  I’m guessing that’s what’s going to happen this time, and I’ll have to fight with them about that.  Ya gotta’ love health insurance these days.  But that’s another rant for another day!

Holiday Spirit

xmasHoliday spirit for me has waned as I’ve gotten older.  I’m not sure why, although I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that my son outgrew the concept of Santa Claus years ago and that took a lot of the magic out of it for me.

I used to really enjoy planning his Santa surprises, hiding them, wrapping them in special paper, and then putting them out for him on Christmas Eve.  I always bought a bag of fake glitter snow and I would sprinkle it from the fireplace all the way to the tree and back to show him the “trail” that Santa left.  I’d eat the cookies and carrots and leave a few crumbs of them on the plate, with a thank you note from Santa and the reindeer.  It was such fun!

All that kind of magical stuff is gone I suppose, and won’t return until Ixmas1 have grandchildren.  I look forward to that someday, but no time soon since my son is only 18 and I don’t feel like being a “grandma” just yet.

I would try decorating, but since we are going to Orlando for the holiday, I don’t want to decorate.  That’ll just be work for me to come home to–taking down all the decorations!  Ain’t nobody got time for that!

So, without the joy of a small child in the house, and without the joy of decorating, I’m trying to find some holiday spirit this year.  I’ve been browsing my Christmas Pinterest board to look for inspiration.  Maybe it will help you find your’s?

Creative Christmas Gift Ideas

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One of many creative ways to present cash to a gift recipient this holiday season.

I love Pinterest!  I have lots of boards on there, and one of my favorites is my “Nifty Gifty” board. On that board I pin creative gift ideas all year long.  You can click here to go to the “Nifty Gifty” board.

I used to love shopping for Christmas, but as I’ve aged my Christmas list has gotten shorter and shorter and the amount of energy and thought I put into each gift has risen.   So here are some miscellaneous thoughts about interesting and creative gifts you can give this holiday season.

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A creative package of mini-bottles would be perfect for the drinker on your list!

I personally think that cash is a wonderful gift for any occasion.  I’ve never known anyone who didn’t appreciate it!  But, in my opinion just sticking it in an envelope or card is so boring and lacks imagination!  You’ll find lots of ideas for presenting cash gifts on my Pinterest board.

Another great gift idea is liquor, assuming your recipient is 21 or older, and consumes alcohol.  (It’s very bad form to give alcohol to someone who doesn’t drink, so make sure you know the recipient before buying booze for them!)   Most liquor stores carry the little mini-bottles of liquor and you can do some really creative presentations of those.  Not only is it a cute gift, but it’s an affordable one!  Present the little bottles in a nice reusable jar or box and that gives the recipient something to remember you by long after the booze has been consumed!

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There’s no limit to what you can put in a mason jar!

There are a million sites on the internet with ideas for “gifts in a jar.”  Mason jars are so popular and easy to find that it’s a no-brainer to use them as gift packaging.  They are reusable and up-cycleable, and easier on the environment than a gift bag or throw-away box.  Fill them with the aforementioned mini-bottles of liquor, or spa goodies, or homemade recipe mixes.  Heck, use them to present cash!

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Cardboard animal busts are fun to put together and decorate.

I love the cardboard animal busts for a handy gal or guy who likes an artistic project.  Throw in some markers or some paints and brushes and you’ve just given the gift of creative entertainment!

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Revenge knives–for the pissed off person on your gift list!

For the newly-divorced person in your life, a set of revenge knives couldn’t be more timely.  They are a bit pricey, but if you know someone who is feeling a little downtrodden or put upon, they might be just the thing to elicit a big smile.

Just don’t be afraid to think outside the box!  The world is full of bad gifts–fruitcakes that no one will ever eat, clothes that don’t fit (either in size or style), and excessive quantities of coffee mugs–so this year be creative and try to have some fun with your gift shopping (and wrapping)!

 

 

Holiday Party 2015: The End Result

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This gallery contains 11 photos.

I wrote a few weeks ago about my Holiday Party 2015 food plans.  I just wanted to share the results and show you the “real” pictures versus the stock photos I found on Pinterest. Everything went off without a hitch … Continue reading

Dessert Shooters: The End Result

I recently wrote about my plans to make dessert shooters for my holiday entertaining.  I posted lovely stock photographs of what they were supposed to look like, but wanted to follow up with shots of “the real thing” along with a report on how they turned out.

Let me say both recipes were DELIGHTFUL in terms of basic fillings.  The key lime was my son’s personal favorite (“Mom, please be sure to save me some of that”-kinda’ favorite).  I ended up skipping the layer of lime curd because I was just too tired to make it after cooking for four days.  Also, the little cups were so tiny that making a second layer seemed almost impossible.  I also decided if I was going to add a fruity layer it should be raspberry, just for visual interest and a little spark of contrast in the flavors.  But I didn’t get around to doing it!

The students at my taco night devoured the chocolate mousse, which was super smooth and creamy and light.  I held back the key lime for my holiday party which is tonight.  The only problem I had was the room was pretty warm and that caused the whipped cream to lose its peaks and sort of flatten out after I squirted it into the little cups.

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Chocolate chili mousse dessert shooters.

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Now, the decorations were sort of an unexpected surprise.  Edible glitters, little chocolate curls, chocolate gems, etc., were compliments of a friend of mine who works for a company that makes those.   That wonderful man hooked me up big time when I asked for a few to make these same desserts for my friend’s wedding, which is coming up in March.  He send me five boxes of assorted chocolate decorations that are just to die for, plus the edible glitters.  They really put the finishing touch on these!  Thank you, John!  xoxox

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Key lime dessert shooters with red and white chocolate gems.

Anyway, they aren’t as pretty as I’d like them to be, mostly because by the time it was time to fill the cups I was tired, the party hadn’t even started, and I just needed to get them done.  Plus, I realized I was running really short on key lime filling and I didn’t have nearly as much as I needed, which was frustrating.  I will take a much more careful, measured approach when I do my friend’s wedding desserts to make sure they are much more elegant.

Recipes Sometimes Need Fixin’: Rosemary Roasted Cashews

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Ina’s cashews, as depicted by a food stylist.

My holiday party menu includes Ina “The Barefoot Contessa” Garten’s Rosemary Roasted Cashews.  I thought the concept of them sounded very delicious and I wanted to put them on the menu for the upcoming event.  Being one of those recipes you can make days in advance, I decided to go ahead and make them tonight (Sunday), for next Friday’s party.

This is one of those times that I have to just say “Ina, what was your barefooted brain thinking….????”  As soon as I started making the recipe, I noticed some problems.  And, after I finished it I went back to see that it got a 1.5 star rating out of 5 stars.  Please tell me why I didn’t check that out before?!?

 

Let me start by showing you HER version of the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 4 c. raw cashews
  • 2 tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. cayenne (ground red) pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. On 18-inch by 12-inch jelly-roll pan, arrange cashews in single layer. Roast 10 to 12 minutes or until nuts are toasted and heated through.
  3. Meanwhile, in large bowl, stir together rosemary, butter, sugar, salt, and cayenne until combined.
  4. Add hot cashews to bowl with rosemary mixture; toss until nuts are well coated.

Problem #1:  Very few places sell raw cashews by the CUP.  Maybe Ina finds them that way at a fancy gourmet shop in the Hamptons, but the rest of us poor common bastards have to buy them by the 1 pound bag at Trader Joe’s.  So why not just say “1 pound” of cashews?  Coincidentally, the bag’s label says that the bag contains 3 and 3/4 cups.  So whatever.

Problem #2:  The butter she calls for is not specified to be melted.  Step 3 says to stir together the butter,rosemary, etc.   You can’t stir and combine unmelted butter, Ina.  Even I know that.

Problem #3:  How is 1 tablespoon of butter going to coat a POUND–er… 4 cups–of cashews???

Problem #4:   You’re putting in 1/4 as much cayenne pepper as you are salt?  REALLY????  That is one metric buttload of pepper, Ina.

Problem #5:  Do cashews really get done in 10-12 minutes?  Uh…. no, they don’t.  Not at the called-for temperature.

What I immediately did to the recipe was double the butter called for, and, I melted it.  I combined it with the other ingredients and created a lovely sauce that I drizzled over the nuts and then I stirred them together vigorously until they were all thoroughly coated.

I did fall for her recommendation on how much cayenne pepper to use and I regret doing that.  I like hot food but dang these things are hhhhhhoooootttttt!!!!!!  I could cut the cayenne in half next time.

My finished product... not as pretty as her picture but they're still pretty good. Hot enough to give Satan indigestion, but still pretty good1

My finished product… not as pretty as her picture but they’re still pretty good. Hot enough to give Satan indigestion, but still pretty good!

So, here I am officially publishing MY recipe for Rosemary Roasted Cashews, and, it goes like this…

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. raw cashews
  • 2 tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 tsp. dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne (ground red) pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a 9×12 roasting pan, arrange cashews in a shallow layer.  Roast 7 to 8 minutes, then shake them around in the pan.  Roast another 7 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir together rosemary, melted butter, sugar, salt, and cayenne until combined.  Put it in the microwave for 30 seconds to make sure the sugar thoroughly melts and combines with the butter.
  4. Remove cashews from the oven.  Pour the butter mixture over the cashews in the pan and stir vigorously to combine until nuts are well coated.

“Date-Free” And Loving It!

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The face I made after listening to some of the people I met on dating sites….

It’s been over two months since I gave up on meeting anyone special.  I did have one or two other prospects that were carryovers from the online dating scene, but they quickly faded away.

One was named Allen.  He was a Naval officer who lived about 3 hours from me.  We met one day at an in-between point and had lunch, drank some wine, had a great time, and promised we were going to get together again.  Each time I would suggest something he was busy.  If he suggested something, I was busy with work or medical appointments or travel of my own.  Then one day he said he was coming to see me on Wednesday and taking me out to dinner.  Cool!  I was really looking forward to that.

I never heard another word.  Not one word.

There was no pathetic text breaking the date because his dog was sick with strep, no “Sorry, I can’t make it” call.  Nothing.  I am assuming he either met somebody else or he was with someone else all along.  No great loss, he talked a lot about himself and would sometimes leave me bored senseless from listening to his stories about work.

 

Since then, I have been completely “date-free.”  No social life with the opposite sex, and no prospect of one.  Candidly, I really don’t miss the ups and downs of checking a dating site every day.  Mostly what I found were scammers looking for a sucker, or idiots who couldn’t read (or couldn’t comprehend what they read).  It was exhausting after awhile.  So, I am back to the old fashioned standard of meeting people in bars.

That was a joke.  I rarely go to bars, and when I do I’m with my friends and not looking to meet anyone.  I just said that to see if you were awake.

During this hiatus from dating, I am getting to know myself a little better, I’ve had a lot more time to focus on my job and best of all I’ve spent a lot more time with my son.  These are all good uses of my time and I think in many ways they are having a healing effect on me.  I sometimes find myself with too much time on my hands, and that is not a bad thing, either.  I relax.  I watch movies or engage in mindless activities. As a result I don’t feel overworked or spread too thin or worn out.  Hey, the bright side is that if Mr. Right shows up maybe I won’t ruin it by being exhausted and jaded from the online dating fiasco!  Maybe there is something to be said for this “date-free” lifestyle!

The Newest Weightloss Drug: Saxenda

download (1)I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life.  After I had my son 18+ years ago, I never lost all my baby fat.  And, after I turned 40, my thyroid went bonkers and I gained even more weight.  I am 5’6″ tall and got well over 200 pounds at my heaviest.

The weight just doesn’t come off anymore.  My doctor says I am insulin resistant–and that makes sense because diabetes runs in my family on my dad’s side.  She says that’s one reason I have trouble losing weight. The funny thing is as much as I write about food I don’t eat that much. I’m not much of a snacker–I don’t sit around eating chips and candy all day or anything like that.  Yet my ass remains at about 185 pounds and has been stuck there for years.

Part of me wishes I could just accept it and say “This is who I am,” but I can’t.  I look better at 140 or 150, and the older I get the more I’m worried about how my skin is losing its elasticity.  I would hate to lose the weight and have all my skin stay stretched out, and those days they are-a-coming.

I’m trying something new I wanted to tell you about.  It’s called Saxenda and it’s a daily injection I take.  I’ve been on it almost a month and I have to say I think it’s working saxendaaccording to how I feel and how my clothes are fitting.

Saxenda is also marketed under the brand name Victoza.  Victoza is for Type 2 Diabetes.  But, it also has the very pleasant side effect of weight loss.  As it was explained to me, it causes your stomach to empty much slower than normal, which keeps you from eating as much.  Your food intake goes down, and, that results in weight loss without you suffering or feeling deprived and hungry.

Okay, so here’s the bad news.  If you’re used to eating a certain portion size, you better adjust those expectations as soon as you start taking Saxenda.  Where a Quarter Pounder or Big Mac once did the trick, now you’re only going to be able to eat a small size hamburger.  If you don’t?  You’re going to hurl.  Quickly.  That’s because there’s just no room in your stomach for that much food.  So, I liken this medication to a pharmaceutically-induced gastric bypass.  Everyone I know whose had gastric bypass gets sick if they eat one or two bites too much, and that can happen here, especially when you are getting used to the medication.

The dose can be cranked up from .6 to 3.0, and you’re supposed to increase it slowly every week.  Start with .6 daily for a week, then in week 2 go to 1.2, 1.8 in week 3, etc.  I have worked my way up to 3.0 and it makes it very easy not to eat.  It also makes it very hard to keep food down if I consume a lot of liquids.  I was in New Orleans this week and did a little bar hopping on Bourbon Street. By the time I got to dinner I could only eat 2 or 3 bites of food since I’d drank several beverages.  That was a huge disappointment for me since we were dining at Emeril’s restaurant.  I wish I had laid off the medication for a few days before going to New Orleans just so I could enjoy the food there more.  But, alas, I did not. So, I spent a lot of time wishing I were hungry, and, a fair amount of time throwing up due consuming too many liquids.

It’s Thanksgiving tomorrow, and I did not take my Saxenda shot today.  Nor will I take it tomorrow, just because I want to be able to enjoy the food that we’ll be eating.

There is one other unpleasant side effect I encountered that I better warn you about.  When you first start taking Saxenda, for goodness sakes, uh….. how do I put this?  I know…do NOT trust a fart.  I shall not share with you the details of what happens, just take my word for it and let’s leave it at that!

So what about taking a shot every day?  How is that?  Well it’s not too bad.  The needles are very tiny, and short.  They pierce the skin pretty  painlessly, although I will say there are some places on your body that are less sensitive than others.  I usually do my lower abdomen, below my naval, because I find that to be the least sensitive area.  I’ve tried arms, legs and various portions of my abdomen.  The lower abdomen seems to be the easiest and least sensitive zone, but  that could vary depending on how you’re made and how sensitive your skin is.

The studies done so far show that it does help take off and keep off weight better than diet and exercise alone.  I hope I get results out of this, but if I don’t maybe it’s just time to decide I can live with myself just the way I am?   I’ll keep you posted on how it works….

The Muppets, and Why You Should Watch

This is the first time I have reviewed a television show at BWAV, but I’ve fallen in love with this little gem and I hear it’s getting bad ratings.  So, I’m hoping if I tell you about it you’ll watch it too and maybe help save it from cancellation?

I’m talking about “The Muppets,” which, is a pleasantly surprising puppet version of “The Office.”  It has lots of adult humor, lots of innuendo and sufficiently over-the-top characters to entertain and engage even the most jaded person.  The premise is that there’s a late night entertainment show hosted by Miss Piggy.  Kermit the Frog is the producer of the show, and “The Muppets” is a mockumentary about how the show is made. It explores the characters’ personal lives, including the highly dysfunctional relationship between Miss Piggy and Kermit.

Fozzie the Bear is the comic who warms up Miss Piggy’s nightly audience with his brand of humor.  He’s still not funny, but that leaves plenty of room for the two old cranks, Statler and Waldorf, to heckle him.   And, Fozzie is dating a human in the series, which leaves room for lots of jokes about “mixed” relationships.

The band that plays on the show consists of several musicians, but Animal and Janice are the most notable.  Janice is adored and wooed by the ever-staid and completely 12208477_952158531516412_2530950674469431577_nawkward Sam Eagle, and of course she is so air headed that she doesn’t notice him.  Animal is….well, he’s still Animal.  The innuendo about the band being high is plentiful.

Beaker and Bunsen are still inseparable, and on Episode #4 (“Pig Out”) they show up to work wearing each other’s clothes after a night of partying.  When Kermit asks them why, Bunsen tells Beaker that if it happened outside of work they aren’t required to answer the question.  Classic.

Pepe the King Prawn is a Latin romance expert who is first of all hilarious looking, and second of all his lines are just pure gold. He reminds me of Puss In Boots from Shrek.

And then there’s “Chip, the IT guy” who is beyond creepy.  I’ve met some IT guys like that before.

I could go on and on listing the characters, but what I’d suggest is you get on Hulu and watch this season’s shows yourself.  The best one, in my opinion, was Episode 4, “Pig Out,” when Ed Helms made an appearance at a karaoke bar.  The Swedish Chef singing “Rapper’s Delight” has been watched at least a dozen times on my computer and I’ll probably go watch it again after I finish writing this.  I’m including it here for you to enjoy.

And then there was this little exchange in Episode #3, “Bear Left Then Bear Right” that made me officially fall in love with the show:

Fozzie the Bear:    You ever been shot with a tranquilizer dart, Kermit?

Kermit:  Uh, well, no, but I did lick my third cousin once and the walls started melting, so I feel you, bro.

So check out my new favorite show on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST/7 p.m. CST.  Please?

Really Stupid Jokes

995d621e9201e4c505508b900a0166ec And now for something completely different–a bunch of random stupid jokes that may (or may not) amuse you.

What’s green and smells like pork?  Kermit the Frog’s finger.

What’s invisible and smells like carrots?   Bunny farts.

Why are turds tapered?   So your butthole doesn’t slam shut.

What’s the difference between oral sex and anal sex?   Oral sex makes your day, anal sex makes your hole weak.

How do you make five pounds of fat look good?   Put a nipple on it.

Who is the most popular guy at the nudist colony?  The guy who can carry a cup of coffee in each hand and a dozen donuts.

Who is the most popular girl at the nudist colony?  The one who can eat the last donut!

What is Bill Clinton’s favorite card game?   Poker.

What do you call a guy with tiny wiener?  Justin.

What do you call a guy with a huge wiener?   Phil

How do you circumcise a hillbilly?   Kick his sister in the jaw.

Knock Knock.  Who’s there?  Europe.  Europe Who?  No, YOU’RE a poo.

 

The Hazards of Travel

I hate to post something else bitchy about my trip, but hey, it is my reality.

My flight out of Vegas on Friday night was missed.  We were winning at the craps table and lost track of time.  Okay, that was MY FAULT.  It was not American Airlines’ fault.  But, the hateful shrew of a ticket agent just made the situation ten times worse with her attitude.  It was going to be another day before I could leave, and then she was going to charge me hundreds of dollars to get the next flight.  I have never seen an airline do that if you miss a flight!

I asked about flying into another airport.  She found a ticket for that, and wanted $350 for that ticket.  I lost it.  I’m surprised I didn’t have a stroke at that moment.  I should not have, but I called her a bitch.  I stormed off, ready to scream.  Someone yelled at me, “Hey….” and I realized I left my purse there.  Nothing like making a good scene and then fucking it up with a faux pas like that.

So I called my friend up, crying, and he came back and got me.  I had a nice evening and I rebooked a ticket online using frequent flyer miles–no way I was going to give those jackholes any of my money if I could help it.  The next day was nice, too, we did some sight seeing and a little gambling here and there.  I found a 70 year old man walking around downtown in nothing but a thong and I had my picture made with him.   That, alone, was almost worth missing my flight over.

This time, though, I got to the airport 3 hours early just to make sure I didn’t miss my flight.

I flew all night to Miami, then from Miami to Charlotte.  On the flight from Miami to Charlotte I sat next to some woman whose name had to be Amazonia.  Oh dear lawd she was big in that middle seat and she hogged the arm rest the entire way, I couldn’t move, I was edged almost out of my seat.  When we landed she insisted on stepping over me to get out of the seat before me.  Nothing like a 300 pound woman’s ass dragging across your lap to make your day seem kinda’ hopeless.

The good news is I am on the last flight to home.  The flight attendant is friendly and the flight looks to be not full…. which means maybe I can get some more sleep?  Oh hell no, there is a 6 month old baby sitting right behind me.  I bet it screams the entire time.  I can’t wait to snuggle up with my dogs, give my son a big hug and kiss, and flop down in my favorite easy chair and just enjoy being home.

P.S.  I’m now home.  Baby did not cry once on the entire flight.  Great success….then American Airlines lost my luggage.  WTF?!?

Just Shoot Me

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Key lime dessert shooters.

I am obsessed with the idea of doing dessert shooters this year for the holidays.  Instead of making a whole pie or cake, I can make these little 2 ounce mini versions of dessert that I think we’ll all enjoy, and, they will be easier on the waistline.

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Little 2 ounce dessert shooter cups. Don’t they look like mini trifle bowls?

I’m getting these little 2 ounce cups from the Webstaurant Store.  They are rather elegant looking, I think.  And some disposable tasting spoons that look like they are made of silver.  Fewer dishes to wash means a happier me after the party is over.  This kind of stuff doesn’t “go bad” and will keep in the pantry forever, so I can use them for future parties, too.

So the question is how to make them, and I think I’ve figured that part out, which I’m going to share with you here today.  My plan is to make two kinds–a key lime and a chocolate chili.  I love chocolate with chili in it and it will be something unexpected!  Here’s how to do each one:

Key Lime Dessert Shooters

Because these cups are plastic, the dessert has to be no-bake.  My plan is to layer the cups with graham cracker crumbs and butter, filling, lime curd and whipped cream.  Here’s the recipe for all that:

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs, finely ground.  (My favorite brand is Trader Joe’s, they have an amazing taste!)
  • 1/2 cup of finely ground roasted pecans OR cashews.
  • 1/2 stick of butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.  The mixture should be like the consistency of wet sand.  Put a spoon full in the bottom  of each shooter cup, and gently  tamp it down with a muddler to make a nicely packed crust.
Filling
  • 12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp Nellie & Joe’s key lime juice
  • finely-grated zest of 2 limes
  • 4 ounces of whipped cream

Topping

  • 1 can aerosol whipped cream
Combine these ingredients and beat on high speed until light and fluffy.  Taste… if it’s not limey enough add in more lime zest!  Put filling in a piping bag (you can use a ziplock bag–just cut the corner of it off to pipe the filling) and fill each cup about 3/4.  Sprinkle in some more of the crust mixture to create a layer of texture, then add a dollop of the canned whipped cream on top.  You can garnish with green sugar if you like, or, some finely shaved lime zest.
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Chocolate Chili dessert shooters.

 

Chocolate Chili Shooters

The approach to these will be very similar to the key lime shooters.  I’ll be creating a cookie crust layer and a chocolate mousse layer, then topping it with whipped cream.

 

Chocolate Cookie Crust

  • 2 cups of chocolate wafer cookie crumbs, finely ground.
  • 1/2 stick of butter, melted
Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.  Put a spoon full in the bottom  of each shooter cup, and tamp it down with a muddler to make a nicely packed crust.
Chocolate Chili Mousse Filling
  • 6 oz semi sweet chocolate (3/4 cup if using chocolate chips)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 TBS sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground chilis (I am not sure if I will use adobo or chipotle, but definitely will not use anything like habanero or ghost pepper!)

Topping

  • 1 can aerosol whipped cream

Melt chocolate in a double boiler over medium low heat. Once melted, remove chocolate from heat to cool.

While the chocolate is cooling, whip the cream to stiff peaks. In a separate, large bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Then, with the mixer running, slowly add the sugar and continue to whip to medium peaks.

Add the chili powder and about 1/4 of the whipped cream to the melted, cooled chocolate and stir vigorously until combined and completely smooth.

Add the chocolate mixture to the egg whites and fold in gently. Add the remaining whipped cream to the chocolate and egg white mixture and gently fold to incorporate.

Put the mousse in a piping bag (you can use a ziplock bag–just cut the corner of it off to pipe the filling) and fill each cup about 1/2 way.  Put a layer of cookie crumbs in, then another layer of mousse, more cookies, then top with a squirt of whipped cream.  Garnish with finely shaved chocolate or even mini chocolate chips.

You’ll notice I’ve posted pictures of shooters I haven’t actually made yet.  Click here to see the “real” finished product!

Yet Another Turkey-Free Holiday

downloadI don’t like turkey very much.  I mean, if it’s all there is I’ll eat a little, but I don’t crave it.  I don’t sit around all year daydreaming about Thanksgiving turkey.  When the ads for them start I actually make this face where I jack up my top lip on one side–kind of like I just smelled an unexpected and absolutely raucous fart.  So, turkey is not on the menu at our house for Thanksgiving.  Here’s what are we doing instead for our turkey-free holiday.

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Apparently I’m not the only cat on the block who dislikes turkey–I found this graphic online and just had to include it in this post!

We’re a tiny family of two people, my son and I.  He has a girlfriend but she is spending the Thanksgiving holiday with her family since they are letting her go to Orlando with us for Christmas.   So, we only have to please the two of us.  Every year we usually do something special for our meal, and this year’s selection is crab.  Alaskan king crab legs, crab cakes, and arugula salad.  That’s the menu!  That’ll be plenty for the two of us, and we both love crab meat.  We’ll feast on that Thanksgiving day, then on Black Friday we’ll have his girlfriend over for another feast of, tentatively, crab alfredo.  Here’s everything you’ll need to join us in a turkey-free holiday!

Buying Crab

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A Maryland blue crab.

Lump crab meat typically comes from Maryland blue crabs.  I get my lump crab meat from Blue Crab Trading.   The reason I do that is because the crab meat you can find in North Carolina and in most grocery stores across the country is all pasteurized, and that’s not as good as fresh crab meat.  Pasteurized means it’s been cooked already, and that definitely subtracts from the flavor.  In a pinch it will do, but I’d much rather have fresh.  And hey, it’s only once a year.  Fresh is more expensive (fresh lump crab meat is about $32 a pound, jumbo lump crab meat is about $43 a pound, claw and backfin meat is typically about $22 a pound), but again, it’s just once a year.

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Could this be a photograph of the actual king crab I’ll be eating for Thanksgiving dinner?

The crab legs come frozen from Alaska, and the ones I ordered are from the king crab.  Blue Crab Trading had the colossal size king crab legs on special so I ordered 4 pounds of those.  The colossal ones average about a pound per leg.  Dang that’s big.  I’d hate to see one of those king crabs coming at me underwater, even though I know they are not dangerous!

For a less expensive option, you can get snow crab legs, which are smaller and more labor-intensive to work with in terms of extracting the meat.

Two pounds of lump crab meat, four pounds of crab legs, plus shipping and handling and everything was $195.  That’s a lot to spend, but it will make at least two meals (or maybe I should say feasts?)  And, I’m not doing a ton of sides or snacks–like I said, it’s crab, it’s salad, and that’s the fare for Thanksgiving.  The salad will cost me about $10 to make.  So, I’m splurging on crab.

How to Prepare King Crab Legs

King crab meat is so sweet and luscious on its own that all you really need to do is cook the legs.  No seasoning required, no fancy preparation necessary.  A butcher taught me a few years ago that the easiest way to prepare them is to roast them in the oven.  You don’t have to dirty up a big stock pot for boiling, and that’s always a good thing if you hate to wash dishes like I do.  I’ll thaw the legs in the refrigerator, then roast them in a 400 degree oven for about 6 minutes.

I’ll serve the crab legs with some melted butter (Irish, of course!).  No, I don’t do clarified butter.  What a buncha’ work just to be fancy about it, and I’m not about that kind of effort.  But, if you want clarified butter, here’s the recipe, just click here.

We also love love love good homemade cocktail sauce.  This is my favorite recipe from Alton Brown at www.foodnetwork.com:

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup prepared chili sauce
4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon sugar
Few grinds fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sprinkle Old Bay seasoning

Combine all ingredients in a food processor.  If it’s not spicy enough, add more horseradish one half teaspoon at a time until you get enough fire in it!

What to Do with Lump Crab Meat:  Crab Cakes

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Paula Deen’s crab cake.

My son specifically requested crab cakes, and I am happy to oblige.  I love a really good crab cake!  My very favorite recipe is from Paula Deen.

1 pound crab meat, picked free of shells
1/3 cup crushed crackers (recommended: Ritz)
3 green onions (green and white parts), finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 egg
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
Dash cayenne pepper
Flour, for dusting
1/2 cup peanut oil
Favorite dipping sauce, for serving

I strongly recommend four things here:

  1. Use the Ritz crackers, don’t substitute any other crackers for this!
  2. Use red bell pepper instead of green for a sweeter taste and for a nice splash of color in the mixture.
  3. If you have time, make homemade mayonnaise.  It is so much better than the stuff from the jar, and you can see my recipe for it here.
  4. Don’t skimp on the oil–buy peanut oil and use it.  Don’t fry in anything else.

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients, except for the flour and peanut oil. Shape into patties and dust with flour.

One thing to note is that the mixture is going to be very loose, because it is mostly crab meat.  Some crab cake recipes are so full of breading and fillers that you end up with about 50% crab and 50% breading.  Not this recipe–it is all crab, with just enough cracker crumbs and mayo to hold it all together.  If you are having trouble getting the cakes to stick together, refrigerate the mixture until it’s very cold and then shape the patties.  If you’re still having trouble add a couple of tablespoons of cracker crumbs to tighten up the mixture.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, carefully place crab cakes, in batches, in pan and fry until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip crab cakes and fry on other side until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Serve warm with preferred sauce, which for us is will also be cocktail sauce as described above.  You could also use tartar sauce but I prefer a nice homemade remoulade.  Click here for a tartar sauce recipe. Click here for a remoulade recipe.  In both cases, again, I recommend homemade mayonnaise.

What to Do With Lump Crab Meat:  Crab Alfredo

My son wants us to have a second Thanksgiving dinner with his girlfriend the day after the holiday, and I’m all for doing that.  He suggested a crab alfredo, and I’m good with that!  All that requires is to make a nice Alfredo Capturesauce, then gently fold in some of the crab meat.  Here’s a sweet recipe for that from Chef Geoffrey Zakarian:

Bechamel Sauce:

4 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch grated nutmeg
2 cloves
2 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fettuccine Alfredo:

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces dried fettuccine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup finely minced fresh parsley

For the bechamel: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium flame. Add the flour and whisk until the texture of wet sand is achieved. Lower the heat to low, add the nutmeg and cloves and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the whole milk and bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook for 3 minutes, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

For the fettuccine alfredo: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Add the pasta and begin to cook.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the shallots and garlic until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the bechamel sauce, along with 1 cup of the pasta water.

When the pasta is 80 percent cooked, add it to the saute pan and simmer until the sauce is thickened and the pasta is al dente. Toss with the cheeses and parsley, and season with salt and pepper.

This recipe makes four servings, so I suggest 3/4 to a full pound of crab meat for it.   Gently fold it in so you don’t break up the crab meat lumps, and simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes until the crab is done.  (If you’re using pasteurized crab meat, you just have to get it warm, since it’s already cooked).

Arugula Salad

13993With all the rich crab meat, we need some lighter fare!  My son is not crazy about salad, except for arugula salad.  He loves it, so I serve it to get some vegetables in his stomach.  I’ve grown rather fond of it myself.  It’s easy to make, and unlike iceberg lettuce it has some nutritional value to it.

You’ll need:

  • shallot vinaigrette salad dressing
  • 1 package of baby arugula
  • 1 package of Campari tomatoes, cut into fourths.
  • 1/2 cup of pine nuts
  • croutons
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese, or, finely shaved parmesan cheese

To make the vinaigrette, finely mince a large shallot.  Combine with the juice of two lemons and a teaspoon of salt.  Add 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar or champagne vinegar, several grinds of fresh black pepper, and then whisk in 1/2 cup of very good olive oil.   Make this at least 24 hours in advance so the flavors have time to blend.

Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan over medium heat, just until they are fragrant.  Be careful–they burn fast!  Don’t take your eyes off the pine nuts while cooking.

To make the croutons, preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  Get some day-old bread, cut it into cubes.  Put the bread in a gallon ziplock bag and drizzle in some good quality olive oil.  Put in a generous amount of salt (maybe 2 teaspoons) and fresh ground black pepper.  You can also add 1/4 cup of finely minced herbs (rosemary and parsley would be good, but you can  use anything) and/or a couple teaspoons of granulated garlic.  Close the bag and shake like crazy to get the oil spread around and the seasonings distributed.  Spread them out on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.  Check them to see if they are nice and dry and crispy.  If not, bake for another 15 minutes and check again.  Keep baking until they are to your liking.

Assemble the salad:

Toss the arugula with enough of the dressing to coat all the leaves.  Put it on a serving platter or in a bowl.  Top with the tomatoes, pine nuts, croutons, and cheese if you have opted to include cheese.  I usually don’t include because my son isn’t crazy about cheese (which makes me wonder if he’s really mine?)

So there you have it… our Thanksgiving menu!  I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do.  There is the possibility that I will include a dessert, but that is yet to be determined….

AFTER-the-FACT NOTE

I am pleased to report that everything turned out great.   The only “complaint” is that I bought entirely too much crab meat for two people and now I’ve got to get creative about how to use it up before it gets old.  The crab alfredo was a huge hit, it was really delicious and rich and my son and his girlfriend absolutely loved it.  I did end up doing dessert, making the key lime dessert shooters described here.  They turned out amazing, although I think a sprinkle of coconut in the layers might be a nice addition next time.

 

Rantings of a Woman Trapped on an Airplane

woman-talking_300So I’m on a plane to Las Vegas.  I’m going to a conference for work.  The guy next to me is quiet.  The people on the other side of the aisle are quiet.  It’s a nice quiet flight, except for the woman behind me.  Dear sweet Mary, Jesus and Joseph, she will NOT shut the hell up.  And she found herself a chatty buddy to sit next to, so they are talking nonstop.

Apparently he said something that was just beyond hilarious and she cackled and snorted and laughed while slapping the back of my seat.  That wasn’t too annoying <RMFE>.

I have turned around in my seat a couple of times to give them “the look.”  You know the look I’m talking about.  With absolutely no words spoken, it clearly conveys this message:

“Wow, are you loud!  I can hear everything you’re saying, and it’s annoying.  Nobody cares that your gerbil died when you were seven years old.  How did he die?  I’m betting he committed suicide to avoid listening to you rattle on incessantly about whatever the fuck it is that you were talking about at that age.  Please, for the love of all that is good and decent, and for the sake of my sanity, think about your surroundings and lower your voice.  Hey, I am going to call the flight attendant and order you a nice steaming hot cup of shut the fuck up if you don’t stop.”

I am absolutely certain that’s the look I gave her because for a while, she lowered her voice.  But it’s back up to maximum volume again and she is rattling on about this and that and she’s got Chatty Charlie back there chiming in and they’re talking about x-rays and illnesses and I’m thinking, “Your mouth… your mouth and vocal chords are in outstanding shape.  Bet ya’ got a clean bill of health on those.”

Oh she just announced that she’s a nurse practitioner.  I bet the patients she treats never need anesthesia.  All she has to do is talk to them and they just pass the hell out from boredom!

She’s headed to Wyoming.  Lucky Wyoming.  I’m just glad she’s not following me to Las Vegas because that would be my luck.  She’d probably be staying at my hotel.  On my floor.  And I’d have to hear that annoying laugh for three days.

I have some little mini-bottles of rum in my purse.  It’s 7:30 a.m. and I busted one out to settle my nerves.  I offered one to the guy in the seat next to me.  He declined.  Oh well, more for me.  I can feel the plane descending back towards earth now…..OH CRAP…I just remembered that Nevada is close to Wyoming.  I don’t know if there are direct flights to Wyoming from Charlotte or not.  If there aren’t she could be on my next flight.  I bet if she is she’ll sit right behind me again.  I’ve got to buy some earbuds in the airport, that’s all there is to it.

She keeps talking about being a nurse.  I have friends who are nurses I know would stab her in the neck with a scalpel if she talked like that all day every day.  Maybe she’s quieter at work?

Thirty minutes later…flight is over.  That was the longest 50 minute flight I can remember in a very very long time.  As soon as we landed I bought some earbuds for $37.50.  I consider that a bargain at twice the price for the next leg of my trip, which is a five hour flight.  Thanks for listening and Viva Las Vegas!

Nellie & Joe’s

lime-hero1I cook a lot with lime juice.  And I do love to use fresh citrus when I cook.  There is nothing quite as appealing as the smell of fresh lime zest!  I also bartend with a lot of lime juice, as I love mojitos and I love vodka and club soda with lime.  But, it takes a lot of limes to make a large quantity of lime juice, and I don’t really feel like squeezing pounds and pounds of limes every month to extract the juice that I need.

So, I’d like to share with you my lime juice secret.  There’s a particular brand on the market that I swear by, and you will too once you try it:   Nellie & Joe’s Key Lime Juice.

Nellie & Joe’s is available on the fruit juice aisle of most grocery stores, or you can order it online by clicking here.  You’ll typically find two brands of lime juice in the store:  “ReaLime” and Nellie & Joe’s.  I’d tell you to buy a bottle of each and taste the difference but that’d just be a waste of your hard-earned money.  Trust me on this one…. Nellie & Joe’s is the only one to buy.

The company offers great dessert recipes on their website.   Me being the key lime pie freak that I am I have my personal favorite recipe for piekey lime pie, and it’s from Emeril Lagasse at Food Network.  Where lime juice is called for use Nellie & Joe’s, and of course I have to modify the recipe to suit myself…. my modifications are noted.

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick butter) melted
2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup key lime or regular lime juice
2 whole large eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lime zest
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter with your hands.  (My modification:   to the crust also add 1 cup of finely ground roasted pecans or cashews, and, 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon).  Press the mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie pan, and bake until brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before filling.

Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

In a separate bowl, combine the condensed milk, lime juice, and eggs. Whisk until well blended and place the filling in the cooled pie shell. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes and allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Once chilled, combine the sour cream and powdered sugar and spread over the top of the pie using a spatula. Sprinkle the lime zest as a garnish on top of the sour cream and serve chilled.

And Then There’s Taco Night

downloadEvery semester I make dinner for my students just before final exams.  It’s a fun thing I love to do, and they seem to enjoy it.  I guess college kids never turn down free food, but I’ve developed quite a reputation for my Mexican food fare so they often come with heavy appetites ready to indulge.

It has also become a tradition to do taco night the night before my holiday party.   The reason is simple–I only have to get the house really clean ONE time, and I get double duty out of it.  I also get double duty out of some of my food prep.  For instance I will make seven-layer dip for Taco Night.  I will also make chips and salsa for Taco Night, and, I will serve all of those things at the holiday party the following evening.  One prep, double-duty.

A taco/nacho bar is SUPER easy to set up and prepare.  You can use store bought chips and salsa if you like, but homemade are better and you can click here to find out how to make the salsa  and you can click here to find out how to make the chips.   Beyond that, the only real “cooking” there is to do is to make the meat.  I always do two types of meat:  ground beef and shredded chicken.  It’s a piece of cake to make both.  Just use one pound of each type of meat for every six people you are expecting.  30 people?  You need five pounds of ground chuck and five pounds of chicken breasts (boneless and skinless).

  • To prepare the ground beef, get a box of taco seasoning mix from your warehouse club.   I suggest this because the little individual packets are expensive and taco seasoning will last for approximately 37 years in a cool dry place.  You’ll use it up eventually, plus you’ll need it for seven layer dip if you’re making that!  Brown the meat, then add the seasoning mix and water according to directions.  Simmer.  You’re ready to serve.  You can make this a day or two (or even three or four) in advance and keep it refrigerated, then just reheat.
  • To prepare the chicken, you really need to plan on a day of marinating.  Put about three pounds of chicken in a gallon ziplock bag and to that add:   1 cup of lime juice, 1/2 cup of tequila (use the cheap stuff), TONS of garlic (I would literally suggest about 10 or 12 cloves, finely minced.  You can use a couple tablespoons of granulated garlic if you prefer) and about two tablespoons of salt.  Mix vigorously and let it soak for 24 hours.  Then if possible grill it over charcoal if weather permits.  If it doesn’t, brown it in olive oil about five minutes on each side, then roast in an oven until the meat reaches a temperature of 160 degrees.  DON’T OVERCOOK IT.  You want the chicken just done enough to kill the bacteria, and if you overcook it the chicken will be dry and tasteless.  Once the meat is cool to the touch shred it with two forks, discarding any of those funky rubbery tendons and things that come in chicken breasts.

So, you’ve got meat, chips and salsa.   What’s left?

Tortillas.  Buy good flour and corn ones at your local Mexican market.  Get fresh ones.  They make a huge difference.  Get 2 to 3 per person.  An hour before the party wrap them in packages of 10-15 with aluminum foil.  Wrap them TIGHTLY, and put them in a 250 degree oven to get and stay hot.  Remove and serve as needed.

Then, I suggest refried beans, queso, guacamole and fixin’s for the tacos/nachos.  Here’s how you do those…

Refried Beans

I confess that I have never made these from scratch . Why?  I don’t like them that much.  I’m NOT going to soak dried beans, boil them, then refry them, just to say I did it.  I either buy my refried beans from my favorite Mexican restaurant or I get canned ones.  I try to buy the canned ones from the Mexican market in town, and get an authentic Latin brand.  When I prepare the beans I empty the cans into a big pot, and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of salsa for every can of beans I use.

Use 1 15 ounce can of beans for every four to six people.

Queso

Queso is critical for good nachos, plus it makes a great munchy while people are waiting for you to serve the food.  My recipe for queso is very simple:  one pound of Velveeta, one can of Ro-tel diced tomatoes.  Melt in a crock pot to combine and stir.  It’s not the most authentic queso, but it works for a crowd and it’s easy.  Figure on one batch for every 6 to 8 people.

Guacamole

Guacamole MUST be made fresh, and it must be made properly.  You cannot buy this stuff in the grocery store and expect it to taste right.  My recipe for guacamole is here.   I would make it so that I used one avocado for every 3 to 4 guests.

Fixins

Everyone likes different things on their tacos.  Here’s the master list of what to provide:taco-bar

  • Sour cream
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced onions
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Cilantro
  • Minced jalapenos
  • Shredded Mexican cheese
  • Crumbled queso fresco
  • Sliced or chopped black olives

So there you have it…. how to set up your very own taco/nacho bar for a crowd.  Enjoy!

Holiday Party 2015: Your Thoughts?

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Dessert shooters. I wonder how hard it will be to make mine look like this?

Well, it’s time again.  Time for me to plan my holiday party for my office pals.  I love doing it.  I look forward to it all year long, but don’t really start the serious planning until November 1.   The evites have gone out already and now it’s time to think about menu items.

I wanted to just start fresh this year.   Every year I do certain “standard” items and this year I just refuse to do them.  So, take a look at my Pinterest board and see what you think. Keep in mind it’s a work in progress but as I am writing this I’ve tentatively decided on the following:

Rosemary Roasted Cashews for a unique munchable.

Fig and walnut cheese ball for something both sweet and savory.

1905 Salad for some delicious veggies (I usually do veggies and dip but this year I can’t stand the thought of doing that again).

Individual 7-layer dips with homemade chips and salsa.  I am ordering the cutest little 2 ounce disposable shot glasses for these!

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Deviled egg bar. How many cool toppings can I come up with for these?

A deviled egg bar, where people can build their own deviled eggs!  I will make a couple of fillings and put them in the eggs, these will be pretty bland and basic, then put out toppings–bacon, chives, capers, olives, cheeses, peppers, etc–that people can top them with.  I got the idea from a recent episode of “The Chew.” I thought it was kind of different, and unique, and best of all pretty cost-effective.  Eggs are super cheap compared to most proteins, and the amount of various toppings required will be miniscule.

Mini grilled cheese sandwiches.  Again, very cost effective and I can always fancy it up by adding some ham and calling it “mini croque monsieur.”

Finally, for dessert, I’m going to make some dessert shooters in those little disposable shot glasses (hey, I have to buy a case of 240, so I might as well use some of them).   I love key lime pie, I think it’s the best thing ever!  So one will be a no-bake key lime pie concoction, with layers of graham cracker and lime coulee.  The other will be something chocolate, and I’m thinking about going out of my comfort zone and doing maybe a chocolate mousse with a hint of chili in it.  Layer that with whipped cream and maybe some toffee bits?

What do you think?  Will you come to my party?

 

 

Y’all are Great / Random Thoughts

I have insomnia.  Here goes nothing….butthead

I have the best friends!  So many of you reached out to me after my last post to express concern and to try and give me a shot in the arm.  Thank you for all the love and support, it really helped.  I was just feeling sorry for myself and when that happens my heart and head always have to go down memory lane.

Speaking of memories, ‘ol U-turn boy called me yesterday.  He was drunk I think.  That was one reason I didn’t go out with him in the first place–I had a feeling he was always drunk, and I think my feeling was right.   I drink–but I am sober more hours of the day than I’m NOT sober.  This guy appears to be hammered all the time.  At least I hope he’s hammered–I’d hate to think that’s his natural demeanor and personality.

I did meet a friend-of-a-friend last weekend who I kind of liked.  We’ll call him David (because that’s his name).  He was funny and quick witted and very articulate.  Has a job, a car, and his own place to live.  Is well-liked and seems to be pretty together.   Not sure if I will see him again or not, but we were kind of flirty with one another.

For my age and height I’m carrying about 30 to 40 pounds too many.  I have tried to lose weight for years and nothing seems to work.  My doctor has put me on a new medicine approved for weight loss and she says it’s really helping people.  She expects it could knock 20 or 30 pounds off me, which would make me SO damned happy I am not sure what I’ll do if it really happens.  Probably run down the street naked?  Nah, too much hail damage to ever do that again.

(I’m joking, I’ve never done that.  As far as you know.)

I said something the other night, though, that kind of bothered me after the fact.  Was talking to my bestie, Kim, and I mentioned ol’ bartender boy.   I saw him last weekend, too.  I was very nonchalant and quite distant when he was around.  I’m not going to even think about flirting with that anymore–I’ve embarrassed myself enough.

Oh and by the way the woman he was seeing was out with someone else for Halloween.  Sucks to be him.   Shoulda’ taken me when he had the chance, he could have had a date for Halloween and not spent the evening with his mother, which is what he did.

But I childishly digress.

Anyway, what I said to Kim was this–“I’m gonna’ lose 20 or 30 pounds, and then he’s going to wish he’d have kept me.”

At 47 years of age am I still THAT insecure about my weight that I think someone does or doesn’t like me for it? I guess I just answered THAT question.  That bothers me.

Then Kim said, “Well I hope if he comes back then you don’t have anything to do with him.”

Excellent point!  I should completely blow him off if he suddenly decides I’m worthy of attention.  Butthead that he is.  Yeah.

Lots of travel coming up for work that will keep me busy and my mind off such things.  Before I know it, it’ll be Thanksgiving and that is one long weekend I am really looking forward to doing absolutely NOTHING for!   The next week is my holiday party and I have to start planning my menu for that.  I want do some completely different things this year.  Any suggestions?

Irreparable Damage

stayI am at my favorite little seaside town in NC.  I came down here last year for Halloween and loved it so much that I decided to make it  tradition.  I have medical appointments nearby so I did those yesterday, and then today is Halloween.  I’ve enjoyed a home cooked breakfast at the bed & breakfast I’m staying in and now I’m sitting on the balcony enjoying a nice fall breeze.

I’ve been awake since 2 a.m. with a migraine and goodness knows I’ve tried to get back to sleep, but nothing seems to be working.  I’ve gone back through my blog and reread some of my old posts…. in particular the one about my Really Broken Heart (it’s a three-parter and you might need tissues, it just depends on how sensitive you are to romantic tragedies).  I was reminded of the story because last night I ran into a gentleman I know who reminds me a great deal of my first love.  I walked back to the B&B alone from a night out, and  I cried along the way from the memories.  And, I cried again reading the story.

I had my annual checkup yesterday.  The doctor heard something in my heart–a murmur.  That’s a first.  So, I’m being sent for an echocardiogram as a precaution.  If they find anything wrong I’ll get to see a cardiologist.  The good news is I live in a town with a world class heart center.  The bad news is I may have a heart condition.   I hate to sound melodramatic but do I have a broken heart?  Yes, I do.  It feels like it’s never going to heal.

It is so depressing to think that I may never have that kind of connection with someone else.  Ever.  I hope I will, but it may just never happen. I have to be willing to face that fact.  It seems like every time I meet someone I think I could feel that way about, the feelings aren’t reciprocated.  I feel mighty hopeless these days.   I don’t mean to be a downer–I’m just in a pretty bleak spot.  Thanks for listening.

 

 

 

Pan Seared Steak–Oh This is a Good One!

OMG this one was to die for.  I gave my son about 2/3 of the meat since he’s a growing boy.  I warned him not to waste a bite of it, so he eventually got full and gave me two slices of the meat back.  I devoured them.  This is one recipe I will make again.

The Witch’s Tips for the Best Results

  • If you have some fresh thyme, strip the leaves off a few stems of it and toss with the potatoes and onions. Some chopped fresh rosemary or even parsley leaves (Italian parsley) would work.
  • Pull the meat out of the fridge an HOUR before time to cook.  Get it to room temperature to ensure a thoroughly even cooking temperature.
  • Have your pan absolutely smokin’ hot when you put in the meat.  You want that lovely sear on it.
  • Use a microplane if you have it to grate the garlic down to a wonderful paste.  This is preferable to chopping or mincing it.
  • Use Irish butter in place of regular butter in the pan sauce.  You won’t regret it!

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Butter-Basted Chicken with Caio e Pepe Mashed Potatoes and Thyme Roasted Carrots

I have to share this recipe with you!  It looked a little bland to me when I got it from Hello Fresh, but it ended up being one of the most delicious recipes I’ve ever tried.  Really great comfort food!

The biggest pointer I have for this is to cook the carrots for HALF the suggested time.  They will come out with a little “bite” to the texture.  I hate mushy vegetables and prefer them to have a little firmness to them.  My other suggestion is that you use Irish butter for this.  It really makes a difference in the flavor!   560aa82e79a23c30058b4567_Page_1

 

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I Made a U-Turn

1564472b3d8183322d8712f8d0ee78d1_400x400I met someone a couple of weeks ago.   We’ll call him Harry.  We’ve been texting back and forth, talking about getting together.  Seemed like a nice enough guy.  If nothing else, I would get out of the house and go have some fun with another adult.

So the big date was this afternoon.  He invited me to come watch a football game on tv.  I hate football, but I agreed to go anyway.  I went to the store today after working all morning and got the stuff to make ranch dip.  I thought it would be the polite thing to do to bring something to eat, and, I wanted to make sure I had something to munch on that I enjoyed.   I came home and made the dip.

As the time to depart approached I realized I wasn’t looking forward to going.   I almost called to cancel.  Then I thought, “No, give this a try.”  I finally got my stuff together, got in the car, and started down the road.

In the back of my mind I was dreading several things–the football, the awkwardness of trying to be on a date with someone I wasn’t really sure about, and, the concern that if we were drinking I wouldn’t be able to drive home and I’d need to stay there, which would ultimately lead him to think he could get some boo-tay and I knew that wasn’t happening.

I made it maybe a mile, and then I made a u-turn.  I came back home.  I called Harry and told him I couldn’t make it.  And I was relieved.

I think there was a bigger u-turn made today than just the one in my car.   I’ve been pretty comfortable in my own skin for awhile now, but I don’t think I’ve ever broken a date to be by myself.  I can’t decide if this is a good sign or if I’m losing it.  lol

Baby It’s Cold Outside… but Maybe Not?

Yesterday I booked a trip to Orlando for Christmas.  My son and I wanted to go somewhere tropical formickey-mouse-snowman-christmas-510x640 the holiday but all the resorts were outrageously expensive and I didn’t have $5 thousand lying around to burn.   So, I booked one of those time share deals–pay $250 for three nights, and in return I have to go through a time share presentation.  Ugh.

That was really our only option for the budget, because the resorts charge outrageous prices that time of year.  I guess it’s because they can–apparently we ain’t the only cats who avoid family at Christmas.

That sounds awful to say, but it’s true.  And I’ll tell you the history.

When I was 18 years old I leased apartments to work my way through school.  I would volunteer for the Christmas Eve shift every year just so I had a reason not to go to my parents’ house any earlier than I had to.  It wasn’t because of my parents, though.  It was because of a certain other person in our family who had to make a scene.  Every.  Single.  Year.  It was like Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were on their calendar marked, “Show My Ass in the Biggest Way Possible.”  The holiday was so miserable that I fantasized about growing up, moving away, and spending Christmas alone.   If it wasn’t arguing about something it was a crying fit about a dead dog.  It was always always always something.  Oh, and it happened at Thanksgiving, too.

I loved Christmas.  It was my favorite holiday of the year.  I lived for it, decorated, shopped, wrapped, baked….but then that person would have to make their scene each year and so it was often anticlimactic and disappointing.

I grew up, finished school, and moved away.  I came back for Christmas, and it still happened.  Once I had a child, though, I stopped traveling at Christmas.  As I told everyone, “Santa will come down our chimney for our son–you can be here with us if you like, but he’s not going to travel at Christmas.”  With that came a wonderful thing–peace at Christmas.  My son was the focus, and I did not go to see my parents and engage in the drama.  They would come and visit us, leaving the drama starter at home.

I got to decorate, shop, wrap, bake, etc.,. to my heart’s content, and I got to see Christmas through the wonder of a child’s eyes.  It was magical.  In 2009 we moved to North Carolina.  And we were close enough to my family that we were able to visit for Christmas.  We didn’t have much of a reason not to.

The first year, we went for Thanksgiving.  While we were there had an early small Christmas celebration.  I’ll give you three guesses what happened, and the first two don’t count.  Yep–the Scene Maker started with their antics.  But, there was one critical difference between this time and all the times before…

…I had to see the impact of it in my son’s eyes.  I had tolerated it all those years and was used to it, but he had never had a miserable or unpleasant or drama-filled holiday in his life. He was 12 at the time and caught in that odd space between being a child and a teenager, and the confusion and tension I saw on his face was just heartbreaking for me.

The next year, we visited the family for a short time just before Christmas.  And yes, it happened again.  The drama was something that my father was so used to he simply said, “You know ____ always has to show their ass.”  And that look on my son’s face?  There it was again.  I can’t begin to describe it accurately, but it was one of disturbance, pain, anxiety, confusion, and sheer fright.

It killed me to see that.  And at that moment I made up my mind:  there would never be another holiday with my family.  It was one thing when I had to take the abuse but it was a whole other can of worms when I had to see my son get hurt.

One of the most frustrating things about this whole situation is that my parents–my father in particular–is an enabler.  Come one, come all, even if you do act like an asshole.  Ruin our holiday and we’ll accept it as a normal occurrence.  If it were me I’d un-invite the offender until s/he could learn to behave.  But, that’s not how it works at Dysfunction Junction.

I see my parents several times a year.  I love them with all my heart.  But, I just cannot spend a holiday with them anymore.  This year we’ll travel through there on our way to Orlando and spend a night or two, and deliver a few gifts, but there will be no Christmas festivities with “the whole family.”  I just can’t do it.  On this Christmas Day I will be in the company of someone I love more than anything–my son.  I’ll be dancing with Mickey Mouse to the tune of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and avoiding drama at all costs.

I Wish I Didn’t

5O4T4ztLast weekend I went down to my favorite little seaside town for a weekend getaway.  Walked in the door of my favorite bar and my *very* favorite bartender (who I had a crush on) grabbed me hugged me and kissed me…. on the lips!  I was like, “Whoa!”  Shocked the hell out of me, because  I had heard he was dating someone.

Later that night I end up at at the local pub.  Lo and behold, there is bartender boy, off work and alone.  He keeps looking at me.  Making eye contact.  I KNOW he was because  I saw that shit myself!  So did my friend Kim, who I was with.  I finally got up the nerve to just have “the conversation” because I hate ambiguity.  So, I asked him to go outside and I just spelled it out.  “You know, I really thought we would go out again….I really liked you.”

What did I get back?

“I know you did.”

Then he proceeds to tell me that he’s seeing someone.  

They always say men are simple creatures (ie., feed ’em and fuck ’em and they’ll be happy).  Well, I’m a simple creature in my own way.  If you kiss me hello, and then keep looking at me all night, I’m going to conclude that you’re interested.  Apparently that’s not how it works with this one.  And then it got worse.

We wrapped up our conversation.  (I’ll confess I’m not really sure how it ended, between the vodka and the fact that I was mortified I have conveniently blocked it out of my mind.)   Went back inside the bar.  He proceeded to rub and hug all over another friend of mine who he is NOT dating.  Kim told me he never acts like that when I’m not around.   It was like he wanted me to see it and be jealous.  What the hell?

I know, I know what you’re thinking:  “He’s just an asshole.”  And therein lies the problem that troubles me now.  Do I have an asshole magnet somewhere in my body that just automatically leads me to these types?  If I’m attracted to someone does that automatically mean they’re an asshole?  Do I need to date people I’m NOT attracted to?  That seems like it would suck.

More importantly, how will I know an emotionally healthy nice guy when (if) one ever asks me out on a date?  This bartender is very well-respected and liked by everyone down there in that little town.  So what is it about me that brings out the asshole in him?  And why am I blaming myself for this????

The next day I decided to face my embarrassment head on.  Kim asked me if I wanted to go back to the bar, I said okay.  (At first, I said, “Hell no, are you crazy?” but then I decided to put my big girl panties on and deal with it.)   I found it very difficult to make eye contact with bartender guy.   But, I loosened up and decided, “Hey, I’m fabulous, and I don’t care what he thinks.”  I started having fun with Kim and my other friends over lunch and the night faded away into the distance.

Later on I was headed to the restroom and crossed paths with him head-on.  He asked me if I remembered the night before and our conversation.  All I could say was, “I wish I didn’t.”

Miss Me?

ccg116bHave you missed me?  Yeah, I know, life gets busy and you probably forgot about me, which I completely understand.  The reason I haven’t posted anything is because there’s been nothing really news worthy since I deleted my dating profiles.   I’m quietly wondering if I’m going to end up being an old maid, but I guess I’m not too worried about it.

I find that a sort of calm peace has settled over me since I made that decision.  I have no social life, but at least I’m not coming home after some awful date thinking, “There’s 3 hours of my life I can never get back.”  I’m not getting my arm raped by some touchy-feely weirdo who put up really really old pictures of himself on his profile.    I’m not getting my wallet picked by some guy who is 45 years old and thinks that I’m a money tree.  

I’m mostly focusing on work, and, getting a new business up and running.  I promised myself when I started this blog that the two things I would NOT write about were my job and my business.  So, all I’m going to say is all that those aspects of my life are going great and I’m happy, even though I’m also super busy.

I am still talking to one potential suitor who I started talking to just before I shut my profiles down.  His name is Allen and I’m just not sure if we’re compatible or not.  We’ve met once in person and he’s attractive, witty, and rather sexy to boot.  But, some comments he made during a recent conversation rather troubled me.  I’m not sure if I took what he said the wrong way or if he was showing a rather prejudiced side towards gay people.  I am giving him the benefit of the doubt for now but I really want to explore that fairly soon because I’m not going to date anyone who has issues with my gay brothers and sisters.  He also keeps referencing church and we all know how much that subject doesn’t really work for me.   I am not trying to be super picky, I’m just simply trying to determine if we have enough in common to go forward.  A gay-bashing Bible thumper is just not my cup of tea, and I’m still not sure if that’s what I’m dealing with.  I will report back to you when I know more.

Meanwhile, I hope everyone has a simply magical day!