Saturday, December 31, 2011

Auld Lang Syne

The end of the year is the perfect time to take stock, to reflect, to resolve, to aspire, to hope. And for the last day or two, it's been a great time to remember all that has gone wrong.  It is so easy to pinpoint every disaster, every disappointment, and every letdown and to promise to never have them happen again (at least not for the next year). In general, 2011 was not a red-letter year (and neither was 2010).

But then, I reconsidered the year. While everything wasn't perfect, it was actually pretty great. I rang in 2011 in New Orleans. 2011 was the year I celebrated St. Patrick's Day in Savannah. It was the year I graduated from law school and the year B started kindergarten. It was the year B learned to ride a bike and lost his first tooth. It was the year I left Montgomery. It was the year Baby C was born and one of my oldest friends became a mother. It was the year several friends got engaged and a few got married. It was the year I finally got a sewing machine. It was the year I got Liza Jane. It was the year B told me that even before he was born, he knew I was his Mom . It was the year Auburn won the National Championship and B declared his love for the Geogia Bulldogs. And it was the year I found my first gray hair and went back blonde. In it's own way, it was a great year.

It was a painful reminder that time does, in fact, march on. It was a constant reminder that sometimes life really isn't fair. It was a sweet reminder that hearing your child say "I love you," can get through the hardest days. Looking back on it, I am reminded that things aren't always as they seem.

Looking forward, I am excited. 2012 has such potential. Such madding and unending potental. I have so many resolutions, so many ideas, dreams, plans, hopes. Here goes nothing.

Happy New Year, y'all!

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth that you are weeping for that which has been your delight. -Khalil Gibran

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Movie-A-Palooza*

*I use the label "Christmas movie" quite loosely.

It was brought to my attention last year that my definition of "Christmas movie" may be slightly off. While I, like every sane person everywhere, enjoy A Christmas Story and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, these are not the movies I want to watch on a loop during the holiday season. For my money, I want something happy and sweet and sentimental. I do not want to shoot my eye out.

First and foremost, my Christmas Eve must-have: It's a Wonderful Life

This one is an obvious pick. But it's so wonderful. George Bailey, I really will love you until the day I die.

Next: Love Actually

Since this movie is set at Christmas, a lot of people put it on their short list of favorite Christmas movies. Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, and Alan Rickman? Merry Christmas to me. Plus, isn't it nice to be reminded that love really is all around?

Here is where I go off the rails a touch: The Wizard of Oz

This I blame on TBS. I couple of years ago, they started playing The Wizard of Oz with limited commercial interruptions at least 4 times during the holiday season. Now, Christmas isn't complete until the wind begins to switch, the house to pitch, and of course, the hinges start to unhitch. I have loved this movie my whole life and have thankful passed my love of it on to Beckett. 

Tin Woodsman: What have you learned, Dorothy?
Dorothy: Well, I - I think that it - it wasn't enough just to want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em - and it's that - if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with. Is that right?

Plus, who wouldn't want to live in a world where you get up at 12 and go to work at 1, take and hour for lunch and then at 2 you're done? Jolly good fun!

Fourth, there's this: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Growing up, anything Roald Dahl became an immediate favorite of mine. The 1971 version (not the remake, although I can appreciate it in it's own right. Lord knows I love Johnny Depp) with Gene Wilder is not just a movie I must watch at Christmas, it's one of my favorites in general. It is also one of 2 movies that I will drop everything to watch when I catch it on television (Steel Magnolias being the other).

This makes the list for one simple reason: there is no place I know like the world of pure imagination. There are a million things to think about at Christmas, but I think I like this movie for purely selfish reasons. At Christmas, there is almost enough joy and happy and giddy anticipation to make anyone think they, too, can be the boy (or girl) who got everything they ever wanted and live happily ever after.  Plus, Gene Wilder is just eerie and eccentric enough to be thoroghly thrilling in the most intriguing of ways.

And lastly, the most traditional Christmas tradition of them all: The Nutcracker Ballet

Trying to choose one image for The Nutcracker Ballet is truly impossible. I'll go with this one:

Ovation has been presenting the Battle of the Nutcrackers this week. I'll consider this an early Christmas present to me.

I'll get sucked into watching a million Christmas movies this season, but those are the ones that I have to watch.  No Christmas would be complete without watching each of these movies at least once. What are your favorite Christmas movies? And if you say Elf, we probably won't be friends anymore.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Blog Name

Well, I did it. I finally figured out a name for the blog. Welcome to "My Little House of Ill Repute." The decision has been made.

Years ago, Hillary Ryan, introduced me to Sandra Cisneros. She told me these poems would set me free. For this, I am eternally grateful.

They say I'm a beast.
And feast on it.  When all along
I thought that's what a woman was.

They say I'm a bitch.
Or witch. I've claimed
the same and never winced.

They say I'm a macha, hell on wheels,
viva-la-vulva, fire and brimstone,
man-hating, devastating,
boogey-woman lesbian.
Not necessarily,
but I like the compliment.

The mob arrives with stones and sticks
to maim and lame and do me in.
All the same, when I open my mouth,
they wobble like gin.

Diamonds and pearls
tumble from my tongue.
Or toads and serpents.
Depending on the mood I'm in.

I like the itch I provoke.
The rustle of rumor
like crinoline.

I am the woman of myth and bullshit.
(True. I authored some of it.)
I built my little house of ill repute.
Brick by brick. Labored,
loved and masoned it.

I live like so.
Heart as sail, ballast, rudder, bow.
Rowdy. Indulgent to excess.
My sin and my success --
I think of me to gluttony.

By all accounts I am
a danger to society.
I'm Pancha Villa.

I break laws,
upset the natural order,
anguish the Pope and make fathers cry.
I am beyond the jaw of law.
I'm la desperada, most-wanted public enemy.
My happy picture grinning from the wall.

I strike terror among men.
I can't be bothered what they think.
Que se vayan a la ching chang chong
For this, the cross, the Calvary.
In other words, I'm anarchy.

I'm an aim-well,
loose woman.
Beware, honey.

I'm Bitch. Beast. Macha.
Ping! Ping! Ping!
I break things.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pizza Party

Since Georgia was playing in the SEC Championship on Saturday, we decided to celebrate by making pizza. The game might not have turned out the way we had hoped (congrats, LSU), but the pizza was a total success.

Pizza Dough

3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons oil
2 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon bread machine yeast

Combine ingredients and put in bread maker. If you don't have a bread maker, stop what you are doing and go buy one. It will not disappoint.

We made 3 batches of dough for various pizzas and by the time we were on the last one, Brandi had memorized the recipe.  According to her, this couldn't be easier.

Remove the dough from the bread maker and place on a floured pan. Knead for 1 minute. Then, let it rest for 15 minutes.  Roll out the dough. Place on a pan that has been greased and sprinkled with corn meal. Then, let it rise for 20 minutes. After you add the sauce and toppings, bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes.

Pizza Sauce

I took care of the sauce. We looked up a recipe, but I just poured a bunch of stuff in a pot and it turned out delicious. The measurements provided are rough estimates.

1 clove garlic, mashed and minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 can tomato paste (well, this isn't an estimation)
1 can tomato sauce (I used 2 cans whole tomatoes and 2 cans of diced tomatoes instead)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon olive oil (I definitely used more than this)
dash of red pepper (and more of this, too)

I also added Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt (a dash or so)

Simply combine the ingredients and simmer. I ran our sauce through the food processor because I had used whole and diced tomatoes, not a tomato sauce.

For a while, we didn't think it would be thick enough. But let it simmer for a while and it will have the right consistency.

We made two pizzas for dinner.

Black olives, pepperoni, and mushrooms

Fresh mozzarella

 We also made garlic cheese bread.

Garlic Butter

Butter, softened
Garlic, mashed and minced
Italian Seasoning
Parmesan cheese

This is really simple. Just mix all the ingredients together.  Spread on the pizza dough and cover with mozzarella cheese. Cook on 425 for 20-25 minutes. We used the pizza sauce as a dipping sauce. The result was delicious.

We also made a dessert pizza (see, we got a little pizza happy).

Dessert Pizza

Nutella (a gift from God)
Semi sweet chocolate chips
White chocolate chips
Almonds (or other nut you find appealing)

As you can see, we started chowing down before I could get a picture. It was really good.

You can use whatever sweet things you enjoy. We like these things and they were delicious on the pizza dough.

So, even though Georgia lost (curses!), the day was not a total let down.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bottle It Up: A DIY for the DIY Impaired

We have gone little craft-crazy this holiday season. The first thing we created? Silver bottles for the entry way. This project was really easy, but it did take a moment of trial and error.

What You Need:

Epsom Salt (We used Dr. Teal's Cooling Peppermint -- our bottles smell amazing!)
Silver spray paint

Yep, that's all.

Side Note: Glitter is more expensive that I remember it being when I was 9.  This could be because I don't actually know how much it was when I was 9.

Put your newspaper down. Now, we mixed the glitter and the Epsom salt on the newspaper like so:

We sprayed the bottles completely silver and then rolled the bottom of the bottles in the glitter and salt mixture. This is what happened:

I don't know if you can tell (or maybe that's the wrong picture), but we didn't think things through. Our patio is concrete (or "concreek" according to B). Rolling a spray painted glass bottle over the concrete only scratches the paint off the bottle.  So what could have been a one-person project quickly devolved into a two-person laugh riot.

Basically, one person sprayed the bottle and the tilted it back (so as not the scratch the paint) and rotated it. Meanwhile, the other person threw the salt and glitter mixture gingerly upon the bottle as it was being rotated. Hilarity ensured when the person spray painting (me) paid no attention the the direction the spray nozzle was pointing and continually painted everything save the bottle.

But, we were ultimately successful. See:

The picture doesn't really do them justice. All in all, the project took about 20 minutes (half of which was us realizing concrete is not the ideal surface upon which to craft, followed by a good 2 minutes of laughing).

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The 25 Most Exciting Days of the Year

December 1st is here. December, y'all! The years keep moving faster and faster and I just can't seem to keep up. Or get used to that fact. So, we're officially in the Christmas season -- the most wonderful time of the year. Crafting and cooking only get better and accomplished more often in this short season. Could a blog-a-day be upon us? Probably not. But Lord knows I have enough projects going to try.

B has made is Christmas wish-list. It is as follows:

(1) Any Wii game. Any game except Wii Sports "because it's the only one I have, Mom, and I need another one."
(2) "A smaller rug, just like this one, that I can put next to it so I have a bigger rug." B has a rug with streets and whatnot on it so he can play with his cars. He feels he needs more roadway.
(3) A bigger Whack-A-Mole game.

Basically, things he already has, just on a grander scale. That's it. Until I pressed him further. Then, he wanted everything he saw on TV. Sounds about right.

I am getting ready for the holidays by listening to Christmas music (I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, Donde Esta Santa Claus?, and Elvis' Blue Christmas being my favorites) and watching Christmas movies (It's a Wonderful Life, Love Actually, and The Wizard of Oz. I have a somewhat odd definition of "Christmas movie").

This will be B's 5th Christmas. Here's a picture from his first:

Guilty Christmas baby ripped the present's wrapping as a sign of protest at having his picture taken 7 million times.
 Merry Christmas, everyone!

Cranberry Lime Vodka

Well, I'm making fruit-infused vodka. I mean, why not? I found the recipe on Pintrest (where else?). It comes from Fancy Napkin.  Not that anyone who ever attended a fraternity party needs a recipe. This girl also makes a Sour Cherry Vodka, so I'm excited to try all different kinds of fruit variations.

This couldn't be easier, but it could be a little less time consuming.

What You Need

Cranberries (enough to fill whatever size jar you're using to make your vodka; I used 3)
Lime Rinds

You have to start by poking a hole in each of the cranberries. If this sounds daunting (particularly if you're making a lot of vodka), that's because it is. Sort of. It took me about 30 minutes to poke holes per 12 oz. bag. I watched Friends (The One With the Rumor, specifically) while I poked my holes. I took a lunch break, too. I mean, it took an hour and a half. A break was much needed.

I layered one bag of cranberries and then the rind of one lime and so on and so forth until the jar was full.

Then, cover the fruit with vodka and add sugar. I added about 2 spoonfuls of sugar, just to cut the bitterness of the cranberries. Then set the jar aside so the vodka can steep -- for 2 weeks to 2 months. Make sure you shake the jar every day or two, just to make sure that the sugar mixes in well.

This would make a great Christmas gift. If you get this from me at some point, it means I like you a lot.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nerd Alert

I recently acquired three bookshelves, bringing the total number of bookshelves in my room to six.  I wasn't 100% sure I had enough books to fill all 3, but, much to my delight, I do.  I can't properly explain how much I love reading. A friend told me once that reading fiction was ridiculous (he prefered non-fiction). I almost died.  I don't know how to tell someone what fiction, poetry, hell, the dictionary, means to me.  Everyone I come into contact with should be on high nerd alert.

I had a birthday about a week ago. In two (very) short years, I will be 30. I am by no means a wise person, I don't learn lessons easily, I make mistakes in spades, and I don't know half of what I hope to one day, but I do know this: At 28 years old, I am a nerd. And I also know that I am absolutely comfortable with that fact.

There is no telling what B will remember about me or his childhood in 23 years (when he is 28). I often think about my childhood and my parents and what I remember about those days. And I don't mean the big memories -- the birthdays, the Christmas mornings, the school programs. I mean the little things. The small details that really matter.  I mean those random memories that creep up when you least expect them. The memories you didn't even know you had.  The memories that are triggered by a smell, or a song, or the way someone pronounces a word.

I remember how excited Taylor and I were when it snowed in Dothan that one year. I remember how my Dad's excitement matched our own (and how funny we all thought it was when Bailey, our dog, peed in the snow). I remember my Mom patiently placing all of my long blonde hair in pink sponge rollers at night and how she would let me then tangle play with her hair. I remember how my Mom and I made fun of the way my Dad said "milk." And how they made fun of the way I said "magenta" (I was eight. How was I supposed to know it wasn't "mag-neta?"). I remember how my Mom settled the WWIII caliber "Who Rides in the Front Seat" argument of 1992 (One of us got odd days, the other even). I remember (and still have) every note of encourgement, love, and even the occasional note of disappointment (I still have those, too). I remember my parent's reaction the day Taylor smashed my pinky finger in the trampoline spring and then again on the day I hit him in the back of the head with a golf club. I remember the way my Mom smelled back then. To this day, a Garth Brooks song reminds me of my Dad. I remember Taylor playing football with himself in the front yard.  I remember a million little details. 

But most of all, I remember reading. I remember huddling under covers and in closets, finding a little space of my own in this big world.  I remember solving mysteries with Nancy Drew. I remember sobbing uncontrollably when Kirsten's best friend died on the ship during their voyage to America. I remember when my friends and I tried to create a Babysitter's Club. I remember when my aunt gave me The Secret Garden and how mad I was that I didn't have a secret garden of my own. I remember when I thought high school would be just like Sweet Valley High. I remember Arthur Cluck and Amelia Bedelia and Sarah, Plain and Tall. And I remember that my Mom loved to read. She and I both read multiple (and by "multiple," I mean at least five) books at a time. We surround ourselves with stacks of books and pencils. In this way, we are identical. In 23 years, my go-to memory of my Mom will still be that she has always loved to read.

I can only hope Beckett remembers the same thing about me.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mismatched Furniture Fix-Up

Like every single girl who has been a student for the better part of her life and has moved frequently over the years, I own a whole mess of mismatched furniture. So, about a month ago, I decided it might be time to try and make some of it match. Actually, I started this years ago. Basically, instead of having merely mismatched furniture, I have furniture that is painted two diferent colors. Exhibit A:

This is a bookshelf my Dad built for me while I was in college. Because it was made for a dorm room, it's pretty simple, but because I am a sentimental sap, I ca't bear to part with it. Plus, I have a bunch of books that need a home. As you can see, it's got some amazing quotes on the shelves (namely, one from a DMB song.....ah, college). As you can also see, the outside white and the inside is black. Looks great.

A couple of years ago, I decided to try to make this look a little better. B was about 3 or so, and I (wisely) let him help. Exhibit B is the result.:

Yup. B helped. And since I gave up on the project shortly afer I realized B could open a paint can on his own, the shelf retained this glorious exterior. And then, my sentimental side took over for a minute. I mean, B did this. So, I took a picture and moved on. But this is not the only problem with the bookshelf. There's Exhibit C:

This bookshelf saw me through three years of undergrad, one newborn baby, and three years of law school. The coffee rings were inevitable.  And finally, Exhibit D:

This picture best illustrates why one shouldn't give up on projects when they are only half finished. B had opened the paint can, spilled paint, and tried to paint the shelf. The spilled paint dried around the can and I just let it.  Later, when the paint can was moved, it left this amazing paint ring. 

Basically, this bookshelf has been begging me to fix it for years. I started painting it (comletely) black about a month ago. And then abandoned it again. Poor little bookshelf. It does, however, look infinitely better now. I am painting a design on the side that wound up taking me a lot longer than I anticipated. I had to abandon the bookshelf for the second time because I just couldn't deal with all the books being on the floor. I haven't taken a picture of the bookshelf's progress yet, but when I do, I'll post it here.

I must again admit that my Pinterest obsession is bordering on unhealthy. But, in light of my need to fix my bookshelf, I think this may be my next project:


Friday, October 14, 2011

(What) To Be or Not To Be? That is the Question.

I just logged onto Facebook and the first status I saw was that of Danielle, wondering what she should be for Halloween. Danielle, I find myself in a similar dilemma. It's going to be a budget Halloween, for sure. But I have a lot of crazy in my closet, so surely I can come up with something. For example, we have a variety of "hair hats" (thank you, Paige Evatt, for that delightful way to refer to wigs).

We have this hair hat:

Which doesn't help much because:  (1) I am blonde (again) and (2) I can get my hair just as big as the wig (on a related note, there is an amazing t-shirt idea in there somewhere). So, we'll move on to this one:

Last year, I was Cher. So I am now the proud owner of this wig. I feel sure it can be recycled, though.

Now, the piece de resistance:

The real dream is to find a use for this wig. I mean, this is the dream. But I am currently at a loss for ideas. So any suggestions are welcome.

While I was writing this blog, Brandi and I had this conversation. I found it oddly fitting.

Brandi: She is a crazy hippie.
Me: Dude, that sucks. I love a pseudo-hippie, but the full-out hippie? Go away.
Brandi: Yeah, she has a purple stone tied tightly on a choker, like a witch.
Me: Nice.
Brandi: A million earrings. A ring on every finger and hair to her butt that's in a ponytail.
Me: Oh, so me the day I finally lose my shit?
Brandi: Lol, no. You will never wear clogs.

So, maybe I should be a hippie? But probably not. I'm not even wearing clogs for the sake of a costume. They are that awful.

So, you can see I have a major problem on my hands.

I found this on Pintrest today. I find it hilarious, but other people seemed to be offended by it. I guess they thought there are people out there who are legitimately in favor of teaching kids to accept drugs from strangers. It's a joke, people. Kids should only accept drugs from people they know. This is why I am a good mom.

Much Like the Honey Badger, Crazy Cat Lady Don't Give a Damn

To begin, I must admit that this post will make almost no sense whatsoever. Much like my train of thought.

This video cracks me up. I can't exactly watch it (it truly grosses me out at points), but listening to it gets me rolling every time. Speaking of things that crack me up, there's always this:

I spent all day yesterday destroying a 10 year old pair of capri pants. I'm not sure what's more disturbing: that it took me all day to destroy them (I get easily side-tracked) or that I still had pants from 10 years ago? And also, I have no idea what I think I'm trying to make out of them. I just know that they no longer need to be capri pants. Pictures to follow. Unless, of course, I just make a huge mess (which is the most likely outcome).

And now for something completely unrelated to the above.

Anyone who knows me knows that I live by this simple motto: The bigger the hair, the closer to God. And as such, am in great need of this shirt:

My birthday is in 18 days, so you can find this for me here.  I have been using Aqua Net like it is my job lately.  And this causes some serious tangles. My mission is to figure out how to use my beloved Aqua Net without getting a crazy bird nest on the back of my head by the end of the day. I feel certain Google will be able to help me out. If not, I'll just channel Truvy. Surely, she will have some insight.

When I started this post yesterday (and by "start," I mean, posted the Honey Badger video), I had a lot of things to write about. Did I write any of them down for reference later? Um, no. Wait. The cat.

It's official. I am a crazy cat lady. And I am surprisingly okay with this. It occurred to me yesterday when I was taking a shower. Why the shower? Yeah, that's because Liza Jane sits on the edge of the tub, peeks around the shower curtain, and just watches me shower. So that, coupled with the fact that I am now blogging about it, makes me a crazy cat lady. I've decided to embrace it.  In that spirit, here's something that reminds me of my previous cat (who ran away shortly after B was born), Steven J. Stickers, Esq. (Yes, that was his full name, but those close to him called him simply Steve Stickers):

I think maybe I'll bring the rambling to a close now. Back to destroying old clothes, using Aqua Net, and talking to my cat.

Update: I was just sitting on my back porch and had a stroke of genuis. I think I'm going to have to call my blog The Pigloo. It seems such a waste to have that awesome picture and do nothing with it. Plus, this blog makes no sense and I think "The Pigloo" really captures that perfectly. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

National Poetry Day

Today, October 6, is the first Thursday in October, or National Poetry Day. In honor of the day, here are some of my favorites:

The first time that the sun rose on thine oath
To love me, I looked forward to the moon
To slacken all those bonds which seemed too soon
And quickly tied to make a lasting troth.
Quick-loving hearts, I thought, may quickly loathe;
And, looking on myself, I seemed not one
For such man's love! - more like an out-of-tune
Worn viol, a good singer would be wroth
To spoil his song with, and which, snatched in haste,
Is laid down at the first ill-sounding note.
I did not wrong myself so, but I placed
A wrong on thee. For perfect strains may float
'Neath master-hands, from instruments defaced -
And great souls, at one stroke, may do and dote.
                  -Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet XXXII, 
                   from Sonnets for the Portuguese

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message: "He is Dead."
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now, put out everyone.
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
                        -W.H. Auden, Funeral Blues

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes the darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.
                  -David Whyte, Sweet Darkness, from House of Belonging

October is the perfect month for National Poetry Day. The back porch, a cup of coffee, a great poem, and gorgeous October weather go a long way to healing the soul.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

National Coffee Day

Or, as it is known by me, the high holy day. Anyone who knows me, knows that I do not function well without coffee in the mornings. I will pretty much drink it however it is given to me. When I make it at home, all I need is creamer. No sugar for me. And just plain creamer, none of the flavored sweet stuff.  Generally, I like it hot (that's what she said. Sorry, I couldn't resist). But I decided it might be time to try something different.

Thus, my foray into the world of Homemade Iced Coffee. I found two recipes (one from the Pioneer Woman and one from Smitten Kitchen). They're pretty similar and not too complicated. I followed the one from Smitten Kitchen because it was simpler. Of course, I found them because of the beauty that is Pinterest.

Both recommend cold brewing the coffee, rather than brewing coffee like usual and then placing it in the refrigerator to cool. This is what I did.

from Smitten Kitchen (I really want to call this site Smitten Kitten).

Cold-Brewed Ice Coffee
From The New York Times (via Smitten Kitchen)

Yield: Two drinks

1/3 cup ground coffee (medium-coarse grind is best)
Milk (optional)

1. In a jar, stir together coffee and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours.
2. Strain twice through a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. In a tall glass filled with ice, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. If desired, add milk.

I tripled this recipe, so 1 cup of ground coffee and 4 1/2 cups of water (right? I don't do math. It worked, though, so I guess I was right. Take that, fraction addition).  I used pretty cheap coffee (see above, I will drink whatever is available) and it tasted fine to me, but use whatever coffee you like.  As far as straining goes, I placed a paper towel in our fine mesh sieve (because the mesh just isn't quite fine enough. I do, however, like that calling it a "fine mesh sieve" makes it sound super fancy). It helps to take a wooden spoon to the coffee grounds, just press gently (be careful not to rip the paper towel) and squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can.

After you've separated the coffee grounds out, you might want to refrigerate the cold brewed coffee. Or not. Maybe you want your caffeine NOW. Maybe I know exactly how you feel. 

After you've decided whether or not to be patient, grab a glass. Fill it with ice cubes. Then, fill half way (or more, depending on your desired coffee to milk ratio). Fill the remainder of the glass with milk (or half and half, whatever floats your boat). 

One of those recipes (I think the Pioneer Woman) suggests adding sugar or making a simple sugar with a flavoring, like vanilla. So, I did. But I made it with peppermint extract.  

Simple (really) Sugar
-1 part sugar
-1 part water
-peppermint extract to taste (or vanilla or whatever else your little heart desires)

Bring to a boil, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.

Seriously simple.

This is what I added to my iced coffee this morning. It takes about 3 minutes to make. But, the peppermint sugar tastes bitter in the coffee unless you let it sit for a bit. I took my drink back to my room, played on the internet, blogged about mexican pizza, and then took a sip of my iced coffee. It was ten times better. Maybe the vanilla wouldn't be like that. Peppermint, why you gotta be like that? But the upside is that the coffee was cold when I added it to the drink, so the ice didn't melt and water the drink down while I was doing other things. 

Now, if only I was drinking my coffee out of these:

Mexican Pizza (a la Taco Bell)

I think I have documented my love for Pinterest. If you don't have an account, you are truly missing out on an amazing time suck. But I justify the time I spend playing on the site with the fact that I actually try a lot of the things I find there.

Case in point: last night's dinner. We had already settled on Taco Night. But, while playing on Pinterest, I found this:

Mexican Pizza. Now, how did we never think of this? It's slightly infuriating.  I mean, we eat Taco Bell mexican pizzas like it's our job. Our pizza wound up being slightly different than the one at Honey, What's Cooking?, but it was delicious nonetheless.

-Tortillas (2 per pizza)
-Canola Oil (very small amount; just enough to cover both sides of tortilla)
-Water (1/4 cup)
-Onion (small)
-Refried  Beans (whichever brand you like; 1 pound can)
-Scallions, Tomatoes, Black Olives (whatever you like)
-Ground Beef (1/2 pound)
-Taco Seasoning (again, whichever brand you like)
-Mexican Cheese Blend (enough to cover pizzas)
-Salsa (whichever one you like)
-Sour Cream (optional)

(1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
(2) Lightly brush both sides of 2 tortillas with canola oil.
(3) Place on foil lined tray and put in oven for 10 minutes -- 5 minutes on each side. If you have room, you can cook more than 2 at a time, but we don't, so we didn't. Also, I would highly suggest setting a timer. Five minutes is pretty fast when you're trying to do 10 things in the kitchen.
(4) While the tortillas are cooking, heat up the beans. Empty can into pot with 1/4 cup of water and cook over low heat. The water makes the beans (a) easier to cook; (b) creamier; and (c) easier to spread on the tortilla. Just do it.
(5) Chop the onion. If everyone you are feeding likes onions, then put them in the beans. If not (like our house), just leave them on the side.
(6) Chop whatever other vegetables you want (scallions, tomatoes, black olives, etc.).
(7) Cook ground beef and follow directions of taco seasoning packet. The other recipe wants you to add the seasoning to the beans, but that recipe is meat-free. We just added the taco seasoning to the meat and that added enough flavor.
(8) Take tortillas out of oven, but do not turn oven off. They will be really crispy. Ours managed to get a bunch of bubbles in them, so I just poked the bubbles with a fork and that flattened them back out.
(9) Spread the beans on one of the tortillas. Put some ground beef on top of that. The other recipe says to put a thin layer of salsa on top of the beans, but I opted not to do this.

(10) Then, place the second tortilla on top. Spread salsa in a thin layer and then cover with vegetables (onions, scallions, tomatoes, olives) and cheese.  See:

(11)  Place back in the oven. The other recipe said to cook for 12 minutes, but I found that the tortilla started to burn after about 5 minutes. Just watch it and try to leave the pizza in long enough to melt the cheese, but take it out before it burns (obviously).

We added Taco Bell mild sauce, sour cream, and guacamole and then enjoyed. A lot.

Just as an added tip, if you want to put salsa on your pizza, I would suggest making it. Most store-bought salsas are too chunky for my liking and about a year ago, Brandi and I decided to try to make salsa that had a consistency closer to that of restaurant salsa. Mission overwhelmingly accomplished. And it couldn't be easier.

Concord Foods Salsa Seasoning Mix (in whatever kind you like - both the mild and hot are good). All you do is add 2 cans of diced tomatoes (do yourself a favor and make sure you don't use the ones with basil or garlic or anything else Italian in it. You'll wind up with salsa that tastes like spaghetti sauce). The recipe calls for an onion, but we use scallions. Dump all of this in the food processor and blend. But pay attention and don't liquefy (another mistake we made that I hope you avoid). Delicious. And it lasts for a while, too.

The moral of this recipe? Pinterest makes me seem like the kind of person who comes up with mexican pizza recipes.

This recipe just illustrates this sentiment beautifully:

Monday, September 26, 2011

(Veggie) Dinner for One

Dinner was a free-for-all tonight. I settled on roasted okra, potatoes, and mushrooms. We are low on olive oil (what  I usually use to roast vegetables), so I turned to Italian dressing to do the job. Now, I'm really not a fan on Italian dressing, but Ken's Northern Italian with Basil and Romano dressing is pretty amazing.

I tossed the potatoes, okra, and mushrooms in the dressing, then salted and peppered them. Then, pop in the oven for 25-30 minutes at 395. Voila! If I had the desire, I might have cooked a piece of chicken to go with this, but man, that seemed like a lot of work for one person.  I would post a picture, but it's vegetables on a pan. I think you can conjure up a mental picture of that.

How Now, You Secret, Black, and Midnight Hags? What Is't You Do?

       How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags?
       What is't you do?
                                   A deed without a name.

Okay, this is the third post I have written in the last week. You'll notice I haven't published the other two. I just couldn't quite get them finished. Much like this art project.  Fall is my favorite time of the year. Maybe it's because the fall brings Halloween, my birthday, and Thanksgiving. Maybe it's because fall brings a much needed reprieve from the sweltering summer sun.  Plus, school starts back in the fall and the nerd in me just loves school.

When I decided to make a couple of Halloween crafts, it should really come as no surprise that the first one I made was inspired by Shakespeare.


It's a 16 x 20 canvas and watching me paint it was, I'm sure, hilarious. I didn't really know exactly how big each of the words needed to be, nor did I know what the exact placement of them should be. This resulted in painting over multiple words in black and repainting them multiple times. At least it offered me some time to practice my curse words.

I've got some orange grosgrain ribbon that I'm going to add to the canvas, I'm just not sure exactly how yet. I'll post (better) pictures of the final project when I figure all of this out. In the meantime, I'm moving on the other projects.

         Thrice the brinded cat hath mewed.
         Thrice, and once the hedgepig whined.
         Harpier cries. 'Tis time, 'tis time!
          Round about the cauldron go;
          In the poisoned entrails throw.
          Toad, that under cold stone
          Days and nights has thirty-one
          Sweltered venom sleeping got,
          Boil thou first i'th' charmed pot.
ALL: [as they dance round the cauldron]
          Double, double, toil and trouble;
          Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
          Fillet of a fenny snake,
          In the cauldron boil and bake;
          Eye of newt and toe of frog,
          Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
          Adder's fork and blindwoman's sting,
          Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,
          For a charm of powerful trouble,
          Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
          Double, double, toil and trouble;
          Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
                        -W. Shakespeare, Macbeth, IV.i.1-21

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Couldn't Forget, Not Even If I Tried

This week, like everyone else who remembers 9/11, I had multiple conversations about where I was that day, what I remember about it, and what I think that day meant in the context of my life and the lives of everyone else. Ten years is a long time. Ten years goes by in the blink of an eye.

When you're 17 years old, you think you understand the way the world works. You boldly purport to know who you are, where you are from, and how these things fit into the world around you. At 17, you're old enough to be aware, but far too young to understand.

The morning of September 11, 2001, began no differently than any other day before it.  I was a senior in high school and I had a meeting before school about Junior Miss.  I was wearing an empire-waisted white dress with blue flowers and a white cardigan. I got up, got dressed, and went to school, just like every other day. Little did we all know, today was going to change everything.  Initially, I thought it was a joke.  While walking from the meeting to homeroom, Andrew McNamara had stopped me outside to tell me the news. We both joked that it must be some moron who couldn't fly.  Thirty seconds later, as I watched the second plane hit,  it would become stunningly clear that this was no joke.

My world, the one I inhabited, was undisturbed. No one I knew was suddenly gone. No buildings I frequented had been attacked. The skyline in my hometown remained the same. I had never flown prior to 9/11, so not even that changed for me. Outwardly, everything in my world was the same. But something was very different. It's nearly impossible to put into words.  I remember going from class to class that day, watching the coverage. This continued for a few days, until one day when everything went back to normal.

This sounds silly, but 9/11 was the first time I can really remember being truly proud to be an American. It was also the first time I realized that the world might be a dangerous place. The idyllic world of my childhood had been shattered in a matter of minutes. But I think we are all better for the experience.

Ten years later and this thought crosses my mind: One day, Beckett may very well ask me where I was on 9/11. That day is my generation's Pearl Harbor, Kennedy assassination, moon landing, Challenger explosion.  Ten years later and it's still hard to process exactly what happened, exactly what was lost, and exactly what has changed. To just say "everything" doesn't seem like enough.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Football + Crafts = Bliss.

Well, kids, it's that time of year again. The most wonderful time of the year, as a matter of fact. Football season. And at our house, we are READY. We are divided in our allegiances, but unified in our love of all things football (and craft) related.  See:

So ready. More on this later.

As predicted, my bathroom did not get cleaned on Monday. It did, however, get cleaned today. Liza Jane just doesn't understand why none of her blankets (towels) were around for her to sleep on. And she was pissed that the trashcan isn't there for her to sleep on (it's in the closet so she can't dump out all the contents). It's clean. Finally.

Actually, the whole house is clean. Today, I cleaned everything. I ironed slip covers and curtains. I threw away expired coupons and washed 3 loads of clothes. Sometimes, I really feel like an actual adult.

Until next time...War Eagle!
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