Monday, April 30, 2012

Stolen Daily Affirmation

Lifted entirely from Blurbomat, but it's something I've been contemplating myself lately:

Daily affirmation:
All that stuff you thought was cheesy crap? It works.

Incidentally, that doesn't change the fact that I'm entirely too invested on what's going on with his other half which is documented here and here.

Why?  I have no idea.  I've come up with a theory however: it's an unfortunate side effect of human nature.  It's human nature to:

  • Build someone up only to help tear them down for what you perceive as a flaw in their character, which leaves you feeling disappointed and betrayed.
  • Enjoy a good comeuppance, aka "karma is a bitch and so are you!"
  • Look at a trainwreck.  It's nearly impossible to turn away from someone who is clearly in self-destruct mode. 
  • Engage in gossip, and expostulate endlessly on the different reasons as to how, where, when and why something happened.
 I could go on and on breaking down every nuance and factoid of this whole drama that's playing out across the bloggyverse, but the bottom line is this:

 I am incredibly, INCREDIBLY bored.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday Night & I Ain't Got Nobody

So, my life is kinda in limbo right now.  Not a bad kind of limbo, like it has been for the past, oh, TWO months, but limbo nonetheless.

Tonight I feel more positive about the future than I have in quite a while (like, in, OH TWO MONTHS) but still, nothing is set in stone.  Though I am determined to use the power of the Secret and instead of thinking, "Oh, no, don't plan ahead like things are going to work out in your favor, you'll jinx yourself", I'm moving forward as if things are going to go down exactly like I planned.

Yet I still can't bring myself to go into details here about what I'm planning for exactly, but I think it's more that "I don't know you like that yet" instead of "If I talk about it, it won't happen".  At least that's what I'm telling myself.

I'll be sure to let you know more next week.  Suffice to say...I like the direction my life is heading in right now.

Still and all, in the words of the immortal Tom Petty:


The world should run on my timetable, dammit.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

When Outback Gives You Sirloin...

Hypothetical scenario:

You get a coupon in your email for Outback that says "Buy One, Get One Free Ribeye Dinner" (see, that's how you know this is hypothetical because Outback would never do that) and you're like, "Sweet!" and you get all fancied up in your Sunday best and you head on out to the Outback.

Then you get there, and the whole way, you can taste that flame broiled ribeye, because that is some good shit, pornorifically delicious some might say, and the waiter says, "Oh, I'm sorry.  We're all out of the ribeyes, but we can give you the same deal on our sirloin instead"...

Well...that's disappointing; heartbreaking some might say.  I mean, yeah, sure, on any other given day, you'd be damn happy for that sirloin, because it's not a bad deal, and hey, it is still Outback, and you can still get a bloomin' onion, but still...you saw that coupon for the ribeye, and you got your hopes all up, and you're tasting that shit.

You wish you'd never seen that coupon at all.  I mean, life would have been perfectly fine if you'd never even knew that coupon existed, you would be grateful for that fucking little dried up hunk of tough sirloin.

But still...now that you know what you could have had but you missed out on, it's damn near impossible not to choke on that sirloin but you accept the deal begrudgingly because, hey.  It's better than hamburger helper, right?  Absolutely acceptable, and it fulfills all of your requirements for a perfectly adequate meal.  And you still get that bloomin' onion, so it's not that bad.

So you should be grateful for that fucking sirloin and not whine about the ribeye that you missed out on because it was never promised to you in the first place.

Still...I hate it when that happens.  My resolution is to try to be one of those people who's grateful for the god damned hamburger helper and stop obsessing about the fucking ribeye that I think I deserve.

Because there are people who feel blessed to even have the helper part, nevermind the hamburger.

I need to be okay with being an Eddie, and get over trying to be a Clark.

The Final Fron...ten

Let's wrap this bad boy up, shall we?

21. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and what would you do with it first?

This is a tough one...I went through the various options: mind control, reading people's minds, the power to making people's brains explode, flying.  But I don't know...
  • mind control: I would be WAY too dangerous to be entrusted with this shit.
  • reading people's minds: I don't think I really want to know how people feel about me...after all, that's why I avoid confrontation now.  Besides, I saw that Buffy episode; that shit will drive you nuts.
  • flying: I used to think I wanted to fly because then I could travel ALL around the world, but what's the point of being able to fly and travel if you don't have the $ to enjoy yourself?  Which leads me to my superpower of choice: 
Invisibility.  Because if I could make my self invisible at will, then I could steal all the $ I needed to travel wherever I wanted to.  Win/win.

22. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?
  • I can't even fathom thinking about this one.  I've learned my lesson about even thinking about where I'll be tomorrow, much less 5 years from now.

23. List your top 5 hobbies and why you love them.
  • Cooking: it relaxes me, and I love to feed people and make them happy because that's how I show my love.  It's a very unhealthy relationship with food, I recognize this.
  • Gardening: I like creating things that are pretty.
  • Pinterest: it really does make you feel productive and creative though you're doing nothing but sitting in front of your computer.
  • Reading: escaping into a fantasy world for a few minutes is always a nice diversion.
  • watching TV: it serves as pleasant background noise.
 24. Describe your family dynamic of your childhood vs. your family dynamic now. 
  • Huh...I'm not quite sure how to answer this one.  Depends on your definition of family.  I live with a member of the opposite sex now, which, growing up with nothing but girls in the house, adds a whole new ick factor that I'm not accustomed to because boys are messy and gross no matter what age they are.  Oh!  I guess the question means your "original" family, like parents and siblings.  Well, we're not all crammed into one house together anymore, so that's different.  The good part about that is that I think we're closer now because of it.

25. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?
  • King Henry VIII of England; I could totally go for one of those big ass royal banquets.
26. What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?
  • That any "one" religion is the ONLY religion.  That you can't be a kind, decent, spiritual, loving, respectful person unless you conform to their particular belief system.  Organized religion, and I include all faiths in this, has really fucked the human race up.
27. What is your favorite part of your body and why?
  • My eyes.  I've got really good eyes.  You really can tell a lot about somebody by the look in their eyes.
28. What is your love language?  
  • What the fuck is a love language?  Is it a foreign language that I love?  In that case, Italian.  A language that I love in my native tongue?  In that case, vulgar.  This is a stupid question.
29. What do you think people misunderstand most about you?
  • I think that most people, especially those that don't know me very well, think that I am a lot nicer than I actually am.  I'm really quite the intolerant bitch.
30. List 10 things you would hope to be remembered for.
  • I'd be happy just being remembered at all.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

10 More Fascinating Facts About Me

To continue from yesterday's riveting post...

11. Describe 10 pet peeves you have.
  • Sneezing too loud
  • Farting in front of me
  • Leaving crumbs on the newly cleaned kitchen counters
  • Tracking in sand across the newly mopped and swept floors
  • Brushing your teeth and leaving the toothpaste in the shower
  • Eating my food
  • Using my shit in general
  • Picking fights with me for no reason just because you're "bored"
  • Monitoring my monetary spending habits
  •  Not throwing away empty containers of anything...ever.
12. Describe a typical day in your current life.
  • Wake up grumpy
  • Cigarette and diet cherry pepsi and silence
  • Shower
  • Wash dishes, or clean up various rooms of the house if needed
  • Check Facebook
  • Check Pinterest
  • Check email
  • Watch taped shows on television
  • Plan dinner
  • Look at stuff on internet I can't afford to buy
  • Make dinner
  • Clean kitchen
  • Wait for death
(Hopefully I'll soon have more exciting activities to fill my day...fingers crossed)

13. Describe 5 weaknesses you have. 
  • Ankles
  • Low self esteem
  • Extra sensitivity to criticism 
  • Extreme non-confrontation
  • Red velvet anything
14. Describe 5 strengths you have.
  • My intellect
  • My compassion
  • My cooking
  • My fiscal budgeting...though this took YEARS to develop
  • My ability to make very thorough lists
 15. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
  • A shark, because every other living thing on the planet would fear me, and I could eat whatever I wanted, and be at the top of the food chain
16. What are your 5 greatest accomplishments?
  • Recovering from near death
  • Spending New Year's Eve in London
  • Being in NYC around Christmas time
  • Successfully stalking many celebrities
  • Waking up every morning and not completely giving up hope that it will get better
17. What is the thing you most wish you were great at?
  • Any athletic activity of any kind
 18. What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?
  • Myself, for my past mistakes...still working on it
 19. If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
  • New York City...that has never changed.  I would need lots of $ to live there, but I've always been drawn to that city.  I used to think London, but there's an intricate part of Americana in me that I won't give up.  I'd travel to London, but not live.  New York is just...it has a bit of everything, and speaks to me.
20. Describe 3 significant memories from your childhood.
I don't know how significant these are, but these are the first memories that came to mind when thinking about this question.
  • Getting dressed for Sunrise Service one Easter at my grandparents' house at the Beach.  It was SO cold & dark, we got dressed in front of their old pot bellied heater
  • Getting lost in the mall while under the watch of my Godfather...I think it's the only time I ever saw him mad at me
  • Shooting a BB Gun into the lake with my father
Final 10 coming soon to a blog near you...probably really soon, actually.  I'm particularly bored and anxious today...not an ideal combo.

Monday, April 23, 2012

30 Things...About Me, Duh!

So, I got this idea from Pinterest...

"What, wait? You got an idea from Pinterest?  Get OUT!"
" I know, right?!"

And I found it rather nifty.  Basically, it's a "30 Questions" game you play with your significant other, or honestly, anyone you're interested in really, and it's a way of finding out different things about them.  I may try this with the Rottenator later, but being that this blog is Kathleen-centric, I've decided to answer these questions for myself and post them here because I find myself quite fascinating.  This may be a three part series; questions 1-10 today.  I encourage everyone to do this, especially if you're getting old and senile like me.  This gets those ol' brain synapses firing.

1. List 20 random facts about yourself.
  • I'm left-handed
  • I'm a Virgo
  • I am an Anglophile
  • I am a secret Sci-Fi/Fantasy geek
  • I think that Buffy is the greatest show that's ever been on television
  • I should have gone to culinary school instead of college
  • I spent many formative years being a celebrity stalker
  • I used to write quite extensively about what my perfect fantasy life would be
  • I'm 40
  • I almost died in January 2011
  • I haven't been back to NYC since before 9/11
  • I've been to London twice
  • I was born in Germany
  • I have never wanted, and will never have children
  • Although non-practicing, I still consider myself Catholic
  • I love holidays and birthdays
  • My dad died of cancer two weeks before my 13th birthday
  • I cry every time I think about my kitty Chairman Miaow
  • I now embrace being born and raised in the South
  • I never thought I would but I love college football and I love the Crimson Tide & Nick Saban
2. Describe 3 legitimate fears you have and explain how they became fears.
  • I'm scared of monkeys.  There's a picture of my dad holding me when I was maybe one or two and there are monkeys all over the place; I guess we were at a zoo or something in Germany.  Maybe I was almost trampled but I've hated monkeys ever since.
  • I'm scared of driving; I've been in numerous car accidents, most were my own fault, so it stands to reason that it may happen again.
  • I'm scared of any type of confrontation or yelling.  I grew up in a house with a parent with a bad temper who yelled a lot, so every time someone gets mad at me, I get panicky.
3. Describe your relationship with your parents.
  • My dad died when I was 12; we were very close so that sucked and probably fucked me up for life.
  • My mom and I are closer now that I'm older; I can pretty much talk to her and tell her everything.
 4. List 10 things you would tell your 16 year-old self, if you could.
  • Take this summer between school years, and diet and exercise.  You will save yourself years of pain; pretty people really do get more breaks in life.
  • Don't smoke that cigarette.  Smoking may look cool at 16; it does not so much at 40.
  • Don't take that drink.  It will lead you down a very destructive path.  Don't worry; if you take my advice about diet and exercise, you'll still be invited to all the cool parties.
  • Fuck college, go to culinary school.  It's the right choice.
  • Don't stop writing.  You're damn good at it.  In fact, here's an idea to think about: try writing a story about an orphaned boy wizard who goes to a magical school and has to fight an evil wizard to the death.  Something to consider.
  • Try not to lose contact with your friends even if you go off to a different school.  You'll end up missing them.
  • Continue to be your own person and have your own interests even if no one around you shares them.  You'll eventually meet people who do, and they will be cool as fuck.
  • Be nicer to your younger sister.  She's going to be your best friend when you get older.
  • Do NOT get more than one credit card when you turn 18, and if you don't have a job, don't get one at all.  You'll be amazed at how important good credit is later in life.  Bad credit: that shit doesn't disappear overnight, believe that.
  • You don't have to be perfect.  No one is.  So don't stress so much about living up to impossible expectations.  And accept that other people won't either.  Everything's not as black and white as you think.
5. What are the 5 things that make you most happy right now?
  • My house
  • Cooking
  • Being in relatively good health
Huh...I'll have to come back to that one...

6. What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced? 
  • Starting over life from scratch.
7. What is your dream job, and why?
  • I would love to have my own catering business.  Cooking relaxes me, and cooking for other people makes me happy.
8. What are 5 passions you have?
  • Cooking
  • Top Chef
Huh...another one I'll have to come back to...sensing a pattern here...

9. List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how (in no particular order or importance).
  • JK Rowling: the woman was homeless and creating a universe on scraps of napkins over free cups of tea in a pub for God's sake...don't ever give up the dream.
  • The Rottenator: Saturdays Down South wouldn't be the same without him
  • My Dad: I think I get my sci-fi/anglophile thing from him
  • Joss Whedon: another creator of another of my favorite universes
  • A: the older boy that I crushed on in high school who opened up a whole new world of music to me with one mix tape
  • Ms. A: a high school teacher who treated me as more than just an annoying teenager she was forced to teach
  • The Frugal Gourmet: he opened up a whole new culinary world to me
  • Every gay man that I have befriended at many different stages in my life: they opened up a whole different, fun, exciting, accepting world to me
  • Sting: he helped me through some difficult years and I thought I'd love him forever.  I still know most of his songs by heart
  • The friends I met in college: they were the first friends I ever had that were from places very different from where I grew up.  They expanded my horizons by showing me that the Southern way wasn't the only way.
10. Describe your most embarrassing moment.
  • I don't know you well enough to reveal that, but trust me, it's a doozy.

Pinterest: DO NOT DIY

Oh, Pinterest, how I love you.  You are much better than Facebook, so entertaining, a veritable fount of informative, crafty, imaginative, impossible ideas that no one could ever achieve in even 100 life times.  You fascinate me, and you fuel my dreams of becoming an organized, crafty, happily married, chef goddess with creatively inspired imaginary children.

You are also an endless source of humor and information, like the entire internet wrapped up neatly in one little board.  A catch-all of sorts.  Like the WebMD or Wikipedia of craft...or, in oft cases, crap.

I submit to you the following Pinterest Fails, all culled from the DIY/Crafts category:


(Sidenote: fount? oft? culled?  Check me out, I'm all poetical and shit)






The enthusiastic Pinner proclaims this to be "cute and fun"!!!  I proclaim it to be "cheap trash I forgot to recycle".

It's painted paper plates on a empty paper towel roll, lady.  FYI, Walmart has a ring toss on sale for $5.  Just saying.  It's recyclable too, and doesn't look like you pulled it from a dumpster, so everybody, including the environment, wins!



Question: What the FUCK is up with people making their own god damn footwear by using "repurposed" materials?  Is the economy really that bad, or are you just really that fucking bored?




And once again, for future reference, before posting pictures of your stank ass feet, make sure you get a proper pedicure, because let's face it, feet are ugly.  And granted, the ribbon girl obviously got her toenails did before the foot fetish photo, but that fucking blue strip of satin might as well be a rubber band.  She's got it cinched so tight she's cutting off the circulation to her cankles.

Speaking of cutting off circulation:


Hey now! What the...why exactly is this on the DIY board?  Obviously, this is the very opposite of a DIY project.  Turns out, it actually leads to a blog about learning all natural pain management techniques without the use of medications, but still...quite unexpected and startling when pinned next to a pic of a cute baby in a knit acorn hat.

Speaking of babies:



This is obviously not a cute baby in an acorn hat, but I was okay with that, because I figured it was mis-categorized and supposed to be on the Humor board, so I clicked the link, expecting to enjoy a hearty laugh at the expense of children and parents alike.

In fact, I'll break my own rule and post the link to the actual blog so you can read it for yourself.

http://www.raisinggodlychildren.org/2011/03/25-ways-to-provoke-your-child-to-anger_23.html


Huh...so...it's NOT a joke?  Interesting.  Then why the hell heck (whoopsie, language!) would you post such a hilarious picture?

After reading it, I finally understood why it was tagged under the DIY heading.  It's how to raise your own serial killer.  I get it!


Touché, unintentionally ironic Pinner.  Touché indeed.


Honorable mention on this edition of Pinterest Fail goes to Mrs. Michelle Seigler for her "Make Your Own Baby Wipes" pin.



Yes, I've read the step by step instructions.  Let's go ahead and admit that there's no way you'll ever do this yourself.  Besides...there's probably a sale on baby wipes at Target, and I'm sure that finding a Target is way more convenient than finding your own coconut oil.  You're still a great mom.  ;-)





Sunday, April 22, 2012

Step Away From the Keyboard, Kathleen

So, I was watching television, when a preview for the following movie came on:


And I'm not embarrassed to say that I bawled like a baby.  But not just because of the trailer, and the fact that this heroine is Gaelic (Irish/Scottish), but also because the following song was played in the trailer that I saw:


And I'm not PMS-ing so...let's just lay the blame on Pixar, because they are the master manipulators when it comes to exploiting emotions...hello, remember Toy Story 2?


I'd much rather believe that than come to the conclusion that I'm about to fall into a deep pool of legitimate depression.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Anatomy of a Playlist

So tonight, I was bored, and decided I was going to throw together a "Guilty Pleasure Saturday Night Song List" for shits and giggles because I was flipping through some channels and a Black Eye Peas song  came on and they are definitely one of my guilty pleasure bands.  So this got me thinking...I should put together a "Going Out to Par-tay" compilation, even though I am by no means going anywhere, because I'm all old and stuff. But I was in the mood to listen to some music, which is a rarity for me;  I'm more of a visual tv/computer type of person.  So I was gathering together a bunch of fun videos from You Tube and the more I surfed, the more I came across songs that were not necessarily guilty pleasure, or bouncy fun, but songs that I just felt like listening to.  And then I realized...I was putting together a playlist that directly corresponds to a night out of partying and drinking...and lasts through that happy drunk until you get to the sloppy, pathetic emotional drunk that is warbling along off-tune and annoyingly from the backseat of the car as they are driven home at the end of the night...not that I would know anything about that.  Check the list below and see if you can pinpoint that exact moment when one screwdriver too many was had...






























 



And cue the waterworks.  Ah, memories....

Hope Springs Eternal

I've gotten a lot of requests from the voices in my head inquiring about the status of the triplets and I just want to assure all of you that they are actually doing fine!

There were some concerns early on; all of the original blooms died and fell off and that's when I decided that I would just leave it in Mother Nature's hands, helping out with an occasional lackluster watering if the soil looked particularly dry, but I wasn't going to stress about it anymore.

And then I walked outside about a week ago and saw this:


Could it...could it be?  Like one little sad purple wonky angel on top of a Christmas tree, there was a bloom.  (Incidentally, this is also when I decided on their names.  The one in the middle is Angel, natch).

And then this morning, it looked like Spike couldn't have Angel stealing all his thunder, so he stepped up his game.


Oh, yeah!  We are in business.  Buffy (on the left) is a petite little thing, but she does have new buds, so here's hoping she'll catch up with the other two and we'll be on our way to a magnificent display of purplosity.

Once these three get going, I may be trusted to begin the transformation of my water garden, which I hope will also be spectacular.

And don't even bother to ask about the seed trays.  They did not fair so well.  I never claimed to be a patient gardener; I'm more of the make-minimal-effort-expect-immediate-results kind.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I've Been Dooced!

Never have I been prouder to be considered part of the "dregs of humanity" though I'm pretty sure people have thought that of me before.

Monetizing The Hate

Background: I've read this woman's blog since its inception 11 years ago.  I used to adore her.  She was witty, charming, beautiful, and insanely funny...emphasis on the insanely part, it turns out.

You know how it is when you follow celebrities (even quasi) for years, you think you kinda know them?  For lack of a better word, it's even more "intimate" when you follow a "real life" person, i.e., blogger, because they reveal a lot more of themselves, their daily family life, routine, etc.  You develop a weird kind of friendship, like, "hey, they're just a normal person like me!" where you feel like you know them because they aren't being driven around in limousines, dressing up for parties and premieres, shopping on Rodeo Drive, being followed by paparazzi.  They're driving their kids to school, dressing down in sweatpants, watching movies at home, and shopping at Kroger.  So, yeah, they become like your BFF, or at the very least, a neighbor that you're fond of.

The internet is such an odd place, isn't it?  So, anyway, yeah, I really admired Heather Armstrong, we were going through the same kind of shit, man.  Depression, body image issues, food issues, we shared a love of Britpop, the same conflicted feelings about religion (though she was Mormon, I was brought up Catholic, still families strongly rooted in the church), and the same bitchy sense of humor.

Then, things changed between us, Heather & me (there I go again!  Imagining we're pals).  In a way, it was cool.  I mean, this chick like me, really cool stuff was happening for her because of the power of her words.  She actually had a career and was supporting herself and her family with her website.  She didn't have to be a published author to be a successful writer.  I like to consider myself an amateur hack, so this was amazing to me, and I was really happy for her, and encouraged that something like that could be done.

Then, she became like, all famous, and stuff.  And started hanging out with supermodels, and hiring assistants, and getting committed into a mental hospital because of her postpartum depression, and finding herself in her garage staring up at a pipe thinking about wrapping one end of a dog leash around it, and the other around her neck, and separating from her husband, and so forth.

So I was like....Dooooooce.....really?  That's kinda fucked up, yo.  But the worse thing?  The most unpardonable sin?  Her website stopped being interesting.  About a year ago, it was pretty clear that she had lost all interest in the website, and that's cool, I get it, you have some measure of success, you've got other things going on, so say bye-bye...or at least be honest about it. I mean, you made your $ by being authentically open about the things going on in your life, so why quit now?  Or better yet, go ahead, and quit.  That's the part that must really suck, though, right?  I mean, it's pretty obvious she's been totally "over" writing her blog, but now she's got sponsors, and employees, and lawyers, publicists, blah, blah, blah, so she can't just up and quit.  She's got to phone it in somehow.  And it showed.

So, anyway, I was having a pretty bad morning myself today, and unable to vent my frustrations to the person who was actually physically in my face pissing me off, I decided to do the typically passive-aggressive thing and lash out at some, well, nonentity, really, and spew forth my anger. Oh, don't get me wrong, I meant every word of it. 

And by that, I mean EVERY WORD.  Not just the part that she decided to copy and paste in order to make herself look better because everyone was being a big ol' meanie.

The quote on the page that was mine is as follows (in part):

Maybe she’s emotionally and physically exhausted because she finally caught a glimpse of the trainwreck of an interview that she gave on the Today show…twice. My god, it was embarrassingly bad, I actually felt sorry for her for the first time in like…um…ever.
Poor thing. My body would probably shut down too if I had to carry around a head and an ego as big as hers.


 The entire quote as posted on Get Off My Internet is as follows:

Maybe she’s emotionally and physically exhausted because she finally caught a glimpse of the trainwreck of an interview that she gave on the Today show…twice. My god, it was embarrassingly bad, I actually felt sorry for her for the first time in like…um…ever.
Poor thing. My body would probably shut down too if I had to carry around a head and an ego as big as hers.
I see that she’s finally opened up the comments again for this post; probably so she could hear a bunch of “Aww, Dooce, you do whatever you need, honey. We still <8 you”! Maybe I should comment there too, except that I’m sure it would be deleted because I’m being such a JERK.
And yeah, this is from a loyal reader who’s been following along with her for 11 years, and continued to enjoy her up until the last year. She should have ended the website when it reached its first decade because Dooce.com is now kind of like a television show that continues to struggle painfully along because it’s a money maker until it dies a slow, painful, agonizing death and makes you forget what made it so wonderful in the first place.


See what she did there?  Kinda left out the last two paragraphs, which actually were not as harsh as the first part.  My valid points were completely left out, dammit.

It's such a bitch being edited without prior approval.  But I guess so am I.  And oh, yeah!  Internet recognition, baby!  I'm such an attention ho.  :-)

Millions of Peaches, Peaches for Me

I am not a baker by any means.  Sure, I love to cook, I love creating all sorts of dishes, but there is a massive difference between cooking and baking.

Meaning that baking is an exact science.  Meaning that baking doesn't so much entail a "pinch of this, sprinkle of that" as it means measuring ingredients to the nth degree and not over mixing or opening oven doors or heating ingredients too high so that your end product doesn't end up with craters on the inside, a concave middle, or scrambled eggs instead of a velvety custard.

That being said, there are a few sweet dishes that I am damn good at.  My English Toffee Cheesecake is to die for, my banana bread is moist and scrumptious and my first ever attempt at peach cobbler last year turned out to be spectacular.



First off, let me say, don't judge a dish by its picture, ass holes.  Yeah, I know it doesn't look like all that, but trust me, this shit was amazing, and turned a cobbler lover out of me, a girl who doesn't much care for pies unless they are of the moon variety.

This dish came about as a special request from my mother, and after extensive research on the internet, in magazines, and old cookbooks, I "cobbled" (see what I did there) together the following recipe.

The secrets to making this cobbler a success are: fresh, very ripe, verging on mushy Georgia or SC peaches (I'm on the border of the two states, so these are easy to come by around these parts) and vanilla extract, which perfectly compliments the flavor of the vanilla ice cream that you serve with this warm dish, should you choose to...and I think you should.

Ingredients:
1/2 c. (one stick) unsalted butter
1 c. all purpose flour
2 c. sugar (divided into 1 c. portions each)
1 T. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 c. milk (I used whole, might as well, it's a dessert, why try to watch calories now)
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 c. fresh (peeled & sliced) peaches (3-4 depending on the size of the peach, I used 4)

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a small saucepan, melt stick of butter.  Pour into bottom of a 13x9-inch casserole dish.

Mix together flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder & salt in a bowl.  Add milk & vanilla extract and stir just enough to blend.  Pour over melted butter, but don't stir!

In a separate saucepan, bring remaining 1 c. sugar, 1 c. water and peaches to a boil, stirring constantly.

Pour over batter, but again, don't stir!*

Bake for 40-45 min; batter will rise slightly, and the peaches will get all bubbly & syrupy and peek through the batter.  It's supposed to look like the pic above, I was told.  & I chose to believe this because it was so damned tasty.

Enjoy warm or cold, but hot is best with a big ol' scoop of Breyer's vanilla ice cream plopped on top.

*At this point some recipes called for sprinkling cinnamon on top, others called for nutmeg.  I don't really care for the taste of either, so I didn't use it, but if that's your thing, go for it.  Last I heard, it's a free damn country.

Can you tell I'm ready for summer?  Summer fruit, at least, summer heat...not so much.

Oh, and I didn't include serving size:  in this case, it served mostly one hungry should-know-better diabetic mother, but it's a dessert, so my best guess is 8-10 normal sweet eaters.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rootin' Scootin' Sghetti

This is one of my favorite new recipes, courtesy of Pinterest and one that will definitely make it into our normal rotation.  The secret ingredient: cream cheese, baby.  It is OH so yummy, and the original is here.

It's called Scooter's Spaghetti, how cute is that?


Below is how I prepared the recipe; the only change I would make when preparing this again is to use a 10 oz tub of Philly Italian Cheese & Herb Cooking Creme instead of a block of cream cheese with a dry pack of Italian seasoning, as the original I found a little difficult to spread over the noodles, though the taste was still delish.

(serves 4)

Ingredients:
8 oz cooked spaghetti (cook according to pkg directions; drain & set aside)
1 lb ground beef
1 lg jar spaghetti sauce (26.5 oz; your choice of brand & flavor)
1 med onion, chopped
8 oz block of cream cheese
1 packet Italian dressing salad mix (dry)
2 T. milk
1 small can French Fried Onions
grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.  Take cream cheese out of fridge and bring to room temp in order to soften for later mixing.

In a skillet, brown ground beef and onion until beef is no longer pink and onions are soft and translucent.  Drain. Return beef to skillet, and add jar of spaghetti sauce.  Simmer on medium until heated through.

In a separate bowl, stir together cream cheese, packet of Italian seasoning mix & 2 T. of milk until all is thoroughly blended, and mixture is soft enough for spreading.  If cream cheese is still not soft enough to blend easily, pop it in the microwave for about 20 sec before mixing.

In a 9x11 ungreased casserole dish, layer the following:


  • Thin layer of spaghetti sauce
  • Cooked noodles
  • Cream cheese mix (again, I found this difficult to spread all over noodles; I used the back of a large wooden spoon & just kept spreading until it covered most of the pasta)
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (as much or as little as you like; we like our cheese, so we used 1/2 cup)
Put into the oven as listed above and bake uncovered for 25 min.

After 25 min, sprinkle can of french fried onions on top and continue to bake for an additional 3-5 min depending on your oven.  Watch them closely because you don't want them to burn.

Voilà!  That's all there is to this one. Serve with a salad & some garlic bread, and you're good to go.

Enjoy!








Friday, April 13, 2012

I'll Settle for those Beans

So, lately I've been scouring the internet on my ongoing quest to create delicious, cheap, not necessarily nutritious dinners that are a winner with all the members of this household (the boy doesn't eat sour cream, ranch dressing or mayo and calls himself Southern, wtf), and I've come across another one that is indeed, a hit.  And like all of "our" current success stories, luckily it is easy enough while still satisfying my joy of cooking and spending time in my favorite room in the house, Bella Cucina.

Behold:  Old Settlers' Baked Beans.



Click here to observe the original recipe for this meal which I've heavily borrowed from but slightly modified in order to suit our tastebuds.

Side note: I don't know why I've never thought of this before, but just because a recipe has a 5 star rating doesn't mean it's an overwhelming hit.  Reading the reviews is actually quite helpful, though I must say, this one sounded pretty darn good on its own.  The main differences that I made after following the review suggestions are cutting the sugar quantity slightly, frying the bacon separately, and using 1 lb. versus 1/2 lb. of ground beef.

So here it is; serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef
4 strips bacon
1 med. onion, chopped
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. bbq sauce (store bought; I used a hickory smoked flavor)
1 T. yellow mustard
1 tsp lemon-pepper seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp seasoning salt
2 T. chili sauce
1 16 oz can pork and beans, undrained
1 16 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 16 oz can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained


Preheat oven to 350°.  In a large skillet, fry bacon strips until crisp; set aside on paper towel to drain.

In same skillet, brown together ground beef, onion, Worcestershire sauce & seasoning salt until beef is done through, and onions are soft and translucent. Drain all fat.

In a bowl, mix together both sugars, ketchup, bbq sauce, mustard, lemon-pepper seasoning, garlic powder, & chili sauce.  Add beef mixture and stir thoroughly.

Crumble bacon into bits and add to beef/sauce mixture.  Add all beans, and fold together gently, taking care not to mush the beans.

Grease a two quart casserole dish.  Add beef/bean mixture to dish and cover with tinfoil.  Bake for 1 hr.

I served mine with cornbread muffins (what up, Jiffy!) and it was a success!  I think the key was cutting the sugar, and using a smokey bbq sauce and bacon to add another taste dimension.

Enjoy!


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pinterest: SO didn't nail it...

Again, Pinterest, I'm a slave to it.  So much so that much like one will check a horoscope to find out how their day will be, I check Pinterest to see if there's something I need to add to my imaginary "to do" list.  True fact.

However, I am becoming more of a Pinterest expert, if you will, and along with the recent revelation that some of my followers are not actually interested in me, they are only interested in me clicking on their stupid fake boards to sell me shit, I have come across a few pins that made me pause for a minute and think..."that's not...that's just not right..."

Again, as I noted in my previous Pinterest fail entry, I have decided to critique them on my own blog to protect the innocent or, more like, to avoid possible hostile comments and unfollows.

First up, I give you Puffy Paint Ghost:


Not only is this your hideous end result, the creator warns that this is not a "neat craft".  You use glue and shaving cream, and it takes hours to dry.  I guess you'll have plenty of time to clean up the mess your children made creating this monstrosity in the time that it takes it to dry.  Enough time, I'll wager, that your children will have lost complete interest in this project, and Halloween will be over, and you may as well start on your puffy paint pumpkins for Thanksgiving.  Serious fail.



Easter is the time for chocolate goodies, cute little bunnies and chicks ready to be devoured by children and adults for that sugar rush which will provide much needed energy for the Easter egg wars hunts that take place in front yards and in churches all across America.  I love chocolate aminals as much as the next person, but seriously people:




Let's leave the Easter treats to the professionals at Hershey's and Brach's shall we?  Nothing is more depressing than biting into an alien head or a lazy-eyed bunny on Easter morning.  It's just sad, and I can promise you, if your children found either one of the above in their baskets on Easter morning, they would be pissed.  And they would curse you.  And be scarred for life.  Do you really want that on your conscience?




"Hey Kathleen!" you say.
"Yeah what?" I answer (I'm often brusque and suspicious when being addressed).
"Wanna come over for dinner?  We're having steaks!"
"Hell yeah, I'm broke and always hungry; be right there!"



"WHAT...THE...FUCK..."
"It's cauliflower steak, silly! It's supposed to be delicious!"

"And you were supposed to be a good friend inviting me over for a god damn real dinner because you have sympathy for my plight, but I guess we've both been betrayed, me by you, and you by whatever idiot told you that you wouldn't get punched in the face by serving me this deceptive crap!"

As if that weren't bad enough...


The creator of this next dish claims it to be the "World's Best Tofu Recipe":






No, sorry, I've had tofu masquerading as meat in  many Asian dishes, and I can almost guarantee you that any of them was better than the above bowl of brown, uninspired dog puke.  Actually..it wouldn't be dog puke at all because YOUR DOG WOULDN'T EAT IT BECAUSE IT'S NOT REAL MEAT AND TOFU SUCKS!!!!

I don't know why this recipe inspires so much hatred in me; perhaps because I take my food quite (too) seriously, and this whole...plate of crap just personally offends me. Although a sprinkling of parsley wouldn't improve the taste of this dish, it would at least make it feel like less of an eye rape.  FAILURE...on every level, Pinterester who dares call yourself a cook.

Yes, I know.  I have food issues.  I'm working on it.


Gimme Whatcha Got 4 a Pokechop!

So, the other night for dinner, for a break from our normal routine of chicken and/or ground beef, I found a sale on pork chops and decided to make them, in the simplest way possible.

Smothered and covered, baby.  They turned out delish if I do say so myself!

I found two different simple and highly reviewed recipes on the Food Network's website, and decided to create my own tasty combination of the two being that they were very similar.  The first was from Tyler Florence, who is cute as a button...


 and his original recipe can be found here.

However, the fiance and I do love us some onions and being that the Vidalias are plentiful right now, I decided to incorporate this recipe since it called for onions in the gravy that the dish was going to produce.

So, here's my hybrid of the two (serves 4):

Ingredients:

4 bone-in pork chops
1 med. onion, chopped
3/4 c flour
2 T. onion powder
2 T. garlic powder
1 tsp Mediterranean herb mix (hello, McCormick's Perfect Pinch)
1 tsp seasoning salt (hello, Lawry's)
1 tsp lemon-pepper
vegetable oil (enough to cover the bottom of skillet for frying)
1 T. butter
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
2/3 c buttermilk

Directions:

Mix together the flour, onion powder, garlic powder, herb seasoning, seasoning salt & lemon pepper until well incorporated.  Pour into shallow container for dredging.

Dredge the four chops in flour, shaking off any excess.  Reserve remaining flour which you'll use later to incorporate into the sauce for thickening.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chops, and brown for 5 min on each side, only flip them once.  If this doesn't seem like long enough, don't worry; you're going to finish them off in the gravy later.

Remove chops from pan and set aside.  Add onion & butter and cook down on medium-high about 10 min, stirring to scrape up all the yummy drippings from the bottom of the pan until the onions are brown and soft.

Once cooked down, add 2 T. of the seasoned flour mix, stir to coat onions until flour is dissolved, then add chicken broth.  Continue to cook until the sauce begins to thicken, stirring to prevent it from burning, for about 3 min.

Pour in buttermilk slowly, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and add chops.  Spoon sauce over chops and cover with lid, continue to cook 10-12 min.  Halfway through, lift lid and turn chops, and spoon sauce over again.

I served mine with rice; I'm sure they would be equally yummy with biscuits or mashed taters and a mixed veggie mix on the side for a full-on family meal.

Enjoy!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Eye of the Beholder






The real question is...what was the artist trying to say about this particular piece?  Is it a pro or anti-smoking statement?

It's all about perception, my friends.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Spider Situation


To the spider I allowed to cohabitate my home for the past few days:

Even after the initial horror of discovering you when I turned on my lamp, I overlooked your continued presence in Bella Cucina. You see,  I'd read on some stupid website somewhere that a spider in the house was a sign of good luck.  Obviously, the writer of that proverb had never heard of a black widow, or a brown recluse, but okay, whatever.  You weren't bothering me, I didn't bother you.  I could tolerate you much as one tolerates an unwanted, but unobtrusive, roommate.

Clearly you felt emboldened by my disregard of you, or perhaps it hurt your feelings, or maybe you were looking to commit suicide by proxy, I don't know.  Whatever the case, you decided to become a bit more intrusive.  Such as...dropping from the ceiling onto the keyboard of my laptop, which you obviously thought would spur me on to more drastic actions.  When we stared each other down, and I refused to participate in your game, you decided that a leap in my general direction would surely illicit the response you so (apparently) desired.

Unfortunately, a shriek from me as I frantically scrambled away and practically kicked my computer onto the floor while telling my fiance not to hurt you because I heard you were good luck, was not the correct counter to your forward move.  You were obviously frustrated by my attempts to be a good samaritan and decided on moving forward with a plan which could no longer be ignored.





You had babies.




I knew they were yours when the first tiny speck of a spider hatchling crawled across my computer screen.  You taught them well.

So, when finding you hovering above the door, no doubt planning your next suicidal leap:


I knew what had to be done.   It was inevitable, and what both of us really wanted in the end.







I Got the Chicken Cordon Bleus

So, I mentioned yesterday that I was looking for a chicken cordon bleu recipe to replace the original one I was going to make after reading the reviews on it, and I think I came up with a winner.




It's not the prettiest casserole ever, but it did turn out pretty dang tasty if I do say so myself.  Before I get to the recipe, since this was my first time making it, these are the modifications I will make when preparing it again.

  • use a cream of chicken (or any cream of something) soup with seasonings added (to give it a little extra flavor)
  • remove the tinfoil cover and let the casserole cook for about 10 min more so the stuffing topping turns out crispier (I thought it was fine, but the fiance found it too "soggy"...whatever)
  • reserve more of the stuffing mix for topping so that it covers the entire top of casserole, and make the layer of stuffing on the bottom thinner.
Other than that, here is the recipe as is, and again, it was quite yummy.

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole (serves 4)

4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 10.5oz can cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
8 oz pkg sliced deli ham
8 oz pkg sliced swiss cheese
8 oz pkg herbed dressing/stuffing (I used Pepperidge farm)
chicken broth (apprx 1/2 cup)
butter
seasoning salt (I'm southern, so I used Lawry's, natch)
pepper
onion powder
garlic powder

Preheat oven to 325°. 

Season chicken breasts liberally with SPOG (salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder)

Liberally grease a 9x11 casserole dish with butter.  Pour stuffing package into a bowl and add enough chicken broth to lightly moisten (I just eyeballed this and added it gradually until the stuffing was just mixed; I'd estimate maybe 1/2 cup, you might want to use less depending on how soft/crispy you like yours).

Spread a thin layer of stuffing into the bottom of casserole dish;  place seasoned chicken breasts on top.  Reserve remaining stuffing mix for topping.

On top of chicken breasts, layer ham followed by a layer of swiss cheese.

In a separate bowl, mix together cream of chicken soup with one cup milk.  Pour over chicken breasts, covering completely.

Use remaining stuffing mix to spread over entire top of casserole.

Liberally butter one side of aluminum foil.  Place on top of casserole, butter side down.

Bake for 45 min.  At this point, remove foil and continue to bake 5-10 min to ensure crispy stuffing topping.

I served mine with mashed potatoes on the side as the sauce from the dish, and it would probably be wonderful with roasted asparagus as well.

Enjoy!




Sunday, April 8, 2012

Yay It's Easter!!! Whatever (¬_¬)

So, I'm making Chicken Cordon Bleu for the first time for dinner tonight, and after reading the reviews of the original recipe I intended to use which did not portray it in such a favorable light,  I'm currently perusing the internet, cobbling together the most interesting & tasty sounding bits from other dishes to make my own unique creation.

Which I shall then be able to pin onto my boards as a Kathleen original and receive gratification from the numerous repins that I'm confident it will incur.

Because the level of my self-esteem directly corresponds to the number of repins I receive.  No, seriously.

And although I consider myself a fairly confident amateur cook, I'm still VERY careful about my chicken.  The salmonella threat has not escaped my attention, and though I'll play it loose and easy with the doneness of my beef, I don't fuck around when it comes to preparing chicken.

I should put that on my resume if I ever attempt to apply for a job in a restaurant, or with a catering firm.  Special qualifications?  "I don't fuck around with my chicken".

That should be reassuring to any employer on many different levels.

So, although I know the proper temp & length of time that it takes to safely bake a chicken breast (325° for 45 min is a good estimate) to perfect doneness, I still like to reassure myself because I am very OCD.  Not quite bordering on Rainman-like (we've already got one of those in this house), but I am pretty damn thorough when it comes to checking...and rechecking...and checking a third time for doors being locked and appliances and lights being turned off.  I like to call it being careful & frugal.

Anyway, so as I was mentioning, perusing the internet for recipes, and double checking my chicken cooking time & temp, and I stumbled upon Yahoo Answers, which is like the Wikipedia for people with dumb ass questions and the stupid responses that they receive.  Someone else was also looking for chicken cooking advice, and this was the answer:

The best way to cook chicken in the oven doesn't depend on the oven temp or time.

Purchase a Digital Cooking Thermometer. Insert the probe into the meatiest of the Breast (Do not touch Bone). Set the thermometer for 155 degrees and bake until the Thermometer signals you. Remove the Breasts and loosely cover the baking dish with Foil. Let the Breasts rest 10-15 min. The foil will keep it hot and the chicken breasts will continue to cook until the internal temp reaches 165 degrees. This is the safe temp to cook chicken. Do not cook in the oven to 165. By the time you eat it, well, you might as well take off your shoe and eat it.

Using the internal temp method is better and safer. The oven temp, whether 250 or 375 doesn't matter as long as the internal temp reaches a high of 165 degrees. This method works with any kind of meat. Temps vary so check with someplace like Food Network web site for temp tables.

Cooking the Breasts without a thermometer:

Boneless: 325-350 degrees for 15-25 min.

Bone in: 325-350 degrees for 30-45 min.

The reason for the time variation is because all ovens are different. This is why the temp method is best.

Source(s):

Me. Raised by my dad to be a Chef. Then I disappointed him. Still like to cook at home.
You can also check with any good Cooking Web Site and see the same info.
 See that highlighted & underlined thing up there as the source?  Totally unnecessary, and unrelated to the answer, but this person just felt like sharing, probably never thinking that six years later, some chick would happen upon their post and derive so much pleasure from that one little fragmented sentence. Humor from unexpected places is my favorite kind of humor.  And also, it makes me love random strangers, and chips away a little bit of my cynicism about society in general.  People can be pretty awesome-sauce.

On that note, Happy Easter everyone!  My Easter consisted of a singular mumbled "Happy Easter" from the fiance as he crawled into bed from a 12 hr overnight shift, and my response was the appropriate "Unless you have one of the following in your hands:





don't be reminding me it's Easter, fucker!"

It's not about the Bunny, my ass.  It's all about the chocolate.  To see an Easter celebrated properly, check out my sister's blog.  Isn't it the best Easter ever?  She's a pretty awesome mom, and her kids are pretty awesome sauce too.  This is one of the two times a year (other is Xmas, natch) that I actually wish I had kids, so I must live vicariously through her fam.

And give her brilliant ideas like the planting of the jellybeans.  Though I found the original idea on Pinterest, I was the one who brought it to her attention, so of course, I'm claiming credit.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Masturbatory

So, this is the first week of The Masters golf tournament.  As I live 20 minutes away from Augusta National, this affects my life in the following ways:

When running errands, occasionally I overhear people mentioning that it's the 1st week of the Masters.

That's pretty much the extent of it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

April Fool's Day is stupid

Unlike my sister who, admittedly, made a very cute backwards dinner for her kids yesterday, I have never  been a fan of this most useless of pointless of mean-spirited and downright stupid "holiday".

The MOST useless you say?  What about Feb. 29 you ask?  Hey, man, back off.  Feb. 29 is too cool, it happens once every four years, like Presidential elections, Olympics, and World Cup...all which are much less cool than Leap Year, so by default, Feb. 29 is better than April 1. Plus, if my birthday was on Feb. 29, I wouldn't be 40 fucking years old.  I feel you, Cameron.

http://abc.go.com/watch/modern-family/SH559066/VD55176458/leap-day

 Kathleen, 1, imaginary readers, 0.

The main reason I hate April Fool's is that I am a particularly gullible sort, and easily embarrassed, therefore, I do not like tricks played on me.  And most April Fool's Day pranks are designed to confuse the witless, and embarrass the already socially awkward members of our society of which I am included.

Also, they are just plain fucking mean and created in order to make people look and feel like assholes.  I feel like that enough already by myself on any given day, I don't need a whole day dedicated to people trying to remind me of that.  I'd rather watch a video of a kid whacking his dad in the nuts with a baseball bat on an endless loop for 24 hours than spend the whole damn day being suspicious of everything and anything I see and/or hear:  "Oh, really, Mom's feet fell off and she needs to go to the emergency room?  Try again, sister!"

And honestly, are the "pranks" ever really clever or funny?  Can you remember one that worked ever that caused you to laugh hysterically, or did you just think "Wow...that's kinda mean" or worse, "Damn...HOW much time did they spend on that colossal fail of a trick?"  Not one, I'd wager.

That being said, while perusing Gawker, I did come across one particular April Fool's Day joke that was cute, harmless, clever, and made me feel good instead of cringing internally.

May I present: Warby Barker, designer eyewear for dogs.

How cute is that pug with a monocle?  Damn cute, that's how much.  See, this is what I'm talking about, people.  So next year, aim high.  Strive for pranks that make people feel better, or feed them delicious backwards meals that look like something they're not, and are creative, and tasty.

Although my tastebuds would be very confused and suspicious...and I'd probably react with a distrustful "I don't like it" like my three year old niece, but at least I could verbalize to you how much I appreciated the effort.

**Updated: see, I'm not the only one.  Dooce feels my pain.