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Miscellanea

Survive a New Year

by on Jan.02, 2014, under Miscellanea

Warning: This is a personal feelings post. I am about to get all existential up in here. No recipe or reviews today. If you are looking for those, feel free to skip this one.

So I just saw a little bit of wisdom on one of these ‘things I learned in the last year’ lists that overflow social network feeds at the beginning of every new year. It said, “Write like no one is reading” and my first thought was, “easy! I’m pretty sure no one reads my blog anyway.” So here I am, writing with the expectation that no one will really read my blather. If you can’t tell, I am feeling even more cynical then usual lately. Life is good in general, but there are always a few things in the mix that nettle me. I am not one of those perpetually cheerful people. I would say I am pretty average in that, I have at least as many ‘bad’ days as ‘good’ days. New Year’s Eve 2013 was one of the bad days.

To preface I just want to just say, I’ve never really gotten the big deal about New Year’s Eve/New Years Day. Yes, its nice to have a random day off work and a reason to hang out with friends/family, but as for as it being of any particular cosmic significance, I don’t see that there is much of note. It’s another day, just like all the ones before it and all those after. The Universe doesn’t care how we humans divide up the orbit of one planet around it’s star. Not even all humans can agree on how to divide it (i.g. Chinese New Year).  I’ve always thought of time like a river. It is a continuous flows regardless of any container our minds put increments of it in. The change from one year to another is rather arbitrary to me. Some like to use it as a chance to start over, wipe the slate clean, and/or mark the beginning of something new but I don’t see why those things can’t be done any other day. Every day is a new day that can be the start of new things.

Now for the more personal reflections about this most recent New Year’s Eve/Day. Not going to air any specific dirty laundry here, but I was just in a general bad mood after having worked most of the day on New Years Eve. At work I had to cover a position that I loathe, in addition, that morning I had gotten some distressing news about our mortgage, and while my husband (aka The Man) was off work and suggested going out for dinner, he offered no concrete plan of where exactly he wanted to go (I very much like to always have a plan). Also, this was the first New Years Eve I can remember where not a single friend reached out to invite us to a gathering of some sort. After coming home in a rather dark mood, The Man poked the bear one too many times and we had a nice explosive fight just before we were supposed to leave for dinner. We finally did get out the door, only to sit in general silence while eating an overpriced mediocre meal at a packed chain restaurant. We were home by 8:30 and The Man was in bed by 9, since he had to be up for work the next day before dawn. I rung in the new year alone, in bed, reading a book, and still generally pissed off with the world. Woohoo.

Don’t fret though, apologies where exchanged and feeling mended the next day between me and The Man. I keep thinking however, about the pressure (real or perceived) the usually exchanged expression of ‘Happy New Year’ puts on one. What if things are going on in one’s life that just do not make for a particularly happy new year? One of my close friends had just lost her mother to complication from Alzheimer’s 5 days prior, and while I know she would be trying, it was probably difficult for her to be really feeling ‘happy’ for the new year. I was unusually quite on my social networks, not really posting much about the New Year or my feelings, sentimental, hopeful or otherwise. A friend of mine posted the below comic and I think it is a perfect summation on the subject.

cyanidehappinessnewyear

So I said all of that to really say, to all my friends and family, Survive a New Year! Happy or sad, good day or bad, I will still love you just the same.

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New Years Resolutions – Nailed it! Sort of….

by on Oct.30, 2013, under Miscellanea

I know your thinking, “Melissa, it’s October, wtf? Why are you talking about New Years Resolutions?!?” Well here’s a little glimpse into how my mind works. Last year was the first year I actually made a real New Years Resolution, I made two in fact. Yeah before then I had done the generic ‘loose weigh’, ‘don’t cuss so much’, ‘be kinder to stupid people’, etc. But this time around I actually made specific goals for myself.

  1. Take reusable bags to the grocery store, quit leaving them in the closet/car trunk.
  2. Start meal planning ahead of time to save money and be more organized.

So I know these are modest goals compared to some, but hey I had to start somewhere.

Anyhoo, I am happy to report I having been doing really good on the remembering my reusable bags for the grocery store. I’d estimate that I only forget them once out of every four trips, so I am totally considering that winning. Also, I do have the occasional need for plastic grocery bags at our house (cat box cleaning, etc), so really even when I forget, I’m winning! BOOM!

On the second goal front, I can say with total modesty that I have rocked it out with my proverbial cock out. I have become a meal planning bad-ass of mom-umnetal (har har!) proportions. Now, there is some credit to be given to this awesome app I found for my iPad, that had made the chore of meal planning so much easier then it was in the pre-kitchen tech dark ages. The app is called Menu Planner. Now let me say, for the record, this is not any kind of sponsored or paid advertisement. This is just my personal experience and appreciation for something that has become indispensable to me. Disclaimer done!

What initially attracted me to this app was it’s ability to import recipes from other sites, along with entering your own. It supports 40+ for full auto-import, but after a small learning curve, you can use it to manually import any text-based recipe from anywhere on the web. I have teamed this up with Pinterest, where I find an organize recipes I find online. Inside Menu Planner’s Import Recipe browser window, I will navigate to my Pinterest page and then from there, find the links to various recipes I’ve pinned. It is a little buggy on the Pinterest site, in that I sometimes have to touch (click) pictures twice to get the links to load. Once you load recipes into your database, you can then go to the Menu tab, select a day, add a meal category type (breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc) to the day, then in that category, add the recipes you want to cook for that day.

Another feature that is dead handy is the ability to move entire meal groups from one day to another. While the idea is to plan everything in advance, when you are struck with a sudden craving for greasy Chinese food (come on, we’ve all been there), it is easy to bump the planned meal to another day. It is even easier on the iPhone version (which can be synced together with the iPad), to just pull days up or down in the list to rearrange menu plans.

My only gripe about this app is that it is a missing an ‘added date’ in the Recipes view. There have been several times where I couldn’t remember the recipe name, but I knew I added it a week ago on Tuesday. Had I been able to see and sort the recipes by there ‘added date’ that would been handy. Usually I can just go back to my Pinterest feed and find it. I have imported 234 to date. I went crazy a couple of weeks ago when my husband, AKA The Man, made it back to day shift and I planned out the next 7 weeks of dinners I would be able to cook for our family. When he is on night shift, I only cook max of 3 nights a week, since otherwise it is just me and a toddler. I didn’t realize how much I was missing being able to cook for him until I went ban-an-as with Menu Planner. I had a ton of new recipes I wanted to try and now I finally can! Hooray! I will be putting up a separate round-up post with all the yummy things I have cooked recently, so keep an eye out for that.

Side note, this app has a crapton of other features that I don’t use:  Shopping lists, Panty Organizer, Nutrition Info, etc. I know there are several other similar apps out there, but this is the pony I bought, so I am riding it to the rodeo. For $2.99 it is totally worth giving a shot.

As mentioned, there is a little learning curve to the manual recipe import feature, but once you get it down, it is a total breeze! There is also a website where you can interact with the app: http://menu-planner.com. Just use the same email address you used initially with the app, and you can log in and check out all your recipes. You can’t actually do any menu planning from the website though. Also, I find the web interface for adding recipes to be tedious, so I only use it for auto-import sites.

I have no idea what I will do for 2014 resolutions and really, after being so successful with these two, it might just be setting myself up for failure to try for anything else for a few years. I think I will just stick with basking in the glory of accomplishing these two things for a while.

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Still Kicking Around

by on Jul.03, 2013, under Miscellanea

Hey y’all. I just wanted to do a quick post to let you know, I am still here. I have just been busy and feeling uninspired lately. Real life is always getting in the way, and well yeah, I am a slacker too. I am not one to post blather just for the sake of post counts, so since nothing has struck me as outstanding enough to share, I have not. Do not fear however, I am still lurking, like the smelly sock in your closet you just can’t seem to find. I hope my mojo will be back soon and I will find some cool stuff to share. Until then, check out my Pinterest boards. No matter how lazy I am feeling, I still manage to pin things on the regular.

My Pinterest Boards (or look down and to the right)

An extraneous picture of my daughter from WDW. Yes, that was one of the things I was doing when I wasn’t here.

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Santa Strawberries

by on Nov.15, 2012, under Miscellanea

Aren’t these just the most adorable thing ever!!

Christmas Holiday Dessert Fruit

Santa Strawberries
 
By:
Type: Dessert
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb large strawberries
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 3-4 Tablespoons powdered sugar (or sugar substitute - to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Black Sesame Seeds
Instructions
  1. Rinse strawberries and cut around the top of the strawberry. Remove the top, (enough for a hat). Clean out the whole strawberry with a paring knife, if necessary (some of them are hollow already. Prep all of the strawberries and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Add cream cheese mix to a piping bag or Ziploc with the corner snipped off. Fill the strawberries with cheesecake mixture.
  3. Once strawberries are filled, top with the 'hats.' Decorate with black sesame seeds and cream dots. (see photo for reference)
  4. If not serving immediately, refrigerate until serving.

 

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Why I’m an Atheist

by on Dec.23, 2010, under Miscellanea

To my devoutly religious friends who might be easily offended, look away.Pope with Scepter

I loved Ricky Gervais long before reading this. His brand of comedy is one of my favorites. British comedy in general is something I have always had a special fondness for. Since I was a kid watching reruns of Are You Being Served? or Keeping Up Appearances on PBS, that deadpan delivery of the British dry wit amuses me almost as much as a good fart joke. Not to say I love all of Ricky’s work. Let’s just admit, he has made some movies that were hard to watch even when they aired on TV and you didn’t really have to pay attention. But his sitcoms, totally hilarious!

After reading the below article he wrote, all I could think was “THIS!! A MILLION TIMES THIS!” I usually avoid discussion of religion as a rule of thumb with anyone except the closest of friends. I think people are free to believe what they want, and it is highly unlikely anything I say will convince them otherwise, so really what’s the point? “Oh, your a Baptist/Methodist/Catholic/Jew/Muslim/Jehovah’s’ Witness/Toaist/Buddhist/Hindu, interesting… So, how about that weather?”

Not to say I don’t like religion or religious people. I actually enjoy studying the different facets of the belief systems and practices of the numerous different religious groups in the world, but my interest is from a purely educational standpoint. That being said, there certainly are aspects and practices I disagree with, but I think it is of more benefit to know the details of these so I can be certain in my opinions, rather than just ignoring them since obviously that is not going to make them go away.

My other struggle with Religious discussion is that I am generally not particularly eloquent in my explanation of exactly why I *don’t* believe in God. Ricky has assisted me greatly by explaining several of the major factors that influence my thinking. Now I just need to commit this awesome explanation to memory, so next time someone brings up religious beliefs and my lack there of, I can intelligently and tactfully fend off those uncomfortable questions.

(If at all possible, try and read this to yourself in a British accent. It really does enhance the experience.)

By Ricky Gervais

Why don’t you believe in God? I get that question all the time. I always try to give a sensitive, reasoned answer. This is usually awkward, time consuming and pointless. People who believe in God don’t need proof of his existence, and they certainly don’t want evidence to the contrary. They are happy with their belief. They even say things like “it’s true to me” and “it’s faith.” I still give my logical answer because I feel that not being honest would be patronizing and impolite. It is ironic therefore that “I don’t believe in God because there is absolutely no scientific evidence for his existence and from what I’ve heard the very definition is a logical impossibility in this known universe,” comes across as both patronizing and impolite. (continue reading…)

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