1. I don’t really miss making money. Not that much. I miss being good at my job, and I miss many of my old co-workers (a fact that was only emphasized last night when I was able to spend some quality time with them).
But the money? Only when I have to do things I’d rather pay someone else to do. Like clip my dogs’ nails. Because while my dogs are really actually very good about letting me do it, that doesn’t change the fact that I’m still terrible with a nail file. And then things like this happen:
Okay. It doesn’t look that bad. But it’s really hard to set the aperture and shutter speed while picking a focal point all with one hand because you’re trying to take a picture of the underside of your other arm reflected in a mirror, all while trying not to make your typical, scrunchy “concentration face.” But it does look a tad more gnarly in person.
2. Check back this afternoon, because I’m going to be writing a post about Valentine’s Day. Because, you know – it’s like my favorite. Holiday. Ever. (Riiiiiight.) I don’t really want to do it. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the world of blogging this week, it’s that V-Day is not to be avoided. Especially when you have a story that involves tacky t-shirts, broken dreams, and Carmen Electra.
Well, the good news is that I woke up this morning to a second day of sunshine in a row.
The bad news is that I still woke up feeling like my body had been run through a meat grinder overnight and then pieced back together by little elves who must have misplaced the blueprints and forgot to oil the joints because I know my knee wasn’t quite this rickety yesterday and it can’t be from Jillian’s lunges and all those muscles she’s making me grow or the fact that I type while sitting with one or both legs tucked up under my butt, so it must be the elves.
Old, very UN-flattering (to both me and my then-unfinished living room) picture stolen from this post of yore.
Fortunately, it’s nothing a little ethereal coffee can’t fix (or at least temporarily make me forget about).
A cup of coffee like this is just one of many IMRs – Instant Mood Rectifiers – I have tucked away in my little metaphorical box of things that make me feel good.
(Hey! I said metaphorical – get your minds out of the gutter.)
Those of you who’ve been reading this for any amount of time probably know another one of my major IMRs is music – especially music that’s being performed live – right in front of my face with each strum of the guitar strings entering a direct line to my veins. But since I can’t keep Jack Johnson or the Avett Brothers tied up in my hand bag (but wouldn’t that be interesting?), pre-recorded music works too.
There’s a wide range of music that can improve my mood at any given time, but there really are two songs that come to the forefront of my mind when I feel like I need a pick-me-up.
*I’m sorry the playback is restricted on my web page – but just click the link inside the video and it will take you straight to YouTube where you can listen to your heart’s content.
Melody, by Kate Earl:
Build Me Up Buttercup, by the Foundations:
I realize this second one makes no sense – especially since it’s basically about a girl who continuously dicks a guy over (or a guy who continuously lets a girl dick him over, depending on how you look at it), but there is just something about that song – and I’m almost positive that it has nothing to do with the cruel lyrics – that makes me have to smile.
This is but a small sampling of things in my bucket o’ feel-goodery, but feel free to bookmark this page if you have a moment when you’re feeling especially crappy and you need a quick – and perfectly legal – mood-enhancing fix.
I was hesitant about sharing this recipe today because while it’s certainly good, I think it could be improved.
(Well technically any recipe could be improved, but I like to post things I love and wouldn’t really change much.)
It’s called Pork Souvlaki and can be found here, but I just like to call ’em Greek Wraps. You know, to keep it simple. The pork in this recipe is cubed and skewered and roasted in the oven. Now, I might not have been crazy about it because I bought pork chops; however, I think this would’ve been really tasty (and worked better for the wraps) if it had been shredded, pulled pork. But that’s just me.
The flavor of these babies is fantastic. Because of my “Life ADD,” I’m always experimenting with different ethnic flavors. And I think Greek flavors might be among my favorites – oils, olives, and feta cheese. What’s not to love?
Speaking of olives, there aren’t any in this recipe. But maybe there should be. Because olives, in my humble little opinion, are one of the best. foods. ever. Green, black, kalamata… mmmm. I love them so much that when I was little, I used to ask Santa for cans of black olives for Christmas.
You say crazy, I say practical.
Now back to your regularly scheduled program. These wraps are pretty simple. Just cook your meat, prepare your veggies, warm your flat bread, and assemble!
You will need:
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry dill
1 tsp. dry oregano
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. boneless pork, cubed
Vegetable accoutrements (optional – I used red bell peppers and cucumbers)
Feta cheese (optional, but why wouldn’t you use it? It’s cheese.)
Tzatziki (optional, but highly recommended – this is a Greek yogurt/cucumber dip. I found mine in the deli section at Wal-Mart.)
1. Combine the first 6 ingredients to create the marinade for your pork. Or is it a rub? It’s kinda wet, kinda dry. A marirub? Rubamade?
This doesn’t look like a lot of wet/dry marirub, but it will cover the pound of pork quite nicely.
2. Cube the pork (again, I used chops, but please educate me, those of you who know your meats, about what kind of cut might have worked better for this) cover the pieces with your rubbinade.
Just mix it with your hands if you like the feeling of squishiness between your fingers…
Cover the meat and let it marinade in the fridge for at least 2 hours (but as with any marinade, letting it sit overnight would be even better!).
3. When the meat is ready, preheat your oven to 350-degrees F. Stick the meat tightly on some wood skewers, place them on a foil-lined pan, and let them bake for 30-40 minutes. (If I make it this way again, I will probably increase the oven temperature to 400 for the last 10 minutes or so to get the pork crispier on the outside.)
4. Meanwhile, chop up your chosen vegetable accoutrements and sauté them in a little oil. If you have a double-oven, these would be phenomenal roasted in a pan at 400-degrees.
5. Just before your pork is ready, start heating the flat bread on the stove in a pan over low heat. Get your other garnishes (feta and tzatziki) ready as well.
Tzatziki is the perfect accompaniment to these wraps.
And if you have to eat some of it with pita chips while your pork is cooking, I won’t judge you.
6. When everything’s ready, set it up assembly-line style.
Just assemble the wrap to your liking!
Don’t forget the tzatziki. Tzatziki makes the world go ’round. (Or at least it makes my world go ’round.)
Or you could put a little Windex on it.
JUST KIDDING. Do NOT put Windex on your wraps. Windex should not, under any circumstances, be ingested. But can you name that movie? (The title of this post might be a slight giveaway.)
The flavors in this are wonderful. If you try these and figure out a more satisfying (less chewy) way to cook the meat, please let me know!
I knew what I was going to name this post before I wrote it.
That never happens.
Or has never happened, I should say. Up until now.
I once read a book by Mark Haddon called, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. It’s written in the voice of a 15-year-old autistic boy named Christopher who, at one point in the story, expresses his dislike for “proper novels” because they are essentially lies. And the beauty is that his disdain for lies is not a question of morals – he doesn’t care that lies are wrong – what bothers him is the fact that while only one thing really did happen at a particular time and place, “there are an infinite number of things which didn’t happen at that time and that place.” And when he starts thinking of all of those things that could happen in a lie, they keep filling his head until he feels shaky and scared.
There are too many options.
And sometimes, that’s how I feel about writing.
When I try to write fiction – to make up a story – I become lost with possibility. I’m afraid to let a character choose a direction and get too far, only to find out that direction isn’t where I wanted him to travel at all. My head swims with the possibilities and I give up before I even start.
But blogging? This makes more sense. I can pick a topic on which to focus – or not focus, as the case may be – and just have at it until I’ve exhausted the details to my satisfaction. This writing is train-of-thought – typing the words as they run through my mind, with little thought of how they’ll sound or backtracking to make them be… better.
Because it’s something I have yet to accomplish, I admire those who can create a story, beginning to end, complete with developed characters and coherent, conceivable plots and inspire joy or compassion or hatred or grief.
I feel the same way about poets and lyricists – writers who can instill these same emotions or conjure vivid imagery without excess words. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found immense inspiration from just the right lyrics heard at just the right time. They have the power to find ways into your subconscious like water through cracks in cement and
Perhaps no one pays better homage to these artists than Arthur O’Shaughnessy in his poem, Ode. Although you may not know the poem, you’ve likely attributed its opening lines to this guy:
“We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams”
But it was O’Shaughnessy who first said it – who said what the rest of us feel but can’t express about those who create from scratch – novelists, poets, playwrights and musicians – those “wonderful deathless ditties” that leave marks on our souls (*if you don’t like poetry, pretend these are song lyrics):
We are the music-makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone sea-breakers, And sitting by desolate streams. World-losers and world-forsakers, Upon whom the pale moon gleams; Yet we are the movers and shakers, Of the world forever, it seems.
With wonderful deathless ditties We build up the world’s great cities, And out of a fabulous story We fashion an empire’s glory: One man with a dream, at pleasure, Shall go forth and conquer a crown; And three with a new song’s measure Can trample an empire down.
We, in the ages lying In the buried past of the earth, Built Nineveh with our sighing, And Babel itself with our mirth; And o’erthrew them with prophesying To the old of the new world’s worth; For each age is a dream that is dying, Or one that is coming to birth.
The poem is actually nine stanzas long, but you get the idea.
Think of some of your favorite song lyrics. How have they changed you? Defined you? Affected your spirit?
Maybe I’m just an idealist, but I think in the end, that this is the status for which all artists strive – perhaps not for the ability to “trample an empire down” with their words, but to make an impact. Inspire change. Become a “mover and shaker” of the mind of at least one person.
That – more than wealth, more than education, more than caste – is power.
Not something that scared me a little (like opening a tube of refrigerated biscuit dough), but scared me a lot (like hand-serving a select portion of my insides on a platter to Hannibal Lecter and, for some inexplicable reason, finding myself hoping he likes it).
I wrote something and submitted it to an online publication.
Well that’s not a big deal. You do that practically every day on this blog.
True, but I can write whatever I want on this blog. There are virtually no restrictions except for the ones I place on myself. And the people who read this are not under any delusions that I’m an “actual” writer – I’m just a girl with a blog.
Well I checked out the link and it looks like anyone can submit to that site. Just like anyone can write a blog. That shouldn’t be scary.
Theoretically, no. It shouldn’t. But this is the first step of a process through which I am trying to gain viable freelance writing connections and start building a portfolio. I’m trying to get them to like me. (And they will even more if you read my posting and hit “save” – you might need to sign in to the site to do so.)
Haven’t you ever been the new person at a job and you’ve had to head to the break room for lunch on your first day, frozen Lean Cuisine clasped in your nervous little hand, wondering how the hell you’re going to break the ice with these people?
I do love the blog. And I’ll choose to ignore the food comment. But honestly? This stemmed from a surprising little email I received with the subject line:
“Demand Media, Inc. sent you $7.88 USD.”
And I was all, Who sent me $7.88? In U.S. dollars, no less? And how do I get them to send me more?
Turns out I finally got a payout from Ehow.com for an article I wrote… I don’t know… about a year and a half ago.
But did the tiny payout deter me? Heck no. Turns out this is exactly what I needed to realize there is just a slight possibility that I could actually get paid for something I write. I’ve just never tried, because I’ve never known where to start.
Turns out you start by writing.
So that’s what I’m doing.
I know there will be rejections. I know there will be failures. But in the end, I’d rather have the feeling that I failed after trying than failing without trying at all.
Okay. I’m pretty much having an awesome afternoon so far. It’s too bad it’s gotta be dampened by the fact that I’ll have to go to work later, but we won’t worry about that just yet.
Right now I’m sitting outside, wearing short sleeves, doing this:
And earlier, on my way home from getting Thai food for lunch, I opened my car windows.
That’s right – while much of the country is struggling to dig themselves out from under massive inches of snowfall, I was able, through some miracle of being in the right state at the right time, to finally air out the Tracker after months of soaking in the smells of sweaty clothes, hairy dog blankets, and leftover pad Thai.
It. Was. Awesome.
What’s that? You thought the good news ended there? ‘Fraid not, my friends. Just when I was about to give up on the radio and pop in a CD, I heard this:
Oh, yes. Windows down, crankin’ some power chick music of the late ’80’s. I cared not about the bemused stares of the surly truck drivers I passed while belting out, I’ve been a fool before – Wouldn’t like to get my love caught in the slammin’ door. How about some information – Pleeeeease?
Straight up, now tell me – are you really gonna love ME forever?
Oh. Oh. Oh.
Paula and me go way back, and you can’t make me feel bad about jammin’ with her.
And it doesn’t stop there.
After Paula, I switched stations. And who should greet me, but…
…wait for it…
Un. Be. Lievable. I’ve never had this kind of luck when it comes to ’80’s music on the car radio.
Children behaaaaave… that’s what they say when we’re together. And watch how you plaaaay…
It was so naughty for the times. Or maybe just the time in my life. You know what I mean.
If you’re anywhere close to my age and this doesn’t bring you to a smiley place in your memories, I don’t know what will.
When I got home, I went digging through the bowels of my closet looking for a cassette tape my older (and much cooler) cousin Kris made for me waaaay back in the day.
And I found it.
*If you don’t actually know what this picture depicts, you should probably remove yourself from this blog immediately.
**Just kidding. Don’t leave. Hold On and Hang Tough. I Need You because You’re My Favorite Girl. I’ll Be Loving You because Johnny’s Got the Inside Moves.
It was my favorite cassette tape ever. I’ll admit that disappointment got the better of me for a second when I realized I have no actual way of playing this tape.
Because it’s not what I know – it’s how convincingly I act like I know what I don’t really know. You know?
But if there’s one thing I really do know, it’s that almost nothing will make your house smell better on a cold winter day than a baking loaf of banana bread. Except maybe Snickerdoodle flavored hot cocoa. But that’s more of an in-your-nose type of smell – not a makes-you-want-to-lick-the-walls-in-your-kitchen-because-the-snozzberries-taste-like-snozzberries type of smell.
But the banana bread? It makes me want to lick the walls.
Is that weird?
Banana bread is not something I never really set out to make. It’s just what happens when we neglect to eat our bananas and they start to get all brown and nasty looking, and then we really don’t want to eat ’em. So they either go to the dogs, or to the bread. Those dark, mushy, horrible-looking bananas are perfect for banana bread.
I actually mixed a bunch of recipes together to come up with this one. The nice thing about these dense bread loaves is there is definitely room to play when it comes to flavor. Think you might not want it as sweet? Cut back on the sugar. Think you want it spicier? Add more cinnamon and nutmeg. Want it richer? Add chocolate chips. Want it to have that disgusting texture that happens when you add nuts to something that should be smooth? Add nuts.
Anyway, my point is that you don’t need to make it exactly this way just because I made it this way.
Even though you should make it my way, because my way is best.
Here’s what I used:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 mashed bananas
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
If you’ve never made a loaf of dense bread like this, I’m telling you there’s really nothing much easier.
1. Start by preheating your oven to 350-degrees F. Grease and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan. You might be able to use that nonstick spray stuff, but when it comes to baking, I usually prefer good old-fashioned Crisco and flour.
Just use a paper towel to spread the Crisco around the bottom and sides of the pan…
…Then plop a spoonful of flour into the pan…
…And then shake and rotate the pan around (preferably over a trash can) until the flour coats the whole thing. Just dump out the excess flour when the pan’s fully coated.
Your grandma would be so proud! Except for the fingerprints you left in the grease. Grandma wouldn’t leave fingerprints in the grease.
2. Grab your really brown, overripe bananas and mash ’em up with a fork.
This should be fairly easy if your bananas are at the optimal level of ripeness.
2. In a separate bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of softened butter, the 1/2 cup of white sugar, and 1/2 cup of brown sugar.
3. Move the mixture to the side of the bowl, and add the 2 eggs.
Beat the eggs with a fork.
Mix the eggs in with the butter/sugar mixture.
Booyah! I just saved YOU from another dirty bowl.
4. Stir in the vanilla and mashed bananas.
5. In a separate bowl, mix together the 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg.
6. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture, and fold it in just enough until everything is moistened. You don’t need to overwork it at this point.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, pop it in the oven for around an hour, and let the heavenly smells commence.
About 50 minutes into the cooking time, the top started to look a little dark even though the center was still undercooked. This happens because my oven sucks. If your oven sucks too, just cover the loaf loosely with foil and commence with the baking.
You’ll know it’s finished when you insert a toothpick in the center and no bread boogers stick to it when you pull it back out.
8. When she’s done, pull the loaf out of the oven and let her cool for a minute or two before you remove her from the pan. (I suddenly have this inexplicable feeling that my loaf is a girl.)
Let her pose for a couple of pictures.
You know she wants it.
Before she cools down too much, run a knife along the edge to loosen her up and then tip her out onto a cooling rack or plate.
If you’re lucky, you can slice and eat while it’s still warm.
Immediately spread with a little butter or margarine so it gets nice and melty…
You know I can’t resist your sexy dance of seduction…