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Indecisiveness — not Curiosity — Killed the Katie

Hey, so remember the time I thought about decorating the office since I actually use it now and then a style quiz called me an alcoholic?

Well it turns out that quiz might have been on to something, because while I’m not an alcoholic per se, I would prefer to sit down and kick back a glass of vino while discussing the latest book I read over perusing the interwebs for office inspiration photos and staring at paint swatches.  Which is why it’s been… erm… 4 months since I declared I’d be decorating the office and have done exactly 1 thing:  bought a desk.

It’s not that I’m lazy.  It’s just that I’m so indecisive, I could probably spend so much time looking at  a dinner menu that the table next to me would have sat down, ordered, eaten, enjoyed some after-dinner drinks, smoked a couple of cigars, went home, had sex, and gone to sleep.

I never know what I want!  As the style quiz correctly determined, I’m into “Cozy… not oversized… a handcrafted gem.”

Yep.  That’s me.

I’ll admit it — I’m not hugely into the all-white/beige/cream trend that seems to have taken over the design blogosphere.  I mean, sure it looks gorgeous, but is it really all that practical?

For my lifestyle, NO.

I like warm colors.  I like comfortable.  I like reading a book in an over-stuffed arm chair with a crocheted blanket thrown over my legs.  I don’t love cleaning, I don’t own stacks of design magazines, and I definitely don’t collect little white ceramic animals and vases.

So why the heck did I buy this ultra modern, clean-lined, super white desk?

And more important, why am I painting another one to match it?

I guess it comes down to functionality.  I have a very cluttered mind, which, it stands to reason, would result in a very cluttered home office.  Therefore I think, when I ordered this desk, that I had a vision of a clean, minimal design, highlighting function, organization, and productivity above all else.

A room that screams, Just shut up and write.

Except maybe a little more tactful.

Something like this:

Photo source.

Or this:

Photo source.

Or this:

Photo source.

The problem?  These all require dark, bold wall colors, and I am not repainting this sucka.

I realize I didn’t clean up any of my junk, including the fugly dog kennel, but here’s how the office looks now:

View right when you walk through the door.  See that pull-up bar in the lower right corner?  Yeah… I can almost do half a pull-up now.  Probably because the pull-up bar lives on the floor.  Should I keep this painting?  I’m thinking I could pull some colors from it to use in the rest of the room.

Turning left… Yep, that’s my new desk, buried under junk from my trip to IKEA and an old office chair I wasn’t able to sell.  See that closet on the right?  There’s another one directly across from it.  I guess the architects designed it like that so there could be a window between to let more light in the room.  Those old computer towers in the lower left corner will be going away.  Eventually.

Turning left some more… Wow, that’s embarrassing.  Here  you will see no less than 3 camera bags sitting on the floor, my blue college trash bin, and a $10 bookshelf filled with… can you tell?… Justin’s Star Wars book collection.  I plan for the long desk he built to go on this wall in order to form an “L” shape with the existing desk.

Then, I think I’ll put some open shelving above the long desk with my IKEA file storage boxes, and maybe a bulletin board and/or some other organizational items on the wall in front of the short desk.

And one more turn… For some reason I neglected to take a photo of the wall to the left (or immediately to the right when you walk into the room.  It currently contains 2 more cheap-o bookshelves with my books.

So there you have it.  Here are the issues I’m willing to address:

  • Wall Shelves.  I’ve already bought the wood for 2 long shelves to go on the wall with the entrance to the room (above photo) above the long desk.  Should I stain them or paint them?  What color?  Remember, below them will be a white desk, and on them will likely be white boxes and magazine folders from IKEA.  So white shelves are not an option.  I’m all whited out.
  • Book shelves.  It would be a huge pain, but I’m willing to paint these.  Should we keep all 3?  I like the idea of setting up a “library” corner in the corner of the room you view right when you walk in (right side, first picture).  Should I paint them?  Should I keep them together?  Should they all go on one wall?  In the corner?  What?!
  • Lighting/Accessories.  I might be able to swing something by way of inexpensive desk lamp or ceiling light, but the budget is pretty tight on this project.  Like… nonexistent.  Like… I’m kind of at the end of my jobless grace period.  So I pretty much have to work with some paint and what we have.
  • Painting.  Should I keep that painting?  If so, where should it hang?  Should I use it for other colors in the room by way of accessories?  Looking through my Pinterest inspiration photos, I’m noticing a trend with a burnt orange color and/or a bold green.  Orange is in that painting; green is not. (*I take it back — green IS in the picture!  It’s in the leaves of the tree right in the middle.)  Here are some of my Pinterest photos:

Photo source.

I love this kitchen from the movie, It’s Complicated.  Maybe I could paint the book shelves a rusty green and have the burnt orange as an accent color somewhere??

Photo source.

Another photo with natural, rustic-looking wood has me thinking I should paint the book shelves a crisp white and distress and stain the wall shelves above the desk to look like the desk in the photo above.

Photo source.

White shelves with colorful books.  I could do that…

Photo source.

More wood, orange, and white.  I’m starting to see a pattern…

Photo source.

Hey, I’m more consistent than I thought!

Photo source.

Orange… green… wood…

Photo source.

This one’s slightly different, but I love that muted blue color, which also happens to be in the painting.

Let me ask you.  Did I already screw this up by painting the walls gray?  By buying/making white desks?  By being an idiot when it comes to design??


In retrospect, I probably should have tried to find a great piece from a thrift store and refinished it to get the used-but-loved look I’m pretty sure I like but have never been able to achieve (aside from the puppy teeth marks on my ottoman legs).  And I definitely should’ve come up with a design plan before getting started.  You think I would’ve learned with the kitchen!

Bottom line?

I need help.  And I’m counting on readers like TileTramp and YOU to help me.

So?  What should I do?  Besides say “screw it” and pour myself a glass of wine at 10 a.m. because it’s just an office?  (And that quiz thought I was an alcoholic.  Puh-leeze.)

Step 2

Good news!  I think I finally — finally — figured out what my problem is.  And it only took a highly complicated cocktail of conditions — nearly a year of unemployment, months of over-analyzing my situation, a bout of depression, more over-analysis, a breakup with a therapist, and this morning’s epiphany — to get here.

All-in-all?  I’d say it was worth it.

I was looking through a shopping list app I have on my phone.  You’re about to realize just how much of a freak I am, because while I do occasionally use it for groceries, the main list I utilize is my list of blog topic ideas.  As a “writer,” I pretty much carry a notebook with me wherever I go so I can immediately jot down ideas when I find myself inspired (which, unfortunately, usually happens while I’m driving, in the shower, or doing anything that virtually makes it impossible to write in a notebook).  But sometimes, when all I think of is a random topic for the blog, often triggered by something someone says to me during a conversation, I enter it into my little shopping list app and forget about it until I need inspiration for something to write about.

And this morning, after all of your super awesome and generous comments on my post yesterday (THANK you), the fact that some of you even thought it was good enough to share with your friends on Facebook (THANK you), the fact that I had more hits on this site yesterday and the day before than I’ve ever had without extra effort on my part (holy cow, THANK YOU!)… it really laid on the pressure.

In a GOOD way.

In a sense, I got stage fright — writing impotency, if you will.  And while that’s not necessarily a good thing, it made me realize that this site really is worth my time if, every now and then, I can come up with something people like to read.

So.  I needed a topic.  I referred to my trusty app, full of sure-to-please post ideas for the average Domestiphobia reader.

Among the most interesting are some of these gems:

  • Green Farm Show
  • Thunder from Down Under
  • Pink tissue paper stuck to my fingertips
  • Are your nipples easily fortifiable?
  • Why my POA (Property Owner’s Association) sucks

I mean, really — with jewels like that, I can’t figure out why this isn’t an award-winning blog by now.

But there was one, when I read it this morning, that had a highly profound meaning for me — a meaning that, for some unknown reason, was more significant over orange juice and a handful of vitamins than it was back when I first typed it out.

It says, There will always be someone better than you.

Now.  That’s not meant to be self-deprecating.  I know it’s not meant to be self-deprecating because I wrote it.

What it means, is that I need to chillax.  Stop stressing.  Tranquilla, as they say in Costa Rica.

Be tranquil.

Because the reason I haven’t sent any pitches, the reason I still don’t have a real job, the reason I’ve been stuck in this mucky mess of a limbo for so long is that I’m afraid that even when I put forth my absolute best effort at something — when I work my mind to its threadbare bones, when I emit actual tears of concentration, when everything in me would bleed if it could because I’m trying so hard — there is always someone who can do it better.

Who makes it look effortless.

Who makes me want to give up before I even start.

That fear — it’s paralyzing.

Impotence.  When, even if I could get it up, I’m not sure I want to.

But this morning I read that little note to myself.  A note which, undoubtedly, was originally written out of self-pity.

There will always be someone better than you.

This morning it has an entirely different meaning.  It’s a release on the pressure valve.  Because you know what?  There will always be someone better than me.  Smarter.  Prettier.  More eloquent with words.  Has a better blog.  Has a better career.  Has a better grasp of what she wants.

And finally understanding — and accepting — this fact is like an epiphany.  Liberation.  Viagra for my troubled mind.  For you Sex and the City fans, it’s like when that guy tells Miranda that the man she’s seeing just isn’t into her.  If he was into her, he would’ve gone upstairs.  He would’ve booked the next date.  It’s not as complicated as women think.  And Miranda’s all, he’s just not that into me.  He’s just not that into me!  It makes so much sense!

This whole time — this whole period since I quit my job, moved to Costa Rica, determined I wanted to be a writer, then sat on my butt and was mentally productive for 10 months — it’s like I’ve been climbing the steps of a downward moving escalator.

And now, ohmygod now I know!  All I have to do is ride it to the bottom and just take the stairs!  I can stop trying so hard to figure out ways to beat the best.  I’ve been fighting a fight I can’t win, and all it’s done for me so far is suck away time, energy, and drive.

I’m applying for jobs today.  Many jobs.  And I’m committing to a part-time writing gig I’ve been afraid to take (if they’ll have me).  And I’m going to get back on track with some other projects I’ve let fall by the wayside — things I verbally committed to but never actually did.

It’s important to note that this isn’t just a declaration, like all the others.  It’s just a fact.

Today, I stop being a turd.

*Every so often I take a break from the humor and get a little real with you readers.  The funny is me, but sometimes, so is the struggle.  And this blog isn’t just about making you laugh or giving you recipes or motivating you to take on home renovations or share my love of travel — it’s about me.  And because I know I’m not as unique as my 3rd grade teacher insisted, I think some of you can relate to this part of me, too.  Click here to read Step 1.

8 Simple Rules for Throwing A Baby Hot Tub Party

Well.  Obviously, I used up what little defensive ammo I had against this cold on Saturday during the baby party.  Cooking for 30+ people is not a simple task, and now I have no energy, no appetite, and, worst of all, no voice.

And me with no voice is like a dog without a wag.  A mime without a beret.  Carrot Top without his… top.

You pickin’ up what I’m dropping?

At least I have a voice here, where I can talk without actually talking, and you can listen while typing up emails, perusing Facebook, or answering important phone calls and I won’t even care.

But if you’re a man, and you happen to be reading this, you might want to set your distractions aside for a second and really pay attention, because I have a tasty tidbit of information you probably didn’t know.  This is top-secret girl stuff that Women’s Leagues across the nation would have me killed for spilling in a public forum.

So the 12 of you (women included) who read this need to keep this morsel of intel on the down-low.

Got it?

Men, you might be surprised — shocked, even — but I’m just going to say it.




Here it comes.


Women don’t like baby showers.


At least, most of us don’t.

I mean, even women who have babies don’t generally like to sit around in a setting of forced mingling with people they don’t know discussing different swaddling methods and breast pump boob deflation while tasting candy bars melted into diapers.

As far as I can tell, baby showers are a torturous tradition handed down through the generations as a result of it being forced on a small group of women 100 years ago when one woman came up with the brilliant plan of throwing a party to acquire more crap for her baby.  (And let’s face it, babies need a lot of crap.)  Then the women who were guilted into attending decided if they had to go through it, then they certainly could reap the benefits when they became pregnant, and so on.

And the candy bars melted in diapers, the blind tasting of baby food, the consumption of only non-alcoholic beverages as a sign of camaraderie to the impregnated woman — all of it conjured, undoubtedly, by some evil troll of a woman as her idea of some hysterical practical joke that, for some reason, stuck.

*Really, no offense intended towards any of you who happen to like these kinds of games.  With people you don’t know.  Completely sober.  But if you do, there might be something wrong with you and you should probably start a club or something so you’re all corralled into one safe place.

So.  Like I mentioned before, I’m fortunate enough to have a preggo friend who didn’t want to inflict these activities on her girlfriends and female co-workers.  She figured, what better way to celebrate her, her husband (because let’s face it — he played a part in this too), and the little bugger they’re bringing into the world than by actually making the party fun?  For real.

So here are my tips for creating a fun baby shower.  Except it’s not a shower — it’s more like a baby pool party, or giant hot tub, or at least a bubble bath with those foam blocks and rubber ducks and stuff:

1)  Invite women and men.  Men play a part in the creation of babies, so it’s only fair that they have get to celebrate their impending arrival as well.

Hint:  Given enough alcohol, you might even be able to get the most anti baby party goers among them to participate — albeit grudgingly — in some of the events.

2)  Serve alcoholic beverages.  This plays a huge role in determining the success of Tip #1.  When people who don’t necessarily know each other are forced to mingle, this really loosens them up.  Plus, they’re more willing to sport silly headgear and participate in any planned activities you might choose to have.

Hint:  Party hosts should only minimally partake in the consumption of alcoholic beverages.  The worst thing you could do, as a friend and a host, is to leave the guest of honor — who, if you remember, is pregnant so she has to be sober — high and dry because you couldn’t keep your mitts out of the booze.  And let’s face it — her husband likely (and understandably) abandoned her long ago to the frosty beverage, somewhere around the time he realized he’s — ohmygod — actually at a baby shower, but the bright side is he now has the excuse of drinking for 3.

3)  Serve non-alcoholic beverages.  People get thirsty at parties, and not everyone likes to drink alcohol.  So even though the concept of serving alcohol at a baby shower is new and exciting, don’t get so bogged down in that fact that you forget to service the sober people.  After all, you will eventually want guests to leave this party, and the sober people are their rides.

Hint:  Even so, buy extra alcoholic beverages.  If your party is anything like mine, the alcoholic stuff goes fast.

4)  Serve plenty of food.  Since people will be drinking, they won’t be able to survive on mixed greens and crustless sandwiches alone.

Bacon Tomato Tartlets.  Recipe HERE.

Mozzarella Caprese Appetizer.  Recipe HERE.



Not pictured:  Sausage cheddar meatballs, cheese fondue, assorted chips and dip.

5)  If you must have a theme, make it low-key.  Where the Wild Things Are has been a favorite book of Alaina’s since she was a kid herself.  Since she and her super talented mother already painted a mural in the nursery reflecting this theme, it served as a natural backdrop for our guest book photos:

It worked well with the invitations:

And worked for the game prizes:

I ended up filling these mugs — $1 each from the Dollar Store — with tissue paper and candy.

But that’s really about as far as we carried the theme.

6)  Keep at least one traditional shower activity.  In this case, we kept the part where the gifts are opened in front of the guests.  At some modern parties, gifts are actually opened as guests arrive, which can cut that hour where everyone has to gather in one room and watch as the pregnant lady lays onesies over her belly and discusses bottle nipple flow.  It also spares the non-mother gift recorder the embarrassment of having to clarify exactly what each item is in front of the entire room of guests.

However, in this case, we opted for the gift event, only at turbo speed.  The whole thing took 15 minutes, tops.  It helped the party planners stay organized by keeping the gifts in one place, it allowed us to announce the upcoming relay race to everyone at once, and it was the one event that focused the attention on the parents-to-be.

Plus, it was fun watching “Dad” trying to figure out what various items were for:

7)  Nix the ridiculous games.  Then replace them with other ridiculous games.

Like a relay:

Race starts by chugging a White Russian from a baby bottle.

Racers then push over-sized “Amurican” babies to the bathing station.

Using a baby bottle, racers must fill a bucket with enough water to float the rubber ducky to a predetermined line.  Please excuse my boobage in this picture, but I was taking my role of line judge very seriously.

Then the baby gets pushed to the changing station.

And finally, on to the swaddling station.

Once swaddled, racers should run with the baby around to the finish line.  Though I feel it’s important to note that you should never run with a real baby.

Let the winners celebrate their victory:

And let the losers be good sports.

(That means you shouldn’t hit people holding babies, and you shouldn’t use babies to hit people.)

8)  Have fun with it.  If you have fun with it, everyone else will, too.  And the ones who don’t, probably shouldn’t get invited to parties anymore.

Thanks for helping, Candice and Rachel, and congratulations, Dirk and Alaina!

Pulled.  It.  Off.

Flushing. But Not Another Post About Toilets.

***WARNING***  You probably shouldn’t read this post if you just ate.  Or are currently eating.  Or ever plan on eating again.  Thank you.

I’ve been hesitant to write this post this morning, not solely due to the grotesque nature of the topic, but because I have a rather large commitment happening tomorrow — nothing big, mind you — just a baby celebration I’m throwing for one of my best friends in the world and 30-40 of her closest friends — and I don’t want today’s subject to freak my friend — or the dear girls who are helping me organize the party — out.

So let me preface this by saying, I.  Will.  Be.  There.

My whole predicament started about a week ago when my dear neighbor (and she is a dear, dear neighbor) invited us over for dinner.  Fantastic!  Except when we arrived, she sounded terrible, and kept insisting the problem was her allergies.

Turns out, it wasn’t.

And apparently she must have licked all of my food, because I’m pretty sure I’m currently suffering from a wee bit of a cold.  I thought it might just be a false alarm and all I needed was a good night’s sleep last night, but that wasn’t in the cards because Capone decided he was going to be sick as well, and let’s just say that the nastiness coming out of his orifices was far worse than anything currently coming out of mine.


The bad news is it feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest.  The good news is I have a couple of cold remedies up my sleeve that, while I might be fairly drained during my prep work today, should hopefully fend this thing off long enough to ensure that I am a fully functioning team member tomorrow.

It’s important to remember that I am not a doctor.  Not even close.  But these are the steps I take whenever I have a cold, and they never seem to last as long as they do with other people:

1)  I know it sounds obvious, but I wash my hands ad nauseam when I have a cold.  Every time I blow my nose.  Right before I touch any food.  Any time I touch… anything.  All.  The.  Time.  To the point where they’re chapped and dry and it makes no sense applying lotion because I’m just going to be washing them again in a few minutes anyway.  This is not only for my benefit, but also for the people around me.

2)  I sneeze or cough into my shoulder — not my hands.  Think about it.  How much stuff do you touch with your shoulder?

3)  Switch out my toothbrush.  Just think of how many germs that bugger must be carrying.

4)  Vitamin C.  I load it up, baby.  Like 3 pills a day.

5)  And finally, my absolute savior, a sinus rinse.  Like I said, I’m no doctor, but not only do these puppies drain all of the gunky nastiness from my cold-riddled head, I do believe it also rinses out tons of germies that would otherwise still be swimming around wreaking havoc in there.

It consists of a simple plastic squirt bottle and some saline packets.

I warm up my water a bit — Just a bit!  You don’t want to boil your nostrils.

Add the saline…

And then squirt it on up.

Obviously, if you’re going to try this, you’ll want to refer to the directions.

Now.  I’m not going to lie and tell you this is a pleasant feeling.  Far from it.  You know how it feels when you jump into a pool and get water up your nose?  Well, it’s like that.  Because… you know… you’re squirting water up your nose.  But just like the uncomfortable pinch from a shot or a good ol’ eyebrow waxing, it’s a necessary discomfort that’s for our own good.  And, I’ve discovered that adjusting the direction of the spray (within the confines of your nostril, that is) can make a difference in just how uncomfortable it feels.

Plus, it’s kinda cool when the water — and other gunk — comes out the other side.

Just sayin’.

Don’t worry, I’ll spare you that picture.

I rinsed once this morning, and already I’m breathing easier and the elephant who’s taken up residence on my chest feels as though he’s losing weight.  So.  Fear not.  I’m doing everything in my power to not be an infectious germ farm come Saturday.  I will. not. let. this. win.

*Contrary to how it may appear, this post is NOT a paid advertisement for NeilMed Sinus Rinse.  That just happens to be the brand I picked up from the Walgreens, but I couldn’t care less which brand you use.  NeilMed did not pay me for this post.  Though if they wanted to, I could care which brand you use.

You Only Want Me For My Tartlets

I was kind of extra word babbly yesterday,  huh?  Sorry about that.  I can’t promise it won’t happen again, because I’m pretty sure it will.  But today I’ll keep it simple, because I have approximately 671 things I want to get done before Saturday, most of which pertain to Alaina’s upcoming baby shower party, and others for my own personal sanity.

I promised to share with you the absolute best party appetizer of all time — the thing that guarantees instant popularity at any function for the person who brings them.  They’re not fancy, and most “foodies” would cringe at their unapologetic use of dried herbs and pre-made biscuit dough, but for some reason, people just can’t get enough of ’em.  It is for these tasty little bites that I overcome my fear of refrigerated, popping biscuit tubes time and time again.

The recipe is called Bacon Tomato Tartlets, but you just might want to call them Tartlets in case you’re around anyone who has a fear of tomatoes or bacon.  Plus, “tartlets” is just fun to say.  Justin hates tomatoes, yet he would gobble up a whole batch of these if I let him.  And if you don’t like bacon, then I think you might have problems.

My fantastic neighbor gave me this recipe, and she got it from her fantastic friend, and I’m not sure where it originated before that.  I posted the recipe here on Tasty Kitchen, so go give me my first review if you make them!

But only if you think they’re good.

To make them, you will need:

  • 1 (12 oz.) can refrigerated, flaky biscuit dough (This HAS to be the flaky stuff.  You’ll see why in a sec.)
  • 6 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
  • 3 oz. Mozzarella cheese, shredded (I probably use more like 5 oz. when I’m guesstimating.)
  • 1/2 c. Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise (I’m pretty sure this has to be Hellmann’s.  Don’t argue with me about this, and don’t you dare use that crap they call Miracle Whip.  The only miracle is that it doesn’t make me vomit.  You have been warned.)
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic salt

You can see I used 2 Roma tomatoes this time in lieu of 1 medium tomato.  Just go with what you have — the ingredients don’t need to be exact.

1)  Cook your bacon on the stove until crispy.  Even if you normally like chewy bacon, you have to remember that this isn’t about you right now — it’s about the tartlets.  And the tartlets need it crispy.  Just lay the bacon in a cool skillet (I love to use my cast iron grill pan), turn the heat to medium-high, and let it cook in its own grease for a bit.  When the bottom turns brown, flip and do the same to the other side.

mmm… bacon.

Once it’s cooked, crumble it up on a paper towel to soak up the grease.

2)  Mix all of the ingredients (except the biscuit dough) together in a bowl.

*TIP:  At this point you can cover and refrigerate the mixture for a day or two before preparing the tartlets if you don’t want to make everything the day you need them.

3)  Remove the biscuit dough from the refrigerator (this step is easier to do if the dough is cold), try not to jump out of your panties when you pop the tube open, and separate each biscuit into 3 layers.  This is why they need to be the flaky kind.

See how they separate naturally?

Spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray and use each 1/3 biscuit to line each muffin cup.  There will be enough for exactly 24 mini tarts.  Aka tartlets.  Why is that word so fun??

4)   Fill each biscuit cup with your filling mixture and bake at 350-degrees F for 10-12 minutes until the biscuits are lightly browned.

Some might poof up more than others, but it’s very likely no one will notice since they’ll be gone in approximately 4.8 seconds.

And everyone will be like, Where did that extremely popular person go who made those delicious tartlets?  I think those were like… the best tartlets I ever tasted in my life.  Go tartlets!  Tartlets.  Tartlets.  Tartlets.  Why is that word so awesome?

And you can just sit back and bask in the glory.

Just try not to eat them all before you leave the house.

It’s Okay to Be Yourself (As Long As Everyone Likes You)

I think it’s probably obvious by now that I’m a little ADD.  ADHD.  ABCDEFG.  Whatever.

For example, I meant to start writing this post an hour ago, but instead I got sidetracked by looking up furniture painting tutorials so I could paint my hand-built office desk, which made me realize that the office desk really shouldn’t be a priority when I still have to decide on a menu and make a bunch of decorations for this Saturday’s baby shower party, which led me to searching through recipes online while concocting a partial shopping list, which made me realize I hadn’t uploaded some food photos I took the other day, which made me remember I wanted to print some photos to send to some friends, which somehow led me to downloading free Photoshop actions off the internet and trying them out on the aforementioned photos.

And now I’m hungry.

And I forgot why I started writing this post.

Oh, yes.  My inability (or flat-out refusal?) to focus on any one topic for very long pretty much guarantees the completely random, fickle assortment of writing topics you find on this lil’ blog.  One day I might be lamenting about how I can’t find a job and nobody loves me, and the next I’m passing out recipes for hummus or posting pictures of my knife-wielding neighbor at her 2-year-old’s birthday party.

It’s crazy in here.

What it’s like inside my head during an office meeting.

And usually, once I post about something that’s been plaguing me, it gets moved into the digital archives of this blog and removed completely from my mind.  My little mind elves don’t have a file system — once an idea is made reality, they crumple up the evidence, throw it in a trash bin, light a match, and toss it in.  Then they dump the ashes out through my ear.  So usually, the only way I can remember what I was thinking about yesterday is to look at the blog.

But there is one thing recently that has stuck around in my mind, for one reason or another.  It’s my post from the other day about how I’ve grown more socially awkward as I age because I worry that people won’t like my real personality.  It generated some intriguing comments of agreement, and one in particular (thanks, Greg!) that hit a nerve, stating that children have the admirable quality of not really caring what adults or peers think about their personality — it just is.  So, why does it matter when we’re older?

Etiquette?  Politeness?

Sure, I guess.  Everyone should be nice to everyone, and blah, blah, blah.  But beyond that?  What factors stipulate how we should behave in polite society?  Why can’t I laugh — loudly — at a restaurant if someone says something deliberately funny?  Why does the sound of adult laughter so commonly generate irritated looks from people nearby?  (Obviously, I wouldn’t do this every 2 seconds and interrupt other people’s conversations, but once?  What’s the problem?)

It’s times like these when I’m glad I’m not single.  Single people have it rough out there right now.  In a society where you’re only expected to act a certain way so as to “not give off the wrong impression,” how is anyone supposed to make any sort of impression at all?

Enter my friend Maria, and her obviously charming and hilarious brother.  (I don’t remember her brother’s name, nor have I ever met him, but I’m sure he’s charming and hilarious.)

Maria is incredibly articulate and intelligent (just check out her blog, which she hasn’t updated in way too long), laid-back, a world-traveler, and stunningly gorgeous.  Yet.  She had a difficult time filling out her online dating profile to reflect any of her uniqueness beyond the whole, polite, standard online profile clichés.

(I hope she doesn’t get mad at me for posting this photo, but I had to get my point across — the girl shouldn’t need help filling out a profile.  By the way, she’s not Indian, but this photo was taken of her this year while she was in India studying yoga.)

So her brother took it upon himself to write one a little less… stuffy:

About Me:

If you’re looking for someone with the brain of a supermodel and the body of a scientist, look no further! Here I am.

My name is Maria, and I am a Japanese/Mexican exotic gourmet blend. Born of human parents, it would stand to reason that I, too, am human. But am I really? I don’t know. I might just be a cookie monster.

An exhaustive account of all the facets of my awesomeness would be impractical—nay, impossible—so here are the wave tops. I’ve spent a lot of time in South Africa rehabilitating orphaned baboons. Whoa! Did you just fall out of your seat because you are so amazed? Calm down, partner. I’m just getting warmed up here. So let’s see… I was once featured on the Animal Planet TV channel, so yes, I do consider myself a celebrity (very famous). I studied yoga in India. (Shout out to all my mad-smart Subcontinent homies!) I graduated from Chico State with a degree in something. I think it was anthropology or animals or multiplication or something weird like that. I once woke up while working in the Costa Rican jungle with a tarantula in my bed, and I didn’t even care. That’s right. I didn’t even care. I said “Hey, buddy.” It’s because I’m a world-class badass, and I knew that the tarantula would get the hell out of there once he recognized my face (very famous). Once when I was a teenager and I worked at a movie theater, Kevin Mitchell—the 1989 National League MVP (duh!), came up to buy some popcorn from me. I was like, “Hey, you were my favorite player when I was a kid.” He came back like he was all offended and said, “Were?” So I was like, “That’ll be $107, please.” I also know how to properly use a semicolon. If you are one of those unfortunate souls that didn’t already know that a semicolon is used to join two closely related independent clauses, then you disgust me and you deserve to be trapped in a forest for days on end with no one but a Bob Dylan-obsessed fan who insists on singing his entire anthology in an all-too-accurate impersonation. And not the funny kind of impersonation. The kind that makes your marrow ache. THAT kind.

What’s that you say? For the love of God, tell you more? Very well, I shall. You should know that I love cats. Baked, boiled, fried… it doesn’t matter to me. In fact, I have two cats, and they’re looking more and more delicious every day. Now you might think from what you’ve read so far that I’m an animal lover. Well don’t jump to conclusions, Hoppy Hopperson. I draw the line at hippopotamuses. They’re fat, surly, filthy creatures, and they have no business interfering with my happiness. If you happen to have a pet hippopotamus, I will not consider dating you. Also, you’re in violation of several city ordinances.

For Fun:

I teach yoga & do massage, so clearly I love violent movies & video games. I also love riding bicycles. I ride normal bikes, but eventually I’d like to purchase one of those bikes w the enormous front wheel and the tiny back wheel, a la 1882.

Favorite Hot Spots:

Locally I like Bidwell Park, T.Bar, and my backyard (and not just because of the underground dungeon, which is admittedly charming).


Well?  Okay, so this is admittedly a little over-the-top, and Maria intends to take it down a notch to better reflect her slightly more reserved personality.  But you get the point, right?  Most people would be too afraid to post something like this because it might make them stand out.  It might turn people off.

But if this is who you are, and you’re trying to attract people to you, whether romantically or just friends in life, why would you want anyone who doesn’t like you?

I know this is way too long, and I apologize.  I meant to be finished with this 4 hours ago.  I guess my point is that I wish more people would just be real.  No more masks.  No more judging.  Just us.

And don’t worry — tomorrow will probably be a post about awesome little party appetizers or home office decor and I’ll have no clue why people are emailing me about the new Remove the Mask movement and how I can get involved, because my mind elves will have already dumped these ashes and moved on to tartlets and parsons desks.

My mind is exhausting.

…and the Husband Ran Away with the Toilet.

When I think about our huge guest bathroom remodel, my biggest regret is not buying a new toilet.  We replaced the old, yellowed seat, scrubbed out the inside with a pumice stone, and viola — the toilet looked new again.

Then it broke.  And still, it seemed the more economical decision was to replace the parts inside the tank that needed replacing.

Then something went wrong with the tank.  I’m not sure what, but it required the purchase of a new tank.

After that, the toilet decided it wanted to start flushing, on occasion, of its own accord.

And frankly, I was okay with that.  I mean… I only have so much energy to expend on a toilet, you know?

Then a couple of days ago, I noticed some type of store-bought packaging sitting in the bathroom with — you guessed it — toilet parts inside.  I guess some of my earth-friendly endeavors have worn off on Justin (or the water bill wore out his wallet), because he decided he no longer wanted our home graced with a ghost flushing toilet.

I thought it would be a quick job, but as is the case with all DIY projects, you have to account for the unexpected.

I try to do that, and I try to stay patient, but nothing — and I mean nothing — prepared me for the moment yesterday when Justin yelled from the bathroom, “Can you please open the door to the garage for me?”

Uh oh.

I walked over to the garage door and held it open butler-style, as my husband, arms encumbered with the disemboweled body of our porcelain God, ran past.

Apparently something was wrong with the way the toilet was screwed into the floor.

Apparently parts of our subfloor are now stripped.

Apparently this is going to be a much bigger job than we expected.

Apparently… toilets can also be metaphors for relationships. They’re always more work than you think, but worth the extra effort in the end.

Chatty Cathy — er — Katie

Is it just me, or do all people get more socially awkward as they age?

I’m pretty sure it’s just me.

It’s unfortunate, because it almost feels as though I’m rolling backwards through developmental stages.  I’m the mental — though certainly not physical — Benjamin Button.  It’s like I was born to mingle and network as a kid, when my mom would let me crash her social gatherings because I was such an adorable little adult, holding my own in conversations and, more often than not, hogging the spotlight with the only thing I really had going for me — my ability to talk.

And talk, I did.

But with time, it’s been brought to my attention on more than one occasion that chattiness becomes much less adorable as we get older.  Friends’ parents were always saying, “Katie, you’re too loud,” and people started worrying — justifiably — that I might say something inappropriate at a formal social gathering.  The very thing on which I’d learned to rely so heavily as a kid had turned into a liability.

Conversely, there are other times I’m told people want me present in certain situations to stimulate conversation.  When two different groups of people are brought together for an event — like a good friend’s parents and her soon-to-be in-laws, I’m brought in as the “ringer” whose sole purpose is to entertain via unrehearsed speech.  I suppose it’s because I’m not afraid to embarrass myself.  Or I understand that people are just people, and most of them have something they like to talk about.  I just have to find it and ensure them I won’t judge.

So sometimes I’m expected to talk, and other times I’m expected to shut up.  And these conflicting expectations have often been presented by the same people.

I’m still pretty confused about the whole thing.

As a result, I’ve started to feel all discombobulated when I’m thrown into a room with strangers.

Then yesterday happened.

Yesterday, I was not a great blogger.

Not just because I didn’t post anything, but because I didn’t take any pictures of the day’s events. Aside from the Annual 4th of July Parade, which is happening today, my neighborhood decided most of the night-time celebrations would happen last night, since most normal people — aside from those of us still somehow managing to leach off our marriage partners — have to go to work on Tuesday morning.

Except my husband.  Seriously.  If you want the type of job where you have the most days off ever, join the military.  Of course, the trade-off is that you don’t get to choose where you live and the government can send you into countries that tend to hate us whenever it wants, but vacation time is vacation time, amIright?

But back to the holiday festivities.  Justin and I decided to join my old manager from the bar and her son — Hey Danielle and Travis! — for some fun at our largest neighborhood lake.  We had a blast, but it did make me realize 2 things: Sun and beer don’t mix very well with me, and we really need to make friends with someone who owns a boat.  Boat friends are the best friends.

Then we headed back home so I could make some food to take to a party.  I did take pictures of the food, and it’s one of my absolute favorite party appetizer recipes in the history of ever, and I will be sharing it with you soon.

I was nervous about this party.  I’d been taking one of my dogs on our morning walk on Saturday, when I ran into some distant neighbors with whom we used to socialize a couple of years ago.  They live about a mile away, and we’d lost touch over time, not making the effort to walk further than “just down the street” to say hello.

They’re fantastic people.  They live right on the lake, and they have a boat.

Not that I would use them for their boat.

I don’t think.

They remembered my name, they said, because I’m the chatty one, but they couldn’t remember Justin’s.  I wasn’t sure whether that was a compliment.  But then they invited us to their party, which was going to have food, drinks, and live music.

Twist. My. Arm.

So we headed over last night, Justin toting our cooler of beverages and me armed with my favorite party appetizer ever.  I wasn’t sure how to behave since I knew virtually no one, so I figured I’d test the waters before committing to a personality.  We greeted our hosts, put our offerings on the food table, and plopped down on some lawn chairs to listen to the band.

When they finished the song they’d been playing when we arrived, I immediately started clapping and cheering.  Loudly.

I was the only one.

It became clear that they’d been playing for a bit with virtually zero audience appreciation when the lead singer gave me a big thumbs-up, an audible “thank-you” through the mic, and the base player mic-whispered, “tough crowd.”

They played another.  I clapped enthusiastically again, enticing a bit of accompaniment by some people nearby, and shouted, “You guys rock!”  A little fireball of a Mexican woman whom I later learned was named Carmen looked at me appreciatively and shouted, “Yeah they do!” before walking over to introduce herself.

Before long, people were approaching me asking if I’d made those delicious little appetizers.  And they weren’t afraid to talk to me because clearly, I wasn’t shy.  And I even decided to do a little professional networking while I was there, since the online job search has been getting me exactly nowhere, and it’s possible I have a lead or two there as well.

It wasn’t easy to put my fully outgoing persona back on for an evening after years of trying to suppress it into tolerable, toned-down submission.

But you know what I realized?  I think, for the most part, people like and appreciate the chatty Katie.  I know the band did.  The people who walked away with the promise of an appetizer recipe did.  And anyone who didn’t is probably a little too stuffy for my taste, anyway.  I’m friendly to everyone, and anyone can be my friend.

Is that really such a terrible thing?

I don’t like feeling socially awkward because I’m afraid to be myself.

It turns out in the end, a stranger at a party not liking me is far better than me not liking me.

You know?

…And then You Let the Flavors do a Happy Dance on your Tongue

I was going to lay out the office plans for you today (or lack thereof), so you could help me figure out what I should do in there.

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find the tape measure to draft a detailed scale drawing on graph paper (did I ever mention that I used to want to be an architect?), and a detailed drawing — to scale — is pretty much the only way I know how to do things.

If I don’t do it perfectly and to scale, accidents will happen.  Mistakes will be made.  Heads will roll, and the universe might implode.  And I’m pretty sure I don’t want that on my back.  So if the world really does end in 2012, it’s probably my fault because I still couldn’t find the tape measure.

So instead of all that, because I’m versatile, flexible, and easily adapt to obstacles (in case any potential employers are reading this), I’m going to share with you the most fantastically awesome recipe for hummus in the history of the universe.

What?  You don’t like hummus?  Hummus is only for hippies and Democrats?

Well that’s where you’re wrong, my friends.  This is an extra special spicy, smoky, chipotle hummus, and I dare you to not like it.  I tested some on Justin, who would normally prefer a more typical chip dip — you know, something less healthy — and he gobbled it up.  The flavors are a perfect meld of smoky chipotle and cumin combined with sweet sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers. There’s just a hint of a spicy kick, which is perfect for me, but you could always add an extra chipotle pepper (or two) if you prefer more of a punch.

I’m keeping this on my personal list of simple food ideas to bring to a party that people will love and ask me for the recipe and ultimately fulfill my constant need for approval.

The original recipe is here, and I didn’t change it a bit.

To make it (and trust me, you should), you will need:

  • 2 (15.5 oz.) cans of garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, drained (I read that you could soak these in water and rub off the husks for a smoother hummus, but that sounds like an awful lot of work to me for the same flavor in the end.)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tahini (I know this sounds fancy, but it’s just a sesame seed paste — kind of like peanut butter — that makes hummus… hummus.  I can find it at my po-dunk grocery store, so I don’t think you’ll have any problems.)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (You can find small cans of these in the Hispanic section of a regular grocery store.  You just use ONE pepper from the can for this recipe, unless you like things extra spicy.)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 (7 oz.) jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • 6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Whew!  I know that’s a lot, but all you basically do is throw everything in a food processor and blend, so it’s about as easy as it gets.  (Except in my case I don’t have a food processor, so I use my totally awesome hand blender… more on that in a hot second.)

Up front in the small plastic container is the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  I’d already opened the can to use a pepper for another recipe, hence the lack of original packaging.

1)  The original directions say to blend the first 8 ingredients, then add the sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and cilantro and just coarsely blend so your hummus has chunks, but I blended everything completely because a) My hand blender doesn’t really give me a choice in the matter, and b) I prefer it that way.

Don’t get discouraged if you open your tahini and it has separated into a hard, pasty substance at the bottom and an oily substance at the top.  That’s perfectly normal.  Do your best to stir it together, and if all else fails, just fill your measuring cup with a little of the paste and a little of the oil.  It will come together when you blend the hummus.

So I threw the first 8 ingredients in a bowl, and used my super nifty immersion blender (aka. hand blender) to chop everything up:

Should I be worried that all of my pictures lately are insanely blurry and I don’t seem to notice until I transfer them to the computer?

Public Service Announcement:  If you don’t have one of these immersion blenders, you should probably get one.  They’re perfect for things like this or soup, where you want to blend a bunch of stuff together without actually transferring the ingredients from the bowl or the pot.  And your dishware stays protected because the blade is surrounded by metal (or in some cases plastic).

I’m glad I opted for this stainless steel Cuisinart Smart Stick (keep those dirty jokes to yourselves), because I don’t need to worry about any plastic melting if I use this in hot soup.

The hummus actually tasted pretty good at this point and I could’ve stopped there.  But I’m glad I didn’t.  I added the rest and then blended again.

It looks pretty when it’s done.  A red-ish hummus with flecks of green cilantro.

And it tastes like a party.

I like to eat it with pita chips, but it would work with veggies too, if you want to get extra healthy.

I think you should make it to celebrate the birth of our country this weekend.

I realize I probably should have transferred this to a pretty bowl for the final photo shoot, but I was kind of too busy eating it to care.

Just so you know, it’s perfectly acceptable to eat this for lunch 5 days in a row.

I hope.