shhh... it's a secret

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I need adult supervision.

  
For example, it's 5:30pm on a Monday* and I may or may not be pretty freakin' buzzed. Actually, I'd say that's a pretty fair assessment, which reminds me of this post. Why? Because the circumstances are pretty freakin' similar.

Which brings me back to the main point of this post- I need adult supervision. Well, maybe not in the sense that I need an adult in the room when I use a knife ('cuz Lord knows I learned my lesson regarding knives years ago. Me and sharp objects DO NOT get along. Same goes for me and stairs, and doors, and narrow hallways, and high heels...). 

What I mean is, without another adult in my life, I fail to function properly. Let's ignore the fact that I still can't figure out how to zip up my pants after using the bathroom (yeah, I'm THAT teacher) or the fact that all my footwear are sans laces because I never learned how to properly lace a shoe (seriously, do they go under? over? I just don't get it!). Instead, let's focus on some other areas. 

I really, really enjoy living on my own, but without other adults in my life...
  • my diet would consist entirely of oatmeal, grapefruit, Good N Plenty, whiskey and ginger ale, microwave popcorn and beer. Bam! That's breakfast, lunch and dinner right there. Done. It is only through eating meals with other adults that I remember things like vegetables, or meat, or, I guess it could be argued, real food.
  • I would eat many things I shouldn't and totally suffer for it later. Like cake, which has eggs in it, which I can't eat. But, unless there's someone else around to say, "Oh, hey, April, it's too bad you can't eat this cake because it has eggs in it," I WILL TOTALLY EAT THAT CAKE. And then I'll spend the rest of the day throwing up. And then I'll have another slice for breakfast. I'm sure you can figure out what comes next. Good for you. You're ahead of me, because apparently I manage to block that part out every time I am left unattended and there is free cake in the room.
  • I forget to check the mail. First of all, the post office is pretty far out of my way. Like, all the way across town. It is only through my conversations with other adults that I remember that checking the mail is something I need to do... frequently. As in, more than once every two weeks. Granted, most of my mail is junk mail, but every now and again there is something important in the mail. Like free stuff. Or W-2s. Or important stuff regarding car insurance and your bank beginning to charge $8/month for your checking account previously known as, "free-checking". Which reminds me, I have yet to switch my bank and I still need to contact my insurance company...
  • I forget to take my vitamins. And birth control. I know. It's awful, but unless I have someone asking me daily, "Did you take your vitamins today?" I forget that that is something I need to do. And unless I'm involved in regular sexual activity with another adult, it does not occur to me to take my birth control regularly. Please, don't judge. And, might I add, that shit costs money, and unless you're having regular sex, that monetary expenditure might not seem as necessary as, say, ginger ale and whiskey. (and yes, I know you can get free birth control from Planned Parenthood, but have you ever been to one of those? If you're having sex, they pretty much treat you like a whore, at least in my experience they do, and who needs that in their life?)
  • I wouldn't pick things out of the trash. Okay, I totally pick things out of the trash, but who in their right mind throws away a toilet paper roll when there is still toilet paper on the roll? And when no one in your house is capable of purchasing toilet paper, this sort of thing is basically a sin. And furthermore, that vitamin that fell into the trash can this morning only touched paper, so, in my opinion, it's totally okay to pick it out and consume it. Just be thankful I remembered to take it this morning. 
  • I wouldn't eat things I find in my bed. Living on my own, I indulge in one of my favorite bad habits... eating in bed. As a result, I sometimes come across random pieces of food in my bed. Like popcorn, Good N Plentys(ies?) and stuff that initially looks like food, but upon consumption of said items I find myself spitting them out into my garbage can in complete and utter disgust. And then I question whether or not I'm normal. I suspect I'm grosser than your average bear.
  • I would dress like a total slob. We're talking holey jeans and t-shirts that are 3 sizes too big for me. I find that most of the time I don't dress for myself. When I get dressed in the morning, I always consider how many adult-like people I will be encountering that day. As well as the level of importance said people have on important aspects of my life. Like my career. As the number and level decreases, so does the style and cleanliness of my outfit. You saw what happened on laundry day, right? 
  • I would be less motivated in life. Not that I'm entirely motivated by other adults, but if they weren't in my life, I might not care if I have a full time job. Or health insurance. And I certainly wouldn't feel pressured to procreate or guilty for not wanting to right now. I would be perfectly content maintaining my current state of perpetual limbo if it weren't for pressure from other adults. 
Alright, well I think that's enough for now. I think my brain just quit. I also need a refill. It's okay. I'm on vacation. Have a good one, and since I feel like I need to include a picture in all my posts, enjoy this pic of me wearing free stuff.

(Quick! What show am I watching?)


* Yeah, you caught me. I'm pre-blogging or blogging ahead of time. What of it? I'm a busy girl. Procrastination doesn't just happen on its own, you know.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

But I thought everyone had this stuff in their cars...


No?

I recently rode in a friend's über clean vehicle (we're talking new car clean), which, I gotta tell you, impressed the shit out of me. I mean, this is a person who drives to work everyday, and on top of that, is male! My mind is blown everyday.

At any rate, riding in my car this morning I couldn't help but notice the excessive amount of crap I have in my car. I mean, I would be über embarrassed to have anyone ride in it with me (which, thank God, is rarely a problem). Let's ignore for a moment the inch-thick layer of dirt and dust and unidentifiable fluffy white stuff on the dash, and let's ignore for a moment, the piles of dirt and pebbles lurking in the corners of the car floor; there is a TON of crap in my car. I have, very conveniently, compiled a neat little list for you in support of my argument (if I had had my camera with me, I would have taken photos... well, maybe).
  1. an E-Z Pass (okay, well that's normal. many people have them in their cars.)
  2. a parking permit for work (perfectly appropriate. I use it every weekday. no problem here.)
  3. a parking sticker for a place I lived two, possibly three, residences ago (okay, well, that could and should probably be removed)
  4. 9 pens (yes, I counted. apparently this is where all my missing pens have runaway too. I mean, one or two pens in the car is very convenient, but nine? could be considered overkill.)
  5. a fishing lure (yeah, I'm confused by this one too. I don't fish.)
  6. 2 coffee travel mugs (I was wondering where these had wandered off to, and not-so coincidentally, now I know where that weird smell is coming from)
  7. medical papers (in my defense, I move ALOT, so my car is probably the best place to store important paperwork, so...)
  8. a road atlas (none of those fancy GPS gadgets for me. I'm quite proud of the fact that not only can I read maps very well, I can also find my way anywhere or out of any {ahem} "detour" with a road atlas. which I may or may not have had to do. numerous times. and in Jersey no less. If you don't understand the gravity of this accomplishment, you've obviously never been lost detoured in Jersey before. it wouldn't surprise me to learn that people spontaneously combust while trying to find their way around Jersey. I'm just saying. there's something not right about that state.)
  9. a pair of sneakers
  10. a collection of CDs (for those times when I forget my iPod and I wander into radio station dead zones)
  11. a first aid kit (huh. I forgot that was in there. good to know. you never know when you might need one.)
  12. glow sticks (huh. I forgot those were in there as well. good to know. you never know when you might need one.)
  13. hand-written directions (for those times when I need to travel locally and the road atlas won't cut it)
  14. cryptic hand-written notes (I can only assume these are coded instructions for finding the answers to all the puzzling questions in my life. and apparently a guy named Don holds the key. here's an illustration of one. you tell me, what is this?)

  15. skis, ski boots, ski poles and a ski jacket (because hey, you never know. incidentally, no ski pants. seems I've misplaced them during one of my moves. bummer. they were very cute with this pretty little embroidered flower right above the left butt cheek.)
  16. garbage (lots and lots of garbage. and no garbage bag. I need to remedy this. pronto.)
  17. a beer cap (there's a story behind it, I swear. it's not just another random piece of garbage. and I don't drink and drive. at least not at the same time. anymore. I promise.)
  18. a colorful plastic bead bracelet (made for me by one of my former students. it has turtles on it, which I like. I miss teaching.)
  19. junk mail (a nice big pile of it in my back seat. receiving junk mail always indicates it's time to move again because THEY. FOUND. ME.)
  20. lotion (the pump kind. I don't know why this is in my car. could be leftover from my ceramics days?)
  21. a pair of underwear (don't worry, they're unworn, and still in the package. in fact, I just found these and now I feel bad because I made the people at Victoria's Secret send me another pair when I thought they had shorted me a pair in my last order. the operator blamed the mishap on machinery designed by men, which was funny, and they sent me another pair very promptly, which I was happy about, but now I feel guilty because I was wrong. on the plus side I have a new pair of underwear!)
  22. two pairs of flip flops (I ♥ flip flops and cannot wait for the weather to be nice again so I can wear them)
  23. a wiper blade (still in the package because I couldn't get the old one off and didn't have a man around to convince to do it for me.)
  24. jumper cables (because you never now when you might need them. I have this fantasy of coming across some poor man who needs his car jumped but doesn't have cables. then I'll whip mine out and he'll be über* impressed by the cute, prepared blonde girl who came to his rescue. I'll save the day and drive away into the sunset feeling good that I am a strong and independent woman. of course, I don't know exactly how to use them, but that's besides the point.)
  25. fuses (I do know how to replace the fuses in my car. I know this because one blows all the time. it makes me feel really good about myself to get all dirty and grimy switching out the fuses. I rock!)
  26. a stick (I know there's a story behind this, I just can't remember what it was.)
  27. a pocket mask (you know, the kind you use for CPR so you don't actually have to do mouth-to-mouth but mouth-to-mask instead, because, you never know. maybe the guy with the dead battery needs to be resuscitated too. and maybe he has a nasty cold sore. you're gonna be very happy to have the pocket mask at that point.)
  28. an empty eye glasses case (empty because the glasses I wear for driving broke about four years ago. okay, well, they didn't break, they're just missing the screw to one of the arms. but I lost the screw and delayed taking them in to get 'em fixed. and then I lost the arm during one of my moves. I know I still have the glasses somewhere...)
  29. a Bose iPod speaker (what? that's not where you store your stereo equipment?)
  30. a blanket (preparedness, folks. come on.)
How nice. I unintentionally ended on a nice round number. Maybe in Sassy Curmudgeon-style, I should rename this post "30 Useless Things I Discovered in My Car When I Was 30." Or maybe not. 

How about you? Do you have any weird and/or embarrassing things taking up residency in your car? Please share.


* apparently über is our word of the day, kids.

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    Oh boy!

       
    So, I've been hearing snippets of this song on a Volvo commercial, and I keep meaning to look it up. Well, I finally did, and I really ♥ this song! It's "Oh Boy" by Miss Li. Enjoy!


    And for fun, here's another, "Dancing the Whole Way Home"...


    Doesn't that just make you feel good and happy and optimistic? I love spring! Alright, one more, "Gotta Leave My Troubles Behind"...


    Sunday, March 28, 2010

    I ♥ Etsy! (Pounce)

    Every now and again, I like to browse through the undiscovered Etsy shops via Pounce. You never know what you're going to discover. On my most recent Pounce adventure I discovered some pretty spring inspired items. Some blues. Some yellows. And of course, some flowers. Enjoy!


    1. Spring Green Necklace by Gipsy Dreamer  2. Vintage Wallpaper by The Painted Door  3. Cup and Saucer by Snoodle Ceramic Studio  4. Sunny Yellow Vintage Enamelware by Laughing Dragon Forge and Farm


    The following photos aren't really spring related, but I discovered them during my Pouncing and immediately fell in love. I have a penchant for the decrepit, decaying and deteriorating, so these images are right up my alley. They bring to mind the haunting album, Hospice by The Antlers.

    1. Hospital Wing Hallway by Nick Bianco  2. Cleanliness by Nick Bianco
    You can find more of his work here

    And so you have some idea of what I'm talking about regarding The Antlers, check out these videos. (try closing your eyes and just listen to the music. It'll give you more of that haunting feeling)



    Saturday, March 27, 2010

    Chivalry for the 21st-Century: The Dinner Date

       
    (photo courtesy of BreakupGirl.net)

    A couple of weeks ago, it was mentioned to me that I may possibly have a problem with men opening doors for me. I'm not entirely sure this is true. I have noticed that I don't enjoy having a door opened for me, but I'm pretty sure this is not a feminist/anti-chivalry issue. I'm pretty sure this has more to do with my insecurities and extreme dislike for attention, especially the attention of strangers. You see, whenever a door is opened, something happens that brings the opening of said door to the attention of the people inside the building/room. Maybe it's a blast of cold air, maybe it's the chime of a bell, or maybe it's a loud squeaky noise. Whatever it is, it will cause the occupants on the inside to turn and look to see who dares to enter from the outside. This is, in my opinion, unwanted attention. I would prefer not to be the person all eyes are now focused on. I would prefer to be the person still outside holding the door. (Yes, I may have issues.) 

    At any rate this caused me to do some self-reflecting (yes, I realize I do this quite frequently), and it also brought me to this conclusion (which has very little to do with my self-reflection and is really more of an observation)...

    Chivalry is dead. You may disagree, however, when one considers the true definition of chivalry, I bet you'll be more inclined to agree with me. For your convenience, here's the definition:
    Main Entry: chiv·al·ry 
    Pronunciation: \ˈshi-vəl-rē\
    Function: noun
    Inflected Form(s): plural chiv·al·ries
    Etymology: Middle English chivalrie, from Anglo-French chevalerie, from chevaler knight — more at chevalier
    Date: 14th century
    1 : mounted men-at-arms
    2 archaic a : martial valor b : knightly skill
    3 : gallant or distinguished gentlemen
    4 : the system, spirit, or customs of medieval knighthood
    5 : the qualities of the ideal knight : chivalrous conduct
    You, see? Dead and buried. Now, if we were to refer to the modern idea of chivalry, "Today, the terms chivalry and chivalrous are often used to describe courteous behavior, especially that of men towards women," I still must argue that chivalry is dead, or at least, dying. This is especially noticeable when dining out with a person of the opposite sex, a.k.a., a man. As an act of good-will and in the best interest of all sexes involved, I present to you...

    How to be a Gentleman while on the Dinner Date*
    1. Pick the restaurant. Or at least narrow the possibilities down to three options that I can choose from. There is nothing more frightening than having to pick the restaurant, especially if you, the man, are buying. I don't know whether your wallet is stocked for fine French cuisine or for greasy French fries. This rule applies to first dates, fifth dates and fiftieth dates. It's kind of romantic, so just do it. Plus, it will save a lot of wasted time, energy and indecisiveness, especially if it happens to be our fiftieth dinner date ("Where do you wanna eat?" "I don't know. Where do you feel like eating?" "I don't know. Why don't you pick a place." "Can't you just pick a place?" See what I mean? Ugh. Takes the whole romance out of the dinner date)
    2. Hold the door open for me. I know, I know. Based on my above rant you may be under the impression that this is not cool. However, being that we are on a dinner date, I have probably dressed up for the occasion and would like to feel pretty and attractive, and I'm looking for lots of attention from others. (Especially if you neglected to comment on how nice I look when you picked me up or we left the house). I know this is a bit confusing, but trust me on this one.
    3. Let me choose my seat first. Nothing bugs the piss out of me more than always getting stuck with the bad seat. Whether it be the chair in the unfortunate half table/half booth combo, the seat without a view of the TV, or the chair that puts my back to the entire room, getting stuck with the bad seat can ruin the entire meal for me. By allowing me to choose my seat first, you are showing me that you are concerned with my comfort and want me to have an enjoyable evening. If this means you can't watch the football game, suck it up. You could have stayed home and done that.
    4. Wait until I am seated before you sit down. Whatever happened to this act of chivalry? I remember my grandfather doing this. He would always wait for the women to be seated before he sat down to the table. I can't tell you how obnoxious it is to still be struggling out of my coat and you're already sitting down, perusing the menu. And for the love of god, would it kill you to pull a chair out once in a awhile?!? (Ooh. Sorry. I got a bit carried away there for a moment). Seriously though, these are both very romantic gestures. Doing one or both of these will show you are considerate and polite.
    5. Be a man, step-up and take initiative when ordering. This doesn't mean that I want you to order for me. God knows I don't want that. What this means is don't leave it up to me to do all the conversing with the waitress. I've been a waitress and trust me when I say it never looks good when the woman is doing all the talking. The woman comes across as bossy and controlling, and the man comes across as weak and beaten. You don't have to do all the talking, but when the waitress asks if we're ready to order or if everything is okay or if there is anything we need, speak up, please. (I should hope it doesn't need to be mentioned, but just in case, never, ever, ever flirt with the waitress. Even if you think you're being charming, you're offending me and creeping out the poor waitress.)
    6. Skip the appetizer. (Be forewarned, I'm about to discuss sex. If this makes you uncomfortable, skip ahead to #7.) Okay, regardless of how many times we've been out to dinner together, you know the moment the evening begins whether or not you'll be looking for sex after dinner. I know this. I anticipate that you may want to have sex with me later, especially if the evening involves drinks. Because of this expectation, I am carefully planning out what I will be eating. There is nothing at all sexy about the post-dinner bloat. The last thing I want to do after a filling dinner is get naked and participate in ambitious bedroom antics. Therefore, skip the appetizer, or better yet, let me choose. Soup? Okay. Salad? Okay. Spinach and artichoke dip served with half a loaf of bread? Not okay. Not only will I feel obligated to eat this heavy-on-the-stomach dish (knowing full well that if I don't, I may come across as picky or anorexic, and also knowing that you're going to keep insisting that I have some until I finally break down and do) this dish is going to sit in my gut all night long. And piling an entree, possibly dessert and drinks on top of it makes for a very rumbly tummy.
    7. Don't criticize my food and beverage choices. Don't pick on me for ordering fish at a steakhouse or skipping desert when my favorite is on special. Don't insist that I try the fresh baked bread or that I have just one more beer**. And please, please don't insist that I clean my plate. Trust me, I'm thinking of you here (See #6 for an explanation).
    8. Turn your cell phone off. This has got to be one of my biggest pet peeves. There is nothing ruder than you texting during dinner or worse, answering your cell. I don't care who it is, you're being inconsiderate. I will never do this to you. Please don't do it to me. 
    9. Wait for me. After the bill is paid and we are getting ready to leave, please don't high-tail it to the door without me. When you leave me at the table, struggling to get my coat back on and trying to round up my gloves, scarf, purse and what-have-you, I feel like a total idiot. Worse, I'm thinking bad thoughts about you. Please be patient and wait for me. Better yet, help me with my coat and offer to carry the take-home boxes.
    10. Pay attention, be understanding and be realistic. (Sex discussion warning) Don't assume I'll be ready for sex immediately following dinner. Give a girl some time to digest. Especially if you broke guidelines #6 or #7. And please understand, there will be nights when I will willingly break #6 and #7 on my own because I want to gorge myself on wonderfully good food. On these nights, I have very little intention of jumping into bed with you later in the evening. Make sure you pay attention at dinner. If you've noticed a lot of food consumption, please don't expect much later on. Of course, if you notice a lot of beverage consumption of the alcoholic kind, you can totally disregard everything I've just said and consider it safe to assume that I will want, no, I will be expecting, lots of wild sex of the dirty and acrobatic kind.

    * The "dinner date" has become a popular activity for couples in a long-term relationship as well as men and women who are simply "dating." These guidelines are appropriate for anyone, despite the length of time a couple has been together. In fact, they are highly recommended to those in a long-term relationship who are looking to keep the magic and romance alive.

    ** Unless of course, you are paying close attention as outlined in guideline #10 and are hoping for a certain outcome for the evening. Please be aware though, I'm on to you and I know when you're intention is to get me drunk. That doesn't mean I won't allow it to happen, it just means I'm not stupid.

    Friday, March 26, 2010

    A pretty picture for you

       
    This doodle is from my grad school journal. I like it. I think it's pretty. Once upon a time I envisioned myself as a tattooist. My journal is packed full of notes and what not, but every now and again, one of these jewels pops up. I hope to share more with you in the future. Happy Friday!

    (and my pretty painted pink toes!)

    Thursday, March 25, 2010

    I can't believe I forgot about this!

        
    A couple weeks ago I won my first giveaway, yay! I had recently started following the blog Along the Ausable. I used to live in Jay, NY so I enjoy popping over to Along to take a trip down memory lane. One evening I wandered over and discovered that she was having a giveaway! Along had recently made a discovery while visiting Devin's Garage and Deli*... jewelry! She was so excited that she decided to giveaway a pair of earrings to the first person to comment on her post. Of course, yours truly was the first person. Yay for me! (see, sometimes it pays to stalk people) Pop on over there, and read about it yourself. It's a cute story that reminds me of the small things I miss about living in small towns.

    Anyway, I had completely forgotten that I had won, what with all the chaos currently occurring in my life. So, I took my (bi) weekly trip to the post office today (I always forget to check the mail), and look what I found in my mailbox!


    Earrings! And a postcard of the Jay Covered Bridge! I was so excited. I rarely ever get real mail, and I rarely, rarely ever get packages in the mail! I'm thrilled about these earrings. They're so cute and they're green too! One of my favorite colors. I can't wait to wear them (I promise to post pictures when I do, of course). And check out the note on the back:


    Awe, thanks! This has made me feel nostalgic, and I feel like reminiscing about the things I miss about living in Jay:
    •  I NEVER forgot to go to the post office; it was right across the street! And I could walk there!
    • sitting on our roof on the 4th of July, watching the three, yes three, different fireworks displays over the river. And they lasted forever!
    • hanging my laundry out to dry.
    • the neighbor's HUMONGOUS cat. That thing was seriously huge. In fact, it woke us up one night when it was fighting an owl over a rabbit. The cat won.
    • walking down the hill in our backyard to go tubing in the river.
    • the sense of community.
    • music in the village green. We never actually went, but we could hear the music from our house.
    • the weather. It was so weird, but living in Jay was like living in a weird weather bubble. If it was snowing everywhere else, the sun was shining in Jay!
    • the scenery. I can't find most of my pictures, I think they're on my computer packed away in storage, however, I was able to scrounge a few up on this computer. It wasn't the most beautiful day, but I'm sure you'll get the idea. This was our backyard. Please disregard the date stamp. These obviously weren't taken in January. Or in 2070. If you want to see some prettier pictures, check out this gallery. Enjoy!

    * Devin's Garage and Deli is a great place. They used to change the oil in my car. And I could walk there!

    Wednesday, March 24, 2010

    You have but to know an object by its proper name for it to lose its dangerous magic. ~Elias Canetti

    (I'm not sure how this quote relates to this post, but it intrigued me and seemed relevant. This is Elias Canetti, by the way. If you're curious, here's some info on him. I didn't actually read it, but you're more than welcome too.)

    I was leaving a comment on the Facebook page of a former acquaintance this evening, and I addressed her, not by her real name, Laura, but by a fantastical nickname I used to call her, Laura Bora Baker Bean. I'm not sure where this came from or how it evolved, but it made me think about (and not for the first time) how often I call people by names other than the ones they commonly go by.

    For example, my sisters aren't Patty, Krista, Shelley and Brianne. They are Miss Patricia, Krissy Sue, Shelley and Weezie, or when she was under the age of five, Cutie. (You may have noticed that Shelley remains Shelley. I'm not sure why this is).

    There could be some sort of psychological or defense mechanism explanation behind this. Like, by giving others nicknames it helps me to maintain distance and removes me from the personal nature of our relationships (hey, that wasn't half bad. I just pulled that out of my you-know-what).

    Some nicknames were given to acquaintances by other acquaintances and therefore my use of them doesn't count for this discussion. For example, Hadme (Hadly), Glenjamin (Glen), Randoll (Randi), Joweiner (Jolene) and Ju'tin (Justin).

    Sometimes I just refuse to use peoples nicknames and insist on calling them by their given name. For example, Katrina (Kate), Benjamin (Ben), Gregory (Greg), Joshua (Josh), Lucas (Luke), Patrick (Pat), Nicole (Nikki), Melissa (Missy) and Daniel (Dan).

    There are other times when I prefer to just change the pronunciation of the name, or the way the syllables are stressed. For example (for the full effect, you have to give a proper amount of pause at the -), Andrea becomes On-drea, Amanda becomes A-mon-da, Allison becomes Al-lee-son, Katie becomes Kay-tee and Brandi becomes Bran-die.

    Sometimes I like to add syllables. For example, Shannon becomes Shanannon, Tara becomes Tarara and Sara becomes Sarara.

    And then there are the ones that are the result of some bizarre play-off of their given name. For example, Terra T (Terra), Topher (Christopher or Chris), Bessy Bess Bess (Bess), Cessy Lee (Celeste), D (Dustin), Benny Bugger (Benjamin or Ben), Owen B'dowen (Owen), Chadio (Chad), Amarie (Amy), Whitler (Whitney), Leroy (Larry), Charlie Barley (Charles or Charlie), and of course, Laura Bora Baker Bean (Laura).

    I'd like to think that there's no harm in my weird nickname assignments (or lack there-of). I hope no one is ever offended by them. I'm still not sure why I do it. Maybe because it's impossible to assign a nickname to my name? Although, I did have a roommate who used to call me Ape-ball and a coworker who called me Avril. Maybe it's my form of payback for all the bad jokes I've had to endure as a result of my name? 

    I don't know what the logic behind it is, but what about you? Have you ever given or been given a nickname before? Can you explain why?

    UPDATE: Upon further reflection, this could, quite possibly be, a very annoying habit. Some of these "nicknames" are just ridiculously obnoxious. How is it I still have friends. Now that I think about it, none of my current friends have nicknames. Interesting. This could explain a lot...

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Mountain Getaway

      
    I just returned from a weekend back home in the mountains. I haven't been home to visit since... uh... well, I'm embarrassed to say I don't know when I was there last. Maybe last August? Or was I there for Thanksgiving? I don't remember. I wish I could say it was purely a social/catch-up/self-reflection visit, which it was, but I also went home to attend the wake of the mother of one of my good girlfriends from high school. It's hard to imagine that we're at the point where worrying about our parents and their health has become a part of our lives. I still have a hard enough time coping with the idea that most of my high school classmates are married or have children or are going through divorces or all of the above. I, as you may or may not know, have yet to reach any of those stages or milestones yet (ever?). It's hard to imagine we're going to have to start dealing with losing our parents.

    So, Friday night my sister, a good friend of ours and I attended the wake. There were some familiar faces in attendance, and while it was good to see them, it certainly wasn't the best of circumstances. Part of the evening was spent reminiscing, part was spent crying, or more accurately, bawling, and the other part was spent discussing breast feeding, Dora the Explorer, potty training, and... well, I don't really know because I stopped listening at breast feeding. I had originally planned on returning to NP on Saturday, but I was easily persuaded to stick around for "girls night out" (which, I am sad to say, is nothing at all like "girls night out" used to be) on Saturday evening. I also liked the idea of spending another day with my nephews. Here's a pic of Owen B'dowen telling me to, "Shhhh. Be quiet" because his brother was sleeping:


    I had forgotten how deliriously giddy and stupid my sister and I can get when we're tired and haven't been around each other in a while. I've been told we have our own weird system of communication. We probably do, but when you've known someone since conception, I guess that can probably happen. Here's a pic of my sis when I was trying to show Owen B'dowen how the smile function on my camera worked. For those of you who don't know how this works, the camera can recognize when people are smiling and then automatically take a picture. For some reason though, the camera wouldn't recognize my sister's smile, but would instead snap away whenever she made a goofy face (I'm posting the tamest pic):


    On Saturday, I was able to enjoy some of the previously unacknowledged (by me) perks of the mountains, no internet (well, my mom has dial-up, but that's so painful, she might as well not have it), no cell coverage and no television (again, my mom has a dish, but her tv is so small and old, she might as well not have one). In other words, complete isolation with very few distractions. This was something I hated about the mountains when I was growing up, but as an adult, with a ton of work to do, this was actually quite welcoming. My sister had hauled the boys off to a birthday party, so I was able to complete a few hours of work in silence. I think there's something to be said for the whole recluse in the mountain cabin thing. If I had a mountain cabin, I'd spend the next two weeks in it to get this thesis completed on time.

    Saturday evening, my sis and I ventured out in a small caravan of minivans, sedans and SUVs to the middle of nowhere and drank around a bonfire campfire pile of coals with about five girls we graduated high school with (and the band members of E'town Express, as well as a few other folks). There was more reminiscing, and of course, more kid talk (yawn). The evening made me realize two things: 1. I miss having close friends, especially my high school girlfriends. They were the absolute best, and 2. I have very little in common with them anymore. Oh, they're pretty much the same people as they were in high school, a little more mature with a few more laugh lines, but, for the most part, I can't relate to their lives (read: kids, marriage, divorce). We were able to bond over our latest (mostly failed, or failing) adult relationships. We commiserated over our unemployment woes and reflected on the fact that we were entering (in the case of my sis and I, have entered) our 30s, and for the most part, none of us find ourselves where we thought we would be at this point in our lives. Now that I reflect back on it, I guess we do have more in common than I thought. All in all, it was good times. A little chilly, sure, but no one's shoes caught on fire, the police didn't show up, and no one fought over anyones boyfriend. Isn't it amazing what age can do? Just for fun, here's a pic of a "girls night out" in high school. Please, by all means, be embarrassed for us. Fashion didn't seem to exist back then:


    Good times. So, this morning I woke up to snow. It is only March, you know. It's been known to snow in the ADKs in May, so this shouldn't have been that big of a surprise to me, but I feel like I've been gone for so long I had forgotten about this type of weather pattern (it had been sunny and in the mid-60s the day before). It was good to get back to the 72 degrees in NP. Overall, the weekend was good for my mental health. I reconnected with some good friends, saw my favorite nephews, completed some thesis work and was able to clean out some of the cobwebs in my head and do some spring cleaning/organizing in there. I hope everyone else out there in blogland had a productive weekend as well!

    OH! I almost forgot! You know how I have a not-so secret, long-standing crush on Christian Slater? Well, I was pleasantly surprised to catch a repeat episode of My Name is Earl Friday guest-starring none other than Mr. Slater. And when I returned home tonight, and decided to turn on the TV around 8:50pm, low-and-behold, there he is again! On Extreme Makeover:Home Edition (which I don't actually watch, but I suffered through ten painful minutes of a very scary looking, spasing Ty for two brief glimpses of Christian)! Why didn't I know about this?

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Yeah, I know, I'm slacking.

        
    Sorry, but I have other things on my mind right now. In the meantime, enjoy this video. It should brighten your day.


    And here's another. Just because I love everything about this video. Trust me, you will too.


    I promise to return to (happy) blogging as soon as I get some things in my life back in order. Hope everyone is enjoying the beautious weather!

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

       
    So, I told you how I like change, right? Yeah, well, I'm sure you've noticed some more changes have been taking place. It's a process. Feel free to let me know what you think. 

    In the meantime, enjoy some Bowie... again.

    The Most Expensive Cupcake EVER!!

    ...but also the yummiest! After a really rough weekend and a bout of some really bad winter weather blues, I needed a pick-me up. I had seen this post about some St. Patrick's Day inspired goodness. It's been awhile since I've baked, which always makes me happy, but the kitchen where I'm living right now is less than motivating and I just haven't had the ambition to bake. I'm one of those obnoxious people who insists on baking entirely from scratch, so whipping up a batch of cupcakes isn't a quick little task.

    At any rate, I thought this week would be perfect for trying to bake something egg-less (my first time) and bake something in honor of St. P's Day. As you can imagine, Sprinkle Bakes' Guinness Chocolate Pudding is certainly not something that would be easy to make egg-less, so I thought I'd aim a little lower. I knew Guiness Chocolate cupcakes exist because of a post I did over on The Bitter Blonde about them, so I was motivated to dig-up a recipe for something similar. After a quick Google search, I came across a recipe for Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Bailey's Frosting at the blog Chew On That. Yum! Apparently this recipe originated with the Smitten Kitten, which Chew On That so kindly provided a link to, which I so kindly checked out. Now, I'm a visual learner, so while I started with Chew On That, I ultimately chose to use the post at the Smitten Kitten. Alright, now that we have the proper references and citations taken care of, let's get on to the good stuff! Oh, whoops, I forgot one. Since I can't do eggs, I decided to be adventurous (one of my New Year's "Resolutions") and attempt to doctor the Guinness recipe and make it egg-less. I used this recipe as a reference.

    First off, I need to note that these cupcakes took FOREVER to make (like 3-4 hours). Of course, this included cool time and busted pastry bag emergency repair time and so on and so on. Now, the reason I deemed this the most expensive cupcake EVER is because it cost me nearly $100 before I even started. Before you panic, let me note that I am working without any of my bake ware so I had to pick up some necessary items (like cupcake tins and decorator's tips and bags...). I also needed to purchase the necessary Jameson, Bailey's and Guinness for this recipe, since these aren't things I normally have on hand (You're surprised by this, aren't you? Yeah, me too.) Of course, I could have opted for cheaper brands, but when it comes to baking, I believe in quality ingredients and splurged for the brand name liquors. You may not be aware, but liquor stores carry smaller, cheaper bottles of liquor, but I'm a comparision shopper, and the bigger bottles turned out to be more bang for my buck. I'm sure nothing will be wasted.

    In my typical How-To style, I'm providing you with a visual step-by-step of the process. You can look up the instructions on your own, right? I will, however, provide the ingredients list at the end since I altered it a bit from the original recipe.

    (prepped and ready to start, apron and everything. My roommate told me that I looked like I knew what I was doing because I had an apron on. This apron was custom made for me by my sis. Maybe she'll make you one too. She doesn't offer them on her Etsy shop, but ask, you never know. Tell her I sent you. Did I mention it's reversible? No? It is. Oh! The earrings were made by her too.)

    (I know I said I believe in quality ingredients, and I do, but I also believe in free ingredients, and some of these were already available in my pantry.)

     (my new love. This beauty belongs to my landlord. It's definitely going to be on my Christmas list this year! I love it in Green Apple, of course, this could just be the Irish overload talking.)

    (butter, beer and cocoa powder! This is the most heavenly smell ever!)

     (You're probably shocked by the sparkling clean surface, right? One of the key habits of a successful baker is keeping a clean work space!)

    (Check out this cute cupcake liners! Apparently, if you get on your hands and knees and look at the back of the bottom shelf in the baking section, you can find little treasures like these! On a personal note, I'm partial to the foil cups. They're sturdier and they tend to bake up better. Don't worry, you'll see what I mean later on. I mixed and matched my cups.)

     (In the oven! A gas oven, no less. I haven't used one of these babies since my Mom's house. Yes, I purchased disposable trays. I have learned in the past that good bake ware and cook ware doesn't mix well with multiple housemates.)


    (See what I mean? The foil liners hold their shape so much better. In case you're wondering, I doubled the paper liners because I didn't want to lose the cool plaid design, which frequently happens with chocolate batters.)

    (This just felt SO wrong to me when I was doing it. I mean, I was removing the BEST part of the cupcake! In case you're wondering, I didn't have a fancy tool to do this. I used a grapefruit knife and a teaspoon measuring spoon. Hey, it did the trick!)

    (I know what you're thinking, Damn! That's a big knife! Yeah, well, with everything else in life, I believe bigger is better.)

    (This was a new process for me, and I was surprised at how well it worked! A side-note, if you accidentally picked up unsweetened bakers chocolate like I did, you might need to add some confectioner's sugar at this point. If you add some sugar, that'll thicken your ganache, meaning you'll need to add some more liquid, i.e. Jameson! A win-win.)

    (The picture quality sucks, but you get the idea. The ganache will set up, but you might need to smooth it out before it does.)

    (Starting the frosting. This is the BEST frosting I've ever had! Of course, by this point, I had probably already consumed half a Guinness and a shot of Jameson, so...)

    (The color of this frosting was beautiful. This pic sort of represents it, but not quite.)

    (Alright, at this point, I was SUPER discouraged. My pastry bag kept busting and I had to repair it with masking tape. I was also highly disappointed to discover that the kit I bought didn't have the tip I wanted. Plus, I didn't have orange food coloring, so I had to make it, and I wasn't able to "paint" the color on the inside of the bag like I usually do because the interior of my decorator's bag was apparently coated with Teflon or something equally non-stick so my stripes, which are usually super cool, were pretty blah. Definitely not my best decorating job, but hey, it's not like your stomach cares what they look like, right?)




    So, as promised, here's the ingredients for the recipe, as altered by me. Here's the original, just in case you forgot it was posted above.

    For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes:
    1 cup Guinness
    1 cup butter (the original calls for unsalted, but I used salted and omitted the salt step. While some people, for health reasons, like to omit the salt altogether, I have found that the addition of salt really makes a difference)
    3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (the recipe recommends Dutch-process, but I couldn't find any)
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 cups sugar
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    2/3 cup sour cream
    4 teaspoons vinegar (in lieu of the eggs. I added it at the same point as the recipe calls for the mixing in of the eggs)

    For the Jameson Ganache:
    8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (my only options were unsweetened and sweetened, I used unsweetened, so if you use sweetened, you don't need to add the sugar)
    2/3 cup heavy cream
    2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
    2 to 3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
    1 1/2 shots Jameson

    For the Bailey's Frosting:
    3 to 4 cups confectioner's sugar (I used all 4 because I upped the amount of Bailey's)
    1 stick butter, at room temperature
    3 to 4 tablespoons butter

    If you make these, let me know how they turn out! I happen to really enjoy them. I tried a "damaged" cupcake straight out of the oven and it tasted just like a brownie! Score! By the way, my Pandora radio station was set to The Kinks and I rocked out to some great British tunes during baking (probably not appropriate for an Irish baking session, but...). 


    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    I am a golden god(dess)!*

     
    .... and I make golden creatures!


    Stay tuned for a possible future project with these guys! And they'll be joined by friends. It'll be a grand ole woodsy time!

    (If you want more of an explanation of this process, click here. I did use the gold leaf included in the kit on these creatures.)

    *If I have to explain this reference to you, you might as well just stop reading now and walk away. We can no longer be friends. 

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    Golden Girl*

     
    As a sort of homage to the Oscars(sort of) on Sunday night, I experimented with gold leafing. There were a few things I learned while experimenting with the joys of gold leafing:
    1. Safety first (technically, I learned this while glass etching)
    2. Gold leafing involves a huge time commitment as you need to wait an hour between each step (which made it the perfect project to work on during the Oscars. That show is long!)
    3. This shit is addicting!!
    4. If you have any perfectionist in you (and God help me, I do!), this might not be the project for you, but if you can get past the fact that your results won't be perfect (and this is where my stubbornness really helped), you can gold leaf ANYTHING!!
    5. You should not gold leaf while in bed (just one more thing to add to my long list of things that should not happen while in bed)
    6. Did I mention this shit is addicting? Yeah, it is.
    Please enjoy this visual step-by-step of my Sunday evening. Enjoy!

    (safety first! gold leafing is stinky!)

    (the supplies. I used Rex Art Gold Leafing Kit. This is a six step process, but I skipped the antiquing step)

    (the gold leaf. this isn't the gold leaf that came with the kit. I can't remember what kind this is and I can't find it. it's possible it's no longer available)

    (the first step. these are my 3-D glasses I swiped from the theater after watching Avatar. I think you were technically suppose to return/recycle them, but the movie was LONG and I wanted a souvenir.)

    (prepping my otter. remember? I bought him at Michaels)

    (gold leaf applied. this is like, step three)

    (drying after applying step 4, the sealer)

    (modeling my new glasses! I intend on adding some more decorations to these, so stay tuned! after all, if you're forced to sit through long, sci-fi, 3-D movies, shouldn't you be rockin' some cool shades? I think so)

    (my Cabbage Patch was jealous and wanted to try them on too)

    (they look SO much better on her!)

    Hope you enjoyed this! After gold leafing on Sunday, I was motivated to do some more later on. I'll definitely show you pics of those later!

    * How perfect! I just noticed that this is my 50th post! Hurray for the golden one!
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