Week 17 – The One With Science Experiments

Growing up, my little brother was the king of science experiments. When he wasn’t digging holes in the field next door, setting things on fire in the street, or doing something else so very boyish, he was taking samples of various household products – mostly from my collection of everything Bath and Body Works – mixing them in an old shampoo bottle, and letting them ferment for an indeterminate amount of time. He called these shampoo bottles of doom his “science experiments” and he littered our shared bathroom counter with them for years.

I can only assume he was hoping he would concoct something that would accidentally react explosively but nothing exciting ever came of these experiments. Mostly they just smelled bad and looked like some terrible brown Gak spawn. I was at least thankful that he only took the caps off the bottles to test their progress occasionally, and that the bottles were opaque so I was not subjected to the sight of slowly growing mold while brushing my teeth twice daily.

Regardless of odor or appearance, my reaction to my brother’s “experiments” was always over-the-top disgust… much like the reactions from The Guy I Married to this week’s Pinventure…

infused vinegar tutorial from tipnut, click through for the Pin and the link

My little glass bottles of disintegrating orange peels and basil leaves were so terrifying, TGIM made me hide them in our pantry. I guess I don’t blame him… if you stare at it long enough it does look like something that could grow legs and smother you while you sleep.

creepy

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I am So Over That Shizz – Fishing for Compliments

And now, I take a moment to write about shizz that fills me with great dismay.

I get it, girls on Facebook. Swimsuit season has snuck up on you (again) and you are frantically trying to hold yourself accountable for your years of terrible food choices and sedentary activity. You are huffing around the neighborhood and expecting overnight results. Or maybe you’ve been at it longer. Maybe you’ve completely changed your lifestyle and you’re damn proud of it.

There are plenty of people who adopt life-changing dietary and/or exercise habits all the time. As a rule, unless they are being paid, if these people require some sort of form of accountability, they do the sensible thing and start a blog about it. Sometimes, they post progress pics outside of blogs, and that’s no big deal. They might even spam their social networks with their daily weigh ins, food diaries, and their measurements as a way to keep track of themselves, and while there are better ways to do this that I wish these people would consider (see: start a blog), that doesn’t bother me quite so much as someone who posts a new picture close to every day and openly wonders why they all of a sudden look so much thinner than they did a few months ago. Is this a rhetorical question?

No, it’s not. You have cast a line fishing for virtual validation, and I will not enable you.

I discovered that this fishing epidemic seems to be a common point of commiseration for people with humility and self esteem. After speaking with friends who, like me, have navigated their own weight loss journey in the social media age with quiet grace, they agree with me: compliment fishing is not cute. When faced with a positive comment about their newly svelte frame on a recent photo, merely responding succinctly with a “thank you!” is all a lady needs to do.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just a grown up who doesn’t need validation from anyone but my own damn self. I realize that not everyone has that kind of attitude – some people never will. But like Nike says – and you should know because you just bragged about the new Nike kicks you bought for all the new running you are going to do - just do it. Actions are louder than words and whatnot.

When I am bombarded with something that irksthefuckingshitoutofme to the point that I will hide updates from people on Facebook (or just defriend them, because how did these people get on my friends list anyway?), I sometimes indulge in a little graphic therapy. So I made this, because this is how I feel about trolling for virtual pats on the back.

Basically what I’m saying is… sincere compliments given voluntarily > compliments you fish for from acquaintances. Truth. And please note I said compliments, not encouragement. There is a difference.

Feel free to use this image however you like (as long as you link back to me). Make it your desktop wallpaper, whatever. You can even grate it over your salad, take a picture of it, and post it on Facebook, and Twitter, and Instagram. Then ask for people to like it, heart it, leave commenttttttsssssssss. Everyone likes it when you ask them to tell you how awesome you are. That doesn’t scream desperate at all.

Is compliment fishing an unfortunate byproduct of a very public social media age? Probably. Is this something that has been going on since long before the invention of the Internet? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean I have to have a gram of respect anyone who openly practices it. Putting your life out there is one thing. Compliment fishing is something completely different, and I am so over that shizz.

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Week 16 – The One Where The Guy I Married Eats Cauliflower

The Guy I Married’s affinity for all things fried, starched, potatoed, and meated has been mentioned by me more than a handful of times. Even before we had a child I was well versed in the kitchen art of sneaky-sneak veggie tricks, mixing frozen spinach in every sort of pasta sauce possible and fibbing that yes, those tiny chopped bell peppers in your scrambled eggs are just basil and oregano flakes. Good thing I married a blond who thinks Chili’s is fine dining.

In over five years of cohabitation he’s gotten used to my tricks, and has even admitted to liking spinach (and doesn’t know the difference between spinach, kale, or swiss chard) but I have never had the culinary chutzpah to go full-on cauliflower-subbing on him, by making cauliflower mashed “potatoes” for instance. That, he’d spot a mile away. Try as I did to accomplish this recipe without him knowing the full ingredients… have you ever tried hiding a whole head of cauliflower in a fridge? Not easy, trust me. When questioned, I felt it best to tell the truth, for once.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza by Eat. Drink. Smile. – click through for the Pin and the link

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Week 15 – The One That Really Shouldn’t Be This Easy

I’ve got to admit, after my failure with the Crock Pot Lasagne, I was a little put off and not too keen on dragging out that particular cooking apparatus again to make something that isn’t soup or pulled pork. But I was in an inventive dinner rut, and upon turning to Pinterest this kept calling to me…

slow cooker honey sesame chicken by SixSistersStuff – click through for the Pin and the link

I ignored the “slow cooker” part and just drooled over the picture. That’s what’s so terrible about food Pins – as a rule they all look impossibly delicious. They reel you in with a lickable photo and you are pleasantly surprised if when you click through to find the recipe, you actually have everything on hand to make the vision of awesome you’re suddenly craving.

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Week 14 – The One With Huevos de Diablo!

Week 14 fell the week before Easter, and this Pinventure was accomplished in advance of my brother’s annual Big Backyard Easter Egg Hunt and potluck dinner – an afternoon of child wrangling, furious egg collecting, melted chocolate, Icy Pops, a fabulous giant bunny suit, beer, and all-around good times. It has become a tradition for my little family to bring deviled eggs to this event, something I’m all too happy to continue. The Guy I Married could survive exclusively on deviled eggs for the rest of his life, and aside from his recipe being pretty dang scrumptious, he actually enjoys making them by himself.

Well, for the most part. He enjoys chopping them in half after they’re boiled, making the yolk mix, filling them, and taste testing a healthy amount. He hates boiling them and peeling them.

Who likes peeling hard boiled eggs, really? Nobody. No matter how perfect your technique, when boiling and peeling mass quantities there will always be mangled casualties, shells will stab you under your fingernails, and you will likely scald off your fingertips because you jumped the gun and tried to peel the little orbs before they were good and cool.

I have accepted that no egg peel will ever be perfect, but if you want to simplify the boiling process to save yourself a lot of fretting and stovetop-stalking, you’re going to flip over this:

baking hard boiled eggs by The Burlap Bag, click through for the Pin and the link

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Week 13 – The One With Ghetto-fab Gardening

Since spring has sprung down in H-town – and summer isn’t far off – Squirrel and I have been making it a more regular habit to get out in the backyard every day to enjoy our little messy slice of nature. Just say the word and she’ll do a little “outside” dance at the back door, something that I’m told resembles a potty dance. Upon opening she bolts out with the cats in tow, ready to and help water all the patio plants… or grab fistfuls of dirt to transfer from pot to pot.

it’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it

While her help is appreciated, sometimes we aren’t as diligent as we should be about watering every day. I’ve seen those decorative drip irrigation deals you can stick into the dirt and fill with water occasionally to keep plants constantly watered… but I’m cheap.

recycled water bottle drip irrigation, click through for the Pin and the link

Simple enough: poke holes in a water bottle, fill it with water, and bury it in your favorite neglected houseplant. Since recycling is a major cornerstone of our daily household operations, I had to ask The Guy I Married to find an appropriately-sized plastic bottle up at school for this project. The amount of plastic water bottles that theatre company goes through makes me cringe.

 

The tutorial calls for hammer and nail, but I made due with a super-sharp screw. Newer “less plastic” water bottles are so thin it didn’t take much pressure at all. The tutorial also instructed me to fill the newly-holey bottle with water and then bury it… I thought it better to bury it first. I chose my giant seven-year-old plumeria to be the recipient of this new garden accessory. It’s tropical and it likes being good and wet, so a steady water supply should suit it nicely.

yikes, I think it’s time for a new pot at the end of this season

Squirrel’s watering can Horatio the Hippo (thank you Target dollar bin) was all too happy to help me complete this quick project. As I was filling I noticed the water level wasn’t staying up, so after some repositioning and packing the dirt tighter around the bottle, I got it to stay full.

I suppose if you had the urge to add something with a little more pizzazz to your garden, you could paint the bottle first with some non-toxic paint, but I wouldn’t paint the whole thing – you have to be able to see when the water level has dropped below the soil line to refill the bottle.

get to growing, kid!

Now I just have to wait for the pretty pink and white flowers to bloom. By June the whole thing will be popping out pretty little flowers, giving Squirrel plenty of opportunity to pet the leaves and squeal “ow-urr!” Hopefully by then she’ll have perfected her “gentle” plant petting.

Moral of the Tutorial – Even if you have a regular helper, a sure-thing watering apparatus will make your plants happy.

I’m so looking forward to the next month as my backyard starts to explode with color, and hopefully tomatoes. On to the next – thanks for reading!

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Week 12 – The One With Free Food

The Guy I Married: What do you want for Mother’s Day?
Me: To catch up on my blog.
TGIM: And how can I help with that?
Me: Watch Squirrel.
TGIM: OK. (pause) Wait, for how long?
Me: (briskly walking away) Sorry, can’t hear you.

Freecycle is a beautiful thing for someone with hoarding tendencies and constant craft ideas, but absolutely no desire to go dumpster diving. After a fresh coat of paint, some bleach wipes, or a good scrubbing, pretty much anything can be new again, and the price is definitely right. The short list of things in my home I have procured via Freecycle includes: numerous Squirrel accoutrements, specifically her dresser, a ton of play clothes and shoes, and her much-loved Johnny Jump Up; a collection of various wooden frames that I will eventually paint and display; sample-size jugs of latex paint in four different colors; countless glass and clear plastic containers for storing crafting goodies and household whatnots; 11 boxes of vintage patterns; and some swiss chard from a backyard gardener who had an over-abundance. It’s that last Freecycle treasure that helped me accomplish my Pinventure on week 12…

Baked Kale Chips by smittenkitchen, click through for the Pin and the link

I had been wanting to make some kale chips for a while now, because transforming things that are very good for you into what looks like something that’s very bad for you is the key to getting things eaten in my household. I was certain The Guy I Married wouldn’t dare try them, but Squirrel would. Kid loves cooked spinach anyway, and kale chips seemed to be an easy way for her to give herself some greens utensil-free.

When I chanced upon the free swiss chard, I checked that the two were close enough in composition and flavor that I could make swiss chard chips instead. Thanks to Google for the confirmation!

swiss chard, not from Target

The recipe is simple enough: bunches of swiss chard, coarsely torn into chip-sized pieces, olive oil, and sea salt to taste. I used a combo of garlic salt and lemon pepper just for fun.

After you rip you dip (in the oil) and spread them evenly on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with your seasoning, pop in the oven at 300°F for 15-20, and once they’ve browned they’re ready to go. For these veggies, brown is a good thing.

chard chips! nom.

That’s it, and it was easy! A little time consuming ripping the leaves apart, but easy. These were crispy but they were nothing like a chip – much too thin – and they were just a tad too greasy. You can see from the shine in the photos that I do need to work on my oil dip technique. For the batch I made I used maybe 15 of those big honkin’ leaves and filled four 9×13 cookie sheets. What Squirrel and I didn’t eat that day filled two lunchmeat-sized plastic containers and lasted another two days.

As for the rest of my free swiss chard, it was with us for almost two weeks and went into pasta sauces, green smoothies, and enchiladas before it was eventually fed to our compost bin. Not bad for something that cost me exactly zero dinero and was home grown to boot.

Moral of the Tutorial – Everything tastes better when it’s free, even if you use too much olive oil.

Another week down, just a few more to go! Thanks for reading!

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I Will Not Rupaulogize For My Fandom

Monday night signaled the much-anticipated season end of my numero uno guilty television pleasure – RuPaul’s Drag Race. The evening was your basic format for a reality series reunion show, albeit with a little more pizazz and flash because duh, drag queens! The altogether ooky Sharon Needles sashayed away with the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar. Her final walk was elegant, and her attitude about the whole thing was really a breath of fresh air. She did a little vamping, but I saw the realness through that pale foundation – she was genuinely shocked and gracious and serving a whole lot of humble pie as she quietly addressed her public. And that’s why everyone loves her.

Aside from Sharon taking home the top prize, the unstoppable chunky-yet-funky Latrice MFing Royale got herself a Miss Congeniality sash, honey. Of course she did. She always had positive and uplifting things to say. And who could forget that laugh? I might have to make it a ringtone or something.

So here I am, two days post-finale, and I’ve taken my love for Sharon and Latrice, plus some memorable quotes from the evening, and channeled it into some printable goodies.

Sharon’s poster features her best quote of the reunion show, a phrase I believe transcends Halloween just like she does. The variety of color schemes were inspired by some of her looks in the competition. Can you guess which ones? (if you can’t, just mouse over the image)

the Rupocalypse!  Float Your Boat (the snake!)  Frock the Vote

The Latrice poster features my favorite mantra of hers, plus her sassy silhouette. I went a little wild with some neon, made a very summery blue version, and picked some colors to match some of my home decor.

neon  blue  tan

Each one is a jpeg file and will print mega huge (16×24) or smaller – my Latrice lives on my kitchen shelf in an 8×10 frame, and she’s quite happy there. She matches my toaster.

Latrice framed

yeah, I’m going to love walking by that message every morning

(fyi – the download preview at the links below shows some extremely whacky colors – the colors above are what you’ll get, promise!)

Download Sharon’s in Rupocalypse, green, or violet.
Download Latrice’s in neon, blue, or tan.
Click the arrow at the bottom right corner to download.

Please feel free to share, just link back here and give me credit. Pins are welcome too!
And don’t steal these and say you did them, because you’d be lying, and that’s bad karma.

I’ve got a few more of these up my sleeve, and I’ll post them when they’re finished.

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Week 11 – The One Where I Ruin Lasagne

I like using my crock pot. A lot. The idea of gathering a bunch of ingredients and just letting it cook without interference is perfect for someone like me: working mother, scatterbrained multi-tasker, culinary-corner-cutter. But using it every day seems… impossible.

It was not impossible for Stephanie O’Dea, who in 2008 did one crock pot meal a day. That’s a lot of cooking… and frankly a lot scrubbing, and I don’t know about her but I hate cleaning my big behemoth of a crock pot. Her site, which I found from this pin on Pinterest, chronicles her journey with a recipe for every day of the year, and on the post from January 27 I found the recipe for lasagne in the crock pot.

Lasagne in the crock pot? For realsies? I can make my favorite meal, the meal I always requested my mother make for birthdays and special events and post-giving-birth-food-gifting… in the crock pot? Um, YES I want to try this!

And try it I did, with Shakespearean results. Unfortunately they were more Romeo and Juliet and less As You Like It.

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Week 10 – The One Where I Get It Twisted

While in South America last month, I have to be honest that I hadn’t planned on continuing my Pinventures. I planned on just mad-dashing through two a week until I was caught up on the blog and could resume my once weekly retreat into the craft room. This plan of course hasn’t exactly worked. I’m nothing if not awesome at watching the best laid plans completely change.

My second night abroad, I got bored. I was in my hotel by myself, all packed up for my obnoxiously-early 3:30 a.m. transfer to catch a flight to El Calafate (in hindsight arguably the most beautiful and serene place I have EVER been). Boredom plus inability to sleep plus deliriousness meant I hopped on the free WiFi and cruised for an easy Pinventure to accomplish.

Being in a hotel and in another country, this Pinventure needed to be something that required no tools or supplies at all. That narrowed me down to pretty much… hair. Make some hair that will travel well, on it!

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