Category Archives: I’m awesome.

Poof! I Disappeared!

I ended up deleting my Facebook account earlier than I planned. I’ve had a really hard time with Facebook since I signed up for it many years ago. I am exactly the type of person it’s terrible for. I love gossip, and I also love helping people. I easily get sucked into dramas or giving my opinion or advice – and even when it’s asked for – does anyone really want it? Will I really change the mind of the racist man whom was once my 7th grade boyfriend? No. Do I need to be constantly embarrassed and dismayed by the ignorant Trump supporting posts by my family? No. Do I need the constant bombardment of collective dismay and bad news posted all day by people I love and admire? Nope. The thing is, I’ve known all this for years. What it took for me to finally understand just how gross social media is, was a good old-fashioned mean girl.

Thing is, I’ve found it easy to allow the negativity wash over me. The cliche frog in the boiling water. So many #Metoo – none of which I was surprised about – but each like a tiny knife to the heart nonetheless, they became a blur. Mass shootings, murdered children, gofundme for basic medical care, Nazi rallies, and don’t get me started on 45. Yes, most of it is rehashing of news, but an endless stream with endless analysis all day. Still, this wasn’t enough to get me to understand how harmful it was to my brain. There are definite bright spots to Facebook, like the ability to keep in touch with people that I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. And there are lots of funny things too. But all in all, it was a time suck that wasn’t good for me, and a bad habit.

Finally, last week, I finally had enough when, on a rather benign post about a local grocery store closing, a woman called me a bitch. Look, I’ll be 40 in a few days, I’ve been called a bitch many times, and honestly there are times when I deserved it. But this was different. I’d corrected this woman on some false information and asked her not to spread rumors, since I’d just spoken to the owner. She countered by calling me a bitch. I was astounded. There was nothing unkind or rude about what I said. Other people had also corrected her. I told her she was out of line, and it escalated from there. Basically, she continued to hurl insults at me in a weird and unhinged way. But, here’s the thing. This woman had publicly insulted and spread rumors about me before. A few years ago our neighbors sold their house to someone who turned it into a massive dog kennel. Our town let this happen with no oversight or regulation. Despite attending numerous meetings and trying to work things out – basically to get minimum business regulations which the town didn’t have because they said a kennel is agriculture – three town officials told us to get a lawyer. We did. The local paper published a story about it, because it went to court. The owner of the kennel, and this other woman took to spreading rumors about myself and my husband. It got pretty nasty. We ended up selling the house and moving. Anyhow, I reveal all of this because the woman, in this exchange on Facebook claimed not to know me. I had seen her a few times around town and at the kids’ school, and had decided to let it all go and had moved on. However, this exchange brought back a tidal wave of anger and pain. When I reminded her that she did, in fact, know me- by cutting and pasting her nasty comments about me that she’d posted on the local paper’s website – she responded by another raft of insults, claiming not to remember that either, and blocking me. I admit, this is all very small town and juvenile. But it’s what finally made me realize just how nasty Facebook can be. I deleted my account that day.

I’ve thought about this a lot. Either she’s lying and remembers me, or she’s not lying and she  doesn’t remember saying nasty things and spreading rumors. Frankly, from the private messages I received after the exchange from people that know her and are ‘friends’ with her, this is pretty regular behavior, so either explanation could be true. Cheryl Strayed frequently mentions her mother’s advice to, “put yourself in the way of beauty”. For me, Facebook was putting myself in the way of nastiness. Yes, some people are just sad an nasty. I am old enough to know this. That doesn’t mean I need to put myself in their way as an easy target.

I haven’t gone cold turkey on social media, but nothing else had the hold or made me feel as bad as Facebook. I’m trying to figure out what this will mean for my blog and promoting books. I’m not alone either. Almost every day I talk to someone else who has deleted their account. I’m already happier. I wonder how I’ll feel in a year?

What’s Up With All the Instagramming?

Interesting and beautiful things are everywhere.

Interesting and beautiful things are everywhere.

I knooow that’s what you guys are asking yourselves. Well, those of you that ‘follow’ me social media-wise. I’ve had Instagram for awhile, but I didn’t really start using it until a few weeks ago. Now I’m trying to add one post per day. Is it as simple as me just wanting to participate in something fun? No. Nothing is ever that simple.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, more than usual even. Trying to get some new perspectives, change old habits, pay attention to how different things make me feel. ln much the same way that I notice eating certain foods make me feel sick, consuming various types of information and media were also starting to make me feel gross. Now, this isn’t going to be one of those long, ranty posts about how much Facebook sucks, but I will say, that I started noticing that it wasn’t making me feel very good. I’m not going to lie. I friggin’ love Facebook. However, I found myself getting super annoyed and cranky with people that honestly, if Facebook wasn’t around, I would have no contact with whatsoever. I found myself getting wrapped up in the enormous long-winded oversharing dramas swirling around. Spending time wondering, “Gee, I wonder how so and so is doing with her whatserwhosit”. Is that necessarily bad? I don’t know. I’m what’s known as a ‘super-empath’, I know it sounds very new-agey, but whatevs. It’s what I am. Basically, I it’s a really nice way of saying I very easily get wrapped up in other people’s shit on an emotional level.  So, I started to back way off on Facebook. I deleted it from my phone. I did what dieters do when they try to get ahold of eating habits and check-in with myself when I found myself logging on to the blue beast, asking myself “Why?” Why are you checking in? This is what I discovered, most of the time when I was checking in, which honestly was frighteningly frequent, I was either:

  • Bored
  • Lonely
  • Procrastinating

Does FB really help me with any of those things? Sure it kills time, but it’s certainly not helping me achieve any of my goals, and aiding in procrastination isn’t great either. It does help with loneliness, but so does a text of a phone call. Anyhow, I’ve backed way off. Yes, I’m still on FB probably once a day. Sometimes not. I feel a lot better. Does this mean I’ve given up social media? Oh, God no. Which brings me to…

Instagram. (BTW, yes my account auto-posts to my FB and Twitter unless I unselect it. I can’t decide if this is obnoxious or not.) As opposed to FB, Instagram is making me feel pretty good. For one, I’m using it as a tool to find beauty in my everyday life. Well, beauty and humor, but I think those go together. I subscribe to other members that have similar ideas, but also that post amazing photos. So, instead of checking in on political rants or people’s divorces, what I’m seeing are incredible photos of MOMA, sunsets in Hawaii, knitwear, meals people are proud of. It’s a really different vibe, and it makes me feel better about the world around me, and what I’m putting out there. Pretty deep for a photo app, eh? Also, I have GOT to  become a better photographer. No, it’s required. I have new clients, and some that are in the wings, and in the world we live in today, if you are a writer, you better be able to take some decent photos. Publishable photos. I’m trying, you guys. I think I’m getting a little better every day.

Twitter, I love you. You’re a different post altogether.

If you want to see my photos, there’s a button over there —> to follow me on Instagram. You know, if you want to, or whatever.

Overnight Oatmeal

This could also be called ‘cold oatmeal’ or ‘refrigerator oatmeal’.  I’m including this in the Reddit 52 week challenge under dairy, because it is in fact, over half dairy. Or in my case, non-dairy. Here’s the thing about me, I’m not a strictly non-dairy person. I’m more of a limited-dairy person. I’m not entirely intolerant, but more like ‘moderately bothered’ by dairy. That’s why you’ll see me posting recipes that use coconut milk instead of milk, but still will include butter. Sometimes I just dairy it up like crazy, guts be damned. Enough about my guts. I very loosely based this recipe from one I found here, but modified it like crazy, so now it’s MINE, all MINE! Muahahaha!

Raspberries and whatnot!

Raspberries and whatnot!

This is my very informal recipe:

2 Cups Old-Fashioned (non-instant) Oats
1 can coconut milk (I used low-fat but you could use whatever. You could also use regular milk or goat milk or soy milk or almond milk or emu milk or whatever milk you kids are drinking these days)
1 glug of maple syrup (If I had to wager how much that was exactly, I’d say 2.5 Tablespoons)
1 shakea shakea of vanilla extract (maybe a teaspoon?)
1 sprinkle of cinnamon

Dump everything into a bowl, mix it, cover it, put it in the fridge overnight. This was a BIT too liquidy for me, but I like my oatmeal kind of dry. The kids said it was perfect, though.

You can eat this cold, or you can heat it up in the microwave or stove top for a minute or so. Top it with whatever you want. I used frozen raspberries and toasted coconut. My kids lobbied pretty hard for some whipped cream on top, so of course I let them have some. That makes it even more dairy-tastic.

If you want to be a super hipster, you can put this in a jar and take it to work. Enjoy!

Non-Diet Diet Meal.

This year, for the first time in at least a decade, I did not include ‘lose 20lbs’ on my list of yearly goals. I do plan on eating healthily and getting lots of exercise this year, but with overall health and happiness as my main objective.  So, of course this year for the first challenge of the 2015 Reddit 52 Weeks of Cooking was Diet Foods. After reading the description, you can see it’s meant to be pretty tongue in cheek, in that with all the diets out there, you could make pretty much anything and have it fit into the category.

I was a little behind on the challenge this week and made my food on the 8th (deadline, 7th) but y’all know that’s how I roll. What did I make for ‘Diet Food’? Well, I had a wisdom tooth out and had to have a ‘diet’ of mushy food for at least 24 hours. Did you think I’d eat t jello and chicken broth? Oh, hell no. I made myself some high-quality mushy food.

First I made this:

Doesn't this look delicious?

Doesn’t this look delicious?

I know, flesh-colored pudding doesn’t exactly make you say, “I want to eat that!” But listen to me, this is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. It’s Butterscotch Pudding from Smitten Kitchen. No, it doesn’t taste like that horrible brown Jello Pudding Mix. It’s creamy and sweet and a little salty. I modified it a bit and used full-fat coconut milk, but I did use butter, so it’s not entirely dairy-free. Seriously, make this. It’s delicious.

For dinner I made this:

This looks a bit yummier, right?

This looks a bit yummier, right?

The Perfect Potato Soup by Pioneer Woman.  This has been on my ‘to make’ list since it came out 2 years ago. I used butter instead of bacon because I couldn’t eat bacon due to my tooth extraction, and I have to suffer, everyone has to suffer! I stirred the cheese in until it melted. I also skipped the heavy cream. As I blog more recipes that I try, you will realize that I almost NEVER follow them. I can’t help it. I mean I CAN help it, I just don’t want to. Anyhow, this soup is extremely delicious – Oh! And another thing I did was I pureed all of it, she leaves chunks. But I felt it was a very nourishing and hearty meal, and I ate two bowls of it.

Don’t these look kind of…gross? I”m sorry! I’m a horrible food photographer. Go check out the links to the recipes, the authors are much better photographers than I am. You know who else sucks at food photography? Martha Stewart. At least I’m in good company.

 

 

Kwitcherbitchin, or How I Solve Your Meal Planning Problems

Menu calendar. Win.

I may have already written a post with Kwitcherbitchin in the title, but I’m too lazy to check. When I was young, I used to go to a friend’s camp on a lake, and there was a little sign with Kwitcherbitchin painted on it. It took me forever to figure it out, but when I did I thought it was awesome. Anyhow, this post isn’t about signs or camps or friends. It’s about the negative Nellies, and it’s about food, and it’s about solving your meal planning problems forever.  A little history first.

This post is inspired by two recent articles: First, the article ‘What if You Just Hate Making Dinner’ by Virginia Heffernan. I despised this piece. Is part of a slew of recent articles and writing that are nothing more than whining and breaking down other people. I’m so incredibly tired of it. “Wahhh I don’t like making dinner”! “Wahhh! Look at these beautiful cookbooks full of things people have taken time and effort into making,I’m going to make fun of them!” It’s very mean girl. It really is. Secondly, there are SO many women using this tactic to make names for themselves sort of branding themselves as feminists. OK, we get it. You don’t like making dinner, you think people who put time and effort into making beautiful food are wasting their time. Good job. Good job making the rest of us feel like bad feminists for taking the time to make something to eat. We all know you can’t be a good feminist if you take care of your family and cook dinner. No, in fact you actively have to rail against it to be a good feminist. My other problem is this: What the hell is she eating? She spends the whole article whining about how she hates cooking, and then breaking down cookbooks that she thinks are dumb, without ever offering a solution to what she does. Is it all take out? She must have a lot of money. Also, she’s feeding the myths that 1. Cooking is hard and 2. Women MUST do all the cooking. OK, I’ll stop. Now I’m just railing against her railing. It’s a loop. But you should at least skim her article so this makes sense.

Michael Rhulman does a phenomenal job taking the Heffernan article to task in his post, “What if You Hate Cooking Dinner” If you must know, I think Michael Rhulman is friggin’ awesome, and highly recommend his books, especially The Making of a Chef   One of the best pieces of food writing I’ve ever read, and also one of my favorite books in general. I digress, again. Anyhow, Rhulman takes Heffernan to task, for many of the reasons I mentioned above but also adds what I think are some good, real word solutions. For example, just make some hot dogs with chips and good pickles. Cooking is not hard, it doesn’t have to be fancy. Just read his article, it’s great. I’ll wait here.

Now that you’ve finished reading both of those articles, here’s what I have to say. Let me repeat: cooking is not hard. I think, from reading the Heffernan article, that a lot of her problem is planning. You know what’s not easy? Figuring out what you’re going to eat at 5:30 when your kids are freaking out and you just got home from ballet and everyone still needs to do homework and take baths. That downright sucks. Guess what, I’m going to tell you how to fix your meal planning problem for the rest of your life. I KNOW, RIGHT? Are you excited? I actually use this and it is life changing. Here’s what you do:

  1. Fire up Google Calendar or similar calendar program. It must have the ability to repeat events. Sharing is also a nice feature if you have family members that will also use this.
  2. Input a meal on each day of the week and then make it repeat based on how often you want to eat it. For example, I have beef stew on repeat every 6 weeks, but pizza is on repeat every week.
  3. Don’t forget to input days for takeout, and leftovers.
  4. Each week your menu is ready, and you can adjust as you want, but your ‘base’ is done.

There you go. Menu plans done for eternity. My planning is done, and I after shopping, I have ingredients for 5 meals a week (one night is takeout and one night is leftovers). I do not follow the menu/days of the week like a crazy person, except on takeout night (Friday) and I do a crockpot meal every Thursday because it’s a really busy day and I don’t have time in the evening. Sharing the menu calendar with your family allows anyone to look at it and say, “OK, we have stuff for tacos, fish chowder and roast chicken, which one do I want to make tonight?” Also, you can easily adjust it. So, if I’m looking at my menu for the week and I see crab cakes but  I’m just not into it, I just change it to something else. What’s important is that the base menu is done. Forever.

You’re welcome. Now go make a menu calendar and Kwitcherbitchin.

 

Yoga Pants Ruined My Life

I am not a sweatpants kind of girl. In high school gym class, when I wasn’t skipping to smoke behind the tennis courts, I wore jeans until the teacher yelled at me and threatened to flunk me, and then I wore shorts.  Sweatpants in days of yore were so lame, with their drawstrings and tight, elastic ankles. Gross. Who wants to wear fuzzy jodhoppers? Not me. Also, the word “sweat” is in their name. And we all know that sweating is disgusting. Who wants to sweat in their pants? Not me, that’s for damn sure.

Then I grew up, and discovered that through the magic of yoga I could get some exercise and not get all gross. However, yoga in jeans is not that awesome and I live in Maine so yoga in shorts isn’t preferable either. I was going to have to get some yoga specific work

Yoga pants, invented by the devil.

out gear. So, in the early 2000s, yoga pants and I met for the first time.

I should have known the dangers when a pregnant friend told me she saved money on maternity clothes by wearing her yoga pants all the time. She was well into her 3rd trimester.

It was love at first wear. Stretchy, but not so stretchy I felt like I was one of those leggings wearing ladies. Thick enough to not show my underwear lines or my cellulite, and with a flattering flared leg, yoga pants were a level of comfort previously only known to the sweat pants people.  I started wearing yoga pants all the time. Not just when I was doing yoga. I would wear them to bed, and then just wear them all day. So, yes, I was wearing my pajamas all day. Sometimes I would do yoga in them. Usually not though.  Usually I sat around and dicked around on Myspace and googled things and wrote articles about how hard it is to be a writer. Yeah, pretty much what I do all day now, except now I dick around on Facebook and Twitter.

In 2005, I had Kid, and crossed a self-imposed line with my yoga pants. I wore them out into the world, grocery shopping and stuff. I also usually wore (and still wear,  that’s another post all together) a very long winter coat that hides what’s underneath. The out into the world line was one of those self-imposed restrictions that addicts often make up. You know like, “I don’t have a problem if I don’t drink before noon”. I had crossed that line. But I had an excuse! I had a small child! I didn’t have time for things like changing pants!

I started noticing things about myself, namely, that my regular pants didn’t really fit anymore. But, my yoga pants are the same size! Oh, the miracle of lycra. Since I first bought my yoga pants, you know, to work out in – I have gained about 30 lbs. And no, it’s not from the Kid. I lost all my baby weight pretty fast. This is new, fat ass lazy weight. See, when you wear yoga pants all the time, you lose all perception of how fat your ass is.

I finally realized I had a problem the other day when I was putting away my laundry. I am down to 3 ill-fitting pair of jeans, and about 7 pair of yoga pants.  It’s like a disease. They keep multiplying, and so do my belly rolls. I have since resolved to put my pants on every day. My real pants. Pants with no lycra and proper buttons and zippers and what not.

Yoga pants turned me into a much jigglier version of my former self. Do I blame my sedentary lifestyle, love of beer, and butter? Hell no. I blame the pants.

 

What I Listen To.

You see me walking down the road with my dogs, my sunglasses, my hunter orange stocking cap and safety orange vest, giant, green thermal windbreaker, purple mittens, headphone wires bisecting my front, and you’re like, “Dude, that chick is fly. I wonder what a cool, cool lady like that is listening to on her ipod?”  You probably think I’m listening to something fresh and edgy, since clearly that’s how I roll.

Well I am, bitches. Because I’m listening to nerdy, nerdy podcasts. All day. Well, except when I’m writing because the, “Listen to interesting new information” part of my brain and,  “Create interesting new information” part of my brain can’t seem to party together. “Create interesting new information” likes music. “Listen to interesting new information” likes chores and taking walks.

I get asked a lot for podcast recommendations. Like, three people have asked me. Clearly, there is a high demand for this information. Here’s what I likey:

1. This American Life. I know, it’s everyone’s favorite, but that’s because IT’S SO GOOD. Weekly one hour podcast (it’s also on NPR) usually three or four stories about a theme. It’s alway interesting, and almost always makes me cry,  (though as you’ll see from my other selections, I cry a lot. I have a lot of feelings. I’m a sucker.) but not always from sadness, actually often it’s from happiness. When you subscribe you can only get the most recent podcast, but you can go to the TAL website and stream all the episodes ever. You can also buy them all on Audible, I did that when I first got into TAL and listened to about 3 years worth of podcasts in order. It was awesome.

2. Radiolab .This is a VERY close second. More like 1a. really. Radiolab is a lot like TAL, one hour, one theme a bunch of stories, except the difference is Radiolab is about science where as TAL is more about the human condition. For example the Radiolab I’m listening to right now is about Space, they have three or four different scientists, physicists etc., talking about the universe etc. It’s very good, and makes me feel very smart.  I exclaim “Holy Shit!” out loud while listening to Radiolab at least twice an episode. Also on NPR.

Screenshot of not my i-pod. I have all these apps though, probably because with the exception of the Nike one, they all came with my phone. Anyhow, enjoy your obligatory picture.

3. The Moth. “True stories told live, without scripts, in 15 minutes or less.” That’s the Moth.  Very good. Usually very sad or very happy or both.   Love. Love. Love. the Moth. I like to save them up and then listen to a few weeks all at once. Guess what, ALSO on NPR. I can’t help it. NPR has good stuff.

4. Dinner Party Download. Little 15 minute nuggets of news, history, celebrity interview and a rad song. The premis is, this little download will give you all the tools you need to provide great conversation during a dinner party. It sounds a little lame, but it’s totally awesome. Though topical, they are still really good a few months out, since the news they pick is usually not what’s making the headlines for that week. It’s cute and fun, I always learn something, and never cry 🙂 Also….NPR….

5. Stuff You Should Know. Another solid hour of nerd heaven. This weekly podcast has covered everything from “Ponzi Schemes” to “Human Combustion” to “Ninjas”.  The narrators are funny and easy to listen to. This is important with a podcast, there are a few that didn’t make it on this list because the narrators are a bit meh, though the content is great.  They also take suggestions, so if somehow there is something they haven’t covered on their extensive list, e-mail them. There’s a good chance they’ll cover it.

I think that’s a good start for now. I have more, but these are my favorite, favorites. I also really love audiobooks and subscribe to Audible. I’ll make you list of my favorite audiobooks so far too. Those are real fucking nerdy as well.

How’d I do? Did I miss any?

Why I’m a Hypocrite, or Things I Used to Hate Because I Didn’t Know How Awesome They Are.

I change my mind a lot. Since I have no problem whatsoever voicing my opinion loudly, about pretty much everything, over the course of my life I have shot my mouth off about various things that are, “The dumbest things I’ve ever seen, and I hate them.only to change my mind about it later.  Some people would call this being hypocritical, but I choose to just look at it as being grown up enough to change my mind about things and admit when I’m wrong.

1. Uggs. Ok, my conversion on this one is going to shock some of you. For YEARS I have gone on and on about how much I fucking hate Uggs. Mostly because they are extraordinarily hideous. Then, last year I bought some Ulus which are sort of Uggish, suede outside, shearling inside, but they don’t have that same Ugg look. Hmm. My resolve started to slide. Then I ripped a hole in those and my in-laws bought me a really really nice pair of LL Bean Ugg

Sweet Jesus, they're ugly.

Sweet Jesus, they're ugly.

knockoffs. You guys. I get it now. Ok? I was wrong. So, so wrong. First off, they weigh NOTHING. Secondly, they are extremely warm and keep my feet extremely dry.  These things are key, since we have approximately 90 feet of snow.  I’m wearing them right now. And when I wear them out, I’m going to get another pair. I’m a convert.

2. Buffy The Vampire Slayer and True Blood (I’m just putting these both together because I don’t want to have two entries about vampire TV shows.) Those of you that know me in real life, know I’m insane for Buffy. Own all the seasons, have a cast autograph, have books about the show – complete episode guides etc. But, back in the day? When it was on TV? I made fun of that show so, so bad. I totally was a huge bitch to this woman I used to work with who was in love with it. I was all, “What is your deal? That is the dumbest show EVER!” Mostly, because my entire opinion of the show was based on the extremely horrible movie. Then, one fateful day, I was sick and there was a Buffy marathon on FX and I was too lazy to change the channel. The first ep I saw was the Thanksgiving one (season 4) where Spike is tied to a chair and there’s a huge bear loose in Gile’s house. Spike says, “It’s a Bear! Make it go away!” That was it. Sold.

That's right, I'm team Spike. Suck it, Angel.

Pretty much the same thing was true with True Blood. Thought it sounded dumb because hey, there is only room for one awesome vampire show in my heart, and it was occupied by Buffy. Then everything else we watched ended so we decided to give it a shot. Wow. Just like with children, apparently there is room in my heart for more than one vampire show. I also listened to all the Sookie Stackhouse audiobooks this summer – I highly, highly recommend them. Except for the first one, they are not like the show much at all. But still very good.

3. Twitter. What is this stupid thing that everyone’s doing that is just like Facebook updates but shorter? It’s public? Anyone can follow you? This makes no sense to me. I hate it. Then I got the hang of it. Now, yeah. Addicted.

4. Zumba. Well, or group exercise/going to the gym at all. In fact, one of the reasons I justified the expense of our family purchasing a Kinect for Xmas (which I do not regret) was that I could use it to work out and it’s so much cheaper than the gym. Then a local gym offered 3 free Zumba classes. Though the ads I’d seen for Zumba on TV made it look like the dumbest thing in the world, I decided to suck it up and give it a shot. Holy crap. It’s so much fun. Oh, do you not know what Zumba is? It’s like um, aerobic latin dance, sounds horrible, right? Now I go 3x a week, and I also am doing Body Pump 2x per week. There really is something about exercise classes. I think it’s the energy level. It’s very different than a Jillian Michaels avatar yelling at me to “Push it!”

5. Historical Fiction. Oh man. I HATE historical fiction. I’m a suspense/horror/mystery kind of girl. Then I bought a copy of The Other Boleyn Girl to give as a gift. Then I never gave it away. Then I read it. Woah. I loved it. It was super good. I am now reading the sequel, and probably will read more. I even started watching the Tudors (which by the way, is extremely sexy and horribly historically inaccurate but, who cares?)

See why I'm embarrassed? That bodice is totally getting ripped.

I also change my mind about things that aren’t totally shallow, but this isn’t that kind of post.

The Easy Bake Trials….The Mix is Poo

In order to get Kid to get rid of a small, plastic kitchen that she no longer uses anymore, I bribed her with an Easy Bake Oven. It should be known, that I have wanted an Easy Bake Oven for MONTHS. At Christmas I checked them out, but it said they were for kids 8 and up. Sometimes, believe it or not, I follow the rules. I figured there must be some reason that even though USE WITH ADULT SUPERVISION ONLY was plastered all over the box, there must be some reason why it would be unsafe for my 5 year old. Then I read Fadra’s blog, and she bought her 4 year old son one. I was all, “Holla! If she’s gonna, I’m gonna!”

At first, when I suggested the Easy Bake Oven, Kid was leery. Then I should her the commercial for it .

Kid: “You mean I can bake my own things by myself?”

Me: “With Adult Supervision!”

Kid”?”

Me: “Mommy and Daddy have to help you.”

Kid: “Will you go get me one right now?”

Me: “YEEEESSSSSS!!!!!”

Yup, the Easy Bake is just as you remembered. A plastic box with a 100W lightbulb  that cooks horrible packaged cake mix in tiny little pans. (Apparently a lot of countries are banning incandescent lightbulbs. Haven’t they even thought about what that’s going to do to the Easy Bake Oven industry? In related news, I have started hoarding 100W bulbs.)

OOOOH! What wonders will emerge from the magic box?

Kid immediately whipped up a cake using the packaged cake mix and frosting that came with the box. She was really,really proud. The cake was really,really horrible – by no fault of my darling daughter! Here’s the ingredient list of Easy Bake Oven Cake Mix: Ok, I couldn’t find it anywhere on-line, let me know if you can find the official list. I will tell you that it contains: Hydrogenated Oil, Artificial Color, and Artificial Flavoring, which is a lot to pack into 1/4 of a cup of cake. I mean I know I’m a food snob, but honestly this shit gave me chemical burns when I tasted it. Also? It costs about $6.00 for a 3 pack of this junk. Keep in mind each pkg contains 1/4 of a cup of mix. So….$6.00 for 3/4 of a cup of dog shit. Sign me up!

I fled to the internet, looked up recipes and found a number of good sites with make your own Easy Bake Oven mix recipes. So, long story way too long – You have got to make your own mix, yo. It’s way better for your family AND it’s going to save you about 9 million dollars. Also, you pretty much will never run out, since you have all the ingredients in your own pantry.

Sugar Flour Etc

Easy Bake would probably charge you $300 for these ingredients.

In about 10 minutes I made 10 servings of biscuit mix and 10 of white cake mix. I can’t tell you how much it cost, but I can tell you it was a hell of a lot less  than $6.00 per 3/4 cup.

White Cake Mix. Modified from Budget 101.(Who has a TON of Easy Bake Recipes)

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon-flavored unsweetened Kool-Aid No! The point is no crap!
1/3 cup vegetable shortening – I use Spectrum Organics Vegetable Shortening, because through some process of dark magics (I assume) they have created a Crisco like substance that is not hydrogenated. I suppose I could look it up and tell you how they do it, but let’s just pretend it’s wizardry. Anyhow, I love it.

I skipped the Kool-Aid, if you want a lemony cake, just substitue a Tsp. of lemon juice for a Tsp. of water when you make your cake. Theoretically. I haven’t tried this. But I’m guessing it would work. I’ll try it and get back to you.

Yeah, so you mix everything up in a bowl. Make sure the shortening is incorporated well. You don’t want clumps. It should look like pancake mix, in that it’s just a little bit crummier than flour. I hope you’ve made pancakes and have a clue what I’m talking about.

See how that's a little bigger crumb than flour? Both the cake and biscuit mix should look like this. Also,I don't remember which one this is.

The instructions say to put the mixes into individual packages but, really? I don’t have time to measure out 20 1/4 bags of mix. I just put them in ziplocs and wrote the instructions on the front:

Bag of Biscuit Mix

Savings? About $1M. If you factor in doctor fees from chemical burns to the tongue.

We used the biscuit mix the other day for a danish (more on that later) and it was gooood! I am all about getting kids in the kitchen, teaching them about food and cooking, it hits on all the major points. An Easy Bake Oven is a fantastic way to do this, IF you also teach them that good food doesn’t come from a mix. Kid was delighted that we can “make our own mix, any way we want.” The sense of pride and accomplishment she had after cooking that tiny cake in a box with a light bulb made me cry a single tear and write a haiku about love. Ok, no. But it was pretty goddamned awesome.

Get an Easy Bake, make some stuff. It’s fun. Oh, and this is going to be a regular feature. Next up: Sort of gross pizza!

I Wear My Sunglasses at Night, and on Overcast Days, and in the Supermarket.

If you have the luck of seeing me out and about, I am probably wearing sunglasses. Not just any sunglasses but huge, monster sunglasses like those worn by the Olsen Twins or Victoria Beckham. The other day, as I sat waiting for Kid to get out of school, I noticed some of the other parents in the lobby looking at me curiously (or not, I’m paranoid, but I BELIEVE they were looking at me  curiously, and that’s all that matters right?). Then I realized they probably thought it was really bizarre I was wearing huge dark glasses at 3:00 in the afternoon (which up here in the tundra is dusk) on an overcast day. I figured they probably think I’m high. Or maybe have a black eye. Or maybe I’m high AND I have a black eye.

Clearly Phrenology Fred doesn't get out much either. I had to hold the glasses up because his ears are flat and slippery.

Alas, I am not high, and luckily I do not have a black eye. I wear dark glasses all the time for two reasons: One, I am extremely light sensitive. Like vampires, I cannot bear the light of day. If I go out without my glasses I get massive headaches and my eyes water uncontrollably.  The eye watering thing happens all the time anyway, which is why I always have mascara smeared all over my face. I’m not trying to look like Tammy Faye Baker on purpose.  Two, I have the world’s worst dark circles under my eyes. No no, I do. Yours are nothing. Mine are worse. Trust me. I have been wearing under eye concealer since…5th grade. Why? Because if you have dark dark circles under your eyes, you constantly hear, “Wow, you look really tired.” or “Wow, are you sick” which translates to “Wow, you look like shit.” Anyhow, I wear huge dark glasses to cover them up, so I don’t have to deal with people commenting on them, and they do. Please don’t email me a million solutions. I know I could get my face bleached. I know it might be allergies, but honestly, it’s hereditary. Ask my mother, or more conveniently: Hey Ma, tell them about our eye bags in the  comments! Thanks.

I’ve encountered people at the  grocery store who have come right out and asked me, “Why are you wearing your sunglasses? Are you afraid someone will see you here?” Yes. I’m scared of the paparazzi. I simply cannot allow photos of me buying tampons to be snapped and published in People. Um, no. Grocery stores are really really bright. They give me headaches. They make my eyes water. This might also be from anxiety, which I experience a fair amount of, but mainly, it’s the brightness.

I have no excuses for the rest of my wardrobe though.