Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ice Cube-icle, Ode to Bob Ross, and A Study in Citrus

If you're trying to guess what the title for this post could possibly mean, you're not going to get it. Because each of those devastatingly witty phrases is a name I've given to a particular outfit I've worn to work over the past few months. See? Told you you would never guess.

Now, it's not that I'm totally obsessive about putting outfits together. I don't have a Clueless-esque computer program matching my tops and bottoms. I just like to make sure my combos are cute. The names are something that pop into my head as I'm making coffee halfway through the morning, one of the fruits of that spare brain power which was moments ago focused on bitfields and register mnemonics.

Want the breakdown? Well, I'm giving it to you anyway:
  • Ice Cube-ice: silver flats, grey-blue trousers, grey turtleneck, ice blue cardigan, icicle-looking earrings
  • Ode to Bob Ross: canvas paint splatter flats, tweed-y trousers, sunshine yellow long-sleeved shirt, bright pink cardigan, confetti cake scarf
  • A Study in Citrus: red wedges, black trousers, orange long-sleeved shirt, bright pink cardigan, orange hoop earrings
Maybe a year from now the novelty will wear off and I'll just be grabbing whatever is clean and comfortable. But I'm still new and enthusiastically making sure to not wear the same shoes , and basing a look on a particular scarf I want to wear. Now, what about Monday...?

(I should note: yes, it was summer when I wore all of these. The temperatures were record-setting this year, but the office has been chilled like fine champagne the whole time and I'm always freaking freezing.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Serious Craving

Based on my most recent posts, you're probably bracing yourself for some wacky kitchen concoction. Oatmeal and hot dogs? Cupcakes and ice cream? Cupcakes and hot dogs?! Well, fear not, your conventional ideas about food will not be challenged today. No, I'm referring to a craving that I never expected to have.

Remember that jog around the block I took on Saturday? I did it again on Sunday. And if it wasn't still so freaking hot, I probably would have done it during the week. But as it is, I'm just looking forward to tomorrow morning.

Whoa. I know. That's totally weird. Saturday morning cartoons would seemingly make more sense as a draw for the weekend then tying up laces and hitting the pavement. But that's how I feel. I'm even looking at that Nike+ thing, with the sensor in your shoe to track your progress.

Is it possible that I'm suffering from some rare form of insanity?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Matilda: Patron Saint of the Downtrodden Bookworm

Yesterday was Roald Dahl's birthday, and that got me thinking about one of my favorite Dahl creations: Matilda.

I like to think that I was born with books in my blood, that somehow a love of words is locked into the double helix of my DNA. But when I look back on my childhood, there were more than a few figures who guided me through the wilderness of 'weird' and other labels that often scare kids away from indulging in their instinctual desires to read voraciously.

There was Belle, who, let's face it, wasn't in love with the Beast until she saw his library. And Elizabeth Wakefield, who had brains, beauty, books, and a boyfriend. All Bs, except for her report card (perish the thought!). Or Vada Sultenfuss, slightly more morbid (she was the daughter of a funeral director, after all) lover of poetry and mood rings.

In this pantheon of reading icons is Matilda. In many ways, she's a patented Dahl character: down-trodden child empowered by elements of magic to change her situation. For Charlie it was chocolate. For Matilda it was books. (For me, it's both!)

Unfortunately, read as much as I would, I couldn't tip any glasses over with my mind. Then again, I was never threatened with the Chokey at school, though I might be able to identify some slightly Trunchbullian administrators and teachers. Still, I made the connection early on between books and magic. And not just in the pyschokinetic powers sense.

So thank you, Roald Dahl, for creating Matilda Wormwood and adding to the cast of characters who helped to give nature a boost and nurturing my growing love of books. I don't know who I would have become without such characters, but I don't want to.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Havin' It My Way

So apparently I'm not the only one realizing the awesomeness that is oatmeal. Burger King is the latest place to put it onto their breakfast menu. But I find it easier just to avoid fast food altogether, unless there's something really special that I crave. For example, a strawberry slushie from Sonic, or a chocolate Frostie from Wendy's (with fries for dipping!).

But oatmeal is something that I can rock out on my own, no drive-thru required. I've had it three times already this week for dinner. I use the term dinner loosely here, since one of those oatmeals was a Salted Caramel Cocoa Oatmeal:

Yum! It's adapted from Hungry Girl's recipe here. In this case, adapted mostly means no chips, more caramel. Didn't have the first one, had the second stashed in the fridge thanks to Super Target clearance. Because really, present me with something tasty, lower calorie, and on sale, and there is simply no way I can resist.

The second oatmeal was so good I made it twice: Barbecue Brisket Oatmeal. Again, I must confess the convenience factor which lead to this concoction. My uncle is in town visiting, and along with fajitas, barbecue is a required culinary part of his trip. We went to Rudy's on Monday, and while he and my dad ate their extra moist brisket and sausage, I carefully weighed out four ounces each of smoked turkey and extra lean brisket. And I ended up with leftovers to take home with me.

So that leftover beef was chopped/shredded into a savory oatmeal (cooked in half water, half chicken broth) along with some onions, which just happened to be leftover from the fajitas we made. Once that was bubbling and delicious, I drizzled on the elixir of life, otherwise known as Salt Lick sauce. Is it wrong to mix the meat and sauce from different Qs? Perhaps. Do I care? Nope. It's tasty!

(This would be where a picture would go if I hadn't been so hungry after my workout last night that I gobbled it up before remembering to document my dinner.)

And tonight it's back to the sweet oatmeal with an ooey-gooey S'Mores Oatmeal:
Again, inspired by scavenging. Someone at the office had extra marshmallows left over from their weekend, and they were so ridiculously huge I had to grab one and bring it home. What can I say? I can't resist free. Or marshmallows.

It's the same as the Salted Caramel Cocoa Oatmeal, except instead of caramel, I added the marshmallow, chopped up a bit, then sprinkled Fiber One Honey Squares as the graham cracker element. I also used a tablespoon of actual cocoa instead of hot cocoa mix for extra chocolate-y goodness.

There's almost nothing that can't be brought home in a doggy bag from a restaurant or found to be in overabundance in the fridge that I can't whip into an oatmeal. And aside from tasting awesome, you get that added sense of righteousness from not only frugally using every food source, but getting lots of fiber and other trendy health benefits at the same time.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Wait, the Nike endorsement isn't automatic?

This morning, I woke up in a commercial. I got out of bed, brushed my teeth, laced up my sneakers, popped in my earbuds and took a run around the block.

Yup, that was me, jogging past your window as you crunched your cornflakes and brushed the sleep out of your eyes. Don't worry, I wasn't judging you. Okay, maybe I indulged in a little superiority, but I needed it to keep huffing and puffing past. Because while Beyonce is inspirational, sometimes that woman mocks me with her booty-shaking tunes.

While I get 10,000 steps in every day, this was the first time I've really maintained more than a walking pace for any length of time other than on the elliptical. So it was just the one block. But I jogged the whole way, letting each milestone of the short journey pass without slowing down, though I told myself I would at the next.

There are still steps left to complete on my pedometer for the day, but after actually following through on a morning jog (it's been a concept I've toyed with many a Friday night), taking a refreshing shower, and diligently writing this very blog post, I think I deserve a rest, don't you?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Gum Geek Gets Moment of Glory

Sorry, I like my alliteration. Anyway, I was made disproportionately excited by the quickfire challenge on the latest Top Chef: Just Desserts because it involved Extra Dessert Delights.

Take a peak in my purse and you'll find a Ziploc full of sugar-free gum. I love the stuff. I chew it after practically every meal. I'm partially convinced this is the reason I got good remarks from my dentist at my last check-up, because my daily brushing and flossing didn't change. I have a snack bag of them because I never know what flavor I'm going to want. In my arsenal are all of the Dessert Delight flavors, so when the pastry chefs were challenged to create a tiny dessert to inspire a new edition to the line, I was kind of stoked.

I tried to jot down each entrant quickly, and here are my thoughts:
  • Pina Colada: Two chefs did this. Sorry, guys, but Orbit already makes that one, so I'm not interested in a duplicate.
  • Lemon Pancakes with Strawberries: They already have Strawberry Shortcake, so this bored me. It ended up winning, but it 'inspired' Lemon Square as the possible new flavor, so I'm okay with that.
  • Dulce de Leche: Yes! I would love a caramel gum. Extra needs to make this happen.
  • Oatmeal Raisin Cookie: I like that this was a recognizable, iconic dessert, but it's not one I'd be rushing to chew. I feel like Apple Pie already covers the creamy cinnamon category.
  • Banana Latte: So I know it would be weird to chew coffee gum, especially since my morning gum is usually to get the coffee taste out, but it did sound kind of good to me. I think it could be done right. Also, banana is a good flavor. Which I guess is why Bananas Foster was one of the options Extra has going up against the challenge winner.
  • Raspberry Panna Cotta with Linzer Crust: Um, what? Ah, yes, that beloved dessert recognized around dinner tables everywhere. Failure to 'get' the challenge in my view. But they mentioned a gingerbread flavor, which would be a great holiday edition gum.
  • Passion Fruit Gelee with Coconut Tapioca: Yet again we have something which, while a dessert, isn't a standard. Blah.
  • Chocolate Cream Cookie with Orange Cheesecake: I'm confused. Is this an orange-flavored Oreo, basically? No. Cheesecake, maybe that would be interesting. Oreo might be interesting, but tough to pull off. And having to call it something non-branded is just silly-sounding.
  • Black Forest Cake: I'm totally on board with this one. It's a classic dessert that sounds good and doesn't overlap with the current catalogue of available flavors.
The third option you could vote for was Root Beer Float. I'm good with that too. It's a hard candy, so they should be able to recreate that flavor pretty well. It makes me want them to come up with a soda line of flavors, because Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, and Coke all sound good to me now.

Also, I have one more suggestion not covered in any of these instances: Cherry Pie. Come on, it's the All-American classic! It doesn't cover the same ground as Apple Pie, and I would think cherry is within their range to make chewable.

And so ends the disturbing glimpse into how much I love gum. Good night!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

No, You're Not Crazy

Well, maybe you are, but it would not be indicated by any confusion you may have about the appearance of this site. After my last post, I decided to finally play around and choose a new template. I never liked the dark background with light text, but it seemed apocalypse-appropriate. This is more like an apocalypse caused by an avalanche of books. Anyway, enjoy, and don't forget to read the new tagline...

Cupcake...Leftovers? Are Those Even Possible?

Well, my friends, it's true. Even I, with my great love of all things cup and cake, can find myself with too many on hand to feasibly eat fresh. It's those darned Groupons and their deals on a dozen. I'm too selfish to share them with others, but too calorically limited to just gobble them all up at once as I would like. So into the freezer they go.

Once they come out, depending on how good I was about putting them in something airtight, and how long they were lost in the black hole that is my freezer, they may or may not be best eaten as is once thawed. Often they'll have lost a little moistness, and while the frosting is still sweet and delicious, it's also not quite soft.

But waste not, want not, and that's a lot of goodness to want. And so, my culinary inventiveness was called upon to rescue deliciousness from the void. Would I respond to the call?

You know it.

Here's what I started with:

A Bavarian Cream cupcake from Lick It, Bite It, Or Both in Austin. Yum.

Here's what I did:
  1. Unwrapped it. (duh)
  2. Took off the frosting piped on top and set aside for later. It was still cold from a fridge thaw, so it mostly just chipped off.
  3. Cut the cake into four flat slices.
  4. In a small-ish Tupperware, I mixed: 1/8 cup egg substitute, 1/8 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, a dash of cinnamon, and a splash of Torani sugar-free syrup, chocolate flavored.
  5. I set the slices of cake into the eggy mixture and swirled it around, spooned it over the top of all the slices, just generally made sure that it was going to absorb it all as much as possible.
  6. With a lid on the Tupperware, I put it back in the fridge to absorb for a few hours.
  7. When it was time to feast, I sprayed a frying pan, turned the flame on medium-high, and carefully spatula-ed the slices into the pan.

  8. After they seemed to be sizzling, I flipped them over. This is really a judgement call, and I'm sure I'll get my skills fine-tuned, but those experienced in french toast would know better than I what to look for.

  9. And then it was just a little more waiting before I had cupcake french toast ready to enjoy.
And enjoy I did. That frosting that I set aside? Totally forgot about it, but I just ate it later when I saw it in the fridge.

So, yeah. I took a cupcake and made it into french toast. I didn't eat it for breakfast, if that makes it any less horrific for any of you. And I'm not really sorry if it doesn't, 'cause it was good.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The three month mark...

I've been in my current position about three months now. That may seem like a fairly unimportant milestone, but for me, it has hidden significance.

I've worked in this same location, with several of the same people, twice before. Both times it was as a summer intern. So this is around the time of year when we would be wrapping things up, running out of tasks that I could keep myself busy with without leaving half-done and starting to migrate my desk flair back home. Instead, I'm taking over the management of a major task with a timeline stretching through next year and looking into buying one of those My K-Cup things so I can use my own coffee with the office Keurig machine.

I distinctly remember one summer feeling like I couldn't imagine going into work 9-to-5 like this without knowing that it was only going to last for a certain period. Actually, I think that seeing this as a long-term, semi-permanent thing is better. It means I can settle in and get comfortable, knowing that there isn't a designated stopping point. I've always said I'm a person who loves ruts, and this is one, endless rut. And I mean that in the best way possible.

So as the summer interns reach the end of their time in the office, I mentally send them off with that slightly-patronizing nostalgia of having once been like them. And after taking a moment to pause and reflect.....I then turn right back to my monitor, because I have work to do, darn it!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


There are three stages of being a kid: actually being a kid, growing up just enough to hate being a kid, and growing up further to wish that you could be a kid again. When you enter the final phase, you return to some of those behaviors that were shunned for a few years as being something 'kids' do. What was childish becomes nostalgic, and what was 'so uncool' becomes a rose-tinted memory.

Having firmly entered that third phase, I dream of a channel which streams a direct feed of 90s Nickelodeon (including commercials), skirts that spin up when you twirl, and, of course, drinks that are made up of at least half a dozen different sodas.

You know you did it. You went up to the soda fountain with your plastic cup and you expertly mixed a cocktail of Coke. You brazenly added fruit punch to root beer and blended Pepsi and Dr. Pepper. Add a dash of Sprite for a refreshing citrus twist, and you had something which may or may not be considered drinkable by an adult, but which was a nectar of the soft drink gods.

Today, that childlike wonder is excited in me again whenever I go to an eatery which boasts a Freestyle soda machine. If you haven't heard about them, they are these soda fountains with touch screen interfaces that contain 100+ options. Drinks that don't exist anywhere else, like Orange Coke Zero and Raspberry Fanta. With such strange ingredients, it would be wrong to simply fill up on one and walk away.

So far I've relied heavily on the Fanta Zero options to bring out the subtle fruitiness of other sodas, like Dr. Pepper, root beer and Coke Zero. I hope eventually to stumble upon some bubbling cup of carbonated perfection. I haven't gotten there yet, but I've been lucky enough to avoid any concoctions that have to be completely abandoned.

Now if only I could get that 90s Nickelodeon stream set up...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Smelling salts, STAT!

Ahh, the human body. It really is quite expertly crafted. It has been fine-tuned over the years to the peak of performance, despite the crazy things we do to it. Let's take a moment to marvel.


Okay, moment over. The reason for this wonderment is that this week I gave blood for the first time. There was a drive at work, and it's one of those things that just seems like such a good thing to do that when it's that convenient, why wouldn't you? So I did. Passed the barrage of questions about where my blood and I have been, had an acceptable blood pressure and iron level, and began pumping away.

I was a little nervous, because there's the whole "Wait ten minutes to stand up, eat a cookie, etc." business. But I was fine. Had a Tootsie Pop, squirreled away a snack pack of Oreos and Nutter Butters and was on my way to an afternoon of productive documentation work. I felt a little drained maybe, but fine.

The trouble was when I got home. The sofa just felt so darned comfy I waited too long to start making dinner, a savory oatmeal with beef jerky and dried cherries. Yes, I'm weird, moving swiftly on. Anyway, I had the liquids warming up, was measuring out the oatmeal when my mom came home and asked me how I was feeling. "Fine," I said. "I can feel my lack of food a little..."

Right on cue, there it was. That knee-buckling sensation that you must put yourself closer to the ground. I knelt to the ground, and the next thing I know, I'm staring at the dust under the refrigerator and being spoon-fed cinnamon honey butter for a quick boost of sugar. Ahh, sweet elixir of life. Thank you, cute little teddy bear on the label, for bringing me back.

After walking my mother through the rest of the process of my strange oatmeal concoction, I spent the rest of the night delicately on the sofa, making sure I could stand up, and thinking of things to eat. The next day I paranoically ate a Starburst in the middle of the morning to bypass a feeling of faintness which may or may not have been real.

But now I'm fine, fully-nourished and feeling slightly better prepared for the next blood drive. You know what that means: I'm bringing my jar of honey butter.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Introducing: Me (Again)

So now that I'm back, I feel like I should introduce myself. My name is still Joanna. And I'm still a writer. Only now, I'm also an editor. Well, a technical editor. But that still counts.

Here's a little backstory. My father has worked for the same company for decades. Without naming names, it's one of Austin's several tech companies. While I was still in school, I interned with the company twice in two different groups as part of their documentation teams, focusing on their initiatives to move into the more dynamic world XML deliverables.

And so, a few months ago, I received a call out of the blue from one of my former managers. She had a spot open on her editing team and had yet to find a candidate that had everything she was looking for. She asked me to submit a resume, I went in to interview a week later and the next day she offered me the position. And I took it.

Now, I was employed in my retail position at the time. And in yet another post I'm sure I'll go into detail on the agonizing feelings of guilt and awkwardness of quitting a job for the first time. But this is about what I do today, and about avoiding another five-month gap between posts. So I gave up my life of retail and drew a rolling chair up to a desk as an editor of technical documentation. Plugging away at the grammatical inconsistencies of those who care more about bytes and binary than a turn of phrase. I'm still also writing for Examiner five times a week. Perhaps you can see why I haven't been writing, I'm practically out of words!

But I'm not out of subjects, so now that you know me again, allow me to tell you some stories of life in the 9-to-5 world. What a strange and wondrous place it is...

Monday, July 11, 2011


Yeah, there's no cool and casual way to return to a blog four months later. So, sorry. All I can say is that I have a good reason, and I have news!

So, I guess I'm now living in a post-post-apocalyptic world. Because, about a week before my two-year graduation anniversary, I started work in a 'real', full-time job. Woo-hoo!

I will go into further detail, but this draft has been sitting in 'Edit' for over a week, and I don't want to prolong the publishing any longer. Basically, I have a job, and it keeps me busy. But it also gives me lots of ideas for posts. So stay tuned...please. I promise I'll reward you with content this time.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Feminist Listening of Bruno Mars

I drafted this up a while ago and never got around to hitting 'Publish' somehow. So, for a Valentine's Day special, here's a bitter rant on something meant to be romantic...

When one is looking for social truths, one rarely turns to the top 40 pop hits on the radio. After all, we all know that those California Girls can't hold a candle to us Texas gals. But sometimes, on repeated listening, a song just offends my sensibilities so much that I have to rant about it. Maybe it's my Sarah Lawrence education that turns every thought into a thesis, and Lord knows that pesky feminism can be so debilitating in day to day life. But since everyone within earshot is sick of hearing about it, it's time to pester the blogosphere.

After just a few times hearing Bruno Mars' song 'Just the Way You Are', the cute catchy song revealed some slightly unnerving lyrics. Here's my issue: this song perpetuates some really annoying stereotypes about the way girls are supposed to act. Even while it seems to be uplifting, it is in fact rather patronizing. Let's break it down.

Right in the first verse, there's her hair. It 'falls perfectly without her trying.' Because beauty isn't beauty if you know that she used her Chi and doesn't actually wake up perfectly quaffed. But a minor infraction, you say. Perhaps I'm being a bit to nitpicky.

Fine. So explain the fact that when he compliments her she won't believe him? That doesn't seem a little strange? Sure, he says it's sad. But kind of like a pleading puppy dog's eyes are sad. Low self-esteem is such a turn on. In girls, at least. Who cares if she's apparently constantly asking him if she looks okay. Better that than a confident girlfriend who doesn't rely on your lyrical hyperbole to feel attractive.

And then there's her laugh. It's so sexy. But she hates it. Am I cynical to think that part of the reason it's sexy is that very fact that she hates it? Again, why is it so important that every attractive feature be followed by her own negation of it? After all, if she didn't need you to tell her she was beautiful every day, maybe she wouldn't need you at all.

When I think of the girl in this song, I imagine that classic Hollywood cliche where the suave gentleman pulls the glasses off of his secretary and has her shake out her hair, proclaiming in surprise that she's beautiful. And she, of course, can't believe it either. Her beauty is dependent on his viewing of it, almost as much as it is dependent on her disinterest in it. After all, if she cared, suddenly she would be a vain seductress. No, there must be innocence and naivete to match the sparkling eyes and shiny hair.

I'm sorry, but this is really not that cute. It doesn't make me think that Bruno Mars is the sweetest guy and would make the nicest boyfriend. It makes me think that he's yet another media outlet telling me and every other girl to shut up and look pretty. Pretty, of course, as judged by boys. Not yourself. You have nothing to do with it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Marching Through Middlemarch

Since one of my resolutions is to read my own books before buying more, I've been eying my collection and sizing up what to read next. But there's a catch that's keeping me from actually opening up another cover, and it's a big one.

You see, on the heels of finishing Aimee Bender's 'The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake', which was, I have to say, satisfying but mildly disappointing, I was feeling optimistic about my ability to tackle any book, and I was feeling lofty in terms of literature. And so, I picked up.....'Middlemarch'.

Oi vey. Over a thousand pages. I've made it past the first hundred, and I am really enjoying it, truly. But my moments with George Eliot are mere minutes stolen before work, during a break on a particularly long shift, or taken when I can tear myself away from the computer screen and my many freelance obligations. I'm experiencing the courtship between Dorothea and Mr Casaubon almost in real time. Well, that's an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. Were I still in school, this book would probably have taken me two weeks. Two weeks of hard reading with some possible resentment, but still.

Speaking of, I'm going to have another glowing nostalgia moment. Reading this book makes me so appreciate taking 'The 18th-Century British Novel in Context'. Because it gave me, well, context. Eliot makes a lot of references in this thing, and I'm getting quite a few of them without flipping to the back for the footnotes (it's a cheap Bantam edition, so they aren't really worth it anyway). Also, it has resulted in something kind of strange: a favorite chapter. I don't think I've ever had one of those before, but number 15 is the one here. It started with the reference to Fielding and intro-ing the chapter as if it came straight from 'Tom Jones'. But my love was then solidified with the consideration of why we don't think of the romance of finding the career you love with the one you love (i.e. a person). It has the same ebb and flow, and can be just as, if not more, defining to your life and identity. That resonates with me to such an extent, nothing could possibly top chapter 15, I don't care what drama is to come.

And so, I stare at my not-yet-organized bookshelf and look longingly on the books which await me. And it really isn't fair to poor old George. She went to the trouble to write these thousand-plus pages, and by golly, I'm going to enjoy every one of them. If most of them happen to be read in the parking lot when I'm early for work, so be it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Click-click-bloody-click PANCAKES!

When it comes to food, I have definite phases. I find something I like, which has a manageable number of calories, and become enthralled. It becomes a staple on my menu for a few weeks, until I get a little burnt out and find something new to salivate over. It maintains a slot on my roster, but it's no longer craving #1.

Some examples of food phases: Diana's Banana Babies (frozen bananas dipped in chocolate - so good!), Lean Pockets (you can't get anything that cheesy and bready for under 300 calories by making it yourself), Tootsie Pops (how many licks does it take? I still don't know...), sushi (just in general, fueled by my time in Tokyo) get the idea. Lots of different kinds of food are discovered, coveted, and then stored away.

Right now, I'm in a serious pancake phase. From a boxed mix, if you only use one nutritional serving size (which is sadistically a third of the smallest serving the back of the box gives directions for), you can get a healthy dose of pancakes for 150-200 calories. That's either two smaller cakes or one more hefty cake.

From that simple principle, my mind has conjured millions of varieties. There's the traditional fried egg on top, using the pancake to sop up the yolky goodness. Maybe a side of turkey bacon to complete breakfast's lighter side. Leftovers one night gave me a flash of inspiration: salmon pancakes! Taking the leftover filet baked the night before, I flaked it into the batter, spread Laughing Cow on top. Also works with shredded smoked salmon and also topped with a fried egg for ultimate decadence.

Tonight, I have just enjoyed a sweeter concoction. Into the batter went a little chopped banana, then onto the pancake went a tablespoon of locally made Pecan Pumpkin Honey Butter, and slices of the rest of the banana. Scrumptious. I'm thinking that maybe swirling the nut butter into the batter itself might be tempting. Also, the mind reels at the concept of perhaps white chocolate chips, dried cranberries, or other delights being added in. Ahh, the mental sugar rush!

I'm also planning another savory pancake utilizing a previous phase that never really went out of fashion with my taste buds: buffalo chicken. I'm thinking shredded chicken in the batter, with buffalo sauce replacing the maple syrup. Too much? I don't care, I'm going for it!

Because it works in so many different ways, pancakes have enjoyed a stronghold on my palate for almost a month now. Not every night, of course, but it wouldn't be going too far to say multiple times a week. It's relatively quick and simple, and actually pretty fun to come up with, so I'm thinking it's chances of maintaining this kitchen celebrity are pretty high.

So yes, pancakes might as well be street for crack, because they are addictive.

(Just so everyone knows, that last line is a continuation of the 'Family Guy' reference in the title, not a comment on actual recreational drug usage.)

Friday, January 7, 2011


That was my reaction, plus an additional expletive, this morning when I stepped onto the scale. In a good way.

I write down everything I eat in a little Moleskine mini graph paper notebook. And the front sheet has my stats from whenever that volume was started. Today I started a new book, so I did the requisite weighing and tape measuring. Other than this, I haven't really been weighing myself or anything. I just do what I do, and notice how clothes fit. I didn't expect to see a number much lower than the last time, because you obviously lose less as you go. Also, I guess there is just a way you view yourself that you never expect to see change. And despite all the weight loss, I still had an image of myself as a number that was rounder. 150 seemed to make sense for some reason, and I was looking for a mid-140 to stare back at me.

So when the dial pointed to 135, it was a 'holy' reaction. I just confronted a number I had never associated with myself, and I wasn't prepared. It wasn't the difference of a few pounds, it was reaching this range that...I don't know how to describe it, it was just another milestone that reminded me the enormity of what I've done.

Another number: 6. I went to Kohl's last weekend and scoured the clearance racks for some jeans that weren't baggy (isn't it sad when you have to move on from a pair of jeans?) and ended up with a pair that were a size 6. But that's not just me, right? That's like a society thing that this number means something. It makes me feel like I've entered some other arena of clothing or something.

But anyway, I'm still reeling from my moment on the scale this morning. It's just as well that I didn't have to go into work!

No Dewey Decimals Here

There is a terrible truth which I have been avoiding for a few months now, but must be faced. Much as I would like to simply forget and hope for the solution to magically put itself into place, it will not be so. Here is the plain and awful fact: I have too many books.

No, that's a lie. You can never have too many books. There are even books you can never have too many copies off. Which means that actually, I don't have enough bookshelf. I have passed the point where squeezing and strategic arrangement will make them fit, and have at least one shelf's worth of books more than can currently be housed.

And so, I will have to find more room for my books, which more than likely means making room in my room for another shelf. And that is only the beginning of a very serious and personal process. Because anyone who collects books like Halloween candy (and enjoys a similar high from digesting their loot) and harbors that strange sense of organization that never seems to translate into actually keeping things clean but likes to arrange things just so...well, they are bound to have their own way of organizing things. And it's not by Dewey Decimals.

Unlike my CDs, which used to be organized alphabetically (before they were imported into iTunes and boxed up), and my DVDs, which are alphabetized after separating film from TV, my books are much more artistically arranged by subject and when I read them. There are several shelves of school reads which were memorable enough (but not too traumatic) to make a permanent place in my heart. A little further back in time are my collection of extra-curricular young adult books, like Sweet Valley or, on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, Cynthia Voigt. After that, it's mostly fiction versus non-fiction, worthwhile literature versus guilty pleasures. There are a lot of personal choices which have to be made. And aside from accurate placement, it also matters that sections form neat, full shelves rather than spilling onto half of another shelf. Anthony Trollope should not have to touch covers with 'Knocked Out by My Nunga Nungas'.

So there you are. An all-too-disturbing look into the quirks which make everyday activities serious endeavors. It is exhausting being me.

Monday, January 3, 2011


It's a new year, so now that we've all had our fill of soft and dreamy perfume ads, it's time to be inundated with commercials for gyms and weight loss plans. Side note: now that I have actually lost weight, I do take a little bit of pleasure in these ads. There's a radio one that asks, 'Are you 50 pounds or more overweight?' And 9 times out of 10, I'll mumble to myself in the car, 'Not anymore.'

But anyway, resolutions. Weird things. The stuff of fluffy filler articles (like the ones I've done for Examiner this week!), they seem to disappear after, maybe March. Maybe they fly north for the summer, I don't know. But what is a go-go talking point in January is rarely considered in July. Resolutions, like rules, seem made to be broken. Who really expects to fulfill their resolutions all 365 days of 2011? I don't. I guess I'm just making them in the hopes that I'll be able to keep a few at least some of the time, because it's better than not.

Some people go with one big resolution, but this year I'm compiling a list of smaller ones. Things like, 'Organizing my books on the bookshelf' and 'Knitting without Mom's help'. Things that aren't life-altering but are just good to try and accomplish. There is one, though, that I think qualifies as The Big One. The resolution that is tantamount to altering a core weakness of bad habit that you have cultivated and swear to address this year.

For me, my resolution is to put myself out there a little more. If you know me, you probably know that I'm the kind of person who enjoys ruts. Give me a schedule to follow for my entire life, and as long as it includes TV, I'll happily follow it. Unfortunately, that leads to me surviving more than living, especially socially. Living at home, it's far to easy to rely on my mother for company. Hey, she makes great company, but then, so would other people. And it's not natural that after the first flush of excitement, having plans to go somewhere can often leave me feeling afraid and wishing I could just stay on the couch and return to the comfort of that same TV.

So yeah. I'm not promising myself that I'm going to be a social butterfly that goes out for happy hour on her own and makes friends spontaneously without an ounce of self-consciousness. No, I'm not insane. I'm just talking about a concerted effort to silence the voice in my head that says, 'Just stay home,' and to consider doing little things to break up the monotony of work, write, sleep.