Riddle Me This

13 01 2009

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For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook or LinkedIn (shame on you!), I am now an official source of knowledge. I received a call yesterday from a reporter at msnbc.com (thanks to my pal Kelby at Type-A Mom) for a story she was writing on the dangers of using Vicks Vapo Rub on little kids. For the record, I am pro-Vicks, when used correctly. Read all about it here. While I’m thrilled to have been asked, I’m a bit disturbed and perplexed. Apparently, the national media now considers me a credible source because I have a child and a blog, never mind that I could, in theory, be some random crackpot. Ah, the power I wield just by having a vagina! Now, if only I could solve that whole women-making-78-cents-to-every-dollar-a-man-makes-for-the-same-job thing!

Since I have been out of work a whopping two weeks now, I have finally had the time to think about who I want to be and the image I want to project as a professional, which, of course, screams makeover. As a marketing maven, I prefer to refer to this as “personal branding.” However, it has finally dawned on me that as a woman, I am constantly in a state of reinvention – for a new job, new man, etc. – and, perhaps I don’t know the authentic me as well as I should. Is it possible that we all renovate ourselves on such a regular basis that we lose touch with our true selves? Did I mention that I have way too much time on my hands?

Since I have all of this free time, I have been putting it to good use – and Hubs’s waistline is reaping the benefits! I’ve been cooking quite a bit and am in the midst of deciding what I want to make tomorrow for dinner. I could go relatively healthy with a white bean-chicken chili concoction or go in a more interesting direction with mini burgers. Mind you, I’d have to bake the buns myself since I have a specific bread type in mind, plus I have limited fixins, so this could be a bit of a challenge. Any thoughts?

Finally, I’m still having trouble adding pictures to my post now that WordPress has updated their interface. Maybe it’s just my craptastic computer? What I need for this blog is a sponsor – someone who will litter my beautiful little blog with their garish
logos, but give me a really sweet new laptop in exchange for the free advertising. Any takers?





I Feel Like an Actual Writer Now!

11 12 2008

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Those who know me know that I write for Blissfully Domestic, which is a magazine for women, and I get to write about the things that I find fascinating – cooking, cleaning, organizing, etc. (yeah, I really SHOULD get out of the house more often!). This week I’m running a contest with prizes and everything. Check it out here.

Speaking of writing, I have all kinds of exciting prospective projects in the pipeline, so thanks, everyone, for your encouragement and well wishes.

Not looking forward to tonight. Hubs and I are having our weekly financial summit where we lay out bills and the calendar and plot out when things get paid. Not the most exciting thing, but it’s a great time for us to get everything straightened out and both of us on the same page.

Still having a hard time with the news of an old friend’s death. I learned about it on Facebook and what shocks me most is how soon her death happened after her father’s. My dad died 18 years ago (yesterday was the anniversary) and it was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. I still think about him everyday and miss him terribly. I wish I could have been able to talk to my friend about her feelings surrounding her dad’s death. The funeral is this Saturday and a lot of us are going. Not really the way I wanted to reconnect with my old friends.

I have to ask – what is it about the term “social media” that makes people’s ears perk up? I mentioned to a contact that I am involved in social media and consider myself somewhat of an amateur strategist. Suddenly, he starts asking all kinds of questions and throws ideas at me. Guess I’ll have to ponder that for a bit!





Lights Out, Uh Huh…

18 09 2008

You may or may not be aware of the massive blackouts that have occurred from Texas all the way up to New York (hence, my J. Geils Band reference), but we felt Hurricane Ike’s wrath all the way up here in Hooterville. In fact, the entire town was basically shut down four an entire week. I know I really shouldn’t complain about not having electricity for four-ish days when there were people in Texas who lost their homes, but I really do find disruptions to my routine distressing. All of the forced downtime gave me some time to think as I got caught up on my housework and I have had several mini-revelations I’d like to share with you:

1. There are stages you go through during a long-time blackout, much like the stages of dying and/or grief:

  • Shock. “Oh my God, the lights are out! I wonder how long this will go on? Where are the candles?”
  • Elation. “Really? I don’t have to go to work today? I can get some one-on-one time with my kid AND get caught up on my housework? And I can’t do the laundry I’ve been putting off? Score!”
  • Boredom. “Sure, we can sing the clean-up song from Barney while wearing tiaras and blowing bubbles in the backyard! We’ve got all day, my little friend! I’ve already cleaned the house, alphabetized the toys in your room, AND made a scrapbook of your third cousin Itchy’s wedding!” (Meanwhile, you’re secretly plotting a looting spree with your girlfriends because there really is nothing else to do)
  • Denial. “The lights won’t be on til two weeks from Tuesday? Nuh-uh. They’ll be on tomorrow. I just know it! The crews are working really hard.”
  • Anger. “What?! (struggling to maintain composure) You told me this morning that the power would be back tonight. Now you’re telling me that it won’t be back for another week? Hold on a sec… (tone becomes increasingly shrill) If I told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, don’t bother Mommy while she’s on the phone. Yes, I know you need to go to the potty! (pause) Figure it out! Just leave Mommy alone! She’s talking to the nice man from the %$#!@ electric company! (tone brightens a little) Now, what were you saying?”
  • Bargaining. “Maybe if I get my house clean and ready for the power to reappear, the lights will magically come on all by themselves. It could happen! Kind of like ‘Field of Dreams’…if I clean it, they will come.”
  • Acceptance. “Screw it. The power is never coming back and I’m going to die a horrible death at the hands of looters who will step over my lifeless body as they search for my iPod, which they’ll probably sell for crack, anyway. Bastards. Where’s the wine?”

2. During a lengthy blackout, your spouse and children can do nothing right. Just accept it and relocate to an undisclosed location and be done with it.

3. Too much time on your hands is a bad thing. Trust me on this.

4. In the shower, no one can hear you scream, especially if you stuff a washcloth in your mouth first.

You think I’m kidding, don’t you? I have never dropped the f-bomb as many times in my life as I did over the past few days. Seriously, it was ugly and I’m just now starting to come down from all of the excitement.





All I Really Need to Know in Life I Learned This Week

26 07 2008

So here’s a rundown of the valuable life lessons learned this week:

1.) If you’re a jackass when you drink, there is no amount of liquor that will make you less so. And when a friend’s spouse is annoyed with you for something assy you said or did, it is not a good idea to drunk dial said spouse to plead your case and try to get back in their good graces. Especially when you’re drunk to the point of forgetting said spouse’s name. And definitely not a good idea if you’re even the slightest bit belligerent when intoxicated.

2.) Even when the “empty” light is not on, if your gas gauge is on “E,” you are out of gas. Period.

3.) Hot dogs, no matter how finely diced, do not belong in your nose.

4.) Do not rely on the “recall email” function to save your ass when you reply to a client’s email with the cute, flip humor you’re known for, when you actually meant to FOWARD that email to a co-worker.

5.) Those personality quirks you found charming in your spouse when you were dating? Yeah, they’ll make you want to stab him/her in the eye with a pencil when you’re trying to quit smoking.

6.) After day 4, it’s not the nicotine I crave, so much as the routine I had (remember I’m very set in my ways, so even tiny upsets to my normal behavior patterns can be upsetting).

Hope this helps as you wend your way through this crazy maze we call life. Any questions? See the guy in the kitchen. I’ll be out back, taking a smoke break (just kidding!).

Speaking of quitting smoking, I’m on day 6, but I did cheat yesterday. Just once and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I felt dizzy and nauseous, plus I couldn’t stop coughing. It was like my lungs were saying, “what are you doing to us? We don’t like this! We were clean and now look at what you’ve done!” Kinda sounds like me when I’m trying to serve the kids lunch and NOT have the dining room look like a bomb went off.

On this weekend’s agenda – the budget, hiding from the kids, and latest challenge from the Daring Bakers. This one’s going to take a while, but it’s going to be sooooo good!





First Challenge…Done!

29 04 2008

For those of you who don’t know, I am a member of an online group called the Daring Bakers. This month’s challenge was cheesecake pops, which are basically bites of cheesecake on a popcicle stick. Per the group’s rules, I stuck to the recipe, however, instead of cream cheese, I used neufchatel, which is a lower fat version of cream cheese. I really prefer to make cheesecake out of neufchatel because it bakes a little lighter, and less oppressive. Also, I had a little trouble getting the sticks to stay upright, but I discovered that a.) if you lightly cover the balls with foil and poke the sticks through, they have something to hold them upright when they set. Also, b.) once you dip the balls in chocolate, it forms a seal around the stick. These are really good and, now that I have the hang of things, I’m planning to make them again this weekend.

Also, this is a photo from the original recipe (it was too pretty not to post!), as my camera is having issues. However, let it be known that I dipped my cheesecake balls in dark chocolate and then lightly rolled in graham cracker crumbs, in order to replicate that perfect bite of cheesecake.

Anyway, here’s the recipe:

Cheesecake Pops

Makes 30 – 40 Pops

5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature

2 cups sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

5 large eggs

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¼ cup heavy cream

Boiling water as needed

Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks

1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionary coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)

Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) – Optional

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.

Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

Be sure to visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see the creative Cheesecake Pops the other Daring Bakers created!

In other news, people keep talking about the whole Miley Cyrus thing and I have to say that I feel not one iota of sympathy for her. She willingly took off the flesh-colored tank top she was wearing and she approved the shots. Hell, the even spoke about them favorably in the article. And her parents and handlers were there during the photo session. Sounds to me like she was getting some heat from the Disney peeps and had to blame someone rather than take responsibility for her actions. Is the photo racy? For a 15 year old, yes. But so was the Rolling Stone cover shot of Britney Spears back in 1998 and there wasn’t anywhere near the public outcry there is over this. So why this photo? It’s actually pretty and kinda arty. And it probably wouldn’t be such a big deal if she didn’t go out of her way to issue an apology and talk about how “embarassed” she is. The Disney people are saying that this is exploitation of a 15 year old, but if we’re going to assign blame, how about if we direct it at the parents and handlers who were there, and conveniently left before this photo was taken? Who was protecting her interests if she’s so young and impressionable? She’s been in this business since she was 8 and is probably a lot savvier than people are willing to admit. In case you missed it, here is the photo. Discuss.