Don’t Give Up (Or Sometimes It’s OK to Vandalize the Kinkos Bathroom)

So I really want to wallow in self-pity today, but I’m not going to do it. I’m back in LA after a trip to Michigan, and now I’m experiencing some sort of post travel hangover.

You know, the kind that makes you want to get in the car again?

To go somewhere. Anywhere. Just so you don’t have to be in your own home facing your life again.

Because I kind of resemble a responsible adult, I’m not allowing myself to do that any more than I’m going to be all gloomy today.

See, my mother’s siblings and I went back to Michigan to celebrate my grandmother’s 86th birthday last week. While it was wonderful to be with my family, my grandfather passed away the day before her birthday two years ago, so the annual trip is always a bit bittersweet. I’ve allowed myself some time to be sad — and to celebrate with my family — and now it’s time to get back to business. This means blogging, setting calls, dusting around the TV, and other sorts of tedious activities. Well, not that blogging is totally tedious. I quite like it, actually.

I just find it hard to be all perky and witty when I’m not feeling it, but I guess life is about doing things even when you’re not feeling it sometimes. It’s about swinging at another pitch when your arms are aching. Getting out of bed when your heart is breaking. Walking another mile when your blisters burst two miles back. It’s about not giving up.

And sometimes, when you aren’t sure you can stand it another moment, someone else gives you the motivation.

I came across this graffiti in the Kinkos bathroom when I was having a bad day, and I was sort of glad someone had defaced the place with a Sharpie because I needed motivation. I also needed the reminder today when I wanted to crawl back in bed with the third Hunger Games book and avoid my life.

So, I’m going to be an adult today.

This means I’m going to turn off sad songs by The xx and blast the Billy Ocean so I can write my long overdue Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Post. I’m going to be an adult today.

Hell, I might even dust.

Drive By Bike Insults (Or I’m Not Sharing My Steak with Blue Cheese and Jalapeños)

Here’s what I love about my neighborhood: it’s dog friendly and it isn’t an uptight community where overbearing people tell you how you should be holding your dog’s leash or whatever. Here’s what I don’t like: weird people who shout at you while riding by on their bikes.

Usually I walk the dogs in some sort of baseball cap and yoga attire, but yesterday I was dressed in a sundress for church when I took the dogs out. Some guy with a strange fauxhawk thing happening on his head shouted at me, “Get a boyfriend!” as he rode by on his BMX looking bike.

Um, what?!?

Freak.

Is that what he said to you? I should have bitten him through his skinny jeans.

First of all, who says I don’t have one. (I mean, I don’t, but how does HE know?) Second, why is this any of his business anyway? And third… what in hell does he think he’ll accomplish by shouting at me?

Does he think I’ll go out with him because he’s the perpetrator of a drive by bike insult? Does he think I have dogs because I’m some sad, lonely spinster? Or is he just some weirdo being weird? (Most likely scenario.)

Does this sort of thing happen to other people or is it just me?

I mean I have had baristas who would harass me for being single. Like it’s so hard to believe a woman can like dogs, steak, and football and not be some guy’s girlfriend. Whatever. (“Just hand me my whole milk latte, Chuck Woolery!”) I mean it’s not like I don’t date.

I just, oh, never mind….

Let’s change the subject to happier things. Like the new album by The xx. And steak.

I would like to eat one tonight while I watch Denver and Atlanta on Monday Night Football.

Even though I think a New York Strip can totally stand alone on its own merit, I also think it can benefit from blue cheese and chiles from time to time.

Tonight I used this recipe to make a jalapeno and blue cheese sauce for my New York Strip.

The longer I stay single, the better I get at handling power tools and lighting a charcoal grill without setting myself on fire, so there’s that.

I also added the blue cheese jalapeno mixture to my baked potato, but you should be careful with this because the blue cheese can get a bit overpowering if you slather it all over everything.

Suck it, weird bike boy, I’m not sharing my steak. Besides, I bet you’re a vegan anyway.

There’s Booze in my Bon Bon! (Or How to Make Spiked Cherry Bon Bons)

This is my friend Tony.

Here we are on Thanksgiving. Giving thanks.

Tony is from Tennessee. And Tony makes moonshine. No, really.

See? Real legit moonshine.

He has a company called Ole Smoky, and they have been featured at the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen and all kinds of other fabulous places. Even though Tony couldn’t come to my birthday party this year, he sent some of his amazing moonshine cherries in his place. (Almost as awesome as having Tony at my party. Almost.)

The cherries are great by themselves and in cocktails, but I was looking at them this week and thought, “I must put these in chocolate.” So that’s sort of the genesis of my spiked cherry bon bons. (I also look at Slurpees and think, “Vodka!”, but that’s just me.)

If you don’t have access to Ole Smoky, you can soak maraschino cherries in vodka for 24 hours and use those. I tried both versions and I have to say the moonshine cherry variety was a little more subtle than its vodka soaked friend. I’m not just saying that because I love Tony. (For real.)

So anyway, if you want to make your own spiked cherry bon bons, here’s how you do it.

Spiked Cherry Bon Bons

Serving Size, 12 bon bons
(measurements are approximate)

12 moonshine cherries
12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
4 C vanilla ice cream
4 tsp shortening

Scoop ice cream with an ice cream scoop. Place a moonshine cherry in the center.

It’s essential to use a pig scooper to remind yourself not to eat all of the bon bons in one sitting.

Fold the ice cream around the cherry, forming a ball with your hands. Place immediately in the freezer. Repeat with remaining cherries.

After the ice cream has sufficiently frozen, melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler adding shortening, as necessary, to thin the mixture until it is suitable for dipping and pouring.

Dip the ice cream balls into the chocolate. If you find that the chocolate is not adhering uniformly, you can drizzle a little more chocolate on those areas later.

Immediately return the bon bon to the freezer and allow the chocolate to harden completely before serving. Repeat with remaining ice cream balls.

This boozy bon bon is all kinds of amazing. Truth.

This would probably work best with a firm ice cream (especially a homemade vanilla like this one).

I used a rather cheap generic vanilla and found that it melted faster than I would have liked. It still tasted amazing, though.

Now, crank up George Jones’ White Lightning, and go out and get you some moonshine. Now. Here’s a list of the places where you can pick some up.

My MacBook is Sick But Yeasayer Makes Me Smile (Or I’m Still Slugging)

So today’s post? Is coming to you from a computer that looks like this.

This sad machine is still slugging. Sort of like me.

Why?

Because my shiny new MacBook and I are on a break. And using a computer that looks like this beats the horror of using my iPad for anything more than messages that go something like, “I know, right? Call me.”

So anyway, I may have cried too much on my Mac while watching the JK Rowling speech yesterday or my trackwheel mouse thing was just faulty, ‘cuz the good people at Apple have to keep my Mac for a few days to perform some sort of computer surgery on it.

SO now I’m using my six year old Mac that isn’t fundamentally broken per say, save for the fact that it lacks sufficient hard drive space to hold all of my music (tragedy!), and the screen is only about 40% functional. (See, there was this incident while I was on a conference call last year….)

So, anyway, this has just been one of those weeks. You know the kind where your enormous dog accidentally trips you on a hike, you go flying in the air and rip all of the skin off of your shoulder and forearm?

What “enormous dog?” Surely, I have no idea what you’re talking about, woman.

And bruise your hip and your ribs? Yeah, that kind. The kind where you can no longer sleep on your left side and it hurts to lift your arm? Yeah….

At least the large area on my shoulder missing a lot of skin is the same area where I already had a scar. That scar? Was the result of a car colliding with my person while I was riding a bike in Santa Barbara. (I was 18 and selling books door to door at the time.)

So if you’re wondering why I’m blogging today with only half of a computer screen, I’ll tell you. Because I’m the same girl who went out and sold books on foot with stitches in her head and her arm in a sling after that car destroyed her bike. Because I’m the same girl who worked for some people in Hollywood who make Ari Gold look like a funny little teddy. And Because I’m a fighter.

And I have committed myself to writing. So that is what I will do. Even if I do it with half a screen and an aching arm.

And since this blog is really supposed to be about puppies, and cupcakes and rainbows, instead of sob stories about my flesh wounds, I will tell you that I am working on a recipe for Pina Colada Cupcakes right now.  I hope to have that for you next week.

Until then, I will leave you with some Yeasayer. They just released a new album this week, and I’m working on falling in love with it while writing this post.

Here they are, with their shiny words of wisdom. Enjoy.

Ambling Alp – “Now the world can be an unfair place at times, but your lows will have their compliment of highs. And if anyone should cheat you, take advantage of or beat you, raise your head and wear your wounds with pride. You must stick up for yourself son. Never mind what anybody else done.”

Tightrope– “But then I go again, wishing never solved a problem. If you wanna get it big time, go ahead and get it get it big time.”

Get it big time, y’all. I’m off to bake cupcakes.

Prince Harry, Pina Coladas, and Other Observations on Vegas. (Or I’m Looking for the Perfect Pina Colada)

Note to self: I need hurricane glasses. Pina Coladas just don’t look right when served in the wrong glassware.

You have probably already heard, but just in case you haven’t, Prince Harry’s blurry bum and bits are prominently featured on TMZ today. I mean, he was in Vegas, so it’s kind of, “Whatever. Leave the poor prince alone!” But it is the royal bum, so it’s breaking news. Or something.

(By the way, if you want to see the blurry pics of the prince, who apparently isn’t all that good at playing pool, here’s the link, but maybe don’t click on it if you’re at work.)

You’re welcome.

So, yeah, that’s all very different than my last trip to the strip. The last time I went to Vegas I had a large pina colada outside of Paris after a day at the pool and then promptly fell asleep snuggling with the dogs while watching TV.

The only available “glassware” for serving Pina Coladas outside of Paris were either this balloon situation or a large plastic Eiffel Tower that hung from my neck. I considered this the lesser of two aesthetic evils.

Clearly, I didn’t do Vegas right. I didn’t step on any burning cigarettes or broken glass while carrying my shoes across the strip at 7 am, I didn’t drop $400 on food in two days, and I didn’t play strip pool with a prince.

I mean, it should hardly even count as a trip to Vegas if about six girls aren’t washing their filthy feet in the spa tub at the same time and at least one person doesn’t play poker until dawn with an off season athlete. (And, no, that is absolutely not a euphemism.) But this was not that kind of trip. Not the kind that leads to dirty feet or royal debauchery, anyway.

After vacillating for weeks about meeting up with friends who were in town for a hockey tournament, I made a game day decision — like booked my room at 10 am and jumped in the car with the dogs at 11 am kind of game day decision. Obviously, I would never bring them for a wild weekend, but this was just a chill, catch up with friends by the pool kind of trip. Totally the kind for dogs. I should probably do a post on bringing dogs to Vegas because there are challenges, but it can be done, and I have the pictures to prove it.

Albus discovers that everything is super sized in Vegas. Even the cats.

Apparently, Albus has caught the scent of margaritas, quesadillas, and sin. This photo was taken moments before he tried to enter Margaritaville of his own volition.

So anyway, all of this TMZ talk of Vegas was really making me want a pina colada and some vintage booty music tonight, so I cranked up some bad 90s jams like Yolanda, Tootsee Roll, and Fatboy and pulled out the blender.

I mixed up a batch of pina coladas, and I have to admit it wasn’t life changing. I mean, it was pretty good and it wasn’t as cloyingly sweet as the crappy made from a mix kind, but I think I wanted more pineapple punch. Next time I’ll probably use fresh pineapple instead of the canned version in juice. I may even freeze the pineapple before mixing it and cut down on the ice so the drink will have a little more sweet pineappley pizzazz.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering: 68% of the TMZ audience? Now thinks Prince Harry is awesome.

(And, yes, I had to vote to find that out. I might have even voted twice. Don’t judge me. After all, I did hear about the royal debacle from NPR in the first place.)

Pina Colada

2/3 C light rum
2/3 C pineapple
2/3 C cream of coconut
3 C crushed ice

Add the rum, pineapple and cream of coconut and blend thoroughly. Add the crushed ice and blend completely.

To achieve a more uniform slushy consistency, I put the cocktail in my ice cream maker and let it do its magic for about ten minutes. That made it an awesome consistency.

If you have any other suggestions to improve upon the pina colada recipe, please hook me up. I need to find my perfect Prince Charming Pina Colada.

Peter Pan Party Aftermath Post 5 (Or Here’s a Simple Salsa Verde Recipe)

This simple salsa verde is super yummy.

Sometimes you need to reach into the music vault and bring back a song you’ve neglected for a while. Today it’s Y Control by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. While I don’t love the entire album, I do dig this song. It played a part of my past in many ways.

Example?

I happened to be singing it in my car when I found myself sitting in traffic next to an ex. When I heard the song today, it brought me back to that moment.

I’ll spare you the gory details of all that except to say LA is enormous and I run into him more than any other human on earth. And have for years. It wasn’t a particularly long relationship. Or a particularly heinous break up, but it made its mark.

I see him now and I feel an enormous sense of relief it didn’t work. I know it wasn’t supposed to — for a lot of reasons — not the least of which being that I needed to have many more adventures and more career success before settling down. I needed to do this thing on my own without being lulled into complacency by his success in showbusiness. Or his money.

So, anyway, we should talk about cilantro instead of boys because I like it better anyway.

Being spared a life that was too small and stifling for me  — and cilantro — are probably the best evidence of a benevolent God I can think of.

Come to think of it, so is salsa verde.

And just so I don’t bring you down too much, you should know I’m now listening to We Built this City at an unacceptable volume and getting close to dancing in my kitchen.

Salsa Verde

2 lbs tomatillos, husks removed
1 C diced onion
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 T fresh oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp kosher salt
2 C water
1/4 -1/3 C diced jalapenos (to taste)
1/3 C cilantro

Pour water into pot with tomatillos, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin and salt. Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium high and simmer until tomatillos are tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add cilantro and jalapenos.

Carefully blend the mixture in batches until smooth. If you’re like me, you may want to add a little more chopped cilantro so you have bigger bits in the salsa verde. If you don’t like cilantro, I feel truly sorry for you. (Kidding.)

Once I’m done with this self-absorbed birthday madness I’ll put together a rundown of the projects and the menu in case you want to replicate the mess. Then I’ll try not to mention it again because I kind of want to forget this birthday ever happened.

I Love Scapulae and Sticky Fingers BBQ Sauce (Or It’s Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day!)

The shoulders of the US men’s volleyball team are pretty much enough to make a girl suddenly patriotic. I mean, like, whoa.

Good shoulders are absolutely non-negotiable. (Photo courtesy of ibitimes.)

OK, now that we’ve covered my love of clavicles, scapulae, and Team USA, let’s talk about my other favorite thing: food.

Today is Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day, and I’m excited to tell you about the fabulous box I received from Leigh at One Day at a Time. She sent me absolutely delightful snackies.

Get jealous of my goodies.

Her adorable son even picked out the suckers to put in my package! I must have had PMS or something when I read that part of her note because I swear I almost got tears in my eyes. (For real.) Leigh originally hails from South Carolina, so I had the distinct pleasure of scoring Sticky Fingers BBQ sauce from her, and whoa, is that stuff good.

I’m absolutely up to my eyes in birthday and baby shower prep at the moment, and despite spending obscene sums of money on food, I don’t actually have anything to eat in my house (aside from this heavenly swag). I have basically been living on a rotisserie chicken from Costco for the last two days, and I have been slathering it with that heavenly, heavenly sauce. It tastes a bit like a honey mustard – but so much better.

There were many other wonderful items in the box, but that was by far the star. Plus, it was cool to try something I can’t find in LA.

Some of the other highlights were the white cheddar popcorn and the Haribo gummy bears (which I coincidentally sent to my Foodie Pen Pal). Oh, and the fruit leather saved my life last week when I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown from low blood sugar. I’m actually still working my way though the box of loot, but I’m loving everything so far.

But back to that BBQ sauce for a moment. You should get some. Here’s the link. You know, just in case you have a Carolina Classic Emergency or something….

So, anyway, I need to turn up the Neon Indian and return to my pirate cookie situation. They’re cooling on wire racks atop my tall book shelves to keep my Boxer from investigating them with his face while I write.

I’ll post that recipe tomorrow, K? I promise.

The Lean Green Bean