Random Saturdays – Christmas Treats

Christmas is not even here yet, but I have partaken in many a Christmas treat.  Allow me to share some of my favorite goodies that have helped me fatten up and stay warm this Christmas season.

Caramel Apple Praline Cookies – Central Market
Someone at work brought these to our team and they were so delicious!  Dried apple pieces, caramel, chopped almonds and pecans…If it weren’t for all the sugar, they’d be pretty healthy.

Chocolate Cherries – Marich
These are dried cherries covered in chocolate.  The cherries are soft and the chocolate is smooth.  They’re so rich that I can’t eat more than two at a time.  How crazy is that?!

Holiday Popcorn Tins
It doesn’t matter what brand it is, I love popcorn.  I love the holiday popcorn tins because they’re cute and they usually have flavors you don’t get the rest of the year either.  Oh, and they’re everywhere.  I went through two tins (almost entirely on my own) before I stopped because my gums were torn up and the only popcorn left was maple and bacon flavor.  Even Blackish shouted out to the wonderfulness that is multiple flavors of popcorn in one container.

Jacobsen’s Danish Butter Cookies – World Market
These cookies are everywhere are Christmastime.  My beloved husband turns his nose up at most brands because they only have one kind of cookie with the giant sugar crystals on them.  Jacobsen’s has three different kinds of cookies with the giant sugar crystals on them.  Eseentially, they’re all made of the same cookie dough, but in different shapes.  Something about the sugar crystals makes them feel more special, though.

I’m too hungry to continue this list now.  Let me know if I forgot anything particularly yummy so that I can eat it!

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Random Saturdays – Thanksgiving Guide for Aliens

We do not have the kids this Thanksgiving (and I’m writing this post before Thanksgiving).  It took longer than normal to figure out what we’d do for Thanksgiving this year because we didn’t have to figure out when we’d pick up the kids, what activities they had, what activities our friends and families had, and how to be as efficient with our time as possible so that everyone got to see the kids and nobody’s friends or families were forgotten.  When we realized that we wouldn’t have the kids this year and that nobody had offered any solid plans for us to add to the calendar, we had no idea what to do with our time.

I had been talking to some friends about their different plans for the holiday and I read many articles in magazines and online about how to plan a stress-free Thanksgiving or how to deal with the stress of Thanksgiving.  There are also plenty of articles on how to decorate, clean, and cook for Thanksgiving.  I love Thanksgiving!  I love that we, as a country, set aside a time to be grateful for anything and everything.  If an alien visited the U.S. during Thanksgiving, though, how would we explain Thanksgiving?  I mean, there’s history with Pilgrims and Native Americans and whatnot, but that would mean nothing to an alien.  How do we explain how we celebrate Thanksgiving now?  The obvious answer is that we’d compile a list of Must Dos and post it on the internet for all the aliens to read.

Thanksgiving Guide for Aliens

  1. Figure out when the most people are the most available.  Is everyone off on Thanksgiving?  Would meeting the weekend after work better?  Does anyone have child custody, probation, or Mogwai time restrictions that must be followed?
  2. Find a location big (or small) enough to hold the available people.  This could be someone’s house, a restaurant, or the neighbor’s backyard since they have a better landscaper than you and are out of town this week.
  3. Make a menu.  This is really important because the timing of everything else depends on when the food will be ready to eat.  My family always had Thanksgiving dinner.  Ben’s family always had Thanksgiving lunch.  I’ve even heard of Thanksgiving brunch.  It really doesn’t matter as long as the person cooking and the person arranging the location for eating are on the same timetable.  Everyone else can do whatever they want as long as they don’t make the person cooking wait to eat.  It’s even better if everyone makes a little something so that no one person has to do all the work.  I say this (a) having made entire Thanksgiving meals from scratch by myself because my perfectionist attitude and my tastebuds told me to and (b) my antidepressants now make me really unmotivated to do much of anything 90% of the time, despite my tastebuds.
  4. Cook, travel, gather, and eat.  Don’t argue (or fight) over something dumb.  This is a time to enjoy family, friends, and food.  As long as you have a sliver of one of those, then you’re doing well.  Don’t instigate arguments.  Don’t be snarky.  If someone says something snarky to you, ignore it.  I always feel sorry for those people because they are bursting with so much negativity that it just spews from their mouths like stinky farts.  Also, if you’re with your loved ones, then it’s safe to assume that they did not mean what they said in a way that would hurt you.  They either have diarrhea of the mouth or it sounded better in their heads.  Even if you know this person just likes to complain and pick arguments, consider it a mouth fart and be glad that you don’t mouth fart.
  5. Sleep.  Watch the parade.  Watch football.  Play games.  Eat way too much.  Read.  Go for a walk.  Enjoy this time because it will be a memory in the past before you know it.

That’s my guide to Thanksgiving for aliens.  There’s no need to thank me.  I just like to volunteer out of the kindness of my heart to check things off the Alien Invasion Preparedness List.

H A P P Y   T H A N K S G I V I N G !

Or Happy Random Thursday if you are not in the U.S.!

Random Saturdays – Food Love

I recently decided to try subscribing to Love with Food.  Each month, you get a box of snacks sent to you along with coupons and information on that month’s charity.  With every food box sold, the company donates one meal to feed the hungry.  Considering that similar snacks sell in the vending machines at work for around $2, the price and cause make the monthly Love with Food box very reasonable.  Honestly, I liked some of the snacks better than others, but that’s another plus of the food box.  You can try things without committing to jumbo bags of something that you might not like.

September was the Smarty Pants Tasting Box.  Like I said, it was hit and miss, but here’s what I thought:

  • Adult Complete Pack by Smarty Pants – These were gummy vitamins, but since they had gelatin and I don’t really like gummies, I didn’t try them.  I gave one to Dora and one to Lego and they liked them.  You have to eat like, 6 gummies to get your daily dose of vitamins.  So, it might be a better option for kids, who need smaller doses.  For now, I’ll stick to my regular multivitamins and supplements.
  • Sea Salt Caramel Apple by Bear Naked – Delicious!  I tried it alone and stirred into some Chobani Pumpkin Yogurt (bought separately).  Brilliant combination!
  • Mini Peanut Butter Clutter by JimmyBar! – This made me feel like I was eating a very fancy fig bar without the cakey part.  It wasn’t too sweet, not hard, not gloopy.  I was impressed.
  • Cookie Thins (Cake Batter OR Chocolate Chip) by Mrs. Thinsters – I had Cake Batter flavor in my box and they were super delicous!  The cookies were crisp, thin, vanilla-y, and buttery.  They may have been too buttery because they left a bunch of butter on my fingers.  I told myself that made the cookies healthy, since I wasn’t ingesting all of  those calories.
  • Pretzel Crisps® Gluten Free Original Minis by Snack Factory® – I have had these before, but not the gluten free variety.  They were very crunchy, but had a weird aftertaste.  I’ll stick to regular pretzel crisps, but this seems like a good alternative for people with celiac’s disease.
  • Cheddar n’ Stuff SUPER CRACKERS by Funley’s Delicious – The package says the crackers have broccoli in them, but that you won’t be able to tell.  They are yummy and they are cheesy.  I didn’t taste broccoli, but I tasted a deeper flavor than what you’d expect with a cheddar cheese cracker.  I’d buy them in the store, for sure.
  • Harvest Snaps Snapea by Calbee – These were the most surprising item in the box.  They tasted like fancy potato chips.  I don’t mean fancy potato chips with crazy flavors or anything, just the kind of potato chips you find in the organic section of the grocery store, you know, preservative free, “organic”, blah blah blah.  I had no idea that peas could taste like potato chips!
  • Fruit Snacks by YumEarth – These were yummy and cute.  While I don’t like gummies much, I do like fruit snacks, but I don’t eat them.  Dora and Lego are supposed to avoid fruit snacks because they already have tooth problems, so I didn’t feel bad eating these.  They were good and a nice snack, but I don’t think I’ll add them to my regular grocery store trips any time soon.

If you’re looking to try a food subscription, this is a nice one to try.  I’m pretty happy with the results, so I’m going to keep my subscription.  In fact, I think I’ll go ahead and do the year subscription for the biggest discount.

Random Saturdays – Recipoods

Normally, I follow instructions pretty well.  Not following instructions makes me nervous.  I don’t want to rock the boat unless I have to because I generally go through life trying not to be noticed.  When it comes to recipes, though, I have a very hard time following instructions.

The first time I use a cooking recipe, I try to follow it to a T.  Usually, I fail at this.  I don’t like onions, so I’ll compromise and use shallots because I like them better than regular onions.  I don’t have peanuts, so I’ll use pistachios.  I don’t have dill, so I leave it out entirely.  I want to try this Mediterranean recipe to go with Asian food, so I adjust all of the spices to make it Asian.  At that point, I don’t know why I even bother with the recipe, but it does make me feel safer using the recipe.  I get frustrated with myself when I screw up, but I don’t  follow the directions in the first place, so why should I care about mistakes?

With baking, everyone says to be very careful about following the directions because it’s a very delicate chemistry experiment.   I’m even worse at following directions with baking than I am with cooking.  I’ve done enough baking that I always think I know what I’m doing.  I usually do, too!  It’s just that I forget that if I do A, then I need to do B.  For example, I’ll try to healthy-up a cupcake recipe by substituting some whole wheat flour.  I’ll remember to increase the liquid to compensate for the extra absorbing whole wheat flour.  I’ll forget, though, that I have to use more liquids when substituting soymilk for wate.  I’ll also forget that I decided to use butter instead of oil, which means that I need to add more liquid for the whole recipe in general.  When my cupcakes come out dry, I immediately know what happened.  The next time I make cupcakes, I make the same durned mistakes all over again!

When I’m cooking or baking for myself, I give myself some leeway, but when I cook for others, these mistakes feel like a completely devastating failure.  I get so upset at myself for disappointing people and letting them down like an idiot just because I couldn’t follow a simple recipe.  For the most part, I’ve tempered my reactions when dealing with the results of a failed recipe.  I’ve learned that only ingrates will berate you for screwing up a recipe.  Most people are grateful that you even considered cooking something for them, much less from scratch.

As for the title of this blog post, there’s a short story.  Ben and I came home from getting groceries one night.  I mentioned something about having a special recipe for something.  I said, “I have a great recipood for that!”  At first, I didn’t think Ben caught it, but I started laughing immediately.  Then, he started asking me to tell him more about this “recipood”.  In my jacked up brain, I somehow combined “recipe” with “food” to come up with a word that sounds like…not…good…Even so, it’s funny.  For some good recipoods, visit Vegetableau, Cathy’s Tumblr!

Random Saturdays – Triggers

I don’t know about you, but I have some very strong emotional triggers.  Since I no longer spend most of my non-work time alone, I’m becoming very aware of my triggers.  There’s not much that I can do to avoid them, but I’m trying to be aware that some emotional/physical roller coaster of some sort has been triggered and that I need to stop it.  When you’re alone all the time, it doesn’t really matter.  It just means that you’ll spend the weekend sleeping on the couch, trying not to think about things at all until you can get back to the welcomed distraction that is work.  When you’re not alone, you have to be aware of these things because they will affect others and you will waste your time with your neuroses instead of enjoying the company of your loved ones.

Also, it’s alot easier to get your crap together for a few hours on a Saturday so you can enjoy an afternoon with your parents than it is to get your crap together every day so that you can make the most of your non-work time with people instead of enjoying the comfort of wallowing in your own self pity.  Who knew?

Here are some of my biggest triggers:

  1. Money — I have none.  I don’t usually spend it, so I don’t normally miss it.  I also don’t like people spending money on me;  it always makes me feel guilty.  I’m a grown ass woman with a damned job, so why should I mooch off of other people?  If I’m with a group of people participating in something, then it’s okay if I don’t fully participate so that I can save money.  My friends and family understand that I enjoy their company more than I enjoy doing things, per se.  Ben’s friends and family aren’t as familiar with my brand of crazy, though.  So, I can be rude and offensive and not partake in things, or I can let people pay for me to do things so that I can be part of the group.  It causes me alot of anxiety.  When I can, I try to pay for some or part of whatever it is so that I don’t have to feel like such a mooch, but I just can’t keep up with them in that sense.  Of all the people I know, it’s just Amanda and me that have this issue.  So, yeah, I realize that it’s completely irrational for money to cause so much anxiety for me for those reasons, but it does.
  2. Food — Okay, this one’s not as weird, but it’s still unhealthy.  Society’s materialistic standards, blah blah blah, I’m fat.  More than that, I’m very short and asthmatic.  So, my weight is tied very directly to my health.  Even if I overeat at just one meal, I can feel my gut pressing on my lungs, threatening to deprive my body of oxygen at any moment.  I don’t have any self control when it comes to food, so I only police myself by buying specific groceries and preparing specific meals so that I don’t have the opportunity to think about changing my meals.  This doesn’t work quite as well with Ben.  We went to the grocery store this week and the only produce we got was a small veggie tray that remains untouched in the fridge.  The rest of the $80 of groceries were mostly crackers, cookies, nuts, and frozen pizzas.  I’m a compulsive eater and can easily eat an entire meal without remembering that I’ve eaten at all if my asthma or acid reflux aren’t reminding me that I have.  I also grew up in the 80s with a mom from a Third World country.  So, I learned to eat whatever was on my plate, no matter how much it was or how sick it made me.  For the most part, I still do that today.  Even when I’m aware of what I’m doing, I can’t seem to stop.  When it comes to sweets, all bets are off!  I will knock down old ladies and children to get to German chocolate cake.  Don’t get me wrong;  I’ll apologize afterwards…when my belly is full of cake…So, I’m constantly thinking about what I have eaten, what I will eat, and what I wish I were eating, which makes me feel bad about myself, which makes me feel self-absorbed, which makes me feel guilty, which makes me depressed and anxious.  (For the record, beating up old ladies and kids makes me feel like that too.  I just think that those feelings are more appropriate for the situation.)
  3. Shopping for Clothes — Even just thinking about buying clothes gives me the heebie jeebies.  Once or twice a year, I can get in a mindset where I can put aside my hatred of myself to focus on my love of quality clothing at good prices.  The rest of the year, I just look at the holes that my thighs are wearing through my jean britches because my thighs are so fat and I pray that the jeans will win the fight for just a few more months while I eat a pint of ice cream to console myself.  (I’ll see your #2 and raise you a lactose intolerant.)
  4. Man, that last sentence did not paint a pretty picture in any way, did it?

Sunday Reading List

I had so much fun using my own blog as an excuse to read other blogs that I decided to make the Sunday Reading List a regular feature. Here are some of my favorite posts and internet bits from the past week.

Jack Flacco – The Walking Dead: Lessons Learned
He has the best comeback I’ve ever heard for people who claim to not be interested in zombies.

NPR – Dishwasher Cooking: Make Your Dinner While Cleaning The Plates
I’ve wondered about this before, and thought I was just crazy. This doesn’t prove me wrong, but I really have to try this now.

Gabriel Mendez – Charlie’s
My friends are opening a sandwich shop. Whut whut!

Bitches Gotta Eat – i’m a virgin again, according to science.
Don’t read this if alot of cussing and explicit explanations about the human body and/or sex bothers you. If those things don’t bother you, though, prepare to laugh. So much. Like, really, alot.

Happy Sunday!

Random Saturdays – My Temika Weekend

Since I started this blog, I’ve gone from posting three times a week to twice a week to once a week.  Last week, I didn’t post at all.

It was a combo of being busy, being exhausted, and being lazy.  One of my best friends was visiting me from out of town last weekend, so I spent last week procrastinating about getting my apartment ready for her visit.  Then she visited, so there was no time for blogging.  I’ve known Temika since 1988, but we didn’t become (best) friends until 1992.  Since then, we’ve been inseparable, except for the fact that we haven’t lived in the same city since 1996.  It doesn’t stop us though!  We have been through international plane trips, marathon road trips in the Texas summer without air conditioning, towed vehicles, and, as of last weekend, running over giant sheets of metal on the highway.  No matter what, we stay in touch and visit each other.

Temika, her girlfriend, and her son came to visit me last weekend.  I hadn’t met Melinda before, but she turned out to be one of the coolest chicks both sides of the Mississippi.  My precious little Zakk is turning into my goofy kid Zakk, which simultaneously breaks my heart and makes me proud.  When I was little, I always thought it was lame how adults always said that kids grow up too quickly — I completely get it now.  Friday night, we met up at my apartment.  Amanda met us, too, so that we could all get dinner together.  We went to Cafe Brazil, which made such an impression on Zakk that he kept asking to go back for every meal afterwards.  Zakk fell asleep on the way back from dinner, leaving Temika, Melinda, Amanda, and me to talk and laugh to the point of exhaustion.  We also learned that Temika developed a zebra impersonation after hearing the noise on some show.  Then Amanda did her version.

This is the sound that a zebra makes (skip to the 1:00 minute mark).

This is Temika doing her imitation of a Zebra, followed by Amanda doing her version.

This is Amanda making a second attempt at the sound.

Saturday morning, I made biscuits and a potato, sundried tomatoes, and feta frittata for breakfast.  Afterwards, we headed to the Ft. Worth Zoo.  I’m not actually a fan of zoos because I think it’s sad to keep animals caged.  Then again, some zoo facilities are safer from human destruction than animals’ natural habitats.  I am a fan of taking kids to zoos, though.   On the way to the zoo, I ran over a big piece of metal in the road.  Actually, it flew at me after a giant truck passed it, then flew into my bumper and got stuck under my car.  Due to construction, there was no shoulder and I was in the far left lane.  I had to slow down, ease over four lanes, and drive until I could find a bit of shoulder where I could stop.  Once I pulled over, Melinda and Temika tried to pull out the metal, but it was stuck.  Melinda used a jack to lift the car while I crawled beneath it and pulled out the metal.  Thankfully, nobody was hurt, the car was still safe to drive, and I have full coverage.  (As I type this, a rental car sits outside of my apartment.  I had to get up two hours earlier than normal to drop my car off for inspection/repair, but the rental car guy looked like a much cleaner and less skeezy version of Shia LaBeouf, so that was cool.)

It actually turned out to be a great day to go to the zoo – too hot for my taste, but not too hot by most people’s standards.  All the animals were out and about, curiously exploring items in their areas, bathing, eating, and playing.  When we were ready to head back, we took the toll road to avoid more construction, but there were multiple things in the middle of the road there too, all of which gave me mini-heart attacks.  We grabbed dinner at Eddy’s Pizza.  Then, Melinda and Zakk went to Main Event to play games while Temika and I tried to find a dress for a semi-formal event she needed to go to back home.  It was our lucky day because she found it at Burlington Coat Factory, the first store we tried!  Since we still had time, we also made quick runs to Ross and Old Navy.  Temika found great deals at all of the stores.  I think she bought enough clothes for her, Zakk, and Melinda to wear for a weekend, plus her semi-formal dress, for less than $100 in less than an hour.  We made a quick stop at Yogurtville for dessert before coming back to my place to end the night with some Redbox movies.  We watched Pitch Perfect (which was way funnier than I expected), but were all too sleepy to watch Hotel Transylvania (which we had all seen before anyway).

Sunday morning, we had breakfast at The Original Pancake House.  This time, I was told that I couldn’t make any substitutions on the combo meals, so I ordered á la carte.  I still don’t understand why I can’t substitute bread for meat — the restaurant saves money this way.  We said our goodbyes, and then Temika, Melinda, and Zakk headed back home.  It was a busy weekend with lots of food, lots of driving, but mostly lots of love & laughs.  We were all exhausted, but in a good way.  So, that’s why I never got around to blogging last week.  As an additional penance for missing last week, I offer you, dear reader, Amanda’s impression of a goose.

Random Saturdays – Taste of Poland

A few weeks ago, some friends, Stan & Jackie, asked if I wanted to get together for lunch over the weekend.  I suggested we try a place that I’ve been meaning to try forever – Taste of Poland.  This place is located beside The Original Pancake House that I mentioned in a previous post.  I’m an ovo-lacto vegetarian and Stan is diabetic.  We don’t tend to really run into problems finding places where both of us can eat, but it’s still something that I take into consideration when tasked with deciding where we should meet for lunch.  I looked over the online menu and saw that the place seemed like it’d be a good fit for Stan, Jackie, and me.

The restaurant is very charming on the inside.  There’s a small grocery section of Eastern European foods along one wall to the right of the entrance.  They sell pre-made packaged foods, spices, and candies, but also have fresh and frozen foods.  There’s also a display table near the door showcasing handmade cards and art for sale.  Even though it’s not huge, there’s more than enough room for the little market area as well as all of the tables and chairs.  When the waitress seated us, we noticed that the waitstaff and the diners spoke (what we assumed to be) Polish, which is always a good sign.  We were a bit overwhelmed by the menu, not because it’s particularly big, but because we wanted to try so much of it.  We ended up splitting a few things so that we’d get to try more food.

We split an appetizer of sauerkraut & mushroom and potato & cheese pierogies that came with cold sauerkraut.  They were flavorful and light.  I’d take a bite of the potato pierogies and say, “Oh, yeah, I think I like these best,” and then take a bite of the mushroom pierogies and say, “No, no, these.”  Stan and Jackie couldn’t decide which ones they liked best either.  For the entrees, Jackie got Polish sausage with warm sauerkraut and mashed potatoes, Stan got goulash, and I got potato dumplings.  We did a bit of swapping around so that we could all have a bit of everything.  I declined the sausage and goulash, but the goulash was served on top of a potato pancake that was delicious.  I should also mention that the employees were very friendly and helpful, which I always appreciate.

I like eating at small places like this because I like supporting small businesses.  I also like supporting the local economy.  As an added bonus, you get to eat food that was handmade rather than warmed up in a microwave.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Taco Bell more than anybody should love Taco Bell, but it’s hard to beat a homecooked meal that you didn’t have to make yourself.  I think that will be the first of many visits to Taste of Poland.