Monday, December 27, 2010

Music Monday - the "My iPod Car Charger Broke and Now I Have to Burn CD's" edition

It's Monday! I want to talk about music! It counts.

Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with housewifery, other than you could listen to these mixes at home. I fancy myself a decent mix-tape artist. Of course, tapes are now long gone (seriously, there's an entire generation that has no idea what a "tape" is other than the sticky stuff that you use to keep things together - MIND. BLOWN.), so now it's CD's. Around the time my iPod car charger/dock broke, I went through a "here's who you need to listen to" exchange with a friend, so at least I had options OTHER than radio. While my new cd's are awesome, I'm getting a LITTLE tired of them. So since I'd bought a ton of cd's to make the mixes for my friend anyway, why not use them for more options in the car?

Unfortunately, I've been a little melancholy lately (I blame my new addiction to Death Cab for Cutie a la' my friend - dear lord, help me, I've gone hipster/emo), so the mixes are a little melancholy. They're mellow, but one is a little faster and chipper than the other one. They flow into each other nicely, and while I wouldn't recommend cleaning to them, they'd be good for relaxing or a casual dinner party.

First, the slow and low mix:
1. "Once Around the Block",    Badly Drawn Boy    The Hour of Bewilderbeast
2. "Don't Change Your Plans",    Ben Folds Five    The Unauthorized Biography Of Reinhold Messner
3. "Somedays", Regina Spektor    Soviet Kitsch
4. "Sparks",    Coldplay    Parachutes
5. "Cybele's Reverie", Stereolab    Emperor Tomato Ketchup
6. "All Is Full Of Love (Video Version)", Björk    Björk: Greatest Hits
7. "Midnight In A Perfect World", DJ Shadow    Endtroducing.....
8. "Samson", Regina Spektor    Begin To Hope
9. "Twilight", Elliott Smith    From a Basement on the Hill
10. "Talking Bird",    Death Cab for Cutie    Narrow Stairs
11. "Walking To You",    Everything But The Girl    Amplified Heart
12. "Hello, It's Me", Todd Rundgren    The Virgin Suicides
13. "Such Great Heights", Iron & Wine    Garden State Soundtrack
14. "Sea Of Love", Cat Power    Juno (Music from the Motion Picture)
15. "Ramona", Beck    Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
16. "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes", Beck    Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)
17. "Maps", Yeah Yeah Yeahs    Fever To Tell
18. "Needle in the Hay",    Elliott Smith    The Royal Tenenbaums


And the slightly more upbeat but still mellow mix! Credit for about half of these songs is actually due to an acquaintance from high school, who burned me two awesome mix cd's of music I'd never heard, and I still listen to at least half of the songs she burned at any given time. Seriously, I'm good at mixes, but she is GREAT!

1. "One Of These Things First", Nick Drake    Garden State Soundtrack
2. "Expectations", Belle & Sebastian    Juno (Music from the Motion Picture)
3. Four Corners", The Sea and Cake    One Bedroom
4. "Best Thing Ever (maybe not)", Viva Voce    Lovers, Lead the Way! & The Heat Can Melt Your Brain
5. "Pass It On", The Coral    Magic and Medicine
6. "Question", Old 97's    Satellite Rides (1 of 2)
7. "I Feel It All", Feist    The Reminder
8. "Strange Apparition", Beck    The Information
9. "All Good Naysayers, Speak Up!", Sufjan Stevens    Michigan
10. "The Coast is Always Changing",    Maximo Park    Live in Tokyo
11. "I Luv the Valley OH!", Xiu Xiu    Fabulous Muscles
12. "No Cars Go", Arcade Fire    Neon Bible
13. "I Will Possess Your Heart", Death Cab For Cutie    Narrow Stairs
14. "Last Goodbye", Jeff Buckley    Grace
15. "I Will Follow You Into the Dark",    Death Cab for Cutie    Plans
16. "The Only Living Boy In New York", Simon & Garfunkel    Garden State

They're good driving around music, which is good, because I commute 2 hours a day. Oy. Anyway, enjoy!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Kahlua Cheesecake - a Hot Mess Housewife recipe

I thought it'd be a good idea* to give all 2 readers a view into my creative cooking process. So below you will find my step by step instructions on how I made the Kahlua cheesecake, as well as the actual recipe. Luckily for you, I didn't take pictures (although that would've made it infinitely funnier).

Have I mentioned that I kind of love Kahlua? Like, in a "I'm not an alcoholic, alcoholics go to meetings" kind of way.

If you'd rather just have the recipe and be a spoil-sport about it, here's the recipe I used (I used the first one on the page), and instead of the vanilla extract, add a shot of Coffee Liqueur and mix it in well before you fold in the Cool Whip.

All right, making Kahlua Cheesecake the Hot Mess Housewife way:
  1. 3 weeks prior, find a recipe in one of those housewifery magazines for Kahlua Cheesecake, dog-ear the page, and offer to make it for your in-laws' Christmas celebration.
  2. 2 days before, re-check recipe before heading to grocery store for ingredients. Actually read the recipe and see that it requires a springform pan. Realize you don't have a springform pan. Check the gazillion recipes you have saved on your computer for a cheesecake one that you could add Kahlua to. Found one! Go to grocery store. Once home, taste-test the store-brand coffee liqueur you bought to make sure it's close enough to Kahlua. You might need to do this more than once for quality assurance. Preferably mixed in with hot cocoa w/ mini-marshmallows; the mini-marshmallows counteract the liqueur, which means you're not a drunk for adding booze to hot cocoa.
  3. The morning you need to make it, sleep in an hour and realize that you now don't have enough time to make the cheesecake and give it the proper chill time. Frantically Google for easy cheesecake recipes. Find one, run to store to buy graham cracker crust since you now won't have time to make one, and the Cool Whip that the new recipe requires that you don't already have. 
  4. Come home, wash beaters that are still dirty from the mashed potatoes you made Friday night for your Xmas Eve dinner with friends. (BTW, they were awesome. I'll post that recipe some other time.) Wash hands, because you're not a filthy animal and don't want to spread germs onto the delicious dessert you are making to share. Remove cream cheese from package (VERY IMPORTANT, that foil wrapper doesn't taste that good) and place in a mixing bowl. Beat the cream cheese until it moves easily around your beaters; if it's still a big blob of cream cheese, keep beating it (hehehehehehe, "beating it") (yes, I'm a 12 year old boy mentally).  
  5. Once the cream cheese is a smoother consistency, add 1/3 cup sugar. Beat the cream cheese and sugar together. Get out a spatula (forgot to mention that earlier, sorry), and get all the cream cheese and sugar granules on the sides of the bowl back into the middle, and beat it some more. Dip your recently-washed finger in to taste it.
  6. Once it's all mixed up, measure out 1 cup of sour cream; since your 1-cup measuring cup is dirty, you measure out 2 1/2-cups because that's the only one clean. Whatever, the math still works. Spoon that in the bowl, and mix it all again. Dip your same finger in again to taste, forgetting that you just did that and have now contaminated the damn filling with your disgusting mouth germs.
  7. In lieu of the vanilla extract the original recipe calls for, add 1 shot glass' worth of coffee liqueur that we'll now call Shmahlua, which you will tell people is Kahlua, 'cuz they won't be able to tell. Take a small drink from the bottle for one last quality assurance test. 
  8. Panic when the Shmahlua seems to water down the filling at first pour. Frantically mix the filling and the liqueur until it's mixed in and the filling seems to have the same consistency it had pre-Shmahlua. 
  9. Fold in the Cool Whip (or store-brand whipped topping, as that was cheaper), and hope it has thawed enough from the time you grabbed it out of the freezer section until now. It hasn't, but shrug and fold it in anyway. (For those of you who don't know what "fold" means in cooking, that means to gently mix in.) Look for clumps of still-frozen whipped topping and try to smush them with your spatula. Taste test with the same finger before because you're a scatter-brained moron and forgot to stop doing that. Realize it doesn't taste "Kahlua-y" enough. Add another splash of Shmahlua (seriously, a SPLASH) and frantically stir in again.
  10. Open the graham cracker crust (there's a plastic lid on it, and the pie will not taste good if you leave the plastic on it, I assure you), and pour in the filling. Smooth it out nicely with the spatula. Realize you still have a good amount filling left, even though the crust is filled to the brim. Shrug, cover the pie with that plastic lid, and shove it in the freezer to chill. 
  11. Celebrate completion of the dessert with another shot of Shmahlua. When husband asks if you need any help at this late point, yell at him that he can "do the damn dishes if he wants to be helpful." Sigh as he goes back to watching the damn football game. (You really hate football.) Cry a little as you put the Shmahlua back in the fridge.
  12. Spoon the remainder of the filling into a plastic ziploc baggie, figuring you'll squeeze it out onto those graham crackers you bought when you were being uppity and thinking you were going to be a big shot who would make her own graham cracker crust. Get filling all over the bag and your fingers. Delight in the delicious, sticky mess and lick it off with abandon, 'cuz hey, this portion of the filling isn't going into any shared desserts now. Shove baggie of filling in the fridge, and decide to blog about this because it's pretty damn funny in your own head.
  13. As you wrap up blog post, remember that you didn't take a picture of the final product (not that it's all that impressive); then remember that you meant to buy chocolate chips to melt and pour over the graham cracker crust as a nice little addition to the cheesecake. *facepalm* A little late for THAT step... next time?
Ta-Da! You made Kahlua Cheesecake!

Remarkably unimpressive, isn't it?
Now if you'll excuse me, I think I've earned another Shmahlua hot chocolate. Next time: mashed potatoes!

*good idea sponsored by store-brand Kahlua shots

Saturday, December 18, 2010

FREE TIME!!!

So if you haven't caught on yet, my income comes from teaching. While it is a difficult career choice that has as many lows as there are highs, I'm not going to lie: the vacation time is AWESOME. (Well, except for summer vacation when I've been laid off from the last job and I'm desperately trying to find a new job - that sucks).

So I'm on winter break as of yesterday at 3:25 pm! And get this - I'm off for 3 weeks thanks to the high number of students who go to their families' home countries! WHOOOO! Now all I can think about is what do I do with all this free time?

Unfortunately, there's things I NEED to do this break before I can think of what I WANT to do. *sigh* I have doctors appointments to set, xmas gifts to make and buy, xmas cards to send out, dog shots to get, a bedroom to finally get in order and clean, and (of course) final grades to complete and a new semester to prepare for. OY!

However, I know what I need to do, so let's talk about what I WANT to do!
  • See friends that I don't get to see very often
  • go to The City as it's been FAR too long (also goes along with previous statement)
  • cook! I miss cooking for pleasure. Specifically, I want to cook for people (again, see previous statement) because feeding people is how I show love. I will stuff you full of my delicious love. EAT IT AND QUIT COMPLAINING.
  • make crafty stuff for reasons other than xmas gifts
  • Get my "walking program" back in order/ work on hitting 10,000 steps every day
  • Pamper myself with at-home beauty treatments that I'm always too tired to do otherwise
  • read books (some for school, some for pleasure)
Really, of the 3 weeks I have off, I'll only be alone for the first week, and by "alone" I mean I'll actually only have the house to myself for 4 days, then it's Xmas. Then The Hubs has a (hard-earned and much deserved) week off and wants to get a lot of stuff around the apartment done, and the week after that I will be working on preparing my next semester of classes. So I feel like I have a 4 day window of doing any "me" stuff. Eep!

Still, though, it is desired and required. I'm all about me lately, and I kind of like being all about me lately so I'm going to prioritize and get shiz done for myself. =D

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Big girl panties are fitting a little bit snug today...

Today was an interesting day in contrasts for me.

First, I did my hair and make-up this morning, and wore a cute top. Plus my pants are looser than usual. I was feeling pretty cute when I left for work this morning. Putting in that extra effort makes me feel better about myself, and I'm trying to encourage that in myself, because I'm tired of hating myself when I have no real reason to do so.

Maybe I'm just weird/old-fashioned/flaming hypocrite. When there's no guys around to help me, I will make do as best I can and be proud of it. HOWEVER, I'm still a girl and I still don't have that much in the way of strength (despite my relatively large size), and I prefer to be rescued by a knight in shining armor.

I was struggling with a large, heavy ream of butcher paper. I had four male students with me, and two of my male coworkers were also in the room - they also happen to be the two coworkers I've hit it off with the most and spend a fair amount of hang-out time with when class isn't in session.

As I'm struggling with the large, heavy ream of butcher paper, one of my students (who is a tall, skinny kid who weighs all of 100 lbs soaking wet) is trying to help me... while giving me crap that it's not THAT heavy until he has to put it down because it's heavy. The other students leave because they don't feel like waiting for the butcher paper, apparently *eye roll*, and my two coworkers just STOOD THERE. I even sarcastically called them out on it - and they WAVED HI at me.

I was laughing, but inside I was SEETHING. OMG. Ok, seething is a bit of hyperbole. I guess I'm more hurt than anything. I mean, I didn't expect my students to help me that much - the one that did is a Senior, so he's a little more mature than the others, who were freshmen. What got to me was my COWORKERS. For one, I thought we were friends! Then I realized "Oh yeah, they're still boys. Boys like to be buttheads to their friends."

Then I thought, "OH. MY. GOD. They don't think of me as a girl... I'm their BRO."

This has led to a downward spiral of "I'm not pretty enough for them to consider a girl, that's why they didn't help me!" I'm HOPING that this is stupidity on my part, but it's REALLY bugging me! I mean, why didn't they help me? I'm a girl, dammit! I'm frail and delicate and need help! I'M NOT YOUR BRO.

I know, it's stupid. But it really hurt my feelings. I'm trying to take it as they thought they were being funny, but at the same time... am I so ugly and fat that I don't qualify as a girl anymore? Or are they just guys who don't think half the time? I'm really hoping it's the latter, because my heart hurts at the former.

And again, to show how off-the-wall my brain and self-esteem are: As I was laughing and smiling at something right as I walked by a window and saw my reflection, and thought to myself that wow, I look kinda adorable when I'm smiling and laughing.

Yeah...

I'm still working on that whole "love and respect myself all the time" thing. It's my big problem to resolve.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reclaiming Myself: Step 1

So I've FINALLY gotten over my melancholy at being a year away from 30 and not where I thought I'd be at this age. I know, it only took me a month and a half. (What can I saw, when I wallow, I wallow.) Part of what snapped me out of it isn't something I'm necessarily comfortable discussing, but needless to say it did what it needed to in snapping me out of it. So now, I'm working on feeling GOOD about myself and loving myself above all else. Not at the expense of ignoring the ones I love, but I feel that right now, I need to make myself a priority more than anything or anyone. (Don't worry, the dog and The Hubs will still be fed and cuddled as needed. ;D)

One thing that I really need to work on is my own self-esteem, as evidenced by that post about identifying a little too much with The Bieste on "Glee". I still identify with her, that hasn't changed. I simply want to make myself feel better about the face I see in the mirror.

I think most married ladies would agree with me when I say that while it's nice to know that our spouse (male or female) thinks we're hot when we're wearing pajama pants and a ratty t-shirt (Team-building exercise, '99), it's not quite the same as knowing other people who you're NOT married to find you attractive. It's crazy, but witnessing someone you're not married to give you the eye is such an ego boost. For me, at least, it makes me feel like I'm not settling for my spouse because he's the only one that finds me attractive, instead I'm choosing to be with my spouse because OBVIOUSLY I'm super-foxy and have options, as evidenced by that one dude totally checking me out while in line at the grocery store. Yeah. I know, it's crazy, but it's how my brain works... and I suspect I'm not the only one. It's a girl thing; we're conditioned by society to want to be found attractive at all times, and when we're not getting that reassurance from anyone other than people we suspect are too biased to be honest, it makes us feel ugly. The Hubs could tell me I'm beautiful until his tongue gets tired, it will still only hold so much weight when the rest of the world isn't giving me the time of day.

So why isn't the world giving me the time of day? Because I got comfortable. I stopped doing my hair other than in a ponytail, stopped wearing make-up, and settled into a rather asexual wardrobe of guy t-shirts, jeans, and flip-flops. SEXY. (Yes, The Hubs still told me I'm sexy, even with the hiddy wardrobe.) I got my man, so I stopped putting the effort in. Simple as that! Not saying it's right, just saying it is. Well, no wonder I wasn't gaining any notice from the outside world, I blended in too well.

As part of my image rehab, lately I've been putting a little more effort in. If I don't feel like blow-drying my hair, I at least try to put some product in it to let my natural texture do its thing. I've taken the extra 10 minutes to take care of my skin and put on makeup (yup, I have it down to 10 minutes, I'm THAT GOOD). I'm aiming to wear cuter clothes, even on my "off" days. For example, this past Wednesday I think I only planned to leave the house for, like, 20 minutes total - I still did my hair, put on some make-up, and wore a sweater that made me feel pretty. It worked! I felt like a babe all day, and was seriously only out of the house for maybe an hour, max! Even The Hubs noticed when he came home (and promptly asked what the occasion was, worried he'd forgotten something, hahaha). There was no reason other than I wanted to do it for ME. I wanted to feel pretty, and I did. =)

Now, has the rest of the world noticed? Somewhat. My students are loving it - they're a bunch of superficial teenagers, so OF COURSE they immediately noticed a change, esp. the girls, and are encouraging it. Some of my sophomore boys started hitting on me a little, which was creepy and I quickly put a kibosh on that (but was still a little flattering ;D). But it really doesn't matter - I love how I feel when I look in the mirror again, and that's what's more important to me.

This positive attitude has started to spread into other areas - now I want to be more active, so I've started a very mild walking program to get myself back in physical shape so I can move up to dance videos; I'm very out of shape, and I don't want to jump into more physical action than I'm ready for and then injure myself and stall any forward momentum. I also plan to watch what I eat; not just watch it go into my mouth (har har), but try to be more thoughtful about what I'm eating, as well as try to make the portions smaller and make lower-fat versions of my favorite foods. Not a diet necessarily, just watching it and being more thoughtful about what goes in my mouth. I hate diets. They're too stressful. I do better when I treat it as just being more aware of what I do and how I eat. Will I lose 100 pounds in a year? Probably not. But as long as I feel better about myself and my clothes shrink a little, I'll be happy.

Please don't think I'm only focusing on my outside and think that people only value me FOR my outside. There are two voices in my head; one is insecure and thinks lowly of me, the other is a cocky a**hole that thinks I am the SHIZ inside and out. I'm just trying to give the other voice a little more air-time. =) I know I'm beautiful as a person and have a great personality, I just want to feel beautiful on the outside as well.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend: When I actually have Thanksgiving!

As I'm sure more of you are used to than not, we have the unique situation in our household of multiple in-laws due to multiple divorces that demand time and attention when it comes to seeing us for the holidays. "Fortunately", neither The Hubs or myself are in contact with our fathers currently, so it greatly alleviated the stress this year when it came to Thanksgiving. The actual day of Turkey was spent with my parents (mom and stepdad) at my step-grandma's house, where she cooked a delightful meal as always. I didn't have to do a damn thing except bring the rolls, which I am all about. Saturday, though, is my turn to host for my in-laws. My in-laws are a small group (thank GOD), consisting of my Mother-in-law and my sister-in-law, as well as my sister-in-law's vegetarian boyfriend.

I hosted the Saturday after Thanksgiving last year, too, and it was my first time doing so! First time roasting a turkey, first time trying to figure out how to get all those sides prepped and still get the turkey done on time... it was CRAZY, stressful... and the same time, awesome! Go figure. The turkey, by the way, turned out EXCELLENT! (The secret: butter.) The biggest rookie mistake I made was of making too much darn food, so that was corrected for this year.

Last year's menu:
- cocktail franks in sweet sauce (appetizer)
- 13 Lb. Roast Turkey
- Mashed Potatoes
- 2 Stuffings, vegetarian and non-vegetarian (both box mixes, but the vegetarian version required a lot more work!)
- Broccoli Casserole
- Enchilada Casserole (vegetarian "main course")
- Creamy Corn Bake
- Biscuits (from a can)
- Pear Crisp

This year's menu:
- chips and dip (appetizer)
- 8 lb. Roast Turkey BREAST
- Mashed Potatoes
- 1 stuffing, box mix (the vegetarian will just have to deal, he barely ate the non-vegetarian one last year, dammit)
- Broccoli Casserole (It's officially "the dish" they want now)
- Biscuits (from a can)
- Mac and Cheese (Mother-in-law is making/bringing)
- store-made pumpkin cheesecake

So yes, as you can see, I've cut WAY back. Partly due to cost, and partly because THERE WAS SO MUCH FOOD LEFT OVER BLEH. Apparently my SIL and her boyfriend partied too hearty the night before, so they barely ate a damn thing (but at least took home a significant chunk of the food), and no one even touched the pear crisp because they were too full! UGH! Regardless, I was still insanely proud of myself for how well it all went - everything was done and still hot by the time I wanted to serve dinner, and all my prep the night before helped a TON, so boo-yeah! I also went pretty far-out on setting up a nice table; bought fancy (for ROSS prices, anyway) tablecloths and monogrammed napkins, a new pitcher/glasses set for water, etc. I felt so grown-up, even though we were using patio chairs for dining chairs because we can't afford a nice dining room set yet. (Still can't, but this year we don't care enough to sit at the damn table - they can sit on the couch.)

This year is pretty casual compared to last year; I just don't have the newbie enthusiasm yet, and I don't think I'll really feel like going SUPER-all-out until we have an actual house, dining room, chairs, etc. We're still in a cozy 1-bedroom apartment right now, where our kitchen/living room/ dining room take up the first half of the apartment. Still, I'm fairly confident that this year will be lovely as well, and I still glow with pride when I remember how "grown-up" I felt putting on my first official Thanksgiving dinner (with a good dose of help from The Hubs, btw - he was a total champ at being my assistant house-cleaner/ sous chef). I still look forward to when it's our first time hosting the ENTIRE family TOGETHER, which I do hope will happen one day... not next year, maybe, but eventually one day I think I'll be able to take it on! =D

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The heartbreak of being a woman

Ok, I won't always aim for being all deep and shiz, but this has been weighing on my mind. Worst part: It's inspired by "Glee", of all things. "GLEE"! The most fun show on television, whose title's sole purpose is to inspire happiness, has made me haz a sad.

I know, up is down, left is right, Rush Limbaugh is making out with Nancy Pelosi... it's just WEIRD.

So what about "Glee" has made me so sad? It was the second storyline, the Bieste as Boner-killer storyline. Not that it's more important than the main storyline - bullying of any kind is horrible, and I get especially p.o.'d when it's brought on by homophobia (not to mention HOW CUTE was the "Teenage Dream" sequence? You bet your Pop Tarts that song is on constant replay right now). I just felt more of a connection to the Bieste storyline as I'm not a gay teenage boy... although, quick sidenote, I would kill to be as awesome a teenage boy as Kurt on "Glee" if I were to be a gay teenage boy. ;)

So why did the Bieste storyline make me so sad? I identified with her. Now, I have been kissed (and then some), so that part I didn't identify with. Nor did I enjoy the smooch from Schue; yeah, what every woman-who-feels-undesirable wants, a PITY kiss. Don't even bother trying to convince me otherwise, that was not an attracted-to-her kiss, that was PURE PITY. I throw my own damn pity parties just fine without your white boy Jheri curl, Schuester, keep it in your damn pants!

I identify with Bieste because I know how it feels to not fit in that "pretty" girl stereotype. I'm 5'10", a lot of pounds (sorry, I still have some vanity; my BMI is in the "obese" zone for sure, ok?), and I am not a dainty, feminine girl. I am a lumbering dork with a huge head, hands, and feet. Yet from birth, what are girls bombarded with? Whippet-thin, perfect-hair, sparkling-teeth Disney princesses, and as I've aged, the Hollywood standards have gotten stricter and more impossible to reach. How the eff does a girl who's growing faster than all the boys while still keeping a belly on her frame compete with that? I have been "blessed" with a slow metabolism, and then raised with poor eating habits that I'm not great about breaking for long enough to make the permanent change (which is admittedly my own fault) and lose weight. Even when I was thinner, my body is just built bigger. I will never feel dwarfed by a guy unless I date a guy who is about Shaquille O'Neal's size.

Add in years of rejection from boys for not being that "pretty" stereotype, and the few who did look beyond my supposed flaws making me feel like I was being done a favor. (one "winner" in college was kind enough to inform me that I was really lucky he was into "fat girls", because most guys aren't and I'd be alone. YEAH. I KNOW.) One thing that really chapped my ass as a teenager was being the girl that could be brought around the boyfriends because I was "safe" to have around. (Go figure: two of those situations resulted in my hooking up with the boyfriends I was supposed to be "safe" around... HA!) The OTHER thing that chapped my ass is that in the two church youth groups I was in during junior high/ high school, I was never the "crush" of my male counterparts 'cuz I wasn't "pretty" enough for them. Well, how the frig was I supposed to find a Godly man if none of the Godly ones wanted anything to do with me?! Then when I did start dating guys finally, they didn't go to church - and all my youth group members INTERVENED because they didn't think I should be dating a non-believer! *facepalm* Anyway, this isn't a rallying cry against youth groups, it's just the statement of the annoying.  The few guys that did seem to be into me usually seemed to be attracted to me as a person more than a physical lust object; in reality, this is obviously preferable, but when you're raised to believe that you are only worthwhile if you are deemed attractive by society at large, it's not as much as a comfort as it should be. As I previously mentioned, I didn't exactly date great guys, either; not only did most of them suck as human beings (I won't name names, as TEMPTING as that is ;p), but they weren't always the hottest guys, either. Not that I'm completely superficial, but a fair amount of them were attractive to me because they seemed to be attracted TO me, and I was so desperate for love that it was strong enough to overcome my initial lack of attraction. Maybe that makes me a hypocrite, but rarely were my past love affairs built on two equally attractive people who genuinely found each other to be awesome, and I was rarely the worst-looking of the two. It would've been nice to have the "hot guy" want to throw me a bone once, y'know - and not out of effing pity like Schue did to Bieste! (Ok, now I'm a TOTAL hypocrite, hahaha - don't care, being honest!)

So I GET Bieste's hurt at being seen as unfeminine and unattractive, and my heart broke for her. It broke a little for me, too. The only reason I suspect that I'm not in Bieste's situation completely was because I am zealous about winning people over with my personality (since it seems to be the only thing about me that's tolerable, as all other reactions to me has been implications that I'm hideous), and I'm almost overly girly at times as an overcompensation for my uncontrollable manliness in mannerisms. (I'm also incredibly grateful to have a feminine voice.)

The worst part of all this? I always thought I was pretty. Like, I think I have nice facial features, good hair (when it cooperates with me), decent rack, good tush. Yes, I'm fat in a way that people could find unappealing, but... well, is that really a complete deal breaker? When I look in the mirror fresh out of the shower, I often think I look simple and lovely. Apparently, I'm in my own minority. I'm not saying I don't look better with a little fine-tuning like eyebrow grooming, make-up, and blow-drying my hair, but even when I do that, it doesn't seem to make a difference. (Well, not to people MY age; I put a little effort in at work, and you'd think I was a model if you heard how my students rave. One nice side effect of teenagers being completely focused on looks, I guess ;D)

So how do I completely break the self-negative talk when everything else that is thrown at me in pop culture worships the lithe 5'7", 120 lbs. creatures that only look that way when they've spent 2 hours in a makeup chair being worked over by professional? How do I not look at pictures of myself and prevent tears from falling? (Not ALWAYS; I have good and bad days when it comes to my self-perception.) The biggest fear is that if I lose all the weight that seems to be the consummate deal-breaker, what if that WASN'T the problem after all? Then I'm thin, but still ugly?

I'm damn near 30 (ok, "near" being over 330 days away), and I still feel like the 16-year-old insecure teenager who just wants a boy to genuinely love her for who she is AND what she looks like. I'm MARRIED to a husband who has never said anything negative about how I look, but I still feel like that's not enough, because the rest of the time I'm ignored and undesired by the rest of the world.

I just want to find my way to where I look in the mirror and, more often than not, KNOW that I am an attractive woman; and know it not just for myself, but for the population at large. I know I'll never be breath-taking, but I want the confidence to be present more often than it's not. (Interesting sidenote: a co-worker with whom I carpool pointed out to me that he believed me to be very confident, and was surprised to hear my negative self-talk that day. I pointed out that I am confident in my personality; it's the outside that causes the insecurity. We then proceeded to discuss some of what's mentioned above... it just made me think.)

Lest you think I'm just whining about being ugly, please be reassured that I am trying to do things that make me feel better about the outside (which will hopefully fix the damn inside). My general life stress has been easing, which has motivated me to focus more on this issue. My fixes are to take an extra 5 minutes and slap on some makeup, and I'm wearing my hair down more. I've also boosted my wardrobe a little, which also makes me feel pretty. Now if I can just afford a damn eyebrow wax and start working out more (I'm going to try and get 30 minutes in 4 days a week starting tomorrow, but I'm planning on doing it in the MORNING... so we'll see), maybe we'll start to see that ego improve a little bit.

Just watch, I'll get too good at it and then I'll have the opposite problem of being conceited. Heh. That'd be something.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Music Monday – “Music to Clean to”... When you don't want to






There's just something about anger-cleaning. Oh man, piss me off and I will scrub a tile counter until it's powder again. Also, sometimes you just have to hear some catchy anger-bang music. Y'know?

Of course, the inspiration behind this long-overdue Music Monday is due to falling in love with Cee Lo Green's "F*** You". That song is freaking AWESOME. It would've been my entrance music wherever I went in college, as I was one BITTER kitten.

Anyway. This is about finding proper motivation to clean, not smack ex-boyfriends/girlfriends (hey, whatever you fancy, people; no judgment here). So what if that toilet bowl looks exactly like that jerk who dumped you right before Valentine's Day? SCRUB THE SH** OUT OF HIS STUPID JERKFACE!

*ahem*

The playlist (Just over 54 minutes):

  • "F*** You", Cee Lo Green
  • "Don't Call Me Baby", Madison Avenue
  • "White Knuckles", OK Go
  • "Breakin' Up", Rilo Kiley
  • "Gives You Hell", either version (I prefer the GLEE version 'cuz I'm a total Gleek, but the original by All-American Rejects is good, too)
  • "Hate to Say I Told You So", The Hives (Whatever happened to them?)
  • "Threshold", Beck
  • "Black Tongue", Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • "Kiss Off", Violent Femmes
  • "A.D.I.D.A.S." Korn (Just a hint: It ain't about shoes.)
  • "If", Janet Jackson (Ok, this one isn't so much about the anger as it is about the bangin', but I like the almost-threatening manner she takes on, like, "IF YOU KNEW BETTER YOU'D BE HITTIN' THIS PIECE, DUMBASS!")
  • "The Seed (2.0)", The Roots & Cody Chestnutt
  • "Laura", Scissor Sisters (if only for the awesome line of, "This'll be the last time I ever cut your hair")
  • "Operate", Peaches
  • "Tattooed Love Boys", The Pretenders
  • "My Favorite Mistake", Sheryl Crow

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Meal-Planning: Week of 11/7/10

So last week was a bit of a cluster-eff. Just got cray-cray, for some reason! I don't even know WHERE the wheels went off the hinges, so obviously it was a way back. xD

LUCKILY, this week wasn't a total loss because it'll save us a bit of cash, since I still have a bunch of food from last week that I need to cook, and we only ate out once outside of our planned expenditures. Also, I totally forgot to print out my to-do list (yes, all week, I GOT BUSY), but organizing my to-dos like that still helped me remember some of them and knock them out this week anyway. So not a 100% success, but not a total failure, either! I'll take a D from myself as much as I'll take it from my students. =)

Anyway, enough of my half-assed patting myself on the back. I know what you're here for: My menu. Keep in mind there'll be some repeats from last week, but there's a few new additions as well.

Sunday:
Slow-Cooker Carnitas
Refried Beans

Monday:
Leftovers! We should have plenty from Sunday.

Tuesday:
Oriental-Glazed Chicken

Wednesday:
Freezer meals (I KNOW I'll be getting home late due to an after-work meeting, plus I have the next day off due to Veteran's Day, so an easy night!)

Thursday:
Smoked sausage and Potluck Beans (We had to cancel tail-gating due to costs of the game tickets, so I still have all the ingredients to use up. Will eventually type up the recipe, it's pretty tasty!)

Friday/ Saturday:
Homemade BBQ Chicken pizza (mmmm!)
- TJ's pizza dough
- BBQ sauce
- diced chicken
- bacon
- cheddar cheese
- mozzarella cheese

or
Paula Deen's Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

We might have plans Friday night, so the BBQ pizza might happen, or it might not - if it doesn't, I can probably freeze the dough and other ingredients perishable ingredients. Saturday will HAVE to be the meatloaf, as The Hubs has seen I'm planning it and it's his favorite meatloaf recipe ever. I actually think it's TOO rich, but The Hubs doesn't see this as an issue. =)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A PRODUCTIVE day!

I was wondering if I'd ever have a POSITIVE housewife experience to share... and holy crap, I do!

I KNOW, OMG, I'M SHOCKED/SCARED, TOO.

What The Hubs and I accomplished today:
  • Clothes sorted for keep/ donate/ toss (Mine today, he'll catch up tomorrow)
  • 4 loads of laundry from remaining clothes washed/dried, then folded/hung up!
  • 2 massive loads of dishes
  • Finally looked for doctors/ dentist so I can get myself healthy, gonna call on Monday
  • Home-cooked meal - INCLUDING veggies! I'm trying to be better about that, I swear.
Ok, it seemed better in my head. It FEELS like we got a lot done... Huh. It's definitely more than we usually accomplish. We even both woke up early enough to catch the 1st matinee of the movie we wanted to see, which saved us an extra $2 for our "day-date". We're still tight on money, so we're trying to find cheap ways to get out of the house - today was the day version of dinner and a movie ("dinner" was lunch at Jack's Urban Eats, where we got our fave tri-tip sandwiches and split a small version of their Urban Fries, which are cracktastically delicious).

And to top it all off, I tried on a pair of pants I was debating giving away because I thought they were too small, but my clothes have seemed a little looser lately so I tried them on one last time (haven't worn them in a year, easy) - they totally fit! Comfortably, even, not that squeeze into 'em way! I loved these pants, too... I also have a couple of great pairs in the next size down, so I'm saving those and now I'm wanting to keep avoiding fast food/ buy smaller fast food meals, as well as eat from home more and watch what I eat. Yay for unintentional weight-loss motivation!

Today was a good day. Makes me feel like a grown-up. Tomorrow I'm planning on making breakfast (I have eggs and bacon, nom), then grocery shopping, then I have to work on job stuff for most of the day while trying not to gnaw my arm off when I smell the carnitas cooking in our slow-cooker. *sigh* The one drawback to slow-cooker Sunday, how good the house smells.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Meal-Planning: Week of 10/31/10

Does anyone else have a helluva time with planning meals on the WEEKEND? I never know what we're going to do! Half the time we don't know our weekend plans until Thursday, so I don't necessarily want to waste money buying the supplies for a meal we're not going to eat... but at the same time, I can always add that meal to next week's menu. Usually Sundays are pretty mellow, so Slow-Cooker Sunday works out nicely, but today we ended up taking a day trip to Oakland to see our friends' 1-month-old baby and had to leave around 9:30 to make it there by 11 (UGH, up so early on a Sunday!), which also meant I couldn't go grocery shopping, either (ok, I could've, but sleep won out). So we grabbed a frozen meal from my secret lover, Trader Joe, and called it a night. It bums me out a little, though, to not do SCS because that means I don't have leftovers for tomorrow night's meal and have to cook from scratch. BOO. So I planned an easy meal for Monday night. Anyway.

This week's menu is Monday-Saturday. I know, weird. It'll resume Sunday-Saturday next week.

Monday:
Lame-ass Pasta Primavera & Italian Sausage
I have a thing of alfredo sauce to use up, so I'm going to steam some frozen broccoli and cauliflower, add it to the warmed-up sauce, and pour it over some pasta. DONE. The Hubs refuses to eat without meat, so I'll grill up some turkey italian sausage for the side. 

Tuesday:
Chicken Soup Florentine
We received a "Cooking for Two" cookbook by Better Homes and Gardens that has this recipe. It looks like a cross between chicken noodle soup and italian wedding soup. Either way, if it's good, I'll post the recipe.

Wednesday:
Carnitas tacos and refried beans
Technically, due to us being gone about 10+ hours a day and having an obnoxiously fast "slow-cooker", I'm going to cook the carnitas while we sleep Tuesday night. We'll make soft tacos with them. The recipe is delicious, highly recommend. For the refried beans, I usually add some spicy tomato sauce (look in the Mexican food section, it's a yellow can), garlic powder, and shredded cheddar cheese. NOM. I'm also considering using leftover carnitas to make some enchiladas for the freezer so we can just grab n' heat next time we're hungry.

Thursday:
"Oriental"-Glazed Chicken
I would just like to state for the record that I did NOT come up with that awful name. ANYWAY, it looks easy and like something new and different. So there ya go.

Friday:
Papa Murphy's pizza (cheap and easy!)

Saturday: 
Grilled Chicken Thighs, Potluck Beans, and "snugglers"
We're tailgating on Saturday at the local college's football game! I've never seen a football game live, so I'm hoping that it's marginally more interesting than how it is on tv. Heh. I'm more interested in the tailgating anyway. I'm using Guy Fieri's recipe for chicken wing sauces for the thighs, and the Potluck Beans are from a 30-minute Recipes cookbook I got from my mom. We've tried them before, they're very tasty! "Snugglers" is basically hot cocoa and peppermint schnapps. Mmmm. So we'll either eat any leftovers for dinner tonight (or lunch tomorrow), or Pizza for dinner. 

For breakfast, I'm sucking it up and buying a plug-in kettle to use at work for Instant oatmeal during my morning before school or early prep periods (and for Cup O' Noodles, which I keep in my desk as a back-up for those busy mornings where I don't bring a lunch. Lunch Monday is leftover Asian noodle salad from Sunday, and bologna/cheese sandwiches the rest of the week (I'm having a bologna sandwich craving, so I'm going to indulge it). The goal this week is to not buy fast food, barring our agreed-upon Friday pizza night. If I had more time and desire, I'd plan a different lunch every day or get back into making bentos, but at this moment in my life, it's easier to just keep breakfast and lunch fairly rote.

OH, so last week's meals! The tomato soup recipe was not great. Not BAD, just not as creamy as I hoped for. TBH, while I like the help Menus4Moms offers (esp. since they offer a variation of the service for free), the majority of the time I try a recipe from them it's on the bland side. So I'm looking at them from now on as good base recipes to add my own pizazz too. On the plus side, the soup was cheap to make and made a TON, we froze the remnants. The tater-tot casserole was great, totally hit the spot for warm, filling, and comforting.

I do realize that these are probably some of the most boring entries EVER; I just know that meal planning is something I'm trying to master, so it helps to write out my plan and reasoning so I can see it for myself. I figure other no0bs might appreciate it as well.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Foodie Friday: RAMEN!

One of the "joys" of being broke lately is that we've bought Ramen as our go-to emergency meal for when we're too tired to cook anything, or we just want some noodles. Aside from feeling like we're back in college, it's kind of fun to see how we can use them.

I'm one of those people for whom food isn't created in shades of gray; Asian foodstuffs stay Asian, Italian food stays Italian, etc. Ramen is clearly in the "Asian" category for me, so when I make it, I have plans surrounding it that are Asian-influenced at least. The neat thing is, though, I've seen posts of people who mix all sorts of different things in it.

My go-to Ramen meal is usually created like so:
  • Boil the noodles for about 4 minutes (just long enough to lose toughness, but not back to doughy texture)
  • Pull the noodles out of the boiling water and into my bowl
  • Sprinkle the seasoning on the damp-but-not-soupy noodles, mix up the noodles.
  • Play Picasso with soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and whatever Asian-style condiments I have. I've found I can't go wrong with a good forkful of hoisin, a couple splashes of soy, and sometimes a splash of teriyaki sauce. Maybe a little garlic powder or red pepper flakes, depends. 
  • I'll throw in some de-frosted cooked shrimp, also, for protein.
Then it's more like Asian noodles than ramen SOUP... I've never been a fan of making it a soup, don't know why, although now that I'm thinking about it I could always make a Pho-like soup, huh? Heh. 

I learned the take-the-noodles-out-of-the-water trick from a guy friend in college, who made them for me like that; I haven't gone back since. I converted The Hubs to it, too; the downside is that since I'm a cook-by-taste rather than by measuring, I can't ever exactly recreate the same mix or specify what it is I did, so when The Hubs wants Ramen, guess who's stuck making it. Meh.

Anyway, I'm always looking for more ways to mix it up with Ramen, so please feel free to share your favorite ways to make Ramen (or how you used to make it, if you're out of the college mindset unlike myself and The Hubs xD).

Monday, October 25, 2010

A big to-do over To Do (lists)

If you were to know me in person, it would probably surprise you that I love lists. LOVE them. Oh, the promise of organization and order is just delicious. I love making them, I love ranking the items IN the list... I'm list happy!

The other shocking thing: When I make a list, I actually use them. They really do work for me, to have a step-by-step process of some sort, a checklist of things to do.

The problem: I don't make lists that often! I know, right? I'm a nutbag.

At this point in my life, the list of to-do's is overwhelming. There is so much crap I need to do, and my lack of list-making is doing me a disservice, esp. considering how well the strategy works for me.

So my task today (a.k.a. way to avoid working on actual work) is to make a MASSIVE to-do list - every thing I've been meaning to accomplish as of late is being written in a WORD document, and printed out first thing Monday at work. Then it's being posted somewhere obvious; I'm thinking the linen closet, since it's right across from my bedroom door.

Then the next part of this whole Massive To-Do list: DO IT. I'm setting a small goal: Knock 1 thing off the list every day. Just one. Most of the tasks are small, and big ones (like "Clean the damn living room/ bathroom/ bedroom/ other room that is disgusting and I need to clean, dammit") are being broken into the small steps that conclude with the room being clean. I'm also throwing in a couple of things that I've been wanting to do for myself, and yet keep putting off (like painting my nails, giving myself a facial mask, y'know, the little pampering bits). Those have been spread out amongst the list at random, also, so if I'm going straight down, there will be nights where I'm doing something that improves ME, if not necessarily the house. I'm just going to go down the list, one by one, and (hopefully!) knock 'em out. If I miss a day, no doubling up or beating myself up; just get back on the wagon the next day and knock one out.

I've been toying with this idea for a while; if I do it first thing when I get home, it shouldn't be so arduous; usually sitting down is the danger that gets me in "ahhhh, I'm not gonna do SH**" mode when I come home. So that's the goal, and hopefully having it in a highly visual place will make it tougher for me to ignore. Despite the fact that I ignore my dusty coffee table and various piles of clutter... and the dishes in the sink... hrm.

Anyway, I'm trying it. Here's to new starts!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Meal-Planning: Back on the wagon...

All the hullabaloo of my birthday, then the trip, then our budget figuring-out (IT IS SO HARD, OMG), and all the extra work a teacher has when he/she attempts to take a day off when it's not already scheduled... yeah, meal-planning fell away in all the madness, as did The Non-Processed Project. I did do some cooking at home, but the rest of the time was mostly freezer meals from TJ's. Nice side-effect of not being able to afford to eat out as much: I think I've lost a few pounds! WHOOOO!

Well, in one of my earlier entries, I reminded myself to try, try again. And honestly, when we're strapped for cash (as we are towards the end of the month - a side effect of one person being paid monthly and one bi-monthly), the best course of action is to PLAN!

So I did! Honestly, it's so much easier when I just use the recipes I know by heart mostly, with one or two new ones thrown in for interest/ audition to see if they should be added to the repertoire.

FYI, if you're looking for meal planning ideas:
SUNDAY:
The triumphant return of Slow-Cooker Sundays! This week is Pot Roast. I'm perfectly happy with the dry-onion-soup-mix method. Baby potatoes and baby carrots sprinkled on the bottom, the pot roast on top of those, sprinkle on the soup packet, and no more than 1/2 cup of water over the roast. (And yes, this totally goes against the whole "Non-Processed" dealie, but until I find a better spice blend, it is what it is.) I'm considering it my "welcome back, Fall weather!" celebration. *That reminds me, I need to wash my crockpot out...*

MONDAY:
Leftover Pot Roast (Mondays are so crazy, it's just easier to eat leftovers. Luckily, there is always a TON of leftovers from Pot Roast since there's only two of us.)

TUESDAY:
 Creamy Tomato Basil Soup/ Grilled Cheese Sammiches

    * 2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
    * 1 can chicken broth
    * 1 Tbsp fresh or tube basil (or 1 tsp dried)
    * 3 tsp. sugar
    * 1 cup half and half or milk
    * ¼ cup butter, cut into sections

Heat tomatoes and broth to a simmer. Stir in basil and sugar and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Reduce heat and stir in half and half and butter sections. Cook, stirring regularly, until butter is melted. Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese on top.

(This is a new recipe, I haven't tried it, but I am TOTALLY excited for it! I hate the condensed stuff. As for the sammiches, I keep it old school - KRAFT American cheese slices 'cuz they're the meltiest, mmm. I also add about a 1/2 tsp garlic powder on top of the softened butter before I spread it on the bread - it adds a GREAT touch!)

WEDNESDAY:
Tater Tot Casserole (I'm going to 1/2 this recipe)
    * 2 lbs. ground beef
    * kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
    * 1 10 oz. can low-sodium cream of mushroom soup
    * 1 cup sour cream (low fat is okay) (I'm using plain yogurt instead)
    * 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
    * 1 32 oz. package frozen tater tots

Preparation:
   1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.
   2. Brown ground beef. Season with salt and pepper, while browning. Drain.
   3. Spread ground beef in the prepared baking dish. Whisk together soup and sour cream. Spread over ground beef in an even layer.
   4. Sprinkle one cup of cheddar cheese over the soup layer.
   5. Top with tater tots.
   6. Bake 30 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake another 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted.
(I'll also steam some broccoli to go with this to make myself feel less like a fatty.)

THURSDAY:
Soyaki Chicken and Rice/Noodles
This is another one of the "I know it already" recipes, and it's ridiculously easy. Take a couple of boneless chicken breasts (I usually do 1 breast per person eating), cut them into bite-size pieces, spray some cooking spray in a skillet and cook the chicken pieces all the way through (cut a bigger chunk in half to make sure when you think they're done). Pour out any juice, pour in enough Trader Joe's Soyaki sauce to cover the chicken, and let the sauce heat through. Pour chicken over cooked rice or noodles (I'll usually boil Ramen noodles for this w/o the seasoning packets, I like the texture).

FRIDAY:
Frozen meal or meal on the run! We've been good all week at this point, dammit.


Breakfasts will be instant oatmeal (now that the weather is perfect for it!); Lunch is PBJ due to the brokeness, with bananas and nut mixes I still have from TJ's to round out, or leftovers if we have enough from the night before!

Aside from my own cooking brilliance, the sites I like to use for recipe ideas are Menus 4 Moms, I'm an Organizing Junkie's Recipe index, and the food blogs I follow (check my profile!). I also have subscriptions to Women's Day and Family Circle, and will occasionally indulge in a Real Simple (who I also follow on Twitter, and will bookmark a good recipe when they tweet them). The hilarious thing is, for all my recipe collecting, I really don't cook nearly as much as I should! One of my goals with meal planning is to try at least one new-to-me recipe a week, and if I don't like it, DELETE IT/ toss it out! Hahaha.

Now, as for the Non-Processed project... well, I still plan to pursue it again, but not this week. Unfortunately, since I haven't gotten the pre-made mixes ready for situations like this, I have to rely on the processed stuff temporarily. However, I HAVE found recipes for cream soup replacements in meals, and even DIY instant oatmeal that I still totally plan to use once I have a spare weekend. But this week, considering how stressful life has been lately, I'm giving myself a breather from my impossibly high standards. =)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

On turning 29

So.

The 14th was my 29th birthday.

It wasn't a BAD birthday, but it wasn't a great one, either. (The days that followed were great, though! We were in Southern CA for vacation, and it was lovely.) The actual day was a little depressing - because we were traveling, we didn't really have time to do much, and since I didn't really tell people it was my birthday, I didn't get a ton of birthday wishes, either. I feel like a dork for being sad about it, but I'm also going to be honest that I was, in fact, sad about it. My favorite people wished me a happy birthday, though, and that made me feel special.

The other thing that kind of dragged the actual day down was just thinking about how this is the year before the birthday all women are supposed to be afraid of - the one before the big 3-0. It bugs me more than it should, because I've found out some things recently that affect how I need to pursue certain goals, and I've also made some choices about who's in my life and who isn't... and the ramifications of those choices are still working their way through and I'm not sure how I feel about how they're working out yet. Add in some financial woes and the stress of preparing for the trip (arranging for a substitute teacher is more work than just BEING there, swear to god), and just realizing that this isn't where I thought I'd be so close to a monumental age. The timing of my birthday was surrounded by sorrow rather than joy.

What can I say, my birthdays of late have brought around a lot of self-introspection. I thought I'd be different at this point, but a lot of my issues are still the same; hell, I think I'm actually REGRESSING in a lot of areas! UGH. I feel less mature and farther behind rather than the other way around. Isn't it SUPPOSED to be the other way around?

Anyway, I'm not actually trying to be a sad sap, I swear!  I mean, yeah, I'm bemoaning it a bit, but we're (HOPEFULLY) at the tail end of a rough couple of years, and as we try to get our goals back on track, I'm wondering if I'm going to hit the markers that I wanted to hit by the big 3-0.

What, exactly, do I want to have accomplished by the time I turn 30?
  1. Visit Europe
  2. Pay down most of our debt
  3. Move into a bigger place, preferably a house (rental is fine, I just want a bigger place that feels more like a home, dammit!)
  4. Get pregnant
The likelihood of these 4 things actually happening:
  1. Probably not in the next year
  2. a good chunk, very possible with some sacrificing; all will take a little longer (and kind of makes #1 hard to accomplish! =P)
  3. Very likely, as we're either moving closer to my current job (if I'm not pink-slipped - thanks budget cuts!) or moving for a new job.
  4. Possible, but depends on health issues that need resolving first.
So what's the point of all this navel-gazing? I dunno, actually. Just want to get stuff out, try to find the brighter side of things. I don't want to be 30 and still hating myself. So either I need to accept myself as I am, or make the changes that drive me nuts.

First step: Some god-damn therapy! I sound like a crazy person. GRAR. Seriously, though, I think some counseling could really help me through my issues.Trying on my own results in me basically getting overwhelmed and, well, NOT TRYING. Ha.

So I'm at 356 days from my 30th birthday. Hopefully I'll be measurably closer to where I want to be by then.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The status of this blog/ The Non-Processed Project - Update? Meh...

Ok, so one reason I don't update so much is that I've been convinced that this blog can ONLY relate to home-making stuff... you know, a "niche" blog. While I can still share my experiences (and failures, of which there are pa-lenty), it doesn't HAVE to be all about the art of housewifery. I'm not technically a housewife, anyway (hence the "hot mess" part of the moniker), and my life doesn't revolve around it, at least not yet.

So you might see some non-homemaking posts on here occasionally. I'd apologize, but that would imply that I'm sorry. It's my blog, dammit! Instead, I'll aim for at least a weekly homemaking/lifestyle post, but I am giving myself permission to just post about stuff that's in my mind, too. If I can tie it back to homemaking, awesome. If not, meh. I'll still stay fairly uninformative (sorry, I am a public school teacher and need to keep specific details on the DL), but I'll share a little bit more of my thoughts, too.

Starting with... The Non-Processed Project! I'll admit, I'm slacking. Still shopping a lot at Trader Joe's and checking labels, but I'm also giving in to products I know are FULL of chemicals, too. For example, mint Oreo's. Those things are the DEVIL. The delicious, chemically devil. Also back to drinking soda more than I'd like, but I'm trying to work in water, too.

However, there might be an alteration to my plans soon. I mean, staying non-processed will still be in the plan, but my diet might need to be more strict very soon.

Here's the deal: I have girl issues. Without getting into too much details, I was pretty sure I have PCOS. I recently got a job again, with those lovely things called "benefits", so as soon as my insurance kicked in, I made an appointment with my lady doctor. She sent me for some blood tests, to confirm the PCOS suspicion...

Well, lo and behold, I have a whole MESS of things wrong with me. No official diagnosis yet, but the tests showed that my thyroid is way wonky, and my blood sugar levels are WAY too high. The next step is to find a primary care physician to deal with these issues (I skipped to an OB/GYN because I wanted to find out what's wrong with my girl issues, thinking that was the ONLY issue; turns out the thyroid/blood sugars are also big contributors - as well as symptoms of PCOS, go fig), and go from there. The blood sugars issues indicate a likely chance that I'm diabetic. Considering my weight, not a shock, but I was a little shook up about it. I'm mad at myself, obviously. I could've avoided this a LOOONG time ago, but nope, I resisted change as much as I could. Hilariously, I have actually lost a little weight by eating out less and trying to cook healthier food at home. Not always successfully, but apparently it's paid off a little without trying. GO FIG. BUT a few weeks of good behavior isn't going to undo years of self-abuse.  What kills me about all this is that I'm in total "clucky" mode, and the thing that's preventing me from procreating is my own fault. *sigh*

Anyway, the point of this is that I not only need to find a doctor to help me, but I need to change my eating lifestyle PRONTO. I've been considering South Beach Diet (the plan, not the products), and I'm open to it, but I know I'm going to miss my carbs like WHOA. Luckily, most of the other stuff I like is ok for South Beach, so... we'll see. For now, I'm just trying to continue eating better, and after our little vacation this week, The Hubs has offered to jump on the health bandwagon with me as a show of support. Also, I need to schedule that doctor appointment!

This isn't turning into a diet blog; I will share any tasty recipes I stumble upon, though. =)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Martha Screw-up: The guilt of hiring help

So as the average reader may have noticed, posting has slowed down here. The main reason: I'm gone for 12 hours a day, and I tend to spend my weekend doing as close to nothing as possible.

Now as you may have noticed in my profile (or I may have mentioned it before), I'm a teacher. High school, specifically. The school is an hour away from where we currently live, so 2 of those hours are round-trip travel daily. I'm also teaching all low-level classes, which makes for a very demanding day - I literally do not sit down from when the bell rings to when the bell rings to dismiss class. Yeah. I come home EXHAUSTED, and it's been affecting our level of cleanliness like whoa. Not that I was that clean to begin with, but still...

Another concern with me being gone 12 hours a day, and The Hubs gone for at least 10 (he has a half-hour commute, and he carpools since we're down to one car), is our poor sweet Daisy dog. She was seriously staying in the apartment for 10 hours a day without a chance to pee! We noticed she was refraining from eating or drinking until we were home to avoid having an accident (which, while showing how smart she is, isn't good for her). We finally looked at our finances and managed to find a neighbor who was willing to walk Daisy for half an hour every weekday in the middle of the day. We're happy because it gives her some fresh air and a chance to take a wee, and since we're paying her, we also have her take her on a good 15-20 minute walk rather than just out to the grass.

The reason it took us so long was partly financial, but partly GUILT. We are perfectly capable of walking our dog ourselves, after all! We are lazy people by nature, granted, but we draw the line at paying people to do what we should be able to do! Well, the welfare of our dog is what pushed us to finally look past our pride and seek a dog-walker, and Daisy has never been happier. She is FULL of P&V every night almost, because she got some attention and outside time that we couldn't give her when she needed it, and are too tired to give her as much as she deserves when we are home (we take her around our apartment complex at night and play with her, but it's not enough when she's alone 10 hours a day).

The point of this is, why are we so prideful? I mean, in this situation, everyone wins: Our neighbor loves Daisy and is a somewhat-lonely retiree who now gets paid to spend half an hour with a cute dog everyday. We can work without the fear that our poor dog is sad and fighting off an exploding bladder. Daisy gets out of the house AND human company, and it breaks up the monotony of her 10+ hour day of loneliness. SO WHY DO WE FEEL SO GUILTY?

Personally, the freedom it gives me outweighs the guilt in this case, and it benefits our "child" the most which furthers smooshes down the guilt level. But any other kind of services, like housekeeping? OMG. The guilt at the mere idea of it is overwhelming... I feel like I should be at the point where I WANT to keep my house clean on my own. It's not like the want isn't there, it is, but the flesh is like, "Do I have to?" Or, since Hyperbole and a Half puts it so much better:
Artistic rendering of my sadness courtesy of Hyperbole and a Half. Please don't sue, I'm broke and simply wish I was as talented.
I have a feeling most of you feel my pain. xD The Hubs is becoming MUCH better about the cleaning than I am, which A. makes me wonder how he's a boy who's 1.5 years YOUNGER than me and yet maturing at a faster rate and B. also makes me feel WORSE. If we could afford it, though, even once a month... oh man, it'd be SWEET. I'd feel a little guilty, but ultimately the stress release would be worth it. The Hubs feels differently, though. He's very prideful, and the idea of paying someone to do something he can do himself makes me twitch. Maybe when we have a kid and are even MORE exhausted he'll consider a monthly deep-cleaning... as it is, we mainly deep-clean for company. (So come November, this apartment will SPARKLE for Thanksgiving!) But still, WHY DO WE FEEL THE GUILT? The cleaners are willing because they get paid, we don't have to stress about it and feel guilty for letting it get so bad... ugh. It's a vicious cycle... and a cycle that shall remain cyclical until I somehow convince The Hubs it's not such a shameful thing. ;D

Sidenote: My mom saw our messy apartment this weekend and said it actually gets better every time she visits, and smells better, too! I wasn't sure whether to feel proud or still embarrassed.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Non-Processed Project/ Meal Planning - less FAIL, more WIN!

The weird thing about having a job that actually pays money is that I assumed our finances would go back to awesomeness once we got my first paycheck (in addition to The Hubs paychecks, naturally). Twice the money = back to normal, right?

Well, wrong. Turns out we are not as good with money as we thought. Partly based on circumstances from this past year, but partly our own spendy natures. Our biggest issue, as I've mentioned before, is we eat out of convenience. A lot. However, I'm trying to get back on top of it - I've had good weeks and bad weeks. The "formula" I'm working with is slow-cooking on the weekend, 1 meal "out", and 1 meal "frozen" - that leaves 4 dinners that I need to be easy-peasy, as I'm still the only one cooking (while I'm also the only one gone for 10+ hours).

Last week was a BAD week. I had a great plan, but I just didn't take into account how TIRED I would be for a few of the days. I didn't get home until 8pm 3 times last week (on the plus side, two nights I also had free dinner provided for me, so that helped in the wallet area), and then the one day I was home early and PLANNING to cook, but I was emotionally exhausted. So I only actually cooked once. We still ate from home (sandwiches, leftovers from Sunday, frozen meals), so it was still cheaper than usual, but it made me feel like a failure.

Same with eating Non-Processed food. While I am still reading labels and have cut back on putting bad stuff in my body, I'm still purchasing without thinking when it's a last-minute/non-planned thing and eating out more than I'd like... and since my logical side is drowned out by my illogical side's yelling, I don't hear my logical side saying, "Calm down, you've been eating this way for 20+ years, it's going to take some trial and error" while my illogical side screams "OMG YOU SUCK, HOW DARE YOU NOT BE PERFECT ALREADY."

Well, I'm deciding I'm only a failure if I don't try, try again. That's where I usually fail as well - I'm not 100% perfect, so I settle for 100% failure instead of, say, the 65% of perfection that it was. So we're trying again! Continuing to purchase better-for-me foods, and being better about watching what I purchase on the run. For the meal planning this week, I followed the same formula and actually repeated a lot of what I intended to cook last week for this week (which is fine, 'cuz I don't have a TON of keeping-me-late things to do this week, thank goodness).

Since I'm always looking for meal plan ideas, I figure it would hurt to share my plan for this week with y'all! Here it is:

Sunday night (tonight):
  • Crockpot BBQ chicken for sandwiches (new-to-me recipe - a little heavy on the ketchup, but overall tasty!)
  • Garlic fries from Trader Joe's (pretty accurate to the ballpark version - Adding Parmesan cheese makes it delish)
Monday night:
  • Freezer food (I'm having dinner with a friend, The Hubs will fend for himself)
Tuesday night:
  • Pasta primavera using pre-made Alfredo sauce, broccoli/cauliflower, and shrimp. Been craving it something fierce.
Wednesday night:
  • Taco Soup! I FLIPPIN' LOVE taco soup, and I've been craving it. NOMNOMNOM.(I actually don't include the tomatoes or chillies, and add a can of black beans - still delish! NOM NOM NOM.)
Thursday night:
  • Oven-"fried" chicken (I prefer thighs, The Hubs prefers breasts - I make both)
  • Microwave mashed potatoes - I'm using Yukon Golds. I've yet to try it this way before, but I LOVE mashed potatoes; a chance to make them easily in 12 minutes as opposed to 30+? SOLD. 
Friday night:
  • Freezer or Night out!
Saturday night:
  • Crockpot layered dinner - steak and potatoes, mmm. Might make some veggies to go with it, haven't decided yet. And I feel we've earned some steak. 
As for breakfasts, still sticking with the fruit and yogurt parfaits (just bought some frozen berries to mix in with the frozen strawberries I still need to use up!), and for lunch this week I'm finishing up some lunchmeat and then sticking with PB&J's. I'm getting tired of sammiches, though, so any suggestions are welcome for other easy lunch options (other than leftovers).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

iPhone Apps for the modern housewife

Ok, so I am totes addicted to my iPhone. A. Dict. TED. I don't have an iPhone 4 or anything, but I really, really like my 3GS. My main use of it (other than as a, you know, PHONE) is all the apps. The Hubs and I combined have over 100 in our iTunes. I'd say about 70+% are mine! I mainly use it for games, but there are some awesome "lifestyle" aids that I've come to love.


"Big Oven" - this one needs internet to work, but it's my favorite quick-recipe search. They're user-submitted, and so far every recipe I've tried has been simple and tasty, which is my kind of thing, esp. when I'm in a hurry!

"Real Simple To-Do lists" - Ok, I'll admit I don't use this one as much as I could (or probably should), but I will admit it's a good place to start when it comes to tackling big projects. They have a bunch of "to-dos" to start you thinking, and you can add your own. I used it to organize my 90's party, and it did help a bit! Plus it's free. Can't turn down free, right? Actually, all of these are free apps. Heh.

"Lose It!" - Now I will be the first to admit that I haven't used this consistently in a LOOOONG time. BUT when I was on track, I loved this thing. It's easy to add recipes and ingredients (if a little time-consuming - but not as time-consuming as other apps I've tried), and it has a chart in the app to show you your progress, which I kind of love. A good, long database of already-entered items, too! IF you feel your beautiful visage needs a little more beautification via weight-loss (I think you look great, BTW), it's a handy app.

"Mad Men: Cocktail Culture" - I think I've established that I'm a rabid "Mad Men" fan. Yes, I downloaded the free Mad Men app they advertised. Now, it actually costs money to "make" a drink other than a gimlet (but I love gimlets, so I'm set), but all the RECIPES for the cocktails are free! It's a GREAT retro cocktail resource, and every drink comes with additional trivia facts; I'm a trivia junkie, so I love that. I totally want to have a retro cocktail party and use this app to make all the drinks. xD

"Around Me" - My mom turned me on to this app. It's AWESOME if you're in an unfamiliar area and want to find a restaurant, gas station, library, WHATEVER. You can either search by category or the store you're looking for, and then it'll transfer to the standard "Maps" app for iPhones to show you how to get there from your current location! It's been a big help, I love it.

I didn't get paid to endorse any of these (and TBH, most of the apps I have are games, I use my iPhone like a Gameboy, haha), they're just a few of my favorites. Any fellow iPhone users have any apps I can try?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Non-Processed Project update 1

Ok, so this project is going to be harder than I thought, haha.

When I'm tired, I'm susceptible. For example, Monday I stopped for gas before starting my 1-hour commute home, and without thinking I grabbed a bag of Funyuns and a bottle of Diet Pepsi Cherry Vanilla. I looked at the bag of Funyuns, and OMG THE CHEMICALS. I was a little shocked and disgusted with myself, but the damage was done.

Also, now that I got paid, we've indulged in not cooking a little more than we should. So bad. I also forgot my breakfast and lunch one day, and ate the Instant Noodles I have in my desk as a backup for days like this. Again, CHEMICALS. But I'm not about to just waste them, either - they're there exactly for the reason I ate them: emergencies.

So, for this week the goal is to COOK AT HOME. We had our week/weekend of indulgence, and now it's time to get back on track - not just for health reasons, but for financial as well... I mean, really, eating out so much is throwing money away out of laziness, and now that we have two incomes we want to be responsible about it. Seriously, I could've bought the new book I want for the money I wasted on eating out - twice! Grr.

Which is part of why I'm attempting this non-processed project, to reassess my priorities. I put food over other joys in life, and I put BAD food over my health. Both are areas that need to change!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Non-Processed Project

Hey all!

One thing I'm actually pretty obsessed with is food. Mmm, food. If you ever see a picture of me, you will see that it's pretty obvious (i.e., I'm fat). However, the relationship between fat and food is a complicated one, based in a tug-of-war with love and hate. I love food for the pleasure it gives me on my tongue, but I hate how I use it when I'm out of control emotionally, or when I'm craving it like a drug.

The thing that bugs me most on the "hate" side of the tug-of-war is my addiction to "bad" foods. Mainly fast food, with an occasional processed-food indulgence. I love fast food, even though the craving and imagined lushness of what I'm eating is rarely equaled by the actual product. I realize how bad it actually tastes (esp. in comparison to real food), but at the same time I still crave it. So one thing I want to work on in general is breaking away from fast food and processed foods, PERIOD. It's a diet of sorts, I guess, but I'm more interested in clearing out the chemicals and eating REAL food.

Of course, the tricky thing about this is that we have become a culture of convenience, and there are some damn tasty chemicals out there. The idea of stepping away from all the pre-made stuff and making everything ONLY from scratch is... overwhelming, to put it MILDLY. I have a full-time job that requires a LOT of time, and as it is our apartment is barely livable (in no small part thanks to The Hubs, NOT me!). Now I want to go au naturel with the food-making, too? I mean, to be completely natural, I'd have to grow and butcher my own plants and animals. I'm not that good, and don't have those kind of resources at hand.

So we're trying to do it baby-steps style. This is no official plan, I'm making it up as I go, but here's what I'm thinking to start:
  • Shop the outside of the store, no processed foods like condensed soup, Cheetos, hot pockets, etc. Frozen vegetables/fruits and pre-made pasta are exceptions. Even better if I can buy what I need at local farmer's market.
  • If I'm buying something from the aisles for convenience, I have to recognize all of the ingredients AND no high fructose corn syrup/ corn syrup/ other obviously chemical stuff/ etc. in it. Surprisingly, I already found a granola (store-brand, even!) that the only ingredient I didn't recognize is actually ok (soy lecithin). Phew!
  • Aim for as close to non-hormone-infused meats and dairy as possible. If organic is possible and affordable, go for it. 
  • Make my own versions of favorite "fast-food" meals using real ingredients.
  • Try to quit soda again. (I've managed to cut down to non-caffeinated soda, and at work I drink only water, but it's a long-standing addiction I'm struggling to cut out). 
I almost hate to admit it, but I'm using Trader Joe's a LOT to help with this. What can I say, they offer a lot of products that meet these needs already, which is really nice. I'm also not throwing out anything which is perfectly serviceable still in our fridge or pantry (we can't afford to be wasteful) if it's chemically-based, but when it runs out it will be replaced with a "cleaner" version (if necessary).

I'm also not completely giving up on convenience foods; luckily, my "google-fu" has already found some options for replacing things like "cream of ____" soups in recipes, and I even have a homemade hamburger helper recipe that I really liked when I made it. We (The Hubs and I) are also planning on devoting a weekend soon to pre-making our own frozen dinners so we can really know what's in our food. For further "convenience", I'm also planning on making two slow-cooker dinners each weekend so we can use it for dinner during the week if we don't feel like cooking. Since we're most susceptible to grabbing the "bad" food when we're hungry and tired, having a lot of pre-made options at home will help (I hope!). Obviously, any awesome discoveries will be shared here!

Like I said, the hope is that focusing more on real food and avoiding chemical monsters will be more satisfying as a way of eating that it'll lead to more healthy choices, and that all the pre-planning will also dissuade me from being tempted to eat the chemical monsters on the way to or from work (which is an hour-long commute each way). On the menu this week: Yogurt parfaits inspired by Cooking with My Kid's version (I didn't make my own granola... YET) with a banana for breakfast, roast beef and cheddar sandwiches for lunch with carrot sticks and cheese for lunch. The carrots have been pre-portioned for the week, as has the granola and frozen strawberries for the parfaits. The hope is to just throw them all in my mini-cooler I take to and from school, and having so much to nibble throughout the day will keep me from stopping on the way to school or on the way home! I will admit that the roast beef is Hillshire Farms (so probably chemical-heavy), and I have ranch dressing that's not pre-made by me for the carrots. Baby steps, though, people. Baby steps.

I'll try to update regularly how the process is going; I'm also open to any tips or tricks from others!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I'm becoming even hotter and messier...

Ok, so, yeah.

I still totally plan on updating this regularly, it's just a matter of having spare time where I'm not dead to the world. See, I was fortunate and finally scored a teaching job. Downside: I didn't get the job until 2 weeks before school started, and didn't even get the pacing guide my subject department follows until the day before school started (so the outlining I did has to be redone). AND I'm a "roamer", in that I don't have my own classroom.

Truth be told, though, those are (so far) my only complaints. While my first week was exhausting, it was also mostly pretty awesome. I spent yesterday actually relaxing by hanging with one of my best girl friends and watching the movie "Babies" (I need at least one day where I don't do anything work-related), and today getting stuff organized and TRYING to lesson plan. I've got about 2 weeks done so far. For some odd reason, it just wasn't coming together today. So I'll be spending the rest of my spare time this week trying to get farther ahead in planning and starting unit plans... then maybe I'll have a spare moment to actually plot out a good entry?

In the meantime, I CAN update that my brilliant idea to do a chore a day doesn't really work when you come home from 12 hours of running around and your feet are killing you (I need better shoes, but I can't afford them until we get my first paycheck). Hell, I barely cooked all week. I think I made Hamburger Helper one night? I haven't even been to the grocery store in 2 weeks - The Hubs has done a couple store runs for quick refills on things like soda, but other than that we've been eating out of the cupboard and freezer as easily as possible. So basically, PB&J and ramen. Yeah. Super-healthy. The hope is once I adjust to the new schedule, we can get back on track. Any tips on finding the balance between work and home? I still haven't figured it out.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Martha Screwup: ... I have a blog?

Sorry, folks. The radio silence is unintended. Teaching has officially taken over, now that I officially have a teaching job (should update my profile!). School starts on Monday and I have to get myself all orgamanized.

I intend to do a Foodie Friday post, though. In the meantime, um... Sorry?

Well, to make this a LITTLE more relevant than an "I suck" post, I should mention that due to the various stressors of job hunting, money hurting, and then finding out I need to start planning a school year in a week (add in the "fun" of being a born procrastinator)... the house has fallen slightly into shambles. It's not HORRIFIC, but the ring on the toilet is disgusting and the dust on the shelves is starting to look at me funny. Also, our fridge is creating new life forms in some of the tupperwares that I dare not open.

Dear god, I can't believe I'm actually admitting this. EEP. Well, I swore to be honest about my housewifery struggles, so here it is.

I DO have a solution, or at least a germ of an idea. I'm going to make it my goal to clean one thing every day. Kitchen counters one day, toilet another, swiffering the bathroom/kitchen floors the next... it seems less stressful that way. Cleaning in one fell swoop overwhelms me. Tomorrow is the toilet, 'cuz it's getting gross. I'd take pictures, but I have some restraint.

Friday, August 6, 2010

FIESTA Friday! How I threw a 90's-theme party

SO. I threw a 90's party for my girlfriends this past Spring. It was agreed that it was pretty much all-around awesome. I mean, Hollywood celebrities weren't clamoring to get in or anything, but for us "normal" folks, it's a fun thing to do, esp. since those of us in attendance were pre-teens/teens in the 90's, so most of our memories are from that time.

I (of course) did a ton of research before the party - it's in my nature, I'm an English teacher for Pete's sake. I even provided a link to ideas for 90's outfits (of COURSE you have to dress like the 90's!) to help them out. My original costume idea was a blue dress with a stain on the front, but I couldn't find a cheap dress I was willing to ruin in my size, so I had to settle for a cute "Clueless"-type outfit once I found a cute mini-jacket at ROSS. I totally rocked the slip dresses over t-shirts and thigh-highs and Mary Janes in junior high, I can't lie. xD

Decorations are tricky; the 90's is just retro enough to justify a party, but not quite outlandish enough or far-away enough to have readily available decorations. Also, I was trying to do this CHEAP (and I did - most of the money went to the food, which I admittedly went over-budget with. I'm a fat girl, I like food.). So I settled for color pictures of popular 90's stuff, like No Doubt, Green Day, Bill Clinton, Saved By The Bell, etc. I even found an instructional sheet on how to do the Macarena for health! SERIOUSLY! It was awesome. The internet is a wealth of resources. So I printed them out and taped them all around my living room. I also made a MASSIVE 90's playlist, and offered Ring Pops as guest favors (which were technically developed in the 70's, but got a big commercial push in the 90's so we all remember them from our childhood).

The Menu was my crowning accomplishment. Everyone was so excited to see the food, haha. Probably because one of the items was a tray of sushi. ;p (Yes, Sushi was also developed before the 90's, but it surged in popularity in non-major cities in the 90's. I DID MY RESEARCH!)
The Menu:
  • Tray of various Sushi rolls (from our local Raley's)
  • Tray of egg rolls (from our local Raley's - not necessarily 90's, but they're good and filling)
  • Bagel Bites (came out in the 90's!)
  • Light microwave popcorn with "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" spray (ICBINB came out in the 90's!)
  • Peanut Butter M&M's (came out in the 90's!)
  • Snackwell's Devils Food cookies (which NO ONE ate, but it DID come out in the 90's!)
  • Snapple Kiwi Strawberry (who DIDN'T drink that crap in the 90's?)
  • Various 2-Liters of soda
  • A Pitcher of Cosmopolitans ("Sex and the City" debuted in the late 90's, and they don't sell Zima anymore in the US, so it was a bit of a stretch to use the infamous Cosmos from SATC but it still counts.)
Activities during the party was a movie quote game I made, with a prize of a Titanic coffee table book (found at Goodwill), a slap bracelet, a pack of scrunchies, and 2 bottles of Hard Candy nail polish (which was totally popular in the 90's - they now sell them at WalMart!). We hung out, ate, and talked, and we also watched the movie "Clueless", which is MY favorite 90's movie, and since it was a girls-only party, we were all excited to watch it.

All in all, it was a great excuse to party and we had a blast! I love planning parties, and I was really proud of how this one turned out. Also: Our costumes were awesome! I blurred faces out of courtesy, sorry for how weird it looks, but gotta respect privacy.
It's creepy, ain't it?
An example of my "awesome" decorations

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Keeping it Cheap! (I have no clever Alliteration today.)

Ah, the "joys" of being a teacher.

The good news: I got a teaching job! It looks like the school is really nice, too. (So far, the staff has been nothing but friendly and helpful, so I'm taking it as a good sign.) Which means I'll be a leetle busy (but still trying to update at least 2-3 times a week).

The bad news: I don't get paid until the end of September, and we're still waiting for Unemployment to kick in since being let go from my last (temp) job. =/ It's not necessarily PANIC-worthy, we're not BROKE. My hubby brings in a solid paycheck that covers our monthly bills and even covers gas and groceries. The only issue is that it's ALL the paycheck covers. Which is a lot better than a fair amount of people in our country, so I'm not complaining! It's just a change - we've been used to doing things a little less stringently. So NOW the challenge is to keep our groceries bill low and find ways to keep ourselves amused for cheap (preferably free).

So starting Monday night, we've been eating from the pantry and freezer. Due to our tendency to eat frozen dinners or grab fast food, they're both actually pretty well-stocked still! xD I know, so bad. This is actually a good exercise in frugality - even if it's by force. The only things we've bought from the store so far have been soda (The Hubs has quite the addiction - but hey, it beats cigarettes, which he quit this year!), and dog food for Daisy. I had a 2 for 1 coupon for Chipotle, so The Hubs (the accountant of the marriage) let me have one more indulgence for the month since I could stretch it out for 2 meals.

As weird as it sounds, it's actually kind of fun to play "mystery dinner". I mean, we're not INSANE, so I'm not just throwing random ingredients together and crossing my fingers or anything. Last night I used some cooked shrimp, angel hair pasta, and covered it in an Asian sauce that was basically from the recipe I use to make lettuce wraps. It actually turned out good, should've doubled the sauce though. Tonight I WAS going to make meatloaf (using condensed tomato soup), but it wasn't defrosting fast enough so I had to throw something together last-minute. Luckily, my beloved turkey italian sausage defrosts quickly even using the cold-water method, so I grilled those on the Foreman, and boiled some shell-pasta I had leftover that I mixed with some Trader Joe's frozen veggies I have yet to try (cauliflower and romanesco w/ garlic butter). Tasty! Plus I never had romanesco, and it was yummy! Like broccoli with cauliflower-like "flowers" on top. Tomorrow will be the meatloaf, with some sort of dressed-up rice. Like I said, it's kind of a fun challenge! It'll get tricky, though, when work starts in a week and a half and I'm commuting 2 hours a day... we'll definitely have to figure out some quick, easy meals to make (or learn to love PB&J until we can afford frozen meals ;D). I'm actually hoping to spend a day next week making some stuff ahead to freeze, like personal lasagnas - any successes will be shared here, of course!

As for cheap entertainment... well, he likes TV and I like the internerd, and we have iPhones to play on, also. We'll get out of the house, too, to go see a free movie in our local park this weekend! I'll be checking our local weekly for other free events, too. Any suggestions for two young-ish people to kill time out of the house for cheap?

How do you keep things cheap when belt-tightening is absolutely necessary?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Music Monday – “Music to Clean to” 90's mix!


As much as it pains me to reveal my age, I will admit that I am a 90's child. As in, I graduated in the 1990's (the LATE 1990's, thankyouverymuch) and spent half of my childhood growing up IN the 90's.

Even more painful is that the 90's are officially "retro" enough to start sneaking its way back into pop culture. See: Revamps of awesome 90's dramas "90210" and "Melrose Place" (the revamps are not awesome), 90's fashion being revisited in small ways (thank god), and my city establishing an all 90's channel - in which they play up the nostalgia aspect.

So for this Music Monday, we're doing the Running Man as we work! (Oh, you KNOW I was the master of that dance. For REAL, yo.) It's a 90's flashback for this week, including the 90's party I threw for a bunch of my girlfriends this year, with my tips on how I put it together!

Now, when it comes to 90's music, for me it falls into 2 categories: Alternative and Hip-Hop. This one falls more into the Alternative realm, but it's not really the "grunge" form of it. Don't get me wrong, I like Nirvana as much as any other 90's child (and I desperately tried to work a Nirvana song in but it just didn't go with the general feel of this particular playlist - someday!), but I focused on more of the happy, Pop-ish alternative music that came out in the 90's (and some of it is outright Pop - even I can't resist a little "I'm Too Sexy"). As a bonus bit of nostalgia, I'm telling the story of how I discovered certain songs, too! Some I didn't discover until this century!
  1. "Your New Cuckoo", The Caridgans My friend from my last high school (I transferred in 11th grade), Joey, introduced me to The Caridgans, for which I'm eternally grateful - for his taste in music and his friendship, we're still good buddies! 
  2. "Underground," Ben Folds Five While I didn't discover this SONG until college, I discovered Ben Folds Five when I was visiting my uncle and his then-girlfriend (now-wife) in IL. She gave me a bunch of cool cd's to check out and tape back at my Dad's place (who I was staying with for a few weeks in IL - the uncle visit was a side-trip), and Ben Folds Five's "Whatever and Ever Amen" was amongst them. They're still one of my favorite bands ever, even though they're now defunct. 
  3. "Last Goodbye", Jeff Buckley He sounds like an angel. Sadly, I didn't give him a listen until the mid-2000's. I love his plaintive wail to "kiss me" in this song. 
  4. "Here's Where the Story Ends", The Sundays
  5. "Missing", Everything But the Girl This song is part of their album "Amplified Heart", which is one of my favorite albums ever. So loved, in fact, I haven't listened to any of their other songs from other albums so as to not ruin my affection for this album. Also: this song has a cowbell! AWESOME. 
  6. "Supernova", Liz Phair
  7. "The Noise of Carpet", Stereolab Another friend from high school, Andrew, introduced me to this group and the album this came from. He's another one of my still-good friends who also gives me musical guidance; we bonded over our mutual adoration of Radiohead (my all-time favorite band)
  8. "Devil's Haircut", Beck
  9. "Buddy Holly", Weezer I know it's cliche, but I love this song - and yes, the video is what led me to loving it. Ho yeah. 
  10. "Criminal", Fiona Apple Another cd discovered via my now-aunt, and she's still one of my favorite artists ever. Not as high as Radiohead, but still up there. She's awesome. 
  11. "Brimful of Asha", Cornershop
  12. "Your Woman", White Town  I LOVED THIS SONG. For some reason, the local alternative station rarely ever played it, and never when I was close to my radio/tape player. Remember when you had to make your own mix tape? REMEMBER TAPES? GAWD, I'm old.
  13. "I'm Too Sexy", Right Said Fred I don't care, it's awesome, shut up. 
  14. "Just a Girl", No Doubt Oh man. I wanted to be Gwen Stefani SO BAD when this song came out. Those bindis, rhinestoned bra straps, and red lips? BITCHIN'. Plus it was used in some of my favorite movies as a teenager - "Clueless" and "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion". "I'M THE MARY!"
  15. "Cosmic Girl", Jamiroquai It's pretty played out at this point, but it's still a good song. I actually liked this single better than "Virtual Insanity".
  16. "April Fools", Rufus Wainwright This was a random late-night discovery on MTV one night... and it took me years to find it (thank you, internet!). Love this song. 

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