Stuff I Ate Recently

I’ve been sick as a dog since Saturday, so let’s do a simple Pin round-up, shall we? Here’s some food I made recently.

Sausage, Pepper & Potato Bake:

Easy + Yummy = Perfection

Sausage, Pepper & Potato Bake | Smartter Each Day

As I said, I’ve been sick… really sick. I stayed home from work Monday and Tuesday and basically slept for 48 hours, and I’m just barely feeling human today. So when I say I made this last night, you know it was EASY. And it just so happened to also be super delicious! I didn’t have any sweet potatoes and it tasted great with just white potatoes, bell peppers, onion, and sausage. I bet you could throw in any kind of roasting vegetable you had on hand. Everything is yummy if you douse it in olive oil and roast it. Everything.

No-Bake Mock Reese’s

I die.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars | Rachel Cooks

These really are very similar to Reese’s… They’ve got Graham cracker crumbs in the PB part to give them that grainy Reese’s texture, which is pretty much spot-on. I think these are a little too indulgent for me, though (never thought I’d see the day). They are super, super rich and I don’t even want to think about how many calories are in a little square-inch piece. Don’t think I’ll be making these again. But we will happily polish off the batch we’ve got!

Beans and Cornbread

Om-nom-nom-nom-nom...

Beans and Cornbread | The Pioneer Woman Cooks

I got an inexplicable craving for that classic meal of Beans and Cornbread recently so I tried out the beans from this version, and they were exactly what the doctor ordered! If’n y’all want some damn fine pork n’ beans alongside yer cornbread what ya cooked up in that thur skillet, then boy-howdy this right ‘ere is how ya do it. *eye twitch* Sorry, I think the Texan side of me took over there, for a minute. The beans really were perfect; I added a few shakes of spices like chili powder, cumin, and I think some turmeric? Anyways, perfect. I didn’t use her cornbread, because I don’t do Crisco. I did this sourdough cornbread instead:

Sourdough Cornbread | The Pocket Farmer

I baked it in my cast iron skillet (which is the only way to bake cornbread), but the skillet was a little too big, so it came out really really flat. But definitely crispy and delicious! Comfort food success. You’ll hear more about the beans & cornbread once I get around to the big post about that time I went insane and baked all day. Good times.

Note: Why the heck is it impossible to embed Pins in WordPress? I tried doing it in the html editor and everything. There are so many tutorials that claim it’s really easy, but nothing’s working for me. Anybody know why mine’s not working?
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Sick

I get sick all the time nowadays… Just constantly. Not sure what exactly happened in the past five years or so to devastate my immune system, but I seem to catch everything that’s going around. I developed some sort of sore throat / headache / sinus bullshit over the weekend, and it’s severe enough that I stayed home from work today.

I hate taking sick days. I don’t actually want to be at work, I just feel guilty, and I worry that my boss thinks I’m faking. Paradoxically, on the (very rare) occasions in the past that I have “called in” without being actually sick, I feel totally fine about it. Sometimes you need a Mental Health Day and you return afterwards happier and much more productive. But on days like today – when I’m actually physically ill and probably contagious – I feel like a terrible, lazy person for staying home.

Last night, as it became increasingly apparent that I was not going to be working today, I compiled a mental list of stuff I could get done at home. (That’s my consolation for missing work, usually – I am often insanely productive when left alone in a messy apartment feeling “lazy” because I’m considerate enough to not become the office Typhoid Mary). I was going to exercise, go grocery stopping, start house hunting, sign up for defensive driving, get some solid work done on my Big Creative Project, and finally put away the Christmas decorations (yes, I know it’s March. At least I took the holiday wreath off the door. Last week.). 
 
Unfortunately, I ended up sleeping until noon, stumbling around just long enough to make coffee, finishing The Fifth Element on my DVR, and then alternating between reading and falling back asleep on the couch for most of the day. I’m still in my PJ’s. I never even showered.
 
The obvious problem with trying to catch up on a sick day is – of course – that you are sick. 
 
On the bright side, from the time I started feeling bad (Saturday evening) to now I did start & finish both Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half and Tina Fey’s Bossypants, which were excellent and had been sitting around unread for months. I guess waiting until I feel awful to binge-read as much as possible is better than never reading at all.
 
Note: The text got stuck in italics halfway through and I don’t know why and I am too sick and pitiful to fix it. Please disregard the apparent gravitas of these words.
 
Other Note: Oh, apparently it didn’t. It just appears in italics in the post editor even though it is not. I actually want these notes to be italicized and I can’t make that happen either. Am too sick and pitiful to be very annoyed by this, or by the random extra line breaks that seem to be showing up everywhere.
 
Last Note: The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you get to Amazon through one of those links and then buy anything, I get a small percentage. This doesn’t cost you any more; it’s just a bonus for me.

Internet Travel Guide: 3/21/2014

“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.”

~Rabindranath Tagore

I made this Greek Chicken Salad last weekend and it is AMAAAAAAZING. I added some shredded cabbage for crunchiness. Delish.

Kitchen Scraps You Can Regrow with Nothing But Water | Lifehacker

This seems like a fun kitchen experiment on Lifehacker – kitchen scraps that you can regrow in water. You certainly can’t do this indefinitely but it might work okay for double-lettuce or whatever. Or I bet you could put these same things in soil for even better results. As you may remember, my love for free/recycled plants has been previously documented! (Every single plant featured in that post is now long dead, by the way. Oops.)

This week in Reverse Psychology News: simply giving yourself the option of doing nothing could make you more likely to achieve your goals. The idea is that people are more dedicated to their commitments if they feel like they were truly free when they made the decision.

You know what I don’t miss about my first job? CONFERENCE CALLS. Conference calls are the actual worst. They’re like meetings, but even less productive. This video imagines – with uncanny accuracy – what it would be like if conference call annoyances happened IRL.

Scratch Paper

"I get the chair because I'm cooler. Definitely too cool to sit in it correctly."

Doodle Location: General school notebook, says “age 11”

I’ve always drawn all over any available surface, almost involuntarily. I doodle to keep my hands busy while my brain is somewhere else, like in class or a meeting, and I’ve found it actually helps me concentrate. I often end up with drawings that are super interesting and/or weird, I guess because I’m just pulling directly from my subconscious without thinking too hard about it. Some of my favorite worlds and characters originated in the margins of school notes.

IMG_1779

IMG_1777

The "Doodlebugs" were recurring characters

Doodle Location: 6th grade Pre-Algebra homework; my teacher called me a “doodlebug” and so I created these little guys for her and she wrote notes to me about them when she graded my work. Mrs Brogniez was awesome 🙂

For that same reason, though, I tend to be super uncomfortable when people notice that I’m drawing and want to see. My absentminded doodles are dumped out onto the page with no filter, and they feel a lot more personal than my more structured work.

Young Amy wasn't a morning person, either.

Doodle Location: middle-school history notebook; I had a whole cast of pig characters at one point

Plus, when people get all gushy about little scribbles that I expended almost no effort on, I feel uncomfortable and sort of guilty about it. I’m terrible at accepting praise for stuff that I slaved over, much less random doodles that I’ll toss in the recycling bin on my way out the door.

Probably not the most flattering portraits

Doodle Location: Conference for my first job at a hotel; I was drawing my coworkers from life (stealthily)

Does that sound arrogant or just crazy? Oh, woe is me, people like the things that I draw. I know that’s a stupid thing to be uncomfortable about but I’m a shy person and a terrible perfectionist with this weird Puritanical work ethic that makes me hate being rewarded for anything unless I worked my ass off for it. I have no idea why. I’m working on it.

MY DOCTOR

Doodle Location: Cut out of a blank page in the class materials from Green Belt training at my first job (Quality science, not martial arts. My job was not that exciting)

 Anyways, I usually just toss my drawings without a second thought, but occasionally I see the nugget of a character or a story or a world that’s interesting, and that I’d like to flesh out. So I tear it out of whatever work-related document I’m defacing and stuff it in my pocket. Point is, I tend to accumulate a bunch of terrible scratch paper with drawings that I love on them. Almost every early drawing in the big stack I took from my parents’ house is on notebook paper. More recent doodles from work are on the backs of engineering drawings, or sticky notes, or receipts.

These ladies are awesome; I want to tell their story so bad! Someday I totally will.

Doodle Location: Work notebook; drawn while waiting for a big Solidworks file to load.

So I’ve got all these drawings floating around in my life, and I rarely actually do anything with them. I have a lot of ideas, generally, for stories or more formal art pieces that never come to fruition, so this accumulation of scratch paper sort of mirrors the accumulation of “scratch ideas” in my brain. Only so many hours in a day, and I waste far too many of them.

She was so cute, seriously. She looked like a Pixar character.

Doodle Location: The back of a Which Wich receipt; our cashier was so uniquely adorable that I had to draw her immediately

One cool thing about my collection of doodles that I hadn’t thought about before today, is that I remember roughly where I was, what I was doing, and how I was feeling when I drew them. I guess they’re sort of like a diary that way. I know some people keep picture diaries for that reason, but I’ve never been able to get into the habit of carrying a sketchbook around with me. I guess my picture diary is just really disorganized.

Three pretty people

Doodle Location: Team meeting either right before or right after I gave two weeks’ notice at my first job; I was… pretty thoroughly checked out of this meeting

Maybe I’ll figure out some sort of system someday. Until then I’ll just keep finding strange things shoved into pockets and purses.

The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home is my favorite

Doodle Location: Work notebook; waiting for another big Solidworks file to load while listening to the Welcome to Nightvale podcast

Distinguished Motorcycle Gentleman

Ever have those days where you’re just not running on all cylinders? I don’t know what it was today but I just never fully woke for some reason. Spent all day on a super simple project at work because I kept doing stupid stuff and having to backtrack. Frustrating for me and also, I’m sure, for my boss who ambushed me with the project before I even sat down this morning and probably thought it would be done in a few hours. Long, long day.

All this to say, I’d planned on big ol’ narrative post about some Intense Kitchen Shenanigans that I got up to this weekend but it is just not gonna happen. Time to veg out and watch The Voice and work on my cross-stitch and maybe my brain will reboot.

WIP

In other news, on the way home I saw a man with a long beard riding a motorcycle wearing all-black and A TOP HAT. It somehow makes me feel better about life that this dude is ridin’ around, doing his thing. Ride on, Distinguished Motorcycle Gentleman. Ride on.

Ride into the sunset, your top hat silhouetted as you pass into unseen lands; gone, but not forgotten. Never forgotten.

Related note: what does a motorcycle look like? I obviously have no idea.

Internet Travel Guide: 03/14/2014

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
-Albert Einstein

Happy Pi Day! I hope you remembered to honor everyone’s favorite mathematical constant in the traditional way:


Source

Hey speaking of food (boom, segue), I  have discovered the absolute best way to eat raw cabbage (which is super good for you, surprisingly): Cabbage Salad with Goat Cheese. I used feta instead of goat cheese, and topped it with salmon & olives, and it was glorious. Husby even liked it, and he doesn’t like salmon or cabbage! Bonus: cabbage keeps in the fridge for like two weeks, unlike lettuce which seems to go nasty & slimy within a couple of days. I think this is a new staple in my packed-lunch lineup!

Cabbage Salad With Goat Cheese | Kitchen Stewardship

Pinterest Link:
Cabbage Salad With Goat Cheese | Kitchen Stewardship

If you ever took an Art History class, you are probably aware that medieval art was FULLY BONKERS. As in, the people creating this art either could not draw, or could not see, or (perhaps most likely) were under the influence of Ye Olde Shroomes. How did this style of art become standard? Who decided that perspective was a waste of time, and that toddlers definitely look like miniature full grown adult people? Probably these guys I guess.

The realism, it boggles the mind

That’s not to say contemporary art is any less insane, of course.

You see, over the years art has become less utilitarian, as photographs can now be used to merely capture the memory of a person or place. In the modern age, artists have the luxury of communicating complex ideas and feelings through their medium of choice. We’ve thusly replaced straightforward visual representations with more abstract symbolism, meant to  invoke an emotional response apart from simple aesthetic pleasure. For example, Designers at the Royal College of Art decided to go for the emotional response of “pants-sh*tting terror.”

Their installation art piece, called “Space Replay,” was released into public spaces, to hover around freely, record and play back ambient noise, follow people into elevators and – I assume – steal their eternal souls. Good show, chaps.

THE DARK ORB APPROACHETH. ALL KNEEL BEFORE THE DARK ORB. KNEEL AND DESPAIR.

THE DARK ORB APPROACHETH. ALL KNEEL BEFORE THE DARK ORB. KNEEL AND DESPAIR.
THE DARK ORB APPROACHETH. ALL KNEEL BEFORE THE DARK ORB. KNEEL AND DESPAIR.
THE DARK ORB APPROACHETH. ALL KNEEL BEFORE THE DARK ORB. KNEEL AND DESPAIR.
THE DARK ORB APPROACHETH. ALL KNEEL BEFORE THE DARK ORB. KNEEL AND DESPAIR.
THE DARK ORB APPR…

Whoa, hey, what the heck was that? Is… is my nose bleeding?

Art.

You Should Be Watching The Voice

Historically, I have not liked reality shows in general, nor have I liked singing competition shows specifically. HowEVER, Husby is a big fan of unscripted dreck so I’ve been exposed against my will. And folks, the Voice has forced its way into my Grinch-like little heart. I truly love it and you should be watching it. Here’s why!

Things I Like About The Voice:

  • Probably my favorite thing: coaches instead of judges. They’re invested in all of the contestants’ success , and they all seem to truly want to help baby artists begin their careers. Even artists who don’t make it onto the show usually get some useful feedback.
  • Similarly, Carson is a super charming host because he reeeeeally wants everybody to do well. He’s either sincerely rooting for every single person on the show, or he’s fantastic at faking it.

  • It seems like a really positive environment with none of the manufactured drama & infighting that goes on during most reality shows. To me, most shows are like, “hey let’s get a bunch of people who want to be famous and pit them against each other and see which one of them is good enough to survive,” but The Voice is like “hey let’s find super talented people and challenge them and find out which ones are the most amazing.” On Idol everybody always looks like they’re about to have a nervous breakdown and stab somebody because THEY MUST WIN. It makes me uncomfortable. But on The Voice, the win seems like a fun little afterthought that’s mostly a contest between the coaches… Like, the coaches tend to get competitive and trash-talk each other, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard that extend to the actual artists. The competitors themselves are very respectful and supportive of each other. Plus, everyone’s on a team, so it’s not Every Diva for Themselves. Once each team is narrowed down to a certain point, the contestants have basically “won” already; they’ve got a super influential mentor, they’re making tons of industry connections, a record deal is theirs to lose, and it’s mostly about honing their skills and building a fanbase to carry with them into a career after the show.  –  supportive rather than exploitative. I don’t know if this is editing or the actual culture of the show, but either way I love it.
  • Blake & Adam have an incredible bro-namic. Literally, they’re like two kid brothers in the backseat of a minivan and Adam won’t stop poking Blake and Carson is about to turn this car around but it’s usually very funny. The coaches all seem to like each other, and in my headcanon they are all best friends in real life and it is adorable.

  • The Voice tends to have a very high level of talent compared with Idol or especially AGT – I think they probably vet potential contestants before they’re allowed to audition. It’s usually people who have been performing professionally for a few years already but haven’t “made it” yet. I like this because they’re definitely dedicated to making music for a living, and usually know what direction they want to take their career. I think mentorship is most useful once you pass that threshold of experience where you know yourself as an artist. Of course, Husby prefers the Idol-style open auditions where you get kids who have never sung in front of people in their life and they improve dramatically over the course of the show, so this really comes down to personal preference.

 

Things I Don’t Like About The Voice

  • Blake & Adam have been on every season, but the other two coaches have alternated between Christina & CeeLo one year, and Shakira & Usher the next. I like a lot of things about this setup – good balance of consistency with variety. BUT, I would love a season with both CeeLo & Shakira, because they are my favorite temp judges! Christina & Usher are HUGE DIVAS.

  • On a similar note, if they go with completely different rotating judges on a future season, they definitely need to not do another blonde lady & black dude. Three sets would officially make it weird.

  • Sometimes Adam pokes big bro Blake a few too many times and it stops being cute and starts distracting from the show. Classic class clown behavior – I bet he was a terror as a child. Seems to be getting worse with each season so maybe they’ll reign him in eventually. Or tie him to his chair.

Seriously, even if you hate reality shows give The Voice a shot. Pleasant, not stressful, and a lot of great music. This season’s auditions just ended this week so you can jump right into the battle rounds without missing too much, if you’re convinced. Let me know who you think will win! I think I’m gunning for Team Shakira this year.