Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Secret Crock Pot

As I've mentioned recently, I've been doing a little "labeling" around Blonde Story Short.  The funnest part about it (funnest not being a real word) is being reminded of what life was like up to six years ago and seeing the patterns throughout my stories.  One label that I couldn't help but create was titled "WHY?"

The WHY? posts typically centered around something ridiculous...spilling coffee directly onto the boobs on my way to tutor junior high boys, falling in the middle of a "dance circle" (while doing the "shopping cart"), things of that nature...feel free to check out the 12ish posts labeled WHY?  I have no idea how you do that, but I'm sure Blog spot has a tool for it.

Today, as I prepped my 10am morning snack, I like structure okay?, I asked myself this very broad question.  I cut up a half banana and already sliced apples (into now cubed apples) and wondered WHY eating these two half fruits together on a plate with a fork, made this snack taste better and feel even healthier. Hmmm.  Because I'm crazy.  That's why. My clever coworker asked if I cut that up for her 3-year old.

If doing something a little adolescent to your food makes you happy (and healthy), I say go for it.

The not-sliced-enough apples were in the mini gladware shown and the other
half of that banana is in a medium sized gladware in our staff refrigerator. Note: husbands
don't like half-bananas in the fridge at home.
Also pictured: Tall Iced Americano in a Grande cup
with extra ice and room for non-fat milk and 1/2 a packet of Raw Sugar.
I don't smoke cigarettes but I imagine the satisfaction of a couple puffs
pars 2-3 sips of espresso. It's go time.

Sometimes a good WHY? labeled post can overlap quite nicely with a "Tangent" post. Back in the day when blogging meant a school issued Netbook on my lap in the back of my Special Ed kids' Science class, I posted some pretty consistent "Tangent Tuesdays." Liking structure isn't a new thing for me.  Today the two definitely overlap.  The theme of this tangent...


Last night I had the honor of hosting a little dinner party with my gals. We celebrated one gal in particular and in respect of her humble approach to life, I won't mention her name and all the details (How are we friends? Kidding).  Although it was Presidents' Day, I still had to go into the office. Since I'm being thankful right now I won't go into how badly I wished I had the day off like everyone else in Education world. I definitely could have used one more night in the beautiful Glorietta Bay, eating barbecued chicken, grilled asparagus and macaroni & cheese (we call it Romantic Boat food). Neither here nor there. Being at work all day meant only one thing in regards to the evening's event:  Slow cooking dinner in a crock pot...in the graduate student lounge/kitchen.

Except for checking on my creation every couple of hours (and telling the girls in the lunch room about it) no one knew a thing- except the 3rd floor cleaning lady.  Good thing we're cool. I've included the recipe below. Don't say I didn't warn you I had a tangent.

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers:
Wash, seed and cut the top off of each pepper Get to work at 7am for this part
Fill peppers with doctored up rice and onion . You didn't think I'd prep at home did you?Sprinkle cheddar shred in the middle of the rice and on top This will need to brought to work in a mini gladware
Pour a little marinara on top and finish with more cheddar Homemade marinara is a new skill that makes me feel like I'm good at being a wife. My Sort-of-Recipe below.
Pour a little water in the bottom of the crock *My grandmother's crockpot is pictured, I always imagine a pot roast in there. That wasn't going to work for Monday night's crowd...some other time.
"Crock" on Low for 6 hours.  Then carry it down to the car at 5:00. I turned it back on when I got home for another two hours. You gotta give talking over wine and cheese the time it deserves!
Heat up remaining marinara and spread on a plate, place pepper on top, adding mixture of black beans and corn over the top and sides.
Cover with more marinara and grated fresh mozzarella. Doing this lastly, and with a handheld grater makes you look cool.  
Make sure you have your awesome friends bring over the bread, salad and 2nd (or 3rd?) bottle of wine.

Marinara: 2 Tbsp of Regular Tomato Paste, 1 Tbsp of Garlic Tomato Paste and water 
until the consistency is what you want.  It'll thicken as you stir over low heat.
Add all kinds of the following to taste- I don't do measurements of these things:
onion powder, garlic salt, cayenne, italian seasoning, oregano, black pepper, 
just enough sugar to cut down on tomatoey-ness. I don't consider myself a "cook" because I say "tomatoeyness."
*I made this batch rather spicy because this was a vegetarian dish and I didn't have the option of seasoning meat. Typically I would use ground turkey.

ALL THAT to say, if I worked somewhere weird, I'd probably get into some kind of trouble for taking over the kitchen, plugging in the old crock and goin to town. 

I'm thankful. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Valentine's Day

I'm really torn about where to go on this one.

HAPPY, CRAFTY Valentine's post? 

Super cute FREE Valentine Printables and Heart Candy Jar Tutorial at the36thavenue.com Pin it now and make them later! #valentines
I DIDN'T MAKE HEART SHAPED pancakes either Valentine's post?

Let's just see where we end up.

There is so much one could do to celebrate Valentine's Day, every other holiday, milestones, friendships, pretty much anything... One word sufficiently explains exactly what I'm talking about- Pinterest.  

I dare you to go on Pinterest, especially around a holiday, and not end up feeling like a total shmuck when you eventually "X" out of the page. I'm sort of kidding, but not really.  I usually start off totally pumped and pretending that I have time to go to "Michael's" for project materials. Is that where people go for project materials?  I honestly have NO idea. 
Please don't misunderstand my opinion of Pinterest.  I literally go on every other day and love it. I use it mostly for inspiration since I likely won't do exactly what it says, for example if I don't already have twine at home, a twine substitution will be made. I'm SO down with Pinterest, but, like anything, perspective is key...and not feeling too shmucky is also imperative.

I've been carrying around a mason jar, pink ribbon and scraps of old cards for about a week now (these things don't hang out in my purse or anything, I have a Hawaiian Trader Joes bag for them). My current To-Do's include a Valentine's Day care package for College kid, a sweet gift for High School kid, and something small yet creative for work friends. Luckily husband isn't a real craft enthusiast so not a lot of pressure there. Of course I had hopes of doing something ultra cute with my re-gifted mason jar *When I received it, it had every ingredient needed for a vat of vegetarian chilli, obviously. The millions of creative minds on Pinterest tell me that a mason jar styled Valentines gift would be just right! All I need is some material, new ribbon (mine's not checkered or striped), some kind of paint?, and a clever printable. If I did do something with this jar, it would be as easy as filling it up with on-sale candy and tying on a reused ribbon, Ta Daaaa! I pride myself, perhaps inappropriately, on coming up with inexpensive and resourceful ideas for gifts and even cards. In the interest of keeping some perspective, I think to myself:

-College kid's package is being sent, not paying extra to ship something "fragile."
-High School kid doesn't care about what the candy comes in.  Just give her the candy.  Also, she doesn't like M & M's. 
-I don't have material lying around and don't really want to figure out how to paint that (amazing) heart on the jar.
-There's no way I'm giving that jar to someone outside of my immediate family.  That would mean there's NO chance of the jar being used again and...it's not even Christmas! A simple valentine for everyone else should be sufficient.

What college kid really wants....is exactly what I mailed her this afternoon.  It was NOT Pinterest-worthy, but I know she'll love it.
Body wash, her favorite candy that was ALREADY in the shape of a heart,
a new pink tank, a girly CD, a Valentine's kitchen towel
and a store bought card from her fam. Credits to Postal
Annex in Mission Valley for the hip envelope.

Work friends love me and I love them. We literally write each other emails that say "I love us." Ridiculous. They will be just fine with a printed out "printable" attached to an Almond Roca (so good and .99 at Vons). Having a color printer and a decent paper cutter available on your "Morning 15" is quite nice.

I know what you're thinking, Man does she have her finger on the pulse or what?  "Woodland" is so IN. I actually have a very IN friend who themed her son's nursery "woodland." He's almost 2 now.  Keeping it current over here. 

For those of you that aren't preoccupied with mediocre crafts, perhaps the pressure you are feeling is related to your LOVE life instead. You're married and feeling like you have to do something elaborate and therefore expensive, you're not married/in a relationship and think if you were you would be doing something elaborate and therefore expensive, whatever the case may be, it's just another day. I've spent many a February 14th's at home, without a "valentine" and to be quite honest, I don't really remember the ones with a valentine much more.  They're all sort of a big pink fog. Long story short, enjoy the day like you would any other Friday- looking forward to 5:00 and a glass of wine. 

Happy Valentine's Day...and just do what you can!