2016 Half-Assed Resolutions

resolutionsI did a great job getting my 2015 half-assed resolutions accomplished. I made Peace. I incorporated a dance party into my evening de-stress routine, so I’ve been having a lot more of them. And I got rid of stuff. Not as much stuff as I wanted to, but I still got rid of many things.

Oh, I also had a good time and didn’t get dead, as usual.

So, now it’s time for me to make my half-assed resolutions for 2016.

 

  1. Don’t get dead.
  2. Have a good time.
  3. Watch more Netflix. I put stuff on my list that I mean to watch and then I never get around to watching it and I really need to be better about that. I have to stop being so behind on my documentaries and I have to be more willing to watch something new and risk not liking it. I can turn it off. That’s allowed.
  4. Clean out my sewing drawer. It’s…it’s…it’s in dire need of cleaning out. That’s all I can say.
  5. Master mermaid pose. This is a yoga pose that I’ve been slowly, very slowly, working on and I think that this is the year I’ll be able to arrange my fat in such away that I don’t tear anything while I do it.

Go team 2016!

peace

Getting the Grinchmas Spirit

Grinchmas 2015

I’ve had a really hard time getting into the Grinchmas spirit this year. I haven’t been particularly inspired when it came to making Grinchmas gifts and I haven’t been very willing to listen to Christmas music. I was even late getting my Grinchmas tree up.

But!

The Grinchmas tree is up. The gifts are made and wrapped and ready to be given. I’ve watched The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’ve heard a few of my favorite Christmas Carols.

I’m ready for my heart to grow three sizes.

Rob Whoville!

2015 Holiday Gift Suggestions

Milwaukee Christmas treeIt’s Black Friday, when folks trample each other to buy price-reduced manufactured goods so they can give them to family and friends to prove just how much they love and appreciate them. As much fun as that is (and as someone who has worked retail off and on for years and got to watch two ladies nearly come to blows over a scooter, I know my good times), not everyone is hip to getting their friends and family the same gift everyone else is giving to their favorite humans.

Well, that’s why I am here. To point you in the direction of some really nifty finds that you won’t find in all of those fliers and on the shelves of your local big box store.

Obviously, you should totally buy all of my books and give them to all of your friends. But if you don’t want people to get suspicious that you’re not putting any thought into your gifts (but you really would be; I’d vouch for you), you should also check out these authors: Shanna Hammaker, Brandon Ford, Jeremy C. Shipp, Shonell Bacon, and Johi Jenkins. Horror, memoir, mystery, fantasy, paranormal romance, young adult…you’re bound to find something for someone or many somethings for many someones.

If you know an aspiring writer (or anyone that uses a writing instrument, really), perhaps check out Roweville Retro and get them a one-of-kind pen, pencil, or stylus. You can even get a custom made creation. Get them that present that other people will be trying to steal from them for years to come.

Speaking of writing, how about encouraging the people you really do like to keep in touch with some spiffy postcards? This is what happens when I keep taking and drawing pictures with no set purpose in mind. I have to find something to do with them and what better use than to remind people that dropping a picture card in the mail and sending it to a friend is still a fun surprise.

But, if you’re looking for better art (and you probably should be), then check out Hannah McFaddon Art. Hannah McFaddon is an amazing artist and now she’s got a whole line of prints available, too. Tea-Rex! Are you kidding me? Absolutely adorable! And guaranteed to be something that a loved one is going to adore and hang proudly on their wall.

So go! Shop! Buy things that people didn’t know they needed and will love to get!

 

**Yes, I am once again promoting my friends and acquaintances (and myself) for the holidays because I like them, I like what they’re doing, and I think they deserve some spotlight. Go team!

By Request: A Few Favorite Vegetarian Dishes

donut dietI mentioned in yesterday’s post that I make some vegetarian dishes and the lovely Hannah asked what my favorite recipes were, so I figured I’d post them for posterity.

Just a few notes about these: A few of them came from the Written in Our Hearts cookbook, which is a great vegetarian/vegan collection of recipes (as well as photos, stories, and memories) published in honor of Davy Jones with the proceeds going to The Davy Jones Equine Memorial Foundation, however I’ve tweaked them due to the demands of the people I cook for and my own need to fuss with things. If you want to see the original, untouched versions of the recipes or if you want even more vegetarian/vegan recipes for your kitchen, I really encourage you to buy the cookbook. Yummy food and a good cause. Everybody wins.

Second, I like to cook because cooking doesn’t require exact measurements. Some of the measurements on these recipes are approximates.

And finally, everything here is easy because I’m lazy. I don’t like intricate, labor-intensive recipes. I’m not that kind of girl.

Veggie Penne

This is my own creation and it’s super easy. Cook a box of penne pasta and drain it. Add a little olive oil. Mix in some steamed veggies (I love the Eat Smart vegetable medley; steam in the bag in the microwave, fresh and tasty), add some shredded Parmesan and you’re done.

Mac and Cheese

People don’t think about mac and cheese being vegetarian because people don’t think about it being healthy, but it’s definitely one of those things that can be less garbage food if you make it yourself instead of getting it out of a box.

I use this mac and cheese recipe to make my cheese sauce. For a traditional flavor, I use finely shredded cheddar jack (I’m not shredding my own, kids). For something with a little more class, I use finely shredded mozzarella and substitute garlic powder for the mustard powder. Stir in a little broccoli along with the pasta and it’s mac and cheese all grown up. It might take a time or two to get the hang of the cheese sauce (it can end up a little gritty if you don’t get it right, but it still tastes fine), but it’s worth it.

Veggie Fritattafrittata

This is my take on Micky’s Veggie Fritatta in the Written in Our Hearts cookbook.

2T olive oil–2 small potatoes, diced–1/4 cup chopped onion–1/2 cup red pepper, chopped–1/2 cup diced tomato–1/2 cup diced zucchini–6 eggs–2T of milk–1/2 cup shredded mozzarella–1/2 cup shredded triple cheddar–basil–salt

Preheat the oven to 350. Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add potato, onion, red pepper, and zucchini. Season with a pinch or two of salt. Cook 5-7 minutes. Transfer to non-stick baking pan and stir in the tomatoes. Whisk eggs and milk together; pour evenly over dish. Scatter cheese over the top. Bake 20 to 25 minutes (depending on your oven) until set in the middle. Garnish with a pinch or two of basil.

Sauteed Zucchini

I really love zucchini and the easiest way for me to make it is to slice it up and cook it in a little olive oil over medium heat. Season it with a little salt (I prefer sea salt, but that’s just me) and it makes a great side dish. I like to serve it and brown rice with the next recipe.

Mozzarella Salad Sandwich

Another hit from the cookbook.

1/2lb mozzarella–sun dried tomatoes–rolls–4t white vinegar–1/4 cup olive oil–1/4t salt–1/8t pepper

Cut the cheese into thin slices and put in a bowl. Add the tomatoes to the cheese (julian them if necessary; I buy them that way). Shake vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small jar until salt dissolves. Add olive oil. Shake again. Add dressing to cheese and tomatoes and toss. Fill rolls with the cheese salad. The longer it sits, the better it is.

Rotini Salad

This is actually Tortellini Salad in the cookbook, but when I first made it, there was no tortellini on the shelf and I bought rotini instead. And I use sweet onion as that much raw yellow onion kills my GERD. I also downsized most of the measurements here because otherwise it was way too much. Still good, though.

1 box tri-color rotini–4-6 oz of monterey jack cheese, diced small–1 large tomato, chopped–1/4 of an onion, chopped–1/4 red pepper, chopped–1T olive oil–parsley, garlic powder, basil, oregano to taste

Cook and cool pasta. Toss everything together. Chill thoroughly before serving. If you need a place to start with the seasonings, I probably use about a tablespoon of garlic powder and oregano, and half a tablespoon of parsley and basil. Remember, though, it’s easier to add seasoning than to take it out.

veggie scrambleVeggie Scramble

This is my new favorite lunch option after we’ve had rotini salad. It seems like when the rotini is gone, there’s still bits of onions, peppers, and tomatoes left over and I don’t want it to go to waste. So I throw a peeled, chopped small potato in a pan over medium heat with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Cook it for a couple of minutes, then add the onions, peppers, and tomatoes (with all of the salad seasoning still stuck on them, no additional seasoning required). Cook that for five or six minutes. Then I beat two or three eggs with a splash of milk, pour it over the top, and let it cook for a minute or two before giving the whole pan a good scramble. With an English muffin, it’s breakfast for lunch and I couldn’t be happier.

The Many Hair Colors of Kiki

You saw my many faces, now you get to see my many colors.

In my early 20’s, I decided to break out of the norm and go wild. I needed to express myself and I did it through altering my appearance. I wore a lot of heavy make-up, mostly purple as it’s one of my favorite colors. Purple eyeshadow and purple lipstick were the norm (away from work; I didn’t wear make-up there). Black eye liner and black mascara. Sometimes I’d do glitter designs on my face. Before it was all done, I’d had my eyebrows pierced five times, including three times on the left side (the other two done on my right were done at two separate times because the first one ripped out) and had my nipple pierced (I’ve got a fun story about that, too, but some other time).

And then there was my hair. It was long then and I did a lot of things to it. I’d braid it in pig tails, braid it in tiny little braids and then put ribbons on the end, fashion spiky buns, give myself what one lady called “turkey feathers”, but mostly I wore it in a pony tail.

I was about 20 when I started coloring it. I eased into it, having a professional do it first, then I became the professional. I got really good at coloring my hair myself, bleaching it and then dying it with Manic Panic. I used gloves and a brush and ruined a couple of shirts and a bathroom rug. Sometimes my tub would be blue or purple or red for days. I dyed my friends’ hair. I became the go-t0 hair dye expert.

I worked at Wal-Mart at the time. A lot of customers would come in to see what color my hair was that day (I changed it every six weeks to two months). Only a few times did I get a negative comment. When our HR lady complained, my district manager gave me special permission to keep my hair any color I wanted. I don’t know if it was because I was good at my job or what, but I appreciated it.

Once I quite my job at Wal-Mart, the hair had to go back to normal so I could get a new job. I dyed it burgandy for a few months while I found and got a new job. Then I colored it with the goal of getting it back to my natural hair color. I’d wrecked my hair bad with all of the dying and bleaching and coloring and I wanted a break. That was over ten years ago. I haven’t colored my hair since.

So here are some (not all!) of my hair colors over that time period.

To get a feel for where I was and where I ended, this was my hair before I colored it. My natural color now is actually much darker and I love it.

This was my first color combo: black, purple, and blonde. The blonde and purple hues are very subtle as I had this professionally done and she didn’t get too wild.

I think this was my first go on my own. I ended up with blue, green, and black. Note the purple make-up and the glitter tears. I wasn’t kidding when I said I did that.

Red and black. I loved this combo. I also loved to wear my hair like this. And yes, I did wear this outfit out of my house to places like the mall and the movies. I still have the dress and the jacket.

I bleached my hair A LOT in between dying so the color would take better. I was never blonde for long, though, because I HATED being blonde. The longest I was ever blonde was a week and that’s because I had to have my hair a natural color because I was working at another store. Also, that’s my first rat I’m smooching, Zero. I’ve had a total of five of them.

This is what happens when you want to dye your hair, but don’t have enough dye to do one color. I used the leftovers. Not one of my favorite looks. It didn’t last long. You can also get a sense of how large my chest was. Pictures never really did it justice, though.

I loved the effect of this color combo with the blond bangs. It was really cool. But you can see the damage starting to take its toll on my hair.

Blue and purple. Another combo effect that I really liked with the blue bangs in contrast with the rest of my hair being purple.

My last wild color combo ever: pink, orange, and blonde. One of my co-workers called it Tequila Sunrise.

Hair colors not pictured: Purple and black; orange and yellow; pink and purple; blue and blonde.

I’m not going to lie when I saw I miss some of these hair colors and there are days when I wish I could dye my hair purple or red and black again. But looking back on that time I realize part of the reason why I did it. I was trying to find a way to be pretty. I knew then, with my wide ass and my huge, non-perky boobs and my extra weight that I had no chance to be conventionally pretty. But I still wanted to be pretty. So I made a different way to be pretty.

People have said that I did it for attention and you know, maybe I did a little. But my main goal was I wanted to be pretty, to feel pretty. I couldn’t compete with the little blonde things that men always drool over, but when my hair was green and my eyebrow was pierced, they couldn’t compete with me. I owned that look like they never could.

I was pretty on my own terms.

And I still am.

Rerun Junkie– Cannon

My love of 70’s cop/detective shows is legend, but it wasn’t until my house acquired MeTV that I discovered the brilliance that is Cannon.

The opening features a lot of circles I’m assuming to be cannon balls.

Cannon stars William Conrad as private detective Frank Cannon, a former police detective that retired from the force after his wife and son were killed in a car accident, which wasn’t fully dealt with until the final season of the show, which ran five years. The opening features theme music, lots of colored dots and circle cropped pictures, and finally a voice over that tells you you’re watching Cannon starring William Conrad. It then goes on to list the guest stars and the title of the episode. I have no idea why, but I find this neat.

Anyway, the episodes are pretty much the same in the since that Cannon gets hired on a case or stumbles into a plot or is otherwise drawn into helping the needy and defeating the forces of evil, usually with karate chops. Really. The man used more karate chops than Bruce Lee.

Cannon took quite a bit of abuse in the course of his investigations. He’d get beaten, shot, hurt in car accidents. I don’t know how many shirts he ruined from blood due to head wounds. Or the blood of others. He engaged in quite a few fights and was rather agile for a big man.

Not your typical action hero.

Oh, yeah. When most people picture a hero, he’s not usually as wide as he is tall, but Cannon broke that stereotype. There were still plenty of fat jokes to go around, though, if not by others then little self-deprecating quips about himself. But to be fair, Cannon had to be big. He was a big personality that liked big things. Big cars. Big meals. Big paydays.

Guest stars on the show were a fun parade of all things 70’s, either people on the way out or on the way up. Clu Gulager, William Daniels, Willie Aames, Nick Nolte, Robert Loggia, Martin Sheen, Tina Louise, Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul before they were Starksy and Hutch, Micky Dolenz, Joan Van Ark, Leslie Nielsen, Harold Gould, Shelley Duvall, Mike Farrell and Wayne Rogers before M*A*S*H, Lee Meriweather, Robert Hays, and Tom Skerritt all put in some face time on Cannon.

Oh, do you like Barnaby Jones? Thank Cannon. It’s a spin-off. Don’t know what Barnaby Jones is? It’s the show that helped people think of Buddy Ebsen as someone other than Jed Clampett. Maybe we’ll discuss it another day.

I admit that sometimes the show is a little unbelievable sometimes (KARATE CHOP), but Cannon is a fun character. He can be very serious, almost menacing at times. But with the people he likes, he’s quite funny and has a great smile.

Those end scene freeze frames at the end of a show were made for those chubby cheeks.

 

Where I Watch It

Rerun Junkie– Perry Mason

The opening strains of the theme song are immediately recognizable even if you’ve never seen an episode of the show. And if you haven’t, you should. Perry Mason is classic TV, quite literally. The show ran for nine seasons, starting in 1957.

The show centered around title character Perry Mason (Raymond Burr), defense attorney, his always dependable assistant Della Street (Barbara Hale), and private detective Paul Drake (William Hopper). The law side of things was often represented by state’s attorney Hamilton Burger (William Talman), Lt. Tragg (Ray Collins), and Lt. Anderson (Wesley Lau).

Our heroes in classic black and white.

Each episode revolved around an innocent person being accused of a crime they didn’t commit. Perry would take their case and with the help of Della and Paul, he’d prove their innocence, usually in dramatic courtroom fashion.

Most of the cases involved a murder and some of them were quite over the top. Several faked deaths and lots of rich people doing horrible things. And Perry seemed to know a whole lot of people quite conveniently. It was how he got involved and/or how he solved the case.

With so many suspects, bad guys, and innocents, there was plenty of opportunity for guest stars. Bette Davis, Jerry Van Dyke, Alan Hale, Keye Luke, Adam West, Lee Merriweather, Victor Buono, James Hong, Denver Pyle, David McCallum, Jackie Coogan, Elisha Cook Jr, Gavin McCleod, Gary Collins, Louise Fletcher, James Best, and James Coburn all made appearances. Don’t recognize some of the names? Look them up. Most of them guested on the show before they landed the roles that you might know them from.

No matter the guest star or the storyline, Perry always came out on top. It made you almost feel bad for Hamilton Burger. I’d like to think that he won every case that didn’t feature Perry Mason on the defense.

Watching the episodes now, the black and white isn’t the only sign that it’s an old show. Back in the late 50’s/early 60’s people smoked freely, could easily board planes, were restricted by landlines, still sent telegrams, had to research by going through papers and files by hand, and social security numbers, birth certificates, and adoption records were more easily forged. There’s at least one thing (usually more) in each episode that could not be done today. Times have definitely changed and it’s fun to compare while trying to solve the case.

And that’s where you can find me most afternoons. Helping Perry, Della, and Paul solve a murder.

 

Where I Watch It