Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Burn Barrel Romance

Scott is an early-to-bed-early-to-rise person out of necessity. He has a very physical job and while he isn’t old, he isn’t young anymore either (neither am I for that matter, being a year older than he is). By eight o’clock most nights he is in jammies and ready for bed. So when we came home after Cyra’s concert last week and Scott put his yard work clothes back on I was more than surprised.

“What are you up to,” I asked him as he slipped he shoes on.

“I’m going go burn things and drink a beer…or maybe two. Want to join me?”

“Sure. Sounds fun.”

There’s something about sitting in front of a fire with Scott that makes my insides woozy. Normally when we sit around in front of a fire it’s when we are off camping and marshmallows are involved. Not romantic, per se, but nice enough. And making a big fire in the burn barrel, while it might not involve s’mores, is fun nevertheless.

The moon and stars peeked through a mostly overcast sky and I dragged our two Adirondack chairs into the yard while Scott began building the fire. By the time I brought our drinks out – a nice IPA for Scott and a good cup of Earl Grey for me (ironically although the selling and drinking of beer is our main source of income, I don’t particularly care for the taste) Scott had a good size blaze going.

We turned off the flood lights and sat in the glow of the barrel, quietly sipping our drinks. Cyra, her bundle of nerves exhausted from the concert, had collapsed into bed soon after we arrived home and Ashleigh was glued to the internet, giggling over The Meta Picture and fan-girling to manga. The neighborhood was quiet except for the billions of frogs in the pond out front and the occasionally barking of a dog.

I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow Scott and I ended up having a date night: out of the house, in front of a roaring fire, sharing a drink, and no kids around? Sounds like a date to me. So what that it was in the backyard and mosquitoes the size of Cessnas buzzed around us despite the heavy dose of bug spray and citronella candles.

And somehow, magically, we ended up breaking one of our cardinal rules: never, ever, talk religion or politics.

Our views are so vastly different that we don’t even try to come to a common ground anymore. We just accept that we will never see eye to eye on certain things and so those subjects are not permitted. But on this magical, burn barrel date we talked religion. And, even more surprising, it didn’t end in a fight.

I must be maturing.

I don't know exactly how the subject came up, but it all came down to the way we met. Scott claims fate: some force led us to make the choices that led us to meet – he draws the line at calling predestination (even though it certainly sounded like that to me) claiming that just because we were fated to meet didn’t mean, necessarily, that we were fated to be together.

It reminded me of my days back at Flagler when I took a Milton class (you know, Paradise Lost, that guy). Oh the debates that I demanded we have in class (remember, Sara?) all the arguments I brought up about free will versus predestination to the point where the professor had to tell me to give it a rest.

But I couldn’t. It bugs me even today. If the god you believe in is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving then you cannot have free will because he already knows what you are going to do and you can’t prove an omnipotent being false so therefore you have no choice but to do what has already been seen. That, my friends, is predestination.


I’m breaking my no religion, no politics rule here too! Yikes!

Back to the story! My argument is that if we were destined to meet, then all of our choices along the way are trivialized because it wouldn’t matter what choice we made, we’d still have ended up meeting. Scott argues that my view only works if our meeting is the be all end all of those choices. It got more convoluted as the evening wore on. We teased and laughed, joked and smiled. There may have been some kissing too - but I don't kiss and tell!

Regardless of the conversation, I am more than happy with the choices that led me to Scott. Whether it was predestination, fate handing us a road map, or just simple coincidence, without Scott I wouldn't have my girls, my BFF Sara, or a million wonderful memories and moments with a man I can't imagine my life without.

And that, my Friends, I wouldn't change for the world!

Monday, May 20, 2013

I Made It Monday (Or We Now Return To Our Regularly Scheduled Program)

For those of you who have recently joined my legion of had been doing a regular Monday post called, "I Made It Monday." I'm a crafter and a professional chef (at least in my mind and according to my kids) but that isn't the only thing I am. That being the case, I do like to occasionally display with pride my creations. Most people refer to this as bragging and I do that too. But I'm totally modest about it.

Before I show off my accomplishments for the week, let's talk for a second or two about Pinterest. How many of you have a Pinterest account? I bet it's a bunch. Pinterest is the coolest thing since hot glue. Would it astound you to know that I do not have a Pinterest account? Well I don't because I already spend too much time lurking about on the internet wasting time that I should be spending in productive activity.

But every once and a while, I'll scroll through the Pinterest front page just taking a gander at what's there. I mean I am a crafter and a would-be chef so I should always look to expand my horizons and talent, right? The only problem is that each time I visit Pinterest I find myself feeling more and more inadequate. Interestingly enough, I am not alone in this feeling. A recent news article talks about how moms are feeling stressed out by the amazing things they see on Pinterest and like me feel bad about how perfect everyone else's life seems.

So last week I was perusing Pinterest and low and behold I found two recipes that looked really fantastic. The first was for a zesty shrimp and avocado salad and the second for something called "magic cake."

Now I won't print the recipes here because of copyright and all that but I think this is the original site for the salad. With the salad I was a bit hesitant to try it because it called for a bunch of things that I just don't like all that much like red onion and cilantro. And to be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of avocado but I have had it and enjoyed it in sushi and on a sandwich. But the photo looked so amazing and I really love lime and I'm on a low carb diet (which is working nicely, thank you) and this salad seemed just the thing to change up what I had been eating.

Not pictured: the avocado lurking just beneath the cucumbers.
So I replaced the onion with cucumber and the jalapeno with bell pepper (in the hopes the kids would be more willing to try it) and left out the cilantro. Looks pretty, right?

I hated it. It made me want to puke. I brought a small one cup serving with me to work the other night and as I ate it, I hated it more and more. I didn't even finish half of it. I'm not sure why. Maybe all of the replacements I made turned it into a disaster, but all of the ingredients separately I like just fine. Together? UGH!

After that fiasco I was really, really nervous to try the magic cake. Magic cake is all over Pinterest like glitter and there are so many rave reviews about it. What could be the harm here? A cake that magically separates into three different layers as it cooks, sounds pretty neat to me. I got the recipe from JoCooks but you can Google it and about 14 quadrillion recipes for it will pop up. It was a simple recipe with ingredients that I had - so no special trip to the store on a non-shopping day - and it looked pretty sprinkled with powdered sugar.

First of all the batter is so thin it might as well be instant pudding. As I was mixing it during the last stage, it started separating in the bowl and there were chunky bits floating around. I had my doubts, let me tell you. But I was making it for my gaming group and only had an hour before they arrived, so I knew it was too late to bail on a new recipe in favor for a more familiar one.

I wish I had taken photos of the process, because it was a seriously creepy batter. It smelled good as it was baking and when I took it out, it looked...done.

From this angle it's hard to tell, but it did indeed separate into three layers: a bottom rubbery crust, a middle custardy filling, and top cake-like consistency. Instead of just powdered sugar I opted to dust it with a bit of cocoa powder which actually helped cut down the intense sweetness of it. The guys liked it and honestly, it wasn't a bad cake it just wasn't magical enough for me, it was just kind of...meh. I will say though, that on a second try, after it had sat in the fridge overnight and didn't have anything sprinkled on it, I liked it a bit better. I think it would benefit from a sauce and more vanilla.

One of the guys suggested a sprinkle of vanilla sugar and I would have to agree that vanilla sugar would make a nice addition to the cake and to my kitchen!

In fact, I be there's a recipe on Pinterest somewhere for it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Frustrated is an Understatement

I wish this was a sexy post. Something sweet about me and Scott. But I'm not talking about that kind of frustration. I'm not even talking about computer frustration (which, on a side note, has all been taken care of at a very minimal cost). So you might be saying to yourself: Crap, she's gonna post a ranty post.

And you'd be right. I am. I am full of rant. 


How come that isn't a word yet?

Cyra, my 10 year old, had an amazing opportunity this year to learn how to play the violin. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it or not, but for a one time ten dollar materials fee, her school provided her with a student violin and weekly lessons. Seriously awesome. So awesome in fact that she not only wants to continue to play, but wants to "upgrade" to the cello, ASAP!

Last night was her first official concert - although really it wasn't "her" concert, it was the local middle school's spring concert that Cyra and her violin class were invited to perform at. She was excited, nervous, fidgety, and anxious. She did marvelously. 

She is not my rant.

The violin group was scheduled to play first followed by the beginner band and then the advanced band. The middle school bands were great. I didn't know a single kid on that stage and I was crazy proud of them. To get up in front of your family, friends, and peers and perform is one of the hardest things to do as a kid - I know, I was in choir! Kids know how judgmental people can be. They know that being in the band is often considered geeky and uncool. And they do it anyway because they love it.

The band is not my rant. They were amazing and it was clear that the band instructor did a fantastic job with these kids.

My rant? The audience!

Throughout the entire performance the audience: parents, grandparents, and siblings, were amazingly rude and inconsiderate twats!

I will never say that another person's parenting style is wrong, but what the Hell is wrong with parents who let their children run up and down the aisle, talk - loudly - though a performance, scream, and play with electronics - in my row alone there were three kids each with an ereader/tablet/smart phone playing games with the flipping sound on!

The woman in front of me actively encouraged her daughter to talk during the selections, leaning over and talking to her. The mother and grandmother behind me made no effort to keep another little girl in her seat and quiet.

And Friends, I am not talking toddlers or babies. These children were at least five and older. During the intermission, Ashleigh leaned over to me and whispered, "I am so glad you raised me properly."

My girls weren't angels. I will never, ever make that claim. But they knew from a very early age my expectations for behavior when we were out. And if they didn't behave? Guess what. We left so as not to disturb those around us. End of story.It only took once or twice for the lesson to sink in and they realized that behaving meant getting to see a movie in the movie theater, getting to go to a concert or a play, getting to go out to dinner.

But then again, how can you blame the child when the parents were just as bad? Talking, texting, answering their phones, getting up in the middle of a selection and leaving the auditorium, door slamming behind them. 

Remember folks, the kids we were watching at that point we not even mine and I was furious for them. Your child is performing so you'll update your facebook or tweet about it that bloody second?


Maybe this makes me old. Or old-fashioned. Or anti-technology. Or maybe, like every generation before me, I will find something that bothers me about the new generation and complain about it. 

But here's where I draw my line in the sand:

Manners Matter. Being polite matters. Engaging with people face to face matters. Giving your full attention to what is before you matters. Teaching our children manners and demanding that they use their manners, that isn't a parenting lifestyle choice. That's just plain common sense.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Plight of the Computerless (UPDATED)

Remember that time a few weeks ago when I said I'd keep blogging because I wasn't burnt out or anything like that after the A to Z challenge?

Yeah. I didn't lie, but all of a sudden I became slightly more computerless than I was before. You know back when I had a computer to use and all.

Long story short, I finally got around to installing the new cd/dvd drive my sister got me for Christmas (yes, it took me nearly five months to do it. I'm lazy, remember?) and wouldn't you know it, that even though it only took me about ten minutes to install, I apparently screwed up something somewhere, because the second I turned it on, I got the blue screen of death.


So off to the Computer ER I rushed with my ancient tower. And, well...I confiscated my daughter's laptop in the meantime, but I'm taking this time to go a little unplugged. It's nice. And some projects around the house are actually getting done. Amazing what one can accomplish without the Internet to entertain me!

Hopefully, the computer techs will be able to fix whatever I screwed up and I'll be up and running again sometime next week. Until then, My Friends, I'll be putzing around the house and garden - have I mentioned my garden yet? No? Well, just wait!



Seriously, folks, I got my computer back and they techs were all like..."Um it's $40 bucks and we couldn't find anything wrong anywhere. We had it running all day. No blue screen. No weird noises. Nothing."

Okey Dokey.

So , YAY! Computer! Although they did mention that it was a rather old computer. Old? It's barely five...but I guess in computer years that's about 4,724 years old. Guess that will need to get budgeted in sooner or later.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Plumb Tuckered Out

April, much like November and NaNoWriMo, is tiring. Different reasons for being tiring, but tiring nonetheless. NaNo is a hectic and fast paced but it's a me against me thing. April brings a different level to the writing. It's me writing, but also making the rounds, reading, commenting, responding. More giving of my time to outside influences, maybe.

And that's a good thing. NaNo is all about removing myself from reality and focusing on my novels. Blogging A to Z is all about making connections. And really, who doesn't like connections. Introverts maybe, but then introverts probably wouldn't be participating in such a challenge. Though I could be wrong. Heck! for all I know I was the only extrovert participating this year. I'm tired but in a good way. I feel accomplished and dedicated. And that's saying a lot right now. So no worries, Pickleope, I'm still going to be blogging. I miss my "I Made It Mondays" and my "Friday Photos."

Two things before I go. First, I hit a blog milestone during the A to Z Challenge: 300 posts! Yay! But even more awesome? All my new peeps! I'd like to give a great big welcome to all the newcomers to my blog. You found me through A to Z and stuck around and that's a major ego boost! Glad to have you around for my journey!