Wednesday, June 30, 2010

SEARED

I believe I have said this before, but this time, I mean it.

I am learning to cook! It's time. It's past time. I cannot live off of cheese ravioli tossed in balsamic vinegar the rest of my life.

And this is a long process. I could be biting off more than I can chew (ha! no pun intended... seriously) because in the process of learning to cook, I am buying more groceries than usual (y'all would be surprised to know how long a box of Cheerios and some Ragu and spaghetti lasts in my house). So here's how I see it. Learning to cook means planning recipes; planning recipes requires buying more groceries; buying more groceries dictates learning how to shop smartly.

So Saturday night, with the rain pouring and still in my PJs and glasses, I pulled out some index cards, all my back issues of Real Simple, poured some wine and went to town. It was quite romantic, let me tell you. But by the end of the night, I had watched about 12-15 Golden Girls episodes and had about 20-30 recipes and meals to try. That's what I call a Win-Win. Step one.

Step Two. During a slow afternoon at work, I went to one of the famous couponing sites and poked around. Now I need a coupon for Tums because those web sites stress me out!! Antacids should be its own tab on those web sites. You will need them either now or in the store. I know I am not the only one who find them hard to read, hard to navigate, hard to understand... I am going to start one called Couponing for Dummies and there will be no lingo, no cutesy terms - just the basics, spelled out in black and white. This is of course provided I ever learn how to do this in the first place. But you gotta start somewhere, right? Ladies and gentlemen, exhibit A:
Coupon clipping SCARES me. It's no secret that mama can't do math - and reading receipts is hard. Kroger makes you work for it. Truly. I tried once at Target and did okay for some cereal. But that's one transaction. Look at that stack of coupons in that picture. That's more than one transaction. But, in a truly genious moment while recipe-copying, I realized if I can't learn to do this while I am shopping for one, it's only going to be harder when (if?) I ever shop for two.... or three!

So armed with my coupons and some of the recipes I especially wanted to try, I made my grocery list. Some things I had coupons for, some of them I didn't. I'm pretty sure I got a good deal on my Cheerios. Know what else I got a good deal on?

Steaks!!! Cha-ching. I. Love. Meat. I crave it. I just have never had a great confidence that I can cook it on my stovetop. But all those Real Simple recipes said to sear the darned things and be done with it - no grill required. If you say so, Real Simple. So I snatched up a pack of four petite sirloins for under $6, bought some spices and made a little rub. One ridiculously burned pan and a few minutes later, I had this: Exhibit B!
I was really frustrated because of all the burning - in fact I'm pretty sure that pan might be ruined. But, the steak was good and I learned a lesson (put something wet in the pan before beginning!) I even remembered to take it off the heat and let it sit for a moment and keep cooking itself - which resulted in a nice, pink center. I didn't bother making anything else to go with it, since I was so busy attending to the little steak, but next time I have a few side dishes in mind I want to try.

So. Moral of the story? This feels like a huge notch in my belt. I made a GOOD steak on my stovetop! If I can do that, I can do anything! Well.... we'll see.

Also, I am aware I am probably doing this backwards. Arent' you supposed to buy what's on sale and then plan your menu around that? Oh well. I'll get it right eventually. Even Julia Child had to start somewhere though, right?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

GOLDEN

Sooooo remember the whole Christmas Story debacle? I have a crime that might be equally as offensive.

Until two weeks ago, I had not seen an episode of the Golden Girls.

What kind of house did I grow up in??!

When Rue passed, I watched a clip of Blanche's best moments that someone threw together on YouTube. Intrigued, I did a search for the show on my DVR and set it to record a few episodes.

TOTALLY. HOOKED.
Why are these women so funny? Why have I not been watching this for years? Good news for everyone else who loves the show - Hallmark channel is having a marathon on Monday, July 5. I'll bring the cheesecake, you bring the forks!

Monday, June 28, 2010

REWARDED

Just another day at the office:

Friday, June 25, 2010

FIVED

1. This has been such a good birthweek. I was treated to lunch four times, treated to dinner twice, treated to drinks, treated to a manicure, saw a play, got some awesome gifts, got lots of calls, texts, Facebook notes, etc. The list goes on and on. Thanks to everyone who made it special!

2. Speaking of special, tonight I get to go to a party celebrating my dear friend MB and her fiance Chris. I am so excited that they are getting married in the fall!

3. I was given a gift card to Overstock.com a few weeks ago. Any suggestions on what to use it on? I'm tempted to blow it on a movie or a book or something... but then I also want to put it toward something for my expanding collection of kitchen tools. A food processor perhaps?

4. My electric bill was super high this month. I have a window unit, so it's not like I leave my AC on 24/7. I turn it OFF when I go to work. Perplexed, I called the electric company to ask. "Well, it was really hot last month." I swear on my new watch that I said to the lady, "Ma'am, I'm not stupid. I know it was really hot." Morons. Can running your dishwasher an extra time really add that much to your bill? That's all I can think of. Other than it's been "really hot" the past month. Really?

5. When did June become International Sports Month? Between the Wold Cup, Wimbldeon, US Open and NBA Finals, I felt like I was living in some sort of ESPN alter-universe. I don't care how hot the soccer players are or how many times I can hear Roddick grunt - enough is enough, sports! There were literally too many balls in the air.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

CELEBRATED

My mom and sister got here late Friday evening to celebrate my birthday weekend with me. We had a jam-packed weekend full of lots of fun activities!

Saturday morning, we headed out for breakfast at a cute restaurant I'd heard good reviews about: the Pfunky Griddle. Their gimmick is that you cook your own breakfast at the table. Fun, right?

From there, we headed to do some touristy stuff, like go by my office (literally):
and took the Nash Trash tour:
where my mom made a new friend (no surprise there)

After the hilarious tour, we headed back to my apartment to cool off, change clothes and open a few presents:
before heading out for a dinner at Maggiano's
followed by a wonderful evening at the theater!

After the show, we went back to my apartment to knock back some more of the birthday dessert my mom brought up to me
and continue the good times!

On Sunday, we braved the heat to finish up some sightseeing, did some shopping, got pedicures and ate lunch at a cute new restaurant here in town.
Before I knew it, the visit was over.

We had so much fun! Thanks for coming, ladies!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

RECEIVED

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Fun birthday packages tied up with string,
these are a few of my favorite things:

French toast not included

Let's get real, with a watch like this, who needs a boyfriend?

I'll be halving a lot of these recipes...


These shoes are awesome. So, so awesome. I'm thisclose to ordering a pair in tan.


When the dog bites! When the bee stings!
When I'm feeling OLD,
I simply remember my new birthday things and then I don't feel so baaaaaaaad. Just old. But not bad.

Monday, June 21, 2010

OLD

I'm in my LATE. TWENTIES.

This hit me like a ton of bricks when I woke up this morning. Not "oh yay, it's my birthday!" or "oh yum, I get a free lunch today!" but "OH @#$%... I'M IN. MY. LATE. TWENTIES."

I feel like Kevin McCallister when he was told to pack his suitcase. What does this mean? Shouldn't I own property by now?

I vividly remember turning 17, my last summer of cheerleading camp. And now, ten whole years have gone by and what do I have to show for it? More pounds and fewer hair ribbons.

My birthday is the longest day of the year. Coincidence? I think not. 11 hours to go - this old maid is milking it hard.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

FILMED

Today, I bring you another installment of the home video series I mentioned would be coming this way. I am going to TRY not to let this blog turn into one big home video buffet - I know the majority of these are not that interesting - but I have to share some of the funnier ones with you. It'd be a crime to keep these to myself.

On this particular sunny day, my mom just got out the camera and let us do what came naturally: for my sister, that'd be show off to the camera and boss me around (love you); and for me, wander around and stutter. In fact that's pretty much how things went until I turned 4 or 5. This video also features one of the Buckwheats, one of many in a series of cats. Watch this video and you'll see why they kept running away.

Some highlights from this video:

:30 "He peenched da stool outta me"
:33 "Me-ow, me-ow, me-ow" (and not just at :33... this continues for a while)
1:47 "Mama ask me some questions to make people laugh" (show off!)
2:23 the cat makes a break for it and somehow I get blamed for it. Just like the video I posted on Saturday, we didn't discover this until YEARS after the video was taken and now it's another Jenniferism we often repeat in our family.
2:40 "Night night kitty"
4:53 more Me-ow, me-ow

And to prove that I had raw, untapped talent at an early age... don't miss my dazzling vocal skills on display at 6:50!

video

Me-ow me-ow me-ow.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

INVENTIVE

Do any of you spend way too much time untangling your earbuds when you are ready to use them? I know I do. One time I had already been on the elliptical for about 5 or 6 minutes before I finally got the suckers in my ears.

Enough of that. I invented a device so revolutionary, that I haven't come up with a name for it yet. It works like a charm to keep my earbuds in place after my workout, until I am ready to use them again.

Prepare to have your minds blown.

I give you...
... the bobby pin.

You're welcome.

Monday, June 14, 2010

RECUPERATING

CMA Fest was a busy week! It was nice to see so many people back in town though. Oh crowds, even though I may talk bad about you, I was secretly very glad to see you. Smell you? Not so much. But see you? 100%.

To help the week go by a little faster, I had daily items that I was looking for: mullet Monday, tube top Tuesday, wife-beater Wednesday*, I-can-see-your-thong Thursday, fanny pack Friday and socks-and-sandals Saturday. None of those items were more than a stone's throw away.

I made it out to LP Field for a few of the nightly concerts. I got to see some of my favorite artists, including Carrie Underwood**, Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum and Tim McGraw, and I also enjoyed hearing sets from Keith Urban, Jason Aldean and Josh Turner among others.

Make sure to tune in to watch the CMA fest special on ABC this September! You'll no doubt see my favorite moment of the concerts: a Keith Urban-led special rendition of Help From My Friends with the girls from Little Big Town on backup vocals. It was rockin'. You Tube it if you can't wait until then. And speaking of that song, have I mentioned I have Paul McCartney tickets?

*I know this isn't PC to begin with, but just in case anyone is confused, I am talking about a tank top, not an actual convicted felon.

**Y'all, Carrie's fans have found my autograph story and think it's hilarious. Read this thread. It's three pages long! They all think it says loser but I'm sure that's more than partially fueled by jealousy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

CABBAGED

If you've been around my family for a while, it's no secret that WE. LOVE. OUR. HOME. MOVIES. We don't have a screen and projector installed or anything like that, but my sister and I were so hilarious (and so were our friends) that every time we watch the tapes, we find something new that someone did or said and we usually end up on the floor in tears. So we usually watch them at least once each time we're all home.

So for Mother's Day, we decided to start the overdue process of getting these decades-old VHS tapes converted to DVD. They were actually starting to get damaged so the timing couldn't have been better. But, speaking of time, neither of us had the hours or machinery to sit around and do this ourselves.

So we found a reputable and affordable company online - iMemories. My sister got it all lined up and all my mom had to do was place the 6 VHS tapes for which we had pre-ordered conversion into a box that was pre-labeled and shipped to her (it's idiot proof) and then take it to the post office. A few weeks and a few dollars later, our favorite movies are safe and sound.

The DVDs should be arriving to my mom's house soon. In the meantime, we found out how to watch them online and share them. This is so cool! I can watch my first steps on my computer. Technology. Gotta love it.

But the BEST video, and the most popular video, and the one a few of you have questioned about, is the infamous Cabbage video.

My sister and I had just started 1st grade and kindergarten. That summer, we'd gone to Babyland General Hospital and adopted Cabbage Patch babies. Which apparently warranted a party. My mom's behind the video camera. Yes she really talked that way, yes my sister was that loud, yes I had blonde hair.

video

Now, thanks to this wonderful process (Happy Mother's Day!), I can show you video of our "real" Santa, the time I almost drowned at the beach and no one noticed, me picking my nose on-stage during a school program... okay maybe I won't show you that one. Regardless - we are so excited about our preserved collection of movies. If you have questions about iMemories, let me know - I recommend their services! Well-worth the (low) cost and this will not be the only batch of videos we send to them.

Friday, June 11, 2010

POTTERED

The other night, I was relaxing in my bathtub while finishing my book (Fair Game by Valerie Plame). I had left the TV on and after the news, a special on the new Harry Potter theme park came on. A whole theme park, just for Harry. Interesting.

My first experience with Harry Potter was my summer at JH, when the books were banned. Well, not straight up banned but staff couldn't read them in front of guests. They were about witches and goblins and sorcery, after all. Just to err on the side of caution, and eliminate the risk of offending anyone, those who were courting Harry were asked to do so only in the privacy of the staff's double wide trailers and cabins dorms.

So, what's it been, ten years since Harry hit it big in the States? And I've managed to avoid him this long? Despite C's and ABC Family Channel's best attempts, I have never watched a Harry Potter movie start to finish.

UNTIL NOW, Y'ALL!

The music they were using for commercial bumpers on that theme park special sucked me in. I am weak to the intrigue of a good melodic theme. So Harry arrived - and not on a broomstick, may I add - in my mailbox on Wednesday. I'm looking forward to getting to know him and deciding if the whole craze is completely unfounded, or actually quite interesting. Movies 2 through 6, you're on standby.

First Jake Sully, now Harry Potter... What's up, 21st Century? How you been? Mind if I join you?

P.S. DON'T even for one second think this means I'm about to start watching any of that Vampire crap.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

OPULASHED

A few weeks ago, I was at the mall with my friend and remembered I was in need of new mascara. If there is one product I am SUPER picky about, it's mascara. For years, I was incredibly loyal to Prescriptives False Eyelashes mascara. While wearing this, more than one person has asked me if I had on false eyelashes. Sometimes, a different mascara will catch my wandering eye - most recently, some Clinique trash. But I always, always came back to my beloved False Eyelashes. I have been wearing that mascara nearly daily for more than ten years.

So you can imagine my shock when I marched to the only Prescriptives counter at my nearest mall to find it GONE. Yes, they closed their counters in January. Bah! How unfair. I remember my very first Prescriptives counter experience because it took place on the same ill-fated cheerleading trip that I have already told you about. Prescriptives and that business card machine - the highlight (literally - half us bought some highlighting potion they had just debuted) and the lowpoint of that trip.

Turns out, they are still selling their wares online until they run out. Luckily, there is plenty of False Eyelashes still to be found online via their web site, but who knows how long that will last.

Enter my new mascara of choice - Opulash by MAC. It is plush but natural; lengthening but not clumpy. And at $14, a pretty good price for a department store mascara. The lady that sold it to me said it's just like DiorShow but much cheaper.

If you're in the market for a new mascara, I'd try it! And MAC is really good about returning items if you're unhappy with them.

What are your favorite makeup/beauty splurges?

Thursday, June 03, 2010

STUCK

Just when things started to get quiet around here, have I got a tale for you.

Last night I went to that part of town I was telling you about to see Avatar. In doing so, I also discovered we have a $1 movie theater in town, which officially makes Carmike 8 my new cinema of choice. Regardless of where it is.

So after Avatar, which pushes 3 hours long by the way, lets out close to midnight. I notice that at some point during or before the movie, I fidgeted with my ring and it was now snugly on my middle finger. The particular ring, which I happen to love, came from the Limited and is a little too loose on my ring finger and a little too tight on my middle finger. And since I have my mother's side of the family's incredibly thick fingers, that's not uncommon. I've gotten rings "stuck" on there before. This was a little bit too tight for comfort though. I tried to tug it loose while driving home, but I was starting to hurt myself. I decided to wait and try with soap and water when I got home.

Soap didn't work. Dishwasher detergent didn't work. Parkay spray butter DIDN'T WORK. I decide to sleep with it elevated and on ice, hoping things would even out overnight and I could tug it loose in the morning.

That plan failed worse than the Top Kill. I woke up and here's what my finger looked like:
I tried submerging my hand in a bucket of ice water. I tried spraying Windex on it. I tried wrapping my finger in dental floss, essentially binding the swelling, and trying to tug it off. Not only was the pain starting to make me physically ill, but I was scared I was going to rip my finger off or break a bone. Not to mention the blisters I was starting to get from all the tugging. Time for medical assistance.


I called my boss to explain this embarrassing situation and she recommended rather than go straight to the ER, I should call my physician and see what they recommend. The nurse said they could cut it off for me, so I got cleaned up and headed that way.I got to the clinic at 9:30 am. At 10, they pull me back to wait for the doctor. AT 10:45 AM - for keep in mind what could be his easiest diagnosis of the day ("you have a ring stuck on your finger!") - the doctor, whose practice I am inclined not to visit anymore because of this little visit, FINALLY comes back to take a look.
He tries a removal method with medical tape first. Sort of like the dental floss in that basically he was trying to bind the swelling enough to wiggle the ring off. Except I start cussing because it hurt so bad. "Are you okay?" he asks. I just nod and exhale, but what I really wanted to say effectively communicated that no, I had been waiting for over an hour for what was quickly turning from a ring removal into a finger amputation and his crafty little method was not working.

He picks up on this and says "yeah, let's cut it off." He hands the nurse this contraption and walks out of the room.
After I made sure she had done this before, she wedged it in place and starts to file my favorite ring in half. Eventually it works but that was not the worst part. If only we had been able to remove it, I could have worn it again (NOT on this finger). But even with the break, it wasn't budging. Time to pry it off. She ends up getting two pairs of forceps, clamping them on either side of the separation, and pulling. She pulls and pulls and finally the ring gives way and breaks apart.
Ironically, my finger hurt worse once the ring had been removed. And it still hurts hours later. And my favorite ring is in pieces. WHAT A BAD DAY!

I don't know if I'll ever wear another ring again. Okay that's a lie. Maybe I should say I don't know if I'll ever wear another ring on THAT finger again.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

PAULED

Remember last year when I bought tickets to Elton and Billy Joel add I compared it to watching Michelangelo and DaVinci paint together?

Lookout, boys - Picasso's coming to town.

I bought two tickets to see Sir Paul McCartney later this summer. I am super excited. I feel like this is a once in a lifetime chance. Especially if you live in Tennessee - this is his FIRST show in the state. Is that crazy? I think so.

My seats are on the front row of the second level and if he plays Blackbird, I am going to throw myself right off the balcony and just die. I promise. Who wants to come with me to witness that?

By the way - is it weird that even though tickets aren't on sale to the "general public" until next Monday, I logged right onto PaulMcCartney.com and got a pair today, no password, special code or anything? Is that normal? Shhh. Don't tell.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

MEMORIALIZED

My Memorial Day weekend was probably very different from yours. No lakes, no pools, no beaches; no hamburgers, hotdogs, corn, baked beans or potato chips. No good, y'all. No good.

BUT. It was still a fun, fun weekend filled with fun, fun stuff. On Friday at 6:30, trouble came to town in the form of Wes and Jennifer. They were in town for a wedding on Saturday, and I got to play hostess. We visited before they had to run off and join wedding festivities, and then visited (read: drank wine) some more before we all went to sleep - them in my cloud, me on my couch.

Saturday morning they treated me to lunch at Marché, where I had the best french toast I've ever had. Hands down. It was deeeeelicious. Then we took off for a little shopping and sight-seeing, during which I purchased a mirror and twisted Wes's arm to hang it for me. Yeah right. He was already drooling for a hammer before we left HomeGoods. Thanks Wessy!

The rest of the visit was low-key but wonderful. I am so glad they came and we got to catch up; I'll have to post a picture of my new mirror soon. They need to come back more often; I have lots of décor tasks they can help with.

Sunday night, I bit the bullet and finally watched that little James Cameron film that came out last year. It's called Avatar, maybe you heard of it? I was skeptical, so it wasn't hard to be impressed since I had low expectations. But whaddyaknow, I liked it. I even will go so far as to say I wish I had I seen it in theaters since the animation and colors were so pretty. But hey, at least I saw it at all. Are you proud? Can I rejoin society now? Actually, I just did a quick search and found a theater that is still (yes, still) showing it. Maybe I will go this weekend but I need someone to go with me because I am 100% not traveling to that part of town alone.

Also please add to the list of movies I saw this weekend - Sex and the City 2. I went last night and loved it. Look, it's no Hurt Locker or Sandlot. It's just fluff. Complete cotton candy: colorful, delicious and not good for you (maybe that just applies to those of us still fresh off a breakup). But I'm glad I went. And at $10.50, I better have been glad I went. Soon, it's going to cost more to go see a movie than it does to buy it on DVD 6 months later.

So even though the closest I came to a pool was taking a bath on Saturday, and even though the closest I came to a cookout was some fruit salad I made on Sunday, all things considered, it was a great weekend.

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