Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The One with the Garden

When I was somewhere between the ages of 6 and 8, I had this little garden kit that I planted in front of our house.  We lived in a relatively big house with a yard at that point, and there was a great expanse of space in front to plant stuff.

We had blueberry bushes to the side, day lilies planted in the front, and Dad tells me that he had vegetables around the side.  I don't remember these vegetables, and I don't remember what I planted out of my little kit (which, by the way, I WISH I could remember the brand name of.  I'd love to see if it still looks the same as it did all those years ago, or if they've "updated" it like they have so many other things from my childhood.), but I remember very distinctly that's where I planted everything.

Incidentally, that's also where I planted the little seed I grew in Sunday School.  Did you ever take a bean of. . .some sort, I don't remember exactly what, and wrap it in a wet paper towel and watch it sprout?  In Sunday school, it was to demonstrate growing as a Christian with Jesus in your heart or something along those lines.

When it had sprouted a fairly good amount, I took my Jesus bean around to the side garden and planted it, expecting. . .I don't know.  A giant beanstalk plant that would be awesome?

That's not what happened.  It shriveled up and died.  I prefer not to consider the religious implications of that.

Anyway, despite my OCD, I've always loved plants -- planting them, digging in the garden, picking what grew, etc.  (I have gardening gloves so I don't have to worry about dirt on my hands.  And even while I'm wearing them, I occasionally wash my hand in-glove.)  Last year, I had some great flowers on the porch (we live on the third floor of an apartment building), and they grew nicely, were pretty, all of the things you want from a flower.  I didn't keep the tags, though, and I don't know if they were annuals or what, but they died a pretty heinous death in the cold winter months.

This year, I decided that, along with my flowers, I'd grow herbs, so I picked up 6 herbs and a really cute herb-growing-pot.  I got sage, basil, mint, cilantro, oregano, and rosemary.  I paid $3 for each of those, and considering that when I cook, I often use herbs and every time you go to the store to get herbs for ONE recipe, you're paying $3-$7 for herbs that are most likely going to die a sad death in your fridge once you make your recipe, it just made good sense to grow my own.

But it wasn't enough.

So when D and I were at the Farmer's Market a few weeks ago, I was looking at a tomato plant, wishing I had a place to grow vegetables.

"I can build you one," he said, nonchalantly.

"You can build me what?"

"A garden box.  I can build you a little box that you can grow tomatoes in.  We can go to Lowe's this afternoon, and if you'll buy the stuff, I'll build it."

Sounded easy enough, and I know he's good at stuff like that, so I decided, yeah, OK, let's build a garden box.

I bought the tomato plant, and D bought two varieties of hot pepper: jalapeno and cayenne.

When we got home, he sketched out this thing with dimensions and everything, we figured out what soil, etc. would be needed, and off we went.

We bought a bunch of lumber, soil, and other building stuff (along with a strawberry plant!) and he went to work.

The green netting stuff is to keep the birds out.  I have a bird feeder on the porch, and my attempt to grow zucchini last year was thwarted by birds eating it.  Incidentally, the feeder is now on the floor of the porch, and we've hung up hummingbird feeders.  It's a lot cleaner if the seeds don't fall on the porch, and instead, just fall off the balcony altogether.


How amazing is that?  The fact that he just made this whole thing up in his head amazes me.  I would have ended up making the lumber into firewood and throwing everything else off the balcony.  (If you notice it doesn't look like we're that high up, it's because the view is deceiving.  If you look down, you see that the second floor is right on level with the grass, and the first floor is, technically, underground.  We're much higher up than it appears.)
This picture was taken a few weeks ago, and I haven't taken one yet of the door he built.  He installed a couple of hook holders on the sides, and the door looks exactly like the other three sides except it has hooks that hold it on.  It's really a remarkable piece of work.
In the row closest to the camera, on the left, I planted beet seeds.  They don't look like they're doing so well currently, but we'll see.  D wants to start juicing, and apparently, beets are an important part of that.  To the right, closest to the camera, are jalapenos.  Away from the camera, from left to right, are tomatoes, cayenne peppers, and strawberries.  Most everything's growing nicely, and there are a couple of buds on some of the plants.  We'll see in a few weeks.
Incidentally, if we lived at any other place in that building, the sun would be blocked for most of the day, so it's pretty cool it worked out that way.
Here are my other plants:

(See the birdhouse, and where those generators are?  That's STILL not the ground floor!)

I put those 'bouquets' together from individual flowers I bought.  The top row of herbs is, closest to furthest, cilantro, rosemary, and mint and the second row is sage, basil, and oregano.

I'm pretty excited for my new vegetable box, and for this year's plants.  Here's hoping everything grows!

Friday, April 5, 2013

The One Where I Update After a Freaking Long Time

It seems I haven't updated since October, and the only reason I even realized this is because I JUST TODAY noticed that I had a comment that was posted on here on 3/25, and she was like, "You should update."

And then I realized that it had been since October, and that means Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day, Easter, and yesterday all passed by without an update.  I used to be better at this, didn't I?

Maybe not.

The actual reason I haven't been around as much isn't because I haven't been blogging, but the opposite -- I HAVE been blogging, just not here.  I started a blog back in September of last year that I may or may not have mentioned here called Sarah Cooks the Books.  It occurred to me that I have approximately a metric f-ton of cookbooks, and I should probably get to using all of them.  I'm attempting to work my way through all of them, at least one, but maybe two or three recipes from each one.

But you guys?

Keeping up with a blog is freaking hard.  I had no idea.

There are a bunch of blogs that I follow (which, by the way, Google tried to ruin my life by getting rid of Google Reader), and they post every day or almost every day, and it seems like, "Wow, that's cool.  These people all do link-ups and have tons of blog friends and have a trillion followers and blogging is the BEST MOST AWESOME EVER."

And maybe it is.  But I haven't quite figured it out yet.

If I could do it as a full-time job, I would.  A food blog is easier (in theory), because you have to eat, right?  So why not just write about the things you're eating?

Well, because you have to cook and take pictures. . .and then write about it.  And since I have a full-time job, most days I get home, and instead of, "Whoo!  Yeah!  Let's make something delicious and let all of my many five followers see it and bask in my glorious food creations!" it's more like, "D, order a pizza and get me a bottle of wine.  Mama's got a migraine."

(Note:  I do not refer to myself as Mama, ever, except for above.  Maybe I should make this a thing.  I'll test it out and get back to you.)

So, I guess the short version of why I haven't updated is because I've been trying to keep up with cooking the books, and it's harder than I would have ever imagined to think of something interesting to say several times a week.  I can't tell you how many times I've thought to myself, "Self, the thing you're thinking right now would make a great blog post!"

By the time I actually sit down to write something, I've either forgotten what I was going to say, or it's not nearly as interesting as I might have originally thought.

So there you go.  That's where I've been (even though I haven't really told you anything I've done since October aside from the blog).  Maybe it might be time to start keeping up with this beast again.

We'll see.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The One Where Men Aren't the Devil

I'm not dead, and I haven't forgotten that I blog here sometimes.  I have a new blog, though, a food one, and I'm doing my damnedest to keep up with it even though you can see from this blog here at. . .consistency isn't my blogging strong suit.  However, I have a METHOD for my other blog, so the chances are good that I'll be keeping up with it the way I should.

The chances are good, but not definite.  I'm on week 2 and keeping up, so we'll see.

Along with this blog, and my oft-neglected but recently picked back up site She Likes to Bake, I've started a new project called Sarah Cooks the Books.  It will eventually just be, but for right now, it's still on blogspot.  So there you go.  Check 'em out, and I just ordered this book, so I promise they'll both be better-looking, and soon.

My on-topic point today is men.

Not these men.

I fully understand that sexism is alive and well.  I fully understand that women don't get paid as much as men in most jobs and that a woman's more likely than a man to be raped and that men have pretty much run things since the beginning of time.

But what I don't understand is when, exactly, feminism turned from "Let us vote, dammit!" to "Men are evil bastards who need to die a long, slow, painful death for the crime of having a penis."

The very, very feminist website I referenced wanting to quit before but haven't quite been able to bring myself to leave had this story the other day about how money tore apart this woman's marriage.  That's not really here nor there, but it was this little gem that made me take notice:

Truly, there are few things in life that irritate me as much as the use of "Mr. Mom." (saying that a dad is "babysitting" his kids when the mom's not there is another one.)  Why Mr. Mom?  Why not. . .I don't know. . .Dad?
So, knowing I was throwing myself directly into the jaws of the angry shark (does. . .that metaphor work?) I said:

To the credit of many on that site, I, at the present moment, have 35 upvotes.  But those aren't the ones I'm interested in.  (Mostly because, in this case?  I KNOW I'm right.)  It's the downvotes I'm looking at.  At least 7 people feel that Mr. Mom is an OK terminology to use.  Why?  I don't know specifically, and I can't ask, because downvoting is anonymous, but I'm going to go ahead and guess that it's because I dared suggest that a man could do a good parenting job and not be referred to as any version of "Mom."

There was another time I got into this same scuffle, regarding an article of women who've been raped.  I brought up instances of women who claim they've been raped, but have in fact, not.  (Because truthfully, those women should be punished just as hard as the men who rape.)  I said something about men who are falsely accused having to go through hellish things (wrecking of reputation, alienation of friends, loss of potential dates, sometimes court proceedings. . .) just because a woman either didn't get when she wanted and then lied about it or got what she wanted, but then decided she didn't actually want it, so she calls rape.  (Those were the examples I used.)

This was the response I got from one person:

So, to recap, it doesn't matter what I think of people who lie about being raped and ruin lives in the process.  The important takeaway from this is that MEN DON'T NEED PEOPLE TO CARE ABOUT THEIR FEELINGS.

(For those of you who don't know, "cis" is another one of those words created because we as a society have the inherent need to label EVERYTHING.  Short for "cisgender," it is "the opposite of transgender, a cisgender person’s gender identity matches their body and the gender they were assigned at birth, as well as the traditional roles and behaviors associated with that gender."

In other words, heterosexual people who don't think they should be the opposite sex.  This "word" is thrown around A LOT on this website.

So my purpose in life, since I'm a woman and all, is to be sympathetic to women and to not care about men at all costs.  If a woman lies about being raped?  That's OK, because she's more likely to be the victim of a sexual assault than a man is.  If a man is accused of rape and he didn't do it?  I shouldn't care, because he's a man, and as a man, he's more likely to be the perpetrator of a sexual assault, so it's like a pre-emptive strike, and he probably had it coming anyway.  Right?

I call bullshit.

I'd like to say it for the record here, for anyone to read, men, women, women who frequent that website, whatever.

I like men.

I like men a lot.  Most of my best friends in life have been men. 

Hell, I married a man!  I married a man that doesn't sexually assault people and who I'd never call "Mr. Mom" when his daughter is here.  I married a man that is a much better person than a lot of the women I've known in my life.

So no, I'm not going to take your side just because we have the same indoor plumbing.  If you're a jerk, I'll ignore you.  Same if you're a man.  If you're a jerk, I'll ignore you.  If you're not a jerk. . .well, apparently, you're just a figment of my imagination then.  Because men who deserve kindness and compassion and for their lives to not be ruined by false accusations of rape don't exist.

(Note: My spellcheck doesn't recognize "cis" or "cisgender" as words, so there's that.)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The One with the End of an Era

I was going to call this one either "The One with a Fall From Grace" or "The One with the End of a Love Affair" or "The One Where I Lose the Love," and then I realized that both of those would make it sound like I was on either side of some kind of extramarital affair or getting a divorce or something, which I'm not.

When I wrote this post, I meant everything I said.  Everything about the love I've always had for everything in the Jane Pratt universe, and how Jane magazine was the raison d'ĂȘtre for most of my adolesence and childhood.  How I looked up to Jane, and how it was my absolute biggest dream to be able to work for her.

You know how, at some point, you realize your parents aren't perfect?  You realize they're not perfect, and it's so effing disappointing?

The last two days have been like that for me.

You might accuse me of being melodramatic, and that's cool, but the xoJane community was like. . .my people.  Smart, snarky people with opinions beyond "OMG, I totes need the new Marc Jacobs bag or I'll, like, LITERALLY DIE."  It is the damn hardest thing in the world for me to make friends, so when I find a community, whether online or in the 3-D world, that I can connect with, it's huge.  And I had that.  But I don't think I do anymore.

Without getting into the logistics of all of it, I think it all boils down to the fact that I've realized that Jane herself. . .doesn't really care.  She cares about the money, and she cares about the clicks, but she doesn't much care about the community of people that, for the most part, were brought together because of the common interest of Jane or Jane's big sister, Sassy

She has always been known for her celebrity name-dropping (Did you know she's former lovers/ currentBFF with Michael Stipe?  And that she slept with Drew Barrymore?  And that she's also BFF with Courteney Cox?  We all know.  Because she talks about it ad nauseum.)  but apparently, that also bleeds over into the not-so-celebrity people, the chosen few that are part of the in-crowd.  The ones that get fawned over and acknowledged like they were real-life best friends.

Am I jealous?  That this woman I've looked up to for literally more than half my life won't respond to my (obviously hilarious) life observations and (thoughtful) questions?  A little, yeah.  But it's so much more than that.

I can't have respect for someone who looks the other way while her beauty director and "health critic" gets herself so wasted on drugs every night she writes long, rambling diatribes about her "rock and roll" lifestyle (with a beauty product recommendation thrown in for good measure at the end) and who, after the aforementioned BD/HC quits (Yeah, quits.  Wasn't fired.  Quits to write for the Vice website.) hires a new Beauty Editor that her readers and commenters literally, literally BEGGED her to not hire, for a miriad of very valid reasons.  And when she hired her instead, just basically said, "I love her and you need to be nice!" without addressing any of the reason why the readers, the REASON for such a site, were so against it.

I'm tired of the constant tearing-down in the comments section and the authors' own Twitter feeds.    I'm tired of being a part of a community where, a year ago, I felt like I was an active part of and that I was being heard as a person, and now, I'm just not.  It doesn't help that Disqus has added a "downvote" option and that it's anonymous.  People are just mean.  I think facebook has been correct in not adding the "Dislike" option.  That would get really ugly really fast.

So I'm quitting.  I'm throwing in the towel.  At the very least, I'm taking a hiatus.  Maybe I'll be back.  If I see Daisy Barringer tweet that she's written something, I'll probably read it, but avoid the comments section.  There's enough negativity in the world, and I'm working hard enough to keep it out of my own life.  It's hard, you guys.  I'm not naturally a glass-half-full kind of gal, but I've legitimately been trying harder to not. . .drink the Haterade.

Maybe you're reading this and thinking, "Damn, Sarah.  You're too sensitive.  You're making a big deal out of nothing."  Maybe that's your opinion, and that's cool.  For me, it's like I've just lost my best elementary school friend.  It's just not fun anymore.

I guess this means I'm going to need to find real-life people to talk to now.  God help us all.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The One with the Crazy Dreams

I was reading a post on a website I frequent about dreams, specifically anxiety dreams, and reading the comments was just fascinating.  I didn't realize that some of the dreams I have pretty frequently (monthly, bi-monthly, sometimes weekly) were so common, and I never would have thought to call them anxiety dreams.  Seeing as to how they make me feel anxious, though, I guess that would make sense.  And they all involve school, which I'm sure a therapist would have a field day with.

One that I have pretty often is that I'll dream I'm still in high school (Dream?  Or nightmare?), but the high school is actually a variation of the middle school I went to.  It's almost always after hours, and I'm running around, trying to find my locker.  I almost never find it, and I know I need to get books out of it, but for the life of me, I can't track the thing down.  A couple of times, I've found the locker, but I've forgotten the combination.  I never end up getting to my books, and rarely do I even find the locker.

The first of my two college dreams is a bi-monthly dream during which I get to school (the actually university where I went) and discover that I have no dorm room.  All my stuff is sitting outside in a U-Haul, and I have nowhere to live.  I run around campus, looking for someone to help me find somewhere to live, but most people have usually already gone home.  Sometimes, I go into a dorm that appears to be unfinished, they're still building it, and I look for someone that might let me live with them.  I can't right this second remember a time when I've eventually gotten somewhere to live.  I guess I just live out of the U-Haul.

My last dream is another college dream, and it's that I wake up one day and glance at my schedule to realize that I'm supposed to be in class, it's the end of the semester. . .and I've never one attended that class.  I've completely forgotten it was on my schedule, so I never went.  Then I go running to find the class, and I can't track it down.  It seems to always take place during senior year, and it's a class I need to graduate, so I guess it's implied that I'm not going to graduate because of this one class I've forgotten to go to.

Any dream interpreters out there want to take a crack at these?  Will I be stuck in high school/college for the rest of my life?

What about you?  What are the weird, recurring dreams you have?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The One With the Melting Pot

The title of this one sort of sounds like I went on some kind of psychadelic drug trip.  But I did not.  Just went to dinner.

The Melting Pot, if you don't know, is a fondue restaurant.  I've heard about people going, and there's another blogger that I read that loves it and goes as often as she possibly can (mostly for the chocolate), but it's. . .ridiculously expensive, so I've never been.  However, last week or the week before, Groupon had this deal where you could pay $20 for $40 worth of food.  Obviously, I bought one.

 My friend, Faith, is getting married in a couple of weeks, and my friend/her roommate, Andrea, suggested we go out next week for a bachelorette-party-dinner.  (Meaning, you know, just going to dinner.)  We're going to the Melting Pot (with Groupons!), so I decided to take D out on a rarely-utilized Date Night as to go with him for the first time before I go with Faith and Andrea.  (What an awkward sentence.)

We got all gussied up and headed over to The Melting Pot. . .except there was an accident on the highway involving a car being stuck under a tractor trailer, so we had to re-route, thus making us late for our 6:30 reservations.  (I called to make sure we'd still have a table.)  So that was the first thing.

When we arrived, we were seated by the manager.  We were seated in this area with tiny booths for two, which had a curtain that you could close to. . .assure you had privacy, I guess.  (The couple in the booth adjacent to ours was making good use of the closed curtain, if you know what I'm sayin'.  And I think you do.)

I felt sort of awkward, going into a nice place and whipping out a Groupon page, but then I figured, if they were going to judge me for cheap(er) food, they shouldn't have put up a Groupon.  It said on the print-out to give the Groupon to the waiter upon arrival, so we did.

The waiter explained how the whole process worked, but he spoke fast and had an accent and didn't enunciate, so I had a hard time understanding exactly what was happening.

We ordered the spinach and artichoke cheese fondue which took. . .a long time to get there.  I'd drained my Diet Coke (as I do), and kept burning my mouth with nothing to drink except pilfered water from D.  (I realize that there is that expression about even dogs waiting for their food to cool, but we'd been waiting a long time, and I was hungry.)  We finished that up and sat, patiently waiting, for our Caesar salads to get there.

And we waited.

And we waited.

And then our waiter came by and told us they'd forgotten about our salads.  Which is awesome.  Especially the part where he told us they'd forgotten about us.  (This happens. . .constantly with both D and myself.  We both have a tendency to slip through the cracks, so when you put us together, we're basically invisible to the naked eye.)

Then the salads came.  Caesar salads, which were actually very good, if not a little small for $7.

Then we waited.

And waited.

You might think that, at this point, we were mad and yelling and all that, but. . .we were actually having a lot of fun.  We go out. . .never, and while everything was happening against us, we were having a really good time being a couple, if that makes sense.  The waiter came by, and D mentioned that we'd been there for an hour and a half and were still waiting for a meal, and we'd like to speak to the manager later.

So our 'entree' got there.  We decided to split one, because, you know, $23 dollars.  There was a little bowl of vegetables, 4 pieces of chicken, 4 shrimps, 4 pieces of steak, 4 pieces of sausage, and several sauces.  I have to admit, I was a little bummed out that the food was so. . .sparse.  But then, we were splitting one, so maybe it's different if you eat the whole thing yourself.

There was also a pot of hot broth, where you. . .cook your own meat.  We were puzzling over this when the manager came over, but we sent him away so we could eat.

We sat there, trying to figure out if the two-and-a-half minutes the waiter indicated would actually cook this meat.  We were going to put it in a little at a time, but ended up just dumping everything in the broth, like a soup.

Two-and-a-half minutes passed quickly, and the meat didn't. . .look done.  So we discussed paying this much money to cook your own meal, and then pulled some of the meat out again.  It still didn't look done, but it was dark, and it was hard to tell.  D ended up pulling out the flashlight on his phone, and we were dying laughing about how ghetto the whole thing was.  But the meat was done, so we ate.  It was really good, but there wasn't much there.

Ultimately, the manager came back and comped our entree and one of the salads, so we had money for dessert, which was a pot of melted milk chocolate that came with marshmallows, bananas, strawberries, Rice Krispie Treats, a piece of cheesecake that. . .wasn't very good, and pound cake.

The chocolate was amazing.

(I realize as I'm telling this story that I'm not conveying how hilarious that whole situation really was.  I don't really know how.)

Then the waiter came by and asked if we wanted coffee.  I didn't.  D did.

A few minutes after that, the waiter came back by to let us know the coffee machine was broken.

All you could really do at that point was laugh.

The waiter brought us our bill, and it came out to $36 something. . .except he hadn't factored in the Groupon I'd handed him at the beginning of our 2-and-a-half hour ordeal.  Instead of laughing, all we could do then was shake our heads.  He came back a while later and was like, "Oh, yeah, you had a Groupon."

So he brought the bill back, and it was the lovely number of $0.00.  So we left a tip (really, we did) and left.

All things being said, I'd go back, but not if I was paying pull price for anything.  The food was good, but there wasn't nearly enough of it and it was WAY overpriced.  But we had a great evening, and I'm looking forward to going with Andrea and Faith next week.