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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Today I have to go to the grocery store. It’s the day before Thanksgiving.


I know, I should have planned better, but I tend to wait ’til the last minute for just about everything. Last year I didn’t go Christmas shopping until two days before Christmas.

I’ve been making turnip gratin for my dad every year for Thanksgiving since I found it on the Pioneer Woman’s website…It’s probably the only recipe I haven’t messed with at all. It’s delicious exactly the way she has it, though I don’t put butter between the layers. I’m also going to make a big ol’ double batch of my favorite toffee candy because the batch I made last week is all gone. That stuff doesn’t last long because it’s goooooood.

The rest of the menu is pretty typical:

Turkey (my mom puts two turkey breasts in the crock pot instead of a whole turkey since no one really eats dark meat)

Homemade noodles


Smashed potatoes

Sweet potatoes


Dinner rolls

Pie (pumpkin and apple)


If you’ve waited ’til the last minute to finalize your Turkey Day menu, or if you don’t know what to bring to a family dinner, do yourself a favor and take a look at Pioneer Woman’s recipe archives.  You’ll find all sorts of delicious things.


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

When I was a kid, there were holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Halloween was in October and the stores started stocking costumes and candy in the beginning of the month. Once November hit, the Halloween stuff went on clearance because it was time for Thanksgiving. Christmas displays started going up sometime after Thanksgiving, and you certainly didn’t hear Christmas music ’til then.

Of course, when I was a kid MTV still played music videos.

Now we have ChristmaWeenGiving. You can buy a costume for trick-or-treating, some turkey decorations, and a Christmas tree all in the same shopping trip. Talk about streamlining things.

Am I the only one that’s bothered by the smooshing together of the holidays?

I’m also getting tired of the continually worsening commercialization of Christmas. Ask a handful of pre-teens at the mall what Christmas is all about. I’m guessing most of the answers will involve the newest over-priced gaming system, new cell phones… Anything but what Christmas is supposed to be about.

I love Thanksgiving and Christmas… Both holidays are about spending time with the people I love most in this world. I even enjoy Halloween because it can be a lot of fun. Can we go back to having a chance to celebrate each holiday separately and give them all the individual attention they deserve?

I’m not a huge fan of sweets… I more enjoy a sweet/salty combination than a full-out sugar attack. I think toffee might just be the best thing on Earth (for now…I’m pretty fickle). Six or seven years ago I was given a recipe for toffee candy that was easy and delicious and I’ve made it every year around the holidays with great success. Everyone asks me about it but I’ve kept my mouth shut because, gosh darnit, it’s my toffee recipe and I don’t want other people stealing my thunder.

What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Well, yesterday I was looking through the 34,865 (approximately) bookmarks that I’ve collected…they’re mostly recipes that I sincerely meant to make immediately until having no money kind of got in the way. I perused the list hoping to find something that we just so happened to have all of the ingredients for…With no luck. So I did what anyone else would do, I pulled a recipe out of my mental archives, said “Screw you, bookmarks!” and got to work because damnit, I wanted to bake something.

I drank at least a pot of coffee and a lot of time on my hands. Baking seemed like the right thing to do.

My lovely readers, I’m in a giving mood so I’m going to do the unthinkable and share my favorite toffee recipe with you. It’s extremely difficult and takes all day…

Nah, just kidding.

So you want 1 stick of butter (I used salted), 1 cup of packed brown sugar, about a sleeve and a half of saltine crackers, some chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet but dark chocolate is really good!), and whatever toppings your heart desires. I used walnut pieces and macadamia nuts but crunched up candy canes, pretzel pieces, or bacon could be used.

Yes, I said bacon. I happen to think it would be delicious.

Ok, so preheat your oven to 350, grease a cookie sheet (one with a lip) and arrange crackers in a single layer like this:

Set that aside, then put your butter and brown sugar in a pot on the stove:

Cook the mixture over medium high heat until it starts to boil. Make sure to stir constantly.

Have a candy thermometer handy. You’ll want to remove it from the heat when the thermometer reads 300 degrees or hard crack.

*insert crack joke here*

I know it’s tempting, but don’t stick your finger in for a little taste…it might as well be molten lava at this point, and it’ll stick to your fingers and burn like crazy. I know this from experience.

Once your thermometer reads hard crack (snicker, snicker) you can pour it over the crackers. Try to spread it around but don’t worry if you don’t get everything covered…The toffee will spread in the oven. Put the cookie sheet into the oven for 5-10 minutes. Just keep an eye on it and when the toffee has spread enough take it out. Or, get tired of waiting and take it out of the oven when the toffee is liquid enough and just spread it around yourself.

Let the toffee cool a bit, then sprinkle chocolate chips over it. They should melt enough to spread on their own, but you can put it back in the oven for a couple of seconds to speed things up. Once you’ve got your chocolate layer spread evenly across the toffee, add your toppings.

On the left I used walnut pieces and on the right are macadamia nuts. I also sprinkled sea salt over the whole thing once I realized I used unsalted nuts.

Let the chocolate cool enough to solidify…I ended up putting mine in the fridge for a few minutes because I’m impatient. Once everything’s nice and solid, bust it up into pieces! I use a butter knife to cut sections out, then I break the sections up into smaller pieces with my hands. It’s really easy to break apart once you get things started.

I like to make a bunch of this around Christmas…Whenever I’m going to see a friend or I get invited to a party I just put it in a pretty box and presto! Instant hostess gift.

The best part? Everyone thinks you slaved away at this because a lot of people seem to have the idea that toffee is SO difficult. You get to look like a shining star with minimal actual work.

Plus it tastes really, really good.

I woke up thinking about how good a McGriddle would be. Of course, I missed breakfast at McDonald’s and I recently read an article that made me think I might not want to eat there anymore.

The article is here if you want to read it.

Anyway, I knew there was some turkey bacon that needed to be eaten in the freezer, along with some Morningstar Farms ‘sausage’ patties that my dad wasn’t terribly fond of. We also had a little bit of regular pancake mix that mom wasn’t going to use because she bought whole wheat mix. A genius plan began to formulate in my noggin…

I fried up some turkey bacon (um, maybe 8 pieces?) and nuked a couple of the sausage patties. While all of that cooked I mixed up the pancake batter and threw in some shredded sharp cheddar cheese. After the bacon and sausage cooled I crumbled it up (only 4 pieces of the bacon… I might have been munching on it while I cooked), threw it all in the pancake batter and cooked three pancakes in the bacon grease.


I’m not kidding, these were the most amazing pancakes I’ve ever eaten. The perfect mix of sweet (from a little syrup) and salty (duh, bacon and sausage). Plus? SO easy. My only regret is that I didn’t add enough cheese. It’s ok, I’ll do that next time. And there WILL be a next time.

I don’t know if I can eat regular pancakes again.

Now I realize that I can’t be the first person to think of this…but I had to share it. I don’t have pictures, sorry. They weren’t all that pretty to look at anyway. They were damn tasty, though!

1. There are parts of the human body that should come in contact with soap and water every day. Ideally, the entire body should be soaped up every day…but I think if everyone could just take care of the more odoriferous parts on a daily basis the world would be a better (and less smelly) place. Also, going to Wal-Mart might be a tad more pleasant.

2. Certain behavior stops being acceptable right around the same time as high school graduation. If you’re 30 and still playing the he-said-she-said game or doing your best to make other people miserable, grow up.

3. Facebook is not your diary, it’s public. It’s not the place to talk about your messy divorce or air your dirty laundry. In fact, you aren’t allowed to complain about all of the drama in your life if every other update is “OMG I hate my ex!!! He’s gonna be, like, totally sorry when we go to court!”

3 1/2. While we’re on the topic of Facebook, can we all agree that “Welp, got up at 8:00 this morning, went to the grocery store and bought ho-hos, took the dog to the vet, got McDonald’s for lunch, went home and watched Maury and did laundry. Now I’m getting ready to start making dinner. Sooooo excited to drink some Coors Light and watch the Nascar race I DVR’d with my hubby!” is a retarded and completely unnecessary thing to tell everyone?

4. Having a digital camera does not make you a photographer. Making cupcakes from a shitty box mix does not make you a baker. I really wish people would stop claiming to be things they aren’t and just leave those things to the people that actually have, you know, talent. The real professionals.

Yup, I feel better.

My mother likes to ignore the way things are spelled and make up her own pronunciations.

Blockbuster = Blockbusters

Episode = Appisode

Andy Griffith = Andy GriffiTT (with lots of emphasis on the TTTTTTT)

It drives me crazy but I can understand where she gets it… My Grandma has her own special language:

Wash = Warsh

Shortening = Olio

Oil = Oral

…And that’s not to mention her way of sneaking “that-there” or “them-there” into every sentence.

It makes me wonder just how I managed to end up such a shining star in the subject of grammar.

Guess it came from my Dad?



1. For the love of pickles, TIP. I know a lot of people don’t think this is necessary but it really is. Look, most bartenders don’t make much of an hourly wage and we depend on tips to pay our bills. I’m not saying you won’t get served if you don’t tip, but I definitely make sure my tipping customers get served as quickly as possible.

2. Drink up, have fun, but know your limits. I’m not afraid to cut someone off if they’re slobbering all over the bar, but it makes life easier for the both of us if you switch to water on your own. The thing is, when I have to cut you off I end up the bad guy. I don’t want to be the bad guy…I want to be your fun provider of drinks! If I do cut you off, it’s because I legally have to…I can get fined big bucks if I’m caught serving a visibly intoxicated person.

3. Don’t get into fights or otherwise misbehave. I don’t like busting up fights…Hell, I’m only 5 ft 1 in and 145 (!) pounds. Since fights between midgets don’t break out a lot around here I’m always stuck attempting to break up a fight between two people that are much bigger than me.  I’ve done it…and I’ll do it again if I have to…but don’t think you’re gonna end up on my favorite customers list, mmkay?

4. If you’re under 21, don’t come in. If you have friends that are under 21, don’t bring them in. Don’t think the ol’ “OH, I must have forgotten my ID!” trick will work, either. If you don’t have it, I won’t serve you.

5. If you don’t have money, stay home. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone comes into the bar expecting everyone else to buy their drinks. If a friend has already told you he or she is going to buy all of your drinks, fine. If you come in the bar and start asking everyone you encounter to buy you a drink? Not cool. Definitely don’t ask your bartender…Unless you like hearing the word no.

6. Be patient. I’m the only person behind the bar…If it gets busy you may have to wait a couple of minutes before I can get to you…but I’m moving as fast as I can. Help me know you’re ready by putting your empty drink out in front of you and, if you’re paying cash, it doesn’t hurt to have money out where I can see it. That way, if I stop to look around the bar I’ll know you want something, even if you’re busy doing the tongue tango with the drunk chick next to you.

7. If you order a drink I’ve never heard of I’ll likely ask you how to make it. If you don’t know, I’ll do my best to get it right or I’ll suggest something that I think would be similar. Please don’t say I’m stupid because I don’t know how to make a Super Monkey Blowjob Boobie** shot that you and your friends made up in college.

8. I can’t actually think of something to put here at the moment but I enjoy even-numbered lists.

Every bartender is different. This list is specific to me…and it’s hardly exhaustive.  Any other bartenders out there feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments!

**Sorry for saying blowjob and boobie in my blog, mom. I can’t help it that people come up with horrible, disgusting names for the shots and drinks they create.


So I started a new job last Friday as a bartender. It’s taking some time to get used to it again but I think I’ll like it. The best part? Instant gratification as far as money goes…I get to walk out the door after a shift with money in my pocket. There are other perks, too…like the fact that I have all day to take care of any errands I need to run before I start working at 5:00. I also get a really good discount on food from the restaurant.

Since I’m on my feet from 5:00 pm until whenever I close, I bought these shoes:

I mentioned before that I really wanted a pair of those Reebok butt-toning shoes, but they’re expensive. I found these at Wal-Mart for less than $20.00! I also got some clothes for work because I’m not about to spend a bunch of money on nice clothes when I’m just gonna spill God knows what all over ’em… Bartending can be a messy job. I’m surprised to say I actually found a couple of cute shirts.

Now it wouldn’t be fair to say that there aren’t any sucky aspects of being a bartender… I mean, sometimes being the one sober person trying to maintain order in a room full of drunk people is less than fun. When your friends come in you don’t get time to talk to them unless you’re really slow. If you’re a cute girl (or guy, I guess) you’re gonna end up with creepers…And if you work in a bar that allows smoking you’ll always leave smelling like the bottom of a butt bucket.

One thing I didn’t expect…My 30 year old body wasn’t prepared to get back into the bartending thing and it’s been protesting ever since I started…Rather loudly. By the end of the first day my feet, ankles, knees, hips and lower back hurt. Seems like things are getting a little better, though, because Monday night only my feet and back hurt by the end of my shift.

Friday night is going to be my very first big-girl shift…I’m done with training and it’ll be my first night all by myself. Hopefully I don’t screw anything up too badly, but for now I’m not going to worry about it. My 30 year old body and I are going to enjoy my days off.

As some of you know, my dad had open-heart surgery last Friday. My mom and I stayed at the hospital with Dad…And when I say stayed, I mean we didn’t leave the building until Dad got released on Wednesday.

I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I knew he’d be in good hands at IU Health Hospital (I’ve written about it before) but I just couldn’t imagine not being there with him.

Friday evening, 10/28

Dad got wheeled into the OR around 11:00 Friday morning and we didn’t get to see him until after 7:00 that night. He was taken to ICU after the surgery (which is how it goes for all open-heart patients) and we were allowed to be in his room with him. The picture above is of his IV stands, with 8 IVs going. He also had a chest tube, a breathing tube, and a couple of other things hooked up to him. This is not my favorite picture.

All of the rooms at IU Health Hospital are private, so we were able to stay with Dad the whole time. The first night, Mom and I attempted to share this couch…which didn’t work out terribly well. Around 3:00 am we moved to the vacant waiting room and attempted to get some sleep. We checked on Dad again around 6:00 am when we knew the nurses would be doing shift change. We talked to both ladies for about 15 minutes and went to get breakfast.

8:00 Saturday morning 10/29

Dad’s nurse came to get Mom and I to let us know that the breathing tube was out and Dad was asking for us…When we walked in the room he had a huge smile on his face and we were able to give him hugs.

Dad had some super fly Big Bird socks to go over his compression socks. I’m totally jealous.

He went on his first post-surgery walk early Saturday afternoon.

This is how I felt by late Saturday afternoon. No sleep and a LOT of coffee.

Ah ha!

Dad’s ICU nurse was kind enough to show us how to fold the couch out to make a slightly bigger bed. Slightly more comfortable but mom still kicked me all night. She denies it but I know the truth.

The lobby of the hospital, as seen from the second floor.

Dad got moved to PCU (progressive care) Sunday morning. It was quite an adjustment after getting used to having a private nurse in ICU.

Dad did a lot of walking during his stay in PCU. By Tuesday they said he didn’t even have to have a nurse with him as long as Mom or I walked along.

The whiteboard in Dad's room the day he went home

Dad was released on Wednesday. As much as we were ready to get out of there, we really miss the wonderful people. Dad’s nurses were great and they took fantastic care of him.

Rooty was glad to have Dad home.

Dad gets better every day and the homecare nurse said he’s doing a great job. I feel so blessed that everything has gone well for him.

In other news:

I am no longer unemployed.

True story. Today was my first day bartending at a local restaurant/lounge. It feels good to be working again but DAMN do my feet hurt!

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