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Happy Accident

Today on the August Break Challenge on Instagram, the prompt is “favorite recipe.” So a couple of weeks ago, when I made cavatini, I took this picture in anticipation of this prompt:

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Doesn’t that look delicious? Don’t you like the quirky angle from which I took this picture, as if all it took was a little point-and-shoot rather than retaking it eleventy dozen times to get a less fuzzy picture that still looked spontaneous and fun? Aren’t you impressed with how clean my counter looks or that I actually planned ahead to show you something?

Well, go ahead and be impressed for a little while. Because 1) it was delicious, 2) while it’s not the best picture I’ve ever taken, I can definitely see a marked improvement in what I’ve learned about photo-taking in the last year or so, and 3) I am impressed with my own self that there was a clean counter and that I planned ahead, so you might as well be, too.

But honestly – this is a picture of what my kitchen usually looks like when I’m cooking:

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There are dirty bowls and spatulas all over the place. If you look closely, there’s even a wine cork there, even though there’s absolutely no wine in monkey bread (although dark buttered rum might be nice…hmm… *plots*), so who knows how long that has even been there. That was the picture from Tuesday night, or as I will remember it in my nightmares, Disaster Night.

It started with a pretty straightforward plan. I was going to make a sausage/broccoli stir fry to put over rice, with monkey bread for dessert. Simple enough.

Monday, before I went to bed, I put the frozen sausage in the refrigerator to let it thaw.

Tuesday at 5:00, it was still not thawed. Not one to be deterred, I forged ahead anyway. I sliced the ground sausage into icy rounds and put them in the skillet. Then, because I am impatient, I used my handy Pampered Chef Mix ‘N Chop to see if I could cut through one of the rounds to speed the process along. On the one hand, it cut through efficiently. On the other, I had forgotten how efficient a tool this is and applied much more force than necessary, causing half of the sausage puck to fling itself up and hit the ceiling and the other half to leap to the floor. I took a moment to completely freak out that there were now raw sausage bits on both my floor and ceiling. I have never cleaned that floor or ceiling so quickly or so thoroughly (or to the soundtrack of so much cursing).

Then the garlic refused to peel and I also dropped half the onion on the floor when my old spice rack finally gave up the ghost and plummeted right into the middle of them. I burned my hand, narrowly escaped chopping the tip of my finger off, and accidentally doubled the ginger.

At the end of this, however, I still had a delicious (albeit intensely gingery) meal. What a happy accident.

Being optimistic of thought and short of memory, I set out after my meal to make monkey bread. Monkey bread, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the easiest things to make. You pinch off pieces of biscuit dough, dip them in butter, roll them in sugar (and cinnamon, if you want), pile them in a baking dish, and bake until they’re done (usually about two or three minutes longer than what it would take to bake the same recipe as regular biscuits). What emerges from your oven is a glorious, caramel-y treat.

I usually like to make my own biscuit dough, because it’s not hard, but it is so much better than biscuits from the can. For some reason, though, I had some canned biscuits, so I used them instead (because even with canned, it’s hard to mess this up). What I had forgotten was the loud popping noise that the canned biscuits make when they are opened. Has it always been that loud? I’m pretty sure I got a super loud batch. I yelped so loudly that my new neighbor knocked on our shared wall and yelled, “Are you okay?!” So hey – now I know that if I ever get mauled (or more likely – fall and injure myself on something embarrassing, like a wayward sock), they will notice and perhaps call someone to come to my aid. That’s nice to know.

I pinched, I dipped, and I rolled the biscuits in brown sugar. Many recipes call for the initial roll to be in white sugar with brown sugar for the final sprinkling, but of course I was out of white sugar. It is not as easy to roll biscuit nuggets in brown sugar, but the extra effort and mess are worth it. From this point on, I will always make it without white sugar, because IT WAS AMAZING. I actually purred.

Now it’s your turn. Share your happy accident stories. I know you have them!

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(Fridays mean the biggest cup for my coffee and the sweetest jazz for my speakers)

Life this week:

  1. This week was move-in week for the majority of our residents. By the end of the day on Monday, I had worked 18 hours already. I thought yesterday was Friday until about noon, and I almost cried when I realized it wasn’t. But today – today IS Friday. And it’s a beautiful Friday. The sun is out, but it’s still cool from our “cold front” (which in Texas in August means mid- to upper 80s), and I just had a honey bun. No regrets.
  2. I met with church folks a lot this week. We had book club where we discussed Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson on Tuesday. Then I joined the choir on Wednesday, which is a bonus to not having class on Wednesday nights. And Thursday was out outreach committee meeting. It’s been one of those weeks where everything happened.
  3. Rest in peace, Julian Bond. Thank you for your legacy.
  4. Oh, Hilary. That second video.  My, how uneasy this makes me feel. This is going to be a really intense campaign for everyone.
  5. I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS PIECE.  I love optimistic late night. I like the satire as well, but authenticity charms me like nothing else.

How has your week been?

Friday Five Scramble

We have people checking into the building and it’s the Friday before All The People come (on Sunday), so this is going to be quick and scrambled.

  1. Some friends are worried about progressives fighting among themselves by expressing discomfort with Bernie Sanders’s reaction to Black Lives Matter and telling candidates that they’re doing it wrong. I’m not worried. It’s just conflict. That’s what people DO. I am more concerned by those who would let these things slide in order to present a fake united front. That’s what should worry us.
  2. I am going to submit pieces in the next month or so to the Bartleby Snopes dialogue only contest and to Bitch Magazine.
  3. White Collar continues to be adorable.
  4. My favorite thing on the Internet this week is the man who posed as Target customer service to respond to their gender neutral toy section decision.
  5. What meal is my staple when I am busy and don’t have a lot of time to cook? Eggs and potatoes. Enjoy.

What’s happening in your world this week?

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I am participating in Hood County Library’s Summer Reading Challenge, and I know that if I don’t make a plan, saying, “I’m participating,” is about as far as it will go.  Even with a plan, this is a lot of books, some sections have two titles (because I couldn’t choose one), and it doesn’t include a couple of friends’ books I’m looking over this month, so odds are slim. I may have to extend it beyond September 28. But here’s the master list. You will know I’ve finished a book because there will be a hyperlink to it either directing you to my review (where there will be links to buy) or to a link to buy it somewhere.

Anyone want to join me? This is going to be fun.

Checked out from the library – More than half this list, actually. But for the purposes of the challenge, two Thursday Next books that are due soon –

Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde

From the FOL Bookstore – Not specifically from Hood’s Friends of the Library store but from Fort Worth’s. That’s close enough.

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant by Jenni Ferrari-Adler

Set in Texas – 

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

#WeNeedDiverseBooks – From what I can gather, this looks like a challenge for children’s books, but I’m gonna go ahead and read some for the grown ups.

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Translated from another language – 

Venerin Volos (Maidenhair) by Mikhail Shishkin

Collection of short stories – 

Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? by Raymond Carver

Out of your comfort zone – Jesus, be a cocktail…

A Queer Thing Happened to America by Michael L. Brown

Set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit – Argentina <3

Long After Midnight at the Niño Bien by Brian Winter

You own but never have read – 

Inés of my Soul by Isabel Allende

Award winner – 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Banned or challenged book – 

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Local Author –

Surrendering Oz by Bonnie Friedman

Recommended a book to a friend – This is supposed to be the freebie square on the bingo card, but I’m going to take the opportunity to finish two books that I’ve started, loved, recommended to others…and then never quite finished myself.

Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey

Quiet by Susan Cain

Author under 30 – at least, at the time of publication (she turns 30 this September)

The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht

Turned into a movie – One I’ve been dragging my feet about…

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Graphic novel –

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

Collection of poetry – 

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Night Cycles by Beth Morey

Young adult book – 

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

Memoir –

Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi

Published the year you were born – 

Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow

Re-read – 

Why Girls are Weird by Pamela Ribon

Recommended by a friend – 

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Your choice of nonfiction – 

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

From your childhood – Nancy Drew <3

The Crooked Bannister by Carolyn Keene

You finish reading in a day – 

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

If You Want My Vote

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Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson. People assembled to mark their remembrance of the four and a half hours that Michael Brown was left lying on the street. There was gunfire again. A year has passed, and so little has changed. Church, we need a better theology.

And I need better candidates.

I don’t know who I’m voting for. I disagree with most of the candidates, and I actively dislike a few of them. The rest? I have strong meh feelings about. Sure, I have a soft spot for Jill Stein leftover from the last election when she got arrested for trying to join the debates and when she got arrested for passing out candy to protesters in Texas, but I have zero hope that she’ll be elected, so it’s hard to work up enthusiasm. I often nod to the things that Bernie Sanders says, but I am displeased with his response to the Black Lives Matter activists who interrupted his rally in Seattle.

No. “Displeased” is too tame.

My sister and brother-in-law have this signature deep, guttural sigh that they exude when they want to convey utter exasperation with the situation at hand. That. That is the response to that foolishness that I would like to insert here now, for mere words will not suffice.

To all Presidential hopefuls, especially Mr. Sanders, if you want my vote, here’s how to get it.

Stop telling me what you’ve done or what you plan to do, and show me what you’re doing. The new plan is step in the right direction, but if it’s not followed up by action, I don’t want to hear it. If you say you believe in racial justice, be just. Lead the way. Be a real ally, not just someone who plays one on TV.

When Black Lives Matter shows up at your rally, roll out the damn red carpet. It’s not hard. Share your stage. Listen to them. Because I don’t care half as much about your civil rights record as I do about your current civil rights activism. And when you put yourself at odds with the very people doing the work or demand that they only do the work on your terms and in your time frame, you reveal a gargantuan lack that I am not likely to forget.

People have a voice.  They are certainly paying attention to what you’re saying and doing. Reciprocate. They have things to say, and they want to be heard. When you neglect to make room for them to do so, you leave them two choices – shut up or interrupt.

When you back Black Lives Matter into that corner, I hope they always, always interrupt you.

If you want my vote, you will welcome their input.

Don’t like to be interrupted? Then you need to be more intentional about listening. Instead of taking your toys and going home to pout, stay and pay attention. If you want my vote, you need to be the candidate that hands them the microphone, not the one who directs them to the back of the bus.

Added bonus – the inevitable money shot of you checking your ego and privilege enough to hand off the mic? Easiest. Campaign. Ever.

We don’t have to agree on everything, but I want a candidate who knows how to listen to the people. That’s my President.

ETA: This is my favorite thing on the Internet today.

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My brother-in-law recently returned from a trip to New Mexico, and the prize he brought me was a mug and coffee from Iconik Coffee Roasters in Santa Fe. So of course I immediately French-pressed myself some, and it’s safe to say that I will be adding Iconik as a stop on my Coffee Shop Road Trip.

Iconik Coffee is a direct trade (i.e., they work directly with farmers and coops) coffee company that roasts its own beans and offers both in-house and wholesale pricing. Their website is easy to navigate. My favorite part (other than the coffee, of course)? They give you brewing tips.

I brewed the Royal Badger Sumatra. I have decided that Royal Badger is my spirit animal. I’m not sure how a coffee can be so light and yet so rich at the same time. It was delicious, and I am hoarding it. I might share with my sister and brother-in-law.  MIGHT.

(I’m totally sharing. I’m taking some over tonight.)

If you’re in Santa Fe, you should check them out and report back to me on their in-house brew. Their in-MY-house brew, however, already has my full approval.

I am participating in Susannah Conway‘s August Break 2015 on Instagram, and today’s prompt was “five facts about me.” So, ever the overachiever, I decided to narrow my five facts down to random things that I collect or have collected.

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  1. I have an unholy obsession with ramekins. I have at least four different sets. I am not even sorry because 1) they’re cute, 2) they serve as both cookware and serving pieces, and 3) they make individual portions. I have a whole drawer that’s just ramekins and cookie cutters. I hardly ever open this drawer without making some sort of appreciative squeaky noise at the cuteness that it contains.
  2. I collect coffee mugs from various cities. Pictured here are my New York mug and my New Orleans mug (well, one of them). If friends go on trips and feel the need to bring me a gift, that’s my favorite gift to get. And don’t get fancy – I like standard-sized mugs.
  3. I am working on a patchwork blanket made up of knitted squares that I will eventually weave together. This started out as “I’m going to make lots of dishrags” and quickly evolved into “I don’t need that many dishrags – that’s ridiculous.” So…blanket it is!
  4. My favorite wine stopper is a crystal pig. I bought it when I was a member of P.I.G.s, the Performance Interest Group of the Communication Studies department at UNT. I had a brief period of collecting pigs, but that didn’t last long. This is one of the few remaining items from the collection.
  5. And last but not least – the Smallville collection. Or, rather – the Lex collection. One of my first online communities was the Smallville fandom. I participated pretty frequently. I read and wrote fanfiction. I was a member of the Michael Rosenbaum Message Board (MRMB, for short). Best of all, I traveled to meet other fans in person whom I had met online. Some of them actually became pretty close friends. *waves* I don’t have all my Lex paraphernalia, but the Ty Nant bottle (Lex’s water of choice) and my Lex action figure are two of the pieces that have survived.

What unusual collections do you have?

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