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This is going to be short and sweet. I’m not that into July. Because OMG hot. I’m into July being over.

Y’all.  Y’ALL. You know how much I love Nina Simone.

Well. WELL:

Here, there was originally a great video of Lauryn Hill singing Feelin’ Good on the Tonight Show, but it has been taken down. If you haven’t seen it, you’re going to want to Google it. If you have seen it, you know you’re going to want to Google it again.

God bless Lauryn Hill. I need that album. NEED.

(I will make real sentences soon.)

To watch (other than that video, of course):

My sister and I have been watching White Collar. I just love this show. My heart cannot accept that it was canceled.

I blame the charm of Neal Caffrey for my sudden need to watch old Robert Redford/Paul Newman movies (think The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) this month.

To read:

My favorite thing I’ve read this month is Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. If I were to be an advice columnist, this is exactly the advice I would give. I have never agreed so fully and adamantly with pretty much everything someone said in a book as I did with this one.

To do:

It’s been a busy month, but I’ve been into the usual things – book clubs, supper club, random outings with friends. I did make time to enjoy this glorious thing:

photo (28)

It’s a cold brew from Harvest House with a little vanilla bourbon tucked inside. HAPPY.

And that’s pretty much been the month.

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer – join us and tell us what you’re into!

Let’s Dish

Our prompt this week in the writing community at Andilit was “your favorite dish.”

My favorite dish is not actually mine at all. It’s Mel’s. And it’s adorable:

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I kept it for her after we shared an apartment for a couple of months before she got married. She was downsizing to move into her apartment with Adam, and I was happy to look after her peas-in-a-pod serving dish.

This dish is not merely a dip holder; it’s a conversation starter. Prompted by this dish, guests in my apartment have discussed:

  • Decorating
  • Entertaining
  • Weird dishes our families pass down (and the stories behind them)
  • How adamantly one of my friends hates peas (which I do not understand at all)
  • Gardening
  • The importance of color-coordinating food and dishes (there may have been an excess of wine involved here)
  • Gift-giving (or specifically, how if someone gave her something lovely like this, she wouldn’t have to work so hard to pretend she liked it)

A good dish or a good recipe is one that sparks commentary. While I find compliments unnecessary in other parts of my life, there is not a quicker way to my heart than to compliment my cooking, my coffee, or my presentation. I put a lot of care into creating a good dinner experience for guests, and cute crockery makes it easy.

When I’m alone, I still like festive dishes. Aunt Gale gave me part of her old school Fiestaware set, and I love them.

photo (21)

(Not pictured – cream and sugar set and gravy boat)

I swear that everything I eat off these plates tastes better. The colors are vibrant and cheerful. These plates are also sturdy. I dropped one of them on the kitchen floor once, and it remained intact and didn’t even chip. They remind me of my family – strong and stubbornly optimistic.

These pieces are little artifacts of my life. Ideally, I would like every item in my kitchen to tell a story or serve as a reminder of a loved one. Perhaps one day, they all will.

This Friday, “five” is more of a guideline than a rule. Here is my online week in snippets:

1. Of course, I am upset about Cecil the Lion. Dentist Guy, an apology is not enough. I need you to get a whole new personality and do some jail time. I am fascinated by the outrage over the outrage. On the one hand, it’s okay to care about multiple things. That’s a thing humans can do. Caring about Cecil doesn’t mean that we don’t care about abortion (although I do feel compelled to question people who say they’re against abortion and want to shut down Planned Parenthood altogether, as knowledge of and access to affordable contraception – both of which are services they offer on a more comprehensive level than any other agency – is positively correlated with both lower teen pregnancy rates AND lower abortion rates), and it doesn’t mean that we don’t care about the lost human lives that are also eating up my news feed. On the other hand, if you are sadder over a lion than you were over Charleston or Chattanooga, that’s a problem and you need to fix it. Don’t know where to start? Clicky and start here. And Roxane Gay is my favorite person this week – “I’m personally going to start wearing a lion costume when I leave my house so if I get shot, people will care.”

2. I am heartsick over the death of Samuel DuBose. I suppose I should feel happy that it seems it is being dealt with, but all I can feel is heartsick. I am heartsick over the death of Darrell S. Murphy. I’m tired of these ridiculous deaths and the extreme, systemic prejudice that is at the root of them. I can’t stop listening and cocoon myself in my privilege, though, because desensitization is worse than heartsick.

3. The sheer volume of misinformation and baseless conclusion jumping on Facebook this week (or any week, for that matter) is exhausting.  The one that sticks out most is a Buzzfeed post making the rounds about a 17-year-old disgruntled ex-JC Penney employee claiming body shaming because they asked her to go home and change before her shift.

My annoyance is threefold.

First, this is not body shaming. It is an employer asking an employee to represent the company the way the leaders of the company want it to be represented (which, by the way, is what employees are paid to do). The issue is not that they thought her clothing was bad; the issue is that the clothing violated their dress code for employees on the clock. Aspiring feminist children – while I applaud you standing up for yourself, don’t just throw out hot button terms (especially ones that aren’t relevant to your situation) and run away. That makes you look uninformed, not brave.

Second, if real change is what you are going for (and if you’re going to use the label “feminist,” I’m gonna need real change to be your goal), there are concrete ways of getting that done. Don’t like their dress code? Draft a petition, complete with well-reasoned arguments that go beyond “I should get to do what I want,” to have it changed. Schedule a meeting with your manager to talk about it and see if s/he can put your ideas before someone who has the power to actually do something about it. Leaving in a huff and quitting without proper notice makes you a bad employee, not an activist.

Third, don’t sell out for clickbait and squander your chance to make a good point. There are elements of this story worth being upset about. She could have called for the need for better training resources so that others in the future could avoid the embarrassment this incident caused her. Because under the false bravado, that seems to be what she’s really upset about – she got in trouble for something that she didn’t know was against policy. She wasn’t trying to defy the company’s standards; she just wasn’t properly trained regarding them. And that’s a problem JC Penney should want to resolve. You can’t just hand part-time employees – of any age – a manual, tell them to read it on their own time, and realistically expect to be able to hold them accountable for it. That’s terrible management. She also could have focused on the actual discriminatory practice of sending her home while letting the guys get away with violating the policy. That’s the point I personally would have made. But I would have stayed and made it. Now, all that’s going to come from this is her fifteen minutes of fame from being the subject of a Buzzfeed post. What a waste of a golden opportunity.

THIS IS WHY WE NEED TO REQUIRE SPEECH AND DEBATE FOR HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE STUDENTS. So that they learn how to make an argument and stand up for themselves and others in a way that actually makes a difference and so that they grow into voting citizens who also know how to do that.

4. I love Cara Delevingne. I loved her awkward interview, and I love John Green’s defense of it.

5. How do we INTJs defy our stereotype of being narcissistic know-it-alls? By being open-minded and wanting to hear all the things from all the people, even if we disagree with them. YEP. Also, the line “indisputably aware of their own intelligence” made me giggle. Also yep.

6. And finally, this is the thing that made me laugh the hardest this week – Glennon Doyle Melton’s post “I’m Not Sassy, I’m Suzanne.” In related news, I need this mug.

What stories stuck out to you this week?

As a child, I always participated in library reading challenges during the summer. Imagine my nostalgic glee when a member of my book club posted this gem on from the Hood County Library’s Facebook page.

hood reading challenge

!!!

I’m going to do it. I mean, I probably won’t hand it in or anything, as I don’t live there, and I think local events should belong to the locals. But I’m going to do it.

Book number one? Long After Midnight at the Nino Bien by Brian Winter. This will satisfy the “set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit” category, as it’s about learning tango in Argentina.

I’ll keep you posted about my progress (or the derailing thereof). Also, you know you want to join me. Do it!

The Friday Five

This has been one of those weeks that was too busy in face-to-face life to spend a lot of time on the Internet. I seem to be having a lot of those lately. So here are some snippets from the week:

1. The sister had knee surgery and is feeling better. Mom is in town to assist, and we have been binge-watching White Collar (which is ADORABLE if you haven’t seen it and are looking for another thing to be bitter about it being canceled). Prayers and food deliveries still welcome.

2. The vending machine guy just informed me that he will be replacing the revolting cookies and cream candy bars with Skittles, which I think is a great decision.

3. I’m sick over Sandra Bland’s death. I want everyone to read Say Her Name from the African American Policy Forum (in conjunction with the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies at Columbia Law and Andrea Ritchie). It gives a great overview, additional resources, and a guide for having conversations at the end.

4. Beth Morey has a book of poetry called Night Cycles coming out next week. You can order signed copies at her Etsy shop, or pre-order a Kindle copy.

5. This made me laugh and laugh and nod and nod. All the yes that there is: No, it’s not your opinion. You’re just wrong.

Give me snippets of your week. What have you been watching/reading/doing?

Vegan Ice Cream

Since I have become intolerant of the lactose, one of the things that I miss most is ice cream. Non-dairy ice cream is so expensive. What I used to spend on a gallon, I now spend on a pint.

No more. Enter Vegan Ice Cream: Over 90 Sinfully Delicious Dairy-Free Delights by Jeff Rogers.

On some level, I feel like I should have been able to figure out these things on my own. The general premise for all the recipes is the same: non-dairy milk + whatever you want to flavor it + a sweetener of some sort, chilled and then churned/frozen in an ice cream maker. In fact, once you figure that out, the recipes seem a little repetitive, but that’s the only criticism I really have, and I think it’s a minor one.

The introductory material was fantastic. He introduced all the ingredients he would be using and gave substitution options for those with taste preferences or allergies. He also gave a straightforward account of how to make coconut milk from both fresh and dried coconut (that was my favorite tip, because I don’t have time to mess with a real coconut).

The recipes are so easy. This is an especially excellent book for beginner ice-cream-makers (the people, not the machines), because it will teach them to learn proportions and how to recognize when the mixture is the right texture for each step of the process.

Now let’s get down to business. I made some of the recipes just like it says to make them, but I also played around with it. My favorite thing that the book did was build my confidence to experiment with the recipes. I also enjoy that, of all the recipes I tried, there wasn’t a dud. They’re all delicious, and you need them in your life.

You’ll have to get the book to get his recipes, but I’ll tell you some things I did. I tried the following recipes his way, but I also did a tweaked version. My four favorite recipes in this book:

1. Espresso (of course) – I made it with hazelnut milk. RECOMMENDED. It was like eating a hazelnut latte.

2. Pumpkin – I don’t really like the taste of cashews. I get why they’re featured in a lot of the recipes, though. Because of their unique texture, they’re the simplest to use to achieve the consistency ice cream needs. The simplicity doesn’t solve my taste issue, though. Except with the pumpkin. When I added the pumpkin and the pie spices, I couldn’t even taste the cashew. It was delicious. And the texture was indeed perfect.

3. Peach – Armed with peaches recently plucked from Mom and Dad’s trees, I used almond milk and Grade B maple syrup. It tasted like peach cobbler. Bliss.

4. Peppermint – Peppermint ice cream is my most favorite ice cream ever. It’s a marvel – it’s crisp and creamy at the same time. Because I believe that you just can’t mess it up, I went full-on rogue with this one. Coconut milk (homemade really is best, but use the full-fat version in the can if you must), pulverized candy canes, and one squeeze of agave nectar (a little dab will do). It was so good I am tearing up just at the memory. I froze it in popsicle molds. Happiness on a stick.

Basically, if you want the joy of ice cream without the dairy, you need this book.


FTC Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Don’t Go Blind

My personal life is scrambled and crazy this week, and it would probably be better for my sanity and anxiety levels to just shut out social media and not pay attention and let some things slide by unnoticed. But there are things I can’t ignore, even when much of the news does.

Kindra Darnell Chapman was found dead in her cell in Alabama after being arrested on robbery charges. If you Google this one, click on the news link at the top, because the straight up web searches will make you pray for another flood. Actually, if you are of the opinion that racism isn’t a thing that happens very often any more, go ahead and click on some of those vile links of asshollery that show up and learn.

This was a day after Sandra Bland was found dead in her jail cell in Texas, where she was brought after a traffic stop. I’m gonna need Texas cops to stop kneeling on top of black women they’ve thrown to the ground. Get it together, Texas. I’m also going to need this to be investigated by an outside party. Because that’s how justice works. You can’t get an objective, fair assessment by doing the investigation in-house. We need someone who doesn’t have Texas pride at the heart of their inquiry to look into this. It’s not a turf issue; it’s a fairness issue. Sign this petition if you agree.

Fight the urge to go blind to these things. Read a lot. Listen a lot. If something you read upsets you, don’t just assume it’s wrong – ask yourself why it upsets you.

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