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The Misadventures of Mrs. B

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The Misadventures of Mrs. B: 2011-01-02

Cook. Writer. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Klutz.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Do YOU To Do?

It's come to my attention that for ages now I've been wanting to do certain things to the house and the things within it.  You know how it is.  You see something in a store or, more frequently for me, online/in a blog and think "Ahhh, that's something I need to do/have/pester my husband into making for me".  For me this is especially the case when I'm visiting crafty blogs.

I can't stand crafty blogs for two reasons: One, because they make me feel like less of a person because I haven't yet attempted a DIY version of that famous Pottery Barn mirror.  Two, because they fill my head with all sorts of ideas which will make me believe for a second or two that I could actually make happen what they've accomplished.  Then I'll remember that I'm not that handy and have no working knowledge of power tools and Modge Podge, and feel like even less of a person.

(Just kidding.  I totally dig crafty blogs and follow a ton of them, like A Soft Place to Land and Living with Lindsay and The Nester and Somewhat Simple, if only to live vicariously.  But they do make me feel like a slacker, even if they are totally inspirational.)

So, with the combined powers of crafty/decorating blogs and the fact that I have nowhere to hang my bathrobe so it just gets draped wherever it lands, I present to you:

My Household To Do List
(cue trumpets and clanging cymbals here)

This is an ongoing list which I plan to keep in order to remember just what that "A HA!" moment was all about three weeks ago when I was blog hopping and saw something that totally caught my eye and made me fantastize about just how much better my life would be if I had the same thing but which was completely forgotten about, like, 5 minutes later because I got hungry and the battle of Food I Should Eat vs. Food I Want But Shouldn't Actually Eat recommenced in my head.

This list includes such small things as buying hooks for the inside of the bedroom closet (thus clearing up the great bathrobe debacle), slightly more involved tasks such as spraypainting the little corner rack in the kitchen (currently black, want it to be white), and more time-consuming tasks like painting many of the walls in the house.  Just every little thing that crosses my mind will be written down on my list so I can keep track of the ideas I've had and the tasks which have been completed by either me or Rob.  I would hope that seeing the completed ideas/tasks will serve as inspiration to keep going.  And "Look what we made happen" will take the place of "Wouldn't it be nice if...".

So, either I'm going to ride this "New and Improved Me" thing for the rest of my life or I'm gonna burn out by the end of the month. I'm interested to see how this plays out.

How about you? Do you have a list of to-do's for chores? The house? Your relationships? Or just for yourself? If not, how do you keep track of the things you need to do?

Also! Do you have a favorite craft or decorating blog? Tell me about it!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Drunk Cooking = NO

My original intention was to write this post about me and my past shenanigans when it came to drinking, because there were a lot.  But as I paged through the misty, bourbon-infused memories, one particularly unhappy memory popped up which had nothing to do with my own drinking.

#3 - Drunk

At the time of this incident, I was college and living in an apartment with two other girls.  We hadn't been close friends prior to moving in together - it was more a matter of convenience, as I needed a place to stay when my original plans fell through.  Still, they were friendly girls and I knew them fairly well (we were all Theatre students and in a program like that, you can't help but get to know each other - I think I had seen them both naked at this point, in fact).

All along, I knew that S was a big drinker.  It was a fact which we all were pretty much aware of.  She would come to cast parties and drink everyone else's liquor.  There were so many people milling around that no one was paying attention, until folks went to pick up their bottles from the kitchen shelf at the end of the night and noticed that there was less then there should have been.  They'd compare notes - after all, almost everyone brought something for themselves, so there was no need to drink anyone else's unless it was offered.  Except for S.

At first we thought that since she was working at a restaurant & bar at the time, she may have already been halfway drunk when she arrived.  Plus, she was a tiny little thing - a little over 5 feet tall, pretty thin.  It wouldn't take much to knock her over. 

By the time we were living together I knew this wasn't just a matter of a tiny girl not knowing her limit.  Looking back, though, it was nothing bigger than an annoyance at the time for my other roommate and me.  She just came off as a stereotypical college student who drank too much.

Then came the night of my birthday party.  A bunch of friends came over after hanging out at a kareoke bar and we did super awesome exciting things like play board games.  We were animals, I tell you.  And several people brought, you guessed it, a bottle of their favorite drink.  At the end of the night those bottles were still sitting there on the kitchen counter...either as a gift or forgotten.  I fell asleep watching a movie on the couch.

An hour or so later, I woke up and smelled something burning.  We had a glass door leading out to a balcony and in its reflection I saw S slumped on the kitchen floor.  I went to the kitchen and found that she had been drinking while I was asleep and had gotten the great idea to make nachos in the oven.  At 500 degrees.  Then she threw up all over the kitchen.

Immediately I turned off the oven and yanked the stinking, smouldering pile of chips, cheese and beans out of there.  Then I turned to her, where she was now half-conscious on the floor.  I was so angry with her.  The months of not being able to keep a bottle of booze in the apartment for longer than a few days...the fact that she was always needing rides home from male coworkers who would spend the night and occasionally lose their way and end up in my all came to a head that that moment.  Our other roommate wasn't home and if I had gone to bed in my room instead of falling asleep the way I did? I don't even wanna think about it.  Plus the kitchen was an absolute wreck of food and spilled liquor and vomit. 

I was furious, but she wasn't hearing me, of course.  She was just telling me how much she'd wanted nachos and how they were ruined now and did I want a drink? And my anger disappeared, to be replaced with sadness.  It was such a pitiful situation.  Here she was, a bright, bubbly girl...reduced to this slurring mess with puke on her shirt.

I wound up having to pick her up and carry her to bed.  I took the ruined cookie sheet with its "nachos" out to the balcony and cleaned the kitchen, all the while alternately cursing her and feeling sorry for her.  I just couldn't believe the situation.  Things never got that bad afterwards - I don't know if she remembered any of it or not, but I never had to deal with one of her coworkers in the middle of the night again.

It's years later and I know that I'll never forget how sad the sight of her on that kitchen floor made me.  I moved out several months later and we fell out of touch.  She's doing fine now, or so I've heard from friends.  I really hope so.

Mama's Losin' It


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lack of Technology = Unnecessary Drama

I had a moment today on the train when my iPod played several 80's songs in a row.  "Lost In Your Eyes", "Take On Me", "Eternal Flame".  I remarked on Twitter that it was as if my iPod had gone back in time, but wouldn't that be weird - an iPod in the 80's.

I then remembered watching "The Great Outdoors" last week with Rob, and how he made a comment about how much easier things would have gone for the son in the movie if there had been cell phones in use back then - he could have texted his girlfriend and let her know he was running late, instead of her thinking he'd stood her up.  But no.  Lack of technology = unnecessary drama.

It's weird, thinking back to a time when there weren't cell phones and iPods.  It wasn't all that long ago.  To talk to your friends, you had to pick up the house phone and then get yelled at for tying up the line.  If I had a nickel for every time my Dad made the "wrap it up" signal (consisting of making an exaggerated circular motion with his hand while wearing an exasperated expression on his face, regardless of how long you'd been on the phone)...well, I'd be knee-deep in nickels, that's what.  And there's the time my brother was getting on my case and being obnoxious because he wanted to get on the phone, to the point where I snapped and whacked him on the arm with the receiver (of course he cried about it like I'd broken his arm).  Again, drama which could have been avoided had we all had cells.

Think about the crap that could have been avoided in films if only there were cell phones.  "An Affair to Remember" may have ended a lot less tearfully if only Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr had been able to send a quick text or voicemail (but then Kleenex sales would suffer).

And historically? Forget it.  Think of the rest poor Paul Revere's horse (and backside, let's be honest) would have gotten if he could have sent a mass text, tweet or status update on Facebook about the British coming. 

Which sorta reminds me of something my brother and I laughed about one night over the summer.  We were at the library and there was a portrait on the wall of Abraham Lincoln wearing a leather jacket.  We got on the topic of Lincoln's Facebook updates if Facebook existed back then.  "Can't wait for 'Our American Cousin' tonight @ Ford Theater - see you there!" - and then, underneath,  "J.W. Booth Likes This".

And don't even get me started on visiting the library and making 5 cent copies of encyclopedia articles for school reports.  Oh my God.  Kids have it so easy.  I hate them.

In closing, although I believe that technology will in fact someday be the cause of our demise (see: Skynet, which is becoming more and more likely with each passing decade...I wonder if James Cameron had any idea how close to the mark he'd come), I also believe that it clears up all the stupid misunderstandings and frustration which used to litter our lives before it.  So now we have all this extra time. 

To spend on Twitter.


This Is What Happens When I Try At Life

As is usually the case, the new year has filled me with all sorts of ideas.

Or rather, the impending new year filled me with all sorts of ideas last month.

Either way, stuff's happening.  Good stuff.

This weekend, Rob and I are going to move me over to my new Wordpress site! Yippee! (I say that now - who knows how it will actually turn out or how close either of us will come to murder or computer carnage once it's all said and done.)  I'm so excited about it, and I love him for all the time and effort he's put into this design.  So the new domain will *hopefully* go live next week after tweakage.  I can't wait!

After the new site is a go and all is working well, I'll be kicking off a new series.  The idea for this new series came into being as a result of my brainstorming over how I could try to add something to the blogsphere.  After all, it's important to offer something to readers besides tales of my social ineptness and how much I like to cook and eat yummy things. 

Then later that afternoon I happened to overhear a conversation in my office regarding one coworker's inability (unwillingness?) to cook.  She claimed that she relied a lot on takeout and frozen entrees since she had never taken the time to learn to cook.

And it hit me.  How many people really don't know how to cook? And I don't mean fancy stuff - I mean the basics.  Roasting a chicken.  Cooking fluffy rice.  And then on to slightly more challenging/less practiced stuff like baking homemade bread (which is a totally worthwhile endeavor, trust me if you haven't tried it yourself).  I think it's easy to take for granted this knowledge if, like me, you find yourself hungry to learn everything you can.  I mean, I was watching my mom make dinner every night for years - I would just stand there and watch her and she would ask me why (like in a "Why are you staring at me" sort of way.  Just kidding.  Maybe).  Other kids were probably spending their time doing kid things.  I was buying my mom a spice rack for Christmas which I used more than she did.

So starting this month (date still TBD based upon the process of launching the new site), I'll be offering a weekly series called Cooking Basics.  In this series you'll see simple, basic techniques and recipes which can help any home cook step up their game a little bit.  For instance, I'll explain a basic technique (for instance, a roux), then take it a step further if possible (bechamel sauce), then use it in a dish (like lasagna).  And of course I would love as much feedback as possible, not to mention ideas for future entries.

I'll be giving more information on this as the launch grows closer.  I'm really excited about it and I hope you will be as well!

I'm really thrilled that Rob had the great idea for me to buy an inexpensive, portable mini studio to take my pictures with - I had thought about building a light box but of course he's much more cut-to-the-chase than I am.  That should be coming in tomorrow so I'll soon be taking much prettier shots!

Also, I have a new gig in the works! I'm still waiting for the odds and ends to be ironed out, but once they are I'll be starting a paid writing job at a really cool website.  Stay tuned for more details on that!

Oh, and in case you were wondering: The cooking will continue.  I know I haven't posted any new recipes on here in a while, mainly because we've been existing solely on holiday leftovers and pasta for the past couple of weeks (true story).  This weekend, though, I'll be making my faaaaavorite Indian dish of all time (incidentally, one of only two or three Indian dishes I've ever eaten).  So get your salivary glands ready for that!

How about YOU? Any big changes happening as a result of the new year?


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Cultivating Drive

My friend Alicia over at A Beautiful Mess is, as always, a source of great inspiration.  She was inspired to focus on just one word which she will then use in as many aspects of her life as possible.  Her word is "simplicity".  I think that's a great word - too much of life is full of stuff, of things to do, of self-imposed burdens.  We probably all need to set a burden or two down and live a bit more simply.

So here I am, two days into a brand-spanking new year, wondering if I should pick a word and what that word should be.

But here's the rub, friends.  I can't focus on just one word.  It's too much for me.  There are so many areas of my life which need help.  At least, that's how it seems from my point of view.  My health, my finances, my goals.  Not to mention the bed that never gets made, the laundry that piles up on the bedroom floor, the overflowing kitchen cabinets that don't quite close, the kitchen drawers which don't open without some effort because they too are overflowing with nonsense.  I feel completely unfulfilled in my job.  I know that I have talents which are going unused or underused as a result of my insecurity, combined with a more-than-healthy dose of laziness.

All of this thinking over the muddled and criss-crossed roads which compose my life has led me to create a visual depiction of the mess in my head:

Yeah.  It all boils down to laziness.

So I went on the interwebs and looked up the opposite of laziness.  The word which speaks most clearly to me is:


Drive is the one quality I'm lacking most, and always have.  For as long as I can remember I've envied driven people and wondered what they had and how I could attain it.  Drive is what gets stuff done.  It's what makes a goal achievable.  And it's not something I've ever recognized in myself.

My word for 2011 is drive.  It's finding the strength and sticktoitiveness within myself to move forward in all aspects of my life.  And in a funny coincidence, drive can be taken literally as well, since I'm still struggling with my fear of driving - yet another hurdle to overcome this year. drive something you can cultivate? A habit which can be developed? Or is it something you have to be born with and are basically SOL if you weren't?

What do you think? Are you a driven person by nature, or is it something you have to work on? Is there any hope for me?