I probably won't be able to move tomorrow

I was a little nervous before meeting my new trainer tonight, my beloved old trainer moved to be with her fiance. Which was great for her but a bit of a bummer for me since I would have to break in a whole new trainer. Usually the breaking in involves a lot of hazing- there may be some old school greek-style paddling and general drunkenness.

When I emailed him I might have made him laugh when I was shockingly honest:

"Ideally I'd love to lose another 20 pounds but I also realize that might be an entirely too lofty goal considering my love of food in general."

And that is true, I'd love to drop another 20- but I really do like food and while I eat within reason I'm not that willing to cut things out that I truly love. Like cheese. Currently I have 5 different types of cheese in my fridge as evidence of that, and while every meal isn't a cheese laden feast I do eat it several time a week.

But enough about cheese...

My new trainer, Mike, kicked my ass. He kicked my ass up and down that gym and I loved every minute of it. So much so that I think I'm going to up my training sessions from twice a month to once a week. Perhaps I'm a bit of a masochist but I really think that he can help me meet my goals for next tri season. Plus make my ass look hot.

Speaking of that, I do believe I might have embarrassed him just a bit when he told "that I like you kicking my ass" and "no, Tracy had me do the version were my ass was pointed skyward."

Could I mention my bottom one more time?


Denizens of Hell

I'm slowly getting back on my feet after that rough week, but I still feel very unwitty not 100% like myself yet. I'd thought to hold off writing until I reach optimal-skeezixness but I have a tendency to be an impatient bitch so here I am- writing.

Friday night was blissfully quiet, I sat on the patio and read a book for several hours. The only downside being that I am apparently a tasty buffet for little bugs and am now covered in bites. Very itchy bites. Saturday was one of our birthday shopping excursions this time for Kate. It was an interesting start to the trip when we came across an SUV on fire on the freeway. Like full flames shooting towards the sky, car totally engulfed. Besides being a tiny bit frightening it was more than a bit mesmerizing.

Shopping with the ladies is always a challenge because I go into it with the best resolve not to buy anything and yet still always walk away with something. This time it was these perfect little shoes.

Saturday night was Kate's Dance Party Birthday event, and of course I somehow managed to end up completely drunk. I honestly don't know how it happened, I was totally fine, totally fine and the minute I got home the room started spinning and felt awful. But prior to that I had a fantastic time, I danced my ass off (in my new shoes and was rewarded with a blister and very hurty feet). It was a model theme so there were all sorts of weird outfits, I saw a sailor, a preppy j.crew style model, Vana wearing Kroger paper bags taped to her feet as shoes, and a man in Mexican wrestling mask.

The party was held at a friend's girlfriend's house (she still being in college) and the entire party was partially spent wandering around asking anyone if they had a bottle opener. I forgot that some college students only drink Natty Light and therefore don't even own a bottle opener. Some poor 18-year-old girl at the party drank one of my beers (yes, I was at a party with 18 year olds and I felt completely ancient) and several people offered to kick her ass. While annoying, I couldn't let a girl be roughed up over one bottle of Pacifico.  

Sunday morning I nursed a wicked hangover for quite a while, and then went for a drive with Yumi out to The Dutch Restaurant. And really there was nothing Dutch about it, more like a version of Cracker Barrel down to the odd, hokey gift shop attached to it. I still enjoyed my chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and mac and cheese.

There was this weird little pen with pygmy goats next to the restaurant and of course neither of us could pass up the chance to feed and pet them. Yumi declared them denizens of hell because of their odd shaped eyes, they have weird little horizontal shaped irises and it creeped us the hell out.

See the awful eyes that clearly mark them as a follower of Satan?

And lastly we stopped by the Canoe Livery and picked up some information for a future canoe trip we would like to take.

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It has just been one of those weeks. A week so bad and awful that I can't even bring myself to make fun of it, it's all I can do not to leave work and sit at home and cry (because I already did that yesterday).

Oh, for the love of Christ.

Sarah , pointed out this article and apparently national weeklong holiday to celebrate being single. She has a brillant post on it and since she is vastly superior writer than I am I'll let you read her recap/rant about it with only adding these few choice thoughts of my own:

First, it makes me sad to be an Ohioan since a group of them started this bullshit. And secondly it makes me sad to be a member of the human race when someone tells me this is my week to "hang out with friends and go get a great haircut!"

I didn't know I was supposed to be limiting my haircuts to once a year or my ability to hang out with friends to one single week. Assholes.

I guess after this Saturday I should shutter myself away in hermatic solitude.


The verdict:

The high pitched squeels of my nieces proclaim the carrot cake cookies a hit. (Although I may now be partially deaf since their voices can reach Mariah Cary levels of ear-splitting-dome.)

I was unsure since I actually didn't eat any of the cookies myself as my appetite fled about a week ago and I've not wanted to eat a single thing (hence the two glasses of wine for dinner last night).

One neice down, one more to go.


Dish-pan hands

I went into cooking overdrive this weekend, spurred on by cooler temps that allowed me to turn the oven on. There were cheese crackers, carrot cake cookies, tortilla de patatas and minor prep work for several other dishes. And the dishes, oh, the dishes. I swear I washed everything at least 3 times this weekend. Possibly more, hence the poor, rough state of my hands.

I missed the farmer's market last week because of a shopping trip to Parkersburg (with it's real mall), and this week it was like a whole different scene. Gourds and squashes galore! I couldn't find a single zucchini anywhere and the peaches had been replaced with apples. I'm not complaining but it was just another sign (like the cooler weather) that fall is upon us.

I've been a bit of a neglectful aunt as of late, my oldest niece's birthday was at the end of July and I promised to make her cookies for it. But with the triathlon being at the end of July as well (and the ridiculous heat) all cookie making was put on hold. Now, though, my other niece's birthday is Friday and I was in danger of having the whole best-aunt-ever title fall from my hands if I totally cocked up didn't have at least one of their birthdays done.

My sister helpfully supplied the information that her kids had just discovered carrot cake and they love it. So I set about to come up with a carrot cake cookie since actual cake would not travel well, neither would cream cheese frosting. So I improvised a bit, using the oreo cookie frosting and culling together a recipe for the cookies. I hope like hell she likes them.

These cookies are heavy on the spice so if you are delicate flower when it comes to fall-esque spices please reduce the quantities. Also, they are very nutty- another personal preference and sans raisins because my sister was unsure of how the kids would feel about cooked raisins.

Carrot Cake Cookies

1 cup of walnuts (or pecans)
1 cup of grated carrot (finely)

1 stick of butter (room temp)
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/3 white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup of flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat oven to 375.

Cream together the butter and sugar, once light and fluffy add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. I roasted my pecans in the oven just for a moment and then coarsely chopped them. Add the nuts and finely grated carrot to the butter/sugar mixture and stir to incorporate.

In a separate mixing bowl, gather all your dry ingredients and then combine them with the wet. At this point I've ditched the mixer and go for my rubber spatula, it helps prevent me from over-working the dough.

Using a 1/2 ounce disher, scoop and place onto a parchment (or silplat) lined cookie sheet. Why? Because I'm very lazy and scraping cookie bits off my sheets is my least favorite kitchen activity. Ever.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cookies have gotten a bit brown at the edges. These cookies won't spread too terribly much, which is fine with me since I prefer them to be moist little heaps of goodness. But if you would prefer a thinner cookie, then by all means you should flatten them a bit before they go into the oven.

Cool completely.

Oreo Frosting

1/4 vegetable shorting
1/2 stick of butter (room temp)
2 cups confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Again, cream the veg shortening and butter together and slowly add the confectioners sugar and vanilla. Whip until light a fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Wiping down the bowl intermittently to make sure everything receives the same treatment.

After the cookies have cooled, line them up- bottom side facing you. Fill a pastry bag with the frosting (or just use a ziplock bag with a tiny corner snipped off as I do). Create a circle of frosting on the bottoms of half the cookies. I usually start with the outer circle and fill the center in a sort of swirling motion.

Press the be-frostinged halves with the unfrosted cookies.

I make a double batch of the cookie portion and it will yield about 30 sandwich cookies. So you could expect 15 sandwich cookies from a single batch. A single batch of frosting will more than amply cover 30 sandwich cookies.

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Lacy LaPlant

Last night I was sitting in my living room when my neighbor came to the door, there he found me sitting on the floor little piles of white powder all around me.

To an outsider I'm sure it looked like I was doing lines of blow off my floor, but really I've got higher standards than that.

Instead it was just another act of clumsiness on my part, I dropped a box of baking soda on the floor and was attempting to sweep it up.

And of course earlier in the day I told a coworker that I was taking a can of solvent from the work room to go back to my photo studio and huff it to get high. She laughed and said she'd be right there to join in. Sometimes working here really is awesome, mostly because they me say wildly inappropriate things and I don't get fired.

Fajitas and Cake

First off I've got to say, Browns, if this is how you are going to perform this season I'm massively disappointed. It's the Steelers and the home opener and the best you could fucking do is 7 points?

I've not done a cooking post in a good long time (cooking club not-withstanding), but really I've not been cooking a whole lot. The heat is getting me down and when that happens food is usually the last thing on my mind (beer and other adult beverages on the other hand are an entirely different story).

But there is something about the heat that lends itself to grilling, and when I get sick of the brats and burgers I lean towards one thing- fajitas. Thinly sliced, medium rare steak with grilled peppers and onions, with the traditional toppings of guacamole and sour cream. And also since I've now got a gas stove I've been heating the tortillas on that so they are warm and pliant with just the tiniest bit of char.

I don't go in for a super heavy rub on the fajitas because I prefer not to overwhelm the natural taste of a good piece of streak. Instead I got with a simple marinade that plays well with all the flavors that will be in fajitas.

Fajita Marinade:
Flank Steak
2 teaspoons of cumin
2 teaspoons of coriander
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Marinate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight. Sear steak on a hot grill until it reaches your preferred doneness.

Not that the above is much of a recipe but what follows for the rest is less of recipe than most. I slice a bunch of peppers, if I'm lucky I can pick up some different colors at the farmer's market. I combine those with sliced onions and toss onto the grill. Unfortunately this is the part I've still not managed to master: not losing a majority of these through the grates of the grill.

As for the guacamole, it is a deeply personal issue to say the least, there are those that prefer to add tomatoes, onion and garlic to theirs. Personally I'm more a purist, I don't want anything getting between me and avocados. So I just go for simple lime juice, salt and mashed avocado.

But really, I'm longing for cooler temps and comfort food. I could go in for some low 60's, maybe even 50's where I can cozy up to a bowl of stew, cabbage rolls or even a good pot roast dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy.

Instead I consoled myself with cake. Not usually a cake fan, this dark, dense beauty is heavy but still fairly unsweet. I don't care for cakes and other sweets that make my teeth hurt, instead I prefer something that is sweet but still a hint of savory buried in it's depths. I think Guinness and chocolate are a natural pairing, and I must thank Nigella Lawson for this most fantastic recipe (which I've made so many times in the last year the book naturally opens to that slightly beer stained page that holds the recipe).

It doesn't hurt that I wanted to do some photography this weekend that didn't involve tiny little pieces of guitars. Although I am not happy with what I shot, I blew out the white of the frosting and just couldn't get into the groove of shooting (I can't even believe I'm going to post these actually I'm so embarrassed). It was highly dissappointing since I'd hauled all the equipment to shoot in my kitchen, but at least at the end of the shoot I got to eat cake, right?

Nigella Lawson
Chocolate Guinness Cake

For the Cake:
1 cup Guinness
1 stick but 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 unsweetened cocoa
2 cups of superfine sugar
3/4 sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda

For the Topping:
8-oz of cream cheese
1 1/4 cups of confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter and line a 9 inch spring-form pan.

Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter in slices and heat the until the butter until melted at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and baking soda.

Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.

When the cake is cold, sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the frosting. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sift over the confectioners' sugar and them beat them together (I use less sugar than called for because, again, I don't go for overly sweet frostings). Or do this in the processor, putting in the confectioners' sugar first and blitz to remove lumps before adding the cheese.

Add the cream and then beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.

(Now if you do follow my suggestion for less sugar, which is what gives this frosting it's bit of stiffness be prepared that it might be more malleable that you expect if you add the full measure of cream. Of course you can always cut back on the cream and depending on my devotion to my health that day I occasionally do but otherwise I just deal with a slightly softer frosting. Either way I've had no complaints when it comes to this cake.)

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Living alone

First off I need to wish my sister a very happy birthday. I love you dearly and hope you get your wish of James' football team kicking the Colts asses (you are such a sports-mom). Eat some of that delicious bread pudding from the restaurant tonight for me, ok?

On with the regular post, there are just so many things I've discovered about living alone that I like, I knew deep down I would love it and really, it's pretty damn awesome. I've been composing a list of things that I love the most, goddamnit, can I say love one more time? Ptthh.

That no one minds if I decide that I want to make pickled okra at 10:30 on a Saturday night while wearing my nightgown.

I love that when I come home from work I can take off my pants just because I can. I'm quickly becoming accustomed to not having to wear pants at home, at first it was just taking off the bra but I've moved onto my pants. Fuck, does this mean I'm just a few articles of clothing from becoming "that naked person". Do other people so freely walk around sans pants (or sans clothes?), is this a phenomenon I've been missing out on my whole life because I've always had roommates? Please inform me if this is case, that way I can shed some of my guilt at loving the pantlessness.

An aside: Sans pants the other day (but wearing girl boxers) I almost ran out to the garage to grab some more paper towels. Everything was covered and I started to dash out the door and stopped. Why, because there was a funeral going on next door (I live next to a funeral home) and I didn't think people in mourning need to see me without my pants on- they've clearly got enough grief in their life. Although they may have thought it hilarious, perhaps I should have.

No roommate silently judges me when I have just beer for dinner. Listen, it's chocolate stout so it's totally like a food, ok?

I can have parties and not have to clear it with anyone else or wait till the students are gone on holiday. Also I don't have to explain my odd living situation or have a bunch of college aged girls press me for answers to whether or not I let boys stay over in my room or if I drink or if I have friends. (I cannot explain enough the joy I have that I am no longer a sorority house mother.)

I love that I come home to silence, unless I change it. I love that it wasn't hard at all to live without cable or internet for 3 months, and it opened my eyes to how much TV I had previously been vegging out to.

It's great to have friends over any time and sit on my patio drinking wine and talking until the sun sets.

I hate that my landlord has already asked me to sign a contract for 2008-2009, and I'm supposed to make that decision today. I love my place but I can't commit to living in Athens until June of 2009. I just can't, I know I'm going to move on at some point so there is no point really in completely screwing myself and being stuck paying rent on a place I'm not living in (there is no lease breaking in this town). If anything this is going to keep the heat on for me to press on in the job search.


Sweet Little Corn Muffins

You know it is going to be a good weekend when you end up laughing so hard at Happy Hour Euchre that you can't breathe. I'm not even going to attempt to tell the story because it will not seem as funny in hindsight but really, anything involving quoting Phil Collins lyrics during a breakup has to be pretty awesome- right?

Unfortunately, I had my ass handed to me in both games of Euchre. Which is terrible, since usually I'm a pretty damn good player. I'm going to blame laughter and Leinkugals Sunset Wheat, oh, and Phil Collins. Because really, that man needs to take responsibility for the atrocities of Sussudio and No Son Of Mine.

After the ass handing I invited everyone back to my place for a make your own grilled pizza, which was to pacify some friends who hadn't gotten a chance to have the grilled pizza at cooking club (because we're exclusive like that). I had a variety of toppings and because I know how much you all care I shall list them all here: green peppers, fresh mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, bacon, pineapple, feta, goat cheese, pepperoni and olive oil. Then in a stroke of genius I rooted around in my cupboards and came up with a cinnamon and sugar pizza and then one with raspberry preserves and fresh sliced peaches. All in all it was pretty damn amazing and we, as a group of 8, managed to kill 10 pizzas (in our defense- they were small pizzas).

Saturday was a blur of allergies, but Sunday was pretty 'effing awesome. I picked Kate up around noon and we took back roads to Logan's (and southern Ohio's) only BBQ joint. The drive was pretty amazing, it makes me happy that I live in such an awesomely hilly place with the Midget. Right now that stretch of road is my favorite and Sunday's ride was the best of the season. The BBQ on the other hand was sub-par. Sure the sweet lil' corn-muffins were good, and the sweet potato fries were excellent but the pulled pork. Oh, the pulled pork was under-seasoned and not the least bit smoky. Plus the sauces offered weren't very good either. I'm one seriously picky bitch when it comes to pulled pork, it's almost damn near a religion to me. And frankly my pulled pork was better than the stuff that they offered, which is pretty pathetic considering they actually have a smoker and I do not.

But even that wasn't able to dampen the perfection of the weather and miles and miles of good road. Which we took straight to Summer's pool, and there is nothing better than a dip in the pool after a long, hot drive (well except for a cold shower and shower-beer). To wrap things up into a little pretty bow I went and saw Superbad, which was hilarious. Between the smiling non-stop in the afternoon and the laughter because of the movie my face physically hurt.

Monday, oh, Monday. The last glorious day of my mini-vacation was spent in Summer's pool drinking beer. But things took a disastrous turn when I got home at 6:30 though, somehow the sun and beer all caught up to me in 20 minutes and I almost passed out in my nachos. Really, I pushed them out of the way and had to put my head down on the table because the room was spinning. Eventually things righted themselves to the point that I didn't feel like the floor was tilting out from under me and made it to the couch and promptly passed out. My kitchen yesterday morning looks like a bomb went off in it, I almost started crying because I hate a messy kitchen.

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend.

Now I will harass you all with photos.

Manning the grill during the grilled pizza extravaganza:

Kate and I mid-drive (with her adorable pigtails). I didn't realize I'd left so little to the imagination with that dress- next time I might as well go topless.

Look at the miles and miles of curvy, dippy road:

The corn muffins:

Look how small the Midget looks:

Kate and I with Lake Logan in the back (note the awesome hair):

And because I could never resist a dare or apparently, a perfect hill to roll down (yes, I flashed people and I made Kate delete the photos):

And lastly there was the pool:

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Forget being behind the lens anymore, I think now that I've perfect my pose I'm ready for the Sears catalog. This will work in a variety of situations, staring off into the distance while at the beach and wearing a two piece knit ensemble or even at a casually elegant dinner party wearing a black velvet dress with a sweetheart neckline.

I should probably smile though and try not look like a huge bitch.

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