December 30, 2013

Dream House Tag

I love tags...I do them in my head but never post them. This is for future reference just like everything else here! Tag if you're reading! This is originally from one of my favorite blogs: - she's wonderful, especially if you're a wax-lover!

Build Your Dream House Tag

1. Acreage or City Lot?
Doesn't matter! I live currently in a small suburban area (one where the houses are all different rather than cookie-cut from the same stuff) and I enjoy it. I have neighbors at all angles but no bother. I don't know how comfortable I'd feel living out on a huge piece of land with no one around, though.

2. Basement or Crawlspace?
I wouldn't mind a basement! I've never had one. At the moment, there's a crawlspace but never ever shall I see it. I don't do small spaces.

3. Attached or Detached Garage?
I have also never had a garage. I would love an attached garage but it doesn't even have to be closed in. I would just love to park my car inside and away from the elements.

4. Wood or Vinyl Siding?
Vinyl is more sturdy, right? Vinyl.

5. Brick or Stone Accents?
Stone would be nice and rustic. Bricks would be nice, too - I am neutral on this one.

6. One, Two or Three Story?
One floor. I don't like stairways - not because of the walk but they're creepy as all hell to me. I wouldn't mind a recessed den or dining room like small steps in a house, that would be awesome and cozy.

7. Hardwood floor, Tile or Carpet on main floors?
Real, finished hardwood. We've always had the peel-and-stick stuff or the clap-together boards. No carpet ever anywhere in life. Ever. That's what rugs are for!

8. How Many Bedrooms?
Just two would be nice as long as it's just me. I've always wanted to fix up a guest room. 

9. How Many Bathrooms?
One great, big bathroom attached to the master bedroom and one smaller but full bathroom to go with the guest bedroom.

10. Walk-in-closet or En-suite?

11. Jacuzzi tub or Separate Shower?
Both - it's a dream house, should I have to choose?

12. Gas or Electric Stove?
Electric, I guess.

13. Cherry, Oak, or White Kitchen Cupboards?
White...I love a bright, clean, white surface to anything.

14. Cozy Eating Nook or Large Dining Room?
Again, why can't I have both? I would love a tiny breakfast and coffee nook (with a DIY coffee bar!) and a slightly larger, maybe six-seater dining room area. Nothing huge!

15. Office or Guest Room?
Guest room!

16. Bright Modern Colors or Neutral Hues?
Neutral (I love ivories and taupes) - an easy palette to play with and bright, playful accent colors!

17. Curtains or Blinds?
We've always had both. Right now, I've got sheer black curtain panels and heavy wooden venetian blind - love them. So again, both!

18. Home gym or Kids' Playroom? kids, ever (another post, for sure), and if I had a home gym, it wouldn't get used. I might set up a treadmill in the guest room but otherwise, neither of these things.

19. Swimming pool, Hot Tub or Swing Set?
None? None of these things sound like fun. I'd like an outdoor fire pit with a few comfy outdoor seats and maybe a barbeque and bar outside, too? Stocked, please!

20. Flower Garden or Vegetable Garden?
I've always wanted a nice, big (flourishing) veggie garden!

December 28, 2013

Cosmetic Line-Cutters

Line-cutters, here, meaning short cuts or tricks that no one really talks about or maybe they do, but these are my favorites. A quick list - hopefully - that you can refer to.
  • Cream blush can double as a lip color and lip color can double as a cream blush. For lip color, rub some on the back of your hand and pick it up with a blush brush or fingers and dabble on the cheaks. 
  • Mascara can be many things: with an angle brush it can be a liner on top and bottom, it can be used to tame dark-hued brows or set them into place, or of course, as mascara. (Too, if you've got dark hair, use mascara to tame fly-aways around the hairline.)
  • Used up a mascara? Clean up the wand with remover and soap and water to use as a spoolie.
  • Use that mascara wand (cleaned, of course) as a spoolie to tame brows, comb through mascara, tame fly-aways around the hairline. Spritz with hairspray or dabble on some hair gel for a little hold if using on the hair or brows. 
  • Brow powder is a magical thing, too. Use it for brows, eye shadow, liner, and contouring! Contouring powder or bronzer can be used for the inverse. 
  • If your skin isn't super-sensitive to silicas, silica powder is amazing as a setting agent.
  • Witch hazel is a wonderful makeup remover and is a lot gentler than astringent alcohols. 
  • Moisturize fully before makeup primers and makeup in general. Lips, too!
  •  My routine for quickness and efficiency: shower, brush teeth, moisturize, blow-dry, make-up, style, lips and fragrance very last.
  • Nails smudge mid-drying stage? Lick it - seriously, if it's not too wet, you can use your tongue to push smooth it over. Google this. It works, I promise. 
  • Un-coated junk aspirin has great exfoliating properties. I don't recommend using it as a mask because your skin sucks up things like that. But do put about five in your hand, soak them in warm water and allow them to dissolve. Mix this with your cleanser or use it straight-up, it's wonderful! Use infrequently, this is pretty tough stuff!
  • Sugar does the same as the above but it's most abrasive! Be careful. (Use on legs before and after shaving, too, as a scrub or all over with body wash, it works wonderfully!)
  • Sugar and lemon make a great facial scrub. Lemon will brighten and fade acne and freckles, sugar will scrub away dead skin and reveal fresh, new skin. 
I'll continue to add to this list when I'm not so tired.

10 More Things...

...that you should know about your neighborhood deli or any restaurant for that matter. I am no longer a waitress but I sure as hell feel like one most days. Here to lay it all out there once again after this recent job-change. This applies to dining out altogether. I now work at a high-volume deli chain that processes several hundreds of dollar per hour in a town of about 10,000 people...doesn't sound like much but when all of these people decide to come eat at the same damn time...uh...yes. A few things need to be said.
Again, from the bottom:

10. Come during rush-hour. We're fully staffed and ready to go at peak hours (11-2, and again at 5-8 in most stores). I'd love a table of 20 during lunch rush far better than a table of 20 after I've got things cleaned up and sent everyone home. 

09. I hate when I've got plenty of clean tables but the one you want to sit at is dirty and you need me to pull away from what I'm doing to come clean it up. I'm on my way but damn-it, pick a clean table if you'd like to sit at a clean table!

08. Please don't come behind the counter! During peak hours, I may be slow at getting you whatever it is you need but with a customer moving to get their own stuff from behind my work space is hazardous to everyone.

07. Fast-food and quick-serve are two different things. Figure out your time limitations before going to dine-out.

06. This is going to be a long one. As hourly employees and as a manager, myself, we get hours docked or pay cuts or written up when there are major complaints that go directly to corporate. We do all we can as employees - they hired us as hospitality workers - one such instant in which a Sunday rush brought about a 20-minute wait-time for a couple of people, the gentleman that asked about his food was told it would be another two minutes (and it was, not a second longer). He sat down and immediately sent the owner of the company a novel concerning his wait-time and thereafter pointed out all the trifling other details he didn't like about the restaurant as well. This trickles down onto the hourly-paid workers like fire. We got hell for this. Before writing complaints, ask to speak to a manager on duty- I'm always willing to go above and beyond so that you're happy before you leave! That's what they pay me to do! I can't give you back time but I can make it up to you one way or another. The gentleman went over my head, I didn't have a chance to fix anything. 20-minutes, during peak, isn't bad at all for us and our regulars know that. Sure, shame on me for not noticing they were from out of town and on a "schedule" of some sort but shame on them for not voicing complaints to the immediate managers who could have saved everyone a bit of heart-ache.

05. Customer: "Oh, you're out of _____?"
      Employee: "Yes, I'm sorry."
      Customer: "You know, they sell _____ down the street."
This is the most pointless exchange of words I'll ever encounter. Restaurants depend on deliveries and bulk food delivery services are probably the most poorly organized industries ever. They leave things off of the order, they'll send yogurt instead of fresh fruit, they don't send enough of something we ordered plenty of, etc. I have no control over this as an hourly and if they sell _____ down the street, don't expect me to go get it. Unapproved products and brands in the store can cost me my job. 

04. No one in any restaurant ever has ever been excited for customers 10-minutes before closing. It's not just me, as a cashier, but my cooks are trying to go home, my dishwasher is trying to go home, and hell, I'm trying to go home but coming in to sit down 10-5 minutes before I lock the doors is something I find nearly insulting. My hours are posted on the door. And personally, I won't bother with a restaurant that's closing down. In clean-up mode, it's better to just walk away. I'll get you a drink, I'll sell you some of the finest pre-packaged deserts, chips, cookies, anything, to go! But don't make us cook during this time. It'll suck for us and you, I promise.

03. Know when to leave. Squatting at a table for three hours is fine but don't do it an hour before close and complain that someone's sweeping near your table and the place is starting to smell like bleach. We have to clean up, lock up, and go home on time.

02. If your kid is shy, doesn't want to talk directly to whomever is taking the order, whispering, or if he or she can't choose - pick for them! As a parent or guardian, you know what they'll eat and what they won't eat. If your little one is holding up the line trying to choose between a pizza or salad or if I can't hear what the hell they're saying because they're scared to tell to me for whatever reason, pick for them.

01. Once again - we're all human, customers and employees alike. I know who's worked in food and who hasn't. Those who've worked in food generally have more patience and sympathy. It's a great job most of the time but there's a few people who make it hard on us and makes us rethink it all before clocking out and going home. Trust us - most of us know what we're doing. 


...was great this year, as is every year. So very thankful for my family and friends and this year, it was spent with them because my job-change this year has put me in such a better place where the hours don't bring me to tears.

I got lots of stuff but most importantly, I got to spend lots of time at home with those that claim me (thank God - no one else will)! Christmas gifts included a deluxe dozen cupcake baker (in the color pink, no less) that'll cook a batch in about eight minutes! Very excited! Cash - always nice, gas is going to go fast next semester, and a table and chairs that I've been wanting. And my parents finally got me a heated blanket that I didn't know I needed until well, now, my tootsies are nice and cozy.

I also gave a lot of stuff this year, too, giving is the part I like about Christmas. I love shopping for others - I start in September, most years! It's always nice to see someone's face light up after opening a well-thought out gift. It it selfish that I shop for others just for inner satisfaction of the concept that I have made their day? Ha.

Just stopping in to round up December. I'm about to post another "list." This is turning into a "list" blog. Oh, well. I hope everyone had a safe, happy, loving Christmas with family and friends and if you didn't, I hope you're smiling for some reason or have some time before a new year to take for yourself. Enjoy what's left of 2013 and 2014, please be nice!


December 24, 2013

Favorite Holiday Movies

This is going to be more of a reference than a public post - we all have our favorites near and dear around the holidays. This is what I've watched since I was a wee-thing around Christmas in no particular order. A lot of these can be found on, Netflix, Youtube, or even Redbox brings back the classic ones around this time of year.
  1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) - the original cartoon is just a classic now and a must-watch, the one with Jim Carrey couldn't be more perfect. So fun and colorful!
  2. Christmas Story (1983) - a wonderful classic that really explains how children are feeling during the holidays, I think. Also, very funny!
  3. Elf (2003) - I don't mind Will Ferrell in this movie. As soon as I saw it, I knew it would be a yearly must-watch for the family and me. Cute movie for everyone. 
  4. Home Alone (1990) - perfect pair of movies for the holidays, the first and second. This one is so much fun to watch. 
  5. Home Alone 2 Lost in New York (1992) - because these came out around the year I was born, I think I've been watching these since before I could even remember and that's why I love them so. Perfectly executed movies that just get better with age. 
  6. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) - we watch this traditionally while decorating the tree after Thanksgiving and as a kid, you don't catch everything said but re-watching as an adult and every single year, it just gets funnier. 
  7. The Santa Claus (1994) - these are very much a feast for the eyes and explains what we all thought of Santa in the 90's if I'm honest. 
  8. The Santa Claus 2 (2002) - loved this one so much! So colorful and fun - the third one bums me out, I love the first pair of these movies, though. Kids would love these and adults can appreciate these. 
  9. Jingle All the Way (1996) - this movie is very cute and fun but my parents have watched this movie and sympathized. Dad is looking for this amazing toy all over that is sold out and it becomes a huge ordeal but ends wonderfully. Parents would have fun watching this with kids, I'm sure. 
  10. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) - this movie holds a special place in my heart for the Halloween aspect, I've been watching this since I was 3. It's a must-watch and must-appreciate because stop-motion is so incredible. Do watch this with your kids for the holidays, it's so different from the cartoons they have now.
  11. Look Who's Talking Now (1993) - oh, I hate that this list isn't an even 10 but I have to throw this in. I love this movie, it's so sweet. A must-watch for kids and parents alike, parents will appreciate it more, however. Very cute and fun and centered around family.

These are Christmas-themed episodes I enjoy from television shows - most of these can be found on Youtube or Hulu around this time of year. 
  1. Roseanne (1990s) - S5, EP12 - "No Place Like Home for the Holidays" - true, Roseanne is known for her Halloween episodes (I need to create a Halloween list like this, too) but her Christmas episodes brought out a raw, true feeling to it considering this family is the television equivalent to my own. It's nostalgic and truthful. S6, EP12 - "White Trash Christmas" - another raw episode considering the holidays. They go nuts with the crazy lights, again, my family! Also, there's an episode where Roseanne and Jackie are playing Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the mall, not sure which season or episode - it's further down in the seasons. Very funny and authentic. 
  2. Rugrats (1992) - S2, EP14 - "The Santa Experience" - this was my childhood. This particular episode can be found on Youtube but you have to invert your colors temporarily to watch it there. I do have the boxed sets (yes, I still watch them at 22) but this is more convenient honestly. Very fun for me as a kid at heart but as an adult, I can still appreciate the humor. 
  3. Full House (1980s, 1990s) - S2, EP9 - "Our Very First Christmas," and S6, EP12 - "A Very Tanner Christmas" - there are probably others, these are feel-good sitcom Christmas episodes and are going to be appealing to those that remembered the show. These are sickly-sweet but fun to re-watch if you can catch them on television. I can't find these online anywhere.
If I left anything out, sorry! These are my favorites. A lot of really authentic classics like Miracle of 34th Street, the Rudolf and Frosty cartoons, etc. haven't played a huge part in my childhood Christmases, therefore, they're not included in my holidays as an adult. I do hope you find something here you can relate to!

Likely until next year, ya'll...
Merry Christmas to you and yours!

December 8, 2013

Out of the Box

But I come bearing holiday desert and baking information. No pictures because I'm very lazy and normally the things I make come with excellent intentions but may or may not look the way I initially saw them on Pinterest. Blah. Alright, on with it then...

          For baking with boxed cake mixes:

Nothing is easier and there is no shame if you're incapable of reproducing a simple recipe your grandmother has given you in hopes of carrying on family food stuffs. Cake mixes from the grocery store are an easy (and super cheap!) way out. Add flare to cakes with simple, low-cost add-ins or swap-outs.
  • Tried and true! Add instant pudding mix to any boxed cake for a super-moist interior. Coordinate with the same flavored pudding or switch it up! I've added butterscotch pudding to chocolate cake mix, seasonal pumpkin pie pudding to spice cake mix, or Hershey's White Chocolate to anything, it's amazing! Do this with all the other box directions for a moist, fluffy cake!
  • Replace the water that is called for in basic cake mixes for a more rich, moist batter. True, it comes out a bit more dense (like when you add milk to scrambled eggs instead of a bit of water) but it's so rich and decadent. This is best done with chocolate and Devil's food cake mix but can work with anything. 
  • For a more exquisite, rich flavor that again, works best with chocolate and dark chocolate cake recipes, add coffee (in the same amount called for) to your cake and go about as instructed. It doesn't necessarily taste like coffee when it is finished but it as a more well-rounded chocolate flavor - something with a "mocha" twang, to it! If you're looking for that flavor, however, go for adding espresso rather than straight up day-old decaf. It'll give a rich, bold flavor with touch of coffee essence. You could do this with other batters but I can't think of anything better than doing it with chocolate!
  • Go about regular directions and before popping your cake in the oven, add a dollop of sour cream. Trust me! It won't go bad or turn the cake, it'll simple make it moist, light, and fluffy! Also, it cuts a bit of the sweetness if you're not looking for something overly sweet. Works with any batter! This works well with sugar-free batters.
  • Oh, wait, do the same with the frosting, too, to cut sweetness and add a bit of, "mmm, what's in this frosting, it's delicious!" to your menu. Adding a bit of sour cream helps out with the bitterness of some sugar-free frostings, too.
  • Cream cheese doesn't play well with wet cake batter but if you're looking to add a bit of richness to canned or home-made frosting, cut it with a bit of whipped cream cheese. Use whipped because it folds in easier with the lumps and bumps of the stuff in the foil. Cream cheese frosting from the store is often too sweet. I add my own whipped cream cheese or sour cream and it works out really well. This works well with sugar-free recipes, too.
  • You can also cut frosting with straight up whipped cream. Adds a touch of sweetness, but if you fold it in just right, it's smooth and creamy and a bit lighter! Use sugar-free whipped cream if you're in the mood for the texture without the "guilt" that somehow, people get when they have sugar. I'll never understand. 
Holiday baking add-ins:
  • They sell bags of crushed candy canes and boxes and boxes upon boxes of the darn things everywhere now. Take the crushed stuff (or make your own with a few candy canes, a plastic baggie, a rolling pin, etc.) and sprinkle it over a finished dark chocolate cake with dark chocolate frosting. So decadent and so season-appropriate. 
  • Drizzle candy melts or melted almond bark over brownies, cakes, cookies, and allow to dry for a bit of pizzazz. This is mostly cosmetic because let's face it, most melted candy "faux chocolate" is for show, anyway, but it certainly is pretty most of the time. Add sprinkles for fun!
  • Two cookies + frosting in the middle + rolling them in sprinkles = fun deserts for little hands. 
  • Extracts are amazing things! You can find coffee extract, almond, lemon, peppermint, orange, everything extract in the spice aisle of any grocery store. In the craft or baking department, there are more specific (less authentic, however) baking oils that will flavor your creations with any combination you choose. For the holidays, I love orange oil and chocolate cake and candies, rum-flavored toddy cookies and fudge, or as mentioned above, add a bit of peppermint oil to chocolate and white cakes or hell, put it in your morning coffee for a wake-up call! (Also allow room for whipped cream and peppermint shards, of course!)
  • Add chocolate chips (white, chocolate, dark, milk, butterscotch, peanut butter, caramel, oh God, the variety!) to any batter be it cakes, cookies, fudge, brownies, whatever! These add richness and a sense of, "hey, you're an awesome baker!" to your menu. Throw any in the batter and most cakes and cookies with cook at the same time stated on the box with not alterations.
  •  Throw some salt on the bottom of your baking sheet or baking pan before you pour in your batter. (And after you've greased or buttered it up, of course!) This gives a different touch to the whole cake or cookie. Salt on the bottom keeps things from getting too sweet. Do this especially if you're doing caramel anything!
I want to say that's it because I've left a ton more here than I expected. But do give these things a try this season (or any season)! There are too many possibilities and too many cheap ways to jazz up boxed cake mixes for anyone to use a plain ol' boring recipe time after time. I bid you goodnight. Finals are this week. 

Freakin' stoked. 

June 11, 2013

Time for a Pantry-Raid

I don't normally do this but when you're broke, you're bored, and you're hungry - it just sort of happens. There will be no pictures in this post because, frankly, photographing this sandwich was the last thing on my mind.

This is the best chicken salad I've ever had and I LOVE chicken salad. Heaven between two toasted slices of bread, I tell ya'! Here it goes:

1/2 can of fully cooked chopped chicken (yes, like the tuna - wait, you could do tuna if you'd rather. I guess I know what tomorrow's lunch is going to be!)
1/2 diced apple (picked a big, juicy red one for this!)
1 handful of chopped pecans
1 handful of Craisins (in lieu of grapes, which I did not have)
Bit of salt
Bit of pepper
1 glop of mayo (yes, glob. It's a unit of measurement here in the south)

Toast your bread if you prefer and eat it up. It's amazing. And if I had any tomatoes on hand, I'd have sliced them up and thrown them on my sandwich to, but alas! I did not have fresh tomatoes.

ANNNND if you've got leftover chicken salad, use the rest of that apple, slice it up, and use it as a spoon to finish everything off. So. stinking. good. 

May 23, 2013

Strawberry Orange Summer Cupcakes

I'm running out of ideas for summer deserts so I've put a spin on an old favorite. Add strawberry and citrus (lime, lemon, orange!) to any cupcake and it's generally going to work in your favor! And further, my creative side (she also has a sweet-tooth) has to go and dump chocolate chips somewhere in the mix. But I'll get to that.

As with the last recipe, I chose a mini-cake pan rather than cupcakes only because it was there. It was handy. What do you want from me? Ahem...grease and flour as you would - any pan you see fit!

On to actual ingredients, I used a boxed strawberry cake mix, a bit of orange oil (you can find this in the cake or craft section of your grocery store) a whipped cream cheese icing, and chocolate chips. (I've even found sugar-free chocolate chips to work in most cakes, as they're not too sweet but still provide that chocolate kick, too!) And then of course, combine accordingly with the directions on the box. Here's the orange oil I speak of. A cap-full will work but keep tasting, remember some of it will cook off in the oven.

Fill 'err up! My batter made out to be the perfect amount to make eight little mini-cakes so that's what I used.

After they've popped out and cooled, frost them with whatever you'd like. I chose the cream-cheese because it's unobtrusive, doesn't taste too heavy, and it works well with chocolate, strawberry, and orange flavors. If this all seems like overkill to you, you're probably right. I'm simply a mad-woman with a wooden spoon....

*Cackles and runs away*

April 23, 2013

The Man-Cake (Maple Bacon Cakes)

That doesn't sound dirty at all, right? Wrong. I've combined what seems to be a hot recipe now that bacon has taken over everything - Maple Bacon Cakes (or cupcakes, these are mini-cakes) and they're delicious and everything was about $10 and easy, found at the grocery store on a late-night binge for me and I seriously believe a guy could whip these up in no time. I hate making bacon, so I would prefer if someone else did that.

Basically all you need is cake mix: I chose Butter Pecan because it seemed like the only one that would play well with maple anything (and right was I), stuff to make the cake mix (d'oh!), bacon - here, I'm using the cheap fatty stuff because it's a diet buster anyway, so why not, and cream cheese frosting. Maple extract is what I had on hand, imitation at that, so that went into both the cake batter and icing to taste. Be wary of this stuff as it is strong!

Just whip up the cake, bake 'em, and while they're in the oven, fry up your bacon. Easy! (Also, ended up with about a tea-spoon of maple flavoring in my batter and one in my can of icing for reference. The batter tasted like pancakes!) The batter and icing will end up looking essentially the same, but go with it. Taste everything, too! It'll likely lighten up with the cooking process, though.

And honestly, the cake wasn't very sweet at all. The icing is what made it and then, of course, there's bacon. Delicious bacon.

Here's your finished product. Well, here's MY finished product and I tend to cook like a well, like a man as in 12 a.m. at Wal-Mart, I'm just plucking things up and throwing them into my cart and you end up with this stuff.

I can attribute my "spare tire" to these nightly shopping trips. Good grief. 

April 7, 2013

Buzz Issues: 01 The Perfect Dessert

  A Legend

Okay, maybe it's not a "legend"

I'm a coffee and tea lush. (New to tea but love it so!) About 10 p.m. is when I get my sugar-kick and I'm tearing the kitchen apart for sweets that won't keep me up all night. This cup of coffee does it for 150 calories and not a lot of sugar. Good news is that you can use decaf at night and regular in the mornings. Lovely part of the day for me when I allow myself to indulge a bit.
Alright, ingredients I use - can be swapped, substituted, or otherwise ignored! Your choice!

Half/Half - optional, 20 calories
Chai Latte Mix - optional, 30 calories
Sweetener - optional, none
Fat-Free Milk - optional, approx. 10 calories
Whipped Topping, Light - optional, approx. 30 calories
Sugar-Free Caramel Topping - optional, 45 calories
Decaf/Regular coffee - I'm not counting the calories for this one. You can't make me.

Okay, it sounds like a lot but this is my desert, ya'll. And it's yummy. But everything can be changed or whatever. It's your cup of coffee and this one is mine. Just brew your 8oz. cup of coffee (or 6oz. and I would half this entire recipe). Add everything in, I like to before I even get coffee in the cup. Now, the whipped topping and caramel go on top because once they meld together, they smell and taste amazing. So for less than 150 calories, you've got a yummy cup of coffee for desert or a wake-me-up, or whatever.

 Also, these cool little International Latte mix-ins are great for spicing up a bland black cup of coffee for 60 calories/2 teaspoons or so. Not bad and they're pre-sweetened and delicious on their own. I love the Chai! Without it though, this recipe would have been great still. Enjoy and let me know if you give it a go!

(I'm sorry - but doesn't that look amazing?)