Week in Review: January 29, 2017

Spoiler alert: this post is about my adventures with Bro’Ham 

broham

I survived a week as a new pet parent! I was so happy that I treated myself to donuts Saturday morning. Man… pets are work. People said it was like having a kid, but It’s more than that. The kid can’t talk back to you. And most don’t get in the way when you’re working on projects trying to get caught up on your blog.

Anyway, Bro’Ham is doing pretty good with ‘sit’ and ‘stay’. I realized some of it was my own fault that he wasn’t listening to me. Last night, The Hero showed me how to walk him so that he isn’t pulling. Changed the whole game. For the first time I didn’t regret having to take him out.

We went to PetsMart this week too. Yeah… so… I didn’t realize:

PetsMart:dogs | Chuck E Cheese:kids

I’m in PetsMart, frazzled that I am the only one with the crazy dog who is spazzing out because he hasn’t seen any other dogs (and all the smells!) since the previous week. My dog turned up and he lightweight turned up the other dogs (as much as their obedience training would allow). Dog party. Unfortunately, those pet parents were not happy about it. Neither was the cashier. And can you believe the only person who helped me was an almost-drunk customer? Needless to say we won’t be going back to that particular PetsMart. I’ll go to Wal-Mart first.

I went to war with the pet hair. To avoid you feeling sorry for me, I’ll spare you the details and tell you that the hair won. And Bro’Ham still has not had a bath. That’s my workout Monday night. I’m going to stay positive and believe that he’ll like not smelling like last week’s funk.

Had our first ‘oh yeah?’ incident. Went out to a birthday celebration and came home to a nice pile of crap. Talk about annoyed. Who wants to clean up dog crap at 1 a.m. after having some drinks? Not. Me. Or The Hero. And then… as I’m discovering the funky gift, The Hero lets Bro’Ham out without a leash. Guess who wants to run off? Saturday night was not cool. Not cool at all.

So I’m hoping that this week feels more normal and I can figure out a schedule that doesn’t leave me sleepy, missing workouts and finishing my posts on time.

 

Sealed! DIY Whipped Butter

whippedbuttercream

It’s been almost four days since we got Bro’Ham. To say having a dog is a whole different experience doesn’t begin to describe what being a pet parent means.

I have to feed another living being. Every day. He wants affection and reassurance that he’s okay and a good dog. He follows me around. He’s left a layer of dog hair that has broken my clean freak spirit. Two tongue baths (I am still weirded out by that, but another day). And he’s brought me a real sense of peace and calm.

Bro’Ham being here means a lot of handwashing. A lot. And for some reason, terrible static electricity. I know there’s some correlation between ash and getting the shock of life, so I figure now’s a good time to make some whipped butter.

I’d made a batch before and didn’t love the consistency. The recipe added beeswax, which isn’t something I’ve used before. It felt… waxy. It took forever to liquify and was just all around not a good deal.

This time I had the bright idea to substitute coconut oil for the beeswax. The end result is exactly what I wanted: a light, whipped cream that melts and glides on my skin easily. No more welts from all the rubbing.

Whipped Butter

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces shea butter
  • 3 ounces cocoa butter
  • 4 ounces coconut oil

Measure both butters and the coconut oil into heat safe  medium-sized bowl.  Set the bowl in a pan and add enough water to come about halfway up the bowl. Heat on medium-low until melted. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Using a whisk attachment, blend at high speed until frothy, about 1 minute.

butter1

Refrigerate 10 minutes or until just solid.

butter2

Once solid, using beaters, mix on high speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until desired consistency. Store in airtight container.

butter4

Namaste. Chakra Mantra Gallery

chakramantra

I’m going to keep it real. Bro’Ham has completely changed the game around these parts. He’s a great dog. Hasn’t chewed anything. Gets off of stuff when we tell him to. Eats his food and doesn’t stare at us longingly when we eat ours. And sleeps. Sleeps for hours. I took today off and this guy slept almost all day. He’s sleeping as I type this. Yes, his head is hanging off the couch.

broham

So in light of being a first-time pet parent and keeping to a promise I made to myself and you to post three times a week, today’s post is really simple. Before Bro came along, I was learning more about clearing energy and things to make room for a different life. I had just gotten around to using breathe to clear blocked chakras and wanted to learn a little bit more about them as they relate to certain physical and emotional pains I feel.

I’m a tactile and visual learner. I have to read and do things in order to understand and know them. If you’re one of my friends or family reading this, it’s the main reason I text, email and send cards. I remember written information a lot better. It only made sense to make visual reminders of the mantras associated with each of the seven main chakras. There are others, but as a newbie, I’m starting here.

I came across a site that had iPhone wallpapers with all seven mantras that I absolutely loved. What’s the site you ask? I have no idea. I tried to search for it in my history only to find that I use the Internet way too much. I can’t find it. If I do though, I’ll come back and update. Anyway, I decided to print each one on a sheet of paper and frame them to hang in my room.

I would give you instructions and a supply list, but really, it’s as easy as it looks. Print, trim, frame, hang. Seriously. If you want to get fancy, add a nice mat or decorative card stock (what I did) to lay behind the mantras.

Friday is recipe of the week. Or maybe a DIY project. I don’t know. It really depends if Bro’Ham turns into psycho dog or I get around to getting my life back on schedule. Let’s see what the next two days bring.

Week in Review: January 22, 2017

It’s been a long week. I intended to get all my posts for the week done today, but I didn’t have time. And I still have a bunch of things to do before I go to bed in oh… two hours.

I’m gonna keep it brief and highlight the highlights. Found some great craft books at the library this week. I want to give you a glimpse into this week’s craft post, but I don’t want to jinx the success of a first-time project. I’m super excited though.

I went to the Women’s March in Cleveland this weekend. I had no idea that a similar march was held in Columbus the week before. Anyway, I drove up to Cleveland for the day to march with friends. It was an experience for me, my first public protest. I debated not going until I went to Cleveland.com to find out more details about the event. In a serendipitous way, I was meant to read the comments. I mean people were downright disrespectful. It’s so easy to be an ass anonymously, which pissed me off. So much so that I woke up at 7 to hit the road and be there by 11 for the march.

It was a great event. Last I heard, there were 15,000 people in attendance. That’s not too bad! After the march, most people just hanging around the city started asking questions about people’s signs. And there were a bunch of great signs there. These are just some of my favorites:

womensmarchsigns

We both decided that we needed to make a lifestyle overhaul and do it together. That includes eating better, getting more organized, working out in the mornings and being more productive in the evenings. In celebration of this new way of life (read: mourning comfort foods on a regular), I said my final goodbyes eating this wonderful key lime tart from Whole Foods. I tell myself that since it’s from Whole Foods, it’s more nutritious.

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And lastly, we adopted a dog. Meet Bro’Ham Fleetwood.

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I’ve never been a pet parent before. I remember killing the one pet we did have, a goldfish, back in the mid 80s. Today, when we went to the shelter to casually look at dogs, Bro’Ham was the one we both liked. He is so chill. We don’t think he ever played with toys because he looks at them like ‘what? what is that?’ And he’s treat finicky. We’ll have plenty of time to get to know him though.

Where’d the name come from? Bro’Ham was The Hero’s. He considers Bro’Ham an early birthday gift. I got to choose his middle name. Fleetwood, in honor of the cowardly lion in The Wiz, seemed the only fitting name. If you don’t know here’s the clip:

Of course being a childless and pet-free house, we had to make some changes. Things are in disarray. I honestly don’t care right now. It will be the first time I have to think about putting things up high since the early 2000s. I can’t even keep my unfinished glass of wine by my bed anymore. I’m looking at it longingly now on the other side of the room. By Bro’Ham. Who won’t relax until we’re both relaxed. Sigh.

Another week down. As I frantically try to meet my midnight deadline (boy does typing that feel familiar), it’s been an enlightening and exciting week. Let’s see what the first week as a pet parent brings.

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I Shirt You Not: T-shirt Refashion

 

tshirt

I tickle myself coming up with titles for each post. I’m still chuckling at this one.

So I’m going through my stuff again, seeing what can be released from my life to make space for something else. Is there a such thing as too much letting go? Because I feel like I was just getting rid of stuff at the beginning of December. There are still items that need to get the boot though.

Unfortunately, I seemed to slack when it came to my t-shirts. While there aren’t many I don’t like, four of them immediately came to mind. It’s not that I don’t like these particular shirts. They’ve simply outlived their original lifetime. Perfect DIY candidates.

Now to find some t-shirt inspiration. Where? Pinterest of course.

Rant alert: Okay… what did they do to Pinterest? It’s so much work trying to find projects now. Was Pinterest rehab so effective that it’s been long enough to miss some majorly minor site enhancements? Sheesh. There was a day when everything I could possibly want to make was right there on my landing page and I’d pin to my heart’s content. Now there’s some kinda fancy algorithm that makes me do the work to look for projects. Ugh… who wants to use the search function? Why, Pinterest, why?!

Focus. DIY. I was looking for a cool project I could finish in a short amount of time (think 10 minutes or less). I found a couple that looked promising. I figured I’d start with the easiest one: a simple cut-out.

DIY T-shirt Refashion: Cut-out 

Supplies

  •  T-shirt (jersey works best)
  • Scissors
  • Fine-tip marker

Directions

Iron the t-shirt, if necessary. Put it on to see where you want to make your marks.

Mark three points on the shirt to define the area you want to cut.
tshirt2

Start by cutting the neck (1 to 3). Then cut from 1 to 2 and 3 to 2. Grab at 1 and 2 and pull gently to curl the edges in. Repeat with 2 and 3.

And… you’re done. Simple.

Verdict

You may have wondered why there’s a lot of cleavage in today’s main picture. This post is a DIY and fail all rolled into one. I like the idea, but having almost 82% of my cleavage on display was not the intended outcome. For the next one, I have to rethink the angle and length. Luckily, I have three more tries to get it right. I’m not giving up on this. Unless it involves geometry.

Food Discovery: Smothered Chicken

smotheredchicken

We had a guest picker this week. The Hero’s cousin was down and since The Hero has an 0-2 record on picking good recipes, I decided to have someone else pick the recipe this week. When we started with LaBelle Cuisine, I knew it couldn’t be too bad.

Boy was I wrong. His pick was worse than The Hero’s. The original recipe included a bottle of ketchup. I hate ketchup. It’s on the list of things I won’t eat. So back to The Hero I went for this week’s recipe. He did good. It wasn’t without a lot of laughing at me and demanding that I tell the people I cheated. I cheated. There.

N.E.Way… I used to faithfully make dishes from Patti’s cookbook. Then, for some reason, I just kinda fell off. It’s one of the first cookbooks I bought when I felt like it was time to take my cooking to the next level. Although I grew up having soul food pretty regularly, believe it or not, I can’t cook it all that well. In my younger years, I was more focused on eating, not cooking all the dishes I ate. No one made me learn either which explains why I still can’t make a good pot of greens to this day. Or candied yams. Or ham. I’d go on, but you’re probably already giving me the side eye and wanting to take my black card.

Smothered anything was rare. Kinda like liver and onions. I guess not really because we didn’t look forward to liver and onions, but we did look forward to smothered pork chops and chicken with mashed potatoes. I now see why my mom didn’t cook it often. It’s a process.

Cooking Notes

First off, double the gravy recipe if you’re putting gravy on anything other than the chicken. Maybe even triple if you’re a gravy-eating family of three or more. After we ate, there was literally no gravy left. We had to ration it.

Also, season the gravy as you go, not all at the end. It gives the spices time to heat up and blossom, which makes dinner hit the table faster. It also prevents some of the extra salt at the table. If you’re watching your blood pressure, you’re welcome.

Save time and get the chicken cut. I botched the cut job some and it was a lot of time wasted. Have the meat counter cut it for you so you can make your own chicken stock with the breast bone and vegetable scraps. I’m a fan of homemade stock.

Which is of course the last note. Just make your own stock. I bought some low-sodium stuff that tasted like laziness and big business. Sigh. It doesn’t pay to cut corners when it comes to flavor. Lesson learned, food gods.

I omitted the celery in the gravy. We were having dressing. I didn’t want celery overload.

Smothered Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken, rinsed and cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 pepper
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 medium celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 cups chicken broth

Directions

Season the chicken with the salt and pepper. Add the flour to a large shallow bowl. Reserve 3 tablespoons in a small bowl for the gravy. Coat the chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess. Place on a rack to rest.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Once heated, kip the chicken a second time in the remaining flour. Cook, turning halfway, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Discard all but about 3 tablespoons of oil. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions, celery (if using), and garlic, and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the reserved flour over the vegetables and stir well. Gradually stir in the broth and bring to a simmer. Season almost to taste with salt and pepper.

Return the chicken to the skillet. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 35 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Bring the sauce to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. If necessary, season with salt and pepper. Add chicken back to the skillet. Serve immediately.

from LaBelle Cuisine

Verdict

We found a winner! Despite not having enough gravy, this dish is delicious. It’s comfort food at its finest. Unlike my mother, I will probably make this at least once a month. Is there a such thing as smothered chicken tenders? If not, I’m inventing it. It goes really well with dressing and macaroni and cheese to complete the food coma. I’m sure it tastes good with salad too, but why disrespect perfectly good comfort food like that?

Week in Review: January 15, 2016

Last week was action packed. For real. I’m amazed that I could finally get the motivation to sit down and recap. Saturday to Saturday. Okay.

Last weekend, me and The Girl celebrated The Kid’s birthday. I was going to be out of town on his actual birthday and since it’s a milestone, we couldn’t not celebrate. It was hilarious that his gift was to buy groceries and possibly pay his phone bill. Grown kids. It’s an interesting motherhood phase for real. At the end of the weekend, he and I had a really good talk about the next phase of life and some of the lessons he learned since dropping out of high school to now. It gave me hope that maybe he won’t take all of his 20s to be dumb.

That was great, but the highlight of the week was my first trip to Vegas. Okay… so it’s technically my second trip. When you go with your parents at 18 and walk around the Strip all damn day in the middle of August to pass the time before your plane leaves for Cleveland, but your parents were all out of vacation money so they didn’t want to buy anything until we got home and you were thirsty and hungry and couldn’t sit in the casino because you looked really young is how you describe a trip, you need a reset. So it’s my first trip to Vegas. And my first girls’ trip since my 30th birthday in Chicago. That was epic.

A  moment for Chicago.

Okay. So Vegas. I went with a friend who shall remain nameless due to professional reasons. Tuesday to Friday. No plans, just doing what girls do in Vegas. I love this friend because this trip was D standing around looking at how big everything was and eating. That’s it. Swear.

vegas

We stayed at Planet Hollywood and in the 2.5 days we were in Vegas we literally ate our way from Aria to The Venetian. Food rules were no eating at places we had back home and no staying at a place that didn’t make us feel great. Where did we eat?

  • Planet Dailies (twice, different meals)
  • Jean Pierre Patisseriejeanpierre
  • Mon Ami Gabimonamigabi
  • Hexx (twice, same meals)hexx
  • Yardhouse
  • Bouchon Bakerybouchonbakery
  • Amorinoamorino
  • Spice Market Buffet

Man, typing the list really brought home how much we ate. I didn’t even get buffet pics (I mean the damage I tried to do to shrimp was embarrassing). And that doesn’t count the two Fat Tuesday drinks with that nice extra shot that we had Thursday. The blurriness of the picture should give you an idea of what Everclear in frozen 151 Kool-Aid can do to you.

fattuesday

I’m not a gambler, so playing a couple slots and then cashing out wasn’t too hard. I couldn’t fathom dropping more than $20 a day after the first day losing $40. You’d have thought my life savings was in those slot machines. Let’s not dwell on my lack of gambling.

The walking. Gawd. Each hotel was the equivalent of two or three blocks here at home. Don’t trust Google Maps. You’ll think you’ll leisurely walk from New York New York to The Venetian in an hour. We took 15,000+ steps and made it from Planet Hollywood to The Venetian. You know what I’m saying. We had to go to CVS and get compression items. It got real.

Oh… jet lag. Yeah. I typed this long paragraph and deleted it. So basically, I lived on PST and EST time simultaneously. I slept weird. Fell asleep at 9 p.m. PST two out of three nights. In Vegas.

But I realized that Vegas is a multiple-visit and multiple-companion city. The Hero and I are going back. And we’re going back with a group of friends. And my nameless friend and I have decided to make it an annual trip. Vegas. The beginning of my travel adventures.

Saturday, we celebrated two friends’ birthdays. Yeah… I had just got home from Vegas early that morning, slept, ate and took a nap. Then I got dressed and went out to hang with friends. Your favorite blogger got a selfie stick the same day and had to use it. To avoid lawsuits from party-goers, here’s one of me The Hero. I don’t need a release from him:

birthdays

I’m going on and on and this post is getting wordy. Bottom line: It’s been a great week. I gained weight, but I don’t care. I’m refreshed and ready to go back to work Tuesday. But tomorrow, I’m going to try to get some rest. Check Wednesday’s post. We had a guest picker for the recipe of the week. Seems like he did good.