Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Emily Has a BABY, You Guys

This is what he looks like:

This photo is titled, "Woe is me, as life is so hard!"

His name is Brian Arthur. He is adorablecakes. Arthur is Emily's dad's name and I can't tell you how much I love when people do that. It's such an amazing way to honor your family while giving longevity to a name. My dad is Mark Steven and my brother is Steven Mark. I love that. I don't know why.

Classic names really do stand the test of time, don't they? Fad names really don't grab me, but I can see why people want something different.

Like, I would love to use one of my grandmother's names if I ever have a daughter, but one was named Sylvia and the other was named Hedwig, and while classic in their own time, they feel like middle names to me now. But who knows? Maybe in a generation, we'll be back to 1920s names. Who is to know?

Anyway, I have known and loved my Emily for over twenty years and so I drove many, many miles to the edge of the universe (well, close to the edge of the state of Michigan, but it's pretty much the same thing with gas prices as high as they are), to see her brand new spawn. I mean, it seems like only yesterday that we were playing "Pin the Sperm on the Egg" at her baby shower, and now, poof! Baby!

(Yes, there is a game called that, and yes, we played it un-ironically.)

This photo is titled, "I am about to wake up and scream bloody murder until mom unleashes her boob, NOM NOM NOM."

I thought that upon holding the bundle of infant that I would have heart palpitations and my biological clock would jump start and I would feel incomplete without a child and I would want to go jump Mike's bones. Or clearly I would adopt one. Mike and I don't do that, Mom and Dad.

But my heart was happy... for Emily and Tim. I'm just not ready for children, and I don't know that I will ever be ready for children.

And lo, this post has suddenly revealed one of my existential life crises.

I am beyond lucky that my family isn't pressuring me to have children, though part of that might have something to do with the fact that my brother and sister-in-law have taken care of that for me (Yay, nieces! All of the fun and none of the work!). But at the same time, they are, in fact, pressuring me to get married, and let me tell you that I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT and there is SOMEONE ELSE THAT YOU'LL HAVE TO TALK TO ABOUT THAT SO LEAVE ME ALONE.


Anyway, this whole thing just illustrates that I am selfish and not at all ready for children, as I embarked upon this post planning on devoting it to my friend and her baby, and I pulled you all into my ridiculous internal crises instead and that, my friends, is why you do not want to be inside my head.


Look! The whole animal kingdom is procreating!
Is there something wrong with me?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chickpea Salad

Warning - This is pretty much the perfect recipe. You will want to make it ALL THE TIME and it is super good for you. Enjoy!

Also, I HAVE NOT A PHOTO of this dish, so you are going to have to TRUST ME.

Seriously, trust me. It's amazing.

And away we go!

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 scallions, chopped
1 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries*
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix well.

Serve with crostini or as a salad. Or eat it out of the container with the fridge door open. Because THAT'S HOW GOOD IT IS YOU GUYS I SWEAR.

*Note: The original recipe calls for pomegranate seeds, which are generally only available in the winter. I substituted dried cranberries, and the result is tart and sweet. That said, I can't wait until pomegranates are in season...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Descent

"If there can be a historic Christ, why not a historic Satan?"

The Descent is many things: adventurous, scary, philosophical, religious, and hopeful. At the same time, it can be a little slow, a little depressing, and sometimes predictable.

The narrative begins with several related stories, set all over the world. A group of climbers are stranded in a cave after a surprise snowstorm... A nun stationed in Africa discovers a proto-human species and hears whisperings of a being called Older-Than-Old... In Bosnia, something is stealing massacred bodies from mass graves...

...with grisly results.

It is soon discovered that humans are not alone on Earth - that is, they may no longer be the dominant species. In fact, there is a massive underground system deep under the crust of the planet, developed by human-like creatures over millions of years. They are rarely seen, but are vicious. The few people who have escaped from their clutches are irreparably harmed, both physically and psychologically.

There have been sightings of these creatures over the centuries, but they soon begin to journey to the surface more often than ever before. Given the scientific name Homo hadalis and nicknamed "hadals," the world is soon forced to accept the fact that humans are not alone. The idea that aliens would come from below rather than above is shocking.

The story focuses on several main characters, or groups of characters. Some are seeking Satan- not just pure evil, but an actual, embodied King of Hell. Armed with the belief that "He" exists, then it's only natural he can be destroyed.

Additionally, some are looking to conquer this underworld and make it a military stronghold (because of course they are). Scientists are hoping to discover new plants, animals, insects, and resources. And one woman is attempting to pinpoint the beginning of language.

Lastly, the hadals. What do they seek?

With so many variables and storylines, one might think that The Descent is just too much. Luckily, Long weaves these stories simultaneously, allowing his characters to grow from their predetermined "identities" into so much more. The differences between the humans and hadals seem immense at first, but seem to diminish as the novel progresses. Long's grasp of the human condition is eerily accurate, which is also a little depressing, to be honest.

The Descent is a good book. It's not great, and that's mainly because of long periods of nothing happening. But it was very different from books I normally read, so it was fairly refreshing for me. It has something for everyone at some point (adventure, horror, romance, philosophic wonderment, etc.), but that might not be enough to get through the whole thing.

**I don't know if this novel was an inspiration for the film of the same name, because I haven't seen it, but there are many similarities in the plots (or at least, from what I read at imdb).**

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


So, hypothetically, say someone was driving down an Ann Arbor street, at or maybe possibly above the posted speed limit, when, all of a sudden, some doucher in a Land Rover wouldn't share the road and I, I mean, someone, was forced to swerve toward the curb and possibly hit the right side mirror on a garbage can that someone forgot to remove from the fucking street and this happened:

What would one do to fix this? I'm just wondering. Hypothetically.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

In her satisfying memoir, Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, Gabrielle Hamilton invites the reader into not only her New York City restaurant, Prune, but her entire life. In fact, this memoir is just as much a story of family as it is of food.

BB&B is divided into three sections: Blood, her adolescence, wild teen years, and her start in the food world; Bones, the structure that led her to where she is today - college experiences, travel, opening her restaurant; and Butter, her life as a restaurant owner, head chef, wife, and mother.

Hamilton is driven by food, but not just because she enjoys cooking. The thought of cooking - preparing, eating, sharing, and providing - is what makes her a chef. She wants customers at Prune to feel as she felt when traveling across Europe and Asia - hungry and alone - to feel as deliriously happy as she did when she encountered people who took pity on her, fed her, and gave her a place to rest.

Hamilton's planned, multi-year "disappearance" in Europe is a tale that could stand on its own, but its inclusion in BB&B is just part of what makes her book so delectable. Overall, BB&B is more about family than anything else. Hamilton's relationship tales - with her parents, her siblings, her friends, and her husband and children - are peppered throughout the book and are so complementary to her narrative, that's it almost immediately obvious that she holds an MFA in creative writing. Her descriptions of food make you not only hungry, but leave you yearning for whatever it is that she's describing.

Her strained relationship with her divorced parents clearly marks her life trajectory, cements her choices, and pushes her to be an adult long before she is ready. She makes decisions that will change her life, and some of her choices are absolutely perplexing to the reader.

Personally, I had a bit of a problem with the final third of the book. While I loved reading about her summers in Italy with her husband's family, some felt a little too personal. I almost felt like I was eavesdropping on very private feelings and conversations. But since Hamilton was clearly writing a memoir - not just a chef's memoir - every word is important.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Green Beans with Eggs, Cilantro, and Pine Nuts

My latest issue of Food & Wine magazine had a ton of recipes I wanted to try, but this one was at the top of my list. It's amazing how the different ingredients complement each other. It's traditionally served cold, but I tried it when it was still warm. And it was wonderful.

There were a few alterations to my dish - mostly I omitted the spicy stuff and used pine nuts instead of walnuts. Because I didn't have walnuts.

1 pound green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Cook green beans in boiling, salted water for six minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

Melt the butter into the vegetable oil. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 7 minutes. Pour in the eggs and scramble over medium heat to your desired done-ness.

Mix the eggs with the beans. Toss with chopped garlic, cilantro, and pine nuts. Serve warm or chilled.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

So I'm Getting Implants

It's time, you guys. I'm not happy with things the way they are. So I am getting implants. I had my consultation the other day, and I am still coming down from the experience.

Also, just to be clear, I'm talking about oral implants. Teeth, you guys.


(Mike saw paperwork on the table that said "something, something implants" and I thought he was going to lose it. "You don't need implants! What's going on?!?!?!")

Anyway, remember how I once told y'all about my snaggleteeth and my years and years of orthodontics? Well, my little retainer thing that has my fake teeth on it? It's now over twelve years old and I live in fear of the day that I will break the thing and have to walk around without eye teeth looking like Bugs Bunny.

My dentist referred me to an oral surgeon, and to make a long story short, it's going to take nine months to complete the process, it's going to cost an assload, and it's going to have a pretty long recovery time in which I will most likely have black eyes and have to be on vicodin.

I've heard there's a nice market for vicodin. I'm just saying.

Anyway, the fact that I've never had teeth there - the baby teeth fell out and there were no adult teeth to replace them - is a bad, bad thing. There is no bone available for the implants to be rooted, and therefore I have to have a bone graft. A BONE GRAFT.

I don't like the sound of this.

This bone can come from my lower jaw, which will be the first phase, and then implanted into my upper jaw. Apparently they then inject the area with my own blood which does something magical, and helps it heal.

If I'm not amenable to that, they can use bone from a cadaver (a cadaver!), which would make me PART ZOMBIE, which would also be awesome.

So once the BONE GRAFT is done, it will take six months to recover as the bone figures out that it need to be part of my upper jaw. Also, since they are messing with my face, I will most likely have two black eyes. So, pretty!


I will be put on a form of anesthesia, sometimes called "Twilight," which will leave me awake and alert, allowing the surgeon to communicate with me, yet I WILL REMEMBER NOTHING of the surgery or the time after. This is pretty much the creepiest thing ever. I will be awake for my fucking bone graft and subsequent blood injection, but I won't remember a thing?

How will this not mess with my mind, you guys?

The second phase will be the implants. Screwed into my freaking jaw. And then the screws become part of my jaw over time because, as my surgeon said, "the human body is quite remarkable." I'm not sure what kind of anesthesia, if any, will be used here. I'm hoping for a full-body knockout, but I don't think that my insurance will cover it. They're barely covering this surgery as it is.

Remind me why I'm dong this again?

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Secret Fight Club

I drive past this building every day, and I have no idea what it is. I've decided that it is probably a K of C or VFW-type fight club. Or perhaps an illegal gambling den. Or maybe a brothel. The Midwest's finest, I'm sure.

There are rarely cars parked there, but always ton of trash cans, a few picnic tables, and piles of firewood.

(Note: I took these pictures whilst driving, something I love to do, and a bonus is that you can see where I scraped the mirror along a pillar in the parking garage. I really shouldn't be allowed to have a car. Seriously.)

Every once in a while, I'll pass by this building as evening falls, and there are forty to fifty cars crammed into the muddy parking lot. There is never anyone outside and there are no windows anywhere visible on the building. I swear I saw a trash can fire, though.

It can't be a hunting lodge or something, because it is in the middle of a residential area.

Help me figure out what's going on! It's driving me crazy!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Evil Genius Cat and Bobcat Say Goodbye

After heading to my old apartment to gather up the few leftover bags and boxes, an old friend trotted up to me, curled around me legs, and meowed like a psycho.

She was saying goodbye.


Pretending not to care when I left.

Miraculously, the half-cat, half-bobcat soon emerged as well. While he didn't get as close (he never does - maybe it's because he's 50% WILD? I don't know. I still don't know that he's half-bobcat or if my neighbor was messing with me), he definitely knew that a kind of finality was going down.

Mew... I mean RAWR!

Bye kitties! I'll miss you and your shenanigans!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Hi, I'm a Cupcake

"Hi! I'm a cupcake. I was recently served at the world's longer wedding shower. I look like a fucking flower, even though I'm a cupcake. I look flashy and sexy, don't I? I look delicious and sugary, don't I? You want to eat me, don't you?

Well, DON'T BOTHER. I taste super gross. And apparently, my cousin, Mr. Cake, is going to be served at the upcoming wedding, and everyone is going to be disappointed because he will also taste gross, and the only reason to go to a wedding is the cake."


Sunday, May 01, 2011

This Is My New Favorite Website, You Guys

When Mike's home from traveling the country for his job, we usually watch ESPN, or a movie, or season one of 30 Rock for the ten-trillionth time. And I'm not complaining - I truly don't mind what we watch, and if sports highlights on a fucking loop make him happy, then I am happy. Besides, that's what books are for.

And 30 Rock is the best show ever made, period.

But my two favorite channels are HGTV and the Food Network. And I watch them religiously when he's gone.

It's not that he doesn't like those channels - in fact, he rather enjoys the house-hunting shows on HGTV - it's that I keep them for myself. They are my channels, and I don't like to share. Besides, he usually tries to Mystery-Science-Theater them, which is hilarious but I often miss entire sentences from laughing too hard.

So I know the shows (and the hosts, the subject matter, the recipes, the projects) pretty well. That's why Food Network Humor is the best find of the year for me.

Where else would you find stuff like this?

That... is more than I care to eat in one sitting.
One family member, sure, but the whole family? And a dog?
Bring me some pre-emptive Tums, please.

It's funny 'cause she's a fucking drunk.

I've been saying that for years!

I mean, if I had known flow charts could be that hilarious... well, I would make them all the live-long day.