Thursday, November 29, 2012

BLUE JEANS & BBQ



Alison finished singing the last bars of the song blaring on the radio before she switched off the ignition.
            “Was that what I think it was?” asked Megan, Alison’s neighbor and current couch landlord. “Were you just singing Country music?”
            “No! I don’t like--” Alison stopped. How many times had she caught herself listening to Country in the past weeks? She had always sworn she hated it. She laughed. “Fine, you’re right.” She jumped out of her Jeep. “I officially do not dislike Country. In fact…”
            She stopped at the sight of Chris Turner, the contractor running the renovations on her condo, walking towards them.
            “Your sudden interest in Country music doesn’t have anything to do with the cowboy coming our way, now does it?” Megan giggled.
            Alison swallowed before admitting, “It might.”
            Alison had gotten to know her contractor as her renovations had progressed. Chris was efficient. Honest. Attractive. Single. She hadn’t once regretted hiring him. He was also kind, generous and good-humored.
            “Ask him out.”
            “No.”
            “Why not?”
            “Because… technically, I’m his boss. And I don’t want to blur the lines before he finishes tiling my bathroom.”
            “Coward,” Megan said under her breath.
            Alison took a deep breath. She wanted to maintain a level of professionalism, even if her heart beat at irregular paces whenever he was near.
            “Are you sick of her crashing on your couch yet?” he asked Megan as he got closer.
“Oh yes, tell me her place is done!” Megan joked.
“She’s that bad?”
“Country. She swore to me she hated it when I agreed to let her stay at my place, but that’s all she’s been listening to for weeks!”
He laughed, tucking his thumbs through the belt loops of his jeans.
Alison tried to regain control of the conversation. “Are we near the end?” she said. “Please give me some good news. I’m ready to sleep in my own bed.”
“Ah. Yes. I have the guys finishing the subway tiles in the bathroom today. They’re looking great. It’s been a few days since you stopped by. Maybe you could come take a look?”
“You’re just fishing for compliments. I’ve seen your work; I know it’s going to look amazing. That’s why I hired you!”
He grinned, obviously pleased with her faith in his work.
“You’ve already finished tiling?” Megan asked, waggling her eyebrows at Alison. “It sounds like we need to celebrate. Dinner?”
“Megan, please, he’s too busy to eat your tofu and egg whites.”
            Chris pulled a face.
            “I take it you’re a carnivore?” Megan laughed.
            “Meat and potatoes kind of guy,” he admitted.
            “Alison is sort of a grilling master,” Megan suggested. “I’m sure we could do steaks. I’m not strictly vegetarian.”
            “I’m sure he–“
            “—that’d be great,” Chris said. “Unless it seems unprofessional...”
            “No. No! Of course not; it’s fine. Is six o’ clock a good time?”
            “I’ll have the guys clean up a little early.”
            “Great.”
            “Great,” he agreed. He smiled and then sauntered back to the job site, whistling the country song Alison had been singing.
            Alison was struggling with excitement and dread, she cast a look over to Megan who smiled benignly.
            “I guess we should pick up some steaks.”
            “What are you thinking? You know we don’t grill!”
            Proof of Alison’s last statement was pouring out of the inherited grill when Chris arrived.
            “Looks like you’ve got a good start,” he said, trying not to laugh at the smoke. “You haven’t put all the steaks on have you?”
            “Is chicken supposed to be this greenish-gray color?” Alison asked, coming in from the patio. “Oh! Chris! Hi.”
            Alison looked mortified and Chris gave in to a chuckle.
            “You’re not really a grill master, are you?” His eyes sparkled as he headed out to inspect the grill. “The coals aren’t even ready. They’re still black.”
            “Oh…oops,” Alison giggled. “No wonder the chicken’s still raw.”
            “Don’t worry, we’ll let you cook the steaks,” Megan said. “And while you’re doing that, I’m going to run to that bakery and get dessert.”
            “Domestic goddesses, the both of you,” he commented.
            Alison grinned. “You were under the impression we actually knew how to cook? There’s a reason that Megan sticks to tofu.”
“I see. And what exactly are you planning on doing with those updated appliances I just installed?”
She shrugged, “Maybe I’ll take a class.”
A slow grin spread across Chris’ face. “I’ll teach you,” he said as he took a step towards her. “I’m actually a very good cook.” Chris reached out a hand to Alison. “I’d be happy to start that first lesson right now.”
Alison took Chris’ hand as he led her to the patio. “You build things and you cook? You are the best of Country, come to life.”

rejected by Woman's World Magazine, November 2012 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I Give Up

My track record is just getting worse and worse, so I'm quitting. I am never going to do it again, so don't ask! I'm done making food for people.

Because, I'm not really that bad of a cook. And no one knows it but me.

A few weeks ago, we had a little bonfire at a friend's house, that was supposed to also include chili. Mmmmm chili. I've made it a handful of times, and had only scorched the whole pot once. But that was when I was fresh away from home and probably the first time I'd made bulk sized food away from my Mom's tutelage. It was a disaster. There was no "avoid the bottom" and eat the rest. You could taste the acrid, carcinogenic flavor of burnt chili in a bite. In a sniff.

And then it was all recreated on that fateful night at Sam's. I am blaming the gas stove...

The most infamous is still probably that one time I burnt Roberta's birthday pot roast to a crisp...no. Worse than a crip. To charcoal.


Whenever I try to be nice to the guys at work, it seems to backfire. Aside from the fact that they all seem to be rather picky about what they will and won't eat, I never seem to get it right! Why do I bother? The lady that worked in our office before me -- or so I am told -- spoiled the guys by bringing in treats and making apple cider and all sorts of goodies. Every once and a while, I try to bring something in to make it up to them that they lost her and got little ol' me. So far, I've managed:
  • a goopy cheesecake that wasn't cooked all the way (I've had several disasters involving cheesecake)
  • a cake that literally would not stay on the fork because it just disintegrated when exposed to the air
  • soupy apple crisp
  • and now... burned pumpkin crisp
Remember the post about the pumpkin crisp? It was delightful and SO easy to make. I've been wanting another, and I decided to share it with the guys.

The rack in the oven was too high, and I was trying to get ready for the day while it was baking. When I got out of the shower, I could smell it in the kitchen. I went down and pulled it out of the oven, even though the timer wasn't quite going off, and saw that the pecans on top were burned.

Nooooooooooooooooo! There is nothing worse than burned pecans! (Ok, there are lots of things... burned popcorn, for example.)

That wasn't the only thing wrong with it, either. The pecans were burned, but the pumpkin wasn't quite cooked all the way. I also used the wrong cake mix. Instead of a regular yellow cake, I used butter yellow. You would think that it might be a good substitution? No. Wrong. Don't do it.

Aside from the dishes not turning out well, we need to also remember that stint where I kept setting my stove on fire...but I'm pretty sure that was just for me. But maybe it wasn't. And also! Cooking is dangerous. Remember when I kept slicing off my fingers?

Either way, I think this proves exactly why I eat out so much...it's SO much easier with much less risk of burning something down.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Homecomings



Saturday night, I made the mistake of pulling up a bunch of these videos. Actually, I think I watched just about every one of them available on Youtube.com, including the "Man's Best Friend"-ones.

I'm a sucker for these videos and without fail, they make me bawl.

I posted this video because the very first one is my favorite.The little girl, probably not even two years old, throwing her arms around her daddy's neck and almost incredulously telling him "Hi, Daddy," a couple of times before saying, "I miss you," and a beat later, "I love you."

It makes me laugh, and mostly it makes me cry. (I watched it again, and have to get under control before I'm spilling tears onto my desk.) Sniff.

I can't believe how many fathers and mothers who volunteer to serve their country in lieu of being with their families. They miss the births, the first birthdays, football games, and any number of milestones throughout their children's lives as they commit to putting their own in danger for the sake of their families, yes, but also, for every American in our country. There are videos of fathers meeting their babies for the first time, six or seven months or a whole year later.

It's incredible.

And I can't help but watch these videos and see their sacrifices, and think that I should probably be taking their place. I don't have any aspirations to be in the armed forces, but at the same time, I don't have a family at home depending on me. I kind of feel selfish. And then I remember that I'd never make it through boot camp, and all my good intentions fly out the window.

So instead, I'll just try not to watch these for a while, so I can get a grip. And I'll be sure to make everyone in the armed forces know how much I appreciate the sacrifices they make on a daily basis.

God bless them and their families.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Life's Big Questions

I don't know why so many people get hung up on the BIG three questions that everyone seems to ask: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?

After all, we have the general answers to these questions. God gave them to us. You can find them in messages from our prophet here on earth, and searching the scriptures.

No. Those aren't the big questions. The big questions are more like:

How in the world do we actually get into relationships? Not just romantic ones; though, certainly I mean those the most. But also friendships. How does it happen?

How do you decide on THE thing that you are supposed to be doing with your life? How do people come up with a career path?

And how/where in the world do you find the motivation, dedication, and discipline to completely change your life? Especially after you've been doing the same thing for so, so very long.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

New Tradition

I broke my own cardinal rule.



Yup. That's my Christmas tree. It's up. It's up before Thanksgiving, and heck, since I'm being honest, it was up before Halloween. It's blasphemy. And yet, it's amazing. It's amazing because this Christmas tree represents Thanksgiving, too! It's the best of two worlds. I plotted, planned, crafted, and spent a lot of money, and it turned out better than I imagined.

The pictures don't do it justice, truly, but I'm going to post some anyway.



Now, I mentioned that I had to get a little crafty for this tree. I spent the better part of a Sunday, filling empty, glass ornaments with paint and shaking the paint around until my forearms were so tired, and then I carefully propped them up and let them dry over night. I spent the next evening carefully arranging them in my tree. The thing that really drew me to these particular ornaments, besides the fact that they are the perfect shades of harvest colors, was the opaque look. I loved it. I found the idea on Pinterest.com, and I wanted to recreate it, and after 24 hours, I thought I had.


Alas. While I thought I let the paint dry completely, it turns out I didn't. I came home from work the next day, and found that the majority of my balls had paint settled in the bottom or on the sides, and they were very, very non-opaque.


It was pretty disappointing.

So my ornaments aren't perfect. At the end of the season, before I pack up my tree, I'll repaint the insides and give them days and days to dry so that I am certain of getting my opaque ornaments for next year. Because this is my new tradition. A Thanksgiving-Christmas tree. I love the harvest color palette. I love the fact that Thanksgiving is being recognized beyond Thanksgiving weekend. And I love the fact there are turkeys on my tree. And leaves. And acorns.

I wish you could see it in person. I really am very pleased with it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Romney

Why I wanted Romney to win:

There are lots of reasons, but I can sum up my reasons in three or four points. I wanted Romney to win because I trust him more than Obama, I think he's a hard worker, I know his morals and his standards and I agree with them.

I wanted him to have the opportunity to prove himself. There have been so many things that Romney has had to spend his entire campaign fighting against (e.g. his Mormonism) that he didn't have the chance to really focus on the real issues. He also had to work against the people in his party who kept making absolutely ridiculous comments ("legitimate rape", etc.) that had nothing to do with him.

And with the economy being the big issue, I think that Romney is the man better suited for the job. There was a lot of criticism towards Mitt and his inability to give his plans to HOW he was going to balance the books and create jobs, but, I attribute that to the fact that he needed a chance to see the books.

Watching some of the news programs and the coverage on the election, there have been comments about what's next for the Republican party? The thing that I like best about Romney, is that he is a moderate. Is the GOP lamenting the fact that they didn't chose someone more conservative? I hope not. If the uber-conservatives that have made news throughout the campaign, the ones that have alienated women, the Hispanic voters, etc., are representatives of what the conservative side is supposed to be  There was a comment that the Democrats are more representative of the landscape of America, while the Republicans are looking backwards. I didn't think that was true of Romney. Despite his Mormonism, despite his wealth, despite the stickler things that he has been criticized for this past year, I think that Romney was the man we needed to do the job and I think that he is forward thinking enough to have done it.

But the election has been called. There's not much hope that there is a stack of Romney ballots in Ohio and among the other swing states that will change the tide. Four more years with circumstances largely the same. I think America can weather it. I'm not saying that we won't be worse for the wear, but I think we'll survive. I'm interested to see how Obama will run these next four years, now that he doesn't have to worry about an upcoming election. 

Siiiiiiiigh.


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