Sunday, November 29, 2009

OMG! Nigella Lawson's Rocky Road Bars are Sinfully Delish!

When SELF Magazine arrives I read it cover to cover and Nigella Lawson's Christmas Rocky Road recipe caught my eye this month. While it isn't quite Christmas yet, the recipe sounded so easy and tasty, I had to make them as a Thanksgiving dessert.

You can find the recipe over at SELF Magazine here.

Here are the modifications I made:
  • Rather than bittersweet chocolate chips I used dark chocolate chips.
  • I have no idea what amaretti cookies are so standing in the baking aisle at Wal-mart I Googled and found out an amaretti cookie is a coconut macaroon so found some generic, hard macaroon.
  • Didn't use the confectioner's sugar (didn't have it in my pantry).
You can see the result - yum!

Also made for Thanksgiving were Ina Garten's Cheese Straws (she's also known as the Barefoot Contessa). Well, I really didn't make them, I watched and video taped Stephanie make them (had Thanksgiving dinner with her, her husband and some of other family members). Check out the YouTube here and find the Barefoot Contessa's recipe here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Do Politics and Money Mix?

Politics. The more I try to learn and understand the less it makes sense.

"Government isn't common sense," I've been told when I question why things are done a particular way.

Last week by a 4 to 1 vote our County Commission voted to eliminate at least 20 some jobs in exchange for a lawn maintenance contractor because over two years, this will allegedly save the County 2.5 million dollars.

Wow. 2.5 million dollars is a lotta money especially for taxpayers. But, let's look at this logically. Will eliminating 20 jobs save the government overall? I suspect these 20 workers will be claiming unemployment - where does that money come from? They'll probably qualify for food stamps and the utility bill support program. I wonder, will government money be supporting them? Hmmm, where does the government get their money for these support programs? Perhaps, could it be, the tax payer? (*sarcasm*)

Then, they won't be stimulating the economy because they won't have jobs and extra income to not only buy necessities but also the splurges. These 20 probably won't be dining out in the restaurants or engaging in recreational activities requiring a fee (yes, there are plenty of free things to do). Since they won't be driving to work, they won't be buying as much gas. The reduced and lack of spending means the County tax base will be reduced.

"But," you say, "the new contractors will be contributing to the County tax base."

Really?

If the County is saving on one end, this means the contractors probably won't be making as much money as the employees meaning they will have less discretionary income to spend in the County which again means, reduced tax base. These contract workers probably won't have medical benefits either which means if they get ill, they'll be congesting the emergency rooms rather than visiting a doctor's office or clinic and the government will be paying their bills.

Will these workers be making enough to put food on the table? Maybe not, perhaps even though they'll be employed they will need government assistance for food or other services.

I could continue with my rant but unemploying 20 people for what seems like cheaper labor doesn't make sense when looking at the big picture. And this, my friends, is coming from a taxpayer.

Photo: Cabbage Key Inn, Nov. 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

'To Japan With Love' - It's Finally Here!

Excited is an understatement. Last week I received my contributor copies of the book which has been a lesson in patience. Check out my post about it over on my Solo Travel Girl travel blog.


Photo: My third-week host family, Hiya and Yoko. Sadly, Hiya passed away two years ago and I will always remember his kindness and generosity.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Whisker Away from Being Crazy Cat Lady

One more. That's all it'll take to push me into the crazy "cat"-egory.

Three cats in the possession of single woman is the definition of a crazy cat lady, at least according to ABC's 20/20 and the story they ran last week called, "The Line Between Cat Fancy and Cat Crazy."

Friday was one of those feeling sorry for myself nights and tuned into 20/20 where domestic violence was the apparent theme. What can be a better ego-booster than watching stories about women in abusive relationships knowing being single, I can do what I want and no one is beating up on me or trying to kill me?

The first story was about teenager who had her jaw blown off by jilted ex-boyfriend in an attempt to kill her. The end segment was a follow up story on Rhianna and the impact her interview the week prior (about Chris Brown beating on her and saying buh-bye to him) had on other women in abusive relationships.

And the middle story? About crazy cat ladies. Watching I realized I'm one cat and one whisker away from being a crazy cat lady! Sure, I joke about it and purposely limited my cat collection to two - although they were unplanned acquisitions - but didn't realize the universe has set parameters into the dynamics of being a crazy cat lady.

I'm pretty certain terms like "pathetic" and "lonely" were used during the piece. Ouch! How insulting to single women with any number of cats. The filmmaker who documented the lives of four cat ladies has apparently deemed herself an expert in determining what makes a crazy cat lady and according to her I'm on the brink!

Yikes! As if I'm not self conscious about living single and all the insecurities associated with that (like people starring at me while dining alone) I now need to worry about others thinking of me as the crazy cat woman on the brink when I'm shopping for gallons of cat litter and Fancy Feast.

So what am I gonna do about it? Not quite sure. I'm definitely going to make an assertive effort to socialize more - with humans, not felines - and post fewer photo of my fur-children, err... my two kitties.

Check out this excellent article by Bella Depaulo called "Whose Really Nuts 20/20 or 'Crazy Cat Ladies'" and her reaction to the segment. Do we have a cat fight on our hands between single gals with kitties and 20/20? Perhaps.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Supberb Saturday in Sarasota

Yesterday can be summed up as "superb." I spent the the day in Sarasota, my old stomping grounds, experiencing some of what's new and enjoying some of my old favorites.

It started with picking up a ticket for Stephen King's talk at the Van Wezel Monday night along with voucher to purchase a signed copy of Under the Dome, which was released Nov. 10. The deal was brokered via eBay and while I should have faith in the credibility of eBay users, I was leery in the deal. Alas, all ended well.
Next was a visit to the Sarasota Farmers Market and an event called Sarasota Naturally with all sorts of tips for living well. A visit to Anna's (128 N. Orange) for lunch was next - my favorite Sarasota sandwich shop. They have delicious signature sandwiches like the "Surfer" (ham, turkey, swiss cheese and cucumber stacked on their unique "Can Bread" and topped with Anna's sauce). It's been about 5 years since having an Anna sandwich and although I craved the Surfer, opted for the Fiesta - liverwurst, salami, swiss cheese and onion on pumpernickel bread. Yum! (Pictured)

Sarasota is the new baseball spring training home of the Baltimore Orioles and yesterday was Orioles Family FanFest for both the residents and Orioles organization to get to know each other. Hall of Famer Jim Palmer was present along with manager Dave Trembley and players Brad Bergesen, Jim Johnson, Adam Jones, and Nolan Reimold.

The afternoon included a free hot dog, soda, ball cap, a fan forum with Q&A, and autograph session. Drawings were held for prizes, too. Getting caught up in the excitement, I gathered autographs, too, and need to figure out who to give them to. Catch video of All-Star Player Adam Jones answering a question regarding off-season training right here on YouTube and pictured above is Jones and Palmer. Additional photos can be viewed over on Flickr right here.

Up next was a trip to the theatre, the movie theatre that is for The Men Who Stare at Goats - loved it! Smart comedy.

And, the evening was topped off with the inaugural roller derby bout for the Sarasota Roller Girls. It was good catching up with friends who also came out to see Sarasota history in the making. Considering the team's been around for three months, losing 182 to 61 to Fort Myers Derby Girls ain't THAT bad. They have plenty of time to train and prepare for 2010. I captured some video and have one posted on YouTube right now, check it out.

I spent most of the day alone although I was constantly around people. I saw former colleagues during FanFest and it was great catching up with them and meet new people. As I write this it's Sunday night (which most of the day was spent preparing for company) and I'm saying goodbye to another weekend. I have the Stephen King lecture to look forward to tomorrow and will have a short work-week before taking on the next adventure.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November Life Stream Update: Not Much

What have I been up to? "This and that" I like to say. That's because I really can't pinpoint what I've been doing lately other than being a slug. *sigh*

It's that time of year - the holidays. I should have been at roller derby practice tonight but wasn't feeling up to it. Not sure if it was because I ate some bad sushi or just the desire to hole up and hide away from the world.

This is the time of year when I'm reminded of singleton status and constantly wonder what's wrong with me. I wonder why I attract guys who...well, suppose I shouldn't proceed with what I'm really thinking. Not sure why this bothers me so much or perhaps, why I'm so deficient in this aspect of life. I seem to excel in everything else except relationships which seems to be the most important part of life.

So....

I have decided to take all my wacky life experiences over the past few years and use it as "research" for a chick lit novel. Will I ever get it finished? I hope so. I found a useful outline to help me accomplish this, I just need to DO IT!

I also received a copy of German Level 1 from Rosetta Stone (FTC Disclosure - this was received as a gift from the Rosetta Stone representative as part of attending TBEX 09) and need to crack that open, too. Would like to hit Europe next year for the 40th birthday especially since 2009 was a year without international travel for me.

Next week company is coming and I need to make reservations for that - Orlando hotel, etc.

Suppose the biggest news is the leather sofa I purchased today. This was a big step for me as I wanted to buy a place first before having "adult" furniture. I'm still renting and the new piece of furniture will arrive sometime in December.

Just wrote a review of AXE Hair products over on my Tallahassee blog - check it out here. (FTC disclosure; received product as a gift from AXE rep).

For now, I'm in slug mode and it may take until Feb. 15, 2010, to snap out of it but for my sanity, (and for my readers) I hope not.

Since sleeping kitties seem to be a happy image, here's a snapshot of Sunny. He's getting big! And my disclaimer: although I joke about it, I'm not the crazy, single cat lady!

Monday, November 09, 2009

MEDIA RELEASE: Bradentucky Bombers Roller Derby League Walking to Raise HIV and AIDS Awareness

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Amanda Jesse
Tel: (941) 803-8237
amanda@goporcupine.com

MEDIA RELEASE

Bradentucky Bombers Roller Derby League Walking to Raise HIV and AIDS Awareness

Local Roller Derby Girls Supporting 4th Annual Sarasota/Manatee AIDS Walk

Bradentucky, Fla. (November 09, 2009) – Members of the Bradentucky Bombers Roller Derby League will join other Southwest Florida residents to raise money to fund local HIV and AIDS awareness efforts and support programs during the 4th Annual Sarasota/Manatee AIDS Walk benefiting Trinity Charities on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV or AIDS. Locally, Trinity Charities offers various support programs for those infected and affected by the virus.

Roller derby fans are encouraged to register and join the Bradentucky Bombers for the two mile walk at the New College campus in Sarasota. Registration is between 8 and 9 a.m. at the Sudakoff Center (5845 General Dougher Place, Sarasota) with the walk following. Food, raffles, music and prizes are included in the morning activities. The walk is co-chaired jointly by Trinity Charities and New College. Online registrations are being accepted at www.trinitycharities.org.

For those unable to walk they can support a walker or a registered team. All they need to do is select “Support a Walker” from the walk registration section of www.trinitycharities.org and choose whether to support an individual walker, a team, or the walk.

About the Bradentucky Bombers
The Bradentucky Bombers is an all-female, full-contact, flat-track roller derby league representing Bradenton, Sarasota, and Venice and pride themselves as strong women rolling for a strong community.

The league is the Las Vegas "love-child" of founder Gigi RaMoan. Conceived in the bathroom of the Double Down Saloon as Gigi admired the "Sin-City Rollers" graffiti on the wall, the league was quite rightfully named "The Bradentucky Bombers" by her husband, Doug, mere minutes after its conception. That was a few years ago — 2006, to be exact. Today, The Bradentucky Bombers are 40+ skaters strong, currently consisting of two teams: The All-Stars (our "A-team") and The Nuclear Bombshells.

They range in age from 18 to 40+. By day, they are working wives, mothers, students, teachers, motorcycle mechanics, administrative assistants, bartenders, web designers, artists, and everything in between. But a few nights a week, just like Cat Woman, alter-egos emerge as they pull up fishnet stockings, strap on skates and transform into Bomber Girls, with names like Busty Bruiser, Mission Mary Position, Vixen Da CrusHer, Snow Wipe U Out, Mia Psycho, Julia Seize-Her, Yakuzza Girl and Signal 20, to name just a few.

Visit www.bradentuckybombers.com for additional information.

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Domestic Diva Sunday! Pot Roast and Banana Muffins

I love lazy weekends and this one was no different. Got in a little cleaning, minimal blogging (check out SoloTravelGirl.com for the latest), zero exercise (with the exception of a walk to CVS) and some cooking today. Today's culinary creations: pot roast, banana muffins, and corn muffins.

I've never made a pot roast and successfully accomplished the task today with my crock pot. Used the locally raised grass-fed beef and followed this recipe on About.com. It was incredibly simple and results are oh, so delish! The beef is so tender it's falling off the bone. Yum!


After putting the goods in the crock pot this morning I made a batch of banana walnut muffins using this recipe on the Cat Can Cook blog. I modified it a bit and used 4 bananas, 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, and included chopped walnuts in the dough and on top. In the immortal words of Rachael Ray, yummo!


Decided I needed cornbread muffins and since I have four boxes sitting in the pantry, pulled one out. They turned out OK but are the consistency of sedimentary rocks! They aren't hard as granite and don't necessarily crumble but they aren't soft. Cheese I had on hand in the freezer was added and rather than cow milk used vanilla soy milk. Maybe that had something to do with it! But, drenched in honey they taste alright.

Dinners for the week? Check, done!