#25 has begun…Beads of Courage

March 27, 2011 at 11:20 pm (Bucket List, Somewhat Serious) (, , , , )

Time for another update on my “40 before 40” list…and yet, again, thank God I have over 2 years to get this done. I am moving at a snail’s pace, but I am happily blaming Mother Nature for deciding to extend winter, effectively pissing in my Cheerios and making it impossible to find my motivation. Thanks, Mother Nature. You’re a peach.

Seriously though, one of the most meaningful quests on my list is #25. This item involves me donating 500 beads to Beads of Courage. I encourage you to visit their site, but in a nutshell, BOC has programs providing artisan-made beads to children fighting cancer. When a child faces an event in their treatment when courage is necessary, they are allowed to choose a bead, and add it to their string. When they have beat the disease, and have completed treatment, they are given a purple heart pendant, which is also made from an artisan bead. The program began in Phoenix, AZ, in 2005, and has expanded to hospitals in 34 states, as well as overseas.

Those who know me in real life may, or may not, know that I make handmade glass, or lampwork, beads. I’ve done so for a number of years, mainly as a hobby and form of therapy. To be able to know that what I am creating will help brighten the day of a child with cancer has been so incredibly liberating on the creative front. Nothing but joy infuses these beads.

My first batch of beads for Beads of Courage

I still have a lot of beads to make before I reach my goal. Right now, I am sending in about 25. But I have never had 25 more important beads in my possession.

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The Queen of Soul Was on to Something…

March 25, 2011 at 1:28 am (Dating is Fun, Somewhat Serious) (, , , , , , , )

Photo courtesy of Sukanto Debnath on Flickr

Ladies, we need to talk.

Some of you are acting in a way that is hurting your sistahs. Big time.

It’s all about respect. Yes, that same R-E-S-P-E-C-T that Aretha sang about in the 1960s. Except, some of you aren’t demanding the respect that is owed to you. And it’s making it pretty rough on the rest of us.

When I first jumped back into the dating pool, I hadn’t been actively looking for love for about 7 years. I figured it would be similar to the last time, when I would go on a couple of winner-dates, and then hit it somewhat lucky and meet a man I could stand to be around for more than an hour at a time. And he would court me, like guys do when they have enough respect for you to actually try to let you know they might care.

Was I wrong.

Apparently, a lot of you are putting up with a ridiculous amount of crap, just in the name of not being lonely. Because the guys out there seem a little, no, make that a LOT, surprised each time I’ve called them on their crap.

And what “crap” am I talking about? To be fair, I must admit, I am very high maintenance…I am talking about a man having enough respect for me to refrain from discussing his oh-so-average manhood until I’ve known him for more than 10 minutes. I am talking about not lying about something major, such as your age, or the fact your marriage actually failed once were convicted of securities fraud. I’m talking about basic manners, where you call someone if you have to cancel on plans, rather than blowing someone off altogether.

I’m talking about seeing me as a successful, intelligent woman, not a pair of boobs. I’m talking about dressing in more than a ratty T-shirt with your oil-stained flannel from 1983 the first time we meet. Out in public. Not in your garage.

I’m talking about something as simple as holding the door open for me, not because you want to get into my pants, but because it’s who you were raised to be: someone who is man enough to still respect a woman.

But back to you, ladies. You know who you are. The one who says it’s OK that he calls only once or twice a month for the booty call that leaves you feeling like crap the next day. The one who ignores the fact that pokes fun at your weight, or your family, or your clothing, during the first date, because it’s better to feel small and be with someone than be alone, right? The one who makes excuses for why he is treating you like an afterthought (the truth on that one? He treats you like an afterthought because you let him).

Ladies, you may not expect respect. That’s your choice. But you’re ruining it for the rest of us who have an ounce of self-respect left. You making it seem as if it’s OK to treat a woman like a piece of meat, like a toy. Because you enable this ridiculously bad behavior every time you agree to see him again, every time you let him off the hook for his thoughtlessness, every time you demean yourself for the sake of being in a “relationship”.

So, ladies, please do me a favor. Do all of us self-respecting women a favor. Look at yourself in the mirror. Really look at yourself. And I want you to repeat to yourself, over and over again, until you believe it: “You are worthy of respect. You deserve to be treated better. You will not allow him to diminish your self-worth.”

Once you believe the message, send it loud and clear to those men who want you to accept their crappy behavior. Make it known that you deserve everything Aretha was singing about. Don’t accept anything less.

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Now with more Neil Gaiman

March 20, 2011 at 6:07 pm (Funny at least to me) (, , , , , , )

I didn’t realize how unbelievably awesome eBay really is. I mean, I knew I could go there and bid outrageous amounts of money on an old dishrag that showed the image of our Lord after mopping up an oil stain. That’s pretty cool. But imagine my surprise when I searched for one of my favorite authors and guess the hell what?

Neil Gaiman for sale!!!

Neil Gaiman for sale!! Now with Buyer Protection!

That’s right, kids. I can buy Neil Gaiman on eBay! And what’s better, they also offer me eBay Buyer Protection…in case, upon receipt of my Neil Gaiman and I find he’s not quite up to snuff, I can send his ass back.

I could have also titled this post: reason #246 that search engines suck. But what would be the fun in that? And if you don’t know who Neil Gaiman is, SHAME ON YOU!

So now that eBay is apparently in the business of human trafficking, who would you buy?

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#28 is done…hello cherry pie!

March 14, 2011 at 11:36 pm (Bucket List, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

Cherry Pie Goodness

Cherry Pie Goodness fresh out of the oven.

When I first put together my “40 before 40” list, I wondered which number I would cross off first…would it be an altruistic endeavor, such as signing up for the Bone Marrow Registry? Would it be something creative, like signing up for a stained glass class, or finally making some resin jewelry?

Nope. Silly me. Of course it would have to do with food.

But it’s not my fault, since today is Pi Day, and I share a classroom with two other teachers who are always looking for a good excuse to bring in yummy food. So when my one roomie suggested we bring in pies for Pi Day, who was I to rain on the celebratory parade?

#28 on my list was to make a homemade pie. Any kind, just homemade. Now’s probably the good time to mention that I really don’t like baking all that much. Measuring is for sissies, and I prefer to cook without recipes (which has resulted in some very tasty, and some very toxic dishes).  So baking a pie was a pretty big deal for me…seemed like the most imposing type of dessert I could manage.

Yes, I cheated a little bit. I bought a frozen pie crust, because I couldn’t stand the thought of actually breaking out the rolling pin. But the crumb topping I made was such a royal pain in the ass, I feel totally redeemed for the store-bought crust. Another reason I don’t like baking–it tends to be a pain in the ass.

So what did I learn from #28? You shouldn’t let fruit pies tip, not even a little bit…and you definitely shouldn’t try to counteract the effect by tipping it drastically in the other direction. Thank goodness I was on my toes this morning, and was able to avert the near pie destruction. I also learned I really don’t like making pies. I learned that my roomie who suggested “Pie Day” doesn’t like cherry pie. I learned that when you work with teenagers too long, you can’t write the word pie any longer without starting to snicker and thinking of dirty jokes.

And the world is a better place because of my pie.

More Cherry Pie

Cherry Pie. So easy a caveman can do it. Or me.

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NFL = Need a F*cking Life

March 13, 2011 at 9:16 pm (Somewhat Serious, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Photo courtesy of Zolotkey on Flickr

If I see one more report on the news about the poor NFL players, who already make millions of dollars, complain about being shafted by the owners, who also make millions of dollars, I may just learn how to throw a football properly so I can chuck one at Roger Goodell’s head.

What’s ironic, at least to me, is that this NFL labor dispute is happening the same time collective bargaining rights have been stripped from state employees and teachers in Wisconsin. Unions, especially teacher’s unions, are being made into social pariahs. Yet, I am supposed to give a damn about over-paid athletes and their greedy money-grubbing owners not being able to achieve labor peace.

What’s even more ironic, is I have yet to hear that the NFL players should be stripped of their bargaining rights. It’s OK for them to make millions of dollars, because enough people in the nation won’t blink an eye at handing over thousands of dollars a season to attend games and buy memorabilia. But ask people to pay 1% more to support education in their local community and you would think we had asked them to donate a kidney in a back alley. Because, God forbid, we mess with their weekly excuse to drink copious amounts of beer while watching our modern version of the Roman Colosseum.

I’m not anti-football. My family grew up loving the Buffalo Bills, so you don’t need to preach to me about the passion everyday people can have for a sports team, and how it can benefit local pride.

I am pro-education. And to attack teachers for wanting a decent salary, while not even blinking an eye as these athlete/entertainers demand more money per year than the average person makes in 20-30 years speaks to how really messed up our values have become in this country.

The average cost of an NFL game ticket for this past season was $76.47 (ProFootballWeekly.com).  There are 16 regular season games. That’s $1223.52 for a single seat, for a single season, not including any pre-season or playoff games. And people will pay that at the drop of a hat to watch grown men beat the snot out of each other for 60 minutes a week.

Ask the same household to spend that on education for an entire school year, of minimum 180 days, with a minimum of 180 minutes of instruction PER DAY, and the uproar begins. How dare the schools bleed us dry? Their only job is to educate our children and they can’t even do that…right?

Education in this country is never going to improve until we value it more than we do our entertainment. It will never improve until we stop blaming teachers as the reason there’s not enough money to educate our children. It will definitely never improve when some parents make it clear they are willing to spend ridiculous gobs of money on a hard plastic stadium seat, but vocally decry schools for needing money to buy books and pay good teachers.

Let the NFL have it’s lockout. The world will keep spinning. Even more, life in the United States will not begin to crumble.

Keep attacking the teachers and pulling money away from education, and society will crumble. In fact, it already has. The barbarians are at the gate, but they joke’s on us…we are the barbarians, and we are breaking down the walls of our country.

P.S. I wrote this before the tragedy in Japan. Now, more than ever, I hope people begin to gain perspective on how ridiculous it is that we are allowing ourselves to give a rat’s ass about a bunch of whiny megalomaniacs (on both sides) wanting a bigger piece of the pie.

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Guinness is good for you…you’re welcome

March 10, 2011 at 12:32 am (Funny at least to me, Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Everything I try to write tonight is being shoved aside in my brain by this confectionery orgasm:

Photo Courtesy of Stone Soup on Flickr

It’s a cake. It’s a Guinness Cake. That’s right, yo, a freakin’ Guinness CAKE! This makes me want to weep, it’s that beautiful.

I spotted the Guinness Cake on, of all places, a Facebook Ad. And then Facebook decided to eff with me, because as soon as I spotted the Guinness Cake ad, my screen refreshed, and it was gone. GONE! But by the power and grace of google, I discovered Guinness Cakes a-plenty…now I just have to make it. And eat it. Because Guinness is good for you. So it’s a health food. Healthy living, brought to you by me. You’re welcome.

From epicurious.com

GUINNESS CAKE

Cake

  • 2 cups stout (such as Guinness)
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups sour cream

Icing

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Line with parchment paper. Butter paper. Bring 2 cups stout and 2 cups butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer cakes to rack; cool 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack and cool completely.

For icing:
Bring cream to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chopped chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Refrigerate until icing is spreadable, stirring frequently, about 2 hours.

Place 1 cake layer on plate. Spread 2/3 cup icing over. Top with second cake layer. Spread 2/3 cup icing over. Top with third cake layer. Spread remaining icing over top and sides of cake.

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