Saturday, May 29, 2010

Oh boy

Start of the summer and things are going pretty good. It is WONDERFUL to see all of these people again. I love it, I truly do. Did you ever feel like you just belonged? That's me, here, with these people. It is a bit of an exaggeration, but I can't remember a time I felt so loved before.
But along with this summer comes a lot of hard work. Ideally, I would like to get all properties done before I have to start stage managing. Realistically, this is not going to happen, but in my fantasy world where what is possible is thrown out the door, I can do this. I suffer from my own non-realistic visions. But it keeps me going, keeps me working. I even feel guilty about writing now. Why? Because instead of typing a blog that doesn't matter, I should be typing up the script I'm working on. So yeah, I am a slacker sometimes.
I had planned on an entirely different evening. I was going to work, work, work and get stuff done. But Zach came in and pretty much told me I needed to come to dinner tonight. A good friend of ours, Abe Hunter, amazing pianist and cook, was giving a dinner party for us. Now, who in their right mind would hesitate? That idiot would be me. I was supposed to work like crazy and then have time to join some friends for drinks after. Instead, I had to go to a dinner party.
And I was very glad I did. Mr. Hunter is amazing. We had tomato, mozzerella, and basil with some viniagrette for starters, real chicken parmesean for dinner, and limoncello for dessert. Dinner was a slow progression, interrupted by plenty of talks and stories, as well as some opera performances. Truly, the night was something to marvel at. That was the most sophisticated things I have ever done. A meal with courses, opera, and intellectual discussions on jazz. It was wonderful.
But in our amazing time, we (collectively) let someone down that we had promised to meet. I had to cancel dinner plans with some people I was really looking forward to seeing, and I missed a chance to see one of my most favorite people in the world. On top of that, I didn't get anything done. I had a good time, but I am back in the real world now and all I feel is guilt.
My only comfort is the amazingness of the night we had.
Still, it bothers me. When can I just relax for a change and not feel bad about it?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Recipe - Tamale Pie and Kool-Aid Sherbert

Yum! Simple, cheap, delicious, hearty, and open for reinterpretation. Mom wrote this recipe down from I don't know where, and we had it tonight.

Tamale Pie
1-2 cans of chili ; 1/2 can of corn ; 1- 1 1/2 lb ground hamburger or turkey ; 1 onion (chopped) ; 1 box cornbread mix ; 1 c. cheddar (shredded). First, brown meat and onion together. Mix in the corn and chili with the meat. Pour into baking dish. Top with cheese. Make the batter for the Cornbread as directed, and pour into the dish. Bake as directed by the cornbread box.

You know what I like about this? Plenty of options! This is kind of the base idea, and you can customize this as much as you want. I'm thinking cut it in half, add some Rotel, add some seasoning to the meat, and use mexican cheese - but it also works wonderfully by itself. The sweetness of the corn mixes perfectly with the savory chili and meat.
You know what else I love about this? CHEAP! and EASY!

Another must try: Kool-Aid Sherbert. Can't afford ice cream and want something cold and sweet? Take 1 package of Koo-aid (your choice), 3c milk, and 1c sugar. Stir together until sugar is dissolved. Freeze a couple hours. Beat mixture for a while, put back in the freezer until firm.
Easy and cheap. It's incredibly sweet, so its not something you should do often. It is also really hard to scoop out when it is completely frozen, so it would be best to either serve as soon as it is at the easy scooping stage, or set it out awhile before serving.
Mom and I decided to try Strawberry, and let me tell you, it is delicious. Cheap person's sorbet. It is incredibly creamy and packed with flavor. Perfect for "can't afford to go out" dessert. Delicious!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Etiquette: On the Street

A lot of people could take a little hint from this chapter.
How to behave in public by Emily Post.
Please keep in mind that a lot of these rules existed from courtesy and for the protection of a lady in a different time - a beautiful time when there was horse-drawn carriages and ladies wore long gowns to the opera.

*this one is a little complex- but only a little. When walking, a gentlemen takes the curb side of the pavement, even if he is with more than one woman. But this is only on the street. When in the car, at the theatre, a concert, or at church, he can where he likes unless they have aisle seats, in which case, he will assume the "curb side"

* Don't Attract Attention! Not to attract attention to oneself in public is one of the fundamental rules of good breeding. More people need to learn this, I think.

*this I find interesting - (back in the day) if you got lost in the crowd, instead of calling out a name to find your friends (which is bad breeding), just hold your hat over your head so the friends can recognize it and find you.

* Bundles: A man will not carry bundles for his lady. He is a man, not a clothes rack. A fine gentleman will offer to help with boxes, golf clubs, maybe even an umbrella. But carrying a clothes is not something men are prepared to do nowadays.

* Offering an arm: Here are a couple rules: a man offers his arm to a lady on any occassion when she may need his support - Not during the day, but always at night - when he is her escort at a ball, a dinner, or a wedding.

* Teej Tip: Speaking of wedding - ushers always offer their arms to the ladies of the party they are seating - if there is more than one lady, choose the eldest, and if there is no appearable age difference choose the one who is first in the party.

* Quick tips - helping a lady: in a car, man out first, offer hand to lady - into a car, man open door, put hand under elbow lady, help her in, get in after - dangerous footing areas, man go first, help lady - in general, a man only precedes the lady when the way is uncertain, or getting out of a vehicle.

* Keep in mind: these actions overdone ... are very bad; but applied with taste, they can be very enhancing.

* Place of honor is on the right. Rules about this have relaxed a little, but it is still prefered to seat a guest of honor on your right. It is the seat of distinction.

* The Question of Paying. In simplest terms the rules of to pay or not to pay rest in the common courtesy and the treat. A man should offer to pay for things if the guest is there at their invitation. However, personal items are not included, ladies. On other occassions, a man is not expected to pay. If he offers, it is expected that his guest should accept and thank him. Although refusing is okay, and keep in mind that no one likes to constantly be indebted to others.

* Teej Tip: Rule of Three - especially in paying. No arguments beyond three retorts! The offer, the counter, the counter-counter. Beyond that, it becomes an arguement and the likelyhood of someone being angered. **This is one of the rules, I have trouble with myself**

* In a public place like a beach or a park, you should do your best to not crowd people, stay out of traffic, and tidy up before leaving.

* simply put - do unto others as you would have them do unto you!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Etiquette: Conversations

This is an area I am disadvantaged in. I am a terrible conversationist. Mostly it depends on the person, but in general, after so long, I just don't know what to say. Especially if I keep getting one word answers. That aside, here is what Emily Post has to say on the subject. Keep in mind, that the type of conversations she describes in this book are not private conversations. This advise is aimed more towards party and general society.

* Ideal conversation should be an exchange of thought. This one is pretty straight forward.
* Stop, Look, Listen! Now, if you are thinking this is beginning to sound like an afterschool special, I thought so too. In general, it boils down to think before you speak, and listen to what the other person has to say. Like the first rule, this is an exchange - not a monolougue, so listening is KEY!
* watch your bragging! Doting mothers take notice. Praise is okay in small amounts, but overdoing it will more than likely cause irritation.
* a person of silence is generally more respected than a blabber. Greatly paraphrased, but the thought it there.
* Once is effective, twice is boring. Unfortunately, the golden rule of three does not apply here. Please, try not to repeat yourself unless requested to do so.
* of course, the golden rule still applies: do not talk religion or politics!
* Humor should be light but unmalicious! Wit is good, but it needs to be kept in check.
*Go fishing for topics. This was something I already knew: throw out questions which will catch the other person in the conversation.
* this one I didn't really think about: Conversation is not a race that must be continued at a breakneck pace. Silence is not something to be scared of, again, in small amounts. There is such a thing as the long, awkward silence, but you know those when they come.
* Best to begin with a description of yourself at the introduction. Include items which will lead to conversations - job information, hobbies, etc
*Best/Most Stereotypical Advice: When talking to a man, ask his opinion on something, anything. When talking to a woman ask her about the "relative values of the things people do or think or try for." - basically anything about life, love, work, or amusement.
* Choose topics that appeal to you, but don't be too intense. This is a lesson that I have yet to learn.
* General something to keep in mind: conversations should be pleasant and agreeable! Keep personal remarks out - unless it is proper and pleasant -and be tactful! Also, don't "air your dirty laundry in public" Society is an agreeable place, so keep it that way.
* Definition of a bore: someone who insists on telling you, at length, something you don't want to hear about at all.

So those are Post's words of wisdom. I guess it is nothing new. Everyone knows these general rules, but seldom think of them. I've got the "listen" part down pretty good, and when I listen to people talking to each other, I hear every blunder, every wrong, every mistake. I am a go-betweener. When there is war in conversation, even a hint, I jump in and try to navigate around it. When there is a misunderstanding, I translate. All of this in the hopes of making life smoother. However, when it comes to my own conversations, I blunder constantly. I'd like to think that I don't hurt anyone's feelings, but there is, and always will be people that you just naturally rub the wrong way. There are also people who will never be on the same page with you - and those are the ones that you have to wonder if it is even worth talking to them at all. But there is something this chapter has not taught me, that I think I can add. So, here is my Teej Tip:
* Keep in mind that everyone is worth talking to. Actually, it is more like listening to. People are incredible, and really listening to what they have to say will teach you amazing things.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Recipe Sucess! Cheese Balls Coffee Cake

Well, I post reviews for everything else on here, so why not do food? Added bonus is getting to share some DELICIOUS recipes with anyone crazy enough to read this thing. Maybe that's my way of saying sorry? Maybe not, but its a nice little treat for anyone checking in on me from time to time.
So, I can't take full credit for this one. It is based on something I saw Paula Deen's sons making, but I did a few changes, and now, this recipe is kind of a base for endless possibilities. It really is open to any kind of changes, additions, or subtractions you want to make.

Made it for Mom today. It was a hit. Mom loved it (either that, or she was being REALLY nice about it). Dad liked it - that's right, DAD liked it. He is the "tried and true" type, so if he likes something new, we'll be sure to make it again. Me? I don't mean to brag, but I loved it!

Cheese Balls Coffee Cake: 3/4 cup sugar, cinnamon to taste, 2 tubes ref. biscuits (10 count), 8 oz cream cheese (cut into 20 pieces), 1/2 cup butter (melted), 1 cup powdered sugar, 2T milk. Combine Sugar and cinnamon, set aside. Flatten out each biscuit. Dip piece of cream cheese in cinna/sugar mix, place on center of biscuit. Fold biscuit into ball and seal edges. Dip in melted butter, then roll in cinna/sugar mix. Place in lightly greased bunt pan in a single layer. Don't stack! Pour remaining butter and mix over the top. Bake 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes after baking before removing from pan. Whip together powdered sugar and milk. Drizzle over top of cake once it has cooled.

See? It's a wonderful base recipe with plenty of oppurtunities to personalize it to your taste. I think this one is a keeper. The cinna/sugar mix adds a nice little crunch to the outside of the biscuits and that mizes wonderfully with the creamy texture of the cream cheese. Personally, I think the glaze is a little too sweet for my taste, but its still good for someone who needs a little extra sweetener. As far as changes and substitutes go, the possibilities are endless. Add nuts to the coating, fruit to the filling, and sub some kind of juice for the milk, and you have a different taste all together. You can also make this into a stuffed garlic pull apart bread - which I will be tempted to try sometime myself. I'll let you know how it goes ;D

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Review: Rooster Cogburn (& the Lady)

Wow. John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn. Wow.
I'm buyist, but I love it. I've seen bits and pieces of this, but never the full thing. I'm glad I did too. And there is nothing like watching a John Wayne film with my Daddy.
So, the first thing I noticed was a bit of a similarity between this and The African Queen. Just a few generalarities in the plotline. This movie is a sequal to the Oscar-winning, True Grit.
It was recieved ... moderately at the box office and critics didn't think too much of it, but it is a nice film. There are several moments which are quite funny. Hepburn and Wayne are both wonderful, but there is something missing from this movie.
Still, it is quite fun. A good watch, although I don't think it is one I would see over and over and over again. It's definately a "once in a while" movie.
I'd have to say - 3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars

Personal Things

Got some news tonight. Something of a personal nature. Not personal to me, but personal to someone, so the details will not be recorded on this blog. Protection of the innocent, I guess. More like respect for the privacy of someone.
But it shocked me. And I wish there was something I could do. It seems like there is a major gap between me and some people in my life. It is not a gap that any of us created on purpose - but I can't say that we all didn't help it along.
More and more I am coming to see the faults in myself. I don't like them, and I try to change them, but they are apart of me, and hard to get over. I do hate this about me: I have a lot of trouble keeping track of people. Keeping in contact. That doesn't mean that I don't love them just as much, but calling someone up on the phone has never really been something I was good at. I'm not comfortable with people in general, and even more awkward with something that is not face to face. A bad excuse, I know, but a reason nonetheless.
And I know this is selfish, but I can't help but think if maybe I didn't have this problem with reaching out to those people, than I could have been a better friend to them. I don't want them to think I suddenly have this fake concern for them. Now is not the right time, but I can only hope that I will correct these things. And I can only pray for them.

Okay, moving on. That aside. Update on life: the whole 28 Days thing is going well. Today was only my 3rd day, but I managed to get up, despite getting only a couple good hours of sleep - and it rained today. So, I walked like I should, but by the time I got back I was cold, wet, and tired. After a nice hot shower and at least an hour or so of just lying under the covers, I accidently fell asleep for quite a while. Well, at least I was well rested when I got up. Went grocery shopping with Mom and got all the stuff for our "make your own" Mexican night. I love it when we do that :D Dad came home and we actually (sorta) made dinner together. It was really nice. Watched a John Wayne movie :D Again, really nice. In hindsight, I re-realize how grateful I am for my family. I am so glad to be home.

Look for the movie review next and then an update on my Emily Post learnings.

Monday, May 3, 2010

28 Days

I read somewhere that it takes 28 days to form a habit. If you do something for 28 days in a row, you will have become a habitual something or other.
Okay, so this is day 1.
Despite the fact that I didn't get to sleep until after 4am, I woke up at 6am. After a slight delay while I argued the pros and cons of starting my day on less than 2 hours of sleep, I got up. I tiptoed to the kitchen and had a quick bowl of Cheerios - Yes, that's right ladies and gentlemen -I had breakfast. I know, I still can't believe it myself. I slipped on my coat and shoes and popped in the headphones and was off.
I don't mind walking, but I am not a runner. So, I casually made my way on the sidewalks of the city to downtown. Basically, just making an elongated circle my morning route. My hope was to have a beautiful morning to myself on this first day of my 28 day trial period, but nature had plans for this day long before I did. But I still walk on, even when the grey clouds above let go a sheet of drizzle. Still, I continued, pausing only to wipe off my glasses a couple times.
Sadly, I find no comfort in the day or the act. Thank God I had my music. I never considered technology much of a comfort, but today I was so very grateful for the tiny mp3 player and its 1.7GB of music to make the journey at least bearable. The thoughts floating in and out of my head are not the inspirational, meaningful, or beautiful ponderings I had hoped would accompany me on this little trek. I should be grateful they were not depressing. They were just barely there - again, thank God I had the music to drown out, or at least distract from the humdrum unimportants of my rambling mind.
It's 7:10 and I'm back at home. I barely made my walk last an hour. Well, at least it was an hour. Tomorrow, I will try to keep to that, or better it. I slink into the bathroom and find the first comfort of the day in the warm cascades pouring from the showerhead. I stay in there too long. Oh well, enviromentalists and green activists go ahead and scold me, but I needed that extra 5 minutes. To make-up for it, I use a minimal amount of water when I brush my teeth. Okay, so that doesn't really make up for anything, but at least I'm trying.
Wrapped in my robe, I go back to my room, hang up/put away last night's laundry. I look at the clock and it is only 7:42. *Sigh* I can't fall back asleep, but that doesn't mean I can't be in bed. So I climb in and cover up and start to read. This should become part of the routine too.
It's now 9:05 and about 15 minutes ago I had the urge to write. Maybe this should be part of the routine too.
It is now 9:07 and the logic of my ideal morning is fading.
It takes 28 days to form a habit - and it takes 2 minutes to realize that minus the most pleasant part of the morning, the last hour and a half, I might be able to do this.
Here's the explanation:
I want to be better about getting out and walking. I am doing this mainly because I love walking down by the lake in Bemidji, and I want to get myself into a routine so that when I go there for the summer, I will have the habit to do this in the crazy, hectic summer days. The plan is to get up, eat breakfast, walk it off, get back to the dorms, and get changed before having to get on the job. The relative privacy of a morning walk is much prefered to an afternoon or evening excursion. Which works out okay for me since my evenings are either busy or exhausted. I just hope this idea grows on me. I hope the days get prettier, my thoughts get deeper, and my enthusiasm doubles. I also hope I will have the time to read and write in the summer. But that part isn't likely.
About the reading and writing. I found a lot of my old papers not too long ago, and I also found many of the papers from my two Creative Non-Fiction classes in college. I've been going through all of them, and I was happily reminded why those were, I think, my favorite classes. I took them for fun, mostly, and fun I did have. The professor's philosophy about first drafts was "Let the shit flow," so we let it flow - and we found gold piled in shit. They were more than classes. For an hour and fifteen minutes every other weekday morning I was in group therapy for the writing elite. I was incredibly out of league, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Most of the people in that class were way smarter than I was, and much better writers. I loved reading and workshopping their papers. I loved listening to the authors present their work, and for the first time in a long time, I loved sharing my work with others. We laughed, we cried. Through our writing we expressed everything kind of emption humans could write about. We shared memories, secrets, thoughts, observances, and intellectual style. It was the most exhilarating thing. In some ways I knew those people better than I knew my roommates. I was privy to their most inner thoughts and longings - because we were writing truth - truth that went beyond hard facts and into experience. I would give anything to take a class like that again. A writer's life support group.
It's 9:36.