June 30, 2014

That Time I Lived Off Bread Ends...

It's time for another 20sb Cooking Challenge! This round is titled "Ugliest Dinner."

The rules are pretty simple:
1- While the goal is a yucky-looking plate of food, it must be something you actually eat
2- No non-food items may be included on the plate

So my entry comes with a story...

I used to work in this cafe in town where the only thing we could eat for free was the bread ends that would have otherwise been thrown away anyway. The discount for other food was only like 20% or something so I embraced eating the bread ends for free.

I think we were only supposed to use butter or jelly as a topping but, being the rebel that I am, chose to go with cream cheese. After a few weeks I decided that I was going to go one step farther and add some bacon. It was that chintzy pre-cooked kind which could not have cost all that much so what was the harm really? And I just used a couple of slices. I thought I was going to hate it but I really wanted the added protein so I would actually not be really hungry every time I worked.

And thus was born: the Bacon-Cream Cheese Sandwich (link will work on 7/1).

For calorie counting purposes, I started making it on pita bread (and specifically Joseph's - Flax, Oat Bran & Whole Wheat Mini Pitas), and then I just use a bit of cream cheese and two slices of "Hickory Smoked Fully Cooked" bacon. Put it all together and eat!

It's not really a "dinner" item but it was dinner for me at least two nights a week. It's not really gross looking, but it's definitely not delicious looking at first sight.

June 29, 2014

That Time I Was Plastic Free...

I just discovered that Australia has this thing called "Plastic Free July." It took about .5 seconds for me to be on board.

I'm already pretty "plastic-free" by having reusable food/drink containers/cups and always take reuable bags to grocery (and other) stores. But starting tomorrow, July 1st, I'm going to really pay attention to the plastic I come across and make sure its comes no where near me! 

Perusing Plastic Free July's site, I already decided on one project to try in order to reduce waste which is to make my own almond milk. The almond milk I buy comes in a paper carton but that is still waste even though I then compost them,and there's that little bit of plastic that is the spout.

I encourage all of you to join me and sign up. You can pledge do be plastic free for 1 day, one week or the whole month and choose to avoid ALL single use plastic or the "top 4": straws, plastic bottles, plastic bags & coffee cup lids. 

So stay tuned! I will be posting updates of my Plastic Free Adventures throughout the rest of the month and let me know if you also participated and if you blogged about it at all.


June 21, 2014

That Time I Read Lucky Us... (Review)

After I muscled through thoroughly enjoyed reviewing I Dated This Guy Once..., I eagerly submitted an application to participate in the 20sb blog tour of "Lucky Us." To be fair, this is a sponsored review but I probably would have wanted to participate in the blog tour either way since I really liked having external motivation to do some reading for the last review.

Lucky Us is being released July 29th but stay tuned... at the end of this post I'm hosting a giveaway of the book. One lucky reader will receive a copy of the book from the publisher by entering below!

"Lucky Us" Review

Lucky Us is a novel by Amy Bloom about a young girl growing up during World War II. We follow her adventures across the country (and back), and through her life, overcoming ups and downs, and meeting all sorts of people. The overall theme is pretty much love, loss, and the struggles along the way.

Something I found to be somewhat unique about Lucky Us was that Bloom told part of the story though other character's points of view in the form of letters written to the protagonist, Eva. I felt that it added depth to the story because it wasn't just one person telling everyone else's stories the entire time, and I got to experience the points of views from the characters who found themselves across the world in Germany and England.

Amy Bloom is a New York Times bestselling author and has previously written Away, Where the God of Love Hangs, Come to Me, A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, Love Invents Us, and Normal. 

Lucky Us starts off "My father's wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us." So we learn instantly what Eva's lovely mother is like and that Eva does not have the healthiest living situation. We do find out that her father is pretty scummy, and that Eva and her mother are his second family, but... still. Eva's mother ends up leaving her with her father, never to be heard from again. Thus leading to Eva and her newly-met-half-sister's journey from Ohio to Hollywood.

Eva's sister Iris is beautiful and talented and she was ready and determined to become a star. The summer after Iris' high school graduation, when Eva was about 14, the sisters snuck out of their father's house with every penny Iris managed to save up from every contest she'd won and headed west. They landed in a grungy apartment complex. It was what they could afford. The land lady, Mrs. Gruber almost made up for it with her kindness and friendship.

Just when Iris was becoming known, and was moving up in the ranks, scandal broke and Iris was made the scapegoat. Essentially on the blacklist of Hollywood, it was back to the drawing board and who knows what Iris was going to be able to do for work. Even restaurants and retail shops where Iris would be recognized wouldn't consider hiring her.

Along comes Edgar, their father. He managed to track them down, and the timing was actually somewhat fortuitous for the girls. Along with make-up artist, Francisco, who sympathized with Iris' downfall and wanted to save her, the group hatched a plan to move back across the country but this time all the way to Long Island, New York.

In New York, Iris and Edgar worked as the butler and governess of a newly-wealthy family. From here the girls and their father make new friends, find new relationships. Iris changes her last name and finds work on Broadway and Eva slowly but surely finds her calling. After several twists and turns and some turmoil and heartache, the gang learns what it is to feel lucky with what they have.

I found Lucky Us to be truly captivating throughout the entire story. It left me wanting to know how Eva's story goes on after the book ends. There were certainly some parts where I just wished the the author wrote it differently (why do people have to die?) but that's the point of storytelling isn't it? I've mentioned previously that I don't care for novels because I'm so aware of it being fiction and therefore "a waste of my time" but Lucky Us was easy to read and all of the emotion and details about the time period made me enjoy reading it. I might even find time to read another title by Amy Bloom if I ever make it through my stacks of unread books I already have.

In short, Lucky Us is highly entertaining and a great read and I would recommend it to anyone who likes things that are good. Bloom's writing really made it easy to fall in love with all of the characters, even the ones I sometimes wanted to hate.

Lucky Us will be released July 29th (available for pre-order).  For more information visit http://amybloom.com

The giveaway: 1 copy of Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

Use the Rafflecopter Widget below to enter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

June 10, 2014

That Time I Autographed A Steel Beam...

I was walking though one of the campus buildings and saw this happening:

Naturally, I was intrigued. I found the sign that explained what was going on and, in brief, the last beams that would be going into an addition to the building were laid out for anyone to sign to essentially become "part of the building."
I thought it was kind of silly but also really cool and needed to get in on it. There was very little room by the time I came by, so I decided to leave my mark in a different way.
Can you see it? Can you see it?
Yup that there is my "logo" and I felt it was a perfect way to be represented on the beam.

Too bad you can't see it once it's in the building.

June 06, 2014

That (Second) Time I Cut My Own Hair...

It's been two whole years since the last time I donated my hair. Honestly I can't believe it has been two years already. I pretty much didn't cut my hair in the interim because I was planning on donating it again. I probably would have done it sometime in the winter-ish because that's when the length started to get annoying, but it made more sense to wait until it was warmer and also so that I would have some extra length after the butchering. I really love having long hair so it hurts every time I donate but I know it's a really good thing to do so I suck it up and do it. 

And actually since finding Beautiful Lengths (alternative to Locks of Love) which only requires an 8" donation instead of 10", it's less soul crushing to cut all my hair off. As you will see, I ended up with my hair still being pretty long even tho I cut about 9" (allowing for the bands) from all my layers. 

The reason I did it myself? I have a lot of layers. And if I just banded it at 8" and cut, most of my hair would be too short to be useful. And even after a not-so-successful self-hair-cutting last time, I came up with a better plan for a good result, and tried it again.

Oh and sadly I somehow lost my "before" picture. I apparently deleted it by accident which really did make me sad because I love to see the change but nothing I can do about that. So instead of using really good before-and-after photos to put side-by-side, I found two random pictures that best showed my hair:
So even tho it is still pretty long and doesn't look like anything significant happened, it did. But not feeling tramuatized at least. Also the method I used this time worked out much better. The only touch up I did was I took about 1/2" off the very bottom and did some face framing. No need for a salon! :D

How I did it:
1) I collected my supplies: a ruler that is already marked at 8" from the last time I did this, scissors, and hair thingies.
2) I banded my hair in sections over the top of my head and moved the bands up to the 8" mark on the ruler.
3) I decided it was best to have all the sections tied up first and then start cutting from the bottom section. I did do just one side at a time tho because I felt like that would work out okay.
 4) First cut!
 5) I went a little longer with this one because it got really thin at the end.
 6) Another
 7) And another!
8) Check to see if it looks terrible. It doesn't (!!!)
 9) And the top section.
10) Not bad, not bad. A professional would probably still be better for for the ease of what I was trying to accomplish, this is way easier.

11) I did the other side, only two sections due to my side-part, didn't take pictures.
12) Look at all that hair.
I honestly think it came out pretty decently. I can't see the back at all. Didn't think to check in a mirror. But after showering and checking the layers in a few sections it over all looked okay to me. Layers start a bit shorter than I'd like, but I was able to cut a full 8" off all my hair so I'm pretty happy about it. 

I do not recommend trying this at home, but if you do:
1) Make sure to move the bands to the 8" mark before cutting!!!. I banded the first 4 sections into sections before making the adjustment and almost cut the bottom one wherever it was. That would have been very upsetting!
2) Make sure you are pulling your hair straight up over your head so that it won't get cut lopsided.
3) Standing on your tip-toes will not help you reach the end of your hair with the ruler. Yeah.

June 04, 2014

That Time I Photograghed a Bunch of Crap with My Phone...

In response to Kirsti's blog post of random phone pictures, and since I too finally got a new phone, here are some gems from the past year or so:

Oreo knows me so well.

Apparently so does Pop Tart. I tried really hard not to buy these but failed to resist and then ate all of them in about 3 days. Whoops.

I don't remember taking this photo, but it must have been after the short-lived-death of Twinkies. I'm still not sure how Hostess is back after all of that, but they are, so, whatever. Not sure if the Dreamies still exist.

Thanks, Natural History Museum. Because I'm not insecure about my weight already...

The giant cucumber.

I lost my mind a little when there were boxes and boxes of Creme Eggs 50% off after Easter. They are usually all sold before they can go on sale. I actually bought this many. I managed to make them last about 5 months.

The late-night pizza place that really doesn't want its seasonings to be stolen

Brand new product brought to you by The Biggest Loser: Celery!

They finally made the Cool Ranch Dorito Taco! Cause f*** Nacho Cheese Doritos.

Brought to you by the place that gave me a degree. It took everything I had not to take the sign to someone who worked there and tell them to fix the erroneous apostrophe.

The day I discovered that everything I own that isn't green is red. And sometimes all at the same time.

I need this bumper sticker for so many reasons!

The tiny baseball helmet being used as a sugar caddy.

I'm pretty sure this is every porta-potty from the tri-state area. And PA isn't even in the tri-state area. This isn't even all of them.