Ketchup and Mustard

I feel like I haven’t been posting as often lately, or even putting as much time and effort behind the things I do post. I think I have some splainin to do. My world has been busier than usual, and I want to catch up with you guys. Except I don’t like ketchup, so I say we mustard up!

mustard

I apologize if that immediately made you hungry for hot dogs. I understand.

Here are a few things that have been going on the past few weeks:

Diseases
My charming little eyelid infection both looks and feels much better, but is still technically hanging around. This little bugger is like the Donald Trump of my face. It’s arrogant, purposeless, and annoying, and yet I’m morbidly impressed that it’s still around after all this time, despite all the attempts to take it down.

It might also be sexist and xenophobic. Not quite sure yet.

On the upside of having frequent eye appointments, my eye doctor and I seem to have become bffs. We passed through small talk a long time ago, and have gone straight into serious conversations about my career plans, in which she forcefully encourages me to go into private practice. We also laugh about the intrusive nature of our small town, where neither of us can go anywhere without running into patients/clients. I assume, as her bff-patient, she’s not talking about me in those conversations.

She’ll probably ask me to be godmother to her son soon. And my answer will be yes, but only if there will be cake at the reception.

Babies
I just started volunteering in a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) at a hospital in Austin. Parents cannot always be with their itty bitty offspring 24/7, so volunteers are brought in to hold and rock the infants while their parents are away. Human connection is important for all of us, but it’s VITAL for the healthy development of a newborn. If you have some free time and are interested in doing something like this, contact your local hospital and see if they have a program available 🙂

I’m sure I’ll write a more detailed post about this at another time, but let me sum up the experience for you by saying it’s awesome — minus these rigid rules I have to follow:

  • Rule #1: Do not attempt to hurl tiny infant across the room like a football, despite tightly-swaddled and football-like state.
  • Rule 2: Do not kidnap infant. Despite his/her cuteness, he/she does belong to other people and is not yours to take.
  • Rule #3: Do not even joke about #1 or #2. Parents and hospital staff don’t like it.

 

Projects
As I briefly alluded to in a couple of previous posts (here and here), I’ve been doing some researchin’ and writin’ about personality disorders for a particular project that I’m patiently putting together. (If you appreciated the alliteration that occurred just now, I shall give you an internet high five. If you hate alliteration, then you’re a monster, and I hope your fingernails spontaneously fall off.)

 

…Anyway, this project is kind-of-sort-of-maybe-hopefully going to be a book. I feel very timid using the b-word for some reason, which is why I keep referring to it as The Project, which sounds vague and cool at the same time. I’ve told very few people about it – not because I’m not excited about it (because I totally am), but because I fear that, for whatever reason, it won’t come true.

 

Maybe I’ll get tired of it, and stop working on it all together. Maybe I’ll finish it, but nobody will want to publish it. Or else, maybe I’ll finish it, AND a publisher will love it, but a freak tornado will come along and wipe out the publishing company,  taking my precious manuscript with it.

 

Either way, it seems like the more people I tell about the book The Project, the more times I’ll have to explain why it didn’t come to be.

 

Does anyone else tend to keep new and exciting things to themselves, in fear that it won’t work out? Whether it’s a possible job promotion, a new hobby, or maybe even a new exercise regimen, I think a lot of us find it easier to keep quiet about these things so that we don’t have to have embarrassing conversations later. But that’s such a bummer,  isn’t it? I’m dorkally excited and hopeful about The Project, and I shouldn’t keep it to myself just to avoid an uncomfortable conversation that may not even happen.

 

Besides, if it doesn’t work out, maybe all these people I tell will say supportive and nice things, and regale me with stories of their own letdowns. They might help me feel better. And even if they don’t, I still shouldn’t view my losses as embarrassing – if nothing else, I can say I tried something new, and I learned a lot of interesting things.

 

 

Hmm. That sounds suspiciously like Therapist Me coming out, because Real Me wouldn’t have such a mature view of failure. I think I shall reward my inner therapist with some chocolate.

 

Advertisements

Positive Spin or Denial? You Decide

A common technique used in therapy is something called “reframing,”  where the therapist helps the client view certain concepts in a different (and usually more positive) way. What’s the purpose of this? Well, we mortal humans tend to see events or situations as being either “good” or “bad,” when most of time, they’re somewhere in between. For example, when we’re in love, we see the other person as being wonderful and perfect. We’re unable or unwilling to see any flaws. On the other hand, when we’re depressed, we experience even neutral situations as lonely and sad.

People seek therapy for themselves because they want to think and plan in new ways that will help them feel happier and healthier – and reframing is one of the first steps toward this goal. After all, if you think everything about your situation is terrible, and you don’t see anything to hope for, you’ll probably be less likely to make changes…because what’s the point, if there’s no hope?

Here are a couple examples of reframing…

“Instead of being stubborn, maybe you just know what you want.”

“You’re frustrated with yourself for feeling anxious, but feeling anxious is a normal and understandable response in your situation.”

It’s also a helpful technique in parenting – just like people get “stuck” on how to help themselves, they can also get stuck on how to handle certain behaviors in their children. Reframing can aid in increasing a parent’s compassion toward her child, and return her sense of being in control. By changing the perspective, it unlocks a new set of solutions.

Here are a couple examples of reframing in regards to parenting…

“Instead of seeing him as bossy, maybe we can see him as a natural leader.”

“The advantage to her hyperactivity is that she’s creative and energetic.”

Reframing is not dishonest, nor does it mean sweeping the core problem under the rug. It truly is just a different way to look at the same situation in order to return a sense of agency.  Of course, this wouldn’t be my blog unless I took something good and useful, and twisted it into something weird.

When I was in high school, I had a yellow shirt that read (in pink sparkly glitter): “I’m not opinionated, I’m just always right.” I cringe now to think about how obnoxious that shirt must have been.  Forgive me, fellow classmates, for inflicting that upon you. But when I push past the regret of early 2000s fashion, I can definitely see the humor in those types of mottos. They allow you to completely ignore any flaw or issue you have, in favor of seeing yourself in a more flattering light.

And I like that.

So I started thinking about some of my own weaknesses and issues, and thought it’d be fun to reframe them beyond recognition. At this point, it’s probably not “reframing” so much as it is just straight-up denial.

Some of my flaws, both before and after I “reframed” them…

 Before:

reframing1

After:

reframing2

Before:

reframing3

After:

reframing4

Before:

reframing5

After:

reframing6

Before:

reframing7

After:

reframing8

Before:

reframing9

After:

reframing10

Before:

reframing11

After:

reframing12.jpg

Now it’s your turn at denial! What do you consider to be your weaknesses? How can you reframe (or twist) these flaws to get a different view of them?

Happy Birthday, Just in Queso!

This blog-child of mine has officially been in existence for one year now! Yay! In honor of this event, I’ve decided to write an EPIC  poem that shamelessly links back to previous posts.

Just to be clear, I’m not calling it “epic” in order to compliment it. (Although I DO compliment my blog. I love you, blog. You’re beautiful.) No, an epic poem is one that is long, and usually about some sort of heroic feat.  The definition doesn’t stipulate what “long” means, nor does it specify what entails a “heroic feat,” so I’m going to take advantage of this loophole and refer to my work here as epic.

After all, one MIGHT say that keeping a blog is a heroic feat. I don’t know who that person is, but they very well could exist.

I’m just going to leave this here and back away slowly before you can argue with me…

It’s my one-year blogiversary
And of that, I’m pretty proud
So I thought I’d write a little ditty
Reliving my posts out loud.

How many posts have I written?
The answer’s one hundred and seven.
And in a moment of poetic perfection,
My followers are two hundred and eleven.

As you may have figured out by now,
I am a dedicated fan of cheese
I’ve tested many quesos in this joint
In search of the ones that please.

Texican Café’s was too greasy, and
Super Taco’s was way too thin.
Chili’s was a revelation:
Calling that shit “queso” should be a sin.

Shady Grove was pretty good, but
Even better was Jack Allen’s Kitchen
I could really go for some of that right now
That pork was really bitchin’.

The most recent trip: Texas Chili Parlor;
The journey started with Kerbey Lane.
Sazon was in the lead for months,
Until Mamacita’s set us aflame.

Some quesos are spooned in tortillas
Others have been dipped with chips
Some let us make our own concoctions
But they all had us licking our lips.

Let’s move on from queso now
‘Cause I could talk about it hours.
Don’t believe me? Read this love poem
That stuff has magical powers.

I’ve written about my hatred of birds
And my love for all things dolphin
I’ve admitted my desire to kidnap dogs,
Which would be an easy feat in Austin.

I’ve  penned a letter to my router
And another to my laptop
I’ve made a Christmas drinking game
And I’ve narrowly escaped a cop.

Let me think what else I’ve done
Oh! I’ve house-sat like a boss.
I’ve learned a lot from Jerry Springer,
And I’ve also defended Ross.

At times I’ve confessed to telling lies
Like that time I called 911
Or that genius scheme to steal all the chocolate,
Or what I do for Sunday fun.

My family isn’t safe from spotlight –
You’ve heard about Mom, Dad, and Grandma.
They weren’t too thrilled with my “pantyless” tale
(But they should be used to my choices by now.)

In an ideal world I’d include ALL my posts
But that poem would be meters long.
My brain is too full of useless info,
But for my finale: here’s the carb song.

Thank you to everyone who’s taken the time over this past year to read my posts, and even better, leave comments with your thoughts! I love you all, and if I were having a birthday party for my blog, I’d totally invite you over for cake. Unless the cake was that multi-layer fudgy chocolate kind, and then I’m not sharing any. You understand.

I’ve had a lot of fun so far, and am looking forward to the next kabillion years of blog-keeping! ❤

blogiversary

Queso Critique – Texas Chili Parlor

It’s been many a fortnight since my friend and I have gone on a queso quest, so we decided to pay a little visit to the Texas Chili Parlor on Saturday night. For anyone who may not know, my friend Amanda and I taste-test chips and queso at different restaurants in the Austin, Texas area. We judge the melty cheese on its consistency and flavor, and give it a score between 0 and 5.

Texas Chili Parlor is set in the spleen of downtown Austin, so naturally, our mission began with a $20 parking garage fee.  Don’t you hate parking garages? They suck you in, spin you in circles, and then spit you out on the opposite side of the building, so you have no idea where you are. They’re like concrete tornados. They’re also creepy and shadowy and murdery.

Not once have I died in a parking garage, but I’m pretty convinced that it’ll happen one day.

After leaving the concrete pit of doom, we had a short walk to the bar, which turned out to be the diviest dives of all the dives. The word “parlor” makes me think of wicker furniture and china tea sets – and this place was the exact opposite of that, complete with a flickering Bud Light sign, and a painted mural of a jungle scene. It was perfect. To add to the ambiance, a giant TV was playing the University of Texas football game, and every time they scored, the bar blared the UT fight song from the speakers. Luckily, this didn’t happen often… if you get what I’m saying.

The menu offered several different types of chili, made with various forms of animal flesh. Upon our server’s advice, we ordered our queso containing the Red XX chili, and anxiously awaited its arrival.

texaschili1

Hey, Queso. How YOU doin’?

Before we mixed the chili and queso together in righteous harmony, it was important to take a few bites with only cheese. You know, for science. We both agreed that the queso had a nice cheesy flavor, but no spice. It was also rather drippy in consistency. Sans chili, this dish would’ve been ho-hum.

But the bites with chili and cheese together? An extravaganza of yum. The meat was clearly the star of the show, but the cheese was a respectable accompaniment, and together, they created beautiful music. All of my troubles melted away. I forgot all about the concrete tornado. I didn’t even touch my margarita after the food came, which should show you how distracted and in love I was.

I was fighting to keep from eating it like a soup.

This wasn’t our first experience with chili-filled queso, but this is the only one that really counts in our hearts. We gave Texas Chili Parlor an impressive 3.9 score.

The deliciousness didn’t stop there. Feeling adventurous, Amanda and I decided to order two different kinds of the Chili Mac & Cheese – one with Venison, and one with White Pork – so that we didn’t have to leave having tried only one type. Both chilis came with beans, which goes against the usual Texas tradition, though I’m not sure why.

Probably, our state just doesn’t want food to be nutritious in even the slightest of ways.

We tasted our own orders, and then quickly traded bowls and tried each other’s. It was practically an orgy of chili and cheese. If you’re disturbed by that thought, then you’ll feel even weirder to know that things got a little sweaty. No, seriously, the place was pretty warm already, and then with all the spicy chili we consumed, we got hot.

The food doesn’t look that beautiful, and the terrible lighting makes it look even worse – but it certainly tasted beautiful. The White Pork and Red XX were our favorites, with the Venison one proving somewhat inferior, yet still tasty. I will definitely be back to this place. Possibly tomorrow.

 

I usually post a link to the restaurant’s website, but the classy parlor doesn’t have one. If you’re new to my blog, visit The Reason for the Cheesin to understand this cheesy project.

Winner Winner – TWO Chicken Dinners

One of the best things about living alone is that you can eat whatever you want, and however much you want, and in whatever clothes you want, without someone else around to ruin the ambiance with their disapproving looks. As a side note, this is also a downside of living alone.

I’ve recently started on an eating plan (not to be confused with a weight loss plan) where I eat multiple dinners a night. Lots of people swear by eating 5-6 small meals or snacks a day – but this isn’t what I’ve been doing. I eat a normal-sized breakfast at 8, a normal-sized lunch at 12, and then TWO normal-sized dinners in the evening. Sometimes the dinners happen back to back, and sometimes they’re more spread out. I suppose it’s not so much an eating “plan” as it is an eating happening.

And I’m not going to lie, I’ve been enjoying it.

It started out innocently enough. One day, I ate breakfast really late in the morning, so I skipped lunch, and then found myself starving at 4:00. I decided to go ahead and eat an early dinner like the elderly person I am. Three and a half hours later, I was hungry again, and helped myself to another meal. It didn’t seem all that unreasonable.

The next day,  I ate on a more regular schedule, but when dinnertime came around, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted taco salad or nachos – so I ate both.

THAT’S RIGHT, BOTH.

Another day, I ate a chicken sandwich before I was due to babysit my friend’s daughter, because I wasn’t sure if she would’ve already eaten or not. When I got there, I learned she hadn’t eaten, and  she requested leftover pizza. So I ate some with her. It was the polite thing to do.

I realized days ago that I was headed down a problematic path, but I seem powerless to stop it.

At least twice, I’ve had a reasonably nutritious dinner cooking on my stove, and am suddenly overcome with a wave of hunger so powerful, that I’m convinced I will faint away from fatigue before my meal will finish cooking. If that happened, I’d probably knock the pan over on my way down, causing the lava-hot food to scald me and then fuse permanently to my skin. It happens. Probably. The paramedics would arrive to find me unconscious and pantsless, with bits of food stuck to my face and arms. It’d be traumatizing for them.

In order to avoid that whole scenario, I thought it best to curb my ravenous hunger by eating something else while Dinner #2 finished cooking. And that’s how I found myself eating Dinner #1 while hunched over the sink like a guilty rodent.

twodinners1

Look, the US Constitution says nothing about how many dinners a person can have, or how healthy they have to be. I will exercise my American right to take advantage of that loophole! Plus, let’s face it, if this were all happening closer to the holiday season, my overeating would practically be fashionable. It’d be RESPECTED. But no, it’s early October, so gorging myself on fatty foods is suddenly “unhealthy” and “concerning.”

You know that cliché that says that the first step to making a change is to admit you have a problem? Well, they’re wrong. I admitted early on that eating two dinners is not normal or necessary, and yet, nothing changed.

As it turns out, the true first step toward change comes with the realization that your clothes suddenly fit more snugly. Step #2 is waking up one morning to discover that you feel ill and gross and walrus-like. I’m ready for change, but I’m unclear how to go about it. My plan right now is to spend a couple of weeks on a desert island, where my meals will consist mainly of coconuts and raw monkey. I clearly won’t want two dinners there.

Anyway, I shall miss you all. Send tacos. ❤

Has anyone else ever found themselves eating multiple meals like this, or perhaps indulging much more often than you normally do? What made you realize you needed to change? What did you do to help yourself get back on track?

Failure of Flapjacks

Back in August, I told you fine humans about a pancake contest I had entered. Austin’s beloved Kerbey Lane Café challenged area bloggers to create an original recipe using the restaurant’s own pancake mix.

As a fan of pancakes, and an even bigger fan of Kerbey, I was totally up for this challenge. I spent weeks brainstorming and attempting various concoctions before finally settling on three recipes to submit. Last week, the contest participants were emailed the results, and it turns out…

(Drumroll please)

friends4

I didn’t win. Womp womp.

But you know what? NOT WOMP WOMP. Yes, I entered a pancake contest and lost. Yes, I’m apparently a failure at flapjacks. But I had a lot of fun creating different things, and I got to eat a lot of yummy creations along the way. In this particular case, failure tastes pretty flippin’ good.

Get it? Flippin’, like in flipping pancakes? No, DON’T YOU DARE close out of this post! You have to give me this terrible joke. It’ll be worth it in the end.

I thought my fellow food lovers might enjoy taking a stab at one of my recipes and experiencing the pancakey joy for yourselves. It was tough to decide which one to share, but the one I’m ultimately going with is the only one that contains cheese, and this blog is pretty devoted to dairy, if you haven’t already figured that out, but even if you’re new here, you probably noticed that this blog has cheese in the name, albeit in a different language, but it’s food-related foreign language, so I don’t think that even counts, and I’m starting to run out of things to say, but this is a spectacularly long run-on sentence and I kinda want to keep rambling just to see how long I can keep it going, but by now you’ve probably skipped over this giant paragraph in order to get to the good stuff, and I have to understand, because I also have a short attention span when it comes to food, so for your sake and mine, I’ll stop, but for the record, if you’ve made it to the end of this disaster, that is really quite impressive, and you totally deserve to make pancakes for yourself now.

Whew.

Here is the Kerbey Cristo Sandwich (named for its similarity to the Monte Cristo Sandwich). Take a look at this baby.

flapjacks.jpg

Stop it! Stop licking your computer screen! You’ll frighten the children.

This recipe calls for Kerbey’s pancake mix, but you can definitely substitute any other brand of mix. I mean, probably. I haven’t actually tried it, so the measurements might be slightly off, but it’s not like the pancakes will explode or anything. Maybe. I don’t know for sure.

Liability release: if your food or kitchen appliances explode from using the wrong kind of pancake mix, you can’t sue me, or Kerbey Lane, or WordPress. You can still sue the internet though.

If you give this recipe a try, please let me know what you think!! If enough of you like it, maybe we can assemble an army of righteous pancake fans, and show up at the contest  judges’ houses with fire and pitchforks. Or we could all just sit down and eat some pancakes together. Either way’s fine.

Kerbey Cristo Pancakes

 1 cup Kerbey Lane Café Buttermilk Pancake Mix
¾ cup milk
1 egg
½ teaspoon salt
2 slices of Hormel Applewood Smoked ham
2-4 slices of cheese (American, Cheddar, and Gruyere all work great)
1 tablespoon butter

Whisk the first four ingredients away to a romantic night in Cancun. Kidding. Just whisk them in a small bowl until batter is free of lumps. Lightly grease a large pan or griddle with nonstick spray and place over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, measure ¼ cup of batter for each pancake and pour it on the pan. There should be enough batter for 4 pancakes.

Cook pancakes until the tops look dry and a few of the bubbles pop. Flip the pancakes over and cook for another couple of minutes until both sides have obtained that perfect summer tan. Transfer pancakes onto a plate, but do not turn off heat.

Slather butter on the pancakes and place one cake butter-side down on the hot pan. Lay on a slice of your favorite cheese and then slap on some ham, because darn it, you’re a nice person and nice people deserve ham! If you’re feeling daring, throw on another slice of fermented dairy product and top with a second pancake, butter-side up.

Grill until bottom pancake is crisp and browned. Flip sandwich over and continue grilling until cheese is melted and attractively gooey. (Pancakes will not have the same “grilled” appearance to them that traditional grilled cheese sandwiches have, but they’ll be beautiful in their own way.) Repeat steps to make the second sandwich.

Transport sandwiches to a plate and attack them down the middle with a knife. Pause for a moment to admire the cheese as it oozes out. Chow down on your cheesy, hammy sammich. Share it with someone else, if you’re feeling particularly generous.

 

 

 

Drunken Chicken Chasing

I work in a pretty rural area. How rural, you ask? So rural that there’s a house down the street from my office that has chickens freely roaming in the yard. There’s no fence to keep these animals confined. If they became fed up with their owners, they could totally pack up their chicken suitcases, put on their chicken fedoras, and head on down the chicken road.

But these chickens are either totally happy with their circumstances, or perhaps just not smart enough to escape, because they’re still there.

chicken1.jpg
Not the actual chickens in question, but still nice in their own way.

Sometimes, when my coworker or I get a little frazzled at work, we like to take a short walk around the neighborhood to clear our heads. We’ve observed the chickens in their yard – pecking at the ground, staring blankly at each other, and occasionally perching on a windowsill of the house.

We’ve formed a fondness for the chickens. And we want to convey our fondness for them by chasing them. Preferably while drunk.

I know what you’re thinking – why would a person want to do this? And I don’t really have a clear answer for you, Judgey McJudgerson. I just know that I want to do it. I imagine that’s the same answer you’d get from a dog if you asked him why he pees on fire hydrants.

Unfortunately, my boss has requested that my coworker and I keep our adventures on the legal side of life – which is a fair boundary. I guess. Before embarking on our chicken journey, I thought it’d be wise to interview a local police officer to determine whether this activity is lawful or not. However, the small shred of decency I have left made me too embarrassed to ask any actual police officers.

So, I’ve moved on to Plan B: I’ll just put myself in the shoes of a policeman. Not literally, because their shoes don’t look comfortable. Instead, I’ll  imagine how this conversation might have gone down, if it had actually happened.

Amanda: On a scale of 1-10, how illegal is it to chase another person’s chickens?

Police: I’m going to need a little more information here.

Amanda: I work in a rural area, and the house across the street from my office has chickens that just run around freely – no fence or anything! For some reason, my friend and I are overwhelmed with the desire to chase them, preferably while drunk.

Police: Wait, who’s drunk in this situation? The people or the chickens?

Amanda: The people, of course! We would never get CHICKENS drunk. We’re not monsters. Although, if we manage to catch a couple of them, we do have other plans for them. If you know what I mean.

Police: Oh God, are you going to cook them?

Amanda: Of course not. What’s wrong with you? We’re just going to use them to reenact The Lion King, only with chickens. We’re calling it The Chicken King. Clever, huh?

Police: So, ALL the animals will be chickens? Including the giraffes?

Amanda: No, no, only the lions will be played by chickens. The rest of the animals will play themselves.

Police: looks confused

Amanda: It’s okay, it’s a complicated concept. You see, Simba, Mufasa, and Scar will all be chickens. But Rafiki will still be a baboon, and wildebeasts will still be the assholes who trample Mufasa, who will be known in the movie as “Mufasa Chicken.”

Police: So now you’re bringing wildebeasts into this scenario?

Amanda: The wildebeasts will be implied, mostly because we don’t have access to any. Also, I don’t mean to make stereotypes here, but wildebeasts are a pretty uncooperative bunch.

Police: I’m still not feeling good that you’re technically trespassing, as well as maybe stealing.

Amanda: We’re not going to keep the chickens. I live in an apartment! Where the hell would I keep them? We’ll just film the movie and then leave.

Police: looks uncertain and vaguely scared

Amanda: What if I said that the chickens’ owners could participate in the making of The Chicken King? They could play Poomba, or maybe Nala Chicken, if they really show promise.

Police: Yeah, I’m not sure that helps.

Amanda: Well, what if we offered them 50% of the proceeds from The Chicken King? You KNOW it’s going to be a hit.

Police: Wait a sec, the movie’s not even happening unless you manage to catch some chickens. What if you don’t catch any?

Amanda: Plan B is to just chase them until we get tired. Neither of us is an athlete, so that probably won’t take long.

Note: no chickens or police officers were harmed in the making of this really weird blog post. I truly do feel a strange affection toward chickens now, despite having never cared about that animal in the past. It makes me question my love of fried chicken and enchiladas.

Note #2: Just for kicks, I did an image search for “The Chicken King,” and this was the first result. Seems legit.

chicken2