Chocolate-Mint (Nightmare Before Christmas) Pinwheel Cookies

Lingie sent me a FANTASTIC link about writing earlier today. Please read it, especially if you write. I was totally inspired to flail my fingers away helplessly across a keyboard after driving 90 minutes in rush hour traffic to a restaurant my mom picked for her birthday dinner only to find out it was closed on Mondays.  I have also had a glass of wine as a result of said experience. Yup. This is gonna be real pretty. Here we go.

I had the brilliant idea of walking 4 miles to do errands and have brunch with BBKF Joyce while my car was getting an oil change this past Saturday right before playing a basketball game.  Bad idea.  One of my giant calves cramped up so bad at the end of the game, I couldn’t even put weight on that leg and had to sub out for the last few minutes of the second half.  Of course, this was the play right after my legs gave out after running so hard for a loose ball that I fell flat on my face. Smooth, real smooth.

Somewhere while traipsing along the sidewalks towards the auto shop, Target, the bank, brunch, or Old Town Pasadena, I thought of something… Everybody poops, but that’s no excuse to be full of shit. True story. How many people do you meet in your everyday life that make you wonder, “how have you gone through life this whole time thinking that way?”  They’re full of shit.  Also, the older we get, the more we tend to believe our own bullshit. You’ll be convinced you turned the heater off before you left for work, but end up coming home to the pre-heated oven that once was your home. Or you’ll say “pffff… I totally took everything out of my gym bag after basketball” only to find that your sweaty gym socks from 3 days ago pleasantly smell like fresh cut flowers. Or, does the latter only happen to me?

The point is, check yo’self before you wreck yo’self. This applies not only to preventing your house from catching fire and common hygiene, but it’s a good reminder to not make other people as crazy as they make you.  Make sure you’re assessing your thoughts and actions as objectively as possible.  It will help your friendships, relationships, road rage, everything.  Don’t live in delusion, unless you are above the age of 90. Then everything is unicorns and rainbows…and very big diapers. Besides, you won’t remember who you are anyway. What was it I just said earlier this week? I look forward to getting older?

That was my rant.

So, who’s in the mood for some COOKIES?!

These were part of my Holiday Bake-A-Thon 2012, in the vein of the tea theme I had going. Mint tea! Yes, it’s a stretch but mint and chocolate do go together. These are also probably the ugliest cookies I’ve ever made.

I followed the recipe that I found on First Look Then Cook pretty meticulously, but I think I should have used a small rolling pin to flatten my layers before rolling them into the log.  The recipe said to just use your hands to push the layers flat. DON’T JUST USE YOUR HANDS, unless you’re aiming for the Burton-esque look.

Hulk Mint Smash
Hulk Mint Smash

They were supposed to come out in nice smooth swirls, but they remind me of that weird looking hill that Jack is always singing on top of in The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Chocolate-Mint (Nightmare Before Christmas) Pinwheel Cookies
Chocolate-Mint (Nightmare Before Christmas) Pinwheel Cookies

I’m just going to pretend it was my intention all along.  They still tasted right at least.

Adieu 2012

For the longest time while I was growing up, I couldn’t wait to get old – even into my twenties.  Getting older was exciting because every birthday, I’d look over my shoulder at the year prior (or a few years prior), and thank my lucky stars that I am less dumb than I was back then.  Looking back a full year, I’m happy to say I am far less stupid (and bonus points this year for being far less pathetic!) than I was at the tail end of 2012.  I’ll also look at how I measured up to my list of goals set the year prior just to keep myself in check, and create my new list for the new year.  Goals.  Not resolutions. I hate the idea of New Years resolutions, since it’s essentially a statement of intent.  Can you achieve a resolution?  No.  Set some quantifiable goals or benchmarks. Better yet, set a goal you can check-in on every other month.

Strangely, one of my not-so-quantifiable goals for 2012 was to be more selfish, probably stemming from the fruits of a traumatizing relationship and blaming myself for being so persistent at trying to make something work that by-golly just was not going to work.  People always say “there’s no point in beating a dead horse”, but boy, I pretty much made myself the poster child for the wanted posters at PETA with my performance (like I said earlier, pathetic). I flailed around at indulging my own wants albeit half-assedly, but at the end of the day, I LOVE THE PAIN.  Wait, no.   But I do find myself trying and sometimes without trying to do the righteous thing.  There were still plenty of times I gladly bent over and took one in the ass for the greater good of someone else, be it a relationship, friend, family member, etc.  And I wore a smile doing it each time.  The difference is that I was a lot more aware of the situations I was putting myself in and to what degree I was enabling someone else to screw me over.  There was maybe one surprise in 2012, but I’m happy to report all the other times I saw coming.  Sad but true. Expectations of said people changed, but not expectations of myself.  Ultimately, I’ve just become a lot more risk averse, and have been quite complacent this way. And I don’t care WHAT people say – cats are ALWAYS an option.

This past year was not without ample challenges that God or Santa Claus or whatever higher powers that be sent my way. It was a roller coaster ride with heart-palpitatingly high climbs and stomach-dropping lows, more so with the life-challenges.  Looking back, one of my favorite moments was the day Iposted a tweet about how great the first month of 2012 was, only to come home that night to a house broken into and robbed by an ex-porn star.  Yes.  An ex-porn star (she got caught eventually).  She took everything your stereotypical robber would take – money, jewelry, and my favorite vacuum… and then there were some odd things. I tried spinning everything into positives.  The porn star took all of my Star Wars toys, which perhaps was Santa’s way of telling me I needed to stop living like a 10-year old boy.  She took my Nintendo DS, its case, and all of my games – but I was probably spending way too much time with it anyway. She took my HP TouchPad – the first piece of technology I had proudly overclocked and rooted on my own, but it was a crash-and-burn love affair that I got over once I had my way with it.  She even took my 2011 tax return receipts, my external hard drive of digital photos (labeled as such), and the business card holder my boss got me when I got my first promotion. I still haven’t figured out the logic behind those last three moves but they inconvenienced and pained me dearly.  Really, bitch?

Anyway, I digress.

Last year in the lurv department, the past that I tried so desperately and politely to put behind me kept trying to creep back into the present, and the present I tried to put in front of me couldn’t let go of the past. Frustrating, really. But life goes on. You’ll always be the recipient of someone else’s baggage, especially in (but also outside of) relationships.  If you’re lucky, you’ll find someone with theirs packed away neatly in a small carry-on.  If you’re not so lucky, you’ll get hit with $50 in check baggage fees for oversized suitcases so full, they won’t even close properly.

Then, there were lots of just… duds. My dad asked me last fall why I hadn’t had a boyfriend in a while, and I told him the last guy I went on a date with texted me the next day with “Hey there, Lesbian Allison”.  I couldn’t figure out why, nor did I understand what I think was a joke. These were the boys I was meeting. My dad with his bountiful words of wisdom sagely replied, “Boys are like parking spots. All the good ones are taken… and the rest are handicapped!”  Thanks dad. You are always the greatest with the pep talks.

Only you can determine your own happiness and what you can put up with.  Someone backed into my parked car in May and I was nearly grateful because they hit the area most damaged from the puddle of “rain” I ran over one night the month prior.  Santa had given me my chance to get it fixed.  Had that happened to Allison circa end of 2012, I would have wallowed in my misery for both accounts.  Ok no, but I would’ve been way more upset about it.

Key things that made me less stupid in the last year:

  • Creativity – Surround yourself with people who inspire you daily, especially if you need that extra push sometimes.
  • Enabling – Don’t enable people to make your life more difficult than it already is. Cut it off at the pass.
  • Control Freak – Worry about the things you CAN control. You. (Ok… that was more of a 2011 key learning, but it did carry on to 2012!)
  • Energy – Don’t waste your energy on ANYthing not worth wasting. People. Work. Boston Cream Pie. ANYTHING. Simplify your life – it only gets more difficult from here and you’ll need all the energy you can spare for it.
  • Stress – I should have finished reading DWoo’s book on stress management and internalization so I could fill in my key learnings and life applications here in this bullet.  (Sorry, JM. I will get to it soon!)
  • Boys vs Girls – Women are crazy and men are stupid.  Male stupidity triggers female craziness, which makes men want to bask in their stupidity, which makes women crazier. What?  Who?  Bitches be crazy.
  • Nerd – Ok, yeah I am. I thought it was just association by interests, but no. I am such to the core. Simon Pegg said it best.
  • Dogs – Not all dogs are evil.  Most, but not all.
  • Cats – I would sincerely rather die alone than marry and birth a child with the wrong person.

Cheers to 2013 and a false sense of new beginnings and a clean slate… especially to those New Years Resolution idiots who congest my local gym the first three weeks of January every year.  Just give up.  Accept it and give me my gym back.

The New Year really isn’t a fresh start, because you’ll never escape from your past.  However, as long as you’ve learned from it, you’ll almost find it a convenience to have it there to make you feel better about what an idiot you are not being anymore. To put it eloquently, I can’t wait for all the pointless fucked up shit coming my way this year, so I can get less stupid from it and still have my probably overinflated sense of self-righteousness in a year. Wewt.

Backlogged on baking posts from all the Christmas craziness. More to come soon!

Wine Cozy

I completely forgot to post about the wine cozy gift set I made Christina last winter until I was reminded while Christmas shopping on Black Friday last weekend.  I never thought I’d voluntarily stay up past 10pm to (of all things) go shopping, but Jamie is a very passionate bargain hunter and convinced me to go, especially since I too can appreciate the value of a dollar and a good bargain.  I don’t get to see her very often since she lives up north, so I figured how bad could it be?  I should have known I was in over my head when she said we should get there early because they were giving free Cliff Bars to the first 500 people in line for Target.

After over 4 hours of sheer mayhem, wading through a sea of red Target shopping carts being pushed by tryptophanatic zombies, and getting pummeled by an old lady who was literally running while en route to Macy’s, I managed to escape with a plethora of new kitchen tools and appliances. My Santa sack was filled with a 7-cup food processor, a blender, mixing bowls, frosting spatula, dough bands, a whisk, and some other goodies irrelevant to this blog.  During the weekend, I also acquired a pre-owned Ultra Power Kitchen-Aid stand mixer (holler) in exchange for $30 cash plus some of my baked goods – quite a deal!  Oh, the wonders I will make with all of my new toys!

At about 3am, Jamie and I parted ways.  She went on to another Target, another Macy’s, Old Navy, and some other places, and I got the f-ck out of there, slightly traumatized but content with my new treasures.  Jamie told me the next morning that she got home at 9am, took an hour nap, and woke up to go to a few more places.  Jamie, you are a beast.

So back to the subject matter of this post.  For Christina‘s wine set gift, I  threw in a bottle of cabernet and a pretty jewel-top wine stop from Sur la Table to match the cozies and coasters.

Wine Cozies, Coasters, Cab, and Jewel Wine Stop

The wine cozies make great gifts for housewarmings and wine aficionados (winos?) alike.  I recently made a couple more wine cozy sets as housewarming gifts for Shirley and Spencer…

Shirley and Spencer

…and Leslie and Tri, respectively.  As you might have guessed, all four of them like Hawaii – and who can blame them?

Tri and Leslie

Might make some more to throw on the Etsy account, which (I’m happy to announce) is now live.

Lace Earrings (For Sale)

For the entirety of the time I’ve been crafting or baking, I’ve listened to familiar sounds to help me focus.  At first, I would defer to having one of the Star Wars episodes playing on DVD.  I can’t tell you what it is – it’s just comforting to have it on as background noise.  As I got older and perhaps more considerate of the lesser affections my various roommates had for the trilogy (and even less for the prequels), I switched to music.  Adele’s 19 as of the last couple months has been my album choice lately, but even more so when I was making these earrings.  Perhaps a few of the tracks turned into my own personal anthems to an extent, but listening to her just made me wanna pump out some earrings!  Her voice is so soulful and, more importantly, calming – especially when I’m trying to avoid creative disasters.  What gets your creative juices flowing?  Send me suggestions!

Anyway, I really dig the look of lace earrings, and not only NEEDED to own a pair (oh yes, they will be mine) but I wanted to make them myself.  Having never dabbled in jewelry-making before, I bought a big surplus of supplies to make them a few weeks ago thinking it would take me a few tries to get it right.

Piles of Pretty Lace to Play With

I’d like to think the first pair didn’t turn out so bad after all, so  I ended up making a whole fleet of them with the extra materials I got!

Snapshot of the Different Lace Earring Styles

I was going to debut these little guys via this blog post, but Andrew trumped my big reveal (along with my photography skills) by posting the below on Facebook… along with another awful candid.  But that’s water under the bridge. #notbitter

"Snowflake" Earrings

I’ve also been toying with the idea of starting an Etsy account to sell some of my handmade things for a couple of years now, but never really knew what item(s) would make the most sense or have a high enough demand.  I unfortunately don’t have enough piercings (nor ears) to wear all of these earrings I made, so I thought these might be a good fit to start off my Etsy.

"Leaf" Earrings with Blue Ribbon - $8

However, when I looked into what people are selling handmade lace earrings for and the craftsmanship of their work, I got really intimidated.  Then, I figured, “What the hell, I’ll just be the Costco Kirkland brand of lace earrings and undercut my name-brand competitors”.

"Crochet" Earrings with Sunglow Ribbon - $8

With the exception of the “Snowflake” and “Floral” style, each pair of earrings is made using surgical steel hooks.  I have that type of metal in my knee, and haven’t had problems so those that have earring sensitivity probably won’t have problems with it in their ears.

"Floral" Earrings - $7

Bottom line is:  I’m selling affordable lace earrings!  If you’re interested in looking FABULOUS with these little guys, inquire within!

"Crochet" Earrings with Aqua Ribbon - $8

Pricing is included in the title for each pair of earrings.  I made duplicates of some of them, and can make more upon request.  If the demand is there for these, then I’ll make some more and start the Etsy account.  🙂

Halloween Mummy Cupcakes

In honor of Halloween, I made these mummy cupcakes to bring in to work today.  They’re just chocolate cupcakes with a frosted mummy “face”.

What are you looking at?

I tried my hand at using a frosting tip for the first time, but the seemingly intuitive ziploc baggie method was a complete disaster.  Luckily, I found this YouTube tutorial for How to Make an Icing Bag using parchment paper and it really helped!

Ziplog Pastry Bag. #FAIL

As you can see, some of my mummy cupcakes look like they got TP’d instead.

Mummy or TP?

Since we’re on the topic of sweets, I had to post this video a coworker of mine sent to me last summer. Kirstin Lepore, you are a genius!  Happy Halloween, everyone!