Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

Weird Things You Do When You’re Alone

27 Aug

Shout-out to “elaborate sitting positions”, which are a hallmark of my alone time.

I will also add:

Weird dancing/slinking about.

Obsessively tweezing ingrown leg hairs while watching How I Met Your Mother episodes.

Scolding myself aloud, especially while cooking (“Why did you put the salt there? You don’t even make sense!”).

Catching myself talking to myself and then scolding myself for that (“You’re crazy”).

Making faces/hand gestures at myself in my bedroom closet mirrors.

Exaggerated sighing or hurumphing when, after just sitting down, I have to get up to: plug in my headphones; cross the room; get a glass of water; pee.

Absentminded boob play.

How to Be Alone

21 Jul

I needed this poem today. Single or coupled, you can still feel lonely. Sometimes it’s because your other half is 800 miles away, but sometimes it’s just noon on a Tuesday.

I feel like there are so many different ways to be alone, and I’m okay with some of them and not so okay with others. Alone in public is a specialty of mine. Shopping, dining, seeing a movie, going to the zoo – I find such wonderful moments of contentment in these places, alone. I am never unhappy to take a yoga class, try a new restaurant, buy someone a birthday gift, alone.

But being at home alone is a special kind of tyranny to me.

Being in bed alone is the loneliest of the lonely. Waking up in the morning is quite nice – you get to stretch and roll about and move freely without fear of disturbing anyone; you can fart loudly and often…without fear of disturbing anyone. You can sleep in as late as you like without anyone judging you, or at the very least waiting on you. But falling asleep alone is so lonely it almost eclipses all the morning-after benefits. My heart grows heavy at night thinking of, well, everything – and it seems the only thing that makes it lighter is sleeping next to someone you love who loves you, too. He becomes a living, breathing reminder that perhaps things are not so bleak after all – how could they be, now, here, with him?

Watching tv alone is similarly lonely yet freeing. After all, no one is there to argue with you over what to watch. Or care if you want to watch Father of the Bride for the 1200th time. But, again, the mind wanders.

It turns out wandering minds are the very worst thing for loneliness. That’s why being somewhere novel, experiencing some new food, focusing on a very particular task – these are easy things to do alone, they even lend themselves to being done alone. Sitting in your room on a Sunday night, hours off from anything remotely resembling bedtime, with nothing but Pinterest and some maudlin songs to keep you company – the mind wanders. The dreaded Ifs begin.

They start seemingly out of nowhere, out of nothing. They start small and reasonable and grow large and ridiculous. One minute you are wondering what will happen IF you ask for next Friday off and the next minute you are wondering what IF you lose this job. What IF you can’t pay your car insurance this month becomes what IF I can’t pay ANY of my bills next month. What IF he doesn’t miss me as much as I miss him becomes what IF this has been an elaborate scheme or a dream or I’ve been bamboozled in some way and for some inscrutable reason into actually believing I might actually be happy for once. You see what I mean.

The only success I have had with holding these thoughts at bay has been to a.) be doing something sufficiently distracting and contentment-inducing or b.) be near to the person with whom I am madly in love because, see, that in itself is quite distracting and contentment-inducing, too.

I suspect this need for some outside force to provide security and reassurance is a failing of sorts – a giant character flaw. But it’s a flaw I unfortunately have – and have had for some time now. I’ve thought I found solutions, thought I was improving, only to find again and again on the first hint of a test that, after all, I have not. The only thing I can think to try next is to uproot myself completely and start working on a dairy farm somewhere – and yet, unfortunately, I will still be there. In the words of Ben Folds: “Everywhere I go, damn, there I am – and I just want to walk away, sometimes”.

Anecdotally and in my personal frame of reference, I feel like being alone in this way is harder for women than for men, and I wonder why that is. I have any number of theories – most of them involving the ways in which we raise our boys to be self-sufficient, independent, and free-thinking, and our girls to be dependent, to ask permission, to seek approval. Where men assume, women ask. Could it also be that where men simply find a new hobby, women write long blog posts about the crisis of self they are having when they find it impossible to be alone?

Sometimes I rather like to hang up my feminist, politically-correct hat for a moment and say it is probably because men just aren’t thinking this deeply with this frequency. What do they need distraction from? They are single-minded creatures and the task at hand is the only one that enters their brain except for when they are listening to you tell a story, in which case everything but what you are saying to them is interesting and of note.

Ahem. *Hat back on*

Anyway, writing this blog post has killed at least an hour and I find now that it is nearly time for bed. Mission accomplished.

Finding The Perfect Stylist

31 Jan

I recently read this and, aside from having TONS of thoughts (in agreement – and which I will write about later), I also came across a few comments that basically said “yea, well how DO I find a stylist that’s right for me?!” And I wanted to repeat here what I said in the comments there, because I think it’s really useful information that may not be obvious to someone outside the industry.

There are a couple tricks to finding a stylist who is a perfect fit for you. Some of it is just trial and error: finding the perfect stylist can be a sort of Goldilocks-like quest. Even if you find a salon you like, it might take a couple visits before you find the right stylist for you.

1. Look for someone who has a similar hair type to you and is sporting a desired style and ask them where they got it done. This one is easy – especially if you ask them about their routine and find it’s similar to what you are hoping for.
2. Look for salons that appeal to you aesthetically. The way a salon is designed and decorated says a lot about the type of clientele they want to attract, the amount of money they want you to spend, and how much maintenance they expect you to put into your hair. For example, a super modern salon in the center of a bustling downtown with front desk staff that consists of 2 or more people likely denotes a higher-maintenance styling philosophy. Whereas a salon set in a converted house in the arts district that carries all organic hair care lines is going to denote a more easy-going styling mentality.

3. That said, a good salon will have all types of stylists to serve all types of clients (and a good stylist can serve all types of clients, even if they themselves are higher or lower maintenance with their hair or overall look). So another good idea is just to call a salon that looks interesting and ask. Do not ask “who is the best” as that question is an affront to stylists and meaningless if the person on the other line knows nothing about you – but ask who works with your hair type the most, or explain that you want a certain look and ask who would be a great fit. Don’t be afraid to tell them you are looking for a great fit, they will want to help you find it so you stay at their salon.

4. Look for a hair product line that has a similar philosophy towards haircare as you do and then find salons that carry it exclusively. For example, any salon using organic color is going to have similar ideas about hair in general. A salon that carries Davines or Aveda, both lines that emphasize natural ingredients, will (generally) be more low-key. But a salon that carries Kerastase, Oribe, Kevin Murphy, etc. is going to be for a client that is into doing a lot of styling.

5. Look for a stylist who looks like you. Again, a good stylist will be able to do all types of clients hair, but finding a stylist with a similar personal style and taste to you can help you find someone who not only will get what you are going for, but also might be a really great fit in terms of personality. Similarly, a curly haired stylist knows how to deal with curly hair because she’s been dealing with her own her whole life and you can bet she had an awful cut or two before she became a stylist.

Obviously, you’re going to find salons that carry one or other of these product lines, have stylists who look like you, or appeal to you in terms of design and they may still not be what you hoped. Again, it’s a little bit of trial and error with this sort of thing. The more of these things match up, the higher your chances of success – but sometimes it just comes down to personality. You might find someone who does your hair well, but that you feel no connection to, and this may or may not matter to you. But I hope everyone finds a stylist who truly “gets” them and their hair – a great hairstyle is a seemingly small thing that nonetheless can have an outsize impact in our lives, making us feel beautiful and more confident, or simply making life easier. Good luck!

Baby Shower Games I Just Made Up

23 Jan


I borrowed this image of a not-lame baby shower from Martha Stewart, natch.

My sister-in-law, Annette, just sent out invites for her upcoming baby shower and myself and our good family friend, Kate, have been pinning away on a board I created to house ideas for the shower. When last talking to Annette, we had a discussion about how she doesn’t want to play any lame baby shower games. I sort of knew what she meant, having heard tell of the awful games that are played at these events – but since I’ve never been to one (all my baby-having friends thus far are either acquaintances or out of towners), I didn’t fully understand until I tried to search for baby shower game ideas online (especially on Pinterest).

These games are all awful. From guessing mom’s measurements (rude!) to bobbing for nipples (mildly amusing, but messy) to chocolate-filled diaper activities (ew!), it seems like every other game is made to embarrass the couple or guests (or just everyone all at once). There were only a few games that seem normal – and guarantee most everyone has played those (name the baby animal, baby mad libs, decorate-a-bib, celeb baby name match). So I decided this really can’t be that hard. I will just come up with some baby shower games and activities of my own. I make no guarantees that no one has thought of these things before, rather that no one has successfully compiled them in a not-lame-games list such as this. Let me know if you have any other clever ideas or additions (that do not involve diapers and chocolate, please) – I will be adding more as they come to me. So here goes:

Gift-a-book: Ask guests to bring a favorite children’s book – can be a picture book or for older readers – and to inscribe the inside cover with a message to the child/parents about why they chose the book, or just a sweet message in general. Similarly, you could use a page in a large children’s book or the baby book as a guest book.

Exquisite-Corpse Monster/Creature: Once you determine how many guests will be attending fold one or more large pieces of paper into the appropriate amount of sections and leave out coloring/drawing supplies so that guests can each illustrate their own section of a beastie’s body. Give the artists some direction, but keep it loose (draw a monster, draw a woodland creature, etc.) then just explain how exquisite corpse drawings work, in case there’s anyone who doesn’t know. (Ahem: Each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence by being allowed to see only the end of what the previous person contributed.) Once the drawing is done, you can frame it to hang in the kid’s bedroom if you like it. Another option is to have a matte board precut and use that as the guest book – then frame both the drawing and the matte board for an awesome visual reminder of all the love and creativity that surrounded you at your shower. If your friends are more wordy than visual – have them create an exquisite corpse poem around a loose theme, instead.

Charades: ok, so I didn’t make this up, but I am adapting it for play at a baby shower. Give each guest 1 or a few (depending on how many guests you have) small sheets of paper or index cards to write down clues. Instruct your guests on what they should write down (“things that’ll happen once the baby is here” is a great prompt) – once everyone has written all their clues down, split the group into two teams and have each team play off the other team’s contributed clues so no one playing will know what is coming. Play a certain amount of rounds or up to a certain number of points – whichever team wins gets bragging rights or you can offer some sort of prize either to the team as a whole or to individuals on the winning team.

Craftacular: Ask guests for help with one particular nursery decoration. For example, if you want a million origami cranes in the room, or crafty clouds that will hang on the wall, or pieces for a mobile you’re planning, or drawings of airplanes (or whatever!), you can gather the supplies and set your guests to crafting. I love this idea because then there is room for variation from person to person and your nursery will be truly unique – plus I’ve found guests with busy hands tend to get into a nice chatty rhythm, too. Depending on how close to the birth your shower is, Dad and/or other interested parties could even be IN the nursery painting – a painting and beer party also sounds pretty fun to me!

Quilt Squares: If you have even one friend or family member who can quilt or sew, decorating quilt squares can also be an awesome activity with a great finished product – a baby blanket or floor quilt. Just make sure you’ve got someone on hand willing to make the finished product.

Cards Against Humanity (custom): This one takes some prep. Download the free blank templates for Cards Against Humanity Black and White cards and create your own custom set for game play during the shower. The cards can be baby or parenting -themed, or you can personalize them to the couple and/or group playing. For example black cards might say “I forgot what _____ was like since I had my baby”, “The two things I miss the most from pre-baby are sleep and _______”, “Baby throw-up smells like _______”. White cards might say things like “Sleep deprivation”, “The Wiggles”, “Lamaze”, “Back Labor”. You get the picture. (On second thought, I might make this set in the coming days – I’ll repost and share if I do).

That’s all I can come up with for now, but now that this is on my mind I’ll hopefully have more to add soon. Good luck planning your Not-Lame Baby Showers! Hopefully I’ve helped.

National Women’s Equality Day: Affecting Change in your own Home

26 Aug

I went through this slideshow today, showcasing “7 Reasons We Still Need a National Women’s Equality Day”. One slide/reason in particular has struck me more than any others – “Women Still Do Most of the Housework…Even When They Work Outside the Home”. This is something I spend a lot of time thinking about, as a woman who (you guessed it!) does most of the housework, even though I work outside the home.

Now, I don’t mean this post to be some kind of passive-aggressive, veiled insult of my husband. After all, he’s actually pretty helpful and it isn’t totally his fault that I end up doing more. Some of the blame lays with me, some with our culture, some with how we both were raised, and the way that we have set up our own household arrangements – choices that we made together.

But I think the amount of housework and childcare women do – and getting men to step up and take on their fair share – is one of the biggest challenges feminists face, and achievement in this area would signal a wider achievement in the culture at large. When more men are willing to be equally responsible for the grunt work they let their working partners and wives do without thinking twice about it that will be an indication of a true culture shift.

This is a really difficult change to affect though, not least because it can often be “easier” not to challenge the roles so many of us fall into so easily – especially later in a relationship when these types of choices have already been in practice for an extended time. So it starts with women being vocal, women being demanding – and men not brushing it aside as “nagging”, not falling into gaslighting our very real concerns.

My first suggestion to all women entering the beginning stages of a domestic relationship is to set and maintain clear boundaries and expectations from the word go. I, personally, love to cook and I especially love to cook for others – so it was natural in the beginning stages of our live-in relationship for me to handle dinner – I, in fact, reveled in having someone to cook for, I still do. There was also a period of time very shortly after I first moved in where I quit my job and was unemployed for about a month. During this time, I felt a lot of guilt about not contributing and so I tried my best to contribute in other ways – I took on doing laundry each week, I cleaned a lot. Sometime after our first year or so together, I began doing most of the grocery shopping on my own. Early on, he gave me grocery money and I did the actual shopping – at the time this seemed very reasonable and fair to me.

But five plus years into our cohabitation, our situations have changed, but the way we split housework has not. I don’t cook as much as I once did, since I’ve been either in school or at work most evenings for the last three years.  It would be nice if that responsibility had shifted, if maybe he took on more of the cooking for both of us. Certainly, Trevor has to fend for himself most nights, but then, so do I. Although I have been employed full-time for over five years now, I still do the laundry every week, something that until recently was an even bigger pain in the ass then it is now (we just moved into a house with a washer/dryer). Now when I go grocery shopping, I usually pay for it myself since I make much better money now than I did even just one year ago. Somehow, even though I am now paying for the groceries, I am still doing the shopping.

Which brings me to my next suggestion – you both have to be adaptable, and you have to make changes as your situations change. In my case, I also have to be willing to let go of some measure of control in order to allow for a more equal division of labor. If you don’t “trust” your partner to get the right brand of toothpaste at the store, you have to decide which is more important – that’s he’s doing it at all, or that you get the right brand of toothpaste. If you’re going to watch someone cook and tell them all the things they’re doing wrong, you might as well do it yourself.

My third suggestion is that you also have to decide what works for both of you, in real life. Putting aside my lofty ideals for an equal division of labor, there are some things I just do better or more quickly and some things he just does better or more quickly. There are also some things I care a lot about that don’t mean much to him, and vice-versa. A great way to divide up labor is to write it all down, have each person pick the stuff they like (or, at least, don’t mind) doing and then take the leftovers and divide equally down the middle with each person getting a fair share of the more challenging stuff. Then, every once in awhile, just swap lists – so no one gets tired of always being the one to do that one thing they hate.

My fourth and final suggestion is to have a discussion with your partner about what the division of household labor means to you. Let him know that it isn’t just about being lazy or trying to dodge the hard work, it isn’t just about how much you hate doing dishes or cleaning the bathtub. Let him know that when he doesn’t do his fair share, he is sending you a message that he thinks his time is more valuable than yours, that his work is harder or more demanding, or that he can “pay” his way into not doing anything at home. And when all else fails, just ask! We too often become resentful instead of just communicating our wants and needs. I am certainly guilty of this in a major way. It is easier to go with the flow, to do it how it’s always been done, than to challenge the norms – both cultural/social norms and those you’ve developed within your own relationship thus far. It is never too late to try to make changes, but it does become challenging the longer those norms are in place. If your partner is even half as understanding and loving as mine, he will understand and he will work to make those changes with you.

I’m not about to pretend that I have done all these things, risen to these challenges. But I am a work in progress – our marriage, in fact, is a work in progress. These are just some tips to get you started. Good luck!

What does a childfree life actually look like?

5 Aug

It’s so funny that I struggle so much with this question, when you think about it, because I am currently living a childfree life, and it looks like….my life. It’s pretty ho-hum, for the most part.

But what I am really trying to get at it is what a childfree life will look like in all the different stages – what to expect when you will never be expecting, basically. Having been raised in a nuclear family – I’ve sort of seen how that plays out. But I don’t really have very many examples of the other sort of life – the one without children.

How does family work? My own family is very close and we get together frequently. I see my mom once or twice a week (or more).  There’s going to come a time when my parents aren’t around anymore. I hope my older brother and I will be in each others lives to the end or almost to the end. I’m not worried about having someone to take care of me, I’m just worried about not having someone to celebrate with, to care about. Because I have had such a strong family support structure from birth, I’ve never really had to create my own family the way many others have, although I do of course have friends who are as good as family and I can see how it could be done.

But I can also see how it could so easily be undone. Maybe it is just a product of my age (28), but I’ve lost many friends over the last couple years to couplehood or marriage, and children. While I admire couples who prioritize each other, outside friendships – especially with friends of the opposite sex or friendships that we just forming – often become the unintentional victims of such a happy relationship. When children come along, both parties can feel like they’ve lost the ability to relate to one another. I’ve often thought of the friends I could regain and new friendships I could develop if I decide to have children. But, on the other hand, I would inevitably lose friendships, too – much the way I have lost them on this side of the divide.

It always infuriates me that it should be this way – but it seems an inescapable reality. I’d love to think that I could have children and maintain all my pre-children friendships – but seeing as how you can’t even maintain friendships pre- and post- college or pre- and post- new job, I find this highly unlikely. I can only hope that, if I remain childfree, as time passes I will gravitate towards others who are also childfree and we will provide some of that friendship and support for one another.  So far though, I’m not so sure…

At this age, many of my friends are childfree-at-the-moment, but most of them have plans/goals/dreams of having children someday. Most of the people I’ve met who are decidedly childfree are either a.) significantly older, or b.) annoying – sometimes both! The age difference itself is not necessarily an issue, but these same people are also often at very different spots in their careers and financially much better off. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to consistently hang out with someone with more money and/or success than you, but it can get pretty old pretty fast, and it can also be just plain hard to keep up. As to the annoyance factor – this could be just my luck so far or it could be something deeper.

Some of the childfree people I’ve met who have greatly annoyed me are the “smug marrieds” version of the childfree world – they’re “smug non-breeders”, and they’re often vehemently anti-child. Even if I decide against having children myself, my love of babies and gravitation toward adorable children of all ages won’t cease to exist and I don’t want to be around people who are constantly bemoaning ALL THESE DAMN CHILDREN. Also, I love being a part of a community – I’ve already looked into various childfree clubs and such and would be excited to meet others who live similar lifestyles to me – but if ALL we’re going to do is sit around and gripe about the pro-natal culture, then I don’t really want in to that particular club (SOME griping would be ok, though).

However, I know there are many happily childfree aunts and uncles out there who delight in their nieces and nephews, and I know that not every childfree person is so aggressive about their choices and intolerant of others’. Most of my concern is not with my relationships with others, but moreso with my relationship with Trevor.

Having children would change it in fundamental and irrevocable ways that could, in my belief, prove quite damaging. But then I also think not having children could stunt our growth and maturation, and we may actually be more likely to grow apart without children than we would be with children. However, I would never let the decision hinge solely on how having or not having children could affect the relationship – as there’s no way to know in advance how it would ultimately be affected (and tested!) in either case.

But a lot of my concern comes down to our very different interests and our very different takes on what a great childfree life would look like. To me, a lot of the argument for remaining childfree comes from the idea that you maintain so much more independence and freedom when you don’t have to parent children. And I would want to use that freedom, to take advantage of it, to do things that I might not be able to otherwise. I’d love to use the extra money, time, and energy we would have to travel often, go out for dinner several times a week, buy what we want without having to justify it in some way – in short, to have adventures together. Trevor’s hopes and expectations for his own life are much more low-key, much more at-home. He loves the idea of a childfree life so that there won’t be kids running into his hobby room, whereas I love the idea of a childfree life so we could get out of our respective hobby rooms!

I also don’t want to push him one way or the other. If I decided tomorrow that I definitely want children and prioritized that in my life – where would that leave him? Having to go along whether he feels the same or not? Or would we need to break up? All of that is incredibly heartbreaking to even ponder. It’s difficult to think about what it is you are really asking someone when you are asking them either to have children or not to have children. And what can you possibly give them in return that would make it ok?

I think that’s where I am personally now. I’m starting to think that if you want children you know you want them, and if you don’t know – then maybe you don’t want them. I’m growing steadily more comfortable with the idea of not having children, but I want to know what I am going to get in return. Maybe that sounds selfish, but I want to know what I can expect out of my life if it doesn’t involve parenting children, something I had previously always assumed I would someday do. Where will I get my sense of family, and of community and belonging? What will I do, even just on a day-to-day basis, without all that kid-stuff taking up space in my life? Will I get to travel more, to eat well, to enjoy the finer things?

If so, why am I waiting until some mythical later point when this will start happening? Why not start now? I think the solution is just to live the childfree lifestyle while I’m childfree. If I ever am not childfree anymore, I’ll have to stop – but until then, what’s stopping me?



In response to the Dove Real Beauty video

27 Apr

Like the rest of the internet this last week, I saw the Dove Real Beauty video/ad that went viral recently. For the uninitiated, here is a link.

The basic set-up is that, without seeing the subject, a forensic artist draws two sketches: one based on a woman’s description of herself, and a second based on a stranger’s description. Then, along with each woman, we get to look at the two sketches side by side. The differences between the first and second sketch are stark – and the implication is clear: that the second sketch, when the subject was described by someone they just met, is the more desirable image. Other people have already written about the problems with the approach: almost all the featured women are white and conventionally attractive, and the differences we see between the two sketches shouldn’t be seen as implicitly better/worse. Furthermore, the video is essentially an advertisement coming from a company that is part of an industry that is actively trying to convince us on a daily basis that we are not good enough, that we need improvement, that we need their help. But it’s an interesting experiment regardless – and for me whether the differences are good/bad is beside the point – the more important point for me is that there are differences in the first place, and that the differences are so stark as to produce two sketches of the same person that look like two sketches of two different people.

After all, we would expect differences, wouldn’t we? We all have different aesthetic senses, different tastes and values – we’re all going to notice and, so, emphasize different features when describing someone to another person. An extension of the experiment that I would like to see would be to have a third person, another stranger to the subject, describe the subject for the sketch artist. That way we could compare not only what the subject’s self-image is to someone else’s perception of them – but we could also add in another perspective to gain even more insight. Would the two strangers’ sketches look more like one another than the self-described sketch? Would all three look totally different? What if you then had someone close to the subject – a parent or partner – describe them? What would those sketches look like, and how would they compare to the rest?

I think, regardless of some of the problems, the video is effective – the overall message is simply this: we don’t always see ourselves clearly. Whether you think the first sketches looked “bad” or not, it’s clear that when it comes to ourselves, we all seem to be standing in front of fun house mirrors – seeing and perceiving our own features differently than those around us.

One of the comments that I found most revealing was when a subject said of the second sketch, the one where a stranger described her to the artist, “(she) looks more open, friendly, and happy”. The subject is being forced to describe herself with words she might never have used on her own.

It’s also notable that, hey, if these conventionally attractive women can find fault in themselves, doesn’t that just show how affected we all are – regardless of how the world around us might generally perceive us? Every woman knows this to be true, because every woman has more than one gorgeous friend who can never see herself that way, who maybe doesn’t take compliments well, or always complains about some feature or body part where we can see no flaw. We’re much tougher on ourselves than we are on each other – and in that I actually find a silver lining: that our friends who know us best see us as the sum of who we are. Our features are made brighter, our bodies made more beautiful by our kindness or vivacity, or any number of other traits we embody. If we could learn to see ourselves through a similar lens, as not just a collection of body parts, but as a whole person – maybe we would start to see our own beauty, too.


Recipe Review: Easy Parmesan Knots

4 Mar

I actually tried these Parmesan knots out awhile back, but am just now getting to posting about them.


These parmesan knots were easy, although I made a few (slight) changes. I used olive oil instead of canola oil and I brushed the knots  before I baked them as well as after. I also used the Safeway deli grated Parmesan instead of Kraft. My rule is cheese should be refrigerated – if it’s not, it’s not cheese. Here I’ve reprinted/rephrased the recipe below and added the pics of my process.


1 tube refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (below the recipe see my suggestion for next time)

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried parsley

1. Separate your biscuits and roll each one into a rope/snake shape & tie the ropes into knots, tucking the ends under.


photo 2 (20)

photo 3 (10)

2. Combine your oil, parmesan, parsley, oregano, and garlic powder in a small bowl.

3. Place the knots on a greased baking sheet and brush with your oil mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

photo 4 (13)

4. Remove the knots from the oven and brush with your oil mixture again. Let rest for a few minutes before serving. (These are great warm, but also good the next day!)

photo 5 (9)

photo (45)

These turned out well – my only complaint was that they (surprise, surprise!) tasted too biscuit-y. Next time I make these, I will likely use a store-bought pizza dough or the Pillsbury breadstick dough instead, so that the dough fades into the background a bit more and lets the garlicky goodness shine.

Here, again, is a link to the original blog posting of the recipe.

And here is the link to my original pin in case the pic at the head isn’t working for you, or you can just pin off one of my own images if you want it to lead here to my blog instead. If you were referred here by Pinterest, thanks for visiting!

Lastly, for anyone who is interested, the knots are pictured with Ree Drummond’s Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, which makes frequent appearances at my house since it is so good and makes so much!  I highly recommend it, although I do suggest cutting the recipe in half or even in fourths, unless you are feeding an army – even cutting it in half, I always have multiple jars in the fridge as well as a tub in the freezer.

Recipe Remix?: Pear and Walnut Pie

10 Feb

Tonight is my monthly Cookbook Club meeting and I thought I’d kill some time before it starts and post the recipe + pics of the pie I just made. I’m posting it as recipe remix QUESTION MARK because I only changed, like, two things, so it’s not much of a remix, but still.

This month’s featured chef is Tyler Florence. Although it seems everyone and their mom knows who Tyler Florence is, I did not. I don’t have cable so Food Network et al is out. I don’t know how I’d find out about new-to-me chefs anymore if not for Cookbook Club. I wish I had had more time to peruse his recipes and cookbooks, but as it turned out I just sort-of-randomly picked this recipe from the small dessert section in his “Tyler Florence Family Meal” cookbook, which my mom had picked up for the occasion. Because I can’t find any handy-dandy links, I’m going to go ahead and reproduce the recipe here, so you can recreate it if you want.


Tyler Florence’s Pear and Walnut Pie with Apple Butter Creme Fraiche

shared from “Tyler Florence Family Meal”

Makes 1 9-inch pie

I am not reproducing the pie crust aspect of his recipe because it is just your run of the mill pie crust recipe and I cheated and used Pillsbury ready-made crusts, anyway.


1/2 c. walnuts

8 Bosc Pears (I used D’Anjou because the Bosc variety at my local grocery store were all in poor condition)

1 c. lightly packed light brown sugar

2 tbsp. honey

1 tbsp. all purpose flour

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 tbsp. dark rum (I used Whiskey instead and then added a tsp. of Pure Vanilla Extract to sweeten it a bit more)

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (you can squeeze this out of one lemon. Press down as you roll the lemon along your countertop, then cut in halves and squeeze – you’ll get more juice out of your lemons this way)

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 egg, lightly beaten (for egg wash)

8 oz. creme fraiche (usually you can find this near the sour cream, yogurt, or specialty dairy at any grocery store, but I had trouble finding it this time, so I had to get it at Whole Foods)

1/2 cup apple butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until they are golden brown, about 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Let the nuts cool for a few minutes, then coarsely chop. Leave the oven on.

2. Peel and core the pears and cut into 1/8 inch slices. Place the pears and walnuts in a large mixing bowl and add the brown sugar, honey, flour, cinnamon, rum (or whiskey + vanilla extract!), lemon juice, and salt. Toss gently to combine thoroughly.

3. Lay the dough in your pie pan and the fill with the pear and walnut mixture. Place the remaining dough over the filling, trim the excess dough to a 1-in overhang and use your fingers to crimp the crust/edges. Brush the crust with an egg wash. Cut a round hole in the center of the pie and make several 1-inch slits in the crust. Place the pie pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips (I did have some overflow, so def do this).

4. Bake the pie for 40-50 minutes, or until the crust is a beautiful golden brown. Let the pie cool for 15 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature. Serve the pie with dollops of creme fraiche.*^

*Whip the cream fraiche until fluffy. Add the apple butter and stir until somewhat incorporated; you should be able to see swirls of the apple butter (this did not happen for me).

^I highly suggest letting this pie fully set over the course of several hours before serving – otherwise, it is still delicious but basically soup, as I learned when I served it, still warm-ish, 40 minutes after baking. You can always warm it in the microwave if you want that “just out of the oven” sensation.

New feature: Recipe Remix!

23 Jan

In addition to my new Recipe Review posts, which focus on my experiences cooking other people’s recipes, I am also going to occasionally write Recipe Remix posts. These will be my own twists on existing recipes and, like today’s post, will also include family recipes that I have tweaked.


Tonight I made my mom’s famous enchiladas – with some key changes. Although my mom’s enchiladas are famous in our family for good reason (they are amazing!), they are a time-consuming, multi-pan, messy endeavor. Which is why we’ve grown up only eating them during the holidays or for other special occasions. This new recipe which I’ve adapted from her original recipe to include several Rick Bayless techniques (and his packaged red sauce) clocks in around an hour start to finish (compared to her original recipe’s 1.5-2 hours), uses one pan for the sauce and one for the enchiladas (and a few prep bowls), and tastes incredibly similar to my mom’s enchiladas.  I can now make one of my favorite recipes much more frequently, using less ingredients and taking much less time!

Our recent cookbook club – cooking Rick Bayless this time around – was an insane success. My mom brought his Enchiladas Suizas, which she had also made over the holidays, which are the only green-sauce enchiladas I have ever liked, let alone loved. During the holidays she also made two batches of red sauce enchiladas – one the way she has made them for years, and one batch using Bayless’ Frontera brand red sauce. His red sauce is surprisingly good for stand-alone packaged sauce, but it was missing some of the depth that my mom’s own sauce has.

She also had recently been experimenting with different ways to deal with the corn tortillas. We have always fried them in oil, about 10 seconds or less each side, to make them pliable and add to the flavor. This process takes time and can be messy. In one of the recipes she was following from Bayless, he recommends laying the tortillas out to dry for a bit before frying them – this way they absorb less oil, and that is what she has been doing lately. On a recipe I found online, he instead suggested brushing each side of the tortilla with oil, stacking the tortillas in a plastic bag, and microwaving for 1 minute. This technique saved me a ton of time and energy, but the tortillas were not quite as pliable as I would have liked – next time I might either microwave them a little longer or put the tiniest bit of water in the bag, too, to get more of a steam effect.

Lastly, after having made several Bayless enchilada renditions, Mom surmised she’s been overcooking her own enchiladas. They always stick to the pan a little and can sometimes be tough to cut through on the very bottom/edges. Bayless, for the most part, uses warm ingredients and when he puts his enchiladas in the oven it is essentially just to melt the cheese and meld the flavors a bit more. His cooking time generally falls in the 10-15 minute range, whereas ours was landing 30 min with foil and another 10-15 without for 45 minutes total cooking time. This one seemed sort of no-duh to us after the fact – why did we ever cook them for so long? Hindsight is 20/20, what matters is now we know better.

Here is my recipe remix for a quicker, easier way to make my mom’s famous enchiladas, which are, in my opinion, some of the best you’ll ever eat:

Mom’s Enchiladas REMIX!  (for full effect,  imagine someone shouting that at the beginning of a JLo song)

Makes approximately 12-14 enchiladas. Serves: 4-6


2 – 8 oz bags Frontera brand Red Enchilada Sauce

1/2 a yellow onion, chopped (I didn’t even use all of this, so maybe try for a smaller onion or just chop even less)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 whole, cooked, store-bought rotisserie chicken (this is my cheat’s way of avoiding having to cook the chicken first, but there’s a fair amount left over if you use this method so plan on having some chicken leftover or else buy 1 lb of raw chicken and cook it yourself)

corn tortillas (I always buy the 30 pack because I know I’ll use them, but I only used 13 here, so you can buy less if your grocery store sells them in smaller quantities)

2 cups (1 small package) shredded monterrey jack cheese (or mexican cheese blend)

1/2 tab mexican chocolate (Abuelita or Ibarra brand, either’s fine – find this in the ‘Hispanic Foods’ section of your supermarket)

oil for the tortillas and a little for the pan

1. I like to chop/dismantle everything first so I’m ready to assemble when the time comes. Leave the chicken sitting out on the counter for 10 minutes or so to cool a little while you ready everything else. Chop your onion and set aside. Mince your garlic cloves and set aside. Pour your shredded cheese out into a bowl and set in the fridge until you need it. Cut your octagonal chocolate tab in half.

2. Fill a small bowl with some oil and use that to brush oil on each side of each tortilla – then stack them, place them inside a microwave-safe plastic bag, and heat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Set aside. I oiled 18 tortillas because I wasn’t initially sure how many the recipe would make – next time I will probably oil 14 instead, that way I still have an extra or two to cover any mishaps but haven’t wasted a bunch either.

3. Now, “carve” your chicken. What this really amounts to is you just getting in there with your hands and ripping it apart, grabbing every last piece of viable meat you can and setting it aside in a bowl. All I have to say is get ready for some messy hands. If you opted to cook your own chicken first, obviously let it cool before handling it, but then just shred it and set aside in a bowl. If you’ve used a rotisserie chicken as I have, you may want to put about half of what you’ve shredded away at this point – before saucing what you will use for the enchiladas. Or you can just sauce all the chicken before splitting it, and use the rest for tacos or chilaquiles tomorrow.

4. Now that you’ve got all your ingredients prepared, you can make your sauce, which- because we’ve bought our cheat’s packaged sauce – is dead easy. Heat up a pan and about 1-2 tablespoons oil, throw a scant handful of onion in and let cook until nearly translucent, then toss your garlic and stir all this around for 1 minute or so. Pour in both bags of red sauce and let it heat up a little before adding in the 1/2 tab of chocolate – lower the heat a little and stir frequently until the chocolate is melted.  It’s okay if there is a little chocolate “grit” leftover, so long as there aren’t huge unmelted chunks wandering around. *Right before I add in the chocolate, I also turn my oven on to preheat at 350 degrees so it’ll be ready by the time I’m ready.

5. Once your sauce is ready, you can assemble your enchiladas. First, ladle some sauce into the pan you’re going to use for your enchiladas, making sure to coat the bottom and up the sides a little if you can. Next, add about a ladle and a half of sauce to the chicken and stir to coat – reserve the rest of the sauce for the top of the enchiladas. Use a plate as a work surface to roll each enchilada. Place the tortilla on the plate, put some chicken on the tortilla (less than you would think), add cheese and onion, then roll into an enchilada. Place the enchilada seam side down in your pre-sauced baking dish. Continue assembling until you run out of room in your baking dish. *I use a 13×9 inch pyrex pan and I can normally fit about 8-9 one way, then 4 (two-deep) going the other way (at the ‘feet’ of the initial row)

6. Now ladle the rest of the sauce over the top of the enchiladas, using the ladle or a separate spoon or spatula to spread the sauce around and then down the sides if possible – you don’t want any naked tortilla showing. Take the rest of the cheese and spread all over the now-sauced enchiladas, making quite a thick cheese layer. Pop the pan in your preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted to your satisfaction, then serve immediately.


Notes: The key changes to my mom’s original recipe were in how I oiled the tortillas (did not fry them), how I made the sauce (doctored a packaged pre-made sauce, whereas she used to doctor a can of straight red chile sauce using about 3 more ingredients than I did), and how long I cooked the enchiladas for (15 as opposed to 45 minutes). Additionally, my mom’s original recipe does not sauce the chicken, but instead has you saucing the tortillas before you roll them – I may still play with this aspect a bit and see if it makes a difference, but I liked the way this turned out, so we’ll see.

P.S. Thanks to my mom for her expertise and suggestions on how to improve her own already amazing recipe!