December 20, 2012

Literally Literary: THE OBVIOUS GAME by Rita Arens

"Literally Literary" is a feature in which I write about books, reading and more books. My hope is the post title will provide a subtle hint that I am posting about BOOKS. For those of you where the topic of books results in narcoleptic fits thereby causing you to faceplant onto your keyboard, this will allow you to just click away from the horror that is the written word. Also, I simply adore the word "literally", it is literally my favorite adverb. Bonus points if pronounced with a Rob Lowe/Parks n' Recreation affectation.

Special Note: All posts contain non-affiliate links - I do not have an Amazonian Fancy Pants Affiliate Thingie.

Several years ago, my friend Rita Arens put a request out for someone to read a draft of her novel.  I happily accepted and I read the draft.  After I read it, we had a nice conversation about that draft.  Eventually, that initial draft became something else and Rita found a publisher. That "something else" is her young adult novel, THE OBVIOUS GAME, which will be released February 7th!!

I can't wait to read the THE OBVIOUS GAME  -- Rita has said THE OBVIOUS GAME is quite different than the draft I read, which will make even more exciting for me to read so I can compare and contrast.

Also,  Rita has written a post about the cover reveal and has included an excerpt.

Congratulations, Rita!!!

There is a Rafflecopter giveaway for a copy of the book open to US, UK and Canada residents. Good luck!

December 14, 2012

Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude: Balls and Nuts

Note: Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude is a weekly(ish) feature about food, food and more FOOD. No, I am not an expert, but I do enjoy talking about food prep, cooking food, eating food and making sweet love to food.  Okay, maybe not the "sweet love" part. After all, this is not meant to be an homage to 9 1/2 Weeks.

Recipe Index can be found here. 

The other day, Manoj was sharing a sweet memory of eating a cashew fruit and I was all, " Huh?  What??" and then he Googled some images and THEN, I was all, "What the FUCK??"  

Gentle Reader......seriously.  Are you with me on this?

My brain?  KABOOM.

I never knew that a cashew was some weird, ballsack-looking thing descending from a FRUIT.  Come to think of it, I guess I have never had to bust out a nutcracker to help out with a bowl of cashews, either.  Huh.  

What is the weirdest "food discovery" you've ever come across??

Speaking of weird foods, Manoj sent me a link about a pudding that his mother used to make and since Manoj NEVER sends me links about foods from his childhood, I hopped right on that link.   And was promptly deflated.   It was a link for Tender Coconut Pudding which made me think that I would have tiptoe around the coconut's feelings or something.  Manoj tried to explain that it was an "immature" coconut which only brought up visions of coconuts shouting "Stop with the judging!"  Anyway!  We are going to hunt through some Asian stores in hopes of finding this so-called "tender coconut." (Apparently, it is a soft coconut that has not hardened its shell yet.  It's a SOFT BALL OF COCONUT, if you will....) 

Next up?  Is my Grandma's Weird Cheeseball.  I love, LOVE this cheeseball and it is one of my favorite Christmas traditions.  

A load of cheese with a bonus gingerbread house photobomb. WIN.

I call this cheeseball "weird" because what makes it special (I think) is the bleu cheese.  It gives it a particular bite, to be sure.

Grandma's Cheese Ball

8 oz brick grated cheddar cheese
2 oz blue cheese
8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup dry minced onion
1/4 cup parsley flakes

(Note: Grind/chop up an extra cup of pecans for the last step.)

Preparation:1. Let cheeses sit at room temperature and then simply mix together (I smush it all up with my bare hands.)  

2. Add onion, pecans, parsley and mix. Shape into 2 balls and roll into the extra nuts. Lay the balls onto a piece of cling wrap. Wrap tightly and it will be good for at least a few days. However, make this at least one day before serving to let all the spices meld together.

Note: Instead of the dry minced onion, I used My Garlic Seasoning mix ( it's riff on Tastefully Simple's Garlic Garlic seasoning)

December 10, 2012

If you think about it, The Nutcracker is the Ultimate Drag Show On Earth

In the past week, my children have seen an excessive number of folks in costume.  At Handel's Messiah at the Kauffman Center, we saw men in fancy, tailed tuxedos and ladies wearing gorgeous gowns with glittering jewels.  At the Bass Pro shop, we saw an elderly man dressed up in a red suit and my children sat on his lap like little beggar urchins.  We also saw a myriad of Bass Pro employees decked out as elves.  At The Nutcracker at the Kauffman Center, we saw girls dressed as boys, a man dressed as Mother Gigogne and a variety of folks dressed as toy soldiers,vermin mice, flowers and of course, a Nutcracker.

Totally a poser.

Yesterday, Team Chaos and I had plans with their honorary aunts, LuAnn and Celeste (aka Average Jane) to see Babes in Toyland (Celeste's Real-Life niece had a starring role!)  We decided before the play that we would have lunch at Hamburger Mary's.  I knew nothing about Hamburger Mary's other than I've heard people rave about their hamburgers.   Upon entering the restaurant, I knew immediately that There Was Something About Mary........  something special......something royal  Slowly, I began to clue in when I spied a lady wearing a lovely bouffant hairstyle and a June Cleaveresque dress while belting out a song....... in deep, husky tones.

Apparently, Mary's is renowned for drag shows and we had just walked into their Sunday Drag Brunch.

Gentle Reader, it was time to queue up some Keanu Reeves.

Don't get me wrong, I love me a good drag show but they can get fairly ribald and I did have my precious progeny with me, after all.  Regardless, we decided to give it a try and we quickly figured out it was to be a tame drag show and that there were other kids in attendance.

And?  That was it.  We had a GREAT meal while watching some fabulous ladies strut their stuff. I let the kids enjoy the show first, then I clued Arun in as to what was going on.  His eyes got HUGE and while he asked several "how" questions that were quite logical, he never asked "why".  Because he didn't care.

Anjali?  Baby girl was too busy enjoying the music.

I did feel that a quick email to Arun's teacher was necessary:
Um, Arun is quite excited about telling you he went to a drag show this weekend. Rest assured, it was just a Sunday brunch at Hamburger Mary's. We don't take our children to bars (not yet, anyway. Missie B's? You're on notice :-) 
Peace out,
Honestly, I am quite happy with how everything has worked out the past week.  I am teaching my kiddos that no one, absolutely NO ONE, is hurt or troubled or endangered by someone expressing themselves musically and artistically.  Even when those performances are in a variety of ways that we may not necessarily understand, but nonetheless can still appreciate.

Food coma!

To be fair, I probably should feel a little guilty about all of the trans-fats they consumed in a single meal.

December 7, 2012

Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude: Links, ahoy!

Note: Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude is a weekly(ish) feature about food, food and more FOOD. No, I am not an expert, but I do enjoy talking about food prep, cooking food, eating food and making sweet love to food.  Okay, maybe not the "sweet love" part. After all, this is not meant to be an homage to 9 1/2 Weeks.

Recipe Index can be found here. 

For awhile now, Lag Liv has been raving about her beef bourguignon.  Recently, Manoj and I decided that we would let beef back in our house once in awhile (we eat beef occasionally in restaurants, but rarely cook it at home).  This meant that I could finally attempt Lag Liv's beef bourguignon.  OH MY.  It was so, so, so good.  And rich and filling and satisfying.  I knew Manoj would be hesitant about it, but I quadrupled the chili powder and a star was born (yes, I quadrupled the measurement -- 1 teaspoon of Indian Store Chili Powder was plenty to put that dish on fire like we need it.)

Recently, I came across this article of 27 Foods You Should Never Buy.  The article is comprised mostly of convenience foods and mostly, I agree with it.  I will still buy some convenience foods because they either keep me from cruising a drive-thru (talking about you Larabars.) or it is a special treat that we particularly enjoy (Seagram's Sparkling Orange Seltzer.  Nope, it is not sugar-laden or even sweetened at all.  It's just carbonated water with a hint of orange, but my kids drink the hell out of it.)

Last month, 100 Days of Real Food did a review of 8 cookbooks which would make nice Christmas gifts! (and I still cannot stop lusting after The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making!)

I also enjoyed Casual Kitchen's The "Don't Buy" List for the Low-Budget Kitchen.  This one is definitely worth reading for the comments.  While Daniel's list is usual for some folks, it really depends on what you cook on a regular basis.  For example, several folks in the comments mentioned not need a stand mixer and I would agree.  Other commenters argued for the honor of cast iron skillets everywhere. I would never use a cast iron skillet and I would only use a stand mixer during Christmas time (for the dough feature when I make Romanian kifli).  For me, a stand mixer is a waste of money and precious storage space. I have a hand mixer that has a dough hook and I LOVE it.  However, I know others who swear by their stand mixers and say they use it all the time.  It's all relative, I suppose.

Stephanie over at Completely Irrelevant referenced a fruitcake recipe.  I love fruitcake but only good ones which do not have that glow-in-the-dark fruit that appears to have been grown near a nuclear plant.  However, good fruitcakes are SO expensive, they usually don't make the budget.  Stephanie's recipe looks absolutely delicious and I highly recommend you read her post before heading over to the actual recipe she references.  She has made some changes that make this fruitcake easier to make and more cost-effective.  I have bought most of the ingredients and have added it to the baking list (yes, my baking list which now includes Romanian kifli,  peppermint bark, Christmas Crack and OH MY ZEUS.... Me?  Making sweets?  I don't know who I am anymore.)

Speaking of baking, it seems I was in the market for an apron.  I never knew how badly I wanted an apron until I saw one at our elementary school's holiday mart where this dorktastic, Christmas-themed apron whispered my name.

The voice was raspy.  I think it was a smoker.

And now I am going to dig out my pearls because you can bet your sweet bippy, I will be needing them.

December 3, 2012


This post is dedicated to Pseudodad.  He inspires me in nefarious doings. And possibly to hiring a lawyer someday.

The other day in my "Jolly" post I mentioned that I would be sending out Christmas cards (yes, that same post which appears to be written by an overachieving, pretentious asshole. Someone suspiciously like me.) 

Anyway! I love, love sending out Christmas cards.  I now send out about 60, which puts me into ordering that elusive 3rd box of 25.  Since I have extra cards lying? laying? sitting around, I will be doing a massive card exchange this year with my fellow gori in arms from the Facebook posse to which I belong (the group I lovingly refer to as "Brown Boys and the White Girls Who Love Them".  Because I am classy like that.)

And then, Pseudodad mentions sending cards out to various politicians and since I am a sheep (It is a running theme in my blog and life), inspiration began to guide me and my favorite Sharpie.  Which should frighten my husband (the inspiration.  Not the Sharpie.)

Years ago, I wrote about my feelings on an anti-immigrant law that smacked of racism in my "Raging Arizona" post.  Imagine my dismay when I found out that a fellow Kansan, Kris Kobach, not only helped write Arizona's law, but is also trying to get it here in MY STATE.  Ugh.

So, I thought Kobach might appreciate a bit of holiday cheer from a constituent.

I just like to fake sincerity!  Faking sincerity is my favorite!

I included a handwritten letter on whimsical, Santa-themed stationary to lighten the mood.

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

No, Manoj is not particularly amused with my snarky letter.  But hey, I AM a registered Republican and I find it difficult to believe that Mr. Kobach would not want to hear from his constituents on this most auspicious of holidays:
Dear Mr. KobachMy children would like to wish you and yours a Happy Holiday!
Their mother is going to ask Santa for his assurance that your racist policies will not make their way from Arizona to Kansas. The very same policies which seek to disenfranchise hard-working immigrants such as my husband.  
May those policies never see a Kansan sunrise.
Sincerely,Kelli Oliver George
Someone seriously needs to be put on the Naughty List.