Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday Treat: Buffalo Shrimp

I am in a shrimp mood today. Probably because half a dozen people asked me about Alabama while at work today and it made me miss my old home a bit. The best place to eat was a restaurant called "Jefferson's" and their Shrimp Jammers are the frigging best. Ever.

Now, shrimp jammers are butterfly shrimp stuffed with cheese and deep fried. They are served with cocktail sauce or shrimp sauce usually, but I actually got a side of their medium buffalo sauce and some ranch. Wonderful. I'm drooling right now thinking about them. Ugh!

Anyways, I found this recipe today for Buffalo Shrimp. It is pretty long so I'll just link to the website instead of retyping it all today. Judging by the comments, even folks that enjoy spicy foods thought this recipe had a good bit too much spice so if you are leery of it, cut back on the spices by a little (or a lot) to suit your tastes. I wouldn't leave any out, just maybe 1/2 the amount suggested in the recipe. Also, make sure you have tons of ranch available. Mmmm ranch. I wonder if we have any celery...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Five: Child Friendly Crafts

Last weekend, the girls and I created a really neat crayon art project and I was inspired to search for other projects for the girls to do over long breaks. Spring break is coming up soon-ish so I like to be prepared. Today's Friday Five is a list of those crafts with links, pictures, and/or videos (including the project from last weekend).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday Thought: Kindness

Last week was Kindness to Strangers week. This post was written for Thursday last week but another post ended up being more important at that exact moment. So, even though it isn't RAK week anymore, this is still a good Thursday Thought.

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
Aesop, The Lion and the Mouse
You know the tale of the lion and the mouse right? The mouse woke the lion one day while playing and the angry lion nearly ate it. The mouse begged for its life and offered to be the lion's friend for life in exchange, on the premise that the mouse might one day save the lion's life. Because it's idea was so funny, the lion let the mouse go even though he knew the mouse would never save his life. Days later, the proud lion fell in a hunter's snare and the mouse did indeed save his life by gnawing through the ropes. The lion admitted that the mouse was useful and all was well again.

The moral of the story is that anyone, great or small, can be helpful and that kindness will bring its own rewards. I really like this story and think it illustrates the today's Thursday Thought very well. Can you think of any recent events of someone being kind for kindness sake?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday Treat: Crayon Cake

I hope you enjoyed President's Day, working or on holiday. We had a lot of fun around here. Since the kids had a four day weekend from school, we started an art project using wax crayons, poster boards, and a hair dryer. It was a lot of fun. I got some video of it and the finished pictures. I will post at least the pictures later this week.

Today's Treat celebrates the fun that we had this weekend with a patriotic flare.

Crayon Cake!
So here are the directions (I assume you can figure the ingredients out on your own).

  1.  Get a cake mix of your choice. We used a yellow cake mix. Let it cool completely. And I do mean completely. Otherwise it will crumble to pieces and will not work for this.
  2. While your cake cools, mix 1 can of vanilla frosting between 3 bowls and tint two bowls with red and blue, giving you a bowl of red, white, and blue icing. Trim one end of 5 ho-hos to a point (to look like a crayon!) and set them on a wire rack one at a time. Microwave a bowl of icing for 5-10 seconds to make it slightly like whipped cream and then spread over the ho-ho. Make 5 blue crayons or 2 red 3 blue crayons, or 2 red 2 blue 1 white crayons, or 3 white 1 red 1 blue crayons... you get the idea. However you want to work it. Let those sit so they can harden on the wire rack.
  3. While the ho-hos set, return to your cake. Make sure it is level first. Then, at one of the short ends, score out a half circle (give it a decent diameter, about 4") so that it looks like the open end of a crayon box. Using a sharp knife, cut out the half circle at a depth of about 1" and discard the half circle (or use it for some other mini-treat). Frost the cake in the white vanilla icing, including the inside of the half circle. Another can of vanilla frosting will probably be needed.
  4. Place the "crayons" in the opening of the "box" and trim them to fit the curvature of the opening. Using a combination of the three colors, line the opening of the box and the bottom corners of the box (don't use white on white... you want it to be visual), the markings on the crayons which are the lines around the top and the crayon circles, and any kind of message you want to put on the cake where the brand would usually be at.

You can use candy strips (like licorice strips) to make the lines on the box instead of frosting if you'd like. Or you can skip the patriotic colors and go for a more traditional look. I got the original idea here and they used yellows, oranges, and greens. They also made a suggestion of using disposal zip lock bags as icing tubes, which I had never thought of before. Just put the frosting in, squeeze it into a corner and seal the bag, then snip the corner and voila, instant icing tube. We used real ones but that is only because we happened to have them. Not everyone has those just laying around the house.

Since we didn't take a picture, I'll describe our cake as best as I can. We used a yellow cake mix and made 3 red crayons and 2 blue crayons. We iced the cake in white frosting and then lined the open end with blue. The bottom corners were also blue with an additional blue line around the inside edge. We used white icing for the lines and circles on the crayons. We drizzled red candy stars into the blue corners and then throughout the white box portion of the cake. In the middle, we chose to leave it blank rather than write on it. It looked really cute and the kids loved it. They started eating it before I could get a picture. Or, I should say, our father started eating the cake before I could get a picture. Ha!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Five: Showing Kindness

Today is "Random Acts of Kindness" Day! Check out RAK, a website built around a week of Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) for all kinds of ways to jump on in. I try to be kind to folks whenever I can, but RAK week is pretty important to me. I started a tradition of "celebrating" RAK week back in my last year of college when I volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Check out today's Friday Five for my list of RAK week activities, organized by day.

  • Monday: Let a senior lady go ahead of me in line at the grocery store. Thanked a soldier for his service.
  • Tuesday: Donated used books to the local library. Left a large tip for a waitress. 
  • Wednesday: Picked up trash outside my office building. 
  • Thursday: Offered positive encouragement to a struggling coworker. Spent a few minutes with a neighbor's child so her mom could run an errand.
  • Friday: Today I will smile at everyone I see. I will hold doors open each time I go in and out. I will wish everyone a safe and enjoyable weekend.

None of these things took (or will take) much effort on my part. Yes, letting the old lady go ahead of me in line ended up making me wait another 20 minutes to be checked out. Oh the horror. No, I didn't want to pick up other people's cigarette butts off the ground when the wind blew our ButtKeeper over. I had gloves and the time so why not? The things for today are easy enough, since I try to do all that anyways. What RAK have you made into a habit? My habit is smiling and saying hello to people (even strangers) and leaving decent tips on the rare occasion that I eat out.

RAK week ends Sunday night so you have plenty of time to do kind things that you don't ordinarily take upon yourself. You don't have to spend a penny to smile at someone, let someone go ahead of you in a line, or to donate used items to others. Try it out!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday Thought: Positive Thinking

Good evening folks! I had a different Thursday Thought planned out but the events of today have forced me to change my line of thought. Check next week for a Thursday Thought about Kindness to Strangers. It complements tomorrow's Friday Five but oh well.

It is no secret that life sucks right now for pretty much everyone. The economy has really taken its toll on people and it is wearing folks down fast. Without jobs, people are losing hope very quickly. And I can't blame them when they are losing their homes, their vehicles, and their utilities just so they can make sure they eat more than a few times a week. I just started a new job... one that I am incredibly thankful to have after being unable to find work for almost 2 years. Yet, I'm now surrounded by people that hate their job. They come in for a paycheck. And this is a field where 1) you will never become rich from it and 2) you really need to be driven by a passion for the work, not a paycheck. Otherwise, burnout is the only possible route. It may take 25 years for them to realize they are burnt out and not fit for this line of work... or it may take just a matter of weeks. But I hear people every day say something negative about our jobs.

  • I hate this place.
  • I can't wait to get out of here.
  • They are driving me crazy today.
  • If I could find better paying job, I'd take it immediately.
  • Is it Friday evening yet?

These are all things I hear my co-workers say. It is disheartening. Mostly because I love my job. Not just the fact that I have a job, but I am in a field that is so fulfilling. I honestly look forward to work on Mondays and enjoy my 40 hours a week on the clock. Nothing I do is particularly difficult. The job requires patience, attention to detail, structured record keeping, and some grunt work. Yes, I have issues getting up in the morning. I'm not exactly a teenager anymore so I don't spring out of bed, ready to start my day. I dislike having to go to bed by 9pm so that I can make myself wake up on time, no later than 6am. But its not because of my job. I'm just not a morning person anymore. I'm in my prime from about 8am until about 4pm. Anywhere outside of those hours and I'm tired, likely in need of coffee, and probably a little grumpy. I can admit that.

I had a conversation with a coworker today. I probably pissed her off but I get so tired of hearing her bitch and moan about how awful her job is and how no one else pulls their weight. I told her to try to think of the positives of her job:

  • she stays busy so the time passes by quickly
  • she doesn't work a monotonous job like a line in a factory anymore
  • she has a pretty awesome schedule (it never changes and we're always off before 4pm)
  • she provides a great service to people

She just kind of stared at me like I grew two extra heads. I know, I'm probably the annoying coworker that is always smiling, upbeat, and ready for more now. I used to hate those coworkers. But I finally understand them. In the jobs I used to have (fast food, gas station cashier, retail, etc.), I was miserable with my work. It sucked and I counted the seconds from the time I clocked in until the moment I clocked out just so I could get a paycheck. Those crazy "happy" people... they didn't do that. And since they didn't do that, they were much better off for it. I don't always walk in the door with the sun shining out my rear, but I fake it until my grumpiness wears off and I am my normal bright self. It makes my day so much better. And I would like to think that it probably makes others around me feel like their day is better too. Maybe not everyone, but at least a few of them.

So today's Thursday Thought is this: Positive thinking can make a difference. Bad and/or annoying things happen all the time. But you don't have to make it happen every day. Find the good things, even if you have to really read between the lines, and make sure you focus on those. It isn't easy, but you will get better at it over time and your life will benefit from it in major ways. For me, positive thinking is the difference between needing anxiety medication to face my co-workers and their "rain on everyone's parade" attitude everyday and making the decision of what to have for lunch my toughest choice. Give it a try for a few weeks and see if you notice a difference!

The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.
Author Unknown
A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
Herm Albright

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday Treat: Chocolate Trifle

Happy Valentines Day! Not that I celebrate V-day as it is intended usually. Ha!

Today's Tuesday Treat is for Chocolate Trifle, an easy to make, yummy chocolate treat. Make one for your loved ones tonight! It is that easy.


1 package brownie mix
1 package instant chocolate pudding
1/2 cup water
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 8oz. container frozen whipped topping (thawed)
1 12oz. container frozen whipped topping (thawed)
1 bar chocolate candy


  1. Prepare brownie mix per box directions and cool immediately. Cut into 1 inch sections.
  2. In a large bowl, combine pudding mix, water, and sweetened condensed milk. Mix until smooth then fold in 8 ounces of whipped topping until no streaks remain.
  3. In a glass serving dish, place half of the brownies, half of the pudding mixture, and half of the 12oz. whipped topping. Repeat layers. Shave chocolate on top as a garnish. Refrigerate for 8 hours before serving.


  • Not a fan of chocolate? No problem, substitute caramel, vanilla, butterscotch, etc.
  • Add mint for a seasonal/wintery flare.
  • You can drastically reduce the sugar content of this by getting all sugar free ingredients but it also will reduce the yumminess.
  • Make for your hunny and include a handmade card with a window box planter to get spring flowers started!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Five: New Computer Stuff

Any time I get a new computer or a less technologically inclined friend or family member gets one, I have a specific list of things I immediately download for the computer. That list is today's Friday Five.

  1. Firefox & Chrome Browsers
  2. Malware Bytes, Ad-Aware, and Spybot SE
  3. Open Office
  4. Paint.Net (like Photoshop but freeware)
  5. Technically not a download but I delete any all all references to Norton and McAfee.  
Do you have any go-to programs that you always have on your computer?

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Thursday Thought: Frustration

The best word to describe the past couple weeks is frustration. I started a new job so my sleep schedule has completely changed. I'm tired all the time and can't get enough rest. Frustration. The day before I started working, my computer crashed. And it is still broken. Frustration. There has been so much to do: taxes, shopping for a new (and affordable) computer, science fair projects, girl scouts, puppy potty training and leash training, never ending laundry and dishes. Frustration!

All that is necessary to break the spell of inertia and frustration is this: Act as if it were impossible to fail.
Dorthea Brande

Well, I'm trying. Really trying and I hope it works out. So my mantra for the next week is "I can do it. I will do it." Do you have an affirmative mantra you use?

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Maybe Good News?

I just got off the phone with a computer guy that is going to attempt to transfer all my stuff off my hard drive this weekend. He is going to check to see if it is my power supply first though since we couldn't find one that was the right size. The good news is that I should be back on track come Monday or Tuesday. Even better, he said that it does not sound like the hard drive crashed. That makes me so very happy!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Charles Dicken's on Google

Today is Charles Dickens birthday. You know, the author of Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, and A Tale of Two Cities. He would have been 200 years old. In case you either live under a rock and don't use Google, or just didn't pay attention, the artists at Google made an homage to Dickens in today's Google logo art.

Edit: 8/15/2012 Image removed. I don't want to be sued. Go here to see the doodle.

Doesn't that look amazing? A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite holiday reads and I read it every December. It only takes a couple hours of reading to get through the whole thing but I always enjoy it.

Happy Birthday Charles!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Author Biographies

While I am unable to access my final Immo1 file (see this post for an explanation), I have been working on a few of the other things that have been on my to-do list. The most time consuming has surprisingly been my author biography for the back of my novel. You don't really understand how difficult writing a bio is until you sit down to do it yourself. Why is it so freaking hard? We talk about ourselves all the time. Some more than others...

Anyways, I've been trolling through the interwebs for information on how everyone else approaches bios. The advice is pretty consistent.


It seems I came back online just in time to see my blog hit 5000 views. Very awesome indeed. My highest view month was last month (even while I was gone for 2 weeks!) with 965 views, while this month is probably going to be close. It is the 6th and I'm already at 145 views. So I may surpass 1k in a month this time around. That would be freaking awesome!

To all the readers that stop by for a single time, hello and thanks for stopping by. For those that read daily, thanks for coming back. I enjoy writing for you and sharing my randomness.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Operation New Computer is a Go!

I am finally back with a new computer! It only took 2 weeks... I think. So did I miss anything?

While my computer was borked, I managed to borrow my mom's laptop for a few minutes each day. I think I got one daily done in that time... good thing it had already been written the week before. haha Between starting a new job (where my sleep schedule has completely changed) and using a borrowed laptop that is shared between everyone else in the house, I didn't get more than 20 minutes at a time on the computer. Frustrating but couldn't be helped.

Plus, her laptop is old as the hills, slow, and very annoying to try to use with any proficiency. Nothing is set up how I like it to be used. It basically makes me hate using the computer when I can't use mine.

So, I have a new computer now. My bookmarks are probably lost, as I'm not sure if I can find my code for FireFox Sync. And I'm not even sure it updates as I add new bookmarks or if I was supposed to do that manually. I'll give it a try if I find my list of computer stuff. It is around here somewhere. I'm still crossing my fingers hoping that all my files are still intact on the desktop hard drive. I haven't gotten it to my computer guy yet for him to look. It will SUCK if the hard drive is gone. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

So the new computer is nice. I'm happy with it even though it cost more than I planned to shell out at the moment. It is a Toshiba Satellite P755D laptop. 6GB of RAM and 640GB hard drive. Apparently the processor is decent but I don't know squat about computers. I just know that my desk top was a 3.2 on the Windows Experience Index with fairly consistent scores from 3.2 to 3.6. This new one is a 5.9. If you know what the numbers mean, lucky you. I just know that higher numbers is supposedly better. This new computer got a 5.9 for the graphics and primary hard disk. It has a 6.5 for gaming graphics, a 6.8 processor, and a 7.3 for RAM. Good yes?

I'm working on naming the new computer. I don't know why... someone told me during my first NaNo that all electronics should have a name. I think that is where I got it. Anyways, so I had to come up with names. The name of my desktop and my netbook change frequently though. The netbook has been Pipsqueak, Thumbalina, and Purple Polly. The last name it held was Peaches... not because it is orange-ish but because of the baby from Ice Age. It is my favorite movie series after all. The desktop was named Grumpy for the longest time as it had some issues. It was 8 years old, so it fit. Lately, I had been calling it Gramps though... might be why it decided to give up the ghost finally. So for this new one, Harvey is jumping out at me. On the bottom right of the screen edge, the words harmon/kardon is printed and I immediately thought "Har-don" for a name. Of course, I can't use that. So Harvey is probably going to be it for a while at least.

So, now that Harvey has been introduced, on to other business. My daily posts are going to be limited now that I am working, especially since I am still working on the transcription of my final Immo1 edit. Even more so if my file is gone. Let's hope not but I'll let you know about Immo1 when I find out. So as for daily posts, they aren't going away 100%. I'm going to keep a few of them, namely Tuesday Treat, Thursday Thought, and Friday Five. I'll add more in as I figured out a good schedule that optimizes my free time. I hate that I have to cut out over half of my dailies but I love having a job and I love having time for sleep... something has to be limited until I find a balance. Other posts will continue as they come along... one good thing about limiting the dailies is that I will be able to write more writing posts. Since this is a writing blog after all. :)

So stay tuned for Immo1 updates, new semi-daily posts, and actual writing stuff. I'm very glad to be back online!