Friday, December 25, 2015

A Year of Pinterest: Christmas Breakfast Experiment (An Early Start)

Anyone who knows me can tell you how much I love to cook...and how much I hate to measure.  I'm really a "throw it in and taste it to see what it is missing" kind of girl.

This morning's holiday breakfast was an experiment, and I had no idea if it would come out well, or if our breakfast would consist only of bacon and hash browns because the main course failed spectacularly.  Luckily, it did NOT fail.  So, to help myself remember (and because I have a feeling people will ask), here's what I did...and the changes I'll make for next time.

Crockpot Apple and Cranberry French Toast Casserole


2 loaves French or Italian bread, torn into pieces
8 eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 sticks butter, cut into chunks
Ground Ginger


  1. Tear bread into chunks and put chunks into large crockpot
  2. Add apple chunks and cranberries, toss to mix well
  3. Whisk together eggs, milk, cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, adjusting spices to your personal levels of taste
  4. Pour egg mixture over bread.  Using a spatula or large spoon, gently fold bread mixture so that the bread on the top gets down into the eggs and cream, then press the whole thing down with the backof the spoon to pack it in tightly.
  5. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top of the bread.
  6. Distribute the butter chunks on top of the brown sugar.
  7. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, keep an eye on the edges as they will crisp up toward the end and may start to burn if not watched.
Serve with maple syrup.

Changes I'll make next time:

More apples.
More cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
More brown sugar and mix some of it with the egg mixture

All in all, quite tasty, and as it cooked overnight it was ready when we got up (and the house smelled GREAT!)

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, Blessed Yule, Happy Chanukah, and any other holidays I missed! 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Are the deaths worth it to you?

Multiple shooting incidents occurred today in the United States, at least two of which are classified as "mass shootings".  As many people have died from gunshot wounds in the United States in the past five weeks as have died from terrorism since 2001.  There have been more mass shootings in the United States in 2015 as of this date than there have been days in the year.

Are all of those deaths worth it to you?  Are all of those deaths worth not even having a conversation about making it harder for people to get guns?  And before you pull out the "criminals will still have access to guns" argument, let me point out that the vast majority of these shootings are committed by people who bought their guns legally.  If even one of these people had been stopped or delayed in their purchase of a firearm by a simple background check or licensing requirement, then that many more people would still be alive today.  Even ONE life saved by putting basic controls in place is worth it to me, and I don't understand why anyone would disagree with that idea.  We license cars, we require drivers tests, and yet people don't say, "Criminals still drive cars without licenses!  We should stop licensing everything!"

I honestly cannot tell you how many days I have sat in my workplace, or walked down the hall of the building I work in, and worked out in my mind different ways that I could react if someone came in looking to kill people.  I think about things like how they would get in, what direction they would likely have to come from, and where I could go to keep cover between myself and the terrorist.  I think about whether I would have the courage to try and stop them if I had the opportunity, and what weapons of opportunity I would have available to me.  I think about how likely I am to be a victim since I don't move quickly or well.  I think about the fact that my cellphone has to be kept in my locker due to federal banking regulations, so I wouldn't even get to text my husband with a goodbye, or an "I love you".

Is it worth it to you that people have to do this kind of thing?  Is it worth it that children in our schools have to have drills to teach them what to do if some terrorist comes in wielding a loaded weapon and starts killing their teachers and classmates in cold blood?  I still remember the nuclear bomb drills from when I was a child, and how the whole concept terrorized me. Do you think it will be any different for these children?  They'll always remember crouching silently in a closet, hoping it isn't real.

I do not understand the mindset that believes that basic licensing and checks equate automatically to the government coming in and stripping everyone of their guns everywhere (though, I have to admit, that idea appeals to me on days like today).  How can there be such a cut and dried view of the world.  Either this or that, and nothing in between, that is how they see it, and there is no reality where any such clean lines cut through the chaos of life.  There will always be grey areas, and there will always be exceptions to rules.

There will always be that one person who slips through despite the background check and licensing requirements.  There will always be the criminals who obtain guns on the black market.  There is no stopping that, this is true.  But I have yet to see any proof that everyone else having guns will keep our citizens safer.  Yes, there will be the one or two stories of a "good guy with a gun" who stopped the terrorist, but those stories are rare compared to the instances of people who have abused their right to own a firearm and who have made innocent people suffer and die as a result of that abuse.

These people are terrorists.  Despite the hysteria being whipped up by the rhetoric of the fear-mongers, they aren't foreigners.  They aren't immigrants.  They aren't refugees.  They are Americans, born and raised here, secure in their belief that somehow that fact protects them from the title that they have earned.  Terrorists.  Let's not call them "shooters" or "lone wolves", let's call them what they are...terrorists.

I'm tired of not even having the opportunity to have a civilized conversation about these terrorists and ways that we can limit the damage that they do.  Between the politicians that have been purchased by the NRA, the conspiracy theorists who believe that even the smallest concession to public safety is the beginnings of an attempt to force a dictatorship on them where they have no recourse because they are completely disarmed, and the hate-based rhetoric flying from all corners, the rational voices can't even be heard over the din.

How many more will have to die for us to wake up and realize what we are doing to ourselves?  How many more lives will be "worth it" before change finally happens?

I'm scared to know the answer to those questions, really.  Are you?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Head Hurts

Three little words that seem so innocuous, so simple.  "My head hurts."  That's all.  And when a lot of people say that, it means just that...their head hurts.  They have a headache.  If they take some aspirin and get some sleep, maybe if they eat something because their sugar has bottomed out, then they'll feel better.

And then there are those who suffer from migraines.

Some "fun" facts for you from The Migraine Research Foundation:

  • Migraine is an extremely debilitating collection of neurological symptoms.
  • Migraine is a severe recurring intense throbbing pain on one side of the head, although in about 1/3 of attacks, both sides are affected.
  • Attacks  are often accompanied by one or more of the following: visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell, and tingling or numbness in the extremities or face.
  • In 15-20% of attacks, other neurological symptoms occur before the actual head pain.
  • Attacks usually last between 4 and 72 hours.

Something that I never knew until I was several years into suffering from what I originally called "My Four Day Headaches" is that migraines are more like epileptic seizures than headaches.  That is why they don't respond to headache medicine, because you are treating the wrong thing when you take headache pills for a migraine.  You could have knocked me over with a feather when a doctor finally explained this to me.  No wonder the handfuls of over the counter remedies weren't doing anything except making me nauseous.

Go back and read item numbers 2 and 3 in the list above.  Please note the words "severe", "extreme", and "attacks".  Every migraine sufferer has individual combinations of symptoms, and no two people ever have the exact same migraine,but something that they all have in common is that they are deeply, frighteningly painful.  A minute with one can seem like an hour, and an hour can seem like days.  But again, each person's migraine is different.  I have one friend who has to be in a completely dark and silent room when they get a migraine, because any light or noise at all will ricochet through their head like a bullet inside a bell.  On the other hand, I am generally okay with basic levels of light and sound, though really bright or flourescent lights hurt and anything louder than a normal conversational level can be like I'm sitting inside a bass drum while someone beats on it with Muppet-like energy.  My biggest issue is scent and focus.  I have a hard time focusing my eyes, so I squint a lot when I'm dealing with an episode, and the slightest whiff of a scent is overwhelming to me and spikes the pain.

Yeah, I'm loads of fun in the workplace.  I literally had to move desks so that I could have a cube with high walls in order to help block scents.  What seems like an ordinary, inoffensive amount of perfume or cologne to most people is horribly strong to me, to the point where it seems like the person bathed in it.  It isn't THEIR fault, they didn't really overuse it, my system is just overreacting and using that slight breath of scent as a reason to start ringing a klaxon inside my head. Sometimes it feels like that is literally true, not just a way of describing it.

At this point the pain starts, usually behind one of my eyes, and begins spreading.  Again, everyone experiences it differently, this is just a description of my typical migraine.  Soon my entire forehead feels as though someone has wrapped it in a red-hot steel band about an inch wide and is squeezing it tighter and tighter.  At the same time there is a small work crew inside my skull working with increasing intensity to drill holes through both of my temples.  Another crew is apparently using pickaxes to try and dig my eyeballs free of their sockets.  The pain continues to spread, working its way around to the back of the head and then down the neck muscles.  You know how everyone kind of did that scrunch up and twist their faces up thing whenever Spock did the Vulcan Neck Pinch in Star Trek?  Imagine what they were trying to get you to think it felt like. Now, quadruple that in intensity, and put it on both sides of your neck at once.  It isn't exact, but it is a rough approximation of what it is actually like.

Soon your back muscles and your shoulder muscles start to tighten because, well...PAIN.  What do you do when you hurt? You clench your muscles,of course!  It is a natural reaction. Eventually it is all that you can do to just curl up in bed, pull the covers over your head, and wish someone would just come and take a sledgehammer to your brain to get it all over with.  

This can last a few hours...or days at a time.  My average generally runs around 3 days at this intensity, my longest so far has been six days straight.  That is at the 8, 9, 10 end of the 1 to 10 pain scale most medical professionals use.  Quite frankly,I rarely have a day where I do NOT have a migraine of some kind.  If I'm lucky, it is down around a 2 or a 3. By now that has become so normal for me that you probably can't even tell I have one. I go to work, do my job, run my business, and do everything I need to do. The extras don't get done, of course, because walking about in constant pain is so much more draining than anyone can ever realize who hasn't had to do it.  But that's why they have lawn mowing services and house cleaning services.

On the 4 through 7 days, I can generally still do minimal functioning.  At the lower end of that I have been known to go to work.  Sometimes if it is one of the times when light actually is bothering me, I'll work at my desk wearing sunglasses.  I've never been so glad I actually splurged on those prescription sunglasses last time I went to the eye doctor.

I miss work because of the migraines.  I have FMLA Intermittent Leave for them.  I try not to use it, and most months I don't use all that I qualify for because I make myself go in to work anyway, but I am very glad it is there for the times when I can't even sit up without the room spinning and my head exploding.

This has gotten longer than I intended.  It isn't meant for self-pity, or to get people to pat me on the back and tell me how brave I am or whatever.  I decided to write this blog post because I need people to understand that when I, or anyone who suffers migraines, says those three little words a whole lot more is meant by them than what you may realize.  So if a migraine sufferer says to you, "My head hurts.", don't respond with disbelief, or scorn, don't imply by your tone or your words that the person is just using that as an excuse and could totally work through the pain if they only put their mind to it. They can't.  Believe me, they would love to be able to never have to deal with migraines again.  They would love to not be exhausted from constantly being in pain.  They would love to be able to plan things with their friends and not have to bow out at the last moment.  They would even love being able to get up for work every morning with no more worries than whether the alarm clock went off on time or they hit snooze one time too many.

Trust me, what they are dealing with sucks.  You wouldn't want to change places with them.  If they love you, they wouldn't let you anyway because they know what a hell it can be. So cut them some slack, understand that they're doing the best they can, and let them know that it is okay.  They need to hear it, because they're being harder on themselves for letting people down than anyone else could ever be on them.

Now I'm going to go take another prescription because my head hurts.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Sometimes I get tired of fighting, but I will continue to do so even though I'm tired.

I just saw a clickbait article on someone else's Facebook feed.  The title was:  "20 people confess to the fattest thing they have ever done.  These are sickening."

I don't understand the linking of the words "fat" and "sickening".  I'm fat, and I would like to think that I'm rarely sickening (though sometimes I may step into that arena deliberately to be outrageous, but it never has anything to do with my size).  Fat is just a word that describes the physical form of a body.  It doesn't mean "sickening", or "gross", or "slovenly", or "lazy", or "stupid" or any number of other negative connotations.  I wish that people would stop adding to those assumptions by supporting that kind of association with the word.  I'm fat.  I'm smart. I have good hygiene.  My house is cluttered, but not dirty.  I am many things, but despite my comments about having the occasional lazy day, I really am NOT a lazy person.  I get a lot done with my life.

It really is frustrating and tiring to constantly be battling against such stereotypes.  And before anyone says that I don't have to battle them, please stop and think.  I battle them just by existing.  Every time I get on an airplane and see the panic in people's faces as I approach them or the relief as I pass them by, I fight the battle.  Every time that I go to a theatre and find the seats give me bruises on my hips, I fight the battle.  Every time I see a commercial showing someone proclaiming how much better they are as a person because they lost X amount of weight, I fight the battle.

I don't think that people who don't fight battles on a daily basis can understand how wearing it can be on you.  It is exhausting, and because it is something that really cannot change (95% of people who lose large amounts of weight regain it, usually plus some, within five years), the battle will never end.  I can survive anything for the short term.  I know I can, I've done it.  But knowing that you will fight the same battle over again tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, every day until you say that it wears you down is a vast understatement.

The fight will continue, though.  Hopefully someday there will come a day when people don't judge.  That day will not ever happen in my lifetime, but maybe by fighting my fight, I can help inch us toward that goal.  An inch isn't very far when there are thousands of miles to go, but inches add up.

That's what I tell myself, anyway, on days like today when I'm feeling tired and worn down.  Hopefully this inch will add up to the rest eventually.  Even though right now it feels like there's no forward motion at all.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Compliment? Or confirmation?

My Mom is the Queen of Organization.  When I was growing up, nothing ever happened without her having a plan to handle it.  If she didn’t actually have a plan, she faked it so well that it seemed like she had a plan all along.  She was a teacher, and then a school administrator, and she regularly worked sixty to eighty hours per week.  My father worked full time as well, so I guess that my brother and I were Latch Key Kids before that term was ever used.  But that doesn’t mean that Mom and Dad weren’t fully in control even from a distance.  We checked in to let them know we were home, Mom left recipe cards on the counter with any dry ingredients needed to make dinner.  The other ingredients were kept together on a particular shelf in the refrigerator.  Homework was to be done before anything else, and we made dinner in turns.  By the time our parents got home, if all went according to plan, our homework was finished and dinner was on the table.

Saturdays were cleaning days.  We were allowed to watch cartoons until noon, then it was time for housework and yard work.  She always had a plan of attack, knew who would be doing which chores, and how long each one should take.  Generally dinner was in the crockpot and cooking while we did all of the things necessary to keep the house as neat as you CAN keep it with two children living there.

Mom always had a plan.  I learned most of what I know about organization from her, and believe me, I know a lot about that subject!  I had a boss who used to laugh at me.  He said he could always tell when I was organizing something because that was when I was happiest.  I can’t help it, really, there’s just something so intrinsically satisfying about turning chaos into order.  When you’re done, no matter what it is, you can SEE the results and know that it happened because of you.

I suppose it is a good thing that I have that mental filing cabinet where I keep everything organized in my mind, because life has been really crazy between The Husbeast’s schedule and mine.  I’m working a full-time job as well as running my own business (pretty much another full-time job), he’s working his job, we are juggling a house, and three cats, and friends, and all of the other normal life objectives.  This means that things can get rather hectic.  It also means that the thing that gets sacrificed first is relaxation, and the second sacrifice is sleep. 

We’re planning a trip to visit my parents when they return to Florida in the Fall.  I’ve always wanted to go to the Disney Food & Wine Festival.  The Husbeast and I are major foodies, and we love trying foods from different cultures and cuisines.  So this is going to be triple-amazing because 1) we’ll be visiting my parents, which is always awesome, 2) we’ll be doing it at Disney World…I mean how much better can it get?  3) we’ll be doing all of this and indulging our love of culinary experimentation at the same time!

Mom and I were on the phone, discussing things like dinner reservations, plane tickets, and the like, when conversation turned to what is going on in our lives in general.  I gave her an account of my last week or so, and then it happened.  My Mom…Queen of Organization…gave me either the biggest compliment I’ve ever gotten, or the most definite confirmation that I am just plain insane for trying to juggle as much as I’m juggling.  Quite frankly, I think that her words carried a bit of both the compliment AND the confirmation.  She said, “How do you manage it all?” 

That doesn’t seem like much, right?  People ask it all of the time.  But this is coming from MOM…the woman who juggled her career, her family, her family’s obligations like marching band and sports, her husband’s career and his secondary career (Dad shared ownership in a motorcycle and snowmobile shop for several years), not to mention normal household requirements.  She did all of it seemingly without effort, and yet SHE is asking ME how I handle everything I do????

Every time I have thought about it today, I have smiled.  Sure, I know I’m crazy, but I also know that the craziness will lessen at some point when I can afford to pay myself from my business and don’t have to work another job on top of it.  There IS a light at the end of the tunnel.  Right now it is just a pinprick of light, but it is there.  And until I reach it, I can know that I am accomplishing things that other people only dream of or wish about, and whether I succeed or fail, at least I tried, which is more than most can say.

I can do the impossible.  And, like my Mom, I can make it look easy. :)

(This is Mom.  Isn't she AMAZING?)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

My Nottingham

Have you ever seen Disney's version of Robin Hood?  I love that movie, as I love most Disney movies, and adore the deft mixing of humor, pathos, and excitement. It is a fun re-telling of a classic tale.  Well, I decided that this past weekend was my Nottingham.  You remember the song, don't you?  "Not in Nottingham"?  Maybe this will help...

Or the classic version...

The past weekend definitely had its ups and downs, with more downs than ups, I'm afraid.  Normally weather isn't a big deal to me.  If it rains, I get wet.  If it is sunny, I get warm.  If it snows, I put on another layer of clothing.  But this weekend the weather was particularly like that in the second video above, and THAT meant that people stayed home and didn't want to go to events.  You know, events like Fair Park Sparks on Friday evening.

They had expected between 17,000 and 25,000 people at the event based on last year's attendance.  I can tell you that by what we saw, they were lucky if they got 2,000 people, and most of those left quickly after the first, very short, shower of rain.

We didn't even sell enough to cover the cost of the food permit, much less the booth fees.  I had tried not to get my hopes up, but I at least expected to cover the booth if nothing else.  Instead, for the first time, Fat Lady Foods lost money at an event.

To put it in perspective, we made MORE money at The Marketplace in Mesquite the next morning (also rainy) than we did at what should have been an event that was supposed to be 25 to 30 times larger.

I suppose that I have been lucky until this point.  My business has gone surprisingly well, and has made enough money to pay for itself for the most part once I got past the initial boost provided by those who contributed to the fundraiser.  It was bound to happen that I had a bomb event at some point.  I just wish it had happened when I had more cash reserves in place for the company.  Now I'm struggling.  Between missing the holiday season due to website issues, then this event, I'm in a tough place.

I know that things will improve.  I know that this was one of those downs involved in ups and downs.  It will pass and things will be good.  It is just kind of stressful right now.  

I'm doing my best to breathe and to focus on moving forward....and I will.  The business will go on, and keep getting better.  Right now, though....right now I kind of want to cry.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


This is me over here being hopeful while trying not to get my hopes up too much all while attempting to push down sheer panic and terror.  "But why?" you ask?  Because I just submitted the paperwork and fee to be a vendor at Fair Park Sparks.  It is a one afternoon/evening event at Fair Park with bands, food, fireworks, and all sorts of things.  It is the second year of the festival and, based on last year's numbers, they are projecting attendance at between 17,000 and 25,000 people.


That means that if only ONE percent of the people attending buy $10 worth of merchandise, that will be $1700 - $2500 dollars.  In one day.

I am currently thanking all the gods in the existence of time and space that I have, at present, the largest amount of stock I've ever had at one time in the history of Fat Lady Foods.  And I have two more kitchen days to make more.  Also, my Trusty Sidekick is going to be making as many caramels as she can turn out in the time between now and then.  Hopefully my Sherpa (aka The Husbeast) can get that afternoon off from work to help.

There is a regular Market Day the next day, so I am thinking that I may need to hold back a little stock just to be safe. I don't REALLY expect to sell out, but wouldn't that be something to experience???

Did I mention the terrified part?  Okay...just making sure.  Imma gonna go over here and try to breathe now.  Wish me luck!

Friday, March 27, 2015

"Hack"ed off

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate the term "hacks"?  Really, it drives me nuts.  Like so many things, people have taken a word, a very simple word, and turned it into something that means nothing like what the word originally meant.

Thoughts on different ways to do things are not "hacks".  They could be tips, or suggestions, or ideas.  They may even be procedures or directions!

The thing is, I don't understand why anyone would want some brilliant idea that they came up with called a "hack" since the vast majority of the definitions of the word carry negative connotations.  I would rather that if I devise a new way of accomplishing some goal, people refer to it in a complimentary way instead of a derogatory one.

Then there ate the oh-so-annoying clickbait articles that beat you over the head with the word.  "10 AMAZING KITCHEN HACKS THAT WILL SAVE OODLES OF TIME!"  or "5 UNBELIEVABLE DO IT YOURSELF HACKS!"  Most of the so-called "hacks" in these articles are things that have been around for a long, long time.  Sure, some are handy tips, but a lot are really just kind of dumb.

No one really takes anything seriously that has the word "hack" in the title.  They just don't.  So if you really want to get your ideas across, then just don't go there.  Just don't.

There you random rant of the night.  Guess it kind of hacks me off.  But now I've gotten it off my chest and can get back to important things like scrolling through Facebook or playing SW:TOR.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Light vs. Dark

On my Facebook feed tonight I see news reports about politicians filing bills to allow parents to obtain conversion therapy for their homosexual children under the age of 18, politicians saying that they don't believe in science because "God can overcome those so-called facts in the blink of an eye", fundamentalist Christians being suspected of stealing the statue of a Celtic God in Ireland, the continuing widening of the chasm between "left" and "right" and the politicians who are so caught up in "winning" that they have forgotten that they are there to make the lives of our citizens better, and personal stories of things like a doctor misdiagnosing someone with blood clots in their lungs as just "needing to lose weight" and almost killing them.

It is really hard at times like this to remain optimistic about humanity.  But I try.  I make myself remember the many people who contributed to help me start my business on the ever-widening path it is currently traveling.  I make myself remember a group of people sitting in a hospital waiting room, patiently waiting turns to go in and sit by the bed of a sick friend.  I make myself remember people donating hundreds of dollars to charity on the pretext of seeing someone fall backwards into a huge mud puddle.  I think about hearing that SAPA has collected a couple of hundred dollars in just a few minutes to help one of their own who blew a tire on the way home from faire and didn't have the money for a replacement.  I think of all of the rescued animals who are now pets in the homes of so many people on my friends list and how those animals will be warm and dry and fed and loved.

It is a finely balanced tipping point, the point between optimism and pessimism.  I just have to believe that more people are like the good ones that I have the honor of knowing, than are like the ones we read about in the news.  The good ones just don't get as much publicity.  I HAVE to believe that, otherwise ... as Dr. Horrible says... "Any dolt with half a brain
Can see that humankind has gone insane. To the point where I don't know if I'll upset the status quo if I throw poison in the water main."  That isn't the place I want to be.

Be good, people.  Be good to each other, be good to strangers, be good to animals.  Just be good.  Let that goodness spread out from you and warm the world around you.  The more good there is shining in the world, the less chance that darkness will overcome.