They Told Me To Try It

Part one of recommendations

I had some pretty good recommendations on my blog and in person. Thanks for reading and responding! I have added links to Goodreads, IMDB and Youtube videos if any of the following media interests you. There will be more coming soon.

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell (book)

Src: Goodreads

This was recommended to me when I told one of my historian friends that I had started A Young People’s History of the United States (Zinn, adapted by Stefoff). I am having some trouble getting through it because there is little cheer in highlighting every group’s battle with oppression. Assassinated presidents sounds like another jolly topic, but from all the reviews I’ve read the writer presents it with some wry humor and it sounds organized like a travel journal. I’m a voyeur and how can you blame me since I have kept a private journal for nearly 12 years.

Banks of the Ohio (song)
I listened to several versions of this to get a feel for this creepy, creepy song that was first recorded in 1927 (Wikipedia). Bill Monroe and Doc Watson was the first that I listened to. It has all the charm of an Uncle picking on the back porch with a couple of the other older farmers. Feet dangling off the back porch and smoke curling up through the battling heat and humidity. This is a song that falls under the sub genre of murder ballads of which there were at least enough for Nick Cave to fill an album of them. The second one I listened to was by Dolly Parton, which I had hoped was a tweaked female version. It takes a very Dolly spin in the way it sounds and although some lyrics are different the main change is found in the first few lines: “I went into his prison cell/To write his story, if he’d tell/He spoke as tears fell from his eyes/And he told me when and how and why/And he said…” before moving onto the story. Olivia Newton-John changes to a female perspective and has the same “knife to breast” murdering that Dolly sings about. I prefer Bill’s straight off pushing and drowning murder. Seems simplest. Johnny Cash has the best of both worlds as he stabs and then pushes his love into the Ohio River. Moral of the story, if the man’s name is “Willie”, don’t turn him down by any sizable body of water.

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (TV series)

This is a TV show that got recommended to me and then I got to watch several episodes. First off, if you are a Bruce Campbell fan and haven’t seen this, then you might need to look to fixing your life. This is a wild west TV show in which a man comes to town to avenge his father’s death (Brisco County Senior). It’s your typical wild west TV show (27 episodes), if your norm involves the Chin himself, snorting with laughter at Julius Carry (who played Sho-Nuff in The Last Dragon), and a little bit of weird that can most easily be categorized to 1890s steampunk. Watch it.

Gary: Tank Commander (TV series)
I have already started watching this on Netflix and as I have gotten into it, I dinnae ken who can avoid watching it! Okay, it’s not going to change your life, but this is a funny Scottish military TV show. Gary barely scrapes by without keeping out of trouble and the many duties that the armed forces take on while at home. I still have to have subtitles on and near the beginning of the series the actors poke fun at Americans who can’t understand their slang and accent so there is plenty of cheek. There are a few jokes that are culture specific, but I haven’t had to look up anything that I didn’t understand by context. It kinda reminds me of the pranks and scrapes of the characters in MASH except there aren’t any episodes that include folks getting dead. Around the time of posting, Netflix has 3 seasons available.

Vegan Bourbon Hazelnut Pancakes (recipe)
This is not actually a recipe I made, but one that I ate. The recipe that my vegetarian friend was one that she got from a vegan recipe book. I’m not certain, but this one seems damned similar. Let me clearly state, I don’t like pancakes. I’m also a lover of cheese, milk, butter, and eggs, so vegan recipes are hard for me to get behind. However, I’ve got a friend who is brave enough to try it and forces me -nicely- to try stuff. These were THE BOMBDINGO. We ate them with plain maple syrup, but you could have eaten them plain as well. I ate huge helpings and was waddling around after dinner. If I had any complaint, the ‘butter’ didn’t quite melt like butter. None of that mattered since it tasted ah-mazing. Get outta here with your banana pancakes, Jack Johnson.

Did this short list remind you of other awesome things you’d like to share? Please post below.

Have you already tried some of the above things listed? What did you think?

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johnny 5

Photo: movieweb.com

Over Christmas and New Year’s I got exposed to some new-to-me music, movies, games, and books. One game especially kinda pulled it all together. There’s a card
game named Slash in which you try to find the best mate for each character. All the character cards are from TV, movies, and books. This brought to my attention to how many cards I needed to discard since I was at a loss as to who or what the character was.

I would love to get recommendations for all types of media in the new year. It is so readily available but it’s like diving into the middle of the ocean. Where to begin?
It doesn’t have to be new media either. For example, I watched Die Hard just before Xmas for the first time. Alan Rickman makes a cool bad guy and I hope he’s enjoying some peace just now. Oh, and dear god, get that cop some shoes.

alan rickman

Photo: Buzzfeed

So, can you recommend some media to me?

  • Movies–I like comedies, romances, thrillers, action films. Not keen on angst ridden, artsy films nor horror flicks. Although, classic horror is good.
  • Television–Similar to movies. I like crime shows and comedies. Such as NCIS, Castle, and Parks &  Recreation.
  • Anime or Cartoons–I love all things Studio Ghibli. I am not into mech.
  • Books/Graphic novels–Mostly fiction/fantasy/sci-fi and some biographical nonfiction.
  • Music–I really like singable and dance-able music and sometimes I need chill background music.
  • Podcasts–I like em short, informational (somewhat), and funny.
  • Games–Solitaire type games, two person/small crowd, cards, dice, paper–I’m easy.
  • Recipes–I love cooking! I am not the most experienced, but I love playing with recipes!

Here are a few things I’ve been taking in recently:

  • Movies–Watch Die Hard if you haven’t. If only to hear Alan Rickman say “Yippie Ki yay, mother fucker” one more time. (Spoiler: https://youtu.be/7tKr5XRPGmQ)
  • Television–iZombie has been getting recommended to heaps of folks by me. I want to get into Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries series.
  • Anime or Cartoons–Last animated feature I watched was Animatrix (again)–some not so bad ones in there.
  • Books/Graphic novels–Reading Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls.
  • Music–Uhm, I have been listening to same playlists for years…
  • Podcasts–Thrilling Adventure’s Sparks Nevada Marshall on Mars is great!
  • Games–I enjoyed King of Tokyo over the holidays among several others.
  • Recipes–I don’t know why but homemade chicken salad is so simple and worth every ounce of effort.

Please leave me some recommendations in the comments below. I would absolutely love all input! I can quickly do a search and read a quick blurb on the media you suggest, but I would much rather like to know why are you recommending this? I assume because it was good, but it is thinky, inspiring, funny, great for a party, perfect with a cup of tea?

 

Luau Island Party

A couple of weeks back I went on a mini-vacation, just to get away from it all. I decided that I was going to the beach….In Illinois.
My SiL, Beth and brother planned an epic Luau party. Here are pictures, links, descriptions and recipes to what we did for our Par-tay.

Kat dance pose

Essential Party Supplies

  • Accessories
  • Food
  • Music

Accessories

Believe it or not, it is very difficult to find Luau related party garb in September. However, true party planners never come up empty. After visiting several stores we got serious and ended up at a party supplies store. We hunted all over before finally getting desperate and asking gentleman sporting an officials vest—He was labeled as a Halloween Expert.

He also turned out to be a store expert and pointed us directly to the quarter aisle of luau supplies. We didn’t need much. We left the store with three sparkly leis in our favorite colors. We also grabbed a pack of shiny umbrellas to embellish our drinks. I brought some large colorful smoothie straws from home. They were purchased at salvage for $1.25.

Some things we didn’t find in the store is pictured above. Because money can’t buy a Hawaiian style skirt such as this! If you’re looking at cost or supplies needed: Staples and stapler, grocery sacks, and a binder clip for quick clasp of skirt. We’ll get to how you make it later.

Essentially, we purchased all of our accessories for under $10.

Food

island drink blenderI would call the drinks daiquiris, but truly, they were so much more than that. We added: very ripe bananas, frozen strawberries, mango, fresh pineapple, and tropical punch flavored white rum. Blend well and serve immediately with awesome umbrellas.island drinks

asparagus       Asparagus. Yes, I did just have this in my fridge and it needed to be cooked up. I love asparagus. If you cook it, I will eat it. This were laid out on a cookie sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roasted in the oven until delightfully crispy.

waikiki chicken prebake

The very best and the highlight of supper was our Waikiki Beach Chicken and Tom’s Waikiki Beach Tofu (he’s vegetarian). Want to know the original recipe that Beth based the above on? Here is the original Waikiki Beach Chicken recipe.
We loved it! Here are some of our recommendations: We backed off the sugar in the sauce to 3/4 cup instead of a whole cup. You could back down to a half cup. We liked ours on the salty side, no worries, a dash of soy sauce and overnight the flavors mellowed so it was even better! We used boneless skinless chicken waikiki beach chicken platebreasts and it did seem to take forever in the oven—This could have been because we were starving and are like small children waiting for Santa.

I don’t have much advice about the tofu version. Tom said it was delish though. If you have questions, please hit me up and I will consult the veggie-guru that is my brother.

Music

Why is music so important? Don’t ask such stupid questions. This will set the mood and help aid in the silliness that is a faux-Hawaiian. The more important question might be, Kat, what did you listen to? That is something I will answer. We used Spotify to keep our music rolling throughout the evening. No, they aren’t paying me money to use their name and yes, I wish someone was paying me for this drivel.

lilo and stitch ST spotify blogThe obvious first choice here, the soundtrack from Lilo & Stitch the Disney flick. Now, I don’t care if you like the movie or not. The music is sweet.
Beth and I wanted to get in the mood before the party got started. Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride and a little Elvis. How can you go wrong?

luau mix spotify pic for blogTom was smartsies. He found this premade Hit Nation playlist on Spotify and it had nice nice tunes on it. Both playlists are, as you may have noticed, finite. We needed more music so we added some tracks from these selected artists: Beach Boys, I accidentally added and discovered Spike Jones and His City Slickers, and more songs from that dude that sings Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole, I didn’t know either).
I am pretty sure I have discovered that next silly artist that my brother will get into. Spike Jones and His City Slickers have lots of weird and funny songs. Go ahead and listen to Water Lou (drip, drip, drip). I am sure that it is on….ah, there you are.

Tom also added some more awesome ambiance to our party by muting and playing this youtube video that shows 43 minutes of Hawaii landscapes and such. It was beautiful. If you need something to play in the background of your life, I highly suggest this.

Let me know, via comments, if you are interested in a step by step instructional blog on how to make a Hawaiian style “grass” skirt. Just to recap, we used grocery sacks (Kroger has brown!) that were fanned out or staggered then stapled together. If you are making one for a child or small adult you may want to add a second layer around to add more fluff. Cut slits almost to the stapled area (leave about two inches). Use a binder clip to pin it around the waist quickly. Do not try to go to the bathroom in these guys—you will want the quick removal aspect. T making skirt

Tom is cutting the slits in his grass skirt.

Beth dance pose

 

K&T drinks poseK&B drinks pose

Now, go and enjoy your own luau party!!    We did some hula dancing tutorials on youtube, but ultimately were too full and just laid around the rest of the night. It was great fun!!

Can Haz Desktop

I am sure it has been painfully obvious by my posts that I have been blogging from my Android phone for….over a year. It has been supremely difficult to update my pages and add those special touches that only a full computer can offer. Don’t get me wrong, the Android application for WordPress is awesome and all the updates just keep getting better! It is great for on the go posting and I will likely still use it as such.
However, my tech savvy brother has refurbished an old desktop computer he found. Check dis’ shit out:

computer

I have already messed with the old desktop photos and added my first sticker to the monitor. On the bottom left of the monitor is the bat symbol. Typical symbol of cavers.

I haven’t just dealt with the cosmetics of it. I got a USB wifi converter so I don’t have to use an ethernet cable. And I added a ton of updates to the virus protection software. I tried to download the Spotify player, but ran into some major playback issues, which means I’m stuck with the web player.

I have been making blogging plans the last few days. You might just pee yourself. Okay, well, maybe not that exciting. Please, go and inkle if you have the inkling. Don’t wait on me to stop spazzing about the fact that I have a computer again.

I have been able to update my About Me page. There are very few differences if you have already read it. I just made sure that my dates and such are appropriate.
You may not have noticed, but it was driving me nuts that my 365 Series Page wasn’t fully updated since I completed the blog series. It has said *Under Construction* for months. I finally fixed it!! Check out my 365 Series: 301-265.

I hope to have more fun blogs coming up soon. However, I must get my computer legs underneath me before I just post ten blogs in one day and overload with excitement.

~Kat~

Music Old and New

I have a habit of falling into a comfortable place with my music. I have CDs or playlists and I listen to them until even my friends can sing or groan at the lyrics.

The way to break out of this comfort zone is when others force me to listen to a new song. So, I’m going to share a song I have adored since high school and a song I just heard this morning by a wildly talented group of singers.

The new:

Isn’t that just about perfect?

And the old:

I don’t care what you think of Butterfly. That’s my JAMZ!

Kat Deals with Anger

The other day I got really mad. It was the type of mad that quickly leads to frustration because nothing can be done. It was the type of mad that because nothing can be done I wanted to punch things.
After storming around the house like a three year old in a tantrum, I decided to redirect my negative energy to make good things happen.

First, I put on music to reset the mood, same energy, less anger. I avoided the mopey love songs and the angry thrasher rock. You might hit up your favorite work out list.
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Next, I took my makeup bag, dumped it out and organized it by type of makeup. I did not use it all, but I chose at least one of each type.
Mineral foundation, bronzer, eyeliner, two types of mascara for popping lashes, two different eye shadow colors, my deep red lipstick, eyebrow pencil and tiny bit of blush.
It was heavy, but necessary. I wanted it to be extreme (for me) but not leave me looking like an alien.
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After makeup, I brushed out my hair and took several photos until I felt perdy. I realize selfies are silly, but again, I needed this.
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After getting pretty, I made two loaves of pumpkin bread. Not only did I end up with a delicious bread but a yummy blog as well.

I even washed up some dishes.
I kinda wish I could get that angry more often. I would have fresh baked breads and a clean house all the time! Well, maybe I would rather be messy and happy.

How do you deal when you’re so angry you can’t see straight?

Stay-In Valentine’s Day Plans for Playful Couples

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I designed this stay-in date night for my sister-in-law and have decided the plans are too good to keep to myself.
This is a Valentine’s Day date designed for the broke-college students, kids at heart, vegetarians and those wishing to break the stiff candle-lit dinner traditions.
If this is you, read on.

Keep in mind these are plans for adults and they often do adult things together. If you are offended by couples with healthy/happy relationships both physical and emotional then this is your warning to get outta Dodge.

Set the TableMake a blanket fort

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I know it may have been years since you last made one. Just get started and your inner child will fill in the blanks. If you’re timid to try, here is a link to help get you started: School of How To.

Fill your fort with blankets and pillows to lounge on. Then put a string of Xmas lights or a small night light inside instead of a candle–a touch light or battery flameless battery operated candle.
Eat dinner then push the dishes out of the fort and get to snuggling.

Make Dinner

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All Recipes has a fantastic recipe for Black Bean Stuffed Bell Peppers. This is a vegetarian recipe but you can easily modify it. Fry up some bacon til crispy. Cool and crumble it into your mix. Also, this is a special dinner so if you have fresh onions then dice and saute half an onion (at least).

Cook dinner together. If you don’t think cooking as a couple is romantic then try this: Turn off the phones, turn on music you both love, lock the doors, draw the blinds and get naked. If you’re a little weird about cooking in the buff, then keep on your underwear and apron.

Dessert for Chocolate Lovers

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Fun desserts are messy. I’m working the mathematical correlation now. I recommend fondue or a s’mores lab.
Contrary to popular belief you DO NOT need a fancy fondue pot nor double boiler to make fondue. Just be careful to melt slowly and stir often. Crock pots come in handy if you have one.

This is the same Groovy Fondue recipe I used for my birthday party. It was a HUGE hit. Pro-tip: You can make truffles out of the chilled leftovers. You’ll thank me later.

The tasty alternate dessert is to create a s’mores experimentation lab. Grab plates, ingredients and get ready to create a franken-S’more. A Lot On Your Plate blog has Ten S’mores Recipes that should inspire you to get creative. Marshmallows in the microwave are just hysterical anyway.

Games/Activities

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The first two activities are more passive, but as you will soon find that they are awesome to add to the list.

The Couples Q&A. There are literally tons of these questionnaires on the interwebz and a quick Google search will turn up plenty of results. This list is just to get you started. Keep in mind–Some lists are designed for deep emotional probing that is probably inappropriate on a fun night.

The second activity is for dreamers. Kit and I love making lists like these. Here is an example of a Couple’s Bucket List to get your creative juices flowing. Grab a notebook and dream big!

Minute to Win it Games.These are fun and can be adapted for two instead of a group party. Most of the materials are super cheap–to save even more money, do these games the day after V-Day and buy the sale candies.

The games from that blog that I chose are: Heart-a-stack, Marshmallow Toss, Love Spot (use paper cut outs instead of expensive craft pom poms), and Heart Pick Up. I have seen the Face Cookie on every M2W party blog and am exhausted with its overuse.

How to Get Your Spouse to Play Along
If your partner isn’t the playful sort then I don’t have much hope for you. However, if you’re gamer sweetheart is just a little shy then this is a great date.

Kit doesn’t do well with surprises so I typically spill ALL my surprises. Some guys or gals are like that. They need to be mentally prepared for fun so they can be excited instead of reluctant. Give them really obvious hints. Tell your partner that you will be playing some mini-games similar to Mario Party and that you’ll be making supper together. If you want to keep it a guessing game, tell them some of the ingredients to dinner or dessert.

If you use any of my date night ideas please let me know how your night went!
(You don’t have to share the gritty details).