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Let’s Talk about 13 Reasons Why

April 28, 2017
Let's talk about 13 reasons why

By now you’ve heard all the hype about the Netflix series, so let’s talk about 13 Reasons Why, shall we? This is about my 5th attempt at writing about the show, and it probably won’t be my last. 

Before we go any further **** Major Spoiler Alert**** don’t read anymore if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know what happens.

13 Reasons Why is a Netflix series based on the Jay Asher book of the same name. It covers the themes most high schoolers, and many middle schoolers face every day – including bullying, rape and suicide. It’s graphic and the internet is losing its collective shit over it. Schools are sending notes home about it, every single newscast has covered it and you can’t surf the web without finding blog posts just like this one defending it or criticizing it. Paris Jackson is one of many people telling people not to watch it. I’m here to tell you, if you have kids, you should definitely watch it if for no other reason to understand what kids go through on a regular basis. 

While I have some issues with the series, I think it is always a good thing to talk about the stuff that scares us. Bullying, rape and suicide as well as teen drug and alcohol use, is scary stuff, but if we want to help kids navigate these complicated thing we’re going to need to have a dialog. 13 Reasons Why gets that dialog started.

Suicide is Never Painless

You can read a much better synopsis here, but in a nutshell the story is about a Clay Jensen, a shy high schooler who is given a shoebox of numbered cassette tapes created by Hannah Baker, a friend of Clay’s who recently killed herself. Each tape details one of the 13 reasons why she killed herself and those responsible have listened to the tapes and have been instructed to pass them along to the next person on the tape, which is why Clay has them. According to Hannah, he is partly responsible for her suicide.

Clay is responsible for her death in that he didn’t come out and tell her how he felt about her. His is one of the lesser reasons why she killed herself, though it torments Clay that he didn’t do more. Other people on the tape have teased her, bullied her, humiliated her, stabbed her in the back, and finally raped her. She even includes her guidance counselor who suggests she move on after she tells him about the rape, instead of going to the authorities and having the little snot arrested. 

It is then – when the counselor lets her down – that she comes up with the plan to create the tapes and then kill herself by getting into the bathtub and slitting her wrists – depicted rather graphically in the show.

I should mention, I have not read the book. I understand it has a different flavor to it, and I suspect it doesn’t come off as flippantly as it does in the series. I loved them, but the series felt like a too long After School Special. 

Aside from how it ends – with Hannah killing herself – there is nothing in this series that I, and many of my friends, didn’t experience at that age. What happened to Jessica – raped while passed out drunk, and Hannah – overpowered and raped, is actually quite common. Now we call it date rape, but when I was growing up it was called being in the wrong place at the wrong time or asking for it. We’ve come a long way, because we’ve been willing to talk about it. So let’s keep talking about it because clearly it’s still happening.

Teenage Wasteland

I thought the depiction of teenage life was incredibly accurate. Kids drink, they take drugs, they have sex, and they do a lot of stupid things – all while parents and teachers look the other way because they don’t want to dig too deep. My book, Minnesota Nice, is about all of these issues (I’m working on publishing soon, stay tuned for more info about that).

I also thought the depiction of the aftermath of her death – how her parents react and how the kids deal with it – was pretty well done. I didn’t see any glorifying of suicide. 

My issue is with Hannah’s storyline. She’s depressed and yet she is still motivated enough to create these 13 tapes. I get that they’re a device to move the plot along, it just seemed heavy handed to me. Plenty of teenagers kill themselves each day, most do so quietly because they already feel as though they don’t matter and that no one cares. Hannah obviously thought enough people would care to listen to the tapes. Hers was the sort of suicide most teens have fantasized about – getting even, even if it means getting dead. 

Trigger Warning

Since the show has come out, many teens, teachers and parents are worried that the show is triggering and therefore shouldn’t have been made. I can’t even begin to understand that kind of reasoning. If something is triggering then it absolutely needs to be discussed. Possibly with a professional, but certainly with a parent or trusted teacher. 

I lost three friends to suicide when I was a teenager. It’s an absolutely horrible thing to experience. And yes, cluster suicides are a thing, which is why we need to bring suicide out into the light. Thinking about suicide shouldn’t be taboo – because I promise you every single teenager (and more and more middle schoolers) have thought about their own suicide. I would hazard a guess that every human that lives and breathes has at one time or another contemplated taking their own life. And yet, we make the thought of it something to be ashamed of. 

When asked on most pediatrician questionnaires if they’ve considered suicide before, most teens will lie because they fear being pushed into therapy or the psych ward for thinking about something that is actually pretty normal. I know I have. 

It Gets Better, Promise

Life is scary, people are mean, and bad things happen, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get better. It usually always gets better. And that’s the point of the series, to show how wasteful suicide is. Hannah was a smart, funny, caring, and loving young woman. She had everything to look forward to in her future, she just couldn’t see past what she was experiencing to believe it would ever get better. We need to impress upon our kids that the pressure cooker that is middle school and high school gets better. If they can just hang in there (with professional help) they will be okay. Life is always a struggle, and for some it is much worse than for others. Life is not fair, but it does get better. The more we talk about these things the less damage they can do. 

I grew up reading books like The Bell Jar, Go Ask Alice and other rather dark tales about teens descent into the abyss. Teenage years can suck for a lot of people, they did for me and many of my friends. Having those books, seeing the After School Specials, helped me feel less alone. Because if people are writing about these topics and they’re making movies and TV shows about these heavy subjects, it means someone else has experienced these shitty things and managed to not only survive, but somehow thrive.

Let’s keep talking about Thirteen Reasons Why.

 

 

Advice Books People Reviews Things I Really Like

If You Want to be a Badass with Money, You Need this Book

April 27, 2017
If You Want to be a Badass with money, You Need this Book

If you want to be a badass with money, you need this book by Jen Sincero. By now you’ve heard of the book You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life also by Jen. It’s bright yellow and stares back at you from most best seller lists – for the past several years. It’s tough to miss. If you haven’t read it you should – if you want to be a badass in all things. It’s a fantastic read and even better audio book (Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks – look at me saving you money, too!) as it is read by the author. Jen Sincero is funny, witty, goofy, charming and she has some great ideas. I highly recommend it. 

I know, I’m always telling you to buy these books I haven’t even finished yet, but I can’t help it because I don’t want you to miss out on these inspiring books. I’m pumped up and I want you to be pumped up!

If You Want to be a Badass With Money, You Need this Book

Now Jen has come out with a new book – You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth. Even if you hate money, don’t want to make more of it and never want to have enough of it, you’ll still love and benefit from this book. 

Jen takes all the excuse we make about money and shreds them – in a really funny way. 

No matter where you are in life – a happy and secure corporate position or you’re a freelancer trying to beat the odds and actually make money – this book has some great tips for mastering the elusive and almighty dollar. 

It’s even got some great ideas about becoming more fulfilled, creative, motivated, inspired and satisfied. If you like the self-help genre and are looking for a great read, this is the book for you. If you’ve already read it you can find some other great life-changing books here

 

Dumb Shit I Do Huh infographic

Breaking Down my Fitbit Steps

April 26, 2017
breaking down my fitbit steps

I love my Fitbit. It motivates me to get off my ass and get out and do some walking. That’s a great thing and it’s helped me to lose a some weight I’ve been trying to shed. I can’t say enough good things about the Fitbit.

Except, it doesn’t break down my Fitbit steps.

I do, on average, 16000 steps each day. I walk each morning, usually 3 to 4 miles. If I didn’t I wouldn’t get my steps in because I sit at my desk all day. Aside from getting up to go to the bathroom, get a snack or get the laundry, I don’t get many steps. 

And yet, I still manage to get a lot of steps. 

The thing is, the Fitbit doesn’t differentiate steps. Arm movement (not typing, that doesn’t count) equals steps. I’ll take steps anyway I can get them, but the truth is I get a lot of steps from giving Ruby tummy rubs and doing other things that aren’t actually steps. Apparently, I gesticulate a lot. 

Advice Blogging Dumb Shit I Do Kids Minnesota Nice Pets Things I Really Like Writing

Compliment Freely

April 25, 2017
compliment freely

Do you compliment freely? Which do you do more often – compliment or criticize? The consensus seems to be that we are in a hand basket on our way to hell. It doesn’t matter where you look, people jump on each other for saying or doing anything, even with the best of intentions. 

Here are just a few recent examples of companies and people that were taken to task for doing or saying the wrong thing:

  • Shea Moisture – For including white women in their latest ad campaign.
  • Pepsi – For suggesting that Kendall Jenner and Pepsi can end racism, among other issues.
  • Anything Sean Spicer says.
  • Everything President Trump says or does including breathing.

I’m not passing judgment on any of these examples or their respective backlash, but I do think we’d all do ourselves a huge favor if instead of jumping on the outrage bandwagon, we used our energy to compliment rather than criticize.

If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

My grandmother always said – “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. She didn’t always follow her own advice, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Have you ever received a compliment from a stranger and it seemed to instantly change your mood for the better? Not only does a compliment instantly make the receiver happy, but it also greatly boosts that person’s confidence.

Imagine a child trying to learn how to play a piece on the piano and a member of the family yells at them to stop making that racket. Will the child look forward to piano practice or will they dread it and eventually give up? 

Learning anything new is difficult, in fact to master something it is suggested it takes at least 10k hours. That’s a lot of sucking at something until you “get” it.

And in those 10k hours of sucking at something, there’s an abundance of people willing to tell you how much you suck.

We Become what we Believe

When I was around 18 years old I picked up my brother from the University of Minnesota. It was late in the afternoon and I had my parents new beagle puppy in the car with me. I think I had taken the puppy to get shots. I only remember the puppy being in the car because it was then that we discovered he had motion sickness. Anyway, I rarely drove with my brother. If we were going somewhere together he was going to drive. However, it was late in the afternoon, the campus was busy and I didn’t want to park so pretty much I agreed to arrive at a specific place at a specific time and he jumped in the car while it was basically still moving. There wasn’t time to switch drivers.

As we were crossing the bridge another car swerved over, obviously I was in his blind spot, and would have hit us if I hadn’t reacted quickly and swerved out of his way. 

I executed the move flawlessly. I know this because my brother actually said I did some great driving. 

He was impressed.

It was luck. Thankfully, there was just enough room on the other side of me to swerve – there was no one in the other lane. 

I don’t mean to minimize my skills behind the wheel, but I had several accidents under my belt. It was luck combined with keeping a cool head – something I was not known for.

Because my brother, about the only person in my life who I looked up to, said I was a good driver, I believed it. In fact, since that time I have only been in two other accidents. Neither of which were my fault. 

I am confident when I drive and consider myself a very good driver. Of course, I’ve probably done 10k hours worth of driving since that moment on the bridge with the sick puppy in the back seat.  Make no mistake, there is no doubt in my mind that being told by someone I thought highly of that I was a good driver helped to make me a good driver. 

We Believe what we Become

On the other hand, my brother used to call me “Post Toasties”. To this day I don’t know why he nick named me after a breakfast cereal. I only know it wasn’t a good nick name. It was not a term of endearment. I know this because he and his friends all laughed whenever he called me “Post Toasties”. They may have been laughing because that’s what big brothers and their friends do when teasing little sisters. However, I was a child and didn’t understand that sometimes kids do things without thinking too much about why they are doing them.

In my mind it was simply another way for him to call me “fat”, without my parents finding out. I jumped to that conclusion all by myself. It fit perfectly with what I had been told my grandmother, children at school and was seeing in the teen magazines I was devouring along with the Twinkies and PopTarts. I take full responsibility for the eating disorder I cultivated during those years, and I doubt a compliment would have been enough to prevent it from taking root, but it might have given me pause if someone had given me one.

Compliment Freely

Words we choose carry so much power. We can either uplift or we can tear down. Lately it seems, all we do is tear each other down.

Instead of criticizing try to compliment. If that isn’t possible – and let’s face it, it isn’t always possible – just remember you don’t have to say anything. 

Compliment freely. You could be the difference between someone’s success or failure. A few small words can make all the difference in the world. So choose them wisely. 

Events Minnesota People

LANDMARKS TO TURN PURPLE IN HONOR OF PRINCE

April 17, 2017
Paisley Park logo

MINNEAPOLIS LANDMARKS TO TURN PURPLE

IN HONOR OF PRINCE AND

PAISLEY PARK’S CELEBRATION 2017 EVENT

 

Paisley Park Encourages Cities, Landmarks and Fans

Around the World to Join in the Purple Tribute

 

Chanhassen, Minn. (April 17, 2017) – As the world marks the first anniversary of Prince’s passing, Minneapolis landmarks will join Paisley Park in celebrating the life and legacy of Prince by turning purple on Thursday, April 20 and/or Friday, April 21.  Starting on Thursday, April 20, Paisley Park will welcome fans from around the world to Celebration 2017 to enjoy four days of live music, panel discussions and special presentations highlighting Prince’s tremendous talent, influence and importance as a composer, musician, producer, live performer and filmmaker.  

Buildings and landmarks scheduled to turn purple include the I-35W Bridge, Hennepin County Lowry Avenue Bridge, U.S. Bank Stadium,IDS Center, and Target Field.  Paisley Park encourages cities and landmarks around the world to join in this purple tribute by lighting buildings, bridges, and landmarks purple on April 20 and April 21!  Fans are also encouraged to wear purple on April 21 and upload pictures to social media using #PaisleyPark.

Tickets to Celebration 2017 are nearly sold out, with limited general admission still available. Fans interested in attending are encouraged to visit OfficialPaisleyPark.com now to secure remaining tickets while the supply lasts. Attendees to Celebration 2017 can access special promotional rates at hotels surrounding Chanhassen. Full details and promotion codes are available at OfficialPaisleyPark.com.  

The Prince4Ever Tribute Fence, built in the interior grounds of Paisley Park along the grass adjacent to the north parking lot, now displays archived fan-donated memorial messages and artifacts originally attached to the exterior perimeter fence in the weeks following Prince’s passing last year. Visitors who have purchased tickets to Celebration 2017 and scheduled tours throughout April will also have the opportunity to view the Prince4Ever fence and add personal tribute messages as part of their overall Paisley Park tour experience. 

​​​

ABOUT PRINCE

Prince sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. He won seven GRAMMY® Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and an Academy Award® for the film “Purple Rain,” all of which are displayed at Paisley Park. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, the first year of his eligibility. Prince was born in Minneapolis and resided in the Minneapolis area throughout his life

ABOUT PAISLEY PARK

Paisley Park, Prince’s private estate and production compound in Chanhassen offers fans of the late music icon the unprecedented opportunity to tour the legendary, 65,000-square-foot complex that served as the center of Prince’s creative universe.  Operated by P Park Management, guided tours take visitors throughout the extensive main floor of Paisley Park, including recording and mixing studios where Prince recorded, produced and mixed most of his biggest hits, exhibit spaces that chronicle films such as Purple Rain and Graffiti Bridge, Prince’s private NPG Music Club, and a massive soundstage and concert hall where Prince rehearsed for concert tours and held exclusive, private events and performances.  The tour also features thousands of artifacts from Prince’s personal archives, including iconic concert wardrobe, awards, musical instruments and concert memorabilia.  

 

Paisley Park is located at 7801 Audubon Road, Chanhassen, Minnesota, approximately 30 minutes outside of Minneapolis. For more information about Paisley Park, visit OfficialPaisleyPark.com.

Paisley Park online:

Facebook – www.facebook.com/OfficialPaisleyPark

Instagram – www.instagram.com/officialpaisleypark

Twitter – http://twitter.com/paisleypark

#Celebration2017 

Advice Blogging Dumb Shit I Do

100 Things You Can do to Make the World a Better Place

April 12, 2017
100 things you can do to make the world a better place

It’s chaotic out there. We’re all feeling overwhelmed, vulnerable and fragile. The world feels like a scary place right now, but it doesn’t have to be. These 100 Things You Can do to Make the World a Better Place can have a profound impact and they are something you can do, right now.  

Many of us feel powerless to change the world, but doing just one of these things has the power to impact someone greatly.

By doing just a few of these things – even just one, you have the power to change the world. You can make the world a better place, and it’s pretty easy to do.

Chaos Theory or Butterfly Effect  –  whatever you want to call it –  your actions can have a massive impact. So take a few moments out of your busy day to make the world a better place.

  1. Compliment each other.
  2. Hold the door open for the person in front of you or behind you.
  3. Say “Please” and “Thank you”.
  4. Breathe.
  5. Buy coffee for the person behind you.
  6. Take a day or two off from social media.
  7. Adopt a pet.
  8. Bathe regularly.
  9. Ask friends and family “How are you?”.
  10. Stop worrying about other people’s grammar.
  11. Tell a joke.
  12. Write a letter.
  13. Write a love letter.
  14. Take a walk.
  15. Listen to music.
  16. Take your nephew (or niece) to a movie.
  17. Be on time.
  18. Wear nice clothes.
  19. Use your blinker.
  20. Forgive someone.
  21. Forgive yourself.
  22. Tell someone they did a great job.
  23. Call your parents.
  24. Hug someone.
  25. Pick up after yourself.
  26. Assume everyone is doing their best.
  27. Eat more fiber.
  28. Tip well.
  29. Let people cut in front of you in traffic.
  30. Brush your teeth.
  31. Create a Bucket List.
  32. Call a friend.
  33. Eat together as a family.
  34. Take a nap.
  35. Meditate.
  36. Have a picnic.
  37. Buy new sheets.
  38. Quit smoking.
  39. Do what is right, not what’s easy.
  40. Take a risk.
  41. Read a book.
  42. Read another book.
  43. Learn a new language.
  44. Master the language you already know.
  45. Be open to new things.
  46. Try a new restaurant.
  47. Go back to school.
  48. Stop comparing yourself to other people.
  49. Stop comparing other people to other people.
  50. Practice gratitude.
  51. Dance.
  52. Get rid of the clutter in your life.
  53. Sing in the car, even if the kids complain.
  54. Accept that people are different.
  55. Write in your journal.
  56. Start a journal.
  57. Eat ice cream.
  58. Take responsibility for your life.
  59. Consider your purpose.
  60. Look at old photographs.
  61. Eat an apple.
  62. Make your bed when you wake up.
  63. Drink more water.
  64. Day dream.
  65. Make new friends.
  66. Try yoga.
  67. Sleep naked.
  68. Color in a coloring book.
  69. Pray.
  70. Have drinks with friends.
  71. Go to a drive-in movie.
  72. Get up an hour earlier.
  73. Go to be and hour earlier.
  74. Ignore petty grievances. 
  75. Plant a tree.
  76. Reconnect with old friends.
  77. Watch old movies.
  78. Plant a tree.
  79. Volunteer.
  80. Talk to a toddler.
  81. Plan a roadtrip.
  82. Catch a sunset.
  83. Go to the beach.
  84. Eat dessert first.
  85. Tell a joke.
  86. Go to the library.
  87. Get a mani/pedi.
  88. Sleep naked.
  89. Clean your space.
  90. Share more.
  91. Tell someone you love them.
  92. Tell yourself you are worthy of love.
  93. Hang out at a book store.
  94. Help your neighbor with yard work.
  95. Turn off the news.
  96. Read the paper.
  97. Watch a plane land.
  98. Walk away from an online argument.
  99. Quit the job you hate.
  100. Go after your dreams.

101. Bonus – Share this. If each person does one thing from this list, the world will be a better place.

 

Blogging Dumb Shit I Do Music politics Things I Really Like

Thanks President Trump

April 3, 2017
record albums from the 80s

Thanks President Trump. Because of you, I’ve successfully tuned out. Since 9/11 I’ve been plugged into the news. It’s either been on in the background or I’ve checked multiple sites throughout the day to see what’s going on. I read all the news sites, and spent a fair amount of time on opinion pieces. I clicked on the fake news and the click bait and I could get lost in the comments for hours at a time. 

Since Trump won the election, I’ve stopped all that nonsense.

It took me 16 years to figure out that reading, listening, learning, researching and having an opinion, didn’t make a damn bit of difference and it was causing me anxiety I wasn’t even aware I was experiencing. 

Think of that frog in the pot of boiling water.

After the election, and especially after the inauguration, I unplugged. I couldn’t listen to the vitriol, the mean spiritedness and the panic, anymore. People were freaking out. Either I was going to freak out with them or I was going to let go and let the elected people do their job. 

At first I was pissed off. I loved all the time I spent online on Facebook, Buzzfeed, and the news sites, and I was resentful that it had become such a horrible place to be. But unplugging had benefits I wasn’t expecting.

With all that free time I started socializing again. Like in person. I met up with friends – in real life – and did things like get some coffee or meet over drinks and laugh and laugh. I took a pottery class, a wood working class and best of all – I started listening to music again.

I even started listening to vinyl records again. 

I’m in heaven not only listening to great music on vinyl, but also finding it. Locating vinyl records isn’t an easy thing in 2017. You can’t go to Musicland or Sam Goody and pick up the latest album like you could in the 80s or 90s. Today, if you want vinyl, you have to go to a used record store to find your favorite new and classic artists. 

My weekends are spent hunting down albums from my youth – Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, The Cars iconic album – The Cars, Back in Black by AC/DC, and my most beloved of all -Damn the Torpedoes by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I’m still looking for Zenyatta Mondatta by The Police, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, and Van Halen’s Women and Children First, among others. I haven’t had this much fun in a long time.

I’d forgotten how wonderful albums on a turntable sound, and I’m hoping my daughter discovers some of these artists and learns the joy of breaking the seal on an album for the first time and then pouring over the sleeve for the lyrics to each song. I’m hoping she learns to listen to an album cover to cover – they way they were meant to be experienced.

So thank you President Trump for helping me let go of the things I have absolutely no control over and rediscovering music. 

Now can you do something about reviving the record store?

Blogging Dumb Shit I Do Writing

Trying Something New – Blogging

March 28, 2017

I blog professionally. I manage and write for 20 + blogs and websites and I follow pretty strict rules about SEO. I ALWAYS create posts that are at least 300 words. I always use the proper keyword density along with title tags, alt tag, headings, etc. The problem is, it makes for crappy writing sometimes, or at least less interesting writing. 

One of the biggest drawbacks of writing for other people is that my blog takes a backseat. I’ve updated my blog 3 times this month and 4 times in February. It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about – I do, I just don’t make the time to do it. I’m also tired of writing by the end of the day and I don’t believe I should do my own stuff until I’ve gotten my work out of the way.

I’m not sure that’s the best way to do it, however. I enjoy writing for myself, I have complete editorial control and can say anything I want, using any technique I want. And, I don’t have to follow strict SEO guidelines.

And let’s face it, no one really knows what the search engine algorithm is looking for, it’s all just a good guess.

And I’m beginning to believe a lot of it is bullshit.

Especially for a blog such as this one, no particular niche except “lifestyle”, which is awfully broad. 

Anyway, going forward for April I plan on writing something each day. It might be a short story, or it might be a short sentence. I’m not going to concern myself with SEO, I’m just going to write. At the end of April I’ll take a good hard look at my Google Analytics to see if it makes any difference.

Stay tuned.

Blogging Dumb Shit I Do Food Recipes Things I Really Like

Corned Beef and Cabbage – InstantPot vs Crockpot

March 13, 2017
corned beef and cabbage instantpot vs crockpot

This week’s smackdown is Corned Beef and Cabbage – InstantPot vs Crockpot. I love my InstantPot, I also love my Crockpot. Both are essential kitchen tools for any level of cook. My father gave me a Crockpot when I moved into my first apartment. It was a tiny little thing, big enough to make some dip in I suppose, but I made tiny little chilis and soups in it. It had no settings, you just plugged it in and it was going. The lid was plastic and has long been chewed up by one of the many pups over the years. My father got me lots of Crockpots, I’m not really sure why, but I have several, and I love each and every one of them. The one I use most however, is the one that belonged to my father. 

My dad died before InstantPot was a thing, however I am sure he would have taken to it like a fish to water. He loved using the pressure cooker, loved to explain how the stovetop version worked and was practically giddy whenever sharing the story of his mother blowing one up in the kitchen when he was a child. 

I also love Corned Beef and Cabbage. I love the saltiness of the beef, the sort of soggy yet firm texture of the cabbage. Growing up we always had it on St. Patrick’s Day and it was one of my favorite meals, even if it stank up the house.

Mostly, I love how easy the meal is to prepare. The problem with Corned Beef and Cabbage in the Crockpot (and I really don’t know any other method to prepare it) is that it takes a fair amount of forethought. You can’t just throw together a corned beef and cabbage on the fly, you need 5 or 6 hours. 

I figured there must be a faster way, and the InstantPot seemed like a surefire way to achieve a quick corned beef and cabbage. I Googled around for recipes, actually just cooking settings, and only found ones that were actually rather complicated. In all of the InstantPot recipes for corned beef and cabbage that I found it was always a two step process — cook the corned beef first, remove it from the pot, cook the cabbage.

Sure, we’re down from 6 hours to about an hour, I just really wanted something as easy as my Instant Pot Shrimp Alfredo recipe or my Cheesy Smoked Sausage Hotdish recipe. Both of those recipes take less than twenty minutes to prepare and cook, I was hoping for something similar.

And I never found it so I thought I’d just wing it. And then I though why not do a smackdown between the two? So I did. I prepared two meals using the same recipe.

Corned Beef and Cabbage – InstantPot vs Crockpot

1 Corned beef – rinsed and fat side down (I don’t know if this makes a difference)

1 Cabbage – cut into wedges and placed in vessel

1 Spice packet – many people throw these away and make their own, but that seems silly to me. Throw that packet it!

4 Carrots – sliced

I skipped the potatoes, actually, I never put potatoes in my corned beef and cabbage, is that really something people do?

I added all ingredients to each cooker and set their respective settings. For the InstantPot I set it for 55 minutes on high pressure and I used the slow release method. For the Crockpot I set it on high for 6 hours and forgot about it.

*I stopped taking photos of food inside the InstantPot, it doesn’t look appealing and serves no purpose. 

The Results

Corned Beef

Both tasted great, and they tasted the same. Both were tender and juicy. I couldn’t tell any difference between the two except for color. The InstantPot corned beef was darker. That could have just been a variation of the beef, and no reflection on the cooking. I used two different brands of beef and one had noticeably more fat. It did not change the way it tasted.

Cabbage

The cabbage also came out about the same in each vessel. This actually surprised me. I figured with 55 minutes of cooking at high pressure I might just end up with mush. That didn’t happen. The cabbage pretty much kept it’s shape. The cabbage was also a little darker in the InstantPot. 

Carrots

Here’s where there was a noticeable difference. The carrots in the InstantPot were pretty mushy. They didn’t disintegrate but they were working hard to hold their shape. The carrots from the Crockpot were actually still firm, yet tender. They also retained their individual flavor, whereas the carrots in the InstantPot just tasted like the cabbage. 

While I love the ease of making corned beef and cabbage in the InstantPot, it isn’t something I’ll probably do in the future unless I’m pressed for time. There’s something about a crockpot full of corned beef and cabbage, stinking up the house, that really makes it special.

Speaking of stinking up the house – the InstantPot was no less stinky, it just didn’t go on for so long. However, the silicon ring inside the lid of the InstantPot soaked up all those flavors. This is quite common for anything you make in the InstantPot, so it might be handy to have several on hand. 

All in all, either way works great, the InstantPot version is perfect if you have a hankering for corned beef and cabbage while driving home after a long day at work. While the Crockpot is probably better if this is a Saturday or Sunday meal extravaganza.

If you’ve had success with corned beef and cabbage in the InstantPot, I’d love to hear about it, please share in the comments.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Kids Reviews

EZ Stax Review

March 2, 2017
EZ Stax Review

A few weeks ago I saw a video on Facebook for EZ Stax. Immediately used my clout as a blogger to get a sample so I could write this EZ Stax Review. EZ Stax are a set of thin plastic interlocking dividers that work perfectly for clothing, papers, basically anything that is reasonably flat and relatively thin. You could use them for crafting if you do a lot of scrap booking. Do people still do scrap booking? 

Anyway, I got them so I could organize my daughter’s dresser. Watch the video below to see how easy they are to use.

They are easy to use. They are also made out of recycled plastics, which is nice.

They are lightweight, easy to use and sadly, too big for any of the dressers in my home. At least to put in the right way. I had to put them in sideways, which wasted a lot of space in the drawer. This is not the fault of EZ Stax, I just happen to have all antique furniture from the turn of the century, the 1800s not the 1900s. I’m sure if I had something from Ikea it would fit beautifully. 

EZ Stax Review

Still, I was able to organize my daughter’s drawer full of t-shirts. She can remove a t-shirt from the middle of the stack and not disrupt the rest of the t-shirts. Theoretically, she could put one back in the middle of the stack, that just hasn’t happened yet.

Look, two weeks later, the drawer still looks great!

I highly recommend EZ Stax, just measure before you purchase to make sure they’ll fit in your dresser. 

Dumb Shit I Do Pets politics WTF?

The Upside of a Trump Presidency

February 20, 2017
The upside to a Trump presidency

I know everyone is upset about Trump becoming our 45th president. I get it. The upside of a Trump presidency is actually many things believe it or not. Sure, he says a lot of stupid things and he doesn’t appear to know what he’s doing, it’s scary, I really do get it. But think about all that has happened since he was sworn in the past January.

The Upside of a Trump Presidency

We’re getting involved – For the past 8, 12, 16 years we’ve been sort of asleep at the wheel. I can’t remember the last time people were so involved in not just politics but everything. Since the inauguration there’s been a protest practically every other day. 

We’re more informed – I’ve never known so many people to take an interest in politics, current events and anything beyond social media and cat videos. People are actually reading the Constitution, and not just the first two amendments. They’re learning about the 4th, the 9th and the 10th ones as well. People are paying attention and it’s wonderful. 

We’re getting out more – At least, I am. I took a social media break because I couldn’t stand the negativity, and it was one of the best things I’ve done. I’m back on social media, but not as much. I’ve discovered there is a whole other world out there. Since the shit hit the fan I’ve taken a pottery class, I’ve learned how to stain wood, and I’m looking into a mosaics class. 

We’re demanding justice – I’m not always sure what for, but it’s still a great thing. Justice and freedom are two of the cornerstones of what we stand for in America, we’d forgotten than for a while so it’s nice to see this sleeping giant awaken. 

We’re realizing we’re pretty great – Trump’s campaign slogan – Make America Great Again – pissed off a lot of people. The arrogance of it! The thing is, we are great. It just took a buffoon to remind us of it.

I’m a surprisingly optimistic person. I realized this recently when my 14 year old dog started pooping in the house. He’s doing it because he’s old, feeble, stubborn and hates me but mostly because it is too difficult for him to go up and down the stairs to go outside. The upside? There’s less dog poop in the backyard. Sure, the downside is that he’s pooping in the house (and that’s really, really gross and disconcerting) but less poop to clean up in the spring – I’m all for it*.

I’m optimistic, I believe in checks and balances and so far they have been working out. 

*I’m not really comparing a Trump presidency to my dog shitting in the house.