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Lemonade

May 20, 2017

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Right? That’s what we’re told. And yet, turning something bad into something good inevitably pisses someone off. I’ve been working diligently on being more positive and trying really hard to not wallow in the crap. That’s a difficult thing for me to do – not wallow. I let things get to me when they shouldn’t. 

Lately my life has been a series of tsunamis. It’s been wave after wave of crap coming at me and I’m letting it all get to me. Which means I have puffy eyes and there are dust bunnies all over the house. I’ve managed to stay on top of work, but it’s taken a Herculean effort to stay focused. I’ve made all kinds of mistakes in my work because I am so distracted.

I’m not sure how to make lemonade. Each morning I wake up and try to psych myself up for the day.

“I’m not going to let all these assholes get me down!” I tell myself. 

I start pretending I’m Rocky in the first Rocky and I’m jumping rope to Eye of the Tiger.

I’ve got this, even if I am out of breath before the first chorus.

And then something else happens. Today my basement is flooded. It’s no surprise, it rained two inches last night and my basement leaks like a sieve. I was just hoping to have a dry year this year.

My plan for today was to launch a GoFundMe campaign to presell my book so I can finally get it published. I need to have it professionally edited, I need to get a cover designed and I need a kick ass marketing campaign. I have an agency who rocks, just not enough cheddah in the budget. I’ve been putting it off because I don’t want to ask for help. I hate asking for help because it makes me feel weak and vulnerable and then I start telling myself that I am not worthy of help and the next thing you know I’ve gone down that rabbit hole I’ve spent years trying to climb out of. 

That was my plan, and then the same shit that happens over and over happened again. It seems every spring the basement floods and my ex threatens to drag me to court. Inevitably the dog will pee on the couch which will send me over the edge for a few minutes. Of course the dog pees on the couch because he is afraid of the rain, and because I forgot to put his diaper on.

Every year it is the same. 

I can’t seem to get out of this rut no matter how hard I try. It was my plan to launch my GoFundMe campaign 15 days ago. It’s been ready to go, but I’ve been too afraid to launch it. Actually, turns out I did launch it, I just didn’t know it (shut up! I’ve been a little distracted). What I am afraid to do is promote it. 

Thing is, nothing will change if I don’t start taking some risks. This is scary. I can’t even begin to tell you how scary this is. What if no one wants my book? I’m trying to presell it because that seems less like begging, but if no one wants it then what am I going to do? 

I’m not going to worry about that. Just like I’m not going to keep giving those negative thoughts anymore space in my head. 

If you’d like to pre – purchase my book – Minnesota Nice – you can do so here. If you’d like to learn more continue reading….

About Minnesota Nice

I’m wrote a book about my family.

It doesn’t sound all that intriguing does it? Wait, it gets better. You see my mom had a stroke when I was four years old, leaving her severely mentally and physically handicapped.  A few years later my father revealed that he was gay. A few years after that my brother came out as a Republican. You can’t make this stuff up.

Statistics from the Straight Spouse Network assert that up to two million gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals in the United States are or have been heterosexually married. Another demographics study showed that of the 27 million American men currently married, 1.6 percent, or 436,000 men, identifies themselves as gay or bisexual. Countless children have come of age in what is commonly referred to as a “mixed-orientation marriage,” most simply try to move on, too ashamed to admit that their family was any different from the norm. Even as adults they keep their skeleton in the closet, afraid to appear anything but like the wholesome Brady Bunch. Guess what? Mr. Brady was gay.

We were different and I’m no longer ashamed to admit it.

This is not anti LGBT. While I am sure fewer mixed orientation marriages take place in 2017, they still happen. The shame of growing up in one of these families is not due to a gay parent, it is due to the deception and lying that the parent must maintain to keep the secret. 

This is not some dry memoir. It is filled with humorous stories of a family trying to figure out how they all fit together. There are heartbreaking moments as well, but all told with the love and clarity that can only come with years of distance and a few dead family members.

Minnesota Nice has been compared to Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs, The Fault in our Stars by John Green and most recently to 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. 

Dumb Shit I Do Reviews Things that piss me off

RAH’MN Review – The Ramen Place on Snelling

May 2, 2017
RAH'MN Review - The Ramen Place on Snelling

This is my RAH’MN review. This is not a sponsored post, all views are mine. All my Twin City peeps, I know you’ve been seeing these ramen places popping up all over town in the last year. You’re probably wondering is it really worth $7 for 25¢ worth of ramen? I’m here to tell you – probably not.

RAH’MN Review – The Ramen Place on Snelling

RAH’MN opened up in Saint Paul on Snelling Avenue about a month ago. It was packed the first night – crowds in line around the corner – so I figured we’d wait a bit. We’d gone to the Mac’s take out place two doors down, which had also just opened, and were disappointed. I wanted to give the new restaurant some time to get it’s sea legs since they are close and convenient and who doesn’t like ramen?

The daughter asked if we could give it a try, so I said sure. I went to look up the menu online, to get an idea of cost (because it’s ramen, for cryin’ out loud) and was frustrated that I had to place an order to see what was offered and what things cost. RAH’MN does not have a menu on their website, although it looks like they are trying to get one up quickly. That they tout their meats are gluten free had me laughing but irritated. 

The daughter is picky and she has food allergies, it’s always nice to be prepared when trying a new place. So, already I was frustrated. I asked some friends on Facebook about their experience and they said it was “solid”. I took that as a positive and headed on over.

Right away the ordering process was confusing. Or maybe that was just the way the door was positioned. No one seemed to know where the line began. The place was pretty busy and it smelled nice so I continued on. When I got to the counter I had a difficult time talking to the nice young man who was dishing up the ramen. The sneeze guard was too high, or he and I were both too short. I had to stand on my tippy toes to shout my questions at him. He responded with a smile, but I couldn’t hear a damn thing he said over the sneeze guard or the loud music and din of people talking to one another over the loud music. 

It’s a build your own ramen bowl, just like at Chipotle. Chipotle is stressful, it’s not as bad as ordering coffee, but it’s up there. I have been ordering Chipotle for at least a decade now and I always get the same thing for fear of holding up the line to avoid the kind of stress I endured last night.

I had no idea what my daughter wanted, but she likes all things Asian inspired so I started building her ramen.  I threw in some tufo, some bok choi and some tomatoes – all things she likes and figured I was safe. 

I wasn’t sure about the meat so I texted her a picture of the RAH’MN menu and one of all the add-ons, including 4 or 6 choices of broth.

RAH'MN menu

“No vegetables” was what she texted back.

Thanks, that helps, a lot. 

All the while the couple next to me is pushing me to the right, even though the friendly guy behind the sneeze guard hadn’t started on my order yet. In fact, he only had one bowl going. 

This caused a fair amount of anxiety because now the one he just put together for my daughter was going to become mine even though I am not supposed to eat tofu and tomatoes in ramen sounds disgusting to me. I didn’t really want pork either, which is what the kid wanted. 

Lawd knows, as a Minnesotan, there was no way I was going to ask them to start over again. 

I got pushed in front of the cashier and explained to him that there was another bowl that needed to be prepared – plain. Just ramen and broth. 

We stood there, awkwardly waiting for the guy to produce the bowl of $7.95 ramen and then he asked if I was paying for the people next to me. 

Um, no.

He bagged up my ramen bowls, cautioned me not to swing the bag around, and I was on my way.

I took a deep breath when I got outside and told myself I would not cry.

(probably more hormone related than ramen related)

A few minutes later I’m home with a dripping bag of $20 worth of ramen.

When I asked what the daughter though of it, if she liked it, her response was:

“Meh”

She’s 14. Everything is “meh”. She did eat most of it.

Mine on the other hand wasn’t what I wanted, but if it had been something I would have ordered I am sure it would have been ok.

It was ramen, it was way too salty and the noodles were soggy. I was disappointed, mostly because of the experience, but the cost of something that is pennies to make at home also irritated me. That’s not their fault, I walked in there willingly. I guess I figured ramen could be delicious, especially starting at $7.95 per bowl. 

It’s not.

I couldn’t finish it. The dogs like it, though I didn’t give them the broth since it was so salty.

I’d like to say we’ll give them another try, but probably not. The daughter will want to, but she’s going to have to do that on her own.

The place was clean, the staff was friendly, though not as helpful as I would have liked. The place was too loud and the food was overpriced. But other than that, it was great!

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. 

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!

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. 

Blogging Dumb Shit I Do How Did We Survive? People politics Things that piss me off WTF?

What I Learned on My Facebook Vacation

February 2, 2017
What I Learned on My Facebook Vacation

Recently I took a little break from social media, and this is what I learned on my Facebook Vacation. I needed a break from social media, but mostly I needed to get off of Facebook. Facebook is where I do most of my socializing. 

Don’t judge, you probably do too, or maybe you’re fond of Pinterest, or you hang out with the folks on Instagram. Doesn’t matter, they’re all the same. None of us actually get out anymore. And that’s too bad because there’s a whole big world of people doing things and NOT arguing about politics or calling each other Nazis or Libtards.

What I Learned on My Facebook Vacation

In my week of self induced banning from Facebook I learned that people in the real world don’t commence a conversation with friends by demanding they unfriend each other because one of them may or may not approve of the other’s opinion – which is really just one of them trying to show all the other people in her timeline that she is bold, brash, right (though not “right” or “alt-right”) and mostly virtuous.

I learned that people can go out together and have fun. They can shop, walk, talk, share a meal, laugh, sing, dance and never, ever mention politics, or mock Steve Bannon’s or Kellyanne Conway’s looks.

We used to be a melting pot but now – thanks to identity politics – we’re black, white, hispanics, women, men, lesbians, gays, transgender, cis something or other, religious freaks, atheists, republicans, democrats (republicants, libtards, republikkkans, fascists, Nazis), white males, white women of privilege (which is apparently not only a joke, but also a huge redundancy). We are every group there is out there, we are different. OMG we are nothing but our differences. 

Except we’re not. We used to be Americans. Those who were immigrating here – they were known as people who wanted to become Americans. 

And in the real world, we’re just people trying to get through this crazy ass amusement park ride together. We’re human. We make mistakes, we dust ourselves off, get back up and try all over again. 

I love Facebook, I’ve met some great people there, but I prefer the real world — where we have to look each other in the eye while we discuss the issues of the day, where the nuances of conversations are not surrendered to emojis and 140 characters. Where we actually care about each other. 

And especially where we aren’t just trying to tear each other down so we can build ourselves up for the approval, or “likes”, from those who have more followers than us.

But mostly what I learned on my Facebook vacation is that we aren’t all assholes (in real life). Some of us, most of us, are actually decent people. Even the ones with whom we disagree (go fucking figure!). 

 

Dumb Shit I Do Food Recipes Things I Really Like

The Best Instant Pot Chili Recipe

January 29, 2017
The Best Instant Pot Chili Recipe

If you’re looking for the best Instant Pot Chili recipe, then you’ve come to the right place. Disclaimer – this is not an authentic chili, this a chili recipe that your kids, and picky mother, will eat. If you throw it on top of some spaghetti noodles you’d have a pretty decent Cincinnati chili, but that’s weird so…  

I make a killer authentic chili too, but that takes a bit more planning and specific ingredients like a nice cut of beef instead of ground beef. This chili, the best Instant Pot Chili, is something you can make with whatever is in your pantry. It is an incredibly forgiving recipe. I used ground beef but you could use ground turkey, ground chicken, diced chicken or skip the meat completely and make it vegetarian. Whatever floats your boat!

I’m listing amounts of ingredients for posterity, use however much you prefer. I love celery and I throw a ton of it in this recipe (it gives the daughter something to do since she has to pick it all out), I also like a lot of garlic and cumin. I eyeball things, rarely measure, and I suspect most of you do the same. 

If you don’t have an Instant Pot yet you can get one here. Seriously, what are you waiting for, get your shit together and get one of these incredible time saving devices! I have the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker, 6Qt/1000W which is about $105, but they make a less expensive version too. The standard Instant Pot IP-LUX60 V3 Programmable Electric Pressure Cooker, 6Qt, 1000W (updated model) is only $79. The only difference between the two is the one I have makes yogurt. The other difference is that the $79 version is back ordered for 2-3 months while the 7 in 1 version is in stock. Wow.

The Best Instant Pot Chili Recipe

What you will need:

1 lb ground beef

3 cups chopped celery

2/3rd cups diced onion (I prefer white onion, but I only had yellow on hand)

4 cans beans (or more or less. I used mild chili beans, kidney beans and pinto beans because that’s what was in the pantry)

2 cans tomato sauce

1 can diced tomato

1 can sweet corn (drained)

Cumin, salt and pepper, chili powder to taste 

5 Hershey’s Kisses (or a small handful of chocolate chips or whatever you have on hand)

Brown the onions and ground beef in the Instant Pot on sauté. Drain fat and return to Instant Pot. Or just use the glass lid for the Instant Pot
to cover and drain. 

Dump all your ingredients into the Instant Pot, give it a stir and set the pressure cooker to Chili, or set it manually for 30 minutes at high pressure. 

Make sure the pressure valve is closed. I really can’t stress how important it is that this is closed. If you leave it open the Instant Pot will not pressurize and you will have just wasted a good 30 minutes, and will need to start over. Don’t ask how I know this.