Wanna Solve a Problem? Eat CAKE

Wasn't a very happy post this morning, huh? Well I've moved on...to cake. Was watching Bobby Flay's Throwdown show earlier and he decided to take on the "Cakeman" from Cakeville Cakes in NY on the subject of red velvet cake. For a long time I thought red velvet cake was basically white cake with a lot of food coloring in it. Not so! It's also not chocolate cake with a lot of food coloring, though there is cocoa powder in it. I found a recipe on Food Network closest to what the Cakeman did (who rocked it by the way) and am linking it for you here. HOLD THE PHONE!! A little further diligence on my part and I found THE recipe by Cakeman. See it here. Haha!

This weekend has been heavenly - aside from the financial stress-freak-out of this morning (the juggling was successful, by the way). I've been sleeping, got some one-on-one time with my hubby (whilst NOT working my butt off in the sun), Mom is out of town so no 6am wake up calls for me (Thank you Lord), and I've got brownies to take to work on Sunday so the boys will be happy. Oh, and I started jotting down ideas for that project that had such a bad start the other day. I'm feeling much more optimistic about it now. :)

So my new mantra comes from a Nickelback song: "we barely get by, but have the best times and hope it never ends". Now if I could just find that damn fine tequila at a reasonable price...

Also I've noticed (or had pointed out to me) that my due diligence has been a bit lacking as far as our adventures lately. For example, I breezed over our stay at Rumors, though it was awesome - some of it probably shouldn't be trumpeted to the world, if you catch my drift - but we had a great time and it's a great resort for you non-kiddy people (21 and over only), especially after the sun goes down. I had a total of 3 complaints during our entire stay: 1. not a single towel rack, so my wet bathing suit spent the night dripping into the sink  2. pricey food, the tapas (think appetizers) were $12 a plate and that's not enough to feed one person  3. check out is way too damn early (11am) if you've taken advantage of the 24-hr pool and stayed up way too late.  On the positive: the staff is hella cool (we're friends with 2 of them plus we know the chef), there are hammocks that make a few cocktails feel really good, the pool is perfect temp at about 7pm and the spa is gi-normous, tops are optional and we appreciate anyone who would like to let the twins out for a bit, and probably the most important: it doesn't feel like the Las Vegas Strip. Oh, and there are these triple chocolate gourmet M&M's at the front desk that are divine for that after-dinner choco craving (any nobody said anything when I went up there with a napkin and took two handfuls to share with friends). The official grand opening isn't until September so it's a little lean right now. Anyone who's in the neighborhood and wants a great place to party all night - check it out.

Second thing I've neglected: we went to see Vinnie Favorito at the Flamingo the other night. It's a comedy show based entirely on the audience, so it's always evolving. If you're a bit sensitive about race, age, sex, usual stereotypes and so forth, you might want to skip it, but we had a great time. The guy makes fun of everyone including himself. My sides hurt when I left. Also check him out if you're in town; it's a great show.

Now it's off to a long night of waiting for wanna-be celeb's to show up for their own media events. Luvs

The Sorry State of Things

I've just woken up, and not for the first time, to a check that's not enough to cover my bills. Honey will be proud of me that I'm not freaking out; I'm just resigned to more juggling. It's sad that I bust my ass every day for a company that doesn't give a damn about me, one that demands performance and results but can't afford me the basic cost of living. I don't think it's right to tell employees the recession is over and berate them about sales numbers, and yet keep a wage freeze in effect for another year or more. I've said it before: there's got to be a better way.
Short of giving up my car (and the transient freedom I've become accustomed to), there isn't more fat to be trimmed. We don't have any luxuries. Cable? We don't pay for it. Internet? Necessary for Honey's photography business, as are the phones. Storage is the only expense I can see that could be eliminated, and that's a big 'could'. It's full to the roof and the door, not entirely with our stuff.
Another thought would be to pick up a roommate...  Not sure Mom would go for that and we'd have to pretend we didn't - pretty sure it says in our lease we can't sublet. BUT it would lower everybody's rent a bit, I'd prolly have to share my bathroom, and there would be no more naked time. On the up side, I'd have a little more wiggle room at the end of the month. I'm all for banding together so we can all make it through, and this is a 4 bedroom house. Honey's still sleeping, I'll have to run it by him when he gets up.
*sigh* It's sad really that this is what it's come down to. Remember when a man could own a house and put his kids through college working at a gas station? We've digressed quite a bit since then.
Well I better go get my juggling hat on... I know I'm not the only one in these shoes, but standing here anonymous and alone right now...sucks.

Writer's Block and Tequila

I tried in vain just now to write something else. I got about a partial sentence and then petered out. I took advantage of a little ‘alone time’ while Honey went to play darts with the neighbors (he even drove himself, for 2 minutes, but still) to tame my bathroom and do a little *throat clear* grooming. I tried to start another project after that, one that involved peace and quiet, focusing of the mind and a concerted effort to make my fingers move on the keyboard…and then Honey came home, long before the usual 3am drag-in time. I got one tentative sentence typed, a partial one at that, before the spell was broken. *sigh* Try again another day…

I realized while scanning my live feed tracker that my last post was right before our stay at the new Rumors Boutique Resort across from the Hard Rock. There were 20 rooms comp’ed, a 24-hr pool, alcohol flowing like a river, and eventually naked bodies, though I crashed out before that. I discovered I like really good tequila and it likes me back – Honey calls me a tequila snob now. If you’ve never tried Milagro Resposado Reserve… Patron Silver goes down rough in comparison. Yeah, it’s like that.

I realize I’m not making a whole lot of sense just now. Yawning like a grizzly. Luvs.

Caffeine, Sugar, Repeat

Again with the late and burning eyes. Two hits of Starbucks today. Just applied for a job with a company I've wanted to work for since I got out of school - the position isn't the one I want, but I'll take a foot in the door where I can get it. Hopefully I'll get a call back on that one...now that I'm thinking about it though I'm pretty sure my phone number wasn't included. *sigh* Fingers crossed anyway.

I've been reading this blog about the minimalist lifestyle. I want to go for it. I have a dream in my head I want to go for too - I dream about it every night in fact. It's time to make time for what matters most in life, which for me isn't all this clutter and material crap. I don't think I'll have a hard time shedding it; I think I'll have a hard time explaining to others why I dumped bottles of perfectly good perfume or donated an entire closet worth of clothes. (Because I bloody felt like it!).

Gotta get through this week. It's something like the week from hell. Nothing like 'no choice' to get the blood and the backside moving, eh? Morning will come sooner than I'll appreciate, so I'm off to it. Luvs

Typical Friday in my Life

It's after midnight. My eyes are burning. Why am I still up, you're asking? Starbucks, grande caramel macchiato. It's been a very busy day. A friend summarized it as we go from one job to another job to another job... I paid bills today, ordered a roasted pig, went to the chiropractor, laid stone for 6 hours (+/-), and then went to a carpet that got a slow start and lasted 3 hours. Oh yeah, and laundry. That's multi-tasking only a woman could do. Don't be fooled people - I am the brains behind this operation.

I still haven't got any toothpaste. Getting some was part of the today's game plan but it wasn't to be; the fates conspired against me. Resorting to scissors in the morning.

Since I'm up, might as well get some nookie before I crash out. :)

Domestic Midnight

It's late. I feel gritty and desperately need a shower, but it's not gonna happen tonight. I've been using Honey's deoderant for two days - my underarms revolted against something, became all splotchy red and sore, and broke out into what I think is a heat rash. Charming, I know. So now I smell like a man during the day and stink at night - not a marked improvement over the deoderant rock, which I love, but my theory is the bad aluminum is also lubricating to a certain extent and therefore keeps the chaffing down in extreme heat. Had planned on trying baking soda and corn starch - the gnomes stole my cornstarch - and plain  baking soda made the already aggrevated skin burn till I washed it off. I've had an incident of burning arm pits before (back in Portland when I used Tom's Natural deoderant and had an allergic reaction) and like I said then: burning arm pits are funny but only when it's happening to someone else.

My home life is being neglected. I got beautiful roses for my birthday, but I'm never here to enjoy them. I'm planning on taking a few pics before they die, if they haven't already. Also, I'm out of toothpaste and hair oil all a sudden. My excellent intentions of clearing the closet clutter...haven't materialized yet either. The good intentions are there and waiting, I'm just never here. Hopefully pretty soon that will change.

I'm going to bed. Hopefully there aren't too many typos in this post. I don't normally write directly in the box provided cuz it doesn't check the spelling for you. What little I have to say should be well versed and spelled right at a minimum. 12:00am. Nighty night.

All about STUFF

Had one of those mornings where the first thought was “Fuck you, alarm clock.” I don’t know if the solution is more sleep or less – seems I do less a lot more often than I do more – and I’m tired all the time.

Spent a good portion of yesterday jousting with a scammer’s automated email replies about a job posting on craigslist. I get two emails from different folks at the same company; one wants me to upload my resume to “the most popular online networking site”, the other wants me to take an IQ test – the first question was ‘how many months have 28 days’ – and which charges money to your cell phone bill. So I started sending replies asking for clarification and eventually flat refusing to follow instructions (I’m not going to an interview with my credit report in hand for their consideration, company credit cards or not). It started to get comical. I’d always get a response from ‘the HR Manager” who had no name or contact info, always from a different .com address. The phone number listed lead to an automated message telling me to follow the email instructions. I emailed them I wasn’t a vegetable and said things that would have definitely offended a live person. Instead of being told to step off, I’d get an email that basically moved me to the ‘next step’ in the hiring process. I posted a reply post on craigslist warning of the BS. Pointless and frustrating, I know. The next part of my plan is to spam the shit out of those addresses with free porn.

My poor underarms are not reacting well to the insane heat we’re having, or the conjunction of my deodorant rock and the insane heat we’re having. My skin doesn’t want to touch itself, I look kinda splotchy, and they hurt…? Who knows. I’m going to try a baking soda/cornstarch deodorant replacement experiment and see how it goes; some hippie girls online swear by it. Found a site saying you can wash your hair with baking soda too, or if you’re really hard core, you might consider the ‘no poo, just water’ approach. Not sure I can do that second one, but exfoliating with baking soda is awesome and dirt cheap. And if the hair thing works…I can probably get a 50lb bag of soda from Sam’s Club for $10-15 bucks. When my shampoo runs out, I’ll give it a go. Embrace the hippie chick!!

Ran across an article in Yahoo Finance where a woman pared down her abundance of stuff (big apartment, two cars, etc) to a 400 sq ft studio and 100 personal items. Total. That includes clothes, shampoo bottles, pots and pans, plates, furniture, and it would have included the car, if she’d kept it. She says it’s awesome. I believe her. I also believe I could do it. Honey, on the other hand, would lose a large portion of his allotted ‘100’ to camera equipment. I told him we better work out something close to it, cuz when we downsize to our little house, there won’t be much room for more than that. Once the house is done, I won’t need all the camping equipment, the bed frame will go, the desks will go (in favor of wall mounted, collapsible versions), and in theory, all the tools will go too. Honey may say otherwise about that last one. J I’m really not interested in having a storage unit for the rest of my days though. Let’s just say I have an aversion to stuff. I am anti-stuff, and if you’re stuff comes near me it may find itself in the donation bin while you’re not looking. So in the spirit of that, and when I have a weekend not otherwise booked to the hilt, I’m tackling my closet full of clothes I never wear. I’ve lived for 20 years holding on to things that “I’ll someday fit into again”. Yeah, that’s not happening and it’s bloody depressing. I live entirely in two loads of laundry that generally live either in or on the dryer anyway. And you can’t fit a T-shirt into my closet unless you wad it up and throw it on the bottom. It’s time. Besides, then I can go thrift-storing for stuff that actually fits me.

And I need some sort of change. There’s a certain amount of buckle down and suffer with the whole recession – I’m coping fine with that – but it feels again like I’m chaffing and stuck. So I’m gonna change me. It’s free. It’ll definitely make life interesting and that big distance between where I am and where I want to be will get one step shorter. So, watermelon and charity donations, maybe even a yard sale, opening those boxes that have been sitting there for 4 months…you get the picture.

Look out stuff, here I come!!

Masks Everywhere

For whatever reason, today is the day I noticed how disillusioned I am about people. People in general I suppose, but also some people I actually know, or at least thought I did. Ever wake up one day and realize your oldest “friend” isn’t someone you’d associate with today if you met on the street? I get people change, some take it too far and others not enough, but mostly I want to know real people. Maybe I’ve gotten spoiled or more stubborn living with my hubby, who tends to be himself regardless of the consequences, but I respect knowing exactly what I’m dealing with. Even if I’m trying to get in your pants I don’t have the ambition for head games or the desire to play any. In those instances I think more like a man, which means zero in on getting the tail into the sack. The point being: be you and let that be enough.

I’m doing my damnedest to ground and center myself, to be a better person for me which will in turn make me a better person to be around; hence I want to surround myself with people like that. Unfortunately there are damned few. That leaves me wandering in a sea of self-absorbed fake people who don’t even see me unless I impact their lives somehow. Sad, really.

Happy Birthday Monkey

First and foremost: Happy Birthday to ME!

I'm trying not to get stuck on the fact that I'm getting older, cuz we're all headed the same way and an OMG-I'm-almost-30 crisis is unneccesary. Unfortuantely, circumstances don't permit much celebration. Mom took me out to breakfast at my favorite pancake house, but soon it'll be time for work. As soon as Honey gets back from the hardware store, it'll be more brick laying in the backyard of the project house. The boys are out front valiantly trying to remove a stubborn tree stump. There's a deadline you see, a non-negotiable, fast approaching one, and regardless of the suffocating heat, how tired or sore we are, it's gotta get done. Period.

I found this work-from-home thing online today. Can't tell if it's a scam or not, many of them are. All I know is neither of us is up for too much more HARD manual labor - we played too hard as kids and are now semi-broken down adults. The body can only take so much, and my own aching back leaves me wondering - isn't there a better way? You know, smarter not harder?

My whole dream in life is to travel, needing less materially and having more spiritually. I want my little house; I want my dog that I can't own in any rental property in Vegas because it's "vicious"; I want wind chimes and the open road. No debt, no time clock, no giant crushing bills I need to juggle every month... I want it simple, good, and ultimately peacful. Don't think I'm asking for too much and don't care if you disagree. :)
There should be backpacking to exotic places, 3 month getaways to places like Bali, Italy, Austria, eating amazing food everywhere. There's not time in there for a 9-5. Part of me really wants a legit work-from-home gig - it's really the perfect fit for the life I want. The trick is finding one that's real and actually pays and doesn't require 18 hours of my day (that kinda defeats the purpose for me). The other option, which I haven't a clue how to pull off, is to put a large enough chunk of money into a high yield account and then live off the interest. Seeing as I don't have a large chunk of anything (not even cheese!), this may be difficult.

For now we do what we must - even when it's sweating my tail off in 107 degree heat on my birthday - in efforts to eventually realize the dream. Every small step brings us closer...

*Totally off subject, but I noticed how much nicer my posts are when there's pictures...but I'm not at home so you'll have to wait until next time. :)

Meet the Craftons - a true inspiration

I had one of those rare conversations with my boss today that rounded out the wild wandering thoughts I’ve had lately. He’s got tons of well-off family in Hawaii that’ll provide him with a place to stay and help him get work. He can surf everyday and go fishing, laze about on the beach, and enjoy that classic Hawaiian slowness. I asked what the hell he was still doing here. If it were me, I’d be on the next flight with only a duffle bag.

I’ve had several things re-spark my wander lust lately…our trip to Utah, hearing about a that 28-day trip in the previous post, looking almost daily at the tiny house we plan to build and run away in, and now this story on a family of 5 sailing the world for 7 years. I’ve found their story again to share with all of you. Read it here. It’s beyond inspiring. And my boss has a valid question when he asks: “there are people all over the world doing it [running off and fulfilling their dreams], so why can’t I? But how do I do it?”

I’ll be adding some links soon for indie travel and an excellent reference for anyone serious enough to go backpacking. There are all sorts of sites for work-live farms and couch surfing, ways to live cheap and have a great time. If I were prepared right now, I'd be gone tomorrow.

The bottom line is: what’s stopping you? Decide what your dreams are, get your shit together (making every step one in the direction of that dream), and go. You only live once. :)

The 14th Amendment

If you’ve been reading the news at all lately you’ll have noticed the 14th Amendment is up for debate. It’s the one that says if you’re born here then you’re automatically a citizen. And it’s producing outcry from all sides for different reasons: it’s no small matter to alter the Constitution, which has stood as the pillars of our society for 234 years. Most of it is political, some of it is Americans who think immigrants are taking their jobs (except none of us wants to wash dishes for 25 years, etc), and others think the public assistance programs are being bled dry by immigrants who don’t even pay taxes (none of us have 8 kids and work for minimum wage…). The article I read estimated over 10 million illegals here; we all know that “securing our borders” and all the woo-ha in Arizona lately is part of it too. The example given for even considering changing the Constitution was ‘a woman from Brazil coming here, having a baby, and flying home’. That was political fencing – we all know the largest numbers of immigrants aren’t from Brazil. Politicians were considering the very large number of Hispanic voters and their future careers. I’m sure it’s some, if not all of that, and way more complicated than any of it. Since everyone has an opinion on it, I might as well throw my two cents in. I have a slightly different perspective than most, seeing as I married a Mexican immigrant (he’s legal by the way) and I run into more illegals than other people I know.

Those guys from Cuba who made a pontoon boat out of an old pickup truck and 50-gal barrels – freaking amazing. That’s the kind of ingenuity and drive we need in this country. They want to be here.

I know two guys from El Salvador, David and William, who spent 28 days walking and hobo-ing on trains to get here. They lived entirely on canned corn the entire trip and used cardboard to keep warm. That’s in the neighborhood of 2236 miles.

Have you ever wanted something so badly? Would you walk 2236 miles for it?

I don’t think anyone aspires to be an illegal immigrant with the threat of deportation hanging over them. And remember, all our ancestors – unless yours happen to be full-blooded Native American – were immigrants who came here looking for a better life. That’s all everyone is doing. Unfortunately the systems in place are bursting at the seams. America has billed itself as the most prosperous nation in the world – has anyone read the plaque on the Statue of Liberty lately? ("Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free..."). We have no right to be surprised everyone wants to come here.

I’m not defending illegally crossing into the US; I understand and believe we are having a population explosion that as a nation we can’t afford. I’ve gotten plenty of email blasts about all the benefits of coming here vs say crossing to China (where you’ll be shot by the way), how we’re all paying for millions who aren’t contributing to the good of us all (taxes), so on and so forth. But does anyone have a solution? We’ve all got plenty to complain about, self righteous folks on both sides, but no one has a realistic solution. Do we close the borders altogether? Easier said than done, but possible. Do we start making citizens out of permanent residents who’ve been here 10 or 20 years? They already pay taxes just like citizens, so might as well. Do we start asking everyone who looks remotely foreign about their immigration status? They’ll be mass uproar everywhere, not just Arizona. But really, what do we do?

The argument I hear the most is that the government provides all these services: healthcare, education, food stamps, housing, and so on to illegal immigrants. The catch is that the children of those illegals are citizens with every right to those services because they were born here. Hence the attempt to change the 14th Amendment.
All I know is the illegal immigrants I’ve met are some of the most humble, hardest working, and openly friendly people, who will share what little they have with a smile. They’re doing anything in their power to work, raise themselves or their families, and stay here. Those are the people who could better our country if the circumstances were right.