Sunday, July 14, 2013

I Need to Talk About Ice Cream

I consider myself more of a savory than sweet person and I don't often eat dessert, but lately I've been on a ridiculous ice cream kick.  A kick that will soon end, no doubt, as I'm pushing maximum density and my "fat pants" have become tight on me.  But for now I'm enjoying the hedonistic ride along Triglyceride Highway.

This all started about a month ago when I saw some ice cream recipes in a magazine that looked utterly divine. The recipes all required an ice cream maker, and alas, I didn't have one, so I decided to ask Mr. B for an ice cream maker for our anniversary.  We've been churning fools ever since.  We've made everything from vanilla to mango to strawberry cheesecake, and each one turns out better than the last.  But last night I hit the jackpot.  

Last night I made Salted Caramel Ice Cream.  It was my first time making a custard-based ice cream and I knew that making caramel can be tricky, but I just had to try it.  Before I got started, I read through all of the recipe comments and decided that instead of using 3 whole eggs, I'd use 5 egg yolks, and instead of using 1/2 tsp. of Maldon sea salt, I'd use 1 tsp. of regular sea salt.  Glad I did.  It is perfection.  


If you're a fan of salted caramel, you will love this.  It has true salted caramel flavor, and the texture is super smooth and creamy.  Heaven in a scoop.  I had some for lunch in a sugar cone.  Is that wrong?

Friday, March 29, 2013

5 Pretty Lame Things That I Enjoy

1.  Putting Peeps in the microwave. There's something exhilarating about playing a game of chicken against a household appliance.  It's so damn hard not to fly too close to the sun.

Well played, sir.

2.  Driving through dimly lit tunnels.  I feel inexplicably cool - sort of like that girl from the 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse commercial.  Note to self:  MUST BUY KANGOL HAT.



3.    The way a lime wedge classes up a drink.  I don't care of you're drinking Mad Dog 20/20.  Throw a lime wedge in there and you're on your way to high society.



4.  Poking Mr. B in the "chimple" (chin dimple).  It's fun and addictive.  He finds it irritating.  He's so selfish.


5.  Chewing Skittles until they turn into pure sugar.  Try it some time, it's like a science experiment!  I should mention that I rarely eat candy (with the exception of chocolate, which is good for you), but when I do, I eat Skittles.  Stay sugary, my friends.  Ok, that was pretty weak.  I'll just stop here.



Monday, March 25, 2013

Madness

About 2 weeks after our beloved Cooper passed away last October, we decided to bring home a new puppy.  Although our hearts were broken and I doubt any of us were emotionally ready for a new dog, Roxy really made the decision for us.  Boxers have a perpetually concerned look on their face as it is, but a depressed boxer is more than I can handle.  Between the sad-sack expression, lethargy, incessant searching/whining for Cooper, and laying down next to his grave in our back yard every time we let her outside (I'm totally serious), we knew we needed to get her a new buddy, STAT.

Enter Maddy (a.k.a. "Madness").  One Sunday morning I decided to check out an adoption day held by a local rescue at a vet's office.  I had no intention of coming home with a puppy that day (does anyone?), but I was interested in adopting through this rescue and wanted to check them out. When we walked in, we were greeted by the overwhelming stench of animal waste and the howls and yelps of about 30 terrified dogs in crates.  There were visitors and staffers milling around, and children holding puppies who were peeing everywhere (the puppies, not the children...I think).  It was a chaotic scene and I immediately wanted to leave.  But suddenly in the middle of all the chaos, I saw a lonely-looking, apricot colored puppy sitting quietly in a crate, just sort of taking it all in.  I was immediately drawn to her and hastily made my way through the puppy pee, running children and frazzled staffers so I could get a better look at her.  There she sat, skinny, shaking, and looking up at me with her huge, soulful brown eyes.  I was done.  I quickly found a volunteer and told her I wanted to take the puppy outside, so we leashed her up and brought her out to the grass. Once she was outside, she immediately perked up and began to play and romp and act like a normal puppy.  That was all I needed to see.  We signed the paperwork, paid the adoption fee and got her the hell out of there.

Maddy - Day 1 (look at that face!)
                                    
The story I was given by the rescue was that Maddy and two littermates were found abandoned in a field in North Carolina and sent to a high-kill shelter.  The rescue came and scooped them up right before they were to be euthanized and brought them up north to be adopted.  The name they had given her was Olivia, but she looked like a Maddy to me, so that's what we named her.  When she came into our lives, she was seriously underweight, had a terrible case of kennel cough and was riddled with parasites, but now she's an 8 month-old, happy, healthy, 50 lb. spitfire.

Someone once told me that having a puppy is like having a toddler running around with no diaper and a pair of sharp scissors at all times.  I wholeheartedly agree with this analogy and in most cases this is true, but in Maddy's case, make that 2 toddlers.  In addition to the normal puppy antics, she's a bit....how shall we say.....eccentric.  A few highlights:


This rope toy for "powerful chewers" is less than 24 hours old.


Excessive drooling over household cat sightings, car rides or walks




This is how I relax on the couch.  

In a nutshell, Maddy is a handful.  She's got boundless energy and is afraid, to the point of paralysis, of anything new. She's my first rescue and I've realized that she needs special attention and training, but I'm thrilled with the progress she makes every day.  She's becoming a rock star in her obedience class and she really, really tries.  But do you know what the best part is?  The whole reason why we got her was because Roxy needed a new BFF.  Mission accomplished.

Like Peanut Butter & Jelly


p.s.  As I finished up this post, Maddy trotted into the living room with my brand new bra, shredded.  She is a furry velociraptor.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Heartstrings

Heartstrings  - the deepest emotions or affections (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Our sweet little dog Cooper passed away suddenly on Wednesday night.  He was my first dog.  Before Cooper came along, I never quite understood the degree of affection that people have for their dogs or the grief that follows their loss.  I understand it now.

Cooper was our family Christmas gift in 2006.  The boys had been bugging me for a couple of years to get a dog and I always said, "No, they're too much work", but they finally wore me down.  So, I agreed to get a dog with the stipulation that I would choose the breed.  I sure as heck wasn't about to let them bring home some hyperactive, Cujo-esque devil dog, so I did my research on dog breeds.  I read that Cavalier King Charles Spaniels were calm, affectionate, small in stature and easy to train, and I decided that a Cavalier would be a good breed for our family and a good first dog for me.  It also didn't hurt that Cavaliers are ridiculously cute.

I found a breeder in Gettysburg, PA who had one pup left and we made the trek out there a couple of days after Christmas.  I'll never forget the first time I saw him.  We were sitting in the breeder's living room and Cooper came trotting out like he owned the place.  We all got down on the floor to play with him and he showered us with wet kisses, his little whip-tail wagging a hundred miles a minute.  He was pure joy and there was no question that he was ours.  A half-hour later, we were on our way home with the newest member of our family.



The remaining (almost) 6 years with Cooper were a blessing.  He was funny, affectionate, gentle, intuitive, undemanding and just so easy.  I think we all learned lessons from him about patience, unconditional love and selflessness.  Those, I believe, were his biggest attributes.  He didn't mind playing second banana when our boxer, Roxy, burst onto the scene two years ago; or if he did, he never showed it.  He didn't get aggressive when she would steal his treats or body-check him out of the way when we were petting him, and when he'd had enough of her using him as a chew toy, he'd go sit under one of our cars in the driveway and wait until she found something else to do.  He never held a grudge, either.  Even if Roxy was being particularly bratty towards him, he would always snuggle up with her on the couch.  Cooper would lay on his "perch" on the back of the couch looking out the window, and Roxy would sit on the couch and rest her head next to him (or on him, as was often the case).

One thing that struck me after Cooper passed was the realization that he never cried.  He never cried, never whined and never complained.  Cooper was plagued by back problems throughout his life, but you'd never know if he was in pain because his tail was always wagging.  It was only when he would have trouble climbing up the stairs or collapse in the yard that we would know his back was acting up again.  But he always bounced back.  Even on the day Cooper died, he didn't complain.  I can't even begin to think about how uncomfortable he must have been.

About a week before Cooper's passing, I took him to the vet for his yearly check-up.  I was happy to tell the vet about how good he seemed to be feeling lately.  His back didn't seem to bother him and he was almost as energetic as he was when he was a puppy.  Then the vet listened to his heart and told me that his grade 1 heart murmur had escalated to a grade 4.  She assured me that this was not an emergency situation and it was nothing to be overly concerned about, but that we should start thinking about finding a cardiologist for him.  I made an appointment for him to get his teeth cleaned in a couple of weeks and she said that while he's there for the cleaning, she would do a radiograph of his heart to make sure that it wasn't enlarged.  So that was that and we went home.

Cooper seemed fine until the day he died.  He was coughing when he woke up that morning, which was unusual, but it was something the vet told me to look out for as one of the first signs of congestive heart failure.  He seemed ok after that, although he didn't have much of an appetite.  That night, his breathing became rapid and we decided that we would take him to the vet first thing in the morning.  He went outside and did all his normal stuff and went to bed at around 10 p.m.  A couple of hours later, I found him.  He was in his bed and in his usual sleeping position, but he was gone.

When I spoke to the vet the next morning, she told me that Cooper must have died from a ruptured Cordae Tendineae, which is a rare complication of mitral valve disease in dogs.  She explained that the Cordae Tendineae are thin, cord-like tendons that connect the papillary muscles to the mitral valve in the heart.  If  one breaks, the valve cannot open or close properly, thus causing immediate heart failure.  She said there was nothing that we, or anyone, could have done to save him.

In the past few days since Cooper's passing, I have researched the "cordae tendineae" ad nauseam, in part to learn as much as I can about the thing that took Cooper's life, but perhaps more so to assure myself that there wasn't anything I could have done to prevent it.   But the most remarkable and oddly comforting thing I've learned is that the cordae tendineae are also colloquially referred to as the heartstrings.  How fitting for a dog like Cooper.  A dog who was so full of love and won the affections of everyone he met.  Even people who don't like dogs couldn't help but be charmed by him.  Cooper pulled at our heartstrings.  That's how he lived and that's how he died.

Although we miss Cooper terribly, I'm so grateful for the short time we had with him and for the lessons that he taught us.  I'd like to think that he's frolicking in doggie heaven right now and that he'll be there to greet us, leaping around with his tail wagging, when our time comes - just like he did every other time we came home.

Rest in peace, sweet boy.




Monday, September 17, 2012

How Does One Accessorize Mangled Eyelids?

Did you ever have one of those days when everything seemed to go a little too swimmingly?  So swimmingly, in fact, that you should have known catastrophe was imminent?  Yesterday was that day. Yesterday was the day that karma came collecting (or if you are a Kardashian, it was the day that karma kame kollecting).  Here's how it went down:


This coming weekend is my beloved cousin Joe's wedding.  This is a huge deal for my family and I want to look my best, so yesterday morning I set out to find a new dress and new shoes for the big day.  For many, dress shopping may not be a huge undertaking.  Heck, for some it may even be "enjoyable".  But for me it's nearly impossible to find a dress (among other garments) due to my measurements: WNBA Forward / Dolly Parton / Saddle Bags.  I'm not quite plus-sized, but I'm not average-sized either, so I guess I represent what you might call the "gray area" of the fashion industry.  Shoe shopping is equally tricky.  My shoe size? Sasquatch with a bunion.  But before I left the house yesterday, I made a solemn oath to myself not to return until I had the dress and shoes in my possession.

My first stop was TJ Maxx because I once found a dress there for a wedding and I was hopeful that I'd get lucky again.  To my utter glee, I walked over to the dress rack and within 2 minutes I'd  found four dresses to try on.  I tried on the first dress - which was my favorite - and it fit like it was made just for me.  It was perfect. I really didn't need to try on the other dresses, but I was riding a euphoric wave and didn't want it to stop.  Every single one of them fit!  This was unprecedented, and I can neither confirm nor deny that I spiked a clothes hanger and did a touchdown dance in the dressing room.  I quickly realized, however, that I needed to focus and check every nook and cranny of The Perfect Dress, because clearly something HAD to be wrong with it.  It couldn't be this easy...but it was.  Nothing was wrong with it.  No rips, no stains, no deodorant marks...nothing.  Perplexed, I went up to the counter, paid for the dress and headed out to find shoes.

Next stop, DSW.   More often than not, I've scanned the rows upon rows of shoes there and come up empty handed, BUT NOT THIS TIME.  I wasn't there for 5 minutes before I found The Perfect Shoes. Cute, comfortable, and they didn't make my feet look big.  Oh, and they were only 40 bucks.  I mean, are you kidding me???

I returned home with The Perfect Outfit and tried everything on again just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating. To my surprise, it didn't burst into flames or disintegrate.  Next, I went downstairs to show Mr. B because I figured that he would either hate it or he would say, "Hey, did you notice that massive stain/tear/graffiti on the back of your dress?"  I can always tell when Mr. B doesn't like an outfit I'm wearing, because when I ask his opinion he'll give me the deer-in-the-headlights look and then try to make his way to the nearest exit.  But this time he just smiled and said, "Wow, I love it." 

I carefully hung up my new dress and placed the shoes on the highest shelf of my closet on the off-chance that my dog gets wind of the fact that there are new shoes in the house.  Next I decided that I needed a pedi and eyebrow wax, so I got to work (I'm a DIY kind of girl).  The pedi turned out perfectly, just like everything else had that day, so I moved on to the eyebrow wax AND THAT'S WHEN EVERYTHING WENT TO HELL.

I have been waxing my own eyebrows, incident-free, for at least 10 years so it's baffling to me that I could have mangled myself so badly.  I use pre-waxed strips, so I can only assume that I misjudged where the wax was located on the strip...TWICE.  I realized that I'd torn off the outer layer of skin just above the crease of my eyelids when I applied the "soothing azulene oil", which felt more "hellfire" than "soothing".  Immediately thereafter, my eyelids became swollen, angry and raw, and I began to look like an extra from Fight Club. 

Today the eyelids are still angry.  Furious, in fact.  I'm praying that they don't scab over and make me look like a leper at my cousin's wedding on Saturday, because Fight Club/leper lids will be REALLY hard to accessorize.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wolves. Bears. Mountain Lions. Mrs. Bizzle. Which of These Doesn't Belong?

Summer is finally here, and this year the boys and I are going to the Bizzle family reunion in Glacier National Park, MT for our summer vacation.  While I couldn't be more stoked to spend time with family, meet some new Bizzles and relax in God's Country, I do have a few concerns after perusing Glacier's informative website*.
Namely:

1.)  WOLVES!  AND NOT THE CONVERSATIONAL "TWILIGHT" KIND, EITHER.




Several wolf packs occupy parts of Glacier National Park.  (Mind telling me which parts???)


2.)  GRIZZLY BEARS!  EVEN BETTER.




















The vast majority of bear attacks have occurred because people have surprised a bear.  In this type of situation the bear may attack as a defensive maneuver. (OK, that makes sense.  Don't surprise the bears, got it.)
In rare cases bears may attack at night or after stalking people.  This kind of attack is rare.  It can be very serious because it often means the bear is looking for food and preying upon you.  (wait. what???)
If you are attacked at night or if you feel you have been stalked and attacked as prey, try to escape.  if you cannot escape, or if the bear follows, use pepper spray, or shout and try to intimidate the bear with a branch or rock.  Do whatever it takes to let the bear know you are not easy prey.  (I might as well just give up now.)


3.)  MOUNTAIN LIONS!  BINGO.  TRIFECTA.  NOW IT'S A PARTY.







If you do encounter a lion, do not run.  (Riiight...)  Talk calmly, avert your gaze, stand tall, and back away.  (Is crapping yourself optional?)  Unlike with bears, if attack seems imminent, act aggressively.  Do not crouch and do not turn away.  Lions may be scared away by being struck with rocks or sticks, or by being kicked or hit.  Lions are primarily nocturnal, but they have attacked in broad daylight.  They rarely prey on humans, but such behavior occasionally does occur.  Children and small adults are particularly vulnerable.  Report all mountain lion encounters immediately!  (You mean if I SURVIVE?)

Look folks, I realize it isn't Disney World, and in spite of the risks of getting mauled or eaten by a bear, mountain lion, and/or wolf pack, I'm looking forward to a really great time and enjoying the breathtaking natural beauty of Glacier.  I really am.  I'll just be clutching pepper spray and banging pots and pans wherever I go.


In the immortal words of Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, "If Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don't eat the tourists."  Exactly.