Recipe Review

The Buffalo Shrimp was definitely a success.  The hubs and I both really enjoyed the dish, and he’s already planning on using the recipe with wings.  The grilled flavor on the shrimp* and the mix of butter and hot sauce in the sauce really make this recipe (and give it a little something different so that it’s not just a wings recipe thrown onto shrimp).  There’s something really nice about the combination of spice with good, rich butter that works on shrimp.  And because of the bold flavor of the sauce, it pairs nicely with red wine, which, let’s face it, should be the test of every dinner recipe.

Also, no serious cooking skills were required to pull this off, but it tastes good enough to serve to guests.  That’s always a bonus!

With the shrimp, we had campfire potatoes, which were pretty darn yummy (and so easy).  I didn’t make the packets flat enough so that all of the potatoes got browned on the foil, but even the ones that didn’t still had a nice flavor from the garlic and spices.

Next up — shrimp and sausage skewers. 

*Even though the recipe says the shrimp can be cooked stovetop, I don’t think that would be as good.

The Countdown (and the inevitable re-emergence of my taskmaster self)

I start teaching again June 7.  That is exactly twelve days from now. . . which may seem like a lot of time off, but I only count “time off” in terms of relaxing vacation-y time as the time that I’m not prepping for or otherwise thinking about work, and that’s going to start next week.  Actually, the thinking has already begun.  I just won’t start thinking on paper until next week.

That deadline brings the awareness that my time for recharging, reorganizing, re-de-cluttering, and generally re-getting-my-shit-together-ing is almost up, and that gives my wanted-t0-accomplish list more urgency.  It’s behaving like a flickering neon light at this point, demanding that I pay attention and do something about it.  And while my 33 years may make me wise enough to know how life should be lived, I still struggle with knowing precisely how much recreation to how much work, cleaning, etc. is the perfect ratio for my happiness.  I mean, I’m smart enough to realize that my want-to-do list will never be complete (because that would be a sign that I’m not living well), but I don’t think I know myself well enough to know how to pick and choose from that list in the best possible way yet.

And still, a list-maker I am.  So here’s my entire and characteristically unrealistic list of things I would like to do before I go back on June 7 (at which point I will, whether I or anyone else likes it or not, become an all-work-all-the-time machine):

Definitely

  • Get front flower beds entirely cleaned and Preened
  • Read at least four more books to add to Summer Read class reading list
  • Produce sweet new summer syllabi and class websites
  • Get the house back to its “break clean” state (including everything behind doors, like closets and cabinets), and have a system planned for maintenance
  • Work with Steph to design training for writing consultants and fellows
  • Get some color on my legs so that I can rock my new warm weather clothes (Thanks, Mom and Steph!) without blinding anyone
  • Spend time with the hubs outside, enjoying our patio (this will require some attention to the immediate back flower beds because otherwise, I can’t relax)
  • Spend time with friends
  • Experiment with some new recipes–especially ones that will make good leftovers for lunch at work
  • Build working out (not counting walking Abby) into the routine, and make it a real priority

Maybe

  • Paint downstairs bathroom
  • Read some more good books just for me (I have four started and never finished)
  • Read good books on reading pedagogy and incorporate/test some of their ideas in summer course
  • Meet Steven Layne, get all stupid and googly-eyed and tell him how amazing he is, and then milk him for great ideas

Probably not

  • Get all of the flower beds cleaned and Preened, with a garden planted, shrubs trimmed, and a yard so gorgeous all the retiree neighbors are envious.
  • Read all of the books on the to-read list and revamp the novel list for Read classes
  • Start designing reading component of writing center

And now, a disturbing confession. . .

Because I’m a taskmaster, my brain is currently breaking down the “Definitely” list into more specific daily to-dos that will, within moments, become a dated list of assignments.  What can I say?  School is ingrained with me, and I don’t get much done if I don’t have deadlines.

Bee’s Rules to Live By

Maybe it’s that I just turned 33.  Maybe it’s that I just finished the most terrible semester (part of a remarkably bad academic year) of my career.  Maybe it’s just my usual penchant for self-analysis (have I written yet about the television-drama styled meta-narrative that runs through my head constantly?).  Whatever it is, I’m busy being reflective lately, and inspired by a recent piece in O, I’ve been working on my rules to live by.  Here’s what I have so far:

1.  Be authentic.  I am a geek.  I am clumsy.  I am loud and easily amused.  I am not sexy in the traditional open-mouthed, messy haired, bedroom eyed sense.  I am, though, sexy in my own quirky way when I own all of my awkwardness and really let it fly.  It is when I am most myself that I am most comfortable, most beautiful, and most successful.

2.  Be kind.  Being kind is different than being nice.  Kindness is thoughtful.  It is intentional.  And it’s universally applied without expectation or judgment.  Sometimes it’s proactive, like looking back when you’re about to walk through a door to make sure there’s not someone behind you for whom you should be holding that door.  Sometimes it’s reactive, like choosing to be patient with someone whose grumpiness could very well be caused by awful personal circumstances (that would make you feel like a twit for responding any other way).  The beauty of kindness is that it is its own reward.  No matter how the creature on the receiving end responds, I always feel better in my gut because I was kind.

3.  Find joy in the seemingly small things.  Chucks.  Dark chocolate.  Dry red wine.  Extra sharp white cheddar cheese.  Multi-colored toenails.  The smell of clean clothes.  Fireflies.  Little games, like guessing what tip HP will leave the waiter.  Walks with Abby in various weather conditions.  Silly moments when HP and I both repeat the same line from whatever show we happen to be watching.  These are the things that bring me joy–not just contentment or surface-level happiness but way down deep in my gut pure joy.  I’m not really sure why these always get called “little things” because for me, they’re so clearly what matters most.  The day I stop feeling karmic pleasure at not stepping on worms the rain has washed onto the sidewalk is the day I stop being really, deeply happy.

4.  Know what’s worth fighting for, and then fight for it.  I hate having people be upset with or otherwise disappointed in me.  It really doesn’t matter who they are or whether I usually value their opinions or not.  That someone could possibly be feeling negatively about me tends to get my stomach acid in crazy eruption state.  I also, though, have a natural sympathy for the less powerful, less privileged, less heard, and there are times when that overpowers my extreme desire not to piss people off.  There are times when pissing people off is necessary, and in those times, it’s really your responsibility to do so.

5.  Smile and laugh freely.  Memo to the universe:  we are not given a limited smile and giggle bank at birth.  Cheesy smiles and belly laughs cost nothing.  Coolness levels do not immediately decrease with each baring of the pearly whites.  Intelligence does not improve with somber expressions.  Do you get it?  You lose nothing by smiling.  Instead, you give the world a little gift, a little pick-me-up, a little reassurance, maybe even a little kick in the pants.

6.  Celebrate people you love.  When you’re a kid, you get these fantastic birthday parties with people singing and presents.  You get gold stars on homework–sometimes even scratch-and-sniff stickers that smell like banana splits!  You get at least once-a-year awards ceremonies with certificates acknowledging the smallest of progress.  Then something changes.  The awards ceremonies stop, and so as not to appear boastful or self-centered, you stop announcing your successes and sharing your good news.  Ok, that’s fine.  But at that point, it becomes everyone else’s responsibility to celebrate you.  Friends and loved ones deserve to be celebrated. . . and not just at big moments like weddings and retirement parties.  We should all know our friends and loved ones well enough to know when some small accomplishment is a big victory and to know how best to help that person celebrate.

7.  Take your own advice.  I try hard not to be an opinionated turd who tosses out how-things-should-be-done tidbits like free t-shirts from one of those sweet air cannons at most indoor sporting events.  In my head, though, I often find myself knowing how a situation could’ve been better handled.  I have enough clarity to produce a list of rules to live by, after all.  But as with all of those internal judgments, these rules are much clearer in writing than they are executed in my daily life.  We all have inherited wisdom that sticks with us for good reason.  I, for one, would probably be better off if I applied it to myself more frequently.

Makegradualadditions vs. Makeover

There’s something to be said about getting lost in work and stress and such.  I really do need to think about my inability to balance, but I don’t want to think about that right now, so instead, I’m going to rewind and recap the Madison makeover trip.

After some unsuccessful browsing at various boutiques and Urban Outfitters, SS and I headed to the mall, where we found one new look for me at H & M:  tunic and leggings.

My tunic-and-leggings looks (there are three of them) are a lot more like the middle picture than the others.  They’re cute and summery, and they’re not jeans, so there’s a little something different going on.  We also found some really cute little roll-up capri-ish pants that will be good for casual weekend looks.  At some point, there will be pictures; I just don’t know when.  (If the grumpy-pants dude at H & M wouldn’t have been so. . . well. . . grumpy, there would be pictures of everything.  He wasn’t into documentation.  Or shared dressing rooms.)

Otherwise, I really didn’t like anything I tried on.  Poofy skirts are ugly, I can’t do high-waisted pants, and I don’t pull off the flowy giant top look so well either.  I tried them all on, and SS thought they were cute, but because of my limited fundage, if I don’t love the way I look, there’s no point in spending the money.

Our hair plans ended up fortuitously canceled when Sigrid had a family emergency that kept her away from work.  Luckily, there were two openings at this sweet salon that SS and I had spied while out earlier.  I got my rockstar blue streak and lots of sweet layers.  It’s not a huge change, but it was enough to make me happy.

So really, there haven’t been any before-and-after worthy changes yet, but I have added a couple of outfits and some new layers to my look.  The Columbus shopping trip is coming soon, so maybe that will add a bit, too.

At this very moment, though, I’m looking at a pair of yellow Chucks and some sweet new blue nail polish (both birthday presents) and thinking that I kinda like what I’ve got goin’.