Thursday, February 27, 2014

Audrey Turner, budding Paleontologist

I have been lugging around with me a little file rack filled with keepsake papers to everywhere I've lived, and I haven't looked through it, maybe since high school. Last night, though, I was in a THROW EVERYTHING AWAY fit, and I sat down with the box, preparing to ravage it with my PMS-fueled feng-shui. 

From my 1st grade home school "Feelings Book" where I answered What do you like most about yourself with "I am P." to a 3rd grade notebook filled with stories and drawing of aliens who were trying to abduct me at night, to a 6th grade note pad full of "poems" about the boy who broke my heart, I ended up not throwing anything away--everything was amazing.  

However, nothing was as amazing as this, this 9 year old's guide to dinosaurs, the most definitive dinosaur book you'll ever need: 

Dinosaur Pictre Book
by Audrey Turner
(original title [as seen in a fury of erasings] The Life of Dinosaurs, with actevetys [activities?]) 

Just in case you thought that water was grass or something. 

um, brb, I'm dying.

this guy got his own centerfold

Not sure why, but this steggy has some serious Feels going on.

Whoa! Capter 2! Once again, a helpful note, in case you thought that fish was a sock or something.

These came from the Flying Animals with Severe Scoliosis archives

Um, who could forget the  most famous flying animal ever, the Starfish. 

I think this chased me in a nightmare once. 

The end! The erased title was "How to Draw a Dinosaur." Clearly I didn't think
anyone else could hack it. 

Some of you might be wondering, where is the velociraptor? And the answer is, I was only 9. At the time, my favorite dinosaur was the Brontosaurus--so much my favorite that when someone corrected me and said it's a brachiosaurus, not a brontosaurus, I refused to comply. Also, at 9, the dinosaur books I had didn't touch too much on velociraptors. 

At this point in my life, it would be 6 more months until that fateful day, when my parents and their friends took us to see Jurassic Park, and the velociraptor stole my heart. With it's Giant Hooked Claw. 

Also, also, I'm not sure when my Good Spelling gene FINALLY kicked in, but thank God it did. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Crossing Streams

When I was a few days old, my mom bundled me up, got me milk-drunk, and took me with her to see Ghostbusters. It was the first movie I ever saw. Well, as much as a newborn can "watch a movie."

I have always held fast to the belief that that experience shaped me into the person I am today. That it tripped some sort of absurd humor/extreme sarcasm switch in my baby brain that otherwise would have been left alone. And I absorbed all that movie greatness like sponge. I believe it allowed me, as a little kid, to watch and actually like movies such as Caddyshack, Stripes, Spaceballs, Dragnet and Raising Arizona--movies that my parents liked to watch and didn't see any harm in letting us sit down and watch with them. And lucky for me, Harold Ramis was responsible for most of those movies I loved that were well beyond my scope of reference. His name was one of the first "movie names" I recognized. And for a long time, I thought he was my dad's long lost brother.

My heart literally sank yesterday when I read the sad, sad news that Ramis died of a painful blood disorder. To quote my friend Scott, "There is no twinkie big enough to represent my grief."

So, thank you, Harold Ramis. Thank you, subversive 80's humor. Thank you, mom and dad, for fostering in me a love of good humor. We lost a good man, a comedy legend, and the inspiration behind many modern comedies yesterday.

*Often, I wonder what would have happened, who I'd be, or where I'd be now, if my mom had decided to see a shitty 80's rom-com instead of Ghostbusters. The horror.

Friday, February 21, 2014

One Cookie to Rule Them All

I started at a new gym this week, but that's all shot to shit because my mom developed the world's most perfect oatmeal cookie. And I've eaten my weight in their deliciousness.

Most people will brush off an oatmeal cookie. And why not? Typically, they're just oatmeal. No splash. No thrill. Having to eat oatmeal cookies is like being forced to hang out with your bland cousin--not the so creepy he's cool one who collects used ziplock bags, but the one who eats Vienna Sausages dipped in ketchup--when you really want to hang out with your awesome cousin who has a fake ID and a convertible (the cool cousin being chocolate chip cookies or snicker doodles or goat cheese sugar crisps or pan cookies or peanut butter florals or what have you.) (Whatever, I like the analogy)

Not me, though. I love an oatmeal cookie. The oatmeal cookie and all it's fiber-laden simplicity calls to the Midwestern genetics in me that my mom has worked so tirelessly to destroy (but somethings can't be helped; this love of sweat pants and trashy TV didn't evolve on its own, Mom). They're filling, but not too sweet, so you can eat about a million of them before you feel sick. And, you can convince yourself that since it's oatmeal, butter, and brown sugar, you're basically eating a bowl of oatmeal. That makes them a breakfast food. Aw yeah. But more than that, oatmeal cookies remind me of dad's mom, Gramma.

I didn't have close relationships with my grandmothers. Growing up in a military family, we moved a lot and it was never in the same area, or even state as them. So apart from family visits when I was younger and birthday cards and Christmas presents, I didn't really know them. I was an incredibly shy kid and couldn't pick up the phone, and I was a bad pen pal. By the time I was old enough to realize how cool it would be to know my grand mothers, Mom's mom, Grammy, had passed away, and Dad's mom, Gramma, developed severe dementia, and years later, passed away.

But, Gramma did leave an indelible mark on me in the form of oatmeal cookies. She had this recipe that was like nothing I've ever tried before. They were basic oatmeal cookies, but they were white. And they had this taste to them that I've never been able to replicate, or find in store bought cookies. It was like a raw cookie dough taste, rich, savory, but fully baked. It's plain, but it's haunting.

I couldn't get enough of them. And whenever we'd visit, she'd always make a batch just for me, and keep them in a big, round, blue tin. We have her recipe, but they don't taste the same. Whatever secret ingredient or method she had, I didn't pick up.

Enter, my mom's new oatmeal cookies.

These cookies are incredible and delicious in the own right. But after I ate my 6th one last night, I realized just why I loved them so much--they taste just like Gramma's cookies. I ate two more and slipped into a diabetic coma, smiling the fattest smile of a sweet, loving, food reunion. 

While she somehow stumbled upon Gramma's secret, she also added a lot of sexy ingredients that I usually sneer at, like coconut and white chocolate chips. And somehow, all of it works. The texture is soft with slightly crunchy edges, with almond-inspired sweetness that really sets it off. Even the color is luscious. This oatmeal cookie would put down the ketchup covered sausages, and totally let you drive its convertible. And then buy beer for you and your friends. 

So go on, put on some stretchy pants, make sure there's a gallon of milk in the fridge, and make these cookies. 

And after you're done eating the entire batch and hating yourself, call your gramma. 

The Superior Turner Cookie by Kim Turner

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flower
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup shaved coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

  1. combine flour, almond meal, salt and baking soda, and set aside.
  2. cream together butter and white and brown sugars.
  3. add eggs one at a time.
  4. add vanilla and almond extract.
  5. slowly mix in dry ingredients
  6. slowly mix in oatmeal and other mix-ins (coconut, pecans, white chocolate chips)
  7. use an ice cream scoop to make balls of oatmeal dough deliciousness, and distribute them on baking sheets 
  8. bake for 8-10 minutes at 325*
  9. remove immediately from baking sheet and let cool on a wire rack. 
Mom's pro-tips*:
  • you aren't baking successfully unless you've dirtied up every measuring device you own. 
  • pull the cookies out when they're almost done. They'll continue baking when you bring them out of the oven, and it maintains the soft texture/crispy edge harmony.
  • For every baking sheet you bake, you get one spoon full of raw dough to eat. 
  • Therefore, use every baking sheet you own.
  • You can use parchment paper on the baking sheets to save on clean up. Or, if you want your daughter to work harder at washing dishes, don't. 
  • Don't be surprised when your daughter works up such an appetite scrubbing up the cookie dishes that she eats half the batch by herself. 

*these, in no way, have been editorialized.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

5 day weekend! (aka photo dump)

Thanks, Winter Storm Pax!

It started snowing on Wednesday night, and continued into Thursday morning. With almost 2 feet of accumulation, it was just enough to shut down the DC metro area on Thursday and mostly Friday. And since Monday was President's Day, I got a sweet, unexpected, 5 day weekend.

Hell. Yeah.

I stayed up all Wednesday night watching it snow and going through all of HBO OnDemand. Most of the night was in white out conditions, which always gets me glued to the window. And in the morning, there was lots of scampering with the snow cows, who basically swam through the snow piles.

Behold the face of 2 hours sleep

Dad and the Ladies Basset go check out the stuck snow plows

Then I wrenched my back when I shoveled out my car. So that was fun. I know now why my mom got married and had kids: so she'd always have someone to shovel out her car.

Joel and I had a great Valentines Skype Date. We joked and plotted and laughed and stayed up late and I drew him awesome pictures, like this:

did I mention I was on pain killers for my back? because I was.

On Friday, I came home from lunch and had flowers waiting for me. Joel is melting my cold, dead, anti-Valentines Day heart. Also, my room smells like roses and cinnamon, which is unbelievably delicious and makes me want to bake rose-cinnamon cake. The only problem is, I don't think that's a thing. But I could probably make it a thing. But I think roses are poisonous? We'll find out!

Then, Grey and Neve came over for their night at Mimi's. Grey held a photo shoot for his lego creatures, and Neve spent the better part of the evening dressing up in my closet and letting me teach her about make up (I'm sure her parents will be thrilled to have her dress like Aunt Audrey).

"I need a flashlight, a foot stool, and a camera."

ehhhh... yeah, that was a $25 eye shadow kit. I don't care. It was hella cute.

I did keep my tradition of drinking wine and watching horror movies on Valentine's Day. Except I watched The Purge and it bored the hell out of me. womp womp.

I don't have pictures of Saturday, because I literally slept all day. And then I ate Egyptian food at my neighbor's house (damn, I love Egyptian food.), before coming home and falling asleep again. It was lovely.

On Sunday, I woke up butt-early and was determined to accomplish all the productivity I wanted to have had for the last three days. So I went to Starbucks to write at 7 AM. And it was gang-busters. Well, relatively gang busters. I only wrote three and a half pages, but considering I only got through 2 paragraphs the last time I sat down to write, I'm putting this in the victory column.

Yep. I have become yuppie.

When I got home, Grey and Neve were having a Pop Tart party. 

Grey and Neve take Pop Tarts up to their beds, stack all the pillows around them, and whisper things to each other. It's heart melting. My favorite eavesdrop moment:
Grey: Neve, we should do Pop Tart parties all the time.
Neve: Yeah, we should do them every day.
Grey: Except for the days when we have Pop Tart Super parties!
Neve: Nooooo, we can't do that til we're adults!

Um, what's a Pop Tart Super party? And why haven't I gone to one yet?

Later, I saw Catching Fire. I was really disappointed with Hunger Games, so I wasn't in any hurry to see the sequel. But, it was my favorite book in the series, and it was at Arlington Cinema Draft House, so I decided to hit it up. And even though they left out some good stuff (still no mention of the Avox?) it was a million times better than I thought it would be. (Proof that Hollywood reads my blog) And I got to eat loaded nachos and a brownie sundae while watching it (which might have made it better than it really was.) But it did hurt my heart to see Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Fly home, sweet angel baby Hoffman

More on that, later.

And of course, Monday was spent in bed, catching up on work I was supposed to have done on Friday, and seeing Monuments Men, which was a tame, but fun, romp through World War 2. And there was a Bill Murray crying scene, which made me cry, because Bill Murray is my spirit celebrity, and I was already having an emotional morning.

So that about sums up my lovely extended time at home. So much cable TV. So much sleep. So much eating. So much sweat pants. So much movies.

Needless to say, getting up to go to work on time this morning, was a struggle.

Hope you all had a great weekend, too!

*Also, what? Why are we naming snow storms? 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hoodie Therapy

My ex-boyfriend bought me this hoodie.

No, I take it back. My friend Jimmy bought me this hoodie. He wanted to date me, and I wanted to date him, but I wouldn't let it happen. 1% of me always resisted, and I always accepted it. 

He bought it for me when we first met. I was in high school and going through a break up from Adam. He took me to a Tenacious D/Weezer concert and he didn't know it, but he bought me a $42 dollar hoodie that made me think of Adam. I wore the sweatshirt every moment I could, so I could think of Adam.

I was in college before I wore it and thought of Jimmy. I wore it on almost every lazy day and thought of him.

Years later, I'd see Addie wearing the same sweatshirt. I'd try to start conversation with him over it, and he'd shoot me down. More years later, I'd emerge from the bathroom in the basement apartment we shared, only find us both wearing our matching hoodies, playfully arguing about who should change first.

I used it to pack dishes when I moved out of that apartment, knowing I wouldn't see it again for a long time. 

When I unpacked my dishes last year, and discovered it wrapped amongst coffee cups I hadn't seen in a long time, I felt nothing. Not a fleeting glimpse of 2001, Adam. 2005, Jimmy. 2007, Addie. Not even a shrug of oh there it is relief. An unremarkable reunion. I tossed it into the laundry hamper, where it stayed until it made its way into the washer, and then to the hoodie basket, where it found its way to the bottom.

And then, Saturday. I reached into the hoodie basket, and without looking, pulled out the big red wonder.

I hadn't worn it for years, but when I tried it on, it instantly fit, the way it always instantly fit from the moment I tried it on at First Mariner Arena in Baltimore. Not too big and not too small. A couple of paint stains on the left sleeve. Cuts along the hood line where the draw strings meet. Break marks within the silk screened "Cleveland Steamers" logo. Lived in and loved. It was hard to believe I'd forgotten about it. This hoodie that I invested so much time in, so much life in, was nothing more than a piece of excess clothing. Nothing more than packing materials. 

Lounging around in it all morning on Saturday, and all day Sunday, I felt nothing but comfort, nothing but familiarity. And it felt nice.

I haven't known this disconnect before. I've always been the one who's crippled by nostalgia. By picking at seams. By stalling on what-ifs and if-onlys. Fixated on the men I've fallen in love with. Turning things like hoodies into instruments of guilt, keeping them around as some sort of penance. Hoping one day to magically be ok with the choices I've made. All of this working toward my detriment.

But, I'm ok, now. Looking at this hoodie as something that I love because it's a part of me and a part of my past, and not because it's from him or reminds me of him or connects to him, is a welcome change. I'm finally at a place in my life where I can accept the past and move forward, which is something I've been working toward for a long time now. Loving this hoodie for what it is looks like a small step, but it's so huge. 

I love this hoodie because it belongs to me.

I love this hoodie because it's comfortable as shit.

Most people don't get hit with a sweater full of introspection when they go through their hoodie basket. And most people don't have a basket dedicated to hoodies. But that's ok. I'll take my therapy where I can get it.

Even in the form of a Tenacious D hoodie. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Beef Bor-glorious

Boeuf Bourguignon?

Bowf Bore-ig-non?

Boff Borr-yan?

Beef Burgundy?

Whatever. It's Beef Bor-glorious.

I've had Beef Bourguignon on my Cooking Bucket List ever since I read Julie & Julia, and then heard from experienced cooks about how hard and time consuming it is. Because if there's one thing I do well in life, it's try to run when I should just be discovering my feet.

So, about once a month for the past 5 years, I'd set aside a night to try making the french beefy masterpiece described to me as a "bowl of steak and redwine gravy." And about once or twice a month, I'd make it half way through the ingredients before I gave up on the idea all together. I like steak and red wine and gravy, but I wasn't about to spend what seemed like a month's salary and a whole day on one meal.

Cut to last weekend. I've been brining up meal planning with my mom since I moved back in, and on she finally nailed it. As she was writing out a menu, I heard her say something about Beef Bourg.  I was quick to jump on the train, making wild statements such as, I'LL HELP YOU MAKE IT! AWESOME! SO EXCITE! SOMETHING TO BLOG ABOUT! So she marked it on the calendar for Sunday while mentioning her Nigella Lawson recipe. I have a conflicted relationship with Nigella Lawson because she's the queen of British Food Porn and my dad is in love with her, but my excitement remained undiminished.

And, in typical Audrey style, I forgot about my commitment 10 minutes later.

Cut to Sunday afternoon. Mom wakes me up from my Nap Day tradition and says it's time to make dinner. She had chopped all the vegetables, cubed the meat, laid out the spices, and the made the gravy, so literally all I had to do was follow the recipe. So technically this wasn't a full-on Audrey Dinner Adventure. I'll try it from grocery to store to plate next time.

I still managed to forget a step or two. And I gave myself carpal tunnel by browning cubes of steak for what seemed like 4 hours.

Cube by cube, good citizens.

And we skipped the whole "pour 1/2 a cup of cognac on it and stand back as you ignite it with a match" part because my dad was painting in the next room and there were way too many fire hazards in the kitchen. Next time.

But what came out was an incredibly delicious, aromatic, sweet, savory, beautiful beef blessing.

We served it over mashed potatoes, but next time I'm serving it over homemade sour dough bread. And next time, I'm using my Omaha steaks. And next time, I'm remembering to boil it first so the carrots aren't crunchy. And next time, I'm lighting that shit on fire. However, it's good to know that even without all those steps, it's still the new Comfort Food Champion.

And it's heaps better the next time you eat it.

Also, fun note. As I was plating the stew, I felt, in a weird away, a powerful and badass surge, and maybe even a pique in my Nigella Lawson-esque sexuality. However, my mom knocked that right out of me when she told me it was, in fact, an Ina Garten* recipe, not Nigella Lawson.

Oh well.

Next time.
Barefoot Contessa in Paris Boeuf Bourguignon

*It seems I do have ridiculous issues with every chef on Food Network who isn't Alton Brown.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Jenelle Evans, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Past Life Decisions, pt. 3

As we all know (because we've been a good, patient audience and have been keeping up with our celebrity trash rags), Jenelle Evans is in the midst of her second sustained pregnancy (there was one confirmed abortion in between), with her boyfriend Nathan.

Anywho, this is a recent-ish post from her Instagram (because we're also following her*):

Jenelle Evans is definitely on the forefront of pregnancy fashion.

Also, fun fact: the tattoo on her abdomen is the Latin phrase for "This too shall pass."
Just let that sink in.

Teen Mom 2, season 5, on MTV, Tuesdays at 10 PM. 

*seriously. If you think I'm a weird Teen Mom fan, you should read the comments these girls get on their posts. It's madness. But then again, who's worse: the commenter or the person who sits in bed with a cup of coffee and reads all the comments?

**I need to re-think my life.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

modern marriage

When I was, maybe 15 or 16, I found these pillars that my grampa had carved. They were painted teal green, and they were so old that the paint was chipping and breaking off.

My mom told me that there was this really stuffy Army wife she knew, who was married to someone in my dad's company. She said, "She would look at something like that and say oh how... oh, what's that word, it's not 'rustic', and it's not 'antique', oh it starts with a P."

For YEARS, my mom has not been able to remember the P adjective that this little Officer's Wife used to make fun of antique furniture. And every time we see a piece of furniture that has seriously chipped paint, she tells the story. And every time, she hasn't been able to remember the word. NOTHING has been able to jog her memory. No matter how many thesaurus' we consult, no matter how many times she re-thinks the story.

Until this morning.

Mom and I were sitting in the living room, and I mentioned how her china closet would look better if it were painted white. Once again, she starts the flashback.

Mom: There was this really snotty Officer's wife who--

Me: Yeah, she made fun of antique furniture and she called it something that you can't remember?

Mom: Yes!

Me: haha, you tell that story every time I mention something rustic.

Mom: And I still can't remember that damn word!

We're going through an online thesaurus when my dad comes upstairs. My dad has been out running errands all day. This is literally how the conversation went:

Mom: Larry, do you remember that snotty officer's wife who--

Dad: Yeah, she used to call the furniture primitive.


True love.

Also, the worst description for rustic furniture, ever.

Interesting post script: My dad remembers this story from almost 20 years ago with no coaching, and ten minutes later, my mom asked him to remember the name of a soldier who he worked with three years ago, and my dad couldn't remember. True dad.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


Like basically every other First World Person out there, I had decided January was going to be a glorious, Earth shaking month of change, productivity and glorious life-setting.

And like basically every other First World Person, January became a big pile of Nope. 

Goals like, 


became eclipsed by doctor's visits, sick days, a sudden move, and helping out with family issues. The month became kind of a wind tunnel of activity where most days I was in bed, and asleep by 9:15. Some months are just like that, though. And as life tends to go, you can't predict when it happens. 


I'm instilling "Fresh-uary," where I'm starting over where I was supposed to start in January. I am going to focus on these areas of my life with dramatic intensity.

  • Meal planning!
  • Book reading!
  • Writing!
  • Blogging!
  • Gym-ing!
  • Health bettering!
  • Money Saving!

Ok, maybe not dramatic intensity. If there's one thing I know, I get overwhelmed with one Life Project, to say nothing of seven or eight. Maybe more like moderate to above average intensity. But dammit, I'm going to try. I'm about to be a real adult. It's really time to start behaving like one. Yeah. 

And so, I decree: Piss off January. No one liked you, anyway. 

This picture has nothing to do with January. But there is snow on the ground out here. And I am an AT-AT. 

Happy February, errryone!
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