Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011. Let's Wrap It Up.

Well 2011 was a huge year in my life. How'd it go for you? The biggest part, of course, was SPAIN and my life, friends, adopted family, travels, cafés, and adventures that existed in my beautiful city of Sevilla. (Yes, I'm still calling it my city. I refuse to let it go yet.) I spent my first summer out of Wisconsin, started my senior year, strengthened a few old friendships, and made some new ones. I got my first car, finished my last soccer season, and cut those blasted bangs back in my hair again. As I posted a few days ago, this blog has been one of my favorite developments of this year. I think this post was my favorite of the semester because of how honest it forced me to be. You can't lie to your blog, my friends. It's just not polite.

Another thing I've TRIED to do this year is step up my style just a tad. After a slight obsession with fashion bloggers, I decided that looking cute just makes life happier. It makes every day a little more of an event. So here are a few outfits from the end of 2011 that I've been saving up just for you.

Can't get enough of that orange cardigan this winter
Anna wore heels! Remember this day!
Frumpy-chic. Yes, I just coined that phrase
for my own purposes. Like for this outfit.  
My choir concert outfit. Wore it under a  choir robe.
I took a picture so SOMEONE could see it.
My favorite new shirt. American Eagle.
From Marshall's. 8 bucks.
Presh smile isn't it? British man outfit. 
I missed those high-waisted bell-bottoms!
Hoe-down anyone?
My Christmas Eve church outfit.
Skirt was $7.00 from H&M. A Christmas miracle!
And now, finally, because she is my style and life icon/inspiration, here is a little Zooey D to brighten up your New Year's Eve with her adorable self and beautiful voice. What are you doing for New Year's Eve? I'm going to party like it's 2011. Because it is.

Friday, December 30, 2011


Well, it's a rough life. After a strenuous travel schedule...

...I've spent the past few nights at this little old place...

...and worked long days for this demanding boss.

The day after Christmas, I got to fly out to Florida for this whole week to help take care of some of my favorite kids. The family I nannied for all summer asked me to come down and make their vacation run a little more smoothly, and it has been fabulous since the moment I stepped off that plane. I got my usual two (brother and sister) plus their two cousins. Four kids aged 5 and under + craft time + Anna = a hoot and a half. (Don't mind the hick expression.) The family is amazing and I feel really special to be a part of their Christmas vacation. The one small downside to babysitting in Florida is that you don't get the tan while inside tending to nap schedules. But guess what?

I fly back here with my family in ONE week for our own Christmas vacation. How bout that? I get the fun of these kids now and then next week I get my tan. How much more could a girl ask for?

 I've had such a great Christmas break I'm starting to go in denial that it will, eventually, have to come to an end. And that means my last semester begins. And that means at the end of that semester I graduate. And that means I've got to have some sort of life plan hatched up by then. Let's stop thinking those scary thoughts and be distracted by some of my Christmas presents from this year. 

Some fab boots from DSW and some FLY Coloud headphones
Vera Bradley makeup thingy (love the print) and a new suitcase!
Note packing process that fit in said suitcase. Success!

Oooooo. Aaaaaahhh. I feel better already.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Blog's Birthday Bash

You're invited to a party. Kinda. You can consider this post the entertainment, go grab some chips for the refreshments and crank up some James Taylor for the musical ambience. Voila. You are now attending my blog's first birthday party.

Friends, a year ago today I started my blog with this post. Not anything too profound, just a "Welcome everyone, here is my blog," statement, but it still was a big day in my life.

This started originally under the title of A Broad Abroad (thanks to my creative brother Rudi) and was meant to document my semester in Sevilla, España for four months. Well, it did just that. And I have had a fabulous time looking back on those posts, pictures, videos, and memories of the best four months of my life. My favorite posts from that semester include how I was growing upreminders of my Señora's cooking, figuring out the cultural differencespictures of my friends, and my all-time favorite, my walk to school (this is the one I visit when I'm especially missing Spanish life). So many good things came out of that semester, but one of the least expected things was this blog. I figured, when I came back home, there was no need to write on it anymore. But I was wrong.

I found that, during the summer, I missed blogging immensely. I loved the feeling of writing my thoughts out in words, putting it out there to the universe, and somehow that helped people personally connect to situations, feelings, or life stages that I was experiencing at the same time. I love connecting to people in ways that I don't expect, and I love the courage it requires of me to "put it all out there." When I started up again with the beginning of the school year, I was so happy to be writing again.

Having said that, there can be some pitfalls with blogging. It is my personal life to some extent, so there is the danger of putting stuff out there that people don't like or don't want to read. Furthermore, since it is ME writing about MYSELF, blogging is by nature a self-centered activity. I think the best way to avoid getting caught up in that complex is to focus on how a blog can be used to get your point of view across in a way that is true to who you are, but not overbearing. This is better than serving up a hefty dose of ME to whoever will listen. Also, reading other people's blogs has helped me hone in my own voice.

While I absolutely love getting feedback, response, and connections through my blog, the number one reason I continue to write on this thing is this: I love it. Even if zero people read it, I would still write it. But I truly do love to do this, and I thank you for stopping by, offering your own thoughts, and considering mine.

As I start off year #2, I am so excited to see what happens, where I end up, and what I write. Let's make it a good one!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas, Friends!

(Yep, went with the Happy in my greeting instead of the Merry. John and Yoko just inspired me to diversify a little bit.)

Readers, have yourself a fabulous day with family, friends, food, and football (Go Pack)! In the midst of all that stuff let's not forget the person this whole Christmas shin dig celebrates in the first place, okay? I love Christmas for that constant reminder and the joy it brings to my mind during the daily shuffle of this time of year. How wonderful is this life we have because of who Christmas stands for?! It's so sweet it gives me goosebumps if I think about it for too long.

For your general enjoyment, I thought I'd share one of my favorite you-tubers. His name is Mike Tompkins and puts together music videos only using his own voice as accompaniment. Nothing else. It's really cool.

(And to all my Spanish friends out there...¡Feliz Navidad para ti y tuyo!)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas at the Movies

I am almost embarrassed to admit this. But let me tell you something: I've been to four movies in the theaters in the past month.

 Some might ask why the waste of money...I ask why not the investment of money in my happiness? (I know, so Bobby Kennedy-esque of me.) In the past few years I've contracted a love of watching movies during holiday weekends. It just makes everything feel more special and festive. Depending on your taste in movies, I'd highly recommend any of these four. Let's start with my favorite and most recent: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. 

I went to see Sherlock Holmes this afternoon with my parents. (Jealous?) Going to a movie on Christmas Eve is a tradition I want to continue. If I could also guarantee as good a movie as this one each year I would be one happy girl. Guy Ritchie hit a home run with this one (again). It was brilliant all the way down to the costumes, the witty dry humor throughout, and my personal favorite, the clangy musical score that sounds like some sinister old British man is plunking away on a 150-year-old piano. The Robert Downy Jr./Jude Law dynamic is hilarious as ever. While, I'm sure, much more cartoony and with more of that in-your-face quality than Arthur Conan Doyle's literary character on whom the movie is based, the movie adaptation entertains you start to finish and is completely worth seeing in theaters. Let me tell you an amazing fact about this movie: both of my parents loved it. Now that is a Christmas miracle. Go see it.

On to movie number two: New Year's Eve

I watched this with my sister-in-law Stephanie last week. Okay, disclaimer, I am a girl. And I like me some RomComs from time to time. But let's not write this off completely. Guys, if you must be dragged along to something, I'd pick this one. At the very least, it's got plots that you can follow! Oooooo, a plot. Something we girls aren't always looking for in our movie selections. It's got a zillion celebrities, a zillion intertwining stories, and a few twists that may surprise even you. I won't give anything away, but I will say that my favorite storyline involves Robert DeNiro's character. (I'm a Goodfellas fan, okay? It can't be helped.) It successfully entertained me and even gave me those "It's a new year!" warm fuzzies. 

I'm excited to tell you about the third: The Muppets

This is just a silly, clever, good time. I went on Thanksgiving weekend with my two brothers, sister-in-law, girlfriend-in-law, and my niece Sawyer (just shy of 3 years old) for her first experience in a movie theater. This one just left me feeling good. And how can you not love Jason Segel? Tell me. How? You can tell he is a huge Muppets fan himself and is loving every one of those 103 minutes on screen. You get some funny new songs along with a fabulous performance of my old favorite. Basically, you leave this movie with a renewed sense of hope in humanity. And muppetity. Working together. Side by side. The future is looking up.

Finally, I suppose I must come clean and also talk about the fourth movie...okay no judging...Twilight: Breaking Dawn.

Yes, I am a secret twi-hard. I went with some friends from Trinity for, yes, the midnight showing on opening night. Yes, I was wearing a "Team Jaward" shirt (because who wants to choose between Jacob and Edward? Why not both?) that I puffy painted myself. But I digress. Obviously, if you don't want a healthy dose of angsty, predictable, idealistic romance between vamps/humans/werewolves then just continue to keep your distance. I, on the other hand, sometimes just gotta get my fix. I read all four books a long time ago and can't help myself. The Edward/Bella wedding was gorgeous and there were a few gems in the soundtrack: Christina Perri's and Angus and Julia Stone's songs being my favorites. 

While you may not support my movie-going antics on the fourth selection, one thing you should conclude from this post is that there are tons of fabulous movies in theaters right now. Get out there!

(And Merry Christmas Eve! Woohoo!)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gifts for the Rents

Every year, I struggle with figuring out a Christmas gift for each of my parents. My dad doesn't want much, and if he does truly want something, he will just go buy it. My mom, while I know would love certain things, rarely articulates what she does. I really like to give thoughtful gifts that capture the occasion. But with the very people who raised me, I draw a blank.

Let me just confess:  I've literally once considered buying my father a shoehorn. Whew. I said it. It's sad, but it just felt good to admit.

But this year was different. I'm actually pretty proud of both selections. And, interestingly, both gifts were a collaboration. For my dad, I joined efforts with my brother Alex to make this happen. The third season of the Sopranos. There's more behind this too.

My dad has this obsession with the mob. He is a guy that tries to take the high road. While he is, in every other area of his life, extremely principled and unwavering when it comes to following rules, I think the mobsters play into that small part of him that appreciates vigilante justice. My dad's thoughts on the mafia: "I know it's not right to kill people, but I gotta say, you don't keep your word with the mob and you don't get away with it. You cross them and POW! They whack you."

He loves the Godfather, as well as reruns of The Sopranos, and mentioned a few weeks ago that he wished he had the third season, unknowing that my gift-giving-radar was on high alert. BOOM. Add one mental note-to-self taken in Anna's brain, combine with a stellar free shipping order on Amazon by Alex, and you have one well coordinated and necessary gift. Dad is a happy camper. Now on to Mom. The trickier of the two.

I've debated in my mind on "mom gifts" for awhile. While I KNOW she loves those stores with all the kitchen/cleaning/organizational supplies and latest gadgets, I sometimes get the odd feeling that buying her a gift in that category reduces her to the chores she does around the house like cooking or cleaning. So I'd be getting her something that she likes and wants, but I'm scared to send the message. Like in Father of the Bride when the girl gets all offended because her fiance buys her a blender. Get what I mean? Either way, it makes buying a gift difficult.

Well, I was racking my brain about options and it came to me: Buy her the stuff AND make her life less stressful. Enter our bathroom towel/medicine/cleaning supply closet.

My "gift tag" on the door 

It is a pretty large closet that, over the years, (no offense Mom) has gone completely Lindsay Lohan on us. Out of control.

So. For her present, I partnered up with my dad who was all about the idea. I took a little trip over to The Container Store and bought some organizational stuff funded by my business partner, while I provided the manpower and creative genius. Just about four hours later, after lots of throwing stuff out (2 garbage bags full!) the job was done. A completely organized closet with brand new bins and fun containers. She gets new stuff and a fresh look at what she's got to work with.

As a respect to my mom, I didn't include a "before" picture. But here's the "after." And let me tell you, it is a HUGE difference. If I do say so myself.

So, let's just say that Parent or Guardian Christmas Gifts 2011 is a success in the Gesch household. What have we learned? We've learned that two things are key: 1) Collaboration, and  2) Making Mom's life easier. Well, those two things are key in most of life's situations. I'm already accepting input for 2012...let's get the ball rolling.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It Ain't Easy Being Green

This post is rated 21 and up. Well, not really. You can still read it, but don't come crying to me that you aren't old enough to buy the ingredients. You've been warned. 

I whipped up a batch of these for my friend's bachelorette party the other night and it was a hit. I thought you, also, might enjoy being a hit, so here is the secret to holiday drink goodness. My friends, I give you: The Grasshopper. A sure-fire addition to any Christmas or New Year's party. Or any party for that matter.

I did a little research (Wikipedia is so handy) and found out that this cocktail originated in New Orleans at a bar named Tujague's in the 1950s. Well, my recipe originated in Cedar Grove from the Gesches sometime in the 90s or something. It combines minty goodness and ice cream and is fabulous. 

Here's what you'll need:
1) A thing of Cool Whip.
(And yes "thing" is a technical term of measurement)
2) A 5-quart bucket of vanilla ice cream.
Ideally a limited edition Green Bay Packer vanilla ice cream.
3) 1/2 cup of Creme de Cacao and 1 and 1/2 cup of Creme De Menthe
This is what makes it delicious, green, and minty.
4) A really big bowl
Let's do this. Before you start I would advise letting all the ingredients sit on the counter for about 15 minutes to thaw. It will let the ice cream and cool whip soften up and make this whole process a lot more painless.  

First things first, spoon almost all of the vanilla ice cream into the big bowl. I'd leave out a little bit because the finished product is going back in that 5-quart Packer-themed bucket. After the ice cream, add in all the cool whip in a similar fashion. 

Now, throw in the Creme de Cacao and Creme de Menthe. It will look really green and weird. Like this:

Now you start stirring. As you can see from the picture, I am using a massive spoon. It is the most handy spoon in our whole kitchen, but I have theories that it was once one of those decorative ones you nail to the wall to look country chic or something. However it got here, I'm glad it's around because it makes this job a lot easier. It will start to look more like this...

...which, I know, does not look appetizing, but we all know never to judge a recipe until it's finished. Or books by their covers. Or people by their appearance. Check you out, thought you were just getting a delicious how-to session and I slipped in a life lesson when you weren't looking. Anyway. When you break into Jillian Michaels beast mode and flex those stirring muscles, the end result will look like this: 

As you can see, in the end I called in the whisk for reinforcements. Your hard work is almost done. Now, all that is left to do is pour this finished mixture back into the empty ice cream bucket. This makes it super easy to tote around and seal back up. 

Keep it in the freezer and it will last you for a LONG time. Unless you have to entertain 40 people, then it will be gone immediately. Just scoop it out into little cups for everyone's happiness, minty-ness, and holiday cheer. Even if you are the lame one in the group, bringing a bucket of this will boost your ratings, guaranteed. Now go forth and conquer! 

2 out of 2 friends agree that this is delicious.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Back to The Grove

The sign with my town's name on it says: Cedar Grove. Population 1887. Not joking. The last stretch of the major highway before my house has two lanes. Yes, just two, all you Chicago and other big city people. 

Yep, I am home for Christmas break. In good old Wisconsin for the next six days. And while it is wonderful to be back here, it is a weird feeling to be back. Here are the top ten reasons why it's both good AND weird to be home: 

1. It's just my parents and I. While I love watching the Survivor 3-hour season finale with Brian and Kathy just as much as the next guy, a family activity void of constant sarcastic and loud conversation with my older brothers and significant others present is eerily quiet. 

2. My room. I know everyone goes through this to some extent when they are in the college/young adult/in-between stages. While it is remarkably neater and more organized than when I inhabited it full time, it makes me sad to walk into MY room and see that it has transitioned to a guest room/storage room/mom's 2nd closet. Que triste. At least they have maintained the presence of 3 important elements: the orange and yellow paint choice (that's a high school freshman girl decision for you), the van Gogh prints on the walls (love those then and still now), and my ever-faithful childhood stuffed Saint Bernard named Snowball (or "Snow" for short.) 

My dad and I, last year on Christmas morning
3. The free time. Exams are finished. Schoolwork is done. My jobs are back in Palos Heights, IL where my college is located. And here I am, with the open fields, the smell of the neighboring farm, and the spare time to contemplate those big decisions like: Should I commit to Facebook timeline? and Should I paint my nails? And let's not forget the ever-pressing question: Is my desire to go running greater than my hatred for the freezing cold weather outside? I need a hobby, people. 

4. The food. This is a win and lose, depending on how you look at it. Win, because my mother happens to be ridiculously talented in the dinner department. Lose, because I am trying to be healthy and the steady supply of Doritos and Oreos in the pantry is not helping my cause. One thing I do appreciate is the fact that the basement freezer is always stocked with Jack's Naturally Rising Frozen Pizzas. A luxury I don't get to enjoy while I'm at school. 

5. DVR. We don't have DVR at my house at school, and watching my shows whenever I want them is bliss. However. My parents' recording needs do not always equal my own. I need a constant stream of How I Met Your MotherNew Girl, and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. But when I scroll through the options of recorded television, I find House Hunters, House Hunters International Edition, Top Chef, and Iron Chef America (Apparently my parents want to move and open their own restaurant). We actually are in complete agreement over two shows: Jeopardy and Seinfeld. Thankfully. 

6. There is no traffic here. And I mean no traffic. If you wait behind more than two cars at a four-way stop sign, you are allowed start to get irritated with the unnecessary delay. Or you should probably blame yourself for not taking the back roads. 

7. Places to go, People to see. There is this weird mixture on break from college of wanting to see everyone from your old high school friendships, balancing everyone's schedules, and realizing that you can't see everyone in the short time you have. While I've grown apart from some people (somewhat sad to me), I have loved seeing over the years the friends that, no matter the time or distance between us, can pick up with me where we left off. These are the people who know me for who I am and let me just be me. (Me being me can mean funny or obnoxious, depending on your perspective. But I don't care.) 

8. My Wisconsin accent. It's dramatically more pronounced when I'm home. What can I say? Surround me with my own kind and I start to make "TOAA-st" instead of toast and put on my "COE-aahhtt" instead of my coat. It's a curse. But hey. It's who I am. Usually I can switch back and forth to some degree, but over Christmas break I give in completely to Wisconsinese. 

9. I don't have class for a MONTH. That is a sweet sentence to write right now, at this moment immediately following finals. But I can honestly say I get giddy with excitement when a new semester begins. I like school. So at the end of break I'll be itching to take notes and write papers again. 

10. No roommates. This is nice for one reason: 6 girls taking a shower each day can sometimes mean the hot water running out in the middle of your shower. Unpleasant. Having no roommates is not so nice for this reason: I miss the little crew! Finding funny things on Youtube is hilarious when with roommates and lamesauce when you are with your parents. As cool as my parents are, I don't think they have the patience to watch every Lonely Island video in existence with me. And they just don't find the joy in this video like other college kids do. 

So while it's weird at this age to come back, I know this town will always be where it all started. And each time I come back to make the population swell to 1888, I gotta say, it's a great time. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ingredients For: A Successful Finals Week

I've had a pretty solid finals week these past few days. Not too dramatic, but just enough scholastic stress was involved to spice up my life a tad. (Yep, I had this song in mind when I wrote that last sentence.) Here are some insider secrets so that you too can have a successful week of final exams.

Oh this stuff. Let me tell you. Dry shampoo is a necessity in times like these. Let's be real: I'm not putting the time into my appearance this time of the semester like I usually do. The hair is NOT being washed as frequently as some could deem socially acceptable. (I don't see this as laziness; rather, it is a shampoo-fund-saving technique.) Take this miracle-worker, give your bangs and roots a spray or two, comb it out, and voila. Much better. You can now push the limit of grossness just a little further before finally showering.

This stuff is like candy. And Lord knows I love candy. Not only is Airborne Vitamin C chewable and delicious, when you eat one (or seven....oops) it gives your immune system that extra little boost you need. While I honestly can't say I feel that much of a difference, I can say it makes me feel like I'm somehow being proactive. And that's important.

Please disregard the Chicago Bears blanket in the background. It's my roommate's, and I'm ashamed that it is even getting face time on my blog. On to the important stuff: snack time. Snack time (usually circa 1 or 2 am) consists of getting creative with the stuff you have left in your cabinet. I had leftover frosting from Christmas cookies last week and generic brand graham crackers who needed a friend. I introduced the two, and they became besties. Gotta say, it, of course, reminded me of a certain Seinfeld episode. Look to the cookie, my friends. Look to the cookie. 

This is my favorite recent discovery. It is a thing of beauty. It is a website that simply gives you the gentle pitter-patter of rainfall as background noise to your study sessions. It is amazing. Now, to take this up another notch, pair this with This playlist on which is full of instrumental study music, and you have yourself a VERY great backdrop for productivity. Or procrastination. You choose. Lauren (remember the punny roommate? She's the one who got her whole left side cut off. She's all right now) is to be credited with this playlist find. It's a keeper. 

So there you have it! All you need to succeed for finals! Ways to cover up your lack of hygiene, things that make you think you are healthy, completely irresponsible food choices, and some fabulous life soundtrack music. Oh. And I suppose during finals week you also need THOSE...

...your notes. Meh, I'd say they're optional. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Laugh it Off

Mel, Karley, and Lauren
On Friday night, my roommates and I took some time out of the craziness before finals week to do a little gift exchange. We are rarely all in one place with our crazy sched situation, so these little moments of togetherness are sweet. With any stress of end-of-year stuff going on, a little present unwrapping and laughing can do a college girl good.  

Our first Christmas presents this year
We went to Starbucks for our exchange and opened presents over a little hot chocolate and other deliciously overpriced cups of cheer. We didn't go overboard with the spending, but did just enough to make it special. I picked Mel's name and gave her a stripey Forever 21 cardigan (I almost kept it for myself but decided not to go Grinch this year) and a giftcard to Starbucks. Lauren had my name and did a fabulous job with my present: adorable mittens, a feather necklace, and a cool silver ring. I'm so excited to wear all of them. It was a successful gift exchange. But our little outing reminded me of why I love these girls. I have the best roommates. 

Susan and Mel
We have been through a LOT together. And we didn't need to buy each other gifts...they give me so much every day anyway, mostly through how they make me laugh. Let me break this down a little. 

Let's start with Susan. She's my partner in crime on JV soccer, but beyond that she gives me happiness daily through help with excitement over the little stuff (like dinner on Taco Tuesdays!). Mel gives me so many laughs with her sassy sense of humor, hilarious facebook observations, and youtube video sessions. Karyn gives me a shared love of stupid chick flicks, talking sense into a world of nonsense, and joking during sessions of couch-potato-dom. Lauren is probably the funniest person I've ever met, from her weird internet finds to taste in music to her affinity for a good pun. (She might be moving to Seoul. She thinks it would be a great Korea move.) Karley is just plain goofy, and we can probably sit and make fun of each other for an hour straight. Not to mention the random dance sessions that she spontaneously stages. 

My present from Lauren
So while I loved my present, I love my roommates more. If you can find people who make you laugh, hang on to them. Life will be a lot funnier. (Or in Lauren's case, a lot punnier.) 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Xan Man Turns ONE.

I can't believe we've reached this milestone. Xander Christian, my favorite nephew in the world, just celebrated his first birthday. (For any of you fans of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia it's really fun to insert "Xan Man" into the lyrics for Charlie's song called "Day Man." Xander really is a master of karate and friendship.)

We celebrated by getting together, eating cake, and watching Sawyer, his older sister, open and play with his presents. Maybe next year he can muscle her out of the way. For now, he was content with a face full of blue frosting and a house full of friends and family. What a cute little dude.

Starting to walk like a champ
Sawyer opening Xander's presents.
Everybody wins when your brother has a birthday! 
Building block cake crafted by my sister-in-law
Cake mania
And in the spirit of being bittersweet about watching my favorite kids grow up too fast, I could not resist but attach this video that my brother made. It's the past year in four minutes. Get ready for goosebumps and a few tears of joy. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


This one's a toughy. (Yes, I'm still an English major. Yes, used the word "toughy." Pronounced TUFF-ee.)

Maybe you can relate to this one. Or maybe you surround yourself with perfectly edifying people at all hours of the day and can't relate. But here I go anyway.

You know how people can be mean sometimes. But that's kind of expected - people say mean things from time to time. I say mean things from time to time! We all do. But ever have it where it cuts to the core? It slices a little too sharply? I've decided what it is that makes certain mean things just feel meaner (I swear they will strip me of my English major yet).

It's when the comment is negative not on what you did, but who you are.

We can and should handle it when someone calls our actions into question. If your actions or behavior get called selfish, inconsiderate, annoying, gossipy, or rude, those are things that you can kind of solve yourself. Stop doing the things that make you unpleasant. Or at least work on it. That's what I think we all try to do.

But when someone attaches one of those negative words to who you are, that's another story. I recently experienced this, and I've had quite the time trying to figure out what to do with it. Someone called me a fake person. And they meant it. A fake person? You mean like a fake-baker? Ugh. Gross.

I'll give this individual some credit: they told me to my face. That's better than behind someone's back. But what to do when someone calls you a fake? And what does FAKE even mean? A knockoff? Insincere? Not genuine? Or as the French say, faux?

Nessie is totally busted. What a fake. 

While I love me a faux hawk here and there, the other words I detest. I really strive to be genuine, sincere, and all that other good stuff. I like to think I present myself like an open book. The problem was a misconception and miscommunication between myself and this person and his/her friends. And it isn't pretty to think about relationships being harmed due to lame judgements and walls being built. I think we're all supposed to love each other, but it doesn't work out that way in a lot of cases.

But what to do now? What to do when your life feels a little too similar to Mean Girls? Write a Burn Book? Nah, I've seen how that one turns out. Do I set out to try and change that individual's mind? Now that seems like it will only fail - once someone slaps a big old FAKE sign to your forehead, anything you do to change that title will just get categorized as more fake behavior. Seems like kind of a Catch 22 right? But I think that deep down I know what to do.

Let it be. Move on. Be myself. Try to see what actions of mine made that person say that to me and do my best to grow personally. Genuinely love that person and others like her/him anyway. Be thankful for the friends and family who see me for who I am. Allow this person and other people who have opinions about me to change their minds in their own time if they want. Let go of hurt feelings and bitterness, because that will only keep the walls there. It is my job to hold up my end of the friendship deal, whether it is reciprocated or not.

But I am actually almost thankful for this little experience. It wasn't pleasant, let me tell you. Still isn't. But it made me ask myself: What other labels do people attach to who you are? What labels do you assign to other people? Are you holding up your end of the friendship with people like you should? I think I've grown to be a stronger friend and person by having these questions in my head during the last little segment of my life. I've learned a little bit more about what it means to value being faithful in friendship.

And that is important. Because all this stuff about loving others, friendship, and forgiveness? That stuff is the real deal.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Truffs. (Truffles.)

Get with it with the abbrevs. I hope you're catching on.

I'm no Rachel Ray. My palate is about as refined as a 7-11 on a Friday night. (Weird simile, sorry.) But I appreciate good food from time to time. Know what I appreciate most of all? Delicious chocolate truffles. Thanks to my dear friend Nicole and her famous truffle recipe, I was able to make this delicious confection possible. Let me take you through the process. This is your list of ingredients:

2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 bags of milk chocolate chips
1 stick of butter or margarine
1 cup crushed chocolate cookie
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 bag white chocolate chips (or white chocolate bark)

Let's DO this thing. Step #1: Stand in awe of the caloric value on your kitchen counter. It is truly mind-boggling. Let it sink in...and move on. These things are worth it.

Step #2: Put the butter and heavy whipping cream in a saucepan. Bring those ingredients to a boil.

Step #3: Add ONE of the bags of milk chocolate chips to the boiling mixture. Once the chocolate is melted, stir in the crushed chocolate cookies.

Step #4: Pour the contents of the aforementioned saucepan onto an aluminum-foil-lined cookie sheet. Put in the fridge.

Step #5: Take the cooled mixture and form into little chocolate balls, like pictured above. This will be the filling of your truffles. Put them back in the fridge or freezer to make sure they stay all together.

Step #6: Before you started this process, you added a little oil to all the chocolate chips you melt (both milk and white chocolate). Just letting you know what you did already. Now melt the OTHER bag of milk chocolate chips and dunk the truffles you already started forming in the melted chocolate. Like above. Put back in the fridge to cool.

Step #7: This is where those white chocolate chips come in (remember you already put a little oil in there?). Melt them. In the microwave. It's the easiest way. 

Step #8: Use a spoon to drizzle the melted white chocolate on top of the truffles, like so. It makes it look all fancy. (Nicole, the originator of this recipe, cringes when I do this step. She is much more OCD and neat whilst drizzling. Personally, I like to take the Jackson Pollock approach. It's more authentic.) Then put the whole shebang back in the fridge or freezer to cool. Again. Lots of cooling in this routine.

Step #9: Make a bunch of other sugar and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for kicks and giggles.

Step #10: Put all of your deliciousness on festive plates and deliver to friends and neighbors. You are 100% guaranteed to successfully spread Christmas cheer. 

Bada bing, bada boom. Truffle on, brave readers. Truffle on.