Tuesday, November 20, 2012

K's Sweet Potato Pie!

K’s Sweet Potato Pie
What I think makes this different is my exclusive use of brown sugar. I do this quite a bit in my baking. I was trying to perfect the recipe - back to what I remember, and I eliminated white sugar entirely - i think that the caramel flavor of brown sugar enhances the potatoes - while the white sugar is just overly sweet. Sometimes, I throw in a little extra vanilla too. :-) If you make this, let me know how it turns out and if you made any adjustments!

2 cups sweet potatoes (approximately 3 medium sweet potatoes)
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs beaten
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°

After boiling sweet potatoes, mash them along with butter and eggs.

In another bowl combine sugar, flour and salt then mix with potatoes.

Mix butter, milk and baking soda. Add to potatoes.

Add vanilla.

Fill pie crust.

Bake for 70 minutes or until firm and fork tines come out clean.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Whirlwind Weekend

Wow, what a weekend! Niece came in from Texas, I got together with Tasha and it was Boyfriend's birthday. Plus it's the weekend before Thanksgiving. And I managed to squeeze in a little clothes shopping - three new sweaters and a cute little denim skirt that goes nicely with my new boots. I just need some colored tights - I found some funky ones and some black and white striped ones - totally cute.

Anyway, we went to Medieval Times to celebrate as it was Boyfriend's birthday. I think I had been when I was much younger but nothing really rang a bell when we were there. We had fun, I had too much beer and got a flower from my Blue Knight.

And yes, I'm pretty sure he's sporting a (knightly) mullet. :-) The horsemanship was amazing which was good because the food was not. Lol. But I had a fun couple sitting to my left and engaged them regularly. Unfortunately, Boyfriend got stuck sitting next to a comatose man who seemed to enjoy nothing. All in all, an evening well spent. Gimmicky and silly, but we gave in to the gimmick and had a great time.

I gave Boyfriend a bunch of Spurs stuff, including a pez dispenser - because who doesn't need pez??

I also found a place that serves a very traditional English breakfast - something he's been missing. This place is A-DOOR-A-BULL - I mean totally cute, in every way, shape and form. We were seated by a window on the second floor.

And I was served my coffee in cute blue and white china:

Comfy leather furniture (which is usually an oxymoron in my world) and soft green wallpaper (something else that is usually a no-no in my book) and lots and lots of hardwood - it was as sumptuous as the food:

I can't wait to come back and have irish coffee(s) by the fireplace. And then Boyfriend can drive my drunken irish (and swedish) butt home and pour me into bed. Lol. I'm sure he's looking forward to that as well (rofl).

I'm glad Boyfriend enjoyed his weekend and while it was chock full of doings, I have to admit, I enjoyed the weekend as well. Even with the corniness - if you buy into it, it's fun. The horses were amazing and I don't mind getting flowers, even from mulleted men I don't know.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Blame it on my ADD, baby...

Talks on the benefits of gaming!

I love when I find articles that not only excuse my bad behavior but encourage my goofy tenancies. :P

So, it seems, if I don't spend my Sundays gaming and doing laundry, my ADD will be worse! And we certainly don't want that! Some choice bits from the studies:

"...playing 5 to 15 hours a week of video games correlates with better vision — and the ability to see more detail in the context of clutter."

"...people who play video games are better able to keep track of objects around them — while the average person can track three objects effectively, video gamers can track six to seven objects. They’re also better able to multitask in general."

Which then leads me to another blog post - Games with a social purpose!

Sooo, while this means I won't succumb to the previous insanity I once experienced, I'm not about to give up killing Yeti!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Oooo oooo vindaloo...

So last night found an exhausted K sitting across the table from a perky and chatty Boyfriend. I need to start looking to make another change though I'm a little hesitant given other things going on. I've been so tired the last few days - the stress from work is getting to me. But we happily dined on chicken vindaloo - which I cannot get enough of these days. I think I could bathe in vindaloo sauce. We had a lamb naan and spinach rice. The food was almost as good as the company.

I also took a sip of Boyfriend's Taj beer and OMG that was delicious, even if I was in a masala tea mood and not so much a beer mood (I know, I know...weird - but I was tired). They served it blissfully cold and it was light and bubbly. I really enjoyed it. He tried to give me more, either to get me drunk and have his wicked way with me or to get me to un-stress after the day I'd had. Given his thoughtful ways, the latter is more likely though I wouldn't put the former past him either. :P

Everything seems to be on hold while he and I figure out what we're doing. Last month had me a little nervous but it turned out to be just that, nerves. Lol. I know it's probably jumping the gun a little but I'm afraid to make any drastic changes until he and I get settled. We've talked about a number of things - all heading in the same direction but we haven't quite gotten there yet.

I'm not looking to rush things by any means...But I've been giving everything a lot of thought. Probably too much thought, lol. Anyway, it's late. I've WOW'ed for a bit, chatted with Boyfriend and now I must turn in. 6am comes far too soon and I want to listen to my book, 4th in the Joe Ledger series Assassins's Code. Sooooo good. :-)

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Story...

I said a stoic goodbye yesterday as she tumbled out of the minivan and onto the sidewalk, in the way that 10 year old kids do - jacket in one hand, prizes in another, left shoelace untied. Her pigails bouncing as she ran, she turned and waved again and yelled something in my direction. Bounding towards the doors of the group home where she lives, I watched her - could still feel her little hand in mine. And my eyes started to burn. I blinked rapidly and looked to the sky, mumbling something to my sister to distract myself.

We had just finished a day at Gameworks, preceded by burgers at some random restaurant nearby. If you're of the uninitiated, Gameworks is a two story building full of video games. You can win tickets for prizes (read: junk from China) and cash them in at the end of your visit. My sister, my mother, my nephew and, let's call her Tori (simply because I love that name, Victoria, and would happily name one of my own that) and I drove half an hour northwest to another Chicago suburb, where we had lunch and then spent hours playing air hockey and video games.

When I first laid eyes on Tori, my heart ached. She's got big brown eyes and she's quick to smile. She's polite and there is a sweetness to her, that little girl sweetness - I have no idea how she retained this. I give this kid credit. She's far stronger than I. I wanted to throw my arms around her and absorb all of her pain - take it all away from her, take it on for her so she could just be the little girl she's supposed to be. Not hurt or hurting.

Her story goes like this. Tori lives in the same group home/orphanage that my nephew did before coming to live with us. Tori is ten years old. Prior to the orphanage Tori lived in Southern Illinois. I don't know where exactly, and that is probably a good thing. While I tend to feel very sad and very heartbroken when I think of Tori, I also feel this volcanic rage that makes me want to do very bad things to some very deserving people - even at my own expense.

I am not a violent person. I don't usually get mad - irked, yeah. Annoyed, oh sure. But truly angry? Rarely. And acting on it? Hardly ever. However. There are certain things that make me want to change that about myself. Certain atrocities committed against animals and children that make me want to...return the favors.

I digress. Tori is adorable. She's got wavy brown hair and big brown eyes. She speaks with a little bit of - I don't know - a lisp, of sorts? It gives her a slightly babyish quality - granted, she still is a baby - but this makes her sound more like she's 5. Tori looks like every other 10 year old girl out there. There's nothing special or unique and at the same time she's is so very special and completely unique. She is beautiful. She is funny. She is smart. She, like all children, should be protected, nurtured and loved.

Tori comes from a family with a large but undetermined amount of siblings. When Tori was a baby her mother got married. Tori's father is in jail and I have no idea why. Tori's new step father, a known sex offender, took to abusing Tori right away. The calls to DCFS mounted to nearly 26 before a case worker actually went to visit their home and before any action was taken.

Tori was removed from the situation and ultimately landed in the therapeutic orphanage that my nephew was in. She was there for years as they worked on mending this little girl. One day a husband and wife show up. They're looking to foster a child with an eye to adopt. He's a professor and she's a teacher. They link up with Tori and after being vetted and going through the lengthy process, Tori goes home with them.

She lives there for months, incident free as far as I am aware. And then it all changes.

Tori is in what she's come to call her home. She's doing something, playing, I believe, and she accidentally steps on the paw of the family dog. Careless? Probably. Malicious? No way. Dog was not seriously injured. The husband and wife call the orphanage and say that Tori intentionally hurt their beloved pup. Tori tearfully insists that it was not intentional.

I believe her. I saw her with my mother's menagerie - she was kind and a little timid but thoughtful of them.

A little time goes by, and the husband and wife say that they are going camping, Tori cannot come with and they use respite care - this is provided by the orphanage during the initial years of fostering. It allows for a skilled care giver to be with the child while the foster parents are unable to be so. Given the history of many of these kids, it's the best thing for all parties.

They are supposed to return a week later. Instead, after a few days, they call the orphanage and say that they will not be picking Tori up. They do not tell her why. They do not tell her goodbye. She simply doesn't get to go back home.

Flash forward a couple of weeks. It's a windy fall Sunday and this little waif blows into my awareness. I cannot help but feel this instant love for her. I play her favorite pop band on my phone on the drive out, she bobs and sings along - making me laugh. Later, she slips her hand into mine to lead me around to the next thing she wants to do. Before we leave, she asks me to help her add her points so she can pick out her prizes.

As we are pulling up to the driveway of the orphanage she asks if there will be a next time. I immediately say yes, protocols be damned. I will see this little one again. And sooner rather than later. I watch her slip behind the walls of the orphanage. I can't imagine anyone ever wanting to harm her. All I could feel was an overwhelming desire to protect her, take her pain away, heal her, hold her close and never let go.

What kind of monster must one be to harm that sweet little thing? How horrid of a person must you be to intentionally inflict harm? How cruel and selfish can you be to not reflect upon the pain you have caused another creature? Or how about the couple who rejected her?

It's things like this that make me wish to believe in a supreme being that will equalize everything in the end. That will balance it all out, ultimately. What a comfort that would be - to think, those who harm another so coldly, so callously, only thinking about themselves - their gains, their needs - would have justice served upon them.

And even then, how would that help Tori? How would that repair any of the damage? It wouldn't. She would take no comfort in that - not really. Only those of us looking in would find that satisfying. And yet she would still be the little girl, who held my hand, who loves One Direction, whose pain is far deeper and who has a long way to go to put the pieces of herself back together....

There is no justice for Tori....

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Snowy + AWOLNATION = K-Love

Or "Never let your fear decide your fate"....

Ok, so what on earth do Snowy and AWOLNATION have in common? They're both RIGHT! Hehe. Not that I've ever doubted the sage words of Snowy. But when they're repeated in one of your most favorite songs ever by one of your most favorite bands ever - well, it's pretty hard to ignore.

So I was driving around this weekend, lots of stuff going on and, of course, since Boyfriend's very thoughtful present, I've been able to play all sorts of wonderful music in Mia. And I was in an AWOLNATION mood. So I had the radio turned up and was happily singing along  song after song - you know when you understand somethings meaning - I mean I got it - it wasn't lost on me but suddenly I internalized it. 

It hit me finally (yeah yeah yeah, blame the tin foil hat or the shortbus) how applicable that quote really is. It's easy to let our fears hold us back. It's easier to live a risk free life - but even then, there are no guarantees, though maybe the risks are minimized - I don't know. And that's what I did...

But that's not living.

For so long, for far too long, I let fear decide my fate. I'm not even sure what I was afraid of. In the past year, I've experienced more life than I did in the couple of years prior and I can't even begin to understand why. It all made sense to me at the time and I defended my choices to the people who tried to call me out (or I at least ignored you, lol) - yet here I am, looking back and I can't explain any of it.

I'm out here, in the world, and it's not scary - not really. It's fun, and amazing, and awe inspiring. It's funny, and sad, and crazy and tiresome and beautiful but it's not scary. I still wear the tinfoil hat so the mothership can locate me but in the meantime, I'm going to chill out here with my fellow refugees and enjoy living.

 In case you live under a larger rock than I:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa,

Since my neighbors have hung up their garland and a few ornaments already, I figure it's not too early to send you my list.

1) A pony or unicorn. No, I will never stop asking for this.
2) A Dunkin Donuts that follows me around dispensing XL cups of coffee, cream and sugar.
3) Obama for another term or 6.
4) A bowl of chewy sweethearts that replenishes itself.
5) A working Mitt Romney voodoo doll.
6) A closet full of sparkle purses and shoes.
7) Everyone must read http://factcheck.org/ before opening their mouths to spout off on the latest political idiocy.
8) The ability to fly or at least ride clouds.
9) Hello Kitty as my real pet.
10) A cure for the worlds ills.
11) A pony.
12) Nail polish that doesn't chip.
13) A helper monkey.
14) A pony.
15) A clear bubble around me that is a bug free zone at all times.
16) Bring my Abby back.
17) More love in the world, fewer hurts and even less hate.
18) Soap that tastes as good as it smells.
19) A pony.
20) For people to realize that when they take a little girl in, she is not disposable, she is not going to fit into your predetermined cookie cutter shape and you should not be allowed to take the cowards way out - and you take her as she is, maybe she's a little damaged, but you work with her because there's still light left in her eyes. And you love her because that's all she really needs.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Blast From The Not So Distant Past

LMAO - I was going through some files on my website, wanting to eventually rebuild the site so that it's a little more relevant and I found some stuff relating to Evony that just made me laugh, some of you will appreciate this:

http://www.yellek.net/evony/AlfredE20101111.jpg - this was sorta mean.

http://www.yellek.net/evony/bamf.htm - BAMF contest.

http://www.yellek.net/evony/buttercup.htm - Old logo.

http://www.yellek.net/evony/contest.htm - Contest rules.

http://www.yellek.net/evony/G%20in%20WC1.gif - G in WC - oops. I have other classic WC fails saved somewhere.

http://www.yellek.net/evony/k.htm - Random stuff.

http://www.yellek.net/evony/music.htm - Ah, a playlist of sorts that I had created.

http://www.yellek.net/evony/XIII.jpg - 13's logo.

http://www.yellek.net/evony/results32110.htm - Contest results.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Meet The Family....

The day was hectic, as work days often are. Meetings, phone calls and a server hiccough or two - it was a pretty standard Friday. The frenetic buzz in my head though had nothing to do with work. 

I've turned into a girl lately - more so than before with my sparkly nail polish and love of purses. I started the day by pulling on a pair of tights, knee high black boots and a cowl neck sweater-dress that fell above the knee - all purchased for this day - well, this evening, rather. Nothing makes a girl feel better than a pair of tall boots and a cute dress.

These boots are a far cry from the tall steel toed combat boots of my youth. Falling just below my knee and fitted around my calves, with a low heel. And the dress is a random pattern of stripes in black and shades of grey. While I may be feeling a bit more girly lately, my color palette has not shifted into pink and sea foam. I retained the deep red glitter nail polish and my Riot Fest purse - it looks like a 1950's car interior. Shiny black, red sparkly front pocket and chrome detailing:

My coworkers, who are used to seeing me in t-shirts and jeans, stared in disbelief when I turned up that morning - a few even commented. I think some thought they were hallucinating or were hungover from the night before. 

I digress. The fuss that I was making was because directly after work, there were reservations for four at a nice little Italian restaurant. A place for me, a place for my mother, a setting for my eldest sister and one spot for (dun, dun, dun!!!) Boyfriend. The worlds were about to collide and be irrevocably altered. Boyfriend would see that when I said "it's genetic" I really meant it and the family would see the person who kept me out late and drove me to distraction - enough so that I forgot things like birthdays. 

It's been a long time since I brought someone "home to meet the family". This had significant implications for me - expectations and, oh, I don't know - it just had implications!! And I had been dreading the thought prior but by the time the day arrived, I wasn't as apprehensive. I still had reservations, of course, but not nearly to the extent that I had leading up to that fateful Friday. 

We arrived early, Boyfriend and I. The evening was a bit chilly and I had forgotten to wear a coat. My sweater dress, while all sweater, was no match for a brisk Chicagoland breeze. We stood outside for a bit, I watched him smoke - white streams of nervous smoke pushed into the universe. I inspected every car for signs of my relations. 

They arrived and I introduced them awkwardly through the rolled down passenger window as they waited for the valet to come take their vehicle. We walked in together and waited for a few moments while they sorted out our reservations and our table. We were seated and once drinks were ordered - a bottle of wine for the three of them, a diet Coke for me - it was on. 

I felt like the bell had been run for a boxing match to begin. I knew the microscope was on Boyfriend but thankfully, they (mom and sis) were able to do it tactfully. The conversation ebbed and flowed while we scanned the menu. Appetizers were ordered as the wine was poured. We toasted. Boyfriend no longer seemed like he had vultures circling above him and my family no longer seemed like they suspected him of having dismembered bodies in his closet. 

In fact, there was quite a bit of laughter, lots of talking, good food. I think I was abnormally quiet, letting the two factions get acquainted which presented no problems whatsoever. Once after dinner coffee was consumed, we stood and made our way to the door. We said our goodbyes and got into our cars - unscathed. Not that I was expecting a blood bath by any means but there is always the possibility...

All in all, it went quite well and rave reviews came from both sides. 

I am a very lucky girl. I think it's the boots. :-)