I Miss Spring!

This week we’re supposed to hit triple digits. Summer has come and it looks like it’s here to stay. That means I’ve had to close up the apartment and turn on the air conditioner, so we don’t bake to death! I appreciate that the heat here in Southern California isn’t sweltering and sticky like it is back in Texas, but I really don’t like heat, either way. I like Spring temperatures.

Spring is my favorite season. It’s the time of year when everything turns green again and looks beautiful, before the heat of summer bakes all life out of it again. It’s the time of year when it’s not too cold and not too hot. You can feel comfortable with your windows open, and most of the time you don’t even need a fan. I get a lot of my cooking and baking done during the Spring, because it’s just too damn hot to heat up my whole house with my stove or oven during the summer, and during the winter, I’m busy making things that will keep you warm, so I don’t really have time to experiment.

I also like Spring because my birthday is smack in the middle of it. I know that as soon as everything has turned lush and green and beautiful, we’ll be celebrating me, and who doesn’t love that?

I think the season I like least of all is Winter. Winter in Texas meant cold, rainy weather, and it was always overcast and gloomy. Everything looked ugly. The trees were bare, the ground was wet and brown, and the sky was always the ugliest shade of gray. It made me want to curl into a ball and just cry all the time! Here, it’s not so bad. We just have to deal with the horrible smog that stagnates over us toward the end of winter, but for the most part it stays fairly warm here, because of the Santa Ana winds. But, that is the main reason I dislike winter here. Santa Ana winds make you miserable! They’re so hot and dry that you feel like you’re shriveling up and cracking everywhere. The winds suck every little drop of moisture out of your body, so if you don’t constantly inhale water like it’s going out of style, you end up with chapped lips, and cracked, bloody hands.

This post is in response to the Daily Prompt.


I Can’t Live Without My Olive Oil!

Today’s Daily Prompt was an interesting one, and being a foodie and lover of all things cooking- and baking-related, I feel it’s aptly appropriate for my blog.

I must have olive oil in my kitchen. I use it in almost every single dish I make, and I’ve been known to even use it as a substitute for butter in cakes (honestly, I can’t taste a difference, and olive oil is very good for you, so why not?) I am not lying when I say I go through at least a full-sized bottle every month. I love olive oil! I even occasionally use it on my hair! It’s that good.

I don’t do vegetable oil or canola oil. We rarely ever eat deep-fried foods, so the few times I do make it, I just use olive oil for frying them, too. It’s my go-to, all-purpose oil. I use butter in almost every recipe that calls for it, but when I’m making a box of Rice-a-roni, like the Broccoli au Gratin flavor, I just substitute half the amount of butter for olive oil. It doesn’t actually need butter, olive oil is close at hand, and I don’t have to use as much. It’s a win all the way around.

I’m sure if you asked my husband what one ingredient is a necessary staple in our kitchen, he’d come back with an answer about some sort of pasta or bread. Maybe a cheese. That’s just him! While I tend to agree with him in a way, I still think my olive oil is more important.

By the way, have I done this prompt before? It seems strangely familiar now that I’m sitting here writing about it.

Another ingredient I use a lot in my cooking is cayenne. Well, actually two. I use a lot of cayenne and a lot of paprika. I especially love the smoked paprika I get from Trader Joe’s. It smells delicious and adds a beautiful spicy, smoky flavor to the dishes I add it to. I like sprinkling a little cayenne into pots of food I’m making to give them a hint of that hot, spicy bite. I try not to overpower them with it though, and cayenne is an easy spice to overpower your food with.

I’ve also fallen in love with cardamom. It’s delicious when you add a little into a bowl of hot oatmeal with some cinnamon and allspice. I just do a pinch of it in a bowl of oatmeal, because cardamom is another spice you need very little of. It’s so fragrant that I’ve been known to stand in front of my spice cupboard just sniffing the jar!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies Equal Love

When I was a little girl, we would go visit my great-grandparents in the boonies of Southwestern Nebraska. Every time we’d visit, my great grandma would always have ice cream buckets full of cookies waiting for us in her pantry. My grandmother says that my great grandma started doing that when my dad was little because he loved her cookies so much. We knew when we got there that we’d find big buckets filled to the brim with different flavors of cookies for us to dig into.

Her house always smelled like fresh oatmeal raisin cookies when we’d arrive. I think she baked those cookies last, because they were my dad’s favorite. You could smell them from her driveway! It was like a big sign saying, “Welcome to Grandma’s!” in scent form.

My great grandma passed away a couple of months ago. She outlived my great grandpa by a good twenty years and was 100 years old. She had a full life, and it was her time to go. I don’t mourn her passing because she was ready and was tired. I’m not religious at all, but I like to think there’s a star up in the sky that’s her watching over me now. I do miss her. I miss being able to call her and ask for recipes or just general advice on things. I value having grandmothers to go to for common-sense, since I sometimes seem to lose my own on a regular basis!

The smell that reminds me of my grandmother is fresh-cut grass. She had this amazing, lush, soft lawn that we kids would play on all day long. The smell of Colorado Spruce also reminds me of her, because she used to have a giant spruce tree right outside her dining room window. When we’d visit her, we loved playing in her yard because her grass was always freshly cut and felt so good on our bare feet.

My grandma also always had a loaf of freshly baked bread for us to eat while we were there. I like to think that I got my knack for baking from my grandmothers, and I do love a good, fresh loaf of bread straight out of my bread maker! It’s like a little slice of memories served up with melted butter and happiness.

I call my grandma as often as I can remember to. I miss her a lot! When I was really little, we’d visit her all the time, and each of us girls would get to spend a week at her house all by ourselves each summer. When my parents moved us to Texas, that all changed, and I sometimes feel like I got cheated out of a really close relationship with her because of that. But, I still have memories, and the smell of fresh-cut grass, Colorado Spruce, and warm bread always reminds me of her!

Which brings me to my latest ear worm, which is all about finding your roots along your path of life. Enjoy!

This post is in response to the Daily Prompt.

Ahhhhhhh, January!

January is officially here in SoCal. We have the gloomy smog and morning fog and marine layer to prove it. I’ve noticed something about January’s around here, since this is my second new year spent in Los Angeles, and that is that January is when everything starts looking really damn ugly.

It seems that, for the most part, Santa Ana winds and off-shore breezes keep smog from collecting in the inland basin through much of the late fall and early winter, but when January hits, everything seems to stagnate over us, and a deep layer of nasty smog settles in. I remember last year, we actually had an air advisory which mandated that people not burn anything in their fireplaces or grills unless they were low-income and needed to do so for warmth, because our air had gotten so thick, grimy, and nasty that any added housing exhaust like this would exacerbate breathing issues people had.


This picture doesn’t even do our January smog layer justice!

I’m one of the people living here who really enjoys looking at the Foothills as I’m driving or even outside walking, and this smog makes that impossible. You can’t see anything. I’d venture to say that it reduces visibility to a mile. Our mountains are beautiful, and that is why I hate our January smog. I want to be able to gawk at them, and when smog obscures them, it makes me feel gloomy.

This post is in response to the Daily Prompt.

Blog Action Day: Why I Fight Inequality

Inequality is the ugliest of human traits and creations. From the beginning of the human race, we’ve treated each other differently based on many different factors. Today, inequality takes many forms, and they are just as nasty as they’ve always been. Women are treated as lesser because they seem to not possess the strength or fortitude of men; different races are mistreated and even killed based on the color of their skin; followers of non-Christian religions are shunned and even targeted because we don’t understand their beliefs; people who do not have the means to live above poverty are targets of the most vile insults; those who love people of their own gender still get targeted and killed for these feelings. None of this makes a person better than those who are treated unequal.

I hope that one day humanity can rise above inequality and learn to coexist with each other peacefully and without prejudice. I want a world where everyone is truly treated as equals, and there are no caste or class systems that exist to subject certain individuals to extra hardship based on a set of arbitrary rules laid out by those who believe themselves to be better than all the rest. Until we can eradicate inequality and prejudice from our minds and from our way of thinking, we will never truly evolve to be more than animals. At this point, we’re no better than a flock of chickens. When they sense that one of their own is somehow injured or unable to stand up for itself, they will gang up on that lesser chicken and kill it. This is the same thing we do to each other every single day.

As I noted, inequality comes in so many forms. It’s not limited to racism or sexism, though these are the two most well-known forms. To be poor means you are the target of prejudice every day. You get judged based on every action you take and every possession you have. To be poor and a minority means you receive extra scrutiny. Women still do not experience true equality in this world. We get held to a different standard than our male counterparts while being expected to accept less as payment for our work and services. We are expected to perform jobs men would not perform, and are judged when we asked to do a job that is seen as a stereotypical male role. Gays, lesbians, and transgender people are bullied and killed every day for daring to show their true form instead of conforming to our heterosexual-centric world. We’re just now starting to see them be able to have proper weddings and get legally married in more than just a couple states in the US.

I’ve spoken at length in several blog posts about racism. It is the puss of America’s and the world’s festering wound. Until we clean this infection from us and heal the hurt and damage it has caused, we will not see the end of it. We must ALL work towards promoting equality for everyone. To be silent about this injustice means you are complicit and consent to it occurring. I’m not just talking about white-on-minority racism, either. Minorities take part in this sick circus just as much as those of us with fair complexions do. I’m glad we’ve gotten to a time where words like ni**er are considered curse words and taboo, though I wish that along with this word being off-limits, we’d also condemn those who use the terms “beaner,” “wetback,” “chink,” “white trash,” “cracker,” “raghead,” etc. NONE of these should be considered acceptable, and those who use them should be roundly called out until they change their ways.

Every person has the same potential as anyone else does. To assign them a label that automatically puts them at a disadvantage is to hamper our progress as a whole. Just because a person is gay does not mean they do not have the ability to become the next great quantum physicist, much the same as just because someone is Hindu does not mean they do not show promise to be an excellent banker or veterinarian. When you assign people boxes, you limit what they can do as an individual, and this should not be the case.

So, stand up to inequality the next time you see it. Don’t just turn your eyes away and pretend nothing is going on. To do so means you’ve just acknowledged this poor behavior and agree with it. The only way we will change this and stop inequality is to all rise up against it and demand that it end.

This post is in response to the Daily Prompt. Please join me in participating in Blog Action Day, when bloggers from all over the world stand up against inequality.

If I Could Add Another Hour to my Day

I’d spend the extra hour sleeping. I’d put it smack-dab in the middle of darkness, and use it to catch extra Z’s. I’m serious. Days are too short as it is, and too much has to be done for me to go to bed early most days, so adding an extra hour of sleep would be amazing for me.

Having Fibromyalgia means I have to get a certain number of hours of sleep, or I’m screwed for the rest of the day, and possibly the next couple, as well. When I skimp on my sleep, it makes me hurt. It makes me a crabby bitch. Not getting enough sleep means I, and everyone around me, suffer greatly for my mistake. I wouldn’t be hurt at all by adding an hour to my sleep time, because I don’t feel I get enough as it is, and that’s not by choice.

When I was thinking about this, I first thought I’d add the extra hour to late evening, so I’d have an extra hour to spend with my husband while the kiddo is in bed, but I think we get enough time as it is, and sleep would be more important than that. Plus, I think even he could use an extra hour of sleep. I don’t think he gets enough as it is! He probably feels otherwise, considering he always comes to bed after I have long since passed out, but I think he’d benefit greatly from having an extra hour.

What would you do with an extra hour added to the day? If we had 25 hour days instead of 24, how would you spend that extra hour?

This post is in response to the Daily Prompt.

Also, while you’re here, please take a moment, if you haven’t already, to vote on my poll for what regular feature you’d like to see me do.

What the Hell?!

We woke up this morning to discover our coffee maker is broken. I have no idea how or why, but it won’t brew or heat the pot. We had it set to “delay brew” for 6:00 AM and when we got up at 6:30, it was on, but nothing was happening. I can’t figure out how to fix it or what went wrong with it and I want to cry! This is my favorite coffee maker. It’s a beautiful cherry red color.  I loved it from the minute I set eyes on it in Big Lots, and I just had to have it, even going so far as demanding their shelf model when they couldn’t find any that were in boxes.

Our coffee makers never seem to last long. They always seem to crap out after about a year. I don’t know if it’s because we drink so much coffee in this house or the quality of the water or what. Thankfully, we had another coffee maker in the front closet I dragged out to make coffee with this morning, but I want to cry over my baby! I love this coffee maker!

It seemed to be working perfectly just yesterday. I had just decalcified it with a 50/50 solution of distilled white vinegar a couple of days ago. I was determined when we got this machine that it would last forever, so I tried to make sure I kept it working. Honestly, though, I don’t think it’s calcium build-up that broke it this time, since not even the little burner under the pot is working. This worries me, because it indicates it’s probably something broken on the little electronic card in the machine. I won’t even know where to start on fixing that.

So, we’re back to using our ugly black coffee maker. I have to admit, that coffee maker has lasted longer than any other one has. It just keeps trucking when all of the others break on us. That’s why I keep it around. It’s our “backup.” I don’t like the way it looks, and since the display features an analog clock instead of a digital one, I can’t program it, so that leaves my husband running it.

Which brings us to a fun fact: I can’t read analog clocks! I never have been able to, no matter how hard I try to figure them out.

This post is in response to the Daily Prompt.

I’m Your Resident Coffee and Wine Snob

I have learned both of these obsessions from my dear husband, and I thank him dearly for showing me the finer things in life! Not only am I snobbish about wine and coffee, but I’m a little peculiar about cheese. This practically brings my poor cheese-loving Swiss husband to tears. I can’t stand his favorite cheeses.

My coffee must be dark roast, preferably the darker, the better. We routinely drink French roast or espresso roast in our drip coffee maker. In fact, a couple of years ago we discovered this fantastic “deal” on coffee through Amazon: a 5 lb. bag of whole bean Italian espresso roast coffee. Yes, we consume this entire bag in a little over a month! It’s fantastic both as regularly brewed coffee and as a great espresso.

I’m also a huge wine snob. I can’t stand cheap wine! My favorite brand is a great bottle of Moët & Chandon. Of course, living a champagne lifestyle on a beer budget isn’t exactly an option for us, so I don’t get this very often; we get to indulge maybe twice a year. It’s worth it, though. I still want to try Veuve Clicquot. Since Veuve Clicquot is nearly twice the price of a bottle of Moët & Chandon around here, I still haven’t had the opportunity to taste it.

As far as cheese goes, I dislike all of the cheeses that smell and taste like sweaty socks. They gross me out. My husband loves a good Brie or Camembert, but I just want to hurl chunks smelling them! I like “normal” cheeses like cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan. I’ve tried all of his “fancy” cheeses, as I call them, and cannot stomach the smell or flavor! I still buy them for him to enjoy, but I pass on them.

What are some things you’re snobbish about?

This post is in response to the Daily Prompt.

A Stranger in Los Angeles

I’m not sure anyone would have that hard of a time visiting LA and acclimating to the local customs and traditions. I also don’t really know if there’s any local slang, beyond the fact that our interstates are all freeways, and you don’t call them “I-10” or “I-405” but rather “The 10” and “The 405.” Since we’re such a large city, it’s not usually hard to find something, somewhere that will make you feel at home.

The only issue I had when we moved here was the fact that people don’t seem to like it when you’re brutally honest and speak your mind. I’ve found that when you say exactly how you feel, that usually ends with major drama. Being the type of person who doesn’t sugar-coat anything, I think this is the hardest part of our move here. It’s harder than having to learn how to get from one place to another or anything else. It just seems that people in Los Angeles really do not like honesty, and they’d prefer little white lies over the cold, hard truth most of the time.

The only other thing that I can think of that might drive someone a little mad who visits here is the parking rules for some streets. Sometimes, they’re just so confusing, it’s better that you find somewhere else to park. Signs like this will leave you scratching your head for hours!


This post is in response to the Daily Prompt.

So, tell me in the comments what would be the strangest thing about your town’s local customs, traditions, hangouts, or slang for a first-time visitor?