Two Things: The Ill-Fated Cake Ball and A Christmas Announcement

Thing 1: The Tale of the Ill-Fated Cake Ball

A few weeks ago, my friends and I had a cake ball making night.  My friend Ashley hosted it.  She was showing me the cake balls which she had pre-rolled for us to decorate.  In a flurry of excitement, she told me about the gluten-free cake balls and the vanilla cake balls at the same time.  I got confused.  And I ate a whole cake ball.  A whole glutened cake ball.

Now let me explain something to you – I am really gluten intolerant.  It is not a lifestyle choice, a fad or a psychosomatic thing. Here are my reactions:

  • A few crumbs or cross-contamination – acne-like rash on face for about a month.
  • 1/8 a teaspoon of a gluten-containing ingredient – Vomiting for four hours.
  • Any more than that – A week of vomiting/other unfun stuff that I will not write about on this blog, ever.

This cake ball contained more gluten than I’ve ingested cumulatively in past six-and-a-half years.  Thankfully, I realized that I ate the wrong cake ball within just a few minutes.  When the discovery was made, my friends and I all looked at each other, all wondering what I should do, and all of us knowing what had to be done.

So I excused myself, went to the bathroom, turned on the loud vent fan, and gagged myself until I puked.  I did it twice, you know, just to be sure.

It felt just like the after-school special I once watched on bulimia. (The very after school special that taught me how to gag myself).  There I was, hunched over the toilet, turning on the fan to dull the noise, sticking my fingers down my throat.  Yes, I decided, I was a cautionary tale.  Only mine was about eating a cake ball, not a life-threatening eating disorder.

In my moment of desperation and melodrama, all I could hear in my head was the Jessie Spano I’m So Excited freak-out song she sings after becoming “addicted to caffeine pills”.  Yes, children of the 80’s, you all know what I’m talking about.  She screams “I’m so excited, I’m so excited.” And then falling to a heap of tears and early-90’s fashion, she’s caught by Zach Morris, and finally she lets out, “I’m so, I’m so SCARED.”

So I was glutened, and then I was throwing up, and then I was laughing to myself about Saved By the Bell.  But somewhere in there, it worked.  I didn’t have even the smallest reaction.  I was very proud of my mental fortitude.

BTW – bulimia isn’t funny, and if it’s something you struggle with, please find someone to talk to.

Thing 2: Christmas Blog Series!

Get excited because my first guest blog series starts tomorrow!  During the month of November and a bit of December, I will be hosting guest blogs every Tuesday and Thursday.  I’ve asked friends from all stages of life, from all around the world, and with diverse tastes, to suggest ten Christmas present ideas.  My guest bloggers are men, women, young moms, hip grandmas.  Some are stay at home moms, some have Ph.D.s.  They hail from Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, Massachusets, Australia and England.  Some shop at Pottery Barn and others make their own gifts.

As the guest posts have rolled in over the past week, I have been so inspired by everyone’s amazing gift ideas, and I know you will be too!  So tune in every Tuesday and Thursday.

Make sure to follow my blog by clicking the follow button on the right hand column so that you don’t miss a single Christmas list!

My Instagrammed Life

My life changed a few months ago.  Yes, changed.  My mom and I traded iPods.  She had mercy on me after seeing my not-smart phone that only calls people and my old iPod that didn’t have a camera.  Since she has a fancy phone now and since she wanted to listen to my music, we switched.  Now life has changed.  I have Instagram.  Finally, I can record the minutia of my day for all to see.  Yes, the sky is bluer the grass is greener.  There’s no rose-colored glasses for me.  No, I look at life through funky 70’s photography filters.

In honor of this time with Instagram, I present to you, a slice of my Instagrammed Life.

After going camping without access to a camp fire (more on that later), I came home with the urge to eat S’Mores.  So I made some with my flambe torch.  This was not as successful as I would have hoped.  It actually wasn’t successful at all.  Unless, of course, you think that burned mini marshmallows and unmelted chocolate make successful S’Mores.

Gluten-Free, Allergy-Free Expo swag!  (I bought the books and some of the mixes).

I watched The Professor and his grading assistant grade some tests.

Then I got some good advice about good advice.

Charlie demonstrated that his life is difficult and that we should all feel sorry for him.

While he continued napping, I tackled this scary stack and my to-do list.  Boom.

I made a horrible dinner – detailed here – and then memorialized the equally grotesque lunch leftovers for all my Twitter followers to see.

After said failed dinner and the subsequent aftermath, I tried to will Big Truck Tacos to work their plastic cup magic and make all my dishes magically clean.  Surprisingly, it didn’t work.

In a matter of 20 seconds, Charlie and Pippa went from being friends to being frenemies.  I also caught the greatest pissy face Pippa has ever produced.

Photo by accidentalokiePhoto by accidentalokie

I broke my work phone and then got a fancy new work phone with a handle and everything.

I asked The Professor what he wanted for his birthday dessert.  He picked crème brûlée.

We had a cold front.  Pippa celebrated.

I made Ina Garten’s roasted Brussels sprouts just like my friend Diane taught me.  Yum.

I caught Charlie trying to kiss my husband.

Girl’s night.

I found the strangest birthday card at Target.  I guess there’s a card for everything now, even a card that says – Mom, I don’t like you very much, and that’s okay.  Don’t worry.  I got a better card for my mom.  And then forgot to mail it.  It’s sitting on my coffee table.  But on the up side, it’s not this card.

And through it all, Charlie’s life continued on track.

Where’d You Go?

Oh, I mean, Where’d I go?

Sorry for my blogging break.  I was under the weather last week and some of the week before.  I sort of just took a break from life during that time.  Here are some especially intriguing highlights of my week and a half:

1. The Professor asking if he could lay his head in my lap while were on the sofa and me defining my perimeter (about a foot around my entire body) and warning him not to cross it.

2. Almost throwing up at the sight of wet cat food.

3. Sleeping during my lunch break on my hard office floor, using a pashmina for a pillow.

4. Not blogging.

5. Not cooking.

6. Laundry?  What’s laundry?

7. Not answering any emails to clients.

8. Basically buying stock in Pacific Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup.

9 – 10: Watching Hart of Dixie, which I love because it reminds me of Gilmore Girls.

But I’m better and I’m back.  And I still love that soup.  And I even cooked this weekend.

The end.

Sometimes A Win is a Win

I made a big dinner two nights ago.  It was supposed to be an amazing blog post based on a recipe I’ve made a few times before – pasta with a bacon mushroom béchamel sauce and sauteed veggies.

But this time it was an absolute disaster.

It started out good – bacon and a Dutch oven.  What could go wrong, right?

Everything, apparently.

I wanted to have a bit of bacon flavor in the veggies.  That didn’t work.  Greasy, burned bacon grit quickly coated my beautiful bell pepper and zucchini.  I ended up rinsing the veggies out in the colander.  It semi-salvaged the operation.

Next in Operation: Kill Dinner, I mistimed the beautiful Tinkyada pasta.  It was a mushy mess.  I rinsed it in cold water to stop the cooking process, which made it a cold, mushy mess.

And the béchamel sauce took a lot longer to thicken.  By the time it finished, the veggies were cold and didn’t reheat like I thought they would when intersected the hot sauce.

The cold pasta probably had something to do that. 

The mushroom flavor didn’t infuse into the sauce like I hoped.  Then my camera’s battery died, so now I can’t even salvage a tutorial on making a gluten-free roux out of the whole mess.  It was a total fail.

We ate it for dinner because A – we have a food budget and B – I didn’t have time to make anything else.  Shockingly, the next day when I was forced to eat it for lunch, the microwave didn’t magically transform the food into a culinary masterpiece.  It was still gross.  And mushy.  And a little lukewarm – but that one was my fault.  I guess I didn’t put it in the microwave long enough.

After we ate our icky dinner, we had to go straight to Bible study.  No time to clean the kitchen.  We got home and went to bed, and then got up and went to work the next morning.  (After I cleaned cat diarrhea off the floor).

Sorry – TMI.

And so yesterday when I got home, I was faced with an ethical dilemma: clean the kitchen or make dinner for The Professor, who was on the way home from a long day of teaching all day at school and then going to the local community college where he teaches a college class – because he’s an amazing provider like that. 

I chose making dinner.

And slightly redeemed myself with a half bag of sweet potato fries and a quick grilled chicken salad with apples, pecans, Parmesan cheese and a walnut-pomegranate balsamic vinaigrette recipe I’ve been tweaking for a post on fall salad dressings.

It was really good.  But then my kitchen looked like this.

Nights like these cause me to pause and redefine my definition of wins.  Some nights, you get the whole kitchen clean – floors mopped and everything.  And other nights, you’re lucky to get the perishables put back in the fridge and the dishwasher running. 

That’s okay because a win is a win.

Sometimes a win is making an edible dinner.  And that’s okay, because a win is a win.

My kitchen doesn’t look like this anymore, but it’s not perfect.  I’m okay with that.  I’ll take my wins where I can get them.

Just Call Me Steve

This is what I found on our porch a few days ago.

The poor little snake was either sunning on the porch or was dragged there against his will.  He had knotted himself into a protective ball as the cats took turns walking up and batting him.

That’s him saying, “Help me Sarah!”

Now, I don’t like snakes, but I do know that little ones like this do a good job of keeping our yard bug free.  So after a quick online check to make sure he wasn’t poisonous – he’s not – I went in for the rescue, old school Steve Irwin style.  During my online search, I also learned that he’s aptly called a line snake, and he’s fully grown at 12 inches!

I used two sticks to pick him up.  He wasn’t too thrilled, but I think he was happy to be far away from the kitties.

Freedom!  I set him free in a flower bed, and he slithered under the safety of some leaves, and the cats forgot about him since I gave them cat crack treats, which it turns out they prefer to snakes.

And that is the story of how I am awesome and our yard is snake infested.

The end.

Worst Compliment Ever

Yesterday, I got the worst compliment of my whole life.


I was at my standing Thursday lunch date.  It’s super fun.  I pay $20 to get two allergy shots (yes, I’m allergic to that many things), and then marinate for 30 minutes while I prove to the nurse that I have indeed not gone into anaphylactic shock.

It’s expensive and it’s time consuming, but my allergies are better.  Also, I get 30 minutes of uninterrupted reading time once a week, and that’s pretty nice.

Yesterday, I got to the office.  The nurse went to give me my first shot and sweetly exclaimed: “You have the BEST arms for giving allergy shots!”

For the uninitiated, the most important rule of allergy shots is that they must go directly into fatty tissue.

And my arms are ripe for the picking.

She went on to explain that a lot of the girls she sees have so little fat on their arms that it’s hard to give them the shot.  But no, not me.

That’s nice.

My arms may be flabby.  They may harken the need for cardigan sweaters with every outfit.  They may not be toned or stick thin.  But at least they’re good for one thing – allergy shots.

What’s the worst compliment you’ve ever received?

The Two Stooges

Meet Pippa and Charlie.  Charlie’s in the foreground.  He’s about five months old.  He indiscriminately loves all food, and on a related note, he farts like an old man.  We got Charlie to be company for Pippa.

As Pippa grew from the six-week old kitten we fostered, it became increasingly clear that she is not a social kitty.  She loves her window seat and her cat treats and chasing bugs in the back yard at twilight.  The Professor and I are somewhere down on her list after her second-favorite scratching post…well third-favorite, if you count the sofa.  At only about eight months old, she became so neurotic and reclusive that she didn’t even like to be touched.


After talking to some friends with multiple cats, we decided to get a sweet, gregarious boy kitty.  Charlie fits the bill, and miraculously our plan worked!  Pippa is about a thousand times happier now that she’s not the center of attention.  She and Charlie are pals.  They clean each other’s ears and wrestle, and every day their respective personal space bubbles shrink.  Pippa even likes us more, but nothing will ever sever her first love, the window seat.

A few nights ago, The Professor begged me to stay up with him and watch Rocky.  I’d never seen Rocky.  Why?  Because I have no brothers so we didn’t watch movies like Rocky.  My sister and I watched My Little Ponies and Beauty and the Beast and the six-hour version of Pride and Prejudice.  The Professor has taken it upon himself to indoctrinate me into the world of boy movies – Rocky, Hoosiers, and an entire cannon of badly dubbed kung fu movies.

But now I have seen Rocky.  All I have to say is this:

“Yo Adrienne!”

Finally, just as the big fight scene was starting, I decided I could resist sleep no longer.  Just one more thing before bed- scoop the cat litter.  It’s my every-other day chore that I dread and procrastinate.

Just as I was scooping the cat litter, Pippa and Charlie came in and decided to both use the littler box at once, side by side in an awkward group poop huddle.

It was all working out fine until Charlie finished first and reached around for litter to bury his business.  That’s when Pippa pooped on his head.  That’s also when I knew I wouldn’t get much sleep.

Charlie was rushed to the sink where, under extreme duress, he and his poop-matted fur got a bath – arms sprawled, claws activated – ready to hook onto anything, and meowing like he was being slowly mutilated.  This is also when Pippa came to investigate the cries of her partner in crime.  Now we had one cat in the sink covered in Seventh Generation Lavender Dish Soap (whose label states that although it’s not meant for consumption, it’s non toxic), and one cat on the rim of the sink crying in sympathy.  And Rocky was losing to the guy from Arrested Development.  And I too was covered in poop.  And the sound of my morning alarm clock was growing closer by the second.

With all the poop finally washed away, Charlie was wrapped in a towel.  That’s when Pippa, who loves water, got jealous.  Now we had a shivering kitten in a towel and a howling cat in the sink wanting her turn to play in the water.

We are magnets for weird animals.

I passed Charlie to the professor and turned on the water for Pippa, but she changed her mind in favor of checking on her kitten,  alternately attacking and cleaning him.

Finally at nearly 1 a.m., it was my turn to get the cat poop off me and collapse onto the bed.

Isn’t Pippa sweet?  She decided to help Charlie dry off.

And that is the story of why I splurged on a sugar-free vanilla latte the next morning.