Saturday, November 30, 2013

Food Coma

I have this terrible habit of needing to go to sleep immediately after I eat.  Not only when I've eaten too much, and not only when I've had wine with my meal, every single time.  When my mother and I would go on day long shopping trips when I was in college, we would both need to just grin and bear our hunger until we were finally done for the day, usually around 3 or 4, when we could have some food at last.  If I dared trying to eat before then it would invariably cut our day short as I would not be able to function anymore.

I guess you can say that's where I've been these past few days.  Everyone at work seemed to like my desserts, particularly the S'mores bars, so that went well.  For Thanksgiving at my boyfriend's sister's house, I made a chocolate whoopie pie cake and chocolate bourbon pecan bars.  I did not go with my original recipe for the pecan bars because I saw they had a cup of coconut flakes in them and I don't really like coconut.  I would have just omitted them but it seemed like a cup was a lot and then I might be losing some integral texture or flavor component.  The ones I went with were good albeit not quite sweet enough for me.  They didn't strike me as being very pecan pie-like, since the pie usually has a nice thick layer of that gooey filling, but they went over well nonetheless.  They're probably a good option for people who like the taste of pecans and bourbon but don't like the excessive sweetness of most pecan pies.  These little guys were pretty labor intensive though, I have to say.  I had a lot of dishes to do once these were in the oven.  I forgot to take a picture because I was too busy frosting my stupid cake, but the recipe can be found at Sugar Plum, here.

My whoopie pie cake was my personal favorite because it's everything I like.  The marshmallow buttercream frosting reminded me of Oreo cream filling and it was heavenly, particularly with the moist chocolate cake flavored with unsweetened cocoa powder.  I had to make the ganache twice because I used it all up the first time and there wasn't nearly enough to spill over the sides; I don't know if that was my error or not but in case anyone tries to make this beware of that.  The cake and frosting were both very easy to make and the only ingredient you aren't likely to have around the house is the marshmallow fluff, but I like to use it in my fudge making so I always have some stockpiled.  As a sidenote, marshmallow fluff has to be the single stickiest substance known to man and it does not clean up easily.  My poor old Kitchenaid mixer was covered in the stuff from my trying to scoop it from container into bowl and it flying everywhere.  I even sprayed my spatula with cooking spray a few times and the fluff still just did not want to go down without a fight.

a seriously and unbelievably ugly cake

It really never ceases to amaze me how ugly I can make something look.  I even told myself this time was going to be the time it actually looked good, and I was so, so totally wrong.  I am going to blame it on the fact that I am lefty; you may not realize this but it's very hard to do things lefty in this right handed world.  I can't even successfully use scissors most of the time, and I am not joking or exaggerating when I say that.

This is the first recipe I've tried from Cinnamon, Spice and Everything Nice, and I will definitely be trying out some more.  Everything was simple and well explained and the appearance of my product is really in no way a reflection on the recipe and I would suggest that you try it for yourself before you judge based on that picture up there.  And maybe send me a picture and teach me your ways.  

I always just blame the mess on transportation though.  That's the nice thing about cakes; everyone is aware of the difficulty in transporting one successfully on a long car ride so when it shows up lopsided and messy I can just lament opting not to put it in the trunk and make it sound like it actually looked great before the trip when in reality the car trip and my seat lowering itself onto the cake actually probably improved the appearance.

I am not getting a whole lot done this weekend, I just did a practice GRE and am going to go through my sample drawer in a bit.  More on that later!  I don't like this weekend much because I just hate running into people I used to be acquainted with.  If I wanted to see them or see how they were doing I would have kept in touch or Googled them extensively, respectively.  I don't want to be forced to hang out with people I never really liked just for the sheer fact that we had some stupid AP class together seven years ago, and I certainly don't want to hear about your job as an Executive Administrative Managerial Assistant to the Executive Manager or whatever the hell fancy name you give it, and I don't feel like explaining mine either.  Trust me, even I don't get it most of the time.  My boyfriend is a chemical engineer as well and he and I never talk about work because it is literally the most boring thing I can think of for us to discuss, and I'd say we barely even know what the other does since we're involved in different parts of the processes.  I did run into an ex boyfriend's cousin and spoke to her for a while last night, she was always so sweet and I always regretted that I couldn't remain friends with this family of his I had grown to accept as my own over four years after the break up.  It was nice seeing her and it was nice she was so receptive to talking to me, even though we had to yell over our mutual friend's band and then kept getting split up by old forgotten acquaintances running over to say hi and hug us and pretend they noticed we haven't hung out in years.

Maybe I will go to the movies tonight to avoid all that nonsense; I hate the movies and generally only go once a year and I already did go once this year (to see Spring Breakers, because I always hold out for the amazing cinematic masterpieces) but Oldboy looks kind of good and I forgot the Wikipedia plot rundown already so maybe my attempt at ruining the interesting sounding torture porn revenge flick for myself failed for a reason.  Who can say no to a Spike Lee Joint?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Two Down, One to Go

Well my three new (and one old) baking adventures this weekend were pretty successful.  For Saturday I went with Browned Butter Butterscotch Bars and Bailey's Caramel Chocolate Truffles, and for today I went with S'mores Cookie Bars and the Pumpkin Whoopie Pies that make me gag but other people seem to enjoy.

Browned Butter Butterscotch Bars
These were great, they reminded me of chocolate chip cookie dough without the chips (a personal favorite) and a bit of Momofuku Milk Bar's Crack Pie (which if you haven't tried, just go there now).  I doubled the recipe and used a 13"x9" pan so they came out thicker than the pictures which was ideal for me, and I used slightly less than double the butterscotch chips because I didn't want that flavor to overpower them.  I was concerned for no reason because they ended up being fairly subtle in the final product but that was perfect for me.

So good.

Bailey's Caramel Irish Cream Truffles
While these were undeniable delicious, it's a shame that they were such a mess to make because I honestly think for the first time in my life I am kind of sick of chocolate after being covered in it for a whole day.  The fact that these were covered in melted chocolate rather than rolled in cocoa powder and nuts was what sealed the deal when I was trying to choose a recipe, and for all the problems I had with my melted chocolate seizing because the filling was not quite cold enough when I dipped the filling balls, they actually looked pretty cute.  I added some extra Bailey's because it's hard to go wrong with that and the flavor was amazingly rich and the Bailey's was definitely the star.  I have made other kinds of "truffles" before but these were the first that reminded me of those you'd buy at a chocolate shop; the outer shell was hard and satisfying to bite into while the inside was soft and creamy  I was pretty proud of these little guys, aside from the fact that by the time I got to try one I was so sick of them due to nonstop eating every drop of filling that fell out of my melon baller.  Can't let any go to waste, right?

A winning combo.

Ok they look kinda less cute here than in real life but still pretty good for me, who can make anything look awful.

S'mores Cookie Bars
These were my favorite because they closely resembled my all time favorite dessert, chocolate chip cookies.  They were thick and gooey and the marshmallows in the cookie dough only added to that, making them a welcome addition.  As the marshmallows melted a little they gave me kind of a hard crust around the edges that I loved.  My graham cracker crust fell apart but that was definitely my fault and not the recipes, I was running out of butter so I used slightly less and, well, yeah.  Whoops.  Either way, they were delicious.  It's a shame you couldn't cut them until they were cooled because I was eating them (with a spoon) right when they came out from one little corner and they were fantastic, but then again I think everything is way better right out of the oven.  I don't even let my cookies cool for more than a minute before I'm hurriedly shoving a spatula under them to get them onto a plate and into my mouth ASAP.  I have even gotten my boyfriend into doing this; when he makes cookies he takes them off the pan to eat so quickly that he has to use a spoon to eat them so they don't burn his fingers, still sensitive to the heat from not having been eating things way too soon and accidentally grabbing pans that are still way too hot for years.

Cookie dough + mini marshmallows has to be a new favorite.

They were really cute with the Hershey's bar chunks on top.

Had to save some for my boyfriend to try.

I also have a new blogger idol, The Classy Cubicle.  She makes beautiful outfits and has lovely clothes and even though she never seems to repeat an outfit (or at least the blog makes it seem that way), a lot of her style is pretty attainable.  And she has St. John stuff!  Do you know how rare it is to find another woman under the age of 65 who appreciates St. John?  Very!  

I want to be able to take nice pictures like her.  My clothes would look so much better without the ugly gym-style bathroom in the background, and without my stupid phone being held up in the mirror.  I don't know how to though, and I am too embarrassed to ask someone I know to take pictures of me frolicking in the street.  I am going to think very long and hard about this.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Holiday Baking Season!!

I haven't been shopping much lately because I was saving for my Vegas trip (and somehow I only spent $200 while there... what the hell? I should have stopped at the Balenciaga store!) so I have really only had desperately depressing things to talk about on here, and you're welcome for helping your seasonal affective disorder along.  It's almost Thanksgiving though which means it is time to bake a lot of things!

I can never decide what to make.  It's hard because bloggers have fancy cameras and are really good at these things so everything they make looks lovely, and then when I try it it just looks like a big mess.  My good friend from college is having a dinner tomorrow, then there's my work potluck on Monday and then we are going to my boyfriend's sister's house for Thanksgiving, so I have to bake a lot of things in a short time here!

Work potlucks are the toughest in my opinion because I always feel like I need to have at least enough that everyone can try one, which means I need to make ~50 servings of whatever I make, and those 50 servings need to be easily transportable, unlike the cake I brought in for my birthday that slid over on the car ride and ended up being 3 broken cake layers in a pile of mush.  I've made them my chocolate chip cookies many, many times and so that's too dull.  Another woman makes really good brownies so those are out, and someone always buys a pie of some sort so I would stay away from those too, not that I'd make a damn pie anyway but just in case.

The pumpkin whoopie pies I made were a huge hit but, since each pie uses two cookies, it's tough to make a lot of them at once.  I was debating making them a little smaller so I could make a bunch of little ones and then doing some sort of bar cookie on top of that.  Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars are looking like the winners so far (from my girl Brown Eyed Baker) but I will update with my own ugly pictures when I actually make them.

For Saturday dinner, probably a butterscotch type bar cookie and some Bailey's or bourbon truffles.  The host makes awesome cookies and fudge so it's hard to find things people will still enjoy but I am trying.  I know he will appreciate any boozy dessert so that's a definite.

For Thanksgiving, I'm going to try a cake.  It's a big deal; I hate making cakes because they are hard as hell to make look nice and you can't taste them before you give them to other people to try.  What if I accidentally used salt instead of sugar?!?! I'll never know until other people taste it and judge me.  With that, some pecan pie bar type thing.  My boyfriend is really into pecan pie and I've never made it or eaten it but I just don't like pie so I'll try out a different variation.

So yeah that's a lot of baking!  There are no purchases but there will be some really strange looking baked goods in your future here at Girl, Engineered.  Unfortunately, despite my extensive knowledge of physics and the laws of gravity and mechanics of solids, I still can't figure out how to make baked goods hold up and look like the pictures I see on Google Images.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The BN Years

Sometimes I think about life in terms of before-Netflix and after-Netflix.  I am using Netflix colloquially here to mean some sort of on demand TV show screening service, really any will do.  Blockbuster, although based around a similar concept, really just didn't provide the life change that I think Netflix did, mainly because a movie lasts around two hours and then you're done and you can go to bed.

I remember when I was avoiding dealing with everything in my life, not in school despite pretending to be and wasting everyone's time, Hulu was a revelation for me.  It was incredible how much time could be occupied by watching season after season of TV shows on Hulu.  It wasn't like flipping aimlessly through daytime talk shows or watching a CSI marathon on Spike; you could watch whatever you wanted at your leisure.  And for me, it was a fucking disaster.

The problem with TV shows is that they aim to really suck you in.  In the traditional format of weekly episodes this was great, since you would feel compelled to stick to your TV show schedule and tune in every week, even if that meant embarrassing your daughter in front of her math teacher with whom she was having a conversation with just because it was 9 o'fucking-clock and you had reminded her that The West Wing was on tonight and not to make you miss the opening credits (no joke, my dad did this).  It was fun too, anticipating the next episode and spending summers speculating about how cliffhangers from the season finale would affect the characters and story.

Now, this same ability to suck you in is what leads so many of us to waste entire days in bed, hitting "Next Episode" on our iPads and laptops, feeling like we accomplished something because we finally finished Breaking Bad even though, in reality, we did absolutely nothing all day but lay in bed.  It seems like we did something - we watched Walter White do lots of things including go through chemotherapy and then get cancer again and even grow his hair back, we are able to post statuses informing the masses we just watched the finale and OMG was it good, we can blog about how the finale made us feel and finally join in the discussions we have been carefully avoiding fearing spoilers - but we really just laid in bed.  After you watch Breaking Bad, what have you really done?  It was a great show, don't get me wrong, but what did I get out of the hours upon hours of watching this show?  I joined the vast club of people who watched and am now able to discuss it with others and understand the plethora of Los Pollos Hermanos jokes flying around work, undeniably giving me a sense of belonging in a club with people who I would otherwise have very little to say to.  Beyond that, not a whole lot.  Same goes for the Sopranos, it was like I invested so much time into these characters and spent so many hours with them and then in a split second, it was all gone.  They had gone through so many of life's adventures while I sat there watching along, essentially replacing my desires to seek out adventures of my own.  For all the things they learned from their experiences, thus giving their mistakes and wasted time meaning, I didn't learn a damn thing.

I wonder if the people who dedicate their lives to blogging about TV shows somehow manage to get more out of them than me.  Personally I hate movies, but I certainly know a lot of people who claim their lives have been changed by them, and for some reason I don't have trouble believing that.  Why is it more believable to me that a two hour film can be life changing while a collective 100 hour TV series can't?  I would imagine it has to do with the pacing, since a long TV series must necessarily move more slowly therefore necessitating the promotion of minor subplots to major importance and distracting the viewer from the overall message with episodes, and sometimes even whole seasons, entirely unrelated to that message.

Now I just mainly wonder what people did on Saturdays during the BN (Before Netflix) era.  I find it difficult to fill up my day when I am not in the middle of a TV series binge, so I can't imagine what it was like for those who didn't even have the myriad distraction options I have at my fingertips these days.  Are we lazier, or are we just less willing to face things in our lives and more desperate to consume anything that will distract us from everything else?  I know they say my generation is the first that will not do better than their parents, job prospects are incredibly bleak even for college graduates, and the wealth gap is ever widening.  Maybe Breaking Bad helps us all keep our minds off of that in the same way that House, MD kept my mind off of my obvious failures in school and inability to cope with grief.  The cults of TV show obsessives are growing ever larger, but maybe it's just because a lot more of us have shit that we just don't want to deal with than before.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Historical Landmarks

I have always wondered what the deal is with people wanting to preserve everything.  We insist on preserving old falling down buildings when they could be put to better use being razed (and not to make condos!) because they're historic, we place high value on first edition books as collectibles even though they're too fragile to be read, we hang onto the idea that our first love should be our only, and we insist on telling people we will be friends forever when that realistically cannot happen.  Our obsession with holding onto things of the past keeps us from enjoying our present and future in many cases, with the exception of paying a lot of money for old books I guess but even then you could argue that $120,000 could be better spent.

I have never really been able to hang onto close friends for long.  It's hard when you see someone so frequently and spend so much time talking to them about everything to not gradually become annoyed with things they do, or become so similar that you're almost in competition for everything.  I guess in that sense most of my friendships have been like passionate May-December romances: you meet and things seem meant to be and you spend all your time together until it just burns out because nothing can keep up with that intensity.

The friends I've had for the longest are probably the ones I speak to with the least frequency, and that is a good thing.  I don't really like talking on the phone or texting all day so if someone wants me to then I just can't really handle it.  I had a very close friend (our era of being BFF was longer than May-December but similarly short-lived when you compare it to "forever") who was like this - she would text me all day and come to me with all of her issues (and she had a lot of them) and that was fine until it just became too much.  I have no problem helping friends out and I even love having them come to me for my opinion and advice but it's so hard when the friend is in constant turmoil and needs so much from you.  It became like more of a relationship, a relationship I would have not stayed in had she been a romantic partner, and I realized I was hanging on because of some sense of duty to her rather than actually enjoying being friends with her.

With the amount we argued and disagreed on, if she had been a boyfriend I would have very quickly removed myself from the situation.  I don't like those super passionate breakup-to-makeup relationships although I can see the appeal for some people, and I wouldn't want to be in one with a romantic partner, so why was I staying in one with a friend?  She has been trying to keep in touch with me recently and I've noticed a tremendous change in her life and demeanor towards me, which is good.  I am interested in how she's doing because I care about her but I am also hesitant to get back into that same toxic relationship where she makes me feel bad about everything about me and then I tell her that and she calls me too sensitive or a baby and then we don't talk for a few days and then we make up and are best friends again.  Maybe I am too sensitive (actually I am sure I am), but then maybe that also means I just can't handle being friends with someone who can't be similarly sensitive to my sensitivity.

So why can you dump a boyfriend but not a friend?  Why is one fundamentally more stigmatized than the other?  How come promises made of "forever" to a friend are for some reason more binding than those made to a significant other?  I find a lot of people grappling with this, particularly men.  Men are more likely to have big groups of friends and they just will never eliminate one from the group.  Even when a group member tries to break away, they will ostracize him for it and try to bring him back by guilt tripping him.  But that doesn't make sense to me - people change tremendously over a short period of time during their teens and twenties, so if someone wants to do something different why can't we just let them go their own way?  If they said they no longer got the same enjoyment from being with a girlfriend and didn't have the same interests anymore we would encourage them to let go of the relationship, but for whatever reason we always encourage people to keep trying when the relationship is a friendship.  Making friends definitely gets harder as you get older, but so does finding people to date so I don't really see why hanging onto one is so much more important than the other.

I loved going to Las Vegas with the girls I did because I really didn't know any of them super well.  There is very little fighting involved in the early stages of getting to know someone, assuming you already know enough about them to know they aren't different from you on the most basic levels.  It was nice and refreshing to be doing something typically reserved for lifelong friends with new friends, and I am really glad I did it.  Hopefully, I even made some lifelong friends in the process.

I would share some stories but really, even though they were fun and interesting to me they're probably hardly different from other interesting stories other people come back from Vegas with, and I'm sure you're about as interested in reading about them as I typically am in reading about others' (which is to say, not at all).

I am going to post some pictures but preface them with the fact that I do not make good picture faces.  I really don't.  I don't know why, I need to practice my picture smile I think, it's just bad and uncomfortable looking.  It really belies my social awkwardness which is a shame because usually otherwise people would never guess.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Viva Las Vegas

I'm sitting here on the plane home. The woman next to me's big branded skater style sneakers have drifted over into my space, and she hasn't yet noticed - probably a result of the pseudo Bloody Mary she's been drinking. She pulls her iPad out of her purse, the giant jacquard "C" logos covering the entire thing, making the shape of it not only in discernible but also unimportant, secondary to the high contrast logos. 

The case housing her iPad is black and innocuous, and it stands out to me compared to all of the over the top glitz I've seen this weekend. It's cute and has an attached keyboard, so useful as well. I shiver a little, feeling the goosebumps pop up along the length of my legs, and reach up to close the old fashioned airplane style circular vent. A scene playing out through my headphones catches my attention. Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine plays on the screen a few rows ahead of me, partially obscured by the overhead compartments. Jasmine is wandering around a party, trying to find someone to talk to while toting around her big Birkin, interlocked C's hanging from her belt letting everyone know that that lovely dress she's wearing is, in fact, Chanel.  She's visibly uncomfortable but also dripping with confidence, an anomaly. 

The scene changes and I'm less transfixed. I look back down to the the girl next to me in her baby pink top sipping her makeshift Bloody Mary, watching episode after episode of Sex and the City. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Livestock Branding, Millennial Style

I've been anxiously planning my Vegas trip the past week or so.  Since I prefer to overplan rather than underplan, I've been in contact with a number of promoters and VIP hosts and all other sorts of people whose email signature tout positions that sound simultaneously incredibly important and totally made up.

I found a lot of their numbers on which I do recommend for your trip planning needs, but in texting a number of these contacts I've realized that it's so rare to find one that actually grew up there.  It makes me sad to see an area code from Iowa belonging to a host at some low-tier club, like a sign that someone went out to Las Vegas to chase their dream of being a bigshot only to end up stagnating, offering buy-one-get-one bottle offers to anyone just trying to fill a club with tourists.

Now that we can all keep our area codes when we change phones, it seems that our phone numbers are our "brands", the unmistakable mark that can belie even the most arrogant exterior of a faux local.  If I am in the Meatpacking District and some promoter gives me his card, if that card has a South Jersey area code on it you better believe I'm tossing it right out.  It's probably snobbery but I've lived here my whole life, why will I trust someone who is an actual part of the bridge and tunnel crow to show me where to go?

These hosts can act like big shots all they want, tell me they're able to get my group into the best nightclubs with no cover and whatever else, but they can't fake their area code, which particularly for my generation who changed numbers with every new phone in their teens just serves as a blinking light displaying the maximum amount of time this person can have been in Las Vegas.

I think this is interesting in the popular cities, like Vegas and LA and New York, that are really just filled with transients.  How many Williamsburg hipsters would you guess have New York area codes?  I'd guess not a lot, I'd even guess that it's significantly less than half.  Yet these are the same people who make every status update about "BROOKLYNNNN" and constantly Instagram pictures of their regular New York lives.  Why are people so quick to give up where they came from and adopt what the perceive to be the personality of somewhere they go?  It almost seems like an escapist thing to me.  The people I know who are snobbiest about being New Yorkers went to NYU with me and moved to the city for college; somehow, their experiencing their formative college years in New York makes them vastly superior to the plebes who moved here post college, for work.  These are the people who care more about their address than the interior of their apartments, and these are the people who write blogs about their New York lives.  Their lives are otherwise normal, but for some reason in their minds waiting on long lines for everything and catching a glimpse of Jon Stewart or Jay-Z at the table next to them makes their experiences exponentially more exciting.  You can move wherever you want, post whatever you want on your social media feeds, but with that foreign area code being the source of all these lovely sepia toned pictures it seems like you spend your life trying to prove what a local you are rather than experiencing genuine hometown pride.

I love New York, but not enough to have that obscure my own personal identity.  I wonder what assumptions these hosts are making about me when they see my distinctively New York City area code?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

*Absolutely, Ridiculously Intolerable

"I have 30 years experience, I have kids older than you!" is probably the absolute last thing I'd want to hear while discussing working conditions with a coworker.  I'm not sure I see the relevance there - does having children older than me mean that we do not actually share working space and I am instead just a secretary sitting in your office?  Do your years of experience mean that you can stop being respectful after a certain period of time?

My (former) deskmate told me that he was being nice by obliging my requests, that he in fact could have said "Screw you!" when I asked him to close the blinds.  My question is - could he have?  That was not his window, it was ours.  In what world is he living that his replying "screw you" was a reasonable, acceptable response?  He is upset I called his actions childish - well boo-fucking-hoo, it was childish for him to antagonize and even, some would say, gaslight me daily over this shit.  He said he has been doing this for ten years with no complaints, apparently failing to account for the relevant fact that NO ONE EVER SAT NEXT TO HIM BEFORE.

How do I stop dwelling on these things?  I can't, they make me so mad, and it makes me even madder that I got frustrated and cried in front of him because it makes me look weak but really, how can I even say anything when he is being so unreasonable?  He kept changing the subject to being that we all need individual office space - sure, I don't disagree, but that's not the fucking issue and the fucking issue is you being an inconsiderate, sanctimonious dick.

I hate unreasonable people.  I hate when I am SO SURE I am right but no one will listen, although I guess most people engaged in an argument think that they are undoubtedly right.  But really, in this case, I am.  Right?

I have a terrible mix of my Italian and Irish heritage with regards to how I deal with feelings - my Italian half fantasizes about exacting revenge on those who wronged me, while my Irish half pushes everything to the back of my mind to allow it to fester and ferment into something bound to come out in some awful way at a later date.  It's swept under the rug for now, but that doesn't mean it isn't internally driving me insane.

I need therapy.  If only I had the time.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cakes and Coats

This past weekend I made a cinnamon roll cake with cream cheese frosting.  Honestly, I didn't love it.  I like RICH, DECADENT, CHOCOLATE DESSERTS and even though the cream cheese frosting and cake were delicious, I felt like overall it was a bit too bland for my tastes.  My mother, however, loved it so much she gave it all away the next day so she wouldn't be stuck taking tiny little slivers a few times a day, reassuring herself that it was just a little bite, not a big deal.  My mom found the recipe for this cake and sent it to me: from Mother Thyme, here.

Well, I'm not a good photographer and apparently not a good cake-cutter either. 
I highly recommend checking out Mother Thyme's much better photo for reference of how good it could look if you, like, can function as an adult and cut a damn cake.

I have never made anything else from Mother Thyme so I can't comment on that but if you're really into cinnamon rolls, I bet you would like this a lot.  It was super simple to make and only required an electric mixer for the frosting, so also minimal mid-baking cleanup!  I hate when I have to use the mixer for a number of different portions of the dessert, cleaning that bowl before I've had time to properly eat all that remains in it feels like such a waste.  Also, it makes only an eight inch cake which is actually great for bringing to potlucks or dinner parties when tons of people will be bringing other things.  It's big enough to give everyone a taste but not so big that the host is then left with it in their fridge until they finally finish the other leftovers and find it back there.

It's coat season again!  For Christmas last year I got a beautiful Burberry Brit trench coat that had a black wool body and black leather sleeves.  It was amazing, and I loved it.

Here is a really minimally useful picture of me wearing it.

In the beginning of February, I was out with a friend for her birthday and it was mostly an uneventful evening.  I hung my lovely coat on the hook under the bar right next to where we were sitting and noticed nothing awry when we left later on.  The next morning I awoke to a scene straight out of a horror film - the leather sleeve was slashed open from shoulder to elbow.

*scream face emoji*

I gasped at the gruesome display and freaked out wondering if Nordstrom would help me out with this (of course they did, they always do, love Nordstrom and especially love their customer service #Nordstrom #loveyou).

By now, February, all the winter coats were gone and stores were showing damn bathing suits already.  The Nordstrom SA informed me they didn't have a single other one of this coat in any size left in the country.  Sad and disheartened, I walked over to the Burberry Brit section to see what stragglers were left.  This age-old quilted coats were there but they weren't what I wanted.  The new spring rain jackets and military style canvas coats were out but they just didn't fit the criteria.  On the clearance rack I happened upon a navy wool peacoat in my size, for $400 less than the MSRP.  Was it a sign?  Of course (just kidding nothing is ever about me and it was pure luck).  I got that as a replacement and have been a happy camper since.  The coat itself is classic and lovely, plenty warm with lots of nice little details, and the navy goes with pretty much everything especially since I am such a fan of mixing navy and black.

Weirdly blurry?

Not blurry but weird face and pose...I can't win.

I've never had a nice winter coat before.  My knee-length North Face parka is great for walking to class in the snow and incredibly warm but I couldn't really wear it to occasions when I was valuing aesthetics anywhere near as much as comfort and warmth.  I usually took to wearing leather jackets all winter, earning disapproving looks from my mother as I bundled up with scarves and gloves and still froze my ass off every time (and never learned my lesson).  A nice black peacoat I got from TJ Maxx was nice but impractically short as it was barely hip length and even though it felt very heavy it really wasn't so great at making me feel warm.  Other coats I acquired I liked for a year but was sick of by next winter.

I was so relieved to put on this coat yesterday morning and still say "wow" about how it looked and fit and felt.  Although it was expensive, I think it is something I will have and be using for years to come.  What kind of coats are ones that everyone should have?  We wear one everyday from November through mid-March pretty much, which others should I add now that I have the basic staple down pat?

Shirt: Max Mara // Pants: Theory 'Nabiki' // Shoes: Tory Burch Reva

A friend of mine gave me this necklace for my birthday.  She's wonderful and I don't see her as much as I should and I was grateful because she's a great accessorizer and I am just terrible at it.  I don't know if this boat neck top was the right neckline for the necklace but I went with it anyway.  

This necklace-neckline guide from Charming Charlie is great but I am totally lost if I have something that doesn't fit in one of those categories.

How to wear a necklace

Maybe I will start working on my own comprehensive guide.  First I just need to figure out how to go about figuring out what on earth I am doing.

Dealing with Intolerable People

Well, I moved my desk.  I must say, I have a very nice setup now in terms of my monitors and computer docking station; the setup of this desk made it easier for my to get everything out of the way.  I also now have a white board which is nice.

My new setup, complete with computer docked out of the way in an unused overhead cabinet.

What I do not have is the same confidence I once did at work.  I had an altercation with the coworker who refused to stop antagonizing me that ended in him storming out of the office and leaving.  After I asked him to please close the window he turned and told me that I would have to talk to our boss about an alternate seating arrangement for me, as if I  am the unreasonable one here.  I found this infuriating and though I should have let it go, I told him that this, in fact, is not his private office and is instead space he shares, and as a result he should be considerate of other people.  He informed me he had been working here for ten years and blah blah as if that was the issue, seniority.  I spoke with our COO this morning and he told me that that just goes to show how this worker just totally does not understand the root of the issue being respect for other people, like he thinks seniority should dictate who gets to be comfortable or not.  We recently hired a new woman in the accounts area (or whatever they do there, I have no idea to be honest) and my COO told me that this is the first time someone has been sitting in the desk across from his office and so now he closes the blinds in the morning because the morning sun shines directly onto her screen.  She didn't even need to ask!  He just did it.  I guess it's a matter of personality more than anything, I mean this guy is the second highest in the company and he doesn't whine that his seniority should all him to do whatever he damn well pleases no matter how it affects anyone else.

It's amazing to me that my former officemate has daughters, I don't know how they ever dealt with him.  I think a part of it is also that this man has probably had very limited professional interaction with women, and so he just couldn't figure out how to handle the situation without just ignoring my requests.  I tried to be an adult about it by confronting him and trying to discuss the situation but I think he felt that since he was the senior guy here, he shouldn't have to talk to lil' ole me about it.  This guy also often would say awful things about women in general when talking about a worker at another company we were working with or something, and then would need to turn to me and say "You know, I didn't mean you."  Well fuck you then and don't say it!  Don't say it's a problem with "women", say it's a problem with one specific person you're dealing with.  His comments about what's attractive on women were the most annoying though, he once stated that tattoos are awfully unattractive on women and it prompted me to wonder, is he an authority on this?  This man, who frankly looks and walks like a turtle, is able to say that his tattoos are fine but on women they're ugly?  Okay cool.

I am trying to figure out how to deal with him since he has now taken to not saying a word to me but I am really unsure.  This is giving me terrible anxiety about going into work and since the cubicle I moved to is frequently empty I feel like I've been exiled to the Gobi Desert over here.  I tend to dwell on things and I know I should stop