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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Can We Talk About Something Other than Donald Sterling?

I hate when stories like this take over the media.  I understand why we're talking about it, he's a terrible human being and honestly anyone who follows basketball has known that, and known factually that he is a racist, for nearly a decade.  But why do we now need every single person alive's opinion on it before we can move on to the next topic?

The internet has given everyone a platform to espouse their opinions, and I feel like now we expect too many.  I don't think we need to know what the President thinks about this, or Rick Ross, or Frankie Muniz.  Who cares?  Their opinions don't change the facts of what happened, and certainly don't change how I feel about it.

This goes without mentioning that most of these opinions we are seeking (the President aside, hopefully) are mostly uninformed and worthless, statements given to advance the person's own public persona and not to encourage actual discourse on the still important topic of race.  This morning someone called into the radio station I listen to and was waxing poetic on free speech and how Sterling shouldn't be fined for having a belief.  He then actually said that "racism is a belief" and Sterling should be allowed to express this.  That guy's a fucking idiot, who put him on radio for other idiotic people to hear and agree with and feel justified in their own stupid opinions?

Free speech does not protect hate speech, nor does it protect you from consequences of making inflammatory statements.  Our freedom of speech (and I would not consider racism on this level but certainly this caller did) does not extend to keeping you from being fired or forced to resign for making offensive comments.  Ultimately, the NBA is a private corporation interested in selling tickets to games, and if that means they have to ban an owner for being a dick they are totally within their rights.  This owner's freedom of speech protects him from retaliation from the government for speaking out against it and from retaliation from employers for his race, religion, sexuality, creed, etc, etc.  Racism is not protected.  Thanks.

So now that that's out of the way, how about this weather?  It's pouring rain here in NY today and tomorrow, although I know the southern states are getting it much worse right now.  I'm staying at my boyfriend's tonight to minimize the number of long trips I need to make in the terrible weather since people apparently forget how to drive when a few drops fall, wish me luck with that one!  Hopefully we can spend most of the night catching up on Game of Thrones and The Inbetweeners (season 3 now on Netflix!).

All of these pictures came out super strange with really orange-y colors, more orange than my pumpkin orange walls normally appear, and I figured out I had my camera on some Pop-Art setting.  My bad!

sweater: theory crewneck || pants: lafayette 148 || bag: louis vuitton neverfull MM || nails: butter london "wellies"

raincoat: burberry brit trench

Our new HR person has started talking to us one by one to get to know us better and my meeting was yesterday.  She asked me some tough existential type questions, the kinds of questions that made me hate doing formal interviews for jobs, like where do I see myself this time next year (I don't know, hopefully a little thinner) and what are my major frustrations with my job (having to deal with that guy) and what I like most about my job (the mostly unfiltered internet? does that count?) and I feel like I had no good answers so I'm going to think about these things.

I did tell her about my story with the intolerable coworker I had to deal with, and how it made me lose a lot of enthusiasm for my job.  Where waking up and coming in was never an issue, now I dread it and I hate that.  She stressed the importance of me getting the fuck over it, and I know she wasn't marginalizing my feelings or anything and I know she's totally right.  It's so hard for me to get over things - I rarely forgive and forget when I consider something to be egregious in some way and I don't often have big fights with friends or boyfriends that put me in the position of having to really work to move past a grudge.  It's hindering my productivity at work though, and that's not okay.  Imagine I squander all of my potential success because this guy made me feel shitty and worthless and I hate looking at his face?  I can't let him win.  I started by saying good night to him yesterday where I'd typically ignore him, and I hope that I can just get past it by pretending to not care anymore.  Any tips for dealing with someone you are forced to be around but whose existence makes you want to never come in again?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Deflated

It's been a tough past few weeks.  This is definitely very whiny of me and I know that I should be happy because I've been blessed with people who care about me and great opportunities but sometimes I can't just get myself to stop thinking.

Last year, a higher up boss offered to me an opportunity to go to this really great conference our parent company hosts with tons of networking and events and seminars to go to.  I was so excited and flattered that he would invite me.  A few days ago another coworker came over and was talking about a trip he's going on with his fiancee.  I asked where he was headed and his answer was this conference.  I know this means I'm not going because they wouldn't send two people who are the same position.  He's been here longer than me, so maybe he deserves it, or maybe I deserve it because I would be going solo and really using it as an opportunity to network, or maybe I should stop worrying about seeming whiny and ask someone why I am no longer going, or maybe I should stop being a fucking baby and caring about this.

I feel the same way when I find out friends are hanging out without me, making plans without me, talking all the time and just ignoring my efforts to start conversations during slow workdays for some reason.  Maybe I am just being a baby about it, but I'm sensitive to these things because I have lost so many friends over the years and done my best to ruin any good opportunities I may have had.

My anxiety about everything has been mounting and just making doing anything seem incredibly daunting.  I had so many plans of things I wanted to do this weekend and I just couldn't muster up the courage.  Even the thought of writing out how I'm feeling has seemed much too difficult.

I went out to dinner with a friend on Saturday which was really nice.  She's very funny and easy to talk to and it reminded me how much fun I have just hanging out with girls, and how much I miss being able to do that.

I got the rest of my scores for the GRE, and I did okay.  Not as good as I'm sure I could have had I actually studied rather than watched SVU and think about studying, but good enough.  My writing score was in the 97th percentile which was nice to see, and my math score was around the same, percentile-wise.  My verbal score barely reached the 90th percentile mark and I typically do well on these tests so I was upset by this, but I guess most people taking this test are college grads which makes the pool of people taking it more competitive compared to the SATs or school mandated standardized testing.

I've also been successfully getting work done which feels great and makes taking little breaks to write and read so much easier and less anxiety ridden.  Maybe it's the changing of the seasons.  Is anyone else in a funk they can't seem to climb out of right now?

Saturday night dinner at Agave in the West Village (highly recommend, but make reservations!  Ours were for 6:15 and the place was mobbed already):

shirt: t. babaton silk blouse from aritzia || pants: rich and skinny coated denim || bag: balenciaga black RH city || nails: butter london "wellies"


And today at work and going for sushi and martinis afterward:

shirt: zara colorblock top || pants: rag and bone zip pocket ankle pants || shoes: cole haan air morgan 90 pumps || bag: balenciaga two-tone papier flap


The lighting has been making indoor pictures tough in the mornings.  Lots of hiding from the sun to avoid shadows and colors ending up weird.  I should probably take some pictures after work instead so I can do it outside as well but come on, who wants to do that after a long day knowing their bed is just upstairs waiting for them to climb in?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Tiring, Relaxing Weekend

Wow this past weekend was busy.  I did so much driving, running around, entertaining, EATING that yesterday morning I couldn't even bring myself to get dressed so I worked from home.  It's nice to have a job where I can do that sometimes and use the time to recoup; in fact, I'm jealous of the people who get to work from their beds in pajamas every day.  Maybe I'm in the wrong profession.

For the weekend, my boyfriend and I went to the Buttermilk Falls Inn in Milton, NY - about an hour and a half from the city, it felt like we were worlds away.  Our stay was wonderful, even after we had to wait an hour for our room to be ready when I was dying to shower and take a nap.  It was funny because during lunch I was saying that we should just try and check in at 2:45, because what are the odds the room wouldn't be ready yet?  If check out is at 11:00 and the room isn't ready 15 minutes before 3 then you're really just not on top of your shit.  And of course - the room wasn't ready, and wasn't until 3:45.  Oh well.

Naturally I left my camera sitting on my bed at home so only had iPhone to take pictures with.  It's too bad because there were some really cool things there: a farm with llamas, alpacas, donkeys, and sheep; an albino peacock which the front desk guy said was one of only around 300 in the world (although he might have just been trying to impress us); a ton of chickens and roosters and fresh eggs, etc.  We spent a while just watching the animals live their lives.  Rudy thought he caught a glimpse of a chicken laying an egg but it turned out he was just staring at some chicken's particularly swollen butthole for ten minutes.

We had a great lunch at the Inn's restaurant, Henry's at the Farm, and some good pre-dinner drinks the next night.  Breakfast was incredible - super fresh smoked salmon, freshly made bagels and sticky buns, fresh juices, lots of fruit, and the options to order special plates (the carrot cake pancakes with cream cheese whipped were calling my name but alas, I filled up on bagels and smoked salmon and cream cheese before I saw those options).  It was really just a very nice place all around, a great spot to get away for a little while and hang out with tons to do nearby.  There were lots of trails on and around the grounds, as well as nearby.  The Walkway Across the Hudson was a few minutes away, letting you walk all the way across the river to Poughkeepsie.

parking and heading to the restaurant for lunch

llamas! and alpacas!  I couldn't tell the difference honestly

a llama or maybe an alpaca who liked to stick his head out the window and chew while staring at us

our room was really cute

and it had a really nice soaking tub that we didn't get a chance to try

heading out towards Lover's Leap on the grounds

nice spot to sit and look across the Hudson

weird ass painting on a barn

an albino peacock!!

really good bread from Brasserie 292 in Poughkeepsie

on the Walkway

shirt: j. crew crepe tee || jacket: laveer boxy suede and leather trim jacket || jeans: j brand coated || shoes: bcbgeneration tinas pumps || bag: balenciaga black RH city

It was just nice to get away for a weekend and do some different things.  Taking the GRE took so much out of us, it was great to be able to relax and not have to worry about the responsibilities that come with being at home and having things to do although I find being away just makes everything compound when you come back.  Easter itself went fine, somewhat better than expected, and his family didn't really make any issues although they did spend the whole time discussing a cruise they are all going on in September that my boyfriend wants me to go on even though I hate cruises and get brutally seasick on them, so that sucked.  We'll see how this one plays out.

How was everyone else's weekend?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

This Always Makes Me Happy to Read...

...right while I'm getting ready to send in my next student loan check.


Cool so he gave his son a certainly reduced rent apartment that was needed by students, all the while he was approving loans for mortgages for executives and board members to take out to buy themselves summer home's on NYU's dime, and THEN absolving them of the debt.

When will NYU come absolve me of my debt?

image via Gawker via Getty

Maybe once I'm rich and famous enough that I don't even need the debt to be absolved they'll start offering me things.  Maybe you have to be an executive who sits on the school's board (and after all, if you've gotten that far you've made a lot of money in the process) to get a break on your loans.  Makes sense to me!

If I Haven't Done Anything Exciting, Can I Blog About the Things I Didn't Do?

I did NOT go to Coachella and get photobombed by a thumbs-up offering Aaron Paul standing next to a smirking Kellan Lutz.

I also did NOT wear a bindi in the desert, or a flowy floral skirt with a crop top, or leather sandals fashioned from real authentic buffalo.

I did NOT take any outfit pictures, because I did NOT wear anything worthwhile (yes, plain black sweater and grey pants for me please, thanks).

I did NOT successfully complete anything I had planned on, besides finishing the GRE.

I did NOT book my flight to Pittsburgh next weekend and now prices are going up and so I just have to pray for them to go back down again.

I did NOT book a room for Atlantic City like I was supposed to.

I did NOT win anything on eBay this week despite trying for a few items.

I did NOT sell anything new on eBay this week despite listing a bunch of new things (although a Longchamp I listed has a bid!).

I did NOT bake anything, or cook anything, or have any thoughts worth writing down, or watch any new TV shows.

I did NOT successfully avoid the despair that comes along with catching up on a season of Mad Men.

I did NOT solve any of the problems that have been hanging over my head or make any decisions about things that I've been meaning to make decisions about.

I did NOT do anything but put off the inevitable and procrastinate things all week long.

I did NOT act enthusiastic enough during Zumba to make it a worthwhile workout.

I'm in a rut, and I did NOT successfully climb out of it this week.  There's always next week, I guess.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lots Off My Chest

I forgot how utterly grueling those standardized tests can be.  I felt like it would never end, and when I got home I slept for two hours even though I got plenty of sleep the night before.

They give you your scores right when you finish now, which is nice because it eliminates the anxiety of anticipation but also annoying because the test is so fresh in your memory that you can't help but try to run through all the questions to figure out what you did wrong.

I found the math portion much harder than I expected, and I am pretty good with quantitative stuff so I imagine other people must have found it very difficult.  It's possible my scores will be scaled depending on how other people did; I imagine the scores in general on the quantitative reasoning section will be lower than average.

Either way, I did well.  I got a 167/170 on the quant and 162/170 on the verbal.  I was disappointed by the verbal score and felt the air get sucked out of me when I saw it but whatever, I'm not trying to get a master's in philosophy or reading comprehension so I imagine schools will understand.

I am just happy to have it no longer hanging over my head, this thing I should be studying for even though I don't feel like it.  I won't be able to put off doing work or writing here because I should really be doing more practice questions.

Over the weekend, we went to our cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education.  I got my mom spots in the Essentials of Tuscan Cooking class for her birthday, knowing her love of Italian food and my general indifference towards it that leaves us not getting it nearly as often as we should.  The class itself was interesting: there was no class, just a packet of recipes handed out and we split up into teams to work on them.  My responsibility was the Almond and Anise Biscotti which was delicious, and my mother made the Cipollini Agrodolce (sweet and sour onions) and Pappa al Pomodoro which was a strange mix of bread stewed in tomatoes and olive oil.  Everyone in the class seemed to have a pretty good grasp on cooking which made it fun, and it was nice talking to other people.  There seemed to be quite a few mother-daughters pairs there, putting me at ease that this wouldn't be heavily couple focused as these things sometimes are.


The classes were definitely expensive but I would look forward to doing another one, as it was a fun evening and there were even tons of leftovers for people to take home (not that we did).

It was beautiful out on Sunday so I wore my OD short pants, the shortest of the short. I bought these online anticipating ankle length and was too lazy to return, so whatever, I'm working with them.

shirt: j. crew striped sailor top || pants: j brand agnes coated jeans in stealth || bag: balenciaga black RH city || shoes: saks fifth ave black label nude randi flats

On Friday I am leaving for a weekend away with my boyfriend upstate and then we are having Easter at my house with his family on Sunday.  This whole thing is turning into much more of a fiasco than it should be and I'm honestly dreading it.  My mother and I have been wondering why we even offered but we are trying to make the best of a difficult situation.

Has anyone else ever had problems with an SO's family that at times seem insurmountable? It's scary because when you marry someone you really do marry their family as well, so it's just been making me dwell on these things a lot.  What do you do if someone's wonderful but you absolutely dread being around his family?  I've tried getting over it because I've never had any issue with someone's family before; in fact, most of my friends' families and I get along quite well.  It just doesn't seem to be something I can get over right now, and I don't want to constantly have to do things that make me miserable.  I even circle the block a few times when I stay at his house, trying to delay the inevitable, pondering just going home and playing sick.  I shouldn't feel that way, I'm pretty sure of it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Avoiding Life

It's incredible how deeply I feel the physical effects of stress.  I am taking the GRE tomorrow morning and even though I am plenty prepared and generally kill it on standardized tests, I still feel sick to my stomach about it.  I haven't even posted on here because I keep telling myself that I should be studying instead, letting the guilt keep me from getting anything done.

I ended up making that cake for my mother's birthday and it came out... adequate.  It was absolutely delicious, and looked like maybe a 12 year old had assembled it rather than a pre-school child, so that's definitely an upgrade over the last cake I attempted.  I am excited to post some pictures of it tomorrow once I'm done with this test.

I have been apprehensive about writing too much because I don't want to use up all my good writing vibes here and have none left for the GRE when I have to argue something I don't care about in the slightest.  When I don't write anything for a few days I feel as if I could ramble endlessly about anything, so I'm trying to keep some of that locked in before I unleash it tomorrow morning.

Wish me luck please! I will need it.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Too Invested

I don't ever go to the movies.  I'm not exaggerating - I saw one movie in 2013 and that was "Spring Breakers" and only out of morbid curiosity and because my friend promised we could pick up ice cream sundaes on the way.  It's not that I don't like them, I just don't like the way they make me feel.  Most good movies have some emotional element to them and I just find myself so mentally effected by movies that I just try to avoid them entirely.

Actually, this doesn't only apply to movies, it goes for TV shows as well.  The first season of Breaking Bad was almost impossible for me to watch, but I didn't want to be left out.  There's an episode of House that I have to turn off any time it comes on, and forget about if I pass "American Beauty" on one of the movie channels - just seeing the name reminds me of all the awful feelings I felt when I first saw it.

I remember seeing the movie "The Wackness" starring Josh Peck (literally from Drake and Josh or Josh and Drake, whatever that Nickelodeon show was) and I found it so upsetting that I felt inexplicably compelled to tell me then boyfriend I was miserable and break up with him immediately after watching it.  I just can't handle things

I've started watching Mad Men season 6 in preparation of the upcoming season on Sunday and I have to say, after the galvanizing fifth season, I am slumping into a very dark place.  I just cannot separate how I feel for these characters from how I feel about reality and I find myself overthinking everything way too much in light of how these characters change, or don't change.

I am going to try to finish the season today just so I can be done with it and not drag out feeling this way, but I apologize in advance for what are bound to be some bleak posts.  On the bright side, only 7 more episodes to go!

Yesterday was my mom's birthday.  She loved (I think) her present - a 4 hour cooking class at ICE called The Essentials of Tuscan Cooking on Sunday where we will make everything from Bellinis and Pear and Fennel Salad to Florentine Porterhouse and Biscotti.  It should be a good time, and I hope that my agonizing over which class to pick ended with me going with the right one.

Last night we went out to our favorite Mexican restaurant on Staten Island to celebrate, Paco's, with my boyfriend and her best friend.  Their margaritas are absolutely the best I've had anywhere - no sour mix involved and a really great 100% agave silver tequila.  Everyone's meals were fresh and delicious, and I wish I had saved some to eat today.

We thought we took some decent pictures of my outfit beforehand, but of course the memory card was not in the camera.  These pictures were after two pitchers of margaritas and my mom accusing me of having "drunk face" and so naturally I tried to prove her right.

top: babaton ainsley blouse || pants: rich and skinny coated jeans || jacket: zara essential tweed || bag: balenciaga papier two tone flap


I'm thinking about buying these but I'm not sure - are they hideous?  I can't tell.


Probably.  I have to bake something for my mom today but I'm not sure what to go with - do I try my hand at a sure to be doomed cake again or quit while I'm ahead?

I'm a masochist so I'm sure I'll be going with the cake, although I'm not insane so at least I'm not expecting different results here.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Problem with Client Based Work

I am a systems engineer first and foremost, but my boss is always quick to remind us that we are really salespeople at heart.  While the people on the sales side write up the actual proposals and schmooze with potential clients using the company's season tickets for two NFL teams, we have to develop the systems those guys promised and sell the client on why they meet their standards.

Clients tend to not know a whole lot about the system we work with (after all, that's why they hire us to do it) and so explaining why it works and why it's robust enough can often be a tough sell.  They ask stupid questions but, being clients, you can't tell them that they're stupid questions - you're forced to attempt to answer it as best, and as politely, as you can while simultaneously reassuring them and moving them along.

My day yesterday was spent with a well meaning but particularly tough client in the sense that he likes to do everything himself and that he gets caught up on the minutiae of a system and spends too much time on the little things.  Oh, and he tells way too many stories about his time working for a different pharmaceutical company and his wife.

Seriously, when I put my time in my description for the 7 hours spent with him was "Listening to client tell stories about his wife".

It would be so quick and easy for me to do the things expected of me and then test them to ensure they do what they are supposed to but instead I have to walk someone who is unfamiliar with the system through every single step (including hit the "Start" button) and it straight up takes for-ev-er.

Yesterday my boss implored me to stay on top of this guy to ensure that he didn't get caught up with other stuff and we actually finished what we were supposed to do, but when he goes off on a tangent how can I reel him back in?  If he asks to be left alone to work on some aspect of something, I can't just do what I did when I used to babysit and insist that his mother demanded I stay with him at all times to make sure he does his homework.

There's such a fine line between being forceful about getting work done and being naggy, and when this guy is bringing us millions and millions of dollars worth of business, I certainly don't want to piss him off by insisting that he stop showing me pictures from his vacation and keep moving.  I try to move the activities back to work at every possible moment but when he just wants to chat, dammit he's gonna sit there and chat.

I've always thought that switching over to the sales side wouldn't be as good for me because I am not the biggest fan of client relations, even though my bosses have insisted that they think I would do well over there and hope to have me transition to sales, but maybe those client relations would be better than the ones I have now.  Less technical explanations to laypeople, more company-sponsored sporting events, lots more fancy dinners on my company card... at least if I'm an actual salesperson I can accept that my responsibilities include salesperson actions, rather than being annoyed when talking to customers and feeling like the guy in Clerks who keeps repeating "I'm not even supposed to be here!"  When I'm stuck in a tiny room with some guy for 8 hours watching him procrastinate I can't help but think to myself that this crap wasn't even in my damn job description.

Oh well.

Today I had this idea of an outfit in my head but in execution it just did not work, leaving me with very little time to find something new, so naturally I threw on a dress because that's the easiest thing.  I probably should have skipped the tights but it felt super cold in my room with the window open this morning so I figured better safe than sorry.

Also, my hair has totally returned to original color so I think I'm going to have to do this ombre shit again, which is both terrifying and annoying.  Maybe I should just quit while I'm ahead, I don't know.

dress: alice and olivia employed v back dress || sweater: j. crew jackie cardigan in deep riviera || bag: balenciaga black RH city || shoes: saks fifth avenue black label randi flats

The literal worst client just strolled in so if you'll excuse me I have to go tell him why the green light is more of a neon green and can't be changed to a kelly green.  You know, assuaging a legitimate concern.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hourglass Immaculate Liquid to Powder Foundation, Final Review

I tried to like this.  I really, really did.


Color Match:

I've already griped about the color match I got but that's no fault of the foundation's.  The color of my Hourglass Immaculate Foundation was light but I guess not ridiculous since I haven't seen the sun in months, and I've used way too light foundations before and just covered them up with bronzer so how is this any different?

It's very different.  In the shade "Porcelain", this stuff is almost comically yellow toned and that does end up oxidizing into a very non-natural color on your face throughout the day.

Finish:

My main complaint, however, is the finish.  It's super, super matte and just looks very caked on, even when there's only one thin layer.  I know the bottle claims to be mattifying but I didn't expect it to be so matte, almost to the point of looking chalky.

Using other products on top of this to add some glow does not help.  I have very oily skin and so I hoped this would be a great product for me but it really wasn't.

Lasting Power:

My face didn't look as greasy at the end of the day but the foundation had still slid off of my nose and chin area, meaning I needed to touch up just as much, minus the blotting.

Application:

It balled up and flaked off during application whether with a brush, fingers or Beauty Blender.  I tried various moisturizers and serums under this to no avail.

Packaging:

The one upside was definitely the packaging - it's sturdy and the pump dispenses a good amount of product so you don't end up with way too much that gets wasted.  It is annoying that you can't see where you are in the bottle from the outside but that's really not a big deal to me at all since I normally get bored with something before I'm even done with it.

Don't worry though, I already ordered my YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat and I think it would have to be pretty awful to disappoint me after this stuff.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Easter Practice: Blueberry Cobbler with Cookie Dough Topping

For whatever reason, I always insist on practicing desserts I intend on making for an event some time beforehand for no real reason.

This seems logical, right?  The problem is that typically during the "practice run" the dessert will come together beautifully, taste perfect and look great, while then when I try to do it for real, some component isn't setting up right and the whole thing turns into a mess.  A good case in point would be my Bailey's truffles from the holiday season - I made them for a good friend's potluck and they were amazing and looked perfect, even though I wasn't overly concerned with how they looked since this friend has seen a ton of my baking creations and knows what I'm capable of (and how limited that is in terms of making things look appealing).  When I went to make them again for a friend's family Christmas party where no one has ever tried anything of mine before, I expected to breeze through the process again but this time the filling wasn't setting, the chocolate wasn't tempering and kept curdling, and the truffles absolutely needed to be refrigerated to make them not near impossible to eat.

Figures.

You'd think I'd have learned my lesson by now but I know if I skipped the practice run, I'd happen to pick a recipe that just doesn't work at all (looking at you, Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook recipes) and then I'd still be similarly panicked.



In looking for some way to use up a ton of blueberries that didn't require muddling at the bottom of a glass, I flipped through my mom's recipe box under "BLUEBERRY" until I found a recipe that she had already used (and written "very good" at the top of) so I knew my dessert craving would not be left unsatisfied by another bizarrely salty iteration of some fad dessert.

I had never made a cobbler before and did not at all anticipate how easy this would be.  It seriously took less than 15 minutes for this thing to be in the oven, and that's including time standing around waiting for the oven to heat up.  It was absolutely amazing warm with some vanilla ice cream on top, as the ice cream melting over the sugar cookie-esque topping made for the perfect juxtaposition with the slightly tart berry filling.  I halved the recipe and made it in an 8.5" round pan but only because I have no self control when it comes to resisting temptation.



Blueberry Cobbler with Cookie Dough Topping
recipe from Cook's Illustrated August 1990


Ingredients:
For the filling - 
  • 4 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen and thawed)
  • 5 Tablespoons white sugar
  • 3/4 Cup orange juice [GE: I used fresh squeezed for better flavor]
For the topping - 
  • 1 Cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Mix the filling ingredients in a 13x9" pan and set aside.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients for the topping (flour, baking powder, salt) in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together until well combined.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla; stir until blended.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  6. Drop the topping dough by the tablespoon on top of your filling, trying to cover the filling with even amounts without flattening and spreading out the dough.
  7. Bake 35 - 40 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and the topping is a golden brown.
  8. Let it cool a little and serve with vanilla ice cream.



Since I will be away the weekend before, I'm looking for some good make-ahead Easter desserts and while this was delicious, I don't think it satisfies that requirement.  Any suggestions?


Am I a Loser, or is Everyone Else Faking?

Sometimes I am afraid I enjoy downtime too much.  In fact, sometimes it gets to the point that I actually dread going out.  The whole process is annoying to me - getting dressed, praying everything comes out okay and the top you really had your heart set on is not in the wash, getting somewhere to pregame, getting to your final destination, maneuvering around a crowded bar and avoiding eye contact with that girl who used to be your roommate but now you can't stand the sight of, figuring out how everyone is going to get home, wanting to leave when your one friend insists on staying out until last call, wanting to leave when she then insists on going back to some guy's apartment to continue the party later, finally having to leave by yourself at 5 AM and take an expensive cab home, dealing with her calling you a party-pooper the next day... it's just not a fun experience for me.

I think I used to enjoy it a lot.  I used to enjoy getting ready with my friends and everything was just a close walk away but now we have to deal with cabs and public transportation and driving and everything seems like such a hassle, a hassle that's rarely, if ever, worth it.

That's not to mention the fact that I cannot, for the life of me, sleep past 6 AM anymore.  If I'm staying out until 4 AM it better be very worth it for me to have to function off of only 2 hours of sleep the next day.  In school, when I had a lot more free time during the day, this wasn't really an issue.  Now, my weekends are really my only free time to get things done so if they're spent laying on the couch watching that 60 hour Game of Thrones marathon, I feel like a waste of a human being.

I see pictures of everyone else out and having fun all the time on Instagram, but is it real?  Is everyone having as much fun as they say they are, or do they often (not always! but often) wish they were actually sitting in bed watching Dateline and dicking around on the internet with a margarita in hand like I do?

I don't remember when this change came about, but I hate it.  I so frequently dread doing things I know I should be enjoying, and then I get mad at myself both for having gone in the first place and for always ruining it for myself.  Frequently I will agree to things ahead of time - after all, going out on a Friday night sounds fine on Tuesday when I still have some leftover energy from the weekend but like a nightmare when I wake up Friday morning and realize it will be nearly 24 hours before I can sleep again - and then be forced to either suck it up and go and be miserable or ditch and look like a total flake.  Neither are very good options.

Sometimes I think it's my own self consciousness that keeps me from having fun, feeling ugly compared to the other girls in the room or feeling underdressed or comparing the people who come and talk to me (all zero of them) to the legions of men that will line up for a chance to chat up some of my friends.  It's okay, there's certainly more to life than being hit on, but it's certainly a blow to the self esteem when you spend an hour doing hair and makeup only to reach your destination and realize you're still way too pale, a little too chubby, and all-around not pretty enough.  

Now that I think of it, my own self consciousness and feelings of inadequacy are definitely the issue here.  But how do I get around that and learn to just let go and enjoy myself and not worry about what time I'm getting home or how much sleep I'll end up getting or how much money I'm spending on vodka clubs or how hideous I'll look in the pictures my friends will post on Instagram?

I just miss being able to have fun; I remember it fondly.

Friday, April 4, 2014

When Everything Goes Wrong

Sometimes I feel like I have these types of days with far more frequency than other people, but that's probably not possible.  I just beat myself up over everything all the time.  Anything that goes wrong for me I blame myself, to a fault.  It's good to take responsibility for your choices but I just dwell on them to the point that I make myself miserable, even if it's the slightest thing (like not checking the mirror outside the store before buying the wrong shade of makeup!).

This past weekend, I was pretty excited to replicate my favorite Entenmann's cake, the Filled Chocolate Chip Crumb (R.I.P.).

I rarely make cakes because of the difficulty involved and the opportunities for things to go wrong: first the layers have to bake through and be even, then you have to successfully get them out of the pans and set them aside until cooled, then your frosting has to be thick enough that it won't all squish out the middle but thin enough to be spreadable, then you need to make sure your layers aren't sliding all over when you stack them, then you have to frost the outside without everything falling apart, hoping that this frosting is the right consistency as well, and then it still looks like a kindergartener made it.

I knew this was an ambitious undertaking but I looked all over for recipes until I found one that would definitely hit the spot for me (i.e. it uses buttercream as the filling) from Rosie's Country Baking.

The recipe calls for using a six inch round pan but I don't have one, so I'll just double it and use an eight inch, right?  The area of a six inch round is 28.26 sq. in. so double that would give me 56.52 sq. in. of cake (assuming heights are equal).  The area of the eight inch round is 50.24 sq. in.  That's close enough, right?  Mine will just be a little thicker/taller.

Well, I underestimated how tall this guy was going to be.  While in the recipe she uses one pan and slices the cake in half, I had to make two layers in two separate pans and they still overflowed in the oven, offering that very disturbing smell of something seriously burning that you get when anything hits the oven floor.  It's very hard to accurately time how long something should be baking when that smell overwhelms you when you open the oven door; in your mind you know it's just that some of the crumb topping fell to the bottom and is burning but in your heart you're just panicking with the picture of a blackened-to-a-crisp crumb cake flashing before your eyes.


So far so good.

I did the toothpick test on the layer without the crumbs and it came out clean.  I carefully removed both from the over to let them cool while I got the buttercream together.

When they were cool enough, I took the first layer out.  It came out easily and I frosted it with the buttercream filling and it looked amazing so far, just like how I remembered.  My boyfriend had just walked in the door and he excitedly told me how great it looked and how excited he was to try it.

Confidently, I started to take out the top layer.

It was totally underbaked, the crumbs all escaped and there was still gooey batter in there that plopped on top of my single layer masterpiece.  It was just a fucking mess, all around.  So much promise, lost in an instant.  

I tasted an errant piece covered in buttercream.  Absolutely delicious.  The cake was moist and the chocolate chips were a great added touch and the buttercream just pushed everything over the top into heavenly decadence.

The real unfortunate part here is that I had made it so I could give most of it to my boyfriend, thus removing all temptation for myself, but it was far too hideous to allow other people to see knowing I made it.  Begrudgingly, I had to finish the whole thing with my mom that weekend.  Somehow, we managed.

I was able to get one decent looking slice out of it:


But don't let that fool you, because this is what the rest looked like after taking that slice out:


I had ideas about baking my mom a really nice cake for her birthday next weekend but maybe this is a sign that I should just never bake a again.  I'm firmly of the belief that as long as it tastes good I'll eat it but I can't imagine many people reaching for some of my baked goods when offered a choice at a party.

Cake baking: totally worth the risk to your self esteem if you get to eat the whole thing.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Short Pants

Being a tall woman, it is very hard to find pants that are the appropriate length.  These Minnie pants from J. Crew are definitely supposed to be closer to ankle length whereas on me they are definitely closer to cropped/capri length.  I even bought these in the tall size and they're still way too short!

That's okay, I don't think the length looks terrible but it certainly makes dressing in the winter difficult.  As today it is supposed to exceed 60 degrees (!!!), I decided maybe it was time to bring them back out without feeling too bad for my cold, bare ankles.

top: magaschoni leopard pin dot shell || pants: j. crew minnie pants || sweater: tory burch cardigan || bag: fendi colorblock chameleon || shoes: saks fifth ave black label randi flats


I'm just relieved that the winter is over (hopefully) I have a lot more variety to choose from in the bottoms department!


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My FAVORITE Color

I don't generally wear a lot of color.  It's just easier to match when you're wearing all neutrals and you don't have to worry about whether or not this shade of beige looks good with this shade of navy because the answer is always yes.

I try to break out of my dark, neutral toned shell but it's hard.  I will buy things that are colorful and then they sit in my closet for years, unworn and usually still with tags on, until I decide to just donate them because I know I'm never going to get around to it.

I think part of the reason it's so hard is because I have no idea what looks good with my skin tone.  I have tried to figure out if I'm cool or warm-toned but all websites seem to have conflicting advice.  Some sites say warm-toned is having pink undertones, while others say warm-toned is the opposite and is having yellow undertones.  A good test, or so I've read, is to look at the veins on your wrist and if they look bluish you're cool-toned and if they're greenish you're warm-toned, but what if they are teal with a very even distribution of blue and green?

Even with makeup it's impossible.  When I was in high school, in a desperate attempt to keep me from looking orange my mom took me to MAC and told them to tell me what to do.  She had never worn makeup and apparently the Dream Matte Mousse in medium tan I was buying to help me look less pale was not working for me (shocker!).  They picked out an NC color for me, which the woman explained was because I am cool-toned.  When I went back to try a different formulation, the new artist picked out an NC color for me and told me it was because I am warm-toned and the cool tones in the makeup help neutralize it.  I've been lost ever since.

Whatever my undertone is, I love this super bright orange-y red crepe tee from J. Crew.  I have a few of their items in this color, seemingly interchangeably known as "Vibrant Flame", "Modern Red", and "Bright Persimmon".  I have arguments with people about this color often - when I look at it I see red but other people tell me it's orange.  Either way, I'm into it.

shirt: j. crew matte crepe tee in bright persimmon || pants: j. crew paley pant || bag: fendi colorblock chameleon || shoes: bcbgeneration tinas pumps in nude textured


I think that last picture had potential if it weren't so blurry.  Is it rude to fire your mother as your photographer?  In some of these the shirt looks definitely orange but I think the close up picture is a better representation of the real color and it looks red.  I never thought I'd be out of college and debating this much about what category a color falls under.