Ridiculous Banana Bread

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Anyone with a toddler knows how fussy they can be about food. One day they love something, the next you can’t get them to touch it. So, when we bought a bunch of bananas because he went through this nanosecond phase of being willing to eat them, I had hoped it would be a trend for better eating.

 

It wasn’t.

 

So, I had to figure out something do with the extra bananas which were quickly going south in the kitchen.

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Preheat the oven to 350. Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl. (I wish I could say I was fancy and that there’s some magic order to this, but honestly, I’ve messed around with the order of things and it’s always come out yummy.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg beaten
Pinch of salt
2-3 bananas

Pour into a large greased bread tin and bake for about an hour (or until a toothpick comes clean out of the center of the loaf).

It’s super yummy the day of, but if you need to store it, I put it in a plastic bag in the fridge for a few days. (Or at least that’s as long as it lasted.) Be sure to heat the slice up in the microwave for a few seconds to make the chocolate all soft and melty again. Enjoy!

Gym thoughts

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One of my resolutions after my son was born was a commitment to fitness. Before I became pregnant, I could have cared less about going to work out on a regular basis. Now I’ve got reasons, to set a good example for my son, to stay healthy, and to help me feel comfortable in my skin.

But, just because I drag myself to the gym doesn’t mean that I enjoy it. It’s a vulnerable and anxiety provoking experience for me. Typically, just getting in the building is hardest part. It’s gotten easier though.

Most weeks I leave right after work, bringing my trusty old gym back, dutifully packed with the necessities. I like the walk in to the gym in my work clothes. I feel most confident in my professional attire, like people are less likely to mess with me or something. But, it does add the additional tricky element of having to change in the women’s locker room.

Thankfully there is a changing area with a curtain so I don’t have to put myself through the incredibly exposed scenario of having to change my clothes in front of strangers. My OCD knows damn well how filthy the floor of the locker room must be so I’ve trying to devise the most efficient, least contamination method for preparing for working out.

The curtained changing area benefits others as well. To put someone through the almost certain awkward hell it is to watch my poorly thought out transitions from my work clothes to my gym clothes whilst avoiding touching the filthy floor is not something I’d wish on anyone, let alone some random stranger.

But soon I’m ready to go, with my ipod and earbuds in. I have a good workout playlist, although it’s going through some revisions. I like to start out a little slow on the elliptical machine, working through a higher resistance to shake out the muscles a bit. Then I pick up the tempo to high energy music, bonus points for silly lyrics or anything that let’s me bounce around like a total idiot.

I’m well aware of my behavior, but it’s the only way I can really get a workout and not totally hate it. So, yeah, there’s probably some vines or random videos people may have taken of the crazy white lady bopping around at the YMCA. Maybe. Whatever.

I can’t argue with the results, though. After about 30 minutes of cardio, I feel invincible. Sometimes, I’ll hit the weight machines if I’ve got more time. But because my husband’s usually home watching our son, I try not to keep them waiting.

Foto Friday – Storm Clouds

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Happy Foto Friday, everyone! Today we continue our cloud series. The very first thing that I began to photograph obsessively when I first got into photography was the sky. I was obsessed. After a while, though, I branched out into other things. But recently, a summer storm whipped through and in the early evening the sun was setting as the sky cleared. I stood out on my deck and shot these as the sky lit up like fire. Enjoy!

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Clarinet Concerto

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My favorite piece of classical music is Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major (adagio). The first time I heard it was on one of those classical music box sets that I’d gotten for Christmas. Mozart is always such an intriguing artist, prodigy, superstar, genius tormented by inner demons. This piece is probably not as well known as other pieces people think of when they think of Mozart, but I contend that it stands on its own quite beautifully.

The piece begins with a lilting solo of a sweet breath of a melody, followed soon after by swelling strings. The notes stretch out together like a creature rising from a night’s slumber, long sinewy measures move into more alert and spry interpretations on the theme.

Eventually the movement develops into the full-fledged complexity of Mozart’s brilliance. Jaunty, more developed musical conversation flits away as quickly and easily as it was roused. And the gorgeous, feline melody settles back down on itself and returns to sleep. Easily the most beautiful seven minutes one can experience musically, in my opinion.

NSFW

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I thought I could push myself outside my comfort zone and phone it in on a sexy toy party my dear friend was throwing. I was wrong.

My dear friend could pretty much ask me anything and, if it were within my power, I would do it. We’ve had to ask a lot of each other at times, support during a rough spot, but also to celebrate in each other’s triumphs. Her friendship is my touchstone in dark places and I absolutely love her.

So, when she texted me the story that she was throwing a “sexy toy party” and I “had” to come, I had to take a breath. “That is so far outside of my comfort zone,” I reply. I ask for time to think about it. I talk to my husband to get his thoughts.

He writes “butt plug convention” on the refrigerator calendar. I snap a photo and send it to her with the caption “He says I can go to your party…”

The fateful night arrives and I stop at the liquor store for a six pack of pumpkin ale as a hostess gift, and my gay bff texts me a picture of his boyfriend’s bottle opener: a carved wooden phallus.

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I meet some absolutely lovely people, who, under other circumstances, would have been great to meet. But instead they got to watch me have a panic attack and meltdown on the front porch.

The party had taken on the very aggressive sales pitch in no time flat. The woman began by spraying the room, explaining only after that it was indeed with pheromones, remarking how she used the very same spray to breed dogs. She went on to describe the veritable dog orgy that took place in a way that vibrated the creep centers in my brain to their core.

She told us how we too would soon resort to the same desires as she filled the air with the sweet smelling spray. The dogs began to howl outside and no one really seemed to care but me. The impending dog lust seemed like more than I signed up for.

The woman continued over the barking about her products in her line. The lubes were all vegan, but I had no idea what that even meant. But before I could dwell on it, she dropped the bomb on all the kindergarten teachers in the room (of which there were surprisingly many).

The sexy toys were in fact, made by “children in factories in China.” So, she says, they don’t always work. If this was intended to perhaps inform the room of the return policy or to discourage its use, I doubt we’ll ever know. The mood in the room dropped so fast, there was a collective sigh of dismay.

So, before I was just worried about the potential dog gang rape, now I’m forced with the mental image of poor children in factories in China making sexy toys? Is that thought a sex crime, because it felt like it.

Thoroughly disturbed and not ten minutes in, I’m struggling and failing to hold it all together. The woman hasn’t missed a beat in her pitch, saying how this horrific experience is somehow superior to shopping for adult novelty alone. She described purchasing one from a seedy gas station attendant, fully dropping the full descriptors of the female anatomy.

I try to remain body positive and all that, but it’s difficult. The woman begins describing a “water experiment” where we yell things we hate at a bucket of water. I honestly can’t tell you why because my dearest friend yanked me from the room moments before the weight of the panic attack descended on me

I stood in the foyer and lost my breath. Stepping out into the night air, she followed me. It was the easily one of the kindest moments of care-taking I’ve ever experienced in my life.

Eventually I caught my breath and noticed a few more women had joined us. I guess I wasn’t the only uncomfortable one there. We rallied on the porch, chatting and laughing as the party raged on inside without us.

I never was able to go back in and join them, spending more and more time on the porch like a embarrassed middle schooler huddled up in the ladies room at a school dance. I felt every inch that same overdressed, underdeveloped child, so I waved my goodbyes and drove home.

I expected to take myself out of my comfort zone, but I hadn’t expected to fail. What I learned though, was that the people who love me will be there when I fail, and pick me back up again.

Foto Friday – Storm Clouds

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Happy Foto Friday, everyone! Today we continue our cloud series. The very first thing that I began to photograph obsessively when I first got into photography was the sky. I was obsessed. After a while, though, I branched out into other things. But recently, a summer storm whipped through and in the early evening the sun was setting as the sky cleared. I stood out on my deck and shot these as the sky lit up like fire. Enjoy!

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Beloved compliment spam

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I got the following (in quotes) in an email spam and it was too good not to post here for maximum awesome!

Dear Beloved.

Who me? Did I stumble into a wedding?

Compliment of the day to you.

Not unlike the soup de jour, strange, unsavory and containing the leftovers from a hundred scraps from yesterday. I’m hoping the compliment of the day comes with bread or some lovely oyster crackers.

Please accept my apologies for intercepting your privacy.

So polite, so accurate.

I am Ms Tranko Wall,

Clearly a robot name. This is not my first brush with the fawning attempts at robot sentience, but it’s nice to see them trying.

I have been diagnosed

With? No? Nothing? Just the next statement? Ok.

My motive of contacting you is based on

Again. No answers. Is this like an existential fill-in-the-blank?

 Distribute my funds to the motherless, less privileged and widows.

You are not the boss of me!

I have been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer.I have only about a few months to live and I want you to Distribute my funds($US 10,300,000.00 million) to charities.

Nice try! I know your robots don’t even have esophagi! And, you’d think “someone” with this much money would have a plan in place for their funds. I mean, where are you keeping it, in giant shoeboxes under your bed? Another trickery there, robots don’t wear shoes!

reply me email on this email

Que? Do what with the what now?

Remain blessed in the name of the Lord.Yours in Christ,Ms Tranko Wall

Whatever you say, Ms. Robot Lady. You stay in Christ over there. Imma get me some froyo!

Jimmy Thing…

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For my husband’s 35th birthday, I bought him tickets for one of his bucket list concerts: Jimmy Buffett. We’re a bit fussier about venues as we get older. Our social phobia, claustrophobia, and agoraphobia seem to deepen with time, so to go out for a show, it must really be worth it.

I’ve always imagined Jimmy Buffett a party concert. A scene would be full of drunken revellers, all part of one great backyard blowout, which then incidentally also had this good time rock & roller. I realize nowadays, to call him a rocker isn’t really accurate. Since “It’s 5:00 somewhere” came out, he’s been more closely aligned with the modern country music scene, where musicians like Alan Jackson and that other guy with the cowboy hat, and that other guy with the cowboy hat, have seen the wisdom in the profit he makes by aligning himself with a marketable fanbase with pocket money.

The show itself was held Labor Day weekend at Hershey Park, about two hours away. The plan was to head up Saturday afternoon, then stay overnight in Harrisburg, since it would be too late to drive home. We didn’t end up leaving until almost 3:00, by the time our sitter arrived. We drove straight to the park, and planned to check-in to the hotel after.

The drive was pretty, through Lancaster Amish country, towns like Intercourse, Bird-in-Hand, and Smoketown, as horse drawn buggies hugged the side of the road and smattering of horse droppings dotted the roadside. Arriving at the concert, the place was totally jammed. Not only was their concert traffic to deal with, but the full freight of a sunny Saturday afternoon at a major amusement park.

Everywhere you looked, there were tailgaters, all clad in varying degree of unintentional cosplay. Hawaiian shirts, grass skirts, shark hats, flower leis, like we all just accidentally stepped off a plane in some random tropical island. I’ve never seen so many stereotypical white folks in one place at once. And people were just so unapologetically wasted, staggering around, yelling into their cell phones, and not a single person got 86’ed for drinking too much.

The show itself didn’t begin until 8:30, so we had some time to kill. The venue had gourmet food trucks, standard state fair style concessions, along with a few beer tents. Of course, it was all highway robbery, but this crowd could handle the milking, sopping up PBR and Sierra Nevada for $9 a cup.

With an hour to kill before the main act started, people had nothing to do but drink and stagger around, trying to interact with other drunk people. Most of them had success, but we got cornered in the beer line by a man who had to have been at least in his late 60’s who was so drunk we couldn’t understand a word of what he’s saying. Which I told him, and then was so not interested in communicating with him, that I made up an excuse to leave the line.

When it was time, we made our way into the stadium, which was absolutely jammed with people, humming excitedly with anticipation. Our seats were near the stage, but up high. The sun had set by now, and the cool breeze was lovely in the warm summer air. The day had threatened to rain, but the sky was clear and true now. From our vantage point, we could see the golf cart bringing Mr. Buffett to the staging areas. He realized this quickly, as the crowd recognized him and began to cheer. He cast a friendly wave, like a cool uncle at a summer barbeque.

I must give the man credit. His live sets are fantastic. His band is tight, he mixes up a fun, expected set of hits and unexpected pieces, including Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, which was reproduced in flawless homage to the original. We left the venue a bit early, hoping to beat out the traffic, but were thwarted by a complete log jam of poor traffic police management. At one point, we put the car in park and turned off the engine because we hadn’t moved in so long.

By the time we got to our hotel, it was well past midnight. My husband’s diamond level status with Hilton failed us though, as the room had been given away. The night manager had little to say, other than you can try the Clarion hotel down the street. We were so disgusted that we ended up driving through the night back home, and took it up with customer relations the next day. Eventually, they worked out the details, but our great concert experience was unfortunately forever tainted by the bullshit nonsense we had to endure at the end.

 

Foto Friday – Storm Clouds

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Happy Foto Friday, everyone! Today we continue our cloud series. The very first thing that I began to photograph obsessively when I first got into photography was the sky. I was obsessed. After a while, though, I branched out into other things. But recently, a summer storm whipped through and in the early evening the sun was setting as the sky cleared. I stood out on my deck and shot these as the sky lit up like fire. Enjoy!

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OPT – My first boyfriend

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When I was small, love seemed like a fantasy, something that only happened to other people and witnessed vicariously. I had crushes on boys, because I thought I should. The ones who seemed like they had their shit together and never talked to me were the ones I liked best.

My middle school had monthly dances, which gave the popular kids a chance to pair up. Their sterile swaying side-by-side formed an impenetrable snake of popularity across the gym to 90’s love songs. You were either in it or you weren’t. Those of us who weren’t felt the chasm of rejection in a big way.

In those days, I wanted nothing more than to be popular, to fit in and to tap that unknowable vibe that all the popular kids seamlessly flowed into, without effort or awareness. I went to nearly 30 school dances before one boy finally asked me to dance. He was the younger brother of a girl I sort of knew, rail thin and awkward like me. In those days, a two year age difference was a like a kiss of death, the stink of desperation for chumming the sea of underclassman for love. The bullies’ work was cut out for them, jokes practically writing themselves. Still he was a nice enough kid, and no one had ever asked me before, so I said yes.

We didn’t join the winding snake of couples, but danced quietly in the corner near the coats were hung. My friends awkwardly stood around, until one asked loudly if we were “going out,” a term akin to marriage in the middle school level. We looked awkwardly at each other and sort of shrugged. I guess that was his way of saying yes, but nothing was very official about it.

Going home that night, my stomach began to sink, the charm of the idea of having my first dance wore off so quickly, I began to hate myself for wanting it in the first place. Now I was stuck with a boyfriend I wasn’t sure I wanted. The news at school would travel quickly and I began to panic.

It was close to Christmas when he began to call me. Every day, I tried to keep up my end of the conversation, but soon found we had little in common. When we returned to school after winter break, he would leave notes for me in my locker, but we never saw each other. But for the teasing I endured from my classmates, it was almost like he didn’t really exist.

The bullies, as predicted, were all over this juicy development in my previously non-existent love life, asking with all the disgust they could muster if it was true. They may as well have asked if I were eating garbage on a pile of dead kittens. I didn’t know how to answer, only knowing I had to end things with this boy.

The best I could do was focus on a comment he’d made that my locker was messy, a flimsy excuse at best, but it would do. I broke it off and went back to pining over the unachievable boys in my own grade. I wouldn’t date again for another two years, each time that followed a more awkward and forced foray into the bizarre than the last.

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