Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Candle Addicts Anonymous

A few years ago I heard a comedian quip, "Candles are to old ladies what cats once were." This weekend I saw the dark truth behind the joke. I ventured into housewife territory like never before and attended a candle party.
I knew I was in for it when the perky, over-accessorized-for-a-Sunday-afternoon woman asked "Is there anyone who has never been to a candle party before?" I raised my hand expecting to be one among many, but no, I was the sole hand-raiser. I was terrified and rightfully so.
When, purely out of guilt, I agreed to attend this candle party I expected mimosas, bloody marys and snacks while we sat around and talked about how funny it was that we were at a candle party. Instead we had non-alcoholic fruit punch, diet coke and chick
en salad with grapes in it (my hatred for fruit in my chicken salad will be discussed at another time).
The candle lady stood in front of her shrine like she was the Patron Saint of Flowery Smelling Shit. Her candles filled the air with artificial scents like Chocolate Coconut Cascade and Lilac Spa Fantasy. She began by giving us raffle tickets and asking us to please, say your name, how you know the hostess and why you think I have been doing this for 17 years.
Why I think you've been doing this for 17 years? OH MY GOD! I almost crapped my pants.
This woman has been selling candles for 17 years and she wants me to tell her why! It's like she stood up in front of the room and said, "Allrighty, let's start this party off by ragging on me. " My head swirled with reasons. Here are just a few:

1. You are very lonely and use these "parties" as a way to make friends.
2. You are an Andy Kaufman-like comedian who is living your life in this ridiculous fashion to see how people react to you.
3. You are an escaped mental patient and we are all going to be killed and enrobed in french vanilla wax.

I'm glad I didn't say any of these because, believe it or not, this wasn't performance art. She just loves her some fucking candles. And she explained how she is able to bring in $5000 a month with the gig. She also told us how we could enjoy such a lifestyle, if only we decided to join her little club. The other women in the room seemed oblivious to the pyramid scheme pitch. Do they seriously believe that this woman makes $5000 a month selling wax to housewives? Was I missing something here?

I started to notice that the candle lady talked about her wares as if they were artwork. "This is a real conversation piece," she would say, or, "People see this in a house and think, 'Wow, there must be an interesting story behind that."

Candles just don't do this for me. I will never stand around and discuss the merit of a candle. What's interesting about telling someone you bought a candle in someone else's living room? "Hey, where did you get that candle?"
"Oh, I got that at a candle party."
That's the conversation.

The candle lady then went on to tell everyone about her addiction to candles. That morning at church, she told us, her priest asked them to pray for people with addictions. She, of course, thought he was talking about her and her candle addiction. As if her obsession was on par with alcoholism or drug addiction. She admitted to having panic attacks if there were not enough candles in the room. I was waiting for Tyler Durden to burst through the wall and throw lye on her face. I completely lost it. This was the most ridiculous thing I had been a part of in quite some time. The other women were eating it up and agreeing with her desire to own all the candles. All the candles in the whole world.

I had just regained my composure when she pulled out a bag full of pennies. Everyone stepped up and took one and each time the candle lady said "Penny for your thoughts" in pretty much the same manner a priest says "Body of Christ." We were supposed to tell her which candle we liked best and why. I had to manufacture an emotion about a candle. Thank god I spent those years doing improv!

Once we all had our pennies we then used them to purchase a votive for a penny. What a great deal! The only catch is, on the bottom of the votive is a piece of paper. On the paper it says to pick a prize or Fast $50. If you choose Fast $50 you "get to" book a show with her on the spot. I prayed that the four people who landedFast $50s before me had eliminated them all. I watched as my friend Tina, the only other person disturbed by the absurdity, sat sweating, hoping she would get the prize and not the booking. But Tina did pick the Fast $50 and suddenly it was my turn. I approached the votives like a soldier who's entire platoon has been shot down but still storms the beach. Thanks to some divine intervention I was the only person to pick a prize.
I took my shitty candle and didn't have to talk to the ringleader of this circus of insanity. Tina, on the other hand, was forced into picking a date and promising this sad woman that she would, indeed, invite ten of her friends over to purchase candles.

In the end I placed my order, trying desperately to get away with a cheap holder out of the magazine. I had done my part, spent $28 dollars and could get the hell out. I handed in my order and breathed a sigh of relief. It was all over. Or so I thought. The Candle lady called me over and told me that one of the other guests did not use the 50% off they qualified for so I could use it. It's just that, and her hands were really tied on this one, I had to spend at least 40 dollars. I thought, okay, I'll get to $40. Half off will be $20 so in the end I get more stuff for less. Apparently I do not speak the candle language. I added the products she recommended which brought me to $45 then she took off the discount but I still owed $40. WTF? It turns out the half off applies to one candle which was $10. I couldn't take it anymore. I said 'fine' and walked away. Tina grabbed me and we made our escape.

Though I am embracing this housewife lifestyle, I am not embracing these parties anymore. Please do not invite me because I will not come. Do not guilt me because I will feel no guilt.
The afternoon of February 22nd was a dark day and, in the words of Rudy Guillani, I will never forget.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bacon Night

When I first heard the words "bacon night" I didn't know how to feel. On one hand, free bacon at a bar sounds gross. That's pretty clear. I think of drunk guys who haven't washed their hands reaching for bacon out of a communal pot licking the grease from their fingers and going back in again. I think of an already overweight Pittsburgh population cracking one more notch in the belt. I think of Orson, Babe and Porky huddled together in the back kitchen, Porky tearfully muttering, "That's all folks."

On the other hand....I freaking love bacon! It is possible that knowing I shouldn't be eating this delicious fatty pork adds to the allure...it is like smoking a cigarette or having sex outdoors. It's dangerous, it's greasy, it is awesome. Bacon is one of those foods that have a hold on my heart. The idea of a cold beer and a free strip of bacon is exactly what you need on a Tuesday night.

Enter Harris Grill, where Tuesday night is bacon night. Free bacon at the bar. Baskets to your table for just a dollar. And the whole place smells with the perfect aroma of bacon, not too strong but enough to make you salivate. The bacon on the bar sat in little baskets and did not in any way appear gross. Strips of bacon are much more grabbable than nuts or popcorn. The place was crowded for a cold Tuesday night, humble pilgrims come to kneel before the other white god. I heard glasses clink with the toast "to Bacon" and orders being shouted for "more bacon please". I wondered if this was what heaven would be like.

In the end we got a table and some apps.which were all tremendous, especially the coconut curry mussels. I noticed the menu had "chicken fried bacon." This is something I saw once on TV from a place down south, something I had already started planning the road trip to. But now it looks like I can sample this gluttonous absurdity in my own back yard! I could not order it tonight, though. That, my friends, is the holy grail of bacon. Dipped, deep fried fat. Oh my! That needs to be an event and I need a full physical before I attempt to eat it. Watch your phones people, I may just be calling on you to join me at a Tuesday night, bacon night, sometime soon.

Monday, February 16, 2009


I've never really liked scones. They remind me of chain coffee shops with stale displays behind their counter. They're what you get at Starbucks when they're out of brownies. I had a low opinion indeed until my friend Brian whipped up at batch one crisp fall morning. He opened my mind to them with his delicious recipe. I thought, if a guy who puts ketchup on pasta can make scones that taste this good, I may need to look again at this misjudged morning pastry. Since then I have been wanting to whip up a batch myself. Six months later- here we go.

I used a recipe from Tyler Florence on the food network site. I chose this one specifically because I had all the ingredients on hand this morning. It was a good move. These scones are fluffy. Light and sweet. I added 1 tsp. vanilla to the recipe and I though I can't really taste it I have to think it is doing something good in there.

Orange Glazed Blueberry Scones
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence

Prep Time:10 minInactive Prep Time: hr minCook Time:50 min
6 to 12 scones
2 cups unbleached flour, plus more for rolling berries
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut in chunks
3/4 cup buttermilk or cream
1 egg
1 pint fresh blueberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar; mix thoroughly. Cut in butter using 2
forks or a pastry blender. The butter pieces should be coated with flour and resemble crumbs.

In another bowl, mix buttermilk and egg together, and then add to the flour mixture. Mix just to incorporate,
do no overwork the dough. Roll blueberries in flour to coat, this will help prevent the fruit from sinking to the bottom of the scone
when baked. Fold the blueberries into batter, being careful not to bruise. Drop large tablespoons of batter on
an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until brown. Cool before applying orange glaze.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 oranges, juiced and zested
To prepare Orange Glaze: combine butter, sugar,
orange zest, and juice over a double boiler. Cook until butter and sugar are melted and mixture has thickened.
Remove from heat and beat until smooth and slightly cool. Drizzle or brush on top of scones and let glaze get
hazy and hardened.

craft of the day.

Apparently this past weekend i took some craft crack. I have a new found energy and I am ready to let it explode in your face.

First Stop-exploding brick book ends.

For when you need to hold up books... or other objects similar to books.
* grab some bricks from the pile in your backyard. If you do not have a pile of bricks in your back yard, ask a neighbor.
* wrap bricks in foil or saran wrap to keep all the bugs that are living inside trapped there.

* wrap bricks in decorative wall paper or wrapping paper that has been sitting in your closet waiting to be used for some time.

* put on shelf with books in between.

*these bookends are exploding only because according to nick they were made using exploding bricks, opposed to the bricks treated to not explode.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Goodbye Margo Tenenbaum.

A few weeks ago I returned from a business trip to LA but my bags decided to stay a few more days. This is the fifth time I've left an airport without my luggage, so I was used to it, but my winter coat was in my bag and I really needed that coat. I know I shouldn't have taken it. It was over seventy degrees the whole time I was there. But I didn't mean to. My plans were to leave it in the car when Sean dropped me off except it was so damn cold that my brain froze solid in my head. I looked like an Eskimo with dorky glasses hailing cabs in my ice fishing gear. So I lugged it around the whole time I was there and then didn't have it when I flew back to 10 degree weather. This was even a bigger problem because we were going to attend the inauguration of the first black president the following day. I had no coat to wear to DC and according to weather.com I would be freezing my ass off while shouting "O Baum Ah."
I ventured to the attic and found a space-saver bag full of old coats. My choices ranged from a Worldwide Pants Letter Jacket (with leather sleeves and all) to a black suede trench coat that I somehow thought was cool at one point in my life. I struggled and eventually landed on a costume from Halloween past.

Oh, Margot Tenenbaum, I have missed you. In my imagination this coat would be fine to wear for a weekend. It may actually look cool if I wore it right. This was actually not true. Not true at all. The moment I stepped outside I became instantly aware of how stupid I looked. I suddenly flashed back to junior high when I wore a pink sports bra and green leggings in my performance of "part of that world" from the Little Mermaid in the junior high talent show. I flashed to the time I wore a costume of an angel to kindergarten on All Saint's Day because I mistakenly thought we were supposed to. Suddenly the generic skidz I wore in 6th grade didn't seem all that bad. At least I was young enough during those instances to claim I didn't know better. But I am 29 years old. I've been around the block- I should have known better.
I looked like a fool. We went for brunch and I think I actually heard people laughing at me. It really was that bad. I have gained some Pittsburgh pounds since moving to the city where french fries are automatically put on everything from sandwiches to salads. The coat would not button, the shoulders were too snug and walking around with the coat open gave me something of a pimp strut and made me so cold I was turning a pale purple. It was not a good look.

I gave up on the coat and borrowed a friend's for the weekend realizing that I had to put the days of the Margot Tenenbaum coat behind me forever.
When I returned home Steve H. was all too excited to snuggle with the faux fur atrocity. I decided then and there, it would be his. Goodbye Margot Tenenbaum, it was nice knowing you. I will miss your dark eyes and your polo dress. I will miss your brooding attitude, your wooden finger, and the accessory of a cigarette. I just hope Steve loves you as much as I once did.

Instructions for making a dog bed out of an old faux Fur coat.
1. Admit you can not wear coat
2. Remove shoulders from coat.
3. stuff coat with 2 cheap pillows. (much cheaper than trying to fill it with that cotton fiber fill crap)
4. Use fabric glue to hem sides.
5. give to dog.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentines Day?

I am not a Valentine's Day person. I neither love nor hate the holiday. It's just that I'm a Halloween and 4th of July kind of girl. Those holidays make sense to me. One lets you dress up in costume and eat a bunch of candy and the other calls for sitting outside all day drinking and eating hamburgers.
Valentine's Day ranks up there with New Year's Eve on overrated holidays that I feel indifferent toward. It creates a self-imposed pressure that results in spending a lot of money in the hopes of getting laid. I see girls overdressed meeting up with guys in t-shirts and dirty jeans. I see men crowded around a wilted flower display in Rite-aid looking to pick up what they need to keep that special lady in their life from crying.
I find it fascinating that people can actually hate Valentine's Day too. I've worked in offices where V-Day is an annual bitch-fest about how no one understands them, no one will ever love them, they didn't want a date anyway 'cause this day is just a scam for Godiva to sell chocolates. These complainers put as much effort into the day as those who base their worth on the size of a heart-shaped box they receive from some duesh they went out with twice. To ride so much on a holiday like this is beyond my romantically deprived mind.
I neither condemn or applaud Valentine's Day. But I do find some value in it because it inspired me to make some mini-cakes that turned out to be quite possibly the best dessert ever produced in my kitchen. They are tiny little bites of lust.

Lust Bites
Disclaimer: Okay fine, i used a boxed mix and pre-made frosting. Get over it already! Who are you to judge!

Red Velvet cake mix
1 can premium cream cheese frosting
semi sweet chocolate chips
milk chocolate chips
white chocolate chips

1. Bake the cake according to the directions (I always use buttermilk in place of water and add a little vanilla)
2. After cake is cool crumble into a large bowl and add frosting
3. mix cake and frosting until well combined
4. Roll into balls or form squares
5. chill your balls for a a few hours
6. Melt semi sweet or milk chocolate in double boiler
7. dip your balls in it (I used an offset spatula to smooth out the top and make sure all sides were covered)
8. let chocolate harden
9. melt white chocolate and use to decorate

*idea generated from http://bakerella.blogspot.com/*

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Dear Pittsburgh,
Please stop making yourself look stupid by acting like the Sushi at Nakama is edible.


It's back on!

The end of the year called for me to make up all the work I pushed away throughout the year. I will not go into detail here out of fear someone who signs my paycheck will stumble upon this and figure out my secret.....

But, I am caught up now which means more blogs are coming your way. Stay tuned.