Because, Hemingway.

"Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over."
-Ernest Hemingway

Kentucky Bluegrass bred which means March Madness is my favorite time of year. Co-Editor of Around the Foghorn. Avid San Francisco Giants fan and not-so-closeted Pittsburgh Pirates fan. AT&T Park is my second favorite place on earth, the first being Scottsdale Stadium during Spring Training. Halfway through visiting all the MLB stadiums. Fueled by WordPress and my rainbow of Chucks.

Year of Change

2014 was a weird year. I mean, I could bust out a Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” quote and it would be accurate, but I guess that’s a bit cliché.

More than anything, it was a year of change. Most of that change was a result of the “worst of times,” but some of it led to some pretty good things.

What I will say though is that while I did not enjoy 2014, and while I’m ready for it to be over, some of it needed to happen. 2014 pushed me farther emotionally than I’ve been in a very long time.

And I survived.

I survived working in a miserable environment until May 21st when I took a leap of faith and just resigned from my job of ten years without another job or plan in place, other than support from my husband, knowing that my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health depended on it.

I survived my Granny suddenly passing away, even though it breaks my heart every day.

I survived leaving my job and friends and moving to a new apartment, all in the same weekend that my grandmother died. Talk about major life event stressors…mine decided to binge stress me.

I survived being unemployed for the first time since shortly after graduating college, and the task of job hunting. I mean, really, is there anything worse?

I survived being rejected for job after job. Oh, and there are worse things than job hunting.

I survived starting a new job that I really wasn’t sure I wanted. I mean, I really was afraid and didn’t want to be there.

I survived, and in the end, most of it was worth it.

I am happy in my new apartment, with my new freedom, and even with the job I didn’t want to take. I fell in love with it, suddenly and unexpectedly. I had forgotten what it felt like to work in such a healthy, positive, team-centric environment. What I expected was the exact opposite.

I am happy with my courage to put myself first and do what I knew was best despite what society tells you is normal. It wasn’t easy to do, but once I decided, I immediately knew it was the right thing, and I never regretted for one second quitting my job, despite how bad things felt. Not for one single second.

I am happy that despite giving up on the San Francisco Giants mid-season, they shocked me and won a World Series (you knew there had to be some baseball in here).

I am happy I’ve no longer been able to take for granted friends and that I’ve had to put in work to maintain and even re-establish friendships.

I’ve happy to learn I have some of the best and most supportive friends anyone could ask for, even when I pretend I don’t need it.

I am happy that I didn’t have a job to hurry home to after my Granny passed away so I could spend as much time as needed with my grandpa and family.

I am happy for those three months of grieving, at home alone, while job hunting, and not feeling too guilty about crying and sleeping all day.

And while I am not happy my grandmother is no longer here, I am happy to see how supportive and loving my family is, and how much more they’ve become a priority in my life. I’ve always appreciated my family and loved them, but as I get older, and as I’ve experienced loss, I realize just how precious those moments together are.

So, 2014…thanks for the memories, good and bad. But please, 2015, be kinder to me.


Crawdaddy Doing the Worm

Brandon Crawford Amazing Play

Amazing play or just doing the worm? #sfgiants

Best Cat Litter Box

best litter box

I decided to do a few posts about some of the random things in my house, or that I use, that I just love. This was the first thing that came to mind. I think that’s a pretty sad statement on my life.

*Disclaimer: This is my own opinion. There is an affiliate link below to Amazon, but this is by far the most favorite cat accessory in my house. One of our best purchases this year (top 3), hands down.

If you are a cat owner, unless you own outdoor cats, you have to deal with litter. I’ll be perfectly honest, I hate cat litter. I’ve never been good at keeping the littler box as clean as it should be either. Before my cat Sam died this spring, I had him pretty well trained to do most of his business outside. He was an indoor/outdoor cat, so it worked fairly well. I kept the litter box in a closet with sliding door. When I was going to be gone long periods of time, I’d open the door for him. But as a general rule, it stayed closed and he’d let me know if he wanted to go outside. Before that, I tried the potty training method. [Read more…]

1950s Themed Cookout Party

oscar mayerAs mentioned in my previous post about spiral cut hot dogs, I recently held  a 1950s themed cookout as my birthday party. First off, yes, I still have birthday parties, despite turning 34 this year (2012). It’s a tradition. I think only once have I forgone having a birthday party of some sort. The reason for this is that it’s in the summer and growing up as a kid, it was a nice mid-way point between getting out of school and going back to school for me to see my friends, and everyone just to get together. As for adulthood, well, everyone likes parties in the summer and I frequently default to some sort of cookout or BBQ. Now that all that is out of the way, let’s get to the specifics of how we pulled this off.

The Idea

It’s seems that retro or throwback stuff is kind of popular right now. I think I’ve always liked old stuff regardless, but all the same, I have this Coca-Cola shirt that is faded to look much older than it is. As I was thinking about what to do this year for a party, I had decided I wanted to do something slightly different than the standard BBQ at my house; something a bit more creative. During all my thinking, I was changing out of my PJs and into street clothes. I grab my Coca-Cola shirt to wear and it just kind of came to me. I was going to do an old-school birthday party cookout.

The Details

Here is a list of things I eventually settled on that I wanted to do for this party:

  • Cookout
  • Glass bottled Coke
  • Photo Strips (like in those Photo Booths)
  • Milkshake Bar
  • Drive-In Movie
  • 1950s Music

The Food

diner style ketchup and mustard bottles

The food was the easy part. Cookout food hasn’t changed too much since the 1950s, so we threw on some hamburgers and hot dogs.

We did put the spiral cut on the hot dogs, which may or may not be a new thing, I have no idea. It was just cool and everyone seemed to

like eating them. I did find some diner style ketchup and mustard bottles that looked like the ones here (minus the mayo).

mexican cokeI found glass bottle Coke at Costco. It’s actually Mexican Coke (make with real sugar versus canned Coke now with corn syrup), however I have seen US Coke for sell in smaller glass bottles. I like Mexican Coke better, so we went that route. I’m not sure if you can get it everywhere, but in California, it’s pretty popular. If you’ve not had the real sugar stuff recently (all Coke used to be made this way), I’d run out and find some if you enjoy Coke as much as I do.

For the rest of the food, we just did traditional sides: Potato Salad, Pasta Salad, Baked Beans, Chips, etc….


We also had plenty of desserts in the form of banana pudding, strawberry cake, and red, white and blue strawberries. Here is a recipe to make those. Those weren’t exactly 1950s, but my birthday is near the 4th of July, so it seemed fitting enough.

Milkshake Bar

This was relatively easy to set up as well. We bought a few containers of vanilla ice cream and jugs of milk, as well as chocolate syrup, malt mix, caramel syrup, strawberry syrup, bananas and strawberries. I wanted to find some old fashioned milkshake glasses but ran out of time and had to settle on plastic cups. We used our blender and two others and set it up on the bar in our kitchen, with the toppings nearby. We obviously left the milk and ice cream in the fridge and freezer.


pocketbooth photostrip

We hooked in the speakers to my computer and streamed Pandora’s 1950s Rock-n-Roll station. The music seemed to be a hit.

Photo Strips

This went over really well too. There is an app for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices called PocketBooth. It has 4 pictures of someone a few seconds apart like in a photobooth. They then give you 4 different filters you can apply to it. We used the black and white one. The app worked great. It think it was $0.99 for iPhone/iPad and $1.99 for Android. I bought it for my phone as well as our iPad.  The photo to the right is my husband, but that was a test photo and we weren’t using the black and white filter there, however, I highly recommend the app. You can also have it actually mail the photo strips to you or someone else for an added in-app cost.

Drive-In Movie*

beach blanket bingoOkay, it really wasn’t a “drive-in” movie. It was more like a “sit-in” movie, but it was outdoors. This is something that may be a bit harder to pull off for everyone. I am fortunate that I live where I work. That means I had access to our spare projector. I was also able to hang the projector screen on a wall outside by our patio. If you have a big enough TV, I imagine you could set it up outside and pull off something similar without having to have a projector or screen. For our movie, we choose Beach Blanket Bingoa Frankie and Annette movie. I made my projector screen last summer with white black out cloth fabric. I put some grommets in it (metal holes for hanging) to hang it on the wall and secured it down with string attached to the bottom grommets and stakes in the ground. We hooked up my computer to the projector and the computer sound into the speakers we used for the music during the evening. Everyone pulled their chairs around, covered up with blankets (it’s rather cold in Monterey during the summer), and sat back for the movie. If we hadn’t had so much food already, popcorn would have been a nice treat for that. We had to wait until dark at about 8:30pm or so, but all in all, it worked out well.

Spiral Cut Hot Dogs

spiral cut hot dog

This past weekend we had a birthday party at our apartment for yours truly. It was an epic event, featuring a lot of goodies from the 1950s that I’ll write more about later this week. However, the star of the evening had to be the spiral cut hot dogs we served. If you’ve been on the internet at all during the past couple of weeks, the chances of you having seen these already are pretty high. I don’t think they are a 1950s thing, but we decided they were cool enough to do anyway.

The night before, we tried them out to see if we could even master the spiral cut. With just a little practice, it was surprisingly easy to do, although ours didn’t turn out quite like the professional looking ones in the photo above. They did taste wonderful though. Before you start in with the “it’s just a hot dog” stuff, let me stop you. First, we just bought plain hot dogs; nothing fancy at all. I believe we purchased them at Costco, but I’m pretty sure the brand and where we got them were not a factor in this. These hot dogs were amazing. The spiral cut really does cook them better, and gives them a bit more crunch on the edges. The added bonus is that the condiments don’t fall off. Every single person that had a hot dog commented on how good they were. It’s easy enough that it’s definitely worth trying if you even half way like hot dogs.

So here’s what you do (I’ll also link a video tutorial).

  1. Put a wooden skewer down the middle of the hot dog, all the way through, long ways.
  2. Get a pretty sharp knife and cut at an angle, all the way to the end. You shouldn’t have to lift the blade for this, just roll the hot dog away from you.
  3. Pull out the skewer, stretch out, and grill.

That easy. Try it and let me know what you thought. Here’s a picture of how ours turned out and a video tutorial embedded below.

spiral cut hotdogs