Memorial Day – One Pic a Day Spring 2013

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Happy Decoration Day, my friends.

Happy National EMS Week!

I heart My Paramedic

Happy EMS Week Baby!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this special public service announcement! This is National EMS Week – no, not First Responders Week, or Public Servant Hero week – EMS. Emergency Medical Services – the invisible arm of the first-responder-triad.

I don’t want to go all soap-boxy on you, but my Marine is a paramedic so this hits close to home. Seeing his life first-hand has really opened my eyes to what a short end of the stick this profession gets. Police and Fire are hailed as heroes, glorified, and respected (as they should be – don’t get me wrong on that point!). Kids want to be them when they grow up. Hell, I wanted to be a firefighter all through elementary school!  Medics and EMTs? Well, they’re just ambulance drivers, right?

Tip: don’t ever, ever call a medic an ambulance driver.  Even though countless man-hours (and formerly healthy backs) are wasted on BS 911 calls and the lowest forms of humanity treating them like a taxi service (sometimes literally – as in “I need to get to the other side of town and don’t have cash for a taxi… Ouch, my side hurts!”). Even though they barely make minimum wage.  The incredible amount of medical knowledge stockpiled in his brain blows me away.  The fact that someone who, when the system works as it should, literally holds life or death in his hands, often while running on 24 hours with no sleep, and only rates about $10 an hour… well, I should stop ranting while the day is young.

The point is, if you are lucky enough to know a paramedic, EMT, or other emergency medicine professional, give them an extra dose of love and respect this week. And if you don’t, please yield to the side of the road when you see them coming and save your 911 calls for honest emergencies.

EMS Week 2013

The Final Throes

Hemingway in the bath

Picture of Hemingway courtesy of ThisIsNotPorn.net, which houses awesome photos of celebrities in unexpected settings.

Hello my friends.

I am working on what may, potentially, with an extra dash of optimism, be my final dissertation draft. My road trip last week, combined with this final round of edits, is to blame for my lack of any real content around here aside from my one-pic-a-day (almost) project. This too shall pass. But I’m taking a short break at the moment to walk away, take a breath, and frankly, vent to you.

I’ve been working on this Ph.D. in some form or another for eight years. I’m on my 5th topic (topics 1-4 died unnatural deaths, each in new and interesting ways; in the most spectacular case, my data source was a company that went bankrupt and was sold, with the new owners disallowing my use of their newly acquired data. I was 150 pages and 3 1/2 chapters in).  And even with that aside, I’ve just now realized, or at least articulated, one of the biggest roadblocks in this whole process.

I am Hemingway, and my advisor and committee chair is Dickens.

To clarify:

(a) I don’t actually think I’m ranked among these fine authors in talent; I’m referring to writing style. Laconic v. Verbose. He and I embody the extreme ends.

(b) Yes, I know I’m not Hemingway here with you.

I do what I can to cultivate a conversational atmosphere around here. But in my academic and professional work, I believe that less is more, and that research-based writing should be complete, concise, and clear. His edits, while not inaccurate, are not me. Why use more words when fewer could convey the same information? Sigh. With each click on Word’s “Accept Change” button, I feel like someone is softly rubbing velcro against my brain.  Ah well, I suppose I’ll have a higher page count to brag about someday. To no one. Because really, who does that?

I’ll be in touch, provided the velcro doesn’t do too much damage. Meanwhile, I leave you with Hemingway’s 6 Word Story as a tribute to my favorite author and his terse talent:

“For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”

 

Note: If you have, oh, an entire day to spare, click through on the photo or just visit ThisIsNotPorn.net. They have curated a serious treasure trove of fantastic candid photos of nearly any celebrity you could dream of.

 

Respect the Children – via allaboutmanners

I haven’t really spoken about the amazing children in my life or how they entered my life in the first place, but this quote right here – well, this is what our house is all about. They humble me daily with their uncanny combination of innocence and wisdom. This is for them.

Update: I tried to reblog this from allaboutmanners and failed. User error I’m sure. Here’s another shot. ~CC

10 Great Blogging Tips – via Little Chief Honeybee

via Little Chief Honeybee

via Little Chief Honeybee

Kaelah at Little Chief Honeybee has posted a great rundown of how to spread some blog love.  Great advice for new bloggers like me, as well as established folks who get to feeling a bit ‘Meh’ about blogging from time to time.  I stumbled upon her blog looking for inventive drink recipes (and I wholeheartedly recommend her New Old Lady), and then accidentally fell in love with her whole blog, style, and attitude.  Check her out because she’s adorably awesome.

 

Bubby’s Birthday – One Pic a Day Spring 2013

Bubby's Birthday by charmingchris
Bubby’s Birthday, a photo by charmingchris on Flickr.

Another birthday for my Old Man. He’s stuck with me for fourteen years and six moves, and he’s been by my side for every big life event of my entire adulthood. He moves a bit slower these days and is now stone-deaf, but he’ll always be my Good Boy. Here’s to many more, my sweet Bubby.

Birthdays and self-reflection

Slumber Party Fort

The fort I helped the kids build last night. How old am I turning again?

As if to remind me how far I’ve come, and how far I have to go, the seminal things-you-should-know-by-whatever-age lists have been making the rounds again. These lists describe where you should be and what you should know by 30 and 50. I turn 36 today, so I guess one should capture my goals and the other my failures? Am I behind or ahead of the game?

A glance through the comments on each captures a good deal of my initial reactions as well, but they are food for thought all the same. Are these sexist? Yeah, some of them kinda are. But I’m not so easily offended as to discard decent advice in a wholesale fashion, just because a speck or two of it doesn’t really fit my world view or life experiences.  Grain of salt and all that.

I’ll spare you my own line-item checklist of where I stand on these arbitrary measuring sticks. Suffice to say they’ve made me think. Made me ponder why I’ve come so much farther professionally than personally.  I’d hazard a guess that many women of my generation would say the same.  As I approach 40 though, I think one standard helps me qualify my life so far as an unqualified, ultimate win.  I just typed “women” and still feel uncomfortable describing myself with that word, simply because I don’t feel old enough to use it on myself. I still feel like a kid. I think like a kid. I look from the outside in at my professional persona in awe, because I don’t feel old enough to have come this far, command the respect I do, or harbor all of the knowledge that makes me the legitimate expert in my field that I am. It’s not self-doubt; it’s that giddy feeling of actually accomplishing something impressive in your own right. Maybe in the next 14 years, I’ll get to the personal side.  Or I’ll just write my own list.

At any rate, here are both lists (below the jump), courtesy of HuffPo. Tell me what you think in the comments, especially if you think they’ve skipped something important.

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Happy Birthday to Me!

It’s my birthday today. However, we celebrated in style at home last night, because my Love is at work today. He and the kids sent me upstairs while they wrapped and decorated, and I came back down to a birthday wonderland. It was a great party and overall, a great day, and we’ve got even more planned for tomorrow and Monday.

His mom didn’t feel right about me making my own cake (non-cake), so she made me a real one.  It was delicious and I’ve got to get her frosting recipe.  You can see mine in the background there too, and the version with graham crackers subbed in for the coconut turned out great – much better than I expected from my pre-freezer taste testing.

I am a very lucky girl to be surrounded by so much love. ♥

Bday Collage

I’ll be posting pics of my kick-butt presents separately. Suffice to say, he and the kids knocked themselves out!

My Birthday “Cake” – a Recipe for You!

Confession #1: I’d love to be a food photographer. I’ve given it a lot of thought. Once I finish my dissertation, I will know whether it’s a true calling, or just an escape fantasy, but it’s pretty long-standing.

Confession #2: Until today, I’d never tried to photograph something as I cooked it. I’m not too shabby at taking attractive pictures of nicely plated dishes, or ingredients in still life. Taking pictures as you actually assemble a recipe is a different animal. So I feel like I’ve learned a bit today. However, this recipe is so good, I’m still going to share it with you, along with my attempt at documenting the process.

This is the dessert I requested every year in lieu of a birthday cake. I like cake just fine, but this is just way better, and it eventually became a family tradition to boot… so now it tastes like pure celebration to me. I don’t have a catchy name for it. I used to just call it My Birthday Ice Cream Cake, but my boyfriend completely objected the first year I made it, crying out “There Is No Cake In This!!” He loved it, but said it was false advertising all the same. Still, “Chris’s Rice Krispie Ice Cream Sandwich” is kinda clunky. How about “Chris’s Krispie Crunchy Creamy Concoction”? Ugh. I’ll take your suggestions, dear readers.

Anyway, it’s pretty simple, which is part of why the photography was hard. I fly through the whole process in about 20 minutes, and I kept forgetting to photograph each step. So bear with me.

First, you get out the cookbook that your grandmother made you for high school graduation, all hand written with her special notes and colloquialisms. Take a moment to think of her fondly, wish she was still around, and hope that somewhere, you’re still making her proud.

PicMonkey Collage books

OK, sorry. That’s my first step. Your first step is to pull up this blog post. You will need the following ingredients.

  • 4 cups Rice Krispies, shredded
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup melted butter (Grandma’s actually calls for “Oleo” but I like real butter better)
  • 1 1/2 quarts softened ice cream (Butter Brickle goes well but I can’t find it in this part of the country. I used butter pecan today. Any vanilla or sweet cream based flavor will be fine. I avoid fruit and chocolate flavors for this, but your preferences may vary.)

Note that I’ve adapted this from Grandma just a bit, so that now there’s more crust-to-ice cream, and it fits in a 9×13 pan. The original recipe was made in a “refrigerator tray.” I may have a birthday coming, but I am blessedly young enough that I had to ask my mom what that was (it’s like a metal ice-cube tray, but with removable dividers).


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As you can see above, mistake #1 was forgetting to take a picture of the ingredients before I’d melted the butter. It’s prettier in a stick. Also, the recipe isn’t clear on whether to measure the Rice Krispies before or after “shredding,” nor on exactly what shredding is. I measure them before, and stick them in a mini food processor in batches. I grind them to varying consistencies, with a couple batches nearly whole, and a couple nearly powdered. And yes I’ve managed to live this long without a real food processor, though it’s perpetually on my wish list. You can see my baby one below.

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Again, I jumped ahead and forgot my picture. The next step, which is also midway finished above, is to mix your melted butter, shredded Krispies, brown sugar, and coconut together until wet and incorporated. Grandma recommended a fork for this step and I cannot complain. It will still feel a bit gritty, and that’s ok. You’ll also hear some snap-crackle-popping, meaning you’ve gotten the cereal wet enough with butter. Good job! Now pour half of it into the bottom of your pan.

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Mush it down with that same fork! You can see here, despite the sticky fingers dropping the camera, that I’ve lined the pan with waxed paper. That’s not called for and I’ve never done it before, but I seem to remember every year that I have trouble cutting and serving this baby without destroying my pan with a knife. So this part will be an experiment in waiting until tomorrow.

Next, smear your ice cream in and smooth it down. The first picture here shows what it looks like when your ice cream isn’t soft enough. I had to wait a little while, because hard ice cream just picks up your topping from the bottom. So I waited, and then I smeared. I like to use a soft flat spatula, but the back of a big spoon will work fine.

rice krispies smoothing

Next, put the rest of the topping on the top. I ran out because I cannot ever appropriately gauge “half” by eyeballing it, but I refuse to stop eyeballing it. As such, the picture below illustrates what “not enough” looks like. I don’t want to be able to see ice cream when I’m done. No big deal though, I just whipped up a little more topping from the ingredients that were still out. This recipe is very forgiving, so if your proportions are off, or if you run out like I did, you don’t have to painstakingly scale the recipe into 1/16ths or anything crazy – just throw some more stuff together and mix it in.

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Once “not enough” turns into “enough” (see below), throw that baby into the freezer. Freeze until very hard, then cut into squares and serve. I like to freeze it overnight, but 3-4 hours should do just fine if you’re in a pinch.

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There is only one acceptable method of clean-up.

leftovers

We have one non-coconut eater in the bunch, so I made another small batch in a loaf pan, but substituted graham crackers for the coconut. I tested a small sample and I’m not sure it’s going to be as good as the original, but I’ll reserve judgment until I try the final product (and get his reaction). I’ll update accordingly.

So. That was a pretty long post for a simple 5 ingredient, 20 minute recipe. But it is perhaps my very favorite, so it’s earned it. Have you ever had anything similar? Any suggestions or modifications? I’m looking for any excuse to make this thing more than once a year.

~CC

Margaret Thatcher: 1925-2013

People think that at the top there isn’t much room. They tend to think of it as an Everest. My message is that there is tons of room at the top.

Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister (October 13, 1925 – April 8, 2013). As quoted in the Daily Telegraph (London, Sept. 30, 1988). Politics aside, a powerful and inspiring woman.  Rest in peace, dear lady.