Archives for September 2016

How many passport applications is this going to take?

In just a couple of days, Brian and I are leaving for our European honeymoon. I’ve been obsessively Zulilying adorable dresses, checking the weather, and buying Disney pins on ebay in preparation.

Why yes, I did say Disney. Because one of our stops includes a couple nights in Disneyland Paris.

After our 2012 trip to Walt Disney World, Brian hasn’t been able to think of anything else. (I’m totally lying. He couldn’t care less. It’s all me.)

So we’re heading on a magical trip, partially inspired by my romance novel addiction when I was 15, in which I read one of those dime-a-dozen Harlequin Presents novels with the main characters honeymooning in Belgium and eating chocolate. Teenage Chrissy couldn’t think of anything better. Especially since adult Chrissy realized that Belgium and beer are close compadres.

Anywho…

When one travels internationally, one needs a damn passport.

Brian, being a cool AF dual citizen, has two valid passports. Me?

I had an expired passport from 2004 that I couldn’t find.

So I delayed.

And I waited.

And I procrastinated like it was my job.

Once we were 5 weeks from our trip, I hunted for, and found, my expired passport. The one I had paid extra to expedite 5 weeks before my trip to London.

It looked like I would be covering that cost again.

So I made my way to the post office, credit card in hand…where they told me I needed a check, five minutes before the passport office closed.

Not to worry, I had a backup plan.

I left, stopped home, picked up a check (and one of Brian’s special pens), and went to a post office that was open later.

It was there that I began diligently filling out the passport application. And it was there that I screwed up, and had to rewrite it. Twice.

Third time’s the charm, right? So I finished up the app and got in line. They told me I would have to wait as only one person was managing passport applications, and I patiently stood in the long queue. When my turn was finally up, the lady took one look at my application and sent me back with another. APPARENTLY, you’re supposed to use black ink pens only.

This is also apparently on the front of the form. Whoops!

So I went back and started the 4th application. Only to be deterred by another egregious error, in which I was forced to start over. Again.

How to fill out a passport application

5 applications later, and I was ready for my close up.

The woman took me to a back room of the post office to snap my pic. I had perfected the art of the non-smiling smile and the perfectly angled head tilt, for a snazzy photo opp.

Except that head tilting is against the rules. So much for the perfect selfie.

Finally, she took an acceptable picture, and I was ready to get this show on the road. She handed me an envelope and told me to mail it. She explained that with 5 weeks before my trip, I should still be fine without paying for expediting the passport (because it was a renewal for an existing passport).

I received it within two weeks. And I’m ready to go!

As we head off to Paris, Disneyland Paris, Ghent, and Brussels, I thought I’d leave you with a few animated favorites to stream on Netflix in honor of our little jaunt.

  • Anastasia – one of my favorite non-Disney flicks, partially set in Paris. Dimitri is, by far, the hottest of the animated male love interests. John Cusack lends his voice to this smooth talkin’ handsome con artist.
  • Tangled – this was one of the first Disney princess movies Brian and I watched for our Valentine’s tradition. I think it was VDay #2, but who’s counting?
  • The Princess & the Frog – this one doesn’t get enough good press. I really like Tiana and her sass, and I love the voodoo magic.
  • Enchanted – one of my absolute favorites. I adore everyone in the cast, and think it’s just one of the most funDisney movies with a billion nods to the princess flicks of old.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas – if you haven’t seen my Sally nails or our Jack and Sally Skellington Costumes, you’re totally missing out.

Netflix Stream Team

As a member of the Stream Team, I publish montly posts sponsored by Netflix who gives me the ability to watch 24/7 streaming TV and write about it. I had a Netflix account long before I was a Stream Teamer, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Four Cheese Rice Cooker Mac and Cheese

Me: Is it weird that I don’t really like mac and cheese at restaurants?

Brian: No way. You make awesome mac and cheese at home.

Me: You’re so right.

Brian: Can you say that again?

I love mac and cheese when it’s properly crafted. It should be smooth, creamy, cheesy, and packed with flavor.

But it can be a PITA to make. All that time making the roux and cheese sauce, boiling water, cooking pasta. So much work. And I’m so lazy. So I order mac and cheese at restaurants. And my disappointment is inevitable.

So when Hamilton Beach sent me a rice cooker/steamer, and told me to look at the billions of other things I can make in this puppy, I was like WHAAAAAAT? Mac and cheese in 15ish minutes!? I’m in.

I looked at the recipe, as I tend to do…and then I said, “Okay, now how can I Chrissify this?”

And then I made my own recipe.

I even measured it for you.

Ingredients for rice cooker mac and cheese

This is everything you need for a creamy delicious rice cooker mac and cheese.

  • 16 oz pasta shells
  • 1 container of chicken broth (for future reference, I recommend full sodium; this needed a lot of salt to get the taste I wanted)
  • 4.5 oz Cheddar & Gruyere(shredded) If you don’t have Trader Joe’s, do half cheddar and half gruyere
  • 4.5 oz Havarti (cubed)
  • 1 tbs salted butter
  • 1/4 cup half & half
  • 2/3 cup Pub Cheese
  • Salt to taste (this is the most important part. Also, if you have truffle salt, USE THAT)

Okay, so don’t worry about shredding or xubing the cheese yet. First, pop the broth and noodles into the rice cooker. Cook on the heat simmer setting for 13 minutes.

Cooking pasta in a roce cooker

While the noodles are cooking, shred/cube/measure the cheese/butter/half&half. We’re on a time crunch here. I tried to shred the Havarti, but it wasn’t really working for me because it’s too soft.

Using Havarti in mac and cheese

So I hacked it up with a knife.

While that’s happening, make your husband/boyfriend/kids set the table and pour you a glass of wine. You deserve it.

Super creamy homemade mac and cheese

When the pasta is soft, add the rest of the ingredients to the rice cooker (no need to drain anything!). Add salt (I forgot this part and it was a little bland). Stir. Voila. Serve.

Serving creamy homemade mac and cheese

If you’re like me, you’ll serve it with a Sam’s Club rotisserie chicken, because we’re all abour convenience and class, here.

creamy homemade mac and cheese with rotisserie chicken

And BBQ sauce. Because mac and cheese and BBQ sauce is a flavor match made in I’m-a-12-year-old heaven. And this BBQ sauce is from Canada (my Reddit Secret Santa sent it to me)!

creamy homemade mac and cheese with rotisserie chicken and sliced tomatoes

And tomatoes. Because Brian is obsessed with tomatoes in the way I am obsessed with cheese.

Overall, it wasn’t my best work because of the forgotten salt fiasco, which isn’t quite as bad as the one time I tried to make blueberry pancakes for Brian and Cletus for breakfast and used salt instead of sugar…but the convenience made it totes worth it.

So when you’re  a few weeks out from your wedding or any other stress-inducing event, try this easy dinner on for size. And this rice cooker may just be my new favorite appliance.

Want your very own  4-20 Cup Rice and Hot Cereal Maker to make delicious mac and cheese, among other things? Take a look at some of the recipes from Hamilton Beach and leave a comment telling me what you’d make in this beast. 

This contest is now over. And my random number generator picked…Melissa!

Congrats to Melissa for winning! I’m sending an email your way.

While I was given a Hamilton Beach rice cooker and steamer in order to facilitate this post, all opinions are my own. Hamilton Beach is sponsoring the product giveaway.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

OMG what is she wearing? She’s just asking for it.

When I was 17, I was privately and publicly shamed by an administrator in my school. A woman I respected and admired told me that I couldn’t dress like the other girls. Because I had a more voluptuous body, a body I was already ashamed of because it was bigger than most teen girls, a body that I’d kill to have back, but one that I didn’t understand apparently held power against horny teenage boys. (I’ll tell you a secret, though: it didn’t. My body was not what teenage boys were looking for. It was something adult men found attractive, though. And I suppose THAT’S why I was told that my outfit was unacceptable.)

Rape culture and dress codes

What was I wearing you ask?

In the peak of the new Millennium, I could have been wearing a tiny crop top and tight flared jeans. Short shorts and a skimpy tank. A two-piece prom dress that left nothing to the imagination.

But I was stylish in my short overalls with thick straps and a fully covered abdomen. The problem was in the strapless tube top that covered my breasts and stomach. It gasp showed my shoulders. But not any more than one of the very popular camisoles of the time. Not any more revealing than anything any of my cheerleading peers, who were much thinner than me, were wearing on that warm May afternoon.

And I was called out. By a female administrator whose name I still remember with crystal clarity. Who tried to mark me as her equal in womanhood.

“Women like us have to be conscientious of how we dress. We can’t wear the same clothes as the other girls.”

She was nothing like me. Tall, thin, in her mid to late 40’s. She didn’t understand me. She didn’t know me. And she certainly wasn’t like me.

But she did have the power to make me wear an old hoodie from the bottom of my locker over my overalls the rest of the day. The rest of that hot, spring day in an un-air-conditioned high school.

And I did. Because I was terrified of getting in trouble (save all those tardy detentions). Because I believed in authority. Because, at 17, I was already ashamed enough of my body.

This is what rape culture looks like. Rape culture shames a woman or a young girl into thinking she can’t dress a certain way, because boys and men can’t control themselves.

Rape culture lets men like Brock Turner out of jail after 3 short months, even though he ruined a woman’s life. He violated her body, and because of his “bright” future, he got off easy.

Brock Turner is out of jail. Do you remember him? You should. And you should probably stay away from him. Because he can’t control himself around women. And instead of the government keeping him away from and protecting us, we must do our best to stay away from him. We’re told to dress less provocatively and not to drink alcohol, instead of men like Brock being told not to fucking rape.

Well, I’m sick of this bullshit. For 16 years, I’ve held that memory of the school administrator telling me that “women like us need to be careful what we wear” for far too long. And school dress codes that favor boys, limit girls and promote rape culture need to disappear.

Let’s teach the right way to behave and stop worrying how people dress.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!