Friday, July 25, 2014

Super Easy Garlic Parmesan Potatoes

This has been an instant classic at my house, and now I'm finally sharing it with you guys.

You will need:
2-4 Russet Potatoes (the exact number with depend on casserole size and your own preference
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Garlic Salt
2 Tablespoons Paprika
4 Tablespoons Parmesan
Salt & Pepper
Optional: Garlic Cloves

1. Preheat the oven to 425 and give your glass casserole dish a healthy spray of Pam or Crisco. Dice up the potatoes place them in said casserole dish.

2. Mix in the olive oil until the potatoes have a good coating about them. Mix in the remaining spices, adding or subtracting how much you want of each spice depending on your own taste preferences. If you'd like, you can also mince garlic or add whole garlic cloves to this meal.

3. Cook for 20 minute intervals. After each interval, take the dish out and flip the potatoes around. Continue this for an hour or until the potatoes are gold and crispy.

4. Take them out and sprinkle with additional Parmesan. For an added bonus, sprinkle in crumbled bacon.

The measurements of the spices really will depend on your temperament. I love spice, so I double up on the garlic salt and paprika. I also get down and dirty while making this dish, using my (recently and thoroughly washed) hands to mix in the spices and olive oil.

And remember to take the dish fully out of the oven before you mix the potatoes. I have a lovely burn scar on my left forearm that can tell you that it's a bad idea to mix while still in the oven, even if you have oven mitts on.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Writer's Wednesday: When The Idea of Your Novel Sickens You

I mentioned a long while back about the Travis Parker Effect. That's something I made up to bring to light a very common phenomenon with writers and artists alike: we work like a dog, pumping out our little creation to the exclusion of downright everything else, we finish the project, and there's a moment when we've decided it's the worst piece of shit imaginable and we should be ashamed for putting that much effort into it.

I call it the Travis Parker Effect because of 6 Days to Air: The Making of South Park. On Day 6, with the show conceptualized, written, recorded, and animated, Travis Parker slumps at his desk, muttering that the show is the worst show he has ever created. No one really seems to pay him any mind; you quickly get the vibe that this a common situation after a show has been created. The Travis Parker Effect is nothing more than the fallout artists sometimes get after they've dove headfirst into their project and have finally come up for air.

About a month ago, I finished Manuscript #3. It was a bit grueling at times, but somehow I plodded ahead and got the damn thing done. I finished it knowing that there were scenes I would have to add, scenes I would have to rewrite, characters that would have to be consolidated and characters that would need more fleshing out. That's the joy of a first draft: you got your main idea down, but now the real work begins.

I decided to follow the 3 month rule: you are not allowed to even look at your manuscript for three months. This helps you look at the manuscript with a fresh set of eyes, reading what is actually in front of you and not what you were trying to convey. But there's another reason: to avoid the Travis Parker Effect.

I'm already starting to feel it: man, I know this character just pops out of no where, and these characters are interchangeable, and this and that and this and that... which is hilarious, because, plot-wise, this is probably the best novel I have ever written. And let's not even get into the number of rewrites my first manuscript went through.

So, what do you do when the idea of your novel sickens you? When the very idea of editing makes you cringe because you're still feeling the emotional fallout of finishing your novel? You leave it the hell alone.

In fact, you leave all your manuscripts alone. I attempted to work on M#2 (which is still in it's first round of edits), only to find myself getting discouraged by the same attitude: this is the worst thing I've ever written, the number of edits and rewrites I will have to do is disgustingly high, what was I thinking, why did I let myself spend so much time on this...

This is why I have nothing but respect for full-time writers. I've been focusing my energy on the other endeavors in my life, like my yoga training (and preparing to teach yoga at a homeless shelter, but more on that later) and my tai chi classes. I've been focusing on writing out my proposal to martial art studios for a Yoga for Martial Artist class. I've been focusing on my 365 blog, which gets zero editing (I'm lucky if I read through the damn thing after it's done.)

The editing process is an onerous enough task on its own. The last thing you need is to attempt it while still processing the emotional fallout from what you created. So this little confession is my way of letting fellow writers know that it's okay to metaphorically slump at your desk and proclaim that you just made the worst thing ever -- just so long as the rest of you plays the part of the production team, paying no mind to the emotional fallout.

x-posted to my 365 Blog, which is less than 20 days away from completion!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Designing the Guest Bathroom

Everyone loves a little potty talk, no?

Since we don't have kids, the bathroom on the second floor of our house is essentially the guest bathroom. Aside from the hypothetical guest, it really only gets used if someone is hogging the master bathroom (and by "someone", I mean "my husband"). This means that, until this bathroom becomes littered with tubby-time toys and other kid items, I can indulge in a little home decor.

I remember going on Pinterest and obsessing over a DIY project that would give your bathroom mirror an accenting frame. Looks like I lucked out; all of the mirrors in our bathrooms are already framed. However, if you're thinking of doing the same this was one of the projects that I had pinned. It really turns a standard bathroom mirror into something more noticeable.

Is it slightly tongue-in-cheek to put pictures of riversides and fountains in a bathroom, but oh well. Why not have hung pictures in your bathroom?

And a long collage-like frame works great by door frames.

I got these adorable embroidered towels from my brother- and sister-in-law. The light tan goes so well with the white and pale lavender -- and it's a nice little reminder to the guest whose house they are in ;)

The light, airy feel of the room, it just made sense to buy a glass set for the sink.

And what is a guest bathroom without guest toiletries? I started this when we lived in our apartment and it now actually has a proper home. I collect the shampoos and soaps the same way other people will collect hotel matchbooks or business cards. Why not keep them in a glass out in the open? I know I feel a little weird using other people's big bottles of shampoo (or soap bars, sheesh). This gives them the option of having their own little bottle or bar.

And, going with the pale lavendar/glass theme, I got these for free thanks to my former neighbor at my apartment complex. Now they have a permanent home as bathroom decor (also, check out the snow in the background -- can you tell I shot these pictures a few months ago?).

I found this at Target and absolutely fell in love. The diamond folds are a really nice touch.

I know that's a lot of work for one little bathroom, but, hey, that's the joys of homeownership -- that bathroom is mine (technically the bank's until like 2033), and I can do whatever I want.

Up next -- my dining room! Now that we finally bought a kitchenette table and put our dining room table in the actual dining room, I've been able to let my pseudo-interior decorator loose on yet another room.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Red, White, and Blue (and Green) Salad

I hope everyone has a wonderful Fourth of July, whatever the plans may be. If you're having a barbecue, may I suggest getting a little campy and making a red, white, and blue salad?

The ingredients are simple: Romaine lettuce and spinach, topped with cherry tomatoes, feta (or goat) cheese, and blueberries. It's quick, it's easy, and it's delicious.

I'm currently unwinding from my DC/NYC trip (pictures to come soon), but I'm excited for the fireworks, my friend's barbecue, and a weekend with not one, but two UFC events. Some call it an unhealthy obsession. I call it America at its finest =)
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