* Disclosure: that is an affiliate link. Read the book either way if you like contemporary romance, but if you buy it through my link I get a penny or something. I LIKE PENNIES!
* Disclosure: that is an affiliate link. Read the book either way if you like contemporary romance, but if you buy it through my link I get a penny or something. I LIKE PENNIES!
I never did get around to an update on the whole Brazilian situation, but after having two done by a professional I started doing my own at home and haven't looked back. My reasoning went something along the lines of "$50 a pop ($40 plus tip, and maybe 25% is high for the tip but if someone has touched my taint I kind of feel like I owe them) vs. $5 for a home-kit = no-brainer." Granted, there IS more pain involved with a home-jobby, not because of the quality of the wax or anything so much as the fact that it's hard not to wuss out and go too slowly, but it's not awful. I got a mark like this one, except down there, from my second pro-job; the waxer said they just happen sometimes, especially with bleeders, regardless of technique, and that was most of my rationale when it came to paying a pro (trying to avoid THAT). I also find that I can actually do a better job getting the stray hairs that are closer to the center of the universe on my own, probably because it's my own junk and I have no problem handling it in ways that might seem inappropriate in a spa setting.
For those of you playing along at home, would I recommend trying to do your own Brazilian? Yes and no. Yes in that the end-result is just as good if not better than going with a pro, no in that you have to have a pretty high pain tolerance and possibly hyperflexible joints to git 'er done, both of which I possess, so YMMV. If you do decide to give it a whirl, here are some tips:
1. Use this stuff! It's great, it smells nice, and if you keep an eye out for sales and buy in 3-packs you can usually get it for less than $5 per jar:
2. WEAR GLOVES. The wax will absolutely stick to and get under your fingernails if you don't.
3. Put down newspaper to protect your floor, because you WILL drip wax.
4. Don't forget to use the oil that comes with the kit before you wax. Trust me on this.
5. Use something on your skin afterward to prevent infection (pros also apply hydrocortisone, but I skip that step because yeast loves steroids and...yeah). I use this, because it's what the waxer I went to swears by:
Disclaimer: Those up there are affiliate links. Which means that if you buy the products shown through my links, I get a penny or something. I LIKE PENNIES!
I am still not a fan of 2014.
We're coming off the "slow season" at work, meaning my recent paychecks have been half what the several before them were, so money is tight to begin with.
The MFA Children were home ALL LAST WEEK between MLK Day and Polar Vortex I: Are You For Serious? This would be less of a big deal if not for the fact that my kids receive free breakfast and lunch at school, so two meals per day time three kids times five days plus boredom-snacking put a real dent in our pantry.
Now we're faced with Polar Vortex II: Still In Denial About Climate Change, Asshole? and school is already closed for tomorrow but I still have to white-knuckle it to work in my little Beater before the sun and the salt trucks are up. Plus my ex-husband decided to demand extra visitation time on short notice with one child only DURING A BLIZZARD and have a hissy-fit when I declined to drag us all to the neutral exchange location at least twice (but realistically more like three or four times, with the way things have been going at exchanges lately) in all of this. Faaaaabulous.
All of the above meant my feelings wanted candy, but it wasn't in the budget. HOWEVER! Having Alpha Hive drop dead means that not only did Bravo inherit a "deep" of capped honey, but there was also enough to harvest several frames, and I had honey to burn. Some Googling around led me to this recipe for honey-sweetened salted caramel, but didn't make heavy cream, brown sugar, gluten-free vanilla extract, waxed paper, and a candy thermometer magically appear in my kitchen. So I halved the recipe, made some substitutions, and winged it with a cup of cold water and a greased Pyrex dish.
If you use slightly over half a cup of honey, half a cup of whole milk, a quarter cup of butter, a quarter cup of organic coconut palm sugar, and the innards from a 3/4-inch section of vanilla bean, cook it to the hard-ball stage more or less according to the instructions from the link, pour it into a coconut-oiled Pyrex, and grind Pink Himalayan Salt over the whole shebang, then cool it in the freezer because you have no patience, your caramels will be darker than the ones pictured with the instructions (sorry, no photos because OM NOM NOM SALTED CARAMEL) but acceptably delicious.
And maybe Simple Truth Organic canola oil in a spray-can isn't as good as Pam cooking spray, or fresh raw honey doesn't act like supermarket honey, or what-have-you, but I tried that "spray the measuring cup and the honey will slide right out" trick and wasn't impressed.
I am still moping for the most part, but my feelings are DELICIOUS. How are all of YOU?
Mix equal parts chopped cabbage and apple (about a cup and a half of each), throw in a pouch of chunked chicken breast meat (or one large chopped chicken breast), add about a half cup of pecan halves or pieces, three tbsp. mayo, a sprinkle of celery seed and pink Himalayan salt to taste. Toss, serve, squabble over the scraps in the bowl.
SO. DAMN. GOOD.
Every time Hotter and I go to Trader Joe's and walk down their snack aisle, he points out the seaweed snacks to me and says I should get some. Often Hotter will make the same remark to me triggered by the same set of circumstances and not realize he's repeating himself, because brain damage, but today when I gave my standard reply of "ick, gross, I HATE seaweed!" he came back with "those crackers in the Bhuja mix you love so much are flavored with it! You love seaweed and just don't know it; it's delicious!" So it turns out he was repeating himself to GOAD me, and it was ON! "That's it, it's only $0.99 to settle this once and for all," I declared, snatching up a packet of the snacks and scanning it for gluten content (none).
We brought the groceries home and put them away, and I opened up the seaweed and removed a sheet of the stuff and took a bite. "JESUS CHRIST! THAT IS FOUL!" I held the remaining piece away from me and used the other hand to extract the offending substance from my mouth. Hotter took it from me and tasted it. "Whoa," he said. "That IS vile. That's going to make me puke," and he proceeded to do the same toddleresque maneuver of reaching into his mouth after the stuff. With his other hand, he held the twice-bitten seaweed sheet out to Isis, who snatched it and then began doing that backward-chewing thing dogs do when they get something too nasty even for them. When Hotter and I left the kitchen she was in her crate pawing at her muzzle.
So yeah, sorry Trader Joe's: your seaweed snacks get two thumbs and four paws DOWN!
* Work is beating the everloving shit out of me at the moment. Nothing is wrong, we're just extraordinarily busy. To wit: the group we currently have in-house tips about 40% what the average customer does (due to a combination of factors, chiefly age), and today I still made about three times what I usually do on a busy day. The Ritz has neither the staff nor the seating to accommodate a group of this size, sheer voracity (seriously, they eat and eat and EAT, and then they have coffee and dessert and EAT SOME MORE), and stark emotional neediness (they're a lonely and loquacious bunch, whose desire for instantaneous service is outstripped only just BARELY by their desire to TALK YOUR EAR OFF). And tomorrow I'm working a double, lucky me!
* All sarcasm aside, this will be a fantastic week for the old income, which is good since Hotter has, at my urging, rescheduled his eye surgery for the latter half of the month after next, and it's time to start saving for that.
* Paul Bunion is growing in size and severity, and I may not be able to wait three weeks until I see my GP to get him at least looked at. I should probably schedule an appointment with a foot and ankle specialist ASAP, but between my upcoming appointment for a physical, the Fall Dental-pa-looza, Hotter's next appointment with Transplant Clinic, I've already got plenty of time-off requests in. Management hasn't complained, but I'd still prefer to space the appointments out a little more.
* I've been having lots of dreams about the house and yard where I grew up, The Narcissist, and my Only Living Relative recently. Not sure why, but I could do with less of that!
* As a result of doing a TON of very necessary work-related hand-washing six days per week, an inch-and-a-half-long section of skin on the outside of my right index finger has dried, cracked, crumbled, and peeled, and today I tried a "liquid bandage." HOLY FUCKING OUCH, Y'ALL! I think I paid eight bucks for a bottle of clear nail polish and maybe some cancer down the line a ways. AVOID!
* How are all of YOU?
Man, whatever it was that was wrong with me on Friday (Initially I thought food poisoning, but I did end up spiking a little temp and bloating up the way I do when I'm fighting an infection of any kind so maybe contagion?) really kicked my arse for a minute. I was miserable into the wee hours this morning, but am now feeling like a solid 80%, which is good since today was my only day off for the next week! It was a somewhat crappy way to spend said day off, but I still feel pretty damn lucky. Being unwell and financially stable is quite cushy! I was able to contemplate medical attention from a "do I need it" standpoint rather than a "how can I come up with the money and is it even worth going given that a copayment won't leave enough to fill a prescription" standpoint, take the day off from Temp Agency #2 (I usually freelance for them when I'm off from The Ritz, but today I did that for less than an hour), go to the grocery store and purchase things to make me feel better (crystallized ginger, organic free-range chicken broth, HFCS-free gingerale, Angostura Bitters, GF crackers), and download trashy novels from Amazon to amuse myself between naps. Even with feeling like utter shite, I had a nicer day yesterday and today than I typically did even feeling perfectly healthy during the worst of our financial woes, because we had everything we needed, I was able to rest without a mounting sense of panic over what it was costing, and the little creature comforts one gets used to going without when poor really do help!
Speaking of which, I got a lot of questions on the facespace about the Angostura Bitters when I mentioned them, so here you go. BEHOLD:
Figure One: This is an affiliate link, which means that if you buy the product through my link, I get a nickel or something. You should totally do it, because having a bottle of this stuff around next time you have an upset stomach will change your life, and also I like nickels.
When I turned up at work yesterday green in the face, my very kind boss asked me if I wanted some bitters. I was all "huh?" I'd heard bartenders at various places where I've worked talk about them being good for hangovers but I wasn't hung over. "I don't know if they're gluten-free or not," said my boss, "but if they are you should try some mixed with gingerale. It really does help if you have a queasy stomach." So I Googled it quickly on The Precious and found that the brand above (which is what The Ritz stocks in their bar) is, in fact, gluten-free and PEOPLE. Not only did it help my stomach a LOT, but I also happen to think this stuff in gingerale is DELICIOUS (YMMV--it's an herbal kind of flavor reminiscent of Bach's Rescue Remedy). After I went home sick I stopped at the shopping center by Casa MFA, which has a state alcohol store (I figured that due to the alcohol content I'd have to buy the bitters there--it's 80-90 proof, although you only use about a teaspoon in a glass of gingerale so no, I was not DRINKING AT WORK OMG). They had a much cheaper variety that I did buy but was leery of because I wasn't sure about gluten content or if it'd work as well, then when I went to Kroger for chicken broth and whatnot I found that they do sell the kind The Ritz uses, that I knew to be effective and GF (I guess since it's more of a flavoring than something you'd drink to intoxication it's okay by the liquor laws), so I bought some there as well. TRY IT!
That's about all that's going on in my little world, other than that I won a "lot" of ten Jo Malone Orange Blossom samples, some travel-sized hand creme, and a small bottle of bath oil in the same scent on eBay for way below the retail price for similar quantities of same, and am going to be the best-smelling waitress EVAR!
How are all of YOU?
Sometimes life is just fucking awful, and your only recourse is to cook, bake, can, and pick your feelings into submission. Here is a recipe for amazing gluten-free jam-drop cookies. For maximum smug satisfaction, use jam you made the same day:
Gluten-Free Jam Drop Cookies
makes about 1.5 dozen
preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit
1/3 cup each tapioca flour, white rice flour, and almond meal
1 tbsp potato starch
1.25 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 tsp Pink Himalayan Salt
1/3 cup sugar
paste from a one-inch section of vanilla bean
about 1.5 tbsp jam
Whisk dry ingredients except sugar and salt together and set aside. Beat butter, sugar, vanilla bean paste and salt together until fluffy. Add dry ingredients in three parts and beat together, roll into balls of about 2 tsp each, set balls on a sheet of parchment paper laid over a pizza pan and press thumbprint in to make dimple, fill dimple with jam, Repeat until you run out of dough (or eat it all), bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes depending on your oven.
We (Little Child and I) made these today with fresh strawberry jam from the garden, and they tasted like really rich, buttery shortbread with jam. SO good. Tonight there are rose petals macerating in the fridge for rose-petal jam tomorrow, and we agreed that we'll have to make more jam-drops when that is ready.
The new job is good. It's really nice people working for a nonprofit dedicated to a GREAT cause, and they're busy enough currently to need an administrative temp. I don't think it has long-term potential, which is too bad, but it should last at least a couple of weeks, and that's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick (which is a saying down here in The South, although I've actually been the recipient of such a poke and can say that just about anything up to and including a compound fracture is preferable, so I guess it's not really saying much--THE JOB IS NICE, THE END).
Typepad? Is GREAT. Those of you who follow me on the Twitter may already be aware, but yesterday I logged into WellsfuckingFargo's website to see if everything had cleared (yes, I still want to dump them--THEY SUCK and have HORRIBLE customer service, and they LIE right on their ATM machines where it says that cash deposits are credited instantly) and was horrified to see a $119 pending chunk out of my meagre balance. Of course I clicked to see what had unexpectedly eaten up 90% of my net worth, and it was my yearly Typepad subscription fee. Did I agree to that? Yes. Last year, however, they deducted it on May 20th, and so I had set a reminder for May 18th. This year apparently they deducted it a little earlier, which probably has something to do with leap years and business days and I DON'T KNOW, I'm sure it makes sense to SOMEone, but that someone is not writing this post.
I logged into Typepad and clicked around the back end of my account, thinking that maybe if I downgraded to month-to-month billing (the yearly rate is a better deal, although obviously not so much if it causes the next thing to hit your account to generate an overdraft fee) that would fix things. Obviously I was not the first person to panic and have that idea, however, because next to the option to do that was a disclaimer stating that doing so would not cause a refund to be issued, but rather a credit on the account that they would then deduct your monthly fee from until it ran out. CRAP! So I fired off a desperate support ticket explaining that I knew I'd agreed to this being automatically deducted, but thought I had another eight days, was unemployed, etc. and asking if there was ANY way to get the yearly fee refunded and go month-to-month until I was more financially secure again. Since I'd been live-tweeting my freakout, I let my followers know that I'd placed it in Typepad's hands and was just going to hope their customer service folks were as understaning as Amazon.com's are (yeah, Hotter signed up for a free trial of Amazon Prime and forgot to cancel it, and a very nice Amazon.com employee unknowingly SAVED HIS LIFE on Friday by refunding THAT). Best case scenario, I thought I'd maybe get a refund of $119 minus the cost of one month's Typepad Pro service, but realistically I was expecting an admonition to re-read the Terms of Service. I went to bed last night worried as hell, but resigned to waking up to bad news. Instead, while I slept, Typepad was ON IT!
Figure One: Look how friendly!
I checked my e-mail on my first fifteen-minute break at work, and found an INCREDIBLY nice note from Melanie, a Typepad Community Manager. She explained the date discrepancy in a way that made sense, and that yes, the TOS gave them permission to deduct the money when they did, but went on to say that she understood that life happens, and in light of my longstanding relationship with Typepad they wanted to try and help take the pressure off, so she refunded THE ENTIRE AMOUNT and APPLIED AN EQUAL CREDIT TO MY ACCOUNT. I thanked them profusely, and they were very gracious:
You guys. I may have teared up a little in my cube. Of course what Typepad did helped me avoid (another) financial headache, and obviously I'm thrilled with the credit, especially since it's hard to justify paying that kind of money for something that is just for me and can't be eaten or worn to work, given our circumstances. But this was just...well. If you've never been really, really broke, you might not get how huge this was. You get used to hearing "no." To EVERYTHING. Things like sobbing on the phone to your bank, and never picking up a number you don't recognize become part of your daily existence. You come to expect smug annoyance from everyone you do business with, if not outright hostility. It's a relief to even be able to deal with a company via e-mail just so you don't have to hear it out loud, because you already hear it out of your own mouth on a daily basis. No, I can't pay for your eye surgery so you can see better. No, you can't go on that field trip, it costs too much. No, no, NO! The negativity can become overwhelming and start to color your entire outlook. When Typepad not only DIDN'T say no, but went the extra mile and did something nice that I hadn't even asked for, it meant a lot more to me than avoiding an overdraft fee or three and getting to blog for a year for free; it reminded me that there's more to say and hear than no, a lot more to life than relentless negativity. It lifted my entire mood, and helped me put my best foot forward today at the new job.
Am I going to stop bitching so much about my life? Probably not. It's not easy, and I'm only human. But I will never do it via any other blogging platform :)