Friday, December 30, 2011

Make This for New Year's: Mulled Wine

When my husband used pinot noir to make me red wine butter, that left 2/3 of a bottle of red wine to be drank. I'm really more of a white wine drinker, so I figured I could use the leftover red to make something nifty.

And I did.

This is a $7 bottle of Lindeman's Pinot Noir. Quite tasty, especially for the price.

I only had a glass, so I have no excuse for this photo. The attempt: artsy and holiday festive. The result: kinda crappy. Make some mulled wine and forgive me, please.

Honey Mulled Wine:

I actually made it this way...

2/3 bottle pinot noir
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup honey
10 black peppercorns
Dash of ground cinnamon

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Game 1 is Almost Here!

Dead Girl Derby Game 1—Night of the Loving Dead III: Only Fools Fall and Shove
-Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
-First game starts at 6 p.m.
-At River Roll in Riverside, Mo.

Check out the details on Facebook:

You can even buy tickets in advance:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy Hippo Dinner To Me

This is proof that my husband loves me.

These are blue cheese biscuits. I love blue cheese, but my hubby hates it. He made these for me.

Pinot noir butter. Yes, that's wine-infused butter. Heaven help me.

Homemade cream of mushroom soup. Yes, my hubby hates wine and mushrooms. But this is a dinner of gods.

Wine butter on biscuits? OMFG.

Make this incredible dinner for yourself or someone you love! Just don't totally puree the soup--that would be weird.

Cream of mushroom soup:

Blue cheese biscuits with red wine butter:

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Gift Wrap-Up

Among the many thoughtful and generous gifts I received yesterday were these new toe covers for my skates! If you want some for yourself or to give to your favorite derby skater, Derby Vixen on Etsy makes lots of different designs:

My husband also gave me incredible bearings for my skates for Christmas about a month early, but those aren't really visible here. Everyone knows my obsession so well that I also have new derby documentaries, books and clothes. Yay!

Happy Holidays to all! What was the best gift you gave or received this year?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ladies Christmas Night Out: Brio KC

Holiday Season 2011 marks the third or fourth year of a Ladies Night Out with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and sister-in-law's best friend. After two (or three?) times at The Melting Pot, we tried out Brio this year, also on the Country Club Plaza.

I got there a little ahead of everyone else, and I feel weird sitting at a table but not ordering anything so I asked for an apple cider martini. You know, out of the goodness of my heart and to give the waiter something to do. Totally selfless and all.

I'm not a martini drinker, but this was incredible. Apple cider with a little rum and something else. The best part was the cinnamon and brown sugar on the rim.

I'm not skating much this week (letting the tattoo heal, giving my hip bruise a break and spending time with family and friends) so I tried to keep my meal somewhat light. My caesar salad was good, but I didn't take a photo. It's salad, y'know? But the red pepper bruschetta... Ohemgee.

I couldn't quite sum up the deliciousness in a photo.

My mother-in-law did a better job of documenting the evening than I did. I was relieved that other people wanted spinach and artichoke dip because I was starving. That, and it's the best dip.

I am often a hungry, hungry hippo. Exhibit A follows.

The Plaza really is delightful this time of year. It used to intimidate me, then it disinterested me. Now I'm kind of in love.

My sister-in-law ordered one pasta I wanted but didn't get.

Her friend got the other. If I go again, I'm getting this gorgonzola soemthingorother penne.

I love most foods, but wouldn't poke this with a stick. Lots of lobster and shrimp and stuff. My mother-in-law insisted it was delicious and I believe her. This is just so not my kind of thing.

Aren't we all adorable? (The answer is, "Awwwwwwwwwwww, yes!")

Merry Christmas, happy holidays and all that jazz!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Homemade Microwave Oatmeal

You know how last week I had microwave oatmeal and a latte for lunch because my leftovers sounded icky? I'm sure you don't because it's weird enough that I remember everything I eat, and to remember what someone else eats would border in insane. So yeah—I did that. It was delicious.

The whole time, I was thinking, "I could totally make this microwave oatmeal instead of paying $3 for it." Well, guess what? I was right. My homemade version went a little something like this.

Wash up a whole small apple.

Dice up that apple. You could also use any dried fruit here. Raisins, craisins, dried strawberries, blueberries, whatever. I happened to have apples going bad on top of my microwave.

Scrape the apple into a Tupperware container to make this portable like the delicious-but-expensive original. I seasoned mine with about a tablespoon of brown sugar and maybe half a teaspoon of cinnamon. Apples are naturally sweet, so if you can go without the added sugar, good for you. Don't judge me, please... I need brown sugar in my oatmeal.

Fill the container most of the rest of the way with plain, dry oats. These are like $2 for a humongous container of off-brand flakes at a grocery store, Walmart, wherever. When I make it out that way, I get bulk organic oats at Whole Foods or the like and store them in old storebought oats containers. I just don't like quick oats. What the heck is up with those? Oats are quick enough as it is. I feel the same way about rice.

But I digress... And I admit that all statements above are made by someone who does not have her life rushed by the existence of children.

Back to the oatmeal. Mix it up a bit, or put the lid on and shake it up.

You could add nuts or seeds if you'd like. I didn't have any seeds and wasn't in the mood for the cashews that may have been in my cabinet if my husband hasn't eaten them all already. If you're using dried fruit, this should keep like this for a really long time. My fresh apple meant that I had to eat it pretty quickly, which is fine because I wanted this for breakfast as soon as I got to work. The only downside is not being able to put it together the night before.

When you get wherever you're wanting to take your portable, healthy, delicious meal, just cover the ingredients about 2/3 of the way with water, cover lightly with the lid (but don't seal) and microwave about two minutes. Stir and eat.

Because this is so relatively imprecise, I yet again don't have a specific "recipe" so much as a guideline of how to throw this together for a hot breakfast you can eat as soon as you get to the office.

Portable Microwave Oatmeal
(serves 1)

1 apple, chopped (or equivalent dried fruit)
Nuts and/or seeds (optional)
About 1 tablespoon brown sugar
About 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
About 3/4 cup plain oats
About 2/3 cup water

1. Combine all ingredients except water in small Tupperware container.
2. Transport wherever breakfast is desired.
3. Add water to ingredients. Cover lightly and microwave about 2 minutes.
4. Stir, let cool, and eat!

You could use milk (or a vegan milk alternative) instead of the water. You could add a little salt if you like that sort of thing. Vanilla makes everything taste better. The possibilities are practically endless!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through: New Tattoo

A large percentage of the people I know have tattoos, and everyone's a little different about them. Some people want pretty ink. Others think each piece needs to be significant and long-thought-out over years. Either way is fine with me. The only part I'm a little snobby about is making sure the artist is good so that whatever image looks nice forever.

I was so happy with the work Andrew Milko did on my Imagine tattoo that I knew I'd be going back to him as long as possible. Then he up and moved to a shop in Omaha, Liquid Courage Tattoo. Rather than try to find a new artist like anyone else would do, I took a road trip. Totally sane? Not sure. Sane people don't play roller derby, either.

Last time I sweated embarrassingly and nearly passed out. Andrew gave me Tootsie Pops, so that the sugar would minimize that! At the risk of sounding like a bratty child, I asked specifically for chocolate Tootsie Pops.


Also: I did not pass out. Score again!

Here's the piece with just the black done.

So many pretty colors to add to that!

Nearly finished.

The plan wasn't to leave the circle open, but it just worked out really well that way so I asked if we could.

And done! I'm so freakin' happy with this! 110% worth the three-hour drive.

The image has a lot of significance to me, but here's the original for reference: Like all tattoos, this looks even better in person!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Healing Journey: Part Two

I was graced with more injury-and-recovery stories than I could fit into a single post. Here are a couple more! And let these all be a reminder: roller derby is not for the weak of body, mind or spirit. I encourage anyone to join us and learn to play, but you will get hurt sooner or later and it will hurt. A lot.

Skater: Alice N Plunderland (Dead Girl Derby, retired)
Date of Injury: February 2010
Nature of Injury: Bulging discs L3-S1, aggravated sciatica, 2 cracked ribs, bruised bones of the elbow (the bones were actually bruised)

I was two feet in the air with my back parallel to the rink, landed on my back, pancaked over, and then three girls skated into me. Although the pain is not as severe or as often as it was when the first year, two years later I am in still pain in my lower back. But I'm thankful I can walk and still have a somewhat active lifestyle!

My daughter is the only reason I listened to the doctors. They told me if I didn't stop playing derby, I could end up paralyzed.

Skater: Lunatic Lola #66 (Dead Girl Derby)
Injury Date: January 26, 2011, week of Season 2 draft
Nature of Injury: Spiral fractured fibula above ankle

Keep in mind, I was still wearing rink skates at the time. During Wednesday night practice we all felt compelled to get a drink of water after the drill that consists of falling to your belly when the whistle is blown and promptly up to opposite direction of skating. My boyfriend, Drew, was there for the first time checking things out & carpooling a ride. So I skated over to my water, and en route I spanked my derby wifey, Stabby-Doo. off the middle exit of the rink. (This is what sucks: my injury was not even in game play!)

My left leg went out from underneath me and because we're trained to not fall on our tailbones, I leaned right to fall to my side. The rink skate's toe stop caught the carpet and three people and heard two loud "pop-POP"s. It even felt loud and awkward. The toe stop halted the momentum of my right leg, and my ankle stayed in place while my remaining body fell right. It felt like a bad sprain and someone (who is no longer around because I still don't know what their name is) said it was a high sprain and ddidn't seem to be broken. It hurt pretty bad, but I'm proud to say I just yelled a few curse words and told Don C. Nuttin to continue with practice without me. Drew was astonished and silent. Ice was brought to assist but they had already taken my skate off so the swelling already started.

I hadn't cried at this point, but realizing that it'd be a little while until I wore skates was hitting me already. I could stand on it but not pivot weight in a stride. Ginger Ninja loaned me her crutches--because she got hurt the week before--to get to my car as Drew pulled the car around. I then acquired my crutches from my parents house on the way home to my apartment that of course had 18 steps. That's when I broke down in sheer frustration.

Oye. Thankfully my best friend Drew carried me up those lovely stairs. I called into work that next day due to exhaustion and bad swelling bad. I decided to tough it out Friday and drive to work on my own. At least it was an automatic; it wasn't so bad as long as there wasn't abrupt stopping because my foot was wrapped and limited on stride motion. I work at Citi, and at the time in the collections department. So a sit-down job: easy, right? Well, did I mention there was snow? It was rough keeping composure and maintaining an ice pack while elevating my ankle at a desk on the phone. It was a pain in the ass, and I couldn't focus, but I dealt with it and did my best. My "pod-mate" noticed me re-wrapping my foot/leg and said that it looked very swollen and shouldn't be purple and black. The black didn't show up until late in the on afternoon Friday so I was trying to figure out what I should do... DUH!!! Go to the doctor.

So, I did and I expected the doc to look at the X-ray and tell me, "Tough it out, it's a sprain." He came back and said, "Yep, it's broken right where I suspected." I said, "You're f-in' kidding me..." Nope. They splinted my leg and told me I needed to stay off it completely and I couldn't drive myself home. The call to mom to explain what happened and the fact that I needed a ride was next. Recovery was what felt like forever, but there was a lot of dozing, reading, sleeping, gaming and chillaxing over that time.

I was so relieved to finally get "the sexy black boot"! I couldn't drive unless I was ballsy to take it off to use my toes and put it back on when exiting the car, which I ended up doing once I did go back to work. Thank God I had short-term disability coverage at work: four weeks, 100% paid. I think I wore the boot through mid-March until my muscles and stride were comfy. I passed my skills tests with good ol' Mel Breakdown. :) [Editor's Note: This makes me tear up!]

I feel 100% stronger on both legs and wiser on my exits from the rink now. I still kid Stabby that it was her rear end's fault. I am thankful for my DGD family that has always been supportive, and I am happy it happened because I had many realizations of what not to take advantage of with my two legs. My parents thought I was crazy to still continue derby after the incident, but I know I made the right decision. I take daily vitamins to ensure my mind and body are prepared for the derby life and what's whipped into it moving forward. Plus, I see a chiropractor.

Skater: Do'er Dye #DNR (Dead Girl Derby)
Injury Date: November 20, 2011
Nature of Injury: Broken fibula and two ankle bones

As my first year in derby, I was so excited to go to a bootcamp and learn more skills. When I fell in the middle of a scrimmage all I could remember thinking was, "Shit, what did I do to myself?" I laid on the floor of that rink, crying, because I felt like I let my team down because I wasn't going to be able to skate for months—if ever again.

I've been a Type 1 diabetic for 22 years and know that any injury to my feet could be catastrophic. The first hospital "set" my ankle twice and sent me on my way home. The two-hour drive home from Columbia was the most painful drive I've ever had in my life. We arrived home at 2:30 a.m., and by 6:30 I couldn't tolerate the pain any longer, so I had my husband take me to KU Med. I was in the operating room within two hours and had an external fixator placed on my foot to stabilize it and allow for the swelling to go down in order to fix my ankle. That was for two weeks.

Finally surgery day was Dec. 9, 2011, and it took five plates to put my ankle back together. I am a week out and I know that I have seven more weeks to go before I can put any weight on it and begin my recovery. I cry on occasion because I miss the girls I was beginning to start relationships with. I was just starting to see that I was becoming a better skater and being able to tolerate my shin splints a little bit longer.

I'm scared and a little apprehensive to get on my skates again—scared of hurting myself again—and I am sure the other skaters that have been hurt have had the same feeling. I will take it slow and I look forward to hearing my name spoken and the crowd cheering as I help my team to a victory.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Healing Journey

For more than a month, I've been wanting to sit down and really chronicle the process—to be corny, the journey—of being seriously injured in roller derby, healing and returning to the sport. The task just seemed to large, and I knew I wouldn't do it justice. My goal was to create a sort of road map of the injury and recovery time to show any skaters who may be starting that now or become injured in the near future that it's normal to be depressed. It hurts a lot more than you think it will. But in the end, it's all worth it if you love the sport.

Skater: Myself—Mel Breakdown (Dead Girl Derby)
Injury: Torn ACL, torn MCL, strained patellar tendon, bone bruise
Date: June 8, 2010

When I was lying on my couch post-surgery in August 2010, I knew I wouldn't be able to later really express or even remember just how miserable I was. Even remembering that thought, I can't quite get my brain to simulate the true reach of that total agony. I had myself on a four-hour cycle of getting up to use the restroom (a total nightmare that left me breathless and nearly in tears in each time), going back to sleep if I could just to ignore the misery, waking up 3.5 hours later to take the maximum painkillers the doctors had prescribed, waiting for the painkillers to kick in, and restarting the process. I drank as little water as possible to make sure I wouldn't have to use the restroom more often—it was just too awful to shift my weight to a standing position. On top of it all, I had a weird reaction to anesthesia from the procedure and couldn't keep food down for five full days without vomiting.

Two weeks I did not venture upstairs to my bedroom, but rather slept on the couch. Movies, Netflix, Internet, books and games would have kept me entertained except that, honestly, I was good and depressed. I did manage to watch Whip It within the first two days, but that may have been it. Mostly I wanted to sleep and then sleep some more.

Then there's the scarring, the stiffness, the inability to make the quad muscle work at all, countless rehab sessions, huge meltdowns crying on the floor when it's just been too much and hardly seems worth all the effort.

Fortunately for me, my knee is almost as good as new now. I've been skating post-surgery for a full year and feel really good on my feet. Sometimes I forget just how hard I had to work and persevere in the middle. I've also had to really think and come to terms with the fact that this—or an injury to another body part—could all happen again.

My family and friends are going to be horrified if that happens soon because I'm going to return to this sport again. I was lucky enough to have the best support group to get me through this, and my insurance allowed me to select fantastic health care professionals.

To help fill in the gaps that I cannot accurately describe at this time, I asked some fellow derby girls to share their experiences.

Skater: Edith Myfist (Dead Girl Derby)
Injury: Broken fibula, tibia and ankle bone
Date: November 7, 2011

Around 9:15, I landed poorly while jumping over a fallen skater during scrimmage.

Today, the pain has lessened significantly, and my outlook is better, but the road is still long. I miss my skates desperately and the relief I would get from practices.

Skater: The Big Jankowski (COMO Derby Dames)
Injury: Fractured shoulder (cracked a circle all the way around the top of the head of the humerus) and damaged rotator cuff.
Date: November 17, 2011

I'm still healing but I can at least somewhat move my arm! It has only made me more determined and I can't wait to get back on skates and push myself!

Skater: Ensane Gwen (Dead Girl Derby)
Injury: Broken distal radius (2 places), 3 broken carpals and crushed carpals down on radius and ulna
Date: September 19, 2011

I was depressed when I was broken. Sitting on the sidelines watching everyone get better was tough and I ultimately stopped going to practice because of it. I was anxious to play and I felt I was missing out connecting with some amazing women. Then came the draft. It was mixed emotion for me. I was so happy to see everyone getting their phone calls but wished so badly that they would just slide me in. The feelings of being left out just continued to get worse. Everyone was buddying up to their new teammates and I could see strong relationships forming that I longed to be apart of. I was just in limbo and I hated every part of it.

I am now cleared to skate and I have been drafted to a team to which I am thrilled! I'm still going through physical therapy, which is wretched, and my range of motion is limited, but that's the easy part. I'm trying to get over the mental aspect of protecting my wrist. I feel, because I am in "protect my wrist" mode, I am not taking the risks like I did before to advance my skills and become a better skater. I'm kind of scared to fall because now I know I can be broken. Each practice and each fall it seemingly gets a little better.

Skater: Bad Motivator #R5-D4 (Dead Girl Derby)
Injury: Tibia and fibula fracture, right leg. Metal rod inserted with four screws.
Date: November 16, 2011

This has by far been the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life. I have gone through a whole wide range of emotions but as of right now, at four weeks post-op, I feel pretty good. I'm optimistic, happy and just trying to heal so I can get back on my skates. I can't focus on the negative things or feel sorry for myself because that will just slow me down, both mentally and physically. And I don't ever want to slow down. I want to be an inspiration for everybody else out there, not someone wallowing in her own self-pity. One thing I will say, though, is that this injury has been a huge empowerment for me. I am one tough chick and I never realized this until I annihilated my leg. It's funny how bad things that happen turn your life around for the better, and this has been one of those times. I can't say I'm grateful for this, but I have been enlightened, and it's a really good feeling.

If you have any memories or advice from your own injuries, please comment!

Friday, December 16, 2011

No-Measure Broccoli Cheese Soup

I was feeling awful last night, so I threw together this broccoli cheese soup. Because I didn't measure anything, I'm just going to explain how to make it.

Dice up a small onion.

Chop a carrot or two.

Throw those into a pot with some butter and garlic.

Add water and veggie soup base.

Chop some fresh broccoli.

Tear the broccoli into whatever-sized pieces you like.

Add the broccoli to the pot to soften.

Grate whatever cheddar cheese you have on hand. I used organic white cheddar because it's what was oldest in my fridge. While I avoid Velveeta, I must say that it makes for a creamy soup if you have it.

My hubby finished grating the cheese for me because I hate doing that. He also mounded it into a ball because he's silly and also wasn't feeling well.

Add the cheese to the pot with some milk and freshly ground black pepper.

Mmm, cheese.

Thicken the soup to your liking with some corn starch. If you mix the corn starch into a little cold water first, it won't clump.

Thick and delicious! Mine came out a little saltier than I'd hoped, but it was exactly what I needed.

I love making soups with whatever I have in the fridge and not measuring. This made four servings, but I probably could have added more milk to tone down the salt and then would have gotten more soup in the end.

Here are my ingredients if you'd like to try it yourself:

1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Garlic, chopped
Veggie stock
Broccoli, chopped
Cheddar cheese, shredded
Skim milk
Freshly cracked pepper