Friday, March 30, 2012

Game 2: Firebranded Photos

Thanks to Brandi Wilson of Firebranded Photography for these photos. Check out the whole album here:!i=1764200255&k=h8c4fd8

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fancypants Iced Tea

This is going to be obvious and dumb for some of you, but I really had no idea how to do this until I did it accidentally on my own. Now I can't say that I don't like iced tea, but as with many other things I'm just picky about it and prefer to make my own.

Start by buying a decent quality of tea. Stash, Republic of Tea and Trader Joe's all make fantastic teas that can seem pricey but are incredibly cheap per cup. My current love of Stash Jasmine Green Tea, and it was about $4 for a box at Price Chopper.

Brew your tea in about 2 oz hot water. If you want your tea sweetened, sprinkle the sugar in at this time. This is actually pretty important because the sugar will dissolve and later be evenly dispersed through the drink rather than having grainy, super-sweet dregs at the bottom of unsweetened tea.

Don't over-steep the tea or it'll get bitter. Ick. Anything in the general time range listed on the package usually works fine for me. Remove the tea bag.

Dump in 8 oz ice and water. Crushed ice works well. I fill my cup all the way with ice, add as much water as will still fit, and then the ice finishes melting right as I'm at the bottom of the glass of iced tea.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Vegetarian Beirox Burritos

I usually make beirox as a casserole, but I didn't buy canned croissants the last time I was at the grocery store. The original thought was to use less processed food, but I make my vegetarian beirox with fake meat anyway, so... I'm not sure where the logic went.

In any case, this is delicious. Make it and eat it. If you're not vegetarian, I recommend buying bratwursts, slicing them open, discarding the casings, and using the filling like ground beef. That's how I used to make it for myself and still do for others. It's always a hit.

Vegetarian Beirox Burritos
(serves 4)

1 12-oz package vegetarian beef-style crumbles
1 can saurkraut
6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
8 whole-wheat tortillas

1. Combine crumbles, saurkraut and cheese in a 9x9 pan.
2. Bake at 350 until cheese starts to brown, about 25 minutes.
3. Fill tortillas with filling and serve.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Easy Garlic Cheese Breadsticks

Yesterday's post had an unassuming but delicious little friend in the background.

Today's post is brought to you by cheese.

This didn't look incredible going in or coming out of the oven. But what a pleasant surprise!

What makes these quick and easy is using a packaged pizza crust. I always buy the off-brand and have always been happy with them. If you have time, making your own crust is always better. Jarred garlic is fine. Margarine is not. All hail butter!

Easy Garlic Cheese Breadsticks
(serves 2-4)

1 packaged pizza crust
3 tbsp butter, melted
l tbsp garlic
4 oz assorted cheeses, grated
1 tsp Italian seasoning

1. Mix garlic into melted butter. Spread evenly over crust.
2. Top with assorted cheeses. Finish with Italian seasoning.
3. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese starts to brown, about 10 minutes.

Monday, March 26, 2012

BBQ Chicken Pizza

I happened to have some leftover barbecue chicken in the fridge from which to make dinner for my husband and friend. By barbecue chicken, I mean I dumped some boneless skinless chicken breasts into a 9x9 glass pan with half a bottle of Mesquite KC Masterpiece, poked it around with a spoon so that I never touched the meat, and baked it at 375 until the chicken was cooked through.

I'm told it was delicious, and that this pizza was as well.

Does anyone else eat ice cream while cooking dinner?

Or drink a double chocolate stout?

I really hate touching meat, but it helps that it was cooked.

This is the BBQ sauce that was left in the pan, but normally I just squeeze out some storebought sauce.

For most pizzas, I stick to a bag of Italian or Pizza blend. For BBQ chicken pizza, I've always added some sharp cheddar.

Easy, tasty dinner at half the cost of carryout!

Unless you're vegetarian, you know you want to eat that.

BBQ Chicken Pizza
(serves 2-3)

1 premade pizza crust
1/2 bottle BBQ sauce
1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
4 oz assorted cheeses, shredded

1. Cover pizza crust with barbecue sauce as if you were putting pizza sauce on a regular pizza.
2. Distribute diced chicken over pizza. Cover with cheese.
3. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese starts to brown, about 10 minutes.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Technology in my modern hearing-impaired life

I'm not inherently antisocial. I can tolerate most people, like many people, and love a few people. On the most social of days, I'll gladly invite 50 people to my house, cook a ridiculous amount of food, dress up fancy, and try to be a life-of-the-party hostess, glass of wine in hand.

This week, I've been trying to ignore some sort of chest/head illness. When I got out of the house for 20 minutes, my hair was back in a looped ponytail but unbrushed, I wasn't even wearing the mascara that I consider a minimum for leaving the house, and I threw on an oversized hoodie to try to conceal the fact that I didn't have enough energy to pick out a bra. Classy.

Most days, my social energy runs somewhere between these two extremes. Part of the reason for this, I've decided recently, is that communicating with people takes a lot of effort. Communication requires some effort for anyone to be effective, but more so for someone with hearing loss. My hearing aids amplify sound to a "normal" level, but my brain still has to piece together what the sounds mean in a way that is much more exhausting than for someone with average hearing.

You know how difficult it is to squint in low light to see for a long time? Your eyes get tired the way that any other body part gets tired after long periods of use. My ears do the same thing. Loud restaurants, bars and parties are the worst. Everyday life is usually almost effortless, but more taxing if I'm tired or otherwise feeling unwell.

There is one thing that has been making my life easier all the time: technology.

  • My smartphone and data plan aren't cheap, but I am able to keep in touch with everyone via text message, chat or Facebook at any time. As a last resort, I can talk on the phone on it as well.
  • Many of my close family members read my blog, saving me from extra hours of "I'm sorry, what was that again?" on the phone.
  • At work, I communicate mostly by email and instant messaging. Face-to-face conversation is preferable and welcome, but many of the people I work with are remote. Fortunately, background noise is limited, and my desk phone has been amplified and is compatible with my hearing aids.
  • I refill prescriptions on my smartphone by scanning the barcode on the bottle. I never have to call the pharmacy.
  • My dentist, audiologist and chiropractor all conduct at least some communication and scheduling via email.
The world is increasingly accessible for hearing impaired people, not on purpose but as a result of technology. The 20 minutes I spent out of the house yesterday were based on which businesses would get me what I wanted without talking to anyone in my zombie-like state.
  • Weird fact: Lattes legitimately make me feel better when I'm ill. The QuikTrip by my house is new and has a touch-screen ordering system, letting me to get a large caramel latte with skim milk, an extra shot of espresso, and whipped cream without haggling with a barista. And for $3.60, it's surprisingly tasty.
  • I had three checks to deposit, but was not dressed appropriately to go into the bank and hate drive-through tellers. Bank of America ATMs let me deposit checks at the machine, confirm the amounts written on them, and print a receipt with images.
  • When I'm ill, I catch up on the movies I haven't watched in the past six months because I've been too busy skating. Netflix has several, but I still remember when none of their streaming movies were captioned, and it makes me grumpy. I don't want to sort through all of their titles to find ones that are subtitled. Blockbuster has people I don't want to talk to sometimes. Answer: Redbox. I returned The Muppets and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and picked up Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Bridesmaids and Friends With Benefits, in three minutes and walked out of Walgreens.
There are undoubtedly downsides to technology. However, I don't think we're headed toward a robot coup of society. If people get dumber or fatter or lazier, they would have done that anyway. While today's post has nothing to do with food (well, I ordered coffee) or skating (derby is inherently loud and low-tech), I would like to take these few minutes just to appreciate the role of technology in my modern life.

Plus, I happen to think my MacBook Air is pretty snazzy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Garlic Spinach Parmesan Rice

Yesterday, I spent most of my time lounging on my couch, watching movies, trying to shake off the Zombie Plague. (I'm pretty sure Zombie Plague = Allergies + Cold, but it sucks nonetheless.) I thought I'd save myself effort and reserve Redbox movies before I left work, but got to McDonald's and the machine didn't recognize my card. In my zombie state, I had driven to the wrong location.

Well, crap.

I was pretty set on watching The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (new version with Daniel Craig, of course) and The Muppets, so I did drive to the correct location, pick up my movies, and grumpily drive home in the rainstorm. Fortunately, I ended up liking the movie even more than I thought I would.

After all that, I was still exhausted, sore and generally feeling crappy. I wanted a healthy dinner, minimal effort. There was a bag of spinach in the fridge, needing to be used, and I thought maybe I'd try to recreate a sauteed/stir-fried garlic spinach and brown rice meal I had at Bo Ling once. Considering that I could barely walk in a straight line and constantly dropped things all day, I ruled this out quickly.

When searching for recipes, I settled on this one because it included similar ingredients, added cheese, and resembled a low-effort risotto substitute. As a meal, I'd say this serves two people. As a side, about four.

Garlic Spinach Parmesan Rice
(serves 2)

2 cups cooked brown rice
1 bag baby spinach
1 tbsp garlic
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese

1. Cook rice, stopping when just a little water remains.
2. Rinse and mince spinach. Add garlic, pepper and cheese.
3. Combine all ingredients.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's All About Balance

Editor's Note: Thanks to Attn. Deficit of the Deadly Sirens for today's guest post!

Photo courtesy KC Derby Digest

I'm a skater. To be any good at skating requires one major thing: balance. If you aren't able to find your center of gravity, you won't be able to move forward. It's funny how such a simple law of nature is so important. It isn't just important in skating, though. It's important in life.

As well as being a skater, I'm a full-time medical biller. I'm also a recent college graduate, and still working on my certification. I have a husband, two kids, and—just like everyone else—family drama. Balance is so important. It would be easy to become overwhelmed by the day-to-day struggles of being a working-class parent with too many responsibilities and not enough time. It took me a very long time to understand that in order to excel at being a parent, employee, wife, skater, and everything else I wanted to be able to be, I had to find the point where the scales tipped. And it is a very fine point, indeed.

I've learned that when I'm worn out from a long week at work, I need to order Chinese and catch up on the DVR with my husband. When I'm frustrated with my daughter for being a 15-year-old drama queen that swears, "It's not fair!", I need to go skate it out. When I've skated and my feet hurt and I'm frustrated that I'm not as fast as I want to be, I need to soak in the tub. When my brain hurts from studying, I need to stop and do stuff with my kids. And I still get overwhelmed. A good cry never hurt anyone.

The point, I guess, is that we each need to find time for ourselves and realize when to stop pushing ourselves past the point of progress. I think that's where a lot of people hit the wall or burn out. I've done it many times. I don't pretend to have it all figured out, but I definitely believe that finding a little bit of balance has helped me by allowing me to cut myself some slack and enjoy the things I'm working so hard for.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How I Fell Into Roller Derby

A while back, Mama Breakdown suggested that I write up a blog post about how I discovered derby and got into this crazy sport. I didn't realize I hadn't really done that! So here goes.

When Whip It came out in 2009, my new hubby thought it sounded like something I would like. The movie didn't stay in theaters long and we still settling down after a wedding, so we missed it. We first tried to watch the movie in a crappy hotel in Ft. Lauderdale on our honeymoon in January 2010 but refused to pay something like $12 for pay-per-view. When we did finally rent it from Blockbuster, I was completely in love. I knew I was falling into a movie trap and wanting to "be my own hero," so I tried to keep my thoughts to myself so I wouldn't sound like a total dork. And if it didn't pan out, I didn't want anyone to say, "Remember when you thought you were going to play roller derby? Ha! What a dork."

Within a week, I was researching roller derby leagues in Kansas City. All I could find on Google was the Kansas City Roller Warriors, and they were looking to recruit women who could already skate. Roller blading around the block at my grandma's house on the weekends as a kid doesn't exactly count. I had never been on quad skates in my life. The WrecK League didn't yet exist. I put the idea out of my mind for a while.

Not long after (I'm guessing March 2010), I was browsing Good JuJu and spotted a pair of white vintage high-top Roller Derby brand quad skates. Surely they would be too small. Then I tried them on. They fit. Well, if the shoe (skate) fits... I paid less than $20 and took them home.

Within the next month or so, I read about Dead Girl Derby in a copy of Ink or The Pitch (I haven't been able to find the article online since) that I picked up on a whim around town. I Googled "Dead Girl Derby," ended up on league Facebook page, emailed Recruiting, and went to a practice the next week. Ho. Lee. Crap.

I hit up Skate City Legends once or twice on my sad old high-top skates a couple times in hopes that I wouldn't look too lame in front of a bunch of presumably tough derby girls. In all honesty, I could barely stand up, my crossovers were pathetic, and I had no idea how to stop. I was not ready  to practice. But how could I say no?

Injured June 2010
On the first practice night in May 2010, I was hooked. I had to miss the next one for a prior commitment, but knew I'd be back ASAP. In that second practice, I jacked up right knee (tore my ACL, strained my MCL, bruised the bone, stretched the patellar tendon, and I don't even remember what else). Everyone probably thought I'd quit. I was just some new awkward girl who came to practice twice and hurt herself because she didn't know how to stop. My family thought I was crazy and had no reservations about telling me so.

That was June 2010. Now it's March 2012. I'm still here and have no plans of going anywhere.

February 2011

The first time I wrote about skating on this blog was February 2011. Post-surgery, I was still wearing a knee brace, could hardly hold my own against little kids at the rink, and only skated once a week. Every muscle in my body would hurt. I could only sort of do "watermelons." I was afraid of falling. The last one cracks me up the most.

Now I kind of wish I had insisted to everyone all this time that I'd be a real derby athlete. Then I could say "told you so."

May 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

New Skates = Basket of Effing Kittens

When I finally decided I couldn't take my Riedell 265s eating my feet anymore, I started asking around for suggestions of different skate boots. After talking to anyone who would chat about skates, trying on as many as I could, and several hours over a few days clearing up questions with Pitchit of, I finally made my decision. I took the plunge and order Antik AR1 boots even though they're pricey and I always thought they were a little funny-looking.

Someone described these boots as being like "a basket of f-ing kittens." They're pretty darn close. Check out the high-quality leather and padded tongue. These babies fit my heels and ankles perfect, and my toes are at the edge of the boot so my feet don't slide, but my toes can wiggle a bit so they don't fall asleep.

The plates are new, but the same kind (Sunlite) as I had before. The gumball toe stops, Reds Ceramic bearings, four Atom Stinger, and four Atom Stroker wheels all are carryovers as well.

These are derby foot heaven. did hook me up with a great price, free shipping and incredible advice. If ever I need derby gear that I can't get locally, I'm ordering from these guys.

What's your dream skate?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Game 2: Derby Digest Photos

Thanks to KC Carr of KC Derby Digest for the photos!

It's official: I look like a crazy person when I skate.

Boobs, boobs everywhere.

While it's a little weird that my underpants peek out here, Under Armour sports underwear are the best thing ever.

My first penalty being served in the background. I thought I'd be a little proud of my first penalty this season, but I was more frustrated for back-blocking.