Tag Archives: 365 Project

The Pros and Cons of Half-Jackies

17 Jul

I spent a large portion of last evening weighing the pros and cons of donating my eggs.

I just turned 27. There’s a lot to do.

By “a lot to do”, I mean “shit’s expensive and sometimes I think about donating my eggs”.

Sometimes isn’t a lot. It’s like, three times. Once, when I saw an ad at a bus stop saying I could snag 10 grand for a little potential half-Jackie, once more the other day when I made a joke to Dave about it, and for the third time last night when an excellent friend said she’d been considering it.

Some friends get coffee, some donate eggs together.

We’re both logical beings. Kind of. And after we measured each other’s level of sincerity (mine was at 15%, hers was at 45%), we began to look up everything we could possibly find on the magical interwebz about the pros and cons of donating our eggs.

In case you’re curious, it’s not as easy as just looking good on paper. Sure, it’s pretty standard that people want babies from degree-carrying, attractive egg donors, but there’s a whole lot that goes into the slushie that is my body that I can’t really control. Suddenly, I found myself poring over pages of desirable egg donor qualities, measuring how I stacked up next to what was one of the highest rated potential donors: genius Asians.

If you’re reading this and you’re an genius Asian, get thee to a hospital. They’ll suck your eggs right out of you and slap a check in your hand in no time. I, however, don’t get in so easily. I’m the kind of gal who has done what I can with what was given to me. And what was given to me was a big pile of recessive, sickly, or otherwise degenerative DNA. I got my mother’s creaky knees and migraines, my father’s asthma and allergies, and more teeth than my mouth got the memo for. I’m blonde-haired, blue-eyed, and so pale you can map the blood flow through my veins to most of my major organs. My family is chock full of brown haired, hazel eyed natural tanners so I’m either adopted, or I’m a great underdog story about a mess of genes that lost every war they fought but turned into a fully-functional person in spite of it.

I’m thinking there won’t be a big rush to my egg donor application.

eggs

I like to think my eggs look like this. Close, right?

I’m thinking they wouldn’t be too supportive of exchanging a half-Jackie for a cool ten grand, in spite of the fact that it could fix my car, get me a nice deposit on a new place, and get me out of credit card debt. I mean, when you look at it that way, kids are really great.

Of course, the magical interwebz also had a host of horror stories to share, which brought my 15% down to a 5%. I have to admit that it was mostly the part about how you have to inject yourself with hormones and how after you do all that if you’re unable to have the eggs extracted even if it’s through no fault of your own, you only get a couple hundred dollars. You also sometimes have to wait for over a year or two to get matched with someone, even in the event that there really is a mother out there who wants a gawky, toothy, snarky half-Jackie for her own… which is unlikely.

So all that got me thinking… what would I rather do for 10 grand than wait two years, pump myself full of hormones, bring a human being into this world that I can never see, and have someone stab my ovary with a transvaginal needle, resulting in possible complications for which I have no medical insurance coverage?

Lots of things. But mostly probably a 365. After all, I’m half way through mine and it’s about time I start kicking around some ideas for next year. It is possible that I could raise $10,000 in a year by extreme couponing, gigging on the side, and hoarding spare change like Gollum? Maybe I should raise the stakes on myself and if I don’t have $10,000 in my account by the end of the year, I have to apply to be an egg donor.

That’s a fun game. ..all I need is a good name for the journey.

Now taking submissions.

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Goalsmack Month

3 Jul

Guys, it’s an important time of year.

I’m not talking about the birth of our great and glorious beer-drinking reality-television-watching nation or even the birth of myself (occurring the week thereafter but unrelated to beer or reality television) or Christmas in July. I’m talking about the halfway point to New Year’s Resolutions.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that the beginning of this month marks the halfway point for my Fat Ass 365 Project, wherein I vowed to do something health-related and workout-y for 365 days in a row, culminating in a 10K at the end of the year. Back in spring I participated in a 5K to keep myself on track and accountable and thererin concluded that I would rather die a slow and painful death in private than to be forced to do it publicly by running a long distance race..

Unfortunately, I’ve already committed online, in person, over the phone, and in print- I’ve locked myself in via every communication channel possible. I even have an accountability buddy. That is, a buddy who will come the day of the race to knock on my door and drag me to the starting line. This, of course, is all part of a well-constructed plan by pre-5-K Jackie, who believed she could do whatever she put her mind to and didn’t want to put up with wussy Future Jackie’s sissy whining. She set up safeguards and guarantees to ensure that Future Jackie couldn’t wiggle her way out of anything. Post-5-K Jackie, however, has the good sense to acknowledge how incredibly difficult it was to simply jog three miles straight and isn’t “sissy whining” so much as she’s “certain she will die”. 

But it’s too late. I’m locked in.

Death impending or not, I’m halfway to the reckoning. A little closer, actually, since the 10K is late fall. That means that in two weeks I officially start my training schedule. It’s not official, really. It’s just a piece of paper I tore out of a magazine that promised me lots of things. 

So I’m staring down the barrel of my New Year’s Resolution. So far everything is on track. I’m still working out, I’ve cut down my complaining to occasional, and when I think about running a 10K I still puke a little fear into my mouth. How you doin?homer

Many of you are in the midst of grand undertakings as well. Some of you got started bright and early in the year and some of you just hopped on board recently. You can start a 365 any time, so if this paragraph has you feeling left out, feel free to jump in any day now. If you’re nervous about doing the whole thing, you can always start a 30 Day Challenge. The mention of either is enough to get me all hot and bothered.

While you’re all assessing progress, charting future plans, and/or scolding yourself for negligence, I’ll be paying extra attention to Jillian Michaels  and logging more miles on my bike in the hopes that I can lower my risk of Death-by-10K. Maybe if I kick it up a notch these two weeks before training, I’ll thank myself later. 

Unlikely.

But first I must celebrate the glory that is Old Glory. I plan to do so with two toddlers, a baby, and a kiddie pool. I made cookies. It’s going to be excellent. 

Happy Almost Independence Day/My Birthday/Christmas in July/Goalsmack Month. And don’t forget – it’s never too late to join the crazy. 

Sometimes I Like to Drink Naked in My Lobster Suit

27 Feb

Well, I can no longer take all the fat on my stomach and smoosh it together with my hands to create an enormous pouch of jelly.

So that’s nice.

For those of you unacquainted with my fatness, allow me to introduce you to Project Fat Ass 365, wherein yours truly has committed to work out every single day of 2013 for at least 20 minutes. For someone who just posted last week about how all her dreams could come true if she were allowed to make money to lie in bed and do nothing while NASA pokes and prods her for the betterment of society, working out is kind of epic.

So I’m two months in and I have a bit of a confession: I skipped a day.  For one entire day I didn’t do anything workout related. I tried to make up for it by doing two Jillian Michaels workouts back to back the next day and then going for a jog.  If you know anything about Jillian Michaels workouts, I hope you see that this was a worthy punishment.  At any rate it made me feel terrible enough to never want to have to do it again.

I’m glad I got that off my chest.  I hope we’re still Interwebz friends.

I’m starting to finally notice some pretty nice byproducts of exercise, primarily the aforementioned lack of a kangaroo pouch full of lard.  I also went to an interview recently only to find that my smallest tool costume ( AKA office clothes) don’t stay on my hips, which is both exciting and annoying because I’m currently riding a steady wave of poverty. 

It would be more cost effective to buy 4 bags of Doritos and keep the pants I have than to invest in smaller pants. Fact.

But alas, I made a pact with myself and made it public, so I shall trudge on. Let us not forget that it’s been four years since I’ve been in a body of water at summertime for fear of my own spectacularly thunderous thighs.  I wore cardigans all summer long because I’d rather sweat than vex others with the sight of my flappalicious arms. If I sat on furniture, I would reach for the nearest pillow and place it over my stomach so that others couldn’t see the pile of pudge that would shift forward to rest on my lap like a lard kitten. It would be really nice to not have to do those things anymore.  If I keep trucking ahead and let Jillian Michaels yell at me for just twenty minutes a day, I might actually throw on some arm floaties and jump in the deep end this summer.

Not to mention run that 10K that’s looming over me in September. That’s a killer. Why did I say I’d do that?

A typical day in my apartment with my fatness.  And my cat. And my lobster suit.

A typical day in my apartment with my fatness. And my cat. And my lobster suit.

For those following along at home, I frequently tweet about my hatred of Jillian and all things pudgy on myself, so you can click the fancy button on the right to follow me on Twitter.  Occasionally I will check in with progress in my weekly posts, but for the most part I would rather spend this time focusing on the nuances of human behavior and society that make me want to board myself up in my apartment and never leave.

That’s been the tradition around here, anyway.

I’ve been courting the idea of a contest here on the bloggity blog.  It’s been quite some time since I’ve raffled a t-shirt or offered a gift card for various input. Except this time, I wouldn’t ask for Lollipop Tuesday ideas or macaroni and cheese recipes; I would challenge you to attempt a Lollipop Tuesday yourself or to do something every single day for one month to compete for a prize.

I’m not sure if this is a way to motivate you to go outside your comfort zone or a way to motivate me to keep doing what I’m doing.  Either way, we all win – yes? 

But before I put all that effort into things, let’s do a little market research. Let me know if you’d be interested in participating by answering the two snazzy surveys at the bottom of this post, and if you have any thoughts, ideas, or objections, feel free to spam the comment section – especially if you have a suggestion for a prize that would motivate you.  Be reasonable; suggestions for iPads will be scoffed at.  As you know by now, I love and adore each and every one of your squishy little brains and never let a comment go unreplied to.  

So take the survey, leave a comment, and/or follow me on Twitter to harass me with tweets like “run fatty, run!”  It’s not mean; it’s motivation.

Sprinkles and Puppies,

Jackie 

My Cat’s an Asshole

23 Jan

Man, I’m in a sour mood.  Usually when I’m in a bad mood, I just eat something delicious.  Works every time.  Unfortunately, I’ve committed to a 365 Project where I work out for at least 20 minutes every day and as a result, I’m starting to kind of like not being fat and miserable and so I don’t have any junk food in the house anymore.  The idea is that if I want junk food, I have to go to the store and get some, which isn’t going to happen because I’m innately lazy.  I’ve outfoxed my fat self.

Even if I did want to solve my bad mood by going to get a pepperoni roll or a belgian waffle with ice cream or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, it’s too darn cold outside.  I don’t know about you folks in warm, happy climates but I’m here on the three rivers in Pittsburgh and yesterday my walk to the bus stop was so tear-inducing that I genuinely wondered why people haven’t made ski masks more fashionable by now. Because I bloody well need one. It is face-shattering cold.

This cold has accumulated on the outside of my rear bedroom in the form of a colony of man-sized icicles that are melting and refreezing and saturating my crappily-crafted walls with water.  Thus, the wall is leaking.  It’s crying large tears of cold sadness along with me.  And though I called my landlord and two maintenance guys stopped by, I’ve been assured there’s nothing they can (read: want to) do. Since the ceiling in my bathroom fell on my head two years ago for similar wall-crying-related reasons, I’m going to go ahead and guess that the bedroom ceiling will also fall on my head shortly.

Also, a commercial offering litigation for problems related to vaginal mesh transplants just came on television and I’m not really a fan of the terms “vaginal” and “mesh” squished beside each other like that.  It’s uncomfortable.

So I’m a little grumpy.  And I’d like to take a moment to share my grump with you in the hopes that it will suck the devil out of me like The Exorcist and I will no longer crave happiness or cake.  You know, before the ceiling falls on my head and I die and I’ve missed my chance.  I’d hate to be lying in my grave, thinking about how I could have died happy if I would have only publicly ranted about my case of the grumples.

Actually, I feel significantly better already. Maybe I should just start blogging when I want junk food.

On second thought, that would get real spammy real fast.

So I guess I’m due for an update on the 365 Project.  As I’ve already mentioned in previous posts (and at the beginning of this one), I’m in the midst of a project I’ve lovingly dubbed Project Fat Ass 365, wherein I have resolved to do one health/exercise related activity every single day for at least twenty minutes.  I’ve begun with the Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred and have already hit the 160’s.

To understand how monumental that is, you should know that I’ve only been in the 160’s two times in my life: when I was a vegetarian and when I had a terrible case of mono. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to live my life without cheeseburgers or a balanced amount of white blood cells ever since and have been hovering in the 180’s forever.

Now, that’s not to say that I’ve gone from the 180’s to the 160’s since just the beginning of January.  As long time jackieblog subscribers know, I began trying to get super cereal about my health back in October of 2011 when my vagina doctor told me I needed to lose weight.  Apparently for the health of my vagina.  That’s right: my BMI was so high that my lady bits doctor told me to lose weight.  If that doesn’t get you moving, I don’t know what will.   I’ve been working to slowly improve my diet and exercise habits ever since.  So that 20 pounds has been a long and somewhat yo-yo-like journey. Luckily I’ve set myself for absolute success (or absolute embarrassment) this year by attempting this 365 and announcing that I’ll be running a 10K in the fall.

I only have to announce it, right?  I don’t actually have to do it.

Sometimes when I'm cold and grumpy and don't want to exercise, my cat (Hobbes) blatantly displays his comfortable state of fat in front of me. Like an asshole.

Sometimes when I’m cold and grumpy and don’t want to exercise, my cat (Hobbes) blatantly displays his comfortable state of fat in front of me. Like an asshole.

Just kidding. I’ve already invited my family to come heckle and loudly mock me from the sidelines to ensure I finish.  And they shall.  I was pretty tempted to invite my readers to form a team with me to help raise money for the dwindling populations of honeybees but as you all know by now, that’s a panic attack waiting to happen.  I can’t handle meeting that many new people.  I would stay in my apartment the morning of the race, perpetually projectile vomiting my anxiety into my toilet.

Which, on second thought, would probably help me shed as many pounds as a 10K.

At any rate, things are going quite well on the fat front, thanks for asking.  It’s still not too late to join in on a 365 (you can start any time, y’all).  All you have to do is think of the kind of person you would like to be in a year and then pick one thing related to that goal that you can do every single day that will get you closer to that person in a year. And then, you know, do it. Like I am.  Listen: if I can blog instead of eating when I’m grumpy and if I can exercise for 20 minutes every day instead of cracking jokes about how I’m not the kind of person who can exercise every day, you can do whatever it is that you’re actively avoiding as well.  And then in a year we can all celebrate our new, improved selves.

But not together in the same place, because that will make me projectile vomit.

All right, that’s my last plug for 365s.  I’ll stop badgering you for a while.  But only a while.

To our faces not cracking, our walls not weeping, and our fat mitts not reaching for cake. 

Puppies and Sprinkles,

Jackie 

Project 365, Round Two

2 Jan

Well, it appears that I’ve renewed my domain for another year, so here I am on the couch again on a Wednesday night wondering what I have in my head to share.

By now you all know the answer is absolutely nothing.  And I appreciate you sticking around to listen to it.

It’s been exactly 2 years since I wrote my very first post in my very first 365 Challenge: to fire up a blog I once adored and had let sit dormant for years. It was far more successful and fulfilling than I could have imagined and I’ve become an advocate for 365 Projects, much to the irritation of my friends and family.

So it’s a new year and I need a new 365.  I didn’t do one last year; I think I was right to have taken a break.  It was a big challenge and a big payoff.  And I really missed that sense of satisfaction when the ball dropped of knowing I’d spent 365 days working on making one very specific thing about myself better.  I mean, what a waste of a year, right? 

Well not a waste, but you get what I’m going at here.  Last year was good to me.  I got out of a corporate job that was sucking the life from my body and replacing my blood with black sludge.  Instead, I decided to go back to school to get a dual masters, not knowing how exactly that looked or how I would pull it off financially.  I lost twenty pounds and put ten back on (I’m choosing to celebrate the net -10), and I spent more time with my family and friends than I have in a long time.  All in all I’d say that’s a pretty darn good year.

But I’m a monster that can’t be satisfied with mere short-term human achievements.  And let’s face it: if you’re going to force me to keep writing by continuing to read, I’m going to need some subject matter besides awkward elevator conversations, how upset I get when old ladies cut me off when I’m shopping for produce, and my soon-to-be-famous million dollar ideas (if you have money to waste and want to sponsor me, please reference Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C and then wire me the money directly so I can squander it on my inventions).

I was going to tell you something when this all started.  Oh, right.  I’m going to run a 10K.

Oh man I just wrote it.  It’s right there staring at me, all big and 10Kish.

Well I thought about how it felt to finish a 365 the first time and I thought about what thing I could spend 365 days working to improve that would best-affect me in the future.  And that answer is my fat ass.  I shall dub it the Fat Ass 365.  I will spend every single day of this year doing something fitness-related for at least 20 minutes and I will celebrate my success with a 10K.  I already looked up the race.  I have the race.  It’s a go.

I thought I’d invite you all to join me and we could get jackie blog t-shirts and make a team and conquer world hunger or cancer or the dwindling population of honeybees together, but then I realized that if I did that you might actually come and I might have to deal with the anxiety of meeting several completely foreign people and that I might die of a panic attack before I even get to achieve my resolution.

So no, you can’t know which race. You might find me and inadvertently cause my death. That would be a shame.

This is somewhat about the 10K and much more about the fact that I need to seriously incorporate movement into my daily life.  It is a simple fact that I am happiest when stuffing my face with junk food and watching television or playing video games.  This will never change about me.  I mean, I can do other things and try to replace it and even if I’m successful, I’m always going to wish deep down that I could just be in front of a screen stuffing my face and filling myself with disgusting self-deprecation that will breed in my mind and cause my own self-destruction over the course of several years. So this year, in order to help keep that natural adoration at bay, I’m enacting Operation Fat Ass 365.

I remember when I was just knee high to a grasshopper envisioning my 20’s.  Specifically, my late 20’s. I pictured what most lower middle class kids picture: a family and a nice house and great holidays and a job I don’t hate.  Of course then I grew up to be a member of the Boomerang Generation, a bunch of over-educated late bloomers with poor job prospects and an abnormally high sense of cynicism.  So I can’t really have any of those things little Jackie envisioned for herself at the moment (Sorry, little Jackie, but someday you’ll grow up and realize being a kid is all about being stupid and wrong all the time. Deal with it). 

There is, however, one thing I envisioned that I can absolutely do – and that’s be in the best shape of my life.

I mean it’s now or never, right?  I turn 27 this year.  That’s like, 3 years away from 30.  I have to imagine that someday in the near future, kids, self-loathing, and hips twice my size are coming my way and before I give up all hope of ever being the kind of person who can run for 6+miles and/or fit into single-digit clothing, I’d like to give myself a fair shot by forcing myself to face my fat every single day for 365 days.  And then of course running a 10K so I can be sure something tangible came out of it: a certificate and a t-shirt.

There’s no doubt in my mind I’m going to hate it.  But that’s okay because I’ll have lots to write about.  I love to write about things I hate. And eventually I’m going to get sick of running and I’m going to have to do things like take dance classes or go to Zumba (Lord, help me).  And those, my friends, count as Lollipop Tuesdays.

I’m already in the midst of my next one. Tune in Tuesday for the goods.

So that’s what my 2013 looks like: sweaty and disgusting. I hope yours looks fantastic too.  And in all sincerity I hope you consider a 365 Project (it’s not too late!) or at the very least, one single Lollipop Tuesday for yourself.  That way when I cross the finish line we can both celebrate.  

Happy New Year folks; thanks for reading – especially the seven of you who were with me from the start.  You’re all puddings.  Now tell me what your 2013 self challenge is. 

By The Power of Grayskull. ♣

The Final Post: A Postaday 2011 Conclusion

31 Dec

I don't get to cross an actual finish line, but I can stare at this and pretend.

This is my 365th post in a row and the final in my postaday2011 challenge.

When I started a 365 project, I started writing this blog  because I didn’t know what else to do.  I had a blog back in 2004 that I infrequently updated for a few years and thought I could take it out and dust it off to see what came of it.  I wanted to know how it would feel to dedicate myself to a journaled, daily experience every day for an entire year.

The answer is that it’s pretty mind-blowing.  At the risk of sounding life a Lifetime television special, I’d certainly say I learned a lot about myself and my process for achieving something that doesn’t have room for small failures.  You either post every day, or you don’t. There’s no room for anything in between: no ideas to write about, people to see, things to do, sleep to catch up on, a project due… the list of obstacles go on but they’re simply that – obstacles.  In the end, it’s as easy as answering the question of whether you did what you set out to do or not.

This is a powerful concept for me.  I suppose that’s silly since our lives are littered with tiny advertising mantras (e.g. No Excuses, Just Do It).  But repeating a few small words to yourself and actually carrying them out are drastically different things.  I learn by doing, and so now I have truly learned.

I know this is powerful because for the past 5 weeks, I have been carrying out the Couch to 5K running program.  Five weeks ago I decided that I would apply the same concept to running as I applied to my blog.  As a natural-born couch potato, I couldn’t imagine me following through on my most hated activity: running. But this morning I ran for 20 minutes straight and graduated to the 6th week of the 9-week program.   It’s incredibly close to being a success story.

The idea that I can look back on 2011 and know that I have documented every day, accomplished the goal of breaking out of my shell and trying new things with my Lollipop Tuesday series, and have become a better writer by forcing myself to write and post it on a public forum every single day of the year is awesome.  I have never completed a New Year’s Resolution before and it feels incredible to have documented proof of achieving my goal this year.

I would encourage everyone to attempt a 365 Project for 2012.  You can do anything, but make it daily and document it somehow.  Take a picture, draw something, cook something, write something, go somewhere, create  something, exercise, try a new food – no goal is too big or too small.  No matter what you choose, you’ll be better at it and be so much more knowledgeable after 365 days of practice and next year at this time you can look back and know that you bettered yourself as a person and grew in whichever area you chose.  You can assure that you don’t sleep through another year with the same old drudgery.  You can point to something very concrete and say you did it.  You learned, you grew, you conquered.

So what will you make 2012 about?  I made 2011 about being a better writer and being more openminded.  It was difficult.  There were days I didn’t want to post, days I had a thousand things to do, days I was embarrassed of what I had to offer but had no other choice to offer it, and days that I hated myself for doing something so public and grandiose.  This isn’t about a New Year’s Resolution.  This is about a 365 Project. It’s about discipline and dedication.  It’s about putting your year to good use and remembering to take time for a passion.

Thank you all so very much for joining me on my journey.  I’m overwhelmed by the amount of support I had along the way from people I’ve never even met.  I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to read, especially on the days that were less than inspired.

Who knows? I might miss posting tomorrow and not be able to resist the urge.  Or I might stick to my guns and reduce my posts to once a week. At any rate, it’s been one heck of a ride and I’m so grateful that you took it with me.

Thank you all and Happy New Year.  May we all put it to most excellent use. 

The Best Macaroni and Cheese in the World

30 Dec

“The time has come”, the walrus said, “to talk of many things: of shoes-and ships-and sealing wax–of cabbages–and kings–“

and the best macaroni and cheese in the world.

It took me a few months, several pounds of macaroni, and a lot of money in cheese, but I have finally found a macaroni so wonderfully delicious that I shall deem it the best macaroni and cheese in the entire world.  

Technically, it’s the best macaroni and cheese recipe that was submitted to my Great Macaroni and Cheese Adventure post and it’s completely subjective to Dave’s and my taste.  But since we can only make conclusions from the evidence presented to us thus far in life and because I have not found a better recipe in my entire life, I can confidently conclude that there is no better dish to be served in the realm of the patriotic and cheesy than what I’m about to share with you:

Congratulations to thesinglecell, who submitted a recipe for a yummylicious pasta and cheese combination and is soon to be the proud owner of a $25 Visa Gift Card for the tip.  

There’s something Raclette does when it makes sweet, hot, oven love to heavy cream, Parmesan and sharp Cheddar that makes a gooey cheesiness so delicious you’ll swear it’s made of kitten sparkles and rainbow dust.  

This is not a picture of the macaroni I made. This is just random food porn. I'm not a food blogger; I'm just a girl in search of a dream of delicious cheesy pasta. Also, Wylio.com didn't have much to offer in the way of kitten sparkles and rainbow dust pics.

So if you’ve got an hour to kill, some money to donate toward the good cause of cheese production, and a good whisking hand, make an attempt at thesinglecell’s submission below.  I dare you to tell me rainbow dust isn’t delicious.

1/2 lb pasta of your choice, cooked and drained
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dry mustard
5 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded
3 oz. Raclette, cubed (a white, semi-soft cow’s milk cheese… a good grocery store with a cheese bar may be your best bet)
1/4c. Parmesan, grated
1 3/4c. heavy cream
3/4c. milk
Paprika for sprinkling
 
Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 9×9″ pan with cooking spray. Pour cooked, drained pasta into 9×9″ pan.
 
Blend flour, mustard and salt together in a small bowl.
 
In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add flour, salt and mustard and stir until blended.
Add milk and cream, stirring or whisking until dry ingredients are dissolved and liquid is hot, but not boiling (after you pour in the milk/cream, you can increase your heat to medium if you need to).
 
Add Raclette, stirring/whisking occasionally until cheese melts. Repeat for cheddar and parmesan, stirring/whisking often so the cheese doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn.
 
Pour cheese sauce over pasta; sprinkle with paprika and bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Then broil until top is golden.
 
And, um, for extra incredibleness? Fry 3-4 slices of bacon first, drain them, and then crumble them into the pasta before you put the cheese sauce in.
 
Bon appetit!

So congratulations again to thesinglecell and congratulations to all of you as well.  Because even if you didn’t win a $25 Visa Gift Card like she did, you still won a darn good recipe.  

One more post to go, ya’ll.  See you tomorrow for my 365 Project/postaday2011 sign-off. 

Door Is Open; Bellydancer Is Free

29 Dec

As I write this, my 363rd post, I am sitting in the living room of an old high school friend.

She’s  not old; the relationship is.

One of the reasons I still keep her around is that when I visit her family, it’s a lot like stepping into the middle of a sitcom.  I don’t mean that in the sense that it’s an amusing family, though it is.  I mean that in the sense that a half hour ago, the three children had three separate conversations with their mother and came to three separate conclusions about when dinner would be and the logistics for how it would be accomplished.  In the midst of this confusion, I decided to order a pizza out of fear that none of the three conclusions were correct and that I would die of an empty, shriveled stomach.

Five minutes after the arguments concluded, the mother came to the door to begin dinner.  None of the conclusions (dinner would be more than a half hour away) were correct and as a result, the pizza delivery guy came just two minutes before her mother shouted that dinner was ready.

I promptly hid the pizza in the living room out of fear.

Before dinner fired up, I was entertained by Betty (my friend’s sister), who decided she needed to get her exercise in for the day and resorted to On Demand guided exercise on the television.  Her choice: some sort of Karma Sutra Sensual Healing, which she gave us all the pleasure of enduring for the first fifteen minutes that she took it seriously.   The rest was done in fast-forward, which was significantly less awkward and probably a far more effective workout.

What I love about this sitcom house is that it’s always been absurd.  I can’t remember a single time I’ve visited that everyone wasn’t yelling at each other at some point about something completely ridiculous.  I can’t remember a time I didn’t end up on a chair in the living room, shaking my head.  And I also can’t remember a time that I ever had to knock before I entered or that anyone looked shocked that I was there.  

It’s wonderful to have a place in the world like that outside of your family: where you never know what to expect but you know that you can be absent for a long time only to return and find that nothing has really changed. 

So hey: it’s been a while since we’ve talked.  Midnight is also fast-approaching and I’m on a postaday deadline without a well-constructed ending in sight.  

So where is your place in the world where you know the door is always open? ◊

The Holidays Make Me Want to Elope

28 Dec

 

Holiday vacation has convinced me of the need to elope.

I can’t tell you how many times in the past several days I have been asked the date, time, and specific logistics surrounding a marriage that has, in fact, not yet been discussed by Dave and I.  There were a slew of examples, but suffice it to say that the straw that broke the Jackie’s back was when my 12-year-old cousin was visiting us today and said “You’re the outsider.  Everyone is married and has a baby.  You aren’t even married yet.

Emphasis hers.

As you may imagine, this came as the caboose on a very long train of marriage questions I endured throughout the holiday vacation.  In a rather comedic turn of events, I realized for the first time this past weekend that Dave has a slew of grandmothers.  His family believes that you divorce a person, not a family, and thus has continued to welcome all once-members with open arms in a rather unique display of love.  As a result, he has no less than six grandmothers.  In fact, when I asked him to confirm my count, he replied, “yeah, that sounds about right”, indicating that perhaps he has even lost track.

And those are just his.

Think about that.  Really think about what it would be like to repeat the conversation you have with your grandmother each holiday several different times with several different grandmothers of varying moods, characters, and sizes.  How two people can be dating for four years and still not tied the knot eludes most anyone over the age of 60 and it’s bound to come up eventually.  At one point following a substantial intake of wine, I recall having my entire wedding planned before my very eyes.  Something like two locations, two states, and a neighbor’s backyard.  I also recall the words “pig roast”.

I don’t even have a ring on my finger.

Not that I mind that my hand is sans shiny bauble – I rather enjoy living like Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.  Dave and I tend to think of it as if we have our entire lives to be married and our entire lives to have a kid, but only right now to be dating.  And we rather like it at the moment.  Anything further isn’t really anyone’s business in my opinion.  But nonetheless, opinions come in the form of pig roasts.

And so I’ve decided that when the time comes, David and I might be better off eloping.  Brides have a hard enough time settling in to their wants for the day without catering to others in medium-sized families.  Can you imagine the tug-of-war to be had with a family large enough to have an indefinite number of grandmothers roaming the earth?  Besides, I’d say the cost of even a modest wedding would easily hit a price point over that of say, a trip to Barcelona. We could hop a plane, do the deed, hang around for the honeymoon, and come back to whatever backyard barbecues anyone pleases, so long as they’re the ones handling the stress and cost.

I think it sounds like a solid plan.  Of course, now I’ve gone and planned everything out without the shiny bauble to provoke it. 

It appears the grandmothers have won after all. 

2011: The Year I Sucked at Lots of Things

27 Dec

You know that moment when you’re watching a television show and you realize that the entire episode is going to be a flashback/homage to past episodes?

Then you know what today’s Lollipop Tuesday will feel like.

Happy Lollipop Tuesday, folks.  It’s the last of the year.  The last – the final – the end of the road!  In my ideal world, I would have written this post from a hot air balloon ride – the perfect cherry on my Lollipop Tuesday sundae a year in the making.  But I didn’t go on a hot air balloon ride.  It turns out they don’t do amateur blogger discounts.

So it’s all over. Man, what will I do with all the time I used to scour the local paper for listings or drive hours outside the city to explore some strange activity?  Maybe I’ll miss it so much that I’ll continue in 2012.  Maybe I’ll give up on it entirely and look back at 2011 fondly as the year I tried a bunch of things that made me want to vomit from anxiety.  I’m betting on the latter.

At any rate, it’s been a heckuva ride.  When I started Lollipop Tuesdays this year, I had two goals in mind.  One was to break up the monotony of postaday by having a weekly series that folks could tune into if they didn’t care for the ranting and raving of my borderline psychotic mind on other days of the week.  The other was to challenge myself in a way that would force me to grow, whether I liked the journey or not.  The concept was simple: seek out something new that I would inevitably suck at (hence the lollipop/sucker reference in the term). 

I remember after a few Lollipop Tuesday adventures, I began to hate the fact that I ever started them.  I think it was right around the time that I said yes to taking a pole-dancing class and then realized I had no way to get out of it.  Sometimes I really despised conquering the unknown, seeking out locations posted on flyers and wandering into places having no idea what to expect or what would be asked of me. 

But that was the entire point.

I’ve convinced myself I hate movies that I never actually sat down to watch.  I’ve waited so long to try new things that they build up in my head as insurmountable.  For a long time, I was content to note that I’m awkward and inwardly and have no interest in anything that makes me uncomfortable.   So 2010 Jackie saw to it that 2011 Jackie would be forced to change.  

I’d like to think that I have.  I’d like to think that these experiences have helped my anxiety and attitude toward new experiences and that I’m a more open-minded and daring person than I was before.  I don’t know if any of that is necessarily true – I suppose it comes down to what I do and how I react when I’m not held accountable to post about it later on.

One thing I have definitely begun to stew on is the idea of a Bucket List (a list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket).  I think Bucket Lists are fantastic in theory, but in action I don’t really know too many folks who are actively seeking to accomplish the things on them.   There isn’t much point in keeping track of a bunch of good intentions that you hope to cash in on when you’re too old and penniless to make it happen.  I think Bucket Lists should be more like To Do lists – we should set out to accomplish them as soon as we are able.  

If everyone just committed to a Lollipop Tuesday every so often, they might look back when they’re old and penniless and realize that they don’t have a whole lot left that they haven’t already tried.  Maybe in time, Lollipop Tuesdays can push out the idea of the Bucket List and we can be people who are constantly trying new things, not people who hope to someday accomplish them.

Here’s to 2012 and whatever new adventures it brings.  May we be open to the daring and unknown. ◊

Have you seen all fifty Lollipop Tuesday posts?  If not (or if you’d like to brush up for old time’s sake), check out the “What’s Lollipop Tuesday?” header at the top of this page.  Or just click here
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