Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Git Yer Chili Ready!

As a child growing up in Texas, which you may or may not consider part of "The South", I remember my mom and dad making chili and cornbread for us three kids once a week.  My mom would make a huge pot of chili, my dad would make the cornbread from scratch in a cast iron skillet.  Both parents using the recipes of their mothers and grandmothers that fed them.  My parents rarely cooked together.  They had very opposite work schedules at the time and would later divorce.  They split cooking down the middle, the kids would do the dishes, but chili night was the one rare opportunity to see them work in tandem.

Chili is a tradition, a birthright even, in Texas.  I remember my mom used to drive us out to the country, about an hour and a half outside of Plano, to her friends' Chili Cook Off Tournaments.  Usually hosted at someone's trailer house and adjoining tool shed, surrounded by trees.  We'd climb out of my mom's mini van, perplexed.  We didn't have trailer parks in the suburbs.  Saw about a million kids running around with BB Guns and jumping on a trampoline.  We'd smile to one another and sprint, we didn't have a trampoline, either.  The adults would crack open cold beers as they tended to their prized pots of chili simmering away.  Come twilight, the chili was ready to eat.  Surrounded by trees, dogs without leashes, and barefoot kids,everyone would grab a seat on a picnic table, lawn chair or the bed of a pickup truck to eat.  See chili bring people together.

A few weeks ago my besties and I unwittingly participated in a  Chili Cook Off held in a high rise apartment building in the middle of downtown Dallas.  My friend lives in the apartments and as we were tromping along the 8th Floor to see her pad, we saw a commotion among her neighbors, going from floor to floor taste-testing chili cooked up by the various residents.  This time the setting was more upscale, featuring lavish artwork on the walls and more frou-frou furniture scattered about.  We were warned that the apartments weren't supposed to let non-residents in on the fun, but they would overlook it just this once.  (Ah geeze)  We tagged along tasting a little bowl of chili on each floor.  Some residents added beer, buffalo meat, or my favorite brisket.  Cornbread made with cheese were passed around.  Mini margarita popsicles were made from condensed milk and margarita mix.  Again, chili brings people together, even those that live in luxury.

I was craving some chili last night.  I know Texans aren't supposed to complain but the weather took a nosedive from the high 70's to the low 40's within an afternoon.  My allergies were back full force and one of my best friends found out she has cancer.


I didn't make anything fancy, just your regular chili from the spice packet in the grocery aisle.  A pound of ground beef, a can of whole stewed tomatoes, and a can of kidney beans.  The secret recipe of my dad's cornbread lost when he passed away but the Jiffy boxed mix worked just fine.  I remember how my dad would take leftover cornbread and mash into a glass of warm milk for breakfast the next day.  I don't know if kids know how to do that anymore.  Make new meals from the leftovers.

The chili brought me closer to my memories.  Sometimes, that's all we need to make a bad day just a little better.

What dish are you craving on bad days?  Let me know in comments!


Friday, February 21, 2014

Nerd Rant #2 - Guardians of the Galaxy (What a bunch of a-holes)

Don't know if you, my awesome readers, keep up on all the latest comic book movie news, like I do, but the full trailer for the new Marvel movie Guardians of the Galaxy came out this week.

I used to keep up with a lil' comic book called Nova.  Which was about a superhero Richard Ryder, that became an intergalactic space cop with the Nova Corps.  Kinda of like Green Lantern, except the Nova Corps got decimated at some point and Richard was the last of his kind.  The very last Nova, except for the combined consciousness of the Nova Corps that resided in his helmet and acted very much like Tony Stark's Jarvis operating system.

This is Nova.  He would do a bunch bad ass stuff like save the universe from collapsing and working with a dog-like alien that ran a space station at the edge of time. Totally not making this up.

Nova could also shoot energy rays from the palms of his hands.  He was a lot like Green Lantern, crossed with Iron Man and with the Flash's personality.  I know I'm mixing DC and Marvel characters but whatever.  

Now frequently, Nova would team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy, which was headed by Star Lord aka Peter Quill.  Peter would don a bad-ass mask that looked part gas mask and part Nazi treasure hunter.

Star Lord with guns ablazing!

You can also see Rocket Raccoon, Drax, Gamora and two others that may or may not have made the final cut.

Now, herein lies my rant, according to the trailer there is no Nova, party of one.  There are the Nova Corps, that look to be all human.  Their uniforms look like this.

Kinda like a cheap plastic version of Judge Dredd.

You see Chris Pratt as Star Lord but without the mask.  Without the mask.  Without the guns ablazing.  Which is to say, "What is the freaking point!?!?!?"

I should also point out that Rocket Raccoon is a talking raccoon, one that sometimes the comic book writers like to bestow a British cockney accent upon.  You know, like hell if he can walk, shoot guns, wear clothes, then why wouldn't he speak with a accent?  My only issue?  Bradley Cooper is the voice of Rocket Raccoon.  So there is mostly likely not going to be an accent.  I mean I don't know for sure, because you don't hear the raccoon in the trailer, and Bradley Cooper can speak French but I'm betting the accent won't be there.

So I'm still on the fence about this.  I love Chris Pratt and he knocked it out of the park being in the Lego movie.  I love the fact that they kept Groot in the lineup (the tree-looking man).  I love that they allow Drax and Gamora to keep their green skin but I just, I don't know.  I guess only time and more trailers will tell.

PS - What the hell do I gotta do to get a Black Panther movie made, Marvel? Marry Stan Lee?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, my Guardians of this Galaxy!

Gun ablazing,

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Romantic Fantasies (SFW)

So, coming off from the Valentine's Day last Friday, I wanted to discuss "Romantic Fantasies", and specifically why sometimes they are totally bogus or laughable even.

See, ALL women have romantic fantasies.  I mean almost all women have romantic fantasies. (I'm not every woman so I cannot definitely say)  We know this.  It's the reason romantic comedies and romantic novels are so popular.  Women dream of a day when a handsome guy shows romantic interest in them.  No matter what shape, size, or personality they have.  To be special.  To be wanted.  And we ALL want to be wanted, both men and women.

Romantic comedies are easy like McDonald's.  Not especially good for your health or mind but a guilty pleasure.  No one should base their romantic expectations on a romantic comedy, they're just fairy tales.  Nothing like real life.  I mean do we ever remember what happened to Cinderella's stepmother in the end?  Does she get prosecuted?  Does she get punished? In some versions, I'm sure she does.  See, because sometimes the old, traditional fairy tales are just as crazy and mean-spirited as real life.  I mean the protagonist is usually an orphan.  There are child-brides, kidnapping, cannibalism, crazy stuff.

Guys do not have romantic fantasies.  They have fantasies, all right, but not usually romantic ones.  I don't doubt that there are some men that truly do prefer to just hang out and not necessarily immediately jump into bed.  I know there are some women that hate the dating process and prefer to just getting horizontal.  However, on average, men are to sex what women are to romance.  Again, this we know.  Romance to guys is just extra work.  And what, exactly is a romantic gesture for a woman to perform?  Pretty much only two things, and they both end in "job".  Flowers and candy still seem awkward and anything requiring money is sugar-mama territory.

I have some romantic fantasies of my own and they almost always include a man with a deep voice, like Benedict Cumberbatch deep.  If you don't know who he is, look him up.  At first you'll be like, "what an oddly shaped face he has", but find a video of him speaking and you'll be like, "oh yeah girl, I get what you like."  I'm a woman, I like romance but I don't like romantic comedies.  I mean Bridget Jones' Diary was good and 27 Dresses was passable, mainly because James Marsden was killing it.  He had to.  He lost Cyclops, in order to play "the other man" in Superman Returns.

"Okay so stop playing this guy....

....and start making this awkward triangle happen.  No this role does not have superpowers.  Sorry."
It's one of the universe's cruelest jokes ( because Joss Whedon made me a secret Cyclops fan) but, whatever.  I'm getting therapy now, so I'm cool about it.  Bridget Jones' Diary is still uniquely special because it allowed a women with some weight to be a romantic heroine.  I mean "some" weight because she looks to be a size 10, tops, in that movie and the day I reach that size I will be hugging and high-fiving everyone on my block.  Everyone knows the fat one is the friend in romantic comedies.  I love Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect but Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson were comic relief all the way.

Both are beautiful, by the way!

I would watch her star in pretty much anything, anyone watch Super Fun Night?

Romantic comedies are two soft, too girly, too unbelievable.  I'm sorry your beautiful apartment, tasteful wardrobe, high paying job and quirky friends leave you feeling unfulfilled.  Gorgeous, thin, busty lady with amazing hair.  Your parents, grandparents, siblings, all in perfect health and only worried about your lack of a romantic partner.  Mental illness rarely appears in a romantic comedy and when it does, its awesome because its called Punch-Drunk Love and you don't feel emasculated at all when you watch it.

So Punch-Drunk Love is technically not a romantic comedy but a romantic drama.

RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman
Lazily culled from the Wikipedia entry for "Romantic Comedies", here are some of my faves.  They are in no particular order but by release year.

1. Roman Holiday (1953)
2. The Princess Bride (1987)
3. The Wedding Singer (1998)
4. You've Got Mail (1998) Quick! In what other movie are Tom Hanks & Dave Chappelle friends?  None.  Because it will never happen again.
7. 50 First Dates (2004)
8. 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
9. Wedding Crashers (2005)

For #10, I'm going to nominate some films that are better recognized as action films or straight comedies or even dramas, because that's how I like my romantic comedies.  Dashed in the middle of a more superior genre film.  Here are my picks.

10. Red (2010), Knight and Day (2010), Bridesmaids (2011), Punch -Drunk Love (2002), and Iron Man (2008)

How about you guys?  Do you agree? What romantic comedies are you partial too? 

Let me know,

Friday, February 14, 2014

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

DIY - Lego Plant Stakes or why "Everything is Awesome"!

***First a Public Service Announcement brought to you by SugarSkull Industries!***

Ya'll need to go see the The Lego Movie!  I'm serious!  Your life will never be complete until you see this movie.  Don't protest, just rush out to see.  You may thank me in advance!  I have in no way, shape, or form been compensated or approached to endorse the Lego Company.  JUST. WATCH. THE. MOVIE.

***This has been a Public Service Announcement.  Now back to your regular programming.***

Sorry about that my ninjas.  I just felt I needed to get that off of my chest and to perform my civic duty in alerting you to any and all things awesome.

Now, I've had my eye on some pretty sweet gnome plant stakes for some time.  To add to my lil' collection of succulents currently occupying my window sill.  They seem to burn and die if I place them outside.  I finally found one at a cheap price at Walmart.

And he (My Lil 'Gnomie), seemed a tad underwhelming.  I mean yeah, it's a cute little gnome but he is quite mass produced and available almost everywhere.  Not really my style.  I mean, I'll keep him just....ehhh.

I was getting really excited by the arrival of The Lego Movie, in theaters, that I started looking for LEGO DIYs on Pinterest and found this terrarium inspired one.

Pretty awesome!  However, I'd like to point out that the Lego mini figures used in the above photos come from moderately expensive Lego sets and I'm not about to buy a $30 set to use two figurines and stick them in a plant.  You know?

However, if you buy the individual Lego mini figures like I do ('cause I'm a giant nerd who only had one Lego set growing up), you sometimes end up with multiples of a particular figure.

They sell them in blind packing, so you never know which one you'll get.

I decided to use my extra mini figures and also a little Batman figurine because Batman appears in the The Lego Movie.  So let's get started!

Okay so Batman, a conquistador, and an elf walk into a bar.....
You will need:

- Lego Mini figures
- 10" Wood Skewers
- A Cutting Tool
- Hot glue

Let's do this!!!
Step One - Cut down your wooden skewers to about 3 to 4 inches from the pointy end.  You can pre-paint the skewers if you want to.  I chose to go au naturel (because I'm lazy).

Step Two - After you've cut down your wooden skewers, keeping the pointy ends, take your hot glue and daub a generous amount on the back of your figure.  Attach the flat end of the skewer and hold in place until the glue hardens.

I realize I just put glue on my Legos, something the movie tells you not to do.

Step Three - Make your plant totally awesome with your new Lego Plant Stakes....*whispers* and go see The Lego Movie!

Remember to holla back my ninjas!  You still play with Legos? Let me know.


Monday, February 10, 2014

DIY - Cherry Infused Vodka for Valentine's Day

Hi Babies,

Wondering what to get that special someone that hates flowers, chocolates, stuffed animals and generally the whole commercialized aspect of St. Valentine's Day?  Short answer; get them booze.  Long answer; get them a special type of booze with your own personal spin on it, to prove you put forth some time and effort.

Look no further than infused vodkas, specifically cherry infused vodkas.  It's really simple if you can remember to make ahead of time, to give the vodka time to sit in cherry goodness.  I used Bing cherries for their sweetness, but you could use other fruits as well.  In fact,  Pinterest has a whole trove of infused vodka recipes.

Let's get started!

You will need:
- About 2-3 cups of cherries, washed and pitted
- Vodka ( I used Dripping Springs Vodka)
- Mason Jar
- Ribbon

Step One - wash and pit those cherries.  You may want to be careful because the cherry juice can leave some dark wine-colored stains on light clothing.

Step Two - Add about a cup or a cup and a half of cherries to the mason jar.  You can add more or less depending on the amount of cherry flavor you want to add.  I made two batches, one to give and one to keep, so I divided two cups of cherries between two jars.

Step Three - Add vodka to fill the mason jar, right up to the lip and carefully secure the metal lid to the jar.

Step Four - Add a cute ribbon.  I found this ribbon in the dollar bins at Target.  You can also personalize with a cute labels or stickers.

Yay! You're done.  Now you can store in a cool, dry place for a week and give to your loved one on Valentine's Day.  (I hate calling it V-Day.  I still think of V-Day as in "Victory Day" during WWII.  Don't ask me why, 'cause I have no idea.)

What plans do you have for Valentine's Day?  Drop me a note. I want to know!


Monday, February 3, 2014

My Etsy Shop is Open and Free Giveaway!!!!!

Hello a-llo,
I have finally opened my Etsy shop, SugarSkull Industries, where I'm selling a limited number of wreaths for the holidays and occasions like Birthdays, Housewarming, New Hire, Baby Showers, etc.  I gave the shop a subname, SugarSkullIndustries (W)Reef Shop, just to be funny but rest assured I'm only selling handmade wreaths.

Cute for boy's Baby Shower.
This is my Nacho Libre inspired Valentine's Day wreath.
I can do other states as well.

Take a look, take a browse, stay awhile.  Currently I have some Valentine's Day wreaths for sale but expect to see alternative takes on other holidays as well.  I have

I'll be working on a Santa-Fe themed, mini-series of wreaths next.  So check back from time to time.

Oh and let me know if you'd like a free sample wreath to display and get me some business in other parts of the US and Canada!  Just leave a comment explaining what you'd like on your wreath and why.  I'll the pick the one that gets my creative juices flowing the most and privately contact you about a shipping address which I'll send free of charge.

Later my ninjas and wish me luck in the Etsy biz,