Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My favorite recipe and craft blog!

If you're looking for a fun website for detailed recipes and fun crafty things (and other vital information) by someone who is engaging, charismatic, and a little loony (like me!), look no further than MISSBUTTERBEAN.  Am I just sweet talking this blogger because she's one of my greatest friends in real life? Maybe a little...but only because I can't get enough of the food she makes!  Jenny and I have been friends for over a year, and I'm still amazed at the talent she has in the kitchen.  Of the recipes on her blog, I've taste-tested at LEAST six items she's made (and that's only off the top of my head!).  I've sat on her couch and watched her make countless wreaths while we'd watch terrible movies.  It's become a staple of my social hour!  She's full of vim and vigor, sugar and spice, and so many other things. So head on over to her blog...there's something there you'll love!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Italian Chicken

Today for dinner, I'm making Italian Chicken.  This is a pretty simple recipe I use as a go-to on days that I want something that tastes fancy but isn't costly.

I started out with a pack of ten chicken breasts, but I only used six for this recipe.  I like having some left over chicken so I can do other things with it later.  I poured Italian dressing into two sandwich baggies for the chicken breasts to marinate.  Before I put the chicken in, I put little slits into them so the dressing can slosh around inside and out, making the chicken savory and flavorful.  I usually let them marinate overnight, but I was really craving this recipe today, so I let them juice up for about four hours.  I went shopping earlier for a zucchini, a squash, and a container of mushrooms.  I sliced them up and stored them in the fridge until I was ready to get cookin'. 

I set the oven to 350 degrees and got my ingredients ready.  In a glass casserole dish, I poured the chicken and dressing out and separated them evenly.  I added more dressing to the dish because I don't want the chicken to dry out during cooking!  Once I put the chicken in the oven, I got my vegetables out and set the kitchen timer for ten minutes.  When the timer went off, I flipped the chicken over so the sides would cook evenly.  I checked the centers to see how they were doing and everything seemed to be cooking beautifully!  I sloshed them around a bit to get more dressing everywhere and set the timer for another ten minutes.

Once the second timer went off, I was ready to put the vegetables in.  This time, I only set the timer for seven minutes, which was plenty.  The chicken was cooked all the way through and the vegetables were cooked, but still had the right amount of crisp. 

This recipe can go great over pasta, too!  I usually put it over penne or rotini, but all I had was spaghetti.

Unfortunately, I was in such a rush making this that I didn't even think to take more pictures.  I didn't know I'd be posting about this, but here I am!  Luckily, I did get an image of the finished product: 

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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Saving Raine: The Drone Wars (Book 1)

If you haven't seen it yet, the trailer for Frederick Lee Brooke's Saving Raine, the first book in his Drone Wars series, has arrived!  The teaser was released two weeks ago and can be seen here, with the full length trailer following:

Trailer for Saving Raine: The Drone Wars     

I'll definitely be reading this one after I'm finished with Angela Scott's Zombie West trilogy (book 1 review coming soon!).  You'll be able to buy both books from the links on the side of my page that zip you directly to Amazon.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Have you ever been to Charleston?

I've lived in Charleston, South Carolina since August of 2011.  There's a lot to offer here, but I haven't really seen its potential until last night.

My family is down here visiting and we've been researching things to do on our vacation weekend.  I thought I knew everything to do since I've lived down here for more than two years!  I've found things last night that I didn't even know existed.  About 30 miles south of the city is a tea plantation. I love tea, and so does my family.  It looks beautiful!  The Firefly Vodka distillery is in that same area as well, and while I was out with a migraine, my family went without me :(  But there are plantations upon plantations to see, gardens, historical sites, gorgeous churches and cemeteries, and tons of restaurants.  I found two local places that offer an evening of painting and drinking!  Of course, I can't afford to experience all of these things, but I CAN afford to research the costly ones, and many of the sites are free (see: a small Fort Sumter museum at the tour launch site, 2nd Sunday, The Battery, plenty of art galleries like The George Gallery, and of course, the Angel Oak tree).

Tonight, we're going to a murder mystery hosted by the Footlight Players (there's also another troupe called the Black Fedora Comedy Mystery Theatre).  I'll definitely have a review of that, and hopefully some pictures!  Tomorrow is an open day, but I'm going to take them to brunch at my favorite place for chicken & waffles, The Early Bird Diner.  That's Plan A, because they get VERY crowded VERY fast and only have a limited amount of seating.  It's the most popular place in Charleston for brunch, and rightly so, because their food is amazing (and chicken & waffles is a staple of southern cuisine!).  Plan B is to go to The Blue Rose Cafe, another one of my favorite places.  The Blue Rose Cafe is very different from The Early Bird, though, because it's an Irish restaurant.  While The Early Bird serves mainly soulfood and southern/American food (see: country fried steak, meatloaf, and shrimp & grits), The Blue Rose takes food up a notch and offers items like Irish Chicken Curry and Seafood Gorgonzola, and for dessert, my go-to sweet treat is the Buttermilk Pie.

Of course, I might try to hit both of those restaurants today and tomorrow! 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Adventures in Sleeplessness: A Personal Tale

I attempted to go to bed at 10:30 pm on January 27. It is now the morning of the 28th at 2:15 am and I am and have been nowhere sleep. I moved to the couch around 11:30 so as not to disturb my boyfriend with my huffs and sighs of frustration (like he'd notice anyway, he sleeps like a rock). I've noted some pros and cons of sleeping on my futon couch.

Pros: ultimate kitty snuggle time, way more comfortable than my bed (surprisingly?), no snoring boyfriend, able to move around without accidentally punching boyfriend in the face, quiet trips to the bathroom (I trip on the edge of the bed a lot...a lot)

Cons: too many ultimate kitty snuggles hinder my would-be sleep, lights from the lamp posts shine too brightly into the un-draped window, kitty makes too much noise scratching at stuff and throwing his toys around, car lights also shine in the window least I have ear plugs to block most kitty noises. 

Still the problem bugs the hell do I get to sleep? Do I even have a pineal gland? Does it understand what a sleep-wake cycle is? I take a prescribed sleep aid, but it's been failing me for the past two weeks or so. I could take a higher dosage, but then I'd be groggy and zombie-like the next day. I think my body is sabotaging me - why would you do this to me?!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Baked Brie

Last night, to get my boyfriend to take a break from editing, I decided that I was going to make some delicious baked Brie.  My parents bought me this cherries jubilee Brie topper to try out because they know baked Brie is my favorite thing ever.  So here's what I did!

I bought basic crescent rolls and placed them like this, so that when I was ready to wrap up the Brie, all sides would be covered. I still had to pinch some of the dough together before putting it in the oven, but that happens. 

Using this jelly, I spread down a sticky surface for the cherries jubilee packet (which I forgot to take a picture of).  It was mainly vanilla sugar, dried cherries, orange flavor, and cashews. I spread these all over the center and a little into the triangles. 

This is the kind of Brie I used. I cut the paper off so it gets super melty inside, but you don't have to do that. I sometimes don't!

The oven was preheated to 350, and I'm sending this little guy off for about 24 minutes. Usually it's approximately 30, but my stupid oven runs too hot sometimes. 

While that was cooking, I put some French baguette slices in the panini press for five minutes to crisp them up...

And I sliced some apples! 

Straight out of the oven, let it cool for a bit. Hot cheese IS lava. Delicious, mouth incinerating lava. 

I'm not usually one for presentation, but baked Brie is kind of classy,  right? Sure. I was too busy stuffing my face with this to take a picture of the inside, but I assure you, everything was glorious. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Movie 43 - A summary and loose review

...What the hell did I just watch? This movie is...something. This was given a 2/5 stars on Netflix, and I'd heard about it through friends who "enjoyed" it. I laughed, I won't deny it that, but this is not an example of a good movie. It's a movie about a (homeless?) guy (Dennis Quaid) who has a bunch of movie and short ideas that he brings to a studio exec (Greg Kinnear) to try to get his ideas to the screen. His ideas, played out in different sketches by different A-list actors, are nothing less than awful. This whole over-arching segment is called "The Pitch." Things in this sketch escalate throughout the film, but I'm not the spoiler-ing type, so I won't reveal anything.

The first segment or short presented is titled "The Catch," which stars Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman on a blind date. This sketch is awkwardly humorous, but mostly just awkward. I really can't delve into too much detail on this one.

The second segment is called "Homeschooled" and is one of the shorts I liked the best. Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts (who are together in real life!) have homeschooled their teenage son his whole life. But to make his academic life more like a normal teenager's, they implement all the old cliches normally found in high schools. While a couple of new neighbors are visiting, the parents discuss their son's experience as a homeschooled teenager, and what the new neighbors hear is not what they expected.

"The Proposition" stars Anna Faris and Chris Pratt as a couple who are ready to move onto the next level of their relationship. However, the next step is different for either one. While he wishes to propose marriage, she proposes something a little more unconventional. He asks his friends for advice and is told that this is a great honor and not a whore's act. On the night of their consummation, he prepares accordingly, but his anxiety overrules his manners, and the night is ruined.

Emma Stone and Kieran Culkin are exes. In "Veronica (Emma's character)," she storms into the grocery store where her ex is at work and they begin to argue...and flirt...and get verbally sexual. What should be a private conversation, however, is not. This was another sketch I really enjoyed.

Throughout the movie, there are several "commercials" featuring the iBabe - an iPod with the body of an attractive woman. In the actual "iBabe" sketch, the company that produces this human mp3 player (including Richard Gere, Jack McBrayer, and Kate Bosworth) learns that the consumers of their product aren't using the iBabe for its original purpose. Lawsuits are being handed to the company left and right. Should they have put a warning label on their product?

In "Superhero Speed Dating," our Boy Wonder, Robin (Justin Long), is looking for love, but he keeps getting, well, cockblocked by Batman, played by Jason Sudeikis, who's actually looking for a bomb placed by his nemesis, The Penguin. But while Batman is at it, he screws with Robin. Among Robin's speed dates are Lois Lane (Uma Thurman) and Supergirl (Kristen Bell). Superman shows up and foils Robin's chances with Lois, and Supergirl is not who she seems. Batman also encounters Wonder Woman, and so many hijinks ensue. This was another fun sketch.

We take so many things for granted in today's world. ATMs are necessary when we need instant cash, but do we ever thank them? No, they're just machines. Or are they? How does the money actually come out of the dispenser? How does it know how much? Thanks to "Machine Kids," maybe you'll think twice about how you treat an ATM. I chuckled at this fake commercial.

Middle school is a really awkward time for dating. Chloe Grace Moretz learns the hard way in "Middle School Date", and so do Jimmy Bennett (her date) and his older brother (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). But the boys learn more than just how awkward pre-teen dating can be, they learn about the female anatomy when puberty hits. This sketch is also full of awkward humor, which I'm a fan of, so I thought this one was pretty funny.
Featured during "Middle School Date" is another commercial, "Tampax." It involves two women on the beach, a shark, and the tagline "Now leak-proof."

"Happy Birthday" is just the type of thing Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville were made for. Johnny slept with Seann's girlfriend, so in order to make it up to him (and as a birthday present), he captures a leprechaun (played by Gerard Butler, which I did NOT catch onto). You know that if you catch a leprechaun, he'll give you his pot of gold. But you know that you also shouldn't mess around with the Irish. Luckily, the two ultimately best the leprechaun (and his cohort). There's also a part two to the awesome birthday present...

"Truth or Dare" is a story of one-upping, starring Halle Berry on a blind date with Stephen Merchant. Small talk and typical get-to-know-you dates are the last thing Halle wants anymore, so she challenges her date to an ongoing game of Truth or Dare. Things get really out of hand, but they end up getting it on, in the end.

Remember the Titans was a fantastic movie. In this spirit, "Victory's Glory" tells the tale of a basketball coach giving his players an uplifting, in-it-to-win-it speech to encourage his boys. Don't expect a Denzel-type speech in this one, but do expect a laugh or four. The final sketch is played mid-credits, after ending the film with the final scenes of "The Pitch." It is about a cartoon cat obsessed with his owner. "Beezle" is a maniacal cat willing to do anything to keep his owner, Josh Duhamel, all to his little kitty self. But Josh is in a serious relationship with Elizabeth Banks, who suspects Beezle is not the innocent cat his owner believes him to be. This last sketch is another awkward watch, and although I laughed a bit, it was more "eeeeeh" than "ha!" Final word is, if you have time to kill and want to watch something that doesn't take a lot of brain power but does offer tons of stars, by all means, watch this. There are a few laughs, and you'll mostly ask yourself "how the hell did they convince these A-listers to do this shit?" Is it better than some of those parody movies like "Epic Movie" and "Meet the Spartans"? Yes. There may be cheap gags, but they're pretty original.

I'm too indecisive when it comes to giving ratings (there are too many things to consider!), but I'll give this one a straight 5/10.