Author Archives: Mush

About Mush

I want to be a veterinarian because I love children.

A day off from my awful retail job.

December 12th, 2014 | Posted by Mush in Life - (1 Comments)

In which it’s Friday for most, but Saturday for me.

I slept until noon, because today is my day off. As I was slowly drifting awake, I planned my day. Here’s what happened.

Intention: Get up, pee, do yoga. Make tea. Make the bed. Dress. Sit and meditate. Sort the laundry. Then have a spa day, complete with mud mask and foot soak. Shave and moisturize. Put on a cute but comffy outfit, and maybe some mascara. Be mindful and grateful and inwardly full in a tidy apartment while looking clean and soft and cute.

Actuality: Get up, pee. Make and drink a latte. (So far, so good!)

Eat cold, leftover curry out of the pan in front of the laptop looking at meaningless shit on the internet. (Um, need to meditate here in a bit.) Put the dishes away and take some broth out of the freezer. (Yes. So domestic!) Sit on ass in front of Facebook.

Let the UPS guy into the building. Sit on ass in front of Facebook. Chat with Embo about zits, burritos, and baking soda online. Move a box that needs to ship, but don’t actually tape it shut or put an address on it or anything. Realize it’s already starting to get dark and you haven’t even made the bed.

Pour a cocktail, because fuck it. Turn on the tee-vee and find an old movie station; marvel at the red lipstick and wish you had lips. Sit on ass in front of Facebook. Wonder if Scott will be able to pick the truck up from the shop tonight so you can get him to take you out to dinner or, even better, go get carry-out, so you won’t have to cook. Sit on ass in front of Facebook.

Consider the things you could have accomplished, shrug, and smile, because you have a cute little Christmas tree, your favorite person will be home in an hour, and you have tomorrow off, too.

You can do chores when you’re dead.

Full English

December 6th, 2014 | Posted by Mush in Food - (1 Comments)

In which I LOVE THIS WEIRD BREAKFAST.

This meal makes no sense.

I mean, it’s basically bacon and eggs and toast, which is pretty normal, but then there’s tomato, mushrooms, and… beans? And the toast isn’t toasted, it’s fried.

It makes no sense, at least, until you read some very, very old cookbooks and discover “sops,” which are pieces of (one assumes) stale bread, revitalized by frying in fat, and over which is poured broth or stew or whatever. After you learn about that, the British whatever-over-toast thing begins to make more sense. And so somehow the inclusion of beans begins to almost make sense, too.

Except it doesn’t, really, because what the hell do beans have to do with toast? I mean, why on Earth do the English eat beans on toast? But then you eat a Full English breakfast and realize that HOLY SHIT BEANS ARE GREAT WITH EGGS AND BACON AND FRIED BREAD AND A GRILLED TOMATO AND SOME MUSHROOMS and that THESE BRIT NERDS ARE BRILLIANT.

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Now, as a vegetarian, there’s no hope in hell of my ever getting a Full English at a restaurant, because even with the general acceptance of vegetarianism there’s never any fake bacon on menus. (Except maybe in some funky little diner in Eugene, OR, but they’d probably be fucking vegan or some shit and butter is essential for basting the eggs.) So I have to make my own.

This morning we slept right through noon and nearly until two o’clock in the afternoon. I got up and started doing dishes and sent my beloved off to the store for eggs. When he got back we had breakfast and it was GLORIOUS!

And then a couple hours later it was dark already. Which is kind of depressing, but the sleep felt great.

I found instructions for making a Full English somewhere on the internet. Basically, you cook the meat first and then remove it to a plate. (Which is what I do for Ader. In my own pan, I use butter and oil to fry my fake meats.) Next you fry the veggies in the fat with liberal applications of salt and pepper. Then you pull them out and fry the eggs “with a knob of butter,” which you spoon over the eggs to set the yolks. After the eggs are on the plate, you fry your bread in the remaining fat, plate it, add a scoop of simmering beans, and serve.

Truly the ugliest, heartiest, greasiest, most delicious breakfast EVER. Of course, the Brits use baked beans, but I just use whatever I have. Because I’m American. And vegetarian. And I use Ezekiel bread instead of white. And I’ve already bastardized the meal so much that the wrong beans hardly matters.

Point is, the eggs are amazing, basted in fat and butter as they are, and the beans are better than potatoes, somehow, and the fried bread is fucking glorious, and the tomato and mushroom is the most amazing accompaniment, what with being all juicy and tasty, and like I told Scott I could probably eat this meal twice a day for a week before getting bored of it.

It’s still pretty awesome with potatoes, but not quite as good. You really want some white or chili beans to make this bitch sing.

Things to be thankful for.

November 27th, 2014 | Posted by Mush in Holiday | Love & Marriage - (1 Comments)

In which there is no irony in this post.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Last night we stayed up late enjoying Christmas movies and adult beverages and this amazing hot spinach-artichoke dip we made somewhere around midnight. It was AMAZEBALLS. (Click the pic for a link to the recipe.)

Then we slept and snuggled until well past noon and had more of the dip, along with a relish tray, for ‘breakfast.’

(The Thanksgiving greeting cards on the table are from our moms. Because family.)

Then we lounged about and enjoyed sportsball (excuse me, that’s SPORTSBALL!!1!, I believe) and classic Christmas cartoons (Donald Duck and Chip ‘n’ Dale in the snow!), then we started on making dinner with some potato scrubbin’. We get along great in the kitchen. Here’s the whole day’s menu:

Our Official 2014 Thanksgiving Menu

Starters:
Stuffed celery, radishes, olives, deviled eggs, crackers, cheeses
Spinach-artichoke dip with baguette

Main:
Tofu ‘steak’ for me
Beef steak for Scott

Sides:
Gravy (meatless)
Dressing
Mashed potatoes and parsnips
Lemon-garlic Brussels sprouts

Dessert:
Apple crisp with oatmeal streusel
Vanilla gelato

Afters:
Cranberry vodka and sodas
Tater skins

And since this holiday is about not just gratitude, but food, here’s more food porn:

Scott’s plate:

Gravy (turned out weird but edible) and the mashed potatoes and parsnips, also weird:

Tater skins! OMG so good!

Cranberry-vanilla vodka and soda (again, click the pic for the recipe):

And now, right now, as I write, the apartment smells like heaven because there’s an apple crisp with oatmeal streusel in the oven!

We’ve had a wonderful day, the two of us, enjoying cooking and eating and companionship and so much to be thankful for today. We’re warm and safe and blessed, and have had a really quiet and comfortable day of abundance and each other. Not to mention the polar vortex and that having had the oven on so much has kept the furnace from even kicking on once.

Now we’re watching an old Danny Kaye Christmas Special (Dinah Shore! Lena Horne! Bing! Bob Hope! Jimmy Stewart! Satchmo!) and waiting for the apple crisp to cool.

And so, with full hearts and from a warm apartment, Happy Thanksgiving from us to you!

This.

November 12th, 2014 | Posted by Mush in Weather | Whining - (2 Comments)

In which it fucking snowed.

Fucking SNOW.

And frozen ponds and sub-freezing temperatures. It’s not even Thanksgiving! WHAT HAVE I DONE.

Weekend

October 26th, 2014 | Posted by Mush in Life - (0 Comments)

In which there are pictures.

On Friday I worked for 6 hours and got a flu shot. Then I ate this adorable lunch.

On the way home, I stopped and bought these flowers to go along with the orange lights and pumpkin that my beloved had already brought home.

Autumnal!

When Scott got home after work, we went out and got burritoes from Pancheros and brought them home to eat them.

And then the flu shot hit, and there was coughing and chills and aches and pains and I spent the next eight hours wishing I was asleep much more often than I actually was. It was utterly fucking miserable. It was exactly like having the flu and just as painful, it just didn’t last as long. I woke up at around 1:30 in the morning and was completely well, save for some residual muscle soreness.

Saturday we slept in well past noon, had a yummy big breakfast at home, lounged around for a few hours, then went on something of a shopping spree: Namaste Plaza for dals and spices, then a few dollar stores and a discount clothing place for shoes for Scott, Cub for a few groceries, Target for dice and a game.

Our Saturday night looked like this.

Yahtzee! Ten Thousand! Deer in the Headlights! Adult beverages! It was super fun. Scott won every single game we played because he’s mean.

Sunday, I worked from 9 to 1 as greeter at Home Depot, because OH HOLY SHIT I’M NOW THAT OLD LADY SAYING ‘GOOD MORNING’ TO YOU WHEN YOU WALK INTO A FUCKING HOME DEPOT ON SUNDAY MORNING BECAUSE YOU’RE A WEALTHY WHITE FIRST WORLDER WHO NEEDS TO BUY PAPER BAGS TO PUT YOUR LEAVES INTO. (Seriously, though, the astonishing waste of this country. We take perfectly good land, plant grass on it, then have to rake up the fallen leaves (which would otherwise turn back into lovely new dirt) and put them into bags manufactured for the purpose. Good God.)

Yeah, today I was a greeter. I have no idea how this happened, but there it is. I’m that old now.

When I got home I made a pot of chili and a pan of cornbread.

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We ate chili and cornbread. And then we took a nap.

The end!

In which there’s a recipe for soup, because I want to know EXACTLY WHERE THIS IS and not have to read a dozen other recipes again the next time I decide to make soup for Scott.

I haven’t eaten chicken noodle soup for a few decades, probably, but I remember the Campbell’s and Lipton versions: bright yellow, thin, with itty bitty cubes of meat. Not really all that great. Certainly didn’t evoke feelings of wholesomeness or profound nutrition.

Then, a couple of months ago, Scott said he thought he was coming down with something and I told him I’d make chicken noodle soup if he brought home a chicken. I mean, wasn’t there that thing once where science supported old wives’ tales and determined that chicken noodle soup really is good for colds?

The resultant concoction, even though I didn’t eat any (because EEWH DEAD CHICKEN BODY), was rich, wholesome, and nourishing. In, like, some sort of profound way. Scott didn’t catch that cold, so the shit really works, and the rest of the pot went into the freezer to be pulled out when needed: the next time he felt under the weather, as something to take for lunch the next day, as something warm and homemade when he’d had a bad day.

Part One: The Stock

In a large stock pot, bring to a boil:

1 large carrot, roughly chopped
1 large celery rib, roughly chopped, with leaves
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half or quarters
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Several sprigs of fresh parsley (or the equivalent dried)
1 tsp. dried thyme or to taste
A few black peppercorns, cracked
1-2 large bay leaves
1 chicken bouillon cube (optional)
1 whole chicken, rinsed, about 3-1/2 pounds, gizzards removed
10-12 c. water

Reduce to a lively simmer and allow to cook until the meat falls off the bone, a couple of hours or so. Add water as needed to keep the chicken submerged.

When the bird starts to fall apart, remove it from the pot and let it rest on a platter to cool. Strip the meat and dispose of the skin and bones. Skim the fat from the broth if you want, and strain out the remaining veggie solids and eat them or chuck them.

You can stick both the meat and the broth in the fridge at this point and go drink some wine and deal with the rest of this shit tomorrow or later or when you get back from running errands or whatever.

Part Two: The Egg Noodles

You can use store-bought noodles, of course, and a lot of recipes do call for them, but I don’t really see the point of laming out now when you’re already halfway through making full-on awesome homemade chicken noodle soup. Plus noodles are hella easy and don’t take any time at all. Plus you can say YOU MADE THEM AND THIS ENTIRE GODDAMNED SOUP IS LEGIT FUCKIN’ HOMEMADE, BITCHES.

So, since you’re gonna make your own noodles, you need:

Some clean counter space
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon oil
1 egg

Combine the flour and salt in and make a well in the center. Crack the egg into it. Use a fork to beat the egg and then gradually start incorporating the flour into the eggs. Sprinkle the milk and oil onto the dough. Keep stirring and pulling in more flour until a solid dough forms. The dough will be sticky.

With well-floured hands, knead the dough, incorporating more flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the work surface or your hands, until it is smooth and firm and no longer sticky.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for half an hour or so while you do other things, like chop the vegetables and get the herbs and spices you’ll need for the soup.

Flour the counter and roll out the dough using a rolling pin or large bottle. Try to get it nice and thin, less than a quarter of an inch if possible. Slice into noodles and place on a paper towel. (Apparently you can, at this point, place them on a rack to dry and then store them in an air-tight bag in your pantry for several weeks.)

Or, make these (they’re the simplest — fewest ingredients). Or these.

Part Three: The Soup Itself

Re-heat the broth in a soup pot while adding:

1 carrot, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried parsley
2 cups diced or shredded chicken meat
salt & pepper to taste

Bring to a gentle simmer. Add your noodles and cook until they’re done, about half an hour depending on their size and thickness.

Adjust seasonings as needed and serve immediately, or cool and freeze to enjoy on a rainy day or the next time you think you’re catching cold.

Note: Apparently this soup is magic and makes people feel better.

Birthday

September 30th, 2014 | Posted by Mush in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

In which I’m another year older.

Yesterday was my birthday.

My beloved bought me a laptop,

I bought myself a skin for my Kindle Fire tablet so now it looks all burlwood and excellent,

and my dad, who is in town for a week, bought dinner!

I also chatted with a friend who just took a promotion at Comcast and said he might have a QA telecommuting job for me in a month or two, which means I might just be spared having to walk to work this winter. Which would be amazing. Although I would probably have to fly to Denver.

I also bought myself a package of socks. Because most of my socks have holes in them, and I live in Minnesota, and winter is coming. In fact, it’s not even cool outside, it’s cold. I’m not even kidding you. WINTER IS COMING, BITCHES.

Although, in Minneapolis’ defense, the summer was pretty lovely. We only turned the A/C on a handful of times, and that was generally for humidity more than heat. So maybe the winter won’t be that bad?

HA HA HA. I LAUGH AT MYSELF.

Money and credit, poverty and fees

September 12th, 2014 | Posted by Mush in Finance - (0 Comments)

In which I have rejoined the regular people.

Once upon a time, I was married.

My spouse, who said, “You don’t have to worry about money. We can always get more money,” and whom I believed, talked me into quitting my job. And then he quit working himself, so we lived on my credit cards for awhile (because he didn’t have any credit to live on, because he’d never filed taxes and basically didn’t exist).

Then, because there wasn’t any money coming in, well, some bills stopped getting paid. And some nasty collections agency took fifteen hundred bucks out of my checking account [illegally] and there was nothing I could do about it because I was broke and legal counsel ain’t free.

Shortly after, for various reasons, the marriage ended. Interestingly enough, although money is one of the top reasons for failed marriages, it was buried pretty far down on my list of reasons for leaving. I was exhausted by being miserable; being broke was merely icing on the cake. It’s not like I hadn’t been poor before. Only this time my debt was actually the debt of two people, one of which wasn’t going to help me pay it off.

I cashed out my tiny little 401k and drank heavily for a year.

When I surfaced, I tried to open a checking account. Nope, you’re listed at TeleCheck. Can I open a savings account? No, no, you can’t.

So I got a pre-paid debit card. It cost $1 to $2 per transaction to use it, but you can’t survive without some sort of bank account. Eventually I started paying the $69 annual fee instead of the per-transaction fees. And I just resigned myself to being poor forever.

Because when you’re below a certain line financially, everything costs money. Far more than it should. It costs money to use a debit card, it costs money to cash checks, it costs money to pay bills. Once you’re a certain level of poor, you pretty much stay there unless someone pulls you out of it, because you’re charged for transactions that are free for everyone else simply because you’re poor. I’ve paid hundreds if not thousands in “poverty fees” in my life and I know that being poor is expensive.

Well, that $1,500 judgement that overdrew my checking account and basically destroyed me financially was over seven years ago now, and I’ve paid off most if not all of those bills. So on a lark I applied for an Amazon Rewards card. And I was approved! AND the card came in the mail with my credit score, which is now, mysteriously, almost 700 printed on the letter.

Which means I now have a free checking account with free bill pay, and a VISA card that pays me from 1 to 5% just for using it. In short, I no longer have to pay for the right to use my own money. I get paid for using my money. Even though I’m no different today than I was two years ago, except I actually have less income.

I’m now one of them; and the only reason for this is that I haven’t had to pay rent since 2005. All those years of paying off my marriage’s debt and having zero revolving credit has made me a good credit risk again, even though I have very little income, and have historically earned very little. Which is to say, companies that extend credit? After all this? Still don’t give a shit if they ruin you by giving you too much rope as long as they get their fucking fees out of you.

Luckily I’m old enough now to have conquered most of my avarice; I won’t be buying things I can’t afford with my nifty new credit card. And I’m glad that using my own money is not not only free but earns me rewards, but I think it’s fucked that I spent most of the last decade paying for the right to spend my own paycheck.

Charging the poor for being poor is nothing short of evil. Especially since most of the poor are there not because they deserve to be, not because they’re ignorant or lazy or sub-par, but because they just don’t have someone to help them up over that invisible line.

Greed, I believe, is absolutely the worst of sins because of the endless misery it causes in the world.

In which I complain about things I don’t like. Because I’m spiritual and restrained like that.

Finance

I spend a lot of time on Amazon.com. I just do. I’m a Kindle owner several times over, I like ordering stuff online and not having to deal with stores or people or shopping, and it’s just convenient.

Recently while looking over the contents of my cart (I always keep things in there, but rarely actually buy them) I clicked on the AMAZON STORE CARD banner ad they’d been feeding me for the last year or so and applied.

In less than three minutes I had an account with an $800 limit, and thereby learned that while my credit it still so bad I can only get an $800 limit, it’s healed enough since the divorce that companies are now willing to give me credit again. Neat.

I had absolutely NO intention of using the account, not ever, because I didn’t need it and I’d read in the comments that the interest rates and fees were high.

Shortly after getting this Amazon Store Card account I bought an ebook from my Kindle Paperwhite and, noticing that my phone didn’t ding with a text from my debit card carrier, went into my Amazon settings and set my regular card as the default. (Amazon had automatically set the store card as the default payment method. I didn’t want to use it, so I set my regular card as the default. I know I did this, because my next ebook purchase shows up on my debit card.)

Well, Amazon set the store card as my default payment method again all on its own and weeks went by before I noticed, because I’m often not within hearing distance of my cell phone when I buy an ebook.

Today I closed the card. I ended up paying $120.72, all told, for no service whatsoever — merely for “financing” some ebook purchases.

Fucking usury. This shit should be illegal. I could bitch at the account carrier, but I did charge those ebooks and I didn’t make the payments my acceptance of their terms and conditions said I would. And I could bitch at Amazon, too, about being charged fifty bucks for nothing, but they didn’t charge me the financing fees and they’d just look at their logs and say, “Well, it shows here that your Amazon Store Card was set as your default payment method between those dates, so we’re sorry for your trouble,” even though I know their software set the card as the default. Twice! Both times without my desire or permission!

Adding insult to injury, the previous month I had opened a Paypal debit card at my brother’s recommendation. And I closed that shit, too, as soon as I realized it was going to cost $59.88 a year just to have the thing, whether I used it or not. Basically I had a Paypal debit account for a couple of weeks, never used it, and paid five bucks in fees.

The job market

Have you read any job listings lately?

Holy shit. These people are insane. There are companies who want to pay ten bucks an hour for contract work, even though working from home means the contractor has to buy and maintain her own equipment, pay her own utilities, and file complicated taxes. Who the fuck would contract for ten bucks an hour! It’s absurd.

Then there’s the jobs that say “Part-time receptionist” and start the third paragraph with, “In addition to Sales, the receptionist will be expected to attend local trade shows…” Because on what planet is reception a fucking sales position? Is it the planet where the receptionist also has to be an expert at bookkeeping? Not, like, “Sure I can do basic bookkeeping,” but, like, they want to pay somebody ten bucks an hour to be a receptionist AND literally file the company taxes.

Then there’s the “Make $1500 to $2000 a week being a massage therapist” postings. You merely have to be, and I quote, “easy on the eyes.” Because we don’t hire no ugly whores, yo.

I just went through all of the part-time postings in the Minneapolis area for the past two weeks, and over 80% of them are bogus. Not because they’re not real jobs, but because they want skilled workers to work shitty schedules for $8.25 an hour.

These postings wouldn’t exist if people weren’t desperate enough to actually take these jobs.

I applied to the contracting one, of course, but in the last paragraph of my cover letter told them that their pay rate was a pipe dream and that I was applying anyway in case they wanted to get in contact with me after their other applicants turned out to be disappointing. Because sometimes, people just need to be told.

Shit schedules, shit environments, and shit pay: this is what most part-time job descriptions contain. Is it truly impossible for, say, a grocery store to offer regular schedules? Is it written somewhere that these places have to have random scheduling? Is it further written that people working that hard and in such uncertainty and discomfort should be paid too little to survive on, and also that all such companies must instead spend that money on expensive anti-employee theft training modules? Why does reading multiple job placement ads give one the impression that companies really think people don’t mind utter scheduling insecurity? “Must be available weekends.” “Prefer applicants with open evening and weekend availability.” “The hours for this position are M-F but the successful applicant will also be available weekends.” Because we want to pay you nine dollars an hour to have absolutely no personal autonomy whatsoever.

Jesus Christ, things are fucked UP.

All I want is a part-time office job. I despair of ever finding a part-time office job. I guess I’ll just start looking for full-time work so I can be depressed about that, too, because I fucked up and decided to not be “easy on the eyes” or have an advanced degree in accounting, so I can’t make two grand a week or nine dollars an hour.

In other news, I’ll be working all weekend again. Which means I haven’t had the luxury of sleeping in with the man I moved two thousand miles to live with in over a month. And yeah, I’m pretty mad about it. You try being 45 and finding a job that isn’t either full-time career path bullshit or Walmart greeter. It sucks, lemmie tell ya.

Recipe: Easy Salsa

August 5th, 2014 | Posted by Mush in Recipes - (0 Comments)

In which I was out of salsa but, believe it or not, had all the following ingredients on hand, so I made some!

Easy Salsa

Ingredients
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained and juice reserved
1 small onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
juice of 1 small lime
3/4 tsp. ground cumin

Method
Add all ingredients to a bowl or pot and blend with your trusty immersion blender until desired consistency is reached. Loosen with reserved tomato juice, if needed, and just drink it or pour it out if not.

Add salt to taste (most canned tomatoes are salty enough, so you may not need to) and refrigerate.

You can reduce the amount of jalapeno if you don’t like heat (or even omit it altogether and substitute a pinch of cayenne or three). The salsa will get warmer as it sits and the jalapeno has a chance to blend.

Optional: You can also add 1/4 c. of chopped cilantro if your boyfriend isn’t a hater. You can also also simmer this salsa to smooth out the raw taste and then cool and refrigerate.