Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Top Five Aerosole Facts a Shoe Diva Should Know

1. They let you host parties.

This is a stellar idea, mostly because I thought of it years ago for local businesses, but never thought it could be a thing for a national business.

My understanding is they bring you shoes, you drink wine and eat cookies and try them on, then they give you a percentage of your sales. If you own a salon, you get to give massages while you host. Who doesn't want to do this???

The only catch is, you have to live within an hour of the store so if you don't live in a metropolitan area, you can go over to your friend's house and still have wine and cookies, but you'll have to settle for trying on her shoes.


2. Old people shoes are so ugly, they're cute.

I'll apologize beforehand for calling these shoes elderly but please look at the next picture:




If you haven't seen an old person wearing this shoe, you're a liar. My Grandmother owns a pair and they were designated to the "old lady shoe" area of the shoe department when I worked for Macy's along with Naturalizers, Life Strides, Easy Spirits, Hush Puppies, and Grasshoppers

That said, I kind of like them now. One, because I managed in the ladies shoe department at Macy's for six years in non-elderly shoes and two, I'm at that age where it feels ridiculous to wear junior shoes. It's very interesting how at age 30 or so you start to transition from the person who wore short skirts and pierced body parts to the woman who walks into the break room at work, observes an inappropriately dressed young lady, and says to herself,"I wonder if she realizes she looks like a hooker?" with absolutely no malice or jealousy--just concern that the young lady on her cell phone with the tattoo on her thigh realizes what she's done to completely disregard any success she may have in the future with her dyed green hair and ill-fitting clothing. 

All of that sounds judgmental and it totally is but in a nice-but-sounds-mean-and-condescending way.

To summarize, my feet hurt and I'm old.

That said, Aerosoles can be so cute that they're ugly--the same kind of ugly that brought me joy in my teens as I found my mom's 1970's sandals fit and that guided me to bell bottoms made out of carpet in college. 

Here are a few samples of my favorite ugly/cute Aerosole shoes. I like how the last example looks like someone was like,"Oh my god look at that fabulous fabric on a sofa from Goodwill! I must put it on my feet and add laces!" 





I would wear every single pair of these as some acceptably unaware young person will think to herself,"Look at those ugly shoes on that slightly overweight, middle-aged person." And then I'll kick her in the face with my ugly shoe and run.

3. Diamonds are a girl's best friend.

Here are some really attractive women my age explaining how Aerosoles are basically the NASA of footwear with their fancy stitch-and-turn with diamond sole design. If I were in a nursery rhyme and I lived in a shoe with a bunch of children, I would want it to be an Aerosole.





4. If you lay around in bed long enough, you can figure out their coupon codes.

I have a compulsion to figure out how to know things I shouldn't know. One of them involves coupon codes for any number of businesses. The last pair of shoes I bought just had to come down in price. There were no adequate coupons available so I noticed they have a VIP program that provided a 15% discount on your birthday. Having worked retail most of my life, I assumed a coupon code would be involved and I knew that the powers that be wouldn't spend a lot of time on making them creative. So after half an hour, I cracked the code. You would've thought I won the lottery. 

5. They have a VIP program.

As you may have noticed from reading number 4, Aerosoles has a rewards program. Every $150 you spend will earn you a $10 gift certificate. They also give you 15% off on your birthday or every month if you're a con artist like me. 

Although I would never pay full price for anything, I watch the styles I want and buy them six months later when they are usually available. The best way to shop is to get a few friends on board and buy in bulk so you get free shipping and accrue the rewards points. Just explain to your friends that anything under $30 is not refundable for anything but a credit. I haven't found a better price for Aerosoles than on their website if you're looking for clearance. You can get shoes for as little as $16.99--that's better than their vendors including Macys, Sears, and JC Penney. But always check the department store web sites first! You can usually find their full price or moderately priced items for less.


5 Things I Learned About Peppadew

1. They were discovered when I started High School.

This one time back in 1993, a rich guy was wandering around his enormous South African back yard and he saw a tall bush with some fruit on it. Considering it was impossible for anything bad to happen to him since he was rich and white, he bit into one of the ripe red fruits and--VOILA!--peppadew was born. The name originated from the fact they look like a pepper (mostly because they totally are) and the gentleman's affinity for Mountain Dew, which he discovered while traveling the exotic mountains of West Virginia. I made that up, in case you have no humor or common sense.

2. Peppadews are patent.

Afore mentioned white guy, Johah Steenkamp, trademarked his discovery shortly thereafter and patented his "secret preparation." That means you can secretly sell your stash along with your other crops.

3. Peppadews are raised in New Jersey.

But I wouldn't travel there to buy them because people from New Jersey are also raised there.



4. You might find peppadew products in a grocery store near you.

Yancey's Fancy Artisan Cheese partnered with the producers of the peppadew brand to make several varieties of cheese. You can find their selections at your local Kroger. Spring Silver makes peppadew mustard, and Robert Rothschild makes peppadew cocktail sauce which you can usually find at your local specialty foods store. Wegmans's sells the direct brand of peppadews and salsa. 


5. Peppadew shows at the Annual International Las Vegas Pizza Expo.

I can't think of a better way to eat pizza,drink beer and hang out with managers from pizza fast food chains all over the United States. I could make some very derogatory remarks about the guy who ran the pizza place I used to work at but then I'd have to admit I worked there.



Friday, February 20, 2015

Kit and Kaboodle: The Top DIY Gifts for Your Man

Do guys really want an expensive shaving kit? Is he really that concerned with the shine of the dress shoes he only wears twice a year?

Some kits are the pits, some are pretty super, and you may or may not have known they existed. Here are my top picks for kits:


Homemade Debauchee Kit

While the tools in this kit can be used in making wine and beer, if you've already perfected the art of an exact blend of  grapes and just the right hop combo for your brew, it's time to move on to another subdivision of drunkenness and beverage/food pairing. Strike up the grill this spring and serve a little saki with your stir-fry. Your friends will be impressed that you've learned a new skill and on birthdays and holidays you can pair it with a saki set for a unique, gift presentation.


(Sake Making Kit, Scountmob, $57)

Asian Gift Package



The Paranoid Prepper 

We all have those individuals in our lives that stick around to remind us of all the bad things that could possibly happen. The pessimists, the hypochondriac, the practical naysayers all do us a favor and yank our fluffy little heads right out of the clouds in order to lend us a hard dose of reality: bad things happen--often and in large quantities.

That's why the gift of preparation is so much better than a rash-causing sweater that reminds him of his weight gain or a gadget that, studies show, trigger premature balding and probably cancer.

Just add water! If you can still find water in the inevitable Apocalypse (courtesy of The Ready Store).

The Pyromaniac

Red Dragon torches are advertised as an environmentally healthy alternative to using pesticides in your garden.

What they don't advertise is how great a Red Dragon Kit can be when you want to see stuff explode. Some of their satisfied customers include Boeing and The City of New York. Can you say "conspiracy theory?" 



The Tech Guy

I'm not even sure what happens with this but I feel like it has something to do with building robots or being the Antichrist. If you pair it with the prior two gift guys, I think what you might have is a little roll playing game I like to call "Compound." Buy yours at the local Radio Shack before they go the way of the Blockbuster.




The Tree Man

I dated a Tree Man once. You can easily identify them as they always look kind of dirty, they always have some sort of hard labor job, and they take pride in loving the simpler things in life like shooting wildlife, drinking beer, and proving every aspect of their masculinity to everyone, all the time, every day while retaining the "good heart" that doesn't allow you to run screaming from the latest carcass they've dragged home (literally and figuratively).

These types of men love wood burning kits. You can search "wood burning" on Pinterest and observe any number of impressive projects. You're man will not provide one of these for added income but--if you're lucky--he won't burn anything into his own skin and he might present one of these on Valentine's Day. 



Thursday, January 1, 2015

Tomatillo Chili

Out of all the culinary items I've discovered throughout my Woman's Day cooking journey, those that stand out the most are capers and smoked paprika. In short, capers are a marvelous little flower ball thingy found near the olives in the pickle aisle and are most def in the pickle/olive/artichoke flavor range and smoked paprika is not at all like regular 'ol shake-this-ruddy-flavorless-color-on-my-deviled-eggs paprika. It's smokey--hence the name.

This is my fourth year cooking from Woman's Day recipes and I'm all biggety about knowing how to cook but still I come across items and I'm all like,"What is that and where do I get it?"

This time I was trying to make my New Year's Day Vegetarian Chili and the recipe called for tomatillos. In my mind, what that meant was either some sort of vegetable in a can or some sort of tamale in a can. I searched the aisles of the ethnic cuisine at Kroger to no avail. What I did find was this:


All I saw was the word "tomatillo" and that's all I needed. I was tired of looking.

Of course, in reality a tomatillo is a vegetable that I could've found in the produce section, it obviously resembles a tomato, and had I read the recipe I might have realized that. But isn't this way more fun?

I dumped the entire 12 oz jar of sauce in my chili. I also added cilantro and 2 squares of Lindt chili dark chocolate. It was delicious.


Chili is the ultimate January meal in my opinion. Every year, my church used to host a special speaker and celebrate the new year with a chili cook-off. I obviously won on at least one occasion and gained possession of the coveted Chili Pepper Wreath for the year. 

In 2012, I also hosted a chili cook-off for small businesses to raise money for the winner's charity of choice. Our local bison farm earned the most votes and all the contestants took home hot sauce. Our runner up enjoyed a "chili" cake made by a local cake artist.



(Our Chili Cake...or IS it??)

Chili is really a community experience. I imagine my friends and I, out on the farm for a hearty cowgirl night, sipping cold fresh milk with spicy bowls of chili--all from our own secret recipes. There would be sides of cilantro, brown sugar, sour cream, and cheddar cheese with a selection of oyster crackers or rosemary bread. We'd all have our own special bowls and sit around the campfire. Maybe someone would bring a guitar and at the end of the night we'd smell smokey just like a ranch hand.


These chili pots are hand crafted by David Norton out of Round Hill, Virginia. I want the blue one for myself and I'd love to attach a recipe to each of the other three and give them to friends with a promise to host a Cowboy Campfire.

I'd place a tomatillo in each one. 

ingredients
U.S.Metricconversion chart
  • 3 tablespoon(s) olive oil
  • 1 cup(s) diced onion
  • 2 tablespoon(s) minced garlic
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup(s) thinly sliced carrots
  • 1/4 cup(s) chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon(s) ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon(s) ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 8 ounce(s) (1 1/2 cups) fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut in big chunks
  • 1 medium (1 1/2 cups) zucchini,  halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 can(s) (19 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can(s) (28 ounces) tomatoes in purée, tomatoes coarsely chopped (see Note), undrained
  • 1/2 cup(s) chicken or vegetable broth, or water
directions
  1. Heat oil in a 3 1/2- to 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often, until onion starts to soften. Add red and green bell peppers and carrots and cook 5 to 6 minutes, stirring often, until carrots
  2. Add chili powder, ground cumin, salt and ground red pepper and cook and stir 1 minute.
  3. Add tomatillos and zucchini and cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until tomatillos start to soften.
  4. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 20 minutes.
  5. Uncover and simmer 10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, or until sauce has thickened and vegetables are tender.
tips & techniques
Note: To chop canned tomatoes, snip them directly in the can with kitchen scissors.

Behold!

Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." --I Corinthians 5:17

I made one New Year resolution, and that was to live in the present.

That IS to live in the present?

There are regrets--dwelling on them causes sorrow, anxiety, hopelessness. The future is uncertain so the potential for worry nears the surface in a race against doubt and fear.

This is what I have--I am making choices now. I'm choosing to reconsider my thoughts and produce action in this moment. This moment will be past. This moment will be forgotten more than likely. I have learned from the past and I've established goals. I am ready to just do.

I looked at my empty bowl of chili and found myself scooping up the remainder of the pot for seconds. I've eaten enough food in the past to know that eating seconds can lead to weight gain. If I wait, I may not be hungry after the first round settles.

In that moment I had more, I wanted more, and I could have more.

I put the remainder of the batch in a plastic container and I sat down to write this blog. I'm not going to spend the rest of my life making up for what I chose to do in the moment.

I'm thankful I had the money, time, and energy to make that chili. I enjoyed it, I gave thanks for it. I'm still hungry. And I can accept and I will accept it.

We fool ourselves planning for what we will do every day. I will just do.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Shrimp and Grits: The Truly Southern "Meal"

I know a few Southern chefs and restaurant entrepreneurs (entreprawneurs...I am full of the pun dickens today) who will chase me down and slice me up for this recipe blog but I have taken it upon myself to keep the public informed and informed they shall be.

The truth is, there is simply a lot of danger involved in eating seafood. It's full of bacteria, mercury, chemicals, and the industry is overwrought with environmental destruction and human rights violations. The Old Testament forbids the consumption of pork and shellfish. Well...there's probably a good reason for that according to health sources including Dherbs.com, distributor of various body cleanse supplements:


"Shrimp is a scavenger that thrives off of eating the flesh of dead creatures.

If you eat shrimp, you should be aware that you might be eating feces as well. The dark-colored tube on the shrimps back is the intestinal tract of the shrimp and it harbors bacteria. If you enjoy eating shrimp, you should remove the intestinal tube by running a small pick down the back of the shrimp until the tube falls out."


According to Greenpeace, tropical shrimp farming is harmful to the environment as well. And our grocers aren't doing an excellent job of keeping toxic fish and other seafood off of our plates either. I was dismayed to realize that Kroger barely escaped Greenpeace's fail grade because of "red listed" seafood. The red list primarily addresses seafood sustainability. But what about health?



("...even if they are labeled organic.")

Don't worry! I'm not here to completely rain on your parade! I'm not saying never eat seafood again. I am, however, encouraging you to know your source of seafood.

I am blessed to live in the best Southern Commonwealth ever where "our fish are clean before you ever take a knife to them." Virginia offers blue crab, sea trout, clams, and so many other varieties along with species fact sheets and suppliers directories. If you're going to buy shrimp for your grits, I would recommend that they hail from Alaska or if you're also a Virginia native, you can buy shrimp from any number of aqua-farms:


"Virginia Aqua-Farmers Network is a Virginia based co-op comprised of 25 member/owner aqua-farmers.  Our farmers raise chemical-free, sustainable channel catfish, rainbow trout, hybrid striped bass, and freshwater shrimp (prawns).  All of our products are farm-raised without the use of chemicals or hormones.  Our products are raised in all-natural environments with quality being our number one priority.  Our products are only harvested when orders come in to ensure absolute freshness to our consumers.  All of our farmers practice sustainable aquaculture while limiting their impact on the environment.  If you want the best quality and the ultimate in fresh fish and shrimp then we are right for you.  Virginia Aqua-Farmers Network, Raised Right…Raised Here, in the USA!!"


(Chincoteague Virginia Shrimp and Grits)




ingredients


  • 1 cup(s) quick-cooking grits
  • 2 tablespoon(s) olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pound(s) large peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 2 teaspoon(s) Cajun or blackening seasoning (no salt added)
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoon(s) fresh lime juice
  • 2 clove(s) garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup(s) frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 bunch(es) spinach, thick stems discarded

directions
  1. Cook the grits according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the shrimp with the Cajun seasoning and 1/4 tsp salt and cook for 2 minutes. Turn and cook until opaque throughout, 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove the skillet from the heat, add the lime juice and toss to coat. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Wipe out the skillet and heat the remaining Tbsp oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the corn and cook until heated through.
  4. Add the spinach and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper and cook, tossing, for 1 minute. Return the shrimp to the skillet and toss to combine. Serve over the grits.

Nutritional Information
(per serving)
Calories384
Total Fat9g
Saturated Fat1g
Cholesterol214mg
Sodium452mg
Total Carbohydrate44g
Dietary Fiber4g
Sugars--
Protein29g
Calcium--