Monday, November 14, 2011

My Life in a Nutshell: Facebook is not Reality

I recently had a wonderful Facebook chat with 2 real-life friends who currently live in other states. It was like a girls’ night out, but digital. In our discussion it came up that sometimes we all feel down because we are constantly getting the impression that everyone else has rosy lives filled daily with delicious and attractive meals eaten with perfectly satisfied husbands and clean and helpful children who never have tantrums at school and positively never ever pick their noses. And other such impossible realities. The truth of the matter is that Facebook lies to us.

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On Facebook, like on many blogs, we only see the really notable aspects of someone’s life, generally the most photogenic or comment-worthy. We see pictures of their wedding, new babies, vacations, reunions, New Year’s Eve parties. We don’t see those same people feeling miserable or doing mundane activities. You know, the stuff we deal with regularly that doesn’t feel notable or particularly satisfying. In March this year, the journal Pediatrics published a paper on “Facebook depression”, a phenomenon among teens and tweens (and to a lesser extent all users of social media). The findings indicated a correlation between depression and usage of social media, though there is no consensus on which came first. Apparently we all like to stuff our electronic bras, selectively sharing our lives with the world at large in a way that gives the best impression. It’s a natural reaction to an unnatural information society, free of context or body language - a vicious cycle in which our perceived worth is as simple as the number of people who read our updated statuses.

I try to keep it real here, but it’s human nature to make others think we have our act together. We don’t like to feel incompetent or pitiable. In a recent post I whined about how busy and scattered I am, and I do genuinely feel very much that way most mornings these days. But I am optimistic (because I need to be to survive my life right now) and sometimes I might be doing you a disservice by not disclosing more aspects of my less-than-perfect life. So here we go! A good confession is truly cathartic, so I expect to feel better by the end of this as well.

I can be shamefully disorganized at times. For example, my work room:

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Do you like that I have a watermark on that photo? Don’t you dare go trying to put my “studio” on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens now, or I might get litigious. That was an admittedly bad day (thwarted cleaning/organizing in addition to a rain-induced leak in my work area). But still. Would you want to try to work there? I also had some recent shameful disorganization-related incidents at social functions, nearly-missed appointments, etc. I just renewed some library books that were due with mere minutes to spare. My kids aren’t always clean…

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or dressed properly,

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or polite.  

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I cook ugly food most nights for dinner, if I cook at all. 

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And sometimes my best efforts just plain fail.

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(those were supposed to be lighthouse-shaped cookies!!)

I always do my best, but sometimes my best isn’t really something I think you’d want to read about. That’s been happening a lot lately given our family circumstances, and it is partly the cause for fewer posts than I’d like. But it’s my new resolution to be more honest, so hopefully that’ll translate into more posts. Shorter, less entertaining, uglier posts.

See you real soon :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

From the Kitchen: Garlic Breadsticks

Mmmm… I’m in carb heaven just thinking about these. They’re essentially a knock-off version of what Olive Garden dishes out, and they are fantastic. They’d really impress with any home-cooked Italian meal for your next at-home date night...

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Garlic Breadsticks

Dough Ingredients:

1 1/2 c warm water

2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp salt

4 1/4 c all-purpose flour

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)

Garlic Butter Ingredients:

4 tbsp butter, melted

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

Directions:

(Normally I’d use my bread machine for this, but this recipe is too large to fit!!) In your stand mixer, follow directions for making dough with dough ingredients. Allow dough to rise in a greased bowl in warm location until doubled. Punch down and cut into 16 equal pieces. Grease 2 cookie sheets, and form breadsticks with each dough piece and lay on cookie sheet. Allow to rise for about 30 minutes while you preheat your oven to 400 degrees and mix the garlic butter ingredients together in a small bowl. Bake breadsticks for 6-7 minutes, then baste with garlic butter. Return to oven for 6-7 more minutes and then baste again. Serve hot!

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Mmmm… resistance is futile…

Thursday, November 3, 2011

From the Kitchen: Creamy Garlic Shrimp with Rotini

These lackluster photos have been sitting around waiting to be blogged, but I made it again for dinner recently and realized that I hadn’t shared it deliciousness with all of you. Loved it as leftovers too. Yum. The photos are really not good at all, but when you’ve got a hungry family waiting for you to take pictures of the food so they can eat, you don’t take your time. Since I use this as my online recipe box, blogging it also serves my selfish organizational purposes. Mwa ha ha…

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Creamy Garlic Shrimp with Rotini

Ingredients:

1 box (14.5-16 oz) rotini

3 tbsp oil

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

3 small zucchini, cubed (can substitute any vegetables you like)

4 cloves garlic, pressed

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup diced pickled red pepper (optional but good if you have it around)

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese (please please please do NOT substitute for other “parmesan” cheeses! for the love of all that is holy!)

2 cups peeled, cooked, thawed shrimp (can use frozen, fresh, whatever… as long as it’s peeled and cooked before you use it here!)

Directions:

Prepare pasta, set aside and keep warm. Heat oil in pan and add vegetables, salt and pepper. Sauté the onion, zucchini, and garlic until tender and fragrant. Add pickled pepper. Reduce heat to low and add cream and cheese until very hot. Add shrimp and heat through. Remove from heat and mix well with hot pasta. Serve immediately and enjoy!!

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I think the secret here is the sauce. It’s so very easy and basic, but really delivers on flavor. If you don’t keep a wedge of parmigiano reggiano cheese in your fridge, you should. Nothing at all like pre-grated parmesan cheese, this packs a flavor punch and a little goes a long way. It lasts an eternity in your fridge, so it’ll get used up eventually. Trust me. This pasta dish would ideally be served with garlic breadsticks (is there a pasta dish that wouldn’t go well with fresh, carb-loaded garlicky goodness?), so tomorrow I’ll post about those! See you then :)