Break Away From Your Internet Rut

The Internet is a massive and wonderful tool. You can connect with old friends, get the most current information on almost any subject, and find endless sources of cheap entertainment. Yet, those who use the Internet for that last list item, I am sure, often quickly find themselves in a rut. Let’s face it, we are creatures of habit. So even when given unlimited options for entertain ourselves, we are still more likely to continue to peruse the same few sites over and over again. I am no different. And so, I have decided to share a few of my favorite Internet locales in the hopes that this broadens some people’s scope of entertainment and encourages them to suggest a few back.

1. Listverse – How could I start a list about fun websites and not include the one that lists everything else? Listverse.com is the massive compilation of hundreds of lists pertaining to everything from art and literature to health to the bizarre. It provides an excellent time waster as well as a way to learn a fun fact or two. Just beware of the subject/list you choose. Some can be fairly creepy of graphic while others have images that are definitely NSFW.

2. Foodgawker – Looking though a 2-inch thick recipe book with nothing but recipe titles and finely printed ingredients/instruction can get old. Welcome to foodgawker.com. Both inspiring and mouth-watering, this website allows you to choose your recipe based upon the image of its end result. You may also narrow your search to one of the multiple categories (my favorite is “desserts” of course) or use the handy search tool to look for a specific main ingredient. All results look absolutely delicious. The hardest part will be choose just one! (An incredibly similar site to this is tastespotting.com)

3. People of Walmart – If you are a frequent Walmart shopper, I apologize in advance if this you find this site offensive. But COME ON! It is absolutely amazing how many train wrecks walk the aisles of that store. Peopleofwalmart.com provides hilarious photos, contests, stories, and videos of the shoppers of said discount store. I would try to describe some of them but you are really better off just going to the site yourself. There is also a book and a merchandise store. A merchandise store for a website about a store! Really?! Really.

4. Tucker Max – Perhaps some will remember the film “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” from a few years back. I personally never saw it. I couldn’t tear myself away from Tucker Max’s website long enough to buy myself a ticket. This site is definitely not for those easily offended or disgusted. Seriously. However, if you are looking for some hilarious and raunchy alcohol fueled (quite well written I might add) then give tuckermax.com a try. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you if you end up vomiting (whether from laughter or disgust) on your computer screen.

5. Postsecret – The only downside to this site is that you only see a new post once a week. Nevertheless, the vulnerability you recognize from reading the cards on postsecret.com is both chilling and amazing. Reading these secrets brings out so many feeling for me personally. I have been furious at the writer. I have been furious at the person that hurt them. I have smiled and laughed aloud. I have felt deep empathy and pity. I have thanked God I know some secrets don’t pertain to me and sometime look at others and wonder if they do. The most incredible feeling is when you see a card, a secret, and you KNOW you share the same one.

This is, by far, not all the places I stop on my way about the web, but certainly some of the most common and memorable. Hope you enjoy a site or tow from this list and please feel free to recommend your own.

The Little Things and Microwaves

Everyone always talks about the “little things” worth living for, the “little things” that make you happy. But what about the “little things” that just piss you the hell off? What about those seemingly insignificant moments, ticks, behaviors that, for some reason, just drive you up the wall? As amazing as it is what simple things can make people (myself included) happy, the most abstract occurrances can easily send them in the other direction. One of my top offenders: the microwave.

Now understand, I love microwaves. They heat up delicious Thanksgiving leftovers. They provide me a fast track to my hot cocoa fix. But, don’t push the reset button and it’s a whole different story. Ask anyone in my family and they will confirm that the microwave in my parent’s house almost always showed the correct time on its little digital clock. Why? Because after each person finished re-heating their respective food or drink, pulling the newly warmed delectable from the microwave with just a second left (let’s be honest, the beeping timer at the end gets real old, real fast) I would be there within the minute to make sure the reset button had been pushed to clear the leftover time. Maybe it would not have been such a big deal had there been another functioning clock in the room. Maybe I can just be a little anal, but nothing used to infuriate me more than looking at the microwave to see what time it was, only to be faced with a lone “1” in the digital window. It was like the appliance was flipping me off! I just could not stand it!

I realize this confession places me in the category of slightly insane, but truly, everyone has their own little tick. It all comes down to whether you are crazy enough to fess up to it (which clearly, I am). So what about you? Are you just crazy enough to tell me? What is your “little thing”?

Temperamental Tastebuds

I never really grew up as a picky eater. Sure, I, like most kids, fought with my parents when a few choice vegetable were placed on my place (still not a fan of green beans), but for the most part I was pretty good about clearing my place. Spinach: yum, steak: yes please, broccoli casserole: delicious, corn: haiyoooo! However, I now find myself dating someone who, while still not necessarily picky, has a few idiosyncrasies when it comes to food. This is my food challenge and I hope one day to ease him into a love of a few more tasty treats.

1. Cheese – He likes cheese only half the time. Bring him a plate of fine brie and gouda with crackers and wine to boot and he will assuredly decline. Heat that cheese up on a disk of dough with some pepperoni on top and it will be gone before you know it. The only exception to this rule, as far as I have found, is mozzarella. Ironically, you mostly find this cheese melted and gooey on top of a hot italian dish anyway.

2. Fish – Growing up in the Northwest I love, love, LOVE my fish. I have been eating more than my fair share of delicious chinook salmon since I was little, not to mention the occasional treat of backyard bbq oysters, a few rare meals of lobsters, and pretty much every other fish or shellfish I have been able to try. NOT from the Northwest, my significant other HATES seafood. I guess scarring childhood experiences have made him believe that all fish is inevitably gross and “fishy.”  “Not here!” I try to tell him. “We have wonderful seafood here!” But alas, I think I may be too late to help him understand the joys of a wonderfully made cioppino or delicious grilled clam.

3. Coffee – Now, this one really gets me as I was recently able to trick the BF into digesting a little coffee without his knowledge, and he LOVED it. I think what scared him the most is the bitterness of a dark bold roast, which is (of course) what I prefer. Being privy to such a flavor around me, he won’t even try the glorified, liquified desserts known as coffee drinks (caramel macchiato, anyone?), no matter now sweet I tell him they are. Then, the other day, I snuck a bit of coffee ground directly into a batch of chocolate chip cookies I was baking and let him try one, not telling him my secret ingredient. He thought they were amazing, said he couldn’t even taste the coffee (which I wonder about because I could). Nevertheless, it made me feel like I had at least made some headway on his unique pickiness.

Despite all his protests, I sometimes find myself thinking… maybe, someday, we will be able to sit down to a meal of smoked salmon and brie, followed by a lovely warm and foamy cappuccino the next morning…. maybe not.

Baking up a storm

After arriving home from London a couple weeks ago, I had a craving for some baking. Never mind that sweets seem to be a staple of the holiday season, I was in dire need of some cookie dough therapy after spending nearly three months without making a single sweet. And so, propelled by this baking need and the annual Christmas cookie frenzy, I made the following treats (and the list is still growing).

Four (4) double batches of Chex Mix – various recipes. I highly recommend you go  to Chexmix.com and try a few of the lesser known ones.

One (1) batch chocolate chip peppermint cookies

One (1) batch marionberry thumbprint cookies

One (1) batch pumpkin cookies

One (1) batch sugar cookies

One (1) batch nutmeg log cookies

One (1) DOUBLE batch gingerbread cookies

Two (2) batches peppermint brownies

One (1) batch caramel corn

Now it is time to get ready for the family dinner Thursday evening (aka MORE baking)

Peppermint Perfection

What is is about peppermint and chocolate that make something so irresistible? In truth I never really do think about it until the holidays come near and the candy canes come out, but really, the combination is to die for. Ever since December hit, I can’t stop thinking of ways to munch on or put together these two flavors. York peppermint patties, of course, are already waiting with the scrumptious peppermint/chocolate combo, and so are a few other sweets we have around the house. But in addition, I love creating and eating peppermint brownies (just add 1/4 tsp of peppermint extract to brownies, plus crushed candy cane on top), chocolate chip peppermint cookies (1/2 cup crushed candy cane to any recipe, although, getting them off the baking sheet is a little tricky due to the quick hardening candy), and peppermint hot cocoa (whether you use extract or peppermint shnapps, it is sure to leave you warm and satisfied).

Make any one of these and you will agree: Peppermint was not meant to be limited to toothpaste and gum, it should be enjoyed (especially with chocolate) in many other delectable ways.