Ginger Snap Cookies For The New Year

Before you start your New Year’s resolutions and give up gluten, or start a juice cleanse, or beg your friend Tom to cook you healthy food for a week… Can you guess which one I plan to do?

Anyway, before you start all that, you should make these cookies as your final hoorah.
Ginger Snaps

My Aunt Katherine is FAMOUS for these ginger snaps. And by “famous,” I mean that my cousin Stuart told me they are awesome, so I decided to make them.

The trick to making these is to use fresh ginger. If that sounds intimidating, it isn’t. I legit Googled how to do it, because I’d never grated ginger before, and found this weird but also helpful video.  All you need is a piece of ginger and a cheese grater. It’s super simple, and it made the cookies really have that fresh ginger kick to them.

Ginger Snap Recipe

I put these out as part of the dessert for a dinner party, and needless to say they went FAST. I made them small enough, so that you don’t feel too badly about having two. Or three. Or as many as you can cram into your mouth.

Also, this recipe makes a solid 4 1/2 dozen, so they make a great gift to send people home with as well.

What you’ll need:

1 cup sugar.
2 cups flour.
1/2 teaspoon salt.
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. 1 teaspoon ground ginger.
1 teaspoon baking soda.
3/4 cup Crisco.
1/4 cup molasses.
1 egg, slightly beaten.

Directions (verbatim from my Aunt):

Combine dry ingredients. Add Crisco and mix together until crumbly. Add molasses and egg. Mix until well blended. (I make mine in the food processor.)

Form dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Press slightly to flatten a little. (I use the bottom of a glass, dipped in sugar)

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

The Conversation That’s More Awkward Than A Sex Talk

Online DatingThis Christmas was the first one that Eand I spent together. He met my family in Florida, and I flew to Arkansas to meet his. Both trips went well. My parents thought he was great, and my Mom loved the box of Godiva he bought her.

But my Dad asked a pretty basic question after E had left. “How did you two meet?”

My brother (bless his heart) had broken the news to my Mom pretty early on in our relationship. I got a phone call, “Did you meet E on a website?” she asked. “Robert told me that you met him on a website.”

Robert, my brother, had read about how we met when I wrote about the experience for The Underenlightened. I hadn’t really planned to tell my parents about it, and I always thought that if it came up, I’d invent a story. “We met through mutual friends,” was what I’d originally told my Mom. So, imagine her surprise when she’d heard this wild tale from my brother… right?

“Yes, we met online,” I said. I was caught, and I didn’t want to lie to her.

“Was the website called ‘Desperate Women’?” she laughed. My Mom obviously had opinions about online dating, and what doing it said about you as a person.

She wasn’t the only one who had opinions, of course. Even my best friends, people who were my age, told me I’d end up dead or part of a Dateline story. You know, fun stuff like that. Sometimes it made me feel bad, but mostly I just ignored them. Plenty of people online date, it just still has a crazy stigma attached to it.

I thought I’d gotten over the biggest hurdles with it. It still comes up every now and then when we meet new people and they ask how we met. But mostly, I thought we had all that under control.

Until my Dad asked the pointed question: “How did you two meet?”

I had always figured that if my brother told my Mom, then surely he’d told my Dad. And if he hadn’t told my Dad, then my Mom would have. It was such an innocent question, but it really took me by surprise that he didn’t already know the answer. We were at our kitchen table, and the TV was blaring loudly in the background.

“We met online,” I said.

“On what?” he asked. I didn’t know if he hadn’t actually heard me, or didn’t want to hear what I’d said.

“We met online,” I repeated. “I’m a modern lady.” I tried to joke. He heard me that time around.

“You did?” he said. His eyes were wide like saucers.

“Yup. All the kids are doing it.”

My Dad stood up from the table, and wandered aimlessly toward our couch. I could tell that he was surprised I’d met E online. He’d probably expected a much more common answer. “We met at a party.” “Our friends introduced us.” “I was writing in a coffee shop, and he asked me for my number.” But the truth is, I never met guys at parties, as all of my male friends skew gay. And the only guy who ever asked for my number in a coffee shop turned out to not have a cell phone and made me split the bill.

“Which website?” he asked. I think he wanted to know which site so that he could sort out the kind of person E was.

“OkCupid,” I said. He didn’t know what the site was, but he repeated it to himself. Like he needed to hear it out loud again.

My Dad shook his head, and wandered upstairs. He never told me what he thought about how we met. Or if he thinks it’s odd. I may never know, as I suspect he won’t ask about it again. But I got the distinct feeling that he never considered we’d met online, even thought most of my life is online. Talking about how E and I met with my Dad felt more awkward than any other conversation we’ve ever had. But I suppose once you rip that bandaid off, you’ll never have to address it again. I hope?

Has anyone else had to deal with a family convo that was THE MOST AWKWARD THING EVER?! Or is this just my lot in life?!

Meet George, Our Morbidly Obese Bearded Dragon

Every time I go home, one thing I look forward to is seeing what George is up to. George is my family’s pet bearded dragon, and he’s morbidly obese.

I should also say that after a recent vet visit, we discovered that George is, in fact,  a lady. Georgette. Still, we call her George, and often confuse pronouns.

Some of you may already know George from me chronicling his weight-loss journey over on La Rosa Knows. But for those who don’t know her, allow me to introduce you…George

George is now 5 years old, and has been on a diet for the past two years, mainly because our vet noticed that she was “unable to lift her body” and had “excessive abdominal fat pads.

If you don’t believe me, then here’s the doctor’s assessment to prove it. That note still hangs on my parents fridge, along with instructions for exactly how many worms a lady of her stature should be eating each day.

George Vet Visit

Since being put on that diet, George has lost weight. Even if it’s hard to notice any difference at all. For all practical purposes, George still appears to be morbidly obese. Her belly hangs over the small rock that she likes to perch on, and her little dragon arms still seem burdened by her girth. But there are small differences that we’ve kept track of over the past year.

She can now run across the floor with ease. RUN. Before, she sort of dragged her sagging belly until she became fatigued, and then just sort of sat in the middle of the floor and waited for one of us to fetch her.

While I was visiting, I watched her scurry up a rock on her own, then climb down, and waddle across her cage to a different rock. There were so many options! So many places to sun! And now she’s light enough to move to each one without working up a sweat! (Note: I have no idea if bearded dragons sweat. My guess is that they don’t, but what do I know.)


My parents have been really great about giving her 6 worms total a week. (Except for Christmas, when she got an extra worm as her gift.) Before that, it was something really decadent like 12 a week. As a result, George has really lost weight, and become a much happier dragon as a result.

Even if she doesn’t look it, (“That’s one LARGE lizard,” someone remarked at our family holiday party), she’s definitely acting like someone who was given a new lease on life. Hell, she’s basically able to outrun our cats now, who are downright baffled by her new svelte figure.

George 2If you have any words of encouragement, or advice for our plus-sized lady, please send them my way!

What I’m Thankful For This Christmas

Mom And Dad

  • I’m thankful for my Dad and Mom, who gave me a sense of humor and storytelling.

My Mom is the storyteller. She knows what details to add, how to give other people funny voices, and exactly where the big punchline should be. She doesn’t know how funny she is, which is the best part. Her jobs when she was younger never involved storytelling; she was a registered nurse, mostly. So I’m not sure where she got her talents, but I’m glad that she passed them on to me.

My Dad, on the other hand, is all about snappy one-liners. He’s also an eccentric dude, which kind of lends itself to comedy.

One of my favorite stories of theirs has involved our neighbors, the Sweeneys. They don’t get along with my parents, and vice versa. The Sweeneys are older, and move as if their bodies have been filled with slow drying cement. My parents are younger, and my Dad listens to classic rock while smoking cigars and cooking fish. They’re just different people.

But one year, to piss off the Sweeneys, my Dad custom ordered a dozen or so posters of Frank Zappa, a classic rocker, quite literally pooping on a toilet. He called it his “Frank Zappa On The Crappa” posters. My Mom and Dad carefully hung each one in every window that faced the Sweeneys house. And every night, they’d turn on flood lights to highlight the posters. Eventually, the Sweeneys took notice, called my parents, and asked if they knew that there were pictures of a naked man in their window. My parents said yes, and promptly hung up the phone, cackling like maniacs. Those are my parents, and I think they’ve given me everything, especially when it comes to humor.

Frank Zappa On The Crappa

  • I’m thankful for my two favorite foods: Pasta and Whiskey.

It’s no secret that I love pasta. E is kind of not supposed to eat tomatoes. It makes him cough a lot. So, I’ve had to cut back on the pasta sauces. But nothing ever makes me happier than a nice baked ziti, (my Aunt’s recipe), and a glass of whiskey with an oversized ice cube. I’m smiling just thinking about it now.

  • I’m thankful to have a job where I get to work with the most amazingly talented writers, and write about things that I actually love.

What I do for a living is so awesome, that it doesn’t even seem like a job. I know that. I look for things that are funny and write about them online. Or I get to meet someone I’m obsessed with, like that time I met Shawn Ryan. Or go to events where I have no business being. (Looking at you, Comic-Con and that time I followed around the cast of Arrow.) I feel really lucky and grateful for that, and my job at BuzzFeed has really changed my life.

  • For all of the products that make my naturally curly hair look like something pretty, instead of a terrifying birds nest, as my Mom used to call it.

When I was younger, I had no idea what to do with my hair. Neither did my Mom. One side is legit curly, while the other is more just wavy. In the Florida humidity, though, the curls and waves just turned into a giant frizz ball. It wasn’t until I was in college, really, that I met another girl with curly hair who had just NAILED IT, ya know? Like, her hair was Beyonce awesome, and I wanted to know how. She taught me about mouse, and about how you really shouldn’t touch curly hair AT ALL once you’re out of the shower. I am thankful to have these magical hair powers, and for the ability to straighten my hair when I want to.

  • For videos of cats being insanely cute, for which I might not be able to survive anything.

This is best explained visually:

  • I’m thankful to have an audience for my writing. And I’m glad that some of them are haters. Because, in the words of Katt Williams, “You gotta be grateful, you need haters.”

Being able to write for a platform like BuzzFeed means that a lot of people see what I write. More often than not, people really love what I write. But then there are those commenters who get super vicious and hate on me. It’s strange to see the level of vehement anger and backlash people can get over a post, but I think it’s great too. Being able to get that kind of a reaction means that what I’m saying has touched them, even if it made them infuriated. THE POWER OF WORDS!

  • For my brother, who is so incredibly smart and motivates me to do better.

My brother is currently in med school. Med School! He’s in the midst of becoming a doctor, where he will have a job that helps people. I think that’s so incredible, and I love his courage to go after that career. My Dad, also a doctor, works hard to save lives every day, and I think it’s just spectacular that my brother chose to go down that same path. Did I mention the kid is insanely smart? So smart.

  • For living in a city that has given me so many wonderful friends, a great boyfriend, and opportunities that I wouldn’t get anywhere else.

HOLY MOLY, I LOVE LOS ANGELES. My friend Gabby once said, “LA loves you,” and she was talking about that fact that LA has been insanely good to me. I’ve managed to have some amazing jobs in LA, and work for places like BuzzFeed and Funny or Die. I’ve met some of the very best people in the world in Los Angeles. I have friends who are like family to me, and a boyfriend who makes my life wonderful every day. It really is the best city, and I’m so lucky to live there.

  • For all of the awesome TV that came out this year, including new shows like Sleepy Hollow, Orphan Black, Orange Is The New Black, and The Returned.

Crazy Eyes

Truth time: I love watching TV. If given the opportunity, I’d spend an entire day with a pot of macaroni and cheese, just sitting and binge marathoning some show. Thank heaven that new shows came out this year that are actually really good. Like, better than good.  And if you haven’t seen any of the above, then I think we should get together with that mac and cheese and have some quality TV time.

  • I’m thankful to have found a really great takeout restaurant in our new neighborhood of Los Feliz, so that when I’m having a stressful day I can still binge eat to my heart’s desire.

The place is Community, and their turkey reuben sandwich changed my life.

  • I’m thankful to own a Prius, so that I only have to refill the tank once a month, because that is the bane of my existence.

It’s the little things in life that really count. Like the fact that I only have to step outside my car and pump gas every so often as opposed to ALL THE DANG TIME.

  • Lastly, I’m thankful for this blog.

It’s cheesy, but having this as an outlet for my life has been like therapy. Or a Live Journal that you unfairly treat as a therapist.

The Best Way To Spike Your Hot Chocolate (And It’s Dairy-Free!)

Call me old fashioned, but I like to drink.

Especially when it’s cold outside, and even more so when it means I can have alcohol and chocolate at the same time. If you couldn’t tell, I made this treat over the weekend, and paired it with some dark chocolate cookies. They were perfect to dip into the cocoa, FYI.

Spiked Hot ChocolateThis isn’t my first time at the spiked cocoa rodeo. No, no, I’ve been perfecting this recipe for years. You see, I’ve become somewhat lactose intolerant in my old age, which means that I get to find all sorts of creative ways to work around dairy.

And since this recipe is dairy-free, it tastes a lot less heavy than a lot of other cocoas. Which is great, because you can drink up and not feel like you have to lie down after. Here’s how you can make it for yourself:

What you’ll need (serves 2-3):
  • 1/2 cup of Frangelico, which is a hazelnut liquor
  • 1/2 cup Brandy
  • 2-3 tablespoons of hot cocoa mix to taste (I used the Aztec cocoa mix from Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 cups of Almond milk
Directions:
  • In a small saucepan, combine the almond milk and cocoa powder. Stir until it’s well mixed.
  • Stir occasionally for 3-4 minutes over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a warm temperature, but make sure it doesn’t boil.
  • Add in the Frangelico and brandy, stir and let it heat for another 3-4 minutes.
  • Pour the drink into two mugs, serve with cookies, and enjoy!

Our New Apartment Is Starting To Look Like A Real Place

We’ve been in our apartment for about a month now. It feels like a lot longer than that. I don’t know why exactly, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that we spend a lot of time each weekend decorating it, or shopping for things for it. It’s like having a little pet that you like to dote on, and we have been spoiling it.

We’ve had four weeks to whip it into some kind of shape. Which has included a trip to the Rose Bowl flea market for furniture, multiple trips to Home Depot on E’s end, and yesterday it culminated in hanging a lot of our framed things. (Well, E used the hammers and nails, while I supervised from the safety of my couch.) And it’s finally gotten to a place where it feels like a real home. Huzzah! Victory to the people!

  • Here’s what our living room now looks like. We have a small antique side table we bought while in Big Bear, which has a mirror that my friend Brooke gave me for free a couple of years ago. (Free is me, btw, so if anyone else feels like they want to give me something free, let a girl know!) Then we have the antique loveseat that we bought at the flea market for $30. Such a deal. And over the top of it is an Edward Gorey drawing that E brought, and three smaller prints I already had.  And finally, there’s a small antique chair that I bought a few years back at the Melrose flea market, and a lovely Ikea bookshelf. (Bless that Swedish store.)

Industrial Living Room

  • On the next wall over, E put up this watercolor that his mother painted. (When I first started dating E, I saw this painting and was confused/scared as to why he had a redhead painting. Turns out, his mom paints redheads a lot, even though she isn’t one herself!) And under the painting is a table we bought in Big Bear for $25, littered with various tchotchkes.

Living Room Decorated

  • Behold! The reclaimed wood coffee table that weighs approximately 1 zillion pounds, but looks amazing in our living room! (Also a find from the Rose Bowl flea market.)

Reclaimed Wood Coffee Table

 

  • E took a lot of time curating the bookshelves. His father owns a bookstore, so I guess it’s in his blood, but they came out really well, right?!

Decorated Bookshelf

  • I took a photo of this, because I really love this little raccoon painting that I got for $2 at a Big Bear estate sale. It’s a raccoon, but it kind of looks like a cat. Oh, and the side table was also a flea market find.

Decorated Side Table

  • This reclaimed wood 7-foot-long table is arguably our most expensive purchase. But it’s beautiful, and big, and the benches for it are being delivered something this week.

Reclaimed Wood Kitchen Table

  • My bar cart has never been happier now that it has a little spot in the son, and a cheese painting right above it. I like to pretend they’re friends. They talk about boys and braid each other’s hair.

Bar Cart and Cheese PaintingI’m only showing photos of the living room, because it’s literally the only place we’ve tackled so far. Our bedroom, for example, has a bed. A side table. And a lot of work left. But we’ll be getting there, slowly and surely, and if anyone has any tips or thoughts on how to improve the space, let me know in the comments!

 

Happy Caturday: Pole Dancing Edition

It’s no secret that I have a “thing” for hairless cats. But what you may not know, is that I follow a pole dancer on Instagram. Her name is Erin (no relation), and she has a Sphynx cat named Pickles.

Full disclosure: I do not know Erin. I have never spoken to her. I’m sure she’s a lovely person, and a very talented pole dancer. But to be honest, I just really, really love her cat.

Following her on Instagram means that I get pics of Pickles in sweaters. He really loves to wear them.

And photos of Pickles staring out the window, just trying to decide what it is that life really means, anyway.

Sometimes Pickles is caught in the middle of a bath. Something that I’m sure he secretly hates, but I very openly adore.

Other times it seems like he wants to take after his mom, and play dress-up in her fancy dancing clothes.

Did I mention that there are some really cute baby photos of him as well?

The truth is that Pickles may never know how fully I do adore him. And I do adore him, I really do. But I hope that somewhere in his little hairless heart, he can feel my tiny eyes sending him love thoughts.

Also, Pole Dancer Erin, thank you for making Pickles wear so many awesome sweaters. It really does mean the world to me. Happy Caturday, everyone!

 

How To Have A Successful Rose Bowl Flea Market Trip

 

Remember going to Toys ‘R’ Us as a kid, and how amazing it was, because everything you ever dreamed of was all in one store? (You want to bake edible gummy spiders? Sure! Head over to the “science” section. Want a puzzle of Peru? OK! That’s in Aisle 5!) It was like upon entering the store, your heart literally exploded in happiness, and then was glued back together with toys.

Well the Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena is kind of like a Toys ‘R’ Us, but for adults. It’s one of the largest and best flea markets on the west coast, and it’s also where I spent this past weekend with E.

Rose Bowl Flea Market

 

We needed a new kitchen table. And a couch. And a coffee table. And THINGS. So, naturally, we decided to try out the flea market, because all of those things do live there. (Even if, in hindsight, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to like the look of them all.)

I had been to the market before, another time with E, when we weren’t looking for anything, but just wanted to poke around. I left with nothing, except a sense of relief at having left. (The crowds at the market are… intense, to say the least.) But that was a long time ago, and we needed THE THINGS, so we decided to try it out again.

Barbie Bin At The Flea Market

Now that I’ve been a second time, I really did learn a lot of what TO DO and NOT TO DO. If you ever plan on attending, here are some things you must know:

  • Get to the flea market by 9 a.m. The market is so much less crowded around that time, which means you’ll be able to see everything without getting claustrophobic in the massive crowds that hit around noon.
  • Don’t bother paying for the VIP parking, just try to park in Lot K, which is super close to an entrance, and also the location of official “furniture loading.” The VIP parking is a waste of money, and legitimately right next to the free parking.
  • Bring water and snacks, all of which are allowed in the market. The prices for any food at the flea market are insane. (Think $10 for water.) I brought PB&J sandwiches, which ended up being a godsend.
  • Wear sunblock, even when it’s cold outside. The market is all over asphalt, and the sun gets reflected right back to you.
  • Wear the comfiest damn shoes in your closet and you will be the happiest person in the world. The market is ENORMOUS. It’s so large that you’ll never really be able to see the end of it. Because of that, it means you’ll be doing a ton of walking, so be good to your feeties.
  • A lot of furniture places deliver, especially if you’re buying a larger item. Eoghan and I rented a U-Haul, because we were convinced we’d fill it up. But the man who sold us a 7-foot kitchen table with benches will be delivering it, free of charge, today. So, really, you probably won’t need to go through the hassle of renting a truck.
  • Haggle. Haggle. Haggle. I can’t stress this enough. If you’ve never haggled, or are afraid to, here’s a tip: Look at something, subtract 1/4 of the price, and start from there. So, if you see a table for $400, tell the vendor, “Can I get it for $300?” They will probably say no, but they’ll also probably follow up with a lower price that’s closer to the one you named. Worst case scenario: they say no completely, and then you leave!
  • Take out cash beforehand. There are ATMs onsite, but they come with a hefty charge fee.
  • Set aside at LEAST 2 hours to explore the flea market. If you’re not looking for anything, and just browsing, you’ll be exhausted by the time that 2 hours rolls around. If you’re a serious shopper, plan on spending 3-4 hours minimum.
  • Speaking of serious shopping, if you are in the market, make a list of things you need to buy. The place is overwhelming in so many ways, and you’ll be thankful to have that list come high noon when you’re dehydrated, dripping sweat, and impossibly trapped in the weird collectibles section.

California SignHappy shopping, everyone! And if I missed any flea market tips that you can think of, please add them in the comments!

 

A Hot Toddy Recipe To Keep You Warm

It’s a brisk 51 degrees in Los Angeles right now, which means we’re all breaking out the parkas. (No joke, people in LA cannot handle “cold” weather. Myself very much included.)

To warm up this weekend, I decided to make one of my favorite drinks of all time: a hot toddy.

Hot Toddy RecipeI don’t know why I love hot toddies so very much. They’re a grandma drink, and people have told me as much. But I think it’s the combination of yummy bourbon and sweet honey. And all of that hot water to warm me up. And basically everything about it. It’s the perfect winter drink, and it’s super simple to make.

Hot Toddy Hot-To:
  • Start by heating up a pot of water. To gauge how much you need, measure each person as one cup. So for two people, boil two cups of water, and so on.
  • Add a teaspoon of honey, and 2-4 tablespoons of bourbon to a mug. (That’s all up to how warm you want to feel after drinking this.)
  • Once the water comes to a boil, fill up your cup, and stir all of the ingredients together.
  • Top off the drink with a squeeze of lemon, and you’re ready to feel WARM ALL OVER.

Happy drinking, and stay warm!

The Moment That You Realize You’re A Grown-up

“You’re such a grown up.” – My friend, Chris, commenting on an Instagram I took of furniture I bought at the flea market.

I knew that something in my life had changed, like, really changed, on Sunday night. That morning, I’d woken up with E at 6 a.m. so we could go to the Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena to buy furniture for our new apartment. The trip there was a bit of a mess. We rented a U-Haul. Big mistake. We paid $10 for “VIP” parking. Not a great choice. We hadn’t bothered to rent furniture blankets, so when we brought our things back in the truck, we could hear all of that antique wood clunking together as we took the bumpy road home. Did I mention I only had one cup of coffee before we left…?

We got some amazing new pieces — an industrial coffee table, a dark leather bench, a 7-foot long kitchen table with benches. And E and I spent the rest of the day cleaning the apartment. I swept and swiffered, like the type-A nut that I am. And E unloaded the rest of our boxes and moved furniture. By the time 4 p.m. rolled around, I was slightly delirious from cleaning fumes, and the sun was trickling in golden light across all of our new furniture.

It was the first time since moving in that there wasn’t a moving box in sight. We could take our shoes off and walk around barefoot without worrying about all the dust blackening our feet. The empty bookshelves were filled, and everything seemed to have a place. It hit me when I was standing in the living room with E: We were making a home for ourselves. I was sharing a space with someone, and actually creating something with them.

It felt really good. Not just because we were standing in a room that, for the first time, actually looked like a place I wanted to live in, but because I felt grown-up. And I was excited to have that feeling of confidence and security in myself and who I was with. I’ve always said that I’m excited to turn 30, because my 20s, like everyone’s 20s, have been interesting, to say the least. But yesterday was the first time that I really felt totally satisfied and strong in my own skin. FINALLY.

Even as I type this, I feel a little ridiculous. I’m a 28-year-old grown-ass woman. Of course I’ve been a grown-up for a long time now. But I’ve never been at a point in my life quite like this, and it feels really good.

Did I just write an “It Gets Better” message? I don’t know, but just for good measure… If you have yet to experience this feeling, just know that IT GETS BETTER.