Monday, July 25, 2011

Evil Tomatoes

Seriously, we have a lot of tomatoes. I was trying to think what to do with all of these tomatoes that are taking over my back yard. Frank was also having a bad day so I thought I'd be a nice wifey and make a comfort food dinner. We're trying to get back on the wagon diet-wise, and even though a large supreme pizza from pizza hut would be comforting, it's not part of the diet (and anyway, that's what we had for dinner last night . . . seriously). 

I decided on homemade tomato soup with grown up grilled cheese sandwiches. Okay, so maybe two slices of buttered carbs with cheese in the middle isn't exactly going to help my pooch, but baby steps. 

I found this recipe from Ina Garten for the soup but really changed it up, so I'll just explain it here. 

Around 4 lbs of tomatoes
3 cups of chicken stock
1 large onion
4 cloves of garlic
3 tbs olive oil
1 cup of plain greek yogurt
fresh basil
salt and pepper
1 tbs sugar

1. First, prep the tomatoes. Here's the easy way to peel: remove the stems, score the bottom of the tomato with an X, drop the tomatoes in boiling water for a few seconds and then transfer them to a bowl of ice water. This makes them super easy to peel. Get out as much as the "goop" and seeds as possible and chop them up finely. Dice the onion and mince the garlic.

2. Heat olive oil in a big pot. Add onions and garlic and let them cook and get soft for ten minutes.

3. Add chicken stock, sugar, and tomatoes. Bring everything to a boil.

4. Once it has boiled, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 40 minutes.

5. Remove soup pot from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes (I didn't actually do this because I have no patience). 

6. This part is annoying but essential. Ladle the soup into a blender and blend the crap out of it until it's nice and smooth. Only fill the blender halfway or there will be a boiling hot red soup explosion. It took me 2 blender-fulls to do all the soup. Transfer the soup back into a pot. (I used a new pot, to help the soup cool faster.

7. Once the soup has cooled off a bit (mine was good to go from the combination of blending and putting it in a new pot) stir in a cup of plain greek yogurt. Also stir in as much finely chopped basil as you want. Taste it and add salt and pepper accordingly. Heat it again when you're ready to eat. 

When I cook, I generally try to replace bad things with good things. The original recipe called for heavy cream but that wasn't happening, so I added the yogurt instead. You could probably also try 2% milk or something. Just make sure your soup is a little cooled off, so that your creamy whatever doesn't curdle. I'm sure it would have tasted extra delicious with the cream, but these are the sacrifices we have to make, people. 

I also didn't use the carrots because this is tomato soup. Get your own soup, carrots.

The grilled cheese is pretty self explanatory: good fontina cheese, bakery sourdough bread, margarine instead of butter (point!). If you can't make a good grilled cheese sandwich, you should probably reassess your life.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Family Beach Vacation 2011

I can't believe that it's almost the end of July. This summer is going by way too fast! I know it's because we have been going non-stop, we have had so many little trips that I have literally been living out of my suitcase when I'm home. So far this summer we've been to Italy, Philadelphia, Stone Harbor NJ, Ocean City MD, and Dewey Beach DE. We still have a trip to Chicago the weekend after next and then possibly a trip to Galveston, TX in the fall. I love to travel, but I'm really happy to just be home right now.

We just got home this afternoon from Dewey Beach. We started going there last year with Frank's sister and her family. This year, my mother-in-law and brother-in-law also came, so we got a bigger condo. It was right on the beach and the perfect size for all of us. Wake up, lounge around, go to the beach, shower, nap, dinner, lounge, bed, repeat. I love it. It reminds me of my childhood family vacations in the Carolinas, Florida, and Georgia. I never get bored of it. Unfortunately, due to work and Frank's MBA classes, we couldn't stay the whole week. I did get him to skip class one night so that we could extend it one day. 

Some people might dread spending almost a week living with their MIL, but I'm pretty lucky in the in-laws department. I can't complain. Although she did drive me a little crazy, because she can't waste anything. I threw the end piece of a loaf of bread out in the garbage and she dug it out. I also got a death stare when i didn't drink the milk at the bottom of my bowl of cereal. 

We had a little photo shoot on the beach the last night that Frank and I were there. This was when the crazy east coast heat wave had really started to settle in, so it was SUPER hazy out. I kind of like how it made the pictures look, even though some of them are a little overexposed looking. 

Top row: Frank's brother with our niece and nephew, Frank's mom with them
2nd and 3rd Row: sister in law and her family, Izzy-my god daughter
Las Row: Us with Zach and Iz

These last pictures are straight off the iPhone

I have some more pictures I want to post, including photos from some of our previous trips that I didn't blog about yet, but they're currently being held captive on my point and shoot camera and the card reader won't work. Grr. So hopefully I can figure out how to access those soon.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I rarely if ever get political on here. I think that opens the door to a lot of negativity, and really, my blog is mostly about pretty pictures and remembering what I do on a daily basis. But something that REALLY strikes a nerve with me is gay rights. And if you think that gay people make the choice to be gay, if you think they shouldn't be married, if you think they should hide their orientation in the military, you're just plain wrong. It's not my opinion, it's what I know to be factual. I am not a very "black and white" person, you can easily change my opinion by providing me with facts and a good argument. I'm really not stubborn about my beliefs, I'm open to changing my mind. I respect almost every world religion, I'm pretty neutral when it comes to politics, I'm not extreme about much. But if you try to tell me your opinion on why gay people shouldn't have certain rights, I will not listen to you because you are fundamentally wrong. 

I vote, but that's about the extent of my political activity. I don't get into political debates and arguments because 1) I don't like conflict and 2) I don't follow politics enough to argue without making myself look stupid. It confuses me and I'd rather spend my time on Pinterest and I probably shouldn't say that out loud, ha. But I DO feel strongly about some things, and that's basic human rights. The right to love who you want to and practice your religion freely and without persecution. I think anyone who hates an entire religious group or any "group" of people for that matter, are sadly ignorant. 

I would love to see a woman president in my lifetime. But I think that the specific women who are in the running are setting us back light years. It scares the shit out of me that Sarah Palin made it as far as she did. It actually shocks me that she made it as far as high school graduation. And now Michele Bachmann? I don't care if you can single handedly fix the economy and debt with the snap of your fingers, if you are violating a person's basic rights, I won't even hold a door for you. I keep thinking that John Quinones is going to pop up and tell us all that we're on an episode of "What would you do", and that this isn't real life. 

I'm a supporter of the Human Rights Campaign and I'm on their email chain so I get news from them. Today I got a petition asking GOP Candidates to reject Bachman's support of reparative therapy. Here's a quote:
Michele Bachmann and her husband, Marcus, hold some of the most extreme and disturbing anti-LGBT views of any presidential candidate and spouse. Marcus Bachmann once said gay people were "barbarians" who "needed to be disciplined." But the Bachmanns' homophobia goes well beyond words alone: They've both publicly supported the dangerous theory of "ex-gay," which says homosexuality can be cured or even prayed away.
I'm not naive and I know that this is coming from a biased group who does everything to politically support gay rights. But it's all over the news. Her husband practices "psychological therapy" without a license (in Minnesota, one of the few states that allows this), a faith-based therapy which is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. It's basically the "pray away the gay" stuff you hear about. And Michele is totally on board with all this. This is very dangerous, because if we have influential political leaders supporting this stuff, it could influence the rules of the APA and how people receive therapy.

I'm not gay and I don't have any family or close friends who are gay (I did in high school, my best friend came out to me. When she came out she was sobbing because she wished she could be straight but couldn't be. She knew how much difficult it was going to make her life). I just happen to believe in human rights and living your life they way you want to, as long as it's not hurting anyone else. I am able to imagine what if, what if I were gay? What if I had a child who was gay? What if my best friend came out as gay? Some people cannot see the world from anyone's perspective but their own.

Anyway, this post isn't meant to start a debate, it's just to get my thoughts out. Negative comments won't be published, because this just isn't the place. If you're interested in signing that petition I was talking about, it's here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Let's get to the important issues first.

Today I witnessed the most amazingly hilarious yet heartbreaking thing ever. Two men were downtown, having what looked like some kind of heated discussion. Then all of a sudden, one of the men (portly, gruff, muttonchops) tripped and fell, kind of in a seated position. . . on an orange construction cone. This man just went down, WHAM, and next thing you know, he has a construction cone wedged up his butt. You know when someone goes to sit down and you yank the chair out from under them? It was kind of like that, but instead of hitting a smooth albeit hard surface (the ground) he his a sharply pointed neon surface. And then! Rather than laughing at the hilarity of the situation, he got all flustered and tried to act like he didn't just get violated by a construction cone. 

It was Frank and I in the car downtown, in an alleyway, so we had the luxury of being able to slow the car down and take it all in. I was in the passenger seat snorting and crying tears of laughter, when for some reason Frank PULLED OVER, rolled the window down and GAWKED at the poor man. Between my snorts I asked him "what the hell are you doing?!" and he said he was making sure the guy was all right. Which would have been fine if he had asked, "are you all right?!" instead of just stopping and staring at the guy. I hope the guy's dignity and internal organs will heal.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

First of all, seriously?

I joined Google+ the other day and was setting up my profile, when I realized that Google automatically uploaded every picture from my Google account, including Blogger, including images of my blog header, etc.

Guys, the only person that knows about my blog is Frank and I'm deathly afraid of my nerdiness being revealed and other real people finding out about it! So I frantically deleted the pictures that Google+ uploaded, not realizing that I was actually permanently deleting all these photos, photos that are on my blog. So poof, they are gone. I finally resurrected my banner and sidebar picture, but the rest are gone, and I don't feel like dealing with it now. It looks like all the pics that I actually uploaded to blogger (most are mobile uploads) are the ones that are gone. The ones that are linked in Flickr are ok (note to self, always link from Flickr). I will fix it eventually, but not right now.

Anyway, if you're on there, click on the button below and find me! 

I really hope Google+ catches on (looks like it already is) because I think it solves the main all-encompassing problem of Facebook: sharing the wrong thing with the wrong people. On Google+ you have circles, so if I don't want to only share something with my friends, and not my family, I can do that. It totally eliminates the fear of sharing your drunk party pictures with grandma (or risking offending grandma by not adding her as a friend at all), a problem I have faced all too often.

Sorry, the social media nerd in me is way too excited about this.

(If you need an invite, just leave your email address, I think invites are still working!)

Oh, something else funny. A while ago I was at Mad Mex with some of my friends. My guy friend was about to order a margarita and simultaneously talking about how he wanted to lose weight. So I said, "You know that Mad Mex Margaritas have like 900 calories in them." He didn't believe me so he googled it and the first search result was my blog (my private super secret blog!), because apparently I talk about the calories in margaritas a lot, enough to put this blog at the top of google search results. And then? The awful. HE CLICKED ON MY BLOG LINK AND READ THE POST. He was sitting there in the bar, reading what I wrote out loud to our friends. I think I choked on my Miller Lite and started sweating profusely. I frantically nudged Frank and he said, "That just sounds like some blog, not the nutritional info from the actual website, it's probably not right." That was enough to make him get off my blog and look at new sites. Can you imagine if he had scrolled to the top and there's my f-ing picture? I almost died.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Baby Imma be your motivation

I am feeling completely unmotivated lately. Like throw in the towel, curl up in a ball, and watch DVR'd Anne of Green Gables all day unmotivated.

Anne wouldn't say, "Screw it, I'm just going to get fat, miss my deadlines, and take a nap."

I know what it is too, I'm completely stressed out. And while stress will make some people brew an extra strong pot of coffee and dive right in to their to-do list, it makes me totally shut down. And I mean shut down in the most literal sense, and usually it involves a good long nap. I sort of go into hibernation mode when I'm stressed out. If you're sleeping, you can't think about the blog posts that need written, the Tweets that need scheduled, the five 1000 word articles that need written, the people that need interviewed and those who will not answer your emails. (For the love of God, it takes five seconds to reply to an email people!)

So even though I'm writing this blog post as a way to procrastinate doing my real work, at least it's somewhat more productive than sleeping (wait . . . I just woke up from a nap). I'm hoping that I can give myself the kick in the butt that I need to get all my work done before I leave for the beach on Saturday. 

Whenever I get overwhelmed by everything that needs done, I write a to-do list. Most to-do list experts know that the correct way to tackle said list is to pick the most undesirable task first and do it first to get it out of the way. Usually, I choose the backward approach of getting all the easy stuff done so that it looks like I actually finished more stuff on the list. . . 

Today, I REALLY need to take my list seriously, so I need to publish it here. And for supreme accountability, I will follow this up with a post documenting all the things I got done. Here goes:

1. Do my regular daily work for my social media accounts
2. Call the guy that I've been avoiding calling for an interview (I hate phone calls!)
3. Finish magazine article that is due on Friday
4. Write one of the 450 wd articles that is due on Friday
5. Accounting
7. Actually write the blog post that follows this up
8. Pick up the house

And to help me get started, here's some Kelly Rowland and Weezie

Monday, July 11, 2011

This is not part of the diet

So you know I've been on sort of a permanent diet for the past 7 (!) months. Actually I've been kind of falling off the wagon lately (ah hem, half a large pizza and DQ ice cream from last night, I'm looking at you . . .) but I WILL get back on soon. We've just been traveling so much lately (hence the lack of blog updates) that it's been hard to get back into the healthy living mindset. Especially when you go somewhere like Ocean City, MD, where every restaurant is either an all-you-can-eat buffet or a place that specializes in deep friend butter. I know, excuses, excuses.

When I get cravings, they are most often for sweets, which can be really dangerous for me. However, I have discovered that if I make/cook/bake the thing myself, just the process of making it will get rid of most of the craving, and I don't end up eating very much of it. So, yeah.

This weekend, my friend was having a bunch of us over for a cookout celebrating the fact that she just got a great job with one of Pittsburgh's pro sports teams. She is also a lover of all things sugary, so I decided to go all out and make something ridiculous to eat for the cookout.

Enter cake pops! Pittsburgh black and yellow cake pops!

I know I'm the last person to jump on the cake pop train, but I'm slow at this stuff. By the time I catch onto trends, it's usually best to just skip it and wait for the next one. The fact that Target now makes knock off Toms makes me think that its too late in the game for me to start wearing them and still be considered trendy. Moving on . . .

Anyway, I found some great tutorials all over the internet but obviously the best is the cake pop inventor herself, Bakerella. So here's my rendition.

(A) Cake mix (plus all the ingredients to make it)
      Can of frosting
      2 bags of meltable candy or chocolate
      Lollipop sticks
      (these last four can be found at craft stores, I got  mine at Michaels)

1. Bake your cake according to the instructions, it doesn't matter what kind of pan you use.
2. When the cake is done, scoop it out of the pan and into a bowl. Stir it and mash it up like crazy until it's completely broken up (B).
3. Stir in an entire can of frosting. Mix it thoroughly, creating a chocolatey cakey delicious dough.
4. Chill the dough.
5. When the dough is chilled, roll it into approximately one inch balls, like if you were making cookies (C). Let those chill in the refrigerator for a while.
6. Melt your candy/chocolate. I recommend using something more narrow than a bowl, so that you can still cover the cake pop as your candy supply dwindles. A mug worked perfectly for me.
7. When your balls are chilled (side-eye . . .) take a few out. Dip a lollipop stick in the melted candy, about a half inch, and then stick it into the ball, making sure not to go more than halfway, or you'll risk the ball sliding down the stick (E).
8. Dunk the ball into the melted candy and wiggle it from side to side to coat it (F). Then pull it straight out, turn it on its side and tap it a bit to get off the excess. This is confusing, check out the video below BEFORE you try this because I messed up quite a few before I decided to Google what I was doing wrong (D).
9. Add some sprinkles, and then stick the lollipop into the styrofoam so the cake pop can dry standing up.
10. Take a ridiculous amount of pictures of them.

Watch this video before you try it, Bakerella knows her ish.

These are amazingly good and super rich, which stops you from eating like seven of them. I had some extras which i brought over to Frank's family's dinner and here is what 5 year old Zachary had to say:
"Aunt Em, this is the best lollipop I have ever eated in my entire life. You are really nice and I like you a lot." 
And that's a direct quote. His whole life may only be five years, but he has done some damage in the lollipop department in that time.

They were also a hit at the cookout, where they got all warm and gooey in the sun. My friends, who are connoisseurs  likened them to Little Debbie Zebra Cakes.

Have you ever made cake pops? Do you do what i do and bake things to avoid eating them?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Eye Candy

Are you on Pinterest? Because I am completely obsessed right now! My username is EmilyBKing if you want to find me on there.
Follow Me on Pinterest
Here's some of my current favorites:

Library Living Room from

Aqua vintage typewriter from

Dresser turned kitchen island from

Perfect nap spot from
Embroidery hoop memo boards from

I've been lusting after these special edition penguin classics for a LONG time 

Flea market mix and match plates on display

I'm definitely trying this! From

Yes please! These are even cheaper than the one i have from Target