Sunday, October 19, 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


I'm battling a bit of a cold right now, complete with nose bleeds. Yuck. Been at home today, doped up in cold meds, trying to recouperate. So no writing today. :-(

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

31 Day Writing Challenge: Day 14--A Cookbook/Recipe Contributing Fool

Don't let me mislead you. I am not writing a cookbook. However, our library is putting together a cookbook to sell in support of our "Friends of the Library" program and the editor is currently taking submissions. It's a little embarrassing how many recipes I've sent her. I want to send them all! It is, after all, the closest I'll ever come to actually publishing a cookbook--or anything, really!

I think it's going to be a neat cookbook, though. Unlike a lot of the "contributed by" fundraiser type cookbooks I've seen--You know the ones put out by churches or other organizations--our editor has insisted that we include notes about our experiences with the recipes we contribute. And she has also insisted that whatever we contribute be something we've actually cooked as opposed to simply copying recipes we think are interesting but haven't ever made for ourselves. I'm excited about being a part of it. For once, I get to share my cooking experiences in a medium that might actually care!

That being said, I know I'm no expert. There are still cooking techniques I've never tried and I fail more often than I succeed when it comes to creating my own recipes. I'm no food blogger. But I do enjoy cooking things that I think will be delicious because, you know, I like to eat.

Here's what I've been making lately:

I made the filling from Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Pie and it was delicious and not all that complicated. I shared it with the folks and they seemed to enjoy it, too.

Then, of course there were the paw print sugar cookies. That recipe really does make the best rolled out and cut sugar cookies.

Then there were the jalapeno poppers I made and ate for supper Saturday night. Like these, but brushed with BBQ sauce prior to baking.

And then there was last night. *swoon*

On the way home from work as we outran the giant thunderstorm that moved through the area last night, I dreamed up the following concoction based on my desire for cream cheese, the mushrooms I needed to use ASAP and the fact that for once I had some yummy Italian sausage in my fridge.

Cream Cheese Sausage Mushroom Casserole

1 8oz block cream cheese, softened
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream (I used fat free)
8 oz. shredded Mozzarella, divided (I used part skim)
4 sweet Italian Turkey sausage links, removed from casings
1 carton white button mushrooms, sliced.

Preheat oven to 400*

Crumble and cook sausage in medium skillet until just starting to brown before adding mushrooms. Cook until sausage is cooked through and mushrooms are lightly browned.

Soften cream cheese in the microwave for just a couple of seconds until it is creamy enough to stir with a spoon but not melted. Mix mayonnaise, sour cream and half the mozzarella with cream cheese. Once sausage and mushrooms are done, stir into cheese mixture. Pour into an oven safe casserole dish and cover the top with remaining mozzarella and bake for 15-20 minutes, switching to broil for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese topping is brown and bubbly. Allow to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Jana’s Notes:

This recipe is actually based on a recipe for baked spinach dip that my sister uses.  I just used sausage and mushrooms instead of frozen creamed spinach. For a lighter/healthier version, you could use fat free cream cheese and light mayo and reduce the amount of mozzarella cheese mixed in. You could also add whatever spices you like to flavor this up to taste. I liked it with just the sausage for flavor. You could also add whatever other veggies you wanted—bell pepper, jalapeno, spinach, artichokes, or onions for example. And of course, if you’re not into turkey sausage, you could use sweet pork Italian sausage or even go spicy. Breakfast sausage would also be good. Let your palate (and your fridge/pantry) be your guide here.

For submission purposes I doubled the recipe from what I actually made last night but let me tell time? I will be making a giant full on version of this because oh my cheesy sausage goodness was this stuff scrumptious. And I'm not even bragging on myself because, hello, how difficult is it to mess up sausage and cream cheese? But this stuff was soooooo good that I ate a little more than half of the small casserole dish's worth for supper and then when I went to pack up the rest of it I stood there and ate a good half of what was left. Tiny portion for me at lunch today. Sad.

I wish every day was filled with cream cheese inspired goodness. Just think how scrumptious life would be.

In totally somewhat unrelated news, I was just informed via email that I have THREE new cookbooks shipping from Amazon. Jessica Merchant's Seriously Delish (How Sweet It Is), Joy the Baker's Homemade Decadence, and Martina McBride's Around Table. I am a cookbook buying (and contributing) fool. And I can't WAIT to drool over these things. ;-)

Monday, October 13, 2014

31 Day Writing Challenge: Day 13--Part Two of A Short Story

Lunch with George Montgomery, Aria mused as she returned her purse to her desk drawer. They had gone to a small little hole in the wall bar-b-que place--not at all what she had ever pictured in association with Mr. Sexiest Former Governor Alive in any context. Appearance proved to be deceiving, indeed.

Not that I'm disappointed, she smiled at the memory of his toned forearms. He had literally rolled up his shirt sleeves and dug into his large pull pork sandwich--extra sauce, extra coleslaw--with as much enthusiasm and vigor as any of the blue collar men who took up the booths around them. The sight of him giving serious attention to his messy, drippy sandwich relieved some of the mortification of having dribbled sauce down the front of her blouse.

"It's all in the elbow placement," he'd coached her, his eyes sparkling with a touch of amusement when he had noticed her dabbing her blouse in dismay. And she couldn't argue with his direction, seeing as how his shirt had come away pristine.

As it turns out, George--as he'd directed her to call him--was as down to earth and kind as he was deliciously hot. A fact that inevitably made the widower even hotter.

"I'm glad Mr. Montgomery was so understanding about your having lost his contract."

Blech. The troll.

Shoving her tasty memories of the delicious George to the back of her brain to enjoy later, Aria clicked her computer screen back to life and nodded.

"He's very kind," was all she offered in response, her eyes still on her computer screen as she called up her email. She feared that if she spoke further she'd say more than what was acceptable and still manage to keep her job.

"I, however, expect it on my desk before you leave today. It is unacceptable and embarrassing to have a donor realize that we are so careless that we can't even manage to keep up with a simple contract.

Aria gritted her teeth and mentally shoved the troll into a wood chipper. Or would a wood chipper be too kind a death for him?

"Ms. Jamison," his voice raised, he grabbed her shoulder and swiveled her chair around to face him.

"Excuse me? Did you really just touch me?"

Anger skittered dangerously down her spine and her belly flopped. Gosh, she hated, loathed and despised confrontation but she feared this was it. The end of her straw had been reached and someone--HIM--was about to catch her in all her Irish Temper glory.

"I do not appreciate being ignored, Ms. Jamison. Don't think I haven't noticed your apathy towards me since I've been here. I have to wonder if perhaps you didn't deliberately lose Mr. Montgomery's contract in an effort to embarrass me."

Shoving to her feet, Aria felt her body compel itself toward him, her face mere inches from his, every ounce of restraint and hesitation sliding from her like water off a duck's back.

"First of all, Mr. Dually, you do a pretty damn good job of embarrassing yourself and thus need no help whatsoever from me. Second of all, if you've felt any apathy from me at all it's because you are a two-bit, micromanaging, condescending troll who has done nothing but nitpick and make me and the rest of our team miserable since you stepped through the door. And as much as I'd like--No, love--to see you tossed out on your ear for your incompetency, I am a professional who loves this library and has given the last thirteen years of  my life to seeing our library program succeed and flourish and therefor would slit my own wrists before doing something that might jeopardize our standing with our donors, sponsors or patrons. I will find that contract and when I do it will be the last thing I ever do for you because you can consider this my two week's notice."

She didn't know if it was the fact that he could likely smell the spicy bar-be-que sauce on her breath or the fact that she'd never once raised her voice or batted an eye, but his face paled and he staggered backward a few steps. Probably the breath thing because he wasn't smart enough to realize the danger in her even tone. Had to be the breath or he wouldn't be opening his mouth right now.

"I'd warn you to not bother responding," she told him cooly, "But seeing as how you are quite possibly the stupidest man I've ever met I doubt you'd heed my warning."

"Ms. Jamison--" He barked, his face practically dripping with outrage and condescension. A string of ignorance no doubt forming on his lips.

"That's what I thought," she muttered under her breath and pretended to lung at him. He jumped back so quickly that the back of his head smacked loudly against the door jamb.

"Mr. Dually," his assistant, Mary called softly, her lips twitching. She'd no doubt heard Aria's speech and the answering thwack of her boss's head. "Are you alright?"

He rubbed the back of his head, his eyes narrowed on Aria as he nodded.

"Thick skull and all," Aria snickered and crossed her arms over her chest. He would not be seeing her docile professional side again. She was done with a capital D-U-N.

Mary coughed around her laugh before extending a folder towards the still glowering little troll. "I, um, found the contract you were looking for?" she explained tentatively, her statement sounding more like a question. "It was, um, filed in your completed contracts drawer?"

Before Dually could take the file from Mary, Aria snatched it from the poor girl's fingers and flipped it open. Her vision blurred and her heart pounded wildly in her chest as she registered the name and contents of the contract.

I'm going to have a stroke right here in this tiny office with that son of a bitch watching and I'll never get to see him fall into a vat of lye and boil.

As her vision cleared and she lifted her head in his general direction, she noted that his face was stained in crimson and for a moment she thought perhaps she really had killed him. But no, it was his shame covering his face.

"You slimy son of biscuit eating toad. You want to talk about setting someone up to fail? How long would it have taken you to find this file after you fired me or I quit?"

He threw his hands up defensively, his back once more against the wall. "Now, Ms. Jamison," he placated. "Clearly this was a simple misunderstanding."

"Oh clearly," her voice dripped in sarcasm. "So the contract just walked itself from my desk and put itself away in a drawer in your office." She mimed slapping herself on the forehead.  "How silly of me to think that you'd have actually had the nerve to do it yourself." Slapping the file onto her desk loud enough that Mary and Dually both jumped, Aria advanced toward him again. "You seem to keep forgetting one vital detail, Mr. Dually. I'm not the idiot in this scenario."

He pulled himself up into his full five foot three inches. She would have given him points for bravery if he hadn't just won the idiot of the year award.

"When you are calm enough to see reason, please come see me in my office," he snapped before fleeing down the hall, his office door slamming behind him.

With him no longer standing in front of her to hurl her anger and insults at, her knees buckled and she would have hit the floor if Dorinda and Mary hadn't rushed to shove her chair close enough to catch her. Every part of her seemed to suddenly be shivering and her lungs were trying to hold her breath hostage.

Damn. The aftershocks of Irish temper were a bitch.

"You do know you have valid cause to report him to the board and have him removed as director, right?" Dorinda, having witnessed the temper more than once, handed her a glass of icy water. Aria gulped it down as Dorinda continued, "Mary and I will both back you up."

"Of course we will?" Mary added, her face a bit pale. She was still farely new and hadn't ever witnessed the temper and it's aftershocks before.

"I want  his blood," Aria growled moments before irrational laughter bubbled up her chest and out of her mouth.

To Be Continued 

31 Day Writing Challenge: Days 11 and 12--Weekend News and Events

Who could have ever predicted that someday I'd give two figs about football? It's a totally foreign concept to me and I'm not sure if I like this side of myself. Me and Sports have never been a happy couple. We don't canoodle in dark rooms and share intimate secrets with each other. We don't go out and play together. Heck, we don't even really speak each other's language!

The closest relationship I've EVER had with ANY sport, sport teams or whatever was in the early 90's when the guy I was crushing on played baseball on our high school team. I went to EVERY STINKING GAME, huddled under a blanket in the cold, cheered obnoxiously (to the point that said crush stopped speaking to me for a while) and pretty much lost all my brain cells. The crush also got me into the Atlanta Braves and I watched them religiously for a few years. Unfortunately, I was just as obnoxious with cheering for them as I was with cheering for my crush. FORTUNATELY, it was just me and Sis2 in our parent's bedroom watching their television and she and I were equally obnoxious so nobody got mad at me about that.


But yeah. I'm not a sportsy person. I don't understand football enough to even really know when to cheer! And yet...AND YET...twice this season I found myself parked in front of my television watching the Dawgs roll around like puppies and whoop a couple of tigers. (LSU and Auburn, respectively.) I smack talked on Facebook! I #hailstate-ed all over the place and whooped and hollered along with the rest of the crazed football fans in front of the ESPN College Game Day bus Friday afternoon.  I have not yet clanged my cowbell in excitement but that's more about having a dog who is spooked by loud noises.

I baked cookies in the shape of paw prints!

 I even bought a scarf for the Devil Pup to show her State Pride!

I don't know what's wrong with me! It's like I don't even know myself anymore!

So yeah. Mississippi is alllllllll up in some football right now. Even those of us who normally couldn't care less. And...WE'RE NUMBER ONE IN THE NATION!!!

Whew! Glad I got that out there. It was eating me up inside.


So besides forgetting who I am, I also spent some time Saturday with Sis1. Her Premiere Jewelry party went well. I was somewhat fairly miserable because, you know, social interaction an all that. But at least I did know many of the people there. And she made a ton of sales, so there's that. But she didn't stick around for any sort of "sister time." She got to my  house just in time to go set up for the party and then dropped me off when it was over. *shrugs* Probably won't see her again until Christmas, if then. (She and BIL are debating spending Thanksgiving AND Christmas with his mom.)

By the time I got home, I had a killer headache. Party hostess was burning three different candles in her house throughout the party and they KILLED my  head. I'm sensitive to fragrances on a good day. Prolonged exposure does not a fun time make. So I ditched the idea of laundry and dishes in favor of vegging on the couch with the last two episodes of last season's Vampire Diaries on DVD. Damon, if you're listening...I love you. Can we make out? Call me.

Speaking of making out...I'm thinking I should probably just marry my iPhone. I stayed on it in between naps Sunday. Social Media exploded with all the hype over our boys being no. 1 in the nation and I had lots of bragging and liking of various FB meme's to do. I'm ashamed to admit that I'm related to a fan of the "school up north" and I had to rub it in just a tad. I'm mean like that.

But heck, I'm not as vicious as the fans of the school up north. The like call us "toothless, cow herding, idiots"...and that's just one of the kinder descriptions I've read. Oh, but the best was the bitter Auburn fan who called us out as "fat, stupid, toothless, bigots who don't deserve to live, much less play football."  Or something to that effect. Every other comment on that thread was her spewing that same kind of hate. I think they finally blocked her. I mean, there's smack talk in all rivalries but there's a difference between rooting for and supporting your team and spewing hate.

I also got caught up on the first episode of American Horror Story: Freak Show. I'm not sure how long I can hang with AHS this time because, well, I spent most of the episode with my eyes (and sometimes ears!) closed. It's deteriorated the level of horror that you find in movies like Texas Chainsaw and that ilk. Not scary so much as just plain gross. I can do scary but gross? Soooooooo not my thing. Plus, clowns. *runs screaming*

I will try to stick with it because I generally love the twisted storylines of AHS. Just wish they weren't so gross.

And of course last night was Once Upon a Time time. I'm loving the participation of Elsa and the gang (but where's Olaf?) and how they are fitting into and with the central story line and regular characters on the show. Of course, I'm pretty sure I saw more commercial than actual programming. Is it just me or does it feel like we're watching commercials with three minute programming spots instead of programming with three minute commercial spots?

Anyhoo, that's all the coverage I got of the weekend.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

We're Number One!!!

Exciting times to be a Mississippian. Our poor neighbors to the east find it a hard pill to swollow. Ha! 

And it's sooooo weird that I give a crap about football. lol

Friday, October 10, 2014

31 Days Writing Challenge: Day 10--Friday Musings aka Jana's Nonsense

I haven't been sleeping all that well lately. It's amazing how easily work invades my dreams, waking me enough to keep me from finding any true blissful rest. It's also amazing how I always manage to finally doze back off right as the alarm goes off.

P.S. I hate alarms.

I awoke from a dead sleep the other night with the panicky realization that I had forgotten to enter something on the payment ledger, of all things. Because forgetting to enter an entire dollar on the payment ledger is a big enough deal to cause me to lose sleep. Apparently.

I just can't seem to ever fully shut it all off. I don't think about it too much when I get home. I cook supper, watch TV, play on the phone, scratch Libby's belly and work is as far from my mind as it could be. Until 2am hits. And then my brain is all, "WAKEUPWENEEDTOGOOVERALLTHECRAPFROMTHDAYWHYAREYOUSLEEPING!!"

And I proceed to toss and turn and flip and flop and sometimes cry a little because all I really want to do is sleep an entire eight hours. Occassionally I'll read a book or look up junk on the phone. I've even turned the TV on a few times. Anything to distract my brain long enough for me to get sleepy again. Nothing works. Until it's almost time to get up. THEN my brain is like, "Screw you. I'm tired," before dozing off.

I kinda hate my brain for doing that to me. It's not nice to torture me with sleep deprivation like that. Especially since it can't remember to put a frackin' dollar on the payment ledger during the daylight hours when such a memory might actually be useful.


In other news, Sis1 is coming tomorrow for a brief visit. Well. Not so much a visit, actually. She's a Premiere Jewelry consultant and she's conducting a party at one of Mama's friend's house. She's decided she needs an assistant and that assistant should be me since Mama will be out of town tomorrow and Emmy has a volleyball game. Super fun. Like a pencil to the eyeball.


I'm still not over the whole Young House Love quitting thing. I'm past the sadness and on to anger. I wanted to tweet about it last night but it seemed silly. It's still silly but since this blog is for belongs to me, I will do what I want.  (Yes. That was intentional weird grammar usage. Getoverit.)


I invested so much of my time in reading their blog which lead to them being able to quit their jobs and make a living from writing and they just decide on a whim, "We don't want to do this anymore." What the crap? And I will NOT be buying their book that's due out next October. Why should I when they obviously don't want to be friends anymore? I feel so used.

The stages of grief, people. It is real and it applies to imaginary relationships with bloggers who break up with you.



Other than the whole jewelry party debacle, I plan on working on a painting project. Mama bought herself and Alyssa desks from a thrift store. They are both in pitiful paint shape so guess who got elected to fix 'em up? If you guessed yours truly, you guessed correctly. Or maybe I already told you about it? Either way, that's what I'll be up to. If I'm up for it.

I will also be mentally rooting for my DAWGS as they take the field tomorrow afternoon against smelly Auburn. I probably won't watch the actual game because none of it really makes sense to me. I mean, I understand some football...but not enough to sit through an entire game. Plus, if Auburn puts a whoopin' on us, I don't really wanna witness that. We are hopeful for a win, though.

And that's me for this Friday edition of Jana's Nonsense. (I should totally change the name of my blog to that, amiright?!)

Thursday, October 09, 2014

31 Days Writing Challenge: Day 9--End of an Era

It's a strange relationship, this internet thing. The connections it allows your brain to make with people you've never actually met or even exchanged so much as a hello is one of the oddest things I think I've ever experienced.

I've just been dumped by my absolute favorite blog, Young House Love.

Or at least that's how it feels. After seven years on the 'net they're calling it quits. The reasons they gave are completely understandable--heart's not in it, want to focus on their family, pursue new things, etc. I don't see how they've managed to keep up with it as long as they have. But still...


They were friends!

I don't know what to do with myself now. I've never been through an actual break-up but man, this is  hard. And isn't that weird?

But in a way, I guess it isn't. I mean, bloggers let us in on their lives. Share their dreams, their experiences, etc. As readers, we get to know them in ways we may not get to know people we see face to face every day. I know from my own experience as a blogger (though I am merely a gnat on the rotten banana of the interwebz) I share way more of my inner self here than I ever do with people I personally interact with. So it's easy to form connections with the bloggers we read. I suppose it's only natural.

Is it melodramatic to say that I am a little bit devastated?

Yes, that's a little overdramatic.

But I am. I'm a little bit devastated. The best way I know to describe it is that it's kinda like your best friend moved away without a forwarding address the same day your favorite television show got cancelled. In the grand scheme of my life I will move on and get over it. And I feel as though it shouldn't feel so bad but it does. Even though I understand and wish them the best, I'm bereft.


Also, I'm secretly jealous. I wish I were brave enough to just walk away from the safety net I'm in and go in search of the next adventure. But I've never been brave. Always played it safe. I like knowing a paycheck comes like clockwork every 15 days. I like being able to pay my bills without fretting that I'll get a paycheck in time. Or get paid enough. I mean, I struggle financially sometimes anyway, even WITH the steady paycheck.

But I do wish I had the courage and the luxury to just walk away and go in search of my bliss. To say, "I'm not happy with this current situation so I'm done with it." If I had their courage (and their apparent savings account) I'd be halfway to somewhere fun by now. I'd open up a little bakery/bookstore in some quaint little town far enough away from my family to have some distance but close enough to visit them often. I'd have a little two room cabin in the woods with no neighbors and no random neighbor's dogs pooping in my yard and aggravating Libby. Sure, I'd probably have other varmints to deal with--deer, opossums, raccoons, etc. but at least they (hopefully) wouldn't come running across the yard to pounce on Libby's head.

Oh, to be brave and moderately wealthy.

Anyway, it's the end of the 'net as I know it. *sobs*