Servery Challenge: North Carolina Edition!

It is with great confusion that I report our strangest servery challenge to date. Everything with edible?? There was no clear winner? Rob’s didn’t shave a few years off my life?? Yes, all true. Usually these cooking competitions feature one entry that is the worst thing you’ve ever had in your mouth, one that seems good by comparison, and the rest just various brands of mediocre. But this time…? Maybe it was that we each got 25 minutes to cook. Maybe it was our new and improved kitchen set up. Maybe it was Brian Reinhart. Maybe the theme, THE SPIRIT OF NORTH CAROLINA, made everyone strive for greatness.

Rob's was definitely the most surprising. In that it tasted good

Rob’s was definitely the most surprising. In that it tasted good

Rob
Time: ~22 minutes
Dish Name: Stick it in Your Mouth
Description: Southern-style biscuits with bacon cooked in pepper jelly with pimento cheese

For someone who grew up in Syracuse, Rob definitely understands North Carolina food. The bacon was the main issue with this one–it was chewy and hard to eat in pieces. But I’ll take it over strawberries mixed with pickle juice any day.

Brian went all out for his first servery challenge

Brian went all out for his first servery challenge

Brian
Time: ~20 minutes
Dish Name: Sheesh-Carolina
Description: Sausage, Shallots, and Cherry Tomatoes on a stick, cooked in Cheerwine

These were actually pretty tasty! I feel like it could have done a little better highlighting the Cheerwine, the main thing that makes this dish North Carolina-related. Brian had never tried it before buying it to make this challenge, so he was trusting in North Carolina to make something great. Of course, his trust was not misplaced.

Awww yeah

Awww yeah

Patricia
Time: ~12 minutes
Dish Name: Shakalacky
Description: A Cackalacky milkshake made with Carolina Creamery vanilla ice cream and Mapleview milk

True to my usual strategy of making something quick and easy, I went for a dish with only three, beautiful, entirely local ingredients. Cackalacky is a sweet potato-based hot sauce made in Chapel Hill, and the key to success was using just enough of it to give the milkshake a little kick.

Also, ridic plating. Very important.

Also, ridic plating. Very important.

You KNOW Steven went overboard. It's pretty much a servery challenge given

You KNOW Steven went overboard. It’s pretty much a servery challenge given

Steven
Time: ~45 minutes
Dish Name: Shrimp N’ Grits
Description: Wild-caught shrimp, North Carolina grits, a roux of mushroom and ham gravy

Steven’s was legitimately what we had for dinner. Dude pretty much ignored the time limit because “I’m hungry.” Shrimp and grits is more of a South Carolina thing?? But these were delicious. But can you really still be considered if you took almost twice as long as everyone else? Time limit was 25 minutes…

Deliciousness v. time, the perennial Steven debate

Deliciousness v. time, the perennial Steven debate

Anyway, in the end we had a four-way tie with each of us getting one vote. So maybe it’s up to you to decide?? Cast your votes now!

5 Reasons I am Now Closer to being an Adult (and 3 reasons I will never be one)

Now that we’ve moved to a nicer place, I feel like I’ve taken some important steps towards becoming a For Real Adult. For instance:

1. Adults own guest beds

No longer do overnight visitors have to sleep on the floor or the couch (unless they want to), because I am now the proud owner of a guest bed:

It may actually be more comfortable than my real bed.

It may actually be more comfortable than my real bed.

2. Adults have sensible bath mats and those fuzzy things for the toilet seat. And they match

Previously I bought bath mats based on considerations like “THAT ONE IS SHAPED LIKE A MONKEY!!!!” But with this apartment, I went with things that actually had a chance of matching each other.

And got one of those fuzzy things too because it seemed like the kind of thing you do when you're 27

And got one of those fuzzy things too because it seemed like the kind of thing you do when you’re 27

3. Adults schedule their next appointment at the end of their last one

I’m mainly thinking of haircuts here. In the past, I would get haircuts whenever I was stressed or my hair started giving me headaches AND I’d scrounged together enough time and money to do so. When the receptionist asked if I would like to make my next appointment, I would go “Pfffff I don’t know what I’m doing next week, let alone in two months.” NOT ANYMORE!

GOTTA LOOK SO GOOD

GOTTA LOOK SO GOOD

4. Adults are friendly to their neighbors

Instead of just making up stories about the people I see in the parking lot and passive aggressively hating Loud Music Guy, I’ve actually taken time to be friendly to my neighbors! This involves a decorated front door:

Ta Da!

Ta Da!

And giving them Christmas cookies!! And I got some in return!!! Yay friendship! Well, friendly acquaintanceship. I’m only 27, I’ll take it.

5. Adults own full-size ironing boards

Chilling here with his little brother

Chilling here with his little brother

Some adult things I will probably never do

Alas, I’m not a For Real Adult yet, and if these are actual requirements, I may never be:

1. Adults use one set of bed linens at a time. Because otherwise it looks crazy

I'm not apologizing for being comfortable

I’m not apologizing for being comfortable

True, it LOOKS crazy, but it’s way more comfortable, sleeping-wise. Why share blankets with someone you don’t have to? Marriage should be about leveling up, not never sleeping comfortably again.

2. Adults sort their laundry

TV and movies have taught me that adults sort things into “whites” and “darks” and “colors” and maybe some other arcane categories??? It didn’t really make sense to do this in college, when I never had more than one load of laundry anyway, and none of my clothes suffered any ill-effects. So I’ve never done it, and you can’t convince me it makes a difference at all.

3. Adults can talk on the phone without being weird about it

UGH WHY CAN’T YOU JUST TEXT ME LIKE A NORMAL PERSON WHAT

phonehate

And leaving a voicemail, forget about it

2015 Goals

In what has become a yearly tradition, it’s time to list my goals for 2015! I mainly write blog posts about them to hold myself accountable. It’s way more motivation to accomplish things when you know you’ll have to explain yourself to the internet if you don’t. This year I have seven goals again, which seems a little audacious considering how well last year’s six goals went. But 2015 is going to be awesome and I can do this! But I might need your help (see below).

1. Read 1 book each month I think I’ll disagree with

I thought of this goal when I decided to check out Rush Limbaugh’s ridiculous time-traveling children’s book to laugh at one weekend. The thought occurred to me while driving home from work that what if it was good??? This seemed kind of unlikely, but there was always a chance that dude managed to restrain his intense grossness for the children. And he kind of did? In that this book was just massively boring instead of actively trying to kill me with its terribleness. Anyway, I determined to become more informed about things I think I disagree with, and at least give other people the chance I would hope they’d grant me. Plus, if they don’t manage to change my mind, at least I’ll be more informed about the things I dislike.

Like that time I read all the Twilight books

Like that time I read all the Twilight books

2. Finish I Detonate Around Him
Speaking of things I dislike, it’s finally time to get back to my tumblr that mocks the 50 Shades of Grey series. I’m on the third book, I can power through this bullshit.

3. Visit every restaurant on my list of restaurants to visit
Last year I checked out a book about restaurants in the triangle, and naturally made a spreadsheet of all the ones that sounded cool. But you know my spreadsheets just get ignored unless I make a big deal blog project out of them.

4. Review at least 1 thing online a month
I realized last year that I rely heavily on online reviews when deciding things like what blender to buy or where to take my car for an oil change, but I never write online reviews myself. That is going to change right now! I have to start giving back for the good of the community.

5. Plaid Pladd Blog: One guest blog post per month
This is where I need your help. I thought it might be fun to invite people who aren’t me to write blog posts, especially people who don’t have their own blog or can’t be bothered to update it regularly because that shit’s hard, man, I get it. You could write a blog post about anything! Here are just some ideas:

1) a review of some restaurant or place you love (or hate?) with pictures!
2) a book review
3) a tutorial on something you know how to do
4) explain your daily schedule in gifs
5) why something you love is awesome and/or something you hate is stupid
6) you can answer some of my spam mail if you want
7) THE ONLY LIMIT IS YOUR IMAGINATION

Hit me up if you’re into it. Or I can badger you about it when I get desperate in August. Your choice.

This guy already agreed, so you know it's solid

This guy already agreed, so you know it’s solid

6. Knit a sweater

Oh yeah, it’s back. Technically in 2013 I vowed to knit a cardigan, not a sweater, and I’m already more confident that this will get done where that one totally failed. Because it’s purple so I automatically love it more. I’m using a pattern out of this book:

The Knit Parade by Rebecca Rymsza

The Knit Parade by Rebecca Rymsza

7. Get hella into a different Dewey Decimal Class each month

You're no John Cotton Dana, but I'll take it

You’re no John Cotton Dana, but I’ll take it

This goal is related to #1, sort of, in that I’m worried about my narrow focus of only choosing books I think I’ll like. You miss a lot that way! Time to break out of that filter bubble and explore some new territory.

You know I'm looking forward to June when I'll be tackling PURE SCIENCE

You know I’m looking forward to June when I’ll be tackling PURE SCIENCE

This month is the 000 class, which is kind of the “whatever, just add that in there since it doesn’t fit anywhere else” of the Dewey Decimal Classification system. Like, I just went to the library and checked out a book on the history of statistics and also one on IS ATLANTIS REAL? because those two things belong together.

Updates when I feel like it! It’s going to be a good year.

Fuck 2014

2014 was the worst year of my life (so far, I guess). December 31st, 2013, I made calzones, watched a compilation of the best vines of 2013, and then spent the night throwing up. The next day I thought calzones had been a poor choice. The next week I thought I had the flu. The next month I thought I was probably going to die.

SURPRISE! I didn’t. But spending months as a medical mystery, dealing with doctor’s bills, medicine side effects, endless tests, and trying to get enough nutrients to not be hospitalized would take its toll on anyone. Thankfully, I’m doing a lot better now. I don’t want to get into details, but obviously my yearly goals took a fatal hit.

1. Read All of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: 87%

When it was December 1st and I was still somewhere in S, I realized this wasn’t going to happen. I still plan to finish, but without the time crunch.

2. Make a pie once a month: 40%

I was kind of surprised this wasn’t 0%, but I did make a few pies this year, mostly for other people’s events. Most recently, I made a chocolate pumpkin pie when my grandma visited this fall. Adding chocolate to pumpkin isn’t intuitive, but everyone seemed to like the results!

3. Make a new cocktail once a month: 0%

hahano

lulz

4. Get everything currently on my To-Read list off it: 92%

Soooooooo clooooooose. Oh well. I have 8 left. That’s pretty good, considering.

5. Make Dwarf Helms: 100%

Oh yeah, this happened

Oh yeah, this happened

If you’re going to succeed at only one of your goals, it might as well be the most metal. And the one that keeps your face warm.

6. Update my blog at least once a week: 87%

Another that I was SO CLOSE to achieving, until somewhere around November when I started getting lazy.

Total: 68%

Fuck you, 2014. You sucked hardcore, and I’m not sorry to see you die. Bring on 2015!

Previously: 2013 goals

2014: The Pretty

Every year I bring you The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of the books I’ve read, and then I feel guilty that I’m leaving out The Pretty. So I give you a bonus post for those cover designers who actually tried. This year, they are:

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

I really love the art style on this, that almost looks like paper cutouts. I also think it fits the kind of surreal nature of this book.

Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities by Mike Jung

Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities by Mike Jung

This book was kind of whatever, but the cover looks mad exciting!

To Be Or Not To Be by Ryan North

To Be Or Not To Be by Ryan North

This book just won all of my awards this year. And how can it not? It’s a kickass choose-your-own-path book with badass illustrations.

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

SPEAKING OF BADASS, GET IT, ISMAE! I loved everything this book chose to be. Assassins? Check. Death as a character? Check. Interesting historical setting? You bet. LADY POWER TO THE MAX? You know it! And the cover portrays all these badass things too.

Previously: The Good
The Bad
The Ugly

2014:The Ugly

My favorite part of year-end posts! When I get to look back over the books I’ve read and decide which ones had the ugliest covers!

Mom Ladd helped me with this post. She wasn’t biased by the book’s contents, so she helped me pick out the most blah covers.

A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

This isn’t bad in itself, just inappropriate for the mostly serious book.

An Exaltation of Larks by Robert Reed

An Exaltation of Larks by Robert Reed

This is a bizarre sci-fi story set in the modern day/the future. I don’t know what’s going on here.

More Than This by Patrick Ness

More Than This by Patrick Ness

Another sci-fi story about alternate realities that could have tried harder.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

This book clearly needs more purple. What were you thinking??

YOLO by Lauren Myracle

YOLO by Lauren Myracle

Now this is the kind of purple I’m talking about! But my mom pointed out, rightly, that other than good color choice it is just sort of meh.

The Book of Awesome

The Book of Awesome

Mom Ladd declared this nowhere near awesome enough.

A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong

A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong

This one tried, but I feel like it has the potential to look way cooler.

Clearly I need Mom Ladd assistance on more blog posts.

Previously: The Good
The Bad

2014: The Bad

As promised, here’s The Bad list of 2014! If Brian and I hadn’t started that Hate Book Club, this list would be depressingly short, which I guess means I’m getting better at picking out books for myself. As always, these were the ones I rated 1 star on GoodReads (you can’t rate 0 stars, unfortunately).

Every Day

Every Day

This book was the one I hated most this year. I think others on this list might be objectively worse, but I knew going in that they would suck. This book’s premise sounded interesting, but then it just pissed me off. I think I did a pretty good job summarizing why in my original post:

the main character is a new person everyday, wearing their body and accessing their memories until midnight when he moves on to some other random body. This premise raises a lot of interesting issues, almost none of which are explored. The bulk of the plot is about his creepy relationship with the girlfriend of one of the people he possesses. Maybe it’s just because I really hate the love at first sight trope, but their relationship struck me as superficial bullshit. “He looks at her and only he can see her secret sadness” uggggggggh no. You can’t use that as a shortcut to establishing a believable connection between two characters. Plus, the ethical implications of dragging your host body around, wrecking its life because it’s your vehicle for the day are only kind of acknowledged. We’re supposed to realize that his stalker-Nice Guy(TM) love trumps all those concerns, I guess. Also, he hops into a lot of different teen-problem-novel-esque situations that we’re supposed to Learn A Very Important Lesson about, even though these people are portrayed as strange cardboard cut-out minorities with almost no humanity of their own. Except the one fat guy he possesses, who is described as “the societal equivalent of a burp.” The protagonist makes a big show of how non-judgmental he is, except of the fat guy, because since you did this to yourself, you deserve society’s scorn. A GIANT NOPE TO BOTH THOSE ASSUMPTIONS, David Levithan. Ew.

It by Stephen King

It by Stephen King

I was enjoying this book until the end, when the group of eleven-year-olds decide to pause in their escape to have sex in a sewer tunnel.

Grinding in Greenville by Victoria Andrews et al

Grinding in Greenville by Victoria Andrews et al

A poorly-written romance novel with damaging portrayals of rape victims! Heyeah.

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray

Obvious advice you might find useful if you are a 1950s stereotype.

Real Marriage by Mark Driscoll

Real Marriage by Mark Driscoll

A thinly-veiled cry for help.

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Some kind of re-imagined fairy tale bullshit?? I literally remember nothing about this book.

Six 1 stars out of 82 total books isn’t bad!

Next: The Ugly
Previously: The Good
2013 The Bad

2014: The Good

It’s almost the end of the year so time to give you The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of what I’ve read this year. As always, these were all books I rated 5 stars on GoodReads.

My favorite book of 2014 was:

Smek For President by Adam Rex

Smek For President by Adam Rex

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! The True Meaning of Smekday is my favorite book ever! Although I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to admit that in public what with a terrible movie adaption coming out soon. I didn’t even know Adam Rex had written a sequel until James gave me an Advanced Review copy for my birthday!!!!!!!!! BEST PRESENT EVER YES!!! Happily, the second book continued the spirit of the original!

To Be Or Not To Be by Ryan North

To Be Or Not To Be by Ryan North

A choose-your-own-adventure based on Hamlet. With awesome illustrations. You should buy this ebook right now.

How to Fight Presidents by Daniel O'Brien

How to Fight Presidents by Daniel O’Brien

This book was the perfect amount of hilariousness and history.

Longbourn by Jo Baker

Longbourn by Jo Baker

It’s important for us all to remember that regency England was not all empire-waist gowns and balls for most people.

All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry

All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry

Holy crap this book was good! I read it in one sitting. A historical fiction mystery with multiple DRAMATIC TWISTS! And just enough romance to make me happy!

Twentysomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck? by Robin Marantz Henig

Twentysomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck? by Robin Marantz Henig

This book reminded me of too many people I know.

Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman

Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman

Two lady journalists racing around the world!!! Olde timey transportation!!! Yes!!!

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

ASSASSIN NUNS!

Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow

Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow

A matriarchal society that fights zombies with knots. I’m 100% into this.

Rapture Ready by Daniel Radosh

Rapture Ready by Daniel Radosh

Daniel Radosh investigated bizarre and amazing aspects of Christian pop culture. My favorite was definitely Christian pro wrestling.

Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

Ancient cave-girl power!

A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong

A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong

This book charts the sociology of myth through history, how our cultural myths changed our civilization changed. A short book, but fascinating.

To the Letter by Simon Garfield

To the Letter by Simon Garfield

A history of letter writing! With funny and interesting excerpts of letters!

Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty

Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty

I have other grammar and style guides, but this one is the best for practical tips that make sense, examples that stick with you, and ease of looking common problems up.

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