The one that got away.

Today is the final day of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month, for those of you just joining us). Every day in the month of November, I have published a post on this here blog.

Well, every day except YESTERDAY.

It was one of those days. I woke up Saturday after about five hours and couldn’t fall back asleep. There were many dogs in my house, mine plus my stepfathers’ two. They are kind of ornery in the morning. I wasn’t feeling so hot, either, like I was still trying to fend off this cold I’ve been fending off for a couple of weeks.

So I declared it a Bum Day and rode the couch until 5-ish, when I took a shower and started to get ready to go out. Joe and I were meeting some friends for dinner. This double dating thing is new to us; we haven’t historically had a lot of couple friends. We were giddy, even though I was both exhausted and possibly getting sick.

Dinner was good and the companionship even better. We laughed a LOT. Even so, about an hour into it, I felt the telltale drip going down the back of my throat. The beginnings of a cough started rattling in my chest. Rut-ro.

After dinner I made Joe go to ShopRite with me to purchase the $1.29/lb. pork loin (the sale price ended yesterday). Y’all know I love my cheap meats. We also picked up some peppermint tea, because I knew – I ABSOLUTELY KNEW – sickness was coming.

At home I changed into my PJs and lay on the couch while Joe brewed me some of that tea. We started to watch another episode of How to Get Away with Murder (we were behind almost the whole season) and as soon as I was finished with the tea I promptly passed out. Joe nudged me awake and I crashed into bed, where I slept for nine solid hours, save one quick AM trip to the loo.

It was during that trip that I realized: I TOTALLY FORGOT TO POST SOMETHING YESTERDAY.

Missed it by that Much

I wondered if I could post something after the fact and predate it, but that felt like cheating. I’m a lot of things, but a cheater isn’t one of them.

So, I failed…sort of.

I published 29 posts this month, including this one. They weren’t all winners, but they weren’t all lame, either.

Best of all, they got me over whatever mental block I’d been having about blogging again. Not every post has to be Important. They don’t all have to have perfect photos. Hell, sometimes you can skip the photo thing entirely. Guess what? World doesn’t end.

This challenge reminded me that blogging is, at the heart of it, about using your voice. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using it to pay tribute to loved one or deliver a mini-rant about processed foods – it just matters that you’re saying what you think, what you know, what you feel.

Now that the challenge is over, I likely won’t continue posting every day. I’ve got a novel to finish, yo, and daily blogging does cut into my limited writing time. But I’d like to keep posting 3-5 times a week, schedule permitting. It’s been fun. I’ve missed this.

And to all of the NaNoWriMo winners out there: congratulations! I don’t know if I could do the 50k words in 30 days thing. I don’t even know if I’m crazy enough to try. But I do admire your dedication. And who knows? Maybe one day I’ll be cool enough to join your ranks.

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My complicated relationship with Thanksgiving.

Beautiful Bird

Look at that beautiful bird! Wendy’s handiwork, Thanksgiving 2010.

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that I love in theory and dislike in practice. It’s not because I’m not thankful – I am, for so many, many things – but honestly? When you come from a small family, Thanksgiving is more about the food than anything else. And it’s kind of a pain in the arse.

Here is a snapshot of my family:

I am an only child.

My mother had one brother that she didn’t get along with 50% of the time. He’s lived in California all of my life. He had two daughters with his first wife, my cousins Lisa and Caroline. I’ve met Lisa exactly twice in my life. Caroline I’ve hung out with three times, but to be fair, we keep in touch on Facebook and sometimes via texting. My uncle Dick had two kids with his second wife, my cousins Chelsea and Jordan. I’ve met Chelsea once, when she was barely out of toddlerhood; I’ve never even met Jordan. Ever. We’re also friends on Facebook.

My mom’s dad died when I was seven. Her mom, my nana, passed when I was a sophomore in college. They lived in Boston and I saw them a couple times a year if I was lucky. My nana kind of hated me because she thought I looked too much like my father. Well, everyone says she didn’t hate me, but she sure acted like she did. I am still wounded from the times that I would answer the phone with a cheerful, “Hi, Nana!” and she’d snarl, “Put your mother on.”

We spent one Thanksgiving in Rancho Mirage with my uncle, his then-wife Suzanne, Chelsea, and my nana. It was a very strange trip in that I was 12 and had my period for only the third time in my life. My mom got angry with me on the plane because I hadn’t mastered how to use a tampon yet and it was a really long flight. When we got to my uncle’s house, his big dog – I don’t remember what kind, but to 12-year-old me, it was ENORMOUS – tried to…um…have his way with me. It was beyond traumatizing.

My cousin Chelsea, the one and only time I met her. This was Thanksgiving 1988, I believe.

My cousin Chelsea, the one and only time I met her. This was Thanksgiving 1988, I believe.

My father has one sister; that’s my aunt Barbara. We’ve always been close and she’s been like a mother to me since college. She and my uncle Jeffrey have two boys, my cousins Zach and Josh, and they’re like brothers I don’t get to hang out with all that often. Funny thing: Zach has worked in Delaware for years and now actually lives here, but I still pretty much ONLY see him when Joe and I drive to Fort Washington for Shabbat dinners.

I actually lived with these guys for the eight months after I fled Fort Wayne but before I left for grad school. And when I moved home after I got my MFA, and the boys were still in school, I used to drive up for Shabbat dinners/Family Game Night almost every Friday. Then Zach spent a semester in Israel, and Josh was working the bar- and bat mitzvah circuit, and that kind of stopped.

I don't have any Thanksgiving pictures of these guys handy, so here's one from a trip they took to the beach a few years ago.

I don’t have any Thanksgiving pictures of these guys handy, so here’s one from a trip they took to the beach a few years ago.

I still miss those dinners.

My aunt’s mom passed when she was 13. My grandpop remarried, and that’s the only grandmother I knew on that side of the famlily. Grandpop died just a few days before my 17th birthday; his funeral was actually ON my birthday. Grandmom died in February 2006.

When I was little, Thanksgiving was spent at Gram and Grandpop’s house. After Grandpop passed and Gram moved to Virginia, to live with her sister, my aunt took up the mantle. Sometimes her in-laws would come down. I still dream about my uncle’s mom’s chestnut stuffing. It had a pinkish hue but was OMG good.

Delicious stuffing aside, I spent most Thanksgivings kind of bored. The men watched football. Zach is almost nine full years younger than I am, and Josh three years his junior; they tended to play video games. I was the only one in my generation and most of the time I was considered too young to help out in the kitchen. I read a lot to keep myself occupied.

I longed for a big family gathering, one filled with touch football games and annual traditions. But when you come from a small family, this isn’t the norm.

When I stopped speaking to my father – this was back in grad school – I lost Thanksgivings with my Fort Washington family. I thought maybe we could trade off years, but my aunt felt strongly that no one should be alone on a holiday. We started a new tradition of dinners together the following day, for post-Thanksgiving Shabbat.

So then I started having Thanksgivings with my mom and stepfather. Literally, just the three of us. My mom and I would prepare these enormous menus that would result in about four times as many leftovers as we ate on the actual day. She’d stress herself out – holidays were almost ALWAYS stressful for Mom – and there was some other general unpleasantness. Like I said: no love lost between me and Thanksgiving.

I spent one Thanksgiving with Joe’s family before his grandfather passed away. It was a big, noisy affair with aunts, uncles, and cousins streaming in at different times. Their tradition was to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation after dinner. They shouted out lines with each other. It was nice. We’d planned on making this our new tradition.

The Royer clan, Thanksgiving 2008.

The Royer clan, Thanksgiving 2008.

But Pop passed in spring 2009, and Grammy didn’t host the following year. We had Thanksgiving with my mom and stepfather instead.

My mom, on the last Thanksgiving we ever spent together.

My mom, on the last Thanksgiving we ever spent together.

The year after that, my parents went to West Virginia for Thanksgiving, and we were displaced. This is the year that my best friend Wendy insisted that Joe and I come to Thanksgiving at her house. I felt odd, like I’d be invading her family gathering. Nonsense, she told me. I insisted on making stuff, because that is what I do. So I brought a pot of my mom’s pumpkin and sausage soup, a batch of her cornbread dressing, a kale gratin, and a goopy cranberry pie with botched homemade crust that we affectionately dubbed “Frankenpie.” I made Ina Garten’s gravy, which is so good that Wendy eats the leftovers like it’s actually a soup, at her house, just before turkey was served.

Frankenpie, Thanksgiving 2010. I still haven't mastered homemade crust. I probably never will.

Frankenpie, Thanksgiving 2010. I still haven’t mastered homemade crust. I probably never will.

Here’s the thing about Thanksgiving with Wendy and her family: it is, typically, a drama-free affair. Everyone is generally pleasant and no one argues. There’s a lot of laughing. We all help out in the kitchen. Wendy’s husband, dad, and uncle watch football in the basement. Joe watches YouTube videos with Wendy’s kids. I catch up with her brother’s girlfriend Jenna, whom I adore. We all eat too much pie. Wendy sends everyone home with leftovers.

It’s really, really nice, is what it is.

And that’s what Joe and I have done for the past four Thanksgivings. And I actually started to look forward to the holiday again, if you can believe it.

So when I told Wendy that this year we wouldn’t be coming – that Joe’s aunt Brenda was hosting a big family Thanksgiving and had invited us to go – I felt really sad. It’s not that I don’t like Joe’s family, because I do. And I love his aunt Brenda, who’s this totally ballsy badass who says whatever comes to her mind and doesn’t censor a single thought. Plus, we don’t get to see Grammy and Joe’s brother Archie enough – or see ANY of his family enough, really.

But. You know.

Going to Wendy’s for Thanksgiving had become OUR tradition. Joe’s and mine. Her kids start asking about the pumpkin soup weeks before. Hell, they thought I was bringing it to Easter dinner. If it were up to them, they’d have pumpkin soup at every holiday (kind of like how my cousins would prefer to have my aunt’s matzo ball soup at every holiday).

When Joe got aunt Brenda’s invitation, he started dancing around our living room like a little kid. He is SO excited to spend Thanksgiving with his family, and that excitement is infectious. Plus, we got off easy this year; I’m making a double batch of my mom’s soup this morning and we made our semi-famous Sour Cream Apple Pie yesterday afternoon. That’s it. No stuffing, no gravy, no kale gratin.

Tomorrow, we’ll go to aunt Barbara’s and have a lovely second Thanksgiving with my second family, and then Thanksgiving will be officially over until 2015. I’m more than okay with that.

Besides, I have to start planning this year’s Christmas dinner. I’m hosting my stepfather and his neighbor Charlotte, who was one of my mom’s best friends. I’m looking forward to it. Christmas was always my mom’s holiday, after all.

Let me end on a positive note: I honestly have so much to be thankful for this year. More than I ever thought possible. And if Joe’s and my biggest issue on Thanksgiving is figuring out which of our many loved ones to spend it with, then we don’t have any real issues at all.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sour Cream Apple Pie

A few years ago, my mom wanted to make this sour cream apple pie she remembered my Aunt Barbara making. Aunt B gave me the recipe, with a note saying, “I didn’t make this up. Origins unknown – think it might be a Joan Spector recipe.” My mom then found a recipe for a similar pie that was labeled Reading Market. She tweaked Aunt B’s recipe and sent me the changes. Then Joe and I tweaked it some more, and now we make this crazy-good apple pie that people go nuts for.

I’m sharing this recipe – and our method – with you. Because, you know, it’s Thanksgiving and all.

It all starts with the apples. It is, after all, an apple pie.

The first time Joe and I went to make this, I remembered my mom’s trick for making the best unsweetened apple sauce ever: use as many different varieties of apples you possibly can. I applied that same logic when shopping for apples for this pie. The recipe calls for six, so make sure you get six different kinds.

Apples for Pie

This year we used (clockwise from top) Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Fuji, Red Delicious, Gala, and Golden Delicious (center). I may have mixed up Fuji and Gala but they were both in the mix.

The second big change we made was to use our mandolin to slice the apples really thin. We set ours to 2, which comes out to about 1/16 of an inch in thickness. To prep the apples, I peel and Joe slices. As we go, we sprinkle the apple slices with fresh lemon juice.

Apple Slices for Pie

After the apples are all sliced up, you toss them with a sour cream mixture that includes flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, an egg, and some vanilla. It’s REALLY tasty. You can fold them in with a spoon or spatula, but this is one time when I agree with Honey Boo Boo and say that sometimes your hands are your best tools. (Don’t worry, they were freshly washed.)

Tossing Apples

So here’s my other big secret: I don’t make my own crust. I’ve tried – seriously, I have TRIED – but I always, always botch it. So now I don’t even try anymore. I just buy the store-bought kind. Besides, I think it tastes better than most homemade anyway. P.S. I don’t even bother to get Pillsbury anymore. I buy the ShopRite brand.

Once you have your crust nestled into your deep dish pie pan, you pour in your sour creamed apple slices. You may need to use your hands again to make sure the slices get into every corner of the crust. It’s messy work, but totally worth it.

DSC02881

You bake the pie at a couple of different temperatures. Then, after 45 minutes, you add the crumb topping, which is made with flour, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter. I dice the cold butter and mix it in with my fingertips until crumb-like.

Add some sliced almonds, bake for another 20 minutes, and there you have it: the best apple pie you’ll ever make (or eat!).

The best apple pie you'll ever make or eat

The full recipe is below. And because I’m not an actual food blogger, I don’t have some neat recipe widget that gives you a pretty printable copy. So, I made a Word doc for those of you who want to print it out: Sour Cream Apple Pie

Aunt Barbara’s Sour Cream Apple Pie
Adapted by Nancy; adapted again by Lara & Joe

INGREDIENTS

For the pie:
Unbaked 9” pie crust
6 apples (one each of six varieties), pared, cored, and sliced
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (you can use less if you have strong vanilla)
1 cup sour cream

For the crumb topping:
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup salted butter (1/2 stick)
* If using unsalted butter, add 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 425. Take your store-bought out of the fridge to bring to room temp.

Peel your apples. Cut them in half and remove the core with a melon baller. Then make them into 1/16” slices using a mandolin. You can make this recipe just by slicing your apples by hand, but trust me—thinner slices is better. As you go, sprinkle slices with some of the fresh lemon juice.

Sift together flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the egg, vanilla, and sour cream. Fold apples into this mixture.

Arrange your store-bought crust in deep-dish pie pan, hand-crimping the top edge. Spoon sour cream/apple mixture into the shell.

Bake 15 minutes at 425, then reduce to 325 and cook for 30 minutes. You may want to put a cookie sheet on a lower shelf to catch any spill-overs.

Combine all of the topping ingredients in a bowl with fingertips until crumbly. After the 30 minutes are up, sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top of the pie. Then add 1/4 cup of sliced almonds.

Bake at 350 for 20 more minutes. The crumb topping will melt a little around the edges but look dry elsewhere. That’s okay. This is how it’s supposed to look.

Let cool before serving, then enjoy!

Reblog #1 | December 31, 2010

Yesterday I read The End of My Career, a new blog post by Barry Lyga. If you’re in the children’s writing and publishing field, odds are you’ve either read it or known someone who did and shared it on social media. It’s a good read. Barry talks a lot about the state of the industry and how the current publishing model makes it untenable for midlist authors to make a living through writing alone – something he’s been doing for the past decade.

I was never able to sustain myself on writing alone. Never. I always had to freelance, or teach, or more likely do both. When I got tired of scraping by, I did what Barry fears most: I looked for “real work” (his words) and ultimately reentered the workforce after a nearly nine-year hiatus.

Four months later – after I had acclimated to twice-monthly paychecks, excellent medical/dental insurance, and a healthy, company-funded retirement plan – I declared that I was done with being a working author. I wrote a goodbye letter of sorts via my then-blog in the wee hours of December 31, 2010. I was feeling overly “confessional,” as Barry puts it. I spewed up my feelings into a raw, honest post – the last I’d ever write on “Girl, Uninterrupted.”

Below, I’m reprinting that post in its entirety, typos preserved. Reading Barry’s post yesterday made me think there’s still some relevance to what I’d written nearly four years ago.

Good Writer

2010: The Year I Finally Accepted Who I Am, What I Want, and Why I Want
Originally posted 12/31/10

It’s 3:30 a.m. as I type this, December 31, 2010.

This year? Kind of sucked.

Not just for me. This year kind of sucked for just about everyone I love.

Breakups. Financial disaster. Deaths. Career turmoil. Health problems, family drama(s), dysfunction like you wouldn’t believe.

For me personally: 2010 turned out to be the hardest year of my entire life. And that’s saying something, since 2009 was excruciatingly painful and, until 2010, had been the hardest year of my entire life.

There are many, many reasons for this, none of which I speak of publicly.

But here’s something I feel sort of comfortable talking about, and that is how 2010 was the year I decided I wanted to be done with the whole published author gig.

People who know me weren’t shocked by this decision. People who really know me know that this was a decision a long time coming.

Rewind: Joe’s birthday, 2008. I’d agreed to appear at a bookstore fundraiser for a public library (which, if you think about it, is a little twisted in and of itself). They stuck me in the cookbook section and left me alone. No one so much as talked to me for 90 minutes. I needed to use the bathroom but wasn’t supposed to leave my table until someone was there to cover it for me. Eventually the need to pee won out over the need to follow the rules. When I got back to the table, I realized I had 90 minutes left on my shift. I looked at a group of kids walk past me to play Guitar Hero at the station set up behind me, packed my bag, and left.

On the long ride home – because of course this freebie thing had to be 60 miles away – I started thinking, “I hate this crap.” I hate agreeing to appear at lame fundraisers where my presence is unnecessary or even useful. I hate driving two hours to sit in a booth at a book fair that no one attends. I hate driving three hours to teach workshops at libraries where the person organizing the event neglects to publicize it and three kids show up and write scary poems about cutting themselves and then stare blankly at me when

I express concern over their general well-being.

I should’ve spent the day baking a cake for my then-boyfriend (now _ance). Instead, I spent it feeling humiliated and bitter and resentful.

There are people who get really, really angry when I say things like this. Most of them are struggling writers who think, “You’ve published six books. One of them got made into a Lifetime movie that still airs bimonthly. For some reason, the Dutch love your novels. So why are you complaining about any of it?”

For the record: I am not complaining.

FACT: Being a working author is maybe 15 % about the writing. The other 85 % is mostly selling yourself to people in one form or another, through your blog, emails, listserv postings, conference appearances, signings, library things, school visits, etc. It is exhausting.

FACT: Being a successful working author requires an enormous amount of networking (much of which falls into the tush-kissing category), self promotion (see above), and trying to come up with ideas for books that are both commercial and literary and will get your publishers excited to work with you.

FACT: Being a lower midlist author (which, let’s face it, is pretty much what I was for 90 % of my career as a working writer) means feeling inadequate the majority of the time, praying for shelf/review space, and having to swallow editorial advice like “Do you think you could add a C Plot involving two teachers in love, like in CLUELESS?” All while still trying to sell yourself and kiss tushies and write books that will appeal to consumers who adore vampire books with excessive adverbs.

To repeat: I am not complaining. I am simply stating my perceptions, based on nine years of experience.

Complaining would mean that I was saying all of this while still trying to make it as a working writer.

I am not.

Last spring I became what is referred to as a Career Changer – someone who wakes up one day, realizes she can’t stand what she does, and decides to do something different. For me, this manifested in my job at the International Reading Association, where I am a membership specialist. This means I do a lot of stuff to attract new members and keep the existing ones happy. Currently I do a good deal of copywriting, which I really enjoy, and there are a lot of cool, creative things coming down the pipeline. Ironically, no matter how much I despise having to market myself, I’m really good at marketing other people and organizations I believe in (IRA being one of them).

The icing on this cupcake is that IRA’s offices are so close to UD’s main campus that I get to teach one creative writing workshop each semester. Teaching creative writing is the thing that truly feeds my soul, as cliched as that sounds. I love my students. I love encouraging their talent. I love seeing them develop as writers. I love the days that I go into that classroom and laugh so hard I cry.

This is also why I teach creative writing classes at the Brandywine Y. Well, that and the free gym membership.

Anyway.

I still write. Not every day, or even every week, but I do write. I’m working on a deeply personal adult novel. What I have so far is really good. It makes me remember why I wanted to be a writer in the first place.

But, I don’t have any books under contract, nor am I trying to secure any new contracts. And that makes me oddly happy.

Tonight I climbed into bed with E. Lockhart’s REAL LIVE BOYFRIENDS, the fourth installment in the Ruby Oliver series. Emily is one of my favorite writers, and this book? It’s amazing. I read it cover to cover in one sitting. I cried at the end. When I came to the last page, I thought, “This book makes mevwish I were a better writer.” That’s pretty much the highest compliment I can pay to any author I admire.

So here’s the thing: thinking that made me wonder why I didn’t work harder to be a better writer to begin with. In the beginning, before I sold anything, writing was everything to me. I poured blood on the page. I would hole up, cancel plans with friends, and write so long the sun would set and I would be like, “Huh, it’s nine o’clock? Maybe I should think about dinner.”

After I sold books, got published, and realized what it meant to be a working writer, a lot of that changed. I didn’t love writing so much. I agonized over having to do it. Deadlines were my main driving force. That and needing money to pay my bills. The joy? Gone.

There are some things I enjoyed more than others. Writing the first Starlet book – that was probably the most fun I had writing anything. I’m still really proud of that book, despite the dated pop culture references. And I had a great time revising THE SWEET LIFE OF STELLA MADISON, but the first draft was murder and fraught with behind-the-scenes drama in both my personal life and my professional one.

Before I decided to go to graduate school but after I left my crappy job at the crappy paper in Fort Wayne, Indiana, I had a meeting with my mentor and friend Cruce Stark. During this meeting he said something that I will never, ever forget. He said, “Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it.” He was referring to journalism, but as I agonized over whether or not I wanted to continue being a working writer I kept hearing those same words over and over and over.

I’m a good writer. I’m not a great one. I might have eventually become a great one, if I’d wanted it enough.

Except, I didn’t. Want it, that is.

So now I work in membership for a professional organization devoted to literacy, and I run creative writing workshops for college kids and adult hobbyists, and I spend a lot of time cooking delicious things with my fiance, watching too much television, volunteering for the Girl Scouts, and petting my dog. And these things make me really, really happy.

Several months ago, I said to my mom, “If my biggest complaint is that I don’t have enough time to see all of the people I care about who care about me, then in the grand scheme of things, that’s not so much a problem as it is a privilege.” Meaning, I’m lucky that there are so many people I care about who care about me, even if we don’t talk or see each other as much as we’d like.

And it’s not like I’m never going to write another thing. I just spent 77 minutes writing this blog post. My essay, “Informed Consent,” will be included in the DEAR BULLY anthology HarperCollins is putting out in the fall, which is something I’m really excited about. Plus I really am working on an adult novel, and I really do believe it’s some of the best writing I’ve ever done.

Maybe I’ll publish it, but then again, maybe I won’t. And I’m okay with that. I’m beyond okay with that.

As for 2011: I’m hoping it’s better than 2010, not just for me but for all of the people in my life who’ve been struggling with unspeakable things.

For me, personally, I feel like 2011 is already better. Because I’m more sure of who I am than I’ve ever been, and there’s something to be said for that.

There’s a lot of muck that still needs to be sorted through. And my house is still a hot cluttery mess that could seriously benefit from me hiring a housekeeper. I still want to lose another 80 pounds, still want to finish the craft room that’s been 3+ years in the making, still want to create a filing system that makes sense and puts every paper in its place. I’m still not entirely sure how I plan on accomplishing all of the above while maintaining personal relationships and working three or more jobs.

But.

As I look forward to the year ahead, I am hopeful. This person I am? I like her. I like her a lot. I want to like her even more, and I want to spend the next 365 days doing things that will help me achieve this goal. To be the best Lara I can possibly be, and to focus on the things that actually make me happy instead of things that are supposed to make me happy.

Changing careers was a major step in that direction.

The rest?

I’ll just have to wait and see.

/navel gazing

Debating the (blog) double dip.

Now that I’m getting back into this blogging groove, I started to think about my old blog, “Girl, Uninterrupted: Confessions of a Not-So Dangerous Mind.”

When I decided I was really and truly done with writing and publishing forever, I pulled the plug on the blog and deleted the whole thing. Erased it entirely, like it had never existed.

Before I did, though, I made an archive through LJBook, and now I have a 3,230-page PDF of posts written between July 2001 and December 2010. My entire blog, in one oddly formatted document. Seriously, it’s entirely devoid of apostrophes (they’ve all been replaced with two spaces for some unknown reason). Also, all of the “smart” quotes face the same direction.

Like I said: oddly formatted.

Lately I’ve been toying with the idea of doing some sort of spin on Throwback Thursday, and republishing “classic” posts from the old blog on this one. Is that weird? There was some really good stuff on there. Stuff it might be fun to put back out there. Or would that just be double-dipping?

Thoughts?

When a peanut isn’t just a peanut…

So about six weeks ago, in a renewed quest for greater health and well-being, my candy- and white carb-loving husband and I embarked on a new adventure: a no-sugar, no-flour diet eating plan. It hasn’t been nearly as hard as we’d both feared, to be honest. The most difficult part has been finding all of the hidden sugar in the foods we eat. Like, the kind that sneaks into mayo and (here’s a favorite) ShopRite brand chicken stock. Really? Sugar in chicken stock? What’s THAT about?

Apparently, ShopRite loves to put sugar into its brand foods. For instance: during this evening’s shopping trip, we picked up a pack of lightly salted dry roasted peanuts. Joe dug into them when he was unpacking the groceries. Then, when I came into the kitchen to start dinner, he said, “I ate some of the peanuts already. We chose wisely.”

I opened the jar and popped a few into my mouth. They tasted good, but not entirely peanut-ty. I checked the label, and this is what I found:

Peanuts

I read the ingredients out to Joe.

“No wonder they were so tasty,” he said.

This reminded me of a very important lesson: ALWAYS READ THE LABEL.

I mean, you can see, nothing about these  peanuts indicates that they are seasoned with both sugar AND corn syrup solids. Nothing screams “extractives of paprika” or garlic and onion powder. Note that there is “natural flavor” added into this mix of very unnatural flavors.

Thanks, but no thanks, ShopRite. These will likely end up on the free table at one of our offices. To whichever co-worker ends up with these in their tummy, I extend my sincerest apologies.