Does it smell like Davey Jones’ Locker in here?

It’s been a while and I don’t really remember how to start one of these gracefully, so I’m just gonna dive in and knock some of the rust off. I’ll get better.

I hope.

Here are some facts about me:

1. I’m in school.

2. While I’m in school, I’m working as a server and bartender.

3. I’m really hungry right now.

 

Here are some facts about where I work:

1. We serve a lot of golfers.

2. Golfers apparently like to eat fish and chips.

3. Fish and chips (Category: American) are typically served with tartar sauce.

4. I am a clumsy, awkward sort of human.

This isn’t really an interesting story at all in terms of suspense or build-up. I was removing the tartar sauce from the reach-in refrigerator. The wrong lid was on the container. I dropped the container. 4 cups of tartar sauce splashed and spilled down my front and into my shoes.

Have you ever interacted really closely (And I mean closely) with tartar sauce? Let me illustrate some points for you. Tartar sauce is chunky, thick, and smells really strongly of pickles. In short, tartar sauce somewhat resembles the stuff that your body refuses to house anymore after a long night of frat house drinking and a dinner of tuna salad with extra pickle relish.

I KNOW! It IS gross! I can’t believe I said that either! However did I come up with such a perfect analogy?!?

It was like time stopped.

…I saw the tartar sauce tub falling but was powerless to stop it.

 

…And then I saw it all down the front of my shirt and skirt.

 

….And then… I took a step backward… and felt the squish.

Imagine that this happens to you at the beginning of your workday. This means that you have to go through the rest of your day smelling like tartar sauce, which makes people come up with all kinds of theories about your personal hygiene routine.

Yep. And you know that’s what they picture, too.

Meanwhile, my “inner goddess” (to pilfer from the 50 Shades of Grey hellscape) was all

I mean, normally she’s drunk and covered in cheeto dust but she looked magnificent that day and I had to say, “You know what, bitch? You’re right.”

Meanwhile, every single person who had watched this unfold started trying to hand me paper napkins. To which I eloquently laughcryshouted, “Thank you, fellow humans! I will clean up this culinary cesspool into which I have fallen with cocktail napkins which are not at all flimsy and playing-card sized and are therefore perfectly suitable for such a task!”

When inside, that ol’ cheeto covered goddess was all,

“I’ll just use every single towel in this establishment plus ALL the soda water to clean myself up a bit even though we all know I’m about to smell like food poisoning and Long John Silver’s for the rest of the day.” Which is the same as saying, “I’m about to smell like Long John Silver’s for the rest of the day!”

To add insult to injury, I had to mop it up off the floor, too.

It has been oft’ said that there are no life lessons learned quite as dearly as those learned at the end of a mop. It has also oft’ been said that the hardest learned life lessons are those learned with wet socks. And, perhaps most oft’est of all, it has been said that I am the reason we cannot have nice things. Or tartar sauce apparently. Is it Friday yet?

 

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Bourbon and Sugar and Mint Leaves, oh my! (Get your julep on.)

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Like most Kentucky girls, I have opinions about bourbon. Strong, numerous opinions.

Out of the many, however, one stands out as being most important. There is a difference between drinking bourbon and sipping bourbon. Your sipping bourbons live on the tippy-top shelf of the bar/cabinet/world. You have two options when it comes to sippin’ bourbon – neat or on the rocks. Don’t argue with me.

Drinking bourbon, on the other hand, gives you some more flexibility. This is not to say that drinking bourbon can’t be good quality (it can), but that, rather, you won’t be defiling a rather delicious gift from God if you choose to make a cocktail with it. There is, of course, also something we call “swill,” but we won’t even acknowledge that here.

Allow me to elaborate. Old Forrester or Maker’s Mark are good, solid, delicious drinking bourbons. A 20 year old Pappy Van Winkle is a good, solid, delicious sipping bourbon. This is an important distinction this time of year. Why?

Because you don’t make a julep with 20 year old Pappy. You just don’t.

If you ever see someone do that or order a (shudder) mixed drink of any kind with a 20 year old Pappy or 17 year old Eagle Rare, I want you to do me a favor and slap them. Hard. And maybe scream “Snap out of it!”

And while you’re at it, channel Olympia Dukakis:

Because, letsbehonest, if you’re pouring sugar water into a fine bourbon like that, your life is, most certainly, going down the toilet.

Where it will join your taste.

I kid. I kid.

About the last part. Not the slapping or the sacrilege bit. So help me, don’t try it.

This post isn’t about my rage, however. This post is in celebration of Kentucky Christmas, i.e. the Kentucky Derby. It is, therefore, about Mint Juleps.

Because I love you, I did a bit of day-drinking yesterday to test these recipes for you. Sipping recipe after recipe after recipe until I got them just right. If that doesn’t show how much I care, well, I don’t know what will. I started the tests as a fresh-faced, optimistic thing and, in the end, looked like this:

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Oh, well. C’est la vie, right?

Before we touch the hooch, however, we need to do some prep. Namely, we need to make our mint simple syrup.

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You’ll need to do this the night before your soiree or, at the very least, the night before you plan to do the julep drinking. Do NOT – I repeat, DO NOT – buy the pre-made julep mixes. They’re okay, I guess, but so not the same. If making your own simple syrup was difficult, I wouldn’t require it of you. But it’s not, so I am. Do it. You’ll thank me.

Just take equal parts water and sugar and put them in a saucepan. I made a lot, so 2 cups of each.

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Put the pot on the stove and heat until the sugar is melted/dissolved and the liquid looks clear. We’re not making caramel or candy here, so you don’t need to cook the sugar. Once it’s completely dissolved, pull it off the stove and let it cool. This is simple syrup.

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You can use this to sweeten literally everything. For those of you worried about the glycemic index in any capacity, I also made a simple syrup with coconut sugar. While it’s completely dark in color and has an almost molasses-y sort of flavor, it was delicious and works well too. We’re not done yet, though.

Once the syrup is cool, transfer it to an airtight container and add a bunch of fresh mint leaves. Make sure you take the stems off.

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Put the lid on and let it sit in the fridge overnight. This will infuse the syrup with amazing minty flavor. I usually let it stay in for closer to 24 hours. After all, this part isn’t exactly labor intensive. After that, just strain the mint leaves out and store the syrup in an airtight container until you’re ready to make juleps.

Fun fact: This also makes amazing mint lemonade. Squeeze a lemon into a glass, add some mint simple syrup, add ice, and fill the glass to the top with water. Stir and enjoy. 

Are you ready to make some juleps? I’ve got options for you. Options are always good. Options are especially good when you’re having a party. Which you should be. Not everyone likes a straight-up julep. Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered. I’ll hold your hand and we’ll get through this together. Are you ready?

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Traditionally, mint juleps are served in julep cups. These are silver and super spendy. I am not in possession of any julep cups. Besides, it’s hard to photograph through them – solid, metal surface and all. So we’re serving in a variety of hodge-podge glassware from my kitchen. I’m a purist in all ways other than servingware, I assure you. And if anyone wants to mail me some julep cups, let me know. I’m not above receiving gifts.

Some people use crushed ice. Some people don’t. I’m a big fan of the giant ice cube. Take your glass or cup and fill with your preferred sort of ice. Now, we can have fun. The mix is:

3 oz. good, Kentucky bourbon

1 oz mint simple syrup

sprig of mint

It really is as simple as that. It’s boozy, I’m warning you, but it’s Derby. Derby requires boozy. If you like it sweeter, add more syrup. If you like it less, well, add less. I’m not here to tell you how to drink.

Oh. Right.

This is the base of the rest of the fun we’ll be having today. If you want all the booze, but are looking for something a little lighter, you’ll love this next one. I call it a Mint Julep Spritzer.

Mint-Julep-Spritzer-Recipe

Fill a taller glass with ice. Add your 3 ounces of bourbon, 1 ounce of syrup, and mint leaves. Then, fill it to the top with soda water. I’d say put a straw in it, but that could get dangerous. This is one smooth beverage, my friends, and it drinks quickly.

For something a little more exotic for your Derby party, try my Blackberry Mint Julep.

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Take five or six washed blackberries and muddle them in the bottom of a glass. In laymen’s terms, jut squish them around. Put your ice cubes on top and then pour your standard julep over top. As a refresher, that’s:

3 oz. good, Kentucky bourbon

1 oz mint simple syrup

sprig of mint

5-7 blackberries

If blackberries aren’t your thing, you could try my Lemon Mint Julep.

Lemon-Mint-Julep-Recipe

Put your ice in a glass. Squeeze half a lemon into it. Then proceed as usual.

3 oz. good, Kentucky bourbon

1 oz mint simple syrup

sprig of mint

In case you haven’t caught it by now, juleps are a crazy easy drink to make and modify.

If you’re not into the bourbon part of the julep, definitely follow my earlier suggestion and make a mint lemonade. It’s sweet, refreshing, and sure to please even your pickiest teetotaling guests. 🙂

We’re not done, folks. Before Derby Day, we have The Kentucky Oaks. Oaks is basically the same shindig, but with a lot more pink. At the track (and licensed vendors), you can purchase a drink called The Lily. It’s a Grey Goose thing. Depending on which stand at the track serves you, they range from being really sweet to really, really, ridiculously sweet.

I’ve come up with my own variation. It’s based on the same basic principles, but with a twist. Since I can’t call it The Lily (and it’s not really a Lily anyway), I call it The Lola.

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2 oz your favorite vodka

2 oz good quality or homemade sweet and sour mix

3 oz cranberry juice

splash of Triple Sec

orange twist

blackberries

Pour all liquid ingredients and orange peel into a shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into a glass. At the Oaks, these are served in commemorative glasses, but you could use a stemless wine glass or a martini glass just as easily. Drop the orange twist from the shaker into the drink along with a blackberry or two.

You should know that the sweetness of this drink depends largely on the juice you use. If you use 100% cranberry, this drink will be more tart. To sweeten it, add a little powdered sugar to the shaker. Or, you could use a cranberry juice cocktail, which would make it much sweeter on its own. The 100% cranberry juice is what gives it that really gorgeous color, however, and I like it. Just add the powdered sugar or some simple syrup or, if you’re “watching it,” stevia.

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I hope you’ll try one (or all) of these. I know that the Kentucky Derby is hardly a big deal at all to anyone but horse folks and Kentuckians, but I hope that, at the very least, you’ll try one of these drinks on for size. They’re incredibly refreshing and not just suitable for the first Saturday in May. In fact, I make Lolas for my mom all year long.

Does anyone have a favorite Derby tradition? I’d love to hear it!

‘Til next time, get your julep on, kittens. xoxo

The Diary of Lola Bear: Snow Day

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Doodle’s Log: March 5, 2015.

It snowed last night. I can’t be sure how much, as I lack the thumbs required to utilize a ruler effectively, but the drifts come up to the beagle’s chin. I think the humans asked for it to punish me for bleeding all over their carpet the other night.

I have tried to explain to the beagle that snow is a terrible condition but she’ll have none of it. This morning when we went out for our morning constitutional, she made a mockery of herself by diving headfirst into the deepest snow. I tried to call her back to Mom and my side, but she pretended not to hear. Instead, she began blazing trails through the snow, though it is up to her chin and very cold, smiling like an idiot all the while. Mom laughed, which baffled me. I stood beside her, stoic, waiting for the charade to end so that we could return inside. She kept chanting at me to “be a good girl” and “go potty” even though we both know that it is madness to try to evacuate my bladder in snow that deep. I would surely die. Evidently the beagle has gone mad. I will not be so easily taken. I will wait until Mom or Dad shovels an area of the yard. They will have to do this eventually. I fear I may not be able to last until then, however, and that I may be forced to evacuate my bowels in Mom’s closet. Oh, how far I’ve fallen.

I heard Mom tell Dad that my webbed feet are defective, a fact which I know to be false. My webbed toes make me an excellent swimmer, or they would if I were ever desperate enough to need to swim. According to her, however, the webs are also supposed to keep the snow from collecting between my toes, which must be a lie. That is one of the snow’s evil tricks — getting frozen to your paw hair in between your toes and giving you frostbite. To “help me,” she says, Mom purchased paw covers, which only I am forced to wear. The paw covers are most humiliating. They have taken countless videos of my attempts to walk in them. They laugh. What sort of hell have I come to?

In addition, the humans will not leave. Normally, they all evacuate the house in the morning and return later in the day. This gives me time to tend to my affairs. I have business to take care of, namely spying on the cat and ascertaining how far progressed are her plans for total household domination. I fear she is close. In addition, I must frighten the birds who grow bolder every day and lay down a fine layer of my hair on all of the furniture to help keep the humans warmer. They are basically naked but cover themselves with blanket-like things that make them look ridiculous. Eventually, I hope they will appreciate my sacrifices.

I am liking the ear rubs and extra treats I have been given this morning, but I also caution myself to look out for the attached strings to such benevolence. It’s only a matter of time before I am forced outside again. I fear I may go mad.

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Best in Show

Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images [source]

Last night at the Westminster Kennel Club’s Best in Show competition, a beagle named Miss P took home the gold.

Is that right?

Miss P took home the ribbon-y thing that they give to dogs with “wonderful type” and “wonderful head[s].”

I am the proud human of a beagle named Miss P, by extension. She’s a Rigby, but we call her Miss Piggy. I’ve had a devil of a time telling her today that while a noble member of her breed is the champion, she is still ever the farty, nervous old thing she’s always been. But you’re the champion of my heart, Rigby, which may mean a lot or a little, depending on whether I’m holding treats or not.

Does anyone else have a hard time not thinking of Christopher Guest’s movie, Best in Show, when discussing the Westminster Kennel Club show?

We’re effectively snowed in. I have a sinus and ear infection. Rigby has a Napoleonic complex. Among everything else. I see this movie in my future this evening.

How is everyone? Snowed in? 65 and sunny?

Checking in. Are we still there? Is everyone ok?

I almost forgot what this place looked like, friends. Truly. Remember that post when I said I wanted to post more because it made me happy? And then I didn’t post for a reeeeeeally long time? Yea. Me too.

I dreamt that I had this whole new post planned out in my head that was going to be hilarious. Then I woke up and realized that it was just me replacing song lyrics with my dogs’ names. You’re welcome for not posting that. Although, full disclosure, we are on our second singing of “Doodles are Better than People” this morning, sung to the tune of Frozen’s “Reindeer are Better than People.” Lola loves it so don’t you dare judge me.

(Start a blog, they said. You’re super funny, they said. It’ll make you seem aloof and cool, they said.)

This is the place where I’m supposed to share my musings and opinions with the world at large, which seems ever more ridiculous. In fulfillment of that contract, I’m sending this out into the now empty room that once held at least 12 people who read this blog. Here’s the update on my life using a series of Liz Lemon gifs and memes. Buckle up.

1. School has been insane.

2. Work is work.

3. Freelance “art-ing” and writing is oddly stressful.

4. I work with the general public and study the general public and, therefore, want little to nothing to do with the general public. Kidding. …Mostly.

5. I had some fitness-related realizations and, subsequently, made some fitness- related goals.

6. Apparently there’s this thing where, when you reach your late twenties and haven’t yet procreated, your body goes all, “Get it together, jerkwad!” and goes into a kind of latent, second puberty. When I heard that, I could literally feel my heart trying to claw its way out of my mouth. It’s definitely a thing, though, because my late twenties and early teens have not looked all that different, only instead of collecting Backstreet Boys posters I make my husband look up cute pictures of baby animals on Reddit. Sometimes that backfires because he’ll show me a picture of a newborn pygmy hippo and I’ll start crying because, and I quote, “it’s little ears are too cute to be real.” It’s a cruel joke, really.

It’s like society praised me for my responsible life choices – “You went to college, lady! And grad school! And waited to have children until you felt that you could provide them with a financially stable home and that you, yourself, were emotionally, mentally, and spiritually mature enough to handle the daunting task of raising a human being successfully! Well done, lady!”

Meanwhile, the ol’ lady business is plotting my demise one peanut butter cup at a time.

7. In response to #6, I have cut down exposure to the things that make me weepy which means that I only watch that one video – the one with the kid who has a genetic condition that has rendered him nearly unable to walk or physically develop fully but who adopts a three legged dog and they both find comfort, purpose, and happiness in each other – once a week. Progress.

(Seriously though, if you haven’t watched that video, do it. The first time I viewed it, Carter found me clutching the Labradoodle sobbing that it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. Truly. And not in a pygmy hippo way.)

8. I’m studying social work, which is to say I’m studying society, which is to say that my eyes are open to just how crappy humans can and have been throughout history. The entire social work degree, as I have experienced it, can be boiled down to one primary concept: Human beings, like the internet, are at once the most amazing and most terrible things ever. Get it together, human race.

9. This spring, I start training to become a yoga teacher. I am, at once, excited and completely terrified.

10. I’ve been spending a lot of time with my pets. It is both a good thing and a terrible thing.

11. I’m going through that late-twenties phase where I’m pretty much a fully-formed person with a fully-formed personality, for better or worse, but also harbor some of the deep, latent self-loathing of my teens and early twenties that tells me that the fully-formed personality I have is really, really dumb and pretty kind of okay at the same time.

It’s a journey though, right? Isn’t that the premise of 9 of the 254 Chicken Soup for the Soul books? Calling it.

How have you been, awesome nerds? I’m gonna be here more often. And this time, I mean it.