29 November, 2011


I accidentally used a different pie crust recipe for my Thanksgiving apple pie.  "Accidentally," you ask?  Yes.  See, "my" pie crust recipe is from the little spiral-bound booklet that came with my stand mixer.  Who'd have thunk that the recipe in the KitchenAid Best-Loved Recipes cookbook (a.k.a the official stand mixer cookbook) would be completely different?

By the time I realized my error, I had 1/2 pound of butter cut into pieces and setting in the freezer.  There was no turning back.  It turns out that this recipe, along with my own special modifications, was pretty fan-damn-tastic.  And so, I'd like to share it with the world (or the three of you who read this).

Jamie's Fan-Damn-Tastic Pie Crust
(adapted from the Pie Dough for a 2-Crust Pie, "KitchenAid Best-Loved Recipes")
makes 2 crusts for a 9-9.5" pie

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, each stick cut into 16 pieces and chilled in the freezer for 10-30 minutes
1-2 shots vodka (limoncello, orangecello, or any other flavor-infused vodka may be substituted)
1/4 cup cold water

1. In large mixing bowl, stir together flour, salt, and sugar.  Using stand mixer paddle attachment (or food processor, pastry knife, fork, etc.) incorporate butter into flour mixture until pea-sized pieces of butter remain and flour has a coarse texture.

2. In rocks-style glass, combine vodka, water, and ice.

3. With mixer running, add liquid 1 tablespoon at a time until ingredients are moistened and dough begins to hold together. (generally 5-7 Tbs.)

4. Shape dough into a ball and divide in half.  Shape each half into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before rolling out.  Finish as your pie recipe directs.

5. The rest of the cocktail is yours to enjoy.  Go ahead, you've earned it!

Note: I used limoncello for Thanksgiving because we didn't have vodka in the house.  The crust was incredibly sweet (after the cocktail, I kept referring to is as "a damn sugar cookie").  If you use limoncello for a pie with a sweet filling, I'd recommend leaving the sugar out.

Another note:  I've heard that super-cold ingredients make a flakier crust, thus frozen butter and wet ingredients on the rocks.  I've also heard that vodka makes a flakier crust because it has a lower evaporation point and therefore leaves less liquid in the crust.  This crust was definitely flaky!  I can also tell you for sure that there was plenty of dough for a 2-crust pie and it was easy to roll out, if slightly delicate.

Happy Pie-Making!!

Back to 2009

I love the Osborne Lights, but hate the crowds.  It's telling that this photo was taken on a side street, with Scott leaning on a trash can.  It's the only place we could go without being elbowed by a stranger or run over by a stroller! I'm pretty sure that 2009 was the first time we'd been back to see the lights since 2003.  I'm also pretty sure we'll be skipping it again this year.

28 November, 2011

The Daily Christmas #1 (which is sort of #2)

Remember the Month of Holiday Cat Photos (otherwise known as December 2008)?  I've decided to resurrect that this year, but instead use pictures from my own past Christmases.  They're not going to be chronological, mostly because I have a big hole in my albums in the 90's and 00's, and partly because I'd hate to blow all of the adorable mini-Jamie with Santa pictures in the beginning.

I'm also starting today, knowing that I'll probably fall off the posting wagon once or twice.  So without further adieu, I present Christmas morning, 2010:

We took this picture on the parking tram at Disney's Hollywood Studios on our way back to the car.  We signed in Jackie and her family, and then (according to the caption on Facebook) went home for eggnog pancakes and presents.  It was pretty darn chilly last year, but I won't complain.  Better 60 than 90, right?

26 November, 2011

An Open Letter to Santa Claus

Dear Santa,

Hi it's Jamie. You might remember me from this picture *cough cough* years ago.  I was the little girl holding the red toy truck.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know I won't be expecting any gifts this year.  Scott and I have decided to celebrate our anniversary and Christmas "off the grid" with no gifts.  Money is tight, and we have what we need and can wait for anything else we want.

Whatever extra money we do have this season is going to be donated to our two chosen charities.  This year, we'll be giving to the Alzheimer's Association (and not just because their ribbon color is purple!) and the Wounded Warrior Project.  We know our friends and family will understand our desire to "pay it forward" rather than give and receive trinkets, and we hope that they consider making a donation to a charity of their choosing instead of buying anything for us.

It's nice to know that our money will be helping those who deserve not only our help, but our gratitude.  And I'm not going to lie - not having to fight the holiday shopping crowds is a gift in itself!

Merry Christmas to you and the Mrs., and feel free to stop by for some cookies. We'll be sure the save you some!


25 November, 2011

I *Told* You Not to Do That!

Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to Cassidy.  I met her today and got to hold her so long my shoulder and elbow still hurt.  (I call it "baby arm." It's like tennis elbow, but getting this is so much more fun)

Cassidy was born on Wednesday night, and she belongs to Matthew and Kristen. By now though, I think it's safe to say they belong to her.  They let me come and visit today, though at 6:00 this morning I was really not sure I'd ever meet her or speak to her daddy again.

Perhaps you remember this post from last month where I gave sage unsolicited advice about the perils over over-sharing to future parents everywhere?  On one side, my post focused on photos, but the gist was pretty much "everyone doesn't need to know everything."  Matthew actually read and reposted what I said on Twitter.  And that's why I was so shocked and disheartened last night when he started basically live-tweeting Cassidy's day.  Weight, temperature, consistency of poops... I was wondering if he was doing it just because he knew it would drive me bonkers or if he really thought his Twitter followers were that interested in meconium.

This morning, after waking up to another 8 updates, I tweeted to Matthew (with love) that for my own sanity I needed to unfollow him until if/when he stopped tweeting literal and figurative baby crap.  He texted me a few hours later, "OMG!!! I had no idea it was doing that!!!"  It turns out the iPhone app he bought to track baby crap (and did I mention breastfeeding?) asked for his Twitter ID and he thought he'd be able to pick which entries to tweet - smiling, rolling over, etc.  He was so mortified over what happened that he logged into Twitter and deleted all of those posts before I even had a chance to get a screenshot to mock him with later!

Needless to say, Matthew turned off the auto-tweet and I followed him again.  And I scored an invite to the hospital.  How could I say no?  So I brought lunch (I still suspect that's why I was invited. though the smooth "will you stop on your way?" was pretty classic) and held the baby, heard the story of how she was born and doled out some assvice (no, she doesn't need a Black Friday TV in her room to turn her brain to pudding; yes, she needs books that aren't on an iPad!) and talked to Cassidy about life.  I also decided to snap a classic self-portrait while I was holding her:

She and I decided that we'd do this every time we see each other. It'll be our thing. Of course, while I was getting this picture just right, Matthew got the best behind-the-scenes picture ever. It's now my Facebook profile picture, though I'm not sure how long I can leave a hospital picture of me with a baby before it just confuses the crap out of everyone I know!

Welcome to the world, little one.  I hope your life is filled with love and happiness.  And don't worry - I'm sure your daddy deleted all of those tweets about poop before the Library of Congress had the chance to archive them!

10 November, 2011

The Cowardly Blogger

A few days before my twenty-second birthday, I found myself in a date rape situation.  A bad combination of a recently prescribed antidepressant and a few shots of vodka with a girlfriend and two guys that I trusted resulted in a night that to this very day I can only remember in very short flashes. 

I'm not going to share the details of the night, because they're not important anymore.  But I did want to tell you what happened in the following days.  The next morning, I woke up in my own bed in my dad's apartment undressed from the waist down.  I walked over to my girlfriend's apartment to check on her because I genuinely believed at that point I'd been drugged.  We had coffee and I eventually went home to shower and go to work.  I ran into him in the cafeteria at lunchtime and when I asked him what happened he lied to me.  When I called him out on his lie, he back-tracked and lied again in a different direction.  I stopped listening.  After work, I called my ex - the one person around me I thought could point me in the right direction - and we went out to dinner.  He expected to hear a story about some silly boy troubles.  When I told him what happened, he turned six shades of white and was the first one to say the "R"-word.

The next morning, after the girlfriend and I went to the apartment gym to jog on the treadmill and talk things through, I called my mom and told her.  Then I went home and told my dad.  The rest of the day was sort of a blur of witness statements, interviews, a pelvic exam, and uncomfortable drives.

I didn't want to press charges.  The guy had a young kid and I couldn't bear the idea of the kid losing his dad, or the dad losing his job, because of me.  I only wanted to tell my story in case it happened to someone else; maybe that person would have a stronger case. 

They said it didn't work like that.

While trying to verify the name I had given them, they found a mug shot and showed it to me.  It was the same guy, a few years earlier, charged with domestic battery.  There's nothing quite so jarring as seeing the mug shot of someone you once viewed as a potential boyfriend and finding out the guy has a history of (at the very least) disrespecting women. 

So I pressed charges. 

As it so often happens, it turns out I went through all of that only to be on the wrong side of a very weak he-said-she-said situation.  After the detective spoke with both of us, he was never even charged.  I wasn't surprised.  To this day, I sometimes question whether I was more responsible for his actions than I believed at the time.  Obviously the guy was a scumbag, and in retrospect I missed some pretty obvious tells.  Plus, I'm the one who didn't bother reading the alcohol warning on my prescription pills.

Anyway, why bring all this up now?  Well, the same quote keeps coming up in the comments on stories about the Penn State incidents: "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."  Today I came across stories of multiple survivors of childhood sexual abuse who say that the acts against them were witnessed, and that the other adult did not intervene.

And while it's easy to point the finger at everyone who looked the other way and say "I would have intervened/called 911/beat the shit out of the guy," I wonder how many people really would have done any of those things.  Doing the right thing is hard. Had it not been for one strong voice of reason in my life, I doubt I would have even reported an attack against me

I lack courage.  There are a lot of points in my life I could point to and say not just "I should have handled that differently," but simply "I should have handled that."  (If that movie "Defending Your Life" is real, I am definitely coming back to Earth the next time around!)  I have seen so many wrongs in my life and I don't think I've ever really stood up to any of them.  The job Scott has?  I never even pursued that career path because I didn't think I could handle people being fired or arrested because I caught them doing something wrong.  I knew I'd blame myself.

But in place of courage, I've got an amazing ability to see the good where others don't.  I think that people deserve a second chance.  And I'd like to believe that Joe, misguided though he was, thought his friend of half a lifetime deserved a second chance.  And until I hear something that changes my mind, I'm going to continue to believe that his legacy, while obviously tarnished, still shows a man deserving of the respect of the Penn State community.   Let's not forget that that quote involves "good men."  I'm not ready to give up on the idea that Joe is, for the most part, a good man.

Of course, the story seems to keep getting worse.  If he was part of a cover-up that spanned three decades in order to save the University (or himself) from embarrassment... if he really did know about the allegations and continued to let Sandusky bring children to University-sponsored events... then maybe he wasn't a good man after all.  But right now, as someone who knows how hard it is to report a crime - to stand up and say to a friend "what you did is NOT okay" - I'm going to continue to believe the best of him a little while longer.

09 November, 2011


Photo Credit
It's been a rough week for the Penn State faithful, myself included.  Rocked by scandal, we're seeing the reputation of our University tarnishing before our eyes.  We're seeing a house-cleaning of the administration that's likely to claim more before it's finished.  And we're seeing an unprecedented amount of hatred aimed at everything our school stands for.  In short, I has a sad.

Assuming that the allegations against Jerry Sandusky are true, there was a monster in our midst and none of us knew it.  Assuming the reports are correct, Sandusky was caught doing horrible things to children at least twice by Penn State employees on the Penn State campus and the University failed to investigate. And now an attempt by the University to look the other way and pretend that nothing bad had happened has backfired in a way that none of those involved had anticipated.

This is probably a good time for me to make abundantly clear that I find Sandusky's alleged behavior disgusting and deplorable.  There is nothing ok about using your position of power and authority to abuse children.  There is nothing ok about a sexual predator being allowed to continue work with at-risk youth after the first allegation was raised.

And while I am sickened by Jerry Sandusky's decades of abuse, I find myself sad that Joe Paterno's career is ending because he only did what he had to and not what he should have done.  Because Joe didn't stand up to his boss and his boss's boss based on the word of a graduate assistant, his entire legacy is tarnished. 

Let's remember that Joe did not commit a crime. Frankly, if the coach at a school like Miami or Auburn found himself in the exact same situation, no one would be rounding up a lynch mob or even raising an eyebrow. Joe's big crime here is not living up to his own high standards.

And to those like Piers Morgan who think that Joe doesn't deserve to be remembered as anything but "a guy who helped cover up sickening child abuse," I ask you to consider whether you think you should be remembered by your biggest mistake.  Do you think you should be forced out of a job you have done (and done well) for most of your life because you went along with the decisions of the person responsible for your employment? Have you ever looked back and thought, "yeah, I could have handled _____ better. I'm glad I got a second chance?"
Unfortunately, Penn State's failure to act in the first place changed the story from "former PSU assistant coach abused a child" to "Penn State Sex Scandal Cover-Up Involves Coach, Administration." I think Joe's decision to retire is what's best for the University community at this point.  I think that Graham Spanier, Mike McQueary (who, amazingly, is exactly as "guilty" as Joe and possibly more considering he parlayed an assistant job to a coaching job at the exact time of these allegations), and whomever was running The Second Mile nine years ago should step down.   

In the statement he released today, Joe said:

“I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case. I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief...

This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."

To me as a once and future Penn State student, Joe Paterno will always be more than just a football coach with a lot of wins. He'll be the man whose personal donations doubled the size of the Penn State library. He'll be a class act - the coach with higher standards of conduct than anyone else coaching today. He'll be the ultimate Penn Stater. He's larger than life...a living legend.  He is Penn State.