Sunday, September 8, 2013

Where, Oh Where, Has My Little Kat Gone?

A blog post!  I'm writing a blog post for the first time, in, like, 3 months!!!  Can I get a woot woot?

Where have I been and what have I been doing, you might ask?  (Please...ASK, or this will be really short.)  Since we last spoke, my life has been a series of magical, mystical, wonderful opportunities and wacky adventures, such as the internet has never known.  Fasten your seatbelts, folks:

NEWSFLASH 1 - In a few short weeks, I will become MRS. THOR!  I know, right!  Can you frickin' believe it??!!  Thor and I are getting married in early October, and then we're going to HAWAII, BABY! 

NEWSFLASH 2 - My youngest, The Boy, has decided to live with his father for this school year.  Yes, it's 150 miles away. Yes, I miss him horribly.  Yes, I feel like a rather substantial chunk of my soul has been torn out.  However, at this stage in his life, I think it's actually a good decision for him.  I can't even TELL YOU how much I owe to Allana Pratt, my life coach, for getting me through this - for making this about empowering my son to make decisions, and for NOT making this about me and what I want.

NEWSFLASH 3 - After 3 1/2 years, I'm a little over the blogging thing.  I don't mean that I'm never blogging again; far from it.  I will probably be increasing my blog posts substantially after I get back from my honeymoon. THAT WOULD BE IN FREAKIN' HAWAII, BABY!  Anyhow, what I mean is, for my newest project, I'm not going to blog about it.  I'm going all "super legit real grown-up writer" on it, and I'm writing a book.  I won't be writing about it for you as it happens.  Instead, I'll be using my blog time to sharpening my writing skills, to complete my fear-facing checklist, and to keep on with restaurant reviews.  (This assumes that once I become Mrs. Thor, we still go out to dinner.)

I've tried the "write a blog then turn it into a book when you are done" thing.  It did NOT go well.  Admittedly, the one I tried to do it with was my Robert Downey blog, and that was one of the worst years of my life....I wasn't Jonesing to relive all that bullshit.  I thought I could; I did it for, oh, 36 hours and decided that moving on with my life and having a healthy mind was more important than selling tens of books.

I didn't come to this decision lightly, or quickly, for that matter.  I ruminated over it for a couple months before it occurred to me that I actually have a normal, healthy relationship with a member of the opposite sex for the first time in my life, and HE could offer ME some insight and advice!!  Who knew that's how it worked?  So I hashed it out with Thor.  Do I blog my project?  Do I not?  Do I just dump it all?  How many more "anonymous" comments from douchebags do I really need in my life?  He summed it up in a nice, tidy Thor package with this sentence:

"Are you a blogger, or are you a writer?"

So there you have it.

NEWSFLASH 4 -  I've got a book project.  It's a "Kat does something she's never done"-type project, and I started on September 1.  A few people in my inner circle know about it.  But here's the kicker - I don't know if I'm supposed to TELL people about it.  When I blogged, the project du jour was live - you heard about it as each milestone was reached.  But now...I don't know how this part works.  Do I advertise it to the world?  I need a real memoir writer to tell me what to do here.  Gawd I wish AJ Jacobs read my blog.

I know that a real writer does read my blog.  So, calling CHELSEA CAIN, NY TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR - who put on her Facebook page that I'M HER FAVORITE BLOGGER - what do I do?  Do I tell everyone, or do I keep in on the down low?

And now we wait....

After 4 newsflashes, I think you are pretty much up to speed. I'm excited (as usual) to start this new phase.  I'm excited (as usual) to see what direction these blog posts take.  I'm excited (not as usual) to get married. 

By the way, dearest reader - you are welcome to leave your vote on the "tell or not tell about the project" question.  I cherish all input, even from sources other than CHELSEA CAIN, NY TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR, WHO SAYS I'M HER FAVORITE BLOGGER AND ONCE WROTE A LIFE-CHANGING NOTE IN MY BOOK THAT SHE AUTOGRAPHED FOR ME. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

My Penmanship Is Awesome.

So, when was the last time you wrote something in cursive?  I mean, besides signing your name on your grandma's birthday card.  When was the last time you actually wrote out entire sentences in cursive, real cursive, not some bastard form of cursive/printing?  Come to think of it - when was the last time you wrote an actual full sentence that didn't involve a computer? 

Ah, the age of computers.  The clicky little keyboard has completely destroyed our ability to write with a pen and paper.  Our penmanship has been denuded, deforested; our ability to communicate now precariously perched on a flimsy technological branch, which, while incredibly fast and convenient, requires only a slightly distracted driver smashing into a power box 2 miles away to send us crashing to the ground like an aged spotted owl. 

You can't remember how to actually write in cursive?  Shame on you.  But, alas, I was rapidly forgetting it, myself.  So I decided to conquer my fear of my horrific south-pawed scribbling and re-learn cursive writing.

I went to The Best Place on Earth and bought this book:

I tried not to be offended by the notion that its target audience is the average American 2nd grader.  When I was in the 2nd grade, I had like a 10th grade reading level.  So I figure, now I'm an adult - I'm entitled to regress.

As you know my fondness for the writer's greatest crutch, the Bullet List, I offer to you:

What Kat Learned While Practicing Her Cursive

1.  For all you purists out there who are freaking out about how they aren't teaching cursive in school anymore, and how it's certain to cause the downfall of Western civilization and a spike in teenage pregnancy - you need to know that they don't make the letters like they did when we were a kid, so that ideal you are so vehemently defending no longer exists anyway.  For example, check out the capital Z, and my complete inability to form it:


Everybody knows the capital Z has loopy loops in it.  According to the obviously ill-educated drafters of this workbook, there are no loopy loops.  In fact, you will be nauseated to learn that the loopy loops which used to precede the formation of almost every capital cursive letter have gone the way of the 8-track.  (Both losses equally tragic, in my humble opinion.)  Being rather, uh, inflexible - I stuck with loopy loops.

2.  The secret to effective cursive writing is...wait for it...letter spacing.  You can still form your letters like you just picked up a pen for the first time 15 seconds ago, if you spread your letters far enough apart.  Look at how nicely I wrote "see" and "sing".  I didn't remotely form the letters correctly, but they are spaced far enough apart so as to make them legible.
3.  What you use to write with makes a HUGE difference.  After trying pencils, ball-point pens, felt-tip pens, and fountain pens, I have to say - fountain pens win, followed closely by pencils.  Ball-points skip around, and felt-tips wear out too fast.  I personally write with disposable fountain pens and have for a few years.  I use them at work because a) they have a great ink flow; and b) people who come into my office and grab my fountain pen to make a "quick note" will drop it like it's Snoop, because they don't have a clue how they work - and I hate it when people touch my pens.  Win-win.
4.  When you sit in the break room at work with a cursive workbook and write capital S's during your lunch hour, your coworkers tend to shy away from you.  Permanently.
Here are the fruits of my labor.  I think my penmanship has, in fact, improved.  What do you think?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Puh-KEW Puh-KEW Puh-KEW!!

Yes, I'm still alive.  In fact, I'm alive, well, and sitting in Thor's living room, typing away on his desktop pc.  (He still has one of those...isn't that CUTE!) 

What have I been doing, you ask?  Where have I been hiding?  What wacky adventures have filled my waking hours? 

You noticed I was gone, right?

So, here's the sitch.  My much-maligned laptop was freaking out on me, so my computer expert son and I decided to switch computers.  (He is an "expert" by virtue of the fact that he's 14, and I'm 43.)  He took my laptop, restored it, and happily went on his way with my enhanced graphics card.  In turn, I received HIS more basic, restored laptop, which should have had me happily blogging.


So, his laptop lasted, oh, 10 minutes before it completely died.  At this point, I don't even think it will boot up in safe mode.  I did have the option of taking my laptop back, at least long enough to pound out a blog post, but then I got sick.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I GOT SICK.  I NEVER, EVER, EVER GET SICK.  Well, hardly ever.  Maybe once a year, and only for maybe 48 hours.  But this time, dearest reader, I was sick for four days, and hacking like the Marlboro Man for 2 more after that.  THEN The Boy left for the summer, taking said functional laptop with him.

I love you all - more than you know - but drafting an 800-word blog post on a Kindle with one finger...not my idea of a good time.  So I took a little break, got my proverbial act together, and badda bing, badda boom, here we are.

I have a review pending for you - the Italian Kitchen Restaurant.  However, I personally think in the interest of fairness, that Thor and I should go back there and re-do the experience so that I can give you a fresh perspective.  That, and the restaurant was freakin' amazing.  So that gives me an excuse to get another smokin' yummy meal.  I brought this up to Thor last night, and he gave me the usual skeptical brow raise.  I climbed up on my blogger soapbox and proceeded to preach a fire-and-brimstone sermon about fairness, the integrity of the project, and my driving need for constant and never-ending improvement.  At that point, skeptical morphed into sardonic.

"That place wasn't cheap."

I reassured Thor that we don't have to go again anytime SOON, as we still have 115+ places to go.  So there you have it, dearest reader.  The Italian Kitchen goes back into the mix.

So back to what I wanted to talk to you about.  I wanted to tell you my theory about why I rarely get sick.  It's my brain.  I have a germ-repellent, disease-killing brain.

I was just trying to remember the last time I took a prescription.  In the last 10 years, I recall taking 1 prescription pill.  Not 1 PRESCRIPTION, just 1 single pill.  Then I felt better.  So I didn't take any more.  I take over the counter stuff, but I rarely go to the doctor.  I haven't taken a round of antibiotics since the last century.   Instead, I activate my germ-slaughtering brain laser.  Seriously.

When I feel a cold coming on, or any other state of germy nastiness, I follow this process and I get better.  I get comfortable, I close my eyes, and I picture in my mind the white blood cells in my body attacking whatever intruder has dared to invade Katland.  The whole thing looks like a game of Asteroids, with my germ fighters blasting off rockets at the virus cells - Puh-KEW Puh-KEW Puh-KEW.  I even imagine the sound.  I picture my cells defeating the sickness and strengthening my body until I am well.  I always figured, what's it going to hurt?

"So, Kat, you just said you were sick for 4 days!  Where were your magic lasers at THIS time??!!", you mockingly inquire?  Well, I am convinced that my sickness hung around for extra days this time because I've been eating like a 14-year old boy.  You see, at my new job, my boss gives me all the prepackaged food I can eat, all day long.  Massive amounts of processed crap.  I am attempting to learn my lesson, and have since been incorporating more fresh, raw stuff into my diet.  Guess what - my skin is clearing up, I feel better, I anticipate my pants will get a little looser again, and I'm in a better mood.  (Thor can chime in here to confirm if he likes.)   You can't expect your Porsche to purr when you feed it gas from Circle K. And just let me point out that everyone I gave my cold TO is pretty much still phlegmy and coughing. 

Laugh at my germ-slaughtering laser brain if you must, dearest reader.  Laughing will give you something to do to pass the time when you are in line at the drug store getting your Amoxicillin refill.  You won't see me there; I'll be having an awards ceremony for my triumphant immune system, a la the last scene in Star Wars.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Where Is My Typewriter?

My sincerest apologies to all affected by my recent absence; in particular, The Italian Kitchen, whom I visited last week and have yet to post my review.  My laptop has, well, decided that it wants to pursue a new life in the non-electronic world (meaning I think it might be dead), and typing a blog post on a Kindle really sucks.   Anyhow, please forgive our technical difficulties.  I think I am back up and running now.  Please re-bate your breath and come back on Friday for my review.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Eating Spokane - Max at Mirabeau

On the menu: 

Kat:  Roasted Portabello & Mozzarella on Ciabatta
       Onions, peppers, roasted red pepper coulis, jicama-apple slaw

Brandy:  Dungeness Crab & Asparagus Melt
       Parmesan, artisan sourdough, red pepper coulis, julienne fries

 My oldest daughter texted me the other day and offered to take me out to dinner for Mother’s Day.  Now, isn’t she just the sweetest little thing?  The catch – we have to go someplace in The Book, and she doesn’t want to have to pay for parking.  Hey, she’s 21 and working part-time; who can blame her?  So she came out to the Valley and we went to Max at Mirabeau.

 Max at Mirabeau is located in the Mirabeau Park Hotel, and has tons of free parking.  (Hey, it just occurred to me – I DROVE, so why was she so freaked about shelling out cash for parking?)   Anyhow, the recipe in The Book was Peanut Butter Pie, featuring a peanut butter brittle base and a chocolate truffle top.  I was wondering how small of a salad I could order and consume to constitute having “eaten dinner” so that I could go straight to the pie, when I realized that I am an adult, and if I want pie for dinner, so be it. I do adore all things peanut butter.

I am going to be honest with you – I didn’t have high hopes for Max overall.  It is, after all, a hotel restaurant.  I’ve never had much luck with those, having been subjected to the typical “well, you are staying here, so we’ll offer you some average food, it’s not like you are in the mood to leave the building anyway and hassle with driving around town” hotel restaurant.  Had the place not been in The Book, I don’t think I would have ever stopped there.  Well, guess what, dearest reader.  My assumptions were mistaken.  It was great.

The décor had a semi-noir, semi-funky feel to it, without being too precious.  The bar was open to the rest of the restaurant, freeing it from the usual “dungeon” feeling you get when going into a bar that’s part of a hotel.  Once we were seated, I talked to the manager on duty about our little project.  She had never heard of The Book, and made a point of writing the name down. 

 I decided on the Portabello & Mozzarella on Ciabatta with jicama-apple slaw.  If you are looking for a go-to sandwich for lunch or a light dinner, I would say – this is it.  The portabello was well-prepared, not grilled to the point of mushroom death.  But let me tell you the little gem of this entire excursion – THE JICAMA-APPLE SLAW.  Jicama, for those of you who haven’t actually experienced it, has the consistency of raw potato, and to me it tastes like crunchy water.  By itself, jicama is not an impressive vegetable, but pairs nicely with a great many things.  In this case, Granny Smith apples.  The expected crunch from the jicama, followed by the unexpected jolt of tartness from the fresh apples, was over the top. As much as I enjoyed the sandwich, the slaw was the star.  A very attentive manager came over to check on us, and I remarked how out of bounds the slaw was.  She smiled and nodded, obviously having heard this comment repeated over and over during the course of her week.

 I wish, dearest reader, that I could tell you more about my daughter’s meal.  I put herculean effort into wheedling a review out of her.  Here’s what I got:

Kat:  Brandy, how is your sandwich?

Brandy:  It’s good.

Kat:  How about the grilled asparagus?

Brandy:  Yeah, that’s good.

Kat:  I really like asparagus.  It’s easy to overcook, so when it’s done right, it’s wonderful.

Brandy:  Yeah.

Kat:  So how about your fries?

Brandy:  They’re good.

Are you feeling my pain?  Suffice it to say, the crab and asparagus melt was “good”.  That’s all you are getting, dearest reader.

My daughter paid the check, like the big girl she is, and we departed.  I was a little wistful that I missed out on peanut butter pie; but, as I drifted off to sleep that night, my dreams were filled with visions of jicama-apple slaw, and I woke up to see all was well with the world.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Eating Spokane - Das Stein Haus

So, on Monday, I get a text from Thor.  “Dinner tonight?  No, wait.  Make it Tuesday.  Pick someplace from The Book.”  Tuesday, being the last day of the month, is a one-way ticket to Overtime Land in Kat’s world; we settled on Wednesday.  Thus began our adventure.

I grabbed The Book and gave its pages a cursory flip.  It was all just a formality, however – I had decided weeks ago that the first place we visit would be Das Stein Haus.   How ever did I decide, you may wonder.  Tea leaves?  A dream?  A serious Jonesing for German food? 

I had a coupon.  Case closed.

I started announcing my intention to go to Das Stein Haus to all within earshot on Monday afternoon (including the UPS Man and some lady I happened to be washing hands with in the ladies’ room).  By Wednesday morning, I had added “I’m STARVING” and “I can’t wait to eat German food” and, oh, “I’m STAAAARVING”!!!!!!  At 1:00, I was still getting little nods and smiles from the group, which seemed to become more curt as the day progressed.  By 5:30, they were replaced by the general response – “IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, GO EAT ALREADY!!!”  So I did.

Since this is the coronation of a 120-restaurant series, a few ground rules.

“Eating Spokane” Rules

1.       The purpose of this project is to experience Spokane’s restaurants and spend time with Thor.  I am NOT a food critic.  If I eat something amazing, you will hear about it.  If it’s just okay, or maybe a little less than okay – well, I’m not a food critic.  I have no desire to trash any local restaurant.

2.       The book we are using, “Signature Tastes of Spokane”, is first and foremost a cookbook, featuring a dish from each of these fine establishments, which you may prepare at home to your little heart’s delight.  Either Thor or I will order the dish in the book whenever possible.

3.       I will tell the manager on duty up front that Thor and I are there to enjoy their place and will be featuring it here in cyberspace.

4.       That’s pretty much it.

So, back to Das Stein Haus.  The restaurant is located at 1812 W Francis, in a strip mall that we inadvertently drove by before we found it.  Since a large portion of Francis was completely torn up and closed, and there was a wreck on the freeway, it took us, like, 45 minutes to get there.  Did I mention I was STAAAAARVING?

Our waitress had a sense of humor that would only be considered excessive in, well, Germany.  There she is Bobcat Goldthwaite.  In Spokane, she’s deadpan and quirky.   Kudos to our waitress, she was honestly my favorite part of the experience.

Thor ventured boldly into The Project and ordered the featured meal from the Book, Pork Medallions with Apple Brandy Sauce.  He had a choice of vegetable, and as my dearest love would never VOLUNTARILY eat any vegetable – I picked red cabbage on his behalf so I could eat it.  I ordered the German Combination Platter, which consisted of Chicken Schnitzel, 3 kinds of Bratwurst, Sauerkraut, and Spatzle.   For those of you who are unfamiliar with anything “schnitzel,” it’s basically breading and frying meat which has been pounded to a thin layer…the German version of a chicken-fried steak, as Thor so aptly pointed out.

As we waited for our food, we passed the time by soaking in the Bavarian décor and discussing Book 4 of the Game of Thrones series.  After passing on the opportunity to blow the wrapper off his straw at me, Thor instead rolled it into little balls and tried to toss them down the front of my shirt.  Side note, when I got home that night and put on my jammies, my bathroom floor looked like a spitball war zone.  A prime example of how classy the two of us really mature urbanites are when you get us out in public.

Our food arrived; I ate about half and decided I was too stuffed to move on.  I’m not much for brats, but we were in a German place, so I tried them.  Thor took them home.  (Another side note -at this point, I’m really hoping he remembered to take them out of his car.)  The best part?  THE RED CABBAGE.  OMG, the cabbage was wonderful.   I could have just eaten a plate of cabbage.  Really, dearest reader – I’m single, I live with a dog and a teenager, nobody will judge me in the, er, aftermath of such a meal.

Our waitress, again a seriously funny sort, brought us a slice of apple strudel to take home, as we had a pretty long wait for our food.  I ate half of it about 30 seconds after Thor dropped me off; The Boy picked at the other half.   Thor made this sort-of sad little face when I took the strudel out of the take-home bag, which I pretended not to notice.  I am, after all, the girl, and dessert is my birthright. 

Clever Waitress was also kind enough to take a picture of us, which has a definite Monet feeling to it.  As we (meaning Thor) paid the check, she told us all about the restaurant’s upcoming events…hello, they have GERMAN KARAOKE.  My response – “Well, that sounds like fun!”  Thor looked like he’d rather go back to the table and polish off the cabbage.  Different strokes, he and I.


One little disclaimer – the rules, as stated above, were still being formulated over the dinner table (between the book discussion and straw wrapper spitballs), and so I didn’t tell the staff up-front what I was doing in their establishment until it was time to go. 

 Das Stein Haus.  If any of you are up for a rousing rendition of “Rock Me Amadeus” and a plate of cabbage, just let me know, I’m totally in.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Kat's Bad Day

I wish I could say “It all started when … (insert appropriate bad scenario here).  But it didn’t.  Truth be told, my bad day started DAYS earlier, rolling and festering into the massive pile of putridity known as “Thursday.”  Issues at work…feeling under the weather, but never actually getting sick so that I could actually GET BETTER…dentist appointments…building upon each other, beating me down, wearing away my shell, generally making me cranky.  By 5:30 on Thursday, I’d had ENOUGH.  So I did what any self-respecting sex goddess would do.  I hit the drive-through at Krispy Kreme.

It’s 2 miles from Krispy Kreme to my apartment, but that certainly isn’t going to stop me from immediately opening that white box. It held The Boy’s favorite – chocolate covered Kreme filled.  (yes, I know ‘cream’ is spelled with a “c” and an “a”, but they don’t.)  And nestled right in there next to his – a powdered sugar-covered, strawberry filled.  That’s Kat’s right there.

Left hand on the wheel, right hand sliding into the box, I pondered my crap week.  As I approached a red light, my elbow bent, my powdered-sugar doughnut balanced on my slender fingertips, I wrestled with the great mysteries of life.  Am I truly happy?  Am I content?  Am I using my life, my skill set, my desires to their fullest extent?  Blue eyes searched the horizon as my mind stretched for some far-off, unseen answer.  The human side of me noticed that the car’s interior was a little stuffy as the afternoon sun beat through my windshield.  As the light changed to green, my foot slid from the brake as my left hand crossed over and turned the air vent on.

There are a certain few times in your life when you find yourself ensconced in a situation you don’t  fully understand; all you know is, for the sake of your survival, you must take action IMMEDIATELY.  I’m talking about that little adrenalin-fueled mental rush when something has just happened – maybe even something really painful – when the consequences of said action haven’t fully registered with you, but your body takes action on behalf of your muddled brain.  You touch a hot stove, for example – you pull your hand away before the pain of the burn has even registered.  It was such a moment in my car on that day we will call “Thursday.”

There was air.  There was powdered sugar.  All my brain knew was, I was being SANDBLASTED by powdered sugar and action must be taken.  As my face was assailed by silky powdered air blasting my face, my mouth making a “pbbt pbbbt pbbt” noise like an outboard motor the first time you fire it up in the Spring, my evolved mind snapped through a series of possibilities.   Do I lift the doughnut out of the stream of air?  Do I take my left hand off the wheel again and turn the air off?  Is the guy who was sitting next to me at the light laughing at me?  Do I flip him off?

Within, oh, 2 minutes or so, my firefighter training shifted into gear and took control of the situation.  I put the doughnut back on the box, shut off the air, and hit the gas.  I couldn’t bear to look until I pulled into my parking space in front of my apartment.

A quick mirror assessment revealed that I was covered in powdered sugar from my nose to my waist. Oh, and I don’t mean in that “I just ate a powdered-sugar doughnut and I got a few sprinkles on me, aren’t I cute” way.  I mean in a “I just opened a cocaine brick and dumped it all over myself” way.  Irritation gave way to foreboding as my eyes drifted over to my doughnut.  It looked like a plucked chicken, oozing its strawberry gizzards all over the half-closed box lid.  Every non-microscopic particle of powdered sugar had been gusted away and unceremoniously deposited onto my sweater.  I don’t know which one of us was more ashamed.  To put it out of its misery, I shoved the denuded pastry into my mouth.  Three bites and one of us was dispatched.
I didn’t bother dusting off my sweater before I went in the house; the sheer volume of powdered sugar made that endeavor pointless.  In his excitement over the appearance of the coveted box, The Boy didn’t even notice my condition.   I made dinner, I took a bath, I went to bed, disgusted with the world in general.

Then – guess what?  Friday rocked.  The rockage of said Friday to be written about very soon. 

Next time – maple bar.