Friday, April 29

Cheddar makes it better

This also could have been titled "What happens when I have a harrowing, haggard week, and my PMS forms an alternate identity and decides to sit down with a glass of wine and write a guest post on my blog. Rawr."

Yup. This week has been disastrously stressful for not only me, but everyone I'm really close to as well.

You know what make makes it allll better?


It's time for another recipe post, amigos.
You're gonna want to bookmark this babaaay.
AKA Broccoli Cheddar Soup.
Makes about 8 cups (1 regrettably large serving)
  • 2 cups diced celery (about 4 stalks)
  • 1 medium or large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, finely grated
  • 3 tablespoons butter or veggie oil
  • generous amounts of salt & pepper
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch (or sub 1 cup flour if you reeeally have to, and double the amount of butter/veggie oil)
  • 2 cups half & half
  • 3 to 4 cups veggie broth (depending on how thick you want it)
  • 1 lb chopped broccoli (frozen or fresh)
  • 12 oz. cheddar cheese (the sharper the better)

1) Begin by chopping out your angst on the veggies. DIE, celery, DIE, into tiny little chunks.
...Watch your fingers.
Look at how HEALTHY we are! *patting myself on the back
2) Turn the stove on medium-high, and melt the butter (in the bottom of a large  cooking pot. Toss in the veggies, lots of black pepper, and enjoy the satisfying sizzle. Saute for about 5 minutes.

3) Remove from heat, and add the corn starch gradually while stirring.

4) This is where it starts getting exciting (i.e. the calories go through the roof). Turn the burner back up to medium, put the pot back on it, and add the half & half and the veggie broth.

There will be some cornstarch-butter business coating the bottom of the pan. Make sure to scrape this off, or it will burn and make the entire soup taste like DEVASTATING TRAGEDY.

5a) Let it cook & thicken for 25 minutes. Check back every ten minutes or so to stir it & scrape the bottom (just in case). If it's starting to boil & froth at the top, turn it down a few notches.
salt meeeeeee

5b) While you stir it: add salt, stir, taste, & repeat. Basically, add salt until it tastes as good as it smells. This will be a scary amount of salt. That's okay.

Try not to "taste" the entire pot away. (Because then you have to eat the broccoli all by itself and that's just not as fun.)

6) Add the broccoli & cook for about 10 minutes, until it's unfrozen/cooked to softness.

7) Meanwhile, find something really distracting to do because it smells AWESOME by now.

Oh HEY! You have some cheese to grate, don't you? Grate it. Aaand I listed 2 extra ounces in the ingredient list so you can snack a bit. You are so welcome.

"Cheese Mountain." Also could have been the name of my blog. 'Cause I'm so cheesy. PAAAhahaha. Ha.
8) Mix in the cheese until it melts.

9) Happy weekend.

Anybody else have a super weird week?
What are you doing to shake it off?

Monday, April 25

Social Media Monkey

The mister & I are pretty awful about keeping in touch with friends. We'd quickly wither away as creepy hermits if we didn't have such awesome (read: persistent) friends. In fact, we'd probably have our own creole language in about two years.
Some common phrases in the Matthews(er) household. (SO... maybe less than two years on that creole.)

Both Jason & I are those weirdos who initially seem shy-- and then friends get to know us, and they're like, "How do you manage to keep all this crazy bottled up all the time?"

As for Jason? I DON'T KNOW. (& in the meantime, the crazy just brews itself stronger & stronger every day like those percolating coffee gizmos.)*
*(It leaks out in the form of that wild curly hair, I guess.)

As for me? I DON'T keep it it bottled up-- at least not within the endless, uninhibiting funpark called the 'internet.' Friend me on Facebook and I might just overwhelm you with my prolific thumbs-upping voracity.

But today? Today... I hit a desperate new low of social media overload.

I'm trained. They trained me.

I hit [SHIFT]+[ENTER] to start a new line in an email.

Remember when Facebook implemented this new commenting system? I didn't deal with it well at first:
Oh, the futile irony of ranting about Facebook... on Facebook.

The F-Book developers gave us a little grace period, when the [SHIFT]+[ENTER] instructions magically appeared below the comment form. And then, just as we were getting the hang of it, they disappeared.

I formed a far-fetched theory that I hoped would prove false. I logged onto Jason's semi-abandoned facebook account, and LO AND BEHOLD, the instructions were still there.

The F-Book was counting, on AN INDIVIDUAL BASIS, how many comments we left before they removed their little training-wheel instructions.

I'm tempted to go back to the sad little ghost town that is MySpace.

Just me & you, Tom.
Prepare yourself for the full brunt of the crazy.

Friday, April 22

What happens when my mom drinks Yerba Mate.

Holy moley, are you guys in for a treat today.

I've been waiting for an excuse to post The Funniest Email I've Ever Gotten (from the Mama Bear herself) and now that it's her birthday, I can finally justify it.

...she may or may not have consented to me publishing this.

Meh. Bygones.

So here's the backstory to this crazy email of hers:
  • I had just emailed her about my phone not working because she hadn't payed the bills yet. (Spoiled brat, I know...! At least I wasn't married at this point yet?)
  • She is a life-long coffee addict. She brews that s#!t stronger than espresso and drinks 5 cups a day.

Without further ado, you all can now catch a glimpse of where I "get it from" (and THEN some):

Hi April!
So sorry about the phone malfunction, I think it's really unfair they cut service off just because they don't get any money. 

I've just about had it with that company anyway, always demanding money for sound waves and pieces of plastic that just annoy the heck out of you anyway (except of course when I call). I'm sure they will come to their senses before too long and let us use the service for free, but until then I guess I will play their stupid little game!!!

Kelsey and I went to see "Jumper" last night.  It was pretty good but the camera was truly "jumpy" and I felt dizzy, like I'd been on a rollercoaster!  We just threw up in the popcorn bags, though, so it was all good.

I hope you are sitting down right now, because I have some AMAZING NEWS.  Ready?  You're sitting down right?  Read this slowly, because it may be too much to take in initially.....

I     have      stopped           drinking                       coffee.

Are you okay?  Wake up, wake up!!!!  Jason, get her off the floor!!!!  

I have switched to Yerba Mate, a tea that is popular in Costa Rica.  It is supposed to give you energy without the jitters (but what if you like the jitters? just kidding, kind of). 

You probably think that I switched to Yerba Mate because I've been sick and throwing up, but actually I did it because of the obvious health benefits, AND because I was easily able to make the adjustment based on the diligent dedication to more evolving alternative lifestyle which I have embraced wholeheartedly. 

Dad, Kelsey and I are also bucking the system and have decided to be the pioneers of the Clothing-Optional Lifestyle, both at home and at school and work. Kelsey is actually pretty excited about not being a slave to fashion anymore!

You will be surprised how easy it is to get used to when you COME BACK HOME FOR SPRING BREAK!!!  Just think how much less you will have to pack :)

Okay, I'm sorry, I am trying to stop, today is going to be a fun day.

I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                 Lots of Love,

Perhaps I should take a tip from her, and drink a cup of Yerba before every blog post from now on...? 

Happy birthday to my Mom!! She's weird in the most amazing ways and I love her more than the world.

Thursday, April 21

On being an... "Environmentalist?!"

Eight years ago, when Jason & I were just starting to become good friends, we volunteered to put away our high school's track equipment at the end of the season.

17-year-old Jason lifted a sheet of plywood off the turf, revealing an underside caked with grass, dirt, and earthworms writhing in confusion*.
*("But April, they don't have brains!" ...Yeah, yeah.)

A teammate approached the plywood to scrape off the dirt with a sharp, glinting shovel. I dramatically threw my 16-year-old self in his path.

"WAAAAIT!!! The WORMS," I pled, as I started plucking them off of the wood.

Jason, who had done a fairly good job of avoiding "politics" & the like in his seventeen years, looked at me with wonder, fascination, and excitement.

"I've never been friends with an Environmentalist before!"

Ohhh, wee Jason.

It was funny then, and it's even funnier now. But to this day, I wonder if I know what being an environmentalist means. Am I one?

I wholeheartedly believe the sentiment, "Man is merely a strand in the web of life. What he does to it, he does to himself."

Combine that with us humans understanding, maybe, 1% of the global ecosystem and our affects on it-- and hoooo, boy, I get a little nervous.

Yet almost no matter what humans do to the planet, even if we make ourselves extinct, other species will adapt and survive. The new world that we've created will go on without us. We will have done it to ourselves, and that's that.

Sometimes, I honestly think: What does it matter if we kill ourselves off or not? If we go extinct, then we won't be around to be sad about it! Why care?

But as I'm typing this (gosh this is going to sound cliche), I hear kids laughing outside. Really little kids, with happy squeaky voices. And they remind me of yet another hippie bumper-sticker quote:
We don't inherit the Earth from our ancestors,
we borrow it from our children.
Life is wonderful. Earth is wonderful. For goodness' sake, look at this &*^$ ladybug. WONDERFUL.
Nature's propaganda at its finest.
Let's stop poisoning our planet; let's stop poisoning ourselves. We really are, and we really need to knock it off. Let's respect our future generations.

Enjoy celebrating Earth Day tomorrow ♥

P.S. This subject is one of my greatest passions in life. I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on any of the following: 
  • What's your favorite way to not screw up the planet? 
  • What's your stance on conservationism? 
  • What's your favorite way to enjoy nature? 
  • Did you write an Earth Day post, or enjoy someone else's? What's the link?

Let's have a little hippie convention, amigos.
[ladybug photo cred] 

Tuesday, April 19

Rainbow Recap & R-Rated Pictionary

As per the results of last week's Great Thematic Debate (thanks for everyone's input), Rainbow Birthday Party won the cause!
 Click-to-zoom? Highly encouraged.
(Seeing as I don't drink very often, one glass of beer severely disabled my camera skills, and I completely screwed up missed quite a few individual shots-- so here's the whole crew together.)

Check it out-- even the pizza was colorful.

This place wasn't called "Pizza Research Institute" for nothing-- yes, that's a peach slice. Sitting atop curried cauliflower.

After pizza, we spontaneously decided to cram everyone into our tiny apartment, where we did some serious damage on a giant jug of sangria and played Telephone Pictionary.

Telephone Pictionary, without fail, is THE Most Surefire Way to Get a Group of Six or More People into Complete Hysterics. (Yup. It's so official that it overcomes my laziness about hitting the shift key.)

You sit in a circle, and each person has a pad of paper. You write down your initial message-- for example, we chose to write down "song or book titles." Everyone passes their paper to the right, and the next person has to turn to the next page and draw it.

The next person in line must write what they think the drawing is. As it's passed around the circle, you alternate writing and drawing.

It gets screwed up REALLY fast.

Jason wrote down the song "Citizen Soldier" by 3 Doors Down. By the end, it had turned into the COMPLETE opposite. Flip through!

So from Jason's point of view, he wrote "Citizen Soldier" and, 12 turns later, received happy Jesus playing the guitar. Gooood times.

DON'T flip through this next one if you anticipate being offended by slightly censored F-bombs, and cartoonish illustrations of... uh... the aforementioned F-verb.

So, in the end, we had a good time and I highly recommend this game. My abs are still aching two days later.

Not to mention that sitting in our tiny little apartment, listening to the hysterical laughter of twelve of my favorite people, is definitely my idea of a good time.

Friday, April 15

Elevator Music

Happy weekend, amigos!
I've had a fantastically busy week which has been terrible for blogging, but wonderful for, well, LIFE.

Here are a few links that have made me laugh, think, or do a double take:

And one random thought that's puzzled me this week*:
How the heck does Disney make us think one deer is a BOY deer and one deer is a GIRL deer? This fascinates me. Any ideas?
*picture me contemplating this as I stroke my silver chin hair. I named him Gandalf, FYI.

See you on Monday-- my talkative side has been bubbling up and is going to explode allll over this website next week. I have the most appealing way of phrasing things, I know.

Wednesday, April 13

Matthewser Makeover

First of all, I want to thank everybody who's been wishing me a happy birthday! Between facebook and text messages, I feel like I'm in front of some sort of tennis ball launcher that's chucking waterballoons filled with loooove. Truly blown away.

So, THANK YOU, EVERYONE ♥ I'm a lucky lady to have you all.

Aaaand as promised, here's my little present to myself: the new Matthewsers page! Brought to you entirely by kind internet strangers who post HTML tutorials, and my (desperately naive) late night grit and determination:
(click to zoom) least, that's what it should look like. Hopefully.

There were a few blooper reels-- for a while, I thought it would be a genius idea to draw cartoons of us on the sketchbook. After an hour or two of drawing, I got halfway done and decided STRONGLY against it:
(for the record, Jason requested to be upside down)
Can't. Do. It.

Why does it look cool on these guys and cheesy here? I don't know. But I can't bring myself to go through with it.

Here are a few tutorials I found especially easy and valuable:

How to make your post titles and widget titles a custom font.
How to make the top Blogger Navbar invisible until you hover over it.
How to make a custom browser icon (favicon).

And, for old times' sake, a screenshot of the original Matthewsers layout:
I'm sure the chalkboard will return again someday : )

Nothin' to see here...

Just trying to redesign my blog when I don't know a speck of HTML. Hopefully it'll be normal-looking again by noon PST.

Orrrrr, you can check back in every hour and amuse yourself at my little disaster zone.

Friday, April 8

Birthday Battle: Dark Side vs. Rainbows

toughest duck face ever.

Even though my name is April, and I like ducks & bunnies, and my favorite color is white, and I've been called "bubbly" on more than one occasion-- I have a punk rocker side.

(Don't laugh! You'll hurt my inner punk-rocker's feelings.)

So considering this, and my favorite pastime (costume parties), I was thinking:

       pre-birthday-party @ my house
     +washable markers
     +colored hairspray
     +lots of safety pins
     +etc. (copious amounts of etc.)                                                   
       a wonderful excuse to have fake tattoos and
       colored hair for a night

And then this is where I get stumped. Go out to pizza and look ridiculous? Go play on a playground? Go bar-hopping and accidentally end up in the middle of a gang war?


But thennn, I stumbled across this Cup of Jo post:

and became torn with indecision.

Wouldn't it be fun to dress like this and have an Easter egg decorating party? (The ducks & bunnies side of me would have the time of her life.)

So, which shall it be? Decorating eggs or decorating people?
Please help us decide by voting:

And PLEASE don't say, "Whatever you want to do, April, it's your birthday." I am incapable of making heavy adult decisions like these.

Further ideas? Feel free to comment.
(If I only know you via blogging, feel free to chime in as well.)

Wednesday, April 6

Housewifery HOO-rah

I am a terrible housewife. I was never made for this. NEVER. I need direction; I need pressure; I need someone to boss me around.

(I need for any potential employers to erase the previous sentence and the existence of this blog from their memory, and believe I'm a perfectly self-motivated individual with energizer-bunny drive and the focus of a bald eagle with binoculars... who never writes run-on sentences.)

It makes sense that if I don't have a job, and Jason is working his butt off at school, I should be doing an equal amount of work in job-seeking and housewifery, yes?

Job-seeking? Check!
Housewifery? ....

Let's just say, it's so bad that I get aprons as gag gifts. 

Click to zoom. If you dare.

Euphemisms of the past:
Dinner isn't late, it's... suspenseful.

Dinner isn't burnt/completely carcinogenic/could be used as charcoal sticks for caveman drawings, it's... smokey. Or "Cajun?"

And the biohazards in the fridge? Just think of them as biodiversity. Flourishing biodiversity. Perhaps you prefer the term "wildlife?"

As for as the algae growing under the dish drainer, it... 

I just can't euphemize that. I can't. That was the final straw.

Combined with that horrific discovery and the manic-episode-inducing-happy-sunny springtime outside, it's as if someone shot me full of some sort of Crack-Ritalin cocktail.

I'm going through a "This is why I'll never be an adult" cycle, and right now I'm full-on:
This is so amazing that I feel guilty for using it, even when I give Allie credit for it. SOURCE:

Seriously, my hands are chapped from bleach.

Currently working on:
  • Planning this entire week's meals and writing a grocery list for all the ingredients, organized into three different grocery stores, and BY AISLE. I'm serious about the Crack-Ritalin suspicions.
  • Sterilizing/organizing the entire apartment. 
  • Redesigning zee old blog... it's gonna be COOL!
  • Redesigning my professional portfolio-- I'll link you to it once the dust settles.
  • Drawing, & painting, & learning a new architecture design program!
  • Applying for volunteer jobs at animal shelters while I wait to hear back from architecture firms.
  • Taking a shower every day!
  • Planning PARTIES!!!
I'll tell you about them soon. It's exciting. As is FREAKING EVERYTHING right now.

...I hope I don't crash too hard.

P.S. I finally thought of a way to euphemize the algae under the dish drainer: "At least that's ONE houseplant I can keep alive!" Buh-dum-PSHHH.

Monday, April 4

Stalking bees

Nature is on crack right now, and I'm totally getting a second-hand high off of it. I love it.

This weekend was so beautiful I had no choice but to go outside and play with my camera. Nothing like documenting plants in all their flamboyant reproductive glory!

OBSCENE, isn't it?

And then they've got all these bees up in their business:

(Awarding myself 10 points for not saying buzziness.)

Soon I'd become obsessed with photographing bees. This was only made possible with the help of my zoom lens, because bees make me scream like a little girl.

Nothing like being wayyy zoomed in on a little bee, and then having it fly STRAIGHT TOWARDS YOUR FACE and shrieking like a seventh-grader on helium and almost dropping the camera and startling an old couple walking by hand-in-hand.

(Although this artsy abstract shot came from one of those instances:)
One more mouse-eye-view photo just for good measure: 

And since it's started pouring rain in the time it took me to load these photos, looks that will have to do for now. Oh, Oregon.

Friday, April 1

Since we all know what day it is,

and since no one is going to take me seriously today (or any day if you know what's good for you),
I'll just post a picture.
 {from here}

Also, enjoy the new widget to the right!

^^EDIT: Sorry, I took it down after April Fool's Day! It was this : )