Monday, June 20, 2016

End of An Obsession


Breaking my silence to address a stupid issue that shouldn't be one. But first, a little background:

A lot of people don't know this, but I am an extremely high-functioning autistic woman. I have Asperger's, to be precise. I wasn't officially diagnosed until about 7-8 years ago. A then-friend had a less high functioning son and a lot of what she described him experiencing sounded oh so familiar. She had suggested that I might have the same condition, which I took with a grain of salt for reasons I won't go into.

Anyway, I was seeing a therapist for work related stress issues and something made me bring it up. The therapist agreed that I might be on the autism spectrum and sent me to a colleague for testing/evaluation. Yeah, I am. In retrospect it seems like someone should have seen it sooner, but the doctor explained that I probably have been mimicking "normal" behavior most of my life in an effort to be like everyone else. "It wouldn't have worked if you were less intelligent &/or less high functioning. But you got so good at it that it became a way of life for you. To be honest, I'm amazed that you've been able to cope at this level for so long."

I *tried* to share this information with a few select friends & family. The general consensus was that I "let this friend put ideas in my head" and "there's nothing wrong with me." So I generally keep it to myself and try to continue carrying on.

Among my many issues, are the problem that I take things way too seriously & I get obsessed with people/things. (Not to the point of stalking anybody or wanting to kill them if I can't have them, I just get too emotionally invested) I also take things personally that aren't meant to be. Combine all this with the bipolar disorder that I inherited (did I mention that I'm a walking fucking mess?) & you have a recipe for disaster.

So, as you may have seen from other posts (if you've followed me or if you're a FB friend), one of my obsessions in recent years has been the actor Tom Hiddleston. He's British, gorgeous, has a voice like melted sin, and just seemed too good to be true. I loved that he hadn't "gone Hollywood" and wasn't a media whore,constantly promoting himself. Tom came across as a gentleman, a scholar, a compassionate man who did a lot of charitable work without making it seem like he was in it for himself. He was also more or less single, or at least kept his relationships quietly under the radar...until recently...

A few months ago, Tom attended the vulgar display known as the Met Ball Gala. It's one of the most excessive "look at us" celebrity things out there. I was kind of disappointed because I felt he was better than that. Pictures surfaced of him dancing with Taylor Swift- ugh. My uneasy feeling grew stronger. She had a boyfriend at the time, but I just had a feeling...

Sure enough, her relationship ended almost immediately after the ball. And very shortly after that, she & Tom were pictured making out on a beach, traveling together etc. I felt like I'd been stabbed in the heart. Why? Partly because she is known for hopping from guy to guy & writing songs about them when they crash & burn. Her life looks like a carefully crafted series of photo ops designed to keep her in the public eye. It doesn't help that he's hot, career wise, right now and she had largely fallen off the radar except for posting vacation pictures from her 1 year anniversary with her now-ex, until she took up with Tom. I don't know her. I was actually a sort of fan of her music (which I can't bring myself to listen to right now) but I suspect she isn't quite nice girl she makes herself out to be. Doesn't matter, it's none of my business.

Yet...Tom isn't blameless here either. I don't think he chased her, but it just bothers me that he took up with her so soon after her breakup. It made me realize he isn't quite the good guy I wanted him to be. (Again, part of this is my idealizing him, and is not something I can blame him for) It also hammered home the point that I would NEVER have a snowball's chance in hell with him if I ever did meet him as he seems to have a thing for young, skinny blondes (first Elizabeth Olsen & now this) which is something I can never be. The fact that he's allowing himself to become part of Taylor's media circus just hurts, because he wasn't like that before. Or was he?

Anyway, that metaphorical dose of cold water hit me, hard. Too hard. One of my coping mechanisms is to cut out/off things & people that hurt me. Not the healthiest reaction, but it's what I do. My first reaction was to quit every Hiddleston fan group I was in on FB, before I took myself off FB for a couple of days. (Not just because of Tom, there's some other stuff going on that may be another post someday, but constantly seeing him in my news feed was not going to help) I asked people not to post anything about this to my wall & in the group I started. (Which was marginally successful) Then I started the physical purge- I sold nearly all my DVDs that he's in, threw out the magazines with articles about him (including the GQ that ironically has Taylor on the cover), deleted most of my stored photos, and am planning to give away the pillowcases & pictures I have of him. (Yeah, obsessions are a wonderful thing)

I'm keeping (with reservations) my Loki collection for now. I can differentiate between the man & a character he portrayed, and I still love the character. I'm not displaying any of it right now as my emotions are still a little raw, but I'm not quite ready to give those things up.

I don't hate Tom. I just don't love him right now. I want him to be happy & have love in his life. I don't think this is the way it's going to happen, but it's not my business. I have to give him up now for my sanity, such as it is. I have an amazing group of online friends that I met because of him, and will always be grateful for that. I hope we'll be able to maintain those bonds now that I've given up on him.

So yeah, there it is. Roundabout babbling, but the end of my obsession in a nutshell.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

I seem to have missed April...


If anyone is out there reading this, I apologize for the lack of updates. I can no longer update the blog from work, and the tablet is a pain to post from. Semi-regular posting & Foodie Fridays will return when I have time to go sit at the library.

So, what have I been doing in the 6 or so weeks since my last post?

Well, the thyroid saga is FINALLY over. The last ultrasound showed the tumor had literally tripled in size and Dr. M said it had to come out. The surgery was April 18th. The good news is that he got it all out and it wasn't cancerous enough for me to need radiation treatment. The scary news is that it was pressing into my windpipe & vocal cord. They don't think I would have lived until the next ultrasound as it was growing so rapidly. I would have probably just fallen asleep & not woken up due to lack of air.

Anyway, I had 2 weeks off work, which my bosses acted like I'd done solely to inconvenience them. I pointed out that I could have scheduled it for Derby Week & they still would have had to give it to me per FMLA. The 29th was my first shift back, and it wiped me out. I was told to expect this for the next 6 weeks or so until the doctors get my hormone levels balanced out.

Back to the surgery for a moment. I've posted before about the panic attacks induced by having a mask on my face. I warned the nurses ahead of time, and the anaesthesiologist came in to talk to me. He said they couldn't totally knock me out beforehand, but they gave me a heavy sedative. They also had me bite this tube (it was what they hold your mouth open with to run oxygen tubes in once you're unconscious) and ran the knockout gas through that instead of a mask. Honestly, the last thing I remember is being told to "bite this and breathe deep!" It was great! No blood pressure issues, no blood sugar spikes, nothing!

Yeah, so that's pretty much been it for me. I still hate the people I work for & with. I've decided that life is too short to keep dealing with the stress from that office, so have resumed active job hunting. At this point I don't even care if I have to take pay cuts- it will be worth it to be free of those assholes & away from that toxic building.

More when I can post again...

Sunday, March 6, 2016

And it's March already...

Not much to report. Work is depressingly awful, my health is still sketchy. Mom & Dad are doing well though!

The tubby tabby boys are settling in nicely. They've taken to greeting me at the door when I come home from work, flipping at my feet to get belly rubs, and following me into the bathroom where they fight with Nightshade for my attention.

As you can see, they're BIG boys compared to my little Shady girl. She & Remy warned my heart when they peacefully shared a dish of gooshyfood, and then curled up in me for a nap.

I felt like I should eat a hot dinner, even though I haven't felt up to cooking all week. I compromised on this: pesto tortelloni in a jarred Alfredo sauce that I jazzed up with Italian sausage, peas, parmesan/Romano blend & some herbs. Here's the result, and Shady offering to taste test it for me.

More when I can get online again...

Friday, March 4, 2016

Foodie Friday: GRUYERE, MUSHROOM, & CARAMELIZED ONION BITES




These are little bites of heaven. Being me, of course I want to add bacon to them, but they really don't need it.


GRUYERE, MUSHROOM, & CARAMELIZED ONION BITES
Author: Little Spice Jar
Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: 45 mins Total time: 55 mins
Serves: approximately 30-34 bites

Caramelized onion bites with sautéed crimini mushrooms, balsamic caramelized onions, and applewood smoked gruyere cheese. Thee perfect little appetizers! They're made with puff pastry and take no time at all to whip up! These are the perfect appetizers to serve your guests this holiday season.

INGREDIENTS

4 tablespoons salted butter, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
5-6 ounces crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
4 ounces grated gruyere cheese (I used applewood smoked gruyere)
1 package (1 pound) frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten

INSTRUCTIONS
In a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of oil along with 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes until tender. Remove and set aside in a medium bowl.
Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter along with the 1 tablespoon of oil and sauté the onions for 5 minutes. Add the dried thyme and sugar and continue to cook for 25 minutes on medium low heat. Make sure to stir the mixture every 5 minutes or so. If the onions are caramelizing too fast, turn down the heat a little more. Add the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan, allow the onions to soak it all in. Turn off heat. Add the onions to the mushroom mixture. Season with the garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste, stir to combine. Allow to cool to room temperature. Mixture can be kept in an air-tight container and refrigerated for up to 48 hours at this point. Allow to come to room temperature before proceeding. Add the gruyere cheese and mix well.
Position two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the puff pastry into 2-inch squares and place them on a lined baking sheet. Make sure the puff pastry is cold before proceeding. If not, allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes before proceeding. Using a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg on the squares. Place a tablespoon of caramelized onion mixture in the center. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway in between until crisp and golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving.

MARZIA'S NOTES
Make sure the puff pastry is cold when it goes into the oven. If at any point it becomes soft, allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes or until it firms up again. Do not open the oven door during the first 10 minutes of baking time. Frequently opening the oven may cause the puff pastry to not 'puff up'.

Swiss cheese or mozzarella cheese may be used to replace the gruyere. I really like the smoky flavor of applewood smoked gruyere with these bites.

If you've prepared the caramelized onion mixture ahead of time, you can zap it in the microwave for 30 seconds to bring it back to room temperature quickly.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Foodie Friday- Pecan Pie Bites



Mmm. I love pecan pie. This is a good way to taken it with you just about anywhere, but without the mess that a whole pie generates.

PECAN PIE BITES

INGREDIENTS

Cookie
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons Land O Lakes® Unsalted Butter, softened
1 Land O Lakes® Egg (yolk only)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup Land O Lakes® Heavy Whipping Cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350ºF. Spray 36 mini muffin pan cups with no-stick cooking spray; set aside.

Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, butter, egg yolk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat at low speed until well mixed.

Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls; place each into prepared mini muffin pan cups, pressing dough onto bottom and up one-third sides of each cup, creating a shallow cup.

Combine all filling ingredients in bowl; spoon 1 teaspoon filling into each cookie.

Bake 13-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool 10 minutes in pan on cooling rack.

Remove cookies from pans by running small knife around edge of cookie. Place onto cooling rack; cool completely.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Foodie Friday: One-Pan Mushrooms w/Chickpeas, Caramelized Onions, & Kale



This is a tasty, one pan dish. I know I should try to do meatless meals every now and then, but I can't help thinking this needs bacon in it. (Shredded or ground chicken or pork would also be good) This can be either a main course or a good side dish.




One-Pan Mushrooms, Chickpeas, and Kale


NOTES

To save time, slice the mushrooms and prep the kale while the onions caramelize. You'll already be in the kitchen to keep an eye on and stir the onions. For a slight variation, omit the chickpeas and top the combination of mushrooms, kale, and onions with a poached egg or two.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 tablespoons neutral oil, divided
1 small yellow onion, diced
Kosher salt
1 pound wild mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
1 bunch dinosaur kale, ribs removed and torn into bite-size pieces
Balsamic vinegar, to taste
Parmesan shavings
1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley

DIRECTIONS


Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to a large skillet; heat until shimmering over medium-high heat. Add the onion and a few generous pinches of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown and slumped — nearly but not quite caramelized — about 30-40 minutes. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, the mushrooms, and a few generous pinches of salt, and cook until the mushrooms are golden brown, 5-10 minutes. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, the chickpeas, kale, and a few generous pinches of salt, and cook until the kale is wilted, 2-3 minutes. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan and balance out the other flavors with its acidity. Season to taste with additional salt and balsamic vinegar. Garnish with parmesan shavings and parsley.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Foodie Friday- Pioneer Woman's Baked Fudge



So, my least favorite holiday is coming up this weekend. This is how I plan to indulge myself.


Delicious Baked Fudge

Prep: 10 Minutes Level: Easy
Cook: 50 Minutes Serves: 4
Ingredients

2 whole Eggs
1 cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons (heaping) Cocoa
2 Tablespoons Flour
1/2 cup Butter, Melted
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 to 325 degrees.

Beat eggs until light in color. Beat in sugar until just combined. Add cocoa, flour, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Mix gently until well combined.

Pour batter into four large ramekins or one 8-inch square baking dish. Set ramekins or pan into a larger pan halfway full of water.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until upper crust is crispy and the rest of the batter is firm but not set. Toothpick should come out…not clean, but mixture should not be overly runny. If you pull it out of the oven and have second thoughts, stick it back in for ten more minutes.

Serve with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream; whatever makes your skirt fly up.