Book Review: Bitter is the New Black

Ok… let’s start off with a few disclaimers… you may enjoy Bitter is the New Black… IF:

  1. You are Female.
  2. You have a sense of humor.
  3. You are not easily offended.
  4. You do not take issue with someone treating others like pawns or minions.
  5. You’ve been laid off and finding another job has been stressful and takes A LOT longer than you ever expected especially if you had been successful in your past positions.
  6. You enjoy hearing someone speak their mind even if it is a little harsh and judgmental, yet true.

bitter

What I love about this book…. Where do I start?

I feel like Jen and I have lived parallel lives.  Sort of.  I mean… I don’t treat people like they are my minions, and I don’t live an extravagant lifestyle.  (Well….I mean…. I kinda have a princess-attitude and lifestyle, but not nearly on the scale of Jen’s.)  But I have been laid-off, and finding another “real” job has been on-going for what seems like forever. (I have an MBA for crying out loud… clearly that was not an investment I’ve utilized properly.) I have a husband who loves me, although I try his patience more than a couple times a month. And he has an amazing job, but after reading Jen’s book… I’m scared sh*tless of the “what if he got laid off too” scenarios.  And the interviews she goes on and the activities she does to keep active were oddly similar to me.  I often found myself nodding and then shaking my head like “Yup… I can totally relate.” And the fact that she started scaling back her expectations of a job and salary… again… very similar to mine.  And then she did some volunteer work… Hello, right there too!  And then she started a blog… Yup.. doing that.  (BTW… I did all those BEFORE reading this book.  That’s why I find this book so hauntingly familiar.)

I often laughed at situations Jen was in or what she said to other people. I would be … “You go girl”… and yet at the same time, “That’s not a good way to handle that.”  Although, the part where she goes to pick up her friend’s marathon packet is so awesome!  I loved that part.  It was like … Turn about is fair play.  She had been judging people and making people feel inadequate in her “prior” life, and then when people treat her that way she feels a bit insecure and doesn’t like it.  I think that was real turning point for her in the book.

I try not to judge people too much… but it happens. I make an effort to get along with everyone, and if I don’t like you… I simply ignore you and make sure I don’t have to deal with you all that much.  And if you are a co-worker or manager, I do what I can to again… minimize contact.  As much as I would like to tell them to “Shove It Where The Sun Don’t Shine”, I don’t say it out loud.  Does that mean I’m gutless?  Maybe, but it does mean that I know that sometimes diplomacy and not resorting to insults and rude behavior is the smoother path even if I am seething inside.  Hence, why I now go to Kickboxing classes. (That and I need to lose weight. *sigh*)  Anyways….

And how strange is it that I’ve been toying with Writing as my next career. (Toying being the operative word.) But I don’t know that I have the chops for it (insert self doubt).  My imagination does run wild (I daydream all the time), but it tends to run wild in all directions (daydream, remind myself of my To Do list, daydream, think about what’s for dinner, daydream, wonder how my friend is doing, daydream, remember I have to be someplace in 15 minutes so I jet upstairs to throw on clothes, think about cutting my hair, wonder if I’m too old to donate my eggs)… you get my drift?  So, staying focused on one topic to write on is not something that I think I’d have a strength for.  But maybe if I had someone coaching, prodding and setting deadlines… I’m good with deadlines.  I think I’d be a good situational / editorial writer.  I like variety.  For instance… I love writing about food and travel (I post to Yelp and TripAdvisor fairly frequently)….  I know… me and about a gazillion other people.  How to Differentiate?  Be Unique? What are the key take-a-ways? Why should people read this? UGH!  The marketer in me knows that I need to STAND OUT…. BUT WHAT & HOW??!!

Ok.. back to the book… This book has a lot of great lessons in it and some situations that I agree with and some that I disagree with.  What’s great is that Jen seems to get the Reality Check she so desperately needs while not having to change who she is fundamentally.  At the end, she’s still Jen, but more grounded in terms of understanding that life isn’t about having the latest and greatest material thing, that status is not important, and that money is a scarce resource that needs to be managed and saved.  And that your loved ones come first. To me, she went from a Diva to Human in the course of this book… someone who cares about her loved ones and will do whatever she needs to do to help them.  (Examples: helping Fletch with his depression and babysitting for her brother who lives far away.)  Kudos to you, Jen.  You get the Most Improved Person Award. (Not that you needed to hear this from me since you have a published book and clearly have a number of accolades… all of which I don’t have.)

Anyways… now I’m off to lunch with my mom.

#BeingLaidOffSucks #JenLancaster  #LifeChoices #LifeLessons #DontBeQuickToJudge

 

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Life is Full of Choices

Every day we have choices.  Every day we make a decision.  Conscientiously or not, we do. Some of us have the ability and blessing to do these things of our own free will.  Others not so much whether bound by law or by mental issues.  For the moment, let’s assume we’re legally free and are mentally stable.  (Although, I might argue that some people think they are mentally stable when in fact they are a few French fries short of a happy meal, or have no common sense.)

Some choices are easier than others.  Some are just downright stressful.  And some are lots of fun to make.

  • We have the choice to get out of bed in the morning or to stay in it.
  • We have the choice of what we listen to on the radio or not listen to it at all.
  • We have the choice to be good people or not.
  • We have the choice to go to church or not.
  • We have the choice to drink soda drinks or not.
  • We have the choice to be happy or to let our surrounding (people, circumstances) dictate our mood.  (Ok, so this one tends to happen subconsciously, but still.)
  • We have the choice to learn or not.
  • We have the choice to engage our brain, to think before acting or not.
  • We have the choice to let mob mentality dictate what we do.
  • We have the choice to give in to peer pressure.
  • We have the choice to let the media lead us in the direction they choose.
  • We have the choice to believe everything we read on the internet.
  • We have the choice to play it safe or not.
  • We have the choice to eat healthy or not. (This one is a bit harder since eating healthy is sometimes more expensive than eating fast food.)
  • We have the choice to smile or not.
  • We have the choice to be responsible adults or not.
  • We have the choice to tell the truth or not.
  • We have the choice to trust or not.
  • We have the choice to be ourselves or not.

This could go on and on… there are more than likely and infinite number of choices we can make every day.

One decision sometimes leads us to our next choices.  Sometimes our indecision leads us to our next choices.  By doing nothing or by doing something, we’ve made a choice.  Crazy, huh?  We can assume life is leading us somewhere when in fact we have more control than we think through our choices and the decisions we make.

For instance, I’m lucky enough to be given the choice to decide what I want to do.  The tough part is figuring out what to do.  I don’t want to choose poorly or make a hasty decision.  (Done that before, it didn’t turn out well.)  And I don’t want to do something just to be doing something.  But maybe that’s the point.  Maybe I should just do “something” because it might lead me to a choice where I have to make a bigger to decide on something beneficial to my career or my “life” (family, career, future, “the big picture”).

Ok… I think I just segued into fate.

Hmmm… interesting…. choices and fate.

Does fate lead us to our choices?  Or do our choices lead us to our fate?

Personally, I think it’s a combo of the 2, but who knows?  Life is full of choices.

 

#Life #Choices #HardToDecide

Carrot Pineapple Muffins

Ok… so the initial thought was that these would be cupcakes.  Turns out not so much.  These are light and fluffy and not dense at all like I expected them to be.  Oh well.  I guess they will just be Breakfast to go with my coffee or tea in the morning.

Note: One didn’t want to come out of the pan nicely.  Oh well.  I guess I eat that one first.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Boxed Carrot Cake Mix (ignore the recipe to make it)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup spiced rum
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple

 

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare muffin pans.  (I used a large 6-muffin pan plus 4 of a regular 6-muffin pan.)
  • Place the following in a blender and blend for like 5 seconds…. so that carrots are still a little chunky: eggs, spiced rum, water, vanilla extract, nutmeg, cinnamon, carrots.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix with the wet ingredients you just blended.
  • Gently fold in the ground flaxseed and crushed pineapple.
  • Divide the mix into muffin pan.
  • Bake for 16-18 minutes depending on oven.  (Do the toothpick test.)
  • Take out and let cool before removing from pan.

 

 

#SuperEasy #Muffins #Breakfast #iBakeWithBooze

Flourless Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I know… I know…. Another muffin post that has bananas in it.  Sorry… I seem to always have a banana or 2 that have gone brown.  (I also break ’em up and put them in the freezer for a smoothie, but I have plenty of frozen chunks in the freezer and felt like baking this morning.)

 

I’m still trying to convince myself that flour is evil and that muffins without flour taste yummy.  Well… I’m not there yet.  I think it’s the consistency or denseness.  Flourless muffins just don’t have a dense-ness that I’m seeking when I think “bread” or “muffin”.

 

In any case, I think these are pretty good.  Not ‘knock-your-socks-off’ awesome, but they are light and have a lovely light, airy sweetness with that tantalizing bite that comes from semi-sweet chocolates.  And not to disappoint, I used a splash of banana rum to kick up the banana flavor a tad.  Because… you know… I bake with booze.

2016-03-21 10.04.15

(I really need to work on my photography skills or rather settings on my camera…and the lighting in the kitchen.  Or all of the above…. In any case… you get the gist of how these look.)

I’m not claiming that these are healthy for you… but I’m just saying that aren’t entirely horrible like a muffin you’d get at a bakery that uses tons of butter, sugar, oil and flour.  Mind you… I love butter.  Love, love, love butter.  (REAL butter… not the imitation stuff.  And of course, I try to only use Kerrygold, but sometimes I’ll buy butter that is not from grass-fed cows.  I know… What am I thinking?  I’m working on it.) In any case, I try to limit the amount of butter I use in cooking and baked goods.  I mean if I’m going to have it… have it where you can taste it… like on corn on the cub or steamed asparagus… or my all time favorite… on homemade bread.  I digress….

These Flourless Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins make 6 large muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed meal
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 large super ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp banana rum
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare large 6-muffin pan.
  2. Grind 1 cup of the rolled oats into a ‘flour-like’ consistency.  (I used my handy-dandy Magic Bullet.)  Reserve other 1/2 cup – do not grind.
  3. Blend the wet ingredients until smooth and liquid-y: honey, banana, yogurt, eggs, coconut milk, coconut oil, banana rum.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together dry ingredients (except the 1/2 cup of oats and chocolates): oat ‘flour’, flaxseed meal, baking powder, cinnamon.
  5. Then stir in the wet, slowly.
  6. Fold in remaining 1/2 cup rolled oats.
  7. Gently fold in chocolate morsels.
  8. Divvy up the batter into the prepared muffin pan.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Remove from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes on a wire rack or like I do…put them on a cold burner on the stove.
  11. Enjoy as a snack or dessert or if you so desire, breakfast.

#Flourless #Breakfast #Snack #Dessert #iBakeWithBooze #Muffins

 

Banana Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

These are light… Probably because there’s no flour in them and because for the most part I didn’t add sugar.  (Well… I sorta did if you know what I mean… wink, wink… cuz you know I like to add a little booze to my baked goods.)

These turned out a little spongy, and quite frankly I needed butter on mine.  I felt they were a little too light, but quite nice for snacking.  Just one though… not the whole pan.  They aren’t filling if you are looking for a “meal” type of muffin.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups oat flour (quick cooking or old fashioned oats)
  • 2 large very ripe bananas
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup coconut oil (melted)
  • ¼ cup banana rum*
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •  ¼ cup ground flaxseed meal
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen, defrosted)

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prepare muffin tins. You can either make smaller ones or you can make big ones. (I made 6 big ones and 5 small ones.)
  3. Make “oat flour” by putting he oats in a blender…. (I used my Bullet.).. and pulse for a few seconds to grind them up. Set aside
  4. Place all the WET ingredients in blender and blend: bananas, eggs, Greek yogurt, coconut oil, banana rum, vanilla extract. (*If not using banana rum, you might try a sugar of your choice like maple syrup, honey or coconut sugar.  I did not try these options, so I don’t know how they will turn out.)
  5. In large bowl, combine WET ingredients with DRY ingredients excluding the blueberries.
  6. Gently fold in Blueberries.
  7. Divide batter into muffin tin depending on how big and how many you want.
  8. Bake for 14-16 minutes, until the toothpick test comes out clean.
  9. Let the muffins cool before enjoying!

#Muffin #Easy #Snack #Flourless #RipeBananas #iBakeWithBooze

Good Morning Muffins

Good Morning Muffins

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 ounce Amaretto
  • 1 ½ cups shredded, unpeeled, drained (squeeze dry) zucchini
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup ground flaxseed meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup coconut flakes
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or other nuts

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare muffin pan. (I used a large 6-muffin pan.)

In large bowl, blend until smooth: eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir in zucchini.

In medium bowl, combine dry ingredients excluding coconut flakes and nuts.

Set aside ¼ cup of the dry mixture, and mix coconut flakes and nuts into this small batch of dry mix.

Add plain dry mixture to zucchini mixture in large bowl, and then stir in remaining ¼ cup dry mix which includes coconut flakes and nuts.

Place mixture 2/3 full into prepared muffin tins or cups.

Bake in a 350 degrees oven 20 to 25 minutes.

(Depends on muffin size and oven, so start at 20 minutes and do the toothpick test. The larger the muffins, the longer time needed to bake.)

#Breakfast #Muffins #GoodMorning

Flourless Chunky Monkey Bars

Make no mistake… these are Decadent and Rich.2016-03-08 14.31.36

I would go so far as calling these sinfully delicious. So… if you’re looking for a guilty pleasure that is somewhat healthy, these are it!

Plus, they are super easy and quick to make so … Win, Win!

I cut my bars into super small 2-bite pieces because sometimes I just want a little something-something.  So, my small 8×8 pan yielded 20 bars which should last me at least a week since I tend to share them with family and friends.  And really…. I only want a few bites as I get bored easily with food and like variety.  I’m not the type to eat an entire plate of cookies… nor am I happy eating the same thing every day and that includes snacks.

I could see and imagine that these would be Amazing topped with ice cream (regular, coconut, almond, whatever your pleasure.)  I didn’t try that, but I’m just saying… I’m sure it would be Great.  🙂

Ingredients

  • 1 Large Egg
  • ½ cup Honey
  • 1 large ripe banana (smashed)
  • 1 cup Organic Salted Peanut Butter (chunky – you can use smooth if you prefer)
  • 1 oz Vanilla-infused Bourbon (I make my own by putting a vanilla bean inside a small Jim Beam bottle for at least 4 weeks) – – you can use 1 tsp of vanilla extract instead
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 cup Organic Ground Flaxseed
  • ½ teaspoon Salt (increase to 1 tsp if using unsalted PB)
  • 3/4 cup Mini Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare an 8×8-inch glass baking dish.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the egg.
  4. Add in the honey (I melt mine a little so it’s a bit more workable… like 6 seconds in the microwave), and mix well until combined.
  5. Mix in smashed banana and vanilla-infused bourbon (or vanilla extract.)
  6. Mix in PB.
  7. Mix in ground flaxseed, baking powder and salt until it’s all blended together.
  8. Stir in chocolate chips.
  9. Pour mixture into the prepared baking pan, and spread evenly.  (It’ll be thick.)
  10. Bake for 27 minutes. (They will be soft and golden on top with the edges looking done, but the center will look moist and not done.  This is how you want it to look. Do not Overbake.)
  11. Allow the bars to cool in the pan, on a wire rack at least one hour before cutting into bars.  (I set mine on my stove since I don’t have a wire rack that is sturdy enough to hold a glass pan.)
  12. Makes about 12-20 bars depending on how big you want to make them.  (I like mine small.)
Baking Notes – A toothpick inserted into the center will come out mostly clean.  A few crumbs on it is OK and what you want.
Thoughts for Next Time –
  • I think I’ll add some cinnamon to the recipe to give it some zip.
  • Or maybe even throw in a handful of flaked coconut.
  • Or maybe even try making this with cookie butter instead or almond butter or Nutella.
#Flourless #Easy #RipeBanana #iBakeWithBooze #Dessert #SinfullyDelicious