My lovely bride and my slightly less lovely best friend Rob, at our annual Brain Eaters party, back in 2009. Rob always has the best costumes, even when he does something as simple as this. Gotta love it.
1.Cut roast in half, transfer
to 3qt slow cooker. Combine cheese, honey, soy sauce, basil, garlic, oil and
salt; pour over pork. Cover and cook on low until pork reaches 160 or 5 ½ - 6
2.Remove meat to platter,
cover with foil to keep warm. Skim fat. Transfer juices to small saucepan. Stir
together cornstarch and water until smooth, combine with juices. Heat to
boiling – cook and stir until thickened. Slice roast, serve with gravy
Modifications : I didn’t have any dried
basil, so I used 2T of italian seasoning, which was essentially just basil
anyway. We served ours with mashed potatoes.
Rating (out of 5)
Kris – 4
Linz – 4 ½
Review: An easy to make roast with
an interesting mix of flavors. The soy sauce and honey really compliment each other,
while bringing out the tanginess of the parmesan. The sauce cooks down to a
rich, dark red with pieces of smoky parmesan and basil. I think the sauce could
have been improved by using freshly dried basil, rather than the rather old
italian seasoning I had to substitute. I should have used my remote thermometer
that Linz gave me for Christmas, as the five hour cooking time left the meat
quite flavorful but dry. We ended up roughly shredding it and eating it atop
mashed potatoes with the sauce as gravy. We’ll try this one again.
We spotted this building while we were out cruising around for Maine Maple Sunday last year. It looked like it had once (And possibly still is) an inn.... The building was BEAUTIFUL and quirky but man, it was a mess. Not exactly the type of place I would cruise up to for a quiet weekend with my wife.
Maybe a quiet weekend with my knife.
But seriously, We were there in the off season, and the place looked awesome. It's apparently still open and run by some truly unique owners. They don't charge much, have a bohemian nutball personality that I find hilarious and in reality, is probably just the place my wife and I would choose. This is actually one of their "Rates" posted on their website - Almost Broke and Desperate:
We have allowed hikers to camp on the porch. If you are reading this on
a computer, you probably don't qualify. You should be reasonably
presentable and willing to work. It will probably be under $25 a night,
but we'll talk.
Back in October of 2011, we bought a little 8x8 shed from Home Depot for our front yard. They came out and installed it and I spent a few days installing insulation, cheap walls and painting it, transforming it into my Fortress Of Smallitude. (The post on that is HERE)
It wasn't the best place in the world, but it was cozy and worked for an afternoon retreat - sculpting, artwork, etc. Eventually, as Deeply Dapper took over our household, The FOS was transformed into a wood prep and painting shack. It's now used more than ever, but every inch of it is covered in paint and sawdust and skull dust in every crack and crevice.
The entire process of getting the shed was awesome though. Home Depot was great to work with and Sheds USA, the company that installed them was professional and fast. SO when we realized Lindsay's room in the house, formerly her office/writing room was going to have to be converted to an office/stockroom for Deeply Dapper, we decided she needed a little retreat and headed back to the Depot.
We went a bit bigger this time, opting for an 8x12 one with six foot high walls. While the 8x8 was fine for my art room, Linz has a nice day bed she wanted to include and the 4 foot walls on the FOS made the place a little claustrophobic. The installation was just as slick as before. One guy, a couple of hours and we had our new room - The Writing Cottage!
The sheds come unlined, unpainted, essentially a place for tools or a mower, but with a little bit of effort and a couple of hundred bucks, you can make a pretty comfy room. For this one, we decided to leave the upper rafters uncovered and painted them a nice creamy white. We'd initially planned to run a set or two of net lights along the rafters, but later decided it was too bright and looked bad. For the FOS, we lined the walls in thick, heavy plywood, which was pretty simple and reasonably priced - $18 a panel. While at Home Depot, we noticed a thinner, laminated board that I think is used for underflooring when laying carpet, but I'm not actually sure. It was a lot cheaper than the plywood - $4 less a panel, and quite smooth, so we went with it instead. We also picked up an additional window to install in the side of the shed to let in some light and airflow.
The paneling, while lightweight and looking much better than the plywood, ended up being harder to install. It was quite flexible, so instead of just slapping it up and screwing it to studs, I had to line up the edges with the studs or create a system of supports behind the edges to prevent gapping. It was also harder to cut than the plywood due to its tendency to sag while cutting it. All said though, I still liked it better for the Cottage. It ended up looking nice and smooth. The window went in pretty well too.
I didn't spend as much time with it as I could have - a few of the walls were a bit gappy and not everything lined up perfectly, but that was okay - we aren't really planning to use it for more than a year or so. If this was going to be her writing retreat for years and years, I would have done it up right. As it was, it turned out pretty great. I used the excess panels we bought to add a second layer of flooring, covering the small gaps in the original floor that could have let in cold air or insects.
Then it was Linz's turn. She painted nearly the entire thing by herself, using a pink-beige-orange color called Butternut. Which pretty much looks exactly like a butternut squash. It's interesting. At first I was afraid it would be too orange or pink, but it looks very different at times of the day and now that furniture is out there, it looks quite nice.
After the initial paint job, we hit Home Depot again to buy some cheap trim. There were just enough little goofy jagged lines that we figured that would help tie the room together. Oh yeah, we also needed a rug.
Generally speaking, trim and edging is sold by the foot at hardware stores, which can get quite expensive, quite fast but if you look, there's usually some pretty dirt cheap options that sell by the piece instead. They're usually a composite thing, made to line cheap apartments and mobile homes. (Our entire trailer is trimmed in the stuff.) We bought a bunch and planned to paint them the blue Linz had picked out for the accent color. In the end, it took twice as much time and paint as it should have - the cheap trim is so slick that the paint just doesn't stick. It's meant to be hung without adding color, which is what we'll do next time.
While there, we also noticed some wall panels that were even cheaper than the ones we bought, down on the bottom by the trim. They're all the fake "Board" lined panels that you see in 70's houses, but it would have saved us $70. Oh well.
At any rate, the Cottage looks pretty great now. We've built a couple of shelves that need to have the painting finished and I haven't made her curtains yet, but aside from that, it's pretty cozy. I'll post more pictures later.
I love to cook. Which is a good thing, since Linz does not. I find the entire process fun and enjoy trying different recipes, making modifications or our own versions of things. I tend towards crock pot meals, primarily because its fits our schedule but also because our kitchen and supplies out here in Maine leave a bit to be desired. (We bought a good chunk of our kitchen supplies from Goodwill or on the cheap, because we have better versions out west or plan to buy nice ones once we move more permanently)
I've decided to start sharing recipes here, both from cook books and our own home & family recipes, along with our modifications and reviews of how they were. When I can, I'll also include photos of the cookbook's version of the food as well as how it actually looked.
Be warned - I make food to taste good, not look pretty - my photos will be of food that's placed on a plate to eat, not artfully poured tureens of beauty in natural light with colorful sprigs of fairie wings, so don't expect that. I want to share what our actual family's meals look like. And whether it was worth eating.
Also, don't expect a very focused look at specific food - my wife and I like to eat as healthy as we can without sacrificing taste or making silly stretches to avoid types of food. We're both simple people raised in The West with no real dietary concerns outside of watching our weight. Meat and potatoes types of people. We eat meat, cook with butter, salt and sugar. My grandma used to cook her popcorn in bacon grease and I still do occasionally as well. That's the way we roll. I'm also on the constant search to find authentic recipes for delicious Mexican food, something that is sorely missing out here in Maine.
I hope you try out a few of the recipes and let me know what you think and if you see something I might want to try, send me a link!
As of this writing, I've been technically unemployed for two
full months. Ten years ago, I started a job with Walgreens, working as their
overnight stock boy/cashier while I also worked as an assistant manager at a theater, ran the register at my eventual
father-in-law's music store and worked full time at a gas station where I was
training my replacement to manage it. All I did was work at that time, but I
loved the job. The people were quirky and the job was fun, but it was also
quite physical, which I liked. There was something almost spiritually
fulfilling for me to be awake at 4am, hanging ad tags or stocking shelves. It
had a reflective dreamlike feeling for me. I also loved the company I was
working for. Walgreens treated their employees well and they seemed to have a
vision for the future. After a time, I decided that it was going to be a good
move for me and I made the choice to dedicate most of my energies into working
towards a future with them.
For a decade, I worked there. I moved to Montana to open the
first two stores in the state, fighting strange challenges and problems that
came with being so removed and eventually moved back to Idaho. I progressed in
the company, but never aggressively. While I fully intended to be a store manager
at some point, the learning and the culture was just as important to me. I took
any opportunity to move and try new challenges and work with different
Eventually my quest took me to Maine and a dozen different
stores, including a stint as the district secretary. All that time, I
progressed. I would regularly get calls from people I'd trained or mentored
many that were above me in the company, asking for my advice or how to do
certain things. I took pride in the massive group of friends and co-workers I
discovered. I was invited to weddings, birthdays and funerals for customers.
For the most part, I adored working corporate retail.
It did have its downsides. Over the years, I worked with some
bad managers and some utterly terrible people and year by year, customers
seemed to get lazier, more ridiculous and self-entitled. At the same time, the
company I'd loved changed. Some of it was a natural evolution, but for every
step forward there were steps back and sideways and sly shuffles to the
diagonal that ended up swooping backwards. The ability to use my artistic side
was stifled in favor of ever increasing minutia and redundancies aimed more at
anticipating problems and covering them up, rather than preventing them. A job
that I was initially more than happy to dedicate all of my time to started to
expect that time, make it a requirement.
As much as I loved the idea of running a beautiful, clean
drug store with a family of trusted employees and loyal customers, I could see
that that was no longer the future direction. Leadership was being reduced in
favor of poorly trained, lower paid subordinates and corporate didn't really
care if your employees left the company, as long as you had enough paperwork
filled out to prevent a lawsuit.
This makes it sound like I'm complaining, and I am. But
despite all of it, I still enjoyed my job and I worked with some fantastic
people, both above and below me. I just didn't feel like it was the place for
me. I was working with truly excellent managers that felt it was expected and
acceptable to work 60+ hours a week and break family obligations in favor of
filling one more shelf or writing one more record of an employee being three
Luckily, at the same time, avenues were opening up for our
family in a way they never had before. A few years back, before moving to
Maine, my wife and I decided that we wanted to run a small motel on the west
coast. We got close, with no money and no help, but things fell through at the
last minute. But we'd had that taste.
Back in August of 2010, while we were in Topsham, ME, and I
was working for Walgreens, I opened a little shop on a website called Etsy,
selling hand-cut Sasquatch silhouette stickers. In the last two years, that
shop had expanded to include decorative switch plate covers, photography,
sculptures and other assorted geekery. This Christmas, Deeply Dapper EXPLODED.
It started to grow in October and by the time Christmas rolled around we had
gotten so busy that Lindsay had quit her job at the hotel and started working
full time for the shop. At the same time, I was continuing to work the 50+
hours a week as a salaried manager at the drug store, then coming home to work
hours and hours on the shop, often overnight, just to keep up.
Finally, we had to make a choice. Continue trying to be a
store manager for a company I was no longer totally sure of or violate my one
cardinal rule – NEVER QUIT A SURE THING and follow my other rule, the one I'd
never gotten to follow before – DREAMS CREATE THE FUTURE.
In January, after the shop had made enough money to secure us
in the months to come if sales took a sudden nose-dive, I leapt. I quit the
company a couple months shy of my ten year anniversary and went to work at
Deeply Dapper full time.
So how's it been going? BUSY. The shop has dropped off quite
a bit and the sales are sporadic. It's not enough to be extremely worrisome,
but growing up poor, it's hard for me to ignore a slim day and look at the
bigger picture, knowing that the sales are no longer extra; they're how we pay
It's also incredibly difficult to get used to the idea that I
don't work for Walgreens anymore. Even now, after 60 days away, I still feel
like I'm on an extended vacation and will have to return at any moment. That
was especially bad the first month.
But it's totally awesome, I can't deny that. We're finally
finding our equilibrium and getting used to the idea of both of us in the house
ALL OF THE TIME. Together. We live in a mobile home with less than 1,000 square
feet and we go further than the driveway twice a week. That has taken some
adjustment, but I think that will get significantly easier if this winter ever
ends. We're planning an office extension out back where we can build an artists
and author studio where we can find some solitude. We're doing everything we
can to get ahead on orders so that we can start enjoying the state we live in.
We've been here for years now and have never really had time e to explore it.
And sadly, we've started prepping for Christmas already – it has the potential
to be life changingly awesome if we can keep up the quality and customer service
I think the most important change I can make is to get myself
into a schedule. Now that it is my job, I don't have an excuse to not update
all of our blogs and websites regularly, there's no reason to not go after book
covers hardcore, all of those new ideas in my big notebook? I'm making them! My
weekly art jam at TRDL is going to get done, I'm going to finish my damn books,
I'm going to read all of these books I didn't write! We're going to get fit! As
I type this, I'm walking at a nice smooth pace on my treadmill. I've walked two
and a half miles, that's pretty cool. I plan to try and do 90% of my writing
either walking or standing. The only time I have an excuse is when I'm
editing... and when I'm particularly lazy.
One of the most important things I need to do is write here
more often. I actually miss having a journal of our lives and I miss hearing
from readers like Randy and Steve. 2013 is gonna be awesome.