The Post About Poking Drama In The Eyes

Drama. It may actually be the worst. 

Not the drama Daniel Day Lewis evokes or the kind found between the pages of a great Sweet Valley High novel. It's the sort that makes you want to poke people in the eyes while you're kicking them. The type of drama that makes you shake your head and wonder how you spiraled to such depths of poking and kicking.

I generally find myself having lengthy conversations with God in my kitchen about drama. I will respond to criticisms, hurl back my own and then eat some feelings via frozen Thin Mints.

What is it about talking this kind of drama out with the Creator of all good things that seems to help clarify it? Is it the talking or the listening? I think it's actually when I listen that I land on one of the following:

1. I'm an idiot. This drama is ridiculous.
2. I'm hurting. This drama comes from somewhere painful.

I don't like figuring how idiotic I am, but I also hate the alternative. I think this is the prickly part of James 1:2-4 "Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything."

Boo to endurance.

I'm all for the opposite of endurance. Unfortunately, I looked up "endurance" in Roget's and the antonym is "weakness."

Boo to weakness.

I suppose I should dig in for the long haul and grow that blasted endurance. James does mention something about being "strong" and "ready for anything." Sounds almost like a superhero. I could be a superhero.

I'm all about a great pair of tights.


The Post About The Rabbit Recommends v. 117

Each week or so I post things of which I'm fond. You can choose what happens after my recommendation. Ignore, embrace, debate. Earlier volumes of The Rabbit Recommends can be found here.

It's highly likely The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is not a new discovery for you. I've been hoarding this recommendation for months because I couldn't bear to send you to it without it being worth the investment. It's not that I didn't love this modernized adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, it's just that it was in the middle of the series and I was STRUGGLING waiting for each new installment. But now there's resolution...almost 100 episodes later.

So here's Episode 1. I apologize for how you will waste the rest of your day.

I attended the Killer Tribes conference this weekend which was a snazzy event filled with lots of nuggets of wisdom and Cheez-its. One presenter, Amy Lynn Andrews outlined her favorite apps for time management. Here's her list:
  • Gmail. I love how I can get all my emails (from my various email addresses) in one spot and how it integrates beautifully with so many other apps and Google products.
  • Google Calendar. Again, integration is excellent and I love the ability to have multiple calendars and customize each.
  • CalenMob Pro and CalenMob. The best mobile app I've used for Google Calendar.
  • GoTasks. I find myself using this really simple task list that integrates with Google Tasks well. It's especially good for quick lists, like shopping lists.
  • The Secret Weapon. A robust way of keeping track of to-dos. I have modified the system they present to suit my needs, but it uses Gmail and Evernote together.
  • Evernote. The very popular Evernote is an excellent way to keep track of notes and anything else you want to capture. Here are the Getting Started pages.
  • 30/30. A free app that helps you keep track of the tasks you need to complete in the amount of time you've allotted for each. Lovely.
  • IFTTT. If This Then That is a very handy way of automating tasks linked between many channels. Create "recipes" to work for you.
  • Pocket. This helps those of us who have a tendency to leave lots of tabs open in our browser to "read later." This app lets you add anything to your Pocket to read later.
Another Killer Tribes presenter was Kristen Howerton, blogger at Rage Against The Minivan. I don't have kids, but I know her post this week, Let's Bring The Holidays Down a Notch, is pure gold. May all you moms be encouraged that you are enough.

Have I ever mentioned I adore cats on the Internet? I have? Well, here are some more: 25 Things Cats Are Not.

And these tweets...


The Post About How To Make Cake Pops

I fancy cake pops. Not really to consume, but to produce. My heart has always belonged to deep fried anything and sweets simply don't turn my head.

Despite this, I find making cake pops to be very therapeutic so I keep keepin' on. Much to my coworkers' delight.

I want you to experience the same soothing calm waters this task can render. Here's a recipe for cake pop success that you can achieve in just 3-4 tries. I'm kidding. Not really.

Cake Pops
  • 1 box cake mix. Any flavor. Follow directions for 13x9 pan. Buy Duncan Hines because you want to have nice things.
  • 1 can cream cheese frosting
  • Candy melts. 16 oz. Get Make-n-Mold candy melts from Hobby Lobby. Wilton also makes melts sold at Wal-Mart, but they're a smidge thick and ornery. I DO use them in a pinch.
  • Lollipop sticks. Get these at craft supplies stores or Wal-Mart. Or spend a month knockin' out some Blow Pops and recycle.
  • Snack size sandwich bags
  • Sprinkles that make you happy
  • Styrofoam block. Take the sticks above and "pre-drill" holes in the block so you can dry your pops.
Bake the cake and cool it completely. You can do this anytime and simply freeze the cake for later. One quarter of a cake will make approximately 12 pops. Other segments can go in the freezer for another day. Or in your belly. Whatever.

Take the cooled cake and crumble it into a bowl. I use a food processor, but your grubby hands or the grubby hands of your offspring will work well. 

Mix the crumbled cake with the frosting with a large spoon. I use about 1 egg-sized dollop for each quarter of a cake. Always add frosting a bit at a time, because if it gets too sticky, it won't shape up or stay on a stick. The amount of frosting you need will vary on the moistness of the cake. Moist is the worst word ever.

Roll the cake compound into quarter-sized balls and place on a baking sheet. Don't forget to put down wax paper. Why should we wash things if we don't have to?

I place the balls in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Then I move them to the fridge for 5-10 minutes. If you dip a pop that's too cold into really hot candy melts, then the melts will crack once they're dry. However, if you dip a pop that's not firm, then it will fall off the stick. They're so dramatic.

Melt your candy by following the instructions on the package. Use a plastic or ceramic bowl that's deep enough for you to dip into. I use 1 cup plastic bowls which can normally cover 12-15 pops.

I never use "high" on my microwave because if melts get too hot then they burn and die a tragic death. There's no CPR that will bring them back.

CHEMISTRY DANCE BREAK: I use candy melts instead of chocolate because the melting point of chocolate is 86° - 90° F which is lower than your hot body. So when you go to decorate and manhandle the pops, they will get sticky again. Sticky = bad.

I also use paramount crystals as a thinning agent for the melts. If you don't have this weirdo ingredient in your pantry, simply use shortening or vegetable oil right before the candy is 100% melted. Use one teaspoon for each cup of melts. Note: Any HINT of water will ruin candy melts. Don't spit.

Dip the tip of your stick in the melted candy and insert it into your balls about halfway. That sounds sketchy, but it's not.

Carefully insert the cake ball into the melted candy. Go at an angle and rotate until covered. Gently tap the stick on the rim of your bowl so excess candy coating will drop off. Rotate while you do this. If you treat it like a gavel, then the ball will fall off. Never a good thing.

If you accidentally don't cover all the cake at the base of the stick then it will leave a hole. This creates a cake pop that will later poop cake. For real.

Place your gorgeous dipped pop in the styrofoam block so it can settle.

Your options for decorating are only as limited as your brain and wallet. When you use sprinkles, simply shake them on right before placing the pop in the styrofoam. You can also do some easy peasy design with melted chocolate dumped in a sandwich bag. Nip a tiny corner of the bag with scissors and then take a dry pop and drizzle until you just can't stand it.

VoilĂ .

Unless I'm serving the pops immediately, I wrap each one in a plastic bag and tie with ribbon. I'm fiscally conservative, so I buy zipper jewelry bags and then just cut off the zipper. My Dad would be proud.

Here are a few more tips to make your experience a grand one.
  • Plan for a few cake pops that won't work out. I still do with every recipe.
  • Cake pops store at room temp in an airtight container. They will stay fresh for at least 5-7 days.
  • Plan for 1 hour to mix, bake and cool the cake. Crumbling cake, mixing with icing and shaping them takes 30-60 minutes. Dipping, drying, decorating and wrapping in bag with ribbon takes another 1+ hour. It's not a sprint.
  • My Amazon List for Cake Pop Making Supplies
  • Most importantly, wear an apron and put down wax paper...everywhere. It's a messy gig.
If you have questions, don't hesitate to comment on this post and I will reply. You can also email me at jamiesrabbits@gmail.com and I will reply. Note: I sometimes reply in my head before replying with the typing and such. Patience is a virtue.

Good Luck!

You can place a cake pop order with me by checking out my online store: Jamie's Sweet Revenge. 

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook for regular updates.

{images: Jamie}


The Post About Google Ruining Everything

Google announced last week that Google Reader would be retiring. I assume it's becoming a Greeter at Wal-Mart or a professional napper {coughDADcough}.

I loved Google Reader because it kept all my blog and website feeds in one handy place so I could read whenever the mood struck. Since I was now in the market for a new RSS feed aggregator I sought advice. Lifehacker, a website I read through Google Reader, posted an article addressing this dilemma "Five Best Google Reader Alternatives."

Leigh at Hopeful Leigh also wrote about another popular option Bloglovin'.

I narrowed it down to feedly and Bloglovin'. This led me to a great article comparing the two side by side: Bloglovin’ vs Feedly: Which RSS Reader Reigns Supreme?

I tried out both but feedly was the winner for me. It came down to 2 issues:
  • Bloglovin' didn't import my existing folders or starred items like feedly. 
  • Swapping to the original source/blog/website was fluid in feedly and not so much in Bloglovin'. For commenting (which is my goal) this is imperative.
Definitely choose a system that works best with your preferences for blog reading. As always, I'm not the boss of you.

Now for a quick feedly tour on your desktop.

I like to look at all my baking or home design or photography at the same time so having folders is crucial for an ADD gal like me.

Here's a blog I fancy Fer The Love of Writing. Fer lives in Alaska and is ridiculously fantastic. We met on the Interwebs so we're close. As you can see, I have options when viewing her posts in feedly - Full, Mosaic, Tiles and more. Options can be selected for each website with a default selected.

The sidebars keep me organized and let me switch things up when my spirit animal changes to squirrel.

My actual preference is to read blogs on my phone or tablet while stopped at red lights.

Look how pretty Fer's blog is on my tablet. THE TUNDRA LOOKS SO INVITING.

More than 500,000 have made the switch to feedly this week and they try to make it simple by providing an easy peasy guide: Transitioning from Google Reader to Feedly.

If you've never even thought about reading blogs or other news sites this way, let me encourage you to consider it.

Might I recommend...Feedly?

Comment with your thoughts, recipes, or digital high fives. Also, if you have a blog I need to add to my feed reader - include the web address in the comments and I'll get it added!


The Post About The Rabbit Recommends v.116

Each week or so I post things of which I'm fond. You can choose what happens after my recommendation. Ignore, embrace, debate. Earlier volumes of The Rabbit Recommends can be found here.

Happy St. Paddy's Day! I'm English through and through but I'll embrace any excuse to eat potatoes and kiss handsome gingers.

My friend and writer Elizabeth Hyndman sent me this glorious video nugget. What happens after "happily ever after?" Now you know. Ariel is still a loser.

Sean chose Catherine. ABC did not choose Sarah to be the next Bachelorette. All is right in the world. Check out this week's Xtra Bacon podcast where Knox and I tackle important issues like Sean's hot brother-in-law and how I'm always sad when 24-year-olds start a sentence with "I've waited my whole life..."

Great Gift Idea for Birthday/Anniversary: My friend Amanda sent an email to real life and Internet friends requesting assistance with a birthday project for her fella - Joseph. She asked each of us to send in a picture including a number from 1 to 25 (Joseph's age) and plaid (Joseph's wardrobe.) Our efforts produced a Happy Plaid Birthday album with yours truly representing #5. Don't miss my favorite...#13. I kinda love this idea.

Did you fall in love with Justin Timberlake this week? I did. Again. Watch his funniest moments while hosting SNL. Watch his funniest moments while sitting in on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

I'm headed to Atlanta this weekend for the Killer Tribes Conference. I'm looking forward to several sessions but particularly "Making a Living as a Writer" with Shawn Smucker. I assume there will be a section on earning cash if you only want to write tweets and FB statuses.

Are you going? If you are, then come find me and let's hug it out. I'll be the one talking inappropriately during the sessions.

My ADD habits are Biblical. Get on board.


The Post About The Rabbit Recommends v. 115

Each week or so I post things of which I'm fond. You can choose what happens after my recommendation. Ignore, embrace, debate. Earlier volumes of The Rabbit Recommends can be found here.

One of my Internet favorites is Amanda Williams. She's smart, witty and honest - an ideal person combo. She recently wrote a powerful post "Finding God in a Little White Pill." A friend once told me she was praying through her depression. I replied that my Mom was praying through her high blood pressure. She immediately countered "Blood pressure is something to take seriously. She should see a doctor." See how I verbally trapped her like a close friend? The brain is an organ just like the heart. We believe God uses doctors and medicines to heal us. Why don't we believe that for every part of us?

Speaking of our health... Healthcare is a BIG deal in America. Most often the discussion centers on who should pay for healthcare. Journalist Steven Brill decided it was time to steer the debate to the more important question: Why are healthcare bills so high? He wrestles for the answer in his recent feature "Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us." This is not for the faint of heart - it's 1 article with 24,105 words. Every word is compelling.

If I could follow only one person on Instagram, it would be Tyler Tarver. He takes fantastic shots and then adds perfect captions - an ideal IG combo. He and I agree on math, Lost, Ryan Gosling, and ADD. We do not agree on which Disney Princesses would last the longest in the Hunger Games. He was kind enough to invite me on his Talk Hugs Podcast to tackle this and other pressing issues. Also check out Tyler on Twitter and Facebook.

Emeli SandĂ© is from Scotland. She went to medical school. She's married to a scientist. She wrote her first song at 11. Her debut album, Our Version of Events, is phenomenal. I've had it on repeat since discovering it was the  bestselling album in the UK in 2012 ousting Adele's 21. All the tracks are superb, but start with Next To Me, My Kind of Love, and Heaven.

The 30 Happiest Facts of All Time will let you have a moment of surely goodness and mercy. I mean...#7 you guys. I'm headed to Sweden.

Meeting your child for the very first time can be just as powerful and life-changing as when someone meets their child in the delivery room. There are no unwanted children, just unfound families.

To learn more about adopting from foster care, visit Adopt-US-Kids


The Post About Tweens and Tiaras

My youngest niece was in a beauty pageant this past week. She enjoys getting her hair done and garnering lots of attention. It's why we get along so well.

These types of events are really fantastic because even the stuff that's bad is delicious. Here were my observations.

1. My niece listed her favorite food as bacon and she wants to grow up to be a meteorologist. Like her father. THAT'S FIGGIN' ADORABLE.

2. The 10-year-old whose favorite hobby was babysitting. Time to call child protective services.

3. Kenny G is the king pageant muzak. Unfortunately he’s also the king of gynecology office muzak. Now you know where my head was.

4. The 11-year-old whose favorite food was turnip greens and wants to grow up to be a chiropractor. Are either of those actual things?

5. Five contestants listed their favorite hobby as texting. Is that as sad as it sounds?

6. Three girls stated they wanted to grow up to be artists. This pageant disclosure is their way of telling mom & dad they’ll need to move back home someday.

7.  The contestant whose middle name is "Tequila." I assume it’s what helped mom get through labor.

8. More than one contestant listed "Marine Biologist" as their anticipated career. What’s our middle school obsession with this ambition? Is it Nemo? Aquariums? Captain D’s?

9. When your favorite subject is science, you’re not allowed to choose cruise ship singer as your future career.

10. My niece was gorgeous, both inside & out. Unlike her aunt & grandma who probably shouldn’t be allowed to attend kid competitions.

{images: Jamie}


The Bachelor Podcast: Women Tell All. For Love

It was good for me.

Last night was my favorite episode of each season of The Bachelor - the Women Tell All.
All the booted contestants gather in a room with great lighting and a boisterous studio audience and are asked to relive being dumped on national television.

It's delicious.

You can watch the entire episode on www.abc.com.

 Best line of the night: 
“I’m not calling you a liar,” Tierra said to AshLee, “I’m saying, ‘You lied to me.’”

Knox McCoy and I recap the episode in our Xtra Bacon Podcast.

Click here to listen to it (and click here to subscribe). 

What are your predictions? Who will win? Who wrote the letter to Sean? What happened to Tierra's dent? Who will be the next Bachelorette? Is Sarah the worst? 


The Post About 3 Bad Work Habits I Must Break

I'm single. I don't have kids.

I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay.

I really am okay because I sleep until 10:30am on Saturdays on a mattress filled with cash I don't spend on diapers or little league fees.

The real reason these descriptors matter is because of the impact they have on my work habits.

You see...when I meet new people they tend to ask questions in this order:
1. Are you married?
2. Do you have kids?
3. What do you do for a living?

My answers to #1 and #2 have never changed. But #3 has varied.

A: I'm a cashier at a grocery store.
A: I work at the CDC.
A. I'm a bank teller.
A: I sell handbags at a department store.
A: I plan events for churches.
A: I'm a youth minister.
A: I'm the director of marketing for a nonrprofit.

See what a liberal arts degree will get you?

What's consistent is the fact I've always wrapped myself up in my job. It describes me. It defines me. It is me.

This leads to some bad habits you may practice that I've been trying to break.

1. Working when I'm not at work.
My coworker Julie was on vacation and I sent her the above email with the subject line: "Emergency - please open" to test her. Notice she responded within 90 minutes. 

Do you check work email at 10pm? Do you answer texts from coworkers on weekends? I'm not opposed to the occasional catch-up, but failing to have boundaries between the personal and the professional is just asking for failure in one of those arenas. Unrelated: Working on that design project after hours instead of working out leads to a muffin top.

2. Working through lunch.
Powering straight through lunch may seem productive and even noble, but not taking a break simply makes dreaded tasks more overwhelming. Plus, I'm simply not an amazing employee when I have a Hot Pocket in one hand and the computer mouse in the other. Unrelated: Hot Pockets lead to a muffin top.

3. Working long hours.
I've always believed staying a couple of hours late would mean I'm more productive. The reality is and research shows, working more than 8 hours a day decreases your rate of productivity and can actually lead to a 40% increase in heart disease. Secretly, I've also felt as if my value comes from busyness. That's dumb. Ergo, I'm dumb.

What are your work habits that may need some breakage? 


The Post About Judgey Jamie and Her Hold on Me

This one time I thought I'd get you to hold me accountable to writing blog posts. So I made my intentions known.

So...you waited. And I didn't write.
I didn't even write three. It was only one.

When live tweeting the Oscars, I was called out.
There was no excuse.
So what are the real reasons I haven't been writing?
1. Work. I like to write posts during lunch at the day job, but January and February are my busiest months. So lately, lunch has been inhaling an oatmeal creme pie while deleting all the extra spaces coworkers put after periods. Time-consuming.

2. Podcasting. I entered the mature an complex world of podcasting by recapping The Bachelor each week with my friend Knox McCoy. It takes a lot of my free time to pause the episode every 7 minutes to figure out the design of a contestant's hip tattoo or stare at Sean Lowe's bare chest.

3. Judgey Jamie. She's real. And she's abominable. She wants posts to be hilarious or moving or candidate pieces for a literary prize. Since I'm not really that type of writer, my post about how hard it is to plug things in while in the dark goes unpublished.

My friend and not-bad blogger Katherine held me accountable to write this post while we sipped coffee at Barnes & Noble. She suggested I should avoid making declarative statements about how many posts I'm going to write in a month. I should just write.

I'm really going to take her advice.

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