Zucchini Bread

When my sister and I were young, my Mom worked hard to pass on her few domestic skills to us. I remember her teaching me how to make french toast, how to take a blood stain out of a favorite pair of pants, how to sew a button onto a new blouse. One of my favorite memories, though, is making zucchini bread.

I can remember every step of the process, from the garden my parents tended in our spacious backyard every summer, to the warm, sweet smelling loaf. If you’re from Kentucky, you know, the first Saturday of May is the Derby, the second Saturday of May is for planting. Every year, without fail, my Dad tilled the deep brown earth into perfect, symmetrical lines. Then my mom, and some years my sister and I, would walk along the rows and put these adorable baby starter plants into indentations carved by our thumbs.

Every morning of our summer break, before the heat and humidity of Kentucky summers made it miserable to do anything, we would grab a wicker basket and gather the red tomatoes, plump and firm in our hands, the yellow squash, just as pretty as the blooms they were born from, and of course, the zucchini. I’ve often wondered if it was just our soil, or a Kentucky thing, but the zucchini grew the best. Within weeks we had deep green, gorgeous zucchini, as big as your forearm.

When you have pounds and pounds of zucchini sitting around, you have to get creative to get rid of it. People don’t realize how versatile zucchini is, either. You can fry it, bake it, grill it. It can be sweet, spicy or savory. It can give you different textures depending on how you treat it, but it always tastes good. I can remember our kitchen counters, and eventually table, too, having stacks of multicolored vegetables, a cornucopia kitchen. We had to get creative in reclaiming our space.

By August, we were all tired of zucchini. People stopped accepting our gourds as gifts and held their hands up in surrender. No more zucchini! That’s when the baking would begin. I’ll be honest, Mom and Dad did the bulk of the work when it came to the garden, but when it came to the baking, Allison and I stepped up. Mom would announce, usually on a day when  we were stuck inside by rain or sweltering heat, that we would be making zucchini bread. My mom is not known for her cooking. She will freely admit that. But she makes a mean zucchini bread, and luckily, she passed that recipe on.

On these Zucchini days, we would pull every loaf pan in our house out and line them up in an anticipatory row, the aluminum disposable ones sitting next to the glass and the blue cornflower patterned ones that make me think of ancestry and heritage and recipes passed down for generations. The goal here was to make an assembly line, efficiently filling, baking, and pulling the loaves from counter to oven and back up to counter.

The real bulk of the work, though, came from peeling and grating zucchini. Allison and I would sit at the kitchen table, one of us with a trash can in between our knees, peeling zucchini and revealing its soft, white-green insides. The other sister would balance a big bowl on her lap and grate zucchini into it until our hands ached and our fingers were shiny and red. Mom would play the same albums that stand as a soundtrack of my childhood, The Beatles, Sheryl Crow, Dido, and Van Morrison.

Once we had grated our weight in zucchini, mom would supervise the measuring and mixing. My mother, who claims to be terrible at math, taught me how to add and convert fractions as she explained why we should make a double or triple batch to speed up the baking process. Filling our assorted loaf pans with thick, cream batter and sliding them long-ways into the oven was always deeply satisfying. The smell that filled our entire house was warmth and cinnamon and melted brown sugar. Everyone’s mouth was watering on the whole block by the time the first batch was done. The first couple loaves never even made it to the cooling rack, as we all burnt our fingertips and tongues on the soft, sweet, spongy bread.

What I remember most about zucchini bread, though, is giving it away. After it had cooled and been covered in plastic wrap and, sometimes, tied with a bow, Allison and I were instructed to go to our neighbors and give them bread. I remember one neighbor, an elderly, widowed woman, was always so happy to see us. We would also walk in and sit with her for a little while. Through these visits, and many more instances in my life, my Mom taught me to be kind to everyone. Zucchini bread taught me to put love and care into baking. It taught me to have and show gratitude when cooking, because it is an opportunity to feed yourself, your loved ones, and your soul.

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New Undercut Hair!

I have been talking about making a change for a couple months now, but couldn’t buck up the courage to actually do something. Thursday a friend of mine came over with trimmers and I let her start shaving before i could change my mind. She gave me a undercut with a design shaved in it.
I freakin love it. I can’t stop rubbing the back of my head and begging my husband to take a couple more pictures. I am really excited about the fact that every time I get it touched up I can have a different design shaved into it.
I’ve been so obsessed with my hair lately, it even got me thinking about it from a feminist and sociological position. I’m going to try and write a paper about the politics of hair in 2015 and how people use their hair to define themselves. I’d love to hear your thoughts on your own hair, or in the politics of hair.

Wishing you good hair days forever,
Rach

NaNoWriMo 2015

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Today is November 1st! I am so excited because it is the first day of a brand new opportunity. Today is day one of NaNoWriMo and I have fully and compltely committed to completing the challenge this year. NaNoWriMo is a fantastic opportunity to challenge myself and to set new routines and goals. I woke at a decent time this morning, despite the debauchery of Halloween night, and felt motivated enough to set my desk up and start my novel. Before three O’clock I wrote over 2000 words, more than my goal of 1,667, the prescribed wordcount on the NaNoWriMo website. I typed these, referring to the journal I’ve been writing in to prepare.
I’ve spent the last few weeks preparing for this moment, this true beginning, the first pages to my novel. I have used Pinterest as a tool to learn about story structure and outlining my novel. I also used it to research some of the history and mythology I was originally inspired by. I loved how I could create Pinterest Boards on several different subjects and I’ve realized in the last few weeks that there is a trick to Pinterest. The trick is to spend some time absently pinning interesting things on a topic, say for example, the Greek Goddess/Titan Hecate. Later, when I am feeling more focused I go back and explore these pins, taking notes or deleting ones that aren’t helpful.

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While the Pinterest research was more interesting, the outlining has been more helpful, for the first day, anyways. I found that when I actually sat down and thought about it I already knew basically where I wanted  to start and who I was dealing with when describing my main characters. I also feel more invested in this story than past novel attempts. I spent a lot of time thinking about where I wanted  the story to go and how my characters evolved and interacted within it. I feel confident in myself, in that if I can keep the habit of actually sitting down and writing every day I will stay on track and not lose focus too much, because I already have a basic idea of where it’s going.
My main goal for this month is to create a habit that I can continue for the rest of my life. If I can write for a couple hours a day every day, I am bound to create something extraordinary sooner or later.
Who out there is doing  NaNoWriMo this year?
Is this your first year?
If not, what are some of your tips for first timers?
First timers, how are you going to make sure you meet your goals?

Happy Writing,
Rach

South Side Rock Quarry

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It’s an oasis next to an expressway. A pool of paradise in the middle of Okolona. We’d been meaning to go to the Southside Rock Quarry for two summers now and at the tail end of this one we finally made it.

It was the perfect day for it, too. Sweltering hot, not a cloud in the sky. Allen and I, with our good friends, Chris and Lindsay, packed the car early. A cooler full of sandwiches and snacks, another full of beer, and 45 minutes

Lindsay, soaking up the sun.
Lindsay, soaking up the sun.

worth of blowing up rafts and beach balls. We arrived around 11.

Already, the place was hoppin’. There must have been 300+ barely clothed people all along the beach and in the water. About 50 feet from shore were floating docks of all different size. Anchored to quite a lot of them were masses of inner tubes, mostly filled with people partying there asses off.

Beyond them was just a huge expanse of water, boxed in on all side by tall walls of cut rock. There was even a little “cave” in the water that we really wanted to go explore in… And potentially sneak a doobie. We parked relatively close and I slathered myself in SPF 100. We loaded the rafts with cheap beer and very carefully loaded a Ziploc with cigarettes, a lighter, and a freshly rolled Garcia Vega. Then we headed down the rocky beach.

My pale self(ie).
My pale self(ie).

The edge of the water had a shiny film on it. We all agreed it was probably a mixture of suntan oil and alcohol, and leaped onto our rafts quickly. We half paddled, I mostly coasted past the majority of the crowd. Everyone was friendly. You couldn’t float in any direction without having to bump and slide past other people, but we all just laughed and had “Hey, how ya’ doin’s” with about everybody. There was a DJ playing great music. I heard plenty of current pop, hip hop, and rock, but also classic rock, old school rap, and some great 90’s music. Smashmouth and Salt N Pepa.

We finally got to the cave, the guys had rushed ahead of Lindsay and I, though and I could tell something wasn’t quite right. It was only about 30 feet deep, and a lot of garbage and gunk had been pushed into it. We said nope! and went farther along the rock wall until we found a decent spot. The rocks were perfectly perchable, but we decided to stay on the rafts and link our feet together. Mostly out of laziness.

The Cave
The Cave

We smoked and then allowed ourselves to float and chat and settle into comfortable periods of silence for a good hour. Until we ran out beer and realized we had the munchies. Then we paddled up to shore, snacked and took a few shots of Jaeger and Red Bull, and then headed back to the water, this time to jump off one of those docks. This was pretty much the rhythm of our entire day and it was seriously perfect.

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The guys, as we were getting ready to head out.

We were at the Quarry for over 8 hours. It was an absolutely adventurous, exciting, relaxing, exhilarating,  wonderful day. There are too many adjectives to even keep going. I was so worried that we would work this entire summer away and not have any really amazing days to look back on. This was that day, that experience, that we will always look back on when we remember the Summer of 2015.

The Strangeness

My poor husband must put up  with my strangeness.
My poor husband must put up with my strangeness.

I am awkward as f*ck. I know I am. This is not the part where I apologize for it. This also isn’t the part where I thank people for “putting up with me.” I am not that person.

I tend to embrace what makes me strange and use it to my advantage. That shit works for me. But sometimes, my awkward self comes out at the most inconvenient times. Like, for example, when someone I used to know pops into the shop I manage.

I see someone I recognize and go into panic mode. I force an uncomfortable amount of customer service and small talk into a whole new level of cringe. I never know when to just walk away. I ask stupid, outdated questions about kids who don’t talk to you anymore and animals who passed last year. I basically feel like a total BOOB.

So, to the old friend who didn’t know what she was getting herself into when she went looking for wooden rings honed from ancient elder trees fed only with fairy dust and unicorn piss, I won’t be apologizing for my awkwardness anytime soon, but I don’t think I’ll be seeing you anytime soon either.

Sorry about your 3-toed sloth.

xo Rach

The F-Bomb: A Rant

I am exhausted. I’m  tired of trying to please everyone in my life. At the end of the day, no one is happy, me least of all. You see, I enjoy an alternative lifestyle. I won’t  give you too many details, but I will say I not only enjoy my life, I embrace it. I belong to  it. I couldn’t imagine a boring leave-it-to-beaver life, lacking my awesome strange friends, our booze, smoke, and laughter filled nights, or our existential conversations at 4 in the morning.
I couldn’t imagine not cussing! That might sound stupid, but FUCK is a very important word in my vocabulary. It can be an adjective,  a noun, a verb. It expresses a wide range of emotions. Honestly, I don’t know how some people live without ever dropping an F-bomb. I don’t  think I’d be the same person without a few expletives sprinkled in.
The fact is, I like being crass. I like being a little bit raunchy, even controversial. Not only is it a great way to get people to listen, it’s  comfortable to me. Like a brand new pair of leggings, cussing just feels right. But, like leggings, my language and my message is going to piss people off sometimes. I can cry about it and eat junk food, like I did this morning, or I can let it fuel me and write about it. And still probably eat junk food.
I realized something, since I started writing this post.  I am going to piss people off. I am going to have more people disagree with me as more people read this blog. And that’s ok! The is America and you have every right that I have.  So disagree with me! Throw me a comment, lets start a discussion about it. I love debating, especially with intelligent and educated people.  But if you come here to spout hate, and to try and shoot me down,  keep on moving. I am shining too bright for anyone to put out my light.

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Instagram to Ink: Sketches

These are just some simple drawings I did by copying my own Instagram selfies. Faces aren’t my strong point and I would love feedback!! What do you love? What could I do better? Got some tips or tricks to share? I love hearing from fellow artists!
This is something I had a lot of fun doing, so expect more of my Instagram to be turned into ink soon! Until then follow me @munkyshippiechik 🙂

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