• All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Random

    I Can See Clearly Now…

    I bought my first pair of reading glasses today, so now I can clearly read the words on my Last Will & Testament.  #old

    Within a few hours…

    I misplaced my readers.

    Who wants my organs? Because I’m just gonna end this nonsense now. Ya know, my high school Anatomy & Physiology teacher Mr. Terrell used to yell at me:

    “Live fast, die young & leave a good-looking corpse, Crews! You’re going to hell in a hand basket!”

    So, yeah, Mr. Terrell was right. AND I’M GOING WITHOUT ANY *&*#@$ READERS!

    *Update: Found them and then bent one arm. This is gonna take some getting used to!

  • Acting,  All Blog Entries,  Deaf Culture & ASL,  Family & Life,  PR & Marketing,  TV & Movies

    I Need Botox, Y’all! And Other Lifetime Movie Network Observations

    Thank you to everyone who tuned in to see “Family Secrets” last night on Lifetime Movie Network*! If you missed it, it re-airs on Friday, November 8th at 8AM EST.
    I need Botox, y'all!

    Part way in, my cable box froze & rebooted. Murphy’s Law! From what I saw my dentist will be very angry that I have rebuffed his repeated requests to fix my bottom teeth, I need Botox, my family was upgraded to the suburbs and no one really knows or speaks sign language in the reenactments.

    But my cable box came back to life quickly and the rest I saw was really well done. Even if it had been awful, I am grateful for any opportunity to share my story.

    Seeing how they edited my interview was very interesting. They condensed it into an average domestic violence case (What? No shed? No trailer? No Deaf Culture commentary? Just a dude who beats and tries to kill women?) and yet still made it compelling.

    Of course, personally, my  CODA / Deaf experience and my dad’s childhood and our collective isolation and poverty is what fueled my story for my book, so that’s important for me to still tell and get across should I get another chance. And I learned a lesson to make sure to understand the angle the producers are going for, so I can speak to that and they won’t have to edit so much!

    Paquita on LMN

    My sweet Paquita made a brief posthumous cameo. She is looking longingly at Christian who is lavishing love and kisses on Griswold. Awww.

    Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it and thank you again for all the kind words and support!

    xokambri

    *The collective outrage of the women posting on Lifetime Movie Network’s Facebook page about the movie network not showing movies is worthy of being a Lifetime movie.  If I -and all of you lovely people- didn’t have a life with better things to do, I’d suggest we flood the LMN Facebook page with overflowing praise. Hopefully we’ll still get a movie made and we can tell the whole white trashtastic tale and satisfy all those disgruntled LMN subscribers. So much time on their hands these women! Sad.

  • All Blog Entries,  NYC,  PR & Marketing,  Theater

    La Soirée Giveaway & Discount Offer

    I have FOUR PAIR of tickets that I am GIVING AWAY to see La Soirée, a sexy mix of cabaret, burlesque, circus sideshow and contemporary variety. Check out this video to see what I’m talking about!

    It’s in NYC for a limited engagement after winning raves and wowing audiences from Paris to Sydney. You’re not gonna want to miss it and, hey, why not see it for FREE or at a discounted price of $49?

    To win FREE tickets, simply enter here. Super easy, no strings attached.
    LaSoiree

    THREE EASY WAYS TO GET YOUR DISCOUNTED TICKETS:

    ONLINE:  Visit www.ticketmaster.com and use code LSMKT

    BY PHONE: Call 1-800-982-2787 and mention code LSMKT

    IN PERSON: Bring a printout of this offer (download it here) to the Union Square Theatre, 100 E. 17th St.

    Performance Schedule
    Tuesday – Thursday:  8:00 PM
    Friday & Saturday: 7:00 & 10:00 PM
    Sunday: 5:00 PM

    *Offer valid on select seats and subject to availability and prior sale. Not valid on prior purchases and cannot be combined with any other discounts or promotions. All sales final; no refunds or exchanges. Telephone and Internet orders are subject to standard service fees. A $1.00 theatre facility fee is included in the price of the ticket. Limit 6 tickets per order. Offer does not include 11/7. Other blackout dates may apply. Offer Expires November 27, 2013. Offer may be revoked or modified at any time.

    “PURE ADRENALIN-FUELED ENTERTAINMENT AT ITS BEST.” – Time Out London

     

     

  • Acting,  All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  TV & Movies

    I’m on Your Tee Vee this Sunday!

    LMN Family SecretsMany months ago, I was cast in a docu-drama pilot called “Family Secrets” for the Bio Channel. It never aired & I thought it was dead in the water.

    But…lo! It is scheduled to air this Sunday, Oct 27 on Lifetime Movie Network (LMN) at 10PM EST and again at 2AM Monday, Oct 28. Since it’s a pilot, it doesn’t even have a logo or show page on Lifetime’s website, but the description and name matches what we filmed.

    I’m honestly terrified to watch it because they have re-enactments by non-Deaf people and, well, re-enactments are usually kind of cheesy to begin with. I’m mostly worried about having my story in someone else’s creative, editorial hands. Who knows how they’ll piece together my words and spin it? We shall see this Sunday! And if it’s truly god awful, well, it will make for a fun story to tell on stage.

  • All Blog Entries,  Craft Projects,  Rock House

    Window Pane Turned Picture Frame

    I found a junky old window, cleaned out the broken glass and caulk, got four new pieces of glass cut to size and ordered basic mats online which I trimmed with a box cutter. Then I chose four photos of bugs & a bird that I took at the Rock House, printed them out on photo paper and voila! A window pane turned picture frame for our dining room.

  • Acting,  All Blog Entries,  Christian Finnegan,  Family & Life,  NYC,  Theater,  TV & Movies,  Writing

    Classic NYC Week

    Highlights from my classic New York week in a nutshell:

    — Worked on “The Following” where I cheek-kissed Connie Nielsen about 20 times & ogled Kevin Bacon for 12 hours.

    — Ran 7 blocks through crowded streets in Queens & raced up 3 flights of stairs at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts to vote in the mayoral primary with only 30 seconds to spare before polls closed. It was as intense & stressful as any chase scene in a movie. I should’ve had German techno music playing in the background.

    — Finished my Playwriting I class with a 1st draft of my solo show script.

    — Invited to perform on the first ever Solo Comedy Festival #SoloCom at The Peoples Improv Theater with the script from ^.

    — Got into a screaming match with a cab driver.

    This week I’ll work on “The Good Wife”, hang with my protégé after school & accompany Christian Finnegan to his headlining gig in Virginia Beach. No screaming matches allowed.

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  PR & Marketing,  Recipes

    Zipzicle Review & Give-Away

    Here at the Crews-Finnegan abode, we’re a mostly sugar-free household, so I’m always on the lookout for ways to make snacks that also satisfy the sweet tooth. Entrez le Zipzicle!

    These nifty little plastic pouches can be used to make healthy, all natural, sugar free ice pops & other frozen treats. But let’s be honest, the way I found out about them was for boozing. My niece (Technically, my ex-niece-in-law but who’s counting and how annoying is that to type out?) posted on Facebook about how she was enjoying some potent margarita ice pops. I babysat this chick and she’s having all the fun? Nuh uh. This will not stand.

    I decided to make my own. But how? A quick Google search led me to find Zipzicles. I can make my own boozy ice pops AND healthy snacks? Sign me up! I can’t even stand how clever they are.

    Margarita PopsI’ve actually tried making healthy, non-boozy popsicles before using plastic popsicle makers but they always crack (see photo of my 3rd & final popsicle making contraption below), take up cabinet space & the pops themselves are too big. I’m usually sick of eating it before I’m 1/2 way done & waste a lot. So, I was excited to have another way to make all the recipes I have saved in my kitchen drawer. The Zipzicle site has a short list of recipes to try, too, but a simple search for popsicle recipes yields a ton more.

    So far, I’ve made & enjoyed frozen margaritas (interesting that they didn’t freeze 100%…I guess tequila has a different freeze point?) and tangy blueberry pops, both pictured below and both worthy of making again.

    Next up we’re going to make Orange Dreamzicles, Strawberry Shortcake Greek Yogurt pops, and Fudgesicles. Lord knows we’ve eaten our way through enough store-bought Fudgesicles to make a hut made of leftover sticks.

    The only improvement I would make to the design is to have a tad more plastic above the zip so our fat fingers can open them a little easier. That’s nitpicking, though, because they are nifty little suckers. Best part? After eating half of the tangy blueberry pop, I was done. Rather than have to pitch the rest, I simply zipped it back up and put in the freezer to eat later. I was able to rinse out and reuse all the Zipzicles twice now, so the $2.99 price for 12 packets ends up going a long way.

    The kind folks at Zipzicle are giving away a package of 12 to three lucky winners! Enter to win below. I know you’ll love them, too!

    P.S. No compensation was received for this post. I received a complimentary package of Zipzicles for my review and they are providing the three packages for the giveaway.

    A Rafflecopter giveaway

     

     

  • All Blog Entries,  Craft Projects

    Repurposed Frames

    Mom mailed me two old picture frames that I’d hoped to use for two pieces of art. Unfortunately, the pictures were actually glued to the glass in such a way that would make it impossible to remove them without a huge amount of work, muscle and cursing. Instead, I repurposed them into bulletin boards. Super easy. All you need is adhesive spray and cork board that you can get in sheets at Michael’s or other arts & craft supply stores.

    Before  After

     

  • Acting,  All Blog Entries,  Anipals,  Christian Finnegan,  Comedy,  Writing

    Yappy Hour Script

    (Wo)Man’s Best Friend

    by

    Christian Finnegan & Kambri Crews

    Originally performed by Christian, Kambri and Paquita in front of a live audience on “Yappy Hour” at UCB Theater on 11/1/10. And, yes, Paquita performed this exactly as scripted. Remarkable little girl.

    ~~~~~~

    INT. ROOM
    SFX: Sexy music

    Kambri is laying on a bearskin rug, wearing a nightgown,
    pouring herself a glass of wine. She spritzes perfume on
    herself.Paquita Yappy Hour
    There is a knock at the door.

    KAMBRI
    Come in!
    Pause.
    KAMBRI (CONT’D)
    I’ve been waiting for you.
    Come to me, Paquita. Come to me now!

    Paquita comes running in and leaps into Kambri’s arms.

    KAMBRI (CONT’D)
    Oh, I’ve waited so long. Kiss me,
    you fool!

    Kambri and Paquita kiss passionately.

    KAMBRI (CONT’D)
    No no stop! No need to rush. I want
    to savor every moment of this. Have
    some wine.

    Paquita drinks from Kambri’s wine glass.

    KAMBRI (CONT’D)
    And can I offer you some…cheese?

    Paquita perks up.

    KAMBRI (CONT’D)
    I knew you’d like that. But I’m
    going to make you earn it, baby.
    Let me take a look at you!

    Kambri gets Paquita to “go around” and “roll over” a few
    times, periodically feeding her cheese.

    KAMBRI (CONT’D)
    The way you move, it’s so sexy.
    It’s like your some kind
    of…animal! Not like my husband,
    that pathetic little worm!
    But he’s out of town on business,
    which means we have the whole night
    to ourselves. Isn’t that wonderful,
    darling? High five!

    Kambri and Paquita high five.

    KAMBRI (CONT’D)
    Enough with all these games. I want
    you. But I need to know you want me
    too! I need you to speak! Speak!
    Paquita barks.

    KAMBRI (CONT’D)
    Oh, I can’t take all of this sexual
    tension. Take me! Ravage me! Let’s
    make our own gravy!!

    Paquita starts humping Kambri’s arm. Kambri begins writhing
    in sexual extasy.

    KAMBRI (CONT’D)
    Yes! Yes! Give it to me, my little
    chorizo!

    CHRISTIAN (O.S.)
    Honey, I’m home!

    Christian enters, wearing his jacket and carrying a
    briefcase.

    CHRISTIAN (CONT’D)
    Great news! I was able to close the
    Mortensen deal, so I took an
    earlier flight…

    Christian stops, in shock. Paquita and Kambri continue their revelry, unaware.

    Paquita Yappy Hour 3

    CHRISTIAN (CONT’D)
    What…the…FUCK IS GOING ON
    HERE??

    Kambri snaps out of it and clutches Paquita to her chest.

    KAMBRI
    Christian? What are you doing home?
    I…um…
    CHRISTIAN
    What is the meaning of this? My wife?
    And my…BEST…FRIEND?

    KAMBRI
    Nothing! I mean, Paquita just came
    by to…I mean…

    CHRISTIAN
    I knew something was going on!
    After all I’ve done for you, this
    is how you thank me? By two-timing
    me with this little bitch?

    KAMBRI
    She’s twice the man you’ll ever be!
    Yeah, that’s right–Paquita is my
    lover. And she does things to me
    you could never dream of? Don’t
    you, Paquita honey?

    Kambri and Paquita kiss.

    CHRISTIAN
    Stop it! Stop it! I can’t take this
    anymore!

    KAMBRI
    Yeah, well what are you gonna do
    about it? Ha ha ha! What a loser!
    Right, Paquita?

    Kambri cackles while she and Paquita high five and kiss.

    CHRISTIAN
    I can’t take it…can’t take it…

    Christian slowly pulls out a gun (his hand). Kambri notices
    and is mortified.

    KAMBRIPaquita Yappy Hour 2
    Christian…? Where did you get
    that? What are you doing?

    CHRISTIAN
    I’m a loser, huh?

    KAMBRI
    Christian, don’t! DON’T!

    CHRISTIAN
    If I can’t have you, no one will!
    Die, you canine-loving whore!!!

    Christian points his finger at Kambri and “shoots” her
    repeatedly.

    CHRISTIAN (CONT’D)
    BANG! BANG! BANG!

    KAMBRI
    NO!!!

    Kambri writhes as if being shot.

    KAMBRI (CONT’D)
    (With her dying breath,)
    Unh…unh…Good dog, Paquita.
    Good…dog.
    Kambri dies.

    Pause.

    CHRISTIAN
    And you. You happy now, Paquita?
    Was it worth it? Ruining my life,
    just for a little bit of cheese?

    Christian dangles a baggy of cheese. Paquita runs over.

    CHRISTIAN (CONT’D)
    Look at you! Even now, it’s all you
    can think about! You were supposed
    to be my best friend! Well fine,
    eat up.

    Christian tosses her a morsel of cheese.

    CHRISTIAN (CONT’D)
    Consider it your last meal…bitch.
    Christian pulls out his “gun”, stoops down and…

    CHRISTIAN (CONT’D)
    BANG!

    Paquita plays dead. Christian keeps his gun on her for a few seconds, then looks away. Paquita gets up.

    CHRISTIAN (CONT’D)
    Oh, still alive, are you? BANG!
    BANG!

    Paquita again plays dead. Again, she eventually gets up.

    CHRISTIAN (CONT’D)
    WHY WON’T YOU DIE?? BANG! BANG!
    BANG!

    Paquita dies in Kambri’s arms.

    THE END

  • All Blog Entries,  Anipals,  Family & Life

    Rest in Peace, My Sweet Paquita

    Twelve years ago on July 3rd, I met my best friend. Today, I buried her.

    Over the last few weeks her health declined rapidly. By Sunday, I knew she was living out her last full day with me, so we spent the night on my fire escape watching the sun set over Manhattan. Nothing makes her happier than the blazing sun shining on her.

    Thankfully she survived the night so that Christian could see her before she passed. He flew home Monday morning after a weekend at the Tampa Improv and we drove her to the vet. The doctor brought her fever down and gave her pain medication, so when it was time to say goodbye she was excited to see us and performed a few tricks, gave us kisses and high fives. She even did her pièce de résistance and played dead unaware of the bittersweet irony.

    After her heart stopped, Christian and I gave her more kisses and let Griswold smell her. Then I wrapped her in my favorite black wrap that went with me everywhere I went, just like Paquita. I arranged her in the box with her cradling her favorite blue fuzzy toy and gave her one last kiss on her button nose.

    We drove her to the cabin this morning and buried her under a tree. The Rock House was the place that made her excited the moment we turned into the driveway and smile wide for hours after she hopped out of the car. It was almost too much, like letting a kid run loose at an amusement park. She had all the woods and sunshine a girl could want; a place where she was free and happy. I had always promised her I would give her a better place to live out her retirement years than our Queens apartment. I’m so glad I made good on that. These last two and a half years were her happiest.

    Over the years she gave people so much joy and laughter with her crazy smart tricks and ability to perform no matter what the setting including live comedy shows and a TV taping in front of a studio audience of 400 people screaming and clapping for her. Cheering because, damn, that bitch deserved it.

    Back on July 13, 2003, I wrote this:

    The best thing about Paquita is that I always have a friend willing to join me . . .

    for however far . . .

    for however long.

    Well, it seems we’ve gone the distance and our time is up. Goodbye to my smart, funny, adventurous little Paquita. Thank you for being my friend.

  • All Blog Entries,  Books & Publishing,  Deaf Culture & ASL

    CODA Author Kambri Crews at Mid-Manhattan Library

    Hey you! I’m super excited to say that I’ve been invited to speak on 8/21 at the New York Public Library. It’s a FREE event, open to all ages and will be ASL interpreted by Jon Wolfe Nelson from “The L Word”. Here are the details:

    WED, AUG 21 @ 6:30PM
    NY Public Library – Mid-Manhattan Branch
    5th Avenue
    New York, NY

    I will give a couple of stories presentation, read a bit , conduct a Q&A and sign copies of my memoir. Books will be available for purchase.

    ** For fun, check out this video of me singing a medley of songs -including “Runnin’ With the Devil” by Van Halen!- in ASL:

    * So, did you enjoy BURN DOWN THE GROUND? If so, then perhaps you’d be so kind as to rate and/or review it on GoodReadsAmazonBarnes & NobleiTunes, or Indie Bound. Pretty please?

    ~~~~~~~

    The reviews are in for Burn Down the Ground: A Memoir by Kambri Crews and they’re raves!

    Buy it today!

    “Poignant and unsettling.” —Kirkus Reviews

    “Crews’ story has heartbreaking depth and complexity..this is a rich read.” —Library Journal

    A compelling testament to the strength of the human spirit.”—Booklist

    “Harrowing . . . A remarkable odyssey of scorched earth, collateral damage, and survival.” —Publishers Weekly

     “Crews’ account (the title refers to lighting brush on fire to clear out snakes) is as well-paced and stirring as a novel. In her fluid narrative (she’s also a storyteller on the side, a gig that helped her develop this book), Crews neither wallows in self-pity nor plays for cheap black-comedic yuks. Instead, this book stands out for what matters most: Crews’ story, bluntly told.” —Elle magazine

     

    ABOUT THE BOOK

    For fans of Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle, an unflinching, emotional memoir by the hearing daughter of two deaf parents, about the rampant dysfunction of her rural Texas childhood and the searing violence that left her father serving a twenty-year prison sentence.

    Successful New York producer and publicist Kambri Crews always knew that her childhood was unusual– she spent a portion of it in a tin shack deep with her family in the woods of Texas. But when, in her early 30s, her charismatic and adored father is sentenced to twenty years in prison for stabbing and nearly killing his girlfriend, she must confront for the first time his violent, destructive behavior. In her brutally honest, completely captivating memoir, Crews struggles to forge a relationship with her incarcerated father and revisits her unconventional family and the long road she took to her current life

    Read a FREE excerpt  * Read the rave reviews * View pictures of the tin shed

    Easy purchase links: WalMartTargetAmazonBarnes & NobleiTunesIndie Bound and on KambriCrews.com

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Spicy Brown Mustard

    Soaking SeedsSoaking Seeds

    To make mustard, all you REALLY need is mustard seeds and vinegar. Who knew?

    Soak overnight in non-reactive, airtight container at room temperature. Pictured at right, you can see how the seeds are at the bottom and much of the vinegar is pooled on top. Then, after a day, how the vinegar is almost entirely soaked up by the seeds.

    • 1 cup white wine vinegar
    • 3/4 cup brown mustard seeds

    Put your seeds and vinegar into a blender and pulse till blended. Anything else is optional. I added:

    • 2 tablespoons dry white wine (or water if you’re teetotaler or whatever they call it)
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
    Let your blended mustard age another day or two for best results. The recipe as above filled a 16 0z Bell Jar.
    For spicier mustard, adding horseradish is an option. For less spicy mustard, go with a lighter color mustard seed.

    Ready to Blend Mustard!

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    BananAppétit

    This is yummy follow up to my easy, peasy, chocolate covered fruit recipe. Behold the frozen chocolate covered banana & peanut butter sandwiches with able assistance by Paquita, the butter knife-licking Chihuahua.

    *For the chocolate, melt 1/4 cup of dark chocolate with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. For detailed instructions, click here.

    Ingredients Kitchen Assistant Sammiches BananAppétit

  • All Blog Entries,  Random

    The Final Chapter…?

    A roach-type bug the size of a mouse ran across the living room. I whacked it like it was Jason and I was Tommy in the end scene of Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter. Hopefully, unlike the movies, there will not be parts 5 through 12.

    Apparently my soft spot for insects of all shapes & sizes is limited to the Rock House, and I’m okay with that.

     

  • All Blog Entries,  Mentoring

    Calm in the Storm

    I’m seeing my protégé on Saturday, two months to the day since I last saw her.

    That’s an eternity for kids but especially when the kid has been through some stuff, when she has seen mentors come and go for others. Even though I keep in touch with postcards and Facebook, there’s always the niggling feeling that this is it. It’s over. She wasn’t worth sticking around for. She wasn’t wanted or loved, relationships don’t last and people will abandon you at any given moment.

    The last time I was out of town for this long, I surprised her. Her mom told her to wake up early and be ready to babysit when, in reality, I was en route to pick her up for a day together. When I walked through her front door, the look of shock on her face took my breath away. Think of your most exaggerated jaw-dropped, bug-eyed face and that was her but she wasn’t faking. She was thunderstruck; the textbook definition of blown away.

    In an instant she sprang off the couch, bolted across the room and leapt into my arms. She wrapped her legs around my waist and arms around my neck and squeezed.

    Squeezed like a tsunami was raging through Queens and if she let go of me, it’d be all she wrote.

    I squeezed back knowing I’m not letting go.

    We’ll ride this storm together, girl, and I’ll be your tree.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Random

    Throwing Tampons Must Be a Texas Thang

    The first and only time I was summoned to the principal’s office I was in 6th grade and eleven years old. Hearing my name called out in science class sent an electric jolt through me. I felt the sting ofsmall_paddle_with_holes every eyeball on me as I slunk out of the room toward Mr. Simmons’ office, a place very familiar to my older brother David but previously unseen by me.

    Mr. Simmons kept a paddle hanging outside his door as an ominous warning to Not. Mess. With. Him. It was a flat, rectangular shaped hunk of varnished wood with a handle and holes drilled into the paddle to reduce air resistance and increase velocity. Ouch. David was BFFs with that paddle.

    I got hotter and clammier with each step toward THE OFFICE wondering if my rear-end would become intimate with a hunk of wood for KissingPotion the first time. I quickly scanned the inventory of my life in search of what I could’ve done wrong to deserve this. But I had not broken a rule since I was five years old when my brother busted me stealing Cherry Smash flavored roll-on lip gloss called Kissing Potion made by Maybelline. I was a good girl.

    When I entered the office, I was relieved to see a few other girls in attendance. I would not suffer this fate alone. Mr. Simmons launched into a speech that started with school bus safety. That’s when I realized the other girls also rode Bus #9 driven by Mrs. Buttercase.

    I audibly exhaled and turned about five shades of pink. “That’s what this is about?” Relief swept over me even though I knew my brother was one of “the boys”. He’d thrown one of the tampons at me, nailing me in the left eye. It landed at my feet where I gawked at it wondering what everyone was so freaked out about. It was just a white hunk of cotton with a string coming out of it. What was the big deal?

    “This mornin’, Mrs. Buttercase told me some of the boys were throwing feminine hygiene products.”

    I’d never seen a real tampon before in or out of its applicator, but the older kids were in hysterics. They winced, convulsed and heaved like they might puke if the flying cotton came within an inch of them. Chaos reigned. Mr. Simmons was right when he yelled, “It’s a miracle Mrs. Buttercase didn’t run off into a ditch and kill all y’all.”

    David was sure to get paddled again for this infraction, but I hadn’t thrown anything. I had only kicked the offending cotton under the seat in front of me.

    Mr. Simmons continued, “But what I wanna know is where did the boys get such a thing? Which one of you girls knows something about this?” I could swear he was looking at me. Someone supplied the ammunition and they were going to be in as much trouble as the boys who’d begun throwing them around. My brother was usually the instigator of trouble on Bus #9. By the look in Mr. Simmons’ eyes, David had already been convicted and I was the likely accomplice. Never mind that any boy could’ve raided his mother’s or sister’s stash. Duh.

    Anxious to distance myself from my brother, I shot my hand in the air. Mr. Simmons looked surprised, like he’d caught a fish without using any bait; it jumped into his boat. “Yes, Kambri, what do you have to say about this?”

    “Sir, it wasn’t me. I haven’t even had my first period!”

    Mr. Simmons turned a shade of scarlet worthy of its own letter. “Oh, well, umm…okay, you can go on back to class then.”

    And thus began my lifelong habit of sharing Too. Much. Information.

    ~Kambri
    I never ever got Kissing Potion by stealing or purchasing. The slick, yummy gloss was forever ruined for me by the shame of stealing it once in a moment of selfish passion.

  • All Blog Entries,  Christian Finnegan,  Comedy,  NYC

    FREE! Christian Finnegan Workshops a New One Hour Stand Up About NYC

    Comedian and Queens resident Christian Finnegan will present free workshop performances of New York City-related stories and stand up comedy called THE NYC PROJECT.

    Finnegan, a resident of New York City since the age of 18, will tell jokes, stories and other “only in New York” material during a one-hour show titled THE NYC PROJECT. Why only New York material? “Over the years I’ve written lots of jokes about this glorious mess of a town, and it’s some of my favorite to perform,“ Finnegan said. “Unfortunately, bits about Duane Reade salespeople and Astor Place skateboarders don’t travel well, so they rarely get told. They tantalize me like an overpriced artisanal pickle in a Brooklyn shop window.”

    Christian’s stand up albums, “Two for Flinching” and “Au Contraire!”, are available on iTunes and at Amazon. Visit www.christianfinnegan.com for more.2868336266_924010a2dc_o

    SUN, JUL 14 – SAT, JUL 20 @ 7PM (SHARP!)
    The Creek and the Cave
    10-93 Jackson Ave.
    Long Island City, NY 11101

    FREE! General admission. No minimums & no RSVP required.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Random

    Who Wore it Better?

    I was watching “Cheers” and nearly choked on my chicken when I saw the shirt Carla was wearing. I had the same shirt when I was 10 yrs old and wore it on my brother’s 14th birthday.

    It’s like the trailer trash edition of Who Wore it Better?

    14th Birthday Carla Shirt

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Random

    One To Grow On

    I came across a mustard yellow moth, perched on the sash of a window. Had it not been perched on a white windowsill, it otherwise may have been overlooked.

    Io Moth - Closed

    But I gently prodded his wings open and LO!

    Io Moth - Open

    Moral of the story? You don’t know what beauty, talent and creativity is lurking beneath until you spread your wings.

    And that’s one to grow on.

     

  • All Blog Entries,  Random

    Gee, Thanks, Mom!

    On 48 Hours Mystery, a mom explains why she was suspicious of her daughter’s new love interest. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mom! I’ll refrain from further remarks about instilling daughters with self-esteem so they don’t run off with abusive cads. Oh. Wait. Never mind.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    http://kambricrews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/IMG_3048.mov

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  TV & Movies

    “Here’s the Thing” with Alec Baldwin

    I’ve tuned in to two episodes of “Here’s the Thing” hosted by Alec Baldwin on NPR and find it immensely listenable. I actually ran a 10K (6.2 miles) yesterday listening to the interview with Lena Dunam. Listening to two people chat thoughtfully might not seem like a good running companion, but I was completely engaged and not aware of the intentional beating I was giving my body.

    I was excited to share this new discovery of mine (It’s been around for awhile. I don’t know where I’ve been.), but he’d gotten himself into a little media brouhaha (again). So I held off.

    It frustrates me. Alec’s really smart, funny and gives good radio. This constant battle with tabloids reminds me of Sean Penn during the married-to-Madonna-days. The press and papparrazzi have his number and love to push it.

    Once, when I was an extra on 30 Rock* there was a little dust up with an assistant. I could share the tidbit here and that’s all it would take for a tabloid to mess with him. Whether he was right or wrong wouldn’t matter. I totally understand (too much!) his righteous anger. I, too, hate seeing bad behavior go unpunished and so I will, often to my own detriment, see it through to the end. I will “win”. There’s more to it than that, of course, which will have to wait for another time.

    I hope he’ll work and work and work in spite of it all. I like him. I like what he does.

    Meanwhile, here’s the thing: http://www.wnyc.org/shows/heresthething

    *Oh, you didn’t see my Emmy-worthy appearance as a champagne swilling campaign donor? Well, let me remind you:

    30 Rock

  • All Blog Entries,  Craft Projects

    DIY: Brown Sugar Body Scrub

    Brown Sugar Body ScrubMy favorite body polish by Fresh costs $65 for a 14 oz jar! (GULP!) It’s heavenly. It exfoliates gently, smells…well…fresh, and leaves my skin feeling like silk. It’s ridiculously overpriced and not something I splurge on very often.

    Instead, I perfected a recipe that could pass any side-by-side comparison and have been using it during every bath time since, making up for all the times I didn’t because I’m a cheap bastard. Now I’m a smooth, soft, shiny, silky happy cheap bastard!

    The basic formula is two parts sugar to one part oil. So, for every cup of sugar, you’ll want 1/2 cup of oil. I used a combination of brown sugar & sugar in the raw (a/k/a turbinado sugar for the larger crystals) and a blend of coconut & olive oil.

    My exact breakdown was:

    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup sugar in the raw
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup coconut oil
    Essential oils (any blend about 10-15 drops total)

    You can use ANY sugar or oil you like or have on hand…jojoba, almond, olive, white, brown, turbinado, whatever. As long as you keep that basic formula of 2 parts to 1, you should be good to go. Essential oils are nice to enhance the smell, too. For this scrub, I prefer citrusy scents like orange, lemon, lemongrass (Is lemongrass citrusy? I dunno, but I dig it.), grapefruit and the like.

    I use my finger to stir it up beforehand as the sugar settles to the bottom between uses. I use about a tablespoon each for the backs of my arms and elbows, my décolletage, knees and feet.  Be careful of a slippery tub and *pat* yourself dry to retain that silky smooth feeling.

    SUPPLIES:
    You’ve probably got sugar and some sort of oil.
    Essential oils are super cheap and available in local health stores and Amazon, of course.
    I got these cute little labels from MyOwnLabels.com

    ENJOY!

    IMG_0674

  • All Blog Entries,  Craft Projects

    DIY: Bombs Away! Bath Fizzy Recipe

    Lush makes the best bombs in my opinion (Phoenix Rising is heaven on earth to me), but there is no Lush store near me. Bombs are a little extravagance I treat myself to on a rare occasion because at the average cost $7 a plop that adds up!  They’re super easy and cheap to make. How have I not been doing this for years?  

    Granted, I’ve not mastered the art to the level of imitating the aforementioned Phoenix Rising in both appearance and function, but my first batch (lavender and coconut oil) was soothing and made for a lovely bath. Also, because it’s been so humid at the cabin (92% humidity? And it’s not raining? The air is THICK!), the moisture was drawn into my bombs as they dried and “activated” the fizz. Not ideal. Made them a little messy, too.

    The fizz is really for fun, though. It’s the Epsom salt, coconut and lavender oils that made for the soothing night time dip in the tub. And mine still did fizz a bit. Next batch I’ll make when the humidity breaks or will let them set in a sealed tub with some rice to help draw moisture away. (I’ve read that I can bake them with the oven door open at 170° for a few hours to prevent this. I have not tested this out.)

    Here’s how I made my homemade bath bombs at a fraction of the cost. There are a million recipes online and I spent way too much time perusing them all before attempting to MAKE one. I was the band that wastes rehearsal time coming up with their name and logo and never actually makes music.

    “Just make one then tinker later,” I finally told myself. So I did!

    Ingredients

    This is a very, very simple recipe and for a small yield and a great place to start for a beginner. I’ll update this post as I perfect it or get feedback so BOOKMARK IT, FOOL!

    Meanwhile, this worked for me and I enjoyed a lovely bath:

    1/2 cup baking soda
    1/4 cup citric acid
    1/4 cup epsom salt
    10 drops essential oil(s) (I only used lavender my first time. Simple and wonderful.)
    2 tbsp organic coconut oil, warmed to a liquid.
    Optional: scents and/or a couple of drops of food coloring.* I did not use these my 1st time.

    Combine all ingredients. Add a bit more coconut oil if needed. It will be the consistency of moist sand. If it’s fizzing, there’s too much moisture so add a little more dry ingredients.

    Muffin Tin Mold

    Press into muffin tin or silicone mold oiled generously with coconut oil. As you can see, my small batch (heh) yielded 7 mini bombs. I used two plus some crumbles when I bathed, but I like the option of only using one if needed and adding more. You can always add, but you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, ya know?

    Let them harden for 24 hours in a dry place. If it’s really humid, try letting them set in a sealed plastic container with some rice or silica gel to draw moisture away from the bombs. (I gotta try this myself along with the aforementioned oven trick.)

    Remove them from the mold and they’re ready to package or use. I used cellophane bags and labels from MyOwnLabels.com for gifts. For myself, I keep them in a mason jar (of course!) with a little rice at the bottom to help wick away moisture.

    Bath Bombs

    If you don’t use them right away, again they need to be stored in a dry place.

    Now that I’ve got this one under my belt, I’ll try adding blended scents, oils, colors, and even real bits of lavender buds, flower petals, cinnamon sticks and such.

    *Make sure scents are cosmetic grade. I don’t use them, so not sure what to tell ya. Also, some essential oils like peppermint and rosemary are bad for people with high blood pressure. Huh. Who knew? I’m no doctor, I just read that while researching all this stuff. So, know your body, check with your doctor, etc.

  • All Blog Entries,  Craft Projects,  Family & Life

    Baking Soda Chrome Cleaner


    So, I’m guessing everyone reading this already knew that baking soda cleans chrome like new.

    WELL NO ONE TOLD ME!

    I just learned this today and am now looking for anything and everything with a shiny surface to scrub!

    Okay, so I received my birthday gift to myself in the mail today. A vintage Swing-A-Way ice crusher in avocado green exactly like the one we had when I was a kid. It’s really for Christian Finnegan, because he likes to chomp ice which his dentist said is a no-no. I used ours every Saturday & Sunday morning & sprinkled Kool-Aid powder on the ice to make a trailer trash sno-cone.

    The one I won on Ebay came with a very stubborn strip of adhesive from old masking tape, probably from a garage sale. It was STUCK like concrete and plaster. A quick Google search told me that the metal was chrome and to use baking soda to polish it. Well, sure, but what about that strip of plaster? See for yourself!

    ShinyChrome

    BeforeAfter

  • All Blog Entries,  Craft Projects

    DIY: Sinus Soothers

    I am constantly sniffing and blowing snot and fighting off Paquita’s aggressive attempts lick it out for me. (What is it with dogs and snot?) Christian has sinus issues, too, so I found a recipe on Pinterest for making homemade shower soothers (they used to have these by SudaCare in stores and no longer carry them from what I can tell).

    Here’s what you need to make about 10 mini-muffin-sized sinus soothers*.Ingredients

    1 cup of baking soda
    1/3 cup of water
    Essential oils: eucalyptus, rosemary and lavender
    Muffin tin & liners

    *I made mini ones because I hate wasting. If one mini tablet isn’t enough, it’s easy to add another to the tub. If you know you take long showers or want the extra strength you might wanna make regular sized tablets. To make 12 of them, use 3 cups of baking soda & 1 cup of water.

    Sinus Soothers

    1) Add baking soda to a mixing bowl

    2) Add water a little at a time until the consistency is like a thick paste.

    3) Spoon in to your muffin liners/tin, and leave them be for about 12 hours. If you’re like me and don’t have patience, you can bake them for 20 minutes at 350°. Also, baking helps if you’ve misjudged your mixture.

    4) Once they’re set, add a few drops of each essential oil. For some, I dropped in 2 drops each of eucalyptus, rosemary & lavender. For others, I dropped in 3 drops of eucalyptus & 3 of peppermint. I wanna see what works best for me. For regular sized muffins, double the amount. Play around if you like as long as you’ve got the eucalyptus in there.

    I stored mine in an old Mason jar (of course!) and made a little label on top using craft paper. When you’re ready to use them, remove the paper liner and put them anywhere on the floor of the shower.

    NOTE: Rosemary & peppermint essential oils can be bad for people with high blood pressure and stuff. I don’t know about other essential oils or risks. As I’ve mentioned before, know your body, consult your doctor, etc.

    Breath Easy!

  • All Blog Entries,  Craft Projects,  Family & Life

    Bath & Birthday Works

    Happy birthday to me! And my mom and my sis-in-law. As a gift to us all, I made a bunch of indulgent little gifts.

    Brown Sugar Body Scrub

    First and BEST, I made some brown sugar body scrub to mimic my favorite body polish by Fresh that costs $65 for a 14 oz jar! (GULP!) It’s heavenly. It exfoliates gently, smells…well…fresh, and leaves my skin feeling like silk. But it’s ridiculously overpriced and not something I can splurge on very often. I perfected a recipe that could pass any side-by-side comparison and have been using it during every bath time since, making up for all the times I didn’t because I’m cheap. Now I’m a smooth, soft, shiny, silky happy cheap lady!

    Second, I packaged my favorite fire starters in little sack with wicks sticking out of them. Now, personally, I just burn the firestarter on its own, but they’re not very attractive. Hopefully the paper sack will burn enough to ignite the ugly starter. If not, lighting the fire starter itself is guaranteed to work. They are crazy efficient and pennies compared to the expensive logs sold in stores.

    Bug Off! Citronella Candle

    Third, I made bug repellent citronella candles. I love burning candles, but dayummmm they’re flipping expensive! To top it off, so much wax ends up leftover and wasted. After doing some research, it turns out most if not all are made with paraffin wax and synthetic citronella, not the essential oil with true protective qualities. Huh. How about that?

    I chose to make hand poured soy wax (natural and, hey, soy beans are almost entirely farmed in the U.S.A.!) and citronella essential oil (the real deal). This was the trickiest project as it turns out candle-making is practically science. Once I got it figured out, I made my gifts. I hope theirs work as much as mine does. I started out small to save on expenses for the inevitable mistakes. Now that I know my little one is working, I’m gonna make larger ones in recycled pails, jars and cans which are better for the open air patio.

    Lemon SoapI also threw in some homemade soap with real bits of lemon zest and drops of lemon essential oil. Mmmm, fresh & clean smelling and so great for the kitchen. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll keep making my own soap, though. So many people make amazing soaps and soap isn’t that freakishly overpriced like everything else. It’ll depend if I find a recipe or two that I love so much that I have to have more. And I need to either get real molds or a proper soap slicer. I used recycled yogurt cups which are the right size and shape, but I had to cut them with a butcher knife which made one break and the others look sloppy with cracks in them. Drat.

    Finally, my second favorite but a close race for first, I made some bath bombs a/k/a bath fizzies. Lush makes the best bombs in my opinion (Phoenix Rising is heaven on earth to me), but there is no Lush store near me. Also, as I near the end of this post, I see the main trend is that I’m cheap. Let’s say frugal. Bombs are a little extravagance I’d treat myself to on a rare occasion because at the average cost $7 a plop that adds up!  They’re super easy and cheap to make. So much so, it’s like the body scrub…how have I not been doing this for years? Bath Bombs

    Granted, I’ve not mastered the art to the level of imitating the aforementioned Phoenix Rising in both appearance and function, but my first batch (lavender and coconut oil) was soothing and made for a lovely bath. Also, because it’s been so humid at the cabin (92% humidity? And it’s not raining? The air is THICK!), the moisture was drawn into my bombs as they dried and “activated” the fizz. Not ideal.Made them a little messy, too. The fizz is really for fun, though. It’s the Epsom salt, coconut and lavender oils that made for the soothing night time dip in the tub. And mine still did fizz a bit. Next batch I’ll make when the humidity breaks or will let them set in a sealed tub with some rice to help draw moisture away.

    Crafty Gifts

    I had a few more in the works –bath salts, refreshing spritzes, bug spray– but my package was late enough as is, so look out ladies! Christmas is just around the corner.

    I’ll provide instructions for each over the next few days or weeks. Meanwhile, you can read about them online and stock up your supplies. I had no idea essential oils were super cheap and available in local health stores and Amazon, of course. I’d have been doing this ages ago!

    Other resources:
    Brambleberry
    Bulk Apothecary
    My Own Labels

  • All Blog Entries,  Recipes

    Roasted Avocado & Couscous Salad

    While Christian hobnobs in LA (go see him perform!), I’m rounding out the last week of my month at the Rock House. Without the option of hundreds of restaurants and take-out menus all within a few blocks, I’ve had to seek out new things to cook for myself. I can only enjoy my Chicken Tortilla Soup so many times before it starts to feel like water torture. So, this is what I cooked up today.

    INGREDIENTS:
    1 AvocadoIngredients
    1/4 cup couscous +  1/2 tspn olive oil
    1/8 of a red onion or one shallot, finely chopped
    1/3 cup water
    Mixed salad greens, how much is up to you

    DRESSING INGREDIENTS
    Juice of 1 small lemon
    1/2 tbsp olive oil

    1. Pre-heat the oven to 400. Peel and deseed (? Is that a thing? A word? Sounds naughty in a biblical sense.) the avocado and cut into quarters. Place them in a greased pan. (I spray with Pam, but whatever. You get it.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper. I went nuts on the pepper and will probably use more next time. I also used some garlic salt.
    2. Roast the avocado for about 15 minutes. You want them to look a little bit golden-brown around the edges. While they’re roasting….
    3. Throw some mixed greens into a bowl.
    4. Juice your lemon into a little ramekin or bowl or whatever you’ve got and then stir in the 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. That’s your dressing.
    5. Bring the 1/3 cup of water to boil. Once it’s boiling, add the couscous, 1/2 tsp olive oil, and red onion; cover and remove from heat. Let it sit 5 minutes before fluffing with a  fork.
    6. Pour yourself a glass of wine and set your table.
    7. Dump the couscous and red onion mixture on top of the greens. Add the roasted avocado and drizzle with lemon-olive oil dressing.

    Eat your heart out and remember to thank me later!

    This was one serving and a very healthy size for a girl. I ate almost 2 hours ago and am still stuffed. I could’ve done with a little less couscous for sure. On a hungrier stomach, sure. If you’re cooking for you and a dude (or, if you’re a dude, you and a chick), then double the portions and give him a bit more. That’s what I plan on doing when I see Christian next.

    I also plan on trying it with quinoa instead of couscous at some point. Great option if you’re the gluten-free type. And I might throw in some grape tomatoes if they’re handy.

    Roasted Avocado & Couscous Salad

  • All Blog Entries,  Recipes

    Easy Monte Cristo Sandwich a/k/a Hot Ham & Swiss

    Throughout my entire high school career, the only consistent meal I ate was school lunch. Rather than pay for the three-course meal that differed each day, I stuck with the cheaper choice offered at a sort of satellite take-out counter.

    “One hot ham & cheese sandwich & a peanut butter wafer, please.”

    Every. Single. Day.

    The only time I wavered was because my pocketbook deemed it so that I could only have one or the other.

    Now that I’m a grown up*, my taste buds have matured**. To make it a little more interesting for my adult palate, I made an easy twist on the plain old (processed) ham & (processed “yellow”) cheese sandwich.

    INGREDIENTS FOR TWO:
    1/3 of a sheet of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry (Ahem. Where’s my %, dudes. I’m still pimping ya!)
    Deli ham of your choosing
    Genuine fresh Swiss cheese
    Dijon or other spicy mustard
    One egg, lightly beaten (optional)

    DIRECTIONS:
    1) Pre-heat the oven to 400°
    2) Roll out 1/3 of a sheet of puff pastry on to a lightly floured surface into a 12″ square then cut it in half.
    3) Add a few slices of deli ham & swiss on each square of dough & smear it with dijon/spicy mustard.
    4) Fold over your dough to make a sealed sandwich.
    5) Coat with an egg wash if you like your dough looking brown and done. I’m cheap, so I save the egg unless I’m trying to show off for comp’ny
    6) Bake for 20 minutes at 400°
    7) Cut each sandwich in half and serve with cornichon pickles & an ice cold lager, because that’s what I like and I assume you’re inviting me over for lunch.

    For a sweet twist on this savory recipe, skip the mustard and serve with maple syrup and a dusting of confectioner’s sugar.

    *Still sucking syrup out of the bottle like it’s my mama’s teat & eating olives & pickles from the jar. I fear this will not change. Grown ups don’t do these things, do they?
    **Matured=died. They’re dead. It takes habanero peppers drenched in wasabi make me taste anything.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Food & Drink,  Recipes,  Rock House

    Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice Cream

    Sopaipillas & FlagIn high school, I studied Spanish for two years under the tutelage of Mrs. Spooner. One assignment required us to make a Mexican dish of our choosing. I elected sopapillas because, A) I loved them, and B) I knew I could get them at Pancho’s at their freakishly cheap “all you care to eat” buffet. After chowing down, I could simply raise the Mexican flag at my table, request additional sopaipillas from my server, stuff  them in my purse, repeat a few more times and still be home in time for Moonlighting.

    “What’s a sopaipilla?” some of you might be wondering. It’s deep-fried pastry that can be used in all sorts of dishes, but is primarily served as a dessert served in the shape of a puffed up little pillow and served with honey. We would tear off a corner, pour a little honey in the hole, swirl it around and mmm, mmm, GOOD!

    I have never seen them anywhere in the Midwest or Northeast (though I’m sure I’ll hear from someone telling me where they serve them around these parts). The one time I did order them from a menu at a New York restaurant, they were not sopaipillas. They were hard & crunchy like cinnamon pita chips. That was my first and last attempt since 1991.

    Now that we have the Rock House, I’ve enjoyed cooking, baking, making, trying all sorts of things. So when I came across this sopaipilla recipe in In Style magazine, I clipped it. It’s been sitting in a drawer ever since. I mean, it looks delicious. But it also looks like a messy hassle. Look at the list of ingredients and all those steps in the instructions. Frying, too? Messy & bad for me and…ah, forget it.

    Fast forward to today when I came across the recipe stuck in a drawer. “Hey, wait a second? Isn’t a sopaipilla basically just puffed pastry?!”

    PUFFED PASTRY! AKA my new BFF and answer to all the world’s ills. Since discovering it a few months ago (Like I’m Chris Columbus or something. Heh. You’re welcome for The Americas, BTW!), I’ve used it for pot pies, egg soufflés, desserts, tarts, pizzas, you name it. If it came in queen-sized sheets, I would sleep with it like a down comforter. That’s how versatile and easy it is. How easy? I’M GONNA EAT IT LIKE A SOPAIPILLA!

    If you don’t make your own dough, this is the hardest part: Bake the puff pastry, drizzle it with honey. DONE! Screw you Bobby Flay & your stupid, messy recipe!

    Now, technically, that’s all a sopaipilla is, but I fancied it up a bit because when you get old the things that excited you when you were young only make you feel hopeless and empty and search for meaning in life. So I spiced it up a bit with sugar & cinnamon (which is how many folks eat their fritters & sopaipillas anyway. This was my first time.)

    Sugar & Spice

    INGREDIENTS:
    1/3 of one sheet of Pepperidge Farm’s Puff Pastry Sheet (they owe me a % of profits based on how much I’ve been pimping them out!)
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 tspn ground cinnamon
    Honey
    Vanilla or Caramel Ice Cream (Because screw it. WHY NOT?! It’s my mom’s birthday! {Or whatever excuse you need to justify this delicious decision.})

    Heat the oven to 400°F.  Cut the pastry sheet into 4 squares & bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.

    Place the sugar and cinnamon into a paper or plastic baggy and shake to combine.

    Add the hot pastries to the bag and shake until coated with the sugar mixture. Drizzle the pastries with the honey or, if you have a squeeze bottle of honey, let the diners tear off a corner and squeeze away themselves. Serve yourself first, though, because they’re best hot and you deserve the best.

    Add a dollop of ice cream to the plate and you have what I call Sugar & Spice and everything Nice Cream.

    Dunking in Sugar & Spice Waiting for Pastry Bon Appetit!

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  NYC,  Random

    Chicken of the NYC

    I was standing on my corner waiting for the light to change when an older woman of European or Middle Eastern descent with a utility push cart suddenly stopped and asked me, “Do you eat tuna?”

    “Sorry?” I was sure I understood her, but wait. What?

    “Tuna. Do you eat it?”

    “Oh, tuna, yes I eat it.”

    “Do you know of this Chicken of the Sea. Is good yes?”

    “Sure,” I shrugged. “Brands are kind of all the same.” I didn’t think it worth it to parse out the differences between oil and water, chunk, light, blah, blah, blah.

    “Because my husband say it CHEAP!” She then launched into a scathing detailed account of how she came home with the groceries and he bitched about the cheap tuna demanding she go back to the store to return it. She disagreed and said, “He eat what I bring home!”

    Strong words for a woman who was on her way to Western Beef to exchange the tuna.

    I laughed and said, “I don’t think the brand matters but look for solid white albacore.”

    “Huh? Al-buh-core?” She repeated, unsure of this new word I was introducing to her vocabulary.

    “Yes, A-L-B-A…You know what, I’ll just show you.” So she and I walked along with her pushcart to Western Beef, her complaining of her nitpicking husband the whole way.

    In the canned meat section of the store, I showed her the difference between tuna packed in oil versus water and chunk versus solid white.

    I gave her a wicked little grin and said, “Take home Bumble Bee, so your husband will think he’s right.”

    “He will complain about something else then! He eat what I bring home!” She said as she placed the Bumble Bee in her basket.

  • All Blog Entries,  Rock House,  Running

    Skinny Mountain Air

    “Worst run ever,” I posted on Facebook last Sunday. And it was. I felt like a beginner and the time on my Runkeeper app agreed. I set out for a simple 5k. I say simple, because I’m not a beginner and I had completed a 10k race only a week before. One week! Twice the distance. And I sucked. It felt like sand bags were tied to my legs and a Sumo wrestler was sitting on my chest. I’m at my fittest since my book came out! (Thanks friends, tour and hotel bar for the good times, but I’m happy to shed you!) How can this BE?!

    “Amazing how quickly I fall out of the practice of running in the mountains,” I continued. “I’ll try again tomorrow. Oof.”

    Typing that felt like a copout. I mean “mountains”? Really? Sure, I can see amazing mountain ranges in the distance as I run. Vistas that offer something beautiful, different, interesting with every run, every season. Flocks of wild turkeys, a cornucopia of colors, fuzzy caterpillars crossing the road not realizing they’re in mortal danger…so much to see, things to photograph, moths-in-the-making to save. Mountains are what I see off in the distance.

    I did go the next day as I publicly declared and it was worse. I only went 1.47 miles and was slower. SLOWER! Granted I was with Griswold, but even he was dragging! Usually he flies along, excited for the adventure, fresh air, wildlife and the best part: running back home. But he still trailed behind me, huffing & puffing.

    This required some research.

    So I scoured my Runkeeper history about when I last ran up here, when did I run here consistently, and just how high up are we? Which is why I can’t switch to Map My Run…I’ve got too much stored on Runkeeper and if theres one thing I love, it’s STATISTICS! I might even make an Excel spreadsheet of all the info, that’s how much I love examining each and every nuance. Is it too late to become a statistician for a living?

    Turns out we’re 1,247 feet above sea level. The race I ran the week before was at sea level or barely above/below. Hmm, interesting. While it’s not Machu Picchu where we had time to acclimatize, it’s still a significant difference from home.  Turns out, athletes regularly train in higher altitudes before races! Not 10Ks on Roosevelt Island but, still…

    I’ve always remarked that even though I workout less up here, I lose weight and tend to eat and snack less. And that’s a thing, too! Check out this article I found: Can Thin Mountain Air Make You Slim?

    Aha! So I’m not making it up! It’s harder to run up here and I take in fewer calories. I KNEW I LOVED THE ROCK HOUSE!

    Bolstered by my new knowledge –I don’t suck entirely, I just need a day or two to acclimatize– I ran two more short runs (5Ks) followed by 20-minute Bob Harper workouts. (Short but great. The hour long workouts are killer! I highly recommend them.)

    Based on these runs, by this time next week, all will be normal. Fascinating! (To me, anyway.)

  • All Blog Entries,  Books & Publishing,  Deaf Culture & ASL

    To Read & Watch

    I’ve had the book Far From the Tree on my wish list since it was published late last year. His inclusion of deafness and Deaf culture sparked my interest. In his book, “Andrew Solomon tells the stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children but also find profound meaning in doing so.

    Solomon’s startling proposition is that diversity is what unites us all. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, as are the triumphs of love Solomon documents in every chapter.”

    He spent a decade on this project and that intensive research is reflected in the book’s length, a whopping 976 pages. That’s partly why I haven’t read it yet, as I have a full Kindle & bookshelf. But after watching Mr. Solomon’s incredible Ted Talk, Far From the Tree is now next on my reading list. Watch his speech here:

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Strawberry Napoleon

    I discovered puff pastry! In search of a lighter, flakier and less processed pre-made dough for my Panera knock-off soufflés, I came across Pepperidge Farm’s puffed pastry sheets. So easy, so light and the come in two frozen sheets folded into three (so six total), so I can thaw just one sheet and not have to use a whole can of crescent roll dough.

    Anyway, the photo of a dessert on the box caught my eye. The recipe for the image –a “Strawberry Napoleon”– was included on the side. I never used to pay attention to those but, really, wouldn’t the manufacturer know what recipes work best for their product? Seems logical, so I decided to try out the delicious looking pastry. I’ve made it five times now and have modified the directions to a simple, user-friendly, amateur-like-me version below.

    Best part: When I use sugar free Jell-O & sugar free Cool Whip & skim milk, it’s really not even bad for me and satisfies a lot of cravings.

    Here’s the result, inside (L) and out (R) and the recipe with instructions:

    IMG_0599 Strawberry Napoleon

    INGREDIENTS:
    1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet)
    1 pkg. vanilla instant pudding mix
    1 cup milk
    1 cup heavy cream, whipped or 2 cups thawed frozen whipped topping
    1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen sliced strawberries (or blueberries, or both, or whatever. Go nuts! Or, actually, go fruity!)
    A couple of squares of dark chocolate or Hershey’s Syrup [Optional]
    Powdered sugar [Optional]

    PASTRY DIRECTIONS:
    Heat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet. [I actually line one with foil that I spray lightly with Pam.]

    Take one of the sealed packs of pastry sheets from the freezer and let them defrost at room temperature for a minute or two. Basically, it’s one big sheet that’s been tri-folded and you want to crack it into three sheets at their natural fold.

    Place the pastry strips onto the prepared baking sheets and let them defrost for about 20 minutes while your oven is heating up. I usually flip them once or twice.

    Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Remove the pastries from the baking sheets and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes.

    Split the pastries into 2 layers, making 6 layers in all.

    FILLING DIRECTIONS:
    Prepare the pudding mix with 1 cup milk in a large bowl. [Don’t use two cups like the pudding package directions say! I use sugar free instant Jell-O.] Fold in the heavy or whipped cream which ever you chose*. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

    *For vanilla pudding, I gotta say –in spite of the fat & calories– heavy cream is probably what I’ll do next time. I used sugar free Cool Whip and it was just too meh. No flavor at all. Maybe a drop of vanilla extract would help?

    I’ve used chocolate pudding as filling once and used the sugar free Cool Whip in that instance and it was like a light mousse. It was enough flavor for me so I doubt I’ll try the fattier, heavy cream version.

    Spread the filling into 1/2 of the split pastries, then pile on your strawberries and top with the other half of the split pastries.

    Optional: Drizzle some melted dark chocolate or some Hershey’s syrup & sprinkle with some powdered sugar. This is easy and makes it look fancy but I’m not sure it adds much to the taste.

    That’s it!

    Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours.

    NOTE: I’ve been pre-preparing the pudding mix and baking only 1/3 of the pastry since it’s just me or sometimes me & Christian. To make the full recipe is a dang lot of dessert. I save the rest of the pudding mix in a sealed container & make a warm pastry with fresh fruit whenever to mood strikes. Like now. When I typed this. YUMMMM. My keyboard is sticky now!

    For easier slicing, refrigerate the Napoleons for a least 1 hour and use a wet serrated knife.

    If you want the Pepperidge Farm version which includes icing made of confectioners’ sugar & stacking into two layers, check it out here. I tried the layers and it looked like a 2-yr-old snuck in before the party and tried a sampling of each and every piece. A huge mess. As for the icing, I’ve made it. It adds nothing to the flavor, IMO. Maybe I’m not good at making icing, but it’s not worth the calories or sugar for me. So I left it off of my ingredient’s list up top.

  • All Blog Entries,  Anipals,  Random,  Writing

    Sign from Above

    Before I went to bed last night, I considered what I might do today. I thought of starting yoga or meditation, saying to Christian, “I need to clear my mind. I need an open heart and eyes to feel and see.”

    I privately, sheepishly declared to myself, “What is right for me? What should I be doing? I need a sign from above!”

    I woke to a peaceful, breezy cool day at the Rock House. I spent much of the day researching a new hobby and helping Christian chainsaw some trees. My only “chores” were to drop Christian off at the bus station and pick up a few things at the market. After I returned home, I was on the patio putting my seedlings to bed for the night. That’s when I heard a commotion in the woods behind the outbuilding. I quickly made sure the dogs were secure then wandered to where the sound was. It had been a heavy thump with some thrashing about of leaves followed by silence. If it were deer, I would have seen and/or heard them run away. That’s when I noticed five very large birds circling very low by our outbuilding.

    Bird of Prey Quill One or more must’ve attacked something. I was so glad I had made Paquita take cover. I’d read just yesterday about how Bald Eagles, which can be spotted all over these parts, can carry about 4 pounds. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t try to lift her up and drop her from a height that could kill her. As I marveled at their cunning hunting skills and how low they were flying, this feather floated down to earth.

    As I picked it up, I laughed. “A quill?! So I should write?!”

    I did ask for a sign from above. Ask and you shall receive, regardless if you like the answer.

    The calamus, the hollow shaft of the feather that attaches it to the bird’s skin*, was still wet with a little bit of flesh around it as though it had been ripped out from the bird’s body. Creepy! Weird! COOL!

    It measures at 18 inches long (!!!) and is almost perfect except for a teensy, weensy missing nick at the top. As much as I love my little parakeet Dinah, her feathers aren’t nearly this fascinating. The dogs sniffed at it for a full five minutes, but if it moved, they jumped back as if they’d touched an electric wire.

    I never did meditate today. As for tomorrow? Tomorrow I’ll wash the dishes and craft a quill pen out of my feather.

    And write.

    ~Kambri
    *Yes, I did look that up and will quiz you on it later.

  • All Blog Entries,  Craft Projects,  Gardening

    Paper Pot Maker for Eco-Friendly Gardening & Party Favors

    This June at the Rock House I’m seeding plenty of pots and staying here to watch over them in their early, delicate, needy stage. In anticipation of this, I’ve purchased this adorable little paper pot maker that recycles newspaper into seed-starting containers with no glue or tape necessary. Once the seedlings are ready to be transplanted outside, just plant them – pot and all. Here are three little samples I made so you can see what they look like.

    Paper Pot Maker How eco- and wallet-friendly can you get? But looking at the results –the cute little paper pots– I thought the pot maker could be used for party favors or place settings.

    To test it, I made a few little personalized pots out of brown craft paper, wrapping paper scraps & newspaper and, if used for food, I lined some with wax paper. You can tie them with ribbon or a piece of twine and, to personalize it, write guests’ names on the outside in colored sharpie or paint pen that they can take home with them. My tests were used with the limited supplies I have here at the cabin. If you have access to nice printed or colored paper, you can really make a nice little party favor.

    Paper pot ideas And, now that I’m thinking about it, if you make the pots a little taller, you can tie them at the top after they’re filled. In that case, you can have little takeaway gifts like bath salts (for the bath, of course) or confetti to throw at a wedding or…oh, man, the possibilities are endless…like:





    M&Ms for any holidayPaper Pots
    Hearts
    Kisses
    Red Hots
    Peppermints
    Gummy bears
    Jelly beans
    Candy corn
    Trail mix
    NutsPaper potsRaisins
    Gumballs
    Fresh cherries
    Raisins
    Saplings

    What other ways can you think of to them?

  • All Blog Entries,  Rock House

    Trash By Another Name

    I’m hopping on the hipster, green, gardening trend and getting myself an indoor composter. Here’s the one I chose for the Rock House upstate in the Catskills. I know nothing of composting but always feel awful bagging up rinds, coffee grinds, eggshells and rotten veggies when we pack up from a week at the cabin to head home to NYC. Since there are just two of us and it’s only a weekend home, I figured a 5-gallon composter was big enough. BUT: It turns out that compost can spontaneously combust. WTF?! Why does everything require an asterisk and at least eight hours of intensive research?*

    I still can’t have chickens or a goat since we don’t live there full-time which makes me very, very sad. I suppose I could be that lady who rides the bus with a live chicken except that I can’t carry it along with the dogs, parakeet and my overnight bag. Someday I’ll get a baby bjorn that can accommodate all my livestock. Till then, it’s composting, raised bed gardening, building bat housing and feeding birds, deer, beavers and raccoons.

    *Including this blog.

     

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Random

    You Say Cicada. I Say Locust. Let’s Call the Whole Thing an Exoskeleton.

    With all the talk of cicadas coming out of a seventeen year slumber emerging from the earth, I can’t help but think of my maternal deaf grandmother. She was traumatized at the mere sight of their crusty brown exoskeletons, so surely the onslaught of trillions must have her convulsing in her grave.

    During my childhood, I spent summers staying with her and Grandpa at their two-bedroom Tulsa home. Once the magic of cable television wore off, I staved off boredom by playing pranks on my sweet, gullible, good sport, grandma. My budding acting skills were honed as I terrorized her. I would ring the doorbell and pretend an axe murderer was trying to break in and the phone lines had been cut, or I’d push over the swing set in the backyard and act as if my cousins or the neighborhood kids were trapped underneath with broken limbs.

    My favorite prank was finding the empty shells of locusts clinging to trees and bushes and place them where I knew Grandma would grab before looking:  The kitchen faucet, the television remote and the steering wheel of her car. The jerk of her hand as if she’d touched a hot stove coupled with a blood curdling scream was pee-in-my-pants hilarious. The meanest placement was on the toilet paper roll knowing she would have no choice but to either not wipe or gather the courage to remove the critter on her own. Bless her sweet heart.

    shokotan_cicada_3

    But this?

    I never thought to do this.

    Why would I?

    Because WTF?

  • All Blog Entries,  Craft Projects,  Family & Life,  Gardening,  Mentoring

    An “Epic” Date

    After kicking off my gardening project, I drove home from the cabin so I could take my protege Jeaniah to a preview screening of “Epic” at the Museum of the Moving Image. When I picked her up, she and the other Hour Children kids were having a craft day with volunteers from the Kabbalah Center. We made jewelry, got professional photos taken and planted some flower seeds which took about 20 seconds. Throw some dirt in the peat pot, add some seeds, top with more soil, add water and voila. Four days later they sprouted.

    It was a great reminder of what I said in my earlier post: gardening is much more simple than the Internet would have you believe. Don’t be afraid! Jeaniah wanted me to keep both of our pots so I can plant them at the cabin. I plan to find a special spot for our little flower pots to grow together. It’s lousy with symbolism.

    Anyway, on to the movie. We were excited and surprised to learn that the director of “Epic”, Oscar winner Chris Wedge, was at the screening and would participate in a Q&A afterward. COOL! The movie is about a teenage girl who is transported (shrunken to the size of an insect) into the forest where she helps the “Leafmen” battle the dark forces after the forest Queen is killed. The movie itself was in 3-D and, damn, animation these days is simply breathtaking. I got dizzy a few times “flying” with the Leafmen on their hummingbirds that they rode like horses. So clever. Check out Metacritic for comprehensive reviews, but we gave it our thumbs up as did the other kids in the audience.

    Chris Wedge - "Epic" DirectorWe also enjoyed the Q&A with Mr. Wedge who was really  casual, funny and gracious with his time. Jeaniah seized up with shyness when it came to asking for an autograph, so I asked on her behalf. We wanted to get it mostly as proof to the kids at school that she’d seen the movie before it was in theaters. Last time we did this (a preview of the “Croods” which was okay), no one believed her. So, this time we kept her program and autographed ticket stub for her to use to “show off”. Take that, non-believers!

    Christian met up with us at Pizzeria Uno and during our drive home he told her about my undying love for David Lee Roth. When he showed her pictures of Diamond Dave, she burst out laughing and said, “He looks like a GIRL!”

    I spent way too much time defending my love and trying to find a better picture. None were to be found. He’s pretty ridiculous in all of them and yet…sigh.

    I can’t wait for the day I meet her husband and can tease her about how she wore Justin Bieber perfume.

  • All Blog Entries,  Gardening,  Mentoring,  Rock House

    Adventures in Gardening: In the Beginning

    Growing up, we dug up rows of dirt, plopped in some seeds and had fruits and vegetables a few weeks later. The Internet made it all seem so complicated. After all the research and over-thinking, it was time to get my hands dirty.

    I had a few days at the cabin and took the plunge on beginning my landscaping and gardening projects. I spent part of a day gathering rocks that I stacked at the base of the cabin, covering the concrete and creating a raised flower bed. Once it was in place, I filled it with soil from the woods mixed with bags of plain topsoil and two bags of high quality, fertilized soil. Then I planted some hostas that I purchased from Home Depot. Hostas are hearty, low to the ground, spread over time, and are great in the shade. I think this is the perfect spot for them as long as I can keep the slugs away.

    Behold the before and after:

    5864939688_1edbd2ba04_b After Before After After After