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  • Valentine's Day Dos and Don'ts

    Don’t let being single get you down.
    Do treat yourself to something special or get together with friends or family.
    Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love, not about having a date.

    Don’t be too festive.
    Do keep it simple.
    Not everything needs to be heart-shaped or red. I once worked with a girl who thought it’d be a good idea to make her boyfriend homemade mac and cheese for Valentine’s Day dinner. Feeling it wasn’t festive enough, she added red dye to the cheese sauce. The resulting color was reminiscent of vomit. Her boyfriend was so repulsed, he refused to eat it.  

    Don’t break up with your significant other.
    Do remain friendly and wait a day or two out of courtesy.
    While honesty is the best policy, breaking up with someone on Valentine’s Day is kind of a heartless move. Unless you’re dealing with extenuating circumstances, you can realistically endure at least one more day together, right?


    Don’t attempt to prepare an elaborate meal.
    Do make something you’re familiar with or perform a dry run first.
    I learned this the hard way during my first Valentine’s day with my boyfriend. I attempted to make steak au poivre for the first time in an unfamiliar kitchen with faulty ventilation. The whole thing resulted in a smoke-filled house, tears, and oil burns on my wrist. By some miraculous twist of fate, the steak came out perfectly. Still, don’t risk it!

    Don’t get overwhelmed with material things.
    Do give gifts from the heart.
    Whether giving or receiving gifts, think outside the heart-shaped box. Gifts that have thought behind them always mean more.

  • Thoughts on Grace's Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-up

    This book was a huge letdown. It was an impulse purchase, spurred by Amazon’s recommendation when I added Amy Poehler’s book to my cart. The book sounded interesting and had excellent reviews, so I figured, why not? When the book came in, I began to have some doubts. As I leafed through the pages, I realized the book was filled with pictures. This wasn’t a huge issue, as it’s supposed to be a humorous book, and for whatever reason people expect female comics to ham it up and pose with silly props. (That’s a topic for another time!) Furthermore, Grace is a popular YouTube personality, so I can understand her wanting the book to be reminiscent of her usual medium. Although I was bummed out that it was so sparse on text, I began reading the book. 

    Each chapter of this book gives advice on a different topic and is divided into sections. Each piece of advice has a heading above it. At the end of each section, there’s an acrostic made using the first letter of each heading. The acrostics spell nonsensical phrases like “igloo dawg” or “dimple fax.” I get what she was going for here, but I just don’t think it’s funny enough to devote an entire page after every section to these lame acrostics.

    The first few chapters weren’t bad. In fact, the chapter on interviewing for a job actually had some helpful advice. I also thought that it was a nice touch for her to address her issues with anxiety. Unfortunately, it just went downhill after that. While her writing style is very easy to read, I found her humor too random and juvenile to enjoy. It felt like she was trying too hard and going for the cheap laughs.

    The advice was very odd. It was either blatantly obvious “serious” advice or specific-to-her-situation gag advice. There was an entire section devoted to disgusting recipes that may or may not have been a joke. At one point in that section she writes, “Honestly, I’ve never made this, but it sounds decent in theory.” So maybe some of the recipes are real? The whole book just felt very thrown together. There were jokes repeated throughout the book that weren’t funny the first time—particularly those involving deodorant and Grace’s problematic digestive system. The constant onslaught of filler photos of Grace mugging for the camera got old very quickly. It seemed text was being stretched across pages just to make the book appear fuller. It was like one of those hack-job research papers that my classmates would try to turn in; they’d widen the margins, toy with the line spacing, and change the font size to fool the teacher into thinking there was enough content. Note: It didn’t work.

    I knew from the beginning that the guide was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, so I wasn’t taking everything at face value. However, I was expecting that the “stories of Grace’s own misadventures” I was promised would bring at least a chuckle or two. I kept reading and reading to find the stories mentioned in the book’s description. When I finally did read them, they were lackluster at best. It felt like a waste. If she’s “a brilliant comedienne” as one of her blurbs said, she should at least be able to tell a decent story and say something minutely insightful.

    When I finished the book, I blamed myself for getting my hopes up. But I shouldn’t feel that way. The book is a #1 New York Times bestseller with 177 5-star reviews on Amazon. Can you blame me for believing it would be a good book? Well, I’ve learned my lesson.

    I think the rationale behind this book was that all her YouTube fans would buy it and it’d make a ton of money from that alone. So far, it seems to have worked. After finishing the book I reread some of the 5-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Sure enough, the overwhelming majority were already fans of her YouTube channel. In the interest of giving her a fair chance, I watched a few of her videos. You can’t deny that Grace has an infectious energy and a sweet personality. Unfortunately it doesn’t come through in her writing.

  • Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

    With all this Deflate-Gate nonsense, you may have forgotten that today is Super Bowl Sunday. Not to worry! Here’s a recipe for buffalo chicken meatballs that’s easy to prepare and serve. No one will question these balls. ;) Go Pats!

    For a printable PDF, click here.

    Ingredients:
    8 tbsp (1 stick) of butter
    1 cup of your favorite hot sauce
    1 lb. ground chicken
    1/2 sweet onion, diced
    2 ribs of celery, diced
    1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
    1 egg 

    Directions:
    Set the oven to 450℉. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and hot sauce over low heat and stir to combine. Remove the sauce from the heat and let cool. Grease a cooling rack and place atop a rimmed baking sheet. With your hands, mix together the ground chicken, onion, celery, breadcrumbs, egg, and 1/2 cup of the cooled sauce. Roll into 1-inch balls and place atop the greased cooling rack. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. Meanwhile, rewarm the sauce on low. When the meatballs are cooked, toss with the remainder of the sauce and serve with bleu cheese or ranch dip.