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Sunday, December 18, 2011

An exceptional weekend

That woman standing in the doorway was a teacher from my elementary school... 

Hbd little sissy!

"Hamsters Sold Separately."



Monday, December 12, 2011

Cocount Sheet Cake


I've had this song on my blackberry all year


I impulse purchase coconuts all the time. I like shaking them in the grocery store and making everyone jealous that I know what a good coconut sounds like (a squeaky baby) and they don't. One time a woman at Byerly's asked me advice on different foods to feed her picky kids because she saw me shakin' the coconuts like a boss (For the record, I said starfruit, avocado, and seedless purple grapes). Some day this on par produce analysis of mine will land me a husband... or a TV show. 

The best coconut is heavy for it's size and has a lot of liquid in it when you shake it. 

I wanted to show my little sister how to master the coconut, but we are never around at the same time, and my coconuts were about to go bad. The squeaky baby was beginning to turn into a pubescent teen so I decided to make some sort of cake that was friendly to all of the coconut haterzzz in the world. I have a family of 19 relatives on one side and only two of them actually like coconut. "This will be a cake to please," I thought to myself as I flipped to "Cakes, Tortes, & Cupcakes" in my copy of Joy. 

I decided to get the maximum use out of my coconuts I would drain the water inside of fruit and incorporate it somehow into my cake. There was a disclaimer wrapped around my coconuts saying to throw out the brown liquid inside of the coconut. DON'T THROW IT OUT. It is very versatile. You can use it in an adult alcoholic beverage, you can make it into coconut milk, or you can use it for coconut butter. I also have a sneaking suspicion that the liquid can be reduced to a pure coconut essence, but that is for another day. If your liquid tastes sour instead of sweet, it means your coconut has advanced into old age and is useless. Throw it out. 

In order to get to that little mine of liquid, you have to take a clean screw driver and pound it into two of the three eyes on the face of the fruit with a hammer. Remove the screw driver and strain out the juice into a liquid measuring cup with some sort of contraption like the following photo. Or just cheesecloth would work sufficiently. 



One healthy squeaky baby coconut will yield about a cup of liquid. If you have more than necessary for your recipe, freeze the excess in ice cube trays and drop it in your nighttime pina colada.

To get to the meat of the coconut, crack the shell with your hammer and peel back. Please do not take it out back and smash it on the concrete. Not sanitary! Slice off any excess brown covering, like so:




Coconut Chocolate Sheet Cake (taken from Joy but adapted to my liking)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Grease a baking dish.

Stir together into a large bowl:

2 cups sugar
2 cups all purpose-flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine in a medium saucepan and bring to boil:

1 cup coconut water taken from a fresh coconut
1/2 cup vegetable oil (EVOO)
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup baking cocoa



Pour hot over dry and mix until just incorporated



Whisk together, then stir into batter:
2 large eggs
1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup freshly grated coconut


Pour your batter into a pan and spread evenly. Grate more coconut over the top. 


Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserts and comes out clean. Remember, you can always add time, but you can never take time away! Let cool completely. 



To frost I combined store bought cream cheese frosting with the baking cocoa and more grated coconut. Don't frost before it is cool. Go shower, rinse the egg out of your hair, and come back. Patience! 


 Voila! Coconut Chocolate Sheet Cake that pleases everyone. Your family will hardly know that the coconut is there until after they've gobbled down three pieces. 



Have a good week everyone. Go see New Years Eve in theaters if you get a chance. It is truly heart warming. In the mean time, how do you feel about coconut? In food? In skin care products? Let me know!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Happy Holidays!


presents!

Broke Girls Guide to Christmas gifts!

I have recently been thinking about what to get my girls for gifts this year while living on a tight budget, so I headed over to my nearest Trader Joes. TJs carries their own brand of wine called Charles Shaw. It's most famously known as "Two Buck Chuck" for that very reason; It's priced at under $3. In 2005 the Chardonnay was awarded Best Chardonnay in California at some competition or another, which gives praise to Chuck's good name. The solid reputation is precisely why I deemed Charles Shaw good enough to give to my friends for Christmas! ($19.00 for 6)

On my work break yesterday I had sketched out how I wanted the tags to look. I've had some practice at being crafty thanks to marketing projects at my job, and I came up with what you see here:

That's a cream colored cardstock paper ($0.60), red sticker letters ($2.99), and gold wire ribbon ($0.99). 


I got all of the tag supplies at Michaels for almost no dollars. The only things that were a bit pricey were the wine labels. Listen, THANK GOD FOR MARTHA STEWART LADIES AND GENTS. (Maybe Martha is God. Or an apostle... I mean, she spent time in jail like an apostle.) I was truly stumped at how I was going to package the wine bottles. I had seriously thought about going to a flower shop and buying those cellophane flower bags, but I practically collided with the Martha Stewart Crafts display in Michaels and saw these nifty wine labels! They come in packs of six with three different designs. LIFE SAVER! No need to package! ($6.95)



It took two bottles before I got the hang of it, and so two out of six gifts look entirely stupid. Sorry! The labels don't come with any instruction so I just went by trial and error. I ended up not pressing the stickers down completely at the top because the Charles Shaw bottles are slightly smaller than average. Use a rubber band over night to make sure they stay on. I put the holiday labels over over the smaller label that has the surgeon generals warning and other unimportant cautions. Any other way and the real label sticks out on the sides. There is really no reason to try and peel the originals off. Also, I would recommend doing this project while the bottles are at room temperature. I did all of this work when they were straight out of my freezing car, and they were difficult to handle. 

In the lead picture there are a few bottles that also have one Montagne Jeunesse masque hanging on the ribbon. The masks I purchased at Ulta. The deal was 5 for $5. I punched holes in the top most corner where the packaging is sealed and strung it through underneath the name tags. Read my previous post about how much I adore Montagne Jeunesse products to see why I chose them. 



So that's it! The cost of each gift? $5.08.




If any of my girls are reading this, these aren't for you. I made them for my imaginary friends so don't get excited. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Happy December!

This song is all you need for christmas. And maybe the dancing guy's phone number. 


Things That Keep Me Up at Night

The water is cloudy cause I didn't know to rinse the rocks first, I assume.

In 8th grade there was a girl who's name starts with an S. I wish I could remember exactly, so that all of the men out there would know she is BAD NEWS. Well, we were young and she was telling me about how she had gotten drunk the night before with her cousins (this was a year before my cousins got me absolutely wasted so I pretended to be cool with it). I guess they poured vodka into some guys fish tank and tried to feed the fish pizza before they all passed out with the oven still hot and fish still marinating in BOOZE. Needless to say, they woke up to dead fish and a cool oven. I work in two hours and I'm currently losing sleep over this story. I think of this every time I put off cleaning my own little Chunk's bowl. I got Emily Jalapeno Chunk in June and because I'm a good mommy, today we made a significant life change in his pineapple under the sea. The lead picture is from the day I got him. The picture below is the new habitat. I'm afraid that the color of the neon pink rocks will kill him so I have his night light on so I can make sure he isn't in there thrashing around/trying to off himself on the new seashells. I hope he starts eating soon. I'm really worried he is going to die because he spends half of his life playing with his food and regurgitating pieces of beta bites all over his house. But at least if he cacks it's because he had an eating disorder, and not because I got shit canned and poured chardonnay in his bowl.
That touch light in the corner is so he doesn't have to be in the dark all day while I'm working.
Praise for good parenting.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Montagne Jeunesse


There are certain beauty products that I will swear by until I am dead or the products discontinue: witch hazel, KMS Hairplay Makeover Spray, Vaseline, Olay In-Shower Body Wash, Crest White Strips, and Redken Smooth Down Butter Treatment.

The newest addition to my shower shelf fam is Montagne Jeunesse. Don't even try to say that without knowing how to speak French. Jeunesse sounds like a trendy new age church when a Minnesotan tries to sound it out in English. 

I have always been a big fan of the face mask concept, and I used to have this small tube of Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque back in the day that I coveted for years after it was finished, yet I never ran into it again after the trial run. Fast forward to adult life: I didn't realize that impulse purchasing a 1 ct. Raspberry Banana clay mask by Montagne Jeunesse would resurrect my face mask yearning. I found MJ at the cash register in Ulta on Black Friday. I happily purchased the packet along with my hoards of other unnecessary things that I eventually returned. (Except the MJ, imagine the cashier's face if I tried to return a used clay mask...) I went back for the next three days to buy more packets, and to rack up some mad points on my customer card. On the last day I found out that MJ is a UK product that has hardly been introduced in the US, so I went back a few days later and practically bought the store out. After, I "followed" MJ on twitter (@MontagneJeunesse) and "Liked" them on Facebook so that I can be the first person notified when they decide to ship o're yonder. 

MJ sells their products in single use packets in the same way that Taco Bell packages single servings of hot sauce, it's just not enough. I found small tubes tucked back on the bottom shelf of the skin care aisles right next to the foot cream. Guess what else they were stocked next to. You won't believe it.

Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque.
My exact words at the time: "WTF?"

And you know what? After literally ages of longing for another, larger tube of Mint Julep, I skipped right past it and bought a MJ product that I hadn't tried yet. Talk about obsessed. My sisters came home from their after school activities that Monday and we smeared the stuff all over our faces. It was heaven. My dad laughed pretty hard when he got in and we were all "relaxing" on the couch with face masks on and Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny) playing on repeat. 

So far these are the versions that I've tried and how I've felt about them:

Fruit Smoothie Face Masque: This is a gateway masque. One whiff of the stuff and you're completely screwed. Don't eat it.

Dark Chocolate Deep Cleansing Mud Mask: This gave me a flashback to my grandma giving me those Terry's Milk Chocolate Orange balls that you smack on the table or on your younger sister until the pieces break off into what resembles orange slices. My flashback was interrupted by the slight burn of a warming sensation. Burns so good. Fine for me and my teenage sis, but not the youngest. She loved it, but I saw faint traces of irritation from the "deep cleaning" portion when I washed hers off. Lesson learned: Not for babies. (Just joking of course, she is not a baby.) 



Dead Sea Mud Pack: This smelled like shaving cream. I said so, my sisters said so. But the feeling is sweet, sweet glory. 


Cucumber Peel Off Face Masque: Once I put it on, I became skeptical that it would peel off well, but it did! Almost like when you put too many layers of aloe vera gel on a sunburn and it peels off like a second, green skin. Anyone? Maybe that's only happened to me. (photo taken from www.buy.com)

I definitely recommend getting your hands on some of these products. They have endless choices. I'm dying to try the cellulite masque for your thighs. YOUR THIGHS. Can you believe it? They also have a mens line that I'm going to try on my dad while he sleeps. If you can't wait another second, get to your nearest beauty supply store and ask for the MJ. If you can wait a hot minute, go to amazon to get the MJ products in the U.S.A. If you're from the UK, you're a lucky bastard. 

Happy masking!



Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Know How to Make a Roux, Man



Happy November!

Today is my day off, I was up at seven A.M., as usual, and spent the morning lounging in bed, watching the news and reading up on my chances of buying the Hanson mmmMansion. I've been reflecting a lot lately on how much I love the fall season and Minneapolis at this time of the year, although I'm unhappy that farmer's market season is coming to a close soon. Today was one of those days. I went for a cruise to my favorite out-of-the-way Dunn Bros on the outskirts of downtown. The day makers are an attractive crew and they know exactly what I like. There is also an exhilarating feeling about being downtown on a beautiful morning which is probably the number one reason that I make the trip. I used to live a few blocks away so it has become a routine, one that I miss significantly since I moved.
When I got home, I chose to ignore cleaning my cave and folding my laundry in light of finding a filling fall dish to make for my sisters as an after school snack. I googled around and looked in Joy, but didn't find anything very good until I clicked my bookmark for Rachael Ray's website where I discovered Pumpkin Cheddar Mac n' Cheese. Talk about "yummo"!

Pumpkin Cheddar Mac n' Cheese taken from Rachael Ray's Official Website but adapted to my liking:

1 lb. whole wheat penne (Or just one box. Don't turn your head trying to convert measurements)
4 tablespoons butter (half stick)
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken stock (I mistakenly grabbed chicken broth. Same diff)
2 messy tablespoons honey
2 cups whole milk (Here I substituted reduced fat buttermilk because the recipe only calls for 2 cups and I didn't want to buy an entire half gallon of whole milk, so I got a small "on the go" milk instead)
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground mustard
Pinch of cayenne pepper (I skipped this)
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste (I used dried because I had it on hand)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 can unsweetened pumpkin
2 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Parsley

I suggest doing as much prep as possible before you start. Once you get going, things come together very quickly!

This is the nutmeg, allspice, mustard, salt and pepper

Poorly grated cheese with useless plastic grater

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add salt, and cook penne until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Pre-heat oven or broiler, whichever you prefer. You can broil until the top is golden and bubbling, or you can bake until the same effect is reached. I'm terrified of the broiler, so I preheated the oven to 350.

Melt the butter in a medium sized sauce pot and whisk in flour. Allow the roux to cook until the color has darkened and there is a nutty aroma. I had a Le Cordon Bleu student on Facebook unnecessarily explain to me how to do this earlier when I posted my recipe, like I didn't already know. It ruffled my feathers a bit because I get defensive of my kitchen, and he is always interjecting like I'm a foolish amateur. Which I am, but only I can tell myself that!

Raise the heat and add the chicken stock. Reduce until almost evaporated. Add honey and slowly whisk in buttermilk. Again, Sir Knows A Lot told me to heat the milk beforehand or it will curdle. Duh. I just whisked the buttermilk in as one would add olive oil to a delicate mayonnaise. Very slowly. Once the milk has been thoroughly incorporated add your little prep bowl full of seasoning. Allow the sauce to thicken until it coats the inside of your stomach (or a spoon, that works too) and add more seasonings as you desire.

This is the fun part. If your medium sauce pot isn't big enough, good luck.

Scoop out the can of pumpkin puree in clumps and whisk into sauce one clump at a time until smooth. Stir in all of the cheese until completely melted and consistent.

Notice that my sauce pot was not big enough...

Lay your al dente penne pasta in a broil proof casserole dish if you're broiling or an oven safe casserole dish if you're baking, like so:

They typically say "Microwave Safe No Broiling" on the bottom

Evenly cover the pasta with your cheese sauce. Top the dish off with more cut cheddar, some paprika, and a sprinkle of parsley.

Poof!

Stick in the oven until bubbling and golden.

I dare you not to eat all of it

Serves 4-6 hungry Minnesotans

Next time I would use whole milk. The buttermilk was fine, but it leaves a terrible taste in your mouth after. To find the original recipe go here. Let me know what you think! In the mean time, this will make your day:


Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Align CenterIf I caught the devil I would stick a pear apple in her mouth and bake her in the oven

It's been a long Monday, but here are my favorite things on this sweet fall day:

Kim Kardashian's divorce from Kris Humphries (we didn't want you in mpls anyway, kimberly!)
Cinnamon Spice Tea from Caribou
Shorewood Bar and Grill in Fridley.
My Amnesty International tote bag. It's half the size of a regular tote bag which is nice. I find others too bulky. (make a donation and maybe you'll get one!)
And lastly, my thrifted leather jacket with a sharp shoulder.

Things I don't like so much today include the brussel sprouts that I made for lunch. They seem like they would be better steamed versus on the skillet. Good thing my portobello mushroom saved the day with the accompaniment of some some feta and tomato sauce.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Things That I've Done With Eggplant



I apologize if I am missing sentences or words in this post, I've been entirely distracted by Angelina Jolie's lips in The Tourist. Pause at 31:56 when she is shmoozing Johnny Depp in Venice and try not to freak out about her face.


I went to the Farmer's Market two Sundays ago and came home with a mother load of mini eggplants and small yukon gold potatoes. I wasn't thinking clearly, considering I had just gotten off of the night shift so when I woke up at 6 P.M. that evening I was surprised to see a half eaten raw potato in bed with me. That's not Ambien folks, that's just plain crazy sleep deprived.


Everywhere the public looks there is Eggplant Parmesan. By everywhere I am referring to Olive Garden, so eggparm was not an option for my eggplants. I looked to my copy of Joy for advice. I learned two things, eggplant changes moods like an angsty teen, and it soaks up liquid like a Bounty paper towel. If you keep it for too long it gets bitter and needs to be immersed in sea salt for 1-3 hours to extract the bad taste, but if you use it right away it will take up all of your olive oil and butter and water and the juice from your chicken and the moisture in the air of your kitchen. I found the best way to beat the system is to score the surface deeply with a knife and then stuff the cracks with garlic and onion powder before steaming in the microwave for 5-8 minutes (depending on the size). Excess liquid will seep out of the cracks during steaming and the garlic/onion combination will cover any bitter taste. I did this with the clean yukon potatoes and mashed both veggies together with some pepper and olive oil. Add some feta cheese to the top and you have an amazing remake of the mashed potato.


That's not feta cheese stuck to the side of the bowl. That's a dog. She was dying for some eggplant.


In another bout of insanity I decided to use up the terrible olive oil that was brought to me when I sent a college male out to fetch me groceries during a frantic day in the kitchen. I dumped some EVOO into a bowl, squeezed in half a lemon, spooned in some honey, and added some chopped walnuts and a shake of pepper. While the olive oil was fermenting my walnuts, I sliced some eggplants and tossed them in a colander with sea salt. Since my patience is about the size of a Ken Barbie doll, I immediately covered a baking sheet with tin foil and doused it with more olive oil. Before the EVOO could eat through to the pan I threw down the eggplants and spooned my cocktail over the top. I sprinkled everything with feta cheese in hopes that it could thwart the molotov of heavy flavors and popped it into the oven at 350 degrees. After the eggplant had sizzled and browned slightly, I pulled it out and set to curling some prosciutto for the tops.


I folded one slice over, stuck it into my mouth and immediately felt my lips crack. It seems that eggplant can also absorb salt crystals. I suggest never immersing them in a salt bath and just compensating for the bitter taste with a different flavor. Other than that, my improvisation turned out fairly well, although I'll probably just stick to mashed eggplant next time.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's 5 O'clock in the Morning



Listening to: 5 O'clock by T-Pain ft. Lily Allen and Wiz Khalifa.

After I mastered the Banana Brown Betty from Joy, I got gutsy and started dreaming about muffins. I had read somewhere recently that sometimes things that are marketed as muffins don't always have real fruit in them (fake, man-made blueberries... really guys?) and it disgusted me. This was the same nonsense stumble that told me orange juice can sit in vacuum sealed vats for years... ew. Google it real fast to see what I'm talking about.

These muffin and orange juice revelations have given me severe breakfast separation anxiety, so I've had to start making my own muffins. Orange juice I simply replaced with chocolate milk. Easy enough, but being creative with muffins is seemingly difficult for me (see previous post about hating to bake).

I typically spend the first 10 minutes of my morning lying in bed and thinking about what will get me through the day, and for 3 days my thoughts were all about muffin filling. On the third day she rose again and went to Trader Joe's. There, I found Trader Joe's Honey Apple Butter and some terrible chile spiced mangos.
I fed the mangos to my sister and decided to use the butter as the filling in my muffins!

I took the recipe for basic muffins out of Joy and adapted it to my own use, which is apparently super easy to do with muffins according to The Book. Here goes!

Basic Muffins with Milk or Cream

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Grease a standard muffin pan.

Stir together in a small bowl and set aside:
1 1/2 cups vanilla wafers, crushed
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 stick butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Whisk together in a large bowl:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Whisk together in another bowl:
2 large eggs
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup of sugar
1 stick of melted butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and incorporate carefully without over mixing. The batter is not supposed to be smooth. Spoon in enough batter to fill half of each well. WITH CLEAN HANDS, make an imprint in the batter and spoon in a small amount of the Trader Joe's Honey Apple Butter. Use the rest of the batter to cover the butter. Press the vanilla wafer crumb mixture into the top and dust with ground cinnamon. Put in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes! Remember, it's easier to give time then to taketh away. :)


I would make this recipe again, but most likely I would sub nutmeg with cinnamon, the nutmeg taste was overwhelming with the Honey Apple Butter. Also, don't make the mistake of overheating the stick of butter because it will scramble the eggs! Happy Baking, I know it was for me.

Stay tuned for next week! I'm going to master cookies.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why You Can Never Mess Up a Recipe When Ol' Blue Eyes is Singing

I got my very own copy of the Joy of Cooking for the first time about a year ago. Since then, I've made the one same recipe over and over again without ever thinking about making anything else.

I give you, ladies and gentleman my famed "stick to every crevice of your duodenum" Mushroom Veloute Sauce
Honestly, it's amazing. Stir in some extra heavy cream or a half a stick of butter when you take it off the heat, and it's called "Sauce Supreme".

So, because I posess Jesus of cooking I decided that it's fine time for me to move on to other sections of The Book. Sections that make my tears leak just thinking about them. I really don't even have to add salt to any of my baked goods because I cry all over the dough and my tears produce the exact equivalent of 1 tsp iodized sodium. I clogged my tear ducts with wax, put on Frank Sinatra duets for comfort and plunged forward.

I finally settled on an easy thing called a "Banana Brown Betty". No one knows who the heck Brown Betty is supposed to be, but I 'm sure she is Betty Crocker's dead alcoholic aunt. I picked banana because I haven't been able to get the tempura dessert out of my mind that Kayla and I received at Wasabi Fusion in Minneapolis. It made us anything short of crazy. Slightly crunchy outside, but all banana goo on the inside.

I swear they just smash a slice of banana down with a fork and flip it in
some burning hot oil for 10 seconds, but it is delicious.

Banana Brown Betty (Adapted from Joy of Cooking, but modified to my own liking)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Get a pie plate ready for crust and custard distribution.

Combine in a bowl and set aside:
1 1/2 cups crushed Nilla Wafers or any off brand*
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 stick of unsalted butter, melted (While butter is melting quick change to No. 8 of Duets. The song is New York, New York with Tony Bennett. Do a slow dance with the refrigerator door for 30 seconds and high kick your way to the microwave when the butter is completely melted)

Peel and cut into even slices:
4 firm, ripe bananas**

In a medium sauce pan simmer 1 1/2 cups of milk

While milk is heating beat into a bowl:
1 Lg. Egg
1/4 cup sugar
1 tblspn all purpose flour
1 tblspn cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt (or tears, in my case)

Whisk half of the hot milk into the egg mixture, proceed to mix this mixture gradually into the rest of the milk in the pan. Return to medium heat whisking constantly and scraping down sides until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat, still whisking, for 1 minute. Add 1/2 tsp of Vanilla extract. Fold bananas into saucepan and set aside.

Press half of Nilla Wafer crumbs into the bottom of pie plate. Spoon banana mixture over crumbs, and dust with ground cinnamon. Cover with the rest of the wafer crumbs. Bake until the top is brown and filling is warm. Allow to cool before serving.
Perfecto! No incessant sobbing necessary!

Joy recommends eating all of this in one sitting with a strawberry sauce on one side and Frank Sinatra on the other. The sauce is shown in the lead photo, but I wouldn't make it again. This dish would be better served hot with ice cream. It doesn't reheat well, but it makes a good breakfast meal served cold!





*Crush Nilla Wafers by putting them them in a Ziplock bag and crushing them with whatever is handy, i.e. bottle, rolling pin, fist, head.
**This sh*t is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Why does she stay?

Generally, a woman will return to an abuser 7 to 10 times before she leaves him for good. The most common question associated with Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is: "Why does she stay?" It is a question that will do more harm than good because it is accusatory and belittling to an abused woman who has already been accused and belittled enough. The better question about intimate partner violence is "What can I do to help?"


Here are 22 reasons that a woman stays with her abuser:


1. He has threatened to kill her or she has reason to believe that he would kill her if he finds out that she is leaving him (e.g. he has access to guns). Saying to an abuser "I'm leaving you", serving him with divorce papers, or getting an order for protection are huge triggers for increased violence and put the woman at a staggeringly high risk for being murdered.

-17 IPV deaths in 2006. 8 of them were trying to leave. 11 of them were gun related deaths.


2. He has obtained economic control throughout the course of the relationship. The abuser could be the main source of income for the family, leaving the abused with no financial means to leave. He may have access to her accounts or he may have credit cards in her name leaving her in financial ruin in the event that she would try and leave him.


3. She may not be able to hold a job. Abusers often stalk their partners at their places of employment. Making frequent phone calls and visits could jeopardize her job and thus give her a long track record of being fired which ultimately makes her an undesirable candidate for a job position. It is also common to hear things like "you would rather spend more time at work" or "you're having an affair with your coworker" which would cause her to quit to avoid any harmful consequences. Ex: A woman waitresses and her husband comes to her job, frightens off her customers, takes her time away from her job, and compiles a bar tab that she has to deduct from her wages/tips.


4. She has children. The children could be young and in need of day care/child support. Leaving him would give her insufficient funds to take care of them. They could be under his health care plan and he could be in possession of all documents regarding the children. Her children could side with him because they love him. He could threaten to kill the kids if she leaves them. He could obtain partial physical custody and abuse the children as a means of getting at her. He may make false claims against her and she fears losing her kids.


5. He does not have a stable career. The chances of being killed by an abuser increase by 4 times if the abuser is unemployed, underemployed, or seasonally employed.


6. He is a police officer/law enforcement worker. Surprisingly his co-workers/connections will side with him (ex: "I know Tom and he would never do that") and she would find it difficult to get any support or protection. YOU CAN ASSUME THAT THERE IS ALWAYS A GUN IN THE HOUSE. There are significant barriers to enforcement and conviction when police officers are the abusers.



7. Minimizing, Denying, Blaming. He has convinced her that she is either crazy or that she is at fault. 'Stop crying, I didn't hit you that hard.' 'Why did you make me do that to you?' 'You're crazy, I didn't take your cell phone.' He breaks her down so much and so often that she feels that she does deserve to be abused because she is the flawed one and he is not.


8. Isolation. He has isolated her from her friends, family, and coworkers to the point that she has no support and feels helpless. It is easier to leave if the woman has outlets, for example, a boss who documents the abuse (days Sally comes in crying, days she comes in with bruises/injuries, how many phone calls she takes). It also helps to have friends with which you can leave important documents (birth certificates, medical records, copies of OFP) and money.


9. Battered Women's Syndrome.

-The woman believes that the abuse is her fault

-She has an inability to place the responsibility for the violence elsewhere

-The woman fears for her life and the life of her children

-She holds irrational belief that the abuser is omnipresent


10. Substance Abuse. She can blame his abuse on either drugs or alcohol use or he blames his behaviors on drugs and alcohol and promises her that he will go to treatment.


11. False Honeymoon phase. After a violent incident he apologizes, begs for forgiveness, promises to get help, takes her out to eat, sends her flowers, etc. And she takes him back.


12. She is nostalgic of the person he used to be. Although she never experiences the same man again, she fondly loves him as the man she once knew and loved before he started abusing her.


13. She does not have or know of resources available. She does not know who to call for services, what kind of services are available, how to get an Order for Protection (OFP), where there are shelters. She may not have internet access, or he is monitoring the internet use and history. He could be recording the milage on her car so that she is unable to go to library, attorney, city hall.


14. She was exposed to abuse in her family as a child. If she was subjected to seeing the abuse of her mother she is likely to stay with an abuser because it was the way she was brought up and she doesn't know an other way. Also, if she is aware that her abuser had IPV in his family she could blame his actions on the things he saw in his past.


15. She was involved with dating violence as a teen. One in five high school girls from a 2001 study were victims of physical or sexual abuse from their partners. Often these behaviors carry over into adult relationships.


16. She has had negative law enforcement experiences in the past, or has heard of similar instances from within the community. The candor of a police officer is very important. They have to be respectful and honest (removing their hat, saying things like 'I'm fearful for your safety', checking the kids, fully completing a report) even though a domestic call is not as exciting as a police chase. It is important to have the trust of an abused woman or she will NOT call 911 in future instances.


17. Her religion or culture condemns divorce. A woman who goes to her church leader for advice may be told to go home to her husband and be a good wife. Her community may shun her if she leaves her husband. They most likely will work to save the family rather than stop the violence.


18. She does not want him to be prosecuted. Most women just want the violence to end.


19. His name may be on all important documents (i.e. lease, house, car, insurance)


20. The system has failed her before. The court system has not always been designed to protect the victim. In the past, they may have failed to arrest her abuser after an incident, they may not have notified her of his release from jail, legal expenses, lack of help from women's centers, a police officer who failed to make a complete report... etc.


21. Stockholm Syndrome. Survival in extreme situations where the abused allies with the abuser. The victim recieves small acts of kindness from the abuser and focuses on them. The most common example of stockholm syndrome is in hostage situations, but can be applied to battered women as well.


22. Learned Helplessness. Women who are repeatedly battered experience similar psychological responses to dogs who suffer from repeated electric shocks without being able to escape, and eventually do not attempt to escape even if the opportunity is given to them.


Here are some things that I believe are important for you to know...


-In Minnesota police may arrest a person anywhere without a warrant if they have probable cause that the person has committed actions of domestic violence within the last 24 hours even if the acts did not take place in the presence of a police officer. Ex: If the abuser offends and then disappears, the police have a 24 hour time frame within which they can make an arrest.

-Burglary and Domestic Assault- burglary is defined as a person entering a home without consent with the intent to commit a crime. This includes and abuser who enters a home that he is legally banned from with the intent to harm his partner.

-In Minnesota interference with an emergency call is a gross misdemeanor.

-Victims rights include: The right to financial assistance, notification, protection from harm, and a speedy prosecution.

-1800-799-SAFE (7233) is the Domestic Violence Hotline

-Orders for Protection and DANCO (restraining orders) are enforceable everywhere, they last for 2 to 50 years, they are FREE, and a police officer is mandated to arrest an offender if there is probable cause that the OFP has been violated. Police officers can serve OFPs at any time.

-Go to vinelink.com for information about an offender if he is in the system. You can register to be notified when there is a change in the offenders status. This service is available 24 hours a day.

-You can request that a police officer take temporary inventory on an abusers firearms.

-Go to http://www.mcbw.org/help to search for services available in Minnesota.


Friday, April 22, 2011

The Ordway


Today Jesus is dying for our sins. Before he goes, I want to thank him for metro transit. If it wasn't for the bus lane in downtown Minneapolis, I wouldn't have seen the advertisement for Wuthering Heights, my absolute favorite book ever in opera form. Of course I had to get tickets, despite the fact that the closest I've ever been to an opera is filling "aria" into my crossword puzzle. I tried to bribe my sister to go because she can get extra credit for performances in her band class, but she is always too busy being an angsty teen. Thus, I decided to invite my grandma. She's in a book club, she has read my favorite book, and she's a cheap senior discount date. Good plan right?


Let me tell you, my grandma does not like anything. She kindly informed me that she was very excited. And then proceeded to go on about how much she disliked reading Wuthering Heights because it's too dark and twisted. Oh and, she's so glad that no one in our family acts like Heathcliff and Cathy. One more doozy: The only other time she's been to an opera, she walked out. IN ROME.

What. A. Buzz. Kill.

The text messages I exchanged with my dad after I called my grandma went like this:
-"WHY DOES SHE DO THIS TO ME? UGH."
-"I nvr ask her 2 do nething nemore. Dnt worry. She told me shes xcited last wk wen I accidently told her ur plan."
-"Right, Kesha. We R Who We R. If she tries to leave I'm putting her in a cab to the nunnery"
-"wat?"

After I purchased our discounted tickets at exactly 5:54 p.m., I bounced around for a few minutes and screamed in excitement. My younger sister (who is just learning how to tell time) yelled at me, "Shut up kay kay, It's 12:30, wait a half hour will you?" I forgot all about my grandma being a gigantic bore until later in the week when I called her to confirm our plans and she said "Oh goodness, I haven't been downtown in 20 years. That should be interesting." Gahhhhhh.

I was so, so wrong. The entire night was fantastic (besides the huge run that my control top nylons acquired while I was crawling around looking for shoes). Wuthering Heights at The Ordway in St. Paul was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. It brought tears to my eyeballs, I was so moved. But remember, I am an amateur opera attendee. I'm the girl who duct taped two toilet paper rolls together to make theater binoculars. I was so happy that FINALLY someone (Hindley's character) had managed to make the phrase "I'm going to kick out your brains" sound classy and glamorous. Not to mention opera singers are spicy hot, but I wasn't about to say that to my grandma.

(I'm 66% sure you're not supposed to take pictures)

My G-unit either pretended to feel the same way as me, or she really did enjoy herself. She happened to murmur after the house lights went up that she may just finish reading the book. That is all that I could ask for.


Next time you see me I'll be in Seat 9, Mezzanine Box J. Either that or I'm auditioning for the next opera season. I sang "Hot Blooded" by Foreigner in aria at work today and everyone just adored it....



Happy Earth Day and Good Friday, adieu :)

-kb

P.S. If you have a chance tomorrow night (April 23rd) and you're in the Twin Cities you should try and get tickets for the last performance. Wuthering Heights starts at 7:30 P.M. at The Ordway in the cardiac cavity of St. Paul. It's in English, and if you haven't spent the last 20 years tuning your ear to understand "sopranist" they have subtitles above the stage. You can get tickets at mnopera.org. Remember to call the offices for a discounted price if you're a student (k-12/college) or if you're going with your 65+ picky grandmother. -Also, If you're a lucky s.o.b. and you get backstage, ask the orchestra conductor how much his hands are insured for. Report back. I was curious.

Monday, March 21, 2011

aging

Sometimes I wonder how men will feel about the way they've treated people when they get to the point in their lives where they reflect, and actually have feelings. Women reflect on their feelings every day, but for men, I believe such reflection comes much later in life. I don't think that the masculine persona is worth the repercussions when that is the way one has to remember themselves for the rest of their lives. And although the feelings about one's self die with the body, the actions live on as memories in everyone else for generations.

I work with a lot of eldery people who have nothing to do all day. No letters to send or phone calls to make because they have no one left to give themselves to. Some stare at the walls all day and into the night, not even caring that the lights need to be turned on when dark falls. Even in the brain of a person with Alzheimer's, what are they thinking? The short term memory fails, but the past is as strong as ever. Have you ever tried to bring an Alzheimer's patient back to present time? In training caregivers are taught that at a certain point, it's almost better for the person if you don't bring them back from 1954. If science could prove that we are actually reliving our bad moments over and over again as our reality fades, I think everyone would become a lot nicer to each other. If I've learned anything from the elderly it's that you should always be gracious onto others. It only takes a few seconds for you to need that person more than you've ever needed anyone in your life.


Are you happy with the way you treated others today?