Lo & Behold crafter, writer, life-liver

Short Poems and Loose Rules

I like goals, projects, ideas with rules. Writing is something I like to do, in fits and starts, mostly bad but almost always enjoyable. So last year, around November of 2015, I started tweeting haiku*. I had no real plan, no specific goal in mind. It was just an idea that bounced around in my brain until I finally took action. They are irreverent unscripted tweets, bits of my world confined by the 5-7-5 syllabic structure, a most simple and uncomplicated poem style.

*Fun fact: The plural of “haiku” is “haiku”.

In the straightforward restricted form of a haiku, however, I found that the width and breadth, the enormity of an idea or mood that can be expressed, is surprisingly vast. As in a lot of things, it’s the actual boundaries that set you free. Freedom is an interesting term or definition to explore, and sometimes doesn’t mean entirely what we think it does.

Haiku book by Shrie L. Spangler

(I just realized, there is a typo on the cover. This weighs heavily on my ever-proofing brain. I proofed the copy at least five times! The cover slipped by covert-style. Eeh gads – not ideal.)

So I tweeted, several times a week but not everyday. The reminder to tweet a haiku usually set in around 10 or 11am on a work day at the office. Morning coffee almost cashed, impending work hovering around the edges of my day, it felt like a good time to set to Twitter and type out a few, sometimes rhyming and sometimes flabbily formed, little ditties.

They are often nonsensical, and sometimes communicate my overall mood for the moment. But I didn’t do it for you, or anyone else. I just did it for me. So they didn’t have to be perfect or well-done or even interesting, they just had to be. I tried not to wish-wash on the details, or spend too long crafting them. It was the process, not the product, I was in search of.

I created a little booklet of my year of haiku, from November 2015 to December 2016, self-published it using an online service, and gave out just a few hard copies to family members and friends for Christmas gifts. As is usually the case, I want to be able to show people things I make, but feeling the content or item is sub-par, almost always pull back the reigns and keep it to myself.

Since hardly anyone reads my blog, I feel fairly safe in posting the digital version here. A quiet way to be brave. If you care to delve in, you may. Just download it here: Haiku by Shrie L. Spangler.

Continue reading →

Death to Rubber Gloves

Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio is dead and gone. I have FEELINGS about this, as I’ve detailed in typically long-winded fashion.

It’s taken me a long time to get to this post. I didn’t really know what to say about the venue, the shows, the things I learned while just being alive inside the structure and by hearing the often raucous and strange sounds coming from the stage. I still don’t know how to put it all into words. Maybe I’m just lazy… but more likely, it was just a big ole thought process to sort through and a melancholy goodbye to have to make.

Rubber Gloves outside building

I like to think that many people grew up at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, in a way, whether that was through working there, attending shows, or renting out the practice space onsite. Somehow that ramshackle building full of weirdos was a home of sorts to so many Dentonites who came for college, for small town life, or who were born and bred lil D’ers. RGRS. and the shows that took place inside, was indicative of a special ethos and culture in Denton, at least it was for me during those fateful five years, of unrestrained, brazen musical (and personal) exploration.

The building was small, perpetually stuffy and blazing hot inside. You had to cross an old set of train tracks to get there, and the sound of the train was another important ingredient to Rubber Glove’s magic. Just the act of walking, or driving, across those tracks, stepping away from the meat of the city into that dusty corner of Denton, felt like a departure of sorts but also an exciting arrival. As soon as you crossed the tracks, if it was night time, the pulsing and crashing of music inside and the bubbly laughter of outdoor smokers was apparent. From one world into the next.

Rubber Gloves neon sign

A boss at the chain books/music/video store I worked at in high school had already started me out on music I would never have heard otherwise out in east Texas. He played artists like MC Paul Barman, De La Soul, DJ Shadow, Afrika Bambaata, and more, out in my Camaro, doors flung wide, music as loud as possible. He was a key ingredient in my future, unknowingly so, and I feel tons of gratitude for those tiny slices of time spent with him.

I started seeing shows at Rubber Gloves my freshman year of college. Another dude (we’ll call him J) entered the scene, albeit in a very different way, and became a big part of my life as well, crafting and molding my impressionable country mind into one of a burgeoning music explorer.

One night during my freshman year I went to a party with my best friend. We didn’t know anyone there, and they proceeded to feed us Everclear cocktails (unbeknownst to us). We got HAMMERED. Some things happened, and I accidentally (purposefully) wooed a gentleman in an orange Tripping Daisy shirt (I had recently developed a love for the Dallas band’s sound) and cajoled him into spending time with me. My forceful drunken act turned into a years-long ‘thing’, and friendship that has lasted long past. This dude, J, ended up being a humongo influence in my life, musically and beyond. He introduced me to the likes of Boards of Canada, Melt Banana, Sleep, Neutral Milk Hotel, jazz (in general), Olivia Tremor Control, local Dallas/Denton bands like Adventures of Jet, Baboon, Centro-matic and many many many more. He started me on the path of music nerd-dom at the ripe old age of 18.

Rubber Gloves inside stage

J started taking me to Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, where I saw a cavalcade of important, mostly independent, rad-ass bands. Along with my best friend, J, and a slew of other close friends, I frequented RGRS on a weekly basis for years. I partook in Big Ass Beer Nights on the regular, got stomped on by Yasuko Onuki of Melt Banana, saw J pass out face first onto the concrete floor, made out with multiple people, bummed cigarettes off of Brent Best (of Slobberbone) and smoked them outside in the balmy Texas weather underneath that red glowing RGRS sign, and even met my husband there (when I was there with another dude, who has remained a lovely friend).

I went on to work at a small record store, Seasick Records, in Denton, start writing about music for various blogs/websites upon my post-collegiate arrival in Seattle, interned at Sub Pop Records, and continue seeing shows anywhere I could, usually getting in for free. It all started with my old boss, continued and blossomed with J, and was further ingrained because of the grimy genius of a simple music venue with no A/C and terribly gross bathrooms.

Us at RGRS, for the last time

I don’t owe it all to Rubber Gloves, but I owe a lot of who I am to the times I spent there. When I heard it was closing, the pang of disbelief was strong. How could such a revered institution close just like that, leaving all of its devotees hanging? The answer, of course, isn’t any easier than the question and is a somewhat private matter of the club’s owner, who definitely did not want to close the club.

Brett and I went to the last weekend of shows, the Saturday set, with grieving hearts but smiling faces. We saw people we knew and had forgotten, long lost friends, acquaintances who we now felt more of a kinship with, and made a couple of new friends, all within the span of one night. I took the time to look at everything, to visit the nasty bathroom one more time, to look into the face of Josh, the owner, as he wearily trudged up and down the stairs with boxes of what I can only assume are residual dreams and sad goodbyes. I bounced my head to the music and enjoyed seeing some old faves and new stalwarts of the scene, and I cried a little. Walking away from RGRS that night, right at the train track crossing, I turned to see that glowing sign one more time, with feelings of both sadness (where will all the young ‘mes’ go to find their music?) and gratefulness (if not for J and RGRS, what would I be now?)

Glowing RGRS

It was an end of an era, not just for me but also for Denton. New clubs and venues will pop up, thrive, and leave, as usual. The town and its cavalcade of freaks seeking liberal refuge from tiny towns (like I was) will continue to exist and grow up and move on. The spirit of that place will live on I hope, as long as we want it to. It seems silly to lament over a building, a broken-down crusty building at that. But I guess it’s more than just a building. And everyone who went there, who was imprinted with its history, relevance, and spirit, knows that.

Farewell, godspeed, good luck. xxxooo


All images courtesy of my and Brett’s Flickr pages.

Continue reading →

Behind on Life

I’m so behind.

Behind on crafting and making things I’ve set aside, collecting dust on my craft shelf.
Behind on redoing my super out of whack personal portfolio/business website which is the ugliest thing ever in the WORLD right now.
Behind on cleaning – always.
Behind on writing. I don’t do it, and when I do it’s really bad. Bad writing is still writing, but it is not getting done.
Behind on achieving my goals.
Behind on actually eating right and working out more.
Behind on seeing family that I should have seen ages ago.

I’m behind on just trying to figure out this whole ‘life’ thing. It’s evading me, still.

I know everyone is probably behind, and that the pressure I put on myself is unnecessary, and that I shouldn’t compare myself to the oodles of super successful/never a dull moment entrepreneurs, kick-ass business people, and ever-inspired artists that seem to be excelling far above the level I’m currently stuck at.

Nonetheless, I feel the pressure – my own pressure. What am I actually doing at all?! Am I wasting my time on this earth? Am I asking myself too many questions?

Time: it is a strange and weird and mystical thing. Paired with discontent, it can be a ravenous monster.

Continue reading →

A Cream Team Update

It’s been a while since I’ve written here, and definitely quite a while since I updated you on the goings-on of all things Cream Team. A few fun facts:

There’s more, I’m sure. But, suffice it to say, we’ve been busy cooking and competing and prepping our way to (mostly) victory! We feel good about our curry win, are fairly sick of making meatballs, and are looking forward to Quesoff 2016.

Until then…. the CREAM TEAM LIVES ONNNNNN!!! Stay tuned via Brett’s Flickr page, Paul’s Twitter page, and our hashtag #teamcreamteam.

Continue reading →

A Tale of Two Matrices

There were two Matrices, singularly dubbed Matrix, who met one day. One, called Suckerpunch, was purple with a tinge of pretty blue bruise, and the other, Quicksilver, a perpetually dust-dirtied silver color. Their owners, initially unwitting of this similarity (and unknowingly there would be many more same-sies to follow), hooked proverbial hands and started to know one another.

The two Matrices lived separate but conjoined lives, one wide street over from one another, darting into similar driveways but experiencing separate, somehow linked together, go-kart-esque histories.

Quicksilver was nimble, jumpily starting and going via a handy black stick in her torso, a forced push to her destination wielded most often by a strong stalk-like arm, not too hairy nor too flabby. Suckerpunch acquiesced easily with a quick flick of her owner’s ginger fingers, keeping rally road noise at bay, whistling along the road, whether highway or country dirt or pot-holed hood alley.

Life was good, gentle. The rough hands of nearby shop-men mangled their insides from time to time, checking bits and bobs, holding a grease-o-scope to their chit-chittering hearts. They both remained steadfast and hardy, mechanical horses blazing frivolous trails (once a sand-covered beach road, once in a hairy-with-grass highway-side ravine).


On a day, sunny and fresh and brimming with future beams of light, Quicksilver threw on some Cream and pointed to the north, the scavenging of crafty materials and the touchy-feely of delectable fibers pre-possessing her spark plug non-brain. She felt free, stray leaves ripping and sliding over her hood, the tingling flow of winter air sucking into the roof and caressing the cavity under her hood.

The ramp and road she knew so well, perpetually crammed with smoke spewing trucks moving goods no one wants, and fancy pants low-slung cars va-rooming over the fly-over, sky bound, slowed to a syrupy sludgey crawl in an instant. Brakes were slammed and pulled in every direction they could, swerves happened, nerves snapped with the jostle of necks, and deathly-feeling crunch. A WHAM, then POW, and Quicksilver was gone.


I wasn’t there, but I know someone who was, the aforementioned sun-hued owner/handler of Suckerpunch. Rain-splattering and wet-willied, that Oltorf road is always a bumper tap blight. A lone disrespectful soul narrowly missed the gravel inlet at ABGB, and hard-pumped the brakes for a tight squealing turn-in. Suckerpunch tried with all her might, squealing and wheeling, but body-slammed into her much bigger and broader cousin. A supposed crunch and the slick, black noise of engulfment. Another errant decision, a dark-as-night blunder, caused the demise of that pretty girl, Suckerpunch.


Just like that, the matrices, Quicksilver and Suckerpunch, disjoint and float away, never to be linked again, making way for new shiny hunks of metal, more spaceship than automobile. More new than old. Something let go and lost, something gained.



Continue reading →

Necessary Debauchery

The ladies and I weekended in Vegas, and it was puh-retty great. We went, we drank, we gambled, we conquered all of the things.

Tracy is a newcomer to our lady group, by way of Ronald (storied friend and affable character). When Ron broke the news that he and Tracy were engaged , the ladies and I got to planning. A bachelorette party was the obvious answer to this new revelation!

And what better location than Vegas? A city whose slightly dusty, magical glimmer had been calling our names. We were looking for an excuse to dive into the desert, and this provided us the precise opportunity to round up the ladies for our first out-of-state ladies trip together.

Lots of planning gave way to the purchasing of sunscreen and trying on of swimsuits. Despite a few pre-airport arrival hiccups, we got to our plane on time, with the appropriate luggage in tow and excitement glinting in the corners of our eyes.

Note: we made it there safely, but a word to the wise… never fly Allegiant Airlines, no matter how cheap their tickets. The flight attendants were worn, a grimace-smile barely hanging on. The planes are small, the service is lacking and when you fly back home after an all-nighter you won’t want to be squashing thighs with the woman man-spreading next to you.

I wanted to spoil the ladies a little bit, especially Tracy, so I rented a nice Towncar to come pick us up at the airport. I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of flagging down a cramped and dirty cab. He arrived at our luggage carousel, and politely helped us to the car, though that contented feeling didn’t last long. Our driver was many things, but mostly utterly offensive. The ride was nice, the driver was absolutely apalling.

RX Boiler Room dinner

RX Boiler Room dinner

Squid-E-Os at RX Boiler Room

Squid-E-Os at RX Boiler Room

See more of my photos here.

We had a special fancy dinner at Rick Moonen‘s restaurant RX Boiler Room (we even sent Brett some yolk porn), to kick off the night then attended a saucy, decidedly NSFW, show at the Erotic Museum. The performance had more than a few funny moments… especially when Tracy was called onstage to participate! Pictures and a video MAY or may not exist.

The Yucca at the Neon Museum

The Yucca at the Neon Museum

La Concha at the Neon Museum

La Concha at the Neon Museum

We ate lots of food (including at The Peppermill, which may be the weirdest place I’ve ever eatenCarson Kitchen and the Wicked Spoon)…

Tracy under the neon tree at our table at The Peppermill

Tracy under the neon tree at our table at The Peppermill

Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan

Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan

Drank some dranks at Atomic Liquors and Frankie’s Tiki Room (ultimately our delicious demise, as this was the beginning of our all-nighter), wandered Container Park, got bombarded by Fremont St. and got our casino on. Mightily.

Atomic Liquors with the ladies

Atomic Liquors with the ladies

Enthralled by slots

Enthralled by slots

See more of my photos here.

We gambled/slotted at… the Cosmopolitan, Bellagio, Mirage, Encore at the Wynn, El Cortez (best, old-time casino with the coolest neon sign), Caesar’s Palace, Circus Circus (most briefly, don’t go here… it will ruin you), Mandalay Bay and the Aria. I think. Some of that ‘ding-ding-ding’-ing, shiny flashing and the barrage of cocktails blurred my brain a bit.

Tracy winning at literally everything

Tracy winning at literally everything

There were mimosas in the morning, whiskey in the afternoon, lots of dirty jokes and real talk (post cocktails), and some general bonding. We got Tracy hammered and finally chipped away at that sweet hard shell of hers. Success! She’s a gem, this one. I guess we’ll keep her.

Ladies, sparkly lights

Ladies, sparkly lights

The only thing missing… what would have REALLY capped off our trip, given it a good kick in the ass, would have been to get a tattoo—a horseshoe perhaps, or trio of cherries a la slot machines. We didn’t, but perhaps that’s on the docket for our next go-round.

P.S. And in case you were curious, Vegas smells like chlorine, sewage and sunscreen.

Continue reading →

On Flying Time

It’s almost the middle of 2015, and as with most years, progressively faster as I get older, it kind of just snuck up on me. The good thing about being an adult is that you can have unlimited, unfettered fun. The bad thing about being an adult is that time absolutely flies when you’re busy and enjoying life.

Even when you aren’t enjoying life, and instead are experiencing lots of hard prickly parts, time just slips by, allowing you less space to fix whatever feels wrong or incomplete. It’s at those exact moments that I wish time would sweep out from under me and run fast into the future. I wish I could skip the bad parts, or speed them up: grab the minutes and hours when I feel completely lost and unsure and toss them deep into the ocean.

Sage advice-givers will correct me and say that these moments are what truly build the essence of us. They’re what create the fabric of our character and personhood… it’s always the struggles (internal or external) that make us who we are. And YES you are right. This is true, I bow to your wisdom.

But that advice will never assuage the really difficult times when I question who I am, what I’m doing, the decisions I’ve made and the future I’ve envisioned for myself. I struggle with relationships, my career, my personality (perceived and real)… in figuring out what I really want in life and in love.

As with every year, every month, every day, I’m working on improving myself and feeling better about who I am right at this very second. I’m working on treating people better, focusing on the really important things and going gung-ho after what I want.

It’s all trial and error. I guess LIFE is just trial and error. And if we’re lucky we have a person or two to mumble through all that with. It feels important to say there are a few people that love me for me, personality flaws and all. Those are the people I carry in my heart, and in my mind, when I’m psyching myself out about something or edging close to a mini-breakdown. So thanks, handful of people who likely won’t read this — you make my life a little more awesome, a little more solid-feeling and a lot more hopeful.

My mission for you today: find those rocksteady people in your life and be the person to them that YOU need.

Psych Fest 2015 - Brett and Shrie

Continue reading →


Today was rough. One of those days that kicks you in the pants.

My morning looked like this:

  • I slipped in wet cleaner on the floor (applied after our 16 year old surly ass cat decided to pee on the floor, next to a clean litter box and pheromone infuser, for the umpteenth time).
  • I bobbled, and ultimately dropped, several rubber dog treat toys on the way into the kitchen, spewing dog treat crumbs down the hall.
  • I realized my new ‘awesome’ jeans are definitely too long and just a tad too loose.
  • I hobbled around doing the dog-walk-shower-makeup-hair-getting-ready-before-work routine amidst a killer, and unfortunately not uncommon, stomach ache.

My mid-day and afternoon didn’t look much better; I struggled today. It was hormones, apathy, incredulity and a desire to be wearing a different outfit. It was too little headphones and too much office tele-confer-eavesdropping.

They are small struggles, I realize. Teeny in a sea of awesome. But communication is key—the goods and the bads and the in-betweens.

I did focus on Buddy Miles today, which I’m grateful for. A drummer and singer with soul to spare, a silken slice of vintage sound. Recommended listening: https://open.spotify.com/album/6Kr0V00FNt8Xn3Dk3opAVb.

Buddy Miles

Continue reading →

Cream Team at the WFC Part Two

This is part two of the post I took forever and a day to write; and this one didn’t come as quickly as I wanted it to either. C’est la vie..

(This is part two, the last part. So savor it… )

The Results

We could do nothing but wait. Wait and drink and wander the maniacal Fremont St. Experience. We packed up our stuff, loaded it into the rental car and set to wandering. Well, and drinking.

After cleaning up back at the duplex, we headed back to Fremont St. to await the awards presentation. Oodles of cooking teams, still decked out in their team gear and splattered with frosting, BBQ sauce or both, were milling about and huddling near the stage in the middle of the street. We joined the throngs, frozen mixed drinks in hand, tired and impatient. Elderly and middle-aged couples in khaki shorts and visors streamed past, bumping into us as they tilted their heads up to view the eagle screaming across the gigantic video screen.

Finally, the marketing director for Kenmore Elite (the brand of cooking equipment that graced the Kenmore Kitchen Coliseum) and the president of the World Food Championships took the stage, all glitzy smiles and coiffed hair.

I’ve known my fair share of less-than-easy-to-deal-with ladies, but this broad may take the cake. She strutted around onstage in her three inch heels, flipping her blond mane and gesticulating wildly with whatever hand didn’t happen to be holding the mic. But the kicker, was her voice—high, nasally, WAY too loud and saying nothing important or relative at all.

We were about ready to jet when she finally started announcing the categories and winners. One by one winning teams streamed by, and our category came and went. And we didn’t place, as you may have guessed. Because if we had, wouldn’t I have written this post sooner? Touted our win, gloated a bit, congratulated our backers? I would have, and rightfully.

Previously, after the judging of our first dish, we found out that we were in place #18 out of forty. Not exactly what we had hoped for, but we were positive about the ‘Chilly Con Queso’. Surely it’s inventiveness, delicious texture, super science-y technique and odd but awesome flavor combination would win ALL the judges over.

But they didn’t get it. They must not have appreciated our play on words, the ode to our town of Austin, TX–spicy and cool in it’s own right; the queso-like flavor of the smooth ice cream, the tart candied jalapeno bits, the slight but present sweetness that somehow paired perfectly with the spice.

The winning dish was a cordon bleu. Nothing inventive, boundary-pushing or even really that interesting apart from being a generally tasty dinner dish. But maybe it just tasted so good that the judges didn’t care about our story or our creativity. They just wanted to eat something that tasted good, that most Americans could cook and would want to eat, that they could put on a Food Network-like cooking show. That’s not us. That’s not the Brett and Paul combo that spawned some of these rad dishes.

We spent our last day going to the Hoover Dam, briefly checking out the neon museum, drinking on patios, slottin’ it up and gambling at seedy and unseedy casinos, eating fancy French dinner, shopping for gifts at the world’s largest gift shop and naughty store and generally checking out the view.

Hoover Dam

El Cortez Hotel in Las Vegas

drinking on patios in Vegas

See more photos of all this on Brett’s and my photo sets.

The Future

I guess we’re okay with the results now, though frankly it took a bit. It feels disappointing to ourselves and to our supporters (financial and otherwise). We know blah blah blah we did awesome blah blah Brett and Paul are really awesome cooks blah blah we get it. I think we all just REALLY wanted to place. We wanted to surpass our own lofty expectations and make everyone so proud they’d freak.

Paul in the thick of chili cooking

Months later, we’re looking on to other food competitions. We’ve done two local competitions this year, and were semi-successful at best. But it’s onward, and again we’re feeling positive and interested in trying some new things this year. So thank you, a heartfelt crazy thank you, to all of you who believed in us. The Cream Team lives on!!!

Follow us, Brett, me and Paul, to stay updated on when and where we’ll next delight you with our tasty noms and award-winning techniques!

Continue reading →

Cream Team at the WFC Part One

I’ve put off writing this post for a long time. Maybe because it was just such a big build-up to the event, or maybe it’s just because it was a harrowing experience and we weren’t ready yet. Or maybe it’s just because there is a lot of ground to cover, and the task seemed daunting. After staring at this item on my to do list for months, it’s got to go…

(This is part one. Part two will be posted soon, so stay tuned!)

The Deal

The Cream Team was invited to compete in the World Food Championships in Las Vegas this past November, in the Recipe category (a total of three possible dishes) with an emphasis on cheese as the featured ingredient. Last year’s Mac and Cheeze Takedown win qualified The Cream Team, Brett Spangler, Paul Czarkowski, and me as the juggler/project manager/nagger, for the event.

I contacted a couple of previous winners to get the lowdown, but I’m not sure much could have prepared us for what it was going to be like at our first big out-of-state food competition. We weren’t even sure we were going to go, as we had heard it was nothing but a stunt for the DIY network (fodder for their TV channel). But when presented the chance… why not take it?!


I crafted a compelling IndieGogo campaign page to help us raise a little dough to offset some of the traveling and food costs. We estimated we would need at least $3k to cover most main competition-related expenses. Our family, friends and supporters did not disappoint—we raised $2,670! Now I owe our generous supporters their due gifts (eek), which I am dutifully working on.

We planned planned PLANNED, made tons of lists, got tshirts printed (thanks Brian!), had many taste test sessions with a group of our friends (who all contributed very valuable feedback to the process) and tweaked our three competition recipes to the utmost point of tweakage. Our offerings would be: ‘Craft’ Mac and Cheese (our version of a fancy Kraft dinner), ‘Chilly’ Con Queso ice cream (our Quesoff 2014 winning-dish) and ‘Tater-yaki’ (our take on Japanese takoyaki).


The goal was to make dishes that were interesting yet approachable, using the specified ingredients in a major and recognizable way for our audience of judges. Turns out, it’s a little difficult to understand your audience and the expectations of the dishes you present to the judges. More on that later…

The Competition

We flew to Vegas with some select cooking equipment and specialty ingredients in tow, but had to purchase a lot while there. Paul and Brett ran around like crazy people for almost a whole day attempting to track down things like frozen green chiles, large mixing bowls and other small cooking equipment items and perishable foods. We stayed in a janky but pleasant little duplex in the shadow of the Stratosphere, so we were super close to the event space at the Fremont St. Experience, which was a very odd place: modern radio country music blared over the entire street area while patriotic videos meant to rouse our true American spirit (Paul is Australian) blasted across the street-long video screen above our heads. Casinos were selling liquor on the street and dazed tourists walked around sipping super fruity frozen drinks, wandering into glitzy casinos as they passed.


When we arrived at the competition space the morning of, we immediately started drinking. We were in VEGAS and it was GO TIME! Competitors with tshirts emblazoned with cutesy team names scurried around everywhere, some even sprinting to the judge’s table with their dishes, turning in just before their time was up. We got to our table and set up our station with our various containers of knives and ladles, chicharonnes, Hot Cheetos, mysterious science-y looking ingredients and cheese. Lots and lots of cheese.

I was the cleaner-up-er and the beer-ferryer during most of the cooking process: organizing, stirring, wiping up, finding ingredients, retrieving libations from casinos (two jumbo beers in hand, one gripped in my front teeth). The Cream Team must not go thirsty!


The first dish up was our ‘Craft’ Dinner Mac and Cheese, which, I have to honestly say, was the best mac and cheese they have made in all of their trials. The best mac and cheese I may have ever had, ever. Texas Hot Guts-style sausage was crumbled into creamy cheesy pasta shells and topped with chiffonade bacon, a chicharrones/Hot Cheeto dust and diced green onions. Paul and Brett plated it up, simply, in bowls on silver trays, and turned it in with plenty of time to spare. One dish down, one (or two if we SUPER-advanced) to go. High fives all around and more beer!


Now onto dish two: ‘Chilly’ Con Queso. There was a lot of mixing, and heating, and measuring of mysterious white powders. I must have been ferrying a lot of beer at this point, because I don’t remember much but stirring the milky mixture on the stove and the crazy smoke from the addition of dry ice to the mixer, turning that liquid gold into queso ice cream. We served the ‘Chilly’ Con Queso in a freeze-able shot glass, topped with a long red pepper and spiked with a thick fried corn tortilla strip. They looked delightful, everything went smoothly, the queso ice cream was on point and all we could do is clean up and hope for the best…


This story to be continued…

Continue reading →

A Writerly Resolution

I think last year I said I wanted to try something new every month, which was my non-resolution. That didn’t last SUPER long but I did get quite a bit of value out of that attitude and approach. I learned how to meditate and I tried out a writing class, among other things. I read thirteen books last year, per Goodreads, but I could have done better.

I keep saying I’m a writer, and I am. Being a writer feels like a slow process, one in which you’re not sure if you are who you say you are. So this year, DN DNN DUNNNNNNNN, I am going to write something on paper every single day. I fill my days with writing/editing how-tos, instructions and technical documents. Armed with more confidence and a lot less caring about what other people think, I’ll be continuing my dive into the illuminating waters of creative writing.

You heard right, my non-resolution this year – okay I guess this is a regular resolution – my RESOLUTION for this year is to write something, anything, down on paper every single day of the year.

For Christmas, among the cavalcade of other fantastic gifts my husband lavishly bestowed on me, I received a writing notebook that looks like a library card on the front. Writerly nerds unite! I will use this notebook to chronicle my everyday ramblings.

I’m on day two, and going strong. And who knows… maybe I’ll put a little of that here on the blog as well.


Continue reading →

On, but never up

She was slowly peeling off the Spongebob stickers. Ann was helping.

It was almost like Ann was sorry she had to fire Rachel. She was acting dour, yet chipper. Punctuating her short sentences with an uninspired ‘heh’ and a half-hearted apologetic grin. An ‘I just fired you but told you I was pressured into it by my boss so that makes it a little more okay, right’ approach.

‘You could put them in your kid’s bathroom’ I blurted out stupidly.

Rachel has just been fired, is sullenly collecting her things, and I’m here trying to give her advice about where she can re-home those garish cartoon wall clings that she insisted on getting for the wall next to her desk. ‘To make it seem more Ffuuunnn!’, she had exclaimed when I asked at the time, horrified by their presence peering over my shoulder.

Rachel seems resigned, maybe a little relieved. It’s tiring, job jockeying. She’ll walk out, with her box of belongings, and start a new life again. She’ll convince someone else to hire her, that her measly skills garnered over two decades of meaningless work in corporate sales is enough to guarantee her anything. She will move on, but never up, I bet.

Her heels, too tall and too red, clacking on the concrete floor like tinny gunshots. She scoots over for a polite but hearty side-hug, leaning in, looking me square in the eye.

I can tell I am definitely at least her second favorite ex co-worker.


ps – i said last time things were going to look a bit different around here. this is the beginning of the renovation. short stories. creative writing. strange blurbs. mind-dumping-on-page. and other kinds of words on paper. as i work to get comfortable maybe i will share more. or maybe this experiment won’t last. either way, at this second, i’m putting personal words down for anyone to see. and it doesn’t matter if anyone sees this or reads this, just that someone COULD.

Continue reading →

Fingers crossed

I let myself down all the time. I’ve been letting myself down since I knew about letting people down.

Case in point, I’m a writer and I have a blog that I don’t write in. A writer that doesn’t write.

Except sporadically, in bursts sufficiently snuffed by my crippling inability to write–and let be. The proverbial red pen comes out! I stop after each paragraph to read, edit and rewrite. I wonder, every single time, what the words I just typed on the page say about me. If I sound too trite, too much of a newb, if what they say is that I really can’t write very well after all.

I’m tired of caring. I really just want to do the things that I’ve learned allow me to scribble outside of the lines, or inside the lines if I please. Things that seal up the rough edges.

It may start to feel a little differently around here soon. My hope, xx fingers crossed xx, is that it will get downright weird.

Continue reading →

Queso Kings Forever

Last year’s Quesoff win was a surprise, but a hard-earned result for sure. There was much hemming and hawing over the approach… a roux-based queso? One with beer? What about getting all gastronomical with sodium citrate? Strong cheese or mild cheese? What KIND of cheese? It was all a little baffling at first, at least for me. But they persisted, and my stomach remained leaden with cheese for the previous few months while testing and trials commenced.

This year they knew they had to come up with a super creative idea to ‘one-up’ their entries from last year: a Baby’s On Fire spicy queso and a Cheezy Hot Gutz meaty queso. Something different, but tasty enough to actually win. And people were definitely skeptical when Brett told them they’d be making a queso ice cream (along with a Cajun Boudain sausage queso) that was real ice cream that you actually ate with a tortilla chip.

ice cream magic (with dry ice)

Myself, and our neighbors/friends Dollie and Alan, along with a smattering of other willing taste-testers, judged queso ice cream attempts for a couple of months. As delicious as it was, a little saucer full was more than plenty. It tasted JUST LIKE queso + ice cream. Brilliant! And the boudain queso was chock full of real deal homemade boudain sausage that Paul cranked out. We had many people coming back to nab another taste.

I’m not sure if anyone else has attempted this feat, but with a little internet searching we definitely found more than a few cheese ice creams. As far as we can tell, The Cream Team is a pioneer in the ice cream world with their queso (the Mexican kind you dip chips in and is usually spicy) ice cream concoction.

makin' that queso ice cream

SPOILER ALERT There were tons of people in line at all times, many asking us if we were the ones with the queso ice cream, and The Cream Team won Best in the Wildcard Category for that entry! And again, for the second year in a row, we win Fun Fun Fun Fest Tickets! Woooo!

See more photos in my Flickr set.




queso ice cream cup

via Brett Spangler https://www.flickr.com/photos/naz66/






Continue reading →

Better the Second Time Around

I have so much to write, so much to say here. Too many swirlies… to-do lists… projects to complete..

So, let me say a word about an album I enjoy.

This Themselves remix album, ‘The No Music of Aiff’s Remixed’ is still a favorite, 11 years after it’s release. I memorized every crunchy beat, all the fuzz-obscured lyrics, the picked-apart and reassembled (slowed down, messily speeded up) layers in college.

It’s such a weird album, I admit, and this remix is better than the original album by far – which is rare. I won’t bother describing it further. You can try it out, if you like. It’s keeping my eyes and typing fingers alive at work today.

Continue reading →

Writer’s Workshop Reading Update

Update! The writing workshop reading didn’t go nearly as bad as I had planned to expect. During the drive over to the library, where the writers meet, I just decided not to be nervous. It was as simple as that. I still stumbled over a few words here and there, and I still don’t particularly like the work I read. But after hearing everyone else read, even though my pieces were decidedly not the ‘best’, they were pretty darn good. Good enough no quell my fear of sucking it up big time.

I even came up with the name for our writing group. Perhaps, someday soon, I’ll even share the pieces that were published. You must PROMISE not to scoff, though. Or at least, do your intense scoffing privately.

E. Cesar Chavez Snack Society - Badgerdog Writing Workshop chapbook 2014

E. Cesar Chavez Snack Society – Badgerdog Writing Workshop chapbook 2014


Continue reading →

Writer Not-Writer

I’ve spent a lot of years writing. I’ve written about music, offbeat weddings and weirdo-culture, home decor and upscale appliances, fine art publishing, food and restaurants, crafting and DIY, and even web hosting. One form of writing that I’ve eschewed over the years, since my angsty and love-sick teen journaling days, has been creative writing.

I read novel after novel, check up on McSweeney’s regularly, and even dive into the New Yorker when I can. But when it comes to picking up the pen and throwing down some creative words of my own… nu uh. And now I write instructions for a living, so creativity is typically thrown out the window.


Continue reading →

Page 1 of 12 1 2 3 4 5 ... Last →