My first IKEA hack: dish towel cloth napkins

April 16, 2014

After last week’s napkin adventure, my friend Julia sent me a fantastic cloth napkin IKEA hack she saw on The Kitchn. After reading through the original tutorial, I was sold. You take the four/$1 IKEA dish towels, cut them in half, fold the cut edge over twice, iron it, sew it down, and—Boom! Soft, absorbent cloth napkins. With way less cutting and sewing on my part.

Easy DIY: turn Ikea dish towels into cloth napkins

On Friday afternoon, Eric and I went to IKEA to pick up the dish towels. It was a really nice day and a lovely trip to IKEA, mainly because we avoided traffic both on the highway and in the store itself. (And also because trips to IKEA are typically fun, unless you’ve just moved in with your boyfriend and are shopping for the first time. That…will ruin IKEA for you for a little while.) I’ve never been to IKEA on a weekday afternoon, and it was so much easier to get through the store quickly. We picked up a few other items (new cutting boards!) and then got on our merry way. As we were walking to the car, I remarked that the whole experience trip had been so efficient and I was just going on and on about how successful of a trip it had been.

Moments later, a guy backed into my car as we were leaving.

So. The trip to IKEA was easy. Leaving IKEA was has turned into a hassle. Even though the collision wasn’t my fault, these things are just always a pain to take care of. The upside is that when I called State Farm to make a claim, I actually talked to a guy named Jake. It almost makes up for the way my rear passenger door looks.

Easy DIY: turn Ikea dish towels into cloth napkins

Anyway, I made the napkins on Saturday afternoon and things went pretty smoothly. (It was also a really good opportunity to practice sewing straight lines.) However, after I washed them, several of my seams appeared to be coming apart. The problem was that when I had done my two folds before sewing, I hadn’t gotten the first fold tight enough and sewed down properly, so some of the cut edge was exposed. The edge frayed in the washing machine, and I ended up having to re-sew about a third of them. It wasn’t a huge deal, but I’ll probably just pin the folds down before sewing them if I make more.

I’m really happy with how they turned out; they are soft, pretty, and very useful. Also, using cloth napkins just makes me feel a little more grown-up and elegant, even when I’m using them whilst eating a grilled cheese sandwich. (Or perhaps especially when I’m using them whilst eating a grilled cheese sandwich?) This weekend I’m going to get back to sewing the rest of my napkins from scratch, but it was nice to have a little help on this first round. 

Foodstuffs: When following the directions gets you nowhere

April 14, 2014

chocolate chip cookie dough

Last Wednesday night, I decided to make orange chicken for dinner and chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Things started off great; I had already prepped my cookie dough according to the very detailed instructions (yes, I weighed out the dry ingredients) the night before, as the recipe said it had to chill for somewhere between two and 72 hours. On Wednesday evening, I took the dough out of the fridge and let it sit for 10 minutes, then scooped out 2-tablespoon-sized balls of dough (not an easy task, as the dough was still very cold), shaped said balls into little dough towers as instructed, and then put the towers back in the fridge. As the dough chilled for another few hours (again, as the directions required), I prepped the orange chicken marinade, cut up the chicken, and put the chicken in the fridge to marinate. Great! So far so good.

I hadn’t read the orange chicken recipe that carefully before I decided to make it so I didn’t realize until then that I was going to have to dip the chicken in a beaten egg, dredge it in cornstarch, and then fry it in hot oil. This isn’t a particularly difficult thing to do, but it’s certainly not my favorite thing to do; I would have avoided the recipe if I’d realized it because I find the method tedious. But it wasn’t a huge deal and a bit later, I set up my dipping and dredging station so I could get started. 

The thing I hate about the dipping and dredging method is that as you do it, the flour and/or whatever breading you’re dipping your chicken into starts to get gross from the egg. In this case, it was worse than normal because the cornstarch and egg turned into that 4th grade science project we’ve all made—the one with the cornstarch and water that is a similar consistency to Nickelodeon Gak (though way less fun and hilarious). Dry cornstarch had already somehow gotten all over the counter, and then the weak Gak mixture started to appear everywhere (like on my tongs, rendering them useless…and in the sink, turning the pile of dirty dishes into something extra special and disgusting). But I just kept at until all my chicken was sort of dredged (though it took me so long that it appeared the egg had just started to absorb al the cornstarch) and then heated up my oil to start frying. 

Meanwhile, Eric hadn’t bought the brown rice in the easy (E-Z?) microwavable packet that I had him to get at the grocery store, and instead told me I could just use the boxed brown rice he had bought a few weeks prior (when I…had asked for the microwavable packet for a different recipe). My preference is always going to be for no-strings-attached rice; Eric’s rice was looking for a long-term commitment. But the box said you could make it in the microwave (score!) so I had it going in there according to the instructions. 

So, my rice was cooking and I was beginning to fry the chicken in batches. When I took the first piece out after the recommended two minutes, it was still completely raw inside and I realized it was going to take a bit longer than anticipated. OK, fine, whatever. As I frying the chicken in batches, I started prepping the sauce, which you make by taking some extra marinade you set aside early in the process, boiling it, and adding…cornstarch. Of course. When I added the cornstarch, it went in in huge blobs and would not dissolve.

At this point, I had also removed the rice from the microwave, and set it on the counter, covered, for five minutes (according to the package directions). Yeah…I think it lasted about three minutes before I heard a huge BANG! and looked over to see that the top of the container had blown off. This rice was not just down for a casual hookup, it had just said that it was cool with that…but it then got mad when I put it in the microwave. This rice had apparently decided it was sick of my bullshit and my late-night texts and was leaving. 

But I didn’t really have time to think about the rice telling me I was “such an asshole” because I was still stirring the would-be sauce (while still working the frying pan of chicken and hot oil); when it became clear that the cornstarch just wasn’t going to dissolve, I finally just turned off the heat and scooped the cornstarch blobs out with a colander/spoon method (creating…three more dishes covered in cornstarch Gak, of course). Then I called Eric in for backup.

Eric took over making the sauce, and while it went better that time around, the cornstarch still didn’t really dissolve fully. I learned this as I was trying to fry the chicken in the cornstarch-Gak-covered tongs. (Note: not effective! Might lead to third-degree burns from the hot oil!)

When we finally sat down to our dinner of brown rice and orange chicken a little while later, it was…fine. The rice survived, and the chicken was cooked through. It actually was pretty good, but it would have been better with more sauce; had I known, I would have reserved more of the mixture before marinating the chicken. But oh well. It was fine. 

As we finished up dinner, I turned on the oven to 325 so I could bake my cookies.

Now, this cookie recipe promised to make very thick, very chewy cookies. That’s why they included cornstarch. That’s why I weighed my sugar. That’s why they had chilled for a day, been rolled into towers instead of balls, and had been put back to chill again. I did it all according to the directions. Then I followed the directions for baking the smaller cookies I had chosen to make—bake at 325 degrees for eight minutes. The recipe said that they’d look undercooked when you took them out, but that you should leave them on the hot cookie sheet for 10 minutes and they’d finish cooking.

When I pulled them out at eight minutes…well, there’s undercooked…and then there’s raw. I wanted so badly to believe in the magic of Pinterest recipes and the power of a hot cookie sheet, but I knew these cookies were not going to cook themselves outside of the oven. So I put them back in for three minutes. Nope. Another three minutes. Not yet. Then five.

Still. Raw.

After another 30 or so minutes of baking in tiny increments (every time I took them out, I could hear my eye doctor saying, “Any sharper here? How about here?”) I decided they were cooked enough to finish cooking on the cookie sheet. So we let them sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes they looked…like cookies. It was about 10:15 at this point, so we brought them upstairs with us on the cooling rack because I was sick of walking back and forth to kitchen and wanted to read in bed.

Around 10:30, Eric got up and inspected the cookies. “They look…fine,” he said. He broke one in half and inspected the middle before taking a bite. “Yeah, it’s…fine.”

“Is it though?” I said.

“It’s good. It’s fine!” he said. “People eat raw cookie dough all the time and it’s fine!”

“IT’S NOT FINE! You’re not supposed to eat raw cookie dough because of FOOD POISONING.” 

He took another big bite, thus leaving just half a cookie.

“STOP EATING IT!” I screeched. And then suddenly I was a monologuing like a character on Scandal, about how I didn’t spend two days making these cookies only to have them be “fine” and actually still raw. I weighed my flour and shaped cold dough towers based on the promise of the best cookies ever, dammit, so we weren’t going to settle for FINE! 

Eric went downstairs and turned the oven back on.

The next thing I knew, it was 11:44 PM and he was waking me up with warm cookies and cold milk. The cookies still didn’t look as thick as the original post had promised, but whatever. We broke them in half and they appeared to be cooked through. We bit into them tentatively and…They. Were. Amazing. Even though they didn’t look thick, they tasted incredibly thick and chewy, as promised. They were definitely the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made, if not eaten. With the cold milk, they were absolute perfection. I savored every last bite. 

The next morning, I wasn’t sure if that part had been a dream, but the leftover cookies were just as good as the night before. (And holy hell, my kitchen was just as filthy.) The recipe made a lot of cookie towers and I only baked eight. The rest are in our freezer; according to the directions, I can take a few out at any time and bake them. As long as I have a few hours and a lot of patience to spare I guess. 

Anyway, here are the rest of our meals from last week.

Meyer lemon margarita

Enchilada nachos and Meyer lemon margaritas. (The nachos were good but meat was very spicy, and I felt like there was just too much seasoning overall. I’d make them again, but I’d cut the seasoning in half and skip the cayenne entirely. As for the margaritas, they were…tart. Not my favorite margaritas until I added a tablespoon or two of simple syrup to mine, which made it delicious and perfect. Also, I really hated everything last week, didn’t I?)

Easy twenty minute tortellini bake 

Hamburgers and sweet potato fries

Fried egg and avocado sandwich (For some reason, this recipe was Eric’s personal orange chicken and chocolate chip cookies. He burned the toast and the bacon and had to start over. But in the end it was worth it because it was really, really delicious. Also, yes, it’s a Paula Deen recipe, which is why it shall be known from here on out as “dinner in the Big House.”)

Fancy grilled ham and cheese and tomato soup (Best recipe of the week! Sandwiches for dinner forever!) 

And leftovers.

 

Thoughts on ‘American Blogger’

April 10, 2014

Like a lot of people, I watched the trailer for the new documentary American Blogger this week and scratched my head.

American Blogger Official Trailer from Chris Wiegand on Vimeo

As someone who loves blogging and analyzing the way blogging is done/received/regarded, and who follows a couple of the bloggers featured in this documentary, I wanted to like this. I actually expected to like it. But…the trailer leaves a lot to be desired. After reading the #americanblogger hashtag on Twitter this morning (which is mostly snark and criticism), I think some of the response is fair and that some is completely off-base. 

First, the self-important voiceover basically sets this film up for ridicule. I can’t remember the last documentary trailer I saw that laid it on that thick, and that includes documentaries about far more life-changing and world-changing topics. I think the filmmaker got a little too excited about his film. It reads like parody, which is a bummer because this could be a really good documentary. But if it is (and I hope it is!), the trailer certainly didn’t really show any of the interesting parts that would make someone who knows nothing about blogging want to watch. Instead it just tells you, “YOU SHOULD REALLY WATCH THIS.” But “show me, don’t tell me” is the oldest rule in the journalism book for a reason. 

The most common criticism I’ve seen is that the majority of the bloggers featured in the film are thin, conventionally attractive white women. That is a fair criticism but one that should be directed at the filmmaker, not the bloggers featured. Frankly, I’m kind of over listening to a bunch of middle-class white women complain about the fact that it’s only middle-class white women being represented in blogging. That’s not to say that white women shouldn’t ask for more diversity, when, say, a brand is announcing the bloggers they are working with, but I rarely hear the criticism being directed at the person (or, more often, media outlet or brand) responsible for the choice; it’s often said in the context of why a particular white woman is unworthy of being chosen. By all means, call someone out if they are claiming that they were successful so you can be too, if you just work as hard as their white, middle-class, thin, cis, straight, self did. But I don’t think that the sobbiest sob story ever should be a requirement for whether or not we can celebrate someone else’s success.  

In reality, there are so many different types of bloggers out there; I think what we really mean when we say that blogging isn’t diverse is that the powers that be (typically bigger media outlets and brands) who offer the attention, money, and best opportunities (which are the major markers of a success) to bloggers aren’t doing a good enough job of making sure the bloggers they recommend or work with represent a wide swath of people. That is a valid criticism and one that’s worth repeating until that changes. Because even if you have a more targeted audience (like a women’s magazine, for example) it’s still absurd to assume all your readers only want to hear from one type of person, or one type of woman. But that doesn’t mean blogging isn’t diverse, or that we should be mad at white bloggers for being white. It’s also harmful to say that something sucks just because of its association with white women (I hear this come up a lot when people criticize Pinterest too), without acknowledging that if you think a particular thing on the Internet is for white women only then you’re probably just following the wrong people. 

All that said, one could still make a legit documentary about white women bloggers. I would watch the shit out of a documentary that was all about white female Mormon bloggers because I find that topic pretty fascinating. (In fact, three weeks ago, I found myself Googling to see if any journalists had written about the topic in an interesting and relevant way because I was curious to know more.) One could make a fantastic documentary about women bloggers in general—go to BlogHer, talk to women of different backgrounds, share readership numbers and ad dollars, talk about the incredible ways blogging has shaped or united many different communities, include women who have had bad experiences blogging, etc. White, middle-class, lifestyle/mommy bloggers could be a part of that documentary, but not the main focus. I would love to watch that film. 

But to make a film called American Blogger in which you take a cross-country road trip in a restored Airstream and talk to 50 bloggers who are your blogger wife’s friends…well, come on. If “show me, don’t tell me” is the first rule of journalism, then “don’t just use a few of your friends as sources” is the second. That’s pretty basic stuff and Chris Wiegand could have done better.

For his part, Wiegand told The Daily Dot:

“‘I wasn’t sure if anybody would try to question my motives on picking people or something. I filmed the women who said yes. It’s not intentional if it’s heavy one way or another,’ he says. “I would hope that nobody would ever look at that and make some political argument out of it.’

‘I hope that’s not what people think about…I’m a documentarian. I see myself as a journalist. I can’t force something that’s not there,’ Wiegand explains. ‘I just film what is presented to me.’”

OK, see, no. A good journalist doesn’t just film what is presented to her. A journalist finds the story, finds the sources. And if you can’t find any sources who aren’t, say, non-white, then you should think about and share why because that is very likely a part of the story.

Aside from the film’s lack of diversity, a lot of people have just been bitching about lifestyle blogs in general—that they are too staged, that the bloggers are too perfect, that these bloggers put a lot of pressure on their readers to be perfect too. 

I certainly think that a good documentary about blogging would be as non-staged as possible (because, um, that’s sort of the point of documentaries); maybe that’s the case with American Blogger but just isn’t evident in the trailer. But sure, show me a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of the most popular bloggers. That said, this is where the criticism starts to veer away from valid and gets into just complaining about blogs/bloggers themselves. 

As I’ve written pretty extensively, I just don’t get the idea that bloggers have to share their messier photos, their piles of laundry, their boring weeknight evenings with the world. I mean, why would I want to read that? Being a writer or a blogger or creative of any type is about editing—removing the stuff that doesn’t really help you tell a good story. And I don’t think it’s part of some big conspiracy either. I clean my house if I’m having company. Some days I clean it just because. Some days I don’t. It’s not that deep. Saying that blogs are too staged and therefore all bloggers are evil starts to sound a lot like the MRA trolls who say that women who wear makeup are engaging in false advertising and should therefore be beaten. (I…wish I were kidding about that sentiment, but it’s a pretty common one among a certain subset of misogynistic assholes.) Women aren’t she-devils who are out to trick you (into…what? following them on Instagram?) because they would rather share a photo of their laundry room looking nice than looking disgusting. 

Most bloggers do post behind-the-scenes pictures or messy house pictures from time to time and it’s…never that interesting or revealing. But I’ve seen enough bloggers get torn a new asshole for posting a photo that includes a dirty kitchen appliance or chipped fingernail polish that I’m pretty confident we as readers don’t actually want to see every moment of someone’s actual real life. 

But this sentiment that not sharing every detail of their lives means bloggers are hiding something persists. What’s bizarre to me is that that’s…not how the world really works offline? Like, if my coworker tells me each day about the cool stuff she did the night before, I don’t sit around speculating that she’s actually depressed, or cheating on her husband, or secretly a lesbian, or about to go bankrupt. I don’t assume that her life is perfect; I assume she probably has more on her mind from time to time but she isn’t telling me the stuff that’s really mundane or just none of my goddamn business. Again…it’s not that deep. And, frankly, I don’t want to hear all about her proverbial dirty laundry any more than I want to hear about her actual dirty laundry. That doesn’t mean I expect everyone to be all sunshine and light all the time; it just means that, on the whole, I’d rather hear the good parts. And again, considering how bitchy people get when anyone overshares the darker stuff, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that regard.

But we can’t have it both ways. Either we accept that while a blog might be true, it’s still an edited view of reality and that’s OK…or we decide that we really just want everyone to start shitting with the door open and then posting it on Instagram. Personally, I’d prefer the former. 

Whether or not American Blogger is actually a good documentary about blogging remains to be seen; I hope the film is better than the trailer and I’ll certainly be watching it when it comes out. 

I got 99 problems but a stitch ain’t one

April 9, 2014

learning to sew

My mom and grandma gave us a sewing machine for Christmas this year; I was really excited but I knew Eric and I wouldn’t have a chance to even think about using it until after the wedding. Then I read a great article about saving money and one of the suggestions was using cloth napkins. We go through napkins at a really fast clip around here so that sounded like a good tip for us. And then I realized that cloth napkins were basically the perfect first sewing project to try.

DIY napkins

Over the past few days, I’ve been using this tutorial and working on sewing my own cloth napkins! (This entire project could easily be done in a few hours on a Saturday, but I was too impatient to wait until the weekend.) Monday night, I picked out some fabrics and pre-washed them, and then tackled threading the sewing machine.

Now, let me back up: I actually learned to sew on a sewing machine when I was 17 and in the summer theater program at Northwestern. In the couple of years following, I continued to sew small projects (mainly dog beds and dog accessories) but can’t say I really mastered it. I figured starting to sew again a decade later would be…well, not exactly like riding a bicycle, but also not that hard to re-learn.

It hasn’t been like riding a bicycle at all, but it’s been manageable. It would have been easier if my mom had been around to show me (obviously) or if I had taken a class, but since both plane tickets and sewing classes cost money, I decided I’d see what the sewing machine’s manual said. While the manual does a pretty pisspoor job, I was determined to make it work. With a few failed attempts each step of the way, I managed to thread my bobbin, thread the machine, and sew a few practice lines!

Last night, I cut out three napkins, pressed the corners, and pressed the sides. (The tutorial I’m using is really easy to follow, though I would say that just making a pattern for the napkins would make the process much easier for me. I’ll probably make one this weekend.) By this morning, I couldn’t wait any longer (I…am just as cool now as I was when I spent my summer in a theater program when I was 17) so I sat down to sew the first napkin before work. And…it worked! While I can’t say my seams are all perfectly straight, I can say that I have now completed a sewn, fully-functioning napkin!

DIY cloth napkin

I am very proud of my little plaid napkin! (Actually, I’m most proud of threading and loading the bobbin properly. I feel like that was the hardest part.) After I was done sewing the final side, I ran into our bedroom and screamed, “LOOK!” before unfurling my napkin victoriously. “Wow, look at that!” Eric said.

“I mean, my stitches aren’t perfect,” I said, smoothing out the napkin on our bed.

“Stitches be trippin’,” he said. To which I replied, “Stitches ain’t shit but hos and tricks.”

I really am just so excited about this. 

Foodstuffs: Pizza x 2

April 8, 2014

French bread pizza

Last week’s dinners were pretty good, if not terribly exciting! Then again, any week where I have pizza twice is exciting for me. Here’s what we had:

French bread pizzas

Spaghetti and meat sauce

Steak, roasted Brussels sprouts, and French bread with butter

Burgers and sweet potato fries

Pasta salad

Top It pizza

Leftovers

This week we’re trying quite a few new dinner recipes and I’m planning to make chocolate chip cookies, so I’m really looking forward to that! 

Weekend favorites

April 6, 2014

This was a really great weekend! It was restful, quiet, productive, and fun. For almost every single one of the following photos, I was tempted to write “MY FAVORITE!” after the description…it’s just been two lovely days packed with most of my favorite things. 

Froyo

An impromptu froyo date and a delightful walk around City Centre. (Which must be pronounced sahn-TRUH, obviously. It’s very phlegmy; that’s how you know it’s upscale.)

paper source

A trip to Paper Source.

Top It Pizza

Pizza from Top It. 

vbeaute

A special one-on-one demonstration of the new skincare line Vbeauté, from the creator Julie Macklowe.

Meyer lemons

A trip to Central Market. (OK this one really is my favorite, especially because the trip started with a hot cup of Lola Savannah coffee with lots of cream, involved lots of funny conversations with Eric, and ended with two pounds of Meyer lemons.)

Chuck

Reading Plate to Pixel (THANKS, surprise Kindle settlement credit!) in bed with Chuck. (Chuck really wants to learn to take better photos of his kibble.) 

The Atlantic: The Feisty Feminism of ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun,’ 30 Years Later

April 3, 2014

“How has this song become so deeply embedded in American culture? It’s true that it’s pretty catchy, and bars always need fodder for ‘80s night. But it takes more than big hair and a good beat to become a cultural tagline. ‘Girls’ was engineered to be an anthem of women’s sexual freedom at a time when feminism was becoming a big part of cultural consciousness—and it helped set a template for how future stars would sing about social issues.

When I spoke with Lauper about the story of her first big hit, she was definitive: ‘It was very blatantly feminist.’ She described the early ‘80s as a difficult time for women to call themselves feminists, particularly in the press. Not for her, though: ‘I would say, yeah, I’m a feminist, I burnt my training bra at the first demonstration. You got a problem with that?’

Equality among women was just as important to Lauper as equality between men and women: The song’s music video was widely noted as one of the first to feature women of multiple races. ‘The one thing I really wanted was to have multi-racial girls so that every little girl could actually see herself in it, and it would be kind of contagious that everyone was entitled—no matter what race or color or anything—you were entitled to this joyful experience,’ she said.”

— From Emma Green’s The Feisty Feminism of ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun,’ 30 Years Later

 

Lunch at my desk: Simple pasta salad

April 2, 2014

Greek Pasta Salad

I made this pasta salad on Sunday night with the intention of eating it for lunch all week…but then the recipe just made so much and it was so good, we had it for dinner last night too. (Eric hadn’t had it for lunch; I had and didn’t care.) It’s easy to make and just a really solid lunch recipe. I added chicken to my version and did yellow and red peppers instead of cherry tomatoes. And because it made so much pasta salad, there really wasn’t enough homemade dressing to cover it, so we picked up some bottled Italian dressing last night. I love how it turned out and I’m definitely going to keep the recipe in my regular lunch rotation! 

 

I’m suddenly laughing with ‘Cosmo,’ not at them

April 1, 2014

This morning, I came across the most “WELL NOW I HAVE TO CLICK ON THAT” clickbait I’ve seen in some time…retweeted into my Twitter timeline, whoomp! there it was:

Cosmo tweet

Obviously, there was no way I wasn’t going to read that article. But the thing is…the article was actually really funny. And not in that “Are they serious with this ridiculous sex tip?” way that one typically finds Cosmo hilarious. It was just a funny, self-aware article that contained lines like, “The other sex tips are out there working on their triple salchows and this motherfucker just wanders in off the street and completes a five rotation axel like it’s nothing” and ”First, I had to beg my boyfriend to do this. He was like, ‘What if I get a yeast infection!?’” It made me laugh and then made me want to eat a donut (off a plate). 

After I read that article, I somehow ended up on the the Cosmo Catch-Up video series and found those even funnier. I started with the engagement catch-up and loved it. (“And then the waitress comes over and says, ‘Sweeties, I forgot to ask how you like your eggs,’ and I’m like, ‘Why is everyone so concerned with my eggs and my body and my age and my LIFE DECISIONS?’”) I’m normally not a huge fan of watching videos online, but these had me cracking up at my desk. 

Yes, I was sitting in my house this morning, laughing by myself at something produced by Cosmo. I’m…basically one step away from commenting “OMG THIS POST IS EVERYTHING!” on Thought Catalog articles. 

Then I remembered that just a few days ago, I read an article about Amy Odell, the new editor of Cosmopolitan.com. This is what she had to say in the article:

Troy Young is the president of digital here at Hearst and he came to me while I was at BuzzFeed and said, ‘Would you run Cosmopolitan.com?” and I said that would be awesome and he said, ‘Why? Why does that sound awesome?’ I said, ‘Well, because this is an established media brand and I think it’s really important that a women’s media brand creates empowering, engaging, smart, funny content for women because women have a lot to worry about. Our rights are under assault everyday in the US and there wasn’t a media brand out there that really spoke to me as a woman and I felt like someone had to do it and Cosmo seemed like a great way to do it.’

The first thing I wanted to change was the voice. I wanted the voice to be stronger. I wanted people to go to the site because they wanted to read what we were saying and not just get there by accident. I said from the beginning it needs to be funny. It’s the Internet and people read things on the Internet that are funny. It’s the easiest way to build a following. When I said, the Cosmo site has to be funny, I thought, ‘They are going to hate this,’ but I have to be honest about what I want to do.

Our audience is a 24-year-old college-educated woman and wants to be spoken to like a college-educated woman. It was really important for me to establish a conversational voice, so when you read the site you feel as though you are talking to your funniest, smartest, most insightful friend which is what I think we have achieved.

Uh, yeah, I would say she’s nailed it. I realized that I had read some other articles on their website in the past few months that felt very…un-Cosmo-like. Or just…hipper, I guess. A little more aware and digitally savvy. Just…better.

I haven’t ready Cosmo in ages but I’m definitely going to be checking in more regularly now. I figured since I finally figured out how to do the main thing they were trying to teach me, I had no use for it any more. Who knew, eh?

 

Foodstuffs: Faux fast food & real fast food

March 31, 2014

Homemade crunch wrap supreme

Photo: Emma Chapman

Last week’s dinners were a mix of faux fast food, actual fast food, and…pasta. Here’s what was on the menu: 

Homemade crunch wrap supremes (I added taco meat to these too and they turned out really well!) 

Chicken finger pitas (Frozen chicken fingers + lettuce + shredded cheddar cheese + Ranch dressing in a pita) and sweet potato fries. This was probably my favorite meal of the week; it’s one we used to have in the Sigma Kappa house regularly but I had totally forgotten about it. Remembering it last weekend was really exciting. 

Spaghetti carbonara 

Steak fajita bowls

Baked ziti (Kind of thrown together using various online recipes.)

Leftovers

McDonald’s (Yeeeeup.)

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