Sunday, January 27, 2013

Disappointment

Okay, I am going to admit something that is a little embarrassing. I watch GLEE. Yes, I know, the gross amount of auto-tuning is horrible. And yes, I know that their target demographic is about a decade younger than me. But I love things I can sit and watch with D, and know that he is enjoying - and that limits me to videos with a lot of music, Blue's Clues and Pokemon.

I could blame it all on D, but that's not completely it. I also love Blaine. I mean, the character is neat, as far as characters go, but I have been a fan of Darren Criss since I first saw A Very Potter Musical. Which for those unfamiliar with it, is a 3 hour long musical parodying the Harry Potter book series. I always adore extremely creative and understated/under-appreciated musicians. (Don''t even get me started on Neil Innes...) I also enjoy seeing the interactions between Blaine and Kurt and the other characters. Some of the situations remind me strongly of elements of my secondary schooling, and I am happy to see somewhat decent role models in the spotlight for the younger generation.
Borrowed the pic from Perez, because it says it all. <3
When Darren Criss got a spot on GLEE, that is actually what made me check the show out for the first time. I liked the idea of them supporting and promoting creative individuals who deserve to be noticed. In that mindset, I got really excited earlier this month when I heard that another one of my favorite YouTube "celebrities", a girl named Tessa, auditioned and got a spot on GLEE. Tessa does some really fun parody and comedy videos on her channel tessaROXX TV and she has a beautiful voice. I looked forward to watching the coming episodes to see if I could spot her. Then everything came crashing down.

If you use the internet any little bit at all, you have probably heard of the scandal going on right now between FOX (the producers of GLEE) and a man named Jonathan Coulton. JoCo, as he is sometimes known, is yet another individual musician who really deserves to be recognized. In 2006, he did a very creative cover of Baby Got Back (originally by Sir Mix-a-Lot). On this week's episode of GLEE, Coulton's cover arrangement was used for a performance. No permission was asked and no credit was given. This is, by far, the furthest FOX could get from "supporting and promoting creative individuals" as possible.

Now, there is dispute that FOX used Coulton's cover of the song. Though, apparently most of it comes from deaf people and FOX's employees. I will let you determine the truth to this for yourself:

 

On top is a video of Coulton's 2006 arrangement of Baby Got Back, and below that is the clip from the GLEE episode "Sadie Hawkins" that aired on January 24th. The GLEE clip I linked for the episode is actually a cropped version of the song, leaving out the most damning evidence - such as the actual mention of Coulton - which can still be found in the version available for sale on iTunes anywhere outside of the US. But I used this clip for a reason. 


In the clip, Kurt is watching the NYADA show choir, named The Adam's Apples, perform the song in question. The song starts - and there is Coulton's cover. Cue moderate disgust. Three seconds into the video, you see a cute girl with an awesome pixie cut. That's Tessa. Awww, really? But, wait, I did a double take and had to rewind. Who was that other person I noticed? Why, the first person who started singing is none other than Joey Richter, another A Very Potter Musical alum and member of team Starkid. He was the Weasley to Darren's Potter. That is two very popular individual artists. Who I like. I was happy to see them, and to see that they got great screen time, but was very disappointed that it happened during the segment.

Which got me thinking even further. What would their opinions have been, going into this recording session, had they known that it was doing work stolen from another independent artist without his permission? Would their ethics have held them back? Or would they have been overridden by their desire for fame?

When I started asking myself these questions, and really thinking about it, it opened up the door to even more questions. Joey and Tessa are both quite popular on the internet, and have large followings. And, if you judge by the very debate over this song being copied from Coulton, it becomes evident that someone who works at FOX is no stranger to the internet, and what is popular on it. So, it begs to be asked - did these two very talented individuals actually win these roles completely of their own merits? Or did they get used? Were they chosen over more qualified actors because FOX knew that they could use their followings to rebuild the show's dwindling fan base?

To be honest, I would love to get a statement from Tessa or Joey about this. Sadly, I know that will never happen. What with contracts and fear of losing the job and all. But still, I would love to hear what they had to say on the subject.

I really hope FOX get's its act together. Because I want to keep my guilty pleasure, and not feel too guilty about it. I also wish for all the best for Joey and Tessa, and hope for them a long run with The Adam's Apples. How aptly named, The Adam's Apples. It has often been speculated that the apple was the biblical forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, that Adam and Eve shared, opening their eyes to the knowledge of the world and getting them thrown out of their sanctuary in the garden of Eden. This bunch of apples also served to open many a person's eyes - to the curious and disappointing workings of the FOX network. What will they do with this knowledge?


Footnote: For more information on any of the artists mentioned, you can click on the link on their names and be brought to a page where you can check out samples of their work. Also, if you would like to show your support for Jonathan Coulton, you can buy a copy of his arrangement of Baby Got Back on mp3 here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Yummy Casserole is Yummy

I promised everyone a post this weekend, but sadly, my Nook post is not finished. There is so much that I want to say that I do not want to rush it. So instead, I offer you this: a recipe for a yummy casserole.


Due to some chaos around the house since Thanksgiving, we have been pinching pennies a little more than usual. Which has led to some creative dinner choices. The plus side to this is that I have gotten the hubby and kids to try some different things. They are very picky and like to stick with what they are used to, but to be honest, I was getting sick of the same old routine.

For dinner tonight, I decided to try a recipe that I found on allrecipes.com a few weeks ago, when searching for things that used rice and cream soup but were not broccoli, cheese, and chicken. I found an appetizing looking dish with sausage, veggies, and cream of mushroom soup. Since the hubby is allergic to the mushrooms, I opted to modify it a little by leaving out the fresh celery and exchanging the mushroom soup for cream of celery instead. 

Below is my adaption, but the original recipe can be found here.

Hot Sausage Casserole

Ingredients

1 pound bulk hot Italian pork sausage
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 med onion, chopped
1 1/4 cup uncooked long grain white rice
2 (10.75 ounce) cans Condensed Cream of Chicken soup
1 (10.75 ounce) can Condensed Cream of Celery soup
Cooking spray

Instructions
  1. Cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it is well browned, stirring often to seperate the meat. Pour off any fat. Stir in the pepper and onion. Cook for a minute or two so vegetables will start to soften. Add and stir the rice, soups, and 1 can of water in the skillet.
  2. Spray a 3-quart casserole dish with the cooking spray. Spoon the skillet mixture into the casserole. Bake at 400 degrees (F) covered for 45 minutes. Remove cover, stir, and cook 15 minutes more.

As mentioned, I opted for celery soup instead of mushroom soup and fresh celery. On this attempt, I also used 10 minute rice instead of regular uncooked rice - mostly because I had a bag laying around left over from a box dinner. I hoped that it would make it cook faster, seeing that it was par-cooked rice, but it did not. It only shaved about 5-10 minutes off of the hour bake time. The original recipe also only called for 1 cup of rice, but I used about 1 1/4 (which was what was in the baggie), and honestly felt, when all was said and done, that it could have used a little more. It was nice and creamy.

When it was done, it was absolutely delicious. To me, it tasted just a little salty. But then, I rarely cook with salt or eat salt, so I just notice it more. It is possible that it was because of the celery (celery seasoned things usually come across as a little salty to me). Or, it could have been that it was a seasoning in the sausage. Or even that the sausage was pork, and I am used to poultry. But I think, to solve the issue, next time I will make it with reduced sodium soups. And there will definitely be a next time.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A new year

That's right. Its already 2013. I can't believe a year has passed. Life has been crazy. But now it is time to focus on the new year, which means a new start. New products to try. New crafts to make. New experiences to be had. I look forward to it.

The top of my to-do list for the immediate future is a lengthy post about my recent experiences with Nook e-readers and Barnes and Noble customer support. I know, this is more of a "books" topic, but it will be cross posted on both blogs, as well as in other place, because I think it is important that EVERYONE see what I have to say.

I want to share some new recipes that I have encountered, but I have misplaced my camera cable, so they will not be as photo heavy as I would like. I also have a few products to review - some cosmetics and the like. I got this awesome app that gives a heads up on freebies and deals, so I will try to explore that more and see what I can find everyone. Hopefully, in between reading and cooking, I will find time to get some sewing done. Though I may wait until the embroidery machine has been repaired.

What about after that? Well, to be honest, I haven't planned a lot. What would you like to see? 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cuisinart Sale Alert!


There is a really good Cuisinart sale right now over at One Kings Lane, so be sure to check it out! And hey, if you are out of people to shop for, I need a new coffee maker. ;) But seriously, the sale ends some time Friday - or whenever they sell out (which they often do) - so check it out soon.



One Kings Lane offers $15 off $30 purchase when you join thru THIS LINK.




Actually, I have been following sales on One Kings Lane for a while now. They offer closeouts of designer brand housewares and furnishings at a percentage of the original cost. They also have a clearance section with some really great steals, though it is on hiatus for the holiday shopping season and has been replaced with the Gifts sales:


If you are looking for a classy gift for someone, the section of gifts under $50 has some really pretty serving ware and candles for a good price. This sale also ends some time Friday, and shipping is guaranteed by Christmas.

Holiday Shopping, part deux

I know, I have already covered holiday shopping this month. However, there is a lot of shopping to be done, so I am searching around, and I want to give a shout out to the ones that I think are worthy of it. So, on that note - Holiday Shopping, part two:

Are you one of those shoppers who likes to do your research on items before you buy them? You know, to make sure that they really are child-safe and friendly, or to guarantee that what you are buying is the exact one you need. If so, then you may dig this site. At Become.com you can research the items you are shopping for while you shop, from the same page. They also give you a listing of several retailers who have the item in stock so that you can compare prices.

Say you were planning to use your holiday bonus to redecorate your house. You could go to Become and search for bathroom base cabinets and they would give you a list of several different options. You pick the one you are interested in and you can pull up details on it, as well as see other similar products that may be a better deal. Maybe you are not looking for something for the bathroom specifically. What if you want to use that money to add to your current decorating theme? That is easy as well. For example, you could search their bombay furniture outlet for items that match your Bombay style sofa.

Now, you can find way more than house decorating items at Become. I was just using that as an example. With all the cleaning and reorganizing I have been doing the last two weeks, redecorating the house has been on my mind quite a bit. I also discovered that I need about 5 more bookshelves! But I digress. On Become, you can find everything from automotive parts to video games.

You could even order thank you cards in bulk, so that you can show your gratitude to all the people who gave you awesome presents - or that holiday bonus. Haha.The important thing is that, whatever you may be looking to buy, Become wants to help you by providing you the chance to go "Shopping Your Way".

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What to look forward to this month

December is upon us. This time of year is always busy for people, with all the parties, family gatherings, and last minute shopping. I don't buy into too much of the holiday hype, but this is still my favorite time of year. I absolutely love the cooler weather, and being in Texas, it is rare. So between Halloween and the Winter Solstice, I thrive. The cold may last until about Valentines, but by then the charm is often overshadowed by the idiots who do not know how to drive safely in winter conditions. I still enjoy it, but it gets worn out a little.

I have a very busy schedule this month. On top of the several books I am reading to review and another giveaway over at the Tome, I have a holiday gathering coming up on the 17th that I must prepare the house for. At the gathering, I will be doing some sampling of Kroger's Private Selection line of frozen pizzas, appetizers, and desserts, as well as some Smirnoff mixed drinks - so watch out for those reviews in the week following.

I will also post up some of my favorite holiday recipes that I plan to be serving this month. I really feel in my element when I am cooking, and I plan to do a lot of that this month to share. I hope to get to try out a new stuffing recipe I found, as well as post a few of my favorite breads and dinners. And since I finally found my good camera, the photos will be much more clear than the last ones.

There is a winter Lolita fashion meet on the 18th, so if I find time to sew, I will be making a new dress for that as well, and will share photos of the progress and when it is finished. I had a lot of crafting to do this month, between that and my etsy store, but everyone in the house getting sick put a major dampener on my work. Hopefully I will get new items up for the store in time for holiday shopping. If not, I will still post them here to look at. :)

On a completely non-holiday related note, I did get in this one product to try that may interest some of you. It is an alleged "fat melting" cream made with herbs. I do not know how it will work, but since I have tried just about everything else on the leftover baby paunch, I figured I may as well give it a shot. Starting today, I will use the product as directed every day for thirty days (or until it runs out, whichever comes first) and will report on it's effectiveness. I will be taking pictures and measurements at set intervals and will let you all know how it works.

That is my major plans as far as I know. There may be other assorted reviews here and there. If you are interested in doing a guest post on my blog, this would be the month to start! With all the cooking, cleaning, and sewing, there will be a lot of non-computer time for me. Let the fun begin!