Saturday, July 23, 2016

Twice In This Lifetime


Timeline of Events:

July 21, 1987:  Guns N' Roses Appetite for Destruction album comes out.
July 27, 1987:  I come out of the womb 10 days early, presumably rocking a baby top hat, baby aviators, baby devil horns, and a baby cigarette.
~ Nothing significant happens for a while. ~
July 19 & 20, 2016:  I see Guns N' Roses in concert TWO DAYS IN A ROW, making them officially the best two days of my life.

If I wanted to further annotate this timeline, I would add the parts where I realized Guns N' Roses existed, realized they were amazing, realized they broke up, and realized they would probably remain on my Sad Concert "Fuck-it" List forever (along with David Bowie and Prince).

THEN I would add bullet points for all the various whispers over the years from The Internet about Axl and Slash reconciling their differences, and all the many speculative messages I sent to tolerant yet disinterested friends gushing about this.  And finally, I would draw hearts and flowers around GNR's announcement to perform again together at Coachella, and all of the hints at a stadium reunion tour, leading me to sign up for an update as soon as tour dates were released.  Sooner or later, the stadium tour was announced, and my wildest music fantasies had been realized!!!

TL;DR:  VERY long story short, as you all know, they got the band back together and are currently on a huge stadium tour, aptly titled Not In This Lifetime.

Because of my fangirling out all over the emailing list, I was able to score pre-order tickets to see them at the New England Patriots' Gillette Stadium, the same place I had seen Bon Jovi exactly 3 years before.  Then I spent 4 months GETTING HYPE for this concert, which I knew would be an experience to remember.

I will be honest:  I kept my expectations really open (read: very low) for this.  I knew I was going to pay a ton of money for nosebleed seats for a concert that wasn't even guaranteed to be good.  I had heard so many stories over the years of them being questionable in concert, especially Axl Rose in more recent years.  I was well-prepared for him to show up late, play a short set, sound terrible, or all of the above.


Image result for sexy axl rose

Also, I had to reconcile with the fact that he was no longer going to look like this.

I did however have very high expectations for Slash, who has perennially been amazing forever.  For someone whose spoken voice I have literally never heard, he is such a hero of mine!  He even played a lot of songs with Michael Jackson, which is probably more of why I heart him so goddamned much.  Slash is the best and most badass guitarist that has ever lived, and I'm willing to fight you over that.


Image result for Slash looking badass

Timeless AF.

Now that I have given an adequate background of just how crazy excited I was for my rock n' roll dreams to come true, let me review the concert!!!

I will spare description of my travels to and from Gillette, because anyone who has ever gone there can attest to that madness.  As soon as my friend Sarah and I got upstairs to our nosebleed seat section, a staff member approached us and told us he was going to upgrade us to floor seats on the field - FOR FREE!  He said it was because we "looked like nice girls".  Well, Sarah has purple hair and I had on a shirt cut halfway down to my bellybutton.  More accurately, we looked like we were lookin' for a "bad" time, and that is just what we got!

After pounding a beer because Axl requested no bottles on the field, we got down to our 50-yard-line-ish seats as the opening act, Lenny Kravitz, was starting up.  I have never really been a big fan of his, but I will say that he sounds and looks fabulous live!  His band is really good too.  I still probably won't seek his music out, just because it isn't my type, but I definitely appreciated their great performance.  

Once their hour long set ended, it was time for shit to get real.  We had some downtime for a bit, and then the GNR logo appeared on the screens.  Eventually the guns in the logo started firing, and everyone got really excited!!  A few minutes later the band took the stage to "It's So Easy", then launched into "Mr. Brownstone".

I have to say I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY by their performance!  Not only did they come on earlier than scheduled, but they played a three hour set!  They played almost every song you could want to hear, many songs that I now have a new appreciation for, and several covers that were just incredible.  I was happy to stand for three hours down in the field, craning my neck to see a glimpse of them on the actual stage!  There was so much energy out there.

Axl sounded almost like he did 25 years ago, and ran around the stage like always.  Slash was of course fucking face-meltingly amazing.  Duff McKagan was still just as awesome, and the guys who replaced Izzy Stradlin and Steven Adler were incredible!  They also have a couple keyboardist/back-up vocalists who were fab as well.  They had all kinds of special effects including gunshot sounds and fire bursts.  During the closer, "Paradise City" of course, they had a giant confetti blowout and fireworks display over the stadium.

Axl had a couple "costume changes", during which the others conducted several jam sessions.  These included Slash's famous rendition of the "Godfather" theme, Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here", Rolling Stone's "Angie", and the instrumental part of "Layla", in which Axl joined in with piano before launching into "November Rain".  As a full band, they also did "The Seeker" by The Who during the encore.

They also played a few songs from Chinese Democracy.  The album gets a lot of shit, but if you add Slash and Duff back into the equation, you realize these songs are actually pretty amazing, and that people hate Chinese Democracy just because they want to.

In addition to sounding perfectly on point with every song and solo, Slash pulled out all the stops with impressive guitar skills!  He played many different guitars, including a double guitar.  He played slide guitar, and also did the talk box!

The only song I missed was "Don't Cry", which I read had been alternated with "Patience" in the encore.  I love both, but I couldn't choose a favorite between them!  I was pretty disappointed to miss "Don't Cry", but that all changed the next day when my friend Nicole called me up and asked if I wanted to see the show again FOR FREE IN THE SKY BOX SEATS!!!

So yeah, that happened.  Free food and drinks in the front row of the sky box at Gillette Stadium watching Guns N' FuckN' Roses!  I felt like Cinderella!  It was a different experience being up there, but I had a much better vantage point to watch the band with an unimpeded view.  Of course, the second performance was just as good, if not better, than the first.  And most importantly, I got to see "Don't Cry" live, when I otherwise wouldn't have been able. :)  Thanks Nicole!

I admit I got a little choked up during "November Rain" on the second night, because I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to have been able to see Guns not once, but TWICE, on this incredible reunion tour!  If you live anywhere remotely close to a show on this tour, I would strongly suggest checking it out.  You will not be disappointed!!  I leave you with some videos that were posted by people with much better phones/cameras and vantage points than I!





Bonus Round:  This one is technically from another show last week, because I couldn't find anything decent from Gillette.  This song, "Estranged", is a song I had heard a few times, but didn't appreciate it until I heard it live.  Now I can't get enough.  Quite an underrated power ballad!





Thursday, July 14, 2016

GET HYPE



Fucking confirmed.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Life Updates & Roasted Red Pepper Soup



So I moved recently, into what I believe is most likely the best apartment in Providence!  Not only am I in a great neighborhood, but I live above a business and have no neighbors at all when they are closed!  I have great views of the city, and I am less than 2 miles from everywhere else in Providence, and less than 1 mile from downtown!  So many exclamation points!


Disclaimer:  not an actual view from my apartment.


I had 33 days of overlapped rent, which was heaven on my physical moving anguish, but hell on my wallet.  I was able to move everything over time without stressing too much, but 33 days of overlapped rent in this kind of area isn't easy!  Without going into too much detail, it may have been hard, but I consider this new place to be an "investment" in my future prosperity.

The hardest part was moving over my food.  I am keeping with the family tradition and becoming a food hoarder.  And my job sublimates this.  I receive so many food samples from work, that I can almost rationalize not being paid as well as I think I should be.

When I moved, I had the following in my cabinets (for the sake of this list, "unique" means a different brand or natural source for the item):

- 40+ cannisters of herbs & spices
- 22 bottles of unique oil and vinegar
- 16 bars of dark chocolate
- 13-15 containers of pasta or grains
- 10 containers of coffee and tea
- 9 identical jars of organic roasted red peppers
- 5-6 jars of other Italian specialty items (artichokes, olives, peppers)
- 4 bags of unique sugar
- 3 unique honey containers
- PLUS everything else a normal person has

Lucky for me, at least some of those were expired, which meant I could rationalize throwing them out while still at the old place.  Even so, I still had trouble shoving everything into the cabinets here.

Why am I telling you all this?  Well, for the purposes of saving my wallet AND my cabinets for a while, I have given myself the task of actually cooking with what I have on hand! (Barring regular staple replenishment, of course - mama needs cream in her coffee!)  Also, I can transform this into more blog updates - everyone wins!

As always though, planning is my worst skill.  I could have all the food in the world, but without a plan, I am useless.  My friend turned me on to Super Cook, which is a site or app where you can inventory your entire kitchen, and it pulls recipes from the web to tell you what you can make!  You can even filter by specific ingredients in order to use up specific things!  I wish I had invented this site!

So, that is where I found and modified this recipe for Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup.  The original recipe is in the link, but since I already had roasted peppers, I changed it up a bit and modified it to what I had on hand:




INGREDIENTS

2 T. butter
3/4 cup of frozen chopped onion
2 Jars (12 oz) roasted red & yellow peppers, drained
2 T. chicken bouillon
2 cups of water
A lot of salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 T. lemon juice
3/4 cup half-and-half



 I totally forgot to include the precious BUTTER!


DIRECTIONS

1.  Melt butter or margarine.
2.  Add onions and sauté till soft, but not brown.
3.  Add peppers, bouillon, water, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
4.  Simmer 20-30 minutes uncovered.
5.  Remove from heat, then process with some kind of blender (I use immersion-style) so that the soup is a little chunky but not puréed.
6.  Before serving, add half-and-half and heat through.


 The finished product with some dried thyme on top to make it look more appetizing, I hope.


Here it is a few days later with an organic popcorn garnish.


Really delicious!  I will definitely be making it again to use up the rest of these jars!!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Adventures in Lazy Cooking

Here's a post that may feel relevant to many of you: an experimental foray into cooking, inspired by laziness!

So last Sunday, I was feeling particularly not lazy, and cooked up a pot of dried black beans in the slow cooker. My recipe for that is a botched version of this refried beans recipe, from one of my new favorite blogs! It is worth a read if you're looking for inspiration to start cutting out processed food from your diet.

All week long, I ate and ate and ate some more, and even after an infinite amount of black bean tacos, I still had what felt like a full pot left over to deal with!

Flash-forward to today, when I decide I want to make some slow-cooked pork with a real large but questionable discount pork loin purchase I made.  Seriously, I got like 6 of them for only $2.50!



Me on the morning commute tomorrow, probably.


So I'm at the point where I can no longer justify being lazy and avoid transferring the black beans to smaller containers (because yes, I put the whole slow cooker pot in the fridge, don't judge).  What ever is a lazy person to do?

Finally the lightbulb goes off, and I decide, "Hey!  Why don't I just pile the porkies on top of the black beans and make a nice stew!  And that is what I did, and it is awesome.  I added a few extra spices and cooked on high for 6 hours (to cook out the discount parasites, of course).

Here is the finished product:


Not too shabby!


Lazy Chef's Pork & Black Bean Stew:

1-2 pounds of boneless pork loin or chops
2 cans or 1 cup of cooked black beans
1 jalapeno
2 T. minced onion OR 1 chopped onion
2 bay leaves
2 cups of broth (I used 1 tsp. of Better Than Bouillon Chicken & 2 cups water)
A bunch of garlic powder, salt, & pepper
A smattering of rosemary & thyme

Cook on high for six hours!

I decided to get fancy, and garnished with plain yogurt, avocado, & chili powder.



My attempt at presentation.


It is definitely tasty!  Hopefully I can get through this pot within the next week, otherwise we might be seeing a whole new Adventure in Lazy Cooking!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Day 3: End of the Road!

Check out Day Zero of the Juice Cleanse here!

It is the last day!!!

I'm not going to lie to you, dear readers..... I totally cheated.  As soon as I hit "Publish" on the last entry, I brewed a pot of coffee and drank it all.

Here's my logic:  I'm doing this for myself, and if I'm not going to advocate for myself (and the poor folks around me), and listen to my drug-dependent body, then who is?  I have decided I can survive on any crazy diet, as long as my good pal coffee is beside me.

For the rest of the day, I stuck to the cleanse and felt fabulous!  I even was able to hold off on dinner until a little later, so I wasn't freaking out at the end of the day.  I even managed to be proactive and craft today's juice last night so I could just put it in my work bag today.  Caffeine: it works, people.  Actually, it probably has worked even better on this cleanse, because it hasn't had to fight with the other carbs and calories for my attention!

So let's end this with a bang:  Day 3 - Liver & Kidney Flush!!!


My Ingredients:
6 apples
1 beet + roots
1 bunch celery
1 handful of failure spinach
1 cucumber
1 lemon
2 tomatoes
15 carrots



My finished product!  It looks exactly the same as yesterdays, except not as pretty.  Sorry, folks.


So, I did that all day, and came home and had my chicken + broccoli + spinach dinner.  Again.  Tomorrow, I don't have to do anything, but I'm PLANNING for this to roll into some more responsible eating at home and at work.  I've got a lot of leftover veggies and fruits for one thing.  I also have some lunches at the ready.

Here are my takeaways:

1.  Using a juicer is pretty fun, and even though the prep and clean-up can take some time, if you've got a system down (and employ some life hacks), it can be a fun and exciting experience for the food nerd!

2.  I definitely felt like I was wasting a lot of food.  If you think about the fact that I've taken all these beautiful ingredient pictures and reduced them to about 40 ounces of juice, I start to feel like a wasteful monster.

3.  The juices were delicious, and definitely tasted fresher and healthier than any commercial juice!  I usually don't drink store-bought juice because they are always too sweet and jam-packed with added sugar.  I may be a freak though, because I still diluted these juices for being too sweet, even though they were just the naked ingredients.

4.  Although juicing itself is cool, and I will employ the machine in the future, I don't think I could do any type of juice cleanse or fast again.  I need to chew food!  I need to eat!  Liquids aren't food.

5.  This actually wasn't as expensive as I expected, especially considering all I have left over.  I spent about $38 through Peapod to get the fruits and veggies (and chamomile tea!) for this.  It may seem like a lot, but when you consider the fact that I still have two crisper drawers and then some full of extra produce which I can use for other purposes, and weigh that against what you might pay for food (and the extra!) on an average 3-day weekend, it isn't insane.  Again though, I felt like I wasted a lot, but there are many things I could have done with the pulp and chose not to!


Final Thoughts:  Do I feel cleansed and flushed from yesterday's Colon Cleanse and today's Liver & Kidney Flush?  I'd say this video accurately describes how today has gone: