Lori Culwell's Blog, page 2

December 11, 2014

November 13, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 5.11.30 PMWell well well, is it mid-November already?   I feel like it was just October, and we were just watching the Shining in the dark with all the lights out so we didn't have to give out any candy, all Scrooge-like.  Actually, we just do that for effect.  We never get any trick-or-treaters anymore.  Is trick-or-treating even still a thing?   Here's that Halloween Candy post everyone seems to like, just in case you haven't read it.   That was from back when we actually DID give out candy.

Now, though, we don't eat as much candy anymore, but we did have quite an amusing conversation about it.  

Here it is, memorialized in post form.   We started out posing the simple question "What IS the best candy bar in the world?"  

Stephan will begin:

SC:  OK, excluding snooty specialty chocolate (though Lula’s salted caramels—Come. on.), or even imported ones (Lion Bars are the bomb, but any that you get stateside are ALWAYS stale).

Undisputed number one, for a million years running: Snickers. It has everything you want, it has everything you need, it appeals to pretty much everyone (except for people with peanut allergies, who, sadly, probably can’t eat any candy bars anyway, and MY GOD IT MUST SUCK SO BAD). Plus it has been around since we were kids, so it turns out, you can go home again, at least in terms of candy bars.

Lori and I disagree slightly from here on out. Here’s my list:

Kit Kat. I love this candy bar, mostly because it’s crunch and chocolatey, but also because I can trick myself into thinking I’m being good by only eating three of the bars. I’m easily fooled.

Nestle Crunch. A sentimental favorite. There’s nothing particularly special about it, but it just works. Rice krispies in chocolate. If you don’t like that, I’m afraid we can’t be friends.

This is when I chime in:

LC:  Hey, what about Butterfinger?   Are you mental?  That clearly belongs as # 2.   In fact, every one of my favorite candy bars (aside from Snickers, on that we agree) contains peanut butter in some form, because peanut butter is the world’s most wonderful food.

Fun fact:  I was one of those SUPER picky eater kids, and I survived by eating one peanut butter on wheat bread sandwich for lunch every day until I was 18 years old.   Let me substantiate this claim by telling you that I have still not tried certain foods like Brussels Sprouts, and I only dared to try an artichoke when I was in my 30s.   Yes, it was that crazy.   For this reason, all of my favorite candy bars include peanut butter.  Sorry, that’s just how it is.

My # 2 choice goes to Butterfinger.   What, exactly, are those pieces of peanut-buttery flake things made of?  You know what?  Don’t even tell me.   Butterfingers are so good, I would eat a whole bag of those little Halloween ones if I allowed them into the house, which I do not, for this very reason.

My # 3 choice goes to Whatchamacallit.  DELICIOUS, and probably the most underrated and underreported of the candies.   The perfect blend of chocolate, peanut butter (note the theme) and crispy things.    I feel like the Nestle Crunch and the (obvious knock-off) Krackel bar are just Whatchamacallits without the peanut butter, and that is just wrong.

# 4—Continuing with the “peanut butter is vital to everything” concept, I will select the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup as my # 4 fave.  The only problem with the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is that they are just over too fast.  Why do I feel like a Butterfinger lasts longer?  Is it because you’re still picking those peanut butter flakes out of your teeth for half an hour after you eat one?   Also:  Reese’s is really good as a fro-yo topping. 

SC: Yes, I went mental for a moment. Butterfinger. How on earth did I leave that one out? It’s such a strong second position (notice I didn’t say “number two”?) that I could occasionally swap it out with the top position, depending on how high I am. Good call.

I’m with you on the peanut butter thing, and I reiterate—I feel so damn bad for people with peanut allergies. It is my dear hope that each of them get reincarnated in the next life as someone who gets to eat all the sweet, peanut-and-chocolatey goodness that this plane of existence can provide.

LC:  hey, you know what’s gross?  Straight peanuts in chocolate.  Like Mr. Goodbars, or Babe Ruths.    I just don’t like that “crunch” feeling in my candy bar.  Except for Snickers, the Greatest Candy Bar on Earth, which is exempt from any and all rules and criticisms.   I also object to other crunchy nuts in chocolate, like almonds and hazelnuts, because just….how dare you?

SC: Disagree, but not strongly enough to get into some shit about it. I liked me a Mr. Goodbar when I was a kid, although, does anyone else remember the Hershey’s pack of minis from Halloween? If I recall, they contained, in miniature form: Hershey bars (plain, but the old reliable workhorse of the chocolate world, right?), Hershey bars with almonds (I liked them, but wouldn’t fight about it), Mr. Goodbar (mentioned above: pretty darn good), and then there was Krackel (agreed, their unabashed ripoff of a Nestle Crunch Bar), and Special Dark, which, when you’re a kid, if someone gave you one of those, it’s like they were mad at you. But the thing I found that was most curious about the last two is that I never, ever saw them in the full bar size. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think they were embarrassed about their almost libelous ripoff of the Crunch Bar and just plain ashamed of the Special Dark to make full sized versions.

I, too, love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, so much that I might have to again revise and put them in my #3 position. But: I actually like the crunchy peanut butter version. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you a) either don’t remember that, or b) if you did, you will vehemently dispute me on this point.

LC:   I do remember the crunchy version.  Again, as the World’s Pickiest Eater, I did not appreciate the variety offered by the actual whole peanuts in the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that I liked so much.  Of course, once I was 35, I tried crunchy peanut butter for the first time, and now I like that even better than regular, so it’s possible that, were I re-introduced to crunchy version today, I would like that one better too.

Side note:  didn’t your parents always end up eating the Special Dark bars?   I sometimes think that parenthood is all tiredness and leftover candy, which might explain why I am not a parent.  It does give me a new appreciation for my mom, though.  She would totally eat those Special Darks for me, though now that I am recalling it, she ALSO was a fan of the Snickers, and would sometimes mock-wrestle me for those.  

SC: Although I’m sure she’d let you win. Because sacrificing for their children is what parents do. It’s funny—I’m now a much bigger dark chocolate fan now than I was when I was a kid. When I was a kid, dark chocolate was, like, some twisted bastard’s idea of what chocolate should be. I imagined some inventor in a lab somewhere declaring, “I know what kids like! Chocolate! Only without the sugar! And really fucking bitter!” I think something happens to our palates when we get older—I know mine has changed to crave way more bitter flavors. That being said, if we had kids, I’d steal the shit out of those Snickers bars on Halloween. Given everything that I see our friends who have kids do for their kids, I think fair is fair.

Have we come full circle?

LC: I actually trained myself to like Dark Chocolate because I read in a women’s magazine that eating several pieces of dark chocolate after a meal would help you not eat dessert.  Isn’t that SO anorexi-girl of me?    I mean, when you get old, you have to count every fucking calorie, so I guess it’s good that I started that a few years ago.   Now I can have exactly three pieces of that Dove Dark Chocolate before I have to sentence myself to extra treadmill time the next day.  Snickers?  Special occasion only, baby. 

SC: Yep. The tragic truth: We can’t even write a piece IMAGINING listing our favorite candy bars without adding a disclaimer about how we actually can’t eat them. These are your 40s, kids. Savor your youth. And your Snickers bars. 

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October 22, 2014

So, two new things for today!   For one, I wrote an article encouraging you to get yourself a website so you don't miss your "big moment" when it arrives.  You can find that right here

Logo-big1If you read that article, you might notice that I mention a course on websites, so I am going to go ahead and make an announcement about that now as well.  You guys!  MY FIRST COURSE HAS LAUNCHED!    I am super excited about it.  It's called "How to Make a Website," and I can honestly say I put a ton of work into it (like, most of this year), and if you have a website or need a website, I think this is the best $37 you are going to spend this year.   I will say, learning all of the different things necessary to make this course was much more time-consuming than writing a book, and if you've written a book, you know that's really saying something.   

Actually, this is the first of a series of courses I am launching, because I found that once I started making the content (in the form of video lessons), it was WAY more than would fit into one course/ topic.  So, "How to Make a Website" is the first one, and it has launched.  Yay!   What a relief!   

Of course, I must thank super-husband Stephan Cox, who was my non-stop cheerleader as well as my voiceover coach, video editor, graphic designer, etc. etc. etc.    


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September 26, 2014

2014-09-26 10.40.26Well well well….here I am again!  I’ve been working on a BIG BIG project all summer (announcement to come soon!), and part of the time at least, I’ve been doing it on a treadmill desk that I finally got around to putting together.   Because several people noticed my dramatically increased step-count on Fitbit.com and Twitter (I use the Fitbit pedometer to track my steps) and asked me what was going on and why I was walking 10 + miles per day now, I thought I would just give you a little breakdown of the desk with a photo.  I really love it, and it was not complicated at all to set up. 

The Treadmill:  The first component in the treadmill desk is, of course, the treadmill.  I use this Confidence Power Plus treadmill, which is super inexpensive and foldable.    I got mine from Amazon for $199 (not a typo) and because I have Prime, it was delivered for free in two days.  Winning!

The Desk:  I used the IKEA “Fredrik” desk, which unfortunately they have stopped making.   I got mine on Craig’s List for $60, then modified it to only have one shelf.  Side note:  if you are going to buy something from Craig’s List, take a friend, because MURDER.   It also works great as a standing desk (I’ve been using it that way as well).   If you are crafty, I bet you could just build a similar one by looking at the photo or Googling "IKEA Fredrik Desk" and downloading the pdf of the plans/ directions from IKEA.  I'm just saying.

The Setup:  Here's where I give props out to Super Husband Stephan Cox, who took time out of his day to put the initial desk together, then worked with me to position it correctly.  The only thing that took some finessing was actually getting the desk to fit over the treadmill, which we achieved by putting shelves underneath the base.   I read an article where the guy actually took disassembled part of the treadmill in order to get the controller loose, but I didn’t think this was going to have a successful outcome if I did it, so I solved this problem by bending the controller all the way forward, then setting up the top part of the desk on top of it.  Yes, this does mean I have to start the treadmill by bending under the desk, and yes, this does mean that I can’t actually control the speed while I'm on it, but this has not been a problem at all (I just hop off if I want to adjust or stop it). 

One of the things I like most about this treadmill desk is that it was $160 to put together, and the final look is not dissimilar to this fancy-schmancy model on Amazon, which is $1500 (also not a typo):

The Speed:  This one took some trial and error.   Because I am a nerd, I did all this research on how fast the treadmill should be going in order to actually get work done (including this New York Times article).  I’ve found that I can keep it going at 1 mph (no, it’s not that fast) for regular writing and emailing (i.e., things that require thinking), 2 mph for things like Facebook, Twitter, and phonecalls in general, and that I need to stop and sit down for actual analytical thought/ creative problem solving.   This speed is going to totally vary for you, so you will need to try it out.  Also, yes, I did get a headache the first week, trying to teach my brain to multitask in this way.

Feel free to ask questions about this, which I will update within the post.   If you have a home office, I highly suggest setting this up!   


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