Crock Pot Baked Potato Soup

My favorite meals are pretty much easy meals that don’t require a lot of fuss and if they cook themselves in the crock, all the more better.  Enter Pinterest.  Many recipes of good, far more of bad and a few of spam (not the canned kind).  I saw this recipe for Baked Potato Soup that looked too stupid easy to be good.  Of course this means that I have to try it and see if it’s decent or gag worthy.  I’ve had a run of fails for recipes lately on Pinterest, so much that I’m about to make a Recipe Fail board to complement my Recipe Successes but this one turned out OK with some modifications I did after reading the comments to see if I should even bother teasing myself with the smell all day before the epic disappointment of a bad meal (I’m looking at you Angel Chicken).

Crock Pot Baked Potato Soup

(Pardon the hipster Instagram shot, I didn’t think it’d be that good so only took a quick shot with the iPhone)

This is what I did:

1 bag of hash browns, frozen (I got Ore Ida shredded)
45 oz of chicken stock
1 can cream of chicken
8 oz Velveeta
dash garlic powder
dash kicked up salt concoction
couple dashes of pepper

1.  Toss the hash browns, chicken stock, cream of chicken and seasonings into a crock pot.  Turn crock on low and stir when the mood strikes you.
2.  Put in Velveeta supposedly an hour before serving.  I think I was around two hours or so because hubs was late from work. Best laid plans…
3.  Before eating, puree with immersion blender.
4.  Garnish and eat.

What I changed from original recipe and why:

•  After reading the reviews a lot of people said it was bland so I opted for the stock instead of the broth because I think that would bring a bit more flavor in.  I think it did.  I would keep this as is in the future.
•  I used the Velveeta because cheddar cream fakery beats bland creamy stuff every day.  I like cheese flavor and figured velveeta would do the cream PLUS cheese.  I had a long obsession with this cheesy baked potato soup we had when I worked at Friendly’s and I was hoping for a result close to that.  With only 8 oz it wasn’t but with the added cheddar garnish it was darn close.
•  Added garlic for the bland issues and essentially everything I make needs garlic according to the hubs.
•  I did not care for the looks and lumps of my first small bowl of the soup.  Too much flavor at once so I got out my immersion blender and pureed the soup until there were no lumps left and it made a WORLD of difference with the flavor.  You couldn’t pick out the individual flavors anymore and it was really spot on to the Baked Potato soups I’ve had in restaurants.

What I’d do in the future:

•  More Velveeta to give it more cheese flavor.  Maybe.  I liked where it was but I added cheese to it.  May leave how it is and just add shredded cheese. Hubs liked as is so there is that.  We’ll see how it is tomorrow for lunch for final decision because w all know stuff like this always tastes better the next day.  Unless it’s just bad from the get go.
•  Add bacon in from the beginning instead of a garnish, even just a bit I think would have given a good kick to the flavor.
•  Possibly sub out the cream of chicken for a different cream of soup.  Potato maybe?  Not sure but thankfully after puree-ing you couldn’t taste it anymore but was a bit noticeable without pureed goodness.
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On Bullying

Wow.  It has been an intense past couple days.  My mind is still spinning a bit over it and probably will for some time.

I have to say a hearty thank you to all of those that have commented, messaged, emailed etc. giving me your support, e-hugs and advice.  At first I was a bit terrified of what the hell was going on but you all made it bearable.  If I end up with a few new friends out of this it may have *almost* have been worth it.  If nothing else, it’s the definite silver lining in all of this.  So again, thank you.

However, the negatives… oh what is positive without a negative to balance life out.  The biggest detractors, Emily included, have said (multiple times) that if I didn’t enjoy this drama, I would have just deleted my review and moved on.  I would have never made a blog post and I certainly wouldn’t still be talking about it.  The horse doth hath been beatenth.  Or something like that 😉  I know that I will not turn a single one of you onto my side so to speak but this is my blog and I can write what I want and if I want to defend myself to these claims, so be it.

As a child, I was sexually molested by my older brother.  Yeah yeah, that’s beyond bullying I know but hear me out.  I was 5 years old and in Kindergarten and my brothers friends watched.  They went home and told their parents and the entire small town I was from knew about it.  At that age the smallest thing is embarrassing such as forgetting your socks on “Sock Day” at school (yep, I still cringe when I remember this) so imagine this kind of a story getting out and it being all over town.  I was humiliated but furthermore, I was teased.  I was teased so bad I went home crying almost every day from school.  Kids can be so damn cruel sometimes.  The bullies had found a ripe story and ran with it and I was blamed for what happened to me and even told I deserved it.  Sound familiar?  We ended up moving across the town, I changed schools and thankfully the furor died down.

Fast forward a few years to 7th grade.  Our schools merged and the kids that I had left behind remembered me – and my past.  It all came back with a vengence at a time that I was pretty fragile.  My Mom was dying from emphysema and I spent most of my spare time taking care of her.  My brother was in the Navy and was still a bone of contention between our parents.  My Mom sided with my brother in the “incident” as we called it, my Dad with me.  It was to the point my parents were about to divorce but my Mom’s illness was too bad for my Dad to just leaver her, especially without insurance.  So, life sucked at the time.  Then all of that shit came back up and the bullies, now more experienced and cruel at 13, were beyond awful.  I never stood up to them, instead I used all the strength I had just to get through the day to get home and take care of Mom.  I can’t begin to tell you though how hard those years were and how much anxiety I still feel looking back at 7th grade.

Over the summer of my 7th grade year, my brother, who if you recall was in the Navy – AND gay, died.  The official story we got was that he committed suicide after being outed as gay by his fellow military “brothers” and he was bullied so badly he killed himself.  There is a lot of grey area however and to this day I still can’t say for certain if he was murdered by a bunch of assholes or if he really did kill himself because of the assholes but the cause of either scenario is that he died as an end result of being bullied.  No matter what he did to me in the past (and trust me, we didn’t get along remotely after the incident) he was still my brother and what happened to him was shameful.  You may read that and think “wow” or hell, I’ve even had people ask how I’m still sane after all of that.  Instead, the kids I went to school with thought this was a great thing to leap on and again, I endured more bullying teasing me that my brother committed suicide and asked if I made him do it.  Again, kids are cruel.  Again, I just endured it, not having the strength to battle back.  They did finally stop though when my Mom died that Christmas Day.  Thank GOD.  I guess my life had reached such a sad point that even the bullies didn’t quite know how to turn that one around.

This brings me to now… can you understand why now that I’m “grown up” I don’t tolerate bullies and refuse to let them make me cower?  See why I would stand up for someone that is being bullied?  I sure as hell didn’t want this drama on my doorstep but I also wasn’t going to stand by and not let my voice be heard regarding what happened.

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Authors Behaving Badly: How I Pissed Off Legions of Emily Giffin Fans

I am a reader.  I read a LOT.  I read so much that I am in Amazon Vine and I’ve often passed up pretty awesome gadgets and gizmos so that I could get a copy of a favorite authors new book.  One of those such books was Where We Belong by Emily Giffin.  I read this while on vacation and enjoyed the read but didn’t love it.  For me, the works since Something Borrowed/Something Blue have not reached the bar set by those works (especially Something Blue) however I did appreciate that this novel did not glorify cheating, which the majority of her other works do.  I handed the book off to friends to read during the trip and we all agreed that it was a decent beach-esque read.  I now regret urging others to read this novel.

Around the time of the launch of the book, Emily had started posting and tweeting people urging them to buy her book to make her number one.  The first post kind of annoyed me because it made the fans seem like they were not good enough if she couldn’t reach #1, then her follow up post when finding out she was in fact #2 was equally as awful.  She had another post or two lamenting about it on her Facebook and on her Twitter and it frankly annoyed me to the point of commenting to friends that it was pretty diva like behavior and that there seemed to be an epidemic of crying over being second place (the Olympics were taking place at the same time).  It really turned me off and I was already starting to be sorry I had reviewed her book for Amazon and possibly helped even one person decide to purchase this novel.

 

 

 

This week, I noticed in my feed a link pop up to her Facebook talking about her husband being in a comment war against a reviewer on Amazon and how it wasn’t a 5 star review.  I don’t know why, but the whole idea of authors or people acting on their behalf (and I consider a spouse to also represent the author) and attacking reviewers make me ill.  Perhaps it’s because I am a part of Amazon Vine (have been since 2007) but I take reviews seriously.  I’ve thankfully (up until now!) never had to deal with an author attack due to my less than perfect review but I’ve been reading more and more cases of this happening online.  I rolled my eyes and shook my head and continued on with my work.  Then a following post appeared talking about how her husband was still at it, as if the first post didn’t get enough attention.  At this point I decided to head over to see what the heck kind of review could start this kind of nonsense.

Well… that doesn’t seem bad at all, certainly not attacking the author, tearing the book apart or even remotely spiteful.  Not at all what I was expecting to see.  I then continued to read to see what Emily’s husband had been saying and my jaw hit the proverbial floor.

*screen capture thanks to Book Goggles as it’s since been removed by Amazon*

One should note that the initial reply from Giffin’s husband was the same day as the review and the activity on the page was slow at best until Emily posted the below on her Facebook.  She did not link directly to the review (although it was linked in the comments by a few of her fans) but it was pretty easy to find, I did so without difficulty.

*screen capture thanks to Pocketful of Books as it has since been deleted*

Now the claims are that she didn’t know about how awful her fans were being and that she never directed people to Amazon to attack (screen capture of this coming later in the post) but both of these comments got me to go looking for the review as well as many other fans.  Many I should note on her FB page were telling her this wasn’t a good idea and she should delete her posts, so not everyone was raising their proverbial pitchforks against the reviewer but one quick look at the comments on the review showed that an overwhelming amount of people were saying pretty awful things against this legitimate review.

At this point I had had enough.  I couldn’t stand the thought of the fact that my review could even get one person to buy her book so I decided to change the review.  I’ve done so in the past when my mind has changed on a product or book and never have had an issue with this in the least.  I changed my review from 4 to 1 star and stated why I did.  The novel was okay but I couldn’t in good faith support an author whom supports the kind of behavior that was going on with the initial 1 star review.  Since this item was a Vine product, I can’t simply delete the review.  I hit save and figured that while I was only one person, at least I’m not longer supporting an author whom encourages this kind of behavior from her husband and fans.

The first few comments surprised me – I didn’t think about my review being seen but I had forgotten about Emily pointing people to the one starred reviews, which would mean that mine would come up.  Crap.  I then went and looked at the comments on the other low starred reviews and saw that already her fandom was attacking.  I girded my loins and prepared for it to get ugly but initially, the support was mostly positive.  Then someone must have alerted Emily to the post as I was shocked to see my review pop up in my Facebook feed being blasted by Emily.

In the comment section, they were pretty quick to find my review and post it and the shitstorm on my review comment page ensued.  Granted, Emily did sort of attempt to call off the dogs but in the same respect she also pointed out my review and posted her feelings on my changing the rating (again, from 4 not 5 stars) which she is entitled to.  If she didn’t encourage bullying though, she would have deleted my review being linked on her page immediately like she did with any comments that supported her.  By this point there were a few people saying this needed to quit and the comments her fans were leaving were quite horrible.  At this point Emily’s assistant decided to jump in and defend Emily as well leaving quite a few comments that were pretty shocking coming from someone that represents the author on a professional level.

*screen capture thanks to Pocketful of Books as it has since been deleted*

This is just one of many comments that Katie left on my review (all she or Amazon has deleted).  However, at this point there were still quite a few people thinking that it was pretty crappy what was going on and supporting me and my right to my opinion on the book.  Then more crap hit Emily’s Facebook.

*screen capture thanks to Pocketful of Books as it has since been deleted*

Personally there is no way that a 1 star review falls under my category of “most unfair things” but I guess that she should consider herself blessed for leading such a charmed life.  Here Emily directly is linking to my review with her assistants plea for fans to comment and defend her against “these” attacks.  Personally, I don’t view my review as attacking the author so much as stating my opinion but I gather that is subjective so I’ll take the “attack” hit.  However, the initial review by AvidReader does not remotely come close to attacking Emily in the least.  With a battle cry like this, Emily’s fans got even more rabid in their attacks against me and her assistant (CrimznTider) continued to do battle.  Most of these have been deleted by Amazon.

So now I’m a stalker, bigot and an infant.  There’s more mudslinging but I think this gives you the overall tone of the kind of comments that I was receiving from the fans of Ms. Giffin after she posted on her Facebook a link to my review. There was also tweets from her account as well regarding this.

 *screen capture thanks to Pocketful of Books as it has since been deleted*

Finally about 2 or so hours after this whole debacle started, Emily finally attempted to call the dogs off on Facebook.

In short order her husband also offered up his apology to me on my review, I did not see this placed on AvidReader’s review however and she’s the one that truly deserves it.

FINALLY!  Although the apology is not perfect but I appreciated him finally apologizing and it did seem to slow (NOT STOP) the attacks on Amazon.  At this time Emily’s assistant finally stopped her postings as well.  Around 11:00PM I received 3 different calls, all blocked, with one leaving a “delete your review!” voicemail and the second stating that I should just kill myself for being such a miserable person for attacking poor Emily.   REALLY?  And yes, I’m talking with the cops about this already.  I mean that’s Misery kind of fan territory.  Not long after I heard a loud bang on my deck and I was legitimately scared that it was a gunshot.  Far fetched maybe but this was quickly sinking into WTF territory.

I went to bed last night shaking my head and completely baffled and amazed at what a turn this whole day took.   When I woke up I decided to check Emily’s Facebook page to see if she’d posted any sort of apology or whatnot but I found this instead.

I just… I don’t… WHAT?  She has also deleted all of her postings regarding the reviews, which is probably a good thing on her end.  I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed this remotely and it’s pretty unfathomable that you would even begin to entertain the idea that someone would ENJOY the shitstorm I’ve endured over the past day.  For the record, Emily posted a link to my review directly asking for people to come support the attack against her.  That’s not saying gang up but it was all but spelled out

Here’s hoping this dies a quiet death.  I for one will never read another Giffin novel and I am happy to hear that others are doing the same.

UPDATE:

Pipe dreams, they are lovely things to have aren’t they?  The only apology I have received from her camp is on my review, she has not reached out to me other than on that platform and that was her husband, not her, unless the account really is hers.  Again, I don’t deserve what happened to me because I dared to change a review.  I also will not be bullied into changing or deleting my review because that’s what Emily thinks is best.  If she didn’t want the drama to continue, she would stop making posts such as these. Sure, I’m adding to the fire now by posting these screen caps but damnit, I’m furious.  I think most would be too if they were in my shoes.

UPDATE #2:

I started getting negative comments on this blog post and low and behold, Emily is making vaguebook status updates.  It’s interesting how I am always able to figure it out when things have hit her Facebook when there is an uptick in negative feedback.

Also for those asking, yes I have been to the police station today regarding the voice mails and cyber bullying.

UPDATE #3

After thinking on this whole disaster this evening, I wondered how I could turn this into something positive.  I wished there was a charity for me to donate books to children that are bullied as a child I always lost myself in books when I was bullied in school.  I still do it as an escape from reality.  Since such a charity doesn’t exist (anyone want to start one?) I’m donating to the Megan Meier Foundation instead.  Megan Meier is the girl who killed herself after being cyber bullied on MySpace, a story which still saddens me.  I donated $614: a dollar for every downvote I received (278 – is that a record?) as well as AvidReader (78) and another dollar for every comment on the review (201 for me, 57 for AvidReader).  Granted, not every comment was bullying but I don’t care to go in and figure it all out as reliving those comments is not an ideal way to spend my evening.

I hope this is the end of this, I really do.

UPDATE #4

My review has been removed from the book page of Where We Belong.  You can still access it by clicking on the direct link but it is “gone” for all intents and purposes.  I did not do this, it was on Amazon’s end of things.

UPDATE #5 (December 30, 2012)

Ha, you thought it was all done.  Well, it is but I thought that instead of a new blog post, I’d finish up the “resolution” to this whole debacle as well as finally answer the question of what happened to AvidReader.

• Amazon took down my review of Where We Belong completely, however it still counts toward my Vine reviews so I didn’t have to review it again to stay under my percentage goals.  Huzzah.  Although, reviewing it again could have been interesting as I’m sorry but there’s no way on earth that my debacle wouldn’t have influenced my views in the least.  I know some don’t approve but in the same regards I tend to give authors I adore a kinder/better review based on my love of them so IMHO it can go both ways.

• I never had a direct apology in any form from Emily.  The only apology I got was from her publicist, whom did eventually contact me but it wasn’t on her behalf, more or less was trying to get me to take down this blog.  I refused and he was polite about my refusal.  They did release a somewhat public apology in The Atlantic.

• Despite accusations to the contrary, AvidReader is *not* some stalker of Emily Giffin’s, nor a psycho.  Instead she is a college student who used an email she doesn’t check during the school year for her Amazon profile.  When she got home for the holidays and checked her not-often-read email, she was surprised to see what kind of fuss became of her review.  She contacted me to thank me for supporting her and was glad that she missed all of the drama.  I’m SO glad to hear from her and know she is OK.  I was concerned but hoped something like this was the case.

• Finally I want to say a huge thank you to the authors and fellow reviewers that reached out to me during this mess.  I was stunned, surprised and humbled by your overwhelming support.  I’ve gained a lot of respect for you all and I’m glad to know that some of my favorite authors are on my team and I’ve also discovered a few new ones that I want to support.  It was a crazy ordeal and I couldn’t have asked for kinder people to be in my corner.

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