Posts filed under 'Gift guide'

A Valentine gift for your cooking-impaired freelance friend or sweetie

hands-off-cooking.jpgI admit it. I hate to cook. I eat out of boxes and cans and to-go containers more than I should, even though I prefer a healthy, homemade meal 10 to 1. That’s why I was excited when Ann Martin Rolke sent me a copy of her book, Hands-Off Cooking: Low Supervision, High-Flavor Meals for Busy People, which clearly was written for lazy and/or no-time-in-the-kitchen sorts like me. Yummy, healthy recipes (Tandoorish Chicken! Fridge Cleaning Frittata! Nutty Pumpkin Lasagna!) that I can’t burn if I have to dash off to my computer and get down one more sentence? What could be better!

As an extra treat, Ann answered a few questions for the blog. Read, drool, buy.

Q. What prompted you to write the book?chickpea-potato-curry.jpg

A. I was actually approached by an agent who I had spoken to previously about ghostwriting a book with a chef. She used to be a cookbook editor and thought this idea hadn’t been really explored yet in a cookbook.

Q. What 5 to 10 staple ingredients should busy self-employed people always have on hand in their cabinets and fridge so they can easily whip up dinner in 15 minutes or less?

A. Canned tomatoes, canned beans, rice, skinless chicken or fish, garlic.

Q. Any unexpected kitchen equipment hands-off cooks need to stock their cabinets with?

A. I don’t know if it’s unexpected, but a heavy-duty pot is a must for braising and soups (like Le Creuset) and I use my 9 x 13-inch casserole several times a week. I do think an oven thermometer and kitchen timer with multiple settings (so you can time more than one thing at once) are great to make sure everything goes well!

Q. What’s your favorite “I’m on a crunch deadline and need to burn the midnight oil” dinner or late-night snack recipe?

A. Baked pita chips and hummus.

Ann Martin RolkeQ. What’s your favorite comfort food recipe?

A. Indian food lately — something easy like my Aloo Cholay from the book or some naan that I buy frozen and reheat, smeared with some simple yellow split peas cooked with spices until they’re like refried beans. So comforting!

Q. How much cash do you think busy working women stand to save by making hands-off recipes instead of ordering take-out or buying a to-go meal at the local market?

A. Well, depending on where you grocery shop, you can really eat well for not much money. We don’t eat meat every night, for example, and that keeps the costs down and the vegetable intake up! So say you normally would spend $7 to 10 a person for to-go (not fast food); you can easily feed four people for $10 and make a great lasagna, soup, or vegetarian curry.

Q. Anything else you’d like to add?

A. The whole idea of this book was to make cooking flavorful, healthy meals less time-consuming and more accessible. We’re all so used to eating lots of different ethnic cuisines and constantly trying to balance health with convenience. So I really tried to make my recipes easy to put together but full of flavor, color, and texture, so that they’re really satisfying.

Want a taste? Order this fine cookbook now. Or visit Ann’s blog for recipes and other quick-cooking tips.

3 comments February 14th, 2008

How not to date (at work)

hntd_cover.gifIn honor of Valentine’s Day, I bring you this interview I did with Judy McGuire (Seattle Weekly Dategirl columnist) on love in the workplace for nine-to-fivers, freelancers, and temps alike. Judy’s hot-of-the-presses book, How Not to Date, which features more women and men behaving badly than a Jerry Springer show, had me guffawing out loud. Whether you’re looking for the perfect antidote to this incredibly meaningless holiday, need a few tips on how not to behave around potential paramours, or are happily shacked up but could use a good laugh, I highly recommend it. And if you’re in New York or like getting your giggles by web radio, check out Judy’s east coast events and weekly broadcast.

judy_sofa_sm.gif Q. I can see how screwing your boss, your underlings, or anyone else on your immediate team could come back to bite you in the pants. But what if you hold lust in your heart for someone you don’t interact with on a daily basis, like Darcy in Accounting or Dirk in Marketing? Should you go for it? Any tips as to how?

A. I had a long-term relationship with someone I started off sharing an office with, so I don’t really go in for that whole “don’t poop where you eat” way of thinking. Sure, it might get uncomfortable if things don’t work out, but if you look at the bright side, the resulting drama could entertain your coworkers for months.

Sadly office party season has ended so you can’t do the tried and true drunken lurch under the mistletoe, but there’s always happy hour. Invite your intended out, ostensibly for a group happy hour, but “forget” to ask anyone else. This works best if you can catch him or her while they’re on their way out the door (thus assuring no pesky tagalongs).

Q. Any departments you should never, ever, ever touch, not even with your Mother’s vajayjay? (I’m thinking HR might be a no-no.)

A. Mining the Human Resource department for tail is definitely a bad idea, but I think fooling around with anyone in the IT department is far worse. Those techie types can hack into your email, which is a no-win for any dater. In the beginning, he can read all the mushy crap you’re telling your girlfriends about him — thus costing you any pretense of game — and then after you break up… well, that can be even worse.

Q. What if you’re a temp or contractor who’s going to be out of there in three months? Do the same rules of office chastity apply?

A. But being a temp is like being bisexual — it simply widens your dating pool. Who cares if you’re banging the boss if you’re onto the next job in two weeks? What is it my Nike sneaks are always telling me — “Just do it!”

Q. Many a nine-to-fiver meets their romantic match not at work, but through it — a coworker fixes you up, or your eyes lock across the color copier with that sweet young bike messenger. We work-from-home types miss out on all these potential cubicle hookups. Any suggestions as to how we, too, can exploit our jobs to get laid?

A. Even if we’re lucky enough to work at home in our PJs, most of us still have to either talk or email with other humans. I’ve found that married people are almost always anxious to fix a sister up. They’ll try to fool you into thinking that they feel sorry for your sad single self, but really, your uncomplicated, uncommitted sex life is utterly fascinating to them, so let them have at it. The only problem being is that they’re going to want details. “Wait, you didn’t meet him until ten! At night?!? Did he kiss you? Did you guys, you know, do it?!?!”

That can get kind of annoying, but if you’re the indiscrete type anyway, it’s a small price to pay. Plus, spilling dirty details will inevitably spice up your tragically married friend’s sex life, so you’re really just repaying the favor.

Q. You’re a freelancer who’s lucked into an invite to her star client’s annual holiday party. Do you teetotal, or is it okay to have a glass of wine or three and hit the dance floor?

A. Um, you’re asking a woman named McGuire whether or not you should drink? I’m afraid I don’t understand the question.

Want more McGuire? See her live in NY next week. Listen to her on the radio every Friday. Read her hilarious blog. And by all means, get her book!

2 comments February 6th, 2008

The creative gal’s (very) late-start holiday gift guide, part 2

Herewith, my list of newish books that you may want to give the creative types in your life. (Hey, there’s still time for new year’s gifts, right?)

Only as Good as Your Word: Writing Lessons from My Favorite Literary Gurus by Susan Shapiro. Serious kick-in-the-pants inspiration from a book- and article-publishing dynamo. (And I’m not talking about e-books or blog posts; I’m talking about hardcovers and New York Times clips.) Expect to grab your notebook or race to your computer several times before you’ve even hit the third chapter.

How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead: Your Words in Print and Your Name in Lights by Ariel Gore. I’ve mentioned this goldmine of ideas and inspiration before. If you’ve recently found yourself whining about how Oprah hasn’t called yet, you need this book. Ariel Gore is here to tell you that a writer or artist makes her own luck, and she’s got just the luck-making recipes little ‘ole undiscovered you needs.

Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide edited by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call. If you want to learn from the masters (and again, I don’t mean your favorite blogger), look no further. Susan Orlean, Nora Ephron, Phillip Lopate, and a pile of other literary gods and goddesses weigh in on the fine art of creative nonfiction. Storytelling, interviewing, editing, ethics, discipline — I’m telling you, this book is 300 pages of the best J school lectures you never had.

Hands-Off Cooking: Low-Supervision, High-Flavor Meals for Busy People by Ann Martin Rolke. A godsend for self-employed, artsy types who have a hard time extracting themselves from their creative cocoon and loathe elaborate meal preparation. (It’s not just me, is it?)

On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl’s Guide to Personal Finance by Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar. Because making art is no excuse to not make rent. (Watch for my interview with Manisha and Sharon on this here blog in January!)

2 comments December 20th, 2007

The creative gal’s late-start holiday gift guide, part 1

If you’re anything like me, you don’t do your holiday shopping early. Hell, Hanukkah’s already come and gone and I’m not done with my blasted shopping. Hence, this brief, halfway-through-December gift guide…

Great Gals 2008Great Gals 2008 wall calendar. Summer Pierre kicks serious ass. Just check out this stunning calendar she illustrated in her spare time (yes, she has a full-time day job). Dolly Parton, Edith Wharton, Phyllis Diller, Joan Cusack… they’re all here. Note: According to an email I received from Summer earlier this month, today is the last day to order the calendar if you want it to arrive by January. But don’t let that deter you. The client you’re planning to send this work of art to is either out of the office or drunk until January 2 anyway.

Made By Survivors craftsMade By Survivors crafts. I read about this cool online store on the Seal Press blog earlier this month. Apparently all after-tax proceeds on the (very affordable) pretty purses, scarves, jewelry, and handmade paper you buy go to international human rights organizations that work to end human trafficking. Nice.

American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. It seems like yesterday that Southern California was burning and hundreds of working class folks were losing their homes. Last week who knows how many hard-working people of modest means in my Pacific Northwest stomping ground lost their homes to floods and landslides. This week the midwest has turned into an icicle and the power could be out for days and days to come. And it’s only halfway through December. If you have a greenie on your shopping list who you know would appreciate foregoing a gift in exchange for your making a donation to the Red Cross (or your fave charity, food bank, or shelter of choice), go for it!

For more indie gifts, check out Lauren and Emira’s crafty recommendations on Boss Lady. And for my top book picks, come back next week, OK? Happy end of Hanukkah and beginning of the serious Christmas crunch. Woo.

Add comment December 14th, 2007

My idea of a Feb. 14 gift

I heart chocolate 365 days a yearI don’t know about you, but I don’t need to wait till February 14th rolls around to tell someone I love them, gorge myself with chocolate, or nab me some pretty flowers. I also don’t do diamonds. I do books. And in honor of this ridiculous Hallmark holiday, I thought I’d recommend some books — many by pals of mine — that singles, couples, and moms may dig.

For singles…

How to Date in a Post-Dating World. Written by Diane Mapes, who also writes a spit-your-soda-all-over-your-keyboard-it’s-so-funny column on the single life for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Single State of the Union: Single Women Speak Out on Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Diane’s new anthology, featuring the essay “House Without a Spouse” by yours truly, is hot off the presses. Stay tuned for readings this spring.

Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. If you’re sick of your family asking, “So when are you gonna settle down?” or your boss saddling you with a fatter workload than your married coworkers, you will love Dr. Bella DePaulo‘s insightful, irreverent book.

For love bugs who want to up the ante…

Offbeat Bride: Taffeta-Free Alternatives for Independent Brides. A must for women thinking about getting hitched. And if you want to hear more from the sock-puppet-toting, penis-water-bottle-guzzling woman herself, Ariel’s currently doing book readings all over the Pacific Northwest.

Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women. Don’t listen to anyone who says you have to dumb yourself down if you’re a het woman who wants to hook up. Dr. Christine Whelan commissioned a bigass Harris Interactive study for this book and found that 90 percent of high-achieving men want to be with a woman who’s at least as smart as them and 80 percent of high-achieving men want a woman who’s at least as accomplished and educated as them.

For mommies…

Single Mom Seeking: Playdates, Blind Dates, and Other Dispatches from the Dating World. Reviewers are calling Rachel Sarah‘s book “sexy,” “edgy,” and “hot.” Publisher’s Weekly says it’s “a west coast Sex in the City roundup of romantic escapades and frustrated desires for the Pampers (as opposed to the pampered) set.” Juicy!

Confessions of a Naughty Mommy: How I Found My Lost Libido. Further proof that sex doesn’t stop with motherhood! In her dishy book, author Heidi Raykeil tells moms whose sex lives are lagging how to put that spring back in their step.

1 comment February 14th, 2007

Extreme procrastinator’s gift guide

Welcome to the fourth and final installment of the Anti-Nine-to-Fiver’s Holiday Gift Guide.* In this Extreme Procrastination Edition, we focus on prezzies for expats, road trippers, and globetrotters.

(Since the jetsetters in your life are probably three continents away at this very moment and can only receive their mail by donkey every four to six weeks, they will have no idea that you purchased their gifts post-holiday season.)

OK, on with the recommendations:

Travel wallet. Keep cash and travel docs secure in one of these nifty stash belts from REI.

Hydration pack. For longer hikes, carrying your water on your back is the way to go. Besides, you can’t honestly tell me you’ve never fantasized about drinking out of one of those water bottles for pet gerbils. (I’m not the only one, am I? Am I?)

Hand repair creme. Whether she’s trekking through Nepal, putting out wildfires in the States, or picking grapes in some idyllic French countryside, chances are her hands could use a little love. Burt’s Bees Shea Butter Hand Repair Creme gets the job done.

The ultimate guide to my neck of the woods. Headed to the Pacific Northwest in 2007? Seattle journalist Sally Farhat tells travelers where to go and what to do in the latest edition of Best Places Northwest.

Danger bag. This messenger bag isn’t recommended for airline travel (click the link to see why), but it’s infinitely cool for traipsing around one’s hometown.

*Thanks to my trusty assistant Traci, far lovelier than Vanna White could ever hope to be, for all her help with these gift guides.

Add comment December 26th, 2006

Night of the living gift guide

Make stuff, not warHo ho ho, and welcome to Installment III of the Procrastinator’s Gift Guide.* Today’s compilation features a few of our top picks for all the crafty females, handywomen, and compulsive DIYers on your list:

A subscription to Make or Craft magazine. Some friends and I had occasion to check out both these fine publications at Seattle’s Urban Craft Uprising earlier this month. And let me tell you, it’s tough to say who’s going to flip out more — the gadget freaks you subscribe to Make, or the designing divas you subscribe to its new sister publication, Craft.

Power tools! Single women buy 20 percent of all homes today, which is more than men can say for themselves (no offense, men — them’s just the stats). And somebody’s got to fix those cute-but-crumbling bungalows. So why not buy the homeowning DIY diva in your life this cordless drill or cordless screwdriver from Tomboy Tools?

Be Jane’s Guide to Home Empowerment: Projects to Change the Way You Live. A DIY fix-it guide just for women, brought to us by the women behind the Be Jane home improvement site? Sign me up! (Dear boyfriend of mine, are you reading this?)

A stitch ‘n bitch handbook. Bust editor Debbie Stoller now has four gorgeous, full-color knitting and crocheting books for stitch ‘n bitchers to choose from. And all I can say is, if anyone makes me the handbag on page 157 of The Happy Hooker, I’ll gladly buy it off you and throw in a free book of my own to boot.

The Craftster Guide to Nifty, Thrifty, and Kitschy Crafts: Fifty Fabulous Projects from the Fifties and Sixties. The title says it all. From the folks behind Craftster.org.

*Merci, Traci, who helped whip this list into shape.

Add comment December 21st, 2006

Love your local bookstore

ParkPlace BooksUnless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that many independently owned businesses rely on the holiday shopping season to bring in a significant portion of their annual sales. Bad news for those Seattle area stores that recently found themselves closed for days on end due to flooding and power outages.

ParkPlace Books in Kirkland, Washington, is one such store. According to an email from the two owners (both women), the store was flooded and in the dark for many days. But they’re up and running now, back to business as usual — except for the fact that they have a lot of sales to catch up on. So if you’re near the east side and have some lit gifts to pick up, show ParkPlace Books some love.

Store coordinates:

ParkPlace Books
Kirkland’s Community Bookstore
348 Parkplace Center
Kirkland, WA 98033
Phone: 425-828-6546
Fax: 425-739-6876
parkplacebooks [at] integra [dot] net

3 comments December 21st, 2006

Bride of the procrastinator’s gift guide

librarianWelcome to Installment II of the Procrastinator’s Gift Guide.* Remember, those who dole out prezzies after the new year aren’t late — they’ve just made a concerted effort to have their holiday gifts stand out from the pack.

Today’s installment of the gift guide features some of our top lit picks for anti-nine-to-fivers:

The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube. I think you’ve heard of this one by now. If not, see what two Very Important Authors had to say about this impending classic. (Sorry, my publisher put my up to that.)

amBITCHous. Written by the founder of the Women’s Business Alliance, this brand-spanking-new book is for women who want to make more money, nab their fantasy career (without feeling like an imposter!), and learn to better juggle their professional and personal lives. Sign me up.

Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women. Who says successful careerwomen make crappy domestic partners? (Yeah, Michael Noer — I’m talking to you.) According to author Christine Whelan, “Smart, successful women marry at the same rates as all other women, and once married, they have children at the same rates as well.”

This Is Not Chick Lit: Original Stories by America’s Best Women Writers. The brainy backlash continues. Not only can women balance a career with getting laid and finding love, many women choose to read stories about something other than accessorizing and, well, getting laid and finding love.

A subscription to your favorite quasi-escapist yet undeniably brainy women’s indie pub. Perfect for your morning commute or midweek lunch hour. Not sure which to pick? May we suggest Bust, Bitch, Swivel, or Venusall downright enjoyable, not to mention inspiring.

And finally, a “Reading Is Sexy” T-shirt or messenger bag. No brainy broad’s collection would be complete without one.

*As always, special thanks to Traci for helping put together this list.

3 comments December 19th, 2006

Procrastinator’s gift guide

Heebs heart Rudolph tooIf the holidays snuck up on you like they did me, you may be scrambling for gift ideas for your star clients or fave freelance pals. To help, we here in anti-nine-to-five-land have assembled a handy-dandy Procrastinator’s Gift Guide.* We can’t guarantee that if you order these gifts today they’ll arrive by Monday, but hey, didn’t we already discuss the beauty of the new year’s gift last week?

Desk makeovers. The See Jane Work site is brimming with desktop accoutrements for every budget, from these retro-looking file trays to this precious mousepad. And if you need help picking out the perfect gift for a business associate, check out their office gifting etiquette guide.

Business card holders. You can never get one of these too soon — or have too many. Whether she’s no-frills or fancypants, there’s a card holder with her name on it at See Jane Work. (Geez, I should write copy for these people.)

Boss Lady products. What fempreneur can resist a lunchbox, compact, or bottle of bubble bath emblazoned with the words “Boss Lady” and a feisty cowgirl graphic? Not I. And probably not the sassy self-employed women on your list either.

Not your mother’s day planner. With their 2007 pocket calendar and slightly-larger spiral calendar, the rabble-rousing folks at Slingshot Collective don’t just give you 52 weeks of scheduling fun. They also give you DIY tips for homemade hygiene products, advice on dealing with Government Repression, and a great recipe for vinaigrette. A must-have.

Digi-greetings. Not only are these simian-happy e-cards free, they’re hysterical. Great for last-minute holiday wishes. Warning: Not suitable for humorless clients.

*Special thanks to my ever-resourceful pal Traci for helping assemble this list. More installments to come throughout the week.

Add comment December 19th, 2006

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Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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