Friends-giving 2015: The best mashed potatoes


I’m going to brag a little bit. My mashed potatoes are the best. They just are. They’re the freaking best.

It’s not just my opinion, it’s a scientific fact, plus I’ve honest-to-blog been witness to the following conversation:

Friend 1: “Hey, can you bring some mashed potatoes?”

Friend 2: “You don’t even like mashed potatoes!”

Friend 1: “I like Erin’s mashed potatoes.”

Which I think seals the deal on who has the best mashed potatoes, at least on this planet. (Have you read The Martian yet? Was the movie any good? It gets a bit potato-heavy for several chapters.)

So what’s in this magical recipe? You might be disappointed when I tell you it’s really nothing special. It’s just a lot of delicious things like butter and salt. There’s really no secret to it.

4 large russet potatoes

4 Tbsp salted butter

4 – 6 oz sour cream (full fat, not the watery stuff)



  1. Wash the potatoes thoroughly and dig out any eyes with the edge of your peeler. Don’t remove the skins.
  2. Chop the potatoes into 2 inch cubes.
  3. Place potato cubes in a large pot of cold water and cover.
  4. Bring to a full boil.
  5. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Remove the cover but do not reduce the heat.
  6. When the timer goes off, drain the water.
  7. Add the butter to the pot of warm potato cubes.
  8. Use the handmixer that you inherited from your Grandmother-in-law which is almost definitely older than you, but which still works better than any other appliance that you own. Mash the potatoes into the butter and mix in short bursts.
  9. Add the sour cream (4oz should be enough but add 6oz if you like your potatoes to be creamier) and mix with the hand mixer.
  10. Don’t over blend! You want lumps and chunks!
  11. Taste before you season! Both the butter and the sour cream contain salt and you don’t want to over-salt.
  12. Serve immediately. Serves 6-8 people (rule of thumb is usually about 1/2 a large potato per person).

That’s it! Simple, right? Seems like nothing special, but I get more compliments on that recipe than on anything else I make.

Feel better

Sometimes we get into a funk. It can happen to anyone. Some of us deal with depression and anxiety regularly, some of us just wake up on the wrong side of the bed one too many days in a row.

No matter what reason is behind your bad mood, here are some ways of making yourself feel better:

(linked to original on Tumblr page).


How do you practice self care when you’re feeling crappy? Do any of these particularly resonate with you?

Halloween is almost here!

…and that means I have an excuse to buy Reese’s peanut butter pumpkins (which everyone knows, are better than the regular peanut butter cups), binge-watch my favorite movies on Netflix, and obsess over an incredibly complicated costume before finally giving up and settling for something simple, cheap and doable.

This year I’m either going to be Mario or a witch, because I already own the hats necessary for both of those costumes.

Here are my plans for this weekend:

  1. Watch Hocus Pocus – I mean this is a given. It’s the most iconic Halloween movie! It’s Sarah Jessica Parker’s best role!
  2. …And The Nightmare Before Christmas. 1993 was a great year for Halloween movies!
  3. Bake mini pumpkin pies. (They’re bite-sized so it doesn’t matter that you ate 10 of them!)
  4. Mix up a bourbon apple cider.
  5. And wait for the Great Pumpkin to appear!


How are you prepping for Halloween? What are you going to dress up as? Is the Great Pumpkin even real?

Currently reading: Gender and mental health

Nevada by Imogene Binnie


I loved this story! The writing is very train-of-thought and feels a little like reading someone’s diary. It’s very intimate and more than a little punk-rock. I found myself rooting for both Maria and James H., adoring Piranha, and a little bit cool-girl-intimidated by Steph. I appreciate that this story is from a perspective that I don’t know about, and makes the effort to educate its readers about some of the issues that trans* people face, without getting preachy or boring. Highly recommend (and chosen for my book club).








Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson furiously-happy

It’s no secret that I love The Bloggess. I re-read her first book every time I have a particularly bad day or bout of depression. I re-read it when I’m switching medications and feeling weird about myself. I re-read it when I need a reminder that I’m not alone and that many people suffer from some form of mental illness. Furiously Happy is her second book, and it is even more strong, more raw, and more intimate than her first. It will make you laugh and cry so fair warning – don’t read it in the library or anywhere that you’ll be shushed. Jenny is coming to San Francisco on a book-signing tour on Dec. 1st and I really hope I get a chance to attend. I would love to hug her, thank her, and maybe get her to sign a taxidermy mouse from Paxton Gate.

Current Reading List: American housewives and servants

How to be an American housewife by Margaret Dilloway

housewife I couldn’t get into this one. It’s the story of a Japanese woman and her adult daughter living in America. The hook is supposed to be when Sue, the daughter, travels back to Japan and discovers some family secrets, but honestly it just didn’t grab me.










Longbourn by Jo Baker


This was chosen by my book club as our July-August pick. It’s the story of Pride and Prejudice from the perspective of the servants at Longbourn. I really liked this book! It’s the kind of easy fiction that I can dip into like a bath and just curl up inside until it’s done. I don’t always finish every book club picks, but I did finish this one and I’m glad I did. I won’t give anything away, but there are mostly happy endings all around. If you liked Jane Austen, you’ll probably like this book. Some of the reviews on GoodReads were from hardcore Austen fans who didn’t approve of some of the creative liberties that Baker took, but I can’t say I minded.

Finishing Whole30

So it’s Day 28 and I’m almost done with my Whole30 challenge! Woohoo!


Pretty soon I’m going to start adding foods back into my diet one at a time in order to see how they affect me and decide whether or not I’ll continue eating them now that I know I can survive without them.

First up will be grains. Specifically, I’ve always disliked Kashi cereal because it’s not sweet and sugary the way most cereals are. I’m going to eat a single serving (3/4 cup) of Kashi Go Lean Crunch and see if it tastes sweet to me, after a whole month without added artificial sugars.

Then I’ll add rice. I like sashimi, but I’ve missed sushi rolls and nigiri SO MUCH this month! I can’t wait to treat myself to a delicious sushi lunch!

After that, I think I’ll make those Greek Meatballs with Avocado Tzatziki and include the Greek yogurt. It was a really good recipe on its own, but I really love a good tzatziki sauce with Greek yogurt. Also, I’ve never liked Greek yogurt on its own because it’s not as sweet and sugary as strawberry Yoplait, but I’d like to try it again now that giving up sugar has proved to not be the end of the world.

After that, I’ll probably test out some hard cheeses, then a day later try soft cheeses, then soy products like Soy Delicious ice cream, and then maybe I’ll give regular ice cream a try (the diner up the street has a Peppermint Stick ice cream that tastes like Christmas).

Slowly but surely, I’ll figure out a diet that works for me and that I can live with. I’d like to continue cutting back on alcohol and sugar for a while, but I’m not going to completely remove either.

I’m really glad I did this as a way of resetting myself and my eating habits. It was definitely worth the trouble and I would highly recommend it to anyone!

Helpful Links:

Sweet potato nachos – A Whole30 Recipe

Firstly, I got this recipe for oven-baked potato chips from Martha Stewart and then I followed this recipe for the rest of the nacho stuff from It’s Me Charlotte which calls this recipe for avocado crema.

I used my little mini mandoline to slice one sweet potato and one russet potato into thin chips. Then while those were in the oven (400 degrees for 10 minutes) I whipped up the avocado crema in the blender and diced my onions, peppers and tomatoes.

Blender filled with garlic and avocado

It. Was. Wonderful!

Kevin and I both ate until we were stuffed and happy! I couldn’t help think that this would have been better with some cheese, but for now this recipe is definitely one of my favorites.

Brioche Scarf – Finally, a knitting pattern that I can do in front of the TV!

Can I just talk about how much crocheting is better than knitting?

(ducks to avoid thrown knitting needles)

Ok, maybe that statement is a bit subjective, but for me personally I’ve found crocheting to be easier to learn, easier to fix mistakes, and easier to modify patterns to fit my needs.

Knitting is still very complicated for me and I have to do things like count my stitches (bleh) and remember whether I was supposed to be purling or knitting this particular stitch (double bleh).

This is extremely difficult because my favorite part of any craft is letting my mind wander and then bringing my consciousness back to the task at hand to discover how much closer I am to having a completed project.

That’s why I was so excited to find this pattern for a Brioche Infinity Scarf on Ravelry!

It’s a lovely simple ribbed scarf that a friend of mine asked me to make for her, and then liked it enough to request two more scarves for her mom and her daughter.


There was a little bit of a learning curve for me, and I did have to rip out and start over at one point very early on, but now I can knit this pattern while watching Netflix or listening to an audiobook or just day dreaming. It’s delightful!

So the moral of this story is that maybe I’ve misjudged knitting in the past. Maybe I just needed to find a pattern that would work for me. Maybe I need a little motivation to not give up on a project the first time something goes wrong.

Either way, I highly recommend this pattern! Give it a try and enjoy your thick, fluffy, warm scarf Also, post pictures of your project! I wanna see :)

Crockpot Minestrone Soup – Whole30 Recipe

This recipe for crockpot paleo minestrone soup comes from Our Paleo Life.

I didn’t make it in the crockpot because I was already hungry when I started cooking and didn’t want to wait 4 hours for it to finish, so I just threw all the veggies into a pot with some oil to let them soften a bit (maybe 4 minutes) and then added the broth, canned tomatoes, and spices. I left the frozen spinach out at this point and I didn’t add any meat to the soup.

Bring everything to a boil, then reduce heat to mid-low and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Then add the spinach and continue to simmer for maybe a minute or two to let it warm up.

Serve after a very long, tiring day and it will help bring you back to life.

Also, because it was a long, tiring day, I forgot to take pictures while cooking. So this photo is of the leftovers, which are also very delicious but significantly  less photogenic.

So yummy, so not pretty.

It would be better paired with some bread, but that’s not Whole30 compliant. Oh well, only 9 more days to go and then I can consider adding bread back into my diet!