Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Random Tuesdays

  • I am in love with the song “These Days” by Nico. When I hear the music a smile comes across my whole body from my feet up.
  • I took my social security card out of my wallet, so that I wouldn’t lose it and because it’s frowned upon to carry it around on you now. Well, by taking it out, I lost it! Seriously. Ugh. I need it for Thursday when I go fill out paperwork for my new job. That’s right, new job! There will be more to come on that.
  • Why can’t Ani Difranco play a show here? I’m really sorry that I missed you last time you were here, Ani. Don’t hold that against me and come back sooner rather than later. I could use a good show.
  • I found some pretty awesome finds at Goodwill today, including a Jesus painting that invoked weird stares from Mr. O and his sister. All I know is the lady that checked me out at Goodwill said, "Well, I knew he wouldn't last long." I will definitely post them later, which reminds me that I really should add some photos here. I know you want more from me than just words.

Falling for you all over again..

As I was walking from work to my car yesterday, I got caught in a swirl of falling leaves and I was delighted. The leaves are changing and falling gracefully to cover the ground in most brilliantly hued coat. I love Fall!

"It is not everyone," said Elinor, "who has your passion for dead leaves." -Sense and Sensibility

Monday, October 26, 2009

10 things I love...

I hate leaving the house when it’s still dark outside and the stars have forgotten that it is morning and they should be slumbering instead of showing off all their bedazzled glory. In order to make myself feel better about, not only having to get myself up at 5:15 on a cold Monday morning, but also having to step out into the darkness to leave for work, I decided to make a list of 10 things that I love, just to cheer me up. I know someone that carries around a notebook for the purpose of writing down things that they love whenever they are exposed to one. I think this is a lovely idea and may start doing it myself or I may start making this a weekly or monthly blog entry. What better way to cheer yourself up, than a reminder of all things that bring a smile to face and to your heart.

10 things I love…

1. Having a slow-paced morning with no rush and still getting to work on time
2. Baking a pie from scratch and having it come out perfectly in all its scrumptious wonder
3. Days where I go from pajamas to shower to clean pajamas
4. Wrapping up in a blanket and sipping hot chocolate on cold nights
5. Fall clothes with all their delicious layers
6. Learning some new tidbit/tip that I can apply in my life
7. Scrabble games with the ones that I love
8. Music that instantly brightens my mood
9. Bike rides with good friends that include picnics in far-from-travelled spots
10. Thrift store and garage sale finds

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mystic Pizza

I made the most delicious pizza last night. I thought I would share the recipe, partly to let you all experience the wonderfulness and partly so that I remember what I did to accomplish its deliciousness. In hindsight, I would have probably added fresh garlic and basil. I think they both would be good additions to the recipe.

Before I share the recipe and because we are on the subject of food, I’m sure most of you have heard that Gourmet magazine has folded. I found out today that the recipes that are on website are going to be up for a limited time, but once the Gourmet website shuts down, then the recipes will no longer be available. You better believe that I have been copying recipes today. Good recipes should not be wasted. Now for pizza!

Veggie-full pizza

1 store bought refrigerated pizza dough (I used Pillsbury)
Store bought pizza sauce (I would have gone with making my own, if I had the time)
5 or 6 stalks of (thin) asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces
A handful of baby portabella mushrooms (a ¼ of a container, maybe), cut in thin slices
½ a small red onion, thinly sliced into rings
1 cup of fresh spinach (though I would probably use more next time)
½ to 1 cup of canned quartered artichokes
½ cup roasted red peppers
Rotisserie chicken, as much or little as you want (I had leftover chicken)
2 roma tomatoes, sliced
Shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 400F. Spray pizza pan with nonstick spray. Roll out the dough into about 13-14 inches, a little less than the size of a pizza pan. Add as much sauce as desired. Layer some of the vegetables and chicken. Add ½ cup of mozzarella. Add the remaining vegetables (asparagus-roasted red peppers) and chicken. Top with tomatoes. End with the desired amount of cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Good luck with your demands!

Toddlers are terrorists. There is no negotiating with them. I mean, they can even bring grown men to their knees. I happen to live with the most adorable little pig-tailed wearing, cherub like two year-old. Over the past month or so, things have slowly started to change and the pendulum is swinging in her favor. I can’t get over how smart she is or the ways that she gets out of things. It’s mind-blowing. Not only can I learn a thing or two, but I’m pretty sure the CIA or any con artist/thief could benefit and take some notes.

Ways to get out of a situation or get your way, Ava style!

  1. Don’t like what is put in front of you to eat, merely act like your chewing or drinking. If questioned or asked, state that you are chewing and can’t take another bite or hold your drink in your mouth, so it’s slightly tilted, so that no one will notice that you aren’t actually eating or drinking anything. Most importantly, move the food around on your plate to hide the evidence. In another tactic, if asked if you want a bite, hold up your hand and shake your head, while slightly turned and say, “No, I’m fine. I’m fine,” or stating that you’re “too full” (This one had us all turning our heads, so not to be seen laughing, so that the tactic wouldn’t be considered cute or successful, in hopes that it wouldn’t be used often.)
  2. If you want to dance and the person you want to dance with doesn’t want too, then first state,” I want to dance,” while smiling. If the person doesn’t except, raise your voice one to two octaves, decreasing the smile and repeat the offer to dance. If the person declines again, state, “But I want to dance,” while looking forlorn, let tears well-up slightly, but not too much, in your eyes, and look like all your hopes and dreams have been crushed with that one decline. You’ll get the dance. You will definitely get it.
  3. If you want to thoroughly do some damage to ones ego, spend time with them all day, laughing at their jokes and asking them to hold you. Just when you have them in the palm of your hand, tell them to “Go away!” with disgust and, if they proceed to advance toward you or get in your way, push past them, while telling them to move and get into your (play) car and smile at them as you drive away. It’s crushing. Don’t do it too often though because they will eventually catch on, but if you’re cute enough, it won’t matter. They will fall for it every time.
  4. If reprimanded, told no, or on the verge of being put (into a corner) out, then cry and cry a lot. Cry like you’re heart has been shattered into a million pieces. Let your tears be monstrous in size and every once in a while say the name of the person that did the reprimanding in a pitiful, apologetic and pleading way. Once they finally give in and console you, don’t let them see the smile come across your face, the instant stop of the tears, or the way your voice sounds remarkably unaffected.

Those are just a few. I won’t divulge any more out of respect for Ava’s talent. I thought the teenaged years were going to be the hardest parenting years, but I definitely have been corrected and have started taking notes.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Those were the days

Isn't it amazing how a song can take you right back to the past, so much so that you can feel the cool air or hear the conversation as if you were living it all over again? I just had that moment. I'm not embarrassed to admit it was to Candlbox's "You" (Thank you, Jango. If you don't know what Jango is, check it out. It's pretty rockin'.). I could have sworn I was back in August of '95 in B's car heading to the Gallatin Fair. I can even remember part of my outfit and could almost feel the cool air. Yes, we were cool enough to make an appearance at the fair. Everyone was doing it. Ah, but we had alternative motives, involving our "secret" (I use this term loosely, since I'm pretty sure a lot of people knew mine and, if you continue to read, you'll know why.) crushes and hopes of seeing them. It was the two of us, a cool August night, windows partly down, and Candlebox on the radio heading to what we hoped would be our destined lover's arms. The song brought back how much fun we had that night, how much fun we had together back in the day. DT1 and DT2 taking the night and living large. Highlights of that night, including me yelling my crush's name from the top of the ferris wheel, as if he wouldn't think to look up to where the voice was coming from (his friend did and had an amused, you're-an-idiot look on his face), walking by the grav-a-tron and distinctly hearing my sister's voice yell, "Raaallllpphhh!", and having many a laugh with B. Good times.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bringing Sunday dinners back

I’ve been caught in a cloud of nostalgia lately. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve thinking a lot of the past and times with the people that I love most. Most of these memories stem around food. Maybe that’s the real reason that I love food so much. It really does bring people together.

One of the memories that I find myself thinking about frequently lately is going to my grandmother’s house for Sunday dinners. Now they weren’t always elaborate meals, but it was quality time spent with grandmother. I think that’s what Sunday dinners are about, spending time with the people that you love.

In an effort to preserve these memories and to begin new traditions that my children can reflect back on fondly, I am bringing Sunday dinners back to the O Family, and then, hopefully, to my family. Once a month, we have vowed to get together at one of our houses, alternating hosts, to enjoy a late lunch/early dinner and some quality time with each other on a Sunday afternoon. It all begins at our house on November 8.

I’m excited, not only, for the family time, but for the resurrection of a tradition that I loved so much. My heart wells up with joy every time I think of grandmother. She was an amazing woman who touched my life in a profound way. I only wish she was here to enjoy the dinners with us. I’ll have to write about her here on day. She deserves, not to be thrown in with other topics, but to be the center of attention.

Eating with the Oldies may be next

Plans are springing up all over October. I’m excited and, also, tired just thinking about them. Could it really be that I’m not as young as I used to be? I don’t feel old, but I’m oh so tired on most days. I think I need a supplement or a natural source of energy. Maybe it’s time to give up caffeine? How could I do that to my beloved coffee? It would miss me too much. Any suggestions on finding a wealth of energy without coming crashing down in a blaze of caffeine glory?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This apple looks good enough to eat

There is no question, from the people who love me, that I love food and cooking. It’s funny, as I’ve previously written in this blog, I always told my dad that I would hire a chef because I would be too busy to worry about things like cooking my own food or even learning how to do so. What a funny little teenager!

Now we, food and I, haven’t always gotten along this harmoniously. There was a rough sketchy period between ages 14 and 22 were I would have told you that we were sworn enemies, but I have since put down my weapons, waved my white flag and openly embraced everything there is about food.

I love, not just eating and cooking, but the thrill of walking through the farmer’s market and seeing all the gorgeous produce, flipping endlessly and reading through cookbooks, and the discovery of a new found recipe. I also read plenty of food blogs and love to discover delicious dishes at restaurants, so that I can race home and try to imitate or, perhaps even, make them better. What can I say; I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of food.

Now that fall is here and winter is close on its heels, I am once again embracing my favorite time of year to cook. I love stews, winter squashes, soups, and hearty meals that warm you from the inside out. Who needs a coat when eating meatloaf and mashed potatoes or North woods bean soup? My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

In honor of my love of this time, I am once again making a meal plan and trying to stick to it. This is not a tedious task for me, I thoroughly enjoy rummaging through my notebook of “pulled” (from magazines, blogs, or cooking websites) recipes or opening up and flipping through one of my many, many cookbooks to find a new, and yet undiscovered recipe. In mixing the new with the tried-and-true recipes, I have made a menu for the entire month of October.

I won’t bore you with all of it. I will tell you what’s on the menu for this week at the O home. I do this in hopes that this might inspire someone to pick up a cookbook or ask a friend for a new recipe. I heard recently that most of the at-home chefs only have a repertoire of ten recipes. This is disheartening to me. Now, I know, time is the issue for some and others may consider cooking a chore, but there are too many good foods and recipes out there to limit yourself to ten, even if the ten you make are fantastic. Pick a day a week and try something new. Your stomach will thank you!

On our menu this week:

Monday: Honey-roasted chicken with parsnip fries and mixed green salad with pears, cranberries, and toasted cinnamon and sugar pecans.

Tuesday: Butternut squash soup and chicken salad (made from leftover honey chicken) sandwiches

Wednesday: Leftovers (If there are any!)

Thursday: Sweet Potato and Hominy stew (this has beef in it and it was supposed to be Lebanese Stuffed Eggplants, but my menu got off and I had to adjust)

Friday: A piled high veggie pizza (I plan to use artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, and any other fresh ingredient that I can get my hands on)

Saturday: We’re going out to a friend’s graduation party

Sunday: Chicken confetti casserole, green beans, and rolls

Friction, Baby

After witnessing several different people at my work half-heartedly wash their hands after using the restroom, not only was I appalled, but I thought, “This is an opportunity for teaching.” What is the most important thing about the process of washing your hands? Is it the soap? Is it warm water? No, my friends, it is actually the friction, so dousing your hands under the water without even rubbing them together, isn’t doing much. In this season most dominantly controlled by the flu and its different variations, please don’t be afraid to let your hands get to know each other by feeling each other up as you are washing them. My non-diseased ears, nose, lungs, and throat all thank you.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Blue light special..aisle everywhere

Today was the day of deals! It started at Goodwill. Now I've been a visitor of Goodwill for along time. Recently though, I've been going a lot. There are several reasons why.

First off, you can't beat the price. Secondly, lovely vintage finds that no one else will have. Who wants to be wearing the same thing as someone else? Also, for the sheer delight of finding (like I did today) red pleather pants, a 1980's color block sweater and a spandex tie-dyed turtle neck. I like to think that all those items could tell you one hell of a story, if they could talk, and if I purchase an item, then its story continues.

Now I don't understand why you wouldn't want to help out your community, have a one of a kind item, and spend little and get a lot. I get the germ thing to a certain extent, but that's what hand-sanitizer and washing machines are for, to get out other people's funk. Of course, I was much more of a germ-a-phobe before becoming an RN. I guess you have to get over it when you're cleaning up poop. Now I'm going to tell you my motto for fashion. You know, I love me some fashion! Never, ever rule out a place, regardless of what you think they may have or any stereotypes out there. If you don't go in, then someone else will end up looking cute in something you would have bought had you gone into the store. I go everywhere and anywhere. Go to Goodwill. I digress now.

Okay, so what did I find, you ask? Well, let's see. I got a vintage pair of black boots that rock, Jiffy Cooking cookbook from Better Homes and Gardens, circa 1967, with a lovely message from Staci to Nannie on her 81st birthday (yes, I had to buy it after reading that), an awesome plaid shirt with slightly puffed sleeves from who knows when, a perfect-fit, minus the slightly too short sleeves, black blazer that I have been looking forward to finding, so that I can wear it with a t-shirt and jeans, and a tobacco brown suede belt with a large gold buckle. Grand total, $15.10. It doesn't get much better than that, folks.

I continued my journey onto Big Lots. I won't bore you with the mundane snacks or lotion I picked up, but I will say I picked up the large bamboo bowl that I eyed about two months ago, which was marked down from $30 to $9. Shut your mouth, it's the truth! Next, I went to Ross where I walked away with a short pair of black cowboy looking boots for $9.99. I'm sure Ms. Cheap wishes we were blood-related now.

I swear, I get high off of deals. I felt euphoric in Ross. I almost couldn't concentrate. I found myself aimlessly walking around in a haze. It's pretty amazing to save that much money and to get nice things. Of course, when you have 69 pairs of shoes, how much money are you really saving? All I know is that the shopping gods were smiling on me today, and I'm not coming down for a while.

P.S. I don't want to overwhelm you, but I saved $92 at Kroger yesterday too.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Innocence is the brightest thing

I just read a blog entry about the love between two five year olds. It was absolutely the sweetest thing. My heart almost burst. What I wouldn’t give to trust unconditionally, walk around at recess holding hands and to truly live in each moment without a thousand thoughts in your head. Ah, to be five again, if just for a day.

Ode to Mr. O

Aaron and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary on September 28. It blows my mind that we’ve been married that long. It’s even more mind-blowing that I love him so much still, not that you don’t expect, years down the road, to love someone after you marry them, but I see enough bad relationships around me that I very much appreciate what I have and am grateful for it. We’ve been together almost nine years. That’s almost a decade, people! Reasons that he sends my heart a flutter:
  1. We make up songs and sing everything. Don’t ask me how it started, but we do it without thinking about it. Hayden picked it up from us and started doing it when he lived with us. Everything can be turned into a song!
  2. We are dorks at heart. It’s the truth. We cover up our dorkiness around others, but at home, it all hangs out. The crazy thing is we say the same things. It will be dorky and random, yet we’re saying the same thing. That, in its self, is awe inspiring to us sometimes. We just stop and look at each other like, “Wow. Really?”
  3. I’ll catch him staring at me across the room sometimes and when I look at him, he’ll smile and say, “I love you.” That makes a girl feel pretty special.
  4. He tolerates the following things because he loves me: horror films, my full on ADD energy that will come out at any moment, soup in hot weather, two blankets on the bed during winter, extremely hot showers, indie films, my clothes and shoe obsessions, my love of cooking and attempts at all new recipes, pumpkin spice coffee, my cold feet on his legs at night, my obsession with Christmas and all holidays and birthdays, my never-ending questions about everything at inopportune times, like when he’s in the bathroom, walking the dogs late at night, and my multi-tasking during tv and movie watching. I’m sure there are a ton more, but he loves me for me and that means all my little quirks.
  5. The fact that he’s going to be a great dad. Our nephews, nieces, and friend’s kids all love him. He’ll be right on the ground playing with them. That’s how a good dad should be. He really loves kids and everyone can tell.

No one should settle for someone that doesn't make them utterly happy. I know I'm looking forward to the next seven years and hopefully many more after that.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

And another thing or two

To add to yesterday’s post.

11. Sleeping in just underwear and a tank. Pretty soon, I’ll be bundled from head to toe.
12. Ice cream. I still plan on eating it year round, but it’s so refreshing on a hot day.

Houston, we have lift off

Now, I don’t want to jinx myself, but I have a job interview tomorrow. Yes, your prayers, spells, and meditation have seemed to work. Plus, I’ve been sending the message that, “You will send me the job that I want,” out into the universe. The universe seemed to have answered back with a, “For you, Renee. Yes, I will.” I’m a happy girl. More details to follow.