Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Storm Sandy... The Aftermath

Anyone who lives on the East Coast knows that Storm Sandy had a devastating impact on New Jersey, NYC and parts of Connecticut.

While power was lost for days, if not weeks, many lost their homes from floods and my dad is one of those people.

For a man who lost his wife of 65 years this past April and his home of 57 years in October, he's pretty resilient, but I think it's the ones around him that are feeling the effects of Storm Sandy.

From the day of the Storm, life has been more than chaos for me and some of my siblings. He lived with one sister for 2 weeks before I moved him into temporary housing at a local hotel for another month until a new home was found for him. He's 90 and we were looking for an independent living facility and my sister did an amazing job researching the various places in our area. While I only toured one of the places (the one he didn't choose) I must admit, it's great to see how people are creating places where the elderly can live in a place they can call home and not feel as though they were just transplanted someplace where babysitting is 24 hours/day.

My sister and I helped move him into his place on Sunday and while there are tons of boxes still left to unpack, let me tell you what it took to get him someplace safe. The list includes:

- moving furniture to the 2nd floor prior to the storm
- negotiating with hotels in the area to find the best rate
- meeting with his homeowner's insurance carrier to get some money for wind damage and rain damage
- meeting with FEMA only to get some money for additional living expenses, but being denied because he collected last year and FEMA informed him he needed to get flood insurance
- meeting with plumbers to drain his pipes and winterize the house
- meeting with contractors to gut the house because as much as you try to explain it, a 90 year old man does not get that opening windows would really have paid off. So, instead of having to gut the first floor of a house, you now have to gut 2 floors because the walls were wet and the ceiling in the dining room grew a disgusting mold colony.
- shouting at your 90 year old father because he refuses to wear his hearing aid
- making arrangements with a friend to hire her son and 3 of his friends to help pitch or move items to a storage unit
- arranging for a dumpster
- packing and pitching items from a house my father lived in for 57 years in record time of about 14 hours. I'm truly grateful my mom was not a packrat, but in the last 4 years she was in a nursing home, he managed to save a lot of paper
- having to go through your mother's items that hadn't been looked at since her funeral
- getting sick and going on antibiotics from the respiratory infection I got from mold exposure while packing up his house.
- having another sister throw up for 2 days from same mold exposure and stress of the Thanksgiving weekend
- having arguments with your 90 year old father because he thinks he can just turn on his electric and dry out his house (water was higher than electric sockets)
- having more arguments with your father because he doesn't understand just because there is a flood it doesn't mean your homeowner's policy automatically covers you. YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR THIS COVERAGE.
- having an argument with your father because you ask him to do you one favor and wait for the plumber to winterize the house because you have a full-time job, and while your boss is understanding, there is really only so much time you can take off and he can't even wait for the plumber because he wants to meet his friends. Instead the plumber calls you,you panic because the temperatures are going to drop soon and his pipes might freeze and burst creating an even bigger mess in house. You end up cancelling all your afternoon calls and finally talk to your father who yells at you because he doesn't like the fact that I was upset about his rearranging the plumber's meeting without consulting me and yelling even more at me when I tell him I had to cancel my meetings so he could go have lunch with friends. No thank you. No apology.
- talking for multiple hours with a realtor how to even price the house because it's been in 2 floods in one year
- talking with a real estate attorney to find out if there are any environmental issues that could be a problem when we go to sell
- recognizing that to sell the house $15,000 must be paid to take down the walls to the studs, remove the carpets, replace exterior doors and spray to kill the mold so the structure of the house can remain in tact.
- recognize at some point, while doing all this legwork, your father only respects my 2 sisters and has no issue with dismissing me and the efforts I've been doing to help him.
- recognizing at times his "thank yous" are just lip service
- spending far too much time in Bed, Bath and Beyond and having no desire after 3 shopping carts full of stuff and saving $138 using their coupons how you may never want to step inside any store again. Actually, after this trip, I had to go into Walmart to get some items and had to leave quickly because I was so overwhelmed and it sucked.
- losing all personal time and getting physically sick from the stress and lack of sleep
- having multiple calls daily with the contractor and finding out the City doesn't want to grant you a permit for the demolition within the home to destroy the mold.
- digging up any photos you can find to help get the permit
- having my 2 sisters take my dad to the hospital because he HAD to fix something and went into his garage didn't watch where he was going, tripped and fell flat on his face and broke his nose (he's fine)
- ending up in tears on several occasions because my father has been more than difficult
- realizing that I need space from him
- getting closer to YogaGirl than I ever thought possible and thanking my lucky stars that she stays calm when I can't and vice versa
- hoping that things calm down at work so I don't have to keep working till 8 pm like I have the past several weeks
- looking forward to December 24th because I moved Christmas to the 23rd and I can breathe for a couple of days.

My heart goes out to anyone who suffered, or has suffered from any natural disaster. All the details are crazy enough, but the fighting and other feelings that I've experienced since the storm are more than I wish upon my worst enemy. I've become the ugliest me because of it all and look forward to it all ending.

In addition to the packing and pitching of the house,I appreciate that one sister took my father in during the storm and has been in charge of his medical issues, and that YogaGirl has done so much for my father in terms of finding him his new home, getting the movers to get him in and looking to protect his future financials. She is also paying for repairs to his home so we can put it on the market.

I also appreciate the wonderful people I've met. The claim examiners, the movers, my friend for finding people we needed desperately to help us clear out the house and the amazing contractor who is working with us to keep costs down and manage my father. The realtor and especially my husband who has not only helped out a lot, but has tried to make my life easier by making dinners so I can work late, listen to me cry from sheer frustration with my dad and hugged me when I needed it.

I can also admit this - I've reached my limit and I'm glad I wrote this post. It's been extremely therapeutic. Now...if I could only sleep.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Storm Sandy....

Is it a hurricane? A Nor'easter? Or a reason to eat?

Yes, I know we're going to get slammed and I know that my dad's house will be flooded again. I still have fresh memories of dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irene to help my dad out, but that's not where I'm going with this post.

What's up with the run on milk and Wonder bread at the grocery markets? I understand the bread because you need it for peanut butter sandwiches or to make bread animals when the power goes out and you're bored [note: Wonder bread has the consistency of silly putty and if you don't have kids, Wonder Bread provides endless hours of fun(note/note: If you're from the Wonder company, I want ad royalties if you decide to use this in future marketing campaigns)].

But seriously? I watched the NYC news and they showed the lines formed outside of Trader Joe's and thought: People don't you have any food in the house?

However, I admit, I'm a bit guilty of running to the store. I went to the local CVS (drug store), because I'm sick as a dog and didn't want to run out of Thera-Flu (OMG, I love this product) and kleenex. Sure, I strayed and bought some Cetaphil body soap (another product I love and is more than amazing), but I am low on soap. However, people were just buying things. I overheard 2 women talking and saying that they were picking up cold medicine just in case. In case of what? It's 60 degrees out and I'm assuming you're not going to sit outside your home during the storm so you get a cold. If you're are, well, I think you may need something more than an over-the-counter cold medication. Personally, if these women were taking the last box of Thera-Flu, I would have tackled them for it. And then, I would cough on them to prove my point that I needed it more.

As I was making soup for dinner, I used the last onion and asked my hubby to run out to the grocery store for: onions, celery, deli meat and more kleenex (what the hell was I thinking only buying one box earlier in the day). Milk was not on the list or Wonder bread, but he strayed on the list and brought home tortilla chips, seven layer dip (if you live near Stew Leonard's you'd know their dip is yummy) ice cream and cookies. Again, as I ask...Are storms really an excuse to just eat?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Yup. I'm Going to Go Here.....

I'm sick of political talk.

I'm bombarded with flyers, calls, Facebook posts and people who freely share their opinion even after I have clearly stated I don't like to talk politics. While I appreciate people are passionate about their party (yes, I have friends on both sides of the political spectrum)I was raised that your vote is private.

I read. I keep well informed of the issues, but I will never let on which way I'm voting and that is the beauty of being registered as an "Independent". I've voted across party lines and I'm fine with that.

However, I'm not fine with the constant bashing. I find the people who complain about the bashing are also bashing, but don't recognize it. I think there are ways to express your beliefs without slamming another party's viewpoint. To me, if you have to bash a political party, I am going to tune you out.

Also, if I tell you I'm an Independent and I don't talk about politics, don't tell me you feel the same way, also an Independent, and then spend the next 2 hours really sharing your Republican viewpoint with me.

Again, I respect that people are passionate about their beliefs, but right now, I'd rather hear about your bowel movements than talk politics. I'd rather hear you have to eat bran muffins to get things moving in the morning.

Because I feel so strongly, I am removing myself from all situations where the majority of the conversation is politics. I can't wait for talk of politics turning to annoying family members at the holidsys.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Living the Ordinary Life

Over the past several months, I've been struggling with just being "ordinary". I lead a fairly quiet life, haven't accomplished anything that put others in awe of me or discovered the cure for any horrible disease. However, wherever I turn, I'm bombarded with stories of people who've done something fantastic with their lives.

The more I read about extraordinary people the more I began to question what I was doing with my life. How often have I heard the statement "if you follow your dreams, you'll be successful" and am left thinking is there something wrong with me because I have no dream that drives me to put everything else on the sidelines. To wonder why I don't have that kind of tunnel vision and be focused or driven. Often, I'm left being annoyed with magazines that only profile these people. Once I'd like to see an article about the 'average' person.

While I admire people who do reach their goals, I've come to the realization that there are more people in the world who lead fairly quiet lives and can be happy with their surroundings and I'm one of those everyday people.

I enjoy quiet moments with my husband, love going to bed on freshly clean and ironed sheets, am thrilled when the refrigerator is clean and am thrilled when I finish a project to the best of my ability.

I have many dreams, but will I ever be one of those over-the-top super special people whom articles are written about? Probably not. But, I've finally come to the place where I can read about these people, appreciate their accomplishments and also know I do small but powerful things that make my life just a little bit better..

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Another Reason Why I Should Think Twice About Asking For My Husband's Opinion

Note: I will remember one day to update my profile from unemployed to employed. End of Reminder

Now that I'm back at work for several months, I've been discussing with my husband the household projects that we need to tackle. Because we don't have a family room, our living room doubles as a living room for company, and the place where my husband plants his butt on a nightly basis to watch t.v. (he manages to find the most obscure crap on t.v.). My living room needs some sprucing up and is in desperate need for a new couch.

My couch is 10+ years, but because of its extended use by my hubby, it's more like 30 years old. I told him it was time that we updated the living room with at least a fresh coat of paint and a new couch (eventually, we'll address the hardwood floors that are beaten up and the fireplace). We (which really means my husband) will be painting the room, but after our conversation about the couch, I will be selecting the new couch alone.

Often when I shop for anything for too long, every option I see begins to look the same. It is inevitable that paint colors and fabric swatches begin to blend into one color or one pattern. I wanted to avoid this when selecting a couch and thought if I had my husband come with me, it would make the selection process a breeze. However, reality set in after I mentioned him coming with me to shop for a couch.

I really thought he'd feel thrilled to be included in the process, but I think I was mistaken....or hope I was after our conversation.

When I asked him to come with me, he suggested that we bring the outdoors inside. I don't know what I was thinking, but fell for it. I thought he was going to have a great creative suggestion, but got these 2 suggestions instead:

- why not have a greenish couch with a pattern of wetlands imprinted into the fabric with marshes and ducks; or

- why not have a greenish/brown couch with the forest imprinted into the fabric with deer and other woodland creatures represented.

Take aside my opinion that I think this is just plain ugly, but imagine going to sit down and your butt lands on the face of a raccoon? Eventually, there's no way you wouldn't have a dream that a raccoon is chasing you trying to bite your ass.

Needless to say, I will be on this search alone. I felt out a friend to see if she wanted to come with me, but no luck. I just hope I find this couch quickly.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Untitled - Yet Personal.....

I've been working for several months and still struggle with insomnia. I admit, it's not as often as it was when unemployed, but still, it happens.

Last week I went to dinner with a friend, came home and could not fall asleep. I was a bit anxious and couldn't figure out why. As I was thumbing through the t.v. stations I came upon a documentary on HBO: "Hard Times: Lost on Long Island."*

It followed several people who were hit by the Great Recession. They showed candid conversations with people who were unable to pay bills, feared being evicted, talked about how their friends disappeared because they couldn't handle them being unemployed and other issues that come up when there is no money.

It hit a note. I experienced most everything they went through, but didn't know how to really express myself because I was either frustrated or ashamed because I couldn't find a job and couldn't explain why.

Since getting a job, I realize I relate to why my parents (depression kids -- even though I'm a Gen-X kid) thought cash was king, hid money in a coffee can in the refrigerator and liked having extra money in their checking account.

After watching the documentary, I pinned down why I can't sleep some nights. It's fear. The fear of never feeling financially safe. Realizing that bad things happen to good people and this could happen again. The best I can do is take the right steps towards financial freedom and renew my daily meditation practice to help feel calm.

*As part of taking steps towards financial freedom, I worked with my cable provider to lower my bill to match another offer in the area and, in addition, to lowering my bill, I got HBO free for several months.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I Wonder How Old I'll Be Before I'm No Longer Amazed By What People Do.......

The other night as I was in the waiting room for a focus group I was participating in, I was totally shocked by the actions of this woman in the room.

Just imagine you're sitting in a room with complete strangers. It's totally silent. People are thumbing through magazines and then BLAM 'No Boundaries Lady' enters the room.

This woman is talking loudly on her cell phone not noticing 12 other people are in the room sitting in absolute silence. I've seen where people enter a room while talking, but quickly finish up their conversation. But not this lady. In fact, she got louder and would often pull the phone away to look at a text message she received as she was talking.

It wasn't that she was talking on a cell phone in a room where no else was talking, it is the conversation she was having that made several of us look up at one another in complete shock.

She was talking about someone's child she knew that had just drowned in a pool. Totally oblivious to how loud and how personal she was getting. It was somewhat disturbing to be in the middle of such a conversation. She was clearly upset which led to my ultimate thought/observation: Why are you even here?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Living in My Own Episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive..or Why I know I'll Never Own 43 Cats.......

Here in the U.S., we are slammed with every conceivable t.v. show imaginable. There are shows based upon families with multiple children, others about brides who are bat-shit crazy and truckers who drive long distances on ice in the dead of winter to deliver their shipments. I know I blogged in the past about a show entitled Hoarders and how watching it made me want to clean my house (I later made the connection that the people they profiled typically had multiple cats which are always found dead under stacks of rubble and realize if you own more than 40 cats you'll more than likely end up on the show).

While Hoarders is a show that amazes me (they usually cart away 8 tons of garbage in just 2 days) I've decided there has to be at least 400+ people for every house they profile to ensure it's clean in 48 hours.

Wait... I'm getting distracted. I want to tell you why I feel as though I'm one of the people profiled on Hoarders: Buried Alive (okay, not really because I don't own 43 cats, but I do have a room that is jammed packed).

When I found out I got a job in April and could work out of the house, I asked my husband to make a multi-shelf bookcase. It's July 1st and my dining room is still crammed packed, BUT the bookcase is finally painted. It's not completely dry and the room is covered with drop cloths (which my husband has promised will be put away tonight along with his painting implements and other stuff before I start work tomorrow), but I'm just thrilled it's finally painted.

I admit I'm a bit to blame, but I think his confidence in how long it would take was exceedingly high. I think he was under the impression it would take a day to cut the wood - a couple of hours to put together and a couple of hours to paint the case -- ummmm...NO! My husband is very handy, but I think he may have been watching too many home improvement shows where every home project is completed under 30 minutes.

I have to wait for the shelves to dry before putting things in its place and with the humidity as high as it is in CT, I'm not taking any chances. I'm going to double the normal waiting time before putting the office back together. I'm just hoping things are back in place before the end of the month because I'm starting to lose my mind.

With everything in the room I have to walk through to get to every room in the house, I've noticed how living in clutter, over a really long time, depresses the hell out of me. I can now see how most of the people they profile on the show feel defeated and don't know where to start. I have gone through everything and although the clutter is organized, I still have to maneuver through the room to pass through.

I'm just thankful I don't own 43 cats because I know I may not see them in between the stacks of books and office supplies on and under the table....And as my husband just said: "You don't want to find a flat cat".

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Curiosity Gets the Cat.....

In this scenario, I'm the cat.....

Let me explain. A couple weeks ago, I was staying at my sister's house. I didn't bring my laptop and wanted to check my email so I used hers. My husband sent me a document to read and as I was downloading the document I noticed there was one entitled "dating.xls".

My sister is single and her love of excel made me naturally think it was hers. Never did it enter my head that this document, housed in the download documents, belonged to anyone other than her. Curiosity got the best of me. I mean, why, or better yet, what would one capture in a dating excel spreadsheet.

Well....I was in for a surprise. I opened it up to discover pictures of women. I was saddened that she didn't feel comfortable telling me she was gay. I immediately talked with my husband and realized she would tell me when she was ready and it wasn't my place to bring it up. [Note: I didn't really realize this. He told me to shut my pie hole and when she was ready to tell me she would. I secretly hoped this was sooner than later]. However, I was totally disgusted because the women in the spreadsheet were half her age and the comments were pretty superficial. More about what the girl looked like than the conversation she had with her.

I was dumbfounded. I'm incredibly close with my sister and couldn't believe she was trolling for young women and how shallow she was. Seriously, I thought to myself, what a shallow, dirty letch. Didn't she know the rule about the lowest appropriate dating age? 1/2 your age + 7.

Luckily for me, I only had to hold my tongue for 1 day. The next morning we were talking about the speed of her computer and it came up that she couldn't believe she still had the dating spreadsheet on her computer [Background: A week or so before my mother died, my sister had told me the story she read on the Internet about this guy who tracked his dates on a spreadsheet and downloaded it so she could send it to me. She knew how much I love to goof on her about putting almost every piece of data in an excel spreadsheet. Well, we got distracted with life events and she never sent to me.]

I confessed to downloading the spreadsheet, and then, confessed my thoughts. I told her how I couldn't believe she'd think it okay to be such a letch just because she jumped the fence. She laughed at me.

I guess that's what I get for being curious. I'm glad I only had to wait 24 hours to learn my sister wasn't a creepy, shallow being.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


I'm starting my 4th week in my new job and you know what....after 4 years of being unemployed, it felt as though nothing has changed. Although, my attitude has.

For the past 3 weeks, I've been asked: "How do you like the new job?" Ummmm.. I'm thankful for the position and appreciate that I have a job. However, I've learned some key things about me I've carried into this job and here they are:

1. I work to live, not live to work. I know people who live to work and am thankful there are people on the earth who are wired this way, but it's not me.

2. I don't necessarily believe that everyone has to follow their passion as their career. I LOVE cooking, food, eating food, farmer's markets. BUT, do I want to work long hours as a chef? Nope. I'll just keep having my monthly dinner parties instead. For me, I am thankful I have identified my passion and will always have it to relieve stress.

Okay...the rest are observations....

3. My home office is located in NJ...exactly 4 miles from my last employer's home office (yes, I do find this weird). For the 1st 2 weeks I traveled to NJ (luckily, my boss has no issue with me working remotely), but as I was driving the 94 miles to the office, I discovered NJ has a State car -- the BMW SUV. I swear BMW must have secretly left their SUV in the driveways of NJ residents. As I was driving down the highway, there was one in every lane of the 3 lane highway. The runner-up car was Lexus - any make and model.

4. I'm 46, but am still amazed at the stupid things that come out of people's mouths. Day 1, someone was helping me get my badge. They actually said something like this to me: "You know, I'm only taking you around because I was told to". Really? I knew you weren't doing this out of the kindness of your heart, but sometimes, just sometimes, you need to not share your inner voice. I now know how a deer feels when it comes face-to-face with the bright headlights of a car at night. I believe I said: "Thank you, I appreciate it".

5. I think the IT people either hate me or expect an invitation to my house at Thanksgiving. I believe I've called them more than I've talked with my boss. Yes. I'm tech retarded. But, if it weren't for employees like me, these people wouldn't have a job. So....maybe, they really do love me deep down.

6. There is no such thing as the magic cleaning fairy. If she exists, she doesn't come to my house and am pissed. I guess I forgot I no longer have that extra 9 hours a day to clean one or two rooms. If you're wondering why it takes me 9 hours to clean one or two rooms, well, let me tell you why -- when I clean I have a secret cleaning tool and it's called PRO-CRAS-TI-NATION. Don't mistake it with a feather duster or vacuum, it resembles a couch, a t.v., a computer or book. None of which help me empty a dishwasher.

7. Last, but not least, I love working from home. I'm more focused and can wear yoga pants and slippers to work.

Those are my observations about starting work again -- my other non-work observation is that I watched Celebrity Apprentice this season. Having never watched the season of American Idol Clay Aiken was on, I had never heard him sing. Oh. My. God. Does he have an amazing voice. I was shocked in a very pleasant way.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Yin and Yang

I often heard people refer to the "Yin and Yang" of a situation....or what comes up must come down. I've never really been a big believer that if something good happens it is bound that something bad is soon to follow. For the past several years, my life has been more of the snowball effect -- where one thing after another, after another occurs. However, things recently changed and I'm experiencing the Yin & Yang effect.

I'm one to shy away and shut down when things go awry and my life since last September was progressively going on a downward spiral (which also explains my reason for the lack of blog posts). For a person who takes pride for accomplishing a lot, I had to look in the mirror and admit I was failing and even though I was trying, I had absolutely no control. I swallowed my pride, accepted help from loved ones and made calls I dreaded. Needless to say, I cried more than I want to admit.

It was humbling to say the least. I see things differently than I did 4 years, 3 years and even 1 year ago. I've learned what's important, what I'm truly grateful for, and have observed the behavior of people who became uncomfortable with how my life changed and just avoided me because they couldn't or didn't know what to say or do around me.

May 2nd would mark the 4 year anniversary of being unemployed, but recently things have changed. In a 2 week span, I had an interview which was more like an exchange of ideas, was offered a position, and then helped pull together the details of my mother's funeral.

She died quietly after suffering for years from Alzheimer's and had long forgotten who I was. I think she knew she was not enjoying life in a wheelchair and had decided to stop eating and talking for several days before passing. She would have needed a feeding tube and I'm glad my father never had to witness it. For me, my mother's passing was a blessing. I know her quality of life was not one she would have wanted (or anyone would), and am thankful it didn't get worse.

It's amazing how quickly my life has changed. One thing I know for sure is this: If someone told me I could have the lifestyle I had in 2008 without my husband or go through all the shit I did for the past 4 years and have my husband by my side,I choose my husband hands down. He's always been by side to support me, to prop me up while down, but it was during the week of my mother's funeral where this became obvious. While pulling out my hair with my dad and all the funeral details,he quietly comforted me by being there to handle my dad when I couldn't, and doing whatever I needed even when I couldn't form a simple sentence because there were so many details to attend to. He did what I asked, but more importantly he knew to do things for me even when I didn't know I needed the help.

I start work on Monday. Am I happy? Ummm....Yes. I have to admit, with all the events that happened this month, I am not stressed about starting a new job, but instead I feel very calm. Maybe it is because I felt the highs and lows of emotions in the same period of time.....my definition of the Yin and Yang of a situation.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Anger: The Train You Sometimes Can't Stop

For the past few days (who am I kidding, the past week), I've been angry. I'm angry at the economy, angry at my situation and what sparked all my feelings of anger is a conversation I had with someone.

I thought I was having lunch with an individual I recently met, but was asked some weird questions AND when I met her with my brown bag lunch, she said she was full, but let's still talk and we ate in company's conference room while she brought a pad of paper with her.

I hate deception. I mean I really despise it. I become guarded and won't reveal anything about myself because I feel if you don't have the decency to be honest with me, why should I really share any of my true opinions with you.

Needless to say, someone who I thought I was going to have lunch on a friendly level turned out to a cluster-fuck of a 45 minute period of time.

That was over a week ago, but learned this week she probably was interviewing me.

Annoyed beyond belief.

I believe in networking, but I don't believe I'm always having to be on an interview with everyone and every encounter.

Unfortunately, I'm just really, really angry. And, if one person tells me to let it go, well, I'll kick them. I know I'll let go, but sometimes you need to let your anger pass all the train stops along its route before moving on.


- p.s. It doesn't help that I found out yesterday, my cable bill jumped from $100 to $171 to $291 in 3 months AND AT&T doesn't really make their contact information easily accessible. Right now - AT&T SUCKS!

Winner of What's For Dinner Solution

And Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell wins a copy of What's For Dinner Project!

"Day One:The “What’s for Dinner? " Solution Blogger Project"

Blogger Brian Miller said...

dang so are you making enough for all of us to come over? smiles...sounds delicious to me...smiles.

January 31, 2012 11:17 AM
Blogger P said...

The venison sounds amazing!

Blogger Ponchogirl said...

Ponchogirl here. It is true? Are you offering to give out the coveted brussel sprouts recipe? My mouth is watering! Will you be sharing with others?

Blogger Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

You are so ambitious with that menu plan, and it all sounds truly delicious!

It'll be interesting to hear your take on everything after you implement some of her tips and strategies!

Blogger DB said...

I made yummy brussel sprout slaw yesterday, and roasted them as well in a marinade of olive oil, dijon mustard, and lemon juice. Totally yummy.

And when I read "family meals", I thought I was going to be reading your blogger thoughts on some of your fave meals (not) from childhood. Cod fish cakes. Glob. Potatoes and cheese soup and hot dogs.

Blogger SillyStud said...

so... ummm... no brussell sprout recipe and no day 2-5???

Blogger SillyStud said...

...and does a man have anything to gain from reading this book?

Blogger busanalayali said...

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Blogger La La La Leah said...

HEY you still blog! I miss you! I started another blog. Hope all is well.

Blogger lacochran's evil twin said...

So how goes the experiment?

Blogger Brian Miller said...

hehe a shot glass in the kitchen...sure....smiles...just kidding...hey i def would be down with pot pie...

Blogger Bonnie said..

I like the thought of using the biscuits for the top of the chicken pot pie. I might actually make pot pie now! Thanks for the idea.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bumper Stickers

I know some people love to voice their opinions and thoughts through bumper stickers. Whether it a political view, image of a little boy peeing in the air or announcing you're the proud parent of a honor roll student; I don't.

I rarely notice them, but the other day, as I was behind someone at a stop light, I couldn't help but notice the bumper sticker on the car in front of me. It read: My Dog is My Co-Pilot.

WTH people? Do you not realize no one will want to drive behind you with that bumper sticker? All I could imagine, is that if the driver were on his/her cell and was trying to shift/eat/apply makeup/text/read newspaper/change radio station, but needed to swerve because their hands aren't free, they'd honestly want, their co-pilot, THE DOG, jump into action to grab the wheel.

Call me conservative, but I DON'T WANT THE CAR IN FRONT OF ME BEING DRIVEN BY A DOG. I don't care that you own the world's smartest dog. Dogs should not be driving in real-life. Cartoons yes, but in reality no.

Imagine if they did. The first squirrel/cat/small animal to dart in front of vehicle and you'd be driving on someone's lawn thanks to your co-pilot.

So....I have to ask, what runs through the mind of the person who placed the bumper sticker on their car....I'm thinking it's: "Where's the nearest Taco Bell or White Castle drive-thru, I've got the munchies."

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day Two + One Month......

Okay, so it has taken me forever to post my followup(s) from the dinner experiment. I want everyone to know: I DID DO IT. But, life got in the way and dinner for day 3 became dinner for day 4. I also have to admit, I suck at digital photos, so the pork dish I made with a cream sauce looked like a plate of vomit so I'm only posting the pic for the LOOP experiment.

For the LOOP (Left Overs on Purpose), I made a roasted chicken and used leftover chicken to make potpies. The recipe calls for a phyllo crust, but Pillsbury's biscuits rolled out were perfect for the individual pies without the hassle.

Original Roasted Chicken Dinner:

Chicken Potpie Made with Leftover Chicken:

I must admit, creating a menu plan and planning meals using leftovers really does help reduce costs and food waste (which is huge for me since I volunteer my time and often blog for them on various topics Community Plates).

I did try to write down my brussel sprout recipe for my friend, but didn't realize how hard it is to write a recipe when you do it purely by sight. I have a rough idea, but need to tweak it some. Of course, last time I made the sprouts was in January, but will try again soon so I can finally finish the recipe and keep my promise I made to my friend 2 years ago.

I also wanted to share with you some of my favorite kitchen tools/appliances I can't live without. One is new to the list, and until I became a Pampered Chef consultant (Pampered Chef is a company that sells kitchen tools, dishes and pantry items to make one's life easier in the kitchen -- I'll be writing a post about this because I'm going out of my comfort zone becoming a PC consultant), I never would have added it to my list. Here's my list for favorite tools for cooking:

- A good knife. Splurge on one and splurge on a honing tool (it sharpens the blade of the knife). I can't stress enough how easy your life becomes if you use the proper tool. I recently went to a friend's house who had a beautiful block of knives, but when I went to use one to cut bread, I almost lost my mind. I ended up using my hands to cut the bread into pieces because the knife made no impact. This person doesn't believe she can really cook and I'd understand why if I couldn't get passed the first step.

- A great cutting board - one that doesn't skid around on your table when cutting, and one you can throw in the dishwasher.

- A Pampered Chef Food Chopper (Food Chopper). Not only does this cut down on the time it takes to chop veggies, it also lets you get out your frustrations if you're having a bad day. You put veggies down on board, place food chopper over veggies and press hard and fast on the handle to fine dice.

- Emulsion Blender - great for blending hot soups without having to laddle hot liquids into a blender to puree soups.

- Kitchen Shears - Oh. My. God. I use these to cut up bacon/pancetta slices when a recipe calls for it -- OR -- great for handling boneless chicken breast that haven't been cleaned of fat and you want to cut into bite size pieces.

- A shot glass that has measuring lines on it for metric and US measurements. It's handy for cocktails, but also measuring out the right amount of oil if really try to stay good on your diet.

I use a lot of different items when I cook, but these are the ones I use most everyday and really appreciate.

About the book, a male friend of mine asked if the book would beneficial to a man who cooks. At first, I thought him a bit crazy for asking this question until he explained the information I shared on my last post from the book's description. I openly admit, I posted this information and did not really give it a second glance. I imagine Kathi's target audience are women, but I know many men are the primary cooks in their homes and would benefit from her tips and recipes.

I will be sending a copy of this book to one reader who is interested. I'll select the winner using random.org next Friday (March 9th) and comments from my Day One post and this one will be used to select the winner.

One last note...about the Brussel Sprouts, when the recipe is finally complete, I'll post on this blog. I've turned Brussel Sprout haters into lovers because of this recipe.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day One:The “What’s for Dinner? " Solution Blogger Project

Often, I either receive emails, or hear of opportunities, from authors or companies asking if I will review and endorse their product. A couple years ago, I heard of Kathi Lipp from her agent who posted the question on Twitter: Anyone interested in reviewing this book -- The Marriage Project.

I jumped all over the opportunity even though I didn't know what to expect. Since then, Kathi has written 2 more books (The Me Project and her latest, the What's for Dinner Solution).

I have enjoyed Kathi's books because she has a conversationalist style about her writing that has me quickly turning the pages to read more-and-more.

In her latest book, What's for Dinner Solution, I have to admit, I wasn't sure what she could teach me. According to the book's jacket cover, What's for Dinner Solution "provides a full-kitchen approach for getting dinner on the table every night. After putting her 21-day plan into action, women will:

- save time—with bulk shopping and cooking
- save money—no more last-minute phone calls to the delivery pizza place; and
- save their sanity—forget the last-minute scramble every night and know what they’re having for dinner.

The book includes real recipes from real women, a quick guide to planning meals for a month, the best shopping strategies for saving time and money, and tips on the best ways to use a slow cooker, freezer, and pantry. With Kathi’s book in hand, there’s no more need to hit the panic button."

Hmmmmm.... I was curious because I'm a person who shops by the flyer and uses coupons religiously. Hubby and I are on a tight budget and leftovers are not considered a dirty word in our home. But Kathi, asked if I'd be willing to take on her 5 day challenge. Translation: Not just read and review the book, but put it into action.

For 5 days, I am going to give you a breakdown of what hubby and I are eating this week (I should explain, I didn't menu plan until yesterday, but have started shutting down my computer on Mondays so I'm a day late on today's post). I will also take some pictures, remember to finally write down my brussel sprout recipe for a friend I've promised it to for over 2 years, and create a LOOP meal (Left Overs On Purpose) which, I have to admit, stumped me. Typically, we just cook more than enough and reheat the same meal for our next night's dinner(have I not mentioned, leftovers are loved in our home).

Another day I'm going to share some of my kitchen tips, favorite family meals (with pics) and share with you some of my favorite go-to gadgets. I also have to confess, I have been a big slacker with meal planning and cooking decent meals since the holidays and thought this was the push I needed to get back on track. [Note: I openly admit I learned 2 important things from my 1st marriage that I try to adhere to in my marriage to Bill. 1) Eat dinner together when possible at the dinner table, no t.v. on, background music and catch up day's events; and 2) try to go to bed together. - Sounds small, but trust me, it's not]

Oh yeah, at the end of this project, I will be sending one lucky reader, who wants one, a copy of the book (I'll be using random.org - so no clever comments are needed).

This Week's Menu:

Monday: Zitti with Browned Sausage, Broccoli Rabe and Hot Red Pepper Flakes. Because I doubled up on the broccoli rabe (one of hubby's favorites) I saw no need to make a salad or find a second veggie to serve with this. We served it with garlic bread.

Tuesday: Roasted Chicken, Roasted Potatoes and my Brussel Sprout recipe with bacon, onion, chicken stock and dried cranberries (I will be taking pictures and posting it tomorrow because I'm using the leftover chicken for Thursday's LOOP meal - chicken pot pie). The brussel sprout recipe is very tasty and, if my friend Poncho Girl reads AND comments that she wants this recipe, I'll finally take the time to write it out for her. No comment, no recipe.

Wednesday: Venison Osso Bucco. This is a family favorite (also my recipe). I will be serving it with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach (I looked in my freezer and saw an unusual amount of boxes of frozen creamed spinach, not sure why, but it's on the menu).

Thursday: Chicken Pot Pie. Recipe from "One Dish Meals" from the Culinary Institute of America with one minor change -- I use Pillsbury's Grand Biscuits as my topping for the individual pie's crusts. I can't be bothered with phyllo dough. Too much work and one biscuit rolled out covers one pie perfectly (the recipe and dishes I use, make 6 pot pies).

Friday: Pan Roasted Rosemary Pork Chops with a Dijon Mustard Sauce (making recipe up when I make it on Friday, but it'll have wine, onions and dijon mustard in it). I'll be serving with rice (Martha Stewart's recipe which is still my go-to recipe after making it a couple years back) and collard greens (not sure how I plan on cooking them yet).

Author Bio

Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker of The Husband Project: 21 Days to Loving Your Man—on Purpose and with a Plan, The Marriage Project: 21 Days to More Love and Laughter, and The Me Project: 21 Days to Living the Life You’ve Always Wanted. She is a frequent guest on Focus on the Family and dozens of other radio programs.

Church leaders and women’s ministry directors rely on Kathi to help women move from living out of obligation to enjoying godly passion. She speaks to thousands of women across the US and Canada every year.

Kathi and her husband, Roger, are the parents of four young adults and live in San Jose, California.

Friday, January 27, 2012

National Chocolate Cake Day.....

This post has absolutely no life-altering value to it other than to inform people it's National Chocolate Cake Day, and, allow me the chance to write about something utterly ridiculous.

Personally, I hate chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, but marvel at these new "National" days/months.

Did you know January was National Tea month? If you didn't, do you plan on rushing out to your local tea shop or grocery store and stock up? [If you do, please let me know. I'd love to know I can influence someone].

I have to admit, I am a tea drinker. Coffee isn't my thing, but because so many people do, I bet it gets multiple months, if not an entire year.

The thing about these 'national' days for random items is that I want to know who gets to declare January 27th as National Chocolate Cake Day? Why do I want to know? Because I want that power (especially, if you get paid to make such declarations).

I'd also love to have the job where I get to name lipsticks, paint colors and be the person at OPI that comes up with their great nail polish names. Does anyone know how I score this type of job? I've love to know.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Titles Without Substance.....

Yesterday, I met a friend of mine for lunch who I haven't seen in quite some time. She started with a new company and has been adjusting to the new job and the new culture of the company. It's an unique culture -- some of it very good and not seen in many companies today. They hold people accountable and believe in letting their employees question decisions other employees make no matter their title.

Personally, I find that attitude somewhat refreshing. Yes, it may put some people on the defensive mode when answering a question, but it's good when people can articulate why they have done something as it opens a discussion to teach others or have others offer advice which may change the way you do things.

Over the years, I've worked for both start-ups and large corporations. The 'team' mentality has been shoved down my throat so far, I remember telling the CEO of a start-up I had screwed up and he corrected me and said "we screwed up, there is no 'I' in team". I politely corrected him and said "I'm sorry, I disagree. I believe in bettering the team, but in order to have our team be successful, I need to accept the accountability of the problem I created so we can solve the situation."

As the years went on, I witnessed companies where employees bought their clothes at the teflon store. Nothing ever stuck to them. No one ever created a problem, said the wrong thing, they just finger pointed. It's frustrating.

Maybe I also enjoy the philosophy of my friend's company because often people are given titles/positions they are not ready for. Don't get me wrong, I do believe every job has a learning curve. I believe in promoting within, but also believe people should be promoted because they are capable of handling the position and bring something to it. I guess I believe in people paying their dues.

A company where co-workers question your choices would easily weed out the employees who aren't qualified for the position. I recently asked someone a straight forward question about their position and what they were doing to improve a situation. I was looking for their solution to the problem and was told "we want to work smarter not harder".


Any seasoned professional would understand this is a given when creating a solution, and know this is not an answer and to NEVER include this phrasing when answering a direct question (although, I'm guessing you might include this phrasing if you're in politics).

I wonder how quickly this person would crumble at my friend's company? They'd probably be eaten alive.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Winner of My First Giveaway of 2012.......

The winner of my first giveaway of 2012 is Dan Jones!

Dan, your comment cracked me up and I will be forwarding your name and address to the publishing to receive your copy of Everyday Happy Herbivore!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My First Giveaway of 2012

In my last post I interviewed Lindsay Nixon, author of the vegan cookbook, Everyday Happy Herbivore. As a person who never thought of going vegan until December 2010, I really find Lindsay's cookbooks friendly for the everyday meat-eater to make the transition to a plant-based diet easy.

After my post, I was excited when I received an email from BenBella Books offering me the opportunity to giveaway the Everyday Happy Herbivore to one of my readers who live in the U.S. or Canada.

So here's how I'm running the contest. Leave me a comment telling me why you think you should win this cookbook. I'll run this contest until January 20th and the most creative comment (you can leave one message per day) will win.

I know, I know, many people run a contest by using random.org to generate a winner, but I want to read some fun, creative comments.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this Chocolate Mug Cake recipe:

Chocolate Mug Cake | serves 1

Chocolate cake? check. Single-Serving? check. Made nearly instantly? Oh yeah! This whole-wheat chocolate cake goes from flour to in your mouth in under 5 minutes.

4 tbsp white whole wheat flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp nondairy milk
¼+ cup unsweetened applesauce
vanilla extract
dash cinnamon
2-3 tbsp vegan chocolate chips

In a small bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and cinnamon together, set aside. For a really sweet cake, add more sugar. In another small bowl, whisk ¼ cup applesauce, nondairy milk, and a drop or two of vanilla extract together. Pour wet into dry, then add chips, stirring to combine. Add another 1-2 tbsp of applesauce, until the batter is wet and resembles regular cake batter. Pour batter into a coffee cup, and microwave for three minutes (at 1000 watts).

Lindsay S. Nixon is a rising star in the culinary world, praised for her ability to use everyday ingredients to create healthy, low fat recipes that taste just as delicious as they are nutritious. Lindsay's recipes have been featured in Vegetarian Times, Women's Health Magazine and on The Huffington Post. Lindsay is also a consulting chef at La Samanna, a luxury resort and four-star restaurant in the French West Indies. You can learn more about Lindsay and sample some of her recipes at Happy Herbivore.