Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Delicious Casserole

I decided I wanted to cook beans, shrimp and kale, but I knew I did not want a soup recipe since we are a little souped out in my house. After seeing some typical recipes including using pasta, I was lucky enough to find this unexpected casserole recipe posted below. It won the seal of approval by my two men and I can't wait to actually make it again because it was that delicious.

Shrimp, Kale and Cannellini Bean Casserole from The Perfect Pantry.

I did not have Parmigiano cheese so I used what I had on hand which was extra sharp cheddar cheese.
We did have the wine and had a glass to share as well. :)


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wintry Wednesday

Things are much better here. Let me just say I am very fortunate to have the husband I have. I could not imagine being married to someone that I was not able to talk to or be honest with. My writing will continue, just not yet. There a few things that need to be taken care of that have been stalled here due to lack of time or lack of interest. Once that is done, the writing can commence!!

Just got informed that my 2005 Saturn ION is part of a massive recall. Good times there. Seems there is a slight ignition problem. If your key chain is a touch too heavy, the key can turn into the off position, causing car to shut down and you get in an accident without the luxury of having your airbags work because the car is technically "off". Apparently they knew of this issue for about TEN YEARS and yet did nothing. On my I can see the lawsuits now.

It is snowing. Again. I know it is still winter, but man, I am so done. Like, done beyond done. I do admit,  as I look out the window, the slow flurry is pretty. But I won't miss the snow when it is gone. Of course we will probably end up with a massive heatwave this summer and I will be begging for snow. Mother Nature, she is a funny gal.

I also am a little tired of fall/winter recipes. My body is pretty much gearing up for the switch to Spring/Summer foods and I admit, I am giddy. Sad to be tired of lentil soup isn't it? LOL I prefer to eat seasonally and we joined the CSA again. Yooray! So when we get kale and beets in our box, I think I am going to try making this pizza from Dishing Up The Dirt.

Beet Pesto and Kale Pizza

The idea of beet pesto sounds so delicious to me. I adore beets. Luckily my hubby hates them so it is a complete gorge fest for me. Tally ho!!

Also, if anyone is feeling way ambitious, these Paleo "Nutella" Fudge Squares from Kitchen Vignettes by Aube look delicious.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Tomorrow Never Knows

Since I am still in a funk, accepting my decision is like going through the stages of grief a la K├╝bler-Ross, I have been listening to a lot of music. One song in particular is easing my mind and that would be The Beatles tune: Tomorrow Never Knows. Not everyone loves The Beatles, but I have found some of their less mainstreamy songs to the be the ones that reach out and heal you. Music is my way of coping and all types of songs and genres are being blasted through my computer. Good thing I am not a heavy drinker.



Sunday, February 23, 2014

I Quit

The gym and I have parted ways. I went in yesterday and worked out for the first time in months and while it felt fantastic, I still had to quit. They give you three months to keep going then that is it so I have until May 5. I did it to save us some money but in a weird way, it made me feel pretty crappy.
All my life I have been a procrastinator, a dreamer, a quitter, a half asser. Sometimes I would follow through and feel good about my achievements, those A's I got in anatomy and algebra class will remain my crowning achievements. Most of the time, be it school, a business or an attempted career, I could give it my all and then just fall short. I blame no one but myself here.

Whether it was bad timing due to the job market or no customers or just naive grandiose thinking, things did not go as planned.
I remember believing my handmade, one of a kind jewelry business was going to do so well that we would be featured in magazines and stores. We tried all sorts of shows in NJ and out of state. We tried getting into Henri Bendel at their open call. Nothing. Then the friendship with my business partner unraveled and that pretty much ended the business. That and the fact that our idiotic accountant never filed quarterly reports with the IRS who we owed back taxes to. Good times.

After going back to work as an Executive Assistant, I became a certified oncology massage therapist and I loved it and could not wait to get a job in a hospital. Yeah. This was all just as the economy imploded and hospitals had no money to give us and rather we volunteer our time. I did volunteer in hospice for awhile, but making money to pay back school loans was a priority. I had a few private clients, but not enough to sustain my business. NJ then made it so you had to be registered with the state. Well, I had no money to register let alone take continuing ed courses. My supportive husband was already paying for the mortgage and bills so what else could I ask for? I began applying for any jobs I could get and got no calls. Then I got pregnant and that changed everything.

As for my writing, well, I have been writing stories for years and Thank the Baby Jesus my writing has improved, but writing takes concentration, time and effort. Not so easy when one has a full time job as a mom, wife and homemaker. Even though I have put in a lot of time and effort to these short stories and books, I suddenly feel like perhaps this is not going to go anywhere either. I have become more concerned with needing to bring in money to the household. I don't contribute anything financially even though I have sold some knit stuff to help bring in a little cash. It is not the same as getting a full paycheck. No, my husband has not demanded or asked me to go back to work, this is all on me. Trust me, I can self flagellate with the best of them.

Creative people are tough on themselves. We have to be because the world does not care for us or appreciate us as we are seen as lazy dreamers. Unless we make money then we are worth garnering praise. Look at the Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters, Dali, Nora Roberts, Shakespeare, Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Neil Gaiman, LeBron James, yes I consider some athletes artists, these are people who are at the pinnacle of their creative genres and the public adores them. But at the end of the day, the liberal arts major who wants to write a book is seen as a waste of space in society. I have a real problem with this country's current obsession with all things STEM, but that is another post.

Writers need time to create and well without that, you can't. Trust me, I sometimes work while my son sits there playing and then he wants me to play with him and what kind of schnook would I be if I ignored him to finish a scene? Instead I put the computer to the side and enjoy my son. I do not mind disruptions, but they happen so frequently I sometimes only get a few lines done. There are times I do not write a word for weeks. This of course leads me to snapping at some point like some crazy lunatic screaming that no one understands how I just want an hour to write, while my son and husband wonder who this woman is and why does she have five heads? I owe them more apologies than anyone can fathom.

This brings me to the very painful realization that writing may not be a smart pursuit at this time. This hurts. Hurts me to the bone. Kills me actually. Since 2008, I have tried to get numerous short stories and two novels published. Like a lot of people starting out I got rejections and I am proud of those rejections, but writing is not for the faint of heart and I am sad to say I think the struggle has finally defeated me. I can add it to my failure bin along with music, jewelry making, massage, and graphic design. There is nothing wrong with failure, we grow from it really, but it seems I believe myself more creatively bent than I actually am. That is okay, it is just a reality that hits lots of folks at one time or another. One of the jobs I am good at is being an Administrative/Executive Assistant and so that is what I need to accept. On a side note, I don't want to go back to an office environment just yet as I have no desire to put my child in daycare, but I am looking into virtual assistant jobs.
Maybe one day when my little one is in school, I can go back to writing. In the meantime, I may need to let my third novel languish in limbo. It rips my heart out to even type that, but what other choice do I have unless I start forgoing sleep altogether to get the damn book done? Yes, George R R Martin takes years to write a novel, but hello, he is George R R Martin. He gets a pass and rightfully so, he earned the damn thing. As for me, I don't know. I don't know if I can make the decision to just stop writing just yet, but I think I have to.

My mother, who could be quite a pistol, once said there is no good in being a jack of all trades and master of none. Point taken mom, just a little late.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Cabbage Salad Recipe and a Wine Bar

I think I may have posted this recipe before, but so what? LOL
I made a stunner of a cabbage salad yesterday. I did not have all the ingredients so took the posters advice and just did carrots, cabbage and chickpeas. I also lacked limes so used lemons instead for the dijon-lime dressing. Dare I say it was quite yummy and a lovely accompaniment to my Basic Salmon Loaf dish.

Cabbage Salad with Dijon Lime Dressing

On a side note, my husband is converting a closet into a wine bar. One of the more entertaining things about my husband is if I happen to mention something along the lines of, "Hey I was looking at Houzz and saw this neat banquette seating area." He will begin to measure things before I can say, "That we can do one day." Or "It looks nice, but we do not need one, etc."
Before we bought a house he had also talked about one day getting more hands on with tools. (Get all of your minds out of the gutter.) And I have to say, the man is becoming skilled. Hence why I like to show him things I myself would like to do, but can't. This basically comes down to me lacking any desire to master a miter saw or the whole measure ten times cut once concept.
Anyway, one of the positives about living with someone who aspires to become more handy is that they can tackle things without having to call some in every single time.

And while we are on the subject of building, here are a few pictures after our room was done before anything was really moved in. The transom window was the contractors idea to let more light in and it is a favorite feature. The ceiling was raised as well which adds a nice touch and that small door is to a crawl space he uncovered when he took down the wall! I will get a shot of that for you to see.
FYI - The colors are much better in person, but you get the idea. And yes, I asked for the radiator to be painted orange.

There used to be a closet where the door to the room is and removing it made such a difference.

I will try to get newer photos and no you are not crazy, we have three colors in the room. Of course we have no pictures on the walls yet because my husband does not want to put holes into them just yet. I know what he means, but at some point, I am going to need some art work because blank walls make me twitch. I think a plant would be a nice addition in here as well. We shall see.

Have a lovely weekend!


Thursday, February 20, 2014

DIY Laundry Room For Only $157?? Nice Job!

In my mind I am a brilliant DIY-er. In the real world, not so much. I can knit, I can somewhat sew but if you asked me to build a table I don't think I would be doing that with much grace. What I am really very good at is finding projects for my husband who aspires to build furniture one day and feed that desire as much as I can. Not always a solid plan, but trust me, the man has come a long way since we bought our home. Whenever I come across something I think he can handle I email it to him and suggest he file it away. I will definitely post pictures of the projects he has undertaken so far. This is all due to my hunting and gathering of things that I myself could probably make, but prefer to delegate to the man who is eager to improve his building skills.

Now, I do love a good DIY blog and there seems to be quite a healthy amount out there if one is in need. ViewAlongTheWay came to my attention and at first glance I was like, "Ugh, another person with serious skills who can take a glue gun and a piece of ribbon and somehow create slip covers for five chairs. I do not need to feel inadequate by some living room MacGyver so no thanks." Then I began to browse. I have to say, there are some really well done projects here and I applaud the gumption this couple has. One of the rooms I really liked was her laundry room redo and if I had a laundry room there is no doubt I would be in there all inspired, ripping stuff down, painting and whatnot. I can't say I would have had the patience this woman had when stenciling her laundry room wall, but she did a stunning job. And her husband made the pendant light. MADE IT. Rock on.

For the whole DIY process and cost break down, read here.

How do you not love folks who shop the outlets and sale sections of design stores to get the high end stuff for 90% off?? That is totally talking my language when it comes to deals.

I cannot guarantee I will be wielding a saw anytime soon. Does one wield such a thing? Perhaps a hammer is more appropriate, but I will always be on the lookout for affordable ideas to implement in my own home. Besides, my hubby needs an extra exciting project or two. ;-)


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

When is Good Design, Bad?

Like a lot of people, I enjoy looking at beautiful things. Whether it is a home or a photograph of a secluded spot somewhere or a piece of pottery someone made, I can appreciate how things can enhance the world around it and make it prettier or even at times ugly.
Be that as it may, one thing I have noticed and do not like is how a lot of home design sites are pushing the unattainable.

I know, this is nothing new, but it is getting out of hand.

Recently on Houzz, what I consider a high end design site if there ever was one, there was a feature on a twenty something couple that bought a house in San Francisco. Right there, that one bit of information told me we were dealing with tech money. This young couple had no furniture so they hired an interior designer to fill their space in four days and give it life. Now while the designer did a superb job, which you can see here, I found myself troubled by young people who stated they have no books. Listen, I like my Kindle, but holding a book is way better in my opinion.  But they do read, so what do I care how they access it. What interested me most is that someone stated that they approached a personal private space as a commodity. I responded to that as such:
"Of course they approached it as a commodity. While the designers work is truly superb, and I am sure they consulted with him in regards to their tastes,  it is San Fran and I would bet the young couple are tech money. That dominant industry is all about outsourcing and while their generous means give other fields work opportunities, I wonder just how many of those folks can do anything without some kind of app."

I know it comes across as seriously bitchy, but let's face it, we have a pretty decent sized group of young people with massive equity. These are not the trust fund babies of the Gilded Age. These are kids who lucked out by being in the right place at the right time. Whether they started some company or created an app, some twenty five year olds are worth millions on paper. (Dear God I hope they all have sound financial advisors.) And some of these young people are socially awkward and wired to their iPhone or Android at all time.  Vanderbilts these are not. So yes, they need to hire people to do pretty much anything and everything.
I can hear someone say, "If they can afford to have someone tie their shoes, why shouldn't they?"
You are right, why not? But I also think it is sad. Maybe it is the mom in me or maybe I wish I had their cash so I could just wave my hand and go, "Yes, do fix that bathroom and get it right in five days. Chop, chop."

One of my favorite things is how people play it off nicely in comments. "Who cares how much it cost, it is amazing!" OR "You should be inspired by such elegance." Or "I live in a studio, but this gives me lots of ideas."

I call bollocks.

There is no way in God's Grand Heaven a 10,000sq foot home helps you out design wise in a 250sq ft apartment unless there is a pillow you just have to have.

And this to me is what makes good design, bad. Sure I want to check out someone's $50,000 walk in closet, but not in every single posting.  This is where a lot of the home design sites are starting to go wrong. Apartment Therapy has begun doing this more and more and quite frankly, it is a drag. Without fail there has been a growing amount of houses and apartments posted there from some pricey areas here in the States. Yes it is nice now and then, but all the time? No thank you.

The whole thing makes me think of a few of the frugal blogs I read and how this kind of voyeurism/home porn encourages discontent and poor decision making when it comes to consumerism. We get sucked into the whole Keeping Up With The Joneses mentality, forgetting some of these folks have the means when we may not. Inspiration is subjective, but when you can only find things that are out of reach, then what? I don't know. The content of these sites are becoming a little pricey and while I don't want to look away, I feel like I am being pushed out the door.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Strep Throat

Yup. That is what I have. I had woken up this morning with my throat in even more pain, a headache and a little dizzy. I knew something was not right. Called the doctor's office, got an early appointment and voila! Interestingly enough I have no fever, or pus in my throat or chills. Just a really raw and red throat. So sexy. I am on a fabulous regimen of Amoxicillin twice a day for ten days and Mucinex D twice a day for ten days. Good times. I am really, really, really hoping that the little man and the big man do not get this. We really do our best to stay healthy in my family, but hey, germs can't help but get passed around. So fingers crossed and prayers said. Plus it looks like I am definitely the walking petri dish, not the child. LOL

I went to CVS to get my prescriptions filled. I asked the pharmacy cashier if he needed my prescription card but he said no. I figured  it was in the system already then. When it was time to pay, I thought the price of 72.99 for the Amoxil was a touch high. When I relayed this to the hubby he was adamant that something was amiss. I was annoyed, hey, I don't feel well, but decided to call CVS Caremark, they run out prescription plan, to confirm price of drug. Lo and behold it should have been a mere $8.00. So my husband went to CVS to get refunded and we found out we made the boo boo. When the company he works from was spun off from the Mother Company, all the information in the system was attached to the Mother Ship and expired. Totally our bad, but they fixed it and updated everything so all is well.

The experience made me wonder how anyone without insurance can afford Amoxil or anything else like it because to get well is not cheap. I have heard of certain monthly prescriptions costing hundreds and hundreds of dollars. If you don't have insurance, how can you survive? Hell, even with insurance you sometimes can't survive. We even have an HSA, health savings account, to help with the unexpected extras.
If you live in a country with socialized medicine, aren't you glad you don't have to deal with this crap?

I am now lying down, about to watch The Heiress (trailer below). And to amuse you all, it is snowing here again. Mother Nature is a bitch lately.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

16 inches and Spicy Roasted Parsnip Soup

That is now the newest total of snow we should be getting here in Northwest NJ.


Here is what it looks like outside right now.

                                                                          Thanks Google for the effect, but not needed right now.
Note the beautiful Cardinal hanging out in the tree.

This is our porch. This storm brings some nice winds with it today.

And here is a shot from our back door. Please note that my bird bath has snow half way up to the top and will most likely get covered completely by end of storm.

So folks, that is it. Here we are, in a honest to goodness winter storm. My son is watching "Curious George" and "Motor Week", my husband is working from home, I am knitting and wondering if I have a sore throat and stuffiness because I may be getting sick or because I have radiators which give us lovely dry heat. All in all, a good day. 

For lunch I am having leftovers. A delicious spicy roasted parsnip soup made from a recipe I found on BBC GoodFood. I added three carrots and extra cumin because that is how we roll. A very satisfying, tasty soup.

And to everyone, whatever weather you are dealing with, have a very safe day. 


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Leave Her To Heaven

I had never heard of this movie until I read about it on Hooked on Houses. So I did a little search and found it on YouTube.


I kid you not when I say that is is a fabulous and intense film. Gene Tierney is beautiful and beautifully psychopathic. I was mesmerized by her every single time she was on the screen. Everyone in the film was great and not for nothing, why have I never seen or heard of Jeanne Crain before?? She was terrific as Ruth and is also a serious looker.

Apparently this movie is based off the novel of the same name which I may need to add to my long list of things to read one day.

So my dears, grab a drink, sit back and enjoy this superb film noir any way you can get hold of it.  Here is the trailer.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hello, Hello

Yes, yes, a big chubby hello on this sunny, snow free Tuesday! I say that because on Thursday we may getting up to 12 inches of snow.
Welcome to the Northeast bitches.

Anyway, in spite of us all getting up early this morning thanks to one senile kitty vomiting, then meowing to be fed and replace what she had just purged, I have chosen to be chipper. My son, well, he is working on that.

The swimming lesson went okay. He loved being in the water until we had to do actual swimming movements  and practice safety techniques. He cried out "No", cried and clung to me. I decided we would persevere because he would probably eventually enjoy himself, at least I hope. Later on I realized this was the first time he had ever been in an actual pool. The teacher said "hello" to him and scooped him into the pool. He liked that, but he did not like putting on the necessary floaty devices. We figured it was a good thing they just have the kids dive in so to speak. We have a total of eight lessons and have my fingers crossed that he begins to enjoy it more. Though I think this Thursday may be cancelled due to Mother Nature's need to add more snow to the ground.

This past Sunday we went into NYC and met up with some friends to attend an event called Baby Loves Disco. It was fun, but I would have liked it if they had played more disco and 80's music as opposed to the pop music of today because honestly, I do not know a lot of it and what I do know, I hate. I do not want to ever hear "Call Me Maybe" ever again. Thank you music overlords.

And now for some random stuff.

I could go for a nice Chocolate-Almond Oatmeal Smoothie. Perhaps with a shot of brandy? haha

Craftsnob has a DIY Pillow idea I really like and wish I could attempt. Like most crafty folks I have fabric just waiting to be used and my craft queue and ambition is greater than what I can actually get done. While I know this about myself, I will still take on things I cannot finish in a timely fashion. (Hello blanket, curtain liner and novel.) I am trying to find that happy medium so I try to look at it as a good thing that I am trying to gain some skills. Plus I know it will all get done as long as I am not attempting something crazy like reupholstering my own wing back chairs. Imagine the 11 yards of fabric needed for such a job draped everywhere for months....ugh LOL.

Little Inspiration had me at No Sew. Pick from 50 no sew projects and have some crafty fun. This from the woman who won't stop adding to her list though she already publicly claimed she should not do so. Oh the insanity.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Just Another Snow Day

Yes I know it is winter, but this snow and ice shite has got to stop.  

This was what it looked like out my one window yesterday. You can't see it, but it was raining when I took this picture. Things warmed up, but then got cold again so that everything that melted refroze. 
I admit it does look somewhat pretty, even though the plants are all bent over from the weight of the ice. 

I had to dig a few pathways for our little Miss there so she can do her business.  Luckily she has loved the snow since she was a pup so taking her outside is not a hassle. We just really have to make sure she does not ice skate across the patio. Which is sort of funny ;-)

I got my seeds a few weeks ago from Victory Seed Company and I cannot wait for spring. I may have said this already and I will keep saying it until I see the first crocus.

Oh, because I am a masochist of sorts, I am taking our little man to his first swim lesson today. That's right, in February. They claim their indoor pool is 88 degrees so here is to hoping. Of course when I booked these lesson I completely ignored the fact that I would have to be getting into the pool with my son. What? I have to wear a swimsuit? Now? You must be joking. To solve this awkward dilemma, I will be wearing a t-shirt over my swimsuit. Not because I have body issues, who doesn't really?, but because my top is a little low cut and I have no business flashing small children and their parents my bodacious ta-tas.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Working Out At Home

I have a gym membership. I used to go three times a week. Even more before and when I was pregnant. Ever since we had construction done on our house, which started back in late September, beginning of October, I found it difficult to get there so I just stopped going pretty much.

Now, heart disease and cancer are the top dogs in my genetic makeup so I need to do whatever I can to keep those from inevitability happening sooner than they should, if they even are going to occur. I also actually care about what shape I am in so I needed to search for a solution.

I figured I would work out at home, but was not sure how to proceed. I started with looking up old work out videos I had used back in the day. (Hey Cindy Crawford!) But I wanted something else. Lo and behold, I came across a choice channel on YouTube called Lionsgate BeFit filled with what looks like thousands of work out videos. Oh yes, it has been a godsend of sorts. I can wake up, go downstairs to the living room and work out for as long as I want doing whatever program suits my fancy that morning.

Amen to the that.

I wanted to share a few of the videos I use in case you are feeling inspired or want to use it in addition to any workout program you already follow. I love that it is free, but I would be willing to pay a fee if it ever came to that. In sounding cliche, your health and well being are worth it. I just wish most insurance plans would cover this because this is preventative medicine and heck, wouldn't you rather I take care of my body instead of paying for a knee replacement or something???

Denise Austin is queen of the workouts and she has these awesome 5 minute workouts that I love to use. This is the Ab Ripper one and I curse her every time.

Jessica Smith is another fun work out gal. Her cardio core flow is one of my favorites along with this 10 Minute Interval Walk which is a nice way to begin your workout.

Yoga is not for everyone. Sometimes it is not even for me. LOL I have incredibly tight hamstrings, my hips are off and my tailbone is sore. I am a mess. I do this deep release workout and I usually only do the first 15-20 minutes of it. I am by no means as flexible as the instructor, but even a light stretch feels fantastic.

Rainbeau Mars, yes that is her name, is very hippy and very into her practice which makes tying oneself into a pretzel more fun.

I love Sadie and I pretty much tell her to piss off whenever I do this workout. There are a few moves I am not able to really do so I just hang in Downward Facing Dog.

Esther is pretty chill and I like her channel a lot. This neck and shoulder stretch is intense, but just take it easy with yourself and honestly, when done, your shoulders will no longer be trying to attach themselves to your ears.

Let me reiterate, yoga is not for everyone. Do not try to force your body into some of the poses these folks do, especially if you have never done yoga before. They have been practicing a very long time and have the flexibility. Yoga is about relaxing and stretching, not competing until your body parts snap or fall off. There are tons of beginner yoga videos on the channel by the people I am mentioning as well as folks like Jillian Michaels, Mandy Ingber and more. Best advice I can give is watch the videos first before using them to see if it is something you would like to try and can do at your level. Same holds true for cardio, kickboxing, etc.

Don't think I am against gyms or classes, that is not the case. It is all about options these days and when people have to cut gym fees out to save money, there are wonderful alternatives out there.  On Demand has exercise videos, as does Netflix, so you can take care of you without worrying if you will make it to some location before the place closes or feeling bad if you miss a class.

It is a winter wonderland outside again. We had 45 degree weather all weekend and now we are in the middle of a snow storm. God I cannot wait until spring!!