No wonder I've been burning out.
So I'm taking the 20-30th of November off and December 14th-31st off.
We moved our plans around a bit because Nick ended up having to go to France for work and won't be back for Thanksgiving. So Instead of going to Key West for Thanksgiving I'm spending it with my family here, and then He gets back on Friday, We'll spend the weekend here with the pups and then Head to Key West on Monday for 3 or 4 days.
It kind of works out this way. My brother is going to watch the dogs while we are gone. I'm also excited to be cooking some things for Thanksgiving. Including a cherry pie.
I'm taking some time during my vacation to reorganize my art studio/ computer room. Spend some real quality time with my dogs and family. and just really enjoy the time off from the hectic, stressful, corporate world of politics that is my job. Don't get me wrong I love my work, and my boss is the best boss I've ever had. She is amazing, inspiring, and she works hard to get you were you want to be. But with all the corporate restructuring that is at a CEO, VP level we've been hit with some blows, and some departments, people, and groups get frantic and that is where the politic drama starts to fly in.
I'm just hoping that this vacation and the end of the year will break way to a wonderful new year ahead. Feeling refreshed.
I've come back. - Long story short, I just wasn't getting what I wanted out of other blogging platforms and communities. While LJ has wavered and some friends have left I'm giving another whack at it. I've been around , occasionally reading and commenting on other post that have kept up here.
I'll be cleaning up my little space shortly. I'm cleaning out my friends list of friends who no longer have an account, defunct communities. I will not be getting rid of friends and I'd actually like to expand. So if you are reading this and think someone may like to be my friend let me know.
So Why did I come back. I missed the friendships, the level of personal experiences shared. I loved that I could write what ever I felt like and didn't have to worry about being PC or trying to uphold a level of professionalism that comes with having a corporate job. You know all those things you deal with on Face Book.
In short I missed this odd, open minded community.
So I might as well recap what has happened since I've been gone.
I was employed by a software company for a little over 3 years. They contracted me out to work for a large hotel chain servicing all of their websites. After which the Hotel chain employed me full time. There are some neat perks, especially discount rates on hotels all over the country and world. Note, that work keeps me pretty busy so I haven't done much of that. but I do have vacation coming up. (more on that later)
I Got Married
The same guy I was with for all those years, I am proud and happy to now call Nick my Husband. We eloped in New York City, in Manhattan back in January 2009. I now have a BirthdayVersary as my Birthday is Jan 22nd and My wedding Anniversary is Jan 23rd. Easy to remember right? My parents threw a big reception for us when we got back.
Cleo is still Cleo
Every bit of a trouble maker as before. She's 8 now, but Miniature Pinschers don't slow down that much. She has grown into a wonderful mature MinPin. She is in good health, and never ceases to amaze me with her intelligence and manipulative ways. She has me trained I think.
We brought a Pumpkin into our home
Pretty recently we adopted another dog from a good friend of ours. Our friend rescued her years ago but in their current condition and with their son (Bam-Bam), she was not doing well. The son was too hard on the 5 pound dog and when she needed someone to take her in we decided to. Her name is Pumpkin. No one knows for sure but she looks like a Doxie-Pin, a cross between a MinPin and a dachshund . Cute as can be and with a heart of gold she is a great addition to our family.
Cleo had only child syndrome but is now doing much better at sharing. Each day they get closer and closer.
There has been Family Drama
I'll go into more detail with this later but as we are heading into the Thanksgiving holidays, I will tell you a story about a thanksgiving past. My mom's side of the family was together for Thanksgiving when some arguing broke out, then some people ended up getting feelings hurt, crying and leaving. As kids we swore that we would never have that drama and that we would all remain friends. With that pact we initiated an Annual Thanksgiving after party that went on for years. This was a pact among brothers, sisters, cousins, and friends. and While I'm happy to report that my sister and my brothers are great friends, my mom and dad are doing awesome. I can not say there hasn't been family drama else where in that pact.
I Became an Aunt
My sister became a mom and gave birth to the cutest, sweetest, most intelligent kid on the planet, Alex. Some might call him an old soul, some may call him a sponge. He picks up so much. At age 1, it was clear this kid was not a regular kid. He wanted to color, and paint. At 2 he was putting words together and learning to read signs. He graduated from coloring with markers and crayons to painting with water colors. He was stacking like items together, he already knows all of his colors, what primary colors mix together make secondary, he counts. He uses play-doh but doesn't eat it. At 3 He graduated from water color to acrylic paint, he is learning to read, and is doing well at it. He loves maps, and he can point out where he is standing at on the map when we go to Disney world. He no longer plays with the big blocks but prefers legos and wants to use the instructions in the lego booklet to make the models. "Let's make this!" he says. He still likes his play-doh but also does stuff with modeling clay. At 3 years old his favorite word is "Exit". Who knows why. Also when we are driving in the car he will point at the signs."Mama, we are on the Turpike now?" He says giggling, are we going somewhere fun?
I'm a very proud Aunt as you can see. For his 3rd birthday I spent about 100 bucks on canvas, sketchbooks, water colors, acrylic paint, we bought him sports stuff for baseball, a soccer ball, and of course an activity book CARS 2. I also bought him a bunch of Dr. Suess Books. He loves books.
I have Become an Excellent Baker
It was by complete and total accident. Nick is amazing at grilling, smoking, and preparing meats. His steaks rival that of high end restaurants. So I started taking over a niche of baking. I love making my own pizza dough, breads, cakes and desserts. I took a cake decorating class with a friend and I can make my own butter cream, and put together a home made birthday cake that looks like it came from Publix.
I have Became a Great Cook
I have always helped cook, and always made side dishes and party food but never a full meal. When Nick is out of town I would cook for myself and I started experimenting when he was gone. My failures were mine to keep, my successes I shared when he got home. I got recipes from my mom, and had her show me some of my favorites I could recreate.
Last January my Grandma (Nana) went into the hospital. She is a diabetic and had a mini stroke. After a lot of test, it was clear she had arteries blocked and needed a bipass but because of her weight, and inability to stand she could not have the surgery. They fixed her up and was brought home to be put on a strict diet.
So the family pitched in and I cook for her once a week on Thursdays. Baked wild caught halibut, Bison meatballs in whole wheat spaghetti, Sugar free strawberry shortcake, using angels food cake, Lamb Vindaloo, Bison Meatloaf, with Mash potatoes, Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Capri Salad, Greek Salad. Dill Lemon pepper shrimp in vegan butter, crab stuffed mushrooms, Vegetarian Lasagna. Whole wheat veggie bean burrito, Butternut squash soup, Goat cheese and mushroom stuffed whole wheat ravioli, Shrimp Kabobs, Pineapple kabobs with yogurt dipping sauce and on her birthday I made her sugar free low cal strawberry cheesecake that tasted pretty darn good.
I'm especially proud of my Lamb Vindaloo. There is this Indian restaurant that one of our Indian Software engineers took me too, this is where I fell in love with Lamb Vindaloo. It's a dish that is fusion from when the Portuguese came to India. After searching the internet I couldn't find a recipe that made sense to what I tasted. I took some pieces that seem to ring true, and put it all together.
The result was delicious and very close. I know the things I need to work on but it is a huge hit
I should probably wrap this up
It's getting long.
I really enjoyed writing all of this. I've missed LJ and all the friends it encompasses.
Something new I'm doing this year is blogging some of our home made food triumphs and failures. I love fish tacos and we had scored some awesome Mahi from the farmers market and decided to make our own take on fish tacos.
Over the years I have had dozens of different styles. The true classic is probably the Baja California fish taco. but I have tried fish tacos all over the us from Cali, Seattle, Oregon, to North Carolina, Orlando, Miami, Key West. I had an amazing key west grouper fish taco but also a great Cali fish taco. Some styles are grilled, some are fried.
So what did we do. We mixed it up and made a version all our own. Nick actually made it as I guided him through the world of fish tacos.
This is a Grilled Mahi Fish Taco with lettuce slaw, lime juice, skinny guacamole (meaning no sour cream), and shredded cheddar cheese. Also along for the ride is a wild rice.
The lettuce slaw was accidental we in haste had bought lettuce and not cabbage in a mad dash during the catering we did for new years. More on that later. These were very good!
I have always loved succulents. They are easy to take care of and can bring some much needed green to a room or cubicle. I also like classic white dishes, vases and porcelain and it seems to be hot trend this year.
I love these and I'd buy them all if I could but I just don't have that kind of cash. Not all of these are porcelain . So I think I can find some white stone wear or ceramics and recreate the look for cheaper. As for the porcelain i found this really neat fake out that I want to try.
For more DIY check out PS I Made This
I'm looking for people to suggest some modern day aphrodisiacs. I would like some input nothing is too weird as long as it is relative to modern day. The ones I came up with were:
- Green M&M's
But I managed to do it. I'd like to say that the top 4 from last year were very steady,
| This season it is a little tougher to tell. We have Angelo as a front runner, who may or may not have thrown the elmination challenge on the second episode. Was he laissez-faire after winning elimination or was he delibaretely trying to to sabotage,|
I'm not sure, editing left a lot to be desired. and his camaraderie with Tracey made me like him more. I think he could be the Stephan of the season. He is putting out consistent dish after dish. but he really has to prove to me he's more than just a food cock tease, and he is doing that, little by little.
| Why shouldn't Kenny be hot on his heals? I'd like to say camaraderie, yet Angelo just doesn't seem to like Kenny. He's scared, its the only thing I could think of. Angelo is turning out great dishes, and so is Kenny, and regardless of who is better, Angelo is actiing more scared and I'm not sure why. With all of Angelo's confidence you would think he would pay no mind.|
That said Kenny delivered this weeks winning Quick Fire and having good results on his pork tenderloin. He sticks in my number two spot. My number three is still Kelly. That may surprise you, It's just that she is very consistent, and she knows how to get the work done without whining and complaining, without getting frazzled or stressed, and that is going to come in handy later on in the competition as more and more people go.
| Kelly has been in this kind of atmosphere before, She's been on Iron Chef America, though not winning she did an amazing job. What is annoying is that Arnold just can't seem to let it go. He's constantly complaining about her, and I don't see much reason why he is, in the Lunch food challenge she claimed she made her dish, and maybe she did go a little overboard claiming it, or that is how the editing made it look, but she knows in competitions such as this, it's important to work with the team and stand out for your own dish. They ended up winning the challenge and still Arnold persistently complains about her the whole episode later. So it is interesting to me that we have 2 A versus K groups. - Angelo versus Kenny and Arnold versus Kelly and it's also interesting to me that they are both ending up in the top 4 this week.|
| Arnold won the Elimination Challenge this week. Maybe now he's shut up and quit complaining. He even complained about not being a grill cook and not knowing how to use charcoal, lucky for him he was able to pick it up and turn out a great dish. To his credit he's been doing well, he was in Kelly's team for the win, and the quick fire sandwich he made with Kelly, which looked more to be his idea as called out in the top. The first episode he bought a Orchid and Whole foods and I was wondering what he did with it, maybe a garnish, we never really got to see his dish, because there were so many people that some of the good dishes didn't get shown, just talked about. Some are putting him 3rd over Kelly because Kelly had a bland bison burger for the challenge but she still managed to stay out of the bottom and if Arnold's wining is any indication of how he handles stress, there is a lot of potential for a slip up especially in next weeks episode where 2 people go home.|
And here is where the line blurs for me. who should go 5th. Alex because he won the first elimination challenge. Amanda for her awesome ribs and bouncing back into the top, or Ed for finally pulling a top spot in the EC? There really isn't much separating the middle of the pack.
| So I just stuck with Alex, he was on the bottom of the quick fire this week, but he wasn't on the bottom of the elimination challenge and to his credit is the only other one left who has won an EC. My worry is that he peaked early with his borsht win and won't ever get back to that quality and originality that won him the first EC. But unlike others who are running hot and cold he seems to be just lukewarming it along.|
and speaking of running hot and cold my choice for 6th is the epitome of it. Ed, he over complicates things, recent example is his pie, your grandma wouldn't have put celery spuma on it. come on, sometimes simple is better. He did get a top mention for the elimination challenge and in the episode before that narrowly missed a quick fire win. He's just so hot and cold. I'm nervous for him going into a double elimination challenge.
|He's also a complainer and comes off at least in his confessionals as a not so happy kind of guy. He's a little bit of a stick in the mud. Maybe he's just using his confessionals to rant, or blow off steam, but the editing this episode made him sound like Eeyore. Also does anyone else think this cast is way too serious and way to paranoid. I thought that when Andrea asked Tracey what pie she was making, Poor Tracey had no idea yet, so she say "I don't know?" and Andrea took it as if she was secretly not telling her when in fact Tracey had no clue. This is why rankings seem hard to me this year, paranoia, running hot and cold, complaining all the time, these are things that can contribute to an early exit, despite your cooking skills, background and experience. This is also the reason I think their is going to be an upset this Wednesday, with the double elimination,|
|I honestly don't believe Kevin deserves to be 7th but because he was on the bottom of the EC I just couldn't rationalize any higher. He has been doing well thus far. I want to talk about what went wrong with his food this episode. Gail hit it spot on when she said "Are your friends and family chefs?" "Well you are, so you need to escalate the food and bring it to a new level'. An example of that would be Alex's Borscht. Also I think people get confused when it comes to Latin cuisine. I live in central Florida, where a lot of Puerto Rican call home. A friend of mines mother is Puerto Rican we enjoy her home cooking, but Puerto Rican food isn't as spicy as Mexican or Cuban. They really are meat and potatoes kind of people, switch out the potatoes with rice and beans. Puerto Rican rice and beans is not spicy, its not bland but its not spicy, Pinto beans, rice, olives, capers, tomato sauce. They grill their meat simply, they don't over complicate their dishes. I think the judges have rarely if ever had home style Puerto Rican food, I'm willing to bet that most have had Puerto Rican cuisine from restaurants , so their ideas and experiences of the food is different. This is where Kevin failed to pull out the chef in him and remember that his experiences and theirs aren't matching up, and he must take the home style meal and turn it into something more original.|
|Lynn is my dark horse call. She's been laying in the middle, getting some praise, here and there. She's a culinary teacher and she's out to prove that the old addage of "Those that can - do. Those that can not - teach" She's quiet and focused. She hasn't made much noise but I think she'll stick around long enough for us to get to know her more. It's wonderful to have someone who isn't a drama queen, or whining, making excuses, or being difficult. Keep on trucking Lynn. Maybe she'll end up pulling a Robin without the excessive talking and drama. It's still too soon to tell but if there is a dark horse in this competition I'm betting it will be her.|
|Now lets head on over to the drama that is Amanda coming in at 9th. Most believed she should have gone home for serving boring bland Sherry Chicken to the kids. I didn't think it was the sherry itself, the alcohol does cook out, but the idea of it just didn't go with the challenge, nor did the price of the dish. She stayed based on Jacqueline sugar content in her pudding and was able to coming screaming up the chain with her ribs and asparagus which stole Waxman's heart. I wonder if it was only Waxman judging if she would have won. He seemed more excited about her dish, but then there is editing to consider. I brought Amanda up from the bottom to 9th because she deserved it. However she still has a lot to prove. We got some back store on her, She was involved in pills, went to rehab, etc. So I can see why she has built up this tough exterior. I think she feels like she does have a lot to prove, not only to everyone but to herself. Her prison rules comment got me laughing even though she is still the bitch of the season I felt like I got to know her a little bit better.|
| Andrea I put number 10. I had her higher but she's another silent one and she exhibited some paranoia this last episode. She has yet to be called out on top or bottom, although they have said some nice things about her. Is she going to continue to just be in the middle until hope there is always someone worse than her? I want to put her higher but the fact that she is so in the middle means to me she isn't pushing it hard enough. Sometimes a failure is good because you are pushing yourself, and she seems fine just to exisit. She's got to start really competing and getting in there, or the judges might be saying "Who's Andrea?".|
So with that we move into the bottom tier. I found it hard to figure out who should get the top bottom spot so I gave it to Tiffany.
|She rocked the dessert on last weeks school kids lunch challenge, but her sockeye salmon was bland for the elimination challenges. She didn't land in the bottom but I'm concern she doesn't have enough gusto for the competition. The only good press she received that I remember was the dessert for the lunches. Can she stand on her own or does she only work well in a team effort?|
|He's good, wait he's bad, wait no he's good again, wait no he's bad. Tim is teetering a lot and with a double elimination he could fail victim to his down slide. He's shown he is a good chef, but is he good with competitions. Some people just aren't good at them, whether they work slower, need time to think more. One person from last season was Brian V. He didn't always do well on the quick fires because he needed more time to think deeply and develop his ideas, where as his quick on his feet thinking brother would just run with it. Brian always did better on the EC's because it allowed him more time to process what he was doing. Both great chefs, just arriving with solutions differently. But Tim is finding himself at the bottom of the EC's. I think he took on too much one piece of perfectly cooked pork would have done the job.|
|Second to the last at number 13th I put Tamesha, she's also frying under the radar but not as well as Andrea or Lynn because I've only head negatives out of the judges mouths about her food, yet she manages to escape elimination. They said her food was overcooked. She seems to have problems with execution and this is why I put her here. Not much else to say about her other than she wanted to run away together with guest judge and pastry chef Johnny. So who do I think may get the boot, or atleast one of the boots. Stephen.|
| I had high hopes for this guy. On paper he should be able to hack these competitions but he's failing short every single time. The good news is that they liked his pie for the quick file, missing the win to Kenny by a fraction. The bad news is that the guy looks haggard already and we aren't even half way through the season. Is he not getting enough sleep? Is he downing pills and booze nightly? He's starting to look as bad as Linsday Lohan. Perhaps it is just stress and the competition getting to him. He should know how incredibly hard it is to get that much bacon to crips up on a grill without messing up the fish it is wrapped in. For not being a rookie he sure is making some rookie mistakes.|
|I am sad to see Tracey go, she delivered some much needed comedy to the cast. She maintained a positive attitude on this challenge even though she knew that her food wasn't up to par. She did know it, she didn't want anyone else. She's young and I think not exactly knowing what to do when something goes wrong. She tried to fix it. Had she had cased her sausage and done what she had originally planned I still think she would have gone home based on flavor. She fell victim to letting the challenge use her. She went back to a comfort favorite of hers that she could not escalate and transform into a dish worthy of the culinary judges. I think she gained a lot of experience and growth that she can take with her. I'm still going to miss her antics.|
Quote of the week goes to Guest judge and pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini - "I think it’s kind of a cop-out to say you’re not a pastry chef. My grandmother’s not a pastry chef either, and she can make a pie.”
Any guesses on if this double elimination is going to cause an upset, could one of the middle tier, or even top their fall victim?
I took course one of my cake decorating class here is my final result aft my first class
not bad for a chick who has never really made or decorated a cake in her life.
Have you see the deliciousness of the men on the US Olympic Curling Team? Hotties! Jason Smith 25, and Chris Plys 22, are hot enough to melt the ice they stand on. The US team is doing awesome.
We are going to Seattle on the 20th then driving down to Portland. I've written a list which is not an itenerary. I hate following list, this is merely suggestions for us to use as a guide. Here is what I came up with. Sometimes it reads more like a scavenger hunt than a list lol.
* Pike Place Market
* Seattle Space Needle
* Spend Time with Cristina
* Olympic Sculpture Park
* Indulge in Eating a Pacific Northwest Oyster - Elliott's Oyster House
* See Murray or Eric at Zig Zag Cafe
* Visit the Memorial Viretta Park to see the Kurt Cobain Memorial Bench
* Diss Starbucks number one by drinking some good Seattle Coffee - Espresso at Uptown Espresso or Vivace
* Go to Archie Mcphee's to get 1 free box of pink elephant cocktail napkins
* Nick Picks a Brewery/ Brewpub or bar hopping
2. The Jolly Rodger if open was undergoing a referb.
* Ride a Ferry - Would it be too cold?
* Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park - It's Free :)
* Theo Chocolate Tour
* Experience Music Project Museum
* Ballard District
Other things of interest in Seattle
World Spice Merchants
Seattle Art Museum
* Get a Bacon Maple Bar at Voodoo Doughnuts
* Brew Pubs tours and bars
1. Bridgeport Brewery and Brewpub - Pop in for a pint at the oldest microbrewery in Oregon
2. Rogue Ales Public House Brewery
3. Doug Fir
4. Widmer Brewing Company - famous for making Hefeweizen beer
* Spend Time with Lears
* Potlandia - the Portland Building
* Obtain a Keep Portland Weird Bumpersticker
* Powell's city of books
* The Velveteria
* Chinese Garden
* See the Pearl District
* Visit Old Town
* Portland Food and drink Walking Tour http://www.portlandwalkingtours.com/tour
1. Kennedy School
2. Chapel Pub
* Have a cup of Stumptown Coffee
* Tillamook Cheese
* Apizza Scholls
Other things of Interest
The Mystery Hole
Portland Museum of Art
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
I was curious about Heidi's New look after undergoing 10 surgeries at once. What do you think?( Obessed Heidi Image is very largeCollapse )
I'm not anti-plastic surgery. If you feel you need it then by all means. But this is rediculous. She aged herself 10 years. The boob job is way too much. She just took all the uniqueness and orginality of her features away. This won't help your singing career*. Being a musical artist is all about being original and unique now we can't distiguish her been the masses for fake barbie's out there.
*Yes I am aware she really doesn't have a singing career. She is not a great singer even after her voice is altered through a protools rig.