Archives for the month of: November, 2014

I’ve been writing the list in my head, part of it has gone on paper. What do I still need for the stuffing? I have the fresh Willie Bird in the refrigerator, one box of stuffing, garlic. I think I need another box of stuffing.

I volunteered to prepare the turkey and the stuffing this year. My mother-in-law said to give her the giblets and she’ll do the gravy. In my mind, the pan drippings are essential for the gravy, but she seems determined. I will still make a basic pan gravy, partially because I rarely make gravies, and partially because I can’t let those drippings go to waste.

This will be my first time ever cooking a turkey, at least I’m pretty sure. I have a vague memory that’s off very far in the distance, but I truly can’t recall if that was a turkey or a large chicken. I think that’s also why I roasted two small chickens a couple weeks back–to get some practice in. The part that makes me the most nervous is reading and trusting the thermometer.

I feel ready and confident. I’ve watched a video on chow.com, the woman at Macy’s gave me some tips when I was looking for roasting pans, and I’ve looked at a few other online recipes for ideas on the direction I’m going to go. To stuff or not to stuff? To brine or not to brine? I’m leaning toward stuffing, but no to brining.

I had lunch with a friend this past week. and she said she didn’t remember ever cooking a full turkey either. She’s in her 60’s, so I didn’t feel so bad not having done it myself.

This will be my first time making stuffing too. For that I have a partial recipe in my head from my grandmother. As it turns out, my mother-in-law’s mother made a similar stuffing, so it will be a melding of the two–in spirit and in love.

The grocery stores will probably be busy today. I was going to go late at night yesterday, but I thought one more day won’t hurt.

It will be an intimate Thanksgiving at hubby’s parents. There will be six of us plus Petunia and Lucas, the doggies.

Petunia has been the greatest gift. She puts a smile on all of our faces with her spunkiness. It’s hard to believe she’s only 6 months old. She loves rocks. She brings big ones into the house, and when you see the size of the rock, you wonder how she lugged such a thing inside. Lucas loves her too. They are dear hearts together. Such a happy union all the way around. I look forward to seeing her each time we visit.

Petunia and my mother-in-law have bonded perfectly. It seems that her moods have lightened, which is a blessing.

I will be visiting with my uncle and brother today. My uncle will be happy to see my brother.

There’s a lot I’m grateful for–the small things and the big. I’m happy to be here visiting on this wonderful earthly plane.

When I watch the news, it makes me wish there was more peace where there is violence and greed. I try to stay positive. I breathe. I think. I reflect. I wonder. It never entirely makes sense to me, and yet it has a sense of its own.

From my little corner, I send positive energy to the world…and I hope that those that need a warm meal, shelter, or a genuine smile, receive it today, tomorrow, and always.

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I drive by the pool
under the night sky;
steam rises, lights are bright;
aqua blue waters illuminate–
swimming in the rain.

The boss in on vacation,
enveloped by the warm humidity of Vietnam.

We receive the call from the buyer’s assistant.
The deal has been closed.
Texts back and forth to confirm.

Not much will change, or at least at the outset.

I look out through the window of his empty office,
in darkness, the only light coming from the outside.
I stand and look at the city covered in gray and white,
rain patterning down,
trees scattered along bare sidewalks,

As I look, I see there a bare tree with one lone leaf not its own,
caught in its branches,
holding it there until it blows away.

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Tuesday night we had tostadas from the leftover chickens that I roasted on Sunday.

I’ve tried to be better about planning dinners for the week and doing all of the shopping on Sundays, whereas before I had been planning day by day.

I had seen a cookbook in the new section at the library: Eat & Make: Charming Recipes and Kitchen Crafts You will Love by Paul Lowe aka Sweet Paul. I flipped through it and my eyes landed on a picture of a Nutty Berry Crumble. It was done. I would check the book out. A berry crumble or crisp of some sort was added to the week’s meal plan.

I love taking pictures, and I’ve really enjoyed taking pictures of the food I work with and prepare. Fresh fruits and vegetables are heaven to my eyes.

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The tostadas were very simple as you can see. I was trying to work with what I had left because I hadn’t intentionally worked them into my plan. I chopped up the remaining chicken, added one potato, a small can of olives, a can of El Pato brand tomato sauce with spices, and enough water to cover the potatoes. I let everything simmer down, stirring occasionally until the potatoes were tender. We topped our tostadas with Monterey Jack cheese, had a half avocado on the side and called it dinner.

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After dinner, I set to work on the mixed berry crumble. I also had my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook propped open to the berry crisp recipe. I decided to use the measurements in the Sweet Paul recipe which called for 3 cups of mixed berries, about one small container each and a 1/2 cup of mixed nuts. For the berries I used raspberry, blackberry, and blueberries just as he did. For the nuts I used walnuts and pecans. I also added oats to the crumble because I like the added texture and taste.

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We served the crumble with a small dab of vanilla ice cream. It was divine. I’m not a fruit person, but I love berry and apple crisps and crumbles.

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Delish!

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Two of my favorite recipes to prepare are from the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites cookbook: Black Bean Chilaquile and Blender Hot Sauce. I love the colorful freshness of the casserole, and it’s nice to eat a vegetarian meal and not get any complaints or questions about where the meat is–It’s so delicious that hubby doesn’t even notice that it’s meatless.

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The recipe for the Black Bean Chilaquile calls for layering the salsa into the casserole before going into the oven. I prefer to layer it without the salsa and spoon the salsa over the individual servings. We always have leftovers and it prevents the dish from becoming too soggy. I use regular cheese rather than low-fat. I also blanch the spinach first, set that aside, then after a quick rinse and dry, use the same pan for sautéing the onions and warming the other ingredients.

For the Blender Hot Sauce, depending on my mood, I will either include all three spices or only a little bit of oregano. I like the freshness of the salsa and I tend to not want to overpower that with too much spice. Since I use fresh tomatoes instead of canned, I add a bit of water to get the blender in motion. It’s fun to watch the blended vegetables transform into what will become a nice salsa. The salsa does become smooth, but slightly thick. In between stirrings, I also skim off the excess foam until it eventually disappears allowing the sauce to shine through. The light tomato red that will simmer for 30 minutes becomes a burnished red that brightens up the casserole.

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As the salsa is simmering, I begin working on the casserole.

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I tend to forget, and think that this will be a quick meal to prepare, thinking I can have the whole meal done in 30 minutes flat, but it takes a little time with making the fresh salsa.

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40 minutes later, dinner is served. Delicious!

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I was really glad to find these recipes on the web at different spots, so that I could share:

Recipe for Black Bean Chilaquile
http://www.recipesource.com/fgv/beans-grains/02/rec0269.html

Recipe for Black Bean Chilaquile and Blender Hot Sauce
http://www.eatmedelicious.com/2008/11/black-bean-chilaquile.html

It’s time for a change. In this case: A hair change. It’s a good start.

Having grown my hair out for a couple of years now, it’s down to the middle of my back.

I’ve had my hair in a variety of lengths and styles over the years, from short pixie hair to hair down past my butt in my childhood. My hair is taking much too long to blow dry these crisp mornings, and I’m getting tangled up in it at night. I’m experiencing more static cling which leads to fine long hairs start sticking out and itching my face.

I’m not my hair, but hair has a way of making you feel like it’s all of you—like it defines who you are—at least on a superficial level. I love the convenience of the pixie cut, but it’s really not the most flattering cut on me, unless I spend too much time with product and not feeling much like myself, which is an au natural, no fuss, sort of a person.

The search has narrowed. What I want is a long bob. I’ve searched the internet for pictures, and the one that I like the most is a bob cut worn by Sandra Bullock when she had shorter hair. I find that a picture is a good place to start when speaking to a hair stylist. I could tell them, describe what I want, even sketch a picture, but an actual photo, whether it will work or not, is often the best start. And I can’t always rely on their style books to have the right picture.

Hair isn’t everything, but whenever I sit down in the chair, I get nervous. I know my hair will grow back, but it’s such a pain when you get a bad haircut, and possibly have to go back to another person to fix what the first person did.

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This weekend has been filled with technological frustrations. We’ve been having problems with our internet connection intermittently for the past few weeks. We called Comcast to troubleshoot the issue, and finally swapped out our rented modem/router from them for a replacement. It worked beautifully for a whole night and morning, then the connection completely stopped. No signal, which was confirmed after another phone call, where I lost my cool a little bit.

Hubby had just gotten back from returning the bad device when I told him our internet and wifi were not working. He said he could go back and get a new modem/router, the Comcast store was open for another 40 minutes. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t think straight, plus I was starving, in the middle of cooking dinner, making quite the mess with lots of dirty dishes and pans in the sink. The Comcast technician on the phone had mentioned sending a tech out and I said, but why would this be working one day and the next it stops. Help me understand! I said. I told the technician on the phone that I’d like to try getting another modem/router first and if that doesn’t work, then I guess we have no choice.

Hubby and I decided that, yes, he would go get another box that night, and we’d go through the whole process yet again.

Success! It worked and is still working this morning, so far.

When I went shopping at Safeway yesterday, I was about to enter the store when a friendly shopper warned me that all but one computer was working. I said thanks and peeked inside to see how bad it looked. I saw that the express lane was the only lane open with a line going all the way back to the end of the aisle. I decided not to take my chances and I turned around and went to another Safeway. It was not a good technology day for them either.

For dinner I decided that I would roast two small chickens. I was following a simple recipe in an old Sunset magazine that would provide a moist and flavorful outcome. I have to remind myself next time to just get a prepared Safeway chicken. The chicken I made didn’t taste all that much better and it felt like a lot more work than it was worth.

A few weeks ago I decided to stop torturing myself with the federal income tax class that I was taking. I dropped it. I have come to accept the realization that tax and accounting make me numb; they inspire no passion whatsoever. I thoroughly enjoy the bookkeeping aspect, but that’s where it stops. The irony, of course, is that I work for a tax accountant as an administrative assistant. I enjoy my job; I just wish there was more of it. I enjoy learning through osmosis and hands-on, but the theory classes are too much for, me, a person who has no aspirations in actual tax and accounting.

My dream job would be working as an administrative assistant in an educational setting, a school of some sort, either profit or non-profit. My dream, dream job would be a community college counselor–at least the idea sounds nice. I’ve also thought that it would be nice to work in an elder-folks community in the accounting department, as an assistant. I’ve decided that it would be nearly impossible to find the perfect job at the postal service, working the counters. When I’ve looked at the jobs online, they are not in job areas or cities I’d want to work.

For now, I’m happy and thankful that I have a job. Despite, my moments of frustration and uncertainty, I am grateful that I have a job to go to.

If I won the lottery, I really feel that I’d still want to work. If I won the lottery, I still don’t know for certain what my actual dream job would be and how I would make that happen.

As I stop to pause this morning, I soak in the silence. I smile when I hear work trucks beeping and cars starting. I know the birds are out there too, but in this moment, I don’t hear them singing their songs. I hear the click of the thermostat, as the heater gets ready to blow out more warm air–and there he is, I hear a crow off in the distance.

These two photos were taken on Tuesday: Crow and Mountain on a Cloudy Day.

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“Life is like an onion; you peel it off one layer at a time and sometimes you weep.”
–Carl Sandburg

I woke up to the rain, and just as the clouds broke, I felt a certain release within my soul, as though the debris within was being washed away with the rain. When I sat at the kitchen table to begin my morning ritual, the scent of eucalyptus brightened my mental space. The pale yellow carnations from last Sunday, that remind me so much of the ruffles on a child’s dress, share the vase with fresh eucalyptus stems–those fragrant stems take me to my grandparent’s home, to the backyard with the tall eucalyptus trees, that familiar scent of one of my favorite trees, the scent of comfort and childhood–the scent that fills my space this morning.

Two weeks ago the boss was the most forthcoming he’s been about the sale of his business. He’s finally decided to retire. We knew that, but he was vague about just how long it would be. At first he made it sound as though he was testing the buying waters, and then it became clear, he was moving forward with the intent to close sooner rather than later. I thought he’d be working until he was old and gray. I read him wrong. The signs were there; I just failed to see reality for what it was.

Those two weeks past, he asks me to come outside. I don’t think anyone else was even in the office. And he says, “I need you to tidy up the office, get things cleaned up, organized. I’m having a buyer come in tomorrow and this one wants to keep you and T.”

Usually I would reply with a dozen questions, since he has been somewhat evasive about questions regarding the sale. It’s been the great big elephant in the room that we don’t talk about because he’s not ready yet–because there is no deal yet. So I say, okay.

The office isn’t a mess. It’s just that there are certain spots that may appear cluttery, and well, I suppose if you’re trying to impress a potential buyer, best to start off on the right foot; and it gave us a good excuse to get things in better order.

I took it a step further and started going to town tossing out old papers that I mostly likely would not need any longer–papers you hold onto “just in case.” Just in case your boss asks you about this or that several months down the line. Papers that you’re not ready to let go of yet.

I went into a different mindset. I acted as though my last day was near, even though this supposedly wasn’t the case. I decided to take any personal items home: books used for ice breakers, old daily calendars, empty cookie tins. I unstuck all of my post-it notes from my desk, I tossed out old single daily calendar pages that I had accumulated. At the end of the day, I have to admit it felt odd going home with a bag of stuff and a desk area that was so neat and tidy, that it looked foreign to me. It felt as though it really was my last day.

I did leave three things there until there really is a last day. Two glass hearts, one blue like crystal blue waters, the other a pearly white; and One heart made of a grey rock stone, polished smooth. These three hearts fit into the palm of my hand. They sit on the base of my monitor, a source of positive, loving energy. For now, they stay.

There were more closed-door phone calls and meetings. I was briefly introduced to the potential buyer as the boss showed him around our office. There was the beginning of due diligence, and now that brings us to this week, the week that T. and I will interview with these folks. I don’t know exactly how the interviews will go, what will be asked, how things will change, if we’ll be retained. I imagine, as the boss said, they’ll at least keep us for the transition if the deal does indeed go forward. But because things can change just like the snap of a finger, nothing is done until the signatures are planted on the dotted line.

I want to be excited, and at first when the boss told us what he was up to, the idea of it sounded exciting–something new to shake up the stagnation that has seemed to settle over the office. But it’s hard to be excited for the unknown, and yet I do feel a certain restrained excitement at a new chapter, whether it continue here or elsewhere.