Friday, December 30, 2011

Pretend You're My Therapist

It goes like this:  I ended my long and complicated relationship with the company I worked for and moved in to a private, for-profit job (no one likes profit more than me, my friend) which gave me almost two weeks off for Christmas (and Hanukkah) after only working there two weeks.  This time off has also coincided with Beloved's regularly scheduled week-off-per-month. This is the second time this year that we've been able to have dedicated time off together.  In this time, we've managed to have a fantastic Christmas (I'm proud to say my blog garnered me a fabulous vacuum, but sadly, no nose-hair trimmer) and we were able to unload the ol PT Cruiser in favor of a vehicle that won't ensure my untimely end. 
What we haven't been able to do is find internet service.  Every single company I've called does not provide service to our area.  We live on the main road.  Spitting distance from the town line into Eddington.  Eddington has service.  All of my Clifton jokes are coming back to haunt me.  It's like living in the third world.  I have started sending out "$3 a day can provide all the luxury essentials this girl would need" to friends and relatives (look for yours soon...or provide me with your email address if you'd prefer to do a Paypal transfer.)
As for the wedding front, we've secured a reception site.  It wasn't without tears (me) and F-bombs (Beloved), but we took the first place that didn't make me want to punch someone.  If you're going to show off and try to entice me to have "the most memorable day of my life" in your location, please clean the effing carpets.  And know where the light switches are.  And take down the ramshackle Christmas decorations.  And take my body size into consideration.  I come from big people.  There is no way we would fit into the room you so confidently feel will hold over 100 people.  And no one will dance on a 3x3 dance floor.  My personal space is larger than that.  Next up is trying to secure DJ, photographer, and a wedding dress.  I'd be a cash-cow for a show on TLC if they only knew enough to film me.  Mad props to Beloved for jumping into the helping with both feet.  He still doesn't feel like we're under any time crunch...he's just happy he doesn't have to wear a tuxedo and that no one will make him do the Electric Slide.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Things I'm Doing At The Moment: A List

  • feeling excited for wedding planning (had to post it publicly)
  • having a '40's dance party in the front office, alone
  • visioning a blog for my new employer called "Notes From the Gumline"
  • ordering lunch for our worker bees (I'm getting what I like to call "meat cinnamon rolls" (cause that's what they look like))
  • using all methods of restraint to not order Beloved more Christmas presents, even though he is wonderful and patient and blows me kisses and wears the good smelling man cologne* to put me in a better mood (I think it's what klonopin smells like) and changes my windshield wipers and makes the bad engine light disappear and generally maintains the Evil Beast (that would be the car, not me, though at times we might be twins)
  • dreading my hours at the second job (please play roulette and try to call to get me!  I'll take your order!!) 
  • sending out straggler Christmas cards, picked out by Beloved (a message on the inside of one says "you'll feel better if you give me more presents" (my interpretation) so I sent that one to my parents)
What are you doing at the moment?

*They make a cologne called Woods.  This is not the cologne Beloved has (he has Fierce.)  But I think it's HILARIOUS that the men who fit the profile to shop at A&F would buy something that would make them smell outdoorsy.  Because obviously it's not in their nature to actually go into the woods.  They'd be more likely to go Into The Woods.

Friday, December 2, 2011

There Are No Bad Gifts (Besides Backgammon)

My intention was to post about our Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  But, alas and alack, my camera and computer are fighting.  As soon as I can get to a computer that's as loose as the female celebrities my age, I'll make that post happen, complete with pictures.  Until then, here's some thoughtful insight on gift-giving.  To me.


MSN published an article citing eight bad gifts to give, along with their reasoning.  I'm here to refute that and tell you why you could give me all eight of these gifts (and my mailing address, if you aren't able to see me in person to deliver.)

1.  An appliance.  I am a new homeowner.  I can think of three appliances I would replace this instant, gift-given or otherwise.  Our dryer is squeaky, though it dries clothes like that's its function.  The washing machine takes so long that I could probably beat the dirty clothes on a washboard down by the crick in less time.  And my vacuum spits the dirt back. At. me.  I would not pout if I unwrapped a Dyson.  I would plug her in and start vacuuming up the styrofoam bits that surely piled up by ripping open the packaging.
2.  The partial giftThey reference Sirius XM.  Oh, how I would love this.  I would pay the fee for monthly service.  My boss lets me use his account (5 days and you get it back, boss) and I'm addicted to the Broadway channel.  If you see IV drug users humming songs from Annie, it's because of me.  AND THEY HAVE A NEIL DIAMOND CHANNEL.  I do believe I read somewhere that Neil Diamond makes for a happy marriage.  At the very least, he disclosed at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade that he's engaged.
3.  A nose-hair trimmerGranted, this is not something I would give, but I would take it!  Beloved has no known nose-hair issue.  But eventually, when he's 80, I'm sure he will (all the cute lil old men do.)  So I'd be prepared (take that, lame Girl Scout troop I dropped out of!)  Plus, I have totally plucked unruly nose-hairs from my own sniffer, and it killed!  I'd much rather take a machine to them.  Don't get me started on the chin-hairs...
4.  The 'improving' giftOk, I can be a Judy Moody and take things to heart (just ask anyone who has spoken to me) so if I received any sort of non-cookbook 'improving' book, I'd double dose some Xanax.  But otherwise, I'm a cookbook junkie with a built-in taking up a quarter of my kitchen for just such gifts!
5.  The gift of exerciseI was a heavy child.  I was the heaviest adult.  I'm now a less-heavy adult.  I have been gifted exercise often (hello, Exerslide) and it's always been welcomed.  It has even been talked about this year, as my Mom and I have developed a co-dependent relationship with each other and the gym.
6.  A puppy.  Last year I was given a puppy.  It ran on batteries and scared the hell out of me (watch for a future post of my irrational fears) and we named it Shitlet because it was a tiny Shitzu.  So furry friends of the AA variety would totally be appropriate.  But if the Duracell pet you give me talks, know for sure I will make you euthanize it.
7.  The generic gift.  When the thought doesn't count?  I want it.  That probably sounds a little hoarderish of me, but a gift is a gift.  And generic gifts re-gift fantastically!  I'm planning to have a re-gifting party once the dust settles in late January or early February.
8.  The misleading box.  My trust issues probably stem from the misleading box.  We take nothing at face value in my family (in regards to gifts and people.)  My mother suggested that my father bring home an air compressor box for me to contain one of Beloved's Christmas presents.  Since he really really really wants an air compressor, I thought it would be cruel to wrap my equally awesome present in that box.  I have a heart, however small and black it may be.

So, may all your days be merry and bright and all that.  And know that my preference for gift wrap is pink with lots and lots of bows, but I'm not above gifts wrapped in newspaper, paper bags, old boxed wine boxes and the like. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm Thanktastic

Holidays are a good bookmark of time.  Last Thanksgiving, we were at my parent's house, celebrating the first Thanksgiving in the new addition of their house.  It was the first Thanksgiving without my grandmother.  This year will be the first Thanksgiving without my grandfather (her husband).  This will be Baby Jonah's first Thanksgiving.  The subtractions and additions to our life don't stop.  For that, we can be thankful.
Beloved has been voted into the Union.  That sentence sounds a little like he's the state of New Hampshire pre-Civil War, but I've been assured this is a good thing.  But it feels a little mafia-ish to me.
Picture these guys wearing Carhartts and driving pickups and it might be Beloved's Operator crew
Now, every time I've ever seen The Sopranos, it's been all stripper poles and curse words.  Will there be piles of cocaine and nighttime body drops in my future?  Hopefully no more than usual.  But for this secure job, this opportunity to work (and to work overtime when the Bat Signal is put out there), we can be thankful. (I'm also secretly hoping this job comes with me getting a super mafia accent and the right to stay home all day and cook for my unthankful, mafioso family.)
Our house has been nothing short of amazing for us.  The oddity of an upstairs kitchen:
I have it decorated differently.  But can you see why I fell in love with it?
The fantastic window seats in the kitchen, living room, and upstairs bedroom.  The pool.  The pellet stove:

Again, it looks different now that it's ours.  I don't even have a Kane.  But you can see the pool through the windows.  Deuces!
And Beloved would have me mention the biggest garage in Clifton.  
He will be in there in the dead of winter.  Because it's his.
Man-cave extraordinaire. Buying that little piece of heaven was hell.  But worth it.  And for all the lawn raking-induced blisters, the gray paint under the fingernails, the mouse traps working effectively, the hot meals, the old-school Nintendo games played at night, the quietness of the locale we picked, we can be thankful.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Recipe For Keeping Warm

This isn't my kitchen...allegedly
I'm not normally a drinker of hard liquor.  I have relatives for that.  But, I do love supporting local businesses, and if something is supposed to taste like cake, I'm pretty much gonna go for it.  How has someone not come up with cake-flavored vitamins?  Cake-flavored anti-depressants?  Cake-flavored celery?  I'm just saying...
Back to topic, then:  Pinnacle is from Lewiston.  While I wouldn't normally support anything from such a scary-sounding place, they make whipped cream flavored vodka.  And they make rebate forms.  And the IGA has lowered their prices on said whipped cream hangovers.  I got a vodka sized bottle of whipped, and it came with a travel-size portion of Cake flavored.  All in all, with rebate form, it cost 6$.  I'm a cheap drunk*, in the best way. 
Now, if the cost of heating oil makes you want to day drink, here is my suggested nighttime drink:

1-2 oz Pinnacle whipped (I used 3/4 oz, because, again, I'm not a hard liquor drinker and I don't know what the appropriate amount of hard liquor per serving is...if you drink as a daytime job, it's probably more than 3/4 oz)
Mug full of milk (I used skim...if you're going whole hog (and, really, why wouldn't you?  You can just work it off on Monday), use a higher fat milk)
Dark Chocolate hot cocoa mix

Heat the mug of milk in the microwave for 1.5-2 minutes (unless you have the world's oldest microwave, like Beloved's parents do (he heated their dog's METAL dish without any fiery repercussions!!), or until your milk is hot.)  Add the vodka, then the cocoa mix.  Stir, don't drive, and enjoy!

*All talk of day drinking and whatnotery is clearly me being humorous.  I don't have a drinking problem.  I don't have a vodka mustache.  My stomach is too tiny to support all the joke drinking I do.  Don't be worried.  Don't call the AA.  Oh, quick story:  Beloved's uncle wanted to name our house the AA Ranch, but with us being homebrewers, I thought it implied something else, and we're on the hunt for a different name for the property...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sites To Visit When You're Bored

Facebook so doesn't cut the cake anymore.  Or rip open the candy wrapper.  Or whatever other food (analogy?  euphemism?  jobby?) you choose to use. 
So I wanted to list some other sites I check out to pass the time.  I'm not saying what time I'm trying to pass, because there are people who read this who also control my paychecks.  So let's wink wink nudge nudge and just proceed to my list:
Blog--make one; at the very least, read mine.  And tell people about mine.
Suri's Burn Book--good gracious, this is funny.  Suri Cruise's fake perspective on other celebrity children.
The Pioneer Woman--I don't have the cable so I don't see her show, but I love her website...great recipes, she's a fantastically funny writer, and she has giveaway contests.  When I have enough followers, I'll totally start giving away fun stuff.
Hip2Save--Do you coupon?  Shop online?  Like deals and giveaways?  GO HERE!
Jennsylvania--Again, fantastic writer.  So funny.  Read her books.  Follow her blog.  Her post on Twilight had me crying with laughter. 
GoodReads--good way to find new books, share reads with friends (find me there!), and track what you're currently reading and have read.
LL Bean--Daily Markdown.  No reason you shouldn't be checking that out.  I'm not saying it because it's my 2nd job.
Realtor--I'm my mother's daughter.  That means I'm nosy, people, and I want to see the insides of the homes for sale in a 30 mile radius.  And I will judge your shag carpeting and paint choices.
Xmradio--Everyone should be as lucky as I am to have a boss who allows their account to be high-hoseyed by the human answering machine so she can listen to/belt out Broadway showtunes while IV drug users look on in fear.

Those are a smattering.  Really?  That's my day in chronological order.  Don't believe me?  Check my IE History.  But not you, Boss.  Because you're working, and I'm working, and everyone is just working.  The end.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Crockpot Beer BBQ Pulled Chicken and Broccoli Cheese Soup

Yesterday was a cookin' day.  Beloved was up, up and away at work, which left me to alternate between intense Kindle reading and cookin'.  Both of these recipes were taken from the Tasty Kitchen website.  If you aren't already getting recipes from there, I give you permission to go there now, but make sure you come right back!

Both recipes turned out great!  We had the Broccoli Cheese Soup for dinner last night, but neither of us could help but sample the chicken, which we'll be having tonight when Beloved's sister comes over for dinner.  Let's start with the chicken:

Mine looks way saucier than this...but would you expect anything less of me?

3 lbs chicken breasts
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8 oz beer
32 oz barbeque sauce

Ok.  Right out the bat, I didn't have onion powder or smoked paprika.  I shook some garlic powder, regular old paprika, salt, pepper, and some red pepper flakes on my chicken.  So I say:  season how you please!  Put the seasoned chicken breasts into your slow cooker.  Crack open the beer (I used a brown ale Homebrew) and pour over the chicken.  I think the glass beer bottles hold 16 oz?  That's how much I used.  It was barely early enough to start drinking, so I figured I'd let the chicken have all the fun.  After that, squeeze the barbeque sauce into the chicken hottub.  I used Sweet Baby Ray's.  The original recipe advised against using a thicker barbeque sauce unless you up the liquid (beer, or ginger ale, or broth, even!) to prevent burning and whatnot.  I used 28 oz bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's and it was fine.  Set the cooker to low and cook for 8 hours (mine was ready in about 7) and then shred the chicken.  Done!  We'll be having ours tonight on Bangor Rye rolls along with Broccoli Slaw. 

On to the soup:

Mine wasn't this green, but I didn't do what they said.  And I'm ok with that...

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups beef broth or boullion
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups shredded extra sharp white cheddar
1 1/2 cups shredded extra sharp yellow cheddar
4 cups steamed broccoli, pulsed into meal

In a heavy stockpot (I used my Dutch oven, made by Martha Stewart exclusively for me while she was serving time...) melt the butter.  Add the chopped onion (if you measure this, so help me...just cut off a bit of onion, chop it fine, and throw it in, ok??) and cook until it's soft.  Or until you're ready to move on.  Add the flour and cook for 3 minutes, stirring.  It's gonna get brown.  It's ok.  Add the broth and milks alternately, making sure you stir, until it's all combined.  Bring to a boil.  Mine took a while.  Not a huge deal.  Just stir and, if you're like me, chop the broccoli.  I bought a bag of frozen broccoli and just let it thaw on the sideboard.  Then I used my food chopper and chopped it down.  Not into meal, but just into wee bits.  Once your base is boiling, add the broccoli and cheese and stir until the cheese melts.  Salt and pepper as you wish.  I turned it down to low once the cheese was melted and it thickens up.  We had this with cheese bread, and it was really nice. 
Both of these recipes got the Beloved seal of approval, which is what I most care about.  Try them.  They're easy!!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wicked Easy Recipe and Why I Need A Full-Length Mirror

I am a hoarder of recipes.  I get emails from all over the internets for recipes that I think I might like to try.  I have a cookbook collection three shelves tall in my kitchen built-in (always room for more...they only take up one half of the shelves!) and a binder with all my printed recipe gems.  This week I actually took to cooking some of the recipes, instead of just collecting them, Hoarders-style.  Over the weekend I made Moose Sausage and Spinach Pasta Bake...which was really good after I realized it needed re-saucing.  It soaked up all the sauce in the original recipe and was a wee dry the first time I tried it (Beloved, in all his male wisdom, ate it without complaint) but I gave it the ol' one-two-Ragu and it was delicious. 
The pictured recipe is courtesy of Kraft, which always sends me very easy recipes, which I can appreciate on a weeknight.  They call it Saucy Mexican Chicken.  I call it Really Good With Two Glasses of Reisling. 

On to the recipe:
1 lb chicken breast (they left theirs whole; I cut mine up into smallish pieces)
15 oz can black beans, undrained (I used Turtle Beans, Hannaford brand)
1 cup salsa (I used 16oz jar Newman's Own Hot Salsa)
Mexican blend cheese and Sour Cream (and/or any other toppings you'd like)
Cook chicken breasts in non-stick skillet (I used cast iron skillet with a little bit of olive oil) over medium high heat until brown on both sides (I cooked it until it was mostly done, mostly because I didn't read the entirety of this part of the directions...)
Add the beans and salsa and bring to a boil; cover and simmer for 5 minutes, or until chicken is done.
At this point, you're done.  If you make it with whole chicken breasts, they recommended taking it off the heat, adding 1 c of cheese and letting stand until cheese was melted.  I brought our cheese to the table and we added it ourselves (I didn't use 1/2 c of cheese for my plate...I'd appreciate some clapping here) and added sour cream.  I also made Minute Rice brand Spanish Rice and we served that and corn in a big Mexican mashup.  It was so good!  Could easily throw this in a soft taco shell if you needed some more carbs (and who doesn't??) For two people (with 1 1/4 stomachs total) it fed us and there's a good amount leftover for Beloved to have lunch today.  The trash will not be getting these leftovers.


Today I attempted to leave the house in my leggings and a longish button down shirt.  I felt very "Hollywood, just thrown together, it's fall but I go for the no-pants" kinda look.  As I bent down into my car to put my travel mug in it's spot, Beloved pointed out that you could see my underwear clear through the leggings.  Defeated, I went inside and put on age-appropriate jeans (knowing now my leggings might not see the light of day again) and trudged back outside.  Beloved declared that he thought that was the look I was going for.  Why would I go to work with my skivvies shining through like the sun???  All he could do was laugh at me.    It made me laugh that he sort of argued for me to keep the leggings on, because you could only see them when I was bent over.  If you got it, flaunt it?? 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This Woman Is Sufferaging...

I love mail.  I love getting mail with my name on it.  Samples from companies, magazines, heck, throw in the occasional medical bill.  It's for me.  It makes me feel important.  I've done a lot worse than enjoy mail in the name of low self-esteem.
Poor Beloved's only mail seems to be advertisements for Important Homeowner's Insurance that he Must Not Delay in purchasing. 
In other words:  junk mail. 
Not to be left out, I've started getting junk mail.  In regards to our wedding.  Beloved gets the manly things, like sway mail regarding allowing the racino in Biddeford and supplemental insurance policies, and I get the lady junk mail.  Advertisements for places in Maine I couldn't put a pin on in the DeLorme, wanting us to come spend my parents' hard-earned money on for one party reflecting my Misery-style commitment to Beloved. 
Having this junk mail doesn't make it any easier for me to make any plans.  We've only just narrowed it down to the weekend of such and such a month because we now have Beloved's work schedule for next year (that electricity doesn't make itself, folks.  And, I've learned, it doesn't come from flipping on a light switch.  I could never pinch-hit as a Roving Operator.  Oh well.  Someone has to watch "Last Man Standing.")
But, having the manly junk mail is learning me some important lessons:  when we're supposed to vote again for the Prezzy Prez.  I don't keep track.  I also choose to vote by absentee ballot, because voting in public is just like going to Walmart:  it just shouldn't be done after 8 a.m.  Because everyone is there.  And have you seen Our Fellow Men recently? 
So Beloved schooled me that we vote for the Prez every 4 years (that part I vaguely remembered) and we'd know which year we were supposed to vote in when it was divisible by 4.  So we vote in '12 because it's divisible by 4.  It was the dang 12 that got stuck in my head.  I somehow thought that was the number to remember, and the number 8 came into play via the news (I only get channel 2 and we know that is NOT Maine news...Portland is barely Maine) and I texted:  "8 is not divisible by 12" to a groggy Beloved on his 2nd night of night shift. 
Smarty Carhartts Beloved:  "I'm half asleep and I have to call to explain this to you again?"
Dumb Pajamas Me: "Well, I'm half awake..."
SCB:  "Hon, if the year is divisible by 4, we vote for the President in that year."
DPM:  "Oh, so 12 has nothing to do with it?"
SCB:  "No.  Only that we're doing some Presidential voting in 2012."
DPM:  "Fantastic.  I've a handle on it now."

Just wait until I need him to 'splain the candidates and their platforms to me.

Monday, October 3, 2011

More Than 140 characters can handle.

Those aren't the 140 characters in my head, mind you.  There's so many more in there.  It's like the town of Clifton in this noggin.

Worry:  wedding planning.  I can't decide where to go for dinner if Beloved and I have the opportunity to dine outside 04428.  I'm worried I'll make the wrong choice (how is there a wrong choice??), so how much more does it sucketh that I have this same perception going into the planning of my Husband Bagging Party? 
  • I should be thinking:  I'm having a Husband Bagging Party!!!!  And it will be Somewhere!  On a Certain Day!  And I probably will only day drink once three times to get through these 365ish days until it happens!
I am trying to keep in the back of my backwoods head that this is just the party and in no way has any bearing on the marriage itself (unless I catch someone in a coat closet) and if something isn't just right, or someone is disappointed, it will be OKAY.  Unless that person is me.  So for my something new, I'm just suggesting the Cake flavored Vodka.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sleeping In My Tiara

I didn't ask for it to happen. 
I didn't stomp my feet, throw a fit, or pout (note:  we're only talking of this specific situation and I, by all means, employ these tactics in certain other situations.  Clear?)
When I moved in with my parents at the beginning of the year, my parents accidentally thought I was five.  I think I used my alarm clock the first night I moved in, but every morning after that, my mom came in to wake me up for work/gym/let's-skip-gym-for-breakfast. And on the mornings I went to gym, I think I started my car myself and brought out my gym bag once.  Then my dad offered to do it.  Every day.
When Beloved learned of my unintentional Princess treatment, he made it clear as day that I'd be using my alarm clock like a big girl.  And the muscles I was was forming at gym could bring my bag to the car and turn the key and the heater on just fine.  I was touched by his gentleness.
The last few days it's been crisp outside.  And Beloved has offered to start my car to let it warm up.  He's usually just getting in from work, so it's no trouble to him.  Hmm.
He and I work all kinds of random schedules, so there might be days when we're both up at 4:45am, or he's coming home at 6:30am and I'm just waking up, all growls and hisses from having less sleep than Fake Princess requires.
That was the case today.  I was given the green light last night to "sleep until I get home...I'll wake you up!"  (Do you see the Princess-creating pattern here?)  Had he been able to support my girth, I think he would have carried me up the stairs to the kitchen and nestled me into the window seat to rest while he made coffee.  Again today he offered to start my car, you know, while he went out to get the mower ready (he will not be outdone by my 15.5 hour workday!) for his one-of-eight side jobs as lawn boy for Shoestring Shop, the thriftiest of thrift stores in Brewer (future M-I-L totally has the hookup there and I've scored some sweet stuff!)  Lastly, as I was struggling to fit the Stanley thermos full of DD into my work bag (get out of the way, coupon binder!  Mama needs her LifeJuice!), he waited patiently, then took it from me and whisked it away to my car.  I did point out that he was giving me Princess treatment.  I heard, "yeah, well..." as he walked away.  My knight in Carhartt.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Would You, Could You, With A Ring?

I learned a lot about my Grampy at his funeral.  He was 3lb 9oz when he was born.  He worked for one company for the duration of his career.  And one friend of his told me that they decided to join the Navy after a weekend where they "raised some hell."  My Grampy?  Raised hell?  He raised six boys.  Maybe that's what his friend meant.  My Grampy had a great laugh.  It made me laugh because he always sounded so tickled.  He loved blueberry cake (this I remember my Gram telling me; I think Grampy would have eaten anything she made as long as it didn't have tomatoes in it...)  And coffee ice cream!  The first time I made homemade ice cream it was coffee flavored just for Grampy.  I remember listening to his scanner at the house on Rte. 46.  He volunteered for the town fire department and we benefited with firsthand knowledge of what was going on around the area.  Oh wait, one more food memory.  Grampy was the best stovetop popcorn maker.  Big yellow Tuppeware bowl full of popcorn.  Gram always wanted the "old maids." 
But what struck me most was one comment my uncle made.  Grampy used to say "D'oh"  (not in a Homer Simpson-y way, but like an Over East kinda "D'awoh") when he didn't believe something.  It was striking because Beloved says the same thing.  This is not a noise that I hear a lot of people make.  It got me thinking about how much alike they were.  I could be so lucky to find someone as patient, thoughtful, creative, helpful, tenderhearted, and sincere as Grampy.  And I decided I was.  Those are just six of the million reasons that I said Yes this week when Beloved asked if I would marry him. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Recipe--Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Or, "How To Make Your New Hometown Smell Delicious."

This recipe was delayed in being made due to the power outage Sunday.  No fear, it was made and eaten last night!  Obv this isn't the picture I took (I snagged it from the Hellman's website) of what I made, but it looked similar (minus the random greens; we had stuffing and carrots.)  It's quite tasty.  I bought a wedge of Parmesan cheese and grated it myself...and it took forever.  But it's a better value to buy whole and grate down.  Let's get to the recipe:

Parmesan Crusted Chicken
courtesy of Hellman's Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (if you aren't going to grate your own, at least buy the shredded kind; this recipe isn't best prepared with the green canister mess)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 Tablespoons seasoned breadcrumbs
1 lb chicken breasts (I flatten my chicken breasts out; paranoid about chickeny doneness so I like them to be the same thickness)

Preheat oven to 425.  Combine the cheese and mayo in a small bowl.  Arrange chicken breasts on baking sheet (I pounded them out after I put them on a sheet...I'm one for small bursts of genius) and spread mayo mix over the tops of chicken.  Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.  Bake 20 minutes or until chicken is done.

Verdict from Beloved?  "I don't know what you're cooking but it smells good!  I could smell it when I opened the car door!"

Monday, August 29, 2011


Thursday, August 25 (day before closing; anxiety level:6):
Noontime:  Text Beloved to see if he wants me to work a half-day tomorrow in order to help him with our move.
Noon-oh-two:  He replies I should stay at work and make money.  Believe this is a polite way of telling me to stay the hell away while he moves all my stuff into our new home.  We both know I'm more useful at work, anyhow.
My plot to escape work early has failed.  Sorry, boss.

Friday, August 26th (day of closing; anxiety level: 29):
7am:  Beloved meets mom and I at her house for our ritualistic Friday Bagel Central breakfast.  Commence meltdown in the driveway, uttering things such as "I don't want people touching my stuff."
7:15am:  Am mildly sedated by jalapeno cream cheese.  Judging people who walk in looking like Lady Gaga also helps to take my mind off of today's event.
8:00am-3:00pm:  Work.  Boss lovingly tells me no one will unpack my stuff.  They're just gonna dump my shit and ditch.  Feel better.  Wish I was there supervising my loving people who helped to move my many years' worth of accumulation and Beloved's one suitcase.
3:00pm:  Beloved whisks me away to the Farmhouse for dual housewarming presents.
3:15pm-3:45pm:  Wander up and down Main St. on foot,  feeling odd to be out during the day.
3:50pm:  Figure we can be early, we go in to the attorney's office.  We're nearly the last ones there, so we get this show on the road.
4:36pm:  We own a house.
4:37pm:  Stooled at Paddy's for one congratulatory beverage.
5:00pm:  Each to his own parent's house to gather belongings not scooped and dropped in this morning's move.
5:10pm:  Pizza and such with our people who helped moved us. They were good people.  One even ran after a squirrel attempting to enter the mudroom.  But I'll have no squatters in my new home.  My nephew is running round, having "adventures" and doing somersaults in the yard.
8:36pm:  Bed.  Only to be followed by...

Saturday, August 27th (first day owning a home; anxiety level: 2):
2:30am:  Up and at 'em.  Beloved sleeps and I'm upstairs unpacking the kitchen like Martha Stewart on crystal meth.  
6:00am:  I lay down on the couch in the upstairs living room, and hear padded steps and a tired-looking Beloved approach.  "You've been up this whole time?"  A girl has priorities.  And her cookie sheets are one of them.
6:36am:  Breakfast, half of which was on the house.  Thanks, one-arm-in-a-sling lady at the golden arches.
7:00am:  Lowe's.  Sellers took their mailbox so we're on the hunt.  We pick up a rake, new lighting for the upstairs bathroom, work gloves for me (I still laugh at that whole collection of words together), garage door rollers (I got the ricketier door of the two), and was doing my best to seem interested in the difference between 2-stroke and 4-stroke weed wackers, when I blurted out:  "Crap!  We need a mailbox!"  Bubble bursted, we make a mad dash to the postal aisle like a couple from Supermarket Sweep (I would give my mailbox to be able to bring that show back and be on it!)
8:00am:  Walmart.  No one should have to go into a Walmart on a weekend past 9:00am.  You're just asking for your day to be ruined.  We got in and out of there pretty quick.  Beloved has never spent more than $14 for groceries in one trip.  I had to defibrilate him at one point.  I also pointed out that toilet plungers and clothes hampers don't count as food and we weren't throwing down too much.  Be a good boy.  Wheel my groceries to the car.
11:00am:  Converge on new house with more and more stuff taken from parent's homes.  Introductions of opposite sides of family that haven't yet met (oh, Nana!  My mom just loved you!) Lunch and unpacking.
4:00pm:  More unpacking?  It's all sort of a blur.  We did hit the pool, and it was cold.  We mostly just stood in it and drank champagne.
7:30pm:  Out in these parts, we don't get "the cable" or have "the internets" so we popped in a movie.  Just as it should be.

Sunday, August 28th (second day owning a home and day of hurricane; anxiety level: -12):
4:45am:  No rest for the weary.  Beloved returns to Work-work and I am left to tackle Remaining Unpacking Projects.
7:00am:  Steal away to Hannaford and Walmart (remember my 9:00am Walmart rule!) to buy staple groceries before Irene swept Eastern Maine off the map.
9:00am:  One more haul of stuff at my parent's house (I think my stuff mated while it was in storage and produced more and more stuffs.)
10:00am:  Mom arrives and holds it DOWN in the handwashing of large items too big to be chucked in the dishwasher department.
Noontime:  Last of the Friday pizza is eaten!  House is 98% settled.  Mom departs, between sheets of rain, and I guiltily rest.
3:15pm:  No power.  Means no hot meal for the Beloved who worked very hard in the nasty storm.  My suggestion of PB&J via text message is not warmly met.  After many calls back and forth, it is decided he will bring home to-go dinner from his parent's house (yes, I hadn't showered all weekend, and there was just no need for his parents to know me like that.)
6:44pm:  Power restored.  I text Beloved.
6:45pm:  He rolls into the driveway. 

And that is how you buy a house, avoid moving all the really heavy stuff, come to terms with people touching your stuff, and eat your first meal at home together, prepared by someone else.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What I See Is What You Get

The day isn't even half over and already it's been all kinds of ridic.  So I thought I'd take a minute and share with you the view from my desk.  Items to note:
  • Dilbert calendar.  Dilbert is so much like life, it's hard not to share with people.  So I do share.  Via inter-office envelopes.  You're welcome, Finance.
  • Ruby Slippers.  I love Wicked but WOZ  stuff is easily accessible for purchase.  So I do when I can.  Got these babies at the Border's closing sale.  They click and everything!
  • Dwight Schrute stress ball head.  I have .02% stress at my job, so I mostly just use him as a chat buddy.
  • Panic button.  Word.
  • WWII-era condom by Trojan.  I like the slim packaging versus contemporary square packaging.  It's petrified, but still pretty funky.
  • Car keys.  Always have a fast way to get out.
  • USDA news release on food safety with the coming threat of Hurricane Irene.  If this weather damages my brand new house, so help me...
  • Menu for Uno's.  We're having a doughraiser there today, and I simply cannot decide what to eat.  Days like today I wish I had my old stomach, but my same number of chins (that would be one.)
  • Coupons.  I know my weaknesses.
  • Tin-foil wrapped piece of Almond Joy Brownie.  It was too beautiful to reveal.  I wanted no competition in the eating portion of my afternoon.  Thank you for sharing with me, Ms Patsy.
  • Cell phone.  Important things like free Redbox codes and FB status updates simply cannot be ignored.
  • Looooong list of "needs" for new house.  Ack!
Chaos, thy name is glass desk.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Make an Ass Out of U and Me? How About Just U.

Once upon a time, certain of my immediate family members all up and moved to Louisiana.  Raising me in four walls of codependency, I planned one pre-move vacation to see if Louisiana was "for me", knowing very well I was packing my crap and heading to the (quite literally) Dirty South.  This was one day post-Katrina.  I may well have been the only Destination Vacation girl in the Baton Rouge Airport. 
A tree falls in the hood...ok, well, in the sub-division.
This is why you buy Gap Insurance.

I moved to Gonzales on my mom's birthday (nothing says, free, cheap present like showing up.  I also do Bar Mitzvahs.)  This was the beginning of November 2005.  I started work in January 2006.  I promptly filed my federal and Maine state taxes like a good, Government-fearing girl. 
I moved from Gonzales on Memorial Day Weekend (I finally figured out how to use my ruby slippers and clicked the hell outta there.)  This was 2006.  I resumed my Maine life:  same job, same apartment, same ballooning weight problem. 

With the ringing in of 2007, I gathered together my paperwork to file federal, Maine state AND Louisiana state taxes. 

And now, to this year.  The state of Louisiana sends me a bill.  For taxes.  For year 2005.  I like to call them Assumption Taxes.  They assumptin' I owe them money for 2005.  But if we look to my series of unfortunate events that brought me to and from Louisiana, we see that I didn't work in 2005.  Not one day did I smock up for Leader's Fried Chicken or Cigs-N-Suds.  It's hilarious!  I can't believe more states aren't trying this.  I bet they get more people writing them checks just to be rid of the hassle.  But not me.  I eat hassle for breakfast.  With a smear of jalapeno cream cheese, if they're serving it.  Miss Faye is very nice and I'm allowed to do all of this very important back and forthing via email (or fax) and I will give her my new mailing address, in hopes of getting a t-shirt that says:  "I Survived Katrina...and Trying To Pay Taxes In Louisiana."

Monday, August 22, 2011

Recipe--Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding

My mom asked me to make a chocolate bread pudding because she missed having it at Christmas parties past, courtesy of Montes.  She either wasn't making them anymore, or the price wasn't right.  Either way, I saw Michael Chiarello make this and thought, that will feed some Fords.  I made two the first year.  It was a sugar-coated Christmas, for sure.

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding

1 stick butter (unsalted, or salted, your preference)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
5 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
12 large croissants (ok, so note here:  it's all coming back to me that I made two because I think I had tons of croissants, adhering to the recipe.  But I haven't made this recipe since snow was on the ground, so buy 12.  If you don't use them all, split them open, butter them, grill them in a griddle/pan/cast-iron, and eat them with homemade jam.  Rinse, and repeat.)
1/2 cup raisins (I never added these; only add them if you want to make your family cry at Christmas.)
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped small (I used the chip form, as you can see from the picture.)

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a food processor (and this part is so important; I didn't use a food processor the first year and it was horribly messy.  I used it last year, and it was less messy (would have been less messy if I had been smart and not removed the blade while the custard was still in the cup...but, like test-driving a vehicle, I had no idea how the processor worked.), combine butter and sugar process until well blended. Add cinnamon, and vanilla, and pulse to combine.

While the processor is running crack 5 eggs into the mixture. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides.  Add the heavy cream and pulse to combine.

Lightly butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Break up the croissants (I chopped them; it seemed more...hygienic?) into 1-inch pieces and layer in the pan (I used a disposable tin you can tell, I picked the size that can also roast a 40-lb turkey.) Scatter the raisins (I'll turn my head as you do this) and shaved bittersweet chocolate over the top, and gently mix to incorporate. Pour the egg mixture over the croissants; soak for 8 to 10 minutes. You will need to push croissants pieces down during this time to ensure even coverage by egg mixture.(It's true, you will.)

Cover with foil and bake for 35minutes. Remove foil and bake for additional 10 minutes to brown the top. The croissant bread pudding is done when the custard is set, but still soft. Allow to cool.  But really, serve it warm. 

Michael recommends serving with Bourbon Ice Cream Sauce.  This is 1 Haagen Daaz size container of ice cream and 2 ounces bourbon.  Let the ice cream come to melty deliciousness in the fridge, then whisk in the booze (or not.  I never let my ice cream drink and drive) and put into a gravy boat-style container and try to prevent your dad from drinking straight from it (or just help me with my dad.)   

Recipe--Black Bottom Coconut Bars

I hope my one stalker appreciates this post.  I was asked to provide this recipe for her, but I'm too lazy to walk down the hall to give it to her daughter (THAT'S why I ought to qualify to use the in-office electric wheelchair all day) so I thought I'd make a post of this.  I normally don't make these black-bottomed, but it's easy enough to make them whatever sort of bottom you'd like.  These are one of my brother's favorite desserts.  I found it in my gram's church cookbook, adding the coconut myself as I thought without it, would be sorta plain.  Then Paula Deen rolls up and calls them gooey butter cakes.  I should have known that any recipe with two sticks of butter would end up making its way into Paula Deen's hands. 

Black Bottomed Coconut Bars
1 box cake mix of your choice (chocolate cake will make it black bottom, etc.)
1 egg
1 stick butter, melted (when baking, I always use unsalted butter, but you are your own baker)

1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick butter, melted
1 16-oz box powdered sugar
1 bag coconut

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix crust ingredients together in a bowl.  Press into a sprayed 9x13 pan.  In a separate bowl, mix cream cheese, eggs, vanilla and butter until smooth.  Add powdered sugar ( for powdered sugar dust storm) and coconut (can mix this by hand...I just eyeball the amount of coconut...I shake out enough in until it looks like there's some all through the batter.)
Pour filling over crust, spreading to cover entirely.  Bake 40-50 minutes.  Center should still be a little soft (per Paula Deen.  I cook it until it looks as brown as it is in the above picture.)

Stalkers and regular followers, enjoy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Like A Virgin

Now that we have a set-in-stone date for the closing, I'm still in baffle-mode that it's all happening.  Eight months ago, when we started the process of buying a short-sale house, it was like practice purchasing.  We went through all the motions of attempted home acquisition:  offer a price, sign some purchase and sale paperwork, and dazzle them with some earnest money.  Oh, and attend a first time homebuyer's class put on by a man WHO RENTS AN APARTMENT.  Because homebuying "isn't his thing."  But apparently, having a comfy little racket is.

No one told us that trying to buy a short-sale home is worse than high school.  Ok, well maybe Real Estate Man said something to that effect, but he's seven feet tall, there was an echo, and I thought he was complimenting me on my outfit that day.

So when we ditched that first house and fell head-over-heels for the "Double A Ranch" (I'd type it out "AA Ranch" but with our hobby of Homebrew, that just seems...fitting?), things came together so much faster.  Too fast, actually, for my experience.  The other house was ok with going slow, but this one wants to go all the way.  Where is an afterschool special on thirty-year mortgages when you need one?

And now we're being handed off to The Attorneys.  I've had no dry-run for this part of the show.  Everything in me wants to push Beloved out of the way next week, sign all the forms for both us, grab the keys to the house, and cart him away to our new zip code.  Because sometimes love means never having to sign your initials yourself.  This will not be the case, though.  We will sit across from the very nice sellers and ping pong paperwork back and forth (I assume; this is all secondhand information gleaned from HGTV shows like Property Virgins who have budgets of $200,000.  We probably get some sort of value-meal closing in a greasy brown paper bag.) 

I do envision some tears (him) and some cursing (me) as soon as the last Ford is signed.  And then more cursing (him) and tears (me) as we try to move my 31-gallon tote of cookbooks into our upstairs kitchen.  I'll be sure to have 10cc's The Things We Do For Love blaring.  Note to self:  move the boombox in first.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

T minus Someday...

I have a feeling that Realtor Man and Bank Guy will throw back a few cold ones the day they get to be rid of me. 

Having more time on my hand than Beloved to handle the communications aspect of homebuying, I have made a habit of emailing both of these men at least 25 times a day.  Realtor Man gets most of my worry-infused emails; Bank Guy gets the virtual foot-tapping 'are we there yet?' emails.  After six months of a stalled short-sale purchase attempt, Realtor Man suggested to Beloved that we look for a different home to buy.  It was just the push that I didn't want to give him.  Coming from a seven-foot man, it was probably more effective. 

The House We Really Are Buying was worth waiting for in Dante's Fourth Ring of Homebuying Hell.  The first time I saw the picture of my kitchen, I knew it.  And then when I saw the size of the garage, I knew that Beloved would probably feel the same as when he first met me.  I suspect he won't try to casually avoid the garage, causing the garage to change its phone number, and forcing him to try to find the garage on Facebook to try to win it back. 

Anyhow, we are in the last leg of this ridiculous venture.  Awaiting appraisal information, we've done all the other adult things, such as radon testing and Homeowner's Insurance buying (Convicted of Arson, you say?  Well, not recently.  Better than the question my parents were asked:  'Do You Plan On Making Methamphetamines? Ha!)  We're now in the hurry-up-and-wait stage again.  Only we're sure this one will be ours. 

And if Realtor Man and Bank Guy are reading this, I'll make you cookies when this is all said and done.  I have no plans to leave my beautiful kitchen.