Monday, December 31, 2007

Oh, and By The Way...


Happy New Year!

Tim and I are staying in and nursing our colds tonight, but if you're going out, please be safe!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas in Maine, Part 4

Have I mentioned that New Englanders are obsessed with L.L. Bean? We ended up with two gift cards, so we figured we would go shopping at some point. I also got a cute little tote bag with paperwhite bulbs in the "yankee swap", which I really liked, but couldn't fit into the suitcase. L.L. Bean has a great policy on returns, so we knew we could just go and get a credit.

The day after Christmas started with another breakfast at The Kopper Kettle. This time, they did have the biscuits and gravy and Tim was happy. He said it was very good. My favorite part of both breakfasts was the toast, surprisingly enough. It's homemade bread cut into about 1" thick slices - it was great.

After a filling and satisfying breakfast, we headed to his mom's house. She went on her lunch break at noon and it would be the last opportunity we would have to see her before we left. On the way, we stopped at his sister's house to pick some stuff up and say goodbye to her, Pete, and the boys.

After visiting with Tim's mom for a while, we headed to Walmart to get me some more cold medicine, cough drops, and tissues. Before I tell you this next part, let me explain just how miserable I was. I hadn't slept very well, I was struggling to breathe, I was coughing constantly, my nose was running, and I was just all-around unhappy. Okay, so here goes. We get to Walmart and discover they don't have any Puffs tissues - only Kleenex brand. I prefer Puffs because they're softer and don't tear, and my nose was already raw. I also HATE the Puffs Plus with the lotion - they're nasty and gross. We get to Walmart and they don't have any Puffs. I was about two seconds from throwing myself on the floor and having a tantrum. So we bought the other stuff we needed, and headed out. Then, we stopped at a grocery store to check for Puffs. If they hadn't had them, I was on the verge of tears, so luckily, we were able to find them. I don't normally go into a rage or burst into tears because of tissues, but in my defense, I was very sick. :)

That night we had dinner at Joe & Deb's - fondue. We've done it there before, and it was good, as always. Unfortunately, I could taste next to nothing because I was so sick.

Thursday we headed home. We left at 5:00 am and got to the airport VERY early, but Tim was nervous because of the freezing rain and the promise of a snowstorm. Our flight out of Boston was delayed about an hour, and our flight out of Newark was a little late, too. Despite these delays, we made it home relatively on time.

Now that we're home, we're settling back into our lives and trying to recover. I am still sick - it's been over a week, and now Tim has gotten sick, too. At least he waited until after we got home to get sick. I have a four-day weekend for the new year, so I've been resting a LOT. Thanks to the good people at DayQuil, Robitussin, Puffs, and Ricola, I may live to see the new year!

Christmas in Maine, Part 3

Christmas day was a busy one in Maine. It started very early in the morning. Tim's family tradition for Christmas is presents and breakfast that morning. We were asked to be there at 7:30 to partake in the festivities. The middle of the night on vacation by our standards, but a strange thing happens when one is in Maine. Time seems to get warped there. We were up early every morning, ready for dinner at 4:00 and ready for bed at 7:00. It's like we turn into senior citizens when we go there. I'm really not sure what that's all about.

On our way to his parent's house, we drove by a Walgreens that I noted was going to be open from 9-6 that day, and I knew that was going to save me. I was pretty sick by then. My throat felt like it had razor blades in it, I couldn't breathe, I was coughing, and all around, pretty miserable.

We got there and the orgy of presents began. Tim's sister and the boys loved the marshmallow guns we got them, and it was a great day. I got Tim this and this. Nothing special, but they were things I knew he wanted. There is one more thing, but I knew we wouldn't be able to bring it home in our suitcases, so I haven't given it to him yet. I'll tell you about it later. :)

I got something very special from Tim. I got a ring. It's not an engagement ring, as he was quick to point out, but it's a very, very special ring. His parents have a quarry on their property and many years ago, they found a great deal of tourmaline. Tim thought the tourmaline was all gone - given to family and friends, or sold. It turns out, they had a few left and I got one. His mom, dad, and sister helped pick out the setting and it's gorgeous. It's a little piece of his home. :)

Breakfast was also a family tradition - French toast, citrus salad, bacon, and lots of coffee and tea. Tim's dad received some Korean ginseng tea from someone as a gift and Tim really liked it. Charlie, in case you're wondering, it was Tim who stole about 10 packs of it out of your box!

After breakfast, we headed to Walgreens to get some DayQuil, cough drops, and cough syrup. Lucky, lucky me. When we got back to the hotel, I zonked out for a couple of hours. Then, it was time for Christmas with the family, round 2. This one was at his sister's house. We had a great time there. The entire family, except Grampy, was there - aunts, uncles, cousins. Grampy had a mishap a couple of weeks ago and he is recovering in a rehab center. There was the "yankee swap" or "white elephant" gift exchange, which was pretty funny, and then a new game his sister did. She wrapped up a present and everyone had to put on oven mitts and try to open it. Imagine the most duct tape you've ever seen in your life. There was a giant box with about six or seven duct taped boxes inside. It was a lot of fun watching everyone trying to get into the boxes.

Dinner was terrific. Jen really did a great job. She had marinated one beef tenderloin and just grilled the second. We had twice-baked potatoes, peas, mushrooms, baked onions, glazed carrots and pea pods, baby spinach salad with strawberries, and I'm sure more stuff I can't even remember. Dessert was mini-cheesecakes, lemon pound cake, brownies, and ice cream. In all, a great night.

After dinner, we went over to Tim's aunt and uncle's house to watch the Bourne Ultimatum on their new HDTV. By the time we left, I was pretty sure the cold or whatever was going to kill me. We headed to the hotel and passed out. It was a great Christmas - just the way it should be with family, friends, lots of food, and fun.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas in Maine, Part 2

Since we spent Saturday night in Boston, we spent a good portion of Sunday driving. We woke up Sunday morning and did a little research on Chowhound for a good breakfast place near our hotel. We settled on Danny's Diner in Somerville. It was absolutely terrific. I had the bacon and cheese omelet, which came with home fries and toast, english muffin, or pancake. I chose wheat toast. The omelet was perfectly cooked, and we all know that bacon makes everything better, it was exactly what I wanted. You could tell everything was homemade. Tim had a corned beef hash omelet and chose a pancake as his side. The pancakes were fluffy and thick and very good. In all, a wonderful breakfast.

Danny's Diner is a little hole in the wall place, but everyone who was there was clearly a regular. As Rachael Ray says, you gotta eat where the locals eat. Speaking of locals - a quick funny story: There was a table of five older guys behind Tim and I was facing them while we were eating. They were obviously regulars and it sounded like they ate breakfast there every morning. At some point, they were talking about medications and side effects and the one mentioned some procedure or surgery he had been through four times. Judging by their breakfasts, I would guess heart surgery. :) Anyway, he said, in his perfect Massachusetts accent, "I figure I lived through four of those damn things, I must have nine lives. I'm paht pussy". I happened to be looking at them right when he said it and I started laughing and all five guys turned at once and looked at me and got up and left the table. It was hilarious.

After breakfast, we were walking back to the car and passed by a pie shop called Petsi Pies. I stood outside the building and I could smell a very strong apple and cinnamon smell so I grabbed Tim and walked inside. They had some hot cider going, which is what I was smelling. It turned out to be a cute little bakery with a few homemade pastries and pies to order and take home. I wanted a molasses ginger cookie and Tim got a lemon scone. We also got a little bag of Christmas cookies. The cookie was very soft and good, although I'm not a huge fan of candied ginger so I didn't like the little chunks in there. Tim said the lemon scone was also good, and the lemon glaze had a nice kick.

We arrived at our hotel in Brunswick, checked in, dumped our stuff and headed to his parent's house. His parents were there, as well as his sister, her husband their two kids (and the baby on the way!), and his brother Jon. They had prepared a feast for us - lobsters, fresh Maine shrimp, potatoes, peas, and coleslaw. Ahhhhh....... the best part about coming to Maine is definitely the seafood! I can never remember how to pick out the lobsters, so Tim had to show me again. One of these days, I'll learn! I had also never had Maine shrimp before, and I'd never had the ones with the heads still on them. That, too, was a learning experience. It was all so delicious.

Last time we were here (Thanksgiving 2006) Tim's brother had told us about a breakfast place he loved so we gave it a try and instantly fell in love with it. The Kopper Kettle is in Topsham, Maine, and it reminds us a lot of The Farmhouse in Gilbert, AZ. It's down-home cooking at its very finest. Tim really wanted to try the biscuits and gravy since his brother loved them, but unfortunately, they had run out. He ended up getting eggs, bacon, sausage, and home fries. I got basically the same thing, but no sausage. The best part of the meal is the homemade bread. They make their own breads, muffins, and pastries, and their bread is outstanding. Tim had cinnamon bread and I had just plain ol' wheat. I loved my breakfast, but Tim didn't really like his. He was very disappointed about the biscuits and gravy, so it kind of ruined the meal for him.

We spent the rest of Christmas Eve running around. First up was Christmas shopping. His sister Jen had just bought a Wii, so we got her and her husband a couple of accessories for it. His brother Jon has had a little bad luck lately, and he had mentioned to Tim that his DVD player had died, so we got him a new DVD player, and we got his parents a gift card for one of their favorite restaurants. For Tim's nephews, Charles and Noah, we got these. We got to try them out the day after Christmas when we went to his sister's house and they are a LOT of fun! I want to get one to take to work!!! Uncle Tim had a hard time letting the boys play with them!

After our shopping was done, we stopped over at Tim's friend Joe's house to visit him and his wife Deb. We only stayed a couple of hours as we had plans for dinner with his parents. We had dinner with his parents and his brother - leftover lobster and shrimp. Yum! While we were having dinner, we found out there was going to be a white elephant gift exchange on Christmas Day at his sister's house. Oh crap. We didn't know. So, it was off to L.L. Bean in Freeport, where they are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We ended up getting one of these, and this, along with a coffee mug.

Just to give you a little background, L.L. Bean is an obsession out there. It's a HUGE store in Freeport, with several different stores all in one. Everyone out there gets gifts from there, or gift cards to there. In fact, we received a $100 gift card and a $25 gift card for the place.

On the drive from Joe & Deb's house to Tim's parent's house, I felt like my throat was a little dry and I was kind of thirsty. By the time we left his parent's house, my throat was really hurting and I was kind of feeling stuffed up. We tried to go to Walmart or Walgreens or anywhere to find some cold medicine, but on Christmas Eve at 8:00 in small-town Maine, apparently everything is closed. Bummer... Tim's brother had some extra Advil Cold & Sinus, though, which seemed to help for a couple of hours. By the time we went to bed Monday night, I was pretty miserable.

More to come...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas in Maine, Part 1

We just flew in from Phoenix and boy are our arms... Okay, sorry....never mind. :)

I am a night owl, so on the weekends, I like to stay up late and sleep very late. This weekend, however, is a bit different. This morning, we were up and out of bed at 4:00 am. The middle of the night for a Saturday for us. Our plane took off at 7:40 am this morning, which meant we got to the airport at 5:30. Surprisingly, it wasn't all that busy. I know it was early in the morning, but I was expecting a lot bigger crowd, given the fact that it's a holiday weekend.

Neither Tim nor I are small people, but we're not gigantic either. Imagine our surprise when we sat down in the seats and were practically sitting on top of each other. We were contorting ourselves into pretzels for four and a half hours from Phoenix to Newark. When we landed in Newark, we had about 30 minutes to get from gate C121 to gate A23. Look up the Newark Airport sometime and check out where that is. Fortunately, there was a shuttle and it took us almost right to our gate.

We got on the plane bound for Boston and once we took off, the flight attendants passed out the peanuts and drinks. Well, silly me. I took a bag of peanuts. And I broke my temporary crown into about three pieces. Oops. Eating peanuts wasn't necessarily a great idea.

We got to Boston around 4:30 local time and headed to the Alamo counter for our rental car. After checking into our hotel, we did a little research on Chowhound and found a Thai place to go to. Tim almost got us lost getting there, but I digress. :) While enjoying my pan fried noodles at Montien, I broke the rest of my temporary crown into another four pieces. Sigh. I always manage to do this on the weekend, and this weekend is even worse! Tim is probably going to review the restaurant, so I won't get into that.

It hurts a little, but not too awful. It certainly doesn't hurt as bad as it did before the root canal, so that's good. I'm a little afraid to eat just about everything, though. I'm such a dork...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Stuff - Mostly Junk

Just random thoughts today.

This whole "getting older" thing is really for the birds. Remember when I used to be able to remember things? Yeah, me neither. I swear - I can't keep a thought in my head these days. Does your brain get full? I don't know, but I hate it.

I had my root canal yesterday and today I can honestly say is the first day in almost two weeks that my tooth hasn't hurt. It's a little sore because it's been through a lot, but I don't feel the throbbing pain from my head down my neck and into my shoulder, and my ear doesn't feel like it's going to explode. Progress. After the endodontist gave me the novocaine yesterday, I asked him to please give me a little more, just to make sure I really couldn't feel anything. I have a deep fear of pain.

We have about 40 million things to do before we head to Maine for Christmas, and I'm so tired and worn out, I doubt we'll get to any of them. We leave at the butt-crack of dawn on Saturday and get back the following Thursday night. I'm really hoping to relax and get some down time while we're out there. My job has been stressful lately, and I'm definitely looking forward to the decompression. I promised my bosses, though, that I would come back from vacation with a whole new attitude and a renewed excitement for my job. That's a tall order, but I think I'm up to it! Some good play time with Tim's nephews should do the trick!

I really wish I liked tomatoes. They look so pretty on salads and sandwiches and they're probably really good for you. I hate them, though. I really, really hate them. I don't even like spaghetti and lasagna or pizza or even ketchup. Tomatoes are one of those things I always thought I'd start to like as I got older, but I haven't. I want to like them, but I just can't.

(Told you this was random stuff)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Yup. That's What I Was Afraid Of.

Well, in about an hour, I am leaving to have a root canal done. I went to the dentist yesterday and told him I was still in a lot of pain from the temporary crown. He popped it off and had a look (I screamed in pain and then bit his finger, but that's a whole other story) and said I need a root canal. Great. Just what everyone wants during the holiday season when they're traveling - a toothache.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Priceless

It all started a couple of weeks ago when I received a very curious phone call. The woman who had sold me my car two years ago after I destroyed my Nissan Sentra called to find out if I was interested in looking at another car. Great customer service, by the way. In the mortgage business, too, it's all about following up with your past clients and working your database. I told her thanks for calling, but I was going to wait a while before really looking at cars. Then last week I read Geggie's blog and found out she bought a new 2008 Toyota Camry in Blue Ribbon Metallic. I looked at the picture on her site and thought to myself, "ooh, pretty blue." That started a chain of events that culminated in one of the more interesting weekends we've had in ages.

Thursday night after dinner, I was surfing the internet a bit and looked a little on the Toyota website to see if they had any deals going on. After I went to bed, Tim did a little looking on Costco's auto-buying program site and on Friday talked to someone about the whole process. Before I left work on Friday, I called Jenny at Right Toyota to see if she was working. If she was a good enough sales person to call me, I wanted to give her a chance. I told her we'd be in around 8:00 - once we'd had a chance to grab some dinner.

After a quick dinner at Osha Thai, we headed over. I told her I was interested in the 2008 Camrys and that I really liked the blue. We test drove it and liked it, so we looked at some numbers. After some considerable crunching and haggling, I am now the proud owner of a 2008 Toyota Camry LE in Blue Ribbon Metallic, too! My payments have gone up, but the way we've structured the lease, hopefully I won't be carrying around any negative equity leftover from the Nissan From Hell.

We were the last customers of the night for the dealership, which is probably also why we got a good deal on the car. We pulled into our subdivision last night and all of a sudden, a light bulb went off in both of our heads. The garage door opener. In the old car. At the dealership that just closed for the night. The house keys on Tim's desk. Inside the locked house. (When L and M were here for Thanksgiving, we gave them our house keys and they never made it back onto my key chain).

The house that we're renting is owned by a former cop who has taken every step possible to make sure the house is secure. It was locked up tighter than a drum. We sat in the new car in our driveway for a few minutes, laughing our heads off. "Well, the seats recline and we have a full tank of gas!" "Should we break a window?" "The house across the driveway is for rent and might be on lockbox - we could break in" "There's a couch in my office" These are just some of the suggestions that were thrown out as we were sitting outside our house. Tim had his laptop with him because he's secondary on-call this week. He pulled it out of the bag and hacked into our own wireless signal. We ended up booking a room at the Comfort Inn about two miles from our house. While there are people we could call for a place to stay, we didn't feel comfortable doing it at 11:30 pm. We spent an incredibly uncomfortable night at the Comfort Inn and were awake at 7:30 so we could get to the dealership right when it opened. Jenny had taken the keys to my old car home with her and started work at 9:00, so we went for breakfast and went back. We got home at about 10 this morning and spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon catching up on sleep.

2008 Toyota Camry: $well, enough
1 Night at the Comfort Inn: $71.17
Trip to Walmart for toothbrushes, toothpaste, contact solution, etc.: $14.79
Look on our faces when we realize we're sitting in our driveway and can't get into the house? Priceless...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Double Ouch

I went to the dentist this morning and yup - I broke it. He numbed me up and took off the broken part of tooth (and showed it to me. Why do they do that? It's disgusting!) And then he did some drilling, put on a temporary crown, and sent me on my way. After the first of the year, I get my permanent crown. Isn't that a nice little treat for the holidays? To make things even happier, I came to work and found myself in a whole bunch of pain. When I called to see if I could get something for the pain (*cough* Vicodin, please *cough*), they mentioned he may have hit a nerve and I may need to have a root canal now. WHAT??? Man, I wish I'd never bitten into that piece of pork.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Ouch

The mortgage industry tends to attract people who drink a LOT. Think young loan officers who are great in sales and have WAY too much money.

Friday night was the night of our very, very, very lame office holiday party. I've worked for this company for a while and Tim and I have been to two of them. They were always at the Biltmore Resort and involved appetizers, drinks, dinner, and dancing. Sounds fun, but it really isn't, unless you're a total drunk. Most people leave work by 3:00 the day of the party and start drinking and by the time the party starts at 7:00, they're already in a pretty good place. This year, they changed things up and decided to hold it at the Wrigley Mansion instead and it was just drinks and appetizers. As you may or may not know, the mortgage industry is in a bit of disarray lately and I'm sure our company was trying to save some money.

Instead of going to the party, I decided I wanted to have my co-worker D and her husband J over for dinner. I made Giada's pancetta-wrapped pork roast, the Pioneer Woman's mashed potatoes and rolls and my version of succotash for dinner. D brought a chocolate trifle for dessert. We also had a simple cheese and cracker tray for appetizers. It was a very fun night and it was a terrific meal. The pork was cooked perfectly and was moist and flavorful. The Pioneer Woman never disappoints, so the rolls and potatoes were great too. My version of succotash was also very good and very colorful. The recipe is below, although I change it every time I make it.

Here's the "ouch" part. We were eating dinner and chatting and I bit into a piece of pork. I think I bit into a stem from some thyme and ended up breaking my tooth. I heard a VERY loud crunching noise and felt an awful lot of pain. I wasn't able to eat a lot of dinner after that.

About four years ago, I had to have a root canal and a crown on one of my teeth. Somehow, the root canal was done wrong and I ended up having to have the tooth pulled almost two years ago. At the time, I didn't have dental insurance, so I wasn't able to get an implant to replace it, so I have a hole on that side of my mouth. The tooth I broke Friday was on the other side of my mouth. Naturally.

Tara's Succotash

1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Medium Onion, chopped
1 Zucchini, cubed
1 Summer Squash, cubed
1 Bag Frozen Corn
2 Tbsp. butter (or more)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and bell peppers and cook until translucent, seasoning to taste. Add zucchini, squash and corn. Cook until zucchini and squash are soft and corn is warmed through.

I use lots of butter. It just tastes best that way. But then again, I love butter with everything. I make this differently every time. I know traditional succotash has lima beans, but I don't like them, so I generally don't add beans. You can really add anything you want, though. I just love how sweet the corn makes it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

NOW I Remember!


Date: December 4, 2007
Time: 5:49 pm
Temperature: 69 Degrees Fahrenheit

When I first moved to Phoenix, I swore I would NEVER get used to the weather here. Everyone told me that after the third summer, I would completely change my mind. They were right. Today's high was in the mid-70's and it's the beginning of December. NOW I remember why I live here! In the summer, when it's 115 degrees outside and we're all complaining, we just have to remember to hold on until winter. THIS is why we live here.

I will also go ahead and admit that I now think 69 degrees is chilly. When I left work tonight, I was glad I was wearing pants. Yes, I'm a big wimp now.

To my friends in family in Minnesota - so sorry you've gotten 20 inches of snow the past few days and it's below zero. Hahahahahahaha!!!!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Send Blankets!

Friday and Saturday were strange days here in Phoenix. I am speaking, of course, about the rain that fell for about 48 hours straight. This wasn't "Phoenix rain" where there are 15 drops every two hours, this was real rain.

The temperatures got into the 50's and it turns out that the 5+ years I've lived in Phoenix have turned me into a real weather wimp. Apparently 50 is just too chilly for me these days. I know my family and friends in Minnesota are dealing with a huge ice and snow storm this weekend and I'm soooooo thankful I don't live there! A friend of mine said the temperature on Friday was 3 degree above zero. No thanks - 64 was cold enough for me!

Quick funny story - Friday night after dinner, Tim was a little stir-crazy (he works from home and doesn't get out of the house much!) :) so we did a little shopping. As we were driving to Fry's Electronics, it was raining pretty hard. The windshield wipers on my car were making that awful scraping noise that they make when they're worn out. Wiper blades tend to dry out and crack during the long summer months when it never rains, so they don't last long in Phoenix. That noise drives both of us nuts, although it was definitely making Tim more grumpy than myself. After Fry's we went to Walmart to see if we could buy replacement blades and they were almost completely wiped out. It was almost comical. We went to Target, but the new Super Target near us doesn't sell them so we would have to wait until Saturday morning. After breakfast Saturday morning, we stopped at Auto Zone. We pulled up to the store and right in front of the car was the garbage can - FILLED with old wiper blades and wiper blade packaging. We both had a good laugh about it. Apparently the automotive supply stores were packed this weekend. That's what happens when it hasn't rained in months and months.

As of 8:45 Sunday night, it's 52 degrees. Someone send blankets! Oh, if you're in Minnesota, hope you manage to shovel your way out of your house soon. MWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Yum

Yesterday, I found a recipe for a breakfast casserole (hotdish to you Minnesotans!) on a blog I've been reading for a while. After dinner last night, Tim and I went to the store and picked up some roasted garlic bread. You basically cover the bottom of a casserole dish with slices of bread. Top with cooked bacon or sausage and some shredded cheese. Then whip four eggs with a cup of milk and some salt and pepper. Pour eggs over the bread and let sit overnight. In the morning, all you have to do it bake at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes and enjoy! We both thought it was great. I'll be making this again.