Thursday, January 24, 2008

Some Sort of Explanation....

I suppose I should explain myself on the whole job hunting thing.

Everyone knows the economy sucks right now, right? Well, did you know that the mortgage industry is evil and we are the single cause of the current state of the economy? Dishonest, scheming, evil mortgage brokers are out to get everyone and the poor, innocent homeowners who didn't bother to read their own paperwork were victimized. Now, I'm not saying there aren't jerk-off mortgage brokers out there who preyed on naive homeowners - I know at least a couple of them personally. I'm just saying that homeowners also have a responsibility to make sure they understand their loan product and that it works for them. And if you took an adjustable rate two years ago because owning a $500,000 house with a $400 payment for a year sounded like a good idea and now your payment is now going up to $3000, well, you knew it was going to be a gamble. There are no guarantees that your property is going to continue to increase in value and you'll be able to refi your way out of it. You know how many people I talk to every day who did an interest-only ARM who now owe more on their house than it's worth and they can't even sell it? Or how many people bought their house six month ago and now it's worth $50,000 less? And that's if they're lucky.

Sorry, jumping down off my soapbox for now. Really, I could go on and on.

Anyway, because the mortgage business is tough right now, my company is cutting my salary. A lot. A LOT. Since I'm an admin assistant with 15 years of experience and NOT a mortgage person, I'm getting out of the business. I've worked in insurance, healthcare, financial services, retail, banking and several other industries. I'm lucky that I can work in any industry. Some of my friends in the mortgage business aren't as lucky and have to stay in the business because that's their business. I really enjoy the mortgage business and maybe in a couple years I'll try to get back in it, but for right now, does anyone know of any jobs??? :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

It's Hump Day!

You know what that means! (Relax Tim, this has nothing to do with you). :)

It means someone is gonna get screwed and it's probably me.

Apparently I'm on a job hunt. Man, I hate looking for a job. It's like dating, but with a lot more rejection. Well, come to think of it, some of my dates were worse than that - never mind.

Now I'm really depressed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dreamin'

Maybe it's the mood-altering drugs, the stress at work, the 8 strips of bacon I had for breakfast, the wart on my big toe, the new shampoo I've been using, or the antibiotics, but I had two very strange dreams Friday night. (Okay, only a couple of those things are true - I'll let you decide!) The dreams were one after the other and had a similar theme.

I told Tim about my dreams and he almost fell out of his chair laughing, and I told my co-worker, D, and she has suggested I get some help.

Dream #1:
Tim and I were visiting my hometown in Minnesota. My friend Leslie (California) was there, along with one of my co-workers (Arizona), Tim's brother (Maine), and some guy I don't know. Apparently people flew in from all over the country. We were going to another town about 20 miles outside my hometown for dinner at The Melting Pot. (Trust me, this town doesn't have a Melting Pot - they just barely got a Walmart a couple years ago.) Anyway, we were sitting there eating, and at some point, Tim got up to go to the bathroom and the other guy got bored and sat up at the bar and talked to the bartender. We were all getting ready to leave and paid the bill and got into the car. It was snowing and raining, so I had to sit on the hood of the car on the way home and wipe off the windshield because the wipers didn't work. Every time they turned a corner, though, I fell off the hood and they had to stop and pick me up again.

About halfway home, I realized we had left Tim back at the restaurant. Since I was on the hood of the car taking care of the snow, I hadn't heard my cell phone ringing over and over. He had left a few messages, and with each one, he was getting increasingly more and more angry. Once I realized what had happened, I was upset and basically in hysterics. (This is probably the point where Tim got out of bed and said I was whimpering). So I drove back up to pick up Tim and he was all happy with me, but I was still feeling pretty guilty.


Dream #2:
Tim and I are at my parents house in Minnesota, celebrating Christmas with my ex-boyfriend and his family. (That would NEVER happen). We were going to go out to my grandma's campground for dinner and gift exchange and we were getting everything ready at the house. Just a side note, my grandma died almost six years ago and her campground hasn't been operational in at least 10 years, if not longer. Anyway, at one point, someone told me that the song The Devil Went Down to Georgia was about chopping basil and not about playing the fiddle. I knew that I could chop basil better than the devil, so I was sitting on the floor, chopping basil and everyone was watching. Anyway, Tim had brought my Christmas present to the house and it was in this huge box and it was really heavy, and every time someone picked it up, it sloshed like there was ice water in there.

Once we got the present into the car, we all went to the campground. Since it was Christmas in Minnesota, there was like a big circus tent set up with heaters so we wouldn't all turn into popsicles. I'm sitting at a table eating my Christmas dinner when I realize I'VE LEFT TIM BEHIND AGAIN!!!!! He's standing outside the tent, yelling at us to let him in (apparently the doors and windows were locked. Nice trick for a circus tent) One of the things he yelled was, "Tony, the least you could do is let me in after you took advantage of me and Tara last night!" WHAT???

Oh, and my Christmas present from Tim? It was hundreds of ears of corn in ice water.

I really have to have my medications reviewed.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Buttermilk Pancakes


Last night's Smothered Pork Chops called for buttermilk, which we never have in the house unless we need it for a specific recipe. Since the recipe only took a half cup, we needed a good way to use up the rest of it so it didn't go to waste. Naturally, my first thought was for pancakes! Tim found an awesome recipe on www.allrecipes.com and we made the full recipe. They turned out great - excellent flavor and nice and fluffy. It made a LOT of pancakes, so we cooked up half the pancakes yesterday and the rest this morning. I had mine with chocolate chips (as always) and I fried up some maple sausage from Von Hanson's, too. I can't even tell you how good this sausage is and I don't even LIKE sausage, usually! I could eat a whole meal of just this sausage, though!

Buttermilk Pancakes

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together buttermilk, milk, eggs and melted butter. Keep the two mixtures separate until you are ready to cook.
  2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. You can flick water across the surface and if it beads up and sizzles, it's ready!
  3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, using a wooden spoon or fork to blend. Stir until it's just blended together. Do not over stir! Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/2 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

YUM!


I have over 90 blogs in my Google Reader and only about 5 of them are not food/recipe-related. I kept reading about Tyler Florence's smothered pork chops and everyone is in LOVE with them. I tried making them a while ago, but the pan was too hot and I burned them and they turned out horrible. I made them tonight, along with some mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli. It was terrific. I thought it would be a complicated dinner, but it came together very easily and quickly. This will definitely be going in the regular rotation. I couldn't really tell if Tim liked it or not. He gave it a thumbs-up, but not as enthusiastic as me.

The roasted broccoli was a new preparation for us. I usually steam it, which is good, but roasted was even better, in my opinion. I tossed the broccoli florets with olive oil, chopped garlic, salt and pepper until every single one was completely coated. I put it on a baking sheet in a 425 degree oven for 12 minutes. As soon as it came out, I put it into a bowl and tossed it with some Parmesan cheese. I loved it.

The whole dinner was a success for me. It was nice to cook again after being sick for so long and not having the energy to stand up for longer than 5 minutes at a time.

Sick of Sick

It's been a while since I've posted - mostly because I've been getting over pneumonia and bronchitis which truly, truly kicked my butt. HARD. I'm trying to remember if I've ever been that sick in my life, and I really don't know. I had viral meningitis almost a year ago, but that was just a lot of pain. This bout of pneumonia was definitely rough.

Today was the first day since December 24 that I haven't felt like crap. I'm still coughing a little bit, but it doesn't feel like I'm about to turn myself inside out. And I'm finally able to stay awake for an entire day. Progress.

I went back to work last Thursday and it was lovely, as is to be expected. Sigh. It was a rough two days, let's just leave it at that. I think I need to get out of the mortgage business. It's not a good situation right now. Luckily, I'm not a mortgage person, I'm an assistant, so I can work in any industry. While I really enjoy mortgages, the morale in the company right now is tough. One of these days, I'm really going to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Really.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Chicken & Corn Chowder


With the whole pneumonia thing, I've been craving a really good bowl of hearty soup. I made some Progresso Chicken with Wild Rice soup last night, but it wasn't really what I wanted. So tonight, I dragged myself out of bed and made this chicken & corn chowder. It was great. Tim was going a bit stir crazy today and stopped at Wildflower Bakery and got us some sourdough bread bowls. The bread was perfect for the chowder - the tanginess cut through the sweet corn and carrots and added a great dimension to the flavor.

(Sorry about the bad picture. I was starving and it's lucky I even remembered to even take one!)

I don't really use recipes, but I tried to pay attention as I was cooking and here's what I wrote down:

5 strips bacon chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, including the leaves, chopped
1 medium carrot, shredded on the big holes of your grater
1 lb. chicken, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 cup white wine
2 large potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 cups chicken stock/broth
1 cup heavy cream
16 oz. bag frozen corn
Fresh thyme

  • In your soup pot, cook the bacon over medium until it's crispy
  • Remove from the pan and drain on a plate lined with paper towels
  • Drain off all but approximately 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat
  • Add the onions and celery to the pot
  • Cook until the onions and celery start to soften
  • Add the chicken pieces and carrot, stirring occasionally until chicken is cooked through
  • Once the chicken is cooked, sprinkle the flour over everything
  • Cook, stirring constantly, until flour is cooked. It should start to smell a little nutty
  • Once the flour is cooked, add the wine, deglazing the pan. Be sure to get the brown bits up off the bottom of the pan - that's where the yummyness lives!
  • Add chicken stock, potatoes and thyme and reduce heat to low
  • Cover the pan and let it cook over low for about 10 minutes or until potatoes are soft
  • Use a potato masher and mash the potatoes and vegetables a bit, or you can use an immersion blender. You don't have to do this, but it does help to thicken the soup
  • Add heavy cream and defrosted corn
  • Simmer for 15 minutes
  • Serve with bacon on top

Friday, January 11, 2008

"Big Trouble, Young Lady"

Even at the ripe old age of 33, those words still scare me to my very soul. It usually meant my dad was upset about something. He rarely gets upset about anything (easygoing guy), but when he does, watch out.

Well, I moved out of my dad's house 15 years ago, but I recently had the opportunity to hear those terrifying words once again. It seems my doctor isn't a fan of continuing to work 10-hour days when you have "severe pneumonia". Go figure.

I went to urgent care a week ago today and was told I had pneumonia. I made a follow-up appointment with my regular doctor for Wednesday. He wasn't thrilled with me and ordered me to my bed.

Normally, I would say "oh thank you - I need a good rest!", but when you're sick, you never really seem to rest like you should. Oh, and boredom? Hello....I'm bored stiff. This is brutal.

So if you've called me in the past few days and I haven't answered, it's because I'm on some really strong drugs that knock me out and I can barely stay conscious long enough to have a conversation.

Bitch, moan, bitch, moan. Okay, I'm done feeling sorry for myself...

Friday, January 4, 2008

Oh, Woe Is Me...

Sick of hearing about my tooth yet? Well, the saga still isn't over. I had my appointment yesterday to get my permanent crown, but since the temporary crown had shattered like 12 days before I could get back to the dentist, what was left of my real tooth had moved and the gum had grown up around it and the permanent they made me didn't fit. So, it's back to the lab with a different mold and another temporary for me. No peanuts anymore, though. God willing, I'll get my permanent crown the middle of next week...

And to make things even more exciting, it turns out I have severe bronchitis and walking pneumonia. It's always been like this with me - I so much as look at someone with a cold and I get it, but ten times worse. Tim's brother and mom had colds and I get pneumonia. I'm such a drama queen...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Sesame Chicken


We really like the sesame chicken at Super Dragon, our favorite Phoenix Chinese restaurant. I ran across a recipe on Amber's Delectable Delights, made a few adjustments, and it came out great. The picture above is actually the picture she posted. I forgot to take a picture in my rush - I was STARVING last night when I got home from work. Her recipe can be found here.

Here is my revised recipe:

Mix the following in a large Ziploc plastic bag:
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. Chinese 5-spice powder
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds (toast them yourself. I know it's an extra step, but it really brings out the sesame flavor and it's totally worth it)
Few grinds of black pepper

Cut 2 chicken breasts into 1-inch chunks
Add chicken to bag and make sure every piece is coated. Shake off excess flour.

Saute chicken in peanut oil until cooked through and golden brown

While chicken is cooking, mix the sauce:

4 tbsp. teriyaki sauce
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sesame oil

When the chicken is cooked, drain any extra oil, then add the sauce. When the sauce has thickened, it's done. We had ours with jasmine rice.

This is the second time I've made it. The first time I followed her recipe exactly, but it was way too sweet for me. Tim loves sweet, but I'm definitely a savory gal. I cut the amount of honey and added soy sauce to balance it a bit. It was still pretty sweet, but it was a good balance. We will definitely made this again, and I'll probably add some vegetables. I think some carrots, onions, and broccoli would make this a great meal, and they're things we usually have on hand.