Monday, April 28, 2008

It's spelled G-H-E-T-T-O

Brought to you courtesy of Nathan, a recap of our phone conversation today:

N: You know, it is big trash pick up today
Me: Oh, yeah, hence the closet door, rack, and lawn mower on the curb.
N: Well, I think if I get home and they haven't picked up the big items yet, we should take a drive around the neighborhood.
Me: Ah, why?
N: You never know, we may find a couch on the curb.
Me: (Pause) Tell me your kidding.
N: Well, I mean if you want never know....
Me: Oh my God! Have we really gotten that ghetto? Really?
N: What!?! We live by some nice never know...

I don't remember what I said here....I tried to block the conversation out of my mind. As much as I could.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The pimptastic closet

The absolute last thing I expected to be doing over the weekend was upgrading my closet. But.....on Saturday night, at about 11:30 p.m., Nathan and I were super productive (well, with laundry at least) and finished our laundry a day early. Just I was getting ready to hang my last shirt....BAM! The entire rack comes off the wall. Nathan bursts into scary, psychotic laughter. I convinced him not to have a breakdown and that we would go get one of those Rubbermaid closet kits on Sunday morning. Thanks to the awesome Maria, I knew exactly what to get and where to go! So we dropped $150 and got a very nice closet kit for a 6-10ft closet (ours is 7).
Here's the collapsed aka before closet pic with Nathan lying on the floor to avoid an ass crack pic that was very likely:

And the lovely after:

Full of all our shiznit:

I am happy with the ease and the results, and dropping the extra $50 to buy the bigger kit. Plus, this was a great chance to get rid of some old clothes and discover this great red Gap top I forgot I had! I think I may still do some shifting of work vs. casual clothes, but other than that I think it turned out fabulous.

Nathan was obviously exhausted after working on it for about 3 hours......

The funny part is, neither one of us would admit that we probably could have just re-attached the old shelf. I think we both secretly wanted a better, more organized closet.

I have never loved grass so much

After a not so great week, I can tell you one thing that is fabulous...we are actually starting to see grass where we put in the drain tile. THANK GOD! I wonder if anyone has ever had a nervous break down due to the condition of their yard, because I think I was coming close.

However, we aren't in the clear yet....a couple places don't even have the little gift of the beginnings of the grass, but we bought another bag of seed and plan on spreading it until I have a freaking forest in the bare spots.

Coming up in next blog......the story of our new (hopefully) pimptastic closet.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Crazy ass day

Today was the craziest and maybe worst day of my work life. I am not going to go into details because you never know who is reading......but I am exhausted.

On top of all that, we no longer ghetto in our yard, we are SUPER ghetto. Tuesday we realized we were the only people on the block that had yet to mow their grass. So Nathan pulls out the mower yesterday and gets the front yard complete. It looked so much better! He than starts to do a path to the backyard and oh, oh....the mower dies.

We knew the thing was on it's last leg, but now our front yard is done and the yard going to the back looks super goofy with part of the lawn complete. Even with that problem I still think I am going to try to talk Nathan out of mowing and let him pamper me since I had such a bad day.

I'm alright, I just need to vent to someone.....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

At some point yesterday....

Hard to believe, but at some point yesterday my blog hit it's 1000 visits mark! Woohoo!

Plus, according to Google Analytics, I had my all time record number of people checking my blog yesterday. Not really sure why (ok, I have ONE theory), all I did was post a recipe, but whatever.

Everyone enjoy the day!

Monday, April 21, 2008

MMM... balsamic chicken stuffed with goodies

So from the dinner party I had leftover ingredients, which I cannot stand. Mostly because I hate throwing any food away since I am so freaking cheap. So usually when this happens I figure out what is going to go bad first and quickly come up with something to put it in.

This time it was fresh basil. I love, love, love fresh basil, but one of the major downsides of fresh basil is it doesn't have any kind of shelf life. Most of the chefs I have worked under usually wait and buy fresh basil the day they need it or the day before because it really doesn't hold up.

So obviously, basil was priority #1. Upon further inspection I found some ricotta, Romano cheese, a Roma tomato, garlic, and half of a yellow bell pepper that was not looking so great either. My mind immediately thought that I could do some kind of pasta; however, I didn't have any kind of marinara and wanted to avoid doing a cream sauce. So instead I decided to do a stuffed chicken breast.

I cut a slit into two chicken breasts and put them in one of my all time favorite marinades of balsamic, olive oil, s/p and a couple split garlic cloves. They sat in the fridge overnight.

Then I roasted the garlic in a 350 oven. If you haven't ever roasted garlic before it is easy- just cut off the very top, remove some of the excess skin, wrap it in foil with olive oil and salt and throw in the oven for 45 minutes. I also roasted the half yellow bell pepper and peeled off the skin.

Then I combine all the ingredients for the stuffing:
about 1/4 c. ricotta
2 tbsp Romano cheese
half chopped Roma tomato without the seeds
4 roasted garlic cloves chopped/smashed
1/2 diced roasted yellow pepper
a dab of water
a few chopped basil leaves

The breasts were stuffed, then went into the oven until it reached the proper temp and voila! It was yummy! The marinade really brought out the roasted garlic, and the sweet bell pepper and sweet basil complimented each other nicely.

Definitely a keeper.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Cards game with a side of embarrassment

My company did a really great job with the St. Louis employee appreciation this year. Boss #1 gave Boss # 2 the idea to rent a party room at a Cards game complete with buffet, beer, soda, the works. Totally great considering they could still do the meeting portion in one of the stadiums conference rooms before and then have a get together that almost any St. Louisian would enjoy.

Of course, it rained most of the day Friday, which in combination with St. Louis traffic caused me to be 5ish minutes late. Ick, five minutes late I hate being late, especially for a work function (nope, not the embarrassment referred to in the title) but many were running late so I didn't feel too bad.

When I arrived at the conference room I was greet by boss #2 and #3 in addition to some higher ups of the company including the owner. The meeting finally started and we all introduced ourselves, said what unit we were at, how long we had been with the company, and our favorite thing about working for this company. Then, the company did some awards. The last was the biggest one, kind of like the employee of the year aka Outstanding Achievement for 2008. Boss #3 announced my name and I was totally shocked. I blushed and smiled like an idiot (nope not embarrassed yet) and listed to him talk about me for about five minutes. I was totally honored and ecstatic. While others may not of felt like that was a big deal I definitely did. Not only will this look great on a resume but I got a kick ass glass plaque.

After a wrap up we headed into the game, which was amazingly starting on time. The President of the company was just now joining us because his flight had been delayed. We all dug into the food and tried to stay warm, because unfortunately our party room was open air. Which would have been perfect on a warm day, but it was a little cold and windy. I began socializing and introducing myself to a few of the higher ups, and getting reacquainted with the ones that already knew me.

Unfortunately, no had a ton of no shows and a lot of people left around the 3rd inning. I was shocked so many were leaving because we were playing great, it was a Friday night, and we still had lots of food and beer to consume. I wasn't going anywhere because Nathan, Jenn, and Brian all had great seats and we were going out afterwards.

At about the 4th inning I asked boss #3 if he would care if I went and got all three of them and brought them into the party room.

The conversation went like this:
"Um, boss #3, would you mind if I grabbed a few of the extra tickets and brought my husband and two friends up here?"
"Yeah! Lets go get them!"
"Are you sure Mr. President won't mind a few crashers?"
"No, no, he won't freaking care!"

And believe me, he didn't care. About 10 minutes into Nathan, Jenn, and Brian joining us all introductions were made and they began drinking and socializing. I walked away for about five minutes to chat with a couple other co-workers and I turn around to see Mr. President laughing with Nathan, Jenn, and Brian who were just a tad tipsy. Then I hear Brian say something, something, shit. And then Nathan with something, something shit. Que embarrassment. I walk back over to the four of the name laughing hysterically. Mr. President turns to me and says, "Teresa these guys are great!" Um, ok. They precede to talk about scotch, baseball, and other random topics.

A few minutes later Mr. President realizes he is spending more time with my friends then the people that actually work for him and he excuses himself for a bit. I pull on Nathan and Brian and say, "You guys were fing cursing with the President of my company!!!" They proceed to tell me that before they started Mr. President said, "Come on, we've got to drink this beer! I paid for this shit!"

It was a long and interesting evening that I won't forget anytime soon.

The dinner party

Well, the dinner party seemed to be a hit. Unfortunately, I was busy doing last minute details and socializing and didn't take any pics (surprise, surprise). A couple of the favorites of the group were the chicken satay, jambalaya cups, and the cinnamon roll ice cream. I thought I would share the recipes for anyone that is looking for something new to try.

Chicken Satay

1 generous tbsp creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup lime or lemon juice
1/4 cup soy
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp curry
1 tbsp granulated garlic
splash hot pepper sauce

Whisk together all ingredients, pour over chicken breasts and marinade at least two hours or overnight. Then grill or bake.

It's just that easy! I made another batch of the marinade and used it as a dipping sauce. Just warm it up in a sauce pan and it becomes thick and delicious. It is a little salty, but still yummy!

Jambalaya cups:

Use the jambalaya recipe found earlier in this blog. Only difference is keep the sausage separate.

Corn Bread:
1 box Corn muffin mix
1/2 box yellow or white cake mix

Follow directions on corn muffin mix, just double all ingredients and add in the 1/2 the cake mix. Makes 12 muffins. After cooled, scoop out some of the middle and fill with jambalaya (make sure it is pretty dry) top with a couple pieces of the sausage and voila!

Last, the ice cream. To be honest, Nathan kind of took this over and I think the recipe is specific to our ice cream maker. If you wanted the general idea though, take vanilla ice cream, mix in a couple tbsp cinnamon and put in little pieces of store bought snicker doodle cookie dough.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the other items too, but to be honest I was a little disappointed with myself. A couple things dried out and the shrimp (even though I had done it before) didn't have the spicy pop I expected it to have. Oh, and the lovely caramelized bacon never even made it to the table. Not only did it never get crisp enough, blotting the grease with a paper towel was the worst idea ever because it freaking stuck to the bacon. I expected at least one dish to fail, though.

We all did have a great time, consumed lots of beer and wine, and got a kick out of watch the dogs play. Oh and Jenn's new dog Thacher has to be the cutest 3 lb thing I have ever seen! His pics seriously don't give him justice.

I hope someone enjoys the recipes! Please leave a comment if you wanted any of the other ones!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Um, can you say gorgeous?

The weather today has turned out to be wonderful! This morning I was scraping frost off my car and bundled up in my coat, but now it is warm and sunny! Woohoo!

In addition, today was a good day at work. Again, for every bad day I have it always seems like another one is right around the corner. I got a phone call early this morning from Boss #3 congratulating me on a doing such a professional job presenting new pricing and information to one of our clients, that had many problems with another manager in the division, but will now be one of my accounts.

Yay for happy days!

Monday, April 14, 2008

The oh so elaborate dinner planning, this is long

If all of my readers don't think I am totally crazy when it comes to food, you definitely will in this post. Geez, I tend to start out a lot of posts like that, don't I?

Anyway, my husband and I are hosting dinner for four friends on Thursday evening. And while I certainly love grilling some burgers and throwing some chips in a bowl or having a chili dog/nacho bar (big hit with friends), often times I decide that I just need to do something more. I really haven't had too much time lately to do some of the cooking that I used too when I was a full time chef. I really miss garnishing, plate presentation and just putting things together. So for Thursday I decided to do the "theme" of tapas.

Quick definition of tapas....little plates meant to share. Very closely resembling appetizers, but originated in Spain as little dishes to nibble on between drinks. However, the modern day tapas don't really follow Spanish is more just a little dish or appetizer that is meant to be shared. Fun concept right? It seems to fit perfect since we are having a group over that will definitely be drinking and can now nibble on little bites between those drinks.

Plus, I totally have another motive. I have been itching to try out some new ideas/recipes and doing little samplings for my friends and getting feedback is a great way to expand my personal chef menu for the summer.

So the first step in the whole planning was the actual menu. For a couple weeks I would randomly put ideas into my pda. I think when I looked at it last I had about 25 options, which is about 3 times more than I needed, so I had to start eliminating. Big first step is to think about a good mix of hot and cold. Normally doing a lot of cold food is much easier to do because most of it can be together and ready, while hot food is more of a timing issue. You get into drying out, overcooking, etc. In addition, I had to keep in mind a good variety and foods that work well together even though they are very different. Plus, identifying the people I would be serving. One is a vegetarian, but at least one other is very meat and potatoes.

Next big decision was the actual number of dishes to prepare. Since tapas aren't a traditional meal with one protein, starch, veg, etc. it is hard to determine how many dishes to serve. Nathan tried to convince me to pick 6. He thought we have 6 people, 6 different dishes should be plenty! The number 6 really scared me though. It really doesn't leave me with any room for error or not serving something that doesn't come out right. I ended up choosing 11, which doesn't include the dessert or this palate cleanser I decided to throw in.

If all goes well and I don't change my mind the tapas menu is as follows:
Turkey Burger with Grilled Pineapple topper on Sweet Roll
Brown Sugar Bacon
Thai Chicken Satay
Spicy Boiled Shrimp
Jambalaya Corn Bread cups
Crositini two ways: Red Pepper Ricotta Brushetta and French Onion Gouda
Black Bean Corn topper
Roasted Garlic and Bean Spread with Crusty Bread
Marinated tortellini
Crudites display of asparagus and carrots
Pomegranate palate cleanser
Homemade cinnamon roll ice cream

Quite the spread right?

Most of these I have no recipe for, so I had to write down all my ingredients and from there I was able to make my shopping list. Which was actually the easy part. Next I broke down each recipe/idea into a prep list so I could stay organized and work on the dinner on evenings prior to Thursday. Things like chopping, marinating, baking the bread, etc.

Next step was to consider the staging of the food. I recommend this to anyone planning a dinner regardless of home many guests you have. I set the table and figured out what platters and serving items I would be using and marked them with a post it note to stay organized. It's a good thing I did this beforehand, because no way would have all my larger platters fit on the table with everything else. I also try to think about using height while doing this. For instance, instead of laying my shrimp on a plate, they are going to be served in a couple margarita glasses. I actually pulled Nathan in on my decisions because I was running out of room and he help me make some decisions.

So besides the actual cooking that is pretty much it. Not too bad, right? I seriously have the best time planning these meals!

It's official

It's official, I haven't blogged in 6 freaking days! Terrible, I know. I mostly blame Nathan. He has been home in the evenings and doesn't appreciate me being on the computer for a couple hours. In fact, all of my computer activity has suffered. Wayy less time on forums, e-mail, and just quick glances at Google Reader to make sure I don't totally fall out of the loop.

Personal updates- The yard is still needing a ton of work. The grass going over the drain just doesn't want to grow, and I can't blame it, the weather isn't cooperating. Speaking of which, I don't know if anyone else was up at 5 am today, but as I was getting in my car it was starting to snow. Yep, snow. Of course it didn't last, but still, snow in April is just wrong, period. (Julia, I don't know how you do it, I would go crazy.)

Work isn't too fabulous still, but no need to get into specifics. I am sure once the regular semester is over for the college things will be better. I don't like being hated by anyone (yep, it is that obvious now) but I guess that goes with being a manager, sometimes you have to be the bad guy.

On a brighter note, I am getting some fun stuff in this week. A few friends are coming over Thursday night for a dinner party and I've had so much fun planning it. I think I am going to make a whole separate post about the planning and the menu and all that good stuff.

The "quest to be healthy" is going pretty well. I few minor set backs this week, but no biggie. Nathan is really doing great! As soon as he adds just a few more veggies into eating him will be set.

Ok, more later.....I vow not to go six days again.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

an open letter

I am stealing this idea from open letter:

Dear blog readers that comment,
I really appreciate your concern about my crappy work situation. This week it appears the situation is resolved for at least the time being and I don't have to fear about losing my job.

Dear team member,
If you don't think I am smart enough to realize that you stir up shit with other team members, then you are underestimating me. Please discontinue this behavior. It will not help you in the long run.

Dear Boss #1,
I did mean it when I told you that you could use me as an excuse to your semi-crabby mood. I think it would be believable that my new "diet" is making me cranky and that new cranky attitude is rubbing off on you.

Dear Boss #2,
I may kill fellow manager that you supervise and I just wanted to let you that upfront.

Dear fellow manager just mentioned,
You have been making my job VERY difficult. I am now going to have clean up a mess that YOU made and I don't appreciate it. Just because you don't give a damn about following procedure doesn't mean you have to screw over those of us that do.

Dear Weather,
For the love of God, please stop all this rain! You are making yard work impossible.

Dear Yard,
You are ghetto, but just because you have accepted defeat doesn't mean I have to. Start regrowing the grass already!

Dear Husband's company,
I love having my husband on day shift. We are able to accomplish so much more instead of trying to cram in all projects and errands on the weekend. Please do not all of a sudden schedule a training group at night and ruin my happiness.

Dear Husband,
I love seeing you during the evenings. I love the fact that you agreed to try and be healthier by going on this meal plan. Thank you for driving my drunk ass home on Saturday night and not complaining about it.

Dear Jenn and Brian,
I will never again say in your presence, "I will drink, but I can't drink too much because I don't want to be hungover tomorrow." Because obviously this was the kiss of death. I will also never ask you to step foot in that bar again, but I can't promise I won't ever try to make you "sing" karaoke again, because that is just too much fun.

Dear stomach,
I get you are starving, get over it. The first week is going to be the worst.

Friday, April 4, 2008

An update

Well, today was a long 10 hour day, but I am ok. No job lost, no big confrontation, it's all good.

As some of you have read in previous blogs I and my immediate boss had to give our reviews with our head chef. All went well we thought. But a particular employee was upset about some points that she had been deducted off. My boss felt like he addressed the issue with her, but she didn't feel the same way and called the person above my boss. I don't want to go into too many details, but it is obvious this employee is dealing with depression and she had a down week. How the discrimination thing ties in makes very little sense, but for the time being it looks like my name is in the clear.

Even though no one from my job knows about my blog (cause, yeah, they are old/technologically challenged and have no idea what a blog is) I won't go into anymore detail.

I really appreciate the comments of concern, last night and this morning when I had no idea what was happening was definately scary, and getting some moral support really helped me.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The bad feeling

Well, readers, my bad vibe was not a false alarm. I had been trying to get a hold of my District Manager to touch base on a few things since yesterday and he just called me a few minutes ago. An employee that is at my unit, but I don't directly surpervise, apparently accused myself and my immediate boss of discrimination. I don't know what her reasoning is and very few details; however, no matter what it isn't a good situation. And while I don't think I will get fired over it, its not like this is all going to go away. I am about to go look at job listings just in case.

I don't think I am going to get much sleep tonight. Freaking sucks.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Is it Friday yet?

Seriously, has this been the longest week ever for anyone else? Work has been ok, but crazy busy. And my two nights of staying up until *gasp* 10 or later has left me feeling tired but also restless.

Luckily, I took my restlessness to the streets and Roxie and I went for a long walk. She loves doing that and with all the rain, it hasn't been happening very often. Plus, I feel myself getting unhealthy so I need to get back to walking her regularly.

And on the unhealthy note, Nathan has agreed to join me in starting watching what we eat. I don't really like the word "diet" but we are definitely going to be cutting back on lots of the foods that are terrible for us. I have been trying to be healthier forever and it has always been a challenge because Nathan doesn't do it with me, and now finally he wants to make the effort! :) And he has agreed to do evening walks with Roxie and I which is super exciting because Roxie and I love walking buddies.

So over the next few weeks feel free to ask how "the quest to be healthy" is going. It will definitely be motivation to keep it going if people are asking.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Another great half asleep story...

Last night I woke up to some noise on the back porch. I looked over at the clock at it was about midnight, so I figured it was Nathan putting out the trash can for today's pick up. The noise continues and I hear foot steps going all around the porch and what sounds like the yard too.

Ok, no way it is taking him this long and so much effort to put out one trash can with one small bag in it. I can hear more movement. By this time Roxie is up and barking and I am glad. This is obviously not Nathan and hopefully she is scaring whoever or whatever it is into leaving. Nope, I still hear movement. I reach for my phone. Of course, Nathan had left his phone at home, so I couldn't call him and find out if he was close to home.

I am freaked but I still get up slowly and try to see out of the corner of the window. Much to my surprise it's Nathan leaving the back porch and walking to the front of the house. I bolt out of bed and jump out the front door.

"WHAT are you doing!?! Are you trying to kill me?"

He cluelessly replies, "What?"

"What were you doing on the back porch for so long !"

"I was moving the extra bags of topsoil I bought today for the french drain. If Roxie hadn't been sleeping in our bed you wouldn't of even woken up and known." (Roxie sleeps in her crate, but 90% of the time that he is on nights she stays in bed with me until he gets home.)

At this point, I am so crabby I just turn around and walk back into the house. Everything else is kind of a blur due to my sleepy state.