Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pain Meds and TV Don't Mix

I have been laid up in bed or on my couch recovering from the tonsillectomy of a lifetime (specifically, my lifetime).  There is not much to do other than read books, watch movies and surf TV channels. 

Reading books doesn't get very far before I start to snooze and lose my place.  Then I have to spend a half hour trying to find out the last thing I remember reading before picking up again only to fall asleep 15 minutes later.

Watching movies is much the same as reading a book.  If I start a movie I won't finish it and so the next time I start it over from the beginning only to fall asleep at the same spot again.  It is a torturous cycle!

My last option, surf TV channels, is interesting.  As I begin to fade into sleep I take tidbits out of whatever show I'm watching and subconsciously insert Simpson shows.  For example, watching NCIS will quickly turn from Jethro interrogating a suspect into Jethro interrogating Homer Simpson.  Or, Doc Martin (British show) will check on the school children in the fishing village Port Isaac.  And Lisa and Bart Simpson happen to be in the classroom.

Not sure why 'The Simpsons' characters get put on display in my half dazed TV watching but it does make me smile.  I might be drooling while I smile but it is a smile. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Colorful Welcome

I have a large plant pot near my front door that has been bare for a while.  The lack of plants is not because I was not trying.  The shrub I had planted there six months ago never took but I watered it and wished for it to come back.  The shrub had other plans, though, and turned a lovely shade of yellow before skipping town.

Mom has come to the rescue.  Her green thumb has graced my front door and now the house shouts "Welcome!" instead of the previous "eh". 

Even the lovely bunnies holding up the pot were a gift from mom several years ago.  I don't know how she does it but everything seems to work perfectly together.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Flowers Do Amazing Things

A wonderful friend brought me flowers today to help speed up my tonsillectomy recovery.  The bright gerber daisies can only make you smile when you see them.  And if you are smiling then things can only continue to get better.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cupcake Creation

My niece, Izzy, and mom spent an afternoon of baking and decorating cupcakes in my kitchen.  The reason for the cupcakes ... "just because".  I loved cooking with my grandma and my mom is an amazing baker and chef.  Now her grandkids are getting to play in the kitchen and reap the rewards of granny cooking lessons.

The cupcakes were a yellow cake with chocolate and white frosting.  Izzy loved decorating them!

Granny got in on the decorating action, too!

Izzy had to have one cupcake before rushing off to her next appointment (playground with her dad).

Izzy's full day also included capturing a village of rollie pollies.  Amazing how she can go from baking cupcakes to getting dirty with pill bugs.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Recommendation: Murder by Death

I love funny movies.  I am not a big fan of the corny movies or the comedies that are predictable.  I like the one-liners that sneak up out of nowhere and smack you in the face with laughter.  It takes a little more brain power to "get" the joke but at least you feel like you are being a part of the movie watching experience.

That's why I'm recommending 'Murder by Death'.  It has a wonderful cast including Peter Falk, Truman Capote, David Niven, and Peter Sellers.  The film came out in 1976 with the tagline "By the time the world's greatest detectives figure out whodunnit... you could die laughing!"  And the tagline is true.  This is one of the few films that had me laughing out loud.

So, if you are looking for a comedy/crime/mystery movie that is done well and will have you laughing at a clever screenplay I highly suggest 'Murder by Death'. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

So Long Stupid Tonsils

Today is the day of my tonsillectomy.  An adult having their tonsils removed is supposed to be one of the worst recovery experiences a person can have.  However, I have been called childish and immature on numerous occasions.  Let's hope that comes in handy.

So while all of you are enjoying a nice, long Memorial Day weekend I will be in a medicated induced haze while eating ice cream and soup.  Actually, some of you might have the same weekend plans.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Shout Out: Home Depot

Please note that I am not getting paid to write this blog (however, I'll be happy to change that).

Having become an owner of a house I have come to realize something; things break constantly.  Thankfully, I live two miles from Home Depot and I venture there often.  So often that the greeter gets a big smile on his face when he sees me and says "Hello, Darlin'. What project are you working on today?"  Plus, the Home Depot staff who helped me when I had a severe sprained wrist (loading things onto my cart and helping me get items into the SUV) still asks me how my arm is doing.  I sprained my wrist 7 months ago.

I have been to other similar stores but I don't get the same kind of service.  I usually get someone who is trying to up-sell an item to me that I do not need or if I need to ask a question no one knows what I'm talking about.

Me: "Wet vac!  It sucks up water!"
Half-dazed associate: "Um ... you ain't supposed to use a vacuum on water.  You could get electrocuted.  You know, like, zapped."

Home Depot staff members seem to be knowledgeable about everything.  And if one Home Depot-er doesn't know how to fix a problem they will ask another Home Depot-er but that first Home Depot-er does not leave my side.  They are in the learning process, too.  Many times the staff of Home Depot has saved me from having to purchase an expensive item because another cheaper item will do the same thing.  Plus, they remind me, if it doesn't work out bring back the item for a full refund and they will find something that will fix the problem.

Home Depot seems to remember that customer service goes a long way.  I'm sure their hours are long, not all customers are pleasant, and the pay should be better but kudos to those Home Depot associates who make doing home projects a little less agonizing.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Quick Dish: Where's Waldo Pasta

After a fun filled Sunday of working on my AC unit, condensation pump, climbing in the attic, making a trip to Lowe's, making 3 trips to Home Depot, rewiring the new condensation pump, and taking apart my front door lock I was finally able to get to the important stuff ... like grilling.

I've heard that kids don't like vegetables (maybe it is a rumor because I have not read a fancy-pants-university study about it) but chefs on TV say that if you mix veggies into a dish kids will unknowingly gobble it up.  And I don't remember when TV has EVER lied to me.  So I created the below mad scientist concoction I happily call Where's Waldo Pasta.  It is a healthy dinner plus a fun game.

Dad: Jimmy, can you find the mushroom? 
Jimmy: (search through pasta) There it is!  Wow, what a great game!  And delicious!

What?!  Your family doesn't live in Mayberry and you don't go fishin' at the fishin' hole?!  Gee golly.

As I was saying...

I grilled asparagus, a red pepper, a mushroom pouch, and a garlic pouch.  Be sure to grill and clean the red pepper properly.  The mushroom pouch included a cup of sliced mushrooms, one tablespoon of unsalted butter and a dash of salt.  Other ingredients included broccoli, cherry tomatoes cut in half, chiffonade of fresh basil, a wedge of lemon, really good olive oil, and fresh parmesan.  I added the fresh broccoli to the pasta water as the pasta was almost done (about 30 seconds).  This takes some of the crunch out of the broccoli and showcases the bright green of the vegetable.  Additionally, the pasta water adds a bit of salt to the broccoli.

I used wheat spaghetti noodles for the dish.  Mix the cooked noodles with the chopped up vegetables.  Drizzle with olive oil (probably 2 tablespoons), squeeze the lemon wedge over everything, sprinkle a little sea salt, and add cheese to the top.  I also had some herbed chicken grilled so I added that to the dish.  It was so delicious that as I'm writing this post I'm licking the bowl.

I'm a huge fan of vegetables, but the grilled vegetables almost mask the fact that this dinner is 85% vegetarian.  And to top it all off, I found each ingredient during dinner.  Take that, Waldo!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Real Life Bob Ross Landscape

There was a line of storms that came through Dallas/Fort Worth this past week and the ruckus in the atmosphere made for a beautiful sunset.  I don’t think Bob Ross could have painted one better.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Quick Dish: Paper Salmon

This dish is elegant but simple to make.  I had some leftover wild caught salmon in my freezer (used half of it for a previous dinner) and found this recipe on one of my favorite sites.  Plus, I had all of the ingredients on hand and that meant paying absolutely nothing for a great dinner.  And when you cook at home that means you get to sit Indian style on the chair with no makeup applied in a t-shirt and shorts that are quite wrinkled (I try not to do that when I go to a restaurant).

Place a quarter cup of frozen peas in the middle of a piece of parchment paper (paper must be large enough to wrap the fish in) and lay the salmon on top of it.  Drizzle a teaspoon of really good olive oil on the fish, spread a clove of chopped garlic on the filet, sprinkle your favorite spices on top of that (I used some spices from Paris), add a splash of fresh lemon juice to the mix, and top it off with a good pinch of sea salt.

Wrap the fish in the parchment paper (some people may want to wrap it again in foil to secure the pouch) and place on a foil covered cookie sheet.  Put the cookie sheet in an oven set at 500 degrees for 5 minutes and then turn down the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the fish after baking for 12 minutes at 350. 

You can either serve the fish in the pouch or place the fish and peas directly on dinner plates.  I served the fish with Parmesan couscous mixed with edamames.  Delicious and light … a great summer dinner.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pink Snow Beats Yellow Snow

When you are faced with working from home or taking a snow day what would you do?  Let me emphasize that I live in Texas.  Texas does not have a ski resort.  Texas does not have snow plows.  Texas roads are not made for snow or ice.  When it snows in Texas an angel gets its wings and the Dallas Cowboys win the Super Bowl.  Kidding.  Dallas Cowboys don’t win the Super Bowl.  Ever.  Major fail, Jerry Jones.

I digress. 

In February 2011 the Dallas/Fort Worth area received tons of snow.  So much snow that there were rolling black outs, people were stranded on highways, and my fireplace was going non-stop.  It also meant that my office was running on minimal staff.  Only those of us that live in a five mile radius of the building came in and the rest worked from home.  However, the heat in the building was on the fritz so I worked in the office wrapped up in my Snuggie, shuffled around in my fuzzy slippers, and spiked my coffee with Baileys.  Except for the last Friday of the 2011 Texas snowstorm.

The dusting we were supposed to get turned into 6 inches of pure powder (good job, meteorologists).  I elected to work from home because I was tired of freezing in the office.  I’d rather sit by my own fireplace (sadly, I left the Baileys at the office) and be able to work without shivering.  Decision was made, email sent to the bosses and the fireplace was roaring.  I ventured out into the white yonder to snap a few pictures of the serene landscape before cranking out productivity from my home computer.

And that’s as far as I got.  I saw the neighbor building an igloo and my “working from home” turned into “SNOW DAY!!!”  I’m a big fan of taking every opportunity life throws and life threw a snowball on Dallas/Fort Worth.  My transformation from professional adult who works from home by a fireplace to six-year-old running around the neighborhood freezing took all of a nanosecond.   My neighbors and I spent our day building snow blocks and coloring them (my own concoction of water and food coloring).  I never have regretted my decision to play outside in a rare amount of Texas snow because I always have other work Fridays (and working from home on Saturdays) but not another snow day for at least one year.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Never Want To Go Back To Black & White

I saw this clip on KERA the other night.  It is a beautiful love story told in under six minutes.  Romeo and Juliet, Paris and Helena, Scarlett and Rhett ... these famous couples have nothing on Danny and Annie.  Grand gestures of love are nice but not able to be sustained.  For me, the simple things in a relationship are what builds a bond, continues to let your loved one know that you care, and brings a smile to your face throughout the day.

The simple things seem to show true love.  And I think Danny and Annie's story is proof of it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Evil Stairs

I treated myself to the trip of a lifetime in 2009.  Greece.

I saw ‘Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’, ‘Bourne Identity’, and ‘For Your Eyes Only’.  I am a huge fan of Greek mythology and history.  I love a Greek diet.  I figured I was prepared.  I had seen the pictures, heard the stories, and ate the food.  What else could I do to get ready to go to my ideal vacation spot?

If you are considering going to Greece please remember what I’m about to tell you … GREECE HAS AN UNGODLY AMOUNT OF STAIRS.  And they are not good ol’ fat American stairs.  They are Greek dieting stairs; big enough to put your pinky toe on.  Plus, the stairs on the Greek islands are white washed.  This means they are blinding to the naked eye and slippery like slugs.  Even when you see the Acropolis you think “Amazing”.  When you realize there is no elevator or escalator you think “Amazing.  They aren’t ADA compliant”.

No one told me this!  The movies never portray these evil stairs.  Apparently, having Matt Damon slip and land on his lovely bum would not fit the image of Jason Bourne.  I am not sure why not because I’m sure his endearing buttocks are insured.  Paintings of Greek history always show ancient Greeks lounging and being fed grapes.  What the painting did not depict was their crutches because I’m sure they are lounging from having broken their leg on a trip to the Agora.

So, when an American tourist has to trapeze down a mile of evil stairs with the knowledge of having to climb back up to the hotel utilizing a harness, safety net and parachute (just in case) the idea of the Hollywood vacation vanishes.  The trip to Greece has now turned into a Stairmaster boot camp.

In all honesty, after the third day you forget about the stairs because you are now concerned that your hamstrings are going to rip in half.  However, since the good shopping is near the shore line (at the end of the evil stairs) the trek is made because you have to have that shiny plastic trinket for 7 euros.  What a bargain!

Would I go back?  Definitely.  Should I train by running The Dallas Cowboys Stadium three times a day for 7 months?  Yes, but I won’t.  The culture, people and scenery are amazing.  No place like it on Earth.  The stairs may be hell but the experience is heaven.

By the way, the food was amazing.  Nothing to complain about there.  Even the grape feeding was true!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bob vs. John

Not sure what made me think of an interview I went on several years ago but it is too funny not to share.

In 2005, I interviewed for an event coordinator position with a museum at a university in Texas that specializes in agriculture/football/general studies.  I was meeting with the director of the museum and three minutes into our conversation I wondered "How did he get into his office?  His head is huge!"  This director thought more about his ego than a true southern woman thought about who shot JR.  The event coordinator position was turning out to be not promoting the museum but promoting how the director had magically came to Earth and the museum was lucky enough to be in the path of his teleportation.

One of his questions was "What would you recommend to get people to come to an event at the museum (to bask in my glory)?"  I threw out four or five examples of things I had implemented in the past which had worked for other companies.  After each example he said, "We've already done that.  It didn't work.  What else?"  His body language was saying "I'm bored and I find asking you questions very entertaining.  If you worked here I'd treat you like dirt because it would please me."

This interview was going no where fast and I realized I did not want to work with this director.  We eventually ended the interview and as I was leaving I turned to tell him thanks for the visit.  (Keep in mind that he was on a high because he had the pleasure of telling me how amazing he was for over 45 minutes.)  So I said "Thanks for your time, Bob!" and quickly left.  Five steps away from the door I realized I called him "Bob" instead of by his real name "John". 

I never want to wish anyone bad fortune but I do hope his bubble burst a little bit that day.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Quick Dish: Pineapple X-Press

I love spending my Sundays grilling in my backyard.  And I also love to experiment with food combinations.  I can't call them recipes because nothing is written down and no measurements are taken.  However, they can be duplicated.  There's something about cooking food without a cookbook that makes me feel partly creative and partly like a mad scientist.

Here's my food combo for the Pineapple X-Press ...

Peel and slice a fresh pineapple into 1-inch thick rounds.

Next, press light brown sugar (about 1 teaspoon per slice) into the pineapple slices.  The juice from the pineapple will turn the brown sugar into a syrup.

Place the pineapple on a hot grill and let the brown sugar carmelize both sides.

After removing the pineapple, add a pinch of sea of salt to the warm fruit. 

WARNING: If you serve Pineapple X-Press with vanilla ice cream you might enter a third dimension of AWESOME!

Twizzler Tree

I am in a constant battle with the weeds and vines in my backyard.  My best defenses are the weedeater, lawn shears, chemicals that kill everything (except weeds), and colorful language. 

I have lived in my house for almost a year and I just noticed the Twizzler Tree today.  It is amazing.  One of the vines grew around the tree and the tree fought back by growing around the vine.  Not sure how long it takes a tree to do that but I'm glad to know that people have been in the same war against weeds for quite a while.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Quick Dish: Tortellini Salad

When you have a weekend that is full of "To Do" lists and places to be yet still need to put together a side dish for a BBQ get together this is a great and quick recipe.
  • 1 cooked package of tortellini
  • 1 head of broccoli (florets only)
  • 1/2 cup of Ranch dressing
  • 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Stir all of the ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  The crunch of the broccoli, tang of the Ranch dressing, sweetness of tomatoes, and cheesy goodness of the tortellini is a definite crowd (and taste bud) pleaser.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Toilet Paper Comes From Trees

I like to walk around my neighborhood early in the morning to get landscaping ideas.  I can see which plants do well in shade, which shrubs look best next to a house, and which flower beds have the best curb appeal.  I was tickled pink when I saw the "toilet paper" tree this morning.  Not sure I would want that in my yard but kudos to the crew of misfits who did a bang up job making the tree look marvelous.

Solar, Solar Everywhere

Had the great pleasure to visit the new Carroll ISD middle school in Southlake with the general contractor, Bartlett Cocke.  The project is utilizing solar and geothermal energy.  Over 50,000 square feet of roof space has proven to be the perfect place for solar panels.  The system was easy to install and will have the capability of providing the 2-story school with half of the estimated energy usage needed.

Another cool thing about the project is that it was awarded a renewable energy grant that covered 80% of the cost for the solar panels.  Carroll ISD is blessed with lots of sunshine ... and football.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Daffy or Donald

Found this fella on my morning walk. At first, I thought "This is pretty cool!" Then my thoughts went to "Is he making fun of me?! Do I waddle?!"

Jokes on him. I can fix my waddle. He is stuck with his.

First Post ... YES!

Welcome to my blog. I expect great things from this venture ... Nobel Peace Prize, perhaps.