Thursday, September 29, 2011

Caught You!

I caught one of the Owners of my firm playing with his iPhone during a guest's presentation yesterday.  When he saw me walking by he very slowly put the iPhone down. 

I should have grabbed it and told him he would get it back after class.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quick Dish: Chicken Noodle Soup

This past weekend I was not feeling well.  The cure for my illness included laying on my couch in my PJs while watching reruns of The Simpsons.  Don't judge me.  You handle your illness how you see fit and I'll handle mine as I see fit.

Part of the recovery process also included some homemade chicken noodle soup.  Nothing feels quite as comforting as a hug from momma like a bowl of delicious soup.

I started the soup by using an entire carton of unsalted chicken stock over medium heat.  I added a diced onion, three carrots, four celery stalks, a handful of celery leaves, three cloves of garlic, a handful of fresh basil, two handfuls of fresh parsley, two handfuls of slice mushrooms, and a tablespoon of sea salt.  I covered the pot and let the vegetables cook through.  I also had some leftover rotisserie chicken that I cut up into chunks and added it to the soup.  I added a cup of uncooked elbow noodles (I ventured into the gluten free product section) and turned down the heat to low, recovered the pot, and let the soup simmer during the amount of time it took me to organize my jewelry box and do laundry ... roughly 20 minutes.
Delicious gluten free pasta!
The end result is an amazing concoction of immune boosting taste.  The FDA has not proven my "immune boosting" statement but it felt like it because I feel 100 times better today.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Finish Line of Year One

Today marks the one year anniversary of the boyfriend and mine's first date.  On the surface, our first date was nothing outrageous.  We went to dinner and then a walk around the park.  However, I felt like our date is what Hollywood movies are made of; magical without the 3-D effects or pyrotechnics.

I'm not sure how I have managed to hide my psychotic personality from him for so long but it seems to be working.  He has yet to run for the hills or gather the village people to hunt down the monster that dwells inside me. 

Every woman has it inside her to be normal one minute and then a complete basket case the next.  Most of us do a good job of keeping the Wicked Witch of the West hidden but sometimes guys can be guys and the only solution is to open a can of whoop ass and get crazy.  The boyfriend, while very much a guy (and sometimes has the humor of a 12 year old boy), has yet required the open can of whoop ass.  Kudos to him, but more of a kudos to me for looking beyond the typical guy behavior and being appreciative of his good nature, good looks, and good sense of humor.

It also helps that I read Dave Barry's Guide to Guys.  Barry's book breaks down the guy's need to race lawn mowers into a way that women can understand it.  Simply ... guys are idiots.  Barry's words, not mine.

My boyfriend is not an idiot but he is a guy.  A guy who I appreciate for making me laugh during a rough week, enjoying nerdy documentaries as much as I do, and reminding me that life is too short to not enjoy every minute.  I'm fortunate to call the boyfriend mine ... including all of his guyness. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Best Commercial Ever

I love Tivo because I hate commercials.  However, if you have seen the movie "UHF" with Weird Al Yankovic you automatically love the commercials the small TV station airs.  If companies created commercials like the one below I might give up my love affair with Tivo.  Might, but not likely.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Part 1: Lousy Larry

I worked with a certain individual in a former life who is ... unique.  That is the nicest way to put it.  In order to protect the innocent (me) I have named him Lousy Larry.  I have a treasure trove of wonderful stories of how Lousy Larry drove me insane.  This is the first one.

Lousy Larry: You know the project manager for that project is a woman.  And she's asking a lot of questions that project managers should know. 

Me:  Maybe she wants to clarify the information that is being passed around.  You know, get everyone on the same page.

Lousy Larry: (ignoring my comment) It is kind of embarrassing that she is asking all of those questions.  She is not giving female architects a good name.

Me:  That's like saying you are the prime example of the male species and, therefore, all men are idiots.

Lousy Larry stared at me in disbelief that I would talk back to a man and then promptly stormed out of my office.

Julie: 1
Lousy Larry: 0

Friday, September 23, 2011

Singing On Key Is Not Part of My Job

When I get tired ... and I mean slap-yo-momma tired ... I sing.  Off key.  As loud as I can.  This act does not give me more energy but it does wake up me up long enough to finish whatever I'm doing so I can go to bed.

Lately, I have been singing at work.  I'm hoping they'll ask me to go home early.

Don't you wish you worked with me?!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Iron the Big Girl Panties

The boss came walking down the line of offices yesterday and said, "Where's Mary?"  I said she hadn't been in all day.  He replied, "Oh, I guess it is Monday!"  (Mary takes a lot of Mondays off for vacation.  All approved by management.)  The co-workers and I looked at him, corrected him and said it was, in fact, Tuesday.  Mary was out sick.  He sighed and said, "You guys never get my jokes." 

So I popped off and said, "Oh, so when you aren't in the office we should all think it is Friday?"  (The boss takes a lot of Fridays off and forgets to tell anyone he won't be in.)  He laughed and then quite frankly said, "Oh, shut up."

Dang, someone's panties are in a wad.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hearts & Hammers

Today is the first day of Hearts & Hammers.  This event gives companies and organizations the opportunity to give back to the community.  My company, along with some companies we work with on a continuous basis, will be sprucing up a house for an elderly lady.

Our duties for the workday include scraping the paint from the siding, replacing boards, repairing lights, moving plants, and painting the porch.  The homeowner is 91 years of age and will be celebrating her 92nd birthday the day after her house is complete. 

I don't know of a better birthday present to give than a home that is spruced up and safer for the family to enjoy their mother/grandmother/great grandmother's birthday.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Office Sneezing

I have been sneezing like crazy in the office.  The weather is changing but I don’t sneeze when I’m at home or outside.  So I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I did a Neti pot wash this morning.  Don’t know what that is?  Here is the summary of it: put water and a saline solution into the container, put head over sink, pour solution up one nasal opening and then the other, stand clear of anything that pours out.  This is supposed to clear the naval cavities of any irritants.

You know what happened?  I am still sneezing at the office.  Therefore, I have proven that I’m allergic to work.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dumpy Day Fix

Have you ever had one of those days where it feels like nothing is ever going to go right?  My dear and wonderful boyfriend is having a week full of those days.  Poor fella.  However, he still looks very attractive throughout the entire process.  That may not make his week better but at least I have something yummy to look at.  (If you read this, dear boyfriend, I think you are dreamy.)

Not to make light of his down-in-the-dumps week but we have all been there.  I once had a stint of a few months that really sucked.  During those times I am reminded of "Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb".  In one of the final scenes, Major Kong rides the bomb all the way to explosion by riding the device as a cowboy (hat waving while whoopin' and hollerin').
In case you are wondering, it would be totally awesome to have that kind of freedom and carefree way when a down-in-the-dumps kind of day hits.  However, I do not condone or support nuclear weapons.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Walt Disney's Intentions

Sometimes Disney movies teach us a thing or two about being human.

‘Bambi’ taught me that if I have nothing nice to say then say nothing at all.  There are severe consequences if you lie, according to ‘Pinocchio’.  In ‘Dumbo’ being different is great.  Some decisions in life are difficult to make like in ‘Old Yeller’.

I recently watched ‘Tangled’.  Not sure what kind of life lesson I am supposed to take away from that movie.  Defy my mom?  Run off with a guy I barely know?  Paint on my bedroom walls?  Seriously, I’m not sure.  It was a cute movie, though. 

However, I did steal one line from the movie.  After the bar scene (IT IS A KIDS MOVIE! WHY IS THERE A BAR SCENE?!), a short old man walks out of the tavern and says to the hag, “Someone get me a glass.  I just found a tall drink of water.”

I used this amazing line at my office.  The architect who sits next to me in our open concept office plan is a 50-something former construction worker and a little rough around the edges.  When he walked in late one morning I used that line on him: “Someone get me a glass!  I just found a tall drink of water.”

Best.  Reaction.  Ever.  He stood there, speechless, staring at me. 

Thanks, Disney.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Blue Steel Moments

My house has a long hallway that leads to the two guest bedrooms, guest bathroom, and master suite.  There is nothing amazing about this hallway.  I have some artwork hung on the wall, there’s a hall light, and the linen closet is at the end.  Trust me, it is a regular hallway.

It is regular until I feel sassy.  And I ALWAYS feel sassy.  At these moments in my life I transform my regular hallway into a fashion catwalk. 

I practice my model stomp, pose, arms swinging, and blank stare.  I try to perfect the look of “I’m better than you in every way” that models tend to have on the catwalk. 

Additionally, I also like to walk like the country girls from ‘America’s Next Top Model’.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about then imagine a dog wearing shoes.  It is a horrendous walk but OH-SO-MUCH-FUN to practice in my amazing (transformed) hallway of fashion.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Debating Swagger

Do you know "swagger" when you see it?  And is it a good thing?

Merriam-Webster defines swagger as "arrogant or conceitedly self-assured behavior".  Well then!  Posh on all those swaggers out there!

But wait a minute.  What about Urban Dictionary?  What does it have to say about swagger?  "How one presents him or her self to the world. Swagger is shown from how the person handles a situation. Swagger is to move with confidence and sophistication."

If you go by the Urban Dictionary definition maybe one would say that James Earl Jones has swagger or Kate Middleton is the epitome of swagger.  However, if you use Merriam-Webster's definition then I'd put Charlie Sheen or any politician on that list. 

I personally use the Urban Dictionary definition.  There are some people who exude confidence and they automatically draw you to them because some part of them you aspire to be more like.  After all, Kate Middleton's swagger helped her wear those funny British hats and snagged her a prince.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Quick Dish: Okra & Tomatoes

I may live in a big city but I grew up country.  As a kid I thought having scabs on your knees was the way it was supposed to be, getting a spanking for acting up was a parent’s duty to make sure you never turned out to be a felon, and building forts in the living room on a rainy afternoon kept Momma sane and the my brothers and I busy.

I also come from a family who lived on very little.  My family had a garden in our yard that grew tomatoes, cucumbers, cantaloupe, and whatever else would grow in the Texas heat and red clay.  One year my dad showed us which row was for the Hamburger Helper … we used to eat a lot of that stuff so we might as well grow it.  (We also ate ‘Zebra’ meat but that story is for another day.)

Visiting the farmers market this past weekend allowed me to live a little of my childhood.  I am a bit obsessed with okra.  Pickled?  Yes.  Steamed?  Yes.  Cooked with tomatoes?  Double YES!  Therefore, last night I cooked all of the fresh okra I bought on Saturday with a can of diced tomatoes, some fresh tomatoes, a splash of chicken stock, and sea salt. 

I used Kumato tomatoes since they were what I had on hand.
In case you are wondering, I’m pretty sure this dish is on the buffet line in heaven.  You literally throw everything in one pot on medium heat and cover it.  Sweet Baby Jesus!  It tastes like my grandma walked in with a fresh batch of okra from her garden and cooked it.  No special spices or herbs … just plain garden goodness. 
If you grew up country or are in need of an escape from the concrete jungle please make this dish.  Not only is it healthy but it is also simple.  A simple dish to mimic the simple life.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Climbing One Rung at a Time

I attended a luncheon yesterday provided by the Richardson Chamber of Commerce where Anne Motsenbocker of JPMorgan Chase spoke about climbing the corporate ladder.  To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect from the luncheon but the atmosphere offered great networking.  I couldn’t pass it up.

Anne is the President and Regional CEO of Chase Commercial Banking.  She is a great public speaker (even if she is a banker) and connects well with the audience.  She told us stories about getting constructive criticism from a former boss that was quite blunt.  However, that criticism was probably the best advice she ever got in her career.  Anne also told the audience about giving feedback to an employee that was difficult to give but it has allowed her to be a better manager.  She also took a tongue lashing from a client for losing meeting notes.  She said it was well deserved but it also taught her to be more organized and to graciously say “I screwed up”.

I was actually amazed that Anne opened up and shared with the attendees career details that were not always pretty.  It made me feel a bit more human and gave me a little boost to continue to keep climbing the corporate ladder while pulling other people up with you.  She pointed out that many times individuals think they have to step on other people to get ahead but a career is more satisfying if you can look around and enjoy the view with those individuals who you have encouraged to keep moving forward and the other individuals who have been mentors along the way.
The networking was great but I truly enjoyed the main attraction.  I’ve had highs and lows in my career but listening to a successful woman tell about her highs and lows makes me want to keep pushing up the ladder.  However, if the winning lottery ticket comes across my ladder I’m taking a VERY LONG vacation.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Words of Wisdom from Homer

Some days are rough.  Those days require a little pick me up.  My pick me up?  Watching guys getting hit in the family jewels. 

Sadistic?  Yes.  Hilarious?  Most definitely!

I realized that I have the same reaction to all of those ball-hits-groin home video clips as Homer Simpson.  His reaction is below. 
And maybe Homer has a point about American work ethics.  I wonder if the current Presidential candidates will reference Homer's point of view in their discussions about creating jobs.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Shout Out: Four Season Farmers Market

I absolutely love farmers markets.  The produce that you can find at these outdoor markets are seasonal, delicious, and the person who grew it will tell you a million different recipes on how to cook the one item you purchased from them. 

I was pleasantly surprised this past Saturday when I visited the Four Seasons Richardson farmers market at II Creeks off of Custer Road.  The farmers market is every Saturday from 9am until 2pm (or until the weather permits).  The vendors offer various goods as well: fruits, vegetables, brisket, tamales, wine, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, clothes, jewelry, honey, salts, rubs.  This past Saturday there was also a dog adoption group with the various members who were looking for their forever home.  The entire market is pretty spectacular and a diamond in the rough. 

Some of the things that emptied my bank account included a magical lime wine from a winery in Rusk, Texas.  It tastes like a margarita but it is definitely a wine.  I can’t wait to have a Mexican food dinner party so I can share the bottle.  Free samples were handed out and those samples really do sell the entire bottle.
Lone Star Cellars is spectacular!
I also bought a bottle of olive oil infused with parmesan cheese and walnuts; a glorious dipping sauce for bread, a quick salad dressing, or a lovely addition to a bowl of pasta.  Again, samples were provided.  YUM!
The fruits and vegetables did not pass my eye either.  I went ahead and did all of my weekly shopping for the week: sweet potatoes, onions, green beans, squash, okra, peaches, jalapenos, green tomatoes.  I could have bought more but I ran out of money.
Items I also brought home but have not yet tried are brisket tamales and Hawaiian sea salt (very hard to find).  I’m tickled pink to have ventured out and found a place that you can have a conversation with someone who actually knows the product and will be honest with you (if a peach looks bad they will pull it and give you the best one they can find). 

You need to check the website to see which vendors will be at the coming week’s farmers market because some rotate out.  I can’t wait to go exploring this coming Saturday!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Healthy Dose of Giggles

Have you ever said things just to get a reaction?  I sure have.  It is so much fun!

I like to say things that people only think.  For example, when I’m at a work networking event I will introduce myself to a stranger by saying “Hi, I’m Julie.  I’m kind of a big deal.”  If they laugh then I know I can keep talking to them.  If not, then I move on to the next person.

Last week one of my co-workers was worked up over some project details.  Another co-worker told him to “leave it alone” because those details would work themselves out without interference from our company’s end.  The conversation stopped.  I butted in and yelled, “Stop messing with it!  You’ll go blind!”  Lots of giggling ensued.

The other day I was at the bank with two other folks from a professional organization I’m a part of to switch some contact information over on a business account.  The bank representative was trying to make small talk and asked our group how our organization made money.  My answer … “embezzlement”.  I was bored.  And the bank representative’s face was priceless.  (Keep in mind that we were joking around with him the entire time.  Don’t try this in the first few sentences with a bank representative.  The other two people were honest with him.  We are in the clear.)

Life is too short not to make fun of it.  I need a healthy dose of giggling on a daily basis just to remind myself that the best things in life are hilarious.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Who Stays Organized?

I love it when I am organized.  Everything has a place and my brain doesn’t have to work so hard to find stuff.  It is amazing at how efficient I can be when items are in order.

And then another deadline pops up unexpectedly, a project has to go out now, the laundry needs to be done, the dishes are piling up, a meeting is needed now ... and all my beautiful organization goes the way of the Dodo Bird.
That one day I'm organized is amazing.  Then there are those 364 days out of the year that I pray for an Organizing Fairy to come down and get it done for me.