Sunday, October 30, 2011

a whole week off!

today was a really nice day.  not only was it my birthday (i guess technically speaking, it still is) and i got to go out to a nice restaurant with my husband, but today kind of officially starts my week long vacation.  i had 41 vacation hours accrued, so i decided to take some time off in between gigs.  partly to give me a chance to shift gears, partly to give me some time to get some stuff done, and partly because why not? a week off to myself sounds awesome. plus, at the end of the week i'll be ready to go back to work, and so am hoping i'll also be less nervous about starting something new.  ha!

my mom, aunt and niece came into town today to help me celebrate too.  i'm telling you, that maggie is getting smarter every single second. she kills me.  she also drew me a ton of amazing pictures in my birthday card, and i know i'm biased, but the kid has some skills.  they came armed with salami, artichoke dip, and presents, so i was more than pleased to see them.  my mom bought me this beautiful yarn bowl, with squirrels and acorn on it, my aunt found the only three anthony bourdain books i didn't have, and maggie gave me a couple of kinder buenos, which are one of my favorite candy bars.  yay!  it was an all girl afternoon; D was at work, and the boychik was out with his friends.  it was nice to see everyone and catch up.

i have a list of things i want to get done this week, i'll post the major points tomorrow and then we can see what i actually get done.  i'm excited about buying some new clothes this week too, even if i am a bit chubbier than i would like to be.  i helped the boychik take his senior photo tonight, because it's due tomorrow and OMG we are good at procrastination, but i think this one is the winner.
what? not enough boy? too much cat?  can there even be such a thing?!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

two weeks

i know i mentioned a few weeks ago that i had a job interview.  it went well, but because i had gotten my interview so early in their process, they told me up front that i would be waiting two whole weeks to find out if i got it or not.  two weeks is a long time.  i know for a fact that D thought the past two weeks were actually four, because i was kind of antsy and spastic and distracted and sometimes not too nice.  being nervous makes me snippy.  i finally got a call this week and guess what? i got the new job. 

such a happy sigh of relief.  i'll still be in health care, albeit not in a physical way.  i'll be a customer service rep for an insurance company.  answering calls from customers about their plans, helping people get authorizations for procedures, dealing with doctor's offices and other insurance companies, that sort of thing.  no more scrubs, no more getting up at zero-dark-thirty, no more giant magnets and patients who can potentially poop/pee/puke in them.  no more dentures.  (which is so exciting to me. body fluids are disgusting, don't get me wrong, but watching anyone take out their teeth gives me the heebie jeebies.)   the new job starts at a higher hourly rate as well, and because i'll be working for an insurance company, we'll all have coverage and benefits from day one.  score!

my co-workers so far have all been honestly happy for me and pleased.  going into this, the thought of leaving them behind has been one of those things i tried not to think too hard about.  i truly enjoy them.  they're smart and funny and interesting, they care about patients and making people feel better.  they're genuinely nice folks.  i'm going to miss them terribly.

overall, though, i am excited.  looking at buying some new business casual wear (i have nothing appropriate, and what i do have doesn't fit).  anxious about fitting in at the new place, of course, but looking forward to learning something new and making a little more money.  it's time for a change.  in fact, it's pretty overdue.  i was so busy moving and getting married and getting settled that i put this off a lot longer than i should have.  change isn't usually my favorite thing, but i'll make an exception in this case.   

Monday, October 10, 2011


yesterday we all went to a birthday bbq for D's niece and nephew, where we ate too many ribs, giant slabs of chocolate cake, and lots of delicious nibbles in between.  i have to admit though, i felt kind of young and out of place.  my sister-in-law is D's age, but she's the youngest of her siblings, and one of her nephews is my age.  meaning everyone was a lot more grown-up than me, and wanted to talk about church and their grandkids.  not going to church or having grandkids, i was kind of out of the loop. i will also admit that this no-drinking-until-the-end-of-the-month thing i have going on kind of killed my ability to make small talk.  i suppose it didn't kill the ability so much as it thoroughly quashed any desire to chit chat about shit i don't have or care about.  that makes me sound like an irritated wife, doesn't it? (i'm not!) i know this new in-law stuff isn't going to be all sunshine and puppies, since all families are annoying in their own ways, and while i kind of understood i was marrying into a family of people who have the capital F kind of Faith that i'm not used to, i did not realize how much they would all want to talk about it.  where i come from church-y stuff is mentioned only AT church and never discussed the rest of the week.  it seems weird to talk about it in public.  as weird as peeing with the door open in bunch of a front of a strangers. yesterday D had a full-on conversation about the End Times with a man i though looked kind of mild-mannered.  while eating a piece of cake.  evidently i underestimated this man, who is freaked out about future financial and global ruin, and is able to quote all kinds of scripture. ha!

the moral of this story is this: i'm glad i always bring some knitting with me, and it's a good thing i like talking to little kids.  it is also kind of pleasant to think of 34 as being "young."

Saturday, October 08, 2011


i could eat squash every day.  butternut, acron, blue kuri, kabocha, you name it.  i will begrudgingly add zucchini to that list, only because we got way too much of it this year from my in-laws and i am kind of sick of it.  although the one thing you can say about zucchini is that you can add it to just about anything, and very few people notice.  tonight i'm goofing off with the crockpot, like i did last saturday.  white beans, butternut squash, some rosemary and chicken stock, and in a few hours we'll see if it's any good.

i've also been really into quinoa lately, because of the way it pops and crunches when you eat it.  it's the weirdest grain.  i haven't yet been able to make it mushy either, which is a plus.

overall, now that we've lived at the house for this long i feel like i should be making more healthy dinners, and have been working at that.  using the crockpot more, making more veggie dinners, less eating out, that sort of thing.  i'm also not drinking this month, not for any good reason except i'm not.  well, until my birthday.  i want to be able to have a drinky on my big day!  i will admit i'm curious to see if not drinking will do anything to my weight.  i think the last time i stopped, i lost seven pounds in a month while doing literally nothing different.  eep.  i know i love beer, but i had no idea i loved it SEVEN pounds worth.  hee hee...

Thursday, October 06, 2011

i accidentally made a vegan dinner

it wasn't anything extravagantly vegan; a simple squash curry with a mixed rice blend.  my in-laws keep giving us zucchini and while it's good, at this point i'm done trying "new" things with it and going back to what i do best, quick curries and various starchy sides.  i mix it up sometimes, with quinoa (ooh! exotic!), or brown basmati rice, but honestly, i just really like curry.  indian curry, thai curry, pidgin curry, it's all comforting to me.  i apologized to the kids for being so hippie tonight, but they didn't care.  i forget sometimes that the will just eat what i cook, with very little complaints.

a few weeks ago i bought D a book for the kindle, trying to get him interested in using it.  both he and the boychik are sometimes reticent to try new things (even though technically the kindle IS the boy's), so i thought if i bought a book i knew he wanted, he might try it out and see what he thought.  (he liked it. go figure.) the book i bought was wild fermentation, all about making various pickled things, breads, and beverages.  ooh, and cheese.  we're familiar with the concept because D grew up making kraut the old-fashioned way as a kid, and we've made many batches of kimchi.  this book is pretty fun, though, and has recipes for making kombucha, ethiopian honey wine, tempeh and other weirdo things.  the author is, as one would imagine, VERY into fermentation.  sometimes his writing made me giggle because he's just so darn earnest; he truly believes in all kinds of fermentation.  he's fervent about fermentation! my tastes do run toward the sour, though, so of course after reading about krauts all day, i had to come home and make some.

above are two simple krauts.  one made with cabbage, tart apples, and caraway seeds, and one made with only brussels sprouts.  making your own lactic acid pickles is seriously fun, and the juice the veggies produce is kind of fizzy on your tongue.  i love that so much.  it's hard to explain, but there's something about things that "pop" that do it for me.  i do think that fermented veggies are good for you, so it's fun to make and try them. (and relatively guilt free; you can't make a greasy pickle, after all. unless you fry it.) i like the experimentation aspect to it too, and seeing how a food can go from one flavor, to another, in a very radical way, with one or two added ingredients and some time.  i promise not to go too crazy and show you every pickle i make, but tonight i was a Super Hippie StepMom!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

cheese freaks

sometimes i miss being the cheese girls at the grocery store.  i do really love cheese, and it was fun to work with a food so versatile and lovable.  i mean honestly, the people who dug cheese and came in for fancy varieties were super fun to work with.

this weekend during the festival of family farms we hit up a wonderful local diary that makes some spectacular cheeses, the golden glen creamery.  while we were there looking at baby cows and seeing the cheesemaker at work i bought a few containers of fresh curds.  some of you may know them as "squeaky cheese" because when you bit into them, they make a squeak against your teeth.  they are delicious right out of the package, thrown in a salad, deep fried, or used to make poutine.

if you have never heard of poutine, much less tasted it, i'd like to offer my deepest condolences. not to put too fine a point on it, poutine is fucking amazing. it's rich and creamy and involves gravy and potatoes, with a hefty dose of curds sprinkled on top.  it's stick-to-your-ribs, this-really-does-make-my-ass-look-fat, food.  certainly not an everyday indulgence, but if you can't splurge on occasion, then i see no reason for living.  poutine was invented in french canada, but there are a million different varieties and ways to make it and eat it.  my favorite is beef gravy, fries and curds.  simple, and to the point.

lucky for me i have a husband who excels at both making gravy and home-made french fries.  we made a platter of poutine for dinner and all sat around it with forks.  i can think of no better way to eat it, surrounded by people i love, with a big old couch to settle into when we're done.

also on the way this week: cheese making supplies so we can make our own curds.  i got to make some cheese while i was working as a cheese girl, but it's been too long.  plus, D has been into wild fermentation lately, and he wants to make not just pickles and krauts, but also cheeses.  yay!

Monday, October 03, 2011

where do you see yourself in five years?

i had two job interviews last week, and then promptly took a few days off work.  the job interviews were at the same place; one was a series of placement tests to see if i even qualified for the interview, and the other was the actual interview.  i know the testing went okay because i got the interview, and because not to toot my own horn, but i am a great typist. i know, i slack at using proper punctuation in my blog life, but in real life, i own that shift key. the proper interview went well, i think. you can never really tell unless you get the job, as far as i'm concerned, but the ladies i talked to seemed reasonable, down to earth, and nice. they actually did not ask me where i saw myself in five years, much to my delight. i explained that i just needed a change of pace, in a job that hopefully let me do the parts of my job that i currently love (which is, grossly enough, helping people freaked out by health care to be less freaked out), with less body fluids and more opportunities for advancement.

the act of going to interview and putting on clothes that weren't my ratty old scrubs was exhilarating. i love scrubs because they incorporate my favorite aspect uniforms (not having to think about what to wear) with the ease and comfort of pajamas. coincidentally, i also enjoy being monochromatic. however, putting on clothes that did not make me think of work, that could be worn with something other than crocs or tennis shoes, that looked good with mascara and that i could wear bobby pins* with, was amazing. i think it was at that moment that i realized what having a new job could mean for me (and for my family). i'm not guaranteed the job, by any means, and i still have two weeks to wait and see what happens, but driving out there, taking tests and answering questions made me feel like i was actually doing something about my situation instead of just lamenting it. talk is cheap, as we all know.  making an effort, trying for something new, feels good.

everyone at work is already acting like i already have the job, but i'm wary about getting too excited. i'll miss my co-workers, and feel like for the first time in a long time, i've actually made real, honest-to-goodness friends there.  people i'll still get to see if i leave.  people i do honestly care about and want to keep around.  i can only hope that if i do get another job, it will be with a similar group of people.

*you can't wear bobby pins around and MRI machine, unless you want to lose some hair.    

Sunday, October 02, 2011

family farms!

this weekend was JAM PACKED with action and adventure, via the annual skagit valley festival of family farms. we went about two years ago and had an awesome time, so this year i took my stepdaughter and a friend of hers out for not one, but TWO days of farm madness.  we had a great time; we saw a million different animals, saw how different farms work, ate elephant ears and apples right off the tree (what, you've never seen an elephant ear tree? sucks to be you.), took a million photos and used a lot of hand sanitizer.  good times. 

the best part for me, beside seeing cute, baby animals, was listening to the girls in the backseat as i drove them around.  pre-teen girls are funny and sweet and completely wacko.  they come up with games that make no sense, they giggle at everything, they clam up if they know you're listening, but if you keep quiet and let them sit together in the back seat while you chauffeur them around you get to hear a lot. what i came away with was the certain knowledge that both kids had a fun time, and that this is something they'll remember fondly when they get older.

to add to my pot of good-mom-points, i also made them pumpkin, chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast this morning.  ahem.  you can send my medal right to the house, i don't need a fancy ceremony.  photos, as usual, are over here.