Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pistachio and Chocolate

Today's post will be brief, as I have a little person tugging on my jeans, signing "more" for a piece of bread (the stand in for the cupcake he originally asked for).

I wanted to try another new cupcake in time for the boy's game night. On a fairly regular basis, my brother, husband, and brother in law get together to play board games on a week night. It's fun for them and a quiet night for whichever wife isn't at the host house.

Tonight, I decided to send a manly cupcake. Earthy colors, nothing pink or frilly. Salty and sweet, but most importantly, delicious.

Again, I wanted to make something that didn't require a special grocery trip, so I searched the pantry and found that I had a bag of pistachios. With that, the decision was made.

And the decision was delicious.

The recipe for the cupcake and frosting follow - I had to shell my pistachios, which is time consuming and starts to hurt your fingers after a while, so I would recommend getting them already shelled. Also, mine were salted, which I didn't mind since I like the salty/sweet combo. But if you aren't a fan of the salt, buy unsalted.

Pistachio Cupcakes (Makes 24)

1 c. unsalted butter at room temperature (2 sticks)
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 cups unsalted, shelled pistachios, chopped into a coarse powder
2 1/2 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract
1 c. milk
a handful of pistachios for garnish

Heat oven to 350.

Cream your butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and beat till smooth.

In separate bowl combine your dry ingredients. Add a cup at a time to the butter/sugar mixture. Alternate adding milk and dry ingredients. Add extract and pistachio powder.

Pour batter into cupcake liners (in pan) 3/4 full. BAke 20-25 minutes or until the cupcake springs back slightly to the touch.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (will frost 12 GENEROUSLY, or 24 lightly)

1/3 cup butter
8 oz cream cheese
3-4 cups sifted confectioners sugar (go with 4 if you want to have stiff piping frosting...I used 3)
1/2 cup cocoa (I prefer dark chocolate cocoa...if you can afford good stuff, get it. otherwise, hershey's DARK is the way to go)

Cream butter and cheese. Add sifted sugar and cocoa.

If you like pistachios, you MUST try these.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Your Weekly Cupcake

I've never been much of a baker. While I have always loved to cook, there was always less occasion to bake, and it didn't draw me like cooking. I know it has everything to do with the exacting nature of the act. Measurements needing to be just so for things to turn out, leaving little room for experimentation. Or at least that is how I saw it.

When I would bake, since I did it so infrequently, I didn't have any of the proper tools to make it easier, so it made me dislike it even more. Some time ago, when it looked like the hubs was employed again (but turned out to be a disaster) we purchased a stand mixer. A beautiful, bright yellow stand mixer. Combine this new "toy" with a diminishing hatred for math and everything exact, and you get a new interest in baking.

The other day, I posted a Facebook status asking people what flavor cupcake, if they could have any, even if it didn't exist. The comments came flooding in. Which inspired me to try making a new cupcake every week. It doesn't have to be "new" (e.g. I can make red velvet if I like) but it has to be from scratch, cupcake to frosting.

Sunday, I set about making my first one using ingredients I already had in the house. Being that its actually cold in Florida right now, I really liked the idea of a spice cupcake. I love ciders and mulled wine this time of year, and I knew I had plenty of cinnamon, nutmeg and even some crystallized ginger in the pantry, so this seemed like a doable idea.

Now, I am not a big frosting person. I have a tendency to scrape it off of cake when offered a slice. I DO love cream cheese frosting, but outside of that, I don't know of many others, so I thought this would be a really good area for experimentation. Plus, pairing a flavored frosting with the spice cake sounded like fun.

Having been sick the past week or so, I knew that we had plenty of citrus in the house, which inspired me to create an orange buttercream frosting. I love using citrus when I am mulling wine, so it seemed like it would be a good pairing.

In the end, the cupcakes were tasty, but the frosting is what really surprised me. The orange buttercream was awesome and so simple. A perfect fall treat (even if it is winter. :) )

Photo taken without contacts - forgive the quality

Spice Cupcake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg and/or allspice
chopped crystallized ginger (2 T or more depending on how much you like ginger)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter or non-hydrogenated margarine, softened
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, spices, ginger and salt. In a larger bowl, beat the butter until it’s pale and creamy. Pour in the sugar and continue to beat for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each.

Stir the vanilla into the milk. Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir it in by hand or with the electric mixer on low speed, just until it’s combined. Add about half the milk in the same manner, then another third of the flour, the rest of the milk, and the rest of the flour, mixing just until the batter is blended.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350.

Orange Buttercream Frosting

1/4 C butter
2 C confectioners sugar
orange rind (1 T)
3-4 T orange juice

Cream butter and sugar. Add rind and OJ.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


No, this is not a post about the movie (which I have yet to see, and probably won't see it in theaters).

My sister recently had friends over for a movie night that consisted of the original TRON, and being that I had signed up to bring a dessert, I thought I would get creative and make lightbike cookies.

Before showing you the results, I think it is only fair to mention that I have NEVER frosted cookies. Piping bags are completely foreign to me, so the learning curve on this was STEEP.

And yet, I persisted.

Not only did I frost and pipe these bad boys all on my own, I had to create a template for the shape. (Print out picture, transfer it to cardboard, trace in cookie dough around cardboard...)

So here they are, in all their glory:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sloane - Winter Issue!

It's that time again. Sloane's Winter Issue is here!

Check it out.

And check me out - page 80. I promise I'll find something to be bitter and snarky about in the new year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Unscheduled Hiatus

It's me again. Trying to come up with excuses for not writing in my blog.

Some tell me that having a 16 month old (that's right, he is that old now) is a good excuse to neglect most long as you aren't neglecting your kid.

(As I start to type this, Jonas comes up, yanks on a USB cable and comes dangerously close to toppling my laptop and Vitamin C water, then cries when I tell him cables are not toys. This is a prime example of why I have not blogged.)

And I have to admit, being home all day with little interaction with anyone who isn't the kid or the dog, sometimes I feel I have little to write about. Life observations tend to be saved for when I need to write a new rant for Sloane (plug plug plug), and quick quips have become Facebook statuses and Tweets.

But, I still feel the need to keep people updated.

So, first, the boy. And by that I mean Jonas.

Jonas with his cousin

As I stated, he is 16 months old now. He is very active - always trying new things...climbing, sliding across the floor - everything. He seems to add new words to his vocabulary every day and lately has a strong interest in numbers and letters. More than his cars or stuffed animals. Everywhere we go you can hear him suddenly yell, "Nuh! (translation: "number" which also refers to letters) Once he spots a sign of any kind, he then insists that you read the letters and numbers to him.

The cool thing is that he actually seems to retain the information. The other day I asked him to go get me a three. He runs off to the other side of the room, away from where most of his foam letters are, and returns with a big number three in his hands. I know that is what we all do, we learn and retain, but its just amazing to me to see the process from the beginning, ya' know?

For those of you that don't get to see him on a regular basis, he is also quite the entertainer. He likes to dance and will intentionally do things for a laugh. Don't know where he got the need to be a people pleaser from. :/

"I do my own stunts"

There are probably a lot of other things about him I could tell you, but I guess that is where regular blogging would be more handy.

In non-Jonas news, the hubs and I are still jobless. That would be 16 months for him and nearly 12 for me. We are still doing our best to look at everything positively (how awesome its been for Jonas to have both parents home with him during this early part of his life) but also realistically (like planning what we need to do if/when we lose our house...which is becoming more of a reality). Most days I can still remain calm and composed about it. Other days the anxiety gets to me. But there are fewer of those thankfully.

The hubs is working on some of his certifications in an effort to help him find work, so the hope is that when the new year rolls in, he'll have the qualifications and confidence to apply for some positions he wouldn't have before. And what happens between now and the spring may determine whether or not I choose to go back to school. (Yep. That's a whole other post for another day)

So there you have it.

Current Mood: Blech. I'm sick!
Currently Listening to: J read letters off of a picture to Jonas.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Or brookies. Or cooknies. Or, perhaps, crowkies even.

Whatever they should be called, I decided today that I wanted a brownie. And a cookie. At the same time. Without having to make both. I needed something that would satisfy both desires with a minimal amount of work and ingredients. We are on a budget in this house, after all, and there is a 1 year old running around to care for.

So, I set about looking at many recipes, and finally settled on a sugar cookie type recipe combined with some cocoa.

Nothing fancy about it - simple Hershey's cocoa, eggs, flour, sugar; the kitchen staples.

The dough was sticky and dark and looked like brownie on the beater. I had to resist eating it out of the bowl.

3 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 c butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 c unsweet cocoa

Preheat oven to 350. Mix flour, salt and backing powder in a bowl. In mixer, blend butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and cocoa. Be sure to go slow so you don't end up sucking in a cloud of cocoa (it's a lot less pleasant than it sounds).

Add flour mixture in until you have a lovely chocolately dough. Wrap it in plastic and stick in the fridge for an hour at least.

Roll out the dough (whenever I say that, I have a flash back to "Perfect Strangers"...the episode where Balki makes Bibibobkas?) on a floured counter OR use confectioners sugar. I do the sugar so that the scraps that keep getting re-rolled don't become tough cookies.

"When you're rollin' out the dough, just be sure you roll it slooow..."

Bake on parchment paper (I used natural wax since it was all I had) for 8 to 11 minutes, until edges are firm and the centers soft. The cookies don't grow, so don't think they aren't cooked. They look almost the same going in as out.

Cool on a rack, if you have one. Or be ghetto like me and put them wherever you can.

The best part about the finished product is the variety of ways you can enjoy these.

As the top and bottom of an ice cream sandwich. With peanut butter. Dipped in whipped cream.

So many delicious possibilities. But just as they are with milk works perfectly too.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Back to the Drawing Board

One of the bad things about being slightly (ha, slightly) irregular in posting is how much can change between posts.

Like, remember the part where I told you our income woes were solved and the hubs had a jobby job? Yeah. Not so much anymore.

Turns out, the new job expected the world of him. They expected to be his world, which, when you have more important things in your life, you just can't do. Even if he lived in some other world where he was willing to make a job his number one priority in life, it would at least be a job that provided some benefit in exchange for such devotion.

This job had meager benefits at best, a horribly sad amount of vacation time, and pay that, while fine for a job, was not enough to justify never seeing his family.

He tried his best to stick it out and still take care of the more important things in life. So, after three weeks, they let him go. Amiably, in a "it's us, not you" kind of way.

But still, it smarts a little.

We are good though. Positive that when you put the important things in life first, life will ultimately be good.

Beans and rice never tasted so good.

Currently listening to: Jonas sing and dance to standards
Current mood: Oddly optimistic ?

(and for those of you who love pictures in the posts...

Jonas, assisting me in my last shoot, poses while I test the lighting

One of the shots of the twins from the shoot (see more at

Monday, August 30, 2010

Do Fun Stuff!

"Do Fun Stuff" is available today! This album, put together by Ryan Marshall, is a compilation of varying artists who all contributed their time and efforts, all in an effort to drive awareness and funds towards Smith-Magenis Syndrome. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this album will be used to establish a SMS Research Fellowship that funds a graduate student to study SMS and support the SMS community.

Check it out!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


For those of you who haven't already heard...the hubs is now employed!

(And there was great rejoicing)

Last week, while we were driving two and fro running errands, he realized that he had missed a phone call and checked his voice mail. I watched in the rearview trying to determine who the call was from and whether it was good news. We were expecting to get a call sometime that week about a promising opportunity, so I had a feeling this was it.

And I had a feeling it was a no.

I'm not generally negative about most things. But for some reason, I wouldn't let myself think that we were going to be relieved from the stress of figuring out how we were going to survive much longer on no income.

So when J hung up and said, "I got it" it was all I could do to keep from crying.

I had done so well handling the fear and anxiety associated with living without a paycheck for so long, I think all of that emotion just said "finally!" and tried to make a break for it.

Once he got back in touch with them, the process was VERY fast. Offer letter emailed over, signed and he was asked to start Monday. No time to adjust - for any of us.

But we don't mind. 'Cause a paycheck is a good thing.

Jonas and I are slowly developing our own routine, playing together, reading, and napping (also, together :) ). I've been surprised that I have been keeping up with the cleaning and such, stealing five minutes here and there while he is playing independently. So all is going well.

Thanks everyone for their prayers and well wishes over the past year.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Speaking of cloth...

If any of you are moms, mom-to-be's, or considering a gift for a soon to be mom friend, check out cloth diapers. It's amazing how cute and easy to use they are now.

I recommend checking out for information and product - and they are having a giveaway this month! The first place winner (if they reach their 1,750 fan goal on Facebook) will get an AppleCheeks Little Bundle in the color and size of their choice!! Check out their blog for details on how to enter.


Singular sensation...

Sorry. Randomly breaking out into show tunes is not a terribly unusual event for me anymore. That's what over a year of lack of sleep does to you.

Jonas turned one today. I can hardly believe it! As he naps with daddy, I have a moment to be a proud mommy.

It has been an amazing year. Lots of work, but, as any parent worth their salt will tell you, totally worth it.

And, I am happy to report, that despite some of the naysaying I have managed to do some of the things I set out to, like:

- Breastfeeding. At age one, I am still his primary source of nourishment. He is a super healthy little boy because of it (I believe). No major sicknesses as of yet, barely even a cold!

- Cloth Diapering. I got a lot of "we'll see how long you last" looks when I said I was going to give this a try. And yet, as of today Jonas has worn two disposable diapers over the course of a year. That's right. Two. Diaper rashes? Zero.

- Signing. We actually just started this one about a week ago. Yesterday, as Jonas watched his favorite program Oswald end, he turned and looked and me and signed "more". Pretty cool.

This is not to say that everything has gone as expected. He started walking at nine months - so baby proofing areas and chasing him around and keeping him from climbing on things started earlier than expected. He still sleeps in bed with me. (Yeah, I gave in on that one...but he loves it there, and I love having him there). And as adorable and sweet as he is, he has a very strong will (the nice way of saying he is stubborn) so there are days where we have our work cut out for us.

But again, all totally worth it.

I mean, look at this face?

Monday, August 2, 2010


So many excuses for my neglect of the blog...

I'm behind on writing a piece that is due...well, soon.

I have been busy editing photos (you can check out the latest shoot at

Jonas. Really, there isn't a need to say much more than that.

But I promise, I will return soon.

Monday, June 21, 2010


For any of you who haven't seen it yet, I put together a photoblog for my photography business

One of the features of the photo sessions I do (I think) is the retouching. I've found that while a lot of photographers out there will edit for color balance, effects, etc...many leave blemishes, extra chins, and other unflattering things in the photo. Or they charge extra to take them out.

For me, being horrible in front of the camera, it just seems like the thing to do, erasing the unwanted features from an otherwise great photo. I can't tell you how many times I wished that someone had told me before taking a photo that the way I was standing gave me an extra roll of side fat, or the way I tilted my head multiplied the number of chins I had. I wished even more than once the photo was taken, those items could be removed.

So, a before and after:

Gorgeous subjects, but she didn't like the "rolls" that her shirt created when she was hoisted onto her man's shoulders...the photo otherwise is too cute to discard, so...

...rolls be gone!

Already, very cute girl, but the skin isn't pristine (I mean, who's is a that age)...

..and, voila!

Even I have been subject to my own editing... you really think I was going to post a before of me? :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

What's New

I hate posting just to "update". It doesn't feel very blog-like.

But that is what I am doing.

First up, the Jonas update. He is ten months old now and walking all over the place. It started last month sometime and now he is a little expert. He is freakishly strong for someone so small. (As I type this, he is yelling at me and making my office chair, with me it, swing back and forth.) I don't recall ever seeing a baby with calves like his.

And I guess, walking and being ten months old means he's not so much a baby anymore. More like a toddler.


Non-Jonas update - I've put together some of my photo sessions at Yes, I am finally making a go of turning my hobby into income. With J and I still out of work, it seems to make sense to give it a try. And so far the response has been good! So, positive thoughts for me, ya'll.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Maternity Shoot

So I completed my first maternity shoot Monday. (and there was much rejoicing)

The good: I learned a lot. And my subject, despite being due two days after the shoot (today!) was a pleasure.

The bad: The spot I had planned on taking a LOT of the photos was closed off for renovations, so I had to improvise.

The ugly: I don't think there was an ugly, which is good, considering we are talking photos here.

A few highlights...

Yannin plays piano. Beautifully. We took some shots at her mother's house, where her piano is, so I wanted to be sure to feature it.

In the backyard. An orange tree seemed appropriate for a Florida born baby.

Still at mom's house, the "I'm pregnant so I am going to stare wistfully out the window" shot.

I love taking belly pictures. It's the one time in a woman's life that you can be proud to show off the roundness. :)

It was a bajillion degrees out, so ice cream seemed like a good idea.

The light right at that moment was perfect.

Don't know why, but I love train tracks.

This was our air conditioning break in the Pottery Barn. She was still so relaxed after wandering around Park Ave, I just love this picture for what it is.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Another Before and After

I took wedding photos for a friend a while back and really liked one of the photos - unfortunately, there was a sunburst right over the bride and groom's faces. Since I have been playing with da' PShop, I thought now was as good a time as any to see if I could salvage that photo.

Not perfect, but not bad, eh?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Before and After

I downloaded a trial version of Photoshop the other day, just to get a feel for how it works. So, if I am missing from the blog for the next 20-some-odd days, it is probably because I am spending my spare moments teaching myself how to edit photos while I have the free trial.

One of my first experiments - brightening up (with a few extra retouches) this adorable photo of one of my best girls and her man at their wedding.

Here is the before...

...and the after...

Also one of my first attempts at working with layers is a picture of, you guessed it, the little man.

I promise, something that resembles writing will be here again soon.

Listening to: Silence (Jonas is hangin' with his grandparents)
Current mood: Satisfied

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I've been spending the eve researching photo editing, software, etc... as I consider putting more time, effort, and one day when I have it, money, into photography. Next week I should be doing a maternity shoot for a friend, so I'll have more to put into a portfolio.

The idea of doing something I enjoy for pay is appealing, albeit a little frightening.

Having someone pay for your work is giving them the right to criticize it. Sometimes its nice to live in a world where people compliment what you do on the side because it's good...for being "on the side".

So we shall see.

I would have more to say, but I'm exhausted. Will post more soon...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

In Touch with My Roots, this is not a post about my hair. As exciting as a tragic run in with a bad dye job would be, I have to disappoint you.

But, being that most of you are foodies, I think you will recover quickly.

As mentioned in a previous post, Sunday I planned (and executed) a big family dinner. Most of the time, big dinners at my house are inspired by some Food Network, back issue of Gourmet amalgam, but this time my inspiration came from a little closer to home.

Having a Cuban father, I have fond memories attached to delicious dinners care of my Abuela (grandmother). I remember standing in the kitchen watching and listening to her create all sorts of wonders - the sizzle of hot oil, the rhythmic smashing of tostones, and the amazing aromas of slow cooking meats. Despite the language barrier (she never learned a ton of English, and I sadly know even less Spanish) I was most comfortable in her presence when she was cooking.

Despite these memories, I have never actually attempted a proper authentic Cuban meal. So I set about making a "pernil" - a slow roasted pork shoulder, along with tostones y maduros (green and ripe plaintains) and then a not quite Cuban dish, pigeon pea rice.

The pernil had to be he star of the dinner table, so I focused the bulk of my efforts on it. I focused so much, that I sadly have no pictures to share. But I will share the process.

Saturday early afternoon, I prepared the marinade. First, I threw about a dozen garlic cloves in the food processor, along with a bunch of cilantro (bunch as in the unit they are sold in, not as in "a lot"), and about a handful of fresh oregano. Pulse. Then, I set about accomplishing an upper body workout in the midst of my prep work by hand juicing 4 oranges and 4 limes. I tossed the juice in with the garlic mixture and pulsed a bit more. This was followed by a slow pour of about 2 cups of olive oil with the processor on.

Before pouring the marinade over the pork shoulder, I scored the thick skin at the top, and then made several deep stabs through the skin and into the meat. I placed the shoulder in a deep bowl and covered it in the marinade, making sure that the juices made their way into the deep gashes in the shoulder. The pork was now ready to be covered and hang in the fridge until Sunday morning.

So, Sunday morn arrives - at about 10:30 I heat the oven to 425. Once the temp is reached, I threw the pork and part of the marinade in the pan, leaving it on 425 for about 20 minutes, then knocking it back to 325 and covering with foil.

Throughout the day I would lift the foil, baste, and return the foil to its place.

I used the rest of the day to clean, prepare the pigeon pea rice*, the tostones/maduros and all the last minute things you do when having people over.

At about 4:30, I removed the foil and raised the temp to 375. I shut the oven off at 5:15.

The outer skin was dark, but not burnt and the house smelled amazing. I could only hope that it tasted as good as it smelled.

By time everyone had arrived, I was just finishing frying up the plaintains and the table was full with rice, warm buttered Cuban bread, watercress, tostones, maduros, sangria, and finally, the pork.

My brother was asked to carve only to find that the shoulder fell apart as you touched it with the knife. Plates were passed around as everyone got ready to eat.

And I held my breath.

I should take this moment to point out that my mom is a good cook. My brother is a good cook. My father and sister are particular eaters. Feeling like they were all happy with the meal was going to be a very big deal to me.

And then, there it was. The compliments. Sincere, honest "mmmm's" coming from all the aforementioned people. And people going back for seconds.

It made the day of cooking and cleaning completely worthwhile. That, and the fact that I was getting to eat it too. And it was, indeed, yummy.

I think I might have done my Abuela proud.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Tomorrow, the inaugural edition of Sloane is here!

Why am I excited?

Well, aside from the fact that it is a new eZine for the sophisticated, 30-something woman, I am a contributor.

(and there was much rejoicing)

So, friends, please take the time tomorrow to check out and tell your friends! Tweet, text, blog, bling. :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

One Delicious Step Back...

...or so I am hoping. At least the delicious part.

This is a brief post to rejoice in the fact that when I weighed myself this morning, I was 18 pounds down from where I started. I can almost say I have lost TWENTY pounds. Amazing.

I'm saying it now, since tomorrow we are having a family dinner here. I am making pernil (roast pork shoulder) with arroz de gandules (pigeon pea rice), as well as tostones y maduros (fried green and sweet plaintains). There will also be delicious Cuban bread, and a yet to be revealed dessert.

Given the work that will go into this, and the, what I hope to be, delicious results, I will be indulging.

So for the moment, while I do prep for tomorrow, I will rejoice in my weight loss progress, and prepare for a little gain to work off when Monday comes.

Listening to: Jaycel quietly watching TV as he holds a sleeping Jonas
Current Mood: Hopeful.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Losing It

Nearly a month later, here I am. Updating.

You would think that the lack of employment would mean some regularity in the blogging department, but alas, I continue to slack. In my defense, I am still taking care of a very mobile 8 month old. And when I AM on the computer, it's usually to job hunt. By the time I've finished perusing postings for positions that require extensive knowledge, experience, a bachelor's degree and oh, hey, can we pay you $9 an hour, I am not so much in the chatty bloggy mood.

But then, the guilts of leaving you all in the dark hit. So here I am.

I admit, I have good tidings to tell. I've lost some weight. More than some, actually.

Can you guess?

THIRTEEN pounds, ya'll. Yes. 13.

This is quite the accomplishment. In all my blogging days, I have never had this significant of a decrease. So, kudos to me. That's right. I am congratulating myself. It's the least I can do. Or the most, I guess, since for me celebrating accomplishments generally involve going out for a nice meal. Neither my wallet nor waistline can afford that, so instead, I'll pat myself on the back.

13 down. 17 to go.

Listening to: My Eyes from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
Current Mood: Good!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's Curtains For You...

...lacy, gently wafting curtains.

It's that time again, folks.

Time for me to start another lose weight/get fit initiative.

The post baby body has gone on long enough. As a matter of fact, the pre-baby body had seen its day as well. So here I am, freshly showered after the gym, eating a surprisingly tasty non-fat yogurt.

I am almost ashamed to admit that I am going the Weight Watchers route this time. No meetings or fees. Just counting points. Which I thankfully get more of as long as I am breastfeeding (yay!). This system seems to be the most effective for me, since it forces me to pay attention to everything I eat. And this time, I am uber organized.

I shop with a calculator in my purse and figure out points before anything (aside from veggies) goes in my cart.

A printed list of what is in the fridge/pantry is posted in the kitchen with point values, so a trip to the kitchen is always an informed one.

I have a day planner where I track EVERYTHING I eat. Seriously. Everything.

I also have grand plans (and a pretty folder) to gather recipes/products that I find I especially enjoy along the way.

How's it going so far? Great. I just started Monday, but still. I'm not starving myself, just making smart choices about what I eat. I am drinking a glass of water before a meal so I feel a little fuller...but I snack throughout the day.

Not only am I eating responsibly, but I am also getting to the gym. Every day this week so far, 30 minutes on the elliptical each time.

What's the goal? For now, 5 pounds. Then another. And another. Until I hit 30.

So...who's with me? Who else has a "Freshman 10" they'd like to finally bid farewell to?

Currently Listening to: Jaycel watching Star Trek: The Next Generation (ahhh...unemployment...)
Current Mood: upbeat. and a little sore.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The First Cold

So I'm sick.


And so is Jonas. But he is faring far better than I, thankfully. Despite his runny nose, he is still laughing and playing like the cool kid we've come to know. There has been occasional crankiness, but really, no more cranky than the rest of us.

I'm not up to writing much today, so instead, a photo.

This was taken today, just in case you don't believe me about the happy sick baby. :)

Listening to: Jonas "singing" while being bounced
Current Mood: one half blah

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Shake Yo' Money Maker

With a 5 month old, I've been making it my goal to find a way to earn a living (or at least hold off on completely depleting our savings) that allows me to have a flexible schedule and prevents us from shelling out money we don't have on childcare.

Having complete faith that the hubs will find work before the funds run dry, I am focusing on things I can do to supplement his imagined salary.

In line with this thinking, I've begun to compile things I enjoy doing and things I do well (or at least well enough to get paid).

Clean: Alright, former roomies and family members. Get the jokes out now. I'm fully aware of the messes you had to live with care of me. Despite that fact, I am actually good at cleaning when I want to be. You can't be my mother's daughter and not have that skill. And people will pay you to clean for them. So hey, why not me?

I have no qualms about being someone's maid. At one time I cleaned an office every week for extra cash. Cleaning when someone is paying you is actually fun in a way. Instant gratification. You clean something dirty and the results are there immediately. Time invested pays off right then and there.

Write: I love writing. Obviously. So, while I will continue to do this blog for the fun of it, I have already begun to explore writing options that will get me paid. The first in a series of children's books is in the works, I'm freelancing for a foodie magazine in the spring, and exploring other opportunities.

Photography: I'm no professional. But I'll be honest, I've seen people who advertise their skills in this department who are no better. And they are getting paid. So, I'll be putting a little portfolio of work together - wedding, engagement, editorial, baby - and working on taking more photos to add to it. (Volunteers for some photo shoots? :) )

Some Mexico shots that I'm considering for the portfolio:

Teach: Or more specifically, tutor. I enjoyed teaching when I worked as the Tech Ed teacher at a private school. I also enjoyed it when I was teaching adults as a Software Specialist. So, the most flexible teaching option, with the greatest potential for regular income would be tutoring.

Time to brush up on that Calculus. (Kidding. It's unlikely I remember anything of use to any student on that subject. I would probably set the poor kid backwards. I do remember some Latin, though...)

This is not to say that I have no plans on returning to the world of spreadsheets and PowerPoint. I'd do those just as willingly so long as I can do them from my home. But I've learned its good to have lots of options.

Currently Listening to: Jonas crying because I won't let him have my laptop. (I'm such a mean mommy)

Back in the saddle...

Long before moving from my old blog ( to this one, I often blogged about fitness. Or at least, my attempts at being fitter.

Once I became prego, that topic somehow took a back seat (can't imagine why) and I while I have exercised in some form some of the time since then, it hasn't been a priority or a regular part of my routine.

Since being unemployed does afford me more time than I once had, I decided that today I would return to the gym.

Yes, I have a gym membership. I have had a membership to this gym for about 2 years. I have only set foot in it once before today. That still qualifies today as a "return", doesn't it?

The gym is about a 2 minute drive from my house, so I set out today to begin a new routine of REGULARLY working out. Not working and being that close to workout equipment, which I am already paying for and have been for an embarassingly long time, leaves me very little in the way of excuses not to. So I threw on some baggy clothes, Yankees cap, grabbed the iPhone and headed out.

Working out in the middle of the day is very different from when I've worked out in the past. Usually I went before normal working hours or after - both times tend to have a crowd that looks like they belong at the gym. They look like they know what they are doing, in outfits designed specifically for the purpose of working out, and bodies to compliment aforementioned outfits.

I was always a bit out of place in those crowds.

Today I felt a bit out of place in a different way. I would estimate the median age in the gym today to be 50. A couple of scrawny teenagers kept the median shy of collecting social security. This made for some very unique choices in the area of exercise garb, so unique that I was tempted to whip out the phone and take a photo. But then I thought, who am I to make fun? After all, in a crowded room I don't exactly turn around when someone yells "Hey, Slim!"

So, while I may not fit in with my midday crowd, at least I feel that no one there will be judging me. I can sweat it out to Jerry Springer* in relative peace (today's episode: "Sex, Chicken, Candy!" I kid you not.)

We'll see how long I last this time around.

Listening to: Aladdin on TV
Current Mood: productive

*I should clarify that while Jerry Springer was on, I didn't actually choose to listen to him while I worked out. Actually, Sondheim seemed to be in heavy rotation in my iTunes, which doesn't exactly make me sound any better in this clarification. Ah, well. At least it's honest.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Luxury

So, the beginnings of unemployment have been...employed. Sort of.

After being let go from my former job, I got a call to do a little contract work for my old employers, and since I literally can't afford bitterness about the loss of income and benefits, I've been busy this past week with some work.

That being said, I haven't been AS busy as I was when working full time, so I have enjoyed long naps in the afternoon with Jonas, playing in the tub in the middle of the day with him, and just general good times with my very active (and surprisingly mobile) 5 month old.

Having the opportunity to enjoy this time and see how quickly he is learning, I'm hoping that time will allow me to be particular about the employment I choose - something part time and from home would be ideal. I've never been much for having the latest or fanciest of most things. We have been fortunate in the past to have made enough to pay the bills and then some. But we have also been in the "eat rice and beans" every night and clean offices after hours boat as well. And we have been equally happy.

So, while there may be opportunities for me to take jobs that will definitely pay plenty, I am holding out as long as I can to find something will pay just enough. Enough that I can spend my time on the more important things in life.

If you are a lurker on this blog, and have ideas/opportunities you'd like to share, let me know. I'm pretty talented (and humble apparently). I'm not looking to be rich. Not financially anyway.

"You know you want to hang with me. I'll chew on your laptop."

Speaking of more important things, if J continues to remain jobless, he is considering taking a little time to go to Haiti and help with the relief efforts there. I am almost hoping he stays unemployed a little longer just so he can find a way to go. We shall see.

And in other "losing your job can be a good thing" news, I found out a friend has some contacts in publishing. So guess who is going to use this spare time to finally get to work on some writing?

Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats. (Voltaire. Boo-yah.)

Currently Listening to: The 11 o clock news, and Jonas trying to grab the laptop
Current Mood: Still surprisingly optimistic

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


With the news of my sudden unemployment (as of December 29th, I am jobless) I have been avoiding blogging. Maybe I was taking time to recover from the shock. Maybe I was using the extra brain power to figure out how to pay bills when no one in the house is employed.

Whatever the reason, I'm back. Not to work. But to blogging. Not working a 40+ hr a week job does free up the time a bit, so I may as well take advantage of the situation while I can.

So what to blog about? Being jobless? Of course not. That's not very exciting. Or maybe it is. Kind of like almost falling off a cliff is exciting.

I should probably be more stressed about all of this than I am. But somehow, I'm very at peace with it (well, at least 98% of the time). We have survived the last 5 months of the hubs unemployment, and I have confidence that he will find something before the funds run dry.

And being jobless does have its advantages. Spending time with Jonas is a big one. Being able to nap with him in the middle of the day is definitely a highlight. And it may give me the opportunity to do other things I have always wanted to, but could never find the time (more on that in the future).

So, no bitter ranting about being let go. It doesn't benefit anyone or change the situation. Onward.


The weather here has been very cold for Florida - we are talking sub-freezing temperatures. Seriously. People's pipes have burst. (The pipes in their houses...Floridians don't suddenly combust when it dips below 32 degrees, although, you might think that from all the complaining they do...) I have taken advantage of this by staying inside, cuddling with the kid, drinking warm deliciousness, and most recently, making an Irish Stew.

At the request of some of my Facebook friends (hello! and welcome to the blog...) I am describing the creation of this stew here.

Like many of my cooking efforts, this was not a traditional recipe, so as always, purists beware.

I had some lamb in the freezer, and being on a budget, I wasn't going to shop for any ingredients. I would have to make the stew from things already in the house. So this would be a somewhat Ghetto Irish Stew. Which seems appropriate. The Irish always struck me as scrappy, resourceful types.

I started out with coating the lamb in flour, S&P and browning it in a little olive oil. Once the pieces had some nice color, I removed them from the pot, and threw in some chopped up onion - red and yellow, as that is what was available - celery, carrots, a couple of garlic cloves and several sprigs of thyme.

I increased the heat and waited for the onions to get a nice shine to them (I did not cook them to the point that they were translucent.) Then, I deglazed the pot with a cup or so of some cheap chardonnay I knew we had no plans of drinking, as well as a generous pour of cream sherry. After a few minutes of letting the wine/sherry reduce slightly, I added about 8 cups of chicken stock, let it come up to a slight boil, then turned the temp all the way down to the lowest setting and added the lamb pieces back in.

After an hour, I dumped about 4 chopped potatoes into the mix. I cut them in large pieces - a little more than a mouthful, so they could stand up to a long, slow cook without turning to mush.

About 2.5 hours later, I finished it off with a little salt and pepper, and a final swish of sherry.

The end result was delish. The broth has the slightest sweetness to it that complimented the strong, gamey flavor of the lamb. The lamb itself fell apart when you bit into it and the potatoes were perfectly cooked.

Unfortunately, no pictures this post as I wasn't thinking about posting when I made this stew. I should probably start keeping the camera in the kitchen from now on...

Moving forward, I may start posting more budget friendly recipes, as we are pulling back on our grocery budget. So any suggestions, please fire away!

Listening to: Dudley and Jonas breathing. They are both napping next to me.
Current Mood: Optimistic