Tuesday, April 27, 2010

caught by a tumbleweed

Okay, I dropped the ball, I will readily admit it. I even had some guilt there for awhile for not posting in a month. Then I realized today that it's been TWO months. Now that's just plain wrong.

Let's play catch up!

YES!! We did get the dishwasher fixed finally. It turns out that repairman two did change out the motor but that's not what the problem was. We still got to keep the new motor and everything else AND repair man three gave us a new, um.... electronic starter part thing that I can't remember the name of. Thankfully the dishwasher Gods looked down upon us and smiled. Whew. I don't want to go back to the cave man days that's for sure.

Okay, everyone's caught up! I think that may be why I haven't been writing for two months. We lead a pretty uneventful lives.

For example:
~ It was tax season, I worked a little bit. Now it's not, so I don't.
~ The girls both got haircuts and are both adorable as ever. Eventually I'll post pictures but I'm too lazy today.
~ I did lose some weight on our little "I" diet plan but then I gained it back because I hate depriving myself of really yummy things. Like chocolate. And wine. P I may be destined to be fat forever. Which I supposed would be fine as long as my pants fit.
~ My parents came back from Arizona, AKA the land of winter sun, the beginning of the month and we've only forced them to come to our house twice since they've returned! I think that may be a record.
~ um. I think that may be it.

I will try try try to post more regularly, with the sun hanging around here in the Midwest again, things will pep up and hopefully get interesting. But not too interesting, eh?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

the thrill is gone

This dishwasher drama is never ending. What are we up to? Three weeks now? We're still hand-washing dishes. A different repair man came yesterday and was here for about 90 minutes tops. He never pulled the dishwasher out. He never unplugged the dishwasher. I was surprised he was done so quickly and hadn't done those things yet so I asked, "did you replace the motor?"

"Yeah, I'm all done. I ran it a couple of times and it's working fine now."

"Oh, okaaaay." Clearly I had my doubts, but I was so happy and excited at the thought of a working appliance I let my fears go. We loaded the dishwasher after dinner and were so relieved to have a clean kitchen with so little work. On the way to bed last night I set the dishwasher all up to run early in the morning like I always do when we have a running dishwasher. Looking forward to waking up in the morning with magically clean dishes.

But we didn't.

It stopped just like it always does. It filled the bottom with water and the motor tried to go and couldn't. I'm quite certain this tech did the least amount of work he thought he could get away with and left. Because it was Friday and who really wants to do all that work on Friday. I mean really. It's Friday! It may as well just be early Saturday morning. Right?

So I called the SEARS* people and told them my woes this morning, of course the tech took the new motor with him so I have no actual proof he didn't change the motor out. After I told the phone person our deal with our really big white space hog she asked if there was anything else she could help me with to which I said, "yeah, after three weeks of doing dishes by hand I'd really like my dishwasher fixed."

~

* SEARS has appliance repair deals with non-SEARS companies, this is no slam on SEARS. Not that they'd care or are listening, I'm just FYIing here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

not yet invested

I really don't want to use this format to complain and gripe but holy hell and damn it all. My oldest daughter is in scouts this year and against my gut reaction to the initial meeting of her troop, a completely new troop, we've stuck it out.

The leader said she'd never been a leader before but she was a scout for most of her childhood and her mother was a scout leader too. I had high hopes, because Sweetie Pie was so excited about it and for the first few meetings the troop leader had things for the girls to do. Not scout-oriented per se but not just willy-nilly mass confusion either. Now we're six months in and I'm pretty sure the leader has decided to just bag it all. She doesn't seem to be putting much effort into it anymore.

I have to be honest and admit that Paco has probably gone to more of these meetings than I have; we've either blown off the meetings, forgotten about them since there really isn't a good schedule of dates that we've been given, or they were while I was working. Neither of us are terribly impressed.

I didn't sign up to be a scout leader, there's a reason for that. I don't wanna! However taking time out of my very important sitting on my ass schedule to take Sweetie to a meeting in which she's not taught anything of value and is allowed to run amok with 10 other pre-teen girls is also not my idea of a good time. I was frustrated enough to come home tonight and pull up the scouting website. There's has to be some sort of handbook for leaders right? Yeah, there totally is. Plus music books and activity guides and OMG this stuff is completely written down to aid the leaders. Ugh.

Right now I've agreed to to a lot of the work on getting the cookies for our troop to the place the leader needs them to be so she can organize them all for us to pick up. That's all I can do right now. However depending on how well cookie distribution goes I may be stepping up or we may be stepping out.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I found a wiener!

Not that kind of wiener! A winner! Sheesh, dirty birdies.

I made soup tonight. Not a very interesting statement but I made tomato soup, which I have tried unsuccessfully in the past to make from scratch. Tonight I had a blueprint, a road map if you will. I believe they call them recipes. That's right I had a recipe! But did I follow it? Um, kinda! But not totally. It was worth it, it was unfreakingbelievably good. And now I'm going to share so all four of my readers (Hi Mom!) can have it too!

Easy Tomato, Barley and Basil Soup (modified by yours truly)
Makes 7 cups.

1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, preferably imported Italian
1 quart low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup hulled barley
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
salt
grated Parmesan cheese for serving

1. Place olive oil in large saucepan over low heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until lightly browned, 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally.

2. Meanwhile, place the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and puree until partially smooth.

3. Add the tomatoes, broth and barley to the pan with the onion. Cover and let simmer until the barley is just cooked, about 30 minutes.

4. Add the basil and pepper to the soup and season with salt to taste.

5. Serve each bowl of soup with 1/2 teaspoon Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

• So that's the recipe as written, of course I didn't follow it to the letter because I don't roll like that.

First off I doubled it and secondly I decided it was stupid to puree the whole tomatoes and dirty another dish that I would have to hand wash since my dishwasher is still broken so I bought a can of tomato puree (go figure) and a can of crushed tomatoes, same difference... mostly.

I forgot to get chicken stock or broth at the store so I used some bouillon granules in 6 cups of water (which is two cups shy of 2 quarts needed for the doubling— wait for it.)

Added that and the barley which I added a scant more than called for in the doubling because it's yummy, and let it all boil, boil, toil and trouble until the barley was mostly done.

I turned off the heat and added not quite two cups of half and half, see! I told you to wait for it.

Paco added the pepper to taste (I don't like pepper so to my taste is to not add it at all) and I chopped up some fresh basil that I spent Scooter's college fund on to buy. I'm not usually a fan of the basil, or so I've always said, but I think it's the smell of it that annoys me because the taste of it in the soup is heavenly (I by that I don't mean I cooked the hell out of it.)

We then grated some fresh Parmesan on top and voila! It was scrumptious and I hope you give it a try!

Note: The kids, who are not fans of tomato soup, still didn't really like it but they enjoyed the grilled cheese sandwiches I made them to accompany it and really enjoyed the chocolate covered strawberries we had for dessert, and yes, they are totally on our diet! (the strawsberries, not the grilled cheese)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

like I said, it's free

I've found my self in an ever-expanding loop of 'what ifs'.

I started researching starting a business at the Small Business Administration website. Honing up on what I need to do that I haven't thought of previously. Apparently a lot. Once I was tired of being inundated with "you don't have a business plan" and "you need more start-up money" and "nothing is ever certain and you're never going to make it in the business and what the hell are you thinking" kind of reading (okay, I may have made that last one up.) I started daydreaming about buying a franchise. A restaurant franchise because I know there's no way in hell I'd ever do it. Restaurant businesses seem like such a great idea right up until you go out of business. I've seen a lot of them come and go in the few years we've been here. But nonetheless, I was dreaming and dreaming is free right?

A few weeks ago when I was out for "ladies martini night" with my peeps (I'm so glad to have peeps here) I asked what was lacking for restaurants in our fair town. The answers ranged anywhere from Thai food to a breakfast place. Paco and I talked about how we wish there more of a sit down family restaurant รก la Denny's or Perkin's. Not fantastic food but also not terribly expensive and cozy enough for kids.

There was this restaurant that closed down at the beginning of the winter that had so much potential and was completely run into the ground. The owners had completely redone the building and put all these artistic touches into it. Wrought iron railings with lovely little animals on them, just clever details that are never found in most places. We went a couple of times, the food wasn't spectacular and the service was SLOW and it was overpriced for the mediocrity and the town. My point is the building was for sale and I had a brief flash of "what if's" with that one. Thankfully my sister actually looked at the building last summer and I know what kind of shape it was in and what the current owners had done to the building for the sake of the restaurant's decor— I knew it was a no brainer, that and the fact that I don't have an unlimited supply of money.

I enjoy looking at the commercial buildings in town that are for sale, I am a dreamer. Plus it's nice to see what's available and how much they're going for (typically the buildings are overpriced for the shape the buildings are in, but really inexpensive compared to CA standards.) I found a really big building for sale here that used to be a Hotel (I'm sure there are one of those Lincoln slept here signs, there everywhere.) $400,000 for the building. Four floors of rooms and a main level of office space. Oooooh! What if I was a developer and how fun would it be to make those into condos, not terribly expensive condos three to four on each floor.... Hummmm. How would I make money on that? It's right off the square. There could be a breakfast restaurant on the main floor and on the other side could be my photography business.... I wonder how much that would cost? I wonder if my brother in law, who's an architect, could draw up some designs to use the space to its maximum capacity and kind of modern. He's been certified as a green architect (yes there is such a thing) and he could help with that too. Wow that would be so cool! It's right across the street from the park and I'd get really great sun in the afternoon and then I could....

Then one of the kids kicked me and I realized that this was a plan for another life.

....then again... what if I won the lottery?