Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 2011

My last update wasn't that long ago, right? I mean, I'm at the same job. I did relocated to a hip neighborhood and gained too much weight though.

Boyfriend and I (and son) moved into an amazing two bedroom apartment. We have an absentee landlord (we've never even met him!) and an awesome kitchen. Boyfriend is very excited about the dishwasher, a title he previously held. I am excited about not having to pay for cooking gas, although I do less baking now that I'm a slave to my desk (not really though) eight hours daily.

We went to Bonnaroo a few weeks ago. We drove. To Tennessee. From New York. Luckily, we had the foresight to leave the kid at home, with grandma. We camped (my first time!) and saw a lot of bands and it was awesome sauce. It was also our last vacation this year and well into next year until we have made a significant dent in our debt. It's all about the staycations from now on!

I'm going to be a bridesmaid for the first time. A really good friend is getting married in September. It's all good and fun, except she's really traditional and all this wedding hoopla is affecting my wallet. There's a bridal shower, a bachelorette weekend getaway, the dress (which, thankfully is not hideous) and the wedding present. Oh, and a hotel room because the wedding is not close to home. This is going to cost as much as our trip to Bonnaroo!

Back to our apartment. We moved in May but still have not fully unpacked. It's been a busy two months. Last night we finally unpacked the scale. I stepped on it and gave myself a heart attack. So this morning I left for work 30 minutes earlier than usual, took the train to Union Square, then walked the 30 additional blocks to Midtown. Google maps said I could walk it in 30 minutes. It took me 20. I'm significantly proud of myself, mainly because I've found a way to get some kind of exercise within my time limits. Did I mention that I plan on walking back to Union Square after work and repeating this for the rest of the summer?

All in all, besides being uneasy about being in debt, life is sweet. Boyfriend is an amazing caretaker and Z absolutely adores him. This past weekend we went to Coney Island's Mermaid Parade. Z was originally dressed as Super SpongeBob, with a yellow spongebob shirt, red superman cape and red briefs. It was so hot that the ink on the tag on the shirt started to melt and rubbed off on his back. We decided that it was better to have him be a shirtless Superhero. The mohawk only added to the effect:

*Sigh* My baby is growing up way too fast.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Moving on up

I spent Sunday grocery shopping with Z. Since I didn't have a regular job for a good while, I used to avoid the supermarket on the weekends. Surprisingly, it wasn't as painful as I thought it would be. The lines weren't ridiculous, and it was nice to see other families shopping with their babies in tow.
Z loves hanging out in the shopping cart. He helped me pick out green beans, put them in the plastic bag I was holding, and then placed the bag behind him in the cart. Mommy's little helper. It wasn't so helpful when he started grabbing everything and throwing it in the cart ("No Z, I don't need shallots!") but I placated him with grapes and other stolen goodies. (Shh!)

We're moving soon. Waiting for our application to be approved by building management. Since I just started working, I don't have an actual paystub yet, but I have sent in both a letter from my employer and my employee contract. They called yesterday wanting contact information for my previous employer. They called today wanting contact information for our current landlord. This is annoying but hopefully it's a means to an end. We have already started packing. Move in date would be mid-April.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Goodbye AMEX

ARG.

I got a call on my cell phone this morning as I was entering the elevator to go to work. An automated voice informed me that American Express has made changes to my card and I needed to call a number to find out what those changes were. So they basically called me to tell me to call them? They couldn't just tell me what the damn change was? Since I was in an elevator and nowhere near a pen, I didn't get to write down the number.

Fastforward to this afternoon when I get an email from them explaining the change. They lowered my credit limit. Lowered is generous. They cut my credit limit in half. Which means I'm almost at my credit limit. Which means I can't used my credit card.

Dude. I'd understand if I was missing payments, or late with payments. I'd understand if I had a high outstanding balance for a lengthy period of time. I'd understand if my credit was shitty.

Not the case. I had a high balance back in September, then I got a "student loan" and paid it off. Been consistently paying off my balance until recently. Since I found out I'd be employed again, I got generous with my use of the card, because I know that I will be able to fully pay off my balance in a few months.This should not matter to the credit card company since they are charging a nifty amount of interest on my balance.

Anyway. I'm done with American Express. I am paying off this balance as quickly as possible then canceling the card. They will never again earn interest from me. Take that you assholes. Looks like my other cards will be benefiting from this change. Visa, you're welcome.

Monday, March 21, 2011

TGIF

We played at Brooklyn Bridge park. S dressed Z in the most adorable red corduroy overalls ever. This is life.

(Contemplating a move to tumblr.) Hmm.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Week one wrap up

1/2 hour to go to the end of week 1 at work.

Sometimes I feel like I'm in way over my head. But mostly, I welcome the challenge.
Yesterday I went out afterwork with a group of friends. They asked if it was hard to be away from Z. Quite frankly, it's not. Although I definitely would love having a little more time to spend with him in the afternoons, I'm quite happy in my new role as worker bee. Routine is good. Who knew?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Midweek means something again

It's my third day at work and I'm blogging during my lunch hour. Just ate a healthy green salad I brought from home. This is to counterbalance the excessive amount of food I consumed on a cruise last week. We went on a 7-day trip to the Bahamas. It was very relaxing and the perfect end to my very, very extended maternity leave.

Life certainly has changed. I wake up at 6am, and am out the door by 7:30. I get back home by 7:30pm, have enough time to have dinner with the family and play with Z before heading off to bed and doing it all again. Surprisingly, it's not tedious. Perhaps it will get that way in the future, but for now I am enjoying the 9-6 grind. S is a stay at home dad, mostly. He either takes Z to work with him or works nights and weekends. His clients love Z, and don't mind having him around. S has wholly embraced the role of SAHD. So far, everything is working out perfectly. Z is growing up so quickly. I'm so happy that I was able to be there for his first 1 1/2 years. And quite thankful that we didn't need to put him in daycare.

Work itself is promising. I'm learning a lot, and re-learning even more. When you've been out of the game for almost 2 years, you tend to forget the basics. Its slowly coming back to me. By next week I'll be up to speed, fingers crossed!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Happy post

I wrote this who blog about the process and how I got to where I am, but deleted it because it's not relevant. What is relevant? I GOT A JOB!
Not any job. A job I never knew I always wanted. A combination of travel, teaching, accounting knowledge, and computer software. At a growing firm in an industry that's not going anywhere anytime soon. The possibilities are endless.
I start in a few weeks. Am currently in the process of booking a vacation for my family. It's been a long time coming.

The moral? Life always works itself out. The key is not getting discouraged when doors close. Just look for the window. And kick it in.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nerves (and Z update)

I'm nervous about tomorrow. I'm so nervous that I don't want to write about what I'm nervous about, b/c I don't want to jinx anything. Superstitious much?

In other news, Z had a check-up on Monday. He's 16 months, 25 pounds and 32 inches tall. Which means he's over-tall and under-weight. Or perfectly normal and healthy. He also has all 16 of his teeth. The last four incisors came out this past month. Which would explain why he'd wake up crying in the middle of the night. He's saying simple words like dog and cat, and of course, mama and dada. We're trying to teach him body parts, but he doesn't have it down yet. The cutest thing happened at his cousins house. We were talking to their nanny, a Chinese woman whose name is pronounced I-E. (No idea how to spell it.) I looked over to Z, who is adamantly pointing to his eye! When we said I-E, he heard eye!

test

Am writing from an Android phone. Not as easy as typing from a full length keyboard, but it's good to know that I have options.
I got a job on Wednesday. Was supposed to start on Monday but they called on Friday to tell me that they can't afford to hire me until April.
Ha.
It might be a blessing in disguise. That phone call motivated me to try as hard as possible to find another better job before April, just so that when they do call, I can take extreme pleasure in turning them down.
We'll see what happens.
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Friday, February 4, 2011

30

I turned 30 a few days ago. I still can't believe it. You think you're going to be in college forever and onc day you wake up and you're 30. S surprised me with a road trip to Philadelphia to see one of my favorite bands perform. We stayed with friends. The band performed the night before my birthday, which was a fitting end to the decade. Afterward, we met our friends at a bar, (while their teenage daughter babysat Z) and they brought out a cake at midnight. It was sweet.
Tomorrow I'm meeting friends and dancing the night away. It just wouldn't be a milestone birthday celebration without some booty shaking.

Job search is...going. Today I got a call about a position I turned down a few months ago. They offered me more money.It's still not enough, but I will probably take it. As much as I love hanging out with my family, I need to be busier. It's the only way I can get things done.
Things seem to be falling into place. Thirties are the new twenties, right?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Helper


He begs and begs and begs until I pick him up to show him what's for dinner. He sits on the kitchen floor and plays with the pots and pans, "cooking" up his toys, stirring, tasting, just like mama.

Pumpkin


You may not know this from the way it's treated here in the US, but pumpkin is a vegetable. And a great one at that. It's high in beta carotene and fiber and potassium, etc, etc. I grew up in South America, and we ate pumpkin on a regular basis. And not as a dessert either. My boyfriend, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, once mentioned that he wouldn't know what to do with a pumpkin, other than make a pie. A quick internet search for pumpkin recipes shows the same sentiment--dozens of recipes for pumpkin desserts, and little else.

Last week I bought a piece of fresh pumpkin without knowing what I'd be doing with it. My son has recently developed an aversion to green foods, so I needed new ways to get vegetables in him. I did the usual internet search for inspiration, but came up empty. So I got creative and made pumpkin gnocchi.

The process was simple: Steam the pumpkin until tender, then combine with an egg, seasoning (nutmeg is excellent with pumpkin), and enough flour to form a dough. Then roll the dough into a rope, cut into "pillows" and throw into boiling water. Cook until the gnocchi floats. That's it. For something extra, you can saute the gnocchi in some butter. It was quite yummy and my son ate it up with no complaints.

The second recipe is even simpler. Saute onion and garlic in a pan, add chopped pumpkin, spices (s+p, cumin and curry powder) and cover, letting the steam cook the pumpkin. Cook until the pumpkin breaks down. Serve over rice. Another dish the whole family enjoyed.

I now buy pumpkin on a regular basis. A chunk costs less than $2 and feeds a family of three. Cheap, delicious and nutritious!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Direction

I can't be unemployed forever, right? At some point it's going to get better out there and I'll manage to get myself one of those job things again.
At this point, I'm not trying as hard as I could be. It's so easy to waste the day away, especially when you're taking care of an attention-grabbing toddler. There's a two hour break in the middle of the day when he takes his nap, and I'm supposed to do the things I'm supposed to be doing. You know, the marketing, the self-promotion, the networking. Phone calls and emails and follow-up phone calls and emails.
But those two hours are even better for zoning out on the couch.
And so it goes.

Been thinking more about where I want this blog to go. I want to be writing about all the wonderful things that are happening in my kitchen. But I don't want to be cliche and post recipes and pictures. That's been done, better than I will be able to.
But I do believe that there is value in what I'm doing in the kitchen. For one thing, even though I make everything from scratch, I rarely ever spend more than half hour on a meal. So many people are afraid of the kitchen, and of prep work. And vegetables. I want people to see that it is possible to cook nutritious and delicious food, if only you'd put a little love into it. 

Buttermilk Biscuits

I recently bought 25 pounds of flour from Costco. It's really not a lot when you do as much baking as I do. However, when I tried making cakes with it, the results were rather flat. All flour is not created equal. Something about the gluten/protein ratio. I don't really care, I just want fluffy, not rocky.

This morning I scored a small victory. I needed to use buttermilk I had in the fridge, leftover from my attempts at red velvet cake. Decided to make biscuits. I did some research, and ended up using a recipe that used melted butter added to the buttermilk. Do you know what happens when you add melted butter to cold buttermilk? It clumps. And when you add that mixture to the dry ingredients, the clumped butter stays in the batter. The biscuits from that batter are light and airy, moist and buttery. It also helped that I doubled the recommended amount of baking powder, which compensated for my crappy flour.

AND. I also added some shredded cheddar to the mix. And crumpled bacon.

Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits. They were as good as they sound and then some.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cake

I received a kitchenaid mixer for Christmas and haven't stopped baking. Over the weekend I made three birthday cakes: a traditional red velvet for a close friend's 30th, a pink princess cake for my niece's 3rd birthday, and a "road" cake, topped with three matchbox cars, for my nephew's 16th birthday. Am contemplating blogging about baking, but I don't have a camera that would do the cakes justice. This one comes close--I tried out macros: