Thursday, December 9, 2010

Blue Christmas (Warning: Do Not Read If You're Actually Feeling Happy)

So it's the Christmas season. Yes, I said Christmas. In this uber politically correct world we live in, I am not afraid to state what I actually celebrate. So there! As I was saying, it's the Christmas season--the season of joy, giving, and going broke. Christmas is definitely my thing. I can listen to the music day and day out, I watch all the tv specials that revert me back to a five year old, and I even enjoy the insanity inside the stores. It's the whole mad-cap package that tickles me. This year however, I find myself feeling very down.

Do you know that feeling when you have to force yourself to smile, and it's almost borderline painful when you actually do? That's kind of how I've been feeling lately. I think it stems from being fairly unorganized this year and with funds being tighter than usual. Gone are the days of Christmas bonuses. This crappy economy forced all of my coworkers and I to take a pay-cut this past year--a BIG pay cut--so it's been kind of a scary year. I know Christmas is not supposed to be about presents. Heck, I went to Catholic school for thirteen years. I know exactly what Christmas is all about. But it still doesn't make me feel any better when I receive these lovely things from friends and family and have barely anything to return the favor, especially to the people I care about the most. It makes me feel like poop actually. Money is so tight that several times a day I find myself burying my face in my palms with a huge sigh, sometimes even having to escape to the ladies room to shed a few solitary tears. It hasn't been a day at the beach.

Of course I am also reminded that this is another Christmas where I don't have a baby yet. I just turned thirty two a couple months ago. When my mother my age she had four children. FOUR. I've been getting asked a lot lately when my husband and I are going to have a baby--a question that I now understand why people should think before they ask it--and I fear I might go postal on the next person who inquires about the goings-on of my uterus. Nobody wants to actually have to tell someone that yes, we want children. We want them very badly. In fact, we've been trying for two years and it hasn't happend yet, a fact which causes my heart to break every single time yet another person I know announces that they are pregnant. That would be awfully awkward to explain, wouldn't it? Yeah, I think so.

So all in all, so far it's been a very blue Christmas season, and here I am having my own holiday pity-party. (Did anybody bring punch??) I'm trying my best to push past these icky feelings and just be thankful for the things I do have--family, a roof over my head, etc.--but some days are harder than others. I'm usually quite good at looking at the positive side of things, but I'm struggling this year with that. I need a Christmas miracle...or something. Seriously, did anybody bring punch? Spiked punch preferably? Anybody?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I Knew We'd See Each Other Again Someday, Barbie!!

This is a rather silly post, but I was so excited yesterday when I came upon this little gem that I couldn't resist. I popped into Target yesterday on my lunch hour (one of my favorite places to pop) to get some dog biscuits and treats for my hungry little love muffin at home, when I just happened to walk through the toy aisle. No matter how old I get I still always wander there and admire the Barbie dolls. Barbies were my favorite as a child. I actually played with Barbies till I was probably twelve or thirteen, a tad senior to have been doing so. Puberty finally came between us, and Barbie and all her clones found themselves parked in the toy closet for eternity.

I didn't often play favorites with my dolls or with the outfits they wore, but once in a while something really special would come along. In the year 1985, I had a thing for the color peach. It was my signature color. I wore peach clothes, peach barettes in my hair, peach jelly shoes, peach everything. That was the year I received the Peaches'n'Cream Barbie for either my birthday or Christmas (the details are a little fuzzy). She was the most magical Barbie of all Barbies to me. Why? Because she had a peach gown, that's why!! The bustier was white with little sparkles, an orange band around the waist with a flower, and a flowing long peach skirt--complete with ruffle and matching peach boa. dreamy....

So I'm admiring all the Barbie dolls in Target. As I'm studying Barbie's newer, modern features--her legs and feet are larger now and her face is not quite as girl-next-door as it once was but instead more a sultry sex-kitten--and suddenly, there it was...


She was just like I remembered her. It was like running into an old friend, but preserved in her perfect, glowing, peachy glory. She even had her girl-next-door face back. I contemplated whether or not to buy it--it was $39.95 on sale. Ouch. As much as I wanted to, I decided that my husband would probably kill me if I brought home a $40 doll that I had no intention of playing with. Nobody could possibly understand the depth to which this particular doll and dress is a part of me, etched into my childhood memory like a beautiful phantom, etched into my soul like a first kiss.

We'll find a way to be together though. It will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine....

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rage Against the Machine

So kittens, it's been a while since I've posted. There's been no particular reason, other than I just got caught up in other things. This is not unusual for me when it comes to any type of writing. For example, I've been writing short stories since I was about ten years old and I seem to have a love/hate relationship with the process. I have a story I've been writing for the last year and a half--a much longer, more complicated story--and sometimes I dive into it whenever I get a spare minute, all wrapped up in my characters. Other times I don't even want to look at it. But that's a post for another day....

What else have I been up to? Aha! Yes! Making big life changes. I finally got my mojo back and decided to join Weight Watchers. This is a very touchy subject with me, but I'll go ahead and put it out there. I didn't start to struggle with my weight till I was in college. I believe this was when I began to deal with my mother's death, who passed away very unexpectedly during my sophomore year in high school. My first couple years of college were fun years, but by that third year I was living some very dark days. I was binging and packing on pounds but I didn't give a crapola one bit. I was so depressed and miserable and felt very, very alone in the world. I could kick myself now for behaving that way, as it wasn't healthy physically or mentally, but it is what it is.

A few years later, after living a very unhappy chubbo lifestyle, I literally woke up one day and decided I'd had enough. I wanted to join Weight Watchers and I couldn't get to a meeting fast enough. Something had cracked in my psyche (I love that expression--it sounds so Twilight Zone) and I proceeded to drop weight like it was nobody's business. 2004 was my year of HELL YEAH. I was like a machine. You couldn't tempt with me with chocolate, fast food, nothing! I lost 67 pounds that year, and I wasn't even done.

And then the machine broke.

My now-husband, who was then just my friend, moved back to Florida and we began dating. Right then and there I should've caught myself when I slipped. You know how it is when you start a relationship with somebody. You get completely wrapped up in What are we doing this weekend?...Okay, I'll stay a little longer (even though I should be going on my 3 mile walk this morning)...Ooh, where are we eating tonight? I blame nobody but myself. I knew I had a job to do--follow my points, drink water, exercise--but I blew it. I was so in love and enjoying this new romantic relationship that I slowly but surely started neglecting the machine. Mr. Wonderful would even ask me if I was supposed to be having this or that (not because he was trying to prevent me from gaining weight--he's not THAT type of guy--but because he knew I had worked so, so hard to get the weight off) and I would totally blow it off like oh yeah, this is in my points! I was lying through my teeth to my own self, and I actually believed it. I soldiered on in my romance, and at some point Weight Watchers fell to the back burner all together.

So where am I now, almost six years later? I'm happily married to Mr. Wonderful and am the owner of a great home and doggie, BUT, now I'm Mrs. Chubbo. In fact, I'm even worse. Not only did I gain back all of the weight I lost--which is so unbelievably humiliating for me to even write at this moment--but I gained even more. So now I'm even heavier than I was to begin with, and I have been stark raving miserable on the inside because of it. I'm not living my life the way a 31 year old should be. I've been literally hiding from everything and everyone. I even hide on Facebook. I can't bare to post any recent pictures of myself (they're a rarity at this point anyway because the act of getting my picture taken is a humiliating experience for me in itself and I avoid it at all costs) because I'm so furious at myself for how I look. I'm a mere shell of my former self--the happier, go-getter self I know I am buried somewhere deep inside. In a nutshell, it's gotten so out of hand, and I'm so angry at myself for throwing all of my hard earned work right out the window that despite many other joys in my life, I'm not in a good place. The machine may as well have turned into a rusty old '57 Chevy.

But then something happened recently. I don't know what it was exactly. My brain began to feel this itch; a pull. Something was rattling around up there like a ping-pong ball. And then it happened--it cracked! Hallelujah! My psyche cracked once again (doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-dooooooo...) and I had a focus come over me like I haven't felt in years--six to be exact. Kind of like the way the car did in that Stephan King movie Christine, I resurrected myself. I shook the rust and the dirt off and revved. I took myself to the nearest Weight Watchers meeting and began my quest for inner peace, health, and happiness. I lost six pounds in my very first week. Six. It was very symbolic to me--like a pound for each year of this roller coaster. I'm currently in my second week and still plowing through. This time I'm not stopping. I'm no longer going to use the excuse that just because I'm married and don't necessarily have the time to devote 100% of my time to me and only me, that I still can't do this. I know I can. I did it before, but this time I'm carrying something along with me--knowledge. I know now how easy it is to slide back into old habits and dangerous behavior. I know how happy I once felt with myself, and how unhappy I feel now. I know that if I just stick with the plan, that it DOES and WILL work, and that if I don't stick to the plan, it won't. I've got my oil can and wrench beside me to keep the machine tuned, except in my world the oil can and wrench is a bottle of water and a carrot stick.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Don't Fence Me In

Or in this case, please do! I never realized my whole life how expensive it is to put in a fence until I wanted one. We live on a corner lot, so our back yard is extremely exposed to the street. I guess we hadn't given that a whole lot of thought when we built the house. We figured, no problem, we'll just put a fence in! Easier said than done.

We're practical people, so we decided it would be worth it to go the extra mile and get the vinyl fence vs. wood, since vinyl doesn't need to be replaced. We happen to have a family friend who owns a fencing company and said he would give us a great deal. Yahoo!! The difference that he quoted us between vinyl and wood was $2,000. Yes, $2,000. Big difference. That made for a tough decision. Despite living in one these newer neighborhoods where the houses are built a bit close together, we have quite a large yard, so there was a lot of fence to cover. In the end, we decided to go with the wood. We're in a recession people! Pictures soon to follow...

...Last night I didn't feel like cooking at all. It was rainy and miserable, and I am in a crunch to finish the book I'm reading for a book club I just joined, so all I wanted to do was sit down and read when I got home. I didn't seem to have a thing in the house that could be cooked quickly, so I consulted the freezer. I am a big fan of freezing leftovers, and luckily had a nice batch of sausage and lentil stew just dying for me to reheat. It was the perfect fix for a lazy, rainy evening.

That's some spicy sausage!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Waitor, there is too much pepper on my paprikas...

....but I would be proud to partake of your pecan pie.

I couldn't resist reciting that line from "When Harry Met Sally" out loud last night as I was making dinner. Yesterday I had a rather awful day at work. It was one of those days when all the crazies seem to crawl out of their caves at once and unleash their cranky-hyperventilating-stubborn-looniness on the world. Keep in mind, I don't work in a hospital. I work in a law firm!

The hubby was out for the evening, so I was looking forward to a nice, quiet, and relaxing few hours all by myself. My dog Nella was there of course, but she's the silent type and gladly listens to me whine. Before I left work I decided I would cook myself a nice dinner since I haven't done a lot of cooking lately. We live on a very social street with neighbors who have us over quite often to eat, and lately it's been very often, so these days I think my kitchen may be a little mad at me. I've been wanting to make Paprikas Csirke, otherwise known as Chicken Paprika, from my Joy of Cooking cookbook. I have the 2006 75th Anniversary edition and I love it to pieces.

I had all of the ingredients I needed except for the chicken, so I grabbed some on the way home. The recipe called for 3 1/2-4 1/2 pounds chicken parts. Hmmm, but which parts exactly? It wasn't specific so I went with thighs and drumsticks. Dutifully, I pre-measured out all of my ingredients so I'd be ready to go. In the mix were a gazillion thinly sliced onions, a quarter cup sweet paprika (I use the good Hungarian sweet paprika), a cup and a half of chicken stock, two tablespoons of garlic, a bay leaf, salt and pepper, sour cream, and of course my trusty chicken parts. Lots of good, basic ingredients right? This should be a snap! I'll be watching "Family Guy" with a plate full of orangey colored chicken in no time....Ha...Ha.

Cooking this meal took forever. Was it easy? Yes. But there were so many steps, and quite frankly so many damn pieces of chicken that make up four pounds that have to be browned (without crowding) on both sides for 5 minutes each, and various steps of thickening the sauce it cooked in, that by the time I prepared the ingredients and cooked the meal from start to finish, I wasted over two hours! The browning of the chicken alone took over a half hour. On top of that the onions had to be cooked and the sauce created, which also had to simmer. The chicken got put back in the sauce and had to simmer till it registered about 180 degrees on a meat thermometer. According to the book, it estimated 20-30 minutes. Uh, yeah right. Try 45-55 minutes. You'd think it would be done at this point, but I had to remove the chicken AGAIN and thicken the sauce in two stages--by itself and then with the addition of sour cream. At last it was finished! Was it worth it? The sauce was, most definitely. I would love to make the sauce again to jazz up boneless, skinless chicken breasts or maybe even pork chops, but I don't think I'll ever prepare the overall meal listed in the book. The chicken was tender and juicy, but the skin was pretty soggy by the end of it. Using bone-in chicken like that just takes way too long, especially on a weeknight. The whole point of my making this meal was to unwind and relax, but I never got a chance to even do so till around 9pm. Lesson learned! I ate it over some white rice and I do have to say it was pretty darn tasty.

The Stuff

Brown, damn you!

Sort of looks like the Valentine's Day Massacre, doesn't it?

This is not the most appetizing picture. I forgot to get a picture when I first got the sauce done. This was my dumping some of the leftovers into corningware. But I promise, the sauce is excellent!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Thank you very mulch...

Working in the yard is definitely not my favorite task around the house. I'm not one of those people who can't stand getting dirty, but the minute I hear the words "do some yard work", I immediately get a case of Elvis-lip (you know, when your upper lip pulls up in one corner as if a fish-hook yanked it). I hate admitting it, because it makes me sound so obnoxiously whiny, but I think subconsciously I loathe yard work because I know being outside sweating in the Florida humidity will frizz my hair. You see, my hair and I have a very complicated relationship with one another. We fight like cats and dogs and rarely get along. We've threatened to go to the mattresses on more than one occasion, but somehow always manage to make up in the end. These days I'm sporting a chin-length angled bob, tamed with Chi silk infusion and my trusty straightener. She's behaving...for now, but she punishes me severely this time a year when it starts getting very hot outside. Our fights will undoubtedly escalate into the summer months, but hopefully we can work something out...I haven't told her yet that we're going to the Keys in June. I know she's going to be furious at me, so I'll have to pack lots of beach hats and rubber bands. Oh hair, I wish I could quit you...

Lucky for me, I have the most awesome husband in the world who works harder than anybody I know. Always willing to take one for the team, he dove right into the yard this past weekend. He's been dying to tweak the plant bed in front of our house that our builder created for us. We originally were given some basic green shrubs, some Heather plants, and a Japanese Blueberry tree right on the corner of the house. The shrubs are the only ones that made the cut. We loved the JB, but my in-law's have two of them in their front yard and those bad boys grow up to be monster-humongous trees. Seeing that it was planted right on the corner of the house (a careless move on whoever landscaped our house), we knew it needed to go. We actually ended up giving it to one of our neighbors, who had loads of backyard room for it. It has now been replaced with a very pretty Azalea topiary. We were told at the nursery that it will only grow to be about 8 feet high, which I can handle.

Our Heather plants, I'm afraid, didn't make it. I really liked them, but after the particularly nasty winter we had in Florida this year, they were too far gone and decided not to grow back. Oh well. We replaced them with yellow African Irises and some pretty Impatients. I chose Impatients because my mother had tons of them in our flower beds when I was growing up. My mom had a bit of a black thumb, but still managed to never kill the Impatients. So if she could do it, then I can do it! In addition to that, we re-mulched all of the beds and around the Red Maples along the side of the house. By the way, don't you just love how I keep saying "we" did this? The only credit I can really take is handing the hubby a few shovels and rakes and bringing him cold bottled water, but at least it's something! Thanks hun!

Monday, April 5, 2010

It's good for a woman to make pies...

Did any of you ever see that episode of 'Sex and the City' where Miranda's Ukrainian housekeeper gave her a rolling pin? Her name was Magda, and she told Miranda that it was good for a woman to make pies, much to Miranda's horror. Me personally, I don't think it necessarily matters if you're a man or a woman, but I do think that it's just plain good to make pies! This is the peach pie I made yesterday for Easter. This is actually the first pie I have ever made from scratch in my entire life. It was a little messy when sliced through, but it was gooooooood.

Are you there Diary? It's me, Katie.

I suppose I should tell you a little about myself, considering you're my new chosen outlet to voice my thoughts and opinions. My name is Katie (short for in Hepburn. I had a cool mother) and I live in Jacksonville, Florida. I wasn't born here, though. I originally came from a planet called New Jersey, but wound up here in the early eighties when Sitting Buffalo, a.k.a. My Dad, had his job transferred here. By the way, I'll explain what Sitting Buffalo is all about another day.

First, let me clear one thing up. I'm technically not a homemaker in the sense that some would describe. I often hear the word homemaker linked with other phrases like stay-at-home-wife or stay-at-home-mom. I am neither, sort of. I am a wife (woo-hoo!), but not a mother (boo!), but I do have a job that pays money (woo-hoo!). What I do for a living is pretty boring. Quite boring actually. So boring that I don't even have the energy to describe it. Let's just say that I work in an office with a stuffy, moody, old male attorney and even moodier, crankier old women. This crappy economy we live in today has everybody on edge, but I'm convinced the gals I begrudgingly call co-workers somehow manage to make even the most sour of folks out there look like balls of sunshine.

So why do I refer to myself as a homemaker? Because that's what I am, or am trying to be. My husband and I bought our first house last summer--built the house actually. Since then I've been putting all of my creative skills to the test. We are not rich people. I cannot afford to go out and buy every single little thing that my heart desires, so I often find myself taking on weird little projects to make my home pretty, pleasing, comfortable, or whatever a happy new home is supposed to look and feel like. I've enjoyed cooking the last few years now. Nobody taught me how to cook but myself. I'm still learning, still making mistakes, but I enjoy it a great deal and will surely post about recipes I enjoy. One thing I don't know how to do is sew. However, my mother-in-law obviously listended to me once profess that I wished I knew how, and bought me a sewing machine for Christmas. It's still sitting in the box, mocking me. I plan to learn a few basic skills and use it, I just haven't taken the initial first step to do so. It should make for some interesting blogging when I do try it, though...

Expect to hear me whine about putting in a sprinkler system, how expensive fences are, how no matter how much I vacuum and wipe there always seems to be dog hair everywhere, and a million other things. I'm trying my best to make a home, hence my title. Oh wait, I also referred to myself as an alien. The truth is sometimes I feel like one. I'm not green and I don't have tenticles coming out of my head, but at least once a day, every single day of my life, there is a moment where I stop and ask myself, how did I get here?, and, am I the only one who sees things this way? But there will be more of that to come.

Till then, nice meeting you. I hope we will get to be good friends.

Katie G.