Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hey Good Lookin' - Whatcha Got Slow Cookin'?

Day 15

One of the first things we registered for when we got married was a slow cooker. But even though everyone told me how awesome they were for prepping healthy, well-balanced meals in the morning before work, I have to be honest. I used it maybe once while I was working.

The one time I did try it, the recipe I chose required me to sear the meat first and spend almost 30 minutes chopping veggies and herbs to add to the pot. Talk about SLOW cooking! Plus, I get a little bugged out having something plugged in and running at such a high heat while no one is home. A little OCD, I admit, but hey - I'm okay with that.

Since I've started on my quest for domesticity, I've tried to use the slow cooker at least once a week. Now when I choose recipes, I pay attention to the prep time. The dishes have all had varying prep times, but I plan according to what else I have going on that day. We've had beer-soaked carnitas, tender short ribs and, today I'm trying a southwest chicken and black beans dish.

I must say I'm enjoying this appliance more and more! Not only are the meals full of flavor, but there are always leftovers, which means I have a night off from cooking! Both recipes thus far have earned an A grade from Hubby so I think he likes it, too. Hopefully tonight's will be a keeper, too!

Monday, July 26, 2010

What's the Opposite of Buyer's Remorse?

Day 15

Long ago (2002) and far away (Manhattan), there was a young woman who desperately needed to spruce up her wardrobe. She set out for a day of shopping and scored some really great pieces that would add a much-needed fresh look to her closet.

There was one $35 coral skirt that she really, really wanted, but she'd already spent too much that day so she held back, despite the fact that not having the skirt in her bags interrupted her thoughts all the way home. No big deal, she thought. If this continues and I'm meant to have it, I'll go back in a few days and it will still be there.

And did it ever continue! For the next couple days, as she got dressed for work, the only thing she wanted to wear was that coral skirt. So she headed back to the store, but after searching and searching, came up empty-handed. Defeated, she went home and looked at her pitiful closet, knowing the only thing that would make it better was something she would never have.

Fast forward to this past weekend when the (slightly older) young woman was perusing the local boutiques during a weekend away. When she walked into one store, her eyes were immediately drawn to an adorable dress made of the softest cotton in the most beautiful color of silver gray with a white and sand stripe across one shoulder. Only $42? She had to try it on! After wavering back and forth for a few minutes (which, I'm sure felt like about an hour to her husband), she decided it might be a little short and it was certainly something she could live without.

Not three hours later, as she was packing up to head home, she realized there was one thing missing from her bag - the dress! She convinced her husband to drive her back to the boutique. After a quick walk around the store, she asked the sales girl about the dress. When the girl-behind-the-counter's eyes nearly bugged out of her head, I - ah-em... I mean, she - knew this wasn't going to have a happy ending. Someone had bought the dress just two minutes before our fair maiden had gone back for it!

The moral of the story: If you see something and you like it, confirm the store's return policy. While you can't always go back to buy a must-have skirt or dress should you change your mind, chances are you can take it back if you decide you don't need it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The -RESS of the Story

Day 10

You may remember that a week ago, I posted "MATT- Where's the RESS?" about a botched furniture delivery. Yippee skippee, the remaining bed frame has arrived! Of course, it was not without a couple "sigh, are you kidding me?" moments.

Pleasant enough Delivery Man comes inside toting one small bed frame, carries it upstairs, and hands me a piece of paper to sign. Um, no. You're not leaving me with two mattress sets and bed frames in a box. Hello... that's what the delivery and set-up fee is for! Delivery Man plays along and starts setting up the beds.

"Wow, you're all alone today?" I asked.

"No," he mumbled... At least I think that's what he said.

"Oh, so there are other guys in the truck. Do you need them to come help you?" I asked. I was feeling a little bad for him.

Crickets. Delivery Man is in no mood to talk. I help him by piling up all the trash so I can ask him to take it with him on his way out. He was not very pleased with this either. Oh well. I gave him a nice tip I hope he doesn't share with the lazy men in the truck.

Reminds me a story Sister once told me after she and Brother-in-Law moved into their new home. It's a row house from the 1800s so it's very narrow, which means they had to do a lot of measuring to make sure modern appliances and furniture would make it up the stairwells. Anyway, Sister had a lot of difficulty with the delivery process and when her Delivery Guy finally arrived, he didn't seem too eager to carry up the new refrigerator.

Delivery Guy: "Doesn't look like it'll fit."

Sister: "It will, I promise. We measured and triple-checked to make sure."

Delivery Guy: "Lady, I'm not going to break my back carrying up this refrigerator."

Maybe it's just me, but when you're refrigerator delivery person, isn't that part of your job?

That, my friends, is the -RESS of the story. (Paul Harvey would be so proud.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

(Not) Just Another Summer Sunday

Day 8

There's just something about summer in New England. It's a feeling you can't get anywhere else in the country - and I grew up in the midwest and went to college on the west coast so I can say that from experience. Now, I'm not saying one is better than the other... I've just really come to love my new home.

Something else that's like no other is catching up with girlfriends while soaking up the sun. And that's just what I did yesterday, spending a few hours at the beach, mostly spent reading celebrity gossip magazines and encouraging each other to dunk into the freezing cold Atlantic (nothing beats salt water-infused beach hair!). Afterwards, we were off to grab a sandwich at the deli in the town center and then to the local ice cream stand for a twist cone - sprinkles optional (Yes, I say sprinkles. I told you, I'm from the midwest!).

Seriously, this is summer in New England!

If I could file just one complaint with anyone listening, can I ask what the heck is up with the flies at the beach? Greenheads, they're called here. I got several bites and they just seem to worsen by the hour. Man, do they itch! And one of my ankles is literally swollen from the ever-growing bite.

Still, I'll keep paying that price if it means girlfriends and twist cones on a steamy Sunday at the beach.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

MATT - Where's the RESS?

Day 3

We have been in the house almost fourteen months now and we're not to the finishing touches part quite yet. We're still furnishing rooms! Two guest rooms and the dining room remain, then we can start filling out those that already have the basics. But we have to get at least one more guest room and the dining room done by this November as I've bravely announced we'll be hosting our first Thanksgiving!

Hubby wanted to get the dining room done first, but I found bedding for the guest room and, ladies, you know what happens when you find bedding you just can't live without. Mattresses become priority number one!

After a long Friday making the rounds at BJs, The Home Depot and more, I couldn't drag Hubby out of the house for any more shopping, but I found a local retailer that sells mattress sets and frames online. I placed the order for two twin sets and not ten minutes later got a call to confirm the purchase and schedule delivery. Wow, could it be too good to be true? Of course!

I was expecting to head off on a long weekend (mini vacation starts today - YAY!) with two beds set up all cute and awaiting their gorgeous bedding. Nope. Just look at what I'm left with! Not only did they bring one frame instead of two, they didn't even bother to set up the one bed for which they did have all the parts. (Sorry the picture is so dark. It's a rainy and dreary day... just in time for vacation - BOO!) To top it off, I tracked the bedding order online and it's not scheduled to ship until July 30.

So I'll wait... patiently... and try to find the positive. I do look forward to each thing arriving and the room coming together piece by piece. Can't wait to share it with you when it's done! Well, the beds will be done, but I'll still need some sort of bureau. Let the search begin!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Challenge: Orchid

Day 2

Bless their hearts, my coworkers gave me a stunning orchid on my last day. Here's the thing. I have pretty much the opposite of a green thumb. Aside from some rogue weeds in the yard, the only vegetation I've ever managed to keep alive is a peace lily and, from what I hear, they're about as easy as you can get. (Also, I'm not too proud to admit that Hubby really drives watering that bad boy.)

Orchid is now about a week old and, as you can see, still looking lovely. My challenge is to keep it this way. Thank goodness for the internet. First stop: Google. Attention: Said plant does not have its own dot com. You've been forewarned as to what happens when you think you can skip the search and just type in the flower + dot com.

Anyway, I've found a lot of great tips and am looking forward to seeing this through. It will be one of my long-term projects that I look forward to updating you on along the way. Please feel free to share any tips with me!

Here's one for you. When I set out on Challenge: Orchid, I couldn't help but think of the old rhyme "Mary, Mary."

Mary, Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

I looked up the rhyme to make sure I had the words right and I couldn't believe all the conversation around its origins. Many believe it's about Bloody Mary, the daughter of King Henry VIII, and there are some very dark undertones. I prefer to think of it as a song for little children, and Bloody Mary as a drink.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Repurposing Office Leftovers

Day 1

Well, pretty close to day one, at least. Sure, my last day of work was last Thursday so technically Friday was day one, but it's always easier to start things off on Mondays. Or Sundays. Whoops, guess I'm a day late. For all intents and purposes, today is day one of no job, no commute, no stress and no one to answer to but myself. So why do I have a headache? It seems by body is more in need of a routine dose of caffeine than I thought. I did make it out to Starbucks around 11 a.m., but that's about three hours later than I normally drink my venti iced unsweetened green tea. Won't make that mistake again. Mental note: have something caffeinated by 9 a.m. to avoid a day-long headache. Just in case, I've prepared a nice pot of iced coffee and stocked the fridge for any last-minute fixes.

One of the first orders of business is to set up my new home office and put away all the leftovers I brought home from the real-life office in the city. Those are what you see here (next to the new "super lightweight and easy-to-use vacuum!" Hubby bought me this weekend. Okay, hint taken). After five years (at the last job at least), this is what I have to show for myself. Heaping bags full of magazines, desk tchotchkes, a laptop bag, a jumbo Rolodex (clearly dating myself a bit), personnel files, inspirational books about the joys of marketing (Who Moved My Cheese, anyone?), a variety of tradeshow lanyards in an array of colors, my trusty Camelbak water bottle, coffee mug, a bag of BBQ chips, a grapefruit spoon and a citrus peeler.

I can't think of anything I'd like to do with any of this stuff so I've decided to trash it all and start over from scratch. I'm all set up with my new laptop (okay, I'm repurposing the stand that props it up so I don't hunch over) and all its fabulous wireless accessories - keyboard, mouse and printer. It feels good, not having any wires to get tangled up or tie me down. I'm free to move around and see what else is out there. And that's just what I intend on doing!