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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fun w/ Fondant

I spent last weekend at my Mom's house to celebrate her birthday. Mom made her own birthday cake (from scratch - lemon with berry filling). She is practicing for my step-son's wedding, set for September, when she'll be making and decorating the cake. So I helped her with decorating ideas.

She likes the look of rolled fondant on a cake, but hadn't worked with it before (me neither). So, we gave it a shot. In the process, I managed to break the marble rolling pin that she's used for the past 10-15 years (I think she's had it that long)...I don't know if I used too much pressure or what, but I actually cracked the handle. There's me on the left (a highly unflattering shot of me, if I do say so myself...say hi to my 5 chins - they've come out of hiding!) pulling a MacGuyver and fixing the rolling pin with duct tape. It's a temporary fix... Some little slivers of splintered wood may have ended up in the fondant decorations. Good thing we'd already managed to cover the cake, and I was just rolling the rest out to play with decorating motifs.

Now, please realize that the below cake - our never really made it to finished product - is not how we would actually decorate a wedding cake, but was a platform for practicing. Like a very high calorie blank slate. All things considered, it's not so bad. Even though it looks like a veiled hat from the 40's.

Mom and I also made my great-grandmother's cream cheese mints, which Mom is thinking of making for the wedding as well. They turned out great, but I think I may need some helpful hints from my aunt. (Aunt Fran made a great batch at Christmas that she shipped out to Mom's.)

And, after the weekend food-fest, I am officially back on WW. According to my weekly tracker (I have the 3 month journal), the last time I tracked my meals was the end of March. Gee, wonder why I've been steadily gaining weight? Anyway, I'm back on track, and treating it like a new start. I'm even exercising...well, I'm walking at lunch again. A couple of my co-workers go for about a half-hour each day. Now that I'm "in" with the walkers (there are only 2...and one of them is leaving the company after next week), they said I'm staying in. That should help keep me on task. Wish me luck! (Again!) I only have 10lbs (give or take a lb) to go...though it was less a few months ago...The gain stops now!

***OMG - Can you believe I've had over 10,000 visits to this site?? Who'd have thought it?***

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Who knew? Gracie is a camera ham... Now, how come when I am attempting to take a shot of her, she is turned away or blinky, but I'm trying to take a shot of me using my self-timer, she's up front and (off) center?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

New Venture

*Edited 6/22/07 to correct link. I am a moron. Carry on.*

I have an announcement to make.

Now, before you all get too excited...No, I did not meet someone. No, I did not win the lotto. No, my cat did not learn how to clean my house while I was sleeping.

I have joined forces with Rose (aka Orelinde_03) to create a recipe sharing blog. Okay, I'll admit it...Rose did all the work and simply added me as a contributor. And I hope I don't disappoint her (or my blogging public) with my take on the culinary arts! (I also hope I don't infringe on any copyright laws, since most of the recipes I use are not my own originals.)

So, if you don't mind a little bit of personal commentary, and reporting of personal fiascoes, mixed in with your recipes, come on over to and peruse our efforts! Rose has already 2 tasty looking recipes, and I added the ceviche.

If anyone has any recipes that you'd like to share, or would like to be a contributor to the recipe blog, please contact either me or Rose. Thank you!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Happy Birthday Mom!!

Today is my mother's birthday - and no, I didn't forget it this year. Really, I didn't. She called me tonight to see if I was coming up next weekend to celebrate, and instead of saying hi, I sang happy birthday to her. :) Unfortunately, she called me before I had a chance to call her. Foiled again!

Anyway, Mom had to spend her birthday on jury duty this year. Poor Mom! But it was the last day of the trial. Now they deliberate... Please wish my dear Ma (which she always hated us to call her, but couldn't get away from) another great year! Or perhaps even a better year than the last one.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Shoes, Songs and Stuff

I haven't done a whole lot of shopping for myself in a while, and apparently was trying to make up for it last Friday. I found some cute shorts and a brown full skirt + 2 discounted tees at Old Navy, where I went in search of cheap-ish summer-type sandals...which I did not find. So, after my mini-spending spree, I still wanted shoes. And headed over to Shoe Pavillion to keep looking.

Success! Too much of it... I found these cute little tennis shoes (by Punkrose, that I'd never heard of) that were marked down to affordable, and I couldn't resist them. So, I bought them, and wore them to the Day in the Zone on Saturday, that I went to with Kerri and her friend Kathy. (The shoe shot is for Jill...)

I'll come back to the concert in a minute. First, I need to share the other pair of shoes (below photo is also for Jill - please ignore the large ankles.) I love these and took the last size 7 in the store. I wore them all day at work today and they didn't pinch across the toes at all. Thank you Steve Madden.
On to the concert - it was an all day concert in the park, with a number of bands and food and booths. Kerri had asked me about a month or so if I wanted to go, so we picked up tickets early. The lineup was Emerson Hart of Tonic, Matt Kearney, Everclear, Augustana, Five for Fighting and Smashmouth. The high points were Five for Fighting and Smashmouth, who were by far the best performances, and obviously enjoy themselves on stage.


The low point was Everclear. I like their songs that made it to the radio, but they were terrible live. I think the lead singer was lit, and the words were slurry...just not good.

And luckily, it was less than 100 degrees that day. And we were totally prepared for that possibility, so none of us ended up burning. And all three of us are pretty pale...

After the concert, I headed out to my Dad's house to celebrate Father's Day. What should have taken only 1hr 15 min ended up taking over 2 hours, due to an unexpected road closure and a bizarre detour...but I got there safely. At 9:30pm. And my 3yr old little brother was still awake. My stepmother was about to put him down, but he got all excited when I came in, and ended up having a 2nd wind (though he was tired...).

On Sunday morning, I watched Gino for a bit while Dad was working, and let him run around in the backyard. That boy loves the hose...if he had his way, the backyard would be a mud pit. Dad came back from work and started making our traditional Sunday meal (from when I was growing up) - Pasta and meatballs. My father makes the best meatballs! (Though they are also known as bread balls, garlic balls, and my personal favorite, meat triangles.) My two other brothers showed up and we all had a nice dinner/lunch and a nice afternoon.

I hope everyone else had as good a weekend.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Suddenly Ceviche

So it's not the prettiest concoction, but it's darned tasty. A few of us were joking around at work yesterday about who was bringing in food tomorrow (that is to say, today). "What's the occasion?" was a question thrown out there, and Sharon checked out her calendar and mentioned that it would be flag day. Also mentioned was the fact that our department had once had an all-finger-foods/appetizers potluck (I think I made cornmeal chili creampuffs or something for that one - they were more like biscuits, but started with a choux pastry). I thought about it over the rest of the day (since I had no actual motivation), and thought it might be fun to whip something up and bring it in for no reason.

So, while perusing, I ran across this recipe for ceviche and thought it looked really good. And I liked that it did not require any cooking (Caitlin - you can make this for Kyle over the summer and not have to turn on the oven!). I ran to the store and picked up the fresh veggies on my way home, and then got to choppin'. It was a success at work today, and I had 2 requests for recipes (1 from someone in another department that didn't even try it!).

Anyway, I decided that I would share it here. You can check out the original or you can check out what I actually did below. My editorial comments are in italics.

Shrimp Ceviche:

Ingredients -
1lb pre-peeled, deveined cooked salad shrimp (I opted for pre-cooked shrimp as it was easier to find, and I'm distrustful of the cooking by marinating method...)
5 limes, juiced
3 medium sized vine-ripened tomatoes
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
4 serrano peppers, seeded and minced (don't make the mistake I did. Wear gloves when handling/mincing these innocent looking suckers! I hardly ever eat spicy foods, and didn't actually realize that these were one of the hottest varieties... About an hour after mincing these, the fingertips and palm of my left hand started burning...and still are burning today!! Much worse after my shower tonight. But I read up on this online tonight, and ending up sitting in front of the TV for about 15 minutes with the affected digits in a cold container of yogurt to cut the capsaicin. I also popped a Benadryl. I'm not sure which one did the trick, but I'm not in pain at the moment. Thank God I didn't touch my eyes!! Okay, next ingredient.)
1 Avocado, diced
salt and pepper to taste.


1. Dice shrimp. Place into large bowl. (Most recipes I see for ceviche specify to use a glass bowl. I don't know if it needs to be glass, but I do know you want a non-reactive steer clear of metal bowls.)

2. Squeeze (or pour) lime juice over shrimp until completely covered (you may need more or fewer limes, depending on the size of the limes. If using the uncooked shrimp, make sure all of the shrimp is immersed in juice. If using pre-cooked shrimp, this is less important).

3. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

4. When ready to serve, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Serve with tostada shells or tortilla chips.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tami's Top Ten List of Office Irritations

10. Microsoft Outlook emails that state the user's mailbox is over it's size limit. The email itself isn't so bad. The fact that it comes automatically 400 times, further adding to said mailbox size, is.

9. Overzealous janitorial staff that vacuum under my desk while I'm still seated. This happens daily people… It is not usually too bad, except when she runs the vacuum into my feet!

8. Other worker's leftover fish being re-heated in the breakroom microwave, and stinking up the whole office.

7. The blue screen of death!

6. One phrase…"Do you have a minute?" Of course not. But I'll help you anyway…I'm too nice that way. I make up for it in other ornery ways.

5. Last minute urgent requests from management, sent at the end of the day, immediately before said manager leaves the office. It happened today.

4. Uninvited guests appearing at the departmental potluck. Are you a part of our department? Did we tell you to help yourself? Do we enjoy your company? Why are you here?

3. Walking into the breakroom to find that someone used the last sugar packet/creamer/tea bag/etc, and did not refill the stash. When I need my caffeine, I need it now.

2. Co-workers that sing or hum at their desk. (Please - Save it for the car. I do!)

1. Cell phone conversations in the public restrooms. I don't care who you are, or who you think you are. I do not want to hear your business while I'm doing mine. It's called a restroom for a reason. Give it a rest.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

2 Weekends at Once

Pardon my tardiness, but it's something I'm known for. I've decided to recap the last two weekends together today.

I'll start with the weekend after I returned from Boston. (Makes sense, chronologically, after all.) On Saturday, I met up with my friend Christyn's sister-in-law to prepare for the baby shower, which was last Sunday. We hit Costco and picked up a bunch of food, and then headed over to their in-law's house to prep the favors and wait for the tables and chairs to be delivered. (Normally, I would not rent tables/chairs for a backyard shower, but Maureen was insistent, so she did that part.) We also planted individual petunias into little terra cotta pots as favors.

The shower went pretty well. We played a few games - even a water balloon toss (little water balloon in a diaper), and ate a whole lot of food. Maureen brought chocolate-covered strawberries and I made a key-lime angel food cake (in the photo above - the recipe didn't make quite enough frosting to cover the sides...or I am just not good at frosting cakes...). I am hoping that Christyn had a good time. :)

This weekend, I went up to my friend Kristin's cabin in LaPorte (CA). We left right after I got home from work on Friday and got there close to midnight. The cabin was freezing when we got there! So, Kristin started a fire in the cast-iron stove to heat the place up, and discovered that whoever was there last had closed the flue, which is broken, so you can't open it all the way from the lever on the outside of the chimney above the stove. It was a bit smokey that first night, but she managed to open it enough that we wouldn't asfixiate in our sleep. (I may be exaggerating a didn't fill the cabin with smoke or anything, there was just a little smoke seeping out the front of the fireplace, with the rest going up the chimney.)

On Saturday morning, we walked down to the lake, where there were a ton of these colorful little butterflies flittering and fluttering all over the place, close to the ground. It was quite difficult to get a good shot of them - camera shy, I guess. (And fast little fliers.)

After lunch, we sat on the deck reading for a while, but decided to head down to "town" and explore. We parked on the street in front of this tree, which had grown up and around this sign, of which I had to take a picture (naturally!). If you can't read it, it actually says, "DEER KEEP OFF HIGHWAY - MOTORISTS ARE PASSING." The tree trunk has grown over the smaller writing along the bottom.

Kristin and I decided to check out the little (literally - 2 rooms) museum on the main road, which was actually pretty cool. Lots of historical town information and items that had been recovered from the old gold mining sites. It also houses the world's largest bottle collection (old glass bottles) and the world's largest butter dish collection. (Not so sure if they really have the world's largest collections...but who am I to judge?)After that, we walked a few blocks to the town cemetery, which also is the site of the old schoolhouse. I think the oldest headstone was from 1830-something, with the newest ones in the 2000's. Kind of neat, but then I tend to get a kick out of old cemetaries (I'm twisted). The photo above is a detail of the ironwork fencing around one plot. After the cemetary, we peeked in the general store, then headed back to the cabin for dinner. Grilled burgers and salad...followed a little later with roasted marshmallows. You can't tell from this picture, but there really is a fire in that fireplace...flames and everything. (And don't you love the carpeting in the cabin?) Anyway, after filling ourselves with molten sugar, we settled down in easy chairs and read for a while (I crocheted a bit before my eyes got too tired, then moved on to my book).

And today we headed back. As we were packing up the car, the couple that owns the cabin next door were outside, so Kristin decided to go say hi. The man (Craig) is the nephew of Kristin's step-grandmother. I ended up chatting with his wife, and somehow it came out that I went to SSU, and she was wondering if I was there when her niece was, and she almost didn't follow through with the statement. But she threw out the name, and it turns out that her niece was my roommate when I was a sophomore (and her niece, Marta, was a freshman). What a small world!!

And now I'm tired again, and need to get to bed. I hope everyone else had good, relaxing weekends!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Looking Good?

I have been going through a little phase of feeling rather blah about myself. Might have something to do with getting back up to 10lbs over my lowest weight at WW last week, when I was less than a pound from goal around this time last year. Maybe it has something to do with this week having sucked so royally at work. (Too much work, constant requests for information/special projects/general crap from the bosses, 2 new employees that require training and don't know how to use basic software like Word and, yeah, that kind of crap making me unable to get anything done).

:( So, I decided to dress up a bit today to help me feel better about myself. I finally wore that cute red skirt that I bought a few months ago for David's christening, but couldn't wear because it was too cold in GA. I had on my favorite retro style 3" heels, and pantyhose. I don't know if I've gone into my fondness for pantyhose on my blog or not...but I'm weird and enjoy wearing them, as much of a pain as they are, because they actually make me feel more feminine and maybe a bit more refined. Plus, my legs look way better in them than without them...and they come in styles that suck in my tummy for me! Anyway, sorry for the slight diversion... I got a few nice compliments from co-workers, which I do appreciate. And then the inevitable obnoxious questions.

Only this time, no one asked if I had an interview. Nope, they must have figured out by now that I'm not going anywhere. (Now, maybe I'd have gotten that question if I came in wearing slacks and a matching suit jacket...which I no longer own in my actual size.)

Instead, I get the whole, "What's his name?" I don't need a man around for me to want to look nice. (Besides, I'll never meet one if I look as schlumpy as I usually do, now will I?) I really want to answer this way: His name is self-esteem, and I am trying to build him. But, I probably wouldn't say that... Instead I give a self-deprecating comment about there being no men and no prospects (while only slightly self-deprecating, as it's true). And naturally, since the earlier compliments did give me a boost of confidence, and I did think I looked pretty good today, I didn't run into a single attractive man today (okay, none that spoke to me). (Not that there are many around the office anyway - I work with all women...and I think we've scared off all the men.)

Anyway, that sort of ties into the latest quiz I took. I think it fits me, but I guess I should ask my friends if they agree with it's assessment of me.

Your Beauty Element is Water

Feminine and dreamy, your beauty style is classic and very vintage.
But you never look out of style! You have a way of making classic looks modern again.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I'm Back - Boston Recap

I'm back, and my vacation was great! Over too soon, of course. I really liked Boston, and would go back again in a second. So much to see, lots of history, and walkable for the most part (not like SF hills…). And of course, the company was great. I'm glad that I have friends that I can get together with and interact as if no time had passed since we last talked. It also helps that the 2 couples never made me feel like a 5th wheel (which is usually not any one's intention, but you single people know how you can get that feeling as the one single person in the group?).

My friend Caitlin took a few days off of work, so she drove me around her hometown on Thursday afternoon (after I'd had a nice nap - not much sleep on the red-eye, hence the term). We picked up her husband after work and went to dinner, then headed back to their condo to hang out and plan the next day. Above is a photo of one of the Kennedy's homes, I believe...(Cait - correct me or clarify if necessary. I can't remember which town this was in.)

Caitlin in front of The Witch House in Salem, MA

Friday, Caitlin drove me out to Salem and we hit the Witch History Museum and the Pirate Museum. Both were pretty cool, but involved life sized scenes with creepy-looking human figures. We also did a fair amount of just walking around and talking. And it was really, really hot that day...97 degrees, according to the temperature gauge in the van. It didn't feel that hot, and it was humid.

Me & Caitlin in The Burying Point in Salem - self-portrait

We could have spent more time there, but had reservations that night for a ghost tour in Boston, so we braved the rush hour traffic and headed back home to meet back up with Kyle. After dinner, we took the T into the city and ran around Boston Common (Kyle considered it "walking") before the ghost tour. The ghost tour itself was not too ghost-centric, but included a lot of historical info, so wasn't bad. It included the Omni Parker House, where Dickens used to stay when in town, the Athenaeum, The Cheers Bar (formally the Bull & Finch - which they have actually renamed Cheers, after all the tourist questions), some graveyards I can't remember the names of... We had a nice small group of people on our tour, including a 3 people from Iowa from the town where they filmed Napoleon Dynamite (which I still haven't seen). Apparently, the girl on our tour actually designed those teal dance costumes that were in the performance at the end of the movie. I guess during filming, the crew was given free reign of the high school, and found the old outfits in storage. Of course, when she originally designed them, they were in style... (Sorry I can't be more specific, as I haven't seen the movie...but now I might need to check it out.) After the tour we hit Fanieul Hall for some ice cream and people watching. And there were lots of people to watch. Mostly drunk and under 25 (and I'm being generous with the ages).

Saturday started out slowly. I wasn't feeling great in the morning, and apparently Kyle hadn't been feeling great the night before. So we hung around the house until it was time to pick up our friends Moriah and Eric from the airport (they flew out from Ohio). We all went to dinner at the shore (and I got some good New England Clam Chowder). Later, we played Cranium - guys vs. girls. We women whipped their butts good. Yep, total modesty from me at all times... After Cranium, we kept the same teams and played Taboo. The guys started complaining that we were doing so much better because we had more players, so my team sacrificed me to the guys. Then my team won. Yeah, I'm a tad competitive...

On Sunday we hit Newport, RI (so we could see how the other half lives?). We toured 2 mansions (castles would me a more appropriate term!) - Marble House and The Breakers (The Breakers is on the left). Both "summer cottages" were owned by two of the Vanderbilt brothers - William and Cornelius. And Caitlin's service dog just happened to relieve herself on each of their well-manicured lawns... Not intentional by us, but we couldn't stop her! Both homes were gorgeous, and it was neat to learn about Alva Vanderbilt's personal suffragette mission (she designed Marble House, I believe, and used to hold suffragette rallies there).

View along the back of the Japanese tea house behind Marble House

Newport was beautiful, but ended up a lot colder than we expected it to be. And none of us thought to bring a sweater... Shouldn't we all have known better? You'd certainly think so! But after the 2 mansion tours, we went to Caitlin's favorite restaurant, Sardella's, and sat outside where the heat lamps were set up. NO heat reached us, and we were all freezing. We were joking (well, probably only half-joking, really) about sending someone down to the tourist section on a sweatshirt run. We toughed it out there, but we did all end up running into a souvenir shop and buying sweatshirts right after dinner. We went around a few little shops at the shore and then Caitlin bought us all hot cocoa (or whatever we wanted) at Starbucks, where we sat around chatting for a while.

Me & Moriah in our snazzy matching tourist gear

Monday we all ran around Boston. We got a late start, since it was raining that morning, so weren't able to cover too much of it. Plus, we had issues deciding what to do that day... We headed into the city and stumbled upon the Holocaust Memorial. Each of these tall glass towers represents one of the concentration camps, and has the numbers of all of the prisoners etched into the glass, all the way to the top. Kind of staggering. There are also quotes and factoids on the stone walkways and inside the towers. I'd encourage any visitors to the city to make a stop off there.

Next up - The Freedom Trail... We didn't do too much of the trail, since we didn't have all that much time left. We did run by Paul Revere's House, and past the tower that signalled him for the famous ride. We walked through the Paul Revere Pedestrian Mall (I think that's what it's called), which has the monument to Paul Revere's Midnight Ride, a fountain in the middle, and plaques commemorating historical figures from the city. I have to say, Boston had a lot of cute little park areas throughout the city.

Kyle and Eric hit Fenway Park that night and caught the game between the Red Sox and the Indians. And Eric is a big Indians fan, so went all decked out in support of his team. He didn't get any crap from the Sox fans for rooting for the other team though. And it sounded like the guys had a good time there. While they were at the game, we girls sat out on Cait's front patio gabbing. Then we moved inside, and gabbed some more.

Anyway, that's my trip in a nutshell. All of us out of towners flew home on Tuesday, and I've been trying to catch up at work since I got back. Today was the baby shower for my friend Christyn, but I'll get to that later.

I'll leave you with a creepy life-like sculpted (maybe molded) piece of the street lamp from in front of The Breakers. It's eerie, I tell ya!