Friday, November 13, 2009

Tilapia Helper & other experiments

We're a little prone to experimenting in the Oli-Nish family kitchen. Though for the record, Ed's not allowed to "experiment" anymore except on his own plate. Early in our dating he tried to create wonderful dishes for me, and they flopped. The salmagundi he attempted would have been a lovely "leftovers" stew (which is what salmagundi basically is). Only pasta should not be allowed to stay in a crock pot for a whole day. It made a great thickener, but was barely recognizable as pasta.

The second "Ed Surprise" was an even more colossal failure. I don't think I will ever let him live it down. We were gifted with some wonderful ground venison, and were itching for chili. Alas, we were out of chili seasoning packets - but Ed thought that the taco packets we had would substitute just fine. I think it was the worst thing I've ever tasted that was technically edible. Venison and taco seasoning should never be in same thought process, let alone dish. Yetch!

But even though Ed's been banned from experimenting, I've had more success with it. Back in college and act of poverty and desperation lead to "Pink Pork Chops" - a successful experiment from marinading and cooking pork chops in red wine vinaigrette salad dressing. Though the gravy's pink too, it's pretty tasty.

A bored and bare cupboard afternoon in college (what is it with college?) let to the discovery that nutella really does taste good on just about anything, including baked chicken. Though I think I'll save that odd combination for pregnancy some day.

A Rachel Ray recipe inspired my new love of Brussels Sprout - as long as they've been lightly steamed then sauteed with butter, onions, garlic, and BACON! (but then, bacon makes everything better)

The most recent experiment was also a success: Tilapia Helper. Yesterday, while emailing back & forth, the usual question was asked: Any ideas for dinner? Ed was feeling fish, and we have a bunch of individually packaged frozen tilapia fillets in the freezer. I'd been avoiding them after discovering that being frozen hadn't done much to preserve their texture. And then it dawned on me - surely we have a box of Tuna Helper somewhere in the kitchen? Canned tuna's texture is a bit lacking, and tilapia's a very mild flavored fish. I I wonder if this will work......

It was a hit! Normally, tuna helper's not too high on my list of dishes I look forward too. After spending 5 years with a Hamburger Helper addict (the ExH), I wasn't too keen on anything called "Helper". =P But Ed seems to like the stuff, and it's a great excuse for him to do some experimenting on his own plate - usually with the addition of canned or frozen veggies. (though I have to admit that the cheesier HH's are good with a dash of curry powder)

So while the tilapia was browning in some butter, I opened the last box of Tuna Helper - Fettuccine Alfredo. It was SO good.

I wonder what I'll do next in the kitchen.......

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thanks for reminding me I'm losing my job

I'm filling in for a gentleman, Mr N, who recently ran for election. He decided to take a leave of absence, and so I have been filling in for him since the end of August. If he won the election, there was a very good probability I would have been offered his old position full time. He didn't win the election, and I have not been officially told whether or not he's returning to this position.

The last time I saw him (day before the election), he told me he did not intend to return to the position and that he thought that another elected official may offer him a staff position. HOWEVER, The candidate for whom I'd been volunteering (Mr L - running for a different position), spoke to Mr N last night and Mr N told him that he is returning to the position on Monday. I found this out about 30 minutes ago from my Dad, one of Mr L's closest friends and advisors.

Since the election, I've had many coworkers ask me if Mr N is coming back, sometimes dropping by my cubicle to ask. I've done my best to smile and answer something like "Oh, I'm not sure. I haven't heard anything yet." But on the inside, I'm screaming "Gee, thanks for reminding me I may be out of a job soon. You don't see me stopping by your work area and asking if you've been laid off yet. Moron!"

Just 5 minutes ago, a coworker dropped by my cubicle to ask if Mr N was coming back. I didn't even recognize this guy. But everyone around here knows Mr N and I'm in his old cubicle. This time, instead of my usual vague answer, in my emotional state, replied "You know, but asking me that reminds me that I may not have a job soon." He stumbled over some words, tried to reassure me that they'd find a way to keep me, and then patted me on the back. (WTF? You remind me I could lose my job and then pat me on my back? I never said you could touch me!)

What gives? Why do people think it's okay to just drop in and remind me I'm about to be unemployed, again, around the holidays. I just want to slam their stupid heads into my desk. It takes every ounce of propriety I have not to yell "So, have you been laid off yet?"

I want to crawl under my desk and cry.

So I'm slowly packing up my personal stuff out of my desk drawers and will start slowly taking my things home with me.

Mr L's in a runoff, and I know he wants me to come work his campaign full time. But I'm worried that I won't be able to afford my health insurance (which was absolutely the most pitiful thing I've ever seen). And even after that the situation's tenuous as Mr L can't offer me anything officially until he's elected. If he's not elected, I really don't know what I'm going to do.


Now I'm starting to get pissed. 1) Mr N should have told this himself. I shouldn't have heard it from anyone but him. 2) I fee like he LIED to me. He's told be at least twice now that he didn't intend to return, but he's told my MOTHER that he might, and now he's told Mr L that he will. When we would run into each other at election/campaign events, we would hug and chat and ask about each other's SO and were very friendly. Now I feel like he's completely stabbed me in the back.

I really wanna give him a piece of my mind (a few colorful words come to mind), but 1) that would be rude and 2) I don't want to say anything I would regret.

Still, I hate stewing in this. Grrr.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nap Time should be an unalienable right

I think somewhere in my genetic code is some cat. Considering my long history with cats (another post someday), I wouldn't be too surprised. It would also explain that annoying little whisker that keeps trying to sprout off the left corner of my lip.

Or maybe it's the time change, stress, or medication. Who knows.

But I've begun to see the value of a daily siesta. If I could just get an hour in for some shut eye-time at about 2pm each day...oh bliss! But then I'd have to stay an hour late, and I don't want to do that either. I value my non-work time and don't really care for getting home past 6pm as it is (especially now that it gets dark early). If only there was a "pause" button - I could just pause time so I could nap. Mmmm, that would be heaven. No lost time, increased energy, and no more yawning!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Post Election Exhaustion, Liquid Life, and Doggy Decisions

Good news: Mr M didn't lose. Bad News: He didn't really win either. He's in a runoff. And Mr N lost.

So I don't really know what's going on with my job. I really like it here and I want to stay, but I will gracefully leave my post if required and save my crying, kicking, screaming, mitching & boaning for when I get home.

And I'm utterly exhausted. This is what I hate about campaigns (other than the fear of defeat). I was up way too late watching the outcomes. And donating blood probably didn't help either. But donate I must, for I Committed For Life.

I like donating blood. I get to lay down for a few minutes and let gravity and my pulse do all the work. I get some juice and a snack, it's a great excuse for an awesome breakfast, and it just makes me feel like a good person. I wasn't able to donate for a few years do to some body art, but I'm happy I can donate again and hope to donate regularly. My phlebotomist was great. All smiles, very gentle, and fun to chat with. Oh, and I earn points too so I can get a T-shirt, a water bottle, an umbrella, etc. But mostly, I just like doing something good.

Today is also the big decision about the new dog, "Morgan". On one hand, I really want to keep her. She's got a great personality and gets along wonderfully with our current dog, Jack. On the other, she's not fully house broken. But to me, that's "fixable." It's a matter of training and my Aunt C's got lots of experience with house training rescue dogs. I just don't think I want to "trade her in" for a house trained dog with a lackluster or poor personality match to us. She's a touch "over enthusiastic" (I wouldn't say hyper), but I think that's the excitement of being in our home. A lot of things are still very new to her. As the new becomes familiar, I'm confident she'll mellow out. Jack mellowed out quite a bit and looks like a giant lump of coal in comparison to her sometimes. But that could also be fatigue from playing with Mo so much.

UPDATE: Mo was returned. Long story short: Jack's a wimp and wouldn't assert his position over her when she started showing dominance. She's still a great dog, and the foster Mom is confident she'll find a good Forever Home, but it will be as an "only" dog or as part of pack that's equally assertive.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Nerves & Broken Feet

I hate election days. I'm a big ball of nerves and have the urge to both puke and run around yelling "Squee!". Though considering I have a broken foot, I can't really run around anyway. Maybe I should just start scootin around in my desk chair. They already think I'm odd here.

While the local election this year isn't "World Changing", it could completely change my world. And I hate that. Let me explain.

So I have been Mr. M's campaign assistant while he seeks a position. I've known Mr. M for nearly 20 years - since I was 10 years old. He's a great guy. Smart, funny, caring, dedicated, and genuinely has the public's interest at heart. I say that not just as Senior Campaign aide, but as a friend and someone who known Mr. M and thinks of him as the brother I never had. If elected, there's the possibility of a position on Mr. M's staff for me. Obviously, he can't outright offer me anything - that would be illegal. But he's indicated to me that he trusts me completely and that he would want me by his side (nothing inappropriate there - he's in a relationship with an AWESOME person). There's the good cahnce of a run-off since there are 6 others vying for this position.

I'm also been filling in for Mr. N's position at his job while he's running for another position (he and Mr. M are not opponents). If elected, there's a good chance I'll be offered this position full time. That would be really nice too. I like it here and feel confident in my skills.

So basically, there's a risk that at the end of tonight, I may realize I no longer have a job of any sort, and it terrifies the crap out of me.

I really want to go throw up. And I'm not sure if it's in the Indocin for my foot or the nerves. I feel completely out of control. I don't like that my career is in the hands of thousands of voters, and I'm even on the friggin ballot!

Broken feet suck too. >=P

Monday, November 2, 2009

Learning to Love Drool

I was never a dog person. Growing up, I liked dogs just fine, but I preferred cats. Cats don't have that "dog" smell, they don't drool, they don't need to be walked, and they're largely independent. When I was about 12, I begged for a dog. I that classic image in my mind that I would get a dog and it would be my best friend. The reality was I had the attention span of a gnat and while Nick was an awesome dog, I just wasn't a dog person. Luckily, Nick got lots of love and attention from Dad, who treated him as the son he never had. ;)

I've always had cats. There have been very few years without a cat in my life. (Turns out, when I was given up for adoption, I was replaced with the gift of a cat from my birth-mom's sister) And my two current cats, Claudio (aka Boo) and Hero (aka B**** Cat) are very loved, adored, spoiled, and well fed. They have been my replacement children for the last 6 years years. Their presence had solidified my identity as a "Crazy Cat Lady."

And then we got Jack, and suddenly I became a Dog Person too. Jack is our sweet, lovable, cuddly Black Lab & Pit mix. He's both the strangest Lab we've ever known (doesn't know how to fetch, dislikes water) and the wimpiest Pit we've ever known (hides behind my legs when startled by neighbors on our walks, during thunder, at car horns, at video games, etc). He's great with Hero and Claudio (he and Claudio are buddies), and is gentle with my young nieces. He's been such a joy.

Ya know what they say about potato chips and being able to have just one? Apparently, Labs are the same way. So this past Saturday we brought home a Chocolate Lab mix we've re-named "Morgan." She's a sweetie, but very energetic. She's got a great personality, but she's had very few lessons in manners. She's crate trained, but not house broken. =P And she pulls like crazy on her leash. I'm really hoping that we'll be able to successfully deal with both problems. She and Jack get along so well. They love to run all over the back yard together, sometimes taking turns chasing each other. And when they're tired, they lay together and nibble each others face. They will often lounge together, wrestle together, and whatever Jack's doing, Morgan's gotta do too. She's a bit "monkey see, monkey do".

Both are pure bred Attention Hounds.

So here's to hoping that our little family is near complete. The only thing I could want is a baby, but all in good time.

I never knew I could love 1 dog so much, let along 2.