Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Big Dinner

This was not the exact piece of lasagne that I had for dinner, but it's a picture of a piece from the restaurant we ate at.  Mulberry's Cafe was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  Although it is neither of those things.  It's a nice quality casual old world Italian restaurant that I'd wanted to go to for a while.  The place is popular so I knew a Friday or Saturday night would be tough. 

TBG is back from camp and we splurged.  It was not a cheap meal but I have a big hunk of left-over lasagna that he can have for lunch.  The food was prepared fresh and the service was good.  We drove to South Buffalo so it was a bit of a hike, but well worth it.

I try not to totally avoid more pricey meals out like this.  As great as the food was, it was super nice for me to see TBG really enjoy a meal.  We don't need a special occasion to go out for a special meal.  But then again, special meals are that way because they don't happen all of the time!

Monday, July 21, 2014

It's Monday Night and I Think I'm Caught Up...

Boy did I get behind yesterday! I met TBG and the girlie at camp and she was going to stay up there with Daddy until tomorrow -- until I noticed a new hot-spot on her face.  She is back home and wearing the cone of shame.  The spot is getting treated with Gold Bond powder.  We are going to the vet on Thursday.  It is almost time for her yearly check-up and we are going to arrive at a better regimen for dealing with her summer allergies.  The Zyrtec helps a lot but TBG forgot it so she had a day without. I'm not certain that made a huge difference.  She might need monthly steroid shots this year since things are so bad.  This time she adapted to the cone much quicker.  They are not strangers after all!

I made it out to Dollar Tree today with the intention of buying chicken stock for a buck a box -- I don't have time to make stock like I used to.  Imagine my delight when I say boxes of vegetable as well as seafood stock.  This is why it's always worthwhile to visit the dollar store.  I also stopped in to Amvet's to pick up a few skirts.  There was an elderly woman with a walker and she was exhausted so I offered her a ride.  She lived back in our old part of town and it was nice to help someone like that out.  People say it's easy to be poor because you just sit back and accept your assistance.  It's not.  If you're poor, you have to take the bus on ungodly hot days and walk to boot -- after shopping at thrift stores.  No, it's easier to walk and drive around wherever you need to go!

I splurged last night and bought a bag of already cooked tail-off shrimp.  I made half of it into shrimp salad to put into wraps for lunch this week -- adding in corn, grapes, cheese and vinaigrette.  My dinner tonight was pasta with beans, mushrooms, onion, shrimp and cheese along with a healthy glass of wine -- which I didn't really need since Emma across the street had already given me a glass.

This business of weekend housewifery with yard work thrown in is tough.  Yesterday I had to mow the lawn, pick up weeds, clean the car and deal with the trash.  It doesn't sound like a lot but I also found a load of laundry in the wash that someone forgot to hang up and that had to go through a cycle again.  Luckily, I had one outfit put together that I hadn't worn last week and there wasn't too much to clean up around the house.

TBG is back from camp tomorrow -- I can't wait until he's fully back on his feet.  I won't miss days of posting!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Doing OK

We were going to enjoy a dinner out tonight because it's just been a busy week.  Then it became apparent to us that getting to the restaurant we chose was going to be tough because the annual Italian Festival is on.  No, we don't pay much attention to these things because we work during the week and go to camp on the weekends.  Even though we don't go every weekend, the alternate weekends are devoted to house stuff -- which I've had to double up on.

I decided to turn around and go home because we had a third of a loaf of bread.  Yes, I ditched dinner out just to make sure we didn't waste a loaf of bread.  I also knew I had the ingredients on hand for making a quick chicken Parm -- with homemade sauce made out of a can of San Marzano tomatoes.  We did also save about 25 bucks over the price of going out by eating in.

I had been preparing myself for my contract termination as I had only gotten an extension to the end of the month. Now it seems I'll be around longer. I'm not sure how much longer but I got some good news that was an uber pleasant surprise.  A major re-org which had put a lot of the communications work I had done on hold and also left me with a lot of hard to justify free time came through today.  The lady who hired me called me into her office and said that as part of the re-org, I was being moved out of her group into a newly formed communications group.  Two colleagues whom I have really enjoyed working with were selected for this and they threw me in because we all work together so well.  I could not be happier.

This may very well be a good sign for me. I don't have any guarantees but  it doesn't seem like they'd position me like this only to end my contract at the end of the month.  Tomorrow I am meeting with my new boss.  I'd taken a training class she led and also interviewed her for a newsletter article and I've had positive experiences with her.  I've also been tremendously lucky to have been hired by someone who has gone above and beyond to make my talents known.  That meant she's handed me off to another manager and I don't think that many executives would do that for someone who was taken on for a temporary project. 

For those who may have just stumbled on this blog, I am a over middle aged woman who had been out of work for almost a year.  If you pay attention to the media, I am a rather un-hirable demographic.  However, I have always had great skills -- but finding the right opportunity seemed impossible.  It would also seem that my age kicked me out of the running for most positions.  The truth is that I did not like anything I'd applied for so I am lucky I didn't get hired!  I took on a contract position to assist a project manager.  It was scary because it was in a business sector I had no experience in and for a technology I that I had no exposure to.  However, I did have administrative skills.  I was fortunate that the recruiter who found my resume believed in my abilities more than I did.  He made me see that something that intimidating was within my skill sets.

After I was hired, one of the projects I was slated for fell through.  I got called into a meeting with a new communications specialist to take notes and offer some feedback on account of the fact that I did have some web experience.  One thing led to another and I was able to show skills that impressed the person who hired me. She worked on increasing my visibility by giving me graphics based assignments that helped other project managers.  That got my work noticed.

We got through the important part of my main project ahead of schedule.  During that time, I learned a lot of new techie stuff and taught myself a lot of new stuff using tools I'd never been exposed to before.  Yes, supposedly older workers can't learn new skills.  I'm the type of person that just needs to get my hands on something and I'll figure it out.   I am inexplicably fortunate to have found a position that gave me a small open door as well as being recognized by someone who was willing to help push me through it.

While I have no promise that this will turn into something permanent, I am in a better position than I was before and the work I'll be starting on is truly exciting.  I believe if you always believe in the best and always do your best and show your best face to the world, the world will want you around.  I guess it doesn't hurt if you can make a quick chicken parm dinner in a half hour either?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I Get Behind when Keeping Up...

Dinner last night looked a lot like the one from the night before... but it was different!  That is chicken, not pork, the side is a cheese stuffed zucchini and while it is the same soup from the night before, it has croutons in it.

I got too far behind to post.  Swimming with the pup really tired me out but I knew what I wanted to make.  We got held up with a couple of drop in guests who wanted to wish TBG well.  I had some wine with them which hindered my ability to efficiently finish my evening.  After cleaning up from dinner, it was bed for me -- it was late and I was too tired to post.

TBG got the ingredients for and made us dinner tonight. It was too much for him and now he is sore. No matter how many times I tell him to take it easy, he tries to do stuff and then finds out it's too much.  I guess we might be alike that way.  My guess is he feels guilty that I am rushing to do everything and he is resting.  The thing is, I want him to rest so he can heal.  I guess I have more work to do on that front!

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Woman without a Plan

I did not plan dinner tonight -- just started making it when I got home from swimming with Teddy.  TBG had taken Tilapia out to thaw so I knew I wanted a light breading for that (egg wash, then panko, chia seeds, a little bit of whole wheat bread crumbs and corn meal) and also that I'd serve it with soup.  If you have tofu and a can of tomatoes on hand (I like San Marzano), you have the basis for a low fat and healthy "cream" of tomato soup.  I did add some cottage cheese to this.  There's barley in it, mushrooms, onion, fresh corn and chopped orange pepper.  I even had some fresh lasagna noodles left from last night and I cut them into wide slices so we'd have a noodle component.  Topped with freshly grated parm plus salt and pepper, it was a light but filling soup.  For spices I used salt, pepper, oregano, dill and sage. I do give the Vitamix a good workout -- it's how I pureed the tomato and tofu (along with a little stock, onion, garlic, etc.).

It would seem I'm just going on and living my life without a plan these days. I don't know when my job will end but that the lady who hired me is trying to keep on lining up work for me.  If we can dig up projects for me before the end of the month, I'll get another extension.  Tomorrow I'm meeting with a Project Manager whom I really like to see what I can offer her and the guy who is in charge of communications (whom I work with a lot) is out with strep throat, so I've got a few writing assignments to do for him.  No one has any concrete plans for me but they are trying to get work on my plate to keep me around.

So I guess you don't need a plan to fill your plate (or your bowls) and things still have a chance of working out OK. After spending the last part of the week as a housewife, I am just fine with going back to that too!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Flea Prevention

I dosed up the dog yesterday with Advantix 2.  It kills me to use chemicals on her but it bothers me more when she itches her skin raw and has an infection that requires antibiotics and steroids.  We never had to treat our Border Collie but she had a very different coat.

When Teddy was younger, I used to give her half a treatment.  I've given that up too as now that she's larger and we trim her, she's got a thicker coat. I also think that fleas, flies and the like have been more prevalent and aggressive in the past few years.  She gets the full dose.  I also only used the straight flea preventive (regular Advantix) but have moved up to the formula that repels flies, lice, ticks and mosquitoes as I believe flies and mosquitoes are the worst of her problems.  We also plan to keep her on Zyrtec for the summer and possibly into the fall (if this pollen persists).  Her boxer buddy Spedrick has skin sensitivities too and his mom suggested getting Bronco Equine spray to kill flies and mosquitoes on the ground and in the grass around the trailer.  I am seriously considering picking it up at Tractor Supply on our way to camp next time.

I can report that after two weeks on Zyrtec, my dog is itching a whole lot less.  Her ears aren't as cruddy as normal because the water still is below normal temperatures.  However, she is still swimming every day and I've been cleaning them every three days.  I do think the Zyrtec helps cut down on the amount of rubbing she does for her ears because it blocks the itchiness that had her scratching behind them a lot.  It's also a hard thing to keep up with daily combing since I am so pressed for time, but I am making sure we do it.  When we stop at Tractor Supply, I'll probably pick up some Mane and Tail shampoo and cut back on the Head and Shoulders I'd been using every few weeks.  Her groomer thinks it's too drying but it does help if she has entered into the "sour smell" territory preceding a staph infection.

Golden Retrievers are wonderful dogs and I absolutely love my girl, but there's a lot to do in order to care for them because of their coat.  These are dogs that were bred for the water but I suspect very few swim day in and day out and spend as much time wet as Teddy does.  Even without the swimming, I think all of the allergens in the air contribute to skin maladies because this breed is more sensitive.  We'll have to be vigilant and my focus is going to have to shift from frugality to spending and doing what it takes to avoid a problem.  Problems are more expensive to treat than they are to prevent.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Summer Saturday...

If I'm not relaxing at camp on Saturday (and it seems I always find chores that have to get done there too...), I'm back home working from morning to evening.  Today was no exception.  We did treat ourselves to breakfast out but that was because I had a lot to do and didn't want to mess with the clean up.  There's also a farmer's market across from the restaurant so I picked up some homegrown tomatoes and zucchini (yes, us urban suburbanites pay for stuff like that). We have to keep Teddy on flea preventive -- the kind that repels not only fleas but ticks and mosquitoes.  Those are actually the worst threat to her and her skin sensitivity.  Petsmart had a buy 2 get 1 free sale on all toys so you can bet I stocked up on Chuck-it balls.  There is a Dollar Tree in the same plaza so I picked up boxes of chicken broth, poop bags and a couple of other things.  Next, it was a trip to Price Rite.  This picture of the Malibu (a.k.a "The Poppy" mobile because it was Tom's dad's) shows two of my Saturday accomplishments.  I trimmed the hedge (belonging to the foreclosure next door) and did some weed whacking.  I also did a load of laundry and hung it out.  Some idiot backed into my metal planter in the Hell strip, so I got a hammer and (loudly) slugged it back into shape. I also put weed killer on the growth around it.  Once that was done, I took Teddy to the park and had her swim and we both took a walk with our buddy Swim Jim.  I was kicking myself for not being prepared to swim but boat traffic is horrible on the weekends.

Whether I swim or not, it seems I invariably end up in a bathing suit.  I put mine on to wash the cars.  While I was prancing around in my suit, I saw two neighbors working on one of my neighbor's fence (hanging decorative items).  They needed a third set of hands so I helped.  The new guy is moving in next door and he better get used to the fact that the chubby 50+ year old lady next door walks around in a bathing suit a lot of the time.  Being true to my summer self, I cooked dinner in my bathing suit.

Dinner was a veggie lasagna with a healthy salad to start.  The garlic bread was the end of a cheap loaf from Save-a-Lot that we had on Wednesday night.  Then we had some for French toast.  We finished it tonight as more garlic bread.

I really needed that glass of wine as my feet were killing me!  I do plan to make a banana papaya slushie for us later.  The goal is to load up my man on high fiber fruits to "keep the trains running."  He's resting somewhat comfortably and I hope to do the same tomorrow!