LADYIRISH317's SparkPeople Blog LADYIRISH317's Blog on SparkPeople, home of free diet plans and a healthy living community Been MIA for awhile I haven't had ANY Spark of late. Not just low, none. All this week work was sheer H**l, and I've been so depressed I couldn't do anything. <BR> <BR> Well, I survived the week (which I wasn't at all sure I would). Now I'm on vacation and I don't have to see the office for NINE. WHOLE. DAYS. I'm celebrating tonight with a Cutthroat Kitchen marathon (the funniest show in TV, IMHO) and a steakhouse dinner. A gorgeous bone-in rib eye done to a perfect medium rare (which I'm quite good at achievin... Fri, 29 Aug 2014 22:02:58 EST Saturday (For those who asked, crab stars are a gorgeous Chinese or Chinese-American appetizer. They're won ton skins stuffed with a mix of crab, cream cheese and scallions. They're then folded into four-pointed stars and deep-fried). <BR> <BR> Company picnic yesterday, and today I'm sunburned to a bright red. The picnic got invaded by bees. My inclination is always to protect bees because they're dying off and they're vital to agriculture, but a co-worker told me that these were "meat bees" who aren... Sat, 23 Aug 2014 13:14:57 EST What a day... I am totally exhausted. Today has been BRUTAL. <BR> <BR> They finally told me I could go ahead and post the state Medicaid. That's about $200,000 posting from a detail in VERY tiny print. I got half of it posted while the boss kept coming to my desk: This is wrong. This is wrong. This is wrong. Meantime my coworkers kept interrupting me with endless questions. My immediate deskmate asked me how to do a process. Every step I'd tell her how to do it and she'd say, "Oh, I'm not going to do tha... Thu, 21 Aug 2014 23:42:16 EST The object lesson and other stories Further to my recent blog about my cookbooks: I recently got the Culinary Institute of America's home baking book. There was a recipe for rye rolls with cheddar and onions. Amazingly, the book made it all the way to print without giving the oven temperature! I emailed them and almost immediately got a reply. The woman who answered not only gave me the temperature but a few hints to improve on the printed recipe (!). So now, I'm debating whether to print out the email and use it as a bookmark... Tue, 19 Aug 2014 22:09:55 EST Sunday slump It's Sunday evening, and it's HOT here. Dreading tomorrow morning. The boss is back from vacation, and she'll find something to be ticked off at me for. I've also applied to take all of Labor Day week as a vacation, and past history tells me she'll refuse even though I have the time on the books. She HATES giving us more than two or three days at a time. <BR> <BR> I got the kitchen counters (mostly) clean today, which is good news and bad news. I'm glad to have them back, and it will make co... Sun, 17 Aug 2014 22:29:46 EST Thursday thingamajigs For one brief, glorious nanosecond this afternoon I thought it was Friday. Then I remembered. Ooof. <BR> <BR> I saw a cute item on Facebook last night: Your life is the last movie you saw. What's happening? Well, the last movie I saw was The Hundred Foot Journey. That means that either I'm going to be a great chef or that there's a handsome gentleman from India in my future. Or that I'm Helen Mirren, which would be totally awesome. <BR> <BR> I got two gorgeous new cookbooks this week: My ... Thu, 14 Aug 2014 21:30:41 EST Wednesday night My computer finally got upgraded today. Funny, my co-workers all said the IT guy is an ogre to work with. I had no trouble with him. The upgrade went very smoothly. There's only one thing that bothers me. Instead of an hourglass for a timer, I used to have a little running dinosaur. My dinosaur is gone. Bummer! Oh well, it's still on my home computer. <BR> <BR> I have a very special memory of Robin Williams. I actually found out I was pregnant with my son while watching Mork and Mindy. I sus... Wed, 13 Aug 2014 22:10:38 EST And the beat goes on As if I didn't have enough fun yesterday, I woke up this morning with a huge pimple right on the tip of my nose! I think Somebody upstairs doesn't like me very much right now. <BR> <BR> So I got home and firmly squelched the urge to either make another sandwich or phone out for dinner. I told myself, "there's a TON of food in the kitchen and you're supposed to be the culinary fan. So get out there and freakin' COOK something!" So I made a meat loaf and put it in the oven with a potato to bak... Tue, 12 Aug 2014 22:42:29 EST Monday night rant I've had a maddening, frustrating and generally upsetting day. <BR> <BR> Friday afternoon my computer at work was supposed to be upgraded. The technician never called me. I notified the Big Boss, who told me she'd email him. I waited all day at my desk today for him to call (shades of my love life). I didn't even go to the bathroom, since I just KNEW that he'd call the instant I was out of the room. You guessed it, he never called. I notified the Big Boss again -- we'll see what happens. <BR... Mon, 11 Aug 2014 21:31:16 EST Further to last night... Here's a photo of Friday night's insanely delicious Indian dinner. I'm still drooling. (And no, I am NOT texting at the table. I tried to take a photograph but my camera phone wouldn't cooperate.) <BR> <BR> <img src=""> Sun, 10 Aug 2014 01:43:22 EST A night in India (well, sort of) Out with a friend last night. We had a spectacular dinner at a tiny, hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant we never knew was there. I'm still in rapture over the food -- crunchy spicy samosas (turnovers stuffed with spiced potatoes and peas), eggplant curry and tandoori chicken that arrived smoking hot on a sizzle platter with a bed of onion slivers. The platter and the chicken were so hot the onions actually caramelized and charred! You'd better believe I ate every scrap. Throw in the naan (hot... Sat, 9 Aug 2014 12:19:02 EST Low Spark lately I know I haven't been as active lately, and I should apologize for it. I'm just tired, cranky and discouraged. I'm not really feeling the Spark or much of anything but tired. <BR> <BR> Today a co-worker asked me to help her transfer a payment between two claims. As I got started I told her she should take notes because she'd have to know how to do it. Her reply? "Oh, I know how to do it. I just thought you could do it faster." She's just lucky I was practically finished already. That is tota... Wed, 6 Aug 2014 22:59:32 EST The soup recipe and other stories For the last several months I've had vivid, intense dreams when trying to sleep. <BR> <BR> A few weeks ago I tried a batch of kale-chorizo soup (my own recipe, just cobbled some stuff together). In fact, I still have a container of it in the freezer. <BR> <BR> The connection? Friday night I dreamed about that soup recipe. I actually came up with three variations: spicy, smoky and Italian. They're all based on beans, sausage, broth and vegetables. The differences come from the types of sa... Sun, 3 Aug 2014 12:15:01 EST Getting my dweeb on Apparently I'm a certifiable dweeb. <BR> <BR> I've watched the School Chefs episode of Chopped at least a dozen times and STILL get tears in my eyes. <BR> <BR> I've been a passionate fan of Scottish pipe-and-drum since I was a toddler. <BR> <BR> I'd seriously love to own a Chopped chef coat. <BR> <BR> I think cowboys may have the most beautiful manners in the world. <BR> <BR> I firmly believe Hong Kong martial arts films are the artistic equal of any in the world. <BR> <BR> And wh... Sat, 2 Aug 2014 00:49:18 EST RIP James Garner Big tears in my eyes this morning. Maverick...Rockford...Murphy's Romance (one of the sweetest movies ever). You will be sorely missed. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> Sun, 20 Jul 2014 12:35:10 EST Weather or not A tropical front has parked right over us, so it's hot, sticky and just plain miserable. Waiting for things to cool and dry out -- or at least give us a good thunderstorm! <BR> <BR> <BR> After my last blog post several people asked about white peaches. White peaches (and nectarines) are vastly sweeter than yellow ones. They're heavenly! <BR> <BR> Last week we got a big check from State Medicaid (bigger than usual because there was a delay until the state budget passed). The check was in ex... Tue, 15 Jul 2014 22:09:31 EST Saturday drowse This morning I went out to breakfast with my carpool buddy. She had pancakes and eggs, I had chicken fried steak and eggs. Yes, I know I'm woefully predictable. But I can make bacon, sausage or steak at home. I've never tried to make chicken fried steak. I wish I didn't love it as much as I do. But on the up-side, I only have it four to six times a year. <BR> <BR> After breakfast we went to a produce stand For eleven dollars I got a surprisingly large amount of stuff. Some white peaches, rom... Sat, 12 Jul 2014 20:02:38 EST Wrung out I truly don't know why I take days off. We got in so many payments that nobody logged or posted while I was gone that I've spent all four days this week just trying to catch up. <BR> <BR> Today really frosted the cake. My deskmate can be relentless when she wants something. This morning I had barely set down my purse when she said, "About this one..." Since I couldn't see her monitor or read her mind, I had no idea what she meant. She spent about a quarter of the day at my desk on various i... Fri, 11 Jul 2014 21:51:22 EST Stray vacation Friday thoughts I'm watching the "judge" shows like I always do when I'm home on weekdays. Every time I do, at least one woman sues an ex-boyfriend saying, "I was attracted to his bad-boy persona." She then sues him for bilking her of money and possibly even physically abusing her. Ladies, please pay careful attention: That's what bad boys DO. That's why they're called BAD." <BR> <BR> I JUST CLEANED THE STOVETOP! The burner plates are in the dishwasher and I scrubbed off all the six-week-old spaghetti sauce... Fri, 4 Jul 2014 20:57:50 EST V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N (PLEASE tell me I'm not the only one here old enough to remember that song!) <BR> <BR> I am officially on vacation. Shoes off, enjoying a cold beer and watching Chopped, my absolute favorite show. I don't have to think about the office until Tuesday morning. And I don't intend to. Wed, 2 Jul 2014 22:05:14 EST Monday night Today was month-end, normally the craziest day of the month at work. Surprise -- this month it was the easiest day of all! My boss actually left around 2PM, and I was out on time. That just leaves two days to vacation. YAY! <BR> <BR> Right now I have the shoes off, cold drink in hand and I'm trying to figure out what to have for dinner. It's almost too hot to cook. <BR> <BR> Come on vacation! Mon, 30 Jun 2014 21:54:08 EST Random Sunday stuff Last night I watched a special called Outrageous Wedding Cakes. "Outrageous" doesn't begin to describe it. One cake weighed 820 pounds, served over 10,000 and was covered with Svarovski crystals! Another was a life-size, freestanding replica of the bride's wedding gown. Maybe I'm just an old fart, but I can't think of a bigger waste of money (or Svarovski crystals that would make better earrings). I'm willing to bet that first bride did NOT have ten thousand guests at her wedding -- even movi... Sun, 29 Jun 2014 11:50:52 EST Why do I do this? This week has been a (w)itch. Thursday we got an $83,000 check from one insurer. It was complicated and required careful handling more than usual (the detail ran 59 pages). I worked six hours straight on it -- barely stood up, didn't eat or even use the bathroom. I finished around 4PM. Did I feel proud or accomplished? No, just stupid and vaguely depressed. <BR> <BR> I keep feeling like if I don't do more, give more, never need rest or food (just the perfect little corporate robot), then I'm... Sat, 28 Jun 2014 13:47:26 EST Only three days to vacation Well, workdays, anyway. But I am SO looking forward to it. Work has been nuts and I'm bled out, emotionally and physically. <BR> <BR> Maybe it's because it's coming up on the Fourth of July, but I remember one time when we were on vacation at Disneyland (the only place we ever went -- ex loved it and that ended the discussion). Nearby there was an open-air craft "mall." I loved it! There were about ten stores with everything you'd like. A yarn store, model kit store -- I don't remember exact... Sat, 28 Jun 2014 00:30:20 EST Oh. My. Goodness. Bobby Flay is following me on Twitter! Sat, 21 Jun 2014 22:20:58 EST Saturday muddle Today would be my 39th wedding anniversary. But ex and I separated 23 years ago. Totally NOT what a good Catholic girl expected from marriage. Oh well, enough of that. <BR> <BR> I had pancakes and sausage for breakfast this morning. I get my eggs from a friend who has chickens. I don't know what type of chickens they are, but the yolks are so intensely colored that one turned my pancakes bright yellow! Really cool. <BR> <BR> My carpool buddy Sacha said last night that she wants to make anot... Sat, 21 Jun 2014 13:37:37 EST If it's Tuesday... ...then it's sadly not Friday. <BR> <BR> Actually, today got off to a great start. I'm a regular on both Facebook and Twitter. This morning no other than BOBBY FLAY "favorited" several of my Tweets and even answered one! Apparently he likes what I write. That works, because I like the way he cooks. And looks. And talks... <BR> <BR> (Do I sound too much like a dippy teenager?) <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> But it was enough to keep... Tue, 17 Jun 2014 21:42:44 EST RIP Casey Kasem You'll never know how much of my life you colored, or of how many others. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> Sun, 15 Jun 2014 12:43:22 EST Maybe I shouldn't talk about this My father emotionally abused and physically battered me from toddlerhood until I cut contact with him. At sixty-one I'm still battling the scars. <BR> <BR> I'm so SICK of hearing about Father's Day. I wish to God I could have had a father I could celebrate. Sat, 14 Jun 2014 20:59:26 EST And the hits just keep coming Terrible night last night. I just started to walk out of my kitchen, lost my balance and fell on the floor. I couldn't get up and had to call the fire department. I'm all right physically but I'm a wreck emotionally. I wish someone was here to hug me. Wed, 11 Jun 2014 22:19:52 EST Sweaty Monday The weather here in Sonoma County keeps jumping between summer and winter with absolutely no stop for spring. We're in summer mode right now and it's HOT. <BR> <BR> I just made a batch of tuna salad, with a couple of variations of my own. Of course I use tuna and kosher pickle relish (or minced pickles), but awhile ago I started putting finely diced water chestnuts in it. They don't change the flavor but I love the crunch. I'm also trying this batch with Greek yogurt instead of mayo. Film at... Mon, 9 Jun 2014 22:23:19 EST Long, unfocused food blog <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Thinking a LOT about food today. Following Food Network Star right now. Last week they did a Hollywood premiere and had to present to a crowd. I could just imagine myself presenting my California Cooking POV: "California food has gotten a bad rap. Say the words 'California cuisine' and most people think three string beans and a cube of tofu." I've dreamed of doing Food Network Star but I need to learn a LOT more ... Sun, 8 Jun 2014 22:29:17 EST Slowpoke Saturday Bacon and French toast for breakfast this morning. I don't know if it's just a California brand or if it's national, but Alvarado Street Bakery makes the most amazing multi-whole grain breads. They make fantastic French toast -- much more flavor and body than white bread. And bacon -- what else needs saying?? <BR> <BR> I'm still knitting my purple shawl. Thursday night I went to pull out some yarn from the skein, and half the skein came out in a tangled clump! It took me most of the evening ... Sat, 7 Jun 2014 13:31:58 EST The more things change... ...the more confused I get. <BR> <BR> My office got a pricey new imaging system recently. The upper-ups were in a big hurry to get us all to have it installed, then we had to take a two-hour training session. (You may already hear this coming.) The day after my department finished the training, it was announced we're not going to be using it after all. For me it never made sense to begin with -- The batches I get are all scanned to begin with, so why would I need to scan them again? You gott... Fri, 6 Jun 2014 21:41:06 EST Monday muddle Today was okay at work, but I'm tired out and not in a great place. <BR> <BR> My big toes have been bugging me since I got my new shoes, particularly the left one. Today the base of the left big toe kept cramping, which is a LOT more painful than it sounds. I'm barefoot right now and the toe feels all right. I hope I don't get a replay tomorrow. <BR> <BR> Yesterday I kept getting the thought that I'm a joke as a cook. Awhile ago I tried making Asian noodle soup with pork broth. The pork fl... Mon, 2 Jun 2014 21:29:09 EST An open letter to cooking contestants You are going to compete on (Hell's Kitchen, Chopped, Cutthroat Kitchen, etc.). Congratulations and good luck! Since you know the show well enough to have applied for it, you're familiar with how it works. With that in mine, we humbly offer these few thoughts: <BR> <BR> 1. A wide variety of ingredients will be in play, some of them unusual or even offbeat. Please don't complain when the food isn't (vegan, kosher, gluten-free, etc.) or even just not to your taste. You knew this was not only ... Thu, 29 May 2014 23:04:53 EST Wednesday wobblies One of the down-sides of having a Monday holiday is that I'm always thinking I'm a day behind -- I kept thinking today was Tuesday. But the good thing about that is that I'm always a day closer to the weekend than I think I am. <BR> <BR> I found the knob from my peppermill! It hadn't gone behind the stove. When I went into the kitchen to make dinner last night I saw it under the edge of a cabinet, and I was able to retrieve it. I am SO glad I got it last night, because I wasn't looking forwa... Wed, 28 May 2014 21:20:44 EST Monday evening I am so P****D!!! The little knob from the top of my peppermill went flying behind the stove, and there's no way I can get it out. So I'm going to have to buy some preground until I can get a new mill. $#%&!!! <BR> <BR> However, today I got kale soup, spaghetti sauce and tuna salad made. I'm really proud of the kale soup. It's a recipe I totally improvised, and it came out really well. However, I won't use the bagged precut kale again -- way too much of the woody stems. I'm using premade mea... Mon, 26 May 2014 20:50:33 EST The start of the holiday weekend My carpool buddy and I decided to wait out the holiday weekend traffic by staying near the office and going to dinner and a movie. We had dinner at a brew pub near the office and went to see Godzilla. I totally LOVED it! We saw it in 3D. It was fun, but not really worth as much extra as it cost. One of our coworkers told me she thought the plot was kind of thin. Makes you wonder -- who on earth goes to a monster movie for the PLOT?! You're there to see stuff get stomped on. Anyway, it's a hec... Sat, 24 May 2014 01:23:25 EST My new cookbook Today my new cookbook arrived. It's called How To Cook Everything Vegetarian, by Mark Bittman. In fact, he's written an entire How To Cook Everything series. Well, when he says "everything," he's not kidding. This book is 996 pages long and there are NO photographs, only line-drawing illustrations of techniques. <BR> <BR> I've been wanting for a long time to eat more vegetarian meals. I'm never going to give up meat entirely (and I will NEVER be vegan), but I want to explore more of this HU... Thu, 22 May 2014 22:56:30 EST Sleepy Sunday morning I'm sore and tired today. I've also had a raspy throat and a cough for several days, which makes no sense because I don't feel like I'm coming down sick otherwise. I've never had allergies, but who knows? So many of my co-workers do that maybe they've become contagious. <BR> <BR> I don't know if Safeway messed up my grocery order or I did, but somehow I ended up with TWO two-pound bags of kale instead of one! So today I'm making a pot of kale-chorizo soup with one of them. Very simple to do.... Sun, 18 May 2014 11:01:49 EST Friday night brain fuzz I will never understand how it is that the traffic is so light on Friday mornings and insanely slow on Friday nights. Where are all those other cars hiding on Friday morning? I don't think we hit double digits more than twice all the way home. Between the commute and the workday I was so exhausted that I actually fell asleep right after I finished eating dinner! <BR> <BR> The whole week I've been doing our clerk's job as well as my own (she was on vacation). So this morning my boss, who has ... Sat, 17 May 2014 00:33:39 EST Trying to make a plan Okay, I'm getting sick of my immobility and the constant discomfort. The only place I'm comfortable any more is my easy chair, and I spend a LOT of time in it. Well, I love my chair but I don't really want to have a relationship with it! <BR> <BR> My carpool buddy comes home from vacation this weekend. I think I'm going to talk to her about stopping at Trader Joe's once a week instead of getting grocery and produce delivery. TJ is small and I can use the cart as a walker. That will get me so... Tue, 13 May 2014 00:11:40 EST It takes so little with me. I'm not going to lie, Mother's Day is difficult for me. I'm not with either of my kids. I called Frank but had to speak to ex because Frank can't talk any more. Of course, ex talked about himself the entire time. And I'm missing my little red-haired bundle of attitude like crazy. <BR> <BR> I did, however, have a few good things happen, all online. I had a lot of "conversation" with my adopted sister and her kids on Facebook. And on Twitter, it got really interesting. Chef Jet Tila from L.A.,... Mon, 12 May 2014 00:25:52 EST Friday night light (headed) No, not literally. But it HAS been a crazy few days. <BR> <BR> My boss has been out sick for the last couple of weeks. Today she started peppering us from home with emails and phone calls. Don't get me wrong, I'm sorry she was so sick and glad she's better. But it was a lot quieter for awhile there. <BR> <BR> The workload was crazy heavy this week, and I suspect it will be again next week. That's mostly good news, because it means we're bringing in a lot of payments. However, this week our ... Fri, 9 May 2014 23:23:41 EST Meanwhile, back at the playground... I went back to work after being out sick yesterday, and ended up wishing I'd stayed another day. No, not because the the workload was stupid heavy (I expected that). <BR> <BR> My seriously annoying deskmate (the party-thrower and booze-seller) told us that her teenage daughter (the one the party was for) took and hid her phone and in the process lost her keys. She said the girl wouldn't tell her until she solemnly promised she wouldn't get mad (I don't know about you, but my BP starts rising... Tue, 6 May 2014 21:48:00 EST Ooof... The traffic was so ghastly tonight, my half-hour commute took an hour and a half! I'd planned to make scampi for dinner tonight (I do have shrimp in the freezer), but by the time I got home I was too dead even to think about shelling shrimp. I'm reheating some leftovers (which will be fine). <BR> <BR> As I parked the car and struggled to get out, two men approached me. They were missionaries from a church I respect but disagree with. So we were standing right in the middle of the roadway as ... Fri, 2 May 2014 22:28:04 EST The non-compliment and other stories For years I thought it was a compliment. "You're so (smart, capable, talented) and I'm so (klutzy, inept, dumb). It's taken me to this advanced age to realize that it's not meant as praise. It's a dodge to get me to do whatever the speaker doesn't want to do. One of my coworkers tried it on me yet again today, wanting me to do something I've shown her at least a dozen times. Before I got anywhere near my keyboard I handed her a notepad and my pen so she could FINALLY write down the procedure... Thu, 1 May 2014 22:15:57 EST Hmmm... My DVR quit working yesterday (yes, it was only installed on Saturday). I set a service appointment for tomorrow afternoon, grumbling all the way. So tonight, just for giggles, I turned it off at the wall for about a minute and turned it back on. Voila, now it works fine. I have no idea why that keeps happening. I'd arranged to take two hours off tomorrow afternoon to be here for the appointment. I'm going to cancel it, but the question lingers. -- do I still take the time off? <BR> <BR> My ... Wed, 30 Apr 2014 22:04:48 EST The saga continues And now for today's heart-touching episode of As the Office Turns. The payment poster for another department has been out seven of the last eleven work days (and month end is day after tomorrow) so I've been posting her payments as well as my own. Today my boss was out sick (for the fourth workday in a row) and our lead was also out. And as for my amazing disappearing coworker? Today the Big Boss brought a box to her desk and cleared it (hardly a surprise there). However, when I asked her if ... Mon, 28 Apr 2014 23:45:19 EST