Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cooking Post - Kicky Corn Chowder

Howdy! You know what they say about a watched pot never boiling? Well, I thought I might speed up my soup cooking process by posting, and that pot of water on the stove will hurry up and boil if I get out of the kitchen for a minute.

Usually, Sunday is Italian Day at our house. I make a big brunch for us on Saturdays and Sundays, and then a giant pot of sauce that I start right after I've scoured the kitchen from brunch. We have an Italian meal after smelling the sauce cook all day long. Sometimes it's lasagna, sometimes pasta, sometimes pizza, but all those meals involve my homemade tomato sauce that I make in big batches about every three weeks (make lots, freeze batches to use the next week or so.)

But, I had a failed attempt at pizza late last night and now neither of us feels like Italian. (We stayed too late at our local and I don't cook as well when I'm not 100% sober...oops! I do, however, fall asleep on the couch much easier. Thank Goodness Steinvic loves me anyway.)

Tonight we're having grilled portabella sandwiches and soup. I really enjoy cooking soup. Here is my recipe for Kicky Corn Chowder. Yes, I made up the recipe - and the silly-yet-accurate name - myself, and I hope you'll try it and like it.

You'll need:
  • 8 or 9 potatoes, your favorite variety, scrubbed and diced
  • Diced small red onion
  • Diced large red bell pepper
  • Diced celery (I use about three stalks)
  • Sliced carrots (I use two carrots, slicing them thin)
  • Can of whole sweet corn (or you can cut fresh corn from the cob)
  • Ranch Dressing Packet (Hidden Valley or generic works just fine)
  • Emeril Spice
  • Salt
  • Pepper (I always use a pepper grinder. You get better, more intense flavor that way.)
  • Garlic powder
  • Jarred jalapeno pepper slices
  • Olive oil
Here is what you do:

In a big pot, place a bit of olive oil and heat it up on high. Saute onion, pepper, celery and carrots in the pot until the onions are translucent.

Add about 40 ounces of water, smidgen of salt, lots of cracked pepper and you've got a lovely vegetable stock. Turn the heat down to simmer.

In another pot, heat a pot of water with two shakes of salt in it. When it boils, carefully add in your potatoes. I used red and regular potatoes today because that is what I had on hand, and we like to mix things up a little.

While your potatoes are cooking, add a packet of Ranch Dressing Mix to your vegetable stock. Add about a teaspoon of Emeril Spice and a dash of garlic powder. See the nice velvety texture? I used to add milk or sour cream to this recipe, but I don't these days. You can if you want, though.

When your potatoes are fork tender, drain them and carefully add them to your seasoned vegetable stock. If you used a variety of potato types, be sure to spear one of each because cooking times can vary. Don't worry too much, though...your potatoes are going to simmer in the stock while everything meshes, and they'll cook through.

Add one can of drained corn, and jalapeno slices to taste I do about five or so, knowing they'll break down as they simmer and I can add more if it's not spicy enough. Remember, you can always add heat, but it's really tough to take it away!

Let everything simmer for about 20 minutes and then taste and reseason as needed. I let our soup cook on simmer for most of the afternoon, but you should actually be able to eat this in about an hour.

And there you have it...Kicky Corn Chowder, perfect for Halloween or any cool Fall or Winter evening. I serve it with a little sprinkling of cheese and some croutons on top, but crunchy tortilla chips are good with it, too. Make extra and enjoy an easy dinner of soup leftovers later in the week. This recipe freezes and reheats pretty well. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Smoking Out

We went to a party in our neighborhood last night and the focal point of this event was smoked meat. Pork shoulder, chicken, beef ribs, pork ribs, kabobs...these guys watch barbeque and smoking shows all year and converge on one house each fall to drink and smoke meat all day, and then serve up their creations to their families and friends. They even wear matching cute!
What does a pescetarian eat at a smoked meat event? One hamburger bun, some of my famous spicy baked beans and the most awesome coleslaw I've ever had. (I've got to find out who made that and get the recipe...I could probably eat it everyday.) I'm usually more prepared at food-centric events like this, but I figured we'd be more socializing than eating anyway, so what I found to nosh on was just fine.
It was fun, different, and along with our regular pals, we met some super nice folks who live in our neighborhood - a big difference from the nextdoor neighbor situation we've dealt with, for sure!

The smokers mostly looked like this - there were seven of them:
(And you can buy one here, which is where the original photograph appears.)
By the way, this morning, I was in one of my e-mail accounts that gets strange ads all the time and this one - for skin cream - appeared in my inbox. Anyone else thinks it looks like a doctored up photograph of Meredith Baxter Birney?
That's enough for's back to work tomorrow, after our awesome break...

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's Official!

Steinvic and I are married!

We drove to Columbus Wednesday morning, ran a few last minute errands, then met our family at the chapel. My Mom and C, Steinvic's Mom, Young man and Girlfriend all gathered for our short, but meaningful, ceremony. At the end, lots of hugs as our families united. It was awesome.

Then we went to a nature preserve nearby for some photos. It was a gorgeous setting and a beautiful day, but it was also pretty windy. I was a little skeptical about the photos turning out, but we've already received some proofs and they're lovely.

Then, we all converged on a local independent Italian restaurant for a late lunch, which was perfect. My folks had to get back to Cincinnati because C had to work. Steinvic's Mom headed her own way, and the kids went home. And we checked into the Hyatt, who saw our Wedding Wear and instantly upgraded our room, no charge. Really sweet...

We went to our favorite bar there and saw some family and more friends. The drinks were flowing, and we had a great time with everyone. Everyone greeted me with my new last name and that was kind of surreal, but I'm pretty excited about it and I'm quickly getting used to it!

So now we're back home, relaxing and enjoying our time off together. Heading for a movie in a little bit, too...

OH! Gifts. Steinvic bought me an incredible wedding present, which he totally didn't have to do. I wasn't expecting it at all, but I'm the proud owner of an iPod Touch and it ROCKS. He also gave me the car adapter, so I can once again travel in style. I am still getting to know all the features but's like having a computer and a stereo all in the palm of my hand. I think we're both going to enjoy it for a long time. (And I can play Scrabble on it!)

And I bought Steinvic a special piece of jewelry. It's an original design that a silversmith I have used before collaborated with me to create. It's a sterling bracelet with a "compass" design on it, but instead of just the N,S,E,W on the compass rose, we incorporated 71 North and South, a heart and a shamrock. Handmade, multilayered...I love this sentimental gift. The silversmith even personally delivered it to me so I would have it in time for our wedding. And Steinvic loves it, which is the best part. I don't know if he'll wear it every day, but so far, he has.

Okay...I'm outta here. We have a movie to catch and another evening to celebrate!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's Really Happening...

I'm off work today, and tomorrow, Steinvic and I will be married.

Yesterday was a flurry of wonderful things. Work threw a shower for Steinvic and I...he came over for what we thought was just going to be a little lunch with the rest of my team. But instead, they decorated with gorgeous flowers, balloons, confetti, custom cupcakes, pizza, bread sticks and I'd offered to bring a big salad, which I did...(we knew about the pizza part and I really wanted to chip in somehow!) And gifts, which they didn't have to do but they wanted to - Wedgewood champagne flutes, champagne to take with us tomorrow, a gift certificate to an art gallery to have one of our wedding photos framed, and designer chocolates. We seriously felt like royalty... it was so touching. They really went all out and it was the perfect way to kick off our wedding week!

I got my nails done by a friend of ours last night which was relaxing, came home and made a quick dinner, then settled in for a little TV. We turned in early, which I think we both needed.

I managed to get all my work to a point where I could actually take the day off, which is great. I'd requested off and was approved for the extra time, but I had so much going on that I didn't think it was going to happen. I also thought it wouldn't matter if I worked or not, but I'm really glad I was able to take the day, because it's not even 10 a.m. yet and I'm on a cleaning frenzy. So much to do today!

So, enough posting and back to the LIST, which includes some errands and flower decorating and chores and more...but it's all exciting. Here's to tomorrow!

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Sometimes, things happen and as much as we would like a resolution, we never get it.

My Dad, who was estranged to me for years before his death, left this planet without working with me to resolve our issues. When he left our family, he became a much harsher, heartless, selfish version of himself than he'd already been. When I turned 18, I realized I didn't have to put up with it any longer. He didn't really care...he had a new family that was more along the lines of what he'd always wanted (son becoming a lawyer, daughters who had gone to great colleges, big house, wife with fake boobs) and I wasn't missed.

We did talk about a year before he died, and it was a little formal and stilted, but in retrospect, I am glad I'd called him. It was his last birthday. We didn't solve any big issues - we didn't even address them - but I could tell he was at peace with everything and he knew he was going to die. (He had Shy Draggers and you don't recover or live very long if you have that.) So, while that last conversation wasn't really a resolution - he never apologized for the things he'd done - I feel like at least I know he was kind of OK, and that is enough for me. It has to be.

Last night, I told one of our friends about the maid of honor situation. I told her because it was on my mind, as we received a package from her yesterday. It's actually from an artisan she's ordered things from in the past, who sent it here on her behalf. I am sure that she ordered whatever it may be prior to our confrontation a few weeks ago, but it just arrived and made me feel weird all over again.

So, I hadn't seen this friend in a few weeks. She is also getting married and asked how our plans were going and I told her. She was totally shocked and asked why.

Before I answered, I paused and considered everything and guessed, "It's either because she simply doesn't want to or because she is upset that we couldn't go to her 40th surprise birthday party." Because when we were talking, she never did say why...just, "I never said I would go to both (your ceremony and party)" over and over. (Which isn't true.) But the other thing she said twice was, "I didn't get mad at you for not coming to my surprise party, so how can you even ask me about this?" In fact, we had a very real reason we couldn't go: we were moving Steinvic here over that weekend and the next. We also got just one month's notice of the party - not more than six, as she had with our events. We would have loved to go, but sadly didn't have the means or the time off, and Steinvic had to be out of his apartment by the following weekend, and we were also relocating Young Man. Those were the busiest weekends ever...if it had been possible to party with her, we'd have loved to, and we sure could have used a break.

Our friend last evening asked what would happen now...would this other friend and I work it out, did I think she'd come to the party anyway. And the answer to both is no.

I don't think we'll ever speak again, and I have to be OK with that. I have to.

It doesn't mean that I don't forgive her or that I'm angry or that I wish her any harm. In fact, I feel the opposite of that. I hope she finds happiness, accepts herself for who she is, finds the love of her life and gets everything she wants. And stops being so angry. I just don't need to keep putting myself out there and getting the short end of the friendship stick, as often happened in that relationship.

The truth is, this life is super short. We have a responsibility to surround ourselves with the people who bring out the brightness in us. Who want the best for us. Who may not believe in the same things as we do, but who respect who we are and can admire our differences. Who will be honest and unselfish and understanding and tolerant. And loyal.

I wish all those things for her. And for me, too.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Random Things

I love the new show with Tony Danza called "Teach." Not sure what it is...if it is the fact that I was going to be a teacher, the nostalgia of Danza from the 80s, or reality TV done well, but I freaking love it. If you have access to A&E on Fridays, go for it.

(Thank goodness I didn't teach or I would never have met Steinvic.)

We received our organza bags that I'll put white and green candies into for our wedding party. I'll link to it here another time (right now we're waiting for the homemade pizza I crafted to cool enough to eat, so I don't have the link now) but they are just right and the perfect shade of green.

We're ditching the wedding night/day tradition of not seeing each other before hand, and we'll head north together on Wednesday morning. I'm actually really excited about this...he is my best friend in the Universe and I think I'd be nervous without him. Besides, I'm not superstitious about us; we're solid. It will be easier and less stress to get ready at home together and head up together. I can't wait!

I got my hair colored professionally this week. For anyone who knows me, it's a big deal because I don't spend money on me! And this week, I spent a pretty penny to make my hair dark blond with stripeys. This is - ridiculously - close to my natural color...and I paid for it. But it looks awesome and I'm thankful that Steinvic encouraged me to do it.

The spokesperson for Sargento cheese sounds like someone is grabbing his throat while he talks.

I have a huge list of things to do, but I'm not stressed. Work has me a little taxed, but man, I'm thankful for that job.

Interesting dream about my Grandma last night...still sorting that out...

My Mom is filling in for the bridesmaid-who-would-not-be. She is happy to sign for us and I'm happy to say that everyone who is attending loves us 100% and wants to be there. No drama!

I have a candle to tend to - one of the flameless didn't work and its replacement is here - and boutonnieres and ribboned roses to create, but I'm almost set...

Life is good!

This is my random account of Life right now....

Sunday, October 10, 2010


We went to our local for a few this evening and on the way home, Steinvic said, "Might not seem like it, but we accomplished a lot this weekend." And he is right.

We finally got the nerve to take his car to the shop to find out just what needed to be done to it to keep it running. It's nearly 14 years old, and he's been quietly dealing with the shortcomings, not wanting to drain our accounts, but praying that it would get him to Cbus and back safely each week. We took it in, got the list of needs and tackled four small - but neccessary - affordable fixes this weekend.

I also finished 98% of our wedding table centerpieces this weekend. It would have been 100%, but one of the flameless candles was defective, and is being replaced. They are coming along nicely. Picture these with simple, round, mirrored coasters beneath them.

Aaaand there is a big space beneath the photo and this text, and I'm not sure how to fix it, so, sorry about that! But the company, is fabulous and helpful, and didn't even require me to send the bad one back before sending me a new one.

Then, Mom and C stopped by today to drop off a wedding present for us. We had insisted they not give us a gift as they do plenty for us and we weren't expecting anything, but right now, we're watching the Reds against the Phillies on a 40 inch HD flat screen!

OK...Blogger won't let me upload a photo of it! What the heck tonight! But it is a really nice Sony model and I know we'll have it for a long time. An amazing and extravagant gift...more than we'd buy for ourselves. You can see every blade of grass on the ballfield!

Now, I'm off to slice a from-scratch is good, and it has for sure been a weekend of a lot of happenings.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Rest of the Story

There was a lot going on behind the scenes this weekend, but it's turned out just fine, for the most part.

Steinvic's Mom was in the hospital Friday and Saturday. I know...I didn't say anything about it here, but sometimes, if there is something big enough going on, I can't find the words to do the event justice.

But now that everything is that she is home and safe, we're fine. Whatever is wrong, doesn't seem to be serious enough to merit immediate action, so there will be more tests and we just pray she is going to be fine.

There was a loss in our extended family, outstanding man who was a great, positive influence in his family. I didn't really get to know him, but I do know he will live on through the good lessons he delivered lovingly.

So much going on in the wings. But we feel fortunate to have Steinvic's Mom healthy. To have people who love and support us right here, cheering us on. More on that later...

Good Night

We just had a good night. Not our typical Saturday evening, but a really lovely, different evening.

Our friend J, who I have known since I was about the same age as the ID photo on this page, invited us to her side of town. Usually, she drives all the way out here to see us, but tonight, we went to a restaurant by her place, and then to her house to hang out at her neighbor's fire pit.

What a great evening...we'd usually either chill here or go up to our local for a few on a Saturday night, but tonight we did this wonderfully typical for everyone else thing and it was perfect.

Dinner was yummy, the conversation was fun and J's neighbors were accommodating and so very natural and easy to talk with.

Now, we're comfortable in our PJs, after a nice time with our friend (and her furry felines and puppies) and reflecting on just how good life really is.

And I'm proud of J, who has prevailed despite a flurry of ongoing challenges. She's a good Mom, a great homemaker and a helluva baker...but most of all, a loyal friend.

Sigh...we are tired and full and content...a stellar Saturday night. Hope yours was great, too!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Official Blogger

Steinvic and I were taking our walk tonight - we're lucky enough to have a really awesome path right by our house - and he said, "Did you see that anonymous comment on your blog?"

I asked him what it said and he told me.

At first I was like, "Huh? Who would post that?"

And then I thought, "Get out! Someone gave enough of a darn to comment on a post I made!" Over a year into this, I guess I'm officially a blogger.

A post that had nothing to do with this person or anyone they know. A post that was just my little sad release out there in the world. A post about a friendship gone by, that had been fizzling out for a long while. A post that I made, figuring all three people who read my blog would see it.

But no! When someone random anonymously comments on your blog about something that has nothing to do with them, you realize that you've struck a chord. Good or bad, intentional or not, you've hit a tender spot.

You might go back and read what you wrote and say, "This is stupid," and delete it. You might do as I did more than a year ago and purge every post you'd ever made, not because someone made comments there, but because you just figured you wanted a clean slate and didn't care for what you'd posted previously.

And that is the beauty of this place. I write, maybe someone reads, maybe not. If it's a sex toy advertisement in the comment section that appears in Chinese font, I can delete it. If it's offensive - poof! - gone. If it's a compliment, I treasure it. But no matter what, when someone bothers to comment, you've reached that person, whether you meant to or not.

So, thank you, anonymous poster, who doesn't know the nuances or details of my life or relationships, but who took the time to cast judgment when I let my hair down. I've arrived! I'm a blogger.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

All is Well...

Sorry for my whiny friend post. Sometimes, you just have to vent, and this is a fine place to do it - you can simply log off if you don't want to read, right?

Not if you are Steinvic. Let's give him three cheers for being a great listener. A trooper. Diplomatic. The constant voice of reason. My rock. And looking gorgeous while doing so.

But how did the situation get resolved? Me asking questions. Me being calm. Then not calm. Then calm. And finally, after a very low blow, I realized that the person I thought was my friend was simply not.

Sometimes, we make mistakes, either with the things we do or the things we want to believe. I believed something about this friend that was not true. Now I know the truth and I can move on and I have.

If you find yourself with something stuck in your craw and you're normally a reasonable person, trust your gut. In my case, it was something running much deeper than a friend not making it to a very significant event.

On to other things!

I was on the highway Monday - stopped of course, as the highway here often is - and I saw a three ringed binder full of papers on the side of the road. I wondered what it was and as I sat, staring at the back of the car ahead of me, thought about all the different scenarios that could have lead to the binder being there.

Was it an important school report due tomorrow, that a mean older brother chucked from the car window because his little brother kept changing the radio station?

Was it a project binder that someone tossed out the window in celebration, having just quit the suckiest job of her life?

Was it the Secret of Life?

A psychological test complete with a hidden camera nearby to see if someone would stop to pick it up?

These are the things that go through my mind in traffic.

Meanwhile...remember our crappy neighbors? Well, they've been replaced by crappier neighbors! And these freaks thought they understand the Homeowner Association handbook so well that they'd teach Steinvic and I a lesson by instructing us where to park, and threatening to tow us. We've parked in our spots for six years, harmoniously, along with all the other neighbors, no matter how bad they've behaved otherwise.

How I delighted in posting a note on my car today, after I slipped joyfully into my parking space, explaining how I'd talked to the HOA and that each unit really does get two spaces and that no one has the right to tow anyone.

I felt confident doing this because...well, the HOA lady was supposed to tell the unit owner and she was supposed to contact these tenants. I'm not always brave enough to stand my ground, so I did make super duper sure first that I was correct.

But really! Can you imagine moving in one day, then entering someones gated back yard the next and taping a note to the door threatening to tow? I can't! (By the way, I make the occasional spelling mistake/typo, but the last time I checked, no one had the "wright to tow" another person's car. And too and to were not interchangeable.

Okay, that's it! I'm trying to get back to posting, so sorry if these recent posts haven't been too exciting. I'm getting back into it...bear with me. Or bare with me. Or bair with me.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Never Ending Friending

I am such a dork...look at this post title. Yeah, I kind of rolled my eyes at the title of this post right along with you because I hate when people make up verbs like "friending." Also, I'm not on My Space, Facebook or any of that stuff. I have this blog - this quiet, sleepy little anonymous place on the Internet - and that is about it. But I was feeling rhymey, so there you go - dorky title for a post.

What is on my mind is...when you have a friend, do you get offended when that person doesn't reciprocate your friendship?

Let me clarify the question - when I do something nice for a friend, it isn't because I expect something in return. In general, I don't expect a lot of others. It's not that I'm bitter or's more that I'm 39 years old, I've lived a lot of life, I've known lots of people and I read the news. There are bursts of kindness and kinships in the world, but there are also a lot of sucktards out there who make it tough to keep having hope for the goodness of others. I know some AMAZING people and I feel fortunate for that. But there are a lot of selfish bastards out there who cause a girl to keep her guard up.

Still, if you have a long-term friendship with someone, isn't it fair to assume that they will at least appreciate the friendship and gestures, and not take you for granted?

In fact, while I'm not big on ragging people out behind their back, it's safe for me to vent here because she doesn't even read this blog. I once told her about it, offered to send her a link to it and she said, "I am on a computer all day...I don't have time to read one more thing." So, it's more than safe to assume that she'll never read this...and even if she did, it's how I feel, so I'd be okay with it. (By the way, she doesn't have time to read anything, but she IS on Facebook and a bunch of other social networking sites.)

We invited her to stand up for us at our wedding ceremony and understood that it could be tough for her to get here (she lives about 6 hours away), but she insisted it wouldn't be a problem to do it, and even swore she'd be at our reception.

Then, she revised her plans. She thought she could do the ceremony but not the reception because she didn't have enough vacation days.

(However, soon after saying that, she took several days of vacation to go visit a friend who has not been so loyal to her. Granted, it was because her friend's grandmother suddenly died, but where did these mysterious extra days off come from? More importantly, I tried not to be offended or hurt that when my Grandma died last summer - the Grandma that she always wanted to visit when she came to town and who she sent cards and flowers to - not only did she not come to support me, but only texted or e-mailed during that time...not one phone call for a full month when I really, really needed support.)

Steinvic offered to pay for a hotel room for her and also researched an amazingly inexpensive airfare that he offered to split with her (we'd each pay $70) to cut down on the time she'd need to miss work.

Her response? "I am too stressed at work to even think about it right now." Not thank you. Not, "That's generous...let me see what I can do as soon as I get my calendar together." Nothing.

It's been a week since we offered and she hasn't brought it up. I've gotten myself so pissed about it that when she e-mails with her "Hi! How are you!? What's going on this weekend?" I can't even reply. I don't want to say anything but," What the hell is your problem and how could you be so ungrateful?"

I'm no Bridezilla. I don't expect her to drop everything for us, throw me a shower, make an extra trip here to help me hot glue bows to something or party down with me wearing some tiara with a veil tacked to it. But she hasn't even asked what my dress looks like and that kind of hurts my feelings. Am I a sensitive litte baby or what? I hate that this bothers me so much.

But, if I'm honest, I regret our decision to ask her to stand with us because I feel like that is an honor for a forever friend and right now, I don't feel like she's going to be that to me or to us.

From an ettiquite perspective, I know I could politely call her and say that our plans have changed and that while we no longer need her to take the time off work for our ceremony, we sure hope she'll come to the celebration a few weeks later.

But that seems mean to me.

I don't know what to do...I don't have the energy to hash it out with her, but maybe I'll have to do it. Part of me thinks she should know how I feel and the other thinks I just need to suck it up.

For the moment, I'm just simmering on it. And feeling like a fool for counting on her in the first place.