Monthly Archives: September 2010

Baldwin Brass Ornaments

As already established, I delight in all things Christmas.  There is something about it that I find fulfilling down into my soul.  Because of this, I have started a bit of a tradition this year for H’s family, to carry on what my dad started.

My dad is a window and door wholesaler, so he has lots of exposure to different building companies.  Somehow, he stumbled across Baldwin Brass Ornaments. They are brass Christmas ornaments made by a Brass Doorhandle company.  This year, I decided that for H’s family, we will get them Baldwin ornaments.  They’ll be a relatively easy thing we can get for his family members to make their Christmas gifts seems special and start a tradition.

This year, as it is our first married Christmas, I also got us a Baldwin for our first Christmas together.  It’s a pair of snowmen and it’s called Our First Christmas.  Who doesn’t love snowmen celebrating their first Christmas?  I got them ordered this week so we’ll be sure to beat the ornament order rush.  It makes me all that much more excited for the end of the semester and the respite of the holiday season.

Next month, we’re also going to be ordering ourselves Christmas stockings.  I have looked high and low on the internet and found an Etsy seller who does really great custom stockings, so that will be our Christmas decor addition for this year.

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Creamy Taco Mac

I stole this recipe from Annie’s Eats.  I also stole her picture because it was prettier than our actual food.

Creamy Taco Mac
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Ingredients:
1¼ lbs. ground turkey
8 oz. dry pasta shapes
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
4 tbsp. taco seasoning
3 oz. cream cheese
½ cup sour cream
Salt and pepper
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Directions:
Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Cook pasta according to the package directions.  Drain, reserving ½ cup of pasta water.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet or sauté pan, cook the ground turkey over medium-high heat until no longer pink.  A few minutes before the turkey is cooked through, add the chopped onion to the skillet.  Once the turkey is cooked through, mix in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Mix in the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Stir in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream and reserved pasta water, and continue stirring until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is well blended.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer over medium-low heat 3-5 minutes to reduce the sauce a bit.  Remove from the heat and top with shredded cheddar cheese, if desired.

Now that I’m done copy and pasting, observations:  I used the taco seasoning that I previously posted, and that would have been ridiculous if we’d used four tablespoons of it.  We halved it and still had lots and lots of taco flavoring.  It’s possible our taco seasonings are very different, but be cautious with your taco seasoning.

Overall it was really tasty and easy to make.  We’ll probably start using ground turkey more often than hamburger because we can’t really taste the difference and turkey is healthier.

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Sunday Morning

I love Sunday Morning, both the show and the time.  When I was growing up, I would watch Sunday Morning with my dad while we got ready for church.  Well, I’d get ready for church while he hung out completely ready already.  There’s something so charming about the quiet of Sunday mornings and the generally feel good nature of this show.  Watching Mo Rocca interview someone or Ben Stein’s commentary while putting on my dress shoes and makeup for church is something that’s become part of my growing up memories.

As a result, Charles Osgood and Sunday Morning have a special place in my heart.  I always make sure that I’m up by about 8:30 so I can watch Sunday Morning.

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Giving Feedback

In customer service there are many statistics.  Some say that people will remember a bad service for far longer than a good one and talk about it more.  I found this to be true for my Google reviews.  I gave a bad review to a photographer who bailed on us for our wedding and went to give another one for a UPS store owner being a jerk to me with the resume situation.

I decided that rather than focusing on negative experiences, I should find some of the companies that have provided me with positive experiences and give them positive reviews.  I then reviewed the photographer we ended up using, our florist, our caterer, a print shop, and a local restaurant.  It seems like a small thing to do when I could be potentially drumming up positive service for these great organizations.

I hope this serves as a reminder for other things in my life.  We all have to acknowledge and reward with gold stars the good parts of our lives, and positive experiences, rather than being upset or annoyed by the bad in an overly emphasized way.  This applies to businesses and interpersonal relationships, too.  Give people gold stars when they earn them.  It’s important.

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Resume Mailing

Someone or something hates me.  I don’t know what exactly that someone or something is, but it’s feeling malicious today.

I had to mail a resume for the post graduate life I hope to lead beginning in May.  I went to the UPS store last night at 7:30.  They closed at 7:00.  Okay, fine.  Thursday is my day of afternoon and evening classes, so I planned to do it this morning.  The experience has gone thusly:

I drove from my home out to the UPS store about 3.3 miles away with my resume paper, flash drive, and envelope to put the resume in (not to be confused with the mailing envelope.  This will be important later.)  I took my information in to the UPS store and explained what I wanted done.  The guy refused to take my resume off the flash drive because he got a corrupted file once.  It is only the single most common data storage tool ever.  He then proceeded to snark at me about how if I have him $2500, he’d do it.  I told him I was leaving and wouldn’t be back.  I turned and left.  It will now be my mission in life to tell people not to use his store.

I drove 3 miles (now .3 miles from home) to the copy center near my house.  It was fast, easy, and painless to get my resume printed, but they don’t ship, so he recommended a shipping location.  2.7 miles away (now 3 miles from home up the same street).

I went with my enveloped resume to this shipping center and waited in line behind a lady who is confused about her mail.  Once I got to the window, and explained how I needed it shipped, the lady told me they don’t do any sales, just processing of mail.  Go to the grocery store nearby because they have a full service post office.

I went to the grocery store to customer service.  The woman was out of hard mailer envelopes.  She said I should go to the post office proper.  I nearly cried walking out of the grocery story.

I then went to the post office (now 1.4 miles away from home down the same street), filled out the hard mailer envelope I wanted and gave it to the lady.  She then pointed out I had written the wrong recipient zip code.  I got another envelope and filled everything out.  It was then mailed.  It happened.  It’s done, but my 20 minute errand turned into an hour and 20 minute errand.

I feel like I need to take a nap.  Who knew mailing a resume could be so much work?

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Filed under Ranty Rant Rant

The Great Monotone Wonder

I am inundated with reading this semester.  It has been eating my mind for the past 3.5 weeks.  I have slogged through 255 pages of this terrible textbook until I could take no more.  NO MORE!

The problem with this was that I hadn’t read enough of the chapter to be finished with the content last night.  I then stumbled upon the most wonderful information I have ever stumbled upon.  Adobe Reader will do what it says.  Adobe Reader will read to you!  In Adobe 10, it will read in a male monotone.  In Adobe 9, it’s a slightly lispy lady.

I messed with my sound equalizer to make it sound vaguely human, and then listened away.  Due to this function and my tenacity.  I’ve gotten through chapters 4, 21, 2, 5, and half of 6 since Saturday.  We’ll see if I can deal with listening to chapters 6 and 16 tonight.

Just a note: It can’t say useful.  It says fuful.

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Filed under Grad School

Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

* 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
* 3 tablespoons butter
* 3 tablespoons flour
* 1 tablespoon powdered mustard
* 3 cups milk
* 1 tablespoon minced onion
* 1 bay leaf
* 1/2 teaspoon paprika
* 12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 tsp Sugar
* Fresh black pepper

Topping:

* 3 tablespoons butter
* 1 cup panko bread crumbs

Directions

Macaroni:

Bring salted water to a boil – then down to medium for 6 minutes, then drain.

Bathe in cold water

“Edible Glue”:

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter over medium heat, until finished foaming and bubbling.  Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes over low heat until light brown. Make sure it’s free of lumps.  Stir in the milk, onion, sugar, bay leaf, and paprika. Slowly pour in 3 cups of milk. Whisk the entire time; should end up in a pudding like thickened consistency. Then, bring off the heat.

Add 3/4 of cheese, mix in. Fold in noodles, put into casserole dish. Place in oven for 30 minutes.

Turn on broiler and cook for the final 5 minutes.

Assessment:

We modified the recipe taking out the egg and switching out real onion for minced onion.  The recipe said it would take about 10 minutes to thicken the bechamel.  It took about 40.  I don’t know if we were too low on the temp or what, but it took FOREVER.  H was such a trooper.

Next time we’ll probably lose the panko (there was a lot of it and it wasn’t crunchy or anything very helpful.  In fact we scooped about half off before we ate it), use sharper cheddar cheese, and throw some parm on top to give it a brown crunchiness.

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