Monday, January 31, 2011

marvelous macadamia mahi-mahi.

(or a close enough approximation)

this is my last official day of this cooking experiment of mine. i have made it a whole week, cooking real meals every night. i have had some triumphs, and i have had some failures. i have found things in my grocery store that i had never heard of before, and i have bought them. i have learned a lot of new things, and have gained momentum and energy for cooking.

i have also become bored with my blog - i dont know how food bloggers do it, but i am getting tired of droning on and on about everything i cook and eat in a day. i might continue to post the occasional post about food, if it is extra exciting or new or outrageous, but for the most part i think this is the end of my short career as a food blogger.

but before i go back to the regularly scheduled programming (and by that i mean sporadic posting about complete and utter randomness) i have to round out the "week" with the final dinner that i made - macadamia crusted mahi-mahi with roasted tomatoes.

i shopped for macadamia nuts at a different grocery store than i have ever shopped in before. i found them in the aisle with the bulk candy, of which i bought none. luckily, there was another woman buying nuts at the same time as me, and i was able to watch her and mimic everything she did - i scooped out the ones i wanted into a little ziploc bag, i weighed them on the machine, and i told it to print out a label that said how much my bag of macadamia nuts cost. i did end up in line behind a painfully slow couple, but i bought myself a york peppermint pattie and did not complain.

the fish (which i am continuing to believe is really mahi-mahi and not just leftover frozen tilapia from earlier in the week) was surprisingly easy to make, and rather delicious. the nuts added a nice texture and flavor to the normally bland fish.

but the star of the evening was without a doubt the pineapple sauce that went on the fish. ooh baby was that some good stuff. i used the pinapple juice from my can of pineapple instead of frozen concentrate, and i left out the low sodium tamari (anyone know what that is?) because it was not on my shopping list, and i also left out the vegetable stock because it was not on the ingredient list for this particular recipe. i did throw in a dash of ginger, even though it was not listed in the recipe either, just in the directions. it turned out great. it had a very tropical taste, especially since by this point in the evening i had completely convinced myself that i was actually eating mahi-mahi.

you might notice the lack of any roasted tomatoes in this picture. that would be because there werent any. turns out i bought the wrong kind of tomatoes for roasting, so we just ate our mahi-mahi with a side of brown rice a la rice cooker. 

but since i had a bunch of tomatoes on my hands, i decided to do something with them - i made my own tomato basil sauce. we will eat it over pasta tomorrow night for dinner. the hubband is going to make dinner while i am jazzercising. i am looking forward to it. 

doesnt that sauce look great? i will not go into detail as to how i made the sauce or what recipe i (mostly) followed, because i know there is a good chance that my italian brother in law reads my blog and he might be scandalized at my methods...

xkcd is following me.

this webcomic cracks me up almost all the time. this particular one seemed extra appropriately funny to  me today.

Learning to Cook

Sunday, January 30, 2011

a restful weekend.

yesterday, i took the day off from cooking. by the end of five straight days of real cooking, my kitchen looked like all the cupboards had exploded, every single flat surface was covered a couple layers thick with dirty dishes, and if there is anything i learned from watching Julie&Julia and also reading the book, it is the importance of keeping a clean kitchen so as to avoid having maggots take up living under your dish drainer. (but just to clarify i am NOT planning on making this a whole year experiment)

so in an effort to minimize the mess of the kitchen and maximize the chance that i would actually clean it all up, i didnt attempt any new recipes. instead, we ate brunch (eggs on toast for Mark and pancakes for me) when we finally woke up around 1130, and then invited some friends from college over for the afternoon. the boys worked out while the girls had some much needed social time. then we all went out to dinner and a movie. a fabulous, much needed time of just hanging out and relaxing and having fun that was way overdue.

and eventually, the kitchen did get cleaned - after i made strawberry smoothies for breakfast, before we microwaved more leftovers for lunch, and just in time for tonight's dinner - crunchy breaded pork chops with mashed sweet potatoes and sauteed spinach!

it was SO much easier to cook when i was starting with a clean kitchen, and also easier to convince myself to clean up after myself when i only had one meal's worth of mess instead of layers and layers of mess. also, i think cooking on the weekends is much more enjoyable, since i have more time and am less rushed. (although i was rushed enough to mis-read the spinach recipe and add 50% more salt than was called for, leaving the spinach all but inedible)

i have one or two more recipes left on my meal plan, which has lasted us more than a week. if i can remember to find some macadamia nuts, then i think i'll make the last dinner recipe tomorrow and maybe finish up a few of the lunches we skipped throughout the week. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

in which i lack nothing of any real import.

i'm finding it harder and harder to come up with fun, interesting things to say about cooking. i dont know how food bloggers do it. but they do, so good for them. and its because of a food blogger that i am doing this, so i guess they do really have a purpose that contributes to the greater good.

anyway, lets get the boring stuff out of the way and get on to the real reason anyone is reading this, the main event: the pictures. breakfast this morning was another morning of cereal, milk, and a fresh fruit (our fruit of choice is apples) except for that i ate my cereal out of a baggie on my way to work, i had a donut when i got to work, and i never got around to eating my apple...but its the thought that counts, right?

and just to keep the deviation streak alive, i went out to lunch at Fuddruckers and gorged myself on a 1/3 lb burger, fries, and washed it down with some rootbeer. my stomach didnt enjoy that little adventure in gluttony quite as much as my mouth did.

the menu for dinner tonight read something like this: elastic meatloaf with barley pilaf and white pearl onions, with oven baked green beans topped with chile-garlic viniagrette. well let me just tell you what all i DIDNT have in my kitchen tonight: an actual recipe for meatloaf (it was more of a guideline than a recipe), barley, chicken stock (in which to make the pilaf), white pearl onions, or a serrano chile.

what i DID have was some meat, breadcrumbs, and an egg, fresh green beans, garlic, salt, and red wine vinegar, and a rice cooker. so we had meatloaf a la a blend of the pseudo-recipe from the website and my mom's recipe as recalled by my dad, served on a bed of brown rice with a side of oven-baked green beans with an approximation of chile-garlic viniagrette. and we liked it just fine.

maybe someday i will find some barley and take the time to cook it. but that time is not now, because i think my time tonight is better spent sitting in front of the fire with my glass of wine and my husband until the fire burns itself out, then watching Despicable Me and laughing until my face hurts. yeah, i like that plan a lot.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

and i still haven't found what i'm lookin for...

...or have i?

this morning, i tried my hand again at banana smoothies again. i only made half as much though, because i was down to my last banana due to tuesday's freezer mishap. i used my peeled, frozen banana, some plain yogurt, a dash of vanilla and a dollop of honey. i measured absolutely nothing. i whispered some nice things to my magic bullet, and viola! i tasted the sweet sensation of smoothie success!

lunch today was supposed to be leftover chicken stew, but since i still had so many leftovers, well, left over from earlier in the week, i ate mondays mac and cheese and corn, and mark finished off the rice, shrimp, and asparagus. i sent the last of the carrots in mark's lunchbox to eat with his hummus, and i tried mine with some wheat thins today. it only took one bite to merely remind me of what hummus tastes like, and i downed it all without a second thought. i think its growing on me. in a good way.

for dinner, i managed to take what i learned yesterday and apply it today. i looked over the remaining recipes on the plan, realized that i needed a quick and simple meal for tonight since thursday is bible study night, and decided that meatloaf with onion and barley pilaf was just not going to happen tonight. partly because we wouldn't have time, and also because i never was able to figure out where Shop Rite keeps their barley (which, by the way, can take up to 2 hours to cook! another reason why it was not happening tonight).

so instead, we made friday's dinner - broiled tilapia sandwiches with olive tapenade, kale chips, and vanilla meringue cookies. quick, simple, and supposedly delicious (although i was still kind of unsure about reliving my green leafy nightmare so soon after last night's 'episode') just what we needed for tonight.

on the way home from work, we found out that bible study would be cancelled since our church parking lot was under a foot of snow, and the building was without power. but i had already decided on a quick, easy, and delicious meal so there was no turning back now.

there were a few deviations that were made tonight. for one thing, i had never figured out what olive tapenade was, so i never bought any, and the idea of putting fish onto a sandwich without anything else seemed a little on the strange side, so we just ate the fish plain. i threw on a little parsley garnish right at the end just to pretty it up, and even though it was not a sandwich, it was still very good.

 for another thing, i was not able to find a 'tub of vanilla meringue cookies' at the store. so i bought a box of 'nilla wafers. i figure they had vanilla in their name, they're light and fluffy like meringue... good enough! but instead of just plunking the box in the middle of the table, i tried to make them a little bit fancy by putting them in a fancy pattern on a plate, but that didnt really work so well so yeah i pretty much just dumped them on the plate. but still - better than the box.

the one thing we did 'by the book' tonight was the kale chips. i had to bake them first, because the fish had to be broiled and the chips had to be baked so they couldnt be done at the same time. (one of the only flaws in tonights menu)  so i washed and dried the kale, cut off the stems and thick center veins, and ripped the leaves into large chunks.

i then tossed them with olive oil and kosher salt and spread them in a single layer on some cookie sheets. they baked until they were crisp, but just under the point of being burnt. (and just in case they didnt turn out, i had a bag of frozen french fries standing by.) but luckily, kale must have taken a lesson from its friend the potato on how to be a vegetable that becomes extremely tasty when cooked in oil and salt. seriously. you guys all need to try this. they have the flavor of potato chips, which is pretty impressive as long as you can get past the fact that they have the texture of old, dry leaves.

so for the first time this week we made, ate, and cleaned up dinner all before 8pm. this is the way weeknight cooking should be.

also, we are debating over this kale chip. my first thought was that it looks like broccoli. mark says it looks like a tree. we could not agree to disagree. what says you, internets?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

in which i lack cast iron.

so my lack of ability to look ahead more than half a day at a time is really coming back to bite me on this whole meal plan for a week thing. the first day was a lot of fun. the second day started to get a little annoying. and today? bordered on just plain painful. a lot of that pain and annoyance could have been easily avoided with just a little bit of pre-planning for the week. but hey, i had a meal plan to do that for me, right? i'm finding out the hard way that there is a difference between having a week of really good meals, and having a really good week of meals, and its going to take more than just a bunch of good recipes strung together to make my life easier.

breakfast was another morning of whole grain cereal, skim milk, and a piece of fresh fruit (which i ate in place of my morning snack again). no problem. i even put my peeled banana into the freezer in preparation for tomorrows second attempt at banana smoothies.

for lunch today, since i only had to pack my own because Mark got free lunch at work yesterday and would be eating yesterdays lunch today, i decided not to make the leftover shrimp and rice into fried rice as was suggested by the plan. i just had leftover shrimp and rice and asparagus. and it was still good. but you might like to note that reheated asparagus is not nearly as delicious as freshly cooked asparagus.

i never got around to eating my afternoon snack today, because the markups i was working on today were not very conducive to slimy vegetable finger foods and dip.

and dinner tonight? i hardly even want to mention it. i'd kind of like to glaze over the whole process, slap a picture on this bad boy and call it a night. but since you are all getting such a kick out of my own culinary masochism, i will at least hit the highlights.

as i read my evening prep section, i was told to start the stew immediately upon arriving home from work. well, i did not do this. because isntead i took some time to take some pictures of what my world looked like outside. it was something like this:

let's try that one again...

getting closer...

there it is!

now on a day like that doesnt coming home to a nice hot bowl of chicken stew just sound delightful? yeah it would have been nice if i would have read my evening prep section before this evening and learned that i could have made this into a crock pot meal which would have been waiting for me when i got home from my harrowing commute in the snow and ice with the idiot maryland drivers. *facepalm*

but i kept going, right up until the first line when i read that i was to make my stew in a cast iron dutch oven. hmm. that might have been nice to know, considering none of my cookware is cast iron. perhaps it should have been on the shopping list for the week.

so i decided to skim the next recipe just to know what exactly i was getting myself into tonight, and i come to find that i'm supposed to make my cornbread in a cast iron skillet. again, NONE of my cookware is cast iron. so i called my sister to figure out reasonable substitutes for my lack of the appropriate pots and pans, and i pressed on. cuz hey. i'm just that dedicated. or maybe just that hungry.

and then i got to the recipe for the braised collard greens, and i read that they would take 2 HOURS to make (which was not mentioned at all in my evening prep section) and did i mention that the stew would take an hour of its own since i was not making it in my crockpot? (or a dutch oven either) things just kept getting better.

i managed to convince the husband to help me out and make the cornbread while i fought with the stew and the collard greens, and its a good thing or i think i might STILL be trying to get dinner on the table. but we eventually did get there.

the stew, which ended up being made with chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken, frozen veggies instead of fresh, and a mix of spices that i cant even begin to remember (because i just made it up... the recipe said to just go crazy!) was delicious. maybe a little salty, but very much worth the wait.

the cornbread was also pretty amazing. it was moist, and dense, and not burnt, and filling, and very tasty. a definite win.

i wish i could speak as highly about the collard greens. actually, i wish i could say anything positive about them. now i have never 'braised' anything before, but if what we ended up with tonight was the result of the braising, i will never EVER braise anything ever again. to say put it nicely, they were rather zesty with an aftertaste that kind of tingled the back of your throat. which really means they were some pretty potent stuff or whatnot of questionable texture that made your mouth burn and your eyes water. Mark was a better man than I and actually finished his, while my first bite made me almost fall over my chair in my haste to get to the garbage can to spit it out.

but all in all, i would have to count this as another successful meal that did not come out of a box, allowed us to eat until we were full, and left us with a little bit of hope that while we may lack many things, we will make it through this week, maybe learn a little something, and be better for it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

of banana peels and garlic.

this morning started off with a brand new recipe first thing in the morning, bright and early. or maybe the sun hadnt come up yet, so it was just early. anywho, breakfast this morning was banana smoothies. or at least it was supposed to be. the trouble started when i went to get the bananas out of the freezer, where i had put them yesterday morning according to my 'morning prep' instructions. note to self: next time, peel the bananas BEFORE putting them in the freezer. so after one feeble attempt to peel my hard-as-concrete bananas with a big knife, i put them into the fridge to thaw and moved on with the recipe using option B - fresh bananas and some ice cubes. (i just love it when recipes anticipate my mistakes ahead of time)

i dont claim to be any sort of smoothie expert, and its been a while since i've actually made a smoothie, but it seemed to me that what i ended up with this morning resembled nothing smoothie-like -- more like very thick banana yogurt garnished with large chunks of ice. (magic bullet, you are beginning to disappoint) but it was pretty tasty as far as very thick banana yogurt goes. i'm hoping for a slightly better outcome when i try it again on Thursday morning.

i think i'm going to have to pick up some almonds and raisins for a morning snack - i had to raid my lunchbox around 10 for an apple to make it until lunchtime, and even at that i started watching the clock like a hawk around 1130. what i was really craving was pretzels, but i unfortunately had none.

lunch today was my first major deviation from the plan. what i was SUPPOSED to do was to make some extra pasta last night and whip up a pasta dish with mixed vegetables and balsamic viniagrette for lunch today, but that seemed like a lot of work just for a lunch, especially when we had SO much good mac and cheese and lime-butter corn left over from last night. so lunch today was leftovers, and we're moving the balsamic viniagrette pasta dish to one of the open lunches on the weekend.

i had a small internal battle over whether or not i REALLY wanted to eat my afternoon snack of baby carrots and hummus. but then, since i sent the same snack with my husband this morning and decided i would feel bad if i came home with a container full of hummus and he came home with his empty again, i ate the hummus. still not my fave. but made more edible by the presence of baby carrots.

dinner tonight might have been a little ambitious for a tuesday night, since Mark was playing basketball until 7 and i was jazzercising from 630 to 730, but we pressed on nonetheless. i was supposed to make shrimp scampi on a bed of oven-baked rice with a side of roasted garlic asparagus and sauteed pears for dessert.

i started the rice first, opting to use my rice cooker instead of baking it in the oven, since i did not have an hour to sit and watch rice cook in my oven, and i was much more comfortable with the idea of leaving the rice cooker on when i wasnt home instead of the oven. i also prepped the asparagus so i could just put it in the oven when i got home.

the shrimp turned out beautifully. i was thoroughly impressed with myself, especially since i had never even dreamed of making anything shrimp related before this week. and even Mark, the great non-vegetable eater, liked the asparagus. he even had seconds. maybe thirds. i guess its true that he'll eat pretty much anything as long as its smothered in garlic.

and the pears for dessert were... edible. not great, not awful, just edible. i made about twice as much as i should have though, and a lot went to waste because we were kind of full, and they just weren't good enough to be worth over-stuffing ourselves with.

i have no idea what i'm supposed to be doing tomorrow. i'm exhausted. this whole cooking real food all the time thing is pretty tiring. no wonder ive never done it before...

Monday, January 24, 2011

the culinary adventures of a domestic goddess.

i am blogging this for the sole purpose of hopefully sticking it out. i do not expect it to be enlightening for anyone else as far as learning how to cook anything, but it might be kind of entertaining if only to laugh at my attempt to overcome my inability to manage to cook real food more than once or twice a week. mostly, i just hope to make it through the week.

my sister sent me a link to a site that is offering a weekly meal plan. i whined to her once about how basically, i have decided that no matter how good my intentions are, the reality of coming up with my own weekly meal plan and finding said recipes and then making sure that i have everything on hand that i will need to make said meals in a semi-timely fashion always eludes me and we end up eating pasta or pizza or anything else that requires no thought and even less prep time. and she came through for me. big time.

the meal plan not only maps out exactly what i need to make for three healthy meals a day, includes links to the recipes so i can find them easily, and has nice little prep-tips to help me with the actual cooking process, it comes complete with a GROCERY LIST! based on my history with my grocery store, this is fantastic. i mean sure, i spent the better part of an hour on saturday morning wandering around ShopRite searching for one can of green chiles and trying to figure out exactly where i might find myself some gouda cheese, but i also walked out of there with a cart full of groceries and a little bit of confidence that what i had in that cart might actually turn into legit meals.

i just hope that i dont need a serrano chile or the pearl barley or some gouda cheese anytime soon, cuz i just could not find any of them...

this morning, i had some whole grain cereal out of a baggie as i drove to work and drank my skim milk out of my new coffee mug cuz i ran out of time to actually make coffee. the apple that i grabbed as my 'fresh fruit with breakfast' turned into my 'morning snack' because i misinterpreted my grocery list and did not buy any snacky kind of nuts that were supposed to be my 'morning snack.' lunch was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread, a piece of fresh fruit, and a cup of water. (i felt bad not putting anything more than that in my husbands lunch box this morning so i threw in some pretzel rods too) my afternoon snack (which i ate at lunchtime) was the first real adventure so far - baby carrots dipped in hummus. after the first bite or two, not nearly as awful as i had always imagined hummus to be. good thing too, cuz its slated to be the afternoon snack all week!

dinner tonight is mac and cheese of some sort or another. i think i will use some of the fresh broccoli i bought, but i dont know for sure, cause my printer only printed the second page of the recipe.

all in all, not too tough for the first day.


anyone wanna guess when the gouda cheese was for? so since i didnt have any, i substituted some colby/jack that i picked up on my way home. i also got to use my magic bullet that i got for christmas: quite possibly the best christmas-present-that-i-thought-i-would-never-like-or-even-use. that thing is awesome!

long story short, i accidentally over-broiled (read: burnt) the top of the mac and cheese, at one point the lime-butter sauce on the corn looked a bit vomit-ish, my kitchen looked like a giant broccoli floret exploded all over it, and i probably called my mom at one point to clarify what was meant by the term "saute" but all in all i think dinner turned out pretty well:

on the menu for tomorrow: banana yogurt smoothie, shrimp scampi on brown rice, garlic roasted asparagus, and sauteed pears!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

rutabagas revisited.

so remember that one time i bought a rutabaga? well, a couple of weeks ago, i found this recipe for mashed rutabaga, and i thought i'd try it. it seemed simple enough, and i just happened to have a rutabaga on hand, so why not?

i mashed it, and we ate it. i took some pictures of the process, just to make the re-telling more interesting.

You Will Need:
a rutabaga. i think the recipe called for a large one, but think it all depends on just how dedicated you are to the idea of rutabaga. for experimental purposes, my small rutabaga was more that sufficient.
salt and pepper.
2 Tbsp.ish butter
1/2 oz. half and half. i used milk. and i did not measure it.
freshly grated nutmeg. or whatever came in that great spice rack you got as a wedding present.

Step 1: peel the rutabaga and cut into chunks. sneaky little buggers left this step out of the instructions, just sneaking it into the ingredient list. this step should more accurately read:
Step 1A - attack rutabaga with every sharp object you have in your kitchen. when one fails to cut through the waxy skin, move onto the next one. alternate sharp objects so the rutabaga does not become immune to their advances. *note* - ALWAYS peel AWAY from yourself, your extremeties, and your cat. sharp objects WILL slip on the rutabaga peel and be propelled at alarming speeds toward whatever is in its path.

Step 1B - find your biggest knife. use all your force to plunge it into the rutabaga. struggle for as long as you physically can. take a break and regroup.

 struggle, rest, repeat until the rutabaga is sliced and diced into submission. the first cut is the deepest. and by deepest i mean most difficult.

Step 2: place chunks into steamer basket, over pot of simmering water. sprinkle with salt. leave for at least 25 minutes or until soft, because although everyone on the internets say that a rutabaga is exactly like a potato, they take WAY longer to cook.

Step 3: mash the rutabaga with butter and milk. i used my potato masher. they did not get creamy like potatoes (perhaps if i would have added some more milk) but they were fairly cohesive.
Step 3A - check out that awesome color!

Step 4: sprinkle with nutmeg to taste... enjoy!

if you are wondering what rutabagas taste like, Mark says they are kind of like a mixture between corn and carrots, which in his opinion was not his new favorite, but i thought they were pretty delicious!

try it  for yourself - pick up a rutabaga today in your local produce section.

bon apetit!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

thank you, come again!

or: Who Knew?!
or: Third Time is NOT the Charm.
or: My Mostly Malicious Musings Minding the Maryland MVA.

as most of you who actually read my blog (all three of you) probably already know, my then-fiance and i bought a house. in Maryland. we closed on said house in July (said Mando) and i moved in in September. we got married in October and by November i had officially changed my last name and was really looking forward to finally having everything in my life be able to be tied down to a single home address. based on the MVA website, i gathered all the paperwork that i would need to get a MD drivers license - i could prove my identity, my marriage, my home address, and my citizenship in at least three different ways - and we woke up early one Saturday and headed to the MVA for the first time.

while we were there, we were in fact able to get me a new drivers license, complete with a blue crab and a picture that makes me look younger than most of the 16-yr olds who were there passing their drivers tests that morning. while we were there, i figured i would just ask what i would need in order to get my registration on my car transferred from PA to MD and get new plates. silly naieve me, i thought it would be a simple process... if i only knew.

the girl who gave me my license told me that she didnt really know what was involved, but that there was a form i needed to fill out, i would have to get my car inspected in MD and have my title with me, and that i would need to come back on a weekday during normal business hours when that half of the office was open.

so i went home and checked online to see what all i really needed and found out the same thing the nice girl had told me. as i filled out the form, i found out that i had a lien on my car (who knew ?!) and that i would need the MVA to send a request to the lienholder for them to send my title. so on a day that i was already taking a half day off work to go get my tire fixed (apparantly i ran over a nail... whoops!)  i took my newly inspected car (which i had just bought brand new a year earlier making this her THIRD inspection withing a YEAR), BACK to the MVA for the Second Time.

i was feeling pretty good about myself. i mean yeah, i didnt exactly have my title, but that wasnt my fault - i just had to ask the MVA to ask my lienholder to get it for me. but i had my form filled out, and my inspection certification, so you can imagine my surprise when i was informed that what i needed to do was to take the letter from the MVA, fax it to my lienholder, and then wait. and wait. and wait. until the MVA sent me a letter that says that they now have my title. and THEN they would be able to process my request. oh and bee tee dubs, that PA insurance that you have thats good through the end of the year? yeah thats no good here. you need to have MARYLAND insurance. blech. where was THAT on the website?


so i did what they told me to do. i called my insurance company. i called my hubband's insurance company. i got Maryland insurance. i faxed the letter to my lienholder. i waited. i got a letter from my lienholder saying that they had recieved my request and had sent my title to the MVA. and i waited. and waited. i forgot what i was waiting for. and almost died from waiting. and then i got a letter from the MVA saying that they had my title and i could come in WHENEVER I WANTED to apply for my new title/registration/tags. i WANTED to have this done MONTHS ago thankyouverymuch. sigh.

so i filled out the form AGAIN and i even remembered this time that i would need to have my Dad's signature on it as well, (since i snookered him into co-signing for my car loan) so since i was planning on going to the MVA first thing Monday morning i scanned the form into my computer on sunday night (yay for procrastination!) and emailed it to my dad so he could print it out, sign it, scan it into his computer, email it back to me so i could print it out and take it to the MVA first thing in the morning.

who knew that Monday was Martin Luther King Jr day?!

so i decided that i would go to the MVA for THE THIRD TIME first thing Tuesday morning. i had it all - the form, the signatures, the proof of who i am, the inspection report, the Maryland insurance, some other random forms and information, and my checkbook cause you just know that all this hassle is gonna cost a pretty penny too. yay for the government!

i was ready to head out the door at 7:30 to make it to the MVA at 8am sharp. i even had the forsight to start my car early to warm it up because the world outside was one big sheet of ice. yay for freezing rain! on a whim, i decided to just check the website one last time to make sure i had everything this time so that i would definately walk out of there with new plates, and the website told me that THEY DIDNT OPEN UNTIL 8:30! srsly?! yay for an extra half an hour wasted!


i drove through the ice and the rain. i got to the MVA at 8:27. i waited in line. my number was C2. i waited on the big metal bench through I1, A1, G1, G2, C1, B1, and probably a couple other COMPLETELY RANDOM combinations of letters and numbers until they were "now serving C.2. at station. 12." i handed the lady my form. i was feeling pretty good.

and then this happened:

Lady: is this a copy?
Me: its a scan.
Lady: i dont think we can accept this.
Me: seriously?
Lady: (asks lady in the next station) can we take a copy of a form?
Lady 2: no, they need to have original signatures.
Me: seriously?
Lady: (hands form back to me) i'm sorry you'll need to get original signatures on this.
Me: *headdesk*

i almost punched her. i cried. i am so sick of all of this. and i dont even want to think about what could possibly go wrong when i go back for a fourth time.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


when i was growing up, i was what you might call a fairweather-football-fan (but only if you like a good alliteration) i watched whatever game was on with the same lack of caring-at-all-about-the-outcome. i looked forward to the superbowl because it always meant a good party and another excuse to hang out with my friends. i cheered for whatever team was winning, or whatever team was losing, or whatever team had the better uniforms, depending on how i was feeling on any particular day. i went through phases where i liked the Packers, then it was the Raiders, at one point i tried to  like the dolphins, (cause i had a crush on a boy who was obsessed with Dan Marino) and i never really cared for the 49ers. but there was one exception to my wishy-washiness.

Steelers football.

i grew up in western pa, the heart of steelers country, where everyone bleeds black and gold. there was no other option on game day. the steelers were my team, whether i really acknowledged it at the time. but whoever they were playing against, i was cheering against. if they werent playing, then i didnt really care for football in the least.

now i live outside of baltimore, deep in the depths of (gag) ravens territory. and i'm married to a ravens fan. in fact, i married into an entire family of ravens fans, of the loud, obnoxious, steeler-despising variety. this makes for some good conversation, and more deeply cements my loyalty to the black and gold. the husband still thinks that in time they will convert me. they are sadly mistaken.

earlier this year, we got married on a steelers-ravens sunday. we went to the second matchup of the season in m&t bank stadium. this weekends game will be the first that the husband and i will watch our teams face off from the comfort of a couch (hopefully with a fuzzy blanket and some good snacks, too) it could be an interesting afternoon. i tend to be a fairly gracious fan, but if they get nasty with me then they had better be prepared for me to get nasty right back. i hope this wont have any negative repercusions on my marriage. or my relations with my in-laws.

all i know is that i'm going to prepare for this weekend by donning my jersey, warming up my terrible-towel waving arm, blaring HERE WE GO through my house, and digging way back into my childhood to rouse up all my deep-seeded team spirit until it begins to ooze out of me - and while i'm there i think i'll also pick up a tried and true excuse that is guaranteed to get me off the hook if things get ugly - "they started it!"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

livin' a dream.

on especially mundane days when i am totally bored with everything around me, sometimes i catch myself slipping into my fantasy life, where instead of being a low-level, bottom of the totem pole, go-fer highway design engineer from the suburbs who hasnt bought herself a new article of professional wear since she got her job over a year ago and spends her workdays doing mindless tasks and simultaneously hoping that her superiors will bring in more work or just find something for her to do once she finishes the busywork they have her doing at the moment, but also happy for the excuse to surf the internets for a few more minutes a day in order to stretch the amount of time each little tasks takes, i escape to an alternate reality and become a fashionable, successful young professional, living in a tiny apartment in the city whose windows leak (but Hey! it has character!) and working in a big office building doing something very exciting and important that also lends itself to creativity and personality and the option to work from home a few days a week (or just work a few less days a week!) and i am charming and witty and outgoing and fun to be around and i keep up with politics and have credible opinions about things that are more important than nail polish, shoes, and how annoying my latest haircut experience was, because i am a well-educated woman who is able to retain mass amounts of information and recall it at the drop of a hat and i am poised and prepared to make a difference in the world around me!*

...and then my boss comes over, drops a huge stack of plans on my desk, and asks me to make him a copy of them, snapping me back into my reality.

its around this point that i usually stop and make myself reflect a little deeper on my real life - the one where i am a well-educated, well-adjusted product of public schools and higher education with a good degree and a good job. i am married to the man of my dreams who loves me enough to kiss me when my breath stinks and rub my feet whenever i sit down next to him and drape my feet into his lap. we live in a wonderful house that we OWN and it is beginning to feel like home. i am learning new things every day, even if they seem trivial and mundane in the moment, they build on each other and make me an interesting blend of ideas and experiences and allow me to relate to other people in a real way. i am surrounded by an ever-growing support system of friends and family and colleagues around whom i am beginning to realize that i can really be myself - my crazy, irrational, quirky self who is sometimes loud, loves all things adorable and geeky, and gets easily distracted by bright colors and shiny things (not that that happened at bible study last week or anything like that)

i have a great life. maybe its not exactly the way i always dreamed my life would be at this point. but i wouldnt change it for anything. i am growing. i am learning. i am adapting. i am enjoying it. and it works for me.

*and all across the state my english teachers collectively cringe over THAT fantastically awesome run-on sentence!

Monday, January 10, 2011


i'm going to be straight-up honest at the beginning of this post and just tell you that this is not one of those "oh poor me i'm having an awful day and here are ten reasons why its awful and yes i know they're all very minor, petty things but they HURT MY FEELINGS and you should feel sorry for me cuz i'm having a horrible day" kind of posts.

on the contrary, i'm having a great day! (glances over shoulder to check for major malfunction coming my way)
i slept in 15 extra minutes which for once was not the beginning of a tragedy since i still managed to shower, get ready, look AMAZING (wearing my fantastically comfy black dress pants, black heels, new uber-soft Christmas sweater, and the new earrings i bought myself for Christmas...sorry i dont have a pic), and pack lunches with about 3 minutes to spare, which i chose to use by crawling back into bed to snuggle a little longer and say goodbye to my amazing husband before he had to wake up to start his day and i headed out the door.

at work, i ate a donut for breakfast that was brought in by the winner of our office fantasy football league (surprise! not me!), and managed to register myself and another girl for a Women in Transportation Seminar event for this wednesday evening (the girl who ususally takes care of the registration isnt going this time because she has a meeting elsewhere that same evening) i filled out the check request form, got it signed by my boss, and gave it to the secretary (who complimented my earrings!) who then gave me the monies so that we can go on a tour of some antique automobiles and participate in the annual business meeting. i felt so official and semi-in-charge and it felt good.

now i'm just hoping that the afternoon will be just as fantastic as the morning...

This afternoon has been decidedly less-productive and much much slower-moving than this morning.
but still, not bad.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

laugh, rutabaga.

i went to the grocery store. i was feeling adventurous. i lingered in the produce section.

i bought a rutebega.

the girl at the check out looked at me like i was crazy. "ruta-wha?" were her exact words i believe. she told me it was pretty much a turnip. i insisted that it was a rutebaga.

i have no earthly idea what to do with said rutabega. all i know is i have this song in my head that i just cant quite shake...

rutabaga sits in the old gum tree, merry merry king of the bush is he...

i know that the real words to this song are about a kukabura. i did make it successfully through elementary school, after all. but this knowledge will not/did not stop me from spending a few days singing about a rutabaga :)