Friday, March 30, 2007

Beckhams Having Trouble Finding L.A. Home

FRIDAY MARCH 30, 2007 12:10 PM EDT
By Pete Norman

Victoria and David Beckham are still looking for a home in California – because the couple refuse to overpay for a house whose price has been raised simply because the famous pair is interested.

"It's pretty hard to keep identities secret when you are interested in multimillion-dollar mansions," a source close to the pair tells PEOPLE. "Once sellers find out who's interested in buying, the prices skyrocket. It's ridiculous." As a result, says the source. "Victoria and David have still not decided on a house for when they move to L.A. ... They refuse to pay above the odds just because they are famous."

Are they serious????? If I remember correctly, I paid $15.00 to see Prince in 1984. When he came to town in 2004, the price had jumped to $120.00 for nosebleed seats. Why? Because he was more famous. So, if I have to pay more because people are famous, then so should they. That's the price of fame and fortune. Deal with it!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Happy Birthday To Me!!!!

I wish peace and a pair of Manolo Blahniks.

Okay, so this is not a picture of me...but I loved the kid in the backgroud. Hopefully, I will have some pictures up soon of my various celebrations this week. Don't you just love it when you get a birthday WEEK???

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Great! You too???

Okay, so I am a week away from my 38th birthday. And I feel like I am still working on who I am going to be when I grow up.

I stayed waaay too late at work tonight.....7:30 to be sort of exact...

Here is the main view from my desk chair....

Wow...I actually left a 7:45...

Am I the last one left in the garage???

So, as anyone like myself would do, I felt that I had extended myself and a reward was required. Don't get me wrong, I ate a healthy (albeit a convenient) meal of brown rice, french lentils and lemon olive oil.... (the garage-banished microwave came in mighty handy) but, I opened a Napa chardonnay and settled down to enjoy the newest episode of "Grey's Anatomy"...

About half way through the show, Jerry Lee (my German Shepherd) got up, walked down the hall headed toward our bedroom. At first, I thought that perhaps he was getting into mischief. I called down the hall for him.... he did not respond. So, I went to the bedroom to see what he was up to.

I flipped on the lights. Jerry squinted his eyes to adjust to the brightness. He lifted his head halfway up and then immediately dropped it down to rest on his paw... I could see and hear him sigh as he closed his eyes. The corners of my mouth lifted as I took in Jerry in all his "cuteness" glory. Then in dawned on me....

"Great! You too???" Even my dog is more mature and responsible than me. He knows when a reasonable bedtime is and has the good sense to call an end to his day. Are you kidding??? I actually have a dog that has....sensibility? I guess so... Because as I write this blog, I can hear him snoring down the hall as I stifle a yawn, punching the keyboard with the knowledge that I have to be at work in 8 hours.

Jerry Lee....smartass!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Signs of a Lazy Evening

Today was a stressful day....Much energy expended, little actually achieved. So, when stress hits and my energy level dips, the signs of a lazy evening appear.

As you can car is running on the distant hope that there is a fume or two left to get my tired ass home. And do I stop to get gas???? Oh no, that would be a slap in the face of a lazy evening.

And, now I am enjoying the single girl's (when Craig is working, I revert to old habits) version of dinner. A BIG glass of Riesling, a triple cream from France and some almonds. Alas, no fruit. Too lazy to go to the store.

The wine starts to kick in and the photo session commences.... My poor dogs. They hate it when mom has a case of ennui.....

And finally, I get to spend the remainder of my evening with a rerun of Bill Maher. Not a bad way to end the day....

The Lunch Club

I am in a lunch club at work.... Well, we can hardly call ourselves a club....more a gathering of three people. The rules are simple, each person has one day a week that they prepare lunch for the group. We try to make healthy meals focusing on fresh ingredients while taking into account, everyone's dietary restrictions. Today was my day to make lunch. I decided to make an Italian salad of roasted chicken and flourless chocolate walnut cookies for dessert.

I started with purchasing an herb roasted chicken from the nearby gourmet grocer. Quite a timesaver.... And, to be honest, I like their roasted chicken better than my own.

After shredding the chicken, I added thinly sliced red onions, fire roasted bell peppers, fresh Italian parsley, capers and slivered almonds. I tossed all the ingredients in a large bowl until everything was evenly disbursed.

I then made the dressing with a good quality red wine vinegar, freshly squeezed lemon juice, honey and an excellent fruity extra virgin olive oil. I finished the dressing with sea salt and freshly grounded pepper.

Since I am now avoiding gluten, I had to find a recipe to satisfy my sweet tooth and still be delicious to everyone else. I found a recipe for flourless chocolate walnut cookies made with cocoa powder, chopped walnuts, egg whites and confectioner's sugar. Simple and easy; it produces big beautiful cookies!

Italian Chicken Salad

10 cups of coarsely shredded roasted chicken
2 cups of roasted red and yellow bell pepper, drained, patted dry and coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups paper thin slices of red onion
3/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup drained capers
salt and pepper
4 ounces of shaved parmesan
Red Wine Vinagrette (recipe below)

Mix all ingredients (except the parmesan and the vinagrette) together until everything is evenly disbursed. An hour before you are ready to serve the salad, toss with the vinagrette and the parmesan. The salad can be served over a bed of your favorite greens.

Red Wine Vinagrette

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp honey
2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1 cup of fruity olive oil

Mix the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper in a blender. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil. Blend until the dressing is emulsified.

Flourless Chocolate Cookies

3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 cups of chopped walnuts
a pinch of salt
4 egg whites
2 tablespoons of good quality vanilla extract.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

With the paddle attachment of the mixer, mix the dry ingredients (cocoa, sugar & walnuts) until well incorporated, about one minute. In another bowl mix together the egg whites and the vanilla. With the mixer running on medium, slowly add the egg and vanilla to the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes.

With a 2-ounce ice cream scoop, place on a non-stick cookie sheet at least 3 inches apart. Place in oven and lower the temperature to 320-325 and bake for 14 minutes or until thin cracks appear on the cookie's surface. Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet to prevent the cookie from breaking. Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Whatever will be will be...

So, the California Lottery was up to $72 million dollars.... Over the last week Tanya and I would expound on how we would spend our new found fortune. It is always fun to dream and to think of life as we never would under normal situations... So, we purchased our tickets and held out a very distant and ridiculous hope that we would be drowning in our well-deserved jackpot.

Sunday morning came and I found myself running around trying to get myself out the door on time to meet a friend for lunch at a local wine bar. I was desperately rummaging through my purse trying to locate the lottery ticket I had purchased on Friday. Before heading out the door, I dug through my purse at least five times and could not find my ticket. I had some horrible image in my head that some "Joe Dirt" character had found my "winning" ticket and was being interviewed on the evening news with my good fortune. I checked out the numbers on the Internet....( I would have paid for lunch and a couple of cases of wine if I was the BIG winner). Unfortunately, I did not win, but I could not help myself on checking out the results of the game.... There was only one winning ticket...purchased in Sacramento, less than 5 miles from my home. OMG! What if I had gone there??? Granted, I didn't even know where this liquor store was located... But, what if???? Immediately, I felt cheated. But then I remember the mantra I have utter a thousand and one times.... "if it is meant to be, then it will be....whatever will be, will be...etc, etc. Maybe I am never meant to experience that kind of life... Maybe there is some other plan for me.... Either way, I could kiss my dream house in Mendocino vacation to Spain, my culinary journey to Europe, my animal rescue, the ultimate dinner party with my dream guests (dead and alive..hell, I am dreaming..they can be those of the departed ....) I could go on and on. That is not to say that I won't have these things in the future, but as to their immediate materialization, I would need to dream another day....

I talked to my father at great length this evening about regrets and sadness and ultimately peace. We both loved a woman that could never really be mother. After I hung up the phone, I considered all that I had lost when my mother died last year. I would have gladly given away all of the 72 million dollars for one coherent and meaningful moment with my mother. One moment where we were completely honest and open.... I can never have that moment. All the money in the world can't give you what you need the most and it is different for everyone. What I wouldn't give for just one more moment in the kitchen with my mom, laughing and rolling out tortillas without a care in the world ...

So, now as I write this blog and look at the clock , I realize that I need to head to bed. Tomorrow is a work day and I remember that I have to ready myself for a big meeting and field the many questions asked of me on a daily basis. With each day I hope that I am here for a purpose (and that lottery winnings have little to do with why I am here) But, the biggest hope I have is...that I one day I actually know my purpose. One day, the clarity comes and all the other bullshit is pushed to the side as I truly see the path, my path.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Mullhawk and the Memory

I felt rather lazy this Saturday. The only thing I wanted to accomplish today was to actually sleep in... Okay, so I crossed the first thing off of my to-do list... Actually, there are plans to spend St. Patty's with my family enjoying corned beef and cabbage. (Unfortunately, Craig had to work and wouldn't be able to join me.) So, I have no where to be until 5:00....

I decided to indulge in some Court TV..... I know, it's a morbid and sickening way to spend a beautiful afternoon, but everyone has got a vice and mine is true crime. So, as I was sitting there watching the FBI close in on a killer, I hear a very loud expletive come from the direction of the backyard. Since I also heard a hedger running, I assumed that someone's husband was having an altercation with his yard work. Besides, the FBI was now interrogating our suspect and he was starting to sweat.... Then, I heard it again... "$@%$%^@%!!!!!!!!!!" I was thinking to myself..."God buddy!! Just deal with the fact that you have to do your yard work and quit ruining my afternoon!!!" So, other than the sound of the hedger, things started to quiet down....just in time for the FBI's suspect to start his trial.

"Mother@#@%^^@!!! God@%#%^$!!! Sh@%!!!" Now, I was pissed. Not only was I having to constantly rewind the show on the TiVo, I was also feeling bad for any neighborhood children exposed to the word vomit... I walked over to the sliding glass door and looked at the yard that directly backed up against mine. I saw the orange of the hedger as it darted in and out of the bushes and when the last high branch of the bush had cleared, I got a good look at my articulate neighbor. I was expecting to see a middle aged man with a beer belly. However, that wasn't the case....He was sporting a mullhawk similar to the one below and he was freakishly tall... The fence stood at least 6 feet high and his shoulders and head were above the top of the fence.

He started to pace back and forth, sweating profusely while continuing his springtime soliloquy. I slowly started to close up the blinds and the shutters..... But something kept running in my mind. Why did his behavior seem so oddly familiar?? Then it dawned on me.....

One of my first jobs out of culinary school was as a pantry chef in a popular restaurant in the touristy historic district of Sacramento. It was my first exposure to life in a real restaurant and it wasn't anything like the professional disciplined environment I had experienced in school. Most of the other cooks in the restaurant looked as though they were recently paroled. Pot and alcohol flowed like water and everyone seemed to enjoy carnal knowledge of each other.

Back then, women weren't as prevalent in the kitchen as they are now. Other than myself, there were two other women that worked on the line...Thelma and Michel. Thelma was a tell-it-like-it-is kind of woman and her face bore the lines of a hard-lived life. She was tough and everyone respected her; some of us out of fear and some of us out of genuine regard. Thelma mostly worked the day shift, so I saw her going as I was coming in. Michel on the other hand, usually worked with me at nights.

It is at this point that I must add that Michel, although attractive, did not spend alot of time tending to her appearance, often showing up for her shift, dishelved and dirty. I on the other hand, still fresh from culinary school, wanted to maintain a professional image. My hair was always neatly pulled back, my make up on, my chef's coat freshly laundered and pressed, fingernails trimmed and cleaned, and my shoes always scrubbed of the previous evening's work..... Just because my job was messy, didn't mean that I couldn't still be attractive...(this was definitely a philosophy of my mother's).

In my youth and naivete, I failed to recognize Michel's obvious problem. Recently, Michel had lost an astonishing amount of weight and her personality appeared to have kicked into permanent PMS. She was surly, quick tempered and known to burst into tears at the drop of a hat. And....she hated me. As the waitstaff started to notice her treatment of me, one of the girls pulled me over for some enlightenment.... Apparently, Michel was a single unwed mother of 25 with a new and nasty crack addiction. In addition, she had recently been involved in an ill-fated romance with the sous chef. The very same sous chef that had been paying me a great deal of attention. It was known around the restaurant, that Michel thought me to be an insipid "pretty girl" without the culinary chops to deserve my position.... After my conversation with the server, I started to keep my eye on Michel out of fascination and fear. I noticed that she would pace...alot. And she would sweat and curse and have violent little outbursts while on the line sauteing orders....

One night, I was downstairs making carrot cakes and working on prep for the next day. Lost in my own thoughts as I sang to the music on the radio, Michel came into the room and stared at me as she stood in the doorway. I looked up (it was the first time in my life that someone looked at me with real hatred) and she said, "You'll never be as good as me. I would have had these cakes done by now and would have already been working on the prep for the weekend." I had to agree....if I was on crack, I would have gotten all that done too! I decided to ignore her hatred and finish up my work. "I'm almost done here. Did you need me to work on anything for your station?" Kill her with kindness..... Her only reply was, " Hurry up and get your ass up on the line." I smiled and said okay. I forgot to add that she was 6 feet tall so she had about 7 inches on me..... There was no way I was going to antagonize her.

I headed upstairs about 15 minutes later. The line was unusually quiet.... Orders were coming in, food was being cooked and plates being taken out to the dining room. Tracy, one of kindest waiters we had, came up to the line and asked on an ETA for his table. The whole order for the table was pasta and that was Michel's station. She ignored his question. Tracy then came over to my station to pick up dessert for one of his other tables and asked his question to Michel again. Before anyone knew what was happening, Michel flew from behind the line directly heading for Tracy. I saw it coming as she swung back her steel tipped boot. All her hatred of me and all the unhappiness pent up inside her landed hard on Tracy's shin. He actually crumpled to the floor as the beautiful berry tart I made him landed on my foot (which would be scrubbed off before my next shift). It took 2 waiters and 2 cooks to wrestle her off poor Tracy as she attempted to pummel him with her boots. Apparently, when on crack, one has the strength of an ox....We all stood there for a moment in stunned silence as the manager took Michel to the office. Then the printer started spewing more orders and we focused on the work at hand. WOW! They never went over this kind of thing in culinary school.

The next day, the kitchen staff informed the executive chef that none of us would come to work if Michel was allowed to stay. The restaurant kindly allowed her to resign and no one ever saw her again. However, it was Michel that I saw in the Mullhawk man. The sweating, pacing and cursing. The manic behavior. It scared me. It was the first time I had thought about Michel in years. I wondered what had become of her. Did she got off drugs? Did she find some happiness? How old would her son be? And then, I thought of the Mullhawk.... Why so much anger toward yard work? Did he think it was wise to operate heavy machinery under the influence of so much rage?

Regardless of the answers to these questions, I decided to stay inside until I left for the St. Patty's party. I didn't want to be on the receiving end of anyone's boot......

Monday, March 12, 2007

I'm not ready....

So, they threw daylights savings time (DST) at us early....the whole day I was completely unware (I forgot). That was until I was in the shower and realized that I was off by a complete hour. We were to meet friends at 7:30 for dinner and I had planned on 45-minute hair....

Still dripping, I ran to my cell phone and dialed the time number.... THANK GOD!!!!! Finally, my television relationship had paid off. I had been running my day based on the time on my TiVo and it had not steered me wrong. An hour later, I had the perfect 45-minute hair and make up too!!

When I woke up the next day (Monday morning...I had this Monday off) it was dark and it was 6:30..... Oh God! I forgot that with this whole early DST, that dark mornings were upon me..... I was groggy, grouchy and in need of another hour of sleep (because really, it's 5:30). I flipped on the morning news and dealt with the lost hour.

Now it is 9:44 in the evening and it is still 68 degrees.... I am not ready for the heat...or the dark mornings...or the long days. Gone is my ability to use "lack of light" as an excuse to get out of chores, commitments, etc. I have always been one of those people that waded into a pool inch by inch until I was accustomed to my surroundings....I never jumped in and now I felt as if I was thrown in... Now, who do they (who are these people anyway???) think they are by making this DST two weeks earlier??? They never asked me. Do they not realize how much I now have to move up on the schedule??? Here is my list....

Pedicure....let's just say, that no one would want to see my "winter" feet

Wardrobe...I am still wearing "loose" clothing to hide the sins of the holidays and now I need to finance new additions to my wardrobe.

Shaving, Waxing, etc....I refuse to comment

Weight....Again, I refuse to comment.

My yard....I need to remove the dead items from the garden and purchase vegetables and fresh herbs. And, the winter rains have weeds growing out of every crack on the patio and the driveway.

Cleaning....suffice it to say, you can get away with quick cleaning easier in the winter months than in the warmer months. The dark hides many secrets.....

Starbucks...don't laugh!!! Do I order something on ice in the morning??? Or, do I still order hot?

The list goes on and on, but I now I have to think about these things and many others, two weeks earlier than planned.... GOD HELP ME!!!!