Thursday, January 29, 2009

Another Rachel Recipe

I do love me some Thai food. Probably my favorite dish when I go to a Thai restaurant is Thai Basil Chicken....extra hot.

So, I was pleasantly surprised when I came across this recipe from Rachel Ray a year or so ago. I'm sure its not entirely authentic, but the flavor in it competes very well with the restaurant versions I love.

I did tweak the recipe a little bit, since fish sauce, well....doesn't like me. SO I leave that out. I also only use roughly chopped onion instead of doing it two ways, and I serve it over sticky rice, since I own a rice cooker (gotta use it). I also usually make this in the summer time when my garden is full of various varieties of fresh basil, including Thai Basil, but in a pinch, grocery store basil will do, as it did for me when I whipped this up this morning.
Basil, Chili and Garlic Chicken
From Every Day with Rachael Ray
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1/2 pound thin Asian rice noodles or vermicelli pasta
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion, plus 1 cup finely chopped onion
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup torn fresh basil leaves

1. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup water with the fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and crushed red pepper. Stir to dissolve the sugar; set aside.2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the rice noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside.3. While the noodles are cooking, heat a wok or large, deep skillet over medium-high heat until hot, about 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons oil, then the sliced and chopped onion, and garlic. Stir-fry until fragrant and softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside.4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and heat for about 1 minute. Working in 2 batches if necessary, spread the chicken in a single layer in the pan without crowding and cook, undisturbed, until the edges change color, about 1 minute. Turn and continue cooking, tossing now and then, until lightly browned all over, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the reserved sauce and onion mixture and cook, tossing occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and evenly coated, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Remove the pan from the heat and add the basil, tossing until slightly wilted. Serve the chicken over the noodles.
Guess what I'm having for lunch TODAY!

Small Town Car Dealer vs the Customer (aka Enter the OEM)

On May 25th, 2008, I purchased a 2007 Saturn Ion from a GM dealer in the town where I work.
Before I made the second payment on it, the car left me stranded with a bad ignition switch. After several attempts, and telling me they couldn't find anything wrong, and 2 P.O.S. loaner vehicles, it was finally fixed.
About six weeks ago, I went to the gas station on my lunch break, pumped gas, went inside and paid, then went to leave and the key would not turn in the ignition. At all. Fortunately, the gas station is directly across the street from the dealership, so I called, not very happy, and they walked over and pushed the car into their service bay. I was later told that it was some related component of the ignition switch.
This morning, I went outside to warm the car up, and, you guessed it, the key would not turn in the F-ING ignition. After a lot of cursing, sweating, and struggling in the snow, I managed to dig my husband's truck out of the snow bank its been sitting it and drove to work.
At this point, the only reason I even came in is so that I could personally walk into the dealership today and show them the Italian side of me. I don't get that side out very often, but when I do, IT. IS. NOT. PRETTY.
So, sitting here at my desk, seething, someone gave me a suggestion that hadn't occurred to me; call the OEM (for those of you outside the automotive or trucking industry, that means Original Equipment Manufacturer, in this case, Saturn).
Good idea. I didn't know if they would help or not, since I bought the car from a non-Saturn dealer, but it was worth a shot.
Rebecca is by far, the sweetest sounding and most patient customer support rep I have ever spoken to, and yes, working in Customer service myself, I made sure to let her know how much I appreciated that.
In spite of the fact that I don't know my own VIN number and the car isn't accessible at this moment, Rebecca opened a case for me, patiently looked up my information.....and took over.
This is not my first Saturn, and after this, it will not be my last.
Rebecca politely asked if she could put me on hold while she contact the dealer in question, told me it should take about 2-4 minutes, and thanked me for my patience. Less than three minutes later, she was back, having imparted the necessary information to the head of the service department, and informed me that he would like to use his own towing company to retrieve my vehicle from my home, and asked that I call him so he could get my permission to do so.
He is on his way to my office right now to get my keys so that he can tow my car the 20 miles from my home to the dealership.
Rebecca also said she planned to monitor the case closely, asked if she could call me back between the hours of noon and 2 today, which she believed would give the dealer adequate time to retrieve said vehicle, and start heading in the direction of a solution. She also said she s going to look into finding a way to help "compensate me" for my inconvenience. She said that I took the right action in contacting her, and have me her direct phone number to call her back if I had ANY questions or concerns at all.
I love Saturn. And, I am really looking forward to seeing how this pans out....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Answer.... your question and one dilemma!

My friend Kathy and her fiance have both been married before. Between them, they have done the big church wedding, the Justice of the Peace, and Vegas. They didn't want to do that again. Something unique, but not in a church, or the courthouse. And "wouldn't it be nice if someone we knew could marry us?" Well, back when the hubs and I were planning our wedding, we had the same dilemma, and I did a little research. Turns out, getting ordained online is actually very easy (after all, Tori Spelling did it so she could marry a couple on her show), and, as it turns out, LEGAL (as long as you obey the laws of your own state and county, as well). So, I found an online ministry that fit our needs, and my sensibilities, and took the plunge.

If all goes according to plan, I will be officiating at my friend's wedding this spring. So now my question is....what does a non-traditional female minister WEAR to said wedding, without looking like a minister....or a bridesmaid.....

Shoulda been a snow day

Yes, I REALLY should have stayed home today. When I talked to the hubs on his way to work this morning, he didn't seem to think the roads were too bad. I took that as a good sign, since he is usually way too over-protective when it comes to me driving in bad weather (helloooo, I grew up in OHIO, I can drive in the snow, fool!). So, I cleared off the car, which required the use of M's size 12 rubber boots, and got us on the road.
I really, REALLY should have stayed home today.
By the time I was a half mile down the road, I realized that not only did I have no business driving my little compact car on that particular venue, but in my concentrated effort to make sure we had boots, blankets, and whatnot in the car, I left my phone in the house.
Today would no doubt be the day I put the car in the ditch. And, where I live, when there is that much snow on the road, there really is no turning around. You just keep plowing ahead slowly until you make it to the main road or get stuck, whichever comes first. After white-knuckling it the 5 miles to the main road, I got there, just praying that no one would be coming and I could just roll out onto the highway (because you know that there is always that pile of snow right at the end of a road that you don't want to get stopped in). No such luck. I had to stop, and I got stuck. It took quite a bit of rocking and rolling, but I finally made it out so I could drive the other 13 miles to town.
Did I mention that our road commissioner sucks? And that the hubs' tires were the only ones that had cut a path in the snow this morning? Yeah, it was fun.
So, I'm here. I'm not very happy about it, but I'm here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Not half bad

Admittedly, I generally dislike celebrating my birthday, and this year was shaping up to be no exception. With plans getting cancelled relatively at the last minute, and all, I wasn't thinking the weekend was going to turn out well.
In the end, I was pleasantly surprised! Here is how my birthday weekend panned out:

Thursday, as you may recall, I was waiting on PINS and NEEDLES for the results of my sister's sonogram. And, I got my birthday wish! I'm going to have a beautiful little niece to smooch on this summer!

Friday, I took the day off work to hit the Hill in St Louis with a girlfriend who had never had the pleasure. And trust me, if you cook and/or love all things Italian, it IS indeed, a pleasure.

We stopped in at my favorite markets, had a fabulous lunch, and then expanded our search to find a World Market, Trader Joe's, Schlafly Bottleworks, Penzey's Spices, and ABC Trading! A wonderful, wonderful day of shopping.

On the way home, we stopped in for a drink at Fast Eddie's BonAir in Alton, then went out with friends once we got back to our own stomping ground. Some friends I don't see outside of work often came out as well, including my friend Chris and his new boyfriend (who my semi homo-phob husband has been avoiding meeting), and my girl Kathy and her whose wedding I will be officiating this spring. (that's a story for another post! With me at the helm and Chris as the Maid of Honor, it will be an interesting one, no doubt!)

Saturday and Sunday were blissfully calm, I spent most of the time at home, working on miscellaneous projects and tasks, including fixing the toilet (yep, on my birthday). I did manage to get a large mirror painted and hung, which was a good one to cross off the list.

Then, Sunday night for supper, I broke out the goods. I picked up some absolutely phenomenal Laguniga salsiccia at DiGregorio's on the Hill and whipped up a platter of sausage and peppers for me and the hubs. Doesn't this looks steamily mah-velous???
Well, that's all for the moment, I think....hopefully it is going to be a quiet few weeks....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On Pins and Needles....

Tomorrow is a very big day! Since finding out that I am going to be an aunt about six weeks ago, I have been anxiously awaiting the answer to one it a boy or a girl? And, tomorrow is the day we find out! Naturally, I will be thrilled either way, but a girl in the family sure would be nice.....and my birthday is this weekend, so maybe if I wish real hard.....everyone cross your fingers!!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Brew

Well, it was deer season again this weekend, the last time until November. We always have fellow hunters come stay with us for the weekend, and there are 3 prerequisites for the weekend.

1. I make a full breakfast either Saturday or Sunday morning, consisting of biscuits and gravy, bacon, hash browns, toast, ad eggs to order.
2. Saturday night, we make reservations to go to our favorite steak place for the best filet you've ever laid your lips on.
3. Coffee. Must have COFFEE. The hunters are big coffee drinkers, for obvious reason when you are parked in the timber for hours on end in the dead of winter.

So, what happens? Saturday morning, at 5:15, I brew a pot of coffee. At 7:00, I go to brew a second go. Water? Check. Coffee? Check. Power light on? Check. No brew.

Well, we just can't have that. Since the women in the group hunt less and less every year, particularly in January, when its (as my husband refers to it) as cold as a well-digger's ass. So, it was a good excuse to go shopping.

We packed Little Man up, plugged in the dvd player and headed north to Springfield. Nope, a trip to the local Walmart just won't do, honey, their coffee makers are all junk. :) We stopped at Target first, went straight to the kitchen appliances. Has anyone else noticed that you can hardly find a coffee maker that uses the cone filters? I really prefer need much less coffee for each pot, and since I like the pricey stuff, the less I use, the better. I eventually had to settle for the basket filter variety, but it was on sale from $41.79 to $30, so it was a good deal. My only complaint thus far is that the water level gauge is so far back on the right side, its not easily visible unless you turn the pot. But, other than that, she seems like a good investment!
Then we moved on to the clearance clothes. Why? Why not? I need some new clothes. As it turned out, they had just put out no less than ten racks, packed full of freshly marked down clearance. I picked up a half dozen tops for myself, and several maternity tops for my sister. Couldn't believe the deals. All told, with the coffee pot, new filters, 6 tops for me and five for her, I spent $95 and change. Can't beat that.

Moving right along, we hopped over to Circuit City. They are closing down and their liquidation sale started Saturday. I picked up a new bluetooth headset for my phone for $25 down from $50. Yippee! Now, if I could just get the darn thing to connect to my phone....hmmm....where did I put the instructions?

And finally, Saturdays are always "tasting" days at my favorite liquor store. They always sample a couple of wines in the afternoon, and this weekend was their "cold weather drink" tasting. So, we were also graced with a Cognac, and a Tawny Port. On top of that, the rep from a local winery that I like (actually very close to my house) was there sampling their newest varietals, including an unoaked Chardonel (I tend to like anything that is unoaked) and an Ice Wine! I ended up with a bottle of the Chardonel, one of the Ice Wine, and a bottle of the port, which I was very surprisingly impressed with! At only $13.99 a bottle, it was an extraordinarily good deal for a decent port. Anyone want to come share them with me this weekend? Or maybe some crab legs? The game plan for this Friday night includes an all you can eat crab leg buffet and an 80's band...

Friday, January 16, 2009


Well, folks, its Friday afternoon, and my brain shut off for the weekend hours ago. Its been a long, crazy, back-breaking couple of weeks at the office, and I am ready for some R&R, and quite probably some bonding time with my new wine fridge and its contents.

We have company coming in again this weekend for deer season, which will mean a night out tomorrow night, and me cooking a big breakfast on Sunday morning, but I am hoping for some quiet time to work on my quilt, or some new jewelry, or both. Maybe even some “girl time” with a friend, and lunch plus a wine tasting in Springfield. Who knows….maybe I’ll get some down-time for a change. In the mean time, I just wanted to wish you all a relaxing weekend, full of comfy clothes, warm feet, and good wine. Ciao!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Visit

Well, I’m still working on getting caught up, but I am back at work after a 4 day weekend full of family, food, and fun. My parents, sister and brother in law came in for a long weekend and belated Christmas. I don’t get to see my family very often, so when I do, it’s a big deal. We didn’t have any big plans, partly because in my remote area of the Midwest, there just isn’t much to do. SO, we stayed around home, worked on a few projects, made some jewelry, and cooked.

I had quite a menu planned, and, completely uncharacteristic for me, I didn’t take a single picture of food this weekend, and we made some really good meals! My sister and I made some new jewelry and shared pretty beads from our stashes. We created new wine cork trivets. I made one a while back from my old wine corks that I have saved, and a couple of friends fell in love with it, so dad made new frames for them and we played with wine corks one afternoon. You can see my original one in this post. We finished the baseboard in my sewing room, which required us to move everything out of the armpit of my house, and therefore, put it back more neatly, so maybe I can work on my quilt again someday soon. My dad brought out the shelf for my new wine fridge. He fixed my headboard so it’s a little shorter and the pillows don’t fall behind the bed any more. He also put my cubby hole doors on hinges instead of hangers so they are more manageable. Plus, I put cup hooks on the back of one of the doors to hang all my jewelry.

Ty also got a nice surprise from Grandpa. Being the fantastic craftsman that he is, my Dad made Ty a very nice toy chest that he will be able to keep forever. He liked it so much he even tried to take a nap on it, but I’ll have to post that picture later since its on my computer at home.
Before taking my sis and BIL to the airport yesterday, I took them on a little tour of the Hill in St Louis (aka Little Italy) and had some wonderful pasta along with a bit of shopping at the little markets down there. I made the camera shy couple stop in front of one of the beautiful churches down there for a picture.
All in all, it was a wonderful visit, and I can’t wait until Ty and I fly out to the coast to see them again in April!

A Christmas Recap:

As I was wandering around the house this morning trying to take pictures of the things I need to blog about, I remembered. Oh yeah! CHRISTMAS! I mentioned that I had a good Christmas, but I didn’t get a chance to SHOW you!

First of all, my husband finally listened to me. FINALLY, he took the ever-so-blatant hint and got me what I actually WANTED for Christmas. For years now, I have been searching for a new sewing machine that was both what I wanted, and reasonably priced. A few months ago, I found it, and waited to see if it would show up for Christmas, although I had serious doubts about it. My current machine is the same machine that my parents gave me as a gift for my high school graduation 18 years ago. It was meant to be a starter machine, and I am far from being a beginner. The poor thing has been a good little soldier, but it really needs to be retired. These days, I break more needles than fingernails.
So, based on my sewing activities, I really just wanted a basic machine. A basic machine that is heavy duty for the many layers of denim I often sew through while mending the hubs’ work clothes. One that can also do quilting work (and as a bonus, this one has a 16 inch extension table!). And, what may seem easy to find, but really isn’t, a machine that uses a drop-in, top-loading bobbin. I hate front-loaders, I really do. I’ve tried them and I just can’t get used to them. So, here is what I have found. A Singer, “professional” heavy duty sewing machine, with a top loading bobbin and an extension table. What do you think of my new baby?
A month or so before Christmas, my mother in law frightened me by telling me that she had purchased my Christmas present, and that she was very excited about it, but it wasn’t something that was on my list. Oh LORD was I scared. I try not to let Matt’s family shop “off-list” for me. It just doesn’t work. I’m a picky bitch, and I know it, but they don’t understand the methods to my madness, so its just generally not a good idea.

The box was huge. I opened it carefully and with great trepidation. And then I discovered something I never knew. My mother in law IS capable of listening!!! On Thanksgiving, I pointed something out in a Black Friday ad that I “have always wanted, but will probably never have.” Something that usually runs $100 or more, but was on sale that morning only for about half that. She bought it. She went out on Black Friday and BOUGHT it!
Pardon me while I caress my new 8 bottle wine fridge….
Currently, it is residing on my counter, but while the parents were in town this weekend, my wonderful daddy installed a shelf under my counter top for its new home (also in the picture). I just need to put another coat of stain on it before it can take up permanent residence. Ahhhh… is good.

Ladies and Gentlemen...may I present .....

My NIECE! (ok, or nephew, but we believe in the power of positive thinking).
I’ve been trying not to blow my sister’s secret since she told us on Thanksgiving, but I have the green light from her now, and here she is in all her pregnant glory.

Yes, there will be more blogging later today, but I have tons of catching up to do at work after my long weekend visit with my family.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I feel like Annie

Tomorrow, tomorrow! I love ya......

Yeah, you get the idea. Tomorrow, my bloggeriffic friends, is going to be a good day.
My family is coming to see me! Well, in all truthfulness, they are coming to see Little Man, but that's okay, I love them anyway. :)
Yep, the whole clan (that's not saying much since we're a large extended family, but a small immediate one), my parents, and my sister and brother-in-law.
Am I ready? Emotionally, yes. Technically? No. The house is a WRECK. We still have not recovered from deer season and Christmas, and my floors are begging to be vacuumed and mopped, but I have to remove all the clutter before I can do that tonight.
Ugh, sorry everyone, the house is just gonna be dirty when you get here. The good news is, the toilets are both clean, so at least there's that.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Twenty Days

That's how long it has been since I posted on my blog. TWENTY days. I feel like such a slacker. Really, I could tell you that I have been so crazy busy with the holidays and everything else that I just haven't had time. And it would be true, but no more true than anyone else's life. So, I guess I'm busted. I'm a slacker.
Today is January 6th. A lot has happened since the last time I posted. We have had Christmas, New Year's, and the hubs' birthday.
Overall, the holidays were good to us. I actually got what I wanted! (for starters) The husband is notoriously bad about ignoring what I ask for because he doesn't think it makes a good gift, or doesn't serve him, in some fashion. But this year, against all odds, he listened. And I have the new sewing machine I have been searching for all these years. Now. Ask me if I've used the blessed thing yet. Yeah. No time.
Ty got an obscene assortment of wonderful gifts that he is still thoroughly enjoying. The best purchase this year, admittedly, was M's idea. Ty's favorite gift, by far, is his new Smart Cycle. And that is great because at least he is doing something other than sit in front of endless episodes of SpongeBob. Unfortunately, because M didn't buy his new big screen, as he planned to, which would have freed up a TV just for Ty's room, the darned thing is taking up space in my bedroom, when the whole idea was to get his movies and other playthings OUT of my bedroom. Ugh.
In OTHER news!!! Yay! My family is coming to see us this weekend. Yep, the WHOLE family. My parents, my sister and brother in law, all arriving this weekend. And I can't wait. I am lucky enough to have parents that are willing to drive out and visit every few months, but Sister lives on the east coast and we rarely see each other. Living in the rural hell that I call home, there is not much to do as far as entertainment, so we'll have to be creative, but I have no doubt we'll have a wonderful time. There will be cooking, beading, and other crafts to keep us occupied.
I hope to have LOTS to blog about after the visit. Hint hint, wink wink....there may be a surprise in store for all my readers. We'll see.
Anyway, sorry I've been such a pathetic non-blogging bum! I'll try to do better in 2009!