Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Going Back for Seconds

My job hunting has been in high gear these past couple of weeks. I've interviewed with three separate companies, all well-known and well-respected, and all headquartered in St. Louis.

Today I had a second interview with one company in the morning, and an initial interview with a different company in the afternoon. At the end of that meeting, we were already talking times for a second interview, possibly on Friday.

All three are great companies to work for with good benefit packages. Each position would be a challenge, and each position offers advancement.

I might just become un-unemployed. Stay tuned....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Whip It Up Week 4

This week's theme was "Healthy Choices." This pie may taste rich and decadent, but it is relatively low-cal and low-fat. Add some fresh fruit and it's almost too good for you.

No-Bake Cheesecake
2 8 oz. packages low-fat or fat-free cream cheese, softened
1/3 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 8 oz tub lite Cool Whip
9" low-fat graham cracker crust
Sliced fresh fruit, such as strawberries or kiwi

Whip the softened cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until well blended. Fold in the Cool Whip until thoroughly mixed. Pour into the crust and refrigerate at least 3 hours, but overnight is best.
Top with fresh fruit and enjoy!
Was it good? Yes, it was very good. You couldn't tell that it was low-fat, it tasted that good. It tasted better after it had sat overnight.
Was it easy? Yes, it was pretty much a one-bowl dessert.
Will I make it again? Definitely.

*The only picture I have is below, because my camera battery was dead when I was making this.

Where Have You Been, Young Lady!?!

Hi there, remember me? I used to write on this blog quite often. Yes, I know, I haven't written all week, and I'm sorry. I've been busy! Want proof? Read on....

On Monday, I recovered from the fundraiser. We raised about $2,000 which will go toward establishing a scholarship at the high school in Kelli's name. We had so much food left over, so I donated that to Operation Food Search - they were so thrilled to have it.

On Tuesday, I had a job interview - yay! I think it went well, but we shall see if I get called back for a second interview. It's in the legal department of a a major corporation headquartered in St. Louis. It would be a great opportunity to get on with this company, so fingers crossed!

I also took Maddy shopping, as she is going to Florida next week. You can't go on vacation with old clothes, right? We didn't buy the hat or sunglasses, but I think she looks cute as heck!

On Wednesday, I delivered the dresses to Big Brothers/Big Sisters. They were very grateful for the dresses - I think we had over 30 dresses to donate. She told me the girls that receive the dresses are thrilled, and that I would have to come to the next event to see what our donations do for these young ladies. I can't wait!

On Thursday, I cleaned house and cooked dinner for my soon-to-be-in-laws. I made a rich, delicious yet low-cal pie for dessert, and for my Whip It Up submission this week. Yummy!
On Friday, I took Maddy and her friend to Splash City for some fun in the sun.

Then, Friday night, I started removing the LAST OF THE WALLPAPER! Hooray! Here it is before:

On Saturday, I painted my dining room. I love this green color - it's so fresh and clean, and really makes the white trim look even brighter.

Also, while all the furniture was out of the room, I cleaned the carpet. I also dusted out the china cabinet and de-cobwebbed the light fixture. I'm a veritable whirlwhind of clean!

Today is Sunday, and I just finished filling out an application for a job interview tomorrow with a communications company in St. Louis. This job was referred to me by one of my blog readers - thanks DeAnna!

We're having company for dinner again, and tonight we are having stuffed pork tenderloin, Keller corn on the cob, new potatoes and for dessert - peach cobbler from my mother's recipe.

I still need to move the table and chairs back into the dining room, and hang up the curtains on the rod I bought back in January. I guess I better do that before my company gets here.

So, that was my week. What did you do?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Whipping It Up Week 3

The theme this week was "Hometown Favorites." I had big plans for this week and then I got busy with my daughters' fundraiser, and next thing I know it's Saturday night and I'm running to the grocery store.

At the store, I passed by a display of homegrown peaches from a local orchard. I love peaches. They taste like summer to me. I remember spending summers with my grandparents in Texas, and going to my great-aunt's house to pick peaches. After dinner, my Mammaw would slice them up in aluminum pie pans, and we'd sit outside on the front porch in the dusk, listening to the Rangers ballgame on the radio, eating peaches still warm from the sun, and drink iced tea.
I must stop this reminiscing, because I'm drooling on my keyboard.


I decided that Peach Shortcake would be our dessert tonight. The recipe, as invented by me tonight in the produce section, is as follows:

5 peaches
1 container peach glaze
1 angel food cake
Whipped cream or whipped topping, if you like

Slice the peaches and cover with glaze; refrigerate for about an hour. Slice the angel food cake, top with peaches and a dollop of whipped topping.

Was it easy? Quite.
Did it taste good? Oh my yes.
Will I make it again? As long as the local peaches are in season.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Last Minute Prep

This morning I was running some last minute errands for the fundraiser, one of which was to pick up the tablecloths and the supplies for the centerpieces. I am using tissue-paper pineapples on half the tables for Jessica, and the half for Kelli will be multi-colored leis in these really cool bowls made of old record albums (courtesy of the awesomeness that is Courtney).

I arrived at the carnival supply store, loaded up my basket with bright colored table covers, found the cool pineapple cups that Maddy wanted, and then wandered over to where the leis were. I saw a few leis laying loose in a basket, but I needed more than that - a case of them, to be exact. I asked the clerk if they had any more in stock, and she said "oh, that's all we have, until our truck comes in on Monday." MONDAY?!?

Inside my head I could hear Kelli saying "oh sure, Mom, you got JESSICA'S stuff, but for MY STUFF you wait until the last minute! Jeez!"

In my defense, when I stopped in a few weeks ago, this store had boxes of leis for sale. Apparently the luau theme is popular, because today? 37 lonely leis remained. I bought them, then wondered how I would conjure up 107 additional ones.

The clerk gave me a couple of suggestions of alternative retailers, and I lucked out with the first guy. He had 5 cases in stock. Now he has 4. He is my hero today. Kelli would be so happy.

My dining room is Fundraiser Central right now, covered in donations, papers and other assorted what-not. I'm trying to line up everything so I can be as expedient and organized as possible on Sunday. However, I'm sure something will go wonky and I'll be running amok at the last minute as usual.

But it's for an awesome cause and I just can't get too upset.

The local paper is running a story about the fundraiser, and I will be doing an interview with KMOV Channel 4 on Saturday. I am so grateful for the publicity for this cause. I'm hoping for a great turnout, not just to benefit the scholarship funds, but also to benefit the food pantry and the prom dress drive.

The more the merrier, so stop by if you can.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cooking For a Cause

I recently met a lovely woman named Rachel, who is a Pampered Chef consultant. She asked if I wanted to do a Pampered Chef party as a fundraiser for Jessica and Kelli.

If you are interested in purchasing products, visit this link here. From this page you can order your products, with 10-15% of the total going to their scholarship funds. If you book a party, I will get a $3.00 bonus as well.

The pizza stone incident notwithstanding, I love Pampered Chef products. My latest "how did I live without this?" product is the Pineapple Wedger. It's like an apple wedger, but made larger for pineapples. Genius!

The link is good until July 31, 2009.

Thank you in advance for your purchase.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

120 Lives and Counting

Yesterday was the memorial blood drive at SIUE for Jessica and Kelli, which collected about 40 units of blood. Considering each unit can possibly save up to three lives, we potentially affected 120 people.

The cable barriers along I-64 are being installed to prevent crossover accidents. Who knows how many lives will be saved by preventing cars from crossing the median and injuring or killing others.

Something I hear a lot is, "I don't know how you do it." How do I keep going, every day, knowing that a senseless act took two of my children? How do I keep living when two of my beautiful babies are dead? How do I keep from curling up in the fetal position, crying my head off?

I keep moving forward and doing positive things in their memories. It's all I can do. I don't know why they were taken. I hope there will be a reason or a meaning revealed to me eventually.

I do know that the more I can do to keep their memories alive through blood drives, scholarships, tree plantings, fundraisers, food drives, and looking at their pictures everyday and smiling back at their faces - that's how I make it through.

I draw on the positives especially after reading something like this. Even though it's nothing I didn't already know, it still hurts.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Putting the "Fun" In "Fundraiser"

This Sunday is the Second Annual Jessica and Kelli Uhl fundraiser, to raise money for their scholarship funds. I have silent auction donations ranging from Cardinal tickets, autographed Rams footballs, to handmade Christmas stockings and an adorable doggie-themed basket. I can always use more items, so if you have anything you'd like to donate, bring it on.

I'm so excited about the Pineapple Paradise prom theme. I found a Cinderella-style ball gown that I might be more jazzed about than my wedding dress. We found a vintage tux for Craig that you will have to see to believe.

I have several prom dresses donated already, and the Collinsville Food Bank was thrilled when I told them I was collecting food for them.

Tickets are available at the door on Sunday. Please take a few hours out of your Sunday to come by, get some fried chicken, drop off a few canned goods and contribute to the memorial scholarships for my daughters.

We are also having a blood drive on Tuesday from 3pm to 7pm at SIUE. This is our first blood drive, and I hope to have a great turnout. Jessica volunteered for The Red Cross, and I thought it was a great way to raise awareness about the scholarship funds and also contribute to the community and possibly save a life.

Need more info for the fundraiser or blood drive? Visit the official website of Jessica and Kelli here.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Whip It Up Week 2 - Guilty Pleasures

This week's Whip It Up theme is Guilty Pleasures. Man, is that a wide open category or what?
My weakness lately is anything deep fried. I'm trying to be calorie-conscious so I fit into my wedding dress, but sometimes you've just got to splurge a little.
When I went to my brother's house in Tennessee last weekend, we popped into a local tavern for some shuffleboard and a few beers. When I saw that they served served deep-fried pickles, I immediately placed an order. Man, these are my favorites. Kosher dill spears, breaded and deep fried - is there anything better? Well, I suppose if you're not a pickle fan, probably.
I decided to try to re-create these little slices of heaven in my own kitchen. Here is the recipe I used (scaled down to serve 2 people):

1/2 c Italian bread crumbs
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 egg, beaten
5 kosher dill spears
Oil for deep frying

Preheat oil in a deep fryer to 350 degrees.

Drain pickle spears and pat dry with paper towels.

Mix bread crumbs and spices in a shallow dish. In a separate dish, beat the egg.

Dip pickles in egg, then in breading.

Fry pickles for 2-3 minutes or until the breading is lightly browned. Drain on paper towels until slightly cooled.

Now, the review:

Was it easy? I think so. I had all the ingredients in my pantry. Ordinarily I wouldn't have dragged out my deep fryer for only 5 pickles, but I was also frying tater tots for dinner, so it was worth the effort.
Did it taste good? It didn't taste like the ones in the tavern. I need to adjust the seasoning. These were kind of bland. I might use cornmeal instead of bread crumbs, and use more cayenne. I didn't have garlic powder so I used dried minced garlic. I think the garlic powder would have given a better flavor. Or maybe I need a shuffleboard table, a jukebox and a few beers.
Would I make again? I will keep experimenting with the spices, or next time I visit my brother, I'll stop in and ask Tommy, the proprietor, for his recipe.

If you find yourself on Highway 641 South, just over the Kentucky/Tennesse border, looking for fried pickles, stop in to the 641 Club in Puryear, Tennessee. and tell Tommy that Travis's sister sent you. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Keeping It Clean

I try not to use bad words on this blog. Mostly because Maddy reads it, but also because I've read that using swear words indicates a limited vocabulary.

I think I have a pretty good vocabulary; however, in some situations, there is nothing like a good stream of expletives - a full-blown blue streak that would make a sailor blush.

Lately, I feel like my life has gone from the occasional "Damn It!" to an hourly use of the F-word. Honestly, it's one *&^% thing after another. Just when I think one fire is out, another one pops up in its place. Most of them are minor inconveniences, just enough to peeve me off, but they're coming faster and harder. Suffice it to say that recent events occuring between last Thursday and today have left a thick haze of obsecenties lingering over my head.

In my past personal experience, when it rains, it pours. I've learned not to ask "What next?" because all I have to do is wait a few minutes, and the answer will show itself, and usually require time, skill, or money that I don't possess.

Will it get better? Probably.

In the meantime, I'm going to need a thesauraus, because I'm about at the end of my list of approved adjectives.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Whip It Up Week 1

I was having a bad day earlier this week. I needed chocolate. A quick search of my pantry revealed chocolate chips and butterscotch chips. But how to combine them in a new and exciting recipe that would satisfy my cravings and my Whip It Up requirements?

I went to my favorite recipe site, All Recipes, and used the ingredient search tool. This tool is awesome if you have a taste for something particular, or are trying to use the random ingredients you've scrounged from your cabinets.

I picked this Butterscotch Cookie Bar.

1 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Place butterscotch chips and butter into a glass bowl. Heat in the microwave for about 1-2 minutes, stirring at 30 second intervals until smooth. Set aside to cool until firm, about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch pan.

In a large bowl, beat the butterscotch chip mixture with eggs and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the batter until evenly mixed. Mix in the brown sugar, chocolate chips, walnuts, and raisins. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.

Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, just until the bars begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cut into squares while warm.

Now, the review:

Was it easy? Yes, very easy. With the exception of melting the chips, this could almost be a one-bowl batter recipe. I did bake them in a pan lined with greased parchment paper, as I wasn't sure if they'd come out of the pan easily, but they will. I also baked them for 28 minutes, let them sit about 15 minutes, then used my pizza cutter to cut into squares. I did omit the walnuts and raisins, but I might try adding pecans next time.

Did it taste good? Well, let's just say that I made them on Tuesday and today is Thursday, and there is one left. Craig took one bite and said "oh my good god make these again." He has also suggested that I take a batch to all my job interviews.

Will I make them again? Definitely. If it was up to Craig, I'd make them every week. However, I do have a wedding dress to fit into.

All in all, I highly recommend this recipe next time you're looking for something sweet.