Friday, March 30, 2012

Stained Floor

There are some things in life you should try at least once, just to prove to yourself you can do it, or to prove to yourself that it is soooo worth it to pay someone else to do it. Sanding and staining a wood floor is definitely something I am glad I tried once . . . yeah, I don't need to prove anything else to myself. I am too old and too heavy to be on my knees sanding and staining. I anticipate a lot of soreness in my near future. If the floor doesn't do it to me, helping a friend move tomorrow surely will. Why do I do this to myself? Anyway, the floor is finally done. I just have to wait for it to dry before I can get back in there to touch up the baseboards that I hit with the sander and put the room back together. "sigh"

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Garment District in NYC

Okay, this is my first attempt to do a blog post with pictures on my new iPad. There appears to be a glitch in that loading pictures from iPad to Blogger doesn't work without jumping through some hoops and downloading some apps.

While in NYC last week, we met up with a friend from the theatre department at the university here, who was on a buying trip in NYC getting costumes and fabric to bring back here.

She invited us to come back to the Garment District with her to see an authentic part of NYC that we'd never see in all the touristy sections we normally frequent.

She took us up in a warehouse that was full of fabrics, machines, clothing, tailors, and her friend,who makes clothes for T.V. shows and Broadway shows. Her friend gave us a tour of the various workshops and was very generous with her time, answering all our questions and allowing us to take pictures. She told us how the District warehouses all used to be full of workers, but now a lot of the work had gone overseas. It was such an awesome experience to go behind the scenes to see all of this.

I don't know if the pictures will post or how to get descriptions next to each picture, so I will publish this now and if the pix don't show up, I will come back later to load them.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Back to work . . .

I am trying so hard to get this room finished before summer, because that will be one year since I started. So, work aside, a noro-virus, an out-of-town trip and all day with a plumber later, I'm finally back to work on the room. I've borrowed a sander from a friend and have started stripping the floor. I tried to scrap up the paint splotches but that didn't work. There was paint down in the grain of the wood that I couldn't get to with a scraper. Next I thought I would just stain over the paint splotches, but stain doesn't cover paint, so I had no choice but to sand the whole floor. I'll post another picture once I get the stain on.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Gingrich on Campus

We were told late yesterday afternoon that Newt Gingrich would be on campus today to speak to students, faculty and staff only. They scheduled Newt in the "small" hall rather than the larger auditorium, probably so he wouldn't be facing a mostly empty room like Romney did. The event began at 3. I was scheduled to have class until 3:15, so I let my class out early thinking I could get over there in time. The hall was filled and closed by 2:45. I'm not bummed about not hearing Newt speak, I was just interested in the spectacle of it all. M made it in before they closed, so she took this picture with her phone for me.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekend in NYC

Back from a weekend in NYC. We got to meet up with Trish at Menopausal Stoners. Post coming soon.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Farmer's Market Bisque

Normally I'm not a recipe type person and I don't usually post them, but I'm posting this for my sister, Pat, because she wanted to know how the bisque turned out, and because it turned out so amazingly well, I just have to share.

Okay, as a preface, these are not pictures of the bisque I actually made, I snagged them on-line because I didn't think to take pix myself when I was making the bisque.

So I absolutely LOVE butternut bisque. When I lived in New Hampshire there was a restaurant downtown below the legal office I worked in, that made the most amazing butternut bisque I have ever tasted in my life. So for the past nine years I've been ordering at restaurants, and making bisques at home, trying to capture that taste I love so well. Nothing has ever come close until now. A few weeks ago I went to our Farmer's Market and picked up a butternut squash. It was a massively large squash, so I thought I'd try to make a bisque again. I went on-line and printed out 5-6 different butternut bisque recipes. Because I ended up adding so many different vegetables, and adding sweet potatoes, that no recipe called for, and parsnips to get the flavor of cardamom without paying a fortune for that spice, I didn't think I could call this a true butternut bisque, so that's why I call it a Farmer's Market Bisque.

I took all the basic ingredients that go in all butternut bisques, but then I took the most interesting ingredients from all the recipes and put them all together into my bisque. The result was phenomenal! The scent of this bisque cooking all day was unbelievable and it was so easy to make as well, that I was astounded at how delicious it was when I've been trying for years and never produced anything like this before. Now I do have to warn you, the recipe I'm including below was made in a giant-assed crockpot. You can cut the recipe in half if you like. I intended to make a large pot so I could freeze the leftovers. Also, this is a vegetarian recipe for those who need that. If you don't care about meat, you can use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock and probably get the same result. As for the spices, sorry, I didn't measure anything, I just sprinkled in the spices, heavy-handed for the ones I liked, a teaspoon at the time for spices I wasn't that familiar with, and then let it cook and I would come back and add more spice to my own taste. I just thought that apples might have been good in this, I just didn't think to add them. This bisque ended up with a savory, complex flavor, the apples might have added a hint more sweetness.

Farmer's Market Bisque

Chop all vegetables into cubes. Put everything in a large crock pot at the same time and cook on low all day.

1 large butternut squash (4-5 lbs)
4 medium sweet potatoes
2 large white potatoes
2 medium carrots
2 medium parsnips
2 medium leeks
1 medium yellow onion
3 large celery stalks including leaves (the leaves carry a lot of flavor)
2-3 large garlic cloves
2 containers vegetable stock (approx. 8-9 cups)
1 lemon (squeeze & use the juice only)
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Add rosemary, tarragon, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, thyme, cayenne pepper,
salt and black pepper to taste.

Use an immersible food processor to blend all the ingredients into a smooth bisque after they have cooked all day. Eat with a nice crusty bread and fresh butter.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

So busy, so busy

I can't seem to slow down long enough to blog or pick up the messes around my house. I've been finishing up grading so I could enjoy my Spring Break that runs all through next week. Yahoo! I've been painting, priming, and re-painting the built-in cabinets in Min's room that I put on hold last summer when all the guests came visiting. My goal is to get the floor stripped and refinished over Spring Break. I will post pictures when I'm done. We've been going to dinners, parties, and events both in the community and on campus almost every night. We got to see the Alvin Ailey dance troupe, we listened to the Ambassador from Estonia on another night, we had a lovely dinner with a table full of doctors at another event. Last night we had marvelous Caribbean food and conversation at a friend's house. Tomorrow we're going to a baby shower, thus the picture here of the basket of baby gifts I assembled. Later next week we're going up to NYC to take in a play, the sites, and hopefully to meet Trish from Menopausal Stoners. So that's just a little of what's been occupying my time. Oh, and Happy St. Patrick's Day. The house smells amazing right now because M has been cooking a traditional corned beef meal for us. Yum! Wish you were here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

OMG - seriously people?

I've been getting myself all worked up lately over national politics. This whole contraception thing is ridiculous. I was in a position while in school, where I paid for my private health care insurance, but when I went to use my insurance for a doctor's visit and was prescribed a hormonal contraceptive to treat a reproductive problem, my insurer refused to cover the needed medicine because they didn't cover birth control.

I remember speaking to their representative and I assured her it wasn't for birth control, I was in a same-sex relationship. My doctor even sent in paperwork twice saying it was a valid medical need, not associated with birth control, and that they either cover the minor cost for the medicine, or they could cover the larger expense of surgery for me. They refused.

I asked the insurance rep, "just out of curiosity, do you cover Viagra?" She said, "yes." I about went through the roof. They also covered all maternity expenses. I was not attending a religiously based school either, this coverage was solely the decision of the insurance company.

I tried explaining to the insurance rep that insurance companies are all about making money, surely it must cost more to cover maternity expenses than birth control expenses. She was sympathetic, but had no control over what the Board of Directors decided.

I asked her if she knew who the Board were? She said "yes, there's a picture of them right here on the wall." I asked her if they were all white, they were. I asked her if they were all men, they were. I said do they all look over the age of 50, she said yes. So those guys, decided what was best for me medically and thousands of other women. Needless to say, I switched insurance companies.

This whole debate in Congress lately about contraception is not about "giving women free birth control." It's about insurance companies providing birth control coverage as part of their insurance package, a package for which the women are already paying. Example, the insurance I have now covers birth control, just like any other medicine. I pay insurance premiums for that coverage, and I have a co-pay each time I purchase birth control. So, I'm not getting it for free, but I'm also not paying 100% of the cost out of pocket, being insured gives me a more favorable cost for the medicine, just like any other drug my doctor provides. I'd like to hear those oh so religious men justify why Viagra gets complete coverage, no questions asked.

Continuing along those lines of my personal outrage, this morning I was reading CNN on-line and came across more topics that set me off. It reminded me of a friend's bumper sticker: "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."

Million dollar lottery winner says she should continue to receive food stamps and public assistance. Asked if she had the right to the public assistance money, Clayton answered, "I kind of do. I have no income, and I have bills to pay. I have two houses." Here's a brilliant solution, sell one of the houses and go to school to learn a skill, then get a job. Or, just sell a house and use that money to start a business or live off of that for awhile. CNN story

UPDATE: Public assistance pulled. CNN Story

A woman's work is never done? What century are you people trying to drag us back to? CNN Story

Last full day in Europe

Ahh, all good things must come to an end.  Our European vacation is drawing to a close.  We leave Nice this morning to drive back to Barcelo...