Saturday, November 20, 2010

Catch ups

(Late post)

Carla's wedding came and went so fast last month with our whirlwind vacation and news. I'm so happy for her!

This month is more than half done. Cripes! Tonight is my bachelorette party - no booze for me! And next week is the wedding. W E D D I N G. Wow. Not sure which dominates my thoughts more: getting married or being pregnant. Whoa.

So at almost 11 weeks, very few issues happening: no barfing, lots of gas and the need for sleep. Good job, Little Monkey! And thanks for bringing some of my appetite back. No largely noticeable physical changes, yet. I'm sure everyone who knows will be looking for it at the wedding. Hee hee!

And now, for a nap.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's a bird, it's a gummy bear....

No! It's... A BABY!

You're surprised? I'm surprised. Major seems to be the only one not surprised. So with less than three weeks to go until the wedding, Little Monkey has entered the building. Well, nine weeks ago to be exact. It's been a tough secret to hold on to for four weeks.

No, no huge visible changes to me that you'd be able to see. My pants are a bit tighter already, so don't say anything if you notice my pants are unbuttoned.

Food aversions, I has them. Steamed broccoli will send me racing to the nearest barf container. I can't even think about food or enjoy my food blog reads - this from someone who plans lunch and dinner at breakfast. Morning sickness hits when I get in bed. I am fatigued at all times. Running again next month will help with that and all the food I shove in my face when I do get hungry.

Major is excited, to say the least. The Boy is just worried that the baby will play with all his toys. My Mom and Grandma are already in shopping mode. I'm still in panic mode. Panic mode began when I heard the heartbeat today because there is no Stork and that Monkey is likely only coming out of one place. There's a little human growing in me, it's kind of strange and fun and scary all at once. 

:-)  More to come as the wedding train slows down and the baking resumes.

(I did take a Baking class with Sara this weekend to get my fix - at the C.I.A. no less! That post to come.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I have ice down my pants (and other things of note)

But first, a recap.

Barb's wedding came and went so fast. Phew! I was so grateful to have been asked to perform the ceremony for such a great friend, madness and all. Sara's cake was a hit and was quickly devoured by the guests. I can't wait for her business to take off.

Major and I clean up well!
My ladies look fab, too!

Next was my own bridal shower, hosted by my family and wedding party. Summer heat, white sangria and Grandma's cooking - great combination. Oh, and a cake from Sara. :-)

Now that this has passed, the reality that the wedding is around the corner has set in. I didn't really have an idea of what "My Shower" would be like but the ladies sure did make it fun and memorable!

The following week was Carla's shower. A fall theme accented by rain made us almost believe it actually was fall. And now back to 100 degree days.

Sara's spice cake was another hit (notice a trend here?) and the finger foods I put together weren't bad, either!

So now an explanation on the ice in my pants. Turns out, I damaged my S1 disk while running - that's the disk about the tailbone. Yes, I have a pain in my ass. *sigh* And my right side. No running allowed for a month (!!!), physical therapy needed, and frustration abound. It's possible I may not be able to run the half-marathon in November. If all works out well, I'll aim for a winter race. I have been busting my butt for six months (ha!) and I'm not letting it go to waste. That is why I've been sitting around with an ice pack down the back of my pants.

Looks like it's time to bake this weekend to drown my sorrows.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Wishful thinking

It's still 90-something degrees. Ahh, fall in Texas. I miss New England right now... Went running and was run-over by the humidity. Bah! Looks like I'll be running the Half Marathon instead of the Full in November.

Tonight's Meatless Monday Experience was a modified version of a recipe by Rachel Ray:

Spaghetti Squash Caprese

  • 1 (4 pound) spaghetti squash
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbs crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt and lots of coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 cup of mozzarella and cherry tomatoes, marinated in olive oil and herbs to taste


To microwave squash, cut in half and seed. Place 1/4-inch water in a microwave safe dish. Place squash in dish, cut sides down -- sides will overlap. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high power 13 minutes. Shred squash and add the "spaghetti" to bowl with liquid.
To boil squash: cut in half and scrape out seeds. Boil squash until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Place 1/2 cup cooking water into a bowl, then drain and shred the squash.
Toss squash with extra-virgin olive oil, red pepper, salt to taste, and lots of black pepper. (I tried to get it to crisp, Add tomatoes and mozzarella and turn off heat. Serve.

Major and I tore it up, Boy did not seem interested as he ate his noodles and veggies. And kosher dog. I'd like to try to make squash-cakes with added zucchini, panko, romano and maybe an egg. Hmmm...

Also yesterday, churned out scones, raspberry macarons, and lemon sponge cake.

For the scones, I used Joe's recipe with less ginger. We slathered them with the lemon curd and each had two. Will be making more in the future. Mmm.

Hot dog! 75% of these are usable, 15% are near perfect! New pans worked like a dream. And I think I have the air-to-meringue timing down - I just tried to think of what it looked like when Madrina Marta would make it for cakes and POOF, gloss!
The sponge cake tasted great but looked awful. The oven decided to drop in temperature mid bake, likely in protest for being in use all morning.

If only I could do this every day...and get paid. :-)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Is that Fall peeking out?

I was pleasantly surprised this morning to find a cool, crisp morning waiting for me. Of course, it was also 5 in the morning...

First day back on the road after two weeks of dealing with the consequences of running the Chupacabra 10k - pinched back nerve. I longingly watched my regular group continue on while I turned and ran with the half-marathon group for six miles. (I did notice how odd that was, to want to run 11 miles) Stranger than that, I wanted to hop out of my car and run some more upon seeing folks running around the neighborhood at home. It's in me now, no matter how hard I run. (ha!)

Also, some failed baking endeavors have not made it online. Lemon curd awaits some tasty scones in the morning (here's hoping). If that wasn't bad enough, I read four different versions of croissant recipes. After some more macarons, it's on. Like kong.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I need to use the lemons I bought at work. Yes, at work. The cafe is featuring local produce here and there and I was swept up in the awesomeness that is The Lemon. (Need I mention that I scarfed down Lemon-Blueberry Angelfood Cake that day?)

The easiest way for me to express my lemon love is with curd. Yummy scented, thick and sweet lemon curd. Now, which version to use... I have six egg yolks itching to be used. So...

For the lemon curd:
              zest of 2 lemons
              1/2 cup (125ml) lemon juice
              1/4 cup sucanat (or sugar)
              1 egg + 1 egg yolk
              4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room

For the buttercream:

                6 egg yolks
                1 cup sugar
                1/2 cup water
                3 sticks unsalted butter, at room

                 1/2 vanilla bean

From Joe Pastry (Whom I have a blog-crush on):
4 egg yolks
5 ounces sugar
3.25 ounces (by weight) lemon juice
2 ounces softened butter
pinch salt
2 teaspoons lemon zest

 From Epicurious (Where every time I see something, I want to make it)

For lemon curd
2 1/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup fresh lemon juice
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Decisions, decisions.  Since I can't run for one more day, one of these will be made tonight... I have a hankering for a lemon bar and lemon macarons.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sugar is love

At last! This was my fifth batch, third successful and edible. After almost coming to blows with an oven that wouldn't get hot enough, I churned these out on Monday and assembled them last night with help from Major. 

Alas, my swiss buttercream is not as smooth as I would have liked, but it's a start. These are my Champagne Cocktail Macarons - champagne shells with raspberry cream.

More tonight. Still waiting for my UPS delivery of larger sheet pans, scale and food coloring. Somehow the box ended up in Harlingen, which is hours away. Tonight! Yay!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Meals #4 - 6

Bowtie Pasta with Feta Cheese & Lemon Pepper Chicken

Makes About 8 Servings from Meal Makeover Moms.
  • 3 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • Lemon pepper seasoning
  • One, 16-ounce box dried bowtie pasta
  • 1 small bunch broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, chopped
  • 2 to 3 carrots, chopped or ½ bag baby carrots
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 6 to 8 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 ½ cups half & half, warmed
1. Season the chicken on both sides with lemon pepper seasoning.  Grill until cooked through.
2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling water according to the package directions.  If you have a pot that’s big enough, you can add the veggies to the pasta during the last 5 minutes of cooking time.  If not, steam the veggies in a small amount of water in another pot.
3. Drain the pasta and veggies.  Stir in the butter, feta cheese and half & half.  Slice the grilled chicken into thin strips and serve along with the pasta.  Serve the lemon pepper seasoning at the table for those who want more on their pasta.

**On the list of meals to make. Not sure if The Boy will like the pepper or the feta. (sigh)

Rachel Ray's Shrimp Fried Rice

  • 2 cups long-grain rice, rinsed
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • One 8-ounce bag sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 bunch scallions (3 to 4), green and white portions thinly sliced separately
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • One 10-ounce bag frozen peas and carrots, thawed
Defrost frozen shrimp by sealing them in a resealable plastic bag and submerging in water for 20 minutes.
Chop the green and white portions of the scallion bunch separately and use half tonight. Wrap the remaining scallions in damp paper towels, then in plastic wrap; save for a few days.
Save 20 minutes! Use about 5 cups cooked leftover rice and skip Step 1. Just add the rice in Step 3 along with 1/4 cup water.


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the rice and 2 cups water to a boil; lower the heat, cover and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the sugar snap peas, season with salt and pepper and cook until the shrimp is opaque, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Place the skillet over medium-high heat and add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, the scallion whites and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the garlic sizzles, about 30 seconds. Stir in the rice, season with salt and pepper and spread into an even layer. Cook until slightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir and cook for 3 minutes more. Push the rice to one side of the pan; add the eggs, season with salt and cook, scrambling, until set, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir the eggs into the rice, then add the shrimp mixture, peas and carrots and scallion greens and cook, stirring, until heated through.
 **For The Boy, we used chicken. He picked out some things here and there, but was a success overall.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

All mine

  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups of tomatillo sauce (pureed with garlic, simmer for 5 minutes)
  • 2 shredded chicken breasts
  • 1 cup shredded white cheese (low fat-Monterrey jack)
  • 1 can yellow corn, drained
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • casserole dish (I use my Pampered Chef Baker)
Assemble by layering two tortillas side by side, chicken, corn, beans, sauce, cheese.

Bake at 350 for 30-minutes - enough to complete one household chore - and enjoy. If you have it, top with cilantro.
**I'd add chopped onions but they'd get picked out. I need to remember to add to the tomatillos! 

Note: Haven't been feeling 100% so even I've resorted to eating Annie's Mac & Cheese. May have a frittata for dinner. Will post recipe if successful.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Silpat Fail

Here I thought using Silpats would be awesome. Giant fail:

At first, I thought it was that I over stirred the macronage. While that may have been a bit of the problem, it was truly that I needed to use parchment paper...and a scale... *sigh* Oh, and the humidity - it seems like it's been raining non stop for two months. Why, fates, why!

First version two months ago.

I will say, meringue is pure happiness. I could eat vats of it every day. As I licked the bowl and ate my flat almond discs, I emailed Joe Pastry for some Silpat help:

My guess is that the silpat is serving as an insulator, causing the macarons to heat more slowly. Trying increasing your heat by 25 degrees or so and see what happens. 

But if it's any comfort, I feel your pain. My last batch of macarons was a flop. I got too darn cocky and blew it. That'll learn me!

Soldier on, baker!

So, while the tres leches cake sets in the fridge instead, I will plan to bake this weekend as I will not be running thanks to my internal issues. 

parchment. check!
almonds. check!
sanity. bah!

Meal # 3

Turkeyball Subs
*Adapted from Makeover Moms


·        2 lbs, ground turkey

·        ½ cup cooked black lentils

·        ¾ cup bread crumbs

·        1 egg

·        1 1/2 cups pasta sauce

·        3 tbls olive oil

·        1 medium carrot, peeled and shredded, (about 3/4 cup)

·        ¼ cup diced onion

·        2 garlic cloves, minced

·        1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional

·        4 sub rolls


1.        Combine ground turkey, lentils, onion, carrot and garlic in large bowl until completely mixed.

2.        Add breadcrumbs and egg, mixing in.

3.        Form 1 ½ - 2 inch balls.

4.        Heat pan with olive oil. Cook thoroughly.

5.        Combine the meatballs, pasta sauce, and carrot in a medium saucepan.

6.        Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and continue to simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are heated through, 20 to 25 minutes.

7.        Divide evenly among the rolls, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese as desired, and serve.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Meal #2

I modified this for Major and Boy by adding the chicken to corn tortillas with black beans, avocado, and fresh mango salsa. Steamed veggies added to Boy’s plate as he picks and chooses through the taco to find what he’s in the mood for.

Grilled Cilantro- Lime Chicken

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Serves: 4

1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 bone-in chicken breast halves (8 ounces each), skinned
ground black pepper
lime wedges, for serving

1. In a shallow baking dish, mix the lime juice, cilantro, and oil. Season the chicken to taste with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the lime mixture and turn to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator, turning once or twice, for about 4 hours.
2. Heat a barbecue grill to medium-hot, or preheat the broiler and coat a broiler-pan rack with cooking spray. Grill or broil the chicken, turning once, 10 to 12 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 170 F and the juices run clear. Serve with the lime wedges.

Print From Rodale 7/22/2010

I love you, man!

I had another moment of clarity while I was a work, staring at my cubicle walls. In trying to asses and create development plans for each member of my team, the usually sleeping voice in my head shouted "THEY WON'T CARE AND YOU ARE STRESSING OVER THIS FOR NOTHING!" OK, so that's way over dramatic, but you get the point. I minimized all my windows and realized that I was spending too much time seeing the trees and not the forest. I'm in a great place now to spend more time and heart on my love of pastries.

This is my desktop wallpaper:

While I love all things pastry, and dream of having a bakery, I find myself getting in my own way. I make excuses to *not* bake. Ah, fear. So now I've challenged myself to learn and create addicts of my treas, starting with the French Macaron:

This was my first attempt. They were delicious and odd shaped, but the aesthetics will improve with time. I also made some green tea with black sesame, but I didn't like the color.

I will reign supreme in this kitchen and will work on a new treat twice a month until the wedding in November, then it's on like Donkey Kong.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Gonna Fly Now

Today's daily "Kick in the butt" from was this:

Part of the challenge of the marathon is pushing past what you think is physically possible. You can do more than you think you can.

This week ends Week 8 of my marathon training. After Saturday's 12-mile run, I will have logged 20 miles this week. TWENTY! The closest week to this so far was last October at 16 miles. My long run that week was a training run to-and-from Eisenhauer Park, and I averaged 12m/mi. Which is what I'm at now. SO… when do I begin pushing for a better time?

Goal #1: Make the most of the next 6-week's speed and tempo workouts. This may mean sticking to the treadmill for those days, and trying to meet the SA Fit group on Tuesdays for speedwork training. End Date: 09/04/10

Food wise, something weird is happeneing in my brain. Either I'm burned out on meat or my brain is protesting time spent in the kitchen cooking. I'm finding my self eating smaller portions over all and shying away from animals. Monday: cous cous. Tuesday: Black bean tacos. Wednesday: Pasta with shrimp. Thursday: Watermelon salad*. We're going out to have Indian tonight, and I'm torn between Paneer Masala and Lamb Vindaloo. I may have to forgo the lamb as I feel it may cause a ruckus overnight and make for an interesting 4am wakeup. *sigh*

(*The recipe is on I posted a picture on Facebook. It was REALLY really good.)

I've tried mapping out meal plans, but it's made complicated by having to feed The Boy and Major. Making 3 meals a night does not sound fun, and adding chicken or sausage to what I make and then feed it to Major seems like a cop out (only to me). Why are there no "family training meal plans" for those of us who have to fuel ourselves and feed others?

Goal #2: Identify 6 family friendly training meals to place in rotation. End date 07/31/10
Meal #1 – Pantry Couscous and Chicken
· A box of Near East plain couscous, cook as instructed
· 4 green onions or chives, chopped or 1/4 c fresh parsley
· ¼ c cooked lentils
· ¼ c cheese of choice (goat, feta) that crumbles
· ¼ c dried fruit of choice (fig, apricot, pomegranate, gold raisins)
· 2 sliced, grilled chicken breasts
· Single-serving of Green Giant frozen veggies
1. Mix cooked couscous and lentils. Serve ½ c. with chicken to picky child with a side of single-serve Green Giant frozen veggies.
2. Mix remaining ingredients and serve.
**I passed on the chicken, which left enough for a lunch portion for the next day.

Time to start the mental preparation for tomorrow's 12-mile run. Is that Bill Conti's "Gonna Fly Now" that I hear in my head? Sure is.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dear Amanda - The Running Edition

As my marathon quest continues, I've received a lot of questions about running and how to start:

Q: Are you out of your mind?
A: Yes, but that has nothing to do with running.

Q: How did you start?
A: It was a New Year's resolution for 2008. It took me A YEAR to actually get off the couch to run because I decided I needed to be a fit to begin. Cut to January 2009 when I dragged Luz to shuffle around the NISD Athletic Center in preparation for the SA Komen 5k. I thought I'd die in the process of being able to run 3.1 miles, but I didn't. I also used the Couch to 5k podcasts on iTunes to help. I successfully completed the 5k with an 11:30 pace. I've since learned that pace, not speed, helps me as I work to increase my endurance.

Q: What keeps you motivated?
A: Jeans and food. (And better health). I live to eat, and that's not conducive to skinny jeans. It's part vanity, part not wanting to buy new pants because I love cheese and desserts. And wine. And cheeseburgers. Also, I want to have good habits firmly entrenched by the time Major and I start raising kids (the Boy is already suffering through Ramen withdrawal thanks to my new role as Kitchen Dictator).

Of course, that doesn't mean I don't sometimes hit the snooze button when I should be out running. I'll make up for it during the day. I just have to ask myself: are you going to be a wimp, or are you going to be strong today?

Q: Where did you get your information?
A: All kinds of places:
Hal Higdon's Website
Rock N Roll Marathon site
San Antonio Road Runners
There are a ton of resources out there. And while they may not be the most user-friendly, they are pretty valuable. I've tried to share these on my Facebook wall for those of you linked in.

Two other tools I use: Run Keeper's iPhone app and my Garmin FR60. These have helped me track my progress and learn about pace. Remember, if you're training for a long run, PACE not RACE is key.

Q: Are you participating in a formal training program?
A: This is one aspect I didn't want to do on my own. I signed up for SA FIT ( last year for the half and this year for the full (fool?). There are locations nationwide, but you can find other group training options if do some research. Many charities offer training in return for some fundraising (American Cancer Society, Leukemia/Lymphoma Society, Race for the Cure, Livestrong).

Generally, you'll meet as a group for the long weekend runs. It is *important* that you complete the weekday runs, otherwise you'll be suffering Saturday morning when you have to complete your first 8-miler.

Also, listen to your body. I've been super vigilant about how my knee and feet feel after running. Shoes are undeniably important – you don't want to be 4 miles into that 8 mile run and realize the sneakers you bought at Target have now chafed your ankles, squeezed off a toenail, and given you shin splints the likes you never knew possible. Go to a running store (not a sports store) and talk to the folks there about shoes. And any other aches and pains. I've started using KT Tape ( and it's helped my knee not complain about the abuse I'm inflicting on it.

Up next, the 3rd Annual San Antonio Los Chupabacras de la Noche 10k. Actually, up next is this weekend's 9 mile run. I'm proud to say that my 8-mile run last week was actually enjoyable at a 12/m pace. That same route last year while training for the half was not enjoyable and at a 14:30/m pace. Progress!

Since this week's run moves to 6am(!!!), I'll have to wake up at 445 to being my ritual of wakeup-whatshappening-potty-eat-water-potty-whyamiawake-gottagonow.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Season 2 - Highway to Hell Marathon Training

I knew this day was coming when we signed up all last year's marathon expo for this year's Rock and Roll Marathon - full marathon training. Which is two weeks before the wedding.

Can't be all that bad, right? I continued running over the winter, but I wouldn't say I'm now an athlete. I completed the timed run for this year's group and ended up in the Red group (just barely) by averaging 2 miles with a 10:42 pace. So...I'm stretching myself. I'm prepared to be the last of the Red Group/first of the Orange Group (greater than 11:00). Yeah...I'm dreaming big here. The upside is that I've stuck to torturing myself at least twice a week so increasing my training isn't so bad. Or pain free. Urg.

Motivation drives me forward and I'm having a tough time gathering it. One of my running partners may need to take the season slow thanks to a chronic issue. The other is training for the half with a different pace group and is not likely to meet me at 5:45 regularly to get a run in before work. Major is held hostage by the sheets every morning and is also significantly faster than me. I may have a Monday partner, but that leaves me two solo runs. There's more accountability when others are around, and I feel like I can challenge myself more when in a group. (Read: I'm less likely to run a two-mile out and back rather than a four-mile)

What I've learned my first full year of running is:
- there's always an excuse not to run. My ass, however, feeds off excuses and will grow.
- that burning knee pain should not be ignored. Apply ice and take glucosamine.
- I'm proud of my accomplishments.
- lined shorts may sound weird, but they really are awesome.
- having little boobs comes in handy - no boob/running pain!
- fries are treats. Treats should be enjoyed now and then.
- a one-story house is in our future - after a long run, i'm not coming back down from showering.

I'm sure there's more. Until then:

"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." John (the Penguin) Bingham .

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Names, Planes, and Automobiles.

So... in purchasing our tickets to Italy, I had a minor brain melt - what name would I be using after the wedding. Not sure how this simple step careened into a roller-coaster of stress for about half an hour but I wouldn't be true to myself if I didn't find a molehill to make a mountain out of. Sheesh.

In talking with Major about it, he assured me that he wouldn't be hurt if I didn't change my name. Of course, I had to ask him five different ways. The only question that came up was what name would any children have. His.  The more I think about it, the more I understand this: I am an only child. Yes, there are a good amount of people with my last name, most of which I'm not related to. It's been my name for almost 34 years and to me, changing a name is too much like changing identities. I know my Mom is going to make a face when I tell her, but that's just the way it's going to be. Here's hoping for smooth sailing all the way around.

After all of that, we did book our flight to Italy for our honeymoon/roz & raf's wedding/trip to visit Boyd. Now, how to cram Italy into 11 days.

As for automobiles, I jumped on my service soapbox upon receiving a 'service satisfaction survey' from VW after taking the car in for a free tire. I thought I had save my well-thought out email response, but it looks like that didn't' happen.  In summary, I stated that service has been in decline for a while and my biggest complaint was that service delays weren't being addressed. (Why is my car in the shop for 10 hrs when all I needed was an oil change? Do you or don't you have my tire and why is it taking so long to find out when I called ahead?)

Check out the subject line...

Subject: poor survice at A VW

Ms. R,
 I am sorry we miserably failed to provide you top quality service on you most recent visit. Your input is very valuable for A### VW to make necessary corrections to future serve customers. I think your assessment of your visit is one of the most accurate customer perception dialogs I have read. It most definitely boils down to poor communications between our advisors and you, our valued customer.
 I want you to know that is our goal to provide a "quality service, at a reasonable price" to all customers. I know we failed in this particular case and we are always looking for areas to improve. We have improved in overall customer service over the past few years but still need refinements.
 I most of all want to thank you for your business and loyalty to the brand and hope all your next visits to our dealer will exceed your expectations.
 I would like you to contact O for any future service needs. O has consistently been recognized as one of the top advisors in the U.S. and he has played a very important role in keeping  Volkswagen as one of the rated Customer Satisfaction Dealers in the Southern Region. His direct phone line is ####. I also would encourage want you to feel comfortable in calling me direct with any potential future issues.
Thank you for sharing your true thoughts and perception.

I love my car. Sadly, there isn't anywhere else for dealer service that's any better.  Now that I've had my say, we can resume your daily interwebs surfing. Thank you, come again.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Morning so far...and more

Got in a good 40-minutes at the gym: half running, half weights. That's two days in a row this week with an estimated 39 points I should earn for my March Madness team by the end of the day. Five of us have signed up for a workout challenge at work for the next month. D has been down and out for the past few days, so we're going to have to hustle to make it up. Ahhh... but the payoff is weight loss and a lower BMI. WOOT!

Got to my desk this morning, Little Bird bought herself and myself a Jamba smoothie. Yum! Which I then dribbled on my blouse. Doh! Fortunately, Nic next to me had her trusty Tide pen. It may be a great day after all. Too bad I forgot my lunch at home. Do'h.

Quiz tonight, Quiz Thursday with a trainee in tow. Tired as I'll be this month, the income will help pay for next month's baking/etc class and my CIA class in May. MmmMmmm.

E-pics came in the mail from JSperos yesterday. Will upload to shutterfly this week and order the Save the Date Postcards. And my cute shoes for the wedding came in last night, too!

Still to do this month, gather addresses. Take art to tattoo guy. Get my bake on at least twice.

Experimented with a recipe from work's health site: Low-fat Lentil Meatballs. Not too bad. I'll have to experiment with the seasonings to get it to my liking. And I think I'd like to try this with lamb and feta. Drool.

Traditional meatballs can be awfully high in fat. By choosing a lean meat to start, extending it with lentils and then baking (not frying) the meatballs, you will cut the fat by 50 percent if not more.
Takes Over 60 minutes
Makes 8 servings


cup (240 ml) low-sodium chicken broth or water
cup (2 oz/60 g) green, brown or red lentils
oz (360 g) lean ground beef, pork or turkey
medium onion, minced
cloves garlic, minced
large egg whites, lightly beaten
tablespoons ketchup
tablespoon dried Italian seasoning herbs

pinch crushed fennel seed (optional)
teaspoon salt
teaspoon freshly ground pepper
cup (1 1/2 oz/50 g) fresh breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat
3 1/2
cups (28 oz/840 g) favorite spaghetti sauce
pound (500 g) spaghetti, preferably multi-grain
tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves or chopped fresh parsley
cup (1 oz/30 g) freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese


1. In a small saucepan, bring broth or water to a boil. Add lentils and bring back to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside for 20 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 375°F (185°C). Line a baking sheet with sides with aluminum foil and set a wire rack on top.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine meat, onion, garlic, egg whites, ketchup, Italian herbs, crushed fennel seed (if using), salt and pepper. Drain any liquid from the lentils and add them to the meat mixture. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Add breadcrumbs and mix gently just to blend. Form the mixture into 24 meatballs, each one about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. Set on the wire rack and bake for 20 minutes.
4. In a deep, heavy skillet or Dutch oven, heat spaghetti sauce. Add the baked meatballs and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in fresh basil or parsley.
5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and place in a large shallow serving dish. Top with the meatballs and sauce. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Source: Healthy Living Kitchens

Monday, February 22, 2010


Sticking to working out has been a challenge. I can't get up at five to run. I need to get up at five to run. I have to start going to sleep by ten. Who's alseep by ten? I need to lose five pounds. Just five. That's two BMI points for me. Two.


Another challenge: Parenting. It's tough, I get it. Parenting a step-child has it's separate challenges (thanks to my step-mother who's always loved me as her own). Autism/aspergers boy-child. Who sees me as the Mean Rule Maker. I'm thirty-three and I still want to be care free. Makes it tough to set an example to someone who reads you literally. Jokes need to be explained, "why" can't be answered with "because," disruptions to order are devastating. He is a great kid that knows so much about our solar system - Jupiter is 2.5 times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined; the distance between Neptune and the Sun is 4.55 billion km. Patience, young grasshopper.

How is it the end of February? Nine months to W Day. Wow.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Back on the Saddle Week 1, Day 2

This is the third year where I've committed to being more healthy and fit.

The first year, I was well into a routine at the gym and changing my eating
habits. No more ice cream three nights a week, no more weekly happy our
beer and carb party, no more cheese and cracker dinners. This helped me
shed ten pounds.

Last year, I finally had better income (making it easier to eat more than
cheese and crackers) and decided to take up running in lieu of going to the
gym. I successfully trained for and completed a half-marathon, along with
other benchmark goals. No weight-loss, but better toning of leg muscles.

It's now 2010. This year brings a cruise and wedding. And maybe a full
marathon with some smaller races in-between (!!!!). Can I at least lose 5
pounds? 10? Some fat please? This is where it's really going to hurt... I
love food. I love starches, and carbs, and sugar, and butter, and lard.
Combined, separated, in that order or not, fried, but still in moderation.
I appreciate veggies in all forms. The balance will be in feeding myself,
the Major and the Boy. The picky-eating, hate new things Boy.

2mi/24 min
131 lbs.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year

So far, a new baby has been added (Congrats, Jason & Claudia), another engagement (Ryan & Barb), and a new decade has occurred. Ahead, more wedding planning, house fixin' and traveling.

Not too many holiday pics this year. Too sick to party it up. That, and everyone is so busy... maybe in the next few weeks...

Good times...