The Uniform

Chef BethI’m forever going on about my dorky uniform… well, here’s a photo of me not in my full uniform:

That’s right… no checkered pants, no kerchief tied as a cravat, no hair up in a skullcap, no apron, no towels, no ugly non-slip shoes. Why? Because I had plans that the photography seminar interrupted. But the photographer who was working with us for the food photography stuff offered to do headshots for all of the attendees free of charge. (There were only six of us, so it’s not like we broke the bank.) This was the second shot of me… I was the only person who got the full body shot because my Vans amused him. “Oh, we’ve got to get a full body shot! Your shoes are just too much!” I had to laugh. They are, after all, my signature.

Anyway, because no one was going to be on campus and because they didn’t let students know about the seminar until Wednesday and because I already had plans (yes, I’m feeling very run-on-sentency) that I had to readjust in order to attend this seminar thingie, I broke the “all in or all out” rule. We’re supposed to be “all in” our uniform or “all out” of it. I was neither all in, nor all out. My chef’s smock was the only part of my uniform I was in… And I wasn’t going to wear my ID badge and lanyard because that’s just stupid. Oh, before you ask… yes, chef’s have their own version of a pocket protector, but it’s on the sleeve. I keep my BLUE Sharpee and BLUE mechanical pencil (you can take the nerdy girl out of engineering, but you’ll never get the nerd out of the girl!) in mine.

Please note, chef’s smocks aren’t meant to be figure flattering. And they absolutely achieve that goal.

Last, but not least–and completely unrelated to the photo–I’m off to see a surgeon tomorrow about getting a cyst removed from my neck. It’s been there for a few years, but decided to double in size two weeks ago. And it’s still growing. It’s about the size of a golf ball. My doctor gave me the referral on Friday, but the earliest appointment to see a surgeon was for May 14. I had to point out the cyst is continuing to grow (which it is), is quite painful (it’s sore to the touch), and my skin has a tendency to rupture (which it does). Amazing how they found an opening in tomorrow’s schedule. I told them I want a plastic surgeon handy to ensure I don’t end up with a scary looking scar on the back of my neck. We’ll see how that pans out…

Alrighty, I’m exhausted! See you later!

Unbirthdayish

I’m 37 years of age for just a few scant hours. 38 years ago tomorrow morning, I introduced myself to the world at 6:01 a.m. (I’ve always been an early riser.)

As you may recall from from previous posts, I have rules where birthdays are concerned. Here’s a refresher:

    1. Thou shalt not work on or around thy birthday.
    2. Thou shalt never lie about thine age.
    3. Thou shalt celebrate thy birthday as frequently as possible.
    4. Thou shalt stretch thy birthday celebration out as long as humanly possible.
    5. Thou shalt have ice cream cake from Baskin-Robbins and the dinner of thy choosing; the order of which you partake of these goodies is up to the birthday person.
    6. Thou shalt never turn down presents.

I have two sort of/sometimes rules:

    1. Thou shalt try to travel on or around thy birthday.
    2. Thou shalt attend a baseball game in celebration of thy birthday.

For the first time in many years, I’m planning to violate most of my rules this year. The first os the most painful… I’m working and going to school tomorrow. Ghastly, I tell you! Had I not quit the horrible company, I would’ve called in sick and stayed the night at Ethan and Adri’s tonight. I still would’ve gone to class (I’m committed to holding my perfect attendance streak). But since I’ve only been with the new office for a week, I’m going in tomorrow. Shameful. I won’t be violating Rule #2. I’ll be 38 tomorrow. I’ve earned every single second of every minute of every hour of every day of every year of my life. They’re all mine, for better or worse. Rule #3 will be frugally observed. Rule #4 may last two weeks. Embarrassing. Rule #5 is a wash. I have considered picking up a cake for myself, but that’s just not the same. Rule #6… I accepted flowers today (I’ll circle back to this later). As for the “sort of/sometimes” rules. They’re both a total bust. All in all, it’s a very unusual birthday this year.

Auntie Beth and the LittlesI did celebrate today with Julie, Ethan, Adri, and the littles. Ever try to coordinate smiles for a photo involving a three-year-old and a one-year-old? Yeah. Good luck with that. Ethan, Adri, and the kids drove up from Mission Viejo, Julie drove in from Brentwood, and I drove down from Pasadena. We ended up eating about a mile down the street from our childhood home. It was fun!

Adri had to drive separately as she had a memorial service she had to attend this morning so we all beat her to the restaurant. When she arrived, she was carrying roses and a card they had for me. The card is hilarious. Even better, Adri ran across the card eight months ago–eight months ago!–and has been holding it for my birthday. It screamed my name when she read it and I have to concur. The card reads:

FRONT: “Nothing could ever stop me from wishing you a happy bir-”

INSIDE: “Oh look, a squirrel!”

The LittlesThe LittlesThe LittlesConsidering my affinity for squirrel jokes and comments, it’s incredibly fitting and made me laugh hard. She also had a bouquet of Double Delight roses. My favorite. I don’t know that she knows they’re my favorite, but they are. They’re white roses with red around the edges of each petal. Ultra feminine and pretty. My papa gave me a Double Delight rose bush when I was a little kid and I suppose that’s the biggest reason why I love them, but the fact that they’re beautiful strengthens the draw. I put them in a glass milk bottle when I arrived home and I’ve decided to take them to work and put them on my desk since I’m not home long enough each day to enjoy them here. I’d rather stare at them at my desk, wouldn’t you?

And yes, those are photos of the littles before Auntie Beth scooped up a niece and hugged a nephew for some pictures. I’ll get more than a few hours with them next weekend since I’ll stay over at their house on Saturday night to spend Easter with them on Sunday. (Oh, and Henrik is wearing the “Auntie Beth shoes that match her” that he got for his birthday… yes, Auntie Beth has the exact same pattern on one pair of her Vans.)

Alright, folks… I’m exhausted! I had a very busy weekend (I didn’t even get to yesterday’s activities) and a loaded weekend in the kitchen (I’ll have to expound on that later as well) and I have another busy week ahead of me. I’ll enjoy my birthday as much as possible, but I still maintain it’s a bit unbirthdayish…

Food as Love

I arrived safely in Colorado on Tuesday afternoon. My flight was legitimately hilarious! The flight crew could appear in a comedy club and effectively bring the house down. I have never heard such funny stuff coming over a plane’s PA. I’m writing a compliment letter to Southwest bragging on the flight crew because they deserve the kudos.

Yesterday, my mama made me her chicken enchiladas and chilis and cheese. Oh my. Words cannot properly express just how much I love those two dishes! My mom’s been having some health problems over the past two weeks and I was on the phone with my folks last week when Dad asked what I’d like Mom to make for me while I was home. First thing out of my mouth was “chicken enchiladas”… no hesitation. I can make them, but I don’t. The people in my tummy were exceptionally happy!

When I awoke today, I found six inches of snow already on the ground and more falling from heaven. AWESOME! I was hoping against hope for snow! And I got it! Fantastic! I was (and am) stoked, to say the least… the snowy weather compelled me to cook. So cook I did.

I prepared beef burgundy (boeuf bourguignon), baked potatoes, cottage cheese bread, and brownies with a ganache. It was way too much food for my parents and I so I invited Debbie, Andy, Ruth, Abby, and Lucy to dindins.

For me, food is an expression of love. And I absolutely love to cook for those whom I love. I love cooking for people I’ve never met or mere acquaintances, but that’s no comparison to the joy I derive from cooking for people in my life. I enjoy it immensely. The beef burgundy proved to be very easy to prepare and unbelievably delicious (thank you, America’s Test Kitchen!). The cottage cheese bread is the recipe Mom has made for years. I know, I know… it sounds repulsive. No way, Jose. It’s fabulous. The bread is perfect for serving with soups and stews. Should I ever have a restaurant, I’d serve it. And people would eat it and love it! The brownies are my recipe from class… complete with the ganache. They didn’t turn out quite as well as they should’ve became for some reason Mom turned off the oven while they were baking. I couldn’t figure out why they were taking so long to bake… turns out it was because there was no 350° F heat in that oven. <sigh> So they were a bit gooeyer (gooeier? gooier?) than to be expected, but tasty nonetheless.

But everything was made with love. And lots of it.

It was great to see Debbie. I have missed her incredibly. We try to talk on the phone regularly, but that’s not the same as sharing space. This is true of all relationships of value.

So Mom cooked for me with love and I cooked for my folks and friends with love as well. That’s the best part of food, I think.

P.S. I love me some Marvel movies! I’m watching “Thor: The Dark World” for the first time and the one-liners from Loki and Darcy are so witty. So very, very witty. I am cracking up! Alright… leaving now. Bye!

Smokin’ Hot

I’m the one who’s smokin’ hot, but we’ll get to that in a minute…

You can pick yourself up off of the floor now. Three posts in as many days. What is the world coming to? Pull yourself together, man! I just have some honest to goodness free time that is allowing me the luxury of typing up a blogpost. Or three. That doesn’t mean I don’t think about you during the busy days, okay?

Okay… so I got my hair trimmed today and the results are nothing short of stunning. I really am a natural blonde (I’ve got the photos dating back to birth to prove it), but what most people don’t realize is that most of the natural blonde population still pays to have color done on their hair. Why?! Because, in my case, dishwater blonde or dirty blonde–whatever you want to call it–is dull. Highlights and/or lowlights add dimension to the hair, that’s all. I usually get highlights. Mario decided to actually darken my hair today. Believe it or not, it’s very close to my natural color. I shouldn’t have much of a root check as this grows out because it’s that close. And the man did some incredible trim work and shaping of my coif. It’s stunning. And smokin’ hot.

There’s only one problem with that, though. I’m not dating anyone and didn’t have plans with any friends this evening. What a waste of fantastic hair! Never you mind, though. I put on a light coat of make-up (flat powder, blush, toner, and lip gloss), threw on an attractive ensemble of clothes, and took myself to dinner at Cheesecake Factory.

“Beth, table for one!”

That’s right. I flew solo. With my iPad. It’s remarkably relaxing to take oneself out to dinner and just sit and read or people watch or both.

I splurged and ordered the most blissful raspberry lemonade, muddled by the bartender himself. Absolutely sublime. I had some bread, but not all of the bread. And I ordered their Crispy Chicken Costoletta. The lemon flavor played off of the breaded chicken cutlet nicely; however, the lemon sauce itself wasn’t a texture I liked with the chicken. It made the crunch get a bit soggy. Had it been a gravy and the cutlet been schnitzel that would’ve been fine. But it wasn’t and it wasn’t. Get it? I consumed one-third of the chicken and one-half of the mashed potatoes. I brought the rest home to reheat later. I did eat all of the asparagus because it’s green, good for me, and I like the stuff! I also ordered a piece of cheesecake to go, a treat for getting all of my laundry and vacuuming done.

While it doesn’t bother me in the least to sit by myself in a restaurant, I do find the looks on some faces to be interesting. There will be a man or woman who sees me dining alone or being led to my table all by my li’l ol’ self and the look on their face says, “Huh? How can she dine alone? I don’t get it!” What’s not to get? I’m not dating a guy and therefore don’t have a date with whom to dine… and I didn’t have plans with friends or family so I wouldn’t be joining anyone I adore for this evening’s activities. I don’t do this often, but every once in a while I like to get dolled up and enjoy the fact that I’m lookin’ that good and take myself out to dinner if there isn’t someone available to take me or go with. This is one of those single person conundrums. Thankfully for me, I’m confident and independent enough to just go to dinner on my own. And it was a delightful night out.

I hope your evening was as pleasant as mine. Now if you don’t mind, I must excuse myself to read for church.

P.S. We’re still rockin’ and rollin’ in these parts. I was down in the O.C. for my hair yesterday and was stopped at a red light when the 4.1 quake hit. It moved my car quite impressively. Granted, I was this close to the epicenter. But still…

FREEDOM!

Oh, wow…

I practically danced out of the worst office I’ve ever had the misfortune of working in because… I’m done! Hallelujah! Now I have a week off of work before starting the new job on April 7. Even better, I aced my finals on Wednesday and have my evenings free until April 7, as well.

Earlier this week, I was so excited about my impending freedom that I forked over eighty bucks to move up my flight home by a day. I’m flying out Tuesday afternoon instead of 0-dark-30 on Wednesday. I’ll be in Colorado through late Sunday. Yeah! (Is it too much to hope for some snow while I’m there?)

This week hasn’t been superb for weight loss, but I still lost a whole pound. Works for me. Every little bit counts, right? Ha! If I feel compelled, I can go to the gym while I’m home. I’ll have the time, after all. More importantly, I have plans with the girls for a Ronald Star Day, hanging out at Debbie’s on Saturday, and family dinner on Friday night. I also have in a request for my mom’s enchiladas. Mmmm… you may think your mama’s enchiladas are the best, but I really do love my mom’s the most!

I talked to my folks today and found out my mom finished my quilt. And it really is my quilt. It’s California king in size and the pattern is called God’s Eye. It’s blue and gold with the patterns leaning toward sun, moon, and stars. It started as a throw and ended up as a Cal-king. Totally serious. After piecing the entire top, I pinned together the backing, batting, and top, and she’s been doing the actual “quilting” or top stitching. I can do it, but it drives me bananas to do it by machine because I’m not as precise as I’d like. Mom is a master quilter so she agreed to do it for me so I could maintain what’s left of my sanity. But she told me today that it’s finished. I had planned to bring it out here, but I think I’ll leave it in Colorado under her supervision. It’ll be safe and sound and I don’t have to find a place to store it.

Last night and tonight I’ve had lofty plans. I’ve been catching up on my television watching. And loving every minute! Lazing in my pajamas while doing laundry. Tomorrow I’m getting my hair trimmed, washing my car, and depositing my paycheck at the bank. Yeah! Fun, fun, fun. Sunday church is on the docket and I’m hoping to do very little of note on Monday, too. I should have all of my Spring cleaning done before I take off on Tuesday, though, and that makes me excited! I do want to have something to show for my week off of work.

So there you have it, folks. I’m free and loving it!