One Day I Will Have My Act Together

14 10 2009

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I have been out of work since January, although between freelancing and blogging, I have never been so busy. Thankfully, I know myself well enough to know that this working-at-home thing is just not for me, especially when I have an eager 4 year old constantly clamboring for attention and it usually has something to do with ballet, artwork, or Barbie.

I'm distracting? Nahhhhh!

I'm distracting? Nahhhhh!

Don’t get me wrong. I love my daughter, but it’s also hard to work when you are constantly under siege and basically not allowed to finish a thought, let alone an article. Yeah, I know, it’s called being a mommy.

Frustrated, though I may be, I get the occasional moment of reflection and I think I may well be both ADD and OCD at the same time. Really, it’s the only explanation I can muster for the piles of projects that are mounting around me. One day, I will be a grown-up and actually finish what I start. Promise!

Speaking of Unfinished Business…

Last week, I visited the Dublin Village Tavern with my Tastecasting peeps. All in all, it was a fantastic night, despite my being uncomfortably full afterward (damn their hospitality!). Read the official review here. Tonight, we’re visiting the Top Steakhouse and I swear I will actually write a review in this space. It could even happen tonight – I’m kinda madcap like that.

Bangers and Mash at the DVT

Bangers and Mash at the DVT

Just to clarify – Tastecasters are not food critics. Our job is to build awareness, announce grand openings, introduce new menu items, distribute special offers, and encourage people to visit various establishments. We are treated to a free meal in exchange for this effort.

Wild About Harry

I have had a virtual love affair with Harry Connick Jr. since I saw “When Harry Met Sally” for the first time. I fell in love with my college boyfriend to that soundtrack and have followed Harry ever since. I have always loved his dreamy vocal style, loved him as an actor – especially for his role on “Will and Grace” – and loved him even more for his efforts to restore his beloved New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Now, my man has released “Your Songs,” which is a collection of modern classics with Harry’s special twist. Truly, this album is sheer magic.

Harry

Want to Get Your Hands on a Copy? Here’s How.

Tell me your love story. I want to know how you and your honey first met and knew it was for real. Post your story in the comments and I’ll randomly select the lucky recipient of Harry’s latest album Friday night. Winner will be informed via email.

Good luck!

(Note: Thanks to One2One Network for providing me with two copies of the disc – one to review and one to give away)





United We Blog…Divided We Blog Anyway

24 03 2009

bald_blogger

I’ve been invited to participate in a project that will either prove or disprove the power of social media – the Columbus Social Media Cafe is experimenting with the idea of having multiple bloggers write about a single topic on a given day, and I plan to be one of those bloggers. But the question now is a topic – what shall we all write about? Also, if you’re an interested social media-type in Columbus who is available next Monday night for a meeting, shoot me an email and I’ll give you all of the details if you’d like to participate.

Meanwhile, I’m pondering human nature – why do some people feel that it is perfectly acceptable to be rude to total strangers? The reason I’m asking is because I made a pit stop at a gas station today and The Baby threw a fit because I wouldn’t let her grab a package of pop-tarts off of the display. Some woman made a rude comment under her breath about how I should have just let her have it. Of course, I now have the perfect comeback, but that didn’t come to me until after I second-guessed my choices as a parent and then felt the need to defend my actions to a total stranger. So, which was more offensive – her rudeness? Or my need to explain myself?

flying-bitchslap

And, in case you’re keeping score at home, I am still looking for work, but I think it’s time to entertain my options as a freelance writer. I’ve been on a bunch of interviews and many have  managed to be both awkward and overly competitive at the same time. Rather than allow myself to get to a position where I am desperate for work, I’m ready to start being selective in terms of the projects I take on. So, if you know of anyone who is looking for a writer, please refer them to In So Many Words…, my marketing/advertising blog.





There’s a Lot to be Said For Total Honesty

20 03 2009

nametag1

I have now been unemployed for nearly three full months, and while it seems like years, I’m grateful that I’ve been allowed to gain both perspective and clarity of thought. Translation: I’m done “settling” and want a great job, despite the fact that staying at home with The Baby is starting to wear on me. As any job-hunter knows, the process entails being able to communicate one’s thoughts both clearly and professionally. However, wouldn’t it be great if we could tell employers what we really thought during the interview process? I’ve given this a great deal of thought, particularly since I hate writing cover letters. They’re painful to write and really, all I really want to do is beg them to just hire me already.  So, in a perfect world, this would be my cover letter:

Dear Hiring Manager,

I am writing to apply for the XXX position advertised on XXX.com.

While my resume shows that my background is perfectly suited to your job requirements, as are my career goals, I would like to talk about something more important – me. First and foremost, I am a good person. I don’t lie, cheat, or steal. I’m not the office d-bag that talks behind people’s backs, plus I put thought into what I pack for lunch so I don’t stink up the joint. Co-workers and clients like me – they think I’m a great girl who does amazing work.

I’m not a job-hopper, as I need stability in my life. I have an amazing little girl who tells me I’m her hero and I take that responsibility much more seriously than any job. I want to be someone she can respect and be proud to call her mommy.

Money is not an issue. Maybe that’s not entirely true, but I am willing to lower my asking price if you’ll just give me a chance. All I ask is that you pay me a salary that will help support my unfortunate gum habit. Yes, I am ashamed to admit that I am a chronic gum-chewer, but I have learned to chaw unobtrusively, plus it helps relieve the tension I feel under deadlines.

Can I do the job? Yes. Do I want the job? Absolutely. For the love of God, call me. I’ve been out of work for three months and my daughter is driving me insane with her incessant demands for Care Bears videos and trips to the playground.


Respectfully,

Me





In Need of a Distraction

28 02 2009
Ouch!

Ouch!

After spending the week fulfilling various writing assignments, covering everything from mother-in-law TMI to commercials that employ the use of flowing armpit hair, there comes a time where the assignments are done and all of the housework is completed, and I have to focus on the issue at hand: looking for work is starting to really get to me.

I am not used to being unemployed and, truthfully, I don’t do it well. I actually enjoy being overly busy with a an overflowing inbox and a line of people outside my office. It makes me feel useful and necessary. However, leave me at home with nothing to do but scan job listings and tackle a mountain of housework, and I am completely at a loss and, most likely, a hostage whatever topic is being discussed on “The View.”

Then, there are those well-meaning souls who constantly ask, “how’s the job search going? Have you found anything yet?” Could I feel like more of a loser as they ask those questions and give me Pity Eyes?

Yes, I know I’m not alone in this situation and it will get better. The right job (as opposed to just any job) is out there somewhere. I just have to keep looking. We will find each other.

Thankfully, I can always bake (which is so much more fun than obsessive cleaning!). This month’s Daring Bakers Challenge – Chocolate Valentino Cake – consists of three simple ingredients and how you interpret them is part of the challenge. This is a very dense and fudgey cake that forms a brownie-like crust on the top.

This month’s challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE’s blog and Dharm of Dad – Baker & Chef. This month, we made a Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Valentino, inspired by Malaysia’s “most flamboyant food ambassador”, Chef Wan. The recipe comes from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan. Notes in parentheses are from Wendy and Dharm.

A few notes before you get started:

  • Use your favorite chocolate – the finished cake will taste exactly like the chocolate you use. Be creative with your chocolate, if you like a sweeter cake use milk chocolate or a combination of the semisweet and milk chocolate. If you like bittersweet chocolate use that and add sweetness by mixing the semi sweet with bittersweet. If you are daring, try white chocolate. (Dharm used all bittersweet and Wendy used a half bitter/half semi sweet chocolate).
  • A higher cacao percentage increases the bitterness of the chocolate.
  • Equipment – it is optional to use a heart shaped pan. For a real Valentino, bake it in a heart shaped pan or cut it out into a heart shape. You may use any shape pan that gives you an area of 50” – 6×8 or 7×7. An 8” spring form pan works with great results as do smaller pans or ramekins.
  • An instant read thermometer highly recommended.
  • I am a total crapweasel, as I did not have the time (or the inclination as unemployment tends to make us Type A’s a tad depressed) to make my own ice cream, so I used what Hubs bought on sale at Kroger.

Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Dharm’s Ice Cream Recipe
Classic Vanilla Ice Cream
Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Recipe comes from the Ice Cream Book by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis (tested modifications and notes in parentheses by Dharm)

Ingredients
1 Vanilla Pod (or substitute with vanilla extract)
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Semi Skimmed Milk – in the U.S. this is 2% fat (or use fresh full fat milk that is pasteurised and homogenised {as opposed to canned or powdered}). Dharm used whole milk.
4 large egg yolks
75g / 3oz / 6 tbsp caster sugar {superfine sugar can be achieved in a food processor or use regular granulated sugar}
5ml / 1 tsp corn flour {cornstarch}
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Double Cream (48% butter fat) {in the U.S. heavy cream is 37% fat)
{you can easily increase your cream’s fat content by heating 1/4 cup of heavy cream with 3 Tbs of butter until melted – cool to room temperature and add to the heavy cream as soon as whisk marks appear in the cream, in a slow steady stream, with the mixer on low speed. Raise speed and continue whipping the cream) or use heavy cream the difference will be in the creaminess of the ice cream.

1. Using a small knife slit the vanilla pod lengthways. Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan, add the vanilla pod and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse
Lift the vanilla pod up. Holding it over the pan, scrape the black seeds out of the pod with a small knife so that they fall back into the milk. SET the vanilla pod aside and bring the milk back to the boil.
2. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and corn-flour in a bowl until the mixture is thick and foamy. 3. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over a gentle hear, stirring all the time
4. When the custard thickens and is smooth, pour it back into the bowl. Cool it then chill.
5. By Hand: Whip the cream until it has thickened but still falls from a spoon. Fold it into the custard and pour into a plastic tub or similar freeze-proof container. Freeze for 6 hours or until firm enough to scoop, beating it twice (during the freezing process – to get smoother ice cream or else the ice cream will be icy and coarse)
By Using and Ice Cream Maker: Stir the cream into the custard and churn the mixture until thick (follow instructions on your ice cream maker)

Wendy’s Ice Cream Recipe
Vanilla Philadelphia Style Recipe
Preparation Time: 5 minutes

2 cups (473 ml) of half and half (1 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of whole, full fat milk)
1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
2/3 (128 grams) cup sugar
Dash of salt
1 (12 grams) tablespoon of vanilla

Mix all ingredients together (we do this in a plastic pitcher and mix with an emulsifier hand blender-whisking works too).
Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer
Mix in your ice cream maker as directed.

David Lebovitz link for making ice cream if you do not have an ice cream freezer.

Links to helpful tips:
Folding video demonstration.
Egg Whipping video demonstration.

heart-brownie_thumb

db





Riddle Me This

13 01 2009

media_monkeys

For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook or LinkedIn (shame on you!), I am now an official source of knowledge. I received a call yesterday from a reporter at msnbc.com (thanks to my pal Kelby at Type-A Mom) for a story she was writing on the dangers of using Vicks Vapo Rub on little kids. For the record, I am pro-Vicks, when used correctly. Read all about it here. While I’m thrilled to have been asked, I’m a bit disturbed and perplexed. Apparently, the national media now considers me a credible source because I have a child and a blog, never mind that I could, in theory, be some random crackpot. Ah, the power I wield just by having a vagina! Now, if only I could solve that whole women-making-78-cents-to-every-dollar-a-man-makes-for-the-same-job thing!

Since I have been out of work a whopping two weeks now, I have finally had the time to think about who I want to be and the image I want to project as a professional, which, of course, screams makeover. As a marketing maven, I prefer to refer to this as “personal branding.” However, it has finally dawned on me that as a woman, I am constantly in a state of reinvention – for a new job, new man, etc. – and, perhaps I don’t know the authentic me as well as I should. Is it possible that we all renovate ourselves on such a regular basis that we lose touch with our true selves? Did I mention that I have way too much time on my hands?

Since I have all of this free time, I have been putting it to good use – and Hubs’s waistline is reaping the benefits! I’ve been cooking quite a bit and am in the midst of deciding what I want to make tomorrow for dinner. I could go relatively healthy with a white bean-chicken chili concoction or go in a more interesting direction with mini burgers. Mind you, I’d have to bake the buns myself since I have a specific bread type in mind, plus I have limited fixins, so this could be a bit of a challenge. Any thoughts?

Finally, I’m still having trouble adding pictures to my post now that WordPress has updated their interface. Maybe it’s just my craptastic computer? What I need for this blog is a sponsor – someone who will litter my beautiful little blog with their garish
logos, but give me a really sweet new laptop in exchange for the free advertising. Any takers?





Ho-Ho-Hell Yeah!

26 12 2008

This may sound very un-mommylike of me, but I’m very glad that Christmas is over. No more frenzied baking, shopping, and moments of forced gaiety. And the minute I wake up on New Year’s Day, the Christmas crap is coming down! Monday, my dog managed to surprise me by moving the Christmas tree three times in the span of two hours. Not bad for a dog whose intellectual capacity generally rivals that of a bowling ball, eh? Despite my je-ne-sais-whatever (you do know that making up words is a slight obsession of mine, right?), The Baby had a great Christmas: lots of presents and great food, if I must say so myself. For those keeping track at home, dinner consisted of sweet pepper stew, sausage stuffed pork loin, garlic mashed potatoes, salad, crusty bread, and pecan pie.

Meanwhile, the job search resumes, now that the holiday machine is getting ready to grind to a screeching halt. Wednesday is my last day at work and it’s going to be a tough day. I never wanted to leave and maybe this would be easier to accept if I had done something wrong However, it is what it is (a layoff) and I don’t have time to sit and feel sorry for myself.

On a totally random note, what is the deal with WP? All of a sudden, I can’t insert photos into my posts. Why???





I Feel Like an Actual Writer Now!

11 12 2008

lifewriter06

Those who know me know that I write for Blissfully Domestic, which is a magazine for women, and I get to write about the things that I find fascinating – cooking, cleaning, organizing, etc. (yeah, I really SHOULD get out of the house more often!). This week I’m running a contest with prizes and everything. Check it out here.

Speaking of writing, I have all kinds of exciting prospective projects in the pipeline, so thanks, everyone, for your encouragement and well wishes.

Not looking forward to tonight. Hubs and I are having our weekly financial summit where we lay out bills and the calendar and plot out when things get paid. Not the most exciting thing, but it’s a great time for us to get everything straightened out and both of us on the same page.

Still having a hard time with the news of an old friend’s death. I learned about it on Facebook and what shocks me most is how soon her death happened after her father’s. My dad died 18 years ago (yesterday was the anniversary) and it was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. I still think about him everyday and miss him terribly. I wish I could have been able to talk to my friend about her feelings surrounding her dad’s death. The funeral is this Saturday and a lot of us are going. Not really the way I wanted to reconnect with my old friends.

I have to ask – what is it about the term “social media” that makes people’s ears perk up? I mentioned to a contact that I am involved in social media and consider myself somewhat of an amateur strategist. Suddenly, he starts asking all kinds of questions and throws ideas at me. Guess I’ll have to ponder that for a bit!