Sunday, January 31, 2010

Whatsfordinner, 1.31.2010.

One of the best benefits of knowing how to cook (or at least not being afraid of the kitchen), is when you need to make something for dinner and have no clue what to make, and it's too late to run to the store (meaning: your kid is hungry!). A simple pork chop, rice and veggie is always an easy option... but one can spice it up with a little garlic, rosemary, cayenne pepper and some Panko.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


I would not label myself a television junky. I won't fall over and die if I miss an episode of a certain show. And being at home all day I am proud to say that the television stays off (most days). I enjoy a few shows that are on, and actually have three evenings per week where nothing I care to watch is even on.

So since I am feeling so good about myself as a non-tv-junky... I looked at my DVR to see what shows, and how many, I record. Wow. I was a bit shocked. My DVR looks like I do nothing with my life but watch television. Below is what my DVR is set to record and my comments... and keep in mind that not all of these shows are on year round.

Chuck: the show is dorky and fun - very me.
How I Met Your Mother: less enjoyable than the previous seasons... I want to find out who the mother is!!!
The Secret Life of the American Teenager: TERRIBLE TV, but so addicting. I feel bad because I know I am about 25 years too old to be watching this show.
Life Unexpected: A new show which has been fantastic for the first two episodes.
The Big Bang Theory: Still fun.
Greek: LOVE THIS SHOW. This is my new Gilmore Girls. Perfect television.
Glee: Good, but not great. Not something I could watch over and over.
Flashforward: Love this show... when is it coming back... it is coming back? Right?!
The Middle: So Malcolm in the Middle, but funny.
Modern Family: Love it.
Ugly Betty: So sad it's getting cancelled, but it gets rid of one show for me.
Community: Thinking about dumping this soon... not very funny.
Parks And Recreation: Better than season one, but still very dumpable.
Grey's Anatomy: I should of dumped this last year.
The Office: Getting a little old.
30 Rock: Still love it... and I arrived very late.
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia: I am surprised to say this... but I am getting tired of it.
Project Runway: Perfect!
Private Practice: So much better than Grey's.
My Boys: Horrible, but I am addicted. Did this get cancelled?
10 Things I Hate About You: Another horrible show, but I watch it.
Parenthood: Starts in March and I have high hopes.

So that is not that bad... right?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Puppies at play.

Yesterday I wrote about a book and an author that meant a great deal to me... today my post is about a book that gets a whole lot of attention from the fifteen month old in our house.

Puppies At Play is a board book written by no one, or at least no one wanted to put their name on it (cannot blame them). It's fourteen pages long and has very few words. Miles wants us to read it to him over and over and over again. There are other books he picks, but this has been his all time favorite for some time now. We are actually on copy number two because of all the wear and tear... and I suspect copy number three is approaching soon. I can recite this book, and often find myself muttering lines from it. This book might just possibly be making me go crazy.

I hope this book, no matter how tired LP and I are of reading it, leads our little one to enjoy books and finding time to become a strong reader.

I can crawl around. We can run around.
I'm all worn out! Good night!
~Puppies At Play

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Whatsfordinner, 1.28.2010.

I believe this is the first time I have ever made a chili-mac recipe, and I am certain I will not use this recipe again. Out of America's Test Kitchens 30 Minute Meals, it was too easy to make, and really took no cooking skill. Open cans of this, cans of that, and combine with a box of this, and a box of that... oh, and cut and onion and some garlic. Recipes like this often taste boring (and often too salty) to me, and this one was right inline with preconceived ideas. Too processed even though I "cooked" it.

Next time we want a good chili-mac we just head over to the Harmony Grill... they do it really well but this is really a dish only for the winter months.


J. D. Salinger passed away today at the age of 91. I would just like to take this post to say thanks for showing me the wonderful world of the novel.

I was never one for reading. I struggled with it throughout my elementary and high school years. I can remember being made fun of by other classmates in high school whenever I had to read out loud since I would stumble over the words... and once I stumbled, it would escalate, and soon I was flat on my face. Then the teacher would say, "Next." So I learned to be afraid of reading, and quickly learned that you can pass high school without really reading. Yep, I even did alright in English classes without reading the books. Scary. I did not do so well on half of the S.A.T.

When I was in college my older brother, for some reason or another, gave me a book to read... maybe he noticed that I never read anything. The book was Breakfast At Tiffany's by Truman Capote. Since Breakfast is actually a short story it was included with three (?) other stories. It was a very easy read and something I could finish... one story at a time. I recall it taking me a couple months to read (do mostly to my lack of attention span, not my lack of enjoyment), but I did it. I was very proud of myself.

The next book my brother gave me to read was J. D. Salinger's The Catcher In The Rye. A real book, a novel, and not a short story. Another easy read. I adored the story. I was quickly wrapped up, in, and around the antics of Holden Caufield. I read as much as I could every day, often re-reading parts since I clearly missed things on the first read. Then after a couple months I finished it. I had accomplished something I had never done before... I read a novel strictly for enjoyment purposes. I was well aware at the time that kids five years younger than me could read this book in a day, but that did not matter. I was proud, and I only wanted to read more.

To celebrate my accomplishment, years later I found, in good condition, an early edition of Catcher. I try to read it yearly, or even just pick it up and read a few pages now and then. My love of books and stories is bigger than my time for them, but I hope to one day be able to find the time. I still struggle with reading, but the more I read (and write) then better I get. I still often daydream a bit too much (usually when I am tired), but books seem to always be on my to-do list. I hope my love of books and LP's strong reading skills rub off on the munchkin since being a strong reader will take you far.

It's really too bad that so much crumby stuff is a lot of fun sometimes. ~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 9

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I made a pledge to myself a few weeks ago that I was going to stop watching American Idol. The show has seen better days, and the past few seasons I have noticed myself getting so bitter over the number of people that make it to the top twenty who have had music deals in the past. I always thought this show was about discovering new talent, not about rehashing the past. Finding some dishwasher (the Susan Boyles of the world) who would never have any connections into the music industry who has an amazing voice is much better television (for me) than hearing some sob story about a person who was dropped from a major label contract a few years ago.

The day I made the pledge, I took American Idol off my DVR schedule and have not added it back since... But I have not missed an episode of the new season either. I am not sure why I cannot turn it off, but I just cannot seem to turn away. Sadly it seems to be better than most TV on these days (does it really?). I know I should just turn the TV off and open a book, but sitting on the couch with LP, a cat, and a beverage of choice just zoning out on television and Twitter (multi-tasking) is a fantastic way to unwind from the day (of course all of this is done after the munchkin is asleep).

I do not plan on adding the show to the DVR schedule... If I miss an episode, then I miss one (well, that's the plan for now).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Whatsfordinner, 1.26.2010.

I enjoy trying new things in the kitchen... and love the challenge of a fantastic heavily involved recipe. I also keep time open for an easy comfort food recipe that we make a couple times per year. Enchilada Casserole is such a dish... pure comfort food and perfect for a cold winter evening.

Monday, January 25, 2010

My hair.

My hair is the longest it's ever been, or at least the longest it has been in a long long long long time. I can form a small ponytail. My locks of hair are curly in the front, wavy and curly throughout the rest, and thick everywhere. When my hair grows out - it really grows out. I start to look like a clown or crackhead. The longer it gets the more crap (product) I have to use to tame the explosion, but this only leads to my super-curly-wavy-thick hair looking like a crap-product-semi-explosion.
.Each time my hair grows out I get to a point where I chop it off. My standard haircut aims to look like Morrissey, but it never really turns out that way. Not sure if it's because I have curly hair and this look is not possible, or that the person who cuts my hair is terrible (or just terrible at explaining that this look will not work). The end result is always too short, and too short on me means only one thing: Fat Face. I'm not fat, but super short hair makes me look like I have a fat face. Well, maybe I have fat face and short hair just does not hide it. Whatever the case, it looks like poop so I wear a ballcap. Right now most of my hats will not fit on my wideload head.

This week I am getting my haircut (first time is 6 months?) with someone new. I cannot decide if I want to go short, or if there is something I can do to keep it long. I don't mind the way Josh Groban keeps his hair (although his music makes me want to shoot myself), but I am not sure that is possible on me. Since my hair is headed in the direction of the late 1980's (think Warrant, Winger, Mr Big) I need some serious help. The fro-frizz-monster needs to end and I am not holding my breath that Josh Groban can save me.

Hope this person cutting my hair knows the headache she is getting into. I will keep you updated.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Whatsfordinner, 1.22.2010.

Skillet Arroz Con Pollo was what I attempted to make for dinner tonight. Easy recipe and it turned out tasting better than it looked. I need to keep reminding myself that when olives are apart of the ingredients list, I do not need add salt (even when it says too). There is enough salt in the olives to season the dish.

Bad luck signs.

I am not a superstitious person. Never have been. Okay, maybe when I was in my single digit years, and maybe in my tween years (which were called pre-teen at the time), but I have not held on to those pseudo-spooky ideas. However the idea of superstitions are very intriguing, and a bit fun. I can easily get sucked into articles and television shows about the origins of superstitions.

Some of my favorite superstitions:
-If your nose itches, someone is coming to see you. If it's the right nostril, the visitor will be a female, left nostril, male.
-If the bottom of your right foot itches, you are going to take a trip.
[So what happens if your left nostril itches and the bottom of your right foot itches... does this mean you will be going on a trip with the man arriving at your door? Is it to Po-Po?]
-To drop a fork means a man is coming to visit.
[Another man? More Po-Po? My attorney?]
-A bed changed on Friday will bring bad dreams.
-Any ship that sails on Friday will have bad luck.
-To break a mirror means 7 years bad luck.
[What if it's a really small mirror?]

And my personal favorite...
-Keep cats away from babies because they "suck the breath" of the child.

I have though noticed in a past few weeks that superstitious signs have been popping up... just a tad late. The evening I chopped my finger a couple weeks back I saw a black cat cross our path on the way to the ER. Then on Wednesday I burned my hand and about thirty minutes later I spilled the salt.

I'm not sure what all of this means... but if it is some kind of sign from the world beyond that I should start believing in superstitions - PLEASE get your timing corrected. Or maybe this all just means I need to stay out of the kitchen.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


This year my new year's resolution was to be more positive. I found that I needed to lose the negativity in my life that often brews inside me and comes out in different ways, usually as a foul attitude. This would seem simple enough, but once a negative attitude has become commonplace in my daily life it is not so easy to change the habit. Add in that primary elections are coming up next month so the television and newspapers are filled with negativity.

From the time I thought about changing my attitude I was focusing only on what I think about and what I say about (maybe write about) others. I need to find a way trim out the "he sucks" "she sucks" "they suck" "that's crap" spouts that shoot out of my mouth faster than my brain could process them. Being a sports fan it is easy to get into a routine of fun trash-talking... but then when the game is over that trash-talking continues... and then often it is not even fun anymore just mean spirited.

The other morning LP reminded me about something I never thought about - I need to change the way I look at myself. I need to lose the negativity towards myself. I get hung up on this positive self stuff as being too New-Age-y for me. Being unemployed for over a year can lead to depression... but instead I have taken to being extremely critical of myself. I have dedicated so much time to trying to figure out all of my failures and why I lack in so many areas. This constant berating of myself has worn me down in too many ways. How am I able to change the negativity that comes out of my mouth if I am not able to think positively about myself?

I do know the easy answer to feel better is finding a job. I know that if I get hired I will feel a certain self-worth that has been absent for a while. I also know that I cannot wait for others to change what is all mine... myself, my self-worth, my self-esteem. I have to realize that what good things people tell me they truly mean and that they are not just words. I need to remind myself every day that I am truly blessed to be a stay-at-home dad and that alone should fill me with more happiness and self-worth to last a life time.

"I just need somewhere to dump all my negativity."
- Van Morrison

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Whatsfordinner, 1.20.2010.

Chickpea cakes with a cucumber yogurt sauce. The recipe calls for Greek style yogurt, but I have found that using regular low fat plain yogurt works best. A good vegetarian option for dinner.

Tea is the new coffee.

I drink way too much. I am not talking about alcohol, I am talking about liquids in general. The biggest problem is that I consume beverages in record time... which then often makes me a bit gassy too. So to ignore the bigger issue (downing beverages in two swigs), I have decided to cut back on pop (soda, coke, etc.) and coffee.

So far this year I have only had two cans of Diet Cherry Coke (the pop currently in my house), and I am also doing well by stopping most mornings at one pot of coffee (which I share with LP). This all sounds really wonderful, except for the little fact that I have replaced these with tea. Lots of tea. Straight tea. No sugar, no milk. I try to drink mostly decaf, but in the mornings there is plenty of caffeine in the tea I am brewing.

I know there is this liquid called water that so many people rave about, some actually buy it in the store, but water is no fun. Sure, I understand that if you chug anything there is a strong possibility you never tasted it, but that still does not hide the fact that water is no fun. Sometimes I try to drink a glass of water while making a cup of tea, but that is a rarity. If I find myself getting the shakes later in the day, I do drink a couple glasses of water and eat some toast or something like that. I guess I am not anti-water, I just am not going to jump up and down about how great water is... and for those of you that do, please take a long hard look at yourself and see if you are lying or maybe you are just no fun.

The funny thing about all of this is that I see myself ODing on tea in the near future and will replace all of this with pot after pot of coffee - but hopefully the pop fix is gone for good.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Reminding vs Bugging.

Last December when I was in San Francisco, I went out to breakfast with a long time friend of mine. My friend asked me how life in Chicago was in which I replied, "Good, well except for the being unemployed part." My friend was so surprised that I still had not found a job. He asked if he could make some calls to people he knew in Chicago and of course I said yes. Who knows if he did or not... he is a busy, busy person. [I know what you are saying... Follow Up! I will, but I must tell you that this offer has been presented many times and nothing is ever done about it, so I am not sure why I should be so hopeful. Sometimes people just say things to make others feel good.]

This just got me thinking. How many of my friends, the "network" of people I know, have any idea that I am still looking for a job... and that I am really struggling to find a job? Besides keeping in touch with people, and posting things to FB and Twitter, what more can I do? I do not want to bitch and moan (or come across that way) every day about being unemployed and having almost no luck in the job search. So how do I balance the reminding/ informing and not the make it sound nagging/ bugging?

In 2009 I had ONE interview in Chicago. One. It's not the lack of work experience or poor cover letter / resume (I've been told mine are solid by many) - it is the lack of connections. I've been told this over and over. When a project manager position becomes open that I meet the requirements for (and also find), I am just one of hundreds who apply. I have no one to get me in the door. And being a stay at home dad has seemed to limit my social life... so my network of people seem to be further and further away.

Some think I am addicted to FB or Twitter... I might be, but I am not sure how else to let others know I am still here trying to find a job.

By the way, this marks my 500th post.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The mall.

MLKJ Day took us (the family of three) out to the 'burbs to the mall. The Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, IL to be exact. In the 5+ years we have lived in Chicago we have never been to the mall... and actually we've only have been to the 'burbs a handful of times. So why go? Why not. What's more fun than strolling around passing horrible trendy stores, mid-aisle kiosks, tween love, and funky smells from the food court? Answer: probably lots, but let's go anyway.

In the Vans store there are three teenage girls "working" when Tom Petty's "Refugee" comes on the stereo...

Girl #1: Who is this?
Girl #2: Ummmm.
Girl #3: I think it's the new Green Day.
Girl #2: Ummmm.
Girl #1: Really?

Sad to report, there is no official food court at Woodfield. They have random eateries scattered throughout the mall which is convenient for mid-mall snacking.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Jay Reatard.

Jay Reatard... you will be missed, and your music will be listened to for many years to come. Another loss for music and Memphis.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Old at the interview.

Just before Thanksgiving last year I had an interview for a project manager position at a company I was very interested in working for. I did the normal prep work to get ready... in fact I did extra because I wanted to come across well. Sharp. I studied up on the company and then figured out how my background as a PM would fit well with in this position. I went in feeling very confident.

I met with two other PMs at the company. They were in their (my guess) mid-twenties and had never given an interview before (my guess again). The interview did not flow like a conversation which most tend to these days. Instead they took turns reading questions from their clipboards. Important questions. Questions like: If you were a food, what kind would you be? and If we met your best friend what is one thing they would complain about you. No questions about my background. No questions about my skill set.

When they came across the question about naming my hobbies I listed off a few things and ended with the fact that I love chick-flicks. This answer triggered the first response from them which was, "Oh, then what is your favorite chick-flick?" Easy answer: Notting Hill (could of been You've Got Mail). They looked at each other and almost in unison said "Never heard of it." Ouch. I'm old. I knew right then I was probably ten years older than the two PMs and they were most likely thinking the same thing. I am sure they were looking for a new co-worker and BFF... and there was no way I was going to fill that role.

On my way home from the interview all I could think of was that my answer should of been "The Twilight Saga." I did not make it to round two.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Record Shopping.

A good day record shopping always does me well. Even if I spend no money. Flipping through rows and rows of 12"s is filled with excitement and a little bit of a history lesson. This morning's trip to Reckless had some good finds... and they gave me enough credit from my sell pile to pay for everthing I picked out. Very excited to find the UK version of Let It Bleed!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Whatsfordinner, 1.9.2010.

My first attempt at making Pad Thai. I would give the results a C+, but I have made enough notes that the next time around I am sure I can bump that up to a B+. I am not sure if I need a better recipe, or if it's just something that the more you make and tweak the better it gets.

But nontheless... it was a fun dinner to make before heading out for a night at the Opera House to see Merry Widow. Hopefully it's a good date night out. It will be a freezing cold night in downtown Chicago.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Sleep is changing.

My fourteen month old is going through some crazy sleeping cycles. He is in that period of losing his morning nap, but really not wanting to let go of it. So some days see no naps and extreme over-tiredness (cranky). Plus he has been congested and snotty which makes for poor sleeping. And on top of that... the kid has never been a good sleeper. These past few weeks we've been back to waking up three or four times per night to rock him back to sleep... just like when he was a newborn.

Parenting... it never stops.

Thursday, January 07, 2010


I am not sure how making cheese grits so quickly landed me at the ER, but strangely enough it did. I thought I would make some cheese grits with shrimp and ham for dinner since it was quick, easy, and also comfort food for a cold Chicago night. It was all pretty much done when I sliced off the top of my index finger when attempting too many things at one time... one of those being slicing scallions. Yep, the top of the finger was a few inches away from my finger on the cutting board.

Sure there was blood everywhere, but it did not look that bad (it's not like I chopped my finger in half). I bandaged it up and ate dinner (which ended up being way too salty because of the ham). When the blood would not stop I went next door to my neighbor who is a paramedic. She gave me the news that I needed to go to the ER. Grand. Just at the time Miles needs to go to bed, we have to hop in the car and head to the ER.

Everyone in the ER, which was busy, was sick. I was sure I was going to catch H1N1 there and probably should of asked for a face mask for my own protection (Miles & LP got the H1N1 shot). Since I was bleeding, they saw me fairly quick (and my BP was 190/110 so I was a little freaked out) and within an hour I was headed home. No stitches since the opening was too large. They just put some medical foam on which acts like skin. Oh the inventions of science.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Whatsforlunch, 1.6.2010.

The current book I am reading (Hot Dog: A Global History by Bruce King) is making me hungry for hot dogs. Thankfully Chicago is one of the best places on earth to get a great hot dog!

Thinking Republican.

I am not a Republican. I always tell people I don't make enough money to be a part of the GOP. I am not some extreme left wing Democrat either. I vote in every election and try to pick the best candidate, not just side with party lines. I tend to leave many spaces blank since I would rather not vote on a specific category I am not read-up on than to vote for the "wrong" candidate. Yep, all of those Judges and Country Sheriff spaces are left blank by me.

This year Illinois is looking at the second worst state financial crisis... California being first. Like many states, this year also holds elections for a Governor, a US Senator, and countless State House seats. Right now (and this could change) all I can think about is not voting for an incumbent. Period. This state is in so much debt, and the Democratic machine cannot seem to stop spending. What happens if there is another big dip in this recession?

Less spending and smaller government seem to look good right now... and at the same time health care seems good right now too (which is more spending). Maybe this is why I do not tend to write about politics.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Willie Mitchell R.I.P.

Willie Mitchell passed away today. A big part of the Memphis music scene, and one of the best producers ever to live. He will be missed. Here is a post I did a couple years ago about Willie...

5 of 9er... A Thoughtful Gift.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Whatsfordinner, 1.4.2010.

Spaghetti Puttanesca with Flaked Tuna out of the America's Test Kitchen magazine was tonight's dinner. Quick and easy to make... a recipe that most, if not all, of the ingredients are already in the house. I would use low salt diced tomatoes next time since it was a little salty for me. Also shrimp or salmon would be better than tuna.

Back to unemployment.

I am not going to make 2010 another year of whining about being unemployed, but this morning it was a bit difficult to read through posts about everyone going back to work. Only one person was actually excited to go back to work, and this person owns his own company. I truly feel left out... I want to complain about going to work too.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Whatsfordinner, 1.3.2010.

I do not tend to cook much Asian food, but decided to add two new recipes to this week's dinner menu. Both came out of the America's Test Kitchen's magazine and both are fairly simple to make... just called for a few ingredients that are not stocked in my kitchen. This noodle receipe was great for a day when I find myself with a little bit of a cold. The fresh ginger and chili-garlic sauce blended well with the chicken and spinach and opened my clogged nose right up! A good cold weather dinner.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Whatsfordinner, 1.1.2010.

News Years has started off right this year... with good food. Sure I am hoping for employment, but knowing the call will not come today I can at least make my tummy happy.

As always, black eyed peas were made since LP is from the South and all good Southerners eat black eyed peas on New Years Day for good luck. No chicken since that is back luck (they scratch backwards or somrthing like that). We tired pulled pork sandwiches since we found a good recipe in the latest issue of Cook's Illustrated. BBQ done at home in the oven is never all that great... but this recipe is pretty amazing. Liquid smoke in the brine and on the pork before slow cooking is the key. A little bit of slaw and some Corky's sauce and all is right.