Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Favorites

I love to make lists, and I love to expostulate on my favorite things. Expostulate or pontificate? I think either would work here.
Favorite Show
Suze Ormond. If I listened to everything she said, I would be rich. Wealthy.
The Pioneer Woman. I check her site out daily. I quote her frequently, to people who have no idea who she is. I convert non-believers into followers of her blog whenever possible. I cook her recipes whenever they don't contain disgusting meat componants. I even had a dream that I went and visited her on her ranch one time. Wierd.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I love that whole series. Hugo recently caught me reading the first book AGAIN and said, You're reading it AGAIN? I even bought the unabridged audio version (read by a fabulous lady named Davina Porter) on ITunes and made Hugo listen to the whole thing with me. We've made it as far as the 3rd book on trips and stuff. Don't let him fool you. He LOVES it. His favorite thing to say to me lately is, "Christ Sassanach." You have to read it. Go. Read it now. It will only take up about 6 months of your day.
Sofia. I'm having a really hard time contemplating what I'll name the next one if it turns out to be a girl, because I just can't think of anything I like as much as Sofia. Nothing feels right. Sofia was Sofia right from the very moment I found out she was a girl. I'd love a few suggestions.
Pasta. I love pasta in all its different forms. I could eat it every single day and not get tired of it. That's how Hugo feels about rice and potatoes, but since I do the shopping and cooking, I get to choose the starch. Guess what we have most of the time? My favorite pasta dish of all time comes from Everyday Italian on the Food Network. All you do is cook up some bowties, reserve a small amount of the pasta water and then throw the pasta over a bed of baby butter lettuce (I know, wierd, huh?). Then you toss in some pine nuts, sundried tomatoes, goat cheese, and parmesan and a little of the pasta water and toss it all together. Delicious. I could eat some right now. Damn. Why do I have to think about food all the time?
Place to Go on Vacation
I could make a case for every single place I've ever been, including Chincoteague Island, where I went on vacation with my college boyfriend and his family and got into a fight over the moped we rented and drove away, stranding him in the middle of the village for a short time, but I would have to go with the Keys as my all time favorite. Its so beautiful, yet so laid back. So warm, yet rarely hot. So exotic, yet so only 10 hours by car away.
Restaurant Chain
Sorry Mom, I'm gonna have to go with Dad on this one and say Carabba's. Even though they betrayed me by removing the tiramisou from the dessert menu while I was in full-on pregnancy craving mode one night and Hugo was even willing to drive all the way across town to get me a piece.
Fast Food
Zaxby's. Oh, I'm sorry. You don't have a Zaxby's near you? Boo Hoo for you. Because they have the very best chicken sandwiches in the world and we have two of them here in Gainesville. One of them is right on my way to work. MMMMM. I would open my own Zaxby's if I could (you have to have 600,000 dollars of net worth to qualify for a franchise. Anyone want to finance me?). Then again, I also love me so Jimmy John's. They have the best vegetarian sub in the world. I would open a Jimmy John's if I could, too. Only, if I did either of those things, I would quickly balloon in the most unattractive way. Better stick with nursing. Though us night shift nurses tend to be a little on the hefty side as well. Must be all that Zaxby's we stop for on our way to work every night.
Chocolate bread pudding from Stonewood. I never would have thought to try something with the words bread and pudding in the title, but boy is this delicious. Its like a giant cross between a brownie and a fudgy cake, with a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream on it and a giant chocolate crispy thing stuck on top. Its drowned in a warm sauce that consists of mostly butter and some kind of liquor. It gave me a massive gall bladder attack and almost put me back into the hospital after Sofia was born, but I didn't hold a grudge. I still love it. Enough food. I'm getting hungry.
Kind of Patient to Take Care Of
All my colleagues laugh hysterically at me when I say this (and think I'm being sarcastic) but GI bleeders. I will take a GI bleeder over a stroke or a COPD'er any day. Although they are kind of gross to take care of (what with the pooping and throwing up blood and everything) they are generally really sick when they come in and you have to run around like crazy, pumping blood back into them, sticking NG tubes down their noses, starting central lines and running multiple IV drips and so on and so forth. They are too sick to complain about stuff like the loudness at the nurses station (have I mentioned that my indoor voice kind of sucks, which makes me a bad night shift nurse?), the lack of good food (the last thing these people want is food) and the wierd pain in the arch of their left food that they have been having for the past 14 years, but now that they are in the hospital for something totally unrelated, would like you to call the doctor at 2 oclock in the morning to let him know about it and see if there is anything they can get for it. Also, the whole cleaning up their bloody poop thing earns you their undying gratitude and devotion. And they get better. Watch a COPD'er accomplish that feat. Its nice to have a patient who comes in really sick and gets better, thanks to good nursing care. So refreshing.
My favorite husband is Hugo. Hands down. I know, he's my only husband. But if I was a polygamist (or whatever they call women who marry several men) I'm pretty sure he would still be my favorite. He's just right. Tonight I couldn't sleep because there was a horrific thunderstorm and he got up with me at 3 in the morning and shared a sandwich with me. A turkey reuben. I've never made a turkey reuben before, but it came out pretty good. Oh wait. I said no more food, didn't I?
Somewhere, from West Side Story, as sung by Barbara Streisand. I know, totally '80's with the synthesizer and everything. But I love it.
29. Which I am right now. When I was younger, my older sisters used to torment me and make my life a living hell, but I got the last laugh because they're both in their thirties already and I'm still in my twenties. Haha.
That's enough favorites for now. Until next time...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Portfolio

I recently expanded my horizens (still further!?) by purchasing some stocks. I am now a participator in the stock market. I watch CNBC with interest every day to see how the "DOW and Nasdaq faired" (I'm still a little shaky on exactly what that means). I have already made close to a hundred dollars, having only invested 250. That's a pretty good return on investment. I bought some shares in Starbucks, because I like Starbucks and I figure, if I can buy a share in the company for less than the cost of two lattes, why not? I'm still going to buy the two lattes, mind you. Don't get the idea that I've given up on the product or anything. I just feel better about spending 4 bucks on a latte now that I'm a shareholder. I'm just bostering my own bottom line, you see, whenever I make a purchase.
I also bought in Citigroup, the company that owns Citi Bank, because what the hell? They were only a buck fifty a share. If the company does go belly up, I won't be out too much money. If, on the other hand, they return to 40 dollars a share, I'm up big time.
My other purchase was GE because that company has been around forever and I don't see them going out of business any time soon.
Now, at what other time in history has 250 dollars allowed a person to actually purchase an entire portfolio of stocks? Umm, a few years ago I wouldn't have been able to buy 10 shares of Starbucks for that. And what the hell? Its only the kids' college savings, right? If I lose it all, there's always community college. Just kidding. If the college savings fund consists of 250 dollars, I'm thinking community college isn't even an option. Maybe technical school (BOCES anyone?)

Friday, March 20, 2009

My Vegetable Garden

I had big plans to plant an organic vegetable garden this year in my backyard. I made a list (mainly listing all the different kinds of vegetables I envisioned myself growing), asked some of my "green" friends at work for advice, borrowed a book from the library, and even poked around on the internet a little for research purposes. I had it all planned out. I was ging to plant tomatoes, onions, lettuce, basil, mint, peppers, tomatoes and eggplant. But mostly tomatoes. I crave garden-grown tomatoes. True, I've only had them, like, once before, but they really aren't even comparable to the ones you buy in the store. And I spend so much money on tomatoes at the store. I can't stand to buy the pale, grainy, mealy ones that are 99 cents a pound. I have to go for the red, juicy, somewhat fresh-appearing vine grown tomatoes that cost 2.99 or more per pound.
My problem is that after I put all that mental and emotional energy into my vegetable garden, I found out I was knocked up. Suddenly, I had to contemplate a mental picture of myself, 7 months gone with child, with a one year old baby perched on one hip, probably wearing some type of shapeless smock with a floral pattern, barefooted and on my hands and knees weeding a garden. It was a little too Dugger for my liking. For those of you who don't know who the Duggers are, you really should watch more TLC.
The vegetable garden was tabled, needless to say. However, I couldn't get the thought of those fresh tomatoes out of my mind. I really want some damn fresh tomatoes. Is it asking so much to have some fresh grown damn tomatoes from the garden? I don't think so. So I decided to experiment with what's known as a "container garden". It involves planting stuff into moveable containers and then you can just keep them on the porch or the deck or anyplace that's sunny. You don't have to worry as much about weeds, since you aren't planting them into the ground. Pests aren't as much of an issue either since the plants are up off of the ground. I bought these planters that have a special resorvoir in the bottom so you don't even have to water them every day. Hey, that sounds like something even a pregnant broad can handle, right? We'll see. I will keep a chronicle of the experience here and if it turns out to be a success, I will have developed much needed skills and knowledge on the science of growing stuff so that next year maybe my enormous kitchen vegetable garden will be a reality. Or maybe the whole thing will be a colossal failure and I will realize that I don't really care for fresh veggies after all and as a matter of fact, I actually like going to the grocery store and buying pesticide covered, wax coated produce that smells like ass.
I bought about 3 cherry tomato plants, 4 regular tomato plants, a basil plant and a mint plant. If it is succesful it will be the first time I have ever grown anything. When I finish planting them, I'll post some pictures of them in their new containers/homes. Right now, they are being "hardened off" a process which involves taking them outside during the day so they can get used to the sunlight and temperature outside, and bringing them inside to be protected at nighttime. Any tips and pointers on the next step (transplanting them to their containers) would be appreciated.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Insalata Caprese Trio

Here's how you can make three delicious dishes out of the same 5 ingredients.
#1 fresh mozzerella (the kind that often comes in water)
#2 fresh vine-ripened tomatos
#3 fresh basil
#4 one lemon
#5 olive oil

For the first dish, a simple salad, dice the tomatos and the cheese into roughly equal sized pieces. Rip up fresh basil and sprinkle over the top. Make a simple vinagrette by squeezing the juice of half the lemon into a dish and then whisking a 1/2 cup of olive oil into it. Drizzle some of this over the top and add a tiny bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. It will be delicious, simple, and addictive.

...Kind of like this (I know, The Pioneer Woman I am not. Let's not go into it).

Later on, if you feel like a midnight snack, like I do every night now that I am gestating again, get a piece of bread and stick it under the broiler for a minute, just until it starts to brown. Thinly slice some tomato and fresh mozzerella to lay on the bread and then sprinkle with some of the basil. Drizzle with the lemon vinagrette and stick it back under the broiler until the cheese melts. It might not look like much, but it makes a delicious open faced sandwich. You could get fancy and do this on french baguette and call it bruschetta. You only have to do that if you're making it for other people though. I ate this all by myself while Hugo was putting Sofia to sleep.

The next day I still had some cheese, tomato, basil and vinagrette left, and since I paid a pretty price for the mozzerella, I didn't want it to go to waste. Oh Fresh Market, I love you so and some day I will be so wealthy that I will be able to shop in your store all the time. Until that day, I shall have to let it remain a rare treat. So anyway, the next day I decided to cook up some bowtie pasta and toss it with the exact same salad from the night before. It looked like this...

...and boy was it delicious. Light and springy and very girly. I didn't eat like a girl though. I finished it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A whiff of paradise...

Oh Florida Keys...we've been separated for too long. I miss your beautiful beaches, your clean (looking) waters, your tiny little strips of land connected by one long highway and surrounded by water.

I took this picture the first time I was in the Keys. Its a view of Bahia Honda Beach (a state park), taken from the end of the old bridge that used to connect the islands before the modern highway was constructed. I have always been struck by how beautifully this picture came out; taken by an unskilled photographer (me) using an extremely basic camera (my point and shoot digital Canon PowerShot) it looks like something you might see in Conde Nast. I guess that's just what happens in the Keys...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Big Fat Retarded Head

I thought it was worth letting everyone know what a dork I am; it might save some of you a hassle if you learn from my mistake. Iwas at home yesterday afternoon with Sofia, the two of us just hanging out on the couch watching HSN when I heard a knock on the door. It was these two really nice, pleasant guys; my first thought was Jehovah's Witnesses. So Igreeted them pleasantly enough and they informed me that they were going around the neighborhood letting people know about this store that was about to open in Walmart Plaza that was going to sell stuff for cleaning the home, small home repairs, car maintenance, etc... They wondered if they could come in and show me a few of their products so I could maye recommend the store to my friends and family if I thought the products were useful. What the hell, I thought? In hindsight, I realize I shouldn't be letting random strangers into my house, particularly when I am at home alone with the baby, but I tend to be a littletoo trusting of people anyway. It turns out there is no store. There are not"a couple products" there is one; they were vacuum cleaner salesmen.

The"talker" quickly introduced me to his friend, the "demo man" and left. This guy started going into this spiel about his vacuum, the Kirby, which isapparently the oldest vacuum cleaner company in the world. After about 45minutes and the guy was just getting into his demo and I realized he apparentlyplanned on staying for about 3 hours and showing me all 83 functions of his vacuum cleaner. I asked him how much? He told me 2300 dollars. Haha. For 2300 dollars it better do more than clean my house...Well, at that point I used thatinformation to inform him that I would not ever be making a 2300 dollar purchase on something that I saw demonstrated without discussing it with my husband. It was at this point that he suggested glibly that if I applied for the credit and bought it, it could be a suprise for my husband. A surprise! Yeah, I laughed at him and told him in no uncertain terms that my husband wouldn't make a 2300dollar purchase without my knowledge and I wouldn't do it to him either. Theguy ended up calling his partner up and telling him to come get him (it took him like, 20 minutes to pack up his vacuum) and the guy on the other end of the line was giving him crap about it, trying to get him to continue the demostration even though I had told him I wanted him to go. He sat outside of my house for15 minutes waiting for the white van to come back and get him.

Needless to say,I got on the internet and did some research on the Kirby Vacuum as soon as heleft. Apparently, it is a great vacuum (though like I said, it better do morethan that for 2300 dollars). However, the company gets horrible reviews for its unsavory sales tactics in which it targets old people and housewives, trying toget them to sign on the line for "financing" then and there (which is a huge scam and a credit card that you end up paying 29% interest or something on). Their sales tecnique is that once they get into your house they won't leave until you agree to buy the thing and there were numerous examples of people calling the police when the salespeople actually refused to leave their house. Previous customers said the demo guys didn't know what they were doing and have actuallydone damage to peoples' furniture and carpets. Also, part of their justification for charging so much for the vacuum is that it comes with an unconditional lifetime warrantee which most people were furious about and said that getting the things serviced was like an act of God.

Some of the ways they get into your house is by asking if they can ask your opinion on some cleaning products (they will be carrying a bottle of Febreze or Tide or something), or tolgive you a free carpet shampoo. DON"T let them into your house! They also sayyou have 30 days to cancel if you change your mind and then they ignore you when you try to cancel (after you come to your senses). Hundreds of people havegotten burned by them. AND you can buy the vacuum on EBAY for about 500 bucks if you really want it. I don;t need to tell you, I laid there in bed last nightberating myself for letting those guys into my house. They could have been casing the joint and come back later to kill us or rob us blind. I think itmust be the economy, there has been an increase in door to door sales lately. They seem kind of desparate and I feel sorry for them, because I'm sure that they are doing their best to earn a living, but this is not an honest way to earn a living and the sooner they realize that the better. Im thinking about putting a no solicitation sign on my door.

Its stuff like this that makes me wish I lived on a farm in EBF like my parents. I don't think they get too many door to door salesmen braving the one lane dirt road followed by the 6 mile long driveway (over the oft flooded bridge) with wild beasts approaching the vehicle from all sides just to find out if my parents want to see a live demonstration of the best vacuum cleaner in the history of the world. Maybe I should call the local office and refer them, just to see...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sofia's Nicknames

OK, here is a list that I fear is far from exhaustive. I have to keep track of all these ones so we can make sure we don't accidentally call the new baby by one of Sofia's nicknames. She has several of them copyrighted. Or is it trademarked? Whatever. Right now, she's sucking on a bandaid that she pulled out of the box. I just had to take it away from her (its so soggy at this point, I'm afraid she might actually ingest it). She's not too happy about that.
Sofia's number one nickname is Chumby Pumby. Hugo came up with that one. I'm not sure what it means but it fits her to a tee. He Googled it the other day and didn't come up with any hits.
Muffin (that one is mine and it is the base for many of the ones that follow).
Muffy McMufferton (Her Scottish nickname).
Muffin Top (more appropriate would be the reason-for-my-muffin-top).
Muffy McStink (when she has something in her diaper).
Chumby McPumberton (a Scottish variation of her Colombian nickname).
Sofia Pepita


Lately there hasn't been a whole lot of cooking going on in the Ochoa household. In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if a family of moles (or other small animals) had set up housekeeping in my oven. I just haven't been feeling much like cooking, what with first trimester nausea and food aversions and what-not. Hugo is not much help in this category either. The last time I did cook, I was complaining about how its impossible to make progress with a 9 month old baby trying to eat the dog's food and licking the trash can while I'm trying to make dinner and he was like, "honey, that's why we both work. So you can just order out." Well, why don't ya just hand me a phone book and a debit card for crying out loud. So we've been eating a lot of pizza.
Today I've been trying to work up the energy to get to the store so I can resume some semblance of my wifely homemaking duties. I just can't seem to figure out what I would buy if I did go and what I would then make for dinner. The more I think about it the more discouraged I become. Does anyone have time to come over and make dinner for us tonight? I promise to evict the moles before you get here.
By the way, I'm officially 1o weeks pregnant today and all (appears to be) well. Judging by the hurl factor, this baby is going to be just as healthy as Sofia. And in other news, I accidentally put a disposable diaper through the wash yesterday and I can only say that I highly recommend not ever doing that if you can help it. Just another reason why I think disposable diapers are sent from the devil.