Thursday, June 23, 2011

C'moooooooooon July. Hurry up already!

"And then, such scandal! You would not believe what she did next!"
My sister is coming tomorrow to visit for the weekend. I haven’t seen her since daddy passed away, and it’s the first visit that doesn’t have some other purpose except for it being a simple visit. Of course, she can only squeeze me into a weekend, and part of that weekend will be dedicated to Satan. She’s up in Seattle today doing some consultant work, and will be driving down tomorrow, and flying out of Portland on Monday. I’m excited to see her. She always makes me laugh.

I’m going to sneak off on Sunday, when she’s playing golden-child with my mother and driving her all over the place, to go and pick strawberries on Sauvie Island with some of our ORS folks. It’s going to be nice to do an ORS event again. I won’t be wearing my new dress quite yet, since it’s only half a dress at the moment. I’ve been draping it on my dress-form and hand-sewing everything, and right now, only the front portion of the dress is attached. It looks funny. I still have to make a new petticoat and shift (which I might just make sleeveless) and I’m going to make some pantalettes too I think. Not quite sure... it depends on what I can swing before the 31st of July. I might not hand-sew the undergarments.

Today’s office special is what happens when I am put on hold with the EPA for extended periods of time. The reports are coming along, but with everything else, I confess I’m pretty stressed out. I want this month to be over! The adoption certification workshops continue to be informative but still are tiring. We got a small reprieve on Tuesday because Mr. and Mrs. Moron did not show up to that session and as we suspected, their absence caused the seminar to end an hour before scheduled. Hubby and I were able to get home at something closer to a reasonable time. I wish they’d stay home every time; we’d be much less tired. We are now in the stage where we are going to sign criminal background checks, submit fingerprints, and are filling out the small packet of forms to get the home-study process rolling. After today there are only two more sessions next week then we’re done with that bit. We’re in crunch time now at work for the EPA report submissions, and I also have a site inspection tomorrow morning with one of our regulators and a mammogram on Monday to take additional bites out of our prep-time. We’re hoping to have them all done by the 30th, I hope so. I feel like my head is going to explode. I could use some deflating, like a real vacation, but that’s not an option. :::groan:::

I hit 19 pounds the other day, and haven’t budged since. We’ll see. My average per-week loss has gone down to 1.3ish pounds a week. I’m not drinking the water I should be drinking, and I can’t do mornings without my thermos of green tea... so I’m sure that, plus the stress and everything else is contributing to my slowing weight loss; but I’m still losing so that’s really awesome. I got into a jeans size this week that I haven’t been able to fit into since 2003. It’s an amazing feeling. I found some jeans for $5 at the Sears outlet store and got a couple of ‘interim’ pairs so I’m not walking around in super-baggy pants all the time, which I’ve been doing a lot of lately. I actually see how my hips have gotten smaller now. I want SO bad to hit that 20lb mark. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I’ll hit that goal on my Tuesday weigh-in. Hubby has hit the 40.2lb mark. He looks amazing and is also wearing smaller pants. We are both going to be due for a wardrobe overhaul pretty soon. I will definitely have to remake or alter my regency stays for sure—they close all the way with ease now and seem a bit loose. ::urgh:: I JUST made them. Anyway, that’s another update of my inane life. I might have something *interesting* to say soon enough... we’ll see. Right now it’s just all about the stress. :::GAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!::: /rant. ;)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Chicon au gratin.

One of my favourite meals as a child was chicon au gratin.  Chicon (endives) are a Belgian staple when they're in season, and it's a huge crop there.  Endive is delicious served fresh, chopped into little pieces in a mayonnaise/lemon vinaigrette. It's the BEST salad to have with a rare tuna steak.  Mmm. But endives are also delicious cooked. They have a natural sweetness and bitterness that just works wonders with cheese and savory foods.

This dish is particularly good for our weight watchers regime because even with cheese sauce, it's surprisingly light.  I've learned to make a light cheese sauce without going through the effort of making a real béchamel which requires butter and flour. This meal amounts to about 14 points (if you use two medium potatoes per serving).  I reached 19 lbs this morning by the way. It's so exciting! I've gone down two sizes.  Anyway... I digress; here goes:

Start with four fresh endives. These California-grown endives are a bit anemic as endives go, but they'll do the trick. They can be a bit expensive, but you only need four for this recipe.

The first thing you are going to do is cut out a little cone out of the base. It will make them less bitter. It's something Tati taught me, so just do it. :)

Once you've done that, you want to put them in a pot and boil them until they turn a sage green and are softened. Not too long.

I actually took these out too soon, They were still a slight bit under cooked.  Anyway, quarter them lengthwise when they're properly cooked.

Now it's time to pull out the deli-style lean ham.  Cut super thin, it's 1 point for six slices! So you take a quarter of the endive and put it on the ham.  Roll it up like a taquito.

Put your little ham-rolls into a shallow baking dish.  Now for the sauce.  You can do it the proper way, béchamel and all or do it the weight-watchers way.  For a béchamel, you will heat a tablespoon of butter in a saucepan, and let it brown a bit.  Add in a tablespoon of flour and brown it, and then add the milk gradually while whisking.  Then you'd add in your cheese etc.  

I put 3/4 of a cup of 2% milk into a saucepan, and added some grated nutmeg, a little bit of salt and pepper.  

You want to use a good, firm gruyere.  Some domestic cheesemakers think that gruyere should be like a softer cheese, it should not.  It should be a firm cheese with a strong flavour. If you want a bit of a kick, add a little bit of parmesan. I used about a cup and a quarter (or 12 points on the scale) of grated gruyere.

Bring the milk to a simmer, and add in the grated cheese, whisking all the while.  I added a couple of teaspoons of corn-starch to thicken up the sauce, I confess.

Once you get the sauce where you want it, pour it over your little ham-rolls.

Sprinkle some cheese over it and huck it into the oven at 375°.  While that's cooking, take out four small/medium sized potatoes and cut them in two, and then quarter those.

Pop them into a pot with some water and a sprinkle of salt.

Boiled potatoes are a big staple in farm-country in Belgium. They are completely integral to the yumminess of this meal.  

When it's baked, broil it for a second to get a nice brown crust on the top.  Serve it up with your potatoes, sauce and a nice green salad.  Voila.  It's SO good, trust me.  Bon appétit.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Updates updates updates.

Another Father's Day without
Daddy. :(  I miss you papa.
I know I’ve been quiet of late, but it’s been a busy week, granted. We are about to embark on week 2 of our adoption/foster certification course; week one has already been extremely eye-opening and almost too much to bear frankly. The trainer is former caseworker, and her anecdotes are full-on depressing. How she keeps a smile on her face every day after seeing the very worst of humanity, I do not know. It’s a late night after each session, and it’s emotionally exhausting. It’s even worse when there is a couple there that can’t STFU. They stop the session to ask the most inane questions I’ve ever heard.

“The kid we have, her mother believes in Buddha. I don’t know anything about Buddha. She might freak out if we kill a fly because they believe that everything’s reincarnated. We go to the Sandy Assembly of Christ (or whatever), we don’t believe in any of that stuff, should we not take her?” SHE IS EFFING TWO! WHO CARES??? They turn EVERYTHING into something about their foster case and waste everyone’s time. It’s so annoying. We could get so much out of this session; our trainer is wonderful, if it weren’t for Mr. and Mrs. Moron. I don’t even know how to broach it with the trainer because she’s so nice and indulges them.

This class is made up mostly of foster-parents, there are only two couples there that are really interested in adoption (oh, the moron-couple *might* adopt their Buddhist two-year old if the parents don’t shape up). Most of the fosters there are relatives. A set of grandparents in their seventies, a man who said: “I’m here because I have a stupid brother”, while his wife tenderly cradled an infant girl... there is also a lady whose son’s best friend has nowhere to go and hasn’t lived with his parents since he was three. Lots of sad stories.

Some sad facts from the class: the majority of abuse (markings and bruises) cases that are opened in Oregon are for infants. Neglect and abuse cases are predominantly due to drug problems with the parents (Methamphetamines are a huge problem out here). Oregon instituted a law that allows people who do not want their kids to walk into a hospital or police station and hand the child off without recrimination. We discovered, and I did not know this, that when a child is taken away from a parent, the parent has to pay the State child-support. That’s why most people don’t want the state to take their children. They don’t necessarily want to keep their kids out of the foster-system; they just don’t want to be responsible for paying child-support, getting into arrears and having their income garnished. Kids are also ‘cash-cows’ and having kids entitles people to all sorts of state services and support they wouldn’t get if they didn’t have kids. So parents fight pretty hard to keep kids they don’t really want so they can continue to be lazy, useless wastes of space living off of the system and breeding indiscriminately. It’s hard to find empathy for people who look at children as a means for contributing nothing to society. Especially when people like me are tripping over themselves to have a child, and they abuse the privilege they’ve been given.

::steps off soap box::

This is a tough process. I drove home after the first session crying. There are SO many kids in the system with no stability, no sense of permanence, with the desire to be loved unconditionally, to be given a chance, to be valued by someone. And there are so few people out there with room or finances, or patience to help them. It makes me want to take more than one, but we have such a small house and we are always struggling financially. We’ll see how it all pans out.

On the weight watcher’s front... I have reached 18 pounds. I can’t believe I’m so close to the 20-pound milestone. I still don’t really *see* the weight loss on me, but it’s definitely there. Case and point... I got Matilda (my dress form) back, and when I measured myself to adjust her to my size, I realized that I’d lost a few inches (three inches) pretty much everywhere since I last adjusted her. The scale isn’t lying to me, but it sure feels like it. It’s slow but it’s moving along. Hubby is at 39 pounds (probably 40 by tomorrow). He is shrinking away, his clothes bagging on him quite ungracefully. He is fabulous, I am so proud of him. I wouldn’t be successful in this if it weren’t for his example. A lot of people drop out of the program because they have unsupportive family and friends who want to enable them to fail so they don’t have to feel accountable for themselves. We are lucky we are doing this together and that’s probably why it’s working so well. It took me two months to get on board and to do the program instead of pretending along with him, but once I saw his discipline and his results, I would be stupid to not at least *try*. Especially with a program that promotes a healthy, slow weight loss rather than fast results with no long-term ‘training’ on how to eat well. When I did the Atkins diet, I lost over 45 pounds in a few months, but when I stopped eating bacon for snack-time and went back to a ‘normal’ diet, I gained it all back and then some.

The Lupron injections are continuing. I had my third one last week. I’ve tempered out a lot though since the first injection. That first month I had a whole lot of crazy going on, it was like all my emotions had been run though a distiller or something. But it’s been a lot closer to normal since, with the occasional bout of tears whenever I see a puppy on TV or something. The hot flashes have slowed down a bit, but they are still happening, but mostly at night. One benefit is that I haven’t cycled since my first injection. It’s like a vacation.

I’ve been sewing myself a new costume. I’m going to make something marginally adjustable so if I continue to lose weight, it will still fit me. I need to figure something out for my stays though, because they close all the way now, and in another month, they will be useless if I keep dropping pounds. This is particularly annoying because stays are a lot of work and I *just* made these ones, it was one of my last sewing projects before I stopped sewing for a year. I made myself a new hand-sewn mob-cap out of organdy, and I have a new hat for summer. It’s so nice to be able to focus on costumes for me for a change. I’ve even resolved to hand-sew this gown, which I’ve started the bodice for. My stiches aren’t necessarily pretty, but hopefully they’ll mostly be hidden. Hand sewing is really relaxing. I haven’t given up using my machine completely, mind you, but it’s easier to lie in bed and watch TV with a needle and thread than it is with a Husqvarna Viking balanced on your lap (or more realistically, it’s more comfortable than being hunched in a chair, squinting over your sewing).

Here are some tiny baby pigs.

::gazes at you impassively:: o_o
No time for an office special today.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday Schmonday. ::bleaugh::

Well, it’s a Monday. Without a doubt. This month is going to be crazy. Along with the EPA reports that are due at the end of the month, we’ve got the adoption seminars until nine twice a week. I’m completely bewildered as to how we are going to manage it all, but hopefully we’ll pull through.

I made some more figurines for the lovely Miss Stephanie R. This time it was Spongebob Squarepants characters. :D  Here are some pictures she took. My favourite is Squidward. I accidentally broke Spongebob’s nose off, so I had to superglue it back on, so it looks like he’s got a snotty nose now. Oops! I like Patrick and Gary (you can’t see him well in the cake pic) the least.

Stephanie's Cake is faboo. I love the 'sand'.

Squidward looks like how I feel most of the time.

Who knew sponges could get congested?

I’ve been seeing the -16 lbs. a bit, especially in my face (and boobs). All I can focus on now is how uneven my skin looks! And my nose is red like I have gin-blossoms or something! I swear I am not a lush. Ha! I look tired because I AM. ::groan:: And to top it off I’ve had a day-long migraine that makes even wearing my glasses intolerable, so I’ve spent the day squinting with my face inches from my monitor. Attractive.

I cropped out my desk because it's a huge mess.
Weekend... let’s see. Saturday, hubby was off on his Ducati to ride with his fellow Ducati club members—so I had the day to sew. Unfortunately, since it’s been a full year since I actually sewed something, everything was just scattered everywhere or piled in corners in the catch-all room – Uh, I mean the guest room/possible kid’s room. So I spent Saturday digging through stuff and getting increasingly angry about the fact that I was digging through stuff. I picked up an old tack trunk and a huge tote full of fabric remnants and marched them to the end of the driveway and taped a free sign to them. Even on our less-traveled gravel road, someone came by on Sunday morning and took the stuff. That was easy enough. By the time moto-man got back from his 350 mile round trip, I had finally found my fabric and other elements for my project but was too pissed to do anything with it. So it’s all consolidated in a box for later sewing. I made meatballs instead and grumped around until bedtime.

Sunday was a fun day. In spite of a trip to the dump, and a breakfast that we had to wait an hour and a half for, I had a delightful time with my horse. I even made some stupid movies of him, as if they’re any different from all the other stupid movies I make of him. I can’t help it. He’s a golden horse-god, and he’s so beautiful in summer; his fuzzies gone, his thick neck, his handsome face. Just being around him brings my blood pressure down. I had a nice ride, worked the heck out of him (his fat pads on his shoulders are going down, hopefully the saddle will fit him properly again soon).

Then (with me reeking of horse and still soaked from giving him a bath and covered in dirt from the riding arena)we went to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean. It was pretty good. I was glad there wasn’t the same old ‘forbidden love and misunderstanding’ story again with that kid and that chick. The visuals were pretty. I don’t know why they bothered making it in 3D, I don’t think it really gained anything with it. It was a relaxed day. I wish it hadn’t ended. Now it’s Monday. I don’t like Mondays.

Okay I’m done being a curmudgeon. My creative juices are nil today. No office specials for you! I’m going to start a photo-essay on this new dress project but I’m not posting it until it’s done. I also have to make a new set of stays because my old ones are no longer tight on me. I guess I am losing lots of weight, but I’m just not seeing it. I’m still at a plateau as of today. Hubby has lost 37 lbs. as of last Wednesday.


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