Friday, February 27, 2009 | dis'kәmfәrt |


faxing HR your new social security card and driver's license and then being told two months later that the dude in records was never handed the fax despite the fact that you sent it along with a cover page that stated ATTN: RECORDS DUDE

see: well then who the hell has my social security number and driver's license if you don't

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Super Awesome Pros and Freaky Cons

Two things have happened today that are sort of freaking me out at the moment, but only in a very good way.


A friend called this morning asking me if I would want to take photos of an upcoming fund raiser he's doing for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. Of course I want to do that! He's thinking I can sell the pictures to people for a few bucks and then split the profits with TNT. Totally. Awesome.


My sissy told me that she maybe kinda sorta volunteered me to photograph kiddos at a daycare event that she's helping plan. I'd be taking pictures of kids while they stick their heads through those little cardboard body things that circuses have. Oh, and I also have to build and paint the cutouts. (Seriously. Thanks, Cat.) I'd be meeting roughly 100s of parents who might want pictures taken of their kids. Wowza!

So here are the problems:

1. I am not qualified to do these things.
2. I don't have a website for people to view their pics or buy copies from me.
3. I don't have a flash which I'm pretty much guaranteed to need for both events. Hello, $300.
4. Is this seriously happening?
5. I don't charge people for pics... so I don't know what to charge people when they ask.
6. I should probably order more business cards.

One thing at a time I suppose. First off, I need to buy a flash, which was inevitably going to happen. It's not like I won't recoup the money one way or another. I also have a meeting with a programmer on Monday to talk about web galleries. Perhaps I should also talk to him about shopping carts. He's the man. He'll help out. Then I am going to force Cat to meet me somewhere to talk about pricing and basic business odds and ends.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Almost as bad as Googling "mechanically separated chicken."

I've started buying whole wheat pasta versus the unwheaty kind as some sort of vague attempt to be healthier. It's a tricky thing to do though. First off, there's a difference between a package that says "wheat" versus "whole wheat." Also, did you know that anything labeled "enriched" is actually not a good thing? The nutrients in wheat get stripped out when flour is processed so the manufacturer adds artificial nutrients back in, making it magically enriched.

"Enriched wheat flour is white flour. The bran and the germ portion of the whole wheat, which are rich in vitamins and minerals, have been refined out. To compensate for refining out approximately 20 nutrients, they add back 4 synthetic nutrients, niacin (vitamin B3), reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate (synthetic vitamin B1), and riboflavin (vitamin B2). These nutrient additives...are added to mostly refined and processed foods giving a false sense of nutritional value and can lead to nutritional imbalances."

That's from the site Healthy Eating Advisor. Click on that link with caution though. Reading the contents of that site may ruin food for you. It pretty much outlines all of the cancer, obesity and ADHD causing ingredients in our food. It's frightening to think about it.

Still not going to stop me from eating Velveeta and Diet Coke though...

Wardrobe Spring Fever

This warm weather is making me want things. These things:

The bikini is the only thing that I can remotely afford. Unfortunately, that's also the least useful/most terrifying thing pictured.

Sneezy. Dopey. Doc.

It's starting to warm up a little in Omaha and everything is melting. As a result, my nonexistent allergies are acting up and my sinuses are freaking out. I sneezed five times in a row yesterday while standing in the produce section of the grocery store. You have not seen a look of disgust until you have seen the faces of your fellow shoppers staring at you in horror as you sneeze all over the potato and onion table. Yes, I covered my mouth, but is that really a comfort to others when you're sneezing in the vicinity of their groceries? No. Apparently it's not.

I guess the hunt is on again to find allergy meds that won't make me feel all cracktastic.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mexican Chicken Chili

I had a taste for soup tonight. I figured I'd just use what we had at the house and pop open a can of tomato soup, throw in some chicken and call it good. But then I had to make a trip to the grocery store after work and my soup sort of morphed into something else.

I ended up with a Mexican style chicken chili... I guess? It was delicious and the colors looked fantastic in the pot. Food definitely tastes better when it looks pretty.

I cooked maybe a pound of chicken in a medium pot. I sprinkled it with a handful of diced onion, garlic, marjoram and oregano. I poured over enough chicken broth to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and cover. Cook for somewhere between 5-10 minutes. The chicken should be falling apart. You can pretty much shred it with your hands or a fork and throw it into the soup pot. (You might want to let it cool first)

While that was happening I threw together:

1/2 can chicken broth (or whatever you have left)
1 can chopped chilies (with juice from the can)
1 can Rotella's tomatoes (with juice from the can)
1 can tomato sauce
1 small can of corn
1 can black beans (with juice from the can)
1/2 chopped red onion
1 chopped Anaheim pepper
Crap tons of garlic

You can either stop here and have yourself a nice, healthy dinner or you can do what I did and throw a glob of sour cream on top.


Long Weekend

I took yesterday off work and gave myself a three day weekend. How did I spend my day? By doing three loads of laundry, two loads of dishes, reorganizing the living room and getting our taxes done. How very relaxing!

The living room is looking pretty awesome. I hung up some stuff I bought a while ago... and then never hung up. I also moved a couple things around to open up the entryway. I'm really excited to be one the way to having the room finished. I have a couple chairs to cover and a new coffee table to buy that I've got my eye on ($135, thank you Target), and then the room will be done. And it only took a year.

Taxes are the work of the devil. Or Congress. Whatever. We had ours done with a CPA yesterday and walked away with a whole $50 tax return. Hooray for not owing money! About a third of Matt's income is considered self-employment so he usually ends up owing a staggering sum of money every year. This year I was a receipt Nazi and made him save nearly everything. It really paid off. We got about 1/4 of his gig income written off with all of his on-the-road expenses. I'm not getting a huge return back like I'm used to, but I guess that's life.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chocolatey Chippy Goodness

I finally found a reason to make the chocolate chip cookie brownies I found on Bakerella's blog. I took them to a work luncheon thing, a place where they were guaranteed to get eaten. (Not all by me.)

Notice how my cookies are suspiciously square shaped? I went the easiest route possible and used the ready-made dough from the store. They worked just fine. Seriously, these things are so good, I could have stuck an old shoe in there and no one would have noticed.

I meant to top it off with a batch of the chocolate icing I put on the tasty cakes, but I was kind of frazzled that night and forgot the ingredients for it while I was at the grocery store. I did however buy a six pack of beer while I was there and had to stop myself from cracking it open in the parking lot. (I slammed two when I got home and ended up making brownies drunk. Oops.)

Luckily, I had a container of Betty Crocker whipped vanilla frosting at home so I just used that. Oh. Damn. Was that the best mistake ever or what. That stuff tastes like the frosting in Oatmeal Creme Pies. I highly recommend it for anything. Cookies, cakes, straight out of the tub with a spoon.

Yet Another Real Simple Recipe

Lat night I made the mac and cheese out of Real Simple magazine. You can tell I've really been cooking from it because it's covered in food splatters. I didn't take pictures of it because it's mac and cheese... you probably know what it looks like, plus in photographs it would just look like a pile of slimy yellow slop.

I modified it a little from the recipe in the magazine because I'm lazy creative.

14oz boz of whole wheat macaroni
8 oz block of sharp cheddar, grated
1 lb bag of chopped cauliflower
1 1/2 cups of low fat sour cream
splash of milk... 1/4 cup maybe
salt, pepper, garlic and parsley to taste

Cook the pasta and cauliflower, stir everything else in until melty.

At that point, I just started eating it right out of the pot. But according to the recipe I was supposed to have put it all in a casserole dish and sprinkled some bread crumbs and olive oil over the top, baking it until it was a little brown and crispy on top.

This recipe was "healthy" sort of. Maybe, if you don't count the cheese? There's a vegetable in there! I should get credit for that.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Creamed Spinach Broccoli

Last night for dinner I made another turkey meatloaf (twice as big this time for twice the leftovers) and creamed spinach. Sort of.

I set out to make this recipe from Real Simple magazine.

So, I thawed out my spinach.

And then I noticed that it wasn't spinach. Plans changed and I made creamed broccoli instead.

I melted 8oz of reduced fat cream cheese and about 1/4 cup milk (I don't measure anything.) I threw in what I thought was too much garlic, and then added more (I also like a lot of garlic) and then added a couple shakes of minced onion and pepper. Once it got melty I tossed in the broccoli and cooked it until it was thick and creamy.

It ended up being delicious. I didn't have high hopes for it, but wow. I made something freaking delicious on accident.

Checklist, Check.

I'm working on a photo checklist. This winter has been ridiculously long and I can't wait for it to warm up and turn green outside. It sucks when everything is cold, overcast and muddy.

So, here it is. I expect it to be one of those lists that keeps getting longer and longer. Sort of like that home improvement list that I haven't looked at in six weeks.

• Nebraska sunrise and sunset
• Sunrise and sunset on the beach
• Tablescape
• Vignette
• Wide-angle city blocks
• The geese at work
• Aquarium at the zoo
• Elephants
• Neon lights
• Fog
• An open field
• Tree with Lights
• A wedding
• A picnic
• Lion fountain
• Vintage cars
• Newborn twins (Newborn identical twin nieces to be exact!)

Brain Freeze

On Saturday, I went to a Digital SLR class at Rockbrook Camera. My brain got stuffed with sooooo much information. We went over apertures, focus settings, white balances, the A-S-P-M settings, flash tricks... Thank goodness we got a handout and I took notes. I think I retained about 10% of what was covered. It was like taking a 12 week photography course in one afternoon.

I need to review, review, review this weekend. I learned lots of valuable things, now I need to practice using what I know before it's gone for forever.

The only downside to taking the class is that now I want to run out and buy a bunch of equipment. I want to get a flash and a bracket, a flash diffuser, a macro lens, a polarizer, a backdrop stand, lights, a new camera body... And then if I have any money left a $2000 high speed lens for when I take pictures of my rock star hubs and his bands.

Hey, those things are all tax-deductible. It's an investment.

I think it's outrageous when Matt talks about a $2500 bass that he needs, and then I turn around and tell him about a $2000 lens that I must have. One of us clearly needs to become rich in this decade so we can support our dreams. I'm pointing to him - unless I start charging $500 an hour for design consultations, which I don't think is going to fly.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Cupcake Day

Happy day after Valentine's!

I celebrated my Sunday by shopping the clearance V-Day rack at Target (I bought a pair of cupcake pj pants for $3.49!) and buying some of the new Orla Kiely collection. (Including that table cloth.)

Sunday is family day around these parts. It was our turn to host, so we had some of Matt's family/people-who-are-essentially-family over for brunch today. I've figured out that the best time to bake something is when company is coming over. Then, I can send all the leftovers home with other people and avoid eating them myself at 11:00 at night when I'm bored and watching the DVR, thus slowing down the amount of time its going to take for my ass to inevitably get fat from baked goods.

Today I baked what is known as a tasty cake. Real "Tasty Kakes" are these gross little packaged cupcakes that Matt used to eat as a kid when he lived in Delaware. I've tried one and they're bad. Really bad. The idea is good - a piece of cake covered in peanut butter and chocolate - but the execution fails terribly. Over the last few years I've created my own tasty cakes. They started out as a boxed cake mix slathered with peanut butter and dropped into chocolate bark.

I've upped the ante since then.

Here's the most recent incarnation:

The cake is from Bakerella's yellow cake recipe. I piped in a peanut butter cream filling made of:

1 cup peanut butter
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2/3 cup powdered sugar

(Mix together peanut butter and room temperature butter. Sift in powdered sugar and mix until creamy.)

And topped it with a chocolate icing made with 1 cup of heavy cream and 8 oz. of chopped up Ghirardelli's semi-sweet chocolate.

(Bring cream to a simmer. Remove from heat and drop in chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes then stir with a whisk until blended. You can let it sit for a few minutes if you want it to thicken up.)

I only bought the Ghirardelli's because the store was sold out of the cheap stuff. It ended up being delicious though.

I'm still not great at making my baked goods look pretty. I put too much batter into each cupcake liner, so they sort of exploded all over the place when they baked. All the tops broke off when I took them out of the pan. Plus, I'm doing something wrong when I make Bakerella's yellow cake. Mine always ends up sunken in instead of puffed out.

And then the chocolate was a complete mess.

Guess I shouldn't have stopped taking those pastry classes.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Winter What!-derland

It snowed. A lot.

And there's plenty more where that came from!

I was thinking about calling in to work, but went in because I'm a good little worker bee and had a deadline today for a website. At about 10:00 it became very clear that I should have stayed home.

Yesterday was sunny and warm with a high of 45°. (Yes, 45° is considered warm here. Yes, we're talking Fahrenheit.) What happened you ask? Nothing, this is just a prime example of the meteorological anomaly known as Nebraska.

It snowed so much even the Snow Beast wasn't happy about it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's Completely and Totally Official Now

I made and ordered business cards last night! This means I am officially a photographer now - as that is what is printed on the card. And we all know that business cards are the official way to declare yourself as something.

I'm also working on getting my physical portfolio put together so I can take it with me to some of these workshops I'm signed up for. If there's anything that five years in graphic design has taught me, it's that you always take a portfolio with you to any event where you might have a chance to meet and network with professionals. A good old critique from people you admire is an awesome way to learn and improve upon your work. Just be sure not to cry if the person critiquing you hates your work.

Not that I've done that or anything...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Unkie Matt

Matt finally had a chance to meet the G-Man last night. We went over to Cat and Ron's for dinner and baby time. We also watched like five esipodes of Family Guy, so all in all it was a good evening.

For the record, I held the baby and he got the hiccups and puked. Matt held him and he curled up and slept for an hour.

It's clear which one of us is the natural here.

Don't you want one of those outfits to sit around the house in? I sure do.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mother of All Mondays

Today has been stressful. And I am annoyed. With everything.

But rather than dwell on it, let's look at a goofy picture of my dog.

I feel a little better now.

I also have some new pictures up that I took this weekend. It makes me feel better to know that I'm working towards this photography goal I have. It's attainable and I'm making progress one little step at a time.

Ok, I think I'm good now.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Obviously they were on sale and I couldn't pass them up.

79 cents a package! I couldn't believe it! I'm all stocked up now in case there's some sort of worldwide almond bark shortage.

Raking Sucks

Matt and I are two people who do not enjoy yard work.

Exhibit A:

I raked leaves this morning. In case you're wondering, the leaves in Nebraska do fall off the trees in October like the leaves everywhere else. We just kept putting off the raking and putting it off some more... Until eventually it snowed and buried the leaves. At that point we went the "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" route and forgot about it. That got us through until this week when the snow melted, revealing a sheet of old leaves covering our front yard.

Our house totally looked like that house on the block. The snow melted and immediately I could feel our retired neighbors glaring at us every time they swept their driveway. (Which is every morning.)

So, I raked. And raked. And then I went to the store for bags because we obviously wouldn't have any at home. We're the assholes who don't rake, remember? (We also don't pull weeds.) Then I bagged and bagged and bagged.

Now, I am tired. But at least there isn't an oak tree's worth of dying vegetation covering our lawn.

I did something very stupid.

I gave away a bunch of the leftover decorations from our wedding to other brides on I boxed up all the Christmas lights and the glass votives and took them to the post office to weigh for postage estimates for the girls. Well, when I put the lights and the glasses into their respective boxes, I wrote the contents on the outside of the box so I could tell them apart. Turns out though that I wrote the wrong things on the boxes.

I mailed a package of "Christmas lights" to a girl in Madison, Wisconsin. But what she actually got last night was a giant box of broken glass votives. I hadn't intended to ship the votives, just weigh them, so I didn't package them properly. There wasn't any bubble wrap or peanuts or anything in there. Just glass and newsprint paper. Couple that with the fact that the box wasn't marked "fragile" and you've got a recipe for, well a giant box of broken glass votives.

That poor girl. I asked her how many glasses were left because I would pay to have her send them to the right girl. She told me she wasn't sure because she was trying to be very careful picking through the pile of shards mixed in with the paper.

Lesson learned: Box things up one at a time and mark them accordingly.

Friday, February 6, 2009

My Unsolicited Opinion on Things

Here are a couple of really great stories I found about people making the most out of today's circumstances. They're both very inspiring. Just because we're in the middle of a massive economic struggle doesn't mean that our lives have to stop progressing. This should be a time of self discovery and a time to for all of us to reevaluate what is truly important in this lifetime.

CNN - 'Found money' is frugal family's hobby

CNN - Fired exec: 'Starbucks saved my life'

That second story is about a big time CEO who literally lost everything he owned, but he came out on the other side happier and more successful than he had ever been. I've been thinking a lot about that story since I read it yesterday. For the last few years (up until very recently) I've noticed this alarming trend of more, more, more. I'm sure you have too. Reality TV shows are centered around selfish "Sweet 16ers" and "Real Housewives" spending money, acting like brats and complaining that they aren't being given enough. Shows like SATC brought high-end designer shoes and handbags to the attention of the masses, and now women all over suburban America are walking around with Prada and Manolo. People everywhere are ignoring sticker prices and buying the biggest cars and houses they can find so they can keep up with the neighbors. It's disgusting!

I don't deny that I have a materialistic side. Everyone does. I like buying clothes and nice things for my house. But we (Matt and I) are living within our means and being realistic about it. Not only do you have to know when to say when - but you have to stick to it when people try to oversell you with the temptation of "bigger and better." We luckily were approved for a home loan prior to the huge real estate bubble burst in Omaha and found a modest home in a modest neighborhood. We spent less than what we asked the bank for, which was $130K. To me, $130K is a staggering amount of money, especially when you wrap it up into a mortgage. We felt that it was the most we could comfortably afford to pay back at this time in our lives. But you know what the bank did? They gave us the $130K and then told us that with my credit score we could basically have as much as we wanted (within reason), we just had to ask for it. Not once did they ask us what we thought we could afford. They just told us what they thought we were qualified to pay back on paper.

And this boys and girls is how we as a nation got into this mess.

It's the same story with cars and credit cards. Everyone stopped thinking "What can I afford to pay back?" and started thinking "What's the most that they'll give me?" It's good old American greed. I respect anyone's decision to buy a $30,000 car or drop $5000 on their credit card, if they can afford to pay it back. Can I afford the payments on such debt? No. Of course I can't. Neither could millions of people out there who assumed it. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that we can blame the banks and credit companies for shelling out irresponsible loans to people who ultimately couldn't afford it, but shouldn't we also blame the people who accepted the debt? Isn't it the responsibility of the borrowing individual to assess their own ability to pay something back before they accept it?

As much as this recession may suck right now, I'm cherishing the opportunity to finally have a clear view of what I need versus what I want in life. There are some Americans who are really hurting and struggling right now. But for most of us, this is just a time of inconvenience. The days of "buy, buy, buy" are coming to an end and the days of "stop and think" are upon us. It's refreshing. We should all see it as a fresh start. We are being given a chance to break away from the consumerism that has swallowed up our souls. It's a chance to purge our lives of the excessive and unnecessary crap that weighs us down. It's a chance to finally see what we have become as a nation and what we need to do to mend ourselves from the inside out.

Love, family, happiness, karma, contentment, spirituality, nature, exercise, laughing. Those things are always free.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dry-Erase Dilemma

I bought a dry-erase calendar for the house so I can start writing down my appointments and make an honest attempt to organize my life.

Notice how it's still blank?

The marker it came with didn't work. I have a dry-erase calendar but no dry-erase marker. I'm trying here! I really am! It's hanging up on the fridge at home waiting for me to get my life in order. And to get a marker.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Real Simple? Yes. It was.

I felt inspired today to make a nice home-cooked meal for dinner. I was flipping through Real Simple during lunch and decided on the turkey meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

I have eaten meatloaf on many, many occasions but I've never made it before. Turns out that all there is to it is meat, breadcrumbs and an egg. On top of that, you just mix in whatever you want. For me that meant lots of garlic, oregano, Cholula and worcestershire. I sprinkled more crumbs over the top to give it a nice crispy crust.

And of course the mashed potatoes. I'm a pro at those. Again, lots of garlic went in there.

Can't wait until tomorrow. There's a meatloaf sandwich in my future.

Orla is Coming

Someone better clear a path between me and the nearest Target store on February 15th.

Orla Kiely is coming.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Wow! Our wedding is featured on a major wedding site!

My fifteen minutes is officially counting down! Our wedding was featured today on!!!

Getting Calendared

My post-it note system isn't cutting it anymore. I think it might be time for me to invest in a calendar. I'm signing up for things, and scheduling things, and planning things... And then I am forgetting about half of it.

I am not a time and date person. I have a hard time remembering where I'm supposed to be and at what time. It causes problems.

I need a big calendar to hang up at the house. Something I can scribble all over. I can't do eCalendars. I hate the calendar on my phone. I want something real, something old fashioned. Something that comes with a dry erase marker and velcro tabs to hang it on the wall.

Something like this.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Woman With a Plan

Guess what I did?!

I signed up for two photography workshops! The first is on February 14th at Rockbrook and the second is on March 7th with photographer Becky Novacek. I'm pretty excited about both. We wanted Becky to photograph our wedding but she was out of town that weekend. I'm really excited to meet her and have the chance to work with her for an afternoon.

Look at me get down with my resolutions! I also have a couple of folks on schedule who asked me to take pics of their kiddos. I can't wait for it to warm up and not be so gloomy out so I can get outside and start getting some work done.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Where I've Been...

This is where I have been for the last four days.

I wasn't extremely sick, but I was extremely flu stricken. And it was extremely disgusting.

I have done nothing of interest since Wednesday night. I don't even remember most of Thursday.

I did watch the following movies though:

No Reservations
Breakfast Club
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Juno (saw it once, slept through it twice)
You've Got Mail
Monsters, Inc.

(Dear HBO, Please update your On Demand selection. Thank you.)

My sweet, sweet Matty took very good care of me. He brought me lots of juice and water. Went to the store for soup that I couldn't eat. Made me eggs that I yakked back up. Tolerated me when I whined and moaned all night long.

Thanks, babe!