Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stuffing: When Stale Bread Goes to Heaven




I know, I promised cookies and snowflakes, but here I am with stuffing. Such is life, as they say -- and it's a very yummy stuffing, too! Here's the recipe, originally from CountryLiving.com:




Sourdough Mushroom Stuffing

Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter
  • 1 pound(s) assorted wild mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cup(s) (about 9 ribs) chopped celery
  • 2 cup(s) finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup(s) chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon(s) chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon(s) chopped fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1 teaspoon(s) chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon(s) fresh-ground pepper
  • 1 loaf(s) (1-pound) sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) low-sodium chicken broth

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 3-quart casserole dish with 1 tablespoon butter and set aside.
  2. Melt remaining butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 10 minutes. Add the celery and onion and sauté for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, add the remaining ingredients, and toss to combine. Transfer the stuffing to the prepared baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.
  4. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes; remove the foil and bake for 20 more minutes. Serve hot.
So easy, right? I made this for Thanksgiving, and the Mr. liked it so much that I had to make it again (well, and still having a ton of leftover mushrooms probably helped make that happen, too). Any way, here are the results (and I do apologize for the picture quality; I couldn't find the charger for my camera so I used my phone.

It's all about letting it brown . . .

Having made it twice, I've learned a thing or two:

1) The taste is greatly improved by using really sour sourdough bread, and the texture is improved if the bread is stale and you cut it into smaller chunks than the recipe calls for.

2) Dried herbs will work just as well -- just keep in mind that 1 Tbsp fresh = 1/3 - 1/2 tsp dry. Otherwise you end up with rosemary stuffing, and not much else!

3) I really need to find the charger for my camera.

Yep, the 'manual macro' just isn't cutting it . . .

Until next time, Bon Appetite! 

On Friday, Mrs. will demonstrate her snowflake cutting prowess (probably involving a camera phone), and begin to stress about the fact that she hasn't even started on Christmas cards this year. Or sent last year's, for that matter.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Late for a Very Important Update! Or, Confessions of a Shopgirl, Day 1




I was supposed to publish this last night, as I know you are waiting with baited breath to hear the epilogue of "How I Lost One Job and Found Another," so I won't waste any time apologizing for my lateness. And sorry to be late posting this, by the way - by the time I got home, I was about ready to fall over, and Mr. was waiting to tuck me in before staying up too late studying for his exams. So, without further ado, onto today's topic: what's it like to be a shopgirl?




My first thought, given the infamous nature of the holiday shopping season, was that it would be like this:

video

Luckily, it wasn't a mad rush at all - I got to keep my coat, and there was even enough downtime for me to get a tour of the counter and see where everything's kept. Which was good - because up until that point, I had been almost entirely useless at the counter and felt constantly underfoot. Yet that's the learning curve, as they say, and if I'm honest with myself, starting this position is not nearly as terrifying as starting my last position - I have a better idea of what to expect, at least as far as being the "new girl," and that helps a lot. I even made a decent-sized sale, all on my own, without knowing a damn thing about what I was doing. A good way to start my first day, I will admit.

So if it wasn't a mad rush, what did it look like? As suggested by my previous post comparing my experience to Maribelle's in "Shopgirl," my second thought was that it would be like this:


Apparently with plenty of snobby customers judging you and white haired men leaving you in awe of their footsteps . . . though mostly what I saw was little old ladies stocking up on makeup and confused men trying to find the store's exit. There was plenty of standing around, trying to stay busy, and waiting for a customer, though -- which brings me to what I have concluded is the most accurate representation of working in a department store:


With wacky shenanigans and double entendres for all!

In all seriousness, being a shopgirl does not seem to be that far off from how pop culture's portrayed it - with one important exception. I wore flats yesterday, thinking I was being sensible and planning ahead, but after spending eight hours on my feet, the pain in my heels was so bad that I was standing on my tiptoes just to give my heels a break. I'm desperate to avoid repeating that experience. Keeping in mind that my uniform requires I wear "simple, fashionable black shoes," I am using my time off to go shoe shopping.

These are fashionable, right?

Tune in Wednesday to see the shoes, track Mrs.' decorating progress and examine the first batch of holiday cookies. Recipes will be included!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday Surprise! A Bonus Post

I know, we're not supposed to see each other until tomorrow, but I was too excited to let it wait -- I know what I want to do for decorating.

This excited.


Paper snowflakes!! They don't melt, molt, or die, and they're super cheap to make. Add some curly willow branches in a vase, some votive candles and some faux wrapped gifts, and voila! A fun, contemporary holiday feeling that won't cost too much money and will last well beyond December. Here's the inspiration board:

I <3 Picasa, 'nuff said.

I'll keep you updated as things progress. See you tomorrow!

Friday, December 9, 2011

TAMPONS! And Other Quirky DIY Holiday Decor



This year, the Mr. and I will be house-sitting all through the holiday season, for an adorable black lab and a cat who seems pretty nice as long as you never make the mistake of rubbing his tummy.



Never again, Mr. Snuggles. Never again.

However, our house will still need to get into the festive spirit, since a) What kind of aspiring 1950's housewife would I be if I skipped out on decorating duty? and b) We'll be hosting a party a few days after Christmas, and I'd hate for everyone to think we just kept things the SAME all the time (the horror!). Yet without being home for much of December, we can't justify buying a tree -- thus, goodbye to my Honeymooner's Christmas Eve episode reenactment, at least this year.


Instead, I'm going to do something fresh and original this year, something homemade, something non-traditional. Yes, I am going to put those six years of art school to work!

Luckily, I'm not alone in this quest - I have the Internet to help me figure out just what to do. And lo and behold, when I search for "non-traditional Christmas decorations," what to my wondering eyes should appear but TamponCrafts.com!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Confessions of a Shopgirl

That's right folks! Out of the apron, into the lab coat - the lab coat of a makeup counter salesperson, that is. Or will be, possibly starting on Sunday. I took the job, on the grounds that it's better to have a sure thing than to keep looking around in the hope that something I actually want comes up (so much for risking my talent, eh?).

Yes, there may have been some angry words, and tears, and a lot of grappling with that nagging voice that keeps suggesting I'll never succeed at anything -- but there's also the peace of mind in knowing that at least I'll have a job, that I won't be pulling down our finances, that I won't be taking advantage of anyone's generosity while I continue to search for my "real job."

Which brings me to Claire Danes. Or more specifically, Claire Danes' character in 'Shopgirl.' Yes, I'm comparing myself to Mirabelle, although thankfully I don't have the headache of a love triangle that she deals with over the course of the film. There are the easy comparisons: She's an artist! I'm an artist! She works in a department store! I'll be working in a department store! There are also the more subtle things, like how I can use her difficulty choosing Mr. Right as a metaphor for my internal debate regarding the question of my career(s). But the most important lesson for me to take away from the film actually relates to the secondary story arc. Along with getting a job in her field and becoming self-actualized in her relationships, Maribelle finally gets a solo show. Yes, this is an American romance - she gets the boy, the show, and the great job. But there is more for me to strive for in this end than cinematic cynicism. What if I can be Maribelle? I have the boy, now I need the show and the job. Surely this can't only be a Hollywood fairytale.

With this, Mrs. (hopefully) ends her series of posts on unemployment, job hunting, and the sturm und drang associated with the post-collegiate doldrums. On Friday, look for a new post describing whatever wacky and wonderful thing strikes her fancy at the time -- possibly, it will involve makeup.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hark, a Quandry!

The good news: I got a job offer! The bad news: I don't want the job.

Yes, I am being a spoiled brat. Or at least I feel like one. I chose to get degrees in art and writing; what else do I want? It's hard to look at my friends who have graduated and have jobs they love; hard to look at friends who are in my field and going on to do things that I wish I was doing - it leaves me feeling like I'm slipping behind, and I can't see a clear path to joining them.

One of my friends who is succeeding in the art field, upon hearing that I was fired, told me, "F*** the nine-to-fives. You'll find something you love." Another friend, upon hearing that I had gotten a job offer, suggested I go ahead and take it, then keep looking for what I really want, thus "hedging my bets" in order to make sure I don't find myself in the panic I was in about three weeks ago. My grandmother told me a story about how when she moved to New York, things had gotten so desperate she was ready to take just about any job, and so when she got a chance to be a honey demonstrator at Altman's Department Store, she leaped for it, and her choice ended up putting her in exactly the right spot at the right time for her to move to her ideal job.