Friday, February 25, 2011

Food love- Hearty Rice

Ok, this is not a recipe so much as a suggestion for a dish.
I say this because there are no measurements. The amounts are to your liking.

We originally got this recipe when we were doing E-Mealz. They called it "Hearty Rice". It's cheap, quick and easy anytime.

What you need:
Cooked rice
Cooked taco meat
Corn (canned or frozen then heated)

Combine and eat. To me, it's very comfort food-esque. And a little fancier than Ramen :)

I had it for lunch today.
This round we had about 4 cups rice (cooked amount) and it was a mixture of brown and white, made in our "set it and forget it" rice cooker (love it!). I cooked up 2 lbs of meat, mixture of ground beef and ground turkey. I kept it separate because I use onions in my taco meat, which hubby hates. So I made 2 kinds of meat. I usually season mine with a LOT of cumin (love the stuff), chopped onion, salt, pepper, some garlic and chili powder. Or you can use a packet :) This time I used one small bag of frozen super sweet shoepeg corn, which steamed over our rice as it as cooking thanks to the handy insert our cooker came with. I really liked this corn. But I like just about any corn. I would say I put about a cup or cup and a half of shredded cheddar. And about 1 cup of salsa.

More or less of anything as you like it!

That's it! I think a can of beans would also be a nice addition. Basically you just mix it all together and serve. You can sprinkle more cheese on top for presentation. It's definitely not a fancy lookin' dish :)

Add something green (salad, veggie, guacamole) and you're good to go!

Leftovers for lunch
The more I look at it, I guess it's like eating the filling to a beef and rice burrito. Like a step up from Hamburger Helper :) But I like it!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

If you though your kids were testy today

Check out this blog I follow: Le Musings of Moi.

Summer did have a full day!

An informative rant :)

So, I got this text from my mom a while back:

Mom: "Is it true that Rick Scott wants ya'll to pay 9,000 for your health insurance?"
Me: "I dunno"

And that's about as far as it went. I try to steer clear of too much politics. No sense in borrowing worry for things that have not and may not happen. Until today. I got curious and decided to research it. I found the article the information came from in a Florida online newspaper here.

Two precursors, just in case you don't know: 1. Rick Scott is our governor. 2. I am a state employee.

If you read the article, I fall into the first category, family coverage. Yes, just for adding a spouse, I now pay more than triple the monthly premium I used to. Our dental coverage has an employee+spouse option, but our health does not. Individual or family. Cut and dry.

Now, don't get me wrong, the coverage we have now is still sa-weet. A $180/mo premium for family coverage is great. $20 copay for family practice, $40 for specialists, free annual pap and physical, free outpatient surgery, $50 ER deductible and $250 hospital deductible. Pretty spiffy. Good Rx coverage too.

Buuuut- if the new employer contribution cap is implemented in 2013, my monthly premium for the existing plan (if the coverage and current premium do not change) would be $826.67/mo! Oh my GOODNESS!

That is because while I now contribute $2160/year to my health insurance and the employer (State of Florida) contributes $12,760; if the plan goes into place the state would only contribute $5K, so I would pick up the $7,760 difference. 

Now, don't get me wrong. I am for a balanced budget. I know cuts have to be made, and I will deal with them. But they better darn be sure to start offering some alternative plans. I have the cheapest no-deductible plan there is currently. I like having an HMO. We do currently have the option of Health Savings/Health Investor plans (the high deductible low premium kind). Believe me, I researched thoroughly and ran the numbers. Perhaps if I accessed the medical field more often than I do and had a bigger cash reserve, I would have chosen that plan. In the future, I may be forced to.

But- I feel like these plans are best for major-medical coverage really. I still don't go to the doctor unless I'm severely injured or ill for more than a week or so. I have not been to my primary doctor in a year, because nothing has been wrong. But let me tell you, if all my trips came out of my pocket, I would be even less likely to get "preventative" care. As would many others. Which in the end does not benefit the system at large. That's why just this year all state HMO's had to make preventative care copay-free. To encourage people to do it and not wait until major problems arrive.

This move is to cut spending obviously, and make our benefits "more in line with the private sector." I am for that. But let's also make our salaries "more in line with the private sector." Everyone knows the state has lower pay but better benefits. I could definitely be making more money in the private sector with my BSN. But I chose this job for the schedule. There have been no raises in the 3 years I've been here. And apparently there have been no general raises in the 4 years before that.

The article mentions that the effect on "recruitment and retention" should not be overlooked. I'm pretty sure with unemployment the way it is, there would be plenty of people ready and waiting to fill our jobs, even with less benefits. I'm not so naive as to overlook that. But, I can only speak for my department. There are several departments who already are severely over-worked and under-appreciated. The retention there may not be so great.

I will not worry about it for now. I have no idea what situation I will be in in 2 years, or if the cap will even pass. But, the legislature had better get some way better plan options if they expect any state employees to be able to afford health insurance.

And of course there will be less ramifications if money is cut from the state employee budget rather than the state entitlement programs budget. If they cut our budget- we whine, we protest, we find other jobs. If they cut their budget- they riot, they picket, they are destitute. Since my job puts me in the position of being paid by the state to assess people for entitlement programs, I will probably see big changes either way.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

So What Wednesday 02/23/11

Today I say so what if...

I sobbed the night before my first day back at work after John's surgery. I just love being at home with him. And it's especially hard for me when he gets to be at home but I have to be at work. And when I find notes like this when I wake up:

Kindergartener-esque writing thanks to using his left hand :)

I ate cereal at 5am, but then potatoes, cheese grits, OJ, a sausage biscuit and lemon layer cake at 8:30am. It was so tasty and gave me something to do besides sit in the waiting room during the surgery.

I've bought 68 pounds of ice since Friday. Who knew John's polar pack used so much?!

I try to comfort with food. I'm a Southern woman :) That's why there was king cake, ice cream, soda, starburst and hugs for my baby. You're supposed to get what you want while you recover :)

I wanna be Susie Homemaker and sometimes I get pretty emotional that right now I can't be. It must be something God intended for me to do if I desire it so much.

We have the pace of snails on our walks right now. I don't mind spending extra time just talking with my husband and stopping for smooches in the middle of the street.

I feel like my legs are as ghastly white right now. My hubby loves me too much to let me go to the tanning bed, and I've not yet had time for the beach. I'll just have to spray something on or deal.

If I can't get into the doctor's office for a month for my Lap-Band follow-up care consultation. At least the appt. is made and I'm on my way!

What are you saying "So What" to?
As always, this theme is brought to you via Shannon at Photobucket

Monday, February 21, 2011

Weekend Update in Pictures

The DH had outpatient shoulder surgery

In his gigantic immobilizer sling
He's spent a lot of time in drug induced sleep. Thank the Lord!

The kiddos have been keeping him company some

I'm watchin' you dad
Gettin ready to take off the dressing
Bye bye pain pump. Pills only now.

Such teeny tiny incisions!

A bit pasty after that ordeal. Came close to puking.
 So Friday was a big day for us. We had to be up by 4:45 in order to give John his 2nd special antiseptic shower and be to the hospital for 6am. Poor DH was more than a bit nervous. He has never been under general anesthesia and is very needle-phobic. However, his nurse Roxanne was really great. She's an old pro and kept chatting and sharing to keep his mind off what was coming. They gave him a Valium for the nervousness, but all it really did was make him sleepy. So after a lot of questions and paperwork, it was time for the IV. Just in time, the surgeon came in to visit. So John had to talk to him while the IV was being done, which helped. The Lidocaine numbing and the great skills of our nurse also helped.

John was so pitifully sweet during the whole ordeal. He kept asking all of the staff's names and telling them thank you. Genuine thank you's. I know they do not get this a lot and I was so proud of him. His surgeon is also a Christian, so John asked him to pray with us before he was taken in. During the prayer my poor DH shed a few tears. That was very emotional and hard to see. I knew this surgery was very routine and low-risk, but in that moment I could not help but feel a little anxious too. As they wheeled him out of the room I got a little misty myself.

But, about 30 minutes after I had been in the waiting room they let me know the surgery had started and all was going well. So I walked over to the cafeteria and had a delicious hot breakfast including some wonderful cheese grits.

After several shows on Food Network, some texting, facebook updates and phone calls, the surgeon finally walked through the doors. Everything went fine. In fact, his shoulder was only torn in 2 places instead of 3 as they thought. They removed a "wad" of scar tissue that was probably causing all the aches.

Then about 90 minutes later I was able to see him again. He did well in recovery, he's done pretty well at home (pain is expected, but he's dealing well), and he's even done well out and about. However, I am very sad about returning to work tomorrow. There's a lot of things I prefer to help my one-armed man with that he'll have to handle alone. Like cutting food. And getting his sling on and off. And hooking up his ice pack. And scratching all the places that are itchy that he can't reach. And giving him all the kisses he's been asking for. Oh how can I leave him?

Anyway, I guess we will have to see how it goes. I may have to take some more time off, for my own mental comfort.

And my mom adopted a dog! To go with her new house that's being built :) Welcome 3yo mini Schnauzer "Graycie"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

So What Wednesday 02/16/11

So what...

if my work computer background is a photo of me smooching the hubby? Not too many people see it :)

if I can't sing 1st soprano in the choir. But the director would rather me try and be a bit screechy than to tell me what the parts are for a 2nd soprano. It's his prerogative.

that the girl who used to clean and wash her car fairly regularly has not done so since December. And the gravelly water splashes are really starting to show. And the inside has more crumbs than I would like. I'm too cheap, too unmotivated, and it's too cold! (Although not this week, but I can't do it at night when I'm off!)

if the car described above would be immaculate compared to my husband's. : )

if my gut is in a race to overtake my boobs, and it's a close one. Remember that time I said I did not like myself? Well, this week is better. And I am working on the referrals I need to make. Just waiting to hear back and make a decision.

if my grown husband gets nauseated, anxious, weak and sweaty when even thinking about being poked with a needle. I enjoy being his comfort : )

if I told my hubby not to have his dad come into town for his out patient surgery Friday but to wait til I go back to work. I have this idealistic situation in my head where we spend hours together (even though hubby is drugged) and I lovingly care for my poor invalid.

if I can't remember all the little quotes or actions that happen throughout the week that I say I'm going to blog about, and then forget. I can't be expected to keep up with so much! (But maybe I will try making notes in my phone or something)

Sorry I can't think of much else. As stated above, I forgot them!

What are you saying "So What" to?
As always, this theme is brought to you via Shannon at Photobucket

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Le Day of Love 2011

So this year was my first married Valentine's Day. I lurrrved it!

I kinda started on the weekend, by giving John cards Saturday night- Monday night. I like to stretch out every holiday : )

Monday morning started earlier for hubby- as he agreed to get up and eat the breakfast I made.
I believe he said "Are you kidding me?"

Yum Yum. Bacon, cheese eggs, banana muffins and Ovaltine
Then at work these lovelies arrived for me. So pretty.
Took the pic at home though

That afternoon I got off work a couple hours early so I could have time to primp, and so we could beat the mad rush to the restaurant. I used hot rollers for my hair- but my hair is going through curl rebellion lately- so it quickly fell out to this:
Shows the highlights hubby helped me do quite well though

Underneath I had on a red cotton dress and black boots
We had a wonderfully yummy dinner at a restaurant right on the beach. It's fairly new and we hadn't tried it yet. We got there about 5:45 and still had to wait about 20-30 minutes. But there were pretty views to be had while we waited.
Sunset as we drove to dinner

Ready for yummy!

View from the outside bar area

Waiting for our table

Smoochie smoochie


View from the other side of the restaurant
They were serving a Valentine's special that night. It sounded pretty good except the lobster macaroni, which could kill John : ) So we opted for something off the regular menu. You should have seen how huge my dish was in person!
Crispy pork shank with braised cabbage

John's Cowgirl Ribeye
I got a little bored while we waited for dinner. We were seated facing a floor-to-ceiling window looking out over the water. But unfortunately it was dark so you could not really see out. I wondered if the cute reflection we could see of ourselves would show up on camera. Guess what, it does!

How sweet is love!

Here's the results of our cards. We like to do more than one : )

The ones on the left are to John from me. The ones on the right are the reverse : ) John even included a card from the kids to me (the puppy one).
The card he sent with the flowers read: You will always be my Valentine. I love you more then ever. Misspell included on purpose. That's how I know it's from my adorable yet spelling impaired husband : )

John Moment: The Homer Simpson card was slid under the bathroom door as I was getting ready. It's somewhat of an inside joke. You see, my manly husband has an *intense* dislike of even the thought of anyone knowing what he's doing in the bathroom. And he doesn't want to even hear me tinkle either. If I need toilet paper, he opens the door the tiniest amount possible and shoves his hand in with his eyes closed. He would like to pretend that no one potties : ) Although he doesn't mind talking about his bathroom habits. Anyway. The Homer card talks about when people are together long enough, they get comfortable. On the inside is a view of Homer's backside (clothed) standing just inside a door. It has sound and says "I'm wizzin' with the door open, and I'm lovin' it" Lol. John wrote "Not this year, but maybe next!" Too funny that man!

So here's to hoping everyone else had a lovely Love Day too!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pay it forward

Today at work I did our monthly in-service as we nurses are required to do. With the upcoming holiday I did it on the health benefits of love.
As an example of it- I wrote something nice about each of my co-workers on their handout.
Then I had an extra, so I wrote one out for the hubby too.

After talking about it and writing about it, I realized how good it does make you feel to do something nice for someone. It is good for your health also.

With Valentine's Day coming up, and so many people without someone to recognize them, I urge you to write a snail-mail note or card or do something out of the ordinary special for someone just to say "I was thinking about you". You will be blessed and so will they.

This is John's note

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The story of my life

is...always wishing, wanting, contemplating, trying and sometimes even succeeding at losing weight.

Currently I'm in a wishing/wanting phase. I look back at our pictures from our wedding and honeymoon and think "who is that girl?" She was thinner, tanner, and just looked more attractive and healthy. The last year has been wonderful for my heart and soul, but not so great for my body. Some days I feel just plain frumpy and huge. I can't imagine how I'll feel during pregnancy someday. It is not a fun feeling.

However, I can't say that I hate the feeling enough that I've made a real effort to change. I have all these great ideas- I'll start walking, I'll do the 5K training program again, I won't eat so much crap. But I've yet to put that into practice. I definitely have always done better exercising in a group or with someone more motivated than me. I don't have that right now.

So, I am thinking I am going to take the "easy" way out for at least the first 5-20 pounds. I don't know if I've ever mentioned it on here, but in December of 2006 I had Lap-Band surgery (which as you can see is not the be-all end-all for everyone). In fact once the "honeymoon" period of drastic weight-loss is over many people re-bound. Perhaps not to morbid obesity but at least to "chunky."
{I lost about 45-50 pounds initially for those who are wondering}

But, I started to have some complications last fall and winter just before the wedding. I had gotten my band tighter in the hopes of losing a few extra pounds before the wedding. It was too tight, way too tight. I could not even keep down water. I had to have it loosened. It was still too tight really. I also got a flu-like illness around the same time. And in all of this, I was having to travel 3 hours and spend about $300 each time it was adjusted. I was miserable. So, I made the decision to have it completely loosened. At the time I was wearing a size 12. I just decided to let go and enjoy my engagement, wedding and honeymoon. And I did, very much.

But fast-forward a year and I have gained probably about 15 pounds (refuse to get on scale for now). None of my size 12 pants fit. My new "fat" pants are tight. My first anniversary and hopefully warmer weather (which means the beach) are approaching.

So, I have decided to look into tightening the band again. But much more conservatively this time. I know that I will have to train my mind again too that I will only be able to eat VERY small amounts at a time. My brain still has never learned to separate food from pleasure. I will still have to keep working on that.

But, I am contemplating it. Also going to look into seeing if I could get a local provider and have it covered under health insurance. If not, I'll be making the $300 3hr trip I reckon.

As far as the tan and blond- it appears that I will have to wait until it's warm enough to let the sun tan me or settle for tanning lotion. Alas, my husband cares too much for me to allow me to visit the "sun" beds I love so much. I have not done it since the wedding.
The blond- the jury is out. For now I am just letting the color and faint highlights I had fade naturally and see where it goes. Maybe add more highlights towards spring. Who knows.

Anyway, I will update ya'll on what I find out and what I do.
Here's to better days.

So What Wednesday 02/09/11

Yay for me! Four weeks straight of consistent So What Wednesday Blogging : )

So what if I eat Ramen Noodles twice in one day?
So what if I need to drink 2 gallons of water to combat that choice?

So what if I call to complain when Taco Bell charges me for a supreme taco and I only get a regular one?
So what if the price difference was only 49 cents?

So what if I bowled a 45 last week? I never claimed to be a good bowler

So what if I sometimes buy cheesy love gifts? It's still a love gift

So what if I harassed my father-in-law into "Kissing the Moose" at our local Irish restaurant. I wasn't going to let him back out once he said he was going to.

So what if I'm chronically 5 to 15 minutes behind each morning. Sometimes a few more kisses are more important. It's so hard to leave my hubby and doggies snuggled up in bed.

So what if I need to sweep my floors almost daily because my fur-babies are shedders. I love them enough to deal with it.

So what if I ate my Cheerios out of a cup while driving to work this morning. Cereal in a cup is almost the same as cereal in bowl. And I'm running 5-15 min late remember?

What are you saying "So What?" to today?

As always, this theme is brought to you via Shannon at Photobucket

Friday, February 4, 2011

People watching at the dog park

So last Saturday, my darling husband and I took the kiddos to a park especially for them. The forecast was for great weather, and I was feeling guilty about not walking them or taking them out for anything but a potty break in a several weeks. It's a good thing they seem to enjoy being home bound : )

Our city established a dog park inside one of our established "people" parks a few years ago. I think it's pretty nice. They have 2 large fenced-in areas for running around and then another large area that has a nice shoreline so the dogs can swim if they want. We avoided the water and sand. Too dirty : )

But, in the 2 regular areas, one is for dogs over 25 pounds and the other is for those under. Of course it is also a bit smaller. We have taken the kiddos in both areas, because sometimes there are not any dogs in the small dog area. They are about 16 and 18 pounds so they are not totally helpless there : )

Anyway, this day there were lots of dogs in each park. So we took them in the small dog area. You should have seen the looks on our faces and the other owner's faces as we walked in. Today the small dog park was populated by mostly "rodent" dogs and pampered purse puppies. It was not looking good. It's so interesting to see the way both dogs and owners act in the park. For the most part people are pretty chill and willing to let dogs be dogs. But then you get some pairs that are akin to the kid at school who had to wear SPF 90, zinc, special UV protective bathing suit, floaties, nose plug and swim-ring to the pool, and his accompanying way over-protective mom.

This day that pair came in the form of a small brown male poodle mix and his accompanying "owners" of a 13 year old girl and her elitist homemaker mom. Really he owned them : ) I believe it was there first time to the dog park. The mom was asking other owners if bringing their dogs was scary at first. The girl kept picking him up and soothing him and keeping him away from the other dogs. Our poor dogs were being shooed and told "no" by this bratty teen because they were getting near her dog and making him nervous. Our dogs like to chase and run. Hers liked to whimper and hide. I was nice enough not to tell her to leave our dogs alone. That's part of being in the "chill" owner group : )

Also there were several chihuahua mixes, including a cute but terrified little guy named Poncho. His owners were cool though. They wanted him to toughen up a bit. They did not mind that he would squeal like he'd been bitten every time our dogs would chase him. Let me be clear, our dogs chase, rough play, bark and even growl. But they do not bite. They are just being the pack animals with pecking orders just like God intended. As much as I love them, they are not people. And especially at the dog park or in the company of other dogs, that is apparent.

So after awhile of watching our dogs not have anyone to play with that wasn't scared or whining and feeling like our dogs were the bullies of the group, we decided to move to the "big dog" park. We had seen a Corgi and Basset Hound over there that were only a little bigger than our dogs.

Let me tell you, the owners over there are a little more chill. It is expected of those dogs to be big, rough and tumble. Little Ernie and Eby must think that they are German Shepherds anyway, because they were chasing, growling and barking at dogs 5 times there size. We even had to get up off the park bench and stand in the middle of all the dogs because ours started being territorial of us and the area we were sitting in. We had to calm them down several times they would get so worked-up barking.

Then, another newbie entered the big dog park. It was trouble right off. After clearly reading the sign, a lady stepped in with her 5-month old large breed puppy, and a Chihuahua with an attitude problem (the one that almost all Chihuahua's have). Well like 4 big dogs rushed them as they came in. The Chihuahua starts barking and snapping and bearing his teeth. The big dogs do the same. Only this lady is freaking out about her little dog. Then her friend is like "Whose dogs are these, who lets their dogs act like this?" and getting loud and annoying. So I think someone did come and break it up a little. But everyone just kinda stared at her and was like, can you read a sign? BIG DOG park. Then she seemed uncertain again after her friend took the Chihuahua (who evidently couldn't hack it in the little dog park either because later I saw him sitting on a bench outside the parks with the friend) and she was left alone with her big puppy. Two large dogs came over, just saying hi and checking them out really, and she starts acting nervous like they're gonna bite and her pup is like hiding between her legs.

Finally, an older gentlemen who was there with his young German Shepherd let her know she needed to let her dog off it's leash because it makes him feel defenseless against the other dogs who are not on leashes. Wise man. He must know Cesar's Way. So she let him go, and although he still stuck pretty close to her, he was better. And they both loosened up a bit.

So that day was a lesson that even though at home my dogs are my little precious poopsies, I should not forget that they are indeed still dogs. Just like kids, they act different in public in a pack of theirs peers than they do at home. I can't keep them from all life's trials and lessons. That would only make them weak and unprepared for real-life experiences.

Lessons how the nature of dogs and people are different, but the lessons they teach us can be alike.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

So What Wednesday 02/02/11

So what if I've neglected my blog this week? It's my blog! :) But seriously, there's nothing to tell because I was sick this weekend and did nothing exciting.

Ok, well we did take the dogs to the park when I was on meds before I had the wost day of illness. Maybe I'll do a little post on that later.

So what if the headquarters of our company must be consulting with the IRS in writing our new policies. Cause it seems about that nonsensical and impractical. Repeat to yourself "I have a job with benefits."

So what if I miserably fell off the low-carb bandwagon. The hubs and I have decided to cut the grocery budget waaay back in favor of accomplishing the debt-free-by-the-end-of-the-year goal, so I'll be consuming a lot of cheap carbs (rice and beans!) for awhile. And I'm so excited. And so what is the point of continuing the meat-fest?

So what if I wear yoga pants to work. They're black. I wear long shirts. I make sure they're as white dog hair free as possible.

So what if our office is now doomed to be a disaster since we are supposed to be ramping up the eBay business? I can keep the door closed. I can. I can. I can. I must accept others' organization styles. I must I must  I must. : )

So what if my new phone's touch buttons must be pressed 5 times to work whenever it feels like it. I'm saving $30/ month.

So what if a colleague made me wait 90 minutes past scheduled time to present my topic, then told me I had 10 minutes. I took the time I needed anyway.

Ok, I gotta go ya'll! Enjoy my little rants!