Saturday, December 27, 2008

"Leftover Turkey Soup" Recipe

So after dinner was consumed and the ("Everyday!") dishes were in the dishwasher ("Thanks, Sharon!"), it was time to stow the leftovers...

I didn't have much energy at that point ("Thanks, Tryptophan!"), so I pretty much dumped all the side dishes back into their plastic containers, wrapped Mr. Turkey up in miles of aluminum foil, and shoved everything into the fridge...

That actually turned out to be a good idea since it's easier to strip the meat from a cold bird, than a warm slippery one...

"Yeah, I meant to do that!!!"
There wasn't much breast left over, but we did get a couple of extra meals out of it. Plenty of dark meat, as well as the wings and legs. I stripped off all of the usable meat and stuck it in a zip-lock baggie.

There was still plenty of not-so-usable meat on the carcass so I figured I'd make us a batch o' Turkey Soup.

Here's how I did it (And I gotta tellya - it was deeeeeeeee-lish! One of my best efforts to date!).

Unfortunately, I wouldn't make a very good "Recipe Writer" b/c I'm not good at keeping track of quantities/measurements, as a rule. Especially when it comes to homemade soup! I pretty much employ the "Dump it in and Taste It" approach. So you'll have to adapt it, accordingly!

Leftover Turkey Soup

Put the turkey carcass and skin in a big Dutch Oven (I really have no idea how big mine is - but it wasn't quite big enough! I had to break up the body to fit it in the pot!). Cover with water. Put it on the stove and let it heat to a light, rolling boil. Then turn it down to simmer.

In the meantime, hop on your computer and Google "Leftover Turkey Soup" to get an idea of what sort of ingredients you'll want to use. I found TONS of hits and the general jist is: Throw in every damned thing you can find!!!

For the initial boiling/stock creation I threw in:

Half a large red onion, coarsely chopped
Two large cloves of garlic - also coarsely chopped
Appx 3 Tablespoons fresh parsley leaves (shredded w/scissors)
Appx 1 Tbs fresh thyme (shredded)
Handful of baby carrots
2 Bay leaves
4-5 Chicken bouillon cubes
1 tsp celery salt
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Several shakes of Poultry Seasoning (I used Bell's Turkey Seasoning. The kind that comes in a little yellow box)

Let the whole thing simmer for 2-3 hours. You're supposed to cover it - but the liquid was too close to the top of the pot, in my case!

Cook it 'til all of the meat has fallen off the carcass. Then start scooping the bones out with a slotted spoon.

I set a couple of plates off to the side and started piling the turkey bits and bones on one plate - until I got the liquid down low enough that I could actually pour it into a different pot. Use a strainer to pour the liquid from one pot to another. Then dump the contents of the strainer onto the side plate.

Sit down and have a cocktail while you wait for the turkey bones and bits to cool off...

Next comes the messy part (which is why you'll be glad you had the cocktail!). Start separating bones from bits. Bones, fat, skin and bay leaf go to the trash... Bits go to the second plate. Bits include smidges of turkey meat and mushy-smushy veggies - basically anything edible!

Since I started this fairly late in the evening, I decided to stop after this. I poured the turkey stock into several plastic storage containers. I threw the turkey/veggie bits into the last half-container of stock and put everything into the fridge overnight...

Again - this was a Good Idea because after they were refrigerated, all the fat rose to the top and it was easy to scoop most of it off with a spoon and discard it...

"Yeah, I meant to do that!!!"

The rest of the stock was kinda gelatinous at this point - but that goes away once it gets re-heated...

I threw all of the stock (except for the half-container w/turkey-bits) back into the dutch oven and let it start heating up.

As for the 'bits,' I added a large fresh clove of garlic and I ran 'em through the blender/chopper to puree them before dumping them in with the broth. That was a very good idea and added a lot of "Oomph" to the flavor!

I let this simmer for awhile (maybe half an hour) and then started adding every-damned-thing I could find to the soup :-D

Chopped up some leftover turkey into spoon-sized pieces and threw it in
Added some more chopped onion (not so coarse, this time)
Threw in some more baby carrots
Chopped up some celery
Added more fresh parsley and thyme
Added about 1/2 cup of the spinach/artichoke dip
And a cup or so of gravy
Even threw in about 1/3 cup of the sweet potato casserole and mixed it in (that was an EXCELLENT addition - but I did need to add more salt to offset the sweetness).
Then a bag of frozen mixed veggies (peas, carrots, corn, beans)

Let it simmer away...

Hmmm... Now what?

I didn't have any rice - but I DID have Pasta Roni!!! I grabbed a box of Angel Hair Pasta w/Herbs. Broke up the pasta into thirds and tossed it in. I even threw in the "Herb Seasoning" packet.

At this point, the soup was starting to get a bit thick, so I added a couple of cans of Chicken Broth (one was Chicken w/Garlic - the other was just plain Chicken). Naturally I was taste-testing the flavor of the broth the whole way through...

Toward the end of cooking - probably about half-an-hour before I would declare it "Done" - I added about a cup of sliced, fresh, brown mushrooms and let them simmer in as well.

I gotta tellya - this was a DAMNED GOOD SOUP!

I can't tell you how many servings - but I can tell you it's a LOT! If we don't manage to polish it off tomorrow, I swear I'm gonna freeze the leftovers 'cuz it would be a crime to throw this away!

(BTW - I'm not normally one to "rave" about my own cooking! But I'll make an exception in this case!)

I think the main things that Made The Difference were:

1-Pureeing the turkey/veggie bits and adding 'em back in
2-Adding some leftover gravy
3-And the pureed sweet potatoes - Oh my Gawd! Deee-lish! One doesn't expect a hint of sweetness in soup (at least *I* don't!) - but that added just enough of a "zing" to make me go "WOW!"

So if you've got a turkey carcass sitting in your fridge right now - I suggest you make yourself a batch of Leftover Turkey Soup! You'll be glad you did!!!


Lessons Learned

Yeah, so the Bahston Mahket Heat 'N Eat Meal-Deal sounded like a totally cool idea, right?

(And I'm not complaining... I'm merely "Sharing my Observations!")

(Okay, maybe I AM complaining!!)


Turkey Banquet for 12 includes:
Spinach/Artichoke Dip + Crackers
11 lb Whole Turkey
Mashed Taters 'n Gravy
Veggie Stuffing
Cranberry Walnut Relish (tho I don't recall seeing any walnuts in it - come to think of it!)
Apple and Pumpkin Pie

I also added a couple of Sweet Potato Casseroles on the side (and BOY were they sweet!). They were kinda like mashed/pureed sweet potatoes with lots of brown sugar mixed in. Then they had mini-marshmallows and streudel-crumblies to sprinkle on top. Yes - *very* sweet! (But also *very* tasty!)

Total bill was appx $100 (after $10.00 off coupon) so, honestly, a pretty economical approach to take. Although I don't really think it would feed 12 (unless 6 were small children!). I'd say it would feed about 8-10 adults...

(BTW - They also had options for a Spiral Sliced Ham Banquet for 12 - or a Boneless Turkey Breast Banquet for 6)

So on Thanksgiving day, I'd perused their website and read thru the cooking instructions. They indicate that you should allow about 2 hours for heating/prep. Okay...

Price is right...

Work sounds minimal...

What the hell - Go for it!

So I order the meal online... Key in my credit card... Place Order.. M'kayFine...

I'm all set for our Low-Drag/Time-Saving Christmas Holiday Feast!

Well, except for the Time-Saving part... Ummm... I think not..!

First there's the 45 minute wait (standing in line, paying w/my credit card [again?!], then waiting-waiting-waiting) to pick-up the meal... When I placed the order online, I was prompted to "select" a pick-up time (1:45-2:00pm, Christmas eve was practically the ONLY time-slot that was open!). I arrived at 1:50pm - but didn't get out 'til after 2:30pm! To be fair, there were LOTS of ppl with the same idea and the kids at Boston Market were juggling just as fast as they could (And they even helped carry the stuff out to my truck)!

Then there's the realization that everything (except the turkey) is in plastic (yes, nuke-able) containers - which is fine, except that some of the stuff really needed to be oven-cooked. Or at least "finished" in the oven (gotta have a little crispy-ness to the stuffing and of course the marshmallows on the sweet p'taters need to be browned!)

Yeah, I s'pose I coulda dragged out some of my bakeware - but that went against the whole "Low-Drag" Concept!

So, "Oh boy!" A trip to the grocery store to pick up aluminum/disposable baking pans! On Christmas Eve!!! I can't even begin to describe THAT experience!!! (Hint: Wear protective gear!)

(The irony of THAT was - just a few weeks earlier - I'd gotten RID of a buttload of disposable aluminum baking pans during the Kitchen Purge!!!) (:::sigh:::)

* * * * *
I spent Christmas morning setting up the tables and whatnot.

So I asked Cindy to call me when they left the house - that'd give me 45-60 minutes' lead-time.

According to the destructions, the turkey should take 90 minutes to heat in a 350° oven - and heat it to an internal temp of 140° (140°??? Double-check that. Yup, 140°) Well, the turkey's in a roasting bag, and it's already browned, so I'm figuring we must be just re-heating it - rather than "cooking" it.

Okay... I stick a thermometer in the thigh just the same - and wait for the oven to pre-heat...

I put the turkey (which came in a grossly undersized aluminum roasting pan!) on a cookie sheet and put him in the oven. Then set out the hors d'oeuvres (veggie tray, cheese/crackers, spinach dip...). Then I sat down and try to figure out the logistics of getting everything heated and ready to serve at the same time while I waited for everyone to arrive

One oven. One nuker. Multiple side-dishes with different cooking times/requirements. Do I nuke the spuds first and hope they hold the heat? Can I squeeze the stuffing and sweet potatoes in the oven on the rack under the turkey? (Answer: "No!") Which saucepan should I use for the gravy and should I heat up both tubs o' gravy, or only one?

Basically, at this point, it was kinda like actually-cooking a complete Turkey Meal!!!

And what's that beeping? (about 35 minutes into it). It's the digital thermometer. Evidently the turkey is already at 140°! Huh?!! What?!! It was supposed to roast for 90 minutes!!

So now I'm scrambling like a madman! Take the turkey out of the oven and set him on a cutting board to "rest." Start nuking the sweet potatoes and stuffing (in their plastic containers), so they'll get warm then transfer 'em to metal containers so I can get the crispy-toasty part taken care of. Throw the spuds in the nuker and dump a tub of gravy in a saucepan. Sprout a few extra arms and dance on one leg while somehow managing to get EVERYTHING ready to serve at once!

("Ohhhh yeah... THIS is the suckiest part of cooking! It's not the prep-work! It's the juggling to get it all done at the same time!!! Duuuuhhhhh!!!!")

Okay, everything's *just* about ready, and the turkey should be well-rested... I open the bag and get ready to transfer him to the serving platter. When I reach in to remove the bird from the bag, I notice the turkey really isn't all that hot.


And when I lift the bird out of the bag, I notice a rather unpleasant pinkish tinge in the drippings...


Stick the thermometer back in his thigh and find that he's barely 100°.

"Ohhhh sh*****t!!!"

Thankfully, I hadn't announced that dinner was ready. And everybody was off socializing in the den, so they were pretty-much oblivious to the antics in the kitchen. Everyone except Sharon, of course. She was sitting at the kitchen table looking incredulous and opined "I guess this isn't so simple after all - is it?"

Well, long story short: I backed up a few steps and put the bird back in the oven for another hour - and re-set the thermometer alarm to go off at 160° (THAT worked much better!). Slapped some foil on top of the side-dishes and set 'em on top of the stove to keep warm.

After about a half an hour, Rog starts circling around the kitchen (rather vulture-like, in retrospect! ;-) and announcing "I'm hungry. When's all of this supposed to be ready?" I caught Sharon smiling as I resisted the urge to strangle him. Instead, I gently guided him over to the Appetizer Trays......

* * * * *
All Told: It took almost as long as cooking a full-blown turkey dinner would have taken! But it *was* very delicious.

It definitely did taste home-made - as opposed to tasting like it came from Boston Market (Not that Boston Market food tastes "bad" - it just has a "Boston Market" flavor to it). So the turkey tasted home-made and was quite delicious. There was PLENTY of food to go around and yes, we do have leftovers. But not an excessive amount.

I actually am very pleased with how everything came out so, truly, this isn't a B*tch-Fest. I just wanted to "Share my Experience" and "Opinion" that "Heat 'N Serve" Holiday Banquet Meals are NOT as simple as they sound!!!

Would I do it again? Yeah, probably.

Won't be so bad next time - since I know what to expect! :-)

Friday, December 26, 2008

'Twas a Merry One...

Had the whole Famn Damily over - and it was good...

Sharon even made an appearance - so that was even better!

But it occurred to me that we really only have "seating" for 4. Maybe 5 can squeeze around our table but 6?! No way!
Well, I was inspired by the "12 Days of Redneck Christmas" that we'd watched the previous night on CMT. I did the only sensible thing - I dragged lawn furniture into the living room, threw a linen tablecloth on it and called it "Done!"

With the fancy chargers and candles and crystal - it looked just fine (well, except there was no disguising the fact that we were sitting on plastic lawn chairs!). Nah - the Family got to sit at the "nice" table and Rog and I (still sniffling a bit from last week's cold) took the "kids table!"

Dinner was delicious - TONS of food! And a Grand Time Was Had By All...

As for the Time-Saving Aspects of the Boston Market "Heat 'N Serve" Meal... Welllll... Let's just say there were Lessons Learned - and I'll share them at another time! :-)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

When I grow up...

I wanna be *just* like Helen!

Yep, I wanna be a Cantankerous Old Biddy! Can't wait!!!

I stumbled onto her blog (link, from a link, from a link of one of my "Regular Blogs").

Check-it-out: If the shoe fits

Funny... Yet insightful and aptly serious at the same time. Seems this blog is the Latest Sensation that's Sweeping the Nation.

I've read quite a few posts and I love it enough that I'm going to feature it on the list of "Blogs I Like."

I *wish* I could write like Helen. Actually, I can, but I tend to play it a lot more "Tame" than that in the blogosphere (Don't ask me why!!!). I guess I just prefer to save my Political Rants for hurling invectives at the TeeVee whenever Bushie-Boy's Smarmy Face appears on the news... (Well, except for the shoe-throwing incident. I damn near snorted margarita out my nose from laughter when we caught THAT on the news!)

* * * * *
But, reading her stuff makes me think that I really *do* have to work on my Story-Telling Skills (which, incidentally, I *do* possess!) and maybe kick this thing up a notch...

We'll see..............................

Sunday, December 14, 2008

...Still putting it back together

But it's slow-going...

The slider basket shelf thingies (for the narrow cabinet) didn't arrive, as expected - so I'm still "down" one cabinet. And Rog doesn't want to install the under-sink sliders 'til after Christmas (so technically I'm down TWO cabinets - but the under-sink cabinet was never very useful in the first place!).

I've ordered some Rubbermaid Drawer Organizers and a Plastic Baggie/Foil Rack thingie that mounts to the back of a cabinet door (Another item for the "Honey-Do" List!).

And I'm still waiting for the new Toaster-Oven...

So things are still a bit of a shambles. The kitchen looks great - but the garage is still pretty treacherous! (Although I did manage to clear off the Manly Workbench and Not-So-Manly Washer/Drier)

(Now if the Laundry-Faeries would just make an appearance!!!).

I made a Storage Locker run on Friday and offloaded a fair amount of sh*t (Boy is THAT getting disorganized! That's another project all by itself - and NOT one that I'm looking forward to!!!). And I'm starting a new Goodwill Pile.

Good thing about tackling this whole Kitchen Re-shuffle at this time of year is that there are tons of "Food Drives" going on. They had some big barrels set-up at the office for donations so I took advantage of 'em. That worked out well b/c I found tons of stuff that we're NEVER gonna eat (and no, it wasn't "expired" - the expired stuff got tossed!). So I got rid of lots of canned and dry goods.

(Hmmm... Maybe I can let go of some Pasta-Roni and BBQ Sauce, too???)

* * * * *
In Other News: The Living Room got cleared this past week, so I was able to shift the furniture and make room for a Christmas Tree (Yay!). Tree is "up!" (Just finished that, mere moments ago). We went for a smaller tree than usual this year (6' Douglas Fir). It actually works out better to have a smaller tree - but I've got waaaaay more ornaments than the tree can support! So I've stuck with a mostly-tropical theme this year. Goes well with the new Living Room :-)

Yard decorations went up a couple of weeks ago - we stuck with Blow-Up "Santa-on-a-Harley" out front (Last year, it was "Tropical Santa" - but my poor mini-palapa kept blowing into the neighbor's yard!).

I think, pretty-much, we are READY for the Holly-Daze!

Life is still Good...................

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Putting it all back together!

Okay, I'm starting to reclaim my living room so that - maybe, just maybe - we can put up a Christmas Tree!

Putting stuff back is proving to be even *more* challenging than I'd originally anticipated. I'm finding it's a lot like when you dig a hole in the yard: You can NEVER fit ALL the dirt back in it!!!

HA! That's probably not a very good analogy, is it?!!

When I first started putting stuff away, I started by tackling the spices /flavorings/baking-materials (flour, sugar, baking powder, yada-yada). I emptied one box and got it all loaded back into the designated cabinet. I stood back and admired my handiwork and thought to myself "Wow! Painting the insides of the cabinets was a GREAT idea! It looks like I've got TONS of space!!! It doesn't look 'crammed' at all!!!"

Well, it turned out I still had one more FULL box of spices/flavorings/baking/cooking-materials to stuff back in there! (And I *do* mean "stuff!") :::sigh:::


Actually, I think we "netted" slightly less storage space, than before. The Lazy Susans - while EXTREMELY convenient - definitely do not offer as much "space" as the plain ol' shelves did. So all of my bakeware (that required a complete purge of the lower cabinets, and crawling into the far back corner - on my hands-and-knees - in order to access it!), needed to find a new home...

"Prioritize By Need!"

I really don't "bake" all that often - to tellya the truth. But I *do* bake often enough that I do want the stuff "here" - not boxed-up in storage. So the Roaster-stuff and Baking Pans and whatnot now live over the fridge. Yeah, it'll be a PITA to get to 'em - but no worse than purging and crawling (Boy, that sounds downright NASTY doesn't it?!). And the oven is still acting as "auxiliary storage" for the cookie sheet, a pie pan, and my wok. That's actually not too bad...

I still need to re-jigger things a bit, but at least the majority of stuff *is* put away...

Unfortunately, we'll still be relying heavily on the "pantry" in the garage (which is now a complete SHAMBLES!!! AAACK!!!).

One thing that I definitely DO like is the pull-out drawer thingie inside the lower cabinet - next to the stove. It's on full-glides - that pull out ALL the way - and it's pretty heavy-duty. I was able to store ALL of my "frequently-used electrics" on that. Crock-pot, immersion blender, hand-mixer, coffee-grinder, contact-grill... I was even able to stash some mixing bowls in there. Freaking Awesome!!! LOVE IT!

And I ordered some pull-out baskets that will go under the sink. Unfortunately, it looks like the "trap" hangs a little low in there, so we may have to dremel the "back-wall" of the slider-basket so it's short enough to clear it. But it'll be nice to have fairly easy-access to all the cleaning crap (Rog gets to install that this weekend).

We're still waiting for the chrome slider-pull-outs for the narrow cabinet next to the sink (hopefully they'll be here Friday?). So all the plastic bags, foil, wax-paper stuff is still waiting for a home...

Oh, and I ordered a new "Space-Saver" under-cabinet-mount Toaster-Oven. So that should be arriving soon, as well.........

Yep - it's all coming together now! Yayyyy!

So next weekend, we'll get the tree set-up and I think we're Good-To-Go for the Holly-Daze! Christmas Dinner (à la Bah-ston Mah-ket!) will be here this year!
Life Is Gooooood!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Day #5: No More Brady-Bunch Kitchen!!!!

I present to you our "New and Improved" Kitchen!!!

The Sink Area - "Before and After:"
I just *had* to throw in the "Before and After Shot!" Ya gotta have the "Drama!" Check out my earlier blog post for more "Befores."

Sink and Stove Area:
Stove and Fridge Zone:
And detail-shot of new Crown Molding:

The molding actually *does* match the cabinets. I think it's just the angle of the shot that makes the molding look darker. I *really* like the molding! "It's Clee-Assy!"

(And yes, I know the ceiling needs to be repainted - that's an old stain from before we replaced our leaky roof! ;-)

* * * * *

All told, the job took a bit longer than anticipated (five business days - as opposed to three). But then again, it *was* three weeks' ahead of schedule! (Okay, maybe it ended up being two weeks)
("Under-commit and Over-deliver" is a tactic I use, myself, at work!) (It's served me well!)

Anyway - it's all done except for one of the under-cabinet-pull-out thingies. We'd wanted to replace the narrow lower-cabinet (next to the sink) with one that would pull straight-out with built-in-shelves. Turned out that wouldn't work, so we're getting baskets on sliders instead. They should be installed on Friday

All-told. I'm very satisfied with the work. So - if you're in the SanFran Bay Area - I definitely *would* highly recommend Kitchen Tune-Up in Fremont (No, I get NOTHING for the recommendation! I'm just a legitimately happy customer!).

They didn't try to up-sell a bunch of crap we didn't need/didn't want/couldn't afford; No "High-Pressure Sales BS" ("Sign TODAY for the Yaya Bonus"); They answered questions honestly and in a timely manner; They sold us What-We-Wanted for a Price-We-Could-Afford; They cleaned up, every day - and minimized the chaos in the house (Most of the chaos was self-induced!!!).

BTW - They would have "re-faced" without requiring a complete "purge" of the cabinets. But I wanted the interiors painted white (something I would highly recommend if you have soul-sucking dark cabinets like we did!), so the "purge" was necessary (and ultimately a Good Thing - when you consider how much "expired" stuff I found - and had to dispose of!!!)

What was amazing was: I'd planned on taking half-vacation-days through "the ordeal" (and I'd blocked three "No-Meeting" days for the scheduled duration), but it turned out I didn't have to! I was still able to work on my work-stuff alongside the workers who were refacing the kitchen. Most of the work was pretty quiet (Okay, there were a couple of days where the pneumatic nailer got to be a bit much!). But they were also very flexible. When their work ran-over (into Monday-Tuesday of this week), there were several times where I had Client Conference Calls scheduled... I simply asked them if they could avoid using the nail-gun for those specified hours - and they worked with me on it! All-told, it was about as painless as it could be!!!

My final "plug" for Kitchen Tune-Up Fremont: They Did What They Said They'd Do - When They Said They'd Do It! (Gee, what a concept!). And Isaac, the owner, is just an All-Around Nice Guy!

It seems almost weird that what should be considered "Basic Common Sense in Business" strikes me as being such a rarity these days!!! (It really does - particularly after all the pure bullsh*t I went through while I was gathering bids!!!).

Bottom Line: I am a Happy Camper!

Now, if somehow all of this crap would find it's way back into the cupboards.................


(There's just no pleasing me!!!)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Day #3 - Not *quite* done yet!

...But definitely getting there!

It occured to me that my "Living Room" shot from the other day didn't truly capture the Pure Pandemonium we are enduring right now. So let's try that again, shall we?

Honestly, it's getting to where *I'm* feeling frazzled - and I am normally pretty "flexible" where this kinda stuff is concerned! I am READY for this to be done already!!!

But, alas, it's not!

WorkBee-V showed up again bright-n-early this morning, and immediately got started with ripping out the bottom of the under-sink cabinet. It looked pretty nasty down there, but it wasn't wet or rotted (but it definitely HAD been extremely wet at some point!). Anyway, we now have a shiny new base down there (and yes, they're going to paint the rest of the interior white).

Here's a "during the destruction" shot:

By the end of the day, WorkerBee-V had "faced" everything. The doors and drawer-fronts aren't up yet, and they need to paint the "inside edges" of the cabinets (I took a door to Home Depot and got a quart of "color-match" paint). They'll also paint the undersides of the cabinets to match...

Here are some more pics of "End-Of-The-Day."

Upper-Near-The-Sink Cabinets:

Lower-Near-The-Sink Cabinet (and pretty white base!):

One more shot "most of the kitchen" at the end of the day.

It's already about a bazillion times brighter in here!!!

I was hoping I could spend the weekend re-stocking the cabinets and reclaiming my living room. But since I've got shelf liners I want to put down (NOT contact paper! Rubbery-Grip stuff), and since there's more painting to be done (and I don't want the liners painted!), I think it's best that I just buck-up and deal with the mess for a few more days....... :::sigh:::

Monday, they come back and finish the job - Yayyy!!! (I am sooooo ready!)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Day #2 - Not much has changed...

Not even worthy of add'l pics, I'm afraid!

WorkerBee "V" showed up today and put a second coat of paint on the cabinet interiors - so they're much brighter now! (Of course, photographically, they'd look about the same as yesterday's pics!)

He also installed the drawers (no drawer-fronts - yet). They're on FULL glides so they open ALL the way and you don't have to wrestle with 'em!!!

The actual re-facing materials were on a truck, all-day, en-route to San Ho-zay. They finally arrived around 4:30 this afternoon, but that was long-after WorkerBee-V had departed.

He should be here bright-and-early tomorrow morning and I have a sneaking suspicion that the job will be COMPLETE before he leaves - Yayyyy!!!

Better still - all of my "stuff" should arrive tomorrow, as well. So I can put the "grippy" (but non-sticky) shelf-liners down and start re-filling the cupboards this weekend! I also received my Mini-Lazy-Susans (for the "back" of the upper cabinets). I think I'll also receive my "under-sink" shelves that I'll have Rog install (after WBV replaces the Sink-Cabinet Base).

So far, I gotta say, I'm very pleased with my decision to go with Kitchen Tune-Up Fremont. The whole ordeal has been surprisingly painless! And amazingly non-disruptive. I didn't even have to move my "office" into Rog's territory (:::whew::: No Masking Tape Needed!) and I've been been able to keep working "full" days (although I do dash outside to the backyard whenever my work-cell rings).

I definitely plan to send 'em an unsolicited Letter-Of-Recommendation to top it all off!

Yep - I'm a very Happy Camper, so far................

Stay tuned! Hopefully, tomorrow, I can post some Bona-Fide "AFTER" shots!!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Day #1 - So far, So Good!

So Worker-Bee "V" showed up promptly @ 9:00am! That's a *very* good sign, IMHO!

Here are some random shots of "progress" taken throughout the day...

Doors removed most speedily:

Cabinet base interior painted:

Old Water-Damage under the sink (Bottom will be replaced and interior will be painted):

And 'lest you think this was all a "Walk-In-The-Park" - here's a shot of my Living Room AFTER the "Final" kitchen purge!!!
Here is our new Lazy Susan:

And more End-Of-Day Shots:

And another:

So far, I'm *very* pleased with the progress!!! Yes, there's still more painting to be done and No, we still haven't received the Cabinet Material - but it's still progressing quite nicely!!!
More to come... Film At Eleven..! =-)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tomorrow's the Big Day!

The Kitchen Refacers are supposed to arrive, tomorrow morning, to start painting the cabinet interiors... And - better still - IF the "materials" have arrived - they'll start the whole re-facing job as well!


All cabinets are all 100% completely EMPTY!

Can't say the same for the living room and garage, however! (Can you say "War Zone?!!").

Yeah, I heard a fair amt of b*tching from the spousal-unit this weekend when he couldn't find stuff... I'd pretty much emptied EVERYTHING - but reserved a couple of coffee-mugs, 4 drinking glasses, a buttload of paper-plates and plastic-cups, and the "most-used" items (couple of pans, crock-pot, couple cans of soup, plastic baggies/twist-ties, and pancake syrup) and shoved them all into two cabinets (one upper and one lower - next to the sink)...

"Do we have any cereal?"

"Nope. There was one box with 1/4" of crumbs in the bottom. I tossed it!"

GrumbleGrumbleGrumble - as he opens the freezer and pulls out some Eggo waffles...

"Where's the toaster oven?"

"In the living room, next to the piano." (Where else WOULD it be?!!) (J/K!)

He grabs the toaster oven, brings it to the counter and plugs it in...

"Where's the syrup?"

"In the upper cabinet, next to the sink."

He proceeds to open EVERY cabinet *except* the upper-one, next to the sink...

"I can't find a #$%& thing!!!"


He found it.

"Where's the butter?!!"

:::rolling eyes:::

"In the fridge." (Mind you, I haven't touched the fridge - other than my normal weekly ritual of "eradicating the science projects.")

Engineers HATE disarray!!!

I'm not overly fond of it - but I can adapt....

Then again, Roger's never been what you'd call much-of-a "Morning Person" so I s'pose this is to be expected! Best not to f**k with his morning routine (I learned THAT early-on!!! And yes, COFFEE is still readily accessible!)

Anyway - he's out of town right now - so he doesn't have to deal with the Final Stages of the "Kitchen-Purge Project!"

Unfortunately, he'll be home tomorrow - AFTER the work has begun (and certainly WELL-before it'll be complete!).

I can hardly WAIT for his reaction! (Methinks it'll be a "Take-Out" week!!!)

Add-to-that: The fact that I'll be working half-days from home - while all of this is going on (I'm taking half-vacation days) - and "My Office" is Smack-Dab in the middle of the kitchen! He did leave me his Extra-Long Network cable - which is *just* long enough to reach, ummm, HIS desk in the bedroom! This means that I'll be moving the work laptop into *his* territory!!! And yes, this means I'll probably have to :::gasp::: MOVE some of his stuff in order to be able to work.

This is gonna be interesting!!!

I think, maybe, I'll put masking tape down on his desk to outline his "stuff" before I move it - so I can make absolutely CERTAIN that I return it to it's original spot (I wish I was kidding about this! I'm NOT!!!) (He freaks out every time Aida, our maid, comes - b/c she MOVES his mouse and keyboard! I sh*t you not!!!) (Love him dearly - but he's definitely got his "quirks!") (and Gawd-Knows, I *don't!!!*).

The good news - particularly since I'm only working half-days - is that I'll be able to "clear-out" of his space well-before he comes home!

The more I think about it - the more I like the masking-tape idea... Must dash to the garage and make sure we've got a roll!



Back! Whew! Found it!!!

Okay, so I'll outline his monitor-base, keyboard, and mouse-location and HOPE I can make enough space for my laptop. Thankfully, his printer is identical to mine so it's conceivable that I'll even be able to print stuff...

Anyhoooo... Pandemonium OFFICIALLY begins tomorrow. I've got quite a few "Before" pictures. Hell, I oughtta post 'em now (kindly excuse the mess - I had a bunch of crap piled on the countertops when I took 'em!).

I now present to you our indescribably UGLY, Vintage-1973 kitchen... Cue the 1970's porno music, please (Right-click and "Open in New Window" so as not to navigate away from my blog).

...BTW - I'm partial to the "Debbie Does Dallas" theme (but choose whatever best-suits *your* vision of the '70s Vibe)!

(And no, there's no real porn there - just music!)

...Take your time - I'll wait!!

Okay, now where were we? Oh yeah, Our Kitchen! About the only thing missing is Avocado-Green Appliances!

Kinda blurry shot of the dishwasher/sink area:
To the right of the sink... The new(er) range and hood:
And lastly, to the right of the range, the Fridge Zone:
My desk is in the foreground, on the right. And yes, it is a FEMA-Certified Disaster Area (but *I* know where everything is!!!).

Anyhoooo... Those are the "Before" shots. Tomorrow, I'll start snapping some "Durings" and - with any luck - by Friday I'll be able to post some "Afters!"

I'm pretty damned excited!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Hope yours was a good one.

Mine was. We drove up to mom's house and Me & Rog, Sis & BIL and Mom all went to Crowne Plaza for the Thanksgiving Brunch. Expensive, but good...

Mom's too old to get into cooking (and - to be perfectly honest - she never really was "into" it!). So "Going Out" has been a Family Tradition for years.

I've hosted T-Giving here once or twice - but it's just easier to go the Buffet-Route.

Now, for Christmas this year, we'll go ahead and host it here - what-with the New Kitchen and all! But I'm going for the "low-drag" approach. Boston-Market all-the-way! Heat 'n Serve - Yeah! (I *like* it!!!). I'll probably still do some kinda home-made side-dish (and maybe try to find a recipe for sugar-free pumpkin pie), but it's mainly gonna be a "Cheater's Christmas" for us!

I'll still set a pretty table (gotta use the fine china - from mom - every once in awhile!). But I'm not gonna slave over a hot stove all frickin' day!

"Black Friday" is tomorrow - and all the shopping B.S. will begin (gotta add 20 minutes to my commute - just to get from the freeway to my house - since we live dangerously close to several shopping 'mauls!').

No, I won't be hitting the stores @ 5:00am tomorrow. As I'd mentioned earlier - my Christmas Shopping is DONE! (We're talking "wrapped and everything!")

Nope. Tomorrow I'm actually semi-working (most of our clients are closed - so it should be a quiet day). Roger's off, so we'll get the lights up on the outside of the house (neighbor across the street got his lights up last weekend - Aaaaack!).

I'll wait 'til the kitchen is done before I put the tree up (Living Room is piled high with boxes of kitchen sh*t!)

Anyway.... Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

For Posterity...

I present to you... The Infamous Blue Ducks!!!

Okay, *technically* they may be geese, but what-EVAH!!!

The bottom line is: I hate them and they are outta-here!!!!

After countless hours of scraping and yukking up [what's left of] my fingernails, I am thrilled to see them go!

They will be replaced with NON-sticky "Grip" kinda rubbery shelf-liner mats. So, 10-20-however-many-years from now when someone else takes over this house, they won't CURSE me endlessly whenever they decide to re-do the kitchen!!!

Hey - If I don't manage to check back in tomorrow - Have a Fantastic Thanksgiving Everyone!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


...That's where I've been! (I guess I should snap a photo of the blue-duck contact paper - for posterity!!!)

I'm happy to report that ALL of the kitchen cabinets are empty now (Yay!) - Except for one! And Blue-ducks are *nearly* all-gone!!!

Everything's stashed away - either in the garage-pantry, or in boxes.

I've only got one cabinet left now: The dishes, coffee-cups, and glassware cabinet. I'll run over to the storage place tomorrow and buy proper packing materials. And I hope to get that one emptied-out by Sunday.

I also uncovered a significant quantity of paper plates and plastic cups - so we can "survive" in the interim! They're in one of the previously-empty cabinets - but that stuff is pretty minimal, so they'll be easy to remove...

I did manage to make my Goodwill Run yesterday. Filled up almost half of the bed of the pickup, actually! So that made me feel very good! I got rid of sh*t - and we get a Tax Deduction - AND hopefully SOMEBODY less-fortunate-than-us can put this stuff to good use!

I call that a Win-Win-Win!

Roger's home from his latest Adventure (and hasn't kvetched about the general state of disarray - YET!)... And I'm back in the work-grind now (Busy as hell, actually! I hope that means I've got some semblance of "Job Security!").

The actual Kitchen Work starts next week (Wow!!!). I'm so excited!

Kinda funny to think it took MONTHS to lead up to this (what with the gathering-bids BS I went through) and, now that it's all said-and-done, the work'll be done in a matter of 2-3 days.

Hell, it's almost anti-climactic! Well, except for the fact that the kitchen is gonna look about 1000% BETTER than it does now!

Well, that and the fact that "putting sh*t back" into the kitchen is probably gonna be another ordeal - all on it's own (but this time I really-and-truly WILL be organized and methodical - I swear!!!!).

It's All Good!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kitchen Reface Project - Pandemonium Continues...

One Empty Cabinet!

I've decided to stop referring to this as Phase I. 'Cuz, let's face it, if I'm breaking this into Phases that would "imply" that there is some sort of "Order" to this whole project and - well, "Order" just ain't my forte!

I am an Organization-o-phobic! I need a Support Group, dammit!!!

Actually, I just went to trying to see if mine is a named condition, and, sadly - it's not!. Closest I could find was "Symmetrophobia - Fear of Symmetry!" (That ain't it. I didn't see anything for "Fear of DYMO Labels, either!")

* * * * *
I emptied ONE cabinet yesterday. But it was a Hum-Dinger! It was the lower "blind-corner" cabinet. The one where you literally have to get down on your hands-and-knees with a flashlight and actually CLIMB INTO IT to get to the far back corner. That's where I kept my bakeware (and discovered a whole bunch of other sh*t I never knew we had!). I've added a whoooooooole lot to the "Donate" pile!!!

After completing the one cabinet (well, it's not completely-complete - I still need to scrape the rest of the @#$% Blue-Duck Contact-Paper off the bottom shelf), I bailed-out on the Kitchen Project for the day. Sharon (BFF since childhood), returned my "SOS" call. See, it's very rare to have Rog out of town on the weekend - and that's the only "free" time that Sharon ever has - so we never really get to have any Quality Girl-Time together. So she called me back and I begged her for ideas for "Things to Do" ("Just get me OUT OF THIS KITCHEN!!!"), She came through with flying colors! (I'll post about that separately, I think).

* * * * *
I'm back in the kitchen today...

Right now, it's "B&B Time:" Break & Beverage. As of this moment, I now have... Let's see... Five (count 'em! Five!!) empty cupboards! The garage-pantry is stuffed to overflowing!!! Originally, I was all proud of the fact that I'd (ahem!) sorted and separated (but *didn't* alphabetize!) things by category, right? Electrics on the bottom. Canned goods above that: soups on the left, canned meat-like substances to the right of the soup, then veggies, then side-dish kinda canned-stuff (baked beans, chili, etc.)... Beverage-like substances were on the eye-level shelf (12-packs of soda, coffee, hot cocoa mix, powdered protein shakes). And "dry-goods" on the top shelf. (See?!! Heavy stuff on the bottom, lightweight stuff on top! Don't want Nancy pinned under a 7' cabinet when it topples over!)

Ohhhhh, I had such High Hopes!!! Especially at the beginning - when you could actually open the doors, look inside, and clearly identify what you were looking at!

But Noooooo! That's not how it's meant to be! I'm back to "shove it in any available open space" mode. Primarily because I have no choice! I've GOT to get the kitchen cabinets emptied out - and I realize (sadly) that I'm going to have to go through this exercise again - After the kitchen work is done.

Oh, yeah. And now that the garage pantry is full, I'm reduced to shoving sh*t in boxes. So far I'm doing "okay" with keeping stuff segregated properly. I've got one BIG box of Bakeware. Annnnnd (it was a challenge!) I was even able to tape it closed and have it retain it's rectangular shape (meaning I've gained another "horizontal surface" to pile sh*t on!!!). Ditto the "baking goods" (flour, sugar, cooking wines, vinegars, flavorings, little envelope/packets of sauces, etc.).

Like anyone cares about this stuff, right?!!! (Hey - there *might* be someone else out there who's going through a kitchen project themselves! Surely I can't be the ONLY one suffering!!!)

Anyway, the garage pantry is full; I have several boxes filled and - Aaack! - have run out of boxes!!! I sure hope I get some more Amazon shipments tomorrow! I actually do have one box left, but it's filled with Christmas Gifts ("Yes" she says in a sanctimonious tone "My Christmas Shopping is DONE!" "Nah-nee-Nah-nee-Nah-Nahhhhh!!!"). If I'm forced to use that box, I'll have to stop what I'm doing and start wrapping gifts instead (b/c - obviously - I can't have Rog see what I got him!)

Ohhhhh... And I have two HUGE piles in the garage (taking up about half the floor-space of a car!). One is designated: "Storage Locker" (that pile isn't all that big - thank goodness) and "Donate." The Donate pile is pretty big. Thankfully, this whole endeavor has put me solidly into a "GET RID OF IT" mindset (that happens VERRRRRY rarely!).

My New Manta: "F**k it! Chuck it!"

So I found a ginormous suitcase. It's actually a very nice bag and cost quite a bit, as I recall. It's one of those fold-out "suiter" kinda bags that sorta doubles as a garment bag. But the fact of the matter is, I HATE it and have only used it a couple of times (and it really doesn't hold all that much to tellya the truth). It's taking up Valuable Real Estate in the garage. So it's "History!"

And it's big enough for me to "hide" some of the pots/pans that (I hate to admit) probably have some "sentimental value" to Roger. He gets attached to some pretty weird things sometimes and - I mean no disrespect - but the mere fact that his mom gave them to him, 30+ years ago, is not sufficient reason to "keep them!" (Don't get me wrong, I, too, have more-than-my-share of "sentimental" and useless things as well - but I *can* let go!). I think his mom (bless her soul) would be glad to see this stuff go to folks who could actually USE them.

I figure, I've been living here since 2001. These pans have been stuffed in the far-back corner of the cabinet and have NEVER BEEN USED in all that time. We don't need 'em!!!

To be fair, there was ONE pan that he mentioned, specifically. An old Teflon pancake griddle (again, never been used in 7 yrs!). I did keep that. So there ya go!

(HA! Not to segue too far - but when I moved in, he did have a set of Teflon cookware, that his mom gave him 20+ yrs prior. When you'd cook with 'em, the non-stick coating would flake off into the food. I think I scrambled some eggs once, and we spent breakfast picking Teflon flakes out of our meal! Within a week, I'd gone out to K-Mart with mom. I bought a new set of cookware and told him "it was a gift from my mom!" I had a helluva time convincing him to "Let Go of the Cookware..." I did keep one of the lids from the original set - since it fit another pan I already had - so that's how we compromised!).

Anyhooooo... That's the Latest and Greatest from Kitchen Demo Land. I'd like to think that the "Worst" is behind me, but I doubt it! I still need to empty the DISH cabinet (dishes, coffee mugs and TONS of glasses). In fact, I think I may need to break-down and actually (GASP!) Buy a box or two that are intended for dishes/glassware... :::sigh:::

At least, at this point, I feel like I'm "Ahead of the Game" b/c the remodelers won't be here 'til the week of Dec 1. But you know how "Time Flies when you're Having Fun!" :::rolling eyes:::

Friday, November 21, 2008

Alien Abductions and DYMO Labels (Kitchen Reface Project - Phase I continued)

So, as I (Excuse me - I mean "Alien-Clone-Nan") continues the Kitchen Clean-up, I'm reminded of my Childhood Trauma (And Gawd-Knows, that's what BLOGGING is all about, right?!!):

Funny story: When I was a kid, Mom and Sis would go on these "Organizing Frenzies" in the house. Keep in mind that mom was always exceedingly anal-retentive and organized while I was growing up (things have changed, significantly, over the years!)

Mom was also *very* fond of her Dymo Labelmaker (You remember those plastic sticky strips with the raised letters? The ones that NEVER stayed stuck?!! Yeah, THOSE!!!). So mom and Sis were tackling the pantry one weekend - in their typically frenzied fashion (Everything they did together was ALWAYS frenzied!). Emptying everything, sorting, tossing, freakin' alphabetizing and putting little Dymo stickers on the fronts of each of the shelves, right? "CEREAL" "CAN VEGS" "SOUP" blah-blah-blah.

Somehow or other, I managed to coin a term (which "stuck" over the years!): "The O-Word" Whenever they'd do sh*t like that, it was like: "Oh no! It's the O-WORD!" and I'd head for the hills........ I mean, I couldn't BEAR to be around while all that was going on since they'd invariably find *some* need to screech at somebody! Or else- Gawd-Forbid -ask me to help or something! Ohhhhh nooooooooo!!!!!!!!

*This* particular apple fell nowhere near the tree. Not even the same orchard!

So anyway, after they were done with sorting and alphabetizing and labeling, I would ALWAYS make it a point to take, say, a can of beans and put it on the "CEREAL" shelf...

Yep - That's the kinda kid I was! (Still am, in fact!!!)

I'd get kind-of a sick thrill when (from a distance, of course) I'd hear my mother shriek "Who put STRING BEANS on the CEREAL SHELF????!!!!"

Ditto the Linen Closet (Nothing was spared the Dreaded Dymo!). "KING SHEETS" "PILLOWCASES" "TOWELS"

To be fair, a Dymo Label is what resulted in Sharon and I becoming "BFF." I lived at 898 M***** Ave. (It said so, quite clearly, on my Lunch Box!), and Sharon lived at 998 M***** Ave. (her lunch box was bereft of a DYMO label). She was new in our school, and when she saw me with my DYMO-festooned lunch box, she took that opportunity to introduce herself "You live at 898 M*****? I live at 998 M*****!"

The rest, as they say, is History............

So anyway, this "O-Word" stuff is very Foreign to me, and the fact that I have endeavored to address some of the - ahem - Org- Orrggn - Organzsh - Or-gan-iz-a-tional (There, I said it!) Issues - willingly, even - is quite disconcerting!

Is this what I've been reduced to?!! AAAACCCCCKKKK!!!

Yep. It's freakin' Friday Night and I'm about to head-out to the freakin' garage to "organize" some pantry shelves. I am SUCH a freakin' Party Girl!!! (Kill-me-now!!!!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kitchen Refacing Project - Phase I (continued)

Yeah... So, the explanation behind the previous picture - in case you couldn't guess! - is that I am in the process of cleaning out cupboards.

I've never really been known for my - ummm - "Organizational Skills" (And, as I'm *quite* fond of saying: "It's all Part of My Charm!"). Although, out of necessity (and/or if a gun is held to my head), I have actually demonstrated the rudimentary ability to muster up some semblance of order.

Of course, that's "order" by *my* definition!

Let's go back in time for a moment, shall we? I mused about this very subject many, many years ago - when I was living on a 32' cabin cruiser, floating on the San Francisco Bay.

An excerpt from my website

One of the first things I noticed about boats is that you really don't have a lot of "normal" storage - Not that I was ever exceedingly organized to begin with, but it's hard to get a sense of "This belongs HERE." Shellie Taylor [of a long-dead website about liveaboards] captured it brilliantly:

"I have empty lockers. Behind settees, under berths. I'm afraid to put anything in them, because I'll forget it's there, and if I need it I won't be able to find it, and if I don't need it, it will breed in the dark and make six more just like it, and there will be a thousand pounds of junk in hidey-holes that I'll never get to. I've developed a phobia against hidden junk; I'm discovering whole truck loads of it as I weed through stuff I can't imagine why I ever wanted, and as I weed through stuff my boat's former owner deemed precious enough to store forever. I don't want to store anything forever. I don't want to store anything at all; I want to strip life to its essentials so there are fewer things to own me and claim my time and my energy and space in my head and in my lockers. Things are a trap; they'll eat me alive if I let them"

So the first order of business was, of course, to figure out "where things go." That took several months (and [was a never-ending!] Work in Progress)... Tools live under the aft bench, heavier power tools under the salon floor... The blender lives under the galley bench, along with my food-processor and serving dishes. My non-functional oven has become an extension of my midget pantry... The list goes on and on... The interesting thing is, I've discovered a whole new way of looking at things - prioritizing by need. And I have finally accepted the fact that for every one thing I want, I will need to move six things to get to it...

And I have become positively anal about putting things away (Mom would be so proud!!)... It really doesn't take much to turn the entire boat into a disaster area. The good news is, when it is at it's worst, it only takes about 15 minutes to clean up!

[That theory holds true when you're living in appx 180 square-feet of living space. The clean-up time increases exponentially when you live in a house, I've discovered!]

FYI: Ummm, that whole "shove stuff into any available space" concept followed me to my present landlubber existence. Unfortunately, my "fear of acquiring new crap" did not!

* * * * *
So anyway, Rog is out of town again, and I figured this'd be the ideal time for me to start emptying/re-organizing the cabinets. Grant you, the re-face "work" won't happen for another couple-three weeks, but based on my, umm, "filing system," it's gonna take me at least that long to accomplish!!!

And I KNOW there are people out there who tackle projects like this "for pleasure." My buddy, Joisey Kathie, is sick like that. Likewise, Mom and Sis used to go on "Organizing Frenzies" with alarming frequency as I was growing up (which probably explains my pathological aversion to such activities - I was traumatized as a child!). Essentially what this boils down to is: This is very UN-Nancy-Like Behavior. And I am frightened to realize that I am doing this willingly!!!

Frankly, I'd prefer to think of it as "Alien Abduction" to tellya the truth. This just isn't NATURAL!

So the Aliens have temporarily abducted "Charming Nan" and replaced her with this bizarre "Clone!" Hopefully she can get everything done in a week.

FWIW - It's not *really* as big of an undertaking as painting the living room was (but it's about 3X as difficult - for me!!!). And it really *is* necessary. I forget that not EVERYONE has spent 6 yrs living on a boat and the concept of a tin-can avalanche occuring whenever you open a cabinet-door is not really "normal" for most people! In fact, when said cabinet is overhead, some folks might even call that "dangerous!" :::shrug:::

So anyway, in my quest to maximize our minimal cabinet-space, I decided to first tackle the "pantry" (actually, a utility cabinet in the garage).

The pantry purge produced the plethora of Pasta-Ronis and (alliteration-ends-here) BBQ sauces. Oh, and Jell-O. LOTS of Jell-O!!!

I bought a few additional shelves and moved the lesser-used "Electrics" (food processor, bar-blender, ice-crusher, waffle-maker, etc) out there. And I've started to move most of the canned stuff out there as well.

Although, now that I think about it... By moving the "Electrics" out to the garage, that frees up a lower cabinet where *maybe* I can put my bakeware and pots/pans.. And if I move THAT stuff then MAYBE the canned goods can live on the Lazy-Susan "Blind-Corner" shelf!


Oh Gawd.... I'm reshuffling the whole freaking kitchen now! And I have to be "Or- Orrrg- Or-gan-ized" to accomplish that! (I'm very frightened!)

"Breathe, Nancy... Breathe...." One-step-at-a-time...

* * * * *
See?!! This ain't EASY for me!!!

So anyway, that's the Latest! I've accomplished "quite a bit," so far - but I am nowhere NEAR done. In fact, you know that whole "It gets worse before it gets better" thing? Well, I am SOLIDLY in the middle of THAT phase of the project!

Pantry looks "OK" (so far) but the rest of the garage is a freaking disaster area. Good thing Rog is gone - there's no room for a car in there right now. And the "Hallowed Bastion of Manliness," the Work-Bench?!! HAHAHAHAHA. Sorry - all horizontal-spaces are fair-game right now! And that includes the "Not-So-Hallowed Bastion of Domestic Servitude," the Washer/Dryer, as well! I sure hope I don't run out of clean clothes anytime soon!!!

Why do I torture myself like this?!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kitchen Refacing Project - Phase I

So.... Ya know what it's like when you're at the grocery store, and ya can't remember if you have BBQ sauce or not, so you pick some up anyway 'cuz you can NEVER have too much BBQ sauce? Or when you see Pasta-Roni on sale for a "really good price" and you're not even sure if anyone in the house even LIKES Pasta-Roni, but it's "such a good price" so you pick some up anyway?

Well, *I* do!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Kitchen Project is a "Go!!!"

"I'm getting a New Kitchen!!!!" Yippy Kai-Yo Kai-Yay!!!!

We had our appt w/Kitchen Tune-Up ( this morning. This time, I dragged Roger into it b/c I was pretty sure that this was the company I wanted to contract with. They gave me a preliminary (sight-unseen) bid of $4,200 for a "Bare Bones" Reface project. "Just put new veneers up, and replace all the doors with plain, maple shakers" - for 21 linear feet of cabinetry. No pull-outs, No Lazy-Susans, No new drawers. No Nuthin'!

I was even willing to supply my own cabinet knobs ($30/dozen @ Home Depot)!

(I'd also asked for the "Lowest possible cost alternative" via email - and he gave me a quick, and honest response! "You paint the cabinet-faces yourself, and we install white RTF doors: Here's the price: $2,800")

...And I did my "Background Check" on KTU. Checked BBB: 0 complaints in 36 months. Checked the State Licensing Board: Current and up-to-date. They carry a bond and Workers Comp Insurance (all are current). Also checked a third-party site ( where people can "rate" contractors - I found nothing but Rave Reviews. I honestly couldn't find a damn thing wrong with 'em!

And it turns out he's an "Independent" kinda guy. Owns the business (it's a franchise of a larger company) and has minimal ppl working for him. Doesn't advertise - but the customers keep coming to him! And he's been around for awhile (at least they've been a BBB member since '05). I'm feeling verrrrry comfortable about my decision to go with them.........

Especially since he wasn't into High-Pressure Sales B.S. Didn't subject us to a half-hour 'presentation' about "How we're better than everyone else!" Didn't try to up-sell ANYTHING (Actually, he let his Idea-Lab "speak for itself"). He responded to emails and questions quickly and HONESTLY and didn't inflate the prices on anything. Yeah, I'm sure he's got his mark-ups - but they seem quite reasonable (based on the final price)...

* * * * *
I was really hoping I could keep the total under $4K, but after my "Gathering Bids" exercise (I talked to at least half-a-dozen Kitchen-Refacers) - I figured $5K was a more reasonable cut-off (Remember, we're talking "California Dollars" here!). The bids ranged anywhere from $4200 to $7900 (for Bare-Bones). All were OVER $5K - for sure (except for Kitchen Tune-Up - but, again, that was sight-unseen).

And what was particularly annoying - after gathering all the bids - I realized I did not receive ONE SINGLE DETAILED QUOTE IN WRITING from ANY of the Idiots - excuse me, Salesdroids - excuse me, "Kitchen Design Consultants" I'd dealt with! They all SAID they'd send me something - but never did. Hmph!

Oh - Another interesting thing I learned today (which really shouldn't have been a surprise). While we were discussing the type of cabinets I wanted/color of stain/yada yada, I pulled out one of the catalogs I'd gotten from one of the other Sales Reps. "Sorry for pulling out a catalog from your competitor..." as I was looking for a specific picture. Well, come to find out, THEY ALL USE THE SAME SUPPLIERS. Yeah, I shouldn't have been surprised (at least I hid it well!)... But why the HUGE price difference then?!! ("Don't go there!")


Now I knew, once we got in there, that Rog was gonna want to start "Adding" stuff (We've been together for almost 8 yrs now - I know how he operates!). Thankfully, the guy (the owner, actually) at KTU was not big into "High Pressure Sales Tactics" - which I greatly appreciated! (Roger's actually a sucker for a smooth-talking salesman!).

There were a couple-three things *I* thought we needed, but I wasn't gonna say a word. Much better for it to be "Roger's Idea!" So yes, we're getting new drawers (the old ones are warped and you have to wrestle with them) - 3 of 'em (Cha-Ching! $330.00). And yes, they'll replace the "bottom" of the sink cabinet (past-water damage and warped/lumpy particle-board under there) (Cha-Ching! $135.00!) . And yes, they'll paint the cabinet interiors white (Cha-Ching! $345.00) - but those items really are necessary.

We do have a couple of lower cabinets - in the corner - that are pure-hell to deal with (You probably know what I'm talking about. You need to get down on your hands and knees with a flashlight to probe the depths....). They did have a really nifty pull-out chrome-basket thingy that pivots so you can actually ACCESS the crap stuck in the far back corner (Cha-ching $521.00 - I had a hard time with that one, but the Lazy Susan really wouldn't give us enough storage), and a narrow-cabinet conversion with shelves so you can just pull it out to store smaller things like plastic baggie boxes, aluminum foil, etc... (I think that was about $200.00).

Wellllllll... We'd managed to drive the bid up to $6,000 and Rog started to scowl. I wasn't too happy either and was willing to forgo the nifty pull-out baskets and pull-out shelf conversion. But then Isaac (the owner) suggested we switch to a less-expensive, but equally nice-looking wood for the re-face: European Beechwood. We looked at it. Agreed that it *was* quite nice (grain is similar to maple - definitely not as "pronounced" as oak) - so we made the switch. And that slashed almost $1,000.00 off the price.

End Result: We signed a contract for $5,136.00, today. Isaac is coming out Monday afternoon to finalize the measurements and order the materials... Rog put it on his Mileage Plus Visa (so he'll get miles toward his coveted Elite [board-the-plane-first] Status), and we pulled the money out of our HELOC to pay it off.

While I'm not wild about increasing our debt right now - *I* think it's worth it. As it stands right now, our kitchen is definitely a "Fixer-Upper" in the Real-Estate World - so a $5k investment *ought* to pay for itself - in terms of the home's value (in the long run, I do think it's a good investment, honestly! 35 yr old houses should NOT have their "original" kitchens!!!!). And considering how much time I spend in here (30+ hrs/wk - when I'm working from home) - just "feeling better" about being in here has GOT to be a good thing!

With any luck, since we really don't have THAT many cabinets, there's a good possibility that the job will be completed by Christmas! Yayyyyyy!!!!

And if it happens, hell, I might even be willing to "Host" Christmas for the Famn Damily @ our place (though it'll undoubtedly be a "Boston Market" sort of affair. I'm not "up" for cooking excessively for the HollyDaze!)

If not - No Biggie. We usually spend Christmas up at mom's (and eat out) anyway................

Nevertheless, I'm a Happy Camper!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen....

(Kind of a cheesy take-off on something my mom/dad used to say "Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch" - which was probably related to old "Before-My-Time" Radio Shows!)...

No, I haven't completely abandoned the Kitchen Refacing Project. I just got side-tracked with the AWESOME vacation and requisite backlog of "work" that had amassed during my hiatus ("It's nice to be loved!" NOTTTTT!!!!)

The project is still a "Go" according to DH, so we shall trudge onward...

Interestingly, I got a call from Kitchenw**** the other day. From "Larry," their Job-Scheduling Guy. He wanted to follow-up on "Steve" the Salesdroid (this was the one who fubar'd and mentioned Granite Countertops in front of hubbie - despite the fact that I'd made it Crystal-Clear that Granite Countertops weren't gonna fly!) (Although, to his credit - he wasn't one of the condescending ones who didn't want to deal with "a woman" when it came to presenting the bid).

So anyway, Larry calls and asks about how-well Steve did his job of explaining things (yada-yada). I chose not to gripe about the Countertop Debacle but decided to keep it fairly succinct (How very Un-Nancy-Like!). "Yeah, he explained things fine - but quite honestly, the price was just too high..."

"Well, it's a good thing I called you then!"

["Oh, really?!" says the inner-voice, oozing sarcasm]

"Oh?" says the outer-voice [in a much more "PC" tone!]...

"Well, the holidays are approaching, and we like to keep our guys busy..." yada-yada (A friend had already mentioned to me - about how contractors of this ilk tend to have their work-load slow waaaaaaaaay down toward the Holiday Season - and how "holding out" could result in some pretty good deals)...

Well, bottom line: The original bid (among the highest, I might add) was somewhere in the realm of $7,700.00. Now, all of a sudden, they were willing to slash nearly $2,000.00 off the bid!

Which begs the question - "If you were willing to do the job for $5,700.00 - why are you yanking my chain and telling me it's gonna cost $7,700.00???"

But "PC-Nan" prevails, and the question goes un-asked! Instead, I reply that "I'll discuss it with my husband... Can I have your name and number and I'll get back to you?..."

Well, the total is still ABOVE the $5,000.00 cut-off - so it ain't gonna happen.

In the meantime, I get a FedEx Overnight Letter, extending the same $5,700 offer, so it seems like they're pretty desperate for business (Hmmmm... Maybe my theories about the economy and hard-times and all that crap weren't all that far off-base, after all?!!).

So Kitchen Tune-Up is still the front-runner in the race. Rog and I have an appt to meet with them tomorrow morning (so NOW I'm dragging Rog into it - so he can get edjamuckated!). Their bid was the lowest and all my research (State Licensing Board, BBB, etc) came up "clean."

They were also good about breaking out the bid (at least the preliminary bid via email) in such a way that I can get a good "Apples to Apples" comparison. One Additional Service that they offered was painting the insides of our cabinets a "light" color (for an add'l appx $400) - and the more I think about it, the more I like that idea. I think we can do that and STILL keep the total$$ under 5K...

Anyway, we'll meet with them tomorrow and hopefully get the process started to move this project forward!

More to follow, I'm sure............................................

The Nutra-Sweet Conspiracy!!!

Excerpt from an email I'd sent to Jenny of Blood Sugar 101 and the Diabetes Update Blog (since I thought this was more in her "realm" of expertise!):

So I had to visit the Vampire [aka "Lab"] yesterday. I was due for a Fasting Blood Test (HBA1C, CRP, Lipid Panel, Thyroid stuff, yada-yada). I'd "aided" my sleep the night before, somewhat, w/pharmaceuticals acquired in Mexico, so I could sleep-in and NOT deal with ravenous hunger between my normal wake-up time of 4:45-5:00am and the Lab's opening time of 8:00am (said time is also met with a verrrrrrrrrrrry long line of ppl and verrrrrrrrrrry long wait!). I showed up around 8:30am, dealt with the vampires fairly quickly, and went on my way...

As is typical, I was absolutely STARVING when I came out of there, and I didn't want to deal with cooking breakfast - so I took the "Ninety-Nine-Cent Heart-Attack" approach. (Yeah, over HALF of my daily caloric allotment and well-over my daily carb allowance!) I went to the Drive-Thru at BK and got a Croissandwich (ate less than half of the croissant and scraped the remaining croissant off the egg/cheese/sausage/bacon, so I could eat it!), Side of hash browns (only ate about 1/3 of 'em) and MEGA-SUPER-INDUSTRIAL-STRENGTH-sized coffee...

"You want cream and sugar with that?" queries the disembodied voice thru the scratchy speaker-box.

"Yeah, cream and Sweet 'N Low" I replied.

Well, I drove to the window and paid for my order. They gave me the goods.....

I drove home MORE THAN ready to nosh (my stomach was rumbling audibly at this point)!

Well, the "pink packets" they gave me were - NUTRA-SWEET!!!! Supposedly 'Extra-Sweet' Nutra-Sweet (according to the package anyway). But decidedly NOT saccharine! (In fact, the package was QUITE clear about stating that it was Saccharine-Free!)

Welllllll... Personally, I HATE aspartame and avoid it like the plague. I'm not actually "sensitive" to it (don't get headaches or any of the other 'nasty effects' that some folks have experienced), but I. Just. Don't. Like. It!

For most things, I use Splenda. But for coffee and tea (especially iced tea) - I really LIKE saccharine (probably b/c in my "formative years" when I first started drinking coffee and tea, saccharine was the only game in town - and I've just gotten used to it).

When I saw the PINK packets of Nutra-Sweet - I was simply aghast! I felt strangely "violated" - like "They" (the Nutra-Sweet Folks) were trying to pull a fast-one on me! (Well, not just ME - but the public, in general!!!).

I mean, seriously, after all these years we (the "General Public") have developed a certain "understanding" about all those packets in the sugar dispensers, right?
  • White is Sugar
  • Brown is "Natural" (unbleached) Sugar
  • Pink is Sweet 'N Low (or a generic alternative - but it's SACCHARINE)
  • Blue is Nutra-sweet (or generic aspartame)
  • Yellow is Splenda (or Sucralose)
I did a preliminary "Googling" of "Nutra-Sweet Pink" and haven't stumbled onto any "rants" just yet (Surprisingly!). But I might be Googling it wrong (Perish the Thought!). I did find that the manufacturer of Nutra-Sweet is starting to "market" three different variants of their product in Pink, Blue and Yellow packets (Pink is "Extra-Sweet" - but Saccharine-free. Not sure what that means; Blue is, evidently, reformulated - again - not sure what that means, and Yellow contains a smidgen of Cane Sugar).

Interestingly enough, I also found reference to some lawsuit back in the late-80's/early-90's about Nutra-Sweet getting their dainties in a wad when a competitor ("Sweet One") tried to "muscle in" on their exclusive-use of blue packets (brief description here: It appears that the court may have ruled against Nutra-Sweet in that case... So it seems like maybe now things are coming full-circle!

I lack the tenacity to pursue it much further. But I'm definitely going to be hyper-vigilant whenever I'm dining out - to make sure I *don't* end up using Nutra-Sweet (I carry "Emergency Packets of Pink Stuff" in my purse!).

Still.... I think it sucks that I have to "watch" for this stuff!

So that's my "rant" for today. Jenny's much better about "researching" stuff thoroughly. Turns out she's not a big fan of ANY kinda packaged artificial sweeteners (too much Maltodextrin, aka "dextrose," aka "glucose," aka "Bad for Diabetics!"), so this doesn't really fall under her realm of "Things Worthy of Pursuit."(Only so many windmills can be tilted, after-all!) (To be fair, she actually tackles Legitimate Issues like Flawed "Scientific Studies" - as opposed to "Meaningless Whining" about Aspartame being packaged in pink paper packets!

(Me? I'm All-About-The-Whining!!!)


Monday, November 10, 2008

November Blues.........

This is *not* my favorite time of year. Days are getting shorter (SIGNIFICANTLY shorter!); Weather is getting cooler (SIGNIFICANTLY cooler!); Holiday Madness is just around the corner (and I am, decidedly, *not* a Shopper!)...

I just came back from a simply freaking awesome vacation and really have nothing legitimate to complain about - yet I still do!!!

("I am woman... Hear me bitch!!!!").

Actually, the "timing" of the vacation was pretty bad. See, I know the last week of October is when Summer is Finally, Unequivocally OVER around here. On November 1, the thermostat gets turned WAAAAAAAY down!

And WATER starts falling from the sky. You know, that "rain" stuff???

So getting home on November 2 - with all of Outdoor Furniture still "out" - was actually a Bad Plan...

It's weird though: The Saturday I left (Oct 25), Rog was out at the Tiki Bar, swimming in the pool and working on his tan! On November 1st, temps had dropped a good 15*, it had already rained over an inch, and he spent the day shutting down the pool completely!

All in the space of ONE WEEK!

So anyway, I spent part of last week emptying and re-shuffling all the stuff in our backyard shed - trying to make space for all of the Summer Furniture. I tackled the Re-Org in smaller chunks - which was good b/c I no longer have the strength or stamina I used to have! And this past Saturday was a Race-Against-The-Clock - trying to get the Big Stuff broken down and put away!

"Scattered Showers" were predicted. Normally, I'd laugh that off. And "showers" this time of year are usually very mild sprinkles.

Thankfully, I got off my hinder fairly early on Saturday morning, and managed to break down both of the palapas (Palm thatch umbrellas: Big, heavy and unwieldy!) before the "scattered showers" (actually, freaking mini-monsoons!!!) hit! Good thing, too. Wet palapas are heavier still! Plus they'd have to dry before I stowed them away b/c they have a tendency to, well, get all nasty and moldy!!!

Rog also helped with moving some of the bigger items to shelter - Pool Floatie Lounges; Fridge; Sink-unit; Barstools; Loungers, etc.

So, much was accomplished this past weekend. Not ALL of it is done - but most of it. I've decided to tackle the rest, one-piece-at-a-time.

Oh, and I've got to finish moving my Tropicals back into the greenhouse. THAT was a challenge b/c my Plumerias are starting to turn into TREES! Next year, I don't think they'll fit through the greenhouse door - so I'm not sure WHAT I'm gonna do with 'em!!!

Breaking down the yard is always depressing. It's so lush and gorgeous during the summer months - and soooooo bleak and dreary in the winter!


So I've found myself in a bit of a "Funk" for the time being. Hence, the minimal blogging. Hopefully I'll pull myself out of it soon. I've been trying the whole "Count My Blessings" Routine (of which there are many, actually!), but so far it ain't workin'!!!

Oh, well..........

We ARE going to get our last bid for the Kitchen Project this coming weekend. Maybe starting a "New Project" will give me something to focus on and kick me OUT of this malaise!!!

I'll check back in when my mood has improved!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm baaaaack!!!!!

:::sigh::: Back to Work! Back to Reality!!!

Wow - A whole week with no internet! And I survived!!! No DT's or nuthin'!

Turns out the ship did have functional WiFi (this trip!) - but it cost $$, and I was too cheap to pay for it. Besides, I was too damned busy (or exhausted!) most of the time to sit in front of a computer.

Unfortunately, I also fell woefully behind in tracking my BG#'s on my spreadsheets. I've got 'em in the meter, but after a week's worth of testing - and all the other stuff that's fallen behind in the Real World - I figured "Screw it!"

I did manage to maintain my #'s. "Pretty well." "Most of the time." But boy did I manage to EAT as well!!! Bad, Bad Nancy! I don't know the final tally in # lbs gained (my scale says "OUCH" when I step on it!). But I figure if the last 10 lbs went on quickly, they should probably drop off fairly quickly as well (Gawd I hope so!!!). My weaknesses were bread/pastries - I'm normally not much into bread but the stuff they served on the ship was to die for!!! And those horrible fru-fru umbrella drinks. I did bring some Baja Bob's powdered Margarita Mix, and some Sugar-Free Hawaiian Punch Singles, but I got sick of 'em, and those Pina Colada/Daiquiri Things they served were soooooooo tasty! (and undoubtedly 90%+ High Fructose Corn Syrup!). So I did definitely have my share of "blips" into the 200's (but I got 'em back down in a hurry, as well).

Soooo... Now I'm back-on-track. 100% Low-Carb AND Low-Calorie 'til I get back "under control." Although today I managed to have a hypo @ 59 and had to pop a couple-three glucotabs - and, okay, maybe a couple of leftover Halloween Kit Kats! (But I only got as high as 108 - so not too bad!)...........

It helps that Roger's out of town again - and we were pretty much out of groceries. He won't be back 'til late Weds so, in the meantime, there is NOTHING here to tempt me (Except for the aforementioned Halloween Candy - which is going to the office TOMORROW).

As for the cruise - aside from eating like a freaking pig - we had a fantastic time. Sharon, as expected, was all "Go-Go-Go-Go-GO!!!" at the beginning of the trip. So much so, I couldn't keep up!!! So there were a couple of times when we were on-shore - she wanted to wander a bit more than I wanted to (/was capable of!), and I had to excuse myself. Sux that I get exhausted so quickly now (it was oppressively hot and humid - so that didn't help much!).

Cabo was one of those stops. She wanted to hike 400 miles over to the shopping center (after we'd just taken a Water-Taxi Tour that rivaled any bucking horse I'd ever been thrown from!). I won't say that she's into shopping, per se. But I'm definitely not a shopper - AT ALL (and I've been to Mexico so many times, I've pretty much bought all the Touristy Crap I'll ever need) (Oddly, I still don't own one of those big obnoxious sombreros, though!). So Sharon had a little bit of alone-time on-shore while I went back to the ship to take a nap!!!

Mazatlan was a pretty good stop. What was really good, was the fact that Rog and I had done the exact same cruise in April - so I had a chance to do some reconnaissance work and had determined that booking a tour in Mazatlan would not require a lot of walking for mom (Very important consideration - she really has difficulty walking any further than, say, half-a-city-block). They have Trams that pick you up at the ship and drive you to the port-exit. Then the Tour Operator met us right there. We did have to walk a short distance to get to the - not quite sure what you'd call it - kinda like an open-air pickup truck-taxi sorta vehicle! It drove us directly to a large motorized Catamaran for a tour of the waters just outside the harbor (saw some cool rock formations, some dolphins, sea lions, etc.).

Mom gets a little weird about boat-rides however (Strange to think - since she loves cruising so much!). She managed to convince herself she was seasick... Then hypoglycemic - and, of course, she doesn't carry her meter!

"Ma - The cruise ship rocked more than this boat is rocking! It's all in your head!"

"Well, I think my blood sugar's too low then..."

"Give me your finger" - as I whipped out my meter! She was 98.

"See! That's LOW!" she proclaimed.

"No it's not mom, it's perfectly normal!"

I ended up giving her two glucotabs just to calm her down. :::rolling eyes::: (Her BG typically runs in the 110-160 range - but she topped 300 one night after choosing a dessert that I *knew* to steer away from! I told her to go for the Sugar-Free option, but she refused!)

Anyway, the Catamaran dropped us off at "Stone Island" (which is more of a peninsula, than an island). The trip to the restaurant was in a tractor-drawn cart - that mom couldn't really climb into - so they arranged for us to be taken in a private car (which I thought was very nice). The car was scary in it's own way, however (floorboards had long-since rusted out and there was plywood for a floor!!!). Very short walk to the dining area which was an open-air restaurant overlooking the beach... Hot and humid, but with a nice sea-breeze so it was really quite pleasant. Food and beverages were included with the package (food was mediocre and drinks were weak - but the tour was cheap, so what can you expect?!). We had the option of selecting several different activities while we were there (Banana boat ride - but Sharon doesn't swim. Snorkeling was also "out." Horseback riding - but I would NEVER subject a horse to my weight!!! Or a City Tour in the Tractor Cart. We ended up paying an extra $25 apiece and Sharon and I went racing down the beach on ATV's for half an hour. Now THAT was FUN!!!!!!!! There were small dunes on the beach so we got to "jump" the ATVs a little. And the wind in the face was a definite plus! I'd never ridden an ATV before and it was waaaaay different from a motorcycle. Took me awhile to get the hang of steering the thing. And every time I stopped, I wanted to put my foot down on the ground!!! But once I got used to it - it really was a LOT of fun! Mom stayed at the restaurant and just enjoyed the breeze and watching the waves (and waving off pushy vendors!!)...

It was definitely a full day for mom - and I'm glad we managed to get her off the ship.

Puerto, as always, was my favorite stop. I LOVE Puerto Vallarta - but it makes me sad every time I go now, to see how much it's grown. It used to be like a sleepy little fishing village and now it's starting to look like freakin' Waikiki with all the tall buildings, hotels, condos, and overall "commercialism." I've been to Puerto - ohhhh, at least half a dozen times. First time was back in the 90's, I think. I went with Beverly, an internet buddy from my old AOL chat-room days (Bev's the one who ultimately got me the job I'm working at now - and yes, we still keep in touch fairly regularly). And we had a great time!

Rog and I went there the year we met - and had a fantastic time. In fact, we went deep-sea fishing on that trip and Rog was playing Eeyore all day long "We're not gonna catch anything. We're gonna get skunked..." And it seemed to be true because the fishing was pretty lame for most of the day. But the night before, I'd purchased a silver marlin pendant and I declared that it was "The Magic Marlin" and that we most certainly WOULD catch a fish that day! As the day wore on, I started rubbing the Magic Marlin and chanting "Heeeere Fishy-Fishy-Fishyyyy!" (Gotta have a magickal incantation, after all!). Soon Rog joined in and he, too was rubbing the pendant and chanting... Well, at the very end of the day, they were getting ready to haul in all the lines and turn the boat towards shore when the captain, up on the tuna tower, shouted "Feesh ON!!!" We turned and looked, and hell's-bells! We had hooked a sailfish! There was one other couple on the boat and we all took turns fighting the fish (who really didn't put up much of a fight, IMHO). Rog was the one who finally landed him, and the deckhand hauled him up on deck. Boy, THEN he started to fight! We've got this big ol' wet, slippery sailfish flopping madly on-deck (with a very long and deadly-looking spear on his nose!). The deckhand hands me this HUGE bat while he's trying to subdue the fish and prevent him from skewering the tourists! (it's bad for business, dont'cha know?!). I'm all "What the hell am I supposed to do with THIS?!!"" Turns out - he just wanted me to HOLD it until he got hold of the bill, then HE whacked him over the head til he was dead (Okay, that's not a very glamorous story, is it?!!).

Well, long story short, the other couple really didn't want the fish - but Rog had been complaining that he didn't have anything hanging on the walls of the den. Our den is very woodsy and cabin-like - one wall is pine paneling, and the ceiling is vaulted w/more pine and big wooden beams. Pretty much, our den was just screaming for a dead-fish to hang on the wall and, as luck would have it, we just happened to catch a very large (and now very dead) fish. So we had him stuffed and shipped home! We've named him Ramone, after our favorite bartender at the Pelicanos Resort!

Oops - I'm digressing again, aren't I?!

So THIS time, Sharon and I went on a Jungle Tour. Saw the jungle where "Predator" was filmed. They had zip-lines, and a natural waterfall/slide thingie (neither of which I participated in - too tired!). Gawd was it hot and humid there! And NO breeze to speak of! You could wring me out like a sponge after THAT trip! But it was fun. Our tour also took us to a Tequila Factory where we sampled their products. Got a bit of a Sales Pitch about how good their stuff was - how they don't export it - how you can only buy it here but it's THE BEST yada yada. They would have happily sold us a bottle of their mid-grade stuff for - ahem - USD$95.00. "Uh, no. I don't THINK so!"

Sorry, it wasn't THAT good!!!

("$95.00 - are you freakin' kidding me?!! Jeesh!")

That's the downside to cruising: The prices on-shore are tripled when the cruise ships are in town (which is one of the reasons why I like land-based vacations).

Oh, and we stopped for lunch at a restaurant that was owned by a Mexican-who-moved-to-Montana, who-learned-to-be-a-chef, then moved-back-to-Mexico. I had Shrimp Costa Azul. Large shrimps, stuffed with cheese, wrapped with bacon and grilled, and served with a light (not-too-sweet) pineapple sauce. Oh my GAWD - it was positively orgasmic!!! I think I'll have to do a little culinary experimentation and see if I can't duplicate that. Lunch wasn't too terribly expensive (by US standards, anyway). I think it was about $20 US. Definitely worth it!

Back to the Ship: While we were on-board, the ship hosted some Halloween Parties. Sharon and I came prepared w/costumes. I was a Witch (Black velvet cape, black velvet hat - PERFECT attire for a hot, humid, tropical vacation!!!). Sharon was a Devil. Funny story there: They have the equivalent of TSA (aka "Take Scissors Away") working at the pier. We had to go through Security. I had a plastic broom w/orange mylar broomy-stuff which, fortunately, I was able to squeeze into my big suitcase. Sharon had a red Triton with soft neoprene-like foam on the pitchfork end. It didn't fit in her suitcase, so she was carrying it on-board. Well, since mom was in a wheelchair, we pretty-much got to breeze through Security, but, as we went through, they took Sharon's pitchfork and offered no explanation. She had to chase-down the gal that took it to find out what was going on (she, naturally, assumed that they were just going to run it through the X-Ray machine separately or something). Well, come to find out, they freakin' CONFISCATED IT as a "weapon!!!" A soft, bendy, foam-rubber pitchfork COULDN'T go on the ship!!!! Too Freakin' Ridiculous!!!

It's not like it was the end of the world though. Sharon clearly looked like a devil - even without her triton. I still looked like a witch (yes, my broom did make it through security!)

Funnier still: While we were walking to the Halloween Party (before I managed to sweat-off all of my green make-up!), we passed a little Asian lady who called out "Noncy?!!" I turned and looked back - didn't recognize her and we kept going. She runs up behind us and grabs my elbow "Noncy?!! It IS you! Noncy!!! You don' lemember me?!! You were my superwiser long time ago!!!" Holy Cow! It took me a minute, but it was a Vietnamese lady named Kim - and yes I *was* her supervisor many, many, MANY years ago! (Probably at least 15 years - this was back at BofA - when I had a staff of about 30 Proof Machine Operators). "You come ower here! Phu Nam, she is here too! I want to see if she lecognize you!"

I'm all - Dang! - What are the odds of THAT happening?!! Actually, it was very cool! We chatted a bit and caught-up. She knew I was married now "Annie told me." (Although, how Annie knew, I have no clue!). I *know* word's gonna get back to all of my old employees. They were a very tightknit group - most of 'em were "Fresh Off the Boat" immigrants - and I was fortunate to have been 'integrated' into their little family (Kind of unusual for a whitey like me!)

...So yes, a Grand Time Was Had By All!

And, surprisingly, the room worked out pretty well for the three of us. Ship's staterooms are not known for being particularly spacious - and I was worried about 3 women and all the clothes and luggage fitting in - but it worked out extremely well. It helped that we are all pretty close friends and extremely considerate of each other. The room had two twin beds (that were close-enough together to count as one queen!), and a fold-out sofabed. Sharon chose the sofabed (which was actually the largest bed in the room). Mom and I were flailing about every night whacking each other in our sleep! (So Sharon made the best choice, I think!). We also had a balcony - which made it feel a lot bigger - and was a Godsend because I like my morning coffee (24-Hour Room Service!) and cigarette to start the day...

Although - by the end of the week - I think I'd had my fill of "Togetherness!"

We pulled in to San Pedro on Sunday morning and I drove us all the way back to the Bay Area (I think it's about 400 miles). We pulled up to my house by about 6:00pm-ish (or thereabouts), and I was a freakin' Zombie! Rog and the dogs were very happy to see me.

Rog flew out this morning - he's in Baltimore right now - and I'm really enjoying my "Alone Time" now. He'll be home on Wednesday night and, by then, I should be back into my normal routine again (Ugh! Work!!!).

Anyhoooo... Just wanted to report back that the vacation was AWESOME!!! I wanna be back on the ship!!! Especially since somebody stole summer while I was gone!!! Our pool is now officially CLOSED and there's WATER falling out of the sky now - Waaaahhhhhh!!!!

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