Sunday, January 8, 2012

Dontcha Hate it When Employees.... [Insert annoying verb here] the Office

A list of ten office annoyances in no particular order because they are all particularly annoying.

Dontcha hate it when....

1.) .... you’re in the vicinity of a “loud talker”. This person seems to yell on the phone and to their visiting co workers. They even talk to themselves too loudly. And when they decide to use the speakerphone, you decide to use your earplugs.

2.) .... a co worker comes into work even though they are sneezing, coughing, and nose blowing. You wish they would stay home, get better quickly so they can come back and do their fair share of work. Instead they choose to spread their germs around the office, get everyone else sick and be counterproductive. Don’t they know that’s what “sick days” are for?

3.) .... you overhear personal and/or health information. Make appointments for the removal of ingrown toenails and discuss the “nitty gritty” details of a messy divorce from the confines of your own home, please.

4.) .... your deep thought process is interrupted by the constant sound of gum snapping, fingernail tapping, drink slurping, pen clicking, or lip smacking. You wonder “where’s your manners??”

5.) .... you are having an A-B conversation with a co worker and employee C stops by to add their “two cents”. A lot of the times, cubicle settings and crammed offices can put employees in close settings making it impossible not to overhear most conversations but it would be nice if everyone would mind their own business.

6.) .... your office mate is always singing, humming, or mumbling. Save it for the shower!

7.) .... something is smelly. Wether its last week’s microwaved tuna delight or the scent of a post gym workout. Fragrant foods are meant to be enjoyed in the break room or outside and showers should be taken after working out. Those experiencing reactions to food such as belching and flagellants should immediately excuse themselves to the bathroom!

8.) .... your refrigerator property is used or discarded despite what seems like countless efforts of appropriately labeling and strategically placing goods.

9.) .... the coffee pot is empty, the printer needs paper, or the bottle needs to be switched out on the water cooler. After it happens so many times you start to wonder if you are the only one that takes care of these issues.

10.) .... the sound of an obnoxious cellphone ringer fills the room. That is what the “vibrate” function is for!

Most people would think that the pet peeves listed above would be such obvious “no-nos” but unfortunately there is at least one culprit  guilty of each of the ten in every office.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Skimp on the Barbie?

June, 2010 - if someone would have told me I would still be shopping for a grill a year from now only to end up with a Wal-Mart Special which more than meets my expectations, I wouldn't have believed them. 

after some thorough research, these are the grill features that I decided I couldn't live without prior to the purchase:

price range = < $400

must operate on propane fuel - although charcoal offers a more flavorful finished product, I knew I didn't want to spend the time or energy f'ing with coals and lighter fluid. natural gas wasn't an option since I don't have a hook up at the place that I rent. 

must have a side burner - gotta be able to cook burger toppings and sides without having to go back and fourth to the kitchen. 

must be cute -  surprisingly it was impossible to find a pink grill. guess stainless steal or red would suffice. 

must have porcelain covered grates - I read that they are easier to clean. 

must be of adequate size - 3 + burners with a good size cooking surface area. I want to be able to throw a party and cook more than 4 burgers at a time. 

BTUs - I don't care. there are way more important things to worry about. 

grill was purchased in June of 2011. please see actual results below: 

price range = < $400 $200. I was toying with the idea of moving to an apartment and/or leaving SD. I figured if I pay less than $200, and managed to avidly use the grill for at least 2 months, I could sell it for like $100 and still make out. 

must operate on propane fuel - although charcoal offers a more flavorful finished product, I knew I didn't want to spend the time or energy f'ing with coals and lighter fluid. natural gas wasn't an option since I don't have a hook up at the place that I rent. check

must have a side burner - gotta be able to cook burger toppings and sides without having to go back and fourth to the kitchen. the grill I ended up with who by the way is now know solely as Sh'Antel (name explained below) has the side burner but still have not used it due to its sensitivity to the wind. the BBQ is situated close to the kitchen door so its not a big deal to use the stove for toppings and sides. 

must be cute -  surprisingly it was impossible to find a pink grill. guess stainless steal or red would suffice. decided that my best bet would be to go with a big black girl {grill} and name her appropriately.. will compliment my patio decor regardless of the color scheme. i read too many reviews that complained about stainless steel becoming discolored over time. I learned that you probably wouldn't get a good grade of steel on any grill below $500. 

must have porcelain covered grates - I read that they are easier to clean. porcelain covered seems to be working out fine but I'm concerned that the coating might peel away like that of a Teflon pan? you are supposed to discard pans on the first sign of peeling due to health concerns. I wonder if this is the same for coated grates? solid porcelain seems like a better way to go. 

must be of adequate size - 3 + burners with a good size cooking surface area. I want to be able to throw a party and cook more than 4 burgers at a time. the one I ended up with has 463 square inches of cooking area. its more than enough space for the majority of the time when I'm just cooking for me and the roomies. it was a good size for the BBQ of 50 + people that I threw shortly after the purchase. Parties that size would be few and far between... especially if I moved to an apartment; guess I could have gone smaller but I have no size complaints this time (for once). 

BTUs - I don't care. there are way more important things to worry about. Sh'Antel features 46,000 BTUs -10,000 of that goes to the side burner.  you cant tell how hot a grill will heat based off of BTU's alone, but I read that 100 BTUs per square inch of cooking area is a good rule of thumb. That means that Sh'Antel's heating capacity is a little on the low end. this has not been a problem for me. maybe burgers take a few seconds longer to cook than usual? not noticeable. 

the next time I purchase a grill, it needs to have a storage cabinet (for obvious reasons) and a warming rack that is connected to the lid (so that the rack moves with the lid when you open it). I've burned myself a couple of times trying to reach food that is under the warming rack. 

necessary grill accessories:

water/weather proof cover - don't think you will pull it in and out of the garage. you won't. I tried. 
metal tools - spatula, tongs, fork
cleaning brush - no need for the double sided one. you only need the wire brush. brush off the grates after each use while the grill is to hot is the easiest way to maintain its cleanliness. 
non stick tray - to prevent small veggies, etc from falling through the grates
oven cleaner (fume-less) - use it once a month to deep clean your grill. 

unnecessary grill accessories: 

slider holders - the cooking surface varies too much in temperature. its easier to just turn the sliders one at a time an place them on the warming rack as they become ready to serve. 

fish baskets - just put it on foil or a non stick tray maybe a wooden cutting board that has been soaked in water?

smoker / wood chip boxes - I don't know. just doesn't seem worth the hassle. 

Miss Sh'Antel

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sandwich Anatomy 101

tips for successful sandwich construction

  •  start with quality ingredients. hearty artisan bread (ew, no Wonder Bread),  flavorful cheese (yuck to American Cheese), grainy mustard, and fresh produce.
  • make now? eat now! if you want to pack a sandwich for lunch, bring the ingredients and assemble when you are ready to eat. 
  •  layer your sandwich using the following order:

  1. bottom slice of bread
  2. mayo -spread on the bottom slice. I think its gross but I guess this is where it would go
  3. cheese - you're not allowed to make sandwiches without it
  4. lettuce or spinach - to shield the tomatoes from transferring their wetness onto the bread
  5. tomatoes - they will make the bread soggy if not properly placed 
  6. salt, pepper, oil, vinegar - the tomatoes need some seasoning
  7. onions - the meat tastes better when onions touch it (ha! that's what she said...)
  8. meat
  9. mustard - thin layer of mustard spread thinly on the top slice 
  10. top slice of bread
Your sandwich should look something like this when completed:
Bread: F&E Green Chile Sourdough Loaf
Meat: F&E Honey Roasted Turkey
Cheese: New York White Garlic Cheddar (Henry's Deli Counter)
Mustard: leftover packet from my desk (oops forgot to bring the good stuff to work)
Tomatoes: Roma- they are less seedy and perfectly sized for sandwiches
Yellow Onion
Organic Spinach

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Buddy System

let me just say that I'm thinking that this may be somewhat of a controversial post. but its something that I have created and adapted to over the last year or so and it works well for me. I think it is a very healthy concept and I want to share it with you. 

so, "The Buddy System" is a classification model for organizing relationships. after all, you don't have the same relationship with all 400 of your Facebook "friends", do you? Yet we call them all simply "friends"..... the model is divided into 5 groups. lemme break it down for you:

Cooperative Acquaintances: people that you see regularly at an establishment that you frequent. you probably met these folks at the bar or gym. you know their name (maybe not their last name). you don't have their phone number. 

Acquaintances: maybe you met these people at a co-op and hung out elsewhere a few times. networking would be appropriate. also, people that you have started talking to after losing touch for several years.

Friends: people that are on your Friday night "lets do something" text list. Friends are people that you help move and that you take to the airport. roommates. 

Good Friends: people who you can confide in, trust with secrets. you've known for a while or felt like you've know forever. you call them when you've had a bad day. they get invited to your super small, remote wedding. 

Best Friends: the 5 people that pretty much can do no wrong. as Lisa would say "Non Sexual Life Partners (NSLP)". you would have no problem listing these folks on your "emergency contact list" or calling them to bail you outta jail. they are IN your wedding. 

The general "rule of thumb" when using this model is to realize that nothing is permanent or exact and if someone has to ask where they fall, then its prolly in the "Cooperative Acquaintances" category. 

Happy New Year! :\

Monday, December 27, 2010

Bon Voyage!

tips that can take the edge off of traveling:

flight shopping
do research before you buy. remember to directly check airlines' web page instead of just using travel search engines. Southwest is currently the only airline that does not charge for checked bags so consider the cost if you plan on using another airline and checking a bag. 

hotel selection 
do it after you have booked your flight. same thing: do your research about pricing, amenities and location. 

the art of packing light can be difficult but not impossible. pick a color scheme of 3-4 colors. Go with neutrals plus one bold color family (ex: a peacock influence would be blue, purple, green) include items that can be easily layered and interchanged. for example, for my last trip to SF (4 days), I chose brown/cream, black, grey, and peacock with copper colored accessories. I brought the following:

grey wool coat
black jeans
denim jeans (usually only need 1 pair but it was raining a lot this weekend)
purple long sleeve shirt
black tank
cream dress 
black yoga pants (PJs)
cream tee (PJs)
grey & black hoodie
green button down top
brown, flat oxfords
black rain boots
sheer black tights
black cross body purse 
black & cream scarf

that's it. so many combinations are possible if you put some thought into it. liquid toiletries need to be in 3oz increments and carried in a ZIPLOCK BAG. bring a good paperback book and an iPod armed with good tunes, podcasts, or audio books. Kindles are nice too. Pack at least a week in advance. this will give you enough time to remember to include items that might be forgotten in a last min panic. 

i know you'll find it hard to believe, but I just discovered that you can check into your flight online 24 hours before departure. genius! dress comfy but not sloppy. wear yoga pants (track pants for boys), and a tee or a jersey knit/cotton dress.  a zip up hoodie, slip-on shoes or boots (so you don't have to put them in your luggage). less is more. ditching the belt and other accessories will help you fly by TSA. speaking of TSA, once you get through the security scanning, take your shit away from the line before putting it back on!!! My ultimate pet peeve is when people put everything back on while standing just past the x ray machine. CANT YOU SEE YOU'RE HOLDING UP THE  F'ING LINE????!!!!....Anyways... use a TSA Approved LAPTOP CASE and remember that laptops need to go in a separate tray when putting your belongings through the x ray machine. This is where you take out your toiletry bag, too. 

waiting for your flight
airport bars can be awesome. you meet lots of people from all over everywhere. at $10 a beer, being social comes with a high price but whatev, you're on vacation (hopefully)!!!

in air transit
you should avoid checking luggage as much as possible. best case scenario is having a carry on that fits under the seat. then you don't have to line up like cattle as soon as boarding begins and fight the masses for overhead storage. don't get totally wasted on the plane unless you have the isle seat (or traveling with someone that doesn't mind getting up every 15 min so you can go tinkle). the food is usually better in the airport than on the flight so get food before boarding if you need to. remember that awesome book and fully loaded ipod? now is a good time for them! if applicable, text your ride as soon you land.  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Na-Na Why Don't You Get A Job"

unemployed? looking for a change? this is how you get a job: 

the resume:
a resume is just a piece of paper (resume paper is always nicer). you can be whoever you want to be on it. each time you submit your resume, you should edit it to include key words listed in the job description of the position that you are applying for. remember - it's okay to stretch the truth. only fib about skills about tasks that you may not have much experience in but are totally capable of doing. use fancy words to describe your skill set. I think having your resume professionally (re) written is a good investment. it costs about $300 and you can usually pay in installments. I used JOBFOX .

the cover letter: 
your cover letter is your first impression. use it to grab the reader and spark their interest. include key words from the job description just like you do for your resume. 

the hunt:
okay. you have your ressie and your cover all ready to go. now its time for the shitty part. look often and look thoroughly. get yourself into a routine of looking every day at the same time (excluding weekends). Utilize all of the job boards out there like: MONSTER, CRAIG'S LIST, HOT JOBS, JOB FOX, THE READER, SD UNION TRIBUNE and CAREER BUILDER. frequently check the websites of companies that spark your interest. hiring a head hunter or looking to a recruiting agency is something to consider depending on what industry you are in or want to get into. Whatever you do, don't use Apple One. APPLE ONE YELP REVIEW

the interview: 
do tons of research on the company and the hiring managers you will be interviewing with. if its a phone interview, be prepared with notes, have the company website up but don't make it obvious by shuffling papers or loud typing. I'd say it would be alright to have one sheet of notes on the top page of a professional looking notebook for "in person" interviews. be ready to answer COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS. bring extra copies of your resume and cover and offer it to any manager that shows up without a copy. dress to impress. unless you are looking to be a bartender, server or retail rep, you really should wear a suit. it can only help, not hurt your chances. if you are trying to get a bartending, serving or retail position wear an outfit that will fit into feel of the establishment. dressing your best subconsciously increases your worth to the employer. bring work samples. I find presenting them via your laptop or iPad always produces favorable results. people are impressed by technology. 

the references: 
its important to keep in touch with a few key people from each of your past companies so that you can use them as business references. choose people that your worked closely with (preferably managers). employers like references that have fancy titles. ask before permission before you use someone as a reference and give them a heads up whenever you do so. for personal references, use friends that know your strengths and can portray trust and confidence over the phone and email. 

the follow up:
say thank you. its may be old fashioned to send a "thank you card", but it a nice gesture and a subtle reminder to get the ball moving on making a decision. these days a "thank you" email is sufficient as well. it should read : "Thank you for taking the time to talk to me about the _________ position. I am really excited about the opportunity and look forward to hearing from you in the future." short & sweet.   you can also follow up by phone, email or in person on your resume a few days after you submit it. some posts tell you not to contact them so make sure that's not the case before doing so. 

the offer:
do your research to find out what similar positions pay in your city. I use SALARY.COM. if you can, try to avoid disclosing your salary requirement. If the employer asks what you want to get paid, say "what is the salary range for the position?". give yourself at least a 10% raise. if the employer asks how much you made at your last job, and you made $60,000/yr tell them $70,000. that way, if they undercut you a bit, you still come up. you get the biggest raises when you switch companies. if for some reason, your salary expectations are too high for the employer, tell them you are willing to be flexible for the right company (and also depending on which benefits are offered). remember that paid time off is usually also up for negotiation.

I was looking for a new job for almost a year. be patient, it's a full time job looking for a full time job. good luck! 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Height of Comfort

often associated with the cooler seasons: Comfort Food.

comfort food - food that is simply prepared and gives a sense of wellbeing; typically food with a high sugar or carbohydrate content that is associated with childhood or with home cooking. 

I'd like to think that my take on comfort food leans toward the gourmet side; everything I make is from scratch (for the most part, anyway). Below, I will share some of my favorite recipes including modifications that [I think] produces a more desirable outcome. Click on the title to see the recipe. 

my all time fav. this recipe is actually called "Lighter Macaroni and Cheese" but there is nothing "light" about the way I make it. I use a 9" Pyrex glass baking dish instead of the ramekins: who has time for that?! I skip the nutmeg and cayenne and substitute it with a dried Italian herb mix as well as granulated onion and garlic. I always use a pinch of chicken bullion in place of salt whenever possible. sharp or extra sharp cheese will work. depending on how rich you want your mac cheese to be, you can use 2% reduced milk, whole milk, half & half, or heavy cream. I find that store bought bread crumbs work better for this recipe because they tend to be crispier. put the breadcrumbs in a oiled pan with a couple tablespoons of milk and cook until browned before topping the mac cheese. 

try adding a few extra cloves of garlic. you can never have too much garlic! substitute milk for half & half or heavy cream. you can use a steaming basket to cook the potatoes or boil in chicken/veg broth for extra flavor. I use a hand mixer with only one of two beater attachments instead of a masher. Once the potatoes are cooked and mashed, I sprinkle with chopped green onions. If solo, serve topped with shredded cheddar cheese and beef gravy in a martini glass. 


the recipe is not online so if you want to make it, you will have to buy the book. Or message me and I might share with you. ;) It calls for mushrooms but I prefer the traditional carrots, peas and corn. I used Gordon Ramsay's Short Crust Pastry recipe (also in this book). I made the mistake of substituting regular flour for wheat. not a good idea. wheat flour is more dense so you need to use a lot less of it if. ooops!

I changed a lot of things; pretty much just used the recipe as an inspiration. instead of dicing the potatoes, its a lot easier to use a mandolin or the wide slicing blade attachment on the food processor. not to keen on the chunks after the mixture is completely cooked, I'll split it up in a few batches an quickly run each batch through the blender. freezer friendly for up to 2 months. 

sorry the pic didn't turn out but I'll post one next time I make it... free form meatloaf is the way to go! I find if the onions are very coarsely chopped, they keep the meat moist as it cooks making it virtually impossible to over cook. serve with Garlic Mash.