Pumpkin Penne

I was having a conversation with an old co-worker the other day and she mentioned Rachel Ray’s pumpkin pasta and asked if I had ever had it.  I had not and used one night this week to make it.   I read several reviews of the pasta before I tried it and decided to add Italian Sausage to the recipe also.  Now, I know what you’re thinking – pumpkin pasta with sausage sounds gross.  It was really good.  It doesn’t taste overly pumpkin-y, just a delicious plate of yummy fall foods.  If you’re looking for something different and tasty, I do recommend it. 

Employed!

I received the phone call this morning offering me the Training position at the newest casino in St. Louis, which will be called River City.  I immediately accepted the offer and start work a week from today. 

~~~whew!~~~

Very happy to have full time employment in a field that I really enjoy, training and development.  Excited to help this property open.  Property openings are a lot of hard work, a lot of fun, a lot of chaos and I will love to bring my organizational efforts to the project.  Excited to have influence over a casino property and their training regime.

Still on the fence a little about going back to casinos.  I spent about 5 1/2 years with Harrah’s Entertainment in positions from catering and banquets, to leadership training to change management for onboarding new brands and properties and eventually customer satisfaction.  I then left casinos.  There were many reasons at that time to leave: a pending move back to St. Louis, a spineless exec at the top of the leadership pyramid, the writing on the wall that my department was going to be downsized significantly when the company went private, and some shady firing practices around me were all signs that I was done there.  Much of that was property specific.  I’m joining a different company, one that is smaller, has fewer properties and more potential for growth. 

I had no answer for the standard question: Where do you see yourself in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years.  I managed to begin to give an answer and then slyly turn the conversation in a different direction, because I have no idea.  I know that starting next week, I’ll go to work, I’ll do the best work I can, create solid training programs and deliver them with enthusiasm.  I’ll help the hiring staff fill the casino with employees willing to work to carry out the mission of the company and fulfill guest needs.  One day down the road, I’ll find out what comes next. 

Thrilled to have gotten this position within a month of coming back to St. Louis, thrilled to have insurance and benefits, thrilled to be in a training capacity.  I will take all those pros and quite happily disregard my con list for the time being. 

Cheers to employment.  I can’t wait to get to know you better.

Things I like today…

* That they finally make gummi vitamins for adults. Thank you One A Day!

* Using the WiFi internet from the coffee shop below me.  Some may call it stealing, but I’d like to point out that my landlord recommended it.  Not paying for cable or internet is cool.
* Mad Men!  Finally getting around to watching it and enjoying a character driven drama.  I’ve watched so much Law and Order that I was really becoming desensitized to the madness of violence and anger.  Mad Men just makes me angry when they treat the women like dimwits. 
* Those candy pumpkins that are in the same family as candy corn, only, you know, pumpkins.  Candy corn I don’t love, but those pumpkins!  Yum.  I’ve cut a really small hole in the top of the bag, just big enough to eek one out at a time. 

Consider the Pomegranate

Let’s talk about this Sunday so far.  I woke up on the couch, where Quinn and I fell asleep last night.  I’ve learned Quinn will sleep anywhere I am because my apartment is cold.  I just can’t bring myself to turn the heat on yet, although it was 39 degrees last night.  I got up and went to the grocery store for my first crock pot meal of the fall!  I needed to get it all in the slow cooker by 10:30 or so, so this was good motivation to get moving.  While at the store I noticed squash were crazy on sale so I picked up a Golden Acorn and Butternut Squash – I believe some soup will be made later this week.  Right next to the squash was a large display full of pomegranates.  It was appealing.  What does one do with a pomegranate?  I do not know, but I bought one, and I’m going to find out.  Stay tuned later this week for how the pomegranate adventure pans out.  I picked up the rest of the dinner ingredients and got back home.  Dinner is not fancy – it’s a recipe that I’ve adapted from Sandra Lee while I was living in Louisiana.  See my recipe at the end of this post.
I also bought the Sunday paper while out, it’s my favorite thing to do on a Sunday morning.  Usually I like to watch Food Network while reading the paper.  Since I do not have cable yet, I just threw in old episodes of West Wing on dvd.  I will always default to an Aaron Sorkin show, or a bad movie intended for 13 year old girls.  I also took advantage of the fact that I live above a coffee shop this morning and picked up a non fat, sugar free vanilla latte.  Ahhhh, Sunday morning complete.  I’ve finished reading the paper, blog browsing and now I’m off to the library to see if they have any Boston travel guides.  Alex asked me to start thinking about plans for my upcoming trip and if there’s anything just outside of Boston I’d like to see.  I’m not completely aware of what my options are so research is in order. 
Then home for dinner later – reminder, this is not a fancy meal.  It has canned soup involved.
1 pound beef cut into one inch cubes (I buy the pre cut stew meat)
1 can Golden Mushroom soup
1 cup sliced mushrooms (I used baby portabellas)
about 1/3 cup red wine (whatever is on hand – today was a Malbec)
1 package of dry onion soup mix
Put all ingredients in a crock pot, stir, set on low, and 8 hours later spoon over cooked egg noodles. 

Letting the sun shine in

Good day!  It’s time I posted a few pictures of the new place.  I went curtain-makin’-crazy when I first moved in.  The master bedroom has four windows, which is really lovely.  Two of these windows look directly onto the 2nd floor deck of my neighbors house.  These were priority one curtains – hide the neighbors.  I had bought the new comforter which has chocolate brown and rust orange on it and wanted some opaque curtains to match pretty well.  I found two fabrics I really liked at the fabric store.  Neither of them were long enough to make full length curtains.  I thought I could combine them, and combine them I did. 

 
 When I took these I hadn’t hung any of the artwork on the walls behind the bed yet, so it looks like a lot of blank space.  Rest assured I’m working hard to cover up some walls.  What is also hard to tell from these pictures is that the brown fabric is rich and textured with a leaf pattern.  I think it’s a great match to the feel of the room.
It was a harder search to find the perfect fabric for the living room curtains.  I was on a quest for a fabric that would match the put together, yet shabby chic look I’m going for.  A white background with a red print is the fabric that I had in mind.  Fabric stores had this, but the prints were all very small and with large windows I needed something bold.  On my last trip to St. Louis from Chicago I stopped at Ikea to look at their curtain and fabric selection.  Found some fun stuff.  None of it was what I was looking for.  Until I walked through the bedroom section.  I found a duvet cover that was exactly what I was looking for.  I looked around to see if they had sheets that matched.  They did not.  So, I bought the duvet cover and knew I could cut it into four lengths and just hem up the sides.  The bonus was that this was a super easy way to make lined curtains which looks even nicer from the outside.  They came to gether super fast and they are exactly what I wanted. 
Also in my living room is a table that is quirky and near to my heart.  I refer to it as “roadside table” because my very industrious father found it on the side of the road near an asphalt paving job his company was doing and he brought it home.  This is not out of character for my father at all.  He was all about “free-cycling” before it was trendy and green.  I brought this table to college with me, to the first house I lived in after college and everywhere since.  I’ve painted it to match whatever room it was in.  I imagine I will continue to do this with every move I make.  I am not a clutter person.  I do not like knick knacks, I don’t need lots of things on lots of shelves.  The exception is framed photos.  I love the look of a cluster of frames on a side table.  So clustered you can’t even see them all.  I think it looks comfortable and homey.  So that is “roadside table’s” current function.  Hold the photos.
 
It’s a hodge podge of frame types and sizes and events and people.  It makes me happy.  Also making me very happy in my new place is the return of my baby cat, Quinn.  When Colin and I first separated I left Quinn with him, as he had the larger house and moving a cat is really no fun.  For my recent birthday, Colin gave her to me.  He’s on the road an awful lot for his job and Quinn was getting lonely and starting to act out in angry cat ways.  She’s been here one week and really starting to do very well – understanding where everything is, feeling at home, jumping up on furniture and counters.  In fact, here’s a picture of her on top of the refridgerator.  I knew we’d be okay when I came into the the kitchen one night to find her there.  
Lastly, speaking of kitchens, let’s talk about dinner tonight.  It’s a Chicken Saltimbocca dish that I had at a friend’s house a couple of months ago and it was delicious.  I’m making a few adjustments – I don’t have proscuitto at the house so I’m just leaving it out, and I’m coating the chicken in panko bread crumbs instead of flour just because I can.  I’m making a side of orzo pasta and wilted spinach.  
Ahh, healthy eating. 
Can I tell you that I have been Ice Cream free since October 1!  My biggest food vice is nearly conquered.  I’ve replaced it with sugar free, no calorie Jell-o cups or a mug of sugar free hot chocolate.  Not the same, but not half bad. 

I got your ten things right here…

My pal Cyndi has passed on a little blog fun to me.  I’m sorry it took me a few days to get around to playing along, but moving back to STL officially and doing some getting settled has had me a little busy.

Cyndi passed onto me the Honest Scrap “award” and I was touched to see that it means the following:
“is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant. This award is about bloggers who post from their heart, oftentimes put their heart on display as they write from the depths of their soul.”

I certainly hope that this is an honest and safe place to talk – I’ve certainly needed it as an outlet when I feel like there is no one who really wants to hear me blabber on about how confused I am or what kind of mess I feel I’ve made of things.  The rules of this “award” state that I link back to who sent it to me {Cyndi}, brag about it a bit, and then share ten honest things about myself…

  1. I love McDonald’s McGriddles.  Love them.  The combination of bacon, egg, cheese and pancakes is delicious.  I know the perils of McDonalds and gross foods like this so I only indulge on the occasional road trip – but I love them.
  2. I had to work really hard to like coffee.  I was not raised with coffee drinking parents, but my favorite grandparents drank it and their house always smelled like coffee.  I really wanted to become a coffee drinker, but don’t really like the taste of it.  I’ve worked hard, and it’s an acquired taste, but I can get through a cup of honest to god coffee – not the mocha, milk laden stuff that I started off with.  On the flip side, I was raised with beer drinking parents, and I can’t drink more than 1/3 of a beer without being disgusted by the idea of taking another sip.  
  3. I was once knocked out by  kid throwing a frozen orange on the playground.  I was in 7th grade, the orange had rolled outside of the lunchroom, the kid was just trying to see how far he could throw it- I was not the target, but he had lousy aim and the thing exploded against the side of my head.  Ahh, honesty and embarassing stories – a double bonus for you, my reader. 
  4. I do not like it when people use the phrase “Think outside the box”.  I think it’s diluted and quite frankly I think we often don’t use the tools in front of us – we don’t need new tools, we need better carpenters.
  5. I joined Weight Watchers yesterday.  I clearly need a push in the right direction to lose the sad weight I’ve put on.  It sounds kind of lame and old lady-ish, but I know when to ask for help.  Wish me luck.
  6. I am bad at math.  I could work out a logic problem or word problem better than I can do simple restaurant math.
  7. I’m addicted to buying makeup, but not really wearing it.  I love to go to Sephora, Target, Walgreens and browse makeup and pick up new stuff, but I don’t ever do much with it.  
  8. I don’t wear colored nail polish.  I think it makes my fingers look short and fat and like they don’t belong on my hands.  Weird.
  9. I don’t sleep very well.  It’s getting a little better, but it’s been like this since the last year of college.  I just dread the idea of going to bed.  The day I finally asked a doctor for help and got a Lunesta prescription was one of the happiest days of my life. 
  10. I love disco music.  It may be my favorite genre.  It’s just so spunky.  

There you have it.  Ten things you may or may not have known about me.   Now…back to unpacking…